Jeff Drones for Dildos Bezos . . . The TakeOver . . . The End Times . . . Useless Collective Consumerism . . . The Empire is Daft and Dangerous!
Oh, hell, I’ve been challenged to write some positive stuff on the DV blog, like, what, five straight blogs in a row that are all hopeful, positive, about the real heroes and heroines and hard-working people who never get their day in the limelight, day in court, or 15 petrabytes of fame.
Seems like a good thing, really. Can you imagine the world of mass suicide media, the world of massively stupid corporate (oh, but so sly, so sly) decisions, the massively deluded society of running scared and running away from truth culture, the massively prone bodies and minds of the Anthropocene Retailopithecus and Consumopithecus species, and this new species, subletting on humanity, hybridized by their own self-importance and Any Randian Art of War flatulence, DigitalMagaByteSapians or what might better be called, iPhonoAmazonianEjaculatus, really, imagine all of them highlighting the better nature of us, the commoners. Imagine.
That challenge around showing glimmers of hope, some underbelly that is beautiful, or something that hasn’t been corrupted, pained, drained or parsed down to nothing but a wing on a prayer, or a prayer on a drone’s tailfin?
I understand, really, the better nature of our souls. I got a lot of better natures, yessirree, and I don’t need no stinkin’ badge from the unholy triumvirate of ignorance, demagoguery and corporate cyborgs. You don’t get pats on your back when you are pugnacious, sli-pstreaming through this carnival of back alley shows, the freak shows that I know I gravitate toward. I get kudos and kicks in the ass all the time. I understand the better nature of children, the hard-luck lives of youth incarcerated by the pestilence of parents drowning in a cycle of abuse, addictions and low functioning everything, or just suffering the pain of really bad parents who need an island in the middle of the Atlantic packed with all those heralded many in politics, on Wall Street, in the Patriot’s Handbook. Handmaids of the Capitalists, and Czars of military-chemicalized-atomized mighty militaries.
Children caught in the sunset,rushing along near the lapping lake, jumping with joy with the few fireflies left hovering over a willow, sand stuck between toes, and watching and mesmerized by holy steelhead zipping along the ripples and sandbars.
Did anyone say bald eagle or a flock of giant blue herons, dogs rushing the red-bark dogwood, and an elderly couple kayaking the Deschutes?
This is a life all wound-up in perspectives, points of view, and, well, always someone out there that has it worse, has it worse, indeed, and, unfortunately, you bloody Social Darwinists, be damned!
Ahh, but, some of us, well, we have that pugnacity of spirit, wanting to rail against the night, the dark forces, the constant drumbeat of the mediocre, mendacity, and the bureaucrats and One Percenters. One in the same, just different hairdressers and haberdashers.
Seriously, I try and inculcate that feeling for some readers to have a laugh, some joy in the flailing man with the Sancho Panza and all those bloody windmills, and the mendacity, the mediocrity, the sheer force of the tsunami of ignorance and exploitation that is gunboat capitalism and the toxicity of the clouds of offal they produce.
Get mad, and jump around with ants in your pants, brothers and sister, because, taking them, the media, the mighty muscled-bound leaders, those diplomats, flaring thrusters of the neoliberal death machine, taking them with a grain of salt is the only way toward the reckoning. We’ll get to the Ayn Rand of the Retailopithecus and DigitalMagaByteSapians or what are now turning into as hybridized and lobotomized, whatiPhonoAmazonianEjaculatus kind, creations of Jeff Bezos . . . . And, yet one of his employees, he was kind enough to reach out with some perspective, and launched into a mini-critique of outsourcing and the blowhard Bezos model. You know, the fulfillment centers – sweat, slave, degrading warehouses, full of re-bar and injected cement to stay on Dante’s forth level of Hades – and all the hijinks of Bezos a la Princeton a la Seattle a la West Lake a la nothingness. The pure weight of his empty gravitas, the putrid soul, his empty ideas, his lack of any cultural or intellectual standing, just another dildo salesperson, ready to deliver it via drone, 30 minutes or under or two free samples. Dominoes Pizza, watch out for Jeff-Boy.
Empires built on junk, on retail, on PT Barnum suckerdom. What a country, what a wasteland of attention spans locked into the flashing of commercial cut-cut-cut and edited to look like 99 percent of Hollywood, the other commercial creating junk/sales/men/women.
Positive two, in a nutshell.
Elizabeth Goudge: “Nothing living should ever be treated with contempt. Whatever it is that lives, a man, a tree, or a bird, should be touched gently, because the time is short. Civilization is another word for respect for life….”
Ettiene De Grellet: “I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
You, know, I will try something here, not necessarily 5 purely positive blogs, but some counterpointing or countervailing riffing. Before ragging on those who truly need to be ragged – You-Name-It-CEO-Little Eichmann Number 9,999,999. Think about it. How many people populate the US of A? Hmm, that’s 350 million. And how many whistle-blowers have there been throughout the past 10 or 20 years? That, my friends, is the out-of-synch nature of this empire, this cult of the celebrity, capital, consumerism, and consumption, as in, intellectual consumption, the kind that the old folks used to call tuberculosis. We’ll get to the positive vibe from the hinterland, someone just picking up on my Amazon Dot Screw The World US Taxpayer Human Creativity Bezos. That in itself is interesting, but the more far- out thing is this person who randomly emailed me – six degrees of separation, maybe, serendipitously — thanking me for a story on DV about Amazon, which one I know not of:
Case Number One – Hope with the Hoops:
Fun times in Arizona, my niece, basketball player for small Catholic school. Senior year. Prior state championships for their division. She’s a good kid, not a jock, and wants to go into medicine, or something around science. Just got recruited to U of Alaska, where her deceased aunt and my deceased sister Robbie was born and where her ashes were spread at the age of 23 when I was 19. Lifetimes ago.
Niece, 18, and the team with two state championships, makes it to the championship, in that blustery, desiccated strange indeed but coming to a state near you Arizona. Well, the assistant coach, youngish, had to fight for her life three years ago, for a double lung transplant. The Guv said no to state coverage of that, and the team had rallies, got the publicity, the News at Six and Ten, and, she got the surgery, and the team made it to the championships and won it for her. Three years later, last week, and she is in need of double lung transplant surgery again, and notwithstanding the huge ethical dilemma there, and, a broken medical and intellectual state we are in, well, the team got to state.
Niece did well, and, then, ‘bam, when down hard right before the half. Ankle broken? Ankle hurt? She is on the sidelines in a wheelchair, but, damn, the perseverance, the audacity of spirit, team dynamics and a young girl who has a heart. She got up and scored some vital points, a three-pointer, too, and, they win the championships. TV media and print media go crazy.
That’s a fun, positive story. One that could be repeated daily. Instead, we get the black eye of commercial crassness, the NBA, NFL, the flogging NCAA men’s gridiron teams. You get the idea – we need a society around the normal folk, not the slithering forked tongues of the marketing gluers, the Hollywood, spectacle people, the money hoarders, the riffraff of the One Percent and the Celebrity Class and those administrators and the like, such as college two-bit presidents and provosts, who think they are class, and celebrity . . . while students flounder, faculty fail, and the system goes belly up with the fat bellies at the table, sucking up more of those Andre Champagne plastic toasts and the Ritz Crackers spread with gruel.
Case Number Two — Happiness with the Hoops:
– Just helping some of my clients at Special Olympics training. Basketball. Young and old folk helping coach basketball for some special people. They are amazing, the helpers-coaches, and the talent, the adults with developmental disabilities. Pure JOY, those layups (sort of laid up) and those double hand dribbles and posts and pivots and swooshes and backboard points. Really, people, how many people are there, out of the Google Glass of the Swartz and Bezos and Gates of the world? Well, here, then, two really positive cases, in my day, cases that happen every day, for fuck’s sake, because if I didn’t have that with all that anger bubbling inside, the injustice, the ludicrous everything about USA today, well, there will be blood to pay, and a country not left for old white men in high office or shuttered in their mahogany boardrooms!
Here, a reach out from afar, but really, just from Seattle!
I just read your article on Amazon. I have been a Warehouse Operations Manager for 30 years and have seen a clear downward trend in the “value” that companies put on lower skilled workers. Although I have worked with some CEO’s that are the exception to this trend, it is pretty close to being the “rule”.
The growing trend the last twenty years is to “outsource non-essential employees”. Those outsourced would include positions in Warehouse, Production, Clerical and Secretarial. The difference in this growing trend is that those workers are still coming to company owned facilities but work for a temp agency or some low wage contract company. One example of this is what has happened to previously living wage jobs at airports all over the country. All ramp employees that used to work directly for airlines now work for contractors that pay a fraction of previous wages.
One of the pioneering companies in this practice was Microsoft in the mid-90’s lead by Bob Herbold as the COO. He outsourced all warehouse, production, shipping and receiving to Pitney Bowes. He also outsourced many secretarial and clerical positions. This was a company that had tens of billions in cash on hand and a healthy margin. This example of cost cutting was duplicated by many corporations- if one of the richest companies in the world can treat lower skilled employees like shit then why can’t all companies follow their example. If you read up on Herbold’s stint at Microsoft the emphasis is on how he increased revenue 4-fold and profits 7-fold. What they don’t emphasize that he shitted on every “lower class” employee in the process. I won’t get into what this did to the culture at Microsoft as far as looking down on lower skilled people in general. My wife manages a restaurant and every server cringes when the techies from Microsoft come in for lunch all still wearing their badges.
The Gates Foundation is doing many good things, charity is a good thing, but treating workers fairly is a better thing. The playbook that was laid down at Microsoft has been duplicated and has affected millions of unskilled and semi-skilled workers worldwide.
Amazon is ripe for unionization. Labor unrest is coming not just in the US but China and elsewhere. Keep up the good work!
Okay, okay, thanks so much Amazonian. Thanks, really, and the invite to hoist a beer or JD if I am ever back in Shitty Seattle, well, I take these things seriously, and no reason why I wouldn’t propose that to my wife and try out an hour or two.
I gave you Case Number Three — Finding Soul here, above, about the better nature of people. At least this WOM (warehouse operations manager) digital amigo is laying it out, giving us the realities of his heart and his wife’s ripped to shreds by the Amazonians. Did I say I protested, ended up at the shareholders meeting, and looked at Bezos in his obsidian eyes and asked him a question or two, and, yuk. Patricia Highstreet me, really:
“Anticipation! It occurred to him that his anticipation was more pleasant to him than the experiencing.”
― Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley
“He remembered deciding then that the world was full of Simon Legrees, and that you had to be an animal, as tough as the gorillas who worked with him at the warehouse, or starve.”
― Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley
Tom Ripley: No matter what you do, no matter how awful, no-one ever thinks that they’re a bad person.
Cate Blanchett as Meredith Logue to Ripley, as Matt Damon —
Meredith Logue: “The truth is if you’ve had money your entire life, even if you despise it, which we do – agreed? – you’re only truly comfortable around other people who have it and despise it.”
Ripley: “I know.”
Meredith Logue: “I’ve never admitted that to anyone.”
Did anyone really think those lines are only tied to spoiled characters in the 195os, in Highstreet’s books? EverY HollYwooD AcTor EverBorne!
So. Back to our WOM, at Amazon. The efficiency of the Bob Herbold’s of the world, the philanthropy of the Billy Budd Gates’ of the world, the lucidity of The Market, the elegance of the Algorithm.
This is America, us, working for the Man, working incognito, or at least our souls are turned inside out, like the steamy bear hide in Galway Kinnell’s The Bear. I will post it below, powerful on so many levels, not any level of which ties into Google Books, Amazon Publishing, the entire mess of Gates flooding the world with his toxins against real education and pushing his FrankenCrops and GMOs on developing countries. Bezos and his drone erection, wanting delivery a la drones in that rat City Seattle? The audacity of this generation, the last one of the Boomer kind, and the last few: Bezos owns the Washington Post? Has the contract for CIA information management at $600 Million? This is the back-bone-less-ness of AMERIKA, the USA Murder Incorporated, vis-à-vis military-economic hitmen-the polluting nature of free markets fed by us, citizens, and the biggest welfare scam since slavery. Not that it is dead, so read up on Kevin Bale’s Disposable People!
Here, some doozies from Bales:
‘Slavery is not a horror safely consigned to the past; it continues to exist throughout the world, even in developed countries like France and the United States. Across the world slaves work and sweat and build and suffer. Slaves in Pakistan may have made the shoes you are wearing and the carpet you stand on. Slaves in the Caribbean may have put sugar in your kitchen and toys in the hands of your children. In India they may have sewn the shirt on your back and polished the ring on your finger. They are paid nothing.’ (3-4)
– ‘Slaves keep your costs low and returns on your investments high. Slavery is a booming business and the number of slaves is increasing. People get rich by using slaves. And when they’ve finished with their slaves, they just throw these people away. This is the new slavery, which focuses on big profits and cheap lives. It is not about owning people in the traditional sense of the old slavery, but about controlling them completely. People become completely disposable tools for making money.’ (4)
– ‘While the developed world bemoans the destruction of the rain forests, few people realize that slave labor is used to destroy them. Men are lured to the region by promises of riches in gold dust, and girls as young as eleven are offered jobs in the offices and restaurants that serve the mines. When they arrive in the remote mining areas, the men are locked up and forced to work in the mines; the girls are beaten, raped, and put to work as prostitutes. Their “recruitment agents” are paid a small amount for each body, perhaps $150. The “recruits” have become slaves – not through legal ownership, but through the final authority of violence. The local police act as enforcers to control the slaves.’ (4-5)
– ‘The brothels are incredibly lucrative. The girl who “cost” $150 can be sold for sex up to ten times a night and bring in $10,000 per month. The only expenses are payments to the police and a pittance for food.’ (5)
– ‘Slavery has not, as most of us have been led to believe, ended. To be sure, the word slavery continues to be used to mean all sorts of things, and all too often it has been applied as an easy metaphor. Having just enough money to get by, receiving wages that barely keep you alive, may be called wage slavery, but it is not slavery. Sharecroppers have a hard life, but they are not slaves. Child labor is terrible, but it is not necessarily slavery. We might think slavery is a matter of ownership, but that depends on what we mean by ownership. In the past, slavery entailed one person legally owning another person, but modern slavery is different. Today slavery is illegal everywhere, and there is no more legal ownership of human beings. When people buy slaves today they don’t ask for a receipt or ownership papers, but they do gain control – and they use violence to maintain this control. Slaveholders have all of the benefits of ownership without the legalities. Indeed, for the slaveholders, not having legal ownership is an improvement because they get total control without any responsibility for what they own. For that reason I tend to use the term slaveholder instead of slave owner.’ (5)
Sure, slaves, all of us, sweating our precarious lives, our precarious jobs, the endless privatization of everything, fearing being sacked, busted, foreclosed upon, and the infinite fees-cost-unending crap of our lives made full force by the monopolists, the hostile One Percenters, who want dominion over all.
See the bear, and the steam and the hard frozen bone, the gut penetration, the tracking of blood in snow, the legacy of the trickster, the hunter, the killer, the man wanting bear, the bear he can never be, and the internalized feast of fear humanity is at its soul when we let profit and pain dominate. When Jeff Bezos gets green lights while his turned-in souls work work work, lips stitched shut, some homily to another rich fellow or hoards of them, as if they are gods, as if they really make our orbit singular and safe.
If the world semen pot and ovary conveyance had never produced a Gates, Ford, Koch, Krock, Bloomberg, Carlos Simms, Soros, every hedge fund slime mold, every single Carnegie, the lot of them, our world would be, what, BETTER OFF, believe me. The lot of them have destroyed!
By Galway Kinnell
In late winter
I sometimes glimpse bits of steam
coming up from
some fault in the old snow
and bend close and see it is lung-colored
and put down my nose
the chilly, enduring odor of bear.
I take a wolf’s rib and whittle
it sharp at both ends
and coil it up
and freeze it in blubber and place it out
on the fairway of the bears.
And when it has vanished
I move out on the bear tracks,
roaming in circles
until I come to the first, tentative, dark
splash on the earth.
And I set out
running, following the splashes
of blood wandering over the world.
At the cut, gashed resting places
I stop and rest,
at the crawl-marks
where he lay out on his belly
to overpass some stretch of bauchy ice
I lie out
dragging myself forward with bear-knives in my fists.
On the third day I begin to starve,
at nightfall I bend down as I knew I would
at a turd sopped in blood,
and hesitate, and pick it up,
and thrust it in my mouth, and gnash it down,
and go on running.
On the seventh day,
living by now on bear blood alone,
I can see his upturned carcass far out ahead, a scraggled,
the heavy fur riffling in the wind.
I come up to him
and stare at the narrow-spaced, petty eyes,
face laid back on the shoulder, the nostrils
perhaps the first taint of me as he
a ravine in his thigh, and eat and drink,
and tear him down his whole length
and open him and climb in
and close him up after me, against the wind,
of lumbering flatfooted
over the tundra,
stabbed twice from within,
splattering a trail behind me,
splattering it out no matter which way I lurch,
no matter which parabola of bear-transcendence,
which dance of solitude I attempt,
which gravity-clutched leap,
which trudge, which groan.
Until one day I totter and fall—
fall on this
stomach that has tried so hard to keep up,
to digest the blood as it leaked in,
to break up
and digest the bone itself: and now the breeze
blows over me, blows off
the hideous belches of ill-digested bear blood
and rotted stomach
and the ordinary, wretched odor of bear,
my sore, lolled tongue a song
or screech, until I think I must rise up
and dance. And I lie still.
I awaken I think. Marshlights
come trailing again up the flyway.
In her ravine under old snow the dam-bear
lumps of smeared fur
and drizzly eyes into shapes
with her tongue. And one
hairy-soled trudge stuck out before me,
the next groaned out,
the rest of my days I spend
was that sticky infusion, that rank flavor of blood, that poetry, by which I lived?
Galway Kinnell, “The Bear” from Three Books. Copyright © 2002 by Galway Kinnell. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.