Category Archives: Athenae

Everything Pretty Much Does Suck, Actually

Serwer:

Black Americans did not abandon liberal democracy because of slavery, Jim Crow, and the systematic destruction of whatever wealth they managed to accumulate; instead they took up arms in two world wars to defend it. Japanese Americans did not reject liberal democracy because of internment or the racist humiliation of Asian exclusion; they risked life and limb to preserve it. Latinos did not abandon liberal democracy because of “Operation Wetback,” or Proposition 187, or because of a man who won a presidential election on the strength of his hostility toward Latino immigrants. Gay, lesbian, and trans Americans did not abandon liberal democracy over decades of discrimination and abandonment in the face of an epidemic. This is, in part, because doing so would be tantamount to giving the state permission to destroy them, a thought so foreign to these defenders of the supposedly endangered religious right that the possibility has not even occurred to them. But it is also because of a peculiar irony of American history: The American creed has no more devoted adherents than those who have been historically denied its promises, and no more fair-weather friends than those who have taken them for granted.

The camps, and that’s what they are, camps:

I don’t have any answers anymore. I don’t have any more words. Maybe telling you all that will help me come up with some.

Not that that’s like at the top of the list of anybody’s problems, but if you’re coming here for me to tell you what to do, I can’t do it. Maybe I never should have. Because we fought and fought and fought and I sympathize profoundly with those who are asking what the fucking bloody hell for, right now.

Jesus Christ, if I have to listen to one more internet bro yell at liberals for not fighting, yell at the American people for not fighting … 3 million more of us than there are of those assholes tried to fight, and between voter suppression and gerrymandering and plain old slavery-curious electoral abuses it wasn’t enough. How insane is that, it wasn’t enough. Don’t tell me people didn’t fight.

Women told you and people of color told you and you’re out here all WHY DON’T WE STAND UP motherfucker … we did stand up. And we’re still standing up, and we’re still fucking losing, and we’re not gonna stop losing until Mitch and all his fellow GOP senators are unemployed so unless we’re talking about that I’m about done hearing that we’re losing the wrong way.

I’m sick of hearing comparisons to Hong Kong and exhortations for mass protest. We did that, too. I spent last summer every night and weekend in the goddamn streets, don’t tell me people didn’t protest and fight. People are outside the White House every night if you’re looking for a protest or a focal point for your rage. Should there be a national march on Washington? Probably, but then cometh a thousand of the same fucking bros telling us that protests are silly and pussy hats are embarrassing and all that money should go to progressive candidates, there’s no way to win here, no way to satisfy our own poisonous version of the 101st Chairborne, the people who always have a plan. I don’t have a plan.

And no, I don’t know if Nancy Pelosi does or not, but nihilistic bullshit doesn’t help us there. Every hearing house Dems have held, every fiery speech given on the campaign trail, every MR. PRESIDENT HAVE YOU NO DIGNITY SIR moment that has happened and they happen DAILY are covered by jack and his brother network dick because Democrats doing something right isn’t a narrative anyone’s willing to work with. Not even our allies; Jesus, that Jon Stewart thing that went around, calling on “Congress” as though it’s Democrats who are holding up help for 9/11 first responders.

A pox on all our houses, is the best we can hope for, never mind one house is a little run down while the other one is infested with bedbugs and also on fire.

The only people I’ve seen doing anything right are working through the states, on a scale small enough to make a difference. Moms Demand is getting gun laws signed even by Republican governors. Local abortion funds, local incarceration reform efforts … I know it feels like nothing’s happening but nothing breaking through doesn’t mean nothing’s happening. The same people who always fought are fighting. I don’t know how we get them to critical mass. I don’t think anyone who wants that even knows what it looks like. The Parkland students came closest.

I’m rambling, I know, but a friend texted me yesterday morning asking what do we do, and … we raised money for food pantries and libraries and gutted a house and saved some pelicans and filled a classroom in Alaska with LEGOs and wrote to our reps and senators and protested and voted and … what would make the most difference right now? I don’t want to tell you to throw bricks through windows if I’m not willing to pick one up myself so I’m asking. I don’t know.

A.

Sunday Catblogging: Throw Your Hands in the Air if You’re a True Player

First of all, condolences to the Adrastos family on the loss of Della. She heartily disapproved of me when I was last in NOLA for a visit, as well she should have, and I was honored to receive her royal disdain. Hopefully all our ferrets have found her beyond the bridge and are now also basking in her contempt as they so deserve.

Rest in peace, sweet girl.

Speaking of contempt, Kick regularly sings “I love it when you call me Big Poppa” at Slade, because he has become chonk, destroyer of worlds:

Behold, our lard, in all his thicc glory.

A.

The First Church of David Milch

I’ve been trying to find a way to write about the Deadwood movie since I saw it, and Deadwood in general, and David Milch’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, which he talks about in this interview in the context of writing his memoir: 

Singer: Would you pick up a new novel and read it now?

Milch: It’s not likely.

Singer: Is that because the hours in the day you’re able to focus are diminished?

Milch: To some extent. But more so I feel the constriction of possibility, what I’m able to undertake responsibly. I have only a certain amount of energy.

Singer: Do you feel like you’re in a race?

Milch: Yes.

Singer: You’re racing to finish this memoir?

Milch: More so a larger enterprise, of which this is just a part.

Singer: Can you be more specific?

Milch: I’m trying to make work, the undertaking in general, coherent. To restore a dignity to the way that I proceed, and it’s a demanding process. You’re tempted to . . . toss it in. Just to quit.

Singer: Before this, were you someone who had preoccupying fears?

Milch: No.

Singer: And now what is it you’re afraid of, if you could identify it?

Milch: I intuit the presence of a coherence in my life which I haven’t given expression to in an honorable fashion.

Singer: So this is an opportunity. Is that what you’re saying?

Milch: Yes.

Singer: The rush to get to work, that inner necessity to make something. You still have that? Do you wake up every day with that?

Milch: Yes.

Good God. And if there’s a parallel in Deadwood, which has always cast an unflinching gaze on both human suffering (the filth and the language) and human grace (the filth and the language as well), other than the above video, it’s this:

Sol Star: I’m guessing you’ve done things today you wish you could amend.
Seth Bullock: What kind of man have I become, Sol?
Sol Star: I don’t know. The day ain’t fucking over.

And:

Al Swearengen: Every fuckin’ beatin’ I’m grateful for. Every fuckin’ one of them. Get all the trust beat outta you. And you know what the fuckin’ world is.

There’s a moment in the movie (which if you’ve been putting off watching it because you loved the show and don’t want it “ruined” get thee to a TV, not only will it not ruin it, it will redeem the parts you didn’t like) that absolutely took me to church, baptized me in the waters and wrote my name in the holy book.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

Continue reading

Who Told Them The Left Hated Them?

Everyone’s dunking all over this which is right and just, but there’s something else happening:

Which is, you are convinced you have to be a Nazi because The Left hates you. So who told you the Left hated you?

I mean, did some mean feminist actually come up to you, spit in your face and say FUCK YOU FOR BEING A STRAIGHT WHITE MAN?

Or did someone tell you that happened to someone else who heard it from their cousin who saw it on “the news” who told their brother’s sister-in-law’s college roommate’s friend? Did Fox News tell you it was happening daily on the streets of God’s America? Did some YouTuber rant about anonymous leftists hating you? HOW DID YOU FIND OUT, and why did you believe it?

Because I gotta tell you, I talk to people all day long and zero of my conversations with acquaintances involve telling straight white men they’re inferior.

Sometimes they involve telling straight white men to cut out this or that specific behavior, but my direct conversations? With other humans, face to face? Rarely involve Twitter sentiments like “let’s keep straight white men in pens for sex and run the world on our own.”

How do you know the Left hates you, straight white fellow who’s just being PUSHED INTO being a Nazi because you HAD NO OTHER CHOICE? Who told you this was an acceptable response to being oppressed?

It isn’t some natural human reflex and the way I know that is African-Americans were enslaved and tortured for 400 years and they’ve managed to Nazi exactly nobody.

So at some point somebody told you this was a reasonable thing to do and say, and I’d like us to talk more about that person than about you, because buying this shit is one thing but selling it, as any drug dealer will tell you, is a whole ‘nother.

At a certain point we have to start addressing these conceptions of “the left” and “the media” hating REAL AMERICANS as the propaganda strategies they are. As electoral tools for the GOP, and not as something people of color caused by, like, existing and for which they should apologize.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Asia Kate Dillon exists: 

Taylor quickly became a fan favorite. When the character was introduced, a representative from Showtime asked Dillon how much they wanted their personal story to be part of how Taylor was discussed publicly in the press — and Dillon wanted to go all in. “Right from the beginning, I didn’t feel any kind of pressure or like, Oh my God, what did I get myself into? Because I felt immediately like the autonomy was mine,” they tell me. “And then, on top of that, I spent almost 32 years not living in the full truth of my experience. I was more than ready to talk about it as much as I could, engage with my newfound community, and really just live fully in my truth for the first time in my life.” Despite this eagerness, Dillon is quick to demur on being called a trailblazer. “I am one part of the community, whose visibility would not be possible without the work that had been done before me by the people who continue to be the most marginalized from the movement,” they say, picking at a heaping plate of vegetarian lo mein. “That trail existed long before me.”

They’re a frickin’ genius. Like a whole scene is just a look or an aside, and they can make you hold your breath and not even notice you’re doing it until the next commercial break.

I haven’t seen John Wick 3 yet (I KNOW) but Taylor Mason is a very real person to me and I think all the time about if Taylor is okay, what they’re up to, if anybody’s bringing them coffee or checking in.

Who else is watching Billions?

A. 

Public Freedoms in Private Spaces

I hate to subject you all to a thing the president said, but:

There’s actually something interesting here beyond his usual idiocy. Most of the conservagrifters screaming about “free speech” understand full well how the ACTUAL First Amendment works, it’s how they stay just to the right side of prison. However, they also know that co-opting a nominally liberal argument and using it to “own” the libs is where their money is, so off they go, shrieking about how they’re being oppressed by not being allowed to sell T-shirts on one particular site on God’s internet.

The interesting part of this is the way our understanding of public and private space develops at a time when three or four private companies control almost all the means we use to communicate to large audiences. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, all lean on the freedom of speech to excuse themselves from responsibility for controlling content because controlling content is expensive and sucks ass as a job.

But when you get right down to it, they don’t actually have any obligations they didn’t create for themselves, and they know it, and it’s time we started acknowledging it as well.

For all that we think of these as public spaces, they aren’t. We USE them as public spaces and we understand them as public spaces: digital soapboxes, ideologically blank platforms upon which we are free to create.

A shopping mall is not a public park. WordPress here is not me printing a revolutionary pamphlet in my basement and distributing it to my fellows on the Boston Common.

No matter how attached I am to all you nutballs on Twitter, I do not actually have any sovereign right to it (until President AOC nationalizes it, of course) and if the company decided tomorrow to ban me, sucks to be me. I own nothing that I post to Facebook, not even my, you know, face, which is why I’m there less and less (plus all the racism). YouTube owns the images of my dead ferrets.

You go into these things with that understanding or you don’t go into them at all.

The “banned” conservatives raising money off their banning know that very well. They know that nothing boosts a white Republican’s profile like being victimized by something, and they’re all eyeing that sweet, sweet Fox News gig. I almost respect it, the purity of pitch-dark soul that it requires to pull off. What I don’t respect is the ongoing and frankly dangerous con social media companies run by mouthing about the beauty of the marketplace of ideas when it’s convenient for them to get out of work.

Either be the common or don’t, but be honest about what you’re doing so we can make our own decisions.

A.

Tuesday Catblogging

The cats are now adult enough to utterly ignore us when they’re not actively fucking with us, but they both seem to instinctively know when we’re out of sorts. Kick had a minor sleep regression and Slade was ON HER the entire time, headbutting and rubbing and purring and nudging her for pets. I had a minor mental health regression and Ada glued herself to me whenever I sat down on the couch.

They’re sweet beasts.

A.

The Middle Exists. Compromise Exists.

The middle is actually the middle of the Democratic Party. And compromise needs to happen within that party. And actually we only need that party, because the other party is consumed by the need to constantly throw poo: 

Democratic legislators know that Pritzker will have their backs should any of this spring session’s votes haunt them in the next campaign cycle. He has enough money under his couch cushions to fund their campaigns.

Pritzker also truly believes in this stuff. Where others settled for tiny increases in the minimum wage, Pritzker is nearly doubling it. When his most recent Democratic predecessors either rejected income tax hikes or insisted they be “temporary,” Pritzker went all out and proposed permanently raising taxes on the top 3 percent of earners. Gov. Pat Quinn reluctantly signed a way too restrictive medical marijuana bill into law. Pritzker enthusiastically pushed for legalization.

This much change this quickly can frighten people. So, we’ll see what the future holds. But for now, the governor and his supporters can bask in a bit of glory.

Summary for the uninitiated: Illinois was a clusterfuck for four years under Bruce Rauner, then elected a Democratic governor and whole lot more Democratic representatives, who then proceeded to do popular things. Wild times.

I’ve been saying for years that Republicans don’t need to be saved. AMERICA badly needs to be saved, but the Republican Party serves no purpose to the Republic unless it chooses to do so and SPOILER ALERT FROM 1954 it ain’t making that choice. Totebagger Nation likes to talk about some imagined glory days when “both sides” could get things done by coming together and reaching across the aisle and compromising and giving each other handies in the cloakroom and such. But you get a lot more done when you simply vote the Republicans out.

We don’t need them in order to run the country. A whole assload of my fellow white liberals have convinced themselves we do, because how else are we going to make sure Butthole, West Virginia and the suburbs of Milwaukee are adequately heard in the halls of power if not by listening sincerely to some mouthbreathing Cletus tell a joint session that Little Golden Books make kids gay. But what if we didn’t owe Cletus-Americans a hearing? What if they get what they get, which is their chosen representative, and nothing else? What if we stop trying to compromise with them and just vote in enough Democrats that they don’t matter?

I am so tired of being told we need to bend over forwards and back to give people who have no interest in governing a shot at government. If a bunch of poo-flinging zoo animals get elected to throw poo, we can respect the wishes of their constituents by acknowledging the animals’ existence but we are not obligated to throw poo. Let them do it in their corner, may it grow smaller by the day.

For those who fetishize centrism, here’s what it actually looks like: Legal but limited abortion rights. Legal but limited gun ownership. Legal but limited immigration. A general reluctance to go to war, but if we get pissed off enough, so be it. People being fed and housed and taught to read and given healthcare in some accessible, imperfect fashion that probably puts too much pressure on them. Welfare for businesses that have 10 employees instead of 100. I dunno, subsidies for art that doesn’t suck.

(I don’t, of course, agree with all of those provisions, but this is about the center, not about me.)

All of that is basically the Democratic Party. There is push and pull within, of course, but that push and pull is the politics of which our media-historian complex is so fond. If what we really want is a politics that compromises and finds the center, fine, but let’s recognize where that center actually is. It isn’t in the cage, all covered in poo.

A.

Special Cash

No industry journalist has any business blaming any part of what’s happened to newspapers on the Internet: 

Its coffers still full from last year’s sale of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago-based Tribune Publishing announced Thursday it will pay a special cash dividend of $56 million to shareholders.

It will be the first dividend paid to shareholders since Tribune Publishing spun off in August 2014 as a stand-alone company and significantly shrinks a cash pile that made it both a potential buyer of other media properties and an acquisition target.

The company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and other major newspapers, had $98.2 million in unrestricted cash at the end of the first quarter, according to financial reports. Between the upcoming dividend payment and other recent expenses, the projected cash balance would be about $25 million.

But here we are:

The urge to merge comes as the newspaper industry faces secular revenue declines and a challenging transformation from print to digital platforms.

The newspaper industry faces revenue declines but still has shitloads of money it chooses to pay out to shareholders because publicly trading a company that owns this Democracy Dies in Darkness Fourth Estate Public Trust Journalism Is More Important Than Ever is FUCKING INSANE.

I mean good Christ, the paper you could run for $56 million. The paper you could run for $5 million. For years the “print platform” depended on generating enough revenue that sexual-harasser slush funds and 20 percent profit margins could be masked by hand-over-fist revenue and nobody knew how to make do except the constantly reshuffling newsrooms where the people who did the work we were all told was so critical to America were chewed up and spit out. Even before the mobile Internet, shit, before wifi, we were told there was no money. All the while, buckets, and none of it got saved because we had to keep the shareholders happy.

And perhaps the industry, or at least the journalists who like to lecture the mildest of critics on the Internet about how sacred their work is, might want to work less on transforming from print to digital platforms and more on transforming from a “business model” that NEVER WORKED to one that does.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Deadwood is still with us and so is David Milch, who I’d take a bullet for and laugh about it: 

Still, the studio’s faith in Milch never wavered. It just wanted him to focus on more potentially lucrative projects, and persuaded him to create a new series, “John from Cincinnati,” set in a California surfing community, a collaboration with Kem Nunn, a novelist whose books can be found in the surf-noir section. It lasted only one season, a consequence generally attributed to a plot-coherence deficit. In the years that followed, Milch remained fiercely industrious. He created “Luck,” set at the Santa Anita Park racetrack and starring Dustin Hoffman, which was shut down in its second season after multiple horses died during filming. Milch also made a pilot—the only episode shot—for an HBO series called “The Money.” (Milch described it to me as “King Lear meets Rupert Murdoch and family.”) Two other HBO projects never progressed beyond the pilot-script stage: adaptations of Peter Matthiessen’s novel “Shadow Country” and “Island of Vice,” a history of Theodore Roosevelt’s tenure as the police commissioner of New York City. Earlier this year, HBO’s “True Detective” aired a new episode written by Milch and Nic Pizzolatto.

What I love more than anything in this world are masters of the craft who still go out and fuck up all the time. Like they could just sit around on their Greatest Hits and chill knowing they’ve created something eternal, but they’re like, “Hey, why don’t I go make this person-shaped hole in the wall, this sounds interesting.”

Do as much stuff as you can for as long as you can. God damn what a life.

A. 

Suffering Isn’t Noble if It’s Not Your Suffering

This is a lot to unpack, so let’s begin early: 

Pointing to recent failed bills in several Republican-led states that equated abortions with murder, they wrote, “Pro-life legislation that creates the right to DIY abortion and fails to categorize abortion as murder does not deserve our support.” In a hearing for the Texas bill, which would have equated an abortion with homicide, a crime that can lead to the death penalty in the state, Jim Baxa of West Texans for Life bluntly stated his support: “A woman who has committed murder should be charged with murder.”

Also on Tuesday, Charlotte Pence, the daughter of Vice President Mike Pence, penned an op-ed in the conservative Washington Times celebrating Alabaman’s draconian abortion ban, writing, “Personally, I would not encourage a friend to get an abortion if she suffered the horrendous evil of rape or incest, because I care about her child—and her. I do not believe abortion provides healing.”

And here: 

I had a second trimester abortion. Our son never formed an airway. Had he survived birth he would have been brain dead. That wasn’t the life I wanted for him. It was the first true parenting decision I ever made. I am not a monster or a criminal.

Here as well:

“We’ve got people all over the United States that can’t have children. They want to adopt children. There are great opportunities there.”

Consider the arguments being made, and the gods they’re being made in service to.

Consider whose suffering is being offered up.

I’ve been a practicing — not skilled, mind — Catholic my whole life, I’m not gonna tell anybody here not to kiss the Cross. Pucker up if that’s what turns your crank. You imagine you would gladly struggle through a non-viable pregnancy, deliver that stillborn child and risk all — future infertility, lethal infection, possible death — that that entails?

You see yourself suffering nobly in order to fulfill God’s plan, which is of course unknowable, because we all play a small part in someone else’s story and maybe your child’s horrific painful death or your own will be a catalyst that leads someone else to the Lord or sets something else in motion? You’re ready to do that?

Fine. Go do it, but do it you, yourself, alone.

You cannot choose martyrdom for another. Imagining that my stillbirth is your butterfly wings flapping the world into a hurricane of God’s glory is not a basis for legislation, it is cosmic chaos theory, the sort of coping mechanism employed by a child praying for good weather on circus day. It’s embarrassingly solipsistic, and it’s not a good reason to be against abortion, or for anything else, either.

I’ve written before about how so much of anti-abortion activism is a pose, a way of BEING instead of a set of solutions. If you seek a great battle in which to distinguish yourself, again, okay, but it’s a lot of pressure to put on the world, to give you a proper stage.

And as far as infertile couples yearning for your unwanted baby are concerned, if you genuinely think that your desire for a child means some other woman should bear one for you, then you can pony up the 40 grand for a volunteer surrogate, instead of asking a stranger about whom you know nothing to endure misery so that you can have joy.

What a horrifyingly selfish argument. What a sociopathic thing to say.

Before we had Kick Mr. A and I heard a LOT of anti-abortion rhetoric from fellow childless couples. One adoption agency we visited lamented the lack of available infants because “abortion exists now,” the implication being that back in the good old days we’d just send the whores to a pregnant girls’ home and then coerce them into giving up their babies which was SO MUCH MORE MORAL. The whole supply-demand argument is extremely gross.

My rights as a lady who wants a baby do not supersede the rights of a person who is pregnant and doesn’t want to be. This shit isn’t hard.

Is there nobility in suffering so that someone else can benefit? There can be. Is there meaning in bearing a child you know will die? Again, perhaps. But I don’t get to write a pretty story about how your pain is valuable because it sends me a message. That’s not for me to decide.

A.

On Nostalgia, Joe Biden, and the ‘Shortcomings’ of the Young

God, it’s such good sport to beat up on Joe:

Don’t misread here: He’s being a tool about a lot of things and if he’d just shut his goddamn trap he could likely coast to a primary victory, but he can’t stop setting his brand on fire in the street. Whether that’s good or not is totally impossible to say, since “electability” is for suckers and national head-to-head polls are stupid as hell.

Nobody knows what’s going to happen next spring. Shit, we barely know what’s going to happen next WEEK, so my enthusiasm for wading into this nonsense at this point is pretty limited. I was a Deaniac and still am a Kerry stan, guys. Once bitten, etc. But there’s something going on with Biden that I think is interesting beyond just the usual “here’s a dude running for president.” I mean, there are lots and lots of dudes running.

(We hear about them constantly because it’s either that or talk about the women, after all.)

So, Biden:

“I know how to make government work,” Biden said. “I’ve worked across the aisle. I’ve worked to reach consensus.” It wasn’t just a call back to his time as Barack Obama’s wingman vice president but also to his days in the Senate when, to hear him tell the tale, politicians ruled in the best interests of everyone, regularly struck bipartisan deals, and didn’t shout at or demonize their opponents in the pursuit of scoring political points.

There is, of course, a hunger for what we think of as normalcy, which is really a return to a time when we were happy. When that was depends hugely on what you look like, where you live, and what you want. I remember the late 1970s/early 1980s as joyous because my grandparents were alive and I was five years old. Every day was sunny and we had enough to eat and my dad was stealing cable from the neighbors. It was excellent, you know?

Iranian-American children might not have had as much fun in those years, just for example. So while I would dearly love to go back to a time when I was totally ignorant of the world’s problems, I can understand that for others the lure is less. If you can legally marry the love of your life now, you might not want to return to a time when you could be jailed for such a thing. Again, just for example.

The Biden Administration is unlikely to go out of its way to put immigrant children in concentration camps nor attack loving couples whose adopted children were born in the United States. The Biden Administration is unlikely to nominate an actual fascist to replace RBG. The Biden Administration is unlikely, perhaps, to slap its collective dick on China’s dinner table. And if what we face is four more years of Trump cosplaying the Declaration of Independence BUT AS KING GEORGE then I will loudly, enthusiastically, and downright gleefully vote for the Biden Administration in all its dumbass 1950s glory.

I will post memes. I will quit my job and buy a panel van and follow that shit around like the Grateful Dead. My Jackie-O suits will come out of storage.

That’s not the choice yet, though, so here’s my thing with nostalgia. It’s fucking pointless, and it’s sad, and it doesn’t help anything, and its entire function is to let you off the hook for working hard to keep up with the world and being wrong about it as you try to understand.

Do you know, I run in a lot of totebagger circles. I spend SO MUCH TIME listening to people lament division and partisanship and information silo-ing and how we’ve somehow suddenly developed the inability to tell fact from fiction and listen to each other. We need to build bridges, don’t you know. We need to reach out to each other. We need to come together and remember we’re all human!

WE NEED TO STOP KILLING EACH OTHER, is the main thing I want to scream in response, as white supremacists shoot up schools and synagogues week after week after week, as the price of insulin skyrockets, as kids with cancer beg their friends to run lemonade stands for them. Middle- and upper-class white people need civility because then politics can stop distracting us, but everybody else needs to be able to stop dying.

And in order for that to happen we’re going to have to reckon with the world we created in a way that I know our mainstream media sources, the morning shows and quick sports-radio asides that drive the thrust of our national narrative, don’t have the resources or the intelligence or the desire to do.

So to spend the next two years talking about being nice to Republicans, about “reaching across the aisle,” about yearning for the days when things were simpler and kinder … it isn’t just that the prospect doesn’t appeal to me personally (though of course it could). It’s that all it’s going to do is make us smaller, weaker, more powerless, less able to do what needs to be done.

The cultural fracturing isn’t going to stop; too many new stories are being told. Republican malfeasance, criminality and treason aren’t going to stop. And previously marginalized people who are developing the ability to fight back aren’t going to stop, because it’s not the culture or civility or some idea of their childhood they’re fighting for. It’s their lives, right now, right fucking now, today.

In the face of that reality we need someone who can recognize it for what it is, and greet it warmly, arms wide open, enthusiastic for the tumult and the shouting because burning is the only way anything new can be born. More likely it’s not just one person who can bring the energy we see all around us to our politics. More likely it’s dozens, elected by people who aren’t interested in our yesterdays, who can see the waves coming into the shore and not turn their backs.

Who can greet what we have now with strength and courage, and not deplore the lack of what never was, not for all of us, not even once.

A.

There Were Hundreds of Ways Out / But Only One Way Here: Final #GameofThrones Thread

This show and these books and every single bit of terrible merchandise from all of it will be worth it forever for introducing us to this goddess. Go argue elsewise if you must but do it away from my hearing.

Since this is the last one ever I have a few things I’d like to address from previous episodes.

First, no, Sansa Stark did not thank her rapist in that scene with the Hound.

Second, of course this all could have gone another way. That’s THE POINT.

People make choices and those choices have consequences and nobody HAD to do any of this. Lysa Arryn could have burned Littlefinger’s note and none of this shiz would have happened and Robert would still be falling down drunk at jousts and stuff.

“What if Dany went crazy but in like a sympathetic way?” is not a way of arriving at the same point. It’s another story, which is fine, but you’re not writing the one that’s on TV.

Third, Danaerys Targaryen was not being ruined by sexist showrunners who turned her from a heroine into a villain. What books did you all read? Forget the books, what show did you all watch?

Dany has always been problematic AF. So has Jon, frankly, with his martyr complex and his whinging about Ned and his refusal of the throne Because A True Ruler Never Wants It. So has Varys. So has Tyrion (so, so much, has Tyrion). So, honestly, have Arya and Brienne. If you think you’ve been watching a show about heroes and villains buddy have I got beachfront in Arizona for you to buy.

This is a story about power. About what it does.

To everyone.

Continue reading

Don’t Tell Me We Weren’t Vigilant

I got mad and wrote a pitch e-mail to an editor this week that was basically THERE IS A SWARM OF HORNETS COMING OUT OF MY FACE and this is the result: 

Women did not cause the current clusterfuck by “taking our rights for granted,” and we don’t get any further along in a fight we are already expected to fight alone by implying that if we’d simply been more vigilant, Republican men wouldn’t have been so evil.

I want to reinforce that point again and again and again. Women, especially poor women, women of color, young women, were never unaware that these were the stakes. If you’re mad at middle agedwomen, white women, then say that, because OH BOY IS THERE STUFF TO BE MAD AT US ABOUT, but stop lumping the people who tried to stop this in with the people who did it.

A.

I Think Elizabeth Warren Just Got My Primary Vote

We are spending endless amounts of money creating tools to try to increase trust in journalism and trust in politics and reduce misinformation and divisiveness and partisanship and ALL OF IT IS A FUCKING WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY THAT COULD BE DEVOTED TO THE ACTUAL FUCKING FUCK MOTHERFUCKING NEWS, like just stop this with the Institute for Sniffing Shep Smith’s Goddamn Jockstrap, you are so embarrassing. All of you.

For chrissakes. You want to know how old white people in the Midwest suddenly became resentful of the city and “discovered” that everyone not in “Real America” hated them and thought they were rubes? FOX NEWS TOLD THEM. Fox, and its talk radio predecessor/contemporaries, and the GOP that profited off it. People in cities are focused on not getting shit on by pigeons and going to their jobs and stuff. It’s the Fox denizens who are obsessed with hating them, not the other way around. You don’t just wake up one day and suddenly know that people you’ve never met and will never meet who likely don’t think about you at all are actually secretly loathing you and trying to dismantle your Pure Good Old Fashioned society.

A nonstop 24-hour propaganda network blared into every airport and car repair shop and podiatrist’s office and dialysis center told them that everyone young and cool hated them and their guns and their values and whatever else we’re supposed to hate right now, I can’t even keep track. Fox highlighted things that would outrage old white people, outright made a bunch of shit up, stoked fears and paranoia, and then told their viewers not to trust anything they didn’t hear from Rush or see on Fox. It set the stage for all of this and raked in the goddamn money.

And all the while, while crazy unhinged libtard feminazis were out here saying maybe don’t go to parties with these people, America’s elite journalists said well, there are some good people at the local affiliates. They said it’s just entertainment. They said we have to invite them to the potluck or else they’ll call us biased. They said maybe if we play nicely with them, these people who say that everyone but them is prejudiced and slanted and commie and WE REPORT YOU DECIDE, maybe if we hunker down and are very very quiet and just keep holding our Future of Journalism Panels at the University of Please Don’t Hurt Me, maybe it’ll all just go away.

Well LOOKIE THE FUCK HERE, YOU GODDAMN CHUMPS. While you were debating the best time slot to book in the Fox-nurtured fascisti to call you babykilling peace-freaks, they took all your money and they burned down your house. So keep having your civility debates while Fox tells everyone that Michelle Obama forbade Macy’s from saying Merry Christmas. Keep it up, geniuses. It’s working out GREAT.  Just ONE MORE BLUE RIBBON PANEL on Facebook and Google stealing all the ads. Throw a couple of Pinocchios in there for good measure.

Fox is the problem. Fox is the issue. Fox and the media disparity that creates a picture across America of an America that most Americans don’t recognize so that old white fossils can feel better about hating their kids who moved to the city, that’s the problem that if you don’t solve it none of the rest of this matters.

Nobody in suburban Ohio’s even gonna HEAR Elizabeth Warren’s policy papers if the conversation is driven by Fox and its imitators and mini-mes. Why don’t voters CARE about the ISSUES? Well, because Fox and the national narrative it drives explicitly tell them not to care and to instead get upset that some town somewhere had its Nativity scene stolen by atheist radicals.

So the candidate of put a goddamn lid on this pit of vipers and let them eat each other, the candidate of calling them what they are, just got my primary vote. I know I said I wasn’t gonna commit but I just did. Warren 2020: Fuck Fox. Let’s fucking GO.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

This man is out there making gorgeous music, that speaks to how hard and hopeless everything seems, and how you get up and do the damn job anyway.

I had the good fortune to meet him at a show last fall, during a torrential downpour, like a 7-year rainstorm. He was playing a show in the upstairs of a small bar on the north side of the city and I got there like an hour early because I’m a huge dork so that gave me plenty of time to try not to look like a huge dork and think of things to say to him, and all I came up with was “thank you, I’m pretty sure this is making the world worth living in right now.”

A.

Mommy Martyr Day Sucks

Everybody say I’M SO SORRY I WAS SUCH A SHITTY KID, MOM, HERE’S A ROOMBA today: 

This year’s guides suggest in their sometimes admirable, sometimes obligatory, attempts at semi-wokeness that Mom has her own life, they know! Which is why she needs this Roomba. Hey, she does a lotta stuff! Which is why she needs a face mask for those eye bags. The mom of today, as rendered by these guides, is “on the go,” “multitasking,” “out and about,” and “living her life.” But she’s also “stressed out,” “really needs a vacation,” and would like this bottle of wine with a label reading, “WINE BECAUSE KIDS.”

Let’s not dismantle any of this, let’s buy her some shit!

God, THIS. But there’s something even more insidious here, which is the topping of all this crass commercialism with displacement of our anger at society onto our kids.

Like yeah, raising children right now really sucks, especially if like most people you don’t have a shitload of money. But we’ve turned that into a joke at the kids’ expense. You’re why Mommy drinks! Hee hee! You owe your mother for her episiotomy! Mom hasn’t slept in 15 years, haha, aren’t you sorry for it?

I hate the marketing of this holiday as a way for kids to apologize to their parents for being kids. HATE. IT. “Your mom was in labor for 97 hours, so buy her jewelry!” How is that the kid’s fault? Jesus Christ. “You’re why Mommy drinks!” and ADS LIKE THIS ARE WHY WE’RE ALL IN THERAPY.

Let’s be honest. Ninety percent of what middle-class parents bitch about (with physically standard, neurotypical kids) is stuff the kids aren’t totally responsible for. Like show me a kid who doesn’t whine and who sleeps perfectly at all times and can always remember where their shoes are. Show me a teenager who doesn’t make dumbass decisions or avoidable mistakes or throw an attitude about their clothes or whatever. Their brains aren’t formed yet. Of course they’re pains in the ass. Because they occasionally say intelligent shit to you doesn’t mean they can be judged on your level.

Because I am An Older Parent (everyone else in her preschool has folks who got hitched in the last 5 years and Mr. A and I are working on our second score here) and because I have resources and good luck and years of meds/therapy and one very good kid, I can be amusedly detached about all of this. But I find it enraging that I am supposed to regard middle-class parenting as a horrible gauntlet and expect to be sucked up to about it by the person who had the least amount of choice in it.

Do you want to hear a litany of misery? I could give you one, especially about the two years after her turning 10 months old when I took a second part-time job to pay for the childcare that let me do the first job and went completely fucking insane from stress and guilt and started acting out like an adolescent and burned down my entire life.

But what, of that, was HER choice? Did she make Mr. A’s and my industries unstable from her place in the pack-n-play? Did she make all our prior terrible financial decisions? Shit, at least she snuggled and said thank you occasionally, which is more than I got from those two jobs combined.

You’re why Mommy drinks? Grown-up bullshit is why Mommy drinks, and Daddy too, and implying that kids are ungrateful little assholes who make their parents’ lives difficult is a shitty way to let society off the hook. My kid doesn’t owe me a card. The American economy might, or my own brain chemistry, but nobody’s lifing them all day in commercials.

A.

Tell Me Again How Both Parties Are The Same

Do it. I dare you: 

Can’t transport more than 2 non-family voters unless you fill out a form identifying them and affirming they “are physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring their health.”

I dare you:

Texas Sen. Bryan Hughes’ new bill, S. Bill 9, will disallow driving of elderly, disabled, or poor people to the polls. It would ban efforts with vans full of elderly from nursing homes, disabled people, poor people who don’t have cars, would be illegal in Texas.

I dare you: 

A bill currently making its way through the Tennessee legislature would impose new restrictions on groups that hold voter registration drives and subject them to potential jail time and massive fines.
Under one of the provisions, individuals or organizations that submit 100 to 500 “deficient” voter registration applications, meaning forms that are incomplete or contain incorrect information, could be hit with a $150 to $2,000 fine. Submitting more than 500 “deficient” forms could result in a fine of up to $10,000.

When the 2020 elections are a nonstop shitshow we’re going to see a lot of griping about black turnout not being where it should be and “fuck the South” and all that other nonsense, and every internet bro lamenting that the American people just will not RISE UP will have no idea that any of this happened at all.

I was not angry since I came to France (that isn’t true, I’m angry all the time) but motherfucking fucking FUCK these people. People who drive people to the polls or register them to vote take time away from their work and their homes and their kids to make sure people can exercise pretty much the only right they have left and

And not for nothing but if you’re driving busloads of old people from nursing homes to the polls it’s a better than even chance they’re voting Republican or not for the super-liberal Democrat anyway so talk about some counterproductive shitass bullshit.

When this starts disallowing busloads of voters from the megachurch to turn out for whatever regressive chicken-fried cornpone motherfucker as is currently humping Jesus’s leg, look for a real quick reversal and a “we certainly didn’t mean WHITE people” sort of denial.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

There’s a “bunny archive” full of stuff like this:

A.