Dear Sweet Intern

Dear Joshua,

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ruling on internet regulations. I appreciate hearing from you and I care about your thoughts. […]

We care about keeping the internet open and free. Since its inception, the internet has played a vital role in driving innovation, commerce, economic opportunity and job creation. It has provided an accessible space for small business owners and entrepreneurs to compete in the market. That is why this Congress has rolled back harmful and overreaching regulations that were enacted by the Obama Administration. […]

As this debate continues in Congress, I will keep your comments in mind to ensure a free and open Internet

Sincerely,

Tom Reed
Member of Congress

Thank you, dear Intern, for writing this vacant, pro-forma e-mail for your boss.

Senator Reed (who I’m beginning to suspect may not have read my letter) either has an understanding of Net Neutrality that’s so flawed as to be ironic, or, he is baldly promoting the interests of the multi-national corporations who stand to benefit from its dismantling — in direct opposition to the interests of his constituents.

Constituents like me.

Yes, hi.

Look, I have lots of respect for honest intellectual conservatism, and I understand and share the fear of giant, non-transparent governments.  I’m no fan of fascism, authoritarianism, or really any kind of autocratic government that isn’t The Philosopher King’s Benevolent Monarchy.  I believe the absolute freedom of the individual is our most fundamental modern right, and anything infringing on it requires overwhelmingly demonstrable proof of its necessity.

That being said, I have only hatred in my heart for the corpocracy that rules this country.  We could just as easily be talking about private prisons, or industrial weapons and war profiteering, or health care “insurance” that ranks citizens in access tiers and puts profit-makers between patients and doctors — we could be talking about a great many things, and this fact would remain:

Protecting the freedom of corporations to restrict the freedom of our citizens is an irony of astounding myopia.

Your boss, dear Intern, is either willfully ignorant, willfully corrupt, complacently stupid, or some absurd combination of the three —  NONE OF THESE OPTIONS ARE DEFENSIBLE.

This man and his ilk should — and God willing, someday will — be stripped of their titles and their dignity and made to walk home to their constituents, barefoot and crying.

Sorry, Intern, but — Congressman Reed,  it is my belief that you are a rank asshole.

Listen:

A free market REQUIRES REGULATION TO OPERATE.  The game-theory incentives of a truly free market are for the top players to collude, force out competition, then drive up prices.  ALL unrestricted markets devolve into MONOPOLY, ALWAYS.  If you stand to benefit from that system, as Congressman Reed does, and your principles are only skin-deep, self-serving lip service, as Congressman Reed’s are, then hey, who cares?

But if you care about justice, or kindness, or the collective human trust that is placed in the hands of a public SERVANT, then you care. And what’s more, you are growing increasingly ANGRY at being talked to like a child.

As I’m sure you can tell, this is not just about New Neutrality.  This is about an entire civilization’s tipping point of no return.  It’s about what we could be, versus what we are, and what we are becoming.  Intern, forgive me, but your boss IS the servant of someone, and it isn’t the public; worse, they see the public as something bovine, undeserving of empathy, something to harvest.  But as that public grows more educated, as knowledge is further democratized and disseminated, it’s possible the day of their disgrace is coming.  For their sake, for all our sake’s, if that day comes I hope our species has outgrown the guillotine.

For today, though, for this sorry day in a string of sorry days, the slap in the face that was your pro-forma response has simply cost him a vote he never had.  And so he laughs, and returns to his life.  Hell, he probably won’t even have to face the minor discomfort of reading this letter.

Forgive me my malice, Mr. Reed, but on the off-chance this does make it to your desk, I hope you choke on your next ill-gotten check as it’s crammed down your insatiable, still-slurping throat.  The choking would not stop the slurping, I’m sure.

You are beyond saving.

But for you, Intern, all I can say is question everything.  Nobody has a premium on absolute truth, not your boss, not your boss’ boss, and certainly not me.  It’s up to you to bring the servant back to public servant.  Someone has to be the seed.  If the corporations aren’t pried off the head of our democracy soon, they will devour the host; and this 200-year experiment of by the people, for the people, will fall finally to its ruin.  If you aspire to a place of rulership in the new aristocracy of that old world order, then goodbye sweet Intern, and God save your soul.

But if you aspire to a better world, one constructed in the very face of the supra-national powers that rule us — If you aspire to preserving and fulfilling the promises of actual freedom and self-government made at the signing of our incredible constitution, well, you have my email address.

I’ll be here, swallowing my vomit, husbanding the last of my compassion, cupping my calloused hands around the flickering, fading light that was the birth of this beautiful republic.

By the people, For the people,

With love,

Joshua.

Featured post

dakhabrakha

The Amadeus Effect:

When a new artist enters your orbit and everything else abruptly pales, listless, lifeless in comparison.  DakhaBrakha Wolfganged me:  they sucked the air out of all other music, my own efforts included, and left me swooning, grateful, in helpless head-nodding admiration.

Everything about this band, from their cultivated visual aesthetic, their Slavic folk lyrics, their internal rhythm and delicately deployed multi-instrumental capacities, their multi-part chanting harmonies, down even to their origin story in the Kiev theater scene amid the political tumult of modern Ukraine, it’s all exactly right.  I’m sure this will pass, I’m sure I’ll be able to appreciate other artists, other kinds of beauty again, but…

God damn man.

This shit is electric.

ambiguity

“None is poor, O Bhikha,
everyone has rubies in their bindle;
but how to open the knot,
they do not know”

–Bhikha Sahib

i was the one worth leaving

“…Farewell happy fields
Where joy for ever dwells: hail horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new possessor: one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what should I be, all but less than he
Whom thunder hath made greater?
Here at least
We shall be free;”

–John Milton, Paradise Lost

a Postal Service song

faking the books

Things have been bad lately, and I’ve found myself sinking deeper, losing light, forced to explore down here in the darker places.  On a recent deep dive I stumbled upon the influences of the Postal Service, and discovered there something gorgeous.

I’ll be true again
But until then

The best thing about the void is that absolute black is the perfect backdrop to feature beautiful things.  So I placed my find on that lightless plane, and up from the depths I carried it back, cupped in my hands, to share its warmth and color here, with you.  

the cage it called

Whatever he was asked about Zen, Master Gutei simply stuck up one finger.

He had a boy attendant whom a visitor asked, “What kind of teaching does your master give?”  The boy held up one finger too.  Hearing of this, Gutei cut off the boy’s finger with a knife.  As the boy ran away, screaming with pain, Gutei called to him.  When the boy turned his head, Gutei stuck up one finger. 

The boy was suddenly enlightened.

a Phosphorescent song

forever dolphin love

I was talking about fruit from the Mac Demarco music tree here recently, and this performance is the prime example.  Check out Mac back there in the blonde fan-boy wig, happily playing back-up egg-shaker.  He’s much more famous than Connan Mockasin, but here he is on stage without a guitar, grooving and singing along.  Watching him back there, just happy to be hanging out, asking no part of the spotlight, really makes me smile.

As for this video, I’m putting it here as much for myself as anyone else.  Much of it is from Connan’s second album, Caramel, and the real delights don’t start for me until around the 23:00 mark when they begin ever so slowly to tease out Forever Dolphin Love (30:00), and then again at 51:00 for Megumi (57:00).  But if you’re looking for something to put on in the background at home, I recommend it all.

The sound is mixed better than any live recording I’ve ever heard, the aesthetics are on point in all aspects, and they’re just having such a good time together up there.  The music is complex and sneakily potent, drawn from a jazz background and then played in an almost lazy, laconic style, like he’s not even sure how his guitar works.  Make no mistake though, that weird little Kiwi is a serious god damn musician.

If you’re looking to up your hipster cred, here’s your chance:  Connan Mockasin is currently on every indie musician’s list of hopeful underground collaborations (most recently he featured on a James Blake song).  What he has chosen to express is undeniably strange, but you can’t argue with his ability to articulate his vision.  The guy is a scientific singularity.  Though he draws from a thousand influences, you could never mistake him for anyone else.

Full disclosure, it might take some work to get in there.  This sort of Funkadelic-meets-Pink-Floyd phenomenon didn’t click for me right away.  I recommend taking a maybe counter-intuitive tack and starting your listening with the bass player.  Close your eyes and find the groove he’s laying down.  Then work your way back through the instruments:  bass, then drums, then rhythm guitar and synth, then lead guitar, and last land on the vocals.  When you look up and it’s the middle of Forever Dolphin Love, and all that weird noodling has come together and your head is bobbing uncontrollably, well, come and find me — I’ll have Mac get you sorted with a wig and an egg shaker.

Connan Mockasin.

Seriously, get involved.

in which i seriously consider vats

i can’t stop thinking
about compression;

about how when you’re standing
on your feet all day they swell
so you lay yourself down
because the idea of pressing
blood against meat against bone
of pressing against the bone
on the bottoms of your feet
is unbearable
so you stay down
and discover the pressure
has just shifted to your back
to your legs to your ass you get
fat you get bedsores and still
wherever you’re making contact
there it is, pressing, so you stand
and then you realize this is it:

i have to shift this weight — i will
always have to shift this weight;

there’s no avoiding it; it’s unbearable
if you think about it too much,
and what is too much? any much.
but you have to work you have to
press something against something
in this life this compression you have
to have a job you have to struggle
to eat you have to age you have to
watch people fall away you have to
shift that weight you have to
walk out into the world

you just have to.

but maybe if we were wealthy
we could commission a vat
full of special buoyant liquid:
a vat to suspend us
softly,
indefinitely,
and we could live there and work
there and fuck there and eat
there and get out for tolerable
jaunts on our poor compressed
feet then run home and jump

(oh sweet freedom,
sweet airborn bliss)

back into the vat.

but my make-believe vats i know
are for make-believe people — rich
people — and we sick must stand
or lie down or squirm; we must
shift weight we must press meat
against blood against bone
we must press against the bone.

and let’s be honest:
even were we wealthy,
make-believe people,
we should not live in vats.

the look

If you ever find yourself wondering what album to play while speeding down the coast of East Africa, high on cocaine and cane liquor, heading to a local white sand beach, feeling cool as fuck in your aviators while the hot wind whips your hair and the thing you love most in the world withers and dies in your senseless hands, well, wonder no more.  I got you.

“and now you’re giving me the look…”

pyotr

The story goes like this:

During his first marriage, Peter the Great (Pyotr Alekseyevich) took for his mistress a peasant woman named Marta Helena Skowrońska.  When his first wife died, he married Marta in secret, she changed her name to Catherine, and would go on to bear him twelve children.  Peter spent much of his reign rooting out corruption in his government, and Willem Mons, Catherine’s secretary, was accused of peddling access to the royal family through his position.  Catherine supposedly knew, but chose to ignore the offense out of affection for her secretary.  After Peter ordered his summary execution Catherine was furious — the couple didn’t speak for months.

The story also goes like this:

At some point during their marriage, Catherine took for herself a lover, a man named Willem Mons.  When Peter found out, he had Mons beheaded, and his severed head preserved in a jar of formaldehyde.  Then he forced Catherine to take time each day to sit and look at it.

So… Yeah.

Andy Hull’s song tells the second version, from the alternating perspectives of Peter and the head.  It’s almost pornographically gruesome, yes.  And there appears to be no evidence for any of it.  And I absolutely hate when art requires extensive contextual explanation, or a background in obscure esoterics, before it makes any god damn sense.  But this obtuse erotic torture fantasy somehow won me over, because despite all of that, what it really is, is a love song.  And it’s just brilliant.

“Oh Catherine tell me, was it worth it for him?”

a Bad Books song

Also, it’s worth noting here that when Peter died he had no male heirs.  During the succession crisis, the “new men” whom Peter had raised to prominence, for merit rather than birth, pulled off a successful coup against the return of the old aristocracy.  For the face of this new government, they chose Peter’s popular widow.  So this peasant woman, born Marta, now known as Catherine, would succeed Peter to the throne of Russia, and rule for two years as Empress Catherine I.  As the first female to sit the throne in her own right, she would set a legal precedent for the position that would come to include her own daughter, Elizabeth, and in time her great-granddaughter-in-law, Catherine the Great.

So?  How’s that for a happy ending?

Yeah, still pretty dark, I know.

on failure and sadness and beautiful things

“…and the man goes walking, I go walking, through the forest and I run into five hundred thousand Galicians who are walking and crying.  And then I stop (a kindly giant, an interested giant for the last time) and I ask them, why they’re crying.  And one of the Galicians stops and says:  because we’re all alone and we’re lost.”

Joshua Clark Orkin

holes

On the moon there was neither air nor wind.  Its vacuum was perfect for preserving memories unscathed.  No one could unlock the heart of the moon. Aomame raised her glass to the moon and asked, “Have you gone to bed with someone in your arms lately?”
_____The moon did not answer.
_____“Do you have any friends?” she asked.
_____The moon did not answer.
_____“Don’t you get tired of always playing it cool?”
_____The moon did not answer.

~

Tengo had no idea, of course, what Aomame had offered to the moon that time, but he could well imagine what the moon had given her: pure solitude and tranquility. That was the best thing the moon could give a person.

–Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

wild with the okayness

Percy Wakes Me (Fourteen)

Percy wakes me and I am not ready.
He has slept all night under the covers.
Now he’s eager for action: a walk, then breakfast.
So I hasten up.  He is sitting on the kitchen counter
__where he is not supposed to be.
How wonderful you are, I say.  How clever, if you
 __needed me,
____to wake me.
He thought he would hear a lecture and deeply
__his eyes begin to shine.
He tumbles onto the couch for more compliments.
He squirms and squeals: he has done something
__that he needed
____and now he hears that it is okay.
I scratch his ears.  I turn him over
__and touch him everywhere.  He is
wild with the okayness of it.  Then we walk, then
__he has breakfast, and he is happy.
This is a poem about Percy.
This is a poem about more than Percy.
Think about it.

–Mary Oliver, Swan

 

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