Kind of a clip show episode today because I'm just finishing up the new book. I wanted it to be called There's Something in the Water but that has been used a few times already so we're going with A Creature Wanting Form which is a line I stole/changed from a War on Drugs song. I'm very excited about people reading the book I honestly think it might be "pretty good." Although as soon I think that I switch over to thinking it "fucking sucks."
If you enjoy the real maudlin shit in here where I cry about how we're all going to die in 500 word sentences then you'll like it. The pre-order page isn't live yet but it will be here soon.
On the theme of crying about dying check out the most recent post for paid subscribers from earlier this week.
Then I talked about actual therapy with him floating in the pool there my arm hair bleaching blonde in the sun and I said I had come to this realization talking of late that I was comfortable now at this later stage in my life in reverting to the sloppy Massachusetts townie I had started life out as and was meant to be. To strip away all pretense. All those years in the middle of living in Boston and being in New York and playing in bands and writing for fancy magazines and such were an effort to overwrite my origins is what I learned about myself I said. For example how I had purposefully lost my Boston accent perhaps as a type of class traitorship I said and he laughed again and said wait you think you don't have a Boston accent? and I said oh haha.
I guess I really thought I was getting away with something all those years.
Subscribe to read the rest of that one and everything in the archives. It's a nice thing to do!
Elsewhere this week I went on the Armchair Expert/Flightless Bird podcast to talk about healthcare in America. I covered all the Hell World hits: dodging ambulances, "luxury bones," lemonade stands for mom's cancer, "go viral or die trying" etc. I think it was a good talk and David Farrier is great you should follow his work.
Here are some of the previous Hell Worlds I mentioned in the podcast for further reading if you never saw them.
“Someone called 911, and when they came, they were like, ‘You need to go to the hospital, and we have an ambulance,’” he said. “In my ignorance, I was like, ‘Ok.’”
The hospital they took him to was less than a mile away but when the bill showed up it was almost $2,000. “I wasn’t thinking straight at the time,” he said which checks out on account of the having his dome knocked in. “I had insurance, but the deductible was huge.”
“I always joke to my friends that if they find me dying, and they call me an ambulance, I’ll come back from the dead to fight them because it’s so expensive,” Adam Lundgren told me. “But that joke comes from a real place of fear of being stuck with a bill I can’t pay.”
Having suffered from seizures since she was very young Mary von Aue has become all too familiar with the cruelty of the American healthcare system. Sometimes almost as scary as the seizures themselves are the medical bills that follow soon after. The first thought she has now when she wakes up is relief at still being alive. The second thought is about how much having lived is going to cost her.
What happens as a result of that grim waiting period seems so obvious that when you read the results of the study it’s a wonder that it hadn’t always already occurred to us. Basically: everyone seems to get cancer at the exact age 65.
It’s not that there’s anything medically unique about that specific age — cancer doesn’t have a birthday reminder for you set up on its Facebook — but rather that people between the ages of 60 and 64 who are un- or underinsured put off getting screened for the more common types of cancer until they qualify for Medicare because then they can finally afford to get the tests necessary. It’s exactly the type of ridiculous gamble we force people to make in this country all the time when it comes to all types of health issues but on a much more serious scale.
I went to Husavík, Iceland for vacation and got a bad upper respiratory infection that settled in my ear, making me dizzy and nauseous. Vomiting, the whole deal. It didn’t even occur to us we could go to a doctor because, you know, it wasn’t an emergency (The American healthcare system damages your *thinking,* not just the public health). The guy running our guesthouse had to tell us we could go to a clinic. So we go. They *apologize* to us (!) because they have to charge us (about $25) to see a doctor. We were in and out in 30 minutes, prescriptions in hand. Total cost for antibiotics and Tylenol with codeine: $20.
Here's a guest piece on the situation with the big publishing houses suing the Internet Archive from our man Max Collins via the fine folks at Popula.
Own Music! Own Books!
by Max Collins
My band averages a million streams each month on Spotify, for which we are paid three-tenths of one cent per stream: $3,000 for one million streams, on average, per month. Most of this money goes back to Sony Records, because they own our master recordings. As a part owner of Spotify, Sony receives part of Spotify’s share, as well. It’s a pretty sick deal… for the corporations. It sucks shit for artists.
Platform capitalism is bad. These people have figured out how to scale artist exploitation to a degree that would’ve been unfathomable to the most cynical record exec of the nineties.
And now they are coming for the authors of books, by suing the Internet Archive to ensure that books become like Spotify music: theirs, not yours or ours, to own. Owning media is now an act of countercultural defiance.
Our guitar player Jon (Sweet Pea) Siebels and I used to go to Poobah Records in Pasadena, California when we were in high school (let the record reflect that this was a decade and a half before the retro vinyl boom we were just total nerds) and buy albums put out by independent labels that had a good track record of not letting us down. Believe it or not before we became a radio rock band we were buying vinyl put out by alternative tentacles, subpop, k records, sst, kill rock stars to name a few.
Unfortunately one of my brothers (he’s sober and living well now) developed a bit of a drug problem and sold all of mine the minute I left to go on my first tour but Sweet Pea still has his. Big, beautiful, tangible works of visual and audio art that can be held, smelled and played. A personalized museum of treasures that mark and give shape and color to memories. Go ahead call me pretentious I’ll wear it like a badge. Those records are precious. You can hardly say the same for a user interface. Ease and convenience will continue to rob us of the spiritual experience of art until we realize that’s what it’s doing and say: Enough.
The Internet Archive’s Open Library operates with an owning and lending model, like a traditional library. That means big publishers, who are the platform capitalists of print media, want to see it destroyed. They do not want you to be able to take digital books out from a library. They don’t even want you to own digital books. They want to move you to subscription services like Spotify, Netflix or Amazon Prime, so they can count on your monthly tithes to CEOs and shareholders coming in… forever.
This is bad for musicians, artists and writers on a business level, but the deeper implications are truly terrifying for art and its preservation. We’re handing art over entirely to the profit motive. We’re leaving truth to the whims of a financialized, speculative economy, and giving censorship powers to CEOs.
Any authors who think this is a good idea should talk to some band guys (hi!), or to the comedians who have had their stuff censored and pulled off the platform without explanation, about their experiences with Spotify–a company that has made backroom deals with major record companies, giving them an ownership stake in Spotify and a place at the trough.
If you think for a second that big publishers and tech platforms are concerned with your fair pay I have a cd to sell you. These models are set up to benefit bosses not artists and the ramifications for the public are Orwellian. They will surveil your reading lists, dude. That’s what these companies do. They get you to pay them to collect your data.
It’s long past time for media ownership to be recognized as an essential right. The Internet Archive and all other digital libraries and archives must be protected, and people need to see this ludicrously unethical suit by big publishers for what it is: an assault on art and truth and its protection for posterity.
I liked this thread by our pal Ryan Walsh on the artist, model, photojournalist, surrealist, and mega babe Lee Miller.
But this one is the one for me. Get his ass.
"A portrait of Hitler, who committed suicide that day, rest on the edge of the bath and her boots, still covered in the mud of Dachau, are deliberately left on Hitler's bathmat."
[tfw you're thinking about fucking up Hitler's bathroom fifteen years later]
Look at this fucking shit. God this sucks so bad. A platonic "NPR moment."
I'm no big fan of Beto he's certainly a lot better than Abbott but to be clear a guy in the audience was laughing when he was talking about the children that were murdered in Uvalde so he called him a motherfucker which is probably a little reserved for what a guy like that deserves.
One more thing before I go for now:
Every time the right wing ecosystem shifts into stochastic terrorism mode saying "it's time to go to war!" and the like some dumbshit actually falls for it and goes and does something violent and/or stupid and ends up getting caught or killed. And then every time they all immediately turn around and say it was a false flag or that the guy was a fed or whatever. This guy from the thing in Ohio yesterday was just doing that himself a couple months ago about Uvalde and Buffalo!
Obviously these guys aren't looking to me for advice but they're not going to claim you buddy. You won't be remembered as a hero you'll be remembered as a cop or as a fuck up or as someone who never even existed. And all to defend the honor of Mr. The Toilets Don't Flush Right. Doesn't seem worth it.