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Catastrophic injury and sudden death have been known to occur.

Those Go Army commercials they’re showing all the time on Hulu now, there’s the one where a fire squad or a platoon or whatever crashes their choreographed way through an otherwise empty neighborhood troped up to read as GENERIC MIDDLE EASTERN HOTSPOT, firing guns at everything but each other, or the other one, where a cavalry unit of jeeps encrusted with soldiers charges across a field, and helicopters keep pace overhead, and every gun held or mounted shoots rapidly repeatedly wildly ahead at something we never see, stitching the sky with Star Wars light, and all the while in both commercials this calm cool collected authoritative voice stirringly intones platitudes of altruism and sacrifice, of service to those in need, of the best America has to offer, it’s all just as completely dizzyingly incoherent as those other commercials they show on Hulu all the time, full of people out living their best lives, smiling with ostentatious magnanimity as they forego this or that limitation previously imposed by implied, otherwise unseen conditions, and all the while this clipped and business-like authoritative voice rapidly monotones the endlessly specific side effects of whatever miraculous pharmaceutical it is that makes all this wonderment possible; “Do not take Qurac if you are allergic to Qurac.” —The hard power, and the soft.

Mister Blue Sky, please tell us why.

“Teens and young adults are in the midst of a unique mental health crisis,” we are told, and of course we’ve got to go and blame it on their use of smartphones and social media, tsk tsk, and not the fact that, say, nobody older than them seems to give a shit that we’re literally burning the clouds away.

A moment of your time.

Over at the city, the thirty-second novelette is appearing this week, and next; the penultimate chapter of the current volume, the third, which we’re calling In the Reign of Good Queen Dick.

And I know what you’re thinking: Kip, thirty-two novelettes—that’s a lot! —But you count it all up, it’s only 484,470 words, in toto, so far: considerably less than two Songs of Ice and Fire. (It’s also just over one Lord of the Rings; 44% of a Harry Potter; 15% of a Wheel of Time, or a Malazan Cycle, though it’s 50% of a Marq’ssan; 28% of a House of Niccolò; and 210% of a Valley of the Nest of Spiders.)

So it’s not that much, in the scheme of things. You could probably get all caught up before I’m done posting this one.

No. 32: only to sit

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single person in possession of a billion dollars must be in want of dismantlement.

“It is always a little sad to see what the people rich enough to have everything actually want,” says the article, and truer words; truer words.

Just wrestle me.

“For such a physical sport, some men may express concerns over applying force on a woman or pressing against a female opponent in the era of the #MeToo movement,” says the article, and what bizarre creatures, these men-who-may, who seem utterly bereft of concepts of context and consent…

“This was back in 1945.”

Well, I was working in a dental office on Lexington Avenue for two brothers, JD and JL Burke, and all morning long people would come in and say there seems to be rumors that the war is ending. And since I wasn’t very far from Times Square, I could just walk over there and see for myself. And so after my bosses came back at 1:00 from their lunch hour, excuse me, I went straight to Times Square where I saw on the lighted billboard that goes around the building, V-J Day, V-J Day, and that really—that really confirmed what the people have said in the office. And so suddenly I was grabbed by a sailor, and it wasn’t that much of a kiss, it was more of a jubilant act that he didn’t have to go back, I found out later, he was so happy that he did not have to go back to the Pacific where they already had been through the war. And the reason he grabbed someone dressed like a nurse was that he just felt very grateful to nurses who took care of the wounded. And so I had to go back to the office, and I told my bosses what I had seen. And they said, Cancel all the appointments, we’re closing the office. So they left, and I canceled all the appointments and went home.

Interview with Greta Zimmer Friedman, August 23rd, 2005

The Kissing Sailor.

SARASOTAGeorge Mendonsa hasn’t even been buried yet, but a statue depicting the World War II veteran kissing a woman in Times Square to celebrate the end of World War II has been vandalized in Sarasota.

The sculpture called “Unconditional Surrender” was spray-painted with #MeToo graffiti, indicating the movement founded in 2006 to help survivors of sexual violence.

While the statue—which came to Sarasota in November 2009—represents nostalgia and a level of unity and pride, some consider the act a sexual assault by today’s standards.

—“#Metoo” painted onto “Unconditional Surrender” statue in Sarasota

#MeToo.

Greta Zimmer Friedman:
Well, we met in Times Square in 1980.

Patricia Redmond:
But who invited you to Times Square then?

Greta Zimmer Friedman:
LIFE Magazine.

Patricia Redmond:
Okay. And?

Greta Zimmer Friedman:
And we sort of—I didn’t want to reenact the kiss. First of all, my—well, no, my husband did not come with me, but his wife was there.

Patricia Redmond:
Mr. Mendonsa’s wife?

Greta Zimmer Friedman:
Yes.

Patricia Redmond:
Well, she was there the first time.

Greta Zimmer Friedman:
Well, I didn’t know. Well, it wasn’t—it wasn’t my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and kissed or grabbed.

Patricia Redmond:
This was back in 1945.

Greta Zimmer Friedman:
Yes.

Patricia Redmond:
Okay. So now we’re in 1980, and we do a reenactment of the kiss.

Greta Zimmer Friedman:
Yes. I told him I didn’t want to redo that pose.

Patricia Redmond:
Well, we have—we have the picture here.

Greta Zimmer Friedman:
It’s sort of a—

Patricia Redmond:
And it’s kind of the pose, and it says—and the sign, this is Times Square.

Greta Zimmer Friedman:
Right.

Patricia Redmond:
It says, what does it say on the sign?

Greta Zimmer Friedman:
It says, “It had to be you.”

Patricia Redmond:
Okay. So that makes it pretty official, doesn’t it?

Greta Zimmer Friedman:
I would guess.

Interview with Greta Zimmer Friedman, August 23rd, 2005

Surrender.

City of such Roses.

I mean, it’s never a good day to be a white writer of an abashedly Eurocentric “urban” fantasy set in one of the whitest cities in America—but it’s not a good day to be, etc.

36 pages; color cover; three staples, each.

Ah, the glamorous life of a self-publisher.

“ – only to sit – ”

(Not pictured: the large spoon; the saddle stapler; the overnight pressing under a stack of books; the 6"x9" manila envelopes; the Patreon mailing list; the trip to the post office—)

What a week, huh?

When you go to wearily crack a “Lemon, it’s Wednesday” riff and realize it’s only Tuesday.

Beeep.

Heroic convenience store turns to blasts of high-pitched noise in an effort to prevent anyone from ever having to suffer homelessness again. I’m not exactly certain how that’s supposed to work, but—wait a minute—I’m receiving word that this is not the desired effect—

[ insert some sort of multiple face-palm gif, or maybe the one with Nathan Fillion, and his hands ]

Here’s a question the NEA literature staff has been thinking about lately: what do you call a literary title that infuses text with art and is primarily geared toward grownups? A graphic novel? Picture book? Art book? Illustrated book? Or, as the poet Matthea Harvey suggested to me recently as we sat and discussed the matter over brunch, a “tart” (text + art)?

I, I don’t, I just—how about we, maybe we just call them comics? —Unless they aren’t?

And if they aren’t? I don’t know, maybe don’t listen to someone who doesn’t care to tell the difference between medium, idiom, and genre—poetry’s a medium, after all, and intermingling (or co-mixing) pictures and verse would be an idiom thereof, and as for genre, well, that’s apparently mostly useful for figuring out which shelf Citizen ought to be put on, to move more units, or which tags should be used, to maximize SQL query returns, and in the face of such generic concerns the particular instantiation of a singular work such as this seems—

—small?

—unimportant?

—no, wait, those aren’t the words—

Crœsus he ain’t.

BUILD A WALL AND CRIME WILL FALL, the oracle intoned, and the small-fingered king clapped and chortled at the sound of it. But in his glee he failed to note: the oracle had not specified which crime would fall…

Help desk.

So there I am having gotten up at half-past four as one does on a holiday and I’m doing the usual thing where I’ve turned on the kettle and ground the coffee and fed the cats that woke me, and I’ve fired up the laptop and the Scrivener and the wireless headphones, and I’ve lit a candle and drawn a card, and shuffle’s hit on DJ Spooky’s Ghost World mix, that he did for the Africa Pavilion at the Venice Biennale a while back, so that’s what’s in my ears as I head back into the pre-dawn kitchen to plunge the French press and pour the coffee into the thermos, and when I turn around to get myself a cup there’s the Spouse, all unexpected, in her buffalo plaid pyjamas, a cup of her own in her hands, and I jump half out of my skin and make what she later told me was a “very small sound, for you” and anyway, ever since that, my wireless headphones lost their Bluetooth connection and can’t get it back, so is there, like, an easy fix? —Thanking you in advance.

Going to eleven.

Right, but how? What makes something toxic?

We have algorithms that can determine, based on the network, based on what people are doing elsewhere, based on the number of reports, based on mutes and blocks, whether this is a conversation that you’d want to stay in or you’d want to walk away from. And that doesn’t inform any direct action, but it can inform enforcement actions and whatnot, like when a human has to actually review. So toxicity is one such metric, we call it receptivity. Like, are the members of the conversation receptive to each other? We have variety of perspective as an indicator. We have shared reality.

How do you determine someone’s perspective?

Variety of perspective.

Right.

You have to… Like, this is all conversations.

—Thus, Jack “Health Thread” Dorsey.

Which side are you on?

Last week, USA Today ran a hit piece on federal prisoners with the tabloid headline, “Government shutdown: Federal inmates feast on Cornish hens, steak as prison guards labor without pay.” Not to be outdone, The Washington Post followed this up with their own shameful story under the headline, “‘I been eatin like a boss’: Federal prisoners served steak by unpaid guards during shutdown.” The problem here is twofold. First, the shutdown has nothing to do with the food served to federal prisoners and, second, the food descriptions are wildly exaggerated.

So much for USA Today and the Washington Post. —Meanwhile, somewhat closer to what must meanly pass for reality:

“We’re not talking about fancy luxury items here,” Mr. Patton said in a telephone interview.

“We’re talking about being able to converse with your attorney when you haven’t yet been convicted of a crime. We’re talking about being able to see your children or your spouse or your parents.”

“This is the absolute lowest baseline we should expect of a government when it detains people and assumes responsibility for their well-being,” he added.

Essence.

Long-time readers will recall yr. correspondent’s abiding disdain for Grover “Bathtub” Norquist, which has occasionally bubbled over to an embarrassing degree; how nice to once more be reminded nothing changes:

“There’s a moment when people say, ‘Did you notice what percentage of this agency was viewed as nonessential?’ ” said anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

(Well. One thing’s changed: as I’m now an employee of the federal judiciary, I get to take his bullshit personally.)

—I mean, it’s no “drown it in a bathtub” but hey, you can’t knock it out of the park every time you spit on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for a pithy soundbite. —And of course he knows that’s not what “essential” means, not in this context: it’s merely the all-too-cold equation being jerry-rigged all over the country to tell the difference between people who must show up and work, without pay, and those who’ve been furloughed—sent home, without pay.

“It’s inconvenient that they’re not getting paid,” Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser, said of the furloughed workers. “But it’s for time they’re not even going into the office.”

(I realize these think-tank apparatchiks have never worked a day in their fucknugget lives, but do they ever have even a glancing contact with the world the rest of us live in, paycheck to paycheck?)

Hopefully it never gets to the point where I can no longer afford the first secure job I’ve had in years. —But if it does, and planes start falling from the sky of his libertarian paradise, I can at least console myself with the thought of Norquist racing to the bathroom to heave his e. coli-infected guts into a bathtub he’s only just drained.

Domesticity, with cats.

Domesticity, with cats.

(That would be the redoubtable Beezel above, Fennec below, known also as Gentleman Marmalade, and the Spouse embroidering in the midst.)