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Rooting for the Apocalypse: A Multimedia Novel of Life in a Dying Empire

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Rooting for the Apocalypse — Chapter 4: Murder on the Orient Depressed

Felipe is passed out in what we call the captain’s chair. It looks like the chair you’d sit in if you were captaining a starship. He’s snoring monstrously. His snore mingles with the drone of the surrounding air conditioners, a drone that never stops in the summer, in the heat, that comes in through our open windows. The drone is monstrous. Felipe’s shirt is ripped open and his belly hangs out, jiggling with triplets. His fly is open. His belly is monstrous. I put a newspaper over his face. It rattles with the snores and then is blown away by a grunt. I put another newspaper over his crotch. It too knocks away, for reasons I don’t want to think about.

Charlie runs down the stairs, black paws a pitter-patter. He rams my leg and nuzzles as though his life depends on it, which it does. I go to the kitchen, three steps away in a rowhome, and scoop some cat food into Charlie’s bowl. Charlie is greedy. He rams the scoop as I feed him, knocking some of the food back into the bag.

“You lit…

Rooting for the Apocalypse — Chapter 3: Shut the fuck up, Lacy

No one really sleeps in the summers here. The neighbors—more neighbors, other neighbors, so many neighbors like eggs in a crate—are having a party. Samantha keeps telling everyone how drunk she is. Lacy used to be crazy in her twenties, like so crazy, but damn her thirties have really mellowed her out. Good for you, Lacy. Derek—are people still called Derek these days?—he’s showing everyone YouTube videos on his phone. Life of the party.

I watch over them. My room juts like a balcony. I am a dictator, addressing a disinterested crowd. I am a silhouette. I open the blinds. They don’t notice. I turn on the lights, revealed. They don’t notice. I think I about yelling at them. Shut the fuck, seems like a pretty reasonable argument. It’s four a.m. I just think it really loud—shut the fuck up. They don’t.

A silverfish crawls across the wall. I monitor his progress.

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Rooting for the Apocalypse — Chapter 2: Definitely guilty of pre-crime

Zak is playing Fallout 4 when I make my way downstairs. He’s naked except for a dish towel. It’s good that he’s skinny; less surface area for the heat to get into. He can hide in his skinniness and let the heat slink past. Dark circles hang around his eyes. I can tell he hasn’t slept all night. His curly mustache wilts in the humidity. His long black hair is a sheening morass.

“Do you know where the nearest gun store is?” I ask.

His gaze doesn’t waver from the screen. “You aren’t killing the neighbors.”

“Of course not. I’m going to wound them, lightly. So they know I mean business.”

“Don’t be a buzzkill. Remember when we were young and partied all night and got drunk and yelled and shit. We were loud as shit and no one ever killed our buzz.”

“But we’re not younger. And they’re not younger. They’re older than we are. I know because they won’t shut up about how old they all are now.”

“Just chill.”

“I was thinking of going over there. Just knocking on their door and asking to be …

Rooting for the Apocalypse — Chapter 1: Heat

This a rotten summer. The heat gets into everything. It’s not a dry heat, like California. This is a wet, hot, stinking Philadelphia heat. Jungle over desert, motherfucker. You take a shower and never get dry, pores picking up where the faucet left off. Your clothes stick, and your fingers, stick, and the sheets stick, and cling as you roll around in the hot, wet, dark, heat of the night. The sheets stain yellow from the sweat.
My bedroom is the size of a trailer. It just barely fits the bed, a twin (would you really put twins in this?), and I have to scooch around the side pressing my back against the wall to get to the head of it. The ceiling is high and there are two windows that bring in light and air and the neighbors’ conversations. Kristy is thinking of buying a grill. She’s concerned about a rash on her vagina. Their voices echo in the convolutions of my brain.
I sleep with my head reversed—over by the foot of the bed rather than the head of it. My little round fan is propp…

San Francisco Fever Dream

At exactly midnight I land in the bizarre fever dream of San Francisco. My Lyfts keep cancelling and when I snag one he goes to the Departures gate instead of arrivals and I'm slapped with a no-show fine of $5. I chat with a robot in the app, who waives the fee based on my good behavior in the past, though not without a note of admonishment. At last a Lyft takes the bait of my dangling e-dollars, and I hop in a Line (shared ride) headed for downtown.

Downtown San Francisco at one in the morning is a busy place. Every corner has a crowd of individuals in a wide variance of cleanliness smoking and gabbing and drinking. Some of these parties are lit with the flashers of a cop car. Side-streets and alleys are lined with wheelchairs, or sheets, or sleeping bags, or nests of newspaper in makeshift dormitories. At the corner where my Line companion alights, three men sit on the curb holding a sheet over their heads, passing around a pipe.

In the morning I walk through Golden Gate park.…

The Birth of the New American Aristocracy: Privileges versus Rights

This is a good article about the metamorphosis of the educated professional class into a new aristocracy, by Mathew Stewart, in The Atlantic.

Worth reading in full, but this paragraph jumped out at me:
The source of the trouble, considered more deeply, is that we have traded rights for privileges. We’re willing to strip everyone, including ourselves, of the universal right to a good education, adequate health care, adequate representation in the workplace, genuinely equal opportunities, because we think we can win the game. But who, really, in the end, is going to win this slippery game of escalating privileges? Nailed it.

The many privileges bestowed upon you by growing up in the aristocracy will give you definite advantages over your fellow citizens, but will not protect you from predatory capitalism. You're better positioned but still vulnerable to asset bubbles pops, medical emergencies, lost employment, and the trials that accompany it. You might be a stronger, faster …