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The fabulous [profile] lifeinroseland is visiting this weekend. Whirlwind of activities!

Exciting tour of the Poughkeepsie ‘hood!

Strange dinner cobbled together from ingredients found at Ocean State Job Lot.

Sl-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-eep!

Dragonboat fest!

Local Downton Abbey sighting!

Rhinebeck retail! (I bought a $3 pair of scissors at Sharpy’s!)

More sl-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-eep!

Barbecue with L’s drunken boyfriend!

Sl-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-eep!

###

Today’s itinerary:

An intimate meetup with the Biggest Buddha in the Western Hemisphere.

Antiquing in Cold Springs.

Teary farewell!

###

I am dying to see if that pink Dior jacket in perfect shape that I didn’t buy for $50 three years because it was a tad too small is still in that antique store in Cold Springs.

It was still there two years ago although bizarrely, the store had doubled the price – I mean, if something doesn’t sell, aren’t you supposed to discount it?

The jacket was beautiful, and for an entire year, I tortured myself: I will write away to Hong Kong for fabric swatches to find one that will match its precise color – something between Hello Kitty and that frothy color you get when you beat Cool Whip into raspberry jello – and then I’ll find some struggling seamstress who is struggling to make commissary money to send to her sons – all three of whom have been locked away in the Fishkill Correctional Facility on cocaine trafficking charges – and I will pay her $25 bucks to lengthen the sleeves and do something about the shoulders –

But damn! A hundred bucks for something I can’t possibly ever wear? I don’t know.

If it’s still there, it should be up to $200 by now.

###

C is a pretty bright guy, but when he drinks, he turns into a total redneck. And not just any redneck: a redneck with liberal kneejerk biases. Thus, instead of the usual All Muslims are scum! from C, you get, All Republicans are scum!

“And the bastards are trying to shut down Poughkeepsie’s bus system!” C growled.

He had started slurring his words.

One of the big local issues hereabouts is that Dutchess County is finally wresting control of the city of Poughkeepsie’s flailing bus system. Really, the City of Poughkeepsie should not be running anything. The City of Poughkeepsie can barely keep its streets plowed in the winter: I still remember Adventures in Grocery Shopping between the months of December and March when I was living in Poughkeepsie and I did not have a car. They involved hopping from ice floe to ice floe kind of like Eliza fleeing the hounds.

Lois Lane does not have a car and is completely dependent on the public transportation system, so I get weekly updates on just how awful the City of Poughkeepsie’s administration of its bus system is.

Public transportation, in fact, is one of those few areas where economies of scale make perfect sense.

So, it was kind of a ridiculous argument to be having, plus I have a deep sense of C’s underlying tragedy – I can hardly look at him without flashing on the beautiful young artist wife who went mad and the beautiful young artist daughter who went mad: How do you survive tragedies like that without hating yourself, without thinking, It was something I did, I drove them mad?

Nonetheless, I continued having it – fueled, no doubt, by my deep contempt for Joel Tyner whom C kept citing as some kind of an authority. Joel Tyner is the flamingly left-wing county legislator from Rhinebeck, a weasely attention ‘ho of a type that’s very common in Berkeley – I used to date his clones regularly, which no doubt accounts for my deep, irremedial hatred for him. Talking about Joel Tyner in front of me is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

Anyway, at some point, I realized I had an incredibly well-behaved guest sitting to my left who had not made a peep but who no doubt was bored to tears by this conversation, so I made C shake hands with me – See? We’re still buds! We can still discuss the finer points of cinematography in “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”! – and toddled off to the Patrizia-torium where I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca.

What a ridiculous movie, and how Hitchcock must have suffered when Selznick and the Hayes Code board forced him to tack on that awful ending.
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Spent yesterday reading Joshua Green’s Devil’s Bargain cover to cover. An obsessively readable book all about the symbiotic relationship between Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.

Bannon was the mutagen who spun the conservative RNA, and Trump was the pointy-headed virus who penetrated the body politic. The disease was the narrative, Crooked Hillary.

The most interesting part of the book for me - since I am what the Trump team dubbed a “double hater” and it’s all about me-e-e-e, right? – was this:

[B]oth campaigns battled for a group of voters who would ultimately decide the race. ... Trump's data analysts gave them a nickname: 'double haters.' These were people who disliked both candidates but traditionally showed up at the polls to vote. They were a sizable bloc: 3 to 5 percent of the 15 million voters across seventeen battleground states that Trump's staff believed were persuadable.

Early on, many indicated support for third‐party candidate Gary Johnson. But after a series of televised flubs, ... they largely abandoned him. ... Many refused to answer pollsters' questions ... These were the voters Clinton had hoped to shear off from Trump with her 'alt-right' speech in August. ... Comey's letter had the effect of convincing the double haters to finally choose.


Double haters ended up going 47% for Trump, 30% for Clinton.

I stuck with the original game plan and voted for Gary Johnson.

As I see it, Comey's letter was not a precipitating event, but a cumulative event that was like the denouncement of a story that Bannon et al had been telling - but more importantly, circulating - about the Clintons for a very long time. The massive Hillary hatred was the result of a very conscious campaign.

Of course, Trump’s story is filled with as many if not more unpalatable facts than the Clintons, but since Trump was not a public servant until very recently, it’s difficult to work up a sense of moral outrage however easy it may be to feel personal disgust.

Also Trump was a celebrity, and the purpose of celebrities is to function as collective ids, no?

One of the most fascinating parts of Devil's Bargain, by the way, is how Trump managed to carry over the narrative from The Apprentice into his campaign. Trump benefited from advertisers' determination to make The Apprentice an ethnically inclusive show so it could sell more McDonald's hamburgers! Black and Hispanic voters LUVVED The Apprentice!
And this is one of the reasons why Trump didn't tank as badly among black and Hispanic voters as Democratic pollsters predicted he would.

Anyway, it’s very clear to me that unless the Left becomes more comfortable creating narratives, they’re cooked.
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Oh, m’Gawd. That storm. Unbelievable.

I’ve seen that erie grey-green before, most notably one afternoon when I was traveling through Tornado Alley with the circus, and the sirens went off while I was inside a Barnes & Noble in a tacky mall just outside Iowa City.

I scampered to the front plate glass windows to get a better look.

“Are you nuts?” hissed one of the store attendants.

(Well, yeah, I thought. Isn’t that the point?)

They herded us into some kind of dark back room for safety.

But the funnel-shaped cloud never touched down.

Yesterday, there were no funnel-shaped clouds, but the entire sky roiled and turned that grey-green, and we were hammered for four hours straight by high winds, sky-to-earth lightening bolts, and torrential rains.

Flash floods all over town. Power outages (though not at my house.) Trees down.

But the humidity is back down.

Which is good.

It hasn’t been all that hot here, but the humidity has made it difficult to move. Like yesterday morning before the storm hit, I went exercising on the Walkway because I figured breeze, marginally more comfortable.



You can practically see the humidity in the air, can’t you? The river is just one big gloopy mess.

This morning it’s quite beautiful out and not humid.

I continue to be in this distracted, fretful mood, but I did solve one major POV challenge with Where You Are When, which should make the writing go much more smoothly. (Of course, it doesn’t solve the underlying dilemma of Why are you wasting time on creative pursuits when you could be watching Season 4 of The Real Housewives of New York for the fourth time?)

Also, I solved the image upload problem on Dreamwidth, which means I can start using DW as my image repository. I'll have to keep the LJ account because there's no EZ way to transfer those old images to DW, and I like them. Also, like I say, I'm fond of my wacky little band of self-selected LJ pals, and most of them have no interest in migrating away from that platform.

But certainly my goal is to use LJ less and less.

I'm feeling this underlying baseline of mild panic all the time. Why? Who knows? As I say, my life is quite cozy these days.

PTSD?

Perhaps. The political situation here, there, everywhere continues to be appalling.

And I’m finding it increasingly difficult to care. Though I know I should
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I’m a little perplexed by the latest Democratic/Progressive narrative in which James Comey is a white knight singlehandedly saving American democracy.

Don’t get me wrong: Trump is mega-creepy. But it seems to me that he was well within his rights to fire Comey. (In fact, Obama ought to have fired Comey as soon as Comey interfered with the November election.) The Constitution explicitly places the President above the law in such matters: The Justice Department and the FBI operate under the executive branch of government; The President can order them to do whatever he likes.

So. Abuse of power?

Certainly.

Obstruction of justice?

No way.

Plus, the prospect of a President Pence is a whole lot scarier than the reality of a bumbling President Trump because Pence is not bumbling, so it’s likely he would be able to push a whole lot of his creepy agenda in.

No, the best thing for Progressives is if Trump remains in office, but is kept on the ropes for the next four years. This strategy will swing both the 2018 and 2020 elections.

###

But the big news yesterday was the UK election. Despite what can only be described as a disastrous rout, Theresa May is refusing to quit.

I didn’t follow the UK election closely enough to know whether any poll or pundit had predicted a hung parliament, but hung parliaments are actually not that rare – that’s how David Cameron got in as Prime Minister in 2010, after all.

I do know that the Conservatives had a majority going into the election and that Theresa May called for the election as a vote of confidence in her policies – so there’s really no way to interpret the loss of 23 seats as anything other than a slap in the face. A completely unnecessary election undertaken for the sole purpose of party advantage, and now she’s hiding out from the electorate: Pffftt.

The pound took a nosedive. Time to start planning that trip to the Tate!

###

In other news, it was a bright, sunshiny day! I soaked up a massive amount of Vitamin D.

I’m toying with the idea of writing something about the Comey narrative. What really strikes me is how short and dramatic the pivotal moment was that turned Comey from a progressive bop clown into a hero. When Comey lost the election for HRC, he was Public Enemy # 1. But then Trump fired him and bam! He was a good guy! The Comey of my enemy is my friend.

The brevity of that pivot and the confusion it caused is best demonstrated by that audience that showed up at the Ed Sullivan Theater on May 9th to see Stephen Colbert on The Late Show. Unaware that the narrative had shifted while they were standing on line, these audience members actually clapped when Colbert announced Comey’s firing – Buzzzzzz! Wrong reaction!

Nothing that 15 minutes in the Reeducation Camp couldn’t cure, of course.

It’s so amazing to me that partisans on both sides of America’s political divide continue to believe the narratives dangled before them by a media that’s only interested in tricking their eyeballs into watching ads.

I mean, Jeez! What’s up with that? Are people really that stupid?

(It’s a rhetorical question! Don’t answer!)
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Judith_with_the_Head_of_Holofernes_by_Cristofano_Allori


Came back from my trip and thought about writing and wanted to write – I had adventures! – but did not write.

And I’m not exactly sure why.

Trips are good. Trips reaffirm you as the primary stakeholder in your own life; the center of your own narrative, if not of the universe.

I want to go on more trips.

But I guess I’m so innately lazy and undisciplined that a week is all it takes for me to lose a habit.

###

After a couple of days, the small adventures of everyday life began to take over the brain cells allocated to trip memories.

For example: One afternoon, I was tromping fast or running – whichever one you want to call it – through the Vanderbilt Estate when I was passed by a car. Not a limo, but a black car – Crown Victoria maybe? And inside that car sat the Former Democratic Candidate for Congress. This was really confusing to me because I’d heard through the grapevine that she was desperately ill, too ill to leave her bed, or so, I’d been told.

If the Former Democratic Candidate for Congress saw me, she made no sign.

When I got home three hours later, there was an email: The Former Democratic Candidate for Congress had just died.

And this was just very weird because it strongly suggests that the Vanderbilt Estate is either the hellmouth or the pearly gates, I’m not exactly sure which.

###

And yesterday, which I’d put aside for writing about my trip, I could not wake up. All day long I had that really frustrating feeling of trying to jumpstart my mind as though it was a power mower or a chainsaw, and feeling it sputter and spurt as fuel was fed but remained unsparked.

Finally, I gave up and watched a six-hour documentary on the Grateful Dead.

I would never describe myself as a Deadhead, but I did see the Dead in concert innumerable times. Dead concerts were always a great place to do psychedelics. Plus I really liked the fact that here was this huge underground phenomenon that had received little or no acknowledgement from the mainstream press and PR machines; a whole transient economy and community that came together and then dissipated in the time it might take a handful of itinerant Buddhist monks to make a sand painting. Think Burning Man without the hype.

Still. Jerry Garcia as a Christ figure is stretching it.

###

Before I forget – there are three pieces I’d like to write in the coming week:

(1) The Kathy Griffin saga. Think what you like about the tastelessness of swinging a severed and bloodied head – hey! It worked for Salome! And for Judith! – this was a woman who was prepared to do battle on the enemy’s own turf.

Vulgar?

Sure.

Vulgar to a Trumpian extent, in fact.

Fighting fire with fire is not an inherently bad thing, so I was deeply puzzled when Griffin was castigated by both the Left and the Right.

The Left loves to eat its own.

But this one makes me wonder whether the real reason the Neanderthals lost out to Cro Magnon Man wasn’t because they were too polite.

(2) A deconstruction of the Hillary Body Bag trope. I have a list of all of Hillary's (alleged) bodies, and it’s far more extensive than Seth Rich and Vince Foster. But I'm wondering if there's another episode in American political history where a particular politician was accused of so many back channel murders. I have this sense that it’s a hoary narrative, but I just don’t know enough history to support that contention. So I’m fishing around for 19th century or 20th century examples.

(3) Why Americans don’t care about climate change. And I suspect that Trump called the zeitgeist exactly right here: Most Americans will actually concede that scientists are right and that climate change is happening. But they don’t give a shit. Why? Because climate change, indeed environmental issues in general, are widely perceived to be rich people’s causes. As though one morning, the One Percent woke up and realized, Uh oh! We’re sharing a planet with those dirtbags. We gotta do something.

Naturally, every strategy for reducing greenhouse gases has a disproportionately large effect on the poor.

How many tons of carbon does the Lear Jet that Al Gore uses to travel between climate change conferences generate anyway? But you’re not gonna find Al Gore reserving a seat on Amtrak any time soon.

There’s a huge amount of cognitive dissonance involved with behaviors like this, and mainstream Americans are not blind to it.
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It’s been hot. Very, very hot. Eighty-degrees-Fahrenheit-by-9-o’clock-in- the-morning hot.

This means that by the time I’m coffee’d up and Daily Mail-ed up enough to want to go out and exercise, it’s too hot to go out and exercise.

Consequently, I haven’t exercised for the past couple of days. At the same time, I haven’t slept well for the past couple of days. Are these two things connected? Seems likely.

I felt the urge to become politically involved in the orchestrated momentum leading up to the last Presidential election and the hysterical churn of the first few months after Trump won.

But it’s obvious the Sooper Sekrit Political Group is just another dead-end time sink at this point.

Before I got involved with the Sooper Sekrit Political Group, I was very involved with the Dutchess County Political Action Alliance – but it soon became very clear to me that the only “action” the DCPAA is committed to doing is allying with larger state progressive groups that want to use ground members as background extras in various useless rallies and protests. That’s an insult to my intelligence.

At this point, I’m thinking that all the high drama on the American political stage is just a battle for advertising dollars being waged between MSNBC and Fox News.

The words of the ZMan echo: I slowly came to the conclusion that the whole Right-Left dynamic was just a myth… If the Right-Left construct is just a version of good cop/bad cop where the people in the media hustle the rest of us so they can live above their utility, then what’s really going on in the world?

And the always relevant Bion of Borysthenes quotation. You know the one. The boys throwing stones. The dead frogs.

I care but not in the way I see my agitated Progressive friends caring. I think they’re having trouble separating the Figure from the Ground. And the Ground, she is changing…

###

Also, I have my own Work – which I pretty much have ignored for the past few months.

My own Work may never amount to anything, but it is mine – my own “sensemaking” to borrow Boy Genius’s ridiculously pompous phrase.

Why have I been ignoring it?

Partly a lack of discipline.

Partly the fact that I make my supplemental monies writing and that those writings have to happen on a timeline over which I have no control – so that when those deadlines have been met, I am often all written out and mentally exhausted.

Partly, though, because I’m not allowing myself to be absorbed into my own imagination. I’m allowing myself to be absorbed into other people’s imaginations. It’s more of a social thing, doncha know.

Not really sure what to do about any of this. I’m done being hard on myself in any way, shape, or form. The world is hard enough on me already; I don't see why I should give it any additional help.

But I’d like to figure out a way to get back inside my own imagination.
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I don’t know what to make of Comey’s firing. Seriously.

Clearly, the guy was incompetent and deserved to be fired.

But I find myself looking at something that’s a good thing if you believe the Good Guys did it (or would have done it) but a bad thing if you believe the Bad Guys did it (or would have done it.)

This sets up a paradox in which the conditions surrounding the event register with more significance than the actual event itself, which is a level of abstraction that my poor concretistic mind finds almost impossible to process.

All my Progressive friends are screeching, Constitutional crisis!

They see Comey’s firing as part of some complex long game for bringing down the Deep State.

It’s a ploy to stall the Russian investigation! they're wailing.

My own thought is that if they were actually depending upon an FBI investigation into Trump’s Russian ties led by an incompetent like Comey to bring Trump down, then there’s a plutonium plant in Hanford Washington I’d like to sell them.

Shouldn't Obama have fired Comey? And wouldn't that have been a good thing?

I was so confused, I asked Ben, So is firing Comey a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know how I’m supposed to react.

It’s a very bad thing, he said. On the one hand he was responsible for Clinton’s loss, at least in part. On the other hand, he was conducting the only legitimate investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia. The next FBI Director won’t. On top of that, tonight the White House says Comey was fired for failing to charge Clinton with a crime. So however bullshit it is, the next FBI Director probably will... This is Nixonesque.

Okay! Well. At least, I know what I’m supposed to believe.

I guess I’m gonna start practicing how to say President Pence.
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Rimbaud_in_Harar


The piece __ submitted was awful. Which shocked me because, you know, ___ journalist! _________ contributor!

But I really must be the world’s best editor ‘cause damn! if I did not make those words sing.

And the piece we published in Sooper Sekrit Standpoint is very fine indeed.

This makes me think that I have been approaching my own writing in absolutely the wrong way.

I have this compulsion to get it all right on the very first draft, which leads to hours and hours of rearranging commas, searching through weird linguistic appropriations for common adjectives, and other time-wasting activities. When really, I should be blurting it all out in as short a period of time as possible and shoving it in my underwear drawer for three months.

Three months is about the right length of time to lose the muscle memory of writing it.

Then I should take it out of the drawer and edit the hell out of it.

‘Cause as surely as Bruce Springsteen was born to run, baby, I was born to edit!

###

Else?

It’s raining.

I have been in the same general washed-out mood for several weeks now. Unengaged, one might say.

This weekend I’m supposed to write a piece on the Five Trump Insurgency Blogs YOU Should Be Reading!

That Five…You Must… formula is guaranteed clickbait.

Trouble is I have only identified two Trump Insurgency Blogs you must read – and one of them is by an insufferable prick whom I honestly think no one should read.

The other is by a sinister genius who espouses the darkest, most inflammatory thoughts ever but does so in a rich, delicious style that makes me shiver so that every time I set my browser to his site, I feel as though I've just been presented with a plate of chocolate-covered, absinthe-filled cherries. He is Rimbaud – after the teenage rockstar poet years, when Rimbaud was a weary smuggler working the Abyssinian coast.

But now I have to come up with three other pro-Trump blogs!

Plus – as always – I must toil in the Scut Factory mines.

For I have CV axles to fix and trips over Memorial Day to take.
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I’m feeling incredibly cranky. Like if I were Jehovah, Zeus, or Odin, I’d be smiting revenants left and right, and thinking up incredibly inventive plagues to visit upon them.

###

Like yesterday… The last day of taxes, right? Jerry, the administrator at the TaxBwana site at the Dead & Dying Mall, asked me to come in even though I wasn’t on the schedule because he was anticipating that a great hoard of taxpayers who’d put off doing their 1040s till the very last minute would drop in – and he was right.

There’s a certain art to providing services for huge numbers of clients.

You gotta assembly-line them somehow. Those long, personal conversations one enjoys having to establish rapport must be deferred – in the interests of serving as many clients as possible.

Likewise the giving of helpful advice that one knows clients will ignore.

So anyway, one of my first clients was a cook holding down three jobs. He was getting a small refund from the Feds but he owed a shitload of cash to New York State because he wasn’t having enough state taxes withheld from his various paychecks.

True, English was not his first language. However, I think he understood enough English to follow this conversation. I base this deduction on the fact that he was also paying child support, and when I asked him, “Any chance that the mother of your kids would let you declare any of them as dependents?” (since that would be an alternative method of decreasing his tax liability), he snorted and said, “Absolutely not – she hates me.” That’s actually a fairly high level exchange so far as English as a Second Language is concerned.

After I finish crunching the numbers, I always sit down with clients and give them the opportunity to review the form with me and compare it to their 2015 form. During this brief discussion, we’ll talk generally about ways they might be able to reduce their tax liability in the coming year: I am not a financial advisor, but I play one in the world of nonprofits!

About half the time, they’re interested in having this conversation; about half the time, they’re not.

This man was definitely not.

The next step is to trade places with a colleague. I will proceed to reduplicate all the work my colleague did preparing the tax forms, and he or she will reduplicate my work. This is our quality assurance process.

So anyway, the woman who QAs the cook is Little Miss Bleeding Heart Liberal who decides he needs a Spanish interpreter to explain the complexities of the state withholding system. And this proceeds to take up 45 minutes during which time the line of people actually waiting to have their taxes done grows longer and longer.

And frankly, I am wanting to grab Little Miss Bleeding Heart Liberal by the hair, pound her head into the nearest wall, and then invest my life savings in Make America Great Again baseball caps because everything she’s doing is a total waste of time. Plus – and vanity is everything, after all! – she is majorly disrespecting my assessment of what needed to be done in this situation. It isn’t virtue signaling, exactly; I could see she was a helpful sort who goes out of her way to have pleasant conversations with strangers on supermarket lines when said strangers look stressed. She had a good heart.

But it was just so unnecessary.

I would bet $100 – serious bank for me! – that the cook will not march into his HR office this week demanding to fill out a new W-4.

###

From taxes to my intermediate English class. With a brief break to eat bad pizza but helas! not to exercise.

Can you tell I need my exercise?

Because it uses up all that kinetic energy that otherwise gets channeled into fantasies about pounding well-meaning individuals’ heads into walls!

###

Got home and Max called. He’s doing well. We discuss Imane’s latest misadventures –

Max laughs. “It’s so funny the way you keep calling her, ‘My little bad girl.’”

“Well, she is a little bad girl! I mean, I feel an enormous amount of affection for her. But there’s no denying that she’s got that grifter thing going. Of course, most 20-year-olds I know kinda do.”

“Really? You think so?”

“Oh, absolutely. Not in their interactions with other 20-year-olds necessarily. But don’t you remember? I remember very clearly! When I was 20, everyone over the age of 20 was old, and old people really don’t matter very much unless you happen to be related to them.”

“Huh,” said Max. “You could be right.”

“I am right,” I said. “And furthermore, 20-year-olds don’t distinguish between old people. You could be 30 years old; you could be 60 years old. Thing is you’re old, so you don’t count! You should be starting to pick up on some of that yourself since you just turned 30, which makes you officially old –“

“Huh,” Max said again.

###

One of the things Max told me in that conversation was that he was going to delete his Facebook account.

Second person yesterday to announce the imminent deletion of a Facebook account.

Really, I should delete my Facebook account. Facebook is an enormous time sink. Plus it’s a guaranteed method for fanning suicidal thoughts should you happen to log on to it while feeling depressed. Look at all those happy selfies! you'll think. All those people are living rich, rewarding, successful lives! Meanwhile, my most meaningful personal relationship is with Dr. Who. Who never pays any attention to me! And come to think of it, neither do any of those people living rich, rewarding, successful lives on Facebook.

I don’t delete my Facebook account for the following reasons:

1. It is my only way to keep in touch with the scattered DiLucchio Tribe.

2. I communicate regularly with Lois Lane on Facebook.

3. I am an administrator for the Sooper Sekrit Political Group – which is busily gearing up for world domination.

And that means that some day, there will be a big bronze statue of me with an inscription, Mother of the Revolution! Right there on Wall Street, right there between the bull with the big balls and the petulant little girl! But only if I remain on Facebook.

The Sooper Sekrit Political Group, though, is really fucking annoying. Constant thrashes over identity politics.

I loathe identity politics.

Though I’m completely on board with many of the constituent movements commonly filed under the general heading of “identity politics.” I think Black Lives Matter, for example, has an incredibly important agenda, and I thought it was smart of them to hire mega-ad agency J. Walter Thompson: Their message must go mainstream; it’s too important to remain marginalized.

But so far as I'm concerned, the only important battle in a political sense is the battle between the 99 Percenters and the One Percenters.

Everything else is a complete distraction.

What’s called identity in today’s "politics" (sic) is really just an extension of the Starbucks divide-and-sell-more-beverages doctrine, a way to distract people struggling to keep their heads above water from the fact that they have more in common than they have to disagree about.

Identity politics is a reflection of market segments, a methodology that was created to sell ads to television networks. It’s kind of the Left’s replacement for class, but it can only exist under mass market conditions.
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Ragnar crop


There’s a brilliant scene in the brilliant BBC television series The Last Kingdom where a Viking named Ragnar goes beserk on his sworn blood enemy Kjartan. He kills Kjartan and then proceeds to go mad, literally pulverizing the corpse with his sword.

Quick cuts to crowd reactions – his men, his brother (and our hero) Uhtred, his bloodthirsty girlfriend Brida, two ambiguous religious characters – Beocca, a priest, who’s not adverse to slitting throats so long as those throats are not attached to humans who’ve been baptized in the Christian faith and Hilde, a nun whom the aftereffects of pillage and rape have turned into an efficient killing machine.

And at first, the crowd is enthusiastic. Chanting, “Woo! Woo! Woo!” Which I take it was ancient Danish for “Go team!”

But gradually, the chants stop. And the faces of this remorseless assemblage grow horrified.

It’s a really genius depiction of the effects of exponential violence.

I thought of this scene many times yesterday. As I tried to make sense of the purported Sarin gas attack on Syrian civilians and the American response.

For who can fail to be outraged when chemical weapons are used on innocent civilians? Whose heart does not cry for retribution? Who does not want to join voice with one’s fellow Americans in a comforting chorus of, “Woo! Woo! Woo!”?

###

Full disclosure here: While the Russians may have messed around a bit on the periphery of the 2016 U.S. election, I continue to believe it’s far more likely that some disgruntled, high-ranking Democratic Party operative spilled the specifics that allegedly brought down Hillary Clinton.

I believe it because that’s the simplest explanation.

I believe it because the spilled info was not in and of itself that incredibly damaging: In the end, those 63 million people who voted for Trump don’t really give a shit where somebody’s email server is located; until very recently, all of Trump’s senior staff continued to use private email accounts.

No, those 63 million people were looking for a reason not to vote for HRC. And they found one.

One might also say, given all the original Clinton administration’s underground machinations – in 1991 and again in 1996 – designed to snare Russia’s leadership for uber-Drunk Boris Yeltsin, that any outrage on America’s part about electoral meddling has a decidedly comic angle.

One of the rare good things about Trump, I thought, was that he seemed determined to improve Russian/American relations.

Anyway. It’s quite obvious the Trump administration is not going to do a damn thing to help the constituency that floated it into office. The old Republican establishment is pretty much pushing through the kinds of programs they’ve always wanted.

And even if factories do come back to the U.S., it’s not gonna matter: Most of those jobs are automated now.

The Trump base seems pretty oblivious to this right now.

But sooner or later, even they are gonna come to understand that though they’re having the Big Fun calling out the snowflakes in the comments section on Fox News, nothing else is happening.

This war’s for them!

Because nothing else gets the juices of a white working-class constituency flowing like war. Drone strikes! Ground troops!

Of course, this isn't actually a large departure from policies under Obama, but the rhetoric surrounding them will be more aggressive, more targeted toward inciting scapegoating.

War is always based on a kind of pseudo-speciation behavior, a belief that cultural differences can be so profound that they amount to biological differences.

Woo, woo, woo!
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Do you know what this means?

The crux is round the challenge of forming a collective intelligence in a context of exponential technology - when there will be no more paradigms. Paradigms are largely the result of forming coherent collective intelligence (a) using broadcast media (including books, journals, etc.) and (b) in an adaptive landscape that requires a "paradigm change" no more than once or twice every century. The post-paradigmatic mind requires a different form of networking.

Because I sure as hell don’t.

And when I pointed out to the writer – the alpha male in the Sooper Sekrit Political Action Group – that this might as well be written in TRAPPIST-1e-ese, he proceeded to go all huffy and imperious on me.

“Well, let’s take another tactic, shall we?” I said. “What do you mean exactly by ‘collective intelligence.’ This group? A larger group? All mankind connected by technology-mediated telepathy? Because I’m telling you that language like this is exclusionary. There’s a reason why I’m practically the only woman in this group, you know.”

Right.

And that reason isn’t because middle-aged eggheads give me a woody.

###

But never mind the Sooper Sekrit Political Action Group. It’s Spring! Officially. And though the snow banks are still six feet deep on the ground, the sun is bright and the birds are singing.

Some day – possibly within the next century – I will have saved enough to get my balding tires replaced, and then I can start going on roadtrips again! I want to go here:

wharton


In fact, I want somebody to propose to me so that I can get married here.

That’s Edith Wharton’s house. She designed it.

###

Satisfying phone chat with the Numbah One son yesterday. “I’ve found something that actually juices me about law school,” he told me excitedly.

That thing?

Mock trials!

He’s really, really good at them.

Which should come as no surprise: Max is incredibly articulate, and he’s always been able to out-argue practically anyone on the planet – even me, and I’m no slouch at arguing. Also, he has an amazing voice, a deep, mellifluous baritone.

“Well, that’s a specialty,” I said. “Because I daresay at least 50% of your classmates hate and fear mock trials –“

“Oh, that percentage is a lot higher than 50%,” he said. “But the thing is that it’s difficult for me to bond with the other people who are good at mock trials. They were the debate kids in high school! They’re all so hetero-normative!”

“You say ‘hetero-normative’ with the same distain that a Trump supporter might say ‘Moslem,’” I pointed out gently, and to his credit, he was suitably abashed.
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I’ve been wanting to revisit Wolf Hall ever since I read that Hollywood Reporter interview with Steve Bannon where he compares himself to Thomas Cromwell.

I figured Bannon couldn’t possibly have been comparing himself with the actual historical personage, a dogged, calculating and mercenary figure from all contemporary reports (though I suppose Bannon’s many detractors might use that very string of adjectives to describe Bannon himself) so Bannon’s Man Crush must have been sparked by one of the fictional portraits.

Anne of a Thousand Days. A Man For All Seasons. The Tudors. The Private Life of Henry VIII.

Wolf Hall is the only one in which Cromwell comes off at all sympathetically.

Plus Cromwell is not dead at the end of Wolf Hall! Because the hardest thing to fathom is why Bannon would want to compare himself to someone who’s not only beheaded on order of the tyrant he served but beheaded by a drunken executioner with a rusty sword.

###

Wolf Hall is a brilliant novel but difficult to read because… pronouns!

So, I figured Bannon must have seen the BBC’s excellent dramatization of Wolf Hall. Which I watched again yesterday. All eight hours of it. While desultorily pecking away at various writing projects and feeling alienated by the weather: Cold. Grey. Light snow falling like ugly ash from some conflagration in heaven.

###

The production is even more wonderful the second time around. It has such a sense of modernity to it, all the while remaining extremely faithful to the details of the Tudor universe. Much of that is the dialogue, which is lifted word for word from Mantel’s book. This dialogue utilizes the archaic vocabulary and stilted grammar of those times, but somehow manages to infuse those things with a contemporary sensibility. I suppose that’s because the dialogue is spoken by tremendously talented actors. They perform a similar magic with all the bowing, scraping, curtsying, and hat doffing that were embedded into the social rituals of that era.

In particular, Mark Rylance as Cromwell is just superb. In the opening episodes, he’s attractive, likeable, someone you might easily fall in love with. You root for him. By the final episode when he’s arranging Anne Boleyn’s downfall, he’s metamorphosed into something of a monster – and yet, you still root for him. The acting craft at a very high level, that.

###

I was hoping Wolf Hall would be a panacea for my (futile!) absorption in current events.

After all, the endlessly absorbing events it describes happened so very long ago.

As someday, the endlessly absorbing events of this peculiar moment in time will have happened so very long ago! And that’s what one needs to hold on to: Every era you awaken into tries to choke you, tries to derail you with its own urgency, its own frenzy, its own chaos. Meanwhile, off in a corner of your peripheral vision, the truly important things are taking place.

What are those important things?

Damned if I know.

But I never doubt that they’re taking place.

When I was very, very young, my maya detectors were far more finely tuned than they are now. I can remember understanding when I was around 12 years old or so that very little generated by the social universe of humans had any significance whatsoever.

It was all distraction.

So there was simply no reason to pay much attention to it at all.

This understanding vanished the following year when I hit sexual maturity.

But I still feel flickers of it from time to time.

And I wish I knew the answer to this question: Distraction from what?

###

Meanwhile, Wolf Hall did not purge me of my obsession with current events.

Just read this puff piece in New York on Enslaved House Elf Kellyanne Connor, and thought, Huh! The capitulation is underway! Of course, mainstream media cannot afford to remain alienated from the seat of power.

Can’t remember in what context I read yesterday that some power broker was urging the liberal left to “tone down the rhetoric.”

But that’s just common sense. Flies! Vinegar! Honey!

And anyway, I’m not a member of the liberal left. I’ve always loathed identity politics.
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Dreamed I had a lover, a gentle, dark-haired man, an artist, 31 years old. He was utterly besotted with me, and I kept trying to explain to him how utterly inappropriate his passion for me was, but at the same time, I was very, very flattered. I’m 65 years old! I told him. I kept trying to find something wrong with the guy – he loved me, right? There had to be something wrong with him. He’s not all that articulate, I thought. Maybe he’s stupid

And then I woke up.

###

This article is frightening.

The Robert Mercer/Cambridge Analytics connection, I knew; the psyops stuff I didn’t know.

Cambridge Analytics maintains it’s only been employed to work on American elections. I suppose the key word in that sentence is “employed” since there’s ample evidence that Cambridge Analytics has been hard at work in the UK though no evidence that money changed hands for the company’s services.

The key to Cambridge Analytics’ success at targeting people’s emotions to political advantage is its Facebook profiles harvesting operations, which employ artificial intelligence. (Mercer got his start making breakthroughs in language processing that provided the foundations for the development of artificial intelligence.) The original research began when a Facebook quiz went viral. More than six million people ended up doing that quiz, and every one of those profiles was analyzed for psychometric data. Facebook “likes” are the key to that data. The end result is a psychological model with uncanny behavioral predictive abilities.

Cambridge Analytics’ parent organization is something called the SCL Group. Cambridge Analytics provides the technological tools; SCL provides the strategic intelligence. SCL is competing for contracts within the Trump Administration’s well-funded War on Terror. Social media sites are the battleground for that war. Case in point: Approximately one-third of all Twitter accounts are bots, an invisible army programmed to make topics trend. These bots are programmed to appear human, to react as if human. Before Brexit, they were all programmed to support Leave. Before the American elections, they were all programmed to support Trump.

Andy Wigmore, the main guy interviewed for this article, postulates that all Trump’s tweets and public displays are not erratic displays of behavior at all but are deliberate performances that hinge on showcasing carefully chosen keywords.

The main weapon in such cognitive warfare is “moral shock,” which has a disabling effect on empathy and critical thinking. Hence the emphasis on propaganda sites peddling “fake news” designed to deliver that moral shock.

Twitter now has literally hundreds of thousands of accounts that lie inactive as if waiting for some kind of trigger that will cause them to rise up and drown out every other source of information.

Scary stuff.

Good reason to drop out of all social media.
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I ran a few errands yesterday after six hours of performing Selfless Public Service. And then I went straight to bed.

At the time, I thought I was being incredibly lazy. Or that I was depressed.

This morning, my nose is running, and my ears are doing that phantom tinnitus thing. I’ve been sneezing nonstop. Even though I slept 12 hours and drank espresso, I’m still exhausted. And achy. And peevish. So, I think I’m fighting off some kind of infection, and my body understood that yesterday even before I began developing symptoms.

Clever body!

The day is shaping up to be an ordeal: I’m supposed to go to a birthday party this afternoon, and I can’t cancel without creating all sorts of Bad Feelings.

###

It snowed yesterday morning. In the afternoon, the sun came out, but the temperatures dropped. The snow formed crystals on the trees that looked exactly like some kind of fruit blossom. Eerie. Beautiful.

###

I’m feeling disgusted by the political narratives on both sides. L actually got really mad at me for suggesting that Obama might not be entirely innocent of the spying charges Trump dropped on him.

“They’re not true!” she told me indignantly. “Obama is a decent man! He would never do something like that!”

“Oh, c’mon, Linda,” I said. “Obama was the least transparent President since Richard Nixon. Don’t get me wrong – he’s someone I’d love to sit next to at a dinner party. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some scintilla of veracity behind Trump’s Captain Queeg-like levels of paranoia.”

L got so mad that she actually stormed out of the room in a huff.

I keep going back to Bion of Borysthenes:

The boys throw stones at the frogs for sport.
But the frogs die in earnest.


Bion knew of what he wrote: He was born into a low class family and for some offense the father or the mother committed (probably equivalent to the modern crime of jaywalking), the entire family was sold into slavery. Somehow he managed to become a Famous Philosopher, working his way through every ideological sect in turn – Academics, Cynics, Hedonists – until finally he became an Aristotealian. I figure he figured Aristotle where the big bucks lay in ancient Greece.

But the quote I reference above isn’t particularly Aristotelian.

It’s just true.
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I found this interview with Steve Bannon quite fascinating.

Really, he doesn't sound all that different from Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren except that he inserts the phrase "Judeo-Christian" into every other sentence. (Possibly because he's speaking at the Vatican?) He almost sounds like a Marxist when he talks about how the Tea Party was a reaction to crony capitalism. He neatly channels that systemic distrust of the media and political systems that’s been around for at least a decade and that Liberals had relegated to a sidebar: Oh, look! Pew sez only 19% of Americans trust the federal government!

In view of Bannon’s emergence as the alt.right White Nationalist Poster Boy, these words are the most interesting: There’s always elements who turn up at these things, whether it’s militia guys or whatever. Some that are fringe organizations. My point is that over time it all gets kind of washed out, right? People understand what pulls them together, and the people on the margins I think get marginalized more and more.

I can’t tell whether Bannon actually believes this, or if this is an apple he wants you to bob for. So that that when you put your head underwater, you drown.

This is one of the reasons why I could never be a politician.

I’m not pragmatic enough to accept all types of support.

###

I did decide I could not possibly accept Carol Day’s Thanksgiving invitation. I like Carol, and if she’s far more self-involved than most people, I’m inclined to cut her slack. Because she’s very generous. Because she has an autistic, severely retarded son whom she keeps at home, and because I cannot imagine dealing with a situation like that myself.

But she voted for Trump.

And right now, I just can’t be around people who voted for Trump.

I don’t particularly approve of this reaction in myself. I’m Libertarian enough to think that people get to believe what they want to believe without checking in with me first.

But I don’t trust myself to keep my mouth closed at the dinner table should the talk turn to politics.

I’d make a scene.

“Come up here!” Ben said.

So, I will.

###

In graduate school, I had a pal named April. Single mother. Plucky. Smart. Pragmatic. She’d discovered house-flipping. One of her X-boyfriends, a sleazeball lawyer named Sheldon, was responsible for helping her find distressed properties. Now, some 35 years after the fact, I suspect he may also have loaned her the initial down payment.

Sheldon always had a string of hot young girlfriends. He was one of those nervous, skinny guys with a braying laugh and oily skin. You just knew Sheldon had been a loser in high school and that he was never gonna get over it. But now, he had money!

Anyway, April had a dinner party. Invited me. Invited Sheldon. Invited some other folk.

Sheldon turned up with his latest girlfriend in tow – an extremely striking young African American undergraduate.

Sheldon was one of those people who liked to insert sexual innuendoes into every other sentence, and during the course of the evening, as he grew drunker and drunker, the sex talk grew louder and louder.

“You would not believe what this one here can do with her tongue!” he announced, grabbing his date and inserting his tongue in her ear. “Mick Jagger is right! Brown sugar is the sweetest.”

The poor girl looked as though she wanted the ground to open and swallow her up.

“Stop it, Sheldon!” I said. “Just stop it. Right now. Cease and desist.”

Sheldon did the wide-eyed innocence pose. “Stop it? Why?”

“Because you’re embarrassing me, and you’re embarrassing your friend.”

“Embarrassing you? Well, who the fuck are you? You don’t get to tell me what to do. And as to embarrassing this little piece of prime black ass –“

“That’s it,” I said. I rose from the table and headed for the bedroom to retrieve my coat.

April followed me.

“Patrizia!” she entreated. “Don’t do this. Sheldon’s an ass, but he’s harmless –“

“No, April," I said. "That’s where you’re wrong. Sheldon is not harmless.”

April looked as though she wanted to cry.

So, I patted her tepidly on the shoulder – could not bring myself to hug her – and walked out the door.

In the days that followed, I was led to understand that I had embarrassed April horribly, had ruined her dinner party.

I can live with that, I thought.

But April and I remained pals. “Pals” in my lexicon is code for people with whom you interact on an amicable and regular basis but with whom you exchange no real intimacies. Pals are a necessary survival tool. Cogs in what I suppose marketers call “networking.”

Generally speaking, I only make dramatic gestures and cut off people to whom I’m bound by ties of love or blood. Possibly because I have higher expectations of them, and when they disappoint me, it’s a very big deal.

Most people, though, I see as more-or-less interchangeable personas who are currently occupying a particular slot in my brain. They’re not that important. What they do is not that important. And if I cut them off, then I’m gonna have to go to all that trouble to recruit somebody new for that slot in my brain.
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Somewhere near the end of the documentary Weiner, the film’s director asks the candidate why the press has been so hard on him.

“I lied to them,” says Weiner. Then he makes a face. “And I have a funny name.”

It’s this unusual combination of cluelessness and self-awareness that makes this exercise in cinema verité so fascinating to watch.

Anthony Weiner is the former seven-term Congressperson from Queens’ own Kew Gardens nabe who rather famously one night in 2011 sexted a picture of his, uh, weiner to the wrong person thereby giving the headline writers at the New York Post a field day that went on and on and on for weeks: Weiner’s Rise and Fall! Tip of the Weiner! Weiner Pulls Out! Etc.

There’s a lot of evidence that Weiner was, in fact, set up by conservative factions associated with Andrew Breitbart in the same way that pedophile stings are set up by the FBI. I mean, yes, they capitalized on Weiner’s overweening (or should that be overweining) narcissism, but the “women” he was sexting to were, in fact, operatives.

There’s also the fact that some huge percentage of the American public itself sexts regularly. Sexting has become a routine part of American courtship behaviors. Every technology, after all, from the printing press on has been fueled by the very human desire to promulgate pornography. (Well, okay. Maybe not the cotton gin.) And after Bill Clinton and JFK, why should it come as any revelation that some politicians like anonymous sex? Does that fact have anything to do with their talent as politicians? At a time when Kris Jenner launched a commercial and cultural takeover of the world’s media outlets by releasing a sex tape starring her own daughter, how can anybody get bent out of shape by a remarkably tame photo of a pair of boxer shorts with a bulge?

###

The documentary charts the rise and fall of Weiner’s 2013 New York City mayoral campaign.

I have no idea whether Weiner would have been a good mayor or a bad mayor, but certainly DiBlasio has been a disaster, and until the second scandal broke, Weiner was running considerably ahead of DiBlasio in the polls.

In the year between Weiner’s resignation from Congress and his run for Congress, Weiner had sexted with a lot of women. (I’m thinking maybe he should find another hobby.) And one of the women he’d sexted with – improbably named Sydney Leathers – decided to leverage her connection with him to launch a career as a porn star.

When this story broke, Weiner was toast – although again, I had to wonder why exactly? It wasn’t like he was texting while campaigning.

The film then becomes a fascinating montage of damage control, optics manipulation, confrontations the candidate allows himself to get baited into, and glimpses into the domestic life Weiner shares with his wife and his son. Weiner refuses to drop out of the mayoral primary but ends up getting less than 5% of the total vote.

I dunno. I would probably have voted for him if I’d been registered as a Democrat and lived in New York. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he’s brash, has singularly poor impulse control. But I kinda liked him. And I couldn’t help thinking that if hadn’t had such a remarkably Dickensian name that turned everything into a bad pun, he might have been able to – uh – rise above all the tsuris.

###

I’ve often thought that the best gift any parent can give a child is the name “John Smith,” regardless of that child’s gender.

In this age of relentless spying and tracking, ironically, the only way you can have any kind of privacy is by becoming absolutely ubiquitous and transparent.

The documentary Weiner begins with a simple epigram from Marshall MacLuhan: The name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers.

If Anthony Weiner had not been named Anthony Weiner, could he have saved his career? That lens the media focused on him would have been so much less intense.

But with a last name like “Weiner” and a sex scandal, there’s not a whole lot of damage control you can do.

###

c23de5ea56af432dbed30b40c71a8668 The movie is also interesting because it gives us so many unguarded glimpses of Mrs. Weiner a/k/a Huma Abedin, the soon-to-be-Presidentially-anointed Hillary Clinton’s top political aide.

Abedin is a remarkably beautiful woman with an amazing talent for holding her own counsel and exquisite taste in clothes. I would die for this dress.

The most unlikely people always seem to end up together, which is why analyzing couples is so much fun. On the surface, a relationship between the funny, cocky, self-effacing and ill-advised former Congressperson and the guarded, stealthy, protocol-conscious aide-de-camp seems very improbable.

But I have a theory about that.

I think the deepest partnerships occur between people who can say No for one another. In other words, you love the person who can say No to the people, things and situations that for one reason or another, you’re incapable of saying No to yourself.

Thus Huma is Anthony’s way of saying No to wayward frat-boy behavior and Anthony is Huma’s way of saying No to total repression.

The marriage will last.

Why wouldn’t it?
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Whoa! Prince turns out to have been a junkie all along. But a covert junkie.

Kind of interesting the way his life parallels that of his arch rival, Michael Jackson.

I was and remain a huge Michael Jackson fan, dating back to his Jackson Five days. I maintain that Jackson’s ode to a killer rat, Ben, is one of the most perfect love songs ever penned and crooned.



(Reader, I married him!)

The kicker – if you believe The Daily Mail (and why wouldn’t you?) – is that despite their celebrated performer magic, both Jackson and Prince suffered from excruciating performance panic and thus, needed to anesthetize themselves thoroughly before they could climb up on a stage and go through the prescribed moves.

Both were raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religion I know nothing about and tend to confuse with Seventh Day Adventism.

Apparently the Witnesses reject Christmas and birthday celebrations as pagan rituals, and they do not believe in the Trinity, hell, or the soul’s immortality. Death is the endgame for most of us. The soul, like the body, can die. The lucky few will be resurrected to go on living some time after Armageddon in a representative democracy governed by Jehovah. The end times started in 1914, and the big blowup should happen any moment now.

The Witnesses are on a first name basis with the Supreme Deity (unlike, say, the Jews who think God’s true name is powerful mojo and avoid speaking or spelling it.) Think of them as primary candidates trying to get your vote for the Jehovah platform!

I am not quite sure how Jesus fits into their equation. I do know that the Witnesses tend to anthropomorphize Satan more than other post-Restoration Protestant religions.

###

Anyway, it's becoming quite obvious to me that Prince died so that I wouldn’t have to read about the primaries for four whole days.

It was an act of sacrifice! It was an act of LUV, deep and profound. Unfortunately, its effects are wearing off. Just this morning, an article on byzantine Pennsylvania delegate selection techniques snaked its way into my newsfeed.

It’s time for some other celebrity to step up to the plate.

I'm talking to YOU, Kim Kardashian!

###

In other news, apparently 90,000 protestors turned out on the streets of Berlin to voice their disgust with Obama’s pet Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Presumably, many, many more Germans are sitting at home, gnashing their teeth over the prospect. Of course, in this country, anti-trade deal rhetoric is a major part of both the Sanders and the Trump platforms. Could it be that people are finally getting wise to the fact that global trade deals are mostly only good for corporations seeking cheap labor and fresh markets for shoddy electronics?

And if I were a Brit, I would so be voting to get out of the EU! Upfront cost savings, freedom from restrictive regulatory burdens, and more intensive security measures at the borders. The Norway model.

Yeah, yeah, there would be five to ten years where the remaining EU members would pout and play vindictive. But it would pass. The bilateral relationships would quickly resume.

Terrorism is the offspring of globalism. I do support immigration, but I also think it’s absolutely ridiculous in this day and age not to vet the immigration process very, very, very carefully. The EU mandate is for “open” borders, and increasingly, I think that’s dangerous.

But, of course, the U.K. won’t vote to leave the EU.
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I can’t remember the name of the standup comic Donald Trump reminds me of, but you’ve all seen him. He’s brassy. He’s in your face. He’s not particularly funny, but there’s something about him you gotta admire. His indefatigability perhaps? ‘Cause he doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether you think he’s funny. Lots of other people think he’s funny, so get out of the way, or the train’s gonna mow you down. He doesn’t have any time for wishy washy.

Donald Trump is the inevitable result of identity politics. It’s naive to imagine that when every other group in the U.S. is using marginalized identity as a tactical weapon that white people aren’t gonna want in on the fun, too. Institutional racism is too abstract a concept for most people to understand. This is Dutchess County. We’re not dealing with Scarlett O’Hara’s great-great-granddaughters. We’re dealing with third or fourth generation immigrants from Europe who’ve made a fairly decent living for themselves and their children. But it wasn’t necessarily easy, and now, it’s getting a whole lot harder.

I can’t tell whether The Donald is serious about The Wall. It got a big, big round of applause. Mexico’s gonna pay for it! Or maybe Taco Bell. (I think Trump may get those two confused.) Or maybe The Wall is the WPA-style project that Obama was too chickenshit to pursue.

There was a whole lot of tasteless swag being peddled, the most tasteless of which was undoubtedly this:




“You’re a Trump supporter?” I asked this guy, and he assured me: Yes, he was.

I didn’t believe him for a single second. I think he’d say anything to close a sale. The Trump swag was not exactly moving fast.

I wanted to lean over and whisper, “Pssst! I don’t like Trump either! I’m just here ‘cause I always wondered what those Mittelstandspartei were thinking back in ’33 when they voted in der Führer!” But I doubted very much he was interested in my white liberal intellectual curiosity.

Surprise! Minorities were underrepresented at this rally. But the number of people under the age of 25 was way, way more that I expected. There were just as many at this rally as there were at the Bernie Sanders rally on Tuesday.

And I gotta say: The Donald is efficient. I was practically the last one admitted into the auditorium at one minute to three and boom! The Donald started at three! He spoke for exactly 35 minutes and boom! again: The rally was over. This in marked contrast to the Sanders rally, which didn’t start till a full hour and a half after its posted time.

I have this talent. I can always recognize when a political speech is about to end. No doubt, I developed it at UC Berkeley back in the Jurassic when I went to a lot of political rallies. Anyway, when I began hearing that warning rumble in The Donald’s voice that signified climax was at hand (no, not that kind of climax, you feeelthy prevert!), I pried myself loose from the standing room only crowd and ran for the door. And was home by four.

There were some protestors. And because it was 90 degrees out in the blaring sun, I was glad that I’d elected to play Harriet the Spy rather than to join them:

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One imagines that the neighborhood June grew up in looked something like this:

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Although this is actually the lower East Side in Manhattan, and June grew up in Brooklyn.

The streets she and Henry walked on would have looked something like this:

article-2134408-12BD18E7000005DC-0_964x751


Though, again, not exactly. This was 15 years after the fact, post-Depression, post-Volstead Act repeal. A short time before World War II. (At a higher resolution, you can read the headline of the newspaper that man in the foreground is reading: Nazi Army Now 75 Miles From Paris. )

This photo has nothing to do with the action in my novel, but I like it anyway:

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That’s a breadline. Back when Els still ran on Sixth Avenue (which had not yet been renamed “Avenue of the Americas.”) I’m guessing it’s in the vicinity of where Rockefeller Plaza is today.

Meanwhile, I’m selecting my outfit for the Make America Grate Again rally this afternoon with great care. Because what if The Donald locks eyes with me across the crowded auditorium and invites me up on to the stage?
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Found out over morning coffee that John Foreman had died. Which made me very melancholy indeed.

I have a passion for Big Houses. No, not the kind where you have to watch your ass in the shower. The Brideshead Revisited kind.

The foremost chronicler of the big Gilded Age mansions that dot this part of the country was John Foreman. Through his own blog, Big Old Houses – a masterpiece of passion for architectural detail and arch social observation – and through his columns for the shallow but undeniably compelling New York Social Diary. Writing these elegant threnodies was obviously a real labor of love. I’m going to miss them. A lot.

###

As far as I’m concerned, televisions should be reserved for watching real TV entertainment like The Shahs of Sunset and The Real Housewives of New York. So, I didn’t watch the Democratic debate last night. Instead, I kept my eye on The Guardian’s live blogging updates. And read the transcript this morning.

To my mind, Bernie killed it.

Though, of course, I have a big ole rumpled Socialist Newfie in that fight.

So strongly agree with this:

SANDERS: … All I can tell you is, with a huge deficit, with 47 million people living in poverty, with our inner cities collapsing, yeah, I do think countries like Germany and U.K. and France and European countries whose economy, or at least its standard of living and health care and education, they’re doing pretty well.

So I would not be embarrassed as president of the United States to stay to our European allies, you know what, the United States of America cannot just support your economies. You got to put up your own fair share of the defense burden. Nothing wrong with that.

---

Also thought HRC’s attempts to corner Sanders on gun control were reee-DICK-you-lous. Really, Hillary? You wanna sue gun manufacturers and sellers for legally selling guns? Because, you know, they can already be sued for selling illegal weapons or for selling weapons without a state-mandated background check.

If I go rogue and start mowing people with my trusty 2003 Saturn, survivors will not be able to sue General Motors. If I decide to smother L in her sleep, L’s children will not be able to sue Temperapedic (the pillow’s manfacturer) or Walmart (the pillow’s distributor.)

But wait! There’s more! I also agree with Sanders’ analysis of Israel and the Palestinians!

###

I can’t actually vote for Sanders in the upcoming primary, by the way. That's because I’m not a registered Democrat. New York’s Democratic Party has some of the most restrictive rules in the nation, designed to maintain the status quo by essentially disenfranchising anyone who takes time to mull through candidates’ positions. New York is a closed primary. You would have had to register as a Democrat for the 1st time some time in late March to vote, and if – like me – you were registered as something other than as a Democrat, you would have had to have changed your party affiliation back in October 2015. Which was waaaaay before I felt the Bern! Which was back when I figured Hillary Clinton could continue to do her Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf laugh routine with Slick Willie very effectively without my support, thank you very much!

I suspect Sanders has more supporters than HRC in this state, actually. The majority of voters here are Independents. But I think most Sanders supporters are in the same boat as me.

Tant fuckin' pis.

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