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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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gm



Spent the first part of Mothers Day in a snit because the offspring were pretty late with those adulatory phone calls plus neither of them appears to have the slightest inclination to tattoo “Mom” in a big heart on their Popeye muscles.

###

Went running – and almost literally ran into Donnelly Paulson, himself running for the Dutchess County Legislature. Although, unfortunately, not from my district.

I suspect Donnelly spends so much time walking his dog on the grounds of the Vanderbilt Estate because he sees it as a way to connect with potential voters. He’s not shy about introducing himself: “Hi! I’m Donnelly Paulson, and I’m running for…”

When I encountered him yesterday, though, he was a bit shaken up.

“I’ve just spent 20 minutes talking to a couple of Trump voters,” he told me. “And they don’t seem to care one whit that Trump has broken practically every one of his campaign promises.”

I shrugged. “Even Nixon after his impeachment managed to maintain a 28% approval rating. You figure Trump’s gonna retain about 30% of his base no matter what. They didn’t vote for him because of his campaign promises. They voted for him because he pisses off the right people. They voted with their middle fingers, you might say.”

Donnelly shook his head. “I just don’t understand it.”

“Well,” I said. “You can’t afford to alienate them. Just because they voted for Trump doesn’t mean they won’t vote for you. In local elections, people tend to vote for candidates they know and like personally. Politics is really secondary. Most people know Jack Shit about local issues.”

Indeed.

Donnelly is waaaaaay hunky. Hunky to the point that were I 15 or 20 years younger, I might seriously entertain a crush. Tall, dark-haired. Did I mention tall? Tall! Looks a bit like George Mallory after whom my LJ is named. A social studies teacher at Poughkeepsie High School, which has got to be one of the noblest and hardest jobs ever invented.

In the evening, Pat and Ed invited me over for dinner. And that was nice, too. Excellent food, stimulating conversation.

So all in all, a good day.

Except at one in the morning, I woke up in a complete panic.

I was actually so freaked that I had to drink myself back to sleep, which is always problematic.

The panic seems to be revolving around my planning for my Memorial Day trip. Except there’s no reason for me to be panicking over my Memorial Day trip. I like Carol; I’m certain I will have a good time hanging out with her. I like Chicago; I’m certain I will have a good time hanging out there. Whistler’s Mother is back at the Chicago Art Institute! Plus Toulouse-Lautrec and Sunday on the Isle of Grant Jatte! And the Thorne dollhouses!

There’s some part of me, though, that’s getting more and more and more reclusive. Like really, I’ve got my living space configured precisely the way I like it, so why should I ever leave?

I suppose that’s the part of me that’s raising all that fuss at one in the morning.

Tribes

May. 28th, 2016 09:09 am
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We spent Thursday night at Amy’s house. Amy is a friend of BB’s sometime-lover Carol. I could imagine Amy in Huguenot garb being arraigned in front of an ecclesiastical court in 16th century France.

Amy is a high school chemistry teacher in the greater Detroit metropolitan area. “Ha-ha,” she said. “Yes. My students make a lot of Breaking Bad jokes.”

A few years ago, the local school board decided to make all high schools in the area college prep.

An insane decision: Putting kids on the college conveyor belt is only gonna increase the dropout rate. Not every kid benefits from going to college. Unfortunately, the American educational system offers very few alternatives that don’t leave non-college-bound students at a considerable disadvantage in their subsequent economic lives.

An insane decision, but a well-meaning decision. Or at least, so I assumed.

Amy shook her head. “No. A cost-saving decision. It is considerably more expensive to offer a welding class that teaches kids a skill than it is to offer a college prep class. In a welding class, the student/teacher ration has to be capped at 12 to one. In a college prep class, you can cram 40 kids into a one teacher classroom.”

Wow, I thought. Those smarmy, sanctimonious, self-serving, hypocritical assholes with their No-Child-Left-Behind bullshit.

###

This conversation continued to haunt me as we trekked deeper into the Mid-West.

Unlike many people who live on one of the Coasts where culture is ostensibly more sophisticated, I really like the Midwest. People are friendlier; personal style is actually a code and not a programmed response to the supplier-induced demand of superhumanly cunning marketers.

I’d initially wanted to tour Detroit because, you know – burned out buildings covered in graffiti and rat droppings mit attendant urban blight = Disneyland for moi. But the trip up I-75 as the sun was setting into polluted clouds was almost as good. Think Mad Max without the costumes and props. My personal nomination for the Darwin Award was a young man on a motorcycle careening 75 miles an hour while texting on his fucking phone. His girlfriend rode shotgun; they were both helmetless. Five minutes later, we saw this same guy apparently drag racing with a white Corvette. They were going about 100 miles an hour.

###

Carol, BB, and I got on very well. I was initially a little nervous about that because, you know, third wheel and all. But Carol is a really interesting woman – beautiful, brilliant, and intense – and BB, of course, was my brother in some recent lifetime, so we get along like close siblings, affection and the presumption of good faith overriding occasional squabbles. (I have a Sicilian temper, and I tend to explode when tired and overheated.)

BB is bonkers about Carol, and I can see why: They really mesh; they speak the same language. In some essential sense, too, they’re both far more generous in their notions of interpersonal relationships than I am: I don’t necessarily want exclusivity in my love relationships, but I definitely want primacy.

Carol also looks a great deal like Maria Wilhelm. When I analyze her face, it’s not a feature-by-feature resemblance, more a kind of overall stylistic similarity. They’re both an homage to the Uma Thurmond character in Pulp Fiction. The resemblance is strong enough, though, to make me want to avert my eyes from Carol in her physical presence: I'm afraid of staring.

###

WisCon itself is rather adorable. I did a few science fiction conventions back in the days when I was working for Charlie Brown at Locus, and I hated them.

More recently, Lucius took me to a Readercom in Massachusetts – I didn’t hate that one quite so much; in fact, I ended up having a really good time, but then, I was there with Lucius, so I got to sit at the Cool KidZ table.

Here, we’re dealing with a group of people, most of whom are marginalized in their ha-ha-ha real lives, who are coming together to be a tribe for the weekend.

I’m not a part of that tribe – in fact, I’m not a part of any tribe: I’m a social wolf; I have a deep aversion to social groups. My aversion is not necessarily relenting, but it is mellowing as I age: I can see the utility of tribes now, which I couldn’t see when I was younger. I can be moved by people’s tribal interactions.

I still don’t ever want to join one.

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