Just a few days ago I was staring out the window of an airplane and marveling at the view. It had been a long time since I’d had a window seat, so until it got dark I ignored my book and watched as Chicagoland grew smaller and smaller, all its roads and cars and housing developments snaking around…
1. How much poison are you willing to eat for the success of the free market and global trade? Please name your preferred poisons.
2. For the sake of goodness, how much evil are you willing to do? Fill in the following blanks with the names of your favorite evils and acts of hatred.
3. What sacrifices are you prepared to make for culture and civilization? Please list the monuments, shrines, and works of art you would most willingly destroy.
4. In the name of patriotism and the flag, how much of our beloved land are you willing to desecrate? List in the following spaces the mountains, rivers, towns, farms you could most readily do without.
5. State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes, the energy sources, the kinds of security, for which you would kill a child. Name, please, the children whom you would be willing to kill.
If you wrote that, or you like that, I have some thoughts for you:
1) I’m actually more tail-end-of-Gen-X in temperament, age, and outlook.
2) Go f**k yourselves.
You have no idea about student debt, underemployment, life-long renting. “Stop feeling special” is some shitty advice. I don’t feel special or entitled, just poor. The only thing that makes me special is I have more ballooning debt than you. I’ve tempered the hell out of my expectations of work, and I’ve exceeded those expectations crazily to have one interesting, exciting damned career that’s culminated in some leadership roles for national publications. And I’m still poor and in debt and worked beyond the point where it can be managed with my health and my desire to actually see the son I’m helping to raise.
Last weekend my baby had a fever, and we contemplated taking him to the ER, and my first thought was - had to be - “Oh God, that could wipe out our savings! Maybe he can just ride it out?” Our status in this Big Financial Game had sucked my basic humanity towards my child away for a minute. If I wish for something better, is that me simply being entitled and delusional?
Younger journos see me as a success story and ask my advice, and I feel like a fraud, because I’m doing what I love, and it makes me completely miserable and exhausts me.
So take your “revise your expectations! check your ego!” Horatio Alger bullshit, and stuff it. While you’re at it, stuff this economy. Not this GDP, not this unemployment level: this economy, this financial system that establishes complete social and political control over us, that conditions us to believe that we don’t deserve basic shelter and clothing and food and education and LIFE-SUSTAINING MEDICAL CARE unless we throw our lives into vassalage and hope, pray, that the lords don’t fuck with our retirements or our coverages. (Maybe if we’re extra productive, someday they’ll do a match in the 401k again, like our ancestors used to talk about!)
Take the system that siphons off our capacities for human flourishing in hopes that we get thrown a little coin of the realm in return. Take that system and blow it up, you cowards.
“Western civilization has always glorified the hero, the sacrifice of life for the city, the state, the nation; it has rarely asked the question of whether the established city, state, nation were worth the sacrifice.”—Herbert Marcuse, 1966 Preface to “Eros and Civilization”
"List of unusual deaths," from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This is a list of unusual deaths. This list includes unique or extremely rare circumstances of death recorded throughout history, noted as being unusual by multiple sources. Some of the deaths are mythological or are considered to be unsubstantiated by contemporary researchers.
"I'd expect nothing less from a member of your tribe, after all, didn't you guys trade Jesus for a bag of nickels?"
I only received one piece of fan mail today. But I thought it worth sharing, since it’s exemplary.
Subject: i’d expect nothing less
Do you give this much coverage to the random attacks on white people all across the country at the hands of blacks and browns? Did you ever stop and think that maybe George Zimmerman did act in self defense? I wasn’t there the night of the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin incident that led to Trayvon’s death, and neither were you. I’m not sure why you make it a point to write personal attacks against George Zimmerman in your articles, when you don’t know for sure what happened that night. Young black males TERRORIZE every town and city in America that has a substantial black population, yet you dedicate weeks on one trial because the alleged victim is black. Who’s really the racist? I’d expect nothing less from a member of your tribe, after all, didn’t you guys trade Jesus for a bag of nickels?
Brian J. Riece Jr.
Why do I do what I do? Not for riches or fame, God knows.
I just want people who think like “Brian J. Riece Jr.” to be flushed out into the open. If they can’t stop being racist fools, than maybe at least they can be made to feel that their place in culture is marginal, radical — that the future is not theirs, that nobody in the marketplace of ideas will buy the putrescence that they’re selling, and that there are costs to being hateful boors.
That’s my hope, anyway. Maybe I’m wrong. Will we let them have the future?
“Seeing it, for all the tabloid coverage and endless CNN cable news coverage of the case, a big part of me feels like the real story here has been glossed over. Whatever the ins and outs of the legalities here, the odds of this happening to a white kid are just very slim. I knew that an hour ago. But I’m confronting it in a different way now.”—TPM Editor Josh Marshall, discussing seeing the photo of deceased Trayvon Martin for the first time. More careful reflection here.
Another letter-writer on the Trayvon photo. This one... well, it speaks for itself.
your gawker article
…is a complete and total joke. Your Columbia University education obviously didn’t teach you that in America a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. You wouldn’t know journalism if it smacked you in the face…this was a blatant partisan left wing smear, full of falsehoods and grounds for a lawsuit.
Let’s discuss a few facts - concrete, undeniable facts. Trayvon Martin had THC in his system while in the confrontation with Zimmerman, numerous texts discussed his propensity for fighting and starting fights, getting suspended from school, and making inquiries about illegally acquiring a gun. He then in a phone conversation with a friend called Zimmerman a “crazy ass cracker” - a ignorant, racist term for a white person.
An important letter I got in response to the Trayvon photo post.
I added the fact that I never email writers in the subject in the hopes that you understand how much your article moved me. But probably not in the way that you think.
I am absolutely filled with sorrow that you put Trayvon’s murdered body on a big website the way you did, and for the REASONS you did. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m glad you’d like to incite anger. As a Black woman, I am angry. livid. distraught. BUT, you should have asked permission from Trayvon’s parents. They should have had that right. Trayvon and his parents had no respect/hand in how he was portrayed in the mind of his ignorant murderer. That decision cost him his life. He was killed because Zimmerman saw him as a dangerous Black body. He was not human. Not a person with a family.
Additional thoughts on that photo of Trayvon Martin.
This morning, I posted a postmortem police photograph of the Miami teen. It is, unfortunately, difficult to avoid on the webpage where it’s posted. Opinion seems divided — and virulent — on whether its publication is clickbait (not my intention) or a critical part of the narrative around his life and death (my view).
But to me, that debate is part of the point. And it’s a debate that is not possible unless the image is accessible.
Consider an interesting inversion: So often in American culture, we marvel how trial juries are not privy to information that we, as news consumers, can access about the issue at hand. In this case, the photograph was evidence, entered into jury consideration… and today’s debate centers on whether we, as news consumers, should be privy to the same information that is under consideration by this Seminole County jury, which deliberates in the name of The People of Florida.
We were not meant to see this, of course. A decision was made — in part by the court, in part by the simulcasting networks, in part by us — that some of the jury’s information is not for public consumption.
That puts immense pressure on a video shooter someplace in the courtroom, following the action, and in a split second, he makes a judgment error.
People come up short all the time, after all. Occasionally with cameras, occasionally with double-action 9-millimeter pistols.
A reader of mine sent me this photo last night. As the murder trial of George Zimmerman wheezes to its conclusion, the TV networks dutifully pipe in live pool video from the courtroom, as if it is force-fed to them and they have no choice but to excrete it, soft and undigested, into our living rooms, bedrooms, offices. Sometimes, the pool recorder or the networks’ producers don’t switch to a mundane image of lawyers being lawyerly quite fast enough, and we get to see snippets of the human cruelty, stupidity, and frailty that occasion trials such as this.
I wrote some very personal thoughts about a photo that flashed on TV last night. The photo is a possible trigger for some readers. It certainly was for me. I don’t recommend clicking lightly.
“The only contact they have is with law enforcement, and in order to interact with them they have to fight…When they end up in their cell all beat up, they did it to have contact with humans.”—
Former solitary-confinement inmate Alex Sanchez on the deranging isolation his fellow prisoners experience. Sanchez is part of a coalition supporting 29,000 California inmates currently on hunger strike to protest draconian conditions. Sources say scores of inmates there have been in solitary confinement for more than a decade.
"After a month I was schizophrenic. I didn’t know who to trust and I was talking to myself," Sanchez says. "Imagine someone that’s been in there for 30 years."
“We fought, first, over the adjectives in his stories — ‘discredited’ was a favorite — and then over his theories, which were typically the opposite of whatever I was hearing from my Washington sources.”—
I don’t typically like Ben’s work — this quote hints why — but I always enjoyed Michael’s work, even when it occasionally seemed askew. He was a truly gracious person to me personally, and to journos generally. His work always bore a moral core and a genius for devastating takedown lines. I alternately admired and envied him. And I will miss him.
A year ago, Pablo Pantoja was the GOP’s Latino outreach director in Florida. He stumped for Romney and told the New York Times: “Hispanics in the area are going to realize the Republican Party is where they belong.” Yesterday, he became a Democrat. How does that happen, exactly? I asked him. He had a lot to say.
“When I was brought in here, I was explicitly told that the bloodletting had come to an end. I have enormous respect for the staff here and the work they have been doing, and I am not going to preside over further layoffs.”— Will Bourne, editor of the Village Voice, explaining why he and his deputy, Jessica Lustig, walked off the job today. I had the privilege of meeting both of them recently, and know a few people that work in that newsroom. They struck me as ceaselessly talented, energetic, and positive. They were well on their way to making the Voice great again. I know they’ll be okay. I hope the rest of my friends will be, too.
“A man in Afghanistan once told me that a third of this planet eats with spoons and forks, and a third of the planet eats with chopsticks, and a third eats with their fingers. And they’re all just as civilized as one another.”— Rick Steves, Salon, 2009
A year ago, Tumblr did something unprecedented — we created an editorial team of experienced journalists and editors assigned to cover Tumblr as a living, breathing community. The team’s mandate was to tell the stories of Tumblr creators in a truly thoughtful way — focusing on the people, their…
America. Because we know how to reward a smashing success.
“I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said ‘Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?’”—
Megachurch pastor and Christianity franchiser extraordinaire Rick Warren, recalling his 27-year-old son Matthew, who committed suicide Friday at the family’s home.
Yes, we’re supposed to be solemn and respectful at a moment of loss such as this. But judging from the *press statement Warren’s Saddleback Church put out about his son’s suicide and longstanding depression*, and speaking as a past sufferer of existential depression, there seems to be no acknowledgment on Rick’s part that maybe, just maybe, his lifelong evangelism promoting a Christian cosmological narrative of love and everlasting life, juxtaposed with a clear inability to connect with his son on the most basic of loving levels, might have further screwed Matthew up and made self-oblivion seem an attractive choice.
As evinced in the quote above. I hear a troubled young man asking for help squaring his upbringing and dogmatic beliefs with what he feels so acutely and painfully. I’m not sure what Rick feels, but given the context in which he offered this anecdote, it seems less like a mea culpa or an introspective “what-if” than a supremely craven impulse to deny any responsibility: “Oh, you know, he was a tortured soul with a death wish, what can you do, anyway he’s in a better place now.”
This, from a man made millionaire many times over for penning a book titled “The Purpose-Driven Life.”
Rick, I’m truly sorry for your loss. I truly wonder whether *you* are.