Things Don’t Change

So, the dude who led the mob that beat up that couple in Brentwood got arrested for attacking his wife and father-in-law who were pissed at him for having an affair with his father-in-law’s new wife.

Ha ha ha.

But also, I can totally see racist groups in the 50s falling apart in the same way.

A thing I’m curious about–though not curious enough to really dig into it–is how you can behave these ways and still believe yourself to be “supreme.” Like at what point do they think the moral superiority is going to kick in? Or do they think that carrying on like this is better than whatever “they” do.

There are parts of racism I get–really well, too well. I get the woman at the coffee shop who is looking for a place to sit and who demands a black woman whose cup is almost empty get up and give her that spot. I get how tempting it is to believe that some people just aren’t as smart as other people and it’s genetic and race-based. I get the systemic racism. I get the positive feedback loop it instills in white people which makes itself very hard to even recognize, let alone stop. It’s hard to turn away from pleasure.

And I get the “I hate you” racism. The “let’s go beat up some black kids” or “let’s go scare those Asian kids.” Again, it’s the pleasure of the bully.

But “I’m better than you” is a claim that must, I’d think, be constantly tested. It has to be perpetuated by comparison (which is how systemic racism plays into it). But obviously the comparison must often show you that you’re not all that. None of these white supremacists are as good looking as, say, Idris Elba. If they have a superior social structure, why are they beating each other and fucking around on each other? If they’re so great, why do their lives suck?

How do they look at their own lives and convince themselves that this is the evidence that they are superior? I just do not understand it.


Who Among Us Yet Again Doesn’t Have Enough Yarn?

I got my third panel on this blanket done.


The third panel is supposed to be the halfway point on the blanket. Please note that it is barely half the size of a single bed. So, I need to go up to seven panels, not five. Which is fine, I just need to get some more yarn. I also think I have a fun border picked out.

Season 3 of Someone Knows Something remains brutally hard to get through. It’s only six episodes, but I often have to stop in the middle of one and take a break. The brother’s grief and rage is heartbreaking. But it ends up not being the Klan members that make me the most upset. They are what they are–evil, sadistic terrorists.

The most upsetting part to me is watching how the whole white society continually shifts around them to give them cover and room to work. How it continues to give them space to be free. The support network, intentional or not.


Fox Ran Out on a Chilly Night

tiny fox

At my sister-in-law’s request, I have made a tiny fox for the mobile. Now I’m kind of thinking I may just do these two animals and have them playing hide-and-seek around the shapes. Anyway, at the least, I need to get some of these shapes done.

I like the arm placement on the fox better than on the elephant, but god damn heads are hard to sew on. Both the fox and the elephant have their heads on crooked, but by the time I realized it, they were already pretty firmly damn attached.

I am relieved about Alabama, but I also can’t stop thinking of the women who defended Moore by telling about how their parents had let them date thirty year old men. I believe it. And I think it’s a continuation of one of the main cultural problems of the South–the culture preaches that children must obey and revere their parents who are worthy of glorification, while at the same time, the parents are doing really shitty things like selling their children’s playmates or half-siblings or giving grown-ass men access to them, or just in general valuing power and security over the well-being of the people in your household.

It’s not exactly internalized misogyny, more like internalized patriarchy–if my parents did it, it must be right; my own unease or the unease of others doesn’t matter.

And it’s insidious, because people rightly love their parents, often, even when their parents are shitty and dismantling this train of thought comes very close to telling people that their love for their parents is wrong.

But, damn, “well, my parents let me date a 30 year old when I was 14” is some fucked up shit. And not seeing that it’s fucked up is even more so.


The Kids are All Right

Last week, K and I went to this fundraiser for a local arts group that helps kids develop their poetry skills. One of the things that delights me about Nashville is that it has a somewhat vibrant poetry scene.

The kids were fantastic. Their poems were so beautiful and thoughtful. And they had them memorized! And here was the coolest part: when someone got nervous and forgot a bit or stumbled, everyone would snap for them, to fill the silence with supportive noise.

Is this the thing that beatniks were doing when they snapped? The thing that became a joke? Because it was beautiful. I loved it. And I felt sorry and mad that I had only encountered it as a joke that made fun of poetry audiences.

I don’t subscribe to the notion that everyone is good. But I do believe that most people’s badness is small and surmountable until life breaks them. And once you’re broken, it’s hard to know how people will put themselves back together. (I’m slowly making my way through the Dollop episodes on Trump and Jesus Christ…)

I want so much for these kids to get a chance to fulfill this potential and to not be crushed and broken.

I think another hard thing for me about all this stuff coming out now is that you see how the whole system–every system, our whole society–functions through crushing and breaking and discarding people. You are not supposed to be okay. This doesn’t work if you’re okay.

It’s disgusting. And yet, I don’t see how to disengage from it. You can pull back. A lot of people certainly have. But it’s a comforting fiction to believe you can get out of it. That you can be safe from it. That you’re not replicating it.



Roy Moore

Roy Moore is and has been a disgusting terrible theocrat. I remain unsurprised by him.

I cannot imagine being the daughter or the sister or the wife of the men who are standing around Alabama today excusing him.

When you find out your father is okay with a thirty-something man “trying to date” a teenager, don’t you wonder if your friends were ever safe with your father? Don’t you wonder if you really were?

My heart aches for the people of Alabama today, not the folks arguing that, since Joseph did it to Mary, it’s fine for Roy to do it. But for the people who should be able to feel safe in their own home, able to trust the men in their lives to not harm them or excuse harm that befalls them, who have to know today that the people they love are not safe.



I keep checking up on what’s going on and then regretting it. I have the same feelings I had during Katrina, that we really are on our own. And that because of that, people are going to die.

But at least people got pissed during and after Katrina.

I’m already tired and afraid that people are just going to shift into telling us how awesome he’s doing and how everything is fine.

It’s the gaslighting and the anticipation of gaslighting that’s wearing me down.

Good luck, indeed, Houston.



Kids Today

When I saw the video yesterday of the kid throwing his jacket over the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest or the kids posing, fists raised, next to the crumpled tin busted Confederate monument, I felt my heart swell.

I feel like a lesson we learned from the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s was “Just don’t respond and they’ll get tired of beating their fists on your faces.” Which is not at all the lesson of those protests, which were to make the current situation untenable. If everyone’s fine with you sitting around not complaining about the bad things that happen to you, then you’re not making the situation untenable.

Seeing these young people being proactive makes me proud.



Last week, fittingly enough, The Dollop had an episode about the caning of Senator Sumner and how everyone in the South was all “Ha ha, he got what was coming to him! Oh, ho ho!” and everyone in the rest of the world was like “Holy shit. These people aren’t just fucked up. They are a danger to the wellbeing of our government.”

You can imagine I was reminded of that watching the president unable to say that white supremacists are wrong and that racist ideology is evil. I think to him, he had been so accustomed to how much the American media loves both-side-er-ism that he just assumed his condemnation of all violence would be good enough.

After all, he doesn’t want to alienate the only broad group that openly loves him.

But it felt like a turning point, even before that woman’s murder. Not that things like this hadn’t been happening all along, but with Sumner’s situation, the South had been dueling and fighting for ages. But something about an action can make clear stark divisions, unbridgeable disagreements.

And that was this weekend. Calls for love and peace aren’t going to cut it. Praying about it–unless you’re doing like the pastors in the streets this weekend and praying with your arms locked to try to keep violent racists corralled–isn’t enough. Saying you saw violent people on both sides makes you look like a fool.

The stakes are clear and undeniable now. You’re either against them or you’re with them.

And a bunch of us, who don’t all get along and don’t share the same goals and don’t work well together, are going to be standing against them. I hope it works. I hope it’s not too late.


Everything Old is New Again

So, I went over to Fisk to go through the Looby papers. If you like mid-century architecture and you haven’t been to Fisk’s library, you should rectify that now. It’s a work of art inside, with all the kinds of sharp angular brutish shapes you’d expect from mid-century modern with this two story curving flowing staircase in the middle. It’s just amazing.

Anyway, it was something to spend all morning immersed in the aftermath of 1950s racists and then spend the evening watching these evil bozos at UVA.

We have never dealt with this full-on. We’ve always pretended like, if we just ignore it or are nice enough to them, they’ll eventually be good people.

Which, in turn, lets them continue to fester.



Yesterday, I stumbled across a blog post about an Instagram account that’s some woman in Australia, I think, who takes pictures of herself in poses similar to ones celebrities post on Instagram, but with often hilarious ensuing results.

I had a weird experience looking at her pictures next to the pictures of the celebrities, in that, rather quickly, I found myself preferring to look at her. Her more ordinary body doing more ordinary things.

And it got me thinking of how advertising tries to show you an ideal to strive for–but the point is that you can’t get there or why would you need to keep buying things? The people need to be otherworldly and they need to have no ordinary people around them or your eye goes to the ordinary person.

It’s not just the lie. It’s the lie without comparison.


The World is on Fire

Yesterday, and I can’t find it now, of course, I read a brief paragraph on how Lovecraft’s fiction, even the stuff that doesn’t deal explicitly with race, is bound up in the terror of discovering that you’re not the most important thing in the universe, which is, at heart, a racist terror.

But this is also the thrill of the apocalypse, which we as a nation love, the belief that we are so important that this moment must be unique among all other moments that things cannot possibly go on after us.

I have been trying not to succumb to that kind of thinking, because it it at heart not helpful and untrue.

So, instead, I have been asking myself things like “What does how I’m feeling right now teach me about how people must have felt about X?”

And I think I am, in part, understanding some of the existential terror on the homefront of the Vietnam war–how you can see with your own eyes that something is very, very wrong, but also have to live with the vertigo of so many people trying so hard to insist that, if we all just go along with it and put our faith in institutions and our leaders, everything will be fine. When, obviously, going along with it and having faith in institutions and leaders is getting people killed.

And yet, if we don’t have faith in each other and find ways to work together, what hope do we have?



I spent last night on my shitty first draft of this bombing story rather than face the news on the new healthcare bill. I feel utterly powerless to do anything about it and it’s going to have terrible consequences and I just can’t bear to see it.

All those Carrier jobs are gone.

How much more has to happen before they see they were duped?



In researching this story, I found a third racist killed by his kid. I don’t know anything about patricide, really, so I don’t know how common it is, but this feels like a group with a lot more of it than most.

I have two main thoughts about it. One that when we don’t deal with social problems like racism, the suffering is society-wide. The people I’m looking at really harmed black people and Jewish people AND they also really harmed their children. Being white didn’t protect their children from them.

Second, I feel like these kids are often harmed a second time because we tend to dismiss the families of racists as also worthless pieces of shit. As if they can’t be anything other than what their fathers were, which lets us ignore the years of suffering and abuse that the kids endured and then treat what they have to do to escape it as kind of a joke.

Me, too. I mean, I laughed when I saw that this dude had died after a fist-fight with his kid.

But it’s not just funny. It’s also really terrible. And you know the 14 words these yahoos love? What future are they securing? I mean, really. When your kids are abused and terrorized because the only way you know how to go through life is as an abuser and a terrorizer, your kids can’t flourish. And removing everyone who’s not like you from the country or the planet isn’t going to make your kids happy and well-adjusted, because it’s not those outsiders ruining them.

The bogeyman is in the house. Has been there all along.


Donald Davidson

The more I work on this story, the more I end up reading Ben Houston’s scholarship and feeling like, damn, maybe he needs to write this, not me. And then I think, too late!

Anyway, I read a piece he did on Donald Davidson and it was just so brilliant I’m still thinking about it. His basic argument is simple–that Davidson’s racism was central to his writing and that scholars who try to treat it like a side matter are missing a lot of what’s going on in his work.

But what’s been sticking with me is the way Houston walks through Davidson’s beliefs about race and regionalism. Basically, Davidson was concerned with a specific, meaningful mythology of the white Southerner as an agrarian deeply connected to the land and traditions borne out of that relationship.

And Houston also shows how Davidson believed that black Southerners–and black Americans in general–did not have a kind of racial mythology because they’d been taken from Africa and stripped of their land, language, customs, religions, and kinship ties. And without this racial mythology to draw from, American blacks were always going to be less accomplished than white Americans who had this kind of racial (and regional) mythology.

So imagine the threat that accomplished black people posed for Davidson philosophically. It didn’t just offend him as a man racist against black people. It threatened his whole belief in what made white people great. After all, if you could be great without the components of this racial/regional mythology, then maybe the racial/regional mythology theory was wrong.

Or worse, what if it’s not wrong? What if there was a southern agrarian mythology that came from a person’s relationship to the land and the traditions borne out of that relationship, but it also worked for Southern blacks? In other words, this is not “my land,” it’s “our land.” Which is practically communism!!!!!!

So, the two components of his life fit together hand in hand. His artistic output is about codifying and strengthening this white Southern agrarian mythology. His racist endeavors were specifically about thwarting black Southern efforts to develop and have recognized as worthwhile their own Southern culture that Southern whites would then also find value in.

In other words, I think, at some level Davidson knew his mythology was false and could be remade and the existential threat posed by black civil rights was that his mythology would be remade. The past could be reexamined to mean something other than what he wanted it to mean.

Anyway, I don’t know how much of this stuff will make it into the final project, but I think it’s very worthwhile to know.


The Mean Racist Idiot

Y’all, I get down about the current situation. I hate knowing that we’ve chosen to represent ourselves to the world this way. I am still so mad, every time he does something, that people voted for him and voted for him specifically because they thought it was funny he upsets people like me. People willing to kill us both, as long as it means I’m dead.

And then, and then, they insist I sympathize with them, that I have compassion for them, that I listen to their lies and tell them I believe them. It enrages me.


We Have to Legalize Pot and Require Old People to Smoke It

Yesterday I went to the retinologist for my yearly check-up (I am stable and my retinas look slightly better even, though nothing to write home about.) which meant sitting in two waiting rooms with elderly people.

It was alarming. First, they were sitting around talking about how wonderful Trump is and how he’s not a career politician and disparaging politicians who were. Then an old guy told another old guy how he’d missed out on Vietnam due to a terrible car accident caused by his own recklessness. A woman kept interrupting the conversation because she was convinced the accident having old guy was talking to her and she would get pissed and embarrassed when he said he wasn’t. Then more talk about how glorious Trump is.

Then the old ‘I missed Vietnam due to an accident’ guy got called back and as soon as he was out of earshot, they switched to complaining about how anyone could possibly have the time to go to the Trump rally tomorrow and, if they weren’t so busy, they’d be down there handing out job applications to people. And at first I thought they meant the protesters, but no! No, the removal of the biggest Trump supporter allowed them to change their conversation from “fuck the people who don’t like Trump” to “fuck the people who like Trump enough to go see him.” But the exact same snide tone.

And then they launched into complaining about kids today which lead to a conversation about how kids are ruined by third grade. THIRD GRADE! I mean, I’m sure there are some dick third graders out there. I’m not discounting that. But they meant the whole lot. And I can’t help but guess that third grade must be about the time that kids start to get wary of this meanness in these old people.

My dad and I had a conversation recently about Fox News because my dad is really disturbed by how much his friends are affected by it. He said it’s not even that they watch it that bugs him. Like, if they were devoted fans of some show on there the way that he’s a fan of Jeopardy and tries to make time to watch it every day, that wouldn’t concern him. It’s that they leave it on all day, so even when they’re not actively watching it, it’s the noise in the background.

I thought of that yesterday because that’s what struck me listening to these old folks–not the content of what they were saying, though that was weird and alarming (I mean what kind of weird cognitive space do you have to be in to flow right from Hurray Trump! to Fuck those Trump Supporters?), but how, even if you didn’t listen specifically to what they were saying, there was that sharp, snide tone. The same one you would pick up on if you had Fox News on in the background all day.

We spend a lot of time alarmed at how much TV time kids have, but I think my dad is right. Old folks could benefit from turning off the TV and going outside or reading a book or listening to music or, hell, even turning the TV back on but watching something they enjoy instead of something that feeds their worst impulses.


Knights of the Round Table

This morning I was thinking about how the fundamental flaw with our country–and granted, it’s a general human flaw, but I write from where I can see–is that, though we live in a capitalist society, which should mean that everything has a price and, if you want the thing, you have to pay the price, we’ve always wanted other people’s stuff for free.

We’ve come up with justifications for why some of us should give free stuff (land, labor, etc.)–black people aren’t as good as white people; Native Americans don’t have souls, God says women are under men and so on–and we have embedded those beliefs in our very core because, when it works for the people it’s supposed to work for, it’s super awesome.

But it’s a theft and it’s a theft that requires a massive amount of violence to maintain. And the ongoing violence is necessary because the theft is ongoing.

(I’m kind of just understanding this on the fly. I haven’t thought it over a lot, but it’s interesting to think of family abuse as the deliberate means by which something of value from the victim is being stolen.)

As are the narratives that excuse the theft. Not just excuse. Justify.

A really core, fundamental desire is being soothed in the thieves–we are getting something. And our greed and covetousness drives us to justify why our theft is okay–hence racism and sexism and so on. We get something really pleasurable in a lizard-brain way out of propagating those oppressions.

My guess, and again, I was just thinking this shit this morning, is that the core subconscious thing that’s being fulfilled is “someone is taking care of me and all my needs and I don’t owe them anything in return.” Like, racism and sexism and so on are the ways through which we are destructively trying to force the world to be our mommies, forcing the world to make us feel safe and cared for and taken care of. (Which might explain why it was so important to whites to report that their slaves loved them.)

Anyway, I was thinking about the violence at the core of this and I was thinking back to how I learned in school that King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table represented this huge change in our understanding of governance because it was a change from “Might makes right” to “Let’s talk this stuff out as equals and try to come to mutually beneficial understandings of what is right.” Like, first we had “an eye for an eye” and then we had King Arthur and then we had democracy.

Motherfuckers, I learned in middle school that King Arthur was a real person on par in importance with Hammurabi. And I never realized until today, January Thirty-First, Two-Thousand and Seventeen, how fucked up that is. Christ. No wonder America is so fucked.

Are kids going to learn in a thousand years that Captain America was a real person?



I Made a Face of Angry Confusion So Long It’s Now Stuck This Way

I need to process what happened tonight, but god, I don’t want to insult anyone. Important Person A invited me to a thing at a ritzy place full of liberals to hear Important Person B and Important Person C talk and then meet B and C because I might run into them again.

So, A, who I don’t really know, was doing me a big, generous favor.

I was the fattest woman there, by far. There were a couple of plump women, but nobody genuinely fat. Which makes sense, I guess, since these were all people who could afford to be affiliated with the ritzy place and if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that fat and class are very closely linked.

Most of the time, I don’t give a shit, because if we’re going to be pulling out intellectual dicks, well, I’m not ashamed of the size of mine.

But it became quickly apparent that the talk was going to be on “them.” The people who voted for Trump. Those mysterious angry white people. Which I felt so dumb about because I should have realized the second I saw that I was the fattest person there, by far, how the talk was going to go.

I have to tell you, though, I now get why the media describes Trump supporters as these blue collar salt-of-the-earthers. Because apparently plastic surgeons who live in the city and have a country house with a pool and diplomat friends are “upper middle class.”

I feel so angry. I’m so angry that people like me are these odd mysterious creatures you have to go out and find and study and work to understand. I’m so angry that people who admit they don’t understand us think that it’s then their job to bring me (angry at Trump voters) together with Trump voters so that we can learn to understand each other.

Bitch, it’s Saturday.

I went to school with Trump voters. I share DNA with Trump voters. I live in a state ruled by Trump voters. Don’t stand there telling me how, because YOU don’t know MY life and the life of my people, I must need to talk more to fucking Trump voters.

But everyone else was just clapping along and nodding and “oh, that’s so smart and insightful”-ing and all I could do is sit there thinking “I hate everyone in this room and I would never willingly choose to be in this room again with these people.”

And, I have to tell you, part of the reason I’m so upset is that I’m not really sure why I felt that kind of visceral hate. They seemed perfectly lovely. And obviously, they’re all great do-gooders who mean well and do good things. They’re on my side. I’m on their side.

They didn’t mention race once. So, no mention of the deep, deep racism fueling this nonsense. And I’m not interested any more in discussions of what’s going on in America, why we’re so fucking divided, that doesn’t admit up-front the A1 problem of racism. Every discussion that ignores racism is bullshit and a waste of time.

They tut-tutted about the Women’s marches not being nicer to anti-abortion people, as if there’s some room for disagreement between whether I have the right to make decisions about my body or whether you should get to dictate what happens to me.

Just, god, I don’t know. Everything about it made me feel really alienated from people I’m supposed to view as my peers. And I’m sad and angry and embarrassed. And I’m mad at myself for sitting there silently, like I was tacitly agreeing with all the liberal do-gooders safe in their ritzy enclave. And jealous, too, frankly. Deeply jealous.



It’s only been a week, but I swear, the longer it goes on, the more enraged I am that people did this to us. Not just that, but then they’re all hurt that we won’t just make them feel okay about it, that we won’t “let” things get back to normal. They want to have done this shitty thing and have it mean nothing.

And you know, why shouldn’t they get their way? What in American history tells them they won’t? I’ve been thinking how often white people do some dumb evil thing that other white people disagree with and know is evil, but the second group of white people run around American history trying to make the first group understandable and to help us all relate to them and come together with them. Brother against brother, so let’s have a family reunion and keep the power of the country in our family’s hands.

Bah, I’m not being clear. Basically, though, it’s this–we propagate national myths of white tragedy so that white people, even when we have internal disagreements, will try to find ways to be kind to each other, which, since part of the people doing the disagreeing are unabashed white supremacists, means that “good” white people are constantly arguing for kindness toward and understanding of utter shitbirds, on the mistaken belief that this is what makes us “good” people. And all that reinforces white supremacy.

This is obviously familiar to anyone who’s been in an abusive situation. (And I’d argue that you can see Trump’s actions this weekend as the ‘isolating from friends and family’ stage.) Everyone feel sorry for the abuser who just can’t help but be a jackass. Maybe if we’re all kinder to him or her, he or she will see that niceness is awesome and take up the habit.

But it doesn’t work. And it’s cruel to the asshole’s victims.


Back to It

I could use one more day on the couch. Alas, I’ve got too much crap to do. Looking back through the archives, I know I get sick every January and yet, every January, it feels like such an insulting surprise.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Dear Leader and I’ve been watching mental health rights advocates admonishing people not to diagnose him from afar. And, on the one hand, I get it. Mental illness is hard enough, adding to the stigma around it causes all kinds of problems for people with mental illness.

But, on the other hand, the problem with Trump isn’t just that he’s a bad president. I thought W. was a bad president. I thought he was thoughtless and incurious and I disagreed a lot with his policies and approaches. I never once doubted that he was trying to be the best president he knew how to be, as woefully inadequate as I found that.

I don’t think Trump even knows what the job of being president entails nor do I think he’s remotely interested in finding out. His interests, judging by his own words, are in being seen as the best and in being adored. He has no interest that I can see in the day-to-day experience of running the country.

If I had to try to explain to a Trump supporter why I think it’s imperative that they change their minds about him, to me the problem isn’t that he supports a bunch of things I disagree with–after all, so did W. So did Obama, for that matter. Or that he’s a terrible administrator. I don’t think Reagan was some genius bureaucrat. It’s not even that he’s a congenital liar. All politicians lie to one extent or another.

The danger to the Republic is that something is wrong with him. He appears to not be able to hold a consistent opinion for longer than it takes for the political winds around him to change. He seems easily bored and distracted. Short-tempered. Dangerously inconsistent and devoted to believing that people much tougher and smarter than him honestly adore him and think of him as their peer.

In other words, how he perceives the world is not how the world is and he acts on those false perceptions in ways that are extremely dangerous for everyone he has power over.

It’s not enough to say this is not normal. After all, Trump voters voted for him to fix a “normal” they don’t like. So, what other words are there to describe the grave situation we find ourselves in that will convey to the people sympathetic to his ideas (or whatever batch of them they glommed onto) the gravity of the situation?


Don’t Piss on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Russian Intelligence

America! What is happening?! Yesterday was the first day I felt like “Oh, hey, if a Trump presidency is this funny the whole way through, I might be okay.” Every time a person who had been at dinner or commuting or somewhere away from the internet got on Twitter and was like “Um, golden showers, what?” I got to delight again in how terrible this is.

Don’t get me wrong. I know the pee thing probably isn’t true. And, even if it is, except for the fact that Trump wanted them to pee where the Obamas had slept, it hardly seems worth getting bothered about (except you’re paying how much for that hotel room and you have to sleep in someone else’s piss?). But all these sanctimonious asshats who voted for Trump to return some dignity to the White House?

This is what you thought was preferable to Clinton? What would put the country back on track after Obama? THIS is the track you want the country on? Ha ha ha ha ha ha.


This Day

I have to talk on the phone to everyone today. I’m already running late but I didn’t want to not post anything. My parents are about to arrive. I am worried there’s going to be some kind of interrogation about my mental health. I just want to be able to respond with the generosity and calmness and reassurance that will make them less anxious. But maybe they don’t care. Maybe I’m just projecting onto them.

The dog seems to be getting this whole “come when he’s called” thing and, best of all, he seems to really enjoy it. I know it can’t last or be counted on, but I’m enjoying it.

Also, I love this afghan so much. I feel very fortunate to have hit a string of afghans that give me great pleasure.

Jessi Zazu has cancer. The hits just keep on coming this year, I tell you what. I was watching her video where she talks about her diagnosis and shaves her head for her next round of chemo and I couldn’t help but feel like this is offensive, this cancer. Zazu is really trying to make the world a better place. She works so hard for her community. Her music is amazing. And she’s so young. There are so many old sacks of shit in this world. Let cancer take them.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way about this year, but I feel like the things that are supposed to make us happy–a very wanted baby, for instance, or our friends and mentors–have been shown to be so easily stripped away. And that we’ve lost many of the people I would have turned to in order to make sense of our current moment as a nation and as a world. We’re going into this next year, these next four years, without the people I’ve counted on to make sense of this stuff.

To find beauty and meaning even in very dark days.

I feel like all these massive floodlights have burned out or are burning out and it’s just left to those of us who still have matches to light the way. As the song says, this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, but fuck if I know which way to shine it. Or if anyone can see it. Or if all I’m doing is giving away my position.


The KKK Reality Show

Yes, of course, it will have the effect of normalizing this nonsense, but that’s not the purpose of it. Look at how long it’s been in the works–they’ve been filming a year.

I think this is BLM backlash. White people are upset by the idea that there’s systemic racism that we all benefit from and participate in, often unwittingly, so here comes a show to reassure us that we’re not the real racists. It’s those guys.

And the “those guys” they pick aren’t even the largest racist movement in the country currently! They’re not looking at the alt-right. Just the KKK.

See, then? The problem is small and weird and not us. Let’s all point and laugh and feign shock.



This all still doesn’t feel real to me. Last night I was reading some about just how much Russia has been able to influence the election and how many Republicans knew about it and went along with it and I find myself only able to really comprehend things like how this must signal some kind of battle between the CIA and the FBI.  Or laughing at Trump discounting the news stories because the sources are the same as those that lied us into war in Iraq (and yes, I know it’s not true, but it still made me laugh out loud to see it. Are Republicans now admitting that they lied us into a war? Are there any qualms yet in the intelligence community about going along with it?).

I genuinely don’t know what it means for our country. Or for the world, really. If Russia had invaded and set up a government to its liking, we’d all know to be appalled and frightened. The signal would be there that life is different. But this is nebulous, unrecognizable, hard to make sense of. Which makes me think it’s a better form of warfare. How do you resist the subtle influence? Where is the stand to be made?

Most alarmingly, were we so full of hubris when we were doing this to other countries that we just assumed it couldn’t be done to us? Did we not learn from what we were doing how to build defenses?


The Weirdness Continues!

The new(-ish) editor for the Oxford American emailed me and made nice! Y’all, I am off the Oxford American’s shit list! Eight years of nonsense, gone by the wayside. So, that’s nice, especially because I really like them and this year’s music issue–The Blues–sounds awesome.

Y’all remember when he wrote the Scene to make a snide comment about me? Lord, that was one of the weirdest things that has come my way.

Last night, The Last Waltz was on PBS and I watched the whole thing because I’m only human. And I have to tell you, I never put two-and-two together that the reason it has always felt to me like the movie stalls out after Muddy Waters is not just because the Muddy Waters segment is so fucking amazing, but also because I loathe Eric Clapton. After he plays, the movie picks right back up with being deeply enjoyable.

I think I might even be okay with it if they’d just flipped his segment and Emmylou’s.

Like I said on Twitter, I especially love the Van Morrison part because he looks like someone’s dad had a couple of beers and decided he could sing. But then he really can! But still, when he finishes up his song, he looks surprised and excited that he didn’t die out there. It is one of the moments where it feels like a real person is present.

Which is not to say that I don’t love that movie. And I love The Band, even The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, which should be terrible and embarrassing but somehow feels like the truth, but the combination of stoned/drunk everyone is and the awareness that they’re being filmed and that this is the end of things, there’s a performativeness to it. Which is fine, but it makes the moments of genuineness, like Van Morrison’s relief and delight, really stand out.

I keep trying to decide what it is about Muddy Waters’ performance I find so compelling, though. Because I watch that song and every time I feel like I’m seeing a truth about America I don’t know how to put into words. First, it’s the sense that he’s truly plugged into something transcendent and that you can see his connection to it grow as he performs. There’s not a good non-corny way of talking about it. But he’s in a groove and, as he realizes he’s settled into a familiar and powerful groove, you see a mix of confidence–he’s been here before, he knows what to do–and delightful surprise–“I got back here again, somehow? All right!” I just feel like performing, and performing masterfully, is doing something for and to him.

Also, this time, I was struck by how much eye contact he makes with the audience (or at least, how much eye contact he appears to be making with the audience. It’s hard to know how much he could see with the light in his eyes.) which isn’t really present in the other performers. They’re looking at the camera or at each other or out at the audience, but Morganfield looks like he’s looking at someone. I think part of this may just be his age and performance style–in other words, he came up playing at a time and in places where audience participation was a given so you had to learn how to work it and work with it–but it also goes to creating the sense that something is happening to and through him to us when he’s performing.

And I also can’t shake loose what it means for him to be standing on that stage, the 60s barely over, asking “Ain’t I a Man?” “I am a Man” on a sign in Memphis means, “See me as a citizen and a worker and someone with the inalienable rights our country was founded on. See me as your equal.” But Morganfield is up there singing about sex and erotic power and cocky assuredness and pleasure, at a time when we see black men’s sexuality as a threat for which they need to be constantly monitored and punished.

I definitely think one of the biggest threats posed by the blues and r&b is that there’s a long history of the importance of women’s pleasure and the joy men take in it. Once you stop to look for it, you’ll see it everywhere. The “black” version of a song includes women’s fun and the “white” version focuses on men’s pleasure or men’s suffering at the hands of women. So how could there not be anxiety on the part of white society, the fear that white women will gravitate to the men who enjoy their pleasure. You can even see how the Jezebel figures into this, white America trying to set up a dichotomy where black people are, yes, more passionate and sexual, but there’s no thought behind it–that’s just what they’re “for.” And good white people are the opposite of that.

So, you can see the claim Morganfield is making–“I know what I’m doing and I know you’ll like it”–and how it went against white views of black people.

It’s a less blatantly political claim and yet, just as important a one. So, there you have this guy, who makes this amazing music that most people who are in the movie love and have ripped off, who is risking and has risked more to perform  it than they have, and, for me, the contrast between what he’s doing and what Clapton is doing is just so great it kind of repulses me to have them back to back.