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Derek Chauvin found guilty!

Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all three charges:

  1. Second-degree murder
  2. Third-degree murder
  3. Second-degree manslaughter

He has been arrested and sent to jail. Sentencing will come in eight weeks (June 2021).

Chauvin is the Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd last year in 2020 by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes. It was caught on video, setting off the worst civil unrest in the US in over 50 years, leading to protests worldwide. Chauvin is White, Floyd was an unarmed Black man.

The jury had 6 Whites, 4 Blacks and 2 who were multiracial. It took only 10.5 hours for them to come to a unanimous decision after three weeks of trial testimony and, yesterday, a day of closing arguments. While the trial was going on, yet another unarmed Black man, Daunte Wright, was killed by police just miles away.

Killer cops in the US are rarely charged with a crime, much less convicted. And when convicted are generally given light sentences, often getting parole instead of prison time.

– Abagond, 2021.

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Daunte Wright

Daune Wright with his son.

Daunte Wright (2001?-2021), an unarmed 20-year-old Black American, was gunned down by police “by accident” during a Routine Traffic Stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on Sunday April 11th 2021.

This took place just 16 km north of the trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, now starting its third week. Chauvin is the police officer who killed George Floyd last year by kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. It set off the worst civil unrest the US has seen since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr in 1968.

And it took place just 16 km north-west from Falcon Heights – where Philando Castile was also killed by police during a traffic stop.

Katie Wright, the mother.

Wright called his mother Katie during the traffic stop. He said he had been pulled over because of “air fresheners hanging from his rear-view mirror”. Then she heard some scuffling and was cut off. Then:

“A minute later, I called and his girlfriend answered, who was the passenger in the car, and said that he’d been shot… and my son was laying there lifeless.”

After police shot him he drove off but then crashed.

Later at the crash scene, his mother said:

“he’s dead on the ground since 1:47. … Nobody will tell us anything. Nobody will talk to us. … I said please take my son off the ground.”

Video: Body camera video of the stop shows Wright being arrested (on a warrant for missing a Zoom court hearing in a misdemeanor case). He resists arrest, trying to twist away. When he gets back into the car, a female officer is heard shouting, “Taser, Taser, Taser!”, warning everyone to stand clear. Then a shot is fired – from a gun, not a Taser! “Holy shit, I shot him.”

Taser: The police carry their Taser (stun gun) on the opposite side of their body from their gun. Tasers are also much lighter than a gun. The same “mistake” led to the death of Oscar Grant in 2009.

The police chief calls it an “accident”. The coroner calls it “homicide”.

The killer cop has not been named, fired, or arrested. The police chief would only say she was a “very senior officer” who deserves due process. A courtesy the police did not extend to Mr Wright and his misdemeanour warrant.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will carry out the criminal investigation.

Protest: The killing led to protests by hundreds on the first night, chanting, “If we don’t get no justice, they don’t get no peace.” Some lit candles, some wrote on the ground with chalk, some held signs, some threw bricks and frozen cans of pop (soda). The police in riot gear were out in stormtrooper fashion defending the police station, using tear gas and flash-bang stun grenades. There was some looting at a nearby mall. The National Guard (state militia) was not called out – because it had already been called out for the Derek Chauvin trial and its possibly violent aftermath in about two weeks.

– Abagond, 2021.

Update (April 13th): The killer cop is Officer Kim Potter. She has 26 years of experience and has trained other officers. She resigned. So did Police Chief Tim Gannon.

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585

Sade: Smooth Operator

Remarks:

Through some gross oversight, I have neglected to post this song. The record company did not think it would ever sell – it was too different. They wanted her to sing stuff more like “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears. But Sade stuck to her guns, did not change it one bit. It came out in 1984 in the UK, where it went to #19. A year later it came out in the US, where it went to #5 on both the pop and R&B charts and became a staple on smooth jazz radio stations (fl. 1987-2007).

Burned into my brain:

Coast to coast, LA to Key Largo

Which, I find out, is not what she actually sings, but it makes more sense geographically.

See also:

Lyrics:

He’s laughing with another girl
And playing with another heart
Placing high stakes, making hearts ache
He’s loved in seven languages
Diamond nights and ruby lights, high in the sky
Heaven help him, when he falls

Diamond life, lover boy
He move in space with minimum waste and maximum joy
City lights and business nights
When you require streetcar desire for higher heights

No place for beginners or sensitive hearts
When sentiment is left to chance
No place to be ending but somewhere to start

No need to ask
He’s a smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator

Coast to coast, LA to Chicago, western male
Across the north and south, to Key Largo, love for sale

Face to face, each classic case
We shadow box and double cross
Yet need the chase

A license to love, insurance to hold
Melts all your memories and change into gold
His eyes are like angels but his heart is cold

No need to ask
He’s a smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator

Coast to coast, LA to Chicago, western male
Across the north and south, to Key Largo, love for sale

Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator

Source: AZ Lyrics.

Last update: Wed Mar 31 21:51:27 UTC 2021.

Some posts on televisions shows and channels – and the episodes, actors, characters, creators, hosts, etc, thereof  – that have appeared on this blog (channels are in bold) :

– Abagond, 2021.

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521

Some posts I have done or want to do:

Suggestions welcomed!

– Abagond, 2021.

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540

Remarks:

In 1975 this went to #3 on the US R&B chart, and was a top-11 hit throughout the Anglosphere. I remember when it was a new song. I was too young to understand how iconic it was. Riperton was a backing singer for Stevie Wonder and mother of Maya Rudolph. She would be dead of cancer just four years later.

I know this song is for the ages, but I wanted to post it here before the BoomBapify version disappears from YouTube.

See also:

Lyrics:

Lovin’ you is easy ’cause you’re beautiful
Makin’ love with you is all I wanna do
Lovin’ you is more than just a dream come true
And everything that I do is out of lovin’ you
La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la
Do do do do do

No one else can make me feel
The colors that you bring
Stay with me while we grow old
And we will live each day in springtime
‘Cause lovin’ you has made my life so beautiful
And every day of my life is filled with lovin’ you

Lovin’ you, I see your soul come shinin’ through
And every time that we, ooh
I’m more in love with you
La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la
Do do do do do

No one else can make me feel
The colors that you bring
Stay with me while we grow old
And we will live each day in springtime
‘Cause lovin’ you is easy ’cause you’re beautiful
And every day of my life is filled with lovin’ you
Lovin’ you, I see your soul come shinin’ through
And every day that we, ooh
I’m more in love with you
La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la
Do do do do do
Na, ooh, la la la la la la la la la
Do do do do do

Source: Songfacts.

The Silence of the Girls

“The Silence of the Girls” (2018) by Pat Barker recasts Homer’s “Iliad” (-850) as a historical novel told mainly from the point of view of Briseis, the woman that Achilles and Agamemnon fought over, something that almost lost the Greeks the Trojan War.

I absolutely loved the idea of this book – a retelling of the “Iliad” from a woman’s point of view and from the losing side no less. And, if the Booker Prize is anything to go by, Barker is one of the best living novelists in the English tongue. But it gets a C+ for execution.

It does not even pass the Bechdel Test for sexism: “have at least two women in it, who talk to each other, about something other than a man.”

It starts out well:

“Great Achilles. Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles, godlike Achilles … How the epithets pile up. We never called him any of those things; we called him ‘the butcher’.”

Briseis was the beautiful queen of Lyrnessus, a city down the coast from Troy, across the bay from Lesbos. When the Greeks take it, first they kill all the soldiers. Then they kill all the old men and boys and pregnant women. Then they loot the city. Then they march the remaining women and girls down to the ships. And then they burn the city to the ground. The next morning at the Greek camp, they line up the women: they have no future, no home, no money. They have only their looks, their slave labour – and their songs.

We get a behind-the-scenes look at what life is like for women at the Greek camp. Like how the washerwomen constantly stink of urine because urine is the only way to get out – the blood.

Briseis/Barker rightly complains how “silence becomes a woman” and that:

“What the Trojans saw isn’t recorded. The defeated go down in history and disappear and their stories die with them.”

But then instead of telling the Trojan side of the story, or even, God forbid, a woman’s side, all it seems she can talk about is Achilles! Achilles this, Achilles that. Oh, and his buddy Patroclus. Such a sweet guy! And Agamemnon, that idiot. (At least she did not go on and on about battles and shields. There is that.)

If Alex Haley had written “Roots” this way, it would have been the story of White slave masters as told by his slave ancestors.

Hollywood, like Homer, is soaked in the male gaze and militarism. And so is Barker – and therefore so is Briseis. We do not need an echo of Homer or Hollywood. We need to hear from Briseis herself!

It can be done: It seems that Barker did not read any slave narratives – or even “Trojan Women” by Euripides. He, a Greek man, looked at the war from the other side of the gender and political divide, and made it into a sharp critique of war. It can be done. Even by a man.

– Abagond, 2021.

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550

H.E.R.: I Can’t Breathe

Remarks:

This came out in 2020 during the George Floyd protests, going to #20 on the US R&B chart. The title comes from George Floyd’s last words, which in turn echo Eric Garner’s. Last weekend the song won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

See also:

Lyrics:

[Intro]
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Nah

[Verse 1]
Starting a war, screaming “Peace” at the same time
All the corruption, injustice, the same crimes
Always a problem if we do or don’t fight
And we die, we don’t have the same right
What is a gun to a man that surrenders?
What’s it gonna take for someone to defend her?
If we all agree that we’re equal as people
Then why can’t we see what is evil?

[Chorus]
I can’t breathe
You’re taking my life from me
I can’t breathe
Will anyone fight for me?

[Post-Chorus]
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh

[Verse 2]
How do we cope when we don’t love each other?
Where is the hope and the empathy? (Yeah)
How do we judge off the color?
The structure was made to make us the enemy (Yeah)
Prayin’ for change ’cause the pain makes you tender
All of the names you refuse to remember
Was somebody’s brother, friend
Or a son to a mother that’s crying, singing

[Chorus]
I can’t breathe
You’re taking my life from me
I can’t breathe
Will anyone fight for me? (Yeah)

[Post-Chorus]
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Will anyone fight for me?
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh (For me)

[Verse 3]
Trying times all the time
Destruction of minds, bodies, and human rights
Stripped of bloodlines, whipped and confined
This is the American pride
It’s justifying a genocide
Romanticizing the theft and bloodshed
That made America the land of the free
To take a black life, land of the free
To bring a gun to a peaceful fight for civil rights
You are desensitized to pulling triggers on innocent lives
Because that’s how we got here in the first place
These wounds sink deeper than the bullet
Your entitled hands could ever reach
Generations and generations of pain, fear, and anxiety
Equality is walking without intuition
Saying the protector and the killer is wearing the same uniform
The revolution is not televised
Media perception is forced down the throats of closed minds
So it’s lies in the headlines
And generations of supremacy resulting in your ignorant, privileged eyes
We breathe the same and we bleed the same
But still, we don’t see the same
Be thankful we are God-fearing
Because we do not seek revenge
We seek justice, we are past fear
We are fed up eating your shit
Because you think your so-called “black friend”
Validates your wokeness and erases your racism
That kind of uncomfortable conversation is too hard for your trust-fund pockets to swallow
To swallow the strange fruit hanging from my family tree
Because of your audacity
To say all men are created equal in the eyes of God
But disparage a man based on the color of his skin
Do not say you do not see color
When you see us, see us
We can’t breathe

[Outro]
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh

Source: Genius Lyrics.

Robert Aaron Long

Robert Aaron Long (c. 1999- ) is a White American gunman who has confessed to killing 8 people in a shooting spree at three massage parlours in or near Atlanta, Georgia on March 16th 2021.

Six of the eight he killed were Asian women:

  1. Soon Chung Park 박순정, age 74
  2. Hyun Jung Grant [김]현정, age 51
  3. Sun Cha Kim 김순자, age 69
  4. Yong Ae Yue 유용애, age 63
  5. Delaina Ashley Yaun, age 33
  6. Paul Andre Michels, age 54
  7. Xiaojie Tan 谭小洁, age 49
  8. Daoyou Feng 冯道友, age 44

Yaun and Michels were White. One other person, Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, was injured.

He bought the gun that day. No waiting period. He had no criminal record.

Big Woods Goods in Canton, Georgia where Long bought his 9mm handgun earlier that day.

Long first hit Young’s Asian Massage at a strip mall in Acworth, Georgia, killing four, injuring one. About an hour later it was Gold Spa on Piedmont Road in a run-down part of Atlanta, where he left three dead. Nine minutes later it was Aromatherapy Spa across the street. One more dead.

Long was taken alive by police. They found him on highway I-75 on his way to Florida. He has been charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.

Racism: The US has a long history of hypersexualizing Asian women – yellow fever, “me so horny”, etc. On top of that, over the past year amid the covid-19 pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes have gone through the roof, increasing 150%. President Trump kept calling covid-19 the “China virus” and “kung flu”, like he was an 11-year-old. Or worse.

Is it a hate crime?

Police Chief Rodney Bryant of Atlanta:

“We are still early in this investigation, so we cannot make that determination at this moment.”

Captain Jay Baker, sheriff of Cherokee County, where the shooting spree started:

“[Long] does claim that it was not racially motivated. He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places, and it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.

… he was pretty much fed up and had been at the end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.”

Jemele Hill:

“If this murderer were Muslim, Black, or basically anything other than white, there is no way killing innocent people would be characterized as “having a bad day.””

Olayemi Olurin, a public defence lawyer in New York:

“I cannot tell you how many times I’ve told the court that my client denies the allegations, that my client didn’t do something for X reason, that my client is going through a lot in life. NEVER have the police credited my narrative. But get a white supremacist and they switch up”

The T-shirt: Captain Baker has been removed from the case. As it turns out, he had been urging his friends on Facebook to buy T-shirts that say that covid-19 is an “imported virus from CHY-NA,” echoing Trump’s rhetoric to the point of imitating how he says “China”.

– Abagond, 2021.

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562

Whipping Girl

“Whipping Girl” (2007, 2016) by Julia Serano is the book that gave us the word “transmisogyny”. Serano has lived in the world as male, female and in between. She looks at how assumptions about gender affect how we see not just transgender people, but men and women in general, underpinning our sexism.

The girl being whipped is anyone who expresses femininity, not just transgender women but feminine men and even cisgender women themselves. It is not just men who look down on femininity – so do many feminists.

Some of what Serano says:

Sexism: comes in two main forms:

  • traditional sexism: men are better than women, masculinity better than femininity. So much so that sports, say, are seen as a more serious subject than fashion.
  • oppositional sexism: the idea that there are just two well-defined, opposing genders. Men are men and women are women!

Sexism is best understood from both angles.

Gender: is not purely a social construct or a mere matter of performance. It is partly driven by biology. Serano says that not just as a trained biologist, but as someone who, despite male socialization, and even a Y chromosome, still sees herself as female. How can that be? Serano says it is because of:

Subconscious sex: Deep down your mind has a built-in sense of its own gender that is independent of socialization or genitals or a Y chromosome. For transgender people there is a mismatch. But because it is subconscious, you can go for years feeling something is off but not knowing what it is. “A girl trapped in a boy’s body” is the dumbed-down version, not the messy, murky truth.

Enforced ignorance: Serano:

“if a straight man were to buy a book on transsexuality (say, for example, this book), others might suspect that he is a closeted transsexual or a tranny-chaser.”

because people in the centre are expected to NOT know much about the marginalized. This is why Black people, for example, know way more about White people than vice versa. But it gets worse:

Cisgender gaze: Because cisgender people control science, media and medicine, transgender people are not in control of how they are known or represented. For example, Jeffrey Eugenides won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel “Middlesex” (2002), which sold millions of copies. The main character is intersex (fka hermaphrodite). People assume he did his research, but as it turns out:

“I did a lot of research on the details, but in terms of figuring out what hermaphrodites psychologically went through, I did that from my imagination.”

He just made it up!

Gatekepers: The reason trans people seem like such a new thing is because in the past doctors:

“were far more concerned with protecting the cissexual world from the existence of transsexuality than they were with treating trans people’s gender dissonance.”

Only those who could blend into society invisibly were allowed to transition to the opposite sex. Johns Hopkins, for example, would give sex reassignment surgeries to only 1.2% of those who applied.

– Abagond, 2021.

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521

 

Debussy: Clair De Lune

Remarks:

This is a movement from his “Suite bergamasque” (1905), with thunder and rain added and made to sound like it is coming from another room. I sometimes use it as ambient noise to help me concentrate.

See also:

In memoriam: Breonna Taylor

(Annette Bernhardt/Flickr via aaihs.org)

One year ago today.

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“The Secret History” (1992) by Donna Tartt is a murder mystery in reverse, a tale “of sin unpunished, of innocence destroyed”, of “the essential rottenness of the world.” It is all but a founding text of the dark academia aesthetic, where “dark” means more than just the colour scheme.

Like peanut butter: Some people love this book, some people hate it. I am one of the haters. It got 4.10 stars on Goodreads based on over 300,000 ratings – no mean feat.

Empathy for evil rich White people: For 591 pages I am expected to have empathy for rich White college kids at an elite school who have murdered one of their own – and got away with it! To be fair, Tartt is upfront about that. It is in the Prologue. But since I had heard such great things about the book (like with Zadie Smith, who also disappoints), and since, like the main characters, I had studied Ancient Greek at college in the 1980s (and was beguiled by Tartt’s shout-out to the Liddell-Scott Lexicon), I got suckered in. I should have stopped by page 153, but, like with a bad relationship, I soldiered on. Ugh! By then I could not not finish it.

Well-paced: Tartt does draw you in and draw you along, what the New York Times, in their over-the-top way, calls “ferociously well-paced entertainment”. There is that. The 591 pages pretty much whizz by in beach novel fashion.

Good descriptions: There are also some good descriptions, of trees, dark skies, a manhunt even. But there are also endless descriptions of characters drinking Scotch whisky, lighting cigarettes, and running their hands through their hair. At least I now know what a fifth is (= a fifth of a gallon, 757 ml, about the size of a wine bottle).

My own experience as a Liddell-Scott Lexicon user did not include murder, weekends at a Victorian mansion in the country, drinking Scotch, or snorting cocaine. Hardly. For one thing, my parents and teachers had pounded a fear of drugs into me. I wrote about Dionysian bacchanals. That was more than enough to persuade me not to faithfully recreate one, as in this book. I was taught to prize the rational, clear-sighted, philosophical side of the Greeks, not their dark, irrational, pagan side, as the characters in this book do, putting the “dark” into dark academia.

Darkness: I have no trouble with evil main characters, as in “Breaking Bad” or Western history. But I expect, want, a chilling twist of fate to bring them down, for the truth to catch up with them just when they think they are in the clear. As in the 1970s on US television, I am waiting for Columbo to say, “Oh, just one more thing.” Tartt seems to play on that expectation, despite the Prologue – but, Lucy-like, pulls back each time.

Donna Tartt in 1992.

A more accurate picture of Donna Tartt.

The Rule of Bennington:

Avoid books based on Bennington, Vermont.

Another book I read based on that town, “See Now Then” (2012) by Jamaica Kincaid (who I otherwise adore), also turned out to be terrible. What are the odds?

– Abagond, 2021.

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558

Oprah’s interview of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (February 2021) appeared on US television on Sunday night, March 7th, and on UK television the following night. It should be required viewing for the 2 billion who saw their storybook wedding in 2018. As with all true fairy tales, this one has a dark side.

The Little Mermaid: Meghan Markle compares herself to the Little Mermaid: she lost her voice to marry her prince – but then, with this interview, got it back.

When she married her prince they took her passport, her driver’s licence and her car keys. She was a prisoner. Trapped. So was the prince himself.

The British press they expected to be savage, racist even, but they also expected the Firm (the British Royal Family as a business) to stand up for them, as they have for other relatives. They did not.

Comparing avocados with avocados: The British press saw Meghan Markle in a much different light than her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William. In 2017, The Express said:

“Kate’s morning sickness cure? Prince William gifted with an avocado for pregnant Duchess.”

But in 2019, when Meghan was pregnant:

“Meghan Markle’s beloved avocado linked to human rights abuse and drought, millennial shame”

And that is just one example of the double standard that informed their view of Meghan Markle. I have seen this before. I wrote about it in How white people think.

Skin colour: When Meghan was pregnant with Archie, one unnamed royal talked with Harry several times about fears that their child would be too dark-skinned. Meghan’s mother is Black.

Suicidal ideation: Meghan only heard the stories in the British press second-hand, from friends and family. But even second-hand it was enough to drive her to thoughts of suicide. The Firm prevented her from seeking help from a doctor!

Archie: When Archie was born, he was not given the title due to the grandson of a future king – and therefore neither was he given protection, against  kidnappers and such.

Basically, Meghan and Archie were left to twist in the wind.

Megxit: And then when Harry and Meghan left the Firm – left the Royal Family as employees, not as relatives – Meghan was blamed for it, not the Firm. The British press even called it Megxit. But by the time they left the Firm, in early 2020, the Firm had already left them – high and dry, with no way to protect themselves.

Meghan freed not just herself but also her prince. He says his father and brother, Charles and William, are still “trapped”, that Meghan saved him.

The Queen: They both adore Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, and see her as a warm and loving person. Yet she is the very head of the Firm that would not properly protect them or stand up for them! With friends like that, who needs enemies? Meghan blames not individual royals but “the institution”. Harry says the Royal Family is in bed with the British press – they both need each other too much.

– Abagond, 2021.

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530

Smashing Pumpkins: 1979

Remarks:

A 1996 song about 1979. It was a top-20 hit in 1996 across the Anglosphere, reaching #2 in Canada.

The video is a good illustration of what 1979 seemed like looking back from 1996 for those who remember 1979 as teenagers, Billy Corgan, the lead singer and songwriter, among them. Along with some of my friends, who did not seem to understand that 1979 only seemed like a better, simpler time because their parents were sheltering them from so much.

See also:

Lyrics:

[Verse 1]
Shakedown 1979
Cool kids never have the time
On a live wire right up off the street
You and I should meet
Junebug skippin’ like a stone
With the headlights pointed at the dawn
We were sure we’d never see an end
To it all

[Chorus]
And I don’t even care
To shake these zipper blues
And we don’t know
Just where our bones will rest
To dust I guess
Forgotten and absorbed
Into the earth below

[Verse 2]
Double-cross the vacant and the bored
They’re not sure just what we have in store
Morphine city slippin’ dues
Down to see

[Chorus 2]
That we don’t even care
As restless as we are
We feel the pull
In the land of a thousand guilts
And poured cement
Primis Player Placeholder

[Bridge]
Lamented and assured
To the lights and towns below
Faster than the speed of sound
Faster than we thought we’d go
Beneath the sound of hope

[Verse 3]
Justine never knew the rules
Hung down with the freaks and ghouls
No apologies ever need be made
I know you better than you fake it
To see

[Chorus 1]
That we don’t even care
To shake these zipper blues
And we don’t know
Just where our bones will rest
To dust I guess
Forgotten and absorbed
Into the earth below

[Outro]
The street heats the urgency of now
As you see there’s no one around

Source: Genius Lyrics.

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