Thursday, May 9, 2019

Work in Progress: Post Number One.


"As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I'm not sure that I'm going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says 'you are nothing', I will be a writer.”- Hunter S Thompson

Every good book, at least all the ones I've always admired anyway, have without exception, started off with a succinct introduction, a really good joke, or both. I for one, having never seen a truly persuasive reason as to ditching the use of a winning stratagem, will with any luck, merge the two into one concisely hilarious statement:

Hi there, I am a writer.

Now, the end goal of that fairly sardonic introspection is to hope that when I'm beyond the pale of all that is doubtful, I'll have a finished book, adorned with a beautifully bespoke cover graphic, and that resplendent smell of vanilla flowers and almonds known as Biblichor, which to this day, still makes me more contented than a small child that's hopped-up on sugar, armed with an illicit Sharpie, and has no parental oversight within their view. For the majority of people who haven't been blessed (or cursed) with the duality-tinged gift that is writing, assumptions that as a trade it fails to meet the standard of what true work is, or that it's nothing more than stringing words together as a lark, is just flat out wrong, if not naive.

Writing IS work. It demands dedication. Prominence. Blood. Sweat. Tears. And in my singular case, the unusually large consumption of Ding Dongs, which we'll return to at some later point. For those who have no idea what a publishable pile of words must attain in order to be designated as such, here are the benchmarks:

- a short story: 1000 to 7500 words.
- a novelette: 7500 to 20,000words.
- a novella: 30 to 50,000 words.
- a novel: 55 to 300,00 words.*

*A related aside: if you do indeed intend to aspire to craft a novel that makes War and Peace which clocks in at 587, 287 words, come off akin to skimming an index card, such as "author" Nigel Tomm's ongoing 23 volume opus known as The Blah Story does, some words of caution are to be expressed. A deservedly well-maligned tome that belabors it's non-point with an agonizing 3,277,227 words, which translates into 7312 pages, it's one you're probably going to be shopping around for a bit, considering a sheet of paper weighs .01 ounces, indicating your manuscript would weigh an average of 36.56 pounds.

That's in American weight versus European, which as we all know, seems heavier and far more intellectual than it really is. Best of luck mailing that to Hatchette.

At this point, my skin is only in for 474 words, so as you may have surmised, I have a bit to go before I can righteously demand that Nigel buys me a drink for inscribing something worth reading. But as stated, I am a writer, and perhaps I should get back to that, before I set any future inebriation in stone. Primary introductions having been made, albeit with an attempt at levity, I shall now give you my, as they used to say back in the day, Christian name- which always make me laugh darkly, since regardless if one uses the Biblical or the applied definition from Webster's, I'm no Christian.

However, either does apply to my best friend Percival Alexander Breathnach, who will make an appearance further along the line in my narrative, if only to serve as this tale's rarely seen and somewhat metaphorical Dante. To wit, my name is Jannik Niklas Schriftsteller, which if I were to translate it's fully ascribed meaning directly, it would present as: "God is gracious, victory of the people, author." Fate plays cruel tricks on the brethren it manipulates, so I was doomed from the start, for as I may have possibly mentioned, I am a writer. This lofty and at times, imprecise depiction of the burden that was placed upon me at first by others, was begrudgingly taken to heart after the criticism, and the polite compliments being disseminated within the concentric circles of friends started leaking out, and asserted themselves directly to the public, evermore the pity.

But who am I exactly? Easy enough answer. I'm the end result of immigrant parents, one German, the other Sicilian, who for some strange and as yet unknown reason where the Universe is concerned, decided not to listen to the grand Cosmos in all of it's Wisdom, and bred a trio of children with whom they could equally and with a varying degree of success, turn their own individual projected disappointments and failures into cavernous psychological scars. To this day, I still cannot eat soup, but the blame for that squarely rests on my Mother alone, and it's also a very long story, which someday I may share outside the confines of my current support group.  

In preceding incarnations, I've been a comedian, a waiter, a poorly trained telemarketer, a hotel front desk clerk, a cartoonist, a betrayed fiancé, a muralist, a fine artist, an art framer, and now, a writer who at this present moment in time, has had his skill-set ranged as being anywhere from "mildly competent" to "damn good", which when given pause, balances out the too much pressure, followed by a spectacular flame-out scenario for being the best, or the contrary, bringing shame unto the family name and all that for being the worst.

This, despite my in-name-only Father's assertions that's what I've been doing my entire life. On a slightly more carnival-esque note, I also happen to be a severely brittle diabetic, who's missing one toe, and I can craft some serious Psyanka when the need arises.

Granted, these details aren't enough to earn me a stabilized niche in a traveling side-show, but it definitely sets me apart at the family get-togethers. And as a courtesy for the sadly uninitiated, Pysanka is a stunningly beautiful custom from Ukraine, wherein Easter eggs are decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs by means of a wax-resist method, which if you're truly interested, will lend itself to a fairly pleasant, if not an ethereally serene evening of Googling. Overall, my life isn't all that interesting, but I have had a few moments here and there, that have raised it at times, a few degrees above my standard average, and it's that untapped reservoir of note that I will be drawing most of my observations from. Lucky you.

But as noted earlier, all good stories start with a succinct introduction, a really good joke, or both. I'm pretty sure that my birth could easily qualify for that consideration, given how my life has turned out. I was born in Port Charles, New York at the beginning of 1969, a year that introduced the Pontiac Firebird and the 747 Jumbo Jet, would see Americans land on the Moon, and witnessed 350 thousand fans gather at Woodstock. In addition, the Concorde had it's first public test flight, and PBS was established, much to the chagrin of Republicans today, due to the fact that an educated populace is truly dangerous to a government that prefers it's citizens ignorant, docile, and quiet.

However... it was also when the the Beatles' played their last public performance, found Senator Edward Kennedy's driving skills to be somewhat lacking, and capped itself off with the Manson Family murdering eight people. In essence, a mixed bag of signals, if I were to make the keenest of observations. I've often theorized that the Universe has gone to Hell in a hand-basket since David Bowie, and Lemmy Kilmeister died, but I believe the beginning of the end truly started when Paul Mc Cartney and John Lennon thought their respective wives needed to be in the band. And while all indicators lean towards the late Linda and the current Yoko being really nice people in general, their efforts at singing have always reminded me of a cabal of tone-deaf Scotsmen playing bagpipes made out of screeching chickens.

Related to that observation is a side tale of sorts- I once had to let go of my well-loved LP of Double Fantasy by John and Yoko, and decided to save a few bucks by hitting up my favorite gently-used music store to acquire it's replacement. This in itself wasn't that hard, as they had multiple copies, as at that time, vinyl was being slowly phased out by CD's, but all of the albums had one curious attribute, that being the John Lennon disc was truly and completely racked- multiple scratches, nicks, and obvious man-handling were evident on the majority of the ones I was looking at. And Yoko's? Well...

Smooth as glass. Never played. Possibly never even taken out of it's sleeve, by all fair scrutiny. If there was a modern equivalency, I'd opine that it might be the first album since Metallica's "St. Anger"  to be downloaded off the Web and then almost as quickly, returned back to it. Given that knowledge, Geffen Records could have just made one master copy for John to give to Yoko as an anniversary gift, and then pressed the other album to be nothing but reissues of his greatest hits. If the record company had only the foresight to do this, that album would've charted Dark Side of the Moon numbers by now, guaranteed.

Speaking of failing to see forthcoming future harm...

As far as my childhood goes, I grew up within a relatively middle-class neighborhood on Long Island, with an older sister and a younger brother, surrounded by lush forests and a peach farm whose workers brandished shotguns loaded with rock salt as a means of discouragement towards the illicit poaching wave that happened every year during harvest time. Overall, my early childhood was rather non-descript, as my mother stayed at home, and my dad founded an empire based on lawn sprinkler installations. You literally can feel the pathos and dynamic tension in the air, as this riveting back-story brings it's presence to the forefront. The hamlet I spent my early youth in was almost a Norman Rockwell caricature, with friendly to a fault neighbors, community barbeques, baseball games, and a Catholic parish headed up by a seemingly always slightly tipsy priest. But it's also the kind of place that if one has a terminal disease they should move to, as every day there will feel like a damn eternity- idyllic, no?

Granted, it was your fairly stereotypical suburban neighborhood, with a cookie-cutter conformity and master planned monotony, but we did have a few unique square pegs that kept it interesting, such as the Mennonite family known as the Frosts whose patriarch was renowned for his talent of fabricating near-perfect replica birdhouses of the dwellings in my neighborhood, right down to the shingles on their roofs and the etched glass panels of their front doors. If I was a sparrow, I know damn well where I would have bunked, if given the choice. The other fascinating thing about the Frost clan was the fact that despite their parents being truly exceptionally odd-looking, all of their children, nine in total, were gorgeous. Four boys, five girls, and all of them could have been cover models for Vogue, without breaking a sweat.

Even as a young lad of seven, I wholly understood that having any of the Frost girls as a babysitter was an experience not to be missed, if not to brag about, and while the phrase "get me some of that" may not have been known to me due to my tender age, it was definitely something that I would have applied to the situation if I had only the skill-set and presence to do so. Look at it from this POV- Catherine Bach is coming over to cater to your every whim for a few hours, and if she finds herself under obligation elsewhere, she'll send over one of her equally stunning sisters to fill the void. And this situation was made all the more interesting, for as I declared earlier, their parents were truly strange-looking. Not sideshow strange, nor any form of "Dear God, what is that?" eccentricity, they just didn't appear to be actually human in the traditional sense.

Picture a gregarious yet over-stretched Abe Lincoln fabricated entirely from animated Slim Jims married to an adorably petite woodland creature straight out of the Pennsylvania Shire, and you've pretty much nailed the reality of what was. The matriarch was truly recognized far and wide for her amazingly green thumbs, and her community garden was the envy of many in my faux village, as was their penchant for being decently laid-back neighbors, the kind that will not only loan you their lawn mower, but also come and help you rake and bag up afterwards. But nature tends to abhor a vacuum, and requires a balance of sorts, and that was provided in sharp contrast by their somewhat rabidly feral neighbors, a rough-hewn gaggle of Scottish malcontents known as the Mc Craigs.

Armed with nothing more than viciously short tempers, whiskey induced attitudes, and a standoffishness that would make Joan Crawford blush, they engaged in throwing shade of a caliber that had not been seen since William Wallace gleefully informed the English that they not only could go shove their crumpets sideways, they could do it without the aid of butter. This is not to say that they couldn't be civilly social like rational people, it is just to note that it wasn't their inherent go-to as a standard.     


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Biblichor and Art (A bar stool rumination)

“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't fuck them.” - John Waters

Hello Blogiteers!

It is a lovely day here in Silver City, New Mexico. The sun isn't shining, the wind is blowing harder than Jenny Mc Carthy at a gathering of nonagenarian anti-vaxxers, and the water falling from the sky can't decide whether it wants to be sleety rain or hail- to which I say let it be both, because goddamnit, this is America and you can do (and be) whatever you want. Speaking of which, one of the best ways to achieve this is through the use of books, or as I like to think of them, compendiums of pure awesomeness. As the more astute of you may have surmised, I LOVE books. And I'm not describing a generalized overall appreciation of the collected written word, I'm describing a personal situation akin to the Collyer Brothers*, but with books.
*[Homer Lusk Collyer and Langley Wakeman Collyer, AKA the Collyer brothers, were two American brothers who became infamous for their bizarre natures and compulsive hoarding. Go read up on it- it's disturbingly fascinating. In fact there are several books you could read about it, ironically enough.]

When Ashley and I moved here, I had 54 boxes of books that had to go as well, much to the unfettered sheer delight of our somewhat ham-fisted moving monkeys. In fact, I heard several comments regarding their weight and how they were getting a gratuitous workout, and seemingly armed with an almost Nostradamus like power of foresight, the crew noted how they already had a place in mind where these boxes could be shoved. On a related side note, I never was informed where that place was, but I got the feeling they wanted me directly involved. Damn. I do like being one of the cool kids.

Puzzlingly, when I unpacked all of my varied tomes, I couldn't get this literature-based game of Tetris to go back the way it once was, leading to the eventual purchase of yet another needed bookcase for the Lair of Snarkitude. So at the moment, my personal library encompasses SEVEN bookshelves, the biggest of which houses all of my art reference books, covering the gamut from the fastidious craft of duck decoys to graffiti,
a singular passion of mine. When and if I die, this will be the one grouping of my possessions that my artist friends will go full Lord of the Flies over. The rest of my collection is pretty much comprised of sci-fi, true crime both case studies and stories, autobiographies, horror, some specialized fiction, and a random assortment of how-to
and "did you know?" type books.

Somewhat eclectic, but it works for me. And I might add, for anyone who visits and who likes to read, no matter what you're into, I'm pretty sure Ashley and I have got it covered, hands down. Not to mention, the bathroom reading at our house is superb, if I do say so myself, and I do. However, the city we live within proximity of, that being Silver City, is an exceedingly small town- the population is less than 10k, and the biggest retailer that exists is a Super Wal-Mart, which truly blackens my liberal soul every time I'm forced to shop there. To give you some perspective, online shopping is such an integrally huge thing here, that Jeff Bezos providing another outlet for retail could be looked upon as the equivalent of Goliath taking on his own clone, albeit a slightly more arrogant version. As you might imagine, this dearth of in-town commerce tends to limit the diversity of what goods and services exist within the confines of my newest home, so monthly shopping trips to the "big city" of Las Cruces one and a half hours away have become somewhat of a highly convenient excuse to go take a road-trip.

Don't get me wrong, Artbitch V2.0 does like the pace here, and not having to deal with the PAS and it's lack of insight anymore is in retrospect, almost a godsend. Seriously. The last time I was this relaxed, was when I was under anesthesia, and that's even with the fact that I eventually had to pick up the tab for that. Helping add bulk to that sense of overall warm fuzziness is the fact that there's at least one kick-ass used book store here, by the name of Silver City Book Shop, and it's exactly how a used bookshop should present itself- comfy chairs, natural light, overstuffed shelves, that tang of old-books wafting through the air, [also known as “Biblichor"] and an owner who knows books and their authors much in the same way that I know the highs and lows of Ding-Dong and Peeps addiction.

In addition to this already charming stack of literary magnificence, said owner, a delightful, if not exceedingly colorful, Scottish expat by the name of Michael Lacey, is also an excellent resource regarding the lore of Silver City, and of the varied social sub-strata that I hope to be finding myself excavating through over the course of the coming year, and let me tell you kids, you can't pay enough for info like that. You can however, buy some goodwill by purchasing a few books now and then, all while enjoying the occasional cup of Tea, which I've always believed is what truly separates us from the narrow-minded rabble of mouth-breathing Red Hat knuckle-draggers who view books and intellectual expansion with the same disdain that Superman reserves for Kryptonite Underoos.

Hands down, this may be one of my favorite bookshops I've ever been in, as Michael is not only well versed in his understanding of authors across the published spectrum, but the way he interacts with his clientele as he informs them of choices they've never considered is an act of performance art that can only be described as inspirational. I've often said that books are life, but Michael lives that maxim as if it were a religion, and the ripple effect of his personal philosophy impacts upon everyone who thirsts for knowledge.

In short, if you come here on holiday, check out his place, and tell all your friends.

Speaking of the written and eventually compiled word, I've finally managed to get off my wounded backside and put out some tentative feelers to several publications out here, and I've gotten some* positive feedback in regards to having my previous work checked out for review- I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my mouth shut, since I don't want to jinx anything, but I will say this- I definitely have decided that I no longer want to work for cretins, such as the mentally deficient and morbidly obese bitch I once had to suffer as my supervisor, or within any arrogant fiefdom that was the norm before I had the misfortune of working for the barely sentient New Age cow I just described.  And it's pretty much a given that due to both injuries and my declining health that I can no longer work the type of physical job that I once did.
*[I've gotten two serious offers from two heavy readership hitters out here to "pitch" some stories- I'm keeping my fingers crossed.]

Oh well. C'est la vie. New glass of Metamucil sweeps clean and all that.

So with a new home base and reworked attitude, comes new possibilities, or so I hope- the writing and art scene settings out here are definitely hard-set to "hustle", and if there's one skill-set I do possess, it's the ability to self-market and chat-up strangers. Or as my GF likes to call it, "making friends with a brick". What is weird that even though I've been here since the tail end of August 2018, I have yet to make any actual friends out here- granted, three months of my new residency was spent recovering from unforeseen and somewhat traumatic amputation surgery, which forced me to be housebound, but it's quite out of character for me to be so hermetic, given the past 20 years+ of my artsy and somewhat gadabout lifestyle.

In fact, the only people I talk to out here with any regularity are Michael, and Jed, the day manager at my favorite writing burrow, that being the *Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery, which by the way, has the best damn bacon-green-chile-hamburger I've ever had in my life, that being the "LTC Burger". I'm not sure what's more amusing to me, the fact that this is the quietist my life has ever been, or that I've quickly morphed into the cliché of a writer who works out of a bar, and has his "own" table and standing food and drink order. To be clear, I'm not being anti-social or anything, it's just that due to my health issues, I just sense that I'm currently punching above my weight class right now, and as such, don't think it's the best idea to jump into a new set of rapids wearing only arm floaties versus the safety of a well-crafted Admantium kayak backed up with not only lasers, but my personal army of wet-suited Ninja ferrets.

Although let's face it, I could rock these like Danzig if I wanted to.

When it comes right down to the brass tacks, my main concern is really all about the first impression I'm going to make upon what will hopefully be my future colleagues and allies within this new creative crucible. But despite my somewhat Machiavellian overtures towards introducing myself scene-wise, I have been making some limited forays out into this brave new territory, armed only with devastating charm, rugged good looks, and a truckload of business cards. So, it's just like when I was single, except I don't have to buy anyone dinner, and I'm not going to wind up at the strip club afterwards, throwing my last bit of surplus cash at a dancer named Dakota, who despite all of her assurances, won't call me back three days later.

But as usual, perhaps I've said too much. Now, while the scene here is obviously way smaller than the one I just closed the door on, it's also seemingly way more entrenched within the community fabric than the one represented by the PAS. While Phoenix seems disturbingly intent on happily cutting it's own throat using the twin combo of gentrification and soulless vanilla-esque decorator art geared towards a centralized demographic of blandness, the Arts in this city (and NM in general) have a propensity to lean towards taking risks not only in direction and aesthetics, but saturation as well.

There's literally art everywhere here, and the talent pool ranges from gifted amateurs to mercenary capitalists like myself, a class which at the very least should provide some solemn grist for my future screeds, if nothing else. However, as different as this new place is, the hustle remains the same- you can't keep the high ground if you're not out protecting it, and if your day to day routine doesn't involve dancing on the razor's edge while juggling flaming kittens, you're casually taking up way too much space to begin with. And if there's one thing I've always enjoyed, it's grabbing those sheer moments of catastrophe and turning them into marketable opportunities, or as I've always called it- Tuesday.

It still remains to be seen whether I'm going to still get up and jump back into the art-production side of things again, in the manner of my early to mid-thirties, but the likelihood is there, and the impulse to crank out some new work and experiment with some unique techniques keeps getting stronger as time roars on. Aided of course, by the fact that my new abode comes equipped with a separated workshop where i can finally not have to worry about making an artsy mess.

Speaking of art, which I'm fondly obsessed with doing, I recently made a happy discovery here in my new stronghold of snarkiness, that being a gallery that goes by the name of Light Art Space, run by Artist Karen Hymer. [ ] But before I wax poetic, lets get some background on the creative force behind it first.

From the website: "Light Art Space is owned and operated by Karen Hymer, a visual artist and teacher from Tucson, Arizona.  Karen earned her BFA from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University, Medford and her MA and MFA in Fine Art Photography from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. She actively exhibits her work both nationally and internationally. Her work is in several public collections, including the Center for Creative Photography and the Polaroid International Collection.  Dark Spring Press released the first book of her work in May, 2018. 

Karen’s experience and technical interests are wide-ranging.  Although “trained” as a photographer and educator, her approach to image making explores the blending of photosensitive materials, digital media, printmaking and encaustics. In addition to working as a fine art photographer, she taught photography for over 25 years at Pima Community College in Tucson and currently offers workshops and private sessions in Photopolymer Gravure printing and alternative photographic processes."

As one might hope to expect, this austerely minimalist space reflects the educational and creative pedigree of Hymer's solid curatorial eye. Given my normal cynicism in regards to how I view most galleries as being marketed and run, I cannot begin to tell you how much I love taking in the shows here- it's truly energizing for the ol' art-batteries, and serves as a steadily inspirational incubator as to how an art-centric business should be offered up to the local community, as it develops the long-term relationships that will prove to be so vital to it's sustained success. Whether the work being displayed is photography, mixed media, or sculpture, the shows I've attended have all been rock-solid, which is a refreshing change from some of the artsy abattoirs I endured during my time in Phoenix.

So, if the storybook Gods are feeling particularly generous, I'll hopefully be writing about all of this professionally yet again. I've sent out the requested "pitches" in regards to getting back on board the journalism jalopy, so now it's just a sit and wait game whereas my published life is concerned. And the best part is that this particular city just bleeds stories, art-related or not. The writing grist here is incredible, if not readily available, and has me thinking about other literary avenues that I could explore. Not to mention that I may also be in a unique niche, as one of the magazines I've contacted informed me that they don't get to cover this side of the state as much as they'd like to, since they really don't have someone who's in place to do so.

At last, it seems that my proclivity for burrowing in like a wood-tick may finally pay off for once, if all goes to hopeful plan. Crossing my fingers and remaining toes that my roll of the dice comes up with a lucky seven in regards to this, because if it doesn't, I seriously have no idea what I'll be doing career wise, as I'm fairly certain that "arrogant snark" is not actually a real job I could get paid handsomely for, even though I should. So with a bit of luck, all the outreach I've been doing will pay off steadily, because I already know it won't be handsomely. Print media as a rule, seems to be in decline, as more people seemingly prefer the information they consume to be spoon-fed to them, via targeted algorithms that only serves to reinforce their personal biases and newly fomented opinions.  But as long as it lasts, I'm more than willing to ride this bomb ala Slim Pickens style, to whatever glorious end awaits.

Other than the monotony of the job searching, everything else is humming alone relatively well- my new studio space and workshop are almost set-up, and my bad health is slowly being corralled by a battalion of new doctors determined to see me in better straits. So, despite the incredibly hellish travail of moving and my medical morass, this place finally feels ike home, even if nobody here knows who and what I am... yet. However, all the indicators thus far point to my stress levels here being almost non-existent in regards to what I was experiencing back in PHX. Sure, my foot still looks like it was utilized as a chew-toy by a rabid zombie Chihuahua, but I'm gradually learning to deal with it, in a fashion, somewhat. And while I'm reasonably stable without my cane on the flat side of the land, I definitely still need it when it comes to uneven ground or steps, of which there are aplenty in Silver City.

In time, I purportedly won't need it as much or at all, but for now, I'm not so sure. It plays a huge role in my current stability when I'm traipsing through my newly adopted city, and let's face it- it's black on black motif has been meshing quite well with my stereotypical Angel of Death wardrobe, so that's a plus. But if all goes to plan, I will find out in the next week* or so if I have to continue to wear the clunky med-shoe I've been putting up with for the last several months, or if I can get back into my motorcycle boots. Because you have no idea how hard it is to look bad ass when you are wearing the foam equivalent of a Lego block on your foot, let me tell you. But as far as things go, I really can't complain- sure, waiting to hear back from the magazines I've pitched to is in itself, a mild form of slow torture, but if it all pays off in the end, then I guess it's worth it.
*[Update; my doctor said I could, so back to my Hell-stompers!!!]

A small side note, if I may: As I noted earlier, I do the majority of my writing in this bar/brewery in Downtown Silver City, NM called The Little Toad Creek bar & Brewery, which as a rule, happens to be a rather nice and mellow place. Today however, I currently have some dumbf**k sitting three feet from me who's advocating FOR drunk driving, dismissing the act of people being charged for it as "bullshit." This presents a question for the crowd, that being if I take my cane and shove it up his idiotic ass sideways, is that a hate crime or a mercy killing?

Sorry. Just needed to blow off some steam before I break out the ol' Brazen Bull* and several bags of Kingsford briquettes, and slow-roast myself a proudly drunken jackass from Ohio, so let's get back to the narrative, shall we?
*[The Sicilian bull which is better known as the brazen bull, was allegedly a torture and execution device designed in Greece. The bull was said to be hollow, made of bronze, and designed with a door on one side to allow the placement of condemned prisoners, who were locked inside the device, prior to a fire being set underneath it, thereby heating the metal until the person inside was excruciatingly roasted to death. There are several opinions as to whether the Brazen Bull ever really existed, dismissing the stories to gossip and propaganda, but I really wish I had one now.]

In more exciting news, I still find myself currently tussling with a slew of Trump-twatbots via my Twitter and IG feeds, as they miserably fail to defend or advance the agenda of their Klansberry Cocktail, which has led to a whole new vanguard being unwillingly drafted into my ongoing postcard project which I discussed in a previous blog. Trust me, there's nothing more satisfying than metaphorically punching holes through these inbred losers, and it never gets dull, let me tell you. Personally, I don't consider it a productive week unless I get at least two serious death threats, a wide smattering of "libtard" slurs, and an acidic assessment that I must surely be gay because I believe in equality for all.

Amusingly, that last one hardly dings in this day and age, especially when you consider it's obviously based on nothing more than their sheer jealousy of my fantastic ghetto booty, which let's face it, could stop rush hour traffic in Los Angeles. And as to the numerous physical threats I receive, the only way the majority of these deep-fried larded idiots could ever actually pose a physical threat is if they accidentally tripped and landed on me, so it's not like I give any credence past the occasional minimum thought. If the majority of these petroleum-pissing dinosaur incels fight as well as they "debate", not only will I be safe as houses, but I'll also have enough comedic material to tweet until my Ding Dong addiction finally does me in.  

Speaking of being done in, I have a ton of doctors I'll be seeing over the next three months out here in relation to my past and ongoing health issues, despite having yet another one of my extended episodes of white-coat fatigue syndrome. I now have a surgical consultant, a dietician, a general practitioner, a podiatrist, an endocrinologist, and a nephrologist, so all I need now to have my very own medical-themed Funko POP collector set, is to acquire a cardiologist and a pulmonologist, ASAP. And if I can somehow score myself one of those awesome limited-edition immunologists mint in the box, I'll really have something to brag about in my diabetic support group, let me tell you. At this point however, I'm just really tired of being poked, weighed, inspected, and processed as if I were a piece of snarkily sentient fruit. Especially when none of it seems to be having any culpable effect as to how I feel, or putting the weight (35 lbs+) back on that I've lost thus far. Don't misunderstand, as overall, I'm very happy to be gimping along such as it is above ground, but there are days where the consistency of being and feeling sick and tired all the time drains my batteries something fierce.

I can handle the concept of getting older, it's the reality of becoming quickly decrepit that's actually getting on my nerves, almost to the point of obsession. Granted, neuropathic pain, balance issues, and unexplained fatigue and weight loss are not the best topics to spark up a conversation with, but just imagine that you're the person who's afflicted with the symptoms to begin with. If you think you're bored with my referencing them persistently, just envision how fatigued I am living with them 24/7- no breaks, no mercy, no chance of reprieve... EVER. Gah. Sorry. I really need to learn how to bitch less about my medical stuff, as it is what it is, and that would definitely fall under the charitable description of "annoying", lol.

But as with all things, there are always positives- it's just that the truly bad sometimes outweighs the good, no matter how much I try to maintain a brave face. When it comes right to the heart of the matter, it will forever be a day-to-day battle to maintain and keep the high ground, and to make sure not to lose any of it to my internal monster. and on that particularly uneven note, I think it's time for a break.

And when we come back...

I give up the reins and let someone else do my art framing, endeavor to find out if I'm still hirable whereas my writing career is concerned, and see if I still have the chops to create kickass art with hands that are as useless as JPGs would be to Helen Keller.

"If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
- Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

Monday, March 11, 2019

Social Muddier (Calm Your Twits)

"Weakness is what brings ignorance, cheapness, racism, homophobia, desperation, cruelty, brutality, all these things that will keep a society chained to the ground, one foot nailed to the floor." 
- Henry Rollins

Hello Blogiteers!

Twas a sad past week for yours truly, as I spent all of it in Jail. Not the exemplary don't-pick-up-the-soap kind of jail we've all seen on Netflix, nor the one I was weakly threatened to be thrown into by the Arizona Attorney General's office by it's unethical cabal of cubicle monkeys- no, I found myself imprisoned in the most petty of all penitentiaries, that being the horrid horcrux of hypocrisy that calls itself Twitter. You know what it is, the place where conservatives are always complaining about being shadow-banned, and having their free speech violated, but seemingly ignore the fact that Lahren, Trump, Hannity, Owens, and Ingrahm post violations of the terms 24/7 and have yet to be placed on time out?

How did I get there, for those of you unfamiliar with my penchant for holding the moronic to task? Well, it seems that while bots and fake accounts can freely and openly post missives of racism, misogyny, unhinged death threats, (of which I've had several) as well as willful ignorance, conspiracy theories, xenophobia, and the like, you're generally shadow-banned or "jailed" if you respond with intellectual and gleeful savagery to said abusive statements, which I so obviously did.

Given the gift of a prognosticators hindsight, perhaps my accurately calling out a cravenly misogynistic and wholly racist neo-Nazi incel was perhaps not the best course of action for a mature adult to undertake, but I still stand behind my doing so 100%. Sadly, Twitter apparently doesn't mind one iota if their platform is manipulated to disseminate alt-right philosophy and uninformed acidity, as proven by the fact that they have no issue with our wholly owned by Russia, serial lying, and wretched Embarrassment-in-Chief miserably posting multiple violations of their conduct policy, but I digress.

See, I happen to take great pride in using my gift of snarkiness towards the vanquishing of the most pitifully pathetic of truly ignorant evil, if only for the greater good, but I also understand there's bound to be some severe consequences that stem directly from my POV. I also don't care if there is, which some people find somewhat odd, considering how many times I've been doxxed and threatened. Simple analysis: I don't like bullies of any sort, and I have nothing in my personal whine cellar for these Neanderthals past serving up a coldly savage sense of acidic scorn where their individual idiocy is concerned. And I sure as Hell am not going to be intimidated by any mouth-breathers who idolize a man who doesn't even know how to correctly close an umbrella.

As I've said before, both publically and online, I don't care if you think differently, as long as you're actually thinking to begin with, which is where that whole crowbar separation of civilized debate comes into play. If at any point that you find yourself online, you can without much exploration, find levels of focused stupidity so mind-bogglingly dense, you'd almost think that you were dealing with barely sentient slabs of osmium*, sporting a confederate flag tattoo, along with one of those China-made MAGA hats.
[This metallic element BTW, packs 22 grams into 1 cubic centimeter, or more than 100 grams into a teaspoonful. Definitely the workout to lift a sugar spoon of this stuff, let me tell you.]

And to be fair, both sides of the political coin are guilty of this, myself included, albeit to a severely limited degree. After all, it is seemingly quite impossible to engage in civilized debate when your opponent consistently leaves the realms of both logic and reality in order to avoid facing the truth that their so-called argument is based on no more than ether and lies.

To quote English-born American political activist Thomas Paine: "To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.'

In my opinion, your average alt-righter, stereotypically armed only with a slimy miasma of homophobic, xenophobic, racist, misogynistic, and utterly paranoid incel fantasies, is the biggest danger that the United States currently faces. No need to worry about who's outside the house when the serial killer is not only inside, but has decided to bring all the members of his Klan, the spelling of which is most decidedly accurate in relation to this analogy. Sadly, due to both my business, creative and social justice interests, I find myself spending way too much time online, and this has regrettably lead to my fomenting a rather cynical world-view of my fellow primates at times.

Keep in mind that I'm a true adherent whereas the positives of the Web are concerned, but I'm also not going to ignore the depravity that comes cloaked within it's darkest recesses, either. Underpinning the infrastructure of the pixilated juggernaut otherwise known as social media, is the joyless truth that all the interconnectivity it offers comes with one hell of a door cover- that being all the people who used to scream on street corners and brood at your local dive bar, now have access to finding others of their ilk, who are as equally dredged from the same hate-mutated genetic cesspool they spawned from.

I've had my life seriously threatened, been doxxed repeatedly, have had no less than three separate and disturbingly focused cyber stalkers, along with one ultimately cravenly, yet
in-my-face antagonist, all because I tend to use these things called "facts" when I am forced to engage with these, the lowest of the muttonheads. However, as I stated earlier, it's really almost damn near laughable for anyone to think they can intimidate me on any level, thanks to the verity of my waking up every morning with a monster inside me who is throwing out every trick it can to aid in hastening my eventual demise. So when you get right down to brass tacks, I don't really sweat the trivial to be quite frank, especially when the so-called "threat" to my safety hails from a fatuous group of people who believe that not only is Pizzagate a real thing, but that our Mango Mussolini is a real president.

That's the beauty of Diabetes- it really does help set the bar for personal standards in regards to one's bravery, if I do say so myself.

Speaking of individual bravery, that also seems to be a quality that most Americans seem to be lacking as of late, especially in regards to stepping up as it were, in order to maintain and protect what used to be in sentiment at least, a civil society. It would be awfully hypocritical of me to try and defend how I've stereotypically approached those I have found to be appalling in both their word and deed, as the level of fiery acidity I've been known to allot is sometimes akin to Smaug* after suffering the indignity of having a scrabble of thoughtless Shire-rats leave footprints all over his hoard of just-polished gold.
*[Smaug is a dragon in J. R. R. Tolkien's 1937 novel The Hobbit. He is a powerful and fearsome dragon, according to his publicist, but we all know how those people are paid to embellish, so take that with a grain and a half of salt. In addition, I'm also pretty sure he's a lot older than it says on his headshot, just sayin'.]

Now some people might claim that the current attitude that is ostensibly steering our society towards the abyss is nothing more than a symptom of what is feebly passing for moral leadership in this country, and that is a valid point, if not a truly worrying concern for our future, in regards to our standing and legacy. Granted, while the utopian vision of a unified America once depicted by Norman Rockwell has never been even remotely correct, I honestly still cannot recall any time in my life where so much unbridled and biased venom was disseminated in such a swath of vast measure, and I say this as someone who was once described as having a switchblade for a tongue.

Even on my best day with all of my Ninja ferrets lined up, the label of acidic curmudgeon would not only be appropriate, it might even be considered an act of selfless, if not downright charitable diplomacy, depending on how much access one has within my circle of influence. As a rule of thumb, I'm not a fan of people, but I do dig Humanity as a general construct- it's a cool idea overall, even given the inanity of turning the running of the universe over to a bunch of squabbling monkeys who despite having all of the worlds information at their phalanges, still refer to a bronze-age collection of orally transcribed fairytales to guide their arrogantly self-righteous decisions regarding science and morality.

The writer Voltaire once quipped that “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him”, and I do believe that he may have been on to something with that thought of sheer wit, as the residents of the human zoo prove time and time again that they will fight tooth and nail to believe that data regarding global warming, institutionalized privilege, and the ongoing cancer of rampant misogyny is counterfeit, but concurrently, have willingly accepted a mishmash of angels, magical thinking, FOX propaganda, and the Deep State as a pinnacle of rectitude.

The woeful refrain of "this is not the country I grew up in" has been bandied about quite a bit recently, but sadly, it's notably imprecise, even when one factors in the influence of the intellectually negated red hat cult that currently slithers among us. Our contemporary miasma of racism, misplaced jingoism, misogyny, and outright xenophobia targeted specifically at certain minority groups and non Christ-based religions are not symptoms of an unforeseen disease- they're simply the most recent metamorphosis of a far older and equally virulent strain fermented by those who derive power and/or profit from the manipulation of willful ignorance and the fueling of a 24/7 cycle of stoked irrational fears borne by a biased and algorithm-driven dissemination media system.

In the plainest form of the Queens English that I can present, we're getting played, and the saddest part is we plainly did it to ourselves- I'll explain. We got way too comfortable having a president who not only could speak in full sentences, but who was also aware of what the responsibility of the office is, unlike the Mango Mussolini who's larded ass is now taking up space in the highest seat of power within our land. We viewed his ignorant mass with trivial disdain and mockery, and we are all now paying for the combined decisions of his ill-bred base, and our dismissal of what they could do as a unified front.

In spades, no less.

The narrative we follow has been crassly tailored by agenda-driven media overlords to reflect our views, and our views alone, no matter what evidence or data is introduced into the equation. To be clear, I'm not referring to crackpot theories, or unfounded conspiracy tales- I'm noting the crowbar separation between actual debate versus talking at someone for no other motivation than to hear your own "voice".

Over the last decade or so, I've built quite the reputation as a savagely focused snark, and to be quite honest, I enjoy the fuck out of it. If one were to glance at my Instagram feed*, they would note that not only are there multiple postings about my art and literary endeavors, I'm also quite unabashedly open about my concept of social justice- this in the form of screenshots that I've pulled from my interactions on Twitter** with the nescient hordes of Trumplethinskins that roam it's wastelands, vainly searching for an America that never existed, and never will.

And to be fair, making a Trumpflake look ridiculous is parallel to shooting fish in a barrel with an M1 Abrams tank. It's so easy that anyone who's ever read a book could do it, and without even breaking a sweat, I might add. Heck... I know three year olds who can structure a better counter-argument than most of these slack-jawed, knuckle-dragging, intellectually deceitful troglodytes, even if you remove the factor that overall, they tend to be far more mature than the majority of this corpulent ilk.

I once received a very nice e-mail from a "fan" based in Sweden, (and who went on at some length) to let me know that while he liked my artistic deeds overall, he pretty much followed my page solely for the sheer ruthlessness that I set free upon those who possess the arrogance to tell me what a true American supposedly is- you know, the crowd that talks glowingly about their right to free speech, but then screeches at you to leave the country if you dare use the same in opposition? These are also the same idiots who as minimum-wage monkeys, think that rich people create jobs, that money trickles down to the masses, and that financially raping the poor for war is ok, but supporting truly vital infrastructure and healthcare is somehow the worst kind of socialism- a word that the majority of them repeat, yet fail to grasp it's meaning, no matter how many times it's explained to them using hand puppets.

But wait, you utter- isn't my complaining about the lack of civility while using the most discourteous terms to describe a sectioned sampling of my fellow Americans somewhat hypocritical? Well... yes from a certain POV, but I'm oddly ok wearing that hair shirt at the moment, and I'll explain why. If I happen to be engaged with someone who's rational and armed to the teeth with a counter defense based solely on facts, I tend to be gregarious as heck. But the odds are generally two-to-one that won't be the case when I happen to be debating online. In person, people tend to be exceedingly more measured with their ad hominem attacks versus when they're given free rein within a forum where remaining anonymous and being protected by the shadows of the Internet is key to their over-inflated sense of faux bravado.

In other words, like most (if not all) bullies, the feeble posturing of these pitifully alt-right Trumpflakes reminds us consistently that no matter the context of what they say, most of their ideological spine still hails from their bogus contention that their opinions are in reality, the purest of American values which are to be lauded, versus being despised for what they justly represent- that being the distillation of the most vile of human character flaws. Anyone who willingly empowers or gives support to the concepts of systematic racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and rabidly unfounded jingoism all at the expense of facts and their inherent humanity, should not be afforded the same basic courtesies one would typically extend to a human being with a functioning aptitude in regards to their ability for critical thinking, just saying.

One of the major cornerstones in maintaining a civil and polite society is the concept of holding others to their personal responsibility for actions both positive and negative- a theory that predates the socialization of tribes into postmodern cities. To be fair, it's a nice thought, but it's also one that's been pretty much tossed out the window since the Internet originated. Today's modern lack of awareness can debatably be chalked up to an equal amalgamation of willful ignorance and intellectual laziness, capped with an overinflated sense of self-righteousness that without the proper protocols in place, can take what is normally as benign as milk and mutate it into pure toxicity. And when one takes into account the deceitful agenda of troll farms and their free-roaming bots, attempting to clear up the murkiness that hinders the clarity of communication only gets that much harder to achieve.

So what's the solution? Well, while we cannot (and should not) regulate free speech, we can (and should) draw some definitive lines in the metaphorical sand to both lessen the acidic vileness of our electronic discourse, and to reign in the faceless poltroons that skulk it's outlands. And as usual, I may have an idea or two as to what those might be. Not to worry, you don't have to thank me- your fawning admiration and inconsistent sexting is payment enough. First, if there's one consistent annoyance I've always had in regards to the world wide web, it's the glaringly obvious fact that the anonymity of social media has made it far too easy to be disrespectful and threatening to strangers, while avoiding the sorely needed consequence of getting punched in the face for it.

I'm half-joking of course, since violence is never THE answer, but it's still on the list of solutions, nonetheless. As famed artist Jack Kirby (the creator of Captain America) once stated in an interview*: "The only real politics I knew was that if a guy liked Hitler, I’d beat the stuffing out of him and that would be it." Speaking from my POV, I have zero issues with anyone who for a myriad of valid reasons, may decide to punch out an avowed Nazi devotee, no matter how morally grey it might be to those who prefer a more peaceful path, but I think as far as ethical transgressions go, it ranks very low on my scale of personal no-no's. Besides, we need to make these alt-right jackasses pay for their ruination of khakis and tiki-torches, and beating them flat is as good a place as any to start.

And to clarify, I won't belittle anyone due to their possibly having a differing opinion than mine, I only engage in focused disparagement when that opinion is based on nothing more than willful ignorance and paranoid fear-mongering. To wit, your average inbred Trumpflake. As noted earlier, I don't care if you think differently, I care if you're thinking in the first place, and the art of critical overview is clearly out of the average Trumpeters reach. To illustrate my point, a difference of opinion is "I prefer tea over coffee", versus "the Jews will not replace us", by way of example. Glad I could clear that up. So the first step I see that should be undertaken to form a more sedate internet experience is to get rid of the shadowy shelter that being anonymous affords.

I've always advocated that if you truly believe in something, you should stand behind it publicly, and if you can't, the odds are probably that you already know that what you're failing to guard is either indefensible or wholly abominable to the greater majority of your fellow humans.
[See: "Trump's character", "Trump's policies", "Trump's statements", etc.]

I have never used or hidden behind, a fake name or a fake account, and I for one, don't give a rat's ass if you like what I say or not. But then again, I'm not pushing a rabidly loathsome agenda, either. That does make things significantly easier in the long run, and being called a liberal when I already self-identify as such is hardly the exposure I fear. In my opinion, "calling" someone out for something they already take unwarranted pride in can bite you in the keister sometimes. But there is a silver lining to this overview, that being the fact that to a person, your average Trumpflake cannot handle being mocked, not even a little bit. You can point out the numerous flaws in their self-styled "thinking", and even straight out state that they're much more comfortable inside their sister than they are in their flag-print lounge pants, but if you so much as dare to laugh at them, the resulting implosion is like watching a lard bomb go off at a NASCAR fried food on a stick stand. And they definitely don't appreciate being labeled as racist.

Call them misogynistic? No problem. Uneducated? They'll happily agree. Flat out note that they allegedly have
raw-dog BDSM sex with underage ducklings? Not only will they willingly admit to it, they'll proudly show you the glossy full color 8 x10's and accompanying HD video of them engaged in the act.

These people live for the moments where they can be horrible, much in the manner of how a five year old looks forward to Christmas morning. But as grunge icons NIRVANA once proclaimed: "Laugh hard at the absurdly evil", because once you do, you strip all of it's power away, and that's key in how one needs to deal with these people. Mel Brooks was once asked why he put Nazi's in almost every one of his movies and he responded by noting that Nazi's were, and I'm paraphrasing here, "funny"- his point being that you can't be hurt by those you find beneath contempt, especially when you're too busy laughing in their face.

By far, the best way to neuter these deplorables is to no longer allow them the undeserved privilege of being able to hide within a fetid cave of cowardice using the cloak of virtual anonymity as a loathsome dermis. If they truly believe in the vitriolic acidity they spew, than they should be equally ok with everyone they know seeing it presented under their real name. If I can do it, so can they, but they don't and won't. And we all know why, don't we? It's because they know their purported beliefs are either reprehensible, asinine, or corrupt to the point of being utterly incompatible with the values and valid concerns of the majority, to which they do not belong, and never will.

It never ceases to amaze me how fast these steely warriors of the keyboard turn into spineless pools of flan once they're brought out kicking and screaming into the light of public scrutiny. When it comes right down to the tanned orange worshiping hacks, these hurlers of the snowflake slur are the biggest candy-asses of all. I've taken a great amount of guff from these cravens, but I've also given as well as I've gotten, and it hasn't been boring yet, if I do say myself, and I do. In any average week, I manage to get scores of fake profiles and bots removed from the various social media platforms, and with my ongoing Anti-Trump postcard project*, aimed solely at the cultists of the mango Mussolini, my personal consensus of being truly self-entertaining seems to be holding water. At best guess, I've sent out at least 300+ of these personalized missives highlighting his and the GOP's hypocrisy / idiocy, and as it goes on, I'm enjoying myself more and more.

*[Seriously. This is such a fun thing to do. The spark-joy is immense.]

Ideally, the structure of this somewhat silent protest all comes back to one central thought I'd love to see materialize in person- the knowledge of realizing that after going out to your mailbox that you're no longer hidden from the eye of a Karmic society. I'd assume it must be chilling to say the very least, and that it might make one give serious pause to their approach concerning civil discourse, knowing they've been fully exposed like a Hermit Crab to the midday sun- in theory, of course. And I'm also perfectly fine with the fallout and backlash these cravens suffer due to their being unmasked- nobody is an "accidental" anything on the internet, especially where the most vile of human character is concerned, and we all know it, so spare me the whole apology/non-apology sentiment and move on.

As we've seen from past examples, the greater part of those affected by having their vitriolic facade laid bare tend to claim either the dubious mantle of being the true victim of their own actions, or of being misunderstood, rather than exuding genuine remorse or a sense of understanding as to why they're being taken to task in the first place. I have zero sympathy for anyone who threatens, harasses, or slurs their fellow human being from under the internet's bed, and then gets tagged on social media for it. Poor babies. You literally asked for the attention, and now that you've got it, you want to complain?

I for one, have always been flummoxed by the dizzying leap of logic concerning the "I'm not a _____ , I just say and support _____ things, even though I'm so not that.", defense. If you're actually underpinning abominable actions with your support, I don't care if you're Mother Theresa on your off hours- you're still an appalling person, no matter how you try (and fail) to spin it. And therein lies one of the main hurdles in regards to the issue with these Cult of the Red Hat members- how will we as a society reintegrate people who have no interest interacting with a reality that isn't a paranoiac version of the Matrix?

The simple truth is that after years of unchecked and crazed fear-stoking by the sleazy offal that passes for the right-wing media in this country, most of this over-armed ilk is only one MRE and a camo t-shirt away from going into their bunker and plotting all-out civil war, and all they're waiting on is any thing they can claim as a justified signal to go ahead and set it off. Let's face it, when you're dealing with a nationwide community that believes 100% that Hilary Clinton is running a sex slave ring out of a pizza restaurant, but not in Global Warming, it's not as if you have a lot of intellectual clay to work with in the first place, if you catch my drift.

Gah. But do you know who should be dealing with these slack-brained sheep? The social sites themselves. For all their blustery posturing, I've yet to see the grand and sweeping changes these fraudulent collectors of data claim they're currently enacting. I do see that the most vile characteristics of mankind are disseminated all over these conduits for cravens, but I've yet to see any so-called celebrity banned or held accountable for any of the bile they spew, that we as ordinary citizens get hammered for, so you conservajerks can pretty much stuff your hollow claims of the "Liberal Media" being anything more than your wretched need for a digital boogeyman.

If we peons all have to follow the rules, so should the Trumps and Lahrens of the world, but we all know that's never going to happen, because their deliberate controversies keep the ad revenue up, and that's what these corporations truly care about- keeping their coffers filled, and their stockholders financially fat, screw whatever the consequential fallout may be, as they turn a blind eye to the problem. Russia influenced our election? Old news. The Alt-Right is inciting violence against minorities by means of faux content? What do you expect us to do, hold them wholly accountable? Anonymous rape cultists attack women online 24/7? Maybe they could try smiling more when they receive those unsolicited dick pics, am I right?

I for one, have always thought there must be a better way to untangling this, the most of uncivil Gordian Knots, so let me toss out a few ideas past my previous notion of stripping away the cowardly cloak of anonymity:

1) The ratings on the Wall.

Like most of the entertainment that we find ourselves exposed to, maybe it's time for a rating system that ranks websites/posted content based solely on accuracy and an ability to hold up under fact-checking. This I feel, would definitely neuter most of the racism, misogyny, alt-facts and Islamaphobia with a rusty chainsaw, as it should be. I'm not entirely sure what the symbol highlighting the false content could be represented by, but I am confident that Trump's red hat icon would be a supremely apt choice. Granted, I don't know at this point if it's even remotely possible to regulate the cancer of faux info that's wretchedly intertwined itself with our lack of civility, but I would sure as hell appreciate seeing an effort made to do so.

If my local news can run a concurrent stream of fact-checked information, so could these monoliths, if they so desired, but they're not going to do what they ethically should, unless they're forced to, and that opens up an even bigger Pandora's box, no matter how you look at it. How would one go about the minutiae of consistently enforcing the "truth" on the Web, and who would get to set the parameters for what constitutes the Truth in the first place? More importantly, what would the penalties be, and how many could you accrue before having the severest one applied?

2) Got Bots?

This ties in with my earlier assertion of eradicating the safety of hiding in the shadows- if you're bold enough to post something abominable on the web, then you should be brave enough to stand behind it 100%, with no exceptions. The fact that many won't only proves that the majority of these cravenly trolls already know their POV will be mocked or outright dissected. But concurrently, there exists an issue almost as annoying and troubling, that being the proliferation of fake accounts and "bots". A bot (aka: socialbot or socbot) is an autonomous agent foisted upon social media which is tasked with influencing the opinions of the people it interacts with. Operating as the pixilated version of flying monkeys, and usually under some form of human control, they express certain ideas, such as supporting a campaign for instance, by presenting as an advocate/fan and attempts to gather others under their false flag with deceit. These bots exploit the mistaken belief that behind every social media profile there's an actual human, and utilize that flawed idea to further whatever cause they're sadly programmed to disseminate.

Easy to spot, due to limited posts vs follower base, profiles marked with a private status, and an inability to handle the minutiae of a direct conversation, they throttle debate and the clarity of free speech by muddying the waters, and sadly, it's been darn effective. If the social platforms really want to provide a truly clear path to discourse, then their priorities need to incorporate the eradication of this scourge by salting the earth from which it spawns.

3) Box the Doxx.

As I noted earlier, there exists a morass of metaphorical land mines one must wander through when attempting to freely express one's opinion on the web- these range from mild rebukes to displays of outright aggressive behavior that borders on the sociopathic, if not the terrifying. The pinnacle of this presentation solidified as the repulsively successful vehicle of Doxxing. But what is that, exactly? Doxxing is the vile web-based practice of researching and then distributing, private or identifiable information about an individual or organization, in a somewhat personally psychotic attempt at disrupting or causing harm to a person's reputation and sense of personal safety.

The methods employed to acquire this information typically involve searching publicly available databases and social media websites, such as Facebook and the like. In essence, it's pixilated anonymous terrorism, perpetuated by the most contemptible of our society who walk around freely masquerading as fellow humans. This menacing correspondence runs the gamut, covering everything from threats of sexual assault to grievous bodily harm, and this needs to be addressed seriously, and with great haste. As noted earlier, the somewhat aggravating experience of having been harassed by no less than three pathetically gutless cyber-stalkers, along with the standard compliment of online trolls, prompts me to attest that it can be an experience in unchecked paranoia.

As I stated earlier as well, I already have an interior monster that's dedicated to the cause of ending my time on this planet, I don't give much, if any credence when threats are thrown in my general direction, because in the end, they're pretty much the masturbatory fantasies of impotent cravens, and nobody has the time or energy for that. Sadly, most local law enforcement agencies are way behind the 8-ball when it comes to taking these oft-valid threats seriously.

When I was living in Phoenix, the first officer I talked to in regards to the numerous death threats I was receiving had all the interest (and physical appearance) of a barely sentient slab of pork towards doing anything of note- in essence, he was a complete and total lummox, even going so far as to say the following: "This is no more than two guys meeting behind the gym, and I'm pretty sure what this person is doing isn't even illegal."

He then went to lecture me that if this individual showed up at my home and attacked either my GF or myself, I could be charged with assault because I had stated earlier that I would kick his ass if he did. No joke. And we're asked to support our local police? The only thing I'd support is if that particular officer went and got gastric-band surgery, because his ass was wider than my kitchen. Fortunately, the AZ state police were way more legally educated and interested towards helping me, and the case remains open.

Eventually, we'll find this loser, and let the chips fall where they may, that being primarily down his cowardly throat. Now a few of you might point out the detail that in regards to my "postcard project"  I utilize some of the same techniques that these slugs do, so shouldn't I be within the same category? For that, I'd issue a strong "Oh Hell no"- I for one, don't make the private information of the recipients of my mailed missives public, and I don't threaten them either. If anything, it's a very private way of hopefully changing a specific mental facet for some of these otherwise rational people, and I'll stand behind this conviction of mine 100%.

So, in closing the lid of this particular box, I'll just opine that nationwide and consistent legislation should be set so that this type of cravenly online harassment constitutes a felony that comes with some severely draconian penalties, whether they be imprisonment, fines, restitution to the affected, or the loss of access to the web for a limited time. Want to spew threats? Then get ready to face the consequences of such.

Gah. I don't know about you, but I could use a break. And some tacos. Lots of tacos.

And when I come back, I'll delve into the two topics I originally wanted to talk about- my slow integration into Silver City's local art scene, and my dawning realization that books are seemingly my personal form of heroin, and how I may have just found the perfect dealer of literature within my adopted city.

Cue Lou Reed's "Waiting on the Man".

"Civility, politeness, it's like a cement in a society: binds it together. And when we lose it, then I think we all feel lesser and slightly dirty because of it." - Jeremy Irons

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

2018 11 Lard of the Dunce (The Liar Sleeps Tonight)

"We're going to have to agree to disagree."- Steven, from the AZ Atty. General's Office, as he shirked (in my POV) the responsibility he is tasked to carry forth. By the way, he said this four times in lieu of answering the simple question I asked.

"I'm not giving legal counsel."- Rebekah, (Steven's boss) when asked to clarify his
contradictory non-answer while simultaneously threatening me with legal action..

Hello Blogiteers!

Today's screed is all about honesty, integrity, and doing the right thing for the right reasons, and not just when it's the obviously and only thing to do. I'll also highlight the new definition of what "public service" entails, courtesy of a by the script desk-drone who literally and metaphorically, serves as the epoxy and amber analog that greases the wheels of progress. As an added bonus, I'll be discussing beforehand my first official Halloween as a New Mexico suburbanite, and wrap it all up by gleefully capping off a previous dissecting of my former supervisor, (who fired me for being diabetic) in regards to her fabrication of character slurs as a means towards deflecting the discrimination complaint I filed in regards to the same, and my interactions with the hopeless agents tasked to investigate it.

There's also the tangent arc of celebrating our first Xmas in New Mexico as well, but that's maybe a topic for the next blog methinks, due to the sheer volume of writers grist. And as usual, all of this will be presented as I stand here, spewing the milk of human kindness that I'm so well-regarded for.

But first... the ol' abode finally looks like an actual house, now that I'm somewhat mobile and able to hang some of the massive stockpile of art we arrived here with. Seriously. I thought we wouldn't have enough art, due to our now being in a three bedroom house and all, but as it turns out, we have way more art than walls, and in concurrence, a garage full of artsy stuff, all of which I need to catalogue and then hopefully organize. I don't know about you, but I love projects of the endless, and this seems as it will be one, given all I have to do. As far as my health goes, I'm still walking with a cane, but in time, I hopefully won't be, I'll just have to grit my teeth, and wait and see, no matter how snazzy it makes my overall ensemble look.

Moving on, we now come to the aforementioned past Halloween details, all the way from the beautiful vista that comprises the very heart of my Lair of Snarkitude, this located just outside the magnificent panorama that is Silver City, New Mexico. To start,  Ashley and I had 143 trick or treaters at our domicile, the largest grouping we've ever happily jazzed up on chocolate and sugar. This was due to our former residence being on the third floor of a way past it's glory days apartment complex, and since there were very few kids in our particular section of the quad, and for the ones that bravely endeavored to go out and up, it was only the truest of the die-hards that ever took on the challenge of the vertical ascent. And keep in mind, we like to give out the "big" candy... in fistfuls no less, the kind most kids dream about.

So there we were, up to our necks in Batmans, princesses, ninjas, Transformers, a few adorable witches, some sardonic cowboys, and most disturbingly in numbers too large to chart, the Grim Reaper, aka the vision of Death. It seems even the youngest of children were inadvertently projecting the most cynical of auras this now passed year, and I really can't blame them, given the current socio-political climate, which seems to be an all-out homage to 1930's Berlin where the Sturmabteilung* of old has been replaced with the abhorrent Cult of the Red Hat, who much in the same manner, would happily throw their perceived "enemies" into an oven if their Mango Mussolini demanded it of them. I truly believe that some form of attempted civil war is coming if Cadet Bone Spurs gets his way, and I think it will be a true test of what America wishes to represent to the world entire, and where it's citizens are willing to draw a line in the sand in regards to Trump's inherent (and evident) fascism.
*[The Sturmabteilung, literally Storm Detachment, was the Nazi Party's original group of paramilitary thugs. They played a noteworthy role in Hitler's taking control of power in the 1920s and 1930s. Their key purposes were to provide protection for Nazi gatherings, and to disturb the activities of opposing parties. They were also referred to at times as the "Brownshirts" (aka: Braunhemden)]

Sorry. I didn't mean to bum everybody out with the harsh realities and the crisis of American conviction that we find ourselves currently facing, it was just an off the cuff observation that I needed to get off my chest before I started strangling wayward ferrets
or as a secondary plan, the people behind those Magic Bullet infomercials. Getting back to the spooky cuteness, there we were, up to our overly-candied necks in sugar-crazed children, their laid-back yet attentive, parents, and to a T, all of them were freezing their candy-corns off, since the temperature outside our warm and inviting home was hovering somewhere around the low 40's.

And to top that off, our neighborhood gets dark as pitch- the minute the sun dips below the horizon, it's as if the art-worlds largest tube of Vantablack* gets squeezed all over Grant County, I kid you not. You might think you know what the Realm of Morpheus is, but you've never seen it like it is out here- vampires would adore it, depressed poets would pen love-sonnets on the subject of it, and the truest of Goths would kidnap the relevant** members of The Cure, and set up shop here ASAP.
*[Vantablack® is a super-black coating that at this time, holds the world record as the darkest man-made substance. It absorbs virtually all incident light- if truth be told, It reflects so little light that it is often described as the safest black hole we'll ever observe. In fact, it is so black that when applied to 3-D objects, it becomes almost impossible to distinguish any surface features, thereby effectively rendering those objects to appear as two-dimensional to the human eye- science is cool, is it not?

**The following members are safe from the fear of being kidnapped: Michael Dempsey, Gary X, and Mark Ceccagno. It's not that they're bad musicians, they're just not important enough to break out the name-brand eyeliner, black nail-polish, clove cigarettes, and the good chair with attached handcuffs for.]

After a few hours of ruining children's appetites for days, we packed up the sweets, hit the sack, and upon rising the next morning I started the process of dealing with a previous issue that had semi-smooshed my good mood some time back on two separate levels- the first being that the AZ. Attorney Generals Office Civil Rights Division (AZAGCRD for short) who while claiming to use all of it's self-professed wisdom, still puzzlingly denied my valid and disturbingly obvious discrimination claim against my former employer via what could only be charitably described as a form letter larded in sarcasm and saccharine, and the second, that in it's doing so, it forced me to endure the supreme displeasure of having to interact with their (in my POV) vastly inept, if not wholly odious representative, a truly bloviating bureaucrat who thickly traipses his way through life under the inappropriate name of Steven.

Why is it inappropriate? Well, the name Steven is derived from the Greek name Stephanos, which means "crown", or to be more precise- "that which surrounds". The first Christian martyr Saint Stephen, whose death by stoning helped popularize the name, definitely suffered enough to the point he shouldn't have to hear daily from Jesus how the standing of his good name has been besmirched by this person carrying it, if I were inclined to issue an assessment. The only thing this Steven has ever managed to surround in my humble opinion, is one's communal sense of optimism with the overriding stench of truly bureaucratic incompetence.

Normally, when I'm faced with a person whom I feel has their ethical and common-sense DNA sadly missing a vital link or two within it's code, I try not to go full Nazgûl* on them, but in this monotonous drones case, I'm more than happy to make the rare exception for no other reason than the fact he represents exactly what's wrong with the so-called publicly-funded service sector these days- empty promises, half-assed work, and a stunning dearth of personal responsibility.
*[The Nazgûl are known also as Ring-wraiths, Black Riders, Dark Riders, or more concisely, as the Nine- fictional characters who are first mentioned in J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. As the story goes, they were nine men who had been seduced by the power of the fallen spirit known as Sauron, inadvertently acquiring their hellish immortality as wraiths- servants bound to the power of the One Ring, and utterly under the command of Sauron.]

So what else adds to my personal-opinion-based detriment of character that this suspected amalgamation comprised of hubris and pudding skin possesses? Well...

I've stridently noted before both in life and in my screeds, that I utterly despise cowards. Cravens. Yellow-bellies. Chickens. Cats both Scaredy and Fraidy. Those who are faint of heart. The spineless. The lilly-livered. The just plain poltroon. Especially those who for whatever reason, cannot do anything except mouth platitudes off of a prepared script. In other words, the Vogons* of the world.
*[The Vogons are a fictional alien race from the planet Vogsphere- characters from the most excellent book The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe, written by the late Douglas Adams. They are partially responsible for the destruction of the Earth, in order to assist an intergalactic highway construction project for a hyperspace express route. Vogons are defined as slug-like, and vaguely humanoid, but are far bulkier than your average human.

Described as "one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy, not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous", and having "as much sex appeal as a road accident" they are also known for being the authors of "the third worst poetry in the universe". They are employed primarily as the galactic government's bureaucrats, which in all honesty, shouldn't really be a shock to anyone who's ever had to deal with anyone of this ilk and caste.]

I for one, cannot tolerate the stereotypical slavish sock-puppets of the bureaucratic Malebolge* that comprises what passes for state agencies in AZ. which are supposedly there to help it's most undefended and poorly under-represented citizens against those who would take advantage of them, whether that form takes shape as fate, corporations or lone individuals who abuse their authority.
*[This is the 8th circle referenced in Dante's Inferno, whose purpose is to hold those who've committed the abominable sin of Fraud. It is called Malebolge because it is divided into ten "bolge" [ditches] which are further separated into the following order of sinners: seducers and flatterers, simonists,[sellers of religious offices] diviners, astrologers, and magicians, barrators, [swindlers] hypocrites, thieves, fraudulent counselors, sowers of discord and schism, and finally, falsifiers of metals, persons, coins and words... so it's just like our modern-day Congress, but way more colorful.]

Now, you might be wondering why I seemingly possess a touch more scorn for this particular descendant of a family tree that allegedly has no branches, versus the truly dishonorable and lying sack of supposed unethical protoplasmic lard that is my former supervisor, but I'm pretty sure I can justify, if not rationalize, my opinion of the moment.

When I filed my legitimate claim of discrimination against my former employer, that being on the day of my illegal firing, I was informed the process could take anywhere from six months to a year, because, and I quote, the  "investigation" would be "extensive" and "in-depth". If you're a normal person, you might take this at face value to imply that your concerns would be addressed thoroughly and professionally, backed by the full authority of an agency created specifically to protect your rights as an employee and more importantly, as a person who's been unjustly treated. To that, all I can say is this- when you show your undiluted faith in the government to do the right thing by and for you, I just want to feed you cookies, read you a bedtime story, and pat you on the head as I tuck you into your race-car bed with it's pink unicorn bed-sheets, because you are one freakingly adorable rugrat.

It's that kind of optimism and child-like wonder that assures there will always be a market in America for adult-size footed pajamas, cherry-flavored vitamin water, and "yummy" Taco Bell, God willing and all that. In my personal experience, what happens when this agency supposedly gets to moving it's indolent bulk forward, is that you get to sit on your hands and wait, as a person who's sole responsibility is to examine the validity of cases wastes your time and the state's tax revenue as they earn their paycheck by deception, not dedication.

Allegedly, of course. Now, given the law of statistics, I'm sure there has to be at least one person who works there at present and truly deserves their pay and perks, just not the ones I've been dealing with. The overworked and underappreciated receptionists for example, who have to play the unfortunate referee as they hand you off to the various malcontents whose singular purpose is to feign sympathy as they shirk accountability and pass the buck. In addition, I had the truly unique pleasure of being lectured by Steven about how his having served in the Air Force somehow made him a much better American than myself, a person he claimed "did the work from a distance", whatever the frak that means.

To be honest, I wasn't aware that his possibly not having any options open to him after high school was something he should and could brag about, but far be it from me to shatter his fragile egotism regarding serving in the singular branch of the military whose role is to be a taxicab for the real soldiers doing the hard lifting that they on their best day, cannot. To bolster this outlook, I offer the following from a close family associate who was "in-country" for three tours during the Vietnam war, and said this to me when I was but a small child: "You go into the Air Farce (misspelling intended) when you're too much of a p***y to be a Marine, and not nearly gay enough to join the Navy."

Now, I don't know if that acidic (and definitely homophobic) sentiment is entirely correct, but I do feel I'd have far more to fear from a soldier who actually saw and was directly involved in ground force combat, rather then a cos-player who rode a desk, and fought the so-called fight from behind his whimsically mediocre stack of Post-it notes. To reference another friend who did join the Air Force several years ago: "the basic training here is like ten times easier than when I was in my High School ROTC."

But then again, should I really be impressed by a guy who's two M.A. degrees were issued by a college rated 15'th best for veterans, 23'rd best in the Midwest, and 56'th for best value, as ranked* by US News and World Report? Both of these by the way, were in the over-saturated field of Management, which is like saying you got a diploma in breathing oxygen- it's not really that impressive as far as degrees go, and if you doubt that, go ask any barista what they majored in, and the odds are pretty good it was that.

In fact, one might generate far more respect and goodwill by getting into Mc Donald's Hamburger University, which as of 2015, had over 300,000 future managers graduate, and in an odd side note, according to a previously issued Bloomberg report, Hamburger University was purportedly harder* to get into than the much better-known and idolized Oxford and Harvard. But then again, in order to do that type of job, one has to be good with people to begin with, and if my personal experience interacting with Steven has shown me anything, he's a people person much in the same way I can still wear a five-toed sock on my left foot- we can both believe what we want till the cows come home, but when directly challenged, we're both going to come up way short of our respective opinion.

See, the reality of my cynical worldview is that I don't expect much from my fellow human, past the basics of being hopefully decent to their related by biology brethren. And when it comes to those working for any form of government, my standards drop to whether or not they're borderline sentient. In which case Steven does easily qualify, but in my opinion, just barely. This guy definitely strikes my singular POV as someone who if he does own any books, most likely uses them as beer coasters, and if he doesn't, my extended gut feeling is that they're the types of books that involve either pop-ups or lots of colorful pictures... allegedly, of course.

But let's be fair, I could be wrong. The odds are at least 50/50 anyway, and it's not like governmental jobs have allowance for any personal creativity, empathy or human decency to begin with, so maybe I'm being a tad bit harsh. Unkind. Perhaps somewhat callous, Even possibly unsympathetic at best. All of these are a distinct option, especially when one factors in the detail that they dismissed my case to begin with, all while not really clarifying why they did so. Along those lines, one might be able to reasonably opine that my take on the situation is just the end product of sour grapes, and nothing more.

But as an applicable side note, does my being diabetic even merit the so-called protection of the law? Well... except for a few key points of discussion such as the mitigating measures of medication use when determining whether an individual is a qualifying person with a disability, a person may have diabetes completely under control through medicine and lifestyle changes, and still have a qualifying disability. That means that for the purpose of defining said disability, the laws look at how the person would be if they stopped treating diabetes in any way, as such, diabetes IS covered under the American Disabilities Act, a provision of the law which I filed my complaint under.

Granted, I don't consider myself (even with all of my health issues) as even remotely disabled, I tend to refer to the situation on my part as being "physically limited" in what I can and can't do. Is it annoying and at times, wholly soul crushing? You betcha. But life never has and never will, play fair, and you need to attempt a win with the cards you've been unfortunately dealt, no matter what. That's just how it is, and you have to make peace with it, like it or not. So in order to do that for this case, I'm going to argue my point and I'll just let my account filter far and wide as it will.

But first... the obligatory back-story. Now, if this were a film, this would be the part where there's a dissolve, (possibly with a subtitle) to let you know where all of us have wound up regarding the aspects of time, place, and past history, so I'll just post a version of it here, courtesy of that most excellent film, Wayne's World:

The whole hot-mess started way back in 2017, near the end of the year, as where I worked underwent a rather abrupt change, both in personnel and management style. Sadly, due to my age, health, and most importantly, my salary expectations, I was no longer considered a valuable asset within the industry to which I had given nearly 25 years of my life and skill-sets.  So, I was unfortunately strong-armed by Life into having to be a warehouse worker, a job that was both unsatisfying, unchallenging, and underpaid, but it was what it was. As I stated in the nicest terms above, Life is a mother-f***ing bitch sometimes, and even worse- sometimes one comes into your almost bucolic workplace fully girded, ready to prove that maxim as if they're expecting to win all the prizes for doing so.

At first, my new supervisor came across as somewhat sweet, even with her internal Damocles sword of self-doubt that was fairly and evidently displayed from day one in regards to how she ran our day to day operation. To be fair, there was a good chunk of days where we ran like a fine Swiss watch protected by Saint Joseph* himself, but on a majority of the days, it was akin to trying to swim through molasses with concrete blocks tied around your feet, as you try in vain to settle down a headstrong three year old who's having a full-on meltdown, as they grab all the candy out of the racks next to the cash register at WalMart.
*[Saint Joseph BTW, is the overextended patron saint of workers.]

And believe it or not, I'm actually being diplomatic here, so you can just imagine how much more room there is to be had if I decided I didn't want to be. When I originally started working for this family-owned frame molding distributor that established itself back in 1954, I did so with a very heavy heart- being aged out of an industry you've loved since you started in it f***ing hurts, and miserably, there were exceedingly few viable options open to me at that point, based solely on the parameters of my age and health.

As I said earlier, Life is a mother-f***ing bitch, and when she's pissed off, y'all gonna suffer, no matter what you try to stave off her advances. But in all honesty, there were some positives- the Universe does ascribe to the concept of equilibrium for the sake of it all as we well know, and it manifested itself in the aspect of my immediate supervisor and my only other co-worker at the time. I'm not going to name them unless I can do it via aliases, since I still respect the hell out of them, and they deserve at the very least not to be spattered with my saturnly venomous acidity. I do try to pull my punches when the wrong people unfortunately find themselves in my line of sight, so therefore, I really do have nothing bad whatsoever to say about either of them. 

Seriously- "Garry" and "Fernando" are great people, and they both deserved better from this company than what they've received, hands down. One of the immediate salves concerning my unfortunate employment at this company was the fact that we were a dedicated and cohesive team- we kicked ass, took names, and promptly forgot them- you know, like you do. And the overall dynamic was great. Never in my working life have I ever enjoyed the company of my co-workers like I did with these guys, and I truly miss that, if I have to be brutally honest. However, after "Garry" left for the wilds of Florida, due to some unethical (in my POV) shenanigans that derived from our out-of-state home office, that balance shifted for the worse, with the addition of two fresh faces- the previously referenced replacement supervisor who I'll name "Tonya" due to legal concerns, and a dense slab of inanity I'm more than comfortable labeling as "Dick".

And yes, "Dick" IS a truly appropriate name, of which I'll defend it's use further along in our story. When "Tonya'' and "Dick" came on board, I did expect somewhat of a
sea-change, but I didn't foresee what would eventually happen in regards to my work schedule, my responsibilities, and most importantly, my sense of self-worth. At the time, long before these two would go on to darken my metaphorical doorstep, I had already seen my hours cut way beyond the normal parameters of what constitutes a standard part-time schedule, the excuse being that we "didn't have enough work", and yet... "Dick" was given a full 40 hour work-week laboring at most of my previous responsibilities.

More on that in a bit.

Now at that point, I was still grinding along with the shoulder injury I had suffered while in the employ of the company, but as of then, had not yet filed the definitive workman's comp claim in regards to it, as I immediately did after my termination. Why, you ask? Well, I needed the job, and I still maintain that my employer was (previous to the arrival of "Tonya" and "Dick") trying to get rid of me by attrition. And quite frankly, I wasn't going to give them any additional ammunition necessary to fire me. Arizona is sadly after all, a right-to-work state, and I'm sure if the head office had been made aware of my limitations, a dire tidbit of knowledge I sense my ex-supervisor "Garry" neglected to inform them of on purpose, they would have fired me on the spot, and of that, I have no doubts whatsoever.

Keep in mind, that working with said injury only aggravated it more, but I had no choice. as there was literally nowhere I could go, and I had been SERIOUSLY looking for a new job since the first week I started there. But from the start of her tenure, besides being in way over her head, "Tonya" also took a highly inappropriate interest in my ongoing health issues past what one might consider to be the normal boundaries concerning the boss/worker relationship.

As regular readers of this blog know, I really don't have too many filters or fences in relation to the details I'm willing to share using the infrastructure of the Internet- I'm pretty much an open book, no matter what you may or may not, want to know. I've shared rather intimate minutiae of my chronic health issues, regaled my readers with the tale of posing nude for a fellow artist, complete with pictures no less, and in what I have been told was the purest distillation of the phrase "TMI", described what's it like to have a catheter fitted, complete with all the bells and whistles*. But even given that, I actually do have a few hard and fast rules.
*[I did have the joy of one of my surgical nurses telling me later that was the first time she had ever laughed at reading a description of the process, so I took that as a win.]

First, if you're not one of my trusted friends and/or inner circle, you don't get to talk to me as if you are, and that's pretty much a policy of zero-tolerance, which is not open for debate... ever. Second, while I may be willing to share such details, it's definitely never been presented as a blank check or two-way mirror for someone (who is a doctor in much the same way that Dr. Pepper is) to give me a consignment of unwanted, unnecessary, and self-righteous "advice"- if I didn't directly ask you for your opinion stranger, it's best you keep your yap shut, if you'd not like to make your dentist independently wealthy.

Just saying.

But since we're on the topic of unwanted advice, let's talk about the persons I worked with in regards to the issue of their individual health, shall we? After all, since I was fired for mine, I feel it's only fair to return the favor of over-focused intrusive meddling. What can I say? I'm a big believer in the art of giving. Let's start with "Dick", who had been in a horrific car accident some years earlier, and by my observation, was being held together primarily by Monster energy drinks, hyperactivity, and several types of pain medication.

Not to diminish what he amazingly survived, but it's collective recentness was a detriment in relation to the work environment. as was his innate arrogance, general idiocy, and toxic machismo, which was constantly butting heads daily with both myself and our direct supervisor, in relation to following orders and company protocol. As proof, I'd like to point out that the ratio of damaged and mislabeled goods along with customer returns shot up after he and my supervisor were employed, but I'm sure that's just a supreme coincidence.

According to my former employer, "Dick" was hired specifically to build additional storage bins in our warehouse, which he sort of did, but upon his hiring, he was given a much wider range of additional duties, as mine were gradually reduced. As I noted earlier, the consistent excuse being that we "didn't have enough work", and yet, "Dick" somehow always seemed to be assigned to a 40 hour week. Weird, that. Granted, he wasn't capable of entering the collected shipping data we and our customers required because it's hard to use a computer when you don't possess opposable thumbs, but I digress. And nothing else by the way makes you want to work alongside your co-worker on a commercial saw, then their bragging about engaging in hard drinking before 9 a.m., let me tell you.

Prior to the management shift, I was essentially an assistant manager, in all but name only, and was tasked with product shipping and tracking, material inventory, overseeing the receiving of deliveries, opening/closing the warehouse, and filing the crucial end of day paperwork. However, by the end of my tenure, my daily obligations had been brusquely abridged to sweeping the floor and occasionally doing the most basic data entry that the walking meat slab could not be trusted to do. I was also the lone official
key-holder, but after "Tonya" arrived, that responsibility was, without any form of rational explanation, taken away from me and never returned. Keep in mind, the entire time I was under employ there, I never once received any official rebuke, write-up, or period of suspension- EVER.

And as an aside, now might be a good time to mention that "Dick" on the other hand, seemed to think that screwing up was a daily challenge, along with consistently mansplaining things to our mutual supervisor- that is, when he wasn't engaging in screaming hissy-fits with the local homeless population that intermittently lived rough in the causeway behind our building. Truly, nothing represents your company better than one of your employees threatening a dispossessed person who's trying to just get some sleep, with a severe beat-down because they dared to attempt doing so in "your" alley, doesn't it?

Definitely a paragon of Christian values he is not, to quote Yoda.

To add an extra layer of icing to this Hieronymous Bosch cupcake, there was also the time he both called and then texted me, asking if I could set him up with some of my painkiller medication, because you know, that's the sort of thing I'd do for a co-worker I don't like, respect or fear. First off, I'm not in the habit of being the corner man, and second, the pain control meds I do take aren't opiates- they're strictly for nerve pain, and are pretty much useless in regards to the pain issues "Dick" faced. What a great work environment to come to three days a week, am I right? I mean, it's quite bad enough working a low-brain, dead-end job where everyday on the drive there, you have to to pump yourself up in order to face the hellhole you flippantly refer to as your workplace, but when it has to be done in the proximity of an ignorant, hyped-up, arrogant hamster, it becomes ten times worse.

This, after having a dynamic that actually worked for the better part of over a year before he and the new supervisor arrived. Oh well... c'est la vie.

But now, let's address the staggering self-righteousness of my former supervisor, who in my opinion, is nothing more than a fettleibiger lügnerin* at best, and that's me being really kind. Basically, having someone with multiple health issues daring to make unwanted and intrusive comments regarding my health as she has done, was both unprofessional and hypocritical, but that never seemed to cause her any mental pause as to doing it in the first place. In order for you to understand what I just declared, I will lay out the specifics for you, in order to clarify just why I despise this verräterischer feige** so much.
*[Go ahead and Google these. They're not only German, they're accurate.**Seriously, German is such a great language for describing peoples flaws.]

I've already covered my assertion that not only was she a terrible boss, but a virulent serial liar as well in an earlier blog, so I won't rehash it in full here, but as an added and final note as to her lack of character, I would like to reiterate that in her official statement to the AZAGCRD, she talks about her not caring one bit about my diabetes, whilst she constantly obsesses about my diabetes throughout it, and then after being questioned, almost immediately quits my former employer- a detail the so-called investigator somehow missed, despite her Jello-sharp instinct for ferreting out the obvious truth.
(That's heavy sarcasm for those of you in the back. Glad to help.)

The issue of whether I'm still going to seek outside legal satisfaction against my former supervisor remains hanging in the air, mainly due to the fact that the only thing she truly owns is her arrogance and the vast amounts of lard situated around her equatorially large ass, and God knows I already comprise enough of the first, and in reference to the second, I'm not really interested in acquiring anything that's been deep-fried that excessively. She may not have a pot to p*** in, but I'm pretty sure what she does have, she'd sure not like to lose, so we'll see how it goes.

It's already exhausting enough that I have to deal daily with the annoyance of having to explain the intimate technicalities of my disease to both friends and total strangers alike, but no one should have to put up with that ignorant s**t at work, especially from the person who has supreme authority over you. My former supervisor, already saddled with an extreme sense of being in over her head to begin with, was (at the time) also morbidly obese, and came to work daily wearing a knee brace, compression gloves, and talked at length about the salves she required for her bad back, so naturally, she was the obvious go-to for asking how I should tackle my various health issues.

Not to mention her penchant for eternally composing (on company time) a never sent e-mail to the company's owner, basically telling her to go f**k themselves twelve ways to Sunday. That's definitely an ethical way to justify earning your paycheck, no matter which way you look at it. And as an employee, it definitely boosts morale to have your superior constantly ragging on the top boss as if they dumped you at the Prom. Shockingly, I don't need to be told by what is essentially a total stranger, to "eat better" or that I "should be at home working on my diabetes" nor am I open to any suggestions that Ashley (my GF) doesn't know how to take care of me, an implication that if "Tonya" had been a dude, would have been definitely capped off with the shoving of my size 10&1/2 work-boots straight up that mass of extensive cellulite she refers to as her ass.

It's one thing to comment on my health when I asked directly for your opinion, it's quite another to start editorializing about it at length when it's unwarranted or not heralded. And this level of intrusiveness had only been escalating from the day she arrived, until my illegal firing a few months later. Speaking (or writing) of such... there's many a paragraph I could (and someday may) write about how AZAGCRD fumbled the ball in regards to my discrimination complaint, but for now, I'm only going to address a few fine points within the confines of my discussion of it- the first being the disturbing concern of Steven telling me directly: "we're not here to serve the public", and then going on to inform me that there was no way for the general public to find out the number (or if any) complaints had been filed against a specific company.

When firmly pressed regarding this contradiction of charter, Steven seemed almost offended that the thought of ordinary citizens having the right to access this vital information was even indirectly suggested. The nerve of the populace, wanting to be informed and all- how dare they even think that. The next thing you know, they'll be asking for the right to be treated with respect, and we all know where that'll lead...they'll be asking Steven and his incompetent ilk to investigate their complaints objectiv... oh, wait, THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO DO... or so I've been misinformed.

But here's where an additional slab of WTF gets added to this already steaming mound of bureaucratic baked hot icicles, and it's a doozy, even by the standards or lack thereof that most governmental agencies barely operate under. There does exist an extensive official transcript regarding the claim I've made, and my ex-supervisors retort, which was compiled by the AZAGCRD as a means of recording this data seemingly for no other reason then to claim it was done so, since the public cannot access it anyway.

Why is this waste of pixels labeled as a slab of WTF, you query? Well, I originally wanted to order one as a backup for my extensive pre-writing notes, and to have a solid reference of my ex-supervisors farcical allegations, slurs, and sheer fabrications she comprised out of ether and pure cowardice. You know... like someone who's interest in accuracy might do in order to defend their virtual position. So I went ahead and asked Steven to send me the particulars of the necessary formalities, which involved signing off on some red tape, and paying a twelve dollar fee, because somehow, this wholly taxpayer supported public entity is getting hit in the shorts by it's enormous digital duping costs.

Who knew that comprising a CD document was such a costly detriment to the cause of social justice? Now, while my initial dealings with Steven were strained, they were about to get much worse, because when the envelope arrived with all of the paperwork I had to sign before receiving said transcript, I noticed there was a non-disclosure document that had to be signed before anything would be released to me. So why did I have an issue with this, exactly?


Here's the definition: "A legally binding contract (also known as an NDA or confidentiality agreement) in which a person or business promises to treat specific information as a trade secret and not disclose it to others without proper authorization. Nondisclosure agreements are often used when a business discloses a trade secret to another person or business for such purposes as development, marketing, evaluation, or securing financial backing. A nondisclosure agreement will not protect trade secrets if the trade secret owner has not taken reasonable steps to keep the information secret."

Here's my issue with these bullshit CYA notes in relation to their use within government investigations: you can't claim your charter is to protect the public, then aggressively attempt to stop the public seeking out the relevant info it requires to make the best informed decision, so there was no way on this f***ed-up realm of the Aesir* that I was ever going to sign it, short of a serious threat requiring me to eat a combination plate consisting of undercooked haggis
**, and thousand-year-old-eggs***, all covered with a dressing of  rancid natto****- as if anyone could spy the difference to begin with.
[*The Aesir are the principal gods of the pantheon. They include many of the major figures, Odin, Frigg, Thor, etc. **A Scottish dish consisting of a sheep's or calf's "guts"mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasoning and boiled in a bag, traditionally one made from the animal's stomach. ***TYOE are a Chinese preserved food product and so-called delicacy made by preserving the eggs of fowl covered in a mixture of ash, clay, lime, salt and the hulls of rice. The process can require several weeks to several months, depending on the method used to create these abominations.

****This is a traditional Japanese breakfast item, made from fermented soybeans and served with soy sauce, karashi mustard, and Japanese bunching onion. The phrase "an acquired taste" definitely comes to mind, given the factors of its overpowering stench, strong flavor, and absolutely revolting sticky and slimy texture.]

Getting back to point, I'm never willingly going to assist any cabal that keeps crucial information out of the reach of those who need to access it. No way. No how. Especially when that information directly involves me, and I'm the one who originally initiated it in the first place. The only reason this bulls**t is swept under the rug, is to maintain the status quo by protecting those who are in a position of power. This opinion of mine was further reinforced when Steven told me rather tersely if not arrogantly, that the AZAGCRD wasn't there to serve the public.

Let's think about this for a minute. A taxpayer supported agency created to protect and serve the public (specifically it's working class) doesn't actually have to discharge the duties of it's charter, according to one of it's representatives. I'll also note that at no time during the filing or subsequently dubious  "investigation", of my claim was I ever informed this information was privileged, nor did I sign any form of legal documentation knowingly giving my inherent rights away, so the very thought of Steven threatening me with a Class 1 misdemeanor if I dared write about my case, regardless of whether or not I used the official transcription, incensed me beyond belief.

His pitiable rationalization for this attempt to violate my 1st amendment rights was to claim that this "protected" me from a lawsuit from my former employer and supervisor, a declaration I most assuredly laughed away as neither could possibly be that stupid, given what they both would lose in the end. Not too surprisingly, given his inabilities to answer directly how a state law/policy could override my rights that are granted and protected under the Constitution of these United States, the conversation quickly devolved into a morass of insults (him) and vulgarities (me) after it became fairly obvious I was dealing with a contradictory and progressively buffoonish twit-waffle.

But since I was trying to get a clear answer regarding this censorship and getting nowhere, I climbed further up the ladder of inanity to reach his immediate supervisor Rebekah, who in my humble opinion, has the potential to be the next Simone Biles*, if dodging valid questions were ever to become an Olympic event.
*[Simone Bile is an American gymnast. She was the 2016 Olympic individual vault and floor gold medalist, and balance-beam bronze medalist.]

My personal synopsis aside, according to her publicly posted resume, she has practical experience in the following aspects of the legal profession:
Manslaughter, International Extradition, Identity Theft, Homicide, Hit and Run, Grand Jury Practice, Fraud, Forgery, Felonies, Forensic DNA, Federal Criminal Law, Embezzlement, Electronic Surveillance, Extortion, Expungements, Criminal Prosecution, Criminal Investigation, Criminal Fraud, Drivers License Suspension, Domestic Violence, DUI/DWI, Driving While Intoxicated, Criminal Conspiracy, Assault and Battery, Automobile Fraud, Burglary, Bribery, Traffic Violations, Theft, Shoplifting, Stalking, White Collar Crime, Weapons Charges, Victims Rights, Misdemeanors, Parole and Probation, Murder, Money Laundering, Search and Seizure, Sex Crimes, Sexual Assault, Wiretapping, White Collar Fraud, Wire Fraud, Womens Rights, Sex Discrimination, Prisoners Rights Class Actions, Prisoners Rights, Public Interest Law, Race Discrimination, Discrimination, Disabled Rights, Gay and Lesbian Rights, Handicapped Rights, LGBTQIA Rights, Personal Rights, International Human Rights, Human Rights, Civil Liberties, Disability Discrimination, Disabled Access, Civil Rights Defense, Civil Rights Section 1983, and finally, Reproductive Rights.

Whew. That's quite the public cry for attention, so certainly in theory at least, she's more than qualified on pixels at least to answer the question I had repeatedly asked of Steven: how does a state law/policy override my constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech and expression? This by the way, seems like a relatively easy point to either explain or defend for a reasonably intelligent mammal gifted with a law degree, but I've noticed as of late that most of my fellow humans are as self-aware as Louis CK at a #metoo rally, and just about as tactful. First, she promptly brushed off my concerns about how my case was handled, my complaints regarding Steven, and when it came to the main issue, that of my being threatened with legal action if I so much as thought to write about all of this, she for whatever private or psychological reason literally could not (or would not) counter my query with a definitive response.

Imagine that. A lawyer who comes across as shady, if not shifty... will wonders never cease. But then again, given the Play-Dough production facilities that pass for law schools in this country, I shouldn't have expected anything less than someone who's manipulation of the lexicon would be akin to Neo's moves during the rooftop fight sequence in the Matrix. Obfuscation as a martial art, as it were.

But as noted, most law schools are in it for the profit, not the outgoing quality, and the school she graduated from was ranked
by U.S. News & World Report in 2019 as coming in 4th for legal writing programs, 19th for clinical law programs, 27th among part-time law school programs, and placing 128th overall among law schools in the United States. Keep in mind, there's only 237 law schools in the US, so draw your own conclusions as to the value and solidarity of her education, as I surely did after incredulously listening to her say absolutely nothing of note after almost 20 minutes. The most gloriously frustrating aspect however, was her unswerving repetition of how she "wasn't giving legal counsel", while threatening me with violating my civil rights, as she presented herself as a defender of those very same principles.

Come up with your own snarky observations, boys and girls- Lord knows I have, and if she and Steven are the prime examples of what is recruited for top-notch talent at the ol' AZAGCRD, I can only imagine what a dyspeptic hummingbird clusterf**k their HR department must be on their best day. But if I do have one truly dogged trait, it's that when I smell metaphorical blood in the water, I get even more focused and determined to see things through to the end- especially if you attempt to strong-arm or intimidate me from doing so, and we all saw how well that turned out for the Phoenix New Times, didn't we?

Applying that one might say, obsessive skill-set of mine, I jumped over Rebekah's overly swollen ego and went to her supervisor, who in no time whatsoever, revealed herself to be yet another bureaucratic poltroon who couldn't/wouldn't answer what by now, had become a question I could dictate in my sleep. So, after telling the entire story (again) she responds by saying she doesn't have an answer- which to be quite honest, was the only truthful rejoin I have yet to receive from these legal lollygaggers. Trying to err somewhat on the side of diplomacy, I tell her to get her agency's collective heads together and inform me of a definitive by the following day which just happens to be Friday, and this comes and goes without any form of retort. The following Monday also bears no answer, and the two messages that I respectively leave on Wednesday and Thursday go unreturned as well. On that Friday, I contact the Tucson office seeing if hopefully someone there can provide any clarity to my weeks long inquiry, and at the time got nowhere, or so I thought.

The following Tuesday (!) an individual calling herself "Kim" and claiming to be from the Phoenix criminal division office contacts me for seemingly the sole purpose of snottily demanding that I "stop calling" (with an implied "or else") as "no one will ever answer your question". When I press as to why this is so, she testily states that "we're done", and swiftly hangs up after I ask her why a building full of lawyers is so ineptly unable to handle a legal question that relates directly to what they claim to do. I'd suggest incompetence, but that's only because my eyes and ears work the way that they should.

And these second-handers wonder why people have zero respect for public servants... truly, it's a mystery to boggle the modern mind for ages, is it not? This petty (if not downright juvenile) behavior does raise the perfectly valid question though, that being: what are these allegedly unprincipled jackasses collecting a paycheck for? Is there some form of government charity where we as taxpayers all agreed to collectively subsidize the adult lifestyle of children who ate far too many lead paint chips as if they were Pringles? In addition, this ham-fisted attempt at subtle intimidation steered by what amounted to a singularly impotent lower associate was as pathetic as it was obvious.

With no due respect, if you're going to try and foist a bluff directly upon my gambit, at least use a person who presents as ably authoritative to do it. Sending this colorless worker-bee to challenge me without the shelter of name, rank, title, or any form of measurable gravitas to speak of, is akin to sending Jill Masters to go take on Goldfinger, and we all saw how that worked out for her resume, didn't we? Because I'm pretty sure she didn't get a reference, considering how much she cost him in gold body paint, if not replacement queen-size high-thread count sheets.

So at this moment, I have no answers to the following: is their intractable stance based on a law or a policy? Why do they believe that if any state provisos do exist, that they nullify my Constitutional rights? And what exactly, makes them think they can refuse to answer the concerns of taxpayers who underwrite their agency, and then feebly attempt to use other agencies as a means to silencing those who might publically dare to hold them accountable? Well, if the merest of my research into the laws of AZ are any indicator, my voice and opinions cannot be stifled past the point of rationality. While the broadness of what can be considered allowable free speech is open to legal interpretation, the confines of it's protection really is not.

For instance, if my use of free speech led to civil unrest, physical damages, defamation, and the like, it could be easily argued that it fell far outside the realm of what might be allowable, and the not unforeseen consequences I'd face could be dire. For instance, at any moment on Twitter one can see both the up and down of what is sadly and truly considered the discourse of our age, and it's stunning in it's equity of the glorious and the wretched, a mélange of intellect and ignorance, as it were. But the majority of these uncivil exchanges still fall under the protection of the 1st Amendment, whether you agree with it's content or not. I cannot threaten you with harm, but I can call you out, and therein lies the crowbar separation.

So why is it so hard, if not downright impossible for the AZAGCRD to answer this question of legalities directly, when it literally falls under their purview? If such a law exists, then why can't they directly name the statute? My response to that, is to throw out the following thoughts, and let the chips fall where they may, even if their final resting place just happens to be down some pompously craven throats. The first idea I'm gonna instigate is that no such policy exists, and if it does- it's strictly in place to intimidate or block anyone who dares to question their alleged incompetence and unprofessional behavior.

This opinion I feel, is backed up strictly by the fact that a no-name, no-power subordinate tried (and failed pathetically) to threaten me for exercising my inherent rights. Their subtle as a Kardashian at an NBA mixer to stifling dissention in my opinion, is nothing more than a slithery, if not unethical, scheme to block the public from discovering information they should have no restrictions against accessing- after all, Steven did tell me that "we don't work for the public", so this revelation may be just an unfortunate Freudian slip of the tongue on his part, in regards as to why they don't want anyone knowing the fact that there is no resource open to the general public that they could utilize strictly for defending themselves from discriminatory and illegal practices.

But remember, this is how they claim that they're "protecting" the public... by keeping relevant information from them, and then threatening anyone who calls them out for it, by the alleged abuse of their limited authority. Methinks that this collective of cowardly antagonizers needs to be held up to the light, and that right quick, no matter how much they posture and jeer. So to that end, not only I will be filing a detailed complaint with the ACLU in Phoenix, I'll also be spending some seriously focused time discovering and then contacting, every significantly appropriate advocacy group that I can think of in regards to this issue.

So AZAGCRD refuses to justify their threat? That's fine. I've been previously stone-walled by this type of charlatan cabal disguised as a public service agency before, as it is their collective stock in trade, but I also get this delightful feeling of imminent schadenfreude that they're going to be answering a slew of truly uncomfortable questions in the time yet to come, and the majority of them will be asked by someone who they will have to answer to... whether they like it or not.

And when we come back... I continue on with my seemingly endless quest to wear two identical shoes, dip my remaining toes into my local writing and art scene, and discuss how even in a charmingly small town, I still have a huge book-buying problem.

"Lying is the greatest of all sins"- Alfred Nobel

"In any bureaucracy, there's a natural tendency to let the system become an excuse for inaction."
- Chris Fussell