The Last Newspaper

Fishwrap, Birdcage Lining, Packing Material, and, in a pinch, Ass-Wipe

Why am I here?

I just quit Facebook.

Here’s why:  Facebook works by hijacking a certain ruminative mental function that ordinarily depends upon real-life, in-world experience to support your sense of self, your relationship to others, and the manner in which you react to events. It’s subtle, and feels actual, though it’s more closely related to fantasy. Think of it as a role-playing game. As with any RPG, the more time you spend with it, the more it supplants reality. 

The problem is that it uses reality, real people and real events, as its space and players. 

My suspicion that this may not be a good thing began when I was laid up for nearly a year after a knee surgery. I started to notice that Facebook was creating a personality for me and forcing me to be his biggest fan. Naturally, everyone wants to be loved and appreciated for who they are, but FB’s deeply addictive algorithm for reward delivers nothing but surface, like a frozen pond you skate so effortlessly upon, cheering yourself at every deft leap and twirl. It’s all applause until it isn’t and then you become desperate for more applause. From yourself. 

This is unhealthy. 

“But wait, assuming you have a strong sense of self, how can this little online game snare you? Surely you must be weak-minded and susceptible.”

Well, who isn’t? Ask an alcoholic. In the throes of a profoundly addictive substance, none of us are immune. And these are real people; your “friends.(tm)” They care about you, some of them. 

Human connection is the gateway drug Facebook peddles to get you hooked on the good shit: an overweening sense of entitlement, celebrity in small doses; fame, albeit only in your head, and only to yourself. That is their business model. For free, you can become a legend in your own mind. 

I know. You’re reading this on a blog. But with no comments, and for a reason: it breaks the game. You might want to have your say about what I’ve written here, and I welcome it. Over a drink, perhaps. In a place where some time has passed and I can see your eyes and hear your voice. I suspect we’d both like that. 

The Gold Medal Winner In The Long Jumping To Conclusions Event Goes To:

Ran across this somewhere, under the title:

Houston Anthropologist Reveals Irrefutable Proof That History Is Wrong.


“The radiocarbon dating tests of 29,200 years +/- 400 years was done by Radiocarbon Lab from Kiew, Ukraine, on organic material found at the Bosnian Pyramid site. Physicist Dr. Anna Pazdur of Poland’s Silesian University first announced the news at a Press Conference in Sarajevo in August of 2008. Professor of Classical Archaeology from the University of Alexandria Dr. Mona Haggag called this discovery “writing new pages in European and World history.” The C14 date of 29,000 years at the Bosnian Archaeological Park was obtained from a piece of organic material retrieved from a clay layer inside the outer casing to the pyramid. It follows a sample date obtained during the 2012 dig season on material located above the concrete at 24,800 years, meaning this structure has a construction profile stretching back almost 30,000 years.”


“The ancient people who built these pyramids knew the secrets of frequency and energy. They used these natural resources to develop technologies and undertake construction on scales we have never witnessed on earth,” said Dr. Osmanagich. Evidence clearly shows that the pyramids were built as ancient energy machines aligned with the earth’s energy grid, providing energy for healing as well as power.”

Oh, right. Of course. There is absolutely no other explanation.

“The History Channel. Where The Truth Is History.”

A Thought From An Old Fuck.

I was in a discussion about how “nobody gets ______’s music from back in the day and responded thusly:

“Generational rifts are always common currency for exchanges about the music that started in the early fifties. I hew to the “if you were there when it happened, you got it” POV, which makes my perspective completely out of sync with people who heard, let’s say, Eric Clapton, around the time he was trying to be JJ Cale. But it’s worse than that; even if they did go back to examine his Yardbirds, Mayall or Cream era work, their relationship to that music is non-cultural, to be sure, but also non-historical, with no visceral relationship to what came before and after, and to some extent, non-musical, because their ears are attuned to a definition of music created within their generation. If you present The Move to a 30 year-old, they might love it, but they will be hearing it in a way you did not, because you heard it in a way they can’t. Nothing wrong with this, that’s just the way it will always be.”

I would like to add, the same is true in reverse. And always will be.

(note: I pulled Eric Clapton out of my ass as an example. Just sayin’.)

Trapper Schoepp & The Shades

Saw this band open for the Old ’97s (who are aging quite well, thank you) last night and they absolutely killed it, and no I wasn’t drunk. Trapper and his brother Tanner (I know) are from upstate Wisconsin, in their early twenties, and look like the cast of Two-Lane Blacktop. The band backing them is absolutely slammin’, they’ve got all the moves, and the audience fell in love with them within three great three-minute songs. They’re a “real rock band” if you’ll pardon a Lefsetzism, and Trapper, who writes and sings all the songs, is the real deal; a natural-born frontman. Their records don’t capture the power of their live act yet, but they will, once they connect with the right people (they just finished a four-song demo at Ardent). So, if you find they’re playing anywhere near your ears and eyes, get over there. You gonna like.

David Mamet, The Anti-Cassandra

Ah, the auto-didact. I know him well because I shave him every morning. Says David Mamet: “I don’t read what I should be reading, I never opened a schoolbook in my life. I just couldn’t stand it. But I always read voraciously.” Me too. I recently stated that “No one ever made me me read a book.” Mamet and I are about the same age, and we’re both age-appropriate cranky, so what led him to come to the following conclusion about Barack Obama, the Affordable Care Act, and the tame, generally rational left?

”What they wanted to do was have the government take over a huge segment of the American economy on the way to taking over the entire American economy, and have it fail so that the government can then increase its power over its citizenry.”

I know how you feel, David. I went though my UFO conspiracy period, too.

In my case, I blame science fiction. Isn’t sci-fi great? Doesn’t it make you dream of a future where being abducted by aliens might turn out to be a wonderful thing? Why, you could ender… I mean, end up being an ambassador for the entire human race. Or destroy an entire alien race. Damned aliens. Oops. They were nice aliens. Oh well.

But Mamet reads everything. I mean everything. He even reads Tom Clancy, but then I suspect he spends a lot of time in airports. Lately, his favorite author is Patrick O’Brian, the creator of the military-fantasy series, “Master and Commander.” Yes, fantasy. Apparently, O’Brian never got closer to a seafaring vessel than Arthur C Clarke did to a spacefaring one.

He also listens to Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage, and yes, Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck. Ponder that. I suppose if I were David Mamet, I might also listen to these voices just to capture the sound of them. He’s good at it. Really good at it. So I’ll give him that. But aren’t these people entertainers, and ultimately fantasists?

I think he’s a lover of fantasy. I’ll go farther and say that I think he has a fantastic mind, a fictive mind, as most creative people do. We imagine, confabulate, and just plain make stuff up, but in general, we keep it on the page, the canvas, the print, the play, the film. Our real lives are not oppressed by our fictive ones. Our fictive lives are expressions of possibilities and don’t always have happy endings.

We fail when we can’t tell the difference. I don’t think David Mamet can tell the difference.

He says, “You remember the history of Cassandra, right? Remember her curse? The curse of Cassandra was that she was gifted with the power to see the future—but that no one would believe her.”

I think he means the “story” of  Cassandra (yes, fictional characters have histories, but they’re fictional histories), but if he really thinks he’s gifted with the power to see the future, he should be writing science-fiction. It’s much more fun. And much more believable.

The Hill

You are awake and alert. The air is filled with light. You are strong. You have been running. You stop. You look ahead and there are thousands of miles of verdant plain.

Somewhere in the middle is The Hill. Atop The Hill is a gate. You don’t have to pass through the gate, though the more people you have behind you–we call these people dependents, usually children and spouses, probably yours, though you may also have friends and sometimes “followers”–the greater the chance that you will. The gate opens upon a winding road on a long downward slope dotted in the distance with other gates. It closes behind you and locks. Forever.

You don’t immediately notice anything different, but gradually, as you walk down the road toward the next gate, you realize that though your dependents can see you, and speak to you, the farther you go, the less anyone else can. They may see a transparent version of you, or just your face, but not your current face, because your face changes when you pass through the gate on The Hill.

Your first reaction is to turn around and walk back up The Hill, which now seems immense, and for a short while, usually about ten or so years, you do. It’s a bit harder than walking up from the other side, but you feel good about doing it, since it makes you more visible and people on the other side can hear you. You think that things haven’t changed so much; it’s big, but it’s just a hill, after all.

Then you start to meet people; sometimes they’re resting by the side of the road, sometimes they’re walking down The Hill. They begin to pass you. You attempt to engage them, which means you have to follow them down The Hill. Some of them are wonderful conversationalists, some surprising lovers. Others stop occasionally to camp and make things you find fascinating; books, paintings, statues, houses; money. But most of them march; some wobble. A lot of them drink alcohol, fight and argue: some sit and stare down The Hill.

Around this time, you notice that you are now walking down The Hill. You look behind you and what you see is a kind of mist where the rest of the world used to be, within it, a low humming sound.

Surrounding you are masses of human complaint, seemingly driven by sheer gravity down The Hill.

Eventually, you come to the next gate. You don’t have to pass through the gate and for a long time, you pause and ponder whether you will, or should. Because at this gate is an attendant takes things from you. Things you thought you would always carry with you. Things both of substance and insubstantial things. You are very tired. You can’t just stand there, so you sit for a minute. Then you get up and try to go back up The Hill. You cannot. The attendant takes his toll and with a smile ushers you through the gate, locking it behind you.

You look ahead to see the people who have already passed through this gate arrayed before you, milling about, not going in any direction. You hear a burbling sound; the sound of stories told over and over, decaying like iron oxide on a loop of recording tape, until it becomes a high whine; the sound of an airplane that just flew over your head going farther away than you have ever traveled.

Behind the crowd, you see another gate. In front of the gate is a lake of blood, a dock, and a ferry. Many people walk into the lake until only wisps of hair cut across the surface like a reed in the center of a river, then vanish. Some leap off the dock, creating great coronas of blood that then calm, as still as cream at the top of a milk bottle. You remember something called a “milk bottle.” You remember something called “The Hill”

You greet the ferryman with a weak inhale of iron-misted air and a thin exhale of “hello.” He smiles and guides you to a seat in the front of the ferry. You feel a need to pee, and you do, off the bow. You feel you need to shit, and you do, where you sit.

The ferry docks. You disembark.

There is a gate.


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Fishwrap, Birdcage Lining, Packing Material, and, in a pinch, Ass-Wipe


Fishwrap, Birdcage Lining, Packing Material, and, in a pinch, Ass-Wipe

Fishwrap, Birdcage Lining, Packing Material, and, in a pinch, Ass-Wipe

Jim Newberry

Fishwrap, Birdcage Lining, Packing Material, and, in a pinch, Ass-Wipe