former los angeles angels relief pitcher ty buttrey retired unexpectedly from professional baseball on april 3rd, 2021 at age 28.
buttrey released a personal statement on instagram during the first week of a new season. he candidly admitted his success had been motivated by money and the opportunity to prove people wrong, rather than joy or love for the game. his statement includes an emphasized, bolded section about his desire to ‘prove every motherfucker wrong’ who had ever doubted him.
the sports media cliche farm only reluctantly acknowledges an outside, non-sporting world, when it has to. a painful cognitive dissonance is poked at whenever fans and media members acknowledge the pageantry and analysis they perform is basically pointless, and that anyone can simply opt out of ‘sports’ as a concept, at any time.
ty buttrey would have been one of the angels’ most important relief pitchers this year and potentially for years to come. when a gifted person chooses to pursue an alternative path, other people are inevitably going to respond with jealousy and scorn. maybe this is less true now than it used to be, given the increased public dialogue about mental health. maybe not.
to me, the venomous tone of buttrey’s statement suggests his decision is still motivated by the desire to prove people wrong, in a different way.
more than any other sport, baseball is defined by failure. the vast majority of pro players have a tenuous grip on a career. guys who are good, solid pros stop being good at the drop of a hat, every year. thousands more grind through the minor leagues, playing for poverty wages, and never make it.
sometimes, it’s okay to move on.
this is a story about how we think about our lives in a collapsing empire. assigning blame is inherently a reductive exercise. it’s undeniable that powerful people have become truly, perhaps irreparably, sick with bloodthirst, greed and callous indifference. and those of us without power have followed suit. the vast majority of people, whether or not they would admit it, have come to terms with the devaluation of human life across the globe.
to move forward we must reject a worldview based around the existence of good guys and bad guys, a reality that never existed and never will.
albums of 2019
billy woods & kenny segal – hiding places
mavi – let the sun talk
better oblivion community center – better oblivion community center
dababy – baby on baby
freddie gibbs & madlib – bandana
florist – emily alone
solange – when i get home
roddy ricch – please excuse me for being antisocial
lucki – freewave 3
ecco 2k – e
maxo kream – brandon banks
drego and beno – sorry for the get off
angel olsen – all mirrors
father – hu$band ep
body meat – truck music
jean dawson – bad sports
tyler the creator – igor
jamila woods – legacy! legacy!
baby keem – die for my bitch
earl sweatshirt – feet of clay
pleasure systems – terraform
injury reserve – injury reserve
quelle chris – guns
one of the best pieces of writing i read last year came in response to the text, ‘what do you think your kids will be like’, from somebody i had never met in person.
‘you have to take out their families’, said presidential candidate donald trump in 2015, a characteristically simple take on what he viewed to be the optimal military strategy to defeat isis. since his formal entrance into politics, trump’s belligerent, gleefully offensive rhetoric has been perceived by liberals as brutal and beyond the pale of standard political discourse in the united states.
when it comes to drone warfare and so-called ‘counterterrorism’ efforts in africa, south asia and the middle east, donald trump’s audacious, violent rhetoric produced policies that aligned with the existing precedent of bipartisan american brutality. america was ‘taking out their families’, as well as civilians with no connection to any armed conflict, well before donald trump took office.
the concept of counterterrorism was born under the george w. bush administration. the post-9/11 american public was ready and eager to roll back civil liberties in the name of frothing islamophobia. the first u.s. drone strike was conducted in afghanistan on october 7th, 2001. the predator drone from this attack is now owned and displayed by the national air and space museum in washington dc.
despite a popular mandate to end endless war, the united states military expanded their reliance on drone strikes during barack obama’s administration. obama authorized more drone strikes in his first nine months in office than bush had in the preceding three years. drones allowed our military to continue fighting endless wars with fewer boots on the ground and a lower profile, preserving the notion that obama was anti-war.
during the obama years, the process of deciding who to kill and why became highly collaborative.
the vast bureaucracy was described in the new york times in 2012:
‘every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die.’
the times also reported, obama insisted on making the ‘final moral calculation himself’ about when it was okay to kill via drone.
their chosen metaphor to aid in the decision making process was a baseball card. a professional ballplayer’s whole career, potentially thousands of games, are summed up by a list of numbers on a card that fits in one’s pocket. in the eyes of the u.s. government, the same goes for accused terrorists. no due process, no trial. if your on-base percentage is high enough, we are coming to kill you.
to obfuscate the number of civilians killed by drones, the military expanded an existing precedent to retroactively count anyone killed in the vicinity of a strike as an ‘enemy combatant’. the united states and their coalition allies took responsibility for 841 civilian deaths in their war against isis between 2014 and 2018. a more reasonable estimate stands in the multiple thousands according to airwars, a nonprofit that tracks and archives strikes.
president obama found the strikes useful and wanted to increase their perceived legitimacy. he chose to comment publicly about drones for the first time during his second term. characteristically, obama chose his words carefully and paid lip service to criticisms, without indication that he planned to alter course in any significant way. in a televised interview he said it was important to avoid a slippery slope or ‘bending rules, thinking that the ends always justify the means’.
in 2015, the intercept published ‘the drone papers’, providing the most comprehensive look at the drone program to date. the source behind the leak, a former member of the american intelligence community, said about u.s. drone policy: ‘this outrageous explosion of watchlisting – of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards’, assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield – it was, from the very first instance, wrong’.
one in five drone strikes results in unintended civilian casualties. brown university’s cost of war project estimates 335,000 civilians have died in iraq, syria, yemen, pakistan and somalia as a result of the united states’ war on terror. this number accounts only for deaths from direct combat, without accounting for poverty, malnutrition, mental illness and other reverberations of war.
in august 2018, a drone was deployed in northern yemen by u.s. coalition allies, killing 26 children on a school bus.
the trump administration put their own stamp on the drone program by delegating responsibility and reducing transparency measures. major changes to drone policy included walking back the standard of ‘near certainty’ required to justify a strike and changing the rules so lower level commanders could call in strikes without approval from the president or senior advisors. the number of strikes continued to dramatically rise, approaching 40 strikes per day in september of 2019.
we have a legal precedent that allows for some dude in langley to press a button and blow up eight people, because a baseball card says their stats are high enough to pose a credible threat to the united states. inertia suggests it will probably stay this way. the drone program continues to hide in plain sight amidst a sea of bureaucracy and inherited moral failure passed down through administrations . it has become cliche to point out the blank check given by congress to the military, whose annual budget for 2021 is over $740 billion.
joe biden is the president of the united states these days, as you may have heard.
biden appointed avril haines as the new director of national intelligence. she is the first woman to ever hold this positon, a fact that has been celebrated in prestigious national publications from the wall street journal to npr. haines said she ‘never shied away from speaking truth to power’ during brief public remarks after being nominated.
haines previously served as white house counsel during the first obama term, and then as the deputy director of the cia from 2013 to 2015. she created the legal framework that effectively legalized extrajudicial killings outside of an active war zone, interpreting and bending established united states law to allow for kill lists, baseball cards and the steady escalation of drone warfare.
unlike obama, biden has never pretended to stand for a less militant foreign policy, or fundamental change on any level.
there is no such thing as a waste of time.
there is no such thing as a good person.
i highly encourage you to explore my music, available at danielporter.bandcamp.com
thank you to everyone who has ever listened to me.
you waited for me to say something.
we stared for the longest time.
i hear people talk a lot about lived experience but what other kind of experience is there.
staying alive is solidarity,
language has no body. you can’t kill a message.
no offense but,
i spent a lot of my twenties investing time and energy and being taken advantage of by deeply selfish people,
i’m not doing that anymore,
the only way to avoid being taken advantage of is to stop helping people,
and i’m not doing that either.
last year i learned about a woman with terminal illness. given three months to live, she begged her job to let her keep working.
my grandfather has been dead for thirteen years. when i look at a certain picture i still remember what he smelled like,
in a pinch, a man sold me some gas out of a five gallon tank he kept in his truck bed. i handed over a ten dollar bill. we lifted the tank from either side and carefully poured the gas together. land is cheap out there. there’s not much water. he told me, with some urgency, never to bring a firearm into mexico.
i’ve never been a big ‘let people believe what they want’ guy but i guess sometimes it is necessary,
you got the same google as me,
how embarrassing it is, to have a face, and a job,
what if i’m not the type,
everybody is a theorist.
together we will learn, painstakingly, to sit perfectly still. you will pull the words out of me like a sliver. my eyes will water. your hands run through my hair.
and there we’ll be.
ari lennox – shea butter baby
cousin stizz – trying to find my next thrill
mike – tears of joy
lucy dacus – 2019
danny brown – uknowhatimsayin
sada baby – bartier bounty
ruby yacht – 37 gems
toro y moi – outer peace
100 gecs – 1000 gecs
young thug – so much fun
juice wrld – death race for love
megan thee stallion – fever
fka twigs – magdalene
zelooperz – dyn o myte
flying lotus – flamagra
chief keef – glotoven
babyface ray – mia season 2
dababy – kirk
lil tecca – we love you tecca
rico nasty – anger management
jpegmafia – all my heroes are cornballs
yung nudy & pierre bourne – sli’merre
medhane – own pace
future – save me
veeze – navy wavy
billy woods – terror management
how would you describe yourself?
growing up i never wanted to write but i loved words.
let’s say you want to write. or even that you care about stuff. your environment, your city, the people closest to you, the things right in front of your face. eventually, you might have to make a choice about what to document, and how.
not everything needs to be described,
after george floyd was murdered in minneapolis, i remember coming and going from various protests. seeing floods of people after being stuck inside from quarantine for months. the guilt that came from standing shoulder to shoulder, before we eventually found out that almost nobody involved in the protests picked up coronavirus because we were outside wearing masks.
years happen in weeks.
like a lot of people i was glued to the unicorn riot feed, which provided some of the most informative and essential journalism.
the night before the precinct burned, i came home late with sour tear gas embedded in my nostrils. i sat down in the shower until i couldn’t smell it anymore.
the night the precinct burned, i sat on the roof of my studio three miles way and watched the smoke billow across south minneapolis.
i think i called danny epstein.
some acting in good faith, many in bad faith, sought to create narratives about culpability and who was burning things and why.
people with a limited historical frame would prefer to believe that minneapolis residents do not feel angry enough to burn and destroy things.
you are not going to catch me burning down a wendy’s, or a police station, even though i might wish that i could.
on an ideological level, i support violence as a tactic. when utilized by the systemically oppressed, violence can send a political statement to those who might mistake order for justice. peace and social harmony are choices we collectively make each day, not an inevitability.
documentation isn’t the right thing to do but i saw a lot.
i have some experience with physical exhaustion. i know that it typically comes in waves. i know what the human body is capable of, when you have to dig deep and politely ask yourself for that second, third, or even fourth wave of energy. it’s scary to think, what if my reserves are sufficiently depleted, what if i try to scrape the sides of the bowl there will be nothing left. but our bodies are resilient.
in 1934, minneapolis was a major commercial center for the upper midwest, with over half a million residents. during the great depression, unemployment hovered around 25% in minnesota and across the united states.
despite abysmal economic conditions, organized labor had gained no traction in minneapolis up to this point. a group called citizens alliance represented the political interests of local business elites. the new deal granted workers the right to collectively bargain with employers in a ‘closed shop’ for the first time, rather than as individual employees. citizens alliance worked to make sure labor unions achieved no footing in minneapolis.
in january of 1934, american communists including v.r. dunne and carl skoglund gained influence over local 574, a small union of fewer than 100 truck drivers. they created an ambitious citywide strategy to aggressively expand the union. the first step in their plan was to move the union beyond truck drivers and include factory workers and dock workers who helped pack and unload trucks.
local 574 caught citizens alliance off guard in february 1934. Through the organized shutdown of 65 coal companies that heated the city, coal drivers gained a 25% wage increase. their strategy to target coal, the most essential commodity during a harsh midwest winter, worked perfectly.
both sides knew workers would lose leverage in the warmer weather as the demand for coal dwindled. the newly ascendant union had to continue to expand or risk losing their momentum over the summer.
citizens alliance kept extensive data on employees, allowing them to easily identify and blacklist labor organizers. they had the police and courts squarely on their side, and even a private army of intimidators they paid to fight when necessary.
with newfound confidence and notoriety from the coal strike, local 574 quickly added thousands of drivers, warehouse and loading dock workers to their ranks. they started to publish a daily newspaper to communicate directly with workers and the general public, and to combat redbaiting from those who claimed the union sought to create a communist revolution.
on april 15th,1934, local 574 held a rally attended by at least three thousand workers at a large warehouse space in downtown minneapolis. this warehouse had started to function as union headquarters which included a kitchen and hospital staffed by volunteers, as well as a stage and sound system for large gatherings.
a citywide general strike formally began in may.
the governor of minnesota in 1934 was floyd olson, a member of the farmer-labor party, a left party absorbed by democrats during the 1940s. olson campaigned as a friend to organized labor and publicly supported the strike, even donating $500 to local 574. strike leaders invited him to their april 15th rally, hoping to leverage the governor’s popularity. through a surrogate, olson issued a statement including the following excerpt: ‘it is my counsel, if you wish to accept it, that you should follow the sensible course and band together for your own protection and welfare’.
james cannon, a contributor to the strike, said about their attitude to push floyd olson:
‘he was caught in a squeeze between his obligations to do something, or appear to do something for the workers and his fear of letting the strike get out of bounds. our policy was to exploit these contradictions, to demand things of him because he was labor’s governor, to take everything we could get and holler every day for more.’
local 574 made allies across minneapolis. they received a steady stream of covert information leaked to them by sympathetic secretaries and janitors working for citizens alliance. one third of minneapolis’ adult population was unemployed, the union worked to build solidarity with the unemployed to reduce recruitment potential of scab workers.
the minneapolis police department instigated violence with impunity by regularly beating picketers with clubs and bats, and responding with disproportionate force when strikers attempted to physically prevent scab trucks from making deliveries.
on may 19th the police used spies to infiltrate the union. they sprung a trap and beat workers who showed up, which left dozens with broken bones and bloody wounds.
strikers got their revenge a few days later during a skirmish known as ‘deputies run’. this time the cops were caught off guard and hundreds of officers were forced to hastily retreat from an angry mob. 30 police officers were hospitalized, two died.
a tenuous ceasefire agreement was reached on may 31st, 1934. this brought strikers back to work for a short time. after bosses immediately reneged on wage increases, the union recorded over 700 grievances and planned another strike.
during the ceasefire, the chief of police requested and received a 100% budget increase to hire 400 new officers. these new recruits were to be ‘trained like an army to handle riots’. both sides prepared for war.
on monday, july 16th, the strike was back on. this time, things escalated faster.
dubbed ‘bloody friday’, july 20th brought the largest and most pernicious battle of the strike. a scab truck with a police escort was intercepted by strikers, police retaliated by opening fire on the largely unarmed crowd, wounding 67 picketers and killing two.
that night, fifteen thousand workers gathered at the strike headquarters. a citywide transit strike began on july 23rd. on july 24th, 100,000 people marched in minneapolis to protest the killing of henry ness by the minneapolis police department.
governor olson, facing pressure from citizens alliance and the mayor of minneapolis, grew to see the strike as a potential liability for his political future. olson declared martial law on july 26th, sending in the national guard and banning picketing throughout minneapolis.
the presence of the national guard gave 574 more ammo. they issued a rallying cry to workers across the city and recruitment continued. workers were reminded that even friendly politicians like olson could not be trusted or relied upon, instead that their power came from banding together through class solidarity.
one thousand national guardsmen pulled up at the headquarters, in the middle of the night on august 1st, to arrest strike leaders. by this point, 130 union members had already been arrested and detained by the national guard in connection with the strike.
citizens alliance was forced to acknowledge the strike had become considerably more expensive than simply increasing wages, as workers originally demanded. the july-august strike may have cost the city as much as 50 million dollars. in the end, significant concessions were achieved through collective bargaining. wages increased for workers and the systematic targeting of union leaders was banned.
the strike ended on august 21st.
in 1935 the national labor relations act passed. quickly, unions had a significant presence across the city of minneapolis. minneapolis’ transport industry was fully unionized by the end of 1936. a major part of the strike’s legacy was the inclusion of so called ‘unskilled’ factory workers in union 574.
in 1941, eighteen leaders from union 574 were sentenced to federal prison in accordance with the smith act, which criminalized openly associating with communists. they served sentences ranging from twelve to sixteen months. the smith act was ruled unconstitutional in 1957.
One thought on “blog one”
I really liked this read. I didn’t know about Minneapolis’s history of labor organizing, or the details behind the drone program through the last few administrations. I wish all of this was widely known. I respect the idea that blame is a pointless game but I resent that the most viewed forms of media have never and likely will never shift national attention towards these truths. Thanks for writing.