Friday, February 15, 2019

Sleepy cat gonna sleep.

Man Love.

To say that straight men are heterosexual is only to say that they engage in sex (fucking exclusively with the other sex, i.e., women). All or almost all of that which pertains to love, most straight men reserve exclusively for other men. The people whom they admire, respect, adore, revere, honor, whom they imitate, idolize,and form profound attachments to, whom they are willing to teach and from whom they are willing to learn, and whose respect, admiration, recognition, honor, reverence and love they desire … those are, overwhelmingly, other men. In their relations with women, what passes for respect is kindness, generosity or paternalism; what passes for honor is removal to the pedestal. From women they want devotion, service and sex.

Heterosexual male culture is homoerotic; it is man-loving.

Excerpted from The Politics of Reality by Marilyn Frye


Thursday, February 14, 2019

An Entirely Subjective History of Los Angeles .

The best metaphor for understanding the way in which modern Los Angeles has grown is the metaphor of cancer.

If cancer is, at its simplest, just the rampant and uncontrollable division of mutated cells, then remember that Los Angeles, in its pre-mutation form, began more than a thousand years ago when the Tongva people gave it a name: Iyaanga. It means something along the lines of, “place of poison oak”. Some people who know about these things believe that the Tongva actually descended from tribes out of Nevada which migrated to the coast of southern California fifteen hundred years before the birth of Christ, or roughly the same time that Cecrops I was founding Athens. There is some evidence that the Tongva forced out a different prehistoric tribe which had been in the area for six thousand years before that, grinding grain at the base of the San Gabriel mountains while farming was only beginning to take place in the Nile River Valley. So who can really say where a cancer starts? Maybe it is always just a latent memory.

When the Spanish ships arrived in 1542, they were greeted by the Tongva’s ocean-going, twelve-man canoes. The sturdiness of those canoes was attributable to three thousand years of experiments in engineering and also to the thick black pitch from the La Brea Tar Pits, which today have a gift shop.

It was the Spanish who named the place El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles del Rio de Porciuncula, which means something like “The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Porciuncula River”. By that name, of course, they were referring to the LA River which is now a dry chasm of concrete. The Spanish built missions and cleared ranch land, and little changed even when it passed to Mexican control, Mexico was still called New Spain in 1821. A blurry and sometimes bloody twenty-six years passed with little changing but politics and loyalties. The United States took control of the whole place on January 13, 1847 with a military treaty signed at the Campo de Cahuenga, which still exists. It is across the street from the Universal Studios movie-themed amusement park. Both Universal Studios and the Campo de Cahuenga have gift shops.

There are two changes which are generally indicative of the cellular mutations that cause cancer: the unchecked multiplication of cells and the diversion of blood flow required to feed that malignant cluster.

In 1892 oil was discovered 460 feet below what is now the corner of Colton Street and Glendale Boulevard, less than a mile from the present site of Dodger Stadium, which has a gift shop. The resulting oil boom and its concurrence with the waning days of the California Gold Rush caused the population of Los Angeles to multiply until it had swelled to more than one hundred thousand by 1900. The resulting pressure on the city’s water supply became manifest in the Federal legislation which created the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which would, over time, drain the Owens Valley dry. That same legislation gave Los Angeles access to the aquifer below the San Fernando Valley, over the hill the north. Provisions of that legislation prevented the City of Los Angeles from selling that water back to the farmers who grew wheat and grapes and citrus fruit in the Valley, because they were not within the city limits. Quickly the little farm towns which sat at the bottom of the 260 square mile bowl of the San Fernando Valley begged to be annexed into the jurisdiction of the City of Los Angeles. With the economic and population booms that followed World War II, LA needed somewhere to keep its people, having already filled its own space. The San Fernando Valley was ripe for suburban sprawl as it was already connected to the Los Angeles Basin by a natural gorge through the Santa Monica Mountains called the Sepulveda Pass. In 1957 construction began on the 405 Freeway which would forever forward link LA to the Valley like a hardened artery. Nested atop the southern edge of the Pass, above the freeway and looking south to Downtown and West to the Pacific Ocean, sits the Getty Center which gleams white like a mirage when the sun is out. It has a gift shop. Through the 1950s nearly all of the Valley farmland was concreted over to make space for a shockingly inefficient grid system of streets and for subdivisions of single-family homes which were built with the same energy and interchangeability of parts which had so recently served the war effort to such great success. There are still a few tiny ghettos of citrus farmland in the modern Valley. Tourist brochures refer to them as open air museum groves. One of them is a small stand of orange trees on the campus of California State University Northridge, it is located on the south side of campus along Nordhoff Street across from a gas station and a Cupid’s Hot dog stand. The hot dog stand does not have a gift shop but the CSUN bookstore sells all manner of branded commemorative trinkets.

The direct connection a tumor establishes to the bloodstream provides it with more than just a means of sustenance, it also creates a highway through which mutated cells may travel through the rest of the body.

Portions of the population looking to escape the suburban sprawl of the San Fernando Valley moved north over the Santa Susanna Mountains into the Santa Clarita Valley, which was formerly notable only for the Newhall Pass through which the Southern Pacific Railroad moved its trains between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and for the 262 acre Six Flags Magic Mountain roller coaster amusement park built there in 1971. The amusement park offers numerous gift shops. Other population booms have occurred to the west in the Santa Clara River Valley along State Route 126, where citrus and fruit farmland has been rezoned to serve the expansions of Santa Paula and Fillmore. Further to the northeast, population expansion has metastasized into the Antelope Valley which is a desolate high desert of more than two thousand square miles named for the pronghorned deer-like animals - unrelated to but resembling eurasian antelopes - which lived there until being hunted out of existence in 1888. Most of the Antelope Valley grows little food and possesses even less water.

Cancerous cells which leave their initial cluster and spread throughout the body can eventually form their own new clusters in new locations through the perversion of the natural process of angiogenesis, thereby allowing the new clusters to begin siphoning off blood supply on their own.

Population growth in the Antelope Valley has depleted the existing ground water aquifer to such a degree that land subsidence has begun to occur, whereby the ground level itself is dropping. From it’s main population centers of Palmdale and Lancaster, it is impossible to see across the desert and mountains back down into the cancerous cluster that is Los Angeles, but the fragility of the very ground there is indicative enough of its presence.

Left untreated, virtually all cancer is terminal.

(An earlier version of this piece was published in the Fall 2014 issue of The Northridge Review)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

How to Train Your Sheeple.

In 1966 Robert Kennedy gave a speech in which he said, “There is a Chinese curse which says, ‘May (you) live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in interesting times.”

I thought about it the other day because I had Bobby Kennedy on my mind (as liberal white men of a certain type often do) and so I thought to look up the quote and was quickly informed by the fabulous site Quote Investigator that while Kennedy did say it, there is no evidence at all that what he said was an old Chinese curse. There is however evidence of lots and lots of white men attributing the saying “May you live in interesting times” to the ancient Chinese.

Similarly, there is a famous Mark Twain quote, “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over” that was never actually said of written by Mark Twain.

It sure does sound like Twain though, right?

Because we live in interesting time, there is often too much for us to think about and so we all develop our own little cognitive shortcuts. For instance, I trust Roxane Gay. If Roxane Gay is upset about something on Twitter, I trust that it is worth being upset about. I don’t have the time or the bandwidth to investigate everything out there in the world, so to some degree, I rely on Roxane Gay to guide me.

Similarly, I do not trust Tucker Carlson. If Tucker has an opinion about something, I can rely on the statistical likelihood that I believe the opposite thing. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for me to pay attention to everything he says, so I have to cut some corners.

We all do this. It is not a great system, but it is the best one we have.

Or it used to be.

You probably already know that we are currently toiling under a post-truth American President. He’s not simply a liar, he’s that weird, special type of liar who seems in any given moment to believe the truth of what he says because he is saying it.

How is that for a uroboros of logic?

The President though is just a symptom of the larger disease. A certain quality of tail-eating, conspiratorial thinking seems to have been moving from the fringes into the mainstream consciousness. There seem to be more flat-Earthers and anti-vaxxers now than their used to be. I feel like every fifth white man I meet believes that water fluoridation is somehow nefarious (I don’t know what white men love to hate about fluoride).

From Cesar Sayoc and his pipe bombs to the Pizzagate shooter Edgar Maddison Welch to the fact that Jenny McCarthy has been permitted a spot on a network television show like she’s just another kooky celebrity and not a person whose advocacy has literally placed children's lives in danger, one has to wonder where all the crazies are coming from.

My guess is that once you start to believe a not-true-thing, it becomes easier to believe the next one, then the next, then the next, because the world is a busy place and so we have all had to cut some cognitive corners.

Once you begin to believe something as simple as “all politicians are the same” it becomes easier to then believe “all politicians lie” then “the government is lying” then “the government is lying about vaccines” and then “the government is using vaccines and chemtrails to keep us docile while they take our guns before they round us up and force us into FEMA death camps because: Socialism!”

And it isn’t just the 2nd Amendment types either. Talk to a Bernie Bro for 15 seconds and he’ll explain to you how Clinton rigged the Nevada primary, you don’t even need to drop a hat to get him to do it.

I grew up on Fox Mulder and so personally I have a soft spot for the Aliens-Are-Real-And-The-Government-Has-Been-Working-With-Them-Since-Roswell people.

Did you know that there are even several elaborate conspiracy theories about who really assassinated Robert Kennedy? There’s a whole podcast about it.

Since it only seems to take a little nudge to begin pushing us in the direction of crazy, I thought it would be fun to explore that and game out a dumb thing to believe. Anyone can discover something that’s real, but it takes real inventiveness to discover something that isn’t real.

In an homage to the New Chronology theory (which attempts to prove that the Middle Ages never took place), I will now prove that there never was an Old West and that it was invented by Hollywood, but they left us a trail of breadcrumbs back to the truth.

All of these facts are true, real and google-able:

1) In the Stanislaus National Forest of California there’s an old Gold Rush ghost town called Bodie.

2) One of the buildings in Bodie is the abandoned Swazey Hotel.

3) In the 1991 film Point Break, Patrick Swayze played a surfer/bank robber called “Bodhi”.

Do you think that is just a coincidence? Well then explain this:

4) The term “bodhi” is Sanskrit and means “enlightened” and it is often used to describe the spiritual awakening of the Buddha.

5) In the 1989 film Road House, Patrick Swayze played the unflappable Buddhist-inspired bouncer Dalton.

6) Timothy Dalton starred in the 1989 James Bond film License to Kill alongside a very young Benicio Del Toro.

7) In 1992, Del Toro starred alongside Marlon Brando and Tom Selleck in the John Glen film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery.

8) Columbus is the namesake of the South American nation of Columbia.

9) Columbia State Historic Park in California was the primary shooting location for the 1950s television anthology show Death Valley Days.

10) Season 6, Episode 5 of Death Valley Days, entitled “Fifty Years’ a Mystery” starred Patrick Waltz as a night watchman and bouncer working in the Gold Rush town of Bodie, California!

Or do you think that is just a coincidence too??? #sheeple


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

22 Storyteling Tips from Pixar.

Okay, Obviously I did not write this, but I did just find out about it and I think it is interesting. The below list was compiled by Emma Coats who is a director/animator/actress for Pixar.

  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what's interesting to you as an audience, not what's fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won't see what the story is actually about til you're at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You'll feel like you're losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it's not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you're stuck, make a list of what WOULDN'T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you've got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you'll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it's poison to the audience.
  14. Why must you tell THIS story? What's the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That's the heart of it.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don't succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it's not working, let go and move on - it'll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d'you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can't just write ‘cool'. What would make YOU act that way?
  22. What's the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.


Monday, February 11, 2019

A Brief History of/for Millennials.

If you’re anything like me, then while you’re driving to the gym in the mornings you like to argue with the people on the radio. This morning there was another of those discussions on NPR about why people are so down on Millennials. This topic is about as stale as jokes about airline food, but much like airline food, there are genuinely interesting discussions to be had, unfortunately no one is having them.

For instance, did you know that one of the of the problems with designing meals for airline passengers is that at 30,000 feet the changes in humidity and air pressure in an airplane cabin reduce a person’s ability to taste sweet flavors by up to 20% and saltiness by up to 30%? See how interesting that is?!

Concerning Millenials and discussions about them, we are again confronted with two of the most static and incontrovertible truths about people:

1) They like to have easy discussions and think easy thoughts, this is true of virtually all people in all contexts;

2) We will almost always behave, think, talk as though we are living at the end point of history; as if all that has come before has led inexorably to THIS MOMENT in which we are RIGHT NOW existing. We will almost always fail to accept that THIS MOMENT that is happening RIGHT NOW is just one more street lamp that history is blowing past on its long road trip to somewhere else. THIS MOMENT only feels special to us because we are living it.

So … Millennials.

Here is a short list compiled by Business Insider of industries that the Millenials have murdered:

  • Casual dining (Applebees, Buffalo Wild Wings, etc.)
  • Starter homes
  • Beer
  • Napkins
  • “Breast-aurant” chains (Hooters, Twin Peaks, etc.)
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Golf
  • Motorcycles
  • Home ownership
  • Yogurt
  • Bar soap
  • Diamonds
  • Fabric softener
  • Banks
  • Department stores
  • Designer handbags
  • Gyms
  • Home-improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.)
  • Football
  • Oil
I did not make this list and I don’t even have time to go into all of this. I mean, beer? Also, are we supposed to be all like, “But think about the plight of the oil companies!”

This list is a pretty good example though of the discussion around Millennials. The rebuttal of course is that the REASON that the starter home market sucks isn’t that a bunch of 30-year-olds are sitting around their apartments playing the well-known and not-at-all-just-invented-by-me drinking game “Fuck Detached Single Family Homes”, the reality is that the entire Millennial generation basically got screwed by the “Great Recession”. That’s the conventional wisdom anyway and I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong, just symptomatic of points 1 & 2 above: it is easy and assumes we live at the end of history.

Full disclosure now: I am not a Millenial, I’m a little bit too old. I’m also not an X Gen, a little bit too young. I didn’t know who Kurt Cobain was until he shot himself (because I’m not an X-er), but I also do not care one little tiny bit about Harry Potter even at all (because I’m not a Millenial). I’m from that little generation born in the late 70s and early 80s. There have been a lot of names floated for us. I’ve always liked the name “Carter Babies” (named for Jimmy Carter’s Presidency from 1976-1980) and I despise/hate/am enraged by the name “The Catalano Generation” (named for Jordan Catalano the dreamy-eyed pretty boy asshole played by real life dreamy-eyed pretty boy asshole Jared Leto on the MTV series “My So Called Life” from 1994-1995 and who left a significant impression on all of us).

I personally think we should be called “The Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act Generation” because when Reagan signed the Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act into law in 1981, he essentially prohibited the FTC and FCC from regulating advertising to children, the result being the hasty creation and/or importation from Japan of shows like Transformers, He-Man, She-Ra, G.I. Joe, My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, and similar because the cartoon shows were not properties in and of themselves, but rather half hour long commercials for the hugely profitable lines of toys they we engineered to sell. Just to be clear here: when people my age get nostalgic for the things of their youth, what they are getting nostalgic for are products of a Late Stage Capitalism bender that weaponized children to abet in the gorging of their parents’ wallets. Thankfully credit card markets were similarly deregulated under the Reaganite corporate plundering of America in the 1980s.

So … Millennials.

The marketing that was beta-tested on people my age in the form of Optimus Prime and the like, had been all but perfected by the time Rugrats and Doug Funnie came along. Whereas we Carter Babies still possessed a little bit of X-Gen mistrust of the world Baby Boomers had built, the Millennials we completely unarmed and undefended against the corprotized onslaught from Nickelodeon and all the others. More so than any other generation ever, Millennials were raised by television and taught by it to find comfort, value, completion, happiness, status, and moral rectitude in mass-produced cheap plastic bullshit that was not inexpensive by the time it landed on the shelves of a thousand Target stores right between the Furbies and the Tamagotchis.

Then the Millennials grew up and went to college and expected that the world waiting for them would be the one that they were promised. They had big dreams of drinking beer and using napkins in breast-aurants and going golfing and then watching football in their starter homes.

The next part of this story is usually told this way: The Great Recession happened and no one saw it coming or could have and economies are like unpredictable animals or weird weather and so it is no one’s fault that the bottom fell out of the market and the Millenials just happened to be the ones with no place to sit when the music stopped, sorry about that kids.

The way it should be told is like this: All of us who came before were complicit in selling Millenials on a stupid bullshit lie we chose to believe in because it that us money. We behaved as though progress and prosperity were a perpetual motion machine, when in reality the whole thing was a cultural pyramid scheme and it always had been.

Even now people don’t talk about it that way, because that is not an easy way to think about it. See Point 1 above.

We act like the whole thing wasn’t bound to collapse and even now as the economy is “improving” we are STILL acting like the manner in which our society behaves is fine. We say that the jobs numbers are good, but yesterday I saw a listing for a part-time job, $12 an hour, that required a Masters degree and there were TWO positions available. Not ONE full-time position with health insurance and a 401K, but TWO positions neither of which offered either of those things. A couple weeks ago fully employed FBI agents were standing in bread lines in America.

Now, here is where Point 2 from above becomes interesting: we have seen all this before.

If I were boring or a conventional wisdom type of person, this is when I would say, “THE GREAT DEPRESSION!” and you as my enraptured audience would mutter, “Oh yes, The Great Depression, we forgot about that. This guy is so smart, he can connect historical threads in the simplest and most obvious of ways! And we like that because see Point 1 above.”

The Depression is a good analogy, but not a great one because the stock market crash of 1929 really did come out of nowhere for most people. We like to tell ourselves that the housing crash of 2007 came out of the blue and that it was all the fault of the banks; that’s not entirely true, but it is MORE true of the Great Depression than of our most recent big Recession.

So… Millennials.

What they have endured is, I think, more like the Dust Bowl.

We tend to conflate the Dust Bowl with the Great Depression because the Dust Bowl happened during the Depression, and while they are linked, they are not the same.

Leading up to 1930, the Midwest had been enjoying a really fantastic climactic period of reliable rain and good weather. Nebraska, Kansas, eastern Colorado, Oklahoma, north Texas, these places were experiencing a boom time because the climate was so good growing crops there was relatively easy and profitable and had been for a long time. All of the promise of America, all the work of settling the West, all the sacrifice and backbreaking toil of the 19th Century was finally paying dividends to the stout and honest descendants of those brave homesteaders of the prairie (irony added). An entire population of people who had done the work, were finally getting something back and they were raising a generation of children to believe in the promise of the land, of the country, and of the future.

Then in 1930 the rains stopped. There was severe drought in 1934, 1936, 1939 into 1940. This was dryland farming in the Midwest, there were no vast irrigation systems like in California; without rain nothing would grow. The depths of the Depression were now darkened by the fact that there was literally no food and no profit from growing food.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. The type of dryland farming that European settlers imported to the prairies was not well suited to the semi-arid region of the Midwest because it didn’t account for the high winds that sweep across the land at various times of year. Essentially farmers plowed up as much land as they could, hoping that one good season could buy them out of the financial hole they found themselves in, but the droughts continued, the soil in the plowed fields stayed soft and loose waiting for water, then the winds came sweeping in strong enough to lift the soil up into the air, forming thick cloud banks higher than skyscrapers and darker than any night sky.

I don’t think people now really understand what it was like then. Soil would blow for days and even weeks without end. Dirt and sand would work its way in under doors and around windows. Sand would collect in the corners of rooms in piles up to the ceiling. Entire farm houses would be buried in a matter of days. People who were caught out in the open when a heavy cloud of dark dust overtook them would disappear for days, their bodies discovered later, suffocated. Livestock left tied up in the open would sometimes be found eviscerated by the blowing grit. People were commonly reported to be vomiting up dirt.

It was actually apocalyptic. And it went on for years.

It was end-of-the-world stuff.

A generation of Americans who had been raised to believe in the promise of the future had a front row seat to what must have looked like the complete collapse of not just civilization, but of the entire infrastructure of ideals that their world view was built on.

And then the Depression got worse.

And then Hitler invaded Poland.

And then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

And then the war finally did envelope the whole world.

In his now famous 1998 book, Tom Brokaw dubbed the generation of young people who endured all this “The Greatest Generation” and while I understand the desire to praise them (they surely deserve it), I feel like the label disguises a lot. Calling them “The Greatest Generation” is meant to show admiration, but in doing so it hides the underlying sets of circumstances that created the need for them to be great in the first place. If he were being honest, Brokaw would have called them, “The Generation That Got Really And Truly Fucked Over From Every Possible Direction.”

They were sold an unrealistic set of dreams by their predecessors, and not only did they get screwed, they had to sit there and watch as their world was consumed by dirt clouds literally created by the mistakes of those same predecessors.

So … Millennials.

As far as I know, the Millenials are not currently puking dirt, but in most other respects I feel as though their experiences are pretty much on par with what that Greatest Generation went through. We don’t talk about them that way though because see Point 2 above. History isn’t over yet and it is important to remember that no one was calling The Greatest Generation “The Greatest Generation” in 1936. We promised the Millennials accessible - and perhaps even easy - success, happiness, and fulfillment and then we said, “Hey, watch this” as we flew the plane we’re all on into a mountain.

This is a good moment to take a breather and realize that so far all of this more or less still falls under Point 1 above: we like easy ideas; analogizing Generation Depression to Generation Recession isn’t exactly brain melting. So let’s think harder and imagine the road not taken …

Have you ever noticed that mostly only Americans are obsessed with this generational labeling? Have you ever heard a European talk about “The Greatest Generation”? How about a German?

The answer is no, you have not.

While America’s greatest generation was trying to avoid sandstorms in Kansas, their contemporaries in Germany were also starving.

Following the 1918 armistice that ended World War I, Germany was slapped with much of the moral responsibility for the war, that may not have been wholly fair, and the conventional wisdom is that a broken Germany, humiliated and impoverished by it’s former enemies, gave birth to the most virulent and poisonous fascism the world had ever known in the form or Nazism. That’s the conventional wisdom anyway; please see Point 1 above.

In reality, while Germany was stripped of its empire and forced to pay war reparations and initially suffered from hyperinflation, the internationally adopted Dawes Plan incentivized other western powers to pour development capital into Germany and helped to create what the Germans referred to as the “Goldene Zwanziger”, the Golden Twenties. While America was going through it’s Great Gatsby Roaring Twenties SO WAS GERMANY. We never ever talk about that.

So what happened? The same thing that happened in America, but worse. Following the stock market crash of 1929 worldwide GDP fell 15%, compared to the Recession of 2008 when global GDP fell about 1%. As bad as the Depression was in America (and it was very bad) it turned out that the rebuilding of Germany through the Dawes Plan had functioned in such a way as to bind the German economy very closely to America’s and so when America fell flat on its face, Germany fell straight through the floor. THIS is the part of the story that we tell correctly: economic ruin in Germany DID in fact help produce Nazism. It just wasn’t the economic ruin of World War I, it was the economic ruin caused by the stock market crash in 1929.

The rise of Nazism followed the collapse of the world economy that followed the implosion of the American stock market.

Here’s why all of this is important: the same set of circumstances that produced America’s Greatest Generation also produced Nazism.

So … Millennials.

Analogizing Generation Depression to Generation Recession isn’t particularly helpful unless we understand that Generation Depression includes both sides of World War II; The Axis and The Allies. Understanding this hopefully helps us understand the danger of the moment that we are living through.

The Millennials grew up under the first black president in American history and then he was followed by arguably the most fascist President in American history and none of that makes any sense if you believe THIS MOMENT is the culmination of all of history, but it makes perfect sense if you recognize that THIS MOMENT that is happening RIGHT NOW is just one more street lamp that history is blowing past on its long road trip to someplace else. It makes sense because we have seen all of this before. The only mystery is which path the generation suffering through all of this is going to take. And if history tells us anything, it’s that we don’t know yet and that it might take both.

When I hear that the Millenials are killing the napkin industry or the bar soap industry, it makes me genuinely angry and a little afraid, because that is too easy an understanding of what is happening. It makes me wonder how the napkin industry of 1930s Germany was doing just before the Reichstag fire.

The Millennials have inherited a world that prefers easy thinking and believes that we are the culmination of history; they didn’t make the world that way. In fact the state of this world represents the betrayal the rest of us perpetrated on them, and I believe that is how history will tell it, but there is no way to know right now, because history is still happening.