Category Archives: Athenae

Start Tearing the Old Man Down

It’s getting colder. I made two and a half quarts of soup on Sunday morning, before the rain started and the wind picked up. We have a chest freezer now. We have a store-room full of apples. Every day I peel, chop, bag, so we can use them in baking or stews.

Kick and I tried to grow potatoes. We planted too late, when it was already cooling off, and damp, and they rotted in the ground, but everything else went wild, took over the small patch we planned. We’re saving seeds — tomatoes, peppers, squash — from this year’s bounty to start again next year. In just a few months, we can start them inside; in just a few months, this will all begin again.

We’re looking at blowing out the front yard, turning the whole dang thing into a garden. I’ve never successfully grown anything before, but now I think daily of my grandmother, shouting at the rabbits in the rhubarb. Pulling carrots. What Kick knows about Great-Grandma is that she had a root cellar that could have withstood a siege.

There was no food, you see, when Great-Grandma was a child. Eleven kids, ten of whom survived to adulthood, on virtually nothing. A potato as a treat. Wouldn’t you pickle things, after that? Wouldn’t you make jam from every single strawberry?

We talk a lot about inherited trauma, about generational memory. I never wanted for a single necessity, all my childhood, but I was surrounded by that fear every day. It’s useful now.

Kick is not afraid. Kick wears her mask and learns online and goes to skating lessons without complaint. Kick wants morning glories. She’s obsessed with them, these indigo beauties that grow across the alley in the yard of a neighbor. I’ve promised a raft of them in the spring.

I can’t even think about the spring.

Begin. Again.

We talked to her about the debate tonight. Pondered letting her stay up to watch but it starts so late, and Mama intends to yell at Donald Trump a lot. She knows, thanks to him and my lack of restraint when stubbing my toe on a chair, most of the “grown-up words” by heart. Those she doesn’t know, she’s sure to learn, come election night.

I want to believe. In November, in January, in the next year and the next and the next. I want to believe in the train and the bus and the earth continuing to turn and everyone I love staying or getting healthy, staying alive, staying here. I want to believe, but I am preparing.

I spent the spring so sick and broken that any kind of optimism feels foolish. Every twinge of hope gets smothered by the memory of her tiny hand in mine, helping me mark the ballot for Hillary in 2016. I have a picture of us, grinning, outside the polling place. I have a picture of her at the Women’s March, kitty-cat hat and all, holding a sign that said, “Future President.” She’d colored it herself.

We are hunkered down for the winter, and we are counting on a 77-year-old man to save us and it seems like a lot to put on his back. I hold onto the railing to go down the stairs, and I turned 45 this year. But: shoot him up with whatever kind of chimp speed and greenies he needs. Make that sonofabitch a kale smoothie, because he’s what we’ve got.

You know, he’s a decent guy, Joe Biden. That’s the thing, when we talk about two parties, when we lament that we are choosing between two old white men. We are choosing, in fact, between a 78-year-old white man who enables the absolute worst of our society, gives aid and comfort to white supremacy, not only doesn’t care about Black people but doesn’t care about anyone, and a 77-year-old white man who shows up to work and screws up sometimes. We do actually need a leader who isn’t pointlessly mean, who doesn’t just make things difficult. Who looks at a problem and tries to solve it instead of screaming at it.

This isn’t even about Trump personally. I don’t care that he’s a shithead who eats fast food. I don’t even care if he has secret addictions and disabilities, or isn’t really a billionaire, or dresses dumb. LBJ’s mouth made mine look like an angel’s, come on, and JFK was a humongous poon hound, and Roosevelt was banging his cousin. None of that’s important.

You can be mean and a jerk and even a sexist pig, and still good at your job, but look around. Look around. Is he good at his job? Does any of this HELP?

We just … it’s a fundamental question, right: Are you going to HELP ME? Are you going to nurture the kind of country in which I can grow and see the results of my work and live a good life? For too long we’ve ignored the people who’ve said this isn’t working for us, and for too long we’ve said wait just a little longer, and I would never say that’s not a part of how this happened.

We have to fix it now. There’s so much to fix. There’s the pandemic and the resulting poverty, there’s the poverty that was there before, there’s the healthcare that needs to be prioritized over health insurance, there’s student debt, there’s a housing crisis, prescription drugs cost a fortune, there’s a general unfucking of every single government service, but overall we need someone who will, upon hearing help me, not laugh and crush us under his heel because it’s fun.

This isn’t hard. It’s not hard to fake being a good dude for long enough to get the Post editorial board to love you. W managed to do it and he was an inside-out elephant anus. If you’re somehow on the fence, and I can’t even, but look. If you’re conflicted, at all, then watch, tonight.

If you’re still saying all of this is worth it for the courts, watch, tonight.

Who’s going to help? Who’s going to plant the garden, staff the shelter, run the program, chop the apples? Who’s going to help those people, instead of laughing at them, instead of raging? That’s it, that’s all there is. And if we know nothing else now, we know that.

The neighbors have a free box on their lawn from which anyone who is hungry can take canned goods. Nobody opens it in daylight, that I’ve seen, but in the morning it’s always empty. Our neighborhood’s project is literally giving things away: Coats, still warm and cozy, that are too small, boots that don’t fit growing feet, kitchen tools we no longer use or have a new one of. We put a table out front, post a picture on Facebook, and let people take what they want.

No judgment, no policing, no means-testing, no forms to fill out, no ID to show.

We’re thinking of a hot apple cider stand, to raise money for a cause, now it’s getting cold.

Things shouldn’t be so hard.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Geo Soctomah Neptune exists.

Neptune ran for the school board after being urged by community members and tribal youth, who were familiar with their work as an art teacher in an after-school program. Of the three candidates elected, Neptune received the most votes — about half.

“To almost stand up and say that they’re embracing me in this leadership role as a Two Spirit was incredibly affirming,” Neptune told Maine Public. “I feel very lucky that I live in a place where my community accepts me because a lot of trans people don’t have that.

Warning: incredibly loud and annoying autoplay ads at link, but worth it to read the story.

A.

Anti-Catholics

Sure, that’s the real problem here: 

The scrutiny focused on Ms. Barrett’s beliefs has provoked allegations of old-fashioned anti-Catholicism on behalf of her Democratic critics. A good amount of febrile nonsense has indeed been floated regarding Ms. Barrett’s spiritual life, such as the notion that People of Praise inspired Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a charge that is reminiscent of 19th-century myths of nuns kidnapping good Protestant girls to force the faith upon them.

People keep pointing out the absurdity — the Democratic presidential nominee is a Catholic, the Speaker of the House is a Catholic, THE ONLY CATHOLIC PRESIDENT WE’VE EVER ACTUALLY HAD WAS A DEMOCRAT — and it’s such a fundamental misunderstanding of Catholicism as a part of modern electoral politics that I have to laugh.

Republican Catholics do not make room in their Republicanism or in their Catholicism for anyone who is not fervently anti-abortion.

That’s it.

That’s all there is.

You cannot be a Democrat and a Catholic, because Democrats generally support abortion rights. This has been the line for three decades at least, that the only issue that matters is abortion, the only Roman Catholic position that life begins at conception, and therefore there is no moral option to support a candidate who does not oppose abortion in the strongest of ways from the earliest stages of pregnancy, with no exceptions whatsoever.

No, not even if the anti-abortion candidate is a subhuman slime mold who’s likely paid for several abortions himself. Not even then. Because, you see, the slime mold still appoints anti-abortion judges. So it’s worth it.

That’s how you have churchgoing politicians told they’re hostile to religion, while a guy who couldn’t spell Jesus if you spotted him the J and both S’s gets a pass and his henchmen get awards for “Christlike behavior.” 

You can point out the hypocrisy all day long. I’m not here to kinkshame you. We’re in a global pandemic. Make your own fun.

Just stop expecting it to matter that the candidate of a party that is supposedly so anti-Catholic is, himself, a Catholic. The people calling him godless know very well that he isn’t. They don’t care, and they know the people they’re talking to don’t care either.

They want an anti-abortion judiciary and they will tie themselves into any knots they have to in order to get to one. Stop acting like if you win the meme wars with your maiden aunt/racist uncle somehow this will convince them of anything. They are dishonest in their means but they are 100 percent serious about their ends.

Far better to spend our time focused on dissuading purportedly objective news outlets from allowing six reliably-available-for-a-quote dickheads from defining Christianity in general, defining Catholicism in particular, and promoting the entire idea that Americans are electing a spiritual leader of any kind. (The job entails drone-bombing schoolchildren, do you really want to give it to a monk?)

Democrats elected, let us not forget, the most devoutly Christian president in modern times in James Earl Carter, shortly before it began to occur to Republicans that they could use this one issue to cleave Holy Mother Church in two and leave Her for dead in the alley. Carter, you’ll recall, was roundly characterized as some kind of Communist pussy and is presently 856 years old and hammering nails into Habitat for Humanity Houses on weekends, in between curing diseases and brokering world peace.

So maybe the next time someone who hated him and his party opens their yawp about who does and doesn’t have JC on speed-dial, instead of arguing with the jackass we ask why he’s allowed in the stable in the first place.

A.

She’s Dead, and Life is Possible. She Made It Possible.

We had built a fire in the backyard on Friday because it was the first night it seemed cold enough to do so. It took forever to get it started. The wood was cold and a little damp from sitting in the garage all summer. The butane lighter was starting to run out of juice and we didn’t have any matches. We snapped sticks for kindling, crumpled up paper and scrap cardboard, lit it over and over and over again.

When the logs finally caught, we sat back in camp chairs, roasted marshmallows. I’d been telling myself and Mr. A and Kick, who is six, that we would get through the winter with this fire pit. Even if there was a foot of snow, we would shovel out a spot and have little parties out here, just the three of us and the very few people admitted into our quarantine circle.

It got dark. Kick counted stars. The logs popped and settled and I pondered building the fire back up. We could stay up late, could open another bottle of wine, could make just one more s’more. It took almost an hour to get this fire going. Seemed a shame to waste it.

Kick and Mr. A took a walk while I started a new book. They came back, sat down, and he looked at his phone.

There are, and always have been, ways to change a hopeless world. Maybe no one knew that as well as Ginsburg: 

Earlier, I spoke of great changes I have seen in women’s occupations. Yet one must acknowledge the still bleak part of the picture. Most people in poverty in the United States and the world over are women and children, women’s earnings here and abroad trail the earnings of men with comparable education and experience, our workplaces do not adequately accommodate the demands of childbearing and child rearing, and we have yet to devise effective ways to ward off sexual harassment at work and domestic violence in our homes. I am optimistic, however, that movement toward enlistment of the talent of all who compose “We, the people,” will continue.

Despair is an insult, to the memory of someone like that. So what’s to be done? Fight, obviously. Fight not just with words and statements and stern tweets but with quorum calls and sit-ins on the floor, with every tool your arsenal, with every inch of your resolve be it polite and acceptable to pundits or no.

The last time this happened, this what could have been done: 

First, they’d initiate a quorum call or a roll-call vote. This, of course, would require a Democrat to be in the chamber, and perhaps several other Democrats to support a request for a vote or quorum call.

However, their physical presence in the chamber does not mean they automatically count toward a quorum. The Senate does not have turnstiles to count people as they enter or exit; instead, senators usually count toward a quorum when they cast a vote or answer when their names are called during a quorum call (more on this below).

Getting a vote on a procedural matter would require some rejecting unanimous consent agreements that preclude spontaneous roll-call votes and some preparation, perhaps in consultation with the Senate parliamentarian.

Make them show up, every day, every time. Make them pick nits. Make them maneuver. Make them MAD. Make them tired. Make them work. Make them do it over and over and over again. Could they overcome this or any other parliamentary procedure you throw at them? Of course they could. THAT’S NOT THE POINT.

The point isn’t to win. The point is to fight. To slow it all down. To make them pay for every inch they take. To drag this out until it’s impossible to justify the cost of the fight. To make it politically unwise to continue. To focus attention.

And once and for all time to make it clear that when something matters you show up armed to the teeth.

For too long we’ve accepted “there was nothing else we could do” as if it’s somehow ever okay to say that as long as you’re alive. Yes, we continue to ride that Democratic pony because the choice is between that pony and an angry sexually ravenous wolverine with mange and we’re not idiots, but it doesn’t mean we can’t kick that pony in the ass. Especially when the pony keeps asking us for money.

We’re out here phone banking and letter-writing and digging pennies out of the couch cushions and throwing cash we can’t afford to give at candidates who have no shot in hell and what we want to see, as we home-school our kids and side-hustle for more side hustles to keep up with rising expenses and the absurd need for food and heat, is a level of fight that understands and honors that.

That feels as desperate as this does, as we do. That seems to suit the occasion. That takes us seriously. That doesn’t justify racism or bigotry but instead of acting like we’re in some kind of debating society calls fascism and idiocy what it is, punches it in the face and leaves it by the side of the road.

You want to say something matters to you? Then what are you prepared to do? I know people are sick of me saying this and I should probably grow up, but what are you prepared to do? If the answer from those who are empowered to represent us is something like, “sit around waiting for David Brooks to be disappointed enough to write a column about it” then get out of the goddamn chair and let someone else sit in it.

Someone who has ideas about what to do, instead of how to get away with doing nothing.

The fire burned out fast. I wanted another drink but wanted to check in on friends too and I’m too old to drunk-text with any dexterity; it was time for Kick to go to bed and she didn’t understand why her parents were upset. I pulled her close.

Someone important died, I said. Someone who cared about the kinds of things we care about and was in a very powerful position to protect people. And we need all the people like her we can get right now.

“We are going to try to make the world better for you,” I told her. “We try to do that every day.”

Less a lie, I hoped, looking at her face, than a prayer.

The coals were settling, sparks drifting upward. Her hair smelled like smoke. How long have we sat around fires, promising our children tomorrow would be better than today?

As long as there have been children. As long as there have been fires.

A.

Please, They Already Have My Vote

Mitch McConnell tries to have phone sex with me:

Donald Trump makes me want to vote for Biden twice:

Joey B. Shark is an enormous dorkwad on his best day, there has been nothing cool about him since 1957 and that’s actually one of the coolest things about him, but damn if Republicans aren’t going out of their way to make him look BADASS.

I mean it. Every day some YAF-minted dickwad in a $14 suit hops on Fox to say Joe’s going to let the Black Panthers run the State Department I’m like shit yeah, let’s rumble.

They post “what a pussy” pictures of Joe in a black facemask and suddenly Joseph Robinette Biden becomes a BRILF, a Bank Robber I’d Like to Fuck.

Joe “about that busing thing” Biden wants to abolish the police and give your McMansion to welfare people. It’s ABOUT TIME he went in that direction, who needs a 6,000 square foot house to themselves, you can give BLM some room in there, you won’t even notice.

He wants to burn down the Burger King! Have you EATEN at a Burger King lately? Bring. It. On.

If the Democrats retake the Senate they’ll pack the courts with ideologues and make a bunch of places states and suddenly we can put an NFL team in American Samoa that will fuck up the entire rest of the league? DOOOO EEEEET.

Biden hates the police! WELL half the comments on cop PR posts are firefighters bragging they’ve spit-roasted the entire department’s badge bunnies. Whose side you want to pick in that fight, the guys who rescue children and kittens or the ones who empty a mag into anything that bugs them and then whine when someone’s sign is rude?

They keep this up, I’m going to take their advice and vote eight times, one for each orgasm.

A.

Happy Biden/Harris/BBarryBamz Thing

There’s so much noise that we forget we can have any fun at all with the campaign. We need to have a little bit of fun.

I really wish I could take Kick to hear Kamala speak.

A.

Maliciousness

I’m never one to credit evil as an explanation where stupidity will do nicely, but as this post points out, this is starting to surpass the “wishful thinking” phase: 

You pushed faculty to offer in-person classes or classes that could at least have an in-person component. Classes that drew students to campus and put butts in classroom seats were valued. You created all sorts of untested hybrid options with the idea that some personal interaction was better than none. Faculty objected and students went with online options when possible, but still you persisted.

You created pokazukha websites and plans and fliers for your students and faculty, complete with testing sites and “dashboard numbers” of tests and cases. You told them that “We’re all in this together” and that things would be fine because you were locked and loaded for this war.

Then, you passed the buck to a group of 18-to-22-year-olds and told them, “We want you to have a normal college experience” in the same breath that you layered on admonitions and restrictions that made such an experience impossible. You also told these students to act in a fashion that belied your decades of experience observing students, even as you lacked the resources or structure to enforce such edicts to the extent necessary to avoid case spikes.

It’s becoming clear that the spike in cases in the Midwest is due to college reopening (not to mention GOP legislatures and GOP-appointed judges overthrowing safety measures in the name of having something to yell to their resentment-roided supporters about) and I’m about 100 percent done with blaming kids for not doing what grown-ass people cannot do without throwing a fit in the Trader Joe’s.

And let’s not let municipalities off the hook here. My entire neighborhood melted down over the weekend about a house party some high schoolers threw that infected a whole shitload of people and we were 100 comments into “when do I get my tax money back from the school since these kids obviously didn’t learn anything” by the time someone pointed out that Illinois is in Phase Four. Gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed. Legally.

Restaurants are open. Stores are open, and not just grocery stores. Bars are open, and you know, the longer this goes on the more sympathy I have for people who need a drink with friends. I’m more open to going to a bar where I know they clean the place, than I am to the HomeGoods where who the hell knows where half that stuff’s been, and do you really need a throw pillow at the moment? Sports are going on every single weekend on every single soccer and baseball field. Some schools are open, too.

So if a group of students does something perfectly legal, who are we to then take to the internet and shame them? You don’t like what they’re doing? THEN CLOSE THE FUCKING BARS. CLOSE THE FRATS. CLOSE THE DAMN CAMPUS. SEND EVERYBODY HOME. I hate this idea, I hate everything about it, I loved college and I still love my university more than anyplace else on earth including my current actual house. But I want everybody to live is the thing.

The post above references canaries in coal mines and to spin that out to its end, the canary didn’t lock itself in the cage and carry itself down into the dark. We are so busy yelling at the canaries that we let the company that built the mine pack up and leave without a single consequence.

A.

The Cannon Fodder Objects

My first newspaper: 

As more than a quarter of Wisconsin’s record-breaking 1,547 new daily cases came from UW-Madison students on Thursday, the situation in Madison is increasingly worrying. Continued spread among off-campus communities endangers all of Madison and Dane County, jeopardizing lives, local businesses and any return to normalcy. This doomed attempt to reopen will ultimately saddle local authorities with an outbreak that continues long after campus facilities close.

In short, what we all had feared — what we knew would be inevitable — has come true. The exponential growth of COVID-19 cases, the lockdown of campus dorms, with the misdirection of faulting individualistic behavior, UW-Madison has now fallen to the same fate as other universities around the country. And if leadership had made responsible decisions from the outset of this crisis, that is to protect its students and the greater Madison community, we would not be here, and we should not forget that.

My local Facebook group is a massive shitstorm of shaming right now because, get this, a bunch of high schoolers had a party and now two dozen of them are sick. I’m not immune to have side-eyed a dude or two (it’s always a dude, sorry) either not wearing a mask or taking it OFF once he’s inside (the FUCK, fellas) but let’s not confuse encouraging healthy behavior in our neighbors with collective action by our government.

People keep remarking on the lack of mourning for the COVID victims, especially compared with those of 9/11. It’s really not that hard to figure out why “we” aren’t “united” in our attempts to stop the virus and keep each other safe. There’s no incentive to do it. The point of things like that is to spur us to action. There was tremendous incentive to pull the country together after 9/11: it fed our need for a nice long war, in the endlessly good name of making sure this never happened again.

What is the incentive to collectively mourn the dead of coronavirus? It’s not like collective action to improve the lives of citizens by curing disease is something our GOP leaders are interested in. What purpose would it serve, for them? It would only remind people that when we’re not led by venal garbage trash we can do big things well and save one another.

There’s nothing in it for them.

And with the exception of kids like those above, nobody’s speaking up for those being fed into the woodchipper of this virus, whether they’re college students or delivery drivers. We need to amplify the voices saying this isn’t the way things had to be, and go to hell with the idea that it is.

A.

So Far, So Good: Pandemic Edition

You ever hear the joke about the optimist who jumped off a building?

Every floor he fell, he said, “So far, so good.”

You ever hear something else?

I thought of both of those when I read this:

We have habits. We have things we’re used to doing. We have routines, and we WILL NOT CHANGE THEM FOR ANYONE. My fellow honkies, we are locked in to our way of doing things and we cannot move. 

That’s the main issue here, beyond “partisanship” and “division” and “why is everything political,” beyond racism, beyond the internet and the lack of local news and the way we exchange information now, beyond Our Current Society which we act like just happened instead of being built. We have an existing relationship to America and we cannot change it. At all. For anything. 

Wear a mask in the grocery store. Stop going out to eat for a month while your town’s on lockdown. Let the schools, disease vectors in the best of times, stay closed, stay remote. Care for one another, yes with time and words, but mostly with money. Make decisions that only seem hard until you realize there’s literally no other way to do it. 

We think this stuff is obvious but it’s so, so not. Not when we’re used to stumbling out the door half-asleep and still managing to get the kids to school and ourselves to the office before that second cup of coffee. That’s what you want to preserve, more than those kids or that school or that office or that coffee. 

Writ large, that’s your life. You think you’ve got your eye on the ball, you think you know what the important things are, and then you have to go to a new dentist and the whole earth caves in. Because what really matters to us, turns out, isn’t life or liberty or the pursuit of happiness, it’s familiarity. It’s comfort. It’s knowing your surroundings. It’s knowing, generally, not having to think about what you’re doing and why. You won’t give that up for, apparently, a hundred and fifty thousand dead.

Look at the rage that happens on your neighborhood Facebook group every time the fucking grocery store moves something around, it’s like the end of the world that you have to go one aisle over for beans now. When you have to change the Starbucks from one you always go to, to a different one two blocks away. We go through the motions to preserve not what we love, but what we know

There comes a point in everybody’s life when what you think you know is at odds with the world around you and you either change things or your close your eyes HARD and you spend the rest of your life telling yourself a story about how you weren’t wrong, the world was wrong.

So many of us close our eyes.

We do it so often, it starts to feel familiar. 

A. 

It’s The Money, Stupid

Yeah, we have known this:

The problem is with the governance structure of the corporation. CEO pay is most immediately determined by corporate boards, who largely owe their jobs to top management. Furthermore, keeping their jobs depends almost entirely on keeping other board members happy. Board members who are nominated for re-election win well over 99 percent of the time. Since these jobs typically pay several hundred thousand dollars a year for a few hundred hours of work, board members generally want to keep their jobs.

One sure way of pissing off other board members is asking questions like, “Can we get another CEO who is just as good for half the pay?” It is a safe bet this sort of question is almost never asked in corporate board rooms, even though this is supposed to be precisely the question they should be asking all the time.

This IS the question workers are asking all the time, not that anybody listens to THOSE GUYS. Jesus, it’s not just the base pay and the perks, it’s the severances. If you told me I’d get paid twice my annual salary immediately plus a bunch of stock and my leftover vacation time of which there is 3 months’ worth and I get to keep the really nice car you gave me, do you KNOW how fast I’d get fired?

There’s something broken when our society incentivizes people not to work, we hear over and over and over in relationship to giving out cash to lower-income families so they can, you know, feed their children. Somehow we never quite zero in on the idea that if the head of the company is being paid to do work that most of their underlings and assistants do for them on the off chance they might get promoted, then that’s the same disincentive.

But somehow it only counts when it’s imaginary welfare queens.

Look. Things are bad right now and they ain’t getting no better so long as we continue to pretend there’s no money while we stiff the warehouse floor.

A.

Threatening the Crafters Now

For God’s sake, it’s like they WANT to lose:

At first, Guzman-Rhea sewed masks for her family, but as cases started to be identified across the state later in March, she connected online with other Wisconsinites who, like herself, were itching to feel productive. They were motivated to contribute to an urgent need during a period of deep uncertainty and stress that left many Wisconsin residents homebound and feeling helpless.

Guzman-Rhea quickly found herself organizing a regional crew of crafters as part of a massive statewide group that has coordinated the donation of hundreds of thousands of homemade masks to frontline workers since February. She recruited volunteers from local faith congregations and solicited donations from businesses. She also secured the Meenon town hall about 15 minutes south of Danbury to serve as an operations base for distributing masks across a wide swath of northern and western Wisconsin.

“I’m very outspoken when it comes to something I’m passionate about,” Guzman-Rhea said. “So I was stopping in churches, going to bars, stopping at stores, putting up fliers.”

Her zeal was not universally welcomed.

Look. It’s very simple. People with sewing machines are not to be messed with. They spend all day sticking their fingers in metal contraptions connected to the electrical outlets, their fingernails always dangerously close to a giant NEEDLE going stabbity stabbity stabbity. Do you KNOW how much energy it takes to make a dress from a frickin’ PATTERN when Old Navy exists? And you want to turn your Big QAnon Energy on those people? Really?

This is a fight you can’t in. These people have textiles and time on their hands.

While Guzman-Rhea was alone in the building, she said three strangers — two men and a woman — entered through the front door while a fourth individual she did not recognize waited in a car outside.

“They proceeded to threaten my family,” she said of the three individuals who confronted her. “They said they were going to firebomb my house, as well as my vehicle [and] the town hall” if she continued her mask work.

GREAT. That’s just great. You know who history’s greatest monster is right now, of course. It’s a lady making masks for her neighbors. Way to have your eye on the ball there, nuttergoobers.

Crafters and makers are universally organized, energetic, and creative. Is that really who you want to be screwing with right now? You piss off the legions of people who buy yarn in bulk and they will END you.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Bodega Cats exist:

The comments on that one are particularly fine, and for five days I’ve been saying “pettikitty” to myself and giggling, which is badly needed right now.

A.

What Joe Biden Hasn’t Done

Hasn’t condemned looting and property damage that follow protests.

Hasn’t put the flag in the background of the Democratic Convention or in any commercials or campaign events.

Hasn’t mentioned God and/or took God out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Is going to take away people’s guns.

“You are actively trying to amend your Second Amendment right and take away our guns,” the man said.

“You’re full of s—,” Biden replied, adding that “I support the Second Amendment.”

Opposes law and order. 

Hates police.

I can do this all day, you know. I can line-by-line refute what’s being shared around various circles and pages that might be owned by people you know or might be run out of a Fox shop or might be backed by Daily Caller pieces or might just be horseshit of the worst possible kind. I can show everyone where they’re wrong.

Are they going to listen to me? Or am I just some liberal loudmouth who hates their freedom and wants to destroy America? Or is there going to be another list full of other items that are terrible, of things Joe Biden has done and not done? And after I fact-check that list, another?

I’m not sure it matters what Joe does or doesn’t say. The past 7 days have been an object lesson in the power of Fox News, Facebook and other right-leaning partisan media in driving a false narrative about what Joe Biden and the Democrats do and don’t do.

I’m honestly not sure if the truth matters to people who are looking to express defensiveness and belligerence instead of honest political views. I’m honestly not sure there’s any profit in handing out Pinocchios to people who are still “for” their team and “against” the other one, citing issues that don’t exist and can’t be proven beyond a copypasta from your neighbor who knows a guy who heard from someone.

I’ve been tired of the meme wars since 2016 and my exhaustion has tipped over into aversion.

I don’t actually disagree with Michael Moore here: 

“I’m warning you almost 10 weeks in advance. The enthusiasm level for the 60 million in Trump’s base is OFF THE CHARTS! For Joe, not so much,” he later added.

He continued to voters: “Don’t leave it to the Democrats to get rid of Trump. YOU have to get rid of Trump. WE have to wake up every day for the next 67 days and make sure each of us are going to get a hundred people out to vote. ACT NOW!”

That I can give you those links, that I can check every fact, verify every statement, plus name four people who won’t be able to stay in this country if he has his way, that I can name 10 directly affected in verifiable personal ways by this administration to the adverse effect, holds no water with anyone when there’s a 24-7 propaganda network blaring that all violence is leftist violence. That Joe Biden would make it worse. That we have no choice but to re-elect Trump in some act of aggression against all the forces of the 21st century “ruining” America including some, let’s be honest, over which not even Trump has control.

Trump cannot make athletes play if they don’t want to. He cannot make the movies show the stories you want them to show. He cannot dictate that everyone be nicer to the cops. Don’t you think he would have if he could? The things people are so angry about — that the world doesn’t look like our past ideas of it, that nothing is the same anymore and the world is full of indignities and nonsense that drive us insane in a million little ways — those aren’t even all his fault.

But they’re part and parcel, aren’t they, of voting for him, since the same people who like the athletes and the movies like the Democrats? Isn’t it all just one big morass? Isn’t that the thing we liberals fail to get, over and over and over, through loss after loss after loss? That it’s not this or that percent, it’s God and the flag and traditional American values against … against. That’s what we don’t understand, right? That’s why we keep losing to him?

I haven’t felt so tired or scared since this all started. Not even in the early days of the pandemic. We lose this and we lose it all. And I’m not going to yell at protesters for protesting or even violent looters for violently looting because if they listened to me would be the first time that train ever showed up and who the fuck am I anyway to tell someone who’s angry at decades of subjugation to just put that aside? I am going to say, and I am not usually THIS pessimistic, that if we do nothing but fact-check and post memes and yell on Facebook, Michael Moore’s going to be right.

ACT NOW means register voters. It means volunteer to drive people to the polls. It means continue to post information about how to vote by mail. It means vote by mail if you can. The lines have to be out the door. The mail has to be an avalanche. It can’t be contested. It can’t be close. It has to be overwhelming and beyond dispute. It has to be a landslide the likes of which we don’t even think are possible anymore. It has to be something we ain’t ever seen in all our livin’ lives.

Can we do that? I don’t know. I look at what’s arrayed against us and honestly, until this week I would have said we’ll be okay. I would have said we’ve got a prayer. Now? I’m looking at maps to find a crossroads and I’m stocking up on salt and shovels.

ACT NOW means if you have five bucks and you haven’t given it to a candidate who needs it you need to do that. ACT NOW means sign up to text and send postcards and make your friends and kids do it too. ACT NOW means get the fuck off your social media and stop fighting the meme wars, it’s stupid, it’s unproductive, and it’s fueling the despair that, once and for all time, is NOT A PLAN.

Make a plan. Because those things up there, that Joe Biden did and didn’t do? On election day they don’t mean anything. True or false.

A.

Trump’s Illness Isn’t an Illness

Look, even if this shit was effective (and it’s not) it would still be hot garbage:

Trump is not a bad president because he can’t walk very fast or needs to use two hands to drink water or occasionally slurs his words. He’s a bad president because he’s appointed bad people to every job in the land and is spouting white supremacist nonsense every single day. If he was doing it from a body that looked like Arnold’s in his prime it wouldn’t make it any less horrifying.

(I get it, guys, he’s said the same things about Biden. Fine, fuck him. But for what it’s worth I’ve heard the most ableist shit about Biden from leftists during the primary, not from the GOP.)

This kind of crap tells people that a person can’t do the job if they can’t walk fast enough. If they can’t stand for long periods of time, or need assistance with eating or drinking. FDR didn’t need any help winning World War II from a wheelchair, and I’d take him in a heartbeat over what we have now. George Washington presidented while having the flu and a tumor in his leg plus whatever gnarly-ass stuff his teeth were doing, and he did well enough. Maybe someday we’ll have a president who uses a cane or a chair or something else and as long as they’re not retweeting deepfake wingnut conspiracies on the can nobody should care one bit how they get around.

I don’t want the president who does in fact need a golf cart to get from here or there to be prevented from having one because we’re more focused, literally, on the journey than the destination.

Which is what this kind of stuff gets in the way of. We rail against political coverage as fashion criticism all the time, that’s nothing new, the criticizing of who wore more flag pins or whatever we think will rile up the rubes. This is more insidious. Because there’s no physical standard (it’s not like being a firefighter and having to run up 10 flights of stairs) all we have to go on is our image of the past holders of the office and the stuff we project.

Right now we’re projecting hella bullshit and we need to stop.

A.

Who Thinks Like This?

I hate horror movies.

(I am still watching Lovecraft Country, because Lovecraft + racial reckoning + OMAR COMIN’.)

However, I will not watch all five SAW movies. I will not watch the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I will not watch any of the Halloweens and I only saw one of the Friday the 13ths at a sleepover like 100 years ago and none of the others nor that one ever since. People tell me I should watch the Haunting of Hill House because SHIRLEY THEE JACKSON but I cannot. I got 20 seconds into The Ring and shut that shit down.

(I liked Get Out fine, but it had other stuff going on.)

I don’t enjoy being scared. I don’t get some kind of almost-sexual frisson from monsters jumping out of the dark. I have no desire to wonder if there is a dead thing under my house or some tentacled thing swimming alongside me at the beach. I get the psychology of it, of loving being scared.

I know there are people who love being terrified. I don’t get you, people.

I don’t get this, either:

What do you GET, out of convincing yourself your perfectly fine normal block is a dystopian hellscape from which only Donald Trump, himself some kind of underworldly creature, can save you? What does living in this kind of constant rage do to your body and mind? What HAPPENED TO YOU, that you feel this is a way to see the world, as a shiny cover over dark and skittering things, all of them thinking about eating you alive?

There’s a bulletproofed bodega near my old bus stop (back when I did things like take buses places; god I miss the bus) and it’s known to be disputed territory between two groups of assholes who take turns holding it up. Every other weekend there’s crime scene tape around it and I warn relatives off of it but I also go weeks and months without thinking about it at all, walking past it at all hours of the day and night.

I lock my doors at night, I’m not an idiot, you know? But when I told out-of-town acquaintances that our garage had gotten broken into this one time, everyone acted like I’d lost a child, like my sense of safety had been somehow personally destroyed. I suppose it could have been, but my crazy pills were working back then and they didn’t take my bike. But then the line comes out, “oh, I suppose that changed how you look at things,” meaning the old “conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged canard.”

Shove your worldview off on circumstance, I guess, blame your kids and taxes for you having always wanted to be a shithead, but what kills me is that by this logic the most conservative people on earth should be poor people who live in the neighborhoods Gaetz and his fellow electroputzes tell us to speed through in terror.

Poor people of color are disproportionately the victims of crime, so what is our excuse, my fellow honkies, for this constant “back in Grandma’s day you could leave your bike on the lawn and no one would steal it, it’s such a different world” kind of racist small talk? What is our immense need to be so scared all the time? Why do we WANT our leaders to tell us we teeter on the edge of a knife as the world holds its breath?

Did THAT MANY of us read Watchmen wrong?

I mean just generally how dare we, the group of people least likely to be shot by police in the back as we walk away from them, pretend to such depths of fear and despair as to turn to someone whose Twitter bio is “Florida man” to tell us how precisely we’ll be dismembered upon the morrow? How dare we get some kind of sick high from that?

Especially when there is so much to be scared of. I think that’s why I hate horror movies so much. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, the second of my lifetime to result in mass deaths, and let’s not get started on the massive unending unwinnable wars. You want me to look at that and worry about some dipshits posing for Instagram photos as gang members and six cars on fire?

I don’t lack for sources of fear. If I did I wouldn’t need to make up a story about prisons and riots and death in the streets. I could make myself terrified every day by turning on C-SPAN, but god damn, man, sometimes you just have to put down the political crack pipe and go outside.

It’s harmless out there, I promise you. Especially where you live.

A.

How To Lose 25 Pounds in Quarantine*

First, and this is critical, plan ahead.

Like ideally four years ahead, the point in the past at which your country can elect a neon-colored asshead cheeto bigot.

You’d think that wouldn’t be important later, as you’re intimately versed in how awful political losses are, but this one acts slow. First there’s the shock and fear, then the profound disappointment, then the anger. Skip bargaining and acceptance, they’re bullshit. Sometimes dabble in depression but mostly allow each day — with its particular indignity, executive order, general embarrassment, or outright attempt to murder those you love — to return you to anger.

Let the poison seep into your blood and expect every day to be a disaster.

If you can’t go back that far, or abstract yourself that much, try … a year. Maybe 18 months. You have a job you’re scared to love as much as you do, friends and family who are nothing short of angelic beings masquerading as people walking around on this earth. A healthy child, a loving spouse, a solid roof over your head, if not stupid money then enough to eat meat and buy wine. The rest of the country is on absolute fire but you should be doing pretty good. 

Now develop, for no particular reason, a muscle spasm in your torso.

See a doctor. See a specialist. Treat it conservatively. Rest, ice, heat, topicals, OTC pain meds. When it’s mostly gone, pretend it never existed.

Now make sure your anti-depressant, your best friend, your lifesaver for the past 17 years, stops working inexplicably, and kind of don’t notice for a while. Figure you’re tired because you’re working hard, and you’re nervy because the stakes are high, and the neon-colored asshead cheeto bigot is, after all, trying to kill all your friends. It’s normal to be a little … off.

Until you can’t stop crying whenever someone so much as looks at you. Until the thought of washing your hair makes you want to die.

Spent 20 minutes every morning sitting on the floor of your bathroom doing breathing exercises. Convince yourself this is meditation. Get really, really, really into expensive skincare.

Decide you should get a new therapist and probably switch up your meds.

Talk every night to your long-suffering spouse about how you probably need a therapist but, since not doing stuff you know you need to do in order to sabotage yourself is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT YOUR DEPRESSION’S JAM, don’t make the call. Convince yourself to tough it out.

Start to get nervous about work. Hit the three-year mark at the job and wonder if you should still be doing it. Pick some fights to see how they feel. Kick a bees’ nest or two. Get stung a lot. Realize that just because your brand of FUCK IT WE’LL DO IT LIVE has worked so far, doesn’t mean it’ll work forever. Have trouble sleeping.

Watch the neon asshead cheeto bigot try to deport your friends. Watch him nominate a rapey fascist alcoholic to the Supreme Court. Be just a little more tense at home than you really should with a sensitive, empathetic child who’s developing caregiver tendencies. Yell at your nice spouse a lot.

Plan a work project no one but a seasoned triathlete with NASA-level multi-tasking skills can possibly execute perfectly. Convince yourself, with utterly no basis in reality, that upon the success of this project rides your continued employment.

Then, have the pain return with a vengeance.

See a specialist. Try several ineffective medications. Have the specialist refer you to a surgeon. Have the surgeon tell you he doesn’t want to do surgery, but he doesn’t have any other ideas either. Look at him in disbelief as he suggests you go home and just … live like this. Have the surgeon suggest another surgeon. Be in excruciating pain that again, you might ONLY wish on Stephen Miller, every time you have to be on your feet for more than 20 minutes, which is all day, three days a week at least. Read several internet forums dedicated only to this problem, which convince you it’s unsolvable.

Go mostly vegetarian. Almost vegan. Drink smoothies. Take supplements. Then take different supplements. Then take more. Do breathing exercises on the bus home. Cook dinner, none of it appetizing to you at all.

Try legal marijuana. Become afraid of food. Transfer your work-related panic disorder to one directed at dinner.

Almost black out on the train. Collapse in your office. Grit your teeth, get back up, and nick some anti-anxiety medication from an absolute saint. Drink maybe a bit much for the situation.

When the anti-anxiety medication — and let’s be honest, the whiskey — kicks in, easing some of all of the above, decide the therapist and new surgeon can wait a couple of weeks, until you’re less busy. This should be around mid-March, if you’re on track with your diet plan.

Now.

Have the neon asshead cheeto bigot botch a pandemic response so thoroughly that the entire society shuts down and you can’t see any doctors for anything except dying of COVID for 2 months. Beg for appointments and be told there’s nothing available. Leave messages until your calls stop being returned.

Consider the ER and realize it’s full of COVID patients, or just people with contagions they think are coronavirus, and they won’t give you any real meds anyway.

Read every day about people’s parents, people’s children, dying alone. Sleep next to your child sleeping in her bed to make sure she is still breathing, which you haven’t done since she was a baby. Look at your parents, with whose mortality you thought you’d come to terms long ago, and realize you are in no way ready for them to die.

Teach kindergarten, ineptly. Work from home, ineptly.

Make jokes on the internet. Write about the neon-colored asshead cheeto bigot, indifferently. Tell your friends you are fine when they check in. Mention you’ve been having some stomach trouble to get out of social obligations. Continue to either not eat, or nibble crackers all day. Order various quack remedies from the internet costing hundreds of dollars. Read medical journals.

Fill pain-free days with fear of pain. On pain-filled days be unable to remember what it felt like not to be in pain.

Buy a ping-pong set. Buy a backyard kiddie pool. Let your child watch entirely too much trash TV. Turn on educational animal shows and find yourself explaining sperm and eggs and how babies are made because of the artificial insemination of a cheetah. Watch an operation to alter the genitalia of a puppy. Listen as the vet says “penis” 47 times.

Watch the extremely graphic and sticky birth of a rhino. Switch to baking shows.

Think, every day, that she deserves a healthy mother, a more patient mother, a better mother who can do more than just keep a roof over her head and cook her hot dogs, what kind of useless mother is that, what kind of idiot.

Think about the dark, cold days after your daughter was born into a polar vortex. Think about being inside all the time. Think about the snow. Think about how you were scared to be with her but how being away from her made you want to scream. Think about how sure you were that she would be better off with anyone but you, anyone at all.

Realize that the quarantine is tweaking memories of your maternity leave. Breathe a little, just a little, easier. Start, if not walking outside, at least sitting out there. Get a work project accomplished and feel a little less useless.

Recall that the singular feature of all depression is that it lies.

This is April. Twenty pounds down now.

You should still be in so much pain, like your entire torso is one huge muscle pull, like you have a charley horse inside you at peak tension at all times, that you think of two things and two things only:

How much pain you are in and

how little you are getting done on any front because of said pain and the attendant exhaustion.

Nap like it’s your job. Continue to beg for doctor’s appointments. In early May, have an emergency root canal and decide that this is the day you are just fucking done with your body and all its bullshit.

Ask a friend for a referral to her doctor. See him. Have him recommend tests that are agony. Have the tests anyway. Be absurdly proud of yourself that you spend only two days in bed afterward. Rule out various disorders and cancer. Be disappointed because if it was a tumor you could get rid of it.

Now, suddenly, somehow, it’s June.

Have the new doctor recommend a new surgeon. Have the new surgeon tell you that your previous surgeon was an illiterate moron. Have the new surgeon ask you to try more medications, which almost work, and then tell you you should go ahead with the surgery. Schedule it, have it done, and feel so instantly and completely better, so miraculously healed, that you dash off a letter to your previous surgeon suggesting several alternative professions for him including nudie booth janitor at the local strip joint.

Ask the surgeon who isn’t an illiterate moron if it’s legal to feel this good.

Begin, slowly, to eat food again. Find yourself, on certain days, now actually hungry for something other than animal crackers washed down with scotch.

Weigh yourself again. You now weigh three pounds more than you did when you got married, back when you were so broke you only ate one meal a day.

Congratulations! You’ve reached your goal!

*So that’s what I’ve been up to while everybody was making sourdough.

Thin culture is bullshit, okay, and the above? Not how I would recommend getting down to one’s 19-year-old weight, if that’s even a thing a 44-year-old should want to do.

I would put those 25 pounds back on right now if it would give me back the things I missed out on in the past six months, the work and the time and the money I spent trying to fix my problems, the patience I could have had for my family and friends and loved ones, the help I could have provided those in need had I not been housebound and in agony.

“You look amazing!” “Thanks, it’s a new program I’ve been working called who wants to eat things, eating things is gross and bad, and also my crazy pills stopped working and all my doctors were like GO TO HELL WE’RE CLOSED.”

It’s been a time. I’m on the mend. But if my attention has seemed to be a little … elsewheres, than on the ins and outs of a presidential campaign I just want to be OVER so we can all get back to our lives, it’s because all this was happening.

Sorry if I missed an email. Send it again, okay?

A.

Local Journalism

Whenever someone’s shrieking about SAVE LOCAL JOURNALISM I think of things like this, wherein apparently nobody could Google anything [loud annoying autoplay live feed at link because no journalist has ever considered UX in any way at all]: 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A peaceful protest against human trafficking in Grand Rapids brought a frequently forgotten criminal business to the forefront.

Wherever there are people, there is the potential for human trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The department says thousands of cases are reported every year, though many cases go unnoticed.

It’s a cause that compelled the folks along Monroe Avenue to make a stand.

“I’m really impressed with all the people out here,” said Kim Mol of Hudsonville. “They are for save the children!”

This is, of course, that horrible Q bullshit, and the protesters aren’t exactly trying to hide it. They’re counting on exactly this kind of credulous coverage because who, I ask you, could be against awareness of child trafficking? Who the hell doesn’t want to save the children?

(Awareness campaigns generally make me itch, unless it’s something we’re truly not aware of. Buying a $700 backpack or whatever doesn’t actually cure cancer and if you’re not aware that cancer exists you’re living in a dream world. Coronavirus being a real thing could use some awareness, but that’s nothing compared to a bunch of maskless honkies screaming on the street about a nationwide conspiracy of pedophiles.)

I’m not trying to pick on this one reporter. I am saying that we have what are basically keyboard macros masquerading as news stories happening. Protesters “clash” with police. “Police-involved shooting,” that’s one I scream about whenever I see it. Something “raises questions” or “ignites a firestorm of controversy.” Politicians “trade barbs” or “exchange accusations.”

We have all these ways of backing into a story by telling you it’s the same as every other story and none of it means anything. It’s not an exaggeration to say that our inability to give up on the way we’ve always written and talked about everything, our overarching laziness, is how we got where we are.

Watching ten minutes of morning local news (as I sometimes do when trapped in a place of business that hates its customers and wants them to be miserable) is a really, really good way to figure out how people vote Republican. Let’s keep poking this one station, shall we: 

PLYMOUTH, Pa. — Black and white American flag lawn signs dot properties all over Plymouth.

If you look closely, you’ll see the signs support fire, ambulance, and police.

Harmless fun! Raises money for a local volunteer firefighting company! Literally began as a response to Black Lives Matter and is an expression of belligerent hostility co-opted by well-meaning people who just want to support their cousin who’s a cop! There are layers and layers to this and none of those layers lend themselves to the kind of story you have to do in 30 seconds between videos of pets up for adoption.

Here’s some MORE credulous coverage of crazy shit: 

Trump also said the harsh restrictions put in place for the pandemic were politically driven by the Democrats.

“They don’t want Donald Trump at the Mohegan Sun Arena with 20,000 people there,” said Frank Scavo, a long time Republican. “So they just collapse it down and say okay 25 percent, no more than 250.”

Nowhere, in the story, NOWHERE, is it mentioned that this is IMPOSSIBLE and NOT TRUE and what the fucking fuck generally. That is bugfuck crazy nutso time. That is BONKERS. On its face.

Whenever I hear about how we need to root out deliberate misinformation and Russian bot Facebook/Twitter campaigns I think about how much low-level bullshit there is in the local news we’re meant to lionize. Thinking uncritically about SAVE LOCAL NEWS means support this the same way you’d give to your local nonprofit shop, and that makes less sense than those QAnon idiots up there.

A.

Happy Biden Campaign Thing

Gonna be doing this often so if you’re not down with this being a Biden/Harris fan page you probably should have signed off long ago.

 

A.

On Unity

I’ve been done since March 20th with shaming individual people for decisions that should have been handled by the institutions we task with such things. Mad at kids partying in a club?

That’s not on “college students,” who make terrible decisions, news at 11. It’s on the city, county and state, and the presumed adults who own and operate that club, to shut that shit down.

We keep acting like people aren’t people. The entire reason to have laws and regulations is because people are idiot assholes, and not just when they’re 19. I am a grown-ass woman who’s old enough to be embarrassing to her teenage nieces if she goes out dancing but I swear sometimes I feel like eff it, no one else is doing shit, why am I staying home?

You put out a tray of shots, I am taking one. SO STOP MAKING BUTTERY NIPPLES BY THE PITCHER, FER CHRISSAKES.

(This is a cousin to the news stories every year about stampedes for a waffle iron at Walmart on Black Friday. Everybody laughs at the poor people tripping over each other and nobody asks why the store encourages that shit.)

Periodically throughout this crisis we’ve heard about how we’re not united in our response to it, nor collectively experiencing it the way we have other major crises, and then told it’s all our fault: 

Still, focusing solely on Washington’s response to the pandemic would be letting the American public broadly off the hook, McElya said.

“We need to really consider this and talk about this as a collective national failure,” she said. “One certainly encouraged by our leadership. But people have to submit or commit to that narrative, and so many have, and that’s an enormous sadness.”

 

Look. I am not excusing people who’ve picked up on the anti-mask thing as one more way to be a belligerent dickhead to the sandwich girl, but someone sold them that line. A lot of someones, on a network that starts with F and ends with X and in the middle is an endless stream of grievances and resentments and fears. I don’t think you can let off the hook the people profiting from chaos and confusion.

Yelling at your neighbors on Facebook is where Republicans WANT you right now. They want you demoralized by the everyday stupidity of individuals instead of the rapacious greed of leadership. They want you to yell at me and me at you. Why? Because then we’re not yelling at them.

Christ, my neighborhood corona-info group had to BAN posts that were like I WAS OUT WALKING TODAY AND THERE WAS A PERSON NOT WEARING A MASK RIGHT because that’s all it was after a while, not the kinds of breakdowns of information that would actually inform anyone.

If we’re not focused as a nation on something, if we’re not facing something collectively, it’s not because young white people went to the bars and it’s not because somebody wasn’t wearing a mask in a public park. It’s because our president insisted we open the bars. It’s because the GOP’s propaganda network told people masks were tyranny.

Stop wishing for unity and then deploring your neighbors for the actions of your leaders. We don’t have time for this.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

People are still making art, public art: 

A new grant program in central Wisconsin will employ artists to paint murals in rural parts of Portage County. It’s inspired by New Deal-era employment programs, and designed to help put artists who’ve been affected by the pandemic back to work.

“Paint the County” is a new project by the nonprofit CREATE Portage County. They’ve identified five sites for the murals so far, and have opened applications for artists interested in creating them. Over the next year or so, CREATE will use grant funding of between $50,000 and $100,000 to pay the selected artists to create the murals, said Executive Director Greg Wright. The funding comes from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and Arts Wisconsin, with state money through Wisconsin’s “We’re All In” COVID-19 relief funds. It’s intended to help support artists, and also to create work that will be meaningful to small towns in the area.

“Part of this for us is trying to figure out how to use the arts to give people hope and excitement during this time,” Wright said.

You can donate to the nonprofit supporting the project here.

A.