A voice whining petulantly in the desert, lecturing an audience that may or may not be there

It’s hard to compile an exhaustive list of things that are childish, deranged, or otherwise embarrassing about the Panera Democrats meme. My initial foray into this swamp was just the first draft of history and shit, and it’s a hell of a lot to process, to I missed some things.

The proclamation of Panera Democrats as a crucial part of the base may be the apotheosis of limousine liberal centrist triangulation. I don’t want to jump the gun and announce that this frontier has been closed only to watch the Democrats slouch across some even worse horizon of privilege, but maybe, just maybe, we’ve finally wandered down to rock bottom on this wretched journey. Bill Clinton’s famous soccer moms were heavy on tiger moms overscheduling the hell out of their precious snowflakes and running themselves ragged to no good end in the process, but at least their lifestyle was understood to revolve around their family affinity for a team sport. The conception of Panera Democrats is explicitly of overly precious bougies who hang out in pretentious, overpriced suburban cafes with surprisingly bad coffee. The implicit sense of the target demographic’s lifestyle degenerates from some fashion of involvement in athletics to a strictly construed interest in lunch under the auspices of a specific upscale marketing affiliation. One gets the sense that sex would require too much exertion. The Democratic Party’s campaign strategy is subsumed into the marketing strategy of the one allegedly affordable place where Bougie feels comfortable getting lunch.

Even more pathetically, much of this target demographic obsesses neurotically over its weight as a way of bodily demonstrating its own superiority to the fat poors. #TeshTips: If you eat at Panera regularly and never get a cinnamon crunch bagel because you’re worried about the calories, you’re a fucking loser. If a diabetic has the good sense to take a supersized dose of insulin in preparation for the Price Chopper strudel (grandma’s taste didn’t always revolve around gallon jars of mayonnaise and government cheese), what the hell is wrong with you? That’s the one good thing I’ll concede about Karen Handel: she looks like she wouldn’t let Dotson finish all of Johnson and Belmar’s leftover fries at Steak-n-Shake. That is, she has really healthy eating habits compared to the woke college-educated quasiliberal base the Dems were trying to catch with Jon Ossoff. So does Fat Sammy, and that boy can eat.

Am I done insinuating that in my own stress-eating I, too, serpas the emotional and psychological maturity of America’s affluent social anorexics? I dunno, but I do know that I spelled that entire sentence correctly. WHO DAT. I have to get to bed pretty soon so that I’ll be safe to drive my parents to Albany for a medical appointment tomorrow morning, so the answer to my original question is probably yesish on second thought. For real, Billy Nungesser has a healthier relationship to food than some of these lettuce eaters at Panera; one has to figure that he enjoys some jambalaya, and some more jambalaya, and that he gets his somewhere better than Safeway. I’m pretty sure that this substantial detour is an exclusive function of my insomnia, jet lag, and fucked up sleep schedule, so, as I said, it’s hard to compile an exhaustive list of what’s wrong with the Democrats. Life is like a box of chocolates that way: you never know what you’re gonna get, but you can be pretty sure that Sam Dotson won’t put it back in the box. Never mind. I’m pretty sure that last part was nonsense, but these essays are too much trouble to edit, and it’s wicked late, so bon appetit, bitches.

One of the things the Democrats are striving to reward and turn into the basis of an enduring political movement is terminal alienation from all means of production. I’m kind of fat, but I’m also kind of a fruitboy. The Dems’ goal is to stop the working class from climbing back out of the dumpster where they disposed of it and instead to lavish praise and constituent patronage upon useless eaters who neurotically deny themselves normal meals without observing Lent (long story, sort of, but it’s an old agricultural holiday) and drive all over hell to fuck around in gyms because the cosmos provided Mexicans to do all the heavy labor. It’s foolish to get into high dudgeon with bougies for being so wasteful per se, but why the fuck does a major party have to cater to this shit? We saw it a few years ago with the bizarre health insurance exchange ads featuring two Millennial women in Lycra tights sitting on exercise balls with hearty glasses of wine in hand. This was part of the same advertising campaign that gave us Pajama Boy. #GetTalking. Roissy got into a snit because the wino chicks were fat, although to be honest they had only slightly more cushion for the pushin’. The real scandal, of course, is the celebration of entire classes of needlessly wasteful useless eaters and the concomitant maintenance of a separate class of foreign peasants to do all the dirty work.

All of this arises from a profound failure of coherence. Couldn’t the elliptical spinners be hooked up to electrical generators? No. That would require too much thought about electrical shit when we’re here to pay the creative class, not some peon electrician who’s already overpaid for not having a respectable and worthwhile skillset.

This, I’m afraid, is the dark crux of the matter. Don’t assume that I’m actually right about this; I still have to get to bed, so as Lambert Strether says, talk amongst yourselves, and as I say, it’ll be Christmas in July if more than one of you shows up here. There could be something even worse that explains the prissiness and impracticality of the Democratic establishment, and I’ll need to think about something much more retarded to have a hope of falling asleep.

What I meant to say before Wow Much words None concise is that the Democratic establishment very much wants to live in a world that does not force it to reckon with the existence of anyone who’s uneducated, unskilled, or poor. From this perspective, Panera is a great place to pretend. One is free to ignore the help, and given how shitty some of these college boys and girls are to the help, that may not be an entirely bad thing. It’s like a badly decorated version of the college cafeteria. The poors are priced out of the joint, peons magically keep it clean (for which we must punish them for not staying in school, of course), and one’s peers of a certain suitable class consequently stop by in abundance for an adequately foo-foo lunch on the go. Clintonworld Democrats would like to think that they aren’t so heartless, but if they aren’t there yet, they’re well on their way. What did you think “nudge theory” is? There’s also, of course, curtain theory, which holds that any unaccounted-for Secret Service agents can probably be found hiding behind the curtains. I know I wouldn’t have made that up if it weren’t a quarter to two in the morning, but it’s still way not creepy compared to shit that neoliberals earnestly promote. Abuela, she don’t like the little people thinking for themselves, you see. If we did, we might not agree that the only reason we’re racist is that we didn’t stay in school and then make lots of money.

This faction wants to campaign in Panera because it is deeply uncomfortable with the possibility that the rest of the country (which it immiserated) is not much like Panera. This is a good indication of how fucking sheltered and useless and idiotic the Democratic Party has become. Going to a recycling warehouse in Pennsyltucky and gladhanding forklift operators is a breach of fun stuff. A McDonald’s that was just mopped from end to end is several orbits beyond their comfort zone. That Donald Trump seems to actually enjoy talking to deplorables about industrial policy, if perhaps more than he enjoys actually thinking through it, must mean that he’s a troglodyte.

The factories are coming back, folks. They aren’t gonna do that. It isn’t the smartest, but if Donald Trump, who construes fun stuff to include jawboning about industrial policy in ways that may actually yield decent jobs after this and that and whatever (elegant!), is the true sign of our times, at least it assuages my recurrent fear that Crystal Harris is the greatest prophet of our age.

Panera Democrats

Good bloody grief, the GA-06 special election has given us a barfworthy new shorthand for the narrow, polarizing constituency of tepidly semiliberal Republican-leaning suburban social climbers that the Democratic establishment, for some hideous sentimental reason, still swears will get it over the top. As I often am, I’m late to this particular shitshow, which started two months ago, but just a few hours ago I came across some astute leftists on Twitter discussing it, and hoo boy is it some dumb, dumb shit. A high mucky-muck in the Democratic Party named Brian Fallon went on Twitter during the first round of the special election, on April 18, with this gem:

Even if he doesn’t hit 50 tonight, Ossoff is showing us the path to retaking the House. It runs through the Panera Breads of America.

Dude are you fucking serious? I think I’d heard of Fallon in contexts other than this Panera Democrats wanking fantasy, but I don’t follow the horse race bullshit closely enough to keep track of however many dozens of A-Listers, hundreds of B-Listers, and so on down the line maintain some kind of hideous relationship of patronage in exchange for sycophancy with Clintonworld. I guess I maintained some vague benefit of the doubt that the machine was savvy enough not to keep anyone around who was so utterly retarded. The moral of the story, if there is one, must be never to give anyone who’s ever been in the Clintons’ orbit the benefit of the doubt.

Before I continue, I might as well air some of my own mixed feelings about Panera. On the whole, I enjoy the chain. A dear friend of mine (a suburban Republican who considered Trump a nutcase and a distraction during the primaries; how topical!) and I have gone to half a dozen Paneras in Pennsylvania and the one at Horton Plaza in San Diego. Most of the food is good, although one scorched bowl of French onion soup in North Hollywood (Wow Much travels None homeland) got me woke af to the truth that the properly executed recipe still sucks. At the same time, the scrupulously anodyne corporate office park aesthetic has increasingly aggravated me over the years (they decorate their cups with fucking clip art). Starbucks is a vastly bigger chain with vastly higher revenue, but it feels human. Panera makes Dunder-Mifflin not look disturbing. More pertinently, Panera’s price points have been floating into the ionosphere for the past few years, or, in the Vulgate, it’s hella expensive, dawg.

We’re dealing here with a chain that subtly triggers customers who have had bad experiences in office jobs by reminding them of work, has good but not reliably good food, and costs a fortune for a fast-casual chain that often doesn’t even offer a tip jar. Panera is super bougie, a great place to get a bagel for $4.50 and then remember that Dunkin’ Donuts sells bagels that are almost as good at half the price. Bullneck has predicted that Panera will implode in another five years and produce a wave of strip mall vacancies. I’ve watched new hires watching training videos in the kitchen, so I don’t particularly doubt it. It’s already verging on a retail version of the Juicero.

This is not where socioeconomically mainstream people regularly eat. Statistics, which the Democratic brain trust supposedly has entire staffs to collect and analyze, prove this, and so does knowing people who aren’t yuppies. Right there we have two complementary ways that the DNC establishment is nothing but idiots. They don’t know anything from personal experience about how normal people live, and their yuppie statisticians don’t know anything from statistics about how normal people live. That’s the lot and portion of believing that Nate Silver is some kind of savant.

This dumbass Fallon probably avers that the path to a House majority runs through the Panera lobbies of the land because he’d rather hang out at Panera than have to deal with non-servant proles on their grubby turf. I’ve conducted much funemployment in Starbucks lobbies, and homelessness, too, so I don’t have a problem with people doing fuck-all in Panera all the live-long day. In Fallon’s case, I don’t really have a problem with some homelessness, either. If we’re going to continue having homelessness, why can’t public idiots partake of it in the interest of meritocracy? I write this stuff as a labor of love. I don’t get paid for it, no matter how mentally or emotionally taxing it is. I’ll get into a laser focus for hours at a time. You might wonder, then, why the laser spends so much time focused on the same handful of canucksploitable disgraces. Can’t I communicate to create something else? I even forget to meme Jian Ghotmesi. All I can say is that I’m imperfect. I’m not the hardest on the eyes, but I’m no Lynn Majors. I don’t expect to get paid for any of this shit. In the case of Dubai Porta Potty, I expressly expect not to get paid for it because no one should be paid for such a thing. Ready the net, Rundel, and make sure it’s a big one, because I’m fixing to grill up a regular Galilee camp meeting fish fry on the embers of these takes.

So here’s what bothers me: I pour myself into these essays because I feel called to bear witness to these things, with no compensation and no expectation that I’ll be paid, and then some overpaid idiot like Brian Fallon comes along and makes a raging public ass of himself for a living by demonstrating that he fundamentally does not understand American politics, which is his precise field. We’ve got the worst and the dimmest destroying a party FOR WHICH I DID VOLUNTEER GROUND CAMPAIGNING IN OPPOSITION TERRITORY so that they can loot what they consider their share of the ruins; smearing people who operate at a thousand times their intellectual wattage on a slow day (not just me; I could probably name dozens that I follow online) as ignoramuses; smearing the unemployed, the menially employed, and the marginally employed (again, not just me; in this case, millions) as wastrels; and ensconcing themselves as an unaccountable overclass in the name of meritocracy. I’ve seen claims that Fallon makes six figures for quixotically misdirecting the Democratic Party with his dumbass conflation of Alpharetta with the entire United States. The Dunkin’ Doorman is worth more to society than that retard.

It isn’t just that the Democratic establishment high-hats its intellectual superiors, e.g., laymen who notice that GA-06 is hella rich and the rest of America isn’t. They spent something like $30 million on Jon Ossoff and wouldn’t even give James Thompson or Rob Quist money for mailers. That isn’t incompetence; it’s fin-dom by omission. Mother is displeased. Abuela must punish the prodigal by disinheritance, but Jon, he’s a good boy, so he shall be given the entire estate. It’s Agatha Christie as reinterpreted by Megan McArdle.

This is our main left-wing party.

The two parties spent a combined $50m in a pissing match for a single House seat in Chrisley Country. What the hell did the Democrats think they were going to accomplish there? I had distant family in Alpharetta because a cousin married a guy who flew the big metal for Delta. Certain elements must not care for the neighborhoods closer than half an hour beyond the far end of the MARTA system. No, I’m not trying to dogpile Southerners for being racists. GA-06 has a significant black minority, although a small one for the Deep South. There are enough Latinos in suburban Atlanta for a beefy white police chief to walk down the Buford Highway pleading with constituents who just got off the bus to cross somewhere safer. On the other hand, the main takeaway from Chrisley Knows Best is that it’s past time for Summer Benton to choke a bitch. (Have at it, Hockenberry.) The McMansion vote isn’t living up there out of an abiding love of Whitey. They aren’t looking to break bread with the salty crackers. As they say down by the Chattahoochee, it’s a clay-ass thang.

Atlanta isn’t the only metropolis that has a problem with clay ass, although for a family that has a TV show for the sole purpose of showing off its own, the Chrisleys sure have none. Benton, you copy? I forgot to mention that the “Who the hell is Whitehead?” case involved an abandoned apartment complex sort of down towards the airport, in an area where my relatives must not have considered moving. It was the wrong kind of community, but not just because it was the wrong Community. Atlanta’s black middle class didn’t seem eager to live there, and a fancy bitch in Alpharetta certainly has no interest in dirtying herself in a neighborhood of mobile (sic) cracker shacks.

If we assume that the Atlanta metroplex is a microcosm of the United States, maybe one Congressional district in five is like GA-06. By law, one district out of 435 nationally is GA-06. There was no strategic purpose for the Democrats to dump $30m down that hole, but it was a form of therapeutic hippie-punching for shitheads who were still sore about the Bern and the Donald, a good way to show Rob Quist who was boss. It was also a good excuse to slander Po’ Whitey. Check it, there’s brown and yellow and black folk in the Sixth now, and everyone’s all educated, unlike the troglodyte racists in the rest of Georgia. This didn’t explain what political worldview would inspire a Brahmin Indian cardiologist not to vote Republican. 100% of the black 13% or whatever of the electorate is still only 13%, because Wow Much Mathematix. The Democrats expect African-Americans to vote for them. Is it because they’re black? Around Atlanta, a growing part of the black middle class is actually from Africa. Would a Nigerian orthopod be any less inclined to vote for Tom Price than Tom Price? The Democrats are working through this thing with shitty math and shitty sociology. If political science is actually a science, it isn’t in their hands.

As Lambert Strether likes to say, the Democrats are discovering that Republican voters prefer hardcore Republicans to softcore Republicans. Or maybe they aren’t discovering it; they may actually be that dense. They ran a centrist triangulator with a Milton Street-level commitment to residency in his own district but without Milton Street’s honesty about where he lays down his head, threw another of their Hail-Mary passes to their theoretically adequate ramshackle coalition of college fuckheads and racially denominated client bases, and then they choked. This toff told them to go campaigning in Panera, and then journalists discovered, to no sensible person’s surprise, that working-class black voters who weren’t all dead set against turning out were actually down at Burger King and had abandoned Panera to #TCOT.

But Burger King is gross. Like the proles who eat there, amirite? This is how petty the Democratic establishment is. This is how precious. Panera is their safe space. They just haven’t gotten around to accepting that the Alpharettans who have the money to darken (nay, greatly lighten) its doors have a reactionary highbrow politics suitable for the country club, not a mealymouthed posh woke politics suitable for quizzo night in Adams Morgan. Perhaps they are just at an early stage of their grieving. They still want brown to stick around out of some sense of political inertia and umpteenth-generation feeling of gratitude to the Democrats for nurturing civil rights leaders including LBJ (the Civil Rights Act) and Bill Clinton (Ricky Ray Rector). They want to cobble their racial subalterns together with just enough woke yuppies to form a critical mass, on the apparent belief that racial love for their august party will surely convince fast food workers to make common cause with hospital executives who would sooner have them live under a freeway overpass than share a bit of the wealth.

This ain’t no You Pick Two, cracka.

Doing something right for a change

In this case, what I did right was coming back east on the next thing to a whim two or three weeks before the start of the blueberry season. I made a similar trip last summer because I was headed for flat broke in a hurry, and the result was that I missed all but two weeks of the berry season without accomplishing anything but the minimally adequate replenishment of my short-term savings and some day tourism. It sucked, mostly, but I could see shit for options.

Some still wonder why young people today are so pessimistic and jaded and hesitant. My experiences last summer are a useful example. I had to skip out on most of a seasonal job that I love on account of true financial necessity (as in less than a week from ending up in a rescue mission), and the seasonal jobs anywhere near my parents’ place simply didn’t look worth pursuing. It was a pretty damn pleasant visit on the whole, both for the month or so that my parents were there and for the two and a half weeks while they were traveling in Europe, and I didn’t resent their nicer travel habits a bit even though I was doing goofy shit like eating nothing but grilled romaine with Caesar dressing and a bag of cherries for breakfast at noon in an empty house, but from any broader perspective than the upcoming month and my own short- to medium-term solvency, it just didn’t make any sense.

I ended up quasi-committing, then bailing, on a pushy invitation from the Insurance Schmuck to come get drunk with a number of our fellow white boys around the Inner Harbor on the weekend immediately after one of the Freddy Gray acquittals, and explaining myself in a series of impulsive Facebook rants. This was the one bleak episode I recall from that trip, and it didn’t last for more than 48 hours or so. I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on rail fare just to show up exhausted for a night or two of over-the-top horseshit with a group that I was afraid was about to recklessly stumble into hot summer riots in one of the most restive cities in the country. It scared me that these guys were going to Baltimore at all in the midst of the Freddy Gray troubles: I was in no way expecting the police to hold the line around the ghettos, not because I thought that they’d screw around or deliberately botch the riot control but because public feeling on the streets seemed to be on the verge of getting completely out of anyone’s control, police or otherwise. I was getting an unshakable, deadly serious Bonfire of the Vanities feeling, and it didn’t seem to register with the other guys that maybe it wasn’t a good time to yuppie it up in Ball’mer. Consequently, I was relieved to learn afterwards that none of them had come to harm, and for that matter that the protests following that acquittal hadn’t even risen to the level of significant vandalism. I’d been on edge, waiting for the city to hit a flashpoint sending racially inflamed mobs surging through the Cool Change District, in contravention of #yachtlife, if not of life and limb in general, and hoping that the whole thing would simmer down until the guys had gotten the fuck out of Dodge.

After that, I think I realized that it was better to be kind of bored than to put on a Lacoste shirt and caterwaul into an American Rio de Janeiro on a beautiful day for a race riot. What’s that, Mr. Caray? No, I don’t think that’s how the aggrieved youth elements were planning to use a bat, and even though Baltimore’s in the American League, I’m pretty sure that crew is too open-sourced to designate a hitter. Dem Cubs, tho. Sometimes one has to #FlyTheW just because one didn’t come within three hundred miles of Camden Yards on an inauspicious weekend to #RaceTogether. Hell, even on the best weekends they fuck up the crab. Dunkin’ Donuts didn’t even run out of everything bagels on me last summer. #WINNING.

This summer, my finances are dramatically better and my parents have resolved the bullshit sources of a number of our fruitless arguments. My dad cosigned on a credit card for me, which came through after nearly a month of nailbiting delay triggered by poor guidance from the branch clerk who guided us through the initial application and aggravated by the whiny, combative customer service (sic) dipshit we drew on our first complaint call. My parents are now tentatively planning to buy a new car for my mom’s use and keep the old Civic that she’s currently driving for my use when I’m back east. Between that and what I assume is my ability to reliably rent a car on my own because I have a credit card now, I’ll have two options for not having to borrow one of their cars or bum a ride from them when I’m back here. That’s a lot better than no options and eruptions of back-and-forth yelling when I suggest spending on a second clunker a tenth or less of what they’ve spent on that fucking pontoon boat. My having spent less on the Focus that I bought earlier this year than my parents and Farmers (what up, Skoda) gave me to replace Super Civic means both that I have a cushion and that I don’t get bent out of shape when my dad says something like, oh good, that means we don’t have to give you the money we need for our new dock. Against the odds, that’s fewer words than he used to explain this situation, which is still a bit whatthefuckular. But mainly I’m just trying to survive here, and not spending $13,000 on a nearly new Fit over the winter is a key reason why I’m not circling the financial drain again. The money and the cash, I welcome it, and because I also steward it, I have it.

Poverty isn’t just in horses; it’s also in boats. The Adirondacks have both, and I assume Gerry Rundel knows about both. Whatever Fish Man was catching prior to 2007, it was sure better than any seafood I’d expect a Marylander to advertise. Remember, White Lives Matter, too. Mind you, I don’t necessarily mean poverty for the boat owner; it might be my poverty instead, hence my extended trip back east last summer. This year, on the other hand, there’s actually enough to go around for a while in spite of that fucking dumbass money pit of a boat and its choking outboard motor. I’m not about to don Vineyard Vines (surprisingly many such cases on my way through Chicago the other day) and make thoughtless comments about how I don’t really care about money (Bonaroo doesn’t pay for itself), but I’m also not about to be as chickenshit on the internet as I am in real life before FIRE sector blowhards who brag about how they eat what they kill. In meatspace I must either make peace with them or be a hero and bait them into shouting matches because there’s no diplomatic way to burst their bubbles. I’ve never needed a fucking Honor Dinner to pick blueberries exclusively at piece rate.

It’s like a commission, but one that no way in hell will cover your rent on its own. Cousin Gigolo might go to an Honor Dinner just for the free eats, but I’d demand to be paid like a proper manwhore, because that’s affective labor. My version of the real world can’t be any less valid than the version cherished by people who think that angling for the frontmost row possible at an Honor Dinner isn’t mortifying. That’s like, oh, Jesus, which among us shall sit at the Father’s left hand, left and right being zero-sum and all, but for the most dumbass idolaters imaginable. These fuckers would worship Willy Loman if they were told that he had the best Midwest Region sales numbers for the quarter. I’m not kidding. That’s how idiotic they are before the successful. At least the golden calf could be melted down into something useful, like dental fillings.

This is one of the crowds that most strongly insinuates my failure to live in the real world and its own superior character for being makers, not takers. The conversion of the last holdouts among them to the Romney 53% Club is inhibited mainly by their Clurban social liberalism and the enduring affliction of Hillary Clinton on the Democratic Party. While we’re back on the subject, fuck the Democratic Party. *Rahm readies the knife* DIE! DIE! Of course, when he actually gets innocents killed, it’s called “policy.” RAHM SHANTI RAHM HARE HARE. And, as always, a belated cold Chicago morning to you and yours, no matter how drippingly gross and not windy enough it was over the weekend. FIRE sector employees made that? They earned that? Bullshit. They dindu nundat. Me, I dindu nuffin last summer besides pick about 375 pounds of blueberries, but as I mentioned, the piece rate isn’t the best, so not everyone in a business like that can afford to work for a living. I give thanks that I sometimes can.

Winner: Reality

One has to wonder how some of these names are even possible, how, as they say these days, any of this can be a thing: the former Bruce Jenner, inevitably known to Willie Brown’s street people as “a trans-Jenner!”; Rachel Dolezal, the impressively white (and very White) leader of Spokane’s black Community, which one might expect to exist, or which one might not, but which one certainly wouldn’t expect to see under the leadership of the most powerfully Germanoslavic-looking woman ever to culturally appropriate a cobbled-together West African nom de guerre, a spray-on-tan, and whitey dreads: to wit, a trans-Rachel; an intractably histrionic bull dyke with the most impossibly bad fashion sense enrapturing tens of millions of fools of her own making with impossibly ridiculous driveling nonsense, and doing so under (and very much in) the name of Degeneres, E.

More newsworthy things have happened in Spokane since its founding, but to judge from the trans-racially trans-Rachel shit, the city has finally come to the end of a slow news century. It’s been written that there are many lawyers named Lauren or Lawrence and many dentists named Denise or Dennis. I have no idea whether this is actually the case, since I recall that it was written by David Brooks; meet me at the Applebee’s salad bar, where we shall all be eatin’ good in the deracinated neighborhood. Is any of this real? Is there some surreal cosmic force driving the appearance of these uncanny characters in the public sphere? Are they crisis actors in some elaborately staged hoax? Is someone making all this shit up?

We live in awfully strange times. Many my age, give or take, look back wistfully on the nineties as a simpler, less confusing, more carefree time. Our nineties weren’t gay, but Barney the Dinosaur sure was. For the life of me, I cannot remember where I was when I heard that Kurt Cobain had died, or if I even knew who the hell Cobain was before the lake took him. I do remember where I was when I learned that Tim Russert, unbeknownst to both of us, had bequeathed his own tongue-tied failson on NBC: the Post Exchange at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. #TheMoreYouKnow, bitches. I remember where I was for quite a few things. Few of them, as it happens, were Seinfeld episodes. Maybe it was just my young age, but at the time I found Seinfeld incomprehensibly dry. When I watch bits of the reruns these days, I realize that I underappreciated the show in my childhood and consequently what a total embarrassment Jerry Seinfeld’s standup career is.

Seriously bad shit was going down in the world back then, and some of it was even going down in the United States, but the middle-class Americans who spoke on behalf of all normies were supposedly sheltered from it, not living in Waco and all, and so were able to enjoy nightly half-hour meta-jokes about profoundly frivolous New Yorkers with absolutely no work ethic, ironically played by actors with the powerful work ethics needed to show up consistently for high-volume network television productions, and ones in which they didn’t just play themselves like that sloppy failson bastard Charlie Sheen. Grab a beer and relive with me these glory days, back when Michael Richards had yet to turn from a harmless weirdo with the strongest play ethic on the Eastern Seaboard into an orator of racial screeds fit for the San Diego Trolley, or don’t; beer is too damn expensive for my downwardly mobile ass.

I lived through the nineties, and I did so as lucidly as anyone could have at my age. I remember watching the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings on live daytime television while I was preparing to go on some weekend camping bullshit in Foothill Park. All I could really tell at the time was that the grown-ups found it transfixingly seedy for reasons that probably didn’t reflect too kindly on their maturity; I had yet to be trained in sexual harassment by the VA’s Thomas-approved training video with the dirtbag black Alistair Cooke cutting in every few minutes for a fireside chat. That shit reached me at a level that I understood. Maybe, like Britney Spears, I was not that innocent. Maybe I was an old soul or some shit, too jaded for a project as unserious as Seinfeld. I don’t know. With all my soul, however, This I Believe (TM):

Joey Buttafuoco is living poetry.

More seniors by the sea: spank you for your service

Maybe my cynicism comes at a personal cost. The turd is never the most popular thing in the punchbowl, and many have insinuated that I’d do better in life by being more positive, although few have had the courage to be forthright about it, since they know that I’d dress them down for being craven and brightsiders are not generally ones to enjoy being criticized for their chickenshittery.

On the other hand, positivity didn’t do jack for me back when I had more of it; I don’t count painfully tenuous reprieves measurable in months from the enduring hell of modern American downward mobility as victories, except maybe as the Pyrrhic kind, so I get the feeling that negative thinking or cynicism or whatever the hell else I may have that’s not safe for LinkedIn is actually the weakest link in the chain. And it’s not that I truly have no reason to be positive or hopeful: every time I cause a yuppie offense or discomfort by being poor (define however you fancy; the yuppie swarm certainly does), I count my loss as a victory and a gain. This is why I generally support sidewalk defecation in downtown San Diego. Pacific Beach, too. It forces yuppies to savor the same flavor from which they so assiduously shelter themselves at such great expense, to their own cash flow and to our civics. It shows them that a generational social climber from CB East may be able to buy her way into an apartment in PB (hella West), where the locals show more concern for the welfare of dogs than for that of their fellow citizens, but not permanent safety from, say, now, that didn’t come from a dog. It is praxis.

If I pretended that my country didn’t have a class problem, it would still have a glaring class problem. Some will win, some will lose, some are born to sing the blues, and others are born to use their eerie ability to mimic Steve Perry as their meal ticket out of the Philippines. That a band from the midcentury Bay Area put out a famous song semiconsciously advancing a Hindu nationalist’s resignation to the caste system is not necessarily as embarrassing as CCR. The aesthetics can always be worse, until they can’t anymore (e.g., John Fogerty’s solo career as an intellectual property defendant). So can the simultaneous inflation of the Mid-Peninsula real estate and cupcake retailing bubbles, theoretically.

Where, then, are the old-fashioned small-town values that will fix this crazy world? In your head, mostly. Small towns dumping their social services problems on big cities (or, in the Cougar’s annoying formulation, the big town) is as American as an apple pie on every mother’s dining room table and a dose of napalm on every VC hut cluster. The jungle: one had better run through it, old boy, not walk.

For certain demographics, running, not walking, away from small towns is a similarly good idea. There are, in fact, victims in these political economies. Many of them treat the poor like shit, for one thing, and they’re terrible to political dissidents. The meme that small towns are too wholesome even to carelessly fail anyone is as pernicious as it is absurd, but it has impressive staying power. No one believes such a thing about San Francisco for a hot second, but there’s no shortage of people who construe Norman Rockwell as a news photographer for every cow town rag in the land.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Curry County appears to be a product of demographic cleansing. It’s basically a matter of public record that Del Norte County maintains itself in the opposite fashion, by keeping a couple thousand of the most violent and troubled men more or less or working age in an exceptionally bad and very expensive state prison. That’s over two thousand jailbirds plus their keepers in a county of depopulating county of fewer than thirty thousand. Curry County’s population is growing, but mainly from infusions of honor: its 65+ population went from 28% to 32.1% from 2010 to 2015. Brookings and Gold Beach are tidy, pleasant towns, but I can’t believe that they magically got that way without any social services disincentives when Crescent City is such a mess and Eureka is a socioeconomic dumpster fire. The Census Bureau indicates very few infants and toddlers in Curry County, so the golden oldies didn’t move there to reciprocally honor their birthright citizen grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but it was awfully dumb of me to assume that these Boomers have any to thus honor in the first place. Not many under 18, either, but over 65? Many such cases!

It’s a categorical error, then, to assume that we’re talking about an organic community. In addition to the citizenship of the elderly (who do vote, so maybe it’s just another constituent service), in Curry County WE HONOR VETERANS. A number of counties in Southern Oregon, some of them with local governments that are run on a shoestring that’s frayed to the breaking point, have commissioned such road signs at their county lines instead of paying for actual government services. Maybe the Vietnam-era veterans’ activists wanted that more than they wanted a public library; the noise about Nam certainly comes from a subset that makes the whole lot of them sound like the Pettiest Generation. Let me tell you  about my trauma. I don’t need a list to tell any of you about how often I sleep in my car, but some of them need lists of symptoms for their periodic disability pension reviews, just for reference in the course of describing their own psychological states.

They’re really into Memorial Day in on the Wild Rivers Coast, so much so that the parade in Brookings cut off access to Fred Meyer from 101. Great job keeping the homeless from our coffee, there. I ended up taking a detour on, I shit ye not, Easy Street and going to Harbor to finish drying the previous night’s laundry before coming back in past some of the most hellacious oncoming traffic I’ve ever seen in a town of that size. In Capitalist America, parade rains on YOU! I know, I’m glassing everyone with my mug of bitter again, but I have a point here. None of that shit keeps me out of unbelievably weird and unhealthy socioeconomic situations. Joe Dirtbag is a pretty significant local civic poobah, but that never stopped him from bringing Lady Pisspan, Captain Flimflam, and Pot-o-Shit Friend onto his property instead of a toilet. If I wrote to the city council about his behavior and the condition of his farm, they’d immediately know who he is. I’ve seen civic and business leaders behave in ways that are absolutely execrable. I don’t project their bad behavior onto all civic and business leaders, but I have to assume that I can extrapolate some of it. Likewise, one might assume, based on all the ostentatious honor and thank-yous for their service and the like that are ritually shown to veterans that the United States consistently provides top-notch housing and medical care to veterans in need. In point of fact, it’s less trouble and more fun to organize a fighter jet flyover from Kingsley Field than to deal with the chronic scandalous mess that is the VA. Like Crystal Harris, we quite enjoy fun stuff. Unlike Crystal Harris, some of us don’t ever have anyone as thoughtful as Hugh Hefner around to maybe talk some half-sense into us.

What we do have, if we’re in Curry County, whether we’re of it or not, is KURY-FM, with its afternoon host intoning at length about how Memorial Day is “the reason for the season.” Dude seems to think that there would not be any sort of seasonal celebration of the start of summer absent America’s endlessly proliferating war dead. I don’t even feel comfortable with spiritually deracinated holidays, so I can’t be the only one the fucker’s lost with his sonorous piety. He also wants homeowners to call the Brookings Police or the Curry County Sheriff, at the numbers he reads out on air, if they see, say, a “meth-looking dude” prowling around their backyards, as if alert neighbors wouldn’t spontaneously call the police about obvious prowlers who appear to be high on hard drugs. It’s always nice to have a community radio station that doubles as a broadcast version of Nextdoor, since it’s unimaginable that such a spirit of neighborly vigilance would never mutate into hostile paranoia abusing state power to infringe on the civil liberties of people who truly dindu nuffin.

My favorite civic bullshit this weekend was probably the “Celebrating Volunteerism” newspaper extra. LOL. Love too promote volunteerism as a civic panacea in a county whose economy is based on interstate pension transfers from CalPERS and the Social Security Administration. Also love too travel in a county with such a strong volunteer spirit that it can’t keep its sheriff’s substations open during normal weekday business hours. There are local governments in Southwest Oregon that are deteriorating towards scopes of service worthy of early postwar Somalia. I realize that the HBD creeps will get their panties into a knot about how I’m comparing a Whitey Rez to the Heart of Darkness, but there’s no way in hell these counties aren’t socializing undisclosed costs onto state, federal, and out-of-area local governments. Douglas County has a particularly entertaining version of local self-reliance that revolves around rejecting tax levies by referendum because everyone expected the feds to keep paying the county a shitload of timber royalties for its public lands, even when the industry basically shoots its wad and the royalties consequently dry up. Curry County has dealt with reduced federal timber royalties of its own in recent decades, but for geographical and demographic reasons it’s had an easier time driving out its poors, or maybe more accurately swamping them with affluent retirees.

One thing that can be said for California’s fee-entrapment form of state government in this context is that it at least produces some government revenue, which is theoretically available for something besides Highway Patrol salaries. Josephine County has gone to the opposite extreme by running out of money to run its jail (partly due to a failed ballot levy) and not fielding police night watches.  It’s a shitty tradeoff, though: CHP saturation patrols that produce minimum court clearance fees of $25 over $4 worth of burned-out license plate bulbs versus needing a cop in an emergency and hearing the smooth sound of radio silence coming down on the night shift (on the night shift).

Toqueville commented on Americans’ over-the-top interest in voluntary organizations during his grand tour in the Era of Good Feeling. He also commented on country innkeepers and restaurateurs who charged so much for so little that they were the next thing to crooks, so for a people with so little in the way of personal business scruples we sure had a lot of scruples about the private morals of our neighbors. Toqueville caught the leading edge of the (Orwellianly misnamed) temperance movement and the proliferation of organized teetotalers’ societies that it inspired, and he questioned why a man couldn’t quietly take his water by his hearth instead of making a big public spectacle of his renunciation of alcohol. That’s my question, too. You wouldn’t believe the amount of seltzer water I drink in the privacy of my own car unless you saw the shambolic piles of empty cans strewn about in the passenger foot well. Left to my own devices, I hardly touch alcohol in any form. I do not, however, need a busybody to convict me of the need to do something that I’m doing already because it’s an order of magnitude cheaper than decent beer and significantly cheaper even than garbage like PBR, and I certainly don’t need a fucking meeting.

As an excellent bumper sticker puts it, “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings.” If I had to choose, I’d take a society of drunks, especially ones who sober up before operating heavy equipment. Drunks are less obnoxious and more prone to mind their own business. I don’t need some timid authoritarian cult follower trying to cure my phantom drinking problem because I unwisely mentioned that I used to drink a lot, years ago. AA combines the meddlesomeness of a camp revival with the administrative pointlessness of a student government meeting. I’d have to be lusher than the Hamakua Coast to even think about getting involved with that bullshit.

In Curry County, they’re able to do Robert’s Rules of Order dozens of times over for meetings to organize petty fundraisers, but they can’t find anyone to staff the sheriff’s substation in Harbor because, just a hunch, they’re too cheap to pay anyone for the trouble. I’m past the point where I’d sit on my ass there for free all day. They’ve got a sign on the door telling people with probation appointments to knock loudly if no one answers. That’s one case where, if you’re lucky, the door will not be answered.

A county government that can’t figure out how to secure basic funding from its own constituents wants its petty criminal element to look gift horses in the mouth on demand. What a fine bunch. They might think of tweaker burglary as social services taxation by other means. I can’t feel too bad for an electorate that complains about getting the Wild West when it refuses to pay for anything more than the Wild West.

Conspiratorial thoughts on the Flint water crisis

#PureMichigan has to be the most grotesquely scandalous marketing slogan I’ve seen in my adult life. That’s how I feel about it as an outsider who, excluding an hour driving through White Pigeon and Sturgis for the sole purpose of a token visit so that I could say I’d been there and a couple of trips through the Detroit Airport, has meaningfully visited Michigan exactly once on a trip lasting not quite a week. I’ve got family and friends there now, so if their water supplies were being willfully poisoned by their governments, I’d want their officials to be jailed without bail and threatened, at least, with the Kwame Kilpatrick treatment.

I can also imagine easily enough how I’d feel if California (remember, I lives here; can I come in?) carried on with such a bald-faced lie of a slogan while refusing to deal with a public health and safety crisis of that magnitude. The San Francisco water supply–Hetch Hetchy, Pulgas Water Temple, and all–wouldn’t be able to compensate for a Flint-grade water poisoning disaster in, say, the Gateway Cities. Scandals like that taint entire states. They taint entire nations. California has some ongoing contamination-derived public health scandals, none of which has made the news in the same dramatic fashion as Flint. I’ve followed these when I’ve heard about them in the news, but they don’t make the news often, and I can’t say exactly why. Outrage fatigue is probably a factor. Postindustrial Michigan also exerts a mythic attraction over a certain swath of reporters and disaster pornographers (not mutually exclusive) that extantly industrial California does not. The Michael Moore factor, a century-plus of Big Three mother ship history, and Wow Much Musix certainly do more for the mythic allure of Michigan than Toto has ever done by coming out of the San Fernando Valley at a time when the Valley, too, had operational car assembly lines. My Civic was assembled in Waterloo: the city in Ontario, not the smash Abba hit. You may know even less about the Ontario music scene than I do as a consequence of having read too damn much about Jian Ghomeshi.

Still, the Flint water crisis has not been exaggerated. If anything, it has been chronically underplayed in the mainstream US press, which has spent most of the duration of the crisis jumping distractedly to other, mostly less consequential, stories, frankly with all the attention span of a coked-up Donald Trump. So it’s worth asking what in the freshly toxic hell is really going on in Flint. The expense and the logistics of replacing the contaminated pipework and replumbing the system into the Detroit Water Works, which supplied it until Rick Snyder’s emergency municipal manager infamously screwed the pooch with the river water, would be significant but in no way prohibitive for the federal government. We’re able to bomb the shit out of Syria, funnel God knows how much materiel to Saudi Arabia for its national pulverization campaign against Yemen, and keep sticking our national dick into every other Middle Eastern hornet’s nest, but we can’t fix a life-threateningly bad public water supply for one of our own cities of about a hundred thousand residents. This is unbelievably obscene.

There have been a number of comments at Naked Capitalism about how Barack Obama could have mobilized the US Army Corps of Engineers to fix the Flint water system but oddly, or not (as they say over there), didn’t. The dereliction of duty by the Michigan state government towards Flint is legendary, and now the formerly insurgent mayor, Karen Weaver, appears to be running interference for agencies that are refusing to fix her city’s water works at a time when they’re conspiring to foreclose on residents for unpaid water bills. Selling people a poisonous product and then stealing their houses when they refuse to pay for it is an exceptionally depraved and brazen business practice. In better regulated businesses it would get a company sued into liquidation and its owners and operators criminally prosecuted for fraud.

There are no intrinsic benefits to chronically poisoning the water works in a city of a hundred thousand, riling up its citizens by extorting them with bills for the infrastructure that they refuse to fix, and leaving them and their children with a horrifying variety of short- and long-term health problems. That’s nothing but a fiscal, social, and civic crisis. There may, however, be long-term extrinsic merits.

To understand these, we need to think like psychopaths.

First, urban Southeastern Michigan contains a number of distressed real estate markets. Some of these, including much of Detroit, are severely distressed. Capital very much likes to buy low and sell high, and Detroit is a great place to buy low. So far Downtown, Midtown, and a very small handful of other neighborhoods have been successfully converted into something straddling the margins between Potemkin Villages, permanent white elephant exposition grounds (e..g, a dumbass downtown People Mover running in a useless loop around the urban core of a metro area whose only coordinated regional bus service is a single line operated into Canada by a Canadian local government), and organically functioning neighborhoods. A shitload of public and private money has been funneled to politically connected contractors for vanity projects, and the city continues to implode because its police can’t reliably respond to emergency calls within an hour and store their evidence and case records in falling-down mold traps.

There’s money to be made from these disasters. It may not be honest money, but as future Texan Kwame Kilpatrick would have agreed, it’s money. Coordinating an official failure to repair the most notoriously toxic water system in the United States would be a great way to tank the local housing market and buy the bottom. It may really just be a convoluted shorting strategy. I have no way to know any of this, and I haven’t heard any gossip to this effect, but it’s completely plausible. Another comment that I saw at Naked Capitalism noted that no billionaire has stepped up to buy Flint a new water system. It’s hard not to see why not: billionaires live to use their money as leverage over the rest of us. We drink the Kool-Aid if we think otherwise. Modesty and frugality aren’t why they take their grandchildren out to Dairy Queen only once a month (what up, Warren); it’s pathological stinginess by way of catfishing the public. At least the Omaha fuckhead mostly plays investor roulette with railroads and shit instead of dicking around with school systems for megalomaniacal shits and giggles. Betsy DeVos isn’t actually worse than Bill and Melinda Gates here; she’s just more reviled by the hip set. Oh, and profit: they have the morality of a cancer.

What would any of these bottomfeeders do with the ruins of Flint? Hell if I know. They’ll think of something. No. They’ve already thought of something. It will in no way serve any conceivable public interest, but that’s not the point.

It’s occurred to me that the Flint water crisis may be part of a more coordinated depopulation scheme, but if it is, it’s an awfully poorly thought-out and inefficient one. Then again, we (sic) have learned nothing from our national vegetable gardens at Walter Reed and so forth, which make some rashes and leadheaded behavioral problems look like a summer walk in the park with Jian Ghomeshi and Lucy DeCoutere. Uh, how did that slip in there? The captain wanted to fuck his brains out (her words, not mine), but at least the good soldier (his words, not mine or hers) had some left as a consequence of not having been an actual soldier. Canada is next door to Michigan, for what good it might do anyone; we can ascertain by now that it isn’t pure, either.

Is the Flint disaster a scheme to impose mass infertility, either clinical or contraceptive? Maybe. We’re already dealing with official behavior that would have been unfathomably scandalous up until the day it came to pass, so the notion of a eugenic angle isn’t so much worse as it is novel. That can’t be the kind of environment that makes people confident for the future of their children. Let’s remember that our most famous baby boom, for what good it’s doing us today, took place in a time of great national confidence. For that matter, the Mormon breeders in the Napoleonic Mountain West live in their own geographical and temporal bubbles of good feeling, even if they derive some of their confidence from scams like Jamberry. Heh, I just said “confidence.” The actual effects of the Flint water crisis on local fertility will surely include the medical, social services, and criminal justice costs for a rising generation of impulsive retards, but again, we didn’t think through the costs of maintaining a bunch of national vegetable gardens before sending our youth off to our unjustifiable wars, either.

“We.” There’s an old Russian novel by that title, if I’m not mistaken.

Yeah, I was spitballing there, but I don’t think it was as crazy as it sounded. We’ve got an awful lot of dumbass policy, and it’s implemented by an awful lot of grandiose incompetents. These aren’t ones to consider the looming medical costs of a preventable generation of special needs children. Or, if they do, they’ve given their cronies in the medical industry the insider information and contracts that they’ll need to profit from the misery.

The bottled water industry is certainly profiting from this disaster. I wouldn’t count it out as a corrupting influence until it proves itself innocent. Then again, I profit greatly from the bottled water industry myself, not as a consumer or as a producer but as a redeemer. Chaka Can Chaka Can.

It’s bleeding obvious that multiple levels of officials are trying to destroy Flint. It’s just that it may be even more sordid than we can prove right now. If Kwame Kilpatrick atones by manning a chow line for the Army Corps when it shows up to finally replace the damn pipes, that’ll be more than Rick Snyder has ever done for their state. As things stand today, the fucker’s chargeable to you and me, just like the young, shall we say, leaders a couple hours upstate. You may not have pronounced that correctly, but I did.

Do I sound bad for making fun of kids who are getting leaded unto enduring behavioral and developmental problems? Well fuck me, I’m not the one using public policy to cause their inevitable conception and rearing. And I never advertised that I was any more tasteful than their current water supply. Most of you are still coming around here for Dubai Porta Potty. Then again, that involves being bodily shit on for a single weekend. We’re longhaulers on this side of the pond. If you don’t believe me, believe Pot-o-Shit Friend.

I have no idea why I think this, but it’s almost as if we’re part of the Third World.

Fyre Island: a schadenfreudetastic overseas overproduction of elites

Haven’t there been enough hot takes about the Fyre Festival clusterfuck already? Of course not.

The setting:

Great Exuma. (I’m sorry to hear that you have such a condition.)

The promise: 

Bitchin’ tunes performed beachside by some of today’s hippest musical acts before an audience of marriageable and eligible young people of a certain class in a certain decorously partial* state of undress, complemented by deluxe chartered transportation, real good eats, fine-ass crash pads, and opportunities for audiences with visiting gods from the extended Kardashian Pantheon.

*(The author did not mean to imply that any of this is not horseshit. I report; you decide. And many of you decide to read only Dubai Porta Potty, so there’s that.)

The reality: 

Conveniently absent entertainment acts/gods, soaking wet disaster relief tents, canceled charter flights, an unannounced lock-in in an airport terminal without air conditioning, and crappy cold sandwiches.

Plaintiffs’ complaint: 

Defendants conspired to communicate to create expectations of Instagrammable Fun Stuff fully in accordance with the Harris Standard.** Instead, they forced defendants to live like refugees on a vacation to the Bahamas, Madoff with their money, and fed them deficient forms of Sammich.

**As in Crystal.

Those three words, though. No, not the three that inspire soft rock emo acts to tendentious song because they cannot otherwise muster the courage to express their love to their love. Does that storytelling former horse friend have to be the Sheriff of the Bahamas now, too? Is it, as they always say, because he’s black? Maybe, if I were more culturally sensitive in these matters, or hadn’t done exceptionally no travel in Florida and the Caribbean for someone who spent his high school years as a junior member of the Pennsylvania haute bourgeoisie, I would understand that Grenada isn’t part of the Bahamas. Besides, si je me souviens correctement, Northside Juice was born in Montreal, which is as Canadian as repeatedly threatening to secede from the Confederation over pissant linguistic disputes. If that happened, what on earth would the Francosecesh do with one D. Russell Williams, formerly of Trenton, currently of Port-Cartier, and forever of his own interest in your daughter’s drawer full of drawers? Guess you’ll have to find someone else to maintenir le droit maintenant, mec.

That’s more than some of my prep school classmates remember from our French classes. It’s also more, I was told, more than some of them could remember of where they had changed planes on vacation the previous week.

Defendants’ response: 

“[I]t was NOT A SCAM!…. I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT….”

Dissenting victim impact statement: 

Yeah, it kinda sucked, but as a merely middle-class party crasher, I very much enjoyed watching the rich bitch about a bunch of petty shit. Verdict: #WINNING!

Governmental response: 

Significantly more diligence and competence from the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, an agency with a vague, general fiduciary responsibility to tourists visiting the Bahamas, than from the festival’s organizers, who had an explicit contractual responsibility to their guests to deliver on their promises barring unforeseeable acts of God, a responsibility that is enforceable in US and Bahamian courts.

Precedents in musical history: 

Jim Morrison inciting his audience to a punk-on-pork riot in Hot Summer Chicago, then retreating backstage and fleeing through a private back door (mmm, mmm, mmm, lookin’ out mah….); The Rolling Stones’ Saigon-style aerial evacuation from Altamont in the face of the Hell’s Angels; any shitty, overpriced nightclub with a half-assed HVAC system and no kitchen.

Aggravating factors: 

Kendall Jenner took undisclosed payments well into the six figures to promote the Fyre Festival, causing it to materialize out of thin air as a cultural phenomenon. This was a violation of FCC regulations requiring the disclosure of paid content on electronic media, and it was done under the auspices of a commercial festival that was mismanaged to the point of wholesale fraud. If she does federal time, even in pretrial detention, for this scam (which was NOT A SCAM!), we’ll know that there’s still, or again, something like the rule of law in the United States. Or maybe in the Bahamas. The Bahamian authorities can always file extradition papers against Kendall Jenner, Ja Rule, and their crew once they’ve filed indictments, and a chartered international Con Air flight might do these fuckers some good.

Then there’s the sandwich thing. Someone took the time to make and box shitty sandwiches by the hundreds in the midst of a logistical crisis affecting hundreds of visitors. Any wildfire food service contractor can have a decent hot chow line up and running within a matter of hours of touchdown on site. So could many amateur church disaster response operations. The Fyre Festival took place on a site adjacent to a Sandals Resort. If that joint didn’t have enough spare kitchen capacity and staff to do a hot catering job on short notice for a market-rate fee, I’m Paul Prudhomme.

Mitigating factors: 

I’ve taken the Reno bus system to gas stations and eaten better than that. Get your white ass into Maverik before eight in the evening and you can procure world-class sammich, too. Or after eight, depending on what the specific store has in stock. It’s open all night long.

The point is, these festivalgoers were idiots. We had some preppy douchebag from Raleigh carrying a generationally proliferating diversity of Roman numerals behind his surname and complaining about how he’d paid too much for some sandwiches, and meanwhile I’m over here, warm homeless, eating a hundred times better for eight dollars a meal, if I’m a glutton who gets the damn Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cookie, too, at a convenience store chain that I can reach on a bus through skid row with a $3.75 prepaid day pass. What a fucking dumbass. Not me, of course; that WASP shithead from Raleigh.

I’ve been told that I’d love Burning Man, for that matter. What absolute nonsense. I might as well pick up some thugs and losers from the rescue mission, go roll around in the dirt somewhere out near Fernley all weekend, like a fucking animal, and then throw a wad of twenties into the Truckee River. Can it just be that I live too close to the edge these days to be taken with a stone-idiotic latter-day potlatch for White People? Burning Man is one of the stupidest goddamned things I’ve heard of in my life. Lately it’s had class divisions and resentments on account of luxury tents. Great: techdicks pulling Muammar Qaddafi shit and riling up a bunch of lesser assholes who still have the money to LARP that Sudan refugee camp lifestyle and then bitch about how down-to-earth and oppressed they are.

Why does the Air Force never test-bomb the parts of the desert that could use a good nuking? To Burn Man: It’s a Barbecue Book.

Of course there’s always a barely hidden sexual purpose to these festivals. They may not be breeding grounds, exactly, or courtship grounds in any proper sense, but they have an unmistakable matchmaking purpose. They unite people of reproductive age who are presumably sexually fit and compatible under the auspices of approved chaperone organizations that tacitly promise to keep out the riffraff and fuglies. The idea here is that if you get raped, it’ll be a proper Brock Turner rape, not the ineffectual ministrations of some hopeless dweeb, or if you’re a dude, you won’t be pawed by homely bitches with weak social skills all weekend. *Most Maggie Smith Voice* What is a “week-end?” No, come to think of it, it’s more about class than looks, and when it’s about looks, it’s about looks that reinforce the same poisonous class expectations as ever. The young men at these festivals would sooner be expected to marry some none-too-pretty debutante mean girl from a good family (sic, probably) in Laguna Niguel or Alpharetta than dilute the family fortune with the smoking hot, genuinely down-to-earth maid’s daughter from Boyle Heights or trysts with some working girl from the Pork-n-Beans. I don’t know much about Florida, but what I do maybe I shouldn’t. At least I know when I’ve changed planes in Miami.

These dumbass festivals just pretend to be countercultural and subversive. Hell, the Fyre Festival was hardly even countercultural, given how thoroughly celebrity bullshit has crowded out square middle-class values in the mass mind. Surely the potential upsides to currying favor with Ja Rule and the Kardashians is greater than the upside of extra shifts doing whatever the fuck it is that the scions of the Roman numeral set in Raleigh do for a purported living. Plus one would be hanging out with the kind of people who also have enough disposable income to fly overseas in the hope of chilling with Kendall Jenner. Write it off as a networking expense, brah.

I’m more subversive than that by taking the bus. I’m more subversive than that by chatting with bums at Starbucks. There isn’t any money to be hustled out of my listening to Psychotarp’s nonsense for half an hour straight or giving the RTC another $3.75, though. For that matter, I don’t think most of the hookers I’ve hired are being shaken down by organized crime to any bothersome extent, which I can’t say about the Fyre Festival’s attendees. Some of them (the hookers, not the idiots with the case of Exuma) I know for the next thing to a fact are not being shaken down, and I’m including among these an admitted junkie and a lady with a $300-a-month lease on a Mini Cooper. I can’t stop the small businesswomen I support from supporting expensive forms of big business. For that matter, I’m not the kind of grandiose prick who thinks he should.

It isn’t necessarily that hard to cut off the racketeers. All it takes is the wherewithal to find businesses that aren’t bloody obvious rackets and do business with them instead. Thing is, you don’t get the social proof that comes with the popular insiders’ rackets that way. It’s just you and some hooker, or you and some convenience store clerk and some Cheddarwurst. That may not be Germany’s Best Wurst, but I’ve had the latter, too, at the Heidelberg in Queensbury. Not that I know Cousin Gigolo and his landlady to be classy and/or solvent enough to put on the ritz and spend ten dollars apiece eating out. Uh, not that way. But at least he gets free rent out of the deal. Some of the other fuckwads above spent more on a single case of Great Exuma than Cousin Gigolo doesn’t spend on rent in two years.

The most appalling thing about the Fyre Festival is that these rich shitheads got taken over by other rich shitheads. The Dunkin’ Doorman may not deserve my coffee money, but he damn well deserves theirs.