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Inter os atque offam.

There’s a world worth examining between this particular sentiment

TV cannot hold its own against reality. David Simon gets the closest.

—and this critical apprehension:

Created by Maryland native David Simon and Seattle native Eric Overmyer, the show hasn’t unpacked the received cultural stereotypes of the city so much as fine-tuned those stereotypes through compulsive attention to documentary detail. Treme dedicates itself so totally to showcasing unique local color at the micro-level that it transforms New Orleans into a weirdly hermetic dreamland—a gritty, self-celebratory refuge from the dull forces of mass culture, where characters walk around saying things like, “Po’boys aren’t sandwiches, they’re a way of life!” and “Where else could we ever live, huh?” In Treme’s world, brilliant jazz trumpeters are more interested in barbecue than fame, voodoo-Cajun bluesmen sacrifice live chickens on the radio, and fast-food chains exist only when junkie musicians need a paper sack to camouflage their stash. When Black people die, they’re given rousing jazz funerals; when white people die, their ashes are sprinkled into the Mississippi River during Mardi Gras. Few moments in the show exist outside of its notion of what New Orleans represents in contrast to the rest of the United States.

Every deed must formulate a gesture, but the gesture’s not enough to do the deed. —However delicately the lip might be painted, however intricate the figuring of the cup, it’s all for naught if wine is never sipped. (The trick, of course, is figuring out what’s cup, what’s lip, which the wine, and which the sip. It’s different every time you do it—and there, that’s the clomping foot of the world.)

Hey, nineteen.

So the pier’s been around for a while. (Apparently, bronze is the appropriate metal for any gifts on such an occasion.)

Ornament is not only produced by criminals, it itself commits a crime.

Go, read Vajra Chandrasekera on why it is we’re told to kill our darlings, and what it is we’re taught to listen for, when we want to know if it sounds like writing, and then go read Ray Davis on Swinburne, who sounds a lot like writing, and loved his darlings not wisely, but altogether well. —“Soon the streets of the town will glisten like white walls. Like Zion, the holy city, the metropolis of heaven. Then we shall have fulfilment,” sure, sure. We all know how that turned out.

Consequences.

“I’m quarantining now because I am convinced that where we ended up, in the secured room—where there were over 100 people and many were Republicans not wearing masks—was a superspreader event.” —Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D)

All Cops Are Bigoted/Bootlicking/Bastards.

Portland police have used force—in the form of rubber bullets, baton strikes, tear gas volleys, and other acts—more than 6,000 times against Portlanders protesting police violence and racism this year.

This information comes from two newly-updated reports from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), documenting officer use of force data for the second and third quarters of 2020, a period spanning April 1 and September 30. On Friday, the Mercury shared data from the second quarter report, which found that, in the first 32 days of Portland’s protests—which began on May 29—PPB officers used force against protesters 2,378 times. The release of the third quarter’s data offers a more comprehensive look at the damage inflicted on Portlanders by police this year through what PPB calls “crowd control.” Combined, PPB used force at least 6,249 times against members of the public during 2020’s second and third quarters.

The PPB reports note that this number is likely an underestimation, as some officers did not record every time they used force on a protester.

In comparison, PPB used force against protesters 64 times in 2019, 205 times in 2018, and 162 times in 2017.

Alex Zielinski

I spoke with Jake Angeli, the QAnon guy who got inside the Senate chamber. He said police eventually gave up trying to stop him and other Trump supporters, and let them in. After a while, he said police politely asked him to leave and let him go without arrest.

Adrian Morrow

Jake Angeli.

Begin as you mean to go on.

Stagger toward consciousness under the insistent paws of the older cats, wondering where breakfast is. Sit up, fish last night’s sweater from the floor, slip into it. Quietly to the bathroom to void the bladder and wonder, vaguely, if the toilet’s recently sluggish drain is merely due to an uptick in toilet paper usage, that might be remedied by a faintly stern lecture at some point, or something deeper, older, more severe, that will at some point require professional help. Into the kitchen, followed by the aforementioned cats, but quietly, quietly; it may be an hour later than usual, but it’s still some hours before everyone else. Switch on the kettle, crack open a can, a spoonful each in the bowls of the older cats. Grind the coffee. Rinse out the French press. As the water works its way to a boil, stick a head in the daughter’s room to check on the kitten, who’s sat, alert but sleepy, on her sleeping shoulder. Tip out the ground coffee. Stir in the water just off its boil. Mix up the poolish for the pompe a l’huile, and notice for the first time that the recipe just says “salt,” and not how much. Figure it’s a teaspoon, given everything else, but that’s for later, after the poolish has had time to ferment. Plunge the coffee, pour it into the thermos, pour out a cup. Sit down. Light the candle. Draw the card. Fire up the keyboard and turn to the first draft of the first scene of the thirty-fifth novelette. Figure maybe it’s time to commit to the occasional use of a question mark as an aterminal mark of punctuation, indicating a rising tone in the middle of a sentence, but not the end of it—but only in dialogue, and only when separated from the rest of its statement by some sort of dialogue tag? he said, uncertainly, but sure, okay, let’s do it. And what about whether or not he straight-up asks her where she’s going: say that out loud? Let it be inferred? Decide. Decide. There’s three more scenes to edit today to hit the pace we’d like. Let’s go.

20/20 hindsight.

What did I do this year, the year we decided to do the same thing we do every year, which is to bring blogging back. —Besides get translated and publish a book and begin the process of de-Amazonification and put out a ’zine and write another novelette, none of which is blogging, per se. Let’s see: I rather like this one, which only looked like it was sort of mostly about Watchmen, and this one, which is really mostly David Graeber, only then he had to go and die. This one, about book design and Entzauberung, is the sort of post I’d like to think I miss most about blogging; this one, about comics and formalism and serials, I’d like to think could’ve been, if maybe I’d worked it over one more time; this is the sort of genial shit-talking I always think these days I never have the time for anymore, even though they don’t take long at all; and this is the sort of thing commonplace books were intended for, I’d like to think. And I’m most awfully fond of this one (another entry in the Great Work) and most especially this one (yes), if not so much the third in the sequence, which wasn’t ever really supposed to be a sequence, but I’m sure you’re noticing all of these are from, like, the very beginning of the year? Before the Occupation of Portland by the zelyonye chelovechki, before the election and its ghastly aftermath sped up the grindingly long-term fascist coup enough for everybody else to see it, before the pandemic really settled in and took hold, and the bleakly short-sighted stupidity, and, well, I mean, 2020, y’know? I mean, it’s not like I gave it up entirely, I was still posting stuff I’d include in a year-end round-up, but I did skip the entire month of October, so. —I do have a Big Stupid Idea that I might start chipping away at. And I’ll try to make a point of not dismissing little stuff before I can post it; sometimes big things come from little stuff. —And I mean, 2009 was a pretty good year for blogging, wasn’t it? (Oh, hey, I was poking at Watchmen then, too!)

Like tears in rain.

I miss restaurants, sure, of course, but there’s take-out, which salves at least the most immediate loss (to me, of course.) —You know what I really miss? Busses. I got so much reading done on the bus.

Trolley map of Portland, 1943.

Rain is falling, here in Portland...

but this song, God damn, this song.

—in the palaces of Kings, in the drawing-rooms and boudoirs of certain cities—

Even if these problems could be overcome, other barriers to integration would likely present themselves. Keystone transsexual activists are of generally of [sic] lower socio-economic status, and are probably reliant on their private dwellings for offline meeting. Additionally, while keystone radical deminists generally have homes with reception rooms, transsexual dwellings are probably much smaller (likely amounting to a studio flat or a single bedroom in shared accommodation) making the level of social familiarity required to be invited in unusually high. It is also possible that the private behaviour of transsexuals is so abnormal and morally depraved as to rule out accepting such an invitation [sic sic sic].

As such, no “inner sanctum” discussion has ever been observed, either online or offline. Likewise, no operative has succeeded in forming any form of friendship (let alone an intimate relationship) with a transsexual activist.

#TERFLEAKS from the DMs

This time she went ahead of him and opened a door she felt must be to the kitchen. Light fell on desolation. Worse, danger: she was looking at electric cables ripped out of the wall and dangling, raw-ended. The cooker was pulled out and lying on the floor. The broken windows had admitted rain water which lay in puddles everywhere. There was a dead bird on the floor. It stank. Alice began to cry. It was from pure rage. “The bastards,” she cursed. “The filthy stinking fascist bastards.”

They already knew that the Council, to prevent squatters, had sent in the workmen to make the place uninhabitable. “They didn’t even make those wires safe. They didn’t even…” Suddenly alive with energy, she whirled about opening doors. Two lavatories on this floor, the bowls filed with cement.

She cursed steadily, the tears streaming. “The filthy shitty swine, the shitty fucking fascist swine…” She was full of the energy of hate. Incredulous with it, for she had never been able to believe, in some corner of her, that anybody, particularly not a member of the working class, could obey an order to destroy a house. In that corner of her brain that was perpetually incredulous began the monologue that Jasper never heard for he would not have authorized it: But they are people, people did this. To stop other people from living. I don’t believe it. Who can they be? What can they be like? I’ve never met anyone who could. Why, it must be people like Len and Bob and Bill, friends. They did it. They came in and filled the lavatory bowls with cement and ripped out all the cables and blocked up the gas.

Doris Lessing

Infiltration into large affinity group meetings is relatively simple. However, infiltration into radical revolutionary “cells” is not. The very nature of the movement’s suspicion and operational security enhancements makes infiltration difficult and time consuming. Few agencies are able to commit to operations that require years of up-front work just getting into a “cell” especially given shrinking budgets and increased demands for attention to other issues. Infiltration is made more difficult by the communal nature of the lifestyle (under constant observation and scrutiny) and the extensive knowledge held by many anarchists, which require a considerable amount of study and time to acquire. Other strategies for infiltration have been explored, but so far have not been successful. Discussion of these theories in an open paper is not advisable.

Randy Borum & Chuck Tilby

Fully automated hauntology.

I do wonder how authors dealt with the memories of cities and the ever-changing fabric of their ever-present selves in the days before we had Google’s Street View, and specifically now the history slider, letting you slip back and back to see what it looked like the last time one of those camera-mounted cars wandered these same streets, or the time before that: oh, look! you say, cruising past your own house on the monitor of the computer within it. Our car was parked right out front that day. What a curious sense of pride. (—If I were in my office instead, I might look up to see the enormous map of Ghana on the wall, and decide to walk the streets of Accra for just a few minutes to clear my head; we can do that, sort of, now.) —But there are costs, and slippages: this morning I was trying to find an appropriate bus stop to loiter at, needing to catch the no. 6 bus up MLK to (eventually) Vanport; I was reminded they’re building a building there now, where once had only been a parking lot, and a Dutch Bros. coffee cart, and happened upon a view of the construction site from April of 2019, when the first floor had been set in concrete and rebar, waiting for six more wood-framed storeys to balloon above it, but I stepped sideways, into another stream of views, that only offered September or June 2019 (the wood having bloomed now clad in brick, or what passes for brick these days) or August 2017 (the lot, the coffee, the light already different, as if lenses have changed enough since then to be noticed), and so here I am, with a morning spent bootlessly wandering over and over the same corner and streetfront, trying to find the precise spot from which I can once more catch that bygone glimpse of April, of last year.

Half a million words.

So the thing-that-argues (the argument itself being scattered in pieces all over the pier)—and, I mean, wait a minute. Maybe—maybe it’s about time, when you’ve amassed a corpus like this—

The run so far.

—maybe it’s time to stop being quite so self-indulgently coy?

So the epic (I think we can call it an epic, now, right?) just passed a milestone: with the release of no. 34, the first chapbook of vol. 4, —or Betty Martin (and here’s one of the problems of the epic: the cruft needed to identify exactly where you are in the flow of the thing)—anyway, the epic just passed the half-million word mark. These three book-shaped objects—

Book-shaped objects.

—plus this slender, unassuming ’zine (appearing in installments Monday-Wednesday-Friday for the next two weeks)—

No. 1: Prolegomenon

—add up to 511,358 words, according to this device on my desk here (minus the furniture of introductions and forewords, of course): why, that’s just over 29% of a Song of Ice and Fire!

—Anyway. Forgive me my indulgences, as I forgive those who indulge me; I just figured the occasion ought to be marked, somehow. I’ve been at this a while. There’s a whiles yet to go.

No. 1: Prolegomenon

Don dances in the wet street.

Grad School Vonnegut got to Timequake, and of course to Trout’s Credo:

You were ill,
but now you’re well again,
and there’s work to do.

But—and I’m not nearly fluent enough in British fashion or football hooliganism or recent trends in international capital to unpack everything that’s going on in this ad; still—

You are as you have been,
but the world will never be again—
and yet, there’s dancing to be done.

I’m reminded of something I wish I could find, that Geoff Ryman said about his novel, The Child Garden, but it was some time ago, and I can’t remember the words; still, the gist of it was that dystopias are usually limited because they presuppose a here-and-now: as cautionary tales, they’re presented as problems for their protagonists to solve, worlds to be saved, not lived in, and how exhausting is that? How much better would it not be to write to draw to film to record a story about just living in the world as whatever it is it might be?

I know, I know: saving is what misers do. But I don’t know.

If it doesn’t happen, what we’ll see is a variety of predictable partial responses: unevenly distributed technological innovation, and cultural forms of quietism and accommodation. If we can’t really do anything collectively, people will try to live with disaster, internalizing and riding it rather than trying to change it.

Failsons & November criminals.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! It’s the thirty-fourth anniversary of my radicalization, which I can date with such alacritous precision due quite simply to the fact that it in turn is due to a comicstrip:

Doonesbury, Nov. 19, 1986.

It was more of a straw and a camel’s back than a short sharp apocalypse: and it’s not like there wasn’t then or isn’t even yet a long ways left to go (not too much later, I found myself at Oberlin, tut-tutting my fellow students’ embrace of John Brown, whom I, ’Bama boy that I am, took, at the time, to be a righteous but nonetheless terrorist)—but, but: I’d wet my feet in a Rubicon. We could’ve been making the world a better place. We chose not to.

A logic of abundance.

Thinking about how much of what was then recent history I learned back in the day not from lectures and classwork, from school, but from nipping off to the library to dig through Doonesbury collections, augmented by archives of Feiffer and Herblock and, well, yes, MacNelly, one must have balance, one supposes.

Thinking about that because of what Pat Blanchfield says in this snarkily “Bruckheimer shit” walkthrough of the latest instantiation of the (wildly popular) (wildly deranged) Call of Duty franchise

A quarter of a billion people, whatever, have played these games, um, and so many American men do, one of the few ways a lot of people ever learn anything even resembling, like, the existence of this history, like, for example, like, in the last game, we were in Angola, is through these games.

Sobering, and not just for the ideology the games are steeped in, Dolchstoßlegending this or that regrettably unpleasant incident from Yankee history into thrillingly deniable covert ops that left the world, our world, far better off than it otherwise could’ve been, and don’t you forget it—Russell Adler.not just the ideology, but also the technique: the hilariously toxic masculinity (when have you ever seen Robert Redford looking so ghoulishly rugged?), the conversational hooks and moral dilemmas drawn from grade-Z B-movie scripts (to say nothing of those meticulously recreated backlot backdrops), all the eye-snagging tics and dialects of body language drawn from deeply uncanny valleys, and touches like the robustly verbose commanding presence of President Dutch, who marches into an expository cutscene (after a prologuizing Gladio massacre) ahead of an anachronistic shaky cam—this isn’t the Reagan to be found in anything close to any actual history this world came up out of; this is a Reagan from a Saturday Night Live skit—

—(and also, yes, all the guns and the shooting and the extreme violence and all that stuff). —It’s, and I use the term advisedly, a cartoon: both in the sense that it’s deliberately, expressively, ruthlessly simplified, drawing power from its crudely broad strokes, and also in that it’s deliberately, ostensibly disposable: a work of paraliterature no one could ever take seriously, c’mon, a staggeringly elaborate, kayfabily po-faced act of kidding-on-the-square, a deniable covert op that leaves us thinking all unawares with precisely what it is we’ve been laughing at, for however long we’ve been twiddling our thumbs at the flatscreen.

Anyway. Down with all Commander Less-Than-Zeroes, wherever they might be found. Give me a November criminal any goddamn day.

Two-score and a dozen years ago.

Monday’s child is fair of face, they say, so hey—I got that going for me.

Selfie, in the study, without smile, with wild quarantine beard.

When the operation of the machine becomes so odious.

“Everything that is happening to the men who knew Taylor is happening because prosecutors do not want to hold Taylor’s murderers accountable. This is what the system does when it does not want to secure a conviction. Prosecutors themselves try to poison the jury pool against their own case, creating avenues of doubt before any trial process gets going. They try to impugn the character of people who will have to be witnesses for the prosecution. They try to avoid doing forensic research so that they have no ‘hard’ evidence to present to the jury, should it come to that. And they try, desperately, to get anybody to speak out against the victim so the defense can use those statements against the prosecution at trial.” —Elie Mystal

Our Americans.

“The police officers stepped out of the room for just a brief moment, just outside the door. And I told the physician like, ‘Hey, I work here, I’m a nurse here.’ And that shifted everything.” —OHSU nurse and volunteer medic Tyler Cox.