And I said “shit!”

16 10 2017

I happily saw shit on Saturday.

Well, I didn’t see “shit”, per se; instead, I saw what happens to shit at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. C. had gotten tickets for a tour via OpenHouse New York, one of those nifty freebies available to New Yorkers which I always think I should do! and then forget to do. C did not forget.

The tour started with a lecture by an assistant director at the plant, during which he talked about the process by which water and waste makes it way to the plant, how garbage (whatever happened to fall into sewers) gets removed, what happens when its (BABY WIPES) are not and how non-removed trash (BABY WIPES) gum up the works and makes him very unhappy.

Guys, baby wipes in the toilet are bad. DON’T FLUSH BABY WIPES.

The wastewater is then cycloned and centrifuged and filtered and munched on by aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, biosolids (including food waste) is shunted off for re-use, and the 95%-clean water is piped into the East River. The assistant director (who hates BABY WIPES) pointed out that, not to brag or anything, but the EPA only requires 85%-clean.

Anyway, the lecture was good and informative and he had props of the water at various stages, but, really, we were there for the Digesters Eggs.

These babies:

There are two sets of four, and they sent us up to the top, 10 at a time, in a verrrrrry slow elevator.

The view was lovely:

I thought it might stink, but, really, it didn’t. There were portholes at the top through which you could look at the churning water, but absent a leak around these seals (which, okay, one or two of the eggs had leaky seals), nothin’.

I don’t know what these are, but you can see get a sense of how huge this site is:

This was and is a highly industrialized area of Brooklyn: Newtown Creek itself is hella polluted from over a century of industry, and goddess only knows what’s in the ground. Given that pollution is the ultimate anti-gentrifier, the area hasn’t been overtaken by lofts and hipster bars; instead, there are metal recycling businesses across the street from the plant, and National Grid (gas) has facilities in the area.

In fact, National Grid is in the early stages of building its own facility on the plant to capture, process, and use the methane produced via the Digester Eggs. Sustainability, baby!

The plant does try to capture and reuse the methane for its own power purposes, but their storage is limited; further, the bladder inside a storage facility had collapsed, so it was being flamed-off, here:

It was all very cool, and C and I agreed that it would be great if she (who’s finishing an environmental science degree) got a job here.

I know, most visitors to New York never leave Manhattan, and, honestly, that’s fine! There’s lots to see in Manhattan!

But Manhattan is onstage, and as much as I thought when younger that I wanted an onstage life, I have come to appreciate the gears of backstage. And it really doesn’t get more backstage than waste treatment.

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Hit the road, Jack

12 10 2017

Enough with the fucking men.

Oh, I know, I’m supposed to say Most men aren’t predators and #NotAllMen and maybe even Some of my best friends are men, but, honestly, enough.

It’s not just Harvey Weinstein (who deserves every shitty non-violent thing coming to him), or Donald Trump, or Roger Ailes or Bill O’Reilly or R. Kelly or Bill Cosby, not just Hollywood and the media and politics, but the university (see here and here and here and . . . ), finance, tech, and pretty well any damned place where men and women work.

And whose fault is this? I think you know.

Yes, it’s women’s fault that men harass them (us), for not being professional, for being too casual, for being too sexy, for being naive, for being too yielding, not fighting back, for having the goddamned audacity of daring to walk into the world in our female bodies.

(And, oh yes, men are also abused—see Terry Crews and Corey Feldman—which serves to demonstrate that shitty male sexual-power dynamics can ensnare anyone.)

If there are rumors or whisper campaigns? Well, maybe that’s not the real story, or maybe it’s just women misinterpreting things, or, y’know, maybe there’s just not enough evidence, he-said/she-said, whattayagonnado? And, oh, cmon, that favorite actor/comedian/musician couldn’t really have done that, could they? I mean, they’re famous: why would they have to take what so many would willingly offer?

And then when the harassment and abuse can no longer be ignored? Well, then, it’s our fault for not having IMMEDIATELY reported it or IMMEDIATELY denounced the abuser and, really, aren’t we just a part of the problem with our silence?

This is where I snap. I am unshocked by violence against women, by sexual harassment and catcalling and the everyday-ness of treating women as the sexual adjuncts of men. I should note I have never been sexually assaulted, am not usually catcalled, and have dealt with only a handful of harassers/abusers, so my rage is less personal than ontological: this is how it is to be a woman in our fucking world.

So Harvey Weinstein, a major Democratic donor, is exposed as criminally creepy, and. . . it’s somehow Hillary’s fault? Anthony Bourdain has gone after Weinstein and those who covered for him, but he made sure to take the time to express his “disappointment” in Hillary Clinton.

Yes, the Democratic Party and countless Democratic candidates—including male ones!—have taken Weinstein’s money, but, really, it’s a problem that Hillary’s response has been “uninspiring”, that she said she didn’t know?

Such horseshit, such worm-infested horseshit.

Here’s where the “enough with men!” comes in: if “everyone” really did know, then why is it only the women who should have spoken up? Jane Fonda said she feels “ashamed” for not coming forward a year ago, when she first found out; how many Hollywood men feel guilty for having known for years? How many of them are wondering why they didn’t take those rumors more seriously, didn’t take the women seriously?

Anthony Bourdain: if everyone knew, if you knew, then why didn’t you say something?

I don’t hate Bourdain, enjoyed Kitchen Confidential, and have watched and will likely watch some of his t.v. shows. I’d probably enjoy a barstool-bullshitting session with him, and would be unsurprised to find out he treats people decently. In short, I don’t think he’s a bad guy.

Which is rather the point: He’s not a bad guy, and he manages to slam a woman for not reacting in the right way to a bad man.

He’s not horrible, but, really, that’s all that can be said.

~~~

When I first jumped on Twitter and started following a bunch of people of color, I’d commonly see withering references to white people (or wypipo)—references which would inevitably lead to white folks jumping into that person’s mentions to say “. . . but not me!”

I didn’t do this, but I understood the impulse: You want to be one of the good guys, and just as if not more importantly, you want to be recognized as one of the good guys. #NotAllWhitePeople. . . .

The original Tweeter would usually react with anything from exasperation to impatience to contempt: If this truly doesn’t apply to you, then why do you need to make this about you?

I understood that response as well, or thought I did. I mean, I could see that the Tweeter had a point, but weren’t they, maybe, a bit. . . harsh?

Well. Yes. And?

I have come to see that the harshness was merited, an honest expression of distrust in the goodness of white people, of skepticism that white people really have any interest in confronting white supremacy, in getting outside of their (our) own whiteness.

I think most men are not rapists, are not harassers, and think most men probably treat people (including women people) decently. I also think most men don’t see themselves as in any way responsible for the culture which make it easy for some of them to behave so horribly.

So, enough. No credit for not being horrible, no credit for meeting minimal standards of humanness.

That doesn’t mean we can’t be friendly, can’t be decent colleagues, can’t enjoy ourselves in a session of barstool-bullshitting, but, when it counts, until I see otherwise, I don’t expect men to step up.





Nazi punks fuck off

20 09 2017

Ohhh, I don’t know why, but it seemed that it might be a good time to read Deborah Lipstadt’s Denying the Holocaust.

No reason, really. Y’know, I just happened to have recently watched Denial, happened to have been at the Strand, happened to have to have found myself in the Holocaust Studies section, and, Oh, look, there it is. And then I just happened to have found myself in the opposite corner of the basement in the Law section, where, again, Lookee, here’s History on Trial.

I have said before that, after that first rush to do something, anything, to grit up the gears of the Trump machine, I’d deflated.

I’m still flat. Oh, I still go to the occasional protest and holler, but mostly, I read of all the harm this administration is doing and think God. Fucking. Dammit. And not much more.

I am still trying to think, however, and I figured Lipstadt would be among those authors who could give me something to think about. She doesn’t sketch out an explicit typology of denial in Denying, but in laying out the stories of Hitler and Nazi apologetics, she makes it easy to see the tricks and bullshit these horrid wretches pull to advance their pernicious claims. (In fact, I think I may go through the book and pull out and arrange that tricksy shit for all of y’all.)

It is discouraging, however, to note that, in the preface to Denying, she writes of the incredulity her work provoked, as if no one could believe such a rebuttal were necessary. But then, she continues, That situation has changed dramatically. Regrettably, I no longer have to convince others of the relevance of this work.

Why discouraging? Denying was published in 1993.

~~~

I know, it’s easy to laugh at tiki torches and fashy haircuts, but anyone who wears a swastika is a menace. I absolutely believe that we can and should laugh at these assholes as much as possible—if mockery can shrink ’em, then let’s errrrybody mock—but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take them seriously, and shouldn’t be ready to confront them at every possible turn.*

I’ve long thought it important to keep an eye on the fringes, even if I didn’t think it necessary to do more than that. The overt antisemites are still on the fringes, along with the hood-wearing racists, but that they’re popping up has made it even easier for the ‘respectable’ white supremacists to advance their ideas about “globalists”, “thugs”, and “aliens”.

Again, none of these convictions translates, for me, into a clear sense of what, exactly, I should be doing. But I know I need to prepare for whatever comes.

~~~

*I just re-read Jen Graves’s 2013 piece on Charles Krafft, an artist who worked—ironically, it was thought—in Nazi imagery; turns out that, no, really not ironic.

So Krafft is a piece of shit. But what’s striking is less his shittiness than his friends’ reactions to that shittiness:

Another old friend, Tacoma writer Peggy Andersen, said she had to stop socializing with Krafft. “I told him, ‘When I hang out with you, I feel like I’m endorsing something.’… His main thing is that the Holocaust is an exaggeration. I say, if they only killed 10,000 people because they were Jewish, it would still be a holocaust, jackass.” As Andersen and I ended our interview, she said, “Be sure to say I love Charlie.”

A longtime friend who insisted on anonymity said, “It’s not only anti-Semitic stuff, it’s also racism—you know, blacks and women and anything that is held dear by the liberal establishment. And I can see a reaction against holier-than-thou attitudes, I mean, yeah, of course. But…”

Other friends, like Larry Reid, coauthor of the 2002 monograph on Krafft, Villa Delirium, just sort of look away. “I try not to pay too much attention,” Reid said.

Yeah, no, looking away, proclaiming love, not paying attention: not gonna fly.

Like I said, I may not know what to do, big-picture, but if one of my “kind”, “generous”, “articulate”, Zen friends goes Nazi, I sure as hell hope I know at least enough to say NOPE.





Shine a little light

11 09 2017

Last year, I didn’t go out to look at the lights.

They’re visible from the grounds of my building, two thin, blurred beams towering up through the night, disappearing into the beyond. All I have to do is walk down a few flights of stairs, across the lobby, out the door, angle a look left and up, and there they are.

I haven’t seen them every year since I’ve been in New York; in fact, I don’t know if I saw them before I moved to my current apartment. Maybe? I don’t know.

Anyway, I wasn’t here when it happened, didn’t know anyone (at the time) directly affected; those who I know who were here will talk about it, if prompted, but none of them will volunteer the memory. It’s personal.

It sometimes seems fake for me to claim those two lights as mine, to think that there’s anything to my witness of this annual rite. But I felt bad, last year, for not going out. Here or not, mine or not, it seemed disrespectful not to remember, especially since that remembrance costs me so little.

So, tonight, I took the short walk down and out, looked left and up, and there they were, grayer here and brighter there as they passed through the clouds and up into the beyond, farther than those of us on the ground can see.





Going to the chapel

10 09 2017

I was supposed to get married last night. Or early this morning. Or both, really.

This happens every so often: I am in some sort of wedding venue about to wed a man I barely know.

Last night, he was blond and nice and I don’t know even know if bridal-me knew his name. I think I knew the bridesmaids—in one version, the three of them were wearing not-entirely-awful aubergine dresses, and we acted like we knew each other—but I also remember wondering whether they were friends or family or why they were my bridesmaids. At one point they were stepping on my very long train.

In both versions the wedding was being held in some kind of funky mansion/old hall with 17 chapels, with many weddings happening all at once. It was an amazing place, and it was all quite festive.

Also, in both versions, I thought Why the hell am I getting married? I mean, the groom (younger than me, I think) seemed like a perfectly decent guy, but we hadn’t know each other very long and I felt nothing in particular for him. In one version I actually made it into the chapel and was about to head down the aisle, but in the other I (and/or bridesmaids and/or friends and family) were rushing to find the right chapel, thinking we’re late, but not. At one point in one of the versions I recall telling a friend I really shouldn’t be getting married and she cheerfully agreed, but nothing came of it. I also thought I should call this off; isn’t it too late to call this off? Then again, I also thought, Well, let’s see what happens. Oh, and yet yet again, I thought, this is all just a dream so it doesn’t matter what happens because when I wake up I’ll be single.

Also, in both versions, my hair was a disaster.

Now, when I was younger I thought—assumed—I’d get married. As a dress-hating pre-adolescent I announced that I would get married in jeans, a jean jacket, and a jeans hat. Yes, I left that particular fixation behind, but also, at some point probably in my twenties, stopped assuming I’d get married, then stopped wanting it.

Do I want to get married? In the abstract, no, which, given that my relationships never lasted long enough to advance much beyond the theoretical, meant that that abstraction reigned. But what if I met someone who was not abstract, with whom I did manage to maintain a relationship long enough for it to become real, for us to say, Hey, maybe. . . ?

I dunno. I doubt it. Then again, Hey, maybe. . . .

In the meantime, I guess I’ll keep having this nocturnal ceremonies with grooms (thus far, they’ve all been men, but that could change) I barely know, wearing gowns I’d never choose, always simultaneously late and on-time, the perpetual bride-to-be.





Not touching ground at all

22 08 2017

Sucks to look for a therapist.

Physician? Not a problem: as long as the person’s competent and friendly (enough), I can work with him or her. I found my current doc via a walk-in service I used when insurance-less; now insured, I still see her, and she’s fine.

But a therapist? I gotta click with the person, and since I don’t know ahead of time who I’ll think, Yeah, okay, this is someone I’m willing to talk to even when I’m unwilling to talk, it’s a pain in the ass to search.

Well, that, and that I’m looking for a therapist means I’m NOT IN THE MOOD to be looking for a therapist.

I’ve had two good therapists, one nice-but-not-great one, and a number of non-starters. The two good ones were nothing alike—one was a younger psychiatrist who taught in the UW med school and was laid-back in her approach; the other was older, had a master’s in counseling psychology, and pushed—but both were tough and kind. I trusted each of them as much as I’ve trusted anyone.

So, beyond “tough and kind”, I don’t really have a type. I’ll know within a session or two—well, honestly, I’ll know within one session if I cannot work with someone, a few more if I can—which means I have to do the therapeutic equivalent of speed-dating before deciding on a relationship.

This shouldn’t be that big of a deal: meet for an introductory session, and if it works, great, and if not, well, it was only one session. But this seems like an enormous obstacle when one is NOT IN THE MOOD to be doing much of anything—which is, of course, no small part of the reason why I’m looking for a therapist in the first place.

I’ve been avoiding looking for months, but tonight I finally hopped on to my insurer’s website and looked for therapists who a) they covered; b) dealt with affective disorders; c) were in a convenient location; and d) had a schedule which would accommodate my own. I found three who met these criteria, although if none of these work out, there are plenty more available.

Now, having managed to drag myself out of my torpor long enough to find some possible therapists, I need to maintain this momentum (hah!) to confirm that my insurance coverage does, indeed, cover the therapist AND THEN book an appointment! Horrors.

Do I have it in me? I’d better, if I’m not to sink any further into this lassitude. I’m not in crisis, which makes it easy to put this off, but if I put it off too much longer, well, I might still be fine, or fine enough.

But knowing what not-fine is like and that that’s a risk? Yeah, I’d best get on this.





There has to be an invisible sun

21 08 2017

Since I just wrote on Pink Floyd, I’ll go with this for the eclipse: