April 03, 2016

Eviction, Starvation and Other Unlovely Things

I've always said (along with many others) that, if there is a God, He is one unbelievably nasty, sadistic SOB. It would be just like God to have arranged events in this manner. After all this time, when I am finally able to write again -- and when I am eager to do a lot of writing once more -- I will be unable to pay the rent. After publishing a new essay several days ago, I put up a comparatively brief post offering a few observations about this and that, at the end of which I mentioned that I only have enough money to pay about half of this month's rent. I have no money at all for anything else: internet service, a few other bills and, oh yes, non-essential items like food. I offer my sincere thanks to the seven people who responded. They made donations totaling $220. I still can't pay the April rent.

If I'm still unable to pay the rent by the end of tomorrow, my rent will officially be late. (It's not considered late until after the fifth, but if I don't have the rent payment by the end of tomorrow, the landlord won't get it until the sixth or later.) The new owners may well decide to begin the eviction process as soon as I'm late. They are definitely planning to demolish this building and the one next to it and then to construct one big new apartment building, with many more units than the two small buildings now contain. That's the business they're in; we know these buildings are on their list of projects, but we don't know exactly when they will get around to them. It appears most likely that it will be sometime in the next year. A local ordinance mandates that owners must pay tenants certain amounts as relocation expenses when they tell the tenants they must move so that the building they live in can be torn down. Given my age and the length of time I've lived here, they will have to pay me about $20,000. I'm one of only three or four tenants due to receive that much. I think we can assume that the owners might well be delighted to avoid that payment in my case. If I hand them an easy excuse to get rid of me, they might pounce on it eagerly.

I'll also be unable to pay the internet bill. So in a couple of weeks, that will be gone. I have four or five days' worth of food. After that, nothing. A couple of weeks from now, I'll be in very bad shape. I can't buy other items, either --- like toilet paper. Almost out of it. Well, I have some notebooks where I sometimes write down ideas or issues I'm thinking about (I make lots of notes on the computer, but yes, I occasionally still make notes with an actual pen on actual paper). I can tear some pages out of those notebooks, and use that paper to wipe my ass. I won't be able to flush it down the toilet, so I guess I'll collect it in a bag and throw it out with the garbage.

Donations to the blog are my only source of income. If I'm unable to gather sufficient funds to pay these basic expenses, this is over. I obviously won't have money to move anywhere else, so ... Well, I've known for quite a while that this day might come, if I lived long enough. Frankly, I expected to be dead by now, given the number of physical ailments I contend with, starting, but hardly ending, with a steadily weakening heart. But I am unaccountably still here. And after a long absence, I'm ready to do some writing.

I suppose I could point to some of my articles to try to convince people to make donations. The posts listed under "Major Essays" in the right-hand column should take care of that. And all of those articles contain many links taking you to still more essays. That's what I have to offer. I'd like to offer more along those lines.

Hey, God! Here's an idea: go damn Yourself, you sickening bastard. Now, now, don't worry. I was going to Hell anyway.

April 01, 2016

Hey Now!

"Hey now!" was the catchphrase used by Larry Sanders's sidekick on The Larry Sanders Show. Garry Shandling played Sanders, and Jeffrey Tambor was the sidekick; both were wonderful. The show was genuinely smart and clever, and very, very funny. The derivation and significance of "Hey now!" became the subject of some philosophical and psychological investigation in one episode. One hugely funny episode involved David Duchovny's crush on Larry; here's a bit of it. I loved that show, and I liked Shandling's earlier show a lot as well. You probably know that Garry Shandling died recently. He was a wonderful talent. I found his death somewhat unnerving. He was only 66. I'm at the age now where people who've been around for most of my life are dying in significant numbers; Shandling was a year younger than I am, so his death was a bit more startling to me. Another recent loss was Patty Duke. She was also just about my age. I saw Duke in the original Broadway production of The Miracle Worker, which I still remember very clearly. I was 12 when I saw it; Anne Bancroft had already left the production and been replaced by Suzanne Pleshette, who was absolutely wonderful. Patty Duke was utterly astonishing as Helen Keller. The 1962 film made from the play is very fine, and Bancroft and Duke are both superb. But the impact of that play in the theater was overwhelming; the extended "fight" scene between Keller and Annie Sullivan was often terrifying.

Since I'm nattering here about this and that, I'll mention that there has recently been an extended discussion on my opera list about declining attendance at the Metropolitan Opera. Apparently, attendance has dropped to alarmingly low levels. Some of those at recent performances describe "acres" of empty seats. Most observers agree that prohibitively expensive ticket prices are a large part of the explanation. "Prohibitively expensive" for all us ordinary folks, that is. But we don't matter, of course. As one person noted, the huge rise in ticket prices at the Met is merely another part of the incredibly expensive cost of living in Manhattan, a phenomenon which is now spreading to the other boroughs, too. As this commenter noted, the message from the ruling class is: "Get rich or get out." I'd put the general issue a bit differently: "Get rich, or die." The ruling class would prefer that we simply die, you realize. I've discussed this New York problem, as it were, in this essay (and the ruling class's die-off plan is discussed here -- briefly glancing at that essay reminds me that we should properly call it a "kill-off" plan). And the New York problem is now, of course, spreading to other cities. It's become very noticeable in Los Angeles; from my reading, it appears that similar developments are occurring in many other places.

Well, that's enough of that for now. I hope you've seen the new piece from yesterday. A new piece! Hooray! I know, I know; it's been a long time coming. This last month has been godawful. I've had a bunch of computer problems. I seem to have fixed the worst of them, although the computer still does a few peculiar things at unexpected moments. I'm not entirely sure how much longer this computer will hold up (or until it requires serious professional attention), but it seems to be sort of okay for now. On the health front, I was confined to bed for most of March. All that rest seems to have helped a bit, and I feel somewhat better now. Not good, by a long shot, but better. And I finally decided I had to start writing again. Either that, or just die and get it over with. So I started writing. I was very glad to find that I still could write. I think the new article is pretty good, and it has a few nice touches. If I felt stronger, I probably wouldn't have split the essay into two parts, but made it one long article. But that would have taken a full day's work, easily eight or nine hours, given what my speed has been in the past and the material I have yet to cover. I just can't do that any longer. It took me five to six hours to put that post together; I powered through the last two or three hours on sheer will power, because I felt like absolute shit. I wanted nothing more than to curl up in bed with Sasha. That's not true; I wanted one thing more than that: to finish at least the first part of the article. So I did. I got a good night's rest, and I'm into the second part and hope to publish it in the next several days. It's complicated material, so it may take me a while to pull it together.

Part of the reason I nattered at the beginning of this entry is that writing something helps me a lot. When I'm unable to work on "serious" posts (ugh, dread word, "serious" -- yeah, screw that, let's just say more "complicated"), I've often thought of posting little entries, just a few paragraphs about a story I've seen or an issue I've been mulling over. So I may do that. I finally feel again that I must write; if I don't, I may truly go mad. So when I feel especially rotten physically, I may write some lighter, even frivolous items, just to keep my hand in.

Oh, yes: it's the goddamned first of the month again. I'm very sorry, but I have to report that I have only half of the April rent. And I have some other bills that have to be paid, including the internet bill. I'm a prisoner of Time Warner Cable. I first got the Time Warner service three, maybe four years ago; I can't remember exactly at the moment. They offered five or six different levels of service; I opted for what I recall was the second from the bottom (i.e., the next-to-cheapest), which then cost $50 a month. Now, the bill for this month is $80! I hate these people. The bill just keeps going up and up and up. It increases a little bit almost every month. Did I mention that I hate these people?

I should get the money for the rent together by Monday, if I'm going to be timely and all. So I would be tremendously grateful for any help you dear readers might be able to provide. I wouldn't be here at all but for you; I wouldn't have come back but for you. And for my own sanity, natch. As always, I offer my sincere and deep gratitude for your attention and kindness.

March 31, 2016

Desperation and Rage in the Time of Trump (I)

Donald Trump is a deeply sickening, horrifying person. It is an abomination to be forced to consider seriously the prospect of Trump becoming President of the United States. He vomits forth hideous, vicious ideas, he insults and condemns large swaths of humanity, and he offers idiotic policy prescriptions, to the extent he offers prescriptions at all, but which are almost always so vague as to be meaningless, except for being horrifying and abominable. Obviously. Trump lives in the gutter and seeks to drag all the rest of us down into the filth- and disease-infested waters with him. He is utterly classless, and he is unspeakably vulgar. His vulgarity is overwhelming. It is unspeakable, or, rather, it once would have been unspeakable for a presidential candidate to brag -- in a debate, mind you, in a debate! -- about the size of his member, as if that were a qualification for office. Any decent human being recoils from Trump and thoroughly condemns his pollution of our civil discourse. He is a blight on our country, indeed on the world. Trump embodies a pestilence that must be eradicated, completely and, one would hope, for all time.

There. Everybody happy now? Have I managed to pass the stringent test that determines whether I might lay my head on the gentle bosom of the civilized world? (Note: You may employ words such as "bosom" only when they plainly carry no sexual meaning whatsoever.) May I be admitted to the delicately manicured gardens of oh-so-polite society, to the world of genteel civilization. where no one speaks above a whisper and we all partake of our afternoon tea with pinkies gently crooked in demonstration of mastery over our baser nature?

As an unspeakably vulgar person might say: What a load of crap. Hell, let's give our inner Trump freer rein: What a load of shit. The spectacle that arrests one's attention is not Trump himself, but the near-unanimity of the chorus that condemns him as a horrifying abomination. A caution is in order: when you condemn Trump in this way, you must eschew too vehement a manner. You certainly must never raise your voice, or allow your visage to reveal your disgust, except in the subtlest manner. The image you should hold before you as your infallible guide is that of a doddering dowager who beholds a lowly maid with a wrinkled apron, or perhaps a water spot on but a single crystal goblet on a dinner table set for 30 of the finest people. "My dear, such things are simply not done. Fix it immediately, and we shall never speak of this again." Your condemnation increases in lethality as it approaches inaudibility.

But those who condemn Trump appear not to be acquainted with the doddering dowager. Their condemnation erupts out of barely controlled hysteria; on many occasions, the hysteria is not controlled at all. Trump has undone them. You would be correct to recall an overused cliche, one which is all too apt in the instant case: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." I am not referring to the condemnations to be heard from the small, self-selected audience that finds its way to the offerings here. If a person is genuinely and consistently opposed to the U.S.'s murderous policies abroad and at home (or, more broadly, to the West's same policies), that person will understandably and legitimately condemn much about Trump and his views.

The spectacle of interest here is the non-stop barrage of raging condemnation offered by those who are full-time members of the political mainstream: those who dependably inform us of the unique, world- and history-altering significance of a presidential election every four years, who refuse to even consider the idea that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a monstrous war crime that unleashed a genocide of historic proportions, who endlessly lecture us about the proper "tone" that we must use whenever we wish to register even the mildest of complaints, who steadfastly ignore the fact that every recent president has been -- and is -- a war criminal, just as any president in the foreseeable future will necessarily be a war criminal as well. What is the source of the condemnations of Trump from all these people? The source cannot be that they view Trump's proposed policies with horror, that they think his policies represent the embrace of evil. While they may differ with Trump on specific prescriptions, the policies they favor proceed from the same premises. In that sense, Trump's policies and theirs are variations on a theme; in many cases, Trump's policies are indistinguishable from those advanced by those who condemn him. We therefore must wonder: What is it about Trump that has caused them to become so unhinged?

And it is beyond dispute that they are unhinged. Take a look at this column from Andrew McCarthy. McCarthy is a useful specimen, and we have dissected his blatherings before. (We have a long memory.) I don't read McCarthy regularly; I may not, unfortunately, be a stranger to self-punishment, but even I have limits. On that occasion in 2007, McCarthy was hysterical about "militant Islam" which "wants everything." In the current piece, he is hysterical about our "sick society," where "the gutter became mainstream." He's also hysterical about "Trump's vulgarity." Considering these two articles penned nine years apart, it appears that hysteria is McCarthy's natural state. Remember the dowager, Andy! Crook your little finger before it's too late!

To assure us that he is an actual human being and not merely a mechanized program that churns out exercises in hysteria at regular intervals, altering only the source of his derangement of the moment, MCarthy insists that, "I'm hardly a prude." I dunno about that. When you're screaming about our culture's "rot" and "deterioration," and the first example you offer to prove your point is Viagra commercials on television, prude may not be the first word to come to mind, but it's certainly the second or third. ("Idiot" is probably the first.) Add to that McCarthy's paragraphs-long frothing concerning Trump's boast about the size of his penis, coupled with McCarthy's refusal to use the word "penis" and his use instead of euphemisms such as "Trump Tower" (that's an improvement?), along with his inclusion of other "jokes" that would embarrass a semi-intelligent teenager ("the 2016 erection election"), and the prude's self-portrait is complete. (There are further examples of McCarthy's prudery, but I wouldn't dream of depriving you of the fiendish delight in discovering them for yourselves.)

McCarthy reveals the phoniness of his alleged outrage at Trump's boorishness when he turns to what he regards as genuinely grave errors in Trump's policy prescriptions. McCarthy begins the final section of his column by stating that "[t]he most egregious part [of the debate], though, was Trump’s vow that, as commander-in-chief, he would compel the finest, best-trained armed forces in the history of the planet to commit war crimes — because there are evil people doing unspeakable things, as if that never happened before." And then, in the very next paragraph, McCarthy states:
For a number of years in the mid-aughts, we debated the merits vel non of waterboarding. I defended the legality of this interrogation method — in the restrained practice of the CIA, not as cruelly administered historically — mostly based on a strict interpretation of the federal torture statute. It was not an endorsement of the tactic in any particular case.
That is: McCarthy defended the legal use of torture, provided it's "restrained" torture. And he certainly wasn't saying, "Go out and torture!" He was only saying: "If you go out and torture, it's perfectly legal. No problem." That is, McCarthy advocates the "legal" commission of war crimes, which aren't actually war crimes according to McCarthy, because they can't be war crimes if we've defined them as "legal." See how simple that is? That boorish Trump is unable to grasp this elementary exercise in logic.

McCarthy goes on to say:
What I most remember about the waterboarding debate, though, is that it was an anguished one. We confronted excruciating choices, aware that we were talking about the outer margin of right and wrong — and burdened, as serious people must be, by the very real possibility that we were on the wrong side of the margin. Most of that happened only eight to ten years ago. Now a man running for the Republican nomination to be president of the United States has repeatedly promised to discourage terrorists by having our soldiers kill their families — women and children — and to liberally use interrogation tactics more extreme than waterboarding. And he’s winning.
Thus, McCarthy tells us what are, in his view, the actual requirements for admission to the hushed garden of civilization. You may advocate war crimes, you may endorse the most barbaric practices (being careful not to endorse their use "in any particular case"), you may advocate and implement policies that necessarily result in the deaths of many thousands (and even of over a million) of entirely innocent human beings -- you may do all of this, and more, as long as you are properly "anguished" about it, as long as you state that you know you are making "excruciating choices."

In other words: you may be a monster, as long as you are an exquisitely well-mannered one. Provided you never raise your voice (except to hurl screaming denunciations at those who lack your unmatched gentility) and always remember to crook your little finger in just the right way, no one will call you a monster. You may be steeped in blood, notably including the blood of countless innocent people, and none of your friends or colleagues will ever remark upon that fact. It's only the polite thing to do, after all. As for McCarthy's feigned horror at the brutality of Trump's proposal -- note how his alleged horror is underlined by McCarthy's italicization of "women and children" -- honest to God, what can one say? How many innocent women and children have been murdered by the policies that McCarthy enthusiastically supported? How many innocent people are being murdered today and will be murdered tomorrow, and will be murdered for all the tomorrows to come, as the direct result of policies that McCarthy endorses? Trump has proposed nothing that differs from U.S. policy in the past, or from what the U.S. does today and will do again tomorrow. But those in the political mainstream have agreed to lie about all of it, and when they speak of these crimes (which, of course, are not crimes when we commit them), they writhe in anguish about these very serious and excruciating matters.

Trump dispenses with the lies and the pretense. He gives us the horror straight and undiluted. Trump does this not only in connection with this example, but with any other example you care to name. The pattern is the same. Trump has ripped off the fig leaf of "civilization" and revealed the mangled corpse that lies beneath. This, I submit, is perhaps the most significant unacknowledged element that explains the mainstream's neverending, ear-splitting denunciations. If people were forced to confront the horror head-on, and if they ever made the connection and realized that the nauseating corpse is now what the United States stands for, who knows what might happen? In time, they might understand how sickening and destructive the reality is, and they might demand that it be changed. On that day, McCarthy and his numerous compatriots would be out of business. The dowager's version of "civilization" would be finished. Trump represents a threat that the political mainstream cannot tolerate, or forgive. From one perspective -- although I acknowledge that the perspective can only be maintained for a brief moment, given the amount of blood that has been spilled, and that is all too likely to be spilled in the future -- the justice is perfect. Trump took them at their word, and he embodies the full reality of their policies. He is a monster -- and they created him. But for them, the monster would not exist.

Although the general public might one day reject the monster if they came to understand these connections, that day is tragically not here now. Many people respond positively to Trump; the most common explanations for Trump's success are his "authenticity" and that he gives voice to the profound anger that many people feel (which most observers acknowledge is largely justified anger). I agree that these two factors are very significant in Trump's success, but not in the way most people conceive them. To explain these dynamics, we must delve deeper into the underlying causes. I will turn to those issues next time.

March 01, 2016

Double Trouble

A very quick emergency bleg. I've been bedridden for most of the past month with horrible health problems. Very sorry for my continued absence. And I thought I had about $400 more than it turns out I actually have for the March rent. So I'm short by that amount.

And then this morning, I'm having all kinds of problems with my computer. Still trying to figure out what's going on. But I no longer have a backup computer. The computer I'm using is it. If anything dire happens to this one, I'm pretty much sunk. I honestly have no idea what I'll do if this computer craps out. But it will be pretty terrible, no doubt about that.

If you can spare anything at all, I would be hugely grateful. I swear I'll make all this (by which, I mean approximately the last year) up to you somehow, someday. If I can just manage to get through this next, hopefully-not-awful-and-world-ending bit...

Many thanks, as always. I'll give you an update on my situation with rent, computer, health, etc. in the next day or two (assuming the computer still works).

My deepest gratitude as always. Now if I can just get this massive anxiety attack to subside...

February 03, 2016


This morning, I crawled out of my sick bed and, after greeting my sweet Sasha, playing with her for a few minutes and then feeding her breakfast, I reread what I posted here last month.

As I thought again about the writing I would love to be doing, and how my awful health continues to make that all but impossible, I started crying. A few of you have told me how much you miss my writing, and how you long to hear my "unique voice" (not my phrase) again. I'm enormously grateful for those messages; they mean a great deal to me. How do you think I myself feel? For the last ten years or so, my writing here has been my primary activity. In many ways, it's how I define myself, how I express my soul, for want of a better word. When I'm unable to write, I feel as if part of me vanishes with each day that passes. I wonder how much of my "self" is left now. So I am filled with despair, anger, frustration, sadness. And I cry.

I'm only able to write these short, "begging" posts because my terror of being unable to pay the rent, and then being evicted, briefly overwhelms even that despair and sadness. But that terror is losing some of its power over me, so these posts come closer and closer to the deadline for rent payment. I suppose that someday, I may just let it go, and proceed to homelessness and the end of me. I occasionally think it would be much easier to stumble into the middle of the street and get hit by a truck. Don't worry: I no longer experience depression that fixates on suicidal thoughts. I wrestled that demon to the ground some years ago. only because of Alice Miller's work, which finally enabled me to understand and conquer it.

But the profound sadness remains, and the wretched health. I'm still trying to work through it. If anything saves me, to any extent, it will be my ability to write. As I read those words from a month ago, I thought: "If only I felt physically the way I did on my better days even two or three years ago. Just think what I could get done!" That's when the tears come.

I have done some work in the past month. Not a lot of writing, but to compose the essays I've planned, I have to read (and sometimes reread) a number of articles and some books. Those people who have read me for several years will know that I don't simply put down whatever random thoughts happen to be rattling around the vasty spaces of my brain, such as it is. My strong preference is to offer essays grounded in facts and research. I once heard a writer say, with regard to nonfiction, that you are only ready to write one essay when you know enough to write at least ten essays on the same subject. I've always thought that proportion is about right; it has certainly been true in my experience. By contrast, think of the posts offered by many writers and bloggers, where it is painfully obvious that they are writing at the outermost edge of their knowledge and understanding (and frequently exceeding whatever understanding they have, when it's clear they don't know what the hell they're talking about).

As to the current cause of my practical terror: I am a few hundrd dollars short of the February rent. If at all possible, I should have the rent payment ready by the end of tomorrow, which will enable me to get the payment to the landlord on Friday (the last day before the rent is late). And I'm still trying to gather sufficient funds to get Sasha to the vet. I wasn't able to raise enough last month, which is attested to by the fact that I don't have the rend money I need. My anxiety (and guilt) about Sasha is doing nothing to help me overcome the other problems. She still seems fine, so I hope nothing terrible is happening.

I would be more grateful than I can say if any of you still think this is a cause worth supporting, looking to the day, hopefully sooner rather than later, when I can focus long enough to put some articles together. I try every day; this battle is one of the hardest I've ever fought. And let me offer my deepest thanks to all those who have made donations recently. I'm still here only because of you.

Many thanks for listening, and for your understanding. Now back to my battle.

P.S. I can't resist saying that, in addition to my wanting to offer some thoughts about the Trump candidacy, I also want to spend some time considering Ted Cruz. He is one of the creepiest public figures I've seen in my life, which is not short at this point. He's also very, very scary. I'm astounded that people don't recoil from him in terror. But a lot of people don't, which is very interesting and worrying in itself. Never fear: this idiotic presidential election is not one of the major subjects I want to write about, although some of my themes intersect with issues related to Trump, Cruz and the rest of this group of mass murderers, mass murderer wannabes, liars and criminals. They are all deeply disturbed individuals; no one who wants to be president is remotely close to what I consider normal and healthy. And many people also fail to understand that, which is similarly interesting. And extremely worrying.

January 02, 2016

A Few Thoughts

I offer this genuinely sincere wish for all of you individually in the New Year: that you find peace and happiness in your personal lives. I would offer the same thought in a more general sense, but that would obviously be worse than futile. On the broad cultural level, it's most likely that nothing much will change, except perhaps to get worse (but not, of course, for the most powerful and affluent, for they are never subject to the laws that govern the rest of us, in any sense). And this is, of course, a presidential election year, so God help us. The mounds of bullshit will be far larger and higher than usual, and they will frequently threaten to topple over and suffocate us all. So I say: fuck 'em.

There may be a few issues relating to the election that will merit discussion, although that subject deserves far less attention than most will give it. It ultimately matters not at all, but dear Lord, almost everyone will endlessly shout about how important it all is. If Trump makes it to the general election, that could be somewhat interesting. I do find it fascinating to watch the commentariat (of every stripe) as they try to grapple with the Trump candidacy. What does it all mean?, they ponderously intone. It's always instructive to watch our prominent debaters when they consider any event or person that deviates in any significant way from the usual script. They have nothing to say -- except what everyone else says, beginning with everyone else in their particular political tribe. So I suppose I will need to address the Trump eruption, and at least try to make some sense of it.

As for the election: I continue to wish fervently that most people would do what I describe here. I had never intended that fable to be a blueprint for political action, certainly not when I wrote it or for several years afterward, since I recognize that reality is hardly likely to follow a peaceful script of that kind, not if history is any guide. But as I noted a few years ago, when I consider events of the last 10 or 15 years -- many of which neither I nor most others (including most others much smarter than I am) ever dreamt we would see in our lifetimes -- my imagined scenario seems less fantastical to me by the day. Events just might unfold in that general manner, if what I describe occurred. I'll put it another way: voting, that is, taking part in a grotesque, meaningless charade designed to camouflage the hideous, ugly truth of the system that rules us, represents the abandonment of hope. By contrast, from the perspective that informs my fable, not voting is a deeply hopeful act. (Thinking about this also causes me to reflect that it would be worthwhile to consider the overall cultural and psychological effects of the ghastly later stages of a corporatist system like ours. In fact ... hmm. I almost blurted out further thoughts about that, but I think this might make a swell new article, so I'll keep those thoughts to myself for the moment.)

I'm still determined to write a series of essays that I've been mulling for months now. That series, thankfully, has nothing to do with elections, at least not directly, although I think some of the themes in that series may help to explain the Trump phenomenon, too. Among other issues, the essays will consider how most of our lives and virtually all of our "national debate" revolve around colossal lies. Lies are the staple of our existence; unfortunately, that remains true even for many of those who profess to be opposed to the lies.

As regular readers know, I've been slowed down, and almost entirely absent from this space, because of my awful health. It remains awful, even though it's been blessedly cool here for a while now. But my body simply doesn't recover any longer, at least not to any substantial degree. So I'm in pretty terrible shape. It's horribly difficult for me to get anything done, even the simplest of tasks. A trip to the corner store wipes me out for a good part of the day; taking out the garbage constitutes all I'm capable of for a morning or afternoon. A pathetic state of affairs. Ah, well.

But it's a New Year. So I will try my best to get some writing done. I certainly want to; I can only hope that my body won't stop me entirely, as it did for most of last year. (And honestly: thank God that year is over.) And despite the fact that I absolutely loathe doing it, I have to begin the year by asking for donations. (I couldn't do it yesterday, on New Year's Day, for that would have been just too ugly.) I only have half of what I need for the January rent, and damn it if January isn't actually here already. If possible, I need to pay the rent by Monday or Tuesday. The rent isn't considered late until after the fifth of the month, so I have a few days to try to raise the funds. And I also have to pay for internet service, as well as a long postponed electric bill, plus food and the like. And if I can raise enough, my darling Sasha needs to go to the vet. She has a small lump on her left side, just behind the front leg. I hate writing that; seeing the fact in print gives it greater weight. But that is the fact: she has a small lump. I hope it's nothing, just a little cyst or something else easily dealt with. But I would want to kill myself if it turns out to be serious, and especially if it turns out to be something serious that could have been addressed successfully if only I had gotten her assistance sooner. So I should try to get her to the vet in the next couple of weeks. She seems completely fine otherwise, so even if it is something serious, we can hope it hasn't advanced too much.

So that's where I am at the outset of 2016. As always, I offer my profound thanks to all of you who are so unaccountably kind and generous. This weekend, I will begin some serious work on the new series; I already have lots of notes, but now to the actual writing. I will try to complete the introduction this coming week, wherein I will explain why the "Amityville Horror" is more significant in terms of what it reveals about our culture than you might think upon first consideration. Like me, you might have long regarded it as just another weirdly stupid manifestation of a certain kind of idiocy. It certainly is that -- but I also think it's much more than that, and far more disturbing.

I will see you all here again, and soon. So let it be written, so let it be done!

October 30, 2015


Of necessity, this will be brief, because that's all I can manage.

Less than a week after my last post, and after some promises from weather forecasters of cooler weather, Los Angeles had the worst heat wave of the year (and the worst heat wave in 25 years, if I recall correctly). It hit 100 degrees in my neighborhood three days in a row, and temperatures were very high for several more days. That proved to be far more than my body could take. I ended up immobile in bed for that week, and for most of the time since. I began to get a little better this past week, but now we're having a few days in the mid- to high eighties; at this point, that basically makes me want to lie down and die, just so all this ends.

I still trust that the mood will pass, when the goddamned weather finally gets cooler. They say that will happen next week -- but that's what they said a month ago. I just pray they're right this time. Regardless of the weather, I fear I will be calling 911 one day fairly soon. Some of the symptoms I've been experiencing are extremely unnerving. I've become accustomed to very bad shortness of breath when I walk to the store a block away, where the nearest ATM is located. Over the past several years, I've gone downhill from having to stop and rest once or twice when walking that block, to now having to stop and rest five or six (or more) times. The periods of rest have gotten significantly longer, too. It now takes me 45 minutes to an hour to make the round-trip; five years ago, it took me 10 to 15 minutes. And now, I sometimes experience bad shortness of breath just from slowly moving around my apartment.

I had sworn to myself that I wouldn't ask for donations again until after I'd published at least two or three major posts. I'm sorry, but I just haven't been able to do it. Not even close. This past week, I did begin collecting all my notes -- and, thanks be to heaven, I finally found what I think is an interesting way to approach a large amount of material. I wanted to publish the first in a series of articles by the end of this week, but then it started getting warmer again. Fucking weather.

And now it's the end of the month again. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Don't know what else to say at this point. I'm almost flat broke. I have a little over a hundred dollars, and that's it. Nothing for rent, nothing for food, nothing for any other bills. Nothing at all.

Here's hoping it actually does get cooler in November, and that I finally can get some writing done. But if I can't pay the rent, it won't matter. If I'm dealing with the likelihood of eviction, nothing else will matter. It will be over for me at that point. Maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing now. (Gee, do you think I'm depressed? Can't imagine why.)

So, as always, I would be deeply grateful for any help people can provide. I wish I had something "meaningful" to say about all this; I don't. So my apologies once more, along with my gratitude.

I hope to survive all this, and to see better days again. But people hope for all kinds of things...