Among those left behind

The guy who sued the Insurance Schmuck’s boss was recently found dead by his own hand in a hotel room. The Insurance Schmuck said that he lived exceptionally fast and loose and likely killed himself to avoid paying secret debts that were well beyond his financial ability. By his reckoning, dude was supporting himself with a sort of check-kiting scam on his very life, and now he leaves behind huge mess.

There’s obviously a lot wrong with this entire situation, but I’m still trying to put a finger on what exactly is so pathological about it. I take my exposure to it, even secondhand, as a personal affront and very much as evidence that the Insurance Schmuck has blundered into a clusterfuck that poisons everything it touches without the sense or the courage to cut bait on these toxic lunatics. He often talks to me about how loyal he is, and he’s right about that. The specific problems that he’s encountering with his loyalty to his boss are that ISB is out of control, many of the associates and loved ones that ISB has cultivated are also out of control, quite a few other people close to one or both of them in the business are out of control, and the Insurance Schmuck doesn’t have what it takes to stand up to these wackos.

Let’s rechristen ISB’s late estranged former business partner ISBP. The P can stand for plaintiff, too. Or for prick, or putz. #TeshTips: Arabic does not have a letter corresponding to P, and we are not Muammar Qaddafi’s loyal beebul. #PowerOfPride #BowerOfBride.

I can’t believe that ISBP didn’t have some meritorious claims against ISB. It’s possible but very unlikely. The Insurance Schmuck has made some hushed comments to me to the effect that ISB at least tried to chisel ISBP or dangle some bogus promises in front of him in bad faith. ISB as a shyster in his business life rings true enough. Even if ISBP exaggerated his claims, it’s hard to see what incentive anyone would have to sue a competent, reputable senior partner in a successful business, since there would be so much to be gained by just keeping the operation running smoothly.

It’s almost as hard to imagine an attorney wanting to take on a nutty client whose case sounds like horseshit or a persecution complex unless the defendant is either a loaded celebrity with a reputation to defend or a corporation. ISBP sued ISB as an individual, from what I’ve heard, one private citizen to another, and any corporations involved were small and obscure. Besides, ISB seems vain enough to thrash around defending his honor rather than paying a disgruntled ex-partner fuck-off money, and the Insurance Schmuck told me that he did exactly that, costing both of them six-figure legal bills and, in his opinion, shortening both of their lives. When he learned of ISBP’s suicide, he felt sadly vindicated in his prediction that they’d go to early deaths.

It was darkly humorous, then, to find an obituary for ISBP in the Lancaster Newspapers mentioning that he had died “unexpectedly.” I had an inside source at the Lancaster Newspapers (I’m Woodward Bernstein, bitch) who told me and some classmates in the 1990’s that the publishers had a strict policy against printing HIV or AIDS as a cause of death in their obituaries, so I wouldn’t put it past them to be equally chickenshit about suicide. Of course, many families don’t want to air that bit of grief, either. As my aunt from Manna’s Habba, the same one whose brother is the Staten Island diaspora’s premier self-loathing Jew, “he died of kansa!”

How long, in the plural, to the point of no return? That was bad, but as Robert Dziekanski said, better an electronic cut from the American Heartland than an electric cut straight outta Depot. ISBP wasn’t Aaron Hernandez, so I don’t want to make light of his suicide, exactly (even if I’m in no danger of going bottomfeeding like Rod Dreher did over the freshly late Ariel Castro), but there is something really fucked up and eerie about seeing a newspaper obituary that treats a guy’s death as a sad mystery and hearing details from a mutual contact indicating that the paper scurried around the edges of the really seedy cultural underbelly of the same guy’s life. After all the toxic bullshit I’ve gotten from my college crowd about the socioeconomic milieu that would or should be mine, it’s disturbing to get the impression that people I nearly met at prep school (and may have met fleetingly at some point) responded to a suicide catalyzed by very similar socioeconomic pathologies to the ones I kept encountering at college by blowing sunshine up everyone’s ass.

Reporting this guy’s suicide as a suicide isn’t red meat for the rubberneckers; in its context, there really is something newsworthy about it. There is a public interest in warning people away from the kind of dangerous living that got ISBP into trouble, if that’s actually what happened, and the Insurance Schmuck seemed reasonably well-informed about his background.

This isn’t to say that I take everything the Insurance Schmuck said about ISBP and his beef with ISB at face value. He told me that ISB and his then-girlfriend, the one whose breast implants he paid for, used a lot of hard drugs, which explained why Legacy Tits looked so awful. When I saw Legacy Tits at the pool earlier this summer, I thought she looked exceptionally poised and not particularly haggard for a woman her age. In retrospect, having done the Zuckerbergeois Google-fu to get her meatspace name and the full legal names of ISB and ISBP, I realize that I may have overestimated her age, possibly by five years, but I had a raging alcoholic friend in college, when we were both freshmen, who looked like she was pushing a grizzled forty. So, all in all, Legacy Tits didn’t look too bad. Her Facebook profile makes her look like she has Borderline Personality Disorder, but having seen her at the pool, I assume that’s basically a persona. She isn’t the first person (usually women, from what I can recall) who had such a whatthefuckular discrepancy between face-to-face conversations and Facebook.

ISB, on the other hand, looks like shit, and not that much unlike Rob Ford. Thinking over this whole mess, I’ve occasionally been consumed with total confidence that he’s a cokehead. He works in business circles that are traditionally awash in coke. He looks like a cokehead and he acts like a cokehead. Alcohol could explain much of it, as it did for the Mayor, but ISB, like the yachting dipshit who claims to get by on an hour of sleep a night, is burning the wick at both ends in a way strongly suggesting that he needs powerful slugs of stimulants to avoid falling into a delirium or passing out. And if ISBF hasn’t snorted base, I’m Pablo Escobar. Knowing how much of her upkeep comes from ISB, he’s probably where she gets her coke.

The Insurance Schmuck has no fucking idea if these two use cocaine, or amphetamines, for that matter. In a tossup, I’d still call coke, but I wouldn’t put it past ISB in particular to use Adderall or Ritalin off-label. The Insurance Schmuck has no clue that his boss and the projectile nut he’s engaged to marry use hard stimulants because, for one thing, they’re too politically astute and neurotic to tell someone who doesn’t seem to be down for some uppers that they use, and more generally, he’s totally oblivious and ignorant to the cultures of any drug but alcohol and the signs of use. He’d have to see someone roll up a Benjamin right in front of him and hoover up a line to get an inkling that, hey, that guy just took some coke.

The Insurance Schmuck knows practically nothing about drugs except what he’s heard from his crappy, powerfully illiberal sober living stories. I doubt it would occur to him that cocaine helps some people function in high-power office jobs and is within others’ ability to use without immediately going off the rails. He’s got this narrative in his head that substance abuse makes abusers inherently unable to function. That’s really what it is: a narrative, a shabby deep story, a suite of prejudices for an avowedly unprejudiced man from an avowedly unprejudiced family. I have no trouble seeing how ISB could integrate cocaine into a life that doesn’t also involve his sleeping on a piece of cardboard at Market East. I doubt it does him much holistic good, but I’ve had the strong sense since before I met him that he lives an awfully unbalanced and unhealthy life, a sense that he confirmed the night I met him when he met us at the bar and carried on in a fashion that may have been the sole effect of alcohol but alternately may have been facilitated by scheduled stimulants.

I don’t recall the Insurance Schmuck telling me how he knew that that ISBP and Legacy Tits were heavy drug users, but I can’t help but imagine ISB getting worked up and angrily calling them a couple of fucking cokeheads. There’s no reason for ISB’s own cocaine use to get in the way of such a tirade; no homo, he and ISBP went through the equivalent of a divorce, and ISB always seemed like one of the last people to admit his own failures and weaknesses. If the Insurance Schmuck has mentioned his own sober living theories, ISB has all the more incentive to smear ISBP and Legacy Tits as drug users. On the other hand, I got the sense that Legacy Tits had discussed her drug use with him, too.

What rankles me about this situation is not the drug use per se, but the appearance that the Insurance Schmuck and the shysters around him are using drugs as a cudgel while peacocking about their own moral superiority as sober businessmen who kick ass for a living. I use caffeine and a very occasional mug of beer, and the Insurance Schmuck seems to be having the wool pulled over his eyes by a number of close business associates who are hopped up on some hard, hard shit. If they aren’t on cocaine or amphetamines, they sure play the part. I take deep offense at insinuations that I’m less well-adjusted than these wackos, but I know that the Insurance Schmuck is interested in using me as a conduit to my parents’ eventual estate, because he’s said as much to me, but a bit less bluntly, and I know that these assholes all idolize wealth in the classic biblical sense. I pick fruit commercially for deep poverty wages. Why should I not think that these people have cultivated themselves into a crew of shambling reprobates?

And why shouldn’t I think that they’re dangerous? The Insurance Schmuck isn’t the root of the problem. If he were working for someone reputable, he wouldn’t be angling for a cut of my future inheritance with pitches that leave me with a gathering aftertaste of crassness and insensitivity. Under a scrupulous boss, he’d be blameless. Instead, he works for a shyster with substance abuse problems in a business full of such people, and so he covers for them and descends into a willful, strategic ignorance of how they’re behaving. The sales tactics that they use are shit, and there’s no compensating for that with solid products. Shitty tactics produce shitty customer reactions. That’s all there is to it. They are inevitably going to alienate and upset prospective clients by following scripts that turn them into fucking assholes. That is in the cards for as long as they keep reshuffling the same filthy deck.

So are the aggressive addicts. They provide a safe space for highbrow derelicts, and so the highbrow derelicts show up and shit the floor. One of my best friends works for a guy who got sued for fraud and breach of contract by a cokehead who committed suicide and left his ex-girlfriend out in the cold, with nothing to show for their relationship but a set of silicone knockers. The Insurance Schmuck said that ISBP left Legacy Tits out on the street. It may well not be that bad, whether she finds a sugar daddy or moves back in with family (either one is likely), but it doesn’t sound good.

It is reasonable of me to ask why the fuck he does business with such people and what the fuck he expects me to think of it.

Interstate Avenue

When I saw the No Washington Bottles sign on the wall at the Delta Park BottleDrop today, my first reaction was lol good luck with that. My second, much darker, thought was that OBRC might actually try to enforce the regulation against interstate smuggling. There’s absolutely no way in hell to enforce anything of the sort equitably. The closest thing to equitable enforcement would be a regime that uniformly checks the origin of every customer’s bottles. That would cause excessive burdens for the poorest, most desperate customers and choke the entire system on bureaucracy, bringing it to a sputtering halt. Compelling bottlers to label their bottles specifically for sale in Oregon as a condition of selling here is presumably beyond the pale politically. Bottlers have the operational and financial capacity to cope with a state-by-state labeling regime more readily than individuals can cope with an intrusive inspection regime, but they also have lobbyists, and the rest of us don’t so much.

The sign noted that some try-hard safety club administrative regulation allows bottle redemption centers to turn away bottles that they believe to have been purchased out of state and to refuse to accept bottles from customers with Washington license plates. To illustrate this, the sign’s background was a copy of the blue-on-white lithograph of Mount Rainier from the Washington license plate under the struck-through red circle from a no-smoking sign. Frankly, out-of-state tags aren’t probative of a damned thing. They’re going on the basis of prejudicial suspicion and nothing else. They don’t know where the hell anyone’s bottles were purchased because the inefficiency of certifying provenance and chain of custody, of treating like antiquities junk that someone just fished out of a fucking trash can, would crash the system. The cost of efficiency is some petty crooks bringing in bottles from out of state. Big fucking deal. Just this year the deposit in Oregon was raised from five cents to ten because the percentage of deposits redeemed had stayed below eighty percent for several years straight, so it’s a matter of public record that the bottle fund had a strong positive cash flow until at least last year.

So we’ve got this really fucking neighborly sign outlawing Washington two miles from downtown Vancouver (why, hello, neighbor!) and telling Washingtonians to fuck off and take their bottles to an appropriate recycling center that doesn’t offer deposits, in roughly the tone one would expect of a sign cautioning sexual perverts to go to McNeil Island for their civil commitment. Cascadia federalism will totally work, guys. It won’t be anything like US federalism, or even Canadian federalism. It totally won’t involve a state that sent an advisory team from its corrections department to teach its counterparts in Delaware how to revive the lost art of judicial hanging or had a death squad mace one of its own condemned men in extremis when he resisted his own Saddamnation. Nothing located anywhere between Clarksport and Blaine possibly makes Erin Sharma look human, and no one in North Portland has a beef with anyone on the other side of the Columbia for stealing the Oregon treasury’s shiznit.

The prospect of the regulations against the importation of deposit bottles actually being enforced raises the specter of authoritarian overreach by exactly the people who belong nowhere near positions of authority. If OBRC tries to bar the door against Clark County freeloaders, it will end up hiring police academy rejects whose love of power for the sake of power has them on course for jobs as casino rent-a-cops unless something else drifts within reach. The license to interrogate and interdict certain classes of people for improvable petty fraud is exactly the commission to convince a bunch of officious asshats who naturally suffer from hypervigilance verging on PTSD and suspicion verging on clinical paranoia that they’re Inspector Lewis. We’ve got a regime here that threatens to breed monsters for no other reason than to root out a few sad sacks who smuggle thirty-dollar loads of cans in from Hazel Dell. I honestly thought Oregon had more heart than to do something that vicious, but I guess not.

This regime–again, if it’s actually enforced–will fall heaviest on the poorest and most desperate. Bill and Melinda Gates aren’t showing up with bags full of cans. The Delta Park BottleDrop was mobbed this afternoon, and I was one of only two or three people in the building, other than the staff, who didn’t look utterly indigent. Most of the other customers were dressed for shit. I’m sure that some of them were wearing castoffs from Goodwill.

Everything that could be wrong with them, other than a late-stage Marlon Brando wheeling himself up to the hot tables in a Chinese buffet with nasal oxygen in tow, was wrong. They were slovenly, slouchy, shabbily dressed, out of shape, overweight in ways that looked indescribably but unmistakably abnormal, underweight in that classic somebody better feed Kid Rock way, and in many cases vaguely distempered, hostile, and of diminished executive function. One lady in front of me was feeding bottles into the machine without looking, causing herself to lose at least one into a deep crevice beside the conveyor belts when it hit another bottle that the machine had been rejected. I was afraid that she’d curse me out and turn into an in-your-face bitch if I pointed this out to her, so I held my peace.

Heh, I initially wrote that as “held my piece.” I might as well have been doing that, probably. Going in there with only $1.50 worth of bottles at all-day rush hour wasn’t a compellingly good decision. Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Nah, who am I kidding? These people are too harried to take a Sabbath. They were lined up out the door the first time I swung by; I came by a couple of hours later and joined a line that went almost back to the front door, then walked past several people who were lined up outside the door as I left after another fifteen minutes.

We weren’t there for our health. I have a cushion that will keep me going for another month of two on its own, for which I’m greatly thankful, but the extra money helps me, too. For most of the other people there, it must have been indispensable. They weren’t traveling kid grungy. They weren’t larping some crappy slumdog shtick. They were the real deal, the genuinely, generationally poor. I didn’t need to take a second look at them to tell that an extra twenty or thirty dollars would be a true godsend.

Police states tend to fall heaviest on the poor. An administrative police state enforced by non-sworn petty functionaries for the purpose of deterring petty bottle deposit fraud is no different. That has the effect of demonizing, menacing, humiliating, and degrading the poor. BottleDrop often attracts the lumpenproletariat, but the Delta Park store attracted the hell out of them. I was surprised by the sheer numbers, but not so much by the overall mix, although I was a bit taken aback, because the neighborhood ain’t so hot. There’s no telling how many cold homeless are living in the woods or on disused patches of land around industrial properties in North Portland, but the number is sizable. The revulsion of higher classes to this crowd is natural and to some extent inevitable; frankly, some of them really are the dregs; but it should not be encouraged. We all should aspire to something better, something more human.

I felt really uncomfortable with the implications of an official sign in an unpleasant built environment menacingly accusing an exceptionally destitute customer base of wholesale criminality and threatening to take extreme actions to thwart it. Examining license plates is extreme. Demanding proof of purchase in Oregon is extreme. The sign was probably posted due to the facility’s proximity to the Washington state line, not due to the poverty of its customers, but its presence in a facility used overwhelmingly by the visibly indigent was disturbing.

These are people who go through their entire lives, sometimes generation after generation, associating exclusively with other members of the underclasses. Their only contacts with anyone from the lower middle class or above are with police, teachers, social workers, jail guards, and maybe other professionals, most of whom do not regard them as anything like equals.

The rest of us treat them like dogshit. We other the hell out of them and leave them to their separate and unequal world of check-cashing joints, ghettoside 7-Elevens, and bottle redemption centers. (As bad as the last can be in Oregon, the ones in California are a whole other quantum of misery and degradation.) We pretend that this other world doesn’t exist. God knows I mostly try to avoid it, because it sucks, and because most of the companies and individuals who set up shop there richly deserve to go out of business.

The chronic degradation of the very poor is one of the reasons why Robert Pickton got away with serial murder for so long. The women he murdered weren’t just prostitutes; most of the prostitutes among them were homeless or housing-insecure streetwalkers with hard drug habits. He also targeted a number of indigenous women living on Indian reserves, which are about as bad in Canada as in the United States. He went after women who were effectively second-class citizens. That’s who I saw in BottleDrop today, too: second-class citizens living in a second-class society. No, more like third-class, to be generous.

These people won’t assimilate into middle-class society if they continue to be treated like thievish losers who deserve monitoring worthy of a prison visiting room. They need to be shown some good faith, some benefit of the doubt. The affluent wouldn’t put up for fifteen minutes with the shit that the poor face on a daily basis.

We can’t expect the disorder that we’ve encouraged in poor neighborhoods not to seep into wealthier ones, or to flood in unexpectedly, triggered by something equally unexpected. Bad shit taking root on the margins isn’t good for anyone. We encourage the maintenance and proliferation of reservoirs of ill at our own peril, not just at the peril of those who get stuck living in such environments.

In my own experience, Washington is a weak-ass canning state, but take your ass up to Battle Ground and get some bottles. Take your ass up to Puyallup and get some bottles. Take your ass all the way up to Lynden and get you some damn bottles. Take your asco over to Pasco, bitch, and get bottles. It isn’t a Wesley Willis song (sic), but it should be. Amen, in the name of Jason Lee, I duly abet ye all.

The permanent business plot

Being decisively on the same side of a contentious political debate as Tom Cotton is disorienting for me. It’s like one of my occasional mornings on the road when I wake up with no idea within three hundred miles of where I am. This must be the famous horseshoe theory. It certainly doesn’t give me the feeling that I have not been hit in the head with a horseshoe.

What Cotton said on behalf of his new immigration bill the other day was morally sound and pitch-perfect. He is absolutely right that it’s time to start doing right by Americans who work with their hands and work on their feet. He’s absolutely right that concern for the welfare of destitute foreigners is harming the welfare of working-class Americans.

Our leaders are not making a credible or sincere effort to reconcile these conflicting interests. Cotton at least recognizes that these interests conflict and takes an aboveboard position on whose interests he’s advancing. His opponents are too chickenshit and craven by a long shot to admit that they’re on the side of immigrant scab labor. That would look bad, and looking bad costs politicians reelection. Hence the rising chorus of complaints about excessive democracy from the center-left and the center-right. Democratic representation that actually represents the demos is problematic because it fails to represent the revolting elites. Let us #NeverForget how violently the Bern and the Donald have infuriated antidemocratic highbrow elements by appealing to downmarket constituents who hope for faithful representation.

Tom Cotton is probably first or second in line to infuriate them next. I haven’t checked the internet, but I have no trouble imagining denunciations of him for being a hapless hillbilly ignoramus legislating on the basis of old wives’ tales about the labor market and a spirit of herrenvolk reaction. What I heard from him in the press conference clip that NPR played was a clearheaded, workmanlike, and eminently coherent description of a serious problem that he has correctly identified and the reasonably good start that he wants to make towards solving it. His focus isn’t exactly where mine would be, but his goals overlap enough with mine and seem morally sound enough that I’m not of a mind to quibble over the mechanisms. He’s showing a hell of a lot more responsibility than the rest of Congress.

Before I get strawmanned (which will happen anyway), I should lay out exactly where I stand on a number of the points in question. I consider David Perdue’s comments about immigrants on welfare spurious and needlessly inflammatory. I do not approve of deficit concern-trolling or the opportunistic shaming of public assistance claimants, especially ones who work. That said, I can’t object to the immigration bill just because one of its sponsors is a minor public shithead.

I have no objection to the use of English proficiency as a criterion for visa approval. This seems perfectly reasonable and prudent. The United States is an English-speaking country. This is a matter of fact. Every other language spoken here is relegated to some marginal subculture; an inability to speak English drastically limits the ability of a person to function in this country. In this context, I see no reason to give a rat’s ass what languages have historically been spoken within the borders of the United States today or how objectively bizarre English is as a language. These are immaterial, distracting points, and I’m pretty sure that most of those advancing them damn well know it. It’s a language of empire, but tough shit. We’ve inherited an empire, so it’s up to us either to steward it and maybe bring it back into control as some kind of republic or be derelict and let it go totally to seed. The Mother Country gave us some ugly civic and political inheritances as part of the mix, but we’d be in worse shape under almost any legal system that we might have inherited in place of the English Common Law. The guys who ran colonial Mexico, at the time including most of the present-day Southwestern United States, were godbothering, slavedriving, tyrannical pieces of shit. Everyone living in that part of the country is lucky that the Spanish toffs were demographically and militarily overwhelmed, leaving behind a legacy of mission architecture, a bunch of misprounounceable street names, and some taco recipes.

Consequently, English is, as they say, our Lingua Franca. (It’s not just for the Franks anymore.) The possibility of there being anything controversial about this indicates a frothing overproduction of elites. Communication in English in no way necessitates utter agreement with everything the worst of the English have ever done. It is the language of anti-imperialism in the Anglophone world, too. Ooh, galaxy brain! It’s no less useful for running Commonwealth governments. Personally, I’ve always figured that if English is good enough for Jorge Castañeda, it’s good enough for me.

The point here isn’t to be bigoted or narrowminded. Having large, enduring enclaves of foreigners who cannot readily communicate with the native population presents a number of serious problems, for both the enclaves and for the native society surrounding them. This isn’t some angels-on-a-pinhead academic exercise. The wholesale presence of Mexican peasants in meatpacking towns has enabled the ruination working conditions, including safety, in American slaughterhouses. People have gotten killed in preventable industrial accidents on account of our feckless immigration policy.

The clubbable aren’t supposed to think about these things. That kind of work is for someone else, probably someone less American and definitely someone less educated. Meatpacking jobs were relatively safe, well-paid, and highly sought-after, sometimes to the point of years-long waiting lists for new hires, in the midcentury. They’re always been grueling, but today they’re needlessly grueling, terribly paid, supervised by cruel floor managers, and exceedingly dangerous. None of this just happened. Management spared no aggression in breaking the unions and replacing dedicated American lifers with disposable Mexicans, who have been replaced in turn in some meatpacking plants by Somali refugees.

There was never anything humanitarian about any of this. All this concern for the welfare of destitute foreigners is a disgusting conceit. It’s misplaced and wrong to blame the Mexican and Somali scabs for this arrangement; they’re just trying to get by after fleeing life-threateningly dysfunctional and violent homelands. All-American management teams, or at least very heavily American ones, saw an opportunity to exploit them in their desperation, and they took it. Throwing their fellow citizens, their fellow Americans, under the bus was just one of the costs of doing business.

Their fellow Americans have not forgotten a bit of it. The yuppie swarm moved past it, if they ever saw the faintest problem with it in the first place, but not the poors left behind to desperately try to hang on to a decent existence in wrecked factory towns. They remember. Few of them forgive. How can they forgive bad acts that are still being done to them in the most calculating, predatory, premeditated spirit? They aren’t fancy, but they aren’t a bunch of drooling retards, either. Society would grind to a screeching halt without the skills that they’ve spent their careers honing; it would carry on just fine without the fucking MBA’s.

I picked fruit again today. I’m unaware of any MBA’s who did that. Tom Cotton recognizes that there’s some hard work that needs to be done. From what little I’ve heard of his comments, he actually holds most of his fire. The extent to which educated elites, many of them proudly liberal, look down on and demean working men and women is unbelievable. Cotton’s pushback against this bigotry has been quite restrained. He’s standing up very politely on behalf of some of the most shit-upon constituencies in the United States at a time when there really isn’t anything wrong with standing up rudely on their behalf. The educated elites are all but literally biting the hands that feed them. How the hell do they expect that to end in their favor?

If you think I will or must vote Democratic because I’m educated or fancy, you’ve got your head up your ass. No one is hooking me up with the good stuff. This is what Tip O’Neill meant by all politics being local. My own local is full of yuppies who talk a great game about networking but never network me into jack shit. To be crude about it, my interests don’t intersect with theirs, and I’m not sure they ever did. Donald Trump humiliating and sandbagging their crowd is a good thing. They could do to be brought down a rung or two in a society whose working men and women have been dropkicked off the ladder straight into a pile of pigshit.

If I’m going to vote Democratic, i need a reason to vote Democratic. I’ve repeatedly voted for Dale Mensing for Congress solely because he’s listed on the ballot as a cashier. He could be nuttier than an Almond Joy on any number of issues, but that wouldn’t stop him from bringing Congress some much-needed insights about how menial workers are treated from day to day in this country. Loretta Sanchez gave me reasons to vote Democratic twice last year, but if Tom Cotton carpetbagged his way into a general election against Kamala Harris, he’d have to really screw the pooch for me not to vote for him. I wouldn’t assume that he doesn’t generally suck, but I know that Harris generally sucks, and I’d be thrilled to have someone coherently advocating and legislating on behalf of workaday Americans in the Congressional delegation from my first home state in its time of extreme yuppie infestation.

These are not sources of shame or embarrassment for me. I’m no MAGA shitlord, but I’m not the least bit embarrassed to say that much of what Donald Trump has been saying gives me rare hope and welcome schadenfreude. I didn’t expect him, of all people, to be the one to publicly take on the yuppies after his real estate and television careers, but I’ll take it, and joyfully so. For that matter, Anthony Scaramucci, an obvious prick, doesn’t disturb me the way Washington’s traditional lanyard dork army does. He looks and sounds sort of normal, other than his being a prick. The number of visibly abnormal people rushing around Washington is scary.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that hasn’t somehow disturbed Tom Cotton, too, and inspired him to push back against the yuppie swarm. The situation on the ground in Washington is hard to imagine from flyover country. It’s deeply pathological, verging on the Antebellum South in its hypocrisy and moral cowardice. Hiring exclusively Latin American staffs of presumably irregular legality is obviously a cheap and shady practice. Around Washington, it’s treated like a fucking Rotary cultural exchange, and no one has the courage to say otherwise. Of course it was never sincerely meant to be any sort of people-to-people shit. Has Marion Barry been handing out free crack rock in Northwest, or are they just a bunch of fuckheads? Hint: rhymes with “Buckhead.”

Bitches set themselves up, in both senses. These are not ones to live humbly or austerely or in truth. They’d much rather live grandiosely, lavishly, and in falsehood. Like #TIMMEH, they’re #LIVINALIE! More than a few of them look like they’ll imminently revert to his level of executive function, too. That has to be a great town to find a diaper fetishist. *Strom Thurmond, still going strong all night long* Now, that is no fetish, son; it is an expediency. Do I look like a man who remains clothed around a colored woman? *Strom Watch Expired*

I never expected Tom Cotton to be the one to notice that something was off about the joint and to try to fix it, but that seems to be where we’ve landed. Nah, more like washed up. But if he has the only fresh set of eyes capable of noticing that our federal government really is operating out of a fetid swamp, that’s better than St. Jean de Breboeuf driving an oil train through Lac Megantic. *Voice crying out in the frontier, probably in French* Brother, can you spare a pair? I can’t find mine.

That was unforeseeably bad. The bad stuff in Washington is all too foreseeably bad, and it isn’t just obscure blogging in bad taste. I’m in it for the art, and I guess the page views; they’re in it for the money and the power and the majesty. It’s past time that someone stepped up and tried to correct it. It’s happening in the midst of what may still be a real political realignment, so it won’t necessarily make sense. That’s okay. John Fremont was a Republican. William Jennings Bryan was a Democrat who got into religious meddling by way of positive law late in his career. We don’t need saints. As we saw in the previous paragraph, we really don’t need saints. We need political leaders who are halfway honest. Cotton and Trump are giving me that 53% feeling again, and oh hell yes, I do like it.

Wet bulb temperature

The Pacific Northwest has been having some exceptionally awful weather for the past week. Northwestern Oregon has had record and near-record highs, and smoke is drifting in from every which way. We’ve dealt ourselves some of that which we’ve smelt, but another portion of it is coming from British Columbia, so I’d be derelict not to immediately blame it on Jamie Davis. His neighbors, too; fuckin’ eh, friends. You’re all too busy smoking that damn rock like country slumdog Rob Ford to keep the whole fucking forest from going up in a big wall of fire.

Let’s rundel in the jungle; well, that ‘s all right by, by God, that is not in the least bit all right at all, but as the traditional fishing ditty holds, take Tommy Thompson, take Scott Walker or David Clarke and some water or either Ron Johnson; take extra rations and take Sam Dotson, but plea ea ea ease, don’t forget the pole. You may have found that, dare I say, shockingly tasteless, but page view stats tell me that most of you are still here for even worse, and besides, if you’ve been paying attention, you know by now to expect nothing less of Gerry and the Heartstoppers.

Lord have Mersey upon us all. That was a mess. So is the air we literally breathe. There’s no need to bring Jian Ghomeshi down here to make us choke. In a rather expensive and cruel prank at our expense, whoever we specifically are as Americans, OPB sent reporters to Bingen and the Horse Heaven Hills to deliver soundbyte reports about how there wasn’t much to see and we might not want to breathe. Something’s already gone wrong, Kroeger. An additional something’s gotta go wrong ’cause they’ll be pestering us for money to fund that shit before long and threatening to withhold further programming, on the assumption that that would be unfortunate. Maybe if we ignore them (ooh, I’m getting a kloo, too!) they’ll eventually realize that they’re just a couple of impotent losers grandiosely addressing a rally of exclusively imaginary friends. Nah, probably not. That’s way too much humility and introspection to expect of anyone who tries to sweeten extortion threats with offers of Downton Abbey box sets.

Our federal tax dollars remain hard at work at these fine enterprises. I really should fill out and turn in the EITC paperwork that the IRS mailed me; there’s no way I’ll steward that five hundred and whatever so embarrassingly.

What this pulverized MRE pea soup has meant for the fruitboys and girls has been shorter workdays. We’ve been sent home (what is “home”?) at 11:30 every day since Tuesday. Daughter-in-Law initially told us to take Thursday off to rehydrate and “plan something fun,” but then, at Mother-in-Law’s whispering insistence (she actually whispered in front of us), she made it an optional workday. Lol they’re all optional, but sure. Oregon statute or no statute against first-degree involuntary servitude, nobody’s about to get dragged into any Kunta Kinte in chains shit around here. The second-degree involuntary servitude statute doesn’t quite get to the roots of America’s original sin, but even if MiL thinks light violations are a good idea (I have no doubt that Joe Dirtbag does), all that any tirades in furtherance of labor under duress will accomplish is less labor of any sort at a farm that is already losing good employees to KFC, Les Schwab, probably video games, whatever useless shit I keep doing in the Adirondacks, and, from what I can piece together, the Navy.

If I really needed the money and the benefits, I, too, might think it a good idea to enlist in the Navy (in the Navy!). I don’t, so here I am. KFC sounds pretty dreadful, too, although less compulsorily so. I actually think about applying to Les Schwab from time to time, since it’s reputable as fuck (I’m still getting free rotations on tires that I preemptively told the technician I didn’t believe had been bought or mounted by Les) and the store floor plans are open enough to tell that nothing obviously abusive is going on in the back of the house, but I’ll definitely be waiting until after the eclipse, which even my dad said, in so many words, will be a clusterfuck.

In the meantime, I’m getting shit done. We all have to eat, and I pick food. I actually pick more fruit than I’m supposed to pick because I sneak around to the good thick stuff when our bosses aren’t nearby to bother us about the barely marketable weak-ass shit they also want us to pick clean. It’s an ongoing learning process to grasp just how little Americans believe in the labor theory of value. For all the talk about the value of hard work, it’s curious how little some of us, nay, many of us, get paid for actually showing up and doing it. This, again, is the job where I got the 25-cent tip, the presentation of dem shine George coin. It seems that most people who are bleeding-heart or generous or whatever enough to contribute to panhandlers at rest areas cough up a paper George or three. There is, of course, a corresponding loss of dignity in sitting on ass by the shitters with a short story and equally tall tale scribbled onto a piece of cardboard.

Usually. This week, with its complete lack of MiL lectures and berry tastings and limited managerial annoyances for not picking the shitty fruit, has been usual enough, and I really don’t feel like getting into the weeds with any of the owners about how we’d all do better if we did some basic triage, got the good fruit first, and went back for the marginal leftovers if we had extra time. Not my circus, not my monkeys. I really appreciate working at a place where I can show up after I’m fully awake and leave early if I get really bushed. Sure, they had better be that flexible at the piece rates that they offer, but the alternatives in the industry include some real moral dregs, which these people definitively are not.

Yesterday was the first day I left seriously early. Sometimes I stay late, because once I’m on site and making progress I usually get really motivated, but yesterday the smoke and the water vapor from recent irrigation gave the fields that old El Centro climate, and I was struggling. I couldn’t put a finger on what was so awful about it, except that the winds were mostly calm, but MiL told me as I was leaving that DiLH had told her that the fields were really humid on account of the irrigation. Again, even though there are better ways to irrigate than their system, I’m not here to judge, because everything to do with irrigation is a gigantic pain in the ass. The game sucks, so it’s hard to blame the players. The weird thing about MiL’s comment was that the ground in the block where I’d been working had been fairly dry (I’ve gotten my socks soaked in other recently irrigated blocks), but I’d been sweating profusely. I should have recognized that it was super humid. I did recognize that it felt like a Pennsylvania summer, but I don’t think I got my brain fully turned on until after I left for the day.

My output was pretty good for only three hours’ work, but that was because I’d left some crappy fruit unpicked and gone poaching farther up the row. Far be it from me to hate myself as a player, either. You gotta do what you gotta do in this business. Statistically, what you gotta do is quit and go see what’s for sale at GameStop.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so harsh on the interior BC crackheads above. They’d be all right for this line of work. The big midcentury fruit growers around McMinnville, muh fuckin Mack, used to send buses down Burnside Avenue in the middle of the night to pick up vagrant drunks and take them out into the ranches by daybreak, in time for a full day’s harvest. Love too employ severely hungover and fatigued individuals with behavioral and substance abuse problems in jobs requiring the maneuvering and climbing of ladders.

Crack is an upper, a drug of gittin’ er done, a drug, possibly, even of optimism. I take coffee breaks in the field; it might be no less judicious for a rock friend to take a crack break. Toking lightly on the rock might be the equivalent of my taking a few sips at a time these days instead of drinking the whole damn grande in half an hour, like I did back when I was an idiot about that shit.

I’m not trying to abet crack use. I do not reify an interior BC culture of buying home baking supplies from the Boston Irish mob and/or the RCMP and baking a buddy some crack. This culture is already in place. What I’m saying is that we might as well put those who are already a part of it to good use as fruitfolk if they don’t look like they’ll inevitably destroy the plants they’ve been assigned to strip. We wouldn’t want to hire Psychotarp or Mixups in my Mind to pick fruit while high on crack. We wouldn’t want to hire them to do anything at all while sober. Psychotarp once dug a new hole for the outhouse without botching the job. I think Joe Dirtbag gave him permission to dig the new hole just to stop the requests for permission to dig a shitter pit. There were hygienic considerations in favor of a new hole, and in favor of not having everyone shit into the same hole in the ground, but JD obviously didn’t have any of these in mind.

For those whose problem is narrowly limited to doing better on crack than not on crack, to the exclusion of over-the-top, out-of-control psychosis, and certainly for those whose problem is limited to enjoying some crack, we really shouldn’t be so concerned about sniffing out those whom the rock is cooking. The workforce won’t magically become functional and healthy on account of their absence from it; we’re trying that already. The Mack Attack Squad didn’t need drugs to be a nightmare for its colleagues.

Crack, intersectional with a desire to make enough money to buy some more crack, might be what it takes to motivate some crackers (heh) to come out and do the jobs that the Mexicans don’t want. I’m pretty sure that what we’ve been asked to do gleaning crap fruit without no bonus and no minimum wage is something the Mexicans don’t want. If there’s a labor shortage that the sober won’t fill (video games) or can’t fill (area lodging prices relative to cash on hand), skid row might have some surplus labor available that either has a drinking schedule consistent with day-shift labor or cherishes its uppers. These marginally attached are already in the labor market; it’s just that they’re on System D. They’re already gutting rental properties for slumlords for pennies on the dollar. Bringing them onto the payrolls somehow would be worthwhile, but our policymakers aren’t thinking that coherently. These fuckers are already chargeable, so we might as well get some recharge from them when we can, even if they’d rather be paid in kind–or in da kine, da kine being, if you can believe it, crack.

No, I don’t want anyone dying from overdoses in the fields. I also don’t want some hungover dipshit falling off a ladder.

Being all about that base works, too. Sarah Palin has what it takes to take a powdered pick-me-up and pick some damn fruit. Anthony Scaramucci may. Donald Trump is too lazy and hey wanna ride bikes to do the job. So was the ADHD spazz kid from two years ago. That’s what we get for hiring a sober Christian workforce. 

But don’t go around thinking that any powder will do. Powdermilk Biscuits never got anyone’s ass out of bed.

A very convenient target with a very convenient sequel

Al Gore will be on Terry Gross today. We might say that that sounds gross, and we’d be right, however repetitively we took our entendre. Those two certainly know how to repeat themselves, so Wow Much lectures Such tendentious Many neurotic Omg brenda jorett Very annoy will be one reason for me to skip this afternoon’s radio mass. The climate change-intersectional heat wave hitting the Northwest and the resulting 11:30 quitting time at the berry farm will also help me skip our daily dork assembly with Mr. Werman. Bill Buckley’s comment about preferring to be governed by the first 250 or whatever names in the Boston phone directory than by the top 250 Harvard faculty members is, at least in this case, bolstered by the traditional place of W in the English alphabet. Shit, we already tried that at the national level, and look how it turned out. The fuck, Buckley? Your section of the White Pages keeps letting us down, white boy.

“Zest for life” is a fucking obnoxious phrase, and I really ought to mention how much Buckley’s fellow highbrow Masshole Teddy Kennedy always loved to ride the Ducks, just to get the taste* out of our mouths (Go Sea Lions!) (*since when did anyone hanging around here have any?), but our old boy Billy, he had that zest. He’d have gotten Cheryl Crow trashed on Old Fashioneds by 11:30 and relished every bloody minute of it. The posh bugger was not conflicted or pained or guilty or tortured about his proper place in the world. Unusually among wealthy Americans, he was antifragile on account of his wealth and privilege. His fanciness, precisely because he relished it so heartily, was received at lower stations as a sort of reputable plainness, a living practice of modest, down-to-earth, unpretentious values more sincere and true than anyone would ever expect of a silver spoon.

As the lady from the Cleveland ghetto told her doctor when she was asked if she got depressed, “No, I gets de Plain Dealer.” With Billy B., we all gots de plain dealer. Those of us who felt uncomfortable or distrustful about the influence of the privileged didn’t have to convince anyone else that our lord William was anything but caricaturishly privileged. What we saw was what we got. What we saw was fucking surreal. And yet, because it was so unabashed and aboveboard, it wasn’t the least bit eerie.

William F. Buckley has not been available for interviews lately, but Al Gore has. The problem here isn’t a degradation of public thought; there were hideously stupid and vulgar public figures outcompeting Buckley for attention throughout his career, and there are still intelligent, eloquent people taking part in the public discourse in spite of the much greater attention and praise lavished on pathetic shitheads. That’s part of what I’m doing here, trying to elevate the discourse and bear witness to things that ought to be discussed. Another part of it is the serial canucksploitation of fine downeaster (upeaster?) Melissa Ann Shepard and others of her home and native land. #TeshTips: A romantic Atlantic boat ride with her isn’t a good idea, either. Coffee is to the broad middle class what liquor is to the upper and lower ones, but I’m sure not to get mine from her. *Point of clarification from Monty Robinson* Vodka and the simultaneous operation of motor vehicles in the vicinity of maritime bays are important parts of my culture, too. Are you calling the RCMP fancy now?

All of that is less disturbing than Al Gore. He’s the last place I’d look for some Fresh Air. I don’t have to listen to what he has to say to Terry Gross because I’ve heard it all before. It’s as predictable as the sunrise. Gore is a priest of the postmodern age, in the sense of a homilist so insufferable that even the bishop is out at parish hall Q&A sessions admitting that, yeah, we probably ought to do something to improve the preaching around here. As the line cook who eventually bought and took over Joe Dirtbag and the Family Shrew’s restaurant told us, “You can go to church on the internet now.” On the radio, too. I’m already missing Marco Werman as I write this, so I am not wasting my afternoon.

The sermonizing really is excessive. I underplayed my hand above, come to think of it. There are priests who are not only clunky homilists but also sexually repressed in a projectile way. For Al Gore, the great vice isn’t lust but a specific form of gluttony, one that ravenously devours fossil fuels. And yet, look at how that motherfucker lives, flying around the world on private jets to warn about the dangers of fossil fuel use when he isn’t luxuriating in a remote Tennessee mansion that would make the Branch Davidians think, damn, that’s a fine-ass compound. He lives in a state of chronic guilt, but instead of voluntarily living more ascetically (which, for him, could still be unfathomably luxurious for most people), he lashes out at everyone else to adopt a punishing austerity from which he is conveniently (hey, that word!) exempted by virtue of his own virtue as an advocate. That was a kind of crappy way to put it, but as I think over what I’m too lazy and literarily constipated to have the energy to edit, I think it was apt. There is a shitty recursiveness to Gore’s shtick. He’s virtuous because he talks about how virtuous he is for talking about the virtues that he never, ever practices in his own life.

Gore took a lot of flak, some of it disingenuous and antisocially snarky, for being a clunk speaker back when he was the vice president and a presidential candidate, e.g., SNL’s “lock box” ridicule. In that case, he had a really clumsy, uninspiring, annoying way of promoting the manifestly sound policy of securing FICA deductions exclusively for their intended uses (most famously Social Security, but also Medicare and other social insurance programs) and not dump them down the shitter whenever they felt like wasting some more public funds on pork barrel. Over time, I’ve come to think that he got an unfair shake in the media for the lock box, which was worlds more prudent and aboveboard than anything George W. Bush was scheming to do with Social Security.

The mainstream media encourage a degrading vanity on the part of public figures, and it ought to be resisted. To return to actual priests for a moment, one of the most hapless homilists I’ve ever heard was also one of the most perceptive and helpful confessors, and it would be a damned shame for someone like him to be sidelined within any organization just because his public speaking skills are mediocre. Al Gore has had a similar problem for his entire career, even when he hasn’t been doing anything phony, and it’s wrong for bullshitters to snark at him so.

His climate change advocacy is something else entirely. It’s one of the phoniest things ever. Caulfield, you following any of this? Gore would surely intone to our boy Holden about how he should consider walking or taking public transit because cabs contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Americans in particular chafe at this sort of hectoring. It might possibly fly in Europe or Japan; stateside, it inspires every possible conspiracy theory about liberal elites, one-world government, population control, and a bewildering variety of other shit, a surprising amount of it somehow true. Here’s some rich prick who lives in a mansion, flies all over hell on the lecture circuit, and has four children of his own, for those who are aware of the Darwinian angle, and he’s bothering everyone else about how we’re all gonna roast and also drown to death if we don’t tighten our belts and stop driving and flying everywhere.

It’s blatantly hypocritical. To many, it looks like a scam buttressed by a hoax. All the cool celebs in Hollywood are also up on their high horses about greenhouse gases and global climate change, and they all have Gulfstreams. There has to be some kind of ulterior motive to it. Right?

It’s hard to make sense of some of this shit. I still can’t figure out the psychology behind it, except to have no doubt that it’s profoundly disordered. Leonardo DiCaprio and a droning ex-veep flying around like the Criminal Minds team to lecture other people about how wasteful they are is unbelievably fucked up. What kind of twisted psychological profile does it require to keep this shit up month after month without breaking from all the cognitive dissonance and guilt? What profile does it take to be even publicly comfortable with the idea that one deserves endless absolution for one’s own profligacy while everyone else deserves another ominous lecture for being not a tenth as wasteful?

The notion that this is all a grand scam, say, to dispossess and marginalize the middle class and make more room for the ultrawealthy, isn’t all that farfetched. There probably are some outright psychopaths hanging around in the business. There are definitely legion amoral opportunists. Hollywood is involved, so there are definitely narcissists.

In Gore’s particular case, I think there’s an Occam’s Razor explanation, less grandiosely malevolent but hardly any less disordered, for the jet-setting in service to Gaia. I think he mostly just kind of fell into it, that he had a policy interest in climate change that mutated into its current grotesque form as all the starfuckers in public relations kept showing up to suck his cock and give him, already a scion of wealth who was unusually successful in his own right, more and more money and flattery for saying the right things about climate change and the need for personal and communal responsibility.

Gore used to be in politics, but he’s a full celebrity now. The levelheaded, competent, no-bullshit experts and career analysts who used to surround him when he wasn’t helping Bill Clinton turn the White House into the synthesis of a university development office and Dennis Hof’s Bunny Ranch, are gone. In their place, he has a metastatic entourage of show business bullshitters. The finest minds and most public-spirited souls never go into Hollywood public relations. Their prevalence in politics and policy is wildly exaggerated by outlets like NPR, but there are some reputable people in Washington. Hollywood has no higher purpose that it fails to pursue because it gets corrupted along the way. Its fundamental purpose is absolute, unadulterated shit.

I don’t mean the motion picture or record businesses specifically (I swear, I’m only 35, but I also got only, like, five and a half hours’ sleep in my Focus last night, so make what you will of my language); some of that is more or less reputable. I mean all the celebrity-fluffing horseshit that piles up around the studios and clings to them like so many barnacles of unspeakable filth. When Gore got started on climate change, as a high elected official, he was proceeding with a layman’s understanding of the science but was surrounded by professional scientists and extremely well-informed policy advisers. He’s still operating with an educated layman’s understanding, but now he’s surrounded by pig-ignorant shitheads from the entertainment business who would psych themselves up to say and believe absolutely anything if they thought it would let them make a good living.

There is no exaggerating how fucking vapid and amoral these people are. Al Gore is working with and around people who will say anything for a buck and have all the IQ of a celebrity gossip rag in the checkout lane at Walmart. As a guilt-racked silver spoon done very well by his own right who previously spent eight years under the tutelage and authority of Bill Clinton, he was more prone than most to go native in Hollywood.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what the hell the real purpose of this propaganda is. It may just be a gambit to fleece the Whole Foods crowd; if they’ll fall for Seventh Generation, it’s worth a try. Al Gore is the worst person climate change activists could take on and promote as a circuit lecturer if they actually want to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases. He is unbelievably self-discrediting and discrediting of everything he promotes that involves any sort of asceticism (say, not driving everywhere). My guess, under Occam’s Razor again, is that this is probably more a moneymaking scam than a dominance play by cunning superelites, although the self-righteousness clearly fits in well for the entertainment business’s hardcore narcissists. Gore probably isn’t as narcissistic as he looks.

The whole thing looks like a monkey trap, with these idiots furiously holding onto the rich fruit in the jar with a fist that they can’t fit back out through the neck. The ethical flaw, and hence the glaring credibility flaw, in their model is that everyone with the star power to back up a worthy cause like climate change activism by mere celebrity fiat is also wealthy enough to live like a god. The idea of having showboating narcissists who have bought themselves exemptions from all the normal rules lecture the little people about virtue is fucking ridiculous, but the crowd that thinks these brilliant campaigns up doesn’t think through them that deeply. Why on earth would Leonardo DiCaprio or George Clooney (layer of smug!) voluntarily forego opportunities to jet off to Crete to fuck around on a luxury yacht? This would require guys who are surrounded by entire staffs of sycophants and totally loaded to go against peer pressure and the pressure of every dipshit trying to live vicariously through them. Ain’t gonna happen.

Meanwhile, an aggressively advertised culture of what Jim Kunstler calls happy motoring has taken hold in most of the United States and large parts of many other countries. The US takes it to particular extremes with motorhomes nearly the size of Greyhound buses towing SUV’s the length of a standard European camping trailer. Who is Al Gore to tell a workaday retiree to forego these little creature comforts? We can ignore, as the retirees would like us to do, the possibility that they’re financial millionaires with multiple real estate holdings and $60k in combined CalPERS income. Al Gore travels; who is he to tell other people not to travel?

Who am I, for that matter, to call anyone out for driving around the country in Rascal Flatts’ tour bus with a State Department limousine in tow? I’m just a fruitboy loser who regularly sleeps in his Focus. That would theoretically give me some relative credibility, but being a poor would not. Any number of people who regularly commute by bus or light rail set a good example of austerity falling short of hardship, but they’re poors, too, and PR types don’t care for the poors.

The intractable problem that campaigns like Al Gore’s face is the huge culture of Ephesians 3:20 cargo cult fuckwits who don’t want a silver spoon elite liberal killing their vibe. The Kamping Krowd successfully codes itself as lower middle-class, further improving its own image relative to Gore’s. Upon examination, it looks much, much more affluent than it lets on (how else does it afford its rigs?), but reputation management isn’t done on second thought. It’s much more politically feasible to tell this constituency that the oil is still there and always will be there because, hey, we need it there pending the Rapture and God provides for those who believe, or that the liberal elites are running an evil conspiracy to deprive workaday Americans of the good life that they would never deny themselves, than to level with spendthrift boomers about energy return on energy invested and by the way we’re basically running our car in the garage with the overhead door closed.

Al Gore is mostly right on the technical points, but the optics of his austerity for thee but not for me IFL Science sermons sucks ass, and hence his entire message sucks ass. We don’t need that shit. Having him around makes Republican climate change and peak oil denialists who sound batshit crazy but are really just disingenuous and squirrelly an inevitability. He’s the shittiest messenger possible for his message, and Terry Gross shouldn’t be stooping so low as to dignify his stunt.

Hey, I still have nearly half an hour to listen to Fresh Air on the local affiliates, but I do wonder what Marco Werman had to say this afternoon. No, I don’t. I’m sure it was retarded.

The awful pain of giving a shit

My problem is that I give a shit. I keep getting this gnawing feeling that I still owe my maybe current, maybe former bosses something in spite of the way Mother-in-Law treated us the other day, that I still owe agriculture something, that I owe society additional productivity in spite of work conditions that were, ethically and legally, blatant grounds for summary resignation with cause.

I’d expect to be fired if I got so hostile towards anyone from a position as a subordinate employee. Employers are under no obligation to retain crazy, volatile assholes, and I objectively owe jack diddly to employers who turn into crazy, volatile assholes without warning or are even reluctantly complicit in such aggression. It is a problem that the other owners of the company fail to confront Mother-in-Law during her tirades and put a stop to them. They fail in their own duties to us as employees by failing to intervene.

To wax Godwinian, they’re akin to all the knowledgeable and suspicious parties who failed to blow the whistle on Our Lord’s Servant Gerald for his Era of Bad Feeling. WE ARE! The stuff that’s had me so worked up isn’t Sandusky shit, but it should never come close to the Sandusky shit. “Oh, well, it isn’t child rape” isn’t cause to say and do nothing.

Even so, I keep thinking that I’m not doing what I should to deal with MiL’s misconduct, to keep calm and carry on while she really carries on. I keep thinking that I’m failing myself by not doing what I should be doing to advance myself professionally at a job where I earn maybe $4.50 an hour on a good day. Good things are supposed to come to those who put in the effort, and this is a job where I normally don’t mind putting in some serious effort. Even if I’m making peanuts, it’s better than nothing, and I stay busy.

The problem, of course, is shit fits like the one Mother-in-Law inflicted on us the other day. I absolutely, unapologetically need leverage on her and her relatives over abuses like that. I need to be able and willing to take adverse action against them that will, or at least may, register and cause an oh-shit moment of reflection on their part. Driving off the property while shaking my head at MiL in disgust was a start. She’s obviously operating in an arrogant, deranged headspace to think that that sort of behavior is remotely acceptable. Careful there; you’ll break your neck if you shove your head that hard up your own ass.

I have to question the responsibility of Daughter-in-Law and the other co-owners, too, for not putting a stop to this shit one way or another. I get that they’re in an awkward, tricky position, but it’s on them as business owners and crew bosses, too. They’re in business with a relative who won’t stop lashing out at employees in ways that are intolerable, scandalous, and liable to get them all sued. They’re caving in the face of a walking liability because of who she is. We come back to Our Lord Joseph and Our Lord’s Servant Gerald. An engineering professor would have been given no such latitude to commit serial child rape, and his department chair would have been given no such latitude to cover it up. WE ARE–A REPUTABLE ENGINEERING SCHOOL, TOO!, but #ENGINEERING! ain’t #FOOTBALL!

That reminds me: I still haven’t dialed up what Scott Simon, Howard Bryant, and/or Tom Goldman had to say about Aaron Hernandez’s career-ending neck injury, pursuant to #SPORTS. Things keep getting in the way, things including recurrent references to Aaron Hernandez’s career-ending neck injury. I did, however, listen to the full broadcast this morning, pursuant to #WINNING.

Honestly, I’m thankful that I’ve gotten some extra rest yesterday and today. It can be damn hard work. Of course, the mental energy needed to deal with a preventable, needless, inexcusable managerial crisis unilaterally provoked by a business owner who refuses to show basic self-restraint and professional civility in her dealings with employees is no joke, either.

If one actually thinks about such things and takes them seriously, that is. The Ditzney Princess doesn’t give a shit. She doesn’t care about farm work, about doing a good job, about becoming the least bit mature as she careens towards puberty, about cultivating any sort of discipline that might enable her to function in the workplace and other adult settings. She doesn’t betray any understanding that the kind of work she’s doing, or allegedly doing, is necessary to society and civilization and that doing a bad job at it might have bad consequences, like not having anything to eat. Conversely, she is too fucking ignorant and clueless and intellectually incurious to consider the possibility that Mother-in-Law’s workplace behavior is abnormal. She’s there because her parents made her get a job, and jobs are where your boss tells you what to do and stuff.

To be a bit overwrought and tasteless, at Penn State that includes covering up serial child rape by a football coach. The general principle here is that there are unlawful orders and that they are not magically made lawful by their delivery by an authority figure. These could include orders to cover up sex crimes, to cook the company books, to use unethical sales tactics, to put up with workplace harassment, to work off the clock. Books have been written about such cases, which are many. Butterfly in the sky! I can fly twice as high! Take a look! It’s in a book, possibly one by Jeffrey Toobin, who totally enjoys reading, rainbows, and fursonas.

McGrilled chicken sandwich deal, bitch. Also, “Mark Furman.”

This isn’t to say that it’s totally the best thing ever to quit a job impulsively just because one is momentarily le annoyed. But that isn’t really what provokes most summary resignations. There is a huge amount of bad managerial behavior, much of which employees endure with extreme, even saintly, patience. There is a horrifying variety of ethically questionable or outright unlawful demands made of employees in their new hire paperwork and bad managerial behaviors formalized in written corporate policies. This is in addition to the large number of jobs that just pay shit and basically suck ass. It takes an awfully modest conception of a career to consider the Burger King fry line a fucking career. It’s reputable work, a way to be of service to customers and to society and to make some kind of living, but America’s hash slingers are given nothing that cries out to be reciprocated with unwavering, joyous loyalty. Even store management, a significant improvement over part-time fry-jockeying, isn’t a particularly compelling career.

There are things that employers can do to overcome many of the natural problems with menial work. Daughter-in-Law gets this. Mother-in-Law sometimes gets it. The problem is when she stops getting it. They’re able to significantly compensate for their poor compensation (if that possibly makes the sense that it shouldn’t) by being decent to us, not hounding us, and making the job as enjoyable and low-pressure as it can be. That isn’t what MiL did the other day, when I decided that she was out of mulligans to demand uncompensated duty hours of us.

The Ditzney Princess doesn’t give a shit about any of this because she doesn’t get it. The possibility that confessing Christian relatives can have serious behavioral problems doesn’t cross her mind. She’s childish and idiotic enough to think that work totally sucks if it isn’t all sunshine and lollipops and some white knight on a white horse gently blowing a rainbow up her ass, but when it comes to family values, she’s a piece of fucking performance art about the K-Love audience. For some reason, thinking about horses has gotten me thinking about Kwesi Millington, whom we might call a dark knight. I’m operating at a level that the Ditzney Princess can’t even imagine, and it’s a really low, degraded level, the one at which I admit that I’d sooner trust Northside Juice to get any of the children in my life through horsemanship lessons alive and intact than Sauce Boss not to fall off his own horse blind drunk and drown in a creek. Maintiens le droit!

The Vancouver Linemen are still on the line for extreme canucksploitation, but Mother-in-Law doesn’t seem to be on the line for nearly enough. Anyone who acts like she does should be relieved not to get sued. Hell, anyone who assents to that sort of behavior on the part of peers should be relieved not to be sued. I’m talking about things that shouldn’t happen even once, when I can count four to six incidents in the same patterns of unacceptable behavior.

The weird, almost poignant thing, is that there is no financial compensation MiL or anyone else can provide to make me whole. I don’t expect to make anything close to a real living working for her. A higher piece rate would be great, but poor pay was never my real objection to the way that joint is run. As I mentioned above, the owners are able to compensate for that by treating us well. What the continuing lecture series and mandatory berry tasting the other day illustrated is that the Landlady giveth and the Landlady taketh away. What she has taken away from me this week cannot realistically be recovered at law. If an ADM manager, say, had cheated me out of my wages, I’d be able to put a lawyer on the company and go, okay, you guys really fucked up, so you’re buying me a house. I can’t get back wasted days and weeks from a headcase who arbitrarily decides to stop being decent and professional with her employees. I can’t take her to court and force her to restore a working professional relationship with me. Mother-in-Law is deranged enough about her own blamelessness as a small business owner that I doubt I’d get anywhere good by speaking to her personally and pleading with her to just get out of our way as a crew when she’s floundering into a bad mood and let us do the work we came to her property to do.

This is a situation that has no remedy. There are worse ones involving physical injury, paralysis, maiming, even death, and thank God I’ve suffered nothing of the sort. Knowing this helps keep things in perspective, but this whole mess is still troubling. Blowing the whistle to regulators over the child welfare situation and the off-the-clock duty demands might limit the abuses and deter recurrences, but I’d still be dealing with a practically impossible boss who makes work impossible for her employees whenever she’s having emotional difficulties. There’s no telling what kind of shit could hit the fan upon MiL’s removal from supervisory authority over pickers; I find it all too easy to imagine the resulting family fight throwing the entire company into a Chapter 7 tailspin. I feel bad about depriving the family of my labor during a critical harvest period, but the moral burden here frankly is not on me, and I’m a pushover to even fleetingly think that I should shoulder any of it. I’m not the one who recklessly throws workplaces fits that have the potential to cause terminal operational chaos. Even if I’d stayed on the job the other day, the crew would have lost a couple of man-hours just repositioning and being lectured and humiliated, plus however long it would have taken the more rattled pickers to recover and refocus on their work.

I don’t realistically expect viable referrals to other employers from that family. There’s a good chance that they’re fuming about how I’ve been out burning bridges, and I have to assume that everyone MiL and her husband know socially is unprofessional and mentally ill. Remember, MiL is how I came to know the Ditzney Princess, and I’ve heard what both of them have had to say about church. This is prejudice on my part, not bigotry. I’m familiar with the sort of church that they attend. It’s a reservoir for the overtly maladjusted, chaotic, and mentally ill. It’s a place where everyone’s social, behavioral, and emotional problems are visitations of the Holy Spirit. I’ve seen this movie before. It’s the religious tradition of assortative communion. Ascribed religious affiliation was bullshit (the Republican Party at prayer, etc.), but under assortative communion, the individual congregant has to abide by that ancient Justin Bieber hymn and go and sort himself. (There’s no need to go to Depot to become an unmentionable Canadian. Colonel Williams, your thoughts?)

One of the earliest virtues I discerned in the Roman Catholic Church was that it does not cater to the mentally disordered in denial and preferentially recruit them into its clergy. A conversation with Mixups in my Mind or Psychotarp is spiritual, too, as it includes a host of spirits. As a street ministry, it’s usually annoying and enlightening on how I’d earn decent money to listen to the same horseshit as a social worker. The last thing I need is social and professional entanglement with people who normalize behavior that isn’t a hell of a lot more encouraging than what I’d expect of those two fuckers. The not blatantly psychotic standard falls short, as they say, of the glory.

No, maybe it is the glory. My work life has certainly been awesome in the original sense of the term. Think about a congregation in which two of the members are Mother-in-Law and the Ditzney Princess. If that isn’t one big-ass congregation, you’ve got a math problem. The berry farm staff would hardly fill a pew, and as we’ve been discussing, we definitely have a problem. I know some ocean lifeguards in Orange County; they make Mother-in-Law look like she’s on furlough from Bellevue. The market rate for tutoring, life-coaching, and/or babysitting brats like the Ditzney Princess in Aliso Viejo is probably thirty to fifty an hour. Some of them have hot mothers. I’m not against a Stacy’s Mom lifestyle in which I’m hired to run a futile campaign to keep some Corona Del Mar MILF’s brat from maturing (sic) into a colossal fuckup, but that isn’t my network. My network is the one we’ve been cataloging in recent disgustions.

If that’s my tribe, God help me. ISB isn’t factually wrong: I am not becoming quality by surrounding myself with low quality. I’d like to not be a crass piece of shit about it, but if the principle can be separated from a fixation on $14,000 wristwatches, he’s onto something. Am I cursed to associate with such people? No, it’s worse than that. Am I cursed to associate with them from a subordinate position because they run all the businesses? It’s like I’m trying to live out a Bruce Springsteen runaway’s ballad and Rodriguez keeps showing up to tell me, no, son, I’m the one singing your song.

From this perspective, it may be prudent not to surround myself with MiL and the Ditzney Princess because I’m on cordial terms with a number of baristas who are better quality than that. Like, woman, you’re insane and I have to assume based on your hiring decisions that your social calls and resulting business contacts are exclusively with the fellow insane.

Reach out and smack me if I ever start sounding like Garrison Keillor when I complain about towns full of losers. Keep me honest if I ever take on pretensions of being a treacly wholesome motherfucker. I’m not against small towns and small business on principle, but if I keep running into this kind of shit, my stance may change. At this point, I’d mainly like to find employers who aren’t out of their damn minds, not that MiL has leads on any. I’m not sure that I’m done for good with her, but to misappropriate one of my Atlantic City reality television whores, I ain’t Captain Save-a-Boss. I can’t save a boss. Man, it ain’t easy bein’ a boss, now.

Not too damn easy having one, either, come to think of it.

 

Sure, Americans won’t do menial labor, if by “Americans” you mean the Real Housewives of Conshohocken

Today is a beach day. I feel terrible about playing hooky in Newport on what should be a workday, but no more terrible than Mother-in-Law should feel about her noontime lashing out yesterday. It is not my place to know today how or what she feels in the aftermath of that dumpster fire, since it is not Newport. Newport itself is problematic (tourism), but eh.

I’ve scavenged some cans already, so today actually is a workday, as I really should keep reminding myself. Just because it doesn’t involve Mother-in-Law, Travis Kalanick, and/or enough money at once for a tall Pike doesn’t mean that it isn’t work. It isn’t a side hustle; it’s a roadside hustle. I mostly found safe places to pull over along the old highway out by Nashville (not THAT one, for better and worse) and clean up after the rainforest rednecks on the state’s dime. I also found a hearty junkie bottle, a one-liter plastic Pepsi bottle that at once relieved and horrified me when I discovered that it was full not of used cigarette butts but used syringes. This is another point at which I lube up, bend over, and softly moan, haidt-fuck me now, Ghomeshi. It may not be a comprehensive morality of disgust, but it is disgust. Take me down to the VFW hall to make my #MillennialPledge and let me TELL you about my trauma.

I feel bad about forsaking my plants so early in the season. Some of them are as fruitful as an Elton John concert for the Queen’s household staff. That said, we’ve been over, and over, why I had to ghost that hot mess of an operation. Free markets don’t work when one party isn’t free. The labor supply at that berry farm is tacitly based on the restricted liberty of its labor pool. I wasn’t even on course to quit working there just because the Ditzney Princess demonstrated all the socialization of a poorly behaved five-year-old. That much was tolerable. Our off-the-clock hypomanic Socratic Method continuing lecture series and involuntary fruit tasting was not. The former, I suspect, contributed to the latter, but Daughter-in-Law wouldn’t have been excited to that quantum of collective punishment by a single, individually manageable brat.

How this will ultimately be resolved is yet to be seen. It is very much a social crisis, and another tricky day for me. Bish be cray, dawg; bish be wack. My then-colleague’s comment two years ago about MiL being bipolar is harder and harder to dispute as MiL’s pattern of wiggity-wack recurs season after season. Her outbursts at staff are the kind of thing I fear myself doing in my worst nightmares in some moment when I could really use some Ativan. Sometimes I wonder if I haven’t actually gone there. As far as I can tell, I’ve never gone flying at others from a position of authority, although I had some episodes, mainly in high school and early in college, that in retrospect look like legit 420 Club aviation. The advisability of my parents taking all of us on vacation in Scandinavia was debatable, but their taking along a coat for me over my objections when we went out on an all-day excursion out of Bergen including a fjord cruise was not.

This shit that MiL pulls looks all too familiar. It’s exactly why I stopped taking Adderall against my psychologist’s advice and, if I recall correctly, didn’t see him again. That shit had me throwing a rubber ball repeatedly at my bedroom ceiling, thinking that eleven at night was a perfect time for an eight-mile hike through the State Game Lands over the neighborhood ridge without drinking water, and then breaking down in tears without warning in front of my parents.

Uncorking the Id in front of subordinates seems like a more distant, more alarming frontier, but mental illness operates as a series of variations on prevailing cultural themes, and a key cultural theme for the In-Laws is their own virtue as small-town small business owners. Give MiL a bit of mad zoom-zoom and she’ll weaponize that shit against us.

This is not just a mental health problem. Mixups in my Mind and Psychotarp have never gotten hostile with me. The hostility that they’ve shown towards others in states of extreme psychotic agitation is comparable to, if a bit more extreme than, the hostility Mother-in-Law has shown her employees in a state of usually mild manic-depressive illness. I’ve had truly debilitating depressive and hypomanic episodes in the past, and MiL’s demeanor in the midst of her tirades has usually looked higher-functioning than that, although not fully functioning. I made it through entire shifts at Hersheypark without anyone asking me if anything was wrong in the midst of depressive episodes that had me feeling much worse than MiL looked during her tirade yesterday.

That wasn’t the High Noon of the Long Pick, although fortunately/unfortunately, unfortunately, the High Noon of the Long Pick was. I know, Wow Much descriptive Many repetition Very annoy. The cultural context of MiL’s tirades is ultimately more troubling and inexcusable than her merely being bipolar. There should be automatic negative cultural feedbacks on that kind of shit. Like, what the hell was the other woman thinking yesterday, the market saleswoman whom MiL weaponized for her tirade against us? Could she really not tell that there was something inappropriate about it? Did she really consider that kind of formalized verbal abuse appropriate?

I’m afraid she did. She looked too calm and emotionally stable not to be culpable. An ethically engaged person who gets roped into that sort of scheme is taken aback. It occurs to me that the saleswoman may have been a bit on the simple side, but where the hell were the cultural prompts that should have raised the alarm about her being used by an emotionally volatile employer who was yelling at a bunch of mostly minor employees under her authority to make a point about what useless, wasteful incompetents we all were? That should be simple enough to register with the simple. Business owners waiving the ethics for their own benefit and talking self-serving stories on the fly about why that’s all cool might explain why it did not.

This whole situation provides its own gaslighting. The only possible master manipulator who was party to the lecture yesterday was the saleswoman, and I say this only because I didn’t get a good enough read of her to say conclusively that she wasn’t manipulating us. Walking off the job violates the Protestant Work Ethic. So does berating one’s employees so that they’re unable to work without defying one’s direct orders to take abuse until one tires of offering it, but we aren’t trained, as Americans, to flip this script. As a fruitboy, I feel most called to work during the summer, because that’s when there’s the serious fruit, but it was never being a fruit grower that catalyzed Mother-in-Law’s workplace harassment of her employees from a position of authority.

That’s the fault of our broader business culture, especially its downhome country-ass versions. I’m afraid that I’ll have to explain, or make an attorney the channel of my piss to explain, to one or more of my employers that they and I are adverse parties. We’re really close to that happening already. If it does, it will be thanks to all the self-justifying fuckheads in business, large and especially small, who go around pretending that we’re all just country friends with little misunderstandings and there’s no such thing as a labor dispute in the Heartland. We’re also close to the point at which my bosses, especially MiL, will blurt out some bullshit about how my standing up to them is moral hazard for their younger employees, since it isn’t one of the lessons that they’re trying to teach their employees about work and life. Of course it isn’t; one of MiL’s lessons is that it’s okay to call a thirteen-year-old employee’s home phone at 8:30 pm and spend half an hour straight berating him about his poor performance. That’s pretty close to an inspiration to a child’s parents, helicopter or not, to consider that the police maintain night watches as well as day watches and to place a call of their own to the nearest patrol desk.

MiL knows better than to do that to me, or so I sense, but she should know better than to ever do that to any of her employees.

One takeaway (*John Hockenberry voice* I have no idea what the fuck any of this is) is that professional boundaries are whatever the boss says they are. Another is that professional boundaries are whatever the employee says they are. If I don’t define the limits of acceptable workplace culture, people like Mother-in-Law will. The Ditzney Princess won’t set any such limits because she’s the dutiful child of pants-shittingly timid authoritarian parents, but family considerations apparently set limits of their own on MiL, who turns around and flings the shit at all of us. Hence my day trip to Nye Beach. I don’t even find a parking space before I’m overwhelmed by a sense of dread at being surrounded by a shiftless, purposeless hellscape of the deracinated and the lost, but no one’s harassing me, so there’s that. The surf is pretty fucking boring today and I wouldn’t mind some more clouds and some fog, but whatever. The bottle junkies out by Nashville had an idea for combating that anomie, even if they criminally wasted a fine pop bottle, aggrieving the heart of Chaka Can. They’re probably all like, dude, you may think that’s worth something, but you don’t do drugs. It isn’t worth the risk of HIV or Hepatitis, but at the same time, a look inside merely made me cringe, not lay eyes of a lake of butts and chaw juice and fight back a rising tide of vomit. So, as Ali G. would say, RESPEK.

I’m a seaside wastrel today. So, according to Marco Werman’s peeps, are the Americans who won’t stop skipping their jobs at the fudge shops on Martha’s Vineyard to go lay out and do other cool Vineyard Vines shit. Hint: you’re getting a clue, too, (ooh!) about why the local Yanks aren’t so much interested in doing menial labor at a fudge shop. The local culture is not ordered to such callings to service. As with our surnameless old boy Lloyd up in more Millingtonian climes, who never had any interested in settling somewhere so damn cold, the cool change Massholes need Jamaicans to staff their fudge shops. As a restaurateur (restaurateuse?) with a noticeably Mayhewish accent helpfully informed America’s listening public, they’re also the maids who go missing whenever the H-1B visas are not forthcoming, leading to much island gossip among the local non-color about the absence of the non-local color, also described without surnames, and the ramifications for the local economy, like being le sad that one must either clean one’s own bedroom or risk letting it start looking like the interior of my Focus.

Listening to this story, I was taken aback but not really surprised. The utter lack of self-awareness was to be expected. The Onion was right about the inner-city murders that left three families maidless. I am reminded of the parable of the workers in the fudgeyard. *Prime Minister’s Question from the Member for St. Thomas incoming* I think I understand your teaching, but do tell, teacher, what is “fudge?” #TeshTips: Out in Provincetown, they’ll gladly pack it for you, too. Fudge shops are a really credible keystone for a local economy for anyone who’s that gullible and retarded, but don’t forget, we’re talking about NPR listeners here. It would be a hard teaching to remind them that there’s still a decent union presence in the grocery industry, hence many American lifers at the register, and to take their white asses to Hannaford to buy the raw ingredients to make their own damn fudge.

This dumbass, dismayingly earnest White Whine wasn’t necessarily about Americans being unwilling to hold down menial jobs. It was more believably about Americans being unwilling to hold down poorly paid menial jobs waiting hand and foot on yacht wastrels who fuck around in the migratory presence of the Clintons. Working in a fudge shop on Martha’s Vineyard isn’t just another underwhelming retail job; it’s an underwhelming retail job catering to the overwhelmingly affluent, a service-industry (lol) job on the Vineyard requiring a scrupulous work ethic to make possible the ostentatious public masturbation of the sorts of people who live on the Vineyard. If I ever visit, I’ll end up wandering around muttering to myself about how appalling it is that they don’t even grow any Pinot Noir or Concord and what a damn waste of a vineyard that is.

It figures that they need noncitizens to take these jobs. Americans would ask for things like days off. Americans might accuse their bosses of talking like Mary Mayhew. Those from Wicked South and other points wicked north would notice. Americans would not particularly enjoy the social arrangement of busting ass all summer for rich fucks who devote their own summers to being absolutely useless. They’d risk being all like, bitch you sound like you’re running for Maine HHS commissioner, why the fuck are you acting like some Mexican gardener and short-order cook is your friend.

As Teddy Kennedy always said, it’s time for a cool change. Ride the Ducks! Few have ever hit the surf like Senator Splish-Splash, the premier honorary Point Loma Sea Lion, but many have aped that fine-ass Kennedy style and pretended that nothing much went down at Chappaquiddick. What’s-her-name wasn’t one of us, you see. (I’d look her up, but I’m already Very Online today, and it’s more than enough.)

I don’t personally know many Masshole seaboarders, but I know plenty of Philadelphia shore wankers, and they aren’t too reputable themselves. ISB and ISBF come to mind. ISB has a shore house, invitations to which he uses to induce the Insurance Schmuck’s ex- and future girlfriend to serve as an unpaid lady-in-waiting to his fiancee. I was just about to say that I at least get paid to listen to Mother-in-Law’s tirades, but then I remembered yesterday. Wow None lucid Much details Very confuse.

I keep hearing about how hard ISB and everyone in that office works, how they all have such strong work ethics, but when Philadelphians go to Sea Isle City or Avalon or wherever the hell ISB has his Shore pad, because he’s too classy for Wildwood and way too good for AC, that ain’t a work ethic; that’s a beach ethic. Brenda Jorett apparently saw no inconsistency in posting photos of herself lounging around on a folding chair down the Shore and scolding young’uns for not having a work ethic. Pick fruit, Jorett.

Seriously, there is something really bizarre, surreal even, about people who dick around on the beach during the summer even insinuating that I, a commercial fruit picker, am maybe kind of lazy. You gotta be shitting me. Cracka you clownin’? I do more tangibly productive physical work for a shabby partial living in a day out in the fields than anyone in the sales offices at New Amsterdam Death does for a living. (The Insurance Schmuck, and probably also ISB and ISBF, for that matter are probably thinking, okay, I get the death part, but what does this have to do with Amsterdam?) (On second thought, definitely ISBF.) Fuck, I did more physical work for a living picking up cans off the roadside this morning than I’ve heard of ISB and ISBF doing as adults. The Insurance Schmuck at least did some real work managing pools, which gave me an opportunity to show him how to hammer a nail into concrete so that maybe the railing wouldn’t fall over into the pool. He’d have a decent chance of getting hired as an ocean lifeguard, but I don’t see him looking for any sort of work that wouldn’t keep his hands soft.

This is the crowd that most strongly suggests that I’m some kind of trust fund wastrel. The Dunkin’ Doorman didn’t question my work ethic and professional capabilities. He didn’t reciprocate my strong online accusations that he’s a lazy, pain-in-the-ass bum and coffeeshop troll. If I know anyone who deserves a shore house, it’s him. He might not make much use of it if it didn’t include a Dunkin’ franchise whose customers he could pester (I get the feeling that the Dunkin’ Donuts shortage keeps him off the beach in good weather, too, since he runs on people who run on Dunkin’), or he might charge random people admission to hang out on his property, payable in cash money or coffee. That would be no more corrupt and much more honest than ISB’s shore-whoring. I swear, he’s like an apparatchik straight out of the Brezhnev Politburo, getting social climbers to do him favors off the clock as a way of making sure they’re allowed to come hang out at his dacha over the summer and get classily blitzed.

The idea of either ISB or ISBF considering themselves superior to me, especially so in times when I do not have enough of my parents’ money at my disposal to invest with them as a proper high net worth individual, is absurd. ISB seduced ISBF by going around acting like a modern Midas. That was generally how it looked when I first met them, and the Insurance Schmuck has given me dispositive details about them, notably including the $14,000 watch. That crazy bitch owns a watch worth damn near twice what I paid for my Focus. If my parents let me take over my mom’s old Civic for my own use back east, as my dad has been considering, ISBF’s bling-ass watch will be worth more than both of my cars combined. She’s also got $20,000 in outstanding credit card debt, down from $30k since she moved in with ISB, which ISB frets isn’t enough financial responsibility. Yeah, but you know something, buddy? She didn’t take up with you because she’s financially responsible. This dense bastard wonders why his fiancee is such an all-around high-maintenance spendthrift, but he can’t imagine that it has anything to do with his bragging about his own bitchin’ rides. Now he’s shacked up with Rolex Marie Antoinette, she’s getting riled up to the point of occasional domestic battery, the Insurance Schmuck is admitting as much to me in reluctant, hushed tones, and ISB is wondering why this crazy woman whose hand he’s preparing to take in marriage isn’t a model of financial prudence and a fit Christian helpmeet. Yeah, maybe it’s because he wasn’t advertising for anything of the sort.

By the way, this balls-to-the-wall, sleep-deprived nutcase has named his fiancee as a policy issuer and taken her along to business meetings where she has alienated clients to the point of reneging on agreements that they were on the verge of contractually signing. ISBF is New Amsterdam Death’s equivalent to the Ditzney Princess. (I initially wrote that as “Amsterdamn.” Hmm.) Since we’re talking about an affluent part of Philadelphia, not a poor part of rural Oregon, she’s a Borderline wacko who looks like she might end up featuring in a Dateline NBC murder special, not a religiously preoccupied spergchild, but it’s mainly a different kind of shitty.

Think about doing concerted farm work and having to deal with any of these people. Imagine being hardy and grown-up enough to pick fruit several hours a day and then being confronted by the moral superiority complexes of a thirteen-going-on-four dipshit who reads Christian fairy tale fantasy literature, thinking that there is such a thing; a flashy spendthrift insurance sales poobah who totally knows that he earned his shore house by his own hard work and deserves it, and who, like Donald Trump, may or may not have a positive net worth; that guy’s reality television-ready girlfriend, whose net worth is predictably negative and who doesn’t have any identifiable professional skills, to be construed however salaciously you wish; and a farm owner-operator who repeatedly pisses off her own workers by yelling at them about how useless they are but still fails to send the fantasy dipshit home to resume her studies of John 3:16-compliant treatments of Beauty and the Beast. 

Is the Dunkin’ Doorman even low-functioning compared to any of these? He seems more mentally stable than three of the four and at least as well socialized as the fourth. His fantasy is that I’ll buy him a coffee. He doesn’t play a productive role in the game of life, but neither do ISBF or, to be just a wee bit uncharitable, the Ditzney Princess, and ISB, the host with the most, makes a fair amount of his money by skimming from the junior salesmen, Amway-style. We’re left with one productive person among the four, and she gets upset and makes us stop doing work for her so that we can taste the sour fruits of our own labor, in a lame, bathetic foreshadowing of hell.

As the racist 4-F from two years ago was told by the gay-for-pay who sucked his fellow off under the bleachers at the high school, “I’m not gay, but twenty dollars is twenty dollars.” According to television, that’s what it costs in Over-the-Rhine, too, if you don’t mind that’s she’s built like a German brick shithouse. It’s much like I say about bottles: $1.20 is $1.20. I didn’t even keep track of what all I collected today, but that’s a rough idea. I’d rather be picking fruit, since I’m not just in it for the money, but we’ve already discussed where that’s led. The 4-F fucker was safer for work than Mother-in-Law. It was mostly because the rest of us could tell him to shut up. Also, he seemed worse at the time because none of us had the Ditzney Princess around for comparison.

I’ve done worse for $20. No, that isn’t quite right. I’ve made $20 in a day, or less, and then been hit with something intolerably awful that stopped me from making another $20 at once because I never run into such a glorious fucking pile of deposit bottles. We can’t say that dealing with MiL was degrading like prostitution, because the idea of prostitution is that the prostitute gets paid for putting up with whatever her job involves. #NeverForget: none of us was paid or will be paid for putting up with MiL’s tirade yesterday, or with most of her other tirades. That wasn’t like the junkie bottle on the old highway near Nashville, either, because I’ve only come across one junkie bottle and no one forced me to look at it.

The Dunkin’ Doorman and I are both trying, separately (and let us rejoice and be glad for that), to maintain some kind of faint yeoman spirit. He seems to earn more than I do, if what he does can be described as earning anything. I used to consider him a moral inferior, but then I started comparing him to other people in my professional and quasi-professional life. He doesn’t give a shit what I think about him; if he thinks less of me, it’s just because I didn’t buy him a damn coffee when he pointed out that I’d dropped a ten spot on the floor. He doesn’t regard me as another person called to take part in his personal public relations campaign by mere virtue of my being involved in his life. He doesn’t want a cut of my parents’ estate when they die; he merely wants a cut of my pocket money now, and yours if you happen to be in the neighborhood. Beautiful day, yes? Yes, a beautiful fucking day. Mr. Rogers, pray for us. Nor is he the yelling kind.

Yes, that fucker is still a huge pain in the ass, but as they say about sex in Maine, these things are all relative. He understands freedom and cherishes it above rubies. ISB and the Insurance Schmuck are obviously more hostile to my freedom of speech. Mother-in-Law is hostile to the freedom in general of her employees. For her, freedom’s just another word for oh shit I may lose pickers again. I had nothing to lose but the $24 a day I earned on my best day this season. Well, that and the intangible shit having to do with not being unemployed and adrift and unproductive. But if the Insurance Schmuck and his colleagues valued productivity, they wouldn’t be working, as they like to call what they do, in insurance. What they really value is being able to show off their own affluence. The losers who hang out all day on the downtown Eugene plaza are in it for the money, too, but they’re satisfied with rather less money.

I don’t always work, but when I do, I prefer to bang on the drum all day. Don’t talk back to me (or to anyone else who actually doesn’t mind being a lazy bum all summer long, since unemployment has a way of getting me distraught) from a damn beach unless you’re there to eat a washed-up shark’s corpse for dinner with a Bowie knife. That’s a legitimate seaside folkway. I might be young, but I ain’t stupid enough to think that you don’t need a harbor to go fishing in a way that won’t get you shut down by the health department, or to think that Meghan Trainor is anywhere near the most obnoxious thing to come out of Massachusetts in my lifetime.