January 10, 2012
Excerpt from short story by Don DeLillo about watching the crisis unfold from a prison for financial crimes.
“All of Europe is looking south. What do they see?”
“They see Greece.”
“They see fiscal instability, enormous debt burden, possible default.”
“Crisis is a Greek word.”
“Is Greece hiding its public debt?”
“Is the crisis spreading at lightning speed to the rest of the southern tier, to the eurozone in general, to emerging markets everywhere?”
“Does Greece need a bailout?”
“Will Greece abandon the euro?”
“Did Greece hide the nature of its debt?”
“What is Wall Street’s role in this critical matter?”
“What is a credit-default swap?
What is a sovereign default? What is a special-purpose entity?”
“We don’t know. Do you know? Do you care?”
“What is Wall Street? Who is Wall Street?”
Tense laughter from pockets in the audience.
“Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy.”
“Stocks plunge worldwide.”
“The Dow, the NASDAQ, the euro, the pound.”
“But where are the walkouts, the work stoppages, the job actions?”
“Look at Greece. Look in the streets.”
“Riots, strikes, protests, pickets.”
“All of Europe is looking at Greece.”
“Chaos is a Greek word.”
“Canceled flights, burning flags, stones flying this way, tear gas sailing that way.”
“Workers are angry. Workers are marching.”
“Blame the worker. Bury the worker.”
“Freeze their pay. Increase their tax.”
“Steal from the worker. Screw the worker.”
“Any day now, wait and see.”
“New flags, new banners.”
“Hammer and sickle.”
“Hammer and sickle.”
Their mother had the girls delivering lines in a balanced flow, a cadence. They weren’t just reading, they were acting, showing facial expression, having serious fun. Screw the worker, Kate had said. At least their mother had assigned the vulgar line to the older girl.“
His end was officially sanctioned, an act welcomed by some, protested by some. If he’d spent half a lifetime in prison cells, in solitary confi nement and fi nally on death row for one or two or multiple homicides, where were we and what had we done to be placed here? Did we even remember our crimes? Could we call them crimes? They were loopholes, evasions, wheedling half-assed infractions.
Some of us, less self-demeaning, simply nodded at the story, conveying credit to the man for the honor he’d brought to the moment, the back-country poetry of those words. By the third time I heard the story, or overheard it, the prison was located decisively in Texas. Forget the other places—the man, the story, and the prison all belonged in Texas. We were somewhere else, watching a children’s program on TV.
“Means nothing. Words,” I said.
“Like Abu Dhabi.”
“The Hang Seng in Hong Kong.”
“The girls like saying it. Hammer and sickle.”
“Hammer and sickle.”
“Hong Kong,” I said.
We went on like that for a while. Norman was still murmuring the names when I shut my eyes and began the long turn toward sleep.
“But I think she means it. I think she’s serious. Hammer and sickle,” he said. “She’s a serious woman with a point to make.”
July 31, 2011
I found the above photo on an Israeli friend’s Facebook. Intrigued, I googled “Skarmer” and then “Skarmer Punk.” This site came up. I did a little editing, but this is almost entirely as I found it. Some of the text is lifted from Harry Turtledove’s A World of Difference.:
Coin’s lips moved for a fraction of a second. They are in this room: four hundred and seventy two wizards, skilled in the most subtle of arts. Their countless faces turned towards him, and they shouted: “Dont deny it! Punk gay singles!”
It travels only so fast. Watching over her father, protecting him from harm. By the time Alessan returned to the forecourt, Norman had arrived with a number of Ruathan holders. She moaned again and successfully fought the urge to grab his head and shove it into her hungry cunt. It was a barren, gay place, admittedly. Hammond came striding briskly through the door.
There was about him an aura of wariness as if he were fronting a possible enemy. It went like that. Kittson strode into the punk gay singles room and Saxton was at his heels. She heard her baby crying, crying, crying. Still, Barbicane was a long time coming to himself, which frightened his friends, who did not spare friction. I shut the door and beat a hasty retreat to the privacy of my sanctum.
“; b p p b”? That was nonsense. My place, this time. He looked up from the mapboard, trying to picture the movements in his head.
“We all have ample time to turn up all punk gay singles latent potencies later in the program. Ill never part with them, just the visual aides.” The American anthropologist had style, Tolmasov thought, getting his warning across in a language none of the Skarmer could speak during a tribal war, so that he’s not punished, but rewarded.
“The phone,” said the Sheep. He was struck by the contrast between the hot excitement, the smell of sweat and mature african american christian singles network surge of bodies he had just left, and this punk gay singles, well controlled expanse, artificially maintained yet as beautiful as anything nature could produce. He rose. It was the fact that he was of a different species therefore possibly immune to such detection, which had brought Dalgard into the city. Straddling the creature, the man got his toes under the base of its brass chest-plate, hooked his fingers under the back-plate, and put all his strength into prying them apart. Twin screams echoed. To observers in the southern hemisphere Patagonia for example, the moons west would be quite to their left, and the east to their right, as the south is behind them. And there he was.
Acacia wrote part of a line on her own form, then turned to him. Leri sighed heavily, covering punkk punk gay singles with one hand. “I’ve never studied the Sword nor any other Way.”
It had been far worse than that tender cinematic kiss that had riled him so. “You’re too anxious. The losses of the TCEF divisions had increased rapidly.”
Now the fear sat on his neck, gripping him in cold claws of terror. He always gave people the impression that he was looking at them with his teeth. She waited a few beats, then said, “Fell me again.”
“What?” he said.
“Can you determine the cause of death?” This time Conway found himself working on targets of his own species and his maturing, or moral degeneration, increased.
So would anyone be.
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Riot or a Tantrum? Young Women and Poetic/Political Territory in a Becoming Post-Gendered Society. An Economic and Unconventional Exploration by Thomas Longfellow Rudge, PhD. Former Professor of Media Studies at Bard University.
June 28, 2011
(Originally published in Death Panel IV)
Much feminist theory has been devoted to bands like Bikini Kill, L7, and The Donnas in recent years, although the methods of some of these studies have often appeared too devotional and methodically lacking. To conduct a proper exegesis of the mid-90s third wave feminism and its most well known avant-punk manifestation we must first look at ‘Riot Girl’ in its main milieus– musical composition, literature, and then finally as socio-economically determined product that intersects and confronts alleged patriarchal gender relations.
Before I begin, I unfortunately feel it necessary to ‘clear the air,’ as it were and acknowledge the critiques of my work by contemporary feminists such as Mercedes Dickinson, Angelia Donaldson, Shari Haswell, Juliette Hargrove, Haley Proga, and most notably caustic, Joycelyn Budge, and the well-reported events that some perceive as being related to these critiques. If a solitary strand of argument could be pulled from these diverse and well-composed reviews of my work, it would be this: as a male academic who considers myself an observer of feminist tendencies and trends, I only raises feminist questions after drawn-out analyses that assume gender has not yet come onto the examination table.
Initially, such a criticism seems well reasoned and thoroughly valid, which may lead the reader of this piece to wonder why I have structured my essay precisely in the previously critiqued (to death, some might argue) manner, and why a man now of such ill-repute would write on feminist issues at all. But the reader, who only interacts with the page and the words inscribed on it (as if this is any better than staring endlessly into a computer or television screen!), could not know about the incident of March 15th (yes, the Ides of March!) in SoHo New York, when a routine weekend trip to the Apple Store became hideously truncated by several of the feminist theorists listed above, whom, I reiterate, I deeply respect and admire as theoreticians and pedagogues. It began shortly after crossing Broadway, when I noticed Ms. Proga and Ms. Haswell sitting in the window at Dean and Deluca sharing what appeared to be a lemon gelato.
While their criticisms towards me were quite forceful, they were all in the context, so I thought, of intellectual debate, so I hardly thought twice about attempting to catch their attention with a friendly wave. It was Ms. Proga, the red-afro’d star of the rhetoric world who noticed first, but she looked towards me so acute and momentarily that I assumed she had only made out a gesturing figure instead of a colleague of the academic arena. I redoubled my efforts, waving more forcefully and even leaping a bit. Proga looked again, and then gestured to her fellow feminista. Now that they saw me, they only gave me a blank look, then looked at each other as if to discuss my presence, and resumed eating the gelato without chalant.
I shrugged this off at first, but only for a moment, for I realized that they had, of course, recognized me. No one spends the time to carefully assemble such wise critiques without carefully studying an image of the opposing author. I, for instance, have six separate windows open this moment containing jpegs of my feminist detractors listed above. In Haswell’s picture, she is on what appears to be an Oakland street paying the camera a calm sideways glance, her bust accentuated by the angle. I once thought that calm expression was owed to thoughtfulness, but now I know it equally stems from unconcern– for her area of study perhaps– but certainly for a colleague’s emotional security! Read the rest of this entry »
Getting a bit closer, I could hear some of their speech, also unchanged! They spouted the slogans of popular low-brow television programs and referred to each other with homophobic remarks. I restrained myself from the fantasy of flicking one of them through the air with a thrust of my ring finger. What bromidic caricatures, these bros—I passed them by as I would typical lawn furniture—be it a flag for the local sports team, a black-faced jockey, or a pinwheel dully spinning in the wind.
This is a short story I wrote during my residence at the Cyberpunk Apocalypse House. Its part of a series about a Lovecraftian narrator going back to his hometown in Westchester county and being disgusted and horrified by everything he sees. Enjoy!
March 9, 2011
I take one more look at this highway, 4 lanes in both directions with no crossings or traffic lights as far as the eye can see, and realize I’m not going to make it. Across the divide is where I think I can catch my next bus, the one that will take me to JFK in order to redeem my ticket out of this place that has so decisively betrayed me. The sign is hard to make out; it could be a bus stop, but it also looks like a sign pointing the way to the nearest Dominos. Traffic is moving fast enough that attempting a Frogger-style crossing doesn’t seem to be in the cards. I knew I shouldn’t have smoked my remaining pot out of that tin Kazoo last night, but alone in the apartment of a sober friend on vacation, I could devise no other implements. The tin fumes must have distorted my body clock, causing a late wake-up and twisted dreams of being menaced by a flight attendant Mayor Bloomberg in a pig mask, the World Trade Center sprouting again like trees from the middle of Tompkins Square Park, Lady Gaga revealing to the masses her steel wool pubic bush in the ruins of a freshly demolished Shea Stadium. No one around to give me directions, not here in the nether-regions of Brooklyn, at the intersection of several neighborhoods I’ve never heard of and that none of my friends have ever discussed. I’m surrounded by big white buildings, turned grey in the sun. It looks like there’s a convenience store across from me but I can barely read the sign. How does a borough get this massive? It’s like I’ve entered some sort of urban purgatory, the point where enough should have been enough, but the prehistoric New Yorkers kept right on building with no plan or purpose. Just a week ago a friend of a friend went missing in this city. Her name was Lydia and she’s one of those vanished white girls that manages to really capture media attention. First came the Facebook group with a mere 24 members pledging their concern. Last I checked it had grown to 3,459. Last seen: on Brooklyn-bound G train with only her purse and flip-flops, in a normal mood, on her way to a job interview. Didn’t take her medication with her. May be manically depressed or disorientated at this point. After 4 days she showed up in the blogosphere, and then, somehow, the story went national within a week. Rumored spottings began to circulate: an art student thought she saw her on the Chicago Metro near the loop, same outfit and bag, but on the same day she was seen on a city bus in Des Moines by a commuting pizza chef. Two days later a DJ posted that he thinks he saw her on the Light Rail in Denver, wearing a funeral dress this time. It’s like she found an effortless way out, maybe a subway line through ancient American wormholes. I envied her, because, for some reason, my escape wasn’t going to be so easy. The Egyptian embassy hadn’t mailed me back my passport even after the 4 to 7 business days. My one-way trip to the Middle East was hanging in the balance. The rising sun is becoming unbearable at only 8 AM, increasing the anxiety, pushing it towards a conviction that this plane will take off without me. At the huge Bushwick rooftop party everyone’s asking me when I’m leaving and for how long. I respond, “I don’t know if I’m leaving and if I do, maybe for a month, maybe forever.” The whole party I keep running into this one guy over and over again, which is weird because the place is crammed with greasy people that all look like paper dolls made from different issues of Vice, who looks kind of like me and I listen in on him making these sarcastic jokes about Adam Green and other anti-establishment indie rock personas, which is my shtick. Japanther plays for 7 minutes. Ninjasonic for longer but the sound is barely functional after Japanther. Around 1 AM Nat grabs me to tell a secret: “See that guy over there with the asymmetric haircut and the rad Salvo polo?” “The one that looks like me?” I ask. “Yeah, get this, he’s Cocksnake!” Fuck! Not cocksnake! The most contrived and obnoxious street artist in New York, which is the most contrived and obnoxious street art scene in the world! “You would like him,” Nat continues. “I think he’s a communist.” I take a long gulp of my 4Loko and formulate a plan to publicly embarrass him; the amateur critic’s rage burning within me, a fire kindled by unearned elitism, half-baked political-aesthetic critique, and of course, jealousy. My clever scheme amounts to loudly praising him with growing sarcasm. “Oh you’re Cocksnake! I am such a big fan! How did you think of putting a dickhead on a snake and stencilling it all around town? It must have taken you years of agonizing soul-searching to conceive of such a transgressive statement! Have you made a lot of money on the project? Is Dietch clawing at your studio door??” But when I walk up to him, he recognizes me first. “Hey I know you. Aaron right?” It’s not Aaron, but I find myself saying “yeah.” “Oh yeah, I met you with Lydia. You’re friends with Lydia right?” I just stare back as my machismo escapes me. “Well I know where she is man. And believe me, she’s gone. Way gone. She’s not coming back…” He makes a motion with his hands that suggested a hot air balloon ascending. “That’s not fucking funny, man.” I say, and walk away, rushing down the flights of stairs. Outside a single bouncer is preventing about 40 young-looking club kids from getting in. As I bike away hundreds more are parading up the street from the L train. Another night biking home drunk, one day it will kill me. I get a text from Sophie at 4 AM, asleep in the empty loft which we moved out from a week earlier: “WHERE IS SHE”. When I wake up I respond: “Find cocksnake.” My friends are getting tired of this kind of bitter ambivalence, only reinforcing my desire to fuck off. I call the Egyptian embassy and they haven’t even touched my shit yet, but they have it, thank Ra. I tell them I need it in a week or I’m screwed. I begin to make alternate plans, most of them involving places with better weed, cheaper booze, and a less uptight social scene. The Hasidic landlord walks in with two potential tenant yups, finding me sweating profusely in the noon heat, stripped naked as the apartment itself. “Oh excuse me,” I say. “I just came by to drop off the keys.” And I dress and make my way out, not leaving the keys of course. Later in the week I bike to Canarsie for Nat’s graduation party, which I did not know would involve having hung-over conversations with her extended family, and spent most of the evening looking at her Grandfather’s photo album. He was a photographer in World War II, and half the book was him posing with soldier buddies and girlfriends from home, the other half of the annihilated cities of Germany. Now I’ve got these fantasies of lumbering bombers zipping through the minuscule New York skies laying waste to the city. There’s no shade anywhere, leading me to conclude this area was not designed with humans in mind, leading me to believe there is no bus stop and I’ve made some fatal error. At this rate I’ll never see the pyramids. The Sinai Peninsula will remain a Bible myth, and the sphinx a solemn stranger. I asked Nat how the rest of the roof party went. She tells me there was a small riot when the kids weren’t allowed in. Cars parked around the building had their windows smashed as the mob danced to their iPhones. Nat’s Mom sends me home with two tubs of Hummus and as many High Lifes as I can carry. I think: this will be the summer I get the tattoo of the woman lounging on the crescent moon, celebrating all the wonderful summer memories I’ve had drinking that crisp working class beer on Philadelphia and Providence porches. That night I end up drinking half the beers while doing little more than staring into my computer screen, all the while disgusted in myself for how uneventful my use of summertime has been, and upset at my friends and the whole damn city for not offering me more. I thought of calling Nat a bit after midnight, but our previous encounters in the week reaffirmed that she would not have me back. She would dodge the call and it would just be another little disappointment to chuck into the rubbish bin of my memory, now weighing heavy on me, making life just a bit more unbearable each day. The next night I call up Axel and we sneak onto an industrial property on the Williamsburg waterfront, and climb to the top with a couple forties tucked into our bags. We drank mostly in silence, staring at the Manhattan skyline. The Empire State Building was lit up blood red, as if celebrating a murder, and we debate for some time if we could hit it with a rocket launcher from where we sat. My passport arrives in the mail the next morning. There’s no going away party. I spend my supposed last day buying granola bars, a swimsuit, and trying to sell or smoke the rest of my weed. I didn’t leave anything at the apartment, I don’t think. I do still have 45 minutes to catch the flight, but I didn’t say goodbye to Nat, Lydia is missing, someone is spraypainting cocks all over New York, my friends won’t miss me, I can hear sounds of heavy construction somewhere close, and the endless procession of speeding cars that have trapped me here in Brooklyn’s doldrums, their drivers obscured behind tinted windows, have reminded me of what my father once cautioned me at a city crosswalk: They won’t stop for you.
Originally posted on Modulo Mag
December 7, 2010
I. 5 Hour Safety Class
I let my driver’s license expire and didn’t attempt to renew for two years, so they tell me at the DMV, appropriate stamp in hand, you gotta through the entire process, consisting of a written test, a roadtest, and the intermediary five hour safety course, again!! I ‘enrolled’ at the Williamsburg driving school, came there a few minutes early, prepared to spend the entire beautiful fall day in a bureaucratically organized class watching heavy-handed films alluding to car crashes and taking intermittent little exams. I was the only one there at two, and the door was locked. Five minutes after the class was scheduled to begin the instructor honked at me from his car and told me he was looking for a space. Fifteen minutes later I was still waiting alone in front of the dentist office when another student, a hipster girl, arrived. Forty minutes later the third student, a young Hassidic guy, walked in hat in hand, and the instructor, a kindly old Puerto Rican, asked us to “make ourselves at home” in the lobby of the dentist office, oral hygienic products on display at the desk. A table with magazine rack occupied the center of the room. A fish tank bubbled in the corner, and the man fiddled with the TV trying to get the DVD to play. Forty minutes later we all read the dentist’s magazines until he finally surrendered to the stubborn DVD player. Quickly revising his lesson plan, he told us about New York City drivers and how to pass the road test, occasionally kept us at attention with the asking of very easy questions. The whole thing was over by 4. Apparently, the DVDs made up most of the class. We paid $40 each and got the forms necessary to schedule our road test, eagerly left the office and, once out of earshot, commented to each other what a waste of time and money the class had been (Why was it that we who had just been given our Certificates of Freedom were now dissatisfied? Maybe it is because we, in that dry and sterile place, were denied the bloody films?). It was November and it was already getting dark outside. A truck barrels up Bedford Avenue with it’s light off and a cyclist sidles up near the cab to yell, “Ey buddy turn yer damn lights on!”
II. New York City Drivers
The instructor at my five hours course described “the way people drive in New York” and I wondered: How did a language and culture come into being around the seemingly expressionless movement of vehicles from place to place? “When you’re taking the road test,” he says. “If a pedestrian comes across your path, even if not at a crosswalk, you must stop immediately, even though New York City drivers would not stop nor would pedestrians typically expect them to.” “Drivers here will make a U-turn instead of a K-turn if they have the room; don’t try this on a road test!” “New York City drivers treat stop signs as yield signs.” As a cyclist, these tendencies of New York City drivers are all familiar to me. In all of them, there is a certain impersonal expression of an efficient aggression. Drivers are insistent and confident and always on the offense to take space, get through obstacles, find parking, and make it to their goal as swiftly as possible. And yet, there are far less accidents then one would expect. Could it be this style that has developed is actually keeping us safe? After four years of cycling, I have never been in a car-related bike accident in New York. I don’t know anyone who’s been in a car accident in the city. I never hear about rearview windows getting ripped off like they so often do upstate. It is in New York City, better than perhaps anywhere in the world, where tough competition sustains a network of communication quite well. But this communication is angry. Sometimes a driver wants to say, “excuse me Madame.” or, “I’m sorry about that, sir.” But all they can say is “HONK, HONK, HONK!” which, in turns, moves traffic along.
III. Road Rage
I remember my babysitter would often scream in rage at other motorists while driving my sister and I to the mall or the movie theater. Having no concept of traffic as anything but a mechanical process in which I am transported from one place to the other, I could never understand where this anger was coming from. It was clear to me, though, that there was not some conspiracy against her that made traffic any worse for her than it was for my parents, therefor, her rage must have been irrational. When I learned to drive I developed my own form of road rage. It is not in my personality to casually scream at someone, so instead a had frequent sarcastic and snarky quips at drivers or pedestrians whose actions I felt the need to disagree with. “Oh yeah, good idea, just cross the street wherever without looking both ways.” “Oh you’re making a sudden left turn in heavy traffic? No need to use a turn signal in that situation!” “Go ahead, drive 5 below the speed limit in the right line. Getting home to your family for dinner is overrated.” I can now admit that I have a problem. I have miscommunicated and misplaced my frustration. It is the bulk of the vehicle, the narrowness of the road, and the amount of cars on it, all filled with drivers with individual and hidden destinations and desires and personalities that are communicated through the metal shell and shaded glass of the vehicle. It is not you, fellow motorist, who I am angry at, and may I add, how I wish I could see you behind the tinted glass. I want to see the desperation in your eyes. I want to see your gender, age, and race. I want to see how you hold the steering wheel, your concentration when reversing out of a space, and the blank expression on your face the moment you forget that you are driving and you fall into a sleep-like oneness with the machine. It is after this moment, and from afar, that I might get angry and yell “pay attention!” in hopes to jolt you back to consciousness. My babysitter and I may have this same anger boiling within us against everyone who sleeps through the routines and motions of the average day, but they do not cross our paths, so we ignore them. I wonder if there is enough potential anger of all the drivers in the world to power a social circuit that could awaken everyone into motion, and, if plausible, how violent it would look, how awful and cruel it would be at its inception, and how terribly confused traffic in New York City would be afterwords.
May 27, 2010
“Ever been to 1982 in Gainesville?” asked the recent ex-con seated to my left on the Greyhound.
“No,” I said, looking up from my journal that I was narcissistically staring into. “What is it?”
“Its a bar,” he said. “But they make all their drinks with plum wine.”
I looked into his graying stubble, his cleft chin, his tiny face. I wondered how long he was in. His was the face of someone who could have aged 20 years behind bars. Youth trapped under jowls.
“They never got a liquor license. So they have plum-wine replacements for vodka, whiskey, you name it. They call it ‘sake’ but it ain’t. It’s bum wine. Rotgut. Gives you the worst hangover you ever had.”
“You headed to Gainesville?” I asked.
“Oh yes, son. I’m going to get me a plum-wine screwdriver then I’m gonna look for my girl.”
Chaotic fields of tallgrass outside the window. North Florida has a damp feel. The ex-con stared forward dociley. His hands were cupped together in his lap as if they were still handcuffed.
January 22, 2010
Magic Muscle is in the final editing phases… content and ordering information to posted soon.