December 6-7, 2014

A lot of my thoughts over the weekend were tied up with the Eric Garner protests, both nationally and here in Durham, and I covered that in the post immediately prior to this one.

I spent Saturday afternoon working on a new streaming server for WXDU, and inadvertently learning things about Linux DBus that I didn’t know before. This, however, is because for the first time in several years, I’m reintroducing Linux into our server environment, and I’m very happy about that.

We’ll see how long that lasts. 

One driver of this shift is the fact that all of our boxes are Mac Pros, some of them fairly elderly, and the new Mac Pros (the black trashcans) aren’t really optimized for server duty. They’re heavy on GPUs and light on on-board storage.

Saturday evening we ate at Toast & then came home & engaged in the weekly halfhearted struggle to find a movie to stream. I have terrible luck when it comes to finding some obscure gem that sounds awesome, and suggesting it to M, without first checking to see if it’s streamable.

They never are.

Through some chain of circumstance we wound up watching Albert Brooks’s first movie, Real Life, which was mildly amusing in a highly self-conscious Albert Brooks kind of way. 

Sunday fit the standard pattern. 

So far in my year-end metal listening I’ve been most entertained by Abigor’s Leytmotif Luzifer:

And Lunarterial by Swallowed

<a href=“” data-mce-href=“”>Lunarterial by Swallowed</a>

December 6-7, 2014

Letter to City Council re: Friday arrests

Dear Council,

I’m writing to express my concern about the actions of the Durham Police at the end of the protest march on Foster Street on Friday night. 

According to most accounts, the police showed a greater than average degree of restraint during the early hours of the march. Some of my friends who were there might disagree, particularly with the use of the dangerous LRAD device on the protesters at the DPAC.

But compared to events in other cities (as well as previous events in Durham), during the first couple of hours of the march, it seems the police were at least trying to respect the people’s rights.

For some reason, though, as the march was winding down, things got ugly. According to the account of one local blogger, blame for this lies entirely at the feet of the police:

There were six or eight cars with their lights twirling and a line of cops blocking the street. As we got closer, we realized they were in full riot gear and carrying axe handle sized sticks. There were almost as many of them as there were protestors. About ten of us stood on the sidewalk and tried to tell them they were taking the wrong approach. There was no need for a power struggle. No need for a show of force. It was a protest, not combat. When the enemy didn’t show up, the makeshift army loaded onto a bus and went after them. Literally. They saw where the protestors were and blocked the street to create a confrontation. They arrested about forty people and then kept marching up the street even as the protestors went the other way. The only reason there was any sort of agitation was because the police made it happen.

Ginger called 911 three different times to report what was happening. The last time the operator asked if she would like to speak to an officer and one found her on the street. I walked up in the middle of their conversation. He said the protests had been going on for five hours and “you can’t let civil disobedience go on for five hours.” (Why not?) When she asked about the sticks, he said they were for pushing people back, not for hitting them. “They are better than guns,” he said.

There is video of a portion of the confrontations on Foster Street:

It’s worth nothing that this is Foster just south of Geer, a block that is completely deserted after dark. To obstruct citizens, prevent them from moving freely or dispersing, and then violently arrest them for obstructing traffic on a block that is deserted, verges on the Kafkaesque.

“Fitting,” then, that clearly visible in the background of the video is the Elna B. Spaulding Conflict Resolution Center. 

Just around the corner from the location pictured in the video is the corner of Geer and Rigsbee. On pretty much any weekend night, the block of Rigsbee between Geer and Corporation is clogged with cars backed up from the Pit valet stand, with food trucks parked on the sidewalk, and with pedestrians walking freely in the street back and forth between MotorCo and Fullsteam.

If “obstructing traffic” is such a priority in this neighborhood, then why aren’t there riot police down there every weekend throwing the valet parking guys into the bushes & onto the pavement?

From all indications, the size of the march had already dwindled, and given the lateness of the hour, it was likely to break up on its own accord. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the police saw this as their last opportunity to enact some kind of retribution on the protesters.

Perhaps even more concerning, I have just received word that the Durham police have been harassing the citizens who were arrested on Friday. They have reported that there have been police cars parked on the streets in front of their houses. And at a meeting for the protesters at the Pinhook over the weekend, a DPD officer in street clothes showed up uninvited and started videotaping the attendees. He then fled when he was recognized by some of the arrestees.

It would appear that Chief Lopez is continuing to try to bolster his fantasy narrative of “outside agitators.” He said as much in some of his quotes to the media over the weekend.

I only spent about 10 minutes in CCB Plaza at the start of the march, but just in that time I saw at least a half-dozen people that I know, and as the rest of the evening unfolded, I saw tweets from many other friends who were participating in the march. Two of my friends are among those who were arrested.

I can’t imagine what the Chief’s thought processes must be here. In some of his quotes over the weekend, he gave the impression that he thinks these current protests are still about the Durham police specifically, rather than institutional racism and white supremacy in general. 

Whatever the reason, his leadership of the DPD seems to be coming from a position of personal paranoia, rather than actual understanding of the facts on the ground. And that is an incredibly dangerous thing for our city.

Letter to City Council re: Friday arrests

Police, protestors clash during demonstration | The Herald-Sun

Police, protestors clash during demonstration | The Herald-Sun


December 4-5, 2014

Thursday was a long one at work, and afterwards I split my time between social media and catching up on a month’s worth of New Yorkers. Dinner was fried catfish from Saltbox, whose existence I thank my lucky stars for on the regular. I have eaten a lot of fried fish in my life, and none of the rest of it has ever been as good as what Ricky turns out on a daily basis. The man has some kind of sixth sense about exactly how long each piece of fish needs to spend in the fryer.

Which might make his eventual expansion plans kind of complicated. Right now he cooks every single piece of fish himself. Will he be able to convey that supernatural knowledge to anyone else?

Friday evening M & our friend E wanted to go to the tower lighting thing at American Tobacco. It was a full production, with an elementary school chorus, a high school choir, some kind of adult vocal ensemble, and 750 children in the audience flailing blinking/glowing cylinders like light sabers at each other.

And then at the appointed moment (a solid hour after the start of the event), someone flips a switch and the legs of the water tower light up with multicolored lights. It’s pretty anticlimactic.

Walking back uptown, we got to the Eric Garner protest at the CCB Plaza right when it was coalescing and getting underway. We talked to some friends for a bit, listened to a couple of speakers, and then headed out.

See, I’m an introvert. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings and opinions about things, but no matter how powerful they may be, none of them are strong enough to overcome my aversion to crowds for very long.

If we hadn’t just spent an hour at Ambacco I probably could have stood it for longer. But instead we followed along on Twitter & Instagram and listened to the helicopters circling over our apartment for hours.

I was heartened to see the size of the group, and to see them cause the disruption they caused downtown. I haven’t been out & about yet today, so I don’t know for sure whether there was any property damage, but I didn’t hear about any last night.

I’ve gotten more radicalized lately, to the point that I understand property damage in a political context as a necessary means to remind the holders of capital that they are fully culpable for the actions of police, since police exist solely to protect the holders of capital.

But too often around here, property damage during protests happens at the hands of privileged white “anarchists” who perennially co-opt other people’s (often people of color) otherwise peaceful protests.

So the current tactics of blocking streets & freeways, and holding die-ins, are a welcome shift, and seem to be hugely effective at reaching larger numbers of otherwise unpoliticized civilians.

I lay in bed last night thinking about guns, and about how different civilization and conflict were before their invention. It reminded me that last week I’d been thinking about Guns, Germs & Steel, and specifically about how I’d gotten distracted and put it down after one chapter & hadn’t ever picked it back up again. My copy is one of those archaic paper things, so it requires a lot more coordination to use it.

December 4-5, 2014

December 3, 2014

Looking back at Twitter, it’s pretty clear that I spent the day like everyone else I know: being outraged and frustrated & demoralized by the Eric Garner grand jury decision. 

I RT a lot of people who are more articulate & more invested than I am, so maybe just go look over there for that.

On the home front, M got home from a multi-day trip to western Kentucky to deal with an aging parent. My parents are so totally on top of every aspect of their care & living situations from now until the end of time that I haven’t ever had to directly deal with this stuff – I’m peripherally aware of it, but mostly I’m peripherally aware that it’s more or less dealt with.

M’s dad isn’t quite so squared away, and thus we’re both learning things about the state of elder care in America that make me devoutly hope that I go like Ian McLagen did: Actively gigging & touring right up until a massive stroke killed him within 24 hours.

I’ve been trying to listen to a bunch of the [ostensibly best] metal released this year. So far I’m liking a lot of it in an academic way, but not really resonating with any of it. The albums that I was most anticipating didn’t really do it for me, so I’m sort of casting about at random. I mentioned the latest YOB the other day; it’s the only thing so far that has really made me feel anything.

I’ve been heartily amused by Triptykon, though, and I’m warming rapidly to Abigor. But there has been nothing that I’ve liked as much as any of the metal on my 2013 list.

December 3, 2014

December 1-2, 2014

M is out of town, so I’m getting by however I can. Had dinner at Dos Perros on Monday, because Taco Night, always, although I actually had the pork pozole, which was delicious.

I think I stayed up too late reading, but I don’t remember what. Probably Volume 1 of the Kelly Sue DeConnick run of Captain Marvel, which is full of confusing time-travel stuff, but also kickass midcentury women aviators. I’m of course so old and out-of-touch that I didn’t even realize that there was a difference between Marvel’s Captain Marvel and DC’s Captain Marvel, aka Shazam.

Work is really time-consuming and stressful right now, because I’m basically having to take on a whole new job function in addition to all the ones I already perform. Which is actually kind of fun, and gratifying (and marketable, in the long run), but like I said, time-consuming and stressful.

Today the guy I was supposed to interview bailed at the last minute, which is actually really a bummer, because I interviewed him once before & really liked him. But it cleared my calendar for essentially the whole day, which means I’m nearly caught up at this point, at least in terms of the stupid quotidian crap that was clogging my inbox.

And I had time to download a bunch of 2014 metal albums so that I can figure out whether there’s anything that came out this year that I’m going to want to listen to again. Apart from the latest YOB, which I already know is awesome.

I downloaded 7 albums this evening & I paid for five of them. Not such a bad ratio. And I only pirated the other two because I couldn’t find anywhere to pay for digital copies.

They were:

Lord Mantis
Witch Mountain

I’ll let you know on January 1st which, if any of them, made the cut.

Had dinner at Gocciolina because unlike M, I could eat there every day & not feel constrained, menu-wise. Of course I’m also the person who can happily eat lunch at the same 2-3 restaurants (or ONE restaurant, under certain circumstances, Park Diner RIP) for literally years.

December 1-2, 2014

On someone who knows the system

On someone who knows the system


November 30, 2014

Addendum from last night: we had dinner at Oval Park Grille. I really wanted to like it – and the rye cocktail I had was really good, despite its long stupid name.

But the food fell prey to the same problem I’ve seen at other newish local restaurants: great ingredients smothered in large quantities of overly intense sauces. I had the trout, and my whole plate tasted intensely of vinegar. Had there just been a wee drizzle of the sauce across the top, it would have been a nice complement to the relatively sweet fish. But it was swimming.

The good news is that this is a correctable problem. The bad news is that the chances of it correcting itself are relatively slim.

Then again, Piedmont had a similar problem early on under the current regime, and judging from my last trip there, anyway, it has been more or less resolved there. So maybe I’ll give OPG six months and then try again.

Today was a pretty standard Sunday. M left town this afternoon for a few days with her dad in Kentucky, so I’m at home alone, and took advantage of that to [re]watch Myra Breckinridge. It’s kind of a disaster, but a fascinating one. Where else can you see a 77-year-old Mae West tell dirty jokes & sing “Hard to Handle?”

My 21st-century conscience tells me I should be sad about the scene where Raquel Welch rapes Roger Herren with a strap-on, but we’re talking about a 1970 movie whose titular character’s stated goal was to demolish masculinity, so I kinda gotta give it some props. Especially since she’s wearing a red-white-and-blue tankini number when she does it.

I got a new y-peeler from Cocktail Kingdom & this evening I used it to shave a divot out of one of my knuckles, so I can vouch for its sharpness.

November 30, 2014