It’s been hard because a lot of people are scared to unionize

They think it's going to ruin their career

Hello. A lot of ground to cover in today’s Hell World which is about saying goodbye to a beloved and kindhearted young man, saying fuck you to a terrible and blackhearted young man, and later on talking to organizers of an adult performers guild about the importance of unionizing and not having sex with Donald Trump. (Trigger warning for sexual assault on that part).

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“Growing up as a Tibetan, we always worshipped the earth, the ocean,” Tenzin Samdo told me. “Humans have a voice and we can scream out, animals can’t.” I was interviewing him about his endangered species-themed cocktail list at his bar ArtScience Culture Lab & Café in Cambridge earlier this summer, marveling at his ingenuity. Anyone who’s spent any time in the Boston restaurant world will know about his creativity and innovation behind the bar not to mention his downright decency, not always a given in this or any profession. Boston Magazine recently named him Bartender of the Year in 2018 among many other career accolades. Boston Common magazine featured one of his cocktails on the cover in July.

The dawn of the Trump administration prompted Samdo to start to think about ways, both big and small, to push back as I wrote at the time. Having grown up a Tibetan refugee in northern India, protesting—“screaming on the streets for human rights in Tibet” as he put it—marching on the White House and working for the cause of displaced people were already things he was accustomed to. But the administration’s disregard for the environment especially bothered him. “When they made it ok again to hunt elephants for trophies, it really pissed me off,” he said. “I’m a bartender—making drinks is what I do for a living, why not send a message through it?”

The results of his tinkering were the type of elaborate highly staged concoctions that can be easy to joke about — vapor cocktails and shit like that — but with Samdo you never got the sense it was a gimmick. It was an art form to him, it just so happened to be one that you could pour down your face.

“By consuming the cocktail, you’re destroying the art, but you’re left with the memory,” he’s said. “It’s a reminder that life isn’t permanent, but it can be beautiful.”

In October Tenzin shared a personal message to his Facebook page, the last he’s posted since then. He’d been suffering from serious stomach pain for a long time but he kept putting off getting it looked at.

“I kept pushing back saying I will go tomorrow, and the next day the same thing I said the day before I’ll go tomorrow. Last Tuesday the pain was unbearable, it kept me up all night and I checked myself in ER and they kept me here since to undergo every test they’ve possible to figure out exactly what is going on. I have yet to know the full result but as far as i know now is that they have found a big tumor in my liver. I had biopsy done yesterday which I have to wait a couple of days for the result. With this said, I wanted to ask all of you for prayers and lesson I’ve learned not to wait until the last minute. If your instinct tells you something is wrong please go check up right away. Alcohol is one of the major factor to most of the liver problems but I’ve been sober for a very long time. In my case it is because of the genetic liver conditions. I will be undergoing more treatments and surgeries in coming days. If that creates any inconvenience I am going to apologize now. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by many strong supports. They’ve already been very amazing this week already and I’m very grateful. Thank you.”

Later this month the bar will be hosting a celebration of his life and legacy. He’s still with us but a GoFundMe recently set up to raise money to support his eight year old son seems to suggest things have taken a turn for the worse. Please consider donating what you can.


There are good people in the world and there are bad people in the world and here’s some of the latter. Yesterday two separate marches happened to coincide in Washington D.C., the Indigenous Peoples March and the March for Life, the second of which you have probably heard about through the amazingly stupid subplot of Ben Shapiro pontificating on the ethics of aborting baby Hitler in between reading podcast ads for toothbrushes live on stage.

At one point a gang of MAGA students from various Catholic high schools, likely there on field trips for the patriarchy march, swarmed a group of Native Americans and the results went about like you would expect. Please join me in thinking very normal and not at all violent thoughts about what should happen to these kids in the videos from these tweets below.

Talia@2020fightThis MAGA loser gleefully bothering a Native American protestor at the Indigenous Peoples March. https://t.co/jIb5K68vIs
Lulu Says@lulu_says2@2020fight I dgaf if they are minors. They need to be identified. What school are they from? Who was chaperoning them? This is one of the most horrific displays of ignorance, racism & disrespect. My god. I feel sick. https://t.co/oUsiVY5pNA

I could think of a few more infuriating things if I had to but a group of future Notre Dame fans in MAGA hats chanting build the wall at indigenous people in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial is very high on the list. Some of the students appear to be wearing shirts from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky and I don’t know anything about that school but here’s what they say about their mission on their website:

We foster an environment of educational excellence and equip young men with a set of spiritual and moral values to become strong Christian leaders and models of our Catholic faith. We cultivate self-confidence and integrity to energize students to meet the demands of higher education, personal vocations and the challenges of life. We encourage respect for others and service to the community. Our goal is that our students will be inspired to continuously grow in their Catholic faith, strive for physical and mental well-being, and embrace academic and personal excellence.

Elahe Izadi@ElaheIzadiIndian Country Today has details on the elder in that viral video. His name is Nathan Phillips, a Vietnam veteran who holds a regular ceremony for Native American veterans buried at Arlington National Cemetery. https://t.co/hpx8YUUqLu

Not far from there around the same time on Friday a group of furloughed government employees lined up around the block to be able to eat.

Jared Holt@jaredlholtThere's a food line for furloughed federal workers in DC that currently stretches around the side of this building.
Classic Movies@ClassicMP@jaredlholt The Breadline, part of the @FDRLibrary Memorial in DC. Only trump could give it new life...

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“I was traumatized for five days after watching that video,” Alana Evans told me this week. “I cried for her repeatedly. I’ve never even cried from some of my own scenes.”

The veteran adult actress was recounting a viewing of footage in which her friend and fellow performer Nikki Benz alleges she was sexually assaulted and violated on the set of a 2016 shoot with the popular industry imprint Brazzers.

“She was actually brutalized on the Brazzers set. I use those words with complete faith behind them because I’ve seen the footage. She walked away from that set saying she felt she had been raped. A lot of people didn’t understand how a porn star can make those kinds of claims.”

Evans had been brought in to review the scene with others in the industry in her capacity as a union leader after Benz filed a lawsuit against Brazzers, its owner MindGeek, and the performers in question Tony T. and Ramon Nomar.

Police later declined to press charges.

Not to be too cliché but life can still be beautiful

I wanted to show people I was still me but also show myself I was still me

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I don’t know if I’m supposed to start this one with the falling off the roof or the feeling trapped inside of the magnetic coffin. One is my story and one is someone else’s and one certainly has a more drastic denouement but comparing them isn’t the point. It is but it isn’t.

I came across Dain Dillingham a fine writer and an even finer young man the other day when I was crying on Twitter like I often do about my injuries. I had been inside the MRI machine that day and it is so bad I can’t explain how bad it is to be in there for me. Some people say it is soothing and they fall asleep in there but some people are fucking psychopaths so who’s to say what’s right. For me it doesn’t get much worse at least it hasn’t yet. You’re shoved into the space oven and you cannot move and the ceiling is on your face and the walls are pushing in against your arms and then you listen to the worst ambient drum and bass concert you’ve ever been to for a half hour. And this is best case scenario. Do you know how hard it is to even get the insurance company to let them turn the MRI on for you they’re like your dad with the heat when you were growing up. Turn that down we’re not made of money. They are though. Not your dad the insurance companies. Maybe your dad is too in which case may I have some of the money?

Dain replied to my tweet as other people did with stories of being in the MRI and his was obviously let’s say more notable than mine to be fair because everyone has their things right.

Dain Carter@OnALighter_NoteFirst MRI after being paralyzed from the chest down they hand me a buzzer and say "press this if something feels wrong" & then I have to tell them "yo my HANDS DON'T WORK" so they paused, thought and said, "just yell and we should be able to hear you". Man what

luke o'neil@lukeoneil47

Getting an MRI today I fucking love it! I love thinking about being in the space coffin listening to discarded Death Grips beats for 30 minutes silently and still.

Ah.

Dain and I chatted and he seemed funny so I went to read some of his stories he posted to Medium and the weirdest thing I’ve ever done in my life happened next I found myself reading someone else’s stories on Medium. Here’s one I liked.

“Often when I meet new people and tell them the story of how I got here, after the condolences and ‘I’m so sorry’s’ the question that usually comes is ‘will you walk again?’” he wrote. “And I think I understand why that is. Most people view walking as the most important thing. The thing you think ‘I couldn’t live without.’”

People want Dain to get better sometimes he thinks because they want to know that they might be able to get better someday were it to happen to them which of course it won’t but just in case right. It’s like how when someone dies you ask how they died and the person tells you and you go oh ok that could never happen to me I’m not going to die from that I’m good for now.

“So I understand now that people want to know if I’ll walk again in hopes of reminding, or perhaps assuring themselves, that broken things can be fixed again.” he wrote.

I talked to Dain on the phone from Seattle where he lives now about the injury he suffered and how he’s made his way back to writing and I don’t want to say it was inspiring because he doesn’t always like that sort of framing of people with disabilities but I will say I really genuinely enjoyed our conversation and I’m not sure I can remember the last time that happened to me. Hopefully this will be the last time on Hell World I enjoy talking to someone because I don’t want to lose my edge.

You tweeted at me the other day and we chatted a little bit in the DMs and then I went to your Medium and read some of your stuff and I really liked it. I started to think like I told you how I’m always whining about my injuries and here’s a guy who has gone through something a lot more serious and I felt like I should shut the fuck up.

The one thing I try to tell people usually off the bat is, well, ok, first off, here’s what I went through: Five and half years ago in the summer of 2013 I had an accidental fall. I was celebrating my birthday with some friends. We were on an apartment rooftop hanging out late at night. I took a step backwards not realizing where I was at and I fell about ten feet straight onto my neck. I shattered my c5 vertebrae and I was paralyzed from the neck down immediately. My brother and friends were able to call 911 and I was real close to one of the best spinal cord hospitals here in Seattle. I was really fortunate to get there within minutes and I was in surgery by the next morning. It was my 28th birthday. Needless to say it was a big change hearing the doctors say you’re paralyzed from the chest down. Back then I wasn’t even strong enough to lift my arms.

Usually what I tell people is that my experience is toward the extreme end of trauma and health in general but when I write about myself I don’t ever want anybody else to feel like what they’re going through is minimized because of mine. We all have our hurdles. You could look at yourself and be like I can still walk I just have a bad back but a bad back can still be a huge hurtle for a lot of things.

Man did you always have such a generous spirit? Were you always like this or were you an asshole when you were younger be honest?

Haha, no I think I was pretty generous. I was talking to some friends about this the other day, some other people from the Midwest. I don’t know if some of it comes from a type of Midwest stoicism approach to life. You just grow up taking things as they come and have a keep-plugging-away mentality. I credit a lot to growing up with my mom, a single mom who raised my brother and I. My dad was in and out of our life, and he passed away pretty young from cancer. He had struggled with drugs on and off. I think him dying young actually was my first kind of trauma. Dealing with that and having a mom who was always honest with me about his struggles we would have open conversations around mental health. She’s had depression in her family, we’ve had drug addiction and alcoholism in our family. She was somebody that was always like very honest about the hard and tough things of life but was also this person that was like life can still be good. Not to be too cliché but life can still be beautiful. Nobody wants to have to learn from the hard shit but it’s just part of it. The thing in our family is it just is what it is and you kind of keep moving.

What did your mom do?

My mom spent almost thirty years of her life counseling sexual assault survivors. Her work in general revolved around a lot of trauma and processing that. I think growing up being around that and knowing what her work was and seeing her doing that helped. She did a lot implementing education in our schools for sexual harassment. I think I just grew up around trauma. I have thought at times that this happening to me, in a lot of ways, I think I was prepared for it, however unknowingly. I was maybe braced against it better than some other people would be. 

You were an athlete and getting used to not having access to that part of yourself anymore was particularly difficult of course.

It was hard. I was an all-state athlete in high school in Kansas and I played basketball in college. Before my injury I was working as a winemaker. My older brother was working out here in the wine industry and got me a job in it. I was somebody who used my body every day so to suddenly have that kind of taken away from me was hard for a lot of reasons. Obviously the sheer physicality of it. Also your identity gets wrapped up in a lot of those things. You try to figure out who you are after a lot of this other stuff gets taken away.

What happened to your back?

I think just years of lifting weights weird caught up with but whatever I feel guilty even bringing that up.

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