Watching the decline...

Tag Archives: Irony

But Unfortunately He Is, and By Your Silence You Are….

“Based on recent behavior and previous statements, the North Carolina Republican Party is unable and unwilling to support the Republican nominated candidate for North Carolina House District 48″ – GOP chairman Robin Hayes .

The Republican party has been putting up with the precursor to this for YEARS therefore encouraging and supporting it. Chickens….meet roost.

A Message

Alien abduction stories have diminished in the last few years…

I wonder why.

We don’t give a fuck about each other anymore.

We don’t give a fuck that we are demonizing kids, both our own and those just yearning to breathe free.  We’ve created a MS13 factory by separating kids from parents in the vain effort to use them as playing cards in our xenophobic deck.
We’ve hardened our hearts to each other in our webspheres and countless subreddits.
We’ve said the we want to protect life, but only if its politically expedient.
We turn our backs on each other because of our races, languages and the places we live. If we knew, truly, where we’ve been, the politicized history of denial of entry to those we feel are degenerate or lesser. From the Irish, to the Jew, to the Arab and the Mexican, someone always has to be less than us. And don’t even start me on “forced immigration.”
If there really is intelligent life out there and somehow they have condescended to look at us as microbes in a petri dish, they are surely appalled at our lack of care for each other and the big brownish ball we live on. We’d better be happy they can’t see us or haven’t yet found us or we’d surely be wiped off the face of the universe with extraterrestrial Lysol. Good news is that we probably won’t feel a thing.

We’ve become the absolute worst measure of humanity, our better angels have been slain by the devils we’ve nurtured through ignorance and greed.

If we continue down this path, we deserve whatever we get.

I’ve seen this coming, its only going to get worse.

It’s About Culture 2.5: Incels

I’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been much grumbling from the right about terrorism after the Toronto van incident on April 23rd. (even I find myself minimizing this act as anything other than one of terrorism). Attack just sounds too calculated and as most of these types of incidents are, the only planning this one seemed to involve was renting a truck and targeting its random victims.  There is an ideology behind it, after all nowadays every asshole crackpot with a chip on his shoulder has some stupid manifesto to shape their out-sized rage.

This guy was one.

As usual the mainstream press is too late to the cultural changes that have been pointing right at this type of insane baby rage. Some guy who never learned proper coping skills, gets turned down by women he thought he had the right to and all of a sudden he’s the member of some made up protected class. In the case of Alek Minassian couldn’t even handle hanging out with other dudes (He left the Canadian army after a short stint for the reason that “(he) wasn’t adapting to military life, including in matters of dress, deportment and group interactions in a military setting.”

They call themselves “incels” or involuntary celibates, an outgrowth of the Pickup Artist(PUA)/Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW)/Men’s Rights Activists (MRA) with a side of alt-right victim-hood, they are the disgruntled kid still living in mommy’s basement all growed up.

These movements, mostly the result of demographic and cultural shifts have cross pollinated, colluded and combined in some terrifyingly interesting ways. They take an already fragile combination of identity, masculinity and frail senses of self to create a toxic soup of discontent.

I’ve watched from the sidelines as the first wave of fragile male PUAS made their marks, as self published gurus (many of which had interesting things to say about masculinity and independence, but as our culture usually goes, take them too far and in the wrong direction) make side hustles out of e-books fashioned from kooky mysticism and 90’s self help, podcasting and blogging their way to a form of stardom that could only come about in the digital age.

Many of these were barely distinguishable in language to many of the books the authors admired, self-talky and simple, the “mindset revolution” was strong with them. Initially the few who were really vile, like Roosh V’s. “Bang” were relegated to a space that seemed not too far removed from the pick up artistry of yore, the main difference being that they never tried to hide their disdain for the female sex. They met in a weird place that brought together Libertarian and Libertine with a dash of Bob Guccione. They are bitter, young, economically affected, generally White or Whiteish, and either they believe or in actuality, that their future is bleak (comparatively) and they are a new class of lone wolf terrorists.

It’s a weird time. The full transformation from self-styled pick up artists, lunkheads, meme-lords and internet Nazis into the nebulous “alt-right” is living proof of a kind of social Darwinism. Seeing how this movement evolved proved to me that the biggest threat to liberal democracy is the misuse of technology. The wildfire spread of bad, harmful, malignant ideas from a combination of attention whores, grieving man babies, workout gurus and the sons of angry white males was amazingly fast, scorching the whole of the earth. It was the textbook example of an organic social movement fueled by many of the above players and fanned by people looking to profit from the rise of right-wing sentiments. Its hard sometimes to tell who is who.

These years will be fodder for future case studies on how trends evolve. So many different influences have crafted the current tide of disaffection across the cultural spectrum it’s really hard to link our current cultural state to a single one factor.

I’m sure, even now there ate authoritarian streaks in other communities that we have yet to activate. Sleeper cells of toxic culture that are hiding under the cultural radar waiting to explode. As a person of color I especially worry about a resurgence of more militant “Black (or Brown) Power” movements rising up to meet the AWM factions activated by the latest cultural trends.

I suspect that there are a fair number of educated, disaffected young Black men who also are involuntarily celibate and rage filled. Personally, I think this whole country needs some quality time on the couch.

Tyranny Comes on Little Cat Feet

  • with apologies to Carl Sandburg

It’s becoming more and more apparent that we are losing our democracy of voices and opinions. Just as we seemed on the verge of becoming the ideal that we’d believed ourselves to be as Americans, that model was obliterated.  At this point it doesn’t matter who shot first, or why, but the decreasing number of us in the no mans land between the constructions of “the left” and “the right” regardless of how we lean, is troubling for democracy, and for the very survival of our country.

Tyranny doesn’t only come from the right.

I make no bones about how I lean; I make no apologies for my liberal cultural background and my progressive politics. I also do not wear that label as a bulwark against letting opposing ideas sink in, mixing with my own and changing me. This approach is my definition of what being Liberal means, being open to ideas, allowing them to mesh with my experience and trying to understand what lessons shape others. It’s a word that’s been twisted to mean inflexible and turned into an epithet, so much so that I go back and forth on whether I should call myself one anymore.

My definition of self is mine and mine alone. I know what the word means to me and also know that some of the other words I call myself are only shorthand for the complexities that I keep in those boxes.  Like anything, I think we get so wrapped up in the labels and the shorthand that we forget what the words mean.

It’s not always easy to hear through our filters, its never comfortable to be challenged, especially when that challenge comes from someone who you’ve already built a persona around.  But those problems are often the most powerful. Coming to grips with the fact that someone who comes from an entirely different background or had a very different experience in their life than you’ve had in yours yet you are still able to connect in a meaningful way is one of the most gratifying experiences you can have.

That is part of the reason it makes me so angry to see people put up walls, especially those who label themselves with monikers that define them as just the opposite. I spoke here about the Yale nonsense that happened a few years ago, and there have been numerous other newsworthy incidents, mainly on college campuses, that reflect an unwillingness to be self-reflective in the face of opposing viewpoints. The Milo incident at Berkeley or the Charles Murray incident at Middlebury college in Vermont are two big ones that spring to mind.  While I find Yiannopoulous a repugnant, showboating, self-promoting buffoon, I also found it ironic that the protestors, who became violently agitated over this clown, didn’t understand the legacy they were trampling on at that institution. Murray is also a cultural accelerant, but a more thoughtful and one who has been maligned in a way that makes me sad for the state of academic and cultural discourse.

When I look across the Millennial landscape and see the hairs-on-end sensitivity, the jumping at shadows and accusations, real or imagined, of triggered talk by folks who just haven’t caught up yet, it terrifies me to think that they will be the ones making some of the harder decisions about what speech will be allowed and what will be censored by shout down.

I’m so incredibly sick and tired of people being so offended by what they think they hear that they’ve become the monsters they, without a shred of irony, finger-point to daily. Sick of the fucking crybaby, triggered nonsense, sick of the proliferation of safe spaces as places NOT to be confronted on your bullshit instead of real and genuine refuges from psyche destroying trauma.  Let me make this clear; there is shit in this world that is so horrible, so psychically damaging, so mind-fuckingly severe, that it requires years of intense therapy to get over. Let me also make this clear, about 10% or which happens here in the United States, and about 5% is genuinely worth isolation from.

At this point a clear distinction has to be made, we all experience trauma, and unless we talk about it respectfully we never really know how difficult another’s existence is. BUT what is also true is that we’ve created a culture that condenses each of our experiences into little nuggets that cling like leeches to the identities we create for ourselves. In no way do I discount anyone’s stories of abuse, be they sexual, psychological or emotional, but when we are so deeply wrapped up in our traumas that we can’t see what someone else has gone through, see our universal personhood, we put another nail in the coffin of this grand experiment.

When we don’t dispense with our hegemonies of our experiences over other’s, when we refuse to listen, to hear what others bring to the table however flawed it might be, we lose a bit of that connectivity to each other. When we start pulling outward into the human instead of backward into an identity, into white, male, female, cis, gay, trans, straight and queer, we remember our sameness isn’t opposed to our uniqueness. When we stop the ridiculously insane push to be right all the time and be wrong at least some of the time, we gain it back.

We’ve all gotten too sensitive in all the wrong ways, instead of being sympathetic to how others may feel (which requires asking them exactly how they think and why) we hold way too tightly to our identity constructs.

I’m calling out so-called Liberals an Progressives on this as well as gender rights activists, queer theorists, and feminists, mainly because I feel allied or am a part of those loose identifications. I’ve called out the prevailing myth of white supremacy as a historical fact, women’s struggles as history and the benefits that come with being of a privileged class. My bonafides are there.

Yes, I find it amazingly ironic and annoying when ego-driven when people like Ann Coulter decry Liberal Fascism, when members of the alt-right claim their free speech is being violated, and when self-promoting attention whores like Milo Yiannopoulous and Mike Chernovich point out the hypocrisy of the left.

It’s annoying and ironic, but also, sadly, right.

 

The Case for “All Lives Matter”

Edited on 10/12/17 because the first time around I just don’t give a f***!

Edited 9/8/17 because brought to you by the letter “M.”

Edited (yet again) on 8/10/2018 for a few misplaced (s)s and slightly augmented wording.

Can we re-purpose a reactionary frame?

Can we take something not quite patently offensive, but triggering and reshape it to mean something that can unite rather than divide? Can a community of people, who already feel burdened with the explainer role, manage again to unify under something they mainly feel is a bastardization and outright insult to the movement they identify with?

If we’ve learned anything from the election of Donald Trump, we should take away this, using the language of the oppressed to claim oppression works, but can the opposite work as well.

When I’d seen the statement “All Lives Matter” in response to BLM, I cringed. I knew it was a reactionary, angry, reflexive response to a needed if not fully appreciated movement. It angered me that people who know better should have understood that killing an unarmed member of any community should be denounced, that people who should know that there is a disparity between the way young Black men are seen and treated in our society, and the way young white men are treated. That Black Lives Matter, of course, wasn’t a statement of exclusivity but one of defense. That the implication that ONLY Black Lives Matter was NOT part of this declaration, nor was the implication that Black Lives Matter MORE, but it was merely that Black Lives Matter AS WELL.

There is much to be said about how we got here, much hand wringing to be done about how history had drawn a clear line to this moment and how forces, both seen and unseen have forced these confrontations.

For context, I suggest reading some of the books on slavery or civil rights or some of the more inclusive books on American history A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn is a good place to start.

I’m not getting into context here, it’s too obvious to me and would distract from my point. Plus, I believe we should all be more responsible for exposing ourselves to the context of the history of the country of which we so effulgently pronounce our love.

One of the things I have learned about messaging is that sometimes to do it effectively; you have to give up some deeply held preconceptions. You have to resort to some to the tricks of the oppressor, if you will, and one-up them by playing their game. There are limits to this, of course, but within those limits is where progress can be potentially made.

Appropriation is a hot-button term. It evoked Native headdresses or kente cloth; it evokes everything from girls in yoga pants to Rachel Dolezal.

It doesn’t deserve the reputation it has. Appropriation is, in some cases, the same thing as acceptance, it is the brother or sister or transgendered, polyamorous, biracial neighbor of cultural assimilation. McDonald’s appropriated images of Black families in print ads to appeal to the people it was trying to sell burgers to, advertising, in general, appropriates members of audiences it wants to reach, and this is often called “inclusion.”

My feelings are half and half. Half of me welcomes the representation because it brings visibility and half of me knows the motivation is to sell a product. In many cases, even this gives a certain amount of arrival cred but still begs the motivation question. Yet, for whatever reason, it’s better to be seen in a positive light than a negative one, though it can be argued that this isn’t all that positive:

but is was certainly better than this:

Appropriation can be a gateway to conversation and understanding, or it can be a gross misuse of a symbolic cultural totem. I think its time for us to use the poseur of appropriation on the All Lives Matter crowd.

It makes sense that reactionary forces would seize on an approximation of a statement that virtually says the same thing. In this era of lack of imagination, lack of the ability to see things in shades of grey, and lack of connection across lines of partisanship, we have been unable to ask each other, “so what exactly do you mean by that?’ instead of reflexively attacking each other over our perception of that meaning.

So let’s start out by saying that all lives do matter. Black, White, Mexican, Gay, Straight, tall and short, cis, queer, nongender specific, Cops who occupy all of the other identities as well and are both sheltered and wrongly maligned, we can even go as radically far as to say that plants, animals….all life is important. The human variety is where we’ll focus for the moment though, let’s just say that all human experience is valuable.

Now we can get into a little trouble here in our appropriation as we often do when trying to be inclusive, how far is too far? So if the whole point of this is a marketing strategy (and make no mistake, the most efficient way to convey this message is through that means), who is the intended audience?

Assuming the target audience is the former Obama voting Trump devotee, a person who, right or wrong, thinks he is now in the minority, who assumes that being white has somehow become a liability, despite all evidence to the contrary, and now feels he must pull back into an enclave of reactionary juxtaposition. We aren’t going for the 1% White Lives Matter crowd, they are lost and never wanted to be a part of this new America anyway. Calling out the hypocritical other and also the people who genuinely don’t understand why All Lives Matter is such a divisive statement by appropriating the tag is a tact worth pursuing.

Re-branding as All Lives Matter, re-purposing with inclusion in mind of the people of all races that have been discounted and ignored, bringing in law enforcement of all races to have a dialog about how people are not treated equally and to what degree. Actually TALKING to each other about these vital issues under a moniker that doesn’t seem to exclude.

Maybe All Lives Matter can be a vital starting point to challenge the notion that they do conceptually and working on how they can actually.

Taking advantage of the short memories of Americans to change things in the long-term may be sneaky, but it can also be useful. From a marketing standpoint, it would be as brilliant a coup as turning a brand that had been wrongly associated with Nazi Germany into a brand that appeals to the Spanish-speaking among us.

In the world of spin, anything is possible.

 

 

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I Woke to Find Everything Vanished, and I Smiled a Little

I’m finding myself again in a particular state of consternation over other’s expectations of me. Everyone seems to have an idea as to what I should be doing and how I should be doing it.  People who don’t seem to realize that I’ve done and continue to do my level best to fulfill my obligations to them keep demanding more, so much so that this stone is about out of blood.

I’m looking down the road to a potentially major life change that will affect all my relationships going forward. When I mentioned this potential to a certain parental figure I got a disinterested sigh and a couple of self-serving questions about relocation, then there was a call telling me to do something that I’d been doing more of anyway. Yeah, I couldn’t be vaguer.

So in the past two weeks, I’ve received calls, text messages and email imploring me to take up some forgotten task or fulfill some unfinished obligation or to chide me for some life choice that someone else close to me does not agree with. It seems to have spread to my work life as well, as one of my coworkers had the nerve to, without irony (she’s a talker), tell me that leaving early one day “fucks the rest of us.” Unironically because she does about as much talking as she does work, more likely more of the former than the latter, every single shift she’s on.  She also has no idea who I am or how much I work. Assuming your small window into a relative stranger’s world shows you the entire picture is a sin punishable by a hearty “fuck you!”

So yeah, this is a bitching post, so let us get right to the bitching, shall we?

I’m wholly sick and fucking tired of everyone asking still more of me than I already give. Whether it be assuming small financial obligations out of the kindness of my heart or giving my attention to someone else instead of them, I’m done with being motivated by the expectations of others. So many people in my life live in their own little bubbles, surrounded by the comforts I’ve provided and have grown entitled because of them. They feel entitled to be rude to me, demand attention of me, and request of me things that I have no capacity to give at the moment, all while ignoring the things I’ve asked of them.

The very worst part of this is that all but one person in my life (two actually, but he’s always been appreciative of me) at the moment does not regularly say thank you for what I do continue to provide unless prompted to do so,  unsurprisingly, she is the person who gets the majority of my limited free time and attention. She is also the given or implied reason why the rest of them are so damn unappreciative.

Let me say this, I’ve learned about myself one thing. If you offer me appreciation for what I do, I will return in kind. If you continually complain about what I’m NOT doing, it won’t end well.  I’ve lost my tolerance for others putting their needs above mine and now my needs come first, unequivocally. I’m not looking for my ass to be kissed, but when I’ve done any of the things I’ve alluded to above, don’t take that shit for granted. It’s a sure way to get told to go to hell when you need something from me and fail to ask in a way that does not indicate you have a total lack of self-awareness.

At some point in everyone’s life, they realize that a turning of priorities may be in order. They fumble over what that means and sometimes actually come across something that works to better their outlook, enhance who they are and create joy in their lives in the most simple way. It could be a person, a job, a new point of view or any combination but when they do come they change who we are.

Reviewing one’s life you can see catalytic patterns. Times when one event leads, directly or indirectly, to another, and that to yet another still. Yes, there are choices in-between that move those patterns forward in the direction hindsight reveals, but there are often direct lines from a to b that reveal themselves as time goes on.

Hence the title.

When I wake up throughout the day, in the examination mode of memory and contemplation, I see these paths like routes on a map. There are arteries behind me that vanish, paths not taken, roads left behind never to be visited again, ahead there are splits that lead to other splits, that lead to still others. Not quite the infinite paths we like to believe there are, but as infinite as our little brains can handle. Infinite enough to know that even if we chart a course, the wind or a landslide will deviate us at least once. As our past disappears into memory and the present is lived in every moment, we only have so much say, only so many fucks to give.

I’m choosing mine wisely, with intention, giving attention to the things that I choose first and then allowing the rest to intrude when I will it. It’s the only semblance of control we have, and even if it is an illusion, I’ll take it.

For now, here are some general thoughts:

There is more than one way to love, live and leave.

I am not your world unless I say I am. And even if I do, not always, and not forever if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain.

I may love you, but I don’t owe you shit.

I choose what’s important to me, I’m not even slightly sorry If you can’t handle that.

Do not assume that you are at the top of my priority list unless I explicitly say so.

Do not EVER take me for granted.

Finally: Don’t be so fucking vain, this song is only partially about you, whoever you are.

Isn’t It Ironic?

Isn’t It Ironic?

There is no way I could have said this better, so I won’t try.

Cultural Sensitivity Without the Introspection, Welcome to Yale!

As a long time townie I’ve seen many changes at Yale that have contributed to the sense of entitlement that the students feel on campus and in New Haven. Yale has reached deep into communities and squeezed small businesses and lower income residents out, ignored the continual outsourcing of its staff while at the same time demanding favored status by claiming to be New Haven’s largest employer, and sequestered its students behind locked gates and high walls because of a few high profile incidents that on balance are NOTHING compared to what residents face daily.

Unfortunately, the students (who, any townie will tell you, are just generally a royal pain in the ass) are part of the problem. They are rude, obnoxious and arrogant; they regularly silently espouse an ownership of the city that the institution has perpetuated throughout the years. (not to mention actual OWNERSHIP of a large swath of downtown)

So it comes as no surprise that the latest round of protests are being met, even by people who would normally be on their side, with either a sigh or a mighty WT ever lovin’ F!

Yale town/gown relations have gone down the toilet since our lord and master decided to clean house on Broadway (New Haven’s Broadway that is) and eliminate all the deadbeats who brought locals in to mix with the Academics, and as a consequence brought some of them together maybe a little closer than the university would have liked. Yale has systematically, through its ownership or acquisition of over 400 properties invaded distressed neighborhoods, redeveloped, re-purposed and otherwise changed the face of New Haven.

Casualties have included a gathering place/coffeehouse that regularly hosted meetings between Yalies and Townies, Profs and Skaters, Punks and early Hip Hop kids, one of the best damn art-house theaters on the east coast, small family owned restaurants, clothing stores and basically any trace of local color. Pretty much all the things that made New Haven an interesting place to shop and visit.

So now we have a multiracial (good start!) group of students angry over patterns of discrimination and cultural insensitivity at the institution. An admirable protest subject(s) indeed, if it weren’t for the inherent irony in the whole damn thing. I’m not talking about the glaring irony of the students looking to express themselves, shouting down a professor who was there to answer them. Yes, becoming the thing you hate takes about 5 seconds as opposed to the lifetime it used to take, PROGRESS! I mean the GREATER irony, the great and powerful irony, the man behind the curtain wears no clothes irony of LOOK IN THE FUCKING MIRROR!

It’s not that I don’t feel for the students affected, and It’s not that I don’t agree with the principal of what they are upset about, but the fact is that they are already a privileged group, and they wave that privilege in every single resident’s face regularly is just too much to process. They are protected from much of the poverty and violence that wracked some parts of the city and they have pulled back further and further into their own “community” that they seem to have no concept of what that word means outside of YALE. In short, while looking inward at the Yale community, they need to be looking outward into the larger community they occupy. They regularly treat the city as a playground, whose crosswalks they ignore with impunity and whose residents they crowd off the sidewalk four abreast. Subtle as these things may be, and some of them are, they still indicate a pattern of well…abuse.

And then, of course is the little matter of that irony I mentioned.

I remember being a student when the PC movement started and I remember looking around at the “correct” sanitized result and can honestly say that I saw this coming. On both the Left and the Right there is a growing movement away from meaning and to increasingly meaningless language, we are so preoccupied with what we call ourselves and not who we really are. We are so enamored with labels and so ignorant of the lives of the people behind them.

Yale has many recent sins to atone for, as I listed above. Instead of simply protesting about insensitivity, the many students gathered need to open their eyes to the community surrounding them and reach out into it by becoming reengaged with it. Yale students are a big part of the reason New Haven has been dubbed one of the most unfriendly cities in the US. The superiority and snobbery has caused increasing amounts of town/gown tension in the past 20 years.

Cultural insensitivity is not just racial in nature, it is also based on class, education and privilege, ignorance of that is on display regularly in New Haven by the Yale community, Unfortunately, I’m sure many guilty parties took part in the “conversation” currently going on at Yale.

Folks, this ain’t #blacklivesmatter.

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