Boy Boxes Bear – Collected Miscellanea

Essays and Other Orphaned Scribblings

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Level 1. Catch Fire

It begins with a virus.

Then, after the apocalypse, you wake up in Boston.

Leafless tree branches, pockmarked either with the white of residual radiation or mere silhouetted skeletons against a sky that is always the wrong color. Fog running along war-created riverbeds to hide mutated dogs and two-headed bear-wolves and zombies that run too fast. In the towns you happen across, people trying to kill you fill the alleyways between the brick apartment buildings. Military convoys rumble down concrete streets. Armed guards, dressed in the all-black of a steroidal SWAT team or the rags of a band of marauders, swarm around concrete barricades. Storefronts are hollowed out, but occasional supplies will glow when you near them: scissors, gauze, ammunition for your .45; tin cans, the irradiated hide of an unnatural animal, ammo for your customized nine millimeter.

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Displacement: A Hypothetical

Maybe she doesn’t think gentrification is what happened to her. Maybe gentrification sounds like too pretty a word for displacement.

She is maybe Latina. She is maybe black. Perhaps South Asian. More likely than not, she isn’t white. Maybe she has an accent. Maybe she doesn’t. But her partner has run up her credit card. She of course does not have access to his, if he has any. But when she takes time after work to scout for apartments to move into, she balks at some of the prices but persists because he has moved from shouting to quiet menace, the type that immediately precedes physical violence. Maybe when she speaks with the broker and insists on seeing the room that has suddenly become unavailable when she finally meets him in person, the broker tells her what credit score she needs to be able to qualify. Elsewhere, the threshold is income. But the outcome is always the same.

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Impressive lightning and thunder, but no rain yet.

It’s officially been 50 years since the Six-Day War, and I have occasion once again to think of Palestine.

I was asked recently about movies and Israeli actresses, specifically if I would see a movie with one in it. I thought immediately of Natalie Portman and quested for other names. The discussion migrated towards Wonder Woman and Gal Gadot. I didn’t see the terminus of the query’s line of intention until I’d arrived at it. Much of the analysis on the State of Israel and the state of Palestine–that I’ve come across, at least–has hewn closely to geopolitical implications. Personal narratives are rare roses in the desert. And present-day investigation of the state of affairs soars at thirty thousand feet in the air. From that height, it’s nearly impossible to see the Hebron I saw in 2013. Or the Bethlehem. Or the Nazareth. But most pieces are pitched at an unfortunately clinical register. Appropriate, I guess, for postmortems.

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America According to the Gospel of Originalism; Or Why I Never See Originalists In the Hood, Only in the Club


I. Oh, I Get It, You Biggie and He’s Puffy

On the last day of January 2017, the 45th President of the United States announced his pick for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court of the United States: Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch comes factory-made for a seat on SCOTUS. This scion of conservative nobility, whose record has already faced scrutiny, can be counted on as a reliably Republican vote. The Scalia comparisons are facile—he is more a jurist’s jurist than his vituperatively Catholic predecessor/progenitor—but apt. His neoconfederate patterning fits the hole carved in the Republicans’ judicial vision by Scalia’s death.[1] The seat was an Originalist’s, so the argument goes that it should remain an Originalist’s, which thinking is completely in keeping with a party that has, ever since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, styled itself as the enemy of progress, a party for whom the Constitution is ringed by a picket fence. The people for whom its protections were meant are ensconced safely within while the rest of us fend for ourselves outside, forgotten, doing our best to avoid the lesser angels of America’s nature.

At its core, that is the province of Originalism as a method of interpreting the Constitution. The vintage Instagram filter, sepia-toned, nostalgic, ever the attempt to return to a better time. Law schools are where orignalist reasoning finds its greatest praise, and it should be no coincidence that one would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere a higher concentration of intellectual onanists.

The Supreme Court Bench is hardly the place for masturbation.

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The Beat That My Heart Skipped

When she speaks, it’s with a whisper and rasp, cocooned in unpracticed libido.

A night smoking shisha near Les Halles was how, like the majority of my close friendships, it had begun. We’d commiserated through classes together, this girl and I, and she’d grown so adept at noting my tics that she could tell when I was only pretending to understand something I’d heard her say. “T’as compris?” A pause. “Non, j’ai su.”

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Black and Blue

Present-mortems abound. Much has been written about the self-immolation of the Grand Old Party and its historical roots, some analyses tracing its causes back to the South’s making good on its threat of secession in the face of the resistance to slavery’s spread to newly acquired western territories, that sepia-toned era when the Republicans were the Party of Lincoln, before America’s Original Sin turned them into the Party of Calhoun. Blame Reagan (for winning). Blame Barry Goldwater (for losing). Blame George W. Bush (for being an idiot).

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Laquan McDonald

At some point last night, the Foodtown grocery at 148th and St. Nicholas caught fire.

The subway station entrance across from it is a few blocks from my apartment, and by the time I had passed that intersection this morning, the front window was gone and inside was nothing but bitumen.

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Why Are All the Androids So Pretty?

I. Tyger, Tyger! burning bright

If I were to build an android, I’d want it to have a face that I wouldn’t recognize.

The temptation is to give her the face of someone I know, make her and her face into a totem of remembrance, a gravemarker with cheekbones, a tombstone with spaces hollowed out for eyes. But she is not mine, or won’t be at least. I have to build her first.

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Where Two or Three Are Gathered

“It could have been my mother” was a common refrain bleeding down my Newsfeed in the aftermath of the Charleston massacre. It went beyond the murder of black Americans. It went beyond the violent desecration of a church. It went beyond the combination of those things. So far beyond that I wondered if I could say it as well. If it was a statement that belonged to me.

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State of the Union

The place where I watched my first sunset of the New Year is called Constitution Square.

Over the past few years, benches and a pathway have sprouted. Bounding the lot is a small plaza with a hair salon on one end, a massage parlor, an organic food spot, a gun store, a driver’s ed shingle and Ming Moon, our local Chinese restaurant. Further down the line is a bar and a group of sandwich shops. And across the lot from those, a dentist’s office next to a Century realty shop, a small community bank and a Weight Watchers gym. I was facing westward towards Main Street and since the sun had already fallen behind the naked tree branches and the tallest spires and roofs along that drag, I contented myself with tracking the orb’s progress via the slow un-gilding of the cumulo-strati above. I snuck in a small black menthol cigarillo given to me in a bout of rebellion by someone close a few days earlier.

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