The Digital Zoo

By Eric Le Roy

Content 18+ (obscene language)

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Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

There are a number of things in the ‘developed’ nations that everybody hates but evidently are powerless to do anything about. They are: banks, insurance companies, and customer service.

‘Service’. What service?? We are plagued with euphemisms in our culture. You pay a fee to attend some buffet lunch function and they call it a ‘donation’. It is not a donation; it is a fee. If you don’t believe me, try refusing to make the ‘donation.’ Go to McDonald’s and they refer to you as their ‘guest’. Really? If you invite me to dinner at your house (as your guest), am I expected to pay? If so, then I am your customer, not your guest.

Nor do banks provide ‘services.’ Not anymore. They charge you for everything from asking for a simple balance in writing to withdrawing your own money from one of their ATM machines. In other words, you are letting them hold YOUR money to make THEIR various investments, and so forth, but they nickel and dime you to death for accessing your own account.

There was a time, long ago in America, when you received a bank statement monthly with all the information you could hope for, including a list of all your transactions. Moreover, you would receive an envelope full of personal checks which had been cleared and were being returned to you as your receipts. Maybe they still do all this in the USA, but somehow I doubt it; I am sure that a fee is now attached because that is the direction the industry has been heading for a long time.

I ended my account (at their invitation, after a scathing letter I wrote) with a very well-known bank here in Varna, Bulgaria, because of the excessive demands they were placing on customers (re: me). First, they stopped sending phone messages informing me when a transaction had occurred (I work freelance and get paid all the time, and therefore I wanted to keep track of who sent the money and who didn’t), then they started adding on additional expenses for every little nudge, nod, and wink.

On top of that, when you entered the bank to conduct any sort of business, you simply took a seat and waited. There were usually two girls dealing with customers, and some of these customers took all day. I have no idea what they were doing, but I do know that huge forests fell to the chainsaw and axe to accommodate the marathons of paperwork required. So then, at about 12.00 or 12.30, one of the girls would shut down her station, making eye contact with no one, and go to lunch for an hour, leaving one person there to accommodate a long line of customers right in the heart of the day. It is the STUPIDEST god-fucking policy I have ever seen.

Why abandon your customers in the middle of the day -- their only chance to do business -- so that some bored employee can go to LUNCH? Is this a business or what? Look, I do NOT have an MBA in business, nor am I some impossible-to-please crank, but for the LOVE OF CHRIST there has to be a better way than this.

The last straw was when I received $600 Covid pay from the US government and processed it through the bank. The amount I received was $559. So the various banks it passed through (Sofia and then the bank in Varna) stole $41. And the reason these stinking bastards do it, is simply because THEY CAN. The Board of Directors or Shareholders or whatever you call these rapacious cocksuckers stop at nothing in searching for new ways to fleece their customers.

So do me a favor and let’s just drop the word ‘service’ from the vocabulary. It no longer applies. It is part robots, part digitization, part greedy ass-munching motherfuckers in corporate offices, and part our arrogant ‘In Your Face’ culture.

It was the Americans who, long ago in the foggy past, developed this idea of customer service in the first place, wasn’t it? And a neat, at least ‘let’s-pretend-we-like-you’ service it truly was. You walked into a restaurant or cafe, and the first thing the waitress did was plonk down glasses of ice cold water for everyone. Most of the time you didn’t even drink it, but there it was. As I recall, nobody ever died from guzzling that water on a hot day, which leads me to believe that the bottled water industry is an overflowing liquid bowel movement perpetrated by crooks using scare tactics on the public.

Ah, the American past. Go to a gas station and the boy would come running out like he was lost in the wilderness looking for his momma and, imagining that you were her, he would shout ecstatically “Filler up Sir?” -- and then set about wiping your windshield like he was masturbating a bull. Afterwards, he would check the oil, wiping the goo off the stick to see what kind of shape the inner beast was in.

Ask somebody to do that now and he’d tell you to sit on it and spin.

Pay for a cup of coffee and they would give you as many refills as you wanted. If you were in a restaurant, the waiter/waitress, after serving the meal, would come along and ask you if everything was OK. The check/bill was delivered promptly because the waitress had the sense to know that her tip was at stake. And another little piece of history. They made eye contact with the customers. They didn’t stand there picking their noses and looking at everything but the job at hand. And they weren’t stoned. Go to any beach bar/restaurant in Florida nowadays and you won’t find a waitress who isn’t stoned. Order a blow job with sour cream on top and they won’t bat an eye.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. I am just some disgruntled old gramps with a bone to pick with the world.

Maybe. But with everything I am saying about past preferences, there is a truth-based recollection, OK, an underlying nostalgia if you will, that is not formulated entirely upon fabrication or ludicrous visions of some Golden Age that never happened. To be sure, back then there were as many greaseballs standing in front of pinball machines and spiteful gossips hanging out the linen to dry as there are noxious people everywhere today. Two world wars had been fought, Jim Crow racism was going strong, women were domestic servants, and gays were hiding in the shadows behind the public toilets. People were no better then than now, if we are speaking of the general run of things. And believe this: behind closed doors, it was not a Leave It to Beaver or a Father Knows Best world. It was a world of private sorrow and anguish to go with the joy and happiness they coexisted with. If you have ever seen the TV series Mad Men that was popular some years back, you get the idea. People were smoking cigarettes as fast as they could light them and hitting on their secretaries with a horny vengeance.

And yet...and yet...there were certain lines that most people didn’t cross, and now those lines have disappeared utterly. Is it too much of a reach to say that a certain basic decency, a capacity to feel shame and guilt when appropriate, has been misplaced along the way?

Let me give you an example. On Halloween (which nobody even in those conservative and very religious times seemed to regard as a satanic ritual, act of cultural appropriation, or orgy of symbolic racism and sexism), we used to go out in my neighborhood (unattended by adults) with our monster suits and little sacks to be filled with candy...plus a ritual bar of soap, which we almost never used. The sack was for the treats and the soap was for a ‘trick’, meaning that if the people whose doors we knocked on weren’t home or refused to give us our treat (it never happened) we were at liberty to rub soap on their windows. Well, hell, it was ‘vandalism’ I guess, but the soap would come off, no problem.

In fact, the best trick I had ever heard of came from my grandfather himself. Apparently there were some neighbors down the street that none of the kids liked. So my grandpa and his friend decided to trick them. What they did was fill a bag full of shit and set fire to it right in front of the front door. Then they rang the bell and ran for cover. When the grumpy Scrooge of a homeowner came out and saw the smoldering flames and smoke he started stomping on it to put it out, and of course the next thing you know his shoes were covered in shit. That must have been back in 1916 or something (my gramps was born in 1906), which proves that kids were just as snotty and ornery back then. Grandpa was still laughing about it in 1979, his last year on earth.

But in our neighborhood Halloween was harmless enough. Until one night. There was a family named Bailey down below us. The father was a lawyer, but the kids were no good. Simon and Chris. One Halloween some cars got spray-painted, and it turned out that Chris Bailey was the culprit. It was an act of extreme meanness and viciousness and very costly to the owners of the vehicles (though maybe their insurance, which was more about fair play back then, covered it.) And it wasn’t long after that when we heard on the news about some pervert putting razor blades into the candied apples and passing them out. Kids were taking a bite and getting hair lips. Thus, just like that, mischief had become evil. It’s been that way ever since.

People started locking their doors and not leaving their keys in their cars, as they had done before. It all changed. And the innocence -- the idea that you could let your kids go out walking in the darkness of Halloween, that you could leave your keys in the car, and that there was no need to lock the doors to your house -- was all gone too. I was alive then, as now, and I am in a position to tell you.

So yes, time plays tricks with your mind, and maybe your mind never was the most reliable part of your anatomy to begin with. But I think it is founded on the sense that the past is about all any of us have to remember that we can truly call our own personal property. So, sure, we sometimes remember things, no less heartfelt for representing the predictable predicament of old age, which stems from a gravelly forgetfulness; they also come from a longing for the unlived and unfulfilled elements of our lives to find resolution somehow as the years pad the human brain with pillows of eternal amnesia. Nevertheless, it is commonly known, and to me exceedingly interesting, that people can recall in minute detail events, conversations, and intimate moments that unfolded 50 years ago. But they draw a blank if you ask them if they remembered to take their medicine after lunch. And, by the way, what was for lunch Paw-Paw? Dunno.

The doctors can explain it scientifically I am sure, but I believe that our ‘remembrance of things past’ remains so sharp because it is where we would like to be: somewhere you walked without limping, didn’t have hairs growing out of your ears and noses, needed only one bowel movement instead of three to start the day, and were embarrassed in the classroom when the teacher ordered you to stand up and recite the Gettysburg Address and you didn’t know what to do with the raging and totally unexpected boner bulging in your pants like a foal about to rupture its mother’s placenta. A young colt, no less. Ah, those were the days.

And this vision is a mixture of what was and what wasn’t and what should have been and what could never have been. Anyway it all fixes itself in your mind in a way that finally makes sense, like wonderful voices coming out of a radio late at night,1956, as you lay in bed, covers pulled up to your chin, and listened to the rain and to Cincinnati Redleg broadcaster Waite Hoyte describing a baseball game that he said was taking place in Brooklyn, New York, but which, even then, you knew was being played in eternity.

In baseball, they had double-headers back then. You could spend the whole day at the ballpark (two full games for a single price of admission) or just in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon and while away the groggy late summer hours, kicking back while the so-so Cincinnati Redlegs gave you 18 innings of superb entertainment against the equally mediocre Pittsburgh Pirates.

The 50’s and 60’s rejected me in a sense -- I was never a high-flying stud muffin in either era -- rather an anemic child in the one and a jittery teenager in the other --and yet I pine for those absolutely different decades. Strangely enough, it’s the ultra-straight and bland and boring 50’s that I miss more than the 60’s with all its wonderful idealism and creativity -- but what, alas, I now view as a lot of posturing. (What I see in the ‘Woke’ movement has made me realize that the 60s were full of that same kind of crap too.) The proof of it is that the vast majority of those ‘rebels’ -- who for a while actually believed what they were saying -- ended up behind desks in corporate culture. And in fact, another thing I remember is, even with all the communal living and free love ideas, it was always the coolest guys with the best stash of weed and line of anti-establishment patter who ended up knocking the bottom out of the coolest and hottest ‘earth mothers’ with the sexiest tie-dye gear and love beads. So in the end it was just a lot of banal American virtue-signalling and revolutions made of bong hits and Lincoln Logs. The answer was blowin’ in the wind, all right, but today we just call it air pollution.

Moreover, strange as it may now seem, the sexually liberating 60’s with all those hippy girls at Woodstock with their tits flopping about now seems far less seductive than my memory of full bodied, mature Martinsburg, West Virginia, women sitting in cafes with darkness disappearing into their voluptuous and often ample cleavage or ‘plumps’ held onto the foot by a single dangling toe.

I have no idea why this is, because I am not squeamish or old-fashioned about sex at all. In fact, I visit the porno sites often enough that they send me promos. But that is just fun and fantasy and as often as not a morbid fascination with the hilariously grotesque. I mean, you wouldn’t believe what some of those people can do with a donkey or elephant or snake, just to name a few of their paramours and mistresses, and what is even more amazing is that there are enough decadent voyeurs (like me, I guess) who tune in to gape at the gasping, splashing festivities, so that the sites continue to churn them out. (I notice that everyone nowadays seems to have become an anal fanatic. Not me. Even though, as Yeats wrote, “A woman can be proud and stiff when on love intent/But love has pitched his mansion in the place of excrement/For nothing can be sole or whole that has not been rent.” -- I am just as stiff in my reply: “Good on Ye, W.B., but for me asses are for shitting, vaginas for fucking and licking, and, at 72 years of age I doubt I am going to head for the new wave rim-job parlours any time soon.”

Back in those days, they had stuff like drive-in movies (a lot of groping and poking in the intervals between the double feature), and there were restaurants like Shoney’s and the A&W Rootbeer (which specialized in footlong hotdogs) where the girls came gliding out to your car in short skirts to take your order. It was fun, and it was America back in the day when the New York Yankees (love ‘em or hate ‘em) ruled the roost and most people still lived in small towns.

The milkshakes were real. ‘Frozen custard’ and TV dinners were just forming concepts in business-buzzing minds. Christmas trees were made of real pine, and it was a hell of a job getting one in the house, making it stand up straight, and then decorating it. But the sap rich hulk was genuine -- not artificial. And it was better in many, many ways than the disconnected, illusory and oddly yet profoundly sad lives so many people lead now. But try convincing your average tekkie of today of that and he will look at you like you belong in a rubber room. And dismiss you from his thoughts as he sails off into the brave new world of cyber cobwebs and illusion.

And so I ramble about the ‘good old days’ like many an old fogie before me. And I realize -- because I really do try to make it my concern to think about such things -- that maybe my nostalgia for the 50’s only reflects a growing conservatism and a yearning for a time that ‘made sense.’ I mean -- without having a thing in the world against change as long as it seems to serve a positive purpose and improve on the past -- I have to confess that I really don’t want to live in a society I no longer recognize and which, in many ways, seems out of control and more desperate and frantic all the time. And more malevolent and threatening. I am starting to view the world the way an Alzheimer’s patient sees the warder in the white coat who comes to march him away from the airport terminal to the lock-up for no reason he can understand. In other words, down the bare hallway to his room at the nursing home. Laugh all you will but it takes a stern mind and strong spine to insist on your own sanity in a world indisputably sordid that keeps telling you you’re nuts.

I don’t want a planet full of cyber bullies and teenage suicides, a world of sex change and cosmetic surgery, a world where men and women advertise their dicks and pussies on dating sites, and what is not plastic is digital and what is not digital is plastic. Give me instead the Sunday double-header and the footlong hotdog showered in catsup and mustard and slaw and real A&W Root Beer (the kind you will never taste, my friend).

People then, you see, could be treacherous, but their treachery usually had a motive behind it. It wasn’t madness. And rarely was it rushed. It was like...being the sheriff of a small Missouri town having coffee at the local cafe at 7.a.m.and not knowing what the day would bring, nor caring if it happened. Of course he was aware that down the road at the State Pen, some guy was going to get electrocuted in about 20 minutes. And the Cardinal vs Cubs game would be at Wrigley Field later on if anybody wanted to hear the broadcast. Aw shucks. “Hey Martha, how ‘bout another cup of that hot coffee and a plate of flapjacks?” And someone would put a quarter in the jukebox. It would be Connie Francis or Patsy Cline.

So it means that I have reached a sort of deadend, doesn’t it? I have reached the stage where I understand that never, never, never again will I run to a mountain top without my face turning heart-attack purple, and never, never, never again will a dazzling young woman look at me with hungry eyes made of honey. Never again, and it twists in me like a knife. It is death before death, and you just hope that nobody is watching your apoplectic despair.

Oh, of course I could find young women in a ‘cabin’ (massage parlour) as I did in Moscow, and even make friends with them. Regular visits. Girls from places like you could never hope to find on a map. Armenia, Uzbekistan. Swarthy, sex-dripping girls. Sexual friendship built on a small (and forgettable) monetary transaction. Sweet and complete on the day. But it was only a deal. Then they went home to lean, muscular men covered in tattoos and speaking inscrutable foreign languages. And that’s where their hearts were.

So, as I say, it is a longing that has NOTHING to do with race or gender or identity politics, nor does it reflect negative feelings for people with alternate lifestyles.-- not at all; on the contrary, it is the wish for order and ceremony and respect. A simpler world where things seemed to make sense. I am sure that, for all the hooting and jeering one might expect from the young when I voice such opinions, these cocksure specimens themselves will age eventually into a similar mentality. They too will get tired of being dragged and pushed into a labyrinth of increasing abstraction whose inventors have not the slightest idea where any of it is going.

Tekkies don’t care about the ultimate implications of the world they are inventing because they simply don’t bother to think about such things, and their minds have never been trained even to begin to fathom any of it. Just like the guy who invented the atomic bomb (Oppenheimer, I believe). He just said, “OK. here’s the fucking bomb. Do what you want with it.”

I want a world where I don’t have to think twice about the political implications of the word ‘rainbow’ and then reluctantly decide not to use it, lest someone get the wrong idea. But that’s just me.

This article started out talking about customer service (or rather the increasing lack of it) and to that theme I now wish to return. Briefly.

I smelled a rat the first time I picked up a phone (many years ago now) and heard a recorded voice reading a menu of options. Before that, you just dialed a number and waited for someone at the switchboard (usually a woman with a friendly voice: “Good morning, Happy Hardware, Dee-Dee speaking, how may I help you?”) to ask your business and then put you through to Mr. Weatherbee at extension 123. The fellow would answer and you would ask and he would answer and then say “Anything else?” and if there wasn’t you ended the call with a big thank you, problem solved for better or for worse. Honest to Christ, it was that simple.

Then it started going to hell, increment by increment. More menus, connected by emptily cheerful robot voices and the kind of elevator music that seemed expressly designed to spawn insanity, igniting mental agony, interrupted periodically by the same comedian from the tomb in whose mechanical reminders born of corporate giddiness and expressed in sepulchral monotones seemed in a strange way to jeer at your existence. By means of this kind of mental waterboarding, one grew to understand fully the joyless joy of a party of CEOs and their shareholders, the inane babbling and jargon words and phrases, the excessive politeness, driven by a pernicious and all-encompassing selfishness and ruthlessness, all summed up and expressed once and for all in the deadbeat, deadhour recording of ‘We care about your question…” -- I am convinced that many mass murderers began feeling their deadly impulses after hours of being put on hold by Corporate America. It truly makes me wonder if people who finally lose it in a really messy way were sick to begin with (OK maybe Jeffrey Dahmer was) or if they just became like that after interminable periods of facing the Full Monty of an absurd corporate-tekkie universe.

The requirement for listening to ‘options’ that are really not options at all plus rejection in all areas of office, street, and home, can lead to an explosion, to mayhem. In the past we had Murder Incorporated and white ladies who fainted all the time and had nervous breakdowns, but we didn’t have mass murder and mass suicide on our plates. The world has come to this. Does it have anything to do, not with crazy shooting galleries in public places as such, but with the mass abstraction of our lives and the fact that we are just the puny offspring of Big Data and the Big Algorithm?

The saving grace of the early menus was that finally a (recorded) voice would come on the line and say “If you wish to speak to an operator, please dial zero or just hold the line.” That’s what I would always do, because I honestly cannot recall a single time when following the menu helped. And there is a good reason for that, and that good reason is at the heart of all the modern problems of Help and Support: NOBODY IS THERE. And if the non-existent Help and Support don’t work (which they never do) then you are advised to turn to the COMMUNITY for assistance in resolving your dilemma. But of course the Community is full of remote souls who don’t know Shit from Shinola either. You can’t talk to them directly, for one thing, and, for all they have to offer, you might as well be asking a Congo head-shrinker how to get to the North Fucking Pole.

It’s because the corporate bigwigs make some sort of analysis from the Big Data devices and arrive at general conclusions regarding general problems for which they devise algorithms to offer general assistance. The human element disappears because the robots and recordings save the Big Dragons all kinds of cash. And fuck the people who used to have jobs in customer service. What’s that got to do with anything when the Big Jackoff Shareholders want to increase the ‘Margin’ ??

But the trouble with the ‘common problem’ solution is that real people often have particular and personal problems. If it were just a ‘common’ problem like how to wipe your ass or pick your nose, practically everybody would figure it out sooner or later.. The reason they are seeking help is PRECISELY because the problem is begging for specific, possibly expert, but always HUMAN attention. NOT ring-around-the-rosy with some ROBOT. But the corporate big boys (and girls) JUST DON’T CARE.

And that is what has happened to customer service in America and probably the UK too, which in reality has become just a smaller, just as fucked up version of America except that they still toast their bread on one side only and insist on spelling “favor” with a fucking ‘u’. It is happening everywhere that someone can dig up a computer.

I had a recent experience with a company that transfers money from payer to payee. It is a big big business. I tried to join up when I was still living in Russia but the questions were so complicated and so endless that the woman helping me (the boss’s personal secretary and VERY knowledgeable in such matters) and I finally just gave up. So I forgot about it and time passed. A year to be exact. Then one fine morning I received a message saying that my account was about to expire and I needed to do something about this. Account? What account?

I tried to absorb the ‘news’, but to no avail. So I decided to ‘reactivate’ this ‘account’ and move on from there. Impossible, said the robots. Therefore, I decided to close the account and simply open a new one. Impossible, said the robots. If you close your account you are never allowed to start a new one. Strictly one and done. So I switched from one email address to another and changed my name. Bingo. Except, several weeks into my new and felicitous relationship with this company, I got word that restrictions had been placed on my account until I updated my personal information. If this were suddenly so important, I wondered, why had they allowed me to open my account in the first place? And there was more trouble every time I tried to upload my information, including address and proof of a current bank account, I kept getting told -- by the robot -- that I had done it incorrectly and needed to try again.

I have limited computer skills, I confess. After all, I am leading, for all intents and purposes, a posthumous existence now and did not grow up in the Age of Clicks and Apps. I know enough to run my business and have conversations with ghosts, but little else. However, I have living friends who DO understand all this bullshit, and even THEY couldn’t figure out what to do.

Communicating by email or telephone was IMPOSSIBLE. The ‘Service’ and ‘Help’ buttons led you absolutely nowhere. When I sent messages to this company, all I received was No Reply Automated Fuckery. It was NO HELP at all.

And it was during this miserable experience that I confirmed a solid lesson about life that I had learned long ago but evidently kept trying to forget. You see, in the developed nations, and in the US in particular, we always think we can get help. Like the old film “Ghostbusters” where the guy in the song keeps asking “Who ya gonna call?” -- “G-H-O-S-T-B-U-S-T-E-R-S !!!!”

The idea behind it, of course, is that there is always going to be somebody that you can get in touch with. The plumber, the fire department, the police, the sex worker who will make house calls. And it is why Religion will never go away completely, will always still be relevant. It is because people need the Ultimate Rescuer. We dread having to face life and death alone. Even the worst is endurable if there is a hand to hold.

When there is no Ultimate Rescuer, we are in the hole. Solitary confinement. All alone. And no telling when they will let us out. And in a strange, bizarre way, this is exactly how I felt when I was trying, with increasing frustration and fury, to figure out the robot-saturated system where it was impossible to hear, to connect with, a single reassuring human voice. Or even a cold, nasty one. A voice. As Richard the Third supposedly cried when he was about to be hacked to death at Bosworth and wanted to escape: “A horse !! My kingdom for a horse!” Well, I have no kingdom, but if I did I would have offered it for the sound of a human voice.

And then you begin to see where it’s all going. The phantom human will become more remote, the robotic noises (and even they are getting harder to find) more adept at imitating what seemed life-like once, but in the end you will still be sitting there with no answer to the same question that in 1958 could have been resolved by Dee-Dee and Mr. Weatherbee in 3 minutes.

There is no help. I remember some years ago in the darkness of a winter evening in Moscow looking for a bookstore in New Arbatskaya. People were coming and going, huddled in their winter coats, and suddenly a tremendous sense of fear gripped me. I thought to myself: “What would it be like if I had nowhere to go? What if I had to spend this frozen night in the street?” It’s the same feeling I got when I kept trying to do what the algorithm was asking me but not knowing how. In the end, after about three weeks of utter exasperation, I simply guessed right and uploaded what they wanted, the exact size and bright enough print. But if asked, I don’t know if I could even remember how to do it again. Once more I would be on the frozen streets of cyberspace.

And I still -- to this very day -- have never been able to communicate directly with a real person who works for this company. Does such an entity exist?

So this is the world we have inherited, the one we are being held hostage in. The tekkies all think it’s wonderful, but the truth is that people are living longer and fewer babies are being born.At least in the ‘developed’ countries, that is. And what this means is that the world is pulling back from the aged even as their numbers increase, that life is becoming more of a blur,, that blind speed is the essence, and that the ultimate concern decisions are being made by fools who would never understand the term ‘ultimate concern.’

Is it not possible for someone to at least create an option like it was in the old days for people 75 years old and beyond who neither can nor wish to cope with the endless array of gadgets and apps they are inundated with? Can’t they spare minimum wage to hire a human being if only to say “Hang in There! I don’t know what to do either, but I am on your side, my friend!” -- Not possible in corporate America? Such would corrupt the Bottom Line?

I keep hoping that sooner or later one of the bright boys or girls in the high offices will hear a bell go off in their heads, and they will remember that the idea of customer service is to offer warm assistance. With a human touch and an adequate bedside manner. “Can I help you Ma’am? Filler up, sir?”

Not pushing people further and further into a technological maze and essentially just telling them all to Sod Off.

Because when that happens, it drives you, psychologically, to the end of your limits, a frozen Arbatskaya where you know of no address, and there is no radio with a voice in it -- that of Waite Hoyte, for example, the great Yankee pitcher who was a pal and drinking buddy of Babe Ruth -- tell you that it’s the bottom of the 8th and the score is Redlegs 5 Pirates 3.

Then you are truly on your own, like a rolling fucking stone. Digital Paradise.

A paradise where seething resentment and out-of-control hatred breeds like the gardens of deadly viruses that look so enigmatic and maybe beautiful -- as abstract art -- under the microscopes, and then chomp down and cling.

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