My problem is I still think things can turn around

Kingdom Come

My problem is I still think things can turn around

This piece originally ran on Popula a great site which you should read and support. More from me on civil asset forfeiture and police dogs and a few other things down below.

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Kingdom Come

Everything that rhymes is supposed to be true. Vote blue no matter who. That’s a poem and it rhymes but it’s also a kind of lie.

I used to have poems memorized. You can read that in the voice someone’s grandfather might use surveying a dead industrial town if you want to. A Doves song. An e-minor chord played with the capo on the 3rd fret. We used to build things here he says about the place with no jobs anymore but that condo developers nonetheless have designs on improving in their way. How a chef sizes up a hog suspended from meathooks. Good bones they say about those places like in the Maggie Smith poem everyone knows now but that I do not have memorized.

I have terrible bones personally. That’s not a metaphor. My actual bones are just kind of fucked now. A person’s bones get a little bit worse every year is how it works and you continue to lose additional pieces of the things you once had memorized. Your body and your brain fail in a kind of harmony.

I can find a few poems in the back of the drawer still if I rummage around. Occasionally when I’d go to the YMCA to swim in the before and I’d forget my bathing suit I’d dig through the lost and found to grab one but I can’t imagine doing that now. Any aspect of it.

One from Auden:

Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.

Something about flu infected cities in that one. Endings.

Gerard Manley Hopkins:

It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

That one was always easy to remember because it rhymed so simply and stupidly which I guess was the point of inventing rhyming in the first place so that we wouldn’t forget things.

Man the turn at the end of that Hopkins poem. All of our grieving for loved ones is actually about our own individual mortality. Surprise bitch!

William Carlos Williams too. Not that one though. Shut the fuck up about the plums. Instead if I try I can make it most of the way through:

the stain of love
is upon the world!
Yellow, yellow, yellow
it eats into the leaves,
smears with saffron
the horned branches that lean
against a smooth purple sky!

I scribbled those lines on my wall in the shitty Allston apartment I lived in when I was young with eight other people. There were maggots in the pantry and brown water pooled in the shower you had to stand in to get clean. I imagine I thought at the time that poetry would broadcast my interiority to girls a scheme that was just stupid enough it worked. Poems are for the young and for the old not people in the middle like me which is maybe why I don’t remember them anymore.

I think something is wrong with me but I also think it is the same thing that’s wrong with everyone so maybe it doesn’t matter.

We had one internet connection in that house I just remembered one telephone cord the length of a drooping power line that we shared dragging it back and forth from room to room in turns. A ghost’s chains. Imagine having to wait your turn to get online now? I don’t remember what I did the rest of the time back then when I couldn’t be online all the time I suppose I simply went out and moved my then still good bones around the world with ease and expected nothing to ever go poorly.

As I’m writing this they’re praising Kyle Rittenhouse for being a hero. Not just the crazy ones not just the ones that aren’t ever coming back but even some of the only slightly lost people. They’re turning him into a martyr and a celebrity and raising money for bail and legal services assistance and support that most people who commit far less serious offenses never receive. Kalief Browder was held without being able to post bail for three years for allegedly stealing a backpack and he was abused so badly he took his own life not long after getting out. I don’t think the defeat of Donald Trump is going to do much to stop that sort of thing that happened while Obama was in office.

Thousands of us are dying every day from a pandemic we barely even bothered to try to stop. No material help is forthcoming from our leaders who themselves cannot manage to go even five minutes without flouting what little in the way of proper safety protocols they’ve established. Inmates are being conscripted to shelve overflowing bodies into makeshift morgues outside of distressed hospitals for $2 an hour like warehouse workers during the Christmas rush.

We still can’t even come to a consensus on if any of this is real or not. Fox News right now the day before Thanksgiving is doing a segment on hydroxychloroquine.

There is no reason to expect any of this is set to change as Joe Biden is currently filling his cabinet with consultants and pharma ghouls and weapons profiteers and cop kissers. The left can’t even complain about any of this right now without being scolded due to the open enrollment period for criticizing Democrats already came and went almost instantly. I guess we’ll try again after the Georgia runoffs. Maybe that will be the correct time to ask for things to improve somewhat.

It’s always later. Deliverance will come. Just wait. It’s coming soon. Just wait.

This is an aside but I want to be one of these guys whose first instinct when you criticize Democrats is to immediately conjure reasons why they can’t be expected to do anything because of Mitch McConnell. “What are they supposed to do?!” type of guy. Walking around like that. It would be a freedom of a kind. To expect nothing better to ever happen.

My problem is I still think things can turn around. I don’t think they will but I think they can. Even now. I’d like to stop thinking like that but I can’t.

I read a story a couple of years ago about a man who we deported back to Mexico a country he was technically from but wasn’t from from and hadn’t been to in many years and a reporter caught up with him down there and he said he was taking it in stride as best he could and that he was saying his prayers saying the Lord’s Prayer every night and I think about that man a lot because I do that too sometimes due to I also suffer from the virus of Catholicism. Maybe that’s why I’ve always felt such an affinity for Mexico. The same magic spells vibrate in the air there that are lodged inside of my skull. A prayer is a kind of poem and a poem is a kind of prayer and in any case the point is that’s one I still definitely have memorized all the way through from stem to stern after decades of repetition so I can call it up in the middle of the night when I need words to overwrite the images I don’t want in there. I have a recurring nightmare where I’m dangling off the side of the building or a cliff or something like an action hero and I’m barely holding onto someone I love below me trying to pull them back up to safety but I can’t do it I’m not strong enough and they fall to their death I presume but it all blacks out before they land. You can’t be going around thinking about that type of shit at night so you need a poem or a prayer to force-quit your brain.

Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven

I don’t go to church much anymore but from time to time I’ll end up at one and I guess they changed the wording of the Lord’s prayer ever so slightly in the intervening years since I was a regular and whenever I hear it spoken differently it’s alien to me it’s like if you went to karaoke and found out they surreptitiously changed the lyrics to Don’t Stop Believing behind your back and they told everyone else but you.

Thy kingdom come. I think that means we’re supposed to be waiting for the kingdoms of Heaven and Earth to be joined together as one like a Comcast merger or whatever and this is as you can probably surmise even if you’re not Christian a very exciting proposition. We’re not supposed to just pass the time sitting on our dicks until that day though we’re supposed to be actively preparing ourselves for receiving God’s love which entails at least in my understanding of the poem living with compassion and forgiveness and taking care of one another. You can’t just set the oven timer and chunk a raw turkey in there and expect it to turn out deliciously you have to prep it and season it and stuff it with all manner of good things. All of that is the exact opposite of how we’re behaving during the pandemic which is how we’ve always behaved in America.

My god,
it takes an ocean of trust.
Takes an effort it does.

I’m thinking of Doves songs now since I mentioned them up there which was about an hour ago in my temporal frame of reference. Now it’s the next day. Now it’s a couple weeks later. Songs are poems too and poems are songs but we don’t think of them like that anymore. If you count songs as poems I suppose I have thousands of them memorized so I lied earlier and I’m sorry for doing that.

What’s next in the world to come? is what you asked me to write about.

The general consensus seems to be that we’re waiting for some ideal version of America to finally arrive and the thinking goes that the defeat of Trump the first bad president is supposed to have ushered us along on that path or at the very least forestalled the arrival of a much worse possible outcome but I don’t have much faith that any of that is true. I think that we are now in this cruel and unforgiving and merciless moment of unchecked violence and sickness and indifference to others the country we were always going to be and always have been no matter how many billions of prayers we’ve said to God or Thomas Jefferson or William Carlos Williams or John Prine or whoever. I think the ideal America is here now it’s a train we’ve been waiting to board that we’ve already been traveling on for miles we just didn’t realize it yet.

Here’s some other shit.

I am not sure I have ever heard of this fella or if I did and I’ve forgotten but apparently the discovery of this remarkably well preserved body in the 1980s was pretty big news.

Archaeology explained his whole deal in a post called Bog Bodies Rediscovered (which is also what I call it every time I have to get undressed after almost two years of Covid-induced stress eating and drinking.)

“Lindow Man lived in the first century A.D., and was a healthy person in his 20s. He had just had a haircut, and his well-manicured nails and smooth hands suggested he hadn't done much physical labor during his life. He had also recently eaten a meal—a grilled bran pancake that had burned while it was cooking—which he washed down with a drink made from mistletoe.”

Not a bad life it sounds like.

“Shortly thereafter he suffered two blows to the head, one of which drove a bone splinter into his brain. He was strangled with a garrote made of animal sinew that was still on his neck, two cervical vertebrae were broken, his neck was slashed across his jugular vein, and one of his ribs was broken, possibly from a knee pressing against his back. And then he, too, was thrown into a bog.”

Ah, well, nevertheless. I suppose that’s just how it goes sometimes. One minute you’re all fresh and clean eating a lovely grilled bran pancake and the next you’re being pummeled in the skull then strangled with a garrote made of animal sinew then having your throat slashed and being dumped into a bog.

This comment from a story in the BBC by University of Manchester Professor Anthony Jones was pretty funny I thought.

“We know he was killed by blows to the head, garroting, swallowing mistletoe and then drowning in the waters of the peat bog. But we don't know for certain why he was killed or whether he was willing.”

Workers in Buffalo voted yesterday to become the first unionized Starbucks location in the country. A second location unfortunately voted against while the results of a third are still outstanding pending some fucking around from the chain’s lawyers. Although it’s just one of roughly 9,000 stores it’s decidedly a cause for celebration especially considering the heavy union-busting and intimidation tactics the corporation engaged in.

“We are this company, and we’re standing here having succeeded in spite of everything that has been done to try and prevent this,” Michelle Eisen of Starbucks Workers United told the Buffalo News.

“Starbucks launched an aggressive counteroffensive to hamper pro-union sentiment, intimidate workers, and interfere with daily operations,” Vice reported. “The company held weekly mandatory anti-union meetings, temporarily closed unionizing stores, flooded stores with corporate executives, raised wages, and brought in Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, to give an anti-union speech to workers in a hotel ballroom, as Motherboard previously reported.”

Not sure how Howard Schultz and his real bizarre Holocaust analogy didn’t win them over.

Now I’d like you to read this paragraph from the Vice piece and tell me if you’ve seen a more accurate summary of the state of labor conditions in America in recent memory.

Workers say Starbucks has taken major steps to improve its relations with workers at the unionizing stores. Workers at one store complained about getting stung by bees from a beehive lodged in the store for months, but it wasn’t until they filed for a union election that Starbucks sent in an exterminator.

Only through solidarity will the bees the bosses conspire with to sting us be exterminated.

In any case congratulations to the Elmwood store workers for their efforts which at the very least now make them a more well organized outfit than the local NFL team. (Go Pats baby!!!)

Hey check out this real thing that is definitely possible.

Unless I’m missing the byline behind one of the 15 pop-up ads on the page this story blasted out to the USA Today network was written by nobody although we all know who it was really written by.

A dog that can find hidden electronic storage devices (ESD) is now working for the Tallahassee office of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement — the first such K-9 cop locally.

Rocket, handled by FDLE-Tallahassee Special Agent Aida Limongi, was introduced at a media availability Wednesday.

The 1-year-old black Lab can “sniff out anything that can digitally store information, like USB drives, hidden cameras, computers, tablets, thumb drives, cell phones, micro SD cards and SIM cards,” the department said in a release.

Here's how: The dogs can detect the compounds used in the circuit boards in storage devices. Criminals use such devices to hide evidence, such as child pornography images.

Again this is 100% possible and real and definitely not another way for cops to find yet another flimsy pretext to stop and search people who they suspect might be walking around with… cell phones.

Besides you’re not going to question a dog that trained with the dog that caught Jared Fogle are you?

Rocket was trained by Jordan Detection K-9 and has been on the job since Nov. 15, according to the agency. Jordan Detection, for example, trained the dog that cracked the child pornography case against Jared Fogle, the former Subway sandwiches spokesman.

Speaking of cop dog bullshit:

As CBS DFW “reports” in this police press release the “woman who owned the bag was not arrested, but the money was seized and police say it will be subject to the civil asset forfeiture process.”

So not only was this woman not convicted of a crime she isn’t even being charged with one and the cops are stealing her money anyway. Cute heckin pup though.

You probably know but in case you don’t this is all perfectly fine and very common under civil asset forfeiture laws.

“A Washington Post investigation documented that between 2001 and 2014, police seized at least $2.5 billion from people who were not charged with a crime,” the Post wrote a while back. “And a 2017 report by the DOJ’s inspector general found that since 2007 the Drug Enforcement Administration took at least $3.2 billion in cash from people not charged with a crime.”

I covered this a bit more in here a couple years ago.

Something else cops love to do besides beating their families and getting away with it is stealing money from people over nothing. Greenville News in South Carolina has been running a multi-part investigation into the routine practice of civil forfeiture through which police departments in the state enrich themselves by seizing money and property from people suspected of, not even convicted of, committing crimes.

“The investigation found that in a fifth of forfeiture cases in South Carolina, no one is convicted of a crime. In 19% of cases, there is no criminal arrest. Law enforcement seizes property from black people 71% of the time, with the overwhelming majority of cases involving younger black men.”

Some of the police they spoke with said the process was fair because the people could always go in front of a judge to get their property back and spend the money they no longer have on a lawyer but as they also found in the study that in 75% of the cases the police end up keeping all of the shit they take and in 19% people only get part of it back. In cases like this it’s not like a typical criminal trial instead the burden of proof is on the suspect to prove that they didn’t acquire the $500 in cash in their glovebox or whatever from criminal activity. The amount of money seized they found tends to be smallish amounts like that because… rich guys tend to be able to sue you and poor ones can’t.

Some of the other police they talked to cried about how hard it would be for them to do their jobs if they didn’t get to steal money all the time.
Clemson Police Chief Jimmy Dixon said if police didn’t get to collect forfeiture money, it would hamper the department’s ability to conduct long-term drug surveillance.

“It could potentially shut down our K-9 unit,” he said. “Overall, our ability to conduct undercover narcotics operations could be stifled.”

Lt. Jake Mahoney with the Aiken Police Department said they’d have to divert money from the budget to cover drug enforcement.

Greenwood Police Chief Gerald Brooks said it would “sharply curtail our drug enforcement activities.”The best response however came from a fella named Jarrod Bruder, the head of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association, who said the quiet part out loud.

Without being able to keep the money they take “what is the incentive to go out and make a special effort?” he asked. “What is the incentive for interdiction?”

Civil asset forfeiture is so fucking vile that it’s one of the rare issues with bipartisan opposition. Even the New York Post knows it fucking sucks and those people have zero moral compass and have never passed up an opportunity to kiss the strong policemen on the lips.

In fact a couple of legislators are trying to do something about it as the Washington Post reports.

“Because these laws often lack the bare minimum of due process protections, many of these operations are, in fact, trampling every major component of constitutional due process,” said Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), chairman of the House Oversight civil rights and civil liberties subcommittee. He co-sponsored, along with Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), the bipartisan Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act that would raise the level of proof the federal government needs before confiscating property. To blunt seizure inducements, it also would direct revenue from the seized property to the Treasury Department instead of to police agencies.

“Too often, civil asset forfeiture creates a seize-first, ask-questions-later approach and incentive,” said Rep. Nancy Mace (S.C.), the top Republican on the subcommittee.

Money is a major incentive for police agencies.

For more information please see this recent report Policing for Profit by the Institute for Justice.

Ok that’s all for today. Thank you as always for being here. Now look at this it’s one of the most important emo bands ever covering A Perfect Song.