Back to blu, uh, uh, uh

Yeah buddy, I’m on my fucking way. This shit is easier too ex plane hear,,,, On Line, than in meatspace because, for example, if I’m driving from Reno to Eugene or whatever the hell all afternoon and half the night no one demands to know whether I live in Reno. I’d have a straighter answer about where I live if it weren’t so impossible for someone in my circumstances to specifically live somewhere. Sometimes I tell people that I live in Sacramento,  and I does lives there, can I come in, except that I don’t particularly. That’s a simpler position to take, and it’s adequate for the DMV, which refused to take my $181 registration renewal fee on credit today. For people those who don’t need to know but ask regardless, saying that I live in Sacramento opens me up to too many questions about what I do in Sacramento, and as a rule of thumb I damn well do not feel like answering that shit.

Usually I’m able to get the overly inquisitive to take the hint and shut up after I hem and haw with a few sentences that don’t really answer anything or mumble something verging on total gibberish. I’m like Ike, minus the commission (and the salary and the base housing and the Tri Care, baby). There are awfully few people whom it’s worth my while to talk my true story, and I’m not out of line to propose that Americans have a habit of asking too many fucking questions, and consistently the wrong ones.

My circumstances are fairly extreme and unusual, but they are not in fact unique. Close variants of them, especially as they pertain to housing specifically, can account for probably five to ten percent of the US population. That fucking Asian bitch in the Pacific Grove marathon finisher’s T-shirt who told me that I wasn’t homeless when our paths crossed in Elko on our way to the eclipse can take that shit back to the part of California that is about to tumble into the sea, although truly she deserves to live indefinitely in Mountain Home. Even if I’d had the patience to suffer an extended conversation with that fucking cunt-ass health yuppie, I don’t know that I’d have been able to explain to her that homelessness is defined by a lack of stable and suitable housing, and that there are gradations of homelessness, meaning that my being decently dressed and showered when I met her and able to travel in no way negated my homelessness. That’s like handing a bum a Greyhound ticket and saying, look at that, you just stopped being hungry. The worst of this shit does not afflict our common carriers or our highway system. There’s actual competition in transportation, with caveats. Housing is a rent-seeking speculative clusterfuck, a pervasively corrupt business that brings out the worst in the worst people.

Do I feel like explaining any of this to random high school juniors in East Bumfuck, Oregon, just because they’re on a harvest crew with me? Not fucking likely, cracka. Most of them have the good sense and the tact not to push these things, but the few who don’t discourage me from continuing to show up at all, since I’m really not there for the money, either, although no money would mean absolutely no thicc boi honey. God, that sounds like a Cousin Gigolo story, except I have no reason to believe he ever got paid. I’ve actually written very little about most of the busybodies I’ve encountered at the berry farm, since characters like the ADHD spazz kid and the Ditzney Princess are more fun. Even the Ditzney Princess wasn’t one of the busybodies. Ironically, she had maybe the most mature reaction I’ve ever gotten to the Pot-o-Shit Friend story, finding it purely sad, not riotously hilarious as my youth minister friend back east did.

Cousin Gigolo and Pot-o-Shit Friend are threads in (grab at least a five-gallon, for the other end) the tapestry of my life. How would I explain them to prim broad middle-class Evangelicals who refuse to use language as salty as “shit?” Mostly I don’t. Since my work experience is not Cousin Gigolo’s, these stories are not safe for work. Because, let’s be clear about this, I don’t keep going back to this underpaid gig for some unspeakably vapid hipster fuckery or cultural exchange or to do guerrilla ethnography. If I were trying to understand the provincials for some awful reason, I’d make sure that I didn’t constantly have bosses on the periphery. I try not to shit where I eat. I’m not Pot-o-Shit Friend; he’s just this shitty fucking asshole who twinked his way into my life and, can running over, twinked his way back out, his dark legacy indelible on the white plastic of our erstwhile winery equipment. I sure as hell didn’t want that motherfucker around so that I’d have an interesting story to tell; I would more joyfully tell the same story about some other sorry bastard’s family agricultural compound.

If I wanted to tell stories about religiously preoccupied dipshits, I’d deliberately engage with Mormon missionaries. The thing about the cultural exchange and the guerrilla ethnography, though, is that it just falls into my lap. As they say in the Ethiopian diaspora, stuffs happen. That’s more accurate than anything that’s said publicly about immigration, in any event. I’m there to pick fruit. Being all up in the berry bush all summer long is the good shit. Being bothered about the moral necessity to tithe on one’s summer earnings as a minor when the entire family gets free haircuts from their barber friend is not. Horseshit washed-in-the-blood talking points that no one present has thought through are not. I don’t have a prayer of getting through to most of these kids, and I’m not there to do that anyway.

What I’ve overheard of Mother-in-Law’s spirituality is much more thoughtful and interesting, but it isn’t germane. It’s never the people who think in depth about their religious traditions who get pushy or just plain stupid about religion. That’s all too much the case for people who have received authoritarian traditions that they dare not question. If sola fide is the Holy of Holies, that’s a can of worms that I do not feel like opening and I will be of no help. Sola scriptura? Lol. I know, I know, I’ve heard the reheated jokes about how Catholics risk Protestantism by toting a Bible around or reading one, but with some of these people, Fukuyama is a moot point: history has nowhere to end because it hasn’t even started. I’m not about to be the one to try to orient intellectually uncritical teenagers in the cultural and historical context of the religious traditions that they’ve inherited from their parents. That’s a tar baby. The ones who are interested will find their way in due course of time.

Hence my double life. Hell, triple or quadruple. I pass for at least a borderline normie among country-ass Republican godbotherers, and I’m responsible for all of this. Again, I’d rather be known as the originator and curator of the Bad Mountie meme treasury than as the Dubai Porta Potta guy, but these things are not for me to dictate. I’d certainly rather not become known for most of this crap at work, but if it happens, it happens. These are, indeed, a lot of stuffs. Keeping this right here separate from normie ag work is really just about tact, something I have more abundantly than certain colleagues. Yes, the Ditzney Princess was one. I don’t care how pretentious that sounds; it’s true.

This shit keeps going down in a county that also has $20 jailbait gay-for-pay. Over-the-Rhine price points are always a sign of economic health. So is a $.25 daily tip share. Dem shine George coin don’t come free.

All the same, this job has pretty good conditions overall, including effectively perfect workplace safety, and is career-coherent for me. Truth be told, it should be career-coherent for anyone who isn’t going into something like medicine or engineering. No, not the law. God help us, Americans actually think that’s a net benefit to our society, tell Brad to send her up the fucking river they do, Deirdre.

More Americans and fewer Mexicans should be doing farm work in the United States. This much I keep getting right. If more Americans did farm work, we might have a working understanding of what an economy is instead of being batshit insane. I took the train through Salt Lake City last night, and in the course of sightseeing the good shit in core urban Salt Lake and Provo, I lost all confidence in the city Mormons anew. Theoretically, the Mormons should be able to reorient the rest of us towards a gambling-free working nuts-and-bolts economy. The problem is that in practice they’re all over the fucking place. One hour, they’re putting up a decade’s worth of canned goods; the next, they’re running some shit-ass MLM scam out of an office park in Draper, and they’re doing it with a straight face. SEO and the brainwashed dipshits who believe in it are bad enough in the best of circumstances; in parts Napoleonic, the cultural treats include SEO with a servant’s heart.

I have to assume that the Mormons are behind Oil Stop, too; they would be. If that sounds bad, remember that they’re on the record as responsible for Jamberry. I’ve confessed to nothing in these pages as disreputable as that. If you’re secretly sucking cock for a living in American Fork, good for you. I assume that costs more than $20, but mercenary Mormon MILFs are far from the worst thing to come out of the Wasatch Front. We’re talking Stacy’s Mom who knows how to make, like, six different Jell-O salads. Cousin Gigolo has a formal culinary background himself, if I’m not mistaken. None of these honest small businesspeople should be ceding the moral high ground to some fuckheads with an SEO company in an office park that can be seen but not readily accessed from the train.

At least I’m wandering around here with a working concept of what a real job is and what’s bullshit. So are my colleagues. Having an honest, productive job and a crazymaking family religious tradition is better than having an equally bonkers family church and a lead on the shit I saw advertised from the train last night, which made Denver for Millennials look reputable. Let none of us cease to rub yuppies’ faces in it.

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Orange you glad you don’t live in the Chinese part of town

Hoo boy. Orange County’s piss-ass homeless shelter nimbyism has reached the judicial override stage, and it is not pretty. A federal judge, David O. Carter, has partially asserted dictatorial emergency powers over the county government and a number of city governments to compel the approval of shelter sites and enjoin the enforcement of vagrancy laws in the interim. This isn’t a case of the judiciary lording it over the legislature and the citizenry for fun; it’s a proportional, and quite patient, assertion of the human rights of a marginalized, impoverished citizen constituency against a powerful, violently hostile constituency that defines itself by property rights as property owners, not by civil rights as citizens. What the judge is telling the local officials and the propertied agitators driving their intransigence is that they have dragged their feet for far too long on the establishment of adequate rehousing facilities for the residents of the homeless encampments that they are so eager to raze and that they have absolutely no latitude to criminalize the existence of their indigent neighbors to protect their own property rights and precious, precious feelings.

There’s a really ugly ethnic angle to this dispute, one that the white liberal consensus in California finds too uncomfortable to name, but as a homeless honky native to Palo Alto and registered to vote in Sacramento County, I’ll be damned if I’ll be guilt-tripped into holding my peace about it. It’s the fucking Chinese. They’ve behaving execrably. A clannish, racialized, affluent, propertied rabble of immigrants and their children are petulantly trying to criminalize the existence of a native lumpenproletariat, most of the latter from families that have been in what is now the United States since time immemorial.

That’s ethnic cleansing if it happens in Yugoslavia, and it’s ethnic cleansing if it happens here. A bunch of haughty rich asshole foreigners moved in en masse from overseas, established a colonial settlement, and are now sore as hell that the inherent vices of their neighborhood include their native-stock birthright citizen neighbors, whom they defame wholesale as filthy criminals who depress their property values. We now have to listen to these thugs and their spawn, whose family money does not generally come from scrupulously licit sources, carry on about how they’re blameless and worthy and it’s only the native proles whose shit stinks.

There is something dysfunctional about any society where a racialized settler population feels able to lash out in this fashion without fear of retaliatory pogroms. Chinese money, again, from a variety of questionable sources, has driven a good deal of the housing bubble that has made it impossible for the native poor to afford housing in Orange County. This isn’t some insurmountable natural law; the crooked upper crust of a systemically corrupt nation in the early stages of industrialization fled overseas with its wealth and parked it in real estate in a handful of markets that it found culturally and legally hospitable, one of these (a relatively modest one, in fact) being Orange County. This is crude ethnic gangsterism, but with more bigotry than the old Irish, Italian, and Jewish mobsters indulged in their more magnanimous years. The proposition that a cohort of rich, grasping Chinamen who hate the everloving shit out of the peasants back home give a hot damn about the high ideals of ethnic and socioeconomic pluralism of their adoptive land is insulting. This is one of the most illiberal, intolerant populations ever to have landed on our shores.

What do I suppose I’d try to do if I were in their shoes? For starters, I’d try not to act like a raging fucking asshole colonial settler-bigot begging for banishment to the Breslau Ghetto as an unassimilable scion of an incorrigible ethnic crime family. I’m not Jewish enough for temple, but I’m Jewish enough to take care not to be a fucking shanda fur die goyim. This bourgeois ethnic cleansing bullshit in Orange County isn’t the first time propertied overseas Chinese have behaved in ways that called to mind the all-time worst of Europe’s Jews and grievously tested the tolerance of the native ethnic majority in their host nations. Everything that I’ve read about the overseas Chinese indicates that California’s 21st-century native stock is reacting to these provocations with a level of goodwill, patience, and magnanimity that the ethnic Thais and Malays have not historically shown their ancestors in Southeast Asia.

We have no special national duty or, God help us, regional moral duty as a liberal sanctuary state, to be the only host population on the face of the earth to act like this shit is fucking Sesame Street. This right here is the episode in which a foreign lynch mob that had no connections to the neighborhood a decade or two ago tries to burn Oscar alive in his trash can to clean up the neighborhood. There’s some nice happy horseshit at the base of the Statue of Liberty about the tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and my great-grandfather embezzled from his employer in the East End of London to buy a cabin across the Atlantic and the direct admission at the Battery that came with it, but tired, huddled, and breathless ain’t who’s jacking up the cost of housing in the OC, cracka.

If we have sacred values to defend, we might want to consider that this overseas gentrification jet set is too fucking illiberal to share these values, which presumably include allowing those already present in the neighborhood as birthright citizens to live peaceably without being ethnically cleansed by Johnny-come-lately interlopers from families that bought their way into the country. They’re the ones who showed up out of the blue and used money to muscle their way into existing communities with no regard for the welfare or even survival of the neighbors they displaced. They’re the ones who expect native-stock children to compete like their lives depend on it for college admissions and jobs, but without the tight ethnic networks to grease the skids before them.

I’m sure some concern-trolls will preen about how I’m trying to launch a reprise of the Chinese Exclusion Act. That isn’t what’s happening here. The dynamics have flipped. The native stock driving Chinese exclusion in the nineteenth century were bigoted as all hell, and the Chinese they were so hellbent on driving out of the land were peasants, piss-poor, marginalized immigrants who would have been grievously oppressed by their social betters back home had they stayed. What we have now is an affluent native stock that bends over backwards to be tolerant towards an even more affluent and networked immigrant community while the latter takes the lead in efforts to commit the wholesale official oppression of the poorest old-stock Americans in their neighborhoods and drive them east of Eden, or at least east of Corona.

The non-indigent old-liners who might otherwise be upset by this foreign aggression against their fellow citizens, to wit, Americans from long-established families whose ancestors did not purchase residency within living memory, prefer to pretend that none of this ethnic unpleasantness is happening. Well, guess what, white girl? It is happening.

Sure, the Chinese have bourgeois white allies in their fight to bar the door against the riffraff, fancy crackers whose class interests overlap with their own and whose other nimby interests include the adamant belief that El Toro is a terrible place for an airport. Still, they’re further emboldened by the residual hopes or assent or God only knows exactly what of downwardly mobile native-stock young people who were raised to believe in and still refuse to disbelieve every bit of American Experience-ass bleeding-heart horseshit about how we worked through all the bad shit, like, fifty years ago and all get along now. This has the potential to cause some hardcore cognitive dissonance as a foreign population, raised in a dramatically different cultural, political, and civic context with nothing but contempt for the welfare of the marginalized poor, buys its way into a civic stake that it aggressively uses to harass its neediest neighbors.

I’m afraid that this situation really is as crude and ugly as I’m chronicling it. Some of the worst colonial aggression on earth today is coming from the Chinese. The birth hotels in the San Gabriel Valley, a fairly seedy area by overseas Chinese standards, cater to families wealthy enough to afford airfare and long-term lodging for their unemployed expectant mothers. The current Chinese diaspora in Vancouver includes absolute Gulf Arab Eurotrash-grade degenerates who drive their sports cars across toll bridges at triple the speed limit on licenses in bad standing. These asshats and their families have dumped so much cash into the local housing market that the cops who pull them over can hardly afford rent on the Lower Mainland.

These shitheads are not typical Chinese. That would be like insisting that the shittiest yuppies in Central Bucks or North Jersey are typical Americans. If a diaspora of that character took over, say, Tijuana and jacked up the cost of housing beyond what any Mexican of normal means could afford, I’d angrily disavow them as their compatriot. I already can’t fucking stand pig-ignorant Tri-State money wops who condescendingly talk about “percent diversity” at their alma maters like their families have always been High Whitey when my own grandparents were denied public accommodations because they were taken for Jews. If such a constituency were overheating housing markets abroad and doing everything in their civic power to demean and expel the natives they’d already dispossessed with their housing bubble, it would be a national scandal. We’ve got a few goldbug-intersectional bourgeois-supremacist Yanqui fuckwads kicking around Latin America in a spirit of superiority, along with a handful of serious high rollers rich enough to buy bugout spreads in New Zealand, but as asshole emigrants go, we’re pikers compared to High Chinky.

The Chinese we do get in our affluent cities are not looking to play by our most scrupulous rules. They wouldn’t have the money to expatriate anywhere decent if that were how they rolled. Scrupulosity is not how fortunes are made in post-Deng Mainland China. Honorebly feel my balzac for more universal insights into great fortunes and forgotten crimes, but je me fouquine souviens this much about the PRC in particular: that its industrialization as a major exporter in the late twentieth century involved levels of corruption well in excess of the norms in Japan and the industrialized West. We, the greatest nation on earth and shit, started reverting towards our own historic Gilded Age crookedness around the time we started our serious trade with China; the prior standards from which we were, by Bork, slouching towards Gomorrah were of a much higher caliber than what China’s industrialists and their apparatchik cronies adopted. Likewise, it’s safe to assume that a great deal of the money overheating housing markets in the old British colonies (crikey, you mates, too), was expatriated prior to or in deliberate circumvention of the Chinese Politburo’s big anti-corruption drives.

No, this doesn’t account for the entire Chinese diaspora. There are decent people trying to honorably find better lives for themselves and their families who have the misfortune to share an ethnic community with a bunch of belligerent loudmouths pushing a moral panic about the dirty gaijin infesting the place they now call home. This is not enviable. Still, there’s a really disturbing appearance that the entire barrel is being spoiled by the bad apples who speak so loudly on the community’s behalf. I just get a really bad feeling about some of the communal dynamics here, that there are decent people whose personal inclinations are towards tolerance but who are more eager to be buddies with the shittiest social climbers from back home than to stand up for the despised vulnerable. Assimilated members of the first birthright generation must be in a particularly unenviable spot, wondering why the fuck mom and dad are such lunatic bigots.

What I really hate is the appearance that some of the most vicious immigrants a nation could ever admit have successfully hacked our code and turned it against us. At the risk of going full Goldwater, we’re tolerating the intolerant, and that’s no virtue. Actually, it’s even worse than that, and seedier. We’re granting some of our richest immigrants bogus victim points based on atrocities that some of our worst native-stock ancestors committed generations ago against peasants whom the current model minority we so zealously defend would enthusiastically treat just as badly back in the old country. More than a few of us are being over-the-top solicitous towards crooks who buy their failspawn driver’s licenses and academic slots beyond their normal meritorious qualification because we think one of our shithead great-great-grandpas once Marky Mark-style beat the shit out of some coolie. Maybe that happened, or maybe it didn’t, but regardless, it’s a part of our national middle-highbrow lore now. This sure looks like white guilt on behalf of a pushy ethnic clan that will never even try to reciprocate this bent-over-backwards graciousness. We can tell what they’re saying about us in English in public, but many of them are bilingual and have use of ethnically segregated private spheres. Mandarin must be a useful language in which to express one’s amazement at the whitefellas for being a bunch of utter goddamned fools.

By the way, there’s a special place in purgatory for our own goody-two-shoes Orientalist Brahmins and their socially climbing hangers-on. These are as American as apple pie and driving all the chinks out of Frisco. I’ve long had this really unsettling feeling that the open fascination of a large swath of the American upper crust with the outward trappings of Asian culture, a fascination dating back in earnest to the days of Crocker and Stanford, did much to drive the Great Value crackers into their infamous fits of violent anti-Asian rage, first against the Chinese in the nineteenth century and then against the Japanese during the Second World War. The appearance that we’ve been using indigent neighborhood laundry operators as political pawns and battering rams in our own insipid domestic class standoffs since at least the conclusion of our Civil War (you know, the one we held to deal with the whole racial thing) must infuriate Asian observers and convince them that we’re all absolutely reprehensible.

If they’re colonizing our neighborhoods in a spirit of contempt for the poor neighbors whose fellow citizens they seek to become and their US-born children already are, it isn’t without provocation. There is a certain gross reciprocity to the whole enterprise. We certainly don’t have much moral authority if our own bourgeoisie celebrate Asian shiznit as a way to passive-aggressively showcase model minority designer immigrants to the recalcitrant poor as reminders that they’re disposable and replaceable.

Free tea and dumplings at the Irvine Metrolink station in observance of the Chinese New Year? Fuck off, yuppie scum. I can make my own goddamn hot and sour soup.

No, I don’t feel good for having written this. I feel gross. But it has to be said. A pushy, clannish immigrant constituency driving the native stock out of the neighborhood it has colonized is no occasion for tolerance. It’s an invasive horde. It should be given no quarter. Like hell I’m here to celebrate their immigrant story when they’re behaving so rottenly and in such bad faith and I, a native Californian, am sleeping in my Focus again. God, it must be really alienating to live in Irvine as an affluent member of the neighborhood ethnic majority.

So, no, I don’t mind gloating over their being a federal judge’s bitch. They brought it upon themselves. Judge Carter gave Orange County’s municipal governments all kinds of time to fix a human rights disaster that they’d caused, and instead of making a bona fide, adult effort to fix it, they caved to pressure from their worst constituents and did jack shit. The last thing I’m willing to excuse is a bunch of calculating foreign-stock shitheads whimpering like Otto Warmbier because they’re subject to the jurisdiction of the federal courts of the country where they chose to immigrate, like they have any cause to be upset. We have a judiciary precisely to restrain such graceless thugs when they take over elected governments and pervert due process to their private ends. That’s privilege. My using language like money chink to smear bad people who probably call me white devil or some shit in private is not.

The only other thing I’ll say about this is that I want the eventual PBS documentary about this spat to prominently feature the same spare, poignant fiddle music that Ken Burns used for the Lewis and Clark story. I reckon those motherfuckers were more racist than I am, and since this shit is already absurd, I demand that it be aesthetically absurd. No, I have one more demand: that the accompaniment be performed by an all-American bum, of whatever race (even a drop of Chinese blood would be epic), who took up the violin at the age of, like, forty, not by some fucking asshole who clawed into the principal’s chair in the high school orchestra in an effort to secure admission to Wellesley. As Wesley Willis, neither of him a reach school, might have said, GO DIPLOMATS BITCH!

Damned if that isn’t the most wholesome character to wander into this story yet. That’s what happens when you’re told that you have to stop yelling like a wild animal in the Genesis on Western. His problem was that he didn’t clean up well enough to yell like a wild animal in the Irvine City Council chambers.

Cholleycod

To my relief, my greatest apprehension about traveling through Boston was not realized. My fear–and you really shouldn’t be surprised if you’ve been paying attention; this isn’t a particularly novel insight–my fear concerned the dismaying possibility that at some point in the course of my interline connection between Logan and South Station I’d be forced to get Charlie off. CHAHLEE!

But enough about working at CBS. Shit, guys, the T kicks ass. Boston isn’t like Atlantic City, where it’s something like a mile from the train station to the Boardwalk or several blocks from the bus station. In Boston you can take the train right to the fucking beach. It can’t be more than about half again as far from the Wonderland terminus to the beachfront gazebos as it is trackside from the Sacramento Amtrak depot, and it’s a beautiful trip on one of America’s most fly as shit rides. The Suffolk Downs station is immediately across the street from a Bayfront marsh, and you know what Teddy always told Mary Jo: the mash, that’s pat of the sea, too. Don’t look at me like that; I’m not the one whose permanent senior US Senator got drunk enough to Ride the Ducks. Yeah, yeah, I know: the Harris lady. But at least we don’t have an entire family devoted to that crap for three generations running.

I never expected to find such low-key chill-as-fuck neighborhoods so close to the airport on such an excellent rapid transit line. Now that I’ve been there, I can’t wait to get back to Sacramento and once again watch RT catastrophically fuck everybody’s shit up. Run Can Car consists all day every day and it’ll still be a next to useless shit show. I checked, and my voter registration was approved, so I lives there, and I is in fact coming back in shortly, but as I keep saying, my plants deserve better than that. The navel orange trees on the Capitol grounds aren’t the only Brazilian thing about that, uh, City of God.

It’s hard to believe that I didn’t miss Boston’s city parts of town in the six hours between landing and rolling out for Schenectady, scratch that, Rensselaer because Metro-North got FUBAR from treefall and the combined Lake Shore Limited reached Cleveland at about two in the afternoon. It’s certainly true that the regional affluenza is wicked out of control wicked north. Prior to this week, I’d been to Boston twice that I could remember, excluding a round trip through Logan on the way to and from Lake Winnipesaukee, which I just needed three tries and the internet to relearn how to fucking spell, at the age of three and a half. That was the week of the Challenger disaster, or, as I explained it, the thing where the space shuttle blowed up and all the people falled off.

It’s too bad that wasn’t a Harvard mission. For such a stupid and arrogant crew they sure keep enough retainers around who care about the O Rings and the deicing protocols. The main thing I remember from Harvard and awah feyah surrounding city, other than the jackasses the admissions department sent to talk to my group who were so unprofessional and flippant that I refused to apply, was that I couldn’t quite put a finger on what was wrong with it all but it all just seemed kind of fucked up. In retrospect, I realize that I probably felt that way because it was super fucked up. The traffic and the street system (it ain’t a grid) were definitely fucked up, to the extent that I ended up on the wrong side of the Charles River because I missed a turnoff sign by fifty feet, and the drivers were total assholes. I was timid enough to believe my dad on an earlier trip, when I was in my early teens, that we’d waste the whole trip waiting on trains if we took the T; it wasn’t until I finally went on my own this week that I confirmed that the worst streets covered up the best rapid transit.

If I tried, I’m sure I’d be able to find assholes around there who complain that Uber is too slow and expensive. After all, Brookline is overflowing with these shitheads, who aren’t quite moneyed enough to have their driver fetch the car but are close enough to be quietly resentful that, like Moses, they will never quite make it to that promised land, tantalizingly near though it is, a thing they can see and do not cease trying desperately to reach but can never properly take into their possession. Matthew Stewart, the author of the Atlantic article in the link, is descended from a dipshit who inherited enough oil money to buy a Bentley and some club memberships and, registered social version of Cousin Gigolo that he was, blew it on exactly that. Steve Almond, the smarmy fuck who went to one of the high schools that I might have attended on a different timeline, lives in Arlington, and his celebrated Palo Alto schools appear in Stewart’s article as the top eleven public elementary schools in all of California. We’re dealing here with a hardcore elite stupid enough to give a shit about bridge and the Social Register and a class of not-quite-arrived arrivistes so desperate to join them that, cash-strapped slumdogs with a cool half mil in equity in newly renovated Brookline houses that they are, go online to try to hire part-time governesses for their brats.

I swear, these fucking asswipes need to be sentenced to Fresno.

Cities where over half of the adult population holds graduate degrees are not normal. Neither is asking the clerk at the bodega why the same bottle of wine is cheaper at Whole Foods. That’s another thing that Harvard men and women do. Whenever I think of the utterly appalling expectation that the rest of us defer to these self-important idiots as our social, intellectual, and moral betters, William Buckley’s fantasy about being governed by the first hundred names in the Boston telephone directory is a point well taken. To paraphrase Winston Smith, the proles around there look well-adjusted enough to maybe save the bourgeoisie from itself, because like hell will Harvard’s bumper crops of psychiatrists and arm-cutters do anything so thoughtful for their own people. No, seriously, if I had kids I’d rather leave them under the supervision of the baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants I saw around Logan than with most of the people I knew in college, and anyone who insists that I’m anti-intellectual for saying so is a goddamn fool. I despise these gobshites BECAUSE I have a life of the mind.

America’s meritocratic winners would have us all assume that, just as they insist, what they’re doing is ordered to the enforcement of the labor theory of value; like, Atul Gawande has critical, hard-to-replace medical skills that an airport ramper does not, and that’s why their kids are all investment bankers. There are all kinds of ways to fall short of one’s potential as a productive member of society, but it gets awfully tiresome to listen to these assholes reflexively dignify their socioeconomic peers no matter how useless or destructive their work objectively is and without objection keep up the pretension that white-shoe law and marketing are worthy, important lines of work in ways that making sure the bags are loaded onto the plane so that it doesn’t crash and keeping the plane from being backed into another plane are not.

Then these assholes complain to one another about the tile guy not showing up right when they needed him there to renovate their kitchens, and how that meant they had to eat Thai takeout for a month. With that attitude on the customer end and jobs that serve no legitimate social purpose, why the fuck should the tile guy show up at all? Of course he’s in it for the money, and he was probably booked solid doing the same pointless work for other insufferable yuppies, but why the hell shouldn’t he be walking around Barnstable stuffing his face with chowder all day instead? I eat an awful lot of Thai food for a white boy without an apartment, and you don’t hear me complaining about too much green curry.

We might be able to understand this situation without NPR, but that wouldn’t induce enough vomiting. What did Werman and his twerpkin have to bitch about while I was on my way to the airport to fly to Boston the other day? Why, another fucking complaint about how Americans don’t want to take seasonal food service jobs in tourist towns on Cape Cod. It isn’t Groundhog Day because the feds won’t admit Jamaicans on demand to fill barista jobs; it’s Groundhog Day because this same goddamn horseshit about how Americans are shitty employees and this inconveniences rich restaurant-goers is on the fucking state radio again. Brahmins had to wait in line because there weren’t enough Jamaicans, mon, and barring the national door to lawful temporary entry by nonimmigrant noble savage kitchen jockeys is not cool, mon.

The restaurant that this radio-enabled whine-one-one call profiled is called, I shit ye not, Hot Chocolate Sparrow, and it’s owned by, again, Scout’s Honor, a Perry Sparrow. NPR devoted nationally syndicated airtime to a complaint about how it takes longer to get hot chocolate in a fancy restaurant on Cape Cod than at, I dunno, a Cumberland Farms in Schuylerville. Here’s another idea: go the grocery store and buy some Swiss Miss, say hi to Anthony if he’s working, and SHUT THE FUCK UP.

You’d think that, America being a free-market country and all, Mr. Sparrow and fellow birds of his feather could address their labor shortage by, say, paying twelve months’ wages for three or four months’ work and maybe providing decent free housing as well. Instead we get to listen to fucking Jonathan Livingston Seagull complain about how he spent the entire season waiting on the government to approve his Jamaicans, on the premise that we’ll grant the dude the minimal judgment needed to competently run a small business. I don’t care about the moral value or lack thereof of overpaying Cape Cod’s food service line workers, and it’s certainly no game in which I have skin since I’m planning to spend another summer making less than minimum wage for farm work with dignity, mostly, but either their timely labor is worth a market premium or it isn’t, and given the general market conditions in that part of the country, I’m guessing that it’s worth more to the owners than the swing shift at a Lake George Stewart’s in February.

And I’m the last person to tell the help that it needs to be more enthusiastic about serving yuppies for minimum wage. I disappear from the blueberry gig when the dignity flies the coop and don’t return until it sounds like the bullshit has attenuated, and that’s a job that actually is time-critical in the sense that the fruit will rot, not make-believe time-sensitive in a waah the weather is getting le cold and I wanna go to Florida way. Even so, my bosses don’t berate me about how much trouble they have finding and keeping help, and I haven’t found them berating the public about this shameful state of affairs on its (sic) national radio network. If Perry Mason Birdman can’t make the job tolerable enough to keep Americans on duty in spite of the shit wages he pays, that’s on him, and probably on his customers on a pretty regular basis. Remember, this is the set that summers on the Cape. Maybe the free-market rate to get Americans or already work-authorized foreigners to put up with these assholes for a summer is roughly what an Amtrak conductor would make with overtime in a year. Given that they’re obviously dealing with worse shit at work than I do at the same time of year, I can’t begrudge them whatever they’re making. As I said, I don’t get lectured at work, both because I don’t tolerate managerial horseshit on piece rate and also because my bosses are generally pretty decent about that stuff, get off their bullshit pretty quickly if they have been back up on it, and obviously mean well. Being in the back of the house doesn’t hurt, either. My fellow Sacramentans may not treat my plants decently, but my plants treat me great.

Come to think of it, getting Charlie off must pay better than any of this, although I’m sure Cousin Gigolo would find a way to lowball his own rate until it doesn’t.

Jimmy quit, Jody got married, shoulda known we’d someday get Gross

It could be worse. We could talk about the other Terry and relapse into acute Kathoholicism. We’ve done that before.

Nah, only on NPR could it be worse. So guess what? It’s on fucking NPR. I’m trying to boycott this interview with a navelgazing Limey songstress I could have sworn I’d never heard of in my life, and since I haven’t opened any of the overly copious NPR livestreaming services on my laptop, I’m currently succeeding. *Terminal Robert Dziekanski voice* And I guess you could say I’m “current” ly dying over here.

God, what a shock that always is. If you go to the trouble of listening to that interview or reading the highlights, neither being anything that I’d recommend, you’ll discover that it’s worse than anything I have to say about the RCMP. I.e., mostly about how they killed that one Pole, but there’s no reason it can’t be about how they sexually harass their own. For the same reason, the linked interview is worse than anything NPR will ever have to say about maladjusted Mounties, artistically or otherwise. If we’re going to carry on about dipshits with residual feudal duties to the Queen and chronic sociosexual dysfunction, we ought to carry on about the ones with the clipped cadences and the equally fine-ass two-tone field blues, not some borderline-Eurotrash emo civvy in a poorly fit Marimekko-style top and her excessive discography. We might as well at least find a crew that dresses well for its sexual harassment and its command mismanagement, not the lady who looks like she’s wearing long sleeves to hide the cutting scars on her forearms. Let’s call it “Of Corporals, Cocksuckers, and Cowardice.” Let us all, in one spirit, lift up our voices from the fish pond to the sky and rundel in that jungle.

NPR can’t even put the fun into the dysfunction. It’s not as if they’re spending the hour interviewing someone who’s mature, organized, and focused on the important things. This is someone who released an antinatalist retrospective on the virtues of hormonal birth control, in song. Contraceptive music exists, and it’s every bit as bad as pro-life music. One didn’t want a baby, but then one wanted a baby, and by then it was hard to have a baby. Additionally, Tracey Thorn has records about how much it sucks for a girl to not really be one of the guys even though she’s in their band, to be denied the traditional male license to be a derelict permaflaneur (because this is totally about sex and has never been about class), and to date a romantic derelict with a guitar who turns out to be emotionally hostile or distant or flaky or unstable or some shit. A woman, she tells us, can have a guitar, too.

Don’t look at me all weird for publishing Gerry and the Heartstoppers “tunes.” I’m not involved in any of the above horseshit. True story: I once got halfway involved in a love triangle with a bipolar chick whose main boyfriend, the one she wouldn’t disclose to her parents because they were Catholic and he was a Jewish atheist, met her because he was working on a documentary about Charlie “Murder is the Charge!” Robertson and she was babysitting for the district attorney. That whole thing was a dumpster fire by week four or five. I turned into a horrible emotional mess when it undeniably failed. I didn’t publish a fucking sob song about it and then go on NPR. Neither did I ever, nor do I plan to ever, pollute the Anglophone songbook with emo shit about how the thicc Jewess with the dead sexy Chicagoland accent who probably wanted to fuck me but I couldn’t tell because she turned me off with what seemed to be her idea of foreplay, specifically, pushing all five fingernails against my kneecap, hard, and spreading them out in unison.

This shit doesn’t need to be on NPR. It’s why we have YouTube and blogs. If you’re feeling (Mos)sad about these things, sing a song, and you’ll feel better, and I’ll feel better if you keep it to your damn self. It makes all too much sense that Fleetwood Mac’s “Sara” is a wistful pro-life ballad. Are we all supposed to be sad that what’s-her-name aborted the Henley brat? It was, like, forty years ago, and it wasn’t our fucking kid. Do we really have to keep hearing about that? Some family friends, also Baby Boomers, who were dating back then eventually had a child because they got queasy about the repeated abortions that resulted from their unplanned pregnancies, and now they have grandkids, but again, they didn’t commemorate it in a fucking acoustic storm.

Speaking of desperadoes, etc., it seems that the Henley fellow was inspired to vomit out his own god-awful bit of musical moralizing about the wrongfulness of gossip because he was starting to be accused of being a mob-adjacent Roy Moore-grade Quaalude teenybopper. Or, as Rex Tillerson might say, moron this shortly.

We’d all do better if the entirety of our public discourse about family values or the lack thereof were a Socratic monologue with Ali G.: “Sex: what is it all about? And babies: what is THAT all about? Is it good, or is it wack?” The moment people with opinions on this shit try to express them in cultural media, we end up with mewling assholes getting airtime in Redding to sing about letting all the babies be born. That shit won’t stop abortion. It will, however, degrade music.

None of these fuckheads, on either side of our wedge issues, is making society better through artistic advocacy. It isn’t a Satanic red herring to point out that allowing elevated levels of lead to persist in public drinking water supplies, and not just in Flint, either, has horrible effects on prenatal, neonatal, and childhood health and development. Hardcore pro-lifers put me off with their shrillness and enemy-of-the-good idealistic extremism, but I am not concern-trolling the movement by pointing out that their failure to raise hell over the contamination of water supplies right here in the United States demonstrates their insincerity and incoherence. Lead contamination is causing women to miscarry when they want to carry their babies to term. Ritually yelling at the Congress and the Supreme Court every spring doesn’t do a damned thing to remedy this ongoing disaster. You might as well take the youth ministry group down to the Tidal Basin to contemplate life and death, time and eternity, and the gratuitous sexuality of fruitless flowering ornamental plants under the cherry trees. I might as well go down to the Capitol Mall in Sacramento to contemplate how bitchin’ Senegal date palms are under the Senegal date palms. The rains can bless that, too, right here, right now. Alternately, we can bless the sprinkler system, only to have the state turn parts of it off for months on end to show Californians what a dry lawn looks like. #TheMoreYouKnow.

The Boomers are great for anyone who wants to listen to complaints about how having children is terrible and also not having children is terrible, and the only possible way to resolve this existential crisis is public art therapy. The pro-life vs. pro-choice standoff is not all that much more than two dueling lobbies of bougies with too much time and disposable income on their hands defaming one another for the feels. If they wrote “Anything Helps, God Bless” on their signs instead, they might get a positive return on their investments, but hooray for our signs, amirite. On our leading public radio afternoon arts show, the antinatalist-turned-natalist of these complaints get mixed up with grievances about how, aw oyt, mate, back when I was twenty Oy had some mates who were in me band and they didn’t act like Oy was to’ally one of them because me was a chick, not a bloke. Yeah, not having a perfect clique of friends in one’s teens and twenties is possible only for chicks, not for dudes.

Terry Gross could have asked, so, like, do you have cousins or siblings who have kids, so you could maybe, like, be involved in their lives instead, you know, but that would have been off-topic in a discussion about how the coordination of one’s own family planning, feminism, and possible woke polyamorous lesbianism is le hard and merits the more than occasional song. Plus, it would upset the neoliberal apple cart to question the breaking up and dispersion of what would otherwise be intact extended families. If we discover that this is deleterious for Limey cunts with disposable income, we might discover that it’s really bad for indigent New Orleanians, and if that happened we might start voting for elected officials who scandalize NPR’s sponsors.

There are from time to time artists who can cover these themes appropriately: Croce, Joel, Rodriguez, Winehouse. None of them are this emo Limey cunt who just spent most of an hour on the radio, more like Whinehouse, I have to say. It isn’t due to the Jews; look at the Jews we embargo in this discourse. Sure, half-Jews, mostly, but that never stopped Jeff Bezos from being absoslute piece of shit. If I’m off dicking some hooker who already has kids, at least I’m not singing piss-ass songs about the piddling deficiencies of my family life when I could be devoting my energy to expressing more serious grievances that might be resolvable instead, and neither is the hooker. The only song we need about that is the one about how they tried to make me go to Rahab.

I’m probably pissing into the wind by mouthing off about NPR again when I know where to find wild bay laurel three miles from here, but at least I just missed half of Fresh Air, all of that fucking Boston international relations dorkfest with the Werman twerp, and the first broadcast of Marketplace. I also missed a rare opportunity to meet Donna Apidone, Devin Yamanaka, and Randall White People in person at New Helvetia. Now, how DO I keep misspelling that man’s name? I have no idea what’s happening, Randall; I’m just a fat cracka who spends too much time on the light rail. I could have actually fucking met these fools today; not sure I’d have had to pay for the honor, in which case no way in hell was I meeting any of them. Say what you will about my knowing who they are and how to spell their names; that can’t say anything good about me. Just remember this: what bougies who maybe didn’t have kids when they should have need is friends or therapists; they don’t need platforms or audiences, and you don’t need that set of fucking Cap Radio pint glasses.

What’s going on, Ed, back home in SoCal is better than any of this shit up here. I really have to go, though, both because I’ve had enough internet for the afternoon and because it’s that time of day again when there are updates at least every half hour regarding legal developments involving the President’s outside counsel, the dirty movie lady, and maybe even that prune-ass sticky-fingered roller shithead from the Auburn Police Department. No time for a roast, Joey; this is civics.

Strokes of the Kaine

Let’s start with the TL;DR: Bernie would have won. It’s been whine o’clock in Chappaqua for years, and in the midst of the endless, insufferable, and deeply shameful carrying on by America’s most shameless about the advanced Transatlantic Russian electronic mind control that obviously determined the outcome in 2016, it’s easy to forget about the baggage that Hillary lost along the way, notably including her running mate.

We must not do Occam’s Razor these days. Interpret that as a description or a prescription, however you fucking please, but it’s true. America is a nation of Americans, and Russia is a nation of Russians. Russians aren’t particularly good English speakers, and in general small-c cultural terms, I don’t care for them. They’d be better off, and so would we, if they were more like Poles or Czechs than the frigid mess that they so long have been. Either way, they aren’t a whole lot like us, and this truth regularly seeps through in interactions with them. I’ve known acculturated immigrants from Mother Fatherland and its near satellites who slip into recognizable Slavic authoritarian patterns without warning. These are people who speak unaccented or barely accented English and have lived here for years.

The Kremlin didn’t have hundreds of crack operatives capable of catfishing as old-stock birthright Americans holed up in a goddamn cube farm to conduct remote internet warfare. That did not fucking happen. I guarantee it. The level of idiomatic fluency assumed in this delusion is rare in Russia, and the Russian government would not waste the career of anyone possessing it on intensive pen pal bullshit with a handful of mentally ill swing voters in the United States. Realize, since the mainstream media are too fucking retarded to say so, that this mass delusion of persecution by coldwater catfish assumes entire office blocks chock full of underpaid junior operatives who make Sergei Lavrov sound like an eighth-grade dropout. If that’s the case, I’m General Stroganoff; please, to the table, for Beef.

Sure, the targets of whatever electoral campaign the Kremlin pursued weren’t the savviest, but if we’re worried about their susceptibility to mind control, maybe we should fucking think critically about the acceptability of the domestic Bernaysian aggression that pervades our mainstream media and has for just about an entire century. Or maybe we should think about actually teaching critical thinking in our schools or on our public broadcasting platforms. We don’t get to blame a random foreign government for an occasional campaign of the same shit that we allow our own elites to do with complete impunity all the fucking time. I am not exactly Charlotte Simmons, but I do not hold with that. Go berate someone else for being Putin’s useful idiot.

Let’s assume that a few socially isolated voters were persuaded by people they assumed were Americans because they claimed to be Americans. This isn’t good, but neither is plenty else about American politics, such as our habit of spending not just hundreds of millions but billions of dollars per cycle on presidential campaign advertising. If we’ve got gullible dipshits in our electorate, it’s up to us to try to reach them and win them over, and it’s on us if we, as their relatives, acquaintances, neighbors, and fellow citizens, abandon them and let someone else reach out to them instead.

Then again, 2016 wasn’t the first time absolute wackjobs turned out to vote in an American election. We have entire political movements and partisan factions devoted to them. Any competent left-of-center politician accounts for the baseline of these freaks and comes up with a strategy to overwhelm their votes with those of a silent majority of those not completely off their rockers.

This is nothing new. The internet is quasi-new, but candidates have been navigating a landscape littered with voters and activists deranged by febrile campaigns using state-of-the-art communications media for as long as there have been media and electoral campaigns. Again, the winning strategy is to recognize that such people exist and to outmaneuver them by appealing to other voters who aren’t batshit insane.

This isn’t difficult for competent politicians. Bernie Sanders did not have any such difficulty. Hillary Clinton did. Duh. He was a strong communicator with a compelling message; she was a piss-poor communicator with a message that freaked voters out and pissed them off, as well as an aura of scandal going back decades.

She could have chosen Bernie as her running mate to shore up her weaknesses, so who did she choose? #TIMMEH! Who else? It must all be Russia’s fault, not that she had the atrocious judgment to bring that simpering ball of smarm on board to double down on Acelaland, but that ordinary Americans didn’t respond enthusiastically. Our swing voters obviously got punked by Boris and Natasha running Our Hearts Go Out to the Bismarck Family, Sad Day for Otto Von game. There’s no way that anyone looked at Tim Kaine and thought, good God, what a putz.

Tim Kaine was great for Hillary’s three-coast strategy: East Coast, West Coast, and Gold Coast. Granted, no one in the national party meant to win much of the other third coast, namely the Gulf; the Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth is a Republican tune in our time. Mercy, Mr. Secessions! That doesn’t explain all that interior flyover country, though. Oops. Someone fucked up, and it wasn’t the someone inveighing against the billionaire class.

Tim Kaine, to his credit, has been pretty quiet since his fifteen minutes of fame as a national subaltern failure. Hillary, meanwhile, has been all too loud, but not about what the fuck she was ever doing bringing that fey-looking twerp on board. It’s hard to think of another presidential candidate who insisted on such a ridiculous strategy in choosing a running mate. Bill Clinton choosing Al Gore was close, but doubling down on the solid South made sense for a campaign that was so strong in the North. Eisenhower and Nixon were two middle-class guys from the old Union West, but they were a career military officer and a lawyer from states thousands of miles apart, and temperamentally complementary enough. Otherwise, we’ve had Obama and Biden, Bush and Cheney, Kerry and Edwards, McCain and Palin, Romney and Ryan, Kennedy and Johnson, FDR and Truman, Reagan and Poppy Bush, Bush and Quayle, etc. These guys didn’t all love the shit out of those they chose, but they bit the bullet, if there was one to bite, because they valued their own electoral success.

Why the fuck should Hillz be judged differently? LBJ was hands down more obnoxious before Bobby and Broad-Bangin’ Jack than Bernie has ever been before anyone in his public life. If His Vigga had the patience to suffer Lyndon Baines Jumbo for the Southwestern balance that he brought to his otherwise High New English ticket, why the fuck shouldn’t anyone have expected Hillary to tolerate the most popular politician in her party as a running mate for his electoral strength in a big swath of Appalachian and Midwestern swing states? And why should we think that her bringing that smarmy NoVa Peace Corps Spanish dork onto her ticket to lock down Virginia and Maryland, reliable Democratic states both, was meant as anything but a fuck-you to the losers elsewhere whose votes she needed so much more? Not all of us signed up for the neoliberal operant conditioning and compliance testing. Some of us noticed space on the Trump Train, or the Stein Steamer. Quite a bit of space on the latter, as it turned out, but bitch we got 5.5% in Humboldt County.

Don’t come whining now; the other #Her, #With whom one was expected to be, crushed Trump in Humboldt in spite of that. The granolas weren’t able to fuck up a single county in California for Hillary, but we’re still hearing about what rat bastards we were for not voting for her, and I hate brown rice. I’m one of the ones who nearly voted for Trump, lesser of two evils and all.

I probably would have voted for Bernie as the second in succession, but I wasn’t offered that option, and I didn’t feel like scribbling anything onto my ballot. I’m not the only one. Sanders would have crushed Pence in the general election. Pence was a sensible running mate for Trump to choose, by the way; he brought the risk of alienating moderates but the promise of winning over our highly organized religious extremists. If you’re gonna run a smarmy dork, you might as well run one who actually has a base of support. The Republicans understand this; the Democrats blame anyone who points this out.

No, I don’t feel like doing the math of how Bernie would have won the election for Hillary if she hadn’t kept ratfucking him and his voters after securing his endorsement. It would have been more overdetermined than Trump’s electoral win ultimately was. 538 minus less than 268 is more than 270. QED, cracka.

God, it was only two years ago that elaborate stories of Russian mind control were considered fit for the al fresco mental health community, but we have more important considerations than our dignity now. If we can’t blame Putin, we might have to recall that Tim Kaine sucked ass, and I guess that wouldn’t be as much fun. Puti-Poo has his disrepute, to be sure, but damned if he doesn’t keep the worthiest enemies. We should all be proud to be, so to speak, Marching Together against such liberal scum, and since I was expected to suck on Tim’s Kaine, I see no reason not to expect any of America’s horrified and scandalized pseudoliberal bourgeoisie to suck on that. After all, they’re too busy pretending that Donald Trump is our first Vulgarian-American president to remember that Lyndon might have encouraged them to do likewise on his Johnson.

You can be fired for getting diarrhea

Bear with me. This thing is about to go from gross to frighteningly pertinent.

It’s Good Friday night, and having broken the Lenten fast due to associations with the secular, my most grievous fault, etc., I’ve been on the shitter every quarter to half hour with a painful case of diarrhea. Did I ask anyone for urgent bowel movements that feel like anal rape from within? No. Do I accept this affliction as a form of communion with Christ’s passion and a forcible penance? Sure. It’s not like this wouldn’t be happening if I’d rather it didn’t. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, lama sabachtha–na, that’s getting shrill.

No, this is not a Knausgaard story. That motherfucker didn’t have a point beyond gah I just took a big shit and gah I’m too neurotic and dysfunctional to call the front desk for a plumber. My point is that I was incapacitated, indisposed, as they used to periodically say about the ladies. It was painful and disruptive. Depending on the tense I should actually use, it is literally a pain in the ass. I’ve been dealing with this sickness whose origin and treatment I can’t discern, and it’s serious enough that it would interfere with any work I might be trying to do. It started an hour or two before I started writing this, and it seems to be abating already, but if I had to go to work or do anything else important tomorrow morning, the disruption this episode of diarrhea caused my sleep schedule might well make it impossible for me to function adequately or even safely. Trust me, it’s fucking painful.

That’s the crux of it, though, isn’t it? Countless bosses would not trust an employee who called in sick or late with this story, no matter its utter truth and sincerity. Oh, you’ve spent the last three days in the hospital being treated for a gunshot wound? Well, that’s three no-call-no-shows in a row. You should have called in sick. Three strikes and you’re out. No, I did not just make that up. I read about it, and I believe it. Or if you do call in sick because you’re actually sick you get fired for absenteeism. That happens, too. The stories are endless and utterly inexcusable. I’m surprised that there aren’t more accounts of women being fired for pregnancy, labor and neonatal absences, and minor menstrual problems. American bosses are vicious and lawless enough to do any and all of that, and they’re stupid enough. The good apples don’t purify the barrel; the bad ones poison it. A few years ago the HR asshats at Jim Beam, I believe it was, demanded that female production floor employees notify them when they were menstruating so that the company could monitor and deter abuses of employee bathroom breaks. The employees, very reasonably, raised a fuss. Giving paranoid, abusive shitheads in management that sort of personal information for their data-based enforcement efforts is like giving a chimpanzee a graphing calculator: any math that results will be gibberish, and you’re gonna get beamed with a fucking calculator. It’s the classic TMI-TI-TBI progression.

There’s no personal information or unpreventable bad circumstance that bad employers won’t use against their employees. It could be political leanings, social media activity that some nosy, easily scandalized piece of shit finds offensive, childcare or eldercare obligations, health problems. Anything. Two simple explanations for why management thinks it can act this way are that the unions are busted and gone and bad bosses don’t get sued often enough. Only with a set of fucking horse blinders does the United States even fleetingly look overly litigious. Sure, bogus cases can be found clogging up the courts, but what’s more revealing are the meritorious cases that are not pursued. Wrecking another person’s employment or housing situation from a position of power and wealth and then defaming that person when asked about what happened bloody well should result in a lawsuit. Any dumbass can tell that there will be significant financial and emotional consequences for the employee or tenant. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to recognize that the way to minimize the bad experiences for the aggrieved subordinate party and to simultaneously minimize one’s exposure to liability for mistreatment is not to be that predatory piece of shit in the first place. It’s a sign of the fatal meekness of the American citizenry that the slumlords and bad bosses who pull this shit aren’t constantly choking on pro se actions brought by those they’ve wronged. That’s what should happen to those who harass people under their authority and then blackmail them with dossiers containing disparaging information that is almost certainly misleading and rarely serves any purpose but libel.

The constant recurrence of situations like these is how we can tell that the grotesque national scandal falsely advertising itself as “conservatism” in the United States today is bursting at its every orifice and area of anatomical weakness with its own shit. If the deranged reactionary ghouls infesting our major parties, especially the GOP, believed in the necessity of work, they’d publicly and wholeheartedly rebuke every employer that puts up bogus neoliberal obstacles to jobseekers finding, landing, and holding jobs. They’d declare every stunt of the sort an inexcusable attack on the readiness and fitness of the workforce and the economic security of the nation. If they believed in or cherished the dignity of work, they’d be unmistakably livid with every managerial- and capital-class shithead who purposely degrades work conditions for underlings. They’d call it a moral outrage, and their outrage would be credible. They wouldn’t side with petty tyrants whose main skills, or only skills, are in mistreating those beneath them and fabricating personnel documents to justify their own predatory behavior.

Paul Ryan, who does not work at Burger King, expects fry cooks to be gushingly grateful for the job-creating benevolence bestowed upon them by wage-thieving franchisees and shift managers who have neither the urbane, diffident civility of Eichmann around the office nor the residual humanitarian impulses of Quisling before the Armenians and who also think it makes sense to treat serious oil burns with mayonnaise instead of keeping a first aid kit on hand and calling 911. I used to work in fast food. The job is at once low-skilled and demanding. Any ablebodied person of basically sound judgment and normal morals can do it adequately after a partial shift of on-the-job training, but it’s generally underpaid, consistently tiring, and impossible for anyone who isn’t engaged, attentive, awake, and alert. On top of all of this, there are no standards for managers and owners at any level.

What made that crappy job tolerable enough at Hersheypark was that management acted relieved to have us show up for our shifts and complete them without incident and no one with any floor responsibility acted like what we were doing was a fucking career with great advancement potential. Management wasn’t grandiose enough to act like there were qualifications for our line of work other than showing up about on time, following instructions halfway decently, and having basic manners. That was over a decade ago. I’m mostly flying blind about what it’s like in the same burger shacks today.

Take a look at who shows up to berate the help, active and would-be, for being deficient and ungrateful for shitty minimum-wage jobs. It isn’t bottom-rung floor employees, and it isn’t even very much low-level managers. It’s franchisees, who delegate most of the dirty work, but mainly it’s useless eaters in the corporate head offices, Congress, and the think tanks. What do any of these storytelling asswipes know about competently doing anything productive for a living? If ever they did something of the sort, they’ve oddly left it behind for “work” that pays better and demands less. Yeah, totally, let’s listen in awestruck reverence to Habsburg fuckup Megan McArdle’s thoughts on what it takes to find and hold a job in our changing economy. There’s no way she’d be unable to support herself by her own talents in a meritocratic free market or get stupid enough on the fry line to fall into a fucking oil vat.

No shit there’s work to be done. No shit society stops working when no one does the work. Funny thing, though, McMegan doesn’t construe this work to include making sure that the cladding on residential highrises for the poor doesn’t catch fire and kill ninety or a hundred residents overnight. We’ve got an entire political movement, and let’s not kid ourselves, a rather bipartisan one, devoted to this sort of depraved thinking, to dignity and safety for me but not for thee. These are the great minds of high meritocratic theory. Yeah, well here’s some fucking meritocracy: there’s day-old egg foo young in a dumpster under the Major Deegan, and it’s time for Asymmetric Info to deservingly sup on it.

Bon appetit, bitch. Chow thee down.

Stirring the Bernays sauce into the /pol pot

The Cambridge Analytica scandal is a serious one for a change. The involvement of Anglo-American intelligence creeps alone is more compelling than the usual Boris and Natasha stories of our day; the puppeteers driving all this geopolitical hysteria use kid gloves around Langley and Her Majesty’s Spying Limeys, a habit of deference that frees them from their compulsion to smear the subjects of their reporting by making shit up or hallucinating absolute nonsense.

Personally, I’d sooner go to Cambridge for the oralytica; dentition isn’t always an asset. Don’t look at me like that. I’m not the one who targeted the socially isolated mentally ill with specialty political agitprop pandering to their worst paranoia and bigotries. This is obviously a devious, powerfully antisocial company. In addition to its psychological manipulation of troubled American losers, it has stirred up violent communal tensions in the Third World. Cambridge Analytica is a for-profit synthesis of Radio Mille Collines and MK Ultra. It’s a dangerous operation. There’s no telling how many people it will get killed or maimed by abetting unwitting dipshits to escalating hatred. Beyond some point, possibly already reached, it will become provably liable for homicide.

This is just the latest in a long line of technological advancements that became object lessons in the dangers of technology unrestrained by morals. We’ve seen this movie before: the Nazi death trains, IBM data management system, and better killing through chemistry; the gassing, gunning, and earthmoving horrors of the First World War; the atom bomb; the blanket napalming of Vietnam. The CA creeps deserve to be the subjects of multiple Interpol warrants. They know that they’re playing with fire, and they laugh at anyone who warns them about the danger and evil of what they’re doing. Governments are going to need to regulate this sort of manipulation aggressively and impose meaningful consequences on those who insist on engaging in it.

At the same time, it can’t be stressed enough that these stunts worked in the United States because we’re a badly dysfunctional and sick society.

The salient effect, of course, was the election of Donald Trump. As I’ve said before, his election was overdetermined. He was a politically savvy candidate running against an unbelievably wretched and off-putting opponent. He also benefited from voter suppression in North Carolina (and probably other states) and took advantage of a political vacuum that Hillary Clinton allowed to develop in the Midwest by bizarrely not making any campaign visits of her own. Trump won over the balls-to-the-wall reactionary asshole contingent of the small business community (if I may repeat myself, perhaps), right-wing evangelical Christians, and historically Democratic-leaning industrial workers, both active and laid off. By no means were the Pepe shut-ins the only thing he had going in his favor. The Donald figured out how to use the Electoral College to his advantage, and Hillz did not, but this is a, uh, peculiar institution that presidential candidates in the United States have had to navigate for our entire fucking history as an independent nation.

We might determine as a polity that it is fundamentally illegitimate for a less popular candidate to be able to override a trailing national popular vote margin of three million with a margin of fewer than a hundred thousand votes in a handful of swing states and abolish the Electoral College. Or we might not. The point is that this is nothing new. We went through this same shit in Bush v. Gore in 2000, and the entire system came away looking much less legitimate than it did after 2016. Let’s not kid ourselves: allowing a bunch of white preps to form a mob and intimidate election officials and simultaneously allowing a combination of crooked politicians and a hapless, dysfunctional tallying process to flip a national election by blowing it in a single state is the kind of shit we’d endlessly denounce if it happened in Venezuela. Instead of recognizing that it’s a serious problem here at home, too, we’ve got a widening swath of the anti-Trump faction worshipping George W. Bush, the guy who won the filthy 2000 election by having his dirty tricksters fuck shit up in Florida, as an indispensable elder statesman in our current time of political crisis.

We’ve got a lot more to confront here than just Cambridge Analytica. Blaming it for the exploitation of gullible losers won’t do anything for these targets of its psy-ops, whose vulnerability is damning evidence that they’ve been allowed to fall through the cracks. What CA did here was to exploit a societal weakness; we’re the society responsible for allowing ourselves to get so weak in the first place. CA was able to identify and target people who were living their troubled lives online. The striking thing is that these targets were stable enough to turn out to vote, i.e., presumably stably housed and in touch with others in real life in some fashion. It was targeting people who were in bad shape but significantly better shape than anyone at the socioeconomic rock bottom. We’re talking mostly about people who got funny around the edges as their lives deteriorated, not disheveled, incoherent bums wandering around skid row with heaped-over shopping carts.

Here’s what I want to know. If we had intact extended families and communities, wouldn’t someone from meatspace have reached out to visit with these losers? Wouldn’t someone have invited them over for dinner or out for coffee? Years ago Psychotarp invited me over to his tarp for chips and salsa, and Mixups in my Mind came along because he didn’t have anything else that conflicted with eatin’ good in the neighborhood. #Funemployment, baby. This bum communion was as gracious as it was crazy. The nearly two hours of occasionally interrupted nonsense that I heard from these two got tiring, but one thing it was not was socially deracinated. These guys were wicked nuts, but they were socially engaged, and because I was cordial with them they didn’t have a problem when I disagreed with them or offered my own thoughts divergent from theirs. (The talking over me, which often happens with them, was just more of the classic crazy.)

There are always weirdos and eccentrics and recluses who insist on climbing down into rabbit holes and not coming up for air, but in healthy societies others close to them reach out. One of the scary things about the United States today is that this doesn’t seem to be happening much. The normies are too busy aggrandizing themselves or doing God knows what else, not much of it of any social benefit, to reach out and make the social calls that in healthier societies might keep the alt-reality types a bit more stabilized and engaged than they’d be left to their own devices. There are communities where this is still commonplace, notably the Amish and other Brethren congregations, who are on this ball more than some of their fellows would like, but these are insular, marginal communities that mainstream American society regards as curiosities more than anything else. The American church in the broad sense is useless here. With rare exceptions it has capitulated to the neoliberal assault on community cohesion, sometimes out of cravenness and sometimes out of sheer resignation before the magnitude of the problem.

This thirty years’ neoliberal war on community (maybe more like forty or sixty; you’re at liberty to do the math) has attacked secular and religious communities alike. The shit that was done to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was particularly vile, but there was no ideological drive behind it, just the culturally appropriative greed of a conspiracy of politicians and developers who wanted to grab more of that Who Dat Low Country and leave the displaced to fend for themselves, regardless of their religion, philosophy, politics, family status, sex life, or other identifiable cultural markers, although the redevelopers did largely target the poor. In my own life, I’m hardly in touch with anyone I knew in high school, and I’ve made an effort to stay in touch. Most of them seem to be chasing their fortunes wherever the chasing seems best. Frankly, this is really fucking sad.

Cambridge Analytica’s psy-op victims fell for crazy shit on the internet, but there’s all kinds of crazy shit on the internet. I come across it just about daily. Some of it I follow for fun. There is definitely some entertainment value to the highbrow bigoted raging in cesspits like Chateau Heartiste; why just be Lovecraft if you can also be the Lovecraftian monster? The more troubling thing is how many people actually fall for the crazy shit, don’t think about it at all critically, and aren’t in touch with anyone who’s able and willing to serve as a less deranged point of reference. What’s troubling is that these losers seem to keep falling through the cracks. Given the character of the people I knew in high school and college, though, I’m not surprised. Even people I admired, even ones I still admire, have chased off after their fortunes and would rather blame the losers they left behind back home for being losers than come back from time to time to try to engage with them. It is, after all, the world that we are to engage, not our dipshit townies. *GO DIPLOMATS!*

There’s no counting all the dipshits who think they’ll be able to fix this shit by listening to NPR. God help us. We don’t actually practice our politics on a fucking linear spectrum, and we probably never have. I know more college-educated dipshits than I could name from memory whose comprehension of political philosophy is cruder than I was able to gather from a fifth-grade US history textbook that I read mainly for its tasteful picture of an old-school 4-4-0 steam locomotive. W was right about that much, whether he actually said it nor not. Mind you, I’ve moved on to more impressive railroading imagery, but that was a pretty nice painting. We’ve got all the air supply Ghomeshi will allow us if we actually believe that NPR, CNN, and the New York Times are liberal. Lube me up and show me that haidt, Sweet Baby J. Capital Public Radio is still selling the fucking beer glasses with the portraits of Devin Yamanaka and Randall White People. I mean, uh. Call tonight and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a $500 Trader Joe’s gift certificate, but place your “evergreen” pledge and that set of fucking mugs is guaranteed to be yours.

What the fuck is “evergreen?” It means that they want your money. Duh. So does the Dunkin’ Doorman. It’s just that he doesn’t have a recurring draft option. That boy is, like our tankie friend above, old-school. One would hope that Cap Radio might someday get enough money and transcend the Dunkin’ Doorman by ceasing to ask for more of it, but I’ll be John Sutter if that ever happens. In the meantime, I’ll maintain some credibility to comment on the deterioration of American society, politics, and civics by not being the asshole with a set of NPR affiliate novelty pint glasses. What’s going on, Randall, is that.