what if the worlds/were a series of steps/what if the steps/joined back at the margin

1 Comment

Corporate American Prison Culture

I know a lot about prison culture. This is from academic study, intellectual thought of that study, and personally knowing people who have been to prison. I also know a person who was for a short time a prison guard. Some of the most intelligent people I know have not achieved graduation from high school and instead spent their time focusing on immediate survival because the most dire of circumstances were occurring in their lives. They are beautiful human beings who have been forced through a series of situations, both beyond their control and within the scope of their control should they have made wiser choices at the time, to embrace the view of the world that we contain both the capability for doing bad deeds for reasonable reasons, such as feeding one’s own child and providing for their family in ways that they would not be able to achieve by the legally presented choices that are available to them. For some this had to do with race, but always it had to do with economic status. The intersecionality of race, socioeconomic status, and gender made each person’s experience unique in regards to how they interacted within what could be called, “the underworld”.

My time in the underworld was extremely colorful. I met some of the most influential people in my life, individuals who contributed greatly to my formation. All of these individuals committed illegal acts. Many of these individual’s familes knew that they committed crimes in order to make a living and accepted the money in order to live. I take a Kantian view of the law: the law is not inherently moral or ethical just because it is the law. Some of these individuals were my lovers, others were just my friends.

Currently, after devouring “The Jinx”, I tuned into “Oz” on Hbo.go (thank the Buddha for whoever came up with the idea of putting all of HBO’s programming online).  Yesterday, I picked up a copy of Harper’s and to my delight, Harper’s Index (an assortment of statistics that reveals a theme about domestic public policy or economic’s or sociological facts) focused it’s first on the American prison system, an institution I personally devote a lot of time to studying both academically and recreationally. Through my journey of “Oz”, I have found myself profoundly questioning the corporate American prison system. While reading Harper’s statistics, I found myself morally obligated to share my feelings and opinions publicly. For example,

  • Minimum number of times in 2014 that Rikers Island correction officers broke the bones of an inmate: 98
  • Days of solitary confinement a South Carolina prisoner was assigned in 2012 for threatening a prison employee: 41
  • Years of solitary confinement he was assigned in 2013 for posting on Facebook: 37

Read those last two statistics again. From this specific example, we can see that this inmate was being made an example of in the second statistic. In the first, we see what is viewed as a routine occurrence within prison due to the culture of violence. What can be derived from these statistics? That prisoner’s having access to the first amendment beyond the scope of the walls of the prison is more dangerous than a threat of violence to one of the prison’s employee’s.

This should be disturbing to any American who supports the first amendment because the discrepancy is between days and years. What is so horrible that a prisoner could tell us beyond inane ramblings of an inmate.

This this or this.

I am unsure what America is attempting to accomplish with the endorsement of a demeaning and violent prison culture given we are the number one nation for locking people in cages. I do believe that we need prisons, yet morally I feel obligated that a society should ensure the minimum number of human beings are confined by chains. Serious crimes that are directly related to harming other human beings are crimes that should be applicable for confinement away from society for a period of time, and these crimes are both directly violent and non-violent yet harmful. I do not believe that there should be a tremendous amount of comfort in prison, there should be bare conditions however they should be humane. If not for the prisoners, I am concerned about the mental health of prison employees working in such dire conditions.

The more disturbing phenomenon in the combination of corporate and prison culture in America is obviously the private prison system. Like Blackwater and other mercenary armies, private prisons are the antithesis to a democratic society due to the lack of government oversight and the inherently disturbing nature of making money off of the suffering of other human beings. In fact, this could be psychologically compared to antisocial personality disorder, known in laymen’s terms as psychopathy. American corporatism at it’s most depraved has already been compared to having antisocial personality disorder, especially given the Supreme Court decision that endorses the legal principle that corporations are persons.

If corporations are persons, and there are private prisons that are owned by corporations, then that means some of these prisons function as dysfunctionally as the violent offenders they house. This is clearly an ethical and moral threat to democratic ideals.

1 Comment

“The Jinx” and Robert Durst’s Smoke and Mirrors

Though I know I’m a little late on this, HBO’s “The Jinx” is a goldmine and I finally got to sink my teeth into the six part docuseries by acclaimed documentarian Andrew Jarecki (“Capturing the Friedmans” is his other excellent work). As a writer, I spend a lot of time imagining. Some of the imagining is within the realm of normal, some of it is pretty bizarre, some of it is sick and twisted, and some of it is rather mundane and boring. For people like me, Robert Durst, the subject of “The Jinx” is a monster of a character both in terms of scope of the allegations against him and how enormous the eccentricities of his life have shaped his character. For instance, the “AAAANNNYYYWAAAAYYYYY” Durst blurts out after he forgets whether or not his victim Morris Black had a bow-saw or not (with which Mr. Durst AKA Bobby was going use to cut Black’s corpse) is spoken as an uncannily normal statement to make. He is not fazed by the fact that he was just describing tools with which he used to dissect a human corpse, and was treating the matter as a conventional conversation topic, like “I couldn’t find my socks today, but this and then that and my story the dog hid them blah blah blah AAAANNNYYYWAAAAYYYYY”.  The question becomes to the viewer, what the fuck is Bobby Durst’s normal?

Like “Serial”, which I am also infatuated with, “The Jinx”‘s true crime appeal acts as a stranger-than-fiction stage for which the real life characters who deceive, question, squawk, insist, and attempt to understand an act or acts of violence that seem beyond the comprehensible. Unlike Adnan, the subject of “Serial”, Bobby Durst is immediately identified as an atypical human being. Rich and privileged, Durst is portrayed as mentally unstable, seemingly sad and outright bizarre, yet Jarecki affords him a certain amount of dignity in the film. During the last scene, where Jarecki is interrogating Durst about the identical handwriting found on “The Cadaver Note” and an envelope written in his handwriting, Jarecki does not himself condemn Durst, instead he allows Bobby to do it for himself. Jarecki sets the scene up, but Bobby could have just as well gotten up, de-miced, and refused to talk about it. Certainly, one wonders why he didn’t.

Both in “Serial” and “The Jinx” the subjects want to tell their side of the story, and both subjects ask viewers to suspend their presumptions about their cases and examine the facts with the documentarians. However, in “Serial” Sarah Koenig concludes that she believes in Adnan’s innocence and approached the production of the series as giving Adnan back the presumption of innocence while looking for concrete evidence of his guilt. Finding vast amounts of ambiguity, deception, and flip-flopping stories, Koenig concludes that it is reasonable to believe Adnan’s account of his innocence. Jarecki seemed to approach his film in a similiar manner, giving Durst a presumption of not guilty but not wholly innocent either, and came to the conclusion that the New York Post had proclaimed several years ago:

run for your lives

When I rewatched “The Jinx” (always, always watch a documentary more than once should you wish to understand it better) it seemed to be that Bobby Durst was consciously making this documentary out of egotism, but subconsciously giving essentially a veiled confession. During the scene where Jarecki questions him about whether or not he sent The Cadever Note in the first interview, Durst keeps using the pronoun “you” while describing why it would be unintelligent for a killer to send a note to the cops with instructions to the murder they just caused. Its like he was describing his own mixed regret and guilt for sending the letter, one which he all but admits to sending in The Bathroom Scene when his mic was hot, “There it is. You’re caught…arrest him”. His rambling soliloquy racked with guilt, ambiguity, and what could be considered a confession, “What did I do? I killed them all of course” is absolutely the second most chilling thing I have ever seen in  a documentary, the first being corpses being thrown into a pit at a concentration camp in Nazi Germany.

There is speculation among law enforcement agents about whether or not Bobby Durst is a serial killer. I certainly believe that he is. One thing Jarecki commented on was how much he had grown to like Durst as a person during the course of the filming, so much so that Durst gains his trust enough that he does not question whether or not Durst really is in Spain in the last episode, to the shock of the production team’s camera man. Durst was not actually in Spain, but LA, he lied to Jarecki to get him off of his back, and not with a small lie either. One thing remarked about many serial killers is their charisma and charm. Durst’s access to huge amounts of money only seems to add to the enigma of what and who he really is since he can buy pretty much anything and is as Jarecki says “a smart fucker”. If anyone has doubt as to how seductive people who have the capability for serial killing are, watch “Manson” (which unfortunately is bizarrely banned in the United States but periodically shows up on Youtube) and evaluate the love Manson’s family had for Manson. In one Texas juror’s mind, Durst is a man who is “simply unlucky” rather than seemingly malicious. Given that he was on the jury for the dismemberment trial, Durst has some pretty amazing charming abilities (Durst appeared on the stand for that trial).

But Bobby seems guilty, he seems to want to shout “I really did do it take me away!” but doesn’t. He plays his part, like the rich are expected to do. The rich must toe the line within their segregated world, there is too much money and power at stake for them not to. Durst says his lines, “No I didn’t write that” when confronted with irrefutable evidence of his handwriting on The Cadaver Note. Its insisted that he did not murder Morris Black but with a warped rationality explains why he had to dismember Morris’ body. He doesn’t even know if Kathy is really dead, he says. He laments that his accomplishments are never really his because of all the money and prestige propping him up. If he was any one of the peasants, he knows he would have been dragged off by the legal system long ago.

Prior to watching this docuseries, I knew nothing about the Durst saga. I believe it will end anticlimactically, with Durst dying peacefully in his bed leaving behind a mass of questions. We can only hope he leaves confessions with his lawyers for after he is dead. But most certainly, the poor go to prison and the rich go to court.

Leave a comment

The Politick of Bruce Jenner’s Transgenderism

Over the past few years, the tabloid media have been speculating about Bruce Jenner’s gender identity, sometimes as an affront to the dignity of Jenner and his transgender brothers and sisters. Now, Bruce Jenner has revealed that he is indeed in transition, and very happy about it, thank you. This is significant for the place in time this announcement is being made for the transgender/intersex movement, and also for the celebrity culture Jenner is a firmly part of within a variety of avenues. Jenner is an Olympian, married into the Kardashian fame family. His part within the American celebrity fabric is extremely unique as an athlete and member of the Kardashian family. While we do not have noble royalty in America, we do have celebrity royalty, and if the Kardashians were a political family, they would be the Bush Dynasty (obviously, Kim would be George, pretty but dumb, just smart enough to prop up and snap photos of while being quietly steered by questionable forces, in this case Kris and Dick Cheney). If there was a family tree of his celebrity family demonstrating the power his clan claims, it would look like this: kardashian fame Bruce is placed very strategically within this family tree. In this hypothetical model, he is Jay-Z’s brother’s father-in-law, and Blue Ivy would be his granddaughter’s cousin. Kylie Jenner, his daughter, is hot shit within the teen sphere at the moment. A model dating a rapper, she lives the fantasy life of an American teen: young, rich, on television, and part of a fame dynasty. My theory is that if Kylie Jenner can accept her father for being a  transgendered woman, that will make transgender folks seem a little more normalized for the American teen because of how much of a hot fuss Kylie is. The younger a person is exposed to something as socialized normal, the easier it is for them to believe it is a normal part of life. Since there are many people with transgendered or gender queer parents who are young but do not know anyone else with a trans or gender queer parent, Kylie Jenner’s family can be an example of trans people being viewed as more normal. It is easier to accept something if a person can look to another person’s story and see themselves in it. Kim Kardashian’s role within Bruce’s transition is also important. As the Queen of Superficiality, she has made a career on essentially publicly whoring. Appearances are very important, but she has also exposed her celebrity behind the scenes, letting people in on the secret that celebrity lives are fantastical products of entire teams of persons. Her image is crafted, but she has done something strange and let us watch the production of the craft. If Kim Kardashian can be publicly supportive of Bruce, that would be highly positive for the progress of the making intersexed, transgendered, and gender queer people viewed as socially normal. The royal court is always a spectacle.

Leave a comment

LoveSlut: A Short Story

I am a loveslut. I am also a regular slut in the sense that I have a lot of sex and enjoy having a lot of sex. But I also collect, in mass quantities, the affection and adoration of others. I cultivate and protect these affections, throw away the rot, trim the excess, and generally try to make the hole thing as loveslutty as possible.

The cyber revolution has made being a loveslut so much easier. Arranging dates based on profiles becomes a pastime, an excuse to judge others, a reason to snoop about how egotistical a person is. There is a science and art behind the writing of a good profile. The science has to do with the percentages of creating a persona, asserting what one wants, and providing adequate evidence of your worth as a date. The art has to do with one’s writing ability and charismatic worth. There is also a slight narcotic effect of meeting a person in real life, to evaluate them up close and personal. Real life doesn’t make a person pretend to be the profile, real life reveals how out of touch the person was when they wrote the profile. Lovesluts are the ones with the perfect profiles, the ones that are like advertisements done by professional public relations people for big corporations. The entirety of loveslut essence is a craft.

Cups of coffee, pints of beer, glasses of wine, carrot cake, cigarettes, bong rips, grocery shopping, all sorts of things happen on dates. Things that are both normal and made purposefully reserved for special occasions. I realized after starting my volumes of datebooks, collections of the non-intimate details of my dates, that most dates happen in one’s own head. Like clothing being removed, layers of the other person are peeled. An important note on lovesluts: they do not like dates with no talking. One night stands are fine, but there must be some talking. Being with another person has to be an experience that can be divided into classes of time; before I found that out, after I understood why he does that. That increases the amount of affection the other person has. You will never find anything sexual in my datebooks. The point isn’t the sex, the point is the experience to get to the sex. Sex is more or less all the same, it is what happened in the lead up to it and how the two people felt afterword that makes it have significance. The dance, the run, the strange happenings that occur between two people. Or sometimes three, even four. For sure, the times when I got to have sex with multiple people were the most intricate of stories in the datebooks. Not for the reasons of the outrageous nature of the sexual encounter, but for the reasons of how our paths crossed and why. If we were people who had known one another for years, if two of us were friends before, if we were all strangers, who initially disliked who and why, if they still dislike them. Then there are the paradoxes of sexuality, like how a person can hate someone else yet have amazing sex with them, or how two people can be in love and swear off sexual interactions out of fear it will ruin the relationship. Lovesluts cannot get enough of this.

Being a loveslut involved a lot of planning and organization. I had two planners for all my dating, one was big and detailed and the other was a small pocket organizer, with certain dates blacked out so I could know in an instant if I was available or not in case I found a candidate for affection in places like the grocery store or the mall. I’ve of course picked up people on the street. Inevitably, people of lovesluts desires run into one another while in the company of the loveslut. These can be rather neutral, mundane encounters if all parties are mature and abreast of the situation, or they can be awkward, brief moments of suspense, or they can be moments of comedy or drama entertaining enough for a stage. If any loveslut claimed to not like this element, they are lying. This is part of being a loveslut, watching the fuss people make over you, it is perhaps the essence of our neurosis.

Being a loveslut also meant a lot of heartbreak. Like, buckets of heartbreaks, oceans of deep rusty red blood, bathtubs filled with tears. This is because the world is a cruel place, and some people mistake a suggestion for a cuddle as a clairvoyant glimpse into a wedding engagement. I believe the term is something like “commitment-phobic” or some other bullshit. Those who cannot simply live for the moment, who must make all sorts of weighted calculations based on figures that do not even exist in reality, those people can kill the desire in a loveslut. One rational, hesitant person and the whole attempt at collecting those intangible figures of affection can cause a simple flirtation to become an embarrassing debacle. Enough reality and all love dies.

If there was ever a reason to become a loveslut it is this: when we are all dying, going to the next place, we will all remember each other. Lovesluts will have collected so much affection, amulets of love we wear around our bodies of lust, our lull between life and death will be one of a series of lovers coming to visit to say good-bye one last time. Sex and death are the two most bonding and binding experiences two or more people can go through. An excess of death will cause an end. An excess of sex will cause a lackluster orientation, boredom toward the world, or a hyper-focus and uncontrollable amount of energy repelling in every direction. But these two things, these two drives of primordial human drive, go beyond any of our cognitive or cerebral understanding; there can only be so much analysis before the subject disappears into vapor. Lovesluts, we live in this vapor, the smoke and the mirrors, and real and the inferred.

In lust, there is only orgasmic desire toward understanding.