Thursday, April 30, 2015

a friend chose this for their last NatPoMo post

In the bar where the living dead drink all day
and a jukebox reminisces in a cracked voice
there is nothing to say. You talk for hours
in agreed motifs, anecdotes shuffled and dealt
from a well-thumbed pack, snapshots. The smoky mirrors
flatter; your ghost buys a round for the parched,
old faces of the past. Never return
to the space where you left time pining till it died.

Outside, the streets tear litter in their thin hands,
a tired wind whistles through the blackened stumps of houses
at a limping dog. God, this is an awful place
says the friend, the alcoholic, whose head is a negative
of itself. You listen and nod, bereaved. Baby,
what you owe to this place is unpayable
in the only currency you have. So drink up. Shut up,
then get them in again. Again. And never go back.

The house where you were one of the brides
has cancer. It prefers to be left alone
nursing its growth and cracks, each groan and creak
accusing as you climb the stairs to the bedroom
and draw your loved body on blurred air
with the simple power of loss. All the lies
told here, and all the cries of love,
suddenly swarm in the room, sting you, disappear.

You shouldn't be here. You follow your shadow
through the house, discover that objects held
in the hands can fill a room with pain.
You lived here only to stand here now
and half-believe that you did. A small moment
of death by a window myopic with rain.
You learn this lesson hard, speechless, slamming
the front door, shaking plaster confetti from your hair.

A taxi implying a hearse takes you slowly,
the long way round, to the station. The driver
looks like death. The places you knew
have changed their names by neon, cheap tricks
in a theme-park with no name. Sly sums of money
wink at you in the cab. At a red light,
you wipe a slick of cold sweat from the glass
for a drenched whore to stare you full in the face.

You pay to get out, pass the Welcome To sign
on the way to the barrier, an emigrant
for the last time. The train sighs
and pulls you away, rewinding the city like a film,
snapping it off at the river. You go for a drink,
released by a journey into nowhere, nowhen,
and all the way home you forget. Forget. Already
the fires and lights come on wherever you live.

- "Never Go Back," Carole Ann Duffy

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

2936 words! this verbal albatross I've been dragging around since January is done! whoo!

620 words in a word war with a friend, 1293 words so far today. The neighbours are having a party! The fat black cat is whining. The husband is turning the air blue over a recalcitrant panorama photograph app. I DON'T CARE I SHALL TYPE ON.


AND NOBODY WILL PROBABLY EVER READ IT, EITHER (which is no doubt a good thing)

#amwriting, as the kids say these days

689 words so far, and they all suck. Pulling teeth would be more enjoyable. Bah. Time for some tea.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

the original of that awesome Tranströmer poem

Jag spelar Haydn efter en svart dag
och känner en enkel värme i händerna.

Tangenterna vill. Milda hammare slår.
Klangen är grön, livlig och stilla.

Klangen säger att friheten finns
och att någon inte ger kejsaren skatt.

Jag kör ner händerna i mina haydnfickor
och härmar en som ser lugnt på världen.

Jag hissar haydnflaggan – det betyder:
”Vi ger oss inte. Men vill fred.”

Musiken är ett glashus på sluttningen
där stenarna flyger, stenarna rullar.

Och stenarna rullar tvärs igenom
men varje ruta förblir hel.

( -- HAYDNFICKOR, that's even fucking better than "Haydnpockets.")

Monday, April 27, 2015

Come and drink and thirst no more

Emmylou Harris - "All My Tears (live)"

That woman's voice could make Voltaire get religion.

Sunday, April 26, 2015







Saturday, April 25, 2015


.....what do you want from me, I'm a fucking shut-in

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

NatPoMo poem from a friend

"The Lottery Prayer"

Another winter morning,
another day I am not a millionaire.
The Lord of Chance is my shepherd.
He makes me want. He tells me I must play
to win. He leadeth me down a path
toward early retirement.
I follow religiously.
Yea, though I drive through
the valley in a shadow of debt
to buy my tickets, I am still left wanting.
My friends and family comfort me.
They prepare a meal for me each week
to supplement the hole the lottery leaves
in my grocery budget.
I play their birthdays, ages,
wedding and divorce dates.
I play shoe, dress, waist, and bra sizes.
I play the days in a month,
the months in a year,
the year my car was built.
I play the numbers printed inside
fortune cookies, if the fortune is good.

Oh, Lord of Chance, drop
some Ping-Pong balls my way.
Help me become the generous man
I am meant to be. Help me build
the non-profit foundation dedicated
to supporting abused, homeless, hungry,
handicapped, mentally, emotionally
and imaginatively challenged literary artists—
that is my destiny. Help me build a library
branch (to later be named in my honor).
What do I need to do, Lord? I've already
given up smoking and drinking, sacrificed
my beloved Mustang. I can't give up
my wife; she buys half the tickets.
I can't give up my first born;
he's expecting a piece of the prize.
Anything else is fair game.

- M. Scott Douglass

from "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," Walt Whitman

It avails not, neither time or place—distance avails not;
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so  many generations hence;  
I project myself—also I return—I am with you, and know how it is.  
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt;  
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd;  
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d;
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood, yet was hurried;  
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and the thick-stem’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.
I too many and many a time cross’d the river, the sun half an hour high;  
I watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls—I saw them high in the air, floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,  
I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies, and left the rest in strong shadow,
I saw the slow-wheeling circles, and the gradual edging toward the south.  
I too saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,  
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams,  
Look’d at the fine centrifugal spokes of light around the shape of my head in the sun-lit water,  
Look’d on the haze on the hills southward and southwestward,
Look’d on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet,  
Look’d toward the lower bay to notice the arriving ships,  
Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me,  
Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops—saw the ships at anchor,  
The sailors at work in the rigging, or out astride the spars,
The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the slender serpentine pennants,  
The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their pilot-houses,  
The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of the wheels,  
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sun-set,  
The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the frolicsome crests and glistening,
The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray walls of the granite store-houses by the docks,  
On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug closely flank’d on each side by the barges—the hay-boat, the belated lighter,  
On the neighboring shore, the fires from the foundry chimneys burning high and glaringly into the night,  
Casting their flicker of black, contrasted with wild red and yellow light, over the tops of houses, and down into the clefts of streets.  
These, and all else, were to me the same as they are to you;
I project myself a moment to tell you—also I return.  
I loved well those cities;  
I loved well the stately and rapid river;  
The men and women I saw were all near to me;  
Others the same—others who look back on me, because I look’d forward to them;
(The time will come, though I stop here to-day and to-night.)  
What is it, then, between us?  
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?  
Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not, and place avails not.  


Monday, April 20, 2015

The Octopus: A Story of California December 2013 (the National Reconnaissance Office) launched a spy satellite on a rocket painted with an image of a world-straddling octopus and the words "Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach." The ODNI, the office that oversees the entire U.S. intelligence community, was so proud of this event that it even tweeted photos of the rocket and a separate one of the logo, which also served as a mission patch....No wonder, then, that the NSA and Silicon Valley have made such good partners....the NSA even refers to government agencies requesting data and analysis from it as "customers."

- Terms of Service

(Yeah, I'm still reading this. Yeah, it turned into something of a slog -- not that it's badly-written or anything, in fact, quite the opposite -- it's just really fucking depressing, and sort of like reading about climate change: this is just the way the world is now, and it's totally fucked, and the moment at which any effective change could have started has long since passed and the only thing that would get us off this track is....what? I don't know. It seems so far beyond any one person.)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

what I'm reading (STILL)

Critics claim that advertising is essential to the digital economy. It's what makes so many Web sites and services free. This may be true, but consumers have no responsibility to help support a broken, if widely used, business model. Whatever implied social contract existed between advertisers and users has been torn up by the industry. Never before has so much information been collected, so much commercial surveillance performed, on such a broad cross-section of consumers, with all of it digitized and freely traded among data brokers. As the current ardor for Big Data shows, information harvesting can be an essentially endless process, with the only limits being technological.

- Terms of Service

That's one more kid that'll never go to school Never get to fall in love Never get to be cool

portrait of the artist as a young Kurt


Thursday, April 16, 2015

....surveillance has become a cultural value deeply tied to our appetite for voyeurism, self-display, the public performance of identity, and confirmation of our own existences in the form of micro-affirmations from a disembodied audience.

Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection, Jacob Silverman

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

All is fair in immigration. Except one thing: You never talk about the pain of dislocation. You do not describe the way colour drains out of everyday life when nothing is familiar, how the texture of living seems to disappear. You breathe not a word of no longer knowing who you are, where you are going, with whom, and why -- and the unique existential dread of that condition.  Most important, you never question your decision: from the moment you cross the border, there is only ever the future.

- The Brothers, Masha Gessen

That is one pretty terrifying picture.
Even the Chechens, who lived right next door and had been decimated by a forced exile, had a real city: Grozny had fashion and music. It was from Grozny that young men would bring records and reel-to-reel tapes for Makhachkala's first diskotekas -- a fancy word for dances -- in the early 1980s. To create disco lighting, the young men stole coloured glass from traffic lights and, at great peril to themselves, flashing lights off police cars. In Grozny, young men were not too timid to wear pointy cowboy boots, which had roared into fashion; Makhachkalinians, who did not dare wear them, called them nokhchi-boots, or Chechen-boots.

- The Brothers, Masha Gessen

Sunday, April 12, 2015

two sides, one coin

The Terrible Things I Learned About My Dad: On Abuse and the People We Love

The Debt: When terrible, abusive parents come crawling back, what do their grown children owe them?

hanging on to this song with both hands today

everything dies, baby, that's a fact
but maybe everything that dies
someday comes back

in which Linda Holmes is fucking brill

....I've been watching the response to Alan Sepinwall's book The Revolution Was Televised, which chronicles the television renaissance that began somewhere around The Sopranos by way of an analysis of twelve of the shows that made that renaissance happen: Oz, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Lost, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, The Wire, Friday Night Lights, and 24. (It's a terrific book. You should read it.)

Now, I ask you: Of those 12 shows, on how many of them would it be not at all surprising to see someone walk up and shoot someone else in the face? I'm going to conservatively say six — fifty percent — would easily embrace a straight-up face-shooting (and several of them actually had at least one), while five of the other six have had at least some gruesome deaths (remember, even the classed-up Mad Men splattered blood all over the office and delivered two suicides by hanging). The last one is about football.

This isn't because Alan cherry-picked the violent shows, either.

- "The Spatter Pattern"

'Republicans attacking the president’s authority in areas that most Americans thought had been settled by the Civil War'

Arizona legislators, for example, have been working on a bill that “prohibits this state or any of its political subdivisions from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with an executive order issued by the president of the United States that has not been affirmed by a vote of Congress and signed into law as prescribed by the United States Constitution.”

The bill sounds an awful lot like John C. Calhoun’s secessionist screed of 1828, the South Carolina Exposition and Protest. Laurie Roberts of The Arizona Republic wrote that it was just “one of a series of kooky measures aimed at declaring our independence from federal gun laws, from the Affordable Care Act, from the Environmental Protection Agency, from the Department of Justice, from Barack Obama.”

Republicans defend this sort of action by accusing Mr. Obama of acting like a king and citing executive actions he has taken — on immigration and pollution among other things. That’s nonsense. The same Republicans had no objection when President George W. Bush used his executive authority to authorize the torture of terrorism suspects and tap the phones of American citizens. It is not executive orders the Republicans object to; it is Mr. Obama’s policies, and Mr. Obama.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Built to Spill - "Now and Then"

Now and then sometimes when you're thinking
about when you were always drinking
and how friendships came in one evening
you'd loudly pretend connecting had some meaning
but now you don't cause you can't....

best fucking COI footnote ever

by A. Birch Steen 
 Ombudsman & OSHA Board of Governors Member
Not noted in Jeff DeRoche's fine feature on the Long Winters are the numerous CONFLICTS OF INTEREST that may have colored the writing and editing process. Indeed, the very selection of the Long Winters for a feature article in The Stranger smacks of favoritism. To facilitate the drafting of outraged letters to the editor, I have been asked to identify each instance of COI. · Mr. DeRoche's article is about one JOHN RODERICK, lead singer/guitarist/songwriter for the Long Winters. Mr. Roderick has, in the past, been an occasional contributor to this paper. · The Stranger's film editor, SEAN NELSON, is also a member of the Long Winters, and Mr. Nelson was once the lead singer for the band HARVEY DANGER, which featured EVAN SULT on drums. Mr. Sult, like Mr. Roderick, has occasionally contributed to this paper. Additionally, Mr. Sult is the co-owner of 10TH AVENUE EAST PUBLISHING, a local publisher that recently released a book by Strangercalendar editor BRIAN GOEDDE (This World Is Yours, $10). · Continuing along the Mr. Nelson vein, Mr. Nelson once worked at Metro Cinemas with BRADLEY STEINBACHER, with whom he now works with at The Stranger. Mr. Steinbacher's former ROOMMATE used to date John Roderick who, readers will recall, is the subject of Mr. DeRoche's article. Mr. Steinbacher's former girlfriend, STEPHANIE PURE, went to high school with BO GILLILAND, former member of Western State Hurricanes, Mr. Roderick's former band. Additionally, Mr. Nelson's grandmother, the late Evelyn Barrows, was a Polish Jew. POLAND is a country in EUROPE, and Europe is the continent that Mr. Roderick WALKED ACROSS; Mr. Roderick's walk across Europe is the central metaphor of Mr. DeRoche's article. Mr. Goedde studied in Madrid, a large city in Europe, and Harvey Danger toured Europe, but did not play Madrid. · The drummer for the Long Winters, MICHAEL SHILLING, a Jew--like John Roderick, a Jesuit-educated Protestant, and Evan Sult, also a Protestant--has written for The Stranger. CHRIS CANIGLIA, the keyboard player in the Long Winters, once wrote a strongly worded letter to Mr. Nelson regarding something Mr. Nelson wrote about Mr. Caniglia's then-girlfriend, a known lesbian. Mr. Caniglia's letter to Mr. Nelson appeared in the letters section of The Stranger. · Moving on, The Stranger's former editor, EMILY WHITE, is married to RICH JENSEN, the former PRESIDENT of Sub Pop, the record label that courted John Roderick's previous band, the Western State Hurricanes. Current Stranger editor DAN SAVAGE, his partner, and their child briefly lived with White and her husband. Mr. Savage edited the feature in question, including the sections that dealt with SUB POP. Moving along, KERRI HARROP, a former SUB POP EMPLOYEE, is now the booking agent for CHOP SUEY, the music venue formerly known as THE BREAKROOM, where the Western State Hurricanes played their FIRST SHOW, as mentioned in Mr. DeRoche's article. The aforementioned show was attended by EVERETT TRUE, former Stranger music editor. Mr. True is quoted in Mr. DeRoche's story in reference to this incident. On several occasions, Harvey Danger appeared at the Breakroom. · Mr. DeRoche's feature was copyedited by SARA DeBELL, who once wrote a gossip column for The Stranger under the name of Shirley Rodell-Szyzmyjek. In her column, Ms. DeBell, a.k.a Ms. Rodell-Szyzmyjek, made fun of both Mr. Nelson's former band Harvey Danger and Mr. Roderick's former band Western State Hurricanes, as did KATHLEEN WILSON, former Stranger music editor and current It's My Party columnist. Ms. Wilson is a recovering alcoholic ["Now You Don't Because You Can't," Jan 3], as is Mr. Roderick. Mr. Nelson's mother and three of Mr. Savage's grandparents are/were alcoholics. · Mr. DeRoche's article was designed and laid out by The Stranger's production department. AARON HUFFMAN, former member of Harvey Danger and known associate of Mr. Roderick, is a former employee of The Stranger's production department. Mr. Huffman attended the recent Long Winters show at the SUNSET TAVERN, which was mentioned in Mr. DeRoche's article. · The publication of Mr. DeRoche's article was made possible by the efforts of The Stranger's advertising sales department. RACHEL FLOTARD, a Stranger ad representative, is also the guitar player and singer for the band VISQUEEN. Ms. Flotard's band practices in the same rehearsal space as Mr. Roderick's band, the Long Winters. That rehearsal space is also shared by JASON FINN, who played drums on the Long Winters' debut LP. Mr. Finn was once the drummer for Presidents of the United States of America, which once recorded a song entitled "The Stranger." Mr. Finn is not openly homosexual. · Finally, the aforementioned Mr. Gilliland, who is, as already noted, a former member of Western State Hurricanes, is currently the boyfriend of former Stranger contributor (and current associate editor at the Seattle Weekly) LEAH GREENBLATT. Ms. Greenblatt has a pretty sweet ass, as does Mr. Roderick.
- "Harm's Way"

true fucking story

....much of my work utilizes profanity. Because fuck yeah, profanity. Profanity is a circus of language. It’s a drunken trapeze act. It’s clowns on fire. And let’s be clear up front: profanity is not separate from language. It is not lazy language. It is language. Just another part of it. Vulgarity has merit. It is expressive. It is emotive. It is metaphor.

- Chuck Wendig

Friday, April 10, 2015

grant snider is the best

The attractions of a new shame culture, where denizens of Twitter and Facebook target people who harm society, are easy to see. Our plodding legal system often fails to do justice because of high standards of proof, the expense of lawyers, and the weakness of the laws—laws that are often so weak because rich corporations exert so much influence over legislatures. Indeed, shaming allows us to avoid the messy business of legislation in the first place; moral norms are enforced directly, so one doesn’t need to wait for the political system to lurch into motion. If there is no law against making racist arguments, we can nonetheless shame people who do. Shaming seems like a democratic, cost-effective, and fluid device for combating environmental degradation, racism, and homophobia—for creating a virtuous society.
But the truth is nearly the opposite. If you try to think of which group has been the most consistent target of social media shaming, it is surely women who dare to express their opinions or to break up with boyfriends. The major effect of social media is that it enables people to broadcast an opinion—or, more accurately, a gut reaction—to the whole world, instantly, without pausing to give it any thought. This, combined with pervasive anonymity and traditional animosity to anyone who acts or thinks unconventionally, has awoken atavistic instincts that are multiplied a hundredfold through herd mentality. And then these ill-considered reactions are stored indefinitely, while being immediately accessible to anyone, thanks to the efficiency of search engines.
It is possible to argue that the Internet has re-created small-town society, where everyone knew everything about everyone, so everyone acted virtuously in order to avoid ostracism and other sanctions. But this argument rests on a romanticization of that era. Small-town societies bred small-mindedness and conformity, and if they were ever tolerable, it was only because one could leave. One can’t leave the Internet. Once shamed, always shamed.
I wish that Ronson had also considered why demanding that someone is fired from his or her job has become so central to the public shaming ritual. This demand, I think, reveals several things. First, it reflects how we are all public figures now and all have brands or reputations to protect, and so do our erstwhile employers. We have ported the logic of the celebrity shame cycle—in which corporate sponsors are expected to drop the offender posthaste—to the workaday world. It’s a strange conflation of the public and private, of believing that individuals are always-on representatives of their employers and that an incensed public is in a position to decide when this association should end.
The second thing that these calls for firing reveal is how precious a job has become and how truly punitive public shaming can be. We know that it’s increasingly difficult to get a full-time job and losing one means having to fall back on a threadbare social safety net. Add to that the threat of a permanent Google trail (a feature that Ronson does a good job exploring), and being fired as a result of bringing disrepute on yourself or your employer can be a quick trip to precarity. Do shamers realize the jobless purgatory they might send their targets to? Has that become the singular marker of a “successful” shaming campaign?
Finally, the effort to get people fired reveals one important driver of public shaming—namely, a declining faith in the efficacy of American institutions. The public’s mindset seems to be: No one will punish these people, so we have to do it ourselves. The parallels with the justice system and traditional notions of mob justice are obvious, and it’s one of Ronson’s smarter moves to visit a prison psychiatrist and a former judge who specialized in handing down embarrassing punishments. Yet when he tells the judge, Ted Poe, who’s now a member of the House of Representatives, that “we [public shamers] are more frightening than you” (emphasis in original), Ronson suffers from the public shamer’s lack of proportion. Shaming can be novel, scary, and pernicious, but America’s overflowing prisons are distinct in their cruelty.

a very unpopular opinion




we now return you to your irregularly scheduled lazy pseduo-Buddhism ("all life is sacred....okay even the guys who write Mad Men tongue baths, yeah yeah yeah")

this is just utterly charming

MR. ELIE: Well, I got the complete stories with some money for Christmas my freshman year, I’d gone to Fordham by the way, a Jesuit college in the Bronx. Started reading the introduction by Robert Giroux, and just the best introduction to a book, I think, that I’ve still ever found. He just portrays her so vividly in a few words. And one of the ways that he does it is by comparing her to Thomas Merton and describing his visits when he edited both of their books to the South. He’d go visit Merton, this renowned monk, at his monastery, and they’d talk about Flannery O’Connor. Then he’d go to Georgia to visit Flannery O’Connor, the celebrated young Southern writer, and they’d talk about Thomas Merton. And he said that they had in common deep faith, great intelligence and a highly developed sense of comedy. So naturally, I wanted to know more about this Thomas Merton. And I bought The Seven Storey Mountain one summer day a couple of years later in the middle of an internship.


Flannery O'Connor, by June Glasson

Sappho (in my head anyway)

Life Ball 2015 Style Bible
It grieves me to think
the dead won’t see them—
these things we depend on,
they disappear.
What will the soul do for solace then?

now that is just cruel

"Your poetic dream date is:

Lord Byron
Emily Dickinson
John Keats
Arthur Rimbaud"

HOW CAN I CHOOSE (I went with Keats, okay, first literary crushes die never)

The long-tailed mockingbird flew
dressed like scissors:
perched on a thread, it listed to
the telegraph’s deep voice,
the wire’s blue pulse,
heard words, kisses, numbers,
fleet petals from the soul,
then launched its trill,
released a transparent stream,
and scattered its delirium to the winds.

- Pablo Neruda

Thursday, April 9, 2015

'Virginia Woolf Goes to the Movies'

The eye says to the brain, “Something is happening which I do not in the least understand. You are needed.” Together they look at the King, the boat, the horse, and the brain sees at once that they have taken on a quality which does not belong to the simple photograph of real life. They have become not more beautiful, in the sense in which pictures are beautiful, but shall we call it (our vocabulary is miserably insufficient) more real, or real with a different reality from that which we perceive in daily life? We behold them as they are when we are not there. We see life as it is when we have no part in it. As we gaze we seem to be removed from the pettiness of actual existence. The horse will not knock us down. The King will not grasp our hands. The wave will not wet our feet. From this point of vantage, as we watch the antics of our kind, we have time to feel pity and amusement, to generalize, to endow one man with the attributes of the race. Watching the boat sail and the wave break, we have time to open our minds wide to beauty and register on top of it the queer sensation—this beauty will continue, and this beauty will flourish whether we behold it or not. Further, all this happened ten years ago, we are told. We are beholding a world which has gone beneath the waves.
- The New Republic, 4 August 1926

“Communication,” he writes, “has become synonymous with surveillance.”

In the book, you quote Tumblr’s CEOwho in 2010 proclaimed, “No advertising ever!” By 2013 he was openly courting advertisers.
This may ultimately be the problem with having all these current companies being venture-backed, which is that you then you have venture capitalists expecting huge returns. So these companies have to scale-up really big, and the main way to do that is to be free and to collect lots of user data. And even the most idealistic of them, and Tumblr was idealistic in its own way, they eventually say, “Well now, we have to satisfy our investors, and we have to make money, so advertising it is.”
Imagine if Tumblr weren’t so huge, but still were a similar kind of space, with similar capabilities, and a similar sort of culture—and people paid ten bucks a year. It wouldn’t be this massive company that we all talk about. But it would have a much better chance to preserve its identity, and really just to be more true and more open to its users.
One of the false promises we’ve been made that people keep buying into is that the Internet is a “democratizing” force, that the digital world gives us instant access to the real vox populi, that the simple fact that anyone can leave a comment, or answer a poll, or submit an entry to a contest means that everyone does, and therefore opinion of “the Internet” is everyone’s opinion.

This is obviously false. It’s obviously false for the same reason that crowd-funding randomly decides to give one guy in Ohio hundreds of thousands of dollars for potato salad and why huge blatant hoaxes can stay up on Wikipedia for five years unchallenged, and why random, not-particularly-charismatic people become “celebrities” overnight for no good reason.

It’s obviously false in the way that comments sections actually representing “reader reactions” as opposed to a horrific cesspool of three people shouting racial slurs at each other is false. Everyone who says “Never Read the Comments”–which, these days, is anyone with any sense–is implicitly admitting the promise of Internet democracy has failed.

- Sci-Fi’s Right-Wing Backlash: How a Small Group of Deranged Trolls Can Ruin Any Event

Gil Scott-Heron, "Jose Campos Torres"

The motherfucking dogs are in the street

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

quotes on women, writing, and women writing

In her introduction to Poems from the Women’s MovementHonor Moore recollects a friend saying, “The women’s movement was poetry.”
- Ms. Magazine


I knew I had to stay with it as long as it took to write a sentence I could respect. That’s the hardest thing in the world to do—to stay with a sentence until it has said what it should say, and then to know when that has been accomplished.
- Vivian Gornick, Paris Review interview


In her essay “What Feminism Means to Me,” from her 1996 collection Approaching Eye Level, Gornick reflects on how she married an artist and, pleased as punch with herself, thought, Now I can work. “Ten years later, I was wandering around New York, a divorced ‘girl’ of thirty-five with an aggressive style who had written a couple of articles.” Then she defines the conflict that so profoundly confused me: “The lifelong inability to take myself seriously as a worker: this was the central dilemma of a woman’s existence.” (Light, music, exhilaration flowed in, Gornick said. “The slings and arrows of daily existence could not make a dent in me.”) Gornick telescoped the problem in a way that helped me see that the loss of my independent self wasn’t just a giving up, or just inertia, but an inability to believe. Maintaining the rhythm of my work, given that I’m a certain kind of woman, should have come first.

Gornick knows how hard it is not to prioritize a man over writing. “Loving a man, I vowed, would not again be primary.” Heart-hardened and thrilled with her newfound feminist reality, she decided to settle for nothing less than “grown-up affection.” Yet she recognized that “romantic love was injected like dye into the nervous system of my emotions, laced through the entire fabric of longing, fantasy, and sentiment.” Even feminists want love and romance. You can’t give up love, but you can be split about it. 

1554 words since about 1 AM

.....on the Story That Was Eaten, and it's still not fucking done (but close, I think), it's dumb AND it's unpublishable. But still, 1500 in a writing session, that's not bad. That's a bit more like how I used to be.

'perpetually making notes in the margin of my mind for some final statement'

Woolf’s grand aim in this exhausting labor—labor that perforce took time and concentration away from her novel-writing—was to be “able to make not merely thousands of people interested in literature; but millions.” She despaired at her failure. But the essays contained here—relics of that now-disdained Age of Print—are for the ages, and in that longest of long terms, thanks to these volumes, Woolf’s ambition might yet be achieved.

- Benjamin Schwarz on The Essays of Virginia Woolf, Volume VI: 1933-1941

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

fucking amazing piece

We rarely make similar demands of other recipients of government aid. We don't drug-test farmers who receive agriculture subsidies (lest they think about plowing while high!). We don't require Pell Grant recipients to prove that they're pursuing a degree that will get them a real job one day (sorry, no poetry!). We don't require wealthy families who cash in on the home mortgage interest deduction to prove that they don't use their homes as brothels (because surely someone out there does this). The strings that we attach to government aid are attached uniquely for the poor.

- Emily Badger
“Here is a New York City secret treasure for you: Get on the 6 train and stay on board past the last stop. That means after everyone else has gotten off, stay put. The train reenters the darkness of the subway tunnel to loop around and restart its route, and as it does, you can catch a brief glimpse of New York’s forgotten history: A ghost station, the now empty City Hall subway stop. Built in 1904 to look like a miniature Grand Central, it was once the most beautiful station in New York: It had brass fixtures, vaulted arches, and skylights, but in 1945, falling into disrepair and deemed too expensive to renovate for modern trains, those skylights were boarded up. If you think about it, glimpses of the past, signposts marking what once was, are relatively few. What once was just isn’t anymore, so it’s easy to forget that it ever was, and sometimes we even forget that we’ve forgotten… We just tell ourselves the same stories over and over again, because it’s more convenient. We’re trying to make it through the day. You need, basically, enough information about the past not to get lost in time.”

 — From Jonathan’s Goldstein’s “WireTap” (27 March 2015)

true story

black springs in the library of the underground

"Black Spring," by Henry Miller - Underground New York Public Library
I do think it’s critical to look at stories as they were and are told (in all their polyphony and contradiction; almost nothing in myth is single-voiced), not just at the simplest or the most comfortable versions. Otherwise all you are seeing is a gloss or an illusion of familiarity: Oh, yes, just like us with different names. Alienation is important, if it’s what’s true. I die inside a little every I see Athene referred to as the Greek goddess of wisdom, because it makes her sound all judgment and prudence, a dispassionate encyclopedia. She is the goddess of μῆτις — cunning, tricky thought, creative intelligence; the ability to think around corners and into the future. Mētis is the reason Athene is associated with the technically intricate, metaphorically loaded craft of weaving; it is the shared trait that makes her so fond of Odysseus, the consummate trickster hero of Greek myth. You are far and away the best of mortals at designs and stories, while I am famous among all the gods for craft and cleverness. (Songs are woven; so are stories; so are lies.) Μῆτις makes Athene the goddess of war — not the blind berserker violence of Ares, but tactics and strategy. Take the shrewdness out of Athene and what’s left looks like white marble without the paint. It looks the way we all know Greek statues to have looked, abstract and austere, which they never did. Classical statues were loud with color. The idea is very off-putting to some people. Tough luck! You can still see the traces, especially under high-intensity and ultraviolet light. The past is inaccessible enough already; we don’t need to fuzz it out further with extra inaccuracy. That was a nonviolent example, but it goes toward the whole idea of romanticizing instead of accepting — brightly painted statues are gaudy and vulgar, virgin goddesses of wisdom are loftier than asexual female tacticians. (And who makes these judgments? What attitudes do they reinforce? What divisions do they uphold?) If the past is what you build the future on, you had better know what it really contained.

- Sonya Taaffe


Jason Beghe's full Scientology interview

Monday, April 6, 2015

"The Everlasting Gospel," William Blake

THE VISION OF CHRIST that thou dost see
Is my vision’s greatest enemy.
Thine has a great hook nose like thine;
Mine has a snub nose like to mine.
Thine is the Friend of all Mankind;        
Mine speaks in parables to the blind.
Thine loves the same world that mine hates;
Thy heaven doors are my hell gates.
Socrates taught what Meletus
Loath’d as a nation’s bitterest curse,       
And Caiaphas was in his own mind
A benefactor to mankind.
Both read the Bible day and night,
But thou read’st black where I read white.

current book wishlist

In My Father's Name: A Family, A Town, A Murder, Mark Arax
West of the West: Dreamers, Believers, Builders, and Killers in the Golden State, Mark Arax
Rewind, Replay, Repeat: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Jeff Bell
Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II, Allan Berube
Heap House, Edward Carey
Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940, George Chauncey
Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel, Annie Cohen-Solal
Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living (Icons), Paul Collins
The Roman Banquet: Images of Conviviality, Katherine Dunbabin
My Mother's Wars, Lillian Faderman
Naked in the Promised Land, Lillian Faderman
Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America, Lillian Faderman
The End of the Novel of Love, Vivian Gornick
The Folded Clock: A Diary, Heidi Julavits
Sodom on the Thames: Sex, Love, and Scandal in Wilde Times, Morris Kaplan
Wrestling with the Angel: A Memoir of My Triumph Over Illness, Max Lerner
The Woman Who Thought Too Much: A Memoir, Joanne Limburg
My Queer War, James Lord
The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away, ed. Jenny Offill
De Quincey's Romanticism: Canonical Minority and the Forms of Transmission (Cambridge Studies in Romanticism), Margaret Russett
Mark Antony: A Life, Patricia Southern
Sent For You Yesterday, John Edgar Wideman (and all his other books really)
Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Fletcher Wortmann
Generation Kill, Evan Wright
Ms. (Emily) Renda (a rape survivor working on sexual assault issues at the University of Virginia), who was interviewed for the Columbia report, offered another reason that she felt the Rolling Stone article was flawed: The magazine was drawn toward the most extreme story of a campus rape it could find. The more nuanced accounts, she suggested, seemed somehow “not real enough to stand for rape culture. And that is part of the problem.”


Erdely and her editors had hoped their investigation would sound an alarm about campus sexual assault and would challenge Virginia and other universities to do better. Instead, the magazine's failure may have spread the idea that many women invent rape allegations. (Social scientists analyzing crime records report that the rate of false rape allegations is 2 to 8 percent.) At the University of Virginia, "It's going to be more difficult now to engage some people … because they have a preconceived notion that women lie about sexual assault," said Alex Pinkleton, a UVA student and rape survivor who was one of Erdely's sources.

Rolling Stone and UVA: The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Report

nice timing, Brezsny

SCORPIO (Oct 23–Nov 21): In Cole Porter's song "I Get a Kick out of You," he testifies that he gets no kick from champagne. In fact, "Mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all," he sings. The same is true about cocaine. "I'm sure that if I took even one sniff that would bore me terrifically, too," Porter declares. With this as your nudge, Scorpio, and in accordance with the astrological omens, I encourage you to identify the titillations that no longer provide you with the pleasurable jolt they once did. Acknowledge the joys that have grown stale and the adventures whose rewards have waned. It's time for you to go in search of a new array of provocative fun and games.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

two spinster writers

Even today, when I open (Stevie) Smith’s books or read her poems, I get a little rush of recall, a little flavour of the revelation experienced back then. Here was a writer whose prose, the very rhythm of it, as well as its raw disjointedness, conveyed a startling freedom of both thought and expression. It wasn’t just her ideas, it was the mood and atmosphere she created, plus the strong sense of kinship I felt. One minute she was joyful, the next she felt the daggers of envy or the clammy sludge of depression. This from her third novel, The Holiday: “This sadness cuts down again upon me, it is like death. And the bright appearance of the friends at the parties, makes it a terrible cut, like a deep sharp knife, that has cut deep, but not yet quite away.” What a relief these sentiments were from the bright, hard 1980s world I was living in: a world of Cosmopolitan magazine, Cindy Crawford, and feeling the burn in pink legwarmers. Smith wasn’t trying to be happy. She’d never heard of such nonsense. “I am a desperate character,” she said.

- Amy Jenkins

The critic John Bayley wrote that (Barbara) Pym’s novels “take entirely for granted the fact that we live in two worlds, one of extreme triviality typified by the work situation, social exchange, irritations, small comforts of eating and drinking” and one of “romance, aspiration, love-longing, loneliness, despair.” Bayley’s characterization of this second world is a little too melancholy, but the duality he identifies is central to Pym’s work. Mildred and her equivalents in other Pym novels do nothing that is bold or unconventional. They have few ambitions beyond maintaining a perfect respectability. But their mental landscapes are extravagant.

- Hannah Rosefield

Friday, April 3, 2015

I just fucking love this guy

I can say from experience that some people, if they hear you're writing a book about such things -- about scary emerging diseases, about killer viruses, about pandemics -- want you to cut to the chase. So they ask: "Are we all gonna die?" I have made it my little policy to say: Yes.

Yes, we are all gonna die. Yes. We are all gonna pay taxes and we are all gonna die. Most of us, though, will probably die of something much more mundane than a new virus lately emerged from a duck or a chimpanzee or a bat.

- David Quammen, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell

And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer, 
Never to hope again.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

When the museum staged events with discussions of the virtually restored murals, hundreds of people turned up. The “back from the dead” aspect of the phenomenon is captivating: you are seeing, or you feel that you are seeing, something that once was believed to have vanished forever. You also (this is why people come to watch the projectors turned off) get to see the Rothkos both as they were and, almost simultaneously, as they are. You experience a transformation that took many years in a few seconds.

- "Watching Them Turn Off the Rothkos"

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

books read in April 2015

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

42. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, Jon Ronson (2011)
43. Lost at Sea, Jon Ronson (2012)
44. Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus, David Quammen (2014)
45. The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes (2013) (fanfuckingtastic)
46. The Chimp and the River: How AIDS Emerged from an African Forest, David Quammen (2015)
47. Blue Genes: A Memoir of Loss and Survival, Christopher Lukas (2008)
48. The Water's Lovely, Ruth Rendell (2006)
49. The Child's Child, Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) (2012) (v P.D. James-ish, and haunting)
50. Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine, Paul Offit (2015)
51. The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy, Masha Gessen (2015) (excellent, made me want to get all her other books; should be a strong contender for the Pulitzer, if you ask me)
52. Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection, Jacob Silverman (2015) (v good, v depressing)
53. One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway, Asne Seierstad (2015) (why, WHY did I read this, it was heartbreaking)
54. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Jon Krakauer (2015)

all 2015 booklist posts

in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee

You have been sober for: 

Years: 13
Days: 4,748
Hours: 113,964
Minutes: 6,837,863
Seconds: 410, 271, 850

One day at a time since April 1st, 2002. And my gratitude list always starts out "1. Grateful to be here, 2. Grateful to be sober," because true fucking story.

(I think I might get a medal -- the last one I have is for five years, I think? and by then I wasn't collecting them as much, altho I think I wanted one again on the 10th anniversary -- because 13 is one of my lucky numbers, the way I like black cats, heh.)