This was supposed to be a big week—the return from the year-end break, a triumphal start to 2022, and the start of the countdown to the Jan. 18 release of Gangsters of Capitalism.
Climate change had other plans. On Monday, the sky fell on central Virginia, where I live. Officially we were hit with 5.7" inches of snow, but that doesn’t really describe it. The snow was supercharged by extremely unseasonable heat (it was a disturbing 70 degrees with 90% humidity on New Year’s Day), and as it fell it piled up like white concrete on the trees. Trunks bowed, limbs snapped like pencils. Over 340,000 homes and businesses lost power as the temperatures plunged. My family’s house was one of them.
Four days later, the power is still out chez Katz. Dominion Energy has promised us it will be restored today, but they have promised the same thing the last two days running. My wife, our toddler and I are fine for now, as our friends have graciously given us the use of their parents’ vacated house. So we have heat, food, and the internet I’m using to write this, though last night, the lights flickered here, too. And there is more snow predicted for tonight.
The situation reminds me to some extent of the aftermath of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico, where I spent some time living in a blacked-out apartment in San Juan in 2017. (I was working on a magazine feature, which eventually turned into this.) That was also a manifestly first-world disaster: the climate change-juiced failure of a shaky electrical grid, made far, far, far worse in Puerto Rico’s case by a century of U.S. colonialism and its attendantly more predatory form of capitalism. (Not to mention Donald Trump fucking up the response as hard as he possibly could.) Our experience is also somewhat similar to that of Manhattanites who had to make their way through the blackout caused by Hurricane Sandy.
I’m not trying to say that what’s happening in Charlottesville right now is anywhere near those larger disasters’ deadliness or scale. But as I can tell you first hand that the most common experience of disaster is extreme inconvenience, as the networks and material resources you rely on to get through each day corrode, break, and fail. The thinner your margin for survival—thanks to poverty, chronic illness, or the like—the worse the disaster gets for you personally. You have probably experienced this yourself. If you haven’t, odds are you will.
So please take this as part update, part apology. We still do have some extremely cool things planned, which I will (hopefully) be able to start sharing with you early next week.
In the meantime, you can enjoy this excerpt from Gangsters about Smedley Butler, the Business Plot and Jan. 6 that ran in Rolling Stone: The Plot Against American Democracy That Isn’t Taught in Schools
And don’t forget to pre-order the book.
Hope you and yours are safe and warm.
Edited by Sam Thielman
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