a jingle writer with an existential crisis

The hippies next door are making costumes. Spray painting fairy wings silver in the yard, and I imagine what it must look like from above. If I had a drone.

Later that night, the one guy who lives there is wearing a hat that looks like a lampshade even before he twists some switch and activates the LEDs inside, making it a glowing tie-dyed mushroom. One of the girls is next, to parade her surreal creation around. A sort of derby monstrosity, with what looks like from here to be fish bowls glued to the top.

She is stepping inside the house, cursing the tiny dog which has come to rest, naturally, right in the door jam while she tries to negotiate the correct angle for bringing this giant saucer shaped hat inside.

The clouds in the Midwest in the summer are astounding. Storm clouds. I tell my daughter to be here, be now, to have fun and be excited. I am giving this speech in response to her defiance, while I know that the defiance is just her modeling things she sees in the two adults in the room, and it makes me wish things were easier. That I had been nicer, that one time that we had more time to be alone, just the two of us. But that’s kids, they wreck you even as you pour your love into them.

I have been to parties like the hippies are going to, but always I felt alone, like I was never around my people, like I had to prove my value somehow, my reason to be there.

The clouds don’t need a reason, I think this, and far off there is the sound of slow and rolling thunder, or fireworks, or war.

Dear Brother With Whom I Disagree On So Many Things,

I am thankful this Memorial Day that I am able to text you. That no matter how much we disagree, you are there to respond. You have returned, unlike so many others who have not. You went away to war and pounded sand for five years but then you came back, and today I recognize how lucky I am because not everyone gets to feel this way.

Love, Your Big Brother

Deep Fakes

He sent the video clips and the speech that he'd prepared for her to the service. It was only $49. They were running a special this Christmas; one deep fake with the words of your choice said by the person of your choosing. He did it because he missed her. The only reason he’d even heard of this was because someone at work had showed him this clip of that famous Israeli actress saying she liked to munch pussy. The one that had blown up about a year ago and no matter what she did no one believed that wasn’t her until a forensic analyst came forward and pointed out some of the problems and the people who were still paying attention at that point exonerated her, while the rest of the world thought she was a bit of a lesbian, which wasn’t the worst thing when you were trying to continue to land roles in action movies into your late thirties. But, anyhow, because the guy who had showed him this video was something of a connoisseur of this phenomenon he took the time to point out to him how nothing in the video made it look like this whole thing had been composited and post-processed by an AI. After the net had got sick of pasting Nicholas Cage and Nick Offerman’s face onto everything, they moved on, and all the while they were getting better, so by this point they were practically indistinguishable from reality. They moved on to rewriting history, from the Moon Landings, to Jonestown, to the Holocaust. Some black nationalists who got really good at it started filming enough realistic looking clips of Malcom X in the White House that it had by this point moved from being just a line in a song to a movement. He sent them the material on Sunday night and by Monday morning when he woke up he already had the file waiting in his inbox. It was two minutes long. She apologized for everything she had said after she walked out. She asked for him back. She said she didn’t mean it when she said he didn’t get her. She told him she loved him, and she asked him to consider if he’d ever have her back. He liked what they had done with it. He felt not like the pathetic psycho he had pictured feeling like. He felt empowered. He liked to see himself considering his response.


...one of the terrible features of the pandemic was that you tried to put the pandemic out of your mind and then you ran the risk of actually putting it out of your mind and forgetting to be prepared; finding yourself in a situation where you didn't have a mask or were too close to someone or had been in a closed restroom area and could just feel the skin on the back of your neck crawling at the idea that you had been exposed...

So you're telling me you're surprised that the company whose business model is to allow people to create curated versions of their own realities is creating a curated version of their own reality and selling that instead of the truth to their advertisers?

  • Facebook lies about it's advertising impressions.
  • The sun rises.
  • The shogun is dead.

All of these are true.

Baxter had three sisters, two of which were several years older than him. When he was twelve, and in the habit of staying up late with the Internet on, streaming whatever it was this week, Moroccan pop or Haitian Jazz, he would catch glimpses of both of them as they snuck back in from their high school escapades. During the day they largely ignored him. He had the notion that there had been a time where they had taken more than a passing interest in him, this memory going way back of them on the porch playing peek a boo in the light pastel dresses that now lay stuffed in one or another of the wardrobes in the attic, in the hopes that baby Lucy would wear them someday.


The tart but not sweet taste of the Zestar apple Is something I never enjoyed before moving to Minnesota. That so much taste could be contained within a single bite. Now I saw the reason for it being our national fruit, if you could ever say we really have such a thing. And yet most of the country eats Red Delicious. Fibrous, chalky, flavorless, missionary with the lights off and a thick condom on, No wonder we all are losing our minds. If only more of America knew about good apples, Or good rice, Or good anything. We have been deprived of so much of our history. Trained like rats to crave hot dogs, and Uncle Ben's, and oxy, By a process both expedient and intentional. God Save America, And bring me another apple 🍎

Epitaphs for the Digital Age

Here lies Jim, who kept all his devices well charged.

Here lies Amy, who always had good ‘grams.

Here lies Paul, who knew just what to Google.

Here lies Andrew, may his body nourish the fungal substrate he was buried in.

Here lies Sarah, who kept the JIRA board clean.

Something of a feeling of normalcy today, and I fear it, because it feels like me getting used to this thing, my resolve wearing down, my will beyond being frayed and now it's just gone slack and attenuated and sort of weightless like you see in all those movies about space.

I got a jog in. We got a walk in. Talked to Mom.

Made Skyline for dinner out of the can so it felt like a special thing and not “what we do now because we can't get anything fresh anymore...”

She sat at the stop sign watching the scene of emergency vehicles clustered around the community building. The lights and color were all smudged from the rain on her windshield. A man in an orange medic's jumpsuit knelt on the ground and she could see him rifling through a large medical kit. She turned on the radio. The car had one of those old manual dials so you could actually tune the stations in and out as slowly as you so chose. She swept through a piece of Mexican Tehano music. The squelch of the signal was suddenly very loud. The wind outside had grown stronger, so much so that just a few seconds later a large gust whipped over the trees and flattened a sign advertising antacids on sale outside a small convenient store on the corner. What a strange thing to advertise, she thought to herself. A few more turns and there it was in crisp detail: the trial. Everyone was listening, it was all she over-heard wherever she went. But it went over her head, especially on the radio. What did one man’s guilt have anything to do with how things were going to turn out for her? It all felt a bit pervy, to tell you the truth, and to think that no matter what anyone did it wasn’t going to change anything about what had happened to those kids. She would rather listen to country music, she thought, as she tuned towards that identifiable residence on the high end of the dial, to get to which she had to travel through two more broadcasts of that same live courtroom feed. So they were all broadcasting it. She hoped the country song was good. She needed it to be good. Otherwise she would be start thinking about all those kids again and it would start to turn her stomach. The world was going to shit. Over by the community center, they were bringing someone out on a stretcher. She made the left turn, finally, and moved along on her way to buy groceries.