I was working concessions at a show last night, where I met a pleasant fellow who turned out to originally be from Brazil. He was an older gent, with a bad back, and walked with a cane. We talked about fire codes, culture shock, and learning foreign languages in school. Presently, another fellow came by to see us in the back, where I was stationed with the baked goods.

I waved at him. "This is my husband," said the brasileiro.

This passes entirely without comment in my circles. I don't comment either, but I remember living in a place where that would have been less an introduction than an open rebellion against society. I remember being in college, and meeting people who told me they were gay before they told me what their names were, because it was the best way to find out right off the bat who was going to freak out on them, so they could find someone else to talk to.

I shook hands with his husband, and wondered if that was how he wound up here in the States.

I wonder about people a lot. Probably too much.

Brian Molko quit watching the news a couple years ago, apparently. (Interview here.) I did that for a while; I kept getting tsked at by people who thought I was adulting wrong. And apparently people keep doing to him the same thing they kept doing to me, which is insisting he has to hear about things that make him sad no matter how diligently he avoids actually reading the damn newspaper.

Years later, I am still ticked at the pilot who felt the need to announce the official start of the Second Iraq War over the cabin speaker while we were five miles above the Rockies, and I couldn't get away from it.

I used to be a news junkie, twenty years ago. As a teenager, I fell asleep nightly with CNN Headline running on the TV. I couldn't name most of the anchors, then or now -- the only one I could ever pick out of a lineup was Christiane Amanpour, whom I only noticed because she had an accent I'd never heard before. (Persian, via Britain.) Anderson Cooper was after my time.

CNN Headline was still a 24-hour non-stop drone of terrible things, but back then, the stories were on a thirty minute loop. The talking heads never had a chance to sit there and gnaw on anything for hours at a time. There wasn't room for speculating on the kind of speculations that one might speculate on, speculatively, which is what you get when you have a three-hour op-ed show to do about a story on which you have three, maybe four sentences of information, two of which have been Google Translated.

I was in high school and in no position to know or care about what kind of bias might be behind what CNN chose to report on, but at least the headlines were short and sounded like they might have had facts in them. Nobody flagged which bits you were supposed to be frightened or angered by. They assumed you were a grown-up and could figure that out for yourself. They definitely did not work themselves into a lather and demand validation of their upset feelings by telling the viewer that they should be frightened or angry, and if they weren't they were clearly an awful person.

Man's inhumanity to man is a terrible thing. But at least when you hear about it from people who are sincerely trying to pretend they are an impartial news-gathering organization, part of the charade is that you allow me to decide that I'm going to sleep now and give a shit later, like at 2 pm the next day, or after the turn of the century.

There is nobody left on the air who is even good at lying about this. Al Jazeera America was my backup after CNN became largely crap, and it shuttered a few months ago. BBC World News was once reliable, but considering what's going on over there now, I don't even know anymore.

Jon Stewart took the desk at the Late Show last week to deliver a good old-fashioned Daily Show-style rant about media hypocrisy and who "owns" this country. I kind of missed people making any sense on the teevee.

I was evidently not the only one who thought Colbert really needed a hug after four days of the Republican National Convention. He didn't even make it all the way out from under the desk. (Colbert was under his own desk because... just watch it. His personal motto really should be sequitur in context.) Muffled his mic for a second. The clip cuts it off, but in the full episode, the camera pullback to commercial, when they both managed to get to their feet, was more of the same.

I don't blame them. That was rough. Colbert had clearly had a few drinks during "Trump Or False?" out in the field and it didn't help at all. He started Friday's highlight show back in NYC by sitting down in one of the squishy guest chairs and deep-throating a beer. I'm sure he cleared that with the placement people first, but I'm also about 50% sure he would have just done it with an unlabeled bottle if Budweiser hadn't cooperated.

(I will point out, just for the sake of completeness, that Colbert has endearingly terrible taste in beer. He did it a few times on the Report, and over there he was drinking Bud Lite Lime. I sometimes entertain myself by imagining what John Oliver might have had to say about it, when they worked together.)

I haven't watched any of the DNC coverage yet. I'm told it's less terrifying than the RNC, but I may just decide to adult wrong for a while longer.

I don't think I own enough drugs to get me through until November.

People love to tell you that drugs and alcohol are not a solution to anything. This is nonsense. They are just the solution to a very specific problem: You use them when you need a short amount of time, with a definite end point, to pass without you really having to live through it. If you're freaking out over the results of an exam you took on Friday afternoon, and you're staring down the barrel of an empty weekend before the grades are released on Monday, go ahead and mix a few screwdrivers. You have already done everything you're capable of doing about the situation, and sitting around chewing your nails off is of no use to anyone, and detrimental to your own well-being. It will resolve itself one way or another on Monday.

You don't have to drink there, mind. You can go camping or play racquetball or compose a symphony or have an orgy or whatever. But alcohol does work pretty well, if you keep your head and don't do that too often.

Unfortunately, no matter how much I drink, Trump will still be running for President. I can't stay potted until Election Day. I have to get up and do things. I'm already a registered Democrat who has every intention of going out and voting for fucking anyone who is not Donald Trump. There are Trump supporters in Boston, but they're treated as isolated cases of psychosis. The last time one of them made himself known on the T, people went out of their way to avoid sitting near him, and a couple of college guys got off and changed trains at Copley to get away.

I don't think there's anything I can do where I am. There isn't anything to be done. There is no one to campaign to here who isn't either already convinced, or unconvinceable. But people just won't stop shouting about it everywhere, and I am running out of places to hide.

I've just read a book about addiction and working with addicts. It's not the absolute most punchable thing I've ever read, but right now it feels like it's close. The author makes much of how he has addictions of his own -- shopping, music, TV, he names a lot of incredibly bougie things -- and he can't possibly consider himself all that different from the drug addicts he works with. But clearly he does: He understands how addiction works. He can tell you exactly why he keeps buying all those albums, you see. He has a plan for working his way out of it. He'll tell you all about it, for about four hundred pages, less the chunks that contain legitimate medical science.

Those chunks are not as big as I'd have liked. I was hoping for case studies.

The book is full of what currently passes for compassion. Lots of explanation about formative experiences in utero and during childhood that make the brain work the way it does. Epigenetics. Reassuring addicts everywhere that it is imperative that everyone understand it's not their fault they're so broken that drugs look like a good idea. But that just shifts the moralizing one step down in the sequence.

We're not blaming you for being defective, but you're the only one that can fix yourself. You're responsible for repairing the damage that you didn't cause. It's not your fault if you started out busted, but it's all your fault if you stay that way. It's your obligation to throw away something that at least kind of works, to abandon all your relief, to run yourself into the ground, if that's what it takes to have a "normal" life.

Getting mad at this, of course, is proof of your dysfunction: Addicts react with anger when you try to take away their addiction. It's like watching conspiracy theorists realize there's no evidence supporting their mad ideas, and then deciding the lacunae are clear evidence of a cover-up. Someone who's actually in pain will get pissed at you when you try to take away their painkillers, too.

He mentions only one instance of illicit drug use sparked by a problem for which formal medicine has nothing to offer. A woman with terminal liver cancer takes to using her PICC line to more conveniently inject her heroin. The mention is kind -- heroin, he notes, is as much an analgesic as morphine -- and he has nothing disapproving to say about her using it to stay comfortable in her last few weeks. But apparently you have to be literally, physically, on the brink of death before you get that kind of understanding.

The author starts quoting Jesus near the end. I hate it when people do that. One, they've generally got something wrong, either in context or in actual content. And two, they quote Jesus as an appeal to authority. In their minds, he is always the last word. Once I know Jesus said it, I can't possibly not understand how it's absolutely, incontrovertibly correct. If I keep arguing, I'm just doing it to be rebellious.

Colbert is just about the only media figure I know who can pull that off without making me twitch. He does it to explain himself. The opinion is his, it's just been heavily advised by Our Lord and Saviour. I can respect that a lot more. It means he thought it over.

The book was neither a good, nor a comforting, read. I miss Oliver Sacks.

You can guess a lot about what someone thinks is important by listening to what they choose to say when they choose to not say much.

Molko can be got to talk about David Bowie a bit, now that Bowie is no longer in a position where anyone can disturb his quiet reading time. It still amazes me that, in an industry that runs on gossip and media presence, so many people liked Bowie so very much that they never talked about him. Molko always gave the blandest, most professionally quotable answers when pestered about their friendship, often word for word. It was distinctly out of character for a guy who was once asked what he learned from having to fire a drummer, and came back with, "Well, I learned how much lawyers cost."

He still says very little, but he says it like it means something.

"He always had time for me," is the phrase Molko keeps using. He's said it in a couple of interviews now, and it was in a brief eulogy that went up online when he heard the news. The memory of Bowie having time for him is what echoes the loudest in the empty space left behind. It tells me that, when they first met, most people didn't.

I've gotten to the point where watching other people be nice to each other is making me cry. I'm even having a hard time reading science. A lot of science is done on rats. I have to keep getting up to pet mine, just to remind myself they're fine.


  1. There's an author I've read who I find much more sensible and sensitive about addiction, Stanton Peele. If you can't find him at the library, I'll chuck Kindle money your way.

    1. BPL has a lot of his books, but the ones that are readily available seem to be the "ten easy steps to fixing your additions!!11!!1one!1" kind. The titles do not look promising, to be frank. I'll take your word for it that he's more sensible and less Oprah that he looks, but do you have a specific recommendation?


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