Amazon Honor System


Note: this will be short, and the usual Bleat Radio Theater will be suspended this week; some behind-the-scenes computer problems (which have nothing to do with the general reliability and absolute perfection of Apple products!) have taken more time than I expected, and the drive with all the radio is offline.

Actually, that is an annoyance. It’s a Lacie, a Trusted Name in home storage devices, and it’s been as flaky as well-cooked salmon. It had narcolepsy, for one thing; it would just spin down, put its feet up, and take it easy. I tried everything to keep its attention, but it got all country-bumpkin on me and napped on the porch after 30 minutes of boredom. When I’d request a file, it would snap awake, spin for ten seconds, then provide a directory. This is the modern world: WHERE’S MY TERABYTE? I WANT MY TERABYTE, NOW. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT THINKNG ABOUT IT. Everyone’s a Bourbon monarch yelling for his afternoon biscuit, caning the servant when he’s late.

Gnat started summer school today. Eh? You say. What sort of cruel trick is this, not to give her the scant interval of a carefree day before shackling her tender limbs with  grim duty? Chill, Shakespeare. It’s “camp,” the standard name these days for any sort of all-day rumpus, and it’s musically oriented, which means singing and dancing and playing with peers. Better than staying home with dad while I type, and there’ll be time enough to rot later on. We already have the summer mood, now that the bus doesn’t come: I sleep in ten minutes later, we have a leisurely breakfast, then amble to the Element to drive to camp. The thing about the bus is this: if you miss it, there’s not another one coming along. So you hasten. If you’re five minutes late for Banging One Stick on Another Stick class, the sky does not fall.

Where does that expression come from? Chicken Little? Because the sky never falls. It can’t. It doesn’t even exist, as such; the “sky” is just what we call the realm overhead, but there’s nothing much there. Birds and scattered light, grandious water vapor. It’s not as if chunks of the troposphere regularly become unsecured and dangle precipitously over major urban centers. The sky is where it is, because it has nowhere else to go. Not to say it has no role. Right now, for example, the last light of the day has turned the trees into finely detailed silhouettes. In a few minutes there will be nothing but outlines. The last thing the light does before it leaves is to show us the shape of the things around you, the distracting details all pared away. And then it’s done.

I have no finger-vigor left. Been banging away all day, and frankly all I have to say right now is that I’ve been banging away all day. So here’s some ancient Soviet propaganda. 

This clip has been making the rounds: Stalin visits Berlin. Or rather Stalin’s stand-in visits somewhere and is shot from a distance, after which Stalin is inserted into the picture. Totalitarian propaganda fascinates me, because it’s so perfectly ersatz, so inauthentically genuine. It has all the hallmarks of the real thing, but since the real thing is quite different from what it depicts, it ends up looking like a sincere effort made by waxwork dummies who can’t quite grasp what it means to be human.  The horror behind the lie makes it a horrible lie, but you can’t quite blame the thing itself. It’s just too damn bizarre. At its best it's a dispatch from a parallel world. Well, yes, of course Stalin would walk unarmed and unguarded into a seething mass of people with automatic weapons. What would he have to fear?

Watch the background – as the happy soldiers and the earnest, concertedly collectivist peasants throng the runway, there’s a giant American flag in the background. Everyone’s happy to see Uncle Joe! Annex us, papa! Annex us!

If those were soldiers whose hand he shook, everyone one of them probably ended up in the camp or in the KGB basement with a bullet in his head, because they knew the horrible secret: took the bastard  sixty takes to get his lines right. And it’s interesting how well-miked the scene is: we can hear his leather shoes creak. And Stalin looks he’s auditioning for his own mummification in the Kremlin, too. On the other hand, his mere presence seems to reunite war-torn lovers, whose inevitable sexual union is blessed by the great man himself. After which the guys in the concentration camp outfits approve.

Holy crow. Well. New Mpls up for your amusement. I wish I had more, but as I said: I’m still settling into this new life. My studio is a mess; I'm not getting any housework done, at all. I haven't watched more than 25 minutes of TV a day in a week, and I can't nap because my head is full of bees, each with their own idea. It's crazy. I love it.

See you at the buzz, as of now.