Writings and Letters

A blog oeuvre… a "bloeuvre"

…Conquista Todo

El Hombre Que Cavó las Tumbas

 

The sun crawled toward the horizon causing the sky to turn a hideous cerise. As was unlike the occasion for the season, the wind could barely be detected in the treetops of the adjacent forest. Storm clouds held off in the periphery leaving the farmland exposed in the light, saturated red. The heat from the day was held captive in the thick moisture of summer air. The atmosphere was held in heated suspension above the fray. The chorus of the chicharras ran through the small village, whose emptied and silenced dirt streets echoed the haunting call. Now was the time of day when the sounds and smells of a tiny community entered its crepuscular stage. Instead, what was heard was the lamentations of women, the crepitation of conflict, and the scant laughter of men.

Junior Teniente Coronel Antonio Luis Roman stood atop an M1 Abrams, one of many gifts from El Padre to the military. The hunter green and black striped mechanical juggernaut sat humming amongst the crops, the words: EL QUE TRAE LÁGRIMAS: hand-painted in white, the letters quickly applied and thence inchoate, giving way to an impression that they were melting in the tropical fever. JT Coronel Roman observed the landscape; his paunch looked ready to burst through his olive green shirt darkened by sweat. The top half of the shirt was unbuttoned (against protocol) exposing his browned skin and dark wiry chest hair. A pearl neckerchief found itself wrapped loosely around his glutted throat. It had small lines of roses diagonally printed across it. Antonio’s mother gave it to him before he went off to war.

Sargento Solos walked up to the feet of EL QUE TRAE LÁGRIMAS with a man in tow, held at gunpoint. He stood at attention and saluted. “Report,” the JT Coronel said. “Eighty to our fifteen currently. Most have fled into the trees. The rest are being handled.” JT Coronel Roman nodded. He then acknowledged the stranger standing next to Solos. The man wore an old t-shirt and shorts. He wore one flip-flop. His clothes were filthy, covered in dirt and a small trace of blood. He had a cut above his left brow; the blood coagulated into black crust along his rough, wrinkled eggplant face. JT Coronel Roman observed his cut. The man would not take his eyes from the earth. He was one of these outback bastards of the old world. The roots of his blood dug much deeper into the soil of the country than Antonio’s.  Heart of the jaguar. Soul of the raptor. The rest of the nationalist claptrap that was well familiar to him. The enchanted history El Padre invokes so often in his speeches. He came across so few of them in person. They regulated themselves mostly to the pastoral regions of the state, not urban locations like the capital where Antonio grew up. Though there was Chacha. She was part of his boyhood. She was half nativo.

The sergeant spoke: “This was the man you requested.”
JT Coronel Roman asked the man. “Hablas mi idioma?”
“Si.”

“Good. What is your name?” The man was silent. JT Coronel Roman looked to Sargento Solos. Solos asked the man in his natural tongue. Still silence. Solos grew enraged. He got in the man’s dark face, pressing his finger into his soiled shirt. He pointed back to JT Coronel Roman and flailed his hand about some more. The man remained mute. Antonio held up his hand to pause the sergeant. “You do not have to give me your name. But you do understand what I am trying to do here, don’t you?” The man stood still and remained focused on the ground. Antonio continued: “We have been given very explicit orders from the President himself that this area is to return to the order of the state once and for all, and to remove any belligerents in the process with the utmost hostility. Allies are to be pardoned and returned to the capital.

“On the one hand, you have assisted us in the duty of disposing of the traitors’ carcasses as well as leading us to the sites where our fallen brothers lay. For that, I could see to your absolution. On the other hand, Sargento Solos and his men here inform me you were seen burying soldiers of the state, while the terrorists stood idly by. It appeared you were operating in conjunction with the enemies of the state. This is punishable by death. So now you see the predicament I am in, no?” Silence. Antonio sighed. “You do not have to speak, but I will have to assume the worst as a precaution.”

The sun began to sink behind the tops of the trees turning them a dark green and casting the men in pale light. JT Coronel Roman watched what little of the man’s face he could witness appear to struggle with thought, or transforming such thoughts to words. Perhaps he did not know enough of the state’s language to translate his consciousness. JT Coronel Roman signaled to Sargento Solos who roughly translated to the man in his old tongue. The flamethrowers walked up to the tank. One of them said they were ready. The colonel approved their mission and they turned toward the village.

“I did what you asked,” said the man in the language Antonio understood.
JT Coronel Roman shared a look with Solos. The man’s gaze still did not break with the dirt beneath him, but his body implied a tremor. Sweat passed along his face; his hands clenched the sides of his shirt.
“Yes. You did. But you also aided the enemy. You see, don’t you?”
“I did what you asked.”

He wasn’t saying it as a question but JT Coronel Roman wondered if he meant to. It would have been understandable. It may have been all the JT Coronel was capable of repeating, too, if… well… but that was not the case. For only one was holding the gun, and in that moment history was on his side.

“If you were in my position, what would you do? Would you let a potential enemy of yours escape? If so, how would you explain that to those you answered to?”
Silence.
“I see.”
“I did what you asked.”
“Indeed. But one good act does not undo a bad one. If you have supported the terrorists up to this point, one afternoon of assistance does not change this. You agree, no?”
“I never hurt anyone.”
“That does not matter here. You did not kill these men. No. That is probably true. But you did dispose of them as if in alliance with the terrorists. And if you are not responsible for it well then, who is, hmm? This did not start because of you, yet here you are, in the middle of it. You are a participant. You may not be responsible, but you are guilty. And although the punishment for the guilty and the responsible should be different, here, now, it is not. We have orders after all. I believe you understand. I will promise you this, I will have them make it quick.”

JT Coronel Roman waved his hand. Soldiers grabbed the man and brought him to his knees.

“You will be cursed,” the man said. He looked up at Antonio. His eyes were beautiful, and filled with pity.
Junior Teniente Coronel Antonio Luis Roman laughed. He pointed to the horizon.”When the sun rises again, there will be nothing here to remember. Just crops and ashes. People will come and know there was a story to be told, but no one will know where to start it, just that they came after the end. And in one-hundred years time, I and all my deeds will suffer the same fate. So, we are all cursed, my friend.”

The sun was nowhere to be seen, but its light still fought back the darkening sky. The heat remained unbearable. A single crack split the air and then disappeared into the homogeneous sound of the chicharras’ chorus that enveloped the land.

… Conquista Todo

El Pueblo

Once during the war, what my people now call La Agitación Civil, there was a small farming village unfortunately located in an important part of our country. The village was situated in the Valle del Universo, the cultural and historical birthplace of the nation, where the farmers tended the valuable soybean crop. It was also strategically located near the edge of the forest where the government believed a majority of the EEP guerrillas lived and operated.

Due to the soybean crop, the nation’s primary agricultural export, the land was of immense importance to the government. It was estimated that prior to and during the war, the soybean was almost as valuable as the country’s oil and iron ore, approximately responsible for three-fourths of all agricultural exports. (Not until the Great Chinese Panic would it lose its value.) As such, the EEP would perform small attacks to either steal harvested crops, or set fire to large sections of the farmland, often killing off many of the National Army (EN) soldiers in the operations. Since the Villalba-Peña government was fighting factions in practically every region of the country, the EN was not as effective in eradicating any of the factions. By the time the war reached its second year, and all sides realized the end was nowhere near its point, the EEP changed its tactics slightly. It focused on the export business, too, and stopped burning the lucrative crop.

It planned mostly successful missions to kill off EN soldiers and leach large quantities of the soybean crop through the blackmarket, which in turn funded its resistance. Due to the unorganized, chaotic command of the EN (by the President himself), it took sometimes as long as a month before new troops could return to the area and reclaim control of the land. This way, the village changed hands on a regular basis throughout the war. On one or more occasions, the EN would overrun the guerrillas and lay claim to the territory in the morning, only to lose it again that very night.

This carried on for some time.

President Villalba-Peña was convinced the reason for his army’s consistent failures and constant back-and-forth was because the villagers were assisting the EEP. The truth behind this was a little different and more difficult to determine. Setting aside strategy and just focusing on the relationship between the guerrillas and villagers, the complexities reveal themselves through the horrible poetry of this conflict. We will never know exactly how these farmers viewed the fighters on either side, or the war that pitted them in the center of a maelstrom.

In truth, they were most likely relieved when the EEP stopped burning the crops, which drove them into further debt with Monsanto and threatened to destroy their homes and livelihood; but this did not mean a majority of the villagers favored the guerrillas, especially to the point of becoming militarily involved. No, some were likely sympathetic to the revolutionaries while others were nationalists. At least one or two sons must have been drafted to protect the government, while others (including daughters) ran into the forest to join the resistance. More so, they were almost certainly concerned whether the drought would extend into its eighth year, or if those goddamned langostas would make their way further west through the valley towards their crop. They probably hoped that year would be a little less hard than the previous one, fully expecting the opposite.

They existed in the world at a time that was much like the rest: cruel and indifferent about it: and their lives ended in much of the same way as all the other nameless faces positioned out in that vacuum of the empty past. They suffered at the hands of the human struggle and their voices were never heard. Their stories will only be remembered through the conjuration of history.

And yet, this does not make their lives any less real, or what happened to them any less wrong.

Personal Crisis in “Politics, Saviors, and Political Culture”

In Robin Marie’s brief, but wonderful post on the romanticism of individuality in the American Mind (by looking at the Hunger Games and The Man in the High Castles series), she calls for us to abandon: “our fetish for extraordinary individuals and learn, instead, that a durable collective freedom can only be won, indeed, collectively.”

The whole piece is worth a read and nicely intersects with where my head has been at (off and on) for the past year or more. There is something deeply troubling with a tradition of messianic fantasies shared by members of the political Left, Right, and Center. But as I’ve thought more about the subject, it is not only the image of a singularly championed individual that should frighten us, but the few who have the engines of power (fueled by massive amounts of capital) to steer this nation, too.

I was thus inspired to write the below comment (oddly enough, while listening to Tangerine Dream’s “Loved by the Sun” on repeat). There were a few questions I posted, and I’d like to open the floor to any reader. Give it some thought, and if you care to share, please do.

Another wonderful post.

“… suggesting that individual moral intuition will always be superior to the morality of collective reasoning and effort.”

Or the morals and ethics of a few to the many. I lately find myself in a bit of a cognitive feedback loop on this subject… or maybe it’s a reoccurring waking nightmare? In an age of Citizens United, the political arena seems to pit David Brock and his “do-gooding” liberal billionaires against the Koch Bros. and remaining members of the Legion of Doom. And there appears to be no end in sight to this political-financial arms race playing out in our elections across the nation—not just congressional or presidential elections, but the state level, too.

And I have serious doubts/fears about putting hope into the hands of either of these wealthy cadres. Regardless of where one finds oneself on the political spectrum, this current landscape should be downright disconcerting. And yet, when I hear dear friends/family members comment on how they (as Trump supporters) are OK with antithetical billionaires running their respective cabinets because: “that’s how the Founding Fathers intended it to be: disinterested elites to govern the flock” or some liberal pals of mine talk about how billionaires like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg need to “get off the sidelines” and really combat the “new red menace” I wonder if the terror on my face quite aptly describes the situation in its entirety.

At this point, I usually scramble for some solace from the past, anything to beat back the creeping despair. I like to think about the Gilded Age (very simplistically, I confess) and how movements arose from such inequality that gave rise to better living conditions (granted much later, and often not enjoyed by those who suffered then), labor unions usually come to mind first. But I quickly remind myself that in today’s world such social apparatuses are on life support.

In light of this, the image of the messianic individual (from the left or right) is quite appealing to a society that is reeling from anxiety and has little agency other than to shack up with one side funded by millionaires/billionaires or the other—which only intensifies your call for small-d democracy and durable collectives.

But… to get back to history…

What example(s), if any, of the past can be used for this goal? What was a durable collective that “worked”? How did it come to be, what was the context of its genesis and success?

critical-theory

Hollywood in the 24th Century… a report by TMZ

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03/05/2329

Both “Tom Cruise 3000” presented by Dynamic Cybernetics® and Johnny Pitt were arrested late last night after the two created mass chaos on the streets of New Sunset Blvd.

The two got into a scuffle outside the Hustler’s Cafe restaurant when they both drunkenly confused each other’s date (Taylor Swift clones) for their own. It seems the centuries-old feud between the two Mega-Level-A-List celebs finally reached its boiling point on the sidewalk outside when ALLEGEDLY “Tom Cruise 3000” presented by Dynamic Cybernetics® chased after Johnny Pitt and accused him of unlawful possession of his girlfriend. Johnny Pitt is then said to have told “Tom Cruise 3000” presented by Dynamic Cybernetics® that he was mistaken, just like his decision to star in the 264th reboot of the Spider-Man franchise (which was re-rebooted8.045 the year before, starring Johnny Pitt)–zinger!

The two have been bitter rivals ever since Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt genetically spliced their DNA together to make one super-human actor. According to his doctors, and generals at the Pentagon, Johnny Pitt: “has super-human abilities, anti-aging qualities, teeth that can bite through steal, bullet-proof skin, etc.; he also is 60% more handsome, 19% better at acting, and 35% less likely to throw a phone at his wife.” Regrettably, they added: “One downside was we couldn’t reduce his child abuse statistics. An unfortunate side-effect is that those attributes were enhanced.” In fact, Johnny Pitt is known to have an insatiable bloodlust for his offspring.

Before the genetic merger, “Tom Cruise 3000” presented by Dynamic Cybernetics® was the only authentically enhanced actor in Hollywood. Most actors from the 20th/21st Century who can still be seen in the hard or soft rebooted mega-films of today live on through copyrighted CGI ownership. We all know about the recent Sony hack scandal (now believed ALLEGEDLY perpetrated by Warner Bros.) and their loss of over 250 copyrighted celebrities (including all of Johnny Pitt’s ex-wives). Or the Great Disney-20th Century Fox War of 2323 that claimed the lives of over 250,000 interns, the bloodiest studio war in this nation’s history.

“Tom Cruise 3000″ presented by Dynamic Cybernetics® was unique because he was actually not dead. Turns out audiences love not-dead actors from the 20th/21st Century. With the body of a Dynamic Cybernetics® VK-450 (powered by Ford Motor’s Thermal-Nuclear power) and synthetic skin, the only organic part of his body is his head—making him legally, technically still a person. And with Dynamic Cybernetics® patented skin rejuvenation grafting**,”Tom Cruise 3000” presented by Dynamic Cybernetics® will always look like that fresh-faced twenty three year old of the Top Gun years. Though according to eye-witnesses last night, his latest grafting session ALLEGEDLY didn’t go so well—somebody should get their money back!

Needless to say, when Johnny Pitt came on the scene, he immediately became “Tom Cruise 3000” presented by Dynamic Cybernetics®’s main competition and the two have been bitter rivals ever since.

Apparently, the world of Hollywood is not big enough for these two global superstars, and that played out on New Sunset Blvd., which might have to be called New New Sunset after the reconstruction that will be necessary to fix what the two celebs destroyed.

The city is estimating roughly $4 billion dollars in damages and a death toll that keeps climbing.

No one could be reached for comment except the generals at the Pentagon. “We’re monitoring the situation very closely, but overall we’re pleased with the results.”

 


** The patented skin rejuvenation grafting technic takes skin cells and grows a whole new face in a petri dish until cultivated to look like the younger desired self. Then the old face skin is removed and the “rejuvenated” face skin is grafted onto the skull. A surgery to replace deteriorating skin has to happen about every six to twelve months to maintain proper facial continuity.

Pork Soda in a Time of Tremendous Tremendousness

“Art” is malleable. Not only is a work’s meaning derived through the individual’s consciousness (both creator and interpreter), but the same consciousness over time. It is through this subjective-temporal evaluation that a larger appreciation, or contextualization of said work can be realized in its totality.

But as much as the observer is analyzing the work, the “Art” also acts as a tool of analysis on the observer, and as much can be said about the evaluator as the work being evaluated. Not only are the work and viewer being evaluated, both then and now, but the surrounding apparatuses that construct the scenario.

So when we revisit a painting, or novel, film, musical album, etc. we are not only attempting to arrive at a better understanding of the work, its creator’s intention, and all the like, but of ourselves and the extending circumstances we find ourselves in, too. These moments can give way to beautiful, personal intellectual satoris, but also act as wedges to reinforce particular myopias. We may very well emerge from the cage, shackles untethered, only to never realize we are inside a prison.

Not similar but running parallel to this risk of shortsightedness is the misreading of the past: events, works, or people. This type of thinking can be seen in certain opinion articles claiming certain actors in the past (Richard Rorty, David Foster Wallace, or even the Frankfurt Scholars) had predicted the rise of Trump and conditions of 2016 that would precipitate his election. These thoughts are a) flattering to the thinkers they label as prescient minds, b) fun to read and remember the pleasures of said thinkers, and c) completely ahistorical and thus silly.

The anachronism is best dismantled in Andy Seal’s critique from the wonderful USIH blog.

Neither Richard Rorty, David Foster Wallace, nor Adorno, Marcuse, Benjamin and the rest of the Frankfurters were capable of reaching such heights of clairvoyance, no matter how brilliant they all were. To claim otherwise is a dangerous form of closed-mindedness and recklessly treats the past with little reverence, and history as a plaything.

Why. With such logic, one might credit the band Primus’s 1993 album, Pork Soda, as being much more than some “goofy” “amalgam of elements that have no reason to be joined together in a sane universe,” but an artistic cri de cœur against the decline of the human condition in this ever-modern world and a quickening doom at the hands of the 45th President. It would not be difficult to then say that Les Claypool predicted Trump!

trump-soda-3

It starts with a brief overture called, “Pork Chop’s Little Ditty”. A quaint intro of mandolin and faint percussion lulls the listener inward to this unknown world. Like a mixture of Disneyland’s Splash Mountain and the promises of Trump’s slogan, it seems colorful and wholesome until (with the slap of a bass guitar) you nosedive into the macabre of “My Name is Mud”. From that point forward, you experience a wholly different realm, one that feels very much like an alternate reality but in retrospect is a death knell foretold: it signals the undertow of hillbilly malice about to be unleashed.

For Primus is, in many respects, a more apt representation of white working class ethos than the sitting President or any member of his cabinet. It’s unorthodoxy is only matched by its simplicity, and its irreverence for what mainstream pop culture audiences (i.e. typical bourgeois consumers) is indicative in its apoplectic distortion, manic guitar solos, and un-artful lyrics which either offer cheekiness or champion quotidian life. One sees this working class attitude unveiled best in songs like: “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver” “John the Fisherman” “Shake Hands with Beef” “Those Damned Blue-Collared Tweekers”: and particularly on this album we find “The Ol’ Diamondback Sturgeon (Fisherman’s Chronicles, Part 3)” and “DMV”. Primus is the soundtrack to white working class id. And in Pork Soda, the band is demonstrating this spirit from the very start.

The song”My Name is Mud” is concerned about a man who has, in the heat of argument (“a common spat”), murdered his friend (“sonsofbitch who lies before me bloated, blue and cold”). It is a chilling representation of the repressed rage of the white working class, who feels marginalized and whose concerns (mainly about their livelihood) are not taken seriously. So they have lashed out, mostly in the form of voting into office the only man who seemed to notice them, but also in the most extreme examples through reified hate (few though they maybe, still terrifying). It is a new reality we find ourselves in, to which Primus says: “Welcome to this World”.

The song perfectly captures the world to come over the next four years: a world of unfettered neoliberal economic policies that will enrich the already wealthy and place an unbridgeable gap of inequality in the void of gutted welfare programs designed to aid the lowliest, and where hardcore rightwing policies suppress goodwill and civil liberties in the name of national strength and homogeneity, cultish adulation, and “pink champagne and swimming pools”. For the sociopolitical atmosphere that will be unleashed on the nation will be tolerated by many for the sake of prosperity. But as the song suggests with its clownish melody, this is a mean joke. The affluence imagined by many but experienced by few cannot resolve the existential dilemmas of what it means to be human in this world. In the absence of meaning, with close to half the nation in a state of nationalist fervor, when the dreams of the left and the attempts of liberalism have failed against outright hostile capitalist hegemony and ruling class power, perhaps the only remaining option is the big fail for some. To excuse themselves from the world completely, which may have been what Claypool and the boys were getting at in the song that immediately follows: “Bob”. A song that tells of a friend “who took a belt and hung himself” in his apartment. A moving dirge of Claypool’s artistic friend “who drew such wondrous pictures in the apartment where he lived” and was found “dangling” by “his woman and his little bro”. It is a cry of pain, not only at the loss of a friend but what Bob represented. The closest expression of what it means to be human can only be found in those “wondrous pictures” or songs of Claypool, or in “Art” at-large. But in an ever-shrinking market world, aided by big data, where algorithms enhance a homogenous culture industry, and someone’s human worth is equivalent to their net worth, the marginalized artist is rendered valueless. For the survivors, like Claypool who learn of Bob’s passing, we are left with the same powerful image looping through our memories and the weight of its meaning, like the chorus that plays out the song until Claypool is reduced to illogical scatting: “I had a friend that took a belt, took a belt and hung himself // Hung himself in the doorway of the apartment where he lived”.

The album is full of these lamentations. It may have been unclear for people of the early nineties to understand or appreciate Pork Soda until now when the true genius can be appreciated some twenty-three-plus years later.

In fact, the fingerprints of 2016 are all over this album.

Look at the song “Nature Boy”—about a man who shelters himself in his room/house, gets naked, and masturbates to bottomless pits of porn, is irritated by the fact that his “genitalia and pectoral muscles aren’t quite what I’d like them to be”, and craves his privacy/secrecy: “But you don’t see me” “No one can/should see me”—which is a clear portrait of hyper-agro men’s rights Internet trolls who scurry through the web to prey on decency and spread their vicious hate-mongering, anesthetized by the veil of faceless avatars, deindividuation, and outright psychopathy. There is also “The Air is Getting Slippery”, a clear nod to the environment spinning radically out of control while Average Joes (portrayed by Claypool here) focus on Pink Floyd and hanging out at the bar, completely oblivious to the creeping doom set upon them. “Air” connotes two other thoughts. There is a nefarious quality to the use of the word “slippery” both used in the title and song. As if, this destructive change slips our grasp of it, or slips by and grows more dangerous by the year without our intervention. Of course, the other side of “Air” only  hinted at is the suppression or outright willful ignorance of vested interests in climate change’s cause. They try their best to evade or silence evidence and knowledge and let humanity rot because they: “don’t give a F***”.

“Pork Soda” addresses the confounding stupidity of modern life and our inability to comprehend it, to which consumer culture can only prescribe more capitalism: “Grab yourself a can of Pork Soda // You’ll be feeling just fine // Ain’t nothin’ quite like sittin’ ’round the house // Swillin’ down them cans of swine”. In one of the least-known songs of Primus, “The Pressman” is certainly a diamond in the rough. Not only does the song relentlessly drive at you with it’s haunting melody (again, simple but effective), hypnotic in its quality, but the lyrics Claypool writes vividly paint the picture of rightwing media in today’s society. A Bannonesque protagonist tells us of his days reporting the news: “I deal with fantasy // I report the facts”. A clear nod to the “alternative facts” we are accosted by daily, an endless spew of disingenuous half-truths, logical fallacies, misrepresentations, misquotes, and outright fabrications from this bile hurricane blazing across our news feeds. For Bannon and his ilk, they have done what hard-right reactionaries are best at: take the humanist logic of liberals or the left and use it as a cudgel for their own purposes. So, the rightwing media takes relativism (which they despise in theory, but use to their advantage in practice) and bludgeons our concepts of “facts” and “truth” until they are unrecognizable only to their own side. They gerrymander the American Mind, cutting out large swaths of the country like Swiss cheese, and build a wholly separate country with their “fountain pen[s]” and “stain” our memories, so that when we use history to look into the past we confuse the victims for the villains and carry this broken translation with us into the future.

Even the instrumental tracks carry this prescient, unwavering grief. How else can one explain the song “Wounded Knee”? Clearly, in the advent of the Dakota Access Pipeline (as it continues to unfold) one must not forget what happened at Wounded Knee. It cannot possibly be a coincidence that this song was released on Pork Soda! In any other year, on any other album, the song makes no sense. Only listening to this album in the context of 2016 can one truly appreciate all the correlations!

But the clearest example of the album’s instrumental disquietude comes in the song “Hamburger Train”. It plays out like a psychedelic jam session, only some joker slipped us a bad dosage of the electric Kool-Aid and we’re having a very bad trip. What better way to explain the emotional, psychological trauma we felt that night?** The song comes towards the end of the album, as did the election in that god-awful interminable year. While you listen, you can almost feel the walls melting around you and world collapsing as you did well into the wee hours of that night, only to realize it is the physiological reaction of your brain when hope partially dies. By the time the distorted guitar comes into focus again, bleating like a stuck sheep, so too does the realization of what is to come—paralyzing you in waves of terror. It summons a sense of cosmic dread to stay henceforth until the song collapses under the exhaustion of its own inertia right into the arms of the second rendition of “Pork Chop’s Little Ditty”. It plays again like a taunt to remind us civilization and barbarism are tied together by the same dialectical rope, and it has just swung quite negatively.

And so it makes perfect sense to close out the album with “Hail Santa”, which for obvious reasons is the band’s darkest, cruelest joke of all: combining imagery of the fascist salute with the personification of capitalist joy. It welcomes us to this new world by leaving with a wave and wink to the amalgamation of these two forces: our 45th President.


** Incidentally, the song for conservatives on November 8th was: “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” 

Mr. Drompf Heads to Swampland, USA

Mr. Drompf was furious. The United States of Animals had become rather curious. And only he could save it. He told all the animals so. Atop a mahogany podium, with his best suit and finest bleached rat’s nest, he told them in a voice strained and low:

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“You see, and we all know this folks, I’m the only one who can fix Swampland, Swampland, it’s sad to say, is terrible, just terr-i-ble! look at it, it smells, it’s hot, nothing gets done because you have all that brackish water and lily pads, don’t get me started with those lily pads, folks, they can’t support your weight, you get wet, it’s disgusting, I can’t stand it, we deserve better and I’m going to get you better, trust me, you know it, or my name ain’t Tummy Jeronimous Drompf, you know me, you know what I’m capable of, these swamp dwellers, they don’t care, they love it, but we need better and I’m going to get you better, I’m a toad, I don’t live in the swamp, I live on dry land, that means I can fix it, we’re going to do it, folks, send me in, I’m ready, because, and we all know it, we all know it, it’s gonna be great, simply fabulous, I’ve got the best folks in mind to handle it, you got me, the best, you can picture it right now I’m sure, it’s gonna be beautiful after I’m done with it, I know beauty, I’m a toad, vote for me: Tummy Jeronimous Drompf!”

And so on the day, the animal kingdom gathered in the Great Election Hall to begin shouting out the name of the candidate they preferred. Of course, it was not their voices that mattered as much as those of The Chosen Few—a much smaller hand-picked herd. The Chosen Few would ultimately elect the next leader. In truth, this was an antiquated system. One that should have been replaced long ago, but no one had apparently thought to do so. Instead the animals began to yell the name of their candidate, and although most of the animals did not want Mr. Drompf, his supporters were the most adamant. They locked arms and with a gurgling howl began to chant the “Call of the Drompf”…

“DROMPF! … … … DROMPF! … … … Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf: DROMPF! DROMPF!

Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf: DROMPF! DROMPF!”

The chant was simple enough to cut through the clutter and it grabbed the attention of enough of The Chose Few. Soon they began to chant along with the crowd, too:

“Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf, Drompf: DROMPF! DROMPF!”

The animal kingdom was a bit stunned, including Mr. Drompf himself. But he pulled up his sleeves and began to work hard indeed:

“I have the greatest plans, the best, you’ll see,” he claimed via tweeting bird. “No one knows what I know, no one but me!”

And soon the animal kingdom began to see what Mr. Drompf had in mind:

He hired Mr. V. Russ Mosquito to run the National Blood Bank, the Big Bad Wolf to oversee Housing, a Mr. I.M. Öblverius K. Ostrich as head of the EPA, the seasoned General Kiddo Warhawk as head of the Cabinet for Peace, a Giant Turd for Sanitation Director, and a crypto-fascist pile of nuclear waste as his Chief Strategist. In fact, all of the members of his cabinet were of this merit.

But his genius was not stopped there, though it was all some could bear. For being the great builder that he claimed, he hired construction crews to drain the Swampland he so shamed—using Drompf family-owned bulldozers and Drompf Premium Hosers of course. He drove back the brackish waters and the not-to-be-spoken-of lily pad. Everyone was pleased, and even his critics thought: “He might be all that bad.” He built a giant levee (made of solid gold) to keep it all behind… but only for a short period of time.

By the next day, even more construction workers were brought in to lend a helping hand. Much to the confusion of many, even Mr. Drompf, they started laying pipes that stretched far into dry land. Many animals became uneasy anew, save Mr. Drompf’s supporters who were few. For they mostly lived in silos that insulated them from the outside world.

Then, very suddenly one day, a great roar could be heard. It was no call of the wild; it was not caused by dog, horse, or bird. Someone had released the levee and all the dark putrid waters came rushing through. The swampy water ran down the pipelines with ease, and the horrible roaring sound grew and grew.

Finally, with a great burst! the waters soaked all the animal kingdom, quenching an unwanted thrust.

DET Talks: The GCC Future

(The following transcript comes from the March 5th Democratic Educational Technological Talks—sponsored by the United Bondholders of America for America Coalition (UBAAC)—in the Year of Our Lord, Trump 2019. The speaker, Rannick Hollandaise, founder and CEO of Compassionate Capitalist Solutions LLC, talked about his companies efforts to expand the human genome in new and exciting ways.)

The GCC Future

“I want to start by painting a picture for you. Not literally, I have no skills. [Laughter] But I want you to close your eyes and imagine a mother walking through a store with her son. Let’s say it’s around Christmas time. She makes the mistake of taking a turn down the toy aisle of the store. There the child is inundated with this wide array goods. All the brands, all the action figures, they’re all there. Of course the boy becomes aflutter with all these toys. He wants everything he can possibly get his little hands on. But the mother, of course, cannot afford everything presented in the aisle. She tries to reason with him, but he becomes greatly depressed, and even though they leave the aisle with two toys (which she really shouldn’t be buying for financial reasons and others) the little boy is still upset.

“Imagine now, another mother mistakenly walks her daughter down that same toy aisle… say they rearranged the store overnight so the women are understandably confused, it used to be the cutlery aisle after all. [Laughter] Anyway, mother walks with her daughter, but instead of coveting everything she sees, the daughter simply walks by as if she is observing paint drying. The girl doesn’t care. The two walk on. Nothing happens.

“Now, of course, we all might be thinking: ‘bad parenting’ or ‘greedy childish impulses’ are to blame in the first scenario, and applaud the mother in the second scenario for presumably her better parenting skills. Or we might think this is some sort of gender comment. Boys being impetuous materialists, and girls are not. We of course know that to be empirically untrue. [Laughter] We may even think the products appealed better to the boy than girl for whatever reasons, the mysterious waving of the invisible hand and whatnot.

“Whatever we may be thinking, we might not recognize that both situations present problems. The first is obvious, the child is upset and the mother is in worse-off financial standing for trying to satisfy the boy. The second, the mother and girl seem unharmed, but what about the companies that have made these toys? Won’t they be hurt? And furthermore, won’t the mommies and daddies that work at those companies be negatively effected by the no-sale? Maybe not in this one instance, but extrapolating from there, you can begin to see the larger issue at hand. It is an issue that has plagued economists, business people, politicians, parents, consumers, pretty much every person around the world. The human relation to consumption. What is it? How does it work? What are the components? Who are the actors? And so on.

“We’ve tried for centuries to understand the right balance of and conquer that ineffable social alchemy between survival, consumption, and purpose. But in today’s modern world this seems less and less likely to happen. More companies come out with more goods to satisfy more needs of more people. How could we possibly make any progress in satisfying people’s consumer demands and reach the admirable goal of full-employment? The simple answer is: we can’t. Not as the way things are. We are stuck is a vicious feedback loop of anxiety, consumption, debt, and work. We will likely be stuck in this pattern until we eliminate ourselves from the world theater. And that’s the optimistic point-of-view… [Laughter]

“For centuries, we have been looking outward for answers only to come up empty-handed. But now that’s about to change. At CCS, we’ve been working for years on a completely novel way to alter our behavior in a positive manner for America. And the key to cracking this code is a code itself, located within us. Our very own genetic code. Through a process of—what we call—‘genetic commercialization’ we have been able to go into the human genome and change the DNA in order to create certain favorable characteristics. These characteristics are related to human desire and relationship with consumerism.

“Through our genetic engineering, we are able to construct the human mind to have certain set wants and needs. By simply tinkering with a few chromosomes, we are able to properly effect the human brain so that, even as a baby, the human already craves certain types of goods and products.

“Now, I know what you might be thinking: How do I invest? [Laughter] We’re already working closely with some of the largest corporations in the country, and have received another large grant from the government to continue our research and implementation well into 2025. It’s very exciting for us.

“But I’m not here to gloat. Well, maybe a little. Why I think we’re seeing such support and cooperation is because the future needs to be a little more organized, and genetic commercialization is a necessity. No longer will we be plagued by a sea of goods, for we will already have our genes pre-programmed to enjoy certain things and be opposed to others. Certain percentages of the population will love Disney, Coca-Cola, Hershey’s and Ford Automobiles, where others will prefer Hasbro, Pepsi, Nestle, and GMC. And others more. It will be very much like now, but instead of inter-corporate consuming habits being a burden to us, it will become part of our nature. Buying General Mills products will become as easy as breathing air to us.

“With designated sections of the population genetically devoted to certain brands for their entire lives, companies can always guarantee profits, keep a consistent workforce, which means employees won’t need to stress about keeping their jobs, consumers will never spend too far outside of their income and therefore get into too much credit trouble, and we eliminate a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to handling the market. We will essentially create a predictable consuming world, rich with people consuming American products and boosting American jobs and lifestyles.

“There is no limit to what we can make our DNA do. But there is a catch. It is us. We cannot manipulate DNA of people who are already born. Every one in this room cannot be saved—I mean fixed—I mean genetically perfected—I mean… [Laughter]

“Us ‘old-fashioned’ types will have to keep doing things the way we’ve always known, but the next generation is the key. Fetal manipulation is necessary to properly enacting genetic commercialization. The process is a little too technical and complicated for this seminar, and I’m already running out of time, but to put it simply: we have to remove the fertilized egg from the uterus and perform the patented DNA-swap procedure—humbly called the ‘Hollandaise Maneuver’—to insert the new brand-specific DNA. Then we place the embryo back in the uterus and let nature take its course.

“We already know this works… this is a picture of our very first successful test subject. This is Adam. Last year we performed the Hollandaise Maneuver and Adam was born nine months later, perfectly healthy. Over the course of the last six months, we have been testing out products with Adam. One of the brands we implanted into his DNA was for Procter & Gamble, not Johnson & Johnson or other family goods companies. When we tried to use products belonging to competitive brands, Adam either shied away from the products, or (very interestingly) developed rashes. His body and mind were clearly rejecting the other corporate brands, preferring Procter & Gamble’s products. It was a revolutionary breakthrough. We’ve been testing his other brand-DNA characteristics and so far have been met with success. It’s a very encouraging development.

“And when Adam grows up and decides to have children (because we’ve reinforced the reproductive drive in his DNA, too), he will most likely pass along some of these commercialized genes to his children. Assuming we can implement matters the way we believe we can, Adam will meet an Eve with commercialized genes, too, and they will have children who crave one set of their brands or the other—so in addition to wondering whose eyes their baby has, or whose nose, they’ll also wonder if the baby has their love for Pantene and Cornflakes, or Neutrogena and Cheerios.

“As I mentioned before, we’re already working closely with corporations and the government. There are a few companies that are holding back cautiously, but we are certain they will come around to us. Much like the agricultural revolution, all it takes is one acting group to change the world. We just need one corporate entity to join us and the rest will follow. And we don’t have one, we are already working closely with more than twenty conglomerates. In addition, we are teaming up with the administration towards passing legislation that will make our genetic commercialization a routine part of the circle of life—at least for the latest crop of parents. Then within the next, say, twenty to forty years, we will have implemented our first genetically commercialized generation of Americans, and—might I add—advanced the human species.

“We’re calling this project ‘Genetically Commodified Children’ or  ‘GCC Kids’ for fun. Imagine it, an entire next generation of youths who know exactly what they want to experience and purchase, and an entire world of workers and businesses developed around those consumers, Supply and Demand working together in perfect harmony.

“It’s really not hard to imagine anymore. The future is now.”

[Vehement Applause]

Infinite City: Blue Vandas (Dorcho’s on 139th and N. Vorschein)

I’m sitting at the counter in Dorcho’s on 139th and N Vorschein. It’s been around since the late 20s. The decor clings to the epoch when diners “mattered” (something an arthouse punk I know said to me), which might make it post-war 1950s. The brown floral linoleum peels at the edges, reminiscent of a dried lakebed, or withering bouquet. The entropy is most visible near the entrance, around corners of the booths, and beneath the door to the bathroom, exposing the burgundy-painted concrete lying beneath. The walls are covered in a crude wood panelling, sections of which have warped around the ventilation system of the exposed kitchen. At night, when the room is colored in tungsten, the walls nearest to the storefront windows show how faded they have become from UV radiation. The two-tone quality accentuates the aesthetic binary of the diner, the counter to the front, the booths to the back.

Dead-center, the kitchen consists of one large blackened griddle with sundry knobs and compartments housing various thawing meats and variations of starchy sides. The decades of grease, dirt, fluids, anything transmitted through the conduit of ill-washed hands have formed a thin coagulum. It gives off a certain blue-collar sheen, or in other words: filthy luster. The health inspector’s grade “Q-” hangs alongside the framed pictures of the past: headlines from local newspapers spanning the centuries next to photos of past store owners as they age, their families, a collage of human continuum.

Blue vandas perch on the windowsill facing the street, and on rainy days (like this one) they produce an exquisite sadness, looking almost longingly out at the rain drops as they hit the glass and fall in sporadic patterns. They are well-cared for, the flowers. Their petals environ the white plastic vases that hold them forming a purple canopy (dark blue in the shade of thunderclouds) with starlight pistils at the centers. Their beauty invokes an emotional, intellectual response, some natural provocation similar to staring into flame.

My waitress, Madonna, tells me they’re the current owner’s favorite. She has a garden of them atop the building. “Cuts ’em every Sunday or so and puts new ones down.” That’s a lot of flowers. “You better believe it.” Madonna tells me some other things, opening up as women do once we realize the other isn’t a threat. This impromptu civility transforms from blue vandas, to awful weather, to my order, to Madonna complimenting me on my glasses and necklace, to a brief conversation about cervicoplasty, and then a historical account of the place: It opened the week the market crashed. It changed hands a few times, from one relative to another, but has been under the ownership of this little ole grandma named Barney for the past fifty years. Her father had a heart attack at the griddle and she inherited the business at nineteen.  Flash forward a few decades, add a couple of kids and ex-husbands later, she now spends most of her days sitting in one of the few booths towards the back speaking Portuguese to the Angolan immigrants who live around the area.

Madonna motions and I turn to notice Barney sitting in the back speaking with an Angolan? as she sips on her coffee? tea? from her skylight blue mug.

“A Love Bizarre” by Sheila E. plays. I know now because Madonna tells me—it’s her iPhone playlist.

I steal looks over at the old owner of Dorcho’s. Her eyes are fixed on her interlocutor. Her lips move calmly as she explains? argues? jokes? with the other person. Her face and hands hint to at least four? five? decades of labor. The word “velleity” pops into mind, though I can’t quite imagine why. Then I look back at the photographs and newspaper clippings over the years, all spread across the wall behind me. Customers conversing, eating, ignoring the captured past hanging muted above them. I look at the stories of the pictures and headlines, I follow them from the door, flitting from framed image to article and other, children growing old, interchangeable men and fashions from one frame to the next, “Best Diner” “Best Burger” “Dorcho’s Fights Back” “75 Years and Counting” “Local Diner Does OK”, all the way to the back where Barney sits.

I follow the points and I counter-reference them with Barney. And I wonder about the in-between moments, all the pluses and minuses that make the sum, the production not the product, those ignored or forgotten moments that are almost as important if not more than the important ones. And for a moment, I start to pull away from myself, staring deep into Barney’s sad beauty, overcome and alive, and start to understand something until Madonna sets my meal down in front of me.

“Surf’s up!”

The End of History… (Cubs ed.)

by Francis Fukuyama

 

In the course of watching Game 7 of the World Series, it was hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental was happening in world history. To read some of the recent articles posted after the game seems to point to the end of over a century’s worth of misery and the upcoming of spiritual “peace” throughout the hearts and minds of North Siders. Most of these analyses lack a certain macro-study of what is ultimately of merit and what is analytical rubbish, and thus laughably cursory.

And yet…

These articles nevertheless (poorly, by accident) point towards some grander conceptual apparatus at play, viewed through the praxis of the Cubs playoff run: first with the remnants of a once powerful San Francisco Giants team, then the tinseltown darlings Los Angeles Dodgers, and finally a revamped derelict named the Cleveland Indians that threatened the hopes and dreams of America’s Pastime with the apocalypse. But the beginning of the twentieth century has been bookended by the beginning of the twenty-first in very much the same fashion: the Chicago Cubs are World Series champions.

The triumph of Chicago, of the very idea of the North Side Cubbies, is not only evident in the final tally, the hoisting of the gold-clad trophy, or the deluge of tenth-rate bubbly, but it transcends into the highest form of Western excellence: consumer products. Lakeshore Drive Yuppies and Northwest Suburban Soccer Moms wearing T-shirts, caps, pajamas, and flags all doubled their original markups; post-college bros and dentists alike with their signed baseballs, bats, and jerseys for upwards to $4000; picture frames, bobbleheads, commemorative books or Blu-rays, you name it! found in Belmont as well as Boystown, or Albany, Norwood, and Lincoln Park, and “Go, Cubs! Go!” can be heard on radio waves all across the city; over $70 million dollars-worth of merchandise sold within the first full day alone from buyers all over the country (even the poor children of Laos, Sudan, Afghanistan, Honduras, Haiti, and more, who will wear the over-sized T-shirts intended for hulking adults paid exorbitant salaries so high the gap between the two is as imperceptible as the words “World Series Champions” and “Cleveland” or the beet-faced racist caricature smiling back at them, even these children are a sign of the overwhelming success of the Cubbies excellence).

What we maybe witnessing is not just the end of the century-plus epoch of misery for Cubs fans and thus the exuberance of fans and profiteers in an orgy of commodity exchange, but the millennium of peace and prosperity for all baseball fans at the behest of The Loveable [Winners] and ergo: THE END OF HISTORY.

I

Of course, the concept of the end of history is not original. No. It started over seventy years prior this essay with the deleterious Greek, William Sianis, and his filthy goat: Buckles. Upon being ejected from the World Series game in Wrigley Field on account of either his or his goat’s smell, he used his crypto-gypsy black magic (sacrificing Buckles outside the gates of the historic ballpark) to curse the Cubs, stating: “These Chicago Cubs, they ain’t gonna win. They’re a buncha bums. They ain’t gonna win the World Series. Because they insulted my goat. They ain’t never gonna win a World Series ever again, or my name ain’t William Sianis of 374 South Halsted Street! Mark my woods [sic]. It’s da end of history for d’em!”

Sianis was borrowing this concept of the end of history from a far superior German thinker: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich von Puff’n’Stuff Hegel: whose legacy has been tarnished a bit at the hands of Billy Goat-worshiping descendants of Sianis (and possibly closeted Satanists) who appropriated Hegel for their own anti-Cubbie rhetoric, he now has the misfortune of being seen mainly as a precursor of Sianis goat cursing.

However, there was a man from Wrigleyville who attempted to wrestle Hegel from the claws (or hooves) of the Goaters. He was Harry Carey, and he held a long and prosperous career as a baseball announcer for various clubs, including over a decade and  half with the Cubs until his death in 1998. One fateful day in fall, Carey made the astonishing claim: “…sure as God made green apples, the Cubs are going to be in the World Series,” he spoke of the key ingredients of their success that were already in place, even though the team had only finished in first place twice in a thirty-year period prior and achieved a winning record just five times in that span, went through twenty-two different managers, and would eventually lose ace pitcher Greg Maddux. To peers of Carey’s in 1991, comments calling for a new manager “maybe Jimmy Frey” (who had been fired five years previously) or “this is a veteran team, guys who are young but still are veteran,” must have seen like ramblings of a senile loon, trapped in a quixotic myopia that was the blind love of a perpetually tottering baseball club. To some now, he might seem prescient. But Carey was just a dogmatic Hegelian.

II

Hegel is key to understanding the Cubs triumph and the end of history.

To summarize Hegel’s idealist views in a few pithy sentences would be a disservice to the philosopher and only accentuate the intellectual pratfalls of this essay. But fuck it.

Hegel believed the “real” world could be impacted by the “ideal” world (not necessarily directly, but indirectly), so our historical consciouses guide our human action which influences world behaviors which influence our historical consciouses.

So, when Carey stated twenty-five years prior to the realization that the Cubs would win the World Series, he was merely speaking from the realm of consciousness that all Cubs fans had, and eventually that idea broke through the nebulous of ideas into the world of reality, bringing in the end of history.

III

“But,” some might ask, “are we really at the end of history?”

Well, are the Cubs the World Series champions? Can any other team in Major League Baseball win the 2016 World Series now? Can anyone buy merchandise that claims otherwise?

We need not ask every crackpot fanatic their answer to the above questions. It matters very little what supporters of the Colorado Rockies, or New York Yankees, San Diego Padres or Detroit Tigers have to say about matters for they are not important enough. No. We need only ask these questions from other like-minded Cubbies.

Previously, the two biggest challengers to Chicago Cubs world dominance were the St. Louis Cardinals and goat curses. But as 2016 has shown us, what we always knew would be the case from the start, the Cubs handled the Cardinals (starting back in the 2015 NLDS when they defeated them to advance to the NLCS, but then winning the head-to-head series in 2016 and finishing seventeen and a half games ahead of them in the Central Division), and eventually broke the back of the vicious curse (with the throw from Bryant to Rizzo to capture the last out of the season).

Some may point out the Cardinals were plagued by injuries, suspensions, and other setbacks, and in an already weak Central Division, the Cubs were able to move through an easy schedule, or that they benefitted from a Giants victory over the Mets (a team they had a combined record of 2-9 over the past eleven games) in the Wild Card game, or that if the Cleveland pitching staff and outfielders had not played with comical Little League bungling in Game 6 or were not overwhelmed by the weight of their own being Cleveland-ness in Game 7, the Cubs might not be World Series Champions, and others point out that there are particularly searing issues the clubhouse will have to face in the future (Chapman and Fowler might move on; Heyward was not the player they paid for; no team has won consecutive World Series championships since the New York Yankees at the turn of this century) to ensure the Chicago Cubs hegemony.

With all these accusations flying about like a cherished W, it is possible to forget a simple truth. In 1908, the Cubs won the World Series. The present world seems to have confirmed this fact and stayed relatively close to the fundamental principles that a baseball team should win the World Series, and even though it might have been 108 years between then and now before the Cubs won the championship again, no one can deny they did, in fact, win the World Series, thus not only breaking the curse but establishing the greatness and ubiquity of Cubbie-dom.

IV

What, then, does it mean to be at the end of history?

Ultimately, because the Cubs are World Series champions it means they will remain so for the foreseeable future and thus live at the end of history in their surfeit of celebratory goodies, parades, and glad tidings.

Clearly, teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks and Minnesota Twins still exist in the world, and thus in history, but for any team (or their fans) that want to experience the joy and wonder of being a champion, all they need to do is to stop being them and become a Chicago Cub.

Based off my connections with the front offices in Cleveland and even the South Side the intelligentsia is most likely already starting to make their moves northward.

V

The victory of the Cubs spells the death of the Billy Goat curse. Its passing means the growing “Common Cubbietization” of Major League Baseball, and the unlikely return of any other equal-measured competitor to rise from now till the Rapture.

This does not mean the end of all problems, per se, in Chicago. The river will still need to be dyed a natural color, Jay Cutler will still be the Bears quarterback, and millions of Chicagoans will continue to drink Old Style and eat a glorified bread bowl of meat, cheese, and red sauce they call “pizza”… which might compel one to wonder how significant a Cubs victory is, but… … …

Now and forever, the Cubs will remain the victors valiant, the heroes of the West(ern civilized world), there need not be another champion of the Major Leagues for there is no alternative now to the Chicago Cubs.

The end of history will be sad for many. The struggle for a new identity will be felt. Many Cubbies will have a hard time coming to terms with being winners. The willingness to get piss-drunk and risk arrest for a purely abstract goal of greatness by punching a Brewers fan in the face will be lost. The ethic of “Loveable Loserism”will be replaced by something less adhesive, some cold calculation of victory, an endless sea of championship paraphernalia.

All we will have to look forward to now is this boredom, and perhaps, one day, look back longingly at history.

Barbershop off Main St.

For those who had even the most inchoate appreciation of spatial properties and crudest admiration for aesthetics, the barbershop was an offense to such attuned faculties. The locomotive design impacted all the contents of the room together into this long, strained hallway, without any of the pleasantries afforded by riding transit: mainly a sense of adventure: instead, what remained was the strong feeling of claustrophobia and decorative constipation. Checkerboard tiles spread out across the floor fading off into a blur, some optical deception, as the eyes hit the horizon. When buffered, which was rare, the floor glared back the light reflecting off it, day or night, to suggest a demur attitude towards cleanliness, preferring the soot-rich scrubbing of a years-old mop to crest its battered surface and expose blemishes in the dried remains of dirty water; most often, random marauding tuffets of clipped hair were noticed roaming across the barren plains searching for crevasses to hide in or shoes to fix under. Undusted frames of mass-produced prints hung scattered on the halogen-colored walls: Stuart’s unfinished Athenaeum, a detailed lithograph of Connecticut, bad Impressionists and Sargent’s divisive Gassed, ugly illustrations from obliged school children, a few covers of the Saturday Evening Post ripped straight from the magazine: their selection and level of skilled placement reinforced the banal eclecticism of Main Street. An overused broom and its mop companion leaned in a corner. To stare into the local parlor was similar to falling in it. One could not fight its gravitational pull.