“I gotta get out of the house so fucking bad” vs “surprise bitch everywhere sucks and on top of that is potentially deadly now” remains a real pressing conundrum over here.
On this day in 1862 Donald Trump’s favorite general Robert E. Lee a guy whose love of losing battles and sucking shit came second only to his love of enslaving Black people had assembled his troop of dickheads outside of Sharpsburg, Maryland hoping to push into the north and win over recruits to his traitorous cause.
(Read more about Lee in this old Hell World here. “Lee hated black people so much that he refused at one point to exchange prisoners with Grant because the latter insisted Black Union soldiers be included in the bargain. He was such a great general he sacrificed the freedom of his men on the altar of white supremacy.”)
Unfortunately for the dumb fuck Lee someone had snatched a copy of his plans beforehand and so George McClellan and his Union troops were ready for the attack and thus the single bloodiest day in American history the Battle of Antietam began. By the time it ended later that evening there were around 23,000 wounded or bleeding to death in the cornfields and country roads crying and shitting themselves and dreaming their last thoughts in agony. It wasn’t the most people America killed in a single day mind you I’m pretty sure we bested that record in Hiroshima and Nagasaki but we don’t tend to count those when we’re tallying up the dead up in violence superlatives like this.
Although it was considered a stalemate the Union repelling the slaving rebels back into the south was a pivotal moment in the history of the country. It stopped France and Britain from stepping in and legitimizing the Confederacy as they had been considering and gave Lincoln a good opening to drop the Emancipation Proclamation which he did five days later.
I don’t know why I was reading about the Civil War this morning. I’m not generally a guy who thinks about the Civil War which is a very specific type of guy nor am I a guy who knows details about individual battles and what not. Maybe it’s because I finally at long last seem to have managed to blow up my relationship with my family over politics the other day adding my mother to the long list of people I’ve started regrettable drunken fights with this year. Oh I forget if I followed up the story about the MAGA neighbor I started shit with and thought was going to kill us for a while there with the news that we’re like friends now (?) and he brings over produce and shit all the time from the farm he works at. It’s a lot nicer than constant tension to be clear but at the same time now I gotta eat corn for like every dinner. Just bushels of corn all the time. I like corn as much as the next guy but still. Every time he brings some by he goes there’s no bomb in it don’t worry haha and I say I hope not haha.
Maybe it’s because I just saw a story that Department of Defense military police in D.C. considered using a fucking heat ray against protestors in Lafayette Park on the day Trump did his little doo doo walk bible stunt. In a discussion about whether or not to use it the military guys noted the weapon “can provide our troops a capability they currently do not have, the ability to reach out and engage potential adversaries at distances well beyond small arms range, and in a safe, effective, and non-lethal manner” by providing “a sensation of intense heat on the surface of the skin. The effect is overwhelming, causing an immediate repel response by the targeted individual.”
Previously our government had considered using the skin-cooking laser on migrants at the border in the lead up to the 2018 midterms.
It’s weird isn’t it that it occurs to us that the government microwaving citizens is somehow so much worse than just breaking their skulls and bones or blasting them with poison gas or shooting bullets at them but I suppose it is because it seems new and novel. Maybe some day it will seem old hat. Everything that is bad and new seems a worse type of bad and then once it becomes merely bad and old it’s easier to accept and that applies to types of state violence and also every single other thing done by this administration in general.
Or maybe I was thinking about Civil War because William Barr recently suggested to federal prosecutors that they consider bringing sedition charges against protestors and that he also floated bringing charges against the mayor of Seattle for allowing protests that he did not personally like to take place.
Or maybe it was this:
Incidentally today in 1787 was the day the Constitution became official or whatever when the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed it in Philadelphia which is good I suppose because the whole independence thing saved us from traveling down this dark timeline below resulting in the Most British Shit I’ve Ever Seen.
If you came across that shit in a derelict spaceship you’d be dead within minutes.
OH HOLD ON NEW PUP JUST DROPPED 2020 IS GOOD NOW
If you missed this paid-only Hell World earlier this week I went back to Boston for the first time in a while for a rally and noted how different it all felt.
It starts like this:
Say what you will about a devastating pandemic amidst a swelling civil rights movement but it’s certainly made finding a parking spot in Boston’s Back Bay a lot easier. It’s September further into September than seems natural it could ever be in this never ending March and the city feels something like alive. Not fully there mind you but like after you’ve been laid low and ill and someone comes in to check on you in bed and says oh it looks like you’re getting some color back in your cheeks.
The sidewalks were relatively crowded and people were jogging and the skaters were falling and getting back up and falling again in the empty fountain and couples were lounging on the grass in front of Trinity Church in Copley Square and if it weren’t for all the masks you might convince yourself it was any other beautiful late summer day in any other year.
There were to be clear decidedly fewer military vehicle convoys stationed along every block like the last time I was in this neighborhood earlier in the summer. Fewer bored troops dicking around on their phones protecting the silent empty streets and shuttered trendy shops from nothing.
Over in the park a crowd of a couple hundred were gathered for a “Rally for Black lives, Black voices and Jacob Blake” and a young band were playing a joyous and funky rendition of “Come Together” at the foot of the church. I had forgotten how the sun reflected off the towering Hancock building like a mischievous child’s magnifying glass and so I found shade on the grass and sat quietly and nodded as I caught strangers’ eyes in the way we do now and I read the signs and the words printed on people’s masks like “Good trouble” and “No tyrants” and “Pro-Black is not anti-white” and “Don’t drink bleach” which seems like it was probably very funny at one point when that was a whole thing people were talking about.
Also in that post I checked back in briefly with Bill Moro, the man who bowled a perfect game on 9/11. He’s doing well!
So I was up early reading accounts of the Battle of Antietam I guess is the point. I went to bed at 8:10 pm last night lol and while I’ve certainly been going to bed a lot earlier under covid that has to be a record for me. Wait what counts as the official time you “went to bed” is it demarcated by when you physically got into the bed or when you actually fell asleep? Scientists refuse to discuss this.
Here’s some of the letters and remembrances I read on the National Parks Service site about the Battle of Antietam.
- The force of a mini ball or piece of shell striking any solid portion to a person is astonishing; it comes like a blow from a sledge hammer, and the recipient finds himself sprawling on the ground before he is conscious of being hit; then he feels about for the wound, the benumbing blow deadening sensation for a few moments. Unless struck in the head or about the heart, men mortally wounded live some time, often in great pain, and toss about upon the ground. -History of the 35th Massachusetts Volunteers.
The Antietam Battlefield Visitor Center is closed due to the pandemic by the way which I thought added a nice little touch of temporal unnecessary death discordance while reading these.
- Under the dark shade of a towering oak near the Dunker Church lay the lifeless form of a drummer boy, apparently not more than 17 years of age, flaxen hair and eyes of blue and form of delicate mould. As I approached him I stooped down and as I did so I perceived a bloody mark upon his forehead...It showed where the leaden messenger of death had produced the wound the caused his death. His lips were compressed, his eyes half open, a bright smile played upon his countenance. By his side lay his tenor drum, never to be tapped again. -Pvt. J. D. Hicks, Company K, 125th Pennsylvania Volunteers John P. Smith, “History of the Antietam Fight,” in Scrapbook of J. P. Smith.
- In the time that I am writing every stalk of corn in the northern and greater part of the field was cut as closely as could have been done with a knife, and the slain lay in rows precisely as they had stood in their ranks a few moments before. It was never my fortune to witness a more bloody, dismal battlefield. -Gen. Joseph Hooker, Official Records (US War Dept), Series 1, Vol. 19, Pt 1, p. 218.
War seems pretty bad not going to lie. I know little of pain. At times in my life I have thought I did but I was wrong. Although last night I was eating some mesquite bbq kettle chips and I somehow managed to bite the inside of my cheek in such a way that two chips formed like the bread of a flesh sandwich and snapped down on the whole thing shredding my mouth so it’s not like pain is completely alien to me.
Someone asked recently on Twitter what comics to read and I just so happen to have been rereading some of the canonical shit when I get into bed very early all of which I am happy to say still holds up. I don’t want to recommend giving Amazon any more money than you have to but I did a free trial of the Kindle Unlimited thing and there is a ton of great stuff on there including collections of Sandman and Jamie Delano’s Hellblazer and Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol. One sort of jarring thing is that in all these titles they’ll have to fight like Lucifer himself in one issue then the next one will be just like someone’s uncle is a sad ghost so it’s sort of hard to keep the sense of the stakes at hand balanced!
Here’s a poem I quite like.
Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams
By Kenneth Koch
I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next
I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
and its wooden beams were so inviting.
We laughed at the hollyhocks together
and then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.
I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the next ten
The man who asked for it was shabby
and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.
Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
Forgive me. I was clumsy, and
I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!
And here’s a gorgeous and viscerally brutal song I like (h/t to my nephew Dan Ozzi’s latest newsletter:The best screamo releases of 2020.)
See you later buddy.