• Cheyenne Saturday - Richard Jessup
  • The Bloody Medallion - Richard Jessup writing as Richard Telfair
  • Chuka - Richard Jessup
  • The Cincinnati Kid - Richard Jessup
  • The Branch Will Not Break - James Wright
  • Roadmap Through Bullying: Effective Bully Prevention for Educators - Julie Nicolai
  • The Definitive Brother Juniper - Father Justin 'Fred' McCarthy
  • Portrait of an Artist with 26 Horses: Empty-Grave Vanilla Edition - William Eastlake
  • The Tales of Yot - Adam Nicolai
  • The Shaggy Man of Oz - Jack Snow
  • The Magical Mimics in Oz - Jack Snow
  • The Silver Princess in Oz - Ruth Plumly Thompson
  • Armchair Locomotion - Jen May
  • Grin and Bear It - George Lichty
  • The Strange World of Mr. Mum - Irving Phillips
  • Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • Brother Juniper at Work and Play - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • Brother Juniper Strikes Again - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • Battle Cry - Jen May
  • Inside Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • More Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • Well Done, Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • The Whimsical World of Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • The Ecumenical Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy

Squatters in Support of Commuter Inaction

by Nicolai on January 22, 2017

I had an epiphany. On the toilet. For some reason, the gods of enlightenment prefer to strike when I’m taking a dump. I think they just like watching me try to scribble manifestos out on toilet-paper. At least it’s two-ply.

So I’m sitting there—squatting there actually (Squatty Potty FTW). Part of me is thinking about how to best console my wife, who is upset about not going to the protest, while another part of me is obsessively scrolling the Facebook feed, clicking article after article reporting the same things in slightly different ways, and reading comment after comment saying the same things in slightly different ways.

Then, suddenly, I enter a zen-like trance where, to the comforting drone of a bath fan, I find clarity. I leave my body and look down upon myself, perched naked on the throne, hunched over the Kindle Fire, scrolling and flicking, liking and clicking. At that exact moment I see things as they are. And slightly after that exact moment the disembodied me slaps the bodied me in the back of the head and says, “What the fuck are you doing?”

I’ll tell you what I was doing. I was doing exactly what Donald Trump and the media want me to be doing. We all are.

* * *

Gapers’ Delay is defined as a traffic jam caused by the people who slow down to look at an accident on the other side of the road. It’s easy to identify. Oncoming traffic is light and sometimes peters out completely while your side is all jammed brakes and honked horns. Then, off on the horizon, you see the emergency lights and you know. Your fate is now in the hands of a commuter horde of fucking rubberneckers.

Seriously, you think, what is so hard to understand here? Can’t we all just agree to not gawk out the window while idling past an accident? You steel yourself, resolving to take a stand and drive past without looking. Yep. That is exactly what you will do—or not do, to be more exact. You get closer.

What’s that, though? A second fire engine? Oh wow, you think, there are four ambulances up there. Stop it! Just drive by. All you have to do is drive by. But is that a stretcher? It is. Don’t look. Don’t look! Here we go. You’re pulling up next to it. Don’t… God dammit…

You looked.

* * *

Donald Trump is a car accident. He can’t help it. Sure, he probably doesn’t have to tap dance naked on top of a flaming Winnebago but at least we know what he is—an attention-seeking wreck.

The media are the first responders—the cops, the paramedics—and first responders respond to wrecks. That is their job. Sure, they probably don’t have to flash all the circus lights and sirens…or accept payment for every commuter head that turns. But at least we know what they are—money-grubbing barkers.

And we are the drivers. We are in control of where we’re going, and what we look at along the way. If we’re sick of the traffic jams we have to exercise collective self restraint. We can’t gape at every minor fender bender we come across.

The media could step up and display some social responsibility but I wouldn’t hold my breath. No amount of mock indignation can change the fact they are cashing in on this national freak show. If, for some odd reason, they are willing to sacrifice some profit though, I’ve got a couple ideas.

Stop giving the microphone to liars. Let Conway spout her alternative facts in the shower, not the national stage. Don’t dispute Breitbart claims, just ignore them, and certainly don’t link to them. You know what the White House press secretary is without the press? A fucking secretary! And, for the love of God, let Trump’s 140 characterless characters live and die on Twitter!

For the rest of us, I propose the following Pledge of Inaction:

I ______________________ do solemnly swear, to:

  1. Not obsessively scroll the Facebook feed, because every flick of my finger shows my monetary support for all the shit I’m scrolling past.

  2. Not ‘take a stand’ by commenting on articles or, worse yet, commenting on comments, because every moment I spend doing that creates free content to further line the pockets of assholes.

  3. Not slow down to gape at accidents.

  4. Not not vote enablers out of office on November 8th, 2018.

There’s something more important than any of this though. Something that transcends politics and the media. Something greater than free will, self control, and abstinence pledges. The one message I hope you can take away from all of this is: When you use the bathroom, don’t leave just one sheet of toilet paper on the roll. Who does that??

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts


New Release: Battle Cry – poems by Jen May

by Nicolai on August 15, 2016


Jen May’s Battle Cry is now available in print and Kindle formats from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and via special order at your favorite local bookseller!

Across cultures, the warrior sounds: grieving, hurling, releasing anguish and might. This book is a reckoning in poetry of violence today, the personal and the accidental, the purposeful and the horrific. Capturing time as a domestic violence survivor, a witness, a mother and a fellow traveler, Battle Cry’s author leads us on a tour of the unimaginable. Yet Jen May brings the reader through, somehow reconciled to love, hope, and possibility.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts


New Release: Armchair Locomotion – Jen May

April 14, 2016

Check out the newest release from Empty-Grave Publishing: Armchair Locomotion, poems by Jen May Armchair Locomotion is a collection of poems of new observation and heightened movement. Whether for contemplating ideas while at rest or moving mindlessly, author Jen May manages to turn image to the surreal and action to dream. This debut collection is […]

Read the full article →

Amazon’s Kindle Matchbook Program is Now Live!

October 30, 2013

Amazon’s Matchbook program allows publishers to offer Kindle ebooks at a deep discount, or even free, to purchasers of the print versions. I am pretty excited by this as it was something I wanted to do from day one and I’ve gone ahead and enabled Matchbook on ALL Empty-Grave titles. Anyone purchasing a print edition […]

Read the full article →

Terraria Tip: Automated Gold Farming by Selling Chests (Archived–No Longer Works)

April 12, 2013

**This bug has been patched on all platforms as of May 2014. This post is now for non-patched games and archival purposes only.** I watched a Youtube video about farming gold chests with active blocks. I also watched a video about farming dead goldfish with a crab-statue trigger. This is what happens when you combine […]

Read the full article →

Profiling the Private Gun Sale

February 16, 2013

I read Joe Nocera’s article “Notes from a Gun Buyback” in the New York Times today regarding a gun buyback and amnesty program in Newark that essentially put into action a plan I outlined in my earlier post “Let’s Complicate the Killing Spree–Buy the Killers’ Guns.”  Nocera writes that critics of the buyback plan claim […]

Read the full article →

Zero Dark Thirty: A sub-par Hollywood cliche hiding behind the badge of being “based on true events.”

January 13, 2013

One day, Not-A-Good-Movie strolled into a costume shop and flipped through the racks looking for something to wear. There, nestled in between The-Vietnam-War and The-Holocaust, it found a cute little number that fit perfectly—9/11. At the checkout register, Not-A-Good-Movie stumbled on the pièce de résistance for its new costume—a golden plastic badge imprinted with the […]

Read the full article →

Let’s Complicate the Killing Spree—Buy the Killers’ Guns

December 18, 2012

What will happen to the Bushmaster .223 semiautomatic rifle that was used to murder twenty kindergartners in Newtown, Connecticut? How about the 10mm Glock the shooter used to absolve himself of responsibility? I imagine they will be locked away in an evidence locker—stored until storage space is at such a premium they wind up going […]

Read the full article →

September Update: Two new releases!

September 29, 2012

Two titles were released in September. Portrait of an Artist with 26 Horses is an amazing Catch-22-ish work of fiction by prolific writer William Eastlake–author of The Bronc People and Go in Beauty. The Definitive Brother Juniper is a hardcover tome the size of a cinder-block. It contains all 850+ cartoons in the Brother Juniper series. […]

Read the full article →

Diablo 3: How Blizzard and its ‘Real Money’ Auctions Prevent Cheaters, Dupers, and Botters from Saving the Game

August 16, 2012

This article was initially going to be an in-depth analysis of why Blizzard created a Real Money Auction House (RMAH), all the steps they took to protect and nurture it, and how those steps destroy Diablo 3, but it was turning into a dissertation about virtual economies and black markets, ignorant company executives, and what […]

Read the full article →