No, my being homeless is not about what precious third parties think about my being homeless

No, I  will not put myself in my parents’ shoes and try to imagine how worried they are about my sleeping at rest areas. That’s irrelevant. They aren’t the ones living like that; I am. Frankly their feelings don’t fucking matter. I’m trying to keep myself as safe and healthy as possible as inexpensively as possible. Catering to the feels of retired yuppies is not on the agenda. Ain’t happenin’, cracka.

I’m not the one who tried to make it personal. Not in the past year or two, anyway. That’s the doing of Boomers who worry about my achievement and its reflection on them. I should be doing something with my intellect, they say. When I propose using my intellect to file a pro se police complaint against Joe Dirtbag, though, suddenly I’m scaring them. I’m not assertive enough, but asserting my right to ask Porky to crack down on fraud and white trash belligerence against me is super problematic. It would upset people. As does my homelessness, which Joe Dirtbag provoked. I still think he was on the verge if battering me the day I walked out on him and the Family Shrew. It’s nothing I’d be too embarrassed to tell a cop. I’ll tell the Sheriff himself if he asks. I’ve never had an Oregon cop act like he’d throw me into a wall in a fit of inexplicable anger. The Man doesn’t treat me like that in Oregon, white boy. Blood may be thicker than water, but it has jack shit on 911. Jim Croce, pray for us. And for Glen Campbell, I guess.

That, you see, is a bridge too far in worrying about my welfare. Helping me stand up to a relative so predatory that I often consider highway rest areas a refuge from him would require too much moral courage. If others want to be moral cowards before the guy who drove me into warm homelessness, that’s their problem. If they insist that I share their moral cowardice no matter what he does to me, that’s my problem, and I’ll make it a police problem the moment I feel the need for a cop. Bitches get snitches, dawg.

That’s what a self-confident Millennial generation looks like. Of course the Boomers don’t want that. Scamming adults who act like adults is a pain in the ass. They’ve purposely cultivated us to be a more compliant market for their cons.

Oh , yeah, I also get to be homeless in California, my first home state, since my parents offered to cosign on an apartment for me only in Oregon, so that the relative I’d already accused of extreme emotional abuse and erratic behavior could more readily act in loco parentis for me. As PJ O’Rourke’s slow friend from Anacostia told the cops with the warrant out for his arrest, “I lives here. Can I come in?” When I ask this of the California state government, the answer is yes.

Trying to explain this shit to current or diaspora Palo Altans who would rather make homelessness go away by not thinking about it can be excruciating. Ramos and Cicinelli I can avoid easily enough. I know where to find cops who don’t freak out over the homeless should I have a use for one. Dion Joseph might find me TOO normal. My trouble is with the civilian affluent. They’re the ones who turn Maslow’s hierarchy of needs upside down for my edification. Why should I have to explain to psychologists and psychiatrists that a self-actualized career is higher on the pyramid than not a not totally chaotic shelter arrangement and a piece of ass now and then? If they reserved their psychology for people who need some damn psychology, they might not be so worried about the very desultory underachievement of their failspawn. Inpatient care for Robert Dziekanski and Kajieme Powell must not be as lucrative. They certainly aren’t around to, shall we say, communicate the new life it created for them.

It would be gauche of me to ask one of my affluent to buy me a cheap house in some ass end of my state. But we homeless get by by being gauche. My homeless vet buddy straight-up asks strangers for money. I pull deposit bottles out of trash cans, as straight up as the bin design will allow. Depending on how fed up I become with Kaiser, I may start flying my own sign about Obamacare and my findom relationship with it. With more money to spare, one can afford to be more precious and proper about filthy petty lucre.

I’m pretty sure I know people who wish the homeless were all crazy or retarded enough for Dion Joseph. That way they wouldn’t have to listen to the lucid homeless articulate the articulable. Backsass is a bitch, but Backsass bitch many of my fellow Americans richly deserve to be. They’ve been asking for it, and when I’m annoyed with this shit as I am now, my word is my bond that they will get some around here.

Chaka Can Chaka Can

Yeah, that line again. It has to have reached third-order plagiarism by now. You’ll be begging me to pigsploit Kwesi Millington anew if I keep this shit up. All night long, we would sing that stupid song. Imagine my surprise when I learned that our lifestyle involved Adderall. Imagine your surprise when you saw another unnecessary Steely Dan meme standing there.

Are you with me?

California has crapified the hell out of its bottle bill in a way that Oregon absolutely has not. Upstate New York doesn’t rival Oregon for bottle service, but it, too, is a huge improvement over California. New York City may be more hostile to bottle rats than Upstate; I haven’t looked into it, but I’d find it telling if it’s harder for the vulnerable population most in need of deposit money to get paid than it is for the affluent in the suburbs. For that matter, I’ve never been east of Jamaica, so as much as I’ve tittered about the Guyland in these pages, I have no idea what the bottle redemption regime is like in the sweet home of Joey Buttafuoco. (How is that motherfucker not a Mike Judge character? How in hell is he for real?)

Brender and Eddie may not have had it already, but I’ve had it with the shitty customer service I keep finding at California bottle redemption centers. These places suck ass without reverse vending machines. BottleDrop processes probably 95% of its cans through RVM’s (I rarely see much hand-counting there), and every grocery store I can recall visiting in Upstate New York in the past year or two has had RVM’s in good working condition. The engineering and design of these machines has improved dramatically in the past few years; they’re now much faster, more reliable, and more versatile. Yet California, a state with one of the three most comprehensive bottle bills in the country, one where taxi service has been most aggressively “disrupted” by Uber on behalf of the kinds of people who also need internet-mediated grocery and restaurant delivery services, has very few RVM’s. In many cities, the only redemption centers I can find are soulcrushingly ugly and unpleasant facilities that amount to a shabby trailer and some dumpsters in the middle of an unshaded parking lot.

These dumps are far worse than the closest equivalents I’ve found in New York. My parents and I do business with some family-run redemption centers without RVM’s. These places aren’t exactly nice, they can be staffed by strange rangers, and they’re as proximal as anything else to all the annoying bullshit that the Adirondacks have to offer, but they don’t make you feel like you’re gonna die. In California, the industry standard seems to be to spend half an hour or more roasting on the tarmac in Redding, surrounded by cold homeless who wish they were colder for a change, waiting for a lecture from a dentally and dermatologically challenged wonder on the differences between aluminum and “biometal.” It’s unpleasant. It’s degrading. It feels unreasonably dangerous for a state-mandated program not under the auspices of the prison system. The bums aren’t what’s wrong with it. In Oregon, bums use the machines at BottleDrop and Walmart all the time. The difference is that no one is forced to wait around in what feels like an outpatient prison yard for no telling how long and then fill out duplicate paperwork for Biometal Man. No one is ever asked for ID at BottleDrop. What the hell would anyone on staff do with it? If the bottle count hits 349 or 350, the RVM stops for a few seconds and spits out a receipt. Once the receipt has been taken, the machine goes back into service. Payouts are fully automated. You put the receipts under the scanner, push “Finished” when they’ve all been scanned, and cash money is spit out. I could be Saddam Hussein’s corpse, for all the ATM knows. It doesn’t care.

The California authorities care. At SiegelSuites, they do background checks because they care (TM). The principle is the same, and it’s a bad one.

Over the past year or two, I’ve become less and less willing to put up with ghetto chaos, rural squalor, slumlord abuses, and other shitty lifestyles that are inevitably impositions on the lives of bystanders. If I have options, I get away from the shit. I flee. When I look at the redemption centers I’ve used in Redding, Yreka, and Eureka, or at the RePlanet center on the ass border of Arden-Arcade and Del Paso Heights that I decided not to use because the parking lot was crowded to the verge of uselessness by a line that looked an hour long, I see businesses that rely on customers without options. These businesses are unethical. They deserve to fail.

I try to do what I can to keep them from succeeding. Sometimes they’re easy to boycott because, as Yogi Berra might have said, they’re so popular, no one goes there anymore. In other cases, boycotting them can cause some hardship, but it’s a hardship that is offset by not having the hardship of doing business with shitheads in slums. Rampant slumlording is one reason why I’m homeless. Police in four states have treated me better at rest areas where I’ve slept than my last landlords did at my own apartment building. I’ve sometimes had better neighbors at rest areas than I have at Crossland properties. This is especially true in Rancho Cordova. As I’ve been reminded, to my annoyance, I live by the light rail station in Rancho. So did my next-door neighbor when he tried to start a street fight in front of me with a guy he accused of selling meth to his kid sister. Two or three places where I’ve stayed or thought about staying in South Lake Tahoe have had police activity on account of assaults or homicides when I’ve been in the area. One of these incidents made the KCRA evening news out of Sacramento. Dude killed someone over a sour drug deal or some shit and got his skeevy ass in the news across a 150-mile broadcast radius if the Reno stations didn’t have something more salaciously violent to gawk at closer to home.

Rest areas and trailheads are usually too solidly middle-class for anything like that. South Lake is the poorie ghetto for the entire basin, and it attracts people from the valleys who are very sensibly trying to escape ghetto pathologies back home, aside from the minority who are trying to help the montagnards culturally appropriate shanking a motherfucker for stealing another motherfucker’s baby-mama and dissing his white, black, brown, Cantonese, and/or Cambodian ass. Victor Davis Hanson, where you at, cracka? The hordes are moving in on the high ground after all. Well, a few of them. South Midtown Sacramento isn’t nearly trashy enough for them, so they stay away, and the Capitol Mall has nice Chippies who, I assume, are less nice to brawling shitheads ballsy enough to wander in off #TheKay and start shit. Like Big Ears Teddy, the cactus and rose gardens shouldn’t have to see that, and they won’t. They don’t. As far as I can tell, anyway.

Being able to get away from unrelenting chaos and creepiness is a blessing. Far too many Americans are caught in Catch-22’s that make such an escape impossible. California and Nevada seem to have more than their fair share of these. Oregon seems to less than its fair share. Oregon certainly doesn’t have nearly as much of its state and business apparatus ordered to kicking the poor when they’re down. This is why it has BottleDrop instead of a bunch of sorry ghettosiders waiting around in a parking lot in the ass end of Arden for the single clerk posted out front to process their cans.

Refusing to participate in this bullshit and fleeing it is not just a service to oneself but also a mitzvah to one’s entire society. Complaints about young people spending too much on coffee and too little on rent are garbage. Starbucks doesn’t act like an agency of the Brezhnev Politburo; many American landlords do. The contrast in customer service and even fundamental morality could hardly be starker. Coffeehouses don’t depend on desperate customer bases with no alternatives. I keep forgetting that most of Starbucks’ customer base is stably housed, allowing it to easily brew its own coffee. If it treated its customers like shit and served them shit for drinks, it would lose business. 7-Eleven is less exposed to this free market, and it shows, mainly in customer service but also in hot dog quality.

Why the hell should we rent ratholes from slumlords if we can couchsurf with friends or relatives? Why should we pay nosy but negligent creeps under the terms of contracts that are onerous only for us, not for them, if we’re comfortable sleeping at rest areas instead? Competitive free markets are apparently bae as shit until it’s time to smear some young adults as childish layabouts for not rushing out to get places of their own under terms that contractually subordinate them to creepy shitheads. Once that’s on the agenda, free markets are an untenable, even scandalous privilege sparing Millennial whiners from their obligation to participate in rigged housing oligopolies enforced by networks of private informants and corporate dossiers on tenants.

If the customer base goes away, this creepy shit will stop. There’s much less of it in high-end housing because the landlords know that they’ll get badmouthed to hell and back by their aggrieved if they’re lucky enough not to get sued. They know that they’ll lose business if they don’t work to earn it. This means fixing infrastructure when it breaks, not stalking tenants, that kind of thing. At motels, a tenant can decline to renew his tenancy by the day or the week and run very little risk of being blacklisted. At a long-term apartment, it’s often impossible to breach a tenancy without retaliation, even if the tenant has articulable cause and legal counsel.

If unethical landlords can have it their way, this regime will get even more dystopian. Landlords and employers are already trying to link social media accounts to housing and personnel files for purposes of surveillance and social control. There are some very, very bad people in property management and HR.

The same dynamic enabling slumlords explains why Greyhound is traditionally such a shitty mess. Its problem is that it’s a common carrier of last resort and acts that way. Where competitors have shown up, as they have in a number of major markets, it has been pretty quick to stop screwing its customers over and treating them like shifty bums on parallel routes. Amtrak is also a common carrier of last resort in some markets, but it conceives of itself as being in competition with the airlines and with private motoring, so it’s better at keeping the abuses in check.

There are people who do not want bums to be able to make even a shabby partial living hustling cans. There are people who don’t want anyone to be able to get by without submitting to petty tyrants. Fuck them. They aren’t our masters. As Odafin Tutuola said, “Didn’t you hear? Lincoln freed the slaves.” (They enjoy whitesploiting the Upper East Side on SVU. The ghettoside killings may be more numerous, but they just aren’t as interesting.) I think I’ve finally figured out the RePlanet website and found some reverse vending machines in Placerville, by the way. I guess they keep the flatlanders away by installing the good stuff in the town Thomas Kinkade’s biographies always called “hardscrabble.”

There’s something else about California’s bottle bill that’s really weird, especially given how difficult it is to redeem cans in so much of the state. California has been reporting small net losses on its deposit program, while Oregon has been reporting net profits so high and consistent that a statute automatically doubling the deposit amount to ten cents effective next year has been triggered. California’s agricultural inspection stations (naked and jackin’ it at state lines away from San Diego) have caught drivers trying to sneak trucks full of deposit bottles into the state. The articles I’ve found were vague, but it sounds like the drivers were let off with a warning to use Scout’s Honor and not redeem cans from out of state. Yeah, that’ll work.

I don’t see how a scam like that could be made to work in the aboveboard market. The transportation and labor costs would be too high. I can, however, see it working through the exploitation of the mentally ill or the use of trafficked grunt labor. A mobbed-up state with extreme concentrations of poverty in large cities near the California state line like, oh, I dunno, Nevada, sounds up to the job.

Maybe. That’s still a shitload of fuel to get the cans into the promised land. Flat-out fraud is more believable. Just make up some numbers, no actual Chaka Can Chaka Can needed to ka-ching ka-ching. Don’t be too outraged, though: California uses its state prisoners for very similar purposes of local economic development. It’s like Gogol’s Dead Souls, except they’re alive.

I don’t just pay for my own Starbucks. I pay for the CHP’s Starbucks every time I renew my car registration. Why, of course, officer, I bought all these cans in California, not in Nevada, which is a quarter mile up the street.

There’s a dedicated bypass lane around the South Lake Tahoe agricultural inspection station, intended for locals and Tahoe layabouts, and I’ve hardly ever seen a driver not use it. California doesn’t get everything wrong.

Additional thoughts on last night’s coffeehouse bum fight

When that bum started his beef with me for mooching off Starbucks’ electricity to run my laptop, it was plain as day that his only real target was the faggy barista who was giving him the bum’s rush. I was his nearest available prop and nothing more. Having just seen the barista needlessly start a passive-aggressive confrontation with this bum and another one or two who also had not been bothering me, a confrontation that itself distracted me from the writing I was trying to do about shanda fur die bougim warm homeless (an absurdly meta undertaking given the circumstances), I was proud to serve as an instrument of God and his humble servant. We might more accurately describe what this bum was trying to do as self-service, but that doesn’t bother me, either. Who the fuck else was around to give him a hand up or a handout? Dude was on his own.

And props to him for talking back to that twee, insincere, self-righteous little twatwaffle. The bums had been behaving themselves when he got up in their faces. They were a bit of a mess physically, but they were perfectly civil and self-controlled. They weren’t yelling or getting in anyone’s way or strewing junk everywhere. What gear they had brought with them into the lobby they were conscientiously keeping in tidy piles close to their persons. I was the only other customer there, anyway, since business had pretty well tapered off for the evening, so there was hardly anyone to inconvenience by leaving crap everywhere. One fellow came and went from the sidewalk seating area out front every few minutes, carrying an old shirt, a roll of paper towels, and a bottle of Rain-X: probably a member of the mental health community, but not a troublesome one. Four or six of them appeared to be loosely together, some of them in both senses of the term. Nonetheless, they had their shit adequately together.

I know better than to expect the cold homeless to interact appropriately with the general population. This crowd wasn’t winning at life, but it behaved itself. Fuck, just look at all the sauced bruisers who run amok on #TheKay, like the Cambodian Ed Hardy scumbags from Elk Grove who hospitalized the Legion of Honor recipient for trying to stop the one meathead from battering his girlfriend on a public street. That crowd has stable housing, and it took one of the amateur train marshals to make even a hapless effort to secure the homeland against their violence.

That fey little faggot didn’t care. It would be nice if more of Sacramento’s middle class lived in a middle ground between Andrew Chan wannabes and Queer Eye for the Skid Row Guy, but this is the city that dropped a cool half a billion on a second-generation urban renewal baller palace while leaving several thousand of its utterly indigent citizens to their own devices in a tent Somalia infiltrating its warehouse district. I don’t come here for the cultural scene; I come here for the tree scene, which is bangin’ as fuck, and in the not entirely foolish hope that maybe SMUD will hire me as a utility arborist in the coming months or years. Make that the cultural management scene, I guess. The olive trees at the rest area by SMF look like they were buzz-cut suckered with a single pass of a hedge trimmer, so I did some hand-suckering this morning. It’s soulcraft. If you look closely (and I made sure that CHP and CalTrans weren’t when I did my thing this morning), you may notice that they’re less of a trashy mess than they were when I first laid hands on them. Inner-city Sacramento sure fucking isn’t.

On second thought, that little faggot does occupy a middle ground between the jet-setting homosexuality of wealth favored by Dire Straits and the health-endangering homosexuality of rural poverty lived by Pot-o-Shit Friend. The Ragin’ Canajun told me that PoSF was “super gay,” but the most shocking thing about him in retrospect wasn’t that he failed to trigger my (rather weak) radar; it was that he didn’t trigger my poodar. That little faggot had his own Brute trash can; that little faggot, he went poo in a bin. Our coffee queer from last night wouldn’t condescend to do a thing like that. He had a distinctly sheltered, prissy privilege about him. I’m sure that this included an extreme version of the traditional middle-class American privilege of not being able to articulate one’s relationship to the shit-in-a-box community. In the aftermath of Lady Pisspan and Pot-o-Shit Friend, that’s a privilege that I’m on standby to check with extreme prejudice. Keep an eye on that trailer door for the latest edition of the Cacaramento Poos and RevEww Get it while it’s hot and fresh! Yes, I have bodily shared and been invested in a property where my neighbors did that shit. Coffee Queer has no idea. Even the bums who beefed with him last night would probably find that pretty extreme, because those country-ass shitbirds ARE extreme, even by cold homeless standards.

Coffee Queer got rid of the bums last night with an impressive lack of empathy. I don’t know whether it was deliberate or merely insensitive, but it was unmistakable. Telling a person that he isn’t allowed to sleep in a nearly empty coffeehouse hours after the last customer rush is an asshole move. The bum who honored me by using me for his beef (and I do mean honor) wasn’t nodding off because he felt like being indolent. Let’s remember this, too: the engineer who crashed the Metro-North train on the Spuyten Duyvil curve days after an abrupt shift change wasn’t “allowed” to sleep, either. It’s called exhaustion. One literally can’t even stay awake. That is not an exaggeration. It is not a Millennialism.

And does anyone with half a brain think that the cold homeless charge their phones at Starbucks because they feel like sticking it to the Man? First, this is a company that proactively advises its customers of their right to get fucked up on the house until closing time with free refills just for registering a loyalty card. I’ve repeatedly had baristas mention this to me when I’ve paid for refills with cash, at prices that wouldn’t cover a crosstown bus transfer in many jurisdictions. That SMUD bill must be killing them. It should go without saying, of course, that the cold homeless have to deal with chaotic logistics. All too often they have trouble figuring out where they’ll be able to relieve themselves. (Oddly for a crew that policed its electricity so jealously, last night’s crew gave the bathroom code to everyone I heard ask for it, most of them obviously homeless.) They have to walk distances that would exhaust many gym rats, and they have to do so in unpredictably hostile weather, feeling every change of it in their bones, often without shade because the built environments where they live are hellscapes.

Yeah, of course the phone fairies will magically recharge their phones if only they ask politely. It’s their fault that they let their batteries run down. And I’m Chester Nimitz.

Starbucks didn’t suffer any material loss from that poor bum napping in a corner and charging his phone. It’s a marvelously profitable multinational corporation that charges, like, $10 a pound for parfait. It doesn’t even have franchisees to face off against their homeless neighbors in bum fights, or to allow to act as channels of old-country caste karma when the thirsty ask them for a cup of water. (By my reckoning, that’s the kind of immigrant who should be second in line for deportation, after serial violent felons.) If it has customers who are too squeamish to come in for a turbocharged fuck-me-up because a perfectly peaceable homeless guy is napping with his phone by the far wall, what the hell are they doing in inner-city Sacramento? No. What the hell are they doing in the United States? We all broke these people, so we bought them.

The reason I found Coffee Queer most deserving of the abuse he received, aside from his gratuitous hassling of peaceable bums per se, was that he was such a passive-aggressive, disingenuous little shit about it. He did not sincerely want them to have a nice night. If he had, he would have let them use every free outlet that a paying customer wasn’t trying to use. That’s how a barista can help a homeless person have a good night. It’s inadequate, but it’s a start, and it’s sincere. Coffee Queer wished them a good night in word while at the same time giving them an even worse night in deed than they would have had absent his meddling. That’s a weaselly little shit right there. I would have been on that bum’s side if he’d said as much to Coffee Queer’s face, or worse. In circumstances like last night’s, anything that doesn’t include an imminent threat of significant bodily harm is Brandenburg for extreme gentlemen. People who act like Coffee Queer did deserve a hostile work environment. Last night, in a rare outburst of justice, deserve did have something to do with it.

To answer that bum’s question, though, the one about why I, too, was running my laptop off company juice, it wasn’t ultimately because I was a paying customer, and it certainly wasn’t because I wanted to be used by some sniveling little shithead as a wedge against a harmless rough sleeper because I had bought a couple of foo-foo stuffed bagel bites. It was because I, too, was homeless enough to use a damn outlet. We’re among the rest of you. You may not notice us, and some of us like it that way, but we’re there. We’re on the loose. Let a barista know if one of us trashes the bathroom. It won’t be me, because I’d prefer to do without that chaos myself, but it also won’t be someone I’d help a pathologically sheltered fruit run out of the lobby for sponging off the company electrical hookup and getting some rest to steel himself for the night ahead. The crazy know not what they do; Father, forgive them, etc. ad nauseam. The precious we should expect to know better.

Homelessness as adventure; or, hippies even I wouldn’t mind seeing punched

In the course of researching safe places to sleep in a car in Sacramento (sic, pending evidence that there are any), I somehow came across a Eurotrashy dipshit calling himself–Galveston, oh, Galveston, I am so afraid of dying–Glenn Campbell, a long-ago laid-off airline baggage handler who humblebrags about bumming his way around greater Europe for wicked cheap because there isn’t much work to be had, mate. Since my ass is, shall we say, still on the line on account of my recurrent warm homelessness, I think I’ll chide him more than hate him, but I’ll chide him for all time. His is a tone that I can’t help but police, for personal reasons that I’ve described at length before, but also in the civic interest of putting in a good word for other warm homeless who ended up this way out of some necessity or other, not because they set out to become international nuisance vagrants.

This preenstone cowboy got turned on to the idea of purposeful circuit-riding vagrancy after a hassle-free night sleeping in his car in Lisbon, which inspired him to offer some speculation about how totally cool the cops would have been with him, in a counterfactual world in which they actually gave a damn about his presence, because he’s a gringo who doesn’t speak Portuguese, giving him great white tourist privilege. I’m sure Daniele Bifalco would agree that the Schengen Zone makes all cops within it bae as fuck. Great logic there, car cracker. Anyway:

After this one experience in Portugal, I realized, “Hey, why do I need a hotel at all?” If you have a rental car, you have a hotel!

Most weeks, unless my finances are extremely tight, I sleep more or less alternating nights in my car and in motels. This dude isn’t just full of shit; he’s impacted.

He gets worse, though. For a laid-off baggage handler fallen on hard times, he’s a champion poor-shamer:

Almost every city has some sort of ordinance against sleeping in cars on public streets, and most property owners wouldn’t want you doing it on their land either—if they knew. The reason, of course, is that if it were allowed, some people would abuse the privilege. They would linger in one neighborhood, be obvious about it and make a nuisance of themselves. No one wants a visibly homeless person living in a car on their street (especially when the observer is slaving to pay for their own home). Our aim, however, is to be completely invisible, which is a whole different game.

That’s a hell of a “privilege” to “abuse.” For a homeless dude, he seems to know awfully little about the homeless, for example, that they already linger in certain neighborhoods, already do so with extreme obviousness, and already make huge nuisances of themselves, often because their circumstances give them no alternative. That’s several good swathes of Sacramento right there, for starters. I was just watching some cold homeless guys beef with a barista for giving them the bum’s rush when they were trying to nap and recharge their phones. This is on a nice part of Broadway, by the way, on the north edge of North Land Park. I didn’t mind them because they weren’t bothering me. In fact, I was more annoyed with the barista, a fruity twit who used me as a contrast because I had just bought something to eat instead of sponging off poor Starbucks for a corner of a group table and 200 watts of free juice, then disingenuously wished them a good night.

Similarly, this dipshit Campbell wants us to consider the precious fee-fees of householders who resent having to live like “slaves” to pay their mortgages. He wants us to see things from the perspective of resentniks who think that sleeping in a Twingo is a form of privilege, in contrast to their sleeping in the same private indoor bed every night. What a craven little ass. This is why we he wants us, and himself, to become invisible.

Let’s say you choose to disobey a local ordinance and sleep in a vehicle where you know it’s not allowed. What’s the worst that can happen? Will you be arrested, ticketed, fined? Probably not. What is likely to occur is that someone will knock on the window, wake you up, and ask you to move on. That’s it!

The “worst” that could happen is that one might be ordered to drive off on unfamiliar streets in a state of genuine exhaustion. I try to sleep at rest areas precisely in order to avoid having my safety and the safety of those around me endangered by some asshole knocking on my window and telling me to move on. “That’s it!” Or, as Myuran Sukumaran said when he was my age, “I guess that’s all, folks.” Actually, I’m older than him now. #WINNING!

 

As police go, Glenn Campbell is lucky not to have to deal with Brimob. So are we all. Still, he’s pretty sanguine about sworn Florida Man. Yes, he’s been to Florida, too. Wow Much travels None homeland. Maybe the Florida Highway Patrol is better than the Miami-Dade Police Department. Still, I have to wonder about this dude’s judgment. “After all, police usually have better things to do than bust illegal sleepers!” I’d like to believe so, too, but I’m too wary. Campbell says that he’s only been woken up once by a cop, for a completely well-meaning welfare check that was completed without incident. I believe him. He’s too labile to keep his mouth shut about these little adventures. What I don’t get is why he thinks someone who’s sleeping in his car would not be freaked the hell out to be woken up by a cop. That is an alarming experience in the best of circumstances with the best of cops. I freaked when that retard knocked on my window at 0230 at O’Brien/Shasta Lake to try to bum a cigarette off me. I want to be as confident as I reasonably can be that THE POLICE WILL NOT DO THAT. I like Chippies pretty well, for the most part. That doesn’t mean that I’m comfortable with them hanging around my car when I’m trying to sleep. Would you want some cop you chat with around the neighborhood loitering in front of your bedroom door?

Consider the sign shown at the top of this entry, from a Interstate 40 rest area in Iowa. Item #2 says “Overnight Camping” is prohibited. On first glance, that would seem to mean you can’t sleep in a car. But now look at #3: You can’t stay at the rest area for more than 24 hours. That implies that you CAN stay for 23 hours, which entails sleep. And look: You can stay for more than 24 hours if you have a legitimate need to, like “need for rest.” All the sign is really saying is that they don’t want you living in the rest area like you owned the place. What does “camping” mean? Let the lawyers argue over it.

I-40 doesn’t come within Missouri of Iowa. Limey please. He has some good points here, but not, teehee, what even IS camping? Ask a laywer lol! This ass thinks it’s our duty to respect the shit out of the property integrity of an itty-bitty parking lot and sort of public park facility. Chronically squatting at a rest area is shit for gibs, anyhow. Is this fucker trying to demonstrate that he loves him some authority figures and their authority while testing the limits of their authority every night? Around Sac and Fresno, CalTrans has signs up that basically tell the homeless to sleep in disciplined eight-hour shifts because there won’t be enough space otherwise. I sure as hell don’t drive thirty or forty miles to more rural rest areas instead out of a deep respect for CalTrans.

Glenn Campbell’s Bohemian Fapsody inevitably misses the real reasons to sleep at a rest area, like establishing a safe distance from the unstable cold homeless and not trying to use bathrooms to which they’ve laid waste. Even at rest areas, this isn’t always possible: a year or so ago I discovered that someone had wasted all the toilet paper in every men’s and unisex rest area at Lakehead while I was sleeping, leaving it all over the floors and draped into the toilets. I’d managed to share the facility with a total assjob. That’s rare among the warm homeless, though. We aren’t usually mentally ill enough to do that. Rest areas keep the eyes of the broad middle class on the streets instead of a medley of alkies, druggies, bruisers, and nuts.

This is why some of us keep going to the poorhouse in the automobile. The other poorhouses are lower circles of hell. As Mobile Homemaker puts it, “Shelters are for someone else.” He manages to advocate for and counsel the warm homeless without being a total assclown. I try to do the same. Too many Bohemian hipster assholes go around acting like tiny houses are some kind of austere chic, not a pitiful attempt to shack up with one’s lover in a trailer the size of a small hay wagon. I have earnest, compelling financial reasons to sleep in my car, including the Affordable Care Act. So do most people who sleep in their cars, I suspect. We could do to be represented on the internet by other adults sometimes, not just by overly chatty adventure-whoring hipster fuckjobs who act like it’s all a game. It manifestly is not.

At least I’m not parking in Galveston, oh Galveston. The weather here is so much nicer. Usually.

Adulting is hard, but I’m taking a stab at it, as Kajieme Powell always said

This screed is, as it is traditional to say in the current year, a thing. So is the turd that your cat just batted out of its litter box to toy with under the dryer. When I first came across it, I was milquetoast enough to assume that it was well-meaning. Looking at it afresh, I find it little more than crude loser-shaming, although there’s certainly much worse of its type in circulation. What’s wrong with the kids these days? Get ready to throw up in your mouth a little:

The Millennial generation has grown up differently than those before us. Everyone on the soccer team was given a trophy for their efforts even when those efforts were sub-par. The student of the month award was never given to someone more than once until everyone received the award. Teachers dared not leave anyone out lest they suffer parental complaints and a less than supportive supervisor more in tune with the political repercussions of the truth. In some cases grades were written small on our papers to avoid creating competition among students. Some of us couldn’t even play dodge ball at recess because it might create “low self-esteem issues for weaker or less athletic or smaller children. I could go on but this idea that we are somehow entitled no matter how hard we work has been infused into the Millennial generation so as to affect attitudes toward sacrifice and work and thus how some people go about achieving their professional goals.

The problem is that teachers and parents made some feeble efforts to encourage humility and restraint among schoolchildren in a time of extreme cutthroat competition among adults and teens. The author, who never published anything else on her blog (What is this? A term paper for Social Media Studies 202: WordPress Wizardry?), summarizes these trends as “The Age of Entitlement.” Apparently this entitlement is separate from the entitlement of affluent Boomer and Gen X householders to hire day laborers who speak a full dozen words of English from the Home Depot parking lot, using the honor system in lieu of checking their new hires’ authorization to work in the United States, or the entitlement of all bougies of all ages to exploit the precariat for illegal jitney cab services coordinated by shady dot-com tyrants who are currently scheming to strangle all local public transit. It clearly doesn’t include a sense of entitlement to the restoration of benefits and services that were widely taken for granted in the midcentury: collective bargaining rights, workplace safety enforcement, stable employment, pay and debt servicing conditions allowing a stably employed person to comfortably form a family, not having management give one’s job to the most desperate foreigner or immigrant it can scrounge up at the moment.

No, the problem is that Coach Fitzhugh handed out participation trophies like candy, murdered his wife, and became the star of Palo Alto true crime classic Blood Will Tell. Actually, I don’t recall for sure that we were given participation trophies at AYSO, but I do vividly remember Ken Fitzhugh looking like misassigned hospice nurse Charles Cullen and that flexineck trooper with the crazy eyes from Ron Johnson’s night watch press conferences. Don’t I get some sympathy for having had a wife-murdering youth soccer coach? Don’t I at least get some SEO? In fairness, he didn’t give us, shall we say, that Sandusky or Hastert feeling. CHESTERFIELD WHO! And, yes, AYSO wasn’t as fucked up as the Boy Scouts, either. If Redding becomes better known for its massage whores, it can perhaps become less known for its pedophiles and its residents who mail pedophilia jokes in to Boy’s Life. 

Jack Chambless, an economics professor at Valencia College asks his students to write an essay each year on the first day of class. Students are asked to describe their ‘American Dream’  and what role the government should play in helping them achieve it. Students this past year as expected were ambitious. They want a job. They want an education. They want a home. They want money to be given to the poor. They also want the government to ensure all of this because they believe that as humans we are not able to succeed on our own.

Mountain men, who did try to succeed on their own, were fucking insane.

What these students fail to realize that if the government does provide this for them, they are still going to pay for it in the long run -what drives tax increases?

Military contractors.

The system they are describing does not reward success. It would simply redistribute assets from society’s achievers while disincentivizing them to continue the effort to achieve.

That is not the type of society I want to live in, I expect to have to work hard for my success but I also hope that by the time I have achieved some of my goals, I will not be forced to “redistribute” to those who are able bodied, yet have not put forth much effort, let alone worked hard

Yes, you will be forced to redistribute to the lazy, and to Lockheed-Martin, and to indigent farm workers who qualify for public assistance because their jobs, some of the physically hardest on earth, pay shit. It’s probably safe to say that Kathy Killeavy’s goals don’t include stooping over in a strawberry field sixty hours a week to feed this country. She can’t or won’t say what her goals are, and she starts her essay with an admission that she’s adrift, and not the only one her age who is:

As a recent college graduate, I can’t help but wonder what the next chapter in my life will entail. It is a less than optimal time for seniors graduating college. Fifty percent of college graduates have yet to find a job, many moving back home with mom and dad while looking for temporary solutions. For many of us this was unimaginable. From a young age we were all told we could one day have it all if we put forth the proper effort with little thought given to forces beyond our control.

With the attitude she shows in the rest of her essay, there’s no reason the next chapter couldn’t be going to Salinas and cutting lettuce with a short-handled knife.

Incidentally, this Killeavy chick has a heading above her only essay that says, “Keep your heels, head, and standards high.” This is why the United States desperately needs the political candidacies of openly cynical prostitutes with depressive tendencies who wear flats. And Patty Blagojevich. As I learned in Scouting, the sunny side of life is where Chester feels one’s leg. It wasn’t a totally useless organization, then, although it could come pretty close. High standards are okay, though. They’re why I call code enforcement when I learn that tenants have been shitting in trash cans on properties where I’m invested and don’t publish warmed-over bullshit under my own name about how my peers are all lazy, entitled losers who would be able to find work today if their teachers had let them play dodgeball fifteen years ago.

There’s no cataloging all the two-bit Quisling agitprop that bootstrapper Millennial sellouts have vomited forth, blaming their peers for an economic disaster that just happened in the same way that a Taser just happened to kill Robert Dziekanski at Kwesi Millington’s hands. It’s our responsibility as individuals to soldier through a job market that has been stacked against us by sadists in positions of power and/or not to be fatally electrocuted by the police. Entering a job market that has no jobs, except for Mexicans, is somehow an adventure, not grounds to start sending corporate managers and executives to federal prison for orchestrating systemic I-9 document fraud in pursuit of unenfranchised scab labor.

Here’s another example, although not as annoying. Its author, by her own description, writes stuff. She also borrows memestock from the Conservative Tribune, including a photo of a sign at a school badgering parents not to drop off lunches and supplies that their children forgot at home: “Your son will learn to problem-solve in your absence.” Maybe he’ll also learn to syntax. Jenna Abrams is the sort of brownnosing dipshit who thinks it classy and reputable to scrupulously attribute scraped internet content to its most recent distributor. This is the hallmark of the sort of ostentatiously trustworthy person who is actually untrustworthy. It’s the lady who doth protest too much. Crediting a meme bog for some shitty, poorly written sign used by school administrators to scold parents is like providing footnotes for a flame war between trolls calling each other faggots on 4chan.

While we’re lazy and coddled and shit, Abrams is involved in what appears to be an affiliate marketing scam. Most of the comments under her post are trackbacks, interrupted by a reblogging shoutout. Reblogging, which has mercifully diminished as an internet practice, is the equivalent of printing out a mimeographed copy of a newspaper article, posting it to a bulletin board on the village green, and scribbling “Cool shit, dawg,” in the margins. Like Killeavy, Abrams acts like a suckup trying too hard to impress her teachers. They’re the sort of people who are hated and distrusted in K-12 schools (and, under exceptionally dystopian regimes, in colleges and grad schools) because they rat out their peers to authority figures over technicalities. No, I don’t feel like being on the receiving end of mass libel from a chorus of low-rent Judases who can’t muster the principle of Neville Chamberlain. I don’t feel like encouraging them for getting all the collabo together to suck some Vichy cock. They only pretend to be polite. I’d rather stick up for decent people who wander into their crosshairs, even lazy ones, than keep pretending that these sellout scolds are the decent ones.

In addition to our being lazy pieces of shit, our politics are problematic for religiously preoccupied kooks:

And since our education system is completely and totally dominated by progressives, our young people have had decades of liberal propaganda pumped into their skulls, and the results are absolutely frightening.

For example, one survey discovered that 62 percent of Millennials say that they are “liberal”, and 42 percent of them say that they are “socialists”.

A different survey discovered that more than half of all U.S. adults under the age of 30 say that they reject capitalism.

The first point depends on what “progressive” means. Michael Snyder seems to be using it as a synonym for leftist or liberal, philosophies that objectively do NOT dominate very many American schools. The political indoctrination in American schools is actually a confusing mishmash of conflicting agendas pursued by textbook publishers, teachers, administrators, parents, state and federal education officials, school boards, godbotherers who exploit low turnout at school board elections to get their partisans into office, and probably other influential players I can’t recall at the moment. There’s no telling from year to year or district to district exactly how these clashing agendas will play out in curricula, although the broad outlines are usually easy to discern, and they’re ugly. In a word, the standard organizing philosophy driving student indoctrination is authoritarianism. The hard part is explaining the local details and orienting them on a crude left-right political spectrum.

At the same time, students do not simply believe everything their teachers tell them. Does this Snyder dude even hang out with teenagers? They aren’t socialists because some tendentious lecturer told them to be socialists, and they aren’t only 42% socialist. That’s only the percentage that is ballsy or annoyed or fed up enough to stop allowing #TCOT to maintain a vise grip on the Overton Window, dictating everyone else’s political opinions. There are proven socialistic policies that enjoy 70-90% public support in the United States. It’s called Social Security, not Capital Security or Private Security. Get it? Of course, it’s considered gauche to get it, but fewer and fewer Americans tolerate this rightist hardliner bellyaching. #TCOT isn’t keeping us housed and off the streets. It never does.

Here’s how socialist politics work in the United States: Bernie Sanders ably represents a state with one of the healthiest, most robust, per capita most diversified private-sector economies on earth, but he uses language that causes CalPERS nimbies in Costa Mesa to come down with rabies, so obviously he’s Leonid Fidel Ceausescu. When these youngsters say that they’re against capitalism, they aren’t against private enterprise as a whole; they’re against certain banks, student lenders, megastores, health insurers, and other predatory businesses that have a track record of committing financial Holtzclaw. The North Korean government–the same one that Bernie Sanders has called “very weird”–actively suppresses private enterprise, and the Venezuelan government has pretty well strangled its own private sector through excessive central planning and political grandstanding about Yanqui imperialism. We have private sectors ruined by their governments, then, in a chronic top-tier international pariah state and a country so dysfunctional that it has alienated hitherto patient international creditors. It’s possible to account for failed states like Somalia and bizarre, inscrutable dictatorships like Myanmar under its astrology-dabbling junta and still not come up with another current instance of a government actually obliterating private enterprise.

The various levels of government in the US fall across a range in the middle of the spectrum between openness and hostility to private enterprise. The hostile elements, however, are not just on the left. The Affordable Care Act and its precursor patchwork of employer-based health insurance are not socialism. Other first-world countries, and some much poorer countries, use single-payer health insurance or other forms of socialized medicine to spare private employers the administrative and financial burdens that employers in the United States face. Bernie Sanders is trying to do for the United States today what Tommy Douglas did for Canada half a century ago.

Snyder’s shock at the description of official “safe spaces” at Ivy League universities for the soul-embalming of their easily traumatized students is more reasonable than his breathless redbaiting, but the pathologies driving that culture of indulgent self-care by way of self-pity are not what they appear to be at first glance. The students involved in that culture are not the actual dominant social force in the student bodies of elite schools, no matter how much noise they make or ridicule they attract. They’re ne’er-do-wells trying to comfortably furnish their own veal pens. Whenever they step out into their broader university communities, they have to face a sky-high concentration of balls-to-the-wall shitbros, Hall and Oates Effect mean girls from the sororities, and the assorted other domineering assholes who actually dominate the social scene. I’m still floored by how atrociously my own classmates and administrative acquaintances from Dickinson College behave on account of their sense of class supremacy, and my old school (I can’t stand any of them, doing what they did before) had nothing on the Ivies for selectivity when I was enrolled there. It enjoyed a prestige so regional and class-specific that I talked to people from Lebanon County, an hour’s drive away, who confused it with the eponymous law school adjoining it (a Penn State satellite that had no institutional affiliation with Dickinson College).

Here’s another way to look at it: attending Harvard means sharing a campus with asswipes like Mark Zuckerberg. Or worse. Elite schools are overflowing with Type A freaks who seek to rule the world and cultists angling to bask in every bit of reflected institutional glory they can capture. It’s worrisome to realize that these seriously fucked up people are actually on track to wield power over others whom they surely deem their inferiors. Being emotionally stable and purposeful about one’s education while around these assholes can be annoying enough. Having emotional or existential difficulties, e.g., wondering whether one really ought to be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the first place, and having to listen to these shitwipes all the goddamned time can be debilitating. I knew Dickinsonians who were clearly not there for an education. If they had been, they wouldn’t have carried on like such idiots about vapid shit and had so little to say about anything that could have been broadly classified as intellectual. As the Insurance Schmuck so eloquently, but accidentally, put it, “I never thought of the library in terms of books.” A lack of native intelligence was rarely their problem; what stood between them and an education was their alarming indifference to anything that didn’t immediately pertain to their own socioeconomic aggrandizement. Dimwitted people who give a shit about learning are a huge improvement. I’ve known some, and I’ve learned to cherish them above rubies because I’ve also known their opposite.

The disaffected students suffering in the shadows of these willfully airheaded blowhards include a fair number of failspawn who know that they will continue to fail as they graduate into a world dominated by the likes of their cutthroat classmates. Absolute failure isn’t the standard in use here, but relative failure, as judged by their falling short of thresholds that would be in the ninety-fifth to hundredth percentiles of achievement among the general population but are mediocre by the standards of their alma maters.

Massage circles, Play-Doh, and puppy videos aren’t the cure, but neither is psychological counseling at the student health center. Drs. Hasan and Karadzic can’t analyze and medicate an insane institutional culture into a state of health by treating individual students who may have an inchoate, tentative sense of what’s wrong with the institutional environments they’re trying to navigate and a sense of embarrassment for falling short of the excellence that they’ve been reminded to no end that they possess–for current and future “development” purposes, of course. Involvement in either of these overly therapeutic cultures looks like its own punishment. I know personally that outpatient psychiatry is its own punishment, and that Dr. Karadzic is much more familiar with psychiatry and genocide than he is with shampoo. Campus psychologists and psychiatrists end up treating patients who have what are frankly iatrogenic mental illnesses, but somewhat like our friend the frag major, their employers give them incentives not to fix the root stressors. Doing something that radical would break rice bowls.

Catering to trauma-whoring, by contrast, fills rice bowls. The American academy today is ordered to the proliferation and aggrandizement of its own administrators. Some of these can be hired to liaise with emotionally weak students who want you to *very Vietnam-era VA outpatient clinic voice* let them tell you about their trauma. And if undergraduate institutions have learned anything from the law schools, it’s that it’s better to inspire in their students a generalized sense of trauma directed at some intangible, generalized menace like rape than a specific, coherent sense of grievance focused on, say, a fraudulent law school administration. Law school administrators wonder why their aggrieved former students file suit over fibs about things like graduate job placement rates. Well, they gave them the keys to that realm. Nice bed you made there; shame if you had to sleep in it. They have achieved the reification of oops my white ass just got served by that little punk. Other schools with so far less litigious aggrieved students would do themselves a solid by discreetly discouraging this sort of airing of grievances by those they’ve done wrong. Bitter law school scam bloggers don’t act like they need a dedicated safe space; they’re too busy creating unsafe spaces for the institutions that screwed them over.

Adulthood doesn’t suck just for inevitable existential reasons. Sometimes it sucks because specific adults do specific, antisocial things to make it suck, like ruining the job market for anyone who isn’t an amoral bullshitter. Often the retreat of young people from adult responsibilities is really a withdrawal of consent from a corrupt system. Hey, I just said “withdrawal” and “consent.” Giggity. We have all these shitty companies that make a show of encouraging their favored employees to play sports on company time, then try to compensate everyone they can with stupid parties and some free food instead of, oh, reliable salaries and benefits. Then we wonder why the kids are so immature. Where did they ever learn such a thing?

Kajieme Powell doesn’t have much to do with this essay, but I’m sure that, unlike Sam Dotson, he’d agree that the delightion crowd can take back the damn pastries.

Walkers

“Walkers” are a chronic problem in downtown Redding, according to a woman I overheard complaining about them to a barista today and bragging about how pleased she was to have moved out to hobby ranch country off Airport Road. She seemed to be complaining about the cold homeless, not pedestrians in general (who are rarely very numerous in Redding), although I couldn’t tell for sure. Her style of speech struck me as coy, euphemistic, even a bit shady.

This woman complained that the “walkers” were dangerous. God help us. It’s the bourgeois regime of feels again. There are genuinely menacing or dangerous homeless, but they’re honestly pretty rare in most homeless communities that I’ve noticed, including Redding’s. I doubt I’m big or badass enough to scare off belligerent street people who routinely prey on women or smaller, weaker men. For that matter, I have been menaced by the cold homeless on occasion, and the Samuel L. Jackson-looking punk who got up in my face in Inglewood didn’t come anywhere close to being the most menacing bum who has bothered me. The worst I’ve encountered by far was an Ed Hardy-acting white guy in Huntington Beach who cornered me in a bus shelter and threw punches at me because I curtly refused to give him any money and then got belligerent with a group of tourists after I frantically warned them about him.

That dude was dangerous, dangerous enough that I asked a couple of lifeguards to call the police. He was also, in my experience, extremely rare. In every other instance I can recall when a bum has gotten aggressive with me, I’ve quickly realized in retrospect that he was nothing worse than an annoying punk or loudmouth.

This is an important distinction to make. There’s a difference between living in a dangerous neighborhood and having some neighbors who are annoyingly poor. If the homeless are assaulting, battering, mugging, raping, or murdering their neighbors, the troublemakers in question need to be caught and arrested. They’re serious threats. If the homeless are frequently burgling vehicles or residential buildings, they’re disruptive enough to merit a police response, although they may not be threats to public safety per se, and if their threat is limited to property, they should not be accused of threatening anyone’s physical safety. If the homeless are chronically shoplifting or bothering customers at businesses in their neighborhood, they cause a nuisance that should be addressed, although if their crimes are so restrained, it’s almost a certainty that they’re driven to criminality by true desperation. If they’re defecating in the open, as is common in some encampments in Los Angeles County, that’s frankly an infrastructure and social services problem, full stop.

One of the things that bothers the hell out of me about the political response to homelessness in most of the United States is that the nuances of disruptive behavior by the homeless are viciously elided into a nondescript mass of threats, usually wildly exaggerated, to their neighbors. That is, the dirty bums won’t stop endangering the life, limb, curtilage, and Christian womanhood of the normal, decent, hardworking people whose neighborhoods they infest. To repeat, I have rarely encountered homeless people who posed any imminent threat to their neighbors in general. I’ve seen some fucking crazy bums, and I’m friends of a sort with two of them. I’m streetsmart enough to function adequately in some moderately rough neighborhoods. I’m not naive enough to think that there aren’t rough motherfuckers out on the streets who might do me harm if given a chance, but by the same measure I’m alert enough to tell when I’m dealing with someone who is merely trashy, sketchy, obnoxious, lost in his own world of the mind, disheveled, ground down by life, or otherwise not a threat. Constant false positives for the threatening poor are exhausting, and they can be disastrous. They help explain why American police are so homicidal.

The combination of bourgeois discomfort, ostracism of the homeless from housed society, self-righteousness, and paranoia resulted in the police murders of Kelly Thomas and James Boyd. That’s the endgame. Ramos and Cicinelli are as innocent as OJ. I’m not retributive enough to demand that they be punished as murderers: we desperately need more mercy and less justice in this country, and if the mercy they were shown doesn’t get anyone else killed, I’ll be fine with it; but they dindu nuffin but murder a man, in a leisurely enough fashion for Ramos to don latex gloves first. See these? They’ll fuck you up. Throw the evidence in the curbside trash and catch the redeye to Chicago. If you did it, that is. Say, how’s that murder sentence–I mean, armed robbery sentence–treating you? Nice dry change there in the desert, innit?

Being uncomfortable with someone isn’t the same as being threatened. Unpleasantness isn’t mortal terror. It shouldn’t be, anyway. In practice, God only knows where the line is between a Genovese/Steinle hellscape and property values not being what they might be. Listening to aggrieved neighbors isn’t necessarily enough to learn whether the neighborhood is turning into an Enoch Powell river of blood or has a few harmless down-and-outers wandering around because they’ve been given nowhere else to go. We create this problem by refusing to provide for these unfortunate losers, or by making it impossible for them to provide for themselves, and then we’re too precious and cheap to do anything to resolve it. Individually and institutionally, we do nothing for them. We don’t lift a finger. Those who do are exceptions that prove the rule. As a nation, we’re damned by our own deeds and omissions.

Redding seems like a particularly bad place to be cold homeless on account of its climate and built environment. I’ve heard that the police are generally quite decent to the homeless here, but even if they’re downright kind and helpful, the street people here are still forced to deal with torrential rain in the winters and summer weather so hot and sunny that it’s noticeably uncomfortable to drive on unshaded streets in an air-conditioned car. As with shitty parts of Philadelphia and Reno, there are neighborhoods here so bleak and badly built that they have to be bodily experienced to be believed. You, too, would probably turn into Oscar the Grouch after a day hoofing it on Cypress. There are people here who must, like Mixups in my Mind, shower very seldom. They have nowhere to go. I’ve seen low-end weekly motels around here that look worse than a well-run homeless encampment under the supervision of an amateur sheriff who keeps the residents from getting out of control. Staying at these places would absolutely, positively be worse than sleeping at the average rest area. I can tell at a glance. I’ve made the mistake of staying at similar places before, including one in Buena Park that was shut down by the city as a chronic nuisance a few months later. They’re several circles of hell lower than the worst experiences I’ve had a Crossland properties, and that’s being charitable.

I don’t usually enjoy interacting with hitchhiking riffraff or sign-flyers myself. Tough titty, though. My discomfort or embarrassment before them is a function of their living in physical and socioeconomic conditions that would cause anyone extreme hardship. They live like that for weeks, months, or years on end, sometimes with no end in sight. Maybe social services agencies can start buying them Greyhound tickets to Salt Lake City instead of San Francisco now that Agnostic’s beloved cucked-out Mormons (actually a slight gentile majority within the city limits, as it happens) are seriously scaling up housing first. It’s pretty damned assholy to blame the destitute for making one fleetingly uncomfortable in one’s own bourgeois security by being visibly destitute.

Richard Sherman has said that he was practically babysat by bums from the neighborhood when he was growing up in South LA. He seems like he was raised right. He also seems awfully decent and humble for this country, what with his trying not to use his success as a cudgel, the better to pulp those who remain failures.

The poor we will have with us always. We’ll have them extra longtime if we leave them at the mercy of an overwhelmed outfit like Loaves and Fishes while dumping half a billion down a hole for a new ballerdrome instead of getting them into apartments. If housing first is cuckoldry, please, do show me how to prep my wife’s bull. Or have your wife share her Jello salad with me, if you know what I mean. What I mean, specifically, is that she should be sure to put some pineapple in it and hold the mandarin oranges.

Put that liger on the next train west, Napoleon. We need it.

That Kennedyesque Vigor

There’s something off about Hillary Clinton’s health. The Hillary health truthers may venture down the rabbit hole towards crackpot explanations involving elaborate conspiracies to hide her true state of health, but enough photos and footage are in circulation showing her looking sickly and exhausted at public appearances to make it perfectly reasonable for voters to assume, as a matter of caution if nothing else, that she is medically unfit for office. We should not feel ashamed to expect that our presidential candidates show signs of good health.

I don’t feel like indulging complaints from the credentialed about how only trained and licensed physicians are qualified to diagnose disease. No shit, Doc Martin. This isn’t the rogue practice of medicine that I’m encouraging; it’s the duly constituted practice of individual electoral oversight of candidates for elected office. If we, as individual electors, believe that a candidate is too sickly to function adequately upon election, we, as individual electors, have the absolute right to vote against her. We have the absolute right to vote against her because we find her an insufferable fucking bitch or a crook, too. We’re free to conclude, without evidence adequate for medical diagnosis or treatment, that she’s stroked out or jacked up on steroids and hence in a state of inadequate health to assume the highest office in the land. The threshold for concern is lower. The threshold is frankly whatever the fuck the individual voter thinks it is. By my own reckoning, Hillary is probably on the wrong side of that threshold, and this likelihood discomfits me.

If Bill Frist is free to discern signs of life in a tragically unfortunate vegetable like Terri Schiavo, in violation of medical ethical standards demanding a good-faith examination before diagnosis, the rest of us are free to discern signs of gathering death in Hillary Clinton. She often looks like shit in public. This is worrisome. She looks much worse than Donald Trump or Mike Pence. She looks much worse than her running mate, Tim Kaine. She looks much worse than Bernie Sanders, a man widely ridiculed as a gerontocrat. She looks much worse than Pope Francis, and, depending on the day and the lighting, better or worse than Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a man old enough to be her worldly father as well as our Holy Father, and one who was admittedly in a state of poor health towards the end of his papacy. Any number of people twenty or more years her senior consistently look healthier than she does.

The contrast with Bernie Sanders is worth looking at in a bit more depth. Sanders is only six years Clinton’s senior and exceptionally fit. Many elderly would love to be so vigorously ambulatory at his age. By comparison, Clinton looks fatigued, sluggish, unsteady on her feet, and pallid when she hasn’t been told to be on point. It is quite unlikely that Bernie is not the medically fitter of the two. Yet he, not she, was the one who was chronically smeared in the mainstream media as an old fart past his sell-by date. It’s hard to imagine that the commentariat was actually concerned about medical fitness for office.

We’ve seen this movie before. The press takes sides, although not always the sides one might expect, especially from the perspective of a beleaguered conservative. In 1984, when Ronald Reagan was the same age as Bernie Sanders is today, the mainstream media ignored the classic signs of senile dementia that he showed on stage during a debate with Walter Mondale. Reagan had a vacant, unfocused look in his eyes for much of the debate. At times he veered into befuddled, incoherent comments. One observer speculated that he probably would not have been able to correctly identify the city where the debate was being held if a moderator had asked him.

Anyone–steadfast supporter, staunch opponent, neutral observer, foreigner–might very reasonably have been alarmed by the thought of a man who made a public appearance in such a condition being the head of government and state of a major nuclear power. Reagan recovered his mental engagement, and his famous wit and eloquence, by the next debate, and he stayed relatively engaged in public for the remainder of his presidency, although his demented meltdown at the 1984 debate made his bizarre comments about the conflict between the facts and the feelings in his heart when Iran-Contra was exposed even more troubling in context than they would have been in isolation. It’s one thing to be governed by a SAG bullshit artist who approaches life as a feature-length movie, another to have a president genuinely losing his marbles with half a term, or even a full term plus a few months, yet to serve.

The press covered more thoroughly yet for JFK, the cockhound with Addison’s disease whom they made out to be a family man full of what Broad-Bangin’ Jack himself called great vigah. There was in fact a journalistic ethos of discretion about the sexuality of politicians in the midcentury that burned off like so much morning fog by the time Monica Lewinsky put on her blue dress, a discretion that inadvertently gave the fabulous creep J. Edgar Hoover even more leverage to blackmail the rest of Washington. After all, what would that closet case have had left to use on Came-a-Lot if Jack the Schtupper had already been tittered about in the press as a world-class tapper of twats? By some accounts, Kennedy wasn’t just a raging man-slut, but a dissolutely handsy dipshit who cornered random female staffers for impromptu sex in the hallways. These accounts suggest a moral unfitness for office far beyond what Bill Clinton showed in his extremely sublimated affair with Lewinsky (although not beyond the much more serious accusations of rape made against Clinton, most prominently by Juanita Broaddrick).

JFK’s spotty health, however, did not raise the specter of scandal. This was a weird endocrine abnormality, not a proclivity to impulsively screw the nearest piece of ass every hour or two. Americans had (and still have, although less so) some appallingly moralistic views on mental illness, even on depression, but only a frothing crank from the hardline opposition would have blamed an elected official for needing to take injected steroids for a serious endocrine condition, as if it was a great moral failing. No one would have regarded this as a karmic punishment for past misdeeds, as might happen in parts of Asia. The public reaction wouldn’t be any worse than, well, sounds like the poor bastard is in poor health. Kennedy would not have gotten the Eagleton treatment for being perceived as a crazy mental degenerate. Nonetheless, voters might have had reasonable concerns about his medical fitness for office and much more pointed questions about the coverup of a President’s medical condition in a time of sickness.

One of the saddest spectacles we’ve been treated to this campaign is the extreme deterioration of Bill Clinton. Hillary never looked as good as he did when they were in their prime, but if anything, she looks better than he does now.

It’s a shockingly stark contrast between then and now for a man who was so youthfully handsome during his own presidency. Bill consistently looked great in the nineties. Even when he was under extreme congressional fire and Starr power he looked pretty damn good. Over the past few years, though, he’s come to look like shit. He looks gaunt, even cadaverous. When he was in office, he was constantly getting ribbed for stress-eating, especially for diverting his Secret Service detail to McDonald’s for weigh-me-down pick-me-ups during his morning runs.

Seeing someone with this history of joyful fooding become not just thin in early old age but frailly thin and pallid is disturbing. As President, the Big Dog ate his way towards a Dotsonian figure under public fat-shaming scrutiny, and he did so with an almost Dotsonian serenity of size. It’s easy to imagine Jon Belmar and Ron Johnson being embarrassed to chaperone either of them to Steak-n-Shake. In fairness, though, there were certain other porky precincts where the Capital Rotunder was easily serpassed.

I couldn’t help myself. It’s a mental condition, kind of like *PISS* coming out of my *ASS*, or JIMMEHJIMMEHJIMMEHJIMMEH! It’s an intellectual disability. Give me some Ritalin if you want the memes to stop. That was the result of mild sleep deprivation and a pint of coffee, so wheeeeeee.

What would be the result of a sickly president with an even sicklier spouse? We’d be well advised not to find out. With the Clintons, especially Hillary, we can expect a power vacuum to be filled by a rogue’s gallery of creepy spooks, psychosexually deranged armchair generals like Jen Psaki and Victoria Nuland, fellow-traveling neocon creeps who approach foreign and military policy like a game of Risk, dual Israeli-US nationals of questionable loyalty and honor, equally conniving money Jews who have not yet made aliyah on a walk-up ticket out of Dulles because shit’s going down, and officer-class shabbos goyim of the sword. Hillary is said to have pressured Barack Obama to throw caution to the wind prior to the deposition, anal rape, and regicide of Muammar Qaddafi, but it’s unlikely that she’ll surround herself with, let alone listen to, anyone equally critical who counsels peace instead of war. Hoping that US foreign policy accidentally goes sane again as a side effect of the Second President Clinton being too indisposed to carry out the duties of her office and leaving these duties to subordinates or dauphins who are not batshit insane is a fool’s errand.

Let’s not forget what happened to George W. Bush. He had a chip on his shoulder as a dry-drunk failson and legacy president whose brother was supposed to inherit the throne instead. As a result, he was intellectually timid enough to be buffaloed by starve-the-beast supply-side zealots in his cabinet, and he was chronically under suspicion for inappropriately allowing his ever-more Strangelovian veep to act as his de facto dauphin.

This is what happened to a president who was in perfectly adequate health throughout both of his terms in office. Hillary is running for office in a state of visibly ill health last seen in Ronald Reagan, who was six years older than she is now by the time he started showing signs of senility. Donald Trump, by comparison, appears healthy and high-energy. Elegant! Okay, he also promotes himself to an unseemly extent–narcissistic! Sad! Still, he doesn’t look like he’ll take office and then wander out to lunch for some unforeseeable balance of his presidency. Clinton looks like she might.

I don’t take any glee in expressing my concerns about the Clintons’ health. This is not the sort of old age that should be wished even on one’s enemies. It’s wise indeed to ask not for whom the bell tolls. In this case, it’s been tolling ominously for years. The Clintons deserve punishment for their corruption, but they don’t deserve to take ill in their mid-sixties with no prospect of recovery. It’s bad juju to even think that way. They’re both in ill enough health to argue for the mitigation of any prison sentences they might receive, even in the event of murder convictions. If I were as sickly as either of them look, I’d feel like my life had become its own punishment. Wealth and liberty are weak palliatives for people so unhealthy.

For that matter, we’re far too vicious and retributive as a society towards basically harmless convicts. What in hell do we accomplish by putting a diminished old bastard like Dennis Hastert in prison for decades-old sex crimes? Most of his victims are free men who still have some measure of their youth. Punishing frail, wheelchair-bound geezers because they abused their physical and institutional power back when they still had some is the hallmark of an evil society. The Clintons aren’t nearly so harmless, and there is a strong case to be made for segregating them from society until they can be neutralized or proven too impotent to continue their lives of crime, but punishing them in a spirit of righteous anger would be ugly. Fuck C. S. Lewis on that count, at least, although not on the moral busybody thing.

George. H. W. Bush was right. You get the flu and they make it into a federal case. Geez. But don’t cry for him, Argentina. He’s blessed with good health, strong health.

Hillary, though? Poppy Bush was right again. She’s not be well.