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End Capitalism Now: Da Fugue Zone in Elderly

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I’ve been writing a series of poems called Da Fugue Zone. One of DFZ’s threads is the experience of being deskilled. Another thread is disgust with capitalism. Another thread is how capital is just fine at coopting forms of resistance. Another thread is word goofs, metonymic chains, pleasurable intuition, and light refracting in the broken glass of the day. And here we are writing a blog post about it. Everyday stuff! Anyway, the point is: End Capitalism Now! is the title of Elderly’s super-massive most recent issue and some of these poems are there. There’s a rad load of stuff in here. Some things that stuck in a first browse (& which bring me back to the larger poem — )

 

Anselm Berrigan’s handwriting

 

from avery r young’s “so say(s) de blk creative to de blk capitalis(t)”

“i can be an undertaker

if I wanna make money    luv(r)

 

from CA Conrad’s “Corona Daze 21”

“who are these men show us their goddamned faces”

 

from CA Conrad’s “Corona Daze 29”

I held my breath often

last week trying to get

a relative out of jail in

another state before

the virus made its

way down the

jailhouse hallway

 

Eric Mesmer’s “Enisled”

 

fluvial , chthonic—

( gin, tonic–)

 

frag from fractal—

tectonic sift—

 

not a bucket

but a shovel

James Yeary, “Caveman Sententia.” James Yeary’s titles have always made me laugh.

 

Jennifer Karmin & Bernadette Mayer’s “Are We There Yet?”

 

are you writing then?

or just going haywire hoping

to end with a verifiable commitment?

oh dear, what would gertrude stein do?

survival is a form of repetition

oh dear, what would machiavelli do?

is that a fresh pasta from brooklyn?

i’m sorry i have so many husbands i’ll try

& be better, have fewer, in another life, you can

watch it on t.v.,

 

Lara Durback, “Recent Phases”

 

I rather like the 6 foot rule. I like the agreements. I see my own body lying on the ground, because I am almost 6 feet tall I see this fractal of myself radiating around myself.

 

 

I was too scared to go out all the time right before this, pre-prepared. The desperation of people surrounding me on my commute next to people at work who didn’t seem to care about any of it, some people who would call 311 number to take care of dog shit. And meanwhile everyone steps in the shit, waiting for someone in authority to clean it up.

 

Everyone was touching your items all over the world, it always felt like terror to me, so many people scrambling to deliver to the sedentary.

 

 

Lindsey Boldt starts TWO POEMS TOWARDS FULL COMMUNISM with “Can u shit / w/o a coffee.”

MC Hyland:

“What capital wants is to read you / & know what you are    & this is not the greatest suffering / but it should be refused with the other sufferings”

 

Ryan Eckes’ “Memo From Labor” from his book

 

Zach Haber’s “Man’s Law” begins “Heart vomit heart.”

 

Trying to say to my son it gets less lonely as I get older.         I say

I am more comfortable.          He knows I’m lying.

-Amie Zimmerman

 

 

 

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The Accumulation of Dwarf Thoughts / End Cops, Plz

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Dwarf Thoughts

“The Mule is Burning” // I write on a Covid-19 quarantine digital comfort food at Fence Digital. Secretly work out some thoughts on socialist municipalism.

 

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These walls are doors. These floors are floors. And everywhere ppl are working on wood.

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Once again marveling at resilience and creativity of ppl in Buffalo in resisting oppression. This time, from the police. Demanding defunding of BPD, calling out the mayor’s incredibly weak slate of reforms, demanding justice for Myles Carter and Deyanna Davis, and making sure Meech Davis, Pito Rivera, India Cummings and other victims of racist, killer policing in Buffalo aren’t forgotten. Black Love Resists in the Rust could use your support.

I’m starting to hear some discussions about how cultural workers and institutions can act in solidarity not just now but for the long haul. Urgent, overdue.

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Plague Profiteering and Water Privatization

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If you know me (hi, all five of you), you know I’m obsessed with how water became privatized in the seventeenth and eighteen centuries. How did the source of life–abundant, common, spirit-matter—get transformed into a source of private profit? How did something people across cultures agreed was a common good turn into something that could be bought and sold as a commodity?

Today’s slice of the story comes from Gotham, a doorstop history of early New York by Edwin Burroughs ad Mike Wallace. It involves the plague, a 1798 outbreak of yellow fever in New York City that killed approximately 5% of the population and which caused the city’s wealthy residents to flee the city while the plague did its terrible work.

The yellow fever’s mass deaths galvanized public and political will to clean up a classically oozy eighteenth century North Atlantic city with garbage in the streets, open sewers, and overflowing cesspools. As a result, almost all of the city’s fresh water supplies were polluted.

In response, New York’s Common Council drafted a bill for the creation of municipal waterworks to supply the city with fresh water. The bill was explicit: this was to be a not-for-profit project.

It’s at this point that the popular will for an ambitious water-infrastructure project was subverted by the profit motive of New York’s political and capitalist elite. Several leading figures, including Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, argued against a non-profit water supply. Instead, they advocated the formation of a private company that would supply the city water and that would be empowered to use surplus capital for “monied transactions or operations.”

Burr’s ultimate goal was to use the water company to form a bank. And this is what happened. Burr and company found investors, formed the Manhattan Company, formed a bank, and quickly used the leverage of its backers to force the city of New York to becomes its customer. This would become Chase Manhattan Bank (that Chase Manhattan, as in JP Morgan Chase Manhattan Bank).

While the bank thrived, the Manhattan Company’s system of water supply was disastrous. Against engineers’ recommendations, the company used hollow pine logs to pipe water. These would quickly rot. Instead of steam engines, they used a horse-drawn pump. Instead of a reservoir of a million gallons the city estimated it needed, the company’s reservoir was 132,600 gallons. After two years, the project had managed to lay only six miles of pipe and supply only four hundred homes. These were decisions that quite nakedly favored shareholder profits over public health.

The city wouldn’t have a decent water supply for four decades. Over this time water-borne cholera outbreaks would kill thousands of New Yorkers. The privatization of the water project, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton contributed to the deaths of thousands of New Yorkers.

There’s another cruel inversion here: water is one of the most fundamental common resources. The Manhattan Company turned the public provision of water into what would become a huge cog in global banking, part of the engine of private accumulation and capitalization. What was to become a local public good, became instead, the seed of international capitalist finance.

In the nineteenth century, the Manhattan Company would invest heavily in the slave economy – cotton, sugar, and the triangle trade. This investment in slavery is also a story about water and who owns it. New York banks extended credit to southerners who wanted to establish or expand plantations. This credit was crucial in driving the further, violent dispossession of indigenous people from their lands and waters. This dispossession was the first step of moving many of these waters from use based systems of property to private ownership, the transformation of places defined by indigenous peoples’ and political structures’ overlapping use rights to violently homogenized commodity landscapes (not without resistance or exception (see JT Roane’s work, for instance)). I need to know more about this in the American context. Research for another day.

Anyway, mind the gap between popular will for change and elite translation of that will into policies and institutions that serve their own ends.