Protest peacefully! Express your frustration, but please not your anger! Wear your masks! Get a permit! Be home by bedtime! Stay off the freeway!

Minnesota is getting riot season going early this year, huh. No, ja, Pekka, don’tcha know, da colored folks aren’t too happy abaout naouw. And ya thought da ethnic trouble was bad enough between your kind and the high-class krauts!

Gee, one wonders why. The same secondary megalopolis where a beat cop is on trial for murdering a black man over a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill just had another beat cop shoot another black man to death because he was driving on an expired car registration with an air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror and an active arrest warrant. The police woman in the latest case mistakenly drew her taser, according to her chief. Did any of them learn anything from Johannes Mehserle? If so, what?

The authorities didn’t give their dispensation and blessing for the Black Lives Matter protests last year just to gaslight their constituents. It was whatthefuckular, for sure, having mayors and governors and health officials give their constituents an extraordinary hall pass in the thick of nearly universal orders to shelter in place, but for real, that’s what they always fucking do. The only difference that time was the ongoing outbreak of a virulent respiratory contagion. The provenance of and official reactions to the Dread Ailment have been questionable, to say the least, but most reasonable Americans knew better to taxi the nightclub circuit mutually freebreathing on total strangers all night under the circumstances.

This raises a question: Is there a difference between mixing unmasked with strangers indoors in a probably futile effort to bone one of them and mixing outdoors, mostly masked, in street demonstrations pushing back on the police for asserting their prerogative to strangle citizens to death at will? Geez, Ole, I know some a ya are priddy dense, but da ya fucken think?

The civil authorities knew they had an uprising on their hands. Dr. King’s beloved white moderates love to blame the upset on people staying home, being out of work, and watching too much TV, which, goodness, I can’t imagine there were any official incentives or demands or ubiquitous fnords encouraging such idleness, and it’s conceivable that unusual, unexpected free time makes it easier for the public to follow national news of, say, two Buffalo riot cops cracking an old activist’s skull open in front of local news crews for calmly walking up to their formation with a peace offering and the entire riot squad resigning when their colleagues faced criticism and minimal professional discipline for committing an aggravated battery that National Guardsmen in formation behind them narrowly prevented from turning into voluntary manslaughter by being the first ones with the decency to provide first aid and call an ambulance. Maybe these are policing practices that ought to have captured closer attention from more Americans in their earlier, sometimes less violent manifestations, back when we theoretically all had work. Yes: Buffalo riot police did nearly murder an old man for approaching them in a spirit of serenity and peace; yes, the Denver Police did shoot out a man’s eye in an attack that was either the result of terrible trigger discipline with riot control weapons or, all too likely, a reprisal attack on a random civilian for breaking a curfew on his way back from work; yes, Salt Lake City cops did shove a barely ambulatory old man to the ground for being in their way on the periphery of a protest; yes, the security services brutalized Christopher David when he calmly approached them to ask them if they gave a damn about their oaths of office; yes, riot police in Walnut Creek and San Diego made explicit murder threats over loudspeakers; yes, a Houston cop deliberately trampled a woman with his horse; yes, Pennsylvania State Police kettled and pepper-sprayed protesters on an embankment for briefly occupying the Vine Street Expressway, in the same city where Joey Baloney beat the shit out of protesters just because he was pissed off and felt like serving America a spicy wooder ice.

It was truly the Spirit of 76, American cops going hardcore Redcoat on their own constituents for challenging their samurai privilege to whack anyone who disobeys their arbitrary, contradictory orders, gives them mouth, or in any other petty way displeases them. It’s hard to believe, for example, that Bill DeBlasio has the NYPD under his civilian control. Likewise Lori Lightfoot, Ted Wheeler, and possibly the grandiose, Ceausescuan Eric Garcetti, although that sociopathic creep looks like he quite enjoys the classic folkways of the LAPD.

The United States turned out to be full of derelict, plausibly blackmailed or threatened with assassination, who would not or could not control their own cops. The whole country was suddenly suffering from a bad case of pigs mad.

As always, these shitheads did their thing. They tried to coopt the protests. They, those elected to answer petitions from the public, told the public how to petition. We admire your passion. We welcome your peaceful protests. We want you to make your voices heard. No, you are not allowed to riot. No, you are not allowed to loot. No, you are not allowed to be on the streets after dark. It’s bedtime, serf. Return to quarters at once.

That’s why they expressed their approval of protests. That’s why they declared protests an essential activity. They wanted to assemble a controlled opposition to divert and diffuse the public’s raw leverage: same shit as ever, just this time with a respiratory pandemic on the loose, as constantly reiterated through lecture series, human interest trend pieces, and fnordforce deployments.

What these morons figured was that if the protesters validated their permission to assemble for the narrow purpose of telling them to control their goddamn cops, they’d be in for a penny, in for a pound in the face of their every other overbearing diktat. That’s what they expect their constituents to do in the midst of escalating stochastic police attacks. They expect scared, angry constituents to subordinate their own anger to the feelings of Jacob Frey.

Yeah, that’ll fucking happen. “We know you’re scaed and upset–” Yeah, no shit, boss. You gonna do something about it, or do we have to shut down the freeways? Oh, YOU’RE the one who’s deciding to barricade freeway exits, raise the drawbridges, and retreat into your home behind multiple lines of riot cops, like a mad queen? Get fucked, bitch.

“Rioting and looting won’t accomplish anything. Please, express your anger, but–” Oh. Is that so? It immediately gets officials’ panties into a twist. It makes them visibly uncomfortable. It throws them off balance. Is that nothing?

Huh. Maybe these horny-for-rules scolds and the paranoid propertied constituents they always prioritize over anyone vulnerable don’t want to face genuine, credible pressure from their inferiors. Maybe they don’t like actual leverage from below. It sure seems like they get hella squirmy whenever they’re cornered. They sure seem to hear but not listen. It’s the same problem their cops have with private citizens. It’s exactly the objection the same elected officials have to direct actions that violate their instructions. Oh no, they strayed off the parade route!

The peasants are coloring outside the lines. Ousside, but such a long wait for the government cash. How bow dah. Let’s give the LAPD three billion this year, though.

We’re all bad babies indeed. We’re so insolent. They tell us how to express our feelings, and we insist on expressing them as we see fit. We just won’t listen. The subject can have a little peaceful protest, as a treat, but just a little.

It’s striking. Officials who never do shit to bring grocery stores into food deserts or public services in general into the ghettos suddenly go on edge whenever a mob smashes the windows at the Speeday, overturns the hot dog rollers, and for some reason leaves most of the pastries in place–in fairness, Kajieme Powell didn’t much care for them, either, it seems–because a cop just murdered one of their neighbors during a traffic stop and the chief described it as a tragic accident. Our upset public officials, the same ones who refuse to disciplne their police forces and instead deploy them like occupying armies whenever there’s an outburst of unrest over an act of violence on the part of their colleagues, insist that rioting and looting, the same direct actions that so palpably unnerve them, are senseless and useless.

As Melissa Ann Shepard always said, oh, come on, sweetie, you don’t have to step out on me and get your coffee in the breakfast line when I’ve already made us a pot. They don’t actually want us petitioning for the redress of our grievances. They don’t want their constituents getting so uppity. It’s inconvenient. It’s disruptive. If it doesn’t stop, it will force them to do something about their rotten, violent, seditious cops. Their sermons about the proper, effective way to protest are a pile of bullshit, and by now the people they claim to represent know it.

*Most civic Roger Schafer midnight munchies voice* I didn’t do shit to the Speedway! I was cutting food costs!

Disincentives to work

My parents and I drove through Tamaqua on our way north from Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. It was my idea. Two of the most resourceful rednecks I’ve ever encountered were from Tamaqua, and I was interested in seeing their hometown, to see what made them what they were.

It is not the right stuff. Tamaqua is one of the most overpowering shitholes I’ve ever transected. It’s rundown, it’s depressing, it has worse traffic than most of Philadelphia, and it has a lot of extremely shady characters hanging out on the porch. Tamaqua is the sociology of Albuquerque stuffed into a half-abandoned neighborhood in Pittsburgh where the trees have all been mowed down. *Extremely “Lebanon’s Looking Up!” Voice* Naw, yous can get work at the warehouse if yous pass the drug screen and have open availability; don’t go rawnd sayin’ we never offered yous nothin’.

Other common things to do for a living in Tamaqua include nothing. I 100% seriously suspect trust fund beneficiaries have a lower rate of unemployment than Tamaquans. We hear about unemployed rich kids more than unemployed poor kids for a number of reasons, most of them involving the very toxic “hustle” culture. That used to be an unambiguously pejorative word, by the way, an epithet for transient characters who might need to roll up their carpetbags and leave town within the hour to escape the wrath of their newly wise victims. Nice racket you were running there, pal; shame if you happened to the ship channel. On Soviet Staten Island, Van Kull kills YOU!

The agitprop to admire proles who live in poverty as a consequence of their 80-hour workweeks and resent trust fund kids for living decently without working is aimed at middle-class normies, or at least at people who, as we call it in this country, work. There are underclass families in this country who lost the plot a generation or two ago. Their deep story, to the chagrin of business owners who would theoretically hire them, is a more honest and cynical one: work is for suckers. Cousin Gigolo and his mother subscribe, and they both have payroll work histories. He’s cleared minimum wage, too, just not by turning tricks. Mom burned down her trailer for the insurance money. I believe she was a sheriff’s dispatcher. One of the local drunks sold the work boots the welfare department gave him and went drinking. That was back in some shit like 1965.

It’s not like the poor or the lower middling have always worked, or the idle rich have not. The rich are the ones who really benefit from getting jobs. They’re the ones who score the good conditions, the good pay, and the prestige. They’re always banging on about how they eat what they kill, unlike their siblings and classmates who are lazy but actually depressed by vice of not being psychotic. Their stories are bullshit: the reason they’re in i-banking or power sales or whatever the hell is that their parents are loaded and networked. If you want to be quality, surround yourself with quality, or have your parents surround you with it from cradle to graduate school, since I guess that’s how we classify third-tier MBA programs. Mind you, I’m a mere bachelor of history who’s never had the drive to pursue a master’s degree in Dale Carnegie Studies. I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you ignore me, then flip your shit at me when I ridicule your shitty friends for being yuppies?

Here’s a point of comparison: Are 10% of my prep school or college classmates unemployed and adrift? No way. Are 10% of working-age Tamaqua residents? Probably. We can’t trust the statistics because they’re dry-labbed, and we can’t trust local employers because they’re puffed full of shit about their own superiority to the indolent proles they keep saying they’d hire.

Tamaquans aren’t poor because they don’t work; they don’t work because they’re poor. The 1% or 5% or whatever it is of trust fund beneficiaries who actually disengage from the payroll job market are easily more marginal to their class than the 10-30%–shit, maybe more–of working-age people who crash out in hard-hit rustbelt shitholes like Tamaqua. Imperial County’s U-3 rate fluctuated seasonally between about 15% and 30% before the Rona, which is odd because everyone knows Mexicans love to work, but that’s exactly it: piss-poor campesino lettuce cutters and their children are the only workers eager enough for work to jump quantum out of U-6 when they can’t find any and get themselves recorded in the figures published for the normies.

There’s no money in working. It’s for a reason that insolvent Anthracite Country municipalities have been sprouting so many nonunion warehouses. Endemic poverty and official corruption make these facilities viable in spite of the extra transportation costs of sorting freight on remote mine landfills without railheads. Recruitment isn’t a bust. People need the money.

Some of the old-school blue-collar locals need the work per se psychically to an extent that’s rare outside Anthracite County and other heavy industrial regions. Before long, though, the work ethic gets spread thin. The postindustrial nonunion shops blow sunshine up everybody’s ass about how great it is to work for them, and residents who are honest with themselves recognize the injury and insult they face from these companies as a sucker’s bet.

When I lived in Lebanon County as a teenager, I was always coming across happy horseshit about how great it was to work at, say, the chicken packinghouses in Fredericksburg. Hersheypark, where I actually worked, paid less than the chicken plants–I think–but not by much. Mercifully, only the dumbest (and, I assume, best-paid) assholes in the company gave a shit about the Hersheypark Happy bollocks. HR didn’t entirely act like we were just there to run the deep fryers, but the rest of us had the good sense to know it and act the part. We were within spitting distance of minimum wage, and our immediate supervisors’ wages were within spitting distance of our own. By God this carny shit was a job, not a career.

The amount of this sponsored content I encountered for shit-tier votech tracks where the Puerto Rican ladies on the floor were all so happy because they changed spots every two hours to prevent repetitive stress dropped off a cliff after I transferred to the Day School, where Everyone’s A Wiener (TM). Like hell did anyone there want any of us ending up pulling crop all day for eight bucks an hour. They were paid to keep us off the floor, just like the Lebanon Daily News and the counselors back at Cedar Crest were paid to shunt the slow kids from the poor corners of the district off to Bell & Evans. Ironically, that gig at least pays. Yanqui can’t afford to be picky about stuff like getting a paycheck and some damn FICA if he wants farm jobs, is alls I’m saying. Of course nobody on the prep circuit wanted any of us ending up below the station of an i-banker or maybe a cardiologist’s wife. Oops lol.

Everybody who pays a second’s attention to the schools know this. Places like Tamaqua get the ass end of the deal. The townies can tell when their governments don’t think they’re worth half a shit to society. They know for a fact, and a correct one, that their government and the rich pigs who bought it wouldn’t have hung them out to dry in a failing county full of played-out mines, failing infrastructure, and poverty-wage right-to-work shops if they cared about their welfare one damn bit. The state shows which constituents it despises and prefers dead by exposing itself to them exclusively through tinpot tyrants in the schools, the welfare offices, the criminal “justice” system, and the DMV. The rich don’t get anywhere near such a raw deal. Most of them live around each other in the metropoles to assure it.

As I’ve often poined out in some fashion or other, this is one of Donald Trump’s great political strengths in the Rust Belt. No shit there are racists in Schuylkill County, but I thought we were trying to distinguish it from Santa Monica. The high-turnout local notables in the Anthracite Country broke about the same way they always do everywhere in 2016: this time for their fellow Republican business shyster, not the usual starve-the-beast Republican zealot who tries to grease them with some tact. Much of Trump’s working-class base, however, and likely most of it, had an equally savvy reason to vote for him. At last they had a major-party candidate who bluntly called out the entire political system as a huge fraud and racket instead of blowing endless sunshine up their asses about how the system works just fine and would do them wonders if only they changed everything about their lives.

Political parties do NOT tell voters whose support they value to change themselves. The GOP does not tell its local notables to stop being shysters who routinely commit wage theft and use their businesses as collateral for their drug habits. The Democratic Party does not tell its PMC strivers to stop being shitty freaks who need to chill out about college. They’d cashbomb the shit out of workaday–and loafaday!–Tamaquans if they valued their votes. Scolding the locals for being unambitious, clingy to their roots, and set in their ways is a way of saying Wee Haidt,, Yoo. Hunky crack coal; message: we don’t care.

Rather, hunky cracked coal. And Lord have Mersey on your fairy ass if you don’t suppose a Pollock ever had a bad thing to say about his fellow Slav.

The Brahmins need to hear this. There are worse, in fact much worse, things for a politician to be in a washed-up rustbelt shithole than a boorishly vulgar playboy who pretends to be rich for a living and flimflams his way into getting bottomless cash and credit dumped into his lap. For real, I was around and some cases personally knew people in Central Pennsylvania who owned, among other businesses, Maier Bread, Ward Trucking, and Turkey Hill. I have one degree of separation from the fucking Sheetzes. Yes, I mean exactly the Sheetzes you have in mind, not that my career is made-to-order lmao fml. I have never known or even known of anyone in Central Pennsylvania who acts like Donald Trump. Dude’s alien, even if his son-in-law is REALLY alien.

Hillary Clinton is another matter. She’s a very serviceable example of what made people in places like Tamaqua hate school. Plenty of rich people in rich areas also hate power-hungry incomptents who lord it over those they were hired to serve, but the rich get results for putting up with them. Tamaqua is poor. Hillary would fit in as a principal or a district attorney, and provincials who salivate over DA’s screwing the proles over hate Hillary.

Do we still wonder how Trump won Schuylkill County?

Affluenza cases who ringfence their entire lives to hoard all the good shit don’t like dealing with ill-tempered, capricious tinpot authority figures, either, as we learned from Operation Varsity Blues. Rick Singer got er done, and he wasn’t particularly unpleasant about it. In the poor, left-behind (TM) districts, the sacrifice zones, much of the population cannot remember an interaction with an authority figure that wasn’t bad. Their cops are thugs, their bosses are passive-aggressive assholes or outright predators, social services clerks give them the runaround and look down on them, their schoolteachers think they’ll never amount to a thing, and preachers look at them as something between embarrassing lost causes and two-bit revenue streams. It doesn’t play in Schuylkill County to be a cringe mashup of a pearlclutching church lady, a schoolmarm, a detention monitor, and a guidance counselor who’s always telling the poor kids to consider an exciting career in logistics, i.e., get paid shit to slave away in a warehouse up by the freeway while the company bathes in tax breaks for being a “job creator” with 0% collective bargaining in its shops.

The Donald may have lead poisoning, but Hillz looks down on Anthracite Country for having a case. Trump’s hardhat shtick was always crude and usually vague, but it worked under an assumption of high union penetration: jobs everywhere, money everywhere, shove it up their shaft if they try again to shut down the mine. More to the point, like any other constituency in, say, Bethesda or Streeterville, poor voters in Tamaqua want their elected officials to fucking do something for them. In coal country, that means, well, what else are you thinking besides coal?

Not much of the locals ain’t it, Hillz.

A Trading Places deal between Tamaqua and Chevy Chase Section Five would get Tamaqua’s government recalled within the month. I can’t say this enough: the affluent DO NOT put up with that degrading shit. The only ones who dabble in it are local notables who prefer to stick around town and lord it over the local poor until they’re even worse degraded than to move somewhere with a decent quality of life in exchange for modestly less power.

Like all other politics, this is about power. Does ya gots it or doesn’t ya? Rich liberals are pissed off at provincial hardhats for voting FOR their own interests, not against them. Trump intermittently threatens portfolios and destabilizes the force fields of clout around other ungodly rich and vain celebrities. Crucially, he does it in a way that makes politics look disreputable, as our politics most assuredly are. Trump pisses Washington off for crashing its party at the invitation of mere constituents. To the extent that ordinary voters in Schuylkill County are aware of ghouls like HR McMaster and John Bolton, it’s as the guys who got their friends shipped home from the desert as hamburger meat.

It’s awful that people who never catch a break because every level of government constituted to serve them has deliberately failed them don’t care about the pronouncements of the Intelligence Community about Vladimindcontrol Putin. Pissing a bunch of Beltway scolds off is more than they usually get from their officials.

Tamaqua in an extreme but by no means unique example of a community that gives its citizens no reason to invest one minute in maintaining the system. I’ve spent enough time in nearby parts of Pennsylvania to be pretty sure that if I were from Tamaqua I’d throw up my hands and walk away from it rather than try to fix it. There is a LOT of misgovernment around there. Something had to go pretty fucking wrong for multiple levels of duly constituted sovereign government to produce the slums of inner-city York and Lancaster, the north and east sides of Harrisburg, or Reading in general. For God’s sake Harrisburg is the state capital! It’s a seat of government, and no government with jurisdiction over it can keep it inhabitable for a population of under 50,000!

When full-time employment in productive, physically demanding jobs leaves people living like that, it’s hard to seriously conclude that the answer is to get a job. No, just take a fucking look around and tell me that a reasonable resident of this shithole would consider it worth working to fix and not instead demanding that one or more of the governments aggressively asserting sovereignty over it steps up to the goddamn plate for once.

While we’re at it, let’s not kid ourselves about what bougie normies mean by “work.” That’s what they call 3-4 hours of identifiable work over the course of roughly 8 hours between an air-conditioned office and air-conditioned vehicles. If we’re using the same words to describe the job duties of a strawberry picker, a dentist, a good-looking lazy bullshitter who styles himself an internist, and an utterly no-account college administrator, we’re using words that don’t mean shit. Grossing $160k to sit around an office in Plymouth Meeting filling out Phillies backseat coaching schematics for six hours and looking up insurance law questions for fifteen minutes is “work” the same way Carley Gomez is “my girlfriend.” Gimme a fucking break, Stossel.

These don’t seem like characters who should be questioning my work ethic or work history, or those of anyone else in this country who occasionally pulls weeds, so of course they’re the ones with all the clout and all the civic power.

The night before my parents and I drove through Tamaqua, a friend took me out to dinner in East York. He’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had, but mercy the fucking normcore. He does office work and (mostly?) light field work for a commercial real estate company with a middling regional property portfolio. I’m not clear about how much of his job is actually work. However much it is, it seems to give him a lot more downtime than any farm or yard job I’ve ever had. “I’m clearing a blackberry patch. Okay, I’m mostly just standing around in a half-daze looking at what I haven’t cut, listening to another excruciating hour of NPR for some awful reason.” Come to think of it, yet again, this is what I have to keep reminding myself. Every hour I spend picking blueberries or clearing invasive weeds is a good 40-50 minutes more than some of my classmates spend over the same period walking down the hall to the Keurig machine.

Again, what we’re trying to keep straight here is what the hell is work. It seems to mean about as much as “conservatism.” It’s only Maine Family Values if they’re Mainers; otherwise it’s just Flinty Incest. That’s what the French call an Appalachian D’Origine Controllee. /Most Immigrant Paul LePage Voice/ If I was them I wouldn’t let me into the gene pool, either. The French–not the Quebeckers; figure that lot out for your damn self–the French, since we’ve been mentioning them an unseemly amount, aren’t lazier than us. They’re about as productive; they just aren’t lying showoffs about it. Did it take some work to drive this tractor into Paris? Oui. Did it take some work to hose the agriculture ministry building down with this tank of liquefied cowshit? Mais oui. Are there leftovers? Hon hon hon, is food for piggy!

It is to protest. Shitposting isn’t exactly work, but it isn’t exactly not work, so call it what you will. Two hours a day doing concerted but easy work is a far cry from eight doing mentally and physically taxing work. Our national language makes zero distinction.

Am I trying to say that we’re right to make fun of our compatriots for being lazy or underworked? If they’re loud about their full-time employed status or work ethic, uh, yes I am.

My normie friend’s complaints had to do with the CARES Act, specifically with the way the $600 weekly unemployment benefit “disincentivized work.” I interjected, “and it saved a lot of people’s lives,” and he pushed on: “Yeah, but it disincentivized work.” Shucks, I guess we lost the plot there. In rough economic terms, what keeps the poor alive is consumption, not production, and we produce so much stupid and destructive shit that if we retooled and redeployed workers who are already producing we could add to our already large reserves of /astonished Ethiopian bus driver voice/ stuffs. Besides, too much of it is made in China to take seriously the claim that our rulers want us to be producers, as opposed to the consumers they won’t stop prodding us to be.

Some commercial tenants had told my friend that nobody is even turning in applications. They’re always complaining about that shit and they would best plead their case by shutting the fuck up about it. One of these stores was Dollar General. While we’re on the subject, fuck your Dollar General. My friend said some of the stores were paying a $12.00 minimum wage, which is possible but not convincing when Sheetz is trying to hire managers at only $13.50. Maybe they’d get more applicants by paying employees more. Maybe retail supervisorial responsibilities should start at $15 or $18 an hour. Dollar General might be able to recruit clerks at a starting wage of $20 in its capacity as a soul-sucking shithole. Sometimes it’s just the money, but not always.

The gist of this whining is that the economy owes these fuckheads people who show up as ordered and work as ordered in exchange for compensation packages that won’t keep them safely afloat. Every fucking time they try to make their own recruitment easier, they go for punitive measures that threaten the health, welfare, and lives of employees, not for reforms that would make it possible for anyone who feels like working to work without fear of immiseration, impossible paperwork, and denial of public benefits. They could push for everybody to get a government guarantee of publicly-subsidized healthcare free at the point of service with no questions about billing: Medicare for All, check this box if you want Medicaid, whatever, just not the snowballing horror show we’ve been suffering through for decades. They could push for $600 a week for everybody, the money and the cash that we all welcome in a manner fully allowing and in fact encouraging us to additionally welcome the money and the cash of payroll work. Instead they’re all No Soup For You.

They’re always moaning that these measures would cost money. Yeah, genius, like everything else. The government isn’t stopping them from evading taxes by working for cash under the table–as a practical matter, this goes unenforced–or heading to Eugene in a VW bus and bartering it for a barrel of pickles. What’s stopping that is the desire not to be wheeling a fucking barrel of pickles down Highway 126 like Tom Joad when the truck breaks down. A handful of marginal freaks want a thing to do with any of that. Some things are pricelessly stupid and stupidly priceless. For everything else, there are media of exchange.

Somehow the military-industrial complex and the carceral system don’t register very loudly for businesspeople and their more gung-ho managers as huge public money sucks. What registers for them at earsplitting volume is the waste of giving ordinary citizens public benefits that they’ll mostly plow back into the productive economy, e.g., the businesses they complain they can’t staff. If they think their tax dollars specifically are going to pay for public benefits, they’re nuts. Leaving aside the merits of modern monetary theory, their taxes are being pooled with hundreds of millions of other people’s taxes and some measly shit like 5% of that pool is going to public benefits. Ian Welsh writes that it was more back when we had regular political bombings.

What they actually object to is the government providing for its own constituents in ways that keep them from having to subordinate themselves to people who mistreat them in jobs they don’t like. In causative terms, they expect the government to deprive the poor of their rations as a way to coerce them to work for others. In other settings, such a gratuitous, manipulative deprivation might veer into felony child abuse or a war crime. In this setting, it’s normal. It’s what we’ve always done.

So was slavery.

My dad lately loves to tell about how a hardware store owner he likes asked a couple of girls who had come into the store to apply for work what they planned to do with their lives. The girls appalled him by forthrightly telling him that they wanted to work for a bit and then go on welfare.

We might have more of an American work ethic if we had less of a Chinese export ethic, as displayed on the shelves of that very store. Please enjoy dumping, the traditional and typical of Chinese glorious industrial policy. Plus our dude asked the question. I didn’t need to take a confirmatory look around the county at, say, the quality of company my grandmother kept, to believe that he might not like the answer.

It would be awful to turn into a society where the degraded remnants of the working class go out on the street and sell the work boots they got from the welfare department for an afternoon’s drinking money. We were too proud and self-respecting to do a thing like that back in, like, 1970, when a friend of my grandmother’s boyfriend did exactly that not five miles from the same hardware store. To keep it clear (lol wut), that’s Cousin Gigolo’s grandfather’s buddy. The guy whose daughter and grandson both committed insurance fraud kicked it with a guy who fenced a pair of presumably shoddy boots the welfare department had given him so he’d get a job. I can’t imagine why other citizens of this fine community, where all but a few hundred yards of lakefront is owned by or in trust for out-of-towners who can afford to be jagoffs all summer, show limited interest in working for a living in a store whose merchandise was once made in American mill towns, quite possibly ones in the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys, but is now made in China because Americans don’t want to compete for the job.

Welfare is one way not to compete. The problem with decades of vile propaganda about how the American working class is lazy and overindulged is that some of the working class who are meant to react with shame instead react with renewed aspirations to collect a check just like Momma does. Oops. No shit there ends up being a black market of food stamps for bunks, government board for private room. What else are the losers supposed to do? Crime? That’s always an option, as Cousin Gigolo and his mother show.

No, I do not mean prostitution or drug dealing. That’s work. It’s fine to say that’s no basis for an economy, but neither are summer camps. Nobody who comments on this shit knows a damn thing about it. Pricing in this country is meaningless. The only thing backwards counties in rural Nebraska do is sell grain and meat on glutted commodities markets, depending for their survival on charity from the big cities. All you can do with foodstuffs is eat them.

NPR helpfully advises us that the government cheese program was inefficient. The government had to hire cheese graders, which no private bulk cheese purchaser ever does, and some of the cheese was substandard. Thank God we have to go to the government for shitty cheese that’s free and can’t just go pay for cheese that’s even worse at Walmart. Markets are the efficient way to allocate resources. They would never allocate bulk milk produced by our job-creating commodity dairymen into the Des Moines River starting no later than 1931.

If I were cynical, I’d posit that the entire welfare apparatus in the United States is designed to discourage gainful employment and then blame beneficiaries for being out of work. If the goal is for beneficiaries to get their shit together and get a job, how about not throwing their benefits into chaos when they do that? *Smug headtapping meme*

Our officials know this. They defy FDR’s wisdom about universal benefits because they seek to profit by sowing division among their constituents. Social Security and Medicare are popular because they’re structured to minimize resentment. Reach retirement age and they’re yours.

That’s only a modest simplification. Other programs get nonclaimants and rejected applicants hot and bothered about their neighbors’ free lunch. We wouldn’t need cashiers in our school cafeterias if we had one, come to think of it. There’d be less complaining about food stamp “abuse,” the usual shit about the lazy poor arrogating the right to buy steak at the IGA just because they have the money on their SNAP cards, if all it took to get the free grocery money were to put one’s name and mailing information on a form and sign it as an affidavit of one’s desire to welcome the money and the cash. Believe me: every millionaire currently living on canned beans in a shanty and bitterly complaining about food stamps for lobster would fill out the form and claim the gibs. That’s an extra few hundred a month to stuff into old Folger’s cans and National Geographic collections and leave around the shack, too deep in the junk for anyone else to scavenge. Not one of those miserable bastards turns down Social Security or Medicare, benefits paid for with their hard-earned tax dollars as much as any other function of government.

This shit is ridiculously straightforward. Want to encourage the poor to work? Eliminate all penalties on their reported earnings when they get jobs. Turn their earned income into a 100% marginal benefit on top of their welfare checks.

In fairness, this regime would put certain people out of work. Specifically, it would unemploy the legions of gatekeeping bureaucrats responsible for operating the means-testing regime. It would put the desk detectives out of work, or “work.” There’s no need to investigate welfare claims that are expressly lawful. They’ll be returned to the wellspring in the form of taxes if they’re going to anyone who isn’t poor or living deep under the table.

Jeff Bezos could file his own welfare claims, too, but he’s always too busy buying his payouts from corrupt government officials whose staffers are much obliged to fill out the necessary forms. These benefits keep ordinary people afloat. They are not how the rich piece together their fortunes. Please.

Universal or on-demand public benefits would free Americans to do some of the actual work that needs to be done around here. Tamaqua has more than its fair share of deferred maintenance. So do countless other Trump Country dumps. Means-testing doesn’t achieve the deferment of maintenance on its own, but it sure helps. Keeping people too busy on the phone with benefits clerks and too exhausted afterwards to do anything productive is a good way to keep a shithole down and dirty.

The real purpose of means-testing is to keep useless eaters and surplus labor more broadly employed (if they’re middle-class) or to cull them from the herd (if they’re poor and overwhelmed). Our rulers good and goddamned well know what they’re doing. They want the poor to have a life expectancy of perimenopause. Their family values talk is misdirection: at a minimum, they want the lower half of the elderly to be too poor to pay for a decent meal, just as they were when Social Security was first established. Fancy Nancy doesn’t want her fellow Italian grandmothers hanging around unless they have gelato money, just like herself, and she ain’t handing it out from the US Treasury.

We need to give up on the idea that hard work is how Americans get ahead. It isn’t enough for that to be true for half of Americans, or even two thirds. What about the other third? Guess they can go eat shit and die.

There’s basically no correlation. Dentists work hard, and lawyer-cop-politicians (the Democratic Party, as we now conceive of it) show up to do whatever it takes to brutalize and ruin their constituents and feather their own nests. This doesn’t answer why crooked flimflamming slavedrivers who’ve spent their careers catering to sadistic shakeddown artists deserve a dentist’s retirement fund and thirty-year veteran strawberry pickers don’t.

There are certainly plenty of no-account derelict scumbags and thugs who live in poverty and squalor, but their morals don’t dictate their station in life. Our Old McDonald friend Captain Flimflam could use his existing skillset to get rich running a cult. He’s a few barely perceptible tweaks away from being a pre-gas Shoko Asahara. The Ragin Canajun–who doesn’t dress like an Amishman and look like Bruce Springsteen, doesn’t bend over to cut a 20×20′ patch of wheat into hand-sized sheaves with a little pre-UFW scythe and then fuck off two hours and two valleys over for the night to lose money playing a $200 bar gig with his folk garage band, reliably shows up to tend his farm plots, disposes of piles of human waste when he encounters them instead of letting shit pile up to seat level of portapotties he’s agreed to have replaced, and is the farthest thing from shady trash–the Ragin Canajun is the one who’d have trouble getting ahead in that business if he tried.

America is a society that kinda sorta sometimes does code enforcement. It’d be a longshot to fill Pot-o-Shit Friend’s housewarming gift in Palo Alto and then fly back to Raleigh, but that’s because it’s Palo Alto. Otherwise, it’s basically cool to charge rent on that mute twink’s pre-rural electrification shack and/or some weekly motels. There’s no stigma to preening that hard work explains one’s net worth when it’s a matter of easily provable fact that 60% of it is real estate inflation.

Work per se isn’t the chump’s game here. Do I sound lazy? I write this stuff on my own, but for the love of God if that sounds like a jagoff’s pastime I’ve personally operated an estate winery. This is pretty reputable in a country where it’s considered public service for one pervert to tell another pervert on live television, “Oh, you’re cool. You aren’t a pervert; she’s a lying tramp!” This is why we need Joe Biden, for the courts.

The chump’s game is acting like the system is owed a goddamned thing. The overclasses it’s structured to benefit don’t care about being productive as long as they get paid enough to compel their inferiors to do the work. Trump, Pence, Biden, and Harris all indulge in the same general mode of living: scamming and bullying their inferiors into doing the work. The Angola Penitentiary is literally, geographically a plantation. Senator Girlboss don’t mind. She likes it that way. Two slavedriving scumbag lawyers are running for the presidency and the vice presidency to unseat a mob money laundering frontman cum serial business cum intelligence asset (ours, not Vlad’s lol) and a talk radio grifter. Who the hell would enthusiastically do the work allowing any of these four to keep lounging around and bossing other people around? They deserve to go hungry until THEY come groveling to US. Withholding labor from them is righteous.

The last thing Joe Biden is is working-class. Half the people I know from around Philadelphia who talk like him are lawyers or cops or six-figure sales hustlers. His carrying-on about being from Scranton isn’t entirely false, but the implication is. His daddy never worked in the fucking mines. Dad was a transiently ruined bougie turned used car salesman. Joe’s the town mill owner’s kid who’s always up in his hardhats’ faces for giving him backsass and up in their wives’ privates at company events. American voters are willing to look past this, especially after what they forgave in 2016, but like his opponent, the guy’s a liar, a cheat, and an upper-crust rapist.

To no great surprise, people like them abandon the same troubled postindustrial districts our elected officials have been abandoning for the past two or three generations, depending on which left-behind dumps we’ve been abandoning and how young their girls get pregnant. Our rulers want the residents of these communities to move away to endure worse poverty away from their loved ones, die young, and raise just enough surviving adolescents to provide a suitable number of servants.

They do not want Tamaquans asserting a right to stay in Tamaqua and be given help getting by. That’s a privilege reserved for rich assholes in Chevy Chase. No lie, Billy, they have in fact taken all the coal from the ground, even burned met coal in steam locomotives to keep some rich bitches’ dresses white. In a civically healthy society this would be a reason to fund the maintenance that has been deferred in coal country and fund other economic development projects that actually fucking develop constituents’ economies. In what passes for American society these days, it’s an excuse to drive them into overpriced metropoles and into student debt, to deracinate them for purposes of private service.

It is what the Germans used to call an incentive to make free. These are cultural learnings of America for make benefit the worst possible people now. Thus has it always been. You get food to eat, but only as an incentive.

Whatcha gonna do when war is no more? Whatcha gonna do when war’s verdun?

We wait in joyful hope for the Blessed Eschaton, the day to come, not right now but someday, somehow, if you can hold fast to patience, Kroeger, we will climb aboard the Cruise Ship, leave it all behind, sail to Lahaina, and get into a street fight over a picnic table with a family of Micronesians.

This is how we allocate territory and resources more aloha. That’s almost an anagram for haole, whose insolent ass the Visitors Aloha Society of Hawaii will gladly return to sender, with or without an escort to the gate from the Attorney General’s office. One of the meanings of aloha is “goodbye,” yeah? She jus toldja, Pablo, yeah? She ain’t invited ya to da luau dis time, not to come here and pass da kine dacha coffin.

When push comes to shove, to wax delicate about these rude matters, the rules are whatever the hardest group of hard bastards to show up to the pig roast say they are. Indigeneity is an arbitrary, nebulous concept. “We were here first; who the hell are you?” is a reasonable position, but reasonable doesn’t carry the guns. Multiple indigenous tribes fight for control of the same patches of the Levant, the Caucasus, and the Balkans, with renowned results. Maybe they aren’t indigenous after all, depending on whom their ancestors charged in and beat to death first.

As Rachel Dolezal will agree, we’re all Africans. Pitcairn Islanders are mixed and at the same time inbred. They’re like Mainers, always thinking they’ll accomplish something by miscegenating with the Canucks. If you’re here, you’re family, and you might not want to be.

Back here on the Mainland, haole be talking the story all words-like about how we need to respect and obey our kupuna, notably including John Bolton. That Chesapeake Walrus was on NPR again, this time for his book (duh) but also to promote in-person voting, the civic pilgrimage of standing in line with the rest of the neighborhood. Why wouldn’t that pompous son of a bitch act like a quadrennial or biennial trip to the school gym to vote is the only time Americans ever leave the house to engage in the agora or the polis? Yeah yeah, we have off-year and primary elections, too; whole lotta folks showing up for that lol.

Voting is expressly and strictly a mechanism for the individual citizen to tell the government what to do. For example, a common constituent demand is “mail me my ballot, bitch.” In other words, I’m telling you what to do for me, and I’m telling you from home, asshole.

This is meta, but barely. We have to fight for our right to fight for our right to tell John Bolton to fuck off from the goddamn radio. That ghoul got over a million people killed for no good reason and tens of thousands more grievously injured or maimed, and there he is, using a book plug to complain that voters aren’t sufficiently reverent in how they vote. That’s what this shit is. It’s a procession. It’s a pilgrimage. It’s the fucking Stations of the Cross and the Camino de Santiago and all that shit, but for Norman Rockwell-ass nerds. Of course we should resent the government for pushing this shit on us. Of course we should vote the bastards out if they don’t put a stop to it and let us vote with maximum convenience.

John Bolton wants us to wait in line like dutiful pilgrims to express our will to our governments. I don’t suppose the lines at his polling places resemble those in, say, Atlanta under Brian Kemp, probably in large part because his neighbors think it’s ridiculous and demand ballots by mail. I fucked around at the County Center for a few hours on election day in March and watched traffic at the drop box, but I’d be pissed if Sonoma County told me to do that as a condition of voting, and I’m annoyed to hear John Bolton, of all Strangelovian horrors, being the faux-folksy codger who says that’s how it ought to be. Andy Rooney wasn’t behind a string of war crimes.

At some point, I have to wonder what isn’t meeting tonight to make waiting in line to vote feel so resonant. The Rotary? The Knights of Columbus? We do rather more of that than we should, as Americans, and we have precious little to show for it. The good Tocquevillean shit doesn’t work so well when Carnegie and Frick hire their Pinkerton goon squads. Standing up to such thuggish scum is how people wrest back their rights from tyrants. Queuing up in a parish hall like it’s the fucking unemployment office doesn’t connect cops with bricks.

We’re confusing upstream and downstream here, just as Bolton and the gang would have it. Since riots and other protests have been flaring up this year, we’ve been hearing more than usual about how much our public officials and other supercilious derelict busybodies respect peaceful protesting but abhor rioting, violence against police, and every other tactic that forces them to pay attention and do something. Of course they want a few handfuls of doofuses milling about on the National Mall in tricorn hats. Of course they want the pussyhatters, wearing a different style of tricorn watering the tree of liberty with a more peaceful flow of blood.

They started allowing us (sic?) to vote in the first place as a way to figure out how to keep the bricks in their place in times of popular grievance, i.e., by keeping the cops in theirs. It wouldn’t be unproductive to stage a runway sit-in anymore than it was unproductive of Richard Daley to send that streets crew into Meigs Field at half of dawn. Remember, we’re trying to get our way here, not express fealty to officials who can’t be bothered to care. *Most civic antigentrification Roger Schafer voice* I didn’t do shit to the dozer! I was cutting concrete!

The same tyrannical impulse drives all the scolding our Oaf of Office caught a few weeks ago for calling our war dead losers and suckers. The war dead he caught the most flak for disrespecting were from the First World War, the War so Great they didn’t try to plan for one greater. In other news, Francisco Franco is still dead.

I’m unaware of Americans of any importance making a patriotic stink about the Grand Army of the Republic in my lifetime. This is in stark contrast to Vietnam, although somewhat oddly not Korea. In effect, Trump holds the majority opinion on honoring our WWI dead, specifically, that it’s unimportant.

The namecalling doesn’t play as well in Peoria. Constituents who support Trump’s effort (lol sic) to get our boys (and girls!) out of the desert may well take offense to hear their antiwar president speak so contemptuously of war’s victims in the United States Armed Forces. Again, though, the doughboys he was dissing have been dead hella long, and the media shot their load on the story by focusing on Trump’s disrespect for our irrelevant war dead from the trenches of the Western Front and not on those who didn’t manage to run through the jungle.

As obnoxious or offensive as our Thicc Moist Boi’s private commentary may be construed, it was heartfelt. He genuinely and personally believed that the cemeteries weren’t worth visiting. The shitheads who piped up about his disrespect for our war dead don’t care about our war dead themselves. Many of them obviously treat military personnel, dependents, and casualties with dripping contempt. They did the same thing here as always. They seized on the latest bullshit controversy to impugn Trump’s character because they resent him for being a messy bitch from Queens who lives for drama. People of his character should not usurp high office, they fume.

What they mean by character, of course, is poor manners. Most of his predecessors were men of shockingly bad character. It’s just that they cleaned up well and the Donald does not. SuperZIP gaslighting victims now esteem George W. Bush, a man who respected our troops enough to get thousands of them killed in a war he started on false pretenses, with the main effect of destabilizing a country whose strongman the Blob hated for some reason, even though he was one of the less hostile officials in his region. Fuck off if you think I’ll grant that cokehead failson the good repute of caring about the military personnel under his command. He cared about them as much as he did the victims of 9/11. *Suprisingly high-energy Jeb! voice* Please, collapse.

Donald Trump gets war in a way few of his recent predecessors have. There may be an idiot-savant element to it, but he has the good sense to recognize that it was disastrous of the US to intervene in WWI and a Vietnamese civil war. Framing the disaster in terms of the gullibility or lameness of the grunts who fought these wars is pretty close to the mark, even if offensive. If they’d refused to go, we wouldn’t have gone, because they were us.

The battlefields and cemeteries don’t really tell us what happened. They’re misleading if we aren’t careful. I’ve walked around Valley Forge and Gettysburg. They’re deceptively peaceful. They’re long cleansed of the blood and piss and shit and moans of death. We watch Ken Burns for some drumming, a quick spot of shooting, and another spin of that sweet-ass Ashokan Farewell. Gettysburg wasn’t like that, either.

An area I like even better than Gettysburg is the Catoctin Mountains. I’ve walked around the ruins of the Catoctin Furnace and read the interpretive signs. It may have taken a loser or a sucker to run the forge for the rich degenerates who owned it. It certainly did to work for Carnegie. It takes nothing of the sort to divert ball bearings to the riot police. Horsey go wheeee!

Donny Fingers cares about that every bit as much as he cares about Camp David. What good is it for golf? The fucking government owns it, so he can’t charge for accommodations. That loser Lincoln only has one Bedroom.

Camp David has been used for peace, though, and so, in bizarre ways, has Donald Trump. That’s one of the reasons he’s so hated in Washington. He won’t mouth their deadly pieties. He’ll mouth his own, of course, but not theirs, and hoes mad.

Right on target

It’s beautiful. The week I start shopping at Target again, one goes up in flames smack dab in the Homeland, on the southside of Minneapolis, in the ghetto (in the ghetto).

We aren’t waiting to start Hot Summer this year like we did in Ferguson in 2014 and Baltimore in 2016. In those cases there were ambiguities, ones that did not favor the police but offered them weak reasonable doubt. There is absolutely no ambiguity whatsoever to what Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd. He murdered an innocent man in cold blood under color of police authority. Floyd’s first cries for help would have been justification for any bystander, police or civilian, to shoot Chauvin in the head at point blank range. Deadly force is legally and morally justifiable to stop a murder in progress. I understand that’s one of the things they teach at academy. Bumrushing Chauvin or forcefully beating him on the head would have been preferable, but only if practical. The other cops watching him calmly choke a man to death by kneeling on his neck apparently approved of his conduct and so would have rushed to his aid, not his victim’s. 

There are few worthier reasons to be judged by twelve than ensuring that such a thug be carried by eight. I feel degraded for writing these things, hardened, but I’m just conforming their own violent language to the heinous circumstances they caused. 

These circumstances arose in an ugly civic context. The Twin Cities were past the threshold to justify violent rebellion by the time Chauvin took the knee. The violent police repression of the protesters who took to the streets afterwards is all the proof we need that Chauvin’s cold-blooded homicidal violence and his squadmates’ calm approval are part of a dire systemic problem. MPD Homicide should have had him in custody within the hour. Detectives never have such compelling probable cause fall into their laps. If his own colleagues refused, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprenehsion should have moved in and apprehended him on suspicion of, don’tcha know, being a criminal. He committed a murder in uniform and broad daylight a ten-minute drive from an FBI field office. 

Nobody from any of these agencies responded to arrest this thug. Other cops are reportedly standing guard in his yard out in the suburbs, where the rest of the department lives, too. This is why Homicide should have hauled his ass in without delay. The US Marshals could end up in a Ruby Ridge-style siege if it tries to serve his arrest warrant now. It’s just a possibility; the feds got the Danziger Bridge Boys to surrender peaceably, through a receiving line, in suits. It’s still dangerous to have armed cops guarding a murderous ex-colleague on 24-hour rotating like they’re in the fucking Secret Service. There are no guarantees that this part of the clusterfuck will end well, either. 

This whole disaster could pull a 180 while I’m writing about it. By the prevailing standards of our times, the mayor and the chief shitcanned Chauvin and his three accomplices at warp speed. The mayor, Jacob Frey, sounds genuinely saddened and outraged in his public comments about the murder, and he’s absolutely right that he or anyone else but a cop would already be in jail for doing that. For some reason, however, he’s stlll giving his press conferences in Coptic. He’s using the same passive voice about things that tragically happened they always use. 

The culture is sick. It’s deeply sick. 

The Third Precinct riots are just medicine. The dose isn’t always on time. Frey is asking for backup from the National Guard, for his seditious cops, instead of backup from MPD Homicide for his constituents. He seems like a geniunely decent and responsible person. Something is badly off about his failure to get any level of law enforcement to have Chauvin under arrest and indictment. There’s a good chance he’s being threatened. 

Minnesota Public Radio reports that the MBCA and the FBI are investigating the Floyd murder. Maybe they aren’t slow-walking the job. I’m not particularly prejudiced against them in these cases.

Press statements of this sort still do not explain why the hell Derek Chauvin is not already in custody. The case against him is overwhelming. One witness attesting to the authenticity of the video in front of a cop is enough to have his ass downtown. Chauvin and his squad effected Floyd’s arrest on probable cause consisting of a complaint from a lone witness that he had committed a forgery for $20 in a convenience store. This was how Chauvin came to murder Floyd.

It is taking every level of law enforcement an astoundingly long time to make an arrest in one of the strongest cases ever to come their way. This is why the Target had to burn. 

The Target in question is an eerie one. It’s located in a strip mall district, in the midst of a variety of fast food restaurants, grocery stores, and the Minneapolis Police Department Third Precinct stationhouse. It’s across the street from the cop shop. The Target is at the far end of a parking lot at the northwest corner of the intersection of 26th, Lake, and Minnehaha; the stationhouse is on the southwest corner. Entirely coincidentally, Target, headquartered in downtown Minneapolis, uses this store to field-test its new security procedures and technologies. 

The Third Precinct building got fucked up pretty badly in the Target Campaign. The police are outraged, in the same way that any ordinary private citizen would be outraged to find a brick through his living room window at the hands of a man whose son he had just murdered in broad daylight. Chill, bruh. Ya, don’tcha know, ya just gatta chill da fuck oat, cool da fuck doane, and stap bustin my balls oover dat. Da mayor, he wants us to make peace and go back to telling Norwegian jokes on da radio wit Garrison, too.  

Be well, citizen. 

That’s the store where HQ figures oat ho to stap–if you wish, out how to stop–criminal failure to scan Good & Gather Andouille four-packs at self-checkout. These are the neighborhood constituents the company uses as test subjects for the optimization of the military intelligence-grade surveillance loss prevention surveillance. Like any other normal department store in any other normal neighborhood, it’s located across the street from a major police patrol base for an extremely troubled department. 

Target sounds like a chain that would call the police on a customer over a $20 bad check, but hey, the Floyd murder was only, like, Chauvin’s twelfth incident of serious official misconduct and third or fourth on-duty homicide or whatever. Beside, the test store is only three miles from the mothership downtown. How could the imperial periphery be so close to the imperial center? 

This is a wholesome chain store for wholesome people. It’s deep suburban Hennepin County normcore. Who could object? That sourpuss Franzen? We aren’t racist, but–okay, ya gatt us, we’re sooper dooper racist. Combine the cruelest, most passive-aggressive Midwestern Nice with extreme white flight paranoia and compulsory corporate cheer and, well, you can see how maybe there was a reason why the officer had his knee on that fella’s neck for nine straight minute. Blue lives matter, too. All lives matter. Black-on-black crime is a real problem, but you wouldn’t know it from the liberal mainstream media. 

It’s all too easy to see how these communities could have orchestrated the Holocaust. Communal relations there are terrible. The suburbs project febrile racial paranoia and grievances onto the city. Michele Bachmann and Keith Ellison represented adjacent Congressional districts. Suburban normcore is heavily mediated by television. Television is run by suburbanites and suffused with their prejudices.

On Post-Soviet Prairie of Home Companion, epistemology closes YOU! 

In the midst of this horror show, I can’t get that embarrassing corporate word salad out of my mind. Good & Gather. That makes negative sense. Nobody comes up with a name like that without being brainwashed unto mental retardation. It feels cringe to write about this, to spearfish the barrel in circumstances as grievous as these, and yet I can’t shake the feeling that there’s an important connection hiding out behind the wholesome facade. We’ll cover up anything with a veneer of cheery, ditzy wholesomeness, here in America. Hennepin County isn’t as divergent from the Black Belt as we’d like to assume. 

These are inchoate thoughts in the aftermath of a police lynching and the riots it provoked. I guess the common thread is the unspoken rule that life is good and we are not to complain. Cynicism and critical thinking are party fouls. Good & Gather? Professional marketers came up with that moronic name, one assumes. Are we really, seriously expected to stipulate that this is an intelligent brand name and that the “professionals” behind it are fit for white-collar employment? Please. And that the corporation distributing its packaged foods is unobjectionably wholesome and All-American when it operates a private surveillance state and field-tests new tools in that state’s arsenal across the street from a police station? 

Thinking does not happen in a vacuum. That name is disembrained, but it didn’t just float into some dipshit’s mind out of nowhere, with no cultural context. There’s a reason; we just have to look. The dumbest motherfuckers on earth all draw their stupidity from one cultural context or another, and usually from one that’s ambient. The ambient culture bathing that branding decision has to be one holding that The Brands Are Good. They provide us with our health plans. 

Or, if we work down on East Lake, they probably don’t, but America is a land of opportunity, but we don’t want the wrong elements moving into our neighborhoods and doing damage to our good schools. The question is always who’s us. Statistically, most of us are not. The conditions the normies would rather not mention are available for those who push the subject; shit in the punchbowl and they’ll rattle off a bunch of brain-dead, prejudicial nonsense that, by the time it’s over, has excluded a majority of Americans from the protections of our governments. They’ll deny and elide the channels of earthly power that they use on a daily basis until there’s no way to restore a semblance of accuracy on any of the subjects they’re discussing without steamrolling them, fact by excruciating fact. I hate having to do this in real life, but I can’t stand to roll over and go along with such weak, misleading argumentation pertaining, say, to the American medical-industrial complex, or the basic moral rectitude of Uber. Like, since you brought it up, we have to look at possible means of coercion other than the government telling us to do something or Thomas Jefferson having us put to the lash. 

For crying out loud it is not too cynical to express reservations about ceding control over one’s health insurance to a police department that tolerated serial killers in its ranks until this week or a chain retailer that markets sausages under off-brand names that are absolute gibberish and also detects its customers’ pregnancies before they do. This company and Walmart sound like exactly the companies to leave as the only browable bookstores in counties of over half a million. There couldn’t be an equity problems with this plan. 

For some reason I didn’t remember the Target teen pregnancy test scandal until just now. It’s probably because it was so close to life and far from death. 

All of a sudden all these things become unnecessary

Let’s name some of them, bearing in mind the local and factional caveats and other stipulations, but nevertheless, let us name a few, just from memory:

–Evictions;

–Foreclosures;

–Crosstown bus fare;

–Sitting in a tollbooth all the live-long day;

–Office jobs;

–3-1-1 quart Ziploc horseshit at TSA checkpoints;

–Business air travel;

–Winery tasting rooms;

–Tendentious objections to zero-barrier immediate rehousing of the homeless;

–Incarceration;

–Going to school;

–The sacrosanct quadrennial in-person voting pilgrimage;

–Constantly jumping through hoops for medical care;

–Moral hazard whining about UBI disbursements.

Yang Gang, you up?

It makes a constituent wonder whether any of these things were ever necessary, and of course they weren’t. We discover, to the surprise of our worst public intellectuals, that there are still a number of very necessary things: hospitals, groceries, auto supply stores, gas stations, farms. Our radio stations are still on the air; some of us still listen to them entirely too much, but Fat Cracka ain’t even tryna resist DJ Beth Holland Huizenga. The radio: why yes, Mr. Osgood, I will see you on it.

If you’re paying attention, you noticed that the examples just listed are not like those listed at the top. It hardly takes any attention to know, on some level or other, that the former list covers much of what is officially misconstrued as the American economy. Dear God, I fucking thought the last half of that sentence in the Kai Ryssdal voice. Remember what I said about too much radio, kids? That’s fine; I don’t exactly myself. All the same, NPR is like the Tenderloin: you can learn interesting things there. For one, this new dispensation has at once home-confined and spatially liberated Brian Wattttt. For another, it has freed up seats on BARTTTT.

Cut me a break; I’m not listening to Randol White People these days. Watt’s going on with that, Devin. We ought to wonder, though, what it means that traffic and ridership are down 80-90% through multiple notorious bottlenecks, with maybe a 10% drop in total capacity for immediate provisioning of necessities and a stark, sudden improvement in provisioning for certain chronically vulnerable demographics.

There’s an old unholy trinity to describe what went away, old in the same sense as prestressed jeans: waste, fraud, and inefficiency. This term of art is traditionally deployed, in the ancient and venerable connservative tradition of making shit up, as a slur against the government. Mainly it’s used against the parts that work well, such as Amtrak and the Post Office, and withheld to spare those that don’t, such as the armed forces and what we fancy the criminal justice system.

In our current state of emergency, this trinity transforms from scurrilous agitprop to helpful descriptor. Safeway is still operating, frantically. The dense archipelago of cube farms whose inmates were free to sit around repeating what she said as variable combinations of personal entertainment, foreplay, and sexual harassment mostly are not. I keep shouting it into the void: it speaks volumes that The Office is so prominent and popular as an eminently relatable satire of our lives (Who the hell is us? What is this? Bethel Park my fat white Lebanese ass) and not as a serialized work of transfixing Faulknerian estapism, a story in the same broad genre as novels about unemployable paranoiacs who hoard trash.

None of that is what a reasonable observer would call a workplace. I once chatted with a barely solvent flimflammer with a drinking problem who was theoretically selling insurance by day and less theoretically dating a dentist’s widow and the same dentist’s daughter by night. To his gushing amazement, he and I knew the same community-trust retard from Plymouth-Whitemarsh, a smelly fat fiftysomething who liked to go poolside and clumsily hit on thots. The guy was better at storytelling and getting that dentist’s sloppy seconds than he was at sales, but he was way too well-behaved and well-meaning to keep Jim, Pam, or for fuck’s sake Michael company. Meanwhile I hear nine-to-five normies saying shit like, oh my goodness, anyone who’s worked in an office can relate to that show. Huh? Good God, y’all, it’s no wonder we leave the getting shit done to China.

Git ‘er done. Say, I believe that’s what Mr. Jefferson barked at his fellow Virginians.

Emergency or not, we’re inevitably stuck on a timeline in which the toxic racialization of work and play pervades our lives. I get my fix through–what the hell else?–NPR. A fruit grower in Smithsburg, Maryland is the latest whiny landowner to go on the record with his grievances about how he had to charter a van to drive an eight-man beaner crew all the way up from Monterrey with the same focus a caravanner would need to get across the Nullarbor Plain and through the quarantine station at the state line on fumes by 1:30 pm sharp. Smithsburg is just across Camp David from Thurmont, where I insist on a drive-by pilgrimage to a community of some of my favorite peach trees whenever I’m solo and mobile in Maryland.

One ridge over from the Catoctin Furnaces and that son of a bitch was on the radio to piss and moan about how Yanqui never does him a damn thing. These sob stories always seem to feature enrolled members of the Wypipo Nation complaining about their fellow tribesmen. The lib owners of our great land love to titter about this hypocrisy and self-loathing, but it is categorically little to nothing of the sort. Lazy Americans, in these cases (Many Such!), are Americans who don’t own land. This landless refuse is commonly denigrated as white trash, explicitly or more often implicitly, or alternately as the coddled affluent, to distinguish this shitcannable mass from the farm owners defaming them, who are in no way proudly living off the avails of disposible Mexican reserve army labor.

This is at first blush a downhome pastime down at the corner of movement conservatism and liberal wokescolding, but it’s more than that. Complaining about lazy Americans under a whitening gloss, as opposed to the OJ-ready darkening gloss so cherished by Cliven Bundy on his trips to North Las Vegas, is a great way to ward off the idpol scolds on the cultural left, but it’s also a great way to avoid drawing unwanted direct attention from, say, Baltimore City’s unemployed. Too much frankness might cause them to notice that they’re in the same deplorable basket as the average Great Value Catoctin Cracker, and that would be way too reminiscent of an integrated Depression-era crab cannery union on the Eastern Shore. For God’s sake, boys, you don’t tell them that the steelworkers had an integrated local in Birmingham years before anyone out of state had heard of Edmund Pettis. We put the Ashokan Farewell fiddle track on the turntable and reenact Antietam, but we don’t do any of that nostalgic shit for Bacon’s Rebellion: insufficiently recent, perhaps, but certainly too unpleasant.

Speaking of the panda bear poor, guess who’s stuck manning the groceries this month. Asian-Americans are reported to have the highest rate of work-from-home capability, albeit still under 40%, much lower than the American press corps today assumes, and we aren’t talking about Camobians or Laotians here lol. The Onion ran an article years ago about how more and more Asians were defying stereotypes by being lazy and poor, just to show that outfits of its class don’t hire writers out of Fresno or Elk Grove. Any of these insipidly inspirational ethnic narratives is prone to run violently aground, and those who have the stomach to watch are in for some reliable entertainment, but the navelgazing, inflammatory multicultural horseshit is a red herring as much as it is a direct outburst of culture. The ethnic festival genre is a useful veal pen for the less competent and ruthless surplus elites our diseased apparatus of social reproduction keeps shitting out into the job market. The money and prestige aren’t what’s on offer in “consulting” or in i-banking, as a rule, but they’re adequate to forestall the working-class agitation that the wingnut welfare cases across the aisle conflate with Joseph Stalin and Ebonics, under the categorical umbrella of The Left.

It’s worth reiterating here, for the vast majority of pundits and think tank sinecurists who can’t fathom anything so self-evident, that American academia is NOT part of the left. Oberlin is a fucking sideshow. That shithead dean from Tisch who livestreamed herself dancing to REM in front of hundreds of highly educated, downwardly mobile witnesses studying under her authority, by way of refusing to refund their prorated tuition and fees for the cancelled balance of the semester, is the actual revealed moral center of the postmodern American academy. Larry, Jerry, Joe, and Jim worked at right-wing juggernauts. So many states, so few coaching methods! All we have to do is compare how many Americans watch NCAA football or–good riddance for once–March Madness to the audience for the published works of the academic divisions of the academy.

Think about that: we have to fucking specify that these academic institutions have academic operations somewhere in the back of the house. Our young people aren’t being brainwashed by this cabal of hopelessly tweedy dorks. Maybe it in fact exists as a movement. Who fucking cares? Nebraska Coeds exerts more cultural influence.

We may not have sports in our time, but, as always, it’s time for #SPORTS! Hollywood shysters like Harvey, Woody, and Roman notwithstanding, and assuming that the arts scene is credibly liberal (i.e., ignoring most of the blockbuster filth it releases), the lion’s share of institutionally facilitated abuse in the United States seems to arise on the right: churches, jails, Jungleland, organized athletics, Scouting. Chesterfield my leg, but usually not in the theater!

Or the theatre! Even assuming that repertory theat[e]r[e] is run exclusively by sex pests, there just aren’t that many theater kids. Nobody watches that stuff. A couple of years ago I dropped a ten spot, I think it was, on a repertory production of Oklahoma at Lebanon High School. A buddy from the berry patch was in the pit orchestra. It fucking whipped. This is the same institution of what we’re encouraged to call education where, if you go out back under the bleachers, they’re not gay, but $20 is $20. I could have brought a date, or I could have bought a date. As my late Kansas State alumni dependent grandmother always said, as a business school graduate herself, shucks.

It’s truly providential that the 2020 Summer Olympic Games have been cancelled. Postponed, delayed: I don’t give a shit; we’ve got a reprieve for a minute. As bullshit economic models go, wholesale intercontinental air travel for the aggrandizement of Bob Costas’s sense of purpose in our world is a whopper. Like every other skybox grandstander you or I could name from the boob tube, only more so, that pompous gasbag has netted more than enough ad revenue distributions to retire to a poolside bar or a squash court or whatever. These are the same games under whose auspices Matt Lauer committed a forcible rape while on assignment in Russia. NBC paid that guy meaninglessly huge amounts of money, he still worked himself like an Amish plowhorse, and he still raped subordinates instead of hiring his pick of working girls. This is of course the same international celebration of athletic greatness that hosted and served as the blessed channel of Bela, Marta, and Lawrence of the Labia. It’s the premier international excuse for eminent domain overreach, construction cost overruns, and white elephant featherbedding. Governments fight each other for this excuse to waste their constituents’ tax payments on lavish receptions for objectively useless foreign entertainers.

This is a beast I don’t mind seeing starved. Whatever national government is the most slickly, aggressively crooked and self-promoting wins the honor of dropping billions of dollars on theoretically reusable flagship venues built expressly to reconvene a quadrennial international exposition on the premise that any given sovereign nation is home to up to a hundred citizens whose accomplishments are remarkable enough to celebrate, but that certainly most of these elite athletes and their teams will fly home officially judged losers, duly humiliated before the world’s television spectators, in the short due course of time.

The cancellation of this spectacle is traditionally inspired by war, but pestilence will do. The Japanese Olympic Committee rode that wave all the way into the Fukushima seawall. I’m just saying, they know construction; they keep it safe. National pride was on the line. A couple thousand of the most pathologically competitive freaks on the face of the earth, earnest young things who had scheduled years of intensive training to optimize their competition performance down to the hour, stood to be heartbroken by, say, the organizers over in the sweet home of New Chernobyl noticing with rising alarm that their country was most prominently in the interational news for having a death ship quarantined in Yokohama Harbor. It took weeks of bitterly tenacious optimism in the face of a proliferating global health crisis for these fools to finally Christopher cross over from pigheaded boosterism to the minimal prudence of, you know, not going through with that.

The international camaraderie of sport can, in fact, wait until a safer time. How bow dah. This whole story is a sensible one to tell me, the slow-moving widebody from the no-cut high school cross-country team; surely these are all well-adjusted young women and men with good reasons for subordinating themselves to the likes of Nassar and the Karolyis. These are the role models we need for our impressionable children. These ceremonies and competitions are a prudent and compelling use of public funds.

I’m General Stroganoff, and you won’t believe what’s for dinner. Hint: it’s a lil sumpin I’ve got with the IOC. Honestly, there is no suitable time to get back up on that earnest bullshit, but as I said, we’ve currently got ourselves a breather, a grace for which we should all, in these contagious times, give thanks.

It gets even worse than the waste and public corruption of the Olympics. Qatar is Shanghaiing slaves to build its World Cup stadia. On the sunny side, though, and you’ll like this one, Chester, football is a sport whose players are constantly getting “injured.” That is precisely the respect international competitive sports deserve. Sepp Blatter is just what happens when the simulation overheats.

Different football, Hernandez.

Some of us are never ready for some. It’s past time, then, for there to be less of the worst of that crap. We are actually, if haltingly, getting back to basics. We’re honest to God cutting hunks of bullshit out of our lives and our societies. At long last we’re moving beyond the shady, questioable minimalist preening of Marie Kondo and all the #VanLife and tiny home influencer asshats. A drive-in storage unit around the bend from the clapboard church gun shop in Yelm stacked to the ceiling with old clothes and blankets was never our true clutter. That old soldier living in the woods out past Fort Wainwright with a barn whose second floor was on the verge of structural collapse from all the junk–the ornery shut-in sourdough who totally had a buddy lined up to buy this truck here, and another guy he knew lined up to buy that truck over there, just gimme another day or two–that gentleman, our broadcast entertainment, led a mentally clearer life than many Americans. Most of the people gawking at him from Outside (your facility carry that show, Rollins?) weren’t living any more purposefully than that. Why else were we watching Hoarders? That crusty geezer, at least his clutter had some resale value.

I said SOME, now.

New contagions emerge from Fort Detrick–goodness, I mean from the wet markets of Wuhan. New heroes rise up unexpectedly from the dust, flawed heroes and yet real ones. Nevada supported itself for decades through what came to be known, quite charitably, as gaming. The authorities did not a thing to regulate it, save some underage decoy stings and weights-and-measures checks. Then Steve Sisolak decreed the new economy. Like, hey, guys, we’re making some changes. You can move into the no economy, and many of you in Goldfield already have, but casinos? Game over, Lansky. We’re whole-ass Doctrines and Covenants quitting that shit, cold turkey, right here, right now.

That was it. Decades of cultural inertia and public corruption straight down the Thomas Crapper, in the name of public health. Tens of thousands of Nevadans woke up with the fresh opportunity to do something honest for a living, in many cases by honestly doing nothing. The hell else were they gonna do? This is the state where an active gold mine on the outskirts of town wasn’t enough to prevent Armpit Days. This isn’t a population chomping at the bit for an honest mode of living.

It’s the kind of bold move that gets the constituents antsy, and there’s bad karma to be had in gloating about thousands of line workers losing their means of support and the daily structure of their lives upon the sudden closure of the crooked business until this month employing them. The serendipity of Sisolak’s order, however, had nothing to do with trashing the keystone of Nevada’s formal economy and moving its workers’ cheese. The governor’s master stroke, rather, was to dramatically wash away all the cultural detritus surrounding Nevada’s storied place in American gaming, like so much winter trash at last floating inexorably down to the Indian fishing grounds with the alpine spring thaw, and humble the Chamber of Commerce boosters for the first time in their lives. These, you see, are the cheese movers, not the cheese chasers. Shoe don’t fit so great on the other foot.

It’s a new day in a brave new world indeed for this seedy cast of characters. Their firewall of horseshit about what makes Nevada Nevada is gone, and they aren’t the one with the authority to invite it back home. They aren’t used to not calling the shots. A teeming scrum of shysters is moping around the Chamber offices, impotently moaning, buh buh buh Governor, this is our folkway! We already have the Reed Rez out in Searchlight. We have our Napoleonclaves for the hardliners. Besides, we all know why we get visitors from Utah. If they wanted to enjoy a plate of jello salad and an invigorating glass of milk, they’d stay in American Fork. Oscar Goodman is our spirit animal! We’re, like, culturally Italian Catholic, like Mr. Martini from that retarded Frank Capra Christmas flick!

It’s a cool story. So is the one about what the working girl said to her client back in Ol’ Virginia City: “No, Father, you’re taking a bath first.”

Don’t look at me. Our popular fiction is about wizards and shit.

This new dispensation is, alas, only a partial cleasing, an incomplete Releasing of the Bullshit. Government, that name for the things we choose to do together, continues to do much to and awfully little for the homeless. Perhaps we aren’t together with them, however we choose to define any of that. There are now social distancing bums’ squares painted on a parking lot in Las Vegas, beneath empty hotel rooms with windows illuminated in a heart. #VegasStrong, you shitty loser. The poor in general, it seems, aren’t exactly part of us, either, especially for the Democrats. Chuck and Nancy are means-testing pissants, and Josh Hawley is a welfare liberal now: truly a horseshoe theory in which the horseshoe goes straight into the political observer’s head. Shh, don’t tell the Washington press corps; they’ll have strokes. As I keep saying, Trump hardly even has to try to be left-liberal; all he has to do is get bored and own the libs.

Mainstream American culture, politics, and policy are so hostile to the poor that these weak, partial, still slow reforms are watershed moments. Gavin Newsom and London Breed talking about not just talking about doing something for the homeless is, by the standards prevailing prior to this crisis, active. Decisive. Effective. I understand Nob Hill Dreamboat and Garcetti and the gang are actually kind of doing something here, fitfully and ever more belatedly. It might be, as ever, the hour to show another month of patience for the failure of one of the wealthiest societies in history to get one’s sorry ass into a decent budget apartment. Alternately, it might be an outrage that it took a discreetly homeless Panera employee five minutes to correct one’s modestly botched rush order.

We have things to do and places to be and grievances to air, unless, of course, we don’t. We see California’s officials, all in all a reputable and responsible lot compared to the domestic alternatives, only timidly dipping their toes into the water of eminent domain. Granted, we’re talking about basic constituent services here, and this is no time to build a ballpark, but, say, that’s the whole fucking point: we have a plague on, and this is no time to build a ballpark.

That’s the damn rub. Even in crisis old habits don’t die easy. Process-oriented stakeholder-responsive processes respond to the stakeholders. If that sounds solipsistic, it’s because it’s solipsistic. If you don’t like holding your own stake, ask Beavis if he’d mind. Hehheh hehheh. The process responds to those who force their way to the table and lay it right out there, just like LBJ.

That is, property owners. Garcetti, Breed, Nob Hill Dreamboat: these characters are too bashful not to ask the owners for permission and then wait for it, and wait, and wait. Asking permission of the tens of thousands of constituents they continue to abandon to chaos, squalor, and mortal danger would be a bridge too far.

It might, then, be time to rock straight over London’s head. Shit, I like her and mostly trust her, and it’s a surreal thing to say, but one of the few ways out of this mess is the Wesleyan tradition. Scream like a wild animal at Wynn and the Hiltons and the Marriotts and the ghouls at Blackstone and all the other cocksuckers until they hand over the keys, pending an official determination that the crisis has abated sufficiently to allow a return to normal business. Does this look like an art store?

Besides, eminent domain takings usually include fair market compensation. Again, this is no time to build a ballpark, and since that isn’t what we’re building, we can rest confident that the owners will tolerate nothing less than fair market. It’d be like Trump suddenly “having to” rent rooms to his Secret Service detail. (The Clintons must resent him, having inherited from Mr. Lincoln and the nation only one spare bedroom.) Hey, I don’t have a problem with this. Not at all. I’d like the government to get a bulk discount, but lawyers also clean up large details, and I haven’t been innocent in decades.

Refusing to be an elected accomplice to homicidally antisocial gangland rentier thugs is a process of its own. Cool. We’re definitely being mature and responsible and responsive in these not at all urgent matters. But it’s Saturday night. Let’s get this fucking party started.

They’re throwing Adirondack chairs. Millington, do you copy?

If you’re looking for a reason to hate the damn Yankees–the other, Southerner kind of Northerner–have at it. Longstanding civic and social ties to California have accustomed me to all but the most outrageous expressions of bourgeois belligerence in defense of neighborhood values (mainly financial) and character (not much) on the West Coast. Connecticut is apparently just a different but equally repulsive song from the same rotten hymnal. Away at the moment from the “concerned” “neighbors” who keep shitting bricks over the tent city on the Joe Rodota Trail (Hello, Neighbor), my instinct is to find the Connecticut version, as described in the Pro Publica report above even more execrable than the bitchfest back west. That, in one of the small mercies we cherish, is a straightforward grievance about (extremely nerds voice) My Purchases. It’s inexcusably heinous, on course to get people killed last I checked in on it, but as these horror shows go, it’s a rather economical, workmanlike campaign of ongoing enclosure.

I mention this because the Connecticut version is a turducken of everything I hate about the posh Northeast except the blatant cokeheads. Scout’s Honor I’d rather dial up a Kavanaugh crying fit than read about the insufferably passive-aggressive and twee Adirondack chair horseshit that passes for town civics in fancy-pants Connecticut. I told you there’d be furniture! I didn’t tell you there’d be local control. We strive to federalize these official functions, even royally so, to prevent–nah, never mind; the state governments in these parts are administered to encourage residents and visitors to go fishing, even with a pole, for a smaller fee than their lawyers will charge to sue the CBC.

I was on the Registry, Rundel: the Marine Registry. This plot twist must come as a shock. Remember, if the story doesn’t currently (lol) feature a net, check to see if it features a harpoon, because it does, et de celui-ci, Je Me Souviens; but remember foremost that this is again an all too fleeting distraction from the unspeakably disgusting shit that I stopped by to discuss.

Maybe the Canadians are just as bad, depending on who we’re calling Canadian. Jian Ghomeshi was born in England, but so were Mark Saunders and Russell Williams. We’ve got an England in America, same as we’ve got a Mexico; problem is they’re too new, certainly our idea of highbrow limey cunts at least. When the old English get cornered in the midst of their class warfare, they turn into right freaks. I was going to say straight freaks, but straight doesn’t explain why we screw pig carcasses, and I’ve heard of Savile and Eton, chap. Say, pork: are we Eton that this evening? It’s the other white meat! *Withering Nigel St. Nigel Stateside Holiday Voice* No. I can still see the marks where the jockey strapped it.

The American Wasp Nest is a different scene. When they actually use their manners instead of preening about them they’re all right. Under this stipulation, they sound like a refreshing change of pace from whatever heinous ethnic aggression Boston’s fighting Irish are planning, the violently disingenuous fake graciousness of the Deep South gentry, the sheer insanity of Texans, or whatever we figure explains Philadelphia.

Unfortunately, it’s too much to ask. It isn’t the fault of the Micks for breaking the thatch ceiling, either. They’re White by now, too. And we’ve got lace curtain Irish, so how could we not have lace curtain Italians? Have you seen some of the items the Irish serve as food?

EY! It is a despisey meataball! If we’re gonna snark about shitty islanders and their shitty cuisines, we ought to grab an airsickness bag and spare a moment to contemplate Little Chef. Wheecha izza da blanda mushipee, #EY! That sounds like a quaint piedmont New English village with a quaint three hundred citizens per selectman and a quaint Ashley Kavanaugh on the public payroll for some reason. Out here in the streets we call that corruption. In there they call it, goodness, anything else, Parker; one hates to hear such unpleasantness mentioned in polite conversation, because one should aspire to be polite company.

Fix me another Old Fashioned, Thomas; I again find myself of a mind to get classily trashed. It’s astonishing to keep seeing the fussiest, most priggish pearlclutching assholes crawling out of the mud around there. Where is there even the room for all these smarmy motherfuckers? They must banish their visibly low-functioning failspawn to Nevada, or to the guest cottage, as they do with the wastrels from time to time on SVU. I’d be a whore-ass man if that ever happened to me, of course. On the other hand, a good upstanding Midwestern family might have a semi-finished barn where a kid could hang out in the aftermath if it went down, straight to the mat, in Yorkville.

Eh, not so straight. We wrestle to learn how to become men.

The affluent, cosmopolitan parts of the Northeast Corridor are petri dishes for the worst, most stupefying, most insufferably supercilious highbrow preening. They’re all so fucking tasteful and cultured. They’re so preciously superior. For a proudly cosmopolitan set spending so much time bragging about how much they learn on their overseas vacations, they’re weirdly parochial and provincial. This is what makes them so proud of “their” vacation lakes and shore points and cabins and shit, and so contemptuous of the places where other, usually less well-to-do, people vacation. It very much explains our Connecticunts most jealously cherishing their absurdly local governments, governments local enough to make blatant end runs around state and federal antidiscrimination laws in the name of zoning. They do not care for the “character” of their black compatriots, you see–I mean, the character of their neighborhoods after the previously regional color becomes local–I mean, goodness, the racial bigots in New England are all shanty Irish in Southie and that kind of thing, not the respectable citizens of respectable towns in respectable parts of Connecticut.

The localism only goes deeper and dumber from there. These assholes namedrop their fucking bougie grocery stores at town meetings, as stakeholders that will be threatened by the socioeconomic diversification of their communities. All they’ll be able to afford is a quick bite at Dunkin’ Donuts; they won’t shop at King’s. Point of clarification, white girl: Who in the goddamn everloving fuck gives a shit? They’ll drop in for a slice at the hole-in-the-wall pizzeria you haven’t yet managed to gentrify beyond the city limits? Shut the fuck up.

These are their grievances. Of all the downmarket businesses operating in this country, they bitch about the limited disposable income of the Fairfield County poor going to Arcadia Pizza and Dunkin’. One ought to be solvent enough to patronize our finer community establishments, such as King’s, one would hope. Gee, perhaps one would enjoy a Sicilian Cool Change in the Sound. EY! In a nation with so many repulsively seedy chain stores–not so much Walmart, which has moved midmarket, as Ross, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar–these assholes are sniveling about two of the few fast food restaurants where the poor might be able to scrape together enough spare cash to afford a wholesome, palatable meal. They’re whining about Dunkin’. Have they seen the absolute shit that some of its competitors serve?

It just goes to show how cosseted assholes who have never had to do without the perfect do not understand, even in the easiest, most obvious examples, that the perfect is the enemy of the good. The point isn’t that there are better bagels and hash browns, or that it’s a shame to see the shiksas behind the counter are serving blueberry bagels and other dreck that never came within thirty miles or fifty years of an old-school Jewish baker’s hands on the Lower East Side. This is egregiously snooty. There’s a greasy spoon pizzeria and some outlets of a coffeehouse bakery chain that serves a variety of reliably tasty and wholesome fare at reasonably affordable prices, and they’re bitching about it.

We can see why this crowd is a bunch of slimy shits about college. How else would they all act? I can guarantee that they don’t go to school for the humanities. All I need as proof is that comment about who can and cannot afford to do business where. Bitch mouthed off about that at a town meeting, and she apparently did so without social consequences. In many communities everybody of more or less adult age knows that such thoughts are beyond the pale for public expression. There are always snobs and plain assholes who feel such disdain for their inferiors in their hearts, and some of them express these feelings in private with whatever caution they find necessary to protect their reputations, but it’s a wholly different matter to go on the public record expressly to register one’s distaste at sharing a country and God forbid even a community with poor losers who eat out somewhere decent but affordable.

My point about expressing such opinions cautiously has to do with basic manners. Who the hell wants to hear about that shit? This is a public comment period for agenda items, yo; nobody wants to hear a bunch of navelgazing and whining and condescension about your favorite grocery store and how the settlement of a poorer population than what Westport currently harbors would not produce a direct financial benefit to that precious fucking market. That doesn’t add anything to the discourse that’s worth considering, you insufferable shitty boor.

It would be great to find a single marginal shred of highbrow Northeastern culture that isn’t absolute ass. Maybe you’re thinking, well, at least there’s stuff on PBS that’s extant and worth a damn. Yeah, about that: not much. I watch that shit. It’s the most sloppily, flailingly incoherent mess, and that’s assuming partial, haphazard goodwill. We’ve discussed the disgraceful airing of royalist and aristocratic agitprop before, steaming garbage like Downton Abbey and Victoria. The NewsHour now airs ads for deluxe Proud Mary-ass tours of the Mississippi Delta, including plantation tours. I hate to break it to you how they managed to afford their gentility, cracker. Consider that we, as a sovereign nation, put a cold stop to the public celebration of Nazism in Postwar Germany, a discipline that endures to this day in all four sectors of city and country, now unified. Neonazi thugs go out with Confederate Battle Flags as proxy standards (gee, where did they ever learn to do that?), and across the Axis Japanese PM’s dick around at Yasukuni for the cameras now and then, in spite of the Allied nuclear umbrella (or, per Thomas Pynchon, maybe because of it), but they goddamn well don’t threaten to go back to war if they don’t get their way over the objections of the liberals. The piss-ass Quisling shit that Northerners who should know better do to accommodate the worst provocateurs of the South is unbelievable. Replace “plantation” with concentration camp and see how your romantic bougie tour sounds now. Leave it to Ami, of course, to take selfies at Auschwitz.

It’s almost as if nobody actually gives a shit. They’ve got programming for Book Jews in the primetime lineup about Thoreau, Brown, Brown’s Body, Walden Pond, Katahdin, the Penobscot, Thoreau having bad things to say about the Penobscot, and so forth, but who the hell watches these do-gooder reruns? They sure as hell aren’t aimed at anyone with the moral courage to take on, say, the State of Louisiana for continuing to operate Angola, a working prison plantation on the site of, gee, don’tcha know, an earlier working prison plantation.

Likely as not it’s just inertia that keeps the old bleeding-heart liberal shows on the air. If they had to start with a blank slate and line up a schedule, that is not what they’d choose. We can know this because it is not the quality of the new programming that they pay for  and air. Instead they sanitize posh British life and commission Henry Louis Gates, our old boy Skip, to reassure other celebrities that their ancestors were the good free soil honkies. More than a few of them weren’t, but hey, no need to get bent out of shape about dorky shit like the documented truth that some bumptious Hollywood asshole’s family owned hereditary chattel slaves.

If that renowned Brahmin noblesse oblige had any currency this shit would not be on the air, full stop. Like, listen up, chap, as for me and my house, we will not give your station one more red cent until you stop airing apologia for the worst rich people in the Anglo-American world. Of course this doesn’t happen. The Brands Are Good, and PBS is one of the Good Brands. #BeMore. Besides, highbrow Yankees have a good century and a half of more or less uninterrupted experience making disingenuous collabo accommodations to their class peers in the South. Do they sound like they’d stand up to some unemployable asshole with a policy shop sinecure for writing weaselly dreck about how most of the country’s WWII officers were Southerners, and the South is therefore good for America? Yes, it’s a sector with a storied military ethic, an ethic most useful to the Union at those times when its armed forces are not waging some combination of guerrilla insurrection and frontline sedition against the Union in defense of their sectoral right to torture other people to death for not picking enough cotton, you treasonous cunt.

One would hate to offend the Southern gentlemen in one’s fraternity, Parker, would one not? Some of the correspondence I’ve seen quoted between Dickinson College alumni on their way to their enemy armies is the precise equivalent of Dennis Rader sending Kenneth Landwehr a letter wishing him luck and prosperity and success in all things but investigating Sedgwick County’s serial murders. It’s revoltingly twee and amoral, and it’s unbelievably psychotic. We might as well warn the entire nation to stop yelling like a pack of wild animals before it gets kicked out of the Genesis on Western. Don’t let Mr. Sims get on your ass for that, now, or Mr. Sherman.

Accuse me of being overly class-reductionist if you like. Fat Cracka don’t mind. Every fucking thing our bougie pricks do is an advertisement to jack up the marginal tax rates. This is especially, although far from exclusively, true east of the Mississippi, excluding trash fires like upper-crust Texas. We can start at King’s and move into deeper circles of hell from there. At least King’s sells groceries and shit. It makes a po’ cracka wonder why Connecticut couldn’t be on Burnin’ Billy’s way to Georgia, but it’s the least appalling thing these assholes dig. Adirondack chairs? Raise the marginal rates. College? Raise the marginal rates. College campuses littered with Adirondack chairs? Gag me, Ghomeshi, and raise the marginal rates. Dickinson invited a WASP dipshit from LL Bean to campus to talk about how he’d had a vision of a backpack (White People) and now we were all getting backpacks (mostly white but racially mixed and integrated White People). This was one of our BETTER commencement speeches.

They expect us all to PAY for that shit. Excuse me? The bottom-line cost of full fare works out to something ridiculous like $280 per calendar day for every week that classes are in session, that sonorous but brain-dead horseshit is the Great Commission sending another round of new graduates into the world, to Engage, and you cunts still need money? PBS has several minutes straight of ads for cell phone plans, investment firms, and railroad stock at the start of the NewsHour, and it still needs money? They can’t even think up something halfway worthy, like Oscar the Grouch being flat broke and needing a five spot to get a can of Olde English and a bag of chips. They’re platforming hideous sleazeballs and ghouls, they’re paying honoraria to the most unimaginably mushheaded idiots to go up on stage and ramble at will about a grab bag of navelgazing autobiographical anecdotes and corporate mission statement bollocks, and there’s still some fucking capital or operating deficit, relative to whatever target number some shithead pulled from a hat while lusting after Swarthmore’s financials, that we, the audience, are called to plug.

Nobody with any goddamned common sense or self-respect would fall for this crap. Smithie. Damn, son. You went up there and talked to us for twenty minutes about a fucking backpack. Why the fuck do you think we all want another backpack? If that horseshit comes anywhere close to the prevailing quality of academic instruction we fucked up by not sending the kids to HACC.

Mind you, a lot of the donations to fund this brain-deadening pap are bribes. Rick Singer is in hot water for offering parents and their brats a streamlined, optimally efficient, guaranteed way to ensure that their bribes worked. They have to go to federal prison because they weren’t invited to the discount window. At the prices these fuckheads pay it had better be an investment. Liberal arts life of the mind my ass; you could always go to the fucking library. Then again, as the Insurance Schmuck told me, “I never thought of the library in terms of books.” Dickinson was one of the earliest coed institutions, so go hard and give it some thot: if somebody who said things like that, or socialized unabashedly with classmates who said things like that, told you that their bachelor’s studies were what taught them world-class writing and critical thinking skills, would you fucking believe it, or would you use your own critical thinking skills to induce a little bit of vomiting into your mouth? I never thought of the ocean in terms of water. I never thot of Carley Gomez in terms of weather reports or intersectional nerd/cheerleader/rower sex appeal. I never thought of blogs in terms of some random underemployed college boy’s opinions.

If these moronic assholes insist on asserting that they know how to spend their money better than the government does, they ought to demonstrate some bare-ass modicum of stewardship. They won’t. They’re too coddled, catered-to, and solipsistic to care. They’re atrocious stewards of their personal finances. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t donate to any of this embarrassing shit. It’s different from problem gambling, but no better. In ways it’s even worse: casino aesthetics aren’t usually so obnoxious. Look at how they spend their money. Just look at it. Does it say anything to argue against straight taking their shit and diverting it to the commonweal? What government does with these funds is mostly superfluous; its very possession of this slush pool keeps some of the most insufferable, illiberal pricks on earth from abusing it in ways that make life more expensive, cumbersome, and precarious for an entire nation of over three hundred million.

Saying that there’s anything liberal about how these timid little shitbirds act is like saying that I have to go now because Nicole Papamichael is waiting for me to come rawdog her in an unmarked NYPD shaggin’ wagon in a pullout on the Taconic State Parkway. Heh. “Pullout.” Cousin Gigolo should have tried that with more of his premenopausal girlfriends lol. At least the brat he was deadbeating from my grandmother’s condominium won’t need a fucking 529 account. They’re hopeless to raise children who are naturally, calmly secure and confident in the world. They and their snowflakes are nothing but desperate tryhards by now.

They’re bullying their professors for better grades because the whole enterprise of college is a blackmail protection racket. Nice GPA you’ve got here, Sloane; shame if something happened to it. Undergraduate grades have to be 75% meaningless, 90% at Harvard. This ain’t a check ride on the old Daylight Division to make sure we aren’t gonna Robert Sanchez this shit the moment they let us roll solo in the head end. The stakes here are totally artificial, and the proctors despise all productive sectors of the economy adhering to actual meritocratic standards, such as being qualified and safe to drive a passenger train. We’ve previously explored the prevalence of sexual quid pro quo in two-bit recreational diversions like repertory theater. Don’t believe for a second that it isn’t prevalent in American universities as well.

I know what you’re thinking: Goodness, we must not be admitting our best and brightest to medical school after all! Yup. Academic and intellectual merit were totally how we were selecting our incoming medical school classes and I’m Jonas Salk.

We’ve got a whole lot of Americans who desperately need and richly deserve to be buffaloed en masse until the market value of their degrees is as worthless as the actual value. Come to think of it, flooding their neighborhoods with public housing expressly to tank their property values is just about as ethically solid a motivation as the positive public good of placing the poor in adequate, affordable housing. These people don’t conceive of themselves as citizens; they insist to be treated as lords. They constantly demand that governments intervene to provide them with deluxe cryptoprivate goods and protect their investments, at whatever outrageous public cost might be necessary.

Their idea of politics is local enough to make Tip O’Neill lose his lunch. We took a look at the Westport town meeting bitchfest above. Why did we even ditch the Crown? Britain’s posh assholes are vile, but they’re aren’t all so self-serious. Some of them have redeeming entertainment value. BoJo is awful, but he’s fun. They aren’t all hurr durr me poor village grocer. The UK apparently does a relatively good job of keeping its rotten boroughs in check, evening out some of the funding disparities we see in the US and again abating complaints of hurr durr me village grocer.

It’s disastrous to allow neighborhoods like Westport and Bellefontaine Neighbors to incorporate as sovereign municipalities. St. Louis County’s governments are hella racist and classist, so Westport’s motives check out. This is America. We get to ringfence whatever the hell we fancy. Nobody outside Indiana has heard of UniGov. Connecticut’s wealthy municipalities won’t even follow their own state’s statutes and case law on housing.

Why is Westport? This is a serious question. Why do they allow that bullshit to exist as its own municipality? It’s on the big side for the Kavanaughs, but I’m getting some serious Chevy Chase Village Section Five vibes. This is a community that needs to be read an ultimatum: either govern yourselves in accordance with state and federal law or be so governed from without. It worked on the South, until the Union lost heart and it didn’t. It still works on the South when we try.

Tocqueville was much too earnest and credulous about American voluntarism and civic vigor. He took this regime for the Jeffersonian ideal as put to paint by Rockwell, the American norm. In reality, it was crawling with busybodies and cops even in his time, as he noted in his own published writings. In our time we’ve offered the rest of the world the HOA. Like it local, bitch? Yes you do, you filthy little pig.

Think about the humiliating debasement it takes to conform to THAT. To any of it, really: to the notion that an undergraduate college already charging seven years’ gross median household income payable on net is owed “charitable” contributions; that people should be judged witheringly by where they summer, not if (everyone summers!); that the fancy-pants town grocery needs customers to speak up on its behalf at public meetings against the intrusion of a minority population too poor to regularly shop there; that it isn’t all a flaming embarrassment.

At what point does the State of Connecticut start revoking municipal charters in response to these antics? There’s no need to directly or explicitly punish them for having shitheads as citizens; these same municipalities are in chronic, willful, material violation of state and federal law. Like, dude, you don’t get to lock kidnapped women in your basement just because you declared yourself the Independent Republic of Ariel Castro.

Yuck. I hate to smear a bus driver by comparing him to any of these. On the other hand, I don’t mind comparing them to a low-class Latin pervert. In this case Fat Cracka is much obliged.

A funny thing happened on the way to Science Friday

Sometimes the shit NPR broadcasts is just dumbfounding. Some would say that “sometimes” is too generous, but I find the quality amazingly variable, although mostly in predictable ways. Normally I’d expect to wait until late Saturday morning for NPR to fill my soul with deep existential dread. This week, it only took until 10:30 am on Friday.

The classic Millennial assertion of being literally unable to even is inarticulate, and the official consensus is that kids these days talk like that because they’re inarticulate. Maybe, however, they’re dumbfounded by a baffling, hostile society in which they’re afraid to speak their minds and might not know what to say if they weren’t.

10:30 was when the morning Forum broadcast on KQED suddenly went to hell. The first hour was devoted to the Ghost Ship fire verdicts. The first half of the second hour featured a live interview with the author of a book about street kids. The second half of the second hour, the fourth quarter, lurched gracelessly into a chat with a San Fran fashion fruit and a posh limey cunt about why Bay Area fashion is so casual.

It was completely unbelievable. It was surreal. Sometimes our thoughts transcend words; mine fell so terribly short. There was something impossibly wrong with an outwardly lucid adult hosting a radio call-in show being able to jump on schedule from a heartbreakingly serious talk about homeless teens and a killing spree that one crew of adolescent vagabonds had committed to a soulcrushingly frivolous round of gossip about what we’re all wearing. The street kids segment had explicitly covered some of the ways in which street kids are grievously neglected or abused by official institutions and adult authority figures. Mina Kim is one of the adults running this joint. What on earth, or more to the point under the earth, is a powerless young person to think of her or anyone else in league with her for being able and willing to flip her empathy on and off in accordance with the day’s broadcasting schedule? That’s some real Jekyll and Hyde shit.

Who are the grownups here? Where are they? Do they even exist? The segue was worthy of Jeffrey Epstein. Social justice? What does that got to do with pussy? Sister Christian, oh, it’s time for so much more than that. And the guys who show up at the opera and symphony galas are totally in it for the pussy. A few of them are in it for the cock or the other kind of ass, but do any of these fuckers, really, look or sound like they’re not pursuing the coarsest sorts of sexual and socioeconomic conquests? It’s true of the broads, too. The normal distributions may skew towards provider-chasing for the ladies and tail-chasing for the gents, but it’s all hideous across the board. It’s a fucking ape pit.

They carry on like this in venues I could walk to from the deep Tenderloin in five or ten minutes as long as long as I stepped in the shit and kept going. They know, at least in rough terms, how harsh life is for the little people just down the street. Most of them don’t give a damn, or, if the squalor and despair do register, consider it the proper order of things. Nob Hill Dreamboat cares, at least when he isn’t chasing his friends’ wives. Maybe, by God’s grace, he’s growing up. We’ve certainly had much worse governors. But these toffs insist on being buddies with Kamala Harris. They say nothing to rebuke her for her chilling sociopathy.

One has to wonder about the welfare of any emotionally and socially aware children they raise. Charity for one’s indigent neighbors sleeping rough in the midst of impulsive and predatory characters in the Haight? What does that got to do with pussy? For those of us who seek a higher justice or mercy, it’s a theodicial nightmare. It’s not even as understandable as the social horrors of India, where Narendra Modi has sold out as the chief guard to the Brahmins with his blustering promises to crack Dalit and Muslim skulls as necessary. The United States is an avowedly Christian nation. It’s hard to find a secular politician who doesn’t cater to Christian impulses, or at least to Christian cultural touchstones.

It sounds great, until we take a fucking look around. When the night becomes dark and we are forced to range through it, confused and frightened and alone, your love, oh Lord, is a fire. Oops. The alone part. That doesn’t fit. Or does it? Lama sabachthani, you impotent old fool?

The insincerity and hostility of the people running this country could be cut with a knife. A person would have to be narcotized not to notice. Foreign visitors are stunned when they come here. Americans are stunned when they come home. Our cities have turned into miasmas of filth, dysfunction, disrepair, paranoia, and belligerence.

While I was listening to the Forum broadcast this morning, I was also reading through an article about a tear gas canister factory in Homer City, PA, whose conditions wouldn’t have sounded the least bit out of place in Dhaka or Kinshasa. It’s a high-volume exporter to the usual strongman suspects and their guard labor, and its staff are manually mixing hazardous chemicals and pouring them into canisters one by one in a collection of shipping containers because one of the original factory buildings burned down in an industrial fire and the owners won’t rebuild. One of the owners, the third generation in a paternal lineage of weapons chemists, had an accident in the shop and ran outside with his hands on fire.

They’d hold electronica concerts in that dump if it were in Oakland. This is the filthy, flaming mess that CBP and the Border Patrol are hypervigilantly defending against Mexican day laborers and Palestinian undergraduates.

We might hope that San Francisco’s elites would show some humility and gratitude for the privilege of living off the avails of other people’s labor in a society that is so ramshackle so close to their party venues and their homes. Instead they show a nearly complete lack of moral and functional orientation in their host society. When they do give back, they do so showily, in a spirit of haughty, flippant bullshit.

The rung below them, the Donati Circle rather than the Donors’ Circle, is out of its mind in a different, more frantic way. The Bay Area housing market was vaguely sane until the early 1990’s. Then a bunch of coked-up flimflammers and mountebanks attached themselves to the tech industry. The petty booj around here are a pack of cornered wild animals now, and the housing politics are absolutely batshit insane. Too many desperate property owners have been given too much to lose.

So, yeah, let’s go on the radio and talk about how we totally own prestressed jeans. Omg. I guess this is why one of our RCIA instructors told us that “oh my God” can indeed be a prayer. It’s just that some of this shit is so bizarre and unhinged that I don’t have it in me to be that articulate. B-List public radio hosts are live on the air in a state of utter moral disorientation. It’s like when Jim Bernard and Dagmar Midcap had their live episodes of blooming gibberish on the evening news, except that there’s no neurological or psychological explanation. It isn’t grief, it isn’t old age, and it isn’t the weather.

It’s National Fuck The Public Radio. NPR used to be a platform to discuss serious matters seriously, or to chill out to some bitchin’ Beethoven. Look at it now. We have only a half hour to discuss teen homelessness because we’ve blocked off the last half hour to chitchat with a couple of useless cunts about retarded aesthetic beefs. Does one still wear gloves to Union Square, or is one Mark Zuckerberg? Shit, I’d rather bathe in the understated tradwife MILF energy of a cute, modestly beshawled choir leader than have some ditz show up at Mass in leggings, but I’m not mouthing off about it on the motherfucking talk radio.

Say, what does an urchin sleeping in her own filth on the sidewalk around a rogues’ gallery of thugs and vigilantes got to do with a middle-class church lady who ain’t showing her pussy? You can’t fund American science with a syntax so rich, but it seems worth asking. The answer is that the stewardship of this hellhole of a nation requires more presence of mind than jumping from cycles of violence among the cold homeless in the first half of the hour to some shithead whining about strangers showing up at Union Square in a shabby state of dress in the second. We don’t hear Sister Helen Prejean jumping from life, death, and theodicy to previously scheduled bitchfests about how some irreverent dipshit dared cross the threshold of I. Magnin dressed like a ragamuffin.

Forum has producers and bookers working behind the scenes to make it all come magically together, and they scheduled THAT.

This is not a leadership class that an attentive, reasonable person takes seriously. The largest NPR affiliate by audience can’t keep its flagship call-in show from turning into a gaslight adventure, or won’t. Whichever it is, all involved in that effort are a fucking joke. I’d be embarrassed to have a thing to do with that. I’m embarrassed that some of my amateur writing isn’t as tight and purposeful as it might be.

Ordinary people notice that they’re being lorded over by a bunch of phonies. Why in all hell wouldn’t the children of such an elite rebel? These aren’t just the universal human constants of adolescent development. We’re talking about a gravely sick cohort of incumbent adult leaders. There’s a huge amount of pressure that can only appropriately be called child abuse, veering into extremes that apparently were not at all prevalent in the mid twentieth century. It’s no wonder that there’s so much clinical anxiety and depression. Young people who forty or fifty years ago would have left the house at the first opportunity to get away from their abusive parents and promptly gotten living-wage jobs now face a tenuous parking spot down by the slough in rural Novato, if they’re lucky.

The aesthetics of this corruption of the national spirit, which seem at first glance too frivolous to contemplate, are actually a useful window into the horror show, as long as they’re approached with too much presence of mind for NPR. We heard about torn jeans this morning. I feel awful if I accidentally tear a barely nice pair of pants in the course of normal outdoor wear, and here we’ve got a herd of dipshits who pay top dollar for jeans that were deliberately ripped in the factory, as if they were dragged through the wrong machine. The impulse, however, makes a certain unfortunate sense. It’s a chase for authenticity in an overwhelmingly inauthentic society. That much has jack shit to do with the Bay Area. It’s a national marketing fad, an Astroturf youth fashion phenomenon that has been marketed to death for the past twenty years.

Bad actors take advantage of the inauthenticity of our elites. Some of them are themselves elites. Dave Ramsey dresses for shit to make himself look like a workaday salesman, not a transnational-level lord and master who could easily afford to lounge around all day in a hot tub full of olive oil. It’s a huge scam tell, but it works. And we’ve already looked at the fashion lines.

The blind, white-hot hatred that the homeless have been provoking is worth a deeper look. One of the premises of the street kids segment was that the 2015 murders by the vagabond spree killers in San Francisco and Marin was a turning point for hostility towards the homeless. What doesn’t check out about this is that the NIMBY hordes in the  Bay Area are unrelentingly hostile towards the peaceable homeless, too. We saw the same hysteria around the Steinle killing, which was obviously a freak accident involving an impulsive sad sack who was in no way representative of other illegal immigrants. The problem is that a cohort of the petite bourgeoisie has gotten a taste of power and is now clinging to it for dear life.

Murderers come from all walks of life. Richard Matt was employed; that’s why he had a boss to murder. David Sweat had a package of adult wipes. That’s how–just you try to stop me if you’ve heard this before–that’s how David Sweat was able to wipe the David sweat off David Sweat.

David or Goliath, we should all have facilities on demand to attend to our own inevitable sweat. Try building them for the poor in San Francisco these days, though. The dominant political faction there has become too arrogant to show any embarrassment about complaining that there are smelly bums on the loose in the Haight-Ashbury. Goodness, it boggles the mind, to have vagabonds of diminished cleanliness hanging around in that part of town.

The property owners are going to scapegoat whoever they were already dehumanizing to explain exactly the murders that would be full-hour Dateline features if they were committed by realtors. The obvious outgroup in the Bay Area is the homeless. The carrying-on about Kate Steinle as a martyr is more for the American interior. Out here on the Left Coast, we respect our Latins too much as loyal servants to call them illegals or wetbacks. Okay, to call them that in public. This is why Antonio Villaraigosa speaks Spanish, less jealously cherishing as his first language, if you can believe it, English.

Dora will be much obliged to teach your children how to speak to the gardener and the nanny. If Tony speaks English, it’s a mystery how; if they speak English, it’s a closely guarded secret.

Hoo boy, having a noble language and a separate peasant language seems not so wise. There’s a similar thing going on with English and Tagalog in the Philippines. That can’t help with the human development standards, either. For that matter, it’s eerie how uncomfortable the elites in this country are to have a native proletariat and lumpenproletariat fluent enough in English to talk back.

It’s frightening to put this puzzle together. The pieces fit too snugly.

There’s something else that’s eerie about this gushing celebration of California Casual. It’s taken me a good chunk of the afternoon to put a finger on it, but I think I’m at least close. California has turned into a grotesque, unrecognizable rat race in my lifetime. There’s still a great deal of aesthetic continuity, but many of the observable behaviors are unrecognizable. I mean shit like property-owning cops pulling fire alarms to disrupt homelessness working groups, homeowners totally flipping their shit over shelter proposals that have been through nitpicking planning processes, the obsessive badgering of children to beat their peers in school, that kind of thing.

We used to actually be mellow; now we’re just putting on a show. From the outside, the tech industry easily appears to be run with half the competence and twice the show business that prevailed in Silicon Valley in 1985. Shithead braggarts like Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and Travis Kalanick would have been utterly alien on the Peninsula in the eighties. So would fart-sniffing stuffed shirts like Reid Hoffman. Elon, lol, that’s just about a homophone with alien, lmao, and the guy fucking looks like one. Zuckerberg is another bumptious piece of shit, but he’s matured impressively from his early professional years. It’s a sad thing to have to point out, but it’s true. When that fool first showed up in the Valley he was exactly the style of wound-up, aggro bullshitter who would have failed out of the interview process at the legacy tech companies because he never took his fucking chill pills.

I swear, I don’t remember anybody who carried on like these fuckheads running around in public in the Bay Area before about 1995. They were not a cultural force. I remember some fucked-up adults on the Peninsula from my childhood, but I remember none who were fucked up like that. What we’ve got now are a bunch of incorrigible nerds insisting sucking up to their fellow dipshits on Sand Hill Road to get paid to work (“work”) as the pledgemasters of their high-end frat houses. This has to explain why the sexism and ageism have gone off the chart. A healthy industry would have sent Peter Shih off into the wilderness to get his head out of his ass the week he showed up in town.

Yeah, yeah, I’m not even 40, and here I am waxing all Remembrance of Things Past. But it’s germane. KQED has somehow held the line against these flimflammers. Mostly: it produces and airs “Masters of Scale,” Reid Hoffman’s truly execrable fart-sniffing exercise, and it speaks volumes about the audience that there is one at all for the LinkedIn dork to mutually brownnose other teachers’ pets. The rest of the front of the house, though, is culturally recognizable from San Francisco and the Peninsula thirty years ago. Michael Krasny, Michelle Henagan, Beth Huizenga (aka Beth Holland) (we really need better ethnic slurs for the Dutch), Mina Kim when she isn’t doing Jekyll-and-Hyde shit: these basically present as normal anchors from any time in the late twentieth century, not the advance-party flying saucer of the weekday afternoon shift on Capital Public Radio. We had neighbors and friends in the Bay Area who were more or less like them.

It’s refreshing and grounding in a region that is otherwise flooded with Twilight Zone monsters and freaks. I’ve never gone back to a working girl who was as screwy as Elizabeth Holmes. George Schultz gave her money and then chewed out his own grandson for trying to warn him.

These assholes just about make me miss Kenneth Fitzhugh. Blood will not tell as much as that frizzy-haired falsetto-bass bottle blonde with the Stephanie Lazarus eyes would have us believe, but it will tell us until we’ve had our fill. It will tell us, for example, that the Bay Area is heavy on extremely sick rich girls and wannabes going steady and light on honest professional women luring their men away from the charity ball circuit.

Roming charges

The people who run the Bay Area do not live in it. There is no way that they live in our world. The only explanation for what they have allowed–nay, encouraged–to happen to the region is that they are transcendentally alienated from the circumstances that the rest of us, whether living there or visiting or just passing through, must endure.

To varying extents this is a national problem. Allowing the top few strata of American society to retreat into a full-time residency in the Land of Make-Believe and batten down the hatches against all humbling influences from the real world looming around them has, sure enough, had disastrous effects on the remaining 80-95%. The 99%-vs.-1% framing is good politics, and this country has degenerated into such a smoldering shit show that I no longer have it in me to pedantically object to it as a miscategorization, but descriptively, it does not explain our common nightmare or the balances of political and cultural power allowing this country to turn into such a hell on earth for ordinary Americans. It’s a lot more than 1% of the American public, and especially the electorate, that is invested in the maintenance of this hellscape.

Christopher Lasch was right to rue the secession of the American elites from their communities and our society. He got overly hung up on sex and, from what I recall, presented a muddled critique of the yuppies’ broader renunciation of their traditional social and civic obligations, a deeper, more comprehensive moral failing that does much to explain the widespread, catastrophic failures of both private charity and public provision for the commonweal in recent decades. His general point, however, was sound. If we think back on, say, the “midlife crises” that were so trendy around the time Lasch was writing, we can easily discern an alarming descent into immature, impulsive, irresponsible, selfish behavior on the part of affluent professionals with significant and growing power, a second- or third-tier elite culture headed nowhere good. If all these burned-out sellouts are taking their new mistresses for a spin down PCH in their new droptops, who the hell is going to stick around to keep the home fires burning? Who is going to visit the homebound, the homeless, or the incarcerated? Who is going to maintain the infrastructure? And where’s the money coming from to pay for the frivolous recreational shit?

Be not surprised that those asking these questions often did not include the Boomers. Not coincidentally, the last US President to govern with a sincere, meaningful Christian sensibility was Jimmy Carter. Clinton, Bush II, and Obama made a variety of weak overtures, mostly phony, to Christian charity and stewardship as governing principles. Both Bushes liked to strategically thump the Bible, and W, the insecure daddy’s boy, made a show of believing in it. Reagan did not and Trump does not live in the real world. Although politically astute and good at reading all sorts of crowds, both entered their seventies in a dementing fantasia worthy of Michael Jackson, assuming that Wacko Jacko had no idea where he’d put his car keys or where he was. Their own spiritual inclinations–Reagan being a functional agnostic remarried to a woman transfixed enough by astrology to join the Burmese Junta, Trump being a wretched lecher of no apparent spiritual or even interpersonal inclinations at all–have been irrelevant, swamped by the vicious, punitive, selfish form of “Christianity” that their advisors practice.

The astounding dystopia that has settled in on the Bay Area, then, did not crash in out of the blue. The political vocabulary to explain it is feeble, since the Bay Area has been supermajority Democratic for most of living memory, since times when urban Southern California was strongly Republican. Absolutely anything that some elected ghoul proposes around here, no matter how vicious and reactionary, has shitlib normies lining up to insist that it’s liberal and therefore good. Every reactionary political impulse has been channeled into the Democratic Party. The biggest reliably Republican city left in the entire state is Bakersfield. South Orange County and San Diego are shifting Democratic, although moderate and liberal Republicans have maintained their staying power in local offices.

The political realignment that has been underway in California since Pete Wilson’s retirement from the governorship is an important, overlooked context for the state’s further descent into third-world squalor and dysfunction. To be blunt, the nerds’ consensus is that Kamala Harris is hard to the left of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kevin Faulconer. They’re off their fucking rockers. Harris is a Wilson-Deukmejian Republican, and that’s at her leftmost. The charm that she famously exudes around the smart set in Pacific Heights speaks perhaps less to her charm than to their terrible taste and judgment, but we’re talking about heiresses and shit here; prevailing community standards mean that they’re doing all right if they’re more ambulatory and coherent than Amy Winehouse, same as in the Tenderloin.

We cannot trust what Bay Area voters report about their own political values and impulses. This shit is the Bradley Effect on steroids. Even the original Bradley Effect inevitably elided the class interests of secret Republican voters into their abashed racial squeamishness. Bradley had moderate left-liberal leanings when he ran to unseat George Deukmejian, a hardline Republican. If Harris gets the nomination (#TeshTips: that ain’t happening), she’ll be a hardline DINO reactionary running against a Republican incumbent with a juvenile but enthusiastic interest in industrial policy. She’ll be running from the right, but what the hell else is new? We’ve seen that movie before.

Here’s a really crass way to look at it: there’s a segment of white voters who will vote for a black candidate for statewide or national office as long as that candidate is a mulatto slaver or CIA brat. I’m past the point of giving a rat’s ass that I may have offended any of these virtue-signaling pieces of shit. Why did Mocha Haole bring the loudmouth who’d publicly called him “articulate” on as his veep? Because Joseph Rubbinatte Bottom was a white supremacist. Da community organizer kine is vain, but he ain’t dumb. Don’tcha fuckin’ know, we’ve got a huge pile of bougies who can’t imagine that Obama ever did a conservative or reactionary thing, either. This is true nationally, and certainly in California’s ritzy hills. And Joan Didion’s Dukakis-era anecdotes from Monterey aside, this state’s nominal left has proven itself time and time again to be too transfixed or scared self-interested to take the plunge for a radical muckraker like Jesse Jackson, regardless of his race.

So here we all are, dancing in the gaslight. Get the Van on, and get in the van, for crackas do, in fact, be very uptight. This could be a Wesley Willis single, but really, Wesley was never crazy enough to keep up with these idiots. He understood, on some level, that yelling about kicking Batman’s ass was not going to get him invited back into the Genesis on Western. Being halfway oriented in the real world and understanding consequences put him ahead of this crowd, and it took florid psychosis to put him back behind.

Speaking of van, lol, and I mean that as in down by the river, what prompted me to write this time was the shock of seeing hundreds of ramshackle RV’s and lived-in cars parked corner to corner for blocks on end in South Oakland. I took Amtrak to the Coliseum on Sunday night, Labor Day Eve, and I saw miles of that shit.

This is not normal. If it is normal, we have damned ourselves.

Keep in mind that I was not coming in from a hometown that did not have homelessness or had banished its homeless to, gee, I dunno, Oakland. There are visibly cold homeless people downtown and around the JC in Santa Rosa. There’s an established #VanLife parking strip for the involuntarily vanbound on the frontage road between Airport Boulevard and 101, between Starbucks and the trailer park. I’m familiar with the dust bunny-like sweeping of tent encampments from the American River greenbelt to lower Garden Highway to the UP right of way in North Highlands. I’ve been out on foot in the Castro, the Tenderloin, and the ass end of the Mission.

The scene in Oakland somehow felt much worse. If nothing else, it was a deviation in the wrong direction from an already terrible regional baseline. There’s a handful of rundown RV’s, SUV’s, and the like that park along the waterfront in rural Novato, next to the SMART tracks, and it’s always haunted me whenever I’ve looked at it because it seems to say something really bad about what East Marin has become. A cluster of cities so prosperous and mellow shouldn’t end up with that. On the other hand, it isn’t a repulsively awful place to camp out. Similarly, nobody should have to live in an RV next to the Stanford campus on El Camino to get by, but the overall atmosphere of the neighborhood is quite nice.

The Oakland parking strips that I saw from the train were strung out through some of the filthiest, roughest parts of town. Nobody fucking chooses to live like that, surrounded by carpets of trash in an industrial zone with God knows who for neighbors lurking around in the shadows. The libertarian spergs who act like these people are making rational decisions in response to economic incentives don’t factor in the all but certain fact that these homeless are living in unreliable vehicles that they are too indigent to repair, replace, or gas up to drive somewhere nice up in the hills or over at the beach for the night. It’s like saying that agreeing to have a street dealer and his buddy run a train on one’s ass for a single spoon of black tar while convulsively jonesing for a hit is a personal economic choice in the same fashion as doing rub-and-tugs for $150 an hour to pay down the mortgage while housed and basically sober.

The middle and upper classes have to see this squalor. Do they never drive on the Nimitz? Do they have no friends who use the Nimitz or the Dublin-Pleasanton line or Amtrak? There was a car encampment on the frontage road right in front of a nice Best Western where my parents and I stayed a year or two ago, just across the channel from Alameda. Alameda is prosperous and happening. This shit isn’t festering on the outskirts  of Fresno. It’s along a heavily trafficked multimodal corridor in the inner city.

I think about protestations from neighbors in Nazi Germany that they had no inkling of the camps. I don’t perceive awfully much thought around the near North Bay about San Quentin, for that matter. In South Oakland we’ve got two passenger rail lines and a major freeway running past appalling squalor where hundreds of people are obviously living. What the fuck are we going to say about it? That it is what it is? MRSA is what it is; care to try cipro, or do you care to die?

It’s worth discussing the territory that Amtrak traverses in the ten miles and fifteen to thirty minutes on the way to the Oakland Coliseum from points north. The contrast is shocking. The station before the Coliseum is Jack London, a relatively new (25 years old or so) urban renewal station in Jack London Square, Oakland’s version of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The station before that is Emeryville, one of the smallest incorporated cities in the Bay Area and a glaringly rotten borough. I’ve looked at maps of the city limits, and it’s obvious that Emeryville is a special economic zone with a city government. The state and the county allowed a bunch of Chamber of Commerce types to ring-fence a business district, gentrify it, and hog the profits. A healthy society would either claw back the tax receipts at least to the county level or dissolve the city government and annex it into a legitimate municipality.

Jack London Square and Emeryville are both painfully fake. There’s an aura of politics around Amtrak’s maintenance of full-service termini at both locations, which are three miles apart and a number of blocks away from the BART system. It has the feel of a weird separate-but-equal setup, Oakland for the blacks and Emeryville for the rest, but feel free to take your pick, Dolezal, as this is a free country. That’s exactly the ridiculous bullshit we can expect from neoliberal identity politics: redundant long-distance passenger rail termini both in two strategically gentrified neighborhoods carefully scrubbed of the actual culture to which they cutely refer in sanitized marketing terms. The owners don’t want any of Jack London’s gritty socialism any more than they want working fish markets, wharves, or Indian shell mounds.

Or, for that matter, the negroes. They’re cool with bougie blacks, and they very much want to facilitate the flow of the black servant class to and from these recreational districts, along with the wetbacks and other beaners. Oh, am I not to talk like that? And do tell me, are you from Piedmont? It’s easy to take potshots at virtue-signalers, but there really is a problem with condescending assholes calling down from their 90% white/Asian neighborhoods with solidly six-figure median incomes to scold the proles for speaking in rudely communal terms of the help.

This is another way, as predictably bleak as any other, to explain Kamala Harris. It’s a bunch of Karens, and in this case I mean the White ethnic majority, not the Asian ethnic minority, assuming my maternal grandmother’s position that a guest in their house dare not speak ill of their workman. They lives here; can they come in? By “here,” of course, they mean California, or all of America.

The very existence of the hell-on-wheels shantytowns that I passed on the train the other night proves that these scolds do not care about the human dignity of their neighbors. If one is one’s brother’s keeper, one does not keep him like that. These huge sacrifice zones continue to fester with no resolution in sight, and meanwhile the cultural thrust of the nominal left wing in American partisan politics is to ensure that we do not use our words to hurt one another. Why wouldn’t they act like schoolmarms and treat us like wayward children? It makes me miss J. Denny Dundiddly, who, as bad as he was, didn’t laugh manically about his slave holdings and protest that the courts were trying to take them away, to liberty.

These fuckers can’t even be arsed to care about their free domestics. Look at how Uber and Lyft drivers live. Around San Francisco, it’s often in their cars. Their customers expect to be waited on hand and foot, 24/7 at their command, and to hear not a whisper  from their servants about their inability to meet their own material needs. It’s a version of Downton Abbey where there is no downstairs and servants are fired on a whim for complaining that they live in crude stick shacks out in the forest. The urban elites in the United States expect the poor to assemble, dutifully and meekly, at the palace gates and await their assignments without complaint. These same elites flip their shit if they have to wait five minutes for an Uber.

Let us return to the Wesleyan tradition. Get on the bus. On second thought, I’ll rephrase that: get on the fucking bus. Shit, BART will do. These assholes need to start living like normal Americans, for our benefit as a society. We can’t just keep allowing them to secede and take all their money and power with them.

And how the fuck do they keep insisting that some horseshit “economic development” like Jack London Square is the rising tide that lifts all boats? That’s every bit as out-of-touch as the Nomenklatura spending the eighties insisting that the economic state of the USSR was unbreakably strong. Take a fucking look around, you shitbucket. Does this look like prosperity?

Every statistic I’ve seen or heard of indicates that the median household living in car encampments like the ones I saw in South Oakland has one or two gainfully employed members. This is the currently employed working class, not an unemployed underclass. The latter is more like what we see on the streets in San Francisco, without street-legal wheels.

How goddamned selfish and nihilistic does a person–and we’ve got communities full of these people–have to be to continue to care about property values when this is how their neighbors live three or five miles away? These are double-income households bitching about this shit. Maria Teresa Donati, the SFPD cop who pulled the fire alarm to disrupt the homelessness working group at the Pacifica City Hall, is married to another SFPD cop. Donati has been pulling in $180k a year as a sergeant, in addition to whatever her spouse makes and any investment income they receive. She’s hotter than Stephanie Lazarus, but at least I’d be able to count on Steph to go down to Donovan and teach the Menendez brothers something besides fucking chess.

Think about this, too: Tessa got that riled up as a resident of one of the most affordable cities on the Peninsula. I lives here; can I come in? She’d flip her shit if she saw a bum trying to get squatter’s rights on the lawn in front of City Hall. Meanwhile, current LAPD sworn staff are wilding on the homeless out in the Valley, facilitated by Facebook. I recall news items about this kind of electronically-catalyzed violence from Sri Lanka.

We’re getting attacked by our own domestic warrior caste. Cool shit. Good stuff, Boris. It’s our version of a samurai insurrection. It’s just swell that nations can contract autoimmune disorders.

The Ghost Ship seems less and less indefensible. Slums in the Third World have shown for centuries that strong family and communal ties can modestly alleviate the adverse effects of poverty and squalor. The Ghost Ship apparently had something of an internal community, notwithstanding whatever All-American schizoid and avoidant behaviors the residents brought with them from their proudly invidivualistic lives. I can’t judge them as harshly for living in those condiitons now as I could on Sunday afternoon, now that I’ve had a look at the alternatives on the way to the Coliseum. And why, yes, I suppose Oakland WOULD have one. In our imperial times, why not? The Ghost Ship might have been safer than the streets, until it wasn’t.

I still can judge Oakland, San Francisco, and America. We’re failing. I’d sooner classify what I saw on Sunday night as Manila or Lagos or New Georgia Signboard than as Oslo, Lisbon, Moscow, or even Santiago. The poor in Oakland are forced to choose between the stochastic risk of a warehouse fire on the one hand and the stochastic risk of street crime and the police, if I may repeat myself, on the other. I still don’t grok why Oscar Grant’s death was a major triggering event and Celeste Guap’s serial rape and sexual assault under duress by much worse cops than Johannes Mehserle was not. Then again, poor minority communities in the East Bay aren’t the only ones to be overcome with muddled thinking in the midst of a panic. Witness Sgt. Donati, for the Italians are white now.

Okay, in San Francisco they have always been white. Whaddaya think a Milanese fella is, a chink? They founded the Bank of America, for God’s sake. Italy had hardly even heard of itself and they founded the B of A.

If you don’t like my language from your perch at the top of Divisadero, feel free to suck on BofA deez.

Chrisley No-Nos

The Chrisleys are under indictment for white-collar crime now, specifically tax evasion and loan fraud. If you’ve got a life, this news may raise questions, such as who the fuck are the Chrisleys. They’re a family of reality television dipshits from Georgia. I was aware of them because they regularly displace my beloved Informative Murder Porn on USA. #CharactersWelcome, but I couldn’t have named any of them. The indictments name the patriarch and matriarch as Todd and Julie Chrisley, which is about what I’d expect from the Deep South Wasp Nest.

The Chrisleys’ show, Chrisley Knows Best, operates on the premises that the Chrisleys are moneyed and classy and that their paterfamilias is straight. Julie is interchangeable with any other Alpharetta Panera mom; if I’d run into her on the street I can’t imagine that I’d have recognized her, even dimly. Todd is a different story. He has one of the most unmistakably fabulous faces in the land; add the Georgia drawl and subtract the Western twang and truly the gentleman is fully possessed of the rude heterosexuality of Larry Craig. *Publicly taking the wide stance* I’d like to thank you all for–coming out–today.

The broader reason why these dipshits are on the boob tube, one usually left implicit, is that they are the best of the New South. This is about what I’d expect an Alpharettan to believe. Gone with the wind are the Klan mobs committing unspeakable atrocities against the local color and reconvening on Stone Mountain to protest that they dindu nuffin; here to stay is a wholesome postmodern economy revolving around some of the crassest exurban mini-estate mansions on earth and propped up behind the scenes by–why, goodness, O’Hara, you had no need to ask. I’ll answer regardless: probably by brown people chasing the dream of not getting fatally struck by their richer motoring neighbors on the Buford Highway.

This is the Deep South, so of course it could be worse. The Chrisleys aren’t too bad by historically prevailing community standards, or, God help us, by many current standards. It’s just like they say about sex in Maine: it’s all relatives. *Brashest Donald Trump Voice* What the hell? I’m not into Tiffany, just Ivanka. Her tits are YUGE.

It turns out that the Chrisleys’ personal finances are sketchy enough for the Trump Administration. Like Our President (Nothing But Respect), they’ve decided to fake it until they make it. The difference is that they got majorly tripped up and jammed up, not just minorly like the Oaf of Office. They physically cut and pasted forged financial documents for loan and lease applications, turning a zero-balance account into over $400k and another account overdrafted by $14,530.89 into over $86,790.86 in the black. In other false application materials, they embellished their 500-range credit scores into the 700-800 range.

There’s something awesome about a famously affluent couple maintaining credit scores in the 500’s and bank balances in the negative tens of thousands. It just feels like that takes effort and talent. They’re on TV for being loaded, and meanwhile their personal finances are what one would expect of a destitute Uber driver living out of his car on an industrial frontage road down by the airport. You know what they say in those parts: you can’t even go to hell without changing in Atlanta.

Those two are objectively useless to society, but at the same time they obviously have a certain talent in being performative dipshits, one that I thankfully lack. Meanwhile, I have no running debt month to month and a credit score hundreds of points higher than theirs, and I’m on a fucking allowance from my parents.

I can’t help but wonder what their bosses at USA are NOT doing for them. It’s wrong for the studios to let their talent fall into such circumstances. I have to assume that the Chrisleys are a serious revenue stream for USA. I don’t know how many times that stream has to be divided to keep all the cast, crew, and so forth on payroll, but it’s safe to assume that there are people living large off the avails of this particular production at the top. Why the fuck, then, are their stars more than ten grand in the red on bank overdraft fees with their credit scores in the shitter?

Fuck off away from here with the shitbagger Dave Ramsey-ass budget scolding about personal responsibility and all that shit. The Chrisleys are major cable talent, not downwardly mobile youth ministers. Seriously, get fucked with any gloss that doesn’t put their studio and its bosses in a position of unambiguous fiduciary responsibility to make sure that this family, its TV stars, are basically solvent and safe. The entire fucking premise of their dumbass show is that they do not live within a normal workaday family’s means. If any of this had anything to do with the cosmic fairness of whose debts get waived and whose do not, these clowns would not be on TV. The whole point is that they enjoy a life of ease and privilege that the audience does not. That’s why there’s a fucking show about them.

It’s basically a family values Vanderpump Rules, and of course we’re talking about a very shallow Protestant understanding of family values. We enjoy adult beverages responsibly, lawfully, and bashfully. Or something like that. I boycott that shit too thoroughly to comment authoritatively on its relationship to alcohol specifically, but the contemporary worship nondenominational Dixie heartland smarm of the entire project is unmistakable. To take a stab at summarizing the worldview in a word, it’s immature. They have drama, but it’s subdued into G-rated anodyne territory, and they do not seem to have what much of what ordinary people would call problems. This is where Vanderpump Rules shines by being honest, a grotesque tableau of severe mood and personality disorders. Nickelback, for that matter, offers worthwhile windows into the mindset of nostalgic ex-convicts grappling with mortality, the ebb and flow of good times and bad, and when possible banging a good bitch in the shower. Please, do show up in my mentions with your complaints that Chad and the gang are disgracing the sacred Canadian songbook by upstaging BTO.

Something’s gotta go wrong for our sweet Georgia ditzforce, and indeed it has. Are we surprised that these, of all characters, were irresponsible with money? They were useless dipshits trying to keep up with the neighborhood orthopedic surgeons (what’s YOUR price for flight?), all the while egged on by rich studio shysters. There’s no need to be from Gary to do some good Wacko Jacko household budgeting. I mean, I guess it helps, but the Chrisleys almost make it seem superfluous.

This is show business. One of the oldest tricks in the book is for some back-of-the-house shyster to take over an ignorant star who doesn’t know any better and walk away with the entire store. This is why there are so many rags-to-riches-to-rags tragedies in professional sports. It isn’t the only reason, but it’s a serious problem, and it’s galling. The Chrisleys have spent seven seasons in production as TV stars for a major cable network, as the centerpieces of a show celebrating their breezy New South affluence, and the company wouldn’t even cover their fucking bank overdraft fees. USA wouldn’t even front a grand or two to backstop them against less than $15k in what the bank might call terms and conditions but you and I might call usury.

I’m surprised to hear about this, but I’m not scandalized. To be scandalized I’d have to have assumed that the Chrisleys worked for upstanding bosses, decent people with their best interests at heart. In that business? If that’s how this stuff works, I have to go now, because Ashley Kavanaugh is on her way over to my apartment for our booty call.

The real scandal here, because some of us still expect against all hope for the FIRE sector to have some professional standards, is that the Chrisleys successfully bamboozled bank officers and a high-end landlord with provable lies. Are we taking word from aspiring tenants that they have $486,000 in liquid collateral on the honor system now? Funny that those two had less than a $1,000 margin over the collateral demand in that account, i.e., not one thin dime. They could get their next credit line by banking with Benson, and cracka I do not mean Olivia. We must not be double-checking with the credit reporting agencies, either, just to confirm that what the applicants disclose is vaguely recognizable in their credit history. Why the fuck do we even maintain the databases if the only workaround applicants need to try is to just make a number up because it sounds good? Wha, whaddaya mean I got an F in bench chem? I got an A!

This is completely unacceptable dereliction of duty in banking. Bank officers have to do due diligence on loan applicants. If they don’t, they’ll crash the global economy again. Letting banks take mulligans on liar loans is like giving a Parkinsonian geezer a commercial pilot’s license for suggesting that he’ll Harrison Ford his 737 into the nearest competing carrier’s 737 on short final to his assigned taxiway. We can’t keep letting the reckless cokeheads who run our banks do whatever the hell they please and then use national treasuries as their ex post facto insurance policies. We will, all but certainly, but we can’t.

Nobody involved in this mess ever learned the lessons of the Great Depressions. They learned nothing from our still ongoing Second Great Depression. As always, recession my fat white ass; there is still a huge amount of needless pain on the ground precisely because the go-go asshats refuse to learn and be humble. They learned nothing from the first Great Depression. This still floors me. I had two grandmothers who lived through it, give or take as teenagers. They and their families never had it as hard as the worst afflicted, not by a long shot, but they knew how lucky they had been. The idea of letting a rabble of well-groomed, smooth-talking cokeheads forget the Great Depression on behalf of the entire West is beyond me. It stuns me that these reckless shitheads started forgetting it while the depression’s survivors were still alive and lucid. A healthy community would have kicked the shit out of them for carrying on as they did so soon after such global socioeconomic trauma.

The Chrisleys look bad in the narrow context of Fourth Turning excess. People should not live like that, and they should not be so proud of themselves for doing so. All the same, the Chrisleys were far from alone in their excess, and they had the particular mitigating factor in their favor of being egged on to no end by the studio shysters stage-managing their lives. It’s crucial to follow the rot to the head of the fish and see just how high it goes. Sure enough, this one isn’t rotting from the tail.

The Chrisleys have every incentive not to live modestly. If they lived modestly they’d be out of work. It’s even worse for them than it is for the average exurban Deep Southern social climber. There are serviceably modest houses in Georgia. Many ordinary Georgians live in them. There was an abandoned apartment complex on the “Who the Hell is Whitehead?” Episode of The First 48. We’d be better off asking who the hell is White People, and why the hell they think it’s beneath them to live in the existing housing stock.

Part of the answer, I dare say, is television, and again, I dare say I’m not watching the worst of it.

Television is not a business that takes care of its talent. Matt Lauer’s rape button speaks volumes about what stars are allowed to do when left to their own devices. A small handful of front-of-the-house diva thugs claw their way to supreme sexual authority over all that they survey, while their colleagues and subordinates are forced to submit to their whims, plus those of the back-office shysters. Matt got shitcanned in the end. So did Cali Desimone. In her case it was just for being a slut after hours.

I can’t believe I know people who know some of these other people.

There are really no behavioral standards in that business. The morals clauses are a fig leaf. Whom the rules bind and do not bind, protect and do not protect, is thoroughly arbitrary and capricious. Are we seriously to believe that Charlie Rose, endearingly pompous at best, was not known around the studios also to be creepy and weird? John Hornenberry managed to graciously retire before his name was dragged through the mud, tarred by his own electronic record; Tom Assbrush, not so much. We might say that little Charlie reliably rose. No, I am not here to get Charlie off. CHAHLEE!

We might hope for USA to make some effort to determine that its stars are basically reputable before putting them in front of the cameras, to keep a benevolent paternalistic eye on their general behavior and demeanor, and to offer them some measure of the guidance that might keep them from making asses of themselves and getting into major jams. Or we might not expect anything so responsible. We now see why. The shysters managing the Chrisleys didn’t even keep their household finances legal. They damn well know how to set up lawful trusts. They know which accountants and tax attorneys to call. The Chrisleys might not, but there’s no way they don’t report, somewhere up the chain of command, to bigshots who do.

This is worth mentioning because the Chrisleys tried to hide income and assets from the IRS clumsily enough to leave paper and electronic trails. That ain’t how you do the off-the-books cash flow, boy. It figures that they’d be too flashy for cash and a handshake, though. Just look at them. Him, especially.

As A-List cable talent (B-List at the lowest, I’d guess), the Chrisleys should have been able to secure Kato Institute residencies at their industry contacts’ mansions instead of cut-and-paste lying to landlords on rental applications for getaway houses. It says something about how disposable they are that they instead got into landlord-tenant disputes because they were secretly broke as fuck.

This is the one matter in which I find them completely sympathetic. Landlords have class solidarity. So should tenants. Todd and Julie seem rather too inept and easygoing to function as slumlords without contracting out all their wet work. On the other hand, they’re admirable enough as tenants just for not folding at the first challenge from a landlord. One of the ways they were breathlessly reported to have gotten into trouble was by not paying a month’s rent on time on their California pad and being threatened with eviction proceedings.

The landlord who approved their liars’ application THREATENED an unlawful detainer action? Mercy. Knock me over with a feather. We’re larding the indictment with unfulfilled threats of civil action in landlord-tenant civil action now, are we? Great. And why am I not surprised to learn that the California disputes arose in that other Southland? I was off by one county in one of these cases; I assumed Dana Point or so, and the first return I got in a quick search was for what Dr. Rudkin called “the undervaccinated community of Pacific Palisades.”

Whoever was foolish enough to rent these dipshits high-end real estate without doing due diligence had it fucking coming. Maybe a honky ought to confirm the account balance directly from the bank next time.

To be absolutely clear, I don’t trust landlords in general. I’ve known more good cops than good landlords, and God knows I’ve known some demonic cops. If you’d rented the fringe tweaker ghetto deathtrap in Eureka that I did and done business with the creeps who furnished it (fuck you, too, Trutna), you might not trust landlords, either. They’re asking for even less respect if they won’t even do their fucking jobs as they describe them–you know, credibly ascertaining that applicants meet rental criteria, that kind of boring shit.

Quick, fetch me the tiniest possible violin and the microfilm sheet music to go with it–“Ashokan Farewell” and any of the classical Ave Maria arrangements should do just fine–that I might properly serenade these assholes in their time of grief. If landlords who don’t know shit from Shinola about their own business aren’t to get sued by poor tenants for egregious wrongs, at least they can get tied up in legal negotiations with notionally rich tenants over rent disputes that they could have prevented by writing to the goddamned bank.

The upstanding thing about the Chrisleys–and there is not much else upstanding about them–is that they’re rich enough not to just get tossed out onto the curb like so much weight in garbage over a single month’s late rent. Whether they can afford to pay their lawyers’ fees is their business, and their lawyers’. Some lawyers sue their own clients for delinquent legal costs; others are just gratified to fuck adverse parties up. Money goes far in the law, but so, sometimes, does love. (Did I mention that lawyers know how to drink? It is because they are admitted to the bar.)

Tenants not being able to make rent is a fact of business for landlords. They complain about it even though they choose not to pursue more honest lines of work, and they pretend that they never did a thing to contribute to the social problems that wash up into their residential portfolios, including the indigence of their tenants. *Booming Black Lorax Voice* Just like I said: the rent is too damn high.

In fact, every civilization on earth that has not recently been granted a debt jubilee is lubricated by debt and debt forbearance arrangements, formal and informal, without which the workings of civilization grind to a halt. It’s conceivable that this doesn’t apply so much to strict communist societies, but even that much is questionable. Every goddamn time, some elite shows up and squeezes the poor for every penny they’ll yield. It’s easier than working for a living; ask Al Gore. Waka waka hey hey, 12:30 flight of damnation inbound to NBO, mate.

It do be time.

If the Chrisleys are the incarnation it takes to demonstrate this timeless truth to their snooty, easily aggravated landlords, so be it. I’m down with that. They’re far from perfect, but the perfect is the enemy of the good. In a way, rich parasites getting burned by other rich parasites is more ethical than the alternatives, which risk harm to the poor. There’s a certain crisp economical neatness to it, like a village where everybody makes a living taking in his neighbor’s laundry, minus the possibility that any of these lazy pieces of shit would willingly do laundry.

Any of you care to bet me that any of these cases HAS set foot in a laundromat?

This still doesn’t explain why the Chrisleys need so many mansions. In the course of doing some casual reading in the midst of my formal shitposting, I have so far come across three states where they have owned or rented real estate: Georgia, California, and Tennessee, the last being the base for their tax evasion scam. I was astonished to read that their main mansion in “Atlanta,” for whatever that’s worth (Who the hell is white boy?), measures 30,000 square feet. For some reason I’d assumed a range of 5,000-7,000. I knew there were ostentatiously landed postagrarian gentry in the urban South, but sweet Nero with a fiddle, the fuck is that? An uncle of ours, depending on who we’re counting as us, tries to fill the ennui of his life by buying midmarket consumer goods at full price, on installment as necessary, and then selling them at a discount on Facebook when he becomes desperate enough for accounts receivable. Are the Chrisleys doing that, but with megamansions?

To find an answer, we must peer into the abyss of the postmodern Degeneris, E., of the Chrisley project. The Chrisleys are famous for being rich, and they’re theoretically rich for being famous, except for the inconvenient truth (hey!) of their surely having a negative net worth. (Sound like any Presidents Elect circa 2016?) The whole point of their show is that they have all this real estate and other swag and bling. They aren’t on TV for being an electrical lineman and an LPN raising their family in a shotgun shack. That kind of shit about being useful to society and living with some modesty would be a huge buzzkill.

To play rich, they have to look rich. The Donald gets this, same as the Chrisleys do. He’s been notorious for decades for scams more vicious than any the Chrisleys have ever been exposed running, but for various reasons (NBC, etc.) the rap never really stuck. Thing is, the Chrisleys are serious TV talent, and their mansions are their set. Why should they be on the hook to pay for their real estate? NBC doesn’t send Mariska Hargitay its set and costume bills.

This arrangement between the Chrisleys and USA sounds rather like driving for Uber, but for being rich and famous. The legacy networks and studios know better than to try to screw over SAG members, but every shyster in the business lusts for opportunities to find wannabes who are willing to “invest in themselves” by absorbing their studios’ externalized production costs. I don’t know that this is what’s happening in this case, or what portion of the Chrisleys’ real estate rentals and holdings it covers, but it sure fits the bill. Mariska Hargitay is a second-generation A-List Hollywood aristocrat. Todd Chrisley? Who the fuck is that fruit? Sounds like the kind of wide-eyed n00b the industry would exploit.

The Chrisleys aren’t just tenants, then; they’re also workers. They’re shitty role models, but why else do you suppose they were put on TV? This is a country whose armed forces ran secret Tuskegee-style chemical weapons experiments on unaware civilian populations at the Pruitt-Igoe Towers. Then we decided as a nation that public housing doesn’t work. The Chrisleys have endured a different, more comfortable housing crisis of their own, but the point isn’t that they have it so hard in absolute terms; it’s that even they are treated like disposable proles and expected to carry their own debts without complaint even though they play rich fucks on the tube for a living.

USA could have prevented this scandal for its idea of chump change by paying for accountants to do their taxes and wiring them extra money to cover their impulse purchases, because, again, the point was never for these assholes to live within a normal person’s means. The network could have made sure that shit was not haywire behind the scenes, no matter the stage-managed clusterfucks that they were airing from episode to episode. It chose to let them sink or swim, they sank, and now they’re making their network look bad for doing business with them.

According to the indictment, the Chrisleys went four years in a row without filing federal tax returns or paying the income taxes they owed in a timely fashion. (The language in the indictment is a bit sloppy, but this is the same organization that employs Andrew Lelling.) It’s outrageous for private citizens to pull that shit, although not as unusual as we might hope. These are TV stars. Did USA have any fucking clue about their character or how they did business? It kept greenlighting their dumbass show for season after season, and meanwhile they weren’t even filing their taxes.

It knows a thing or two about them now. God willing, and Caesar’s courts, the Bureau of Prisons will not. Just imagine either of them being initiated into a fucking federal prison over this penny-ante horseshit. Put them on the tier with the Rick Singer college admissions parents of their sex. *Most Infelicitous Huffman Voice* Ruh-roh! Have Rod Blagojevich teach that fey twerp how to scrub pots, or file his fucking 1040.

Wow Much redemption Such shawshank. What a damned mess. We could just shunt these losers into vocational training programs and then onto wraparound public assistance if the training doesn’t take, but that would mean respecting the work ethic. That would mean respecting efficiency in government sufficiently to allow government to efficiently take care of our most inefficient. This is America. Todd and Julie Chrisley are our fellow Americans.

We might as well go ahead and naturalize erstwhile Florida Woman Melissa Ann Shepard for what those two are worth to us. Sweet Melissa of the Maritimes knows how to brew a pot of coffee, and she gave speeches in exchange for her government grant to talk about being a battered spouse. Around here, that’s the kind of thing that passes for work.

Why B’More when you can B’Less?

Donald Trump doesn’t have to convince me that Lexington Market is a shithole; I’ve changed trains there. There’s no need to bring all your limbs; just come as you are, however much of you is left.

Lexington Market is not Donald Trump’s scene. If I had to put money on it, I’d say that he has not heard of it and has no idea what or where it is. The only reason Baltimore crossed his mind at all, of course (or maybe more his Twitter staff’s mind?), is that he got into one of his shitposting beefs with a senior member of Congress who represents Baltimore and felt like blaming him solely, rather than any assigning joint blame to any of Baltimore’s severe structural problems, for the city’s troubles. It’s absolute bullshit; however Elijah Cummings has failed his district, there’s something to be said for such a troubled district in particular sticking with a high-seniority representative who can more easily deliver the goods. Trump doesn’t give a damn about that, either, and he may well not have a fucking clue about it in the first place.

In terms of Great Men responsibility, Cummings beats the shit out of Trump in this spat. There’s no contest; it’s a reasonably diligent regional elected official who cares about his constituents enough to do become familiar with some of their grievances at a granular level and do the yeoman’s work of representing them versus an incorrigible shrieking dipshit with a revolving tableau of personal beefs. All the same, Trump is a natural showman, and once again he succeeded in his project to own the libs. Cummings was just the explicit target of this screed. He and just about anybody else from Baltimore City is able to refute and denounce Trump’s bullshit in a spirit of sincere disgust. This is not the case for the Democratic Party’s target base of squeamish suburban shitlibs. Trump’s coup in his beef with Cummings was in getting a chorus of hypocrites to angrily defend the honor of a city that they quietly dislike and fear. He tossed out catnip for the race and class hypocrites, and they tied themselves in knots grasping at it.

The Donald surely knows John Dennis Diddly about Baltimore’s economy, sociology, or history. Some of his aides may be more familiar with it; Stephen Miller is tossup, and Steve Bannon probably has at least a rough working familiarity. The more a shitposter knows his enemy, the more effective his poasts. Trump has had ruthless right-wing thinkers in his orbit, strategists with a granular interest in the world. He himself probably uses whatever half-true, half-bogus urban legends he has heard about the Baltimore ghettos as a synecdoche for the entire City of Baltimore, and it’s a safe bet that he does not care about what he’s eliding.

The realpolitik of this particular shitposting outburst may help him, or it may hurt him. There are high-turnout suburban voters in Maryland who hate the shit out of Baltimore City, Inner Harbor excepted because, you know, #TeshTips and all, Inner Harbor, located in the innermost part of the city, is not the inner city. There are already a lot of Hogan Democrats in those parts, and Trump, like Hogan, is a Republican with a knack for peeling off crossover votes. On the other hand, Trump constantly shits on people and institutions these same suburban shitlibs hold in their hearts as bae as fuck: Deep State swamp critters and their agencies, etc., agencies that are leeches upon the body politic but major job centers in the BWI metroplex. I’m probably overthinking this whole thing anyway, since I may already be the last American to consciously give a shit about this beef one way or the other.

All the same, a quick history of Baltimore is in order, just to try to set the MAGA creeps and their shitlib neighbors straight. (Keyword: “try.”)

Baltimore City is in fact quite troubled. Any fool who’s taken a good look around or done some casual reading knows this. Baltimore did not, however, get like that in a vacuum. It was not the fault of the Lazy Negro, as observed and denounced by Cliven Bundy, federal dole bugger. It was not the doing of naughty ghosts. Baltimore is poor because it has been looted. It’s been looted again and again and again. It is looted by its own affluent suburbs, in the same fashion as Cincinnati and Detroit. It is looted by the imperial center, same as Anacostia, Waldorf, and the Eastern Shore.

In an economy directly based on actual economics, Baltimore would be decisively more prosperous than Washington. Baltimore was a major colonial city, a seaport on a bay rich with fish and crabs sloping up sharply, by Eastern Seaboard standards, to a creek-studded fall line. Boston, Newport, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston: sail away to any of these, but most joyously to the last.

Washington was platted for strictly political purposes centuries after the first British colonial settlement of mainland North America, after Independence, on ostensibly neutral ground amidst plantations and swamps deep inland on a seminavigable tidewater river, an hour or so by horseback downriver from one of the least exploitable fall lines on the Seaboard. There was no economic reason for it to exist as more than a middling market town. It lacked the maritime usefulness of the big port cities and the compact, easily exploited fall lines of mill towns like Paterson, whose falls Alexander Hamilton and his cronies exploited with great prejudice.

Already a much more useful and productive port and fishing city, Baltimore surged ahead of Washington infrastructurally and economically in the decades before the Civil War as the coastal terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the first common carrier railroad in the United States. The B&O penetrated the near Maryland Piedmont in 1830, then the Cumberland Gap and the Ohio Valley. It reached Washington, still a relative backwater, by branch line in 1835. Baltimore remained the maritime and industrial powerhouse of the two throughout the twentieth century. It’s still tangibly more productive than Washington, in spite of its poverty.

Nah, that’s too wishy-washy. Baltimore is impoverished because it is productive. We’re a post-industrial society now. We still have industry, but it’s a looting target for the imperial center, not the pride of the neighborhood for producing what we need to survive and live well. Washington is so prosperous because it’s the downwind catchment for the big sucking sound. It sucks other places’ prosperity in from all directions and concentrates it for the privileged use of the worst people in the country. If 10% or 20% or something like that of the American workforce is tangibly productive and productive, honest labor is despised, it’s easy for the looting winners in this arrangement to look down their ostentatiously powdered noses at the uneducated losers who manufacture, process, fix, ship, or otherwise do something necessary to all their beloved shit. Washington and its immediate neighbors are exceptionally dependent for a metropolitan area of that size on other cities for their provisioning: New York, Baltimore, the Hampton Roads, etc. We’ll leave aside the immense waste of the military-industrial complex that drives the official “economy” in the Hampton Roads; DC has that shit, too, but none of the productive infrastructure.

Of course they can fucking juke the numbers and make DC look like it’s supporting Baltimore or the Monongahela Valley or Cincinnati or the entire state of Idaho or whatever. They suck in tribute from all directions, dump it in huge piles within a 15-mile radius or so of the Beltway, and pretend that the prosperity originated there, every bit of it. Then they bitch about how losers in the provincial sacrifice zones get upset because the imperial center is trying to eviscerate their communities. Why don’t they learn to code and move to the jobs?

Nobody ever tells sniffly boi Brett Michael to do that is why. This always bears reviewing: the cokehead went away to New Haven for seven academic years, then came home and has spent the subsequent two-plus decades living in his childhood neighborhood, a mansion district in a woodlot that has no compelling reason to be settled in the first place. Fellow worse-than-useless shitheads from across the neoliberal-neoconservative spectrum who would never chide him for not leaving home and making a go of it somewhere better can’t help themselves if there’s a high horse to mount about how Baltimore or Steubenville or Fort Edward or Peoria is nothing but whining losers refusing to get with the program and bitterly clinging to a misremembered past. Brett Michael gets a pass because he was raised around the jobs. Problem with this gloss is that the jobs sprang up in his neck of the woods precisely because the provinces were looted and the loot was dumped in the area.

Do we still wonder why elements in the provinces distrust our cosmopolitan elites?

As discussed above, Donald Trump, another worse-than-useless piece of shit when it comes to anything involving, say, his “business” “background,” has no fucking idea about any of this. It doesn’t cross his mind that Inner Harbor is a Potemkin Village, an admission-free amusement park. This doesn’t occur to whole swathes of Baltimore’s political class, and Maryland’s, and the nation’s. It’s by design. We gentrified some shit downtown, and five blocks away in some directions it’s hardcore ghetto, and uh, uh, uh, yeah. We don’t fucking know what we’re doing with any of that. The tax base fled to the suburbs–it’s white flight but also black flight; see Prince George’s County in particular–and we don’t do redistribution across county lines in this country, although we do sometimes in Vermont last I heard.

Elijah Cummings has only a modestly embarrassing role in this mess. He hasn’t fixed much of it, but neither has anybody else, and he seems to try. I’m sure he’s steered funding into Baltimore City that it would otherwise have missed. Members of Congress do that as a matter of course, especially the lifers; Robert Byrd loved him some fucking pork barrel, and there’s federal shit in West Virginia that frankly never had any place in such out-of-the-way hollows, but our old boy Bob, though.

Cummings represents some of the most concentrated urban poverty and violence in the country. Johns Hopkins has an internationally renowned trauma center because it’s the best neighborhood hospital for some hardcore ganglands. It’s rough in the hood. Then again, how many diehard Orioles fans from places called County, not City, loudly identify with Baltimore on game nights but hate it the rest of the week and the whole offseason? How many of these believe that state and federal aid to Baltimore City should go exclusively to Inner Harbor and Camden Yards?

Donald Trump doesn’t give a rat’s ass about any of this, either. Elijah Cummings, I have every reason to believe, does. One way to look at Trump’s PR coup the other week, or whenever it was (I cannot fucking track some of this stuff on the timeline), is that he baited a bunch of his fellow out-of-town shitheads who don’t give a damn about Baltimore to scream at full volume about Baltimore and how much they respect it and defend its honor, sucking all the oxygen out of the room. He succeeded in leading an assembly of self-aggrandizing idiots into redirecting the Baltimore discourse to focus on that which they treasure above all else: themselves. We did the same thing as a nation (“we”; “nation”) in the Africa Shithole Discourse however many months ago that horseshit was. Waka waka hey hey, let me know what any Hopkins-trained medical doctors working in Accra think about any of this, if you hear from any of them.

Not thinking about it is a valid decision. It’s one I could have made, but I guess I figured the abyss was already gazing into me and I might as well stare it down.

The one unambiguous conclusion I’m able to reach from this clusterfuck of words is that it’s never a mistake for me to venture into Baltimore solo, free of entourages drawn from my White Community. Lawd is it ever. Swing low, sweet app-based chariot, and carry them where they’re going without Fat Cracka. I still don’t know what to make of that crew that invited me to Inner Harbor for #YachtLife on a scheduled Freddy Gray hot summer weekend. The one guy was about to get married, but so fucking what? It was motherfucking Baltimore, and they were from Philadelphia, i.e., very much not Philadelphia. It’s that good old cold Chicago morning in Downers Grove, not in the ghetto (in the ghetto). Let’s have fun with synecdoches again. As that chick who offered me a ride back from the Snoopyport tells her children, I’m glad that we’re using our words, but.

Our words are one of the things we use to express our White identity. But who’s “us?” I wasn’t about to waste a couple hundred bucks on railfare to meet up with a bro squad of dipshits in a town they didn’t know that was threatening to go up in flames. Yeah, yeah, I’m one to talk about fire now, as a registered Santa Rosa voter, but at least around here the burned-over districts are mostly bougie property owners in Mark West Springs and shit. Also, nobody announced beforehand on the national news that the likelihood for that particular weekend to involve civil unrest right there had just jumped by a factor of tens.

Besides, if I go solo, I sometimes end up with a cute barista at BWI telling me that she likes my aloha shirt, meaning that isn’t just Over-the-Rhine $20 blow-and-go brick shithouse types hanging around the Bonneville Transit Center who think it’s jazzy. It’s a straight shot on the light rail from Lexington Market to THAT. America is a land of contrasts. And #TeshTips, not that you’ll hear them on NPR as an #AmericanAnthem: there are women who aren’t pissed at you, a dude, for getting a ride from another dude and still trying to make time with them or some shit. Not every hard bitch from Atlanta can be Summer Benton.

This is still more lucid than my buddies were about going to Inner Harbor and hanging out on a rented yacht that weekend. There are reasons why I’m out of touch with to estranged from all of them. Read about them in The Bonfire of the Vanities. To paraphrase the United Negro College Fund via Dan Quayle, it’s a terrible thing to lose your leg, but an even more terrible thing to lose your mind.

How true that is. Our political class has deteriorated in its words even from his, and Quayle’s words included “potatoe.”