Recent Surroundings

Last month, 103,000 jobs were created. The unemployment rate dropped 0.4 percent. Which means more people have dropped out of the job market. That is, they have Given Up. Others cling to part-time employment.

Let’s not ignore that 1 of 4 children in the United States is food insecure. Which is a convoluted way of saying 25% of individuals under 18 –according to the American Community Survey, they number over 53,000,000 so that’s over 13,000,000 people– do not know whether they’ll have regular meals everyday, let alone what nutritional value those meals will have. How many of us choose fast food when fast food and subpar store items are sometimes the only option for hungry families?

It may be true that many middle classers are comfy at home with the heat set at 72, lights on in the hall, and 5 different screen savers glowing while video gaming goes on in the insulated basement. But, first of all, that middle class is shrinking and shirking the next generation(s). Yes, that generation, raised self-centered and imbued with entitlement, has been screwed and solicited by fraudulent profiteers and misdirected parents. This one (you know, the national economic, political atmosphere of popular powerlessness) can hardly be blamed on the babes.

Second of all, a grand number of folks who happen to be hungry have to decide whether to pay for heat or food. I am not food insecure, and already this conflict confronts me. My roommate and I simply cannot afford to use our heat. The only rooms in which it does any good are my bedroom and the bathroom. Sure, we’ve purchased a space heater recently (it isn’t helping at the moment) and put up insulating curtains. Do they help? Not really. Not at all probably. I guarantee, based on the chill factor of my nose, that the temperature of our apartment is in the 50s. Not because we shop for gratuitous things, but because we have loans to pay off, car bills, and inadequate heaters! We should talk to our landlord or gas company about the last one, but we have and we’re still shivering for heat. How must a parent making minimum wage feel?

And I don’t know about other people, but the endless freeze kills any miniscule ambition I may have to do anything. Wear a coat to make dinner in the kitchen? Well, why not skip dinner or quickly microwave some frozen crap? Read a book? Why not watch a movie so I can stay under a pile of blankets? Why would I want to get out of bed in the mornings onto the frigid floor?

Yet I’m not close to the poverty line–some outdated threshold established 40+ yrs ago. Nonetheless, it’s generally expected that food insecure folks –some (not all!) of whom live at or below the poverty level– suck it up, get in their likely shitty cars, get a job, get another 3 jobs, buy business-y clothes for a proper job, which they might not be qualified for, get kids to school on time, etc.

Meanwhile Google is trying to spread everywhere and art coverage is taking us the way of disconnect. Corporations and banks have so much protection they have their way with us regularly, and I’ve lately watched an episode of West Wing reminding all about the absurdity of collecting census data. To top this Monday off I watched Fuck, the funny documentary that reignites my love of Sean Connolly and George Carlin. So on that note, I take my leave!


Census Data

Poverty in the US, wikipedia


Grab bag dire straits

1am. A mug of finished black tea left, a lit tealight candle fracturing through its crimped glass holder on the window sill right, and groovy underwater tunes roll out of Princeton on Sam's Storytime Castle at 103.3 WPRB. I can't talk up this radio station enough. Stream that shit!

Since mentally beginning this post, I have started work and thus lost much reading time. I find myself glad to be working for a nonprofit that does more than deal in paper & ink and the shifting of money. It is an efficient nonprofit too (as far as nonprofits go); a generally accepted rule says effective nonprofits spend a minimum of 85% of their total expenditures on providing direct program services.

Employment made for a nice contrast to increasing anxiety re: current national dilemmas. Namely, that Obama blows. Quite frankly, his skin color and political party mean nothing to me. Apparently, his political party also means nothing to him. Pourquoi!? Yeah, the dummy who talked up transparency, abortion rights, and bringing the ego of big business back down to size has manipulated Congress Democrats to pass a conservative health care bill ultimately derived from The Heritage Foundation.

It's been a while, but it still stings. While I haven't considered him useful since implementing seatbelt standards, I surprisingly found myself agreeing with some of Ralph Nadar's dramatic take on the fiasco:

The health insurance legislation is a major political symbol wrapped around a shredded substance. It does not provide coverage that is universal, comprehensive or affordable. It is a remnant even of its own initially compromised self — bereft of any public option, any safeguard for states desiring a single payer approach, any adequate antitrust protections, any shift of power toward consumers to defend themselves, any regulation of insurance prices, any authority for Uncle Sam to bargain with drug companies, and any reimportation of lower-priced drugs.

Most of the health insurance coverage mandated by this legislation does not come into effect until 2014, by which time 180,000 Americans will die because they were unable to afford health insurance to cover treatment and diagnosis, according to Harvard Medical School researchers.

The bill’s 2,000 pages afford many opportunities for insurance companies to further their strategy of maximizing profits by denying claims, restricting the benefits of their present customers, and the benefits of the new customers who are mandated to buy their policies, all backed by hundreds of billions of dollars of federal subsidies.
Its main saving grace is that it is so inadequate and so delayed in implementation that the position supported by the majority of people, physicians and nurses –- full Medicare for all –- will have abundant opportunities to build around the country. The spiraling price hikes by the insurance industry are sure to spur the single payer movement to new popularity.

Regardless of a body's position on this particular legislation, more people ought to be outraged by POTUS's duplicity on most every issue--financial, health care, military--which by now is old hat. Why? Because these idiots put him in office fueled by his bloated promises of Hope and Change. Instead it's more of the same; continuations of Bush policies, 'bipartisanship' that bows to Republicans, increased corporate entanglement, etc. Feeling gassy, folks?

Apparently banks can't get too big and their CEOs can't do something so horrible that the board won't return their bonuses, perhaps plus a little extra on the side.

But no matter. That the upper echelon of American business terrorizes the poor regularly is no biggie, because Obama is taking care of the true, dastardly terrorists: Anwar Al Aulaqi, for instance, an American-born religious guy, was a "potentially significant" acquaintance of the 9/11 terrorists, so Obama ordered his execution. Ya know, without legal proceedings or anything. According to p221 of the 9/11 Commission report:

Another potentially significant San Diego contact for Hazmi and Mihdhar was Anwar Aulaqi, an imam at the Rabat mosque. Born in New Mexico and thus a U.S. citizen, Aulaqi grew up in Yemen and studied in the United States on a Yemeni government scholarship. We do not know how or when Hazmi and Mihdhar first met Aulaqi. The operatives may even have met or at least talked to him the same day they first moved to San Diego. Hazmi and Mihdar reportedly respected Aulaqi as a religious figure and developed a close relationship with him.

No question the guy is sketchy, but that is not the relevant question. The question is why the Chief would publicize an order that so violently violates fundamental American rights, an order not even Bush made during his time in office. Or at least Bush wasn't foolish enough to leak it publically.

Obama couldn't give the guy five minutes in court or some legal representation, but he will give some dumb panel, once it is assembled, six MONTHS to debate what should be done about the oil disaster currently, and ceaselessly, spreading down around the Gulf of Mexico? This is not really so surprising from a president taking a vacation on Memorial Day. Where are the trendy go-greeners and outraged environmentalists?


Maybe they are too worried about finding a job and paying for school to shout about environmental issues. But first of all, no level of school acclaim is worth amassing such intense debt--especially not in this job market. Second of all, this is the bitter callousness of class of 2009 who graduated into worse employment conditions speaking: bite me! And third of all, I love this lady and direct you her way for an explanation of our structural unemployment. You might like to be sure you aren't in fact crazy to think it absurd that Obama and his buds intend to raise taxes and focus on lowering the deficit. Aye, focus on the intangible number and ignore the individuals who comprise our nation's double digit unemployment rate! Aye! --Well, at least NYC's unemployment rate recently dipped below the national level. But does that help you?


my heart's been breaking but backwards or in slow motion or in retrospect. I often feel tranquilized or am I slumbering. Either way this is desolation and tomorrow is happening like yesterday-- economies of scale, repeatedly returning to sustained absurdity chaos conflict. We are creatures of conflict.

I believe in freedom of expression, creative destruction, willful agitation.

We are waves, moved by currents, particlized mixing sunshiny storm air, circulate fold backwards and into the desolation. Sine wave ultimately leveled; time ceaselessly stomping across space an interwoven tapestry of talk touches and moments unfelt but past.

Empty bars protect us. Munch on breakfast sandwich. Converse on the round. Enter donations ohm-exhale structured stupidity as peace lily filters the noise. Tomorow turned back.. folded into desolation-- memory ricochet games resume their volume and velocity in plastic skull space. & Time. & how.

Familiarity breeds solemn discomfort. I sleep and wonder what to cook. Tree branches and grass blades are not speaking, but wind says something at the screen: desolation. Dipping into driveway cracks brushes the getaway car I am afraid to have and at the world edge let's jump. The acceleration of gravity is 9.8 meters per second squared.

Memoryhouse – Sleep Patterns from Jamie Harley on Vimeo.

How prone to error

Perfection is misperception. Please discuss.

Shitty swim coach saga: part deux

Moorestown swim team still sinking

The politics of small towns strike me as absurd. Ultimately insignificant individuals lord their coincidentally gained influence over weakest community members. Controversy is dealt with passively, brushed under tables. Implications seem slight, although they build like layers of scum.

Speaking of scum, Jeffrey DeNick has built up a bad rep amongst Moorestown swim team parents in the past few weeks. The guy obviously had no idea what he was getting himself into when he signed on as swim coach: this is the town where a girl sued for sole Valedictorianship a few yrs ago. Couples move to Moorestown to join Home&School, to have their kids' names in the papers, to give their offspring access to AP courses, to own big houses, boast top school rankings, and (if for nothing else) to enable excellence and opportunity for their darling babies. A Moorestown coach position is not the place to slack off.

Unsurprisingly, the grape vine has it that swimmers at Shawnee, DeNick's former post, hated him too. A handful of strong swimmers carried him to an underserved Coach of the Yr award, after which the school subtlely implemented a new rule that coaches also had to be teachers. This meant DeNick was out, although Shawnee had renewed DeNick's contract every yr prior and could have conceivably just denied him renewal this time. Instead, for some unknown reason, the school essentially said, You can't coach here anymore; feel free to go cause someone else problems.

This might seem reasonable had the reason been personality conflict with someone and not that DeNick (a) has no competitive swimming experience (b) curses out, belittles, and harasses high school swimmers (c) pressures individuals he deems unlikeable to quit and (d) talks shit when he can't even manage to put together a good meet sheet. But those are some of the complaints against DeNick. He is, in fact, a douchebag. A douchebag, mind you, who was hired to improve the Moorestown swim team's performance but ultimately trampled on its spirit and lost against Rancocas Valley, twice. Yet his award and Shawnee's record were what justified hiring DeNick. Funny.

What is also funny, mildly disgusting too, is that DeNick recently applied to be a summer swim coach at Pheasant Run and at Sunnybrook. As the grape vine goes, DeNick said in his interview that he wanted a tan, some extra cash, and, oh, to avoid babysitting his daughters over the summer. Doubt the veracity of this allegation? Maybe you shouldn't.

Why this asshole ever got into education and dealing with kids is beyond me. Hopefully students at Delran never need his guidance; he'd probably tell them how much they suck and hand them an outdated photocopy on abstinence. (lords know someone should have given him one, for the sake of his poor kids) But hopefully the athletics director, who trust me has heard from pissed off parents, will ditch DeNick come the next season.

I've heard about this swim team disaster all season, which will culminate tonight with a surely less than proud banquet. It all makes me wonder why so many people, with little concern for the development of students and responsibility to them, teach or give out tenure to terrible teachers or coach swim teams.

Remote living ain’t livin’

"Migrant Mother" by Lange

Sometimes reading becomes no better than watching movies or even television. At some pt, an index finger pushes page #-whatever and that threshold collides with the present-- despair settles like a fog. As invisibly as hours have gone to ghosts, words and assumptions have spun ductilely into ideas and information without tangible effect.

Not much in terms of living. What living seems to require of us is a sustainable interaction between self and society. Sure, Salinger died after all those days sneering behind the blinds at worshipping losers; that was his sustainable lifestyle. But most don't have his words or brain chemicals or ideas. And who's to say he really lived? didn't just angst/dream after that energy?

My pt being that maybe pragmatically people have missed something. Something that's not so simple and stupid as Fight Club claims. Something that has less to do with gross materialism and more with a perverse disconnect. At least, several signs and Matthew B. Crawford seem to pt to this conclusion. Recently I got around to reading Crawford's May 2009 NYtimes article, "The Case for Working With Your Hands." In it he discusses how out of touch society is with its "material reality" and the turns he took to find fulfilling work:

As it happened, in the spring I landed a job as executive director of a policy organization in Washington. This felt like a coup. But certain perversities became apparent as I settled into the job. It sometimes required me to reason backward, from desired conclusion to suitable premise. The organizatin had taken certain postions, and there were some facts it was more fond of than others. As its figurehead, I was making arguments I didn't fully buy myself. Further, my boss seemed intent on retraining me according to a certain cognitive style-- that of the corporate world, from which he had recently come. This style demanded that I proect an image of rationality but not indulge tooo much in atioan rerasoning. As I sat in my K Street office, Fred's life as an independent tradesman gave me an image that I kept coming back to: someone who really knows what he is doing, losing himself in work that is geuinely useful and has a certain integrity to it. He also seemed to be having lots of fun.

Of course, some people enjoy pushing paper and others don't have the right conditions or the balls to do otherwise. But Crawford is onto something about the thinking and structures that have skewed people's relationship with reality.

It is ironic that Americans have become so rich, so poor, and so incompetent, yet they somehow anticipate leading production in an idea/information economy. Simple car repairs and stitch fixes that were common knowledge in the past are about as well known now as the order of all US presidents. (In third grade, I knew one kid who could do this) Meanwhile, public schools continue to sink while they watch charter schools romp through their libraries and hallways.

The problem, for me, is what to do. I began reading about the Great Depression in Conkin's description of the New Deal and in a biography of Dorothea Lange, but this still left me stuck in my head with words. In an endeavor to make contact with reality, I asked people to participate in my fractal poetry project. (So far, just a few results, but sweet nothings nonetheless) And finally I've realized that Lange didn't imagine some people, press a button, and have photographs of the Great Depression. Her actions were greater and more transitive than that, thus her life was more fulfilling.

Maybe I will never make a living out of a trade, we shall see, but in the meantime I've recovered my crayons n started using coloring books again. New acquaintances. Readings about hunger in anticipation of work at a food bank (starting in April) and incipient contact with living writers in the economics world. Hamstrings are aching hungrily after floor exercises, which I have picked up again to promote action over a sedentary state of mind. Besides, senior citizens who are life-long exercisers are younger at the cellular level than their inactive peers. Shortly, I want to start cross stitching or soldering again too. Why do we only emphasize projects and occupational therapy for children and patients? What activities do you enjoy?

Radio worth listening to?!

Mornings have been grey and meta lately. I half-choose to sleep through them usually, except Tuesdays. On Tuesdays, I procrastinate the inevitable and avoid all but strictly minimum hygiene requirements: adorn clothes, brush teeth, insert contacts, pee. Little more than a week ago, I went about these in reverse. Until the oddly heavy plomp.

And so it was that my cellular device, folded over the top of cotton, blue ski men-covered pj pants at the small of my back just prior, took a dive into the toilet. While inconvenient in general, this loss meant resorting to an actual alarm clock that Tuesday morning. Instead of the digital harshness of "Lazy Lover" by Brazilian Girls or the rough rumble of vibration, something like Bach glided from the radio. How enchanting, but what was it?

Only a school station, of course, would play the unpopular antics of dead classical musicians and creative cats from across the jazz genre. Thank you, academia, for preserving public access to sounds that deviate from the mean--a crude hiphop cacophony of ill-used bass injected with anesthesia to numb ear drums into bored submission.

Later that day, wrastled with seek buttons--back foward back FORward BACK forw--til they ceded to 103.3 WPRB, the Princeton-based, non-prof, student-run station. (No wonder the host earlier that morning had been monotone & awkward; she was probably a nineteen yr old Ivy nerd with no idea which eating club to join) Hotrod Scott & the Professor--gruff, arid old man voices--were just starting the Roots Rockabilly Roadhouse show with the Buzzards and lotsa names I do not recognize.

Check out this list, cos from what I can gauge the kids at Hogwarts just might dish up some decent sounds. Today, I think I heard a Deerhoof song! And, sure, the nerds are unsurprisingly into Arcade Fire, but at least WPRB's "least" isn't the same formulaic rigormarole most stations jerk off to in this area. At least, it doesn't seem to be. I'm hoping to catch this guy on Sunday to wrap up a blase birthday weekend.

Meanwhile, we have a yr of satellite radio free for whatever reason, and I happily found someone bot playing Billie Holiday and all the cozy, b&w tunes my grandparents grew up with. So maybe radio isn't utterly fucked, not just yet.