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Day 62

—a surprise as Hazel returned to town, though I didn’t realize she was gone to Portugal. An intern at the local art gallery, she’s one of two people I’ve been able to talk with about anything related to art recently. Given that the other one left for England two days ago, it was a welcome conversation.

I have another new roommate, my third in as many weeks, as the tradition of rotating cast members continues in the Workaway life.

Things like Father’s Day always bum me out, because these days it seems notional holidays like it are becoming more about the individual people. Everyone stateside on my Instagram feed has to post a picture of their dad, or a father figure, or whatever politically correct label they want to apply to complicated situations—and in doing so, just kind of makes it about them. Like, say it to your father, keep it personal. So much concern in the liberal space about cultural appropriation, when everyone does it every day on social media in making any available attention about themselves.

09:00 / 17 June 2019
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No

Fuck yourself, anyone and everyone affiliated with this article and who identifies with it. In absolutely no way do not misunderstand how much I mean, Go fuck yourself to the highest, and most immense extent. Go. Fuck. Yourselves.

I’ve long been observing the trite bullshit hipster asshole shitheads that use the concept of sobriety as some kind of lifestyle mechanism, some addition to the consumer-based wave of identity politics in the mass of self-marketing that is our modern age. It’s bad enough Netflix and Hulu promote the concept of Binging as a good fucking thing. Now we have this bullshit.

You won’t find me at an AA meeting but you may find me at a bar here and there, you will see me struggle with a legitimate problem. What you won’t see me is trying to fucking capitalize on it. This is the point where the people who have appropriated all culture start to take on the concept of addiction as a notional province to excuse their actual affiliation with consumption. This is where capitalism lets people who don’t understand what it means to constantly fight between a drink and what is right get away with feeling self-righteous for some fucking social media likes.

You fucking people make me sick.

00:30 / 16 June 2019
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Televised History

the recent television mini-series Chernobyl was good. It was on par with other fantastic HBO miniseries, like Generation Kill. yet it is another example of how people tend to be gravitating toward “learning” history through television shows and movies; the abundance of biopics and Based On A True Story entertainment provides ample evidence for this.

This is a moment of grotesque collusion between available data, endless criticism and a desperate need to create stories people want to read. A highly-rated television show provides just that, as anyone on the internet would have been supersaturated with articles regarding Game of Thrones over the past six months. Once again, mainstream American culture is fascinated with itself beyond the point of reason, ignorant to its own idiocy.

Chernobyl is being lauded for its high score on IMDB, but as The New Yorker points out, there are a varying degree of inaccuracies that border on egregious in its storytelling. This is dangerous because of how closely accurate some of the representation of the Soviet Union is: it makes the rest of the narrative seem additionally factual. in the end, though, it’s television.

What will be distressing is that, especially as digital media supplants books as the standard of information, the future of history may involve these fictitious tales. The television show Chernobyl featured a primary character—the ‘truth-telling’ scientist played by Emily Watson—who did not exist and was only revealed to be a complete invention as the final credits were rolling.

It’s an incredibly distressing time, when our stories are simply reimaginings of tragedy, often revised to suit one narrative or another; especially on this anniversary of Tienamen Square, so many western outlets are (rightfully) talking about the abhorrent Chinese censorship of the event. Yet America has just as a substantial ethic toward revisionist history, and to accept “Premier TV” as accurate because of costume design but not content is a dangerous practice that too many seem eager to adopt.

14:30 / 5 June 2019
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Industry Everything

I’m finding the websites I visit to be a smaller circle—primarily artists, writers. Only really the New Yorker for American news. the Baffler is another.

The simple act of browsing the internet has become tiresome. Everything is an industry, and reading about it is incredibly stressful. How America has consumed the very nature of living, compartmentalized it to measurable units that can be somehow marketed and exchanged, commercialized and moved on from. Every action feels like something is being taken—which, in many ways, is true. The tracking, the data processing, the inevitability that Apple, Amazon and the NSA are all probably harping on every keystroke, every link. Everything.

Very little remains tolerable about American culture; I don’t think there’s anything left that could be considered a source of pride. To know with death will come a profitable news cycle and no actual change: we can see the future. It will not get any better.

It’s a difficult time to be a person. To feel alive.

18:00 / 2 June 2019
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repeater

(a machine wheezes in patterns, a repetition of bursts in high-frequency, inaudible to some, yet i hear it like a wail or a cry. morse code, some code. giving another sense of life to the obviously lifeless. we all care far too much for devices.)

a Person will always care for themselves before another, and madness will always take precedence against the despair their neighbor. a cup of coffee vibrates to a breeze on-screen, projecting an image of a place i’ve never been but a scene i’ve seen a million times already.

a flame dances slowly through its floor of wax. everything is in place to pass the time by without ceremony or a sense of desire. my American nature wants to call it waste—

the air in Ireland is fresh, clean; unsullied by the damning individualism and selfish desires so present across the United States. we talk of humanist values, pacifism, cooking, and the British. the conversation occasionally turns to these Empires; the resigned laughter of a room unable to change such a stain on the world is the true sound of our time.

A question from across the room, a language I don’t understand, but it’s nothing of consequence, this much I know

12:00 / 30 May 2019
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Disarray

Mike sat at the end of the table. He finished his plates quickly, sitting cross-armed but not dissatisfied. His conversation tone was soft, his demeanor pleasant. He’s a generation my senior, a smaller frame with a collared shirt, bald head and trimmed gray hair. During a quick break in serving, I sat next to him, mopping up a bowl of soup with some bread and tried explaining the complex and depressing nature of what it means to be an American these days.

By this point, I have a few talking points that I use to cover the general American disarray when talking with foreigners. That the television set went from an ownership rate of 10,000 in 1941 to 99% by 1998—and media is the one language everyone in the country speaks. That the two-party system is a design of control and not democracy. That the Cold War and subsequent embrace of capitalism has created a cancer that reaches beyond political influence and into the very mindset of how Americans operate socially. That the Bush years were far more destructive to the world than the Trump years. That Obama was hardly anything good, and more a signifier that any sense of leftist politics in America were the true enemy of the state. That America is, by all accounts and purposes, a right-wing country.

“You know I’ve been following Noam Chomsky, since just after the Vietnam War, and he’s the one that got me on that,” Mike replies. “And you Americans, you think you’re the best country in the world, but it’s an issue of deep education, where if you can’t see how your country exists in the world, if you can’t recognize the global impact of what you do, and who you are… I mean, how can you even govern yourselves?”

That’s the thing about talking with foreigners. I always end up agreeing with them. Put me in a room with ten Americans and there’s like a five percent chance I’ll see eye to eye with any of them. But the rest of the world, their view, is always somehow spot-fucking-on. It’s not a good look (for Americans, at least).

We continued our chat for another few minutes before I had to get back to work. We shook hands and said we’d continue it next time we saw each other. It’s a thing that happens, when having a conversation can be both such a satisfying relief, a feeling of camaraderie, but equally depressing in its nature: Hope is fading fast everywhere. Knowing the wealthy will get away with this again. Knowing it’s going to come to war; not with the United States against Iran (though that will probably happen as well), but with just, everyone. That so many will sit still until the tide comes to take them, and a select few will push them out to sea.

10:00 / 29 May 2019
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Day 36

Montmarte

… gazing at Bedroom in Arles at d’Orsay, feeling a present and increasing connection to Vincent.

I have always been conscious of my age against my Progress As An Artist; I’ve tended to choose living over focusing on craft because of my uneasy nature toward growing up in America—how the influences of What You Do and Who You Are and How We Will See Your Value As The Intersection Of Those Concepts (As They Relate To Profit). I was told, time and again, With talent like that, you could really make money (or something of the like)—well aware that this was neither the point nor my goal. Yet still it clouded my judgment, ideas and decisions with a constant intoxication.1

Yet in Paris, I feel drawn to return to working on art at the breakneck pace I taught myself with. Not out of any ambition for personal achievement but for that of recognizing history, the power and necessity of Art. the corrosive nature of capitalism in the Art World is grotesque in its most mild forms,2 and I’m beginning to wonder if half the battle of creating in America is simply trying to imagine you aren’t fucking there anymore.

It’s tiresome to constantly take into consideration the American Empire and its stake in disaffecting the people of the world to the potential of one another based on the profit they incur from their labors, to have that affect my art… while I know I shouldn’t let it, I do also believe it is the job of modern artists to do everything they can to reject capitalism and every aspect of its nature, up to and including the monetary benefits that may come with creative talent.3 Together, friends, to the barricades again.

      Notes
  • thus monetary self-sabotage generally feels like an act of greater rebellion than one of self-destruction: the idea being that using life as a rejection of systemic injustice is as great a piece of art as i could ever hope to make. that influence may never go noticed, maybe it will, but it’s all i can do
  • I find that the recent overlap of the Met Gala and Eurovision are a solid example of this: both are examples of capitalism influencing art, but while the Gala’s theme was “Camp,” it was mostly examples of austerity, self-congratulation and selling out to luxury and opulence by people that had already sold out to mainstream corporate entertainment. Eurovision would be considered embarrassing to them, because it is camp; stupid and over-the-top, ridiculous tongue-in-cheek entertainment. There is a stark difference that America is too simultaneously self-conscious and greedy to accept, but they’ll certainly try
  • (while also wholly recognizing this is the world and we all have to pay rent, which is why we should occupy warehouses and paint on discards and sliding scale free-to-if-you-work-in-San-Francisco-you-pay-everything for shows and basically any measures to fight against these conceptual cancers

00:00 / 22 May 2019
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Day 34

Paris remains impossible, breathtaking. In an age when the ideas of cultural identity and physical migration and the money and power involved in both are up for debate, France seems to be the existential epicenter. Not without its historical failings concerning colonialism—while featuring overwhelming takes of revolution—modern-day France feels like the split of a glacier: one side holding on to its roots in the world, the other ready to drift off to sea, both likely melting under the heated failure of human decision.

Last year I spent a weekend with Nick in Bordeaux and at dinner one night, sitting outside on a main street, I said France is why I believe in leftist/social and communal politics. Yes, parts are about workers being paid fairly, but another part is the deeper cultural ramifications of such ideologies. When you live in a society whose nature is to be at peace with one another, the very act of going out to dinner feels different than when you live in one which tells you to compete with one another.

I have many friends in the service industry. I have great respect and admiration for the thankless jobs they perform. But the amount of times I’ve heard them bitch about someone sitting too long at the bar without ordering a drink, or sitting too long at a table after finishing food—this isn’t a slight against them, but it is what they’ve learned to react. That the goal is not actually to serve, but to turn the table. Make the money. The experience is not about the patron but about the owner of the business.

I thought about this as I sat and had my morning coffee and croissant today. I wasn’t rushed out or scolded for not ordering a full meal. Many were there before I arrived at the cafe and were still there by the time I left. That’s beyond substantial as a human feeling. Capitalism gives servers authority over who they serve, only when it comes to if the patron is contributing enough to the system of wealth, regardless of how poorly the server may be treated. To be free of that, even as that patron, is an overwhelming relief, temporary as it may be.

23:00 / 19 May 2019
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Options

In elementary school, I lived in a small town in western Massachusetts. It was like most towns west of Worcester: semi-rural, familiar, broke. Main street consisted of a video rental store, a pizza shop, a barber, and a rotating cast of failed businesses. My mom and I moved back to Alaska after I finished sixth grade—sometime in the mid-90s—and soon thereafter, a Wal-Mart moved in.

The last time I was back east visiting my best friend—we met in the third grade in said town and have remained in touch since—I asked how it was. His family still lives there and he visits occasionally. “Still about the same,” was his reply. I asked if the broken glass in the doorway of an abandoned brick building at the corner of the main intersection had ever been cleared up (I’m pretty sure that window is still broken, and has been since 1990). I asked if the Wal-Mart was still there.

“Of course,” he said. “I don’t know what would happen to the town if that closed. It’d probably collapse. Nobody would have a job.”

The Wal-Mart in Orange, Massachusetts is like one in many small towns in America: it provides for as much of the employment opportunities as it does the goods available to the public. People get their paycheck from the Wal-Mart and then spend it at the Wal-Mart in an absolutely vicious cycle of commercial domination. People can’t shop elsewhere because there are no other places to shop; people can’t start a business to provide an alternative because Wal-Mart would easily be able to price them out. The people have no options. The people are subject to the company, and the company has a reliable bottom line because the meager paychecks they dole out will inevitably, at some percentage, return as profit.

Alabama Mississippi Misery

I think about the Wal-Mart when I read about the abhorrent new anti-abortion laws in the South. Some will argue these are about controlling women. Some will say it’s about getting Roe v Wade overturned. Some will say it’s about the extreme right-wing enforcing their values. Like talking about the various ways a Wal-Mart will damage a community and its potential offerings, none of these opinions are wrong. They just don’t get to the nature of the problem.

For all the rhetoric, the laws against abortion are not based in values, culture, religion, choice or freedom. Like everything else in America, their motivation is profit.

Denying women access to an abortion ensures a greater chance of a child born in to poverty—especially in the South. This child will have to overcome immense odds to attain anything in America. Even if the child were to excel in a failing education system and get to college, the price of higher education means that child, now an adult, will be straddled with debt for decades to come. They’ll have to get a job and pay the bank, pay the rent, pay for food. One way or another, they’ll pay.1

And then there are the litany of other circumstances this child will possibly grow up in to: Working in service, becoming one of a world-leading prison population, struggling on stagnant wages. One way or another, this child is a future contribution to the profits of the same types of men who run and fund the government passing these laws.

Capitalism Is Organized Crime

Make no mistake: These laws are not about anything other than perpetuating a debt-oriented state where controlling the options of people guarantees, in some form or another, a margin of profit. They will use gender-based prejudice to keep the narrative about left versus right, feminism, the ‘radical left’ and ‘family values.’ The talking points will only be there to keep a frustrated narrative afloat in the media while people in need will be offered none.2

The men—and women—who engage in the creation and enaction of these laws are modern tyrants, thieves, and as close as one can get to a slave-owner while still being a public figure. They are rapists and pillagers of the village. They do not deserve an equal say, they do not deserve their power, they do not deserve respect in the least bit. They lack dignity, honor, empathy, and humanity; but they rely on a society driven by a media-based narrative cycle that keeps their lives relatively consequence free.

This cycle of bullshit in America that is allowing for the rise of fascism relies on the inaction of people to fight back for their rights. The obvious way to do this would be through capital—the true heart of these motivations—in denying support to major corporations that contribute to and fuel the corruption of politics. However one can’t shop locally, abandon corporate chains and forge community if the only place to shop in town is the motherfucking Wal-Mart, owned or run by the same people telling women what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

      Notes
  • This is only considering the child, too—the cost of raising that kid creates an economic boom while making sure the parents/family have limited options with their finances beyond putting it all back into private companies profiting from this circumstance.
  • The complicity of major media organizations in this, and subsequently the ‘journalists’ and talking heads who provide for commentary, is nearly criminal in and of itself. These people should be walking off the fucking set, the control room should be ending the broadcast, the engineers should blow up the servers.

11:30 / 17 May 2019
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The Cycle Continues

it used to be that the phrase Imagine Going Back In Time referred to things like showing a jet engine to a caveman; then it was an iPhone to someone in the ’20s. Then it’s something like Trump giving Tiger Woods the Medal of Freedom to someone from 10 years ago.

Now the curve of world-altering difference is nearly immediate. I lose the internet for 24 hours and women are basically illegal in The South1 and people who make their money being professionally outraged are complaining about the NBA lottery because of market share2 and the New York Times is headlining a war with Iran because the last time they started doing this ended so well.3

For being so dumbstruck by Trump during the 2016 election, the media has certainly adopted his full-throated, clickbait-motivated way of doing business. It’s like nobody really wanted to talk about what happened in 2016 because of the collusion between publishing news and advertising revenue, and so the root of the problem is still festering away. Everybody is still going crazy and each day that passes seems like the only way to not get consumed by rage is to ignore the news entirely. We’re all basically Bruce Willis at the end of Die Hard 3 trying to escape the flood.

      Notes
  • I don’t care if it’s following Alyssa Milano or giving women bus tickets out of the south like they were homeless in San Francisco. This shit is abhorrent and something needs to be done, because pretty soon this will be at the Supreme Court and a couple rapists are going to tell women to fuck off once again.
  • Not that basketball or where Zion Williamson plays matters in the least compared to what else is going on in the world, however the discussions about him opting out of the NBA draft because he won’t play in a major market is yet more evidence that money ruins sports. These vultures who make money solely off of basketball care more about his TV time—not for him as a player, not the potential of the Pelicans with him and Anthony Davis, or aspiring professional athlete, but because of its potential advertising revenue were he to be in New York or Los Angeles—than they do the sport itself. These fucking people make me sick.
  • Ha ha just joking it never ended, fuck Judy Miller

09:00 / 16 May 2019
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Clear History

(even though this web site has operated with a blog—in some form or another—since 1999, it has undergone semi-annual design changes and annual database dumps throughout the years. thus, the "Archive" is actually only evidence of what has not yet been deleted.)