Who are these people?

Here’s an important piece from the Arizona Republic, which of course endorsed a Democrat this year after 125 years of Republican presidential endorsements. For that, the paper’s staff have received death threats and ongoing harassment and assault from the sort of people that I often consider unimaginable. But they’re out there. And they’re goddamn insisting on drawing lines in America’s dust this year.

Fight hate with love.

‘America B’

“[Brian] Stelter is doing within his vocabulary what Jon Stewart would have done within his,” says NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen.

I’ve found Stelter to be sort of obnoxious since he left the Times, but Rosen has a good point here. Know that voter fraud occurs on a minuscule scale (the state of Ohio admits so, even while rolling out the bogeyman at regular intervals).

This Trumpian narrative that the election will have been rigged or is already rigged — especially if and when he loses in November — is a dangerous piece of rhetoric. On the other side of this election rests a Trump who will still preside over wide swaths of America, people who have become fired up and fueled with conspiracy theories that benefit him and his “brand” alone.

The title of this post comes from a recent Nation article.

They can’t abolish your right to vote, but they will fuck with it

“I was furious when I found out that my vote was thrown out just because I made a very minor and obvious mistake,” Franklin County resident Kenneth Boggs wrote in a signed affidavit. (He wrote “10” instead of “6” in the slot for his birth month. It was October 2014 at the time. Everything else on his absentee ballot was copacetic.)

More than 1 million absentee ballots have been requested in Ohio for the Nov. 8, 2016, general election. Secretary of State Jon Husted actively encourages the use of absentee ballots (surely you’ve received an application in the mail by now.) Husted, the named defendant in a lawsuit that recently found many of his voter disenfranchisement policies unconstitutional, oversees plenty of tricks across the state’s 88 counties, each meant to fuck with the official vote count. The lawsuit is moving forward in federal appeals court, but the clock is ticking.

Here we are, sitting in a “battleground” state a few weeks out from one of the great fulcrums in modern American politics. The right to vote is sacred territory. It’s not for nothing that powerful state leaders have ensconced that right with every ounce of confusion and misinformation they can muster.

Story coming soon at clevescene.com.


Things that you could be doing but instead you’re being angry about “the media” again
– Having sex
– Going for a walk
– Cooking a fine meal
– Playing solitaire
– Volunteering at an animal shelter
– Juggling
– Falling down a flight of stairs
– Reading a book to a young child
– Losing some weight
– Planting a tree
– Being angry about the treatment of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe
– Attending an ICP show

Oh, and another example of what we mean when we talk about quality

Like Robert Pirsig, I think a lot about Quality In Experience — or, as he called it, the metaphysics of quality. David Imus’ award-winning U.S. map distills everything that’s important and overlooked about quality these days.

“This is an example of heartfelt, artisanal cartography coming from a pro at the top of his game.

“Yet, barring a miracle, this opus will barely be seen. Specialty map shops are disappearing. Bookstore chains tend to carry only the major map brands. And even if they were somehow made aware of Imus’ marvelous creation, most school systems can’t afford or can’t be bothered to update their classroom maps. A map is a map, right? That circa 1982 Rand McNally wall blob does the job just fine, the thinking goes.”

An excerpt, on quality in experience, from my interview with Chris Robinson

“It’s funny, in Vermont and shit, this craft beer — and I don’t even drink beer anymore — but this craft beer movement and stuff, I was interested in that because I like the idea of connoisseur culture. You know? I realized I’m not good at the tourist thing; I never was. I don’t do it as a traveler for the past 30 years and I don’t do it as an artist. I dig it if people are casual, and I understand there’s a surface involvement with anything. But just like you can buy a case of Bud Light and have a blast with your friends and listen to whatever — or, you know, like people here in California will wait in line to buy two bottles of Pliny The Elder that cost more than the other beers and you can only get two until another six weeks, and then they walk away and they’re the happiest people you’ve ever seen. I understand that. Your favorite Italian restaurant might be on a side street in Rome, while other people might go to Olive Garden. It’s totally fine, you know what I mean? I’m just saying there’s a difference in experience and a difference in what we’re trying to get out of it.”

To be seen

Somehow – and don’t blame me – Scripture came up in a conversation tonight. In passing, mind you. The Bible is a weird thing and certainly has its flaws, but I’m not antagonistic enough to blow past the rather fundamental lessons of humanity contained within. (It’s the dogma and the farce that I won’t tolerate in my life.) I think if we all lived like Jesus Christ, the world would be a lot cooler. He was an alright cat.

Anyway, ever the prepared Boy Scout that I am, I did indeed have a verse to pass on in the discussion. Matthew 6:5. A refutation of all that is wrong with society in 2016. This is from the King James joint: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

Too many people do things and go places to be seen doing those things and going to those places. The very act of living a life has become a 24-hour show — not for anyone’s entertainment, really, which would be at least somewhat enjoyable, but for the very sake of having something to broadcast, something to shout into the void.

The ancient Greeks had a word for this: thymos. At its etymological root, the word means “spiritedness” or “a desire for recognition.” And that’s a very human trait. It’s in the core of our collective mind. But, in my opinion, the big lunkhead Internet came along and perverted that shit. I play my role, sure (follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and don’t forget to call every now and then), but I remain troubled by how socially mandatory it’s become to be seen engaging with this beautiful thing we call life. Troubled!

I have a mantra (many mantras), and it is this: Climb a mountain. Tell no one.

I try. I really do. And I appreciate the kind and tasteful friends of mine who do the same.