Category Archives: subnormal

Censors Are Cowards!

subnormal magazine was the punk rock magazine from way back when…when being a liberal and radical meant QUESTIONING AUTHORITY–not being the lap dog for authority. When being cool meant being smarter and having a BETTER argument than the enemy based on facts–not whining like a baby to get someone fired or censored because their words hurt their freaking feelings.  subnormal is BACK, and returns back SOON online with it’s own site AND hard copy to raise hell again–and to hurt your feelings if you are a cancel culture fascist–deal with it.

We are NOT your safe space….

punks NOT dead

One Dove Star Dot Allison Returns with Exquisite Solo Record 

Dot Allison  releases Heart-Shaped Scars, available July 30th on SA Recordings.  Upon the first few seconds of hearing Dot, I was happily stunned. Her voice is shockingly exquisite; a breathy, powerful whisper-like melody reminiscent of Tori Amos and Joni Mitchell. I will definitely be coming back to explore her work more fully, and I suggest you do as well.

Regarding the lead single “Long Exposure”, out today, Dot Allison  states, “One of the first songs I wrote on ukulele.  Last March I picked up the instrument and started composing, the fact I don’t play the ukulele was very freeing and I had to compose purely by ear, constructing my own chord clusters.”
Of the album Heart-Shaped Scars, It reportedly gathers many of Allison’s interests – music, literature, science and nature. “I wanted it to be comforting like a familiar in-utero heartbeat, a pure kind of album that musically imbues a return to nature,” she states.
Produced by Allison alongside Fiona Cruickshank, with Hannah Peel adding string arrangements to four songs, courtesy of a quintet of Scottish folk musicians, the album was recorded at Castlesound Studios in Edinburgh – Dot’s home town .  The sessions include new collaborations with singer songwriters Amy Bowman “The Haunted” and Zoë Bestel, “Can You Hear Nature Sing?”.
Field recordings of birdsongs, rivers, and the ambience of The Hebrides – where Dot has a cottage – also reportedly played their part in recordings.  A location for gatherings amongst folk musician pals (Sarah Campbell and Amy Bowman included), “sharing ideas and passing instruments between us all, amongst friends and the island community,” says Allison. “It’s where I first sang ‘Long Exposure’ in public at a folk house-concert. So, I can definitely hear some of the Hebrides in ‘Heart-Shaped Scars’.
The influence of folk-minded artists are in her record collection, including Karen Dalton, Gene Clark, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Nick Drake and Brian Wilson,  as well as most  poignantly, the late Andy Weatherall.  Weatherall produced ‘Morning Dove White’, the album that launched Dot’s career with the outstanding band One Dove and who “championed, signed and mentored me… I hear his influence throughout all of my albums.” 
Since 1999’s Afterglow, Allison has striven to “keep the listener on a journey – and myself too.”   That journey has taken her from Afterglow’s broad church (trip-hop, Tim Buckley-esque ballads, chilled psychedelia) to the sultry synth-pop of We Are Science (2002), the baroque Exaltation of Larks (2007) and the roots drama of Room 7½ (2009).  She’s worked with an extraordinary roll call of talent – Kevin Shields, Hal David, Paul Weller, and Darren Emerson, Massive Attack, Scott Walker, Slam, Philip Shepard, The Babyshambles & Pete Doherty, underlining the huge respect her peers hold her in.
On Heart-Shaped Scars Allison mines a deeply emotive seam. “Love, loss and a universal longing for union that seems to go with the human condition. To me, music is a sort of tonic or an antidote to a kind of longing, for a while at least.”  

The Failure of Mainstream American Media

By Bruce Edwin

Throughout time, new technologies have changed the way we give and receive communication. With the advent of radio, and later film and television, the propensity to be influenced by “mass media” has exponentially grown. With the advent of the internet and now “smart phones,” the ability for the individual to be consumed with, persuaded by, and unknowingly or covertly influenced by mass media is at an all-time high. Yet, during the onset of Covid19 beginning a little over a year ago back in late 2019 and predominantly in 2020, we have shockingly seen an American media we once knew to have political bias and agendas go from the current status quo of covert bias to overt propaganda and censorship.  In this brief essay, we will discuss the most apparent nature of those facts and some of the impetus behind this dangerous new direction in mainstream American media.  More importantly, we will discuss what we can do about it. For discovering we have a problem is only the first step. The second step is solving it.

As suggested in Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky’s 1988 book “Manufacturing Consent,” mass communication largely operates within a propaganda model fueled by various means, of which I will here speculate upon from a current, modern perspective.

According to “Business Insider” and “Fortune” magazine several years ago, just six corporations today control 90% of the news that Americans consume, headed by 15 billionaires.  Today, 100% of American mainstream media is controlled to some degree by The The United Nations, of whom China is their Security Council President.

The World Health Organization for example–now dictating Americans freedoms or rather lack thereof through “forced” posts on private social media accounts of all U.S. citizens–is under the umbrella of the U.N.

Fact Checking In Decline

Since the ever-increasing popularity of the internet, with news stations and newspapers now online in addition to their other platforms, fact-checking has declined. This is largely the result not of incompetency, but more-so the result of greed.

Rush For Speed with Internet Makes Work Sloppy

The unbridled urge for one news outlet to get the “scoop” faster than their competitor, or if they fail to originate the story, then the urge to get it at least right after their competitor—whether that story is fact checked or not–is the new impetus for online media, which has replaced professional standards that formerly were upheld.  Speed of publication seems senior to accuracy, with many news outlets.  Thus, their failure to deliberately fact-check, results in them putting out a story that falls below the professional standards of journalism they know to be true; a story they never fact-checked. Never mind that countless typographical errors can be found on a regular basis in any mainstream media’s online work. The real problem is an “error of ideas.”

When ideas are misrepresented, distorted, or put across as true when they are not; lies result, and a culture is harmed.

Calling Opinions Facts

The second failure of today’s journalism is their propensity to posit stories as being true, when in fact they are merely opinion.   And that is an extremely dangerous thing, when a false narrative or false story propagated or reinforced by media is put across to society as true.

Conversely, many media and news outlets aim to discredit truths and facts as being “false,” “fake,” or propaganda,” when they are not. In actuality, the words they use to describe their opponent is the very thing that they themselves are guilty of.

Whereas such as story may be a great story on the opinion page, large percentages of the news outlet’s content are now opinion, without stating they are.  As such, viewers and readers are left to wrongly conclude that the story is a fact, when in actuality, it is not necessarily.

And while some readers or viewers are sophisticated enough to know when they are being lied to by media, many are not.  One can often hear well intentioned, fairly educated people posit their argument of why they are “right” based on an article or news story they saw on their favorite news program or publication. These often well–intentioned persons abandon reason, investigative research, and fact checking what they read themselves, and blindly “assume” that their preferred source of news is telling them the truth. In reality, we can no longer safely assume that the media is accurate.

Facts are checked against multiple credible, un-biased sources until one can unequivocally state and know that it is fact. Facts are tested. Facts are true and don’t change. They are proven. President Kennedy was shot and killed. Fact. Why? Millions saw it on live TV. They were not “crisis actors.”  Yet countless times in today’s so called “news,” mainstream media tells us things that are not true, that are true. Or they tell us things that are a lie, that are fact. Or—they simply tell us that one is bad, or a “conspiracy theorist” if one attempts to question what they are being told. The very nature of a free society is the freedom to question what we are told. Without that freedom of individual inquiry, democracy and freedom are dead.

Glenn Greenwald, former publisher of the scholarly liberal online publication “The Intercept,” stated this week in his blog,  “(…) the prevailing mentality in left-liberal politics is that even grave life-destroying accusations are to be treated as true without the need for any evidence.” Referencing that trend that began with the “Me Too” movement, Greenwald–who incidentally is a minority as a gay man–continues;  “They casually and with apparent glee ruin people’s reputations and lives without batting an eye the second someone utters an allegation of sexual misconduct. ” He continues, “And one is required to mindlessly accept such accusations as truth — never ask for evidence if it is true — if one wishes to remain in good standing in those circles and to avoid being smeared oneself as an apologist for sexual misconduct.”  Further, we see the same media mindset applied not only to allegations of sexual misconduct, but to allegations motivated by political rivalry, whether one is in the political arena or not.

(note: This in no means references factual, court proven cases of criminals such as Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby, and in no way demeans the important and factual cases that have gained attention thanks to the Me Too movement).

Indeed, we are ALL in the political arena today, whether we like it or not. And that political arena is a mud filled slop house of lies, trickery, and treachery, where truth is buried, and evil chicanery reigns supreme.

Bias Due to Advertising

The third problem in todays’ media, is media letting corporate or political interest groups or entities persuade themselves to soften, change, censor, or release a biased story. If you own a news outlet, and an advertiser offers to give you a million dollars to advertise their product, you happily may take the money. Then one day may come along hundreds or even thousands of people who claim they have been injured by that very product. But let’s say you already spent half the money, and really want the rest of the money. What do you do? If you are the mainstream media, you would generally tend to ignore the stories that came to you of those injured persons, at the peril of not only those very victims harmed by the product, but of future, potential victims that the product may harm who may see it from your ad. This is not only against the professional standards of journalism, but also reckless and immoral.

And yet, this is exactly what happens with regards to the pharmaceutical industry, and why many throughout the world are understandably concerned about potential adverse effects of vaccines, when particularly:

A, Major pharmaceutical manufactures have a less than ethical history in terms of dealing with their consumers and communicating risks of their products usage to their consumers, and  

B, The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (NCVIA) and its subsequent reinforcement by Supreme Court Justice Scalia argued in 2010, shamefully deciding in 2011 that vaccine makers are essentially “above the law,” and cannot be sued.

 Corporate Bias

Additionally, when a media outlet is owned by one person or a corporate group whose most powerful member(s) supports one side of a story, but not another, they may literally set the agenda for the news outlet, and literally forbid anything that goes against the narrative they believe in or support. Major news outlets have had phone calls “leaked” in which their top CEO tell their newsrooms how to attack one person or side of a story, and to ignore another side. Another news organization just had a leaked phone call in which one of their top producers admitted that the agenda of the organization was to defeat a politician and do whatever necessary to make that happen. This is not so much journalism, as it is propaganda.

Mainstream Media as a Propaganda Weapon

The other overt act of propaganda perpetrated by media is when it is consensually or at times unknowingly infiltrated by members of foreign political or intelligence agents, or U.S. political or intelligence agencies. Not only has this happened before, but it is happening right now. The “leak” of internationally based Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members, as reported in the Daily Mail (December 12, 2020) among other newspapers, indicates how Chinese Communist leaders have infiltrated nearly every top echelon of American power as well as much of mainstream American media. This is shocking, and dangerous to this country and any free society. Naturally, the infiltrated groups generally do not admit such a thing, and do not report on it. If they do, it’s a tiny item that passes into the history of endless articles and clips. When instead, this should be among the top news every day in American media, until the communist infiltrated persons are defeated.  Meanwhile, mainstream media reports the new trend of what they like to label as “conspiracy theorists” who demonstrate “racism” by being “against China.”

And so, mainstream media and the press, has largely over the years taken a justifiable blow to their image. Their reputations are for many–shot. They are no longer trusted by close to or even more than half of all Americans. And it is their own fault.

To attempt to alleviate or handle this problem, instead of doing the right thing and getting honest and ethical in their news reporting, they take the lower moral ground. They blame the public. More particularly, they blame the segment of the public that calls them out on their failures and untrustworthiness, attacking “their” credibility, and labeling them with everything from political smears to conspiracy theorists, to uneducated, or even mentally ill.

Concurrently, media reinforces the supremacist view they seek to indoctrinate into their readers, listeners and viewers, that “they,” the purveyors of the alleged “factual” media are good, “normal,” and right, while their alleged “enemy” (those who they disagree with) are bad.

Mainstream Media As Enemies of Freedom and Liberty

Some mainstream news outlets have disgustingly called for the “cancelling” and “de-platforming” of opinion leader bloggers and alternative news or opinion sites who they feel ideologically threatened by. And they have succeeded in these morally bankrupt moves. These condemnable actions by certain news outlets reveal their true colors. They do not support the free flow of ideas, freedom of speech, or a free nation. They are antithetical to everything that a free America or free country stands for. Instead, they care only about power and about the perpetuation of the “myth” that they are right, good, democratic, and noble in their propaganda. And let’s face it—when one media outlet attacks the free speech of another less powerful outlet, demanding their censorship, they are no longer journalists or reporters, they are indeed propagandists.

Conspiracy Theory

When two or more people secretly collude to do something nefarious against another, that is called a conspiracy. When it’s theoretical, and not proven, then it is a conspiracy theory. When the conspiracy is factual, and proven, it is no longer theoretical, it is a conspiracy of fact. Today, mainstream media, new-left politicians, and their followers malign anyone who opposes them or their beliefs by labeling them as conspiracy theorist, or similar. In actuality, many so-called conspiracy theories are not theories at all, they are fact.  And if they actually are theories, then they are not necessarily false, they are just not yet proven to be true. Yet the tyrants against freedom and freedom of thought know that most Americans are unfortunately careless or lazy when it comes to knowing the basic factual definitions of words. To call someone a conspiracy theorist in reality, does not even make sense when used in the context that the tyrants use it.  A conspiracy theorist technically is simply just a person who reads and / or hears about the conspiracy of events that are theoretical, and that could actually be true,  and relays that information in some manner, suggesting its consideration.

In reality, most mainstream media have become theorists, and not fact finders. That is, they engage in the reporting of things that could be true, but that they have not yet proven to be true. They often also cross the line, and themselves create theories, positing them as true, when they are not. This is of course, a conspiracy against the American public. As such, the majority of mainstream media are the actual conspirators pushing conspiracy against the public.

Take for example, the alleged “weapons of mass destruction” that the mainstream media told us Saddam Hussein had, and was going to use against us in the United States, as was the false narrative dictated by the Bush Administration at that time around 2002.  As Noam Chomsky reminds us in “Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Domination,” Bush and the mainstream media further perpetuated the lie that Saddam was responsible for the 9-11 attack and was “planning others.” (pg3). More lies.

After weapons inspectors found no so-called weapons of mass destruction, the propaganda campaign had yet been carried out so successfully by the George Bush / Tony Blair alliance in consort with the mainstream media propaganda machine, that they had the political power to invade Iraq, kill scores of innocent women, men, and children, and kill Saddam Hussein anyway.

J.D. Maddox, a national security consultant and an adjunct professor at George Mason University, who led intelligence and national security activities in the Army,  Homeland Security, and CIA among more, states in the January 9th, 2020 issue of The New York Times Magazine;

“The time-tested tropes of war for freedom and war of liberation had been used masterfully, and had been enabled by false claims of the Hussein regime’s involvement with Al Qaeda. We were fighting in a fantasy and our leaders knew it, even while we were there, yet we persisted.”  Mr. Maddox added, “I was repulsed by the idea that we could have been so easily manipulated.”

This several part essay will be continued with its next segment here May 10, 2021.

Bruce Edwin is founding publisher of The Hollywood Sentinel, CEO of Starpower Management, and screenwriter and producer with Bruce Edwin Productions.  Bruce’s work has been published worldwide,  and he has interviewed countless rock stars, movie stars, and intellectual leaders.  An environmental activist, vegetarian, and human rights activist since he was a teenager, today Bruce is an avid mountain hiker, martial arts enthusiast, and vegan.


//Press Release Below//

Disco Donnie Presents the notorious Freaky Deaky talent announcement for Friday October 29 and Saturday October 30, 2021 bringing electronic music fans the largest and most incredible dance music festival in Texas this Halloween weekend – Freaky Deaky. You don’t want to miss this chance to escape earthly inhibitions with the most ghoulish in the game.

Get your spook on this Halloween and celebrate with friends to a sinister soundtrack provided by the world’s most devious DJs including, tech-house favorite Claude VonStroke and a Dirtybird Stage Takeover, the deathly talented Deadmau5Green VelvetExcisionZeds Dead and More.
You will be sure to get the zombies moving and dancing on the dark side with massive exclusive B2B sets from the fiercist in the underground with DJs J. Worra B2B Vnssa, plus Sage Armstrong B2B LucatiFreddy Todd B2B Mr Bill and 12th Planet B2B Riot Ten.
For the first time at this historic event, Disco Donnie Presents is offering camping on site.  Fans have the opportunity to choose from many camping packages including Tent Camping, Car Camping,  RV Camping, Premium RV Camping, and Max RV Camping.
More information on camping options will be announced soon.
Camping is for 18+ years and older.
Textual content by Bruce Edwin is © 2021, Bruce Edwin, music related content is partly courtesy of press releases from the publicity departments. SeX pIsToLs video is courtesy of the label. Ads or commercials are NOT endorsed by us.

HAIM Soars in 2020

HAIM: HAIM’s third album, the 11 track crowd pleaser titled ‘Women In Music Pt. III’ (Columbia Records) dropped recently, racking up tons of accolades. Hailing from Cali, the Grammy winners blend solid songwriting with classic college rock flair.  If HAIM has not been on your radar yet, now is the time to seriously listen. Fans of Cat Power, Pretenders, Tracy Chapman, and Kimbra will appreciate their solid, unique craft.

Listen to  ‘Steps’ here below from HAIM’s ‘Women In Music Pt. III,’ and guys–find out what ladies do in the bathroom when you’re not watching.

Blending elements of rock, folk, and jazz with some outstanding saxophone, and lovely harmonizing, HAIM soars with this new album. This would have been a stunning feat a year ago. In 2020 during the age of the virus and shutdown, it is nothing short of mind blowing and praiseworthy. Excellent work, and powerful, brilliant songwriting.

Bloody White: A new 20 year-old artist just broke out on the scene, who has reportedly been tracking cuts since he was a freaken’ baby at 11 years old. Startlingly unique, with trippy, trancey-wave-like vibes of melancholic chill, Bloody White creates Lost in Translation  moments of Tame Impala style moods crossed with Lil’ Peep flows, albeit sans the heavy drugs. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Rita Wilson: Married to a superstar, it might be easy for Rita Wilson to get labeled as “Tom Hanks wife.”  Lately however, Tom should be getting called “Rita Wilson’s husband.”  A true talent in her own right,  Rita Wilson is not only a  celebrated actress, film producer, and philanthropist, she is also undeniably–a truly gifted singer.

In March of 2019 she received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame celebrating her career in films including “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Now And Then.”  She has also appeared in TV series including “Girls” and “The Good Wife” among others. As a producer, she has dominated the  box office with hits including “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Mamma Mia!”

With her first love being music, Rita Wilson has released four studio albums. Her most recent album “Halfway to Home, “and its single “Throw Me A Party” shines, and her cut “Where’s My Country Song” below, harkens to the early days of classic country stars such as Linda Ronstadt.

Surviving Covid19 after publicly sharing how she and her husband contracted the virus, Rita Wilson proves to be a inspiration not only musically, but as a human being.


From the Streets of L.A.

By Moira Cue

Moira Cue is an award winning fine artist, singer / songwriter, and actress. Her artwork is in collections world wide, and she has appeared on stages including The Mint, The Viper Room, Heaven Gallery, and The Key Club among more. 

Yesterday, after months in isolation, I drove to downtown LA for the first time. It was not the same place I lived for nine years. The first sign was a military Humvee full of national guardsmen parked on the side of the 110 freeway, something I had never seen before. I drove to a parking lot, hoping to charge my electrical vehicle and validate at Target. There was a big sign in front, saying Target was closed until further notice. I remember Target when it was Macy’s and I remember the B.R. period; Before Ralph’s (much less Whole Foods). When downtown was a ghost town after five pm, before most of the luxury lofts sprang up. Before it was cool to live there.

Maybe there is nothing whiter than quoting REM. But “Everybody hurts, sometimes.” And lately, it seems to me, that “sometimes” happens to be now for a whole lot more people than what we are used to in America. The “shining city on a hill” has given way to “American carnage.”

Speaking of 1992, it was not just the year of REM. It was the year the Rodney King beating was caught on video tape, followed by riots in Los Angeles County that left 63 dead and more than 2000 people injured. After receiving a more than three-million-dollar civil judgment against the LAPD, Rodney King died in 2012, at the age of 47, in an accidental drowning in his swimming pool, fueled by a combination of drugs and alcohol in his system.

He is most widely known for saying, “Can’t we just get along?” but what he actually said was slightly more verbose: “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?”

It has been eighteen years since the Rodney King beating, eight years after King’s death (the same year George Zimmerman murdered Treyvon Martin), and five years after the unrest in Baltimore following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody. And now the death of George Floyd, which we all know about, seems to have been a spark in the tinderbox. It is not just Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York, and Santa Monica on fire. For me, it feels like my brain is burning.

“…Can we get along?”

 We are in the middle of a pandemic, many more millions of people are unemployed than have been since the Great Depression, and racial inequality is suddenly front and center in the news in a dramatic way. So why not, I thought, see for myself what I have only seen in the papers?

I drove down 7th, seeing exponentially more boarded up stores than had been present prior to the area’s revitalization. I started driving circles around blocks, surveying the collateral damage. Spray paint. Smashed windows. Dozens of clusters of men in camo with automatic rifles, like some occupied third world country.

In the middle of Grand, not the curb, a group of affluent African-Americans sat inside a parked Mercedes that looked like it cost at least six figures. They were completely decked out in sporty designer everything, notably the richest-looking people I saw all day. Because the normal lunch work crowd of well-heeled corporate types was missing. They had not come back from the pandemic; they have been laid off or are working from home. And loft-dwelling women with young children, who might normally be running errands during the day, were nowhere to be seen.

The homeless, the agitated, the police and military, a few young, intrepid trendy types, and the working poor made up the majority of those walking around on foot. Driving around a corner, I saw a volunteer crew with gloves, rags, and cleaning supplies, working to repair the damage that had been done after several nights of looting and rioting. I decided it would make me happy to join in and continued to look for a place to park nearby. I wound up near 7th and Main, an edgier side of the city. A barefoot man in jeans and a T-shirt lounged, sitting on the dirty sidewalk outside a fried chicken shack, arguing to the air about the many wrongs he had endured. Some of the Mexican restaurants with juice bars and pizza places were open, some knock-off sneakers were being sold, and many stores simply had boarded windows.

I had to walk a few blocks back to the work crew, passing a group of LAPD without protective face masks on the corner. I greeted them with a smile, asked how they were doing, and thanked them for their service. They seemed genuinely happy for my appreciation. I also passed a young, rocker type young man with a cell phone who was taping the National Guard and taunting them. They ignored him.

By the time I got to the volunteers, half had stopped working and half were removing graffiti from a Komatsu crawler crane. I asked if I could lend a hand and was immediately greeted with a friendly welcome chorus. (The group was organized by LA Works.) Several women introduced themselves and then I decided to ask questions. A young lady named Amy answered most of them. Amy, though white, was a dedicated Black Lives Matter activist. Not only had she been out protesting night after night, but she and other protesters had been working since 7:00 in the morning to clean up after people she described as “anarchists” had used the protests as an opportunity to create mayhem. “That’s not what Black Lives Matter is about,” she said.

Amy was wearing a face mask, but not every organizer was. When I caught up with a young man named Reeyan, who declined to be interviewed on camera, he was walking with a crowd of just less than a dozen people shoulder-to-shoulder, with his surgical mask under his chin. “Do you mind if I ask you, do you have any health concerns? About spreading COVID?” Reeyan stated that he had a background in emergency management, but his primary health concern was whether the homeless would get access to medical care, not COVID-19. When pressed, he concluded that the increased availability of coronavirus testing made getting sick a non-issue for him personally. (In fact, despite the gradual reopening of LA County, new coronavirus cases have continued to climb upward since March, and as of June 4, 2020, there have been about 2500 deaths—more than half of just under 4500 deaths statewide. The New York Times estimates that at least 57,000 people have had the virus in LA County.) When my conversation with Reeyan was interrupted to let us know we were going back to base camp rather than another cleaning site, I turned in my unused supplies and started walking the other direction, hoping to get to talk to a few more Los Angelenos about the strange times we are living though.

A group of four national guardsmen, all weighed down in heavy tactical gear, looked like they could use a little friendly conversation. But when I introduced myself as a blogger, the biggest and most intimidating of them, wearing reflective glasses, stepped forward in a defensive stance, and they whispered among themselves only to offer to refer me to the office in charge of PR. “Oh, well,” I said, “How about I just ask you one human being to another, how are you doing? What is it like to be down here? Off the record.” At that point, even the tall muscular guy who was a little older and more seasoned than the others smiled and relaxed. The one with the baby face, who had been most eager to talk, opened up and the others chimed in with their comments and impressions. Since it was off the record, I do not want to break their trust or get anybody in trouble. But as I fell asleep later that night listening to a YouTube video on “sense-making,” I reflected on Daniel Schmachtenberger’s distinction between truth and truthfulness. He talked about our social media and cultural information siloes and increasing ability to filter out any information that detracts from what we already believe.

In other words, between Amy and the LA Works group of volunteers, and the young men on active duty called in from other parts of California to keep the peace, there was no difference in truthfulness: each came from a desire to serve, and both expressed their beliefs about why they were there with complete sincerity. I could describe both groups as idealistic, values-driven, and concerned about being misperceived, misportrayed (even in a small independent blog) or misunderstood.

All four active duty service members were without any type of face mask and none made any effort to keep back. So, when I saw another guardsman with an army-issued green cloth face covering (in 90-degree heat) I stopped to ask him why he was wearing one when so many other people were not.  He admitted they “weren’t supposed to express any personal opinions” as if he was feeling out whether or not I was asking anything dangerous when I asked if they had been issued protective gear like N95 masks and what the leadership was doing to protect them from COVID. He said he felt bad wearing the mask because people couldn’t see him smile and didn’t know how friendly he was with it on, and that he and his squadmate, who got out of the Humvee to join in the conversation, were “a little more careful” than some of the other guys, perhaps because his wife was a nurse. At one point he revealed that he just figured he would get it and there was nothing he could do. “People have spit in my face. I have been around so many people. I keep getting tested and I do everything I can but eventually it’s just going to happen,” he said, with a mix of resignation and anxiety. “Oh, you’ll be fine,” I reassured him. “I got sick in March. Most of us will be fine.” As we talked, he seemed to come to a resolution, “I’ll talk to somebody. I’ll tell somebody,” he said.

When you live or work downtown for any period of time you learn there are people you do not talk to. There are people with very obvious schizophrenia and people who are in the active throws of a psychotic episode. You see this every day. There were two women who were lucid enough to know that there is a great deal of race-pain and race-rage active this week but otherwise struggling to “sense make.” One warned me not to get close to her; the other waved a wooden crucifix at another group of guards, practicing some sort of impromptu exorcism while hurling epithets. They remained impassive.

Since the cause of the protests rocking our country is police brutality against African-American men, and aside from one LAPD officer everyone else I’d conversed with was from other races, I wanted to make sure to connect with other Black voices downtown who had witnessed the situation locally. Three different security guards were the friendliest faces to fit that bill. The first, Kevin, asked me how I was doing, and I said I was having some feelings, then I asked him how he was doing. Kevin, it turns out, had applied for unemployment months ago but not gotten anything yet. He was a baker, but no one was taking his pies, and the looting provided him with his first job in weeks—but he really lit up talking about Normandie’s. And asked me to follow him on Instagram. So, if you want to support a small, local, Black business, please follow Kevin at @kevin202014 (security/chef/artist). Maybe you can order some pie.

The other two guys did not look like security guards (Kevin had a uniform, these two were dressed in street clothes) but were just as friendly. I told them I used to live downtown but hadn’t been there in a while, and they hadn’t been there in a while either, until they got called to guard one of the stores that had been hit. We all felt a little shock and sadness. “There’s so much going on right now, and I just feel for … everybody,” I said. “That’s very well put,” one of the men said. “How are you feeling?” I asked. “HOT!” they said. “Yeah, I’m dripping sweat,” I admitted, walking back to the car.

When you have been socially isolated for so long, and you go out to a population dense area, all those people are so much more memorable: The Latin American immigrant woman sweeping up a glass storefront shattered to pieces the size of marbles, who I told I was so sorry she had to clean this up. The thin dark skinned man with blue eyes and dreadlocks at Whole Foods, who was talking to someone else and all I heard was the phrase “Black people…” but the gist of it was something about accomplishing peace through consciousness, and his very presence spoke of both peace and consciousness. The rows and rows of squadrons moving in and moving out in a trail of Humvees outside the LAPD headquarters, the presence of military efficiency—for peace or law and order. The rows of tents filled with mostly men of all races, many tan white and Latino, some with tattoos, some in various states of half-nakedness, all living in dire poverty, and mostly, as Reeyan pointed out, without access to medical care except for emergency technicians who themselves are still at heightened risk. And as I drove through the gates of Chinatown, I glimpsed, in the grass, face-down, sobbing and heaving, a Black man in a white polo shirt and the throws of utter despair. I wondered if he were sick, or if I could help, but I was already on my way to the freeway and knew from experience that stopping rarely improves anything. Sometimes you can offer water or a few kind words. There is not much you can do.

Everybody hurts, sometimes. But some people hurt all the time. And while “we” think about Black people this week, and Black people tell us they think about racism every day of every week and they’re tired, really the only thing you can tell about someone by the color of their skin is the color of their skin. All you can tell by the clothes they wear (including a uniform) is what clothes they are wearing. So even if it is something small, like a smile, or asking if someone is ok, let us try do that. Let us try a little extra kindness. Please. Sometimes pain is obvious, the man sobbing in the grass; but sometimes it is not. You cannot tell. You don’t know. Just assume that everybody needs a little extra love. And be safe, and pray for peace, because your life is worth it.

(subnormal magazine states:  The person interviewed in this story provided no proof that anarchists were causing chaos, which has in many cases, found to be caused by members of certain “political” groups. Not all anarchists  support violence, chaos, or the destruction of property).