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Covid-19 & Alcohol

Covid-19 & Alcohol

[NYC Journal]

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you:

In like end of January 2020, you suddenly feel off while boarding a busy subway car at Union Square (the 4 towards Brooklyn, with the scary, toothed moving platform). Headachy. You wonder if you have a fever. A little blurry-headed. Tired. Time to get home!

And that’s a Thursday and then so Friday you wake up feeling bad and the Coronavirus pandemic is happening in China and you’d been to Chinatown with wet feet a week before to watch the dragon’s dance to celebrate the Lunar New year (Saturday, January 25, 2020) in the pouring rain and Chinese food at a sprawling, tightly-packed, much-clanking and chattering restaurant with a little arching footbridge connecting the large front room to the large back room. The dragons are brightly colored ruffled and feather-boa-y cloth covers attached to cartoonish, goggle-eyed, tongue-extruding dragon masks. Young teenagers inhabit them and shake and bob and jokingly menace storeowners. It requires a great deal of energy, which you guess is why it’s left to the kids. There are different teams of them with T-shirts and jackets. Behind them men in rolling chariots bang on drums. Cymbals chime. People pull confetti poppers that crack and spray the colored paper shreds all over the wet streets. The food is good but you wish they wouldn’t carry the green tea to the table in big rubber pitchers, although it does remind you somehow of ancient church potlucks from a youth now vague, distant, and in this instance within a long basement rec-room /dining hall with cinderblock walls painted lime green and with spray-foam insulation over the ceiling.

And you just feel zonked. Not terrible. Just like floored. So you stay in bed Friday and then Saturday and so on. Then Tuesday morning you go to the convenience-doc and the short woman with an African accent and long braids asks if you’ve been out of the country and if you need an excuse letter for your office. “No, they don’t care what I do!”, at which response she and the tall thin pale guy with the Australian accent laugh.

And you’d go back Tuesday, February 3, 2020, but your boss says skip it, she doesn’t feel great either and doesn’t want you around until you’re 100%

And then you just keep going to work like normal, but pretty soon things are starting to get pretty weird and some people are only coming to the office sometimes and you are going to take off Wednesdays to do pull-ups and dips since everybody else is taking off like two days a week. Well, working from home.

But what about this: You keep waking up with a little complaint in your lungs. A touch of congestion and a distinct papery feeling. It reminds you of being 22 and you’ve had a few too many beers and a half dozen (maybe it was a dozen) cigarettes the night before, and now you are waking up with “paper lungs”, as you put it. Except you’ve not smoked in forever. Anyway, it’s always gone within an hour or so of waking up.

But what about this: On some Wednesday – it must’ve been Wednesday March 18, 2020 – you drank a few beers in the evening. And then on the next Thursday right at the end of the work day, you felt very bad. Exhausted. Stupid. Unclear in head. Like you needed to drop into bed right then and you could not wait another moment and why is your boss talking to you right now!?

But wait: You didn’t have papery lungs every morning from early February through mid-March, did you? Nobody remembers when the paper lungs started. Was it directly after the early-February illness? Or a while after that one?

Suffice it to say: you were waking up with papery lungs for a while before that Thursday when you did not feel well at all.

So then come weeks of working from home, not feeling well, lungs papery not just in the morning but all day. Lungs congested. Weak. Only leaving the house to take out the garbage, which left you a little dizzy and done in. For a couple weeks you have no sense of smell. Although you have no appetite and are only eating about half as many calories as normal, after three or four weeks, your food supply gets a little pathetic. Five weeks after you left, you return to work.

And what about this: Didn’t you have like three or four beers in your apartment when this long illness began? And didn’t you drink them – albeit no more than one a day – all during the first week or two?
Beginning of June 2020 you get the results from the antibody test: DETECTED. OK, so that’s something. It wasn’t all in vain. Granted, they’re not sure exactly how useful those antibodies are, but it seems like they provide at least some protection for at least a while.

Your lungs are still fluidy and papery through May. By June you’re getting all better. And then you help a friend move and are set back for a week. But then you’re all better again. But then you have a week’s vacation early in July and drink a couple to a few drinks most days and by the end, you’re back having papery and congested lungs every day all the time. Which is where you still are as August 2020 begins. You feel fine, except there is this persistent complaint.

You’d gotten away with a few individual beers on a few individual days prior to your vacation, but this several days of several beers/wines/gin-one-day seems to correlate with a recurrence of covid-caused lung flaws.

What does this tell you?

What does it make you think?

I think it makes you think that you need to take a good year off alcohol – regardless of how good you may at some point think you feel.

What you might do is get really into kombucha. Because it’s like a drug, but very mild, especially as you’ll brew it with decaf tea. Since the kombucha process already eliminates a big portion of the caffeine, your kombucha will have such a tiny miniscule insignificant drop of caffeine. There’s also a little little bit of alcohol in kombucha. It’s probably just the right amount for you. And then there’s something else, some secret drug within the overall effect of the concoction.

Also you might double-down on the decaf iced tea between 7AM-11AM and hibiscus iced tea thereafter.

Also what about getting back into meditation?

Also what about getting married and settling down into a quiet life in the country?

Also what about being more consistent with your journalling?

Also what about a little yoga most days?

Also what about how you’re happier not drinking anyway?

Author: Mulligan
Editors: JOS/BW/AW
Copyright: Andrew Watson

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[NYC Journal – Politics Page]

[NYC Journal]

from Die Offenbarung des Jungen Werthers

from Die Offenbarung des Jungen Werthers

[This is something we’re working on for Fixing Frankenstein — available in the Buy the Books tab sometime August 2020. Don’t feel bad if you don’t speak German, we’ll translate the below into English before the book’s released. The background is that Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth Frankenstein, Justine Moritz, Henry Clerval, and the monsters Lee & Vuh are leaving their picnic to travel into a book: Goethe’s The Sufferings of the Young Werther. They’re going to try to redirect the book’s action away from its tragic ending.]

Die Offenbarung des Jungen Werthers
Eine wahre, wenn auch seltsame Geschichte
— von Elizabeth Frankenstein erlebt und niedergeschrieben.

Leaving his father and brothers to guard our defenseless bodies for the outward hour our journey required (I say “outward hour” because, as Victor explained, our inner experience of time would be very different than that of our motionless and apparently desouled frames), Victor bat uns alle im Kreis sitzen und gab uns alle ein Schlückchen sein mitgebrachtes Elixier. Mit geschlossenen Augen reichten wir einander die Hände und verschließen die Augen.

Bald verlor ich jegliches Bewusstsein der Außenwelt und es schien mir — und die anderen haben es auch nachher bestätigt — dass wir jetzt alle zusammen durch einen langen gewölbten Stollen gingen. Die Halle war groß und prächtig wie eine Kathedrale — aber anstatt aus Steinen oder Holzbalken waren die Wände und Deckengewölbe vollständig von flackernden Bilder ausgebaut. Also wanderten wir durch Szene aus dem Buch, in — so es uns alle schien — chronologischer Anordnung.

So sahen wir Lotte und Werther beim ersten Treffen in ihrer Stube, ihre Geschwister herumwimmelnd; und dann Lotte und Werther im fröhlichen Einklang im Saal tanzend; aber auch dann die Verlegenheit Lottes und Werthers daraufhin folgenden vorübergehenden Betrübnis. “Also da sagt sie ihm, ‘Albert ist ein braver Mensch, dem ich so gut als verlobt bin’!” rief Justine auf. “Gewiss” stimmte Vuh leise zu.

Also gingen wir weiter, während die Geschichte, die über unsere Köpfe spielte, auch weiter ging. Und so ist Albert nach Hause zurückgekommen; die drei versuchen Freunden zu sein; Werther aber mehr und mehr unter dem Druck frustrierter Leidenschaft zusammenbricht; bis schließlich er eine Stelle in Weimar akzeptiert, in der Hoffnung, dass die Distanz zum Walheim (350 KM / 200 Meilen) ihn seiner Besessenheit befreien würde. Sein Leben im Weimar, und die schöne Bekanntschaft eines schönen Frauenzimmers wird aber sehr schnell von öffentlicher Beschämung (oder vielleicht eher von seinen übertriebenen Empfindlichkeit) zerstört. Er kommt zurück nach Walheim um wieder bei Lotte zu sein, die inzwischen mit Albert verheiratet ist. Und alles sich verschlechtert und sich noch mehr verschlechtert.

Ich soll erwähnen, dass alle Nebenhandlungen schwebten auch über uns; und dass auch jene Teile des Buchs die nur im Geiste Werthers existierten, auch da waren: man sieht, zum Beispiel, Werther beim Schreiben, die Wörter er da schrieb, die begleitende Gesichtsausdrücken, und manchmal auch Bilder einiger verwandten Erinnerungen.

Wir gelangten an die letzte Szene zwischen Werther und Lotte — diejenige wo er ihr seine Übersetzung des keltsichen Heldengedichts Osian vorliest, darüber die beide zugrunde gehen und in Tränen zusammenbrechen, er denn sie umarmt und küsst, sie aber ihn zurückschlägt und entflieht, erklärend, er dürfe niemals mehr zu ihr. Am nächsten Tag — wie geplant — bringt er sich um. Hier, als über die Decke und Wände die beide sich in Tränen verlieren, hebte Victor den Arm, und wir hielten ab. “Zu weit gegangen! Wir müssen ein bisschen zurück, auch wenn wir in dieser Szene ergreifen werden.” Und dann erzählte uns sein Vorhaben.

Er stützte seinen Plan auf der Wirkung von Literatur auf dem menschlichen Verstand. Clerval und Vuh, wenn sie im Prinzip seiner Ideen zwar zwingend fanden, konnten dem Entschluss nicht entkommen, dass bei dieser Stelle in der Geschichte Werther schon zu weit außer Fassung gekommen seien, um uns auf eine literarischen Kur zu verlassen. “Das mag wohl sein,” stimmte Victor zu, “also, ihr zwei bleiben bei seinem Zimmer, falls die Dichtkunst fehlschlägt.”

Mittag 22 Dezember 1772

Lee, Vuh, Victor, Clerval, Justine und ich kamen im Wetzler an. Werther war weg und wurde erst in einigen Stunden zurückkommen. Vuh und Clerval suchten Werthers Wohnung um sie zu überwachen. Bevor wir den Saal der flimmernden Buchszene verließen, hatten Victor, Vuh, Justine und ich uns Pferden vorgestellt. Justine aber hatte zu viel eifer in ihrem Pferde zugetäumt, und der schwarze Hengst wieherte gehetzt, den Kopf (mit dem weißen Diamant unter den Augen mitten im Maulkorb) in jeglicher Richtung herumwerfend, und strampelte wild mit den Hufen, erst vorwärts dann rückwärts springend. Sie blieb also auch zurück, um eine Pferdestall zu finden. Lee und ich ritten nach Wahlheim mit den ausgewählten Textpassagen.

Wir wussten, dass Lotte allein von ungefähr fünf bis halb sieben bleiben wird. Die gezielte Schublade war neben einem offenen Fenster, und nach unseren Beobachtungen der Szenen, hatten wir geschätzt, dass Lees lange Arme die Schublade von draußen öffnen und hineingreifen könnten. Also mussten wir nur auf den richtigen Augenblick abzuwarten.

Zuerst hatten wir so ein Paar Komödie der Irrtümer. Charlotte verließ die Stube; Lee öffnete die Schublade und suchte nach Ossian; Charlotte kehrte plötzlich zurück; der lange Arm Lees zog sich zurück, ohne die Schublade schließen zu können; Lotte kratzte den Kopf und machte die Schublade zu; das alles passierte ein zweites Mal, und Lotte schaute verwirrend um und drückte mit ihrer ganzen Gewicht gegen der Schublade; die Zeit wurde knapp.

“Hebe mich ins Fenster an”, sagte ich.
“Was?”, sagte Lee.
“Jetzt!” sagte ich, indem ich die Passagen aus ihrer Hand nahm.
In einer mühelosen, fließenden Bewegung hob sie mich nach oben, durchs Fenster und auf den Stubenboden.

Glücklicherweise blieb Lotte stumm. Sie saß mir gegenüber auf dem Sofa und mit offenem Mund starrte auf mich als ob ich eigentlich nicht möglich sei.

“Entschuldigen Sie mir bitte die Störung. Ich muss aber Ihre Hilfe bitten. Werthers Übersetzung Ossiads müssen Sie mit diese Passage ersetzen. Hier, ich mache es selbst. Ossiad verstecken wir tief in diesem auf dem Tische liegenden Buch; und da, wo Ossiad war, setzten wir diese ruhigere, süßere Wörter. Für das was demnächst kommt ist Ossiad eine besonders schädliche Literatur; dies ist viel mehr angebracht. Aber ich bitte Ihnen, tue als ob Sie glaubten, dass Ossiad immer noch hier wäre, und forderen Sie ihn an, dir Ossiad vorzulesen. Und kein Wort bitte davon, dass ich hier wäre! Ich bedauere sehr, dass wir nicht mehr geschickt hätte handeln können, aber wenn Sie sowieso natürlich agieren, und, wie gesagt, bitten ihn Ossiad zu lesen, und dann nur dies finden, was Ihnen sehr überrascht, und dann meinen, dass Sie sowie möchten, dass er Ihnen dies vorlese. Wenn Sie bitte das alles so kühn und schauspielerisch wie möglich machen können, könnten wir alle noch Erfolg haben.”

Ich ging zurück ans Fenster. Lotte sagte aber leise — ganz leise, weil ihre Stimme immer noch verschwunden war — , “Halten Sie bitte. Ich verstehe nicht.” Da wendete ich sie sehr Ernst und wohlwollend an, und — mit dem sanftesten Lächeln und als Tränen in den Augen schwankten — antwortete ich, “Sie brauchen nicht alles zu verstehen.” Und da war sie stumm, und, ihre Augen groß und an die meinigen angebunden, gab sie ein sehr kleines aber sehr bedeutendes und viel teilnehmendes Nicken.

Ich kletterte in die Armen Lees und wir versteckten uns im Gebüsch als die Handlung des Buchs uns entgegenkam.

[And then Werther comes to visit Charlotte]

Author: B Willard
Editor: A Whistletown
Copyright: AM Watson

NYC Journal #21 – Beer #1

NYC Journal #21 – Beer #1

[NYC Journal]

NYC Journal #21 — Friday, 7/3/2020 — Beer #1

The best thing about being sick with Cov-id19 for five weeks is quitting drinking.

So why would you go buy a six pack of crisp, refreshing pilsner? Why would you turn on Pet Shop Boys Radio, sit in a sweltering muggy apartment round about overcast-90F, sipping Pilsner Urquell over ice with a lime? Why would you risk your life like that?

There’s a sound rumbling in the distance. The day is overcast and I walked down the scene. Lots of people out. Everyone’s 30, or else they own a shop, or else they lie in worn-out threads and a layer of dirt against a wall, but no not here, not in this glamorous stretch. The Crown Inn is not open. Yesterday evening the several tables penned in by a wooden gate sitting out in the street where in old times a car might’ve parked — yesterday those wood-slat tables were full of revelers, and the backyard that’s always there was probably full too. All along the street, people dined and drank on tables on the sidewalk or sprawling out into the parking lanes. Everyone was happy. I noticed that everyone eating and drinking at the Island Cz Cafe was black. Is it always like that? Most everywhere else was more mixed in its sidewalk life. I waved to a superintendent I used to know. He had on a flat-rimmed ballcap and said, hey, hey, how’s it going? I don’t know if he was watching the guy with the knee-length square-cut baggy shorts rolling two red dice on the sidewalk. It was quite a few people in a ten foot long stretch of sidewalk but he had steps rising above it where he could sit up on a solid stone post and smoke a blunt and wave to me down there as I walked past.

Chavela’s is on the corner of Sterling and Franklin, and now people are seated on either side under big canvas roll-out awnings. They are all 30 and one girl was pale with a few friends while she held her young baby. The blue oval baby buggy, also covered with its own an awning, was parked on the sidewalk next to her. That 30ish guy alone with the stubble and the slight but perpetual tan, his hair buzzed really short on the sides and pretty short but tumbling suavely over on the top, in pink jean shorts and a white with blue print button up, tight-fitting short — he said to the dark-masked waitress that he wasn’t sure as he pulled the bright laminated menu across the wobbly stone-mosaic-topped little round table. I don’t know. I don’t know what he ordered. I didn’t see what anyone was eating. The three white guys — 30ish — were drinking a beer with their comida and were all sweaty; the one with his back to me had a long shard of damp down the center of his nice blue soft-cotton T-shirt. I don’t what know their exertion was, but they looked flushed with it. Maybe just because of the heat and their bulk; they weren’t that bulky though; so then I don’t know again, which I never said I did know anyway.

I think of both events; I think of them as one even though they are separated far by time and space. I think of them always cloaked within each other. I don’t like to. It makes me uneasy. It is Germany and I don’t know where I am. How am I lying in a nice, clean, well-furnished apartment? Who does it belong to? And where did I find that glossy, playbill-shaped street paper? So there I am reading it and I guess it must be written in German, unless I misremember and this actually happened in the English-speaking world. And it is about Leonard Cohen and he’s quoted as saying that someone said it to him before and it still is true: we all suffer, but none like the poor. But then almost twenty years pass, and I don’t know that I ever mention that stray comment but sometimes I reflect upon it, sometimes it comforts me, like it proves I’m where I would suppose I am: with some issues, but kind of doing OK, since I have a roof and a job and food and people who will act like the things I say are worth consideration. And then one day in the midst of this conversation I forget the details and I don’t think it had to do with race but with this conversant I felt always that it was always on his mind and so then when I mentioned this comment of Leonard Cohen’s (that’s my recollection, anyway), I thought his eyebrow slanted in a flashing annoyance and his, “yeah?” was particularly noncommittal and so I pictured that he was thinking that it was not fair to clump everyone into either not-poor-and-so-struggling-but-OK and poor-and-so-drowning-beneath-an-avalanche-of-compounding-misery — that he wanted to say white people don’t suffer like black people in this society, or something like that. But I don’t know, since on the one hand maybe I pick up on other people’s obsessions but on the other hand maybe I’m forever obsessively inventing other people’s actually-secret minds. And the two pieces float around in my mind, circling each other, ducking in and over each other like playing and/or squabbling birds — those tiny brown & white winged birds with the round white bellies that have lived everywhere I ever did, who today were snuggling and wiggling into the dry dirt beside street-lining trees.

I saw three people standing outside of a taco place. Or was it an Asian fusion place? Or was it I don’t know what it was — a bright red door in a bright mural, out of which float square-bottomed paper bags, folded over and stapled at the top, looking like little barns. And then these three young people — about 30ish years of age — walked along together, each swinging their own paper bag, talking through their masks to one another. The two guys in front, the girl behind in the center. The one guy in athletic shorts and a sporty T-shirt with a buzzed head was a head taller than the other guy who was dressed similarly. The girl was a little shorter than the shorter guy, and her hair was brown and short like a bowl? I don’t remember. Is there a diamond-shaped tattoo high on her back? That you see because her T-shirt is held up by thin shoulder straps? I can’t remember. They were caucasion, and I don’t know what they were talking about, but the tall guy was side-leaning a little towards the other, saying something about how this was such and such Crown Heights, and the other guy was like, “Oh!”, but I can’t imagine what could’ve been interesting enough to elicit that “Oh!”, and I cannot help but surmise that the enthusiasm was mostly a display of polite attention, and nothing real, certainly nothing you could sink your teeth into.

A tall thin woman with light-chocolate skin and curly black hair in a black tube dress walked past a couple guys standing at the back of the wide sidewalk near an apartment building, smoking cigarettes and not standing up quite right. The woman was 30s to 40s; the men were 50s to 60s and their heads were held cocked to one side and lower lips jutted out twisted and eyes bulged forward and they were bent over a little to one side and I think they were under the care of a young man who at that moment was helping another man who was standing similarly affected in front of an open suitcase, his shirt half pulled up by an unnaturally twisted palm, but frozen in that position for the duration of my walk-by. The two guys off to the side in front of a gray-brick building gave some weak but audible hubba-hubbas and ain’t she fines to the woman herself and then to each other once she, who barely deigned an eyebrow-twitch in their direction, had passed. The sidewalk is always so ragged and worn in these parts.

Lots of people sat outside of Domo Taco. They have a backyard too. Well, a wooden patio with umbrellas, wooden tables, wooden benches, also single tables with single chairs for couples and lone wolves. Out front of Domo Taco, I remember noticing only a dark skinned black guy with a shaved head and big shoulders in a short-sleeved shirt. But there were lots of people and I don’t know why I only remember him. I guess he was in his 30s, but maybe he was in his 40s and still hadn’t found anywhere else to go yet (I know the feeling!). Was he wearing baggy shorts and wrap-over plastic sandals? Was he seated with his legs apart, leaning into a little table, talking something to somebody? I don’t know. I can’t remember anything anymore.

It’s cool to be angsty at 23. At 42 it doesn’t add up to much. I’m floating out the window, I’m a cloud that’s gathering and splitting and dissipating, I’m a ghost light-stepping above the graveyard where lies my earthly remains. If only I’d’ve lived a better life! Good souls go to heaven; bad souls go to hell; iffy souls roam the earth, gathering up karma like cockroaches gather dust on their hairy little hind legs scurrying beneath these brown domed oval carpaces, scurrying through the world, fearing the light, darting in and out of dark corners, lonesome, driven on and on, without fellowship, without a wherefore or whereto.

So that’s about the end of the beer. Lots of ice with it, so I’m hydrated. Switched to Portishead’s song “Glory Box”. She just wants to be a woman. That’s how it is. And a man just wants to be a man — slip away from the noise with some woman, play out the roles where find our toes and release our demons, purifying the tumult through interaction within the animal sphere. Let it be. Let it go. The rest is padding. Of course, I must disavow this position, and even more forcefully reject any talk of ghosts and goblins. Such dogmas contradict the higher and holier one of Something Deeperism.

Author: Sam Spade, PI & Small Shovel
Editors: B. Willard & A. Whistletown
Copyright: AM Watson
Worlds: Forgetful, wide apart and expanding and thus separating more and more.

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[NYC Journal]

Exhaustion

Exhaustion

So tired
the waterwheel
done and gone

so tired
the wanderwide
sleep it off

sleepy
like fabric
soft and smoooth
exhausted

never mind
forget about it
those textures don’t fit

author: BW/AW
copyright: AMW

On Not Burning It Down

On Not Burning It Down

[NYC Journal – Politics Page]

What does it all add up to?

How to actually make things better?

We were angry. We had our reasons. We felt abandoned. Action was justified.

Someone stole fire from the gods. We used it to burn down the city walls.

A proud, rollicking chaos ensued, until a strong armored violence subdued it, and brought complete order and absolute silence.

We lived in a miserable peace and got angry again.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if we’d had a mechanism for political organization responsive to our needs and capable of evolving towards the better?

The great king is doing a great job. He’s incredible. Human rules don’t apply to him. He says anything and we worship its Truth; perhaps in the face of an undeniable refutation of one of his daydreamed facts, we have to shrug and say, “it’s what they all do” and we worship his cunning. His businesses profit from his political power and we call it “what anybody would do.” He suggests to a foreign leader that US government aid is contingent upon that leader investigating his political rival, and we clap and say, “he does what it takes to win!”, or we shrug and say, “he wasn’t thinking.” When the king’s investigated, a subordinate is convicted for obstruction of justice, making false statements, and witness tampering; the subordinate clams up and is then pardoned by the king; we shrug or nod, depending on the crowd. When people express alarm and compare his tactics to organized crime we say, “they all do it; he just does it better!”

The king listens to the lobbyists who fund his election; the king is a great listener!

The king is doing a tremendous job. There’s no racism left in the country; well, a little backlash racism against white people continues to haunt us, but he’s doing what he can to combat that lingering outrage. Immigration was destroying the country; but he’s put an end to all that — now people know if they come here seeking refuge, they’re going to get held up outside the border or locked in a cage until we can send them back — now people know what kind of a strong, no-nonsense country we are. Under his wise leadership, we’ve defeated the plague and kept the economy roaring forward. If you don’t think so, then you’re a fool. If you prove to us that it isn’t so, then we have to blame everyone who was not the king — after all, what better answer is there to a pandemic than saying it isn’t happening while going on with business as usual — where can you find one example of a nation that’s done a better job of dealing with this worldwide annoyance?, just one example?, I ask you?

The king is a great hero who is burning down the old way. No longer do we need different branches of government and different perspectives arguing, guarding against corruption, and laboriously hammering out compromises. That’s the old fashioned way of doing democracy! We want to do it in the new and exciting way as exemplified by Putin and Pinochet! An efficient democracy! The kind that you still call plain old “democracy”, but that is really much more clever and glorious; a kind of “powerful democracy” where a heroic figure rewards loyalists and punishes those who oppose his unbridled power. Truly a new idea in human history; never done before; people look at it and they can’t believe it, it’s so amazing.

Burn it down, king! Burn down the system! Raise your loyal supporters up! Let us taste the grandeur of palatial life! Let us imagine ourselves there in your presence, playing golf and enjoying the good life!

Let us burn down everything except your power, which of course must also be and remain forever the power of your fans.

The king is a fink. The king is a liar and a cheat. The king is a race-baiter and an enemy to the freedoms and anti-corruption measures necessary for the preservation of democracy.

But who’s really to blame? Isn’t it the system itself? Isn’t this king just another in a long line of kings pretending to care about the people, while actually only worshiping power? Don’t they all lie? Don’t they all cheat? Isn’t the system itself founded on systematic racial and economic oppression? Burn it down! Burn it down! No immigration regulation whatsoever! No police at all! Demolish everything! Burn it down!

We were living in the time of the creatures. Hand-sized cockroaches swarmed the walls of our beautiful park-side homes. Long-legged, yellow-eyed, yellow-fanged layered-mange jackals loped the ball fields and mall lots. Children threw bread to the pigeons, which grew incensed and flocked angrily squawking, pecking apart the children, ignoring the fallen loaf of Wonder bread.

Someone spoke up; many people applauded; some booed; those who booed went to another corner of the arena; one of them spoke up; many people applauded; some booed and then left that area of the coliseum; it was like that; it got louder and louder. The one side abandoned all values except winning. What would the other side do? How would the people react? Would it turn out they only actually cared about feeling like they were right and winning?

We can play it like this: get an expert to adopt mask-wearing and act like of course we’ve always known there was something in it, but Fauci tricked us; and then some of us act like Fauci’s fine while we let this one contingent do the dirty work and so we’ll confuse people into thinking that it’s Fauci’s fault and our only mistake was being too trusty of Fauci, but he fooled everybody, didn’t he? Were the states with increased cases following Fauci’s lead or ours? Doesn’t matter. Truthfully reflecting on personal errors is for losers. Power isn’t really for the sake of anything but maintaining itself: once you learn that, you’ve got the keys to the kingdom!

Maybe we calm down; maybe we gently reclaim our democracy; maybe we find a way forward together. Something like this: Vote Trump and his Republican enablers out; demand campaign finance reform and other anti-corruption measures; keep working on the right balance between the necessity of law enforcement and the necessity of equality under the law (and thus under law enforcement); keep working on finding more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable ways to organize our collective and private resources (ie: New Green Deals that this time allow people of all races and backgrounds to participate fully); keep working on the right balance between personal freedoms and collective responsibilities; keep working on a vibrant and fun economy within the context of a fair distribution of resources and opportunities; keep working to improve the system and the lives of all of us who live in and through it.

Democracy is not perfect. It can be made better or worse. We can only make democracy better if we preserve democracy. Democracy is worth preserving and part of preserving it is making it work for everyone; ie: making it better. Therefore we suggest everyone vote for Biden. Not Trump. Not a third-party candidate. Not for “sitting this one out.”

So many have dreamed of and fought and died for a government responsible to all the people. Look around in human history. There are possibilities here worth working and voting for, and the choice is obvious: an inveterate enemy to everything except his own momentary power and prestige, and the swamp of courtiers that has grown up around that mistake; versus a fundamentally decent person who will bring in a crew of people committed to honesty and good-government — the prerequisite for any political progress.

In an excessively polarized two-party system, the way forward is to vote for the less corrupt party and work within that party to make it and the government as a whole more and more honest and open. If you can keep that up long enough, the other party will either reform itself (ie: the wiser voices within that general political persuasion will gain more power within that party) or be replaced.

It is not true that some people are good and others are bad. We all have many impulses running through us, interacting with one another and with the impulses communicated to us from other people. We all also have the wise Light shining in and through, able to interact with and rule the rest of our conscious space to the degree we relax the ego-tripping and open up to loving kindness.

The relationship between what is Truly Wise within and our thoughts and actions is never perfect/1:1/literal. Our ability to harken to and follow Kind Joy is a thing of degrees, and how wise we are also fluctuates moment by moment. But general trends are visible.

Donald Trump should be voted out not because he is “bad” and Joseph Biden “good”. Trump should be voted out of office because the impulses ruling the totality of his actions are headed in the wrong direction, and Biden and his crew — who desire a return to democratic norms — want to and can do better.

The wise thing for we the electorate to do is vote Biden in and help him and his government follow better impulses by demanding those impulses: honesty, clarity, competence, kind resolve, shared joy, the understanding that we are all in this together. These fundamental spiritual values guard and bolster democracy. They are the way forward.

Some people believe they have to vote for Trump in the hopes of securing another Supreme Court justice who agrees with them. Please consider: What use is the Supreme Court when the system has been so eroded that only the president and his momentary expediencies rule this country? [Please also note that the Supreme Court is clearly too powerful when the constitution can be made to move this way or that under this or that mindset, and the court’s rulings cannot be overturned by congress or anyone, and it’s members reign for life. But how to fix that situation???]

Given what we know about the stakes and the players, it is also worth putting some effort into safeguarding the integrity of this election.

Political statements: Oh, I want to make things better! Oh, please let me at least not make things worse! Oh, oh, oh!

Author: Lonesome John & Sorry Jim
Editors: Bartleby Willard & Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andy Watson

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eternal sonnet

eternal sonnet

how long does eternity continue?
a million years or even more they say.
how far do god’s great hands reach and then who
is held all safe each ev’ry endless day?

but i who only wanna dance with you
through rooms of lavender in spingtime bloom.
a breathe of soft smooth hair suffices to
proclaim your nearness, which thieves no tomb.

let us now please go dance the wild wood,
where join two spirits, knowing what is good.

Author: BW/AW
Copyright: AMW

By the way

By the way

I can’t deal with this hurt.
It’s been going on too long.
There’s only so much I can bear up.
No one can do everything.

I can’t handle the hurt.
It’s not bigger than me,
but it adds up upon itself,
dogging me down year after year.

Please help me.

By the way,
I can’t do this forever.
I’m just another person
and this pain in my gut
has been wrapping ’round
my shoulders all along.

By the way,
I’ve reached my limit.
I guess no one can help
and this hurt through my heart
has to stay like this
eating at what I’d like to be.

Another poem about another hurt.
There’s surely nothing
added to the literature here.

By the way,
I don’t want Jesus to save my soul.
I want someone to understand
and hold me safe.
The weather is nice:
partly cloudy with a cool, rainy breeze.

Now the water is like the river
which mounts upon itself
swelling and overflowing the bank.
Now the god is like the singer
who sways with the melody
swelling and overflowing the room.

By the way,
it really hurts.

Author: BW/AW
Copyright: AMW

On failing

On failing

tomorrow it starts again
the leaking roofs, faucets, tubs
the tenants happy or not
the contractors willing or not
the plans plausible or not
tomorrow it begins again
because these three days
I failed

It’s Just Huey Lewis Sonnet

It’s Just Huey Lewis Sonnet

Remember this? There I was. You were too.
The music we blasted as best we dared.
Just only kids like ten or so, we two.
The Power of Love. Sing along and tear

Around. I can see the bedroom unkempt.
I take up plastic egg-butted punch cone
with sketched opponent, fists up raised to tempt
us little boys our battle skills to hone.

Enthused, I banged the giant drumstick down
upon a narrow racecar bed. Who frowned?

Your older cousin, that’s who! She voiced this:
She said aloud: It’s just Huey Lewis.

What did she mean?

Skating to That’s What Friends are for Sonnet

Skating to That’s What Friends are for Sonnet

I never thanked you. Nineteen eighty four?
In hardwood roller rink with music round.
The littlest skaters; rented blue rollers.
Dark oval path around and round we’re bound.

They played That’s What Friends are For, my fav’rite
A couple’s skate. I cannot skate alone.
Your hair was blond and short. We weren’t destined
to long at men; their pushy, greedy moans.

You said we could together skate this song.
Surprised, I took your hand; we went along.

I remember something else.
A party.
I don’t think either of us was there.
Somebody’s birthday in the back room.
Because you could rent it.
A windowless white-walled room in a windowless high-walled dome.
You could rent it and eat pizza and drink soda there!
Right there! Next to the rink!
Basically in the rink!
But off to a side, close enough to hear the music and the click-clack and the video games beeping.
But private and special, with pizza and soda, which never die, which never fail, which never lose.
Maybe I attended a birthday party there once.
But whose?
Maybe I just peered in and wondered in quiet awe.

Anyway, thanks for skating with me to “That’s What Friends are for”.
I couldn’t have done it without you and I’m glad I did it.

Keep smiling!
Keep shining!