BLOG THIS! Highly Suspect Wisdom for the Widely Disinterested Masses
Twelve days of creeping terror until armageddon and thus I am compelled to offer a snap of Charley as solace. She's not much of a rat deterrent, in fact they point and laugh at her while sunning their bellies in the yard noshing on wedges of Swiss, but it's entirely possible that I will take a CBD bath and stare at this picture for two hours tonight instead of watching the debate. I thought, hey, why donate money to a swing state senate race or man a phone bank or volunteer to be a poll worker or knock on doors and hand out brochures, when this could be my sole contribution to Making America Breathable Again? So help yourself, friends. Gaze deeply into her eyes. There is wisdom and comfort and possibly a martyr's 72 virgins in there. There is, if not relief, a brief respite from trepidation.
I was backing into the garage yesterday when I almost ran over a huge rat in the middle of the driveway. I stopped, as it was now under the car and didn't want to run over it, but also didn't want it to scurry into the garage and hide/start gnawing through the sheetrock. I got out and grabbed the leaf blower and gave it a good blast. The thing didn't move. Its fur did, like it was Auntie Em battening down half of Kansas before the tornado, but it refused to budge. I pulled the rest of the way into the garage and it was still there, so I went inside, figuring it would just wander off. An hour later I looked out the window and it was in the same spot, walking in demented circles, now closer to Brad Davis circling the obelisk in Midnight Express. It wobbled and slogged and crept, always counter-clockwise. I happened to be on the phone with a friend and described the scene. He said "just go kill it with a shovel. You don't want it burrowing into the house." "But it has a little pink nose," I said, knowing I was hopelessly soft and effete at heart, and always would be, "I think it's sick." He laughed, "All the more reason. It probably has Covid. Give it the Marie Antoinette." I hung up and tried to write but couldn't concentrate, went back to the window and watched the rat circle for an absurdly long time. Something had to be done. I went outside with a shovel. It didn't run, just hunkered down and stared with eyes of fathomless melancholy. Its sides were distended. I wondered if it was pregnant. Or possibly about to explode from the nerve agent Putin slipped into its saucer of tea. I cursed a series of gods, mostly Grecian, before moving onto Rome. Neither Minerva, Ceres, or Hephaestus were any help. I raised the shovel. The rat seemed to extend its jaw like a captured Ronin smoking a Gauloises, "Just make it a clean cut, eh?" And then I had a realization. This was all a play. Performance art. The rat was Karen Finley and we were doing a post-modern take on Mother Courage set in Pandemic times. The helplessness, infirmity, pointless circling, potential violence, encroaching mortality, control & power, discipline & punishment, the shaft and steel edge of unforgiving faux-Libertarian governance poised above our collective neck. Yeah, I didn't kill it. I picked it up gently and laid it under a grove of ferns, with an easy path back into the scrub. Maybe, for once, I had done a good thing. Dispensed mercy over convenience. The next morning it was still there, on its side, stiff. Two crows, jet-black and evilly beaked, no doubt dispatched from the shores of Acheron by some lesser demon, picked at its body. The sun tried, and failed, to break through an endless haze. It was a singular if too convenient metaphor for where we are all at, right now, today, in America. I swung the shovel like Greg Luzinski trying to park one in the upper deck. The crows avoided it with ease, cackling as they jetted off over the nearest roof. I scooped America Rat into a plastic bag, knotted it three times, and laid it in the trash.
A while ago my boy Greg Olear asked me to write something for the Sunday Papers edition of his newsletter PREVAIL. During the week it's straight journalism, concentrated almost entirely, and with astonishing depth, on nearly every aspect of current politics, but particularly Trump and his administration (if it deserves to be referred to as such). And unlike many other efforts of that stripe, Greg has amassed (earned) a huge following. On Sunday he lets off the gas a bit, allowing room for all varieties of fiction and other pre-election literary indulgences. In any case, below is a link to the very short epistolary story I wrote entitled "A Letter For My Infant Son, To Be Read In Thirty Years." There's an intro by Greg, and then the story appears below. Hey, check it out.
We suddenly have an invasion of ants, First time in twelve years we've had a single one. We also now have rats. I can hear them digging and burrowing around the side windows at 3:53 in the morning. I get up and they stare at me like, "Yeah, what are you gonna do?" The smoke from Eastern WA and California and Siberia is so thick we can't open the windows or go outside. It's like a bad movie with a lesser Baldwin about a volcano, except this one doesn't get miraculously put out with a nuke or a helicopter full of pudding right before the credits. You can't inhale without gagging and supposedly breathing the air without a mask for an hour is the same as smoking ten packs of Lucky Strikes, and even walking the dog seems seriously unwise, if not insane. And there is, of course, the hovering cloud of mucousy aerosolized Covid that every single person you pass is potentially coating you with. Still, we're lucky here in Seattle. It's grim, but it's not the end of the world. Or is it? Can anyone make a cogent argument for current politics being even remotely defensible? Let alone the motivations of these imbeciles as pictured above? Are some people really too dumb to be alive? If everyone at this rally were hauled away in a convoy of trucks and turned into mulch to seed the gardens in Sudan, would the world be one iota worse off? Of course, the supposed moderates will cave, as they always do, and RBG will be replaced with a FOX talking head who thinks the John Birch Society, if you really think about it, actually had a few good ideas, but screw it, health care is Socialist tyranny. Of course, no one who thinks that had last second emergency pancreatic surgery and spent the final seconds of their life paying off mob-Kaiser-debt, but screw them, if they weren't so weak, John Galt, they wouldn't have gotten sick at all, would they? Meanwhile it's all Ronnie James Dio all the time here in Seattle, because vaguely satanic and truly, deeply stupid music is the only thing that makes sense anymore.
Today In Fat Celluloid #2: As mentioned previously, I've decided to post some images I made between 1987-91, during the time that I was certain I would go on to be a filmmaker/photographer. For various reasons, both obvious and obscure, neither of those things happened. All the images in this series were shot on 35mm film with a Canon AE-1, using natural light. They were hand-developed and printed. The prints have been digitized in order to share them this way, but none have been digitally enhanced. Today's Fat Celluloid is called "She Walks The Line."
Today In Fat Celluloid #1: I've decided to post some images I made between 1987-91, during the time that I was certain I would go on to be a filmmaker/photographer. For various reasons, both obvious and obscure, neither of those things happened. All the images in this series were shot on 35mm film with a Canon AE-1, using natural light. They were hand-developed and printed, first in a collegiate darkroom and then later in the tiny darkroom (converted closet) in the apartment on Guerrero Street I shared with my then-girlfriend (not happy about the loss of sweater-hanging space) in San Francisco. I used an ancient Beseler enlarger, thrift store bins, and suspect chemistry, but it worked. The prints have been digitized in order to share them this way, but none have been digitally enhanced. Today's Fat Celluloid is called "H & A Day-Drinking In The Upstairs Apartment."
Found this Polaroid in a box a while back. I'm going to say this is circa 1983, or 9th grade, during the depth of my Zeppelin obsession. I was so proud of those albums and played them incessantly, washing dishes at Liugi's Pizza for $3.25 an hour after school to acquire them. Liugi, for what it's worth, always tried to short me at the end of the night, apparently under the impression that I was so sodden with bleach, fettuccini scraps, and rank marinara that I was unable to calculate 5 x 3.25 in my head. As revenge for being corrected, he often paid me in quarters. Eventually I was able to save up for that (truly horrible) SoundDesign rack component system, the pride of the electronics department at Caldor, which included built-in cassette, 8-track, and equalizer. The best thing about the equalizer was that no matter how you configured the sliders, the output always sounded exactly the same. No need to even get into speaker quality (lengths of yarn stapled from amp to empty Pro Keds shoeboxes would have sounded better). Even so, not having to share my dad's system down in the family room was pure liberation. In a sudden burst of Mao-esque cultural awakening, no doubt due to insights gained from a particularly affecting episode of Eight Is Enough, my sister was suddenly allowed to get a phone jack in her room, while I was permitted a stereo. For me it was like the doors of the Gulag being kicked off their hinges and sprinting through the high Siberian wheat in dirty clogs, humming "Jesus Just Left Chicago" at top volume. If you're wondering what other records were there in my burgeoning collection, I have a near-photographic memory: Sabbath, Hendrix, Traffic, ELO, Neil Young, Aerosmith, Janis, Jethro Turd, Kinks, Yes, Beatles, the first three Van Halen, Scorpions, Pyromania, Stones. Plus a bunch of off-brand rock no one has ever heard of that I inherited from my uncle; Sky Saxon, Ten Years After, The Flock, Genya Ravan, Gun, Sugarloaf, Canned Heat, Ram Jam, Moby Grape, Al Kooper Super Session. Plus my latest acquisitions, the first few tentative forays into a whole new world that would soon slap me by the bass clef and box my Cum On Feel The Noize ears, changing everything forever: early Police, Talking Heads, Adam Ant, Brian Eno, Violent Femmes, Tubeway Army, Chrome, Zappa, Velvet Underground. Not a single one of those records (except Chrome) survived my First Big Purge a few years later, traded in for a handful of Punk/Hardcore, which in turn did not survive the Second Big Purge as I transitioned into jazz, but those early Zeppelins served me well. Until they didn't anymore.
*I had every single album, so not sure why Zeppelin II isn't pictured in the array. Probably on the turntable.
**The fact that I grew up in a small, dark room with brown carpet and plaid wallpaper should explain a lot.
Yes, like every other 9 yr old boy in America, I was deeply, helplessly in love with Diana Rigg. The flared-eyed concentration. The pouty-lipped determination. The Mod Squad ironed hair and wooden steering wheel and velvet driving gloves. But mainly the nose, which cleaved the air before her like the prow of an Icebreaker forcing its way through the Northwest Passage. Sure, there was "The Avengers," and all the various delights it offered, including the simple linguistic pleasure of the name "Emma Peel." I also really loved her as Clytemnestra in the TV movie of "Oresteia" that I watched with my father on our green and yellow plaid couch, or Portia in 1970's "Julius Caesar." She was great in the bitterly acidic "The Hospital" opposite the acidulous George C. Scott. She was wasted as "Tracy" in one of the weaker Bonds, "On Her Majesty's Secret Blah Blah Blah," and although it could be said that all women in all Bond films were mere bikini-garland, from Ursula Andress to Denise Richards, Diana rose above them, despite the script, out of sheer self-possession alone. But my favorite role of hers might well be in "Theater of Blood," where she wore a white turtleneck and huge bouffant of Maria Conchita Alonso from Total Recall hair piled up on top of her head the entire film, too busy outrunning the axe of a blood-lusting Vincent Price to hit the salon and straighten that action back into the accepted and comforting Peel style.
RIP Diana, already missed.
Oh, like the reality of the virus, where it came from, where China is, the link between vaccines and autism, the way in which the stock market has little or no effect on the actual economy, who Karl Marx was and what he really wrote, what deficits really mean, the history of the Civil Rights movement, the War On Christmas, the origins of the slave trade, where Columbus actually landed (wasn't America!), the true and ugly nature of the Pilgrims, Fred Hampton, Papal conspiracy theories, the origins of Mormanism, Opus Dei, Bill Barr and Clarence Thomas' affiliation with Opus Dei, Robert Mercer and/or Cambridge Analytica, Gerrymandering, redlining, Shirley Chisholm, John Lincoln Rockwell, Trickle Down economics, Alan Greenspan's involvement in Ayn Rand's sex cult, Newt Gigrich's Contract With (against) America, Clinton's crime bill, Jeffrey Epstein's plane, Trump on Jeffrey Epstein's plane, Joan Quigley's influence over Ronald Reagan, Fawn Hall, George W. Bush being a male cheerleader at Yale, George W. Bush not being a Texan at all, Trump's grandfather being an immigrant, their last name being Drumf at the time, Grossvater Drumf being a white immigrant so it's cool, Trump's father being a low-level bagman for the mob, Roy Cohn, the Mark Burnett tapes, Deutschebank, vast money laundering through multiple hotel properties and golf resorts by unnamed persons, Devin Nunes' cow-suing, how buying non-HPBA plastic is a scam, the floating trash island in the North Pacific being the size of Texas, nurdles, Scaramucci, the reason for carrying Tiki Torches, where the phrase "shining city on a hill" really comes from, the ricotta-spine of Lyndsey Graham, climate change and/or climate death, defunding police, the constitutionality of the usage of executive orders, deliberately killing the post office in order to privatize it, handing out those privatization contracts to wealthy donors, where all the bees are going, the forty-two credible women claiming sexual assault, sun spots, losers and suckers, Filet O' Fish, Birtherism, Kamala-ism, Pence and the Rapture, not one glacier left, Kubrick's faked moonwalk, but mainly, the moist, reptilian, and utterly rapacious gaze of Jarred Kushner and the way in which I am quite sure, if left alone in a room together, he would eat my spleen.
Time to refresh wikileaks. Or maybe that's wikipedia.