If you are poor, baby, practical ain't working for you.
The division has already been set
|Luke O'Neil||Feb 11|| 18||8|
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There’s a lot of people here I thought. It was April of 2001 at an art gallery that hasn’t existed in almost twenty years in Somerville Massachusetts and we had packed in to see a band called The Strokes that people were talking about because that’s what we did at the time people would talk about a band and then you’d go see them and then you’d go home and do whatever it was we did before we knew what phones and 9/11 were. I don’t remember the show it was one of those shows that’s more bodies and movement and heat than sound and music in your mind and then afterwards we all piled out into the parking lot for a bonfire which seems insane to me that you could actually do that in the now too expensive city of Somerville. That version of Somerville hasn’t existed in almost twenty years. I remember Julian Casablancas looking for a cigarette and a place to stay and I gave him one of the two things he asked for and then we all roasted hot dogs over the fire and I thought fuck it I’m going to dedicate my life to being a Band Guy and a shithead hedonist and then I did that and in a way you could say The Strokes ruined my life so fuck you to The Strokes.
I thought to myself that night though that something had changed.
A nice reader named Rich read a poem by Laura Gilpin I shared in here a while ago and since the book is really hard to find and I don’t think you can purchase it he went to a library in New York City and found an out of print 1977 copy of the book which is the year I was born and he took some pictures of some of the poems.
There’s a lot of people here I thought. It was whatever today’s date is minus one at UNH in Dover New Hampshire and the line we had to stand in to get inside was longer than any line I’ve ever stood in in my life. Fuck this let’s leave I said and Michelle said no let’s stay and I am glad we did. Last time I said fuck this let’s leave and Michelle said no let’s stay the Patriots came back from down 28-3 in the Super Bowl in Houston.
There were about 7,500 people there in the hockey arena last night and yes many were there to see The Strokes and while they technically closed out the night they were like third on the list of participants people were excited to see. The people were there for Bernie.
“We’ve got people talking about practicality,” Nina Turner said. She was electrifying. When I got home later that night I turned on the TV and there was an ad for Joe Biden on that talked about all the things he wants to do but then after each thing they’d say like “he has an achievable plan” for xyz with this real shit-eating emphasis on the word achievable.
“If you’re wealthy enough you can sit back and wax poetic about practical, but if you are poor, baby, practical ain’t working for you,” Turner said.
“You got somebody else talking about, oh, the senator is dividing folks,” she went on. “The division has already been set. And it’s a corrupt system in this country that hurts the working people.”
A couple months before that The Strokes show I saw them open for Doves at the Paradise in Boston and no one was really talking about them yet at that point due to a couple months is a long time in the beginning of a band’s life and I saw Albert Hammond Jr. at the bar after they played and I said hey man you guys were good keep at it and then they did. Did I give the band the confidence boost they needed to go on? Yes. I did.
Man Doves are so good.
“Who’s side are you on?” Turner asked and I’m quoting her at length because she was a jolt of energy for me and I’d never seen her speak before. “Are you on the side of the workaday people of this nation? Either you are on their side or you are not. Either you take a position that Medicare For All is a human right in this country or you do not. Either you believe that women deserve their whole damn dollar or you do not. Either you're willing to stare down a legal system that sees black men and black women as somehow more criminal than anyone else, and other people of color, and poor people, or you’re not. We need a champion that says they are going to go to war with white supremacy.”
Elsewhere in New Hampshire Trump was complaining about Nancy Pelosi mumbling behind him at the State of the Union. “Lock her up!” the crowd chanted. Then Trump floated a nonsensical lie about people being bussed in from Massachusetts in 2016 to vote in New Hampshire which is why he lost the state I guess.
For Trump and his supporters no matter what happens to them it is always someone else’s fault. For Bernie and his supporters when something bad happens we’re going to fix it together.
“A woman that not too many people know, very powerful, very smart, very beautiful, even though I’m not allowed to say that because she’s my daughter, Ivanka,” Trump said and then Don Jr. got a kiss from daddy about a speech he had made earlier and the crowd chanted 46! meaning they want him as the next president.
In order to beat Trump we don’t need “half measure, middle of the way people,” Turner said. “We need someone that’s going to go HAM on this system.”
“Is it practical when people are dying because they can't afford their prescription drugs? Is it practical to be willing to give the worst president in modern history more money for the military budget? Is it practical to sit back while 500,000 of our sisters and brothers sleep on the streets every night? Is it practical to make excuses? We are the wealthiest country on the face of the earth and we can afford Medicare For All, college for all, and to cancel student debt.”
Lol the Biden “achievable plan” commercial just came on as I was writing. “Unite the country” the man with the gravitas in his voice said.
Turner asked us all to raise one hand for ourselves so I did and we all did. Then raise another hand for someone else she said and she asked us to fight for someone we don’t know as hard as we would for ourselves.
Around the same time on MSNBC the famously progressive cable news channel Chuck Todd was comparing Bernie Sanders’ supporters to “brown shirts” and an “online mob” of bullies.
We’ve all experienced the wrath of the Bernie mob he said and that right there is the single most important issue for rich fucking idiots like Todd and the people who go on his show whose lives will not change no matter what happens.
“Let the word go forth here and now we're on our way to the White House, and we are going to remove our fellow citizen, a neo-fascist gangster from the White House,” Cornel West came out next and said and everyone cheered all seven plus thousand of us. “He’s got to go.”
Sorry this isn’t really related to anything but before the event I was walking around the arena and I came across these absolutely peak Mid-Century Guy names.
My dad went to UNH and played football there and I guess at one point he played against his brother who played for UMASS and I imagine that was a very big deal for them at the time. The last time I saw my uncle who I think sells fancy jewelry in the tri-state area (?) was at my cousin’s wedding a couple years ago and I hadn’t spoken to him in years and he asked me what I write about and I said politics and he said what are you a Trump guy and I said no but we probably shouldn’t talk about that if you want us to get along here and then we stood there by the beautiful boats docked in Newport Rhode Island and didn’t have much to talk about after that. Then later Michelle and I got in a real bad fight over something I can’t remember but seemed so crucial to fight about at the time and we left without touching our fish and chips.
I remember I wore this absolutely cursed tie and shirt pattern combo and my friends all roasted the shit out of me on Twitter over it.
“When you spill a pint of Bosstones down the front of your shirt,” they said. “This is what you wear to the funeral when your best friend dies noodling for catfish.” “Can’t decide until I know what color the bucket hat is.” “Didn't know ashlee simpson's band was auditioning bassists.”
Then Cynthia Nixon came on and she mentioned that she had supported Hillary in 2016 and some people booed and she said don’t do that and then they didn’t anymore. To be honest it was kind of a steep climb back up for her from there but she tried and I think it worked. The past couple years have opened her eyes she said. Bernie has opened her eyes she said.
“What Bernie has shown me and has shown us in the last four years is that, for too long, for as long as I can remember, we have been making do with crumbs,” she said. “And we’ve been told that the crumbs that we’re getting, unless we’re millionaires or billionaires or the heads of corporations, we’re told that those crumbs are a meal. Bernie has taught us to say ‘I’m done with these crumbs. I want the whole pie,” and at that point my stomach started to rumble a little bit because we got there at like 5 pm to wait in line and there was no food or water available inside the venue. Hm Bernie Sanders says he wants everyone to prosper and yet he doesn’t make the basics of human sustenance available at his events? Makes you think.
Audio emerged this week of sensible practical candidate and disgusting pig oligarch Mike Bloomberg speaking about his racist stop and frisk policy in Aspen in 2015.
“One of the unintended consequences is people say, ‘Oh my god, you are arresting kids for marijuana, they're all minorities.’ Yes, that's true, why? Because we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods. Yes, that's true. Why did we do it? Because that's where all the crime is. And the first thing you can do for people is to stop them getting killed.”
Later on in the night Bernie would say that we’re going to make marijuana legal in every state, expunge the records of people arrested for marijuana offenses, and on top of that ensure that the communities that make up a disproportionate percentage of our insane prison population — “More people than even China!” — would be given the opportunity to operate in the cannabis industry.
Speaking of New York City cops they are all very upset right now and threatening the mayor and declaring war on him and other very normal shit because he won’t let them do their jobs or something.
It reminded me of what I said in a recent Hell World which was that “an important condition of Hell World is for the enforcers of state violence to not only be able to harm citizens with almost unchecked abandon but to also always be framed as the real victims.”
Randomly I was in Aspen at the same time Bloomberg was although I don’t make a habit of going to Aspen due to I am poor and not rich. I was there writing stories for Vice like this one about an exoskeleton that simulates what it’s like to get old.
My journey into old age began with two Applied Mind engineers affixing a heart rate monitor, leg and arm motors, camera goggles, headphones, and other assorted technical hardware that would help me, in theory, understand the effects of long-term aging. The fact that the engineers setting me up in the suit worked on special effects for a lengthy catalog of films like Jurassic Park 3, Transformers, and Kill Bill certainly added to the sensation that I was a superhero being fitted in my armor. It does look sort of like a mix between something out of Tron and Iron Man, but the intent is the exact opposite: to make you weak, slow, tired, and confused.
I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life large and small but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a crowd cheer like they did for AOC when she came out next. If I already didn’t have tinnitus I would now.
“Senator Sanders has spent his entire life fighting for the right thing when it was unpopular,” she said. “It is hard to stand up and fight for someone you don’t know when it's not the popular thing to do, and he has done it his whole damn life.”
Then she listed the unpopular stances he’s taken over the years from Palestine to LGBT rights to a living wage to Medicare For All.
“Now people think progressive ideals are en vogue? Who put them en vogue? Which campaign?” she said before going through the list and ending on “Who is the only candidate to call to break up ICE and CBP? That matters.”
Sometimes people talk about New Hampshire as like some racist backwater but while New Hampshire is downright odd man just like a… peculiar place it’s beautiful and I love it and I get defensive like if someone was talking shit about my idiot younger brother man he’s just like that he can’t help it.
“As someone who has been told to ‘go back,’ I will tell you, we’re moving forward,” AOC said. Forward to a multiracial democracy, forward to guaranteed healthcare, forward to a living wage, forward to fighting for our neighbors, forward to indigenous rights and honoring sovereignty. Forward, forward, forward! That's where we’re gonna go.”
I remember our friend used to take the Chinatown bus up from New York every couple of weekends and he’d smuggle up one or two of those little ziplock baggies they put their coke in in New York and we’d all be very excited about that arriving as you can imagine but one time he brought The Modern Age EP and I don’t know which of those two twisted my brain sideways more.
Trump is a liar and a fraud Bernie said when he arrived on stage to a thunderous ovation.
“He promised the working people of this country during his campaign that he would guarantee healthcare to all people, then he tried to throw 32 million off the healthcare they have. He promised — and you know his word is like gold — he promised he would not cut Medicaid, Medicare and social security, but in his budget he made massive cuts… He promised the American people that his tax plan would not benefit his billionaire friends. I know I will shock you when I tell you that he lied about that too. 83% of the benefits of his tax plan go to the top 1%.”
“Donald Trump tells us every day how much we’re supposed to hate and fear the undocumented,” Bernie said. “But as a businessman he hired hundreds of undocumented workers to work in his resorts so that he could exploit them. Donald Trump the fraud told us that we should worry about the outsourcing of good paying American jobs, but as a businessman he manufactured his products in Mexico, China, Turkey, and other low wage countries.”
“We are going to defeat Donald Trump, because our agenda speaks to the pain of the working families of this country. The working people of this country know there is something wrong, when in America today, we have more income and wealth inequality than in any time over the last hundred years. Working families know there is something immoral and obscene about three people in America owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society.”
And then Bernie Sanders very normally introduced the famous New York City indie rock band The Strokes who opened with a cover of “Burning Down the House” by The Talking Heads and people just about lost their minds and then they kept losing their minds all the way through “Someday” and “Hard to Explain” and “Last Night.” At one point Julian said some weird shit about pirates and business people that I think was supposed to be a metaphor about the corrupt rich people Bernie is fighting against but who is to say what goes on in such a simple and beautiful mind as his. He said this before though which makes a bit more sense:
“We are honored to be associated with such a dedicated, diligent, and trustworthy patriot, and fellow native New Yorker. As the only truly non-corporate candidate, Bernie Sanders represents our only chance to overthrow corporate power and help return America to democracy. This is why we support him.”
Then they played One Way Trigger which probably doesn’t get enough credit for being one of if not the best latterday The Strokes singles.
Get dressed in your bed, while she's asleep
It isn't right, but it isn't hard
Tell me, tell me, won't you understand?
Show me, show me, show me a better plan
It's summer lies, it's someone else's nothing
Here it comes now
You ask me to stay
You ask me to stay
You ask me to stay
But there's a million reasons to leave
Find a job, find a friend
Find a home, find a dog
Settle down, out of town
Find a dream, shut it down
And then things got a lot cooler when the band invited everyone up on stage and they sang “New York City Cops” in the face of a local police officer who definitely didn’t catch what the lyrics were or else you have to imagine he would’ve been a lot more red-assed than he seems here in the video.
So then we walked back to the car along the slick hilly iced-over streets of Durham taking the tiniest possible steps hoping we wouldn’t slip and break something because if we got hurt we might not be able to afford the medical bills and I wondered what it might be like to not have to worry about things like that anymore and I thought something is going to change.