Pieces of Woo

The music in my previous entry comes from Pieces of Woo: The Other Side (1993).

Original photo by Thi-Linh Le


Dr. G. Bernard Worrell, Jr.

T & I met Judie Worrell at a WOOnderful gig in Chicago. I only slowly realized at the time that she wasn’t just some sweet lady working the merch table for Bernie Worrell. She was & has always been the champion of all things Bernie, personal and public.

Last night he succumbed to illness. Today I feel for those who knew & loved him most, like, for example, his Rubberband brother Bootsy. Even more I hope for solace in peace for Judie, who’s witnessable fortitude over the course of this year reminds me of the unreckonable resolve my mother showed when she bravely ushered my father forth.

Trump’s Ali’s Legacy? Come on.

Let’s not pretend — in our rush to yet again highlight Trump by lowlighting him — that America at large hasn’t been using the icon that is Muhammad Ali as some sort of spotlight for itself (note that I let America off the hook by using the neuter pronoun). By trumpeting “Ali’s legacy” America pretends its legacy has something in common. But what is America’s legacy since Ali? What has changed as a result of Ali’s actions?

Civil rights? Viet Nam?

Where are we now? The African American is more likely to get stuck in prison than make it out of college. But, hey, at least his chances of being schlepped away from a Denny’s is by law trumped by a rogue waitress who will just refuse service and lose her shitty job. Let’s call her white trash to feel better about ourselves and pretend it’s not a latent slur against blacks.

The Black American is more likely to die incarcerated or at the hands of the police than to become a professional athlete. Sure. But being called a “thug” by some conservative asshole, notwithstanding, at least Democrats like, oh, say, Bill & Hillary Clinton would never use coded language to refer to black people, who, if they helped to jail en masse, it was to improve conditions in prisons by privatizing them, which was ultimately for the good of the Clinton Foundation’s charitable causes, right? I mean, you can’t have private prisons without more customers. Duh. It’s the economy, stupid.

A black guy or gal is more likely to get killed in the service of US armed forces than to get a position on the boards for whom the wars are waged. But, come on. Didn’t you notice that there ain’t no draft no more!? Some people just only see the negative side of things. Jeez!

Ali was the first guy to so brashly criticize America for its war on “brown people” at home AND, in that context in particular, abroad. What is the state of the war on brown people at home and abroad under the current “administration”? The one before? And both before that? And now that we’ve gone so far back in time, and in case you haven’t yet done the math or are too young to recall what “Reagan Democrats” were, or how Democrats behave in general, let me ask you a question: Who’s the greatest Reagan Democrat of all times?!

I wonder Ali’s opinion about Trump. And where was the Louisville Lip during all the above? You know, the guy who, among all the great risk he did take and actually heroic things he did do, also managed to turn hyperbolic narcissism into charisma and made the public trashing of one’s opponent into part of the art of the deal by, among other things, referring to Joe Frazier as a “gorilla”?

To be fair, he’d been increasingly debilitated by a disease since before he reached 50 years of age yet would make an effort to be charitable throughout. But it’s the illness that has to do with the legacy of the “sweet science” and how people just love to watch men (and women) beat the holy fuck out of each other, so much so that it rivals any charitable activity in terms of gambling revenue alone. Come to think of it, however, maybe the legacies of Ali and America have a lot more in common than I thought.

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Möbius Plank to the 33rd Degree

V. Rothschild Rockefeller V pushed the button for the top floor and watched as the attendant’s eyes disappeared behind the closing doors. Given the lettering inside the jacket he’d just had hoisted upon his shoulders, NON-HEREDITARY BIRTHRIGHT TO BE FREE FROM DUTY-BASED RESPONSIBILITIES, it was an odd custom to have to select his own floor, strange alone when it was the only one available in the lift. Responsible or not, though, there were customs that would be adhered to, no matter how far… or high one’d come, or was going.

In this case, literally, he’d climbed the structure to the 3rd level where, escorted by seriously armed security, he would step into a horizont-ivator like the one in the Stasi Museum (yet another state that’d appropriated the compass for its emblem, he thought), ostensibly to the center column where he’d be ushered as high as 10 by a new set of guards whose badges indicated the prospective level – as well as their current grade.

From there he walked back to the end of the 10th corridor, adjacent to its outer column, and repeated the procession three levels at a time, each time accompanied by the corresponding initiates, all the way to the 31st, where he climbed a set of stairs to the next level, where he was not met by the only other 32er he knew — who had been however at the formal ceremony the previous evening in the lodge — but by a white-gloved servant with a key on a cushion, which V. used, with minor assistance from the man in the white glove, to trigger the opening of a hole in the wall, into which V. engaged his genitalia until ejaculation.

The elevator doors opened.

As the car began to move, it was unmistakable to V. that he was heading down, not up. Another wrinkle, he was thinking, until he’d descended so many floors that he lost count. No sooner than this had occurred to him, a down arrow next to the 33 button appeared as much as illuminated, culminating in an anachronistic ding.

The parting doors revealed an extended darkness lit by a lone florescent stripe down the middle of a walkway as narrow as the doors were wide and which ran forward far into the distance, but not so far as to obscure its slow & steady incline and eventual bank-like twist to the right. The darkness was daunting, as it consumed enough of the surroundings that the walkway edge was nearly as black as the distance, the expanse of which was imperceptible.

He stepped to the door and stopped. He stood. In his mind he heard a voice. As distinct as his own thoughts, yet distinctly not, it said, “Walk.”

Immediately out the elevator, his stomach, his heart, his organs, and finally his sense of balance informed him that his gravitational adherence to this plank was a fraction of that to the planet’s surface.

V. walked for what seemed like hours with the feeling that he wasn’t coming any closer to the point where the walkway began to twist, and just as sudden as the walk was long, it banked extremely so, yet his feet felt no less light for this shifting orientation. His foothold on the plank, thankfully, became no more tenuous.

As the degree of bank faded under his feet and from his vision, a figure emerged like a speck on the horizon. It was then that he began to recognize the forward progress of his motion, because the speck was growing with his approach. He’d sensed right away, even before he’d seen its shape, that the figure was biological, but not human, and the closer he got, the larger its head became in proportion to its thin body. Lit only by the florescence of the stripe, its skin seemed almost translucent. Its eyes, on the other hand, were huge, black, and foreboding. V. became afraid to continue walking, but was too terrified to stop. Just then the thought arrived, “That’s far enough.”

V. was surprised to find himself so close face to face. He looked into its eyes, for he couldn’t look away, his gaze falling like sleep pulled desperately into their depth. And there they stood a while, as far as V. could tell, staring at each other until he received the transmission he would assume was the message he’d come for, the secret knowledge he was entitled to: “You…”

It allowed this to sink in long enough for V. to consider all the connotations of you. Then V. thought that if there’d be anything harder to explain than what it feels like to receive telepathically, it’d be this pause. It goes from language translated into a parallel set of thoughts in one’s own mind to all the ideas in the silence between them, which were nevertheless thoughts beside his own. The figure continued, with each pause forming a complete notion to let stew: “…are not…”  “…at the top…”  “…of the food chain.”

With that it was gone, and before V. could do what his instinct begged, which was turn around and run back, he sensed a voice explain that the distance to the elevator “under” his feet was the same either way, which in his real mind somehow seemed to translate to its being less pointless to turn around than compelling to go straight ahead, which he did and, on some level deep within, queasily chuckled at the irony.


The labyrinth back had to be done from reverse memory, as there was no one there to receive him anywhere along the way. Not until he reached his limo did he see another face, the first of many familiar that wouldn’t look the same. Armed with the knowledge that he would not speak of this experience, it made sudden sense that you never saw a 33er at the lodge. He went back to his life and continued to live it — with the exception that he’d apparently been relieved of duty-based responsibilities.

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Smack to the Future

Here’s hastening to point out that Trump’s function as assurance of Clinton’s official ascendancy is not complete until those being polled actually believe that the reason people are voting for her is to prevent his (being/becoming otherwise inevitable).

The “anti-other candidate” is not new, but the process this time around features a blurrier plausibility of just who the protagonist is insofar as maybe the greatest number of voters in history are not even sure who the protagonist is supposed to be.

That is how plausible consent is manufactured:

In a landscape wherein it’s claimed consent has been given, it is plausible that others believe the state of affairs to be consensual, even when they don’t consent to the affairs of state.

Humans receive history in advanced narrative form and, at least, perceive this in the context of probabilities. For some time now, voting American humans in particular have been Dem-splained the inevitability of HXVI, and have been either with her, or against her.

The emergence of Trump in the Republican primary resonated “Ross Perot” strongly enough that the theory of a phony candidacy has been a popular one, nevertheless rejected by anyone wanting to be plausibly serious. As his candidacy has continued, it is not unusual to see people admit that they had entertained the idea that he was a Clinton shill, adding that regardless, he’s obviously gone rogue by now, so the point is moot.

This precisely is the transition in “idea entertaining” that must take place before someone can believe in the plausibility of voting for Clinton under any circumstances: to prevent a megalomaniac who would actually go off script when he gets a whiff of victory. It’s a conundrum, for sure, but who cares? Nobody was ever gonna believe she was elected out of admiration.

Even among the many who wouldn’t vote for either one of them, it is slowly becoming plausible why someone would. Going into election day, they’ll believe the polls, and believe that the narrated probabilities of their own history were plausible all along.

Mühsam means laborious.

Mühsamstraße 34, Berlin-Friedrichshain – 2016

Zorndorfer Straße 15, Berlin-Friedrichshain – 1908