All night long they’re saying immigrants are coming to replace you

Whether he actually believes it or not I’m just going to assume that he does

Hello buddy this shit doesn’t write itself so thank you for supporting my work if you already do. If you don’t maybe you can throw me the funny number of dollars so I don’t have to go back to being a both sides media coward. I love you so much.

If you missed it the other day I talked to Portugal. The Man's John Gourley about Alaska’s piece of shit governor and his support for indigenous causes in his home state.

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I’m sorry I know it’s early but let’s read a transcript of Tucker Carlson’s show from Tuesday night. He was talking about Ilhan Omar who is braver than any American troop that has ever lived as we all know and he said among a lot of other horrible shit that she is “living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country.”

Here’s the relevant part, via Media Matters.

Ilhan Omar has an awful lot to be grateful for, but she isn't grateful, not at all. After everything America has done for Omar and for her family, she hates this country more than ever.

In a recent piece in The Washington Post, the reporter put it this way, quote, "In Omar's version, America isn't the bighearted country that saved her from a brutal war and a bleak refugee camp. It wasn't a meritocracy that helped her attend college or vaulted her into Congress. Instead, it was the country that had failed to live up to its founding ideals, a place that had disappointed her and so many immigrants, refugees, and minorities like her," end quote. If anything, that's an understatement.

Omar isn't disappointed in America, she's enraged by it. Virtually every public statement she makes accuses Americans of bigotry and racism. This is an immoral country, she says. She has undisguised contempt for the United States and for its people. That should worry you, and not just because Omar is now a sitting member of Congress.

Ilhan Omar is living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country. A system designed to strengthen America is instead undermining it. Some of the very people we try hardest to help have come to hate us passionately.

Maybe that's our fault for asking too little of our immigrants. We aren't self-confident enough to make them assimilate, so they never feel fully American. Or maybe the problem is deeper than that, maybe we are importing people from places whose values are simply antithetical to ours. Who knows what the problem is, but there is a problem, and whatever the cause, this cannot continue. It's not sustainable.

No country can import large numbers of people who hate it and expect to survive. The Romans were the last to try that, with predictable results. So, be grateful for Ilhan Omar, annoying as she is. She's a living fire alarm, a warning to the rest of us that we better change our immigration system immediately, or else.

I probably don’t need to mention that is some straight white supremacist shit. He’s barely even trying to hide it anymore if he ever even was.

“‘Tucker Carlson said something nauseatingly racist last night’ is a statement roughly as newsworthy as ‘the sun rose again this morning,’” New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz wrote in a thorough point by point examination of all the lies told in the segment which you should read.

“Still, the host’s latest diatribe against America’s first Muslim congresswoman merits examination. And not merely because it is exceptionally hateful, even by Tucker’s formidable standards. Rather, Carlson’s monologue also serves as an object lesson on the right’s intellectual bankruptcy and moral cowardice.”

Omar for her part described the situation exactly as it is.

None of this is surprising to you or new. None of this is shocking anymore but something about this segment and the one that followed up on Wednesday struck even reporters who follow Carlson regularly as beyond the pale.

Even Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic took time in between diaper changings and crying about all powerful campus authoritarians barely out of the freshman fifteen to say enough is enough.

The next night Carlson of course doubled down which is the only move he has left at this point. Omar is the real racist he said. His show “more than any other show” he said “has taken an aggressive position in favor of color blind equality and against racism.” [Citation needed]

It feels to me and maybe this is just because I’m one of the real racists that things are coming to a head. Maybe I’m just imagining things I don’t know but on the other hand I just read a story in the New York Times that said “nationwide raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin Sunday…” so who is to say what sort of effect this constant barrage of fear-mongering from Carlson and the gang down at the racism factory is having on people’s lives.

I don’t typically watch Carlson or anything on Fox News but Andrew Lawrence of Media Matters does every night for work which frankly sounds like a huge fucking bummer. Lawrence thinks this is a new low for Carlson and that his rhetoric is ratcheting up to unseen levels even judging by the already impossibly low bar he’s set for himself.

I called Lawrence to talk about how dangerous this shit is getting and what watching Fox News for a living feels like.

I think it’s pretty easy for us to all get outraged about whatever the latest Tucker thing is every day, but even with that in mind, this segment on Omar seemed extreme for him you’re saying?

Yeah absolutely. The thing with Tuesday night, he singled out one particular person, and it was a member of Congress, and just straight up called her a danger to America, and an example of why immigration in general, the way our immigration system runs, is going to destroy America. It’s not just the quotes. If you listen to his tone, the type of people who watch his show, it’s extremely dangerous to say this type of thing.

He’s been spouting off white nationalist rhetoric since he got this eight o’clock gig, but this was different. It really was. I watch this shit every single night, and I was pretty shocked at what he said. It was really vile, and that type of stuff is dangerous.

Didn’t Judge Jeanie say some terrible shit that night too? How much space does he have left to go on this?

Who knows what the next step is, but one thing that’s so frustrating is that he’s escalating. He gets called out for this stuff over and over again, and it just doesn’t matter. There’s no repercussions for it. Fox News has always had racism on the airwaves, but it’s different now. It used to be sort of like the country club racism, which is still awful, and dangerous, but now it’s like straight up blood and soil white supremacist rhetoric. You have the Daily Stormer praising Tucker every single night. They don’t ever take a step back and say, alright, maybe this language is a little bit rough. There’s no self reflection at all.

Dude, last night, it was depressing seeing that stuff broadcast, and this is one of the top two most watched show in cable news. It’s just awful. It shouldn’t even be on the airwaves, never mind one of the most watched shows on cable news. It’s depressing to see it happen over and over, but I think it also ties to – were you following when Media Matters published the Bubba tapes with Tucker? We got a little blowback, like, why even publish this stuff? It’s five, six, seven years ago. There’s one clip where he called Iraqis semi-literate primitive monkeys. And he said that, and I don’t know if this is the exact quote, but it was along the lines of they don’t operate like they’re human beings. That’s how he thinks of that part of the world in general.

So to get back to what he said about Omar, he doesn’t think of these people as people. He thinks of them as sub-human at best. There’s this pattern with him, and you sort of have to understand what he’s been saying for years, to get to what he said this week. What his point is is that it’s us versus them, and us is the WASP-y trust fund babies like himself, the white Americans, and immigration is bringing it down. These people aren’t truly Americans. That’s like the great replacement theory that’s popular with white nationalists. He’s spouting that stuff almost every single night without coming right out and saying the great replacement theory, but everyone knows what he’s talking about.

It’s really dangerous and really scary. Like I said, I watch this every night. It’s just sick, it’s really gross.

And Trump retweeted a CNN piece on it?

CNN did a piece on it and they hammered Tucker saying what we’re saying. Then Mark Levin quote-tweeted it and said CNN is defending the anti-semite Omar, and Trump retweeted Levin.

Jesus. How long have you been doing this job?

It was like mid-2016. Bill O’Reilly was still on the air when I came back.

And a big part of your job is watching this shit every day?

Yeah… basically the way that the night shift works is there are five of us, and I kind of quarterback the whole thing. We watch the shows throughout the night, and the people who monitor the shows send out what we call our flags. It’s basically emails: here’s a segment, here’s what they said. It’s my job to say, well, what they said is bullshit, but fact check that, clip this… We do a lot of research throughout the night, going back and finding old clips that might tie into what’s happening today. Our job is basically to watch it so other people don’t have to.

That said I think it’s important for people to actually start watching. I don’t think people understand how awful it is. It gets to a point where… we’ve had discussions in the past where all night long they’re saying immigrants are coming to replace you, and it’s like, how many times can we clip that and put it out before it loses its power? It gets to the point where it’s almost boring. But it shouldn’t be. We should always be shocked by this stuff being said on the most watched cable news station in the country.

Where is Tucker at with advertisers?

He is struggling man. As far as his commercial breaks, they are few and far between right now and it’s a lot of MyPillow, a lot of like informercials. His major ones left are Sandals, and I don’t know if Bayer came back. They had left, I think they might be back. [Note: they didn’t] Sandals never goes anywhere, and StarKist tuna refuses to leave?

Fucking racist tuna man. I think we’re a Chicken of the Sea family here but I’m gonna have to look into that.

It’s bleak! This is just my theory, and there’s nothing behind this, but Fox News can’t move on Tucker because it will look like they’re giving in to Media Matters, first of all. Second of all, they have spent the last two years saying that anybody who gets fired from anywhere it’s encroaching on the first amendment. Their viewers would be furious if they gave in and got rid of Tucker, but it’s gotta be costing them money. They don’t have any A+ advertisers left.

You probably saw my thing about losing your family to Fox News a while ago. Do you have family like that? And do you understand how someone watching this shit every day could be turned into a xenophobe even if they have no reasons to care about that sort of shit in their life?

Absolutely. As far as my personal family, like, not really. My dad is a Trump supporter. He’s a casual Republican now, he doesn’t really watch the news. He knows that Trump triggers the libs and I guess that’s why he likes them. But this has been a twenty year campaign by Fox News saying we’re the only ones you can trust. This stuff, seriously man, I don’t know what you watch, but you should try watching Fox News only for a week, especially primetime, because it’s just a non-stop barrage of they’re coming to replace you! Immigrants are coming to rape your white daughters and get your son hooked on opioids. MS-13 is coming to Small Town USA. It’s non-stop.

The stuff that they don’t cover on Fox… I haven’t seen any reports on the sexual assaults happening in the concentration camps on the border. There’s barely any mentions of the conditions on the border. And when they do they bring in CBP spokesmen to come in and say that AOC is lying and everything is great, it’s more like a summer camp than a concentration camp. It’s a totally different world.

So I can understand getting caught up in that Fox bubble because you don’t hear or see what’s going on.

How does it effect you? Do you feel like shit all the time?

I wouldn’t say all the time. We have a really awesome crew, so we have a lot of fun with it when we can. I would say the toughest nights are when there’s a mass shooting. The night of the Parkland massacre, Laura Ingraham brought on the manufacturer of the AR-15 [Editor’s note “Assault Rifle One Five”] to talk about how safe it is. The night of the New Zealand massacre, Tucker’s entire segment about it was the libs are gonna come take your guns away, they’re going to use this for political purposes. Those are really tough nights, where every hour or two you have to get up and walk around. But for the most part those are few and far between. For the most part you have to make fun of this stuff. Really the only way to keep your sanity is to try to have fun with it when you can.

If you had to psychoanalyze Tucker, do you think he’s a true believer, or just a grifter who knows this racism shit sells?

I get that question a lot and my response is you can only believe what he says.

It doesn’t matter of course. If he says it he says it. I just mean as a point of human curiosity.

Right. The guy’s a white supremacist. That’s my view. And he’s using the megaphone that Fox News has given him to push white supremacist beliefs. It’s dangerous for the country. Whether he actually believes it or not, I’m just going to assume that he does.

Safe to assume!

Anytime Alaskans are coming together with a common cause I think it’s a great day

An interview with Portugal. The Man's John Gourley

Thanks for reading Hell World please subscribe so my brain can be quiet for a little while.

How much do you know about Alaska? I know precisely fuck all about it besides a couple things one of which is that my friend from college is from there and he seems reasonably normal. He has worked as “a teacher” in D.C. for years but lives in Ecuador now for some reason and we’ve always suspected that he’s in the CIA but he denies it which doesn’t help matters. If you ask a guy if he’s in the CIA it’s like the opposite of the joke where you ask a cop if they’re a cop and they have to tell you because in this case they literally can’t tell you. Long story short if I ever get kidnapped in another country someone call my buddy who used to be on the Holy Cross baseball team.

Another thing I know is that they have a piece of shit governor up there now and he’s maybe even worse than the famous one we all know about from before. This guy’s name is Mike Dunleavy and he’s not the Mike Dunleavy who went for 28 points in game four of the 1981 NBA finals only to ultimately lose the series to Larry Bird and the Celtics he’s a whole other guy with the same name.

One of the things this Alaskan Dunleavy is known for is a commitment to cruel austerity measures that will ruin the lives of his constituents which is another way of saying he’s a standard Republican. He recently added 182 line item vetoes to the 2020 state budget for a total of almost $410 million in cuts. Nearly a third of those cuts come from the University of Alaska system which is set to lose around $130 million or 41% of its total funding according to a Guardian piece titled “Alaska’s governor is trying to destroy its universities. The state may never recover.”

“Alaska's Trumpian Governor Just Threatened the Health of the Entire State,” another piece in Vice explained. One of the campaign promises Dunleavy made when he was elected last year was to restore the Alaska Permanent Funds that residents receive in the form of a check every year. Naturally putting money back in the pockets of residents means the money has to come from somewhere and like most Republicans Dunleavy wants to take it from the people — children, the sick, the elderly — who need it the most.

In addition to the cuts from the University he’s brought the knife out for Medicaid, K-12 schools, a senior benefits program and the Alaska Council for the Arts to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

"When you try and balance the budget, and do it primarily by landing on children and on people who are sick, people who are vulnerable, that says a lot about the values that you have," Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz said.

Another thing Dunleavy did was cut the budget of the state supreme court out of spite because they wouldn’t toe his anti-abortion line and that seems bad to me does it seem bad to you? To start retaliating against the judiciary for their rulings? That seems bad but there no rules anymore and you can do whatever the fuck you want so who am I to say?

Vice explains more about the cuts:

Medicaid, which 184,000 Alaskans rely on, was especially hit hard; adults on Medicaid will no longer receive full dental benefits, only emergency care. In a letter urging legislatures to override the veto, the Alaska Governor's Council on Disabilities & Special Education wrote that cuts to Medicaid would be “devastating” for Alaskans with disabilities.

And the University of Alaska Fairbanks—where Dunleavy received his master’s in education—was also targeted. Guettabi said the $130 million veto to the University of Alaska budget alone would cut 1,300 jobs and return the state to a recession. “Once we account for the other cuts and their direct and indirect effects, the state will lose about 1,000 jobs for every $100 million of cuts,” he said.

This has wider implications for climate research. The university is home to the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, the primary academic research center for the Arctic in the U.S. And there could be a strong ideological influence here since Dunleavy’s opinions echo that the current administration: He dismissed the state’s Climate Action for Alaska Leadership Team, which developed solutions for a rapidly changing climate.

Don’t worry about that climate shit though because Dunleavy doesn’t think it’s a big deal. This year he disbanded the state’s climate change response team set up by his predecessor. “I think we have a lot of issues that, in my opinion, are quite frankly and bluntly more important than the climate task force,” he said.

“Governor Dunleavy’s focus continues to be on making Alaska safer, protecting the Permanent Fund dividend, encouraging economic growth and opportunity and putting Alaska on the path towards a permanent fiscal plan,” his spokesman Matt Shuckerow said at the time and that all sounds like great and very fiscally responsible Republican ass shit if you also pretend not to notice that Alaska’s climate has warmed at twice the global average over the past fifty years and that that change will cost them billions of dollars over the coming years.

Temperatures in Anchorage just broke records this month incidentally.

“Anchorage posted its hottest day on record Thursday, hitting 90 degrees, and then twice matched its previous all-time highest temperature of 85 degrees Sunday and Monday, notching its warmest week on record in the process,” the Washington Post reported. “To top or tie an all-time record three times in five days is practically unheard of.”

“Through Monday, Anchorage had hit 80 degrees or higher six days in row, doubling the previous longest streak of three. Its average temperature over the past 12 days is five degrees higher than any comparable stretch on record.”

Probably nothing to worry about.

One other thing I know about Alaska is the band Portugal. the Man grew up there which is information I possess due to being a consumer of popular culture but also because I am friends with their singer John Gourley on Twitter where he regularly posts about political issues facing the state and all other manner of shit such as the concentration camps we have now.

He and the band flew back home to Anchorage on Tuesday to perform as part of a rally against Dunleavy’s budget cuts.

I called up Gourley to talk about what the fuck is going on up there with Dunleavy, his personal engagement with politics, his commitment to issues facing indigenous people, playing in the band, and how touring the world has opened his eyes to ruinous capitalism making him bummed out pretty much everywhere he goes!

Which part of Alaska are you from?

We kind of lived all over but mainly Knik, outside of Wasilla.

Is that a pretty rural area?

Yeah. Everything out here is off the Parks Highway, so it’s never too far out. I was like thirty minutes from the city of Wasilla. For the most part we moved around, my dad was a dog musher.

Like a lot of people in the lower forty eight I don’t know as much about Alaska as I should. Is that something you find when you tour? That Americans in general don’t even know what Alaska is?

It’s changed recently. I remember going to my grandparent’s place and their friends literally asking us if we lived in igloos, which is ridiculous. They’d ask if we had stores. We’re showing up wearing Levis! I think it’s changed with the internet obviously. And travel. I haven’t been on a flight there that wasn’t sold out in forever.

Obviously one of the people that brought Alaska into the wider public consciousness was Sarah Palin. Did she do as bad a job representing the place as I assume?

It’s funny, Sarah Palin was our mayor in Wasilla growing up. Let me tell you about our first experience with her. It’s perfectly Sarah Palin.

We were all skateboarders, our circle of friends. We were getting kicked out of every business we skated in front of. As you can imagine, finding concrete and asphalt wasn’t the easiest thing to find up there. So we were skating in front of businesses and getting kicked out. It was becoming this big deal. No business wants skateboarders just hanging out in front of their spot. Zach our bass player and our first keyboard player Wes put together a plan with their parents to get a skate park built in Wasilla. They took it to Palin. It was going to be like $140,000 so she tells these kids if you can raise half the money we’ll get it built.

That’s a lot for kids to raise.

The thing she doesn’t understand though, and never understood about real Alaskans, is it’s about community. The same businesses, the ATV shop that was kicking us out, donated snow machines and four wheelers to help raise this money. All the businesses were donating items to raffle off. The money was raised, and I think within the first month or two they had $70,000. When they went back to Sarah Palin she told the kids it wasn’t in the budget anymore.

Motherfucker.

I was a really shy kid growing up, and I remember watching these punk kids, like missing teeth – we all had busted teeth – mohawks, like these dirty punk kids showing up at City Hall every chance they got. It took over a year to get the skate park built. During that time Palin built a second ice skating rink closer to her wealthier area, a $15 million ice rink, while these punk kids are trying to get $70,000 to build their park. That was our first experience with politics, and I think in that community, being punk kids, it felt perfectly like what Dead Kennedy’s and Minor Threat and bands like that were kicking back against.

Years later you’d see her come around and you’d be like yeah this is just who he is.

So the park got built?

Yeah it did and it is pretty hardcore. Pretty Alaskan.

Tell me about the rally yesterday. What was the scene there?

It was cool, man. Anytime Alaskans are coming together with a common cause I think it’s a great day. It is a conservative place. There are forward thinking people trying to bring new ideas, but… One of the things we’ve been talking about a lot the most is Dunleavy is trying to cut the education budget and Medicaid. This is another Alaskan who doesn’t understand Alaskans. Elders are so important to us. I don’t care what your parents believe, I want to support the people that got us here. That’s what we talk about. I want to teach my kid how to build a fire and live off the land and do all these things that are so Alaskan. But you’re going to take education out of it? How are we going to come up with new ideas?  The lightbulb is American, the internet, cars, these are American ideas. I think the second you start cutting education when you’re throwing around these wack slogans like Make America Great Again you’re completely missing the point.

I didn’t know too much about Dunleavy. He looks to be the typical Trumpist asshole. I had to make sure he wasn’t the guy that played in the NBA.

Well he’s a big dude! His thing is he’s Trump Jr. It’s stressful being back home even thinking about all this stuff going on. Part of the thing he’s trying to get rid of is the silver hand stamp on indigenous art. It’s how you authenticate a piece of art made by an indigenous person. This is the only source of income for some of these communities.

Why would he do that, just out of cruelty?

I think it’s just spite and pettiness. Again there’s this weird side of Alaska I’ve never understood, the Palins and Dunleavys and that crew just kind of fits in that pack. Lisa Murkowski is kind of an oddball in that she kind of stands on the side of Alaskans. She’s not great, but is a little more thoughtful in what she does.

I’ve noticed indigenous causes are important to you did you grow up around a lot of those communities up there?

Well my family were dog mushers. Both of my parents ran the Iditarod together. I think they were the second couple to ever do it. So we grew up with Joe Reddington and Herbie Nayokpuk, the founders of the Iditarod. We grew up with Herbie Nayokpuk as a hero. Racism is such a strange thing to me, especially leaving Alaska. You ride the bus with people who believe different things, different ethnicities. I think it’s so important that everybody do that at some point.  

I saw that you wore a garment that a local artist made at the show yesterday?

Amber Webb, an artist, makes these kuspuks, a traditional Anarak style jacket, where she puts portraits of missing and murdered indigenous women on them. It’s our way of keeping it in the spotlight and keeping their memories going. It’s so easy to get lost in the shuffle. Violence against women in indigenous communities… I remember growing up around that. Another person gone. They disappeared. And a lot of times they would just disappear.

I don’t know what the solution is. It’s one thing to wear it and talk about it. It’s another to actually try and change what’s happening. I think just putting it out there does a lot for it, but I don’t know in the smaller communities in rural Alaska out in the bush… it’s kind of a difficult one.

I notice you’re really political engaged, which is why I wanted to talk to you. There used to be this thing, and you still hear it from the worst people alive, like stick to sports or stick to music. Are most of your fans receptive to this stuff or do you get pushback?

We’ve always had a really diverse audience. I don’t know why that is. We kind of get stuck with the fringe groups of every group of people. I think people have always been really receptive to it. It’s cool to have that. We do get the stick to music quite a bit though. I think to really break it down for people, you know this, musicians travel more and experience more cultures than politicians. We travel more than any politician, and we experience these different groups. We’re not the type of band that sits on a bus or a green room either, we like to go out and meet people.

Honestly I don’t really care about a lot of politics and all the stuff that goes into it. I care more about people. That’s why we do the indigenous stuff. I saw the racism happening and I saw anger and frustration in these kids that have this beautiful culture, and respect their elders, and this really great oral history that we get to hear about when we sit in. It’s such a cool thing, and never really understanding that, while seeing the pain, has been really difficult. You see it everywhere you go in the world.

Where else have you seen this sort of thing?

We got asked to play in the Dominican Republic and it’s like this great thing Oh cool we get to spend a few days there and play a show this is going to be a great family vacation! You show up there and you see Hard Rock Café and Marriott, Sheraton, all beachfront property. And as you put these things together you realize we just took away any chance for people to fish there. They can’t fish their own water or sit on their own beaches. You see it in South Africa, you go there and it’s only people of color working any sort of labor position. I remember landing there for the first time. Our drummer actually missed his flight, there was some new rule that you had to have more than two empty pages of your passport, and we didn’t know, so he had to stay back. I was tweeting at people and I found a band that had a drummer that would sit in for our set. That’s a very Portugal. the Man thing. We’re dipshits. We’re like we’ll show up and see what happens.

We connected with this group and they brought a couple drummers. So we went to their house and when we show up it’s a gated community. We go in and it’s a really beautiful house and it has this huge guest house. Just the guest house is bigger than most houses my friends have, a pool, everything. I hear this electrical buzzing, and there’s an electric fence around the property. I’m thinking Oh we’re in Africa it must be for lions. No, it’s not. It’s to keep people out. And it’s not other white people.

You go out on safari and you’re on this 44,000 hectares of land. What color is the family that owns the land in Africa? 

That’s why I think travel is so important. You don’t even have to try when you end up in those situations. If you’re aware of what’s happening at all you’ll see it. It makes me feel bad any time we do anything fun in the world. Any time we’re looking forward to like that safari or that beach, you show up there and look around and see the locals cleaning up the buffet and there’s all this uneaten food. How depressing must it be to shovel platefuls of food into the trash? Watching people throw money around, throw food away?

You definitely sound like your cousin now! [NOTE: John’s cousin Aaron Perrino is my good friend and aside from being in my band no hope / no harm also is in one of my favorite bands of all time called The Sheila Divine. He’s pretty miserable all the time too lol sorry buddy]

Aaron’s very much got the I’m in a nice place but I’m still bummed out about everything here vibe.

He’s always been like that too which is so funny. It’s taken me a long time to really understand, but Aaron has always been that cynical dude in the corner pointing out the flaws. That’s what I’ve always loved about him. It cracks me up.

Well he always talks very highly of you and how proud of you he is, but how great is he by the way, as a songwriter and singer?

Oh he’s amazing. Hearing him sing… he’s the reason I started playing music ultimately. I think I was in eighth grade when his first record came out. He sent it up to us. I remember getting that CD and thinking… Aaron’s on a label? A family member did this? Somebody I know? This is as I’m piecing together watching friends cover other people’s music and thinking Oh if you can play it why can’t you write it? Aaron was the first one to show me that yeah, you can write it.

He’s one of those people that I admire so much in the sense that he writes so many songs. Songwriting is just who he is, and it’s something that — I grew up really shy, and putting myself out there was really difficult. It makes me overthink so much of the music I make, and seeing him just do it nonstop with like four different bands.

Speaking of other bands, it’s funny, I was thinking, Ah, I’m gonna interview the guy from Portugal. the Man but I was really thinking it’s really the guy from Anatomy of a Ghost.

Yeah!

I’m a big emo and screamo guy so I remember your old band. I was thinking Portugal has gotten to do a lot of cool shit but I was looking back and I saw you toured with Saosin back in the day? Now that is cool to me, never mind touring South Africa.

Oh right haha. That is quite the crew. It’s so funny the way all of that happened. There were so many bands you could run into back then that fell into that scene because of the crossing over of influences. That’s one thing I thought was great about emo. My first concert was Pantera. I was like, I want to play metal. Dewey grew up playing pop punk. Joe liked classic rock. Just the way those bands came together, I thought it was such a straight up democracy. Everybody has their piece they put in there and it created this really fun time.

I don’t know how we ended up doing anything as Alaskans. I have no real perception of what it’s like to send out demos and hope to get signed to a label and all that. When I came down to Portland I wasn’t in that band when they started. I had come down to visit my buddies Zack and Joe who played in that band. There was no screaming on that stuff I think it. They told me they learned a couple of my songs I had been writing.

They played a show when I was down there and I sang with them and I only did it because it was the opposite of what I ever would have done in my life. I was super shy, I did not want to be on stage whatsoever, but I had just gone through this breakup and I was like I’m going to do the last thing I would ever do. So I got on stage and sang with them. We ended up playing like five shows before Rise Records signed the band.

Wait so you’re telling me a guy joined an emo band after a breakup? Come on.

It is so perfect!

You wanted to say more about the indigenous causes though…

It was growing up around it and traveling so much for me. I remember one of our first photo shoots, they had headdresses. They showed up and were like You’re going to be Indians. I remember talking about it with our manager thinking this is really weird. We just ended up following through with it. Looking back on it, I think it was a year or two later, I think it was something with Wayne Coyne and Flaming Lips. Do you remember when there was something like a white girl was at his show dancing in a headdress and she got called out? Wayne gets in the middle of it and says it’s cool if she wears it, and starts dancing and doing the tomahawk dance with this girl? The guy was really upset.

Sounds familiar. I remember some headdress controversy they had.

Seeing that was important and for me — and this is a thing that’s missing with a lot of people — realizing this was painful for that person. I recognized that pain from growing up in Alaska and seeing that pain with native Alaskans and people making fun of them and where they come from. I remember seeing a lot of Alaskans not want to learn Yubik or represent their culture, wanting to be anything other than native Alaskans. It was something that I never really fully understood. Seeing that with the Flaming Lips sort of brought it all together for me. I hate throwing them under the bus, but it was really a shitty thing. Wayne should have recognized that, like, hey this is painful. It does not mean go harder.

If someone tells me something hurts their feelings, then I just don’t do it. Who cares?

That seems to be the opposite of what so much on the right is now. Oh they’re telling us not to do this? Fuck you, we’re doing it to own the libs now.

Right. After that I started to take note of the fact we grew up around this really rich culture, and I started to think about how we became a state in 1959. Colonialism and imperialism and all this shit is still kind of new in Alaska. When you go to Australia you’re like this is somewhat new….South Africa is the same thing with apartheid just twenty years before we got there. You see the effects of this stuff.

Going to Occupy Wall Street years ago, we would stop in on tour, and go into those tents and takj with whoever was leading the group. We’d talk to people about what are we doing here? Oh it’s climate, it’s money, it’s gender, it’s race, and all these different causes coming at us. It sucked because, I agree, I’m with you on all this stuff, but there wasn’t any focus. Without any focus we lose. …

There’s no one cause, no direction. I saw a lot of trash, like a lot of what you saw at Standing Rock, there was trash everywhere. It was a fucking mess. We’re supposed to be on the same team. You’re really going to come over there and trample everything into the mud and leave trash everywhere? There’s a lot of fake shit happening and its upsetting we can’t find focus.

And indigenous causes bring it into focus?

I think with indigenous people, I really feel like you have this cause… I saw hunters who understood. I have this crossover idea. I feel like you could get some farmers on board with it, you could get hunters, libertarians. We can all look at indigenous people and realize how badly they’ve been fucked. We can also look at what they’ve given us.

You’re saying indigenous causes are a way for all these overlapping issues to come together that nearly everybody would get behind if they actually looked into it?

Think about what falls under the umbrella of indigenous causes: Race 100 percent. Environmental issues. The effects of capitalism and imperialism. All of this falls under the umbrella and has crossover. I think that’s a lot of what we’re missing right now, like: same team. There’s a lot of fuck you but we have to find crossover issues and look at where we’re the same.

It’s like living in a still life painting; that’s not living, it is existing

Having been denied the opportunity to use carrots they began to use sticks

“So little ‘moves’ here” the man wrote. He’d been held in solitary confinement for twenty three years and three days at the time and he was asking for a photograph that represented motion. Motion of any kind would do.

“It’s like living in a still life painting; that’s not living, it is existing; being ‘in place,’” he wrote in blue ink in a neat cursive hand that lurched to the right as if it were reaching forward toward something.

“I’d like to see things moving,” he went on. “Perhaps traffic at night, lights shining and the trails from lights whizzing past. Or water flowing from a stream, waterfall, etc… Or snow while it is falling. Anything in motion!”

Another man had a request of his own: a “photo collage with pyramids from all over the world including, but not limited to, the Mayan, Egyptian, Sumerian, Babylonian Pyramid with the Center of the photograph being the all seeing eye in the center with the phrase ‘To Dream is to be Free’ underneath it.”

And a woman: “I am abolitionist. I would like to have a photo that shows the crumbling of a prison with people of all races surrounding this prison celebrating the abolishment of prison. In the background the faces of revolutionaries such as MLK, George Jackson, Malcolm X and more should be seen, as a tribute to these fallen comrades.”

“All races, classes and groups need to be included in the photo. Make sure Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are included in the depictions.”

You know the other two of course but Jackson was an author who was imprisoned himself and a founder of the Maoist-Marxist Black Guerrilla Family. Johnson and Rivera were gay liberation activists and the founders of the group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.

The messages come from a project called Photo Requests from Solitary a partnership with Solitary Watch which helps men and women being held in long-term solitary confinement throughout the U.S. request a photograph “of anything at all, real or imagined,” then tries to find volunteers to produce that image for them.

“The astonishing range of requests, taken together, provide an archive of the hopes, memories, and interests of people who live in extreme isolation,” the group explains.

I wrote about the torture practice known as solitary confinement in a paid-only post on here a while ago which you can read here with a subscription but in short the nut of it goes like this:

For most of the past century some version of solitary confinement has been used throughout the country but more sparingly than it is now, a day here or there, the American Psychological Association says. That’s changed in recent decades. Prisoners might spend years at a time in the hole isolated for twenty three hours a day. Some have spent decades inside. Yale Law School’s Liman Program and the Association of State Correctional Administrators released a study in 2015 that said there were at least 100,000 people being held in “administrative segregation” at the time which is what they call the hole in the biz…

But that number may have been a little high it’s really hard to say because as Solitary Watch points out there are so many prisons under so many jurisdictions throughout the country and so little oversight over how this sort of information is gathered that it can be hard to say what’s real or not.

Understanding what’s real or not is even more difficult when you’re being tortured by the state on our behalf in order to keep the rest of us safe or whatever it is they say to justify it.

PRFS estimate that there are at least 80,000 people in solitary today and point to the findings of experts like Dr. Craig Haney a psychiatrist who studies the effects of prolonged isolation to describe the psychological and emotional toll it can take on a person.

Here’s something Haney said in an interview with PBS a few years ago:

In my opinion, the reason solitary confinement began to be used in the ’80s and ’90s has to do with the rapid expansion of the prison system in the United States. … You had terribly overcrowded conditions and prisons that looked like they were about to become out of control.

You also had a change in correctional philosophy that occurred in the United States in the 1970s. Prison systems up until that point had existed, at least in theory, to provide rehabilitative services to prisoners, the idea being that they would get out of prison, or at least have an opportunity to get out of prison in better shape than they went in.

We abandoned that commitment in the mid-1970s, and we embraced and set a prison-for-punishment rationale. Among other things, what that meant is that prison systems had fewer and fewer incentives to offer prisoners. There were fewer programs; there were fewer ways of shaping prisoner behavior by offering them positive things to do.

And so, having been denied the opportunity to use carrots, they began to use sticks. They began to punish prisoners in order to control them, and one of the tried-and-true, old-time ways of punishing prisoners is to put them in the hole. …

The third component to this is that there were increasing numbers of mentally ill prisoners coming into the prison system. Their behavior was harder to understand; it was harder to control. Prison systems didn’t have the resources to properly deal with them, and so solitary confinement increasingly became a repository for mentally ill prisoners who the prison system believed it couldn’t control any other way.

Along with the photograph initiative PRFS also tours exhibitions of the requests and photos as part of an effort to address the epidemic of solitary confinement like an ongoing exhibition at the notorious but now defunct Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia — the birthplace of solitary confinement! and a recently finished exhibition at the Brooklyn Public Library.

“PRFS offers a new way for people to think about solitary confinement and the people who endure it,” the group explains. Viewers are able to see not what incarcerated people see, but what they envision—the vivid and varied images that all minds produce, independently of senses and circumstances. Capturing these images as photographs, which can then be sent back to the people who conceived them, completes an artistic collaboration that acknowledges the shared creativity and humanity of individuals on both sides of the prison walls.”

If you’d like to learn more about how to participate go here or if you’d simply like to donate like I just did you can do so here.

I randomly saw this tweeted into my timeline just now and it seemed appropriate to share giving the subject matter.

You will no doubt be well aware by now of the increasingly dire and horrific conditions migrants are being held in in concentration camps along the border. Here’s this from the NYT this past week:

Overcrowded, squalid conditions are more widespread at migrant centers along the southern border than initially revealed, the Department of Homeland Security’s independent watchdog said Tuesday. Its report describes standing-room-only cells, children without showers and hot meals, and detainees clamoring desperately for release.

The findings by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General were released as House Democrats detailed their own findings at migrant holding centers and pressed the agency to answer for the mistreatment not only of migrants but also of their own colleagues, who have been threatened on social media.

In June, inspectors from the department visited five facilities in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and found children had few spare clothes and no laundry facilities. Many migrants were given only wet wipes to clean themselves and bologna sandwiches to eat, causing constipation and other health problems, according to the report. Children at two of the five facilities in the area were not given hot meals until inspectors arrived.

Overcrowding was so severe that when the agency’s internal inspectors visited some of the facilities, migrants banged on cells and pressed notes to windows begging for help.

“At one facility, some single adults were held in standing-room-only conditions for a week, and at another, some single adults were held more than a month in overcrowded cells,” according to the report, which built off an initial inquiry by the inspector general in May that described similar conditions in facilities in El Paso.

One of the few lawmakers reacting to the conditions in the camps with the appropriate level of outrage and fury is Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez which has made her the preferred target of the right and of the CBP and ICE agents themselves as both the Intercept and ProPublica have reported recently.

“Members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, according to screenshots of their postings,” ProPublica reported.

Ocasio-Cortez rightfully likened the “detention centers” to concentration camps a comparison which many on the right found beyond the pale like daughter of torture apologist and architect of a million dead Muslims Liz Cheney.

“Allegations that somehow the United States is operating in a way that is in any way a parallel to the Holocaust is just completely ludicrous,” Cheney said.

“Although Ocasio-Cortez did not mention the Holocaust, the association between the Shoah and concentration camps is strong, and attacking an opponent for hyperbole is easier than defending the torture of children—not that Cheney is at all opposed to torture,” Adam Serwer wrote in the Atlantic.

And then he wrote this which is crucial to understanding the state of modern discourse on this and all other issues.

The reaction to Ocasio-Cortez is unsurprising. Whatever the merits of her criticism, when those in power are caught abusing that power in ways that are morally indefensible and politically unpopular, they will always seek to turn an argument about oppression into a dispute about manners. The conversation then shifts from the responsibility of the state for the human lives it is destroying to whether those who object to that destruction have exhibited proper etiquette. If congressional Republicans—or, for that matter, their constituents—had expressed a fraction as much outrage over the treatment of migrant children in American detention facilities as they did in response to Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks, she would never have had cause to make them in the first place.

This variety of tut-tutting is irresistible to many ostensibly objective journalists, who by convention are barred from expressing opinions on policy but are welcome to lecture on tone, and take nearly every opportunity to remind the rabble of their obligation to be polite to their rulers. But to express outrage at the criticism of nefarious conduct while treating that conduct as a typical political conflict in which there are two equally valid positions is to take a side.

Not to bring my whole thing up again but this precisely describes what happened to me when I suggested the operators of the baby jails should be fucked with somewhat when they go out to dinner. The debate instantly shifted to the propriety of saying such a thing which takes the focus off the actual evil being perpetrated and gives the people who would rather not address it in the first place something else to talk about. And then the fair-minded media referees get to present the whole ordeal as some say while others say

Long story short I am the true and only victim here.

This is the entire purpose of this newsletter: Rejecting the idea that the Democrats and the major media, and the NYT in particular, are holding onto, even at this late stage of our collective decline, that being a moderate centrist is somehow a neutral pov and not itself a radical political ideology.

And then Ocasio-Cortez and the handful of other actually progressive lawmakers get treated like this by Nancy Fucking Pelosi.

FUCKING DOG SHIT.

I always misspell Ocasio-Cortex shit I just did it. I always spell it as Ocasio-Cortex and that is sort of appropriate because that is what scientists need to start calling an entire hemisphere of the Republican brain. They can’t stop thinking about her.

Ah fuck I just clicked on the link to the YouTube video they send out when you donate to Solitary Watch and looks like it finally happened I am finally being served a frothy bowl of shit from the algorithm tap of Hell.

I wrote about YouTube comments being one of the last pure places on the internet a while back and here is part of what I said:

People talk lately about how whatever it is they start watching on YouTube the recommended videos always end up bringing them to some corrosive white nationalist horse shit like Jordan Peterson or Ben Shapiro videos or videos where Sound of Music looking ass teens play video games like I.Q. Genius where the goal is to measure as many scalps with a caliper as you can before the time runs out but that doesn’t happen to me for some reason. YouTube knows my Brain Force is too resistant and cannot be overpowered is probably what it is. In any case the gremlins that pull the steampunk levers in my own personal YouTube algorithm seem to have decided of late that no matter what video I begin watching I then want to hear a song from Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins next and they are correct about that.

Just now I got this:

I’m not sure why it thinks someone who watched a video about prison reform wants to watch Louis CK’s most savage moments next or see Jordan Peterson destroy an entire panel on transgender… something I’m not clicking on it to see the full title but that’s just how it works and there is no changing it no matter how many times it’s written about or how often people complain about it which is constantly.

At least they’re still offering up the Smashing Pumpkins content I crave. Man that’s a good song isn’t it?

Fool enough to almost be it
Cool enough to not quite see it
Old enough to always feel this
Always old, I'll always feel this

We were in New Hampshire for the 4th at a lake house Michelle’s aunt and uncle have up there but don’t get too agitated about that fact it’s not the rich asshole type of lake or the rich asshole type of house they are mechanics who own a garage in Brockton, MA which I wrote about in the most recent paid-only Hell World piece. It’s a very nice place though and I love to go there and get in the lake and they take good care of us.

Something the previous generation could do is work a blue collar job and rise in the ranks until they owned the business then they got to purchase a pretty nice place by a pretty nice lake in the middle of nowhere important New Hampshire but I don’t think that sort of thing is in the cards for you and me anymore buddy.

The point is I was bobbing around in the lake with my brother in law and he told me something a young boy he knows told him one time which is that he saw something on YouTube about how Russia had sent a bunch of pedophiles to jail in a space prison and then accidentally sent a child to the same space prison and were like ah no we fucked up. He tried to tell him it was fake but the boy was like but I saw it on YouTube.

Another thing that always happens on trips like the one I was just on is there will be tons of food everywhere like hamburgers and hot dogs and stuff around all day and I’ll go into a major panic about it like a dog waiting under the table who knows he’s not supposed to be there but can’t help himself. I’ll go and cut a little sliver off of a hot dog or something so I can have a taste but not commit to eating the whole thing and everyone will laugh at me for being weird about it whenever they catch me doing it. I want to say it’s only because I’m deathly afraid of getting fat and it’s literally the only thing I can think about every five minutes of my life and I just want to have a little taste so I can feel like I’m taking part in the holiday cookout but you can’t say that type of shit to people who don’t know you very well because they’ll think you’re some kind of psychopath. You can say it to thousands of strangers though apparently.

The past couple weeks I’ve been doing really badly when it comes to my obsessive body image issues because after about a year and a half of not lifting or running so I could try to heal my various injuries and then turning to drinking to calm my anxiety about it most nights I finally and fully became a disgusting hog and I think I should probably go ahead and kill myself because I’m so fucking fat but I’m not going to do that don’t call the ambulance or anything. I brought it up with my therapist the other day and she said well I don’t remember what she said because I go into a sort of fugue state whenever I’m in therapy like you do when you’re talking to your doctor and you don’t remember any of the important shit they tell you five seconds after you walk out of the room. Sometimes when people go to the doctor for serious shit they bring a family member who can listen and ask questions more thoroughly because they’re not having an existential fucking crisis about their own specific mortality at that current moment but you can’t do that when it comes to therapy because you probably wouldn’t be honest if someone else was listening.

Here’s something else I just saw which reminded me of a favorite hobby of mine which is collecting the absolute shittiest lede sentences on news stories.

Jesus that is bad. Ok I will now share some of the worst ledes I’ve ever seen please enjoy them because this shit has been getting a little heavy today.

I believe I am on the record as saying the only good genre of music is hardcore bands who are obviously and evidently Smiths fans but this piece I just read reminded me of the only other good genre which is hardcore bands who become shoegaze bands. Every band on this list from Nothing to Title Fight are the best bands I can think of but here are two I particularly like.

Here are the lyrics to that one:

Heavenly, be heavenly
Have the patience to wait with me
Slow down and see the green
There's much more here to see than you think
Pushing away the ways we are faithful
I could leave it all behind
He's a swarm
When I hear you, I can't see you
Not how I want to
It's a chore to be the ground for you
He's a swarm and I am unforgiving

I am unforgiving. That line sticks with me. I think as someone who is infuriated by the carceral state in America I am not supposed to desire vengeance for my own version of the bad guys but it’s hard to push those thoughts away sometimes when you think about the people responsible for the torture we do to those in prison and in the concentration camps. You’d like to think something would happen to them but it makes you uglier and uglier the more you think it until one day you’re the jailer and you’ve got the key in your hand and you slam the gate and go home after a hard day on the job and forget about what you did all day. How was your day your spouse will ask and you’ll say it was fine.

Here’s another request from Photo Requests from Solitary project I really like:

“I’d like to see a picture depicting both police and elected officials being arrested by regular citizens, while walking in shame, through crowds of unified people of all ethnic groups, genders and ages,” it reads.

“Under or above the picture it should say in cursive letters ‘True Justice is that which no one is exempt especially not those who are is position to cause the most damage to the country and we the people.’”

If you ever took a deep breath you would choke

Most of the dirt was shipped out on two trains

Please consider purchasing a subscription to make sure you don’t miss any editions of Hell World and also because I lost all my money at the casino and I’m ruined just kidding (?)

Frank Dascoli remembers one of the acid leaks from the plants in Everett in 1958. People were awoken from sleep and gasping for air he told the Boston Globe a couple years ago. Visibility was so bad anyone driving on the roads had to pull over so they wouldn’t crash like you would in a snowstorm or particularly dense fog but in this case it was a storm of sulfurous poison air. Sounds like a nightmare but it wasn’t particularly remarkable he said because that sort of thing happened where he grew up all the time back then. It’s also not that hard to imagine something like it happening everywhere all the time at some point down the line when the world ends.

“It was a filthy hole back then,” he said of Everett the city directly north of Boston. For about 150 years one piece of the city along the Mystic River was home to a series of chemical plants from New England Chemical to Cochrane Chemical Company to Merrimac Chemical Company and then the famous bad guys who we all know about called Monsanto from 1929 until the 1980s.

From the Globe:

Monsanto took over the site in 1929, becoming one of the Everett’s largest employers, and the source of considerable chaos. Its smoke-belching plants were prone to fires, explosions, and acid leaks that injured workers and alarmed thousands of people.

The company’s operations in Everett peaked before the environmental movement gathered momentum. There were few controls on pollution or awareness of the public health implications of contaminated air and water.

Even as Monsanto spewed chemicals into the community, and the Mystic River, the company’s payroll sustained thousands of families in the region. Industrial growth of any kind was good, it meant jobs and prosperity. Few questioned that calculus, even when noxious odors filled the morning air.

Sometimes I think about how weird it is that the unofficial song of Boston is the one about loving all the polluted water. Lol the water is bad we sing at the baseball game. It’s a folksy little peculiarity of our humble city this pollution. Not sure how they pulled that one off but we all fell for it.

They say the water around here is not as bad as it used to be and that’s nice. When I can run I run along the Charles River on this pretty little stretch between Watertown and Allston with these giant and elegantly draping trees lining the path and it all looks so pretty. Lately I run down to the docks where all the Harvard crew people are setting off on their boats and it is very picturesque but the thing is it fucking smells so bad it’s almost not worth the view.

You may have heard of the filthy Mystic River from the movie they made with Sean Penn a while back although I don’t remember what it was about. Working class guys with hearts of gold who get in over their heads most likely.

The thing about making one of these Boston movies or shows like the City on the Hill the new one they have out now is that it doesn’t matter who the lead guy is so much the important thing is to get the put-upon long suffering wife character just right and if you do that then it seems authentic. People think Boston is about the main tough guys doing the bad shit but it’s really more of a wife town.

I always sort of thought Van Morrison’s song Into the Mystic might have been about the Mystic River because he spent some time in Boston while writing Astral Weeks. My buddy Ryan wrote a book about it which you should read. Man that’s a good song though remember that one? We were born before the wind, also younger than the sun. Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic.

My dad used to tell me about seeing Van the Man which is what he always called him when he play in Harvard Square in the late sixties and I thought that was a pretty cool thing for him to have done. You like to think about your parents having done cool shit when they still could.

But anyway I guess the song is not about that particular river.

One time we went to a wedding in Connecticut near the town of Mystic which they made a whole different movie about with Julia Roberts called Mystic Pizza. I didn’t remember if we had gone to get pizza at the famous place there so I asked Michelle just now if we did and she said we did not.

Why not I asked. Because I was worried about being fat?

Yes she said.

What do you think about that now I asked.

I don’t like it she said. People need to be able to let themselves have pizza sometime she said and she’s right about that but it’s not gonna be me.

Everyone says the best pizza in Boston is at a really old timey place called Santarpio’s which has been open in East Boston since 1903 not too far from Everett but I can’t say one way or another because I’ve never tried it on account of being too fat to deserve any pizza.

“There were big sulfur piles that would blow everywhere,” Dascoli said of Everett and this was up until not even that long ago. I was alive when this was still going on. “If you ever took a deep breath, you would choke.”

Way back in the 1800s this particular stretch of Everett waterfront we are talking about was owned by Hawes Atwood who opened the Union Oyster House which is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the country. You could go there right now and eat oysters if you wanted to although they wouldn’t be from the Mystic anymore on account of the century plus of pollution. I haven’t tried the oysters there either not because oysters are fattening but because if I wanted to eat cold briny ocean jizz I would suck off a whale.

“The fumes always started up right after supper,” another long time resident named Mary Bagarella told the Globe about the plants in Everett.

“White steam would shoot up out of the chimney and all of our eyes would start to tear up,” she said.

And now there’s a $2.5 billion casino there called Encore! Las Vegas style glamour on the Mystic they say. There’s a commercial on all the time here where they play a Frank Sinatra song because he’s somehow still synonymous with casinos. They tried making some casinos where the thing is EDM and I’m not sure which culture is worse to be honest.

Before the billionaire casino mogul and accused rapist Steve Wynn and his company could bring the glitz of Vegas to Boston they had to do a lot of cleaning up of two different kinds. Wynn was the finance chair of the Republican National Committee up until a couple years ago when he was accused of dozens of instances of sexual assault and impropriety and then they took his name off the casino before it opened and he stepped down as CEO of the company. His company was fined $35 million dollars by Massachusetts because Wynn Resorts had failed to disclose a $7.5 million settlement he gave to a woman who claimed he had forced her to have sex with him.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission found that the company had worked to cover up allegations against Wynn and that “the company fostered a culture of secrecy in which victims of sexual misconduct and harassment became afraid to pursue complaints or believed doing so to be pointless,” according to CNN.

There are different types of pollution is the point.

All the while this saga was playing out workers on the site of the casino were busy trying to carry all the poisoned earth away.

“An estimated 500,000 tons of dirt containing PCBs, arsenic, lead, ash, petroleum products, and asbestos were carted off to special landfills in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Quebec, Michigan, Ohio, and Georgia,” CommonWealth Magazine reported. “Most of the dirt was shipped out on two trains, each with 28 cars, that pulled into the property on a daily basis. About 100 trucks also did pickups every day.”

If you drive to the Encore Boston Casino which is really in Everett you will have a lot of time to take in the surroundings along the way on account of the horrific traffic. There’s the defunct Whittemore-Wright Co. Inc tanning oils textile building with the lettering faded into the side of the brick building like oils faded into the soil I was going to say but turns out that place is still in business and has been for over one hundred years so good for them. Across the street there’s a baseball field where kids play next to the Mystic Generating Station a power station that mostly burns natural gas a lot of which comes from Yemen the country where our war planes are being used by Saudi Arabia to bomb civilians to death. I was going to assume that the plant there isn’t polluting like they used to around here but I just read a report from a group called Toxics Action Center who named it as one of the most significant polluters in the state. It’s owned by the energy giant Exelon who do about $36 billion in revenue a year which is a lot even more than a casino could do. Wynn Resorts by comparison only does around $5 billion a year.

A little further up the road you’ll pass Minichiello Bros. We buy scrap metal the sign on the side of the buildings says. Cash for Gold. I don’t know what they do in terms of revenue a year but I looked at their website and it says Metal Yard, Scrap Yard, Junk Yard, Recycling Center, Wrecking Yard, Iron Yard, Bone Yard…Call Us what you want, JUST MAKE SURE YOU CALL US!

Right across the street from the bone yard there it is the brand new casino where inside you might find this hunk of metal shit if you go wandering around.

Steve Wynn the famous casino rapist bought that piece by Jeff Koons for $28 million a couple of years ago.

“Our guests find themselves in an environment that makes them feel their best selves,” Roger Thomas the guy who buys the art for Wynn properties said. “Hopefully, we help you feel funnier, more romantic, even more considerate. When you leave, you realize you’ve had a completely different experience that if you want again, you’ll simply have to return.”

“The person looking at them is actually reflected in the art. I think the person looking at the art becomes a piece of the art while they’re involved at the art,” he said of the Popeye. “I think that’s a wonderful, very contemporary late 20th century notion.”

I tried too see myself in the statue when I saw it and it didn’t work. I saw this though in another reflective surface. It’s called man goes to the casino to get fun and performatively depressed but ends up just getting normal and quiet depressed.

I may have mentioned once or twice on here that I tend to be susceptible to addictive impulses and one of the ones I used to have inside of me pretty good was the gambling brain. Where I went to college wasn’t too long a drive to Foxwoods so we’d often go down a group of us and spend whatever money we could scrape together playing blackjack and ideally stretch it out into a whole night if we could. We had a rich friend who we used to bully into lending us money so we could go sometimes and I feel bad about that looking back on it but now he’s a really wealthy plastic surgeon and I’m whatever this is so maybe he had it coming.

All of those trips to Foxwoods have sort of blurred together in my mind but one that stands out is a time when we were at the blackjack table and a miserable man seated next to me reprimanded me for making the wrong play. This is what you’re supposed to do every time without fail he said and I said some shit to him like Hmm yes but a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds… and we all thought it was this big How do you like them apples? moment but to be honest that dude should have dragged my nerdy ass outside and pummeled me into the dirt until I disappeared.

It was Emerson who said that shit in his essay Self-Reliance and I haven’t read it in like twenty years so I’m not going to pretend to remember it.

You can see the power plant from one of the balconies overlooking the fake grass along the river at Encore if you want and even if you don’t want because it’s sort of hard to miss. Something about the lone little windmill spinning there against the backdrop of the plant is very sad to me. Someone should write a book about windmills and futility.

Long story short I used to gamble a lot and at one point about eight years ago or so I had a website I would go to to bet on football games and then I found myself betting in the middle of a random day on like a Cardinals vs Diamondbacks baseball game I wasn’t even watching and I said I gotta cut this shit out and I did. Emerson would probably be proud of me for that. All the other shit I got going on not so much but there’s that.

I was still sort of surprised at how little being inside the casino was making my brain maggots wriggle yesterday though. That was partly because most of the table games had a $50 minimum which is insanely high. I eventually found a $25 blackjack table and sat down for about twenty minutes but I just couldn’t feel anything about it it was like trying to jack serotonin out of a soft dick and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get anything to come out so I stopped.

There are two types of anxiety when it comes to drug addicts there is the anxiety of waiting for the drugs to arrive and there is the anxiety of realizing that the drugs are about to run out. Sometimes in between there is the high of being on the drugs but that is fleeting. Anyway that’s what people inside a casino look like. They’re waiting for something to come and watching it run out.

I don’t have anything particularly novel or revelatory to say about this place it’s just a casino buddy and it’s got all the shit that casinos have.

There are all these big lobster-red chandeliers hanging over the gaming floor I noticed and I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was inside of a claw grab game at the arcade waiting to be plucked out. I was a shitty stuffed animal that some goober like God or the Devil or whoever you want it to be was aiming the thing at and it kept reaching down just almost catching me like ah fuck fuck almost so they had to keep trying again and again until eventually it worked and I get pulled out and I’m gone.

As they were digging down into the earth on the site of the casino before construction to see how fucked they were vis a vis poisoned earth they uncovered all sorts of secrets like evidence of old facilities and plants that had simply been bulldozed over and buried in order to build new ones on top of sometimes with the chemicals they produced not even disposed of in any way. They just let the poison sink into the earth.

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