Archive for November, 2017

Two Pees In A Pod

Homo Sovieticus is basically the human being who evolved to survive under conditions of state terror. Any person faced with an ongoing traumatic situation develops certain survival skills, certain coping mechanisms—the personality fragments, and different parts of the person get activated depending on these rapidly shifting circumstances.

The hypothesis that I write about in the book, on the part of the sociologist who invented the term Homo Sovieticus, was that it was generationally bound. And once enough time had passed since state terror ended, since the 1950s, Homo Sovieticus was just going to die out, and then the Soviet Union was going to collapse. And the Soviet Union seemed to collapse right on schedule. But then it turned out that Homo Sovieticus didn’t go anywhere, because there’s such a thing as intergenerational trauma. And those coping skills—those ways of behaving and thinking—are actually passed on from generation to generation in society as a whole.

So society as a whole has cultural institutions that sort of kick into gear as soon as they start getting signals that they interpret as signals from a totalitarian past. And I think that’s what’s happened under Putin. Putin set out to build a mafia state. He didn’t set out to build a totalitarian regime. But he was building his mafia state on the ruins of a totalitarian regime. And so we end up with a mafia state and a totalitarian society.

After Putin is over—and he will be over eventually, everything ends—Russia will not maintain its current borders. I’m pretty sure of that. It’s an empire that is experiencing more and more tension, and it’s holding together as a result of a combination of both fear and greed. So Putin either instills fear in the regions, or buys them off. That system will break down the moment the Kremlin is thrown into disarray, which it will be when Putin is gone. Putin is definitely aware of the challenges to Russian territorial integrity.

He does feel permanently threatened—threatened personally, to the extent that he doesn’t actually perceive a boundary between himself and the state. He has continuously come in—and this is actually another weird parallel between him and Trump—he has continuously campaigned on the threat to the country. His message has consistently been, We’re on the brink of catastrophe and I’m the only person who can hold things together. And if I step away, everything will fall apart. I think that he sincerely believes that. He believes that even more sincerely because he has been watching Putin TV for 17 years. And so he says to the television what it should say, and then it says it, and then he believes it. Which is also not dissimilar from the media bubble that Trump is intent on creating—or has, to a large extent, created for himself.


Mrs. Mongo Vol. III Decorates Whiter House For Christmas

Blind And Dirty

And as we went up into the mountains we met a blind man.
Where are you going, my friends? he asked.
Into the regions of the mysteries, I answered.

—Kennneth Patchen, Sleepers Awake

One Thanksgiving I spent in the jail. I was then in the pharmaceutical trade. There were apparently laws governing this trade. And I had transgressed them.

Who knew?

In the jail I learned to eat everything on my plate. My parents had tried everything up to and including holding me down and forcibly shoving pudding past my lips, to get me to eat everything on my plate. Always I had resisted. But by day three in the jail, I was avidly eating whatever they gave me.

It’s not like I was underfed in there. It was more that I had no control over what or when or how I was fed. It just came to me, the food. On a plate. When the people with the keys decided to feed me. If they decided not to feed me, I would not eat. Because I was in a cage. I could not get out. I was wholly dependent. On the people with the keys. Who brought the daily bread.

Food had never been, and never has been since, quite like that. I can, to this day, thirty-some years on, picture every meal, slid to me through the bars, in that jail. Hard-boiled eggs! Formerly I had run from these like Richard Pryor with his body on fire. But in the jail, I ate them. And they were good! Especially the white parts. The yellow parts, they were kind of creepy, like they were trying to be a baby. But hey: you eat what they give you. When you’re at the mercy of the people with the keys. Who slid the food in to me. When they did so decree.

And on Thanksgiving, they tried to do their best. But they could not. There came turkey and mashed potatoes and yams and rolls and cranberry sauce. I had never before eaten a yam. I had always believed yams were creatures not actually of this earth, and had resolved not to eat extraterrestrial foodstuffs. Yams, eggplant, cauliflower; alien creatures of that sort. But, in the jail, I ate the yam. I ate everything. Whatever was on the plate, I ate it. Maybe if there had been something wholly beyond the pale—something, say, like mayonnaise—I might have eschewed. But I never eschewed. I chewed. They tried to give us Thanksgiving. The keepers of the keys. They were not bad sorts—so long as you are the sort who earns your crust in the business of keeping human beings in cages. But you just can’t have Thanksgiving. Or any other thanks, or giving, or even dirt-dull normal day, so long as you’re in a cage.

The basis of a jail is that you have no control. You are in a cage. And you stay there. People with keys decide if and when you can come out. Mostly you can’t come out unless someone out in what you soon, there in the cage, begin to think of as “the world,” comes up with what is basically a bribe to the court that is called “bail.” If outside people can’t come up with this bribe, you stay in the cage. If you stay in the cage, the key-people then decide when you eat, and what you eat. And then you eat it.


Mongo Proclaims Make America Great Again Thanksgiving

Mongo Gets His Sheet On, Chapter 58,299,237

While LaVar Ball was building his family brand by selling the fantasy of the incredible Ball boys, Donald Trump was implementing a core part of his strategy as president: wherever possible be seen in the position of putting black people in their place, especially in a way that stokes the culture wars. The idea is for Trump to act outraged by something a black person has done, have it be signal-boosted by Fox News and the far-right media, and then Trump can use his bully pulpit to put them in line, thus making him both the victim and the one to clean it up—quickly! Bonus points if putting ’em in line leads to liberals getting upset but the ultimate goal is to be seen standing up to a black person or group of black people on behalf of aggrieved white people. If he’s seen as the protector of white people, he’s winning—as Trump’s then-chief strategist, Steve Bannon, revealed in an August interview with The American Prospect: “The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day.”

See, Trump’s base wants to “Make America Great Again”—a return to prominence for good old-fashioned whiteness, which they saw as in decline until Trump. They want white victories in a world where they’ve been forced to suffer through Affirmative Action and a black president and black people agitating for justice right before their precious football games. When Trump is seen as standing up to unruly blacks, he’s giving them those cultural victories they crave.

It’s absolutely Trump’s job to advocate for American citizens abroad—that’s not going above and beyond. But then he pulled out his phone and made it all about himself, demanding the boys thank him for getting them out, that they kiss his ring. It was so classless, so patronizing, so belittling, and so much about him. And it was so insulting. There he was once again talking down to black citizens, outraged at their behavior, and vowing to put them in their place. He tried this with Obama, the Central Park 5, the cast of Hamilton, Colin Kaepernick and the NFL kneelers, Jemele Hill, and so on and so forth. Black people are the neck that Trump stands on to seem taller to white people. 


Big Darkness, Soon Come

So I guess Charles Manson will not be living in the condo after all. Because he is dead now. And generally the condo associations, they prohibit dead people, from living in the condos.

Mongo, he took the news hard. This morning he ordered the nation’s forks lowered to half-mast, in Manson’s honor.

I lived once, for a while, next door to the Manson family. I wrote about the experience a year or so ago, in another tube. Today, as the forks slide gently into that good night, I thought I might reprint the thing here. It goes on forever. So, be prepared.

So for a while I lived next door to the Manson family. This was after Chuckles, Tex, and the wimmins, they went into the prison. These Mansonoids—the neighbors—they were the remnants. Those left behind. True believers. Bitter clingers. Dead-enders.

The family’s pathetic patriarchy, it was still in place. With a little Manson mini-me, occupying the Chuckles position. In charge of the bloviating, and ordering the women to and fro. The women, they did all the work, both in and around the house, and out in the World, where they gathered in the coin mostly through waitressing. Before they went on shift, they would heavily apply the makeup, to obscure the X carved into their foreheads. Carved in honor, and imitation, of Chuckles.

I listened to the Manson mini-me’s spiel a couple times. It was the usual revised standard version: Chuckles, he was innocent, he had killed no one, ordered no one killed, he was misunderstood, a prophet, without honor, in his own country—he was all about Love. Yes, it was true, soon would commence a race war—Big Darkness, Soon Come—but Chuckles, he didn’t try to spark it or anything, he was just trying to get his people Clear.

Like Chuckles, like the MongoRoids, the Manson mini-me—well, brown people, they gave him the vapors. A black man lived across the street, and the Manson mini-me, he really didn’t like that. He especially didn’t like that the black man, he had a white wife. And that, together, they had produced several lovely children, in various fine shades of brown. Sometimes, when these children would come out to play in the street (nobody really drove on this street), the Manson mini-me, he would get weak, and have to go inside, and lie down.

More interesting to me than the Manson mini-me, were the various Manson family children. I especially vividly remember this one boy, who basically just wore these little shorts, all the time, rain or shine. He had a poochy little brown boy belly, and a big beaming smile. He had great memories of living out in the desert; he made it sound like a kids’ paradise. And, to him, it no doubt was. He found Sonoma County—which is where we then were—considerably less wild. Which it was. But he was okay with that. He seemed okay with pretty much everything. He never evinced any desire to, say, hang a pregnant woman, or stick a fork in a grocer’s stomach. He was just a kid. And, when the Manson mini-me was inside, lying down, having the vapors, this boy would play with the brown children from across the street.


Let Him Have His Friend

I suppose condominium associations must serve some useful purpose. Maybe. All I know, is that whenever I hear about them, it is because they are bonering.

Take these nutgongs in Clearwater Beach, Florida, on jihad because a human is cohabiting in his condo with a squirrel.

Ryan Boylan, a human, and Brutis, a squirrel, were blown around together during Hurricane Matthew, and have since become good friends. “Ever since then, I mean, oh my God, I can’t imagine not being around her,” Boylan says.

In April, Brutis was chased up a tree by some dog. Instead of responding to this Outrage by wondering “why are there dogs?”, an officious snitch ratted out Boylan to the condo association, damning him as a wanton scofflaw harboring an “exotic animal.” Now the condo hitlers seek to evict both Boylan and Brutis, forcing them to live like winos in a leaky cardboard box under the freeway.

Boylan could marry Charles Manson, or even Mongo, and bring him into the unit, no questions asked. But a squirrel in the house causes these condo bozos to besiege Boylan’s abode like it’s the Bastille.

“If it was a gerbil or something that your grandkid had hiding under the bed, I’m sure that would be fine, but a squirrel is a wild animal,” said one condo hitler.

So what, that a squirrel is a wild animal. Mongo is a wild animal, and he is the president!

Manson would stick forks in the neighbors, and Mongo grab them by their gonads and make them insane with his twitlers, yet they could live in the condos. Brutis presents no such Menace, but “is just like an inside cat,” Boylan says. “She just walks around and hides pecans and hazelnuts, which are her two favorites.”

“I am not sure how any animal that weighs less than two pounds can harm anyone,” says Boylan.

Mongo weighs more than four countries, and hourly harms every creature on the planet, and yet he can be in the condos, especially the ones he rents to Rooskis. Manson likes to draw on the walls with human blood, and he could be in a condo.


Sunday Morning, Going Down

Leave Them Be

Johnny Depp has been slipping into the abyss ever since sprouted whatever was that brain tumor that compelled him to leave longtime partner Vanessa Paradis.

Most recently he arrived at a premiere, for the thoroughly unnecessary remake of Murder on the Orient Express, too inebriated to walk without assistance.

The photos snapped of him there are nakedly revealing: he looks exactly how any person would feel, if, everywhere they went, total strangers were staring at them, screaming at them, taking pictures of them, reaching out for them.

Can you imagine living like that?

Normally such people have to put on masks, to make the ordeal seem not only Sane, but Normal.

But, because of the inebriates, Depp, in this case, could not. And so he let everyone see, exactly how scary it feels. If only. They would. See.

Whenever I have encountered a famous person, I have treated them like the meter reader. Because I don’t want to make them feel like that.

Rapist Can’t Spell

The rapist resident in the Whiter House, having recently returned from two weeks of molesting Asia, where they are now all in therapy, last night chortled in the twitlers:

The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps? And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women. Lesley Stahl tape?

Numberless are the sins of the Americans, that they are condemned to this Mongo, brain smooth as glass, incapable even of correctly spelling his own name.

Mongo has assiduously avoided commenting on the adventures of Roy Moore, the time-tunneling nincompoop from Alabama, who has throughout his life sexually pursued teens, pre-teens, toddlers, infants, and zygotes. He’s in a bind there, is Mongo: he doesn’t want to support Moore, and then have the video come out of Moore masturbating on the stroller, and he doesn’t want to condemn Moore, because then people will say, yes, well, but what about that you yourself, Mongo, are a violent serial sexual predator, a rapist, a man who bones his own daughter? Mongo is hoping Moore can on his own rally the faithful, through embarking on a journey across the state, on foot, bearing the granite Ten Commandments on his back, like Jesus with the cross ascending Golgotha, the yeehawing Roids everywhere running out to weep and throw themselves at his feet, a hideous, mind-numbing Spectacle that would have De Mille rolling over in ecstasy, out there in the boneyard.

“What we need is a diversion!” Mongo yowled into the earhole of The Nazi, recalling how, during the late, lamented presidential campaign of 2016, when came the tape documenting that Mongo’s preferred method of introducing himself to a woman is to “grab ’em by the pussy,” “move on her like a bitch,” his great good friends at Rooskileaks immediately excreted a shitpile of stolen emails referencing the Clinton II woman.


Sitting Around Writing Headlines For The Daily News Would Be A Fun Job

Columnist Forecasts One, Two, Many Mongos; Heroin Futures Soar

For many, if not most, Americans, the only pleasure to be had from Donald Trump’s presidency is to imagine his premature eviction from the White House. Impeachment, the 25th Amendment, pick your poison. My own scenario places Trump on Richard Nixon’s Watergate resignation timetable, fleeing next August to Mar-a-Lago as federal bloodhounds close in on him, his son, or his son-in-law (or all three) and his party’s Vichy regime on the Hill at last mutinies in the face of what could well be an apocalyptic Election Day in 2018.

But don’t celebrate just yet. Once Trump exits—whenever and however he goes—then what? It’s a continuing liberal blind spot to underestimate the resilience of Trumpism, which, if history is any guide, will easily survive both the crack-up of the GOP and the implosion of the Trump presidency. Whether Trump lasts another three weeks, another three years, or another seven years, our troubles won’t be over when he’s gone. They may well get worse.

What we should be worrying about instead is the remarkable staying power of the American voters who put these guys in office. They’re in for the long game no matter the fate of the current administration. Trumpism predates Trump and Pence by decades and is a more powerful, enduring, and scary force than either of them. The toxic anger that defines Trumpism—a rage at America’s cultural and economic elites in both political parties as well as at minorities and immigrants—will only grow darker and fiercer once its namesake leaves office, no matter how he does so. If Trump departs involuntarily, his followers will elevate him to martyrdom as the victim of a coup perpetrated by the scoundrels of “fake news” and “the swamp.” If Trump serves one or two full terms, his base will still be livid because he will not have bestowed the lavish gifts he promised, from a Rust Belt manufacturing comeback to a border wall. His voters won’t pin these failures on Trump but on the same swamp creatures they’ll hold responsible if he’s run out of office. They’re already blaming the cratering of “repeal and replace” and other broken Trump promises on what Bannon and his allies call “the McConnell-industrial complex.”


There’s An Echo In Here

The big news here is that at my friend’s work the bosses bought a bunch of Echoes from Bezos thinking they would be useful for the employees. But that didn’t work out. The employees then took them home, but got frustrated with them there, too, and so returned them to the office, where they were sitting forlorn in a box. I told her if I had one I would prod it into sentience by asking it questions like “what kind of fool am I?” and “how many roads must a man walk down, before they call him a man?” and then, once the light clicked on, I would use it to determine the answers to the Real questions, like “where is the nearest time tunnel?” and “how can Mongo be stopped?” My friend was tickled by that, and so she went to retrieve one from the office, to give to me, but apparently one of her coworkers had sold them all to buy drugs. So she ordered me a new one from Bezos and it arrived yesterday afternoon. It is all rainy here today, and so after I get done with a lawyer I am going to activate it, and see if I can get it to levitate by the end of the day.

Why, When I Encounter MongoRoid Apologists Wringing Hands About White “Economic Anxiety,” I Vomit

Everyone knows that wealth is unequally distributed. But the magnitude of the gap between white and black Americans is on a different scale. White households own, on average, seven times as much wealth as African-American households (and six times as much as Latino ones). The Forbes 100 billionaires are collectively as rich as all black Americans combined. At current growth rates, it would take black Americans two hundred and twenty-eight years to have as much wealth as white Americans have today.

James Suroweicki

Boy Roy

On Monday night, Ms. Abney said she recalled Mr. Moore, the embattled Republican Senate candidate, being a regular presence in the mid-1980s at the YMCA.

Matt Has A Sad

The progressive journalist Matt Taibbi recently published a lengthy apology/explanation in which he despaired that the public reappraisal of the work that established him (in particular, a book about Russia that he now says is satirical and includes accounts of pushing women under the table for blow jobs, of telling them to lighten up when they object to such high jinks) is coinciding with the publication of his book about the death of Eric Garner. It’s the kind of important book that he’s been working toward writing for 30 years, he laments. Reading this, I couldn’t help but think of all the women who’ve wanted to be writers for 30 years, who’ve yearned to make the world a better place by telling stories of injustice, but who haven’t had the opportunity in part because so much journalistic space is occupied by men like Taibbi: dudes who in some measure gained their professional footholds by objectifying women—and not just in big, bad Russia. Take the piece Taibbi wrote in 2009 about athletes’ wives. “The problem with the Smoking-Hot Skank as a permanent life choice,” he opined, “is that she eventually gets bored and starts calling up reporters to share her Important Political Opinions.” Taibbi may feel demoralized because the hilarious misogynistic stylings of his youth are now interfering with his grown-up career, but lots of women never even got their careers off the ground because the men in their fields saw them as Smoking-Hot Skanks whose claim to having a thought in their heads was no more than a punch line.

Rebecca Traister

Imaginary Beings

Yet, in the end, what’s most remarkable is not that our fantasies contain so much reality; it is that our reality contains so much fantasy. Most of us understand that our perceptual systems, far from passively reflecting the world around us, actively sort, select, distort, ignore, and alter a huge amount of information in order to construct reality as we experience it. But reality as we experience it also departs from actual reality in deeper ways. In actual reality, space and time are inseparable, and neither one behaves anything like the way we perceive it; nor does light, and nor does gravity, and, in all likelihood, nor does consciousness. Yet all the while we go on experiencing space like a map we can walk on, time like a conveyor belt we travel on, ourselves as brimming with agency, our lives as mattering urgently.

That world, the one we inhabit every day of our lives, is a yeti—a fantastical thing constructed out of bits and pieces of reality plus the magic wand of the mind. If we could hand it over to some superior being for consideration, it might not even rank very high on the scale of plausibility. Then again, plausibility itself might not rank very high on the scale of qualities we prize. Better, perhaps, to know that what we feel in our happiest moments has some truth to it: life is magical.

Kathryn Schulz

Mongo Nominates Secret Negro

I’ve been in airports and on airplanes all day, dealing with shitty cellphone signals and shittier airport Wi-Fi for the last few hours, so when I finally was able to get online just now after landing in Pittsburgh, I checked Twitter to see if anything particularly newsworthy had happened while I was offline.

First I saw the depressing news about Deshaun Watson, which may actually be a sign from God that this NFL season needs to just be canceled like House of Cards. And then I saw that someone called “Jerome Powell” was also trending, which made me assume that he must be the backup quarterback for the Houston Texans or something. Or that it was perhaps the title of a new mixtape from Drake. I even allowed myself to suspect that “Jerome Powell” was the new name Rachel Dolezal was going with after tiring of Nkechi Amare Diallo.

Of course, I was wrong. Jerome H. Powell is just the name of an über-rich white dude who’ll chair the Federal Reserve. Full disclosure: I don’t know what the Federal Reserve is or does, really. I know it has something to do with money and, I don’t know, reserving it or something, but that’s about the extent of my Federal Reserve knowledge. The Federal Reserve could be giving me a lap dance right now and I’d just wonder if it took tips with PayPal.

What I do know, however, are multiple niggas named Jerome. And most either go by “Rome” or “Romey,” and they all somehow look exactly as if their name should be Jerome. Jerome is the most self-aware name ever. I also know a gaggle of Powells. I even once crashed a Powell family picnic because my man was dating a woman from the Powell fam and she invited him to meet her family, and he brought me along as an excuse to leave early if the food was wack. (It wasn’t. I stayed and got a T-shirt.) But I know of no white dudes named Jerome and zero white people named Powell, which makes me believe that Trump conjured up this nigga with the same wizard that’s trying to cure Steve Bannon’s greyscale. I don’t believe you, White Jerome. You need more people.

Damon Young

Time Has Come Today

It has been Known since the 1956 publication of the true-life non-fiction tome The Door Into Summer that Leonardo Da Vinci was a time traveler.

Therein we learn that he was born in the 20th Century as Leonard Vincent, and was employed as a drafting and architecture instructor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. There he became a willing subject of a colleague’s classified time-travel program, which propelled him some 500 years into the past. This was a primitive time machine, one that could only thrust people, places, and things into the past, or future, but not bring them back. And so Leonard Vincent permanently settled into the 15th Century, as Leonardo Da Vinci.

The reason Da Vinci then spent so much time and effort designing machines and other devices that would not come to fruition for hundreds of years is because he was earnestly attempting to accelerate development of Real Things he had known and experienced when Leonard Vincent in the 20th Century.

All of this is now common knowledge.

What is less well known, I guess maybe because I haven’t told anyone until now, is that Da Vinci’s contemporary and competitor, Michelangelo Buonarroti, was/is also a time traveler.

I figured this would become blazingly obvious to everyone when the enemies of the people on Thursday published an article on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s show of 133 Michelangelo drawings, an article accompanied by a large reproduction of Michelangelo’s portrait of Australian thespian Cate Blanchett. (That portrait is also featured here, up above there.) I thought the humans would ask: how could the 15th Century Michelangelo, draw the 21st Century Cate Blanchett? And then arrive at the proper answer: because Michelangelo was/is a time traveler.

But, apparently the humans are not getting it. So, I am here to help.


Yes They’d Send Us Back

Look The Whole Thing In The Eye

You Say You Want A Revolution

November 9, 2016

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

There are, inevitably, miseries to come: an increasingly reactionary Supreme Court; an emboldened right-wing Congress; a President whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact, to say nothing of simple decency, has been repeatedly demonstrated. Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. The African-American Other. The Hispanic Other. The female Other. The Jewish and Muslim Other. The most hopeful way to look at this grievous event—and it’s a stretch—is that this election and the years to follow will be a test of the strength, or the fragility, of American institutions. It will be a test of our seriousness and resolve.

All along, Trump seemed like a twisted caricature of every rotten reflex of the radical right. That he has prevailed, that he has won this election, is a crushing blow to the spirit; it is an event that will likely cast the country into a period of economic, political, and social uncertainty that we cannot yet imagine. That the electorate has, in its plurality, decided to live in Trump’s world of vanity, hate, arrogance, untruth, and recklessness, his disdain for democratic norms, is a fact that will lead, inevitably, to all manner of national decline and suffering.


When I Worked

November 2017