We live in the most murderously colonialist and Totalitarian Empire in the history of the world and all anyone can talk about are their feelings.
OCTOBER 3rd (German unification Day) 2022, near the Zoo Station, at c. 13:30, a short fat woman, with multi-colored (pied) hair, saved my life as I was crossing the street. I was wearing headphones, listening loudly to Elvis Costello’s A BOY CALLED IF, not looking, not seeing a cop car speeding toward, and through, the red light the green side of which was cajoling me to cross blithely. Had the little fat woman with trendy hair not tapped my arm, as I passed her, on my way to that appointment at the briefly-lethal median of the street, I would have been hit by the very fast cop car and obliterated. I pulled off my headphones and called out Thank you, and added, That would have been embarrassing! I am thirty days into what is, in a manner of speaking, a re-birth, my second life. I never learned my short, fat, pied-coifed second birth-mother’s name. But every time I mock a freak-haired snowflake vegan eunuch, from that day forward, I will remember Her face.
There’s a cat-faced Ex I fucked in Stockholm in the year 2000, a beautiful woman, sweet-natured, well-meaning, profoundly hypochondriacal, bedevilled with allergies and neurosis and hounded by her overbearing Spanish mother. She was and is the biggest Sucker for the American Mirage I have ever met. The “liberal” side of the American Mirage, I mean. 100% pro-Demoblican and 100% anti-Republicat and 120% predictable in her reactions and as self-critical, about her positions, as a dimestore compass. She was so beautiful I fucked her, tenderly, nervously, I couldn’t help it, nature compelled me but I only did it once, and did it at all despite my long-running terror of inadvertent (or slyly engineered) pregnancy. When I realized the depth of her fealty to the religion of the American Mirage it thoroughly de-boned me. She lived for American Television, lived on it, through it, American Television, which they blast in Stockholm full strength, in English, I wonder why. What if I had kept fucking her and fuck-momentum developed into a domestic arrangement in Stockholm? I saw myself co-aging in a time-lapse video of two hand-holding zombies bathed in pulses of sick radiation from forty years of The Daily Show, shrinking, rotting, turning to mulch, becoming a nice big TV-illuminated stain on a cobwebbed Ikea sofa by 2050. I contrived bizarre reasons to avoid fucking her after that one lapse (I think the “midnight sun” was one excuse: my circadian rhythm, I sighed, clutching my chest…).
Today I was spying on her FACEBOOT (the only good thing about FACEBOOT: spying on your exes) and tsk-tsk-tsking at all of the pathetic and ridiculous and self-satirizingly-virtuous and hollow memes she posts regarding every single manufactured controversy du jour (Michelle Obama, George Floyd, a “heartfelt” post on the death of Robin Fucking Williams that read as if they’d dated in the ’90s or something) and then I came, to a post on her page, the irony-juiced audacity of which absolutely floored me.
She (the most distracted, deceived and division-supporting person I’ve ever licked between the legs) actually posted this:
You definitely do not know the etymology of the word “panoply”. For 99.78 % of my Life, I didn’t either.
On guitar guru Robert Fripp’s FACEBOOT page a kerfuffle erupted, recently, when Fripp posted a link to signed merch and a bitter fan, or two, who had, at some point during the past twenty years, approached Fripp for an autograph (only to be face-palmed with a frosty metaphorical guitar-hand), posted bitchy testimonials. Which I find fascinating. The figure of the Stroppy Fan must belong to a subset of KARENS who, as you know, believe it is up to them to dictate the terms on which one engages with them in the event that they approach you. On the thread of the first bitchy testimonial I suited up like Robert Fripp’s unofficial white knight and wrote:
“All the geniuses to whom I owe a (cultural) debt are very happy with me as a Fan, as (A) they don’t know I exist and (B) I don’t need them to know I exist and (C) I send them small amounts of money, on an erratic schedule, which is a little like (D) paying them to keep their distance.”
In the second thread of bitchy testimonials, I added:
“The Gods of the Olde Days were smart: they lived on mountaintops, at the bottom of the ocean or at the Earth’s core. Not to mention the fact that they armed themselves with thunderbolts. These New Gods are learning the hard way that modern worshippers are alarmingly capricious and needy… especially now that all the Olde Gods have fucked off.”
These comments are about bigger things than Robert Fripp.
“Your thoughts are only as precise as your vocabulary.”
We love the myth that people can be illiterate/ have 800-word vocabularies and still be brilliant (street smart) and though the original potential was there, just as the potential to be a super-buff bodybuilder once existed in the infant who became a shuffling, pear-shaped pre-diabetic couch potato by the age of 50, if the mind doesn’t pump metaphorical iron and sweat through daily metaphorical cardiovascular before a certain point… and so on.
From a letter I just wrote to my Son:
“Btw: not sure if you caught Ye on “Drink Champs” but I watched the whole episode. My only thoughts: if only Ye were more effective/ precise in expressing himself! He has the pothead’s tendency to stack half-finished thoughts upon half-finished thoughts (they’re finished in his mind, I’m sure, but…) in fugue-like transmissions. Anyway: he didn’t say a single hateful thing. I think it’s kind of hilarious that (A) he stated something Everyone in Music Biz knows and (B) the response to his statement proved his point. Pop/ Hollywood/ Media is predominately FOLLOWER OF THE OLDER ABRAHAMIC CREATION MYTH owned and run, just as policing, in Chicago, in the early-to-mid-20th century, was an Irish industry and the Mafia is predominately Italian and Turks in Berlin own the monopoly on kebabs. Jesus, people, it’s not (necessarily or in each case) sinister, it just IS. Everyone (EVERYONE) knows it. The Empire has become so Veritaphobic that just stating common knowledge (“Black celeb voices are controlled by FOLLOWER OF THE OLDER ABRAHAMIC CREATION MYTH Media structures”) gets you labelled “hateful”. Then poor Ye goes on Lex Fridman, a guy with an IQ of 115 who attempts to present as a Genius (with a pseudo-Zen silence to his manner)… and looks like a confused-but-earnest Little Boy. Ye’s bragging, about his own “brilliance,” is cringe-inducing. But he’s always about 30% right and I wish he were up to the job of handling his self-inflicted “controversies” better. I think lots of showbizzy FOLLOWER OF THE OLDER ABRAHAMIC CREATION MYTH people need to humbly reconsider the smell of the fumes of the self-generated legends they nurture about their own “brilliance”. I’ve known many, many FOLLOWER OF THE OLDER ABRAHAMIC CREATION MYTH people (including the woman I lost my virginity to, who is now married to an atrocious Neocon buddy of Obama’s) and they were/are just PEOPLE. Not particularly brilliant though many profited from Literate Upbringings. Middleclass FOLLOWER OF THE OLDER ABRAHAMIC CREATION MYTH people tend to be raised with the kind of bookishness that Blacks are starved of. If you can’t read a postmodern novel, you can’t read a contract. Just (as they say) sayin!”
“WILL SELF ON WRITING,” it says. A little like adverzizing “YOUR SNOOTY TEEN COOKS CHRISTMAS DINNER”.
I still can’t get over what a terribly graceless shaper of sentences, in the Fiction game, Will Self is! Who can possibly read every page in an entire novel of such crispy catshit? How did Will Self ever get so famous as a so-called writer of Lit? With such gems as…?
“Like two skeletons copulating in a wardrobe, their bones chafing and stridulating.”
The Hive Mind informs us (via the Oracle of EweToob):
“Water is actually not wet; It makes other materials/objects wet. Wetness is the state of a non-liquid when a liquid adheres to, and/or permeates its substance while maintaining chemically distinct structures. So if we say something is wet we mean the liquid is sticking to the object.
Where can you find an ocean with no water?”
On a map!”
I came across this statement (below) while creeping through an Ex’s Faceboot and it made me sick to my stomach. More of my Past simply ruined! This Ex lives in the Upper Midwest (born in the lower Midwest), rendering her posted sentiment beyond pathetic. I have renounced all memories of fucking her, as spicy as some of these memories were (except one particular menage-a-trois memory: I’m keeping that one. It was 1989, I think, and my then-GF was on her back on my white plastic kitchen table and my kneeling Ex, five foot eleven, the future dopey Queen-lover, took my right testicle in her mouth as I slid Dick Umbilicus in and out of GF’s vagina; this produced a tremendous orgasm like green Kodak Instamatic flash bulbs* exploding behind my eyes and I am surprised, in retrospect, that I didn’t contrive to arrange such an event for every single Friday afternoon, until GF and I moved to London, in March of 1990). Anyway, this is the horriffic thing I saw:
“She was Queen my whole life. I admired her very much. Rest In Peace, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith”
Admired her for what, exactly? Looking okay on stamps? Co-owning a third of the planet Earth via pillage, genocide, gunboat diplomacy and cultural rape? For pushing a senescent goat-faced toddler-king out of her cloaca? What?
I dedicate this pome to her, my most disappointing Ex, and also to my only Swedish Ex:
the terrier’s death: a pome
You struggle with a sock in your mouth, an arm tied back, a foot broken. You pause, in the struggle, to watch a sitcom, chew gum to a catchy song, cry over the death of a famous man’s terrier and when the battle resumes mid-show you are blindsided, tackled, the wind knocked out, while expressing your trivial sock-muted opinion of the famous man’s comportment during the celebrity interviewer’s remarks about the terrier’s death as covered in a newspaper that will line your coffin when you are done.
*Ever disassemble one of those Instamatic, four-flash, cubes? I did, once, as a kid. It’s a very clever mechanism. There are actually four little piezoelectric stems in these cubes and by pressing the “flash” button on the camera, a little lever poked up into the cube and released a sort of spring-wound bar, held in dynamic tension behind a restraining wall. By lifting the spring-wound bar over the top of the little restraining wall, the potential energy, stored in the spring-wound bar, was released in the form of the bar slamming forward, mouse-trap-like, against the piezoelectric stem. The impact on the piezoelectric stem sent a tiny current roaring through a fragile, highly resistant, filament wired to the stem, a filament, resembling gray or blue angel hair, so resistant that the little current surging from the piezoelectric stem, into the filament, burned the filament up in a millisecond, releasing heat and light to immortalize your uncle’s smirk or cousin’s Scooby-Doo swimsuit.
Hullo, North Americans! A question: Ever get the feeling that all of this (you know, all of THIS: gestures encompassingly) is a clever effort to backlash the culture toward the Extreme Right… ? So, rather than Reform the Police they “Defund the Police” and scare the fuck out of you for a few years (“Hey, you asked for it!”) … until you BEG for the POLICE STATE to come back on DIGITAL STEROIDS to clean things up, right? Then the Homeless get scooped off the streets and pushed in Camps with the Conspircy Thuriss and Open-Carry Rednecks and the Reformed-crypto-Conservative Liberal Middle Management Class are happy to Conform and Cheerlead the Newly Draconian System with clean downtowns, armed robo-cop drones and Mandatory Subcutaneous Digital IDs. Why would the Wealthy allow all of THIS SHIT to happen if not as a tactical move in a plan to grant them greater Power in the Future?* They’re going to let this get as HORRIBLE as possible… until you BEG FOR THE FIRMLY-CLEATED BOOT OF AUTHORITARIAN POWER ON YOUR OWN FACE to “fix” the problem they’ve deliberately created using the George Floyd event as the trigger. We’re not in Kansas anymore, kids…
*Not to mention driving down property values until Real Estate can be bought up for pennies on the dollar, right? Seed homeless camps in nice neighborhoods, simmer for ten years, buy a million acres for a pittance and build mega-luxury structures after the robo-cops kick in… right?
“Youth is Sex and sunlight. In maturity we save our Sex for rainy days.”
Today I seized the opportunity to strap on some really good (Prosumer) headphones and go for a brisk walk. The headphones are the Sony MDR-7506 closed studio “cans” and they are smooth in the high end, warm and rubbery in the low end and provide plenty of depth/ separation in the mid-range. It’s nice to be able to hear where some sounds begin and others end, though I shouldn’t make a habit of taking this pair out on long walks. What I have learned is that the sweat a brisk walk can generate will eat, in time, into the soft surface of the headphone’s cushions and cause the shiny black finish to flake off.
I haven’t had a chance to take a longish walk in a while. The best time, for me, for a slightly-long walk, is earlier in the morning, when Wife and Daughter are still sleeping. Now that Daughter is 16, she likes to exercise the Pyrrhic privilege of staying up until two or three in the morning, which has shifted her eating schedule. If I want her to eat anything on the healthy-side, at one in the morning, I have to cook it for her myself. Otherwise she eats pot-noodles from a lurid pink carton. I’ve been known to make her bacon and eggs at one in the morning! Eat at Dad’s Late Night Diner! So I’m usually up until two a.m., on-call to whip up her late supper, then back up again by 9 am, starting my active schedule around 10 am, when Wife gets up.
The weather was perfect, for a brisk fall walk, today. Sunny with wispy occasional clouds, a moderate chill in the air, zero wind. September was cold and October has been very cold but the last week or so has been a little like April. In Germany, at least, it’s obvious why the “Climate Activists” are resorting to random acts of vandalism to get some attention in Media: for three or four straight years, now, no hint of a warming trend. Summer lasted for about three weeks, this year, and the temperatures, for that fleeting season, were exactly what anyone, for the past couple of centuries, on average, would expect for summer. Amusingly, postmodern weather maps seem to have been updated, color-scheme-wise, to display temperatures in the upper 70s and low 80s in a luridly Alarmist Red. Make of that what we will.
Off I marched into the precious metal glimmers of the late Fall afternoon, around four thirty, twilight not far off and speeding toward the city (it’s six thirty, as I write this, and grapey-dark out there), Morrissey on my headphones. Later Morrissey solo albums enjoy the clarity and warmth of modern mixing; they aren’t soaked in overdriven guitars; sonic moments aren’t edged, like caterpillars, in fuzzy brown and gray noise. The vocals are upfront and punchy. This has got to be the best era, sonically, of the Rock/ Pop century. Even twenty years ago, the mixes couldn’t hold a candle to what we can hear now. The Beatles get the royal, contemporary-remaster treatment every few years but what about The Kinks, Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell, CCR and all those Motown wonderments?
No, wait, I started the walk with Brittany Howard’s solo album, Jaimie. Howard is a mixed-race, Lesbian Rock ‘N Roll avatar, with ham-like upper arms, who may be the premier practitioner, of the craft, living today. Her guitar work is fat, hard, fast and clean and she can belt her fabulously authentic vocals while simultaneously chopping through a complicated guitar riff with a pleasingly vintage lack of distortion.
Howard has all the guitar/ vocal talent and chops that St. Vincent (and her fans) pretends St. Vincent has, but St. Vincent is slim and very pretty, so that’s how that cultural math works. If Brittany Howard were slim and very pretty, she’d either be bigger than Taylor Swift or struggling to even find gigs in Bible Belt dives, depending on the psychology of the support system in her area. No one in the general public generally knows the terrifying number of steps and required plateaus interposed between Talent and Recognition. There are too many, and human psychology can be a wall of talent-eating brambles. Every manager, studio owner, engineer, arranger, videographer, publicist, publisher and drug connection, and so on, is a possible rotten bridge-plank, or bear trap, along the way across the bottomless gorge of Non-Fame to the dubious Valhalla on the other side of that gorge.
The overwhelming majority of great talents are filtered out fairly early in the process. Between an astonishing Talent with no connections and a decent Mediocrity with ambition and connections, the smart money is on the latter every time. It’s nearly a freak accident when great Talent succeeds. Brittany Howard and Stephen Morrissey are freaks of luck. Bowie and The Beatles were lucky, too, but, more importantly, they managed to hook their wagons to massive agendas. Hard to begrudge a sinister agenda when it slingshots a genuine talent, into the stratosphere, for reasons of its own, though begrudge we really must.
I sailed into the Golden Fall Afternoon of October 29th, 2022, in Berlin, and walked in pace with Brittany Howard’s solo album. If the tempo of a ballad was slow enough I could ignore the tempo, or do it double-time, but if an up-tempo song is between 120 bpm and 140 bpm, it’s nearly impossible for me not to match my walk-beat precisely to the song’s tempo. Anyone committed to cruising to pace me, in the street, for the duration of the album, would’ve noticed my distinct tempo-changes every three-to-five minutes.
I don’t know about you, but my brain has developed contextualizing categories for visual information: interior/ exterior- public/ private-mirror/ window-distant/ nearby- (etc) so when I see something, I have an instant sense of whether or not I should be seeing it, in a given setting and, consequently, whether or not I need adrenaline to cope with the visual information presented. I see a squirrel in a tree through our garden window and I know, instantly, that the squirrel is being presented in the proper setting: I can further analyze the image in a leisurely manner, creating a narrative, about (E.g.) the squirrel preparing for winter, or connecting to the potential nostalgia (re: my grandmother’s house) a squirrel carries for me . If I see a squirrel in the kitchen, on the other hand, I know there’s something wrong before I even figure out what the squirrel is doing, or how it got in the kitchen, and a luxury like nostalgia is right off the table: I have to deal with the low-level threat of a squirrel in the kitchen. This protocol helps to save me valuable milliseconds in reaction-time.
Later in life I had to add a new category to my visual-context list: screen. Anything seen on a screen is instantly contextualized in a lower risk category and suspect by default: is this real? is my first subliminal response to the visual information. Who wants me to see this and why? Is often my second default response to anything seen on a screen. In the event of a local war, of course, the category of “screen” would move several notches in the threat-rating.
I’m of the firm opinion that, for whatever psycho-cultural reasons, many Germans don’t usually process visual information the way I do. It would appear to me, from my experiences living here since the first year of the 1990s, that many Germans categorize everything they see as appearing on a screen, since long before PCs or Smart Phones. They will openly and dispassionately stare, or even discuss one with others, as though the optical transaction were unilateral and they can’t be seen by whomever they are seeing.
This would also explain why Germans are notoriously passive while watching, e.g., a “foreigner” being harassed by a thug, or soccer fans, on a train. Somewhere in the nuanced gradation between voyeur and bystander seems to be the standard headspace within which Germans address the visual information presented by Public Space… until called into action by certain triggers (chiefly being: kinds of rule-breaking). Being American (and/or English speaking) my sense of my position in relation to the visual information, presented by Public Space, is participatory. I’m both more self-conscious (aka vain) and engaged than most Germans I see, who are often talking to themselves or digging in their noses, on the U-Bahn, as though they are unseen and acting in purely private circumstances. Worthy of study, I think.
The 7th track on Howard’s Jaime album is called 13th Century Metal. There is a retro-electronic (like a vintage telephone signal) riff against stomping drums and heavy guitars. Anyone who is aware of Brittany Howard and yet persists in being a fan of (the very pretty, fit, image-only) Lenny Kravitz is outing their absolute lack of Rock ‘n Roll connoisseurship. To excerpt the lyrics of 13th Century Metal:
I am dedicated to oppose those whose will is to divide us
And who are determined to keep us in the dark ages of fear
I hear the voices of the unheard
Speak for those who cannot speak
And shelter the minds that carry a message
Of peace, love, and prosperity
Which reads/ sounds great, but isn’t the effort doomed to fail, absolutely, as an instrument of Social Change? Attempting Social Change via sheer Admonishment is like trying to stop a mugging using poetry: has it ever worked? Will it ever? Brittany goes on to shout:
I repeat, we are all brothers and sisters
I repeat, we are all brothers and sisters
I repeat, we are all brothers and sisters
We are all brothers and sisters
We are all brothers and sisters
We are all brothers and sisters
Of course it’s not just Brittany, attempting this, in this song: the practise is an illustrious pop culture tradition. “Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now, “ as Jesse Colin Young crooned, into my childish ear, via my transistor radio, in the late 1960s. That was over fifty years ago and the results are in: it didn’t work.
I can provide an insight, into the limited effectiveness of simple Admonishment, as a parent. Listen.
Years ago I told my Wife: never try to use voice control on a kid dabbling in risky behaviour. If your four-year-old is riding his/her first bicycle forty meters ahead of you and approaching a busy intersection, the kid’s chances of survival are a coin toss. I don’t think many parents are aware of the fact that their kids are still with them via the good graces of sheer luck, considering the number of times I’ve seen distracted parents using voice control to protect their toddlers from serious injury or annihilation (is this related to the psychology of thinking that whatever one sees in Public Situations is being projected on a screen at a remove from consequences in one’s own Life?). We never let Daughter get further from us than one long, jumpable, stride away from us. The people who want to decrease the world’s human population by 90% call that helicopter parenting.
When Daughter got older (16), I noticed a little problem developing: a mild outbreak of acne (too much sugar consumed as a Pyrrhic Privilege) on her left cheek was worsening. Apparently, owing to the pernicious effect of Social Media (in which teens self-diagnose identities for “clout”), Daughter had come to the conclusion that she had an “acne-picking disorder”. Rather than admonish her that acquiring “disorders” from screens is purely a matter of self-inflicted Munchhausen’s-by-Proxy, I merely commented, casually, one day… “you look so young with that acne on your cheek… you look 14! And you used to look 20! Wow! Cool.” A couple of weeks later the acne is almost all cleared up. As I’ve commented before, there is a thin apparent line between how the CIA manipulates the infantilized public and how a cleverly-engaged parent manipulates his/her Teen (protectively). Except the latter does it with love.
On the way back from the apex of my walk, where I bought two large bottles of “ginger-shots,” because Flu season (the Flu’s pronouns are now Covid/ Corona, of course; I’m glad they didn’t rebrand Tuberculosis, eh? Not yet, at least) looms, I was listening to Morrissey’s I Am Not a Dog on a Chain, a well-recorded, nicely-arranged and deliciously-mixed-and mastered record. It sounds great on the Sony MDR-7506s. “Morrissey called the album “the very best of me” and “too good to be true […] too true to be considered good,” and I agree. Dim, dull, repulsive showbiz assets wacked at that well-made artefact with their mildewed assassin-mallets but it’s a mature and witty LP. Vonnegut must have thoughts his Times, as he wrote Harrison Bergeron, were particularly indicative, but I’m afraid old Kurt had no idea.
I somehow listened to Morrissey’s album in a jumbled order so the third track, the thrillingly winky (and adrenal, featuring a superbly septuagenarian Thelma Houston, who appears on the track as a Valkyrie) “Bobbi Don’t You Think They Know” came near the end of my walk and two noteworthy things happened while I was listening to it. Listen.
First, as I approached a corner stop light, at a cruising speed of the bpm of the single, a Turkish kid of about seven, in a bright red outfit, came dancing up the sidewalk toward me, clapping his hands over his head in perfect time to the music on my headphones, the music he couldn’t possibly hear, with coordinated foot-slides that seemed perfectly choreographed and professional to such an extent that for a sudden near-second my brain was fooled into believing I was watching a screen. The sensation passed quickly but it was powerful and convincing while it lasted and the memory of the sensation lingered.
Second, a block later, as the song vamped towards its conclusion, a woman, of about seventy, a woman I’ve seen before, who lives or works on that block, emerged from a doorway with the setting sun behind her. She is tall, lithe, straight-spined, a ruddy-gold bisque-colored, with age-straightened white hair in a pony-tale and wrinkle-radiant eyes and we made long, nonsexual eye-contact. We smiled with surpassing warmth at one another, exchanging a kind of recognition: we look like members of the same ambiguous tribe; the Tribe of The Not This, Not Those and Not That. Racist know-it-all Liberal Whites think all “Blacks” are “Blacks” and would expect all non-Hispanic non-Whites to go around high-fiving each other all day long but that’s not how it happens. Racist know-it-all Liberal Whites have a fetish for arranging, categorizing, collating and lumping-together prescriptively based on definitions of their own invention. I’m sure Redneck do so, too, but I’ve never seen Rednecks stamping their feet while doing so. Sometimes I pass Nigerian, or Ugandan, or Somali, or Black American (not often these days) men on the street and we nod discreetly in a pro-forma way but the warm, unguarded, smile of identification and recognition, from a stranger, is precious and rare. It happens maybe once a decade with me. I smiled warmly at her and she at me. Cousins.
I spent the ages of 4 until 14 in a very Black ghetto, on the Southside of Chicago, with refugees from the Deep South, in the 1960s and early 1970s, and I still have a chipped front tooth to remind me of that experience. It’s all about the culture of physical appearance. Not for one moment did any of those kids consider hyper-bookish me, of the funny phenotype, one of their own. Well, with the notable exception of my best chums Dwight Reed and Alvin Alexander, but that was before puberty.