Good Days

This is a post recording the consecutive number of good days that I’m trying to accumulate. Nothing else has seemed to work.

6 days


ROLLING BLACKOUTS sound more fun than they actually are

ROLLING BLACKOUTS sound more fun than they actually are


heart beat

Dinosauria, We

Dinosauria, We
    Born like this
    Into this
As the chalk faces smile
As Mrs. Death laughs
As the elevators break
As political landscapes dissolve
As the supermarket bag boy holds a college degree
As the oily fish spit out their oily prey
As the sun is masked
    We are
    Born like this
    Into this
Into these carefully mad wars
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
    Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes
    Born into this
Walking and living through this
Dying because of this
Muted because of this
Because of this
Fooled by this
    Used by this
Pissed on by this
Made crazy and sick by this
Made violent
Made inhuman
    By this
The heart is blackened
The fingers reach for the throat
The gun
The knife
The bomb
The fingers reach toward an unresponsive god
The fingers reach for the bottle
The pill
The powder
    We are born into this sorrowful deadliness
We are born into a government 60 years in debt
That soon will be unable to even pay the interest on that debt
And the banks will burn
Money will be useless
There will be open and unpunished murder in the streets
It will be guns and roving mobs
Land will be useless
Food will become a diminishing return
Nuclear power will be taken over by the many
Explosions will continually shake the earth
Radiated robot men will stalk each other
The rich and the chosen will watch from space platforms
Dante’s Inferno will be made to look like a children’s playground
The sun will not be seen and it will always be night
    Trees will die
All vegetation will die
Radiated men will eat the flesh of radiated men
The sea will be poisoned
The lakes and rivers will vanish
Rain will be the new gold
The rotting bodies of men and animals will stink in the dark wind
The last few survivors will be overtaken by new and hideous diseases
And the space platforms will be destroyed by attrition
The petering out of supplies
The natural effect of general decay
    And there will be the most beautiful silence never heard
    Born out of that.
The sun still hidden there
Awaiting the next chapter.
-Charles Bukowski

No man is an island; although, often times, I feel alone…

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the
continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a
manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes
me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. “

“Space Station, this is Mission Control, is there anyone out there??”

“Mission Control, over. Space Station, do you copy???”


Post Aliennation (No one, it seems, is alienated anymore.)

ALIENATION. In the 1950s and ’60s, this concept was used by sociologists, psychologists, pundits, and critics to explain any number of social problems. Kids were ‘alienated’ from their parents and from the larger society; adults were ‘alienated’ from their work and from their communities. It was a powerful concept and one that defined a generation of social commentary. Now, it seems, no one is alienated anymore. Historian David Steigerwald examines what happened to the notion of alienation by looking at the roots of the idea, the way it was used, and how it has disappeared from our discussion. Perfect reading for the holiday season!

Alienation Arrives in America

For those of us who study the intellectual and cultural history of the post-World War II West, it is strange that the concept of alienation seems to have evaporated. It was the paradigmatic explanation for social behavior in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the 1950s, alienation explained the timidity of white-collar workers and the conformity of suburbanites. It explained the eruption of juvenile delinquency in middle-class communities. It accounted for high divorce rates and the heavy use of alcohol and barbiturates among the professional classes.

Both the decline in voter participation and the political irrationality of the Red Scare were chalked up to alienation. In The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan deployed the concept to give voice to the vague but powerful “problem with no name.”

The concept gained even more persuasive power in the 1960s, when a generation of young people who had enjoyed unprecedented affluence erupted in radical protests across the developed world. Some rode that wave of public activism to violent extremes.

The causes of alienation were well understood. Privileged young people rebelled against the Affluent Society (the title of one famous book from that era), because the institutions and processes that created material well-being did so at steep human costs. Homogenized anonymity left individuals adrift in lonely crowds (the title of another).

Powerful corporations and impersonal bureaucracies imposed rigid, inscrutable rules and turned people into IBM punch cards. Reduced to automatons, people felt powerless. Computerized technologies of production, whether on the assembly line or in the office, gutted whatever was left of the worker’s control over the labor process and sucked away the pleasures of creative work.

American commercial culture offered the “choice” of three television networks that said pretty much the same thing at pretty much the same time about the same issue. The political class, united behind the Cold War “consensus,” engineered the entire political apparatus to suit themselves.

Even the geography of middle- and upper-class America, de-centered into undifferentiated suburban non-communities, destroyed neighborly relationships, and, as Holden Caulfield said over and over in Catcher in the Rye, made people “phony.”

These structures of affluence undermined people’s control over their daily lives and removed the sources of meaningful living—creative work, human relationships not besmirched by calculation, and connections to usable and dignified community traditions of art and folkways.

At least to me, this narrative made sense in the 1950s and 1960s, and today it makes sense of jihadism’s appeal to young people like Mr. Mutallab.

But when was the last time you heard someone say that alienation is the root cause of religious fanaticism? For that matter, why is it so rarely used to describe the social psychology of Americans? After all, none of those structures of power that emerged in the early postwar period have gone away, and several are arguably stronger.

No one, it seems, is alienated anymore.

Meanwhile, the intellectuals, who as a class were not only responsible for disseminating the concept but who, legend has it, were once alienated themselves, rarely employ the concept anymore. It no longer speaks to their condition. Secure in tenured university posts and yet often given to the self-delusion that they are still radicals, content in their comfort and given to toothless criticism, they enjoy their avocational prerogatives without the discomfort of the hand-to-mouth existence of bohemia.

Alienation? Who needs it? It doesn’t pay well, and there’s no 401(k).