March 27, 2017:

People smoke in these fucking places. They're ancient, stooped, they can't walk, they're in wheelchairs, they're pulling oxygen tanks with wheels. Their eyes are glued to dayglo video screens, they're pumping quarters obsessively. They can't breathe, they can't walk, they haven't climbed a flight of stairs in forty years. They're Death's Ancient Angels and they're not insightful enough to know it.

It's interesting that these are the Americans who so hated hippies for their drugs and psychedelics. Now here they are high on nicotine, zoned on glow-in-the-dark. It's an ersatz psychedelia for right-wing geriatrics, and unlike the hippies' idealism it's deliberately manipulative, to keep them pumping quarters with no sense of the passage of time.

The hostesses are underage and bored. The bar tenders don't smile. The concierge is unfriendly, the people frown and smoke and are dying.

How much of America is this?


March 26, 2017:

Miss Teenage Alabama parades beneath artificial thunder. Her chaperone holds one arm, her sash is faultless, her posture is perfect, her crown looks ridiculous. She's empty, a hollow cliché, and the entire mise-en-scène pisses me off, from the painted sky ceiling to the lost-looking crowds to the false gold filigree on her false gold crown. "Nice tits," I tell her in passing, purely to blow their false cool. It does.

The mall is claustrophobic, there's a false pond beneath the false sky funneling narrow streams of actual humans to either side, jostling. The people are either obese or dressed like hookers; absolutely no-one looks happy.

My hotel has no other exit to the city: you're forced through the mall, and the cynicism of that transparent calculation is offensive. It has no restaurant, the bar is half-stocked, and the snack shop carries only Pepsi products. It's 59 floors of mediocre suites intended to impress country bumpkins; when you look closely the furnishings are cheap motel-quality crap.

This is America, these are Americans, and the fact that the world is on fire is not relevant here. The air-conditioning pushes all distressing thoughts far, far away.


March 25, 2017:

Butterfly handlebars and Laszlo Kovacs.

You’re getting a little distance, man.

Getting a little distance.