Manifest Young Scion Chapter 4

Novelty is very complex, because it all depends on how long you expect the novelty to last. If the novelty of their differences only lasts but a few minutes, then your theory might hold true. However, if it is enough for them to find their conflicts mutually interesting and to start spending more time with each other, then it is very possible for them to develop common ground just by that shared experience. -Kurt

Another Saturday on the dining hall roof.

One thing America did right in the 90’s was manufacturing the dark green leather couch, 3 cushions long. If they didn’t exist, Donald probably would never sleep in the slightest.

Donald awoke to bacon-wrapped burgers guarded by a melted shell of cheddar with a chicken patty in the center to hold the sandwich together. A real structural beauty, if one asked Donald. He checked his laptop and was grateful to see that, not only had he sent the message as intended, but that Kurt had responded in kind.

Their exchange of message was proof the date had inched forward. Donald hoped he made it to class. Sometimes, days went away. Donald decided DHW fleeced him and the Blond Commander, who would have none of it. He believed in the quality of character. The pork roll had been as promised.

Dagny lay next to him. He knew she’d been there since his last nap. He didn’t know her deal yet, but he liked the way their curves locked and their beats synched. They were a pair of new souls.
The Ex had a name and they’d synched heartbeats for a time. Not Jessica, but Jess. Her hair flowed when he saw her last, but when they met it was lice proof. The pricks when it rubbed against his curled chest hair. It felt much like a monk receiving the Eucharist if their philosophers were to be believed or like fresh cut grass against the soles of one’s feet. She had a shaved head, sun dresses and steel toes to charge through the beaches that were public high school.

By comparison, Dagny believed tights to be enough for service and, for her, stripes were a lifestyle. She mentioned visiting Donald’s barber for a regular boy’s cut. He thought the pixie would give her face more space for the smirk that appeared when Donald was wise and when he was foolish; Donald took it as inside joke between herself and the Lord. He didn’t mind being aware of his flopishness just as he didn’t mind the chill of her fingertips against his palm.
They spent their open daylight on the Esplanade. Less cops, more boats. Dagny was also a classical. Donald often read while Dagny sang. On occasion, she worked on her compositions which were the coursework of her other major. Donald dreamt he was Dracula and feasted on her talent instead of blood.

The Cook, aroused and dressed, sat next to the Blond Commander, who passed Donald the pipe. He took a small hit as to not offend, but to not waste the high before he ate his burger of instant sobriety.

The burger disappeared before Donald received the pipe twice. Eating was filthy and Donald hated cleaning. So he preferred to mess once and clean before others noticed. He failed the second part usually. The addition of barbeque sauce was the most humbling. He fled to the bathroom. Only the mystic power of animal fat could defuse the situation. Dagny followed after him, but Donald closed the door behind him.
Donald washed in the semi-private upstairs bathroom of the Dining Commons. Dagny knocked. Donald blushed and hoped this wasn’t a heathen lockless bathroom, the kind his CCD teacher warned him of.

He wanted Dagny to be a person, but couldn’t get his memory right. There was a fog that left Donald in the dark about who he was and who the people around him were. Donald floated through his day too often, it seemed. He was the moment, but couldn’t recall just which one he was in. He dried himself and left. Dagny entered the restroom.

Donald headed back towards the roof, not to get a little high but to get stoned, the languid state caused by brick weed. High was a proper term, a clear open liberation. He’d never been broke enough to suffer in the languid hell of shoddy Indica, but today he chose to make his body a prison.

Donald needed a drink more than he needed to get stoned because at the center was always another drink. A drink was why he paid the bills and said hello and never pulled the trigger and fopped and flopped and coughed and it would be a drink, not a country, he would die for as if there was a value in life to begin with. With a drink, he could sleep. With a drink maybe he could connect with Dagny and learn why he chose to keep breathing.

Donald paused in the staircase not quite ready to sit back down with his friends on the roof. He wished his parents arranged his marriage like a normal human experienced. Donald’s parents robbed him of a comfortable silence and decades of affairs. Real men don’t cheat; real men don’t marry or act in emotion. Born into a weakened society and birthed to bleeding moderates, who die for neutrality.
End tolerance and revive emotion, Donald cried. Never aloud. They’d put one in a padded room for that kind of statement.
One could be 18 and an adult and bills on the plate, but your parent could lock you up until one’s dying day. Freedom died with the towers, but not like Loose Change. No conspiracy, just the constant guarantee of fear. The commonality of simple minds made Donald wish there were enough drugs to normalize his vision.

Donald’s own need to be desired was troubling enough.
There was more than a blunt waiting for Donald when Dagny and he returned to the roof. Jess sat. She had been texting him and he hated being texted. 140 characters to hell, if someone made some website about that form of atrocity, Donald would join it and wish he hadn’t. Next to Jess was a pizza and he would need that to get to the next dawn. The Commander and the Cook sat on another couch chatting with Jess.
Donald could kick it with that mellow pizza and escape the universe around him. It could be to a worse reality, but he needed anything different.
There was no time for words as each explorer grabbed his ship and set sail. They would meet again on the high seas.

Donald looked at the Ledge, Border, Boundary, End, Edge, and Siren. Jess followed.
“Thoughts” said Donald, posed as a Gargoyle
“Very fake, but sincere” said Jess
He looked at Dagny across the roof
“Very Fake, but Sincere” means not a poser, but they plan to leave the lifestyle and go to suburbs and be normal and teach at their old high school and always talk about those few years, they weren’t Or maybe they don’t go back and marry a lawyer or doctor or become one and live miles from the city in the gated enclaves and commute hours each day to eat and sleep
He returned from the Border Jess returned to his body’s crook, Donald didn’t remove her They stood for as much time that could exist and mostly that which wouldn’t
There was a rightness in Donald’s mind. He would need that rightness in the times to come.
A marching order whispered down the lines, the people demand Esplanade and nothing less: A picnic needed ordering: A rackpack of wine and 3 jugs of orange juice
The only thing Donald knew was each day brought the next one closer and he had plenty of days ahead
Those days existed to the left and never to the right and those were lips
He left the lips, he hoped they weren’t his
A rumor of a trip to the river rained within his world.
He grabbed the blunt box and the wine jug and Jess and ran to the door. Shadows followed. More than he could see.
The river gave you chilled diseases. Birds went for throat
He had the wrong blunt
He suddenly felt like it was 11pm and all he had was a fistful of almonds and half a can of Pringles for supper
He took a swig, maybe of wine, maybe of orange juice, maybe it was both
It tasted of Fruit, but weren’t all origins the same in that they share a maker, designer, producer, CEO, chairman, all priest
A damn shame for those who hated and thought of others more than themselves in that those who were shamed say those who were hated as lesser
He wanted to swim in the river that poisoned the fish that breathed it
Not true, Donald said, we poisoned the river and the fish and the child and always the moment: We exist between the moment and the moment again
“Silly Boy”
Jess became Dagny or always was and that would be answered at a point to be decided
Or maybe it was Jess, Donald’s eyes were standing their ground for the protection of imagination and were not to be as much believed as reflected
Reflection
Donald took a hit
He promised a friend once; he would make Mary Jane’s Bistro and serve traditional home meals and other monstrosities Donald took a Stone Soup approach to cooking He had his fair share of failures but people kept around so it sometimes worked
Dagny/Jess expected words but Donald had none
Donald cackled and hoped it solved the questionable dilemma of communication
Dagny/Jess became the Commander Donald found the result to lean toward success
They sat on the banks of the now blinding river as the sun burned towards the horizon A spot full of harmony that the tree that grew nearby chose to lay down and grow along the water’s edge towards the sea rather than reach for the unattainable freedom of true height The spot felt Donald He would be here now again and eventually in all true moments A spot to prove existence and the worth of having such the toxic river even shined here
The Commander painted but Donald did not intrude on other men’s prayers and let the mystery of what was and would and could sit. It was the last measure of strength in society to control the outflow of life
The taste on his lips was the unmistakable Somerville gem of Cossack It was the taste of home and nostalgia for new experiences that came before The taste of sleeping on dusty tile and dufflebag blankets The taste of youth The taste of flawed idols and parents The taste of sexual peak meeting sexual angst
The screams contained in each sip got him closer to something and that was what the moment required
When Donald was eight, his Grandmother gave him an index car with the words “Doing What’s Required” scribbled on it The line, paraphrased from Churchill, seemed to be the only piece of permanent wisdom to Donald
As the Commander and Donald sat, he knew there would be no Allston art gallery It would only be a chain against their flight towards achievement They needed unasked paintings and dirty dishes and dreams crafted over decades To achieve too soon would be to accomplish the least
Donald sat with the Cook by the Wolf Statue built by a woman in love with her dog or vice versa or possibly by the tribes that ran the swamp of Boston in honor of the canine the Harvard graduate of nature
A howl of words began and the students turned witch doctors became possessed by the damned spirits of the Baby Boomers who were banished for reneging on their victories of youth and need to boast of long loss wars against the machine that keeps them breathing
Vaders all
Donald yearned to apologize to Dagny and be with Jess than switch the roles
He chortled in angst and damned his maker
He didn’t want to be himself The guy who did what guys do at school at home at work at bedtime at the dawn He held himself to Darcy and understood the folly of the notion and the utter bourgeois nature of his primal desires Not even Dean Not even Dean
A life stolen from lyrics over half a century old about different times but the same battles raged into Donald’s twilight
The taste in his mouth burned the cuts from sleepless nights and bored teeth Donald arrived on the doorsteps of Orange Juice, the closest to hydration he imagined within his reach He deemed himself ambivalent on the substance throughout childhood
Too many inferior products in the same category Away from his Mother’s arms, the drink transformed into the absent feeling and once more Donald became whole
Donald walked to his room through the Garden and enjoyed a hookah offered by ghosts of his future

Donald’s sheets became entangled by Jess; Donald discovered when he woke chilled. Donald entered her cocoon and added his mass to the shell surrounding her. His donation came with personal access to the dorm fire escape, which gave him the chance to smoke without going downstairs and tempted Donald with thoughts of inhalation at all hours. Donald would need all the inhales he could get. Donald let the urge to smoke pass as he enjoyed Jess’ slow exhales on his neck and her arms slow stretch to encompass his form. Donald powered on his phone and cleared the memory. The accuracy of machines was the single largest threat to the collective power of the human imagination that Donald had encountered yet. The second, Donald cradled in his arms.

Donald knew his response to Kurt and saved it as a draft of a text.

True, but if they have common ground, they are no longer opposites. Thus they can now succeed, but if that common ground doesn’t develop, the attraction will fade quickly. How long can two opposing forces share the same table without breaking out into conflict? The common ground can be as simple as resolving the outstanding issues. Can the reaction against the opposite become the thin thread that holds the relationship together? For the moments when it works.

Day 1019: You Spin Me Right Round

The Deadspin revolt of 2019.

Last week, the owners of G/O media fka Gizmodo fka Gawker Media told the staff of the sports vertical Deadspin to stop publishing non sports stories on the sports site. The staff reacted by quitting.

The chattering class was outraged at the owners for telling the staff of a sports site to stick to sports. No killing of controversial sports stories just no more political clickbait.

This is insane. If the order was to say only write positive things on these teams who are paying us for the coverage then taking a stand for integrity is righteous. This was not that. To say that someone must pay you for content other than the content you were hired to write is not true. If the staffers wanted to write politics they could have made their own site on their own time.

In August, a former editor claimed in an article the political content got better views than the sports content. What does that matter? Should the ny times stop publishing journalism because op-eds get more traffic? The worse part of being an employee is you are the ship not the captain.

Was the staff wrong to quit Deadspin? I don’t think they were. They didn’t want to be sports writers. This was a story with no heroes no villains. The owners want a sports site, the staff wanted a name brand playground. What was slimy was for the former staff to act like martyrs. In a time where mass layoffs in media will only become more common, they threw away an union job because they wanted their anti trump rants to have the deadspin banner instead of their blogs. They will argue Deadspin died before they did this but it won’t be true.

I hope G/O media gets Deadspin restaffed asap with writers who are grateful for the rare gift of paid work. The media industry has become too small for tantrums and is only getting smaller.

-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

Day 151: Found Them

Day 145: Humans After Humanity

This New American Life
I write this in a booth waiting for my current delivery order to be prepared in an empty restaurant that ten years ago would have been crowded. The music is a soft bossa nova and the kitchen while busy is careful to avoid clangs. The decor is standard a medium brown stain colors the wood and the carpet is green and clean. A mother and her retired son are the only other customers. She is dancing while waiting for the spring rolls to arrive. The owner hands me a thai tea on the house while I wait. I can’t help but worry for the fate of America. I can’t help but wonder where do we go from here.
The internet has redefined what and why we eat. It’s less about what we like and having haunts we return to but posting from the current trends to be considered a cool kid. Even those who do not post on social media still Google and Yelp their choices based on the impression that the best rated by those apps have more value experience wise for their dollars. The hive mind that is social media causes attention inequality and narrows culture especially food culture.
Speaking of the Hive Mind. What do we talk about when we say we shouldn’t give someone a platform. As in the current uproar over Megyn Kelly interviewing Alex Jones, a man who has been paid to spew filth since my childhood. He long ago built his alternative media platform and give a place for wayward views. He helped Trump win without a doubt and his org Infowars will have white house press credentials. He doesn’t need an interview on NBC but NBC and those who oppose his views do need these kinds of interviews. Darkness cannot be allowed to fester. Pre-internet denying mainstream outlets was a good way to slow repulsive thought but now mainstream media is one if the last shared spaces in American life and is more effective as a means of exposing. 
The tendency of the internet to drive conformity from food and fashion trends to preventing public discourse is disconcerting to say the least. Humanity’s story is one driven by innovation through diversity not just the kind on a college application check box. How much have we lost? What will it take next?
-E.C. Fiori

Day 104: Cormac McCarthy and A Nation of Peter Pans

There is a very American fear I used to have. It’s embarrassingly selfish and naive to admit, but I always had the creeping suspicion that I would miss my generational moment. Decade by decade, there seem to be cultural hubs in America, where the groundswell of the next cultural wave begins, to roll out across the country, until another starts to build somewhere else.

I never really knew how famous authors, directors, and public intellectuals seemed to be present in these moments. What happened to those who spent the late fifties in Portland instead of New York? Or the sixties in St. Louis instead of San Francisco?

Perhaps it’s a symptom of getting older, but I don’t really have that fear anymore. I was re-reading “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy last night (written off by a lot of fans as “movie fodder”, which I think is a shame because it is actually very experimental compared to his work both before and after).

In it the protagonist, Sheriff Bell, has small first person passages scattered throughout the book, reflecting on the state of the world he lives in. One quote in particular has stuck with me, and I’ve started to believe it’s connected to that old fear:

“Young people anymore they seem to have a hard time growin up. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just that you don’t grow up any faster than you have to.” (pg. 159)

I think this is especially applicable with my generation, “the millennials.” It’s hard to interact with any of them and not feel like we live in a nation of Peter Pans. As if a stubborn refusal to grow up will somehow keep looming, ice-age sized economic problems at bay. Part of the difficulty in any kind of massive movement based on these problems is that the young of the falling middle class are still able to leech off of those who have profited from it in the past. Young men and women can still lean on ever weakening family bonds for financial support.

And it’s okay right now. It seems like there is a lot of individual freedom- people can make money streaming video games, or blogging from vans, or go to grad school. But a decade from now, the national anxiety will really reach a fever pitch.

There will be a large movement, and I think it will spring from the millennial generation, when it finally sets in that things will not get better. When opportunities for job security turn out not to exist. When healthcare becomes an issue as we age. When the generation after us comes into the workforce, and we realize that there is no upward mobility anymore. The little projects and Netflix shows and cultural wars we busy ourselves will, with harsh suddenty, not matter.

I’ve started to believe that our reaction to that fact will be our lasting legacy- our cultural movement. It isn’t that we don’t have a place at the table: it’s that we are lead into a room where others are wildly hacking at the table so they can get a piece, and even as we get our hands on an axe or hammer, the top is gone, the legs are long pulled away, and all thats left are screws and dust and the echoes of labored breathing, cursing us for fools for being late to the party.

-Jack Delaney

Day 97: The Circle will be Unbroken

Cultural critique has become irrelevant to modern society as a whole. There are occasional reviews worth the words but the garbage heap has grown thick around them. At some level, the increase of cultural production (mostly garbage) is a cause of worse critique as well as content devaluing, if people pay less for culture, they won’t spend more to hear New Yorkers talk about it. Deep though I believe the decline is from stasis within the field.
Lacan has become a plague. What was once a fresh lens 60 years ago has become the intellectual equivalent of duck tape. Lacan’s sentences support themselves so well, they can support almost any other thesis. Like an Ouroboros, his prose circles back on itself. This isn’t against Lacan but against the abuse of his work. I shouldn’t feel the need to grab a red pen and email “come see me during office hours” with the mark up. 
I get the sense that most reviewers hate their job as well. The long rambling tangents on current events, musings on societal opinions, plain old academic discourse has become the focus. The actual piece being reviewed will have a synopsis often feeling like the wikipedia entry being rehashed. While 500 words on casting choices sounds like it is about the film, it is more about the political beliefs of the reviewer. Actual discussion of the piece that exists gets peppered in to appease their editor. The reviewer knows the reader’s opinion has been set before clicking through.

 One failure is the continued reliance for reviewers to be living in New York. Before the millions of remote working options, it makes sense to hire writers near the main office. Now that the laptop is the writer’s screening room and a conference room not so much. This creates a bubble best shown by “Girls”, a show on averaged watched by 1.5% of HBO subscribers and with ratings below that of other canceled HBO shows. However it was a must watch for critics who would spend the next Monday pushing out praise and roundtables. It might be possible to find the number of employed reviewers through viewership numbers. Critics loved seeing their neighborhood and friends on screen, their current definition of a cultural moment. 
In an age of seemingly infinite content, critique has become inefficient. The major cultural commentary outlets waste their resources screening pieces with major distribution making the article, a free ad for the production. Whether franchise, remake, adaptation, or the elusive original property modern audiences know if they will see it thanks to targeted social media campaigns and mass publicity blitzes. Before Google and the marketing delivery systems of the iPhone and Facebook, these reviews did serve as an informative method of discovering recent major releases. The challenge for critics now is to not be the emperor in the Coliseum but Shackleton in Antarctica. The internet is dark and full of terror to paraphrase Game of Thrones/ A Song of Ice and Fire. If I like Vice, what’s another lesser known but similar quality option? What indie films blocked out of major festivals deserve my attention? What soundcloud/bandcamp pages should I book mark? These are the questions critique should be answering.
-E.C. Fiori