Welp, there’s no point in talking about anything else today.
Trump got the virus and yes I do hope he dies but that’s nothing new, I’ve been saying where are the lone gunmen when we need them for four years now. I’m not sorry about this by the way. You cannot shame me into showing any sympathy toward a fascist, albeit an incompetent one. Not like the next one we’re going to get. If you profess to feel sympathy for him I would ask you to honestly interrogate whether you really do or if it’s just about civility or some other functionally dead concept in American politics.
On the other side, I see a lot of takes about the poetic justice in this and that’s only going to pan out if he dies and if he doesn’t then it all blows up in our faces and he gets to play this to his base as yet another way he bodied the media and that’s really all they want to see out of him so can we not go there yet? But we’re already going there.
We can’t help but entertain ourselves with stories like this as the planet careens into inhospitality and the hard right continues to win every actually significant battle in the war to loot the American coffer first and the Democrats lie content to lap up the sloppy seconds while going “see, we’re better than the other guys!”
If Trump and the American empire die by the same hand, that would be pretty fitting, though. That’s getting two birds stoned at once.
I had to hold the story I was originally going to write today, which is much better than this post, but there’s no point in releasing anything unrelated to the news of the day on a day such as this. It would get lost and I don’t want it to get lost.
Instead, I want to focus on this video.
I scrolled past it this morning and I was stunned. I can’t stop watching it. Amid the mood of the day, this video contains a darkness that’s hard to articulate.
“Wooooow,” the man says in the tone of feigned excitement required by public events like this one. “What is going on?”
The Smiley Ball unveiling ceremony went off without a hitch, as I’m sure we’ll read later today in the Telegram or MassLive. The event, they’ll say, was well attended.
Never-you-mind that the city is already moving to refinance the ballpark project and it’s not even done yet. Never-you-mind we’re surely heading into a titanic market crash and the developer who’s supposed to make this thing Pay For Itself has already reduced the size of the project and we haven’t even hit the crash yet. Never-you-mind that the financials don’t even take into consideration the lasting detrimental effects a drive-and-park style development will have on a neighborhood that was organically growing into something you might see in a real city. Somewhere you could walk around and hit up a few places on the same strip and feel like you’re actually in a dense urban environment a city the size of Worcester should have. We could have had Dive Bar, Crompton Collective, the Worcester Public Market and The Cove all on one street with countless other businesses mixed in between, and it could have been the real urban heart of the city—a real organic destination point—but instead we just plopped this big fat waste of urban space right down next to it and it’s going to suck the life out of it slowly because Green Street and Polar Park are built on two incompatible ideas of how to use urban space. Dive Bar and The Cove are gone and now we’ll just have to wait and see who’s next.
But there’s Smiley Ball, high-fiving and swinging for the fences.
Because I’m happyyyyyyy
It’s World Smile Day here in Worcester, the annual day we take to reflect on the Harvey Ball Smile and feel a bit of Worcester pride for being the birth place of such an internationally renowned symbol. This year it’s even better because we get to watch a bunch of millionaires who hoodwinked our elected officials into giving them almost $200 million trot out a hilariously terrible bastardization of said symbol. I mean we can all agree this mascot sucks, right?
It’s fitting though, to see what they’ve done with the mascot when you consider the history of the Harvey Ball Smile. Ball was commissioned to create the image by an insurance company here in Worcester which was laying off a bunch of employees. The lay-offs, understandably, lowered worker morale, so to fix this, management commissioned the graphic and made pins and posters and in so many words said “smile, sweetheart, you still have a job! You should be happy!”
The Smile, an image rooted in the intention of convincing disgruntled laborers to be content with what they’re given, then goes internationally viral. It’s one of the most recognizable in the world. That’s awful telling, isn’t it? The smile contains some unspoken potency that makes it so resonant and it’s not such a stretch to think maybe, just maybe, it has more to do with the disgruntled laborers than the image itself.
And then it boomerangs back home to Worcester. A for-profit company is draining city resources in exchange for the tenuous promise of economic development and a tangential brand association with a sports team and the narrative of a city on the rise. And now they’ve got us hostage. We need you to buy us pretty things or we’ll leave, they’ll say. Do you want to end up like Pawtucket? they’ll say. And they trot out Smiley Ball and they say “smile, sweetheart, you have a baseball team now.”
The president might die and the West Coast is on fire and ICE agents are practicing eugenics on immigrant women in camps and street gangs of New American Nazis are prepping to lock, load and patrol polling places and then there’s Smiley Ball giving out high fives because he’s happyyyyy.
This was a weird one, huh? It’s been a weird morning. I appreciate all of you so much for reading and as always I’d ask you to consider subscribing to and sharing my work so I can do more of it.
In actually good news, the folks behind The Bridge are putting on a really cool art show tonight. They’re painting a huge Black Power mural on the property and they’re going to have some exhibition work and food too. I highly suggest checking it out and I’ll be there after work so mask up and come say hi. It’s right behind Miss Worcester Diner on Southbridge Street.
I will likely have a write-up on it tomorrow.
I wrote about The Bridge once for Worcester Magazine. It’s really cool. The sort of thing that makes Worcester such a good city. It’s easy to get down on the the leadership of this city but what you have to remember is there are so many cool people here doing cool entrepreneurial things all the time and they’re doing them without the help of—and oftentimes in spite of—the city government and they need your support and involvement and energy and together we can build cool things in the quiet places City Hall can’t see.
‘Til next time, folks. Maybe even tomorrow.