You would immediately crash to earth if you tried to use it

The idea that the left has enemies who must be roundly defeated remains too gauche for many Democrats

I’ll be appearing on January 13 at the Strand Book Store in New York. You can get tickets here. Friends of Hell World David Roth and Ashley Feinberg will be joining me too for a discussion.

Please purchase a subscription if you haven’t already. If you have thank you the support means a lot and we are basically best friends now.

The famous airplane company Boeing decided in March to ground its famous airplane the 737 Max after two horrific crashes in which 346 people plummeted from the sky to their deaths. Faced with all manner of headaches as a result of that unforgivable fuck up they eventually parted ways with CEO Dennis Muilenburg which is sad for him but not too sad because he’s going to walk away with tens of millions of dollars to soften the blow. How much he’ll get exactly is unclear but CNN says he “could be entitled to a benefit plan worth more than $30 million and, potentially, a severance payment of about $7 million. Muilenburg also has another $20 million-plus worth of vested stock and a pension package totaling more than $11 million.”

“Boeing's fired CEO could walk away with a $60 million golden parachute,” the headline of that piece reads and while I get what it means that phrasing never entirely made sense to me as a metaphor. A golden parachute would be way too heavy you would immediately crash to earth if you tried to use it.

Cool update!

A police officer in Junction City, Kansas said he got a coffee at McDonald’s and someone had written “fucking pig” on it and naturally every local TV news station and rightwing site in the country immediately jumped on the story because it is 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.

“The U.S. veteran that continues to serve deserves much more than this,” Herington Police Chief Brian Hornaday wrote on Facebook of the very real incident. “We deal with enough frustration in our daily duties every day. To have something like this to start off your workday while you’re driving to the place where you are going to serve its citizens, is just very frustrating.”

To the surprise of absolutely no one the manager of the store has since come out and said they have video showing it wasn’t one of his employees.

Barack Obama has been busy sharing his lists of the top books and movies and music and shit he liked in 2019 which has become something of a tradition for him and something about it has been bothering me not least of which is that these are almost surely all focus group tested picks meant to appeal directly to the type of NPR-ass podcast-listening follower who thinks America became bad the day he left office.

I couldn’t exactly put my finger on why it felt like a particularly bum note this year in particular but maybe it's that there's just something real bleak about how you can have either an illiterate fucking dunce as president or an erudite cultured one with all of the a la mode tastes and it doesn't really make all that much of a difference in how the country is run for most of us.

I think this is part of the appeal of Mayoral Peter to a lot of rich educated libs they like the idea of a man who has a stack of award winning novels on his bedstand making the decisions about exactly what percentage of poor people being crushed into mud is acceptable or not.

This was a very good piece in The New Republic. It’s called “The Daily Show’s Rally to Restore Sanity Predicted a Decade of Liberal Futility” and it says some shit like this:

But from our darker vantage point, what really sticks out is Stewart’s denialism. The backlash to Obama was a terrifying expression of the anxieties—both racial and otherwise—gripping America’s increasingly unhinged conservatives. Bill Maher, of all people, got this. “When Jon announced his rally, he said the national conversation was dominated by people on the right who believe Obama’s a socialist and people on the left who believe 9/11’s an inside job,” Maher said on his show. “But I can’t name any Democratic leaders who think 9/11’s an inside job. But Republican leaders who think Obama’s a socialist? All of them.”

This kind of thinking was not limited to Stewart and Colbert or the people holding signs about how political moderation is sexy. It was shared by Democratic leadership, most prominently by Obama himself, who spent the first precious years of his administration mistakenly convinced that he could find common ground with the right. The myth of unity remains a trope in much of the legacy media, while at least two leading candidates in the 2020 Democratic primary are selling themselves as uniters, not dividers.

The idea that the left has enemies who must be roundly defeated remains too gauche for many Democrats. That disdain for political combat is all on display at the Rally to Restore Sanity, but coated with smug condescension: It’s elaborate political theater that nominally appeals to better angels but really signals that liberals are smarter and gentler than conservatives and that, deep down, the rest of the country agrees with them.

Weird to see Bill Maher say something that isn’t stupid as shit what a world man.

Artist Vaughan Oliver has died and if you don’t recognize his name you surely recognize his work in particular the unparalleled string of iconic album art he produced for record label 4AD and Pixies.

“I was a working class lad from a dull town in county Durham, there was no real culture, my parents were not really interested in anything unusual – everything I was getting was through record sleeves,” he said in an interview in 2014. “It was a democratic way of discovering art. The local record shop was an art gallery for me.”

You used to have to do that. You used to have to literally judge an album by its cover because how the fuck else would you know anything about a band.

“I like to elevate the banal through surrealism,” Oliver said. “Mystery and ambiguity are important weapons in a designer’s arsenal. I try to make images where you don’t always get ‘the message’ straight away – but these things leave a hook in you. Leaving some space for interpretation is important.”

Hey check out this cool story from ProPublica:

In Alabama, the county in which you’re arrested could be the deciding factor in who will be financially responsible for your medical bills behind bars.

In Baldwin County, known for its white-sand Gulf Coast beaches and waterfront communities, the sheriff’s office ensures that inmates in the county jail do not have to pay anything more than a $15 copayment for medical care.

“Inmates are not billed for the full cost of any medical care either inside or outside” the jail, Sheriff Hoss Mack said in an email. “Alabama Code Title 14 assigns financial responsibility of inmates’ medical treatment to the department where they are being held.”

Just across the bay in Mobile County, home to one of the busiest ports in the U.S. and the eponymous city of nearly 200,000 people built around it, Sheriff Sam Cochran takes a different tack: Some of his inmates are personally on the hook for the full cost of medically necessary care they receive from outside doctors while incarcerated, even if they are awaiting trial.

The difference between the two sheriffs’ approaches demonstrates the unique power Alabama sheriffs have to set their own rules and answer only to voters. Legal experts and civil rights advocates say sheriffs like Cochran are likely violating both state law and the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment and excessive fines.

Speaking of Mobile, Alabama I just saw this really cool picture shared here that local police officers posted to Facebook.

Not sure which detail here is worse the fucking blue line flag on the wall or the fact that the signs that say “Thank you and god bless” seem to be written by the same person meaning the cops went and stole their sign once then they made another one only to have it stolen by the cops again.

It’s kind of weird that so many cops seems to be into lifting weights now isn’t it. It’s not like they ever need to use those muscles when they can just shoot people.

Mobile passed a controversial panhandling law in 2010. “Under the city rule, asking for money is allowed only outside of the downtown area referred to as the Visitors Domain,” AL.com writes.

The Visitors Domain.

“The law was crafted to apply to a small area popular with tourists and visitors in order to comply with federal court decisions that have found citywide bans on begging to be an unconstitutional violation of free speech. A separate section of the ordinance addresses panhandling in the rest of the city.”

In other words they made it illegal to ask for money in the popular entertainment district where lots of people with spare money can be found. Go beg in an empty neighborhood instead they said.

Lots of cities and states have laws on the books making panhandling illegal but it’s not always clear whether such laws are constitutional as this piece points out:

Whether begging is illegal may depend on where you live. As it stands now, regional federal courts are split on whether panhandling prohibitions are constitutional:

A couple of weeks ago I posted The Best of Hell World 2019 Part One lol. Here’s the second installment. It’s a bunch of posts from this year that I thought were particularly good and maybe worth looking at in case you missed them. Ok bye.

I get very nervous when something bad happens

At least twenty five people are dead after a boat fire off the coast of California and at least five people are dead thus far after a hurricane pummeled the Bahamas and seven people are dead and twenty two more are wounded after a shooting in Texas no not that one a new one and you can turn on your tv right now and watch them all being talked about one after the other if you want just flip back and forth from one channel to the other and it’s like a scene in a disaster movie where the person is watching TV in the background to let you know things are going to hell. They flip channel by channel and weirdly even now in movies they still do this as like a stylistic choice they make it so the channel changing has that old percussive chunking sound where you’d hear a bit of static in the spaces in between the channels but TVs don’t do that anymore they don’t make that sound anymore the toggling between the tragedies is a lot more seamless and streamlined now.

Like a symmetrical echo of pain

In January of 2016 Daniel Shaver was shot to death by a police officer at a La Quinta hotel in Mesa, Arizona. In the bodycam video from the shooting which you probably remember or more likely saw and then immediately tried to erase from your memory Shaver can be seen crawling on his hands and knees toward a number of police including Philip Brailsford who has his rifle trained on him. “There’s a very severe possibility you’re both going to get shot,” Sergeant Charles Langley says in the video and Shaver and a woman with him say they understand. “Shut up,” he says. “I’m not here to be tactful and diplomatic with you,” he says before ordering Shaver to put his hands on his head and perform all other manner of complicated moves with his arms and legs. Please don’t shoot me Shaver is crying and you know what I’m not gonna watch this again you can see it here if you want. You can watch them kill the guy.

Yes, I said, but always as a tree way up ahead

I would have read David Berman’s Actual Air around 2000 or 2001 or so when I was just coming out of college which is the most devastating time you can read a devastating collection of poems. It’s like how they say drugs and alcohol are particularly bad for teens’ brains because they aren’t fully developed yet and it works sometimes like that with poetry too. Poetry just like drugs and alcohol is a delivery system for both despair and exultation and if you’re too young you don’t know what to do with either of those things.

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

“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!”

If you ever took a deep breath you would choke

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.

The president is a racist piece of shit

I just went outside for a cigarette on my back porch and watched a bird slide down the roof of the house next door where the lady who yells at the little dog lives. All the roofs here are slanted because that way the snow will slide off and not pile up and crush us all to death and I wonder how long it took people to figure out they had to do that. I bet there was a lot of trial and error involved in that particular feat of architectural innovation. Ah fuck my family got crushed by the snow again I gotta rethink things.

So I was like holy shit that bird is falling down off the roof in slow motion but it wasn’t because before it reached the side it simply flew up and away and I was like oh right.

It reminded me both my father and my step father fell off roofs on more than one occasion in their lives due to they were both roofers which is a job I tried doing exactly one day with my father and I was like this fucking blows so much I’m gonna pass on this opportunity going forward. At various points in my life either one of them tried to expose me to manly things like riding a motorcycle or building a porch or whatever but it never stuck.

Memorials are not for the dead they are for the living

Poems of all kinds are always preoccupied with what some fucking bird or insect is up to while the poet is sitting there thinking about how they’re going to die someday because it’s impossible for humans to think of anything but ourselves. I think it’s also because poets are embarrassed to be even more self-absorbed than the rest of us and they wish they were a bird or an insect not because they would be able to fly but because they might be able to shut the fuck up for the first time in their lives.

The other day I tried to explain to my therapist Molly which just now strikes me as a not especially therapisty name the experience of being someone who is very online and somewhat well known on a middling regional level like I guess whatever I am who often gets into the shit when it comes to politics resulting in a lot of people hating my fucking guts. I said it was like when it is a hot and humid summer day much like it is today and you look out the window and see all the moths accumulated there by the light outside the door in their dusty agitated fluttering just waiting for you to fuck up ever so slightly by opening the screen door so they can flood in. I was going to say it’s like The Mist when you’re inside the supermarket there but she never gets my cultural references.

Maybe Pelosi watches Rocky or Friday Night Lights or whatever and then at the end when they lose she says See?

People don’t want to change even when faced with clear evidence that what they are used to doing is going to lead to calamity and that’s true if we’re talking about dragging an addict who objectively knows his life is in peril into rehab or power brokers in D.C. who would rather go to fundraisers than do the necessary dirty work of governing or say for example factory farmers whose work is contributing to the likely death of life on earth!

There is a silent epidemic of trauma being perpetrated

One of my editors forwarded me a note from the newspaper’s internet security team or whatever a few weeks ago and it was like just a heads up looks like your information has been posted on some website where they like to SWAT journalists and celebrities and shit and it made my stomach sink as you can imagine so after a while of fretting about it I called the local police and said hey just as a sort of courtesy if you ever get a call that there’s a shooting at my address could you call me first because it’s very likely not me and that felt real weird to have to say it felt like I was putting myself on their radar as some sort of troublemaker and on top of that I felt sort of ashamed for a minute like here I am this guy who criticizes the police all the time and as the common critique from the right goes I was still nonetheless calling them for help when I needed it but then I realized I wasn’t calling them to come and save me I was asking them politely to please hesitate for a minute or two before coming to kill me.