Back when nothing was bad

Back when nothing was bad
Sea and Sky?, English Coast, c.1830–45, Joseph Mallord William Turner

I do not want Donald Trump to be president. I shouldn't have to say that but I'm seeing a lot of those sorts of accusations being tossed around again at the infamous and dastardly online left. (A group which is as always both an all powerful cohort capable of losing an election for Democrats as well as an insignificant nuisance whose demands can be safely ignored.) The thing is because I really do not want Donald Trump to become president I want – like I did in the past three elections – someone who I think can beat him soundly. I did not think Joe Biden could last time and I was wrong. Maybe I will be wrong again this time. Hopefully I will be wrong! How nice it will be to have been proven once again wrong.

It appears at this point that Biden has decided he isn't going anywhere and the brief swell of defiance from elected Democrats and donors seems to have mostly subsided aside from anonymously quoted expressions of concern.

“Joe Biden is our nominee," AOC said yesterday. "He is not leaving this race. He is in this race and I support him.”

Now all Biden has to do is not eat shit again in public for four months. Maybe he can pull it off. What a thing that will be if it turns out to have been true. Everyone fighting for their lives and the future of the country just to scrape back to the status quo of one month ago. Back when nothing was bad.

Another thing they're trotting out lately is accusations of ableism and ageism against people who think the most powerful man in the world should perhaps be able to do his job outside of a few hours in the middle of the day. I will tell you this about aging: I would like to live in a country where all of our elders – every single one – have a home, healthcare, transportation, a social life, and if they still prefer a job they like. Is that something I can vote for? Because neither Democrats nor Republicans seem to want that.

I do not on the other hand give a shit about one old genocidal asshole’s legacy or pride which seems to be the only thing he cares about at this point.

I liked this Osita Nwanevua piece in The Guardian yesterday on the subject of Biden staying in the race as well as the overarching problems with the party itself.

It’s clearly difficult for Democrats to dislodge their most important figures even when political realities suggest that they should; all told, the Democratic party is best understood less as a political party organized to enact or protect specific policies than as a professional association committed to protecting its most valued members.

Until now, that included Biden. Years of disdain from the party’s leadership were set aside after he beat Trump in 2020 ⁠– while there was open conversation that year about the unlikeliness of a second term, no one in the party wound up pushing seriously for a primary or a replacement even as his poll numbers slid and questions about his health emerged. It became clear that Democrats would only topple him in an emergency. After his debate performance, he finally presented them with one. And part of the alarm now gripping the party stems from the realization that Biden’s state might cost the seats of moderate Democrats in Congress, who may have to spend their campaigns parrying questions about his health. On Tuesday, Jared Golden, a Maine Democrat in a district Donald Trump won by seven points in 2020, published an op-ed in response to Biden’s debate performance saying he’d be fine with Trump winning the election. “Unlike Biden and many others, I refuse to participate in a campaign to scare voters with the idea that Trump will end our democratic system,” he wrote.

Golden will remain a Democrat in good standing. They need him, vital as candidates like him are to the Democratic task of securing safe, stable and comfortable majorities that achieve as little major policy change as moderates can manage to constrain them to. The Democratic party, in other words, tolerates figures like Golden because it’s governed less by vision than by fear. It was fear that put Biden over Bernie Sanders in the 2020 primary. It was fear that prevented a serious field of alternative candidates from mounting primary challenges against Biden. And it’s fear, swollen into a full-blown panic, that’s shaping the party’s harried actions and deliberations now.

Related to that idea of a party's vision – or lack thereof rather – this talk from a couple years ago by the late great David Graeber on radical centrism perfectly distills where we are right now and have been for a long time.

We're in the midst of another disgusting heatwave in Massachusetts and I can't tell if it's the type of heatwave that portends oncoming climate catastrophe of if I'm just forgetting what summer is. I'm also still dealing with this mysterious stomach pain that's been going on for well over a month now which I wrote about here:

I can’t do it
Today the great Jim Ruland joins us to write about seeing Dead & Company at The Sphere and Devo at Punk Rock Bowling on back to back nights in Las Vegas. You’ll need be a paid subscriber to read that one down below or you can jump to it here: Suburban

I remember hearing stories all the time when I was younger about how Kurt Cobain suffered from stomach pain and how that played a big part in his addiction issues and then his death and I used to think sometimes huh how bad can chronic stomach pain actually be? Bad enough to do that? I guess I'll find out.

Last night as we were getting ready to fall asleep we had to jump out of bed and start fighting off dozens of tiny little red spiders that had apparently gotten in through the cracks in the window where the air conditioner is.

After we thought we'd done a good enough job fending off the invasion I laid my head down and felt something on my arm and in the faint glow of the laptop screen there it was. Back up out of bed for another round.

I was reminded of this short story of mine:

The Harvest
This story appears in my forthcoming book A Creature Wanting Form available for pre-order presently. What is that she said and he didn’t immediately answer so she said it again. What is that she said this time like a drum beat what is that kick snare crash and not
Yeah so bugs getting into my mouth is one concern of mine he said. I don’t mind swallowing a small bug he said. Often when I go for a run some little kind of flying guy will bungle into my open gasping mouth and it’s always a tough call whether to gag it out or to just say fuck it and swallow. It depends on how much moisture you have and at what point in the run it happens. If you’ve been sweating for forty minutes you don’t have saliva to spare. But I don’t like the idea of swallowing a bug that might not die instantly on the journey you know? Like an action hero bug or a spaceship type of thing where they navigate my esophagus and emerge covered in my slime and want revenge.

That could happen she said. You probably do eat spiders when you sleep. I’m not as afraid of spiders because their populations tend to be like normal. I just don’t like things that can infest. It’s about control but I think it’s normal to not want that.

I’d say that’s very normal.

Remember when we ate all those crickets in Mexico she said.

They were surprisingly good!

They were pretty good but I think it was like the whole thing of it. Being somewhere else and not wanting to not try things she said.

I have no right to complain about anything though. I am still going to but I have no right to.

I just read this piece in Mother Jones.

We’re hearing about people having their legs or arms amputated without anesthesia. It’s devastating. We try our best to find alternatives, but I don’t know what else can be done. 

Some children think that their legs might grow again. This is one of the saddest things that we hear on a regular basis, when talking to children. They tell us, we’re waiting for our legs to grow again. Sometimes, it’s difficult to explain that that’s not going to happen. 

"Some children think that their legs might grow again." Jesus Christ.

On Sunday we drove up to the north shore to visit friends and went to watch a cover band play Doobie Brothers and Beatles songs in the park. I had my first swim in the ocean which is pretty late in the season for me and I walked out into the water with our friends' daughter who is maybe five I don't know how to tell how old kids around that age are and she reached out for my hand and we waded out laughing about how cold it was but determined to go in anyway and there was a family of ducks swimming a little further out and she said we should go swim out to the ducks and try to catch them but I told her that it was too far out for us to reach them. We couldn't swim fast enough to catch up I said and she didn't believe me and then we walked back to the shore and dried off and I thought about a video I had seen earlier that day.

How was your 4th though?

I opened up this story from last year for anyone to read the other day. It had been for paid-subscribers. It's about cookouts.

A whole thing of pasta salad
A whole thing of pasta salad in the heaviest bowl you’ve ever seen on a weak fold out table. The tinfoil half on and a wooden spoon poking out. Penne, lemon, olive oil, red wine vinegar, cherry tomatoes, green pepper, red onion, cucumber, kalamata olives, flies buzzing around, feta wilting

It starts like this:

A whole thing of pasta salad in the heaviest bowl you've ever seen on a weak fold out table. The tinfoil half on and a wooden spoon poking out.

Penne, lemon, olive oil, red wine vinegar, cherry tomatoes, green pepper, red onion, cucumber, kalamata olives, flies buzzing around, feta wilting in the sun.

A greasy paper plate with the light blue trim resting hell-blackened burgers and charcoal dogs no one else as of yet has been shameless enough to poke their beaks into.

Lemony bug spray sweat on the back of your neck.

A 64 oz bottle of Heinz ketchup standing like a sentry. One or two of the fancier mustards unopened.

Across the yard everyone else’s kids are all zooming around like low altitude dog-fighting airplanes. Squealing and without fear. Fearful of the wrong things rather.

No one is looking your way.

Eat it.

Eat it all.

Do it.

The napkins have breached containment. Being carried off on the wind like the leaves of a torn hardback meant for a dwindling fire. You could go run after them.

I know times are tough and a lot of people can't afford to subscribe at the moment and that is totally understandable so if you are a person who can afford it please do. I appreciate the support.

I thought this piece in Worcester Sucks on how every traffic fatality is a choice was good. It concerns a thirteen year old girl who was recently killed on the kind of city street that should not exist.

This City Kills Children
Who’s really to blame for the social murder of a 13-year old girl?
We typically think of these kinds of incidents as unavoidable tragedies, but let’s call them what they are: Murders. Gianna Rose Simoncini was killed as a part of a vast conspiracy that has resulted in the premeditated murder of thousands. Planners, engineers, and politicians designed a system of roads that, for the sake of cars, made pedestrian deaths permissible. This kind of capricious negligence has a name: social murder (more on that later).

Belmont Street is a road designed to kill, mixing a high-speed, multi-lane traffic artery with a local access street. It’s a six lane monster cutting through the heart of the city, designed to get residents to and from Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and other Shrewsbury businesses as quickly as possible. The term for these kinds of thoroughfares is stroad: not quite a street, not quite a road. Stroads are often noted for their high speed limits and lack of safety features, such as traffic calming measures, adequate street lighting, and crosswalks. In a tweet, Bill Shaner was quick to point out the half-mile distance between crosswalks where Gianna was killed.

For more on that subject you should read There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster—Who Profits and Who Pays the Price by Jessie Singer. I ran an excerpt from the book in here a while back:

Whether or not you die by accident is just a measure of your power
We have the resources. We have the means.
Across the United States, all the places where a person is most likely to die by accident are poor. America’s safest corners are all wealthy. White people and Black people die by accident at unequal rates, especially in those accidents where access to power can decide the outcome—the power to demand that your workplace is safe, the power to fireproof your home, the power to drive instead of walk. Accidents are not flukes or freak mishaps—whether or not you die by accident is just a measure of your power, or lack of it.

I also really liked this one by our man A.J. Daulerio in Flaming Hydra the other day about a pet crayfish:

Who’s your crawdaddy / Games over
Today: A.J. Daulerio, editor, journalist and the proprietor of The Small Bow; and Jonathan M. Katz, author of Gangsters of Capitalism, and The Racket newsletter. Issue No. 111 Consider the Mexican Mini-Lobster A.J. Daulerio When the Cheering Stops Jonathan M. Katz Consider the Mexican Mini-Lobster by A.J.
At 6 a.m. the next morning, I heard my 5-year-old daughter calling out my name, a faint sound of terror in her voice. I was groggy and disoriented, but then I heard my older boy explaining what had happened. “Dad, Chompy escaped.” 

I assumed they must have seen the empty tank and were upset. I got up, scratched my head, and prepared to tell them the sad news. Even though they didn’t like Chompy, they still considered him a pet. Death is never easy to explain to a child, but I was prepared to be a kind and compassionate parent just in case.

But when I walked toward her bedroom, I saw what she was so upset about—it was Chompy, briskly marching out of her bedroom. His antennae were waving wildly and his big claws were open. Chompy looked ready to fight.

“Dadddddddd! Come get him!!!” 

I went over and picked up Chompy from the back part of his tail. He tried to arch himself to snap my fingers, but I plopped him back into his tank before he could get to me. It had been more than 30 hours—how did he survive? 

This was real uncanny valley stuff. I would have been less shocked had I woken up and seen the dogs in the kitchen making eggs and bacon for themselves. But I learned my lesson and taped a piece of cardboard over the small opening. 

Two months later, Chompy escaped again. 

Long time Hell World readers might remember the crayfish that we used to have as a pet. A rescue crayfish. Not one of those fancy purebreds.

So that nothing is wasted in nature
Every day I think about untwisting and untangling these strings I’m in

RIP little buddy.

About a year ago Michelle was teaching a unit on crayfish to her third graders and so she went to the fish store or whatever the fuck it is and bought some and got the thing to put them in and set it up in the classroom and they were supposed to take care of them for the rest of the year. One of them came without any hands though so the rest of the crayfish turned on him I think it’s a him and they bullied him to the point that she had to take it out and put it into its own space. At the end of the year the rest of the piece of shit crayfish either died or were sent home with students I forget that part but now the one crayfish nerd lives at our house and it sits in a little aquarium where it has a fancy stone pineapple it hides in. After a while it grew its little pincher hands back. We dumped food into the water and it turned that food into new hands.

I just went to dump a few pellets of food into the water and he’s hiding in there and when he sees you coming he’ll scuttle backwards so fast it almost looks like he teleports from one spot to the next. Sometimes he sheds his entire skin and then we both go and look like wow what the shit and then we come back and it’s gone because he ate his whole ass other body. We call him Survivor and he’s very lonely although we talk to him sometimes and I have existential panic attacks some nights when we can hear him scraping against the walls of his prison and I hope very much that its tiny fucking brain is too small to understand the concept of hell because if not he might think he’s in it.

Crayfish unlike children can grow their limbs back.

Ok that's all for today. Here's your song of the week.

Partly Get By, by Horse Vision
track by Horse Vision