Throw MAGA from the Train

The Doors sang about how people were strange. Well, if they did that now they would sing about people being stupid. These days, people are being just that. it soent matter what political affiliation they are or where they went to school or what they eat for breakfast, people today are just nuts.

Every day I get up and do my part, only to encounter a bunch of useless imbeciles who don’t do theirs. I might add they also have rubbish taste in films and music. it is all so maddening. Why have people suddenly reverted to pre-COVID 2019? It is like they forgot every lesson they learned and went back to doing everything they could be selfish consumerists again. It amazes me how many people are meandering around aimlessly like there was never a pandemic. I know folks are excited to get back out into the world, but in their excitement to do so they have become nuts.

Another thing is that it’s like there was no reset button. People learned nothing and adapted their post-pandemic behavior in no way at all. They still are rude, talk during movies, cut lines, and drive like imbeciles. They also care nothing about the environment. It’s like they’re feral.

A few weeks ago I took Amtrak to Chicago. It was so much of a change of pace from the insanity of flying right now. The train was clean and the seats were comfortable. Although it takes a lot longer to get there by train from St. Louis, it was nice to not rush and get some serious reading done and listen to music.

Unfortunately, there was a wild pack of assclowns in my car. They were older and going up to Chicago for a weekend. They were excited to smoke cigars, buy very, very pricy whiskey and pick up chicks in clubs. They were annoying! I didn’t have the heart to tell them. that were not going to pick up any “chicks” because they (a) were morons, and (b) no one is going to the disco right now.

But the biggest thing that got on my damn nerves is that they just wouldn’t wear a mask. A few of them half-assed it and wore it under the nose. However, one guy, a painfully tan Kenny Rogers guy, didn’t wear his on the entire trip. I spoke to the conductor about it after he sneezed a few times. But I got nowhere. Finally, I added a third mask and went on with my business pausing every few minutes to process the stupidity coming from his mouth.

It was a full train so I couldn’t move seats. But if I did I would have missed out on stimulating conversation from the Kenny Rogers guy. He would not stop commenting about the black fencing behind the train stations at every stop, saying “I bet the governor’s brother got that contract.” The repetition was friggin’ irritating. Clearly, this is someone who needs attention and has no sense of imagination. Other topics of conversation were Kid Rock, how big courthouses were, gambling, checking into the hotel early, hoping they wouldn’t get shot in Chicago, copy machines, and how nice it was to get away for a party weekend. Yuck.

Coming home was much better. The conductor on the train was snot screwing around you got two warnings about makes and then your ass got thrown off the train. It didn’t matter where. Our car was full but everyone seemed to be quiet and minding their own business. The best part is that they didn’t talk so loudly that everyone knew their business.

It was a quiet evening trip home until we reached Springfield, Illinois. There some moron pulled the emergency switch because he was upset he had t wear a mask. The train crew was apologetic. When this happens there’s a bunch of protocols that are in place they have to follow. It slows everything down. Luckily, they managed to get everything done quickly and threw the culprit off the train.

Despite all of this, I still would take a train now. It is comfortable and you can relax. I would however go, business class, since you don’t (normally) get all the dumbasses that ride in coach, and each seat has outlets for computers, phones, etc.

I had not been in Chicago for over two years. It was weird coming off the train and going into a deserted downtown at 12:30 on a Friday afternoon. Oddly, it was like this for the entire weekend the city was pretty empty. I went to Quimby’s and Myopic Books. Both are terrific, inexpensive, and independently owned. Quimby’s sells zines and a lot of cool indie books you cannot get anywhere else. Myopic has loads of really interesting stuff. Their music and film sections are very strong.

Overall, stores, museums, and businesses were closing early which was kind of weird for a city that is normally so busy. The weather was great so a lot of people were dining outside and walking around Millenium Park. People were wearing masks and being civil except there was not a lot of social distancing happening. I know we are supposed to be ‘coming out of all of this, but I am being careful and vigilant because there are so many morons out there.

One of the biggest things I’ve noticed about Chicago over the years is how the West Loop has gone bonkers. I used to go there for underground parties and concerts, It reminds me of Chelsea in New York now in that the gentrification has just gotten ridiculous and eliminated a lot of the character of the region.

While I still love the more Bohemian eats in Pilsen, I did have. a nice meal at Cabra. I wanted to go to a nice place fr my birthday weekend and this place did not disappoint. Their empanadas and ceviches. were great.

In addition to seeing some old friends in real life, it was great to get back to the Art Institute. In addition to seeing all my favorite works, I got to get a gander at the new Tiffany window that this pretty cool. It came from a church in Pennsylvania and was restored. it looks amazing.

I loved the André Kertész exhibition.

Although the exhibition is pretty small, there’s a lot of really wonderful stuff here. His postcards from Paris give you an idea of what the City of Light was like in the 1920s.

The weather was unseasonably warm which made it great for doing stuff outside. This is good since I was careful about where I was going with the pandemic going on. I did dine outside and wore masks whenever I was inside or around a lot of people.

It is interesting how seriously everyone there is taking mandates. The businesses are drawing in people despite the mandate and restaurants have mostly pivoted to this new world. It is a far cry from here where people bitch and moan about everything.

Every time I go there I find something new and unexpected. That is one of the reasons why I keep going there, even if a lot of the places I love have gone away.

Here are some other things that have bugged me over the last few months…

It has been my experience that people who own large boats, tend to be jerks.’

Law & Order does not need to return.

I have no idea why, but people who own cream-colored patio furniture tend to drive me nuts.

For decades people have bought newspapers, folded them neatly, and carried them under their arms. Now everyone wants them in paper bags. Mother Earth thanks you for doing this you lazy bastards. Newspapers are generally lightweight and foldable. They fit nicely anywhere, so why put them in a bag? Unless sit is raining. Otherwise, it is lazy.

Also, in our age of technological wonder why do people wait around for a receipt when they check out? In some cases, it is like they are waiting for the messiah.

I don’t mean for things that could be returnable or need tracking like a TV, clothes, mail, or groceries, I mean like one candy bar or a can of soda or a pack of smokes. Look in your online banking account. It’s there. why waste paper if you don’t have to?

Yes, I alluded to this earlier, but really, if you have been dying to go back to the movies then shut the hell up during the film. You’ve had 15 months to talk to the person next to you, you can be quiet for two hours.

I still am annoyed by pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes. I understand this makes me even more unpopular.

Candy Corn is just wrong!

People who don’t tip right now are evil and mean.

I have learned that the new season of Top Chef is going to be in Houston. While I have heard the city has an amazing food scene going on, I think they should pull out because of the state’s blatant attempts at voter suppression. I am surprised since Tom and Padma are so in tune with the world.

There’s a lot of music stuff going on. In addition to his recent Nightmare Before Christmas live concert, Danny Elfman has been actively making music! Now soundtrack, but actual noisy music.

While most of us were sitting on our couch during the pandemic Danny Elfman was making music. Not his wonderful cinema compositions, but real, agitated, rock and roll. Arriving 37 years after his debut, So Lo, Big Mess is loud, brazen, and raw.

Much louder and more visceral than his orchestral scores, the album illustrates Elfman’s skill at crafting melodies that mesh styles and forms. The record also is a reminder of Elfman’s terrific songwriting abilities, dusted off here, they have not gone stale.

Amongst my favorites are Sorry, Happy, Love in the Time of Covid, and True. Dark and brooding, We Belong is the perfect mix of the elegiac and the sorrowful.

Wet Leg are from the Isle of Wight. They have a few singles out and an album dropping soon on Domino. They also have some American live dates coming up.

Sonically, they have a terrific sense of melody and their lyrics are gloriously fun. They are going to be huge.

One of the things I did during the pandemic was read a bunch and learn more about the artists I had an interest in but not much knowledge of. I have always liked what I have seen from James Ensor but had not known very much about him. I saw an exhibition of his work at the Art Institute of Chicago a few years ago and ever since then, I wanted to dig deeper.

There was a cool book of his work at a local used bookstore and I picked it up. It was pretty interesting. As a side note, there is a They Might Be Giants song about him too.

His artwork uses distorted forms and features lots of masks and people hiding their true visages. He also has a lot of symbolic imagery going on which is pretty interesting.

As an artist and printmaker, he was a pretty big influence on the Dada movement as well as Expressionists and surrealists. He was pretty dark. His work has a macabre feel to it that celebrates the grotesque, while also satirizing upper-crust privilege. Artistically, lot going on in his noggin.

It was great seeing Dune on the big screen. It looks amazing. The acting was great and the cinematography is gorgeous.

I wrote about it for needcoffee.com!

Anytime you adapt a book it can be problematic. People have their imagery in their minds and trespassing on that will never live up to their concepts or imagination. However here, I don’t have any issue with how characters were depicted. The world building is awesome, and the costumes and effects are great.

I saw Filibus, a 1915 Italian silent film directed by Mario Roncoroni and written by science fiction writer Giovanni Bertinetti.

It has recently been restored, and although it has some glitches in the print, it looks fantastic. Running just over an hour it is formatted as a serial, it is filled with a lot of fun action and swashbuckling antics.

Shot on location in the Italian Riviera, Filibus is about a cross dressing sky pirate who uses her airship to pull off daring capers. Holding a grudge again the well-to do, her robberies and grandiose and bold.

It screened at Webster University and was sponsored by Silents, Please STL who are doing some really coolstuff around town! This makes me happy since I love silent movies!

As the fall moves into the winter the leaves are falling and the commercial wheels of Christmas have already began spin. A few places already have lights up. Ugh! I also don’t want to see that dumb TV commercial where the guy buys his grilfriend a car as a Christmas gift. Who does that?

All I really want for the autumn is to have a real break between Halloween and Christmas. it seems that now the stores just jump into the yuletide season on November 1st and it is kind of dumb. Call me old fashioned, but I like the break. I want some time to prepare for the holidays, or at least, develop an escape plan.

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So the longish days of April have turned into May. It is May Day, and I cannot help but think of working and how hard most people have it by working underpaying jobs where they have to deal with incredibly annoying people.

Before any of this started I had my doubts on how working people could make ends meet, but now the system has been nearly destroyed and I am not sure what is next.

I do know that I am not keen on going back to the way it was unless there are some real opportunities. I am fine with making the trade off of working with people I like and taking less pay for personal happiness. I mean happiness is way better in the long run. But, that pay must be fair and at least remain sustainable.

However, now the arduous task of sniffing around and networking is afoot. Like Sherlock Holmes solving a mystery, I am sniffing out my next gig and hustling to solve thing sand sort it all out.

I am working a bit at my job and still applying for other things which has been nice. I know this much, I am done with having to deal with large groups of people if at all possible.

I love how St. Louis has come together to help small businesses whenever possible. There is a nifty new farmer’s market that has popped up down the street. They have pretty much everything and it is affordable. I am avoiding the grocery store if I can and making do with ordering from local stores when I can. The international grocery store down the street is still open so if I need anything in a pinch there is that.

One nice thing about our city is that it, for the most part, has decent citizens who actually respect other people. As a result, this thing has seen folks come together and help others. Whether it is making masks, checking in on folks, shopping local or supporting the local arts. It is nice to not be divisive.

A lot the museums and arts organizations are working to provide some interesting content right now. I think just getting their name out in the public consciousness really helps a lot.

In appliance news, the food processor is kaput. There’s still some scratch left on the Target gift card so I guess shopping could sort there. But I would rather buy local.

Everything I was looking forward to has been canceled. I was supposed to be in Chicago this week. I miss Chicago. I have a monthly planner but it is pretty useless at this point. Unless I write in ‘stay at home’ each day. I am trying to watch some theater stuff that is being offered and a few concerts etc… So I could put that all in there but it seems pointless since I find I am not looking at it much.

I am taking a few online classes and that has surprisingly eaten into a lot of my time. Yale has a happiness class that apparently is all the rage and the most popular one offered on campus. I am taking a free version of it and it has been interesting. Part Psychology, part mindfulness and part ‘get your shit together,’ The Science of Well Being has been a good way to declutter mentally and sort of assess where things are it.

I also am taking two classes through MoMA in New York. One is Modern Art & Ideas and the other is Seeing Through Photographs. I just started the former this week and the latter about two weeks ago. They both have been pretty great. As someone who likes art and often has to write doubt it for various outlets, it has bene informative. I had a so so art history teacher in college so this has been great. I have always liked photography and am enjoying learning a lot more about it.

I did an online lecture last night for their current exhibition, Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures.

You can take the virtual tour of the exhibition and see some interactive content on the MoMA website. I have always loved her work and it was really cool getting some context about it.

The next class I start isThe Modern World, Part One: Global History from 1760 to 1910. It is through Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. I have studied a lot of this before in school but I wanted a deep dive.

These are all mostly 5-6 weeks long so after this I can move on to some other stuff. I also have been studying up on analytics, marketing trends and doing as much writing as I can.

I have also been watching some movies, I saw Tokyo Joe early this morning.

It is a Humphrey Bogart flick from 1949 and finds him in postwar Tokyo. It is not as good as some of his other stuff but I had not seen it before.

I also am watching. SXSW films on Amazon. some are shorts, some are docs and feature lengths. I enjoyed My Darling Vivian, a documentary about Johnny Cash’s first wife Vivian Liberto. It was really interesting.

I also started watching Schitt’s Creek which has been fun. Dead To me is starting next week and I am looking forward to that. I am behind in watching a lot of stuff I wanted to see, but it is not like I am going out dancing anytime soon or anything.

The worst thing is trying to sort out sleep. it has been frustrating.

I did interview Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s about her new book, All I Ever Wanted. It is a very interesting read.

I still have a stack of magazines and books to get to so next time I may have more interesting things to write about.

I have been listening to a lot of music. I have made an effort to listen to the new albums by Fiona Apple and Hazel English. There also is Alphabetland, the new record from X. It is loud and fun! I also like this band called Catholic Action. They are from Glasgow and really have good melodies.

The Magnetic Fields have a new album coming out called Quickies. That should be fun too.

RIP to the great Tony Allen. His latest album, Rejoice is amazing. He was an amazing drummer and will be missed. This album is fantastic.

Well that is it for now. sorry for the delay. Stay inside. Please stay inside.

Thank God it’s Friday!

That sentence now has been rendered useless.

I know one thing, I am mildly happy about is that with all of this stuff going on there are no more stupid happy hours. All they really did was make people run around from place to place to get deals on terrible food or drinks they couldn’t really enjoy because it was still early in the evening.

Then there’s the social aspect. I am always awkward at happy hours. Even the networking one where I am getting to meet people that are actually interesting.

I’m not sure what the issues are but maybe it stems from the forced short term interactions of Catholic school. Maybe it is the fact that they are so short they never let you be comfortable.

Either way, happy hours suck. I think Dante would find TFI Friday’s happy hour to be a purgatory of epic proportions.

I took a walk yesterday. It was nice to have the Sun out and feel its warmth. I stopped to look at some budding limbs on a few trees and enjoyed seeing some flowers. St. Louis is a pretty green city in many ways and lots of neighborhoods have communal gardens and folks who plant their own gardens. Pretty cool. All of this is making me think about being that guy, who has a garden. you know, the weird older guy with all the plants that goes on about nothing all the time.

I think Agatha Christie had some cool characters that were gardeners. I know Sad Cypress and Peril at End House had some. She also liked poison plants from what I recall. That last title sounds like an indie band name.

I think it is interesting that she is one of those 20th century writers who has a legacy that doesn’t involve getting drunk in Paris. Although she was missing for a bit. probably aliens.

So all of you folks who wanted the Roaring ’20s back. Thanks! Speaking of which this is my next book.

I think it will be interesting. Burns usually writes very short, concise books and this one should be fun since I know a lot about the decade in general but not that specific year.

After that I am throwing myself into Peter Ackroyd’s history of England books and with a chaser of lots of Neil Gaiman fiction.

I have a Minneapolis excursion planned for September that is now unlikely to happen. Because of that I was gonna re read a bunch of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was hoping to see his house. He probably wouldn’t be home anyway. If Gatsby were around today I’d punch him in the face.

I think the girl upstairs put her wooden shoes on before she does any household activities. How can one person make so much noise walking across an apartment. She said she had no furniture and didn’t go out. this brings me to a big pet peeve. Every time she uses her cell phone I can hear it. It is always on speaker and she always talks doubt the vacuous jibber jabber that kids today in their mid 20s go on about. She is not deaf. She seems alert and responsive. is she just too lazy to use a phone the proper way? Then there is the rolling cast of cretins she is not properly socially distancing herself with. I have bene using the back door to come in and out so I don’t have to risk the germs. Except to get the mail.

I really miss the English and Japanese gardens at the Missouri Botanical Garden. MOBOT is cool. I bet the critters at the St. Louis zoo and thrilled to not have people gawking at them all day.

I have few things I want to get to on the telly. There is Decades, the New Order concert film and Is There Something I Should Know? the hour long doc about Duran Duran. I never really dug Duran Duran when I was young. I have learned to like the first few albums now.

Beyond that Nada Surf has a new album out. Never Not Together is their 9th album. It offers a nice collection of power pop songs.

I have always been hit or miss on them. This one isn’t too shabby. There’s a nice cohesion of melody going on here that is pretty great.

This is one of the movies waiting on deck. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold is a spy flick from 1965 based on the best selling book. Richard Burton is pretty good in it.

I love John le Carré and this is a really solid interpretation of his work.

I mopped again last night. Good times.

Ok, I have to work on freelance stuff now.