How low can you go?

Going for their base? Just plain giving up? Saying “fuck it” and descending further into school yard bullying? You decide…


I get email updates from many organizations, left and right leaning, the GOP is by far the most laughable in its appeal to the baser instincts of voters and this is only one (lame) example.


So instead of pulling apart their positions or going after a gaffe, this is the real question. Who is the worst. Well Mr Priebus, that is you sir, that is you.

The Truth is Ugly (The Magical Negro and other Gross Generalizations)

People are complicated.

There is nothing that turns me off a book, be it fiction or not, like a one-dimensional subject. As I stated in the last post, I’m more a fan of the latter (non-fiction), and I think this is part of the reason. People are messy, complex, ugly and vicious; they are also beautiful, inspiring and sacrificial. They are boastful about their better qualities, rendering them inert at best or at worst negating the good they do with charmless hyperbole about how great they are for doing all that good.

I love reading about flawed assholes with hearts of gold or sacrificial fascists. People are not all bad or all good, and some people who do good are more bad than good, whatever bad and good truly mean. In my reading experience identifying with a good guy’s major flaws is an identification of ourselves in the characters. We know we sometimes suck, hard. We also know that most times we might struggle to try to do a balance of good things over evil deeds. Sometimes we do evil by trying to do the right thing. Some evil people do tremendous good or have good qualities that are overshadowed by their heinous deeds. Nothing is black and white.

Oh and by the way I AM NOT negating the existence of truly evil people. None of that Hitler was an animal lover bullshit justification. Knowing that fact, however, makes him less a caricature and in my opinion even that much more frightening and evil.

That’s not to say that there are people whose good outweighs the bad; I still maintain the naive belief that the preceding describes the majority of us. That is also not to say that there are some people that we love to hate for good reason. The truth, however, is often gray and ugly. It is speckled with blood and shit and smeared with a thin layer of disease, but that is really how life is.

One of the difficulties I’ve always had with reading and writing fiction is that it sometimes feels that writers (myself included) intentionally construct their characters from the outside in. What I mean by that is instead of developing a person and then creating space for them to inhabit, they do the reverse, focusing on the space first and then drawing the characters secondary to that. Not to say that there is only one way to write, but the usual tact for writing cardboard cutter characters starts with a stimulus and shows a reaction.

Stephen King’s Black characters always seemed to suffer from this. King, apparently not knowing, or believing “they” are like “us” is one thing, but it is easily remedied at least in part by talking to some of “them” if only in his own head.  Instead, there always seemed to be a noble savage or “magical negro” aspect to his non-white characters that disturbed me, and I’m not the only one. Much of this, I believe, could have been solved by writing these characters internally first, as people, not people of color. Working his way out instead of in and suffering on the side of flaws instead of noble caricature. Some of his female characters fail to ring true for the same reason.

“Character driven” is often one of those shortcut terms in film and literature that means low or no concept. No big idea, no political agenda, no overarching theme about who we are. It is a signal from the reviewer to the reader that you’ll encounter a series of sullen navel-gazers who’s whiny antics you’ll find tedious yet intriguing. It’s for the coffeehouse crowd, the liberal intellectual whiny white suburbanites who wish to be taken out of their humdrum lives of privileged if only for a second. The New York Review of Books types who’ve not only read Proust but “The Joy of Reading Proust” as well. Shortcut.

In my mind, if your story isn’t driven by its characters it isn’t worth my time reading.

I don’t read to escape; I read to engage. I watch superhero films to escape; I play video games to escape. Reading takes time and concentration, it isn’t as passive as movie watching and although gaming is more engaging, reading for me takes much more brainpower. While the pixels are drawn for you in gaming, every pixel, every scene, every sight and sound is created, rendered on the fly by your brain. Part of the reason I read so little is that it takes so much effort and concentration. If I’m committing that amount of time and effort to read words and draw from them mental pictures and emotions and trauma and fear and, and, and…it had better be fucking worth it.

My ex used to call books she read through quickly, potato chips. I’m not a fan of those either. If I’m going to get fat it better be on a meal I love and savor, not mindlessly shoveling the same tasting, same salted, sameness into my mouth unconsciously. I want to think about every bite, enjoy every flavor and texture.

Part of the reason it takes me so long to post is that this takes so much energy to create, and even more to filter out and edit the tangents. In fiction it takes a lot of forethought to create a character I want to live with in my head for a long, long, time. It takes a herculean effort to draw that character fully, to be able to write them as if they were real to me and not to disrespect them by ignoring their worse (or better) qualities.

I guess it’s also the same reason I have very few good friends. I don’t have the mental energy or commitment of concentration to invest in people I will have only a tertiary non-relationship with. If I invest emotion in you you’d better be interesting or I won’t sustain the acquaintance long enough to move to calling you a friend. You’d better not be all sunshine and seagulls or conversely covered in a dark cloud of doom 24/7. Either drives me up a fucking tree and I wouldn’t want to read about you either. The bandwidth for bullshit only gets narrower with age.

Every black character does not have to be noble, as a matter of fact giving them some asshole qualities would do them well. Every hero with a dark past doesn’t have to be fully repentant. It makes them more dangerous and real if you give them some un-heroic qualities, some major unresolved flaws that they aren’t particularly tortured by. Every racist doesn’t have to be an overbearing boss with an agenda against his Mexican employees; he can just be a guy, who happens to be a bigot. Every damn villain does not have to be so clear-cut evil. People, even types, are much more interesting when they are real, ugly, complicated.

At least to me.

7 Books

I’m by no means a voracious reader, on average I read about two books a year, and they tend to be nonfiction. As my previous posts betray, I’m more a current events kind of guy, a news hound or cultural history buff depending on the day.

As I’ve been contemplating writing more myself I’ve been trying to read more as well and the books I’m reading and have read are influencing me in some not so subtle ways, especially the fiction.

When I was in college the first time, I studied English lit and had the distinct pleasure of being instructed by two very different people. Although they possessed two distinctly different styles, their voices still resonate in my head and greatly inform both my writing and my choice in reading.

Leonard Kent, a tall, gangly sweetheart of a man, introduced me to Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn. The density of Russian prose resonated with me as I was awash in verbiage in my own writing and simultaneously tumbling head over heels into its murky depths. The Russians we read always spoke to me not only about Russia but also the cold, stiff society that was New England’s colonial beginnings. In some ways New England is still this.  As different as a Black kid from a housing project could be from a young bleak Russian, I still found kinship in the tales and the characters.

Rodion Raskolnikov of Crime and Punishment, a conflicted ex-student trapped between kindness and killing was somewhere between the sullen resignation of Bartleby and my post adolescent angst. I identified frighteningly with both his kindness and his cruelty. In retrospect, I see how that bleak Russian ennui is more relevant to us in the US now than it was even to Russia in the mid 20th century. He was me, as I saw myself when I was still mired deeply in myself.

Mark Johnston, my would-be mentor, and one of the many relationships I walked away from that I regret. (He would die as I spent my exile years in Florida) His influence affects me similarly, yet differently. Think Donald Sutherland’s suave, pot-smoking Prof from Animal House. Not quite that flaky (or naked) but from what I knew of him, at least a shade similar. This filter-less chain-smoking intellectual charmer was the only white man who could say certain words without raising the hairs on my back.

Even the most well-intentioned teachers always came across like they were getting away with something when reading the many “niggers” sprinkled throughout American literature. Sometimes it was that they were so uncomfortable through the inevitable prefacing that it made the eventual unveiling of the word so much worse.

Mark was neither of these. I learned to appreciate contributions we made to this country through his prodding. When I nearly crashed and burned his class behind me because of a rather intense relationship, he was both comforting and steady in his assertion that I finish what I started in his class. I eventually did.

Mark showed me Wright and Truth as well as Baldwin, which made the hardest impact. I still don’t get poetry, but Angelou and Hughes still resonate.

In another class he helped me deepen and appreciate my relationship to the work of probably my favorite writer Kurt Vonnegut.

So books…

7 of the most influential works of fiction on me, my writing and my thought process.

In descending order because there is no drum roll when you can scroll down.

  1. Cats Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
  2. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirsig
  3. Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin
  4. The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
  5. For Us, The Living – Robert A. Heinlein
  6. Childhoods End – Arthur C. Clarke
  7. Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

Next…. What each means to me…

Shifting sands

There are those times when you have nothing to say, no words of wisdom or outrage, no bits of humor or pithy banter, nothing. And then there are the times when you simply have too much, too much anger, outrage, venom, too much frustration at watching a world you believe should operate within some logically defined structure, fall to every-man-for-himself chaos.

And sometimes the latter causes the former, virtually all the connections in your brain sing, or shout out at once, joining together in a discordant cacophony. The singing lasting just long enough to hint at the slightest hope of solace, a hint of hope in an otherwise insane ricochet of important information vying with the small stuff for space in the already crowded channel of conduit funneled into your brain.

Yeah, I’m definitely experiencing the latter.

Call it sensory overload, too much information, compassion fatigue, whatever you like, but its making writing about all the various sins and WTF moments of the world difficult at best.

A temporary shift in focus often does us all good, so this is what I’ll be attempting to do.

I’m beginning to think that just the act of being outraged or as one of my favorite writer/directors said through one of my favorite actors as one of my favorite comic book heroes , “always angry,” is both soul and nerve deadening. It cripples your creativity to always be in a state of agitation, actually, let me correct myself here, it cripples MY creativity, stifles MY ability to put words together in new and interesting ways to convey meaning.

Everything has been done, written, said, there are only a certain number of ways, with our current technology, given our limited perception and ability to observe with our limited senses, to say them, only a limited number of plots and structures that make sense to us. I scanned the interwebs for a quote I remember hearing about saying everything about politics, the human condition, life, through art, couldn’t find it, so if anyone out there has any idea what the hell I’m talking about feel free to chime in. But that’s about the size o it. I can’t rave or rant anymore, I’m too tired to rage, am losing the words to say the same thing over and over again, but what I can do is write creatively.

I’ll be severing the tie to Facebook after this post as well. It really hasn’t brought me anything, no added traffic to the site and no one commenting so that feedback that every writer craves has been non-existent for me. It’s not a hard thing to do to maintain a Facebook page but it is annoying to see all the likes and no corresponding conversation.

When something pisses me off I’ll surely be commenting on it, I can’t help myself, but the plan for this site was to be a regular depository of bile, and I can’t really bring up anymore.

So to those of you who have been paying attention, thank you. It’s partially for you that I’ve been doing this but I haven’t been a very considerate lover in that respect, I’ve neglected to give you my all, so….

I am working on an e-book, that’s my plan for the summer, I’ll be sharing that here as soon as I get some work done on it.

Stupid Meme of the Week


There is such a preponderance of stupid here it boggles the mind.

How, really, do you tell the Vet homeless from the “illegal alien” homeless? Ah yeah, it must surely be the signs. Stupid fucking me.

Oh and I thought you didn’t have to be homeless in the first place. Is the US of A not the single best place on earth NOT to have to be homeless because our industrious nature all but forbade it but for the laziest of us? Which, if that is in fact true, the “illegal aliens” are anything but lazy, and this proves it.

That you never see an illegal alien homeless person, (which even giving freely the fact that whomever came up with this cockamamie Meme seems to have amazing precognitive and mind reading ability to be able to tell EXACTLY who is legal and who isn’t on SIGHT)  by “Stop Hilary” logic, would be exactly the type of person we would want in this country, industrious, hardworking, largely Christian (really Christian given the amount of care and aid they routinely provide each other) not sucking off the government teat…etc….



I’m honestly not on the Clinton train myself but talk about batshit false equivalency.

Interesting Times…

May you live in interesting times?


It isn’t a Chinese curse, it may not exactly be a curse at all and they are all interesting depending on where or how you live.


It is amazing the amount of myth that we take as history.


All history is in some way shape or form, myth. Taking a very rough estimate of 90% of all history being lost into account, and this is a VERY generous estimate, so much of what has happened is left unrecorded as to make what is recorded insignificant without the weight its been assigned. Supporting information we never knew changes both the events and the context of history, or at least its absence stripping some of the “color” from it. We are honestly in the dark about the majority of what we’ve experienced as a species.  Human history being, of course written (and edited) mainly by those who have vested interests in supporting certain “facts” over others, is more than suspect, by its lack of completeness and context it really isn’t history at all.


Everything is a lie, at least to a certain extent. Everyone has at least one dearly held “fact” that dries up and shrivels when exposed to light. Some are just errors of convenience and others have simply been adopted and accepted over time.


May you live in interesting times, ironically, is one of them.


It is probably just a truism someone spoke one day, arranging words artistically so that their meaning is intentionally vague but meaningful isn’t hard for someone who knows what words mean, but something being said by an everyman apparently removes some of its weight.


A Chinese curse? A curse at all? The first is almost certainly no. the second I choose to believe can be either a curse or a blessing depending on how close you are to the fighting.


These are “interesting times” in the United States. They are arguably MORE “interesting” in Iraq, Israel, Syria, on the Gaza Strip or in the West Bank. They are “interesting” in places we have never heard of with no free press and internet, let alone the ability to read either. How interesting is it actually to focus 100% of your energy on survival and not 10% on bitching about taxes or supplying (or receiving) free healthcare. How “interesting” is it to run from the warlords or have no rights? How much more interesting would it be if we had no right to free expression nor the right to vote in even our Trojan horse elections? How much more interesting will it be after we are shaken awake with the realization that it could get really bad, really fast. Not “The Walking Dead” bad, but much, MUCH worse.


This is a public service message. To all of you, including myself, who through accident of birth lucked into living in the modern, industrialized world. When we swear at that asshole following us too close or complain about how the barista couldn’t sling our late fast enough. Remember there are more interesting places to be. When we bitch about not being able to carry a semi-auto, or that we have to wait in line sometimes for shit that its better than NEEDING to carry one or there being no shit to wait in line for.


Fuck you, shut the fuck up and be happy your fat privileged ass has access to caffeinated beverages and the time not running from some really oppressive asshole to drink them.  Fuck your “rights” and your belief in the innate superiority of the real housewives.


Slow the fuck down and kiss whatever “God you believe in’s” ass that you are lucky enough to live largely without worry and realize there are places in the world, actually MOST of the world, that suck so much more than this one does.


Don’t be such an asshole. Myself included.


Oh, and do something for someone else, preferably someone who you do not know, and do it because you have a house and a bath, maybe even a car and they don’t have shit.


And again, don’t be such an asshole.

Coming (back) Soon

With all that’s been going on in the world I needed a short breather from the blog and since the world hasn’t suddenly gotten any nicer, kinder or safer I guess it still requires observation…

The Waiting #HoodsOff #Ferguson

“We have to infiltrate! Infiltrate the military! Infiltrate your local governments! Infiltrate your school board! Infiltrate law enforcement!”

Tom Metzger  Former KKK and current leader in WAR (White Aryan Resistance) in a 2004 speech to skinheads at a hate-rock festival

So now we wait….

There is a palpable sense of dread and danger surrounding my thoughts on the Grand Jury decision on whether to indict Darren Wilson, the Ferguson Police Officer who shot Michael Brown.

There will surely be at least one incident of violence regardless of the outcome, but the question is, who will fire the first proverbial (or actual) shot.

How the events after will proceed, who will be involved, and who will let their passion and frustration get in the way of decency and common sense is becoming cloudier by the second. After the KKK decreed on social media that there were gearing up for some kind of altercation (ironically, and later proven cynically, citing “good people” in their defense, making careful mention of their black friends) the hactivist group Anonymous pulled off their greatest action yet and exposed many Klan members faces and posts to the world. Apparently they (and most 20 year olds on Facebook) haven’t quite figured out that not setting your privacy settings leaves you open to all kinds of mischief.

What has followed has been an uncovering of hatred and a subculture of violence just waiting to erupt.

According to the AP gun sales in counties surrounding Ferguson have skyrocketed, albeit mostly because of some overblown sense of racist paranoia, but even racist paranoia is real in some respects. Frank Ancona the imperial wizard of the Southern Missouri Klan has been outright antagonizing both Anonymous and the people of Ferguson, especially since the initial Klan flyer was published on twitter.  So anon members have been antagonizing back.

Since then, they have hacked a Klan account, getting access to many of the members and tracking down their information including businesses they own, their cell numbers and addresses etc and posting them, basically outing them for the entire world to see. One insurance agency a few counter-protesters (including Acona) and possibly a cop or two later and the flurry of outings have slowed, but they are still coming.

Everyone expects there to be some kind of uprising after the announcement, whether pro indictment or not. The Klan, unmasked by #anonymous in a shrewd and targeted response to a threat of violence have been shown to be stuck in the thug hole they have been trying desperately to re-brand themselves out from, and the thick stench of what is a deeper American issue will all play out in the next week or so.

It’s really hard not to see how all of this is interconnected, flowing off from the river of poison race hatred that came to a head in lead up to 2008, when everyone making mention of the birth certificate also tried to claim they hadn’t any racist proclivities, or back in 1988, when the Lee Atwater approved Willie Horton ad tapped the same vein. Or back in pre-civil war America where images of the black savage were legion… Given the conditions I’ve written many times before about, economic stagnation or downturn, the continued reserved place in many White American minds of “their place” as an exalted “race” regardless of their own paltry understanding of what that means, and the continued frustration of both Blacks and whites over continued economic insecurity are bubbling to the surface in a frankly terrifying way.

There is no doubt in my mind that the prevalence of coded signaling from many Whites (Gadsden flags, revived fear of losing “rights” etc.)  signals at least an association and sympathetic  leaning toward the more virulent racism of the Klan and the “White Patriot” movement. I would go further and say that most whites have some feeling of superiority inherently bestowed upon them by the culture and/or direct experience with others with racist beliefs. I realize this is like saying that growing up in a gang infested neighborhood steers you in the direction of becoming a gang member yourself and yes, that is part of it. In both cases though, one makes a choice, you can choose to follow the path of least resistance and become a thug or you can rise above and seek something else.

This culture has been feeding us all a message of white superiority and black inferiority since its inception, hell the country was literally built on the principal of superior/inferior. It became inherently racist early and the various messaging reinforced it even as in other areas we’ve moved on.

The question now is, will it continue?

Whatever happens in Ferguson it will be culturally trans mutative, if there is a dismissal of charges there will be an explosion, I think the lead up, the media coverage and the racially charged narrative will go a long way to inflame passions already in a state of immolation. If there is an indictment the township may still not escape violence, from protesters who have had their worst fears apparently realized, that one of their own may have been targeted and slain because he is Black or from racist agitators looking as this to be the beginning of the “Race War” they have so long wanted.

A Tale of Two Realities Election Day Edition #thisishowdemocracydies #Midterms

Political drumbeats have a habit of fading out at the end of the song. Especially when the conventional wisdom is eroded by factual information, politicians HATE factual information.

Take the recent Job numbers VS. the President’s approval rating. Part of that reality is the fact that there is still a huge amount of wage stagnation despite the economy’s on-paper bounce back, another part is, simple and succinctly put, propaganda. We’ve been told for so long that the President and his Democratic allies are job killers, they want some sort of Socialist utopia where no one has to work and everyone sustains themselves off the government. All this despite the fact that Democrats have pushed since Clinton, to roll back welfare, hold the line on the minimum wage and sheer away waste and spending in programs like Head Start and Medicare.

Republicans have made the Obama administration more about personality than fact; the latest job numbers prove that in multiple ways.  The economy being the main issue for both the 2008 and 2012 elections and he doing everything within his power to try to correct it, including a truncated stimulus that, if it was fully realized would have made an even greater and sooner impact.

Yet, somehow, the economy has not been the talking point of either side in this midterm cycle. It makes sense that this would be so on the republican side, as the dual cobras of “I told you so” and having to explain how a rise in GDP of 3% hasn’t shown up in Joe the plumbers pocket yet. They could correctly say that the vast majority of the new jobs were comprised of low wage part time employment, but then they would have to explain why, and that could get messy. Politicians in general and republicans in particular are really bad at lying about specifics, if you can get them to talk about specifics in the first place. The Democratic silence on this is even more astounding, unexplainable and borderline insane. But to hitch your wagon to the increase in jobs, the re-expansion of the economy and the “saving” of America would be admitting the Colored guy in charge had something to do with it.

Since the depth of the financial crisis and the mathematical end of the recession in June of 2009, the news has been long-term good. Although somehow we have all managed to fall into the stock market idea that short term gains are more predictive than looking at the big picture, the general economic prognosis is that we are recovering, and that recovery is accelerating. Republicans hate this. They have all but fallen silent on the latest job numbers, have ignored the test kitchen failure in Kansas and instead, have decided to run on, well, Kansas.

Take Tom Foley in Connecticut, in a way it is very much a rehash of the 2012 Presidential election, more than most, with Malloy, whose approval among CT residents of all parties is less than stellar, but among Republican voters is dismal, polling neck in neck to Foley. That Foley, who has a long record of screwing workers and flouting federal income taxes, is doing so well in a progressive labor state like Connecticut speaks volumes about both potential who is voting and how stupid they are.  Have we not already gone down this road with Brownback? Is that not turning into a dismal failure? Why is this guy even an issue in a dark blue state like CT?

Yet Republicans in a muddled and misinformed message have relied more on the country’s fear and Racism than any bit of factual truth. They wish us to feel that raising taxes on high earners is somehow treasonous and smacks of socialism, if that is so then the US was a Socialist country during the war years. We raised the money to pay for our wars by increasing the marginal tax rate to 75% at its highest.

During the Bush Administration tax rates fell, consistently as we fought one of the most expensive “wars” in history. Much of the damage done is still being kept under wraps, no caskets were shown as dead men and women were kept away from the media sites for fear of inciting anti-war sentiments, and the massive protests that were occurring with regularity were not covered by the corporate press for fear of alienating advertisers, many of which had ties to either members of congress or the administration itself, as well as a clamping down on civil liberties such as the right to assemble that was also largely ignored.  And with that erasure ramped up during Obama’s first turn and nearly completed today, with the erasure of what a desperate state the truly incompetent Bush left us in, and the painstaking steps the Obama administration had to take to dig us out nearly closed, here we stand.

Fear, ignorance, hate, and money.

4 Billion, with a B. Largely now coming from who knows where, tying other Democrats to a president who they have always regarded as a liar and a fraud before a policy was ever written. Money that no one can trace against a President they say covered up information about everything from his birth certificate to Benghazi.  It is one of many ironies that plague our process.

Yes I believe that Election day should be a national holiday and that voting should be compulsory. I believe that if you make people show ID to vote you should make every effort to get everyone in your state an ID who is eligible, or as part of the registration process you should get a state issued voter ID card, no more of this unfunded enforcement mandate bullshit.

Even better, let the bastards who have been crying about voter fraud pay for IDs instead of spending 4 BILLION on ads ever election cycle decrying it.

Yes, this is how democracy dies.

What no one is talking about.

There are three issues surrounding tomorrow’s mid-terms that everyone is missing:

GOP redistricting: Republicans have been very smart (sometimes I think they collectively have a ton of rocks for brains on topics ranging from Religion, Foreign Policy, Guns and money, but you can never say that they are strategically stupid, like the Cylons, they have a plan) about winning Gubernatorial races just in time for congressional redistricting. Only 5 states have independent supposedly nonpartisan commissions for this purpose, the majority have either complete legislative control or partial control by the legislature. The GOP swept to victory in a few key races in 2008 (New Jersey and Virginia being the most notable), and more in 2012, 6 more to be exact. In all of those states the legislature has a strong, or the only hand in deciding redistricting. Guess who has done the majority of redistricting since 2006?

GOP voter suppression: Even if the GOP never physically kept a single person from voting, they have done more to dissuade the key Democratic voters, Minorities and young people from voting in this election. Let’s face it, it really doesn’t take much to keep minority voters from the polls, especially in a midterm election year, as a matter of fact Democrats of all stripes are less likely to vote in midterm elections. But add the constant assault of voter id laws and the insane amount of misunderstanding as to what the rules are, especially among poll workers, and those numbers are driven even lower.

Money, money, money: as I noted in the last post, the spending is out of control. The unrestrained, unaccountable numbers of millions being spent on some of these races just boggles the mind. The scare tactics and outright lies, unchecked by a cowardly corporate media and the sheer ubiquity of negativity both turn off and infuriate voters. When you have only the angry voting, you get only the ideologically unhinged elected.

As another blogger so eloquently put it; “this is how Democracy dies.”


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