Kasich, you uppity bitch

Pittsburgh has a fancy-ass airport express bus, the 28X, to get the fancy highlanders downtown and back in a hurry. The 28X sticks to the busway and the freeway and the mall perimeter and shit (okay, a bit of West Carson, too), in the interest of expediting the good bougie voters with their jobs and all between the islands of good stuff at an adequate altitude above the hardcore flyover country.

Muh fuckin Port Authority 24 Local, tho. What can I say? It came first this afternoon. Hey, that could be a working sociosexual allegory about the riders, too. The poors are certainly said to be less sexually dysfunctional. Giggity. But no kidding, Rogers, there’s some gritty, gritty shit awt there past Mawnt Warshington and the Inclines, dawn in the old mill tawns, and it seems our Buckeye boy Johnny K. didn’t stick arawnd to fix any of it.

When I got into teh dawntawn myself, I double-checked with Google-Fu, and sure enough, that fucker is from McKees Rocks. It’s inconceivable. I’ve seen much, much worse American neighborhoods; McKees Rocks looks poor and seedy but pretty socially functional, maybe even more than average. The bizarre part is that its most famous native son (I have no fucking idea who, if anyone, it’s contributed to our varieties of sportsball) is the Republican presidential candidate who carried Manhattan and only Manhattan. That’s like Sargent Shriver and William F. Buckley running for the presidency and winning only the bad parts of Cincinnati, pretty much just Scott Parlier, Mack the Pipe, and the $20 carside blow-and-go crowd.

I know, I know, that silver-spoon second-generation developer oaf from Queens with the flagship properties in Midtown Manhattan who won all the backwards constituencies in the general election because that crazy bitch smeared the lot of them as comprehensively immoral and implied that they’re all hot-bunking in the same basket.

John Boehner was brought up in even poorer circumstances in an equivalent inner suburb of Cincinnati. The GOP has a real thing about elevating guys who grew up closer to the railroad tracks than they’d have liked and now deplore and look down on their own hometowns. They must bring some bogus air of authenticity to the party’s ongoing campaign to loot the commonweal until it’s flat out of lootables. I’m all too familiar with the self-loathing Staten Islander thing, and I’ve now met that alumni council dipshit with the Hickenlooper-on-steroids Main Liner act and the chip on his shoulder for being from hick-ass Missouri (I’ll shit bricks if it turns out that he’s from Columbia or fucking St. Charles). I’ve basically learned how to deal with the occasional feeling of embarrassment before the normies on account of an early childhood in Palo Alto, and my very aggravating collegiate background has exposed me to plenty of insufferable assholes who use their own proud privilege to shit on anyone and everyone who doesn’t comply with their gross efforts at social control, so I don’t know what the fuck degree of extra latitude I’m expected to accord some toolbox who’s been salty for a decade or five about the petty slights that came from earning consistent six-figure incomes for years on end after an upbringing in a solidly middle-class part of New York City or Joplin, or alternately as Mr. McFeely’s son.

To my knowledge I’m the only party to this bullshit who regularly sleeps in his car. Then again, Palo Alto has to be a much better and likelier place to feel like shit for sleeping in a car as a fully employed and taxpaying member of society than Donner Pass is for doing so as a once again unemployed guy who’s planning to go for a hike after Weekend Edition Saturday. There’s a real failure of perspective here, and it starts to look willful. These shady mofos love them some class restratification and bigotry, with the proviso, of course, that only a bleeding-heart tax-and-spend commie leftist would ever wage class warfare. They don’t want to be on the hook for government services for the losers they or their recent ancestors left behind back home, losers who aren’t necessarily so utterly impoverished or unskilled or dysfunctional and who would tend to converge back on broad middle-class norms with assistance more modest than what the wealthy exurbs routinely demand of their public officials.

An upper middle class and national elite dominated by fifth-generation lawyers who are much because they are Dutch would expose the economic hard right wing to some glaring credibility problems. The hard right will look bad and lose a critical mass of voters if there were obviously no social mobility, and a generationally entrenched, ethnically denominated upper crust would drive home the obvious. (Don’t tell anyone that our current Second Great Depression is making the same point even more grotesquely and horrifically.)

That’s why the GOP enjoys regularly pipelining fresh ethnic talent up from the ranks of Expanding Whitey. What, do you still think we’re all swooping in here from the WASP nest? Why, here’s a wetback’s kid who worked at the family taco stand into his twenties, and here are some other NPR-ready members of Pueblo’s Hispanic Latino community who don’t look too closely at how they closed the mill down and also the bus system is fucking useless, and here’s a shanty kraut with a baker’s dozen of brothers and sisters, and from another few hundred miles up the river, czech it out, here’s a guy who climbed his way out of Hunky Hollow, the point being that every one of these enterprising ethnics believes in our private-sector job creators, and there’s no way that any of them enjoyed a stable home and neighborhood life growing up because dad was a union postal worker.

The great uncrackable nut in this bowl, of course, is America’s established local color, the ones insufficiently blessed by the rains back home. Or, as the drill instructors ask of the new arrivals at the Atlanta Police Academy, do they listen in the Motherland? The Republican Party keeps thinking up and then abandoning schemes to win over African-Americans, but with rare exceptions, the Community doesn’t bite. That’s what happens when partisan hacks use patently insincere and cheap talking points about self-reliance on the one constituency that has most reliably gotten a rough ride in their rodeo; it’s also the last constituency to turn down stable public-sector union jobs, because it knows from painful experience that the alternatives are straight out of hell.

All God’s other colorful people, not to mention everyone who automatically gets the Whitey Sign these days, are useful fodder the GOP’s classic #TCOT argument by anecdote. This includes African immigrants, who presumably become African-Americans while our ethnic rhetoric definitely slouches toward gibberish. No, I don’t mind accusations that I’m more bork than bite. Congress has never refused me the opportunity to rule. Ooh, we’d better airlift the judge to Lehigh Valley, because he just got BURNED.

I can’t blame John Kasich for wanting to move somewhere more prosperous than McKees Rocks or get away from neighbors who live vicariously through the Steelers instead of trying to actualize their own lives. It’s easy to see how an environment like that could get depressing, stifling, and limiting. This is a free country. There’s nothing inherently objectionable about moving somewhere else domestically, or expatriating, for those who feel driven to leave it because they love it. (Muh HRSDC shiznit, eh. *Headdesk* *St. Jean de Brebeuf voice* Oh, you think YOUR eyes hurt after reading all that? Ha!) The dispiriting fourth-turning truth of the matter is that the broad prosperity of postwar Pittsburgh, won at such cost by the unions, was what allowed so many people in the postwar generations to move out into the suburbs and turn into reactionary starve-the-beast nutjobs.

But what’s the problem with reminding Kasich of his own roots? He’d certainly remind me that I was a bougie Palo Alto boy if he caught me saying nice things about socialism and shit. Free market extremism wasn’t what gave Pittsburgh a middle class. Anyone who acts like that was the case is either a lying sack of shit or flaming nuts. Andrew Carnegie was a hideous thug who belatedly made concessions to the employees he deliberately kept in poverty only after they took on his subaltern Frick and their Pinkerton goon squads. A dear friend from Allison Park gave me a blunt assessment of Carnegie’s charitable motivations: late in his life he realized that he was going to hell and wanted to belatedly atone for his depredations in an effort to secure his own salvation. Getting his name plastered on a whole bunch of shit probably didn’t hurt; there are apparently those who get their jollies from such enterprises–say, the current Oaf of Office.

A sensible person has to wonder about someone who was raised on the Allegheny County waterfront in a household headed by a mailman and came away thinking that government and labor unions were the problem. Kasich’s complaints aren’t, like, geez, the city never filled the potholes on our street and that son of a bitch Hoffa was such a racketeering disgrace to the rank and file that I hope they buried him somewhere deep and far away. Having been raised in the stable prosperity nurtured under robust government and high union membership, he’s here to burn some shit down. It’s almost less disturbing if he’s just a garden-variety crook; imagine how sad it would be for a man raised in such an environment to actually believe that smallminded, ungrateful nonsense in the depths of his heart.

True story: I’ve seen Randian RWNJ Republicans brag about their “Pittsburgh Values.” This raises questions, including where in all hell they came up with such an idea. Pittsburgh and quite a few of the nearby older towns are solidly Democratic, anywhere from about 60-75%. There’s an outback of hardcore Republican strongholds surrounding the urban riverfront core and the other Democratic-leaning suburbs (including Castle Shannon, I recall); this outback extends hundreds of miles into the wooded void, practically to the edge of the Main Line and the outskirts of Scranton. But none of this exurban and rural swath is fucking Pittsburgh. “Hey, I’m in Chicago. Okay, I’m actually in Gary. But didn’t that sound nice?”

This is where we get into the realm of Republicans flat-out making shit up. John Boehner is proof of the great opportunity that is America. Look at him, raised by humble kraut barkeepers in a beyond-full house, and he made Speaker. That proves that anyone, with enough hard work and determination, can become the Speaker of the House.

Uh, no it fucking doesn’t. How many speakers does the House have at a time? Hint: the office is called “The Speaker of the House.” (I know, the whole lot of them can’t be induced to stop speaking.) What the hell does Boehner’s success mean even for his own siblings? That’s one position at the top of a national legislative body of only 435, plus some hanger-on delegates from the colonial territories. Not a whole lot of room for contenders there, Brando. Every individual Congressman represents a district of something like 680,000 (look it up for your fucking selves if the precision is that important to you; that’s why we have the internet until next Thursday). That still isn’t awfully many slots for America’s enterprising.

Pathetically, the same people who act like Boehner is a success story for having been so successful in politics, and Kasich too, I guess, if he’s extreme enough for their taste, also get up on their high horses about how the only appropriate venue for job creation is the private sector. They fucking venerate the “job creators” in so many words. What I have to wonder is, if the private sector is so majestic, why don’t they go look for some damn work in it? None of these assholes waxing obnoxious about job creator bullshit in Congress has worked exclusively in the private sector. I have, though. Their fellow travelers in the Randian think tanks and on the opinion pages aren’t a hell of a lot more free-marketed. What in the bloody hell would Megan McArdle have to offer in a competitive free market? Wingnut welfare has many such cases. What self-respecting person who has ever held down a proper summer job would take these useless, bumptious assholes seriously?

If these toolboxes think government is so awful, why do they keep competing for additional terms of paid government employment every two to six years? I’m not over here demanding the abolition of the private sector, and frankly neither is anyone else who isn’t absolutely ridiculous. The fucking Norks barely managed to destroy private enterprise for a few decades, and once the disappearance of their Soviet subsidies along with the dissolution of the USSR blew the shit into their fan, they mostly stopped trying. That’s what the world’s most belligerent and deranged extant totalitarian regime has achieved against the private sector. The infamous Slow Ghomeshi on the American private sector is fictional. To the very small extent that it exists in some greatly attenuated form, much of it is actually the doing of landlord rent extraction. What we hear about, though, is the chronic saltiness of pissant entrepreneurs who think they shouldn’t have to do basic bookkeeping and compliance work instead of getting however shady they damn well fancy come payday and tax time.

Could government be less burdensome and more helpful to small businesses and sole propietorships? Sure. The flip side is that assholes like Joe Dirtbag could start paying their damn sales taxes and stop making up crappy post hoc stories about why they didn’t pay up and shouldn’t have to do their part because reasons. That creep alone blew a good chunk of my goodwill towards the noisy beleaguered entrepreneur with his series of little tax-dodging stunts. I don’t try to buy shit off the books to dodge sales tax, so I don’t appreciate a deadbeat who also doesn’t pay me or anyone else who helps him run the farm cheating the city because reasons.

Let’s not stay so parochial, though. Here’s the Galaxy Brain take: robust government services like the Port Authority and a paid professional fire department can facilitate more private enterprise, not less, by maintaining a functional, reliable public infrastructure that anyone can use without a second thought. That seems to work for the Pittsburgh urban core. The Pittsburgh firefighters’ pension may still be underfunded, but at least the PFD doesn’t have its head up its ass about bringing new hires on board to cut back on the overtime, unlike, say, BART. Then again, BART vs. the Port Authority may well be a case of getting back what we pay in, for what it’s worth. Trolley time isn’t quite make-believe around here, but it’s pretty fucking unintuitive, and its delivery none too speedy.

I’m sure I could find plenty of #TCOT dipshits out in the North Hills and Butler County and shit who assume that the City of Pittsburgh has a private sector every bit as vigorous as Moscow had in the forties, but that’s because our national politics are insane. Our recent habits of stratification and sorting don’t fucking help. Hell, just look at our known Yinzer boy John moving up to Columbus and digging in. He’s got a case of the accent, but it’s too bad he doesn’t have a case of something other than the projectile ignorance of his own hometown’s history to go with it.

At least he won New York, New York. Not Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx, and God no, not Staten Island, but our boy from McKees Rocks cracked the cultural barrier of Radio Deluxe Country. That earnest socially climbing dork couldn’t even get a plurality in Allegheny County, and now that I’ve taken the bus through his old neighborhood with a dozen or so neighbors (Hello!), I can’t begin to convey what a glorious thing it is that he carried Manhattan and choked everywhere else. John Kasich is special just the way he is, and it’s a beautiful, beautiful fucking day.

 

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Down on the Motherfucking Farm

Strangers often assume that I went to Stanford when they see my ballcap. It’s a fair point, but the cap was a gift. All I feel like saying about the details is that I have some family connections to their old school, not mine, and if these details seem so compelling, you’re free to figure them out for your own damn self. Legacy admission? It ain’t me, lawd, and sweet Jesus it ain’t me with that dang drawl of an acksayant after a chahldhood in El Cerrito and shit.

The colors happen to closely align with those of, you guessed it, *MY OLD SCHOOL*, whose swag I in fact would be ashamed to wear, because *GO DIPLOMATS!* For real, I’m routinely on the verge of buying F&M gear out of pocket just to hurt feelings. As they say on the SEPTA 61 bus, I ain’t gonna do any damage, but I’m gonna cut that bitch. I guess I’ve got an awfully fancy education for someone who’s voluntarily stepped onto the 61, but remember, education isn’t the same thing as intelligence, because it’s only with luck and usually some countermeasures that the two overlap.

The Stanford cap, then, doesn’t embarrass me precisely because I didn’t go there. It seems to be my one good cap these days, the only one that I haven’t stained and halfway worn out with excessive farm work and hiking, and it roughly matches my red sweater, which seems to be my only current sweater, period. Heh. Period. Red. Huh huh. Bunghole de Cornholio. Etc.

The Big Dick again Goes Hard. The manager of a diner outside Pittsburgh just asked me whether that was a Stanford hat. I wasn’t expecting anyone there to have a clue (ooh, did you just get one in the last paragraph? I did, too!). I didn’t catch all of what she told me after I confirmed her guess, but I’m thinking she was probably familiar with Stanford on account of the athletics. This is the school that admitted Chelsea Clinton but actually tries to fill its teams with reasonably literate, cultured, well-mannered youth, so that isn’t the worst reason to come across one’s interest. I don’t like to be the pretentious, arrogant asshole who goes around pronouncing others my intellectual inferiors; let’s just say that it doesn’t sidwell with me; but that smug, dimwitted, Arendt-abusing horse’s ass is my fucking intellectual inferior. Oh, yes, I’m sure she was admitted to her fine alma mater on sole and exclusive account of her academic and personal merit, and that I’m St. Thomas Aquinas.

There’s presumably a socioeconomic level above my parents’ at which legacy admissions start to leaven the matriculant pool, even at the Junior University. Far be it from me to disbelieve in the Steyer Shortcut, the Gates Go-Around (to go around the usual gates!), or the Clinton Cutoff. Hillary’s impertinent comment about how her buddy-old pal Mike Bloomberg is a real billionaire was actually obnoxiously pertinent to her gross worldview and to the no less gross corruption that it infused into her 2016 campaign. That’s a bad sign right there: looking back wistfully on 2008 as a time of Clintonian modesty. Most professional observers seem to think that the Clintons are worth mid to high eight figures, but they obviously punch well above their weight, due to the whole Clintonworld government-access thing (public service my fat white ass), so I consider it reasonable to assume low nine figures as a ballpark. I don’t know what the fuck the Trumps are worth, maybe more, maybe less, but they’ve got the presidency now, so regardless of how deep that clown crew is into debt, it’s golden for generations now, and for roughly the same reasons that the Clintons are.

The rich aren’t different from you and me and the Sanderses just because they have more money. That sounds nice, but it just isn’t so. Bernie and Jane have basically the same middle-class values as any number of doctors, nurses, cops, electricians, railroad engineers, and engineer engineers. A combination of thrift, decent luck in the housing market, and high earnings boosts plenty of people into a net worth in the low millions by retirement age. It’s harder for most people today than it was in the midcentury (thanks, guys!), but it still isn’t out of the question for young people who have high earnings and low debt, especially low student debt. (Of course, the relative percentages can still get bad enough to fuck a society up, and we’re already there.)

The Clintons were on track to top out as fairly run-of-the-mill yuppie shitheads, probably in the low millions, until that irresistibly charming little mischiefmaker with the infamously wandering schlong wormed his way into the presidency against an opposition divided between Giant Sucking Sound and Message I Care. That was when Billary was able to diversify from mercenary law, commodities speculation, and two-bit Arkie real estate cons into the good stuff. Wee Billy got the two of them into some legal debt towards the end of the administration by upsetting Gateside Downlow, J. Denny Dundiddly, Friar Dorkemada, and the whole crew with that little something-something with the plump Jewess, but that was perfectly easy and quick to overcome. They were the fucking Clintons. Retired from the White House, they were also freed from the meddlesome, sexually preoccupied oversight of their enemies in Congress, who incidentally cast aspersions on them for their seedier stunts, like their Lincoln Bedroom payola guesthouse deal.

The Clintons have successfully slashed and burned their way into a rarefied stratum in which the prevailing values get really warped and grotesque. Theirs have always been shit, even for the least reputable and most amoral swath of yuppies, but since their time in the White House, or at the latest a few months after their departure, they’ve been wealthy enough to amass riches halfway commensurate with their own avarice. Okay, half is probably a huge exaggeration, but I don’t feel like showing up out of nowhere with a word like “hundredthway.”

This is not a normal environment. The ambient levels of irresponsibility and unaccountability are stunning. Most financial millionaires have regular contact on a more or less equal basis with normal people from a fairly wide swath of the socioeconomic spectrum. They have no real choice in the matter, even it they’d like one: if they tried to buy their way out of this exposure to reality, they’d quickly go broke and ruin themselves. By somewhere around the Clintons’ level, the wealthy are able to permanently surround themselves with servants and sycophants, to bully or directly buy their way out of legal trouble, and generally secede from real life. Most financial millionaires would be aghast if they peeked inside.

A normal, healthy, sensible, well-balanced person would realize by somewhere in the mid-seven figures of net worth that that’s enough money to live securely and well, that more money might be helpful but that the existing foundation is rock solid and it’s worth giving some thanks. Billionaires, at least public ones, never seem content to enjoy their fucking money. They keep butting into our business. The DeVoses have their charter school hobbyhorse, while the Gateses lit a fire under everyone’s ass about Common Core. Hizzoner Michael Bloomberg couldn’t help himself when the poories upset him by drinking too much soda. Sheldon Adelson strives to be God. Tom Steyer has a compulsion to somehow unseat Donald Trump. Various obscenely rich shitheads like to get up on their high horses about bogus schemes like the flat tax.

What’s striking about Donald Trump in this context is his modesty. He didn’t claim a right to rule the rest of us on account of his wealth or credentials. He laid out a platform, incoherent and contradictory though it was, and encouraged Americans to give him a shot. When he did refer to his own wealth, it was often to admit that he knew the whole game was rigged because he’d worked it and watched it from the inside. If any rich jerk showed up on the political scene without an air of entitlement, it was Trump. This was refreshing.

Hillary Clinton sure as hell didn’t do that. Her entire campaign was premised on the assumption that everyone had a solemn duty to vote for her because she was the most qualified person in the race, how can you possibly not see that, and also a woman, you misogynistic prick. Between these pretensions and the Bernie ratfuck, she forfeited every possible residual bit of goodwill on the part of a huge-ass swath of the voters she needed to win the general election.

The class angle only made her look worse. She screwed over an opponent who was a normal guy with ambitions as normal as any presidential candidate’s and then made that crass comment about how her buddy Bloomberg was a real billionaire, in contrast to the poseur Trump. Okay, but what the fuck is that supposed to mean? I didn’t figure that Trump was a real billionaire myself, or that he necessarily had a positive net worth, but he looked less arrogant and more public-spirited than Hillary, who came with plenty of disreputable family baggage of her own. The possibility that a famous blowhard was bullshitting us about his wealth wasn’t going to cost him my vote under circumstances that included the grotesque corruption, rapacity, and spite of his main opponent.

The ruling class had obviously decided that Trump was a usurper; the bias was unmistakable. Watching him be accused of being worth less than he claimed, i.e., not totally loaded, just super loaded, didn’t help the bipartisan establishment’s case. For the same reasons, it was totally whatthefuckular to watch these stuck-up pieces of shit throw under the bus a normal guy with a normal wife who got along great with normal people and really appeared to feel a genuine respect for them, and then publicly suck up to this droning billionaire nutrition busybody whose shtick is basically to accuse poor people of being slovenly, ill-disciplined, and fat.

The kicker here, of course, was that Trump, uniquely among billionaires of whatever actual net worth, seemed to relish mixing it up with the little people and to maybe be sincere about having their best interests at heart. It’s hard not to wonder what the hell the Democrats thought they’d accomplish with this line of attack. “Oh, that rich piece of shit you deplorables are supporting from your basket? Yeah, well, he isn’t actually a stuck-up, out-of-touch rich guy; he just plays one on TV! Suckers!” That quite nicely complemented the Democratic stance that maybe he doesn’t hate the shit out of you and want you to all die, but we sure do.

This is the same crowd that acts like Americans still admire Warren Buffett and love him long-time for being a famous billionaire. What the fuck, y’all. Socialism is becoming more popular because the economy has been ruined by and at the direction of the very wealthy and an increasing number of us would rather leave less of the total wealth in the clammy hands of some miserly old cunt who takes his grandchildren out to Dairy Queen and acts like he doesn’t know the McDonald’s menu when NPR is along for the ride even though he claims to get his morning Egg McMuffin there every day. Yes, we and/or the government would spend Warren Buffett’s money better.

These rimjobbers are all like, oh, but he still lives in an old house in Omaha. Uh, yeah, BFD, homeys. Bully to that Congressman’s son for buying railroads and shit. Anybody working in the Union Pacific dispatch center is more admirable and useful than that, and Nebraska is also home to the Drought Monitor crew and Irakli Loladze. Who’s next up as an exemplar of heartland values? Sexy male code enforcement officer Lynn Rader? Our old boy Bill Thomas did all right for a fellow who never really left Wichita.

This is the kind of shit we get under leadership that can’t imagine anyone whose interests aren’t dominated by the doings of overhyped rich blowhards and the faint possibility of someday personally becoming filthy rich. Okay, let’s check in from New York on the part of the country where they still have morals and stuff and see what’s doing. Oh, cool, here’s some sermonizing geezer who owns BNSF and doesn’t treat his own children to lunch at Denny’s because he’d be expected to tip.

Stanford pulled the same shit with my Chinese-made hat. A guy passing me on a trail in Nevada City (yup, Wow Much Travels) called out, “Go Tree!” He assumed, reasonably enough, that it was my school as well as his. Yeah, well, Tree ain’t got the roots to support no American textile jobs. From my perspective, a cap is a cap as long as it doesn’t rep Dickinson (I am NOT doing free advertising for those shitheels), but that’s a funny situation for marketing swag for a school whose endowment is well into the tens of billions of dollars.

Will anyone at Stanford stand up to this and ask the development and licensing people, for the sake of decency and community, to have their marketing shiznit made in the USA? Not bloody likely. As Tom Friedman has told them at such tendentious anecdotal length, globalization is good for everyone who deserves good things and also inevitable and shit. It’s why olive farmers in the West Bank all own Lexuses. Every harvest is a December to Remember. Surely the cabbies who always have such interesting, and I do mean uninteresting, things to say to him wouldn’t tell Ami little fibs.

True MAGA, then, isn’t in buying some F&M swag off the shelf, but in hand-stitching and embroidering that shiznit all bespoke-like. Don’t count on my ever doing that, since I don’t have the best follow-through, but don’t count me entirely out, either. Firehat cross-stitched a Fuck Yo Titties doily, so there’s a precedent. Mine, I guess, is Fuck Yo College. I can’t afford to move back to Palo Alto on my own steam after what Stanford has done to the Mid-Peninsula, nay, the entire Bay Area, but I can afford some damn needles and thread, and God knows I’ve usually got the time.

Steamertown USA

All the little kids growing up on the skids say, hey, what’s wrong with him? My sleep patterns, mainly. On alternating nights I’ve been jarred awake by a Next-Gen 737 with surprisingly bad pressurization at 0500 Central and a conductor telling me that we were coming into Cleveland at 0525 Eastern. In the intervening night I slept, no joke, from about four in the afternoon until nine the next morning, with an eleven o’clock snack break for the remainder of a bag of chili lime cashews and some coffee. This is not normal, so what the hell do any of you expect of me?

Cleveland isn’t quite as fucked up as it should be, but it isn’t in great shape, either. It manufactured more stuff back when the fire department had to put out the river, so that much is a mixed blessing, but it’s since fallen into quite a bit of neoliberal marketeering horseshit: a casino in Terminal Tower, the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, a bus called the HealthLine. Meanwhile I couldn’t find a ticket vending machine in the light rail station by the Amtrak depot, which is out by not much more than a dumbass science museum and a wind turbine even though I was on the only train that comes through after, like, three in the morning (surely one must be lonely!). I ended up entering the station backwards and walking out through a gate that had been left open all night. What is this, a Prince number from “Twilight Zone: The Musical?” I’ve been on a shitload of mass transit systems, and I don’t think that would have been normal had I been normally awake.

The Amtrak schedules can’t help, and neither can the condition of the Amtrak depot, but the state of Ohio never seems interested in subsidizing additional service at less fucked up hours of the day. I don’t entirely get the state-level politics behind these decisions, e.g., why Michigan has kept up its Amtrak subsidies, but there’s probably a strong class, racial, and political fuckery angle here. As a body politic, the suburbanites really have it in for Cleveland and Cincinnati, where there be Negroes. Other sorts of po’ folk, too, and Democrats. I believe it was Parma that was for a time the largest city in the United States without a mass transit system. Cleveland and Cincinnati have really neat urban cores, definitely neater than Columbus, but the political and business interest in investing in them is spotty and flaky. Hence light rail stations that look like they were abandoned by a late-stage Polish politburo that didn’t think to turn off the lights. Hence, also, all the tourist trap gimcrackery.

This bullshit was a long time coming. The most exquisite description I’ve heard of Cleveland in the sixties, from my mom, was that the blacks on the East Side and the Slavs on the West Side periodically squared off in race riots while the Italians and the Jews looked on. I can’t help but admire the diaspora Joel/Fischer/Buttafuoco crowd for treating that as a spectator sport. My uncle really should have married an Italian girl. What’s wrong with the Italians complements what’s wrong with the Jews, which complements what’s wrong with the Italians in return, while the Jews and the Poles are too busy with their semi-Semitic bum fight to compliment one another. *Very Temple Clinger Suburban Pollack Voice* Whoop Whoop Compliment. Nah, I shouldn’t be so harsh on that spergy mofo: I’ve never gotten any indication that he understands Jews as a concept, and he’s unfiltered enough that if he did he’d surely have something ridiculous to say about them on Facebook.

Or about us, since I’m Jewish enough for Hitler, and my self-loathing Jew of an uncle with the Polish/Shanty Mick wife doubly so. She’s the one I’ve sometimes been tempted to tell that I’d seen her possible paternal relatives from Staten Island at Hersheypark, but I think they were Black Irish.

#RaceTogether, bitch. The Dirty Dog will be here to pick me up soon enough and I’m already Too Very Online, so until we convene again, full steam abreast!

What is sexual harassment?

To be blunt, here we go again. Not to worry, it’ll get worse before it gets better. Hey, baby, are you Sigmund Freud? Because I wouldn’t mind having you pull down my pants, lay me down on a couch, and “analyze” me, if you know what I mean. What, you call that “prostate stimulation,” and it’s sixty extra? Yeah, okay. Whatever.

I’ve actually found people asserting in all seriousness that one dare not refer to the rash of belated accusations against sexually aggressive men in high places as a witch hunt because witches were women unfairly targeted by a vicious patriarchy. Love too find a constituency that literally cannot and will not understand relevant figures of speech. That’s like saying that I can’t incorporate Elizabeth Wettlaufer into my sexy male nurse Lynn Majors memes because she’s a Canuck broad. Just because something is uncalled for doesn’t mean that it hasn’t already been done.

I understand that it’s impolitic to call a woman a broad these days, but I don’t see what’s so sensitive about being a serial murderer, either. We are, but of course, just cullen the herd. Midler’s story of her evening on the riverafront was different than I’d gathered from the original headlines, in that it’s both worse (being shoved into a bathroom and having poppers shoved into her nose) and buried deeper in the sands of time, as a 1991 accusation to the Superior Court of Baba Wawa about some shit from the seventies. Midler found this incident disturbing enough that she called it “unseemly” and accused Rivera of assaulting her because he was a grand narcissist and she hadn’t been sufficiently overawed by his sheer presence.

This isn’t a particularly compelling accusation. It isn’t totally incredible in the strict sense of the term, but good luck getting an impartial jury to take it all serious-like. We have a complainant who did not cry out at the time, said nothing publicly about the incident until, a generation later, a celebrity television journalist directly asked her to confirm or refute her alleged assailant’s book of sexual boasts, and now, another generation-plus later, the video of this accusation has “resurfaced.” The poor thing must have needed to come up for some air.

For an industry that is so consumed by salacious celebrity gossip, it’s bizarre that this story hasn’t been honored with permanent place of observance in the annals of high-profile perv. The very premise of it is irresistibly fucking hilarious: Bette Midler complaining to Barbara Walters about Geraldo Rivera. This is how you do celebrity gossip. It’s the goddamn Platonic Ideal.

You, child, will never have a thing to do with any of these overpaid kvetchers. I sometimes wonder if my more worry-prone bougies aren’t right that I’m wasting my talents, but then I look at the mainstream media self-seriously acting like this shit is relevant to the lives of normal people. It’s shameful to present this story as news. It’s a high Fitzgeraldian tale of socialites behaving badly, and anyone reputable openly looks down on it as exactly that. The diva bitched to the reporter lady with the New English speech impediment about the lace-curtain Spanish blowhard who even the diva admitted was kind of hot back then, as if that was somehow relevant to her claim that he had not seduced but sexually assaulted her. What is this? A game of “Holtzclaw: Hapa or Hot?” Like hell I’m gonna take these craven whiners seriously.

We’re expected to take the most craven whiners imaginable seriously every time one of them shows up with a decades-old sob story about an brief unpleasant encounter with a peer and agree that this horseshit is newsworthy. When SEPTA gets tripped up by its problem with knifepoint subway groping, it’s a brief item in the national headlines. That’s not only the same system but the same two-and-a-half line subway network (muh fuckin Ridge Avenue Spur) that had a fatal midafternoon hammer attack. It ain’t good to allow the town thugs and crazies to hit the rails for one-man Peter Gabriel and Jim Croce musicals, but the victims of these attacks are poors, like, shanty Irish chicks from the Northeast and shit, so who cares? Jim Bageant was only partly right: hologram don’t serve no discount white meat, either.

When I was little, I had a couple of vague intuitions that I’d been an Indonesian peasant or something in a previous life, and that it hadn’t gone too well and I must have been pretty lucky to have landed in Palo Alto this time. *Outgoing Andrew Chan voice* No argument there, mate. Everyone else with one of these experiences was supposedly a fucking princess, so I don’t know what gives. We often seem to be living the curse of the temporarily embarrassed millionaire, since it’s hard to see how else the lived experiences of Bette Midler, who’s more privileged than all but five or ten thousand Americans, are more relevant to normal people than those of women who ride the El. Heehee, I initially wrote that as “all butt.” True story.

The thing is, though, we aren’t the ones producing this bullshit coverage. That’s done by a rather sheltered crew of media professionals, increasingly drawn from the upper-middle and upper classes through pay-to-play scams like unpaid internships. They plainly don’t know how the rest of us live. I’m a downwardly mobile guy from Palo Alto who went to a Main Line-ass four-year college, and I think they’re seriously fucking out of touch. I can only extrapolate what a perceptive high-school dropout from Fremont or Stockton thinks of these over-the-top white girl grievance spectacles.

#TeshTips: while John over there pops some more Adderall and strikes up the Big Band, #BigBandStyle, maybe you should make sure that your victims aren’t in the top millipercentile of international privilege before adding their stories to the collected passions of the saints. Are we really to think that Bette Midler has had a hard-knocks life? *Serene St. Jean de Breboeuf Voice* Why, I can’t very well see how that would be the case, and I doubt I’ll long have the heart to examine it. Doctor, if you please, my eyes.

Misappropriating a Protofrancocanuck missionary to prophetically quote Jackson Browne during his torture and execution is more truthful and accurate than the nonsense we’ve been hearing about this sexual assault epidemic, which somehow seems to affect a whole lot of women who are trying to claw their way into show business and hardly any who have settled for normal jobs under the Colby Cosh Standard, like baristas and housekeepers and shit. Harvey Weinstein is obviously a predatory creep, and Matt Lauer sounds pretty bad on account of that remote-control button to lock his office door, if nothing else, but the gatekeepers publishing these stories refuse to discriminate between accusations of serious criminal conspiracies to facilitate serial sexual assault and Garrison Keillor momentarily being a hapless  dork.

That isn’t the only credibility problem that the #MeToo movement has. An old friend of mine who’s been active in feminist sexual assault callouts once told me that I’d feel more negatively about prostitution if I had “a female perspective.” Prostitution is just about the most overwhelmingly female line of work this side of surrogate pregnancy and wet nursing, so that’s fucking nonsense. I might as well tell a woman who enjoys watching UFC brawls that she’d feel differently if she were a man and that the bruisers she’s watching aren’t in touch with their own masculinity. It isn’t my place to tell another man that, man to man, his prizefighting offends me and he should therefore cut it out. And that’s something that, like football, can really, seriously fuck a person’s brain up, let me TELL you about their trauma. I’m not seeing a bunch of hookers retiring with CTE and pulling a Hernandez at his age, which is also Amy Winehouse’s. #TheMoreYouKnow #Rehab.

I just threw out a used pantyliner that some ditz had left on top of the toilet paper holder. At least she’d wrapped and taped it up, but what does she think I am, a colleague of Nurse Lynn’s? How dirty does she think I’ll get for a ten-cent bottle deposit? As they say in the nursing homes when they don’t have enough staff on duty for patient head calls, it depends. This just happened in a hella nice part of Chicago, up on fancypants Diversey. Come to think of it, there was that Starbucks shooting a few stores away last time I was in town, for what it’s worth. Just because I’m not in the ghetto (in the ghetto) doesn’t mean that the ghetto isn’t in me.

Out west, I’ve been there when they’ve pissed and shit on the floors, so I guess I’m doing all right.

Where the hell am I trying to go with this? That was a dramatically less disgusting expression of feminine power and energy and whatever the fuck than bourgeois sex scolding, for one thing. Lazy motherfuckers are never the real problem. Hell, the SEPTA downtown rail divisions are never that clean. Will I see YOU tonight? Another true story: I still have to make arrangements to get my white ass over to Pittsburgh this week, and I’ll be seeing firsthand whether the real trolleys or the imaginary ones are better. Hello, Neighbor. Beautiful fucking day.

Prostitution not being feminine because some scolds think it’s gross is great politics for the Land of Make-Believe. What’s next? Getting up and throwing out my used rag is gross, so I’ma leave it right here for someone else to toss? This is the borderline Gold Coast Northside, so yeah, probably. But that isn’t the politicization of menstruation any more than the SEPTA subway tracks are the politicization of trash noncollection. As I keep saying, all we have to do about the lazy is sometimes clean up after their bum asses. And I can’t stop thinking about how I came across the bloody rag while I was writing this screed. It’s fucking providence. Take it the last mile over to motherfucking Lake Shore and we’ll REALLY be talking.

Don’t mind me; the only time I’m on the Lake Shore is if it’s Limited. As they say, I’m really going off the rails now. Brandon Bostian be with you if you even think about adding “literally” to that. The fifteen hours of sleep I got last night must not have been enough to get me rested up. I really can’t see the Midler-intersectional spending Saturday night in coach on a redeye out of Las Vegas. I got a full bank of three seats over the wing to myself while a squad of Cornell he-athletes were shoehorned six abreast into the ass end of the ship, but still. Hey, I just said “breast.” Also, “ass.”

Maybe we can ask some of Chicago’s cold homeless about their thoughts on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” being problematic, as opposed to the not so predictable nights when it actually is cold outside and with luck you’ll make it to daybreak. Elvis, for all else that was wrong with him, seemed to recognize that Chicago really does get cold and that the cold wasn’t so damn charming in the Robert Taylor Homes.

There’s no end to the First World Problems, even in cities with large sections straight out of the Third World. I could always write a Tumblr post about how “Put a Ring on It” and “Baby I’m Worth It” are extortionate misandrist agitprop, but I try to have some fucking standards, believe it or not. Today’s bathroom isn’t anywhere near the worst I’ve seen this weekend. (*Most Dowager Duchess Voice* Yes, it is Monday, but what is a “week-end?”) That was the men’s room at the Millennium Park Metra/South Shore Line station. I’d always assumed that the Metra Electric District was pretty classy since they’d gone to the trouble of electrifying it, but I guess not so much. But sure, let’s get rich and complain about how some twee bit of holiday shit on the PA system in a chain of nice coffeehouses is triggering while we again ignore our national tradition of allowing people to shiver to death on our city streets. For the record, I’m the one who’s advocating for well-maintained public housing on demand, in part to help people get away from abusive cohabitants, and I support timely plowing, too, all the cool aldermanic shit, but I’m having trouble seeing how hey, how about you chill here and maybe we do the nasty in front of the fireplace like Nelson Rockefeller instead of walking home through a damn snowbank is super offensive. It’s the kind of Tin Pan Alley crap that they’re liable to play on Radio Deluxe, I get that, but it just looks like an awfully high horse that some of these folks are riding.

No, I don’t suppose all of that was worth as many hundreds of words as I just wasted on it, but this is the internet, and the actually pertinent stuff that I could have written about Nelson Rockefeller, race, and class is all kinds of bleak. IIRC, that motherfucker actually died while boning his mistress on a shag rug in front of the hearth. #Goals.

The panic over sexually aggressive men preying on vulnerable women might be reputable if it came from a position of decorum and quiet moral rectitude, but it comes from nothing of the sort. We’ve got a bunch of useless eaters who revel in the salacious expressing their shock and outrage that some other useless eaters turn out to have behaved salaciously. What, exactly, did we expect of Hollywood? This shit isn’t novel. Geraldo, who previously groveled about how sorry he was to have posted that topless selfie because he thought he looked damn good for an old guy not wearing any clothes, is now groveling about how sorry he is that he published a memoir about all the hot tail he’d pulled. Who the hell do we think he is? Walter Cronkite? The guy never made a point of being a stuffy prude. As Marc Randazza said, Mike Wallace never opened a broadcast with, “Tonight, on 60 Minutes, we watch Ethel Merman fuck.”

There has been wholesome, edifying material available all along as a refuge from the coarse shit polluting the mainstream, but now that there’s a moral panic afoot about handsy guys in high places, a bunch of people who have spent the last ten, twenty, or forty years watching, listening to, and reading a whole lot of garbage are popping out of the woodwork to express their shock and outrage about how the news and entertainment businesses aren’t as scrupulously clean as they’d hoped. We have to hear this high dudgeon from people who moved heaven and earth to hire on at NBC when there were openings at The American Conservative. 

At some point, it’s reasonable to tell them to get the fuck out of here. This shit is of a piece with the handwringy comment that the Insurance Schmuck made to me about how I shouldn’t make comments to women about charging by the hour, and meanwhile he and his girlfriend had invited me over to their hotel room specifically to watch “90-Day Fiancee” and had spent much of the weekend gossiping floridly about how the woman to whom I’d made the offensive comment was about to get blindsided by a train wreck of a first date with our mutual friend, the one who’d penned the ridiculous “Class Note” about Bill Durden and Charles Nisbet.

I’m not sure if there was a straightforward, coherent way to lay out the context, but I don’t doubt that I missed it. Here’s the point: DO NOT criticize my manners or morals if you’ve just gotten me to come over and watch painfully trashy television about Cylvia and the Abyssinian Gentleman minus the common sense. Left to my own devices, there’s no fucking way I’d watch a shitty, bogus documentary about a fat bitch with BPD from Florida (of course) who used Myspace Angles to lure a Moroccan hunk into a long-distance romance followed by another one about a highstrung beta dork from Downstate Illinois or some shit who offended his Filipina girlfriend by balking at the roast whole hog on a spit that her parents had supposedly brought and prepared in his honor at their expense. Don’t act like the crucial act of moral courage in our society is to take some damn Imodium and partake of the hog if you’re a sellout with terrible taste in television and a muddled sense of the line between fiction and journalism. Getting upset because some dipshit with obvious emotional problems on a bottomfeeding television series full of dipshits with obvious emotional problems couldn’t suck it up, save face, and have some diarrhea by just eating a plate of the feast pork is deeply pathetic.

It is not unreasonable of me to hope that someone who has asked me over to watch such garbage-ass fucking gutter television will wait a few hours, and preferably a few days, before casting aspersions on my maturity or tact. This is basic shit, like not receiving the Eucharist right after eating six thousand calories at a Chinese buffet and spending the balance of the afternoon having an orgy with mistresses. Yes, I am better able to integrate multiple conflicting cultures than some of my friends and acquaintances are able to function in a single dysfunctional culture that they never question. Our high-end colleges only pretend to teach the liberal arts. Engage The World my fat white ass.

It’s painful to be modest in our hellscape of a society. What I mean by modesty here is, if you’ll pardon the recursion, pretty modest, like admitting that I don’t have all the fucking answers to absolutely everything right now, so I’m trying to discern the details and the implications of a bunch of heavy shit and bear witness to them as I can, but in the meantime, one moral line that I can draw is against televised bum fights involving people with serious psychological, social, and behavioral problems impulsively jumping into the most inadvisable marriages for no other reason than to comply with some regulations on spousal visas. E.g., if you really wanna watch that shit, maybe refrain from criticizing a borderline off-color comment that I made to a Canuck chick the previous night, a night when I also mentioned to her that I’d researched the Canadian immigration process for purposes of possibly expatriating. It’s ungoddamnbelievable: I look through the fucking official immigration websites of a country neighboring mine where I already speak the dominant language (sorey, mes mecs), and then I get flak for my bad manners from a guy who admitted, unbidden, to having hazed me for five years and whose interest in immigration focuses on a shitty docudrama about monolingual assholes who try to get their lovers to move thousands of miles across an ocean for a life of domestic verbal abuse and acrimony.

Geraldo, who was a real mensch the time he had dinner with my parents, has never gotten me into a pain-in-the-ass situation like that. Nor have I ever had something that cool happen to me at O’Hare, although the Manchu Wok, I believe it is, has some bitchin’ combo plates waiting for those who have the scheduling flexibility and the favorable fares not to have to land at a quarter past five in the morning. The fellow’s been on television for decades, and he’s never chapped my ass with bad content the way the Insurance Schmuck and his latest girlfriend did. Do I sound like I consider it a mitigating factor that that’s one of the programs they watch on their date night? That shit is “Jackass,” but from several circles deeper in hell. No one involved has the basic decency to personally do the stupid, self-destructive shit and leave others out of it.

Criticizing another person’s tact while watching that trash is like Pot-o-Shit Friend walking onto a med-surg unit and lecturing the nurses about how they shouldn’t talk about patient’s bowel movements so much. Nursing will still be super gross (medical nursing, at least), but there’s no need to bring in critics who have the least possible moral credibility.

It’s questionable enough that people who do not strive to shelter themselves from a mainstream culture awash in sexual crudity, and who even revel in it, are now all worked up that some guys in high places were sexually crude. How could we expect Matt Lauer to be upstanding? He worked for goddamn NBC. He was gross in private around a network that airs Chicago PD, SVU, and The Apprentice in public. Let’s be honest: if he was afoul of the prevailing community standards of his workplace, he wasn’t by much. There comes a point at which the only responsible thing to do is to demand some moral coherence, to assert that the neverending broadcast of trash is evidence of trash in the soul. I don’t feel clean for having watched so much NBC, so why should anyone working the bigtime at the Rock feel clean for having produced it, and for that matter, having thought it up in the first place? None of us has any obligation to offer endless moral impunity to people who grew and stayed wealthy and powerful by airing grotesquely bathetic crap that’s half about Burgess (drop the last two letters for a really fun time) screwing the guy who first played the unwittingly incestuous brother on SVU and half about Voight nearly gouging some guy’s eye out with a Bowie knife and then somehow having the time to go down to Millennium Park and stare at the lake again.

This is why I was so encouraged to see a morbidly obese guy waddle off a real fire truck in real Chicago last year and put meat into meatspace. It’s why I’m always encouraged to see friendly, middle-aged townie cops whose careers aren’t going anywhere walk around O’Hare doing absolutely nothing and allowing the homeless to sleep in front of baggage claim, at least for another half hour or so. They’re too normal and decent for television.

We can tell that we’re dealing with a moral panic about sexual harassment because we hear nonsense about our duty to believe victims. Oh? Am I to believe Psychotarp when he blames arson on antisemitism? Am I to believe that there was even a fire? In any other circumstances, one would reasonably expect the standard of credence to be credibility. E.g., a woman passed out in the bushes with her underwear pulled down while a couple of Swedes have Brock Turner under citizen’s arrest are more credible than some story about how the aliens totally downloaded a copy of my soul through my ass. Not that there aren’t plenty of, dare we say, shades of gray.

More Turner diaries? You fuckin’ betcha. We’re supposedly suffering from a rape epidemic wherever white bougie chicks go, but we’re also gushing without embarrassment about a lurid, cheaply written series of novels about a Criminal Minds-grade sadist serially humiliating his dipshit lover. Everyone got all worked up about Turner, even though he served a custodial sentence for a one-off crime of opportunity and now has to register as a sex offender, and even though the community where he committed his crime is exceptionally safe and orderly. It sure seems that we, as a society, are deliberately failing to reasonably assess threats. We’ve got desk-duty NYPD or someone serially murdering escorts on Long Island and dumping their remains on the beach, and that’s left to Newsday to cover while an opportunist from the swim team gets wall-to-wall coverage for a single rape that came nowhere near homicide.

The mob is baying for carceral overkill. Third-party observers got their jollies by raking Brock Turner’s dad over the coals for some tone-deaf remarks about how his boy couldn’t enjoy a nice steak on account of the rape charges. Well, for God’s sake, this was a distraught father whose son had just gotten into very serious legal trouble in an arbitrarily high-profile case. That isn’t evidence of rape culture, and it’s got no business influencing a verdict or a sentence. The deterrent effect of incarcerating rape convicts was served in the Turner case, and the judge got hounded out of office for his trouble, even though he sounded like a decent, modest man who wanted to do his job as fairly as he possibly could and was eager to hear constructive criticism about how he could do it better. He wasn’t in it to let Blondie off the hook; he just fell into the media/vigilante buzzsaw in a case that he was randomly assigned for giving a lenient sentence to a first-time defendant who was affluent enough to afford adequate legal counsel.

We’re obviously going at sentencing disparities from the wrong angle. We’re getting it ass-backwards. Turner’s sentence is closer to a reasonable sentence for a first-time, opportunistic rapist than any statutory maximum. The United States has way the hell too many people in prison for no good reason, mainly because some loudmouths won’t shut up about their raging bloodlust. There’s a relative handful of hardened, dangerous criminals who need to be in prison for a long time, maybe until they’re brought out in pine boxes: Chapo, Silverstein, Shoes Go Boom, Mr. Explodeypants. These four already have their permanent home on the range, conveniently down the tier from Professor Kaczynski in case they’re interested in a Ted Talk. Realistically, it’s the Ted Talk that’s interested in them, but they’re around for it regardless. That said, we can account for these thugs and hundreds of others who are less prominent but equally dangerous and still have well over 99% of our total prison population giving us absolutely nothing by virtue of their incarceration. All we get by throwing the book at the rest is the ruination of men we refuse to rehabilitate.

Yes, this includes forcible rapists, and it damn well includes opportunists who once took advantage of drunks, who occupy a crazier, more dangerous quantum than Anthony Weiner will ever explore. A just society with the rule of law would not throw reformed or even reformable sexual assailants to the wolves just because some busybodies who don’t have anything better to get upset about are preoccupied with the sexual degradation of rich white girls.

I don’t think I’m painting with an awfully broad brush. Precious little of the upset has been on behalf of the communities that are statistically most prone to sexual violence: white trailer parks, the ghetto, the barrio, the Rez. Rape a Stanford woman, though, and God save you from the lynch mob.

Again, I have a really eerie feeling about the abuse that’s been heaped on Brock Turner specifically. It’s much like what Bette Midler explicitly had to say about Geraldo Rivera: what he did was gross, but damned if he isn’t hot. The Turner case really doesn’t say much about current sexual assault jurisprudence, except for his placement on the sex offender registry for a first-time offense that did not result in serious bodily injury or death, but no one in the mob is looking at it from that angle because they’re all too busy with Two Minutes Hate. Turner’s crime was heinous by absolute standards, but relatively speaking, as sex crimes go, it was pretty minor, with a relatively low risk of lasting damage to his victim, the obvious exception being the transmission of venereal diseases. That’s the main thing I’d be worried about if I woke up to be told that a stranger had anally raped me while I was passed out drunk; otherwise, there’d just be a huge yuck factor.

Slightly off topic, yes, I support without reservation a rape exception to restrictions on abortion. We’ve got enough dysgenic horrors on the scene without forcing women to carry to term the products of rape, and we unfortunately do not remotely have the capacity to properly raise and care for unwanted children who likelier than not have been badly damaged by their own genetic backgrounds and circumstances of conception.

The basic problem with all of this shit is that an awful lot of people won’t level with themselves or with anyone else about what they really mean. Fundamentally, harassment or assault has to be unwanted. Dagmar Midcap pinching my nipples because she’s drunk off her rocker wouldn’t be nearly as bad as Lieutenant Tittytorque having an inexplicably homoerotic moment on me for a straight guy with a live-in girlfriend. As I discussed in an earlier screed, he had that bit of fun at my expense, and I’ve gotten over it. I’m not Bette Midler. Bette Midler, who is Bette Midler, is being given the latitude not to get over her ancient Gerry Grab, presumably because she’s Bette Midler and that can’t possibly be privilege enough.

Then we’ve got the weird funhouse experience of Matt Lauer’s quid pro quo mania being a summary firing offense and Garrison Keillor having once been an apologetically touchy-feely sperg is also a summary firing offense. How much of this, we might ask, is a function of preferring the idea of an extended Matt Moment to a brief Prairie Horn Companion? This stuff starts to seem awfully subjective, and awfully unfair. And that’s ignoring questions about why exactly all these scandals are emerging right now. Here comes that deep state feeling again. Maybe. It’s hard to say for sure whether this is actually a belated month of reckoning for powerful workplace perverts or a live-action Archer episode. Having heard what I’ve heard about the military-media-industrial complex, I wouldn’t bet on morality here.

Something disturbing to keep in mind is that our general conceptions of sexual harassment seem to involve rather little actual harassment and rather much of, gee, I can’t imagine why Danny Pino is staring at Mariska Hargitay’s ass so intently. This is a longstanding problem: the infamous VA sexual harassment training video from the early nineties (say, Bette Midler’s confessional moment with Baba Wawa!) certainly had preternaturally good-looking acting talent (okay, not so talented, exactly) for an in-house government PR department production. Judging from that masterpiece, complete with the black VA director in the narrator’s chair next to the fireplace, Alistair Cooke-style, sexual harassment means a handsome sleazeball leering at a hot secretary in a miniskirt while she retrieves some files for him. That is, our hard-earned tax dollars and shit went to the production of a federal pornographic film, or, to be magnanimous, a shitty soap opera that didn’t even attempt a plot.

The common Freudian slip about “sexual harassment training,” which I deliberately used above, is instructive, as was that crappy video. There’s no end to the vicious things that a supervisor can do to a direct report in an office, but for some reason no one in this country likes to look at the majority of these scenarios that aren’t sexually charged. That’s how irresistible it is to watch derivative softcore porn premised on the crucial files being in the lowest drawer in the cabinet. Hmm.

Let’s get our heads out of our asses, and the gutter: that’s an ergonomic problem much more than it is a hostile environment problem, but it’s easily enough solved by also having cabinet at, say, crotch height (hey!) and chest height (hey hey hey!), quite unlike situations in which all the strawberries are growing on the same mound and you’ll ruin your back picking them and then go home to the rundown shack where you’re hotbunking in Watsonville. Great: more First World Problems. Do pair this White Whine with a Manchego Fuck Yourself.

It’s worth asking why this beleaguered sweet thing couldn’t just tell the jerk to knock it off if she catches him sneaking that look. Italian women deal with subway gropers by yelling at them to keep their grubby hands to themselves and then activating the quorum for a purse smackdown until the next stop, which is suddenly the pervert’s destination. In this case, though, we’ve got a woman who has chosen to dress a bit revealingly for an office job, and we’re to feel outraged on her behalf whenever some minor sleaze finds a pretext to enjoy the view.

This feels awfully like a situation in which we want women to be strong enough to function somewhat normally in office settings but not strong enough to stand up for themselves and stop being submissively sexy. Cui bono here? The Hillary Clinton campaign, for one. The elements that benefit from having women feel beleaguered in normal professional situations are consistently rotten and self-serving. There’s a real air of learned helplessness, in fact, programmed helplessness, to this arrangement. It’s hard to see how all these PSA’s and training materials stop sexually aggressive men from being gross around the office, since these were never ones to be scrupulous before the rules in the first place, but it’s quite easy to see how all this concern is just another way to bathe an entire society in sexually provocative content.

It’s exhausting to even think about why this campaign has been undertaken. Is it to implicitly distinguish the alpha men from the beta bitch boys? Is it just to satisfy the lawyers? Is it to give underemployed writers, screen actors, and PR dipshits something to do for a living? Is it a deep-cover entertainment project masquerading as HR compliance? The whole project seems to have a very limited number of ways to go right and limitless ways to go wrong. #TheMoreYouKnow, asshole.

We do enjoy good-looking men and above-average children, but strong women not so much. Women who stand up for themselves just aren’t as much psychosexual fun, and they leave the otherwise useless parts of the administrative apparatus with nothing to do. This is one of the unfortunate situations in which my Boy Scout training comes in handsy–I mean, handy: Chesterfield my leg, so I slapped him! Yelling works, too.

Mind you, no one in charge of this joint is about to condition the help to be comprehensively assertive before management. That would really fuck up some rice bowls, and this crew knows that the white-n-fluffy comes first. Operant conditioning that trains those receiving it to refuse and resist operant conditioning is self-defeating, and in spite of all the harebrained, redundant, pointless, inherently contradictory campaigns of nonsense that HR and PR think up and deploy, they’ve got enough Bernaysian master manipulators on board not to corrupt the language of the core operating system.

Great. Another piece about sexy fun time ended up being about some kind of pie-in-the-sky Benedict Option Jeffersonian resistance campaign waged through samizdat and backchannel peer-to-peer networking and all that kind of shit. If you came by for Dubai Porta Potty, and most of you still do, you’re most welcome.

But this is where it must end. Go in piss. I have train and bus reservations yet to make, through Cleveland. No, I will not be traveling by steamer. I have no idea why one would think to do such a thing when there has been direct train service for well over a century and, pride of th’American side or otherwise, it’s a long trip past Sault Ste. Marie. Ring a church bell in Detroit if you get worried, since you might as well ring it for the fucking locals, too, the way they’ve been running that place.

All the same, I see no need to fly and look down on anyone. American and Boeing fucked up my ears and sinuses badly enough when I was finally starting to get some sleep last night that I don’t mind literally taking the low road. Yes, the Water Level Route. Yes, to Cleveland, with a connection to Fred’s Trolley Town. No, not on a steamer. I can’t help you. You’ll have to go steam your own.

Edmund Fitzgerald, pray for us all.

I, for one, would rather have Geraldo Rivera grab my ass than permanently wreck my own body cutting cauliflower for bourgeois ingrates

That’s a much more coherent and pertinent statement than it should be. I’m skeptical about the syntax, but like Geraldito before the society ladies, it shall stand.

Since Wow Much travels None homeland Very disorient has me on the road to the LAX Flyaway garage for a bus to Las Vegas and a redeye to Chicago (OJ took his straight from LAX on a walkup ticket), we’ll have to make this one a quickie. Forget it, Fogerty, I can’t spend all night stuck in Lodi again.

NPR ran a piece this evening about how farm workers are getting all old and sickly and worn out from repetitive stress. This supposedly has something to do with Donald Trump having put a scare into the wetbacks, cutting off the supply of fresh blood in the fields. Funny thing, though, I recall exactly the same bellyaching about the allegedly intransigent and obstructive anti-immigration forces under Obama and Bush II, so it’s a bit hard to believe that the Donald is causing the planter class to have an unprecedented sad. It’s always the same old fucking song: we don’t have enough Mexican peasants to do the dirty grunt work that our ever-softening native stock refuses to perform, and the only way to resolve this tragedy is to import more Mexican peasants in some fashion or other, legal, illegal, or whatever. If we don’t expedite another incoming batch of Michoacanos, the crops will rot in the fields and we will cause the baby Jesus to cry at the sight.

Agency has an eerie way of coming and going without notice at NPR. In this case, extreme, debilitating repetitive stress is something that just kind of happens, like an early fall rain or some shit. It is assumed that farm work will inevitably ruin the bodies of those doing it, bodies that will no less inevitably be Mexican. I, Jonqui, have done commercial farm work in every one of the past five growing seasons, so I want to reach out and choke these motherfuckers in a proper Hot Ghomeshi, provided that it isn’t too rough on my wrists. These blame idiots can’t imagine that there are bad public policies or managerial decisions that directly make farm work ruinous to the health and safety of those undertaking it.

The growers for whom I’ve done most of my commercial work care deeply and sincerely about the occupational safety of their employees, but somehow NPR never manages to find anyone in the industry who steps up to the fucking plate and makes sure that the help get enough rest, rotation between tasks, and time off for medical appointments to keep themselves in decent health. I’m sure there’s no shortage of millionaire growers with excuses involving competitive markets and low commodity prices for why their employees are in physical ruins by fifty, because the industry is definitely crawling with owners and upper managers who blame everything that goes wrong on their properties, from wage theft to sexual extortion to Joel Salazar-grade drinking water shortages to failures to provide adequate portapotties and the resulting combination of skipped lunches and turds in the weeds, on low-level managers and third-party contractors who, conveniently enough, are Mexicans or foreign-passible Chicanos. One of the most reliable things about the more troubled parts of the industry, along with the endless bitching about how Americans are too soft for the work and there aren’t enough Mexicans to take up the slack, is that whenever some scandal takes root–whenever some crew boss demands sexual favors from the women under his authority and beer offerings from the men, say, or disappears to Fresno with a week’s worth of pay for two dozen employees still payable and no one having the foggiest clue of where or how to track him down–there’s never a clear chain of command or working grievance process. There’s never anyone in a position of power who is identifiable, accountable, and available for service of legal process. The people who actually run the show are somehow never responsible when people working in supervisory positions under their authority and direction turn out to be rapists, extortionists, deadbeats, derelicts, or fly-by-night cheats. All they have to do to avoid liability for their failure to exercise due diligence is to insist that they were in no position to exercise due diligence.

It’s great work if you can get it.

From the perspective of the peasant reserve army that grows our food, not to mention that of Americans who have an unreasonable amount of trouble finding or landing farm jobs for which they’re perfectly qualified (hey there), sob stories about Bette Midler getting groped by Geraldo Rivera become tiresome. It gets hard to believe that it’s newsworthy when Jennifer Lawrence gets up on her high horse again about nosy perverts violating her sacrosanct Christian womanhood. Athletes who take a knee during the National Anthem are making a broader, more principled point than their own positions, sometimes (e.g., Colin Kaepernick) at significant professional and financial expense. The gripes coming out of the studios seem rather more selfish and narrow. We’re talking about people whose very existences smack of immense privilege admitting that they didn’t have the guts to tell off bigshots for being sex pests or blow the whistle at the time but, now that there’s a bandwagon to catch, oh, gosh, it was totally problematic all along.

It’s ridiculous and over-the-top to think that Bette Midler’s one-time entrapment in a Gerry Grab decades ago is a high priority for public discussion and redress. For the love of God, she’s Bette fucking Midler. A Guyland blowhard grabbed her ass: not commendable for the Guylander, but not a particularly noteworthy trauma, either. When I was in college (merely freshman; aaand I won’t be held responsibllllle), I ran with some senior drinking buddies that included the rudest, coarsest imaginable anthracite country motherfuckers. One of these guys sometimes got roaring drunk, yelled at me to take shots of Jim Beam, and pinched my nipples. I find it hard to believe that Geraldo at his worst doesn’t have more class than that vulgar bastard at his best, and I notice that I still haven’t gotten any lucrative screen roles as a result of putting up with Lieutenant Tittytorque.

Accuse me, if you will, of writing a Story Whore submission about my PTSD, of demanding that you let me TELL you about my trauma. I’m really just trying to keep this shit in some perspective. I don’t get the feeling that Bette Midler would think for a hot second about trading places with some lady who’s been cutting cauliflower sixty hours a week for two decades, can’t find a place at the ranch to refrigerate her insulin, and more often than not has stigmata in her wrists.

Maybe we can give platforms to people who have actually suffered physically doing crucial manual labor for a change? That NPR story should be the one that’s part of an intensive ongoing series. The heavy airtime shouldn’t be going to an A List actress who’s suddenly sore about how she once caught Geraldo’s hands on her rump that one time back in the nineties. Forgive me for thinking that this story makes Seinfeld look deep and is the Whitest White Whine since the dumbass who complained that a family vacation to Europe conflicted with some MyPanera points that were about to expire.

This is what a society gets when it takes every sign of its own class consciousness out into the back forty with a twelve gauge and a shovel. It ends up ignoring recurring Daniel Holtzclaw situations because none of the parties are sexy enough and progressively recalibrating its threshold of titillation from Fifty Shades of Gray to Brock Turner to two rueful seconds of Hands-On Geraldo. That is, from the degradation of easily bored bougie chicks to college girls in distress to starlets in what should frankly be mere annoyance. If Geraldo Rivera as the perp is a mitigating factor, Bette Midler as the victim certainly is. This, not homelessness or grinding full-time employment at poverty wages, is our idea of adversity: a famous movie star getting her ass squeezed without permission exactly once.

This is why I prefer to pigsploit that other Gerald and, as I like to say, rundel in the jungle. Jethro Tull may not be all right with that, but Colby Cosh will certainly agree that farming fish is a real trade in a world that could use more people working in real trades, and that I did not, I repeat, did not, just sing a crappy comedy-folk song about anybody. Be thankful as I hit the road and sleep in a rest area again tonight.

Travels with G. K. Chestrubber

Geez, Ole, it sounds like the Keillor boy, the one who went down to the Twin Cities to seek his fame and fortune, let the power go to his head and got himself involved in a little ja, don’tcha know. Now, I’ll always remember what Lina said when you came downstairs from your deathbed and snuck yourself a taste of the lutefisk, how she slapped you and said, “Ole! It’s fur de funeral!”, but geez, he looks like he could use one himself.

Be well, bitch.

Watching Matt Lecher and Lord Ewbegone get the ax on the same day was of some interest to me as a new Safeway knockoff Rogaine user. Lauer has always been an exceptionally handsome man. He was able to come to the studio with late-onset male-pattern baldness, a crappy buzz cut, and the shabbiest beard this side of Al Roker and still leave no doubt that he was handsomer than he looked. Keillor has the opposite problem, an enviably full head of hair that doesn’t keep him from looking like a bulldog with an untreated neurological condition affecting the face. CBS, for its part, managed to play a less glaringly bad hand even worse by seating its morning hosts on dumbass bar stools that made Harry Smith look like he was about to wipe his ass with a handkerchief. I don’t want to beclown myself by saying that there are lessons we can learn from these sorry spectacles, but we can always look on and snicker. After all, NBC wasn’t paying Matthew Todd Wankin’ $25 mil a year for us not to watch.

That said, I didn’t come by just to indulge in gross imagery about overpaid and overrated broadcast celebrities. Most of my traffic is still (of course) for Dubai Porta Potty, so it’s the rest of you who should apologize for your taste, not me for mine, but still, what interests me about the latest gents to get sprayed by this artesian well of sexual grievance isn’t just who’s the better-looking bald guy or who can’t stop wasting his shabbily coiffed hair on his own face. These pages are effortposts, and that alone, good dirty fun though it is, doesn’t justify the time or energy to hammer out a screed. What actually brings me over tonight, rather, is the sick ways in which Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor interact with and inform the atrocious American class system.

Lauer is a middlebrow reporter who won a crapshoot in the big leagues and became filthy rich doing the yeoman’s work of broadcast news presentation on the main stage. He’s exceptionally gifted, to be sure, but there are countless dozens or hundreds of equally well put-together on-air reporters and anchors biding their time at two-bit affiliates out in the bumfuck middle of nowhere for a hundredth of his pay, or less, and the vast majority of them aren’t going anywhere better or more prestigious because there just aren’t enough openings. If Mark Finan or Joe Calhoun, say, were kicked up to the Rock, it’s unlikely that they’d choke under the pressure. The business still has its tendentious dipshits, like Ed Weinstock, the white Art Fennell, and Art Fennell, the black Ed Weinstock, and they’re hardly the worst to be found, but there’s still a huge oversupply of impressive on-air talent languishing in the provinces compared to the tiny number of front-of-the-house openings at headquarters.

Explain for yourself why in the everloving hell Hoda Kotb isn’t working in Mobile or Omaha. I don’t have an answer for everything; sometimes #TheMoreYouKnow, the less you understand, and some of these decisions are beyond forgiveness. Forgiveness. Even if, even if. Of course that was awful, but keep in mind that I’m trying to avoid spending an entire screed writing about downers like NBC.

If I were writing this stuff for financial gain, I suppose Don Henley could sue me for copyright infringement. I have to say that I’m disappointed to see that that ditty wasn’t by Bryan Adams, because that would have made for a smoother segue into our latest recapitulation of Kwesi Millington’s reputation management lawfare against the CBC. I hope you weren’t too shocked to hear about him again. Matt’s able to sue NBC for firing him just for being a handsy fucker with a secret button under his desk to remotely lock his office door because he’s Matt Motherfucking Lauer, bitch.

That, and because our fine continent’s news trusts have deep pockets. What the hell did Northside Juice have to offer a plaintiff’s attorney? Horsemanship lessons for his daughter and the neighbor kids? Actually, Lauer must be in a pretty strong position just for knowing where all the bodies are buried around the Rock. All Meatless Muscle and his legal muscle were doing was shaking the old council oak to see if anything good would fall out. However Matt Lauer and his lawyers are shading their case, what they’re doing by demanding a payout is blackmailing NBC, which, conveniently enough, is the most scandalous, blackmail-prone of the big three networks. One cannot imagine how the network that rehabilitated Donald Trump would have anything to hide.

Matt Lauer was an interchangeable part on a middlebrow morning news program whose host network surely has talent scouts who could call any number of reliable reporters up to the major league from the farm teams to replace him. He’s a talented but not all that exceptional guy who lucked into a rare spot as a headliner and spent the next two decades milking it for all it was worth. This is where the incentives and the behavior turn perverse. It’s precisely because he squeezed so much money out of NBC for so long that he’s now able to squeeze it for even more money because it fired him for cause. Any normal person working in any normal job wouldn’t be able to do anything of the sort. With luck, a nobody who just got fired for sexual harassment on company time might be able to threaten to blow the whistle on illegal or unethical practices involving others and get paid to shut up. More likely, the outcome would be walking away in disgrace, scarlet letter duly affixed, and on the precipice of financial ruin.

Of all the people who need the money after an adverse employment termination, Matt Lauer has to be the damn near the last. Unless he’s been a Michael Jackson-grade spendthrift for twenty years straight, he’s loaded. I’ve seen estimates of his contract being worth up to $25 million a year. At that rate, he could maintain a very solidly upper-middle-class income just on the investment proceeds of one year’s worth of net income from his NBC gig.

In a sane and equitable society, that would mean something, as would the sheer gratitude for having gotten away with sexually predatory behavior under company auspices for years and made good money the whole time. Matt doesn’t live in any such society. He is shaking NBC down for the same reason that a dog licks its own balls: because he can.

Garrison Keillor operated at a lower level of show business for a smaller, more marginal audience, and for quite a bit less direct payment, but he has had a much more notable and, I dare say, pernicious effect on a key demographic of American society. He made a living by poisoning the minds of liberal yuppies in a way that no one else could quite figure out how to do.

Matt Lauer neither reified nor attenuated the fresh hell that is NBC. That mercenary piece of shit could be paid to read goddamn anything on air with a subtly pained but straight face. He could be paid to ask any brain-dead question of any equally brain-dead celebrity that the producers and marketers thought would sell. He never gave a rat’s ass about whether or why some vainglorious asshole was banging some other bumptious fuckjob or about some fashion model moron’s thoughts on geopolitics and how her new clothing line could help.

Again, this is one of the things we can say in Jerry Springer’s defense: though a Londoner by birth and a New Yorker by upbringing, by vocation and avocation both he is a true Cincinnatian. It would be gross to call his feelings about his calling to national broadcasting love, but he makes a solid living doing what he quite enjoys. Whenever Lauer was interviewing some moronic asshole or doing Phineas Gage-grade call-and-response water cooler talk with his fellow overpaid mercenaries in a fake living room, he had a silent internal script running, which kept telling him, what the fuck, man, you’re a tragedy for dignifying this fucking garbage.

I can say the same thing in my own defense that I can say in Jerry’s, only more so. Sleeping in my car two or three nights a week doesn’t force me to debase myself like that, and neither do farm work or the deposit bottle hustle. Chaka Can. Chaka Can. Chaka Fattah’s making less money than that these days, Chaka Can. Make of it what you will that the Dunkin’ Doorman is a civic improvement over Matt Lauer for not having to pretend to be interested in anything other than coffee money.

Keillor’s problem is that his shtick comes from the heart, and his heart is deeply troubled. He tapped into a guiltily, unmentionably avaricious yuppie liberal zeitgeist and focused and reinforced it in perniciously unhealthy ways. We’ll all be dealing with the fallout for a decade or two to come.

Being the alumnus of a fancy-ass school crawling with Main Liner shitheads and wannabes drives this point home. No, I’m not referring to Lancaster Country Day School; that’s a bit of an eccentric outfit, and a plenty wealthy and privileged one, but it’s all right. I refer, of course, to the Big Dick. GO DIPLOMATS!

When I was back for Homecoming over the fall, this alumni council hotshot whom I supposedly shocked by saying that I’d go to a state school in California if I had to do it over again got all defensive on our asses about how he had done pretty well for a hick from Missouri. First of all, I know damn fucking well what Humboldt State is like for a non-matriculant, and I’m not pig-ignorant about Chico, either, town or gown, so I didn’t pull any of that out of my ass. Second, I took our Show Me dude to be just another puffed-up dipshit from the Main Line. It never would have occurred to me that he was from Missouri; the other Missourians I’ve known are mostly chill as fuck, not defensive, disingenuously self-deprecating dorks. If I want to make fun of a Missourian, I have plenty of material on the Highway Patrol; maybe this fool was jealous of Flexineck and the Bone Crusher for hogging my attention. I’m not the one who had a problem with him for being from hick-ass Missouri; that was his problem, and his alone. My dad was raised by a mother who had gone to business school and a K-State grad who had been the first in his family to go to college, both of them from rural Kansas, and none of their kids turned out stupid. The University of Nebraska has fallen victim to some pretty disgusting political interference, but I never figured that it became a powerhouse in climate science by collecting a bunch of retards.

If we’re in the business of making regional judgments, Pot-o-Shit Friend doesn’t say anything good about people from Providence by way of Baltimore who move to Oregon, or whatever the fuck he did, other than be a hipster who, in spite of his trash can, didn’t look like he got enough to eat. I heard bits and pieces, but I never cared enough to investigate. Joe Dirtbag was all like, oh, you’ll hit it off with him, he’s from Baltimore; obviously an erstwhile Philadelphian wants nothing more than to yuk it up with an Old Bay-ass weenie in Coke bottle glasses who has all the force of personality and muscle tone of a wet noodle. So, no, I don’t go touring the Midwest in search of my shit-in-a-bucket constituencies; Midwesterners are sensible enough to appreciate indoor plumbing, and the ones who aren’t I expect to find me in Oregon.

What’s relevant about this particular Missourian is that he’s yet another dipshit who’s got a chip on his shoulder about his backwards hometown. Garrison Keillor’s shiznit appeals to every social climber who thinks everyone else from back home was a hopeless smallminded dolt. He got every fucking valedictorian in the country listening to the same twee, condescending horseshit spoken-word stories about local-yokel simpletons in the Great White North. He got many of them to buy his series of companion novels and read his sermons in the Washington Post. 

Look, I’ve dealt with some fucked up country bumpkins in Pennsylvania, so I don’t assume that life in rural Minnesota is all sunshine and lollipops. I can imagine that it sucks, that it can be awfully stifling and if nothing else bloody fucking cold. Moving to the Twin Cities or, hell, to Santa Barbara might make some sense. The thing about the Lake Wobegon stuff, though, is that it’s so sappy and sentimental. Like, are there really entire towns in Minnesota populated by these stuffy, simpering, tendentious dorks? Listening to these crappy vignettes, I couldn’t help but think that they didn’t square with what I’d been able to pick up about the rural Midwest, specifically, that they were markedly worse. Garrison Keillor routinely ran stuff whose production value was only marginally better than the “Up the Snitz Creek” columns in the Lebanon Daily News. I shit ye not: that was a real column, and it’s a real creek that I’ve never since been comfortable crossing. It’s understandable that such items would be run by the shittiest possible newspaper of record, but Keillor got his crap syndicated on NPR.

There’s no charitable explanation. Here we’ve got this wheezing, sighing, bulldog-looking cunt up on stage telling longwinded, gratingly sanctimonious stories about the retarded minutiae of small-town gossip interspersed with bluegrass jingles about an imaginary brand of fucking biscuits, the kind of childish, nonsensical horseshit you might have to sit through at your second-grader’s school play, and he’s putting it on for an audience of neurotic overachievers who are force-feeding their own teenage children AP coursework and extracurricular activities until they drop.

Again, this toolbox was producing this elaborately twee shit for an audience of highly educated, affluent adults. Mr. Rogers must not have been too emotionally even-keeled and modest for their tastes. That’s what happens when there’s an actual adult in the room who has the decency to act like one: hey, let’s put on our zip-up sweaters and go tour this pencil factory, then we’re gonna talk about some heavy psychological shit, like, death and bullying and stuff, but I’ll try not to upset you, and then, for the fun part, I’m sending you on a special Honey I Shrunk the Kids trolley through a wormhole into a funhouse land ruled by a freaky-ass genderfluid king whose neighborhood mailman is legit bipolar, but don’t worry, you should never feel embarrassed to talk to a grown-up if any of this starts feeling weird.

I’ll actually be on the real Pittsburgh subway-surface trolley system next week, which I assume is also run by and for adults. Yeah, Wow Much travels None homeland Omg mr mcfeely Very disorient. Our old boy Keillor, though. Holy shit. That twit was always ever-so-gently ribbing the yuppies, as if a pleasantly warm slow roast was praxis because, my gosh, dear hearts and gentle people, we all have our foibles. Actual independent thought about the yuppies would be more like the old-school Comiskey Park shit, but nobody ever had the stones to bring a “Go Home Yuppie Scum” sign to the Fitzgerald Theater. Nobody was about to get uppity in there and encourage anyone else to pack that fancy-pants shit up and take it back up to Addison. That would require taking a firm stance, you see. That would require principles.

‘Twould harsh the mellow, and one can’t have that. We’re all just here for an evening of forced levity and shitty spoken-word bildungsroman stories about how we’re all just plain and simple country folks, that we might momentarily forget, and yet be subliminally reminded, that little Taylor here won’t amount to a damn thing in life if she doesn’t get into Haverford. We certainly wouldn’t want her to take a job at some gas station in Anoka County, surrounded by this evocatively narrated town full of hopeless losers.

Garrison Keillor lived his way into some kind of spiritual picture of Dorian Gray situation. I’ve been reading that he wasn’t such a bitter yuppie blowhard and smug, precious dork back in the eighties, when he first became a big deal. It seems that over the years his shtick became both softer and more vicious, that it mutated from jaded, occasionally abrasive truthtelling into its current format of cheap easy-listening hate radio. Like all too many other liberal yuppies, he’s gotten salty about Trump and Trump’s voters for all the wrong reasons, blowing whatever moral high ground and credibility he might have had on self-righteous pot shots. He’s pissed off at all the losers back home who made fun of him in high school and now have trouble getting by on their gutted pensions from the cement factory or whatever, his premise being that they have no reason to be sore about their lot but he has ample reason to be sore about them for being sore. He’s got teenage grudges against people who spent decades barely scraping by in honorable and productive but tenuous lines of work while he jawboned his way to fortune and fame, but reliving high school at his age is less embarrassing than putting on variety show items that would annoy a precocious fourth-grader.

So here he is now, laid low by accusations that are impressively PG-rated. He touched some woman on her bare back when she was upset. He lustfully tried to console a bitch. I’ve been hearing through back channels about stage shows where he got visibly horny with the women performing alongside him, to their discomfort, e.g., some half-assed Al Franken shit. Don’tcha fucking know, Ole. Sven, ya catchin’ any o’ this? Some great Minnesota ethnic diversity we got right here; too bad I’m not awake or culturally aware enough to make fun of the Finns, too. These guys sound pretty rude and obnoxious, but the Keillor stuff especially sounds like it could be handled by telling him, hey, maybe don’t do that again, and I’ve gotten my nipples pinched–not mime-groped, straight-up pinched while I was fully awake–by way the hell worse than Franken. The guy who did it would have been a hardcore douchebag even if he’d kept his hands off my tits. It was some kind of anthracite country problem drinking thing, or maybe this guy and his buddies were just fucking assholes. I dunno.

Geraldo, though? If Geraldo sexually harassed me, I’d have no choice but to consider it a high privilege and honor. I’d want John Tesh to perform a big band number about the incident. I can’t help it; it’s some kind of Long Island deep cultural immersion thing. If sexual aggression is about power, the power might as well come from a true son of the Guyland (Joey Buttafuoco works, too), not from some simpering Minnesota dipshit who’s all bashful that he was caught not being nice. I’m still straight, now, you hear? Okay, the John Tesh comments didn’t do much to confirm that.

But holy hell, are we actually having a conniption because Garrison Keillor put a hand on some crying lady’s back? Is this for real, dawg? I get that we want to discourage sexually forward behavior on the part of those who are too arrogant or socially stunted to respond normally to social cues, but fuckin’ A, we seem to be raising the bar pretty high here and then kvetching that a notorious dork didn’t clear it. And now Minnesota Public Radio is talking about renaming A Prairie Home Companion. They’ve got a different, more Southern-fried earnest mofo at the helm now, and they’re still worried that we’ll associate the show with this tainted dirty old man who once touched a woman’s back and maybe leered at some other chicks.

Here’s an idea: A Prairie Ho Companion. I doubt it’ll be the best work of art about Chicago hookers, but it’ll be better than Sister Carrie. 

This is what I get for not doing my assigned reading in school. I’m out of work again and banging this stuff out at one in the morning for an audience of maybe a dozen. What can I say? Dreiser sucks major ass. And it figures that Lake Wobegon doesn’t have a town whore; it doesn’t have anyone with remotely normal emotional patterns. Hey baby, your chatterbox isn’t working so great on my powdermilk biscuit, if you know what I mean. Hey, Noir, I know you’re watching us, so can you tell me what’s wrong with this chick’s mouth that she can’t get my dick up?

That’s some fucked up fan fiction from a guy (hey, now!) who isn’t even a fan, but it’s normal human dialog informed by normal human interaction. More or less. That’s a low bar to clear because I’m trying to beat a thrice-married dork who acts like the old maid running the village schoolhouse in one segment and an autistic seven-year-old in the next. I’m nowhere close to going fully native.

It’s really funny, as in hilarious and odd both, that this sickly, wheezing, bulldog-looking dork who’s suddenly in trouble for touching a woman on her back while she was wearing a low-cut dress or some shit had a recurring segment that he ended with a line about how all the women are strong and all the men are good-looking. Can you imagine anyone from this crowd raising children who aren’t neurotic fuckups? Garrison Keillor having a regularly scheduled segment in which he talks explicitly about a community full of handsome men is like Matt Lauer going out on the street to look for ugly guys: “Hey there, Savannah, we’re out here in Crown Heights to look for the ugliest motherfucking Jews, and we’ve already found some butt-ugly kikes. Take a look.”

Admit it: that would be an awesome thing to watch Matt Lauer sunnily deadpan. I don’t care how offensive some overly sensitive twit may find it. Normally I’d be hesitant to write anything quite that coarse, but in this case it’s relevant, pretty far out there by any normal standard but not gratuitous. The blunt truth of it is that we are not dealing with normal standards here. We’ve got these self-serious dipshits on our broadcast media studiously pretending that there’s no such thing as the Id while the Id rears its ugly head all around us, more flagrantly than usual. Garrison Keillor is in trouble for barely touching a woman in a manner that few people would find edgy, and Al Franken for posing for a photo in which he pretends to grope a fellow performer’s breasts while she’s asleep. Meanwhile the sitting President of the United States faces no consequences for habitually blurting out fantasies about how he’d like to assault his enemies, sexually and otherwise, for being the target of dozens of specific accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and forcible rape, and for having bragged about his incestuous attraction to his own biological daughter.

When the rape culture critics insist that Trump has to face consequences as an example to other sexual assailants, they’re absolutely right. That fucker makes Bob Packwood look like St. Anthony. We can’t be serious about deterring sexual assault, especially from positions of power, when we’re knowingly tolerating a sitting president who won’t stop openly acting like a Borgia Pope. A consistent standard of intolerance for sexual exploitation from positions of power would require the removal of Donald Trump from office for being a ragingly scandalous lecher.

The same thing goes for all his other abuses of power. This guy’s deal isn’t that he likes to get laid. That may actually be what’s up (heh) with Franken and Keillor, and even to some extent with Lauer. (That remote-control lock button, though.) Trump is a grand sadist, rather like Hillary Clinton, but with different focuses. The cultural rot goes deep enough that people are now saying in all seriousness that Matt asked Hillary tough questions at the debate just because he’s a misogynistic sexual harasser. I’ll say it again: I don’t hate Hillary Clinton because I’m a misogynist; I hate her because she’s a grandiose, gratuitously misandrist cunt. Among other reasons, of course. I’m not conceding the moral high ground to anyone who cackled about the assassination of Muammar Qaddafi, not one inch. What’s next: smearing Matt for calling Aileen Wuornos a creep? There must be a special place in hell for women who oppose her, too.

Me? I’m just going hypergraphic and Extremely Online again. My insolence doesn’t translate into power. Besides, come summer, I notice that the above-average aren’t picking a hell of a lot of fruit. That would get in the way of investment banking and shit.

Be Well, Do Good Work, and, ooh giggity giggity, Keep in “Touch.”

Advent for assholes

Sure enough, Dickinson Fucking College got in on Giving Tuesday. That crew never misses an opportunity to forcibly board a bandwagon and chase the almighty dollar. I know about this because I’m on the junk mailing lists. That isn’t why I signed up. I meant to stay abreast of events that might be worth attending and in touch with cool people, not constantly pestered for alms that I’d sooner give the Dunkin’ Doorman and, when I do show up at alumni events, gang-dissed by the most condescending shitheads on earth. They’ve got plenty of people other than me in their donor pool whose affluence is matched only by their vanity, but to call them out of the woodwork they have to blast everyone with their happy horseshit, and all who wander into range walk away dirtied.

Mind you, the Dunkin’ Doorman is still a reliable pain in the ass and a low funding priority, but he compares well. The only way I’ve gotten mixed up with him is by going into the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street from the Atlantic City bus station, and that means that there are two or three fine styles of ride ready to whisk me the fuck out of there at all hours of the day and night, and an even finer style of ride out past the outlets and the convention center. Dickinson collects the very worst people on the Main Line in a remote municipality that might as well not have mass transit. As New Jerseyans go, the Dunkin’ Doorman is a big improvement over the two Italian asshats at our table at alumni weekend, including a guy who was method-acting Rudy Giuliani. Those pushy, condescending motherfuckers didn’t need three minutes to set my feelings about the Italians back a century and a quarter. Instead of belittling me for not being a gung-ho fuckjob about our alma mater and dubiously referring verbatim to Dickinson’s increased “diversity,” which they barely were not, they ought to be quietly and humbly grateful that their wop-ass ancestors weren’t sent back to Sicily, just as I’m grateful that my grandfather wasn’t sent back to Russia for being a kike.

Okay, to England. Cheerio, cunts!

The Dunkin’ Doorman has never thought less of me for being the only whitey in the shop; he thinks less of me because I’m a jerk who won’t buy him a coffee. We judge one another by the content of our character, and I do mean judge. God bless America. As I insist, he’s one annoying son of a bitch, and I don’t seem to be the only person who feels that way, but at least he doesn’t constantly hector me about how a college education that has already cost my parents something like $140 for every day that I was present on campus is worth even more. Haven’t they already coughed up enough for that shit? How are the returns on an endowment principle of over $400 million plus enough to tuition per full-fare student to buy a nice house somewhere sensible not enough to keep that fucking joint afloat? Like public broadcasting, these needy assholes just need to suckle at every possible tit. The Dunkin’ Doorman wouldn’t mind doing that himself, and muscling in on some nonconsensual kaffeeklatsch in the process, but he’s a loser trying to get by in the ghetto (in the ghetto), not a fabulously well endowed college with a rather affluent parent and alumni base.

The faculty, who actually worth a damn, aren’t all stacking mad cash from that gig, but Bill Durden was worth something like $7 million and a free mansion. The general problem here is that charitable organizations are allowed to pay their executives whole multiples of the maximum pay grades available to career civil servants and still maintain their tax-exempt status, no questions asked. The specific problem is that Bill Durden’s fair market value crashed to parity with the Dunkin’ Doorman’s by 2004 at the latest, and then he got involved in a criminal conspiracy involving the college police department and at least two of its very bad cops. Dickinson could have rotated up any number of career faculty members who wouldn’t have wasted our attention telling longwinded bullshit stories about our dear intersectional Founding Fathers and would have been more likely than Durden to promptly clean house at DPS. Instead they recruited an over-the-top Mr. Chips dipshit who evolved into an ever more bizarre caricature of himself. Instead of putting someone accountable in the job, they tolerated a president who obfuscated and lied his way out of a serious crisis that was one whistleblower complaint to outside investigators away from possibly getting him criminally indicted.

What do Durden’s smitten alumni say? Oh, I know you feel he shouldn’t have done that, but he really improved the college’s standing. How can we fire Holtzclaw? His stats are great. Jerry Sandusky: An Appreciation of the Winningest Coach in the Conference. Put me in; I’m ready to play! How can we remove Bill Clinton from office? He’s a liberal! (He damn well is not.)

The Durd’s followers don’t consider the Darlington/Sexton/Fazio clusterfuck a dealbreaker, if they’ve heard of it, because they’re followers in a full-blown cult. Their precious college has a higher calling that putting an immediate stop to criminal wilding on its private police force. It has a higher calling than disclosing the scope of its campus police powers and activities as dictated by federal law. Let’s not die on these piddling hills. Let’s be prestigious instead.

Hence the Giving Tuesday appeal from *MY OLD SCHOOL*. This is where we get into even deeper, more pervasive cult brainwashing. Our national observances of the seasons keep crashing through false floors into ever-deeper circles of hell. We’ve long had Thanksgiving as an observance of late fall, and we’ve longer had Christmas and New Year’s Day as observances of winter. So far, so good. Jesus in fact is not the reason for the season. That’s cheap reactionary authoritarian horseshit. If you want to find Christianity in these pages, scroll back through the archives to the cat stuff. I’m not here to spit out comprehensive apologetics in defense of Christian-occult syncretism, and frankly these pages suffer from a 1:1,312 ratio of cat stuff to Northside Juice and the Shady Blues memes, give or take some math, and some professional standards. From the start, Christmas celebrations incorporated hella pagan imagery and rituals. The old pagans were into some deep shit involving the natural world, and so were the early Christians and the ancient Israelites.

The commercialization of the holiday season isn’t just atrocious Christianity; it’s also atrocious paganism. It’s an utter deracination from everything true and profound and edifying, a stupefying, literally goddamned waste. It is carefully crafted to alienate us from ourselves, our communities, any spirituality that we might discern, and our past, an elaborate, unceasing Bernaysian mindfuck. One could write off the bulk of Rod Dreher’s commentary as the theocratic nonsense of the religiously preoccupied and still be completely convinced that he’s absolutely right about the Benedict Option. Anyone from any tradition that values wisdom or independence of mind cherishes refuges from this hideous onslaught. I’m able to tolerate the hopped-up Christmas schmaltz that they’re playing in this Starbucks only because I’ve gone borderline insensate and need a wifi connection.

This shit has nothing to do with Christ or Christianity and hardly a thing to do with winter as any halfway attentive and perceptive person experiences it. It’s marketing copy in a society whose marketing copy has gone haywire. It wasn’t long ago, well within the time that I’ve been old enough to appreciate these things, that Black Friday was an obscure bit of retail industry shorthand, a term that a person not directly involved with retail would have known. It crept into the loudmouth business media around the turn of the millennium, and then the marketeers decided that it was the ticket to goad reluctant consumers into Stakhanovite overdrive.

If retailers’ business models were so shitty that they operated in the red for eleven months of the year, it’s hard to see how that was their customers’ problem; maybe they should have sold stuff that was somehow worth buying instead. But it is our problem now; they’ve made it our problem. They’ve programmed us to respond like Pavlov’s dogs to discounts on the shit they’re hawking.

Black Friday was historically the first big revenue day because Americans had the basic reverence to spend Thanksgiving doing something other than trampling their neighbors in doorbuster frenzies. This disappointed the marketeers, so they started conditioning the most programmable of us to desecrate Thanksgiving Day itself by excusing ourselves from family dinners, if we even went in the first place, with the most rapaciously venal profanity. They conditioned us to spend one of our most treasured national feast days camping out in front of department stores, waiting on arbitrary opening hours and artificial scarcities that had been calibrated for maximum operant conditioning.

Thanksgiving had always been one of our civic jubilee Sabbaths, a day when Denny’s would be open, as America’s Diner Always Is, but Best Buy would not. As Black Friday celebrations were instituted with ratcheting aggression, Thanksgiving became yet another day that retail employees could no longer expect their bosses to allow them some rest. Compulsory Sabbath observance was a huge labor-left agenda item back in the day; that’s why there’s no Sunday mail delivery. The US Mail is worth delivering on some kind of prompt and regular basis, but instead of 365-day mail delivery, we have assholes shoving each other on Thanksgiving night to get to the last discount flatscreen TV.

We’d have to move into monasteries to get away from this profanation of our high holidays. It isn’t just Black Friday anymore. We started hearing about Cyber Monday, when sheltered dipshits with cushy office jobs spend company time buying Christmas presents instead of thinking about how they wouldn’t gross one red cent picking fruit piecerate if they spent the day diddling around on their phones (you’re welcome), and then the me-too fringe constituencies that were jealous of all the attention big business was hogging started muscling in with their own official marketing days. Now we have Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday. What, pray tell, about the other 363 (or 364!) days of the year that might be available to shop at small businesses or give to charity? Shut up and pay up, asshole.

Dickinson College certainly doesn’t mind using the other 363. If they think there’s some milk to be had, they’re yanking the udder. Far be it from them not to pull that titty, or to ask permission before reaching for mine. As I said, they wouldn’t be able to call forth all the vain shitheads to give alms if they were humble, modest, or considerate.

This sort of invective rubs quite a few people the wrong way. They react to it as the ranting of killjoys. Who am I to be the bitch to kill their vibe? Who died and made me king of anything? Shit, Bareilles is weird as fuck, but she’s better than any of the assholes getting the heavy rotation on easy listening/Top 40 radio this time of year. If you’re listening to it, it’s for you, and if you’re listening to that, you’re one of the programmable ones.

I seek to kill that vibe because it sucks, to cure what’s deep inside my nation, frightened of the cost of airfare to Nairobi. Toto memes have nothing on what passes for Christmas music these days for sheer Potemkin Village idiocy. Bear in mind that I’m not complaining about anyone trying to give thanks, to be still and observe and contemplate the winter so as to understand it more deeply, or for that matter to meet basic material needs; far from it. But the holidays have been perverted into a full month of avarice and ingratitude, an orgy of thoughtless greed. I’m tempted to call it parochial, but this spirit is far too narrow to give a moment’s thought to the needs of an entire parish. The schmaltzy shit they’re playing at Starbucks, and I don’t feel like investigating how many other chain stores, has nothing to do with any of the deep truths of the season, let alone of life in general; it’s muzak engineered to deaden the mind and condition what we used to call citizens to spend more money on consumer goods that they don’t need while their poor neighbors, who still exist even in a society as fabulously wealthy as the United States, go without and are further marginalized into an even more humiliating existence.

Maybe, just maybe, the poor wouldn’t have such a hard time of it if the affluent and, to be even bolder, the shitbirds in the marketing departments conceded that there is some virtue to fasting and being still. Don’t say that it will never happen, but do realize that it’s a tall order, one requiring the reassertion of a long-lost independence of mind and civic courage. Thomas Jefferson, for all his grotesque flaws, damn well hoped that we’d turn out better than this as a nation. That’s why I’m Extremely Online, vomiting forth the liberal arts that I had to steal the time to study when I was in college. Tom Wolfe, as channeled by Jojo and Hoyt, was right: there is no such thing, for we are all slaves. Except for that dork Gellin and anyone who thinks he’s Patton for just for fucking up a rogue Chippie’s face in a street fight. Funny thing: that little beef wasn’t written up as a police discipline problem, either. Wolfe has a keen finger on our arrhythmic pulse.

You’re probably going to have to find your own way this holiday season, just as I have, and for uncountable seasons to come. We’ve got a whole shitload of operant conditioning to deprogram. America has come to be a society that abhors independent thought, even in its universities. The church halls used to be the bigger problem here, but lately there’s been more civics holding religion accountable than there has been informing education or civics itself. If nothing else, we have another month of hellish music having nothing to do with things of God and little to do with things of wintertime to suffer. We might have better Christmas music, even Christian music, but the marketing departments wouldn’t approve. I’m convinced that Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” has saved Londoners and Seattleites from winter suicides. I know, a lot of good it did the drunkard herself, and it’s only a strong hunch, but this is America, so that’s the least bizarre thing you’re allowed to believe without evidence. Great bell section, tho. It isn’t natural law that keeps our honest music so obscure; it’s privately administered positive law. Not that Americans are raised to consider that corporations can exercise any sort of tyranny, mind you.

So all I can offer in closing, on this day that we learned of Garrison Keillor’s pianissimo firing for workplace perv (writers alma knock it off, am I right?), is to note that we once again have Roy Orbison singing for the horny, and to offer what Nicolae Ceausescu counseled in his farewell address to his people:

Step into Christmas before Christmas steps into you.