Republican National Convention

I'm trying to unrust my chops, so I wrote down some thoughts on the RNC. It's hard to connect ideas; I'm struggling with the words.

Bush's speech is a few hours away and will run 45 minutes, 30 minutes scheduled for his larynx, lips, and tongue, 15 minutes for applause. The arm-flesh of the women in the audience will shake as they raise their arms to cheer. Their husbands, with them among the delegations, look like Republican husbands. No artist could render that many shades of damp pinkish gray, the color of their skin and suits.

These Republican women are the ladies who hired you to shovel their driveways when you were 11 and 12, and then, after your hour of young toil, said “I think $3.50 is enough, don't you?” through pursed, pink lips.

If they brought you hot chocolate they deducted the cost, and marshmallows (the tiny ones) each cost 2 cents extra. You might end up owing money. Their husbands approved.

Enough of them. Given the choice between Republicans and violent protesters, I prefer rats, which can be legally poisoned. But we don't get a choice. One of the protesters attacked a cop by lifting up a bicycle and bringing it down on the policeman's head. Some masked youths pepper-sprayed policemen in the eyes. I feel bad for the cops. Police brutality is evil, and protester violence against police feels worse, a betrayal.

Many jailed protesters would not give their names. They went to the jailhouse as Jane Doe and John Doe. Why slow down the offending legal process by lying? Why hide your name, if you are condemning the corporate oligarchy from a position of moral authority? Why wear masks?

Martin Luther Doe. Rosa Doe. Mohandas Karamchand Doe. Susan B. Doe. Malcolm X-Doe.

Mario Savio Doe, Ralph Nader Doe, Frederick Douglass Doe, Harriet Tubman Doe.


The traffic-blockers, the shouters, the civilly disobedient, with their odd hair, big placards, and noisy T-shirts: good for them. Thank you for doing that. You did something worth doing.

Why do I feel so passive about these things? I can't get worked up over conspiracies or big government. I see the yammering maw of G.W. Bush and laugh at his packaged vapidity, the way he seems play-with-his-own-shit stupid, but others nod in stern agreement when they hear him speak.

I though of going to Philly, myself, staying at my dad's, but I don't have any cause for which to march. I don't have the fever. I write checks for things, at times, but never in large amounts.

Equal access to health care matters to me, and literacy and education. AIDS in Africa. I would donate to those causes, time, energy, money. I don't. I'm waiting for someone to ask.

Corporate power must be balanced, but I don't know how. Corporations have all the power and marketing money, and they laugh at us. The young socialists of Yale and Princeton now sit on venture capital boards. They condescend to those of us who still believe in the power of common people; they sympathize knowingly with our politics, shaking their heads at how much we don't know about the real way the world works. They have become awful, empty, hypocritical fuckers, and they think that that is what it means to be a human being. They are satiated by their self-fabricated existential dread and financial power. Their faith in rhetoric sustains them.

I want to tutor for adult literacy in Brooklyn, but I fear illiterate strangers.

In the 60's the protesters dressed respectfully, regardless of the heat. You had to heed them, all those ties. You could not laugh at them. I laugh at what I see on TV, the shirtless white boys with dreadlocks, the ironic slogans, dancing, chunky baldheaded women. They look ridiculous, and I sympathize with their politics and shake my head sadly at how much they don't know about the real way the world works.

(In the photo, I march in Washington at a gay rights rally, 6 or 7 years ago. I went because I loved a bisexual woman, and she asked me. My friend Ian drove the whole way. To me, now, I look ridiculous.)

Bayard Rustin grew up in my home town and got out as soon as he could. I met him when I was 2, my mother told me, but I don't remember. He was back to speak at the schools and she drove him around in my grandfather's station wagon.

A few years after he died, they named Walnut Street Park for him, a block-square town park close to my house. They replaced the splintered wood assembly and loose metal swings with safe, padded plastic.

He was jailed 20 times, a prisoner of conscience. In 1987, his heart gave out -- a black, gay, communist heart, the heart that organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. I went to his memorial service and my mother spoke, briefly, one of the only white people at the podium. Bayard Rustin always gave his name when he was arrested.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


There is a Facebook group.


You will regret following me on Twitter here.


Enter your email address:

A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


Syndicate: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
Links: RSS1.0, RSS2.0


© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

Tables of Contents