I’m Not One to Talk, But Some People Ought to Keep Their %$&*&^%@# Mouths Shut

Example One: Andrew Tate

I had never heard of former professional kickboxer, world class misogynist, and current jailbird Andrew Tate until this week when he trolled Greta Thunberg on Twitter asking for her email address so he could “send [her] a complete list of [his] car collection and their respective enormous emissions.”

Her response, “yes, please do enlighten me. email me at smalldickenergy@getalife.com.”

With an atomic bomb boom, her tweet went nuclear, racking up 3.5 million likes and 650K shares as of yesterday.

Caught off guard, Tate tweeted back a surprisingly effete “How dare you?!” echoing Thunberg’s famous speech to the United Nations.

Stung, he attempted to salve his black-and-blue ego by posting a minute-long wit-bereft video featuring cartoonish cigar puffing and a red robe that Oscar Wilde might have found a bit much.[1] During the video, he calls for two boxes of pizzas and announces that he won’t recycle the boxes as he drones on about Greta, the matrix, etc.

Well, fellow karma lovers, police were able to locate Tate and his brother Tristan from delivery records from the pizza provider. He and Tristan are now languishing in a Romanian prison on charges of human trafficking.[2]

And let’s not forget to congratulate capital crime fighter Elon Musk, who by reinstating Tate’s Twitter account, made his arrest possible.

Perhaps, irony isn’t quite dead yet.

Example Two: George Santos

I don’t have the energy to construct the epic catalog of lies Santos (if that’s actually his real name) spewed in his successful run for Congress in New York’s 3rd Congressional District.

Let this one suffice: After claiming to be descended from Holocaust survivors, after investigative scrutiny into his actual ancestry, Santos backtracked by saying he didn’t mean he was literally “Jewish” but nominally “Jew-ish.”

Um, George, no. If I were you, I’d don a disguise and slink off to some obscure Montana off-the-grid outpost.

O shame, where is thy blush?[3]

[1] Polonius is a fool, but he is right about this: “brevity is the soul of wit.”

[2] [cue Hamlet]: “For ’tis the sport to have the engineer/Hoist with his own petard.” 

[3] That makes three Hamlet allusions in one post. Alas and alack!

Damn, Why Aren’t Our Moral Compasses Working?

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” Matthew 19, 13-14.

Wendy Brown, the swashbuckling political theorist from UC Berkeley, has a hifaultin theory on how we as a culture have arrived at a point where Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas, can dump immigrant children on the street in sub-freezing temperatures on Christmas Eve, the next day tweet Christmas blandishments, and suffer no pangs of conscience (and nary a word of censure from mainstream Republicans who claim to be followers of Jesus).

Brown’s theory is complicated, somewhat “over my head,” but worth thinking about, so I thought I’d take a stab at explaining a simplified version as I understand it.

She begins with Nietzsche’s contention that nihilism begins “with the rise of reason and science as challenges to God and other forms of authority, challenges that reveal all meaning to be constructed and all facts to be without inherent meaning.”[1]

In other words, God’s edicts were set in stone; the winds of time have effaced them. Science is not set in stone; it is self-correcting. For example, quarks have replaced electrons as the tiniest bits of matter. Relativity sets in and begets argumentum ad ignorantiam taunts that “you can’t prove it.” Anything that you believe, I can not believe better.

“Unmoored from their foundations,” in an arena of disenchantment and desacralization, “the Christian virtues along with democracy, equity, truth, reason and accountability […] become fungible, superficial and easily instrumentalized.”

Brown offers these examples:

“When a Martin Luther King Jr. speech about public service is used to advertise Dodge trucks during the Super Bowl, when Catholic clergy are revealed to have molested thousands of children while their superiors looked away, when ‘moral values’ politicians are exposed for consorting with prostitutes or making abortion payments for mistresses— these things bring not shock, but a knowing grimace, nihilism’s signature.”

In her view, unwittingly, neoliberalism has created a Frankenstein’s monster by monetizing every aspect of life in the West. “As we all become human capital,” she writes, “all the way down and all the way in, neoliberalism makes selling one’s soul quotidian, rather than scandalous. And it reduces the remains of virtue to branding, for capital large and small.”

Thus, the heavy repression of Christian values, especially the repression of sexuality, becomes, to use Herbert Marcuse’s term, “desublimated,” and capitalist culture subsumes pleasure.

Just do it, Nike says, as opposed to Yahweh’s thou shall not.

“Pleasure, instead of being an insurrectionary challenge to the drudgery and exploitation of labor, becomes capital’s tool and generates submission.  Far from dangerous or oppositional, no longer sequestered in aesthetics or utopian fantasy, pleasure becomes part of the machinery.”

Brown further argues that “as late capitalist desublimation relaxes demands against the instincts, but does not free the subject for self-direction, demands for intellection are substantially relaxed. Free, stupid, manipulable, absorbed by if not addicted to trivial stimuli and gratifications, the subject of repressive desublimation in advanced capitalist society is not just libidinally unbound, released to enjoy more pleasure, but released from more general expectations of social conscience and social comprehension.”

Values, no longer byproducts of the Divine, have been devalued, which leads to the weakening of conscience, not only conscience concerning individual misdeeds but also conscience concerning the misdeeds of our tribe, especially when these misdeeds are waged against “Others” and “Outsiders.”

So rather than outrage from evangelicals over Abbott’s performative cruelty, we get chuckles.

I’ll give Brown the last word.

Bringing Marcuse’s version together with Nietzsche’s, the historically specific nihilistic depletion of conscience and desublimation of the will to power perhaps explains several things. To begin with, it may animate what is commonly called a resurgence of tribalism, but is better framed as a broken relation to the world demographically outside and temporally after one’s own. It may be the decoding key for Melania Trump’s infamous “I really don’t care, do u?” emblazoned Zara jacket worn on her visit to migrant children separated from their parents at the Texas border. It may explain the routinized mocking, on rightwing websites and in comments sections, of “libtard” concern with human suffering, injustice, or ecological devastation.

Happy New Year!

[1]  All quotes are from Wendy Brown’s In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West.

2022 in the Ol’ Rearview

Well, dear scrollers, Time’s turbocharged chariot has rocketed past another year – ‘Tis here!” “Tis here!” “Tis gone!” – poof.

However, before it disappears in memory’s rearview, I thought I’d recap the year in posts, providing links to a few I think worthwhile. So without further ado, I’ll bid adieu to this intro and get the retrospective rolling.


By far, the most popular post of not only January but of the entire year was a melancholy meditation entitled “The Gentrification of Folly Beach, which laments the metamorphosis of a community into a resort. This fall and winter have seen the slowest bar and restaurant traffic in the quarter century I’ve lived on Folly. Could it be that the exodus of long term renters and home owners is the culprit? As I type this, the din of construction across the lane assaults my ear.

Here’s a view from my front porch as two identical behemoth short term rental clones arise from low lying lots that required groundwater to be pumped into a tidal ditch.

As Bobby Zimmerman once pointed out, “Money doesn’t talk; it screams.”


Slim pickings in February. I guess I’ll go with “Strange Encounters,” a weird-ass conversation I had with two puttering tourists.


After checking out Dylan (i.e. “Bonny Zimmerman”) at the Performing Arts Center, my friend Keith Sanders and I tuned into the Academy Awards just in time for the Will Smith/Chris Rock brouhaha, which I commented on in “The Sixth Deadly Sin.”

And there can be silver linings to dark clouds. From that sad incident, my friend, the prolific Pernell McDaniels, wrote this brilliant song, “The Ballad of Chris and Willy,” which you can watch him perform by hitting the link.


Here’s another post featuring a live performance at Chico Feo’s Singer/Songwriter Soapbox, this one by George Fox, who took the above photo of Pernell. If you’re from the Charleston area, you need to make the trek to Folly on Monday nights to check it out.

This one’s called “Song Lyrics as Opposed to Poetry, George Fox Edition“.


For May, let’s go with “The Folly of Living on Folly.


In June Caroline and I travelled to Germany to visit my ex-pat son Ned. We had a great time, got to meet his girlfriend’s Ina’s parents, have dinner with them, and visit their home.

Before all that wholesomeness, though, Caroline and I visited a speakeasy that was so weird it was like being on acid.

Decadence Lite, Berlin Edition.”


Here’s a post for you language mavens: “Redundant Tautologies” whose very title merits a footnote.


I took August off, essentially recycling old posts.


Dig this live reading of an original poem from Meg Posey (pictured above), who doubles as my spiritual advisor.

“Screen-Faced Nation”


I only produced four posts in October. Even though it’s really stupid to follow the above poem with one of my own, I can be really, really stupid. This is called “From Old Wes’s Almanack.”


Oh man, in November, a pickleball tournament took place on Folly, and I went all gonzo.

The Pickleball Extravaganza.


This may not surprise you, but I first smoked marijuana in high school. You can, too, vicariously, by shitting this link: “Smoking Pot, Weed, Refer in the Bad Ol’ Days.”

Thanks so much for reading, dear scrollers. Caroline and I are headed to DC to see my boys, my daughter-in-law Tayrn, Ned’s Ina, and my glorious grandson Julian.

Happy Holidays!

Caligula-Grade Delusions of Grandeur

Last Wednesday night at the dinner table, I mentioned to Caroline and Brooks that I’d run across an ALL-CAP Trump post on Truth Social heralding a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT to be revealed the next day.

I confidently suggested that they “mark my words,” that Trump was going to announce that defeated Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was his choice for vice president. After all, Lake has been a ubiquitous presence at Mar-a-Lago, and she and Trump share the conviction that the elections they lost had been stolen from them. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve engaged in a little extramarital hanky-panky.

”Whatcha wanna bet that the announcement is about Lake?” I asked.

Luckily for me, they demurred, because as we now know, the “major announcement” was that the Trump organization was trotting out an “official Donald Trump Digital Trading Card collection” in the form of non-fungible tokens. For a mere $99 dollars a pop, you could collect cards depicting the former president in various heroic poses – as superhero, sheriff, hunter, astronaut, etc.

To quote Aretha Franklin, “I ain’t no psychiatrist, I ain’t no doctor with degrees,/
but, it don’t take too much high IQ’s ” to see Trump’s got him a mental disease.

Acute Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

I mean, you’re talking Caligula-grade delusions of grandeur.[1] Check some of these out, a svelte yet swole Trump glistening godlike in poorly photoshopped incarnations from images illegally lifted from the internet.

These are especially inept:

I mean, what sane adult would publish altered images of himself to impress total strangers.

Okay, never mind.

[1] During his reign, Caligula, not only proclaimed his divinity and appeared in public dressed as various gods, but he also had heads removed from various statues of the gods and replaced with his own (not unlike Trump with these cards).

Smoking Pot, Weed, Reefer (Whatever You Wanna Call It) in the Bad Ol’ Days

Smoking Pot, Weed, Reefer (Whatever You Wanna Call It) in the Bad Ol’ Days

I started out on Burgundy

But soon the harder stuff.

Dylan, “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”

In the fall of 1970, I abandoned the friend group I’d embraced since kindergarten and Cub Scouts to become a member of Summerville’s small but growing counterculture.[1]

Rather than going to football games on Friday nights, my new friends and I started hanging out at an apartment, swapping stories, and drinking Old Milwaukees in fourteen-ounce cans.[2]

Sometimes, we’d head out to the Clay Pits, an abandoned heavily wooded former phosphate site, and do essentially the same thing, except under the stars and around a campfire. We had all grown up in the Southern tradition of storytelling and were learning how to practice the art ourselves.  

We sported bellbottoms, wide flowery woven belts, dingo or desert boots. We boys had hair longer than the dress code allowed, and occasionally we’d get sent home from school to get it cut. Our girlfriends could grow their hair down to the waists but weren’t allowed to wear pants to school, so miniskirts became all the rage.

Hippies gotta do what hippies gotta do.

Eventually one of us, probably Gordon, purchased a nickel of skank-ass seeds-and-stems from some Middleton High surfer dude. Back then, Summerville was so small that if you went down to the Piggly Wiggly and bought a pack of rolling papers, the checkout lady was liable to tell your mama. So, we ended up rolling our first joints in Juicy Fruit chewing gum wrappers.

Sad? Pathetic? Comical?

I’d never even smoked a cigarette, so I didn’t know how to inhale. I sort of gulped the smoke in swallows. Of course, I didn’t get high, but I did suffer stomach distress the next day that had me bending over in pain as I attempted to rake some wealthy people’s expansive yard for pay. It was a weekly October Saturday gig.  I dreaded it so much it gloom-shadowed my Friday nights.

I didn’t have to burn the leaves but merely haul them to the edge of the woods that bordered their house. On that day, after I had dumped a load of leaves onto an established waist-high pile, I lay down on top it, clutching my stomach, eventually rolling on my back, lying there, looking up, closing my eyes, following the sun-spawned blobs of color floating in greyness.


It was the woman, the homeowner, I don’t remember her name.

“Rusty, what are you doing?”

I told her I had a stomachache. She commanded I get back to work, which I did. This was before I could drive, so my mother picked me up at four. When the lady paid me, she told me my services were no longer required. She said it pleasantly.

I think she paid me something like two dollars for four hours work, so I was happy about getting dismissed. I’d rather collect cast away Coke bottles on the side of the road for deposits than suffer the Sisyphean labor of raking her yard and coming back the next week to see it again blanketed and to do it all over again, to have the onus of the obligation weigh me down on Friday nights.

Mary Jane had set me free.[3]

[1] Summerville, South Carolina. Population 1970, around 3,000

[2] I could barely force two beers down at first. I hated the way it tasted and sometimes even surreptitiously poured out a swallow or two. I’d get slightly buzzed but never really drunk.

[3] Mary Jane is the lamest of all cannabis sobriquets in my esteemed opinion.