Manifest Young Scion Chapter 2

To a certain degree, I think people relate to each other as extensions of themselves. They see some of themselves in others and, depending on that, whether consciously or unconsciously, they decide who they like and who they don’t. Like the murder example. Maybe if the guy sympathizes with the murderer because he could see himself doing the same thing under slightly different circumstances. Maybe he believes that if he had turned out slightly different, he would’ve ended up that way. Your idea of the dark side is very interesting. Maybe it all depends on whether or not people can accept that part of themselves.– Kurt

Donald got the idea that Kurt didn’t really pity the murderers rotting in Walpole, but the kid could be too vague and oblique when he needed to get something off his chest. Donald just asked for help when those times hit him.

The scene was all right, as the kids said these days, or something like it. The Blond Commander passed Donald the blunt. They were the age when all comments alternative were worth stating frequently. Clinton was a brief memory, and their awareness came when Bush roamed the Earth. Everything was black, white, and grey. Weed was great, could be made into everything. The conspiracy was long and vast. Straight to the Top, all of them. Goddamn, this is 70 a slice shit. Donald killed his beer. Too weak. He needed Mr. Boston, the burn that thoughts are seared from. His gait was much too straight for his liking. The Cook had the correct bottle filled with red sugar and barely distilled grain liquor, the kind one couldn’t buy in this town. The three had fused their stashes, which seemed to be a milestone or bond of a kind. A co-op of the wasted sort.

Their dealer was having a shindig and the three thought it best to show face at that kind of event. A bazaar of illicit objects to be traded for gold, paper, or anything that could be fashioned into a value. The drugs are experiences to be shared; not products for market. A tip for the procurement of wonder was a simple gesture of gratitude.

“Shall we not dance?” spoke the Cook.

“To what?” said Donald.

“To drugs and the autumn wind.”

“Let’s kill this first” said the Blond Commander holding up the blunt. They had just crossed from Allston into Brookline at Harvard Ave.

They were at the border of Suburbia, where cops roam. In many ways, modern Boston was a sprawl similar to Los Angeles. The main urban center was Boston Proper with the various outlying liege urban centers: Allston, Cambridge, Somerville, Brighton, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, West Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Back Bay, and parts of Brookline (but not really). The T expanded into the suburbs of Watertown, Charlestown, Newton, Wellesley, Quincy, Malden, Everett. Real Green Day shit. Donald wished for Metropolis.

The Cook snuffed the roach and slid it into his cigarette case. He began to mimic a trumpet and snapped his fingers, swinging the music in his arms. The Blond Commander did his waltz. Donald hesitated. His main dance moves came from a wedding in 7th grade and his staple was the sprinkler. In the dark, he baltered in a desperate prayer for mystical release from the poetry of the ages. Donald’s companions nodded at Donald’s sincerity. The Men Without Hats never said one had to dance well as a requirement for friendship.

They straightened up as they passed into the burbs, their slouches gone and any sign of booze or drugs disappeared into their backpacks. No need to blow up the party host’s spot. The house was in its usual place. Inside there was a sea of beards and a haze of glitter. Donald regretted putting down the gasmask at the Surplus earlier. House parties never meet expectations, so the best escape from the Beirut table was the New Englander back porch. The smokers were the only people one needed to meet and the stillness of the street encouraged conversation. The Blond Commander and the Cook greeted the various tribes gathered before them. The Commander and Cook in turn were greeted as ambassadors of their wider circle, whose membership fluxed. The Blond Commander, the Cook, and Donald swerved their heads as their names were forced across the noise by drunken vocal chords rising to meet the challenge.

“Well isn’t it The Trio,” this greeting came from a sophomore whose original marijuana connection had the audacity to graduate the previous May and “The Trio” opened their contact lists on their cellphones as a sign of comradery.

During their short time at school, the Trio had become the anchors of a crew of nomads: The Lovers (Jan and Jim), the Metal Heads too stoned to find more of own their kind, a lost Sorority Sister, and a gallery of lazy artists. The Trio explored the wilds of Allston and Brookline for drugs to feed their motley flock. They were the public school kids. Outside The Trio their friends were private school kids who relied on second hand sources. They could afford the premium and the illusion of safety, drinking in dorms with dubstep blasting. Sure, Donald had that kind of cash too, but that wasn’t his kin’s way.

Donald preferred his Rackpack inside of which sat a 30 of Busch Light fresh from the cooler courtesy of his Irish brethren. Often they fled to the serene banks of the Charles to drink the evening away. Donald hated the feel of fluorescent light.

The Blond Commander huddled the crew.

“The Mentor is out back”

“Who?” said Donald repelling interlopers from breaking The Trio’s circle.

“Donald, she brought us to the lantern and showed us where the cops like to search at night,” said the Cook.

“She can introduce us to Peddlers,” said the Commander.

“Screw this song.”

“Fuck it, to the Porch”

The make shift dance floor in the living floor proved to be a difficult current to navigate; it was like moving through a spell, Black Tentacles flailing all around. Donald failed his social grace save as he moved through the crowd. He clutched the Rackpack as a buoy. The Cook shifted through the dancers and his phone was pickpocketed. The Cook shrugged.

Donald wondered how many new contacts would appear in the Cook’s phone. Donald doubted he’d have the same luck the girls took Donald’s Rugby shirt the wrong way.

A girl grabbed him from the depths of the dance floor. The call of Cthulhu.

She moved her mouth and Donald took the shapes of her lips to be her name, but the beats of Kanye West kept the words a mystery. The lightless living room kept her face a mystery.
Donald nodded and said “I’m Donald.” She nodded in return. Donald figured he could always extend his hey instead of calling her by her name if they had a second conversation.

“You play lacrosse, bro?” said the girl as she scanned Donald’s body, narrowing in on his rugby shirt and processing his being into the categories that built her world view.

“Haven’t touched a stick in years,” said Donald, the girl and he were not quite phreaking as their bodies attempted to groove, “I prefer to think of myself as The Boy who Lived, some people say I look like Harry Potter in this.”

Donald didn’t mention that the people, he spoke of, referred to his mother.

The girl pulled away for a moment.

Donald spun her around, so their eyes connected again.

“Don’t worry; I don’t think I’m a wizard. I just find clothes shopping painful,” said Donald.

“I find your fashion sense painful, perhaps we could help each other out,” said the Girl, she took Donald’s phone from his pocket.

While she clacked on his phone’s keypad, he eased his arm around her lower waist. She paused and nuzzled his neck and returned her focus to the phone.

The Cook waved Donald towards the backdoor, which Donald ignored.

“I think a friend of yours wants to talk to you,” the girl said as she exited the cave of a dance floor into the hallway where she joined a cluster of well-dressed girls.

Donald joined the Cook and padded his pocket, where he felt the bulk of his phone.

The Trio found the porch to be empty, but a trickle could be heard echoing in the dark.

“What do you guys do?” said Donald.

“Get high mostly” said the Blond Commander.

“Like Majorwise, I don’t think we’ve brought it up.”

“You might have blacked out that night. I roll the blunts, the Cook bakes, and you pack the bowls”

“I doubt we’ll read that on the diploma”

The Blond Commander shrugged.

“We’re all classicals,” said the Cook.

“What?”

“Classicals references our majors reside in the classic mediums. I’m in the playwriting program”, the Cook spoke as he passed around red cups, “the Commander is something of a painter/ sculpture. You scribble as well.”

“I guess.”

“Ha, this isn’t the kind of place to guess,” the Mentor appeared from the dark recesses of the yard, where the sounds of urination created a gentle ambiance for those outside.

The Blond Commander unslouched and shook the Mentor’s hand and a full round
of shakes and pounds and rocket ships began. She was a sophomore at Brahmin.

“Do people care about being a Classical? I mean movies have been pretty big for a hundred years now and I’d bet there are a few photographs in the Louvre,” spoke Donald.

“We screenwriters are still in the New Media catalog even after we got shifted into the College of Letters, post ‘Dances with Wolves’,” spoke the Mentor.

A blunt was lit. It was only proper.

“100 years ago, screenwriting was similar to tweeting. Even today, I feel it would be a scandal to see the Dean of Letters at a picture show. What do you write Donald?” said the Mentor.

“Short fiction anthologies mostly and critique. The standard philosophical essay as well,” said Donald.

“One would be in New York otherwise” spoke the Cook.

“Are you still guessing?” said the Mentor.

“I couldn’t imagine a stable career, so I figured creative writing was a safe choice,” said Donald.

“Ah, an honest rugby shirt! True to the Ivy slacker. Let us drink to disenchantment,” said the Mentor.

They chugged a beer. Donald finished last. He went for a piss in a room with a lock. The one in the kitchen had a working one. The walls oozed with a mix of lust, joy, fear, and desperation. Donald pushed his way through. One could wait too long on occasion.

The kitchen of the party is a good spot to veg if one didn’t wish to get sweat on. It was the well, where everyone must go for free booze and to piss. Stay long enough and you can get your chair on. It was simplest play setting of being a college socialite.

Of all the movie lines in all the medium, Donald couldn’t think of a better cliché when he saw the Ex sitting in a flimsy Ikea chair at an undersized kitchen table that was debating collapse. There was a firm grip on his Ex’s waist. It belonged to a sea green Mohawk. Donald grew one of his own sophomore year of high school. He shaved it off when all his friend’s parents thought it made him a queer and banned him from sleep overs. Good Old Catholic homophobia. Mohawk had the studs to prove his willingness to torment middle aged white citizens. Probably vegan too.

Donald found the bathroom down a short hallway off the kitchen and fortunately, the hall was away from where the Ex sat. The bathroom line was long as people group puked, snorted, fucked, and occasionally pissed. At least the lighting undersold its own existence. The hall’s light source was the kitchen as Donald progressed to the door, the details around him shifted into shadow. Donald needed the Cook’s moonshine jar that was a drink for reactions.

A face pressed against him.

“Don’t be sad.”

“I’m not, I just need to piss,” said Donald.

“Use the yard like a civilized person.”

“I get shy.”

“Yea?” said the face.

An alien hand slipped down Donald’s pants. He sent out an exploratory force with his hands. He needed to get an image of what he was working with. Donald began at the waist and confirmed this was the girl from the dance floor. The face smelled out something from Macy’s, the scent was a frequent visitor to Donald’s nose. He liked the scent; it reminded him of fond kisses past. She felt human, which at this moment was good enough. Substance could be discovered later.

Donald heard his zipper and looked up, they were in the yard. Dark enough that he still couldn’t see her face.

“I won’t look,” said the Girl.

“It doesn’t really matter”

It was a solid stream. Donald wanted soap, he always wanted soap. It was important to clean. The Unknown Face didn’t share his scruples or at least Mr. Boston didn’t. It was a shitty hand job, but then the hand job is inherently flawed. Jacking off was a celebration of self and self-love. Other people just get lost. Donald removed the hand and pressed their faces together as he zipped up.

“You get stoned?”

“Yea, but not when drinking. Gives me the spins.”

“Ever had moonshine?”

“No, I only drink Absolut.”

Donald lit a Winston. The Cook had them shipped from a friend down South. Fuckin’ legit. The Unknown Face reached for a long gone bag. Donald lit a second one. He managed to catch her smile, the kind of teeth that cost a second mortgage. He bet she had a sweet name. Why did he lose it on the dance floor?

“I’m Donald Guntherson.”

“Yea?”

“Yea, figured I should probably mention it again.”

She leaned into him.

“Dagny, again,” she smiled.

“Your dad a CEO?”

“How’d ya know”

“The Frats are a few streets over,” said the Mohawk.

“That isn’t a future MBA,” said Jess, the Ex.

The Ex was always civilized. The Mohawk turned to the side and pissed. His stream flurried and sputtered and raged.

“You might need to see someone about that,” said Donald

“I think I am.”

Donald figured there were about 20 decent paces between him and the porch. If he sprinted, he would just seem wasted trying to play red rover with the Mohawk and Jess.

“Guess we’ve been to the same Doctor.”

Donald knew that statement lead to sleepless nights and morning confessions.

“Fucker”, his Ex scratched Donald’s face, “Where’s your lacrosse stick?”

Donald glared through his cigarette and tossed the butt. He hated lacrosse; he hated the Ex for acting as if she didn’t know where his clothes came from and why he wore them.

The porch knew it was time to bounce and Dagny tagged along for safe measure.

Commonwealth Ave has great late night lighting and Dagny had a Rogue streak in her hair and looked like she probably didn’t dig her name right anyway. Who didn’t read Rand in high school anyway? If Donald asked for numbers, he’d probably ask for her’s.

In his room, the question wasn’t to add her on Facebook as Donald believed the number she added to his phone was real. He thought of his rugby shirt, the lack of image he had for himself. Was he a man without personality?

He dressed like a sportsman, danced like an amputee, drank like he was a writer even if he never made it to the keyboard.

Donald ran every morning after finishing the Globe and breakfast. Praise the 24 hour Catholic dining hall. Donald awoke sharply at 5 to begin and showered by 7:30. Daily eggs and bacon marred his reflection. A longer run would be needed. Catholicism, the religion where drunken confession was praised for its honesty on occasion. The New England October ranged from freezing rain to gentle winds. On the best days, there was the slight crisp that meant a light wool sweater to class. It was the crisp that foretold of the rich smoky haze of burning wood. The dew turned the grass slightly blue in the morning. His mother would be burning the beef covered in flour and chopping potatoes, carrots, and celery for stew. Who would accompany his family’s lab, Sol, in circling his mother making sweeps for morsels left behind or dropped? Was glutton the best descriptor of Donald? Was glutton even a social category?

He returned uncertain of where his opinions came from. From what source did he draw his “self”?

How could he discuss morality without an understanding of his own “I”?

He typed anyway.

Ok , I see the angle you’re looking at this from. So you’re saying that people relate to others through how they are connected to each other, rather than how they are separate. I agree with that statement, which is why people can get so passionate over a random stranger. It isn’t who the stranger is, but rather how the stranger is similar to the judge.

Donald

The End of an Era: Thoughts on “The Deuce”

HBO’s The Deuce is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. The final episode aired a few months ago and I am ready to speak my thoughts. Please stop here to avoid spoilers.

The Deuce was about the golden age of porn centered on Times Square. I know some feel it represents the end of an HBO era with the coming of HBO Max but I believe HBO will always have a home for art house television among the superheroes and fantasy warlords. A few years ago when The Deuce premiered it did seem like there was too much art house television with streamers flooding the market and it outdid them all. The Deuce was rawer than the others, less about Emmy moments. Instead each season examined a period in a slow built to a breathtaking conclusion. To me, the show told narratives about a period of freedom, we can never return to. Times Square was a playground for desire in all its forms. The dark and the light while it never romanticized any aspect of the brutal realities, it separated justice from judgement. I know that lack of judgement frustrated some viewers but freedom will always have a dark side. The Deuce never asked you to forgive anyone for their wrongdoing but it never let you forget their humanity either. Bobby wasn’t a good husband or man but refused to physically assault the sex workers who quit his parlor. Great moment in humanity, no. But it was an important one for Times Square where that was status quo. It was a show that didn’t give a fuck about next week. I will be honest, I watched seasons 2 and 3 after they had finished their initial airing because watching one a night for ten days straight gave me a preferable pace. Narratives were almost all seasonal arcs. It was a beautiful experience in television. More than traditional episodic and far from the decade long questions of Lost and Game of Thrones. In many ways, it reminds me of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City without the hippie grace of San Francisco.

The reason I started this was to discuss the closing scene of The Deuce. The final scene of a series is a hard feat to pull off. In particular, a series about how the cesspit of NYC became the main tourist drag. Vincent returns to NYC in 2019 and goes for a walk down the old way. In an elegant bar, we learn Candy has died (but important enough to get an obituary in a major New York daily). He then walks the hazy fake daylight of the LEDs that make up the neighborhood today. He sees the ghosts of all the dead characters. Most are in their 60’s rock bottom era costumes. At first I hated this scene but I grew to love it. One the final moment is Vincent meeting Frankie in front of an Olive Garden. There’s a wonderful joke in that shot. The two Italian American New Yorkers both forced out and the corporate vision of their culture which matches the corporate vision of Gotham around them. I know a lot of people who hate it, people whose 70’s New York was Manhattan which kept to the parts where polite company gathered. In Simulation and Simulacra, Baudrillard discusses Disneyland and particularly the emptiness that hits in the parking lot after. We see the illusions that we have created in our lives. Times Square is a similar space. In the 60-80’s, it was the illusion that you had to go there for your taboo desires. In 2019 it is the illusion that we no longer have those desires.

-E.C. Fiori

Day 1006: Binders Full of Nothing

Sometimes I feel my relationship with the Democratic Party is the Supremes’ classic “Where Did Our Love Go”. In a time where the status quo is up for grabs, the Party offers a greatest hits of past ideas that people like until they hear the details. I’m bewildered. Trump’s election was caused by many things but a key aspect I’ve come to accept was he offered new alternatives. Greenland, the space force, funding high tech manufacturing in America for national security reasons are all good ideas. It is the beginning of an actual vision of the future.

There will be a tomorrow and a next day whether we live to see it or not. The current “dark green” moment is unfounded. Climate change is real and no good but we do have tools to fight it without resorting to death cults. We can harness nuclear energy more and despite the idea of danger (thanks to Big Oil propaganda) it isn’t going to destroy the world as we know it like fossil fuels will. When France and Vermont shut down nuclear power plants for renewable alternatives, they increased their reliance on fossil fuels.

Why are we stuck in this nostalgia crusade? Why in a time when individual actors have more capabilities than the largest bureaucracies of history dems only offer more centralization? Didn’t the election of Trump show us the limits of the presidency and the administrative state?

Biden’s self defenestration is mind boggling. I nominally viewed him as a viable candidate based on his shoot from the hip style as VP. Yet his campaign continually shoots itself in the foot over legitimate past choices. Most recently over Trump’s lynching comments in relation to his impeachment inquiry. Based on the scandal, one could assume we are a nation of grammar nazis not one where 70% never picks up a book post schooling.

Its hard to see any of the democratic candidates defeating Trump in 2020. If primary continues to be about regaining the voters who deflected to the Green party in 2016 rather than the ones who deflected to Trump. Clinton amd Obama’s grand coalitions will have been a blimps in history.

Politics is the art of the possible. It requires imagination. There is one Democrat whose possesses that quality: Andrew Yang. Many decry his lack of government experience but no one on the democrat stage possesses any achievements in government outside Biden who distances himself from much of what he accomplished. Unless we now consider showing up to collect a paycheck, a legislative achievement. Yang actually lives in 2019 America. The Freedom Dividend (UBI) is hos flagship proposal. It is the only policy being proposed that will meaningfully benefit most Americans. But Medicare for all you will say. By all recent budget breakdowns, the cost of medicare for all will require a federal budget increase of 75%. You will pay the same for your care now and more covering the cost of others in taxes. Same with most of Warren or Sanders soak the rich for gov programs ideas. Unlike the oil that funds the nordic dream, the rich aren’t a natural resource. They are quite the opposite. It’s hard to see companies and their leaders remaining in America at a cost to their bottom line. Much as Russian and Chinese elite now buy American and European real estate that can’t be seized by their home countries. The American elite would explore wealth alternatives.

That isn’t to say wealth inequality isn’t an issue but it is. I don’t think taxes will save us alone. Because it isn’t just some have so much and others have so little but your wealth decides most factors in our lives. Once the boss and you went to church together and your spouses and kids were friends. We were integrated beyond the workday. In our fragmented society today, we lost that community. I doubt that we can go back. I doubt that I would want to go back. The America we live in today where people are more free to be themselves socially than ever isn’t a bad place. Sometimes, I feel we are superficial in our tolerance as shown by our building of echo chambers. We have to reach and let ourselves be reached out to across group barriers. There might not be much or anything in common at all to begin with but simply spending time together is a commonality. We can’t just pay the government to do this work for us.

JFK didn’t say he alone or even the government alone could solve the challenges the country faced. “What you can do for your country”. That’s a message missing from the debate stage. It’s certainly not a question Trump has ever asked himself. Maybe it’s time we sold the elite a future.

-E.C. Fiori

Day 222: No Charity for the Rich

Tax cuts for the already wealthy do not bring more or better jobs. Just handouts for the well off for being well off. 

The bottom 80% move the Earth to generate the riches. We don’t deserve less for the more taxes we pay each year. We don’t deserve stagnant wages for higher productivity since 90.

A 20 percent corporate tax cut isn’t draining the swamp but an expansion of it. 

-E.C. Fiori

Day 217: No Wall

Trump said it would be paid by Mexico and be like the Great Wall of China.

Trump said it would be funded by America and Mexico would get us back and it was a chain link fence.

Trump’s going to shut down America for a fence paid for by Mexico.

We elected Lear.

-E.C. Fiori

Day 191: Better Mousetrap

The state of modern drug testing in the workplace has barely improved since Reagan started the trend. I cannot understand why. Failed tests take a toll on the economy . At a least one plant, half of a failures are due to positive marijuana results. I’m pro-marijuana but safe work places especially when working with literal tons of metal are more important. The problem is current testing can’t tell if you are high now or were a month ago (just for thc, other chemicals fade faster). This means workers even in states where it is legal. Workers can’t enjoy the fruits of their labor without fear of being flagged. We can implant a microchip to operate as a credit card but we can’t tell when one last smoked is ridiculous. 
 Marijuana is safer than Alcohol and better for dealing with long term chronic pain than opiates. We can talk in circles all we want about mental addiction but you can be mentally addicted to any reinforced action and physical addiction that comes from alcohol, opiates, and other drugs has a far greater toll. I’m sure all physically addicted (to which there is no cure just the continuous work of recovery) would trade for a mental addiction (closer to a bad habit and can end). Studies have disproven the gateway theory. To deny the healthiest high on the grounds of tradition is bad policy. 
To those who preach sobriety, I would argue without the human desire to get high, we would not have society and civilization as we know it. The history of beer is the history of us. That being said there is virtue in moderation and a balance between states is needed. Theres no reason or need to be high in most jobs. There can be great danger. Your supervisor might be a son of a bitch but he’s the son of a bitch whose job it is to get you back to your wife and kids. He needs better tools. 
Perhaps it is a generational gap but we need 21st century solutions today because the century is going to pass us by.
-E.C. Fiori

Day 174: The Government is not a Business

Trump and his family are self described business folks. While their legacy in business is debatable, that they come from the corporate world not political becomes more obvious everyday. We don’t know yet if Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia last year but the Trump family isn’t making it easy for innocence to be considered. 
This week Donald Trump Jr. became the center of the Russian storm. After days of having his ever changing story disproven by leaks, he released the emails in question. They did not vindicate him. When asked if he would like information on Clinton gathered by Russia to aid his father, he says he would love it. He brought Kushner and Manafort to the meeting, the Russian lawyer ended up not having anything on Clinton. Leaving us in a situation where we know that the Trump campaign would have colluded but not if they did. 
Ignore the discussion of impeachment for a moment. What other implications are there? One is a revelation behind the curtain. Political operators have long been portrayed as ruthless anything goes types in movies but the real political world always had norms and bounds. I’m not saying they are knights of the round table. Yet even the Gore campaign called the FBI when someone leaked Bush’s campaign bible to them. This event shows the business world core of the Trump universe one where damning emails end in a fine and mea culpas but in politics things end differently just ask Abramoff.
The anti-left media keeps yelling Ukraine like its Benghazi (as a waste of time). A low level former staffer is not the same as a high campaign advisor and candidate’s child. Manafort did in fact lobby for pro Russia candidates in Ukraine and was unable to hide it. Whether the decision to remove support for Ukraine in its war against Russian invasion from the GOP platform came from Manafort is unknown. In the end, evidence from a foreign public investigation is not close to the same as a foreign nation stealing documents from a political opponent to aid a candidate. As Watergate taught us having your own countrymen steal documents is damning without foreign involvement. 
The emails aren’t a smoking gun for criminal proceedings but they without a doubt bolster Mueller’s investigation. One can only wonder what subpeonas will uncover.
-E.C. Fiori