Fake Headlines

I will explain what happened last night, then I will tell you what has been going on with me.

Arkansas is in the midst of attempting what I call “mass executions” before their drugs expire this month. That means eight guys gotta go, and they’ve already done three in the past few days.

Last night I was sent this screenshot, which appears to be an animated live update of someone being executed. I was already emotional about this situation, from being inundated with hate all week on all the local news pages where the good Christian citizens of Arkansas were calling for blood, and I assumed they had found their Nightcrawler angle on this entire mess. I had that detail wrong, and I guess I’ve joined the ranks of Fake News after sharing it and tweeting it repeatedly.

Thing is, they were live broadcasting outside the prison. They DID seek to profit from this tragedy, and while the tasteless image was used to describe the execution process, it was not a progress bar. Because I flew off the handle and assumed one thing, I’m the garbage guy, which is fine, because that’s how I feel all the time anyway.

Furthermore, it really doesn’t matter because it would have stopped nothing. These guys are dead or are going to die, and who really cares about a bunch of murdering rapists? I think anyone who would read this understands that we have a justice system for a reason and why lynch mobs are dangerous. I think you probably have also heard about the West Memphis Three trial that took place here in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and understand why some of us around here might have questions about our justice system. If you aren’t familiar, please read up on it. I cannot summarize it here properly, but believe me when I say a bunch of superstition about the occult led the West Memphis police to frame some juvenile delinquents and drag them to Jonesboro where local business leaders and attorneys colluded to form a kangaroo court and put them on death row as an example to everyone watching. The three were eventually freed after twenty years, and Damien Echols came back to Little Rock for a day last week to protest these executions, his very point being that THIS STATE has NO BUSINESS executing ANYONE.

That said, I was wrong and sloppy in my approach, and something that momentarily got some attention ended up getting deflated. I’m not a news organization, so I can’t post a retraction and soldier on, sally forth, chin up, whatever. I’m not a leader who gets to lie about every mistake and keep on truckin’. That’s what your politicians do. I’m wrong constantly. I’m almost never right, I feel, and it’s no surprise that I’ve been increasingly ignored, unfollowed, and unfriended the shittier my opinions get. I am so politically removed from most of you, Democrat and Republican and Other, that I’m viewed as the local nutbar, and that’s fine. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it is lonely as fuck.

I have been flailing for the last fortnight trying to figure out what my way forward is online at this point. I have deleted and reinstalled the Facebook app daily. I have quit and unquit within the span of fifteen minutes. I don’t want to offend those of you who have had chemical dependencies but I am addicted. I need the thrill of being online and the dopamine hits and I’m not getting them. My brain is panicking and doesn’t know what to do. It is devastating to write 2000 word essays about my kids every day, some of which I think are my best work, and have 20 people read it if I am lucky. I could make YouTube videos where I throw them across the room and be famous, but I am not that cruel. The point is that society would eat that shit up, but they’re not getting hardons for the mundane right now. Maybe my heartwarming family stories full of angst and at least two mentions of death are too boring these days.

So I’ve been cruel online lately. I’ve punched down. Stomped down. I find myself agreeing with bigots and fascists because they point out what’s wrong with the reasoning of “libtards” and I take a moment and wonder if I could make it in their world. I couldn’t, but I have to say it’s tempting. If I thought someone would embrace me with open arms I could be Alex Jones, or Anne Coulter. I want to be loved by someone and it’s always gnawing at me, in the back of my mind. I could L. Ron Hubbard this shit and start a religion. That’s what I want. It’s what I need. Then, I think is this temptation? Is this the secular devil? This is what you guys mean when you talk about that, while you thump on your bible, and it’s a human thing you’re describing. “Get thee behind me, Satan.”

This used to be the type of thing I’d post on MY BLOG, which no one reads, and I’ll probably copy/paste it for posterity’s sake (this was originally posted on Facebook, which I cannot escape), but I’m tired of writing and proofreading for hours for nothing. I’ve made this pledge privately and I’ll do so publicly now: I am going to keep writing, about my life, my kids, and things I love, like science fiction, but I am quitting politics. I think the world will get along fine with my $35 check to the ACLU and me living and just being a person. I am too wild to feed into the narcissism of all that shit. It makes me Jekyll and Hyde, or more ironically the Wolfman (Talbot). I wake up with the figurative blood on my hands and vaguely remember what I’ve done. I’m constantly filled with remorse. I can’t do it.

And some of you might point this out as my privilege, that I can be nihilistic and self-centered and stop speaking out about things. You’re correct. Thing is, I cannot handle it. It is affecting my mental and physical health. I need a pass for this. If you want to call me a sick boy, the dude who couldn’t hack it in the world, that is fine. I would rather live and be happy with my kids in this hellscape than fight and fight and make myself ill for nothing. Still a trashbarge of doom. I could have carved out an existence on this punishment sphere, and I’ll look back and realize that I had things to love all along but I spent too much time hating the world to realize it.

I love my wife and kids. Gina, Wiggles, and the girls are the best thing that ever happened to me. I owe it to them to stop staring at my phone. I owe it to them to stop hating everything so much it kills me.

I’ll always be around, until I’m not, but I have to change if I’m going to survive. If that means I turn a blind eye sometimes, so be it. I can’t wreck my own castle and expect to go out and conquer territory. I am the worst revolutionary. The one everyone ignores. Well, I’m stepping off this streetcorner. I’m putting down the bullhorn. I’m going to enjoy being a father.

The world never needed a Talbot politician.

On Not Writing

It is at times like this when I’m not writing or even writing about writing but writing about not writing that I can only comfort myself with examples of Kafka or Fitzgerald wailing and gnashing their teeth over the thing that would not make itself available. Worse yet, though, is the realization that while I’ve definitely hit a few homers, mine were knocked out of the park at practice rounds in ball fields no one will ever see, which amounts to masturbation. No quantity of nuts blown into the toilet or your favorite sock will produce an heir no matter how much flourish and gusto you coaxed them out with.

There have been times I looked online for inspiration, but either the Almighty Algorithm or the dystopian present’s mundanity or both have taken hold and all I see now are hundreds of posts about an airline. I’ll blame you whenever I can, and today has been a wonderful opportunity in that regard.

That said, I’ve resigned myself to guerrilla warfare when it comes to creative acts. Every time I sit down to produce one large work, I’m smothered by wrongness. I’ve been in enough relationships that were panic-inducing from the get go. Every book I start feels like the wrong partner, but maybe I just fear commitment.

Perhaps I’m afraid of going dark for months only to emerge with another hunk of garbage. Possibly, I’m afraid I’ll never love it, and I might be even more terrified it would develop some kind of following, which I’d be forced to defend. Is it possible to carry to term something so hated and have it flourish? Do the scriveners of cliterature adore their own fantasies or are they more fond of the paycheck that follows? Did they dream of Hemingway’s Spain while they hashed out this month’s titillating tale, available now on Kindle for $2.99? Did they clutch their dogeared Bukowski through college and emerge with the next hot cautionary teen free-verse hit, and another, and another?

Did they squeeze that turnip from their office or did they stand in a restroom stall to proofread while they huffed piss? Excuses are excuses, but I’m actively selling my belongings because I’m failing to make it on the income from a full time job and an inherited farm. If the Great American Novel is something I can find, I’ll have to steal it piece by piece. It’s too cumbersome, too great a thing to haul off during lunch breaks and precious time away from my growing offspring.

It is not lost on me here, the hypocrisy of searching for success when I rail against the very system that refuses to accept me. I’m the unyielding problem child who begs for unconditional love between tantrums. I’m Cool Hand Luke digging his hole while society says, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

Once, I read a union-busting pamphlet that described socialists as losers, whiners, lazy, and chronically depressed. I can’t take exception to that anymore, but I still ask, “Why should I love a world that goes against every fiber of my being?” I must own the stereotype, though, in order to move forward. Revolutions are not led by #winners. I am the shit guy. I’m the one who can’t hack it here. I’m the one who cannot be pleased, so I yearn for an order and a method different than this one.

Funnier, still, is that I have all the equipment to win but in precisely the ways I don’t want to. I have the land, the face, and the race, and the religion is there for me if I choose to accept it. I’ve been so gripped by layers of self-loathing that I’ve denied what I arguably am in favor of some other thing, which is a fairy tale. Still, I’d die a dreaming pauper before I sold my small remaining excuse for dignity out for a few pats on the back from gold-adorned soft white hands.

So many people claim to want change, but it is usually in the order of things, not the method. Whatever label they slap on it in the western world, it usually boils down to replacing capitalism with intersectional capitalism, as if that could be a thing on a grand scale, but capitalists will package it thus and sell it to you as a first step toward democratic socialism if it gets your buy in, though they obviously have no intention of taking you there.

The burning hatred I hold toward a system I both cannot change and, as I hurtle toward forty years of age, have not succeeded in, consumes me as well. I’ve taken the old adage about rage being like drinking poison as a challenge. If I drink enough, perhaps I’ll become a choking, flammable cloud. This spiritual self-immolation is destroying me, but when the spark arrives, won’t there be change?

I am the worst combination of things: A spoiled American, a guilty middle-class white man, a pessimist, and a dreamer. I am vain, narcissistic, and in control of very little except, sometimes, where I take a shit. I am the migraine, grinding away in the dark. I am broken-tooth insomnia.

This isn’t leaderspeak, but I am not that. It’s best I embrace who I am and what I’ve always been, which is the guy who wasn’t very good at things even though someone thought he was supposed to be. For all my bluster about being Bolshevik Batman, I’m more like the copycats Batman beats up before he tells them to go home and leave it to the experts. I should mention that Bruce Wayne is Ayn Rand’s wet dream, but it still follows. I’m a basket of contradictions that barely tolerate existing in the same container, and so are my metaphors.

I will write of angst if that’s all there is. I’ll fill volumes with tension headaches and neck spasms. In time, I’ll have enough essays on pessimism and the futility of struggle to publish “Fuck It: Why I Can’t Say Fuck It and Stop Fucking It,” which will sell for only $2.99 on Kindle.

It’s no Chuck Tingle, but it’s all I’ve got.

Slacktivism on the Edge

Today I had the pleasure of asking someone who works on Capitol Hill (I won’t drag him into this by namedropping him) why he doesn’t reach over and punch Paul Ryan in the balls.

No comment.

I also asked if he ever went back to his office and said, “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?”

No comment.

That’s the most exciting thing that’s happened since yesterday, when I got asked to move my IWW pin three inches from my lanyard to my shirt. I’m pretty sure even asking me to do that is technically illegal, but all sorts of things are technically illegal, like scheduling people for breaks they often do not get or setting up situations where they’re forced to work off the clock. You know. Things like that.

Minimum Safe Distance

At the risk of seeming like some easy-to-pick-off lone wolf, the entire situation is made even more ridiculous by the circumstances. I’ve worn this thing for five years and they claim they didn’t notice. If they hadn’t had us remove all our “bling” (it’s fucking “flair,” Jesus – get it straight), no one would have been the wiser and I could have gone on being a slacktivist who wishes he didn’t live in a right-to-work state.

I’ve kept it on symbolically, as a token of the beliefs I hold, the organization I’ll never have, and what I passionately feel is humanity’s only way forward. It just happens to be barely protected speech (and sometimes it isn’t) so I have that going for me, which is nice.

I don’t have to point out what a sad, harmless, pitiful man I am. I toss my screeds to the wind and I don’t even know most of the twelve people who read them. I wish you spoke to me more. If you’re afraid of doing so publicly, do it privately. I need to know I’m not doing absolutely nothing, which is what I fear most.

This isn’t funny or entertaining, and I thank you for tolerating it today, if you are even that generous. I’m tired and I have nothing to show for it. I love my wife and my family, but as far as achievements go with regard to writing or activism, I have strained myself to the max for no gain. For loss. It’s devastating.

I almost threw that dumb fucking pin in the trash, but then what would I be? If I can’t even cling to my ridiculous ideals, I’m nothing. Why am I even here?

Have a great Saturday, if you can. I’ll be at work until five, then I’ll go home and try not to be such a downer. It’s a challenge I’ve failed lately.

PS – It’s hard to write on your lunch break with your boss hovering over your neck, but I’m the gonzo retail journalist, right? This is my domain, between danger and despair.

To be continued… 

Revolutionary Brocialism 2: Electric Boogaloo

I was going to write something today but I was too busy YELLING ON FACEBOOK.

I’m not kidding about Revolutionary Brocialism, guys (click the link then click all those links, and two hours later you will be indoctrinated). I didn’t turn off my brain during the election season (FULL COMMUNISM, BABY) and I’m not going to now. I hate to say I told you so, but oh wait I don’t hate it. I love it. I fucking revel in it. Here is my victory dance and our reward is living in the dystopian present.

If your activism takes place under a capitalist framework, the end result is your support of the existing capitalist system, period. I will discuss topics like identity politics with left-thinkers. Call it socialist, communist, or whatever rad label you want to stick on it. It’s fine as long as you consider yourself left of whatever this milquetoast right-wing oligarchy calls itself today (Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Shailene Woodley).

If you want to discuss activism under a Left worldview we can talk all day. You can tell me how wrong I am and I will concede, yes, I am often a jackass. I’m not some fucking Tankie who thinks Stalin had a lot of great ideas. At the end of the day, I am a reasonable guy who wants workers to have control of their destiny, and we’re so many light years away from that concept in America I might as well be talking about Eric Roberts’s chances at finally bagging that Academy Award he missed out on thirty years ago.

If, however, IF you want to come at me with some Lean In Pepsi commercial shit I will burn hot with the colliding rage of a million star systems then I will post a missive about as threatening and hilarious as a kitten batting at a moth, because we all know I am that guy. I will probably quit Facebook for an increasingly diminishing amount of time (it pretty much halves every time, historically – three months, six weeks, three weeks, ten days, four days, two days, a day, twelve hours, six hours, three hours, you can do the math here but I want you to know this has actually happened I am not kidding) then come back all apologetic until I do it again in three months.

When Glorious Leader was elected, I vowed to use my talents to fight the good fight, and the only void-given talent I have is being the biggest fucking dickhead on this side of the Internets. It would be a crime to deny the world my perspective, and I think history will look favorably on me.

That said, I apologize in advance for what will inevitably result in my alienation from almost everyone who gazes upon my screeds. My old friend and spiritual adviser, Scott, once told me 90% of the population would never get me, but I have my 10% solidly pegged down. I’m fine with those stats. If you find yourself in the tenth, I love you. Everyone else can go get fucked. This is the Talbot Way. There’s almost eight billion people on the planet. I have an audience somewhere.

Here’s a photo because photos increase traffic up to 300%.

My personality represented by an amalgamation of pop culture references.

Once again, I get nothing from this site but a little more in debt and paid in the brain (which really doesn’t happen much anymore). I taste dirt and if you want to see my actual work that wasn’t hacked out under the duress of general life terrors maybe click on this story about a trip with my kids.

It’s not fair for me to call your beliefs garbage then ask you to view mine with a kind heart, but that’s also the Talbot Way. I can dish it out, but I can’t take it. Maybe I just need the love only Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism can offer, but we have to get there first, and step one is probably starting organizations and learning how to use a firearm, lefties.

For what it’s worth, I drink Pepsi all the time. I think we could have socialist Pepsi. Socialist Shailene Woodley. Socialist Avengers films. Socialist Mumford & Sons. Whatever pleases you will be in the holodeck, and it doesn’t have to make someone a buck.

It’s ironic to use the word sell when I’m trying to sell you Star Trek in the name of Space Communism. Everything’s a transaction, really. We aren’t that far removed from our ancestors in the tide pools. We could be a better thing, though. Maybe I’m the actual idealist, the angriest dreamer. Maybe all I know is, “I’m an asshole because I love you, world.”

I see what we could be, and I will never stop screaming about it until next time I quit the Internet for ninety minutes.

I’ll be back.

Dallas Syndrome

It’s my first day back at work, and shit’s weird, yo.

First, I forgot my keyboard at home, so I’m SwiftKeying my hiney off. That’s shop talk, though, and most people don’t want to see the kitchen. They just want their dinner.

Supposedly because of the new customer shops (it’s a secret shopper, y’all, sorry about the corporate lingo), which begin this Friday, we have to have “clean” nametags and lanyards. After eleven years of bling, I’m going blingless. I’m not sure how a few less pins will save the company, which is in rough shape according to the founder and acting CEO (I’m paraphrasing, but you tell me what “We need to find a magic bullet… we can cut costs but we only can only sustain this for two years,” means), but I’m willing to do whatever it takes short of removing my Industrial Workers of the World pin. It’s still on there and no one has said anything, yet.

Flair: 2006 – 2017, never forget

That said, I’m not about to declare war on this dying beast. I’ve set my sights a little higher. Socialist Gun Club has a ring to it, and this town needs an IWW chapter. Maybe we can combine efforts. Do the Wobblies have a militant wing?

On a personal note, I’ve been in the dumps for the past few days. I caught a terrible case of con blues before the con had even ended because the good times came at such an emotional cost. There’s a thing the people of Japan call “Paris Syndrome,” where they finally visit France and find out it’s not a weird quirky romantic wine-and-cheese noir-film heaven like they thought it would be. The first time they step in dog shit and get cursed by a French chainsmoker they have a breakdown and have to be rushed to the hospital. Substitute the Dallas FanExpo in there and you’ve got my general malaise pinned down.

If I can just make it through today without having a stroke (I have a raging headache, something that hasn’t happened since I’ve been off work, so I sense a correlation) or getting my ass chewed out by the boss, I’ll be back on my way to smooth sailing on Lake Lackadaisical.

Just keep swimming.

Gina and I hung our convention photos in our living room and hall yesterday. After two years of travel, the walls are getting full. I have my family, my memories, my trusty sidearm, and a hard-on for Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism. Who could ask for anything more?

Under Construction

I’m working on something. Until then, I don’t want the last thing you see to be my shitty political opinions, so here you go. A placeholder until I’m through or I give up in a fit of self loathing. I hate even talking about it because it always jinxes me.

In any case, I won’t be announcing this because that also fucks me up. I’ll just leave this here. Maybe read some of my old stuff you never read. Give me a yell if you miss me. I hope you do. That’s kinda why I do this in the first place.

Everyone who ever created something did it to get out of Hell.

I’ll see you on the flip side, hopefully.

Attack of the Analogies

It was hard not to nanny nanny boo boo the Republican failure deliver the coup de grace to Obamacare yesterday. I had fun for a bit, but it’s time to get back to work lest we let frowny Paul Ryan become the new six months of punched Richard Spencer.

Before I’m labeled a buzzkill, have your high. Drink in the delicious failure. Savor it for a moment but not too long.

Now that the Ewok celebration has ended, the remnants of the Death Star will plummet into the atmosphere and lay waste to the forest moon, but wait! That doesn’t work at all. Vader is alive and golfing, and they’re still going to build that Star. If we’re talking Star Wars analogies, I’d put us in Empire, on Bespin.

The situation isn’t even that optimistic, though. It’s more like you’re in a pit in Buffalo Bill’s basement and he’s yelling, “It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again!” You haven’t even grabbed his dog yet, but even this analogy is flawed. We all know Agent Starling will show up and save the day (even though she hooks up with Lecter and attends a brain-chow dinner two films later, which is pretty apt if she’s the Democrat), and we don’t have that luxury.

It’s more like this: You’re on death row, and it’s time to walk the green mile. There’s no stay of execution, no reprieve, and you’re strapped to the chair. It’s time to light up ‘ol sparky, but something happens. The folks in charge can’t decide on whether they should give you enough juice to just kill you or pump so much current across your sautéed skull that your grey matter cooks out your eyesockets, so they decide to take five and figure it out. You’ll still ride the lightning after they burn through a few Parliaments (nine out of ten machine gunners agree, Tobacco tastes best when the filter’s recessed).

So, yes, while avoiding the certainty of now, like the next-to-last surface suck of a drowning swimmer, may seem like a thing to fist pump over, remember everyone loses the race to the bottom of expectations. This is the land of “Dubya was great, Mitt would have been fine, we’d take two more terms of Obama having civilians murdered and destabilizing nations,” you know, those sorts of things.

Today I witnessed a miracle. I do not throw this word around lightly, and I’m not referring to the right’s gun-to-your-temple misfiring yesterday. Two long time conservative acquaintances of mine wondered out loud, “Why can’t we just have free health care?” Why, indeed.

Don’t vote for politicians who tell you single payer will never happen (not with that attitude). Don’t believe corrupt leaders who say the people can’t be reached. Something stinks, and even the dookie connoisseurs are beginning to smell it.

Don’t give up on what you know is right just because it seems a million miles away (or even 238,900). If you’d expected to be on the moon by now but you’re face down in the mud, it’s not time to suck in and embrace life as a salamander.

Stand the fuck up and keep rolling, rocketeers.

List O’ Films

Everybody’s doing that thing where they post a list of things no one reads, which only serves to spark more viral list-writing. I always get in on the tail end of these so allow me to jump on this lifeboat before our sinking culture plummets into the briny deep. I’d hate to be the guy who hits the propeller.

Films from years in which I was alive on Earth (this time, anyway, no reincarnations):

1978 – Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
1979 – Kramer vs Kramer
1980 – Приключения Электроника
1981 – Через тернии к звёздам
1982 – E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
1983 – Падал прошлогодний снег
1984 – The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension
1985 – National Lampoon’s European Vacation
1986 – Peggy Sue Got Married
1987 – Cherry 2000
1988 – Killer Klowns from Outer Space
1989 – Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
1993 – Remains of the Day
1994 – Little Women
1995 – Sense and Sensibility
1996 – Emma
1997 – Home Alone 3
1998 – The Parent Trap
1999 – Inspector Gadget
2000 – Hollow Man
2001 – Pearl Harbor
2002 – Reign of Fire
2003 – Freaky Friday
2004 – Mean Girls
2005 – Herbie: Fully Loaded
2006 – Just My Luck
2007 – I Know Who Killed Me
2008 – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the I can’t do this why god
2009 – Labor Pains
2010 – The Social Network
2011 – In Time
2012 – John Carter of Mars
2013 – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
2014 – American Sniper
2015 – Trumbo
2016 – Sausage Party
2017 – The Dark Tower
2018 – S.C.O.O.B.
2019 – Why We Fight
2020 – 放下你的武器
2021 – 美国狗
2022 – 节俭的生活


Opinions, Man

“Call of Cthulhu,” the man said.

“I don’t want that,” said the boy.

“I bet there are some funny descriptions in there.”

“The kids at school won’t even know what it is.”

“They’d probably identify it as a Metallica song more than anything else.”

“It’s like a squid or an octopus, right?”

“Well, son, it could be described as a lot of things. A squid. An octopus. Michelle Obama,” the man said. He chuckled.

My back was to them. I froze.

“Terrifying things like that. Pretty scary stuff,” the man said. He spoke for my benefit now. I couldn’t see him, but I could feel him talk to the back of my head.

I continued scanning.

After a few minutes, they’d wandered off. In the meantime I’d identified a couple of clearance books about succeeding at comedy. I’d ordered them years ago for a dude who seemed like a bit of a douche. At the time, I wanted to tell him you couldn’t learn that stuff from a book, but what the fuck do I know? I get paid to grit my teeth and listen to people say idiotic shit.

(Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have much love left for the Obamas, but I know why the man said what he said. It’s the principle of the thing.)

I flipped open a book about acting. Jack Nicholson had written the introduction, and he sounded fucking crazy. I skipped forward. There was an interesting passage about some popular actress, who they only referred to as “E.J,” getting yelled at and practically hazed by the acting coach. I skimmed over it quickly. It read like hot hippie bullshit.

I’d considered writing about bad poetry today, so I grabbed a few of the dumber-looking titles and glanced through them. They were all too boring or too sexy or occasionally too brilliant. “Why am I doing this?” I said to myself. I placed them back on the shelves.

I walked to the service desk to get some clearance stickers. Manager X was there telling J.D. about how she’d cured the common cold with essential oils.

“I have to be honest,” he said. “That is some straight-up witchcraft.”

I waited until she walked away to tell J.D. he was a better man than I for listening to her nonsense.

“Dude,” he said.

“I can’t take that shit, man,” I said. “It sets my fucking brain on fire.”

Revolutionary Brocialism

What do Mark Twain, Helen Keller, George Orwell, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malala Yousafzai have in common? They are, or were, socialists. Capitalists love to conveniently leave this fact out when speaking about any of them and prefer to focus on their individual accomplishments.

In Malala’s bestselling book, I Am Malalathe word “socialism” appears only three times, twice in a quote, and once referring to being “torn between Islam and secularism and socialism.” I don’t want to sound all conspiracy theorist, but perhaps her American publisher, Little, Brown and Company, a subsidiary of Hatchette Book Group USA, has kept something from us.

From Al Jazeera America:

“I am convinced,” Malala wrote in a message sent earlier this year [2013] to Pakistan’s International Marxist Tendency (IMT), that “socialism is the only answer, and I urge all comrades to struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only this will free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation.”

I’ll not bore you with my version of Marx for Kids. There are accessible versions of his works in abridged and manga versions, although I’d suggest everyone read the Communist Manifesto in full. It’s a pamphlet and written to capture your attention, and I don’t think it’s aged badly in that respect.

I must tell you that I’ve had to pause here and consider how to proceed without punching down. I think I can do this indirectly, by punching up at some of your corporate masters. If you still feel a sting, that’s the trickle-down punches working their way to you. We all know trickle-down doesn’t work, though, so you should be safe enough from direct bombardment. Sure, a rising tide lifts all boats, but what if you don’t have one?

Here’s an anecdote I never thought would be useful. I worked for Sam’s Club for a short time in the mid-Aughties. Back in the day I had no idea what labor laws were, or why worker’s rights were important. I knew we had loads of safety rules, and breaks for some reason. I assumed it was because it just made sense.

As my training went on, I realized how stringent the rules were concerning clocking in and out, working off the clock, and taking breaks on time. They were serious about getting those right, and as a manager I spent a big chunk of my time policing it. Again, I thought the benevolent company wanted to take care of its workers and would stop at nothing to make it so. Later I realized they were probably sued for some complaint or another and they must have instituted those rules to save themselves the trouble.

That’s The Wal-Mart Way!

One day an employee of mine had worked six hours and missed her lunch. This was a thing people got written up for, and she was extremely upset. I’d just promoted her to a thirty-hour-a-week job and she’d been written up once for tardiness. This would have been her second time-related write up and the third would mean termination.

Being the nice guy I was, I told her I’d take care of it. I logged onto the trusty ol’ Tandy 3000 green-screened menace, threw around some punch cards and magnetic tape, called Alan Turing, and before long I’d adjusted her time onto the wrong day. The next day someone caught it and I was immediately terminated, but that’s not the important part of the story.

Why was she horrified about being fired? Why did I jump through all those hoops just to get sacked? Somewhere back through the ages, during prehistoric times when Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble must have gotten together and formed a union at the quarry, they came up with a series of demands. In the epochs since, some of those demands have been made into state or federal laws. Many of them haven’t but they’re the kinds of things people strike over. Things like having a lunch on time or at all.

There’s no Arkansas law that says you even have to have a lunch, but what a great way to union bust. “If we give them all the things they’d ask for anyway, profit sharing, breaks, time off, then hell, they’ll have no reason to ask for bargaining rights!” the CEO says, followed by maniacal laughter. “Bonus: If they fuck up our company-mandated time requirements, we’ll fire them.”

This is how they appropriate what you hold dear, and it ain’t just Wal-Mart, honey. Corporate America owns our government, so believe me when I say every right you are afforded is being used to bludgeon you over the head until it breaks, at which point it’s tossed in the bin.

The really cool thing is that once you’ve killed labor movements long enough, once even Victor Frankenstein cannot resurrect them, it’s time to start rolling back the very perks that buried them in the first place. People take on more responsibilities for no increase in pay. They get cut to under 30 hours a week and lose their health benefits. Their position gets erased when they’re on maternity leave. “We only have to offer you a comparable one!”

We carry this appropriation into our personal lives. If a film represents a cause we care about, it’s suddenly required viewing. If you want people to watch the controversial Digital Buffalo Love (starring Autotuned Hermione) so they can learn about same-sex villain/henchman relationships in France be my guest, but don’t pretend you’ve done anything other than convince bigots to give Disney money.

On a slightly more serious note, when people go see Get Out and rush online to tell everyone to “go see it now and self-crit,” their intentions seem justified, but what exactly are they doing? Some of you may ask, “Self-crit? Is this one of those new buzzwords I’m going to be forced to learn?” Why yes, yes it is, but never fear, because it actually means “Look deep inside yourself for all the shit you’re wrong about, say a few Hail Marys and publicly self-flagellate.” Liberal thinking has much in common with classic strategies embraced by organized religion, like public shame, but the ineffectiveness of tarring and feathering people, figuratively and literally, has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout history. Nine out of ten psychologists agree, “It’s bullshit.”

At this point I’m so deep into left thinking that I’m not convinced there’s any good way to pursue social issues under the mantle of capitalist thinking. It always, always ends up propping up someone’s business or political career. Even the aforementioned film about race relations is specifically written to be some Invasion of the Body Snatchers type tale about how horrible white moderates are, and I agree, but their answer is to do what, exactly? See the movie and tell your friends to see the movie? Well, that made some folks rich. Change the way you live? How? Vote for Democrats? Has that been effective so far? Although pretty much everyone dies at the end of Get Out (spoilers, sweetie), I’m pretty sure the answer they’re suggesting isn’t socialist revolution.

There really is no struggle but class struggle, and while institutional racism absolutely exists in America, along with a shitload of problems relating to race/ethnicity/religion amongst the populace, the answer isn’t “Be a dick to each other online and support massive corporations.” I’ll take criticism from socialists who understand the answer isn’t throwing money around, especially when it involves making wealthy corruption-supporting moderates richer.

When it’s coming from folks, even well-meaning folks, whose answer is, “Vote for candidate X because they are the lesser of two evils, this is how the system works and somehow magically our problems are solved,” I consider them misguided at best.

Hillary Clinton lived in Arkansas for decades but either she didn’t pay attention or she conveniently forgot that deplorables are experts at bullying and don’t take kindly to being referred to as garbage. The bottom line was that 75% of eligible American voters weren’t compelled to vote for her. I recently argued with a Hollywood script supervisor who claimed Clinton was the victim of a coup. Hey, if Hill-Dawg wants to be President of the People’s Republic Of California, where she actually did win, I hope you’ll accept my application for residency. Anything is a step up from Red State Hell, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to process my visa from underneath the smoldering rubble of war-torn Sacramento.

We should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers.

Even Bernie’s milquetoast, half-assed Obamacare version of socialism was a bridge too far for the DNC, and their oligarchical immune system kicked into high gear in order to expel the disease. It was successful, but the host may not survive. While the Trumpenproles appropriated her insults, the bros mostly recoiled in horror and fell all over themselves crying about how they weren’t sexist.

Learn to adapt. Take a page from the #winners. If some pantsuited Lean In faux feminist calls you a “bro,” own that shit. If killing the beast that hollows out worthy causes and slips them over its heaving, vicious bulk like sheepskin makes you a bro, then I’m a Revolutionary Brocialist.

Don’t tip your fedora too hard while you attempt to wake Sleeping Bougie. Don’t confuse my figurative language for a man/woman dichotomy either, because this works all ways, but do remember that just because something rubs you the wrong way doesn’t mean you have a prepaid pass to online or real life harassment. Any cause worth filching will be canned, watered down, and delivered along with a complimentary t-shirt by capitalists looking to solidify their station. We can’t expect people to give up their life’s work because it got popular enough to commercialize. As long as the Thing lives and breathes, no one is safe, and it’s a direct sock to an activist’s jaw if we punish them for what we know is an inevitable outcome.

I will, however, torch the Thing when I can spot it, fallout be damned. No advertising campaign funded by a hedge fund manager will move me for long. Knee-jerk emotions are part of the human experience, but once you have a moment to wipe away that manly single tear, you don’t have to be an investigative journalist to Google the source of a moving viral video. The answer waits two or three clicks away, and, “Worked for Conservatives in the UK parliament,” isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s public knowledge no one points out because they’re too busy taking the bait.

We all know steering leftists towards any common goal is like herding cats. It’s always been that way, though it’s often glossed over, but if you study the history of revolutions they’re all made up of a mixed bag of folks with their own alliances and strategies. Some people, like the Bern, think Democratic Socialists can work at their own version of incrementalism. There are folks on the other end of the left who think the system won’t change until it’s burned to a cinder. Whether that’s supposed to happen actively through violence or passively by waiting for the long decline of late-stage capitalism to exhaust all our resources and collapse in on itself depends on who you’re talking to. I’m a lover, not a fighter, but I also can’t see how we’re supposed to save the patient without removing the cancer.

Fully Automated Gay Space Communism seems a silly, glittering utopia at this point. We can’t get there from here, and while I’ll never stop dreaming of Star Trek when I shut my eyes, if we’re talking about real-world action, that dog won’t hunt.

Revolutionary Brocialism, though, is something you can apply to everyday life. When you’re faced with corporate bullshit in disguise, bro up. When it’s implied a film release will do something concrete for race or gender relations in America, don’t buy it. We’re not emotionless cretins, here. If something made you identify with someone or feel alive, I’d not take that experience from you. If you imply it’s something other than entertainment, that’s where we part ways. You’ll never see a film about socialist Twain, King, or Malala (first name feels right), because a studio won’t stab itself in the eye. They’ll core out a husk and present what feels good and sells and when they take the stage to accept the award, they’ll shit on the bad capitalists and pump their fist for the good ones.

There are no good ones. We can’t polish that turd, and no matter how much liquid nitrogen they apply, it’s all going to melt back into diarrhea when heat is introduced.

I’ve called myself the Chairman of Arkansas Space Communism so much that people around here have started thinking I invented the notion. Like most of my ideas, it’s a jalopy cobbled together from science fiction and stolen memes. Maybe I’m not so different from capitalists in that respect.

I will, however, lay claim to Revolutionary Brocialism. I’m just enough of a dick to be that guy, and if we’re talking about the hero Gotham deserves, you’re looking at him. I was born a bro, baby, and I’m never going to change, so I might as well put it to good use.

The next time someone tries to feed you pig shit and tell you it’s caviar, tell them you don’t like caviar then point them towards the outhouse. You can’t always shoot the messenger, here. Someone powerful told them what they were delivering was a delicacy and they believed it, but the goal was to poison you so badly you wouldn’t bother to fight back.

I’m poisoned, infected, riddled with this shit but I’ll fight. I’ll damn well fight as long as I breathe and there’s something left to fight for.

There is a spectre haunting America. It is the spectre of Revolutionary Brocialism.