Go shorty, it’s your, we’re gonna party, like it’s your, etc. What did I do for Earth Day? Jack shit, mostly. I picked up some bottles that had been littered on the roadside, but only for the deposits, I drove too damn much, I ate a big-ass pile of Safeway Chinese takeout out of an even bigger-ass plastic container, and I cut back some blackberries that were crowding out the good shit in a bit of wildland that I’ve very quietly adopted, really just to have something to do. Make that two activities out of four that were not ecological clusterfucks. I also went to mass in North Affluenza Heights, but that’s only tangentially relevant, as a way of explaining some of the excessive driving.
Even last night I thought a hot take to observe the day commemorating our increasingly hot earth might be in order. Then I woke up in my Focus, parked across the freeway from some still unhealed 140-year-old hydraulic gold mining scars, and got my White ass lucid just in time to tune into the latter half of Beth Ruyak”s interview with this fool, who, along with the Pacific Crest Trail quarterlife crisis lady, is responsible for this mealymouthed piece of faux-empathetic crap about personal responsibility for White People.
I’m originally from Palo Alto, but Steve Almond is from Palo Alto enough to have graduated from Gunn and then from Wesleyan. His entire family is named for California’s most notoriously thirsty nut, and that’s fucking poetic. I didn’t think to look up this dipshit’s background until Ruyak mentioned that he’d be going to an event in his old hometown, but it doesn’t take much research to see how unsurprising it is that this motherfucker grew up under the motherfucking Tree. Simpering, twee, overly earnest, hypocritical twits like Steve Almond are a prime Palo Alto export, and there’s enough coals-to-Newcastle bullshit in America’s SuperZIPs that they’re a leading import from other dynamic, forward-looking parts of the country responsible for two thirds of the American GDP as well.
This is why Almond lives in Allington, I mean, Arlington, now, the one in Massachusetts. These fuckheads never diffuse in a normal geographic pattern, as one would expect of any fluid. One would expect some of them to end up going to Sac State and settling in Visalia, because that’s all, you know, kind of close and Massachusetts is hella far away. They just have to go to good schools, after all. The funny thing is, they never actually go to either of North America’s good schools, specifically, Ryerson or Trinity Western. We have standards for our sheriffs, standards that they’ll never meet as long as they keep throwing furniture at the floor-to-ceiling window in the arrivals hall. Tsawwassen is a great place to take that hog for an evening spin, you know.
These assholes write off all but maybe thirty or fifty counties in a nation of over three thousand as places suitable for an undergraduate education, and then they go around accusing everyone else of being insular. Yeah, great logic there, guys. It’s inconceivable what they possibly do to offend their fellow citizens in the rest of the country.
The NYT Dear Sugars link above is, like its columnists, rich. The premise is that a conflicted member of the White Community is writing in to fish for permission to cut off her (his?) grown daughter, and maybe the other family twentager brat, and Almond and his writing partner Strayed (are these even real people?) of course say, yes, well, I mean, as long as it’s about your children’s maturation and you’re doing it in their interests, not in your own narrow interests as eager empty-nesters, then, sure, it’s cool to make the brats struggle and suffer to learn some empathy, just make sure to calibrate it so it isn’t cruel and unusual, and also make sure that you and your spouse are unanimous about it so the brats can’t leverage you against one another.
These are two professional writers, one of them with an MFA, being paid by a major newspaper and an NPR affiliate to condescendingly lecture upper-middle-class parents about how they have to be cruel to be kind to their children. Cheryl Strayed tells these parents to “give” their grown children “the gift of independence and self-sufficiency” which conveniently means no more gifts that impose any financial costs on the parents, and to let them struggle because they’ll learn shit about personal responsibility and being adults. Strayed’s own idea of young adulthood included getting divorced, through-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself, and fucking some random dirtbag she’d just met in his yurt in Ashland. None of this would have been possible had there not been thousands of other people along the way, presumably excluding the derelict asshat with the yurt, holding down the steady jobs needed to keep supply lines and other crucial services available to the general public on demand.
Like so many other through- and section-hikers, this bitch thinks she’s Meriwether Lewis because she didn’t die of starvation on a heavily trafficked, well-maintained public trail, much of it within a day’s hike of civilization. She’s here to yell at us for coddling our grown children and not making them learn about personal responsibility the hard way, never mind that her own brush with hard times in her own twenties was with that no-account Ashland bullshitter on the floor of his yurt. Sure, she wants the conflicted, guilt-ridden parents to give their brats some notice of their impending financial responsibility to the elders, but she publicly bragged about divorcing her husband and walking a thousand miles to fuck some irresponsible hippie loser in a yurt. I haven’t read the book, but I know these fuckers, and if that guy she shagged was a responsible, productive member of society, I’m Herbert Hoover. Of all the people who could give others advice on acting like a grown-up, how the fuck did the Times find her? It’s like having Rob Ford yell at passersby for being crack-smoking drunks.
Steve Almond’s contributions to this body of advice were about how Snowflake and company will never develop empathy if they don’t personally struggle in the fashion of other, lesser people. He wants it to be an educational experience, like the Peace Corps or Teach for America or a semester abroad. I’m not exaggerating:
Remember, convenience is the gateway drug to entitlement. It drains people of their empathy, because it fosters the illusion that they can proceed through life without hardship. This makes it harder for them to imagine others who are facing hardship. This is important to remember, because your kids are almost guaranteed to react with petulance, defiance and/or guilt provocation. They’ll feel betrayed and probably push you away. But that’s not the worst of it. The worst of it is that they’ll struggle in ways that they haven’t had to previously. As parents, our instinct is to protect our children from this kind of unhappiness. But when we try to shield our kids from the imperfections of the world, they become imprisoned in childhood….Too much of what we call modern parenting has become devoted to the false notion that we can protect our children from every danger posed by the world. We can’t. We can, at best, help them develop the tools (intellectual, emotional, psychological) to contend with these dangers. And by dangers, I don’t mean gun violence or climate change. I mean the dangers that lurk within us — the doubts and anxieties that hold us back.
Maybe this simpering asshole can struggle in ways that he hasn’t previously with the hardship of a squad of Southie shanty micks dunking his soft egghead ass in the Charles River. I’m sure this putz went to Wesleyan for the struggle. Since I’m the homeless one here, it’s germane of me to point out that tuition at Wesleyan costs enough to buy a house instead, and also that the threat of street violence is not just in some overly anxious fool’s head. I’ve personally been a victim of it. Hence Mr. Almond’s calling to a refreshment of vigga in the Challs Riva.
This out-of-touch Palo Altan turned Masshole inevitably has thoughts on other people’s “stories” and how we can react to them, and Cap Radio inevitably has a slot for him to air these thoughts. If his parents had bought him a shitty fixer-upper in Pittsfield we probably wouldn’t be hearing from him, but they sent him to Wesleyan, so here we fucking are. One of his great insights on Insight was about how to talk to hostile MAGA chuds without hurting our own feelings, as discovered in the course of a stupid political argument with his father-in-law about climate change. It was the father-in-law who blurted out, “Mother Nature can take care of herself.” If we feel like having some fucking backbone, we can always call bullshit on climate change denialists by telling them that if we set a pile of leaves on fire in the middle of their living room, the air quality will take care of itself. These disingenuous shit-talkers don’t want to live downwind from a smelter with no pollution controls; they just want someone else to bear all the costs.
The problem is that this is exactly the case for dear-hearts-and-gentle-people woke baes like Steve Almond. They’re just as hypocritical. Climate change activists are basically as hypocritical and profligate as their finances allow. Let’s not pretend that Almond doesn’t fly and drive way more than the American average. He’s an upper-middle-class guy from Palo Alto who lives in a nice suburb of Boston and is out on a book tour. This motherfucker isn’t doing his part to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Good God, how stupid are we? He’s an above-baseline part of the problem himself.
The father-in-law sounds like a combative jerk. I know guys like him, and they’re a pain in the ass. So why the fuck is it our duty to respect the “stories that they’re hearing?” If they’re using stories, i.e., Fox News talking points, that are functionally psychotic, it should be a matter of basic self-respect to declare that they’re full of shit and that these “stories” are every bit as invalid as a Wesley Willis story about kicking Batman’s ass. Now, that’s a Wesleyan education I can support. Take it straight from the guy who got kicked out of Genesis on Western. That much is a true story, though, or could be. The entire biosphere being inherently immune to all human inputs is bogus, but Steve Almond is too chickenshit to tell his father-in-law as much because that might cause family drama and upset some people. Instead, he’d like to commiserate about the feelings of woke liberals who have cherished racists in their lives whom they don’t want to upset. Yeah, that’s who I always turn to when I’ve got questions about race relations in the United States: a rich white guy in Boston. It’s not like he’d ever blame it all on the Irish.
Maybe Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond can do an episode and a companion column about how to deal with college-educated liberals who can’t imagine that their own politics are problematic. Maybe I can go drink some drain cleaner.
I miss Lent already. All the wrong shit wakes up this time of year, and the guilt of breaking the Lenten fast has nothing on the projectile penance of listening to simpering overpaid twits pretend that they’re doing something meaningful for the earth before they board a jet all the way back to Logan. It’s bad enough that these shitheads have no particular principles by which they’re willing to actually live; it’s worse that we have to listen to them ostentatiously pretend that they do, and then be badgered to pay NPR for this excellent programming.
What’s going on, Devin, is that someone else is paying for that shit. Fat Cracka hain’t got the cash for any of that.