Some days the simulacrum of work just doesn’t pay off. The empty building, the soft whirr of the vents, the desolation of the place, and the sci-fi movie touches:

That’s a newspaper from March. Virus hits third person.

I was walking to the elevator - which is in the Bleat banner above, by the way, and find the hidden meaning in the sequence this week - and I decided to use the restroom to see if there was soap in the dispensers. The main law dispensers whirr impotently now, and no lather comes out.

As I walked down the hallway I was startled by a loud thumping on the other side of a door.

Had - had someone been trapped there? For how long?

The door said FREIGHT, which I’d never noticed before. Sure enough, it was the elevator that brought packages and mail up to our office. A UPS delivery person thanked me and wheeled a huge pallet of boxes into the hall. I did not think these were ours. There’s no one here for anything, although that sentiment seems more April than June. We checked the addresses, and sure enough, they went elsewhere. She went back into the transporter room and that was that.

So it was not a day without accomplishments.





Have you ever asked yourself if there’s something you can say today that you will not say next week?

I don’t mean super-bad nasty words that have been insulting and offensive for decades. I don’t mean ideas that have been discredited by their intrinsic horror and the efforts of others who understood the horrors. I do mean things that seem uncontroversial today, and might swiftly pass into a realm beyond controversial: a public death sentence.

Some of these things I post on Wednesday are written the previous week, when I’ve spare time from the paying jobs and other work. Late at night, you look around, sigh, scowl, then start to type just to get it out. Turns out that a lot of things that are in the air on Thursday are in the ground by Tuesday night.

The question is whether you are allowed to disagree with people who have the current virtue filling their sails. Once upon a time the answer would be “of course, why not? Be warned that your counter-argument may be picked apart at the molecular level, but that’s what it’s all about.”

Now the mood seems to be - ha, seems - that disagreement is violence. Silence is violence, but the wrong kind of speech is also violence.


So. Why do we have to ban a certain subject, a certain dramatic setting, and do so NOW? I’m guessing that Kojak makes some people feel unsafe, Mind you, we do not define “feeling unsafe” is the sense of living on the second floor with your kids while someone loots and burns the store below, but “having contrary ideas presented without immediate condemnation within the presentation, so there is no doubt where the moral authority resides.”

Let's have a look.

There’s something Hollywood can do to put its money where its social media posts are: immediately halt production on cop shows and movies and rethink the stories it tells about policing in America.

The result is an addiction to stories that portray police departments as more effective than they actually are;

(whispers) It’s called fiction it’s called drama

crime as more prevalent than it actually is;

(whispers) it’s called fiction but also psst it really went up last week for some reason

and police use of force as consistently justified. There are always gaps between reality and fiction, but given what policing in America has too often become, Hollywood’s version of it looks less like fantasy and more like complicity.

Complicity, meaning an intentional valorization of the police to create good PR, when in a just world the public appetite for shows where there are good guys who arrest murderers would dwindle to naught.

As reality television critic Andy Dehnart points out, at ViacomCBS, cable networks chief Chris McCarthy pledged “to leverage all of our platforms to show our ally-ship.” One of those platforms also airs “Cops,” a decades-old reality show with a troubled history of participating in police censorship and peddling fear of black and brown criminals.

If McCarthy means what he says, canceling “Cops” would be a start.

Ah, there it is. Stop making that show that’s partly famous for the cliche of the shirtless dude with a mullet and a Marlboro 100. But that’s just the start, and it’s not good enough.

But simply canceling cop shows and movies would be easier than uprooting the assumptions at the heart of the problem.

Simply canceling cop shows and movies. Get that? How quickly we moved from the idea of cancelling the shows and movies to the next important step? It’s never enough to forbid; you have to get at the appetites that wanted the things of which you disapprove.

Say writers made a commitment not to exaggerate the performance of police. Audiences would have to be retrained to watch, for example, a version of “Special Victims Unit” where the characters cleared only 33.4 percent of rape cases, or to accept that in almost 40 percent of murders and manslaughters, no suspect is arrested.

And how would they be retrained? She doesn’t mean forcibly, of course - that’s later - but audiences would have to learn to enjoy dramas in which there is a satisfying conclusion only 1/3rd of the time, and accept shows in which the murders are not solved. Because that’s real life. Also, it’s “The Wire.”

If we saw cops going around neighborhoods talking to people who saw nothing, knew nothing, wouldn’t help, wouldn’t snitch - then we’d . . . think what?

What does she want us to think, is what it boils down to.

If storytelling focused on less-dramatic but more-common crimes such as burglary and motor-vehicle theft, the stakes would shrink — along with the case-clearance rate.

“Burglary and motor-vehicle theft” is the bread-and-butter of COPS, but never mind. (BTW, they totally used deceptive editing to make you think the guy who peeled away at an intersection after the squad car lit him up was innocent. Fast-forwarded it, or something. I don’t know, they used computers. ) If the storytelling focused on burglary and motor-vehicle theft, well, the viewer might get the impression that overworked police departments are disinclined to spend a lot of time on these things because the perp - oh, there I go, using cop show lingo, see how insidious the complicity is? - is usually released back into the community. Burglary and car theft? It’s just property.

The closest thing to a reformist police show right now is “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” a sitcom that alternates explorations of the policies and identity politics of the New York Police Department with fantastic gags and one-liners.

We should abolish all legal dramas and show nothing but “Night Court.”

“The Shield,” which aired on FX from 2002 to 2008, follows the reign and eventual downfall of corrupt Detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and his Strike Team . . It takes seven seasons to even achieve that much on “The Shield.” It’s been almost six years since Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., and no one can be blamed for feeling like national reform has moved at a similarly petty pace.

Star Trek was on for three years. It’s been almost 60 years since we went to the moon.

If the entertainment industry truly believes change can no longer wait, it should start with its own storytelling.

And that should start with cancelling all cop shows and movies. DO NOT MAKE THEM.

Wait, she’s just saying, rethink them. Maybe defund them.

Is that the headline?

Shut down all police movies and TV shows. Now.

So, she’s saying, shut them down, then rethink them. What’s the harm in that?

No harm in saying it, but the harm - dare I say the violence that makes people who like a whodunnit feel unsafe - comes from the demand, which lays down a marker, and adds to the things these people want eliminated. And it’s dressed up in the bossy voice of the Terrible Imperatives of Now.

Will we be allowed to watch reruns of old cop shows? Or, more accurately, will anyone be allowed to show them without the Terribile Imperators insisting they STOP, NOW?

If the UK continues to make interesting police dramas, can we watch those?

I’m serious: can someone watch a British crime show without worrying they’re now admitting an affection for the COMPLICITY? Of course, they can, but they can’t talk about it at the office. Well, of course, they can, but they won’t. Well, of course, they will, but only if they know the other person’s safe. And there’s no one listening in.


That’s what I wrote on Thursday. On Tuesday COPS was cancelled.




It's 1907.


I should? Or they did?

Here's the backstory everyone would have known:

Frank Steunenberg (August 8, 1861 – December 30, 1905) was the fourth Governor of the State of Idaho, serving from 1897 until 1901. He is perhaps best known for his 1905 assassination by one-time union member Harry Orchard, who was also a paid informant for the Cripple Creek Mine Owners' Association.


  That’s Big Bill Haywood, of course. His lawyer? Clarence Darrow. He wasn’t convicted for this, but he landed in the slammer for something else, and eventually fled to Soviet Russia.

Look at the stippling in the background! That’s nice.

Perhaps it resulted in this:

The Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907 was an informal agreement between the United States of America and the Empire of Japan whereby the United States would not impose restrictions on Japanese immigration and Japan would not allow further emigration to the United States. The goal was to reduce tensions between the two Pacific nations. The agreement was never ratified by the United States Congress and was superseded by the Immigration Act of 1924.



Bad day all around

Alas, Little Luella Truett would die in 1909.


Alas, Little Luella Truett would die in 1909.

They lived here. Small house; hard lives.

Even then, they looked back to the good old days:

WEEDS BLOCK? Challenge accepted.

(Later: I give up. I mean, I can find the location, based on some old books, but not the specific building.)

I think the finest term I have come across today is “Muscatine Slough.”

It’s quite a granular level of news: a guy who used to live here was injured in Cleveland.

Musserville was right down the road to the south.

I’ll bet the building still exists:

The store, of course, is long gone.

A new trolley motor system?


No more wires overhead, no cables. I found a piece in an old railroad review magazine that talks about the invention, but . . . I don’t know.



Then he got interested in something else - and trust me: here it gets very interesting.


That'll do. Tomorrow is another day. Sometimes that's the problem.





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