I woke up to the snow falling in Massachusetts this morning and it’s so pretty. That’s all. No metaphor or anything. Sometimes the snow falling is just pretty.
Please forget about reading Hell World today and instead first go and read this piece The Art of Dying by Peter Schjeldahl the longtime New Yorker art critic. Whatever it is his piece has made me feel is how I want you to feel when you read something of mine and I gather that sometimes it works out like that and sometimes it does not but I gotta keep trying for some reason because what else is there.
Here are a couple paragraphs that stood out to me:
One drunken night, a superb painter let me take a brush to a canvas that she said she was abandoning. I tried to continue a simple black stroke that she had started. The contrast between the controlled pressure of her touch and my flaccid smear shocked me, physically. It was like shaking hands with a small person who flips you across a room.
At the end of my multi-drug sixties, I figuratively put all the chemicals in a funnel, and they came out bourbon. Jack Daniel’s-on-the-rocks, with a splash, except when scarce funds reduced me to Heaven Hill. Alcohol was liberating for me at first. A standard progression: great, good, fair, poor, bad, very bad, and then a phase for which any word but “Hell” fails. Halfway through the second drink, there may be a flicker of the old euphoria, quickly snuffed. You chase it in vain for the rest of a wretched night. It’s over for you. A line has been crossed. Yet you cannot imagine yourself not drinking. The obsession is at one with your core sense of self.
Yesterday my therapist encouraged me once again to try to find something productive to do with my time besides drinking and going to the gym and looking at the news and I said I would but I am not going to. I said I’ve been sleeping very poorly and she said I should look into getting more tryptophan in my diet you know like the stuff in turkey that makes you sleepy on Thanksgiving she said and I said I have heard of it. Apparently it can also improve your mood she said and I said that’s crazy. Apparently there’s a lot of it in pumpkin seeds too she said. Then I told her about the Schjeldahl piece and I said what are we even doing here.
A five year old girl in San Diego named Katelynn got sad because she overheard a friend’s parent saying they couldn’t afford a school program so she decided to sell cookies and cocoa to raise money to help. When she was done she used the money to pay off the lunch debt of 123 students in the district.
“Katelynn’s mom, Karina Hardee, said the girl started asking questions, wondering why things like this happen,” NBC San Diego reported and that’s a very good question indeed and if you ever find out Katelynn please let me know.
“I don't want people to be hungry,” Katelynn said.
“It is truly inspiring to see Katelynn's compassion and generous nature utilized to help those less fortunate,” Jamie Phillips, Director of Child Nutrition Services for the Vista Unified School District said and she’s right about that it is in fact truly inspiring a particular emotion inside of me at the moment.
Last month in Minnesota a cafeteria worker was filmed taking hot lunches off of the trays of around forty students who had negative balances on their lunch tab and throwing it all in the trash. One by one. No money? Fuck you put it in the trash.
The school in question is in Ilhan Omar’s district and when she heard about it she was naturally rip shit. She and Bernie Sanders recently introduced a national universal school meal program and that sounds great I am glad they did that but I also wonder what took so long.
This may or may not be related but I just read a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy on the amount in taxes paid by the profitable companies in the Fortune 500 last year.
“The 379 profitable corporations identified in this study paid an effective federal income tax rate of 11.3 percent on their 2018 income, slightly more than half the statutory 21 percent tax,” they found.
“91 corporations did not pay federal income taxes on their 2018 U.S. income. These corporations include Amazon, Chevron, Halliburton and IBM.”
“Another 56 companies paid effective tax rates between 0 percent and 5 percent on their 2018 income. Their average effective tax rate was 2.2 percent.”
Here’s some other shit they said:
“Just five companies—Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Amazon, and Verizon—collectively enjoyed more than $16 billion in tax breaks in 2018.”
“The 11.3 percent average effective tax rate paid by profitable corporations is the lowest average effective rate identified by ITEP since it began publishing these studies in 1984.”
Sometimes when people like you buy shit like clothes from Amazon or other companies online you send a lot of it back because of course it isn’t going to fit right or maybe you changed your mind or maybe you just bought it one day to feel the spike in serotonin that buying something makes you feel and now that that has subsided you don’t want it anymore. You’ve got that post-nut clarity.
Did you ever wonder what happens to a lot of the stuff you return?
“Online shopping has created a boom in perfectly good products ending up in dumpsters and landfills, according to Adria Vasil, an environmental journalist and managing editor of Corporate Knights magazine,” this piece from the CBC in Canada explains. They interviewed Vasil and here is what she said in part:
How is the boom in online shopping influencing how much good product just goes to waste?
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. The increase of the volume of returns has exploded by 95 per cent over the last five years. And in Canada alone, we are returning $46 billion worth of goods every year. And you think, OK, what's the big deal? Well, the problem is that — especially when we're returning online — a lot of these products end up going in landfills.
Why? You're returning something that's new and fine?
It actually costs a lot of companies more money to put somebody on the product, to visually eyeball it and say, Is this up to standard, is it up to code? Is this going to get us sued? Did somebody tamper with this box in some way? And is this returnable? And if it's clothing, it has to be re-pressed and put back in a nice packaging. And for a lot of companies, it's just not worth it. So they will literally just incinerate it, or send it to the dumpster.
Never mind what I said earlier about the snow I don’t think it’s pretty anymore. Fuck the stupid snow.
I drank the dregs of the champagne alone
Warm, flat, coppery coins down my throat
I'm saving up for a rainy day
And I plan to spend it in one place
I threw the party so I could stay put
You brought the bottle like a promise I forgot
A new year begins, it ushers us in
The knot in my gut is coming with
He'll blame the alcohol
And you'll blame the full moon
She'll blame the fall of man
And I'll blame the part of you
That can't let up on the reigns
You've got life in a chokehold
You say that it's all the same
All glittering fool's gold
I can't tell how big my heart is
Let's open the door, see how many fit
Like drunks in a bathtub, keep piling in
Now I'm locking the door till the morning
All the other obviously terrible parts of the interview aside check out this shit from the New York Post’s recent piece on Harvey Weinstein.
Sitting on a couch beside floor-to-ceiling hospital windows that framed the city’s skyline, Weinstein described reports that he is overblowing his physical condition as fake news, insisting, “This was a major operation.”
“I want this city to recognize who I was instead of what I’ve become,” added Weinstein, wearing a pair of loose blue jeans, black T-shirt and a tube draining blood from his bandaged incision into a container hung from his walker.
The fallen mogul was in an elite wing of the hospital that features marble bathrooms, Italian linens and original framed artwork, all designed to look like a plush hotel. A private chef and concierge cater to the patients while visitors can sip cucumber-infused water.
Weird that the tube draining blood from his bandaged incision isn’t even the grossest part.
Frequently of late but not frequently enough and it will probably never be enough one of you will write to me a nice note saying this or that and I always appreciate it. Often you will say I’m sorry to bother you or something to that effect which is always kind of funny to me that people feel like it’s an imposition to tell someone that their work is good. Please do not feel as though I will take it as an insult if you say to me that I am good going forward.
Oh god no this next part lol.
I just saw this shared by my buddy’s podcast and it has thoroughly dampened my spirits and now I have to do the same for you.
Searching around for the origin of the poem brought me to this truly cursed page Policepoems.com.
Here’s another one.
And one more.
Here’s Schjeldahl in the New Yorker again:
I was a kid crazy about language and an omnivorous reader. At breakfast, I’d pore over every word on a cereal box as if it were holy writ. The first poem I remember writing was at a class picnic on the last day of sixth grade. I lay back on the grass, looking up. A hawk soared overhead. This wasn’t unusual, but it gave me an odd feeling. I rolled over and wrote what I knew was a poem because it looked like one. All I recall of it is a chorus: “Winged avenger from the skies!” I’m not sure that I even knew what an avenger was. I took the poem to my teacher, who said, “Peter, this is very unpleasant.” That smothered my literary drive for some years.
The other day an editor I like and work with asked me to write a piece highlighting some of Tucker Carlson’s recent comments on “vulture capitalism.” From time to time Carlson will say things regarding capitalism that are surprisingly palatable to people on the left.
“It is interesting that he says stuff like this sometimes but I can't personally in good conscience write about him in any positive light so someone else probably best for this sorry,” I wrote back. “Economic populism mixed with racist nationalism is still a tried and true trick of the Nazis!”
The point is you don’t have to write something nice about Tucker Carlson even if you could use the extra cash from the assignment.
There is no reason to profile a person like Tucker Carlson because we do not need to know the inner life of Tucker Carlson we already know it he presents it to the world every night on his widely watched television program and yet the Atlantic saw fit to do just that this week. Ostensibly the argument behind a piece like it is to “let them hang themselves with their own words” which is the justification Prestige Journalists make when they are giving space to a terrible person to share their terrible views. Or maybe they just also share those same beliefs who can say with the Atlantic sometimes.
The piece was pretty thoroughly trashed by people in my timeline but plenty of others found it riveting including Mike Cernovich who I saw shared it enthusiastically.
This section here has thoroughly ruined my entire week so far. Emphasis mine.
Ask someone who knows Carlson about the past three years, and you’ll likely hear a lamentation. It’s one of the trendier virtue signals among political and media types: saying you believe that Tucker Carlson is so smart, that it really is such a shame, because he of all people should know better, and what, pray tell, happened to him?
The subtext of these conversations is the question of whether Carlson is, as Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently claimed, a “white supremacist sympathizer.” For a time, the question could be written off as unserious, a voguish desire to ascribe racism to anyone who might not support increased immigration. But in recent years, Carlson and some of his guests have lent more and more plausibility to the label. On August 6, for example, days after a white gunman killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, motivated by a fear of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” Carlson took to his program to argue that white supremacy was “not a real problem in America,” but rather a “hoax” drummed up by Democrats.
You will not read a more cowardly and empty and passive couple of sentences like that for a while not unless you happen to read the piece in the New York Times today that literally both-sides vaccines lol.
I don’t need to waste a lot of time convincing you Tucker Carlson is a white supremacist but here’s something I wrote about him exactly one year ago around the time when a bunch of advertisers were leaving his show after he said immigrants were making the country poorer and dirtier.
Staunchly xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiments are not new for Carlson, who has said previously: “Latin American countries are changing election outcomes here by forcing demographic change on this country at a rate that American voters consistently say they don’t want.”
In September Carlson railed against the idea of diversity, questioning how it could be seen as a positive.
“How precisely is diversity our strength?” he asked. “Since you’ve made this our new national motto, please be specific as you explain it. Can you think, for example, of other institutions such as, I don’t know, marriage or military units in which the less people have in common, the more cohesive they are? Do you get along better with your neighbors or your co-workers if you can’t understand each other or share no common values?”
That same month Media Matters prepared a highlight reel of Carlson’s comments on minorities and immigrants juxtaposing them against the rhetoric of some of the most virulent racist agitators on the white nationalist right such as Richard Spencer, David Duke and Christopher Cantwell.
While Carlson’s presentation as a prominent TV host may make him more palatable for his audience, it’s no surprise that Carlson has proven to be a regular favorite of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, who have featured his commentary on the site 265 times in the past two years.
“Tucker Carlson is basically “Daily Stormer: The Show” the site’s leader, Andrew Anglin, has said. “Other than the language used, he is covering all of our talking points.”
Just the other day I wrote this.
Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has condemned Fox News and Tucker Carlson, calling the TV host a “white supremacist sympathizer” and saying his show represents an “hour-long production of unmitigated racism”.
The comments came following a segment on Carlson’s show in which he and his guest, City Journal editor Seth Barron, commented on footage of an unremarkable amount of trash on the streets of Ocasio-Cortez’s New York City district and blamed it on immigrants, who Barron said had “occupied” the district and made it “one of the least American districts in the country”.
Carlson asked: “How can we take seriously anything she says about the environment when this is her congressional district? She should be ashamed of this.”
Using racist and xenophobic tropes, Barron responded that “her district is actually one of the least American districts in the country, and by that, I don’t mean that it’s not part of America, but it’s occupied by relatively few American citizens.”
He went on: “The way they inhabit housing there is such that they live in a lot of illegal spaces like basements, and many people live there, so they wind up producing a lot of garbage that the landlords don’t want thrown out normally. Hence, you wind up with a lot of garbage on the streets. You have illegal food vendors pouring their pig grease in the gutters.”
Someone is definitely pouring pig grease in the gutters but not in the way they mean it.
UPDATE: Just saw this piece by Nick Martin in The New Republic that said all of that up there better than I did.
These pieces are not the pinnacle of journalism or feature writing, they are laundering the extremity of their subjects through the packaging of from-nowhere or “objective” reporting. The rate at which you see this style of work, marketed as scoops or revealing interviews with conservative trendsetters, exposes the personal and institutional prerogatives of those involved—even as they pretend they don’t exist.
Here’s just a little bit more from the Schjeldahl piece:
I was friends with Kiefer for a while, as I was with many artists over the years, until about twenty years ago. The friendships fell apart. Closeness is impossible between an artist and a critic. Each wants from the other something—the artist’s mojo, the critic’s sagacity—that belongs strictly to the audiences for their respective work. It’s like two vacuum cleaners sucking at each other.
And then this:
“Life doesn’t go on. It goes nowhere except away. Death goes on. Going on is what death does for a living. The secret to surviving in the universe is to be dead.”
This essay is exactly the type of piece most writers think they're going to write someday before they die like you’re going to finally and utterly devastate these motherfuckers at long last on the way out the door with the singular beauty of a life observed and life itself observed and this version of that impulse is lovely and bracing and sharp indeed but then whenever I read something like it after I’m done being devastated and what not I think well the motherfucker still has to die at the end of all that anyway doesn’t he and it’s like what's the point of any of this why go to the trouble.
I worry sometimes when I say shit like that it’s going to make it seem like I want to be dead and maybe worse that a lot of the people who read this who themselves sometimes think they want to be dead might take it the wrong way. The truth is I want to live and I want you to live too and I hope you do and I do for a long time. I don’t want to be dead at all I simply want to be alive in a better place than the one that we have and I just don’t know how to make that happen.
I hear tryptophan can help.