This morning I heard a tornado compared to the physical equivalent of “the IRS-ghazi-gate.”
The Jew in me wants to insert a “ben” just to let people know that this shit has a father to blame.
This morning I heard a tornado compared to the physical equivalent of “the IRS-ghazi-gate.”
The Jew in me wants to insert a “ben” just to let people know that this shit has a father to blame.
Because it’s Sunday night and there are (and soon will be) so many new faces around here, I feel the need to remind y’all of who I am and why I “matter.” I welcome other authors to do the same. Point being, I’m an urban legend whose improbable tales just happen to be true. It all began one day back in March 2007, when I received email from a student I’d just failed, slightly redacted it, and posted it on the Internet:
I appreciate you taking your inconvenience to instruct us but I really had some problems in your class and I would like to explain them to you now. Every day I wanted to discuss with you about the way you grade my papers and the way you teach the class, but I could not because the things you say in class and your words disturb me so much I can not. You make me completely uncomfortable with the little things you say in the class like how you talk about television or how you talk about when you are grading our papers and trying to be fair. You do not seem to care about our grades only that they are up to your too high standards and I can not talk to you because you make me completely uncomfortable. For example, you say you will talk to us about our grades but you really will not because of how uncomfortable you make me feel with your words and what you say.
I will plan to contest the grade you have given me in this class when I get it because I know it will be much higher with any other teacher. I am a very religious man and you are not a bad person but you do not choose your words with enough care like a teacher should. You try to be objective and the very attempt becomes your flaw because you try so hard to grade fairly and comment wisely that you become biased to your own ideas. You criticize our writings because we are college students and young but do not realize that you offend most of us when you do this. I am always offended when I go to your class and have been on many occasions but I never tell you of my offense because you make me completely uncomfortable so I never say a word.
You like to lead discussions and that is bad because it is the entire means by which we learn but we do not know what you want from us on our papers. I have honestly no idea what I learned from you in this class because so much time was spent discussing the tiny details in the passages in the book and so if I learned anything it is how to read things in too much detail. I could have read books in too much detail on my own but that is not what I came to college to do because I already know how to read and I would have told you this but you make me completely uncomfortable with your words so I never said a word.
By doing this you give us no guidance on our papers. I thought it was lame that you decided to show a movie and a cop out because you chose not to give us any instruction. I know that it was a movie based on the story in the play we read but it was not teaching to show it to us when you could have been teaching us to write what you wanted us to write on our papers instead. The movie was completely racist and very offensive because it contained cultural stereotypes that are often used in disrespectful jokes about people who have their feelings hurt all the time. I was offended by this racism and in the movie and had my feelings hurt by it. If that was supposed to teach me something about the class I completely do not understand.
After this quarter I am hurt and tired and feel like talking to you now will do me no good. I wanted to go to your office hours but I could not find the time or make myself because of your words. I feel like my paper was written to the best of my ability in reference to your teaching skills in the discussions. You grade my papers poorly but do not realize that you do so because they reflect your teaching skills. Other people may have done well with your skills but I did not and would have talked to you but what you said about grading fairly made me uncomfortable. I take my responsibilities as a man and I have never complained about my grades but this one I will because I did not need you to teach me how to read or to write. I have made very high grades in all my other writing classes and even though I had many disputes with those instructors we always settled them to my happiness. Now for the first time I can not talk to you to settle my grades because I am uncomfortable to talk or even write to you. I should have stayed strong and like a man no matter how much your words and what you said offended me. I do not blame you because when there is error there are two to blame, the perceiver and the target. I do not know what this email does but I have to get my feelings off of my chest. Thank you for reading this and I am sorry if what I feel has shown you disrespect but these are my feelings and I feel by your words you did not respect them. I love everyone and believe you to possibly be a great person but with your words you have treated me completely unfairly.
I am a very religious man and I love every one but I will forward this letter to the head of your department so he can see that I am a serious student who does not deserve the grade you will give him because I write so very well.
First: I forgot to note that this turned into some lovely poetry.
Second: Other teacher/student interactions you might enjoy:
Annoyed at Obama’s ability to almost be able govern under great restraint, Republicans have decided to blame him for everything that happens under his watch. “Deranged” liberals blamed the Bush administration when prominent members of it achieved their long stated goals, but that’s different because conservatives agreed with those goals. You can’t blame Bush for what Cheney and Rumsfeld said they’d do in 1997 because that’s “deranged” thinking that they didn’t have anything to do with anyway. It just so happened to accord with their stated wishes.
But blaming Obama for what happened in an IRS office in Ohio? That’s just logical. Because Obama’s not Bush, he knows all and sees all, which is why we’re being treated to this:
Obama’ll do it! Don’t you doubt him! I’m not saying that Republicans are about to ignore everything that happened between 2000 and 2008 and be so cynical as to impeach a Democratic president for some piddly thing after allowing their guy to run roughshod over the Constitution for eight years … but they’ve done this before and they’re this desperate again. If the administration doesn’t get on the offensive Obama might find himself being impeached because his signature on something is unclear and so maybe it was forged by an underling who was ordered by Eric Holder to obey the will of Obama and saw the Eye Biden borrowed and knew he didn’t want to be its next victim.
Because this week we entered into a Zone of Conspiracy the likes of which we haven’t seen since the last time Republicans felt this powerless. I’m not a gambling man, but if I were I’d bet that the next person to die a statistically probable death and have some relation to this administration will become FOX’s next cause célèbre. Because Obama knows all and sees all, especially including anything that can be used against him. So you better be good or …
As Jamelle points out, conservatives are doing everything in their power to create a climate in which impeachment proceedings seem inevitable. They’re not — nor should they be — but if they can create the appearance of a beleaguered and ultimately ineffectual administration, the case for the Republican candidate in 2016 will seem a stronger by comparison. So conservatives threw a Benghazi Day Party that resembled a poorly managed support group: the people who didn’t leave in tears were confused and nothing was decided, not even who’d bring the coffee next time.
Over the weekend, they decided it was time to throw another TEA Party. If you’ll recall, the “TEA” in TEA PARTY stands for “Taxed Enough Already,” and so it should come as no surprise that when groups whose founding principles involved paying as little as their fair share of the tax burden started applying for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status, some scrutiny might be in order. Were these TEA Party organizations “generally civic” and promoting “social welfare,” and anyway, why did they only apply for tax exempt status after January 21, 2010?
These organizations were only able to claim [a more expansive] tax exempt status after the Supreme Court decided Citizens United, which meant that in the following weeks the small IRS office in Cincinnati — a city but a single state removed Obama’s Illinois — that processed tax exempt status was inundated with thousands of applications from previously unheard of organizations. Because it was 2010 and the conservative grassroots machine was preparing for the 2012 elections, it stands to reason that many of these new organizations would have names that bespoke their constituents’ creativity: The Tea Party, The TEA Party, The T.E.A. Party, The Patriot Party, The American Patriot Party, The American Patriot Party of Arizona, The 912 Project, The 9-12 Project, The 9/12 Project, and my personal favorite, The Central Michigan 912 Patriot Tea Party.
Creating special categories to deal with identically conceived, similarly named applicants strikes me less like “using keywords to go after conservatives” and more like using keywords. Citizens United created a bureaucratic nightmare for the IRS because the majority of the people who sought to take advantage of it were like the kid who’d take cardboard, macaroni and glue during art class and make a box of macaroni out of it. When your creative team consists of people who stand before a great works of art and agree upon their re-sale value and you put them under pressure you shouldn’t be surprised when they all come up with slight variations of the same hackneyed concepts.
In other words: the IRS “singled out for additional reviews” groups with “tea” or “patriot” or “912″ in their corporate documents because you don’t have a damn thought in your head that someone else didn’t put there. Your creative failure isn’t the IRS’s fault.
Because it’s Sunday afternoon and there are (and soon will be) so many new faces around here, I feel the need to remind y’all of who I am and why I “matter.” I welcome other authors to do the same. Point being, I’m an urban legend whose improbable tale just happens to be true. It all began one day back in October 2009, as my daily commute hit the hour mark:
After the toll booth, a wall of fog appeared. Traffic crawled, then halted. I idled in the middle lane, flanked on the right by a semi-trailer. We breached the fog at about the same time, but the truck slipped a few car-lengths farther forward. On NPR someone said something about some pressing issue, but I couldn’t pay attention because in my rear-view mirror a luxury sedan was barreling into the fog-bank at a speed I can’t estimate but knew was inadvisable.
I made every effort to become visible despite the fog. I laid into the horn, turned on the hazards, and at the last moment, as I readied for impact, I was seen.
The sedan switched lanes, slammed into the semi, spun some and, irrevocably crushed, fell from the road.
I pulled over, jumped from the car, ran to help, as did someone else, maybe the driver of the semi, but someone from that direction. We reached the sedan at about the same time, him dialing 911, me pointing at the car, us running toward it together to help, but there was no one to help.
What was there, in the car, was beyond help.
I must’ve stumbled, or leaned forward, because the vomit was over my right arm, as if I’d braced myself beforehand. I took off my shirt, looked at the other man, who either puked first or reacted to mine, and we stared, not at each other so much, but still, we stared and I felt that he felt the act was mutual. Was a recognition.
I made my way to my car.
I drove to campus.
Bought a sweatshirt from the bookstore and ran into a friend on the way to class. His “How are you?” loosed a torrent of unprocessed words punctuated by profanity, words that made what happened mean, in the basest sense. I went to class, set the kids to writing, walked out of the class. Called the wife, who talked me into telling them what happened. I did. Said they could peer review what they’d written and I’d let them go.
Then I didn’t. Said instead that I would teach the class, that it was better than the meaningless pacing, the nothing I could do to erase what I’d seen, the nothing I could’ve done to have done something. I fell into the rhythm of the class, lectured more than I usually do, but forgot, for those minutes, what I’d seen, what I’d done but couldn’t do.
Now I’m in the library writing this. Writing helps. It’s the process. It’s what makes the words mean what they mean. I still have another hour and fifteen minutes until my next class, and now that I’ve written this, I’m not sure what to do. I think I might describe a circle around the campus, sate hunger with weary, because food is not a viable option at the moment.
Because it’s Saturday night and there are (and soon will be) so many new faces around here, I feel the need to remind y’all of who I am and why I “matter.” I welcome other authors to do the same. Point being, I’m an urban legend whose improbable tale just happens to be true. It all began one day back in November 2005, when I dropped by my office on the way to a literary journalism staff meeting:
ME: Do do do do WHOA!
HALF-NAKED COUPLE IN MY OFFICE: GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!
HALF-NAKED FEMALE: DON’T YOU KNOCK? (putting shirt back on)
ME: Before I come into my office?
HALF-NAKED MALE: GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! (buttoning pants)
ME: (starting to enjoy this) I have a student coming in two minutes. Finish up.
HALF-NAKED, BLUE-BALLED MALE: GO ALREADY!
ME: (closes door, waits one minute, knocks) Are you decent?
HALF-NAKED MALE: GO THE FUCK AWAY! THIS IS PRIVATE! WE’RE BUSY!
ME: (holding the door half-open) I’m coming in.
HALF-NAKED MALE: STOP HARASSING US YOU PERVERT OR I’LL REPORT YOU!
ME: (still holding door) You’ll report me for your having sex in my office?
HALF-NAKED MALE: GO THE FUCK AWAY!
ME: (still holding door) That’s it. Put your clothes back on. You can’t have sex in my office.
HALF-NAKED MALE: DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE COME IN HERE!
MY STUDENT: (walking up) What’s going on?
ME: (still holding door) Some people are trying to have sex in my office. I keep interrupting them.
MY STUDENT: Are they really having sex in there?
HALF-NAKED MALE: THIS IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT!
ME: (props open door with rubber stop) They’re trying.
This continues for a couple more minutes. He shouts profanity, she starts crying. Two minutes later the couple emerges and I receive nasty looks. Who am I to stop them from having sex in my office?
First, Steven and I apologize for the delay. We encountered some technical difficulties — poor internet connectivity foremost among them — and it took me a few days to edit the random clicks and taps from the audio feed without having us sound like Cybermen. Enjoy!
Benghazi Day clearly didn’t have the impact it “should have,” so why not start throwing the old standards at the wall and seeing if they stick?
The matter-of-fact tone with which this “revelation” is floated is intended to suggest objectivity, but in reality it’s just an invitation for conservatives to Choose Their Own Adventure. I’m not saying it’s an exercise in wish-fulfillment, but the fact that every path leads to Glenn Beck standing boot-to-neck on Obama’s bloodied body is certainly suggestive of something.
SEK pulls his dirty, beaten, decade old Ford Taurus into a toll booth behind PORSCHE GUY from the Republic of FL. SEK’s listening, quite loudly, to the Replacements’ Tim, when he notices PORSCHE GUY seems to be having problems paying his $2.50 toll.
PORSCHE GUY: I only have fifty cents.
TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT: It’s a $57.70 fine.
PORSCHE GUY: I’m not going to pay that.
PORSCHE GUY exits his car and slowly looks around. He turns to SEK, who turns “Bastards of Young” up even louder.
PORSCHE GUY: HEY YOU!
PORSCHE GUY: I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME!
SEK: (turns down music) What?
PORSCHE GUY: Can I borrow $2?
SEK: (looks at PORSCHE GUY’s Porsche while the fuel injector on his one-eyed Taurus sputters) Sorry. Don’t have it.
PORSCHE GUY: How were you doing the tolls then?
SEK: (realizing PORSCHE GUY knows some logic) I have $5 and change. Just enough to get me to work.
PORSCHE GUY: Can I borrow it?
SEK: I have just enough to get to work.
PORSCHE GUY: Great. You can pay it forward.
SEK: I don’t think that’s how that works.
PORSCHE GUY: Are you a religious man?
SEK: Not remotely.
PORSCHE GUY: Because I am. I believe in Christian charity.
SEK: (looking at PORSCHE GUY’s Porsche) I can tell.
PORSCHE GUY: Great!
PORSCHE GUY gets back in his car and talks to the TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT. Both point at SEK, who vigorously waves his arms in an improvised semaphore of “NO NO NO.” PORSCHE GUY sticks his head out his window and turns to SEK.
PORSCHE GUY: Jesus pays you forward! God bless!
PORSCHE GUY speeds off. SEK pulls up to the toll booth and is informed by TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT that he’d agreed to cover PORSCHE GUY’s toll. She also informs him that if he doesn’t pay the PORSCHE GUY forward, she’ll be docked for the difference. SEK hands over $5.00 and heads to class.
When their parents tucked them into bed last night, conservatives knew they wouldn’t be able to sleep. Tomorrow was Benghazi Day! They’d been waiting all year and putting them to bed at 9:00 p.m. was nothing short of torture. They rolled away from the mocking light of their alarm clocks and tried to fall asleep for hours, but when they rolled back over the clock read 9:04 p.m. Four minutes!
How were they supposed to make it through the night? In a few hours it would be Benghazi Day, and even though they knew exactly what’s under the Benghazi tree, their imaginations were running as wild as Muslims outraged by our freedom. Obama would be impeached! The Democrat Party disbanded! Niggers and faggots rounded up and shot! Benghazi Day couldn’t come soon enough!
They trembled like old men with weak bladders every time they thought they heard those whistles blow. But sleep would not come. Visions of dead Americans danced in their heads to the sweet sounds of a gavel calling liberals to order. They tried counting lies but quickly lost track of which ones were supposed to matter. They thought about the video but then thought better about thinking about it because it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that it was almost Benghazi Day!
They rushed downstairs and turned on the television. FOX was interviewing Benghazi Claus! Happy day! He reminded them that “when we were there, on our watch, we were always ready on 9/11.” What an unexpected Benghazi Day present! They were so excited it took everything in their power not to shoot each other in the face.
But it was only 10:00 p.m. Benghazi Day was still hours away!
So they went on the Internet and spent the night writing fan-fiction. When they fell asleep on their keyboards they dreamed of a border whose siren song beckoned illegals and liberals into its electrifying embrace. They saw white men in the White House and women who knew their place. Choirs of aborted babies sang their praises to a God who was clearly carrying. They were dreaming of the day after Benghazi Day and they never wanted to wake up.
Because it was going to be sweet.
And I’m sure it was.
I’m sure it was.
The majority of people watch Mad Men wrong. What do I mean? A translation of last night’s episode, “For Immediate Release,” from their perspective should suffice:
With the exception of Matt Zoller Seitz and a few others, the majority of responses to this episode have focused on how “satisfying” it was to see Don Draper behaving like Draper again. Meaning the majority of the people writing those responses are still watching the show primarily to experience the thrill of being a powerful white man. The episode, directed by the always excellent Jennifer Getzinger, undermines this reading at nearly every turn. Consider when Sterling announces that he’s landed SCDP a chance at Chevy after Don brushed off Jaguar:
Pete Campbell upbraids Draper, saying “Don’t act like you had a plan, you’re Tarzan, swinging from vine to vine,” creating an image that would seem to correspond with the “appealing” white male narrative above. Draper isn’t just any powerful white man — he’s the walking-talking embodiment of early 20th Century theories of white male supremacy. Like Tarzan, he’s an orphan who cultivates the talents required to survive in a hostile and alien society; and like Tarzan, when he finds himself among “normal” people again, these talents appear superhuman to them. To become king of the apes he had to become more than just a man. In this particular context, Campbell’s insult almost reads like a compliment; however, this isn’t the first time this season we’ve encountered an ostensibly superior white man in a society of apes:
For the second time in two weeks, the show demands we consider the hubris of a white man in the society “unworthy” of his talents. The reference to Tarzan in “For Immediate Release” only seems ambiguous if we conveniently forget that Draper’s mildly obsessed with a film whose premise is that no man — not even a white one on a world mad with apes — is beyond reproach. Campbell’s insult holds these two visions of white male supremacy in tension: Draper can only continue to feel superior if he deliberately forgets what he learned watching Planet of the Apes.
Those critics who found this episode a “return to form” fail to realize that they’re taking comfort in a momentary resurgence of white male privilege — a momentary return to that Golden Age “when things just made sense” that conservatives reference every time a woman, person of color, or anyone under the age of forty-five decides to have an opinion. Wasn’t it grand when self-made men like Draper could impose their will on the world?
The problem with finding “satisfaction” in this episode, then, is that it requires us to ignore the same things Draper does. Note how the medium shot of Campbell upbraiding him is composed: Draper, representing the old guard, is in the foreground, but he’s a face without a brain and out of focus; Campbell, Ken Cosgrove and Joan Harris, representing the generation after Draper’s, occupy the midground; and in the background is an unfocused Michael Ginsberg and sundry, representatives of the new generation. Although no one actually occupies the center of the frame, the dominant element seems to be the irate Campbell, as he’s on the receiving end of Draper and Cosgrove’s stares. But then there’s Joan Harris — the color of whose dress seems out of place and whose eyes meet no one and nothing — there’s Joan Harris on whose back alone the company survived. What does she have to say about Draper’s “return to form”?
Exactly. She doesn’t belong in the story white men tell themselves about how awesome they are — but she does belong to the one currently being told by Mad Men. If only more people watching it realized that.
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