In Heaven, Everything's Alright
Dimes Square is dead, is this something better?
We arrived in 2023 as one arrives at the wrong train station. Disoriented, running late, unsure of reality but sure that none of this can be right. A sense of submitting to the lack of control we actually have over everything from confusing train station design to the passage of time. Everything about this feels wrong. Even the number, 2023, feels absurd. As if it was designed to be crazy-making. The setting of so many sci-fi dystopias we consume while forced to live in the mundane, hyperreal shell of it all.
Yet we’re all still here, so we keep going.
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This meaninglessness is almost freeing, a kind of joyous nihilism in living through the compounding absurdities of our contemporary era and the realization that there’s no way out but through. This almost manic state took hold of me in a decision to start documenting a bubbling outgrowth of the scene that everyone hates and is desperately tired of hearing about. The scene that seemed to top the list of many people’s list of things that are firmly “Out” in 2023. I’m of course referring to the New York downtown-scene-chimera that was Dimes Square. This is, after all, Substack.
What started as attending a few parties became about three weeks of situating myself in what’s becoming the Post-Dimes-Square scene in search of what was going on, why, and how. Was this the same tired, reactionary politics of Red Scare or something new? Was this an arts scene that should be taken seriously? Is it even possible to have a generative, transgressive, groundbreaking arts scene in the most expensive city in the world? In the course of this I’ve ended up with something that’s less profile and more ethnography, less journalism and more multimedia essay collage. What I’m trying to say is that it’s long, and I hope you’re prepared to learn more about niche internet micro celebrities and their respective scenes than you ever wanted to. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Everyone knows that Dimes Square is dead and no one cares who killed it, including me. This is not an autopsy, but an investigation into its afterlife(s). Enough digital ink has been spilled on the topic of Dimes Square to fill a very thick book that should undoubtedly be burned. If you’re unfamiliar with Dimes Square count yourself lucky, or alternatively do a quick Google to tumble down an inscrutable rabbit hole of trad-cath podcast hosts, Peter-Thiel-funded film festivals, and scene-y Chinatown/Lower East Side (LES) hot spots. As someone from a radically left political background who’s bounced around many of those scenes I was as tired of hearing about Dimes Square as everyone else. I have no time for people who’s edge and irony-drenched politics extend as far as wanting to be able to make “art” where you can say the word retard. To save you the trouble of the rabbit hole—and for the purposes of making sense of this piece—I’ll provide some brief clarification.
Setting The Scene
The name Dimes Square was coined on the Red Scare podcast in a (predictably ironic) reference to Dimes Deli situated on Canal Street at the intersection of Manhattan’s Chinatown and Lower East Side (LES) and its surrounding bars, cafes, and venues—Clandestino (obnoxiously referred to as “Clandos” by scene regulars), Dimes Deli, Le Dive, Ming’s Cafe (now closed), Ray’s (owned by Succession’s Nicholas Braun) and even the Metrograph—that quickly become associated with a specific iteration of New York’s downtown arts scene. In a sense Dimes Square does physically exist as a “microneighborhood” but that’s not really what anyone is referring to when they say Dimes Square. What “Dimes Square” has become shorthand for is the edgy, ostensibly transgressive ostensibly-left ostensibly-art scene that’s developed out of the convergence of artists on these few blocks. Artists like Dasha Nekrasova, Peter Vack and Betsey Brown, New People’s Cinema Club (NPCC), The Dare, Ion Pack, BlakeTheMan1000, Matt Gasda, and a host of attending photographers, writers, and critics; Matthew Weinberger, Justin Belmondo, The CobraSnake, Dean Kissick, and Michael “Crumps” Crumplar.
I think it’s important to point to what people like Matt Weinberger are doing. He, to some, is a kind of working-in-the-background character but is super active in the scene connecting lots of people, cross sections of NYC, all through his photos that coalesced in his recent Paper Mag scene column. He’s maybe one of the most influential people in the scene, at least in terms of bringing people up around him, you never see focused on. - Matthew Donovan, on the phone to me
Many in this scene wear multiple hats. Most are involved with hosting or party-throwing in some way, and most also run Instagram meme pages that exist somewhere between curation and collage, such as below’s Justin Belmondo. Photographs, writing and podcast clips squeezed between hand-picked or hand-made memes.
I say ostensibly-left because in many ways members of the Dimes Square crowd are not beating the alt-right or neo-reactionary allegations. As the Red Scare girlies are the royalty of The Scene, the sensibilities of the podcast seeped in like a gas leak. What started as avowedly socialist analysis gave way to deeply ironic post-leftism which quickly became reactionary politics bordering on alt-right. This turn is embodied by Dasha, who went from viral Sailor Socialism sensation—having been accosted by InfoWars at a Bernie Sanders rally—to cozying up to Alex Jones and having him on Red Scare. One podcast does not a scene make, however there are real connections in this scene that give people cause for at least mild concern. Hard-right techno-accelerationist Peter Thiel did help fund NPCC, Alex Lee Moyer’s (who’s now almost fully on the right herself) documentary TFW NO GF was produced by registered sex offender (convicted for “third degree felony charge of injury to a child”) and self-admitted member of the alt-right Cody Wilson, and far-right neoreactionary “philosopher” Curtis Yarvin AKA Mencius Moldbug looms large in certain dark corners of the scene, most recently founding Urbit, a decentralized peer-to-peer networking and operating system that’s attracted members of the Dimes Square downtown scene like Honor Levy.
This came to a head over the summer in the form of a viral Substack post by Crumps, who sees himself as ringing the alarm bells on the fascist nature of some of the scene’s politics, while also ingratiating himself into it, recently becoming a host of parties with people in the same scene he decries. His piece My Own Dimes Square Fascist Humiliation Ritual describes an absurdist interrogation performance dripping with deeply fragile egoism at the hands of Scene filmmaker siblings Betsey Brown and Peter Vack during the filming of their new movie www.RachelOrmont.com. Also appearing in the film, and present during filming, were Dasha and Curtis Yarvin. This, in my view, was one of the final nails in the coffin for Dimes Square. Even though many have beaten the Thiel Bucks allegations, this was seemingly a bridge too far for even some of the more irony-poisoned leftists of The Scene, which has resulted partially in the exodus I’m exploring.
Peter Vack’s latest film that I was an extra in, www.RachelOrmont.com, whether purposefully or inadvertently, kind of touches on the horseshoe theory portal from the post-left to the far-right, with ambiguous figures like Dasha Nekrasova being involved as well as more overtly far-right figures like Moldbug AKA Curtis Yarvin. Not to mention the associations with NPCC has with Peter Thiel, whether innocuous or very actual. The NYC downtown Dimes Square scene, if you can call it that, and the NPCC, are connected in some ways. So many people, including myself, don’t know how to pick apart what is tainted by Thiel money or what is not as a result. - Ryan @AntiArt on Neoliberalhell, Episode 18
This is all at once worrying, important, potentially overblown, potentially downplayed, etc. I bring it up because it’s necessary. If I waited until the end of this piece to mention the crypto-fascist neo-reactionary elephant in the room it would feel disingenuous or dishonest. It’s however important to remember that The Scene, or at least what it’s becoming in its new iteration, is made up of so much more than vaguely alt-right Thiel-funded podcast hosts. It is many things and many people doing many projects, some of which are vital, inspiring, and boundary pushing. Despite the qualifiers, there are good things happening here.
Dimes Square…is just an idea, just a whisper on the wind, a novel we all write together, in love and in hate, in fondness and pure, absolute contempt, but also, underneath it all, is a real place that’s sweet and full of kind people and not much like its nightmare reflections at all. - Dean Kissick, The Dimes Square Spiral
It’s also important to note here that New York’s “downtown scene” and “Dimes Square” are not wholly synonymous. There’s many layers to the downtown scene; skating, cooking, art galleries, physical media artists, literature and alt-lit, theater, acting, fashion, etc. Some of them are a part of the Dimes Square scene—The Mars Review, the now-shuttered Drunken Canal, Forever Mag, Perfectly Imperfect, Beckett Rosset, Matthew Gasda, Cassidy Grady, et al—and some of them are part of the downtown scene more broadly. Dimes Square as a milieu is a significant part of the downtown scene, but the downtown scene is not completely Dimes Square. This is evidenced in Air Mail’s much maligned piece The Downtown Set, featuring many (but crucially not exclusively) Dimes Square artists. Dimes Square is perhaps best summed up by James, a 22-year-old New Yorker since birth who I met at one of the parties you’ll hear about shortly.
James spoke mournfully about what the scene was and what it had become, using the aforementioned Ray’s as his case-in-point. “The magic of Dimes Square has been expended,” rattled James after offering me his coke and being very kind about me spilling some of it (I know, I’m sorry.) “The luster of Dimes Square is gone, and all of the locations that they came with are now not doing as well as they were or are hyper-gentrified. Like Ray’s is struggling, but also unbearable now.” Before I could interject with “tell me more” James was telling me more. “It’s a manicured dive. Everything’s beautiful and there’s one pool table, and you could imagine Ray—who doesn’t exist—in the corner drinking a beer, but guess what? A High Life is $7. Now there’s a bouncer, there’s a dress code (you can’t wear sneakers), it’s weird.”
So if Dimes Square is dead, yet most of its artists are still here with new ones coming up constantly, then what comes next?
I began to pay more attention after noticing the specter(s) of Dimes Square proliferating throughout New York in wildly varying ways, like so many restless spirits freed from some ancient cursed artifact. Red Scare continues as a podcast, Dasha and Nicholas Braun are on Succession, and Dimes Square even got a reality show based around the clout-chasing social climbing nature of The Scene aptly titled The Come Up. However, at the same time that the now-successfully-clouted scenemakers began to flee the crime scene with the corpse starting to rot, others found refuge in different-but-similar New York scenes or took momentum from the now-dead scene to make something different.
The Scene then entered my life in the figure of Matthew Donovan. Matthew’s an extremely online 36-year-old (although he doesn’t look it), Columbia Sociology student, and budding New York socialite with his fingers in an impressively diverse array of pies, including; left organizing, detransition scholarship, podcasting, and now party hosting. I first met Matthew in person on his birthday in May at a bar in Harlem. We’d “met” previously online—a key geography that holds every iteration of The Scene together—via a mutual friend on Instagram who I don’t believe either of us know in person. I had actually first encountered Matthew’s podcast co-host Ana—better known as Instagram meme page admin turned podcast host @neoliberalhell (which their podcast takes their name from)—the day prior at the 2022 commencement ceremony for The New School which we both happened to be graduating from. I ended up sat directly in front of Ana who I recognized as both @neoliberalhell and Matthew’s friend/co-host. I introduced myself, we did the requisite “oh my god no way what are the odds,” and she then asked me to take a picture of her listening to the scene-adjacent podcast Cum Town during the ceremony. I did, she posted it, it got tens of thousands of likes.
About 28 hours later I saw Ana for the second time in two days at the aforementioned Harlem bar, both having traded our red graduation robes for the requisite leather jackets and American Spirits. She was in the tow of Matthew’s birthday clique, which I swiftly joined after making clear that I was the Friend From Online. Ana helped clarify that I was “the one that took the picture of me listening to Cum Town at graduation” which is also how she’s introduced me every time since. I don’t mind. Also in attendance at Matthew’s birthday were the authors of 2017’s Alt-Woke Manifesto and one of the kids who had risen to prominence running the late Mike Gravel’s 2020 meme Presidential campaign turned leftist policy institute. This set the scene quite appropriately for what would come.
Matthew left town for the summer, and we reconvened in September when he invited me to a party he was throwing at Trans Pecos that I couldn’t make it to. Shortly after, I started noticing Matthew’s steady rise as party-thrower and host. His name started appearing on posters, the podcast itself started hosting parties, and everyone was gaining followers. I somehow didn’t put the Dimes Square connection together until I saw Matthew listed as a host for a party alongside the man who seems to be haunting this piece as much as he haunts The Scene, Mike Crumps. Crumps turning host, the fallout from his August expose, and the rising stars of the New Guard constituted a definitive vibe shift.
Said Vibe Shift (there is a whole genealogy to the phrase vibe shift and Scene Lore around Angelicism that I will spare you from) coincided with the arrival of yet another new year to form a kind of hyperreal haze that I couldn’t stop myself from walking directly into. I had been meaning to publish more writing, nothing mattered anymore, and I now had access to a burgeoning scene through random online friends. Credit where credit is due: the thing that pushed me over the edge (and into this abyss) was reading Michelle Lhooq’s brief yet excellent write up on this emerging scene Exit The Clout Matrix: One Night in the Post-Dimes Square Party Scene published on her equally good Substack blog Rave New World. She framed what-was and what-would-be in such a way that I knew I had to figure out what was going on here, writing:
In contrast to the earnestly progressive identitarianism of Bushwick techno, the first wave of Dimes Square adopted a counter-politics: reactionary traditionalism performed with a deadpan affect of deep-trolling. It’s like a bunch of kids checked into a woke detox center and emerged as Catholic housewives and crypto-fascist podcasters. Even their party habits seem more trad: instead of hitting the DMT vape at Bossa, they smoke analog cigarettes at Clandestino. (Thankfully, both scenes share an obsession with ketamine.)
This “earnestly progressive identitarianism” had been my entry into New York’s party and rave scene, having lived in Bushwick from summer 2021-2022. I did that scene and I did it hard, and now Dimes Square was apparently starting to, at least geographically, as well. So I decided to lean fully into the role; I reactivated my meme page, started a Substack, attached an old flash to an even older Nikon film camera, grabbed my notebook and started attending the parties with Matthew’s name on the yer.
Baby’s (Maybe) Alt-Right
My first party in this self-assignment, hosted at Williamsburg’s Baby’s All Right, was a collab between pseudo-reactionary scene magazine Forever Mag and the extremely popular Substack interview newsletter Perfectly Imperfect, to celebrate the release of a “Pocket Bible” published between the two (of course titled Forever Imperfect) filled with the 2023 new year’s resolutions of New York’s scenesters. Forever Mag is new enough that it will become a part of the New Guard of the scene but established enough that it will bring a lot of the edgier baggage of Dimes Square with it, and nowhere was this more evident than the contributors to the “Pocket Bible III.” The Old Guard was represented by Red Scare co-host herself Anna Khachiyan, along with “Dimes Square Rapper” BlakeTheMan1000, Crumps, Euphoria actress Chloe Cherry, documentary filmmaker and New School professor Caveh Zahedi, and scene-adjacent one-woman-socialite-spectacle Caroline Calloway. Interspersed between the Big Names were the burgeoning names of the New Guard; hyperpop DJ Alice Longyu Gao, author of Semiotext(e)’s forthcoming The Host Manifesto, DJ, and one half of (also) hyperpop band Frost Children Angel Prost, and of course Matthew Donovan.
The music lineup for the night wasn’t much different, featuring BlakeTheMan100, Angel, Alice, Perfectly Imperfect founder Tyler Bainbridge, New York Times writer Ezra Marcus, Ren G of pop duo Club Eat, and remix-sample duo with possibly the worst name for SEO ever, New York, who opened the night by starting their show in the middle of the dance floor.
And all you ever want to be
Is like the other girls you see
- The Ramones, What’s Your Game
The party was fine. The energy was good, I like Baby’s All Right, and I met some cool people more than willing to share their stories and drugs. It also became clear to me that this was not, in fact, the scene I was looking for. The stench of Dimes Square’s rotting corpse wafted up through the floorboards a little too strongly for my taste. A cadre of editors from Forever Mag were all dressed like trad cath Lolita dolls—Anika, one of said editors, self-described Forever Mag as being “made by aging Lolitas in a state of arrested development” on an episode of Neoliberalhell—with other would-be It Girls seemingly following suit. A few opted for the more obvious literal trad-cath uniform of the school girl short skirt and high socks. Meanwhile the men were either dressed like Seinfeld characters attending court in their fathers’ oversized suits, or donned the typical Carhartt + ironic baseball hat + thrifted baggy tee combo. I don’t really get it, and I don’t care. It was all just a bit boring. We’ve been here before.
We dress like students, we dress like housewives,
Or in a suit and a tie!
- Talking Heads, Life During Wartime
On the bright side this is where I talked with James, the aforementioned New Yorker who waxed melancholy about the rise and fall of The Scene but expressed a sincere optimism about its future.
There’s a cynical reading where you can view the Dimes Square scenemakers as vultures; descending on a small neighborhood, making it incredibly popular to the point of ushering in a new wave of gentrification, and then abandoning it once it’s “peaked” leaving the actual residents of those neighborhoods (who haven’t been displaced) to fight over scraps. While this feels accurate, I don’t think that’s actually what’s happening here for several reasons. Firstly, can you gentrify something that’s already been gentrified? This is Williamsburg, and any capital flowing into it is doing so in the wake of the most intense gentrification of the last few decades. There’s no more mom and pops left to close down, you already pass the Apple Store, Whole Foods, and Michelin Star James Murphy-owned wine bar on the way to the venue. This is also true (albeit to a lesser degree) of neighboring Bushwick, where the queer club scene has already faced harsh criticism for gentrifying the neighborhood. Anyone from Bushwick will tell you that the neighborhood has been gentrified almost beyond recognition, and that this process was complete by the mid-late 2010’s. So if that’s already the context in which the Bushwick queer rave scene has been thriving, what’s a few more twenty-somethings seeking refuge from Manhattan with cash to burn?
Heaven is a Place on Earth Where You Tell Me All the Things You Want to Do
I’ve been to Heaven; it’s under new management and there’s a cover charge. Unless you arrive five minutes early and accidentally avoid it like I did. I took a familiar seat at the bar next to the water station. I didn’t recognize the bartender, I couldn’t tell if this was because it had been awhile since the days of me coming there almost weekly or because of the aforementioned new management. Things were changing quickly. When I was in my Bushwick Era I frequented this queer karaoke bar/club called Heaven or Las Vegas owned by the same people as the infamous Mood Ring. Now I was sitting in the same spot but the club was called Heaven, I wasn’t telling people I was a lesbian anymore, and I was waiting to meet podcast hosts instead of dates. Perhaps this was The Dialectic I’d heard so much about, which also happened to very intentionally be the name of the party I was there to attend.
People I recognized from the night before, scene proto-regulars, began to trickle in and mingle with the club’s typical early 20’s mesh-and-chains queer crowd. I talked to one dude who was a bit distracted because he was currently going through an anonymous-but-vicious online cancellation. He’s an aspiring model and Scene Member, so this made sense to me. He then told me that he thinks Antifa is a psy-op and I went to go smoke.
At this point the party had started and the opening DJ, Tirece, who goes by the DJ moniker Governor Vomit, struck up a conversation with me over a shared lighter. He was the kind of person I was used to spending time around in Bushwick. A very sweet, young, (presumably) queer, black artist interested in pushing boundaries and really getting people’s attention with his art. He did this successfully, as the whole time we were talking he was covered in fake blood he’d apparently doused himself with only minutes before. He told me he was excited about transgressive art and is currently working at the intersection of noise music and grotesque performance. It turned out that he’s one of the members of Grapenut Brunch Club, the party-throwing-collective hosting the night’s festivities and the group firmly at the center of this new iteration of the post-Dimes-Square scene.
I’d head back inside to hear more about this shortly, but not before getting in a pseudo-argument with Tirece’s friend who decried McKenzie Wark for being too “IdPol” (read: focusing on trans issues) while simultaneously being frustrated with the contemporary left’s lack of serious engagement with the works of Nick Land.
(For those unfamiliar, McKenzie Wark is an iconic trans woman theorist, author, professor, and raver firmly embedded in the Bushwick rave scene, and also my former professor. I texted her to get a digital copy of her upcoming book Raving to quote for this piece but she never responded. Miss you girl. Nick Land meanwhile is the prototype for leftist philosopher turned neo-fascist reactionary who’s now at the head of the Dark Enlightenment along with the previously mentioned Curtis Yarvin/Mencius Moldug. Land is the Big Daddy of rightwing accelerationism and what he calls hyper-racism. RIP Mark Fisher, you would have hated what Nick Land became.)
I noticed that people were now getting turned away from Heaven, but I was granted (re)admission.
Turns out that Heaven can be a crowded place. Despite this, the vibes were good, as evidenced by running into Crumps and him informing me—in true self-styled Gonzo fashion—that he was two hours into an acid trip. I then found Ana who I’d been meaning to interview for this piece. She said now was a good time, so we absconded to purple-and-black-glittered booths in a confusing back room that at one point must have been a green room. We were quickly joined by her boyfriend Dan and a few other scene regulars; one of whom runs a Dimes Square meme page, another being a self described “man about town.” Coke was passed around—some opted instead for Ketamine—and I hit record on my phone’s voice memo app. First item on the list; the scene’s relationship to “wokeness.”
On Wokeness: Actually, I’d first like to be clear about what I mean here. “Woke” has become yet another term so overused that it’s essentially been stripped of all meaning. The Right uses it to decry anything they view as “progressive” or representing elements of queer culture, which they largely all lump under the asinine term Cultural Marxism. It has a different connotation on the left to say the least. For some on the “earnest identitarian,” more “performatively woke,” or liberal identity politics oriented left, it just means a representation of the politics they believe in; queer liberation, black liberation, trans liberation, etc. For others “wokeness” indicates (and indicts) the performative, usually identity-politics-heavy elements of these politics (i.e. focusing on things like land acknowledgements, etc.) It’s often used to chide or rebuff the politics of exclusion, shame, and general cringe viewed to be practiced by the more “woke” left. Within the queer community this has manifested as a critique of “tenderqueers,” a very real phenomenon pointing essentially to the most obnoxious people in the world treating others like shit and using the guise of woke language or politics to mask it. This is also, obviously, manifested in the phenomenon of cancellation and “cancel culture” that pervades the contemporary queer left. (The “woke” left argues cancellation is “just consequences”, the other side argues that maybe we shouldn’t be canceling our friends over minute interpersonal conflicts draped in the language of liberation, the world keeps turning.)
So when we’re talking about “wokeness” here, it’s the—to borrow a phrase from Anti-Cancellation Queen and co-host of the podcast Fucking Cancelled Clementine Morrigan—nexus of an overreliance on identity politics, the pervasiveness of carceral thinking and social exile, the extremely performative nature of said politics that results in people replacing actual politics with online posting and signaling, and the self-righteous shaming and policing of each other that comes along with all of this which is being critiqued. Many people within that left milieu could read this paragraph and find a way to call it, or me, fascist, and that’s kind of exactly the point that these critiques of “wokeness” are trying to push against. But on to the interviews.
If identity becomes the problem of sexual existence, and if people think they have to ‘uncover’ their ‘own identity’ and that their own identity has to become the law, the principle, the code of their existence; if the perennial question they ask is ‘Does this thing conform to my identity?’ then, I think, they will turn back to a kind of ethics very close to the old heterosexual virility. If we are asked to relate to the question of identity, it has to be an identity to our unique selves. But the relationships we have to have with ourselves are not ones of identity, rather they must be relationships of differentiation, of creation, of innovation. To be the same is really boring. - Michel Foucault, Sex, Power, and the Politics of Identity
Me: The scene is maybe not in explicit opposition to the kind of more normie identitarian Bushwick queer rave scene, but also isn’t the kind of reactionary Red Scare deal that kind of scared a lot of people off in regards to Dimes Square, right? Where a lot of leftists were like “oh we’re on board with an edgy kind of transgressive scene, but these people are maybe getting a bit too reactionary for our taste.” Does that feel accurate to you?
Ana: Yeah. The Scene gets an alt-right reputation but if you look around you can see the diversity in gender expression and in race and everything. So I feel like we’re not attached to wokeness and we can see through the kind of false or disingenuous wokeness that’s pushed… (we’re then interrupted by someone staring at Ana which temporarily makes her uncomfortable, we both become self conscious about doing an interview but get over it. We explain that we’re doing an interview on The Scene. “What scene?” someone asks. Good question. We continue.)
Ana: I feel like it’s not anti-woke but it’s like post-woke.
Me: Yeah Matthew said, what was it, ambient wokeness?
Ana: (laughs) Ambient wokeness. Like yeah we accept all and we’re not like pushing identity to sell shit. We’re still somewhat nihilistic, we’re still irony poisoned and clever and funny, but you know, not in the anti-woke way.
I began to complain to Matthew about the nihilism entrenched in the politics of Dimes Square—how being an anti-woke edgelord just seems like another way of clowning through our collective cultural crisis. They corrected me, telling me that this party could actually be one of the most radical things happening in regressive Dimes Square: “It’s queer/trans POC or people with no clout working to make an outsider space without signifying it’s radical for recognition from the wokes,” they said. “It’s radical by assembling people who aren’t represented in a scene, but also aren’t given token mentions for their identity. It seems to be a rise of ambient wokeness. - Michelle Lhooq, Exit the Clout Matrix
Having determined that The Scene is neither Performatively Woke or Anti-Woke, we proceed to the question of irony.
Me: In your opinion is this scene ironic?
Ana: In a way. I think we’re all so irony poisoned that we kind of can’t escape it and we just accept that. There has to be at least one layer of irony in everything we do. Yeah. It’s ironic.
Me: But what about this scene is ironic? Like where does the irony end and the authenticity or genuineness begin?
Ana: I feel like we all have a mutual collective understanding of the irony, and so it’s like a brotherhood in that way. And that’s where the authenticity lies.
Me: Do you think the irony comes from like maybe a rejection of the mainstream left and its relation to wokeness or whatever?
Ana: Yeah. I feel like a lot of the problem with wokeness is like the puritan nature of it, like everyone has to repent and feel guilty all the time.
Me: Right, we all have original sin and we have to flog ourselves about it.
A: Yes exactly. Exactly. And we fucking hate that shit. We want to have fun! We want to have fun and it’s not a crime.
We were then interrupted by the aforementioned Dimes Square meme page admin.
Dimes Square Meme Page Admin: If you’re trying to be ambient woke then you suck. When we [him and Matthew] were talking the other night about it, I was like is that not just like being normal? If you’re a regular person, booking your friends is like “ambient woke.” And that’s just normal. That’s just what you should be doing.
Ana: Right. Like in the kind of repetent puritan nature of everything, it’s like we’re not doing this to be woke or to prove anything to appease the woke gods. It’s just being normal. We’re bringing people together and we’re having fun and we’re inclusive but in a way that isn’t weird.
Enter Matthew with the quip that sums it all up.
Matthew: You’re either being woke for clout or you’re being anti-woke for clout, and they’re both performative.
Glad we got that out of the way. Let’s go deeper.
Me: So what the fuck is this scene?
Ana: It’s…god I don’t know. I just got catapulted into this and honestly it’s so refreshing, it’s literally like jumping into a cold ocean. And I just feel like it’s a bunch of cool, authentic people who want to have fun and create art and support each other and…people are itching for community. I think about how much my mental health has improved since having this little community. It’s like creating a small pond for all of us to flock to and create all kinds of art together; music, physical art, whatever. People doing readings, fuck it. Poetry, politics, everything.
Poetry, politics, everything. What Ana just described is the prevailing sentiment I’d find that night among virtually everyone present, whether they were a Dimes Square edgelord, an Anointed Host or DJ whose name was on the flyer, or a queer Bushwick resident who just heard a fun party was happening at one of their favorite venues that’s closing.
An Aside: Heaven closed the following Monday and is rumored to be eventually reopening under the name The End (as hinted at in their announcement post) after a remodel.
Ana: Everything gets swallowed up so fast. I’m talking about rapid trend cycles and just the aggressive nature of late capitalism swallowing everything up so quickly. I have this crazy fear that it’s going to all get taken away. I want it to stay exactly how it is for as long as it can, you know?
Matthew, like the good host that he is, brought me—from what I can tell—the person who encapsulates the beating heart of The New Scene and Grapenut Brunch Club; Charlie Yates. Charlie is a young radical trans woman DJ, organizer, communist, party thrower, party goer, theory head, fluorescent safety vest-wearer, and soon to be Scene icon. Charlie’s got big plans. She was an early member of Grapenut Brunch Club at Bard College, which started as a literal brunch club for trans women, with the eventual intention of also throwing parties. Upon graduating and moving to New York Maisy was added to the Grapenut trail mix and Charlie inverted the previous formula, throwing the parties with and for (but not exclusively) the “coolest trans women in the city” with brunch to maybe eventually follow. Charlie and Grapenut has achieved this immediate party-throwing success by taking the Situationist détournement approach to the biggest scene she saw, Dimes Square.
Capital produces a culture in its own image, a culture of the work as private property. Détournement sifts through the material remnants of past and present culture for materials whose untimeliness can be utilized against bourgeois culture. But rather than further elaborate modern poetics, détournement exploits it. The aim is the destruction of all forms of middle-class cultural shopkeeping. As capital spreads outwards, making the world over in its image, at home it finds its own image turns against it. - McKenzie Wark, The Beach Beneath The Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International
Charlie: Basically at the 197FIONIZED thing that Ion Pack threw I brought a security vest with me, I tried it earlier at an Eternal party and it sort of worked, and then I was like “okay I’m gonna try it again” because they announced that nobody in the GA line was getting in so I was like “Okay I’m gonna scam my friends to get in” but then they just ended up handing me the list and I worked door for two hours, which is how I met like half of the people here. Mike Crumps wrote about it. So I met this guy in that line, he employed me for a door gig at Bella Ciao, and from there I met Travis who books at Bella Ciao, then we started doing parties at Bella Ciao, now I’m getting a residency with Travis which should hopefully offload some of my bills so Grapenut can keep paying artists more. And that’s why I’m DJ Door Girl, because that was like my start as a DJ. Not the start of Grapenut, but the start of Grapenut doing things in Manhattan. I think Manhattan is underutilized with the Bushwick scene, because it’s like there’s a lot of money there if you know how to touch it. And you can do really cool shit in Manhattan that you can’t do in Brooklyn.
Me: This seems to be a new iteration of both scenes, almost merging the two. How do you see your parties relating to the Bushwick scene?
Charlie: I mean we started Grapenut Brunch Club at Happyfun Hideaway in Bushwick. Then we threw Girls With Guns, They’s With Knives, Boys with Tinder Gold at Market Hotel. We love the Bushwick scene, that was our first party, that’s who I started partying with. My first party was at Rash. I live in Bushwick, I live off the [redacted] L in a $680/month apartment, so Bushwick is never far from my heart, I just think like generally speaking we kind of want to be doing everything, we want to be everywhere, bringing everyone into the fold and making sure the profits are going to everyone as much as possible.
Me: So you don’t see a differentiation or distinction there?
Charlie: I mean we’re just doing the same shit that everyone in Bushwick and everyone in Manhattan is doing, we’re all just trying to make a living doing what we love. I mean that’s everyone. Everyone wants to work, they just want to do the work that they want to do, and we want to help them. I don’t know, I don't see that [differentiation.]
We turned again to the question of sincerity, surely this scene was more earnest than the ironically disaffected and insincere Dimes Square?
Charlie: I don’t know if Dimes Square is insincere. It’s just psychogeography, it’s like happenstance. I’m not beating the Situationist allegations, but like Debord talks about psychogeography—whatever it’s pretentious—but I think the geography of the space is creating us, right here, you know? Dimes Square is just geography. People there are just as authentic as anyone else. It’s a little bit more soap-opera-y than Bushwick, people go out and it’s like you’re playing out a story or whatever, which I find fun, honestly. I was expecting to be like “I’m gonna destroy Dimes Square,” I expected to find a bunch of villains; reactionaries, whatever. But for the most part everyone else is just trying to make something out of this broken fucking world in the exact same way the Bushwick people are, they just need a way to do it.
So we’re clear on what this scene isn’t, what exactly is it? What are you all trying to do here with Grapenut?
Charlie: So…essentially what we do, how I conceptualize it, is we chase “loose money” quote unquote, like NFT’s—we’re not chasing NFT’s—but like NFT’s are an example of loose money, and capitalism is a little bit retarded, so we’re chasing those spots and then we’re trying to funnel that money towards sort of concrete infrastructural things that can eventually be used for like an actual political movement. It’s like what if we threw our next party at a protest? What if we did all that? That’s actually on the cards. We’re working on that. Anyway, right now we’re just trying to get to like a couple stable full time incomes off of this shit, so we’re getting into creative agency stuff, where we’ll throw parties for like people with an outer brand attached, because we’ve gotten really good at production. And we can keep it DIY, choose who we employ, support, that sort of thing, so that we can help out like our community. Because like we don’t want to fuck over anyone while we’re trying to work on the political shit. But yeah, that’s Grapenut.
Me: So who is the scene for?
Charlie: We’re interested in the scene for everyone who’s interested in a better world. I mean that’s what we’re trying to produce.
Me: With the intention of?
Charlie: The intention is revolution.
Fitting for the party’s Hegelian namesake, I started to see some contradictions emerge. I agreed with everything Charlie was saying and genuinely believe in it (and her), yet something was nagging me. Namely, the hierarchical clout based nature of the scene and the Scene People that populate it. To interrogate this I returned to my interview with Ana and also sought out Angel Prost, as someone with a manifesto will always have something to say.
Me: Can a positive left politics be clout-based? (Ana laughs)
Ana: It’s hard. (Ana thinks) The ethics of clout chasing, god. I like to let things come to me and not claw for them, so I feel like I have my own personal relationship with trying to attain something. I hope that it would be merit based and inclusive and sort of like everyone’s working together to help support each other, you know? Because me and Matthew have our podcast, and we like to give platforms to our friends who are, say, musicians and they bring us to their shows and we get to enjoy their music, and then they wear…I don’t know if you’ve spoken to Serge who’s a designer, his brand Drink More Water, like he designs clothes for these musicians that they’re wearing, so it’s community in that way. We’re all supporting each other, we’re lifting each other up.
Me: So it’s not as like…individual, stepping on each other to get ahead, clout chasing as it seems?
Ana: I like to see it that way yeah. In my own nature it’s like, I can’t be cutthroat in that way, so I just can’t do that kinda shit.
Me: You’re just here for the ride.
Ana: Yeah. I’m here for the ride.
Here’s the thing, I believe her. I have a good sense for people who are full of shit. And don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of them in this scene, as there are in every scene. But the people I stuck to and saw the most; Matthew, Ana, Charlie, Angel, Alice, etc. aren’t those people. Sure they may enjoy everything that comes along with clout and the feeling of being an Important Person in a scene, but they’re also real people with genuine intentions just trying to do something. And that’s more than I can say of most people.
On the Clout Question, Angel took a similarly “clout-realist” (Matthew’s phrasing, of course) approach.
Me: About the politics of this scene as an outgrowth of Dimes Square. What are the politics (of the Host Manifesto and the scene) and basically is a clout-based-scene compatible with a liberatory or leftist politics?
Angel: So the Host Manifesto has come under severe fire recently, which is valid, writers such as Michelle Lhooq (of Rave New World), which I love Michelle, I’ve DJ’d with her before. She published in her newsletter Rave New World about the Host Manifesto recently and basically making the same critique that it was like clout-based, feeding into this clout world, but it’s actually in my mind the complete opposite. It’s making a mockery of that while also utilizing its power, because it obviously has insane power, like to book something with clout attached to it ultimately results in high attendance, high budget, etc. If you dip your toes into that enough in a semi-ambiguous way that fools the people that enjoy clout organically to want to come, who also might be like “that’s funny”, then in the end you have a net result that’s like everyone’s just having fun and everyone makes money sort of. So that’s my approach I guess. I’m definitely not after clout anyway. I also don’t know how hosting will age in 2023, I’m very curious.
Angel is one of my fave new nightlife writers, but the Host Manifesto’s post-truth trolling seemed to betray a hyper-vigilance around social status that reminded me of the “How To Get Into Berghain” Reddit threads I’m trying to escape from. When I hit up Angel to inquire about her intentions, she picked up the phone over the squeals of rats she was jumping over to get to another party in New York City. She told me that she often calls her writing “deception poetry,” and that the energy it’s giving is: there’s no way out, so play the system or the system plays me. “Host Manifesto is more than just about the clout matrix,” she added. “It’s about encouraging people to create a night that’s a blend of scenes—because that’s more fun.” - Michelle Lhooq, Exit the Clout Matrix
Matthew, who lives for critique and can take it just as much as he gives it, interjected here to make clear his critique of this critique. (He’d give a similar one of Crumps at a later party.) The critique of critique in the backroom of a party called The Dialectic gave the whole affair a distinctively Marxist gloss.
Matthew: This is my critique of the clout matrix idea though, I was saying if you’ve been a reporter for like a decade and you’re critiquing people that are basically trying to work within a system that is clout realist right? Then like, you already have clout, so you’re looking down on other people trying to get to your place in life basically.
Angel: Well it’s ultimately like the “you’re not punk” argument, which was like a symptom of Bushwick up until like 2020 honestly where it was like “you’re not punk if you make money from music.” Like very “unless you hate life you’re not making real art” and I’m like “actually you know what? I’m having a good time doing what I’m doing and I think there’s ways to subvert what’s happening in ways that aren't bourgeois. We have a song on our next record sort of about this, it’s this spoken word thing I do live sometimes about Bob Dylan. Basically the premise of it is like Bob Dylan in the future, or maybe now, and he’s really pissed that his album is being promoted in like Soho and the West Village right next to like a Sweetgreen ad with like Jack Harlow on it. But in reality he’s in the wrong because Jack Harlow’s actually the most punk person there, because he’s engaging with the world of Sweetgreen and making money off of a salad company and making art out of that.
Seemingly pulled in by the gravity of the fact that Something Was Happening in the back room, we were then interrupted by Alice Longyu Gao with the unexpected incisive curveball that cut through my meandering bullshit.
Alice: (on Angel) All these intellectuals in New York need to chill the fuck out because she’s the most smart person of all time.
Angel: I’m anti-psychology. Seeking to understand every single thing about a person is the worst thing you could ever want to do.
Alice: Does that make you upset?
Angel: It doesn’t make me upset, but I think that you should just learn to live with the uncertainty of knowing someone.
On that note, let’s be done with these interviews yeah?
The Dialectic was present that night in all its forms. Heaven (Or Las Vegas) and (Neoliberal) Hell. Woke and anti-woke. Dimes Square and Bushwick. Ketamine and coke. Thesis and antithesis merging to form synthesis. And as corny as it is, I think that’s exactly what this scene is on its way to achieving. Only through embracing and embodying the contradiction(s) can we move through them, and this scene is always in motion.
Exiting the Dialectic, I attended several more parties over the next few weeks, most notably Alice’s Lunar New Years rave (where most of these photos are from) and a birthday party/DJ set for Chapo Trap House producer Chris Wade. I even saw the play Dimes Square at Beckett’s in the West Village. At this point I’ve waded a ways into the water and found it surprisingly pleasant, with the exception of the occasional shark sighting. I’m not interested in becoming a Crumps Carbon Copy, but I also don’t intend to stop attending these parties. But enough about me.
Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory (Don’t Try)
As I bounced from Chinatown stairwells to exclusive venues hidden within rent controlled apartments, there were ghosts beyond the “first wave” of Dimes Square that I couldn’t shake. I don’t think anyone could. Were they to take corporeal form these ghosts would look like Andy Warhol, Basquiat, David Bowie, Johnny Thunders, Lou Reed, hell even Anthony Bourdain, who was a young scene hanger-on growing up. There’s simply no way to have an arts scene on the LES without recognizing the gravity of the space you’re stepping into and the people that came before you. The LES arts scene of the decade spanning roughly 1975-1985 was almost unquantifiable in its cultural impact. It’s where punk was born. It’s where artists like Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, Blondie, The Ramones, Television, New York Dolls, Andy Warhol, Basquiat, Jim Jarmusch, Kathy Acker, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, et al, all came into their own. Venues such as Club 57, CBGB’s, Mudd Club, Andy Warhol’s Factory, and in later years The Tunnel and Limelight, provided the space for such experimentation. When space couldn’t be found, it would be made. Most crucially, it was the original downtown scene.
While there are definite continuities between the scene of Then and the scene of Now, the greatest contrast is unequivocally the state of New York, Then and Now. To hear artists talk about living on the LES in the 70’s is to hear madness.
We had no windows, no front doors, you know? You’d find a door in the street and chain it up yourself, you know? No running water, I used to bathe in the fire hydrant in front of the building, and I used to sleep with my pitbull so rats wouldn’t get too close to me at night. …My main problem growing up here is that I lived on a gang block. The gang on my block was called The Hitmen and you know, they were no joke. And I remember they’d be hanging out on the stoop on the church across the street smoking dust. All of them with their golf clubs and 007 knives, and everyone would be listening to, of all things, Kraftwerk. …I was never a violent person, I mean Christ I was raised by hippies, but I was thrown into a crazy situation where I had no choice but to fight my way through it. - Harley Flanagan, 12 year old drummer for The Stimulators and co-founder of the Cro-Mags, Parts Unknown Season 12 Episode 7, Lower East Side
Or as the New York Daily News put it after Gerald Ford denied New York financial assistance to avoid bankruptcy: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.”
These were the conditions in which some of the most genuinely transgressive, transformative, subversive, emotive, thrilling art of the 20th century came into being. These artists in the LES were able to channel the depravity of their conditions and violence of everyday life into creating the New.
Suffice it to say that punk (like rap music) is not a variation on existing styles but a radical new creation of a musical form and that, I believe, such fundamental shifting of the building blocks of sensibility can only come from the street since street culture (unlike middle class musical culture) is untethered to the constricting, dominant forms. - Jim Feast for Tribes, On Kathy Acker’s Umbilical Connection to New York’s Downtown
Some folks believe that hardship breeds artistic creativity. I don't buy it. One can put up with poverty for a while when one is young, but it will inevitably wear a person down. I don't romanticize the bad old days. I find the drop in crime over the last couple of decades refreshing. Manhattan and Brooklyn, those vibrant playgrounds, are way less scary than they were when I moved here. I have no illusions that there was a connection between that city on its knees and a flourishing of creativity; I don't believe that crime, danger and poverty make for good art. That's bullshit. But I also don't believe that the drop in crime means the city has to be more exclusively for those who have money. Increases in the quality of life should be for all, not just a few. - David Byrne, If the 1% stifles New York’s creative talent, I’m out of here.
A lot has happened since then. Several hours after writing the above paragraphs it was announced that Tom Verlaine of Television had died at 73. Burnt out buildings of the LES now replaced with wellness stores catering to the insecure elite who populate the neighborhood of today. All of the aforementioned venues have since been closed. C.B.G.B’s is now a John Varvatos store, located right near the Village Voice’s shuttered former offices. The median rent for a one bedroom apartment on the LES is an almost laughable $3,950, compared to the $200/month rooms described by LES residents of the 70’s and 80’s. The artistic titans of these neighborhoods have been consumed, repackaged and commodified to the ends of New York tourism dollars, ironically ensuring that the art produced by them will not be possible in this environment again. While walking through the West Village to attend the showing of Dimes Square at Beckett’s—an apartment turned arts venue which, like many remaining cultural holdouts in this city, can only still exist through a combination of historical rent control and inheritance—I saw an advertisement for a new Broadway play entitled The Collaboration focusing on the relationship between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Andy Warhol is played by Paul Bettany and Basquiat is played by Jeremy Pope. Tickets start at $60.
If there’s one factor above all else which contributes to cultural conservatism, it is the vast inflation in the cost of rent and mortgages. It’s no accident that the efflorescence of cultural invention in London and New York in the late 1970s and early 80s (in the punk and postpunk scenes) coincided with the availability of squatted and cheap property in those cities. Since then, the decline of social housing, the attacks on squatting, and the delirious rise in property prices have meant that the amount of time and energy available for cultural production has massively diminished. - Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life
A decade ago David Byrne of the Talking Heads penned the previously quoted op-ed decrying the fact that most of Manhattan and “many parts of Brooklyn” have become “virtual walled communities, pleasure domes for the rich (which, full disclosure, includes me).” One has to look no further than the grotesquery of contemporary Chelsea, The Vessel, and Hudson Yards to see the truth in Byrne’s statement. Even the legends of the past’s downtown scene who achieved monumental success recognize that what they did is no longer possible here.
Venture Bros. Season 6 Episode 8, Red Means Stop
EXT. MANHATTAN STREET - NIGHT
Shoreleave walks down the streets of 2016 Manhattan with Hank and Dean Venture.
Shoreleave: Celebrities making out with bridge-and-tunnel nobodies, giant chickens dancing with Richie Rich. Type O-Negative one night, 50 Cent the next. Everyone is welcome. Everyone gets along. This is your coming of age ritual boys, welcome to…The Limelight! …Market.
Shoreleave realizes what The Limelight has become.
Hank: So…we’re coming of age in a mall?
Shoreleave: What happened?! That is sacrilege!
Dean: Yeah! It used to be a church.
Shoreleave: No! Who cares?! It used to be the best club in the city! Now it’s a damn mall, that’s sacrilege. Okay, Plan B, we’re going to C.B.G.B.’s!
I held this history and its mounting contradictions with me as I flitted through today’s scene to attempt, to begin, to get at the question of whether it is still even possible to create The New today, much less in the world’s most expensive city in a scene seemingly obsessed with itself. And while a significant amount of the art I’ve taken in in The Scene is good—surprisingly included in this is Dasha’s film The Scary of Sixty-First—sometimes even boundary-pushing or unique, none of it is New. The most generative pseudo-wave of art that I’ve seen come out of New York in recent years is the hyperpop music scene which does have a significant presence in The Scene (although it is largely owed to Bushwick’s rave scene). It’s taking pre-existing forms of music and culture and chopping and screwing them, presenting them in aggressive and energetic new ways. It is emphatically not the inward facing myopia portrayed in Gasda’s Dimes Square, the annals of Crumps’ Substack, or the Instagram pages of Scene party photographers.
A lot of what’s come closest to generating The New is also owed to the internet, the omnipresent Online, seemingly one of the last geographies where art can be produced without the price tag of an urban apartment. Yet at the same time that Being Online has allowed for the egalitarian proliferation of art movements outside of the waning culturally hegemonic institutions, like Soundcloud rap or hyperpop, the worst elements of it have sought to enclose, privatize, and recommodify the Art of Online in it’s all its forms, see: NFT’s. Regardless of this promise, at the end of the day, it’s all still a remix. And while I obviously love a good remix, we can’t play the hits forever.
Producing the new depends upon certain kinds of withdrawal – from, for instance, sociality as much as from pre-existing cultural forms – but the currently dominant form of socially networked cyberspace, with its endless opportunities for micro-contact and its deluge of YouTube links, has made withdrawal more difficult than ever before. Or, as Simon Reynolds so pithily put it, in recent years, everyday life has sped up, but culture has slowed down. - Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life
New York is just moving so quickly. The Culture is always speeding up and slowing down and going backwards and going forwards. It’s futuristic, it’s camp. It’s an ode to a previous kind of culture, it’s an ode to futuristic potential culture. - Matthew Donovan, Neoliberahell Episode 34: Water Is Stupid (feat. Alice Longyu Gao)
Road to Nowhere
While I was writing this I went to see Brandon Cronenberg’s new movie Infinity Pool. A 2023 film by the son of an industry legend (or as we’re now saying, nepo baby) about a broke writer who’s married rich getting sucked into a vapid, horrific world of ultra-wealthy harpies who have long shed their humanity and can (and will) turn on you at any opportunity, or if they even just think it’s funny. I was unsettled by how much I identified with the main character’s descent into hell, or at least the destabilizing precarity that comes with entering a group where you can’t tell who or what is real, and thus have no idea what they’re capable of. I could not get Crumps’ Fascist Humiliation Ritual piece out of my head as this writer was terrorized. And while the majority of people I’ve met in this scene are real, actual people who I don’t imagine would eat me alive given the chance—which is exactly why I’ve focused on them—The Fear is still there.
I cannot say the same of everyone in The Scene, I cannot say that the commitment to bourgeois irony and reactionary “transgression” of people like Dasha doesn’t terrify me a little, which seemed to be one of the points of the play Dimes Square while also indicting itself in its critique. Even while watching the play and taking notes in my annoying Moleskine, the thought crossed my mind that even this play could turn on me. It was a little bit too easy for me to imagine the cast going “I see we’ve got a writer in the audience tonight” as the spectacle consumes itself and everything around it. It can be fun and freeing for nothing to matter, until that includes you. And that’s part of The Fear, right? That by entering these worlds all the worst things you heard could turn out to be true, that you could find yourself in the den of the nascent fascism of the petite bourgeoisie. I did not experience this directly, but I can’t deny the existence of these tendencies. I however can only hope that The New Guard is successful in ushering this tendency out the door and rendering it irrelevant.
For the time being, I’m going to keep an eye on what’s emerging here and so should you. The existence of a group like Grapenut Brunch Club attempting to bridge the gaps between disparate art scenes and inter-left political tendencies is exciting and I would say necessary. There’s an almost discomforting realism to it in the seizing and redistribution of capital and clout from the Worst People In The World that is anathema to more traditional left scenes, but that’s also part of what’s exciting. The left has been losing for decades, and part of the critique of the liberal identity-politics-obsessed left is precisely that in demanding purity it’s ensuring its own continued marginalization. And while there’s lots of pride and smug self-satisfaction in Having the Most Correct Politics, I’m not too sure what it can materially mean unless there’s an avenue for those politics to be enacted. And I’m glad that some of these people in this scene in this moment are taking that task seriously, forcing open potential avenues one party at a time.
Well, we know where we're goin'
But we don't know where we've been
And we know what we're knowin'
But we can't say what we've seen
And we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out
- Talking Heads, Road to Nowhere
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