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I did absolutely nothing of any substance all weekend, I mean ab-zo-loot-leee nada! And felt very guilty about it, too, which detracted considerably from the mindless pleasure of nada.

I watched all 10 episodes of The Good Fight and liked them.

I watched a heartwarming movie about a woman and her bomb-sniffing dog, Megan Leavey. And cried. And thought about Milo.

I played The Sims for hours. I’m currently fleshing out the backstory of an autistic genius, so that’s taking up a lot of time.

I read two (count ‘em) biographies of Jerry Garcia and mused for a long time about what an altogether unpleasant little man he was albeit an extremely fine guitar player.

Really, one of the most fascinating things about Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead is that so many of us started out like that – going for adventures in painted buses, dropping vast quantities of acid, cramming together in rat-infested Victorians in the Haight. While a tiny fraction managed to turn that backstory into iconography, the vast majority turned it into failure.

Of course, “failure” is one of those words with no hard definition. I’m alive and in relatively good health two full decades after Jerry Garcia’s expiration date.

But I don’t have the money to plan a spree trip to Cuba let alone to maintain an aggressive heroin habit.

Isn’t that failure?

Can I mention here how much I loathe Jack Kerouac? And Ken Kesey? How I think On the Road and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest are two of the most over-rated books in the 20th century bibliotheca? Badly written and misogynistic.

Meanwhile, it’s summertime in the quaint and scenic Hudson Valley. I have to get out of the house by 8am if I want to go running since by 9am, it’s 80 degrees.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon sitting on a grassy bluff high above the river, occasionally looking up from my books to take a sip of water and take in this view:

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I’d forgotten the way that writing something in a single swoop feels exactly like doing cocaine. A cheap high!

Finished the piece around midnight. Texted it to B who turned out to be awake and so was able to spare me the hideous public embarrassment that comes when you confuse the Indy 500 with the Daytona 500.

Here’s the piece:

In the end, I went with three Trump Insurgency blogs simply because I could not force myself to read five. Piece could probably use some cleaning up, but hey! It’s fuckin’ Medium. It’s not like I’m getting paid or anything.

Overall, I’m not entirely displeased with it. My favorite line? He equates homosexuality with the types of developmental challenges that I believe only the March of Dimes is still referring to as “birth defects.”


B and I texted for an hour. The crassest, most politically incorrect jokes you can possibly imagine! That’s one of our secret bonds. Macron’s wife was his high school teacher, B noted. In America, that would have led to a multi-state manhunt!

The way God intended! I said.

Didn’t you interview Scott Adams once when you worked for People? he asked.

I did.

Damn, he said. It’s like missing a chance to kill Hitler.


But after we finished texting, I still couldn’t sleep, even though I was dead tired. I watched several back-to-back episodes of Medium on Hulu. Medium is one of my favorite old TV shows. Patricia Arquette as Alison Dubois is a dead ringer for my old Monterey pal Heidi, right down to the blonde bowl cut, the flat blue eyes, and the annoying whiney voice. Joe Dubois is the most perfect husband ever (even though Jake Weber, the actor who plays him – a Brit – does the weirdest American accent you can possibly imagine.)

I still couldn’t fall asleep.

Finally I swiped one of L’s airplane-bottle bonsais of booze, downed it in a single gulp. Spiced rum Ugh! The trick is to find something strong enough to knock you off that plateau of wakefulness. Alcohol works, though it always leaves me feeling disoriented the following morning: I’m not much of a drinker.

Woke up at 7:30 because it is impossible for me to sleep once the morning has lightened.

Now, of course, I feel completely out of it. It was almost too much of an effort to make oatmeal. I know, I thought. I’ll eat stale, tasteless chocolate chip cookies for breakfast!

(It takes three minutes to make oatmeal, and I hate chocolate chip cookies.)

But I must gather my wits together ‘cause the Scut Factory is calling my name. (Cue Tennessee Ernie Ford.)
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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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Every Day Above Ground

September 2017

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