At first, I was unsure what to think of this book. The last (and so far only other) book from Andy Merrifield I've read has been Magical Marxism. I thoroughly enjoyed it, at times loved it, and at others disagreed with it to the point of flinging it across a room.
Today, a gaggle of armed fascists and white supremacists managed to break through four fences and a line of armed police to swarm into the Capitol Building. At the time of writing they are still occupying Congress. There is, in my view, little likelihood of them changing the results of the election, of Joe Biden being confirmed as the next president. But that is not the main takeaway.
He has survived. This braying, sniveling coward whose vindictive petulance has led to the deaths of over 200,000 people, has survived. Of course we always knew he was going to. He has access to the best treatment imaginable – round-the-clock care, experimental drugs, even a hospital room that looked more like a suite at the Waldorf. A few caveats aside – “not out of the woods yet,” his shortness of breath – Donald Trump has survived Covid-19.
In the vast warehouse of insufferable chestnuts that comprises popular American political wisdom, few are more cloying and useless than “democracy is not a spectator sport.” Not just for its thick-headed, football coach motivation-speech optimism, but because, by point of fact, American democracy has always been a spectator sport. It has always feared the mob, always relied on passivity to get its business done, and – if you’ll indulge another stupid sports metaphor – has always viewed the voting public as an inert crowd watching while the real action happens on the field.
California’s fire season is back. It seems to arrive earlier and earlier every year, and becomes fiercer, more destructive, more indifferent to the fact that there are cities and towns in its way. There are currently more than 560 burning throughout the state, most of which have only appeared in the past week or so. Most are concentrated in the north and central parts, but southern California isn’t exactly being spared. A large handful of blazes are scattered throughout Orange, Los Angeles, and San Diego Counties. They are smaller, but that is always relative.
When we tear down statues, it is an attempt to alter the trajectory of history. Not history as just “what has happened,” which we can never change as much as reinterpret. No, this is history as a great unfolding, as something that is taking place and will take place on one route or another depending on what is done in this moment. You can hear it in the reactions of the right. In their barely contained apoplexy, their cries of “you can’t erase history,” they are, however unwittingly, announcing that there is consequence to how that history is experienced in the here and now.
For the past month we’ve come to grips with this strange yet somehow familiar feeling: history happening without our permission. Of course that’s always been how it is. How many of us have ever truly felt we’ve had definitive control over events? Damn few of us, that’s who. But still, in our schedules, our social engagements, our celebrations and obligations and deadlines, we we’ve always been able to cobble together some sense that things move along. That something called a future is, despite everything, still in store. And with that, something called hope.
It is early afternoon in Havana, and someone hands us a small flier. It reads: We are a collective of artists that come together every night at a small, dark and decadent underground hideaway. It also happens to be the best dance floor in the city. Looking for something with a little more edge than La Bodeguita … Continue reading Havana Notes
“In her world, this is what her social circle did... Everyone's life was perfectly curated for social media. People were fake. People were phoney. And money was made on hype alone.” So says the defense attorney for Anna Sorokin – aka Anna Delvey. Sorokin was convicted last month of what amounts to one big scam of New … Continue reading Potemkin Village Lifestyles
Poway, California. The final day of Passover. According to one eight-year-old child in attendance, the shooter aimed for the kids first. The rabbi was shot through the hand, losing his index finger, and reports say that at first he attempted to continue speaking from the front. A member of the congregation, sixty-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye, … Continue reading Here In the Empire