Winning is For Losers

My wife and I have been trying to sell our house for the last 5 months. Actually, my wife and I have sold our house 3 times in the last 5 months, and each time, something untoward knocked the deal off the rails at the last minute. The first buyer had botched surgery that incapacitated him, the second had some kind of PTSD episode and refused to answer anyone’s phone calls, the third was torpedoed by an unhappy home inspector who had no idea how to properly assess an old house, and then stood on our porch and tried to scare the buyers into buying a monthly warranty, yearly warranty, and a bunch of other upsell crap—this after the house had received excellent inspections from 2 more experienced inspectors as part of the previous sales. So, if I were I believer in signs, I would say something is trying to keep us from moving. But I’m not. Still, we are left with the lingering feeling that somehow we failed, or that there is something wrong with our house. To the latter point, I should say that we really love our house, didn’t want to leave it, just wanted to go…
Read more

Sympathy and Justice

I went to my niece’s High School graduation a few weeks ago, watched as she and 715 of her closest friends sweated to Pomp and Circumstance, and listened to speeches about the future, and superheroes. Never having graduated from HS myself, it was an interesting spectacle, and also rather sad, everyone was trying so, so hard to make it an important and significant event, while also trying so, so hard to look they weren’t trying at all. Near the end, it started pouring, which was a nice reminder of our insignificance, so we huddled under a long bridge that led to the upper tier of seats. Several other groups of people huddled with us, albeit at an appropriate distance, following the tribes-should-not-mingle rule that comes clear during minor key huddling events. 8 or 9 meters down the slope, a buzz-cutted, workout-loving father and his 3 teenish children stood, watching people dash for cover. Up the slope came a woman with some sort of movement disorder who had decided, since she could not dash anywhere, she would just walk in the rain, along with her partner, a fairly overweight man with lots of hair. The whole family watched sideways as they…
Read more

My Not So Real Estate

We have been trying, my wife and I, to sell our house and buy another, which is, as anyone who has been through it knows, just about the most fun you can have without losing a limb. I suppose if one is stinking rich, it’s another easy thing floating by on a river of ease, but if you are stinking rich, you probably aren’t reading this. Actually, if you are not a bot tasked with dumping phishing links cleverly disguised as ads for fake Ray-Bans in the comment section of this site, you probably aren’t reading this, but in any case: we are trying to do the sell-buy two-step and it is not much like fun. The selling part is probably worse, since it involves keeping our current home as much like a hotel as possible, except a hotel where the sparse furnishings are your own, except that the furnishings are not really yours, inasmuch as you cannot treat, say, your coffee table with anything like the casual abandon that you did before, putting things like coffee cups on it, lest they spill, or books, lest they remind potential buyers of your disgusting presence in their dream home. Buying a…
Read more

You do unbend your noble strength to think so brainsickly of things

From last year’s model…   Pieces of Silver On the fifty-seventh Thursday of the month, we host a flotilla of sad-eyed immigrant children from the next township over and inculcate them with the values of the merchant class, the evolutionary principles under-girding the sort of life   they want, as their parents have not attained it and never will, hence the sad eyes. Each gets a gift bag stamped “share, with love,” containing a single, sturdy, high thread count oatmeal cookie, a scratch-off ticket, and a small note: “sharing is for pussies.”   Laugh at your own risk, sneer to drown the sound of your craving, we know better. We know where the profit fairy flutters to nest, we know how to look slim and golden, even after the hunt, even after your little Bakunins have done their sloppy best and delivered you to us. (From Kindness in Never Small, 2015)

Another poem from my next book

Another suddenly topical poem, from my next collection. Please join me at Rust Belt Books this Saturday at 3pm for beer and cupcakes and books books books! I Can Hear Her Bones Growing, or Cracking America always tries too hard, chewing with her mouth open, walking her huge, stupid dogs right down the middle of the street, letting them shit just anywhere. Like a trumpet solo in C sharp when C would do just as fine, thank you, like the idea of soloing in the first place, like Miles Fucking Davis, trying way too hard, trying to be cool while the veins in his neck and head swole up like a garden hose after the tap gets flipped and the water flows. She tries too hard and then says things like, “better to have tried too hard than not tried at all,” as though she was Caesar, prescribing the bounds of logic with a sweep of the hand. Laughing too loud, snorting, the guffaw is an American invention. I can’t do much more than say I love you, you big, goofy, toothsome girl, and how strange it is to feel older than one’s parent. I only hope that yours are the…
Read more

The Word “Broken” is Broken

After the recent DDOS attack that launched via the “internet of things,” I read that Anonymous might have been responsible. Turns out they were not, but it did remind me that Anonymous existed, and led me to their web page. The first item on that page was titled “The American Political System is BROKEN,” and to a screed about how the US should get rid of the “two-party system” and change to instant run-off voting. This led me to 3 conclusions: Anonymous is a group with radical means but not a radical agenda; Anonymous does not really understand how instant run-off voting would affect the two-party system; Anonymous, like so many other entities, uses the word “broken” when they do not understand how something works. It is the third item that concerns me most. I’m sure many of us have sat with a child and tried to show them how the toy they believe is broken actually works; I’m sure most of us have been that child. It is this meaning of the word—that is, the wrong one—that pervades the media universe these days. At the very least, people use “broken” to mean “a very complicated problem,” which is another…
Read more

Of course, it might be the Vril Society

I need to get back into the groove of daily writing, I have gotten away from the habit and was working more in spurts, which did produce some good work, but not enough. Writing every day helps mollify the obsession in ways that bursts of creativity cannot, though I should not avoid such bursts, of course, and must ride them wherever they lead. Daily writing also helps me sort my mind differently, since I do not approach the page with a pre-existing idea, project to work on, or even formal structure in mind. It is a bit like doing tai chi or yoga, in that it helps my mind be more supple, and stronger, though I don’t think “mind” is actually the right word here. Suite of ideas? Cognitive flow? Mind will have to do for now. The problem now is that I have too many things to say, they all want to come spilling out at once. So, I will choose one: I have been meaning to go back and read Hofstader’s “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” for a while, first when Donald Trump used said style to win the Republican nomination for President, and then even more…
Read more

Some housekeeping

I started this blog in 2008, after we moved from Atlanta, GA to Lockport, NY, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. A few months later, my wife challenged me to listen to all the CDs I owned (well, all the store-bought ones, not copies) and post them to the blog, and I seem to have lost track of that divine purpose, though I have been listening away. So, since the last time I posted CDs (July 2014! damn.), I have listened to: 822) Delicious Vinyl: Waxing Off: The First Decade; 823) Pedro the Lion: Control; 824) Bob Dylan: Desire; 825) Harry Nilsson: A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night; 826) Ladytron: Witching Hour; 827) Orb: u.f.orb; 828) Noi Albinoi: Slow Blow; 829) Dillinger: Cocaine; 830) Various: Quiet About It: A Tribute to Jesse Winchester; 831) Executive Slacks: The Complete Recordings; 832) Dntel: Life is Full of Possibilities; 833) Honky Hoppers: Standing Room Only; 834) Kermit Ruffins: Kermit Ruffins; 834) Brian Setzer Orchestra: The Dirty Boogie; 835) Space’n’Bass: Disc 9 and 10; 836) Swap Dogg: Cuffed, Collared, and Tagged/Doing a Party Tonite; 837) Das FX: Dead Serious; 838) Sue Foley: Without a Warning; 839) Howlin’ Wolf:…
Read more

More to thee than the economy

I read an interesting article in Jacobin about how children are increasingly seen as investments, largely because of the increase in income disparity–Erickson article. Jacobin can be a too strident for me at times, but this article (which is a condensation of a book, I believe) really rang true, at least in part because I see the same effect—the corporatization of culture—everywhere. I think sometimes I am overstating the case, seeing everything as a nail because I have a hammer, and then I find others who see the same insidiousness: “The young children of the wealthy are increasingly diverse portfolios of applications to private schools, enrichment classes, play dates, and nanny shares. These little Einsteins go on to attend prestigious high schools and Ivy League colleges. But it starts in preschool. A whole culture has risen around the cultivation of the child into a successful adult, equipped for the global economy. Its language is English plus Spanish or Mandarin; its literature is the mommy blog. Working-class children, on the other hand, are objects of suspicion defined by what is perceived, within the economic superstructure, as a lack — of high-enough test scores, of self-confidence, or the inclination and facility to self-regulate behavior. Childhood is…
Read more

Kindness is Never Small for Tod W. We were all born, for fuck’s sake, and we all saw through that con, but some of us figured the con was all, no way out, only fools thought otherwise, the ones at the other end of the cafeteria with spoons hanging off their noses. I was always enamored of the gallant dancers, aware of the terrible undertow   but just as ready to dance with the shades of Lethe, Maslow’s brood, because they were such willful cowards, did their weeping up in a nice, neat bow and spread their gifts about, always keeping tally, always ready to call in that favor, that time they simulated kindness and you bought it, you ass.   They were not my people, just ones I thought more clever than I. My people could not see around the con, imagine carrying a javelin around and every time you met someone, you had to explain why you carried it. Meeting someone else with a javelin, wow, there was nothing sweeter, and we forgave all kinds of things, and goddamn did they fly, when it came to that.