How We're Coping

With things all aflutter, and no good protest songs, we need to do something. Also, God tells us to protest.

Rebecca Dravos, Librarian: I am in a state. After Bush's speech, I consumed two bags of microwave popcorn and a pint of vanilla ice cream. Every day I go to the gym and exercise for 50 minutes. Then I feel guilty because I am one, vain, two, trying to work off the calories from food that other people don't have, and three, lecherous, because I watch the breasts of the woman on the elliptical next to me in the reflection of the gym window. I also found myself browsing something like 30,000 personal ads on Salon, a process I call “shopping for regret.” I purchased Michael Jackson's Bad, then began to cry a little when I heard “Man in the Mirror.”

I gave Paul the keys to my apartment so that, if there is a terrible chemical catastrophe in Manhattan during a business day and I am killed doing my diligent best as an academic librarian, Paul can take care of Rockstar, my cat, and Elephant, my German Shepherd. This way I can die without trying to find a kennel.

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Paul Ford, prospective Graduate Student, Copywriter: I'm going to the Saturday protest and, for the first time in my life, I feel it is all hopeless. Not only do I have no desire to write, I have no desire to have the desire to write. Does the Semantic Web matter? They ran the girl over with a bulldozer. Did she ever write a letter that read, “Dear Mom, I engaged in nonviolent protest today, and they ran me over with a bulldozer and I died of severe cerebral hemorrhaging, just like countless Palestinians, plus lots of Israelis have been blown up by suicide bombs in a vicious never-ending cycle of idiotic violence that no one can win. Soon flaming death will rain on Iraq and the U.S. will be practically begging for terrorist attacks to occur. P.S. Don't give up on the Semantic Web, it's real important. Love, Rachel.”

I have promised my friend Rebecca that, in the case of her death, I will dress her German Shepherd and tortoise-shell cat in dark suits, bring them to her wake, put them up to the coffin, and put their paws over her heart to say goodbye. I hereby publicly affirm my promise, while noting that she needs to calm down.

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Susan O'Shawn, Graphic Designer: No one agrees with me, but how long do we wait for him to disarm? I'm tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don't like everything President Bush is doing, particular with regards to abortion rights, but I think we have to take action or we'll be totally vulnerable, and we need to send a signal to the world that we are not easy victims.

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Tall Man on the Train: Why does this happen right when the 2000 Bordeaux come out? It's the best vintage in half a century and I'm supposed to feel bad for enjoying it.

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Scott Rahin, Philosopher: I am watching a lot of television for signs of the our eschatological drive towards maximized human entropy. Based on barely controlled alcohol and snack abuse and CNN I feel that this current drive towards absolute horseshit began in 2000 with the election, and has continued until the present day; in the intervening time, they, meaning the powers that manufacture consent, have taken the horseshit and baked it into giant biscuits and sent one to every American with an “eat this or get out of the country” sticker on them, and most Americans are sitting around eating this giant horseshit biscuit, thanking Jesus for the opportunity to chew, and many have actually eaten the sticker.

Meanwhile, I would like to simply say the words “Joe Lieberman” right here, and right here, a few feet away, I have punched a hole in the wall while screaming the words “Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!” I don't know, maybe Joe Lieberman and that hole in the wall are connected. I have also made several political sock puppets and I do a little puppet show that goes:

Tom Daschle Puppet: I am saddened--

Scott: What did you expect? What did you expect? You gave him a blank check! Howard Dean is the only viable choice left, which means Bush is going to be in office for 6 more years unless he succeeds in being named president for life.You're dead. The Democrats are over. Tip O'Neill is right now sitting at the open bar in heaven and trying to bum a quarter off Bobby Kennedy so he can make a call down to the House, asking what the fuck is going on.

Tom Daschle Puppet: I thought that if I kissed their ass they wouldn't be so mean to me. Now they make fun of me in French and Hastert says I gave comfort to the enemy.

Scott: Aah! Off my hand.

Tom Daschle Puppet: I'm not finished!

Scott: Sure you are.

Ralph Nader Puppet: Where have I been?

Tip O'Neill Puppet: What the hell is going on? Are you still taking care of dwarves? I did a lot for dwarves. I taxed and spent and a lot of dwarves are taller for it. How's Reagan?

Ronald Reagan Puppet: I rake lots of leaves!

Devil Puppet: George?

George Bush Puppet: Yes.

Devil Puppet: It is time.

George Bush Puppet: Will we get the evildoers this time?

Devil Puppet: The evil bow before the good; and the wicked at the gates of the righteous. For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. Proverbs 14.

George Bush Puppet: Wow, you quote scripture like a mysterious angel from heaven, sent to guide me to our ultimate destiny.

Devil Puppet: Sure.

[This goes on for 18 more screens.]

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Another guy on the train: What I really want to know is what does Matthew Barney think?

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God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth:

....if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:

Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:

We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:

Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:

My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:

For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.

And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.

So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.




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.


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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.


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© 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)

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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)

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