The irredeemable

Aaron Hernandez’s death is an excellent opportunity for tasteless dark humor: “I heard he was out with a neck injury,” etc. ad nauseam, come the nausea when it may. For the most part, I approve of it. Morbid humor can be a cathartic agent and a useful, albeit indirect and subtle, meditation on our own mortality, which can be one hell of a demon to try to confront directly.

The particular circumstances of the Hernandez case make tasteless jokes about his death especially justifiable: he was, after all, a raging thug, a convicted murderer, and, in spite of his most recent acquittals, arguably a serial murderer. There are a great many Americans who do not belong in our prisons; Aaron Hernandez was not one of them. There was nothing that the state could do to protect society from that man other than to confine him to the best of its ability until he stopped being a threat to others, and absent the possibility of an utterly infirm old age that was decades into his future, if it was in his future at all (remember, he was exceptionally physically fit for a man of any age), he showed no prospect of reform. Most parole systems in the US, definitely including life without parole regimes, are unjustifiably merciless, but it would be reckless to grant a convict like Hernandez any form of release without extreme due diligence and caution. The guy didn’t just stumble into some bad circumstances and make some mistakes. He didn’t just get mixed up with the wrong crowd. By some accounts, he was a sociopath, and by most he was violently troubled to his core. A 25-year non-parole period (the statutory maximum in Canada) might have been enough to simmer his ass down, but we’d be fools to count on it. Most murderers have a low risk of recidivism, even by the standards of violent felons in general, but Hernandez wasn’t most murderers. In his short life at liberty, he showed himself to be a hyperrecidivist. We don’t want thugs like him getting all worked up and putting a gun to some poor schmuck’s head for no reason, just in case he feels like blowing some more brains out. Forget punishment or retribution; for everyone else’s safety, that animal needed to spend a damn long time in a cage.

Now comes the news that Aaron Hernandez has cut his own sentence short. I can’t blame him. It was the only form of mercy he could seek. This is a separate matter from whether he belonged in prison (he absolutely did). No amount of prison reform would have made it possible for the state to show him real mercy without putting the public at grave risk of injury and death. Any improvement of his quality of life that the Massachusetts prison system could have brought about would still have featured his confinement to a secure facility. He would still have been forced to live out his foreseeable life in an extremely small and confined world. This isn’t cause to be smug or self-righteous; it’s a necessary evil. Nothing else can be done safely with men such as him. A person might sincerely discern a call to minister precisely to men of his character, to offer the most hardened and lost some hope of repentance and redemption, however faint, and come away unable to fulfill this calling. From that perspective, it’s actually less tragic when dipshit women who get horny around trouble start pen pal relationships with Charles Manson; it’s still bad news, but at least they get some jollies from their efforts.

Is it too much to hope and pray that Aaron Hernandez finds the mercy that he sought through his suicide? The state protected its peaceable constituents from him for the remainder of his life, so its duty to us is done. Many people, especially in a society as shamelessly bloodthirsty as the United States, would have preferred that Hernandez be executed, often in some gruesome fashion whose very proposal indicates a deep psychic sickness tending towards depravity. The State of Massachusetts had the decency and the principle to deny the mob this selfish, coarsening satisfaction, and Hernandez’s last violent act, it seems, was a private act entirely against himself. The prison staff who tried to revive him and then had to deal with his remains when their efforts failed may sustain some psychological trauma, but their jobs force them to deal with the horrors of prison life as partial outsiders every day, and at least they have been spared the very real trauma that psychologically healthy people feel for having committed a homicide after taking part in executions.

Questions of what prison staff should to do prevent inmate suicide, especially on the part of lifers and others serving long sentences, are morally and practically trickier than they look at first glance from the outside. A corrections spokesman said that Hernandez would not have been housed in the unit where he hanged himself had he shown any signs of suicidal ideation or action. This sounds believable; many prisons do in fact take great care to watch for signs of suicide and put their visibly suicidal inmates on suicide watch. None of this changes the fact that they’re watching over inmates who are serving life without parole, or even just surreally long sentences for more or less harmless crimes, under a judicial regime almost entirely devoid of mercy. Suicide offers some of these inmates their only hope of release. It’s hard to scare them of eternal hell when they’re already living in it every day.

This is something that civilians, especially the ones who comment the loudest about all the bad things that should be done to criminals, consistently miss. They cannot fucking imagine what it’s like to be locked up in a prison for decades on end, looking at the same walls every fucking day, with no hope of release until either old age or death. It is inherently an extremely limiting environment. It is nothing like civilian life, except maybe for quadriplegics, the locked-in, or the very chronically bedridden. That some people truly need to be there for the protection of the rest of us doesn’t make prison anything but an abnormal and naturally evil environment. Nor does it mean that incarceration should be the first response for most crimes. It’s depraved to imprison people who aren’t truly dangerous, and it should come as no surprise that some of those who enter prison close to harmless are released in a state of hardened anger; just give a moment’s thought to the company that they’ve been forced to keep and the conditions in which they’ve been forced to keep it. No shit our prisons vomit out troubled recidivists.

Psychological interventions for lifers and longhaulers are questionable. Staff are forced to either ignore inmates because they can’t hope to do any good anyway or treat them under conditions that make their effective treatment impossible. In many cases it’s impossible to provide psychiatric care without violating the Hippocratic Oath. Many prisoners are suicidal because their continued survival in prison will inevitably do them grievous harm and they objectively have no other avenue of relief; staging psychiatric interventions against their wishes is a direct harm verging on torture. The political will to give prisoners real hope of real mercy is spotty (in spite of significant reforms, we’re alone among countries with elements of self-government and the rule of law for the grotesque excess of our penal system), so of course some of them take matters into their own hands one last time. Missionary assholes showing up with cheap, tone-deaf references to slavery and imprisonment as analogies for shit like porn habits don’t help things, either. Incarceration isn’t a necessary precondition for suicide, but it sure helps. Giving a desperate, suicidal person a reason to live is dangerously tricky in normal circumstances, and the circumstances in prison, as I’ve mentioned, are anything but normal. It’s bullshit to tell a man like Aaron Hernandez that it isn’t the Promised Land that’s waiting for him on the other side if only he puts the bedsheet around his neck and takes that last step. Anyone who has spent an entire life at liberty and says otherwise is as crazy about prison life as Psychotarp is about everything under the sun. As Darshan Singh (himself a fairly sick puppy) always said in his farewells to others, but not in his own, “God bless you. I am sending you to a better place than this.”

A few years ago, when Ariel Castro committed suicide in prison, Rod Dreher spat out a homily of American Conservatism (TM) in which he pronounced that he would have preferred that Mr. Castro had devoted his life to contemplation and repentance. Castro was the Cleveland bus driver who had kidnapped young women and held them hostage for years in his house, resulting in a 999-year prison sentence upon his conviction. He killed himself about a month after his transfer to state prison, greatly disappointing Rod Dreher. The American Conservative has an exceptionally civil commentariat, but Dreher’s posturing over this case annoyed the hell out of his normally cordial peanut gallery. At least one asked, more or less verbatim, “Why did you write that?” It was a good point, and not a troll job. (The American Conservative is one of the most flame-retardant publications on the internet.) A convict he had never met had just killed himself in Ohio, making the news only because he had already made the news for being a source of distress to damsels, and now this scold was showing up from Louisiana to chide the dear departed prisoner for being a moral coward. What the hell was it to him? Coming from Dreher, this bottomfeeding was especially rich, indicating that he had managed to complete adult catechesis as an Orthodox Christian and miss the part about praying for the salvation of the dead. Oops. Wow Much options Many freewill None penitence Omg st benedict Very confuse.

Dreher writes for a living. I scavenge deposit bottles for a living. Construe “living” however the hell you like, as long as Dreher’s is three or four orders of magnitude larger than mine currently is. Maybe an American could “conserve” some of his salary and remit it to me instead, since we’re writing about the same shit. Okay, not exactly; I’m not the one who got paid to argue that some infamous creep in Ohio did me bogus by refusing to pray his days away in his cell like a pre-Lutheran Martin Luther.

Admit it: you’re already missing our regular buddies Sauce Boss, Northside Juice, Raw Ginger, and Fish Man, and they’ve hardly been gone for a full screed. I certainly am. But at least I’m not getting my coffee from Sweet Melissa of the Maritimes. It’s free, and you don’t even have to ask her for it, but it comes at a cost. Nor am I doing life without parole for murder. Real pleasant, I know, but we would all do well to count what blessings we have, especially when Darshan Singh isn’t the one conferring them upon us.

Remembrance of things misplaced

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Diversity Drive? Well, shit, neighbor, I don’t know why I even asked, because I know full well how to get there myself. I’ve walked its entire length. It’s an immediate left turn off 101 on the way down from Waldport. I refer specifically to Diversity Drive in Yachats. As with Poo Poo Point, it’s a real place, and you can look it up if you don’t believe me. You can also look up the pronunciation of Yachats, which the locals will correct if you don’t because the missionaries or whoever first got the white people up in that motherfucker transliterated the local Indian language into a bunch of goofy shit having no relationship to normal (sic, mostly) English spelling conventions. Wow Much corpse of discovery Many pioneer None pronounceable Omg jason lee Very confuse.

The key thing to understand about Yachats is that it’s governed by the Society for the Prevention of Monty Robinson for Sheriff. Hence Diversity Drive, as opposed to diversity living on the drive. Or, as they say in Post-Soviet Canada, diversity drives YOU back into arrivals hall! Funny thing, it is also departures hall for one-way traveler! If you don’t have the energy to communicate to create the change you want to see in the world, perhaps you have the energy to communicate to create the taste you want to see: in my case, none whatsoever. I know, I know, that must have come as a terrible shock. Am I saying that Raw Ginger and Fish Man needed to be on a squad made up entirely of Village People as a precondition for their involvement in excessive force and perjury, eh? Of course not. Am I saying that I feel bad about preferentially pigsploiting this particular squad because it wasn’t pulled out of the usual box of crackers? Again, of course not. Is there any organization at all to my thinking? The night’s still young, so hell if I know. Much of Oregon politics is dictated by the Society for the Prevention of Monty Robinson for Sheriff. Hence not only Diversity Drive, the Amanda Trail, and the Ya’Xaik Trail (they’ll correct your pronunciation on that one, too), but also Dead Indian Memorial Road. A state that once took pride in the dereification of the red man now feels guilt, which it assuages by indulging in endless debate that it finally cuts short by spending a pile of money on new road signs specifying that the State now memorializes the dead Indian, instead of just naming a road after him. Glad we cleared that up.

What does any of this mean about popular sentiment in Oregon towards Indians? Those being questioned would not surprise me by correcting my language about Native Americans, proving my point. It’s a miracle that Kirk Siegler hasn’t been sent to Woodburn to meet Latinos who self-identify as Mexicans. The people who get bent out of shape over this shit never seem to be the ones hanging out with Indians. I knew a guy in school who had “GO SKINS” vanity plates on his car. That’s “skins” as in Redskins, the same team whose name Scott Simon is too woke to utter on the air. Dude with the Go Skins tags was a Nez Perce from Idaho. I got the strong sense that Indian pride was the only reason the Redskins had a fan base any farther afield than Glen Burnie, since I wasn’t aware of any other Redskins fans around me and never heard anyone saying anything like, “You know, they’re playing well.” This is why my head always spins when I hear other white people declare the Redskins name offensive to Indians. And what was the race of the minister who sternly advised me that the Hispanics I had just mentioned offhand found that term offensive because they’re Latinos? Hint: rhymes with the second syllable of “uptight.” Kirk Siegler reported the opposite cultural learning of Pueblo for make benefit glorious nation of Bougiekistan, so surely he is one of the great chroniclers of our age.

#TeshTips: Those who talk like this may not be talking to members of those races whose honor they so defend. Yachats, like many cities in Oregon, is an excellent Whitey Rancheria, a great place to find people whose reflectiveness is literally only skin-deep. Oregon has an embarrassing history of aggressive racial discrimination featuring especially bloody campaigns to exterminate its Indians and a racial covenant in its original state constitution barring the settlement of blacks. The latter, which has had no force of law for well over a century, has come to inspire lengthy woke thinkpieces about how Oregon is so hostile to the Community, what a scandal it is that Oregon is what to this day because it was officially white in its olden times, and so forth, notably coming from people who aren’t generally writing from any of the heavily black neighborhoods that they could find as nearby as the South Sound. They’re uncomfortable with natural law, but they also don’t really want the assertions of positive law that would forcibly integrate Oregon using newcomers who didn’t want to live there in the first place (nor do Oregon’s current black residents, who in fact exist, seem interested in such social engineering). The sermonizing about Oregon’s lack of brothers and sisters is just that. Wow Much lectures Such tendentious Omg jason lee Very annoy, I guess.

Yachats, for its part, is even whiter than Oregon as a whole. Go figure. Then again, minority neighborhoods so often feature visible poverty, and Yachats is all about coastal chic and shit. It’s reminiscent of White People in Santa Fe culturally appropriating Pueblo architecture from Indians who culturally appropriate the trailer and junkyard from the white man. May the circle be unbroken. That’s another community that’s eternally trying to prevent Monty Robinson for Sheriff, but let not your heart be troubled, its hinterlands are one of the best places in the Americas to be struck off your motorcycle by a drunk Indian whose oncoming Jeep just drifted into your lane.

I shouldn’t pick on Oregon so crudely. It isn’t the only state where farmland is paved over with streets bearing sick names like Harvest Drive. How you gonna get a harvest out of that, you dumbass? Statistically, innovation is not a primary goal or practice of American business, but it sure is a popular street name in business parks. The buses to Arden Fair stop, disgustingly, at the corner of Challenge and Response. Finally, two words that I can immediately use in a sentence: “The city of Sacramento never has a response to the challenge of its homelessness problem.” The orchard job listings that I find in California are all at Orchard Supply Hardware, just as every vineyard job listing I find in Southern California is for some shitty fast food joint on Vineyard Avenue or what-the-fuck in, like, Ontario. All applications for these jobs must be submitted through a secure website with picky browser requirements and an incomprehensible URL, whose algorithms will immediately shitcan your application.

And how could New Jerseyans not cherish liberty? They named their fucking airport after it. We name our infrastructure after virtues now. Muammar Qaddafi publicly pronounced himself liberty, inter alia; we declare one of our shittiest airports Liberty, in a time of constitutional crisis in the aftermath of a false flag attack on our commercial aviation system, no less. The idea is that we’re not supposed to notice that it’s gone.

Naming shit after Jimmy Hoffa would be funny. God knows that mobbed-up wonder hasn’t been around much lately. (I know: too soon.) Liberty Airport and the USA-Patriot Act are just goddamn sick.

Small-town values

The only people in our extended family to have owned and operated a restaurant are also, respectively: 1) the only one who is constitutionally unable to properly wash dishes by hand (i.e., actually get them clean); and, 2) the only one to allow rats to beshit an active food processing facility and rent-paying tenants to shit wherever and however they wanted because he failed to provide them indoor plumbing.

Why do I recacapitulate this, for lack of a better term, shit? It’s my story, too, because the shitbirds invited me into it and fucked it all up too catastrophically to disinvite me now, and there’s a perversely cathartic release in remembering that a bunch of grotesquely filthy bastards has serially endangered the public health by improperly disposing of human waste on a property whose operation I continue to fund, in reminding myself that in spite of this bullshit I still haven’t taken legal action in my capacity as an investor of record, and also I don’t shit in trash cans. Other things about my life may be in frightening disarray, but that’s a start.

More disturbingly, there are broader lessons to be learned from this clusterfuck. If small business claims that it’s being strangled by red tape, Ghomeshi-style, it might be a good idea to make sure that the small businesses in question are run by people with minimal standards of personal and corporate responsibility instead of taking everything a bunch of self-important blowhards say about their entire sector of the economy at face value. Maybe the health department really is trying to make sure that we don’t get food poisoning. On the face of it, why the hell should I trust small business as an institution when the Family Shrew and, God help us, Joe Dirtbag are how I first became personally familiar with small business? If they’re speaking for it and claiming their involvement in it as a point of pride, why should I not demand that the full force of the regulatory state be brought down on any small business that appears to be the least bit negligent or unethical? Or, to be more charitable to JD and FS, why should I not believe that they ran a more or less clean and safe restaurant only because their failure to keep it scrupulously clean would have resulted in its forced closure by county officials in a matter of months? The latter scenario, which seems to be the most accurate, concedes that they’re responsible enough to abide by common decency and minimal diligence when the regulatory state forces them into compliance; that is, that they’re filthy and derelict when left to their own devices but not unwaveringly intransigent deadbeats every time the civil authorities order their compliance with duly enacted laws governing their business conduct.

The key word there is “every time.” It was only as I was writing the last paragraph that I remembered Joe Dirtbag’s avowed membership in the tax-optional business community. That bastard’s life is a blooming onion of rediscovered immorality. His restaurant failed to account for and remit meals tax as required by municipal law, so when it got into trouble, Joe Dirtbag spit out a jumble of post-hoc justifications, all of them evasive and dishonest beyond a reasonable doubt, for lowballing the city treasury. As unethical business practices go, this was exceptionally flagrant (mofo went on the record in the local papers, accusing the city of misappropriating the tax money, as if that was a justification for tax-dodging), but even so, it’s hard to believe stories of small business as a wellspring of personal and civic virtue when one’s own exposure to small business features such a turducken of sleaze. It makes ethical behavior in any sphere of life look incidental to entrepreneurship, at best.

What inspired this repeat visit to Pot-o-Shit Friend and friends was a conversation with a restaurateur in Nevada City who asserted that none of the local homeless were destitute families with children because all of them were derelict drug users. Hearing this from a small businessman, even from one who was exceptionally gracious in his dealings with customers, uncorked the old brew of grievances that I nurse against Joe Dirtbag and the Family Shrew, in particular the ones having to do with their abuses of trust and goodwill in their capacity as entrepreneurs. Somewhat to my surprise, this semi-short retelling by way of context was so dispiriting that it killed my writing juju for most of the next three weeks, especially for subjects involving small business. (Whole Foods is big business.) There were other things going on in my life, most of them irrelevant to small business and its hostility to the poor or wherever the hell I was trying to take my screed about the prejudiced comments of this restaurateur in Nevada City.

That said, it’s probably for the best that I’ve slept on it for most of a month; hopefully I’m a bit more clearheaded as a result. The mythology of private enterprise, and of small business in particular, holds that those undertaking it are burdened by responsibilities and risks whose enormities non-entrepreneurs cannot fully grasp, and that as a consequence non-entrepreneurs should respect, nay, admire, entrepreneurs for taking on such burdens. We should, to borrow an exceptionally unctuous turn of phrase from what may be an exceptionally unctuous age, thank them for their service.

This seems at first glance like a basic courtesy, but just as many in the thank-you-for-your-service crowd live in a deep ignorance of the military that allows them to idolize it in ways that its own personnel would find stunningly foolish, reflexive respect for small business as an institution and for those undertaking it relies on the gullibility and ignorance of people who either have not had bad experiences with small businesses or have construed any such bad experiences in ways that do not blame small businessmen or their businesses. The demand that the rest of us respect small business owners assumes that the latter are consistently conscientious and morally straight. (Hey there, Chester!) It doesn’t take very many encounters with the owner-operators of ghetto corner stores to become convinced that this is an unfairly positive prejudice.

My own dealings with Joe Dirtbag and the Family Shrew, who didn’t generally seem like such bottomfeeders in their restaurant management, are powerful examples of immorality in small business. They often seemed to don entrepreneurship as one of their ostentatious identities, and when they did so they often carped about unreasonable meddling from out-of-touch government functionaries. If they had just been obnoxious in their assertion of a reasonable grievance their stance might have been justifiable, but then JD pulled the taxdodging stunt and turned the farm into a feudal manor, effectively beyond the reach of the law because no one wanted to involve The Man (until I got too fed up with it all to keep humoring this bullshit artistry).

The frank truth is that if the farm were subject to regular health and building inspections it would not be in such a state of filth and disrepair. That would be a government intrusion in the same way that the Red Bluff Police effected a brief government intrusion of the room next to mine because I had called 911 to report a likely battery in progress, followed by a brief government intrusion of my room to take an informal statement from me and quietly mention that the guys next door had been drinking. There are clear public safety and welfare interests at stake in these cases: not letting meatheads brawl in a hotel all night and risk killing one another in disputes over gentlemen’s loans (sic), not letting rodents infest food processing facilities, that kind of thing. Hearing a small businessman claim strangulation by red tape and then let rats shit all over the floor of his winery for months on end suggests that much of the opposition to regulation is motivated not by a desire for liberty and the pursuit of happiness but by a desire for codified privilege at the expense of other parties, both witting and unwitting. How do I forget that I’ve heard complaints about intrusive government from Pot-o-Shit Friend’s landlord? That’s easy: I don’t. And I probably shouldn’t.

Derelict traveling kids screwing around in nice Gold Country towns all summer are a convenient foil for diligent small business owners who are tied down by all their grunt work, whether they feel like it or not. They’re too convenient. Traveling kids and disheveled addicts are popularly representative of the homeless, to my own disadvantage, but they are not statistically representative. Traveling kids showing up in Nevada City with their dogs and their packs are a prominent annoyance, but I’d be surprised that they’re even a seasonal majority of the Nevada County homeless. There’s no way that laziness and drug addiction are the only ways to become homeless in Nevada County, which has a high cost of living and a high reliance on service-sector jobs, many of them poorly compensated, for its economy (sic, mostly). Let’s leave aside arguments that there’s more dignity in loafing around the Mother Lode while loaded (I totally didn’t spell any of that correctly on the first try) than in obsequiously catering to affluent tourists from the Bay Area, or not: there is something to be said for not doing a song and dance for a pittance just because the local Chamber of Commerce has declared tourism to be the economy of the future, and there’s something to be said for ruining the Beautiful Cookbook vibe for the overly precious, especially when this ruination can be accomplished by one’s mere day-to-day existence.

This is especially true in tourist towns that cater to visitors who are pathologically indolent, if only for the weekend: who the hell are any of them to complain that someone else is a bum for being indolent? Ad hoc remedies to this supposed problem quickly descend into equal protection violations (vagrancy laws, etc.), although not as quickly in jurisdictions as avowedly woke as Nevada County. Nevada City’s businesses seem to be mostly on their own here, left to ban large backpacks, sleeping rolls, and the like from their premises in their piecemeal effort to break up the hair clog. If the bleeding-heart liberals want to feed the vagrants, or the pigeons, it’s their personal decision, nothing that the Chamber can override in a fit of reactionary pique.

This bullshit, I assume, intensifies in the summer high season, causing me to note that ain’t none of them out picking blueberries. That’s a real economy; selling energy crystals to lace-curtain hippies is not. The trolley line has been gone since 1924, so Mr. Rogers hasn’t got a thing to dispatch to pick these crackers up. Back when the line was in service, the trolleys stopped at a place called–I swear, it’s on the maps; look it up–Town Talk. Yeah, Nevada County scares me a little bit. If anyone deserves an exemption from the town talk (TM) about lazy fuckheads who have drug problems and won’t get a job, it’s not the tourists but the more marginal bums who are too poor to work for a living. I have a bachelor’s degree from a liberal arts college, and I get into situations where I can’t afford to work for a living. That isn’t as easy to look up, but it’s no less true. As I’ve said before, some of us, we ain’t hardly touched dem shine ricebowl, and we know it. As I’ve also said, we’re all in the midst of a fourth-turning economic collapse that still hasn’t been brought to an end, professionally massaged U3 numbers notwithstanding.

Within a day of hearing from the restaurateur that there are no deserving poor among Nevada City’s homeless, I read a police blotter item in the local paper about a 911 call from a woman who told the dispatcher that her baby daddy was housing their children in a broken-down van in the parking lot of a McDonald’s in Grass Valley. So, yeah, the homelessness problem doesn’t affect families with children. Glad we cleared that up. I couldn’t tell from the blotter what all was wrong with the father, meaning that I couldn’t rule out drugs, nor could I exclude the possibility that the baby momma hallucinated the circumstances, but I can say for sure that that kind of thing does happen to entire families. Traveling kids are the overtly homeless; families living in vans are the underbelly of the homelessness problem. Where the traveling kids have no shame, families going to the poorhouse which is the automobile have nothing but shame. The most deserving homeless include the most discreet, because the discretion is motivated by an intense desire not to draw negative attention. I know this personally because I’ve fucking lived it. The actual homelessness of circuit-riding hippies can only be determined on a case-by-case and week-by-week basis; I wouldn’t be surprised to learn of ones whose housing situations have been more stable than mine, but I try to bathe and change into clean clothes regularly, so appearances can be deceiving.

This may sound like a dear-hearts-and-gentle-people admonition not to judge a book by its cover, which is not my goal but whatever. If there weren’t so much ignorant prejudice–and I mean this is the most literal, specific sense–about drug users and the homeless, we’d have less trouble integrating the marginal into mainstream communities. I got the sense that the restaurateur above didn’t really know anything about drug users, like how to accurately identify them. I may be wrong, but he seemed pretty sheltered. It’s reasonable of me to trust my own experiences with tweakers, stoners, alkies, and junkies over what a prejudicial stranger living on the Whitey Rez told me about how they’re all homeless because they’re hooked on drugs. For one thing, I usually find traveling kids pretty fucking sober, and I’d rather give walking-around money to a hard case who could really use some damn drugs right now. Will he spend it on drugs? Well, that’s kind of the point, right? Get back to me after you’ve personally watched a junkie score some dope, shoot up, and stop jittering almost immediately. Yes, they should be given housing and meals, too. It’s cheaper and more humane that way than having drug users end up in emergency rooms for exposure to the elements as well as overdoses, since we all know that hospitals totally are not full of control drugs or staffed by anyone who’s ever taken a little something-something from the crash cart for a quick pick-me-up or passed a whiner the good stuff for a half hour’s peace. As my grandmother calmly rated her pain to the LPN in pursuit of Vicodin, “It’s about a four.” (Lynn Majors is a solid eleven, and that’s a clinical fact.)

No, I’m not saying that I’ma go score me some drugs, or that you should do likewise. I’ve seen people get scary fucked up on hard drugs, and I do not recommend it. But vilifying drugs and their users in a society whose combination of instability, desperation, and purposelessness so strongly encourages escapist recourse to drugs and the community of other drug users is insane. Giving addicts necessities that they can’t readily sell for drug money, like a place to live and regular free meals can at least mitigate the bad effects of drug abuse. (Who the hell would buy a stolen refrigerator or a plate of church food from some oddball hawking shit on the street?)

We can’t judge our way out of this problem when we’ve largely judged our way into it. The worship of positive law as an omnipotent fetish is for people who have not recently spent time on the Albuquerque bus system. Holla atcha cracka, ’cause it ain’t me, lawd, it ain’t me.

Yeah, I guess Whole Foods would carry that

Whole Foods is a key institution for Tempe’s White community, including many nonwhite members who have dual membership in the Community. You don’t have to be white to be White, and you don’t have to be White to be white: compare, for example, Calvin Williams (vocation: law enforcement; avocation: golf) with his fellow Ohioan Ben Roethlisberger (vocation: FOOTBALL; avocation: rape).

Whole Foods was inevitable in a city that has two Starbucks stores well within half a mile of each other on, I shit ye not, Rural Road. The intersectionally homeless and unemployed would be able to keep the lobbies occupied in both stores, but it’s the rest of y’all fools who are keeping that shit in business for us. Not having Frappuccino money is how I have whoring money, or something like that. Both of these companies are officially woke, and God knows the cheap stuff straight out of the pot at Starbucks gives a cracker no option but to #StayWoke. Whole Foods, however, is significantly more obnoxious. Starbucks makes sense for anyone who wants to get a quick cup of coffee at a price that isn’t clinically insane, or an entire day of discount wifi. Whole Foods makes sense for those who are too stuck up for Safeway. If little Taylor and Bailey just absolutely need 365 product lines in their dinners because conventional processed foods are poison, *very Jeff Foxworthy voice* you might be a yuppie douchebag. Of course stewardship unto the Seventh Generation would be the ancient Indian legend cherished by these dipshits when they aren’t driving their children to lacrosse practice. Monty Robinson doesn’t need to dress up like a preppy asshole and run around with a stupid net on a stick in order to maintain First Nations traditions of reckless aggression; he, like lacrosse nation, lives in the motor age.

Sauce Boss on a bicycle would kill fewer passing motorists than Sauce Boss in a Jeep, but it’s illegal to bike all the way to the Whole Foods at Rural and Baseline. The our-parking-lot-is-our-manor bullshit and the threats to prosecute stray bicyclists, etc. for criminal trespass prove anew that Whole Foods’ environmental correctness is thoroughly bogus. If that company cared about the environmental externalities of its business model, it simply would not do business with landlords who post signs threatening to have its customers prosecuted for bicycling through the parking lot at one of its stores. That’s all there is to it. It would not tolerate lawful-evil assertions of overbearing positive law by bourgeois supremacists scheming to redline the poors by making one of their main forms of transportation unnecessarily inconvenient. But that was never the target demographic. Whole Foods seeks customers of a certain class, not of a certain other class that is cordially invited to take that shit back to South Phoenix. This is why it agrees to do business with landlords who post blanket bans on the use of bicycles on their property, under penalty of criminal law. It isn’t about warding off packs of teens who zip around and do wheelies all afternoon; that’s easy enough to stop by telling them to take it somewhere else. Whole Foods has a market waiting to be exploited in the best place, aside from Florida, to find municipal government by homeowner’s association, and frankly this market doesn’t look too concerned about the welfare or convenience of the carless local poor.

Your lenses aren’t quick enough to adjust to this essay’s next Transition(s). This particular Whole Foods has a large selection of wine–ha! I initially wrote that as “whine!”–for the liberal enjoyment of its White People. A SWPL store catering to inferred lushes who joke about the drinking problems that they don’t really have lol jk is no surprise. What floored me was one particular wine, on discount at $10.99 from a list price of $11.99 (i.e., definitely good gettin’ drunk wine for the less-than-spendthrift affluent), whose makers promised to donate a portion of proceeds to fund microloans in the Third World. It was called OneHope, vinted by Bob Mondavi Jr. and marketed by some self-important do-gooders in Napa whose precise identities don’t really interest me since Napa isn’t one of my parts of California.

The whole concept is exquisitely White, even painfully so. Here’s something that a White Person was planning to drink immoderately anyway, but in this case another squad of White People have promised to do some accounting juju with the proceeds to fund African blessings of the rain or some shit (much like carbon offsets), so the White Person can live well and do good at the same time, just by being a woke wino. It might as well have materialized straight out of a TED Talk. Hell, it may already be a TED Talk, not that I’m looking that bullshit up when I could return to the backlog of Scott Simon sermons that I finally started listening to this evening. Guy Raz has a voice that makes me want to die, so of course he emcees TED Talks on NPR these days. The only thing missing from OneHope is a smartphone code that can be scanned for a free Uber ride. What else would one drink after a hopeless (heh) day of complaining on Twitter about how the City of Austin fucked one’s shit up by not allowing ridesharing services for South By Southwest?

This is a crowd that loves to talk about “feelings,” as in their being “sorry that you feel that way,” i.e., in a way that contradicts their own feelings, which are of course deeply informed by supreme objective rationality, so I guess I “feel” hesitant to trust these smarmy fucks for a hot second on account of my mostly financial reasons for sleeping on Amtrak. They venerate a comprehensive suite of cultural touchstones that I used to try to give the benefit of the doubt, even over my better judgment, just on the possibility that my own gut feeling was overly sensitive and shrill, until I realized that the constituent parts, no matter how objectively harmless they looked in isolation, did in fact cohere into a disgusting, intellectually and ethically bankrupt whole. It made no sense for Whole Foods, a leftists’ grocery chain, to be run by a sock-puppeteering blowhard from Texas who was always bitching about how unions are superfluous and counterproductive on account of his own great magnanimity as a captain of business. It makes all too much sense for a grocery store catering to neoliberals to be run in this fashion. Similarly, mass transit is dramatically better than ridehailing apps by every standard of civic stewardship, but a frighteningly wide swath of the Democratic Party’s current base has gravitated to Uber as one of its idols, in the truest biblical sense, conveniently ignoring the ongoing torrent of scandalous news about that exceptionally sleazy company. This is the shit that passes for the American left.

Microlending fits into this pattern perfectly. It started showing up fifteen or twenty years ago in bleeding-heart centrist rags of the sort that discreetly fail to question the fundamental moral legitimacy of multinational corporations because that might offend people (read: sponsors and the affluent sellout segments of their audiences, the ones with the discretionary income). The story was that the poor in the Third World had been shut out of capital markets that the affluent in the First World take for granted and that the foreign aid money meant to lift these poor bastards out of poverty had been looted by unsavories. Concern-trolling of the foreign aid budget was important to these stories: nonmilitary foreign aid made up a tiny percentage of the US federal budget and a modest portion of the budgets of our wokest European allies, and much of the measly nonmilitary foreign aid that the USG was providing was (and still is) administered by CIA assets (hence most of the unsavories). The military aid to right-of-center juntas and tinpot dictators (direct allowances for unsavories) dwarfed the bleeding-heart budget that some of the same foreign crooks stole less completely, but the death squad budget was never put up for serious adult debate or subjected to the prominent scrutiny that was given to foreign aid programs.

The gist of the argument for microlending was that feel-good direct aid was being wasted by shitty governments, so the solution was for Western capitalists and their westernized allies to set up shop as usurers in countries with weak civil societies and weak, corrupt regulatory regimes. It was never put so bluntly, of course. Instead, it was presumed that these governments would always be crooked, meaning that the private sector would be able to regulate its own dealings with foreign borrowers better than these borrowers’ governments would ever serve their interests as constituents. It was also assumed that the supposed beneficiaries of these loans–the borrowers, not the usurers–had had enough charity and now needed a hand up, not a handout. Assuming that the complaints about the in-country looting of foreign aid money were accurate, the beneficiary population of this supposed charity hadn’t actually been receiving its advertised measure of charity because the funds had been stolen. Stories were circulated about piss-poor seamstresses in shithole villages being lent a few hundred dollars apiece to buy some extra sewing machines and become hella entrepreneurial. These stories slickly omitted the possibility of charities shipping the same equipment overseas and donating it directly to the target beneficiary population without pain of usury, with the option to slip the odd customs officer an extra twenty to expedite the shipment.

The potential for imperial abuse under color of law was huge. It was buried just beneath the surface of these stories. At the time, I fleetingly wondered whether the borrowers were risking indenture for amounts of money they couldn’t afford in the event that their businesses were less lucrative than they’d projected. It seems that this is exactly what happened to many microborrowers.

It’s reasonable to say that every fucking thing the neoliberals have touched they’ve turned into slimy shit. It’s equally reasonable to dismiss with prejudice every scheme and theory that shows traces of their influence for being irredeemably corrupted by their influence. Their work should be treated as fruit of the poisonous tree, every bit as much as the cultural output of communism has ever been treated. They may not have an equally bad track record, but they’re awfully close. In some respects, they’re even worse: the Khrushchev Politburo directed a decade or so of Soviet world leadership in civil aviation; even Brezhnev, a puffed-up geezer, managed not to grievously fuck up the Tu-144 project with meddlesome central planning. One of the best things that can be said of Elon Musk, a serial government sugar baby, is that his companies have roughly the same relationship to the US government that Tupolev and Ilyushin had to the Soviet government, but he’s less honest about it. Most of what the neoliberal project has produced is a battery of overlapping cons, rackets, and lies.

Criticizing these predatory scams is a great way to annoy cool people with disposable income, often the same ones who assume that Bill Gates is profoundly charitable because he has a foundation and that Warren Buffett is totally aboveboard. That motherfucker is a billionaire who takes his grandchildren out to Dairy Queen once a month and was audiorecorded by NPR haplessly trying to order an Egg McMuffin by describing its ingredients to the drive-thru cashier. Dude’s a phony, just like Holden Caulfield predicted. NPR wanted America to believe that a man detail-oriented enough to personally run a multibillion-dollar private equity firm was too much of a doddering old coot to know the menu shorthand at a restaurant where he regularly dines. I’d like to see proof that a team of investment analysts couldn’t equal Berkshire Hathaway’s performance for $50,000 plus benefits apiece per year.

Yes, I’d like to see someone prove this negative. I can understand paying an aeronautical engineer more per hour than I make picking blueberries, because engineering aircraft takes mad skills, needs to be done exactly right, and when it is done exactly right it yields a bitchin’ plane. I cannot understand why anyone who talks the story of neoliberalism for a living should not be scavenging chow mein out of a dumpster for dinner and sleeping under the Cross-Bronx Expressway. Substance abuse isn’t enough to deserve ending up living a life like that, but putting poor bastards out on the streets because they didn’t learn how to polish their bullshit properly and succeed in the knowledge economy damn well is.

Las Vegas is getting the Raiders. Can it get the mass-casualty slum fires, too?

The Oakland city government, one of the most troubled in California, spent decades being extorted by its football team, the Raiders (heh, I initially wrote “the Raders”), for special concessions at the expense of police services for the citizens of its violent ghettos, until this year, when the Raiders finally extorted a better competing suite of old boys’ gibs from the governments in Clark County, Nevada, which claimed to be too insolvent to fund the public schools under their jurisdiction.

This will allow city and county governments whose constituents live in storm drains to cater to what is probably the most execrable fan base in the NFL. Raiders Nation is a raging white trash fire. A sports league that fields both of its New York teams at the most famous entertainment venue in New Jersey had the discourtesy to charter a football franchise expressly representing the East Bay practically straight across the Bay from a much more widely beloved existing franchise at Candlestick Park, with predictably awful results. Oddly for a region where so many people wouldn’t put up with a B+, nobody gives a shit about the A’s. The Raiders, on the other hand, are overtly trashy enough in their iconography and geographically specific enough to a reputedly downmarket sector of the Bay Area to serve as a lodestone for every unwashed shithead from Fremont to Stockton to Crescent City. Having lived in Philadelphia and listened to Phillies fans all but call Ryan Howard Butterfingers for his fielding skills at times when he was hitting homers every game, I can say that what I’ve seen of Raiders fans is worse than what I’ve seen of any Philly fan base. And forget Chicago: da guys rootin’ for *DA BEARS* may have been idiots, but they were good-natured idiots. The Raiders manage to be the auspices for cholo shorties who look like they’re of a mind to shank you right here, right now and whitey meatheads who look ready to grab a length of scrap rebar from the nearest building demolition site and bludgeon you to death in the parking lot for looking at them sideways (or at their women, but of course). One of the last games played at the late Candlestick before the Santa Clara Forty-Niners moved to their whatthefuckular new digs over by Great America was a friendly (sic), if I’m not mistaken, against the Raiders, which resulted in a transbay tussle in the stands bad enough for the league to cut the game short and cancel repeat performances for the foreseeable future.

The Bay Area stands out among American urban areas for having had its football fans geographically cleaved into one that is mostly kinda sorta respectable and another that perpetually nurses grievances for being misunderstood by condescending elites just because it’s a bunch of overtly trashy caterwauling thugs. To add injury to insult, the latter team, whose presence has encouraged every sauntering dipshit with a deliberately untreated anger management problem to style himself as a viking marauder, spent decades extorting or trying to extort massive, lavish handouts from a city government that is notoriously unable (or unwilling) to provide adequate police, fire, and social services to its constituents. Requests by sports teams for free anything from the Oakland municipal or Alameda County governments are scandalous. In less than half a year, Oakland has had two mass-casualty fires in illegal residential rentals. The first was the Ghost Ship Fire, which killed 36 people who were doing an extra-seedy Rent LARP in a postindustrial deathtrap owned by the “poverty of self worth” shithead. Just this week, another three people were killed in a fire at their “transitional housing” flophouse, a property in such extreme disrepair that neighbors had been filing code complaints against it for years and a fire inspector had ordered its landlord to repair immediately within the preceding week. The identity of the owner, Keith Kim, suggests that Community-Korean relations are bad in the ghetto (in the ghetto) for reasons tending to justify the non-Reginald Denny aspects of the Rodney King riots. A minister who knew tenants at the transitional flophouse mentioned that it was a crucial stepping stone for ex-cons coming home to Oakland, implying (who could have guessed?) that the CDCR has been releasing its inmates with utterly useless reentry services. Ex-cons of which race, for the most part? Hint: rhymes with “shack.”

Now that Las Vegas has bought out Oakland’s fin-dom concession to the Raiders, Clark County’s citizens can look forward to the same callously deficient public services that the residents of Alameda County’s poorer areas have heretofore enjoyed. I don’t envy the civic-minded or vulnerable among them at all; they’ve just been screwed raw by a noisy and influential minority of their worst neighbors. Hell, Clark County government services are already spotty enough to compete with Oakland’s for civic dereliction, as the storm drain crew can attest, but a fresher hell awaits those living aboveground, too, as their governments raid (heh) the treasury for circus money at the expense of such things as bread. Johannes Mehserle was never the one running the Kwesi Millington for Sheriff committee; it was always the assholes who were the only ones to turn out to vote, along with the elected officials who never saw the need to appeal to anyone who wanted something other than sports subsidies from their governments. So now I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the Bay, watchin’ Rundel do his thang all day, but Fish Man ain’t worth shit in a city that still doesn’t have Benjamin Montgomery “Sauce Boss” Robinson in its Uber driver pool. White Lives Matter, too, friends.

What’s that? It stops being funny when bougie lives are the ones at risk? Why, yes, do go to the bad parts of Oakland to preach your word. Yes, do go forth and #CommunicateToCreate your own safe space with that message.

The West Valley Special, and I do mean “special”

Mormons have a reputation for wholesome, edifying living, and also for valuing education. Some of the least fucked up sexual fetishes in the Americas feature LDS MILF’s, and BYU is legit. So I don’t have a prayer of explaining the Salt Lake City light rail system. It isn’t that a retarded woman chatted me up on a platform; that happened, too, but as retards go, she was pretty well-adjusted (e.g., able to take nonverbal cues better than many normies and end our chat gracefully). Besides, Mormons are as good as anyone at taking care of their ‘tards. What blew me away was the succession of five other, much less functional, fellow passengers who blessed me with their company over the course of three hours earlier in the afternoon. As Fred Rogers always said, “Hello, neighbor!” Try to put yourself in at least two pairs of other men’s shoes and imagine a neighborhood trolley, or, worse, a neighborhood, populated by neighborly beauties like these:

1) A fat, slovenly woman of about forty with no volume control on her voice who asked a deadheading train operator, “How do yous steer these things?” The operator, who had just finished his shift and was catching his daily ride back to the yard, was patient enough to explain how the train runs on rails. Gee, you don’t fucking say. Hint 1: Rhymes with “might fail” conductor school. Hint 2: Rhymes with “Trax.”

2) A young man who sauntered onto the train wearing a hoodie and pajama bottoms—at a quarter to four on a Monday afternoon, with his slightly better dressed girlfriend in tow. Let’s call him the Marginally Attached Gentleman.

3) Another fat, slovenly lady who made a fist, punched a sheet of green paper, partially folded the sheet back up into its very neat two-inch squares, put the paper into her duffelbag, and then blew a series of extra-farty raspberries.

4) The latter thick bitch’s boyfriend, a fat, slovenly (duh) dude with a bushy beard and a receding-hairline instamullet, who was wearing an extremely shabby old red-and-black knockoff motorcycle jacket over a secondhand Batman T-shirt.

5) A she-tweaker from the intersectional tobacco/substance abuse/mental health community, dressed in Uggs and sagging sweatpants, her hair cohering into emergent whitey dreads, who convulsively took off her Uggs, carressed the long-dead butt of a Camel, moaned desperate nonsense at anyone who made fleeting eye contact (my mistake), and forlornly berated a bouquet of plastic flowers that she’d pulled from a Wendy’s takeout bag.

Salt Lake City proper, in spite of its being the site of the LDS Church’s headquarters and the focal point of its holy land, is Utah’s most notoriously gentile city. But this doesn’t explain any of my trolley losers except the She-Tweaker. She boarded downtown, Sally don’t you even think about it. The rest of them were from South of Eden. Number One, the fat lady with family in Lakewood (it figures), made her scene on the way to West Valley Central. The other three were aboard the inbound train from Draper by the time we left Murray, with the Marginally Attached Gentleman and his (marginally) better half on board by Sandy. There are Mormons who regard Salt Lake City beyond the Temple precincts as something akin to Sodom, but these fine Utards all have connections in more Napoleonic parts of the valley. Maybe it’s by strategic political design that the light rail stops short of American Fork. FrontRunner, the more expensive heavy rail line, runs all the way from Ogden to Provo on all days but the Sabbath, and at surprisingly good service levels for a new system in a middling metropolitan area, but its fare schedule may be steep enough to keep it from serving as a loser cruiser and bringing the undesirables into the proper breeder suburbs. If you’re still in your fucking PJ’s during evening rush hour, you’re probably interested in the cheap train.

But I’m spitballing, for the most part. Beyond the Salt Lake City limits, the entire state has a strongly Mormon ambient culture. That’s the default setting. Salt Lake City is an outpost of mainstream US urban culture, but its southern suburbs are not. They’re too locally rooted and idiosyncratic for that. Hell, even the nice parts of SLC are Sweet Jesus and the Golden Tablets Mormon by the gentile standards of, say, Denver.

If a Mormon sense of maybe don’t get totally fucked up on hard drugs and dress like an incorrigibly derelict ragamuffin in public doesn’t rub off on the poors, what the hell will? Utah has the lowest Gini Coefficient of any state in the Union, Salt Lake and Utah (?) Counties have one of the healthiest metropolitan job markets in the country, and still there’s all this crazy white trash on the train. I forgot to say so explicitly: this was a vibrant diveristy of white people and nothing but white people, none of them White. There was a variety of racial minorities on the light rail, too, but they weren’t nearly as nuts. It was exclusively the crackers that were cracking me up. The cracker traditionally cracks up intransitively as well—that’s how the name came about—but in our case the dysfunction may have nothing at all to do with Scotland. These losers could be 100% Dutch for all I know; there’s certainly a lot of high Anglo-Saxon blood floating around in the local gene pool.

They look unreachable. I don’t get the feeling that they’re reacting to or rebelling against Mormonism. They aren’t emos or goths. It isn’t a stance to get a rise out of the squares. They’re too disinhibited not to be earnest. Irony is beyond their capacity. And isn’t it ironic, like ra-a-a-a-a-ain/on your wedding day, that the fat lady who didn’t understand trains (which one steers) has so many relatives in the metro area that raises and harbors the most well-adjusted, physically fit, stylish, naturally confident fat women I’ve ever encountered. She declared her people in Woodinville and Auburn, too, not that anyone on the train asked. I must have been in the valley of the damned for my local connection to the Sound to be a postureless, graceless loudmouth with no sense of style and a slow toddler’s understanding of how trains work.

And she may have been the least deranged of the whole lot. The Marginally Attached Gentleman looked like bad news; a society whose men comport themselves in his fashion is surely on the skids. The She-Tweaker was terrible news. The two lovers were just fucking uncouth. Here I had five people on two trains, pushing rush hour, no less (meaning that the loser count should have been swamped by commuting normies), all of them living in strongly Napoleonic jurisdictions, only one of them with a visible drug problem, and yet none of them socialized by the Mormon hive mind. It was the kind of shit I’d expect of Reno.

On my way out of town, I took the light rail past the St. Vincent de Paul rescue mission. Holy shit, Brigham. Salt Lake City has the premier housing-first program in Anglo North America (not LDS feel-good bullshit, either; independent housing activists give it top marks), so I was shocked to see dozens of people sleeping on the sidewalk in front of St. Vinnie’s. I’d hardly have given it a moment’s notice in Sacramento or Reno, where that kind of wretchedness is ubiquitous, but everything else I’d seen around Salt Lake had been so clean and orderly, and everything I’d heard about the city’s homeless outreach services had indicated that they’re unwaveringly on point. The only hopeful possibility is that that crowd was entirely new kids on the block who had recently assembled in the social services district and were already on waiting lists for placements. The turnover could be a great deal higher than it looks, and frankly there’s nothing unethical about charity-shopping one’s way to the one city in the country that seems to take housing placement seriously. The worrisome possibility is that this isn’t the case.

By the way, nice job dumping all that dysfunction right on the way to the Greyhound and Amtrak stations when the eastbound Zephyr rolls through at three in the morning. Nice cab we got here; shame if you got mugged for not taking it.

Out in the streets

So I’m up in the Clurb, and nobody’s girl is dancing up on me because I’m staying at the only place I can find that is within walking distance of the Metra system and not obscenely expensive. I managed to roll into Chicago, likely the biggest settlement of lace curtain Irish and wannabe Irish in the Americas, on the eve of a St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday, so of course lodging downtown costs an arm and a leg and a stupid little plastic green bowler hat with an elastic chin strap tonight. One weeknight on the Magnificent Mile was manageable with a $45 credit, but I’m not magnificent enough for more than that.

I happen to be familiar with the area where I’m staying tonight from a trip to Chicago that my parents and I made fifteen years ago this week. That time we stayed two or three miles east of the Lake-Cook Road Metra station in a hotel expensive enough that I preemptively screened it out this week. I’m staying instead at a Red Roof Inn that’s a mile or so around a big corner from the station on Waukegan Road. I’m able to walk this distance in twenty minutes, give or (usually) take. Being on foot this time, I’m noticing the condition of the local infrastructure that I ignored on my earlier trip, when my parents and I drove to the Metra station and everywhere else we went in the North Clurb. The main takeaway is that the sidewalks here fucking suck. In the course of a mile on two major arterial roads (Lake-Cook and Waukegan) I’ve run into several places where the sidewalks abruptly end, some of these hundreds of feet from crosswalks; several big piles of snow that have been left covering sections of sidewalk from a small storm several days ago; and exceptional amounts of gravelly construction and road maintenance debris, strewn across sidewalks and parking lots parallel to sections of missing sidewalk alike.

The common thread here is that no one gives a shit. This is a wealthy area, so it’s unlikely that the local constituencies have been abandoned by hostile or uncaring governments with nothing to lose on account of their neglect. I assume a number of the locals would tell me to drive or take Uber like a normal person. Fuck Uber, of course, and I see no reason to waste money on cab fare when I’m fit and awake enough to manage the walk, but having driven around here on my previous trip, I’m not eager to do so again. Chicagoland is laid out on an endless grid with hardly any diagonals, the roads are slow all day and into the evening, and Chicago drivers are terrible. As long as Metra’s schedules aren’t useless, only an idiot wouldn’t ride dem shine train. It’s $8.00 for unlimited all-zone travel systemwide on Saturday and Sunday, starting at midnight, although, as I implied above, the weekend schedules aren’t great.

Most of Chicago’s suburban development shouldn’t exist. The urban planning in the neighborhood where I’m staying is iffy, and it’s nowhere near the worst in the region. A bunch of barely serviceable crap has been allowed to spill out willy-nilly forty miles onto the prairie. These are terrible places for the poor to live, but with rents going up in the better urban neighborhoods and the worst urban neighborhoods going completely to hell, much of the working class is in fact forced out into areas with half-assed sidewalks and probably even worse bus service. Then there are the rich parts of the Clurb, which Fabius Maximus mentioned a few weeks ago. A study had come out showing that children raised in fancy parts of the West Clurb dramatically outearned those raised in bad parts of the West Side of Chicago. I haven’t read the study because I doubt it’d tell me anything I couldn’t already guess. High Whitey segregated itself into some ritzy shit with strategically drawn municipal lines so that it could continue to make the derelict choice to do nothing to resolve Chicago’s mutually reinforcing class and race problems, which are dire. Duh. I don’t know a whole lot about Chicago, but I know enough to infer that.

As a friend said about some fun-time hospital narcotics he had taken, it’s a great place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.