American Politics

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.

Fire in the Hold

Fire in the Hold

On Afropessimism

Inasmuch as the end of the world already feels imminent — we are, after all, staring down mass racial injustice, environmental catastrophe, and a global pandemic — vague gestures toward a radical restructuring of society without even a basic blueprint feel, if not incomplete, indicative of a failure of imagination.

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.

Banana Bunch Challenge

Banana Bunch Challenge

The whale is based

The mistake was not the iconography: the flag of Kekistan, the pride flag, and the US flag, all of them woven into one. I knew I’d get flack for it from antifa, the helmet and shield, the spandex bodysuit, they laughed and took their videos and those mean girl Proud Boys called me a faggot and a freak. And so I marked off my own territory, and I spoke to them — I preached — of what I knew. As a faggot, as a freak! On my milk crates, during that gathering of Proud Boys and antifa. And then I tripped and fell. But that wasn’t a mistake either. I didn’t make any mistakes, not that day. Maybe not ever, in some sense, if here’s where it’s led.

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.

Rule That Is No Rule

Rule That Is No Rule

The Supreme Court in crisis

A few days ago, McConnell told his Republican caucus that the new 6–3 majority is something the public “won’t be able to do much about for a long time to come.” But his confidence in the long view is misplaced. A constitutional crisis, by definition, throws into doubt the certainty or predictability of things; it is a turning point, a moment for decision and judgment. Our moment of crisis calls for the rendering of judgment on the following question: will the majority of the country allow an anti-constitutional minority, empowered by an anti-democratic constitution, to rule in perpetuity?