A Journal of the Plague Year Day 16

Thursday 2nd April 2020

Needing

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Break.

Increasingly lethargic to write. Headachey all day, writing all day. Fuckers.

Stuck in a rut.

I imagine about 12 hours worth, of which 1 hr on admin (weeerk emails and texts), 4 hrs on the book conundrum (so hair-tearingly stuck I’ve had to contact a stranger to help), an hr on this blog and about 6hrs doing sweet FA on news forums where I’ve taken full time employment as a keyboard warrior. I mean who still does that? Chatrooms were sooo noughties. Boomers obviously, emanating great globs of social division as they crawl through cyberspace like giant pale, male slugs of patriarchy. Writing crappy articles in effect, as a post that will be argued by one odious oversized mollusc and looked at by another five, before sliming over to a new page.

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I am of course being sucked into the black hole that is the algorithm laced Internet, where I’ll be later bombarded by more material to further polarise my views, perhaps unintentionally -or not -but to further partisan up the great unplugged. This is how the giant slugs came about in the first place, once fellow victims with kitchens and friends and everything. With algorithms ruling every roost, you’ll never be surprised into new things, and every echo chamber only ever gets deeper. That’s how Netflix gets positively boring. I’m currently stuck in a purgatory of low budget horrors, food porn and lots and lots of immersive Americans standing round talking to, with and about each other. No other suggestions come forward.

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But no. Don’t settle -the world is bigger than that.  Go, seek out that animated history of the Slovakian harp, or some shorts from the Saudi indy scene, or just anything waaaay out there ker-azee, unwatched by anyone else ever, the most obscure offering you can eke out of the molehill of Mongolian film history. Then maybe things will spice up, hopefully.

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Also watched a mix of the Big Brother contestants only now being informed of the C-19 pandemic (Germany, Brazil and Canada, last week), without a clue as to what they were saying, just seeing their shocked expressions in close up. It must be terrifying to be launched straight into it, without the creeping build-up we’ve all been privy to these last weeks. The Germans were most shocked when they found out people were self-isolating, the Brazilians that every non essential shop and business was winding down, and the Canadians that the US border was closed.

There is something macabrely intriguing about seeing the dawning realisation of something on another. From a position of safety, or prior knowledge beforehand, makes it perhaps a position of power. Not quite sure about that ethically, but I thoroughly enjoyed every second.

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A following vid (as you do, clicking randomly through your algorithmic menu) was of a brother and sister discovering each other on another BB show in the States, who realised they had the same father when cross-referencing names and descriptions (war vet, missing foot). I mean bizarre, yet amazing, and warming, though a little inbred in that Southern charm kinda way. Then followed up, just as randomly by PM Julia Gilliard’s rousing 2012 speech against sexism and misogyny, voted Australia’s most unforgettable TV moment. Impressive viewing once again, which I dawdled a delicious hour through following up on the issues she’d been specifying, on sordid texts, lascivious expense scandals and bullheaded villainry. I think the algorithm is targeting my emotions, the act of getting jawdropped in a sea of domestic mundanity.

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She keeps the world turning, even from seven years ago.

For a large chunk of the day Netflix’s docurama Rome played in the background, a haze of murder, nudity and intrigue that kept making me look up over the screen as it flashed tit and blood and Doric columns. Annoying.

Then the 8pm Clap-A-Thon for the NHS, echoing across the land and this time people were playing instruments (bugles, horns, drums). I kind of had that very awkward Britishism, caught in a window full of other windows facing me, and dragged into clapping alongside rather than looking like an emotionally stunted Billy No Mates. It’s not that I don’t support the NHS, or didn’t find it genuinely magic, I’m just not the kind to clap or hoot or do anything other than sway a little, even if I was front row at America’s Got Motherfucking Talent, my cat just won and the camera on me. So I pretended to clap. Pretended. My fingertips the only things really touching and looking decidedly, odd, like that little monkey but with invisible cymbals. But genuinely smiling. Anyhoo, for what it’s worth, Thankyou NHS x

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In similar circumstances the people of Brazil took to their pots and pans, but this time to express their outrage at the leadership of Jair Bolsanaro, the outspoken far right president, similar to Trump, who’s been valiantly holding the virus at bay by diagnosing it as the sniffles, refusing lockdowns, and maintaining it a bad dream we’ll soon wake up from, to a strong coffee and some light volleyball on the beach. That is till this biggest protest of his rule to date, racketing out from a few hundred million balconies. Democracies have increasingly been shown to be undemocratic and graspingly unprofessional in all this -it should never reach this stage.

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There’s something to be said about sociopaths in power… I mean it’s a no brainer literally just stepping back and letting the medical experts advise you on what to say. And look grave, possibly even upset at press meetings on people dying. Just so long as you maintain that serious facade and try pretending that people’s lives equate to say, a dollar in your pocket, then you’ll likely be bolstered by sweeping support from all sides, as seen in countries under siege mentality. Such as the noticeable uptick in adoration exhibited for the Great Orange Dolphin (G.O.D.), even from Democrat hills, that has him at his highest ratings ever (49%). Even when all he can think to talk about are the ratings for these briefings, as thousands gasp it out.

Like he literally cannot see what that looks like, literally cannot fathom a logic that hundreds of thousands of human lives are more important than his spotlight. Look at that little facial icon in the corner, ready to fight on the beaches. A look of cold steel to the wind, hair catflapping madly as he raises the flamethrower. Then he opens his mouth.

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Yet given the set-up, script and role these arrivistes still seem unable to tear themselves from their tried and tested MO on or off stage: of pathologically lying on any given subject, and making for the usual pfaff of bluster, disbelief, grandiosity and unimpeachability (God complex). Until the last minute when they lose grip (cold, dead hands, crowbarred by an upset secretary), at the untold cost of thousands of preventable deaths. Imagine Trump, embattled, washed up, squeak-screaming again under the presidential desk as the staff try and tease him out with oil contracts and Fox cameras, maybe some Russian ladies of the night with incontinence issues. It will take till then, that delicately held point in time and history books – possibly a black and white Newsweek cover of the whole Benny Hill scene- before we ever get to turn the corner on this thing.

Amazon Pink River Dolphin or Boto Inia geoffrensis Underwater, Rio Negro BRAZIL

Amazon Pink River Dolphin or Boto Inia geoffrensis Underwater, Rio Negro BRAZIL

Am stuck increasingly with nothing to do. No board games, no one interested in computer games either -it’s the soul sucking internet, or Netflix for most of the day. We contemplated going out for a walk, but the kind of cold, dark, empty walk you’d get at 10.30pm during a ghostly pandemic lockdown of a not particularly pretty part of town, all train tracks, brick terraces and highrises to the tune of litter confetti and plastic tumbleweed. Like Dune, but a budget where they had to make do with Felixstowe for location. Noone cleans the streets anymore.

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In the end we opted to have our souls sucked, promising tomorrow to be a constructed, constructive day full of tasks, shopping and prep for a Sunday dinner party we’ll be throwing in honour of ourselves, for which J will get his antique silverware out. Tomorrow morning will be a conference call for work, to vote on some products for the new Wildlife Photographer of the Year comp. Kind of looking forward to doing something, anything again yet tentative to rejoin public life, like a first day of school encore. Will even have to get out of my one-piece, all-day bathrobe, which now looks like one of those over-the-shoulder numbers cavemen always wear, or a large, splayed cat.

Lunch a milkshake and chicken kiev (overcooked, popped and fizzled away), dinner 3 slices of bread and some ineffective painkillers. Life’s a little bit shit.

Currently it’s Fool’s Gold, Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, and a youthful Kevin Hart chasing Conquistadore treasure in the Caribbean. A camp, long-winded ‘action-comedy’ set in crystal waters that’s particularly refreshing after a steady diet of horror, arthouse and psychological/ historical drama. I’m not sure what’s going on but I am peeping up whenever Mr McCona-heeeyyy is going shirtless, which is like in every scene ever, even when shopping or arguing over divorce papers. I’ve heard he’s always crossing his arms across his lovely chest, or generally gesticulating as he talks, because if he puts them to his sides you’ll see they’re preternaturally short. Like a baby penguin.

I’ve been avoiding the news, but like the ghastly spectacle it is, on your doorstep, I looked. Infections now over 1 million, and Spain with another 950 deaths, UK 569. Morgues are being set up all over the country, in makeshift tents and every purported ice rink which noone’s ever going to return to. The US grabbed something like 5 million masks destined for France, by paying 3x the price in cash and redirecting the plane just as it was about to taxi off from China. Trump also invoked his emergency powers to get 3M to stop its mask shipments, destined for a SE Asian locale from their Singaporean factory, to be redirected to the US of A. And to stop making them for anyone other than their own. They refused, but were brought to task by the G.O.D. via Twitter, who is now vowing they’ll ‘have a big price to pay’.

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At the same time, CIA documents show China covered up infections near the start (the thing with the doctor), and on human> human transmission, or at least was too delayed in announcing it, as if not to be outdone in the Hollywood monster stakes. Not promising.

The Thucidydes Trap between the two posers looks ever more worrying.

But to bed, to bed. For another day, and another keyboard offensive.

Yesterday

Tomorrow

The Rules of Hollywood II

Race

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1. All Black folk be talkin like they from the ghetto. Even if they’re a stockbroker, an office manager, cop, priest, mayor or judge. Man, whatchoosayin?

2. If you’re a Black man you shoot the hoop on your time off. You are kool n the gang with your White buddy. In a family friendly, Neighbourhood Watch friendly, approachably middle class yet gangsterly kinda way. Like LL Cool Jay in Deep Blue Sea.

You’re funny, likely musical. Likely had a career as America’s most famous Black comedian du jour, that one job that made you approachable to White folk.

3. If you’re a Black  woman, you’re sassy. Empowered. Endearingly obnoxious – you tells it how it is, as you are the salt o’ the earth easy to anger, easy to laugh. You are big but you wear it tight, and take no prisoners nor shy from anything Heeelll No! A lot of the time you are angry, you’ve had to be this way to defend yourself in thug society. You are not shy, retiring or ever, ever quiet.

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4. Every Black church is the heart of the working class community, evangelical and full of shafts of morning light, uplifting music, and clapping. The preacher will be fiery and impassioned, as will be the be-hatted congregation who will sing, shout and nod their rather stupid exhortations throughout the service. There will be several middle aged women fanning themselves and mhhhmmming.

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5. If you’re an older Black woman with a serious expression, there are many, many opportunities to become a High Court judge. Approximately 85% of all judges in America are made up of older, Black women with serious expressions as a sign of what a progressive, fair and egalitarian society that country harbours. You will be firm but fair, and liable to call all lawyers up to the bench to give stern admonishments to over your serious glasses.

6. If you’re British there are many, many opportunities to become an evil, globally dominating villain of the highest order. Or a butler. If you’re not insufferably posh (first choice), you can settle for being Cockney. This is the closest to foreign you will ever see.

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7. All spies are White, 30 something, fit and 99% male with a token female who is a real ballbreaker. Also STRIKINGLY good looking, made up, manicured and well dressed the entire time she’s jumping rooftops, like a supermodel striding around on a corporate shoot. For some reason they blend seamlessly into any crowd, however foreign, and will not be looked at by anyone ever. All spies spend most of their time running around shooting stuff (East European shaven headed thugs mostly, which most men from that part of the world are), attending gala events (transformed!), getting involved in spectacular car chases, with minimal office work, shopping, going to the loo, queueing for a latte, getting their cat de-wormed, or dayjobs. They do not keep a low profile at all.

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8. All muggers are stupid, pale Wasp men in their late Twenties who bear striking resemblances to LA waiting staff, but with dark leather jackets/ hoody, hobo hat and needing a shave. They will often have the tables turned on them.

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9. All people with dark hair, at some later stage in the story, will reveal themselves to actually be Jewish, usually by namedropping Bar Mitzvahs, bagels, schmucks, or their super Jewish, neurotic parents. Chances are they are also loud, sassy and endearingly obnoxious as Black women. But more highly strung. -They are people too. Like if they didn’t announce their religion you woulda carried on thinking how lovely they were haa!

10. Ethnic minorities do not cry. Given the opportunity, they are stoic. Though really it’s just they never reach that stage of character development in their lives and loves (unless you’re single in NYC, ridiculously skyscraper-owningly rich, powerful, handsome, well groomed, funny, inventive, kind, educated, strong, rich, did I mention rich? Like billionaire rich, ripped, fatherly and heart-rendingly widowed enough to court Waspy new secretary in town, Dakota Johnson).

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11. All maids are lovely Mexican women who can barely string a sentence together in English. They work hard and look after several impoverished families back in Latin America, for which their low paid job is a lifeline for the entire favela, and 75% of the Mexican economy that’s not drug related. As a loving, kind and surrogate mother they brought up generations of neglected yet sweet rich kids who dumped them on gaining their inheritance. They are all resoundingly, frailly illegal. Live in a cupboard (or possibly the stairs at night -no one really knows) with a crucifix on the wall.

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12. LA is riven with Latino gang members who wear slick hair, 90s plaid, do their top buttons up, and sport bandanas like Notorious B.I.G. Their quasi-Mexican accents are as thick as yo mamacita’s guacamole. They prefer knives to guns. Those are for Black people. Statistically they are the least represented on-screen race per capita to their real time population, more so than even the semi-mythical East Asians.

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https://www.tumblr.com/search/latino%20gangs

13. Italian Americans have lovely, huge nouveaux riches families and are adoring to their kids, despite their murderous mafia links. One of these ‘family friends’ will be obese and thuggish; and they will all talk with the Italian East coast accent ( not to be confused with the pan Jewish East coast accent, or New Jerseyitians). The long suffering wives wear a lot of gold, peroxide and have big hair, and can be just as ruthless despite their feminine charms. Not to be confused with Jewish princesses.

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Actually fuck, it Jews, Italians and New Jerseyudlians are one and the same. They just change surnames on set.

14. Native Americans are middle aged, wise, long haired and monosyllabic. They live on reservations or national parks and often sport cowboy hats paired with clinking jewelry, beads and totems as constant reminders of their timeless, majestic, pre-modern culture that your collective forefathers truly fucked to the tune of 98.7% of their missing gene pool. They tend to drive vintage trucks and have guns they use for manly stuff, especially when they switch to horseridin’ (they’re all hunters and trackers).

They do not catch trains or hang out in cyberspace, schools, libraries, malls, cities, gyms, Chinese restaurants, nail bars, playgrounds, hair salons, comedy clubs, theatres, sports clubs or bars. They prefer to buy their alcohol and drink it copiously at the trailer park or on the range. They are all male.

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15. East Europeans. Women are pale, blonde, blue-eyed gun-toting Slavs, cold, beautiful and casually evil. They will sleep with you for money, perhaps sell their child.  Men are dark, shaven-headed, yet unshaved, chain-smoking, gun-toting Gipsies. -Whether you’re a henchman or an oligarch you’re the same side of Dodge city.  They have yet to register a personality among them, being sociopaths yet lacking the narcissism. Children are on an autism spectrum.

It’s always cold. There is no music where the sun does not shine.  And Vodka, lots of it.

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16. Asians don’t really exist. Except as news reporters; or waiting staff.

16b. South Asians, despite being the world’s biggest ethnicity, really don’t exist.

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To recap:

Race appropriate(d) roleplay.

White folk:  Spies, office workers, bartenders, truckers, pilots, captains, muggers, parking attendants, waiting staff, shop assistants, artists, art students, subjects of art, ballerinas,  ex-pats (not to be confused with ‘immigrants’), travelers, firefighters, surgeons, mountaineers (not to be confused with Sherpas, ‘locals’, or guides who do the same thing), ice skaters, ice hockey players, skiers, snowboarders- pretty much anything cold related

…swimmers, lifeguards, divers, pool babes – pretty much anything water related,  farmers/ ranchers, cowboys, Mounties, line-dancers, woodcutters, hunters, hippies, eco-warriors, extreme sports enthusiasts, – hell, pretty much anything outdoors related.

…Europeans, American tourists, academia, hipsters, nerds, rock enthusiasts, Goths/ emos, toll booth operators, Icelandic fishermen. Serial killers. Vampires. Ghosts. Werewolves. Dinner party guests involving pent up, over-the-hill upper middle class people, in melodramas with endless discussion, trying hard to be funny and blasé by talking about sex.

 

 

East Europeans: henchmen, oligarchs, thugs, prostitutes, sociopaths, spies, cruel women.

Black folk: Hip hop/ rap, R n B artists, musicians, gang members, basketballers, anything else just so long it’s not academic/ science / tech / finance/ rural / outdoors / er, water / or art related. Judges (see 5. Black women).

Mixed race: Hip hop/ rap, R n B artists, gang members, techs, nerds, occasional hipsters -the more approachable side of what it is to being Black (read: sports, music and crime). If you’re Black you can be a rapper, if you’re mixed race you might even be a poet.

Latinos: Maids, gang members, policemen (California only). US/Mexico border control, border crossers, cross dressers. Mexican prostitutes. Drug lords. Token cowboys.

East Asians: You are not in the army, you are not in the arts, you are not in academia, you are not in entertainment, you are not outdoorsy. You are not bar staff, surf instructing, cheer leading, basketball playin’ or any sport in general. You like business school, medicine, tech or nerdy stuff and news presenting. You do not hang out in bars, have family picnics, wait in post office queues, operate toll booths or any random activity that you do (but don’t – I mean do). You are peripheral.

Arabs and Middle Easterners: Terrorists. Misunderstood terrorists. Understandable terrorists. Innocent civilians terrifically terrorised by terrorists. You do not hang out in bars, have family picnics, wait in post office queues, operate toll booths, or any random activity that you do (but don’t – I mean do). Terrorists.

South Asians: Sorry, who are you again?

South East Asians: Sandra! Can you show these nice people where the coffee machine and cookies are?

450 million Burmese/ Indonesians/ Malays/ Filipinos – Wait, no. What???

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Native Americans: Outdoorsy shit. Seal/ bear/ sasquatch hunters. Chiefs. Majestic eagle wranglers. Canoeists. Guides. Spirit Guides.

Torres Straits Islanders: Thank you SO much! We’ll let you know!

The Rules of Hollywood Part III: Gender Reassignment