domenica, agosto 20, 2017

Emotional offsets

I've been relieved this week that we came back to Germany via the US, especially as we were there during That Week when the gloves came off after never being convincingly on. A man who built what was political in his career by exploiting white discomfort with black men, and then centred his campaign around white discomfort with Hispanic people, not only won a presidential election but was so beholden to a hardcore voter base of racists that, that week, he couldn't even trot a "Nazis suck, amirite?" when a Nazi killed some nice white lady who had never shown up to a demonstration before . . . and then having to listen to people parse all this as though it had some sort of implication besides "holy shit we live in a racist country".

Combining spending that week in Santa Fe, where as I've mentioned white people seem to think they're pretty woke but which seemed extremely efficiently and permanently segregated on racial and economic lines, and hearing from "liberal" people (God does it irritate me how Americans use that word) about how counter-demonstrators, antifa and BLM types aren't winning their side any friends, as if the endgame here is for white people to be gently urged into disliking black people less and disliking white nationalists promoting ethnic cleansing more - oh wow. That place is fucking la-la-land and not in the cutesy Ryan Gosling way (saw that movie on the plane and it added to my anti-American sentiment).

Anyways, I was relieved to get back here from there, Germany's own social problems and shitty weather and assholes belching second hand smoke all over the places notwithstanding, and that was lucky because if we had headed straight here from Canada, where we had a lovely time, especially Godzilla, it would have been a lot harder. I actually meant to write about what a lovely time we had in Canada rather than kvetch about how hard the US tweaked me out to the point I'm happy to be back in the European hegemon that's dealing with its racial problems by keeping refugees imprisoned in the poorer countries of the south, but well, there you go and now it's time to get the kid to kindergarten. 

giovedì, agosto 17, 2017

Do you know the way to Santa Fe

We've just finished rendezvousing with (rendezvouing? No idea how to conjugate that. Meeting up with. There you go) some family in New Mexico after a visit to Canada, and it was a fascinating time. Santa Fe is an interesting place. Simultaneously a massive shopping centre for and run by well-to-do white women (which obviously I'm not able to whole-heartedly knock) and the place outside of northern Canada with the biggest, most visible concentration I've ever seen of First Nations residents.

Because of the circle of acquaintance of the family we were visiting, and because of the neighbourhood we were staying in, and because of a rabbit hole of Southwest American jewellery I seem to have fallen into, the only time I spent with the white people who live there was when they were trying to sell me something. In a context where the main things for sale are First Nations culture and craft, that was creepy.

But as deeply as I fell into a jewellery rabbit hole - and it was fucking deeply, because besides the awesome way that stuff looks, the history of the making, materials and marketing is giving me so much to think about in terms of the livelihood of artists in general and identity artists in particular; I'm probably going to spend the next year wrapped up in reading and thinking about this - there was no occasion to actually give money to dealers. Everything I wanted to buy (and I bought much more stuff than I'm accustomed to buying because it was awesome and because I could) was available as direct sales from the jewellers themselves.

So there's a whole class of white people uselessly and lucratively piggybacking there. They pat themselves on the back over what an enlightened part of the US they live in because it's all peaced out and left wing; oh yep, the shopkeeps got straight into that with me when they realised I wasn't from around there. I know Trump is giving people bad cases of the cringes lately but I still felt cornered, not having brought up politics myself; it's like having a few drinks with a German and having them spontaneously bring up how the Holocaust was awful and not their fault,  but I digress.

Anyways - in Santa Fe - simultaneously back-patting while overtly living out the racist, colonial model of something-for-nothing exploitation that has never been truly faced and has made the US in general the fucking shitshow basket case of a country that it is today. After a week I was glad to leave. 

venerdì, giugno 09, 2017

giovedì, giugno 08, 2017

Penguins vs Tim Tam vs the socialist state

A couple of weeks ago, after a friend back in Oz sent me a packet of Tim Tams, I started a research project into what other shitty-but-irresistible industrial confectionary is suitable for the equivalent of the Tim Tam Slam with a hot and very strong coffee (and yes, I'm still breastfeeding and exhausted, how could you tell?)

It's been fascinating and delicious process, and will probably be a full-fledged blog post for another time, with rankings and extremely graphic descriptions. But as anyone with an elementary knowledge of these things would guess, the most compelling, if not the most attractive coffee straw substitute for a Tim Tam has been the Penguin Biscuit (and yes, I live on the continent and had to make a special trip to the town centre to an English specialty shop to buy them for an extortionate price).

The comparison is compelling mostly because there has been a long-running rivalry between the two biscuits that tends to bias along British or Australian lines, which is a reach because to my tutored and objective eating-hole, the Penguin seems like a cheap rip-off the the Tim Tam. And seeming like a cheap rip-off of the Tim Tam - the most basic (in the loaded sense of the word) chocolate coated industrial confectionary I thought you could find - is a hell of an accomplishment.

A Tim Tam always struck me as little more than shaped, coloured sugar with only a marginal acquaintance with chocolate, redeemed - but what a redemption!- by the fact you could use it as a straw for coffee. Eating a Penguin changed all that. Compared to a Penguin, a Tim Tam is a flavour and texture rollercoaster through a wondrous realm of subtle, edgy, raw cacoa-ity.

While as good for sucking up coffee and becoming saturated with it in the process as a Tim Tam, a Penguin is ONLY sweet and nothing else until a few seconds after you eat it, when you get a tinny feeling in your mouth, and then five minutes later, when you get an uncomfortable leaden sensation in your tummy. They are awful. They are putatively chocolate, yet I - a breastfeeding gourmand - am seriously considering throwing out the rest of the packet.

Nonetheless there is some sort of debate in the industrial-confectionary-consuming world about the relative merits about Tim Tams and Penguins, and nationalism is all tied up in it in a tired, fucking stupid way that is grinding my gears so much today, as the U.K. shows every sign of heading to the polls with landslide intentions to try to piss the lingering drops of its socialist state up the wall.

Basically, I'd like to see an emotional commitment to universal education and healthcare that's even mildly on par with the emotional commitment so many Brits somehow maintain to the pretence that Penguins are as good or better than Tim Tams. There's no way to abstain or to vote Conservative at this election that isn't an admission that Great Britain is basically finished, and should not restart, as a reasonably nice place to live for most of the people in it.

I am dreading the results, I really am, and I'm all out of Tim Tams with which to binge my way out of the sorrow.

martedì, marzo 28, 2017


I can't believe how fast time is moving with the Monkey King's babyhood as compared to Godzilla's. His was languorous almost - in a nice way - and the Monkey King's is speeding by. I can guess why - I'm a lot busier now, for example, and having had one baby I'm probably better at picking up on how the second one is growing and changing.

But a lot of it, again, is how Godzilla was as a baby, and how the Monkey King is. When I published the mandatory welcome-to-the-world-baby Facebook photo after he was born, one of my cousins commented "you've given birth to a fully grown boy!" and - well, yeah. Godzilla was really good at being a baby. The Monkey King, as I've mentioned before, is struggling to be a boy. Maybe because he has his brother to watch - a sort of mediating figure between the Baby World and the Whatever Mummy Is World - or maybe it's more noticeable because of him being born with a full head of hair and even as a big newborn, had that wizened newborn look that made him look old because of the hair.

But I think the main thing making time speed by is the realisation that this is it. There is not going to be another baby coming out of me and so many of the Monkey King's firsts are so closely related to my lasts. I will almost certainly not teach another baby to talk or walk or sit or smile or eat or drink or any of those mind-bogglingly fundamental things. When Godzilla was doing all that, they were my firsts too, and I had a pretty good idea they'd happen again, because it was something stated between the F-word and me, that we wanted at least two.

But now I've got a pretty good idea they won't be happening again to me. I think the only way we'd have three kids is if a cool half-mill fell in our laps in the next couple of years, and a cool half-mill isn't gonna be falling in our laps.

I'm not sad about it exactly. I guess in the best of all possible worlds I'd like three, but we don't live in the best of all possible worlds and my two are the dearest things in any possible worlds. But it does seem to make everything now acutely - acute. And that speeds things up, because existence