I appreciated this thoughtful interview with Arts Express WBAI NYC about my book. We talk mass shootings, Virginia Woolf, Donald Barthelme, The War On Drugs, climate disasters and poetry. Listen here.
Meanwhile I'm teaming up with a murderer's row of great writers to start a worker-owned media thing called Flaming Hydra that should be up and running early 2024. Read more about it here.
Elsewhere I chimed in with a number of other colleagues about music journalism in general and Gannett newspapers hiring a dedicated Taylor Swift reporter for Parker Molloy's newsletter. Read it here. I said in part:
Would I like it if bigger mainstream news outlets covered undiscovered music regularly again? Of course. I cannot believe there was a day when I would file a couple record reviews and live concert reviews in newspapers and magazines a week. We had no idea how good we had it. But now, as with so many other things, and how it has sort of always been in underground music, the answer to this consolidation is to look to the people who really care. There are so many countless DIY bands and DIY websites and newsletters and local scenes made by and promoted by people who really are invested in new and exciting music. People just might have to work a little harder to seek it out, but it's all still there if you want it. It always was.
If you didn't read this piece about Sofia Coppola's Priscilla by Rax King from earlier in the week I cannot recommend it enough. One of the best written pieces on here in a while.
Onscreen, Coppola renders, with her usual loving precision, a girl’s dissatisfaction. Priscilla rubs against her husband, kissing his earlobe. He doesn’t even put his book down. For days, she builds the courage to ask him if she can visit him on set, days she realizes were wasted when he gives her nothing but a careless no. She learns to abort her expectations. She wants, and doesn’t get; she learns to want less, and doesn’t even get less. It might be Coppola’s best film. In it, she gives her girl nothing — beautiful clothes, jewelry, cars, drugs, nothing.
I'm proud to have signed this letter along with hundreds of colleagues.
"We condemn Israel's killing of journalists in Gaza and urge integrity in Western media coverage of Israel's atrocities against Palestinians" it reads.
I'd like to highlight this part in particular:
We also hold Western newsrooms accountable for dehumanizing rhetoric that has served to justify ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Double-standards, inaccuracies and fallacies abound in American publications and have been well-documented. More than 500 journalists signed an open letter in 2021 outlining concerns that U.S. media outlets ignore Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Yet the call for fair coverage has gone unanswered.
Newsrooms have instead undermined Palestinian, Arab and Muslim perspectives, dismissing them as unreliable and have invoked inflammatory language that reinforces Islamophobic and racist tropes. They have printed misinformation spread by Israeli officials and failed to scrutinize indiscriminate killing of civilians in Gaza — committed with the support of the U.S. government.
Since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, in which more than 1,400 Israelis, including four journalists, were killed and some 200 others captured, these issues have compounded. News coverage has positioned the attack as the starting point of the conflict without offering necessary historical context — that Gaza is a de facto prison of refugees from historic Palestine, that Israel’s occupation is illegal under international law, and that Palestinians are bombarded and massacred regularly by the Israeli government.
U.N. experts have warned they are “convinced that the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide," yet Western outlets remain hesitant to quote genocide experts and accurately describe the existential threat unfolding in Gaza.
This is our job: to hold power to account. Otherwise we risk becoming accessories to genocide.
There have been 11,000 people killed in Gaza by Israel in the last month. Conservatively speaking. 180 children a day. 25,000 are lucky to have been "merely" injured. A couple thousand more are still trapped under the rubble. 70% of the population have been displaced. And right now our pie in the sky wish – our radical leftist hope! – is that this is as bad as it will ever get. How happy we'll be if it stops today. If those numbers stop getting bigger. What a victory it will feel like with only 11,000 dead.
And yet we can't even get more than a handful of American politicians to say the killing needs to stop right now.
Not even the supposedly progressive ones. Elizabeth Warren is out to dinner and doesn't want to talk about it. This bloodthirsty fucking oaf is waving around a tiny Israeli flag to mock protestors. When asked about the possibility of a ceasefire yesterday Joe Biden – good old Joe whose biggest asset is his empathy they say – said this:
"None. No possibility."
Instead we get half-assed shit like this. A four hour "humanitarian pause." Democrats even have to means test suffering.
We'll only bomb 20 hours out of 24 a day now they say (offer only valid in certain areas) to give people a chance to rest up before we start bombing them again.
What a sick fucking joke.
A mockery of the very concept of compassion.
An indictment of humanity.
Meanwhile many of us are busy arguing over a slogan.
Please do not say words that I have convinced myself mean future genocide while we're in the midst of doing one of our own as we speak.
Even if it were eliminationist language about Palestinians destroying Jews – which it is not – who could possibly be focused on that hypothetical right now when the reverse is currently happening? Right now. Not later. Today. A genocide is literally underway and we're supposed to be worried about one you made up in your head down the line?
When people say "from the river to the sea" is a call for the killing of Jews what they really mean is that they are terrified of a multi-ethnic pluralistic democracy where everyone can live side by side in peace. We brutalize these people so naturally they would do the same to us they think.
The echoes of American history and American present are obvious here.
American liberals easily understand the racism behind what Tucker Carlson and them mean when they talk about our country being overrun and spoiled by impure immigrants and so on. The belief that Palestinian freedom is necessarily synonymous with genocide against Jews is a branch of the same poison tree.
When the American right talks about the very identity of America being destroyed – our soul! our national myths! everything we were founded on! – by the demographics shifting from majority white Christian we very easily understand that for what it is.
Could it be that leftist Americans focus on Israel's crimes disproportionally at the expense of other atrocities? I don't know but it feels to me like when your child grows up to be a terrible person and you come close to a realization about what it says about you so you have to suppress it. Pretend you can't see what you brought into the world.
Or when you accidentally have the front facing camera on. Oh. Is that what I look like? That's me. After all that's me?
Israel is America they're just a lot smaller so it's easier to comprehend the violence all at once.
Sorry I'm having a hard time thinking straight after weeks of this horror.
Another thing I don’t understand is liberal American Zionists who rightfully despise Trump and don’t believe a word he says taking the fascist Israeli government at their word about a single thing. Trump wishes he was Netanyahu. Bibi is Trump’s final form.
I don't know.
Please let only 11,000 have been killed. Please let it top out at that. That seems a reasonable request. What a win only 11,000 dead will be.
And please God let only 25,000 have been injured.
I know I harp on this a lot but when we read about the number of people injured in wars (or in mass shootings in the US) I think a lot of people elide over that number in their horror calculus because being injured is better than being dead. We might think ah that's terrible what happened but I'm sure they'll be fine after a while. We skip ahead over the agonizing recovery and straight to the healing.
If I so much as broke my arm or leg at this point in my life never mind have it fucking blown off or amputated under medieval conditions it would send me into a downward spiral I would maybe never get out of. And I am a pampered baby who works on the computer.
Imagine being forced from your home. That's another aspect of this genocide that seems to not be taken seriously enough for what it is. My first thought was well I'll just go to a friend's house or to my parents but no they're being forced out too. What would you do? Just go fuck yourself I guess. Just go sit somewhere else to wait for it to all be over.
Most Americans would have a hard time walking to the fucking store never mind fleeing for their lives with whatever they can carry.
People carried few possessions in the arms or on their backs. Some sat on carts drawn by donkeys. On Tuesday, some could be seen carrying white flags and holding aloft identity documents.
“Donkey carts are the only means of transportation left,” Abu Ida said. “There is no solar power or fuel left for cars, but also those who have cars are afraid to use them. I cannot walk because I have diabetes, there’s no way I can walk on my feet.”
A woman who did not provide her name said “we are being destroyed.”
“No one cares about us. Maybe we are safe now, but I’m not sure about those who are still behind. I don’t know where my family is. My siblings are behind me. Out of fear, I couldn’t look behind. Not right, not left.
“We came from Al Shifa [Hospital], and we saw death on the way. Dead bodies, destruction everywhere.”
When she reached the neighborhood where their home was located, she told us she couldn’t keep standing from the sight before her. Bodies were strewn across the streets and the sidewalks, and crows were gorging on their flesh as they decomposed. Her son was among them. She was only able to identify him from the pair of pants he always wore and his distinctive leather belt.
She says the bodies had unusual markings and signs of gnawing, as crows picked on them by day and stray animals converged on them by night when no one was in the area. These are the areas where the ground invasion has closed in, the same areas the ambulances can no longer reach, and where people’s bodies have been left to rot.
Mariam tells us she wrapped her son’s body in a blanket and carried it for over a kilometer on foot until she was able to find someone leading one of the animal-drawn carriages that had become common ever since fuel ran out. She was able to take her son’s body south, where she buried him.
This is all before we even mention the outward reaching and outward reaching tentacles of suffering involved in a war like this.
You lived! But a hundred or more people you know or love did not.
They don’t post those statistics on the news. They don’t say 200,000 driven mad by a grief that they will never recover from. We don't have a way to tabulate that sort of thing.