Saturday, July 11, 2020

My Jandek Plague Journal: 7/4/20 "Out Loud"

"It's not bad or good/It's just this way/Put on a face/Be happy with the crowd." Happy 4th of July. America is now posting more than 50,000 new cases of coronavirus a day, getting very close to hitting 60. So what is there to say? There's nothing left to say. This is the last Jandek album I have access to. There have been 4 new releases since I started this, so take comfort that even in the darkest times some things persist, but I can't get a hold of them at the moment. Plus there's a nice symmetry in having a chronicle of the death of America as we know it end on the celebration of the nation's birth. The 4th of July is fundamentally about a grand irony--it celebrates the overthrowing of a king by a people desperate to be ruled. Even today, we see people running to slavishly kiss the boot while their fellow citizens continue to take to the streets in a rebellion demanding the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

-7/4/20. "Out Loud" from Austin Sunday 2007 (lyrics)
(one week earlier)

Friday, July 10, 2020

My Jandek Plague Journal: 7/3/20 "The Ray"

"I'm so happy to be here/I can't say that enough/I'm not talking to you/It's the ghost that I knew." One of my happiest moments in Philadelphia was falling into a group that watched bad movies regularly. I'd been wanting to be part of a group like that for over 10 years. Since coming to Busan, I've started playing Dungeons & Dragons again, I've been writing consistently, and I submitted something for publication for the first time in a decade. Because of the pandemic, nothing feels real anymore, like life has been put on hold and every day exists in its own liminal state divorced from every other. All that means is that the constant opportunity for renewal, for recreation is now obvious. We always have the chance to make our world anew; the pandemic has removed the delusion that we will return to our old world or that we even want to. Even before the pandemic, my family was asking me when I'd come back, but I'm not coming back. My situation is the same as yours: where we are is where we build our better world.

-7/3/20. "The Ray" from The Ray (lyrics)
(one week earlier)

Thursday, July 09, 2020

My Jandek Plague Journal: 7/2/20 "Here Now Today"

"Yesterday I had to run away/Couldn't stand the depression/It didn't matter what I did/As long as I got away from myself/And the blue thoughts I was having." I found a journal entry from 2017 talking about my sense of exhaustion. I'd just come back from a union rally that I'd spent ages recruiting for only to have no one show up, the sense that everyone I was talking to was abdicating responsibility because I had it covered. I wrote, "I don't have it covered and I'm looking for ways to leave." After the rally I had to remove white nationalist fliers from the building my classes were in. Seeing the work happening in the US now--the solidarity, the anti-racism--makes me feel both heartened and ashamed. I was part of this fight. I burned myself out fighting this fight. And I left before the fight was over. I quit not just my job, not just the struggle, but the nation, going as far as I could be leave it all behind me. Only I never let go because the work was not yet done.

-7/2/20. "Here Now Today" from Gainesville Monday (lyrics)
(one week earlier)

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

My Jandek Plague Journal: 7/1/20 "Lights Going Out"

"How many hours are left in this day/How many days are left in this life/Time never approaches the end/Until we see it coming." I know the end of this journal is coming even though the ends of the pandemic and the uprising are not. Nor will the effects of the two be coming to a close soon either. As the uprising began, I told my students not to go to the States, not to even apply to college there. They wouldn't be leaving until August of next year if they applied, but I told them this will not be over by then and the root causes--no health care, endemic racism, and individualism elevated to the level of a death cult--certainly won't be resolved. Today, a student that's not in my classes, said they'd like to go to the US to ride the roller coasters, and then offhandedly said that won't be possible for years. The US's inexplicable commitment to death is apparent to everyone now, not just radicals, and it's coming at a time when people can just turn to other countries for commerce and culture.

-7/1/20. "Lights Going Out" from London Thursday (lyrics)
(one week earlier)

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

My Jandek Plague Journal: 6/30/20 "Things That Never Change"

"It doesn't matter that the turmoil or the barrage or the hate/Just keep a cool temper/And we'll talk about it/After a while/The things that never change/Got a hold on you/The chains of the predicament/Won't let you be." The police assault against Rodney King happened in 1991. Nearly 30 years of police violence caught on tape and it's only gotten worse. And the hand-wringing, apologetics, and victim-blaming never stops. Protests erupt in response to the murders and the grand national wail of, "but what about the property?" rises as well, vandalism pitched as more horrific than violence--so much so that it is mistaken for violence. 30 years and it still takes effort to see the people being attacked and killed as victims. Even in the second Rodney King case, when the officers faced civil rights charges and two were found guilty, the judge excoriated King for putting the officers in that situation.

-6/30/20. "Things That Never Change" from Los Angeles Friday (lyrics)
(one week earlier)

Monday, July 06, 2020

My Jandek Plague Journal: 6/29/20 "In All the Days"

"You missed that shoe box/That five-times-a-week affair/Go back to it now/Even if only in your mind/In all the days/You're safer there/It's a breath-taking experience/As you are being lied to" It's back to work across the nation and it's hard to not have an image of coal miners going back in after a collapse: it's not safe but you can't afford to say no. Of course massive unemployment is a crisis, but now we can truly say we must not let the cure be worse than the crisis. During lockdown, those deemed "essential" had to continue to go to work and, apart from medical staff, that generally meant the grotesquely underpaid. The only people left out of that were the even lower-paid restaurant and wait staff--the people working at the new corona hot spots. Sure, people could organize and strike against these conditions, but the police are doing a good job of demonstrating what their own job actually is.

-6/29/20. "In All the Days" from Houston Tuesday (lyrics)
(one week earlier)

Sunday, July 05, 2020

My Jandek Plague Journal: 6/28/20 "From There"

"We all rise up and live our lives/Even though they want to beat us down/I got education till I'm full of it/And I blow it up, blow it away/I got time i spent in factories/I got dad and grandpa too." When I was a union organizer in Philly, one of the campaigns I worked on was forming a grad student union at U. Penn. When I would tell people that summer what I was doing, they'd be incredulous. "Why do Penn kids need a union?" (Philadelphians hate Penn kids because they're rich pricks who treat the community like crap) They'd turn on a dime and support the idea when I said that grad students didn't qualify for workers' comp. Curiously that argument didn't work for the Penn kids who worked with dangerous chemicals and saw their colleagues get hurt and have to pay out of pocket. And I still don't know how to address that challenge of trying to get a person to protect themselves from the very thing they've seen hurt others.

-6/28/20. "From There" from Hamman Hall
(one week earlier)