Faulkner in the fields

One of the two caterwauling Robin Thicke wannabes at work collaterally assaulted me the other day by chasing a kid he was bullying around the end of a row and up the aisle where I was working, straight into my immediate work area. It was painfully obvious that he acted with criminal intent to assault his target and didn’t give a shit that I was in his path. That isn’t how he conceived of it, but that’s because he’s a thug who thinks that he has a civil right to throw his weight around and bully pussies however he pleases. What provoked this assault was pathetic: dude was salty that his target was poaching a distant, heavily cropped part of his row instead of staying on his assigned row. It was a fucking territorial dispute.

I read Thicke Bro the fucking riot act about getting physically aggressive with other employees and told him that I would call the police if he laid a finger on me. What rattled me about the aftermath of this assault, though, was that his primary target defended him, telling me that he was “just joking around” and couldn’t have meant any harm because he was smiling. I’d seen the fucker smiling, but I wasn’t about to tolerate that piece of shit assaulting two innocent coworkers just because he misdirected us with facial expressions contradicting his unmistakably belligerent body language.

I couldn’t tolerate an emotionally abused kid defending a workplace bully who had just assaulted me as well, but I also got really uncomfortable with how upset I was getting with this mark, who was obviously an innocent traumatized wimp who felt boxed in, literally and figuratively, between me and this guy he was going to have to face again and again; the guy who assaulted us is either family or a close peer-level family friend, although I couldn’t follow which. Worse, I was afraid that this situation would escalate to additional assaults, all too likely including batteries, if I stuck around that day, and I did not want to be put in a position of having to physically restrain Thicke Bro and risk being investigated for assault myself. So I left the property, wrote an advisory email to the sheriff’s department, and then contacted my bosses with a copy of the advisory email and some additional information on what had happened and what else I was afraid might happen as a consequence.

This turned into a three-hour time sink over a couple of two-minute workplace confrontations, but I thought it prudent to formally document what had happened and, more importantly, to eliminate any risk that our bully boy thought I might be bluffing about calling the cops. I know the type. A man of his character may despise a victim who tattles to authority figures for being a pussy, but he’ll fear one who has been in touch with the police, because he knows that the next move may result in his own arrest. These guys are not all that principled at heart. They talk a loud game about manly honor and shit, but when push comes to shove, they will not stand up to vicarious assertions of power on behalf of their victims by authority figures with arrest powers. Besides, they never abide by standards of honor themselves. If they did, they wouldn’t physically bully other people at work over territorial disputes that they started in a fucking berry field.

This may sound like a Story Whore submission about my trauma, a passion play in which I will shortly don my Vietnam Veteran trucker hat (that breathable plastic, tho), pull the list of PTSD symptoms out of my breast pocket, and let me tell you about it. There’s a government disability pension waiting at the far end of that rainbow of lies for anyone who doesn’t colossally fuck up his own story, so it ain’t me, Lawd, at $5.50 an hour gross on a good day it ain’t fuckin’ me. Nor do I want to exaggerate how upsetting or scary the actual assault was. That one bad act isn’t what still has me rattled half a week later, not when I’d gotten through to my homie that Five-O would be driving Miss Daisy down to Albany in chains for being a bad girl if he ever did anything of the sort to me.

What still rattles me about this situation is the cultural context that enabled it. This dispute did not arise and escalate to the point of assault in a cultural void. If one two-bit thug who made it past my bosses’ normally sound gut check at the time of hiring assaults me and another picker out of the blue, I can have my pushy boi policed up on short order. Honestly, I assumed all along that the guy was just a bit of a clownhatting dipshit with a questionable idea of how to dress for work, and then suddenly he assaulted us, so I don’t see what the In-Laws, who spent much less time around him, could have detected in the way of warning signs.

Similarly, if Thicke Bro’s fellow Thicke Bro is too codependent, verbally combative, and generally off for me to tolerate any more of his caterwauling after this incident, he’s just one bad member of an otherwise good crew, and I can make sure that he isn’t given the opportunity to get up in my face about how I did his buddy bogus. In this case, I’ve already gotten both of these guys fired. This is a power that I don’t feel comfortable possessing, let alone exercising. Calling the police for assistance fending off threats to one’s safety or welfare is appropriate for anyone who trusts the responding agency and its officers enough to make the call, but getting people fired somehow just seems much more extreme.

Neither of these guys seemed capable of basic, normal self-control in a professional setting, and one of them committed an unprovoked physical attack that nearly turned outright violent just to throw his weight around with a less assertive coworker, but still, getting people fired is an awesome power that is all too wantonly abused these days by drama queen shitheads who want to make a point about some moral panic they’re having and don’t care if they get a well-meaning person branded with the scarlet letter in the process. Adria Richards getting the dongle guys fired for being sexually crude (must have been a damn boring meeting for that to rise to the level of humor) and the internet mob going after Justine Sacco for making a comment about white people not getting AIDS while she was in the air because they were vicariously offended on behalf of all black Africans were cases of puritanical assholes throwing their weight around, with consequences much worse than the average non-contact workplace assault.

These boys are gone, and good riddance. But here’s where things get really fucking tricky and weird. The kid who was the target of that assault is presumably still on staff, and I’ll be floored if he developed the backbone to stand up to the two-bit thug peers in his life over the weekend. Normally I try to live by the Prime Directive in my dealings with the locals on the job, unless they open up to me to an extent convincing me that they aren’t defensively deep in the country authoritarian bullshit. This case isn’t normal: a bullying victim was adamantly defending a guy who had just assaulted me and saying that he had done nothing wrong, and it’s bloody obvious that he was defending the thug because he was scared of the guy and didn’t want more trouble. I might as well try to reason with a codependent victim of domestic violence about how her husband really is incorrigible wifebeating trash. I come to Oregon to pick fruit, not to do high-stakes social work as an amateur who’s half on/half off the clock. And to scavenge deposit bottles. Chaka Can, Chaka Can, I’d rather not feel for any of this horseshit, Chaka Can.

On top of this, all of which is already a huge mess, we’ve got an ambient religious environment that I really don’t want to criticize at work but which seems to be causing more harm than good. Few of the people involved with that farm are not evangelical Christians. I’ve known a few pickers who haven’t said anything about their religious affiliations but seemed to be something along the lines of sporadically churchgoing Main Line Protestants or Catholics. As a churchgoing Catholic myself, I don’t generally feel like, uh, coming around and talking it over (Is Wilsonville far away? Don’t answer it if you think I care), because that potentially means arguing about evangelical practices and beliefs that have been misattributed to Catholicism by evangelicals who’d rather pretend that there aren’t any disputes over, say, praying for the dead. (How do you spell that, Captain Queenan? “Depotted?”)

We were already dealing with an ongoing but low-level threat of an uncalled-for, pain-in-the-ass cultural exchange that has no business arising in the workplace but does anyway because we’ve got a bunch of kids in the mix who don’t understand that they were not raised in the only mainstream American culture. With this assault, though, we’ve now got the public evangelical piety of a timid bullying victim, a minor who got upset when I tried to stand up to his bully even though his bully had assaulted me, too. Hey, that’s a hashtag! Let me pull out this list of symptoms and TELL you about my trauma!

I’m not inferring anything. The target of this assault previously told me and another picker that he would be taking a week off later in the season because “I have to go to something called Moody.” This has to refer to a vacation bible school affiliated with the Moody Bible Institute. This kid is being raised under the auspices of a religious community that is failing to protect him from grievous bullying or teach him how to respond effectively to mistreatment by peers. He goes to VBS, he probably goes to weekly Bible studies, he almost certainly goes to church at least once a week, and he got upset with me for pulling rank as an adult on an out-of-control peer of his who had just assaulted both of us.

This strongly suggests to me that he’s recently been under the authority of adults acting under church auspices who knowingly allow bullying on their watch and make excuses for it. As much as I don’t want to get sucked into any bullshit cultural exchange over Catholicism versus evangelical fundamentalism or whatever, I’m very much of a mind to lower the boom on any congregation that even toys with making excuses for its adults’ or older teens’ failure to police bullying under its auspices. Church needs to be a safe space for the vulnerable, and that means that those holding its authority cannot be a bunch of excuse-mongering derelicts. This is basic adult supervision. It should go without saying, but there are some real dipshits and more than a few abusers (mostly emotional, I’d guess, but occasionally sexual) who use congregational authority to throw their weight around and aggrandize themselves. We just can’t be allowing children, or God forbid adolescents, to establish a pecking order like chickens. This is not a fucking barnyard.

In this context, the prissy squeamishness of so many Christian conservatives around crude language doesn’t come across as a mildly annoying foible but as a rank, damning expression of predatory hypocrisy. As far as I can tell, the guy who assaulted us is unchurched or the next thing to it, although I’m basically reading the tea leaves here. His codependent buddy got hit by a car and lives out in the woods, where he’s been ministered to and resocialized by a community of tweakers who hang out in front of the corner store down the street from the railroad bridge. I’m not making any of this up, and I’m 100% sincere and descriptive, not trying to make light of any of this, when I say that I think this fellow may have sustained untreated brain damage in the accident. There was something unusually disinhibited about his manner of speech that I don’t think can be fully explained by his club bro act, and he told us that he is still frequently in physical pain from the accident months later. He routinely interrupted others with abrupt, sometimes off-topic questions that he asked without normal volume modulation. I’m thinking maybe a Phineas Gage situation, and I mean this seriously.

So we’ve got this guy trying to recover from being hit by a car while he’s camped out down by the river most of the time, when he badly needs housing and could probably use a low-intensity inpatient behavioral health treatment program for whatever all is wrong with his head. Ain’t that America, Mellencamp. So far, so bad, and this looks like a real clusterfuck that no individual or family will be able to resolve with normal acts of charity, but now we seem to have people hanging out in the fray who think that what’s wrong with both of these dudes, Gage Bro and Rage Bro, is that they cuss too much. This is a dire problem, one that I am not exaggerating. American evangelical thought on public morals really, truly is so crude. I’m sure that I’d have an easier time convincing the wimp who was the primary target of the assault that using the Heavy Seven is more problematic than chasing a submissive peer around a hairpin corner at the end of a row over a completely bogus territorial dispute.

To be clear, I do not believe that any of the In-Laws are so foolish; they’re exactly the sort of responsible adult authority figures who are needed but so often missing in situations like this. The problem is that they’re in no position to fix dysfunctional, abusive subcultures that only incidentally overlap with their own much healthier and responsive culture (Mother-in-Law has had her troubles, but she knows that she has and clearly strives to do better). They’ve got this heavily indoctrinated adolescent pushover who refuses to stand up for himself and got upset with me when I stood up for him, apparently because he feared that I’d get him into trouble for going after his bully buddy. Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of shit show that flares up when timid people who won’t think for themselves are put into environments with authoritarian premises, such as fundamentalist church youth groups. The In-Laws stumbled into this mess in part because the dysfunction of a pathological, ungodly fucked up evangelical community marginal to their own church circles at the closest bled into their workplace at the same time that the dysfunction of Tweaker Hooverville started to wash ashore from the opposite direction.

I can’t fix this horseshit. If I could, I’d be worth $12 an hour, minimum bid. The shit hit the fan and I was suddenly doing the work of a school guidance counselor, completely unpaid, at a job where I’ve never cleared minimum wage for more than maybe fifteen minutes at a time. That isn’t a high enough pay grade for me to put myself smack in the middle between a bunch of prim churchy types who are against swearing, a bullying victim who angrily insists that he wasn’t one, and a thug from the crew whose best friend is fit for outpatient services on Tri-Met.

That doesn’t work. The boundaries are completely fucked. There’s a place for street ministry, but that place is not five yards from where I’m trying to pick fruit. That’s like saying that because a priest hears confessions as part of his ministry he has a duty to be utterly gracious when a crazy bum comes into his rectory garden and throws a shovel at him because he’s the devil while he’s picking tomatoes for dinner. We need to have a different, proper place for those who break into the Governor’s Mansion to flag down the Highway Patrol to shoot the mountain lion that’s been growling from inside that dumpster. No, that’s a poor analogy: dude admitted that, on second thought, he probably imagined the cat. Sometimes the kitty is in the dumpster; other times, the kitty is in one’s head. You know how that happens.

The guy who lives in the woods under the wings of tweakers has a girlfriend who worked with us briefly and said that she might have to leave work early because she didn’t have her schizophrenia meds. She seemed pretty high-functioning, just a bit jumpy and anxious sometimes. She was certainly no Psychotarp or Mixups in my Mind. I have no problem working around people with a history of psychosis who aren’t disruptively symptomatic, and I mean that. The problem is that we’ve got a whole lot of people on the loose in this country with untreated behavioral problems. The better results include Mixups in my Mind or Psychotarp talking nonsense at me for half an hour, which might be okay if I’ve got the time. The worse results include Mixups throwing a wheelbarrow across the parking lot because he’s having a mad.

Have I told you lately that inpatient psychiatric beds facilitate productive economic activity, and that I love you? That last part is bleeding-heart horseshit, but the first part is true, so will I see you tonight? The 72 bus to Clackamas Town Center works, too. Forget about getting Charlie off (CHAHLEE!); at least Charlie knows that he wants to get off and isn’t all like, let me fucking off right here, then standing in the doorway yelling about how he has to get off, then, once he’s finally off, banging on the door trying to get back in, like he’s P. J. O’Rourke’s Anacostia slow boy and he lives there.

Contra the evangelical language police, the problem isn’t with neighborhood bums who go up to Addison and ask whether any of you white motherfuckers want to get on the train for free. That’s, uh, unfare, but that isn’t what’s really wrong with the CTA; does that sound like Rahm Emanuel to you? Okay, maybe a bit. Fat Cracka paid for his ride, by the way. Fat Cracka pays, because Fat Cracka cares. Too much, in fact. It should be my Monday, as they say (yuck), but I’ve already scavenged two deposit bottles today, and that’s work, and $5 to putz around on WES sounds pretty damn appealing right now, because that’s some bitchin’ self-propelled diesel and the Tualatin Valley somehow isn’t nothing but social problems, so I’ll do without anyone who has an Uber account getting up in my face about how that’s too little radical compassion or too much self-care.

Don’t ask me how that became a sentence. Whose tent have YOUR boots been under? There’s no need to ask who I saw in the tent village in front of the charity lunch spot downtown last night, either, or why I walked a full circuit around the Greyhound depot, or why I started the seven o’clock hour in a darkened church sanctuary, waiting for the contemplative mass to begin while I thought about how maybe Pot-o-Shit Friend should have used kitty litter. I’ll understand if Father needs to excuse himself from the altar to find some soap. He might have enough to spare to wash out my mouth, but where does that leave my brain? How, pray tell, can one minister to the Body of Christ when one has such difficulty ministering to the entire head?

God bless. This ain’t mere Christianity; it’s the agony of Gethsemane as farce. Welcome. Take a look around and see what you find. Share it with the congregation if the spirit so moves you, for all are welcome in the meetinghouse that we call life. Lord have Mersey upon us, this sounds like a Mrs. Robinson remix, but Mrs. Robinson didn’t live in the woods with all the bodega tweakers, so do share with us your newest testament of latter-day horrors. I’ve shared worse.

Stay tuned for our next issue, devoted to 4,000 words about how you totally know you’re a 2010’s kid if you’ve ever given thanks that you haven’t been stabbed on MAX.

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Why the hell do I still work for these people?

Sweet fucking hell. I made it through not quite seven workdays and 300 pounds of fruit before Daughter-in-Law’s Husband butted into my fucking business out of nowhere, point-blank asking me where I stay when I come up here. This is, amazingly but truly, worse than anything the Ditzney Princess ever asked me and worlds worse than anything the ADHD spazz kid ever blurted out. The Ditzney Princess was annoying as all hell but never impertinent; our spazzy boi told more than his share of fucked up stories, but they were all really quite harmless to the rest of us as listeners, and mostly fun, too.

Why the hell anyone who runs a goddamn business thinks it’s appropriate to interrogate employees about their housing situations is beyond me. If they’re wondering whether the sprawling piles of junk in all passenger seats and footwells mean that I live out of my car, yeah, Occam’s Razor says that I may be doing that and in no mood to discuss it with meddlesome authority figures. They’ve got all the phone and address information they need in my file. That information is current enough for them to reliably get in touch with me. Jawboning me about where I’m staying night to night has fuck-all to do with that.

If they’re interested because I keep coming in late, I’m almost always the last picker on site every afternoon, and of course they don’t pay any of us enough to compel punctuality. They basically understand this, and there isn’t usually any weirdness about it, but it should go completely without saying that this is not a gift horse that they ought to harass with their clumsy dental tools. Horsey may go chomp-chomp, and horsey may definitely bolt to Newport or Reno or some shit. They know the history, and again, they’re usually pretty tactful about it. But there’s something legit wack about thinking that it’s at all appropriate or reasonable for them, in their immediate and explicit capacity as my employers, to confront me with intrusive questions about my living situation during work hours. That is completely out of line, and anyone who’s thinking seriously about any of this shit knows it.

No amount of general cordiality excuses it. Sure, I’m cool chatting about other things that sometimes have something to do with my life off the farm. If they tell us that they sold out their entire supply at a market, does that mean that I’m in order or the least bit in my right mind to ask them how much they owe on their mortgages? Good God.

I do not feel like being the only party to that relationship with any fucking tact. And I’m not there to teach anyone how to properly respect the homeless or what it means to be homeless or some shit, even if they’d like to learn. There are others they can turn to for that. A horrifyingly large number of them live within a fifteen-minute drive. Certainly my situation is weird, but do I sound like I drove five hundred fucking miles to be jawboned about it by authority figures at a job where my hourly earnings are maxing out at maybe $5.50?

Nothing good will come of discussing any of this in their company. That would be like walking through a wasp-infested blackberry thicket to fish quarters out of Pot-o-Shit Friend’s housewarming gift. If they’ve got any goddamn sense of what anything costs they know full well that no one in their employ is making a meaningful living working for them. Really, I have only financial disincentives to be working for them, or to be most anywhere else in the Willamette Valley, but I’m willing to deal with that and turn a blind eye to all the low-key dodgy shit they do as long as the work conditions are good. Too many damn questions is a case of bad work conditions. At that point, it isn’t just that they’re employing some ten-year-old to sort berries at two dollars an hour under the table. Bogus but not my personal concern I can tolerate. Being questioned about sensitive situations that no one present will do jack shit to fix, I can’t.

Now I’ve got my dad asking me whether I’m sure that I wouldn’t jeopardize my job by asking for a draw against my end-of-season paycheck. Of course they end up hiring people from lineages of overly scrupulous pushovers. If they fire me for asking for a payout roughly in accordance with Oregon wage and hour regulations I can fucking sue them. I’d be floored if they retaliated against me for that, but this is yet another thing that shouldn’t be crossing anyone’s mind as the remotest possibility.

As I keep saying in spite of all the bullshit, this is overall a great place to work because the bullshit is pretty limited and quickly comes to a definitive end. Few enough Americans want these jobs, and probably not hella Mexicans at $.45 a pound, either, that they’re chronically shortstaffed, and I don’t envy them for that. At the same time, it gets awfully tiresome to watch another small business, and a fairly decently run one at that, descend into the land of fucking make-believe. Capital and labor are not best friends, although pretending that they are may do much to explain why the pay grades and compliance with child labor laws are so optional around here.

And this stuff is even worse in context. Everything that I’ve witnessed is the tip of the iceberg for small business owners being fucktarded laws unto themselves. It’s impossible to be observant and informed in these situations and not lose practically all trust in small business to properly regulate itself, or just behave halfway normally. All the self-help literature advises applicants that behaving anything like this around employers is a great way to lose a job and not get another one. I hate to be in-your-face about the leverage I have over the In-Laws, and I’m pretty sure that I succeed in being tactful about it, but I’d be gone, baby, gone if I didn’t have it, and not just for an early weekend of existential dread and fresh seafood in Newport.

It’s Codependency Day all summer long, and sure enough, this ship keeps righting itself (*Leon Bridges, calling down from the bridge* Y’all fools got another ship?), but it is striking just what a ringing indictment of capitalism, even at its smallest and most accountable fractals, this mess is. This is not legitimately about country-ass values: picking a hundred times my fair share of a top-producing state’s blueberries is a rural folkway; asking one’s employees dipshit questions about where they’re staying out of idle curiosity is not. Lose me with that crap. The lion’s share of everything that gets said publicly about running a business or living in the country has to be arrant bullshit, so I’ll be damned to be the only one living in the real world here while King Friday runs payroll on my white ass, and trolley? Cracka you clownin’, ain’t been an operating interurban this side of Chicago since Truman’s time, white boy.

Back to blu, uh, uh, uh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hustling deposit bottles: a useful skill to teach your precious brat in case he turns into a downwardly mobile college-educated bum like me

A year or two I came across an absolutely trash-ass human interest story about some do-gooder tyke in Dana Point or San Clemente or some shit who had supposedly earned over ten grand by collecting deposit bottles, ostensibly driven by his “passion for saving the earth.” I respect myself too much to look any of that shit up, and any effort any of you make to flame me in the comments for being lazy or sloppy in my writing will fail miserably to offend me as much as this original fucking aw-shucks dear-hearts-and-gentle-people happy horseshit story about the SoCal bottle brat does.

Everything about this story was gross, intellectually dishonest, and soul-deadening to anyone wandering by with the barest modicum of critical thought. “Saving the earth” is a muddle-headed synecdoche that this kid was encouraged to trot out to embellish his casual gig as a trashpicker into a grandiose campaign to remediate a measure of the environmental damage that his bougie parents and their bougie neighbors will never, ever for the rest of their lives stop causing, unless they are thrust into a state of utter socioeconomic ruin. The very notion that prepubescent children should be encouraged to have and express “passions” is a frivolous, decadent indulgence that more often than not snowballs into Baby Einstein-ass Tiger Mom excess, in which Mother is now distressed that precious little Taylor failed her (or his!) kindergarten admission interview and anyone with any goddamn sense is looking on in dumbfounded alarm, wondering who the hell sent the Hueys into the jungle this time.

The kids are in fact all right, or would be if their parents weren’t absolute fucking headcases. If the little ones aren’t profoundly troubled, and I mean legit wack, they’ll mature in due course of time into adequately well-rounded teens and adults. What in all hell this has to do with the childish horseshit that has them transfixed at the age of six or eight is not anything that the adults in their lives should give a second’s thought unless the brats have I’ma-go-stab-my-kid-sister-level emotional or behavioral problems. This is not the fork in the road in the path through the yellow wood that makes all the difference. Get your head out of your ass. I went to Walter Hays Elementary, and I regularly pull over at Interstate rest areas to sleep in a dumpster-on-wheels Focus, with a dedicated canning box AND canning bag on the right rear passenger’s seat; more on this shortly. In case you’ve been too fucking dense and self-absorbed to notice, we have social problems in this country that transcend our early childhood curricula and were not caused by little Parker’s failure to apply himself in “science class.”

#TeshTips: Problems that adolescents and adults face need to be addressed in adolescence or adulthood, when they happen, not in early childhood, when they did not. We already have Jonathan Franzen, a national treasure, to write tendentiously about how, ja, don’tcha know, my parents back in Minnesota kind of fucked me up all Freudian-like, and now I’m a Franzen character. Remember this much: if you’re worrying about your minor children blowing one-shot decision points with permanent life-altering consequences, you share a pastime with the guy whose characters include the little squirrel that likes to fuck, and the solutions to this mess are political ones that you are too chickenshit and craven to demand of your elected officials.

Continuing our #TeshTips, #BigBandStyle, bitch, children’s interests are different from adults’ interests, and if we’re still worried about their meaning when we’re already in our thirties or forties, we have failed to put aside childish things. I describe our high-turnout voters; Gloria in Motherfucking Excelsis. We’d be boorish to harangue children about how we birthed them into an impossibly cruel world, but oops, we’re already doing that by micromanaging them for admission to Harvard as tweens. All the same, as excessive as it might be to drain them of all wonder at the world they will someday inherit, we’d be wise to use those opportunities for guidance that come our way to let them know that, no, this is not, has never been, and never shall be a society of princesses, marine biologists, firemen, and astronauts. Or, statistically, a society of Ivy League graduates. Slightly off-topic, GO DIPLOMATS! NPR tells us that there’s a board in the public high school in Wilton, Connecticut, for students to pin the insignia of the colleges that have accepted them and Joaquin Guzman for Mayor.

Our children deserve some head-not-up-the-ass guidance about productive roles that they might take as grown-ups. Chaka Can, hustling bottles is honorable work, Chaka Can, I feel for that, if nothing else, so the South County Can Brat is learning skills that may serve him well and honorably in his adulthood. But even that the human-interest fuckheads just had to pervert into a Story Whore item about the exceptional glory that hustling deposit bottles brought this kid because he was in it for the right reasons, or so he and his stage-managing parents insisted. It couldn’t just be, check it, this kid has an after-school job that any able-bodied person could do, kind of like household chores but with more cash flow.

By the way, that kid DID NOT earn ten grand hustling bottles. Take it from his colleague in the business. That did not happen. His parents guilted other shitlib bougies into giving him big-ass piles of cans. It was basically a Dunkin’ Doorman deal. Shit, I’ve lied about how much I make hustling cans to impress prostitutes, and I’ve never implied making as much as an adult as this brat supposedly made as a second-grader enrolled in school fulltime. I wish I could make $30 a day doing that. Believe me, I’ve got my eyes on the prize. Problem is, the prize ain’t there.

Lemonade stands are another kid culture guilt grift; any sensible adult who wanted some lemonade would go to Stater Bros and stock up on Minute Maid concentrate, not wait for some brat to pretend to be an entrepreneur and to have a work ethic. Next thing you know, these kids will grow up into dipshits who think that being at rock bottom in the Amway downline is entrepreneurship, too.

We are a deeply stupid nation.

Also, stop worrying about the kids not developing a work ethic because of some bullshit about how you didn’t ostentatiously teach them lessons about summer jobs or chores or whatever when they were, like, eight or twelve. I didn’t start doing farm work at all until I was in my mid-twenties and commercial farm work until I was thirty, and I have the work ethic to pick blueberries fulltime for less than minimum wage. Speaking of which, we have no labor theory of value in this country. Ain’t my fault, though. If the Ditzney Princess or the ADHD spazz kid in military reform school don’t have a work ethic at the age of twelve, maybe it’s because they’re fucking twelve. Believe me, I don’t have a problem working with grown-ups instead.

In awe at the size of this lad. Absolute secure housing unit.

It’s the fifth anniversary of some Facebook shitposting that I did about Robert Rizzo working the parking lot at the Surf Museum in Huntington Beach (“I used to direct traffic at Hershheypark, so Bob’s a colleague”), including some kind words about Chris Christie’s superior character that didn’t age well after the George Washington Bridge thing, so I looked up Rizzo to see what has happened to him in the meantime. He’s presumably done with the lot gig, since they don’t have those at Lompoc, but a bit like Najibullah Zazi on quadruple rations, I can’t find where the hell the feds and/or CDCR have stashed him: the feds say he and five or six other guys named Robert Rizzo have been released, news reports at the time of his sentencing said that he’d be staying in the federal system to serve his state sentence, and CDCR shows no record of him in its inmate lookup portal. Given that he was facing well over a tenner less than five years ago, someone isn’t sharing pertinent information with the class.

When I compared Robert Rizzo to Chris Christie, I meant it. That boy is what we call thicc. Or was, depending on what he thinks of prison food. There are prisoners who lose weight because the food is shit, but it doesn’t take much slush off the top of ten mil or whatever the hell in illegal government kickbacks and looting to fund a commissary account for the long haul. Fat Sammy and the Unified Command memes are and shall remain an important part of the memetic treasury in these pages, but Sam Dotson has shit on Rizzo for being a stout shorty. It’s historically been debatable whether Italians can be white, but if they can, my good trolley bitch, that’s one fat cracka.

That said, whether it ought to be said or not, what inspires me to prose today isn’t Robert Rizzo but Chuck Rizzo, whose name came up when I was trying to locate Bob the Big Boy in the American Gulag. Chuck Rizzo is, for starters, an unremarkably normal-looking guy, both handsomer and more height/weight-proportional than Robert but nondescript by normal standards. He’s facing but not yet serving a federal nickel bid for a mob trash racket in Metro Detroit. Daddy was a trash crook, too, and a Charles. God bless our American family-own small business job creators, then.

The stunning thing about the Chuck Rizzo case was the objection that the prosecution raised to his being released on bond after sentencing to get his affairs in order and allowed to report to prison at a later date: specifically, that he was a suicide risk, and that a planned family reunion prior to his surrender date was likely to push him over the edge. The judge ruled in Rizzo’s favor, saying that the prosecution’s objections were serious but not convincing. But on the subject of elephants and the rooms they might trash, do we maybe think that if this guy is suicidal, it’s because he’s facing years in prison?

*Permanently contemplative Dennis Lynn Rader Voice* I spend quite a bit of time in my room myself. But seriously. Incarceration is not a routine setback or challenge in life. Suicide is hell on those left behind, but it takes a hard damn heart not to admit that prison can be a hell of its own, or that five to five and a half years in prison is nothing because the system passes down sentences centuries long. These are not things to minimize. They’re horrifically serious.

Any prosecutor who stands up in a courtroom and asks a judge to remand a convict to prison so that he can’t commit suicide while out on pre-surrender bond is a sociopathic sadist. That’s some powerfully depraved thinking. Yeah, dipshit, you know why he might be suicidal? Because of you. You’re the one doing everything you can to ruin his life out of spite. Even if a convict isn’t suicidal, as Rizzo’s defense convinced the judge, he has alarmingly good reasons to be suicidal, and every fucking one of these reasons could be neutralized singlehandedly by the prosecution not seeking prison time. That’s what prosecutors would do if their main concern were about the mental health and survival of their defendants and convicts. This is separate from the public safety arguments against releasing dangerous criminals into the community without supervision, but the prosecution here wasn’t arguing anything of the sort; it was disingenuously asserting itself as a defender of its adversary against himself.

Really, judges should give prosecutors one warning to shut the fuck up about their concern for defendants’ wellbeing before holding them in contempt of court. It’s a fundamentally perjurious mindset, not a series of lies in a strict technical sense but a line of argument driven by such utterly bad faith that it’s tantamount to lying, and it is without a doubt a form of deliberate false witness. Prosecutors in these situations patently do not give a rat’s ass about the welfare of those they’re prosecuting. More often than not, they seem to be driven by a pathological, personal, visceral hatred, including a desire to see evil visited upon their adversaries. They don’t get upset because someone will make a tragic, impulsive, heartbreaking, irreversible mistake; they get upset and scandalized that they’ll be denied the opportunity to punish those who have desperately sought a higher mercy.

That’s who deserves the Flint water supply. Lock their asses in cells plumbed into the river until they publicly disavow the evil they’ve promoted. If some crew of crooks gets caught running a trash racket, their contracts can be canceled and their ill-gotten gains clawed back. Allowing manifestly vicious, hateful, vicariously violent lunatics and sadists to draw public salaries as criminal prosecutors is a much deeper and more serious problem. That’s much harder to fix by enforcing the law. If no one will watch the watchdogs, maybe we’d be better off putting them all down.

The notion that prison is a place where the suicidal can be protected from themselves is as laughable as it is grotesquely evil and false. What’s next? Insisting that EMT-firefighters have the lowest possible occupational exposure to smoke and contaminated sharps? That the way not to be called a snitch-ass pig is to become a cop? To paraphrase Daniel Holtzclaw, suck white dick. Chuck Rizzo’s prosecutors asked a judge to immediately remove him from a reasonably stable environment where he had adequate psychiatric care to an unstable, chaotic, vicious environment where any psychiatric care he had been receiving would be interrupted and replaced, almost certainly, with a lower standard of care. Not many years ago a federal court found psychiatric care in the California prison system so pervasively bad that it placed the entire CDCR mental health system under the supervision of a special master, eventually ordering inmate releases to reduce the population to a manageable level. California may have been an extreme case, but there’s no fucking way it had the only prison system in the country that was failing to provide adequate psychiatric care to its inmates.

Yeah, let’s add another nonviolent convict with a history of suicidal ideation to our already crowded and dysfunctional federal prison system so that he doesn’t kill himself. That’ll go just great.

There’s a broader point to be made here, too: our prosecutors are batshit fucking insane. Do you really want to tell me that that Anne Marie Schubert is not clinically paranoid? Mama Grizzly cowering behind the chain link fence with delusions of persecution at the hands of angry community activists whose meetings she refuses to attend in the interest of her physical safety is certainly a good approximation of paranoid psychosis and projectile PTSD. The bum who ran into the governor’s mansion trying to flag down the Highway Patrol to shoot the mountain lion that was growling at him from inside the dumpster wasn’t that crazy. He’d just wanted the good guys with guns to shoot down the bad guy with fangs, but after his arrest, he told KCRA that he’d had mental health problems in the past and on second thought there probably hadn’t been any lion. It took a guy who had been acutely psychotic two or three days to say, shit, I guess I hallucinated that cat, but damned if we can ever get a hypervigilant district attorney to admit that, no, as a matter of fact no one was trying to assault or murder me, because yelling at a public official to do her job is not a form of assault, homicide, or violent threat.

Again, we may be better off without this apparatus of hell than we are with it. We really don’t understand peace or mercy as a nation, not even when it’s staring us square in the face. We hardly even have the gumption to tell flagrantly paranoid security officials to take their CalPERS and fuck off back to Citrus Heights. I don’t give a shit if Schubert wants to self-medicate with chardonnay; the problem is that she’s being paranoid and lashing out on the public dime at a time when she has executive prosecutorial discretion. If she wants to be batshit crazy on her own time, that’s her business; this current shit is our business.

The Chippies should give that poor bum a Starbucks gift card for what they and the Sheriff’s Department did to him, since they’re already quite familiar with Starbucks. They owe him a Dunkin’ Doorman offering for his trouble. I’m not lion, and neither is that dumpster.

Conservatives: what is it all about? And liberals: what is THAT all about? Who among us can say what is good, or what is wack, or what is Aleppo?

My suspicion during the 2016 election that Donald Trump was the more liberal major-party candidate is being borne out, in some small measure at least, by his current enthusiasm for his powers of clemency. Having recently commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a nonviolent offender serving life without parole for drug offenses, the Donald is now openly mulling the possibility of sparing the Rod from another six years as a compulsory Coloradan.

Trump’s use of his clemency powers is woefully inadequate to the sheer scale of the American penal state, but it’s very much welcome and encouraging. We should all seek more of his executive mercy, not less. It’s appalling, then, to see liberals, both sworn and credibly inferred, getting visibly uncomfortable with his enthusiasm for these particular powers. These same creeps think it’s super cool and badass when he directs military aid or strikes unto wholesale Muath al-Kasasbeh on some godforsaken patch of desert that the degenerates of the House of Saud have for some utterly selfish reason come to revile, operations that profligately waste our own national treasure and talent on atrocities that in no way serve our national interests, and conversely they vomit cheap accusations of sedition at him for being reluctant to clash with Russia, the country whose security services diligently warned the FBI about Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to the Boston Marathon bombing.

Everything about all of this indicates that liberalism, as preached and practiced by the Democratic Party and its talented tenth base, is nothing of the sort. How talented this tenth is at anything other than state-patriotic bullshit is debatable, as is how precisely it is a tenth, as opposed to a fifth or whatever; my own belief in liberalism, at least, includes the principle that the rest of you are at liberty to do your own fucking math.

Overall, it seems to be diminishing in size but compensating for its numerical diminishment with intensifying stridency, defensiveness, hypervigilance, and grievance-whoring. A cornered animal is as good a model as any for this constituency. The Hillbots were and still are infamously rattled by the popularity of Bernie Sanders, a dark horse who came in from the fringes and nearly won the presidency (*Most Meritorious Adam Parkhomenko Voice* How could he would have?) with a democratic socialist platform that appealed to a downwardly mobile society. Bernie’s base included a great many humiliated children of the middle and upper-middle classes, i.e., exactly the constituency that fucks shit up for the incumbent political class when it isn’t delivered what it was promised from birth.

The data wonk brain geniuses in the Clinton campaign didn’t grasp that this is the same educated, civically engaged, and angry stratum that historically produced fine specimens such as Che Guevara and Pol Pot. Their arrogance and surreal ignorance of sociology and political history goes far to explain why they were so alarmed and so fucking salty that the young people they had failed in the course of their own looting of the commonweal were energized by a barnstormer who talked about revolution as a philosophical guide but was really just a mashup of Ike, FDR, and Tommy Douglas.

Time and time again, and on every conceivable issue, these shitty, condescending, crooked sellouts are scandalized that anyone in their party’s putative base has actual principles and tells them, their social betters, to assert and defend these principles or go to hell. Their entire attitude boils down to fuck all y’all for being uppity but God damn you if you don’t reverently vote for us as ordered. It’s a mystery how they keep choking against outrageous Republicans with this gracious, winning, and fully becoming stance. They must have forgotten every fucking thing they learned in social studies from grades K-16 (17? 18? 20?), notably including the civic stake and civic equality that everyone in their native class was taught to demand as a sacred birthright. Remember, these shitheads are mostly failspawn who didn’t have what it took to go, say, to medical school; awfully few of them street-fought their way out of some trailer park or housing project.

In concert with their anger towards uppity reverse yuppies, they’re publicly steaming mad at the poor in general for putting Trump into office, an unwashed mass that they caricaturishly construe as “the white working class.” Although they prefer to be discreet and disingenuous about this vice, they admire wealth, in fact idolize it to a biblical extent, so blaming the Great Value crackers for Trump is much more comforting than admitting that white working-class turnout, like working-class turnout across the board, was about as low as ever and maybe sixty or eighty percent of Trump’s votes came from reactionary provincial elites and other affluent fashy trash.

Again, do the math. I’ll do the social studies: these fucking assholes are acting like the worst dorks in a dysfunctional seventh grade class, desperately seeking the approval and support of whatever shitty rag-tag defensive force they can muster from the teachers’ pets and other goody-two-shoes dipshits against the class clown, a two-bit bully they fear and hate mainly because he sometimes corners them in the hallways and gives them noogies. Hence the newfound “liberal” reverence for the FBI, the CIA, and the “intelligence community” in general, “communities” harboring and empowering some of the worst people in the country. These people are so psychosexually stunted, dysfunctional, and selfish that they’d rather stand back while random peons are swept into the maw of the American security state over trifling offenses than admit that they’re sniveling, unprincipled shitheads trying to boss around constituents who seek to comport themselves as actual adults and maybe meaningfully assert some real principles while they’re at it.

Donald Trump isn’t entirely wrong that Rod Blagojevich was arbitrarily and unfairly swept into that maw. The guy was a crook, but his real undoing was that he put his loud mouth to a wiretapped phone line. In a very real way, he’s in federal prison for having a low-class manner of speech. The kind of crass, corrupt transactional politics he tried to plot over the phone is scandalous and wrong, but nothing about it was objectively unusual. He got into trouble for being candid in a recorded conversation about influence-peddling and quid pro quo sleaze that most politicians have the tradecraft to discuss implicitly and in private.

To use an all too obvious counterexample, what Mayor 40892-424 tried to do paled in comparison to what Bill and Hillary Clinton have actually done to abuse and profit from their high offices for decades. Neither in scope nor scale nor severity did Blago ever hold a fucking candle to Billary. On top of that, he’s a more decent, down-to-earth, and normal person than either of them. He’s an especially stark contrast to Hillary, but Bill was always a vicious, treacherous, bigoted piece of work, and in his old age he’s turned into a short-tempered cadaverous scold. Blagojevich achieved a graciousness and good humor in crisis that would have been impressive by any standard, and which neither of the Clintons, whose circumstances have often looked ominous but have never been so dire, has ever come close to achieving.

Liberalism might include any number of positions, but there are some things that it absolutely is not. Bringing a self-serious, self-righteous G-Man on NPR to moralize about how serious Blagojevich’s crimes were and how he therefore needed to be punished is grossly illiberal. Eric Holder belatedly admitting that he thought the 12-14 year sentence was excessive is liberal, but what a fucking profile in courage, waiting six years to express a public opinion as a former US Attorney General about what he regarded as a disproportionate federal prison sentence.

The Democrats really don’t fucking get it. They’re so convinced of their own righteousness, of their own superiority to Donald Trump, that they can’t imagine a situation in which they make him look good, even after they’ve set him up in favorable situations countless times and he’s repeatedly used them to make himself look like the better party to whatever the hell bullshit they orchestrated. A few days ago they were snarking about whatever the hell Kim Kardashian could have been doing in the White House to waste Trump’s time. Pleading for clemency on behalf of a federal prisoner who was serving life without parole for drug trafficking was what, and in an accomplishment that any practicing criminal defense or appellate lawyer would admire, OJ’s lawyer’s daughter prevailed on behalf of the petitioner whose case she was pursuing and secured her very prompt release for time served.

For all we know, Trump’s next move may be to spare the Rod to do an old buddy a solid and trigger the libs. Trump hasn’t been using his executive clemency powers nearly vigorously enough, but what he’s doing is a start. Anyone who cherishes liberty and seeks to rein in the American penal state will welcome the mercy he has shown Alice Marie Johnson and any mercy he grants Rod Blagojevich. Johnson’s sentence commutation is a crucial and worthy model of mercy. Everyone bitching about how she or Blagojevich or anyone in their league had some “debt” to “pay” to “society” is a fucking ghoul. Trump, the president whose ADHD has gotten him fixated on his presidential clemency powers on a regular basis, isn’t the ugly evil one here. The prospect of the Clintons, or even Barack Obama, sending Blago to FCI Englewood as a scapegoat to show off the Democratic Party’s intolerance for corruption within its own ranks is utterly hideous. The appearance that the Clintons scapegoated Anthony Weiner in exactly this fashion is no less gross and immoral. They’re evil; Dick Pic Tony is an unappealing but ultimately harmless neighborhood flasher who somehow got into Congress and, against the odds, showed himself (ew) to be the most normal and moral of the three of them.

One would expect any avowed liberal with a lick of sense to recognize the general virtue of praying for mercy, not justice, but the Democrats today are a vicious bunch of illiberal idiots. They aren’t even idiot-savants; that would involve some sort of narrow genius or savvy, and they’re too profoundly fucking retarded for any of that. If they’re sore that Donald Trump is upstaging them as a liberal, it’s a simple enough thing to remedy: they can return to actual liberalism, to a credible belief in liberty that they’re willing to lift a finger from time to time to defend. If they don’t want Kim Kardashian and Jared Kushner to be leading advocates for criminal justice reform, they might start by devoting less time to praising reactionary shitheads like Chuck Schumer and Claire McCaskill as cherished and indispensable members of their congressional caucus. As Kim might say, but probably more eloquently if the cameras are off, I, like, walked into a political vacuum here, and was like, wow.

That’s exactly how I feel every time I behold the Democratic Party and its affiliated media outlets. I’m, like, wow, you guys really are that fucked up. They screwed the pooch on all the basic socialist planks that kept labor on their side with promises to zealously promote individual liberty instead, then screwed the pooch on criminal justice just as hard and made a show of how much they hate anyone who isn’t either a yuppie or a meek low-class client voter. They’re now the party of culturally left-of-center gentrification sellouts, and they can’t even lock that constituency down because it naturally tends towards increasing reaction as its fortunes improve. They might assert the freedom to be a peaceable bum downtown, but that would piss off the boutique and restaurant owners, small business owners being by many accounts the most virulently reactionary constituency of all. Their conception of liberty has shrunk to such a pathetic, unimaginative, philosophically impoverished, degraded, feeble state that it is now basically the right to be affluently gay at brunch.

Rod Blagojevich would be an improvement. As the white boy who keeps integrating the mess halls and exercise tracks at FCI Englewood, he already is an improvement. The Democrats would welcome him back if they could tolerate anyone who’s honest and has some actual principles rattling around in there with all the pay-for-play hustling scams he’s working.

No, I’m not kidding. Just look at the crop of shits they currently let out in public. They’ve got nowhere to go but up with the guy who knows from personal experience that prison isn’t necessarily the best idea and that the FBI isn’t our friend.