Thank you for still being here. Tell a friend maybe?
They said there was the possibility of a tornado ripping through the state yesterday and I didn’t believe it because I’ve never seen a tornado which means they aren’t real. I went about my day with the impotent tornado buzzing around in the back of my mind sowing no destruction and leveling no homes and carried on with my normal routine which is to sit here not thinking about anything besides the one thing we all have to think about.
Does anyone else think about this shit pretty much nonstop and still somehow manage to not actually grasp how much it’s going to fuck everything up for years at best and maybe forever?
Or who knows maybe we’ll all stop talking about this before too long and forget it even happened decades from now. I just read something H. L. Mencken wrote in 1956 about the Spanish flu.
“The influenza epidemic of 1919, though it had an enormous mortality in the United States and was, in fact, the worst epidemic since the Middle Ages, is seldom mentioned, and most Americans have apparently forgotten it. This is not surprising. The human mind always tries to expunge the intolerable from memory, just as it tries to conceal it while current.”
At a certain point every evening it comes time to pour a drink and another and another like when you’re lighting a stubborn campfire and you have to keep blowing on it until the kindling finally ignites and the warmth expands and then I can start not thinking about anything in a different type of way than I do in the daytime and then after that it becomes late enough to put the TV on. Having the TV on during the day has always seemed like a failure of sorts to me like a kind of surrendering. We watched the cartoon about depressed fuckups and one of them was having trouble writing her book and it frustrated me to watch and I said out loud this is dumb writing is so easy and Michelle said maybe for you it is and I realized I was lying because it’s become very hard of late for one of the first times in my life. It turns out it’s a lot harder to write when you can’t go anywhere to report on anything and your scenery remains perfectly static and the total expanse of your universe is from that room over there to this room over here and sometimes down the street if you’re lucky and if it’s not that nice out.
A weird thing I do now which is an upheaval of a prior reality is check the weather and hope it’s going to be cold or cloudy enough to go out for a jog or a walk in solitude because otherwise there might be too many people around. Ah fuck it’s gonna be seventy and sunny today goddamnit.
I read a piece of an interview with Werner Herzog just now and the writer goes to him he goes it must be very frustrating to have to isolate like this and Herzog goes:
“No, I can live with it. Everybody has to live with it and I'm no exception. I do the most aggression against the virus by hunkering down. Which sounds like a paradox, because hunkering down is defensive. But we have to starve the fucker.”
Later on last night a bad storm started and I thought maybe tornados are real after all but I was wrong it was just some explosive rain and lightning and thunder and wind and we turned the TV off and watched the lightning and I said wait do you start counting after the lightning strike or the thunder and Michelle said whichever the right one is I already forget and we counted one Mississippi two Mississippi etc until the storm got closer and then got further away and it was thrilling in a way like we were children how they’re bemused by everything in nature how they’re experiencing everything for the first time always and I wondered if the rain and the wind and the lightning was destroying anything somewhere else and if it was realer for people other than me for whom it was just a new thing to look at for a while until it was gone and not my problem anymore.
I don’t think I know what people want to read anymore. Here’s a message board type thread for paying subscribers to chime in on if you like. What do you want right now from Hell World? What have you liked lately? What would you like to see more of? Got anything fucked up going on that I might want to write about? How are you doing in general? Talk amongst yourselves if you want who cares.
I saw a picture of people spilling out of a bar in San Francisco and a video of a MAGA pud at a crowded bar in Florida saying it’s all fake and so on and the president retweeted it and I saw bars packed in Wisconsin and I saw that Texas which opened up a couple weeks ago just had their highest single death total in a day and I read a story about underground speakeasy clubs in New York City where the invincible and decadent and unbothered youth were dancing and passing around drugs.
Tequila shots and dry martinis were being passed around, sweaty hand to sweaty hand. Drinks were $10 a pop, cash only. A long-haired man snorted cocaine-and-ketamine swirlies off of mirrored platters lining the sides of a professional D.J. booth. Behind it, a D.J. maneuvered vinyl discs of tech-house records. A good-looking couple passed around props—cowboys hats, studded crowns; I even glimpsed a bright-pink wig—while a brunette girl sat on a floor pillow, licking magic-mushroom chocolate out of an artisanal packet. A supermodel and her boyfriend I recognized from Instagram downed shots—“Cheers to corona!” they said, glasses clinking. Two guys next to me did the elbow bump before laughing and embracing. “We don’t do that!”
When I talk to people at the party, they are blasé: “Our neighborhood isn’t that affected,” a cocky guy with a mustache says to me. “We’re young. We’re not the target,” says a blonde girl in a crop top. “I don’t see why not!” A handsome Spaniard in a floral shirt echoes this thinking: “What’s wrong with hanging out amongst ourselves? I don’t know any old people!” No one mentions the fact that what they’re doing is illegal, or that just going to the grocery store the next morning may very well mean coming into contact with at-risk citizens. No one mentions that a potential second wave of coronavirus infections in South Korea has been tentatively tied to nightclubs in Seoul.
Then I remembered I’d been meaning to get around to rereading The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe so I did that just now while the coffee machine was sputtering and whining in the kitchen like it was lonely.
The red death had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal -- the madness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress, and termination of the disease, were incidents of half an hour.
But Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his crenellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince's own eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts.
They resolved to leave means neither of ingress nor egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the "Red Death."
Did you watch that viral video from Japan illustrating sort of hilariously but not really how quickly germs can spread?
Here’s something I wrote about in the Guardian yesterday which is only the second freelance piece I’ve written since this all started which is not exactly ideal in terms of “making money” and “paying my bills.”
Even as Covid 19 deaths in the US continue to grow, now surpassing 85,000, many states have begun loosening lockdown restrictions.
Regardless of the wisdom of such moves, it’s clear that there’s a desire to return to something resembling normalcy across the country, as in Wisconsin, where locals returned to packed bars this week.
How many of those revelers there, and in other states like Texas with lax policies, may contract the virus remains to be seen, but a recent viral video from Japan gives an idea of how easily the infection might spread.
The video experiment, conducted by the public broadcaster NHK in conjunction with disease specialists, uses blacklight and a fluorescent substance to simulate how quickly germs can be spread across a variety of surfaces in environments such as restaurant buffets and cruise ships.
To begin with, one guest of 10 at a restaurant buffet is shown with the substance on his hands meant as a stand-in for the coronavirus. Over the course of a typical dining period, the rest of the guests behave in predictable fashion, selecting utensils from serving stations, enjoying their food, checking their phones and so on.
At the end of the experiment the backlight is turned on and the substance is revealed to be smeared everywhere: plates, foodstuff, utensils and even all over some of the guests’ faces.
A second experiment in the same environment showed the benefits of improved hygiene techniques. The “infected” person and the other diners washed their hands before and throughout the meal, and utensils and other implements were cleaned and replaced more frequently.
“What the video demonstrated, is that it will spread to surfaces and to people very efficiently,” John Nicholls, a clinical professor in pathology at Hong Kong University, told CNN. “I think it really highlights the need of what people have been saying about hand hygiene to stop the spread of disease.”
Mostly I just wanted to bring the video up because this image from it has been making me laugh. Ah shit I got the covid all over my face I’m fucked now.
My friend Ryan who last showed up in Hell World in this one (it’s good!) about Ruination Day and the dust bowl storms and the sinking of the Titanic and Gillian Welch and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln posted a thread I found interesting the other day about how people treated the mandatory blackouts during World War II.
Read the whole thread but here’s a good bit.
I guess people were always selfish and stupid but not like this.
As far as feeling unmoored by not writing all that much these days goes it could be a lot worse. In fact hundreds of my friends and colleagues were laid off this week from Vice and Conde Nast and Buzzfeed and the Economist and Quartz and I guess it will just keep going on like this until there’s nothing left but the New York Times and Fox News and mandatory Amazon Prime news bulletin uploads.
Someone interviewed me yesterday for a podcast and they asked me what I would say to people trying to make it in the media landscape we have now and I said do not do it unless there’s absolutely no question in your mind it is the only thing you can and will ever want to do. Even then still don’t do it maybe.
Here’s a guy who is the Chief Political Analyst for ABC News who didn’t get fired.
Another person who didn’t get fired is this reporter for Politico who talked to Tara Reade’s old landlords about how she had trouble paying rent years ago.
I guess the takeaway is that if you’re poor and struggling you can’t possibly ever be assaulted by someone who has power over you?
One person who did lose their job is a longtime editor of mine from when I used to write for Vice over the years. I was just searching through our emails and there were a surprising number of stories he turned down what the fuck man. But I came across this one we worked on back in 2014 about how not to share fake viral shit online and I guess most of it still applies but there was one part that jumped out at me.
I’ve spent the better part of the past year attempting to debunk every viral hoax that comes down the pike and yelling at anyone who’ll listen about how harmful the internet’s viral bullshit culture is to the way we consume, and produce, news—and surprise surprise, it’s been a thankless and ultimately fruitless pursuit. With Facebook disseminating dubiously sourced nonsense through its promoted links and the emergence of an entire genre of websites designed to deceive readers with carefully tailored nonsense, it’s clear that people by and large don’t care enough to check whether something is actually true before sharing it. Not only are we susceptible to disinformation, it seems we desperately want to be misled, and what's worse, to mislead all of our online followers.
We rightfully abhor people who’d intentionally spread an actual physical virus, right? So why don’t we apply the same stigma to the people coughing up urban legends into our Facebook newsfeeds and contaminating our Twitter streams?
I just went outside and stared into the half distance with my mouth open for five minutes like a fucking moron and I noticed my neighbor has a dirty old orange canoe propped upside down on two sawhorses where it’s not gliding across the water like it’s meant to and I said I know how you feel buddy but the canoe didn’t respond.
The other day I saw a British lady post that her kids don’t flush their turds and she has to do it now that the maid can’t come over and it was supposed to garner sympathy of some kind I think.
I read a story about the Aspen Institute getting $8 million in federal small business funds “despite having a $115 million endowment and a board of trustees populated by billionaires.”
Not everyone on the Aspen board thinks it’s a good idea to keep the money mercifully.
“The people and businesses — local bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants, small foundries, little packaging businesses, your local grocers — that really need the money have none,” Aspen fellow Dele Olojede told the Washington Post. “And we have Depression-era unemployment. Mass deaths. And one of America’s most elite institutions thinks it is okay to take the money.”
I love this part below which always comes in stories about shit like this or about Harvard or whatever places that have substantial endowments.
“Aspen says it has already received board approval to tap into its endowment for $7.5 million but that about 80 percent of endowment funds are restricted and cannot be used for operating purposes. It has not laid off or furloughed any employees and plans to use the money to keep those workers employed, according to spokeswoman Amy DeMaria.”
Uh … yeah we have an endowment but we're not allowed to use it based on our own rules we agreed to. Nothing to be done!
It’s like me saying technically I have enough to cover the rent this month but that money is earmarked for ice cold beers so I can’t access it sorry.
I mentioned this in here before I think but since we’re thinking about Vice and Aspen one time I went to the Aspen Ideas Festival to write some dumb stories like this one about trying on an exoskeleton that simulates what it’s like to be an old person.
As it turned out getting old fucking blows but I could have just waited a few more years to figure that out on my own and skipped all the trouble of shlepping out there.
Here’s one of the worst things I’ve read in a long time from the New York Times. Enjoy!
One Minnesota hog farmer sealed the cracks in his barn and piped carbon dioxide through the ventilation system. Another farmer has considered gassing his animals after loading them into a truck. And a third shot his pigs in the head with a gun. It took him all day.
These are dark days on many American pig farms. Coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants across the Midwest have created a backlog of pigs that are ready for slaughter but have nowhere to go. Hundreds of thousands of pigs have grown too large to be slaughtered commercially, forcing farmers to kill them and dispose of their carcasses without processing them into food.
And yet, around the United States, scores of people are struggling to find enough to eat, lining up at food banks after losing their jobs in the economic fallout of the pandemic. Distribution issues have caused grocery stores and fast-food restaurants to run low on meat. Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the United States, is limiting the amount of ground beef and pork that customers can buy at some stores. Costco has placed a three-product cap on purchases of fresh beef, poultry and pork. Wendy’s has run out of hamburgers at hundreds of locations.
You should listen to this new album by I’m Glad It’s You anyway but once you hear the backstory behind it it’s all the more devastating.
“Kelley Bader delivers the first words of I’m Glad It’s You’s new album looking out from the back of an ambulance, reliving the most painful day of his life,” Ian Cohen writes at Stereogum.
Almost certainly the luckiest day of his life as well. On July 5, 2017, Bader was at the wheel of the band’s van when it rolled over outside of Barstow, California; the members of I’m Glad It’s You survived with minor injuries. Chris Avis did not.
“The joy and grief covered up by the guilt in between/ So when it all comes out, it’s ‘How come him and why not me?'” Bader sighs at the end of “Lost My Voice.” It’s the first song he wrote after the accident and the most devastatingly beautiful song on Every Sun, Every Moon, an album almost entirely composed of devastatingly beautiful songs about Avis’ tragic death at the age of 31. Avis was a beloved special education teacher and youth basketball coach in Bakersfield, a documentarian of SoCal’s punk scene through Cavis Tapes and a mentor for I’m Glad It’s You. “Chris was literally our coach,” Bader says. “I would text him nonstop and every piece of advice he gave was, ‘Well, Touche Amore would do this.’”
Ok that’s all for now. If anything today’s takeaways should be this:
What would Touche Amore do?
We have to starve the fucker.
These are dark days on many American pig farms.