Social Engineering: Name-Branding Your Soul
While this entry may sound like a personal story, it isn't. It's about a story of injustice and aggrievement being played out over and over all across the country ever since Covid-19. We presume that you are at least half-conscious of the pandemic which has forced global lockdowns and deprived people of their livelihoods, jobs, homes, adequate healthcare, access to public services, etc.
A shutdown called by independent commentators such as The Last American Vagabond as a poor people's disease, because the rich take medicines we are not supposed to, have immediate access to healthcare, enjoy their vacation at home or escape to their favorite getaway, have gotten more filthy rich than ever due to their lawyers being able to economically engineer the Payment Protection Program (PPP) such that they are able to get a cut for their small business front companies, and laugh all the way to the Swiss bank about it while avoiding taxes.
Despite TLAV holding the races on super-long broadcasts, leaning libertarian, and painting an information war with Surkov-style apathy, the observations take the rhetoric apart for us to see behind the curtain on what appears to be a move toward medical martial law, martial law, and just plain social totalitarianism.
There is the theoretical construct of a social democracy, such as has long existed in Europe, a destination that many refugees flee to when their home countries are stricken by war, drought, poverty, hunger, and disease. Europe appears to be the fat cow with larder enough for everyone, regardless of whether you paid land taxes or not, and a sort of cultural totalitarianism is underway.
Totalitarianism is being ordered what to do by the authority of the moment, whether a bouncer at a biergarten, team member at your gym, paranoid neighbor, bossy Karen, a manipulative and controlling real estate agent, etc. They have a vested interest, like Trump, in a fanciful Hollywood image of their brand, and what can create more capital for them, and you are branded based on your usefulness to their marketing. Short of that, you are nothing to them.
Am I being overly harsh about life for the lower 50%? No, on the contrary, things have never looked so bad, and the worst part is that we have an administration that lacks any kind of empathy, and his staff have all taken the personal loyalty oath, meaning they do not serve the people, they serve a private corporation embodied in Trump. At least 60% of the people or more inside the Beltway lean pro-conservative, pro-military, pro-big-business, pro-status quo. As long as their little fiefdoms are protected, they don't mind seeing the musical chairs game. They are advising their sons and daughters to walk around the circle faster, and grab hold of chair to sit on before the music stops.
The fortunate squeeze through the door but understand the rules regarding the unlucky. Whether it's a relative, neighbor, friend, they are, in the words of the beautiful eloquence of the Dayz of Noah, now labeled "pre-crime." Pre-crime is the label for the homeless, the unemployed, the underemployed, those without adequate documents, those without a permanent home, any older person of color, any person who is handicapped, any person with poor health, and so forth. One doesn't need to be a rocket scientist to notice that anyone can be suspected of falling into the undesirables category, or mistaken as such, and hence the growing sense of fear, paranoid, and playing cool-in-the-gang-lock-step fascinisto.
The point is that unlike in other countries, such as rural villages in the old-country, in China, or elsewhere, your unhappy misfortunate relatives are not welcome to stay with you, not allowed to stay for longer than a week, and you are encouraged to abuse them because "a poor person is bad marketing."
Yet what really goes on in some of these smart luxury towers inside the Beltway or in New York or Seattle. Everywhere the image is the same: young white couple obediently wearing face masks trotting out their fanciful dog of choice (who doesn't need a mask) so it can do whatever three times a day. They look like the Dick-and-Jane of pre-Rocky-Horror Picture Show, ever so clean, decent, proper, suave, wholesome-looking, etc.
Oh, are looks deceptive, as Eyes Wide Open, Stanley Kubrick's last movie do hint. You can never tell these days, who is post-Rocky-Horror Picture Show, and that is part of the Problem, to add to the heap of problems that the greatest country on Earth does not want to recognize or deal with. The administration is deadset on all manners of sideshows to derail what ought to be the true stories of the day, and what we all should be talking about, if only it were more like FDR.
So yes, we are faced with a growing number of homeless, of desperate home-owners, of jobless, of insecure, and these people of course are also stressed because our society will duly ostracize them and shame them if their instability is uncovered. These people probably have no time or energy to protest, but the orchestrated circuses of BLM vs T-Party Militia seemingly absorbs all of prime-time media. There are no bombs going off in Lebanon, no wildfires raging for months on end, no children trapped in detention centers, no crowded families squeezed into wire cages (as depicted by Amnesty International). Just a growing potential for what the administration wants most: more strife for more martial law.
The people inside the Luxury Towers are not saints. Not by any stretch of the imagination where my sister lives. On the contrary, no actually saintly person would want to live there. It's the very reification of High Rise, a novel in which the upper floors of the Tower persecute and shame the lower floors. This is the problem with the rich who have no heart: they end up like the 40 Thieves in Alibaba, attempting to do one another in, showing one another up, with endless strife and competition because they have no sense of inner peace and grounding.
Their sins are manifold, yet they are immune to prosecution and guiltless because they belong to The Club. So inside, they hold their rave parties, their footsteps on the floor sounding like sheep hooves prancing over your ceiling, for even though where my sister lives is pricey, the slab floors are thin and the wooden floor covering conveys the rattataptap until the wee hours. They swim or rather stand in the shallow rooftop pool, pasty Eastern skin slathered in gourmet coco-butter to spread sweet scents and entice the wrinkled but powerful. They gather in bunches at the pool sitting side-by-side, in-front of one-another, possibly even engaging in grinding motions. And whether or not there are bodily fluids leaking into the rare pool, when it leaks down to the floor below (which it does every other year), those occupants get a special kind of shower...
This is social-engineering at its finest, Brave New World style. The nearby universities encourage their coeds to stay at this luxury apartment building, and the building always offers them a generous discount during their first year. College coeds, paying hefty tuitions, are not discouraged from meeting up with a sugar-daddy or two whether in the building, or welcomed into the building during their weekend parties. The local dealers all know which luxury building they can connect with, cultivating connections, and cruising around at night to peddle their pharmacopia from trunks. Just like Eyes Wide Open, the staff, the security, the so-called responsible establishment do not see these going-ons. They are never acknowledged, since that would be bad for their business.
But everyone knows its part of the brand. That is also conveyed by the ghastly looking paintings hung on the wall, done in oil, perversion of scrimshaw, scrawls dribbled in phantasmagoria, conveying the psychedelic, and awakening the unsound senses. Knobby sculptures hinting of the body but missing major parts. Cheap slate flooring mistaken for expensive because of the floozy at the front desk. Sanity represented by male concierge in a suit who calls out his greetings to Floor 9, but ignores Floor 1. Everyone must go out of the same door, and come back in by the same door basically too. The managers come and go, but they always owe their longevity to who they can curry the most favors with among the residents.
Marvelously, there is never shortage of prospective residents hoping to view the showplace where my sister lives. The Problem is that my sister is not in good health, in fact, she is in rather poor health, especially mentally. Thus she hardly ever listens to her phone, checks her email, and avoids social contact. She lives like a recluse in the building and is afraid to move away, since it's the only home she's known in DC for the past 15 years. There are many available units on sale right now in DC due to the building craze going on. Many older residents can hardly recognize their old landmarks, because they stand beneath or beside new faux natural stone or mortuary ash-brick boxy custom McUrban towers.
The curators of these buildings do vary. Some are rather friendly, and quite a few even do a follow-up. However at my sister's place, because of all the high-powered residents, a frosty nastiness is evident. If you dare to comment or complain about anything, unless you are above floor 4, you are not taken seriously. Even if you are live above floor 4, the response is often flippant. Unfortunately the way the building is designed, they have sewer drain pipes running down along the corners of units of the inner bearing wall of the central corridors. These leak every now and then and my sister has had her toilet backed up at least once, which freaked her out so much, that I ended up cleaning up the floor and carpet for her. Of course it would have taken half a day at least for the staff to come and do it, and so I had to, even though she hardly thanked me.
There are actually complaints about the sewer overflowing in the tub of another resident recently on Yelp, with an unsightly photo of the tub 1/4 filled with scummy grey water. How long Yelp will keep that review up, I don't know. Yelp claims to keep their reviews up indefinitely but they shuffle the poorly rated ones down or even put them in the hide-section (which are not viewable on Android phones). And they also do restructuring of the website every so often to basically thin-down the number of reviews.
Their current staff is more nasty than ever, because the high-powered are now working in a Republican administration, and they really do not care for people of color or any kind of deplorable. Of course, where deplorable goes, it is a completely arbitrary label. In my view, having a floozy working at the front desk, with very fake dyed hair, cleavage showing, very pushy and manipulative, and frankly looks like a person who might have once worked in housecleaning at a cheap motel, sends mixed messages. And she was obviously cherry-picking among the visitors, who would immediate get to go on a self-guided tour, and who might have to wait for a long time, and who would never gain access.
The long and short of it was the floozy and manager waved the white visitors on up, whether they were dressed in shorts or had no drivers license to show. The Asian visitors were told by the floozy to sit and wait, and the manager never came out. The Asians finally managed to wheedle their way for access. This former resident, with a clean security record, whose brother is also on the lease as a medical doctor, and probably parents as well, was told she was not allowed upstairs unless there was a direct invite from my sister.
My sister's condition is such that days and nights are sometimes indistinguishable, and her self-care is at times questionable. She does barely qualify for her unit, and it is probably thanks to my brother, a military officer in the Navy, but she still earns at least 50% AMI. So anyway, because the costs for living there are always high, including amenities, and her best friend who used to help with lease renewal bargaining has moved away, she still spends at least 50% on rental. Then due to Covid, they also cut off the free Breakfast Bar. They always bragged about the free Breakfast, but they also always watched you like a hawk. This is because they skimped on breakfast items in order to snack on them themselves. I used to see them snacking on them or wrapping them up to take home. And my sister relied on those free bagels and apples or bananas alot!
So yes, my intention to share some canned goods, and make up from our fight from 3 years ago has come to naught so far because of the staff always obstructing my entry basically. I know my sister has written to encourage me to visit, even told me what times, but she doesn't answer her phone and her call bell is wired to her phone. So every time I try, I am basically rudely turned away. When I try and mention that they used to allow guests, especially next of kin, to just sign in (if they are known by sight) and go upstairs, they cut me off short. They even threaten to call security. This kind of awful snobbish treatment is unlike the other luxury towers I am touring, which at most might require you leave your drivers license with the front desk.
But these luxury towers, again only base your credibility upon your monetary value and appearance. And even if I dress well, look confident, start off courteously enough, and am generally patient, these evil staff are acting as if I am already "pre-crime" maybe because I don't act as constipated as some of these Republicans generally do. I don't know. It is obviously discrimination, and an attempt to indirectly affect my sister and family well-being by being obstructive.
As a matter of fact, there are many past reviews of this and other apartments where the resident complained of being ostracized or treated like dirt after the resident suffered the humiliation of losing their employment. Other comparable experience is graduating and no longer being offered grants or loans. The staff at my sister's place share and gossip about the personal information that is provided, and draw unfair subjective conclusions, and they have amassed a very indiscrete amount of personal, financial, career, employment, health profile of my sister, my brother, my parents, and probably they are sharing it with the NSA due to the presence of high-profile residents in the building, "for security reasons."
Rest assured, they might even have a mark by name or face recognition feature where they have identified such-and-such as a journalist, reporter, misfit, lower 30% or whatever. The point is that for no reasonable specific reason, they have chosen to try to treat me as a pariah (even though I have repaired my relationship with my parents, have marvelous relationships with cousins, friends, boss, co-workers, and students). This is impacting my ability to check up on my sister, and try to convey to her important personal information, and also collect personal belongings that I own in her keeping.
The other point is again how this Luxury Tower preys on wealthy people by pretending to cater to all their needs. For instance, even though my brother is on the lease as a resident, as a matter of fact, he owns a couple other flats, and is often away. In fact, once Covid hit NYC, he and his Ukrainian wife moved back to the Ukraine, and he has been hiding out there ever since. It's really not such a safe place there due to all the radioactivity still emanating from Chernobyl, and also their biological research labs, and also the ordnance from skirmishes with Russia. And now especially because of an influx of Bela-Russians. But the point is that staff don't really care or mind because he has the title, honor, and wealth.
Now the fact is this brother is quite a little dictator in our family, an authoritarian who breaks into screams and tirades when things don't go his way. He was actually a clean decent Naval Officer, but because he is Chinese-American, and because he didn't want to go to all those weird perverted military parties, they moved him up as slowly as possible. And because he was moved up in pay and rank ever so slow compared to his Naval Academy buddies, he succumbed to this careerist mentality whereby instead of being wholly concerned with his profession as a medical doctor, he was developing all these interests in the stockmarket, in trying to amass wealth, and in dabbling in real estate. Of course a lot of doctors are secretly into the title, honor, and glory of being in medicine, and tempted by the junkets and wealth associations. Nevertheless the imbalance can become pronounced, such as his urge to collect money from my parents for any advice and treatment he provides them, for charging them for stays at the fancy downtown Four Seasons, with the price tag including rooms for his six dogs, and insisting that he take charge of the family trust.
Both he and my other brother have been squabbling over their authority over this trust, or being able to take it over totally someday. And this brother has also treated, or both of them have treated me with utmost contempt, and in fact they still do, because they really hope that I disappear off the face of the planet. I am in their opinion, both an unwanted threat and burden, and even if things are better for me now, and I do part-time work, and I have my own place to stay, and I have a healthy social network, and I maintain my professional licenses, these brothers are not happy about my having made up with my parents. They would prefer that I be basically disowned, dead, or completely forgotten. This way there would never be any inheritance for me, even though to be honest, I don't even cash the checks my parents mail me! My brother was mad at me, enraged that I refused his money. He thinks that as a poorer person, I should be lapping up his offers of whatever he has to offer me, even though I have a sense of dignity, and if I didn't want a large HDTV to deal with, I will actually just give it away.
So this is how both my brothers are, and the staff at my sister's apartment complex realize that since I am the proverbial black sheep, they hope to participate in furthering the separation in their own mean mealy-mouthed ways. I love both my brothers, and pray for them often, but their usurious interests are quite hypocritical and they will try to pretend, like the staff, that it is all about me. In fact, their latest gambit is to just block off my phone, put me on lockdown, and not return emails. This is to short-circuit any attempt at communication, while pretending that I don't exist. I still have their emails, and they have not blocked that yet, but the pecking order is quite clear. They do not believe I can or should be allowed to be of any consequence in the family, even if I actually have my parents' interest at heart.
The crookedness of the staff at the Luxury Tower where my sister lives is such that they will pretend that they can provide accommodations to sick, elderly, and disabled people, even when they, in fact, regard them as an extreme nuisance. During my stay, the maintenance engineer would try my door even if I had not filed any request for maintenance, even popping his head in the door to take a look around. When I complained about that, of course it was dismissed. The culture of the Luxury Tower is all about money, status, and pretenses. So everyone has this noveau riche air, whomever they are. It is like trying to ask the current President to care about the people being evicted from one of Jared's many slumlord apartment complexes. He might throw them a roll of toilet paper for a good laugh, but that's about all he cares. People at the Luxury Tower are being behaviorally conditioned and monitored in order to entrain them with the dialectics of capitalist bestiality. You must not care about the lower 40%. All that matters is who lives here, maintaining your ethos of respectability, doing your strut, and supporting our culture of ruthless hedonism.
The worst part of the Problem is that with a sort of John le Carre unfolding macabre nightmare, my poor mother might actually have to move in with my sister and brother at this horrible Luxury Tower should she be widowed. It is my duty as a daughter to help keep her informed of better options in the Metro DC area. There are so many nicer gentler communities for older retirees in upper NW, and these communities also have Chinese people living there too. But my mentally disabled sister, and unstable brother, both would not be able to reason that my mother might want her own place, but force her to live in this horrid Luxury Tower, where they routinely isolate, target, and prey on vulnerable people, as they have basically already done to my sister.
For instance, after she was laid off from her place of employment with the government over eight years ago, they began secretly shaming her, and browbeating her, but being the conforming type, she basically just kept clinging on there. "It's the most beautiful apartment building in Washington, D.C." she has always gushed. She even convinced me although at the time, I had very little choice. They used to keep the architectural book about the building on the coffee table, and she would paw through it, marveling at each and every photo. I could hardly believe that anyone found the place so fascinating, but yes, my brother is about the same way. He has always loved to build model ships and he loves everything in kits and in ready-to-assemble form, so the idea that these luxury homes have everything about your lifestyle made-to-order probably seems like quite a bit of freedom coming from his neck of the woods.
The joker card in The Problem is my brother on the West Coast and his own insatiable materialism, and probably urge to also monopolize the trust. Maybe she will be able to stay on the West Coast, and that would actually be a relief so long as she somehow avoids the clutches of these real estate Luxury Tower monsters. We also have aunts and relatives who might know of where she can stay, but my mother can be quite overwhelmed and subject to the fake concerns and entreaties of my siblings when the time comes. I know for sure that over the past eight years, rather than heal from her losing her job, heal from her mental illness, heal from her fears and reclusivity, in fact, my sister has sort of gotten more extreme.
It so reminds me of all the sad and desperate Americans who are facing these kinds of challenges should they try to move in with relatives. They will be treated like a cancer, like an eyesore. They will be ostracized and shamed. The staff of the Luxury Tower will brand them as "pre-crime" and make it extremely difficult for them to move in or even stop by and visit. The staff branding them are not in any way exceptional in mind, heart, talent, intellectualism, or background. Often, like the floozy at the front desk of the Luxury Tower my sister lives in, they are upgraded charwomen, or women who will do anything to ingratiate themselves with the high-powered clientele. The men are immigrants with green cards, who the Luxury Tower can pay a pittance, while collecting over millions of dollars in rent every month. The cleaning staff are so poor that they gorge themselves on the free complimentary breakfast food, and take it home. The lease agents come and go, but one can never tell who they also work for or what information they will take with them. And the residents are all just a collection of fair-weather friends, who rarely talk to God, or try to deepen their spirituality in real ways.