writing sucks

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I’m pissed.

Imagine if God gave you one talent. And you have to completely suck at it.

I hate writing. I wish there was some magical method of transporting words from my brain onto a device.

“Just speak words into your iPhone dumbass!”

First off, shut your filthy mouth. Secondly, I sound like an asshole when I do that. Fuck that. I’d rather piss and moan on the internet about why I’m a lazy bastard.

But anyway…

Both me and my coworker watched ghost videos on YouTube during our shift. Then I go to a deli and order a sandwich. My order number was 666.

“Can I have a different number please?”, I ask.

“It’s already been entered into our system sir”.

“For fuck’s sake!”

It was a good sandwich.

I hate myself most of the time. I think everyone does. “I want to love myself”, I keep hearing. Why? You’re a piece of shit. We don’t need more self-love. There’s too much of that shit. Look for things to hate about yourself and quit giving a shit. That’s the secret to life.

I had a coworker that made fun of everyone. Then you’d make fun of him and he’d get pissed. His brother beat the shit out of him one fine day. He had scars and scabs all over his face. I asked what happened. He said “my brother beat the shit out of me”. “Good!” I said. He was a libertarian.

“What’s that got to do with anything, Wes?”

Everything!

I love…and despise….self help advice. “14 ways to grow your business this year!” and the like. I could write that shit.

17 ways to stop being a piece of shit this year

  1. Dont whip your cock out in public
  2. Wipe your ass good
  3. uhh, stop doing Matthew McCaunaghy impersonations because you’re just gonna piss people off
  4. its okay to creep on Reddit but don’t post 
  5. Realize that you suck and your parents hate you
  6. bullshit
  7. Bullshit

See, this shit’s fuckin easy. It’s bullshit that people aren’t paying me to do this.

 

 

80s Rehash: Fine Young Cannibals

No one ever reads this shit…

And I know that there are terrible things going on in the world. Unfortunately, it was the neoliberal triumph of the 1980s that we have to thank for most of these troubles.

But despite Reagan. Despite the rise of Donald Trump. Despite US interference in Central America that contributed to the immigration situation we have today…I fuckin’ love the 80s.

Thank God I wasn’t old enough to experience any of it. With cocaine and alcohol flowing freely…I would have died. So I was placed on this earth at the right time.

But people want to come at me with this whole 80s vs. 90s shit. I remember most of the 90s. There were a few cool things. But it was just a bland decade. It was the time between the Cold War and the War on Terror. The 90s lacked any major social anxiety. That shit is necessary if you want to create vibrant or memorable pop culture. Was it a bad decade? I don’t know about “bad”. Weak? Absolutely.

ANYWAYS!

I usually spend my Thursday mornings surfing YouTube. I’m a fucking boss like that. Of course, everyone remembers She Drives Me Crazy. But the band Fine Young Cannibals was incredible. The album The Raw & the Cooked, released in 1989, is one of the great forgotten gems of the decade (in the United States, at least).

So I’m just giving a shoutout to FYC and the beautiful, BEAUTIFUL man that is Roland Gift:

 

Crime and Deterrence

Remember public executions?

Remember how they were supposed to “deter” potential offenders from committing crimes?

Remember how nobody was really deterred, but the execution itself simply became a public spectacle for people to explore their morbid curiosities?

Thankfully nobody (or very few) remember public executions. They’ve long been done away with in the US. But humans are morbid. That’s just the way we are. Many of us are aware of that. Sure we might try to satisfy our curiosities by watching gross shit on the internet or scary movies. But we try not to satisfy that morbid desire on a political or social scale…or we don’t want people to get hurt to satisfy our sick demands. (At least non-psychopaths don’t)

We’ve known for a long, LONG time that deterrence doesn’t work. If it did, crime would have been eradiated long ago. But here we are, in the 21st Century, still using “deterrence” as a justification for doing sick things….things like separating children from parents and locking them up.

There’s no solid moral justification for it. “But we’re a nation of laws”, I hear. “And there are consequences for breaking those laws. If they (“illegal immigrants”) learn that lesson, then word will spread across Latin America and they’ll stop coming here illegally. Damn it!”, they’ll keep telling me. Because, to these idiots, laws are for black and brown people (but constraining to rich, white people). Therefore, again according to these idiots, we should punish kids by separating them from their parents.

Any sort of concern for their wellbeing, or reunification with their family, is naturally irrelevant.

Why?

Because this is a nation of laws. And laws allow us to not feel anything. Like the great public executions of yesteryear, the laws finally permit us to engage our morbid desires. We can finally say “fuck kids! fuck immigrants!” because the guise of “deterrence” allows us to do so.

That’s why shit like this happens:

A few have said “America is better than this.”

Are we?

This sick and twisted fantasy of being able to justify one’s disdain for others is pretty well engrained into our psyche.

“Low Road”: Chapter 21

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Low Road is the only novel I’ve written. For the longest time, it was the only work of fiction I completed. And…since I’ve started editing it, it’s not really a ‘novel’ anymore. I guess it’s more of a ‘short story’.

Whatever.

Recap: Rod is now living with his mom and her boyfriend. Because of his health scare (a heart attack), Rod is also having to attend AA meetings. It’s here where he meets Daniella.

Chapter 21

Daniella called as I was clocking out. Spring was near. It was a clear day. She pulled into the parking lot, windows rolled down, and her sunglasses on. I got in. She turned the music up. It was another shitty pop song that I didn’t know. But I didn’t care. I grooved to it with her.

We went to some hole-in-the-wall burger joint in town. I got a burger and water. She just ordered a coke.

“I can’t tell you enough how thankful I am that you called me.” Daniella said.

“Well, thank you for answering.”

We shared a few laughs. Daniella wanted to know more about me.

“I got kicked out of the University of Texas”, I told her. “I was writing other student’s papers. I was one semester away from graduating.”

“Were you a lit major?”

“No. Engineering. I was even applying to Stanford for a Ph.D.”

“How the hell did you end up out here?”

“I was on my way to California. I had a lot of money. But I was with my girlfriend and she stole everything. Here I am.”

“Why did you have lots of money?”

“Have you heard of Jack Schilling?”

“He’s a writer from Kansas.”

“I wrote his next book. I ghost wrote it. I got ripped off on it though. Doesn’t matter, he gave me more money than I ever had.”

Daniella glared at me from across the table. “You’re full of fucking shit”, she said.

“Doesn’t matter what you believe”, I replied. “It happened. He used me to write his shitty book.”

Daniella chuckled and took another sip of her coke. Then she looked back over at me. “You’re a fucking lunatic”, she said.

We kept talking until sunset. All the other customers left. Management had to kicked us out. She dropped me off at my house. I was getting out of the car when she lightly touched my arm. I turned around and made eye contact. I leaned in and kissed her. We lightly made out in her car for several minutes. When it ended, I told her that I would see her soon.

As I walked towards the house, I would have jumped up and clicked my heels if I knew how.

I found Lance and Mom sipping on their beers inside. Cigarette smoke filled the air. Lance tried to convince me to join them. I declined and retreated to my bedroom.

I thought that I had a connection with Taryn. I’ve felt that way with many women. But was it different with Daniella?

Was I in love this time?

The Most Successful People Definitely Take Twitter’s Sarcastic Advice About How To Be Successful — UPROXX

Shutterstock Are you the type of person who seeks to emulate the habits of highly effective people? Are you the type of person who wants to wedgie anyone who talks about “habits of highly effective people”? Either way, you can probably laugh at parodies of the lifestyle advice that makes the rounds on social media.…

via The Most Successful People Definitely Take Twitter’s Sarcastic Advice About How To Be Successful — UPROXX

My next book: 26,536,158 Habits of Highly Successful People 

Naïve Radicalism, Ideological Purity, and Political “Domination”

Chapo Trap House is sometimes a reminder why the DSA will probably collapse on itself.

Don’t get me wrong. I like CTH and support the DSA, BUT I’m not so blinded by optimism that I’m unable to process reality.

The last episode was really, REALLY bad (it’s not the episode posted above. I posted some random one). I’ve been involved in a few podcasts over the years. Clearly I haven’t been successful, so take or leave my advice, but the episode should have been scrapped. I’ve taken down several blog posts here, despite hours and hours I spent on it, because they were simply bad or did a poor job at explaining what I meant.

That’s the case with Chapo: if you can convince me to vote against an issue I fully support, despite trying to convince me to do the opposite, you did godawful job. But the worst part was the “reading series” where host Will Menaker read some article from a New York Post journalist (just go listen to the episode yourself). Will and cohost Matt Christman laugh at the writer’s insistence that she understands working class Americans, even though she only speaks to small business owners in “middle America”. Will and Matt maintain that the author is only humoring herself by speaking with fellow upper-middle class WHITE Americans, and not venturing into some working class neighborhoods…or into places that might make her feel uncomfortable. And that’s true. But Chapo inadvertently came across another problem: pot meet kettle.

This criticism is mostly directed at Will Menaker, the driving force behind CTH. Will’s father, Daniel, is a famed writer and editor. In this very episode, Will stated that he has lived in New York City his entire life. Both he and Matt challenge the right-wing assertion that large cities are “bubbles” and posit that “middle America” is the actual bubble because it lacks diversity in general. Granted. No doubt Will has been exposed to greater diversity than most Americans. HOWEVER, I’m gonna take a shot in the dark and say that NYC has more millionaires than any other city in the US. Wealth inequality is probably staggering there, but with a moderately famous father, (presumably) educated from a school most of us can get into (which is why it was strange to hear him attack Harvard University), raised in one of the most elite cities in the world, and WHITE…I just found it odd listening to him make fun of another NYC writer over where to find the working class.

Mind you, everyone is rightfully pissed about ICE locking up children in abandoned Walmarts…especially Will. In fact, this is such a terrible problem that everyone should head for the Texas border and demand an end to this. Perhaps that explains some of Will’s strange comments.

But this leads me to the larger problem within the DSA. Mind you, Chapo Trap House is pretty controversial among DSA members. Everyone in my local group hates them or have never heard of them. Nevertheless, Chapo can be a pretty accurate representation of DSA members. I’m in my early 30’s, yet I’m one of the older ones. They’re all young, mostly attractive and heterosexual, white, and privately or very well educated. Many are students. Those that aren’t work for non-profits or in higher education. A few work in the service industry or are artists. To my knowledge, none have ever worked blue collar, warehouse, or even corporate jobs. That isn’t to say that they don’t deserve a word in political discussion, BUT there is something insincere when they mention the hardships of labor.  There’s a degree of disdain and concern for the “working class” within the DSA ranks.

Although they want to be a representation of the working class, it’s seemingly difficult for the working class to take the DSA seriously. That would explain why there’s so few working class members within my group. There’s a large space between them and the so-called average American, both white and minority. For the vast majority, being working class can be demeaning. It’s soul-crushing to get fired, laid-off, or unable to pay the bills. It’s even worse to be working class AND a woman, immigrant, or African-American. In addition to not being able to pay the bills, they’re continually subjected to casual racism and sexism. Then along comes the DSA populated by young, white, and rich youths. So there’s an obvious disconnect.

But there’s also disdain for this class. These white rich kids grew up holding hatred for the things their Baby-Boomer/Gen X parents held dear: namely patriotism, careerism, desire for self-reliance, and love of frivolous things like sports, vintage cars, or anything Americana. Many within the working class distract themselves by focusing on sports, cars, movies, popular entertainment, etc. Patriotism is also a method of pacifying class angst. Now, frivolous Americana and patriotism can be used to distract the working class from their dire situation, NEVERTHELESS these things are important to the masses. It’s what allows people to bond with one another. Meanwhile, many DSA members (and those within Leftdom. Not Chapo Trap House btw) want to maintain an air of elite-ness by nerding out on obscure philosophical debates, abstract art, and high society. They fundamentally come from a different world than most working class Americans.

DSA, Chapo, and many Leftist make fun of liberals for their smugness, but as Will Menaker demonstrated, Leftists are equally capable of it. The fault that many Leftist make is by equating the concept of America with patriotism, or blind nationalism. It’s not difficult for most people to understand that blind patriotism can permit many evil things…Things like racism, destruction of other countries, and pacification of class anger. HOWEVER, because the US is a political body with a history and large population, an independent and distinct culture has arisen out of it. Chapo and the “Dirtbag Left” (which is really just one other podcast called Cum Town) did a pretty decent job of exposing Leftism/Marxism to everyday American thought despite Menaker’s bad habits. My suggestion for the DSA, if it wants to succeed, is it has to do a better job connecting with this sense of ‘America’ if it wants to reach out to the working class or disenfranchised groups.

Additionally I took issue with Menaker’s assertion that politics is about “domination” (paraphrasing, I think. Didn’t feel like re-listening to the episode). He was referencing this general rhetoric that writers deploy about the need to “come together” on political discourse. I don’t have a problem with blatant contrarianism. Maybe Will’s comments were an example of that. Again, maybe he was upset that we’re fucking imprisoning children. Everyone should be. But as cheesy and bland as “coming together” sounds…that is much closer to the democratic project than total political “domination” of other groups.

There’s a good reason why I’m a Marxist: I want to put an end to that form of domination. Marx merely put forth a method for equality. But “Marxism” is not a goal unto itself. It’s simply my vehicle of choice. There are no perfect “socialists” and such vocabulary needs to be eradicated from leftist thought. Equality and end of suffering are not ideologies. I’ll go one step further: ideologies don’t win. Purists deserve to lose every time. They’re only vehicles. We can compromise on vehicles, but we can’t compromise on the destination. And my destination, and indeed anyone else’s destination that isn’t a psychopath, is ending inequality, suffering, and “dominating” any and all peoples.

In our heated discourses, things get murky. Many times, we fail to answer the obvious question: is poverty, inequality, racism, sexism, and suffering altogether unacceptable? Or are they acceptable under certain conditions? What Menaker forgot is that we are not frozen in time. The decisions we make TODAY are going to effect some other group of people in the future, near and distant. If we have learned anything from history, it’s this: “dominating” people politically, economically, racially, socially, etc. NEVER ends well.

If “domination” is the game, I can’t support that.

And stop locking up children in abandoned Walmarts for fuck sake!

 

Just Say No

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Sure, hyper politicalization is a problem. But you know what will save us? Good old-fashioned American indifference.

Yet we like to believe we’re more divided than we’ve ever been. It appears that way. Is the Trump Presidency America’s darkest hour? We survived a Nixon presidency. I seem to recall a time when one senator beat the shit out of another on the Senate floor. There was a Civil War. There’s been MANY, MANY corrupt presidents and politicians. But we’re still standing. Not because America is a resilient country, but because we’re special…special in a way that no other country is: we don’t give a fuck.

That’s what will save us. It’s our worst quality. It’s also our saving grace.

So don’t worry. Indifference will prevail.

So I stopped worrying about Trump. Those of you who still are, it’s okay. He was bound to happen eventually. He’s a reflection of our own narcissistic, attention-seeking, loud-mouth tendencies. Like him, we like to talk tough, but when pressed upon, we come to find out that we stand for nothing at all. Because we don’t care. We’re only concerned with ratings, views, and likes. They say Obama captured the zeitgeist. But Trump is a far better representation of that zeitgeist than Obama ever was.

That’s not a compliment on contemporary life.

But this illusion of divisiveness and ultra partisanship is fostered by our addiction to social media. In days before the Internet, it was possible to never know the political opinions of acquaintances and co-workers. Now we know where everyone stands. And Donald Trump acts as gasoline to these fiery arguments.

But the thing is, once when these arguments are brought offline and we discuss them face-to-face, we again find that we don’t care or agree far more than what we’re comfortable admitting. Like Trump, we can talk a big game on Twitter. But get us in a room face-to-face…we just want to be liked.

Someone suggested that I rejoin Twitter, Facebook, etc, in order to boost followers. I just couldn’t do it. I’ve been telling people to STOP using them. And in this hyper politicized America, if we want to maintain our sanity, it’s as important as ever to STAY off of them.

(Sure, this blog might be considered a form of social media. But let’s not overthink this. Okay?)

I don’t miss it.

Just say no.

WWWD: What Would Wes Do? (Part III)

Never message me.

That will go on my gravestone.

Nevertheless, people do so. These are sick, sick people. For whatever reasons, God has instructed them to come to me. I don’t know why I was chosen.

But I was.

Here is some of the sagely advice I have bestowed upon those in need:

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Dear Wes,

I can predict the future. I can see everything. I see you watching porn. I see that you have a 2 1/2 inch flaccid penis. I see everything, Wes. I see everything. My question is that I’m tired, TIRED of people asking me to tell them their future. Do they know what a hassle that is? I’m not some circus show. I’m an actual human being damn it! How do I tell these people to fuck off?

Justin from Clearwater, FL

First off buddy, my penis is 2 3/4th inches soft. Secondly, I know exactly what you’re going through. It’s tough being smarter than everyone. But you know what? Tough shit. It’s a gift. And when you’re blessed with a gift, you must bless it onto others. What if Jesus and Superman just said “you know, I have the power to save others. But I don’t feel like doing it. It’s too much of a hassle.” So don’t be an asshole, Justin.

 

Dear Wes,

My kids are happy. They have friends. They’re well adjusted. They make good grades. But how can I teach them that life won’t stay that way? How can I teach them that one day they’ll be stuck in a dead-end job, overweight, in a sexless marriage, and have kids that will hate them?

Alice from Omaha, NE

Kids should learn that life is terrible and meaningless. Sure, they’re happy now. But you and I know it won’t stay that way. Start by saying spooky shit. Things like “I don’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore” or “If you kids don’t shut up, I will light myself on fire.” Then share a six pack with them and explain that alcohol makes all the pain go away. Disappearing for weeks on end and no longer saying “I love you” are effective as well.

 

Dear Wes,

I hate you. I wish you a thousand deaths. If I see you on the streets, I will put you underground. If you want a debate to the death, I’m ready. You ain’t shit BUCKO.

Jordan from Toronto, Canada

You’re gonna have to do more than that to scare me. I get threats every day. So the Russian debate is on? Cool, cool. My people will reach out to your people. But if you think I’m terrified about death, think again sunshine. I’m ready to die! So beware. I’m crazy. I’M CRAZY!

You’re Only One Bad Day Away…

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It’s interesting to see how the deaths of Anthony Bourdain  and Kate Spade have resonated in the national dialog. After the slew of celebrity deaths in recent years, I figured people would be numb to hearing this shit and quickly move on to the next thing. But that hasn’t happened. Suicide is a little too real for most folks.

Some reputable source somewhere (I don’t do research) said that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Statistics have skyrocketed

Why? Well, various reasons….opioid addiction, poor access to mental health care, etc.

But life simply sucks.

I should know. Because, as you know, I’ve been hospitalized twice for attempted suicide. The last time should have ABSOLUTELY killed me. Sometimes I think it did and that I’m walking the earth unaware that I’m dead like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense. I’m fine now, but unfortunately there will come a day when I will feel the urge to do so again. The numbers are not in my favor. With a history of alcohol abuse, mental illness in my family, and prior suicide attempts…the likelihood of dying by my own hand is pretty good. 

No one likes to hear that. It makes everyone uncomfortable. But that’s the truth.

What can WE do, as a nation, to stop people from killing themselves?

I dunno.

I mean, clearly…you know…get people off drugs and give them access to health care. That’s priority number one. In fact, if we just did those things, suicide rates would plummet.

But is there something deeper in the American psyche that’s fueling this despair? Naturally I think so. It’s been my view that a culture which leans heavily into shame to bring conformity is begging for a depressed population. Throw that shame in with neoliberal meritocracy, suddenly we have large swaths of people that become disconnected with their culture. People are overworked. They take to certain substances to relieve stress like alcohol. Doctors freely hand out opioids. The only way we can connect with others is through digital devices. So we become addicted, lonely, stressed,  and falling farther and farther behind.

So we’re bitter people, unable to extend empathy towards anyone. Really, if we want to rid ourselves of this rot in the American psyche…empathy is the only path forward.

I mean…I get it. We’ve all had this callous attitude towards people in distress. Now that suicide is in the national conversation, I’ve been evaluating my own heartless words and actions in the past. In short, I was an asshole. Radical individualism is so engrained into the American experience that we’ve come to believe in this “self-determination” bullshit. We believe that if people are suffering, it’s their own fucking fault….no tears should be wasted on the weak. This is such a prevalent subconscious conception, that no matter what your background is or what your beliefs are…as an American, you are guilty of being a careless asshole to some poor soul.

Shaming each other is pointless. We’re all guilty.

The first step towards becoming better people, not just to prevent suicide but to benefit all peoples, is to realize that there are bigger things than the national debt. Bigger things than ideology. Bigger things than, dare I say, being an AMERICAN. People are dying. People don’t want to be alive. People are suffering. Families being ripped apart. People starving. The list goes on. That shit is REAL.

And you are one bad day away from being in their shoes.

There’s Always Someone New

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Still watching ghost videos (for the record, I don’t believe in ghosts. I just like having the shit scared out of me because it relieves depression. Sorry to disappoint).

I came across one video that discussed the ghosts of Pennhurst State School and Hospital. It scared me. And for good reason.

Terrors really did occur there…

 

(Yeah, Dr. Fear and liberal use of the word “retardation” made me uncomfortable too)

A lot of people know about the horrors of Pennhurst. I think It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia had an episode that took place at a Pennhurst-style asylum. It’s common knowledge, but it was news to me.

And to think that this place remained opened nearly 20 years after the NBC report is disturbing. The part I found most troubling was the boy referred to as “Johnny”, described as “low IQ”. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was far more real than what we wish to confront: most patients could be rehabilitated, placed back into society if under the proper care. But that’s the problem. We don’t care. We keep delinquent, non-conforming, and irregular members of society institutionalized, out of sight, where they are made crazier. But this is par for the course in industrialized society.

However, these institutions are a thing of the past. Nevertheless, the need to ostracize or demonize large segments of the population is an inescapable sociological fact. We fucking LOVE doing this shit.

We look for any reason to justify our disdain or apathy towards a marginalized group.

I’ve always been reluctant to classify “depression”, various anxiety disorders, certain conditions under the autism spectrum, etc. as “disorders” or “handicaps.” That doesn’t mean to dismiss the needs of certain individuals, of course there are those that require help (Annaliese Michel was an example I’ve cited previously). Those with learning and social needs ABSOLUTELY need care and assistance. But there are certain conditions, (for example people like me that have depression, anxiety, bipolar or whatever the fuck I have) that no doubt found their way into Pennhurst. Continuing to view these conditions under the lens of “disorder” could only further isolation, thus making us crazier than we actually are.

Thankfully, we have largely reassessed the mind philosophically over the last half decade. How each individual phenomenologically experiences the world might be far more diversified than what we’re comfortable admitting. Am I making sense? Basically minds are as variable as our bodies and certain minds (as with bodies) are systemically discriminated against.

SO, perhaps we should be more skeptical with our use of the word “intelligence” and IQ tests.

I might be getting lost in the weeds here….

Atrocities happen. They happen here in the United States. They have happened. They will probably continue to happen. Because you and I don’t care. And we don’t care because we’re told it’s okay to not care. Some might even go so far as to embrace open prejudice. Why? Because we’re the “normal” ones: the ones that society is designed for.

Then we’ll become enlightened. Someone will speak on behalf of the downtrodden. Sweeping changes will occur. Then the marginalized will be incorporated into the normal. Peace is restored. And we “learn from history”.

But there’s always someone new to hate right around the corner…