My negativity online has apparently cost me a number of Facebook friends and annoyed or alarmed or upset some others. I’m mostly just reading the tea leaves here, although not entirely. I have gotten some explicit criticism for oversharing on Facebook, and some of it has given me pause because I recognize that I’ve published some pretty edgy shit, not all of it having any higher purpose to redeem it. I’ve gone overboard from time to time. I can see how some of this stuff has been bothersome.
I know, this is a real Frank Serpico tale of woeful principle. On the other hand, it isn’t all just a result of my most grievous fault. American society is ruthless about shaming, embarrassing, retaliating against, and generally intimidating dissidents. This campaign can take bizarre forms and be directed against the most innocuous-looking targets. The degree of conformism expected of Americans, and so often obliged by us without complaint, can be horrifying. It seems to be worse here than in some other countries, anyway, although I can’t very well articulate where or how. I often get the feeling that there’s more ideological diversity in polite company in most of Europe than in the United States, and sometimes I get the same feeling about the broadening middle class in China. There’s probably a temporal aspect to it, too. Social networking wasn’t on the scene a generation ago, and the internet as it existed then was a much more democratic and pluralistic infrastructure than its most popular parts have become under the centralizing and, let’s be honest, totalitarian campaigns of Zuckerberg, Kalanick, and company. Internet access became commonplace in developed countries at a time when socioeconomic inequality in most of these societies was already increasing, as starkly as anywhere in the United States.
It’s a fucking mess by now. The jitney cab business, latent to extinct for decades, has been hijacked and perverted into a very close equivalent to the Gilded Age railroad trusts. What scares me about this isn’t just that the same totalitarian psychological profiles of Gould, Vanderbilt, Stanford, et al. have reemerged in creeps like Travis Kalanick, but that so many of my peers, and even some of my parents’ peers, have been taken in by their propaganda about making the world a better place. The railroads had been very widely reviled for several decades by the time the Great Depression struck. We’re in a second Great Depression, and what I’m hearing from friends and acquaintances is overwhelmingly a combination of check it, this groovy shit is reducing drunk driving incidents and giving people extra income and flexibility and Wow Such convenient Omg technology Very amaze. I’m forced to remind myself that I run mostly with bougies, the sort of people who might have considered Cornelius Vanderbilt bae as shit a hundred-odd years ago for having Pullman service on his trains. The thing is, I’m unaware of the railroad trusts having been as popular among the haute bourgeois then as Driving Miss Daisy services like Uber are today. Maybe the popularity of the railroads with the fin-de-siècle Millington for Sheriff crowd was left out of all the history books I’ve managed to read in order to make space for items that the editors found more important or representative of the time. I don’t like the feeling of hoping that sloppy historiography is to blame for my misunderstanding the political factions at play. That’s a real Twilight Zone hall of mirrors feeling.
Not coincidentally, a shitload of railroad money was dumped into new universities, the great crimes behind the great fortunes of these institutions and all that. Jane Stanford, as I’ve discussed in these pages before, was an overbearing petty tyrant who got at least one dissident purged from the Stanford University faculty for dissing the railroads. Lord, the parallels. Kalanick U and Brin College will be fun to no end. My alma mater, Dickinson College, was initially seeded with minor planter money or something of the sort, actually a pretty clean and reputable financial background as far as I can tell, the disreputable hagiographical fury surrounding Benjamin Rush for the entire century to date notwithstanding. This has not, of course, stopped Bill Durden and his brainwashed followers from acting like the worst sorts of arriviste shysters in their campaign to have Dickinson extort and hoard every bit of surplus wealth it can financially dominate out of anyone with a halfway plausible tie to the institution. As far as I’m concerned, this is racketeering. It is motivated by an unmistakable spirit of rapacious institutional corruption, so the legal particulars that may or may not put the school afoul of RICO are a lesser concern of mine.
What I often forget about my stumbling into this clusterfuck is that I didn’t even go to college in the hope of buying into some kind of meta-professional racket. I went to school to study history and foreign languages, and I did both. It came at the expense of wandering into earshot of one vile screed after another by Durden or his various bagmen to the effect that we were effectively made men and women, solely on account of our being Dickinsonians, but we had better pay into the grand juju upon demand. I figured that my parents were already paying enough to vest any privileges that were my due as a Dickinsonian, and that it was barfworthily crass of Durden to constantly demand more, like a Cookie Monster of fundraising, but I also started to think that if these blowhards would not shut up with their promises of career success for their graduates, they had damn well better deliver. If they weren’t actually either equipping all of us with the versatile, lucrative skill sets they promised us or else making alternate arrangements to keep the fuckups among us from falling through the cracks, it was their unambiguous ethical obligation to shut up. I hadn’t matriculated in search of anything this crass or corrupt, but these assholes kept making promises to all of us, and not just sporadically, but in a coordinated campaign of student aggrandizement, mainly for purposes of fundraising. This wasn’t a regime that could be credibly reversed, releasing those running it from all outstanding obligations to those they had oversold Dickinson and its academics, with the disclosure of “Emily Bailout” (a sinecure in exchange for a special $50k donation from Miss Bailout’s parents, I was credibly told by sources who have every personal motivation to make Dickinson look good, not bad) or musing that Dickinson is really a “grad school preparatory institution,” as if this justifies the professional failure of alumni who complete its bachelor’s curricula but don’t seek further education (probably at extreme expense).
It turns out that Dickinsonians really can’t be counted on to give struggling classmates a hand up, nor can the administrators. I wouldn’t expect anything of the sort from those who never showed any susceptibility to the ceaseless campaign of institutional bullshit, but I know quite a few people who took part in this campaign themselves and, if they’re paying any attention to my Facebook feed, know that I’ve repeatedly had a hard time finding work since graduating. Racket men who watch out for their own at least have some sense of honor among thieves; I’m surrounded by racket men who point and laugh at those who haven’t figured out, on their own, how to navigate the graduate stage of the racket to their own financial and professional success. This may not be worse than the mafia in general, but it’s certainly worse than my mom’s childhood neighbor the mafioso on Staten Island. Not all of those guys put Jimmy Hoffa at the bottom of Lake Huron.
Honestly, I’m pretty fucking magnanimous for someone who has spent most of his adult life around these sleazy racketeers, including a number of years in close proximity to their constant noise, and has still ended up sleeping in his car on a regular basis. Some of you have no fucking idea of how much hurt there is in the godforsaken parts of this country, even in your own cities. Trump isn’t just pulling random grievances out of his ass. He’s appealing coherently to tens of millions of Americans who have been thrown into excruciating chaos, fear, and pain by the treachery of their own well-heeled countrymen. Maybe he’s pandering with the intent of throwing them under the bus the moment he’s elected, but he’s saying the right things right now, while Clinton and Cruz damn well are not. (I have Clinton partisans in my Facebook feed, too. Fuck my life, Mr. Bonaduce. Seriously, where is a Cultural Revolution when you need one? I’m goin’ back to the country, as they said at Woodstock.
No effort to play well with others has gotten me away from nightlife at the rest areas yet. Conforming to these people hasn’t gotten me a job. I’m not a total failure at meritocracy; ironically, perhaps, I’ve done tolerably well at farm jobs that are more meritocratic than any job some of these dipshits I know from school will ever hold. It’s half-assed success when Durden’s the one holding the yardstick, though. Hehheh, I just said “holding the stick.” Sort of. That’s another thing: I keep running into insinuations that it’s somehow wrongful to use the heavy seven on social media, some of these from people I know, because it contradicts personal branding, apparently. This will be a really adaptive attitude the next time I’m on Regional Transit. Of course I’m hearing this from people who’ve never traveled on the Sacramento light rail system, let alone the 21 bus at an hour when not all is beautiful in the neighborhood. As they say, I live by the light rail station in Rancho; just thought I’d mention that again. At this moment I’m in Placerville, and yes, Mr. Christensen, there’s some fucking white trash here, too.
To judge from some of these timid Timmies (a spiritual condition of #TIMMEH!, come to think of it), I’ll have an easier time finding work if I cuss less in the ether. Bitch please. Should I get some Regis Philbin dress shirts and ties while I’m at it? I won’t, but I thought I’d ask anyway, just to be petulant. There’s shit wrong with Sacramento that will never be fixed by using some weenie version of church language, some Sunday best of the tongue. I’ve been on the entire Sac light rail system except for the Consumnes River College extension. I know a lot of people who haven’t set foot on that venerable blue and yellow, and in more than a few cases, it shows. Maybe I’ll stop writing rawdog when I stop living rawdog, but nobody from Dickinson has shown a consistent interest in helping a cracker out. Then again, a lot of other Americans are on track to keep living rawdog as all hell for the rest of their lives because the rest of us won’t confess Christianity with anything BUT our tongues, and I doubt I’ll be able to ignore them just because the tide may have finally lifted my own boat. Bitch I’m woke.
I guess I’m just trying to live in truth. Yeah, that crap again. I’m doing this because Vaclav Havel told me to do it. Nobody else on the Sac light rail outside of rush hour has heard of Havel, but they aren’t the ones who were expected to be educated.
Niggas who have something to DO with their kids should send them to community college instead, I’m thinking.