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The Room for Rage

22 May

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Gabby Orr’s May 20th piece for Politico opens with this: “The Trump campaign has an order from the president: Find a way to get him back on the road and into megarallies to re-energize his base.”  The pandemic has brought a temporary end to satisfying his need to “connect with his ultra-loyal fans.”  I was drawn to this focus through Joshua Holland’s May 20th piece for AlterNet examining recent Trump raging.

What I find puzzling is that first line from Orr’s article.  Does his base need re-energization?  Haven’t we seen their recent energy directed with screaming fits at governors continuing shelter-in-place policies?  Hasn’t defying those policies with church gatherings and nail salon traffic exhibited abundant energy?  In fact, hasn’t all of the hysteria been a result of Trump playing his base?  Or, more precisely, special interests in seeing the economy reopen, such as Convention of States, partially funded by the Robert Mercer family foundation with ties to the current Federal administration through individuals such as Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development?  As Isaac Stanley-Becker and Tony Romm observe:

“A network of right-leaning individuals and groups, aided by nimble online outfits, has helped incubate the fervor erupting in state capitals across the country. The activism is often organic and the frustration deeply felt, but it is also being amplified, and in some cases coordinated, by longtime conservative activists, whose robust operations were initially set up with help from Republican megadonors.”

The child in the crib is raging.  But whether or not his rage is as organically and deeply frustrating to the child as the strings of his base, his separation from the campaign trail is an ominous sign that his re-election strategies are failing.  For those of us not tied to the Fox News propaganda cord, he was unable to sustain daily COVID-19 briefings because the public began to see that he did not have a handle on the situation.  “It will go away, just stay calm” was a statement Trump made on March 10, 2020, citing the statistic of only 26 deaths compared to “the flu for this year, we’re looking at 8,000 deaths.”  As early as February 10th he began this refrain.  And by April 30th he had repeated it to the press far too many times (see link below for the video compilation by The Washington Post).  By April 30th, the death toll had reached above 60,000 in the United States.  Not quite the match for the flu, then?

This rage is all about re-election.  The rage the child directs toward the United States Postal Service.  His fulminations against Nevada’s sending of ballots ahead of the June 9th primary and Michigan’s mailing of ballot applications to all of its registered voters.  He is consumed by re-election.  Although I doubt that the child understands election mechanics well enough — after all, he voted fraudulently with an absentee ballot from his Mar-a-Lago address for the Florida Republican presidential primary (see Schwardon link below).  The Republican Party, the party of voter suppression, more than compensates for his ignorance with sustained action ergo the railing against mail-in balloting.

But the child perceives the implications of not connecting with his teething ring base.  With the current number of COVID-19 cases and deaths and the attendant astronomical unemployment rate (see Lambert link below), the child’s chances of re-election are grim.  Only the warm smiles and receptive body parts of his fans can energize him now.

Orr, ” ‘A moonshot mission’: Trump campaign eyes a return to megarallies”; https://www.alternet.org/2020/05/overwhelmed-and-losing-trump-is-melting-down-in-a-narcissistic-rage/

Holland, “Overwhelmed and losing, Trump is melting down in a narcissistic rage,” AlterNet; https://www.alternet.org/2020/05/overwhelmed-and-losing-trump-is-melting-down-in-a-narcissistic-rage/

Stanley-Becker and Romm, “The anti-quarantine protests seem spontaneous. But behind the scenes, a powerful network is helping,” The Washington Post, April 22, 2020; https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/inside-the-conservative-networks-backing-anti-quarantine-protests/2020/04/22/da75c81e-83fe-11ea-a3eb-e9fc93160703_story.html

26 deaths: President Trump: It will go away, just stay calm,” C-SPAN, March 10, 2020; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzZgJZgFZbU

Washington Post, “13 times Trump said the coronavirus would go away,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8yOv4PwttM

Terry H. Schwardon, “Trump’s Florida voter registration trips ups (sic) his Mar-a-Lago plans,” AlterNet, May 17, 2020; https://www.alternet.org/2020/05/trumps-florida-voter-registration-trips-ups-his-mar-a-lago-plans/?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=4546

Lance Lambert, “38.6 million have filed for unemployment during the pandemic—greater than the combined population of 21 states,” Fortune, May 21, 2020; https://fortune.com/2020/05/21/us-unemployment-rate-numbers-claims-this-week-total-job-losses-may-21-2020-benefits-claims-job-losses/

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MacArthur Meadow

20 May

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Angel Island Looking North

17 May

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LaborFest 2020 Call for Artists

16 May

Artists!  In these uncertain times the working class is facing life disrupting forces.  Workers are disposable units in factories, plants, hospitals, and agricultural fields, with a pandemic raging and populations demanding an unbroken supply of goods and services.  Unemployment is at historic numbers.  The wealth class exploits this situation to further consolidate their economic and political power over everyone else.  What is your vision of the present and future of labor?  We would like to put that on display to create a dialogue about labor, communities, and the social order.  LaborFest 2020 invites artists to submit up to three works in digital format for an international online display.  This is LaborFest’s 27th year organizing events on labor and culture for the month of July.

Please submit up to three digital images and a one- to two-paragraph biography/statement to David Duckworth at: dpduckworth@gmail.com.  For information about LaborFest, please visit: laborfest.net.  For information about the curator, please visit: dpduckworth.com.

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Department of Environmental Horticulture garden, City College of San Francisco

Souvenir de la peste

14 May

Impression

Souvenir de la peste (Remembrance of the plague)
Quand la peste a frappé aux portes de la ville,
et que les experts, astrologues, rebouteux et chiromanciens
ne servant à rien,
il a fallu faire appel à tous les médecins,
Harpagon, par miracle,
a recouvré la vue
et remis la main sur la cassette
qu’il avait cachée
au fond du jardin.
The 17th of March 2020
Francis Combes, poet & publisher
My deep appreciation to Philippe Barnoud, the photographer whose work is featured above and friend for many years.

Flora

12 May

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Display case, Lisières – David Solís, presented at Maison de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes, Paris, May 24-July 24, 2019.

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Flora Grubb Gardens, San Francisco.

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Ride

10 May

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I Do Not Like America Right Now

9 May

I had a discussion with Joe and Jack outside Belle Cora early this evening in North Beach.  Jack mentioned having more time to spend on his art with the shelter-in-place policies in San Francisco.  I could appreciate that sentiment.  Consider the output of this blog over time and you will understand that the blog is a luxury and the time available to enhance the venture has been practically nil.

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Be that as it may we do what we can to live.  I make a living.  I work for a wage.  Unless you are one of Trump’s welfare recipients sitting this pandemic out on a yacht making a living is rather special.  Sample Anneken Tappe’s “Record 20.5 million American jobs lost in April. Unemployment rate soars to 14.7%,” CNN Business (https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/08/economy/april-jobs-report-2020-coronavirus/index.html; accessed 05/08/2020).

Stella Pastry & Café decided to close at the beginning of shelter-in-place in San Francisco.  Recently someone with a marker wrote the words you see above on the shop’s window pane, covering the paper sign the shop had originally posted from inside.  A defacement with what, certainly provocative, meaning?  I’ve noticed nearly one-third to one-half of the local population not wearing masks in my neighborhood on any given day.  Earlier today on the bus I listened to a man in a wheelchair in his 80’s rail against the use of masks.  His litany touched on several aspects of how his life has been impeded: why he can’t breathe!  But it was the last item on his list that truly astounded: he wants women to be able to see his face without a mask!  No one in particular was being addressed; we were all hostage to his words.

Why are we allowing this travesty to take place?  Wearing masks to help stem a pandemic!  No!  Surely not!  Ahoy Huntington Beach!

But if the I-need-my-nails-and-hair-cut-now-this-is-freedom crowd is making too much noise the rational keep-the-state-afloat managerial class tempers that by letting us know that we can afford to allow some people to die.  It’s in the budget that we must save.  Whose budget accounted for 1,322,163 confirmed cases within the United States as of now with 78,616 deaths? (see ncov2019.live for these figures, and they will change!).

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Fnnch is a local artist for whom I do not have an opinion but of whom I am well aware.  His spray painted images of the signature honey bear, as you see above, or flamingos or lotus flowers dot the landscape.  You cannot think of spray can art in San Francisco without including this artist.  Be that as it may, the above image is a work on paper adhered to a postal relay box located on Columbus Avenue near Broadway.  This particular bear did catch my attention two weeks ago because the artist had added the mask.  It also caught others’ attention — with tags “STONER”, “5G”, and “FUCK ‘YO’ COUCH” —  and obviously someone who did not like the message behind the mask.  I had to ask a friend what “5G’ referred to.  She explains that this is reference to a theory gaining popularity that the virus is caused by cell phone towers.

People nonchalantly strolling the avenues mask-less is as much a designer statement as people wearing newer hand-crafted three-layer cloth masks.  There is a smugness to those mask-less strollers.  They have more important things to do than be bothered with the common good.

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But what is caring for the common good to capitulation?  This work on cardboard, which I could have nonchalantly stepped on as I strolled today, was part of a soft tide of garbage drifting across my path.  Look how it shouts for attention!  This handmade sign lifts the AIDS epidemic-era slogan of SILENCE=DEATH from a visual campaign originally created in the 1980s by concerned citizens in New York City and members of ACT-UP, who could see that a pandemic seemingly affecting only gay men was being totally ignored by the rest of America.

And I do remember those days.  When we gathered in private homes to assess the coming storm we were asking each other how to care for individuals suddenly fraught with an unknown disease.  There were no institutional parameters to look to.  There was no governmental concern nor support.  No, there was absolutely nothing.  Yet, America would be nothing today if not for the bravery of men and women who reached out during the AIDS pandemic.  Now we have the institutional and governmental structure to address pandemic because of AIDS.

People gripped with economic uncertainty or job loss must certainly be acknowledged (see my post from May 3rd regarding meatpacking plant workers).  But the lack of empathy because of assumed self-righteous claims to  constitutionally guaranteed personal freedoms or latched-on conspiracy theories surrounding cell phone towers is a mentally sick vacuum that shows us who we truly are.  We are not the brave souls who addressed AIDS.  We are a morally bankrupt people.  I do not like America right now.

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Crissy Field, San Francisco

8 May

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My COVID-19 Party

7 May

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