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WesRecs

Vol. #55 - November 20, 2020

Hello to all of you after another week in the trenches of 2020. I hope you are safe and as reasonably sane as can be expected. For my part this has been an absolutely doozy of a week.

If you recall, nearly 2 months ago, way back in WR 47 I mentioned a potential professional opportunity that had dropped in my lap out of nowhere and which required a lot of a prep time and attention. I wasn't really able to provide many (or really any) details, and I still can't, other than to say that the thing just ended up happening this week. It was a LOT in terms of time, preparation, travel, COVID precautions, and emotional investment. I am in no way trying to be coy here but I really can't go further into it both because of scout's honor and a bulletproof 20 page NDA that I've signed but I will say that:
  • It's a TV thing
  • You will hear about it when the time comes (both here and not here)
  • It has been top of mind for me for almost two months with prep all along the way, and it just went down yesterday, and I haven't slept since 8a ET/5p PT on Thurs 11/19.
  • I have a LOT of thoughts about it (again, for when then the circumstances allow) but overall I'll disjointedly say: What an experience...emotional roller coaster...just damn...I am very tired...life is so weird and so interesting.
That's about all I'll say on that now and I do so largely to explain why this will be relatively light WesRecs this week (as last week's was for the same reason). And why it's arriving to you so late. Please excuse all typos and instances of incoherence.

But yeah, what a trip...and not just figuratively. This required a journey out to LA this week, I just got back to my place in Brooklyn a few hours ago. That aspect of the whole experience was wild in itself...


Since March I have not performed live comedy/storytelling, I have not been inside a bar or a restaurant, I've gotten exactly one haircut (in October and I was on edge the whole time), and the only travel I've done was a 4 day trip up to Boston to see my mom and god daughter in September where I got tested, rented a car, and spent all of my time in 2 private residences amongst people who were quarantining themselves.

The last place I would ever really want to be is in an airport right now as COVID rages as bad as its ever been nationally. But to do this thing I had to be in LA so I took the risk, which, as far as I can see was only a risk to myself. As I've discussed here a lot since late September: I've been back to work as a a background actor on NYC TV and film productions. Every single job requires that I clear a COVID test prior to being on set (sometimes 2 tests). So I've been getting checked more or less every week for a while. And to do this thing I had to do an at-home test last Saturday, and then immediately upon stepping off the plane at LAX on Tuesday I was whisked to yet another test so that I could be admitted to the production. On-set there, like in NYC, everyone on the grounds was getting tested every 2 days and was wearing KN95 protection (and often face shields) when not on camera. Distancing was strictly maintained (down to having separate bathrooms for camera crew, sound people, hair and make up, talent, etc). During my time in LA I was only either in my solo hotel room or on set with all of the above precautions, so I'm pretty damned confident that I posed a risk to no one. But I still had to be on 2 planes and in 2 airports surrounded by people, some of whom, statistically, definitely had COVID. I was masked and face shielded the whole time, but overall, it still was not an easy feeling.

My point being: I decided to travel for a once in a lifetime opportunity where my physical presence was absolutely required on a production where the absolute most stringent health guidelines were followed at all times and I will soon be tested again here in NYC and will be quarantining until that happens. I will absolutely not be going home to chill with family and friends in unregulated environments this Thanksgiving and Christmas just because I want to see them and it's "what we do every year". I think there's a difference and I feel totally comfortable urging people to not travel for the holidays this year. We all miss our families but it's just not safe or worth it.
I went to LA for 3 days and the only pic I got of it was this one from 30 feet in front of my hotel because I spent the entire time either locked in my room or on a highly locked down set.

Not gonna lie, after my second visit ever there I think I'm kind of in love with LA and I would totally consider living there one day if I wasn't as concerned with forest fires and earthquakes and the hellish inevitability of climate change as I am.
On the cooking front: Last week I was hyped about outdoor deep frying adventures with my new camp stove. I'd made fried chicken for the the second time in life and it was good but had some room for improvement re: crispiness and seasoning.

As i said I would, I went ahead and made a stab at Korean-style twice-fried chicken wings last weekend and the results were delicious, but also left some room for improvement re: crispiness and flavoring. I discovered the problem with my first fry up: the camp stove, while wonderful and useful and a good buy overall, just doesn't kick out enough heat to get oil hot enough for deep frying. You're looking for the 350-375F range for your oil but I found it was only getting to 275 so I had to bring the pot inside and use the stove, which isn't great for splatter and cleanup but it was def the right move. Also, I might be done with flour for frying chicken. Corn starch is way better for crispiness and does not impact flavor. I'm going to try potato starch for my next attempt, but yeah, that was a game changer. On the sauce front I did not have real gochujang paste or Korean pepper flakes so I made do with a jazzed up store brought bottle of "gochujang" made by a company in Missouri. It ended up tasting fine but was too thick to get the kind of coating I was looking for on the wings and ended up neutralizing the crispiness a bit. Like I said, these tasted dope, but it wasn't quite the Bonchon vibe I was going for. I'll get there.

Fun/weird fact: close your eyes and run your fingers through a bowl of toasted sesame seeds. It feels exactly like silk. So odd.
OK, so that's a long intro for a short newsletter. I have had a wild wild week after a laser focused 2 months and I just napped for like 2 hours after being up for 39 straight and I'm jet lagged and what is life? But I am also very fired up and determined to get a tremendous amount done over the next 2 months which will be hard and scary and infuriating for us all I'm sure. There's nothing to do but stay safe, hold on to what's important, and look out for each other.

As I've mentioned before here: next week 11/27, I will once again take the Thanksgiving Friday off of WesRecs and I'll return refreshed and rejuvenated with Vol. 56 the first week of December. Peace and love until then.
WesRecs is the weekly newsletter where I (comedian/storyteller/TV Host) Wes Hazard recommend a bunch of cool content (recs) to YOU (the person reading this). There's no particular reason for this other than the fact that I love curating stuff and I'm always excited to share items that I personally have found worthwhile, exciting, or necessary. If you like what you see please be sure to subscribe to get each week's edition delivered straight to your inbox and if you know someone else who might be into it definitely share with them. You can check out all past issues HERE.

WES Around the WEB

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COVID Corner

Findings in Plagueland

Doctors and nurses are tired ya'll. They are not an infinitely replenishable resource. If you were an NYC ER worker in March there is no way you do not have PTSD and I cannot imagine looking at the current situation with rates going up, people taking no precautions, and the holiday season in front of you. Some will quit, some will break down, some will get sick.
South Dakota nurse says many patients deny the coronavirus exists — right up until death - Washington Post

How you gonna wheezing for breath, on the cusp of intubation, looking into the eyes of a nurse dressed like they're about to handle biological weapons and still claim that COVID is a "hoax"??? What do you think is happening to you? Why do you think you're on a gurney in hallway with medical tents set up in the parking lot? Who would possibly benefit from this hoax? Who could carry one out at this scale? And how in the world are you so important as to be part of it?

This winter is going to be very very bad.
 
Her anxiety and despair are shared by many health-care workers who are facing a dramatic surge in covid-19 patients. But some front-line workers, like Doering, also face the emotional toll of treating patients who, despite being severely ill, are reluctant to acknowledge that they have been infected with a virus that President Trump has said will simply disappear.
Doering said she has covid-19 patients who need 100-percent-oxygen breathing assistance and who will also swear they don’t have the illness that has ended the lives of nearly a quarter-million people in the United States since February.

...

“Their last dying words are, ‘This can’t be happening. It’s not real,’” Doering said, adding that some patients prefer to believe that they have pneumonia or other diseases rather than covid-19, despite seeing their positive test results.

...


“You don’t have to believe in covid, you don’t have to believe in a certain political party or not, you don’t have to believe whether masks work or not. You can just do it because you know that one thing is very real. And that’s that 100 percent of our capacity is now being used,” Burgum said.
I Am Living in a Covid-Free World Just a Few Hundred Miles From Manhattan - NYT

Canada. Must be nice...
 
The pandemic has changed the way people live, here, too. We stand six feet apart in the line at the grocery store. There is plexiglass around the cashier at Starbucks. I had to keep my dinner party guest list to 10 people in total. Nova Scotia has required everyone to wear a mask in any indoor public space, including upper grade schools, since July. But that seems normal, by now, just one more thing in the morning: got your homework, got your lunch, got your mask? I can go days without the virus really intruding on my life.

...


When I asked Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s avuncular public health chief, what he thought allowed us to maintain this level of normality, he added another ingredient to my list: Public health officials, not politicians, set the policy here about what opens. And people (mostly) follow the rules on closures and gatherings and masks. “The message has been that we need to do it to keep each other safe,” he told me. ”I think there’s something about our culture, our collective ethic, if you will, that means people accept that.”

...

The pandemic has caused real pain in this region: the economy, heavily dependent on tourism, has regained only about 80 percent of the jobs that were lost in April, and won’t fully recover with the borders closed. This morning I saw another small business in my neighborhood with a closing-down notice taped to a shuttered window. Eviction rates are climbing. Residents of long-term care homes can have only limited visitors. If we leave the region, we have to spend two weeks in quarantine when we come back, and that can make a person feel trapped.

We argue all the time about what level of isolation and restriction are appropriate; but we have a sense here in Halifax of what has kept us safe and we know that those things are deeply controversial in the United States: public health care; public media; a social safety net. It’s baffling to watch the epidemic in the United States spin wildly out of control, knowing it could easily be different. We know that it could, because we’re living it.

America

What Are We Doing Here?

The Unpardonable Sins of Lindsey Graham - The New Republic

I was really hoping we were done with Lindsay Graham. He is a craven, useless, liar who stands for...nothing. Or rather he stands for whatever will keep him in office at any given moment. I cannot wait to one day know what dirt his puppet masters have on him because it assuredly wild.

In other news, I allowed myself a sigh of relief in the week after the election due to the fact that it seemed like we'd evaded a violent coup, but hey, there's still time.
 
And then there’s Lindsey Graham. As I’ve previously noted, the senior senator from South Carolina is remarkably honest about what drives his zealous personal support for Trump: an unquenchable thirst to be close to power, no matter what form it takes. “I have never been called this much by a president in my life,” he once told The New York Times’s Mark Leibovich with what the éminence grise of Beltway profilers described as “a mixture of amazement and amusement, with perhaps a dash of awe.” Now that hunger appears to have placed him on the opposite side of American democracy.

...

Other efforts to undermine the election results are more ominous. On Tuesday evening, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers in Michigan deadlocked on a vote to certify the results of the November election after the board’s two GOP members raised unfounded claims of voter fraud in Detroit. One member said she would be willing to certify the results for the rest of the county, whose residents are mostly white, but not for Detroit, where 80 percent of residents are Black. Certifying Wayne County’s results now falls to the state board of canvassers, where seats are also evenly divided on party lines. The county board’s move was met with praise from a member of Trump’s legal team, who described the effort to disenfranchise a majority-Black city as a “win for [Donald Trump].” (The Board of Canvassers later reversed their decision and reached a compromise after a public backlash.)

It’s still unlikely that any of these efforts will change the results of the presidential race, let alone allow Trump to serve a second term. But the Republican Party is now going beyond the scope of soothing the president’s psychic wounds and towards seeking mass disenfranchisement on a scale unseen in American elections since the end of Jim Crow. Those who supported this effort or merely stood by while it happened should never be forgiven for their role in it. Of them, Lindsey Graham is uniquely beyond absolution.

 
Time to call out the GOP’s new Jim Crow tactics - Washington Post

I cannot believe we're still having these conversations.

I mean, I can believe it.... it's just depressing and infuriating.
 
Let’s be brutally honest: We have not seen a coordinated effort of this magnitude and geographic breadth to disenfranchise African American voters since the Jim Crow era. Trump — who has embraced white supremacist symbolism (e.g., the Confederate flag, military bases named for Confederate generals), defended an accused White vigilante murderer, deployed anti-immigrant fearmongering, cheered on Proud Boys and tried to scare White suburbanites with the prospect of racially integrated neighbors — is now leading a campaign that seeks to exclude African American votes. This should remove any doubt that the Trumpist Republican Party, like many right-wing populist parties in Europe, is at its core a racist enterprise.

...

The majority of Republican members of Congress, Trump enablers in right-wing media, the Republican National Committee and local Republican leaders of the type in Wayne County have engaged in a coordinated push to preserve the power of a shrinking White electorate, which is essential to their grip on political power. This is far less discreet than the “Southern strategy”; this is the politics of white supremacy. One need not wear a hood or use racial slurs to qualify as a proponent of this racist mentality, which rests on the assumptions that Whites are entitled to hold the reins of power and that the decline of America is tied to the rise of majority-minority states. Under this ideology, any action (e.g. lying, voter suppression, inciting violence) is justified in the existential fight to preserve their place in American society.
Trumpism Can’t Be Voted Away. We Need Radical Social Transformation. - Truthout

70M people voted for this ogre. Many of them are died in the wool fascist and bigots who are totally and clear-headedly committed to white supremacy, oppression, and strongman idolatry. Most of them are scared about their rapidly declining positions in a social and economic order that they rightly perceive to hold no care or concern for them. The first group needs to be checked and opposed at every turn with a deep appreciation of how dangerous they can be. The second group are potential allies if it can be made clear to them just how much their fear and need to belong are being exploited by those who claim to be their advocates. The system we have works for no one.
 
The Democratic establishment’s failure to acknowledge its role in suppressing progressive electoral energy and contributing to the disappointing performance of many down-ballot Democrats reminds me of the title of a song performed by the Black women’s a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock: “There Are No Mirrors in My Nana’s House.” Their message was different, but it makes me think… there are no mirrors in Nancy Pelosi’s House of Representatives.

...

Our first task has nothing to do with Trump’s base, but our own. In the days ahead, we must not straitjacket our work inside the Democratic Party. We need to strategize and self-organize on all levels.

And by “we” I mean two groups: the eclectic and far-flung motley tribe we call “the left,” and the marginalized frontline communities that have borne the brunt of 21st-century racial capitalism’s wrath, but may not see themselves as explicitly political, one way or another. Those are the two groups that need organizations they can own and shape and feel at home inside of. How do we offer a skeletal frame on which to build that big-tent home, and how do we offer portals of entry to that which is already out there?

...

Part of the work of undermining fascism, and its willing and unwitting enablers, is to disaggregate the movement, as the analysts at Political Research Associates and Southern Poverty Law Center do. Seventy million Trump voters are not a monolith. Some of them clearly embraced Trump’s racist, venomous ideas wholeheartedly. Hopefully, they are a minority. Others are outright ignorant, falling for the many lies they see on television. Finally, some Trump supporters are undoubtedly seduced by his rhetoric, embodying a kernel of truth as every lie does, that “the system is rigged,” and, stretching the limits of credulity, that Trump is out to help “the little guy,” and the average Joe.

Throw in a few hundred congregations of opportunist evangelicals with a skewed and selective brand of morality, and you have Trump’s base. So, the “hearts and minds” part of the battle is to expose, confront and defeat some, shame (yes, shame!) others, and provide a genuine moral and political alternative to those willing to listen.
Rebecca Solnit: On Not Meeting Nazis Halfway - LitHub

On certain things I will never compromise. And it has been shocking to see the rapid mainstreaming of certain principles and beliefs that are non-debatably evil. I am not going to "argue" with anyone about whether Black lives matter or if trans people should have rights. That said, I don't want MAGA fanatics to not have healthcare. I want their children to have access to education. I want them to lead free and meaningful lives with purpose and autonomy. Not because of their specific beliefs, but because I want those things for everyone and I recognize that when anyone is denied them we are all hurt. Nothing will change that. But yeah, you need to put the tiki torch down before we can actually engage in any meaningful way, nothing will change that either.

 
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito just complained that “you can’t say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Now it’s considered bigotry.” This is a standard complaint of the right: the real victim is the racist who has been called a racist, not the victim of his racism, the real oppression is to be impeded in your freedom to oppress. And of course Alito is disingenuous; you can say that stuff against marriage equality (and he did). Then other people can call you a bigot, because they get to have opinions too, but in his scheme such dissent is intolerable, which is fun coming from a member of the party whose devotees wore “fuck your feelings” shirts at its rallies and popularized the term “snowflake.”

Nevertheless, we get this hopelessly naïve version of centrism, of the idea that if we’re nicer to the other side there will be no other side, just one big happy family. This inanity is also applied to the questions of belief and fact and principle, with some muddled cocktail of moral relativism and therapists’ “everyone’s feelings are valid” applied to everything. But the truth is not some compromise halfway between the truth and the lie, the fact and the delusion, the scientists and the propagandists. And the ethical is not halfway between white supremacists and human rights activists, rapists and feminists, synagogue massacrists and Jews, xenophobes and immigrants, delusional transphobes and trans people. Who the hell wants unity with Nazis until and unless they stop being Nazis?

...

I can comprehend, and do, that lots of people don’t believe climate change is real, but is there some great benefit in me listening, again, to those who refuse to listen to the global community of scientists and see the evidence before our eyes? A lot of why the right doesn’t “understand” climate change is that climate change tells us everything is connected, everything we do has far-reaching repercussions, and we’re responsible for the whole, a message at odds with their idealization of a version of freedom that smells a lot like disconnection and irresponsibility. But also climate denial is the result of fossil fuel companies and the politicians they bought spreading propaganda and lies for profit, and I understand that better than the people who believe it. If half of us believe the earth is flat, we do not make peace by settling on it being halfway between round and flat. Those of us who know it’s round will not recruit them through compromise. We all know that you do better bringing people out of delusion by being kind and inviting than by mocking them, but that’s inviting them to come over, which is not the same thing as heading in their direction.

...

Some of us don’t know how to win. Others can’t believe they ever lost or will lose or should, and their intransigence constitutes a kind of threat. That’s why the victors of the recent election are being told in countless ways to go grovel before the losers. This unilateral surrender is how misogyny and racism are baked into a lot of liberal and centrist as well as right-wing positions, this idea that some people need to be flattered and buffered even when they are harming the people who are supposed to do the flattering and buffering, even when they are the minority, even when they’re breaking the law or lost the election.

Race & Policing

Towards The Reduction Of Harm

How My White Privilege Protected Me In Jail - The Marshall Project

The carceral system is truly truly evil...in every way. It does not make us safe and in fact only hurts us all. It cannot be justified or reformed. It must be done away with.
 
Rachael* was over 70 years old and had been arrested for kidnapping her grandchildren from an orphanage where they had been placed. She had subsequently been thrown into the high security section of the Orange County Central Women’s Jail with no ability to get out on bail. This wasn’t because she didn’t have the money, but because her judge had issued a no bail order on her case.

How the police could find any logic to charging Rachael with kidnapping is beyond me. She was nowhere near able-bodied enough to break two children, one of whom was a teeneager, out of an orphanage without their consent. But her story has many layers to it, including a White female social worker who falls into the category of the Amy Coopers of the world. You see, Rachael didn’t fall in line enough to satiate this White social worker, who inevitably called the cops to report her.

...

While all the deputies told me, “You don’t look like you belong here” (a clear nod to what the color of my skin signaled to them), they treated Rachael with disdain. Had it not been for my ability to assist her, I have no doubt that she would have found it nearly impossible to get her basic needs met. In the jail, where everything from food to sleep to outdoor time to clean clothes is doled out in a hyper-militaristic fashion, even an energetic 20-something would be physically and emotionally spent.

...

She wouldn’t stop. We stood there for what felt like centuries while Rachael, the one and only Black woman in our cell block, got chewed out by a White female C.O. because she had forgotten or didn’t have time to don an undergarment, something none of us were expecting to need because none of us were expecting to lower our pants and lift our shirts in front of a bunch of deputies.

🎵To The Left! To The Left!🎵

On That Commie Pinko Tip

The Silenced Majority - Harper’s

My word. This is one of the most well-written, illuminating, convincing, and depressing things I have read all year. In my first sweet trying to determine which quotes from it to include below I ended up pulling something like 40% of the whole piece such was the abundance of the insights and brutal truths. I will def be checking out more of Rana Dasgupta's work now.

The gist: broadly (or even relatively broadly) inclusive democracy is kind of an anomaly in capitalist systems and it is by no means a central component. In America 1945 - 1970 saw a high water mark for prosperity, relative financial equality, labor power, and power at the ballot box. That is all over and it's not coming back. Rather, inequality will only grow, the middle class will drastically shrink, your vote will matter less and less as private Silicon Valley ventures take on more and more of the government's responsibilities, and automation and remote work will only sap the strength of organized labor initiatives. In short: things are bad and they are going to get considerably worse. The economic status derived from simply being an American that we've known for decades will disappear and racial strife in the country will grow from futile attempts to cling to it. political repression, bubble tribalism, neo-feudalism/oligarchy, etc etc etc. Dasgupta does a brilliant job making his case here by showing how we've already seen a version of this in Britain's economic transformations over the last several hundred years and by showing the degree to which an "American" economy (vs. a hyper integrated international behemoth that cares nothing for imaginary map lines) is a fiction.

I'm not doing it justice with my description here. Just read this and try and think of ways we can escape it because frankly I'm at a loss rn.
 
Democracy—in its twentieth-century Western guise—is not compatible with just any economic arrangement. Eighteenth-century Europe could neither afford nor tolerate it, and democratic talk was sternly forbidden. A delicate and unusual set of circumstances brought democratic change. But those circumstances did not occur much outside the West. And now they are disappearing here too.

Instead of seeking lessons from twentieth-century Germany, we should look back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of the Anglo-American complex. That will remind us that most of the phenomena we label fascist—nationalist fictions of ethnic supremacy, mass disenfranchisement, censorship—are fully compatible with free-market capitalism.

...

From their pitiless opposition to the will of the people, we might imagine that British elites were dogmatic and reactionary. (Period dramas depicting stuck-up aristocrats scandalized by eccentricity and innovation flatter this version of history.) The truth is that they were open-minded radicals. They had no sentimentality about the political order, cutting the head off one king and sending another into exile. They could invent financial and legal structures (such as the Bank of England, founded in 1694) capable of releasing unprecedented market energies. Even their decision to exploit American land with African labor demonstrated their world-bending pursuit of wealth. Their mines and plantations would eventually supply the capital for the first industrial revolution. They loved fashion and technology, they believed in rationality, progress, and transparency. They were the “founding fathers” of our modern world.

And yet they presided over a political system as brutal as it was exclusive. Why? The answer is simple. They could not afford democracy, but also, crucially, they did not need it.

...

But in America, inequality has already reached levels not seen since the First World War. According to a recent UN report, forty million Americans now live in poverty, including 5.3 million “in Third-World conditions of absolute poverty.” The richest fifteen Americans, meanwhile, have a combined wealth of more than a trillion dollars. That a bank clerk or restaurant manager might join their ranks is as likely as a Georgian plowman waking up to find he is the duke of Somerset.

...

If less than half the U.S. population is now satisfied with democracy as a system, down from 75 percent in 1995, this is partly the result of Trump’s determined effort to present it as a liability to the MAGA endeavor: it was subject to fraud, it was infiltrated by foreigners, it gave a voice to unpatriotic Americans.

But the defeat of democracy is difficult to accomplish from the Oval Office. And Trump, in the broad scheme of things, is insignificant. He was never a man of vision. He was just a political thug, which was what the moment required. The assault on American democracy will outlast him, and it will be engineered—even if unintentionally—by the oligarchs of Silicon Valley.
Who gets to feel secure? - Aeon

This article would be a lot better with 50% less academic jargon but it crystallizes an essential point about how wildly misaligned our current societal approach to safety and freedom is. We capital safe. We put people in cages, or out on the street where they will suffer in sickness and debt and fear. The system cannot be saved and it is not worth saving because it was never designed to do anything but to keep us making money for it.
 
The historian Elizabeth Hinton recently argued in The New York Times that the seeds of mass incarceration were planted in the 1960s and ’70s in response to the period’s racial uprisings and unrest. The US president Lyndon Johnson convened the Kerner Commission in 1967 to find a solution to the national security problem that the ‘race riots’ represented in the context of Cold War competition over hearts, minds and social structures. The commission answered with a strategy rooted in collaborative security: US political and economic institutions should commit resources ‘sufficient to make a dramatic, visible impact on life in the urban Negro ghetto’. Instead, Johnson signed the first piece of national crime-control legislation into law, and massively invested in the groundwork for a federalised system of surveillance and police militarisation. Over the coming decades and administrations, this would congeal into a massive system of caging and police violence, securing the political aspirations of elites such as Johnson at the expense of the US racial underclass.

...

It is appropriate that the major offensives launched and sustained by the carceral turn have been described as ‘wars’ (the ‘War on Crime’, the ‘War on Drugs’) because they have wreaked the kind of havoc we typically see in the aftermath of interstate conflict. Demographers estimate that, in the US, there are only 83 Black men for every 100 Black women in the non-incarcerated population aged 25 to 54; for comparison, there were 88 French men for every 100 French women in the aftermath of the First World War, for which France had implemented a universal conscription policy that pressed 80 per cent of its 10 million men of ages 15-54 into compulsory service.

...

But the point stands: the ways that we seek to secure ourselves can conspire against deeper and more complex articulations of our political commitments. However noble our intentions, racial capitalism tends to draw the ways we aspire to produce safety and stability into its antagonistic gravitational pull, splitting the world into secure winners and precarised losers. We might need another model entirely.

...

The compound COVID-19 and climate crisis simply brings new stakes to the old question of how to fundamentally reshape a social system that is centrally organised around securing the profit, hierarchical prestige and physical safety of the few through the carceral, environmental and economic insecurity of the many.

 

Things Read

Worthwhile Words

The Dissident Act of Taking a Walk at Night - LitHub


What a singular, undefinable, meditative, haunting, and haunted piece this is. It's kind of an analysis of a Ray Bradbury short story about a man who walks alone at night as the entire world has retreated to zombifying mass entertainment. It's kind of an appreciation of the simple act of engaging with the world and living a life that is yours and not just a digestion of the lives of others (real and imagined) that are fed to you on screen. it is political and sensual. Pessimistic and hopeful. Just an odd great piece.
 
In 1660, colonial law stipulated that the state’s night watchmen should “examine all Night Walkers, after ten of the clock at Night (unless they be known peaceable inhabitants) to enquire whither they are going, and what their business is.” If the individual accosted could not “give Reasonable Satisfaction to the Watchman or constable” making this enquiry, they were liable to be arrested and taken before the magistrate, who would ask them “to give satisfaction, for being abroad at that time of night.” In urban settlements throughout North America there was in the early modern period no right to the night, particularly for plebeians. Almost by definition, the poor could not “give satisfaction for being abroad” after dark. In the streets at night the itinerant were an inherent threat to society. Today, as in the 1950s, residues of this situation persist. Indeed, in some places in the United States, the term “common nightwalker” remains on the statute books, where it indicates a vagrant as well as a streetwalker or sex worker.

...

“The Pedestrian” was written at a time when domestic life in North America was being dramatically altered, not only by the rise of the automobile but also the rise of television. The number of TV sets in the US leapt from 7,000 in 1946 to 50 million in 1950. Bradbury was evidently deeply troubled by these developments; and his dystopian dream of an oppressive society that uses television to ensure a docile, depoliticized population is comparable to Adorno’s contemporaneous critique of the “culture industry.”

...

“The total effect of the culture industry is one of anti-enlightenment,” so the German philosopher argued, “in which enlightenment, that is the progressive technical domination of nature, becomes mass deception and is turned into a means for fettering consciousness.” Adorno, who had lived in Los Angeles throughout the 1940s, contended in “How to Look at Television”(1954) that this particular technology had already become a crucial medium of psychological control. “The repetitiveness, the selfsameness, and the ubiquity of modern mass culture,” he insisted, “tend to make for automatized reactions and to weaken the forces of individual resistance.”

Things Seen

Watched Recently By Wes

Been obsessed with the Black Sabbath version of this song lately but really enjoying this one too.
Random Viewing

Things Made

By My Own Hand

I won't see you here next week so here's a little rewind kickoff to the holiday season.

Word of The Week

Up That Vocab Game

hendecad, n
[ hen - DEK - add ]


Meaning: A group, set, or series of eleven things; spec. (esp. in Old English) a period of eleven years. Formerly also occasionally: †the number eleven (obsolete).

Origin: ncient Greek ἑνδεκάδ-, ἑνδεκάς the number eleven < ἕνδεκα eleven (see hendeca- comb. form) + -άς -ad suffix1.

Somebody Said This

Words To Admire

Fun Facts

Trivia To Bend Your Brain

  • Aerosmith made more money from the use of their music in Guitar Hero than they did from any of their albums.
  • Rabbits eat their own feces in order to capture nutrients they missed the first time around.
  • The "Michelin Man" tire mascot has an official name: Bibendum, and it is taken from Roman poet Horace's Nunc est bibendum (Now is the time to drink)
Copyright © 2020 Wes Hazard -- Comic. Poet. Performer., All rights reserved.


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