Friday, May 25, 2012

The Inexorable Sadness of Pencils Neat in Their Boxes

No Thursday Night Pints. All others, meaning anyone who could, have already checked-out until Tuesday for Memorial Day weekend. Here, from page 204 of Hilary Mantel's Bringing Up the Bodies:

In March [1536], Parliament knocks back his [Thomas Cromwell's] new poor law. It was too much for the Commons to digest, that rich men might have some duty to the poor; that if you get fat, as gentleman of England do, on the wool trade, your have some responsibility to the men turned off the land, the labourers without labour, the sowers without a field. England need roads, forts, harbours, bridges. Men need work. It's a shame to see them begging their bread, when honest labour could keep the realm secure. Can we not put them together, the hands and the tasks.

But Parliament cannot see how it is the state's job to create work. Are not these matters in God's hands, and is not poverty and dereliction part of his eternal order? To everything there is a season: a time to starve and a time to thieve. If rain falls for six months solid and rots the grain in the fields, there must be providence in it; for God knows his trade. It is an outrage to the rich and enterprising, to suggest that they should pay an income tax, only to put bread in the mouths of the workshy. And if Secretary Cromwell argues that famines provoke criminality: well, are there not hangmen enough?

El Serracho tweets, every day the news is the same. Yesterday's reciting of my four Whatever-American roots reminded me I'm American-American, faith in progress through American exceptionalism hard-wired: just count how many times I've typed Motherfucking Obama here in the past year as a salve against my complicity. And we know where Cromwell's head will end up at the end of trilogy, holyfuck, I cannot wait to read it in a few years but meanwhile reading the existing two of the trilogy during POTUS 12 provides much wry-smile-of-recognition awesomeness. Hey, I've got at least one, maybe two used Wolf Hall paperbacks I bought cheap, send me a please and I'll mail it to you. (UPDATE! One Wolf Hall gone. Act fast.)

  • Motherfucking Obama.
  • Motherfucking Obama.
  • Motherfucking Obama.
  • Motherfucking Obama: There are two broad narratives about Barack Obama from American elites.  On the right, there’s a racist narrative about Obama’s socialist Kenyan origins, with offshoot dishonest arguments about his policies.  He’s anti-corporate!  He’s gone on a government spending frenzy!  He’s going to cut the size of the military!  These are not true.  On the Democratic side, there’s an equally dishonest set of arguments.  He’s not bold enough!  Congress is holding him back from his progressive instincts!  We haven’t made him do what we know he wants to do!  The real Obama is hidden behind a racist veneer on the right, that he’s a Kenyan socialist, and a fake narrative on the left, that he’s not bold enough.  The third narrative, which you can find on this blog, is that Barack Obama is a great deceiver, with a charming and cool demeanor that mask his ruthlessness and bank-friendly neoliberal ideology.  It’s hard to talk to this third narrative, because Democrats overwhelmingly approve of Obama, and Republicans simply cannot countenance the idea that their socialist enemy is as friendly or even more friendly to corporate power than they are... The reality is that it is the strength of Obama’s narrative, and the lack of a left-wing analysis of who he is as a person, that gives Obama all the cover he needs to enact bank-friendly policies.  You can see this strength in the utter lack of an effective comedic impersonator of Barack Obama.
  • Vote for the cutest.
  • Slouching towards Serbia.
  • Canada too.
  • Motherfucking Democrats.
  • Old King Coal.
  • Duh.
  • Every day the news is the same.
  • Taxpayers.
  • Blithe.
  • Hey! Did you know Washington DC has a professional soccer team?

  • It's true, and they've a home game tomorrow night - why United gets hit every year with a Memorial Day weekend game is a mystery - and Seat Three and Four are away on a short vacation, so I've a couple of tickets. Hamster? Anyone who wants to join me and SeatSix, send me an email. (UPDATE! One ticket gone. Act fast.)
  • Barry's Magic Shop to close. I used to go into the Wheaton location years ago when it was next to a head shop, but I never went into the Nicholson Lane relocation.
  • Your Fucking Washington Post tells MCPS teachers, you suck. Standard disclaimers of conflict of interest apply.
  • RIP Paul Fussell.
  • RIP Paul Fussell.
  • Reconstructing Harry Crews.
  • Theodore Roethke was born 104 years ago today. I had one teacher who pushed and pushed and pushed Roethke on me, and lordy I tried, and better than meh, never wow.
  • I had not heard of Skullflower until Fabio played that song yesterday. If only there was a long holiday weekend, the third slowest of the year in Blegsylvania, coming up so if I feel like posting what I discover no one will be listening anyway. Fabio played this Celestial Highway IV which you can hear on his playlist but I can't find for her, so have II:


Theodore Roethke

I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper weight,
All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places,
Lonely reception room, lavatory, switchboard,
The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher,
Ritual of multigraph, paper-clip, comma,
Endless duplicaton of lives and objects.
And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions,
Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica,
Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium,
Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows,
Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.


  1. I hope your heritageism doesn't mean you feel you must root root root for the fucking Germans.

    The other stuff going on just isn't as interesting.

  2. It’s hard to talk to this third narrative, because Democrats overwhelmingly approve of Obama...

    Yep. And they get mad when you point out the facts, for instance, Rep. Conyers: Obama Demanded Social Security Cuts - Not GOP.

  3. I'd root for anybody to beat the Germans but the Germans over the English and the English over the French and the French over the Dutch and the Dutch over the Spanish and the Spanish over the Italians.

  4. "You can see this strength in the utter lack of an effective comedic impersonator of Barack Obama."

    What a brilliant observation!

    Please for the Wolf Hall, please.

  5. It's yours. Please resend me your mailing address (I have it somewhere, but....)

  6. Whatever happened to 'motherfuck'-free May?

  7. Shit, that motherfucking bet lasted all of eight motherfucking hours.