Go and do likewise
Buy the book people are saying "made me feel like shit."
Mark your calendars for July 7 in New York for an event with me and some pals. It's gonna be a whole thing.
Today Max Collins returns for the second installment of The Advice Column Written by the Guy from Eve 6 Formerly Known as Heart In a Blender. We definitely have to come up with a catchier title than that.
I saw a tweet yesterday that said the defense fund for the subway strangler had raised $1 million on GiveSendGo (the Christian crowdfunding site) and you know what I thought? I thought huh that's not that much all things considered. All of the things considered in question being the absolute moral depravity of this nightmare country. Only $1 million! Not bad!
Then I looked again this morning and it's almost up to $2 million now and then I read that the site had crashed for a while because so many people were trying to get on it at once to throw money at him.
Here's the top donor in case you're interested. This fucking guy man I swear to god.
Among the other high profile fascists that shared a link to the fund were Ron "Mr. Never Going to be President" DeSantis. He tweeted "We must defeat the Soros-Funded DAs, stop the Left's pro-criminal agenda, and take back the streets for law abiding citizens. We stand with Good Samaritans like Daniel Penny. Let’s show this Marine... America’s got his back."
It's been a while since I've read the Bible (just kidding I'm Catholic we don't read the Bible) but I don't remember the story of the Good Samaritan ending with him strangling the traveler to death. I do remember what Jesus said after recounting the tale though:
Go and do likewise.
Couple the rush to stand behind Penny (much like we saw them do with Rittenhouse and Zimmerman before him) with things like Greg Abbott in Texas pledging to pardon the confusingly named Daniel Perry (also a former troop who killed a protestor in the summer of 2020) and any one of a number of violent right wingers Trump has lauded as heroes and we're seeing what has long been the implicit way of thinking from American conservatives said more directly:
It should not be illegal for people on the right to harm people on the left.
Be they protesters against police violence or Black people or migrants at the border or homeless people or trans people or those who align with them like you and me.
It's not just that they don't think right wing violence should be prosecuted they also think it should be lionized. And it's not just the actual right who thinks this it's the functional right like the New York Times and most of the media.
Do you ever think about this? How if you were to become the victim of a newsworthy violent crime at some point how your public statements on social media or say in a newsletter would be reverse engineered into meaning that you had it coming all along? How many snivelling little twenty follower bluecheck worms would be posting crying laughing emojis about how you had once tweeted "defund the police"? Maybe that's just me.
“It’s pro-criminal, it’s anti-hero,” Fox News' Greg Gutfeld said the other day about the charging of Penny.
"'Subway Superman' Daniel Penny is a HERO," Matt Gaetz tweeted. "Today, I will personally be donating to his legal defense fund on GiveSendGo."
It's pointless to obsess over how the right is once again perverting the meaning of Jesus' teachings because perverting the meaning of Jesus' teachings is like their main thing. Responding to them like "uh excuse me you have gotten that allegory wrong sir" is weenie shit. Like correcting a typo on a post about how the death camps are opening.
They don't care and their audience doesn't care. They do not give a shit and they do not give a fuck if what they are saying doesn't make sense to a reasonable and kind person. The point is to bury us under so much bullshit that we spend so much of our time arguing with technicalities and appealing to referees who do not exist that we are crushed under the weight of it all and either go mad or say fuck it and give up.
That said I do think it's worth at this precipitous moment to drill down to the specific part of the story of the Good Samaritan they are broadcasting to their audience when they celebrate vigilante violence from the right. It's the thing Jesus said at the end:
Go and do likewise.
Speaking of how we treat migrants look at this fucking shit. And speaking of Jesus Christ... Jesus Christ.
Rest of World reports:
With the end of Title 42 on Thursday, hundreds of migrants are now stranded between the walls of the U.S.-Mexico border — unable to cross into the United States but unwilling to venture back into Mexico. Some of these migrants have been stuck in this liminal space for over a week, sustaining themselves initially on the food and water given out by the U.S. authorities and volunteer donations. This week, many of them have begun resorting to ordering food via delivery apps from the Mexican side of the border.
On the Tijuana and San Diego border, where migrants are stranded between two of the three walls that separate the two countries, deliveries are being handed off through the gaps in the wall. Rest of World came across at least 10 delivery drivers along the Mexican side of the border wall, all servicing trapped migrants.
Starving migrants left to rot at the border is bad enough. We know this is happening. We try to pretend it's not but we nonetheless know that it is. It would be hard to make that worse and yet... Barely scraping by themselves gig workers delivering them food through the cracks in the wall? That's the extra dystopian flourish that makes this country the best at what we do.
This isn't related but it is. There was some discourse on Twitter over the weekend about having children in a world like this so I was reminded of this piece of mine.
People should do whatever they want vis a vis children in my opinion and no judgment from me but this is how I feel basically:
In the doctor’s office I was trying to find out if it was too late for me to bring a child into the world at this point in my life and I guess it technically isn’t via what happened when the cum doctor looked at my cum under the microscope and said it’s perfectly normal cum but I don’t know if this is the type of world or country I can feasibly wrench a soul out of the void and drag them into. Sometimes I feel bad if I invite someone to like a party or a show and they don't end up having a good time so I can’t imagine what it feels like to do that to someone only it’s everything they ever have to do and experience in their entire life however long it might last. Sorry! Hope you had a nice time.
Alright I'm tagging in Max now. Today's letter is about one of the other main pastimes in America besides killing people: getting scammed.
After that stick around for a poem and song of the week plus a great reader letter in response to this recent Hell World about the parallels between how we treat gun violence and our collective decision to treat Covid as over and done with.
If you like what you read here chip in to keep it going.
The Advice Column Written by the Guy from Eve 6 Formerly Known as Heart In a Blender
Hope you're well! I really love what you're doing. I showed my wife your latest column and she couldn't believe how profound the heart in a blender guy could be. I just wanted to reach out and share my story of recently getting scammed on LinkedIn, because I think it would be really helpful for people who either a) think it could never happen to them or b) have a ton of shame about the fact that it happened to them.
I've had pretty severe mental health issues for most of my life (OCD, anxiety, depression, accompanying substance use, no big deal) and have been reading a lot about the potential for psychedelics in helping to treat these along with PTSD and whatever else. Even though I've had pretty good outcomes in life (good career, fulfilling marriage) there's a level of everyday misery that I would do a lot to get rid of, and I had just gone through a series of layoffs at work that had me in an already vulnerable state. I came across a post that a mutual on LinkedIn had liked offering safe psilocybin access in my home state, which had recently decriminalized it, and DM'd the poster to learn more. The person I talked to gave me a really compelling story about their own mental health struggles and the way psychedelics helped them, which ultimately got them into this business.
After a couple of days of back and forth, I agreed to buy a mushroom infused chocolate bar and sent $100 via Western Union (first red flag!) to their cashier. After this was flagged for fraud by Western Union I reached out to the person I was dealing with and said this seemed really sketchy. Their strategy at this point was to tell me that I was just giving in to my anxiety and that I needed to have a healthier attitude, which totally worked on me, and I lied to a Western Union agent on the phone in order to make the transfer go through (you can see where this is going). A day after the money goes through, I get an email from a shipping company saying that I needed to pay them $250 in refundable insurance to cover "discreet shipping," and that if I don't pay they will impound my package and call the police. At this point I have no illusions about what's going on and stop engaging, but when I don't pay they start sending me escalating emails and phone calls that even threaten my kids (we don't have kids). It turns out that this is something called the "DEA scam" and it's pretty common, but it really sucks to have my mental illness weaponized against me so obviously.
I never thought I was the kind of person who would get scammed, and if I hadn't already been in a vulnerable state maybe I wouldn't have, but the message I really want to get across is that it truly can happen to anybody. These people are real pieces of shit, they will seize on any weakness you expose, and contrary to popular belief it's not only the greedy and stupid who can get taken advantage of by con artists.
Your good mutual,
That really sucks man. I’m sorry that happened to you. I’m a fellow OCD-haver, and when it’s bad, man, I would eat glass to make those thoughts stop. It’s such a distinct type of suffering. I prefer almost all of the other kinds of suffering on offer over it. I have the version where you obsess about the possibility, however remote, that you may have inadvertently hurt people. I’m medicated for it and I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to get enough therapy to make it manageable, but it still rears its head from time to time. I don’t blame you for a second for wanting relief such that you maybe jettisoned some of your better judgment here.
While we’re on the topic of scams I’m just going to briefly touch on the scam behind the scam here so that this doesn’t turn into too much of a political screed. Also I’m not writing this column for Buzzfeed anymore, this is Welcome to Hell World baby, and you guys already know this stuff.
Our healthcare system and (buzz term alert but please indulge it for accuracy) late capitalism writ large allow these cottage fraud industries to thrive don’t they? They have a symbiotic relationship. The people who did this to you suck shit, but they will never suck as much shit as the civilized and law abiding politicians, lobbyists and CEOs whose job it is to scale the business of profiting from human suffering. If healthcare were a right in this country, and not a luxury available primarily to rich people, you would have been able to get the treatment you need for free and the person who ripped you off would be out of a job. These lower level scams are made possible by the far bigger insurance industry scams, which in turn benefit from lower level scams by selling us more insurance.
The last thing I’m going to do is tell you to have sympathy for the guy who used your mental illness to extort you, but I do sometimes think about the people who find themselves in that line of work. Did they try other occupations and couldn’t make ends meet so they decided to give the fraud business a go? On a scale of zero to ten how much guilt do they feel about it?
I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday who’s acutely miserable at his job. He works nine hours a day doing soul sucking work to make just enough money to cover his bills. No savings. No retirement. On the weekends he’s so tired he just wants to sleep, and then Monday comes again. Other friends of ours who are in situations where they’re cushioned from the realities of American life say he’s just depressed and he needs to get help for his depression, and it’s like, ok yeah, but his depression is downstream of his shitty life. His shitty life is the causal factor here, not the depression. Are there things he can do to mitigate his feelings of despair? Yeah. He doesn’t really have the time or money for them though.
Listening to him talk, I literally caught myself fantasizing about extrajudicial ways for him to get above water. His Heisenberg option. A way to game his circumstances so he can stop wanting to die all the time. Like I said, fantasizing, and when I caught myself doing it I immediately felt very silly.
Scams like the one you got got by are extremely common. According to the FBI's annual internet crime report people were scammed out of $10 billion in 2022, which was a jump from $6.9 billion the year before. (You can probably guess what bullshit trend none of the celebrities are talking about anymore aided in such a big jump).
I got scammed once. Or maybe defrauded is the more accurate term. It’s a pretty gnarly story with one of those exceedingly rare happy endings so I’ll tell it. In 2013 someone hacked into my email and wrote to my former business manager as if they were me, asking for $30,000 to be transferred to an obscure bank in the UK. My business manager sent the money without a phone call to me or any due diligence whatsoever, even though I’d been with them for 15 years and had never made a request like that. Now, that $30,000 was money that I had gotten via a crowdsourcing campaign for a solo record, most of which was to be used to pay the producer, mixer, and players on the record, and to fulfill various pledge tiers. For instance printing vinyl and CDs, t-shirts etc. The money was now gone.
When I learned that this had happened I was freaked out, but I also thought my business manager and bank must have insurance for this kind of thing. My manager was negligent, and the bank acted on a forged signature, I’m sure they’ll make this right. When I got my business manager on the phone though I quickly realized he didn’t see it that way. He said since it was my email that was hacked it was on me.
My first daughter was just a few months old at the time. Lack of sleep made my mind run wild with worst case scenarios. Money was already tight. Now I was facing the probability that I wouldn’t be able to pay people for their work or fulfill the pledge agreements as promised. Everyone I talked to told me to accept that the money was gone and I wasn’t getting it back.
Except one guy. A friend of my dad’s called me up and said here’s what you do: You set up a phone call with your day to day manager and the head of the firm. On this phone call you are to say one thing and one thing only and that is “I need to be made whole by Friday.” No matter what they say to you you just repeat that line.
This sounded completely ridiculous to me but I was out of options, so that’s what I did. I got them on the phone. It was probably about a ten minute call, and the only words I said were “I need to be made whole by Friday.” To which they would say things like “Unfortunately that’s not something we can do.” To which I would say “I need to be made whole by Friday.”
Toward the end of the conversation the head of the firm said “You’re talking like you’re going to sue us.” Again I said "I need to be made whole by Friday.”
I finally hung up the phone. Less than one minute later I got a call from my manager. He was either pretending to cry really well or he was actually crying. I think it was probably the latter, although it was probably more out of fear of a lawsuit than contrition. He apologized profusely and admitted the firm was in the wrong. Within a few days they had paid me back half and the bank had paid me the other half. Then I fired them.
I’ve kind of gone on a tangent here but thankfully you didn’t ask for advice. It’s funny because my friend I mentioned above felt better after our talk precisely because I didn't try to make him feel better. I just listened and told him I heard him and that I don't think he’s maladaptive for having a natural response to, for lack of a better term: what is. I did tell him to try to make time to get in the water though because we grew up swimming competitively and swimming laps is the closest thing I’ve found in sobriety to a magic bullet. When I get out of the pool I have a new brain. Somehow simultaneously takes the fight out of you and gives it to you at the same time.
I want to thank you for sharing your story. Don’t feel ashamed for wanting to feel relief, or for giving people the benefit of the doubt. Also if you’re open to setting up a Gofundme for psychedelic therapy I would personally be happy to donate to it and share it from our Twitter.
Meditation at Lagunitas
by Robert Hass
All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.
A reader writes in about this recent Hell World.
Hey man, I just read your piece about going out in public with all the shootings. I wanted to share this, and I hope it doesn't land as whataboutism.
The trauma of looking at everyone as a potential mortal threat to you is real. The trauma of realizing that those in power are cool with profiting from your violent death, but will do nothing to stop it, is real. As is the lasting damage, the unfolding wound, the persistent infection of the experience.
To those of us still trying to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from Covid, this is the whole world now. This is 95% of people now, including our friends and family and employers. For us, everyone not in a mask is armed, popping off shots, and FURIOUSLY entitled to their right to do so regardless of the consequence. All we can do is put on a mask and hope it stops enough bullets. Everyone is vulnerable to actual bullets. Everyone is also vulnerable to Covid and 10,000 people aren't being newly shot a day.
The feeling that we share with those who fear gun violence is that, deep down, we know no one in power cares. And what a toxic realization. Does that mean we're worthless? That's it's really our fault? That we deserve it for not “fighting harder” before now? The violence of Covid isn't a dead little girl in a bush. It's a six year old girl at a school who died of a “severe infection” in Detroit, then they closed the school for a ONE DAY WIPE DOWN against an airborne virus and sent everyone back. No masks. No tests.
Soft and quiet.
Guns are hard and loud. Thanks to many Massachusetts residents who happen to be administrators for the CDC, NIH, and hospital chains, Covid is now soft and quiet. It undercuts efforts to fight anything else. Including the fight to disarm.
Given which demographics suffer the most as a result in each situation, if the embrace of/apathy towards gun violence is embodiment of white male aggression, then the embrace of/apathy towards Covid violence is that of white women. Hard and loud, soft and quiet, same results.
Thank you for giving and caring so much. I know how it hurts. Be as well as you can.
Masking is love,