Adam, a 26-year-old poet in training at the famous Iowa Writers' Workshop

Vinny, a young philosopher and humorist

Pauly D, a DJ and GTL-er

Snooki, a likeable underdog figure

The Situation, a lover of women

Ronnie & Sammi, a couple

JWOWW, a close companion of Snooki


United States of America, August 2010


Adam finds himself, to his surprise, addicted to the MTV "reality" television show Jersey Shore. Scampering to your computer screen—in broad daylight, in twilight, in midnight—he vies, acrobatically, for your attention...

for Vinny, Pauly, Jenni, Ronnie, Sam, Mike, Angelina, and Nicole


I will be writing about my personal relationship with the characters on Jersey Shore.

I am writing about these characters because I like them, and because they remain human in spite or maybe even because of their participating in late capitalism.

In this sense Jersey Shore is the forefront of the anti-capitalist struggle.

This is to say, they are the forefront of the struggle in me. Because they infect me with the spirit of capital, which I grew up on, which feels like a good addiction. I am interested in what these characters do to my body.

Some Definitions Of Capital

To accumulate and hold on to. Finance capital; cultural capital.

The characters on Jersey Shore are examples of people infected by capital.

I, and you, and me; we are all infected by capital.


Vinny reminds me of my student Ruben. I like him. They both do this thing with their eyebrows.


I am composed of all the hair products I've ever used,
of the hair products I remember.

It is my childhood I remember, when I see you.

You hide in the corners of shelves;
you bring me back to myself.

When I am lost, I become rooted in you,

Pert Plus Shampoo.

And when I watch television, I am even more rooted.

I grew up on you. You remind me that I am human.

Jersey Shore makes me feel, in my chest and in my body, like I am human.

Product 2

What happens when, as people, we identify with (have our identity made up by) products?

If they are commodities, manufactured by large corporations, and if we do not know the labor practices of these corporations (the materials they use, how they secure them, what kinds of wages and benefits their workers receive), if we do not understand them...

then our identity is as much theirs as it is ours.

Then again, I can't say that Pauly isn't Pauly.

Cause even with your silly name,
(made by MTV, it is, your name!)
and your desire to look mas-cu-lain,
(those muscles and hookups all over your brain!)
and your sameness to others (again & again!)

I now know you, and know that you are different,

more than even your product you are different.

Because you sigh and desire to be good like the others,

in your particular way you sigh and give way to the others.

You are like a boy.

In your hair we find the answer to you,

but if we ask ourselves we know it's not the hair that makes it you

it's something single that you do.

It's the who that Pauly learns
and can't undo.

But Pauly, D.ear,

they have you!! through and through.

(Feel free to include that me inside of you.)

Because even with me, there's my Klean Kanteen

(which when representing me, my students drew)

that I carry and advertise for unintentionally,

like you I carry around commodities

and am no better.

Lest you think I am better than you,

I am no better.


I am in love with Snooki.

She is loud; unafraid; the underdog; and I am a sucker for the Snooki in any leftist or capitalist woman.

I want to "fix" her, to reach in and grab the capital up out of her.

But I also want her to take advantage of me when she is drunk,

to lay in beds with dozy drinks
and bend each other over sinks.

That is the relation I have with capital.

We take turns: I wield
and am wielded,

and I know that I am sick!

I keep coming back to capital, because it is nice

to hold on to things.

Because we die, and I want to hold on to things.

Snooki 2

I want to hold on to Snooki; in my bed I lay thinking of her and how I can conspire the universe to deliver us together.

I want to buy things for her
to be bossed by her

doted by her

and hire a maid together in our fancy home.

I want to eat ice cream and never have to worry.

I like to drink,
maybe I will drink again.

I am a lion in my loins, Snooki,

You make me not care that I am a poet. This is a fantasy,

something I barely write,

and yet it is true that you enter my body in this way, momentarily,

that you make me want to drink and buy and spend

all day with you. Tho

surely, in Iowa,

I pass you everyday and we do not even see each other.

You are everywhere,

in the tans and sunglasses and makeup we buy

(in the guy I am, and the making me buy)


You are everywhere and I am with you.

Snooki 3

I am interested in the way you infect me,

in the way you connect with something I am fighting deep within me.

O it is indirect, my love,
but we are destroying our world, it is true.

MTV is destroying our world,

but only as an emanation of capital.

MTV is a juggernaut of capital,

one of many juggernauts...

Do not confuse the vessel with the disease!

Though MTV produces culture,

destroys culture (takes up market space, pushing out other cultures),

produces young people

and destroys them.

It does not destroy people,

only the people within people,

replacing it with its own version of people.

Is this still people?

Of course it is still people!

It is the creation of new people.


Here is a poem I wrote last spring. I did not know the show, yet; I did not know the people. I was very judgmental!

it was a perfect coup
nothing happened
the girl on Jersey Shore was drunk and eating ham
the artists were commenting on her on facebook
we were having fun

the world changes in a different oven

he's left the page

did you hear the page left him?

so a new idea walks into the room

"I feel as an activist I need to know how these systems work, what their justifications are, but then I find myself using their language"

what if there is another infection

the horizon landed burnt

"I like it because it's almost slipped into my drink, as opposed to being slapped across my face like some ideology"

"but it's more like ideology to be slipped into your drink"

today we bombed homes


Haters 2

Don't hate the player, hate the game!

(I hate the game; I love you Pauly)

You do you, I do me.

(I will do me; I will do me...)

It's unrealistic to make things change...

The Situation

Many people blame Jersey Shore for capitalism,

that people have turned material into people.

They protest (too much!):

Where did culture go? O woe is me!! This junk

is terrible.

The implication is that they, standing on the outside, are better than these fools on Jersey Shore

but I say to you cultured people: these fools are better friends to me

than you will ever be.

I wear their bare feet in the junk
and know that there is love & stuff
inside our spider sac

of capital...

It is a warm and glowing womb — my childhood —

they dance & fistpump all night recreating it.

Surely these are our cultural producers,
and we should thank them

for being entirely constituted by capital,

for, Neo-like, taking it on

& still remaining human.

Mike, are you not the situation

of our own egoistic hopes, and fears

and logic?

You try accumulating girls

like your high employers pile up capital,

a capital which is based and created on you

and creates you. You produce new

human men in turn. You are an avatar

of masculinity! The gym, the tan, the laundry

of my radical, unsentimental dreams:

Mike — I enter you
and fray upon your seams.

When you break into pieces
(all pixelated in stock quotes and in prices)

like Mr. Anderson,

missing me in one place, you find me in another.

How can you be sure that I am not capital?

That this voice, as it seeks to intercede

&, through its rhythms, enter & destroy you

is not a new frontier of capital?

And in English, too!

Surely these words are a form of capital.

Post In Which The Author Dances

Okay, time for me to dance

in my generation's way to do:

when optimism rears its legs

I don't think I am far from you.

Reader, when you start a piece about something,

it always turns to something else.

I believe, you and me, we have resistance in us,

that being hosts to the virus

has made us unimaginably strong...

(we do not realize it, but we are strong
and imaginative...)

Our antibodies are our bodies.

We use them in love,

in dancing, and in food,

to stand in front of tanks and hotel lobbies.

Surely, our bodies know what is happening.

Post In Which The Author Dances 2

Last night, I discussed with friends their friends who had left the earth through suicide, who had gone back to it...

and even this morning I awoke to discover someone I knew had died of cancer.

Megan Dirks is resting in heaven now.
on Friday · Comment · Like

The Situation 2

Our time is hard to live & hope in.

Capitalism takes our surplus life
and turns it into itself.

We could show people, not that capitalism is inhuman

but that it creates new humans.

We are these new humans,

our culture spreads and pushes others out,

& even this is not exempt from it (though I attempt to make it different, it is not different)

if you cannot trust life
it will not be different.

I Try And Tell You What This Means To Me

We stick our penises in vaginas
and our vaginas on top of penises

and we wear out the world, it is true.

We renew each other;
rubbing all over each other

we find ourselves in each other.

These are silly, rubby things we do!
and together it is fun to sit and reflect upon it;

tho sometimes I admit I am despairing.

I Try And Tell You What This Means To Me 2

It is meaningful to remember what it was like to be in you,

among you,

to spend my time not thinking of what lay beyond you.

You made me laugh and recognize

my spirit...

that I am of my time, and like it.

Like you, I want things to hold on to;

to sit around the table holding chairs;

serving spaghetti;

filling my eyes with the air before tears...

To flush, and find my face full

of tears?

It is meaningful to remember us as a kind of family.

Though we had no idea where our tomatoes were from,

we were a kind of family.


The more I watch these people,

the more I respect them,

and the more I can't imagine

doing anything wrong with them.

I can't imagine

that we are on this earth together!

It is good

being on an earth.

I Try And Tell You What This Means To Me 3

I wonder why I am writing this!

It would only matter
if it connected to what you felt of you,

if you were having fun watching the show!

and also felt some sadness.

If you were alive, and on the earth,

and felt this occasional sadness.

I do not think I am exclusive to my time!

You, who watch the show, and find this boring,

(and you are right, to find this boring...)

you are who I am learning from, and would have read this.

(I think this guy is pretty dumb

who speaks and sighs and holds his tongue.

He should learn to go out
every once in awhile!

To go out, and fold
his fun.

What do I want

who live on this earth

just once!

I Try And Tell You What This Means To Me 4

It is going to be so hard to move past capitalism!!

We will lose our childhood.

The Break Up

world I have to break up with you now world

extractive economy I have to break up with you

wars of two I keep on do

the food I use to fuel my flu

it's over now, I've had my fill of me & u

I'm tired of writing emails to you

I'm addicted to our flowers

I am stuck in infrastructure for hours

I'll miss you

we'll die soon

it's hard to say goodbye to you

I feel I shared my childhood with you

my child with you

we fight & want to stay in you

the truth is I am sad

& want to be hold onto, too

Max Weber Enters The Ring (Having A Goat In The Fight)

"...And the same is true of the most fateful force in our modern life, capitalism. The impulse to acquisition, pursuit of gain, of money, of the greatest possible amount of money, has in itself nothing to do with capitalism. This impulse exists and has existed among waiters, physicians, coachmen, artists, prostitutes, dishonest officials, soldiers, nobles, crusaders, gamblers, and beggars. One may say that it has been common to all sorts and conditions of men at all times and in all countries of the earth, wherever the objective possibility of it is or has been given. It should be taught in the kindergarten of cultural history that this naive idea of capitalism must be given up once and for all. Unlimited greed for gain is not in the least identical with capitalism, and is still less its spirit. Capitalism may even be identical with the restraint, or at least a rational tempering, of this irrational impulse. But capitalism is identical with the pursuit of profit, and forever renewed profit, by means of continuous, rational, capitalistic order of society, an individual capitalistic enterprise which did not take advantage of its opportunities for profit-making would be doomed to extinction."

(Max Weber, Introduction to The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism)

Writing, too, becomes almost compulsive,

like tending tiny rows

of crops, or children.

Max 2000: Is it your goal to plant a compulsive kindness in this?

Me: I am not sure I have any goal.

Max 2000: being dead and all?

Max 1900 said that the spirit of capitalism was the Protestant work ethic.

I say now: the spirit of capitalism is codependence.

This is what the characters of Jersey Shore infect me with;

not the desire to rationally turn profit and get ahead of others

(to work hard in this life, and prove myself already among the chosen ahead of others)

but to magically, as if not working,

get a private place for myself created by others

(an air-conditioned Wonderland of ice cream...)

an air-conditioned Smush Room of ice cream.

Max's Recipe For Social Change 2000

1. Take Protestant Work Ethic (Spirit of Capitalism 1.0); Invert/Convert to Mutual Aid and Free Association

2. Take Codependence (Spirit of Capitalism 2.0); Acknowledge; Celebrate (until capital becomes a kind of love in procrastination)

3. Cultivate Ability To Exist In Contradiction

Max 2000: But I am a historian! You vision into me, when I can only see backwards...

What, then, Max, do you read in our times?

Max 2000:
I like Snooki; I like the sounds she makes when frustrated...

Shores, Crabs, and Spirit (in seven movements)


"The shore is the site of a metaphysical encounter with distance; that location in which one comes face to face with the Absolute, or Otherness; a symbol, in art and literature, of our dreams, and of our limits..."

But a shore is also a particular place, with a specific ecological history, both separate from and including us humans. The ocean itself is not endless;

Slowly its action now changes as a result of us.

There are plants, and animals, and jellyfish

in the ocean,

and they are not endless.

If I had gills enough to breathe I might know them;

not knowing them, I stand next to them.

If we had gills we might remember them

and stand next to them.


The shore is not a symbol. It is not a show. Similarly

Shows are not symbols.


Walk along the shallows;

here and there with the moon

you may find a hermit crab, child.

Crabs move sideways

and are not symbols; they are shows

with their diets!

(I hide in my home made by capitalism, watching Discovery, and pride myself on my diet...)

We are grossly and dumbly connected, crab.

You hide in the spirit of capitalism.


I am so codependent! Though, now

I (sadly) place "independent" on my tax forms

and voter registration.

I pick up my shells from other places

scuttling along this shiny surface of the tide...

I ride the wave of culture!

I am a Silver Surfer of culture,

a Keanu-Reeves-in-Point-Break-of-culture.

I hide and am a Basho or Gutei of culture,

waiting for you to come

and raise your finger.

I learn from you, and depend on you;

waiting for the magic that will release us back into each other.

I give you the finger.


To find the size of home that fits?

A crab is not a symbol

And The Shore makes me love, deep inside.

Even now, we have learned to love

Deep inside of capital.

Scuttling to each new frontier as they rise and shift,

Dutifully abandoning our homes and becoming crabs and travelers

In these luxurious tidal pools of capital.


I water my brain with money,

I eat crabs with the money I earn from my brain.

O no! My brain

Is made of capital.


Jersey Shore,

Snooki and Vinny,

your specificity takes me back into love.

Spirit of Capitalism 3

Max 2000:

The spirit of capitalism is childhood.

Capitalism attempts to teach us how to remember, and hold on to childhood.

In the historically particular conditions it has created

it has created new people, more full than ever of their childhood.


We are alienated from the means of this production.


Here are some native species of New Jersey coastal grasses.

                                                       (Spartina Patens)

                                                  (Spartina Alterniflora)

The Spirit Of Capitalism 4

Perhaps the opposite of capitalism is dying.

If the opposite of capitalism is dying,

then maybe understanding death will help us move past capitalism.

How do we understand death?

Family 2

The show is, ultimately, about family.

In families, you produce and raise children.

Family is the production of childhood.

"That's How The Shore Goes" (Season 1, Episode 9)

Lewis Hyde:

"The desire to consume is a kind of lust. We long to have the world flow through us like air or food. We are thirsty and hungry for something that can only be carried inside bodies. But consumer goods merely bait this lust, they do not satisfy it. The consumer of commodities is invited to a meal without passion, a consumption that leads to neither satiation nor fire. He is a stranger seduced into feeding on the drippings of someone else's capital without benefit of its inner nourishment, and he is hungry at the end of the meal, depressed and weary as we all feel when lust has dragged us from the house and led us to nothing."

It occurs to me that this is my relationship with Jersey Shore;

that I have given them back nothing, and feel weary.

(We take everything from our celebrities, and make them weary.)

I thirst and hunger and long
to have the world flow through me;

I long to have Snooki and Mike
flow through me?

(They return me back to myself, but I worry about how they are doing.)

For my blood was cola. / For my authority was small

involuntary muscles / in my face.

"I remember the time I went to my first rare-book fair and saw how the first editions of Thoreau and Whitman and Crane had been carefully packaged in heat-shrunk plastic with the price tags on the inside. Somehow the simple addition of air-tight plastic bags had transformed the books from vehicles of liveliness into commodities, like bread made with chemicals to keep it from perishing. In commodity exchange it's as if the buyer and the seller were both in plastic bags; there's none of the contact of a gift exchange. There is neither motion nor emotion because the whole point is to keep the balance, to make sure the exchange itself doesn't consume anything or involve one person with another. Consumer goods are consumed by their owners, not by their exchange."

I am trying to keep my relationship
with plastic bags moving;

every day I feel Jersey Shore in the juiced muscles of my face.

I am a juiced Guido of the face!, Snooki

as I try to keep my rare exchange with you moving.

Sometimes I am mad at the MTV of you,
dragging me from the house to lead me to


But it is myself I quibble at. Endlessly needing...


...or in separation. I felt it
in the garden full

of cans:

Warhol said it, too, as a garden of cans.

Somewhere in this blog I broke
my character, tried to keep

it moving.


I want to keep culture moving! A culture

of the wind...

My friend River, who I work with on a farm (and who said, when I asked a question about picking the green beans, "it would be a crime to overthink it!"), said he was home-schooled and, as a result, avoided a lot of mainstream culture, but I am not like that.

I feel the Main Stream flow through me;

deltas and deltas flowing and buoying up out of me,

trying and trying to be translated
into song.


The first season of Jersey Shore is over
and has been over for awhile.

I went out over the summer
(which has been over for awhile)

with my sister; we watched Jersey Shore before we went out
into the wind and the blustery drinks of our faces.

Family 3 (Faces)

The second one to the right is my sister, Kate.

(I am at the back, making a face with my whole body...)

Snooki 4

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[This user is an administrator] drgarnett
You've got to appreciate the irony of a young woman whose code is "keeping it real" while sporting an overcooked fake tan, Bump-Its, and whatever she has stuffed into her bra to push her bosom up.

You've got to appreciate!

that keeping it real within this context

is difficult, and that we and Snooki and MTV

have charged her with it.

She must work overtime to stay real,

can only be real by withstanding and entering the unrealness of her production,

by continuing to produce herself as unreal,
but with differences.

She has been able to ride the wave of culture this long
by virtue of her keeping this real,

though it becomes harder and harder to stay atop it.

Like capital she must move quickly
to find new markets, and dam them up

with spirit. She must move as quickly

as love, passing like a gift

from spirit to spirit.

I Try And Tell You What This Means To Me 5

For I felt nothing,
which was cool,

totally cool with me.


For I had some work done
on my face.

But we don't feel nothing.

"Whatever" — I feel almost everything!

The muscles in my face
connect me to almost everything,

Which is cool.

We return to each other
through the juiced sodas in our faces.


Pert Plus Shampoo
and a lack of soda:

my heart was full of holes
and skipped beats,

and my childhood meant I could not have soda

except Caffeine Free Coke.


If they are commodities, manufactured by large corporations, and if we do not know the labor practices of these corporations (the materials they use, how they secure them, what kinds of wages and benefits their workers receive), if we do not understand them...

then our identity is as much theirs as it is ours.


Donna Vivino was used by
and gained capital from

Coke for this commercial in 1983.

She was born less than an hour's ride from the New Jersey coastline...


Reader, you have come along and traced this,

and it is time to tell me what it means.


"A soothing song, usually sung to children before they go to sleep, with the intention of speeding that process."

Lullaby 2

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are

Lullaby 3 (alarm clock)

So we leave our mother's tummies
So we fly our planes with money
So we are our neighbor's brothers
So we all are mothers, homie

"My badge afloat in waves" (Or, The End?)

If I have been a Keanu-Reeves-in-Point-Break of Culture,

I guess that makes Snooki Patrick Swayze (whose name, in the movie, is Bodhi: short for bodhisattva, for his spiritual connection to the waves).

We have arrived at the shore, reader. Vaya con Dios.

Point Break End Sequence Scene
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