Let’s talk about last Wednesday.

I’ve tried several times over the last few days to write about last Wednesday’s insurrection at the US Capitol, but was having trouble finding the words. I generally don’t blog about politics, because politics are angry-making and I prefer to stay on the side of whimsy. This cannot go without comment though.

The events of last Wednesday enrage me. I was watching C-Span to see the counting of electoral votes. C-Span’s whole schtick is that it’s parliamentary government in action so it’s usually the height of boring. But then partway through the vote counting and objection speeches, insurrectionists breached the Capitol and the Congress had to be evacuated.

We already knew the so-called “stop the steal” rally was going to be noisy and awful, but then Rudy Giuliani suggested trial by combat, and Trump himself egged on his cultists, telling them to march to the Capitol.

Like so many of you, I watched the news in real time, horrified at what I was seeing. Watching the insurrectionists replace the US flag with a Trump flag was stomach-churning. By 6pm, a curfew had been declared for Washington, DC, and soon after for nearby Arlington, which is where I live.

I’m four miles from the Capitol building, as the crow flies. About six miles by bike. It’s an eighteen-minute ride to the nearest Metro stop for the Capitol. In other words, everything that happened was actually fairly close.

Being on the other side of the Potomac River made it feel distant, but it really wasn’t. That became more evident when I learned that many of the folks who traveled to DC for the insurrection were staying at AirBnB’s in nearby Rosslyn and in the suburbs closer to me.

As more information became available, it became more and more clear that this wasn’t just a bunch of misguided Trump cultists protesting, it was much, much more chilling. Pipe bombs and other improvised explosive devices were recovered from the Capitol building. Members of the alt-right had been sharing maps of the Capitol, including diagrams of the tunnels beneath the building. Some of the insurrectionists were carrying zip ties. A gallows was erected nearby. It became more and more clear that if the insurrectionist mob had managed to reach our elected officials, there would have been public executions. The Confederate flag was finally marched into the Capitol, more than 150 years after they lost the American Civil War. This was an attempted coup.

Image Credit – Shay Horse / Getty Images

Trump has spent four years calling the media the enemy of the people, and so his cultists screamed at journalists, chased them, destroyed their cameras and equipment. I cannot imagine the courage it takes to objectively cover a snarling crowd who wants you dead. They are not paid enough.

We’ve all seen the aftermath. Five people are dead, including one policeman who was beaten to death by the so-called “Blue Lives Matter” crowd. Twitter finally decided that Trump was too dangerous to be allowed to remain on the platform. A variety of seditious insurrectionists and agitators were suspended and removed from various social media platforms. Helicopters overhead have been more numerous and frequent than before. Facebook banned Trump’s account. They’re putting an “unclimbable fence” around the Capitol, and the National Guard will be stationed in and around DC through the Inauguration.

Right-wingers left (or were forced off of) their social media accounts in droves, choosing to go with friendlier platforms like Gab and Parler, at least until Amazon Web Services terminated Parler’s account, making it very difficult for them to maintain enough capacity for all their hateful members.

The FBI and various state law enforcement agencies have been making arrests as they identify people – the last count of arrests I saw was 69 people out of the many thousands who were present. The House Homeland Security Committee is now asking the FBI and TSA to add participants of the insurrection to the no-fly list. Right-wing media like Faux News are still pushing the lie that there were Antifa members dressed as Trump supporters and they’re the ones who overran the Capitol. That lie is easily disproven since the insurrectionists are so proud of their insurrection that they keep posting their crimes to social media.

Thanks to those social media posts, many of those who posted their presence are finding that their neighbors and colleagues don’t much like traitors to the country, and so many of them are losing their jobs: CEOs, teachers, law enforcement officers, elected officials.

One QAnon-supporting Congresswoman live-tweeted Nancy Pelosi’s location to insurrectionists. This was an attempted coup, plain and simple. These people wanted to execute their political opponents and overthrow the democratically elected leadership. I am beyond pissed off.

This isn’t the end of it, of course. The crowd that did this last Wednesday considers it a successful trial run. They’ll be back. They already announced that they’re coming back around the 17th, through Inauguration Day.

I was really excited to live locally for a Presidential Inauguration, but the pandemic was already putting a kibosh on the traditional Inaugural Parade. Between that and the obviously dangerous events of last Wednesday, it’s looking more and more like there will be absolutely no public events to see. And even if there were, it seems like going across the Potomac to see them would be a terrible idea.

This is far from over. Trump incited this insurrection and needs to be removed from office sooner than his already-scheduled departure on the 20th, either by the 25th amendment or by impeachment and removal. His Sedition Caucus need to resign their seats in Congress: Ted Cruz (Tex.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), James Lankford (Okla.), Cynthia M. Lummis (Wyo.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Steve Daines (Mont.) John Neely Kennedy (La.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Mike Braun (Ind.) and Roger Marshall (Kan.).

The people who entered the Capitol need to be found, arrested, and prosecuted. There must be consequences,.

This isn’t over. Trump’s cult is still here, and they’re still dangerous. They want civil war. They want blood. They are not Americans, they are domestic terrorists.

I usually close my posts with a fun related question but I’m really not in the mood today. I’m still angry.

3/52

2004 Steven Was A Big Dummy

In April of 2004, I complained in a LiveJournal post that the $76.50 ticket price for a Prince concert was just too expensive. I was an idiot and a first-class buffoon. If I could time-travel, I would absolutely go on a tour of my stupid decisions, and I would repeatedly slap these younger stupid Stevens.

I did see Prince once, with Jade Walker and another friend. The year was 1997, and Prince was going by “The Artist” at the time. The show took place at the Miami Arena, a venue which has since been demolished and turned into a parking lot. The price for that ticket was a smidge over fifty bucks, and I would happily pay a much, much higher fee to see His Royal Purple Badness one more time.

I never had the chance to see David Bowie live. I didn’t really know how much I loved Queen until Freddie Mercury was already gone. I never saw Michael Jackson or George Michael. I missed Oingo Boingo’s touring days, although I did finally manage to see Danny Elfman in London.

Music is life. I say that so, so often on this blog, but it’s more than just a pithy slogan for me. Concerts are so much a part of my identity that I push through travel anxiety and a dislike of crowds to go to them over and over.

I went to 28 ticketed shows in 2019. In 2020, I went to seven.

Thanks to the pandemic, almost all the shows I wanted to see for the other nine months of last year were either canceled or postponed. It will be months before we can really do concerts again- there’s a sprinkling of new shows available at a few venues, but at greatly reduced capacity, and in a very different form than what I’m used to.

Now that vaccines are starting to be distributed, I’m more impatient than ever to get back to regular concert-going, and I have a not-really-very-short-list of artists that I would go far, far out of my way to see.

From the “I had a chance to see them, but circumstances kept me away from the show and I’m still mad about it” file:

  • Betty Who – She played downtown Orlando and I was otherwise engaged.
  • Ciel Gloss – She did a show in New York when I was there in December of 2019 and I couldn’t make it work.
  • Imagine Dragons – I actually had tickets to this show, and was unable to go at the last minute.
  • Mindy Gledhill – She played a Northern Virginia venue really close to here. I wasn’t here yet. Timing is everything.
  • Kesha – This is another tour that was canceled by the pandemic.
  • Janelle Monae – Another Orlando show that I am KICKING myself for not catching.

From the “I deeply respect their artistry and I really really really wanna see them live despite all the hype!” file:

  • Taylor Swift – Does Taylor Swift really need commentary from me?
  • Mavis Staples – This woman is a badass and she’s toured vaguely near me a few times and I really should have just made the drive.
  • P!nk – Pink is one of those shows that I really just should have ponied up the money to see when she played Orlando.
  • Lorde – I wonder if she’ll ever tour outside of New Zealand again. Damn, I hope so.
  • Carly Rae Jepsen – I actually saw her once, and the show was so good that I would absolutely see her again. If your opinion of her is based solely on “Call Me Maybe,” you should check out some of the other stuff on her five albums.

From the “I learned about this artist after their last tour concluded and then a pandemic happened and now I want to see them live so badly it probably looks like I have to pee” file:

  • Meg Myers – I was introduced to this artist by another friend, right after her tour in support of “Take Me To The Disco” ended. If I had a time machine…
  • Grendel – This band has been around for 20+ years already, but I was unaware of them until just recently, and I love what I’m hearing.
  • Marit Larsen – I’m not sure if Marit Larsen ever tours in North America- she’s from Norway and has mostly stuck around Europe and the Nordic countries. Maybe once it’s safe to fly long distances again.
  • Kelsea Ballerini – She’s a much newer artist with one song that got plastered all over the radio, but I’ve listened to more of her stuff and she’d be a blast to see live.
  • Ladyhawke – She’s another New Zealander, and I have no idea if she tours the US.
  • Jackie Venson – I first saw Jackie Venson on Austin City Limits, and she kicks ass.

I’m aware that most of the names above are in one particular genre of music, but I promise there’s other stuff on my radar. Don’t get me wrong- this is by no means a complete and unabridged list of who I want to see live- I’ve already got tickets to see eleven different shows later this year, and I’m watching carefully for announcements about others.

Music is life. And I miss living.

What concert do you most wish you’d seen when you had the chance?

2/52

Good Riddance, 2020.

The “Roaring 20s” have, thus far, been a giant wet fart.

For the last several years, I’ve wrapped up each year with an end of the year post. I typically list some of the cool stuff that happened in the preceding twelve months and look back at how I did on the goals I set for myself the previous year. The “cool stuff that happened” part of this post would barely fill a thimble.

As for my 2020 goals, they were written before we had any notion of the pandemic that would eat the heart of the entire year. Still, it’s worth looking back to see just how horribly Covid destroyed my goals this year.

2020 goal – make a firm decision about changing apartments and/or getting out of Florida.

This is the only goal that I can say was a resounding and intentional success. I escaped Florida over the summer and began to make my home in Northern Virginia by August.

2020 goal – Be healthier: Eat better, sleep more, and get some damn exercise, get out of the house more.

I’m going to call this a big failure. Lockdowns, comfort food, doom-scrolling, stress-based insomnia, and pandemic isolation were the watchwords this year. While I have tried to go outside on a regular basis, there’s only so much that I could really do.

2020 goal – Travel more. (Three out of state trips and one international trip.)

I didn’t make it out of the country again this year, but I managed to meet the domestic travel goal on a technicality despite the pandemic. One New York trip for work in March just days before lockdown began, one round-trip flight up to Virginia in late June to lock in my apartment, and then a train ride with my car when I moved up to Arlington in August. I had planned a few other trips for the year, but they all got kicked down the road:

  • My cousin postponed his west coast wedding celebration over this summer, and theoretically, we’ll give this a go next summer.
  • The Nashville concert got bumped to 2021, so that whole trip was nudged as well.
  • For the first time since 2003, I planned on going to DragonCon in Atlanta. I’m pretty sure this is the reason we had a pandemic, actually. My 2020 D*C membership was rolled over to 2021.
  • I still don’t know when I’m going to make it to the Waikiki Spam Jam.

2020 goal – Feed my inner introvert: Spend more time with books and less with little screens, whether they be my phone or my television.

I backslid mightily on the tv watching this year, but so did almost everyone. We were all stuck indoors so much that the screens became much more necessary. I did make my Goodreads reading goal despite having tremendous lapses in concentration. I cheated though, and many of my read titles were comic books instead of prose.

2020 goal – Write at least 52 posts in this blog, one per week.

This goal came about because I only wrote four blog posts all year in 2019. I thought that setting a more explicit goal than “write more” would help me out. In the beginning, it did- I managed to go a few months on the one-a-week path, but then the ennui of the pandemic took hold a bit. When I was sitting at home and every day was like the day before and the day after, I ran out of steam.

calendar showing post frequency of this blog for 2020

I decided on a whim to do NanoPoblano this year, and that’s why there are thirty posts in November. Taking part is NanoPoblano is the only reason I managed to meet this goal. Without the thirty posts in November, I wouldn’t have even completed half.

2020 goal – Listen to more music, live or otherwise.

In any normal year, this goal isn’t a hardship for me. I’m already compelled to go see live music. I managed to go to six live music events by March 1st, and then the lockdowns began. I watched show after show after show get erased from my calendar, either refunded or pushed off to the future. I’ve watched many, many livestreams of music, and I’ve started watching DJs do their thing on Twitch on a regular basis. I also had a bullet point goal about seeing more live Shakespeare, but the local Shakespeare theater has remained closed. I made up for it very slightly by watching some pre-recorded plays online.

For 2021, I’m not going to set goals.

I figured out a few years back that “New Year’s Resolutions” are terribly stupid- they always start from a point of good intention, but they reek of homework and most resolutions don’t really survive their first encounter with reality. As soon as I figured that out, I changed from “Resolutions” to “Goals” like the ones in my last few year-end recap posts.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the Covid-19 pandemic grinding 2020 to a halt, it’s that even well-intentioned goals are not feasible when the rest of the world has to stay home. I’m not going to set specific goals for my health, my sleep, or my travel- I’ll do what I can, but setting a concrete goal just seems pointless and disheartening.

I realized last year that setting a goal for concerts was useless- if there’s a chance for me to go see live music, I’m going to do it. Music is life. This way of thinking applies to several of my previous goals, as it turns out- setting a goal to do something I’m probably going to do anyway is just silly.

There’s one exception to my “no goals and no resolutions” stance, though- I’m going to try to do at least a blog a week again this year. I enjoyed NanoPoblano last month, and although I don’t always have much to say every week, I do enjoy writing here. I don’t want this blog to regress back to my 2019 levels, where I only yeeted out four posts in twelve months.

That makes this post 1/52. Here’s hoping that life returns to some semblance of normal in 2021.

Happy new year! Do you have any goals or resolutions this year?

Whamageddon Memorial

On the 24th of December, at 1:12 PM in the afternoon, I have ascended to Whamhalla. It’s my own fault, I suppose- I was listening to a Pandora holiday station, but I thought I was going to be safe because they were playing the likes of Tony Bennett and Gene Autry.

Good luck, my fellow Wham Warriors who are still in the game- just eleven hours remain on the East Coast!

#whamageddon

Mulled Wine on a Cold Day

Today is Pepper Day!   While Nano Poblano is only in November, Pepper Day is the 22nd day of every month, so it's extra Peppery!  Post something today.  A blog, a photo, a poem- anything at all! Tag it PepperDay!  Enjoy, and Happy Peppering!

A few weeks back, I mentioned the seasonal return of eggnog and Glühwein, and while I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my nog all this time, it wasn’t until a few days ago that I finally had a chance to crack open the bottle of Glühwein I picked up from Trader Joe’s.

A quick refresher about the beverage: Glühwein is mulled wine, served warm. I’ve talked about it a number of times on this blog. It’s usually part of my retelling of going to a Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) with friends.

I don’t think I’ve ever talked about sharing Glühwein with office-mates, though. I spent three Decembers working in a German office, and it was a semi-regular occurrence during the season that someone would heat up a bottle or two of Glühwein or Glögg on the stove, and then would summon everyone to the office kitchen to share in the drink. (Glögg is also mulled wine like Glühwein, but it’s from Sweden instead of Germany.)

We would linger around the kitchen and enjoy the drink and chat about absolutely anything. Sometimes there were seasonal treats, like Stollen, which I do not like at all. Even the Muslim guy who didn’t drink alcohol would still come to the kitchen and hang out. Technically, drinking at work was against the rules. I don’t feel bad about spilling the tea though, because the company no longer exists and it’s fairly unlikely anyone will get in trouble now.

Connoisseurs of Glühwein will tell you not to heat it in the microwave, since the delicate blend of spices can be easily damaged by that much rapid heat. Instead, you should pour your preferred drink into a pot and heat it gradually over the stove. Stir it often, and don’t let it come to a boil!

Once the drink is heated, pour it into an appropriate vessel to drink it. Coffee mugs are fine, but I chose to use my glass from the 2013 Kuchlbauer Christmas Market in Abensberg. In hindsight, I wish I had thought to keep one souvenir glass from every Christkindlmarkt I attended over the years, but I only ever brought this one home.

Have you had Glühwein this year?

53/52! Goal achieved!