The PVP Diaries #63

The people you meat

Two days ago I an around telling everyone “tomorrow’s my dad’s birthday!” I know my wretched memory, and it was my way of making sure that I don’t forget. Yesterday, I forgot. Sorry, Dad! I hope you got some cake. I’ll get the kids together and we’ll FaceTime later. Right now, one of them is sleeping under a cat on the couch, and the other is having chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon toast for breakfast.

“He who loves men, loves their joy.”

-The Brothers Karamazov

We had another one of those “-1” death days yesterday. I’m not really sure what they’re doing out there. But I do know that masks are now required by law in Washington state. It’s a “public health order,” anyway. In his presser, Inslee said something about it being a misdemeanor to not wear one indoors in public, or anywhere outdoors that social distancing isn’t possible. Enforcement is likely to be scant, of course, what with the ever-present mantra of “our police have more important things to do.” LIke pulling body parts out of suitcases. I, of course, have no idea how many people, if any, are guilty of the big hypocrisy, but there is an unmistakable coexistence of the calls for enforcement of mask wearing, at the same time as calls for the defunding of the police. One commenter wrote that we should be “quizzing” people about the masks they’re wearing.”When was the last time you washed that?” That sort of thing. Yes, that’s the world I want to live in.

Gonna put this in here for posterity, too, because I hope that reading this in 20 years just sounds ridiculous: I’m not paying much attention, but there’s enough white noise to infer that the city of Seattle is starting to get a little sick of the whole CHAZ experiment. Apparently there’s been a few shootings, and of course there’s no police allowed. The mayor or the police chief or someone said “It’s time for everyone to go home.” There’s a slow, collective facepalm developing in all the offices that opted to let this particular situation go unchecked. Yes, I’ve seen the conservative websites saying that CHAZ is all violence, drugs, and mayhem; and I’ve seen the liberal websites saying it’s a summer of love. That’s all very predictable and meaningless. None of it fully true or fully false. We no longer have the luxury of being able to understand the world through information.

I admire the clumsy struggle to get things right, but weep for where we end up in the process. Every sign-waving protester wants to be the next Gandhi or MLK, but those guys were like Gordon Ramsay in Kitchen Nightmares – once their work was done, the restaurant may not have been perfect, but there was simply no longer a call for that level of intervention. A little unspectacular management is enough to keep the ship afloat, but we believe that anything short of mutiny is slavery.

We could do with a few precincts worth of Mother Teresas.

Mother Teresa and Mr. Rogers. My family gave me “Kindness and Wonder” for Father’s Day. I’ve only read the introduction so far, but I’m a sucker for messages of joy, so I have a feeling that I’ll be tearing through that book with some zeal. And saying embarrassingly cheesy things here on the blog.

Joy

As long as we define ourselves
			by all that we’re against



we’ll have to go on wondering
			where all our happiness went.

Phase 2. I took The Boy to a real, live soccer practice yesterday. They have it very ground down and structured – I couldn’t watch because spectators aren’t allowed inside of the complex. We have to wait in the parking lot, or come back later, or have kids old enough to drive themselves. This morning I’ll be taking The Girl to a soccer practice of her own, 45 or so minutes to the south in Auburn. I’ll say this: It was nice, last night, to go somewhere outside of West Seattle. Outside of the very few places I’ve been for the last 3 months. It really is staggering and defeating to think of how limited my movements have been. Half a dozen trips to Home Depot? It’s a mile from home. I’ll take this trip to Auburn and back, breathe a little on the highway with the windows down, read some B.K. in the parking lot, and come back at lunch time for a very likely stop at the Habit Burger drive thru.

My biggest move so far has been a drive South to Burien last week, 10-15 miles. I was on the quest to retrieve the meat we ordered months ago. A quarter of a cow – 100 lbs of beef. It comes from a farm somewhere in Eastern Washington, and I picked it up in an odd little spot: an Australian meat pie company. It was not a glamorous operation, not a very “foodie” type of a place. Too spare for even any hipster love. I screamed my name through a mask and over the hum of refrigerator compressors until that became too frustrating for both me and the guy trying to hear me, then I pulled the mask down and said it again. Worked the first time. The police did not come. But the beef did:

Beyond the obvious joy of an abundance of beef, there’s the pleasure of having cuts that I might not normally think to buy – London broil, tri-tip, that sort of thing. There’s also short ribs, soup bones, lots of good stuff. And one very large brisket that I can’t wait to spend a day or two cooking sometime soon.

Things keep happening, even if they aren’t.


Happy late birthday, Dad!

Who Made the Summer

Now that’s how we’re supposed to remember summer, right? Drinking from the hose, limbs all exposed to the sun. A big, tacky, inflatable pool wrecking the grass underneath. We do our best to give our kids the kind of summers that we hope we can keep remembering. The kind of summer in that picture down there. They try to legislate it all away, but they have no power against the family.

“Papa, can I have a drink?”
“Of course you can, sweetie.”

In 1978 the water from the hose tasted like metal, and it didn’t scare anybody. Now it tastes like water, but he’s told that there’s something dangerous in the hose – don’t give it to your children. Lead, they say. We’ve been 35 years filtering and cleaning and protecting and irradiating the water for you, so now it isn’t safe because nobody thought about the hose.

“One day, someone will tell you that you can’t. Someone will always tell you that you can’t.”

“Will he be right?”

“In a way – in his way he will think he is right. In his way he will know he is right and he’ll have numbers and articles and so-called facts to make sure he keeps knowing how right he is. But his way is only really there for making you scared of something, and you can be as sure as the grass going brown that if he has children, they drink from the hose when he is out here telling you not to.”

“What does he think is wrong with the water?”

“That it is full of things that you can’t handle without getting sick, and that he can make those things disappear by making you feel lousy about them. He thinks this because he doesn’t know that you come from the same place as the water, or that you both come from the same place as the summer.”

“And my baby brother, too. Where’s that place, Papa?”

“That’s a tough one to answer, sweetie. I only know it’s all the same, and that even if I never know it all the way, I come closest when I’m closest to your Ma.”

In 1978, Mother clipped a shirt to the line and didn’t hear the conversation, because in 1978 the conversation didn’t happen. She just held open the patio door, and put the boy out there to find the summer in the business end of a garden hose.


“Dad, can I have a lemonade stand?”

“Of course you can, bud.”

In 2020 the parents pretend to be rebelling when they let their kids drink from the hose, after making them wear helmets to ride their bigwheels. The man with the numbers and articles and so-called facts makes daily trips to the podium, describing how his scientists have dropped the hose altogether, and are now scraping samples directly from the linings of the children. The magic data is in there, he thinks, and is right, but a microscope has no lens for miracles.

“One day, someone will tell you that you can’t. Someone will always tell you that you can’t.”

“He can’t be right.”

“He isn’t, and he may even stop believing he is, but that won’t stop him from pretending. People will also stop believing him, but will go on pretending.”

“Why will they pretend if they don’t believe?”

“Because some kind of lie always takes the place of faith, once you’ve let it go.”

“What does he think is wrong with my lemonade stand?”

“It’s not the stand, really. He thinks that you’re dirty, and that the people who come to buy your lemonade are dirty, and that if he can make you scared of each other, you’ll learn to stay apart. He thinks his job is easiest when the people stay apart. He thinks this because he doesn’t know that you come from the same place as the people, and that you both come from the same place as the dirt.”

“And my big sister, of course. Where is that place, dad?”

“That’s a tough one to answer, bud. I only know it’s all the same, and that even if I never know it all the way, I come closest when I’m closest to your Ma.”

In 2020 Mom put a bottle of sanitizer on the table and chalked a six-foot buffer zone on the street. She didn’t hear the conversation because she knows it by heart. She just taped down the tablecloth and seeded the tip jar with a few dollars of her own, and stood back to let the kids find summer in the business end of a lemonade stand.

The PVP Diaries #61

Just when you thought…

I’ve been nursing a head cold since Saturday or Sunday, I can’t remember which (insert joke about the days being indistinguishable “in these weird times”). It’s the annoying congestion somewhere between the ears, a little scratch in the throat, almost a sinus headache but not quite (Yes, I’m aware that the CDC says that all of those, along with toenail fungus and mosquito bites, are COVID-19 symptoms). I’m on a steady dose of alternating Sudafed and DayQuil (gotta modulate the phaser frequency when you’re dealing with The Borg), but can’t do any more NyQuil. One of the great benefits of being a non-drinker is that there’s really no such thing as a rough morning anymore. NyQuil greatly reduces the certainty of that. Anyway, it’s all very, umm, common, if puns are allowed (though I think they’re a symptom now, too). But now, even though I know it isn’t The Big One, I feel like a danger to humanity. I have that “sick person voice” that would have people in a grocery store emptying their pockets like pirates tossing treasure and rum overboard so they could run from me faster. We used to joke about ourselves and the children getting sick: “Going to school’s like swimming in a petri dish, haha!” “It builds immunity!” And the suddenly unspeakable “can’t avoid it forever, you know.” It appears that we believe we can.

But it’s been pushing back, day by day, my plans to take The Boy to go see a friend. His friend’s dad and I (my friend; I can say that, right?) haven’t spent any time together since February, and they blew some of their refunded summer camp money on a nice, big trampoline for their backyard. The Boy and I were supposed to head over on Sunday. Then it was Monday, then “later this week.” We’re now scheduled to go tonight for some bouncing and grilled food. Six months ago I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. It’s just a little head cold. Somebody’s always got something, right? But now I have to worry about pariah syndrome, especially as the only known conservative in our circle of friends (much more important to them than it is to me, of course). If I show up somewhere with a sniffle I’ll be that Billy-Bob MAGA-tard who hates science, still says “Wuhan,” and never believed in it anyway. I doubt they’ll invite me to their grandma’s funeral, after I’ve killed her with my denial.

Which leads us to this odd place:

Typing that minus must have been hard for someone to do

I understand there are “data corrections” leading to those negative numbers. Something about adjusted zip codes or addresses, unincorporated areas. And speaking of adjustments:

How are you changing the way you identify deaths caused by COVID-19?

At present, we count all deaths to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19. We will change the way we report COVID-19 deaths in two phases. Phase 1 will take place on June 17, and Phase 2 will roll out over the next few weeks.

Phase 1: Remove deaths where COVID-19 did not contribute to death from our death count. For Phase 1, this will result in seven deaths being removed from our current death count, including two suicides, three homicides, and two overdose deaths. Four of the deaths are from King and three are from Yakima. Additional non-COVID-19 deaths may be removed throughout the course of the COVID-19 outbreak.

More phases! I’m all phased out. This document has it all! It’s short and surprisingly direct. Like, embarrassingly so. But you can have that combination of brazenness and insouciance about your ineptitude when consequences don’t exist, and the people depending on your expertise have stopped believing in your expertise. Somehow I think that seven might be a slightly conservative number. Since what, March? How did that even happen anyway? And by “that” I mean being told by weeping parents that they found their son hanging from a beam in the basement, and reacting by saying “mark it up as COVID.” That’s some hard core agenda conformism going on.

“What about this one, Gary?”

“I keep telling you, COVID. They’re all COVID.”

“Sure. But – look, Gary, I don’t want to be annoying here or start any trouble or anything -“

“COVID, Mike.”

“I know, but, well, did the head come in with the charred torso, or haven’t they found it yet?”*

It’s probably not exactly like that. Knee-jerk skepticism is often confused with careful reasoning, but sometimes they make it pretty easy for that doubt to well up.

*Gary? Mike? It sounds like a cast of all white males. No women, no POC’s. Go lynch me on Twitter. But they’re being both stupid and morally bad, so it’s actually right. Right? I swear I don’t know what to do anymore.


On to kinder things tomorrow. I have some good news to report, and I’m counting on better weather to turn things around for us.


Turn it all off, and LIVE, Comrade Citizen!

All the Books in the Universe

The librarian’s telling dad jokes.

Had things been normal, The Boy’s school year would have ended with field day. Each year, a new t-shirt is designed, and the school meets at Lincoln Park for a day of events that the parents and teachers plan, coordinate, and execute with varying degrees of aptitude. Living so close to the park, we have hosted, for the last few years, most of the students in one or both of our kids’ classes for pre-field day shenanigans and donuts. When the time comes we walk them down to the park

There was no field day this year, and I miss filling the street in front of the house with a dozen screaming grade schoolers at 7:30 in the morning. But at least the commemorative shirts were still made. They were handed out with a few other items at the final drive-thru this morning. When The Boy brought it in and showed me, I couldn’t believe what I saw. I have no idea if a parent drew this up, or if it’s some stock design, but it’s the perfect accompaniment to a poem I wrote years ago as The Boy, then just a baby, was falling asleep on my chest:

The Dreamstronaut

The boy adrift in outer space alone,
His hairless pate in a glassy dome.
The awe, the joy, the dreaming soul.
A six-tooth smile in a barrel roll.

While his hands still search and his toes still curl,
Half in, half out of his old man's world.
The half that's in heaves a sigh at me,
The half that's gone starts its reverie.

With that I guess he's in the stars,
Using them like monkey bars,
To swing amidst the giant rows
While the library of his dreaming grows.

And once it's up he'll float about
In no great hurry to be picking out
His stories or his nursery rhymes;
He knows his dreams aren't bound by time.

He bobs on past hoar-frosted shelves,
And a section with a copse of elves.
With a languid pull he moves along,
To the fantasy he'll settle on.

I've always imagined him like this,
Giggling through the stacks in bliss.
The length and breadth of an innocent's whim,
His snickers and kicks propelling him.

Now in my arms he's settled more,
But he shifts a bit one time before
His searching hand tugs on my nose -
He's grabbed a dream, and off he goes.

Having Exited the Tube, the Proverbial Toothpaste Brushes Us Off

Eleven pages shy of a dozen

Reading Moby Dick made me want to write. Reading does that to me quite a bit. Reading The Brothers Karamazov is not having that effect. The dialogue is hard to take seriously because it’s full of what feel like unnatural idioms and ticks. I know it’s 19th century Russia, and translated to boot, but even so, you get the sense that nobody actually talked that way. Maybe especially because they all seem to talk the same way. Every character has the same speech quirks – they share phrases and patterns that should be unique to specific individuals.

No matter. I’m managing to get through it. I even think it’s pretty good, and it might become one of those “classics” one day. I’m really pulling for this Dostoevsky guy – he seems like a good sort.

Whatever. He gets around the problem of dialogue, at one point, by having a single character simply do all the talking. For a very long time. Ivan Fyodorovich goes on quite a tirade, in the form of what he calls a “poem,” but in fact is about 17 pages consisting of nearly a single paragraph. It’s his (Ivan’s) own creation, a story about Jesus having come back and been imprisoned by some earthly authority in 16th century Spain, during The Inquisition. You can imagine. It really goes on. Ultimately it focuses on Jesus’ temptation at the hands of the the devil in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, when he refuses to prove his divinity through miracles. The Grand Inquisitor’s all “WTF (my words)? You had your chance right there. The world would have believed in and worshiped you forever.” But Ivan’s point is that had Jesus turned the stones to loaves, he would have enslaved mankind forever, because “man seeks to bow down before that which is indisputable, so indisputable that all men at once would agree to the universal worship of it” (Part II, book 5, chapter 5, The Grand Inquisitor). Jesus, it seems to be Ivan’s point, understands the irony of a divinely gifted free will that would vanish in the presence of God. That if God ever proved Himself to man, man would never think for himself again.

It’s an amazing exposition on the subtleties of freedom, humanity, and divinity. A mix of heresy and piety. Of course it’s packed with passages and quotes that fit perfectly today; for instance:

“…so terrible will it become for them in the end to be free!”

In an essay a little while ago I wrote “How oppressed they would feel if someone took their oppressors away!”

Also from Ivan:

“Besides, they have put too high a price on harmony; we can’t afford to pay so much for admission.”

There’s also an inroad to Le Guin’s Omelas, when Ivan asks his brother Alexei:

“And can you admit the idea that the people for whom you are building would agree to accept their happiness on the unjustified blood of a tortured child, and having accepted it, to remain forever happy?”

I studied “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” twice in college, and nobody mentioned Dostoevsky. Nor did anyone say what Alexei says in his answer to Ivan, which is that he cannot admit it – cannot allow happiness to stand on the torture of innocence – though he knows that the tortured child is Jesus. It speaks a lot towards Alexei’s inability to remain either in the monastery or in the world outside of it for very long. It also opens up Le Guin’s story in an entirely new way for me.

But here we are, struggling mightily with our own freedom – its sources, its meanings, how other people function in our own coveted portion of it. Plagues, lockdowns, systemic injustices. And what we are willing to fight, torture, kill, or ignore in order to conjure up and support the illusion. Equality as a secondary goal, in service to our primary mission of finding someone to enforce it upon us.

We keep thinking someone can give us our freedom, and Jesus texts the group a Braveheart GIF with the message, “Brother, don’t go there.”

In the end of Ivan’s “poem,” Jesus, who had not said a single word to 15 pages worth of his 90 year-old Inquisitor’s soliloquizing, simply stands up and kisses the old man on the lips. The old man trembles, opens the gates, and begs Jesus to “Go and do not come again…do not come at all…never, never!”

Jesus leaves.

As if that’s possible.

Steppin’ on the Donuts

We find an old friend

How about a one donut poem to kick off a day of interesting developments?

Rushin' Roulette

Alexei in your cassock
under censer swung
perform for me the Unction -
my foolery is done!

Reports out of Yakima/Tri-Cities show a significant spike in cases. We’re talking Eastern Washington here, the counties that are laughed at and sneered at by the elites here in the Enlightened Sound. It’s rural, in other words. Assumptions are that Memorial Day celebrations had something to do with it. People here in King County are gracefully, carefully, fearfully avoiding forecasts of an uptick as a result of all the protesting. Most of the reporting paints a utopian picture of thousands of people marching in perfect six-foot intervals while wearing masks. But then you see the photos.

A comment from the article where those pictures were posted:

We are remarkably forgiving of things that we like.

I’ve been as wrong as can be from the beginning anyway, so I have little to say. King County’s been doing well, and we’ve applied for Phase 2. I believe that means up to 50% capacity in stores and restaurants. I might be able to go for that. It still interrupts the ritual, though. Besides, I figure that if I’ve been able to be a good little sheep for this long, I might as well wait it out a little longer. No sense pretending to be brave now.


It’s the last day of school. We’re all getting a late start. The Boy isn’t up yet (rare for 8:00, which means he’s probably found something else to do instead of coming downstairs), so he doesn’t know that I’m not going to make him do any schoolwork. All of the other kids on our not-so-dead-end street have been out of school since last Wednesday or Thursday, and he’s been diligently working away in here at his cursive, grammar, reading, and math, complaining no more than usual. Good man.

He gets bloody noses. The last few days have been gruesome. Better than a couple of years ago, though, when I woke in the night to hear him crying in his room. I walked in to absolute carnage. His nose started bleeding in his sleep, he obviously rolled around in it for a while, and he and his sheets and pajamas were a Pollockian nightmare. I am not afraid of blood in any conscious way, but prolonged exposure always makes me queasy eventually. Two nights ago it was when his third large clot fell in the sink that I had to step outside for a few minutes. He handles it all so beautifully, so stoically. But on Sunday night it was late, he was very tired, and he started to be worried about all the blood. He’s 9 years old now, and tall and powerful and capable and real, but it still absolutely crushes me to see him scared.


My brother has a bar in Massachusetts. Well, he built a bar. Ok, he built a sort of countertop that he puts out on the beach near the firepit. Everyone on that stretch of sand – permanent residents and return vacationers – knows it well. It’s name is Sharky’s, and it’s on a remote strip of land across the bay from Plymouth, called Saquish. Anyway, it’s a minor legend out there, at least among family and friends. There are hats and t-shirts, and it has its own facebook page.

We here in Seattle have decided to name the patio I just built “Sharky’s West.” We have the blessing of the original proprieter, so all that remains is for me to carve up and hang a wooden sign that looks something like this:

The home and humble grounds themselves we are going to call “Twin Cedars,” for the two, uh, cedar trees that stand prominently behind our new patio. So we will have Sharky’s West at Twin Cedars. All are welcome, but were not putting up any stupid signs to say that. There’s the namesake trees now:

They’re taller in real life.

That’s a lot, but still not much, and – wait, I almost forgot. I emptied my yahoo mailbox clear back to April of 2010. The first email on the pile is now part of an exchange between myself and the man behind Sippican Cottage. If you don’t know him, he is a writer and furniture maker out in the Maine hinterlands. At least he was in 2010. He used to blog rather famously, and published a book of flash fiction called “The Devil’s in the Cows.” It’s been years since he posted last. But seeing his email made me go check his website, and lo there are few new posts, albeit reprints of earlier writings. No new content as of yet. It’ll be good for all of us if he gets going again. Visit this post for a look at my kids 9 years ago, in a different house, sitting on a piece of his furniture. We still have that stepper, plus a second one just like it, and use them both almost daily. There isn’t the slightest wobble or weakness in either of them after significant abuse.


Off to the day now, with, hopefully, a slightly better outlook than I’ve had lately. But it’s hard. It’s mid-June and yesterday I had to go inside to get a toque to wear while reading on the porch. It shouldn’t be like this.

Of Ballads and Bruises

And also of forgiveness

Emily Dickinson:

I HAD a guinea golden;
I lost it in the sand,
And though the sum was simple,
And pounds were in the land,
Still had it such a value
Unto my frugal eye,
That when I could not find it
I sat me down to sigh.
  
I had a crimson robin
Who sang full many a day,
But when the woods were painted
He, too, did fly away.
Time brought me other robins,—
Their ballads were the same,—
Still for my missing troubadour
I kept the “house at hame.”
  
I had a star in heaven;
One Pleiad was its name,
And when I was not heeding
It wandered from the same.
And though the skies are crowded,
And all the night ashine,
I do not care about it,
Since none of them are mine.
  
My story has a moral:
I have a missing friend,—
Pleiad its name, and robin,
And guinea in the sand,—
And when this mournful ditty,
Accompanied with tear,
Shall meet the eye of traitor
In country far from here,
Grant that repentance solemn
May seize upon his mind,
And he no consolation
Beneath the sun may find.

Seems oddly unforgiving. “House at Hame” is from an 1822 Scottish ballad about a woman, at home and working hard to keep her kids fed and clothed while her husband is gone. Presumably in a war, because that’s how these things usually go. There was some unrest in Scotland in 1820, “The Radical War,” but that was short-lived and domestic, consisting of riots and occasional clashes with authorities (where have I heard that before?). Interestingly, and antithetical to Emily’s poem, the husband in the song does return home, to much joy and celebration. A bit more upbeat than Dickinson’s wish for eternal suffering.


I’m going to let the Plague Diaries slide into a less prominent role here. It’s getting old, and I find myself complaining too much. It’s going to be dragging on long enough that I don’t need to worry about running out of things to say. The Boy’s school just emailed us to the tune of “expect to continue some level of homeschooling next year.” They have no definite plan yet, but it won’t be like it used to be. Months ago I obstinately refused to believe that this vain terror would have any lasting effects on life as we knew it. It may be time to admit that I was wrong about that. I am wrong an awful lot.

But I’m right, too, and it’s frustrating. Yesterday I received an email from a friend. I went to high school with her husband. We don’t talk much. But they’re a very thoughtful couple, and it didn’t surprise me that they reached out, offering prayers, thoughts, well wishes while they hear about Seattle on the news. I can’t imagine what image they are getting through The Big Filter. My mom, for instance, asked me how close I lived to “The block party.” No irony, no sarcasm. That’s just what the news told her was happening on Capitol Hill. And that kind of confusion and spin is what fueled my response to yesterday’s email from my friend in California:

It's odd here. From our house it's impossible to tell anything has happened. Or is happening. The West Seattle Bridge being out of operation really cuts us off from the world, and with all the Coronavirus restrictions, well, our universe is decidedly shrunken.

The behavior of people confuses and saddens me, and I guess I just try my best to know what I think about it all. As of now, I have no idea. Everyone seems to have a good point to make alongside every bad one, nobody's doing anything all the way right or all the way wrong, and the whole thing just seems to keep everyone divided and unhappy. I'm reading The Brothers Karamazov right now, in which the principal character lives (at least in the first part) in a monastery. I can't help wanting to run to one myself.

Whether it's streets blocked with protesters, or COVID restrictions from the Governor, I'm tired of not being able to go where I want, when I want. It's a pretty nice life here in our big house with plenty of food and money, but the soul begs for movement, contact, and variety.

Wherever the other side of all this is, and whenever it comes, I hope we all arrive there better than when it started.

Here’s to getting healthy, Comrade Citizen.

The Domestic Terrorism Diaries

Sometimes the winners are real losers.

Come on, man:

Look, I say “I don’t know” an awful lot, and that’s because I don’t know. What I do know is that what’s happening is happening, and like it or not, it’s the process. I have always liked his willingness to do unpopular things, his refusal to be politically correct. He’s shown some backbone that has been sorely missing from the White House for, really, my whole life, and has been good medicine for the whiners and whingers of The United States for the last few years. And one of the things that I appreciated about him from the beginning was that he seemed to have the right idea about who and what he was as the President. With every other politician, you can sense the megalomania from a mile away. Trump always seemed kind of blasé and disinterested in the power, and more focused on breaking up the phlegmmy muck clogging up the political machine, while actually and genuinely putting America and Americans first. He’s been famous forever – becoming president wasn’t going to give him much of a bump in that category. But here he is, forgetting all of that, and saying, “Take back your city NOW” or he will do it for them. A bit of an egregious chest thump. (One of) The (many) problem(s) with that is that the city of Seattle does not belong to Mayor Durkan, nor to Governor Inslee. It is not in any way “their” city. It belongs to the people, and the people have it, for now. Perhaps for the first time ever, really. It may be bad people, it may be the wrong people, it may be people who aren’t going to vote for you, but it’s the people all the same.

Honestly, Mr. President, I’ve lived under these politicians for a long time now, and I am in no particular hurry to let them have it back.

Besides, perhaps if the police can be overthrown by a bunch of low-grade terrorists, they should be overthrown.

It’s interesting, too, and probably worth several pages of analysis, that a city which has been monopolized by a single political party for as long as anyone can remember, is being overthrown by its own party members. The other party is sitting back, watching the cannibalism and saying “have at it, just stay away from my home and family.”

Please, President Trump, stay away from Seattle. Stay away from Washington state. Protect your own House, even while mine burns down. The idea of the military coming in here and thrashing these punks back to their poetry slams and interpretive dance studios is rather satisfying on the surface, but it’s really nothing that a free society wants to see.


The PVP Diaries #59

“A man who lies to himself is often the first to take offense. It sometimes feels very good to take offense, doesn’t it?”

– The Elder Zosima, The Brothers K.

Here’s a reprint for a day that’s simply one too many:

Soft Armor

Guard against the joylessness -
the shout
the sloganed cry.
Guard against the chanted curse
and truthful-seeming lie.

Guard against the joylessness -
against the sheepish fright.
Guard against the mirthless marches
that wilt without the light
(a truly righteous Army thrives
even out of sight).

Guard against the joylessness -
the hunt
the blue bird’s noose.
Guard against the flashing placards
that turn a lynching loose.

Guard against the joylessness -
against the textbook heart.
Guard against the low momentum
of the classroom’s faded arts
(the ivory’s crumbling fastest
at the over-polished parts).

Guard against the joylessness
my son,
my girl child,
by suiting up in Mother’s grace
and by wielding Father’s smile

The PVP Diaries #58

Which Horseman are we up to?

These quotes are getting long. Wait until you see tomorrow’s.

“Oh, how well he understood that for the humble soul of the simple Russian, worn out by toil and grief, and, above all, by everlasting injustice and everlasting sin, his own and the world’s, there is no stronger need and consolation than to find some holy thing or person, to fall down before him and venerate him.”

– Dostoevsky, The Brothers K

The problem, Fyodor, is that we don’t have time for holiness, so we find some criminal charlatan, and venerate him instead. (He said, in an election year, during race riots.)

The toil and grief:

Not much left to say here. It was interesting to go to the KING 5 news website yesterday to see poor Governor Inslee and the Coronavirus buried deep, deep, and barely visible beneath a pile of violence, fire, and retreating police.

More West Seattle businesses reopened yesterday.

The everlasting sin:

I don’t know what to say here, as far as the police and the rioters go. It’s too obvious to point out the idiocy of running around and burning things, then becoming indignant when the police show up. In the Capitol Hill neighborhood, the police just left. They’re still around, still mildly present, but they boarded up and abandoned the precinct building. That might have been the smart move. The mature move. I have two children who fight with each other all the time, both of them being irrationally intractable and far more wrong than right, making it obvious to any 3rd party observer that the best course of action is for the smarter, stronger one to shrug, walk off, and let the other have his tantrum.

And it’s all very childish, isn’t it? Every time. The rioters are mad at the cops, so they do things to deliberately draw out the cops. The cops come and do hard, mean things to the rioters because the actions of the rioters demanded it, the rioters point and say “see?” and somehow nobody feels as stupid as they should. Or they actually do, and like all children when they start to feel their own guilt, they double down on the crookedness.

This is a questionable choice, though:

The mayor said previously she hoped the crews would help to clean up the area daily. The city is also maintaining chemical toilets in Cal Anderson and will add a new bank of toilets outside Seattle Central on Broadway in a bid to avoid the health problems that dogged the neighborhood’s Occupy camp nearly a decade ago.

Capitol Hill Seattle

They made this bed. Don’t clean the sheets for them.

The article also said that the rioters had rearranged barricades to block traffic. Cars and trucks are having to turn around. That’s nice, because we all know that businesses create their own goods on Star Trek replicators in the back room, and never have to be supplied by deliveries from the outside.

Perfect opportunity for a siege, if you ask me. Starve ’em out. Their little urban p-patches, fertilized as they are by patchouli and vanity, won’t be near enough to feed them all.

It’s important to note, just once, that equality and justice are the rallying cry, but as with everything else that mobs do, the true driving force behind all of this is the simple fear of not being able to take credit when something significant happens. “I was there.” Doesn’t really matter what that something is. We are driven by fear and loneliness more than anything perhaps. Surfing a human tsunami anonymously as it wipes a city away is preferable to having to say, afterwards, that you only saw it on snapchat. Lots of little nobodies are paddling in a panic out there, because fortifying your house against the flotsam-riddled wave is too much work, and lonely.

Anyway, it’s all fear and momentum now. People feel the advantage building for the other team, so loyalties will be shifting, and an embarrassing sequence of bad political decisions and dangerous policy choices is sure to follow. Votes uber alles. Seattle may get its experiment with real socialism sooner than later. The corporations that pump blood into this city and keep it alive are no doubt already working on their bugout plans. Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, etc. They’re the most generous, philanthropic, socially conscious and justice-oriented entities this city has ever known, but socialism’s about criminalizing the success of others, so it’ll be “off with their heads.” If you don’t think Bezos and Bill are fully prepared to wag a middle finger in the rearview without skipping a corporate beat, you’re more naive than I am. And folks, you read these pages, I’m pretty bad.

The humble soul:

It was my daughter’s last day of 6th grade yesterday. Felt like nothing happened. They had a Zoom class or two, then it was just over. Nothing changes much for me, either. She’s independent – gets herself up and fed in plenty of time for classes, so that was never part of my routine. The school tried to signify things by sending out a few high-energy emails full of great ideas for the summer and commiserations over the “weirdness of these times,” but in the end it’s just a few months without classes. No big to-do. I imagine we’ll all be out and about in a fairly normal, pre-Wuhan way sooner than later, because as hard as sudden homeschooling may have been for people, it at least had structure and requirements and a schedule, to some degree. Summer’s just chaos, and families are going to be clamoring for the progression of recovery phases to continue with as much haste as possible. We need to go from 1.5 to 4, like today.

I cut The Boy’s hair yesterday. I haven’t done that in years. His mom gave him a little trim a few weeks ago, but no kind of a lasting scourge like the one I laid on him in the bathroom, under the humming clippers after school. He’s got wild hair, he does, and I may not be particularly proud of my tonsorial handiwork, but he was perfectly pleased:

“Thanks for giving me a good haircut. I look a lot more like you. I like looking like you.”


Wax your plywood surfboard, Comrade Citizen!