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Everything Must Go

I realized I could no longer discount my feelings

Sometimes you could see where someone had fingernailed away the successive stickers to confirm the original discounted price, in the service of some private calculation or intimate feeling. In this peeling, there was some kind of retracing of the chain of events in capital and carbon that had accumulated into the original prices: cost of material extraction, cost of the labor of manufacture, cost of shipping, cost of marketing—plus obsolete speculation about what the market would bear on top of that.

Ugly Donald, from Queens

Ugly Donald, from Queens

His voice has stayed in my ear

He roamed the streets with a television camera, looking for women to proposition. He was somewhere between a talent scout for a modeling agency, a casting director, and a photographer, but he conducted his business not in a studio, or an office, behind closed doors. Rather, he strolled the boulevards of midtown Manhattan, dressed outlandishly. Even though the drama of his half-hour shows culminated—or did not culminate—in revealed breasts, some of which I still recall, the most vivid imagery of the show were the shots of Ugly George himself, a lunatic in hot pants, shirtless in the summer, with a huge camera on his shoulders, strolling through midtown amidst a sea of people in suits.

The Bioeconomics of Covid-19

The Bioeconomics of Covid-19

How, exactly, do we value a human life?

Both the left and the right perceive the need for data rapidly collected, centralized, analyzed, and deployed in preventing and arresting epidemics. But they diverge on how to do it. The left argues that public health, a fundamental public good, can only be accomplished by a well-funded, attentive state. The private sector cannot and does not—or should not—be interested. If health care were free and universally available, it would generate no profit.

On a Seaside Bench

On a Seaside Bench

No wonder coastal Kent is nicknamed Brexitland

Since the start of the pandemic, the seaside bench has temporarily replaced the pub as a location for all kinds of social intercourse. Old friends sit at opposite corners of a bench conversing with each other. They bring a bottle of wine each, together with their own glass. If a third person joins them, they stand at a social distance but close enough for the three of them to feel like they’re buddies. The scene is reminiscent of Moscow alcoholics congregating around a park bench to share a bottle of vodka.

Working the Polls

Voter suppression can be super banal. All you need is apathy.

An elder gentleman in a camel-hair overcoat and a perfectly askew black beret accosts our coordinator while trying to vote. He comes over to the scanners, still miffed. After his vote is cast, he turns to Lois and me. His issue, generally: “IT SAYS FILL THE BUBBLE TO THE LEFT. BUT THE BUBBLES ARE ABOVE THE CANDIDATES NAMES!!!”

Consequences of Deferred Maintenance

Consequences of Deferred Maintenance

Pandemic time

What the deregulatory and deconstructive impulse share is a distinctly temporal quality, instilling the slow seep of future degradation even as immediate consequences are typically nonexistent. Killing long days by walking across New York’s many structurally deficient bridges, it occurred to us that this is how Covid has felt, too, even if deregulation is only one of a litany of factors that led to the US’s inability to respond to the pandemic in a responsible or even minimally humane way. The slow creep of emergency that attended the pandemic’s arrival in February and March—and the halting, dreadful recognition that its sped-down time would persist for weeks, then months, then years longer than we’d ever imagined—has as its echo the relative imperceptibility of deregulation’s extended-release effects.

The Militia Question

The Militia Question

The situation is even worse than liberal anxieties about a possible civil war suggest

The idea of white supremacist militias teaming up with federal and state governments for the sake of maintaining “law and order” seems less a radical rupture than the next link in a very bloody chain. The situation, in short, is even worse than liberal anxieties about a possible civil war suggest. It turns out that a certain type of white supremacist vigilantism is wholly compatible with the continued functioning of the American state. The specter of civil war that liberals fear is none other than the same modes of violence that have long been turned against BIPOC communities in this country without at all undermining the state.