Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pinko's Problems, Naked Hippies and Yelling Fire

I've been missing my bear since he left to drive a taxi in Reno last week, and he's been missing me.  I suspect he misses me more because he started having troubles as soon as preparations for his departure began - specifically, the power in the basement of our building went off while our clothes were in the dryer, so that a simple task that usually takes about 90 minutes took all damn weekend.  Meanwhile, he spilled something onto his laptop keyboard and effectively killed his computer.  Then his phone went on the fritz and now he's had an attack of gout. He's even experienced some administrative hassles and garden variety mishaps at work, so he hasn't been able to drive which is probably just as well since he ate himself into a gout attack again and with that kind of pain in your toe, it's not safe to drive anyway.

I have every sympathy for him, I really do - but I can't help thinking that while he's laid up in a recliner in Reno, with little company accept the remote control, he might take a moment to consider that working for some boring lawyers in Brooklyn wouldn't have been so bad.

He resisted sending his resume to a small law firm in Brooklyn after somebody posted in the Burning Man Facebook group posted that the office where he worked was looking for part-time office clerks.  I'll admit it was a long commute for a part-time job, and the work itself was mind numbing and there was a chance that the lawyers were assholes.  But those lawyers might have been tolerable and, regardless, their money is as green as anyone else's.  Actually, Pinko resisted putting his resume together for months allegedly because the whole process offended his sensibilities. Personally, I think it's much more likely that the whole process reminds him that he's an old, overweight man who has been unemployed for over two years, not counting the taxi driving, and in his mind that means nobody will ever hire him.  To me, he looks like a mature, reliable, intelligent worker who anyone would be glad to have working in their office.

It's depressing to be unemployed for a couple of years, and it's also depressing to see that the industry where you've been highly successful has changed so much over the last decade that nobody in the business these days remotely understands what you do.  Where nightclubs used to do their own programming and promotion, now freelance promoters pimp freelance DJs and everyone gets a cut of the bar instead of getting a legitimate paycheck.  It's kind of like how newspapers laid off all the staff writers so they didn't have to pay salary and benefits then paid the very same writers to write by the piece.  The whole thing is depressing.

It's not as depressing as the situation in Gaza or the rush to war in Ukraine, however.  I'm pretty sure that everyone - especially those of us who grew up with Henry Kissinger in the White House - knows very well that the US funds genocide whenever it suits corporate interests, but the way Congress supported Israel this week was still nauseating.  The only thing that's made me smile in the news this week was this snippet from an article on Common Dreams:
Are we supposed to believe – and perhaps more relevant, do the Washington Post writers actually believe – that the U.S. government with the world’s premier intelligence services can’t track three lumbering trucks each carrying large mid-range missiles?
What I’ve been told by one source, who has provided accurate information on similar matters in the past, is that U.S. intelligence agencies do have detailed satellite images of the likely missile battery that launched the fateful missile, but the battery appears to have been under the control of Ukrainian government troops dressed in what look like Ukrainian uniforms.
The source said CIA analysts were still not ruling out the possibility that the troops were actually eastern Ukrainian rebels in similar uniforms but the initial assessment was that the troops were Ukrainian soldiers. There also was the suggestion that the soldiers involved were undisciplined and possibly drunk, since the imagery showed what looked like beer bottles scattered around the site, the source said (July 20).
Given that the US and NATO are funding the neo-nazis who burned these "rebels" alive in Odessa back in May (Greg Butterfield, IACenter), it's no surprise that there is a rush to blame the same rebels for shooting down the Malaysian airliner last week.  But still, it's depressing.

In the face of all the atrocities our government has been supporting - and that includes shutting off water  in Detroit in the latest attempt to commodify and privatize human needs - I'm glad that Pinko has been proactive, vigorous and determined about his own activism.  I still wish he had gotten a part-time job in New York, but one person can only focus on so many things.  Pinko focused on social justice, which led him to the International Action Center where he met a brilliant fellow he'd only known from the internet named Caleb Maupin.  Caleb alerted Pinko to the teach-in on revolutionary theory at the WWP over 4th of July weekend.

As a side note, Velvet is working at Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp again, teaching outdoor living and wilderness skills to over 100 boys aged 9 - 14 years.  The camp doesn't celebrate 4th of July. They celebrate Interdependence Day.  I always enjoyed that little twist of language to emphasize our connection to each other and the earth.

Here's a video about the camp made when Velvet was still a camper himself.  He's even in this video, with his little glasses on looking a bit like Harry Potter in an orange shirt.



Anyone can see that the camp is very white, but they can't help that being in Vermont where they practically have to import black people. They have to import Muslims, too, which is one of the reasons the camp eliminated the Fifth Freedom, which essentially was the right to skinny dip or run naked through the woods. In any case, despite the struggle to balance their old values with their need for grant money from foundations that often frown on naked hippies in the woods, the camp is still one of the bright spots in a land called America where it appears that majority of people are committed to endless war and ecocide. Maybe Americans don't support the government outright, but from a practical standpoint, Silence means Consensus. Silence doesn't really mean consensus - ask anyone who has been date raped or otherwise molested - but now that I think about it, I believe that casting the US Government in the role of a rapist is appropriate.

So even though I still wish Pinko would have gotten a job in New York - and certainly he wouldn't be hanging out in Casino parking lots, hoping someone who is too drunk to drive home has the sense to take a cab right now if he had a job in New York - it's a good thing he had the time and energy to hang out with dedicated radicals. It can get intense sometimes, like when we marched on the News Corp building (where Rupert Murdoch keeps his stable of outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Fox) calling for accurate news coverage as well as an end to US funding to Israel (Answer Coalition, July 10).  I've been in demonstrations before, but I never stood beside people whose families were being bombed or had already been killed by the US and/or our allies.

photo from Thomson Reuters Foundation
It was a good place to be.  Marching on Fox News or CNN won't change US foreign policy.  It won't get the news outlets to cover the marches even when their own office is surrounded by demonstrators.  But I feel better knowing the women I walked with could look over and see a boojie white woman standing with them instead of standing in line at Starbucks. I also was reminded to be grateful that my happy little world remains my happy little world.

I may fret over Pinko's job search skills or worry about stretching one paycheck all the way to Burning Man, but there is so much love between us that we can share it with all kinds of others, and our neighborhood is at peace.  He hasn't done The Pinko the Bear Show from Reno since his computer is in the shop, but for some reason, his theme song has been in my head when I've woken up every morning since he left.





Friday, July 4, 2014

Pondering Vocabulary on the Fourth of July

I suppose every couple must reconcile Sex and Money issues. That's three issues, really - issues around sexuality, issues around finances and the way the two influence and have an impact on each other.  How ever you choose to identify the topics, they certainly have been spinning around in the spiritual and romantic alchemy between PENolan and Pinko the Bear as we've been establishing who we are as a components in a couple while we have been concurrently learning more intimately about each other as individuals.

As we have been out and about, introducing each other and ourselves at one event or another, or when I've been talking about him to friends colleagues, - I've been noticing the labels that people use as shorthand to briefly describe ourselves and our friends, family and relationships.

It's hard to know what to call a committed, cohabitating relationship when you're not Husband or Wife.  I've just started calling ABear my bear.  It's easier than saying "the man I'm sleeping with." When I first got divorced, my friend Rhet Who Won't Speak to Me, said that the man in my life was confronted with a task rather like the Man with the Yellow Hat in Curious George.  Although it's a tacky sort of notion, it wasn't far from wrong, but I wasn't PENolan when he said that because the divorce wasn't final.  Technically, I was still Mrs. BuzzKill.

For institutional purposes, specifically getting him on my health insurance, ABear and I are domestic partners.  When I'm introducing him to my friends or acquaintances at parties, I call him ABear. At home, I call him ABear too, mostly.  It was fun to introduce him as my bear at the Gay Pride Parade last Sunday, that's for sure.

While I've been trying to figure out a vocabulary word for our relationship, I've been having fun telling people that he's a communist.  For example, when a woman at work asked me what what he did, I said, "Oh, he's a Communist.  He does Communist things."  She didn't know how to respond, and neither did a friend's co-worker whom I met at a Canada Day party the other night.

So on this day, Independence Day, which is such a clusterfuck of USery, I'm thinking about the vocabulary we use to describe things since clearly - like Noam Chomsky says - the structures of power are so embedded in our system that they determine the vocabulary we use to discuss all sorts of abstract concepts - like politics, ethics, economics and whatever.  Consumerism and Imperialism come immediately to mind on Independence Day, but I'd rather think about Revolution.  ABear is off studying Revolutionary Theory, among other things, at with these guys:

http://www.workers.org/wwp/
They're hosting an Educational Weekend of Marxist-Lenninst Theory and Practice.  It's all very well and good to talk about revolution, but if it comes to that, somebody better know a bit about what's worked and what hasn't during the revolutions of the past century.  Overall, Pinko holds the opinion that nobody needs to know what dead people had to say about anything to know that things are currently fucked up and there has to be a better way.  Maybe there won't be a horrific crisis due to  Climate Change, for example, that leads to systemic collapse, but even still, knowing a bit about history is useful and makes it easier to participate in the inevitable, endless deconstructions in which enthusiasts and philosophers endlessly indulge.  Anyway, it's where all the cool radicals are hanging out this Fourth of July weekend, and Pinko is nothing if not a cool radical.  When I'm thinking of him in Revolutionary terms, I always call him "Pinko" on account of The Pinko the Bear Show.  Either way, he's a bear, and it's been fun to introduce him to people as add a Communist, although strictly speaking, he's an Anarcho-communist.  I've always been a communist, even though I never self-identified as one.  It kind of goes without saying when you're radical educator as defined by writers like by bell hooks.

Pinko and I have covered a lot of ground since I met him for our first date at Burning Man last year, and now, we're getting ready to go again - this time as a couple.  He's heading out to Reno next week to drive a cab because, as he likes to say, "Burning Man doesn't pay for itself," and he never found suitable employment here in the city.  It would have been nice if he'd have found a decent job, but by the time he gave up on the DJ idea, it made more sense for him to drive out in Reno.  That way, addressing the money issues will have minimal impact on exploring the sexual ones.

I'll join him in mid-August, and we'll head out into the desert together.  I'm counting the night the man burns as our anniversary.






Sunday, April 13, 2014

Thing of Beauty #077-101: Just Askin'

For the last couple of weeks, I've been playing so many silly video games from a website that my index finger hurts.  Most likely, this situation is a result of trying to avoid saying that my dad has cancer.
It's only prostate cancer - and I say "only" intentionally because I keep hearing that if you have to have cancer, then prostate cancer is a good one to get because it's typically isolated in the prostate so it doesn't spread around the body which means that the man involved should live out his natural lifespan. I guess that's because most men are old men nearing the end of their natural life span before anyone discovers prostate cancer.  Nevertheless, the word "cancer" is a big, scary word, and it's a drag to apply it to anyone you love.

There's also the fact that both my parents turned 75 recently, which means that I'll be 55 this year, and no matter how you slice it, 55 is old.  Just ask AARP.  I don't feel particularly old until I remember that I'm 55, however.  Pinko is pretty old, too, since he'll turn 52 this summer.  If everything goes according to plan, he'll be out in the desert working with the DPW (Department of Public Works) to set up Black Rock City for Burning Man.   This year, the Man will stand flat on the ground so I expect people will try to climb to the top of the Man unless somebody is planted around the base to prevent climbers.  He's supposed to look like this:


He'll be up in flames soon enough, though, emphasizing the temporary nature of all things in this world and the need to recognize Immediacy (one of the Ten Principles).  Which brings us back to my dad.

Overall, I'm not worried about my dad since prostate cancer is not supposed to be any big deal.  It's just cancer, after all, and plenty of people recover from cancer every day.  But I still say that Cancer is a big, scary word since plenty of people die painful deaths from it too.  People die from all kinds of things, though.  Frankie Knuckles, one of Pinko's major influences as a DJ, died a couple of weeks ago because of Diabetes complications.  Pinko was very sad about Frankie Knuckle's death not only because Knuckes was a role model but also because it reminded him of his own mortality.

I'm pretty sure nothing reminds me of my own mortality because I'm one of those Airy Fairy Hippy Dippy Pagan types who think we're all energetic beings in an energetic universe, so that which we call Consciousness floats away somewhere to join the rest of the energetic universe.  Who knows what happens next?  Frankly, I don't think it matters at all.  The whole discussion is irrelevant.  Much more important to focus on what we're doing here and now - which is, of course, the whole point of Immediacy and Burning Man in general.  Seize the Day, and all that.

As a way of dealing with his sadness about Frankie Knuckles, Pinko made a mix.  It's on Mix Cloud under his DJ name, ABear.  I especially like this song, "Baby Wants to Ride," because there are some lefty political sentiments buried under all the sexy lyrics.  Something about not being able to fuck around fascists.


About the time Frankie Knuckles died, Punk Patriot posted a piece by Gil Scott Heron called Whitey on the moon:


I still say that the reason all those Teabaggers got their bowels in an uproar in the first place is because they realized that with the way the economy has gone, they don't get to be Whitey anymore.  Income inequity being what it is, very few folks get to be Whitey anymore.


There's a lot of depressing stuff in the world, so I'm glad that Pinko/ABear can focus on Art and Activism while I'm at work.  Last week we went out to the Brooklyn Museum to participate in an action with the NYC Light Brigade, standing in solidarity with Chinese dissident and artist Ai Weiwei.

There's me and Pinko at the end, holding the O and the N.  He's wearing a hat.


I had never heard of Weiwei until ABear forwarded me the email from the Light Brigade with information about the demonstration.  We watched a documentary about him, Never Sorry, on Wednesday night in preparation for the event, but I'm sorry to say I kept dosing off since it was after dinner and going on 10:00.  He's cool and everything, and for sure, freedom of expression is a right worth defending especially since as we continue along this alarming, totalitarian trajectory the NSA and Homeland Security have set for this country with the blessing of our officials, elected or appointed, especially those in the White House, it's only a matter of time before America stops pretending our paramilitary police forces aren't already beating and locking up dissidents.  For now, it would just be nice if the dang cops would stop impulsively murdering people - like that poor guy in Albuquerque where the cops have a "pattern of excessive force." They have a pattern of excessive force in Oakland, too, but it doesn't get as much publicity.  

Meanwhile, I'm taking Pinko/ABear to Houston next weekend to meet my parents.  Texas has always served as an illustration that there are violent, stupid people in authority everywhere.  High Schools in Texas, like Klein for example, have their own private cops and jail cells.  Apparently, if you lock kids up on campus the statistics don't get recorded like they do when somebody calls the cops.  Klein School District's blend of stupidity and violence isn't limited to High Schoolers, however.  They handcuffed an 8 year old, for Pete's sake.  And of course, tasering is common in school districts nationwide (NYTimes).   There is nothing like a trip to Texas to make you appreciate living in New York City.

New York is not for everyone, I know.  It's noisy, crowded and often smelly - but I love my little home in Historic Harlem, and Pinko finally feels fully at home too.  Moving to New York during the worst winter any of us have seen in 25 years or more, Pinko did okay - especially when you consider that he lived in Hawaii for several years before he moved to Reno, where he's been enjoying lovely weather for the last decade.  He'll be making his New York debut as a DJ later this week at the bar where the owner flaked out about Soul Sundays.  I'm excited because it represents his first step back on the path toward making money doing something he loves.  He's made mixes the whole time I've known him, but once he started getting ready for Wednesday, he seemed to get a new fire inside. He reminded me of my Pulitzer Prize winning brother when he's jazzed about work or talking about baseball.  It may take a little time, but as long as he's following his bliss, as they say, the rest will fall into place.

I like being an artsy, activist couple - and when you look at many full-time activists, you will find someone supportive with a decent full-time job with benefits.  Fortunately, I've always loved my job (most days), so I'm happy to have that role.  Velvet and Gigi occasionally express a bit of worry that being the breadwinner is a struggle for me, but I suppose that's to be expected.  They're both New Yorkers to the core and have trouble imagining that someone might be overwhelmed by the noise, the attitude and the subways.  I hope they both can come out to the bar on Wednesday to see ABear coming back to life professionally because then maybe they will see what I see and understand that the best thing to do is let the man find his own way in the big city.

In a way, it's like Burning Man has provided a beacon for him to follow since he found the bar because of a Burner Happy Hour, and now he's arranged for Burner Happy Hour to be at that same bar next week when he's playing.  And of course, we found each other at Burning Man since I went out there specially to meet him.  A lot has happened since last May when he posted this status on Facebook:
Is this too much to ask?
Wanted : Revolutionary female.
Nice skin and height weight proportion (plus or minus 30%) ... smooth clean skin... all or most teeth... street level education or above... Half my age plus 7 is ideal but 23 - 65 is the extreme range.
Anti-Capitalist, Pinko, Commie, Syndicalist, Anarchist with a passion for Social Justice.
Social drinker and occasional drug user.
No addicts, please.
Just askin'...
So much, in fact, that I believe it qualifies as Thing of Beauty #077-101 (Explore Beauty: A Challenge). I have to pause here to thank Jennifer Morrison for initiating the Explore Beauty Challenge since looking for the beauty instead of the bullshit has been part of my own path these last couple of years.  My buddy Max, who mentored me through A Course in Miracles, has also helped me learn to distinguish between the Ways of the World and the life of the spirit.  And even though Pinko/ABear is an entrenched empiricist who resists the idea that we even have a spirit, he's got a lot of Heart, as they say.  So much he might as well be spiritual, although he uses a decidedly different vocabulary - but that's another topic.

For now, I'm just glad I didn't chicken out about Burning Man last year and that we're gearing up to go again.  The Man Burns in 139 days . . .








Friday, March 21, 2014

The New Normal

Pinko, aka ABear, and I are in the process of establishing ourselves as domestic partners.  Once we meet certain criteria, we can declare ourselves as such to my employer, Dog bless them, and he can be on my health insurance for $14 a month.  $19 with dental.

We might have gone out yesterday to perform one of the institutional tasks required to satisfy that criteria, but we decided to have a pajama day instead which meant foraging for breakfast and lunch among the last of the provisions lingering in the refrigerator, and having dinner after  Drunken! Careening! Writers!  I always love DCW, but last night was especially nice because Eddie Safarty read from a novel in progress.  His dear friend Bob Smith was in attendance.  I especially love Bob Smith because his newest book proves that there is someone on this earth who cheerfully despises Dick Cheney even more than I do - which is saying something (Remembrance of Things I forgot: A Novel)

Normally, I would have gone to the grocery store after work and brought home enough food for days, but I'm on spring break so there is no work.  More importantly, however, now that Pinko and I are institutionalizing our relationship, we're in the process of developing a New Normal.  Neither one of us will ever see the Old Normal again, which is all good.  The trick is to create a New Normal that integrates the things we each enjoyed/required in our individual Old Normals.  Life as a couple is great, but we both still need to meet our individual needs.

For example, I used to meditate or write in the mornings before work since I routinely woke up at 5:30am.  While I am blissfully content to remain in bed with Pinko until the last possible minute, that quiet time in the morning was important to maintaining my personal equilibrium.  Coming to a New Normal means finding new ways to achieve that equilibrium - like putting in some quality time on the treadmill in the gym downstairs in the basement while a couple of loads of laundry are in the wash down the hall.   I've been meaning to get in that habit for over a year, and I successfully managed to implement this plan earlier this week.

Pinko has successfully recognized that as the man of the house, he's in charge of managing the recycling and taking out the trash.  I'm pretty sure the church ladies in the building have noticed a change in the recycling since the new normal includes drinking for two, our occasional guests, as well as Velvet, Gigi and sometimes Cupcake.


Burner Happy Hour has been a big part of Pinko's transition to his own new normal.  Mostly, I also go to this weekly "meet and greet" event, but he's perfectly capable of finding his way to the Lower East Side and back on his own these days.  It's very fortunate that the Burning Man community here in New York is very strong because knowing a small group of people from out on the playa has reduced some of the stress and isolation Pinko might feel as a result of moving clear across the country to a big, strange city.  It's also yielded a perfect temporary job.  A Burner in Brooklyn owns a small perfume company which is staffed by Burners, and when they were moving the office a couple of weeks ago, they placed an ad for temporary help in the Burner Classified.  Pinko found his way to Brooklyn and back all by himself - which is more than a lot of people living in the 212 area code can say after several years in New York City.

He still wants to get a steady gig as a DJ in a bar a couple of nights a week, though, and although he's successfully avoided updating his resume until now, it looks like he's going to have to bite the bullet and conform to this cultural expectation if he wants to secure employment.   For a little while, it looked like he'd be working on Sundays at  a bar where the burners met just before Thanksgiving called NoFun.  ABear (and he's ABear here because that's his DJ name) finds NoFun comfortable and friendly, so he's wound up there a few times when I've gone home early and left him to his own devices downtown.  One of the bartenders came up with an idea to stimulate business on Sundays which have been painfully slow which translates into painfully few tips for a good bartender.  The concept was to pull in regular customers from the neighborhood with classic, old school, MoTown soul music - as opposed to the technopop stuff that attracts yuppies from the suburbs (or Bridge and Tunnel, as we here in 212 describe that crowd) who line up to get into the bar on weekends.

Any time I've been at NoFun, some random, inexperienced DJ has offered up music I've come to call Electro-Assault.  Even when I don't get an instant headache, which ABear says is a result of not mixing in enough base so that the treble enters your brain like an exploding pin cushion, I get the impression that these boy DJs think that the minute they plug in their technology, they magically transport to a warehouse filled with hundreds of attractive ravers gyrating in a giant ecstasy inspired amoeba of dance.  Unfortunately, there are really only four guys in button-downs and khakis by Polo jumping around like douchebags getting drunk for the first time at somebody's Bar Mitzvah.

photo swiped from the internet - not an actual night at said bar

Whatever.  It's just too bad that he said last Sunday could be a Soul Sunday, so ABear and I went down there instead of going to see Lee Camp's new show because ABear committed to playing.  We got there and some little guy was already set up to play.  The bartender was disappointed, and we were disappointed - even more disappointed because it turns out that when the owner authorized Soul Sundays he'd evidently forgotten that he had already told this little fellow could have Sundays for the foreseeable future.  He says the youngster is the child of one of his mother's friends.

As a result of all this disappointment, the resume is back on ABear's "to do" list, and he spent a couple of days searching for an old copy to update.  He could have created a new one, but I suppose that idea was entirely overwhelming.  I totally trust his process, so whatever ABear wants to do is fine with me.  He finally found one on a defunct website for people in the hospitality and entertainment fields, but in my view, it makes much more sense for the NSA to provide some sort of data retrieval service.

It would be very fucking simple for our internet providers - who already collect our personal data for the NSA anyway - to add data retrieval services for a few extra bucks per month.  If you bundle your services with AT&T, Verizon, Comcast or anyone else who has phone, internet and TV, you could get pertinent phone conversations too.  Imagine if Woody Allen and Mia Farrow could produce exact records from certain phone calls to clear up the whole child molester thing.  The NSA has everything on us all the way back to those permanent records principals and other authority figures used to threaten  back in elementary school - not to mention every purchase we've made ever since the first consumer used the first supermarket or drugstore club card.

With budget shortfalls so severe the US is compelled to neglect human need in order to pay for endless war and ecocide, you'd think someone would be selling NSA as the very best single solution for all your data backup needs.   The information is probably in your permanent record at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland (photo by Trevor Paglen in The//Intercept).


I'm thinking we can count the surveillance state as part of the new normal, along with our paramilitary police force, the increasing number of earthquakes as a result of fracking, and a media consolidated and controlled so throughly by corporations that propaganda and celebrity gossip is reported as news by people so stupid they don't even notice what they're saying - as illustrated in this oldie but goodie from KTVU in Oakland, California:



More on the NSA from The//Intercept:
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/03/?post_type=article&title=News

And a bit about Big Data and citizen profiling from The Atlantic:
Welcome to Algorithmic Prison




Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Click Bait and The Decline of Empire - a Pinko Valentine

For Valentines Day, I gave Pinko my cold.  He's sleeping through his cold, but my cold turned into one of those lingering, loose coughs.  I blame the NYC Department of Education, since I had to trudge through the blowing snow and ice, over mounds of frozen sludge to climb onto the bus to get to school.  Our school stayed open because DOE was open.

I get it that the Department of Education has many issues to balance, but it seemed to me that DeBlasio was looking at schools as day care centers for low wage workers.   Priveliged workers can work from home, take a personal day, or figure something out because we typically have options and support structures in place.  Low wage workers can be at work or be replaced. 

Teachers across the region were fully pissed off on Thursday and used social media to vent.   New York Collective of Radical Educators posted a link to a news story featuring this photo/caption.

"School's in NYC are to remain open." - Bill de Blasio
I'd provide the title of the story, but it was one of those typical "click bait" titles that describe the contents of the article as hilarious, and in my considered opinion, the contents were mildly amusing at best.   The one with Godzilla made me chuckle because it's an accurate assessment of the situation - especially since I've been expecting Godzilla to rise up from the ocean again ever since Fukushima.

Pinko has been on a tear lately about "click bait," because so many people on Face Book share articles without even checking to see if they are remotely true, or even reading the article at all for that matter.  They share an item on the strength of the headline or the graphic alone.   For example, a while ago, there was a little video going around that showed a few moments of what was supposedly an accident with fireworks but it was really a daytime display of fireworks.  I think it was in France.  I didn't watch any of it because, frankly, I didn't care to spend four more minutes of my day on Bullshit, and that was before I'd been trudging through the sleet and slush to get to work for days and days.  But, people were having a good time sharing the video and making comments like, "oooops."
Pinko became an internet party popper by posting links to the truth in the these same comment threads.

He gets annoyed when stories are circulating about the bad behavior of an individual, and the citizens of Face Book are all pissed off, demanding retribution on the alleged perpetrator.  Generally, it's some stupidity on the part of someone who should have known better - like that ancient video of the woman who swiped a foul ball from some little kid at an Astros game:


Granted, the woman looks like a greedy asshole in the video.  She probably works for BP or another corporation filled with greedy assholes - but the incident itself occurred in April 2012 and stories were still appearing over a year later like this one in Opposing Views in September 2013 (http://www.opposingviews.com/i/sports/woman-steals-foul-ball-little-girl-during-astrosdiamondbacks-game-video).

While this little vignette in Houston might provide some sort of contemporary morality play if anyone stopped a moment to find out a few facts and draw some conclusions - that's not what happens on Facebook.  People start spewing invective and dreaming up appropriate punishments for the douchebag on parade.  The same thing happened with that story about the sorry-assed Boy Scout leaders who fucked up some sacred rocks in Utah (Charges Filed Against Boy Scout Leaders Who Toppled Ancient Rock Formation, ABC News, Feb 1, 2014).   It was undoubtedly an example of exceedingly bad behavior, but what's worse - in my mind anyway - is that thousands of people were bitching to high hell about a couple of assholes in a state park, but we can frack the whole country to smithereens and the same people don't even know it's happening.

Like the other day, more news came out about the dramatic increase in Oklahoma earthquakes since Fracking was introduced in the state a couple of years ago - and there is little, if any, mention of bit of information in the mainstream news - much less circulating around Facebook like the viral videos of stupid shit.

http://kgou.org/post/oklahoma-s-earthquake-swarm-one-chart, 2.14.14

It seems to me that somebody somewhere makes a concerted effort to distribute and publicize stories of individuals behaving badly.  These stories antagonize folks who are already cranky about life in general, like so many of us are these days.   By offering up some tiny little target for their anger, the stories distract the public from larger, more central issues such as big money in government, privately funded climate change denial - take your pick.  The point is that if everyone is busy complaining about the Outrage Du Jour, then people won't band together and take to the streets to protest the Endless War and Ecocide resulting from years of corporate control.

Gothamist recently addressed the Click Bait phenomenon in an article entitled Jerry Seinfeld is The Devil Who Hates Minorities & Women.  Evidently, there's a service known as Chartbeat that records the number of hits a website or blog receives.  Gothamist explains:
Chartbeat, to the uninitiated, is a giant, coal-and-kitten-blood-powered factory located somewhere in the middle of Death Valley that counts up every single precious little click on websites like Gawker in order to calculate each blogger's exact worth as an employee.
I can see how a writer would want to stoke the Outrage Machine to drive up hits to his/her work in order to keep a job, get a raise, or whatever.  But since media consolidation has given roughly 350 executives dominion over the print and electronic news programming in a country with roughly 320,000,000 million people - well, you can see how it pays to keep America focused on celebrities, sports and examples of individuals behaving badly.  While we're looking at some bogus flickering images, the rich guys can do whatever they want - the guys of the Wall Street Kappa Beta Phi chapter can tell you:

One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society, by Kevin Roose, 
You can also see how it would be useful to publish photoshopped pictures of giant squid and attribute Fukushima radiation, or of fictitious Grammy acceptance speeches.  The thing is that when passionate people impulsively but earnestly share information only to discover that they've been fooled or hoaxed - it can lead a citizen activist to doubt his/her own judgement.  Consequently, that person may hesitate to share real, important information about social and economic justice, the environment or peace.  These "satires" can be just as effective as hostile trolls when it comes to shutting up the Left.

These are the sort of topics Pinko and I discuss at the dinner table when we're not absorbed in a lovefest.  Mostly, we're absorbed in lovefests, but we originally became friends over political and cultural analysis and the original discussion continues with the addition of Burning Man.  Sometimes we both sit at our computers, me at my desk in the corner and him by the window across the room where he occasionally smokes one of his Rollie cigarettes, and we tell each other about what we're reading - like an old, married couple reading the newspaper sections at the breakfast table.

Since the whole world is clearly going to Hell in a hand basket and there's little chance of stopping the inevitable decline of The Empire, it's a comfort to be here at the edge of the Apocalypse with Pinko the Bear.

He's going to be on BearMan Radio this coming Sunday around noon, talking about the shit going down this week in Kiev.  Although it appears that the people are rising in protest against tyrants, like the Arab Spring, the reality may be that some fascist types, with the backing of spooks from the US, are stirring up the locals.   He was talking about the situation on his own blogtalk show last night - Up Late with Pinko the Bear: Kiev is on Fire.

Honestly, it's hard to believe that we never laid eyes on each other in real life until six months ago, when I jumped on a plane and went to Burning Man.  We're going again this summer, of course.  I've already got my ticket.  If the end of the world as we know it is on the horizon, I'm delighted and grateful that we're following our bliss in every day life, and celebrating the human spirit for vacation.  Must be Thing of Beauty #076-101 (Explore Beauty - a Challenge, from realia).



Update:
Here's the podcast from Bearman Radio.  Great discussion that shows exactly what I like about Pinko the Bear, and his new Bear friend
http://bearmanradio.com/2014/02/23/the-bearman-group-28.aspx






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