“We need a place to shit and wash our hands”

There’s only one tenant farmer left now at Joe Dirtbag’s farm. This tenant farmer is from his home and native land, and he’s (very reasonably) a bit worked up about the state of the farm and Joe Dirtbag’s stubborn refusal to improve it, so let’s call him the Ragin’ Canajun. It’s a bit unfair to call him that, as no normal man should be compared to James Carville, but not nearly as unfair as what Joe Dirtbag has done to everyone involved with the farm by being so irresponsible, so the name shall stand.

Eh? He’s not that obvious a Canuck, but by now you should know that I can’t resist these potshots.

I ran into the Ragin’ Canajun at the farm this afternoon, and he gave me a very clear description of the state of the property indicating that it’s in even worse shape, physically and functionally, than I had realized. There really is no lower bound to the squalor and dysfunction. The Ragin’ Canajun is the new tenant in a one-room caretaker’s shack, which he described as utterly uninhabitable: “I moved in there basically so Joe Dirtbag wouldn’t do something really stupid and rent to someone else who’d get killed living in there….If he rented to the wrong tenant, he could go to jail.” He said that the insulation is hanging down from the ceiling because it wasn’t stapled in and that the walls are effectively insulated with eighteen-inch-deep piles of rat droppings. It was totally unsanitary, a threat to the health of any occupants. I understand now why he always wears a surgical mask when he goes into the shack to clean it out.

Even worse, if you can believe it, the most recent previous tenant left behind a twenty-gallon trash can full of his feces. It’s out of this world, but I don’t doubt it. The Ragin’ Canajun is a straight shooter, and this wasn’t the first time someone living on the property was using chamber pots. A previous tenant, who parked her travel trailer in the grass parking lot in 2006 because she needed a place to crash for a few weeks and was found dead in the trailer circa 2010, was given notice around the fall of 2009 to start using the outhouse instead of relieving herself in her trailer and throwing the contents out the door. Other farm tenants regularly saw this strange ranger opening the door to her trailer, tossing her waste out, and closing the door for another few hours of solitude. Her offering was usually either a saucepan full of piss or some turds wrapped up in old newspaper. There was also Captain Flimflam’s revolting inability to get the portapotties replaced before shit, piss, and used tampons piled up to within an inch of the toilet seat, of course. It’s an awful thing to have to concede, but shitting in a garbage pail and leaving the result in the cabin as a brimful housewarming gift for the new tenant didn’t violate the prevailing community standards. If the Ragin’ Canajun, I, and the few naturally clean farm hangers-on had been the extent of the community, it would have been unconscionable, but we’re talking about lower levels of conscience here, and certainly lower levels of conscientiousness.

This community, including various combinations of the Lady Pisspan, Mixups in my Mind, the other psychotic guy who lived under the tarp, a neighborhood tweaker, a guy who left a pile of junk metal and cardboard in the weeds behind his tiny house, Captain Flimflam, and Pot-o-Shit Friend, managed in the space of three or four years to scare off everyone but the Ragin’ Canajun, and even he nearly threw in the towel, too: “I was on my way out when I realized, hey, this is a blank slate….I just need to put it in my lease with Joe Dirtbag that there will be no fucking bullshit.” We’ll all see how easily this condition, as eminently reasonable as it is, will be enforced. Joe Dirtbag dragged his feet for months, and then years, on evicting Mixups in my Mind while he lost tenant after tenant. The community garden organizers abrogated their lease on account of the tweaker camping out in front of their section of the farm, which was in a marginal frost pocket anyway. An exceptionally responsible and diligent tenant who had been growing cut flowers in the same section for probably two decades got fed up and left, as did a former restaurant employee of Joe Dirtbag and the Family Shrew’s, who complained that she felt uncomfortable going to her greenhouse space unless armed with mace to ward off the psychotic Mixups in my Mind should he get violent with her. Mixups in my Mind and Psychotarp did enough yelling that the organizers of a program that educated school and preschool children terminated a relationship with the farm of more than a decade out of concern for the children’s safety. Even Captain Flimflam, whose standards of professionalism are abysmal, got sick of the bullshit and moved to the Applegate.

The Ragin’ Canajun is just starting a three-year lease with Joe Dirtbag. He told me that he keeps having second thoughts about this, that maybe he’s fixing to get screwed over, but he’s adamant that he’ll force JD to cut the bullshit. That he’s bracing himself for more bullshit is telling, but it should be expected. Any reasonable person familiar with the history of the farm and Joe Dirtbag’s behavior would expect more trouble. Past is prologue; the longue durée of shitting where one shouldn’t yields a turd-world newspaper origami project one year, a Brute full of that which came to pass another.

If a farm principal will tolerate floridly psychotic tenants who bash in windows out of anger and (amazingly) saner tenants who shit in trash cans, what won’t he tolerate? According to the Ragin’ Canajun, Joe Dirtbag is drawing the line at allowing him to bring his own friends onto the farm as tenants without meeting them and vetting them first. He was okay with Captain Flimflam bringing Mixups in my Mind onto the farm as a second-order tenant with nothing more than an assurance that “he’s weird as hell but he’s harmless” (harmless my ass, and pile after pile of glass), and he didn’t object to the arrival of Psychotarp as a third-order tenant, because these guys all kind of know each other from the ‘hood, but he won’t let the Ragin’ Canajun, who’s as sane and responsible as anyone he’s had around the farm, nominate tenants without getting them approved. This is batshit crazy. The Ragin’ Canajun doesn’t yell at passing motorists about their carbon footprints or shit in a garbage can, so his friends probably don’t either. As RC said, though, “It’s like he’s trying to make them jump through a bunch of hoops. I mean, why wouldn’t he trust me? It’s not like I’m going to bring fucking crazy people down here. These are people who work full time. They work at the university.”

All I can think is that what motivates Joe Dirtbag is a feudal impulse. Batshit fucking insane homeless people from the neighborhood will be naturally subordinate to him as tenants in his squalor, while gainfully employed, noncertifiable people who keep equally sane company will get uppity if he refuses to clean up the festering piles of junk and make some kind of alternate arrangement for the disruptive homeless. The Ragin’ Canajun told me that Joe Dirtbag has been promising for months to move Psychotarp off the farm and has done nothing about him. He probably makes these promises in the hope of getting the Ragin’ Canajun to shut up about Psychotarp for a bit. He has made no such promises to me, but then again, I’m merely upfront about Psychotarp being nutty, not adamant that he has to be evicted, and I’m not paying Joe Dirtbag rent, so he has less to lose.

The Ragin’ Canajun told me that Joe Dirtbag has claimed that the farm is worth over three times its appraised value and has complained that no one wants to buy new fractional shares in the farm based on this valuation. Gee, Kojak, you suppose this has anything to do with this offer sounding like a dead ringer for securities fraud? RC said that JD is also unable to imagine that the farm has become notorious locally for its squalor, even now that he’s down to his last farm tenant and scared away the school groups. He lives so deeply in his own persona as a town civic maven that he assumes he’s still has a pure, unassailable reputation for probity and generosity and God knows what other virtues that he is manifestly unable to live.

I can’t get the image of a twenty-gallon Brute full of some sorry fucking bastard’s shit sitting in that literal rathole of a cabin out of my mind. I can’t unsee the specter of Joe Dirtbag’s little bitch squatting over the trash can in a dimly lit shack some cold night, a fire going in the stove, and adding his latest contribution to the pile. We’ve made wine in trash cans of that exact model.

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