Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Twin Peaks Was Never This Weird

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
     Holdover pre-Millennial Yuppies were overjoyed to hear earlier this year that director David Lynch would be at the helm directing the Twin Peaks reboot. Yes, Agent Cooper would be back investigating a single murder and we'd be treated to fresh weirdness in the town of Twin Peaks in which women talking to logs swaddled in their arms and dancing midgets speaking backwards was another day at the office for Agent Cooper. Yet despite the quasi carnival weirdness of his oeuvre, David Lynch could not have envisioned in his worst fever dream the even more disturbing real-life weirdness of the recent massacre at the Twin Peaks Sports Bar in Waco.
     The first sign of the weirdness was the almost complete absence of the word "massacre." True, it paled in comparison to the last massacre, one claiming 80 lives, in that same town involving David Koresh and his mostly white Branch Davidians defying mostly white law enforcement over illegal possession of firearms. But Waco, if it hasn't already, should prove how law enforcement's pendulum as a whole has swung 180 degrees in how it treats white criminals.
     The conflagration at Waco that claimed dozens of lives 22 years ago, many of them women and children, along with the equally reprehensible massacre at Ruby Ridge the year before, seemed to have a mollifying effect on law enforcement. It was as if, from the moment Agent Lon Horiuchi (who inexplicably was present during the Waco standoff in 1993) blew off Vicki Weaver's face while she was carrying her year-old child, law enforcement vowed to be kinder and gentler to white criminals even to the point of putting their own lives at hazard.
     Case in point: The police showed up at the end of the gunfight that saw nine dead men and they reported that some of the gang members had actually opened fire on them. Despite warnings to Twin Peaks from local law enforcement to not host what was obviously a planned event/melee, the Bandidos and Cossacks, two rival gangs, met at the sports bar. A bathroom brawl quickly escalated into a knife fight which quickly escalated into a gun fight. In seemingly no time, bikers were punching, stabbing, clubbing and shooting each other until the restaurant's parking lot was littered with bodies.

"Drop Your Weapons... If You Feel Like It."
     Here's where the weirdness really begins. Thanks largely to social media, when local police finally got a handle on the situation, the aftermath was eerily calm and civilized (not that civilized behavior on the part of US law enforcement should be considered eerie but it is what it is), as best exemplified by the photo above in which a lone McLennan County deputy actually has his back turned to the very same bikers who'd carried out this massacre and who are serenely sitting, chatting and even checking their text messages. The police were considerate enough to separate the gangs (and not illegally pulling them off buses and herding them together to manufacture a confrontation with police as in Baltimore) and were calmly awaiting a bus to take them to the police station for an orderly booking.
     If you do a Google image search using the words "Waco" and "shootout", you will be very hard-pressed, at best, to find a single cop in riot gear, tanks and no photos of white gang members getting shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, beaten or otherwise the images of Ferguson that became iconic. This, despite knowing weeks in advance there'd be a confrontation and after taking fire.
     If any one photo is perfectly iconic of white privilege and of the double standard in American law enforcement, especially when one compares it to photos of the shooting of Walter Scott, Darren Wilson standing over Mike Brown's dead body, the public strangulation of Eric Garner or the immediate execution of 12 year-old Tamir Rice, it's the one just above.
     Most notable was the right wing media's insistence on portraying this epic mass murder as an anomaly carried out by "club members". Local law enforcement, in fact, knew about this fatal confrontation weeks in advance and essentially did nothing but warn the bar owner not to host the event (who then had the nerve to issue a press release condemning the event and vowing to work with law enforcement). In fact, it appears as if Texas law enforcement had already given up and decided to let it happen as a bulletin issued throughout the Lone Star state said, "Information has been received that law enforcement presence will not stop motorcycle gang from completing their mission."
     Which is essentially the opposite of Rudy Giuliani's failed "Broken Windows" campaign in which street vendors, buskers and the like were targeted for police harassment while Wall Street bankers were coddled, their sterling reputations and bottom lines being protected by that same law enforcement during Occupy Wall Street. After all, the whole idea of the NYPD's now illegal policy of racial profiling is to prevent crime, right?

We Whites Are Guilty But For the Wrong Reason
     Much has been made about white guilt of late but pundits miss their pinpoint attempts, which is to say we feel guilty for the wrong reasons. One of the hallmarks of an evolving species is to learn from our mistakes on both a personal as well as a social level so, as George Santayana warned us, we are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of history. After the mishandling on the part of the Boston FBI in the Whitey Bulger case, Ruby Ridge and Waco, it'd be nice to conclude that law enforcement, starting at the federal level, had learned from these horrendous errors in judgment and vowed to exercise more restraint.
     But there's such a thing as responsible restraint and the overtly craven and cowardly behavior we saw in Nevada a year ago when tax dodging racist rancher Cliven Bundy surrounded himself with different white nationalist militia groups who sighted down on federal agents with high-powered rifles. In fact, two of those armed combatants were so radical they were kicked off the Bundy Ranch and went on to murder two police officers in Las Vegas. Obviously, that restraint has been reserved only for fellow whites and not to people judged guilty of Angry Black Man Syndrome (which is the opposite, more violent side of white guilt but that's a topic for another article).
     Yet the national narrative, one that's unfortunately metastasized from within the confines of right wing media are that whites who riot and burn cars after hockey games are just excited fans blowing off steam while African Americans peacefully protesting the murder of one of their own are looting and rioting. While right wingers claim Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin were "thugs" who had it coming to them, even to the point of producing supposedly incriminating photos who weren't actually who they said they were, "highly organized criminal enterprises"/motorcycle gangs who murder each other and put law enforcement and public safety at hazard are simple "club members."
     And let's not forget the opposite of the court of public opinion, renegade public officials who help bring about massacres like the Waco shootout who seriously listen to criminals like Mike Lynch, who was one of the 170 bikers arrested, successfully argue for looser gun control laws.
     Which is another important revelation you won't hear about in the mainstream media.
     What you will hear about are attractive white girls and boys who disappear, phantom black criminals that law enforcement happily chases after like bloodhounds after a scent, unarmed black victims who allegedly reached for guns that retroactively weren't there after all, peaceful black protesters called rioters and rioting, car-burning whites called hockey fans and good ole white boys who simply have to get together once in a while and murder each other to blow off some steam.
     Because white boys will be white boys, after all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Good Times at Pottersville, 5/19/15

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Good Times at Pottersville, #29

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Publish and Perish

(Addendum: The paperback version can be found here.)
      OK, so the Kindle version of Tatterdemalion went live two weeks ago and after the first day bump, what's known as the curiosity factor, it sold seven copies. Since that day, it's gone downhill. I partly blame myself for that since I have a better instinct for publicity and marketing than an actual talent for it.
     But after endless delays and endless typos I've had to iron out since I'm a shitty proofreader, I can finally say the 100% typo-free print version of Tatterdemalion will go live as of tomorrow (when I'll post the link at the top of this post so stay tuned if you're interested).
     Despite shaving the size of the book down to 446 pages (including two sample chapters of the sequel The Murder Machine), the price point is still higher than I'd like. The minimum I can charge for the book is $15.50 (and that's at cost, with no royalty involved). Lower page count or no, my guess is my publisher Createspace is predicating a large percentage of the overhead cost on the ink, not the paper. Tatterdemalion still weighs in at just over 193,000 words. Only widening the margins, lengthening the line count per page and keeping the font to 9 dpi got the page count down to a more manageable 446.
     But never let it be said I don't have my readers' best interests at heart. So this is my promotional gimmick:
     To anyone who buys the print version of Tatterdemalion, notify me you'd done so and I'll throw in for free either via attachment or snail mail a 10,000+ word Scott Carson tale entitled "The Kid." This extremely rare short story takes place in 1873 when Carson is six years-old but it goes a long way toward explaining some of the events 15 years later in Tatterdemalion and later in The Murder Machine. It has an O. Henry surprise ending. Actually, it packs a lot of backstory into it, including when he first met his future friend and mentor Jacob Riis, the Danish photographer/anti-poverty crusader who became very instrumental at the end of Tatterdemalion.
     So, if you'd rather have the paperback version of my historical psychological thriller, stay tuned and I'll provide you with the link the minute the book goes live tommorrow.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Good Times at Pottersville, 4/29/15

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jack the Ripper's at Large

     The wait is over. Well, for me, at least. You've heard me yammering on about Tatterdemalion, my Caleb Carr-esque historical psychological thriller. Well, I finally uploaded it on Kindle last night and it went live today. You can find it right here for the low price of $4.99 (not a bad price to pay for a thriller that's nearly 200,000 words-long).
     And, as any author can tell you, books tend to sell better when they have trailers so these are the ones I'd made last summer with my Windows Movie maker. Be advised there are graphic images in the lead video above, especially at 39 seconds in. For those of you who could do without that or even music, try the one below which is silent except for some Victorian street sounds I'd downloaded off a public domain site on the internet.

     Some of you may recall that, originally, I'd intended to have these narrated by voiceover artist Debbie Irwin but she led me on by suggesting she'd be willing to negotiate then pulled the string and in the end we couldn't come to terms. Hopefully, they'll prove compelling enough to get people to buy it at this rock-bottom introductory offer of $4.99.
     Happy reading (I hope).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fifty Shades of Gray, Black and Blue

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan.)
     "Running while black is not probable cause. Felony running doesn’t exist, and you can’t arrest someone for looking you in the eye." - Billy Murphy, Gray family attorney

     At first it may look as if the highly suspicious death of Freddy Gray, the 25 year-old African American who was arrested April 12 and died last Sunday morning, will see some satisfactory resolution. After all, Baltimore's police Commissioner is black, the mayor has promised a thorough investigation and six Baltimore officers have been suspended.
     Yet optics in our world are constantly and often deliberately deceptive. While the Baltimore PD has "made some concessions about lack of probable cause", the mystery deepens as to what exactly happened to Gray between the time he was dragged screaming in pain into a police van and when EMS was called a half hour later to the scene after spontaneously suffering a medical emergency in which, it was found, 80% of his spinal cord was severed and he was already in a coma.
     Baltimore police are also clamming up about why exactly he was arrested and deliberately targeted by the Baltimore PD when he, not the police, was obviously in fear for his life or if the switchblade they'd allegedly taken from his pocket was even his. Despite the autopsy having been completed, the ME still has not arrived at a cause of death.
     Only one thing remains clear in these fifty shades of opacity in the wake of yet another police killing: Freddy Gray is dead and the Baltimore Brotherhood, six of whom enjoying a paid vacation, is clamming up.
     It's impossible to see how anyone can still claim with a straight face that we are not living in a police state, one in which a wildly dysfunctional criminal justice system is skewed in favor of said police state and justice for its innocent victims doesn't seem to be a priority. Exhibit A:
     Just yesterday, Officer Dante Servin of the Chicago PD was exonerated of all charges by Judge Dennis Porter  In his ruling, Porter actually said, "Simply put, the evidence presented in this case does not support the charges on which the defendant was indicted and tried. There being no evidence of recklessness as a matter of law, there is no evidence to which the state could sustain its burden of proof... as to involuntary manslaughter. Therefore, there is a finding of not guilty on all counts and the defendant is discharged."
     In 2012, Servin was offduty and sitting in his car when Rekia Boyd, a 22 year-old African American woman, was walking with four friends. Apparently, Servin thought the dark people were being too loud and he told them to keep it down. Then Servin pulled his service pistol and actually fired four shots, over his shoulder, into the crowd of unarmed people and struck and killed Boyd.
     Servin had the nerve to claim he felt his life was in danger when he supposedly saw one of the men reach into his waistband, which is, in our criminal justice system, literally a get or stay out of jail free card. It looked as if it was a slam dunk case for the prosecution for at least reckless manslaughter.
     But then again, the case against Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo were also considered slam dunks.

White Paranoia Trumps Black Innocence

     Porter's decision sets a dangerous precedent for people of color all over the nation, even though a precedent has already clearly been established. Just a week and a half ago, The Washington Post released the findings of a joint study conducted by it and Bowling Green State University. Sticking out like a sore thumb was this horrifying statistic: Less than 1 officer in 1000 reported police killings of civilians resulted in charges (not convictions, charges) of wrongful death. And those thousands of reported shootings go back just a decade.
     Of the tiny fraternity of 54 officers who've been charged with wrongful deaths since 2005, one is now a police chief of a town not 20 miles from the scene of his crime because he was given the chance to plead to a lesser charge and keep a criminal conviction off his record.
     The Washington Post even cited a case of an officer in Cleveland, the same city in which 12 year-old Tamir Rice was gunned down without any chance for compliance, who went completely berserk and fired nearly 50 shots at a car after a chase, killing an unarmed couple. To this day, he's on trial for two counts of voluntary manslaughter.
     Those of you with a sense of history may recall the case of Amidou Diallo, a young New York man of color, who was gunned down by four NYPD officers and shot at no less than 41 times. The officers, too, cited fear of their lives over a phantom gun that never materialized and they were all exonerated.
     Last February, a 57 year-old farmer from India was visiting his relatives in Alabama to help care for his prematurely-born grandchild. Sureshbhai Patel was peacefully walking down the street when a paranoid white man called 911 to say he saw a black man and feared for his wife's safety. It's unclear if he was referring to Patel but when one of the two responding officers saw Patel, he thought he was a black man and threw him so hard to the ground he'd partially paralyzed him. Thankfully, he was fired from the force on the initiative of his Chief and another, Eric Parker, is up on 3rd degree assault charges.
     In the movies, when we see cops brutally beating and killing bad guys and firing dozens of bullets at one target, it's intended mainly for entertainment purposes. In real life, barring the most extreme of situations, real life law enforcement is not supposed to look like a Dirty Harry movie yet it is. And just like the cops in the movies, their real-life analogs often get away with such criminally reckless and public-endangering behavior.
     And it's notable that in the wake of an unjustified police killing, often white authority figures call for the public to remain calm and maintain order while not expecting the police to lead by example.
     The ongoing genocide of black people carried out with horrifying impunity by the thin blue line, this clash of black and blue, is a deepening bruise on the face of America. While white cops fire loaded guns over their shoulders into crowds of innocent people, while they use illegal methods to choke unarmed victims, while self-styled neighborhood watch captains kill children for walking in sundown towns and while white privileged teens get off scot-free on ridiculous defenses such as "affluenza", their black victims are regularly vilified.
     And there is something deeply wrong with a nation with pretensions to unequivocal equality that allows such institutionalized racism to continue virtually unabated.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Good Times at Pottersville, 4/20 edition redux

Good Times at Pottersville, 4/20 edition

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Don't be a Dancing Bear

     15 or more years ago, my last family and I would go camping in New Hampshire and during those vacations, we'd go to Clark's Trading Post. Depending on your viewpoint, Clark's was either a delightful tourist trap, the perfect place to take the wife and kiddies or it was some exploitative place that used bears for the idle and witless amusement for those who loved to see them do tricks.
     But politics and animal rights has to take a back seat when one is on vacation with the fam so on two occasions we'd see the stupid little tricks the staff would make the bears do.
     Yet the only way in which they could get these so-called trained bears to do even the simplest stupid little tricks was to constantly shovel soft-serve ice cream in their mouths. Through their portable mics, they'd even admit that if they stopped constantly feeding ice cream, the fat, furry greedy bastards would immediately stop performing and perhaps even turn on them with lethal force.
     The bears could be looked upon by the more cynical of us as the Teabaggers, with the staff the Republican Party that feeds and enables them. Except, instead of soft-serve ice cream, they throw them red meat on a constant basis. The minute the red meat stops slapping on the concrete, the Teabaggers will revolt, stop performing their stupid little astroturf tricks and turn on their GOP handlers.
     Scott Brown learned that the first time he cast a vote in the Senate that agreed with the Democrats. A typical self-serving politician, he cynically used the Teabaggers to defeat Martha Coakley when they ran for the late Ted Kennedy's seat. Then he forgot they even existed once he was sworn in. After all, who cares about the Teabaggers when you can always suck up to the Koch Brothers for a cash infusion?
     And, just as much as when Obama was running for the presidency in 2008 and 2012, we're going to be hearing about blow jobs and Benghazi for the next fucking 18 months, especially if Hillary Clinton, God help us, actually gets the nomination. And you're going to see the red meat fly like a food fight at a junior high cafeteria. Because the GOP seems to think the Teabaggers make up a much larger faction than they really are.
     But the Teabaggers didn't just spontaneously rise up fully-formed as Athena from the skull of Zeus. As anyone who's been paying attention to these mouth-breathing psychopaths knows, they're just regurgitated and reconstituted Klansmen, militia types, anarchists and libertarian holdovers. They are the dregs of human society who all have a few things in common: Not wanting to pay their taxes, not being regulated even when it's absolutely essential and basically being allowed to flout, ignore or outright break the law when it impinges on their "sovereign rights."
     And now I'm going to say something that'll briefly get me in hot water with some Democratic deadenders who still insist that voting for a so-called Democrat like Hillary Clinton is still better than voting for the slightly less extreme and lobbyist-infested Republican: I'm not voting for Hillary. I've made my views on this known.
     When I voted for Dennis Kucinich in the '08 Massachusetts Democratic presidential primary, my ex girlfriend told me my vote was wasted and I told her that a vote of conscience was never a wasted vote. Yeah, I voted for Obama later that year but did it holding my nose because I bought into the bullshit that a third party candidate had no validity and no chance of winning.
     Sure. Tell that to Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders.
     And those of us who fancy ourselves on the "right" side of the tracks also need our red meat. Only, instead of "nigger", "Muslim" and "Benghazi", we respond to "universal single payer health care", "campaign finance reform" and "investing in peace." But red meat by another name is still red meat and you'd be surprised how fast it disappears in your stomach once you gobble it down.
     Hillary Clinton had more lobbyists attached to her campaign in 2008 than K Street and the Federal Bureau of Prisons combined, more than even John McCain's campaign. She was a corporate attorney that was on Walmart's Board of Directors and she opportunistically got herself reelected to her Senate seat out of New York even though it was the most open secret of the day that she wouldn't even last the year before wildly throwing her hat in the big ring like Mary fucking Tyler Moore and look what happened.
     And I will believe to my dying day that Hillary Clinton inspired Meryl Streep when she played that hard-as-nails, ball-cutting Senator in the remake of The Manchurian Candidate.
     One more thing I will keep repeating to my dying breath is the illusion that we live in a nation with a Two Party system, something vehemently opposed by both George Washington and John Adams. Such a fallacious story is the biggest bag over the head con job that's ever been pulled over the head of the American voter since the amusement park entrance fee, commercials on cable and extended warranties.
     Because when you get right down to it, both parties are alike. They will undercut underperformers when it comes time to count campaign contributions even if it means the Other Guy grabbing the seat when they withhold support for Their Guy. They all tiptoe through the back door of the Bilderberg group's meetings and they all work for the same Wall Street banks and the same corporations. Their pretense at shadow boxing each other and the fact that one side's rhetoric is slightly less extreme than the other has successfully fooled Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives alike into thinking there really is separation between the parties.
     Freelance journalist Michael Collins calls both The Money Party. And he's right.
     So don't put on the little tutu, don't dance on the yoga ball or ride the little tricycle and don't let them stuff your face with endless soft serve ice cream or red meat. Make an informed choice. Don't be a stupid dancing bear.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why Isn't Anyone Saying the "G" Word?

      Perhaps it's a semantic term relying heavily on sheer numbers. That is, after all, a prerequisite when looking at definitions of the word "genocide" in our most esteemed lexicons. Yet one cannot argue against the definition's expansion on reading the 1944 interpretation of Raphael Lemkin, the Polish Jewish jurist:
By 'genocide' we mean the destruction of an ethnic group... Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.
     Naturally, given the time in which this expansion of genocide's definition is ventured, Lemkin was obviously talking about the Holocaust and the horrors of the Warsaw ghettos. But totalitarian mindsets remain unchanged and eternal even if the victim profile changes every generation or so. And as the unwarranted deaths of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, John Crawford III, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Walter Scott and now Eric Harris are painting a more and more detailed picture, we need not be talking about 6,000,000 murders of a class of people to use the word genocide.
     It had made the rounds last week that Nate Silver of, while admitting details and specific numbers were lacking, was certain that in 2014 alone more African Americans were killed by police than had perished on 9/11. This is a horrifying enough statistic when one considers African Americans comprise only 12% or so of the national population. What's even more horrifying is that it seems every week brings news of a white cop killing another unarmed African American man, often shooting him in the back.
     As it happened with Eric Harris on April 2nd and Walter Scott a mere two days later.
     Yet, according to police and their invariably white, authoritarian-loving apologists (as long as said authoritarianism doesn't impinge on their "sovereign rights"), every one of these African Americans had it coming to them because they were "thugs" or maybe shouldn't've acted all uppity.
     Yet when one looks at police action in this generation, one sees more than a mere pattern of behavior. One can connect only so many dots before those dots actually begin to form a detailed picture as if it was some pointilist portrait of paranoia.
     James Holmes had murdered 12 people, wounded 58 more and was armed with several automatic weapons when he was taken alive without further incident.
     Jared Lee Loughner had murdered six, including a child and a judge, and nearly assassinated former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and sustained nothing worse than a black eye.
     Jeffery Dahmer had murdered and dismembered at least 17 men and boys and was taken into custody without incident.
     John Wayne Gacy had murdered nearly twice as many men and boys and was also taken into custody without incident.
     The list goes on.
     Now let's look at the other side of the coin, without having to resort to much cherry-picking.
     On New Year's Day 2009, Oscar Grant was shot in the back and killed at Fruitvale Station for a crime he didn't commit while handcuffed and on his stomach. Officer Mehserle claimed he was going to tase the incapacitated Grant yet shot him with his pistol.
     17 year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by self-styled neighborhood watch captain and police groupie George Zimmerman for simply walking back to his father's house from the store after sundown, even after the latter had been advised by the Sanford police to stand down. He was exonerated. Zimmerman, despite subsequent repeated violent offenses, was hailed as a hero while Martin's name was smeared to the point of racists posting supposedly incriminating pictures of other young black males.
     John Crawford III was shot and killed by two police officers at an Ohio Walmart for holding a toy gun after a scared old white woman's call to 911 (Although she did say it was probably a toy gun.)
     12 year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by an unvetted, mentally-unstable Cleveland cop two seconds after his arrival for also holding a toy gun. He was then denied medical assistance and his distraught 14 year-old sister was actually arrested for Grieving While Black.
     19 year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, MO by Darren Wilson for jaywalking. Racists raised over half a million dollars for Wilson on Go Fund Me and sold tee shirts while claiming that cigars that Brown allegedly stole (he did not) alone justified his execution.
     Walter Scott was shot in the back and killed eight days ago in South Carolina for a busted tail light and the cop who shot him, Michael Slager, quickly and calmly planted a taser that Slager alleged was taken from him by Scott as if the planting of evidence is a default tactic in the wake of a racially-motivated shooting. The mainstream media, without double sourcing or vetting, blindly accepted and disseminated the police's version of events, including the alleged "scuffle" until the video emerged. (Yes, the MSM calmly reports that black people can be killed after a "scuffle.")
     In an eerie reprise of Fruitvale Station, Eric Harris was caught in a sting operation in OK on April 2nd and the 73 year-old reserve deputy pulled his gun instead of his taser and shot Harris in the back. When the dying victim gasped he couldn't breathe, one of the cops present said, "Fuck your breath."
     In Miami Gardens last February 15th, police shot and killed 25 year-old Lavall Hall, a mental-ill man, after family had called 911 for medical assistance. He was armed with nothing but a red broom he wasn't even holding at the moment of his execution.
     Last November, Kansas police shot and killed Carlos Davenport for wielding a sword on a second story balcony. As usual, the cops cited fear for their lives.
     Eric Garner was choked to death over a loose cigarette (that he didn't have) on Staten Island July last year by Officer Daniel Pantaleo with a choke hold that had been banned 21 years before. The man who filmed the incident was arrested on a suspicious gun charge and was only recently released from Riker's Island. Despite Mr. Orta's video evidence, Officer Pantaleo, as with Darren Wilson before him, was exonerated by a grand jury.
     Obviously, this is far from an exhaustive list and doesn't even include the countless murders of people of color by white civilians. Yet in virtually every one of these cases we see the same narrative replayed like a broken record: The officers were in "fear for their lives" despite not a single one of the victims being armed. Racists and fair weather police proponents insisting every one of the victims, including 12 year-old Tamir Rice, "had it coming to them."
     And, most inescapably, every single killer was white and every single victim was black.
     Yet, do we hear calls from the law enforcement community for a paradigm shift in attitude and policy in their rapidly deteriorating community relations? Hardly. Instead, we've seen a doubling down of the totalitarian mindset that makes these genocidal acts possible and going largely unpunished. Instead, we hear police chiefs and heads of police unions actually expressing rage that African Americans would dare to peacefully protest the murder of another one of their own with little or no provocation.
     They insist the protesters are muck-raking rioters, looters and are deliberately smearing the police, who are the real victims, further making community-police relations deteriorate. This insistence on portraying themselves as the victims, insisting the African Americans are needlessly inciting public disorder and have no right to protest an execution of one of their own and refusing to defuse volatile situations and that their safety should come before that of the public they're allegedly sworn to protect bespeaks of a mindset that is unmistakably motivated and guided by racism, fascism and paranoia.
     So, yes. Let us freely use the word "genocide" because we have literally come full circle from where we were when the Freedom Riders took to the streets half a century ago.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Not So Happy Trails

     So, it all ended up with a hilarious Nigerian banker-type email I got from someone through Craigslist. The story doesn't begin so humorously. But I'm deliberately putting the cart before the ox. (Sometimes when listening to generic surf music, I fancy I'm the Quentin Tarantino of bloggers. But enough time displacement.)
     It started two days ago when my formerly even-tempered landlord of just over six years and I got into a completely unnecessary pissing match via text messaging. It stemmed from a separate pissing match he'd gotten into with his (now former) waste removal company who'd decided to pull a dick move on April 3rd (or the day Mrs. JP came back from Florida). They parked the dumpster after emptying it right in front of my car, blocking the walkway so I was retroactively in the wrong for having my car in the wrong spot, although I was parked in my designated parking spot.
     Long story short, I and not the dickish trash company got blamed for blocking egress which explains why my landlord insisted I had to move my car yesterday to make way for the platform truck that never actually arrived to take away the old dumpster. His fat-ass Ford F150 takes up almost half the driveway and I asked him why he couldn't move his truck instead of my having to move my car for a tow truck that could come at any time.
     After about a half a dozen exchanges, he finally tells me he's not renewing my lease when it expires. Nobody but Mrs. JP and me thinks this was a disproportionately harsh response to a spat via text message, the first one we've ever had in 6+ years. Furthermore, when I took Mrs. JP out to get away from it all later that night, he continued texting me and calling me names because another tenant whom he'd long since dismissed as insane now suddenly was making valid complaints about how I was parking my suddenly very offensive car because they were about yours truly. When I informed him that she parks next to me and not vice versa, he called us both clowns. In other words, I've come full circle and am in exactly the same position I was in six years ago when I finally got out of a toxic environment in which I couldn't do or say anything right. Self defense and trying to apply truth, reason and logic, at this point, just further enrages those around me. Think Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later and you'll have an idea of what we have to deal with here.
     This was delineated rather vividly when I came back from the supermarket and Mrs. JP informed me my landlord's mother called. She said I should go over and talk to her. I did and within minutes she was screaming at me because Junior (His real nickname, to this day, is "Pee Wee". No I am not shitting you. His nickname is actually "Pee Wee.") shared my private texts with her and she''d pronounced me "rude". I wasn't the one slinging ad hominems and resorting to name-calling. But, whatever. Then she actually said, and I shit you not, "Get the fuck off my lawn."
     Yeah, just like that, only minus the shotgun.
     So, despite paying my rent on time 71 of 72 times over the last six plus years, despite Mrs. JP and I being model tenants, I'm now suddenly the most despised man on my street over stuff I hadn't done that started with a pissing match between my landlord and one of his contractors. I offered to speak to him face-to-face but he refused and now he's essentially avoiding me while letting (as usual) Mommy fight his battles for him.
     He's 50 years-old, by the way.
     So, I began poking around on Craigslist as I was forced to do over six years ago while searching for suitable housing. I'd found quite a few winners on CL in 2009, let me tell you, including
creepy guys calling my house and asking if I was gay when all I wanted to know if a room or apartment was available.
     But nothing I'd experienced back then could prepare me for whatever or whoever I'd met yesterday.
     I'm sure by now we've all gotten at least one of those Nigerian banker chain emails originally written by unemployed Engrish-speaking fortune cookie writers in the 90's that are long since dead. I found something that seemed to be the trick in a city about 20-25 miles west of us. For $50 less a month, someone purported to offer the 2nd floor of a private house, 3 bedrooms, two baths, with all utilities included. So I wrote them through the email address I was given and finally got a response today.
     It was written by someone for whom English is obviously a second or third language. This is the first paragraph:
Thanks for your interest and inquiries about my house. Yes the house is still available for rent and we are looking for a responsible person/family to occupy and maintain the house now that we are not around. I work with the united nations development program(UNDP) Edinburgh Scotland and I just got a transfer that is bringing me down to West Africa. Myself and Family just traveled to West Africa for the program. My transfer would be for a period between 3-6 years, so I would definitely be renting my house to whom ever that will take good care of it.
     Wait, it gets better. "She" then goes on to state she once had a realtor to represent her all the way from Scotland but the realtor charged too high a realtor fee, which jacked up the rent, explaining why she's representing the house herself... all the way from what is now West Africa (no country specified).
     The cell phone I was given to text features an area code and exchange number from Polk County in central Florida. So, in short, we've already gone all the way from central Massachusetts, to Edinburgh, Scotland, to West Africa to central Florida all in the space of a day.
     The original Craigslist ad had meanwhile been flagged for removal, obviously by other people who'd gotten the same Nigerian banker-style email I'd gotten.
     And it actuslly gets better. Much better.
     The first email had embedded in it an "application" consisting of softball questions largely asking for information I'd already provided (name, email, phone numbers, etc).
     Within the hour, I got the marvelous news that my application was approved and that they were about to Fedex me keys and "documents" that would allow me to move in immediately.
     Meanwhile, I'd found out my new "benefactor", supposedly named Mrs Deborah Rutter, doesn't work for the UNDP (which, a quick peek on Wikipedia told me was rife with corruption, counterfeiting and other criminal activity) but is actually the new President of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. A quick check of the address of the listed property showed it was still being represented by a realtor here in MA who's renting not just the second floor for the paltry sum of $600 a month, with all utilities included, but the entire house for $1700 a month.
     Here's how this would've played out:
     They'd've Fedexed me some fake keys, a fake lease, then instruct me where to mail or wire the $1200 they wanted for me to take occupancy. Then I'd drive to the house and discover my keys wouldn't fit the fucking door. Suddenly my emails and calls don't get taken in Polk County, Florida/West Africa/Edinburgh, Scotland. It's essentially the selling the Brooklyn Bridge scam. They stole some photos and address of an actual real estate listing, then tried to pass it off as their own while making up some bullshit story about why no one could physically be there to show me the unit first before sending me the keys.
     So I wrote back to Ms. Rutter's illiterate doppelgänger, after she'd implored me to recite the 71st Psalm with her (Because, as we all know, godly people can't possibly be crooked. Ask Pat Robertson and his completely up front and aboveboard Operation Blessing), and informed her of these things and much more. I'd also contacted the legitimate realtor and left a voice mail asking if she''d ever heard of this "Mrs. Rutter". I'd also texted the number I was given and was given another bullshit reason why she couldn't be there in the flesh to show the house even though she was supposed to be representing herself allllllll the way from the Dark Continent.
     I never got an answer to my email when I openly flouted the idea that perhaps she should really give that 71st Psalm more than an average workout and pray that someone in the Florida AG's office doesn't get a complaint about her.
     So, bottom line, we're on borrowed time and we're back to where we started. So if posting continues to be light, this is the reason why. It seems I'm at war with everyone who's ever laid eyes on me, I'm living on borrowed time and will be evicted when our lease is up, I'm trying to put to bed a book that's already taken up nearly two and a half years of my life and a whole other host of myriad problems.
     In the meantime, if you see any rental units in central MA going for $600-700 a month, please pass it on. I'm checking CL several times a day and I've already alerted my landlord's realtor on the sly that we're ready to bust a move out of here and break our lease. I insist on leaving here on my own terms and am even willing to surrender my $300 security deposit to get that fat, sociopathic freak and his senile mother out of our lives.
     And, to quoth Baretta, that's the name of that tune.

Addendum:  I couldn't resist tweaking this spammer with the answers I should've given to their "rental application." It'll be interesting to see if I still pass with these answers.

1) Your Full Name? Would an alias do? I'm obliged to use several in my line of work.
2) Your Full Address? #10 Downing Street
3) Phone Number? I could give you one but it'll be for a burner. I'm obliged to use a lot of them, too, in my line of work. Think BREAKING BAD.
4) Are you married? For now. I love getting married so much, I'm a widower "seven times before." Just kidding. I've been widowed ten times, all by the same cause of death. Fancy that.
5) Age & Email Address? Age is just a number, wouldn't you say? And my email address is
6) Occupation? Does "aspiring serial killer" count? How about professional crack whore pimp?
7) Picture of the occupant If Available? Check I might or might not still be on their Top Ten list.
8) Do you have a pet? Do other peoples' children count? If not, then no.
9) Do you have a car? Again, I go through a lot of cars in my line of work. You can get a lot of pimped out ones at the police impound yard, btw.
10) When are you ready to Move In? Uh, how do you know I already haven't?
11) How many people will be living in the house? It depends on how many people need a place to, uh, crash until the lights and sirens go away.
12) How long are you willing to stay in the property? Until the house is staked out 24/7 by fake-looking florist and plumbing vans with suspicious antennas.
13) How soon can you make payments? Depends on when my ho's cough up the money they owe me, the bitches.
14) How many months rent can you pay upfront? See above. The bee-otches are holding out on me. This is why they say pimping ain't easy.
15) How soon do you want to receive the keys/documents? Wow, I don't know how to answer this. I can't recall the last time I actually entered a house with keys.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Easter

     This past Easter was especially sweet because I just got my baby back barely in time to celebrate it. The recent unpleasantness in Florida keeps reverberating like a recurring herpes sore but we refused to let that disturb our holiday feast. So we had a baked ham with pineapple slices, Brussels sprouts, corn, mashed potatoes, Charlene's Cheesy potatoes and a good Riesling white wine.
     So how was your Easter?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fox News at its Finest, Part 19

Fox "News" can always be depended upon to give us their funhouse mirror reflection of world and national (non)events. To wit...

Sure, Douchey. If you keep flogging that dead horse, it'll one day get up and win the Triple Crown.
Greatest cover-up in *memory.

*If your memory doesn't reach back beyond January 20, 2009.

Irony, thine initials are BO.

...because rolling them up would make cocaine snorting more of a challenge.

The only mischaracterization of that bill was when the Indiana legislature labeled it "religious freedom and restoration" when it's really about sexual bigotry.

Sure he did, just like the Supreme Court said there was no more racism. Which they actually said.

Without posting a retraction later, Fox realized they'd accidentally printed the abstracts of Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric.

Except for the taking full responsibility part.

Keep in mind the people who call in go to monster truck rallies and think giving loaded guns to kids who then shoot their eye out is a necessary price to pay for freedumb. (Note the Obama picture.)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Just When You Thought it Was Safe to Come Out of the Closet

     The Religious Freedom Restoration Act? Seriously? More like the Sexual Bigotry Free Card Act.
     By fall 2010, only five states had gay marriage. A little over four years later, so many states have it that it's hard to count and the answer depends on whom you ask (I think the latest number I saw was 37). During the Obama administration, DADT had fallen, rights and benefits were given to same sex federal employee couples and there are more gay people in elected office than at any time in US history.
     Anyone of even local notoriety or authority using anti gay slurs are often suspended, fired, pressured to resign or hounded out of office. As Barilla found out last year, any business not friendly to their LGBT customers (who have enormous spending power) or hostile to gay rights can expect to be pilloried and boycotted with the planet's lightning-fast social media. Even small businesses were shunned into oblivion once a refusal of services to gay customers was exposed by that same potent social media.
     The tide had turned, we thought, and it was safer than ever to come out of the closet. You have lots of friends and it really does get better.
    So it's difficult to understand what Indiana Governor and former Congressman Mike "I Haven't Had an Orgasm Since the Clinton Administration" Pence was thinking when he signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or what the Indiana legislature was thinking when they ratified it. To anyone with one eye and a handful of neurons, it's essentially a carte blanche to discriminate against gay people by pulling the religion card. It's a transparently sleazy right wing piece of shit disguised as "preserving" and "restoring" "religious freedom" already granted to all by the First Amendment. It blatantly gives right wing-owned businesses the legal means to refuse service to gay clientele or that perceived to be gay (but not, thankfully, protection against being boycotted and ridiculed all over the planet).
     When interviewed by George Stephanopolopolopolopolos Michael Dukakis, Jr last Sunday about the bill, he was asked point blank six simple yes or no questions as to whether or not the bill would make legal discrimination against LGBT people and he whiffed on every one of them. The very fact that Pence signed that steaming homophobic piece of shit into law behind closed doors speaks volumes. He knew it was either wrong or would be unpopular. And, as palpable as his typical right wing cowardice, his typical right wing dissembling on TV yesterday morning proved that he was trying to present this as a religious freedom bill that was nakedly designed by the Indiana legislature to drive gay people out of the state.
     Also, in typical right wing fashion, he blamed the media for the brouhaha over it, mansplainin' to the rubes that the bill was mistaken and misinterpreted, that the vast left wing conspiracy was making a mountain out of a molehill.
     The next state that might ratify a similar antigay bill is Arkansas and if by some miracle that festering buttocks sore of a state doesn't (which actually looks likely that it won't), 19 others currently have such laws on the books.
     About the closest Pence came to actually recognizing the extreme unpopularity of the new bill (besides signing it behind locked doors) was to pledge to ask the legislature to "clarify" the bill.
     No, that's not necessary. I think it's pretty clear what it means.
     The backlash was immediate and severe. The NCAA openly floated the idea that in the future, the Final Four would be held in a state other than Indiana. Angie's List, also headquartered in Indianapolis, quickly axed plans for an expansion that would have cost nearly $50,000,000. Notorious right winger Charles Barkley even condemned the new law. The NBA, WNBA and NFL have all made discontented grumbles of late. When all is told, Pence and the Republican-run state legislature could cost the state over $100,000,000 in boycotts.
     The law and its avowed intent should infuriate liberal Christians (Yes, there are some) for having their faith used as a straw man to discriminate against a minority. When cornered on the bill, Pence doubled down and said neither he or anyone would change it nor was it on his "agenda" to give "special protections" to the LGBT population of Indiana.
     It reminds me of that cartoon where a bunch of overweight Teabagger/NRA types are nailing Christ to the cross and one obese individual holding the hammer yells at Christ to stop whining because he's oppressing their religious liberty.
     But this craven right wing dissembling and dressing up this discrimination bill is an obvious attempt to throw red meat to the notoriously homophobic evangelical right wing, LBGT people providing the meat. But considering the vast strides taken by that same community on a national level, with intolerance of homophobia having long since reached alltime highs, it's perplexing to me why the Indiana legislature and Pence thought they would be immune to the backlash.
     It's just as perplexing why we're as surprised that homophobia does still exist as we are when faced with evidence of racism or misogyny or Islamophobia.
     As previously stated, other states are seriously considering similar, or worse, legislation (Although Georgia recently postponed its hearings on a similar measure). A gay presidential candidate would have as much chance getting elected as Pence being made a Grand Marshall of Indianapolis's next gay pride parade. Gay men and lesbians are still getting beaten, or worse, in the streets. And the "great" state of Texas has absolutely no laws protecting gays and lesbians from any discrimination at all (no, not even hate crime laws). Despite the impressive strides the Obama administration has taken in gay rights, DOMA, that other execrable evil from the Clinton years, is still more firmly embedded in the law books than fly shit.
     Right wingers pathetically try to turn it around back on my community and claim we're screaming for "special rights" as if we were rich scions suffering from Affluenza or a Wall Street bankster. But what they deliberately ignore is the fact that my peoples' struggle continues and will continue for at least decades to come because, if we're seeking "special protection", it's only because we're singled out for special persecution.

Addendum:If you've surfed in to read this, it's probably because of my good friend and Constant Reader Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors care of Crooks and Liars. In case you haven't already been made aware of it by Tengrain, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, others and myself, we'd just suffered a death in the family. Details can be found here but let's start by saying I've had to make a significant outlay of cash over the final days of March that put us behind the 8 ball. So anything you could do to push the wolves from the door another month would be tremendously appreciated.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Top Ten Pet Peeves About Literary Agents

     Yeah, I know I'm a bad blogger, No Cheetos. Specifically, I'm a bad political blogger and I honestly do feel guilty about disappointing what few faithful readers I have by not providing content on a regular basis that would, however inadequately, justify the donations I've been receiving for the last six years. And I will get to Ted Cruz, Mike Pence and his piece of shit anti-LGBT law and so forth in good time.
     But the annual round of submissions of Tatterdemalion to literary agents, something I hadn't done in a year, has built up a lot of resentment in me. This has been steadily building since I'd made the rounds of literally hundreds of agency websites since late last month when I'd begun the querying process. And these pet peeves of mine aren't just mine and inspired merely by frustration. Others have said the same things I have, including this guy who'd passed on a story about another writer who'd punked 100 literary agents with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr's work and got rejected by all 100 of them.
     So these are my top ten pet peeves regarding literary agents, accumulated both over the last 19 years and the last month.

  • 1) Discover Norton

  •      One of the most immediately apparent differences between British literary agents and their US counterparts, aside from openly soliciting the first 30-50 pages of your manuscript, is their willingness to accept email attachments. Email clients such as Yahoo, which had really taken a nose dive in quality and dependability over the last year and a half, often truncate emails. This can be especially galling and embarrassing when US agents insist on your pasting everything in the body of the email and it gets cut off in mid sentence or right after the salutation.
         Antivirus software exists. Use it, make friends with it and stop acting as if every author in the English-speaking world is out to give your precious laptop a virus. Automatically deleting unread legitimate submissions based on a paranoia bespeaks of a mindset I wouldn't want in someone working for me.

  • 2) And yes, you would work for me if I choose to hire you.

  •      In the generation since publishers made literary agents a necessary evil and primary gatekeepers, they've gotten so arch and bloated with arrogance it's a miracle these people, for want of a better word, can still find people to have sex with them. Among the manifestations of this hubris and arrogance is the more than suggested perception that they run the show. You do not.
         Because in the real world, the person who makes no more than penultimate decisions and makes 15% of the money that's earned is the hired help. The employee. Stop assuming we're naifs who don't know anything about the business. Until you were shoehorned into the publishing process 30 or so years ago, authors like me approached publishers directly, negotiated their contracts and managed their own careers. Our intelligence and pragmatism hasn't atrophied just because you were artificially glued onto what used to be a streamlined process. Again, for clarity's sake, You are the employee, the hired help. You work for us, not vice versa. Know your role and act accordingly.

  • 3) Your website sucks.

  •      In virtually 100% of the literary agency websites I've been to, I have had to lean forward and strain my eyes to read pale grey font against a white background. I've even seen yellow font against white. For people who are obsessed with legibility and proper formatting in snailmail submissions, you sure care little over whether or not people can read your ghost fonts. Do all you agents farm out website design to the same sadistic prick?
         Also, minimalism make work effectively in Japanese art but not in modern day website design. You want submission guidelines obeyed? Tell us what the fuck they are. Give us something to go on other than your street address and a phone number you forbid us from calling. To give you guys an idea of what I'm talking about, go to former Simon & Schuster senior editor-turned literary agent Bob Mecoy's website to see what I mean (Oh, that Bic pen pointed directly at my left eye doesn't look menacing at all, Bobbo). Or this monolithic, virtually noninteractive piece of shit by William Morris Endeavor that just screams, "Fuck off and (sniff) die."

  • 4) Here, let me get some KY so you can jerk yourself off better.

  •      For people who say over and over again that they want just a brief covering letter consisting of no more than 300 words (and reasonably expecting us to make them fall impetuously and madly in love with our book during this absurd literary speed dating), you assholes sure love to talk about yourselves on your bios. More than once, I've seen agent bios that went far, far beyond the 300 or so words they allot us in droning on about where they were from ("It all started in a little log cabin in the woods of the Pacific Northwest..."), where they went to school, where they worked, what properties they sold, their marital status, their hobbies, how many kids they have, their cockapoodle's name, etc. I am not kidding about this. They actually think we give a fuck about this shit.
         We don't. We're looking for business partners and so are you. So act like it. I personally don't give a fuck who's on your client list, what properties you've sold, blah blah because it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my particular property. So please stop making your literary agency's website look like a cheap dating site for avaricious sociopaths.

  • 5) Yes, we can and will turn away business so fuck off and die.

  •      However evil and collusive the deal made behind the backs of authors between you and publishers, the one decent provision was that it was supposed to continue giving authors a primary outlet for their work. The thought of sending something to a group of people so stupid as to universally reject a classic by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr is scary enough but it was what it was. Now, more and more literary agencies, starting with the bloated William Morris Endeavor Agency in Hollywood, are slamming the gates in our faces while telling us they cannot possibly take on new clients, read work that hasn't been invited or referred by another client or read submissions by unpublished writers.
         Inserting you as the primary gatekeeper blocking the path to publication was bad enough but now you've gotten so arrogant and bloated with hubris you're acting just like the publishers a generation ago and look your nose down on people who've been kept from being published largely because of you and your ignorant ilk. Do your fucking job because it's not as if the current crop of bestselling authors will live forever. Your short-sighted strategy just produces an Old Boy network where only cool or connected kids get entry into the tree house. Oh, and if you're not taking on new clients or reading submissions, kindly say so before you waste anybody else's time.

  • 6) "Make Me Fall in Love With You. You Have 30 Seconds."

  •      As previously stated, one of the most obvious immediate differences between UK and US agents is the former's willingness to actually read some of the work being "plumped." Almost all Brits not only insist on email attachments guaranteeing viability and completedness of sample material but also actually insist on reading the material and making an informed decision. But more and more US agents choose to cut corners either out of sheer laziness or whining about their workload. These same assholes who feel the need to write their autobiographies on a business website insist we cannot cut corners, obey their every idiosyncratic edict, synopsize our work, give them a CV, our credentials and qualifications for writing the book, our marketing platform, since it's fallacious to assume massive publishing houses with publicity professionals to actually, you know, publicize their products, tell them what books similar to ours have been successfully been published in the past, why we want them to be our agent and... Oh yeah, do it in ten words or less.
         This is why I call this absurdity and crime against literacy "literary speed dating."
         And please stop telling us you have to be wildly, madly, impetuously, helplessly, hopelessly, heads over heels in puppy love before you can sell my book. You don't sell books for the "love of the game" or some such romantic, high-minded bullshit. As you and publishers keep telling us, publishing's a business, period. Please stop trying to make it sound like a process out of the Harlequin crap you help trowel out every month.

  • 7) "Oh, you have a pet peeve list, too?"
  •      Oh, yes. PLEASE do tell me how much you hate us and your job.
         One of the things that gets my blood boiling at 1300 degrees Fahrenheit is when arch, arrogant douchebags waste time telling us what they hate seeing from the less conscientious of us when they should be reading sample material or selling properties. When I read pet peeve lists such as this, I get two takeaways: They hate writers and look upon us as cumbersome little door knockers with whom they'd rather not deal and they're infallible.
         If you were so damned infallible, then please tell me why 90-95% of the adult fiction you rep never finds a home (a fact admitted on at least one agency website) and why am I writing my own pet peeve list? When I go to a fast food place or a gas station, I wouldn't want to hear constant pissing and moaning from the cashier about why they hate their job and their pet peeves regarding customers. Why should you be given that same latitude? Sure, you have legit gripes. I'm not saying you don't. But I don't care to hear them. And none of them apply to me or other conscientious, talented authors like me. You don't like your job? Wait tables or pump gas. Go the way of Harriet Wasserman, please.

  • 8) "I Have the Right to Remain Silent."

  •      No, you don't.
         On virtually 100% of the agency websites I've had to endure these past few months, there's inevitably a little codecil that essentially says, "If you haven't heard from us after X weeks, please accept that as proof we wish you'll fuck off and die", or words to that effect. Citing, again, 300+ submissions a week and limited time, literary agencies are cutting more and more corners while not allowing us to do the same. Some of them even go with an email form, which just invites spam filters, because they're too lazy to read emails from people they've already decided cannot put cha-ching in their pockets.
         I've already gone into some of the ways that literary agencies cheat and cut corners while expecting everyone in the business to be hunky dorey about it. But here's a list of how they do this: They want only queries first, not even a synopsis, and had better be more concise than their masturbatory ego trips. Some, hilariously, even ask for just the first page of your novel, reasonably expecting it'll hook them enough to want to lunge at the phone and call you before some other agent does. They have flunkies send off the form rejections because they can't spend the five seconds it would take to disrespect your personalized letter. You don't like "Dear Agent" letters? Well, we don't appreciate "Dear Author" letters or those without any salutation. Show some fucking professionalism, reciprocation and common courtesy. As with you, guys like me who routinely send off 200-300 proposals also work with large numbers. Only I do this in my spare time. You do this for a living. Again, do your fucking job and fuck your bullshit, one-sided self-dealt rules. Hire more agents. Hire more interns. Do what you have to do but ignoring conscientious authors is a big No no and makes authors not want to submit to you again.

  • 9) "I'm a Mommy First and an Agent Second."

  •      Stop saying on your websites you don't read much less rep books about children in danger or about serial killers. That's half of everything Stephen King and John Grisham ever wrote and virtually everything written by Jonathan Kellerman and Andrew Vachss. Are you telling me you'd turn them down on the incredible chance they'd actually knock on your door looking for representation?
         I'm not looking for a mommy or someone who winces over harmless written words. For better or worse, I'm looking for a literary agent to sell my book to the highest and best bidder. Again, be a fucking professional and act like it. Oh, and since you keep telling me this business is so subjective, I refer you again to the 90-95% failure rate on your part. Considering how often you fail, which wouldn't fly for a second in the real world, perhaps what's called for is some objectivity. Stop pretending as if your reading tastes reflect, or are reflected by, the reading tastes of an entire nation. Readers let their acumen guide their choices. Yours are run by monetary motives and you're still wrong almost 100% of the time.

  • 10) To Quoth the Writer, Get the Fuck Over Yourself.

  •     Not a single literary classic in planetary history was ever sold by a literary agent. Virtually 100% of the turkeys sold to and published by legacy publishers were. Just because you were handed a protection racket by lazy, scumbag publishing executives 30 years ago doesn't make you all that. We are the people who write the books off of which you and your bedfellows in the Big Five publishing houses profit handsomely while paying us dog shit. Not one person ever bought a fucking book at a Barnes & Noble or anywhere else because of who the publisher or the literary agent who sold it was.
         It's arrogant scumbags like you that are the primary reason for self-publishing's explosion over the last 7-8 years. Self-publishing's more than a pragmatic decision for those of us going that route. It's also a necessary and inevitable reaction to being treated like dog shit under your heels because in your ignorant, lazy snap decisions you don't think we can put jingle in your silk trousers or further your career ambitions.
         And don't even get me started on Argo Navis...

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  • Top 10 Herman Cain Pickup Lines.
  • Top 10 Changes Since Anthony Weiner Decided to Resign.
  • Top 10 Inaccuracies re bin Laden's Death.
  • Top 10 Ways to Prevent a TSA Patdown.
  • Top Ten Things Not to Say When You're Pulled Over.
  • Top 10 Reasons Why Donald Trump Bowed Out of the Presidential Race.
  • Top 10 Ways Evangelicals Will Prepare for the Rapture II.
  • Top 10 Revelations in Today's Parliament Inquiry into News Corp.
  • Top 10 Reasons Why There Was No Vote on the Debt Ceiling Last Night.
  • Top 10 Revelations in Dick Cheney's Upcoming Memoir.
  • Top Ten Ways Americans Will Observe the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
  • Top Ten Advances in Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia.
  • Top Ten Inaccuracies in Bill O'Reilly's Book About Lincoln.
  • Top Ten Suggestions From the Cat Food Commission.
  • Top Ten Worst Moments in George W. Bush's Presidency.
  • Top Ten Facts in George W. Bush's Memoir.
  • Top Ten Reasons Terry Jones Postponed His Koran Burning
  • Top 10 Causes for Dick Cheney's Congestive Heart Failure
  • Top Ten Ways That Jan Brewer Will Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
  • Top Ten Demands in Sarah Palin's Contract
  • Top Ten Whoppers in Karl Rove's New Book
  • Top 10 Items Left Behind in Rush Limbaugh's Apartment
  • Top Ten Things Barack Obama said to Rush Limbaugh in the Hospital
  • Top Ten Bizarre Promos Offered by the New Jersey Nets
  • Top 10 Bush Executive Orders Labor Wants President Obama to Repeal
  • George W. Bush's Top Ten Lesser Achievements
  • Boolean Bozoism

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  • Empire Of The Senseless.
  • Conservative Values for an Unsaved World.
  • Esquire's Charles Pierce.
  • Brilliant @ Breakfast.
  • The Burning Platform.
  • The Rant.
  • Mock, Paper, Scissors.
  • James Petras.
  • Towle Road.
  • Avedon's Sideshow (the new site).
  • At Largely, Larisa Alexandrovna's place.
  • The Daily Howler.
  • The DCist.
  • Greg Palast.
  • Jon Swift. RIP, Al.
  • God is For Suckers.
  • Hullabaloo, Digby's place.
  • The Rude Pundit.
  • Driftglass.
  • Newshounds.
  • William Grigg, a great find.
  • Brad Blog.
  • Down With Tyranny!, Howie Klein's blog.
  • Wayne's World. Party time! Excellent!
  • Busted Knuckles, aka Ornery Bastard.
  • Mills River Progressive.
  • Right Wing Watch.
  • Earthbond Misfit.
  • Anosognosia.
  • Echidne of the Snakes.
  • They Gave Us a Republic.
  • The Gawker.
  • Outtake Online, Emmy-winner Charlotte Robinson's site.
  • The artist formerly known as Politits. The politics are still liberal.
  • Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
  • No More Mr. Nice Blog.
  • Head On Radio Network, Bob Kincaid.
  • Spocko's Brain.
  • Pandagon.
  • Slackivist.
  • WTF Is It Now?
  • No Blood For Hubris.
  • Lydia Cornell, a very smart and accomplished lady.
  • Roger Ailes (the good one.)
  • BlondeSense.
  • The Smirking Chimp.
  • Hammer of the Blogs.
  • Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
  • Argville.
  • Existentialist Cowboy.
  • The Progressive.
  • The Nation.
  • Mother Jones.
  • Vanity Fair.
  • Raw Story.
  • Citizens For Legitimate Government.
  • News Finder.
  • Indy Media Center.
  • Lexis News.
  • Military Religious Freedom.
  • McClatchy Newspapers.
  • The New Yorker.
  • Bloggingheads TV, political vlogging.
  • Find, the next-best thing to Nexis.
  • Altweeklies, for the news you won't get just anywhere.
  • The Smirking Chimp
  • Don Emmerich's Peace Blog
  • Wikileaks.
  • The Peoples' Voice.
  • CIA World Fact Book.
  • IP address locator.
  • Tom Tomorrow's hilarious strip.
  • Babelfish, an instant, online translator. I love to translate Ann Coulter's site into German.
  • Newsmeat: Find out who's donating to whom.
  • Wikipedia.
  • Uncyclopedia.
  • Icasualties
  • Free Press
  • YouTube
  • The Bone Bridge.
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