Leaving this up for a week as a pinned tweet before locking the account. It’s been a lovely little war, folks, and some good fun was had, But until this platform gets better and more honorable management, fuck it, no.
A long decade ago, my assistant, a millennial of course, explained to me that there was this sort of bulletin board, a tweeting, chirping sort of collective, where you post what you want to hype – a new season of television, an essay on your blog, a cute picture of your ferret. Okay, I said. You kids have fun with that.
But no, there came a second moment when I found myself misquoted on something – I can’t remember what — and I wrote a corrective, which sat on my blog like a stale bagel on the plate until Reena explained it again: You link what you write to the chirping thing, people find the chirp, and then find what you wrote.
So this odyssey began in simple utility. It ends this week with me assuring a daily helping of anonymous, racebaiting fucksquibs that no, as aggrieved white people, they are not being systemically victimized by the evil predations of other races and that for claiming such unevidenced they very much need to eat a sack of stale, unsalted penises.
And beyond that shitpile of gaping assholery, there is a second fresh, quotidian portion of Jew-haters whose complaints about my oven-dodging will have to wait because I need to go drink a fresh quart of baptized baby blood and then get to my globalist banking duties so as to e-transfer their life savings to the Israel Bonds campaign.
Then there are the luftmensch ideologues, extreme right and left, with their furious sloganeering and unending purity tests. And after that rabble, of course, there are the Russian bots and make-it-up pranksters, as well as the garden-variety trolls who simply want me to engage with them in an online version of the streetcorner Dozens. I oblige graciously by claiming to finger their relentless and properly paid mothers, after which they feign mock outrage because their sainted moms are dead, opening the door to me concluding that I no longer need to wonder why it took the nice lady so long to finish.
Then, with the rest of the day, I try to get some work done.
I know I’m being reductive about Twitter here – I’ve made friends on the site in the last ten years and been exposed not just to clever witticisms and savage humor, but to some genuinely insightful ideas. And sure, I’ve had my share of fanboy interactions with some notable folk that make me marvel at our new digital world: My god, Chuck Yeager once thanked me for a tweet. Chuck fucking Yeager.
In short, there will be a lot about Twitter to miss.
But what will not be missed is the asymmetrical warfare in which the most contemptible and abusive rhetoric is not only sustained but enhanced by its proximity to normal discourse. Or worse, and more lethal for our republic, there’s nothing to enjoy in the organized campaigns of disinformation that course through Twitter before the mainstream media can get its boots on.
Earlier regimes were ridiculously slow to understand the damage being done, and efforts to hold the worst and most dishonest players to any vetting or standard on the platform were halting and inconsistent at best. Yet there was some effort. The arrival of Elon Musk, and his bland assertions that all manner of speech should not only freely uttered, but freely platformed, gives fresh concern. Worse, his suggestion that I should continue to provide him with free content to help maintain and nurture that kind of hellsite is, for me, problematic. I won’t appear on Fox or write for a Murdoch publication; why in hell would I do anything to personally sustain any other social media outlet that platforms lies and hate? Or pay eight dollars or eight cents for the privilege?
Because here’s the guts of the problem:
The solution to the worst kinds of lying and racebaiting isn’t to accord such shit-talk its place in the national agora and then reply with a careful and reasoned counterargument. When a Goebbels or Streicher declares that Jews drink the blood of baptized children, the strategic defense against such is not to join the argument and say, no, actually, they do not, and then drone out an analysis of the Tsarist forgeries in which the claim originates. The solution is to call the lying motherfucker a taintsniffing shitmonger and send his tweet to digital oblivion. Mock, block and roll.
That’s what Twitter, in the end, taught me: The worst and most cancerous campaigns on the internet are not to be outreasoned or debated. Doing so grants credibility where none should exist. And Twitter has never truly come to terms with the asymmetrical dynamic.
Indeed, I was once suspended from the platform for telling some fecal-flecked wonder who claimed my friend Tony Bourdain was slain in a political assassination that he very much needed to fuck off and “die of boils.” Presumably, Twitter saw little wrong with transforming a real and personal tragedy into grist for submoronic conspiratorist horseshit. No, the platform saw my reply as a real threat that I could and would summon a non-lethal skin disorder to fell my enemies. So, agreeably, I deleted that tweet, then returned to the site and told @Jack — founder and CEO Jack Dorsey — that his understanding of what speech needed to be policed was nil, and that he should, well, die of boils. Suspended a second time, I refused to remove the second tweet and resolved to quit the platform; some days later, Twitter itself took it down and restored my account unilaterally. So hey, I had to stick it out a few years more.
But to credit Dorsey just a little bit, the fact remains that prior to the latest technobrat taking the helm, Twitter was at least struggling with the problem. Musk isn’t remotely capable of such; witness his own willing retweet of the organized slander of Paul Pelosi a couple weeks ago, followed by his quiet removal of the tweet absent the courage of any apology. Quite a shitpiece Mr. Sparky Car has turned out to be.
I know there are many who found neither decorum nor dignity in the blunt ugliness of what for me was very much a bit of decade-long performance art. There I was in the gutter, trading spit and flinging sewage. Well, yes, but it was fun. And if you came correct, we could argue, perhaps even laugh, as many new friends came to understand. But if you came to play, we played. I’m from Baltimore, where The Dozens are an American cultural artform like any other.
An aggrieved bystander once called the act graceless. I readily agreed:
“This is Twitter. There is no grace. None. Here in an orgy of organized disinformation and trollery, our republic has come to die. There is no teaching the fuckmooks and deplorati. Go down swinging. Use every cruel word. Invoke their mothers. Lather them with contempt. Enjoy.”
I still mean that, every word. For a decade, I took a bit of time every day – more when trapped on a film set amid lighting delays and actors late from the trailers – to urge some rancid bastards to remember me to their mothers and stop lifting my cash from their purse. It did little lasting good, sure, but it brought my blood pressure down, and at the worst, I tutored some folks in the greater scope and reach of American maledicta. Given where Musk is threatening to take twitter, they’re now better prepared to take a turn at the task. The internet, after all, needs to be mowed.
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I will miss your tweets like I miss a day shopping and snacking at the Lexington Market, a Colts or Orioles game at Memorial Stadium, like a bushel of blue crabs, an ice cold 6pack of Natl Bo, Elvis’ last concert at the Convention Center with Truman Capote in the wings, a Nighthawks show with special guests Billy Price, the glow of the Bromo Seltzer clock tower or an episode of the Wire. Charm City never had a more loyal son.
What do you think could be done to alleviate the violence in the drug trade and the overdose epidemic? I live in a minority majority city in Texas. Almost all of our murders are of young black males. Our schools are about to be taken over by the state for the 2nd time in 10 years. The only exemplary school in the district is a preparatory trade school. Shit’s going downhill fast. I’ve lived here all my life. Do you have examples of cities that have turned it around? I hope to hear from you.
End the drug war. Use the money to fund jobs programs and deliver low-cost housing to working people. You couldn’t do worse.
Miss your wisdom over there, and keep looking up here if you will post something new…
Condolences for the loss of your friend, I assume, Mr Belzer.
Be well Mr Simon.
You are missed. Every time I think someone is acting in a manner that would justify the term scrotelick, I’ll remember you, and smile.
It’s the evening the Tyre Nichols videos were released, and lots of talk on Twitter and the cable news about police reform. It reminded me of your column on Baltimore policing from years ago; went to look for you on Twitter and found your adieu. I’ll be curious if you have anything to throw in–based on all those years as a reporter. Much of what you said then (available here somewhere, I assume) seems apropos, and no one else I’m reading/hearing seems to have your depth of expertise, even criminal justice types. Thanks for everything you’ve done and written over the years.
Come to mastodon! We’re waiting for you! @[email protected]
I quit Twitter quite a while ago but you told me some great stuff. Capn Crunch French toast, about growing up here in Woodside where I moved into as an adult(39 years living here now) and really everything you wrote.
It’s been an honor fam.
Personally, I was with you here on this website at the beginning and moments later the unrest in Baltimore occurred and we were actually able to have some dialogue, your fans, myself included, and you. Then Twitter stumbled in and you flew low for ten years and had some laughs and some good discourse as well. I hope you return to the long form as you did on some occasions like Robin Williams’ passing. It’s a higher calling in my opinion, and I look forward to it if it be!
I will miss your posts – you are the Picasso of profanity! I mostly just lurk on the platform/cesspool, watching in fascinated disgust. One of the few times I felt moved to comment, I got suspended for it. It wasn’t even that vicious of a comment. Referring to a group photo of MAGA idiots, I wrote, “I sincerely hope all of these people get explosive diarrhea.” The moderators skimmed right over all the racism and disinformation to smack me on that one. :/
Jenny, not moderators, AI, didn’t like the word explosive. Thought that you wanted to blow something up.
Alas, I just saw this — a poor performance on maintaining the site, I suppose — and am sorry to learn of Mr. Houck’s passing. A decent man and sincere newspaperman.
Bud, ya blocked me and everyone else in the 3yearletterman thread a couple months ago but ya gave me Homicide so I’m calling it a push. My mom says hi btw.
You once liked something I tweeted and it was a, “That’s all folks” moment in thst I never needed to write again because that was the pinnacle for me.
This post is brilliant.
See you somewhere else in the future.
How I wish I could write with your flair (a VERY poor adjective, I’m sorry to say)!! The “fuckmooks and deplorati” — I am laughing so hard right now. Wish I had followed you on The Bird Site while I had the chance. My bad, to my everlasting regret. Thank you for this. I too loved Twitter for its never-ending witticisms, its humanity, and its wicked display of humorous slights and insults. I’m there to the bitter end, but it’s less and less interesting every day.
I have never seen or read anyone with the raw, amazing talent you possess in coming up with new contributions to American male dicta. Your writing style is addictive as others have admitted and I almost needed a drink and a cigarette (jk..don’t smoke) after reading “Die of Boils, Mr. Sparky Car.” What a breath of fresh air!
Well hopefully this all smolders down to some sort of workable equilibrium that results in the current emperor being shown the door. Your presence is sorely missed sir but I get it. I support and agree with you.
Hope to one day soon hear you again refer to some poor outgunned lame as “fucknuts” or “scrote-lick” before you run down their mom’s questionable life choices. Take it easy.
More than anything, what I come away with plain and simple is, great writing. Great writing.
Dear David Simon,
How do I love you? Let me count the ways. 1. For all your exceptional TV shows (especially The Wire). 2. For nailing all the bozos on that Twitter bus with such clarity & vision. 3. For you being you & writing this excellently written spit in Elon Musk’s face. Inshallah, amen, and whoa, nellie. You performed a service for us all.
Well, supposedly the whole fiery Tesla deal has been revealed to have been staged (although that is not the same thing as saying electric car batteries do not have a risk of causing a vehicle fire—important distinction). Nevertheless I find the whole title “Die of boils, Mr. Sparky Car” a typical mordantly funny take on the guy with the go. Thanks.
Delighted to have (finally) discovered your blog. AoDespair now makes sense. Must admit that when I’d comment on your tweets, I held my breath and crossed fingers that you would not refer to me as any type of a squib, or worse. You did not. Whew.
Mr. Simon, I offer up my thanks for your tenure on the hellsite. Your reasons for leaving are just and true. There are not ‘two sides’ to the lies, deliberate misinformation, and power-mad sophistry that infects both the internet and our political discourse. The lack of critical thinking is appalling, and thank you for continuing to call it out.
Ironic. The entirety of everything ever posted on Twitter forms a pus-filled boil on the collective consciousness of humanity. The sooner Musk’s grandiose incompetence bursts the thing, the better we’re all going to feel.
Okay, I don’t know if my comment will actually be posted. We had interesting interactions on Twitter so maybe this will reach you.
So, what’s next?
Leader by example! And you have more useful things to give with your talents. Serious gifts to humanity. Deploy them with purpose to make a difference, please.
A pleasure to be drinking a (virtual) few stools down, to get to listen in to a familiar native-Maryland patois and to volley a very occasional bon mot back over your way. Look forward to catching your voice rising through another din.
Thank you so much
There is a cost for taking on the dark side of Twitter and being famous. Despite spending too much time (14 years) on Twitter and fortuately, not being important, I have enjoyed meeting many people living in Baltimore that I would never been able to enjoy in real life. If Twitter disappears, I will miss them and have no way of replacing that community.
Well, since I was banned from Twitter for suggesting a blue-checked Covid-denying doctor go out and get Covid so he could tell us himself how minor it was, I can’t miss you now on Twitter. But man, I did enjoy your parry with the fools on that platform. Can’t blame you for leaving, though.
Hope you step up your blog-post frequency to fill the vacuum, DS.
I loved your work on here
I grew up reading and loving Mike Royko
The wire is the best show ever made
Mike Royko was great.
[…] Die Of Boils, Mr. Sparky Car. – The Audacity of Despair […]
Never joined twitter but you were the one and only ‘tweeter’ I tuned into everyday . Your tv work, sorry, your great awe inspiring tv work was what led me to follow your tweets. You were one of few fighting the good fight, never relenting in your unique way. This , “This is Twitter. There is no grace. None. Here in an orgy of organized disinformation and trollery, our republic has come to die. There is no teaching the fuckmooks and deplorati. Go down swinging. Use every cruel word. Invoke their mothers. Lather them with contempt. Enjoy.”, a teachable phrase that I will hold close and , well, I’m just sad to not have you around.
You were literally the only reason I ever ventured into that cesspool they call Twitter, never had an account on there, damn sure never will, but popped in every once in a while to bask in your shitposting glory, because I just can’t help but love a good shitpost, and you were a true craftsman on there in that regard, hats off to you. Such a shame that I won’t get to witness that specific brand of yours anymore, but the fact that I can rewatch The Wire for the literal thousandth time instead of getting laid or making something of my life will always make up for that. Always ready to enjoy what you grace us with next in your career, here’s to many more great years ahead for all of us together. And keep slayin’ them moms.
It was a pleasure to watch you do battle. You are missed.