Monday, October 16, 2017

The Best Places in St. Augustine to Take a Shit

St. Augustine, Florida is a city of lists. Seriously, it's on so many lists. Naturally, there exist numerous lists of sights to see, cocktails to chug, and coffee to consider within the Ancient City.

Speaking of coffee, do you feel your tummy a-rumblin? What are the odds that you are out and about, prowling St. George Street, or tripping over the bricks of Aviles, far from your hotel, and you have to take a massive dump? Did the odor of the horse manure seduce your colon into surrender? Is that Pizzalley's cardboard they call pizza not settling well in your otherwise iron kettle of a bread basket?

Fret not, aging adventurer. I have, after exhaustive research, concluded that the following locations are the best places to drop the unwanted kids off at the pool.

Bear in mind, I am a man. I am unsure of the status of the women's equivalents in cases where the restrooms are segregated, as this is Florida, and Florida is part of the South (despite just how much the South doesn't even want to claim Florida, and these very same people claim Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas...the god damn South), so I cannot go inside of women's restrooms for research.

1. Flagler College, Ponce de Leon Hall

Before you even make it to the toilet, you're treated to a stunning view of both the courtyard and the rotunda of what was once the luxurious Ponce de Leon Hotel. But you can appreciate the architectural artistry later, because, Jesus fucking Christ, you're going grey over here just trying not to blast your own briefs.

Henry Flagler, the railroad tycoon who essentially birthed the tourism industry in Florida, was probably psychotic. You can empathize with this condition as you try to avoid birthing a food baby all over the rotunda floor. His psychosis and wealth lends itself to a cavernous men's room that I've never seen crowded, as well as completely private stalls, and, of course, fun asymmetric patterns tiled into the floor. It's always clean, and it's historic. You're literally pooping into history. What a fun way to interact with the Nation's Oldest Continuously Occupied European Settlement.

2. Casa Monica Lobby

This hotel, unlike the last hotel, is still a hotel, and as it was built to compete with (and totally fuck with) Henry Flagler and his two hotels, it's bourgeois. In order to gain access to the restroom facilities at this hotel, you need to walk in with the confidence of a hotel guest. You need not appear affluent, just don't be covered in mud or talking into a baseball hat or anything noticeably bizarre like that.

Most of the qualities that make Ponce Hall appealing are present here. You have privacy, cleanliness, and aesthetic loveliness, but of a more symmetrical variety. Once upon a time they had cotton towels as opposed to the paper kind. Perhaps one day they will again. St. Auggie is mysterious like that.

3. Stogie's Cigar Bar

Do you have trouble "going" in public? The Stogie's bathrooms offer the cozy confinement of an airplane water closet, with the added encouragement of a bunch of ghosts that haunt the building. They'll scare the shit out of you. Don't believe in ghosts? Surely the second-hand nicotine will brine those bowels into tenderness. Additionally, no one will smell the abomination you've left behind.

If you go at night, you have the added privacy of a loud, jazzy, funky live band playing inside on the first floor. In fact, you should stay a while. Grab a brew and chat with some locals by the fire pit. Tell them about the fun you've had shitting all over their little city.

4. Mission of Nombre de Dios

Perchance you're a little pooped out from all this crap. Did you have a too much fun watching football at Mardi Gras? Head south on San Marco Avenue. You've already left the bar and you've definitely already broken the seal. But it's too late to turn back. That would be rude. Fortunately there are sprawling acres of trees and green grass for you to take a leak on.

During certain times of year (Easter? Maybe?), the Mission park grounds are covered with tiny crosses. These are meant to symbolize the loss of fetal life to abortion in America. They are not meant to symbolize the unexpected, brutal, or totally tragic deaths of any actual people, as those people get actual gravestones. See how many tiny crosses you can soak after sucking down all those cocktails and light beers.

You probably shouldn't actually poop here. There is not a lot of privacy.

5. Any Local Rant and Rave or Business Review Group on Facebook

I'm not going to encourage you to troll the St. Augustine Business Rant and Rave group on Facebook (or any similar group). What I merely suggest is that you join these groups to witness the massive shits people give about any petty grievance they can conjure. You'll see shit along the lines of, "We eat at the 312 Applebee's two meals out of four, five nights a week, but never again. Not after last night. They got my shitty order A LITTLE BIT WRONG! RANT!"

Or, if you absolutely must shit all over poor service or a lack of professionalism, it's safe to just let it all go in the confines of these groups.

Ponce Hall Rear

Research on the best places to shit in Portland, Oregon has yet to conclude.

Yo. Where's the best place to shit in America? Leave me a hot, steaming comment below.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I Tried Reasoning With a Nazi

SPOILER: It didn't work. Now he's a popular, important Nazi. So there's the TL;DR.

Elliott Kline and I played football together at Wilson High School in West Lawn, PA. I was two years his senior, and at the time my high school housed grades 10 thru 12, so we only really knew each other for one year. However, I remember him fondly, because he wasn't a total dick to me.

There is something to be said for high school football players who aren't total dicks. No man should have to receive a participation trophy for not being a complete and utter monster, but it seems like that's what Elliott has probably become.

After high school, we kept in contact via Facebook. Like a handful of other people who I went to school with, I probably interacted with him online more than I ever did IRL. He normally wouldn't comment on anything unless it was to argue with me. But that was okay. We shared a dark sense of humor.

I can't remember exactly when it happened, but it couldn't have been more than two years ago. His level of vitriol toward myself, my friends, and my beliefs had increased tenfold. Bear in mind, these interactions were exclusively via Facebook. He never threatened or harassed me, but dealing with his anger, circular arguments, deflections, and proud ignorance had become a real chore. It started to appear as if my former teammate had become kind of a racist jerk.

When I shared a Shaun King post about why people should stop defending Bill Cosby, Elliott said he agreed but chastised me for supporting a "racist" journalist who lies about being black. If you're not already familiar with these attacks on Shaun King's integrity, as I was not, you're probably thinking, "well, that's an awfully weird, tangential position to take." At the time, I thought it reeked of some Breitbart-esque bullshit. Upon minimal additional research, it became clear that Breitbart itself was the official source of this slander.

On another occasion, he asserted that placing Harriet Tubman's image on the $20 bill was a form of "affirmative action," and he was tired of it. Then there was the time that he essentially argued no one on the internet should ever be shamed for anything ever, because free speech. I agreed that sometimes internet shaming gets out of hand, and I will always recommend that you read Jon Ronson's "So You've been Publicly Shamed" if you want a wonderfully nuanced and humorous perspective on the issue. However, we're allowed to use our free speech to tell people we disagree with to fuck off.

Appropriately enough, this is exactly what he did to me after Donald Trump won the 2016 general election.

I was relieved to see this is what he had commented, upon receiving a notification from him, as I expected a polemic screed to end all screeds. I wish I had more screenshots like this, so that I could substantiate my paraphrasing of his other comments, but he has since either deactivated his account or blocked me.

Anyway, before he unfriended me (which he did before his account disappeared from my view), I encouraged him to message me privately rather than spew his verbal diarrhea all over my already admittedly unclean Facebook page. If he was genuinely interested in a dialogue with me, rather than the spectacle of an online argument, he should just talk to me. Normally when I encourage trolls to do this, they back down, because they are not interested in dialogue. But Elliott begrudgingly began messaging me. His demeanor was much more chummy. I was pleasantly surprised. 

It was through these exchanges that I began to form a more coherent view of the alt-right. Elliott encouraged me to check out popular "alt-lite" figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Sargon of Akkad, and Dave Rubin. Publicly, Elliott would condemn me as a "lost cause," and assure me that I was "not an intellectual" but an "idealogue" whom he only kept around for the lulz. Privately, we shared how our experiences shaped who we believed we'd become. He offered to help me write a stronger CV, and I agreed to participate in a YouTube channel he was considering starting. 

At the time, I assumed Elliott's public criticisms were projections of his insecurities. However, I've come to believe that they may have been more insidious than that. I now suspect he was not interested in maintaining any kind of friendship, but was trying to recruit me. Perhaps it's narcissistic of me to think of myself as useful to anyone other than my own damn self, but these insecurities are openly and routinely exploited in alt-right adherents by the respective leaders of its various contingencies. 

I'm pretty sure the election marked the end of his efforts with me. Several months ago, One People's Project published something of a dossier on him. His public pseudonym, "Eli Mosley," is inspired by infamous Hitler-loving British fascist, Oswald Mosley. I already figured Elliott for a fascist, but hot damn. In the time since his disengagement with me, he quickly ascended the alt-right ranks, appearing on many far right podcasts, becoming best bros with antifa's favorite punching bag, Richard Spencer, and organizing both of the alt-right's events in Charlottesville, VA. He can be seen multiple times in the viral Vice News documentary on the Unite the Right rally, though he is unidentified in the piece. My favorite moment in the documentary is at around the 9:00 mark, when he threatens the police.  

"Eli" is currently the leader of Identity Evropa. When he isn't throwing Jason Kessler or Chris Cantwell under the bus, he's defending himself from trolls against claims that he's Jewish. What a fun coincidence considering his earlier perpetuation of racist slander against Shaun King. No matter how deftly Elliott attempts to squirm around the legalese of Virginia or federal law, he has blood on his hands. 

I'm writing this not necessarily to attack Eli Mosley, but to demonstrate to my liberal or centrist friends the futility of dialogue with some of these people. I don't entirely believe that Elliott Kline is irredeemable. More dedicated white supremacists have recovered and gone on to speak out against their past lives of hate. However, I understand that I am ill-equipped to facilitate this rehabilitation. Unless you can provide for me an alternative, and I am very much willing to listen, I will continue to support direct action against fascist threats. Specifically, with regards to my former football teammate, I will resume watching him stumble down his current path with equal parts repulsion and fascination. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I Was a Twenty-Something Anarchist

The title is misleading, but I love Against Me! too much not to use it.

I'm going to try to keep this as concise as possible. However, some information may appear either vague or poorly cited (well, "poor" relative to my usual happy-go-lucky non-standardized bullshit blog citations). This is for the sake of security. You're just going to have to trust me.

Antifa are more visible right now in the United States than ever before. I've seen a lot of misconceptions regarding their goals, tactics, and structure in both the media and among my friends and followers. It's probably really dumb that I'm doing this. But it can't be dumber than telling a room full of strangers about all of my flaws in the hopes that they laugh at me.

Following the 2016 presidential election, I contacted Rose City Antifa. It's not hard to do. Seriously. You should try it sometime. Several months later, when it was still as cold as David Huckabee toward a dog, I met with them. Not all of them. That probably would have meant I'd done something very wrong. After I'd been fully vetted, I'd been taken from one coffee shop to another, where I met a group of them, unmasked, and in full view of the public.

Perhaps the comedy scene has jaded me, but these were some of the most sincerely friendly people I've met in Portland.

So there's a good jumping off point. If you find yourself on the receiving end of antifascist fists, you're probably a gargantuan piece of shit. If you're not a gargantuan piece of shit, by god, what are you doing fighting alongside gargantuan pieces of shit? I've had a few conservative, capitalist friends reach out to me with concerns regarding their perceived ideological opposition to some antifascists on some issues. Would they be targeted by antifa? The bottom line is that antifa can be just about anyone. They predominately appear, at least in Portland, to be anarchists, socialists, and communists. I understand why that kind of coalition may feel unwelcoming to liberals and conservatives.

The prevailing attitude among antifascists is that we can save our economic arguments for other times and/or other places, provided we can agree that we have a common enemy in white supremacy, Nazis, and their modern day umbrella, the alt-right.

Rose City Antifa have been fighting white supremacy in the streets of Portland for over twenty years. They tend to avoid taking credit for their own victories. If you personally consider them to be terrorists, they're at odds with pretty much every other terrorist organization on the planet in their attitude toward not publicizing victories. Security culture is as important to antifascist organizing as their non-hierarchical anarchist structure.

Antifa target known, active white supremacists (and other kinds of fascists, but this is the whitest city in a majority white country, so the white ones are the archenemy at home). Their goal is to defend their communities by isolating fascists and stopping their activities before they start by engaging in direct action. Violence is not an antifascist's first choice, but it's never off the table. Self-defense is often violent. Rose City Antifa offer activists self-defense training, security training, and legal, political, and historical education.

A former racist skinhead was recently interviewed on Fox News alongside a former antifa organizer. I can't believe it either, but I highly recommend checking it out. However, Frank Meeink, the former racist, illustrates an important misconception regarding the goals of antifascists when he recalls, "...people would throw bottles at us and stuff. And I never ducked a bottle once, and thought, 'whoa, I better rethink my beliefs here.' It doesn't work that way. It makes me more stronger in what I was doing." Frank probably speaks for most white supremacists when he argues that violent opposition won't change their minds. But antifascists are not in the business of winning hearts and minds. Antifascists seek to stop white supremacy from harming their communities by any means necessary.

Antifascists are often most visible at protests and marches. They're recognizable collectively by how unrecognizable they are individually, as they show up clad in all black, or "black bloc." Not all antifascists are black bloc, and not all black bloc are organized antifascists. Their immediate function in these circumstances is to defend peaceful protesters, and to make their presence felt by the community.

Every time I've marched, when the cops started getting violent, black bloc rushed to the front lines. They always bore the brunt of the state's aggression. During the June 4th "Patriot Prayer" rally and counter-protest in downtown Portland, it was black bloc who surrounded the "Proud Boys" upon their pitifully anticlimactic arrival, lest they attempted to harm the unionists or the socialists. It was a black bloc protester who pulled me from the street when I left my foot straggling, scolding me, "that's how you get arrested, man." I bristled a bit, but later learned that the cops were beating and arresting people who'd made my exact mistake.

And when I left Portland International Airport, after a day of nationwide protests against Trump's immigration ban, it was black bloc who ultimately dispatched some handsy, loudmouthed bigots.

You can also find Rose City Antifa singing and chanting in the North End of Portland Timbers home matches, drinking, waving their flags, and raising their scarves and banners. Despite their omnipresence at protests, this was truly how I first encountered them.

If you're still struggling to separate friend from foe in this ongoing sociopolitical conflict, I recommend doing as I did, and reaching out to local antifascists. Show up to protests. Pay attention close to what you see and hear. Compare your own experiences to what the police say, and what you hear and read on the news. Compare your experiences to those of corporate, citizen, and politically motivated journalists. Make up your own mind in the flesh, and not just in an internet forum. If you can't make it to a protest, a rally, a town hall, or a reading, support those who do, and listen to them.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fight Them Back

"If you fight them back, you're giving them what they want."

No we're not. What they want is for us to die. They do not want a fight.

Can they spin our self-defense into a narrative of us being the violent ones? They already have. They can do that regardless.  So what if we look like the bad guys? This isn't an election, or a game, or a contest.

In fact, they're perfectly happy with you perpetuating the myth that we are all the same. This doesn't stop them. It encourages them. They were ecstatic that the president laid blame on "many sides."

They don't care about looking like the good guys. But they know that you do, and they use that against you. This is how they control the dialogue. Any arguments pertaining to free speech are superfluous and unnecessary. Their speech is not threatened. Hence, we're learning who they are. What is threatened, however, is the existence of a platform. They purposely conflate speech with a platform, and liberals have allowed them to do this. If Milo Yiannopoulos' First Amendment rights are being violated every time he is uninvited from speaking at a college campus, then you and I are owed some fat speaking fees from every university in America (unless you, dear reader, have actually been paid to speak at a college campus. In which case, just cross that one off your list, and send invoices to all the rest). You know, because of the Constitution.

Free speech does not mean freedom from consequences. It does not mean freedom from shame. However, avoidance of shame and responsibility is the core of the alt-right's ideology. They pervert the language of progress for the perpetuation of this worldview. This is where "reverse racism" comes from. "You're the real fascists." If you tend to agree with me, according to Dave Rubin, you belong to the "regressive Left." He uses this term so frequently, you'd think it were a safe word given to him by his alien overlords only to be used when the pressure of appearing as a rational, compassionate human has become too great.

They desperately want to appear to be victims, so at the very least they are still given a seat at the table by otherwise liberal-minded people. On some level, however subconsciously, I think a lot of them realize they're not genuinely oppressed. Surely this dawns on you while you're beating someone with a tiki torch (that you bought) and the cops merely watch. But they prey upon feelings of inadequacy to grow their ranks. When they say "white genocide," what they mean is miscegenation. When they say "defend the white race," what they mean is genocide. This never stopped being a source of inadequacy (that being black men fucking the shit out of white women, and ostensibly actually bringing them to orgasm) among American white men, we just stopped calling it miscegenation.

Another tactic continued from the days of Jim Crow is that of dividing the working class by racial lines. They want you, economically anxious, rural white laborer, to believe your anxieties and your failures are the fault of "the other." This "other" is someone who always has more in common with you than the actual source of your poverty, which are the wealthy elite. From the steel mills of 19th-century Alabama, to the musky basements of modern day Kekistan, white supremacy is perpetuated by misdirected, deadly racial anger.

These are people who think that being yelled at is violence worthy of physical retaliation. They think, because one of their troll idols isn't entitled to fat speaking checks from public universities, that they are being censored. They think, because a community that they don't belong to decided it had enough of a confederate relic, that their history is being erased. They think that mixed babies are white genocide.

They are dishonest as a rule. They are Nazis. Of what value is placating them?

If fighting them back makes us just as bad, then what are you going to do about it?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Give Terrorists More Fun Weapons

You'd think preventing terrorists from more easily accessing assault weapons would make them more creative in their terrorism. Alas! Same shit, different year. Cars, knives, handguns, blah! Boring.

Maybe we, as the United States, should arm them (yes, arm the terrorists) in such a manner that actually inspires some fucking artistry. Sure, more people would probably die, but it's not like they're not all killing each other anyway (am I right, folks who justify genocide of indigenous peoples?).

After all, arming terrorists is an American tradition. Hating and inflicting violence on strangers is as British as fish n' chips. And you know what? At most, three people died at Westminster today (as a result of the terrorism. [I'm not sure what the stats are throughout the rest of London, because, like, who gives a flying fuck? Right?]). How are we supposed to whip up a fun and frothy refugee-employing Starbucks latte of xenophobic fear if the death tolls are so low?

So I say let them go bananas. Hell, arm them with bananas. Not just individual slippery Mario Kart-style banana peels, but literally tons (tonnes? [we're all British today]) of bananas. Can you imagine being crushed to death by bananas? That shit would truly be b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

You may think that this is a little crass, or possibly an overreaction. But Europe is already done for anyway (at least according to people who've accidentally permanently lodged their heads up their asses in the search for their one true source of identity: genitals). Why not allow mother Europe to go out with a bang, as opposed to a very cuck-like whimper? You wouldn't want to be a cuck. Right, faggot? 

So there's gotta be a cheat code someone somewhere can use that will unlock the CIA's secret terrorist weapon stash.


Europeans are commies!

That should do the trick!

Go get 'em, CIA.

Credit: IGN/Nintendo

Maybe we *should* give them Mario Kart weapons!

Monday, February 27, 2017

I'm Pretty Sure I'm Garbage


My name is Benjamin. I'm a 27-year-old single white male.

I was born into a life of privilege. I don't think I've wasted it, but I'm still pretty sure I'm a garbage person.

I am terrible at keeping in touch. Friends and colleagues send me things. They send me letters, postcards, and presents. I send nothing in return. I've had people in my life beg me to keep in touch, and I've not followed through. To be fair, some of those people could be doing more on their end, but we're not here to talk about them.

And that's another reason I'm garbage. We're not here to talk about anyone else. We're not even here to talk. I'm writing to you. You're reading what I'm writing. You're thinking of a response. You're not responding because you either want to see where this goes or you don't think it's worth it.

Most people, when they disagree with me, don't immediately vocalize it. That would be the healthy thing to do. Friends, coworkers, roommates, etc. have consistently repressed their opposition to me. It almost always eventually comes to a boil.

Again, it's my fault. I surround myself with people who are too kind or cautious to immediately express their disagreement with me.

Or a majority of you are cowards.

But who am I to even suggest such a thing?

At this point I'm probably coming across as sarcastic. I swear, I'm being sincere. If I weren't such utter garbage, you'd take seriously my pleas for sincerity.

I get frustrated by texts and phone calls. Okay, at least (as far as the latter is concerned) I'm not usually receiving a phone call from a friend, but most likely from an employer or someone who wants money from me. No one looks forward to such conversations. But my aversion to texts and Facebook messages is inexplicable.

I'd go on, but I have to go to work.

I'm putting off writing to go get paid to do something that isn't writing. And that's yet another reason I'm pure filth. Setting aside my passion for profit is something I swore I'd never do, but my stomach demands it. Pure id, this stomach of mine.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Tiny Bubbles (The Yelling)

I think this is my third post with "bubble" in the title. We've gone from art bubbles, to bubble butts, and now socio-political bubbles.

If that's all it takes for you to immediately close your browser window on this post, I don't blame you.

But I digress. I acknowledge readily that I do live in a kind of bubble. This was made most apparent to me by the election. No, not the general election. I'm talking about the primaries, and how Hillary Clinton did extraordinarily well in Florida. All projections, polls, objective analysis, history, and everything I already knew from having lived there for six years pointed to a Clinton victory. But I still know a lot of people who live in Florida, and I'd have been hard pressed to use more than one hand to count the amount openly supporting Clinton in the primary.

Sanders' loss in Florida was not surprising, but the margins were. Ergo, I live in a Bernie-crat bubble. I live in a Bernie bubble geographically, of course. But also socially.

However, this does not preclude my ability to see beyond my bubble. The suggestion that I cannot see beyond my big-ass bubble is becoming insulting. I was born and raised in Berks County, Pennsylvania. I've lived within spitting distance of the Amish and Mennonites (we didn't have as many as Lancaster, Lebanon, or York, but they weren't far away either). I grew up wrestling, and playing football and baseball. My existence was purely suburban. It was not as blue collar as that of the coal crackers, whose signature wrestling maneuver was the "cement mixer" (I think mid-westerners call it a "steam roller"). But I sure as hell was not some kind of coastal elite (or at least not yet? It depends on who you're asking).

Before the start of my senior year of high school, my football team went to training camp at the University of Pennsylvania. Its Ivy League campus is located in Philadelphia. When the camp coaches were giving us a tour of the campus, they explained to us how traffic lights and walk buttons worked, and reminded us that things were "different" in the big city.

Well, yes and no.

My point is that the last two states I've lived in went red in the election. I was not surprised by this. Disappointed? Yes. Especially in Pennsylvania. I've lived in Portland for a little over a year. I haven't magically forgotten what life is like elsewhere. I haven't suddenly stopped hearing conservative voices. The angry voices are everywhere. They are loud, after all.

I advocate for intersectional progressivism. Race, gender, sexuality, ability, and class are all intertwined. Yeah, Democrats need to do more to reach out to working class Americans. But working class Americans need to stop shitting themselves every time an opportunistic blowhard writes off something beneficial as "socialism."