Shitty Holden Caulfield

A few years ago, I had the high dishonor and the distinct displeasure, as our Washingtonians are never so candid as to say, of working with a foursome of traveling kids that Joe Dirtbag had inadvisably allowed to crash on his farm through the autumn and into the early winter. By “work with,” I mean clean up after their ostentatiously hardworking, incorrigibly sloppy white asses and wonder about the judgment of anyone willing to allow them an operational role in a working vineyard and winery.

This was in the days before I began vomiting these pages onto the internet, so I have no earthly idea who blog this is or what it has to so with anything. No need to go around accusing me of topical focus and coherence, now; I swear I initially wrote that as “confusing me,” so, well, you see. You don’t mess with the man from Tuscon, not that I’m from Tucson or have any personal connection to marginally employed Hall and Oates Effect cryptotrustfunders who waitress a night or two a week at PF Chang’s when they aren’t flying to Denver to get boned by traveling insurance salesmen and/or First Amendment attorneys focusing on the expressive rights of pornographers who end up adverse to Ken White et al. and mercilessly ridiculed in the blawgosphere when they sue critics for publishing crappy cartoons depicting their mothers romancing polar bears.

That, too, has nothing to do with anything else. I imagine these particular parties shitting into properly plumbed toilets, but I imagine many things. Never mind me. By the way, I didn’t mean to imply above that any of Tuscon’s dickable bimbos hold themselves dickable by old hippie lawyers whose Stanford-dropout daughters shack up with borderline-psychotic squatters with DIY stepdown septic systems constructed from a series of plastic barrels and an outlet pipe into the creek, but these essays generally aren’t worth editing, so my language, like JFK’s vigorous little John-John, shall stand. Nor do I mean to accuse Tuscon’s underemployed waitresses of being common whores; common whores have a useful place in the social ecology that I wouldn’t want to laxly ascribe to anyone involved in the operation of PF Chang’s. There are things that one does when one wants to be a productive member of society, and then there are things that one does when wants to be quality by surrounding oneself with quality and Manuel Ramos for Sheriff.

But enough of those who make sure not to live in squalor. I haven’t yet discovered an American society in which that can be all of us, and it’s unsettling. Crystal Harris proposes but one possible folkway, fun stuff. The possibility that our dickable Tuscon bimbo is marginally more thoughtful than that is not encouraging, and please note that I called it a possibility, not a fact. We’ve got some sheltered fucking idiots on the loose around here, and their worldviews have policy implications for the rest of us. They pretend that non-fun stuff (the unfun?) doesn’t exist and get cross when confronted with it. I have trouble with that, in all senses.

The traveling kids from above are an early historical reason why. These fuckers spun out a car that I was told was unregistered on the Interstate on their way north from San Diego, washed up in town, and inevitably hooked up with Captain Flimflam, who inevitably lodged them on the damn farm. Them and their dog, of course; the dog was cool, but I couldn’t help wondering why these fucking derelict vagrants always have a goddamn dog with them when they have no visible means of support or place to stay and why they should get a pass for using pets as props when I’m too prudent to buy one and assume responsibility for its care.

This crew was something else. It was made up of two couples who had met on the San Diego trustafarian vagrant scene, in either OB or PB, which I always confuse. I do know that, notwithstanding the combined administrative capabilities of Mexico’s governments, every yoga video that the Insurance Schmuck’s ex-fiancee posts on Facebook from her apartment in PB is another perfect advertisement for the Reconquista de Aztlan. This foursome, in turn, was a walking campaign ad for Robert Acosta for Sheriff. I don’t mean that in an ethnic sense at all. It’s a shitty thing to say, but these fuckers were shitty, and they became our problem by leaving San Diego.

What the hell the intervening 800 miles of CHP jurisdiction was worth when a foursome of useless greaseballs could drive by in an unregistered vehicle is also questionable. For what it might be worth, there’s something happening here; what it is, ain’t exactly me popping some punk-ass Chips to thank them for their service.

Nor was I of a mind to pop the traveling kids themselves. The less useless of the two couples was from back east. She was the daughter of what sounded like quasihippie truck farmers in Maine, borderline smoking hot and by far the most competent of the four. On her own she would have been all right, but on her own she was not. Her boyfriend was the whitey-dreaded son of a Connecticut ER doc, from Greenwich, IIRC. Right there I sensed bad judgment. Like, why the fuck is this guy wandering around the West Coast like a total loser when he could be living decently with what sound like supportive, tolerable parents? Then again, I asked myself the same question often enough.

The other couple was from Portland, as in Portlandia, not as in Bob Bachelder and murdah on the bayou. I never got a clear sense of how nice or Portland part of Portland they’d left, but they didn’t seem to have come from backgrounds nearly as affluent as the whitey dread jackass from Greenwich or from family lives as stable and edifying as the Mainer hottie had enjoyed on the farm. The dude was jumpy enough that the Ragin’ Canajun said he looked like he’d just left a cult; chica had underwhelming muscle mass, a vaguely limp and sullen affect, and looked like a turkey.

The Mainer was corrigible with face-to-face counseling from someone who wasn’t totally head-up-the-ass, but when she was surrounded by her travel mates, as she usually was, she went native and helped them fuck up their work assignments. This crew littered so much frost-defoliated Cabernet Sauvignon fruit on the ground just by lifting the bird netting in a hurry that it was more trouble for me to stoop down and pick up after them than it would have been to do the work myself. Whitey Dread Boy managed to blister his hands severely enough for bandaging by splitting firewood for ten or fifteen minutes without gloves in Joe Dirtbag and the Family Shrew’s yard. The bastard was showing his work ethic off, but he didn’t fool me. I’d been doing concerted manual craft labor for hours at a time without sustaining any significant injuries, so of course I thought he was a fucking jackass. The Portlanders were just generally whatthefuckular. Turkey Girl didn’t bring any discernible gifts to the operation, and her boyfriend always looked like he was running late to a security gig for Charles Manson.

Joe Dirtbag kept telling me that he enjoyed this crew’s early-twenties energy but that they also reminded him why he usually hired restaurant employees who were at least in their mid-twenties, but this was a category error. These kids weren’t useless because they were kids; they were useless because they were travelers. What good did he expect to come from hiring a squad of hippie circuit wastrels who were too derelict to properly register their motor vehicles? What the fuck did he see in them that indicated any sort of skill, attention to detail, or ability to listen to basic instructions? They didn’t give off a good first impression to anyone but a fellow bullshitter. That’s why Captain Flimflam yukked it up with them and plugged them into his network; they were of his tribe. That’s a tribe that ought to be driven off to a reservation at Yucca Mountain, but the hippie swarm knows better than to seek out towns where there’s a recent history of officially mediated exiles onto the Trail of Tears.

These losers are not just passing curiosities or annoyances to those who have to live or work with them. They can be extremely disruptive. They can be active vectors of chaos and filth. I don’t care if some loser wants to waste his summer or his twenties dressed like Robin Hood and begging for alms in downtown Eugene. That I can avoid. I can’t avoid the same loser when he’s living and allegedly working on a property where I have business of my own to conduct. That’s a fucking problem.

Captain Flimflam is a fucking problem. That shitty bastard would be all right if he were just peaceably flying a sign on the street or mutually bullshitting his fellow travelers. He is not all right when he’s ruining a business that I’ve helped fund and spent over a thousand hours helping operate. He is not all right when he brings a rogue’s gallery of showy derelicts and the severely mentally ill onto a farm that we were all told was to be ordered to ongoing agricultural productivity. He is not all right when he spends his days peacocking and bullshitting everyone in our place of business instead of operating the farm stand that he is advertising and arranging to have the overflowing portajohns swapped out as he has promised.

This shit isn’t theoretically problematic; it’s a concrete, ongoing threat to public health, public safety, and the welfare of those present on properties operated in such a fashion. Joe Dirtbag and Captain Flimflam are the shitty keystones without which Lady Pisspan, Pot-o-Shit Friend, Mixups in my Mind, Psychotarp, and the worse-than-useless traveling I’ve been describing would not have fallen into place. The Ragin’ Canajun complained afterwards that the traveling kids had been fucking pigs and left messes behind for others to clean up. It turned out that this was a very modest foreshadowing of Pot-o-Shit Friend’s housewarming gift. He didn’t just figuratively leave a whole lot of shit behind. The traveling kids mainly left piles of dishes and trash in their wake.

All it took was one socially dominant man of bad morals (Joe Dirtbag) cultivating a dirty friendship with another socially dominant man of bad morals (Captain Flimflam) to set off a raging avalanche of shit. People like them either don’t care or think it’s funny to watch decent people squirm and stew in upset at their own impotence in the face of objectively disgusting, disruptive, and even dangerous conditions. As more and more decent people with options get the fuck out of Dodge, businesses under the auspices of such shitheads go into tailspins, with a tiny rump of competent, diligent people (e.g., sometimes just me and the Ragin’ Canajun, sometimes just RC without me) trying to navigate a social and infrastructural hellscape. Being one of the last people sincerely trying to make something out of such a disaster zone sucks; being the very last is powerfully demoralizing.

Not alerting the authorities to such disasters is derelict of duty. I’ve been one of the derelict parties to JD and CF’s horseshit. One of the few things I’ve done that has restored my sense of pride in the midst of this mess has been to report the property to code enforcement. Everything about this situation is so shambolically dysfunctional that my parents, who neither live in nor approve of squalor, are hesitant to be judgmental and don’t want me getting up on my own high horse just because I’ve been involved in the operation of a property where a minor child has been living under the authority of a man who is too busy dicking around on his guitar to get the shitters swapped out and a little faggot not associated with Dire Straits has been shitting in a trash can. My dad once told me, in a tone of disappointment, resignation, and mild alarm, that he didn’t know what someone in JD’s position could do when he’s repeatedly had tenants defecating so inappropriately. Providing a proper toilet out of a sense of shame and basic decency and not recruiting weird-ass tenants to live on the property when they look like they might go crap somewhere all wrong must have been too straightforward. This shit keeps happening because JD and his property are fit for A&E TV. I’ve seen segments on hoarding documentaries that are cleaner than any of this.

I keep writing these essays that amount to book reviews of The Lord of the Flies  devoted exclusively to the part where the boys all go shit on the one beach. I do so because I keep running into communities that are fundamentally unable or unwilling to manage the lowest, most basic, most fundamental needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy. Shitting somewhere other than a goddamn trash can in the living room is a need. Not being at risk of plunking one’s ass down onto a mountain of other people’s shit when using the portapotty is a need. Society not suffocating and choking to death on its own accumulated bodily wastes is a need.

As we keep seeing, not all needs are met. A key reason why we keep encountering dire unmet needs is that those who profit, financially or socially or both, from allowing these needs to go unmet are left unmolested. Where’s Diddlin’ Dennis when we need him? J. Denny Dundiddly dindu nuffin near as much as we needed from him, I’d say. There need to be consequences for profiting from squalor. Presiding over piles of filth as a way of cementing one’s own socioeconomic superiority as a landlord or a chief tenant needs to be powerfully unpleasant.

It’s up to the rest of us to make it so. I’ve done things here and there to this end, but not enough, because I’m chickenshit before the dynamics of my extended family. If I’m not discreet in my contacts with the authorities, I risk having to justify to my upset parents why I was so judgmental about the condition of someone else’s property. We have other relatives who couldn’t get one-time $600 checks from my late grandmother without coming under a storm of judgment for mooching off her when she had outstanding credit card debt, but JD not spending any of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of below-market “investments” and more frank gifts that he’s mooched off those around him to provide his tenants with a decent toilet, shower, or living quarters that aren’t plastered in rat waste is just one of those things that happens sometimes.

I’d normally figure that it’s a good idea to judge not, lest I be judged, but I do not charge residential tenants rent to live in utterly uninhabitable buildings that are carpeted and insulated with aerosolizing rat filth. Hand me that stone; I’m getting that old Sandy Koufax feeling in my arm again. Put me in, Coach. No, not you, Hastert. It’s totally beyond the pale to give Joe Dirtbag a pass for the condition of his property and for his illegal collection of rent from extremely vulnerable tenants just because he’s supposedly broke.

I notice that he isn’t broke enough not to still be landed. I’ve never owned a damn square inch of real estate, so I’m not particularly moved by his plight. This bastard keeps collecting rents on both his farm, which he uses as leverage for unrestricted five-figure gifts, and his separate primary residence, which he and the Family Shrew own free and clear. They bought in at a time when they could afford to pay off their home mortgage by working for a living and then start blowing the nest egg that they’d put aside instead of ending up out on the streets for being dissolute. Point of clarification: Are the rest areas where I sleep every two or three nights streets? I get that they had some business setbacks that were not entirely within their control, but how do their difficulties late in their time in the restaurant business negate the overwhelming evidence that they have truly, mindbogglingly atrocious business practices in their management of the farm?

Remember, these are the ones who, last I heard, still had the electrician living in the shed. Another Connecticut Yankee in King Sharthur’s Court, as it happens. An attorney friend raised a good point about this electrician’s off-the-books, unlicensed work: any property insurance claim that they file for damage to their house may be denied on the basis of their having had work done by an unlicensed tradesman. Their attitude that oh well he has a license in another state is just another bit of shady, reckless bullshit that our dysfunctional family dynamics force us to accept. This is like saying that it would be acceptable for Charles Cullen to just show up at Glendale Adventist with a Pennsylvania RN license, grab some needles, and get to work.

Lazarus, what’s your twenty?

There is an entire folk tradition devoted to the justification of this kind of shit. Not to tasteless discussions of how we’re just Cullen the herd, mind you; John Ruetten was good-looking, but he was no Lynn Majors. I’m referring to the really bleak shit, the stuff that makes it a relief to listen to old people cough on hospital wings all day. I mean the permanent judgment-free zones for substandard housing. The idea that there was ever anything reasonable or acceptable about living in the Ghost Ship warehouse is unconscionable. This blog is the arts, too; does that give me the justification to run a daisy chain of extension cords across the floor to my warren of shipping pallets in a disused commercial bakery? Three dozen people were killed in a preventable industrial-cum-residential fire, and we kept hearing that they were just larping Rent, that they were just trying to make a go of it as starving artists in the big city and that this was the only way for them to do their work.

This doesn’t explain why the arts demanded that the same venue be used to host an unpermitted concert requiring its own electrical equipment but not requiring a working evacuation plan. If my parents’ tenant charged several dozen people admission to an unpermitted Train cover band concert in the backyard and bothered the neighbors with full-blast subwoofers, someone would call the police, and the police would put a stop to it. This ain’t Shoreline, doggy. Neither was the Ghost Ship. There may be a certain difference between the Palo Alto and Oakland police departments here, and there’s definitely one between my parents’ tenant, who is too classy to do something so shady, and the poverty of self worth shysters, who, oops, guess we didn’t maintain any defensible space around the drops of Jupiter at this event, but please don’t assume that this tragedy implies anything bad about the inherent nature of guerrilla artists’ lofts where the next Michael Franti is living in a warren of scavenged plywood and shoddy hand-me-down DIY wiring that no one from the city has been by to inspect.

Why does it sound like the members of Imagine Dragons lived in, like, normal houses or apartments and weren’t forced by their precious craft to live in a storm drain under the Strip, where they wouldn’t have had to imagine rats? I prefer the Bay Area to Las Vegas, too, but what, exactly, is so soulcrushing about living in, I dunno, Merced as a way of having an affordable, code-compliant place to stay?

The use of starving artists to normalize ramshackle fire traps is a bad sign. The other day I heard some dipshit in Denver being interviewed on NPR about how dismayed she was that her city government had been cracking down on underground artists’ lofts (I did not just write that) just because of the Ghost Ship fire. Yeah, let’s not get all anal about cladding just because of Grenfell, and while we’re at it, how about we stop sending NTSB go teams to the scene of every serious plane crash, geez, guys, we’re really crimping aviation’s style. This dipshit said that she’d lived in Denver her whole life. I don’t know what exactly she meant by Denver, but surely she was accurate enough for a national audience. For some reason, though, it was crucial to her process or some shit to be allowed to live in a jury-rigged firetrap, and, if I remember correctly (because I’ve poured enough mind-sweat into this piece already without looking anything up), she was glad that the city had finally started allowing artists to live in warehouses again and had gotten over the excessive caution that had consumed it just because a similar building put to similar use in a comparable city had recently killed three dozen in a peacetime Guernica.

Lenin was right: the intellectuals are not society’s brains, but its shit. This dipshit in Denver didn’t say whether she had any relatives in the area or, if so, whether any of them might have been willing to house her in a building that was up to code. This is really suspicious. It just sounds like, if the subject had been pushed, she would have admitted that her parents were in JeffCo, but JeffCo is just so stifling, just not a good place to pursue her work.

Yeah, go tell Rod Blagojevich. The use of artists to normalize uninhabitable dwellings apparently causes a less uneasy feeling than would result from defending the necessity of having, say, slaughterhouse workers live in a dormitory separated from the killing floor by a sliding door and bunk in shifts as the only way to make ends meet. That would sound feudal. It would be embarrassing and scandalous. Artists, though, are coded as affluent and educated, so it’s okay for them to live in piles of inflammable industrial detritus with faulty wiring nearby for convenient ignition. They aren’t, like, actually starving; they’re living on Top Ramen in bunkhouses because they freely chose not to go into investment banking. That is, they’re shabby chic bohemians, not victims of intolerable but fixable structural problems in the housing market.

Every goddamn thing about the hipster movement sometimes seems orchestrated to justify bad housing, labor, and general economic policy by cultivating the appearance that young people today are voluntary minimalists who don’t want to be tied down to a decent job and house. The unspoken question raised by the “tiny house” movement is why the hell people whose parents have terminal degrees, stable jobs, and title to real estate are living in half-length single-wide trailers on other people’s property. It is impossible that a generation decided en masse that having so much as a studio apartment was bullshit. That did not happen.

The tiny house crowd isn’t even really the traveling type. I feel like much less of a loser parking my Focus at, say, Donner Pass one night and Gold Run a couple nights later than I do parking it at the same rest area every other night for weeks on end. There’s some point to living austerely on the cheap if it enables budget travel. That isn’t what tiny houses do. They’re basically the one brother who lives in an old boat in the other brother’s front yard on Simon & Simon. When that happens in the midst of simultaneous foreclosure, student debt, and housing affordability crises, it isn’t because everyone is suddenly really into boats.

Uber wasn’t able to recruit drivers because everyone got sick of having stable payroll work all of a sudden. Five million people dropping off the national payroll in the United States from 2008 to 2009 wasn’t the effect of take this job and shove it; it was the effect of take this serf and shove him. Why the hell would anyone want to do piece work for TaskRabbit or Mechanical Turk if there was stable work available doing just about anything else? Much of the dot-com economy today is nothing but the techdick enclosure of Craigslist gig and rideshare boards. Just about everyone who supposedly turns the Uber app on to raise money to go to Coachella and then turns it off to actually go to Coachella already had the resources to go to Coachella without driving for Uber. Let’s not be idiots here: the independent contractors (sic) who use these apps with the nonchalant independence and flexibility that is their advertised purpose have other, more secure, and often less working-for-a-living ways to get fucking stoked.

By these I mainly mean parental handouts and sugaring proceeds. These aren’t the most reputable arrangements, but they’re a huge improvement over going to Coachella with Joel Salazar, in which case one is fucking stoked to literally wake and bake. The advertising campaigns for the hip apps these days are all premised on an extremely secure upper-middle-class to downright upper-class level of personal wealth or generously shared family wealth. This is surely a function of the socioeconomic backgrounds of those producing and approving the ad copy. Our ad men and women and their clients come from backgrounds in which it is not considered enviable and shockingly rare not to have to consistently work for a living as a minimal condition of not ending up in the rescue mission by the fourth of next month. Being able to take time off willy-nilly and not end up homeless and flat broke is normal in their world. In some of these companies, literally everyone, and I mean literally literally, either has parents contributing to her rent or some inheritance or other source of support, likely constituting prostitution, to keep her clear of some deal where she ends up eating Great Value pork and beans out of a can on skid row.

Yes, I gendered that intentionally. Ooh, I’m getting a clue, and if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’re getting a clue, too! Sort of; we’re talking about communications majors here, and as I age I become even less stuposexual. Much of what’s socioeconomically otherworldly about the ad copy in our midst can be explained by the otherworldly upbringings and ongoing socioeconomic security and prosperity of the people who come up with the ads. I wouldn’t particularly doubt that I’m in the 100th percentile of socioeconomic security, solvency, and stable family background among the homeless, and I’d be surprised if I’m not in the top quintile, but the ad campaigns for shit like how cool it is to drive for Uber are clearly dreamed up by people who cannot possibly imagine that my homelessness is anything but a lifestyle that I freely chose for aesthetic and cultural reasons instead of just getting a career-track job in sales at a Fortune 500 or, barring that, successfully asking my parents to immediately rent me an apartment in Park Slope. What else would we expect of people whose own parents got them apartments in buildings with elevators in Chelsea and gave them allowances so that they could take unpaid internships at NBC?

These are people who have never faced the adversity of having to deal with slumlords who would be fired for showing a hint of the same attitude just once in the places where they live, let alone slept in their cars. They would shit bricks if they faced situations that no longer faze me in the slightest, and I’m painfully aware of how lucky I am compared to many of the homeless people I see on a regular basis, or, for that matter, compared to housed people who live in neighborhoods that are more dangerous than the rest areas where I pull over for the night.

“Would you rent me an apartment?” is bolder than I have the nerve to go with my parents, but it isn’t as bold as “buy me this house.” Buyers who need financing have been having trouble closing deals in many markets because they’re being outbid by cash buyers who got their parents to foot the bill. These markets, from what I can tell, are not in Gary or Indio. It isn’t, gee, Ma, I’m still sleeping in my car, or gee, I’m living in rat filth in an uninsulated old milking parlor (which is why the former isn’t always so awful); it’s omg I’m sick of renting in Playa Vista, plz buy me a house. Hell, the Insurance Schmuck lives rent-free with a financial millionaire he knows from work; I don’t live rent-free unless I crash with my parents, who live in an area with awfully thin job prospects.

It shouldn’t be too hard to see why I’m sick of being criticized by people whose living situations are dramatically more stable and whose costs of living are often much lower than mine, and of listening to the same people act like their economic behavior isn’t distorting the hell out of the economy where the less connected, many of them much worse off than me, have to live. It’s hell on the rest of us, but they aren’t part of the rest. They’re in the connected class that benefits from the financialization of the economy that screws people like me over. Some of us are really just trying not to end up anywhere that will get us killed.

Living in a tiny house because that’s the only obvious way to safeguard one’s life, limb, and welfare is reasonable. So is parking a Focus somewhere safe and sleeping in it. So is sleeping on city buses, even if the VTA has its head in the sand not to deploy a fully articulated fleet overnight on the 22. It is unfathomably condescending to pretend that such a decision must be a voluntary one made on the part of people who keep giving up opportunities to live in inhabitable dwellings where they are not at risk of assault or murder at the hands of management and/or neighbors, but I have no shortage of people around me who are unfathomable from what I’ve come to know as the real world.

I’d like to think that Pot-o-Shit Friend is the most dismaying of them, but like me, he responded more or less rationally (maybe less) to bizarre incentives under conditions of drastically diminished options. I’d have to conclude that he’s perfectly lucid and adequately capable of advocating for himself if his reaction to his own housewarming gift was to head back east and tell his relatives, uh, that didn’t work out so well, maybe you can help me out here. He’s probably shitting in a trash can again, but I could be underestimating him.

I know that I’m not underestimating the permanently housed and affluent. Not a damn chance. They pay good money for their own idiocy. I don’t resent them for paying money for something sensible, like a house, but buying privilege is always something worth resenting. I lives here; can I come in? P. J. O’Rourke muttering, “Oh, Christ, you again” at least recognizes that there’s a problem that ought to be addressed at some point. That’s a lot more than I can say for some others, but that’s just another example of the difference between schooled and educated.

The awful pain of giving a shit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

An inspiration to Maoism

The Insurance Schmuck’s boss is a fucking shyster. I used to give him the benefit of the doubt in spite of attitudes, on his own part and on the part of underlings who were taking instruction from and currying favor with him, that can most charitably be described as shockingly crass and insensitive, and in spite of a parallel, growing line of evidence that he was kind of nuts and lived a life of projectile chaos that he did nothing to mitigate. This is the guy who told the Insurance Schmuck, “If you want to be quality, surround yourself with quality.” That is, if you want to be rich, sidle up and suck up to rich people. That alone offended me, because I don’t like having impressionable friends get corrupted by that kind of sleazy, sleazy shit, but the Insurance Schmuck told me of it before I started to realize just how crazy the boss is and that his fiancee is even crazier.

I’ve gone drinking with both of them and seen the Boss (Springsteen sounds less balls to the wall) at the office when I was visiting, under what I took to be normal circumstances that had not been sanitized for my benefit. The Boss, whom we can also call ISB in shorthand, just to keep clear that he is not responsible for New Jersey’s finest singing of songs, seemed just a tiny bit intense at work but basically reasonable. I’d heard stories, so his calmness surprised me. By the time he and his fiancee got out to the bar that night, he had presumably been up for about eighteen hours on four hours’ sleep, and his behavior was loopy enough to believe it. I immediately took his fiancee to be something of a crazy bitch, although, again, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I’d dealt with much worse and much less placable drunks; these two seemed like they might possibly escalate some shit if someone really got up in their faces but were peaceable enough that I wouldn’t be the asshole to give them the casus belli.

I was right, for the evening. Then the Insurance Schmuck started telling me crazy stories about ISB and ISBF (who probably should sound like a bowel disease advertised on television and/or a dodgy intelligence agency): driving to Florida and back all day and night under frightening circumstances of sleep deprivation; the fiancee getting angry to an extent that the Insurance Schmuck reluctantly admitted crossed the line into domestic violence; the other (much prettier and marginally saner) woman whom ISB kept around the house as an unpaid sort of chamber lady to keep his main bitch vaguely simmered down, but whom he then blamed for eating his food and clogging her shower drain with her hair; this other woman, also a sometime girlfriend of the Insurance Schmuck’s, performing unpaid domestic bitch labor for this couple as a way of maintaining a standing invitation to their shore house; ISBF cutting her credit card debt only from $30k to $20k over the course of years living with ISB, almost exclusively at his expense, and fishing for justification for her purchase of, inter alia, a $14,000 wristwatch.

I.e., bish be cray, dawg. The Insurance Schmuck told me that she got upset with him when he told her, in response to a point-blank question about what he splurged on after closing major deals, that his most recent splurge had been on two Lacoste beach towels costing a total of something like $25. She’d wanted to hear that he’d bought some really expensive shit, so she did not enjoy being made to feel like a confirmed spendthrift just for having a watch that was worth an order of magnitude more than my Civic.

If I came into jewelry like that, I’d start looking at Prius ads. Or flyover country real estate. The Boss has this ultra-high-maintenance girlfriend with frank emotional and behavioral problems, but it’s no mystery how he landed her. She’s the first to recognize quality and surround herself with it. Dude shows off his wealth and brags about it, and bitches come digging for dem shine bling. A man of his persona will inevitably attract psychotherapists’ wet dreams like moths to his lamp. ISB inevitably drives dem shine whip, although I couldn’t tell you what kind of car because it isn’t a train and my mind consequently glazes over. Just this morning, a pump jockey chatted me up about my Focus (in which I had just gotten an exceptionally good night’s sleep, even by the standards of indoor bed sleeping), and just about the only comments of his that I was able to follow were that he has 258,000 miles on his Focus and there’s another model with 350 horsepower and Wow Much Torx. That’s 350 more than the FP40 cab control/baggage car on a California Comet consist, but hook a Genesis up to the other end and you’ve got yourself one of America’s bitchinest rides. I used to think the Genesis was ugly af, but it’s grown on me over the years. By the way, those were extremely low-class comments, since I do not own and operate a train, a railroad, or a car that I could trade in for inhabitable turnkey housing stock.

The Insurance Schmuck got me badly sunburned a few weeks ago by getting me to take off my shirt and lay out on the cabana at his private pool club. I later saw pictures of him and a colleague on the same deck, fully clothed, so he duly made a compliant little bitch of me. He was right about the birdwatching, but I wouldn’t have objected to fully clothed women, either, so it wasn’t hypocritical of me to be annoyed by a case of sunburn serious enough to delay my return travel reservations west until it stopped oozing and feeling like hell.

One chick he ran into at the pool was the ex-girlfriend of a colleague who, he told me later, had sued the Boss for not delivering on promised equity in a business partnership that the Boss had recruited him to join as a junior partner. The Insurance Schmuck implicitly had no problem with the likelihood that his boss had defrauded a junior business partner; his problem with the situation was that it had come to involve lawyers and bad feelings. Basically, he was scandalized by a breach of face. He expressed no sense of holy shit I’m working for a shyster. From what he’s said, I have no reason to believe that the allegations or the suit were bogus. It sounds like a member of the bitch pool decided not to bend over and take it like a good binch. The plaintiff had upset the apple cart by being insolent to one of the authority figures that the Insurance Schmuck so diligently fluffs and airing dirty laundry.

The plaintiff’s legacy to his ex-girlfriend, according to the Insurance Schmuck, includes a nice set of tits, rent on her bitchin’ pad in Center City or Northern Liberties or wherever the fuck she lives (not Kensington of any hue), and enough walking-around money for the pool club membership. This chick looked exceptionally well put-together, more obviously employable than most of the women poolside, so I was surprised to be told that she was a sort of sugar baby on voluntary alimony. The story was that she works but doesn’t make enough to pay for la dolce vita on her own. When I work, I don’t make enough on my own not to stay in a rescue mission, so I’m not here to hate; some of the places in Philadelphia where this chick is not staying ought to be condemned, and plenty more ought to be seized by the housing authority, which wouldn’t necessarily do a worse job on maintenance. This chick isn’t why housing allocation and policy in America are a clusterfuck. Besides, she and her ex-boyfriend sound like some of the most upstanding people involved in the insurance business in any fashion, given the seedy shit I’m hearing about others, at least one of whom the ex has had to sue.

It’s telling that what the Insurance Schmuck found most scandalous was that a number of the women at the club, including a colleague’s ex-girlfriend, were strippers. He swore me to silence about his colleague dating a stripper who was trying to get out of the business. Haidt-fuck me now, Ghomeshi. Stripping isn’t my scene, but it’s reputable. If it’s a shitty job, that sucks, but so, by many reckonings, does working at Denny’s. Cousin Gigolo would sympathize with women who are looking to find a man to take care of them, and turn green with envy at the quality of the apartments, even houses, that they’re eyeing as part of the deal.

The Insurance Schmuck knows women who aren’t self-actualized at work in their thirties, and I, on the cusp of 35, slept in my car last night. Whoopdefuckingdoo. Do I look down on women for being strippers? No. Of course not. I mean, not any more than I look down on any showboating celebrity for maybe being kind of obnoxious in their work. The sexualization isn’t what I find distasteful about stripping; it’s more that stripping occupies a really weird mental space that some other forms of sex work do not, and that isn’t a head space that I’m interested in exploring. I figure I’m likelier to marry a hooker than any other sort of woman, so I’m not looking to be Captain Save-a-Ho. For that matter, I know from personal experience that there is no definitive emotional, social, or psychological profile to which sex workers uniformly conform. The Insurance Schmuck has boned all these amateur chicks, many of whom are way too crazy to function as hookers, so he would think that. (Heh. I initially wrote that as “fucktion.” Maybe I didn’t sleep so well after all.)

Here’s something I don’t see whores doing: angling for a cut of the investment estate that I’ll inherit when my parents die. The Insurance Schmuck has been doing that. He’s tactful about it, but there’s still something deeply wrong with the entire mentality that allows a person to even consider raising the subject. Basic decency and consideration should prohibit it. It should be obvious that we don’t go there, we just don’t. But nothing under ISB is obvious. Consciously cultivating rich people as presences in one’s life and sucking up to them for a cut of their money shouldn’t be the done thing, either. The thought of going through life with such a mentality should be mortifying.

An aggravating factor to the Insurance Schmuck’s longer-term prospecting of me is that I already have money that I can spare to invest with him, but he’s all like, nah, we try to work with high-net-worth individuals. Uh, excuse me? I’m not good enough to do business with you, but my parents are, so when they die I will finally rise to that level? What a shitty, shitty way to approach a friend. And I goddamn well resent the Boss for putting such ideas in the Insurance Schmuck’s head. He’s too craven and chickenshit to stand up to bad authority figures, but if he were under the direction of someone reputable, someone who abhorred profiting off the deaths of clients’ loved ones because he regarded death as too solemn and sensitive to financialize, he wouldn’t be approaching me in that fashion.

It is because he works for a man of frankly bad character that he’s already working up a game plan to profit from my parents’ eventual deaths at a time when they’re both in reasonably good health. I have every reason to be furious at his boss, not just annoyed. And I’m not too far off base to entertain conspiratorial thoughts. The Insurance Schmuck is in close touch with a mutual friend from college who comes from a wealthy family (the blowhard who wrote the shit about Bill Durden and Charles Nisbet) but is completely out of touch with another mutual friend who comes from a more modest family without discretionary investment funds, with whom I’ve stayed in touch very consistently (the attorney in DC). There are other factors at play, but it’s eerie that it’s turned out that way, and I can’t help but wonder if some of it isn’t a function of his working for Crooked Midas. The Insurance Schmuck didn’t act like that when he was working as a lifeguard and a pool company territory manager. I doubt he’d be acting like that if he weren’t in a sales position now, or even if he were in a sales position in an office with real scruples.

Learning that ISB finagled cut-rate work out of a junior partner by bullshitting him about his future stake in the business (beyond the Land of Make-Believe, we call it fraud) definitely makes me less inclined to give that fucker any quarter. I don’t care that he bought me drinks once. I don’t fucking give a shit. He strings along domestic labor from that quasi-ex-girlfriend of the Insurance Schmuck’s by implying continuing invitations to his shore house. It’s like dacha blat in the former USSR, except that dacha gardens provided something like two thirds of Soviet produce. All we have is some asshole fucking around in a beach mansion while the Dunkin’ Doorman bothers me for coffee money. No, that wasn’t too fair; the Dunkin’ Doorman has better morals and objectively better manners than ISB, thirty seconds of direct annoyance instead of years of duplicity and corruption, even of other people’s friendships. The Dunkin’ Doorman gets his money from the living; ain’t no dead man coming by for coffee, after all. Hard to enjoy that brew when you’re the grounds. Remember, man, you are dust, and to dust my thumb feels ready to return about now.

Ash Wednesday repetitive stress isn’t the only reason I’ve stayed out of the priesthood, but it’s a start. At this point, I’ll admire anyone who isn’t a fucking asshole about matters of death. Yeah, it’s rude to say that, but that’s the point, and at least it’s solemn. I’m not one to lord it over the priesthood or the hookerhood on account of my own good morals, but I don’t mind lording it over a bumptious shithead who needles one of my closest friends to inquire with me about my prospective cut of my parents’ estate but not to see about doing normal, non-offensive business with me using money I already have. I frankly am morally superior to ISB. No two ways about it; he’s a bottomfeeding gobshite who wouldn’t have anything to eat without people like me picking the damn fruit, and I am not. Hell, I feel bad about expressing my own superior manners to the Dunkin’ Doorman’s after thinking over ISB’s loose morals, and the Dunkin’ Doorman gets up in everybody’s face in the ghetto (in the ghetto).

The Insurance Schmuck has some of the rudest, most batshit insane, most offensive people working in his business. He told me that they nearly excluded the most well-mannered, calmest salesman in their study group from participating because his sales numbers were marginal. The top producer in that group, who I took to be a marginal sort of Willy Loman case, turns out to be a balls-to-the-wall wacko who claims to get by on only an hour of sleep a night. He must be exaggerating. Right? I honestly don’t know. He seemed a little bit off when I met him, but I couldn’t quite put a finger on it, and as with ISB and ISBF, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Knowing what I’ve been told now, I’d sooner give his yacht to the Dunkin’ Doorman, who would enjoy it more and make better use of it than that fucker is while he’s on his way to flopping over dead from a catastrophic heart attack at the age of fifty. Supposedly this dude is a self-made man whose parents kicked him out at sixteen. Way to be an asshole about it, though.

Why do I get the feeling that that whole business is poisonous? And why do I get the feeling that the political ramifications of all this Glengarry Glen Ross shit make it even harder for me to make a go of it as someone who tries to be an honest and tangibly productive member of society? I can’t sympathize with them. It’s just impossible. Most people who get kicked out of the house at sixteen don’t have a fucking yacht. The Dunkin’ Doorman isn’t up on the bridge humming Leon Bridges tunes. More like sail the ship right into the pier, now, and stand back and laugh while the owner has a raging mad. Now now, do you not have adequate insurance to cover such events, and are you not in the business of planning for the misery of others?

By the way, balls-to-the-wall yacht dude can’t do basic arithmetic. On the same night that I rode to Palo Alto with a bunch of disabled frequent fliers who were using the VTA 22 bus as their shelter, this fucker bragged to us about how the 49ers raise “millions of dollars” at charity bocce events. What a fucking dipshit. He’s supposedly a multimillionaire with mid- to high-seven-figure income, so other multimillionaires are able to raise a portion of any of their individual net worth in an evening, an amount that would also cover part of one percent of Santa Clara County’s local government budgets.

Is it that I have to understand math because my personal budgeting depends on it? I’ve raised hundreds of cents in less than an hour by scavenging deposit bottles out of trash cans. You’d be amazed by how much Starbucks I’ve been able to buy with it.

There are less reputable places to work than Gobias Industries. It’s never the bums who accuse me of not working for a living. They aren’t the ones who weaponize the work ethic. They recognize that the labor theory of value is something between a myth in the classical sense and a crock of shit. The proper thing for me to tell my contacts in the insurance business is that yes bitch I do work for a living, but what y’all do at the office doesn’t look a whole lot like work to me.

The proper thing for me to tell ISB is for the love of all holiness to pull his head out of his damn ass. All the same, I don’t want to strut around here and brag that I’m that proper. It’s bad Catholic praxis to compare our most grievous fault to the more grievous around us. Which I just did, through my most grievous, ad nauseam. But in this case, I came in a spirit of judgment, not mercy. This ain’t Planet Fitness, cracka.

Other sides of town

On the same day when my dad and I had lunch in one of the prolific bougie-ass eateries out past the SUNY Albany campus in Stuyvesant Plaza (my heavens, Poirot, truly, if one is not Dutch, one is not much!), a particularly bad house fire destroyed three houses and displaced dozens of residents just up the hill from the Amtrak right of way four miles to the east, in the ghetto (in the ghetto).

Oh. That liturgy again. Mustn’t we have a different one, by which we might proclaim that white lives matter, too? Never mind. Stuyvesant Plaza has a mostly white but racially integrated customer base. The ghetto row house fire over on Manning displaced an integrated community, too, not just a Community, but if you think that’s the salient aspect of this disaster, take a fucking look at the neighborhood. Why, hello, neighbor! Beautiful day; would you be mine? Actually, on second thought, I’d prefer not to be yours. CDTA doesn’t do trolleys, either, so there’s that, too.

I don’t always watch the local television news, but when I do, I usually need another Dos Equis. This is reminiscent of the time my dad was looking at houses for sale in Ilion, with an eye towards buying me one, in the same week that Ilion managed to lend one of its murderers to Glens Falls, my parents’ county seat. Albany hollows out because it’s fallen onto the wrong side of the tipping point that leaves it with residents like the shady losers on the video clip in that link. Thanks a lot, Gladwell. “Inner city” has increasingly become a misnomer for bad parts of town in the United States, just as it has been for generations in Europe, but it isn’t off the mark for a shithole like Albany. The worst I can say about downtown Troy is that it’s spatially disorganized and a bit rundown. What I’ve seen of Rensselaer is mostly just on the low end of mediocre. I often keep an eye out when I’m passing through the Capital District, either by road or by rail, and the outer parts of downtown Albany stand out for scary decrepitude. As Billy Fish says in Streets of Fire, I can’t go there! That place is the shits! Having browsed real estate listings for blighted houses and razed lots brokered by the Albany County Land Bank, I agree: it’s a whole big lot of the shits.

Who, then, inhabits this positive feedback loop? Again, the shits. I had a powerfully negative gut reaction to everything about the human and canine tableau from the street in front of that fire scene. The canine part was pit bulls of exactly the sort that Michael Vick might take into his place of business, never to honor or cherish. Similarly, I wouldn’t trust what any of the residents I glimpsed in the news footage for reassurances that pit bulls actually have really nice temperaments and are just misunderstood. That’s the kind of thing the residents look like they’d say about their boyfriends, too. Girlfriends? I wouldn’t rule that out, either. It mustn’t be the worst neighborhood to find what the ghetto-ass bitches of 103rd Street in South Los Angeles call “just a ghetto-ass bitch.” (“She ugly! She always gonna be ugly! Her hair always gonna be nappy! She wanted me to bring some food, but I ain’t gonna do that on principle!”)

The video clip in that link gave me an instant, overwhelming feeling that these fuckers are trouble and their dogs are trouble, that they’re trouble on account of their dogs and that their dogs are trouble on account of them, and that the continued breeding of any of their lineages would inevitably be dysgenic. I have no guilt about saying any of this. It has to be said. People like them poison their own neighborhoods. When I get priced out of decent neighborhoods, they end up poisoning my neighborhoods, too. That’s one of the reasons why I sleep at rest areas so often. I try to stay away from shady hood rats who saunter around in public wearing exposed wifebeaters and trashy women who keep fighting dogs and then bullshit everyone about how they totally aren’t dangerous and totally weren’t bred just for the amusement of childhood associates of Michael Vick. People like them make excuses for their own aggressively chaotic behavior; it is in no way my duty to second their self-justifications.

As a broader society, we’re fucking witless and hapless and derelict before these people. The problem with prison, aside from the evil of imprisoning people who aren’t ongoing dangers to society, is that prison is boarding school for cholo-ass gangbanger shitheads. Most of them come back to the old hood after a study abroad period during which they often enjoy significant social continuity with their neighbors from adolescence. Really well thought out, guys. Instead of a few gangs of troublemakers at loose ends in a neighborhood with moderating peaceable influences from women, children, the elderly, and more sensible men, we set up entire campuses of nothing but hardened men with criminal records and the sorts of people who are willing, allowed, and occasionally even able to work around concentrated hordes of hardened criminals. How could this possibly go awry?

We don’t do a hell of a lot better with the ones left behind in the hood while homeboy is off in the hoosegow: tenants’ rights protections that are weak in most jurisdictions as written and useless everywhere in practice, underfunded school systems that are dismissed as professional Siberia for career staff and cravenly exploited as stepping stones to graduate school by the social climbers in Teach For America, comprehensively deficient government services. Private one-on-one relationships are always a possible path to neighborhood improvement, but who the hell wants to go into a physically disintegrating ghetto full of the people and dogs in that video clip and try to reach out to the least recalcitrant? It turns out that it’s mostly religious busybodies, i.e., yet another source of chaos.

Donald Trump seems to get that these neighborhoods are in trouble and that their young people need a more coherent sense of purpose, but his thinking is scatterbrained and inchoate, and, as with pretty much every other president we’ve had, supporting poor majority-black neighborhoods is a low priority for him. He understands, maybe indirectly, that we won’t be integrating the people on that video into the knowledge economy or the creative economy or whatever the fuck we’re calling it this month. Knowledge of what? How to bullshit the gullible about the temperament of the neighborhood pit bulls? We’ve got a bunch of dogs over there that surely come from troubled lineages and surely have been raised in troubled environments, so maybe their owners can communicate to create (well, now!) post hoc excuses for how and why the maulings of passing schoolchildren just kind of unfortunately happened for a living. It doesn’t take much to tell that that neighborhood is under the sway of its own trouble (trouble, trouble, trouble; am I mistaken, Miss Swift?).

The most viable solution is to reorganize the economy in some fashion so that the relatively competent and ambitious residents of these shitty neighborhoods are able to make a decent living doing something menial but productive and work their way up towards better things as they and their descendants are able. We’re able to fritter away the national treasury on foreign wars in hostile sand pits where our boys and girls hardly speak the language but not to reimpose tariffs on Chinese flipflops and lightbulbs. What the fuck? I’ve been getting flak for advocating protectionism again, but I can’t help but suspect that one of the reasons why the United States has a trade policy that so exposes its manufacturers and their employees to cutthroat foreign competition is that our government has spent the last twenty-plus years pursuing anything but protectionism, that we haven’t succeeded because we refuse to try. What we have instead are proliferations of chav dysfunction in the socioeconomic vacuums left behind where the productive economy has been mothballed. We have constellations of old mining and mill towns on the skids, and our decision as a polity has consistently been to run away while they turn into incubators of god-awful dysfunction and misery, on the spurious assumption that they’ll somehow gentrify. Spoiler: it ain’t happening.

When efforts actually are made to do something for these communities, they regularly end up being needlessly confrontational or arrogant. IUD-for-EBT schemes to sterilize welfare mothers like so many excess deer put residents on edge about soft genocide and stir up the hornet’s nest. Casino redevelopment leads to pawn shops, problem gambling, an economic worldview predicated on insane bullshit, and before long casinos cannibalizing one another and their owners paying for airtime to pester viewers to write to their elected officials in support of regulatory capture. Frank massacres of restive populations would provoke riots, guerrilla insurgencies, or terrorist attacks; see Ferguson for a mild and quite restrained preview of the available civilian avenues of redress. We’re already earning the ugly dividends of our cancerous penal state. The social and political blowback from the opiate mess will be ricocheting everywhere for years to come.

We already have these adrift, aggrieved barbarians within our gates, but what does the Democratic establishment want to do? Hang out at Panera and call that praxis. What does the Republican establishment want to do? Market-based something-something dignity of work and Kwesi Millington for Sheriff. The Donald still doesn’t look like he can hold a candle to the Bern on industrial policy, but he’s just about all we’ve got working that beat in a federal leadership position. Pelosi? Schumer? McConnell? Ryan? Turn Big Ears Teddy around and haidt-fuck me now, Sweet Baby J. 

That’s still less disturbed than our partisan leadership teams, and also much of what I’ve read of the meta-Haidt literature. These shitheads claim to come to Washington on a quest of principles, so it’s fascinating to learn that being an oily crook and deliberately letting constituents die are principles now. Big Ears shouldn’t have to see any of this.

There are competent, sober, well-meaning people who try to bridge the gap left behind in abandoned cities by disastrous industrial policy and official neglect. I’ve been lucky to meet some of them. One of them is an ex-Detroit cop who worked with my cousin’s husband in a mentorship program for at-risk high school boys in Ann Arbor. This guy is one of the calmest, most levelheaded, most naturally urbane people I’ve ever met. It didn’t surprise me much to learn that he, too, had gotten the hell out of Detroit and quit the force. These are both popular movements. Is it because he’s white? He’s black, so probably not. This alleged white flight always involves surprisingly much of the Community these days. Sure, it’s a 91% black population that’s left behind, almost La Haye-style, but that’s due to differing distributions of education, income, marketable skills, and so forth by race, which overlap at the margins. I’m reading between the lines a bit here because my mom talked to this fellow at much greater length than I did, but when a city is too chaotic and threatening for someone who has his head on that straight, it’s got problems. I’m pretty sure, too, that the Detroit PD is too derp-derp to establish a reserve unit in an effort to lure back cops who are able and willing to take small doses of the crazy but want to do something more fruitful with the bulk of their careers.

On the other hand, I hear that Detroit’s collapse has opened a new frontier for urban goat herders, and that’s aggie even for Da-a-a-a-a-vis. Sometimes a badly troubled city can end up with some exceptionally resourceful people setting up shop in unexpected niches. Ironically, parts of Detroit may be so abandoned that small communities of homesteaders and entrepreneurs are able to move in and provide a majority of the eyes on the street just by showing up. I’ve never visited Detroit, so I’m going based on news articles and accounts from acquaintances who have spent time there, but it sounds like it’s developed a really unusual urban fabric in recent decades.

One of the reasons why I despair about this stuff so easily and get so wound up is that I feel like I’m the only person stumbling into the margins and then trying to hold the line in defense of middle-class values like not starting a street fight with another thug at the light rail station because you say the other guy sold meth to your kid sister. I hardly ever detect functional people from the broad middle class, and I mean really broad, who are there to shoulder some bit of the burden. All the woke folk are off at Panera, doing politics and shit, among what they construe as Democrats. (LOL.) I really don’t feel like being the only functional, non-underclass person who’s trying to provide ad hoc adult supervision in some neighborhood prison yard while all my peers are off in the land of Harry Potter and Josiah Bartlett, being the great winners that we were all taught to be. I certainly don’t want to be the little bitch who keeps doing that for free while maybe half of one percent of the peers I’m following on Facebook admit to some sort of unemployment. Hence the eye that I keep out for deposit bottles. Chaka Can Chaka Can; I welcome the money and the cash, Chaka Can.

The other thing is that I have to protect myself from that dysfunction. Cousin Gigolo comes from a rural family that isn’t much different from the shadies in that video from the fire. Hell, his mother burned her trailer down for the insurance money; do that to a rowhouse, and you, too, could be on TV. I know all these yuppies who live in places like Manayunk and Pacific Beach, and I really don’t take kindly to any of them suggesting that I’m the one who’s failing to adult. They have no idea how good they have it and how much economic redlining goes into keeping them safe from the abandoned rabble. At least when I sleep at rest areas, I know what I’m fleeing and can give turn-by-turn driving directions to it. I might even be able to locate the house in Camden that I saw on fire half a block south of the Speed Line over the winter.

Please accept my warmest welcome into this world.

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.

Coffee Hour with Carlos Danger

It’s a foregone conclusion that Anthony Weiner will do time in federal prison for sexting a piece of Carolina jailbait. This is a blatant case of politically driven prosecutorial overreach leading to a miscarriage of justice and the wrongful delivery of yet another human sacrifice into the maw of our grotesque carceral state. As American miscarriages of justice go, Weiner’s is minor, almost pedestrian, but when a former member of the US House of Representatives who’s married (in some fashion or other; like I have the energy to follow that seedy soap opera from day to day) to a high-ranking aide to a major-party presidential candidate gets sucked into the criminal justice buzzsaw over one of his pitiful electronic flashing incidents, none of us should feel safe from that awful machine.

Weiner was apparently subjected to a tacitly selective prosecution on account of his marriage to Huma Abedin, but his high profile should not assuage our fear of prosecutorial overreach as obscure private citizens who aren’t married to Washington bigshots. Basically, we’re talking about a petty, completely peaceable sexual pervert who is being subjected to the full crushing force of the federal gulag because he happens to be domestically involved with a high-level assistant to a bigtime political crook. He didn’t get into trouble because of what he did; he got into trouble because his electronic trail crossed paths with the electronic trails of people close to him who were running a completely separate, much more destructive criminal enterprise and his electronic devices were swept up in federal raids targeting serious criminality for which he has not been charged and of which he appears completely innocent. That the original targets of the investigation (especially Hillary Clinton) have not been charged just adds insult to injury, since there’s an actual public interest in bringing them to justice but the only party to face criminal charges is a tangential one who was too hapless to cover his own tracks or successfully outmaneuver the feds.

It’s the Starr Report all over again, but with hard time. This is nothing to celebrate. It’s something to fear. It’s a threat to liberty and equity, something to demand be put to a definitive end.

It’s praxis to make fun of smooth public perverts by way of pancaking their elaborate public relations operations into a pile of smoldering rubble. This is why one should be proud to refer to Coach by worthy epithets such as Denny Dundiddly (with or without the leading J., to taste–which absolutely is not why we’re here), Diddlin’ Dennis, or the Inadvertent Minnesotan, and, in the Happy Valley context, to extend to any Nittany Lion apologist one’s sincere hope that the grope and the perv of our Lord’s Servant Gerald be with you always. WE ARE–PEDO BEAR! It would be great fun, for that matter, to orchestrate a cover of “Cherish” by the Association with Jerry Sandusky, Jimmy Savile, and Graham Spanier forming an A Capella chorus and the bells rhythmically chiming in from Joe Paterno’s open casket; the only reason I’ve never produced an animated cartoon to this effect is my own technical ineptitude as a draftsman and an audiovisual producer. (I’m on the fence as to whether I’d like Bill Cosby to round out this trio into a foursome; I’m not sure that he’s quite weird enough.)

But these guys are seriously dangerous. Anthony Weiner is not. Exposing him is superfluous. Before he got into legal trouble for going to Carolina in his pants, he was notorious as the freak with the unsolicited dick pics. The mention of his name elicited reactions of, oh God, not that creep again. Now that he’s pleaded guilty to minor internet perv and entered into a binding agreement not to appeal sentences running to a couple of years, even with maximum time off for good behavior, he’s still the loser with all the dick pics. He’s been getting called out and ridiculed for this shit for years.

Besides, Weiner dindu nuffin like Denny Dundiddly dun. Yes, that’s a complete sentence. If you think that was excruciating, try one that you have to serve at the BOP. Hastert managed not only to serially abuse boys who were under his authority as their public high school teacher and wrestling coach, but to intimidate them into silence for decades after the fact while he ascended to Speaker of the House. That whole situation was way the hell worse than anything Anthony Weiner shambolically achieved. We had a witness-intimidating sexual predator passing for normal so successfully that he became third in succession to the presidency, and his victims apparently didn’t even use confidential back channels to blow the whistle on him. The only reason he was exposed, very belatedly, was that one of his victims shook him down privately in a manner that cornered him into getting tripped up by arcane, draconian banking laws and then lying to FBI agents about what he’d done. The original conduct in the Sandusky scandal was even worse, although Sandusky’s victims and their parents behaved more responsibly than Hastert’s did, and one parent nearly got him to confess in a wire sting arranged by the Pennsylvania State Police years before he was finally arrested. The things Bill Cosby is accused of doing are vile, notwithstanding possible shortcomings in the credibility of his accusers.

All of these guys make Anthony Weiner look like a village idiot. One wonders how he ever had the acumen and the self-control to be elected to Congress. He comes across like he’d get tripped up running to be a town selectman. But as I’ve always maintained around here, low-functioning pests are vastly preferable to high-functioning ones. Weiner isn’t even a proper psychopath; Diddlin’ Dennis, Our Lord’s Servant Gerald, and Lord Pound Cake may be real psychopaths, but Weiner can hardly maintain frame for two minutes. He’s transparently dysfunctional and impulsive, so as embarrassing as his public self-service may be, when we elect him, we at least know what we’ve elected. A shlemiel like him keeps his constituents on guard. A smooth operator like Dennis Hastert is able to con the unwitting for decades and make a killing at public expense until suddenly, don’tcha know, he has to go north for a spell because it turns out that it was all a big hideous Winesburg LARP.

The big furor over Weiner’s downfall, of course, is that he sexted a minor. The implication here is that he is some horrific, unconscionable threat to the innocence of children. This is frankly as laughable as it is arbitrary and draconian. We’re talking about an adolescent victim, and most likely a rather precocious one. She was out on the internet chatting with strange men. Gross shit happens in chat rooms, but most of it isn’t enduringly harmful, and only a fool wouldn’t adopt viable reaction and coping mechanisms. If a fifteen-year-old of normal intelligence can’t figure out how to get up and walk away from gross shit on the internet, the girl’s got problems. By her mid-teens, an adolescent should be able to turn somewhere or to someone to get away from bad virtual situations. This is really pretty basic stuff. It applies to dudes, too, of course. There is gross shit on the internet. If you give someone unknown or untrustworthy your phone number, there may be yucky stuff on your phone, too. This is why parents and whoever else is mentoring a young person should teach and model ways to react to the yuck by getting away from it. If some loser is jacking off in front of the YMCA (it’s fun to stay there!), cross the street. If you see dogshit on the street, don’t go step on it, and if you do, find a more or less sanitary way to wipe it off. Or to shake it off, but they don’t raise them to be that mature in Wyomissing.

The truth is, the internet is a safe space for pig poop balls. So is any barnyard. I have reasons for working with plants. Chatting with strangers on the internet can result in unsolicited junk shots. Or, for Cousin Gigolo’s mother, it can result in moving to Florida in one’s forties to shack up with a distaff AOL chat pal (possible evidence of butch lesbianism), then ending up with $5.90 in one’s checking account and calling my mother in Pennsylvania with a sob story (evidence of mutual white trash-yuppie discord for which any lesbianism is merely the unpopped cherry on top). On the internet, we’re all grown-ups, although hardly any of us act it. Ooh, I just said “hardly!” I’m getting a raging clue, boy! The whole joint is a virtual Bowery, and everyone who has a lick of sense knows that there’s some heavy shit on Skid Row. At least it’s just virtual; whatever horrors one sees there can be put out of sight by fleeing back into the real world.

I assume a certain lack of chaos and danger in meatspace here, so your mileage may vary, but there’s probably something to be gained by not holing up on the damn web. Conversely, for people from really awful real-life environments, there may be much to be gained by fleeing TO the web. Regardless, a kid ought to learn how to put yucky stuff aside in the virtual stacks in preparation for when she starts using the internet to search for pornography. Yes, or he. I’d use the gender-neutral “shit,” but I don’t care to let my antecedents go totally AWOL. Let’s be honest: as with every other new communications technology, the internet’s early adopters were heavy on smut peddlers, and there’s an enduring demand for that crap. There’s shit you wouldn’t want to read in the library, too, and not all of it is sexually explicit. *Commanding Russell Williams Voice* What do you mean, “naked,” soldier? Look at this photograph; every time, you’ll see I’m wearing clothes. Specifically, smallclothes.

See? You went on the internet, and that just popped up over your transom. I #CommunicateToCreate #CanadianContent again. A Southern man don’t need any of them around, anyhow. Millington, they’re throwing furniture again. Do you copy? They’re all throwing furniture.

There’s certainly a possibility that our Carolina jailbait friend and her family are motioning the table. There are credible enough allegations circulating that this fifteen-year-old was used by her high-power Republican family as a honeypot to trap the Big Weiner. Yes, these are conspiracy theories, but not all conspiracy theories are nonsense. This kind of thing is all too plausible; just look at the Trumps. Some aristocratic families groom their children for the family business starting when they’re toddlers; that’s definitely the done thing in many wealthy parts of the South. The real defense that this brat has against assertions of her own moral responsibility, then, isn’t that she’s a minor per se, but that she’s the minor dependent of a sort of crime family. Archer isn’t just fiction; it’s also ethnography.

No, I won’t jump on the bandwagon to defend the Christian womanhood of wealthy white Southerners, or that of Betty Shelby. It ain’t me, Lawd.

At least the all-you-can-eat Weiner buffet has gotten Jeffrey Toobin to smirk uncontrollably at double entendres on CNN. That’s appropriate for any overeducated writer of true-crime potboilers. No one would give a shit about him if he merely practiced his beloved law. Dude makes his living in the gutter, so it’s only right that he’s caught wandering around snickering and covered in filth from time to time. I initially composed that as “only write,” so I’m not all present and accounted for myself. Just because counsel is entertaining and informative doesn’t mean that he’s also reputable. After all, why would I expect a man of good repute to tell me all about Kato Kaelin and his McGrilled chicken sandwich deal?

I came across some crap I was hoping not to see while scouring the meme mines for that (let me tell you about my trauma!), so you’d better enjoy it. The abyss has already gazed back into me today; y’all are up next.

Followup thoughts on how to get away with racial slurs on NPR

The “raped by a spic” thing from the other week deserves an essay of its own. It felt like a seminal moment in NPR history. Ew, I shouldn’t spout outbursts like that; I didn’t go to school to be a seaman. I didn’t go to school to do a lot of things, for that matter, but writing about this seedy shit is closer to my duty to Engage the World than hustling deposit bottles, which kinda sorta pays the bills.

There are other things that I could chronicle instead, but I might as well say the same thing about NPR first. That, after all, is where I learned the phrase “I want you to be raped by a spic or an N-word.” This really felt like an eerie unleashing of the Brahmin Id. Frank discussions of rape can be newsworthy (e.g., a recent item on All Things Considered about the forcible stripping of a Christian grandmother in Egypt by a Muslim village mob), but the crazy bitch from Georgetown wasn’t describing an actual rape. She was talking about vague trash talk from an internet troll who was taken with the idea of the sexual assault of his political opponents by racially denominated model felons. The difference between actual rape and what this Beltway dipshit suffered is the difference between the stomp whiteys who came after me in Black Kensington and someone hanging out on the internet all afternoon posting “whitey ass cracker bitch” into the void of some AOL flame war. Grown-ups don’t get bent out of shape over the coarse invective of total strangers on the internet who show no ability to cause them trouble in real life. Sure, there are misogynists on the loose here and there, and there are racists, but my problem with the stomp whiteys was that they assaulted me on a public street, not that they didn’t care for white folk; we didn’t have no internet to mediate that interaction, but man, I never will forget the way the one guy didn’t look more than about half black himself. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t care to be assaulted by white thugs, either. These things shouldn’t have to be spelled out, but we’re dealing with some awfully immature people yelling at us from positions of power, so they do.

Hearing a professor go on NPR and utter “spic” without hesitation but practically choke with embarrassment before self-censoriously sanitizing her other fantasy rapist as “an N-word” was revealing. The insistence that “nigger” is a uniquely offensive, inflammatory, and dangerous slur is not entirely off-base; there is something to be said for erring on the side of caution in societies with black-white racial histories as ugly as the one we have in the United States, even if such a taboo is fraught with hypocrisy and opportunities for cheap provocateurs to angrily mutter the unholy of unholies into their phone all evening. This may sound like a San Diego thing, but I’ve heard it on Amtrak coming into Stockton, too, and dude wasn’t even getting off in Stockton. (To my own misfortune, I was.) Still, it’s better than fucking MTS, and I’ll put up with a dipshit if that’s the cost of a ride on the California Clipper.

The thing about the Here and Now piece, though, was that the racial invective was every bit as gratuitous as some asshole blurting out high-frequency racial slurs on the train for no discernible reason. The punks giving m’lady lip over the internet were not credible threats to her safety, and the initial provocation was a pissing match between a bumptious academic and a prominent member of the neighborhood fash over which of them would be kicked out of their members-only gym.

There was no good reason for NPR to be devoting an entire segment to this horseshit. The decision to air it was driven by an interest in sensationalism, not newsworthiness. More cynically, it can also be reasonably inferred to be a capitulation to laziness and budgeting, since interviewing a single crazy bitch about her fight with a blowhard failson over his shock politics takes less work, organization, and money than actual reporting. I have too hard a time with deadlines myself to be very harsh on radio producers for throwing some embarrassing crap together at the last minute to fill the dead spaces, but WBUR presumably has entire staffs devoted to the advance work needed to get its shows on the air, so it’s worth asking how someone so nutty and salacious slipped through the cracks.

An even more cynical take (please, do heat your cabin with this) is that whoever was responsible for this sorry bit of journalism realized on some level that it was exactly the sort of thing that would psychosexually stimulate the listeners. Maybe Robin Young’s scrupulously well-mannered calmness is just a pretense used to head-fake the suits into assuming that she and her team aren’t airing a bunch of Howard Stern content.

There has certainly been an awful lot of carrying on about the very white Richard Spencer and the even whiter Brock Turner in a time of not very much mainstream press attention to Daniel Holtzclaw or the all too real possibility that an active-duty NYPD officer has been serially murdering prostitutes on Long Island. What the Id wants from Turner is obvious: rape, but not really rape in the sense of sexual intercourse against one’s will, just quasi-rape in which the “victim” is pleasantly very drunk but still able to enjoy submitting to Blondie. If the mob had any standards, it would be much more horrified and alarmed by the specter of a calculating serial rapist in uniform, even one convicted and incarcerated, than that of an opportunistic one-timer who took advantage of a woman he found passed out and used such sloppy tradecraft that he was promptly caught and placed under citizen’s arrest by passersby. Of course, Turner was an affluent white guy operating in a power center of affluent white girls, not an Okie Hapa preying on black women in the ghetto, most of them with criminal records.

What the Id wants from Spencer is a bit harder to discern, but it seems to be maybe a less fully consummated experience of vague quasisexual subjugation. If you, too, are a good girl, I know you want it, but I can’t really say what it is. Spencer is clearly being associated, if indirectly, with sexual danger, and not in the sense of Carlos, because that’s just plain gross. This is a bit odd for a guy who sure looks like he’d be into some damn weird forms of submission to the working girls, but we’re talking about an awfully handsome fellow who styles himself a sort of highbrow Nazi and who’s being smeared before an audience with a great deal of politically tinged sexual repression. The looming experience of sexual degradation with Richard Spencer probably works out to something like him cornering m’lady at a house party, calling her a kike while he slaps her ass, Supermanning her with a Star of David that he appliqued onto scrap material from a used T-shirt, and then wandering back to the couch to bounce around between Unz and Roissy comment threads on his phone. Yeah, the guy’s kind of a dork, but he’s exceptionally handsome, exceptionally white, and coded (correctly) as affluent, so if anyone’s going for a 50 Shades of Schindler thing, he’s the man for the job. Any sexier and he’d be Lynn Majors.

Shit, that was dopey, so to speak. The difference, of course, is that where Spencer is a little prick, Nurse Lynn tells you that you’re gonna feel one, and if you don’t want it to be your last, you’ll high-tail it for Rochester and get it from Hastert instead. That was terrible, but it still wasn’t NPR. And that’s probably why I’m still writing this shit for free. I’m not the one serializing badly written BDSM porn for the big screen and then advertising it all the time in the breaks between arguably less fucked up SVU and Criminal Intent reruns. I write effusively about meta-rape only because NPR makes me do it. It’s really a shame that I managed to hear Robin Young dignifying that nutcase’s beef with Richard Spencer but still haven’t dialed up whatever Scott Simon and whoever he had on that weekend had to say about Aaron Hernandez’s career-ending neck injury, pursuant to #SPORTS. These things are through my most grievous, etc. But really, I’m just here to #RaceTogether and to make sure that no discourse about theoretical violence involving African-Americans and Puerto Ricans is put to bed for the evening without a recapitulation of my enduring hope against hope, as a former Philadelphian who still checks in on the old dump from time to time, that Josey’s on a long-term vacation far away.

Come around and talk that over.