Oleander, growing outside their door, soon I’m gonna throw them bodily into that bush, the whole lot of them. That’s how insufferable the alumni at–yes, I must–my old school are about Alma Mater, Tried and True. (The tune was jacked from “O Christmas Tree,” so I wouldn’t discount inbreeding.) They really are that bad. There are decent, righteous ones among them, maybe even a silent majority, but as students of American history (not required nearly enough at Dickinson College) know, silent majorities yield tricky Dicks.
If I sound like Adam Gellin, the question to ask isn’t why I’m such a pain in the ass, but how and why your institution produces people like Gellin and me. Realize that when I kill a cracker’s college buzz, I’m never treated like I’m legit crazy. I’m not treated like a bum who’s rocking back and forth on a bench in a SEPTA waiting room, muttering psychotically about smashing some poor bastard’s knees in with a two-by-four and a sledge-HAMMA! I’m treated like a threat who’s best neutralized by gaslighting my explicit testimony into the realm of subjective feelings.
It was a real red pill moment for me when I first came across Lambert Strether’s comments about how neoliberals are always referring to other people’s “feelings,” the point being that they “feel that way” and the neoliberals probably profess to be “sorry” that they do. Funny thing: this isn’t how they act when some meretricious or blame foolish gasbag erupts a choking cloud of point-source nonsense onto a TED Talk stage; that shit is always the moosehead truth. “Feelings” are what dissidents have. “Major mental illness” was what Adrian Schoolcraft had when ESU disappeared him to the loony bin for blowing the whistle on CompStat data fabrication. It was also what Brezhnev-era Soviet dissidents had throughout their commitments to state patriotic psychiatric hospitals.
These things are related. I have to keep reminding myself that I was, and in some ways still am, on the fringes of a cult. Dickinson College isn’t the subject of positive feelings, only negative ones. When alumni have a lifelong era of good feeling about Dickinson and no idea how perverse this sentence is, no one says that they feel this way. It’s understood that that’s the way it is, even among a crowd that doesn’t know Walter Cronkite from Walt Parazaider. (#TeshTips: too much cool change shit with the TV money late in life vs. too damn much flute solo in live concert.) When I express my disgruntlement and disgust about how the Dickinson administration has corrupted the institution under its auspices and indoctrinated the morally impressionable among its students and alumni to poison their own souls, suddenly this is about how I feel, in a way that the idolatrous veneration of Dickinson and that stupid Benjamin Rush statue on the Quad is not about how the assembled faithful feel. In Soviet Russia, you feel for CHAKA KHAN!
Don’t blame me; blame Amtrak for scheduling its only train out of Grand Rapids at 0600.
It’s the Veneration of the Cross for shitheads in Lacoste who serve Mammon with all their heart. The one holy catholic and apostolic church, etc., has the Stations of the Cross and the Sorrowful Mysteries; Dickinson has that time back in the twentieth century when Leon Fritschler ran a sloppy financial ship and F&M more than Swarthmore was counted as a peer institution. By the way, *GO DIPLOMATS!* Where religious elders of various faiths (no, not you, Osteen) are contrite on behalf of their congregations for a history of simony, the sale of indulgences, the harboring of predators in positions of clerical authority, Constantinian deals with worldly devils who usurped civil authority to their own despotic ends, and similar breaches of faith and trust, Dickinson College regrets only that it still falls short of the mark in its quest to be Harvard’s true peer, that it is to this day a lesser, country-cousin Whore of Babylon, awaiting, possibly in vain, the day when it may properly debut to the Society it so desperately apes.
I haven’t met many people for whom it would have been in character to go on a low-wattage radio station and berate followers to get their balls clipped. Bill Durden is one. That man wasn’t capable of being another Charles Manson, but he was capable of being another Charles Dederich. I heard it in his voice and I saw it in his eyes. In retrospect, the bad cops he covered for, Paul Darlington and Richard Sexton, had the look of viable Jon Burge and Daniel Holtzclaw reduxes. Or maybe preduxes; I have never pieced together a comprehensive history of either of them, but between what I personally saw of them and was told by credible third parties, I have to assume that the arc of their careers was ugly. The difference between Dickinson College DPS and the Oklahoma City Police Department is that the OCPD takes false imprisonment under color of authority seriously, does not hesitate to investigate its own rogues, and does not have a dirty mayor covering for its cops when they go rogue because they might embarrass the city.
This amoral, intellectually bankrupt, utterly meretricious Mr. Chips fuckhead bamboozled probably over a decade’s worth of the Pareto power players on his college’s social scene precisely by being such a constant, unrepentant bullshit artist. To answer Zachary Karabell’s question, “What’s College For?” (“Prepositions: What are they good for?”), not that. Or so I thought before I matriculated into the gaslit fog bank. Several thousand people still regard Bill Durden and Benjamin Rush as demigods because he presented Rush as one and spent his presidency increasingly basking in the old quack’s reflected glory. When it isn’t infuriating or excruciatingly demoralizing for some reason, it’s still goddamn insufferable.
Here’s the other thing: this is a cult that Serious people take Very Seriously. With more marginal cults, there’s an overwhelming consensus–mainstream and alternative, blue pill and red–that they’re cults. Synanon corrupting the Marin County Sheriff’s Department? That’s a cult. Charles Manson ordering a murder spree and having his hippie bimbos sing hymns at his trial? That’s a cult. Jonestown? That, to Kool-Aid’s embarrassment, is a cult. Some fat blind guy who says he can levitate ordering a gas attack on the Tokyo subway? That’s a cult. Scientology? It’s stuffed to the gills with rich celebrities, but it’s weird enough to be a cult. Even the Roman Catholic Church, which has a recent history of scandal and the current misfortune of operating in an aggressively secular mainstream zeitgeist, is widely smeared by the influential and the powerful as a cult in all but name.
Just try arguing to these same trendsetters that some prestigious university, cherished above rubies in the venerable pages of US News and World Report, meets the standards for being a cult: systematic internal propaganda, brainwashed followers, coverups of institutional wrongdoing, retaliation against whistleblowers, emotional abuse campaigns against openly disgruntled members or ex-members. Cool cats gonna get a hot temper if you start talking like that, dawg. These are the things we (“we tortured some folks”) revere. C. S. Lewis supposedly said something to the effect that if men are forbidden to honor kings, they will honor the likes of sportsmen and famous prostitutes. I read this at Return of Kings once, and I don’t feel like looking it up, so do it yourself if you must. Two counterpoints: 1) The Kardashians are less inbred–MUCH less inbred–than the fucking Windsors; 2) Downton Abbey. If I ever have daughters, I’ll be the oddball who’s always homeschooling them to be yeowomen, not princesses. Ladies: that applies to stepdaughters, too. The Kardashians may not intrisically be an argument for hybrid vigor, but the royals they crowded or, shall we say, enclosed into smaller sections of the celebrity gossip rags sure are.
Some say that natural law is ordered to the admiration of great men (“men, women, and clergymen”). Regan? Your thoughts? I figure that if we really, truly have to end up admiring such useless scum, the impending Charles III might as well come over and stick it up my ass right now. Or he could send some surrogate from one of the public schools; for straight guys, they’re awfully into that kind of thing. Maybe it’s just shit at the top. I’m writing this in Chicago, so probably.
Intelligence for Your Career (TM): You aren’t allowed to call a school a boiler room scam unless it advertises to the poors. Try to at least find an ad for it on a city bus before you start talking like that. If it advertises on daytime television, it’s safe to ridicule, but watching daytime television is not a hallmark of good breeding. Remember, when one says that it’s acceptable to royally screw one’s cousin, the screwing had better be aristocratic at the least, and Kentucky hain’t got the gentry, now.
I guess I’m harping on this shit because one of my new in-laws assembles genealogies on everyone who shows up in the family, partly to prevent inbreeding. Also, I was on a bus this morning nigh two hours before the ass-crack of dawn. That must have helped cross the wires a bit. It’s a bunch of white people who showed up in the family this time, and from what Genealogist Uncle told me, he hasn’t traced his family bloodline back to Whitey yet. The only ancestor he’s been able to trace back into Antebellum times was a freeman; he indicated that he hasn’t been able to get anything useful from plantation records. In other words, it’s probably safe to say that his family and ours are brothers by very other mothers, although God knows what kind of breakthrough he may find with the right records showing that his son married a tenth-degree cousin because oops.
What the hell was that? I believe it’s what Mrs. Hibshman called “taking our thoughts for walks.” Or, in my case, being taken for a walk by Thought. Damn do I hope American doesn’t squeeze me in next to some musky-smelling guy with huge wandering biceps tonight. Genealogy in the interest of not breeding a bunch of Kiryas Joel retards is bougie bougie, and our new extended in-laws in Michigan are bougies who pretty much run with other bougies. I’m probably on track to be gang-flamed by white supremacists from MPC private chat boards again for admitting that most of my relatives in Michigan are black people. They’ll probably be all like, come on, faggot, you admit you got jumped by that kill whitey in black Kensington. Yeah, and I nearly got my white ass stomped into the pavement by an Ed Hardy thug in Huntington Beach who was even whiter than me.
But my point, since I’ve finally wandered into one again, is that my parents and I went up north after the wedding, into super-white parts of the Lower Peninsula, in a number of which one might summer. They don’t allow visible collections of deposit bottles on BATA buses, and that ain’t a public health concern, cracka. One’s precious, painstakingly cultivated aesthetics might be upset by such a sight. Yeah, BATA puts a farebox in the front of an old school bus and calls that transit, but still, this is Interlochen country, bitch. Bay Harbor is even worse. That was a project to make a Superfund site in Petoskey safe for Vineyard Vines. A big part of me cringed violently inside the moment I laid eyes on it. That Hyannisport-ass white-gray shingle-and-clapboard bullshit screams useless highbrow parasitism. It says, we must be good New Englanders, but not the kind of New Englanders who keep New England from falling into a terminal famine. It’s the aesthetic of people who skim first fruits off the labor of everyone else, not only in their own country but in dozens of banana republics as well, and stash it safely beyond the reach of the grubby masses, to be privately enjoyed by those of taste. Bay Harbor is just one of the latest cool places to shoot this load of seed all over the earth in a place where one’s failspawn will have only one bus run a day in or out of town at their disposal, which may or may not have same-day connections to points more than two hundred miles away.
That’s the last fucking thing I need with my parents living in the Adirondacks for vapid lifestyle reasons. Let’s spend eight or nine figures cleaning up a filthy old industrial site for a bunch of preppy assholes and pay for it by giving the noticeably less white population of Flint irreversible liver damage because their city water is now toxic. But even the very architecture of Bay Harbor is enough to give the downwardly mobile woke a heart attack without electrical assistance from the RCMP. As Constable Millington’s fellow deadly friend Justin put it, maybe you should go and stun yourself. I know it when I see it, and it’s obscene.
I’d rather have Gerry Rundel as my white ally and fishing buddy. No one warned me to avoid this crowd when I was applying to colleges. It never occurred to any of them that they might possibly be on the fringes of a toxic milieu. They didn’t want to criticize their own people. They left that to me to do after the fact, after I belatedly realized that I’d gotten mixed up with cult shitheads who despise the poor.
How the hell can I fit in with them when I’m homeless? I have more in common with the woman I talked to at the bus stop on the south side of Grand Rapids this morning who had fled her violent live-in boyfriend on foot in the middle of the night. Shit, I have more in common with aggressive panhandlers who hang around train stations like temple beggars than I have with classmates who pay their way into highbrow donor networking scams at our alma mater. John Dickinson Society my fat white ass. What these fuckers will never explain is why, if they’re horrified or scandalized that I regularly sleep in my car, they don’t hook me the hell up with a decent place to stay and maybe a job. One of the old-school traditions in Chicago was something like my nephew needs a job in the streets department because he got fired from the grocery store for being an incorrigible lush, so how about you give that sauced mick a fucking job, and the streets department foreman gave Paddy a shovel. As the Civil Rights Act took hold and the white riots in Cicero receded slowly into the past, the machine started hooking the brothers and sisters up likewise, and now Kevin Atwater is a valued member of Intelligence.
Here’s the problem: I can’t get jack diddly from these dipshits at Dickinson who keep telling me to do more networking. They want me to pay into their institutional racket because Dickinson is such an excellent school, but when I complain that my own outcomes as a graduate have been terrible, they tell me that this is because I haven’t networked hard enough. It’s to Dickinson’s credit when its alumni succeed, but its alumni’s fault when they fail. How fucking convenient.
You know what’s more respectable than this? The city government not having any state infrastructure appropriations this year for street repairs because the governor stole the money, split it with his cronies, and will be spending the decade in Colorado now. When money is dumped down a cavernous fucking hole in Chicago, it’s because it got snatched by crooks again, and there’s no need to gaze into the abyss to know that their partners in crime are lining its bottom, soaking up that sweet, sweet dewfall. Rahm “Secretary of Go Fuck Yourself” Emanuel pretends to be a high technocrat injecting reason, rationality, and merit into Chicago’s sclerotic working-class machine politics, but the old boy isn’t so popular these days. That tends to happen when the neighborhood school closures one ordered for the sub rosa purpose of diverting public moneys to Wall Street get commuting schoolchildren killed in gang shootouts on enemy turf. That tends to happen when one’s police keep brutalizing and killing citizens arbitrarily in ghettos that they somehow, despite their sheer manpower and firepower, cannot keep from festering as war zones. In spite of all this, it’s a cherished tradition in Chicago for constituents to hound their aldermen until they deliver the damn goods. With shoulders that broad, they’ve no shame in smacking Mama Sugar until she yields the tit.
Do I sound like I care that this is crass? Here’s what else is crass: paying a thousand dollars for admission to private cocktail mixers with other people who are moneyed enough to cough up that cool grand. That’s corruption. It’s crooked. Doing that under the auspices of a country club is gross; doing so under the auspices of a college is all the more revolting and scandalous. These are people who cannot limit themselves to keeping their private gentry clubs tolerably greased; they must also profane the academy. Start researching community colleges and state directional schools, guys; these pricks are dug in for the long haul.
What normal people try to juice out of their not-so-fresh governments is ever so much more pragmatic and frankly modest than what most of my peers have tried to extract from Dickinson through their transactional profanity. “My son-in-law needs a job with the CTA because he’s an idiot and I don’t know how else he’ll support my daughter and grandchildren” is a hell of a lot more defensible than “I must socialize with the clubbable at all costs.” I cannot exaggerate how fucking sick I get of listening to the shitheads who are aggressively corrupting a good school that I attended presenting themselves as high meritocrats in one breath, inadvertently admitting to their involvement in pay-to-play corruption in the next, and catfishing as whatever weird hybrid of Horatio Alger bootstrapper, sleazy highbrow influence-peddler, supercilious aristocrat, exquisitely cultured Renaissance man, and Greek Life degenerate they find most expedient at the moment. There are times when I can hardly believe what I just witnessed from these freaks. They’re that bizarre. They can’t help but gaslight everyone around them.
No matter how impossible I find it to discern what I am positively called to do with my life, I have no trouble taking one look at something like the John Dickinson Society and saying, “Not that.” Christopher Lasch must be looking down on that and thinking, Sweet Jesus, I knew it. I don’t know how to reconcile my tangential involvement in the Dickinson social scene with my business entanglement with the likes of Pot-o-Shit Friend. I understand that the discussion of some asshole shitting in a trash can is not generally considered fit for polite company, but I don’t talk about that dirty bastard to shock people. I potentially have a lot to gain by finding someone who can actually help me resolve the nightmare that Joe Dirtbag has made of his farm and my socioeconomic circumstances. As in, do you know anyone who’s barred in Oregon and can make sure that nothing of the sort ever happens on that property again? Or, do you know anyone who can get me into housing so that I’m not sleeping in my car so much?
The basic problem is that these are precious, easily offended souls who do not want to hear about recent unpleasantness like homelessness. Well, shit, I don’t enjoy being accosted by panhandlers on my way out of a subway station, either, but the poor we will have with us in Ephesians 3:20 abundance always, especially if we keep being such touchy little pansies about their existence. #Adulting isn’t just about buying a grave site for one’s own ultimate use (my youth minister friend got dozens of likes on Facebook for posting about this; Kyrie eleison on the highway in the night), or trafficking semi-woke Kajieme Powell knifemanship memes for no good reason. It’s also about dealing with unpleasant, unsettling truths and maybe, just maybe, fucking doing something to improve them. #EngageTheWorld. Much fun has been made of university “safe spaces” in recent years, and not without cause. But what the hell else is a John Dickinson Society private mixer than a very expensive safe space? What else is a country club, for that matter?
Compared to what I hear from people I knew in college, with the shit I see on the streets, I might as well have made the Bataan Death March to the My Lai Massacre. Give me a second to pull this list of PTSD symptoms out of the breast pocket of my overalls and let me tell you about my trauma. And though time goes by, I will always be, in vaguely traumatic, 100% service-connected circumstances with you in 1973, singing, here we go again. #MillennialPledge No, I don’t want to be a trauma whore just because I witness other people living in hell on the streets, but if affluent people who shield themselves from their own country’s misery find it offensive that I expose them to a tiny measure of it in the course of explaining my own diminished circumstances, that’s their fucking problem, not mine. I wasn’t put on this earth to kowtow to the exquisite feelings of shitheads who look down on me for being a loser and, with rare exceptions, do fuck-all to get me out of the rest areas. I may, however, have been put here to tell them that we have a problem and that we’re hopeless to treat what we refuse to examine and diagnose.
If they don’t like dealing with the homeless, that isn’t my problem for being downwardly mobile and homeless. I never did any of this as some kind of prank on the BoBos. If they don’t like dealing with the uppity poor, who expect to be treated as equals, not meek inferiors, that, yet again, is their fucking problem. I’m not anyone’s Pullman Porter. Randolph unionized that shit decades ago. Jackson gave white boys the right to exercise that funky franchise until they die a century before that.
I lives here. Can I come in? The answer, by the way, is yes. We get to talk back now.