Monday, June 29, 2015

Leonard Cohen - "Everybody Knows (live 1988)"

New York Gay Pride Parade 2015, Todd Heisler/The New York Times (red shoes!)

Paul Cadmus
Manikins, 1951
Egg tempera on paper
13 x 16 inches

Saturday, June 27, 2015

In a lot of ways, I am at my core a golem of popular culture. I built my self-concept out of the books that shaped me, and even though it can now walk around on its own and eat dinner and fall in love and have opinions and all the things an organic creature does, if you rubbed out the magic words it would collapse into a pile of dusty tomes. When my authors die, I have to mourn.

- "In Praise of Good Omens"

Friday, June 26, 2015

From their beginning to their most recent page, the annals of human history reveal the transcendent importance of marriage. The lifelong union of a man and a woman always has promised nobility and dignity to all persons, without regard to their station in life. Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions and offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm. Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.

....The petitioners acknowledge this history but contend that these cases cannot end there. Were their intent to demean the revered idea and reality of marriage, the petitioners’ claims would be of a different order. But that is neither their purpose nor their submission. To the contrary, it is the enduring importance of marriage that underlies the petitioners’ contentions. This, they say, is their whole point. Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities. And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment. 

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
I really did not think I would live to see this. Holy fucking wow.

Thursday, June 25, 2015



Get on your knees and pray, baby! We are coming in on a wing and a prayer, God help us.

- Tennessee Williams on the staging of a late play, 1962

someone said to me yesterday

"Oh, that's right, I forgot you express affection through books."


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

There is no war on drugs because you cannot have a war against inanimate objects. There is only war on drug addicts. Which means we are warring on the most abused and vulnerable segments of the population. You can see left and right of the war on drugs and you can see it is not working.
But you know what, I have a different point of view. If decade after decade, after decade, after decade, if the intentions of the policies are not being realized; in fact the opposite is what is happening … maybe it's serving some purpose, the raison d’etre of repressive apparatus is that it can be used against the people when the need arises. Is it really a failure or maybe it has a function of demonizing a certain section of population, that justifies more repression. Maybe it has a function of keeping the legal apparatus going, maybe it has a function of making a money for a lot of people, maybe it has a function of fueling the privatization of incarceration industry.
So maybe it is not a failure at all. And from that perspective, was the Vietnam War a failure? No, not at all. It was militarily. But, the end result was that US took control of the economies of Southeast Asia. Is the Iraq War a failure? Well, it is for the people who died there, for a half a million Iraqis who died it is, but it is not a failure for American oil companies. So that everywhere we have to be careful before we call them failures. Somebody wins. The somebody who wins are the same people who destroy neighborhoods, communities. It is the same system that undermines human health, that undermines dignity, that undermines human connections and makes life less tolerable on this planet. 
Now, we don’t have to agree on what the solutions might be. And that’s okay. But what do we agree on is the importance of speaking for truth,  but what we do agree is on importance of people getting together and struggling in a healthy way for different life.

Raymond Chandler on writing

Monday, June 22, 2015


We’re waiting on the storm to hide the wake
Bringing you up to the surface
Dragging you up to the shore
Holding you up to the sun like "Is this yours?"
It’s yours
Last December my friend Stacia’s fiancé committed suicide. As friends and family gathered immediately to her home I waited until the right moment to pull her aside and listen to her pain which at the time was so bone-crushing that I thought her tiny frame would collapse beneath the weight of it. I held her as she sobbed and screamed and pounded her fists into her thighs, a wailing, “WHY!” punctuating every sentence. I did not know about that quote at the time, but I did finally pull her close and say, “I know you are angry and hurt. And you’re going to be angry and hurt for a long time. But I know where he had to be to do this to himself. I know that kind of pain. I have lived with that kind of pain, and I know that you loved him so much that if you had the tiniest glimpse of the agony he must have been feeling in that moment that you would grant that he did not do this to himself. His depression and suffering did this to him.”
Stacia and I have always been close since we met in 2009, but since her fiancé’s suicide our friendship has become one of the strongest I have ever had. I have spent many nights with her listening to her cry, holding her as she continued to ask why, as she talked of the plans they had made, the memories they had already created. Early on in her grief while listening to the anguish in every word that she spoke I had a sudden realization that if her fiancé could somehow witness this devastation, this ongoing trauma that will last for years, this haunting unknowing that will come back in waves throughout the rest of her life that maybe it would have been the one thing that could have pulled him back from that edge. The grief you might cause when you think about suicide is very abstract. It’s not a real thing, at least not in the confines of your compromised brain. Often you have convinced yourself that no one will miss you.
If he could touch her grief with his hands would it have mitigated his own?

"Vixen," W.S. Merwin

Comet of stillness princess of what is over
       high note held without trembling without voice without sound
aura of complete darkness keeper of the kept secrets
       of the destroyed stories the escaped dreams the sentences
never caught in words warden of where the river went
       touch of its surface sibyl of the extinguished
window onto the hidden place and the other time
       at the foot of the wall by the road patient without waiting
in the full moonlight of autumn at the hour when I was born
       you no longer go out like a flame at the sight of me
you are still warmer than the moonlight gleaming on you
       even now you are unharmed even now perfect
as you have always been now when your light paws are running
       on the breathless night on the bridge with one end I remember you
when I have heard you the soles of my feet have made answer
       when I have seen you I have waked and slipped from the calendars
from the creeds of difference and the contradictions
       that were my life and all the crumbling fabrications
as long as it lasted until something that we were
       had ended when you are no longer anything
let me catch sight of you again going over the wall
       and before the garden is extinct and the woods are figures
guttering on a screen let my words find their own
       places in the silence after the animals

"Somewhere It Still Moves"

I was having dinner with my friends Howie and Francine.
The restaurant was old, maybe five hundred years:
whitewashed walls great black beams on the ceiling,
no windows. We felt we were in the midst of history.
As Americans, the past seemed absent from our country.
The waiter kept knocking his head with his fist, trying
to explain something. The only words we knew were Pivo-
beer and Dobro-good. Hitting his head like that,
he seemed to be telling Howie he was stupid. First
he would form his hands into a circle, then he would give
his forehead a smack. The waiter wore a white jacket,
black pants. Perhaps he was twenty-five. Okay, said Howie,
sure. Bring it to me, whatever it is. This was Sarajevo,
the spring of 1989. A week of poetry readings, meeting
other poets, strolling with ice creams, attending the Saturday
night dance at the old hotel, no different than dances
I had attended in Iowa or Pennsylvania or Detroit.
Near the Princip Bridge a pair of bronze footprints
were set into the sidewalk. We each placed our feet
into these bronze souvenirs. This is where Princip stood
when he shot the Archduke and his wife. When the waiter
bought our dinner, there were our plates and on Howie’s
plate a paper bag., like the bag in which a schoolboy
packs his lunch. Howie opened it carefully. Brains
in a bag, lamb brains cooked in a paper bag. We recalled
how the waiter made a circle, then knocked his forehead.
This was Howie’s dinner, He was delighted. He could
barely breathe for all his laughter, We all laughed
and drank red wine. The other tables were filled
with happy people, men and women eagerly discussing
the subjects of their passions. When the door opened,
there was music from the street and a warm breeze
smelling of foliage and the dust of a thousand years.
There was the constant clatter of silverware on dishes.
The waiter laughed with us. He is probably dead now.
Killed by a sniper as he crossed a street or stood
by a window. The restaurant, the entire block, has been
transformed into rubble, so many rocks at a crossroads.
I’ve seen pictures in the papers. And those other diners,
those easy eaters, those casual laughers? Some
on one side, some on the other, some blown to pieces,
some shot in the head. Scattered, scattered.
But all that came later. On one particular evening
The waiter brought his tray with a paper bag on a plate
And we laughed. A fragment of that sound is still traveling
so far out into the dark, and arrow perhaps glittering
in the flicker of distant stars. Somewhere it still moves.
I must believe that. Otherwise nothing else in the world
is possible. We are the creatures that love and slaughter.

-- Stephen Dobyns

Sunday, June 21, 2015


I love my neighbourhood

As we were coming back from the grocery store, we passed one of the local Big Gay Bars on the way home. I overheard the female bouncer asking a bunch of guys with bristle cuts and very good posture (looking pretty fit in T-shirts too), "Are you guys military?" They said yes. She said, "If you show your military ID card at the bar, you get a discount, just so you know."

That made me very, very happy.

I always quote this bit this time of year

“Why candles?” objected Daisy, frowning. She snapped them out with her fingers. “In two weeks it’ll be the longest day in the year.” She looked at us all radiantly. “Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it.”

“We ought to plan something,” yawned Miss Baker, sitting down at the table as if she were getting into bed.

“All right,” said Daisy. “What’ll we plan?” She turned to me helplessly. “What do people plan?”

- The Great Gatsby

Friday, June 19, 2015

transcript of Jon Stewart's remarks on Charleston

I have one job, and it’s a pretty simple job. I come in in the morning and we look at the news and I write jokes about it. And then I make a couple faces and a noise, and then it’s just cha-ching and I’m out the door. But I didn’t do my job today. So I apologize. I got nothing for you in terms of, like, jokes and sounds, because of what happened in South Carolina. And maybe if I wasn’t nearing the end of the run or this wasn’t such a common occurrence, maybe I could have pulled out of the spiral but I didn’t. And so, I honestly have nothing other than sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other in the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal yet we pretend doesn’t exist. I’m confident, though, that by acknowledging it, by staring into that and seeing it for what it is… we still won’t do jack shit. Yeah. That’s us.

And that’s the part that blows my mind. I don’t want to get into the political argument of – guns and things and blah – what blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves. If this had been what we thought was Islamic terrorism it would fit into our – we invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over, like, five or six different countries – all to keep Americans safe. ‘We gotta do whatever we can’ – we’ll torture people! – ‘we gotta do whatever we can to keep Americans safe!’

Nine people shot in a church. What about that? ‘Eyy, what’re you gonna do? Crazy is as crazy is, right?’ That’s the part that I cannot, for the life of me, wrap my head around. And you know it – you know that it’s gonna go down the same path – ‘this is a terrible tragedy’ – they’re already using the nuanced language of lack of effort for this. This is a terrorist attack. This is a violent attack on the Emmanuel Church in South Carolina which is a symbol for the black community. It has stood in that part of Charleston for 100-and-some years and has been attacked viciously many times, as many black churches have. And to pretend that – I heard someone on the news say, ‘well, tragedy has visited this church’—this wasn’t a tornado. This was a racist – this was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater. You know, so the idea that – you know, I hate to even use this pun, but this one is black and white. There’s no nuance here.

And we’re gonna keep pretending like, ‘I don’t get it, what happened? This one guy lost his mind,’ but we are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it, and I cannot believe how hard people are working to discount it! In South Carolina, the roads that black people drive on are named for Confederate generals who fought to keep black people from being able to drive freely on that road. That’s – that’s insanity! That’s racial wallpaper. You can’t allow that. Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them, who wanted to start some kind of a Civil War. The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina, and the roads are named for Confederate generals, and the white guy’s the one who feels like his country’s being taken away from him.

We’re bringing it on ourselves. And that’s the thing – Al-Quaeda, ISIS – they’re not shit compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.

Our guest tonight is an incredible person who suffered unspeakable violence by extremists, and her perseverance and determination through that to continue on is an incredible inspiration. And to be quite honest with you, I don’t think there’s anyone in the world I’d rather talk to tonight than Malala [Yousafzai], so that’s what we’re gonna do. And sorry about about no jokes.

- watch

Thursday, June 18, 2015

fucking heartbreaking

This morning, I spoke with and Vice President Biden spoke with Mayor Joe Riley and other leaders at Charleston to express our deep sorrow over the senseless murders that took place last night.
Michelle and I know several members of Emanuel AME Church. We knew their pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who, along with eight others, gathered in prayer and fellowship and was murdered last night, and to say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families and their community doesn't say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel.
Any death of this sort is a tragedy. Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy. There is something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship.
Mother Emanuel is, in fact, more than a church. This is a place of worship that was founded by African Americans seeking liberty. This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshipers worked to end slavery.
When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings, they conducted church services in secret. When there was a nonviolent movement to bring our country in closer line with our highest ideals, some of our brightest leaders spoke and led marches from this church's steps.
This is a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America.
The FBI is now on the scene with local police, and more of the bureau's best are on their way to join them. The attorney general has announced plans for the FBI to open a hate crime investigation. We understand that the suspect is in custody, and I'll let the best of law enforcement do its work to make sure that justice is served.
Until the investigation is complete, I'm necessarily constrained in terms of talking about the details of the case. But I don't need constrained about the emotions that tragedies like this raise.
I've had to make statements like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times.
We don't have all the facts, but we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hand on a gun.
Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let's be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn't happen in other places with this kind of frequency.
And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it'd be wrong for us not to acknowledge it, and at some point, it's going to important for the American people to come to grips with it and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.
The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked, and we know the hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.
The good news is I am confident that the outpouring of unity and strength and fellowship and love across Charleston today, from all races, from all faiths, from all places of worship, indicates the degree to which those old vestiges of hatred can be overcome.
That certainly was Dr. King's hope just over 50 years ago after four little girls were killed in a bombing at a black church in Birmingham, Alabama.
He said, "They lived meaningful lives, and they died nobly. They say to each of us," Dr. King said, "black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely with who murdered them but about the system, the way of life, philosophy which produced the murders. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American Dream.
"And if one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him and that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace."
Reverend Pinckney and his congregation understood that spirit. Their Christian faith compelled them to reach out not just to members of their congregation or to members of their own communities but to all in need. They opened their doors to strangers who might enter a church in search of healing or redemption.
Mother Emanuel Church and its congregation have risen before from flames, from an earthquake, from other dark times to give hope to generations of Charlestonians, and with our prayers and our love and the buoyancy of hope, it will rise again now as a place of peace.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My brain, my mind, my soul -- whatever terrestrial or transcendental organ you choose to assign responsibility for the functionality of my person -- does not work. It is broken, and it has consequently spent the duration of its existence trying to dismantle itself. My better angel is defective, and the manufacturer has been extremely uncooperative in my attempts to obtain a replacement. Indeed, much of my treatment has involved convincing myself not to approach the executive prematurely, to demand an explanation of his organization's incompetence.

- Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Fletcher Wortmann

Friday, June 12, 2015

this song never fails to make me happy

so if you're ever feeling down
grab your purse and take a taxi
to the darker side of town
that's where we'll be

and we will wait for you
and lead you through the dance floor
up to the D.J. booth
you know what to ask for
you know what to ask for

If I ever do get a tattoo, it'll probably be this

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I hardly know which is me and which is the inkstand. . . . The confusion in one’s mind doesn’t so much matter—but when it comes to putting bread-and-butter, and orange marmalade, into the inkstand; and then dipping pens into oneself, and filling oneself up with ink, you know, it’s horrid!

- Lewis Carroll

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

it is eighty degrees here (which, in a five-story apt building from 1912 with shitty ventilation and no A/C, means it's about eighty-five or eighty-six -- and the high today was eighty-five) and I can't fucking think

Typically this time of year it's like sixty-five degrees! And it'll be raining! WHAT THE SHIT
If Whitman supplies the hand that the soldier now lacks, however, he also provides the sight that the soldier dare not use: he "dares not look on the bloody stump," but Whitman does and we as readers do with him. In doing so, and in making us do so with him, Whitman supplies the recognition the soldier, token of the People, cannot or dares not supply for himself. That recognition is now one of dismemberment and disunion, which is why the People's innocent lack of self-knowledge has been replaced by a fear of self-knowledge. But the recognition, the compulsion Whitman imposes on himself and us to look, itself supplies a compensatory -- and substitutional -- wholeness. If the soldier cannot complete the visual circuit between himself and his maimed body, a circuit which would provide him with at least some psychological unity even though it would require acknowledgement of his having lost a hand, the poet can complete that circuit for him. If the People cannot acknowledge their division, and thus end up internalizing it, the poet can provide the acknowledgement and thus offer a means of possible amelioration and reunification.

- Whitman Possessed: Poetry, Sexuality, and Popular Authority, Mark Masla

the manuscript of "Dulce Et Decorum Est"

British Museum

The crossed-out stanza reads:

Then somewhere near in front; Whew...fup, fup, fup,
Gas-shells? or duds? We loosened masks in case,-
And listened. Nothing. Far rumouring of Krupp,
Then sudden poisons stung us in the face.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The human lifespan seems incredibly short and frustrating, and for me, one of the best things about being a reader, let alone a writer, is being able to read ancient Greek stories, ancient Egyptian stories, Norse stories—to be able to feel like one is getting the long view. Stories are long-lived organisms. They’re bigger and older than we are. And the frustrating thing about having 60 years or 80 years or, if medical science gets fancy, 120 years, is that actually 1,000 years would be really interesting. You want to step back and go, “Where do you get this view?” and where we get it from is passing on stories, and handing down knowledge and experience.

You sit there reading Pepys, and just for a minute, you kind of get to be 350, 400 years older than you are. I’ve always loved the idea of making things longer, changing perspective. And part of looking at things in the long term is also, I think, in a weird way, worry about the future.

- Neil Gaiman

Saturday, June 6, 2015

a softer avenger

But reading is socially accepted disassociation. You flip a switch and you’re not there anymore. It’s better than heroin. More effective and cheaper and legal....I read the way a junkie shoots dope.

- Mary Karr

(This somewhat supports my long-held private thesis that addictive types don't really change their personalities, but they sometimes manage, with great wrangling and effort, to slide their addictive behaviour over onto something else that won't fucking kill them: writing, reading, exercise, cooking, music, whatever.)

"He was destroyed enough to pull the trigger, and I was not."

In the recent Mad Max movie (which is TERRIFIC, by the way, and you should go see it IMMEDIATELY) there's a bit where the evil warlord sprays his warboys' mouths with silver paint before they go into battle. I've seen a lot of nice theories about what this means: it's related to the chrome of the vehicles in the post-apocalyptic desert demolition derby, it's his way of depersonalizing and marking them, and so on. It took me a little bit to realize that some people didn't know this was probably also a method of getting them high, because why would you know such a thing if you didn't have to? ("Is it a special kind of future paint?" "No, you can do that with spraypaint today." "Today?" "Yes." "....Oh." Trust me, that's not a conversation that's fun for anyone.)

T recently rode the bus back to Seattle after a job interview in Renton and there were these two people wayyy at the back of the empty bus who kept screeching and shouting (his words). Finally he looked back, and it was two huffers -- they were sitting there taking turns spraying paint into a bag and breathing in the fumes (BEST WAY TO KILL YOUR BRAIN EVER, seriously, it makes crack look like candy) and to add insult to injury....the paint was not silver.

(ME: Was it silver? Was it silver? T: NO. ME: ?!?)

T told his seatmate, who was asking what the fuck was going on back there, what exactly the fuck it was that was going on back there, and the seatmate then went up and complained to the driver, who said something like, What do you want me to do? Who do you think is driving the bus? which the seatmate found annoying, but I thought it was HILARIOUS.


Altho whenever I see people doing shit like that, I feel kind of pained and humbled, because they're desperate. You have to be fucking desperate to sit there and breathe fumes from a bag, in the middle of the day, on a bus. I got off the ride before it went that far for me, but plenty of people don't, because they can't. They don't have the "willpower" or the support or the money or the job or the family or the fucking magic beans that would let them change their world that little bit enough that they could stop. They would if they could, don't get me wrong, it's not enjoyable, sitting there huffing paint in the back of a bus. It looks from the outside like it's enjoyable enough to make them throw everything else away -- why the hell else would someone do such a bizarre thing? outsiders think -- but that's because people don't understand what's going on, unless it's happened to them, and get it exactly backwards. The old joke is that you drink to erase the pain caused by your drinking, but that's actually a real cycle and once it starts up you need the strength of Samson to break it.

 It always makes me think of the swerve in Lucretius, which I learned about at St. John's when I was eighteen years old and too young to know what the hell it was really about. The clinamen is a tiny motion, barely an event, impossible to predict: "at quite uncertain times and at uncertain intervals they swerve slightly out of their course — just enough for one to be able to say that there has been an alteration in their movement"; the only thing separating it from non-existence is the fact of its existence, like Newton's derivative. That swerve is what saves us from nothingness, where atoms "would all fall downwards like drops of rain through the depths of the void; no collision would take place, no one atom would strike upon another; and so nature would never have produced anything at all." People have argued for centuries about what this really is, but since I'm an alcoholic and an addict I know, so I will tell you: it's the difference between me and those people huffing on the bus, if there is one. I didn't deserve to get it any more than they didn't deserve to. I hope they can still find a way to get it, somehow. I wish I could give it to them, that somebody could.

Friday, June 5, 2015

see, now that's how you fucking win my heart forevermore

The rationale, I suppose, is that Lecter must be truly evil—and therefore truly fascinating—if he is clever enough to maintain such control over his surroundings, and such a chokehold on his truncated emotional spectrum. Yet “evil,” as we define it, often has little to do with control. Violence and cruelty are far more likely to issue forth from a lack of autonomy as they are from confident mastery. This has been the case even in the most fantastic of past fictions—even, in fact, in Hannibal Lecter’s past narratives.

....The concept of inborn psychopathy is one the public has grown deeply familiar with in the years since Hannibal Lecter became a household name. It populates not just our fictions, but our discussions of all manner of crime: dismissing someone as a “psychopath” or a “sociopath,” essentially removing the weight of their actions from society’s shoulders, is as convenient as it is comforting—and seems so much more scientific, and so much less cruel, than calling someone a “monster.” It is a conclusion so easy to draw, and a privilege so easy to abuse, that one almost has to assume we have abused it. If we know that psychopaths exist, little restrains us from assuming they commit every crime that troubles us. Yet “the concept of the psychopath,” Janet Malcolm memorably argued, “is, in fact, an admission of failure to solve the mystery of evil—it is merely a restatement of the mystery—and only offers an escape valve for the frustration felt by psychiatrists, social workers, and police officers, who daily encounter its force.”

....Believing in psychopaths, like believing in fairies, is a paradoxically comforting fantasy. It means trusting that the psychopath is a creature apart from humanity, and that whatever harm he can wreak on society cannot, by its nature, come from within society. Society, instead, can define itself against him: we are good where he is bad, empathetic where he is empty, passionate where he is cold. If we believe in psychopaths, we may feel less pressure to believe that a “normal” person may also, under certain circumstances, commit atrocities. We can, in fact, attribute whole swaths of shameful history—genocide, state-sanctioned torture, massacres, war—to a supposedly “rare” demographic. And perhaps this is why we harbor enough fondness for psychopaths to stuff them into every orifice of our entertainment: their cruelty saves us from contemplating ourselves.

- "Can ‘Hannibal’ Ever Be More Than a Beautiful, Gruesome, Comforting Fantasy?" by Sarah Marshall
A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it. That is all that is to be said about our relations to flowers. Of course man may sell the flower, and so make it useful to him, but this has nothing to do with the flower. It is not part of its essence. It is accidental. It is a misuse.

- Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I basically didn't top myself because of this performance of this song today

If Richard Thompson wants to quote me on that he can do it for free.

mental health or lack thereof: a sequence of fragments

MOI'S BRAIN: Do you expect me to talk?


MOI: Fair enough.


FRIEND OF MOI: I seriously think you should seriously think about going back to therapy

FoM: again

MOI: //looks at huge ugly black frizzled snarled hopelessly tangled ball of emotions she can't even figure out enough to feel other than "this truly sucks"

MOI: I think there are laws against doing that to therapists

FoM: ....


Then T got upset (seriously it was the CAPTAIN AMERICA ISN'T ANGRY HE'S JUST WORRIED ABOUT YOU FACE, I can't handle that one) I didn't tell him my medz ran out when his UI check was like a day late (something weird about the direct deposit). IT WAS LIKE A DAY AND A HALF! JEEZ. BACK ME UP HERE, INTERNET.


I thought you said this was fiction

What’s nice is that the cleaner modules themselves are automatic, and if I have to get my hands on the filth, it’s at least gone through the sloshy, soapy tummy of one of these things before I have to deal with it. I don’t really mind the jizz stuff, honestly, but dealing with shit still bums me out, so I avoid it if I can. The cleaners handle everything up-to-but-not-including a fat, spiteful, targeted turd. Smears are fine; the wall cleaner gets them. But for some reason these assholes will pack up their clothes, put away all the dishes, give a five-star rating to the RV company, and then squat right in the middle of the floor and take a huge shit. I mean, there are gadgets that *can* clean those up, I’m sure, but we can’t use a big steam blaster in the RVs because of all the Etsy knick-knacks that would just evaporate, and the Roombas just walk right up to it, do a little curtsey, and go around.

I think it might be something sexual. Or symbolic. I don’t know. It’s rude, for sure, but it’s also keeping me in work for at least a few more weeks. Heck, maybe longer. The RV fleet is just a start-up side project for this other-side guy who is making ridiculous money doing something with fish. My profile had projected this career to be obviated in 12 weeks, but I’ve been here for four months and haven’t gotten a two-weeks-notice pop-up yet.


books read in June 2015

Fiction is in red. Date of first publication in (parentheses).

63. The Children's Crusade, Ann Packer (2015)
64. Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Fletcher Wortmann (2012)
65. The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and The Secret History of Wonderland, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst (2015)
66. Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, John Lahr (2014)
67. Visions and Revisions: Coming of Age in the Age of AIDS, Dale Peck (2015)
68. Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day, Craig Lambert (2015)

all 2015 booklist posts

end of an era

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

from "Poem of the End"

Last       bridge       I won't give up or take out my hand this is the last bridge the last bridging between
water       and firm land: and I am saving these coins for death for Charon, the price of Lethe
this       shadow-money from my dark hand I press soundlessly into the shadowy darkness of his
shadow money it is no gleam and tinkle in it coins for shadows: the dead have enough poppies
This bridge
Lovers for the most part are without hope: passion also is just a bridge, a means of connection
It's warm       to nestle close at your ribs, to move in a visionary pause towards nothing, beside nothing
no       arms, no       legs now, only the bone of my side is alive where it presses directly against you
life in that side only, ear and echo is it: there I stick like white to egg yolk, or an eskimo to his fur
adhesive, pressing joined to you: Siamese twins are no nearer. The woman you call mother
when she forgot all things in motionless triumph only to carry you: she did not hold you closer.
Understand: we have grown into one as we slept and now I can't jump because I can't let go your hand
and I won't be torn off as I press close to you: this bridge is no husband but a lover: a just slipping past
our support: for the river is fed with bodies! I bite in like a tick you must tear out my roots to be rid of me
like ivy       like a tick inhuman       godless to throw me away like a thing, when there is
no thing I ever prized in this empty world of things. Say this is only a dream, night still and afterwards morning
an express       to Rome? Granada? I won't know myself as I push off the Himalayas of bedclothes.
But this dark is deep: now I warm you with my blood, listen to this flesh. It is far truer than poems.
If you are warm, who will you go to tomorrow for that? This is delirium, please say this bridge cannot
end       as it ends
- Here then? His gesture could be made by a child or a god. - And so? - I am biting in! For a little more time. The last of it.
- Marina Tsvetaeva, tr. Elaine Feinstein



Monday, June 1, 2015

book wishlist

Once a Marine: A Memoir of Coming Out Under Fire, Eric Alva
The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq, Helen Benedict
The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road, Abbie Bernstein (HARD COPY)
Hidden Lives: Coming Out on Mental Illness, ed. Andrew Boden and Lenore Rowntree
Citizen, Invert, Queer: Lesbianism and War in Early Twentieth-Century Britain, Deborah Cohler
The Naked Civil Servant, Quentin Crisp
A Companion to the Fairy Tale, ed. Anna Chaudhri and Hilda Ellis Davidson
Love, Sex and War – Changing Values 1939–45, John Costello
Playing By the Rules, Justin Elzie
A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy, Steven M. Emmanuel
Bryant & May: The Burning Man, Christopher Fowler, audiobook
Not Working: People Talk About Losing a Job and Finding Their Way in Today's Changing Economy, DW Gibson
Arise to Conquer, Ian Gleed
Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley, Charlotte Gordon
Mind Over Mood, Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky
My Buddy: World War II Laid Bare, ed. Dian Hanson (photography)
Victory Girls, Khaki-Wackies, and Patriotutes: The Regulation of Female Sexuality during World War II, Marilyn Hegarty
Bitter Fruit: African American Women in World War II, Maureen Honey
Critical Moments in Classical Literature, Richard Hunter
One of the Boys: Homosexuality in the Military during World War II, Paul Jackson
The Male Body at War: American Masculinity during World War II, Christina S. Jarvis
Keep Your Wives Away From Them: Orthodox Women and Unorthodox Desires, ed. Miryam Kabakov
Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence, ed. Nancy Manahan
Hold Still, Sally Mann (photography)
Creating G. I. Jane: Sexuality and Power in the WAC During World War II, Leisa Meyer
And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II, Evelyn Monahan
Greek Literature: Greek literature in the Hellenistic period, Gregory Nagy
A Reader's Book of Days, Tom Nissley
The Star Spangled Buddhist: Zen, Tibetan, and Soka Gakkai Buddhism and the Quest for Enlightenment in America, Jeffrey Ourvan
The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy, Raj Patel
The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism, Tina Rosenberg
Don't Ask, Don't Tell (vol 1 and 2), Jeff Sheng (photography)
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl and Rorscharch, J. Michael Straczynski
Feminism as Life's Work: Four Modern American Women through Two World Wars, Mary K. Trigg
Queen and country: Same-sex desire in the British Armed Forces, 1939-45, Emma Vickers
Wasps: Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II, Vera S. Williams

dad's gonna kill me

you and me / will rock and roll / when you crawl out / of your sick little hole