When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose

It’s hard to outrun it because it moves very fast but not so fast that we don’t see it coming

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I am not going to talk about the thing in the news except to say that everything that was true yesterday remains true today and that everything that needed to be done yesterday still needs to be done today. I do wish that we were able to spend a little bit of time without being lied to every so often though. We could carve out a little space and make a day of it and agree not to lie to each other for a little while and see what that feels like maybe we would like it. Maybe it would catch on.

I had two separate celebrations this weekend with old friends that I hid myself away from. One was a sporty type thing for my old sports friends where we were meant to watch basketball and shoot pool and play cards and one was a musical type thing for my old musician friends where well I don’t know what was happening there talking about the old days probably. A weird thing is when you’re with sports guys and someone gets out a ball it’s usually like oh hell yeah and when you’re with musicians and someone breaks out a guitar everyone is like this fucking guy.

The latter was a fiftieth birthday party which is insane to me that I could have a fifty year old friend. I used to like hanging out with those friends because I was the young one and still am I guess technically speaking but the weird thing is I always felt like the young one with the other group too even though we’re all exactly the same age. Maybe that is on account of I had succeeded in pretending I was still young for longer than they did via not having children and wearing much tighter pants.

I love my friends and I love spending time with them but one thing I don’t necessarily love is standing around watching us all get older together so instead what I did on Friday and Saturday night was stay in and drink on the back porch alone like a dog that crawls under the house to die where no one can see it. Michelle and I went out to dinner at the neighborhood pub for a little while actually and that was nice and she makes me laugh and I guess she probably gets to watch me getting old every day but it’s not as obvious because it’s in slow motion little by little. When you only see a friend once a year then it looks like they aged all at once and you’re taken aback like what the fuck happened to you man and then you think what must they be thinking of me. Better to crumble to dust where no one can see it.

Over the past few days of drinking I just had there was only one thing I could think about which is I cannot wait until Sunday night to not drink and then Monday morning to not feel like shit which I went ahead and followed through on. Waking up without a hangover is the best feeling in the world and if they could bottle what it feels like to not drink I would swallow so much of it at once. I would drink it constantly because doing something is a lot easier than not doing something.

I was just reading some stuff by a writer named Randall Jarrell who was a lovely poet and a pilot in World War II and a fierce literary critic and apparently a big fucking asshole with a heart of gold despite it all which is the one type of guy you used to be able to be.

His reviews of poetry were “unbelievably cruel,” John Berryman said of him. “He hated bad poetry with such vehemence and so vigorously that it didn't occur to him that in the course of taking apart—where he'd take a book of poems and squeeze, like that, twist—that in the course of doing that, there was a human being also being squeezed.” Robert Lowell said his pique was born out of passion for good work and that he took “as much joy in rescuing the reputation of a sleeping good writer as in chloroforming a mediocre one.”

All of that gives me a good idea to rebrand how I act on Twitter which is to frequently point out how bad other tweets are but maybe I only do that because I love good posts so much I just want to see them elevated if anyone wants to fall for that. A tweet is a type of poem whose only subject matter is loneliness.

I came across this poem of Jarrell’s which is about a woman who realizes all of a sudden one day that she has become older and now unseen which is troubling due to being seen was one of the only types of women they had that you were allowed to be and sometimes still is.

Next Day

Moving from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All,
I take a box
And add it to my wild rice, my Cornish game hens.
The slacked or shorted, basketed, identical
Food-gathering flocks
Are selves I overlook. Wisdom, said William James,

Is learning what to overlook. And I am wise
If that is wisdom.
Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves
And the boy takes it to my station wagon,
What I’ve become
Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.

When I was young and miserable and pretty
And poor, I’d wish
What all girls wish: to have a husband,
A house and children. Now that I’m old, my wish
Is womanish:
That the boy putting groceries in my car

See me. It bewilders me he doesn’t see me.
For so many years
I was good enough to eat: the world looked at me
And its mouth watered. How often they have undressed me,
The eyes of strangers!
And, holding their flesh within my flesh, their vile

Imaginings within my imagining,
I too have taken
The chance of life. Now the boy pats my dog
And we start home. Now I am good.
The last mistaken,
Ecstatic, accidental bliss, the blind

Happiness that, bursting, leaves upon the palm
Some soap and water—
It was so long ago, back in some Gay
Twenties, Nineties, I don’t know . . . Today I miss
My lovely daughter
Away at school, my sons away at school,

My husband away at work—I wish for them.
The dog, the maid,
And I go through the sure unvarying days
At home in them. As I look at my life,
I am afraid
Only that it will change, as I am changing:

I am afraid, this morning, of my face.
It looks at me
From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate,
The smile I hate. Its plain, lined look
Of gray discovery
Repeats to me: “You’re old.” That’s all, I’m old.

And yet I’m afraid, as I was at the funeral
I went to yesterday.
My friend’s cold made-up face, granite among its flowers,
Her undressed, operated-on, dressed body
Were my face and body.
As I think of her and I hear her telling me

How young I seem; I am exceptional;
I think of all I have.
But really no one is exceptional,
No one has anything, I’m anybody,
I stand beside my grave
Confused with my life, that is commonplace and solitary.

That’s not the one that I was happiest to be reminded of though it was his most famous work which was anthologized often in part because of how short it is but also because of the succinct through line it draws between the nothingness before birth and the nothingness after death.

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

I read that one again today in a piece that a nice Hell World reader named Eric sent to me called Singing in Dark Times by Erica Funkhouser from a 2005 issue of Harvard Review. In it she traces the evolution of the poetry of war over the years. It takes its title from the Bertolt Brecht poem I mentioned last time and of course it stops to consider perhaps the most famous World War I poem by Wilfred Owen.

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

I had been flirting with the idea of falling for Pete Buttigieg like many other Democrats have already but it seems the brief little window of enthusiasm he was afforded has already been closed somewhat. Someone just showed me this tweet of his from October 2017 which would have been the day after a man in Las Vegas killed fifty eight people and caused over eight hundred more to be injured in the shooting or the ensuing panic.

At the time he was rightfully pilloried for such an obtuse statement seeming to suggest that assault rifles are only meant to be employed for the killing of foreigners by Americans not Americans by Americans but I’m not sure I can enthusiastically support someone who had such a blindspot as recently as two years ago.

“Every planned public statement by a professional Democrat sounds like what’s left at the end of a ten hour marketing meeting after all the good ideas have been trashed, and it’s because that’s what it is” my friend Greg just said when I shared that tweet and he’s right about that.

I don’t know much about what sort or if any poetry has been written about the more recent wars where we have sent people like friendly old Mayor Pete to carry his gun around but there are two works of fiction about Iraq and Afghanistan I quite love and one is Redeployment by Phil Klay which won the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction among other prizes which is a shorthand way of me telling you smart people will like it.

In one of the stories a character talks about Wilfred Owen who wrote that famous poem up there from earlier and the passage goes like this:

“I don’t know if any of you know Wilfred Owen. He was a soldier who died in the First World War, a war that killed soldiers by the hundreds of thousands. Owen was a strange sort. A poet. A warrior. A homosexual. And as tough a man as any Marine I’ve ever met. In World War One, Owen was gassed. He was blown in the air by a mortar and lived. He spent days in one position, under fire, next to the scattered remains of a fellow officer. He received the Military Cross for killing enemy soldiers with a captured enemy machine gun and rallying his company after the death of his commander. And this is what he wrote about training soldiers for the trenches. These are, by the way, new soldiers. They hadn’t seen combat yet. Not like he had. “Owen writes: ‘For 14 hours yesterday I was at work—teaching Christ to lift his cross by numbers, and how to adjust his crown; and not to imagine he thirsts until after the last halt. I attended his Supper to see that there were no complaints; and inspected his feet that they should be worthy of the nails. I see to it that he is dumb, and stands at attention before his accusers. With a piece of silver I buy him every day, and with maps I make him familiar with the topography of Golgotha.” 

The other book which I‘ve mentioned before is Cherry by Nico Walker which is about the best book I’ve read in years and it’s about the war too and also about addiction and it says things like:

“People kept dying: in ones and twos, no heroes, no battles. Nothing. We were just the help, glorified scarecrows; just there to look busy, up the road and down the road, expensive as fuck, dumber than shit.” 


“There are countless women in the world. At times it’s more than I can bear to think about: that there should be so many and they all start out the way they do, with all the brightness and their own invisible worlds and secret languages and what else they have, and that we ruin everything. And I have been mangled by vicious killers in my time, but I haven’t ever doubted it was only that someone had killed them first. Someone like me.” 

Anyway I feel like old Mayor Pete was so close to getting the real point behind what he said and maybe he has by now we will see.

Check out this shit: Researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt School of Medicine combed through years worth of data and found that in 2017 more kids in America died by guns than active duty military and police officers combined.

“It is sobering that in 2017, there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty, and about 1,000 active duty military throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-aged children were killed by firearms,” they wrote via the MinnPost.

Read some more of this shit:

They found that 38,940 American children between the ages of 5 and 18 died from gunshot wounds between 1999 and 2017.

Those deaths included 6,464 children aged 5 to 14  (an average of 340 deaths per year) and 32,478 teens aged 15 to 18 (an average of 2,050 deaths per year).

Most of the deaths (61 percent) were the result of an assault, while about a third (32 percent) were due to a suicide. One in 20 of the children (5 percent) died in a gun-related accident, and the other deaths (2 percent) were categorized as “undetermined.”

Among the 5 to 14 year olds, however, accidental shootings were the cause of 12.8 percent (830) of the deaths.

Boys were at a particularly high risk of dying from a gunshot wound. The vast majority — 86 percent — of all the gun-related deaths in the study were boys.

Also more vulnerable were black children, who made up 41 percent of the gun-related deaths.

Sometimes I feel like on the day America was founded a single bullet was fired and it’s been circling the country ever since visiting each of us in our homes one by one like a bloodthirsty Santa Claus and it’s hard to outrun it because it moves very fast but not so fast that we don’t see it coming and couldn’t stop it if we all tried.

Maybe don’t read this next part if you’re particularly sensitive to talk of suicide ok? There’s nothing else much below here you need to see. Wait before you go please accept this token of my appreciation which is an absolutely delightful video of Alex Jones being chased out of a restaurant in Texas from over the weekend.

A man named Jeremy Richman who was forty nine years old is dead from an apparent suicide this week. His daughter Avielle was among the two dozen plus killed in the Sandy Hook shooting and he had started a foundation where part of the work was trying to get more research done into what goes on in the brains of murderers like the one who killed his baby. Alex Jones has done a very good job spreading the message that Richman’s daughter was never killed and being chased out of a restaurant isn’t anywhere close to the full extent of what he deserves.

The news of his death came after two survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting recently died of apparent suicides themselves. The second person hasn’t been named but the first was a nineteen year old named Sydney Aiello who had suffered with survivor’s guilt after losing a close friend her mother said.

Here is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 in case you ever need it. Sometimes people get angry when there is a high profile suicide and people post the number as if it is doing anything other than broadcasting empathy and I asked some experts about that last year after I had called the number one day myself and they told me a lot of beneficial things if you’d like to read more about them you can do so here. Actually fuck it I’ll just post the entire piece here because maybe someone gets something out of it.

The woman who answered the phone line when I called sounded so compassionate. Almost too much so. Even at that low point, when my brain was lying to me about everything else, I remember thinking at least my bullshit detector seemed to be in good working order. But as we talked, her voice pulled me in.

She wanted to know how I was feeling, so I explained the nature of my distress in detail. In so doing I realized my problems sounded rather mundane compared to the type of thing she must usually hear. I thought, “I’m going to kill myself over this?”

Even getting to the point of calling a suicide prevention hotline was a huge step, as it can be for a lot of people. I’d been saving it like a last timeout at the end of a close football game for months. I didn’t know what to expect, and I certainly didn’t want to be pulled into a whole fucking thing, like can often happen if you say the wrong thing to a well-intentioned friend or family member, or, like had happened a few months earlier when at a routine doctor’s visit, I somehow said too many of the wrong types of bad words, and then an ambulance and a few police cruisers stopped by to look me over. The last thing anyone needs at a time like that is for a fucking cop to show up.

I searched for a number to call on Twitter, in part because I spend most of my days online, but also because I remembered someone I followed had tweeted about it recently. It wasn’t hard to find. This week, for better or for worse depending on who you ask, such posts have become ubiquitous on social media. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising. After all, this is Twitter, the site where we go to destroy each other’s—and our own—mental health on a consistent basis. But somehow even the simple act of posting a suicide hotline number has become controversial.

“If one more person smugly posts a fucking phone number as though that’s enough on its own to fix anything I’m gonna kill myself,” a friend of mine tweeted yesterday. He was joking, I think, but this summarizes what’s become a common refrain after every high-profile suicide.

For every presumably well-meaning post from someone sharing a suicide prevention number, there will be a reactionary post calling that person out for empty, performative empathy. “Here’s to hoping another mid-level celebrity kills themselves so you all can go back to grandstanding and posting the suicide prevention hotline number to make yourself feel good,” wrote one particularly irritated Twitter user. “Retweeting a suicide hotline when somebody has just committed is the bare amount of virtue signaling bullshit. I’d imagine it’s actually insulting to the intelligence of people in duress, like they didn’t know there was a number,” added another. “You know what’s even better than posting suicide hotline numbers on social media? Actually checking on people you care about,” wrote a third.

Twitter is always a morass of spite and broadly yet poorly aimed invective, but around the time of a celebrity death, and especially a celebrity suicide, it’s even more toxic than usual. Taking the sentiment being expressed here sincerely, the idea seems to be that simply posting the suicide hotline number is an easy way to show that one is concerned about the problem, while not doing anything particularly effective to actually combat it. It’s like tweeting out “thoughts and prayers” in the aftermath of another mass shooting, only to then go back about the business of ignoring the real problems. While smarm online is always a worthy target, the anger here seems misplaced, if only in part because it presumes that the people sharing the number aren’t doing anything else in their personal relationships to help friends who may be suffering, something none of us are in a position to know.  

I asked Dr. Dan Reidenberg, executive director of SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education), what he thought of this now recurring phenomenon online. Surprisingly, the truth of the matter lies somewhere in between the two polar, intractable positions being hurled into the posting void.

“In essence what you’re referring to is this idea that it’s someone else’s responsibility, that if i just post this I’ve done enough to do my part. That just by posting a number I’ve absolved myself of any kind of guilt or responsibility if something happens to someone,” he said.

There’s something to that, he thinks, but in the long run, doing something, even the bare minimum, is always better than doing nothing.

“Doing nothing doesn’t make the problem go away. It is not going to help anyone by doing nothing. We need to acknowledge and be thankful that some of the public is doing this even if it is on social media rather than personally or one-on-one,” he said. “We need to increase that because it’s not universal, but we need to go to the next level where everyone has a role in this. It’s not just about putting a phone number out there.”

Indeed, there is much more to be done than simply sharing a number, because there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to suicide prevention. Call centers can be overburdened, or the volunteers who staff them may not be well trained enough to handle a particular situation and may not follow through on sending help in the event of an imminent suicidal threat. For other people suffering from suicidal ideation, intervention or care from friends may be more effective for them personally, and encouraging them to seek sustained help from medical professionals—something call centers often do—can be much more helpful in the long term.

But in the meantime, having the number to call could be a lifesaver. Studying the results for people who call into such numbers can be difficult to track, because they rely on people’s willingness to speak candidly and volunteer information about their experiences with the hotline. One study, conducted by Madelyn Gould of Columbia University, a prominent researcher in the field, found that of the callers they tracked, 12 percent of people said calling the hotline stopped them from killing themselves, and that around 50 percent acted on the phone counselor’s suggestion to seek emergency help or mental health services. Eighty percent of the callers said the phone line played a role in keeping them alive. “Significant decreases in suicidality were found during the course of the telephone session, with continuing decreases in hopelessness and psychological pain in the following weeks,” the researchers wrote.

“It depends really how you’re defining effective,” Reidenberg said when I asked about how well the lines work. “Are people able to get help and services and support and intervention as they need it? Yes, in that respect they are. Are they effective in being able to handle all of the needs out there? No.”

The impulse, if not the execution, behind the angry pushback against simply sharing a number on Twitter is correct then, in that there is a lot more that could be done. This is something we should all concern ourselves with, seeing as suicide rates have increased almost 30 percent since 1999 across nearly all demographics. What, then, can a person who is actually interested in helping do?

“Go to our website and learn what the warning signs are,” Reidenberg said. “Learn about the differences between youth and adult warning signs. Learn how to ask the question. Learn what the risk factors are. The key here is the goal is not to make the general public doctors or experts in suicide; the goal is to give enough people enough information to be able to do something when those professionals aren’t available to them. We don’t want to make everyone a cardiac surgeon, but we do want people to know to exercise or eat right and other things to do to prevent a heart attack. It’s a similar analogy about what we want the general public to know to prevent a tragedy from happening.”

I asked the people at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline what they think a more beneficial step than sharing their number on social media might be. There are five action steps they share for communicating with people who might be showing signs of suicidal thoughts. Among them are simply asking in a direct, nonjudgmental way if the person is thinking about suicide, and then being sure to listen. Find out if they have a specific plan or time frame for carrying it out. If possible, remove them from proximity to particularly lethal means of suicide, such as guns and medications.

Then be there for them. “Increasing someone’s connectedness to others and limiting their isolation (both in the short and long term) has shown to be a protective factor against suicide,” they write. Help them connect with professionals who are better suited to offer counseling, and set up an actionable plan together for them to consult if they ever experience serious thoughts of suicide, such as making a list of people they can call for help. Also important is following up. Studies have shown checking back in on friends can help prevent suicide.

“If you’re worried about someone in crisis, you need to say something different than just a general message,” Reidenberg said. A general message is still good, but it’s not the whole picture. “The type of general message we should be sharing is that we need people to understand these are real illnesses. We need to not stigmatize or discriminate. We need generic types of messages that are based in support or understanding.”

Everyone’s experience is going to be different, but I was glad I made the call. It wasn’t a magic spell by any means, and it didn’t solve any of the underlying issues that brought me to that point, but it did what it was intended to do and helped forestall any impulsive action.

I spoke the words that had been poisoning me. They were heard with empathy, and then I didn’t have to carry them inside of me alone for the rest of the day. Getting people who are suffering from suicidal ideation to reconsider it in the moment is often an effective means of preventing them from trying it again in the future.

I felt a lot like how Ken Baldwin, a man who survived jumping off the Golden Gate bridge in 1985, explained his experience to The New Yorker. As he jumped, he said, “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”

It's about punishing them for being poor

It is really expensive being poor

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Republicans in Florida will see the poor and people of color driven back off the voter rolls if it’s the last thing they do. On Tuesday the state’s House Criminal Justice Subcommittee passed along a new bill that would reverse much of the progress made by a widely popular amendment that restored voting rights to felons last November. Prior to its passage Florida was one of the four states in the country that denied felons the right to vote and it was also coincidentally the first to institute a poll tax which this new thing sounds a lot like and clearly is.

At question in the bill is the issue of when a person has officially completed their sentence. Republicans argue that they should be required to pay off all outstanding fines and fees including ones not imposed upon them by a judge in their sentencing before they can become eligible again. In other words any balance on the costs of their incarceration or probation such as ankle monitoring bracelets and any of the other horrific indignities they were subjected to by the profit-making carceral state torture apparatus must be paid in full before they are granted the basic right of suffrage. Civil court judgments unrelated to the state’s sentencing would also have to be paid off.

Is getting a job and your life back in order after completing a prison sentence often very difficult? Yes it is. Does that mean that many of the people might not be able to allocate money they do not have toward these often very old fines? Of course it does. What happens next? Fuck you is what according to state Republicans and also any other Republican anywhere else at any time in history regarding any other issues if we’re being fair to Republicans. You paid your debt to society now pay all these other debts we came up with in the meantime.

The bill “is an affront to Florida voters who approved Amendment 4,” Kirk Bailey of the ACLU of Florida said in a statement. “If this bill passes, it will undoubtedly continue to disenfranchise those who have already served their time and paid their debt to society.

In arguing against the passage of the bill the Fines and Fees Justice Center, a group fighting against the often arbitrary and cruelly punitive fees associated with incarceration and arrest, laid out how such costs act as an extra hurdle for poorer people.

“The end result of the proposed definition is to disenfranchise poor, low, and middle-income Floridians while higher wealth individuals can participate fully in our democracy. This is not about punishing someone for a crime – it is about punishing them for being poor,” they argue.

“Our position is simple: conditioning the fundamental right to vote on the payment of monetary obligations is unconstitutional. The right to vote should absolutely never come down to wealth, or the lack thereof, but [this bill] does just that. The most appropriate definition of ‘term of sentence’ is also the most simple: a person’s sentence is complete when they complete any period of incarceration or probation.”

In somewhat related news billionaire Patriots owner was offered a plea deal for soliciting prostitution in Florida this week.

“It's not known whether Kraft or the others will accept the conditions of the diversionary program, which includes completing 100 hours of community service, screening for sexually transmitted diseases, completing a course about prostitution and paying $5,000 per count,” ESPN reported but I think we know the answer to that one if we look deep inside our hearts. Being a Patriots fan has been very good the past few years no drawbacks or anything to be ashamed of whatsoever. You love to have devoted a significant part of your identity to this particular sporting franchise.

The amount owed by citizens registering to vote for the first time in Florida this year would likely be at minimum in the hundreds of millions of dollars according to WLRN Miami. As an added little extra fuck you many of these fees will have long since been turned over to private collection agencies who can then impose extra fees of up to 40% under state law. So now your ability to vote is conditional on whether you’re good on the vig to some giamope the government sold the lien on your body to which is more or less how the founders envisioned it.

That’s all before we even get to how Florida and other states have long used “so-called ‘user fees’ and surcharges to underwrite criminal justice costs and close budget gaps,” as the Brennan Center for Justice has explained it. That’s kind of a lot to cover here but real quick aside:

“Since 1996, Florida added more than 20 new categories of financial obligations for criminal defendants and, at the same time, eliminated most exemptions for those who cannot pay,” they wrote in 2010 of Florida’s “cash register justice.” It hasn’t gotten much better since.

“The fee increases have not been accompanied by any evident consideration of their hidden costs: the cumulative impacts on those required to pay, the ways in which the debt can lead to new offenses, and the costs to counties, clerks and courts of collection mechanisms that fail to exempt those unable to pay.”

It is really expensive being poor.

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Here is a tweet from James Grant the committee chair pushing for the new poll tax in question. Grant’s daddy was a state legislator just like him what are the odds man and Grant also doesn’t happen to think term limits apply to him. He thinks he’s got the right to be in office for as long as he wants and other people shouldn’t have the right to vote against him.

Not sure what any of that means but here’s one from him from Tuesday morning before the bill vote where he appears to be fantasizing that he’s a heroic Viking heading into battle which should not be surprising from a guy trying to put the racist toothpaste back into the racist bottle.

Prior to the amendment ex-felons were required to petition the governor and a comically evil panel of ghouls with no set rules, standards, or accountability to plead for the restoration of their civil rights.

“It’s a cross between The Jerry Springer Show and a trial in Soviet Russia,” Jon Sherman, the senior counsel at the Fair Elections Center told the Guardian before the vote last year. “It’s a kangaroo court that sits in judgment of people’s lives and whether they’ve turned them around post-sentence. The governor and his cabinet can make any determination for any reason – stated or unstated.”

You will not be surprised to hear they did not rule favorably in most cases.

Infamously in August of 2018 while sitting on such a panel the state’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis asked a black man how many children he had fathered and with how many different women. Later he asked another man whether or not he was a regular church-goer as a means of determining whether or not he deserved to ever vote again.

Hold on I just got an email with Florida in the subject line let me check if it’s related to any of this.

In Key Largo, the new 200-room, 13-acre Baker’s Cay Resort, at mile marker 97 bayside, is open as the Florida Keys’ only Curio Collection by Hilton. The property features pet-friendly amenities, with a Cay-9 pet program with animal beds and lifejackets, cooling water bowls and collar charms. Pets can explore the hotel’s private beach, swim in Florida Bay during Paw Happy Hour and lap up “puptails” and “yappetizers.” Pet parents can indulge at a beachside tequila and taco bar with house-made hot sauces crafted from peppers grown on the property. Food and beverage options include Dry Rocks and Calusa restaurants and two bars. Visit bakerscayresort.com or call 305-852-5553.

Ah, hmm, I guess not but good to know if you want to take your dog swimming on a private beach in Key Largo. Last month I wrote about the times I visited the Keys and also about how the world is going to end due to climate change and about alcoholism and some other things in a paid-subscriber-only piece and it was a good one you should go read it.

Florida’s efforts to disenfranchise black people stretch back to Reconstruction when they were faced with the prospect of being forced to grant the right to vote to every man in the state. They instead came up with the genius idea to arrest as many of them as possible to prevent them from exercising the franchise which was crucial because so many white people had had their own voting rights taken away due to their role in things such as rebelling against and declaring war on the United States. The white people might have been outnumbered if they didn’t act fast which they of course did.

Kind of sprinting through things here due to you could write a nine million page book about all the various flavors of racist laws we have had but in 1865 they passed what were called Black Codes that increased penalties on recently freed slaves for things like vagrancy and disobedience and other made up shit, “a crime with such a broad definition nearly anyone could be charged,” as the Washington Post described it last year.

Putting a point on it historian Jerrell Shofner wrote that “felony disenfranchisement was a way of reducing the effect of the despised black suffrage that Conservatives knew they had no alternative but to accept.”

Later on in 1889 Florida instituted a poll tax of $2 under the presumption that few if any black people would be able to pay it and they were right. Few poor white people could either but one cool trick a lot of states with poll taxes did was grandfather people in saying that if your literal grandfather had voted then you could too.

“The historical record is filled with racially derogatory statements from delegates at State constitutional conventions who believed poll taxes and other devices would suppress Black voter registration and turnout,” the Constitution Center writes.

And all of that worked really well for decades up until the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the 24th Amendment all of which simply made the racists have to get more creative which is exactly what they’re doing today. America’s capacity for innovating new kinds of racist shit to do is unparalleled.

On the other hand I just saw a video where a host on Fox News Katie Pavlich wanted to talk to racism’s manager because America doesn’t get enough credit for ending slavery a mere hundred and fifty years after it started she said.

Responding to Elizabeth Warren’s talking about looking at the idea of reparations she got real red and raw and dumber than shit about the whole thing.

“They keep blaming America for the sin of slavery but the truth is, throughout human history, slavery existed, and America came along as the first country to end it within 150 years. And we get no credit for that to move forward and try to make good on that.”

That’s weirdly not true buddy.

Also Tucker Carlson this week said he doesn’t think the country is racist due to “inter-marriage.”

Here’s something else that sucks.

Dick Dale the beloved guitar icon who invented surf rock died earlier this week and if that excerpt above is from an interview he gave a few years back to the Pittsburgh City Paper.

Dick Dale was from Boston and spent a lot of time down on the South Shore where I am from and that sort of thing shouldn’t matter when a celebrity dies but it does I think we all know that. It’s different to know that someone looked at the same trees you looked at.

I would see Dick Dale dates advertised at the Middle East in Boston like way more frequently than you would have thought they should be happening up until this year and be like why is this dude still touring so hard he must love it! and maybe he did love it but he shouldn’t have had to keep working until the day he died no one should have to do that celebrity or not. I’m trying to imagine touring at 80. I fucking hated it at 25 and no way I was gonna do it at 40 with this band I have now it sucks shit.

In any case the point is I can't imagine a more succinct emblem of our cancerous American nightmare than a beloved elderly guitarist dragging his dying body across the country to play in pain while his hospital tells him to wash out the bag he shits into to save some dead eyed ghouls money.

Here’s something else that sucks part two.

I think it’s fair to say that doctors have been overprescribing opioids for a good long while here now but I don’t know if that’s necessarily because they are fucking morons who don’t know what they’re doing and want all their patients to die? I think it maybe has to do with the Sackler family and others narcotraficantes like them bribing doctors into pushing as much of their product as possible (?) And then they had the fucking stones to try to make the rest of us look like junkies for falling for it.

“We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible,” Arthur Sackler wrote in an email in 2001 if you remember that part of the sordid plot which you probably do because I will never forget it. “They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals,” he said.

A few weeks ago I wrote this about that particular family whom I do not care for all that much:

I don’t know if they are going to end up facing any consequences for what they’ve done we don’t tend to punish billionaires particularly frequently these days but at the very least I think we can all agree to remember their name for what it is. They love having their names attached to big impressive things so let us call the opioid crisis by what it is let us make sure to say the name Sackler every time we mention it. The Sackler opioid crisis. That way they can be remembered on throughout history like they always wanted.

I don’t really want to ruin the overall you know vibe of Hell World by sharing some good news but here is some good news: Turns out the National Portrait Gallery in London won’t be accepting a £1 million donation from the Sacklers after an uproar over their accepting the blood money.

“But while both parties insisted that the decision was mutual, it will be seen as a major blow to the family’s status as leading philanthropists and evidence that a campaign against the Sacklers, led by the American artist Nan Goldin, has been effective,” the Guardian reported.

Goldin who has spoken about becoming addicted to OxyContin herself after being prescribed it said today that they did the right thing. “I hope there is a domino effect now,” she said.

“There needs to be,” she said.

“I don’t know how they live with themselves,” she said.

Goldin wrote an article in Art Forum about her experience and Elizabeth Sackler who loves art wrote a letter in response trying to explain that her father’s stake in Purdue was sold to his brothers after he died so she had nothing to do with the whole thing. She’s a big supporter of the arts including the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

“My father, Arthur M. Sackler, died in 1987, before OxyContin existed and his one-third option in Purdue Frederick was sold by his estate to his brothers a few months later,” she wrote. “None of his descendants have ever owned a share of Purdue stock nor benefitted in any way from it or the sale of OxyContin. I stand with all angry voices against abuse of power that harms or compromises any and all lives.”

It was Arthur’s savvy in marketing Valium that got the ball rolling on the Sackler drug empire Goldin has pointed out but I take her point no one wants to feel guilty about things that happened before we were born or that our parents set into motion and maybe we shouldn’t feel quite as bad as them but we still benefited from it all didn’t we. We still got the leg up.

“She’s not off the hook,” Goldin said.

None of us are. Not for any of this.

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