Faulkner in the fields

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Another transrachel overproduction of elites

Dolezal is in the doodoo again, this time for welfare fraud. Is this how she’s trying to prove that she’s black?

I looked her up, and sure enough I correctly remembered her new nom de guerre as Nkechi Diallo. Sometimes I wonder whether trivia such as this objectively useless and distracting tidbit will displace useful knowledge about something crucial. I already keep extra hard drive space available by knowing relatively little about movies and sports, except for what I hear from Chicago Senpai and friends on Saturday mornings pursuant to #SPORTS (for which it’s always time), and I have a hella good memory in general, but still I wonder. Is this how Rome fell? Is this how Rome falls?

Today is a gift; that’s why we call it the present. Rachel Dolezal’s initial exposure as a lying white bitch stirred up such a moral panic about bogus black people that assholes online were flaming Wesley Lowery with accusations that he was lying about being black. It’s reasonable to think that he’s racially ambiguous, but he was making a name for himself by doing timely and compellingly important on-the-ground reporting in Ferguson, among other troubled and misgoverned parts of our country. He wasn’t posting photos of fried chicken dinner with the fam online to demonstrate his own blackness, like Shaun King, or, as Firehat called him, noted white boy Shaun King. Everybody in my family back in Kansas ate fried chicken for Sunday dinner, too. Was it because WE were black? I don’t fucking think so. But this is America, and that’s how we think.

I could listen to the Dinner Party Download on my way to go dining for miles and still make Dolezal look white. She’s just an attention whore with a John Boehner tan and a perm. This is probably an episode best left ignored, and so I chronicle it through my most grievous fault, etc. You might as well store up these takes in your cabin, for wintertime heat. On the other hand, our national relationship to race is fucked up in ways that go beyond merely being racist. Racism per se isn’t nearly weird enough. The Morials, a more or less white-passing high yellow family, did business as whites under segregation, then increasingly as blacks under integration. Who dat! I’m not convinced that this is objectively any more reputable than the transrachel bullshit up north. I am entirely convinced that New Orleans is a worse-run city than Spokane. The latter has had its own troubles with public corruption, but Lawdy, Fogerty, down on the fuckin’ bayou, where we was Bonn, ain’t all good what they rollin’ on the Riva.

Asking what the hell gives to allow a bunch of guys from El Cerrito and Phoenix to play Cajun good old boys for fifty years without incident, other than the fucking Heidi Ho lawsuit, is as pertinent as any of this shit. They’re in it for the money, too; it isn’t just the Diallo who didn’t have the adverse reaction with the NYPD.

And since this is a mercenary business, it’s worth asking whether maybe, if we may, blacklisting the likes of Rachel Dolezal for being race frauds doesn’t just encourage more of their bullshit and more imitators who are hungry for the upsides. After all, those who don’t succeed as oppressed white black people can troll for sympathy in the Oppression Olympics as ones who got fired and publicly humiliated for trying to ensure that–the colors are close enough for government benefits–orange is the new black. There’s always wingnut welfare more or less within reach for such cases. Surely it’s good press for one’s GoFundMe.

The crux of this mess is that successfully honky-larping public negritude has the potential to pay better than most trades and professions, and even clumsily doing so and getting into hot water for one’s sheer gall pays better than picking fruit. Hell, I nearly went u-picking Bing cherries today on my day off from commercially picking blueberries, then decided to fuck with it when I discovered that it would be cheaper to buy Rainiers already washed and bagged at Fred Meyer. If Sam Sanders did that, he, too, would become blindingly White, but it’s been a damn minute since I did anything that embarrassing with my plants. I have standards. Maybe not particularly high ones, but good God, y’all. $4.50 a pound to replace a Mexican for an hour.

We’ve got too many fucking people living on their reputations around here. Michael O. Church is spot on about this. Colby Cosh, too. If Gerry Rundel were still plying a trade, he could look at me and say, uh, you’re some douche with a blog, what’re you gonna do, publish a bunch of crappy “songs” about me and call me Midlife Crisis Surf-n-Turf? Duh. What the fuck else would I do? Instead he’s got even worse Mounties calling him a coward, like a fireman who’s afraid of fire. I’m sure that will warm all hearts in the fire services and not at all inspire fond memories of General Sherman heading to the coast to, uh, grill seafood. Don’t forget the Pole!

As much as I enjoy shitposting about Fish Friend, he sounds like a good cop, and because he came away traumatized from personal involvement in a homicide he’s got asshat superiors acting like he’s the missing chickenshit character from Backdraft. The point here is that the reputation management buzzsaw chews up and spits out decent people, too, not just dipshits with perjury convictions and “storytelling” businesses who make it look normal to get trashed and kill motorcyclists with one’s Jeep. One can do that by killing a guy and then going into public health vegetarianism, too. At least Raw Ginger and the Royal Canadian Manslaughter Project are easily racially categorized, every one of them.

So is Rachel Dolezal. She’s white, so, so very White.

Why the hell do I still work for these people?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to blu, uh, uh, uh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I theoretically lives here. Can I come in?

Shit, P. J. O’Rourke’s Anacostia Special (in the Olympic sense) actually did live there, not something I’d personally recommend, but at least he had a home in which to be arrested for penny-ante drug dealing, I think it was. My problem, of course, is that I don’t.

Once again, I’m mainly concerned about the civic angle. I’ve mostly stopped following Humboldt County and Eureka city politics, and I’m hardly ever over there these days. I’m dead set on voting next month, and I don’t care to vote again in a county where I don’t live and don’t much care to return when I could instead vote somewhere where I, uh, kind of live, I guess. I have an eye on the voter registration deadline, and I should be able to come up with something accurate to put down on the affidavit by then, so I don’t want to whine about this at length right now.

The bizarre thing is that if I’d just signed the fucking registration affidavit in 2014 I’d have been a Rancho Cordova voter since then, not just a resident. But by God I do NOT live by the light rail station in Rancho. I’m fine with the DMV believing this, but I have no attachment to that fucking shithole. It’s cursed. It is not home. Some dumbass group of city fathers lopped off a cluster of slums and incorporated them as an independent city. Great thinking there, guys.

Think about how fucked up South Sacramento would be if it were the independent City of Meadowview. Imagine all the shit between the railroad tracks and the American River being its own city. That’s what Rancho is. If the dipshits running it actually have a tax base in Mather Field and the constellation of office parks scattered around it, they’re doing jack shit with the money. Forget street trees; these fucking derelicts won’t even pick up trash off the sidewalks. The light rail fare inspector who vented to me a few weeks ago was right: Zinfandel really is a shithole. The city’s officials can blame RT all they want for not keeping its light rail stations clean; they’ve still got some of the filthiest stations in the system in their city, and this reflects terribly on their government, too. I really don’t care to try to steward that crap as a voting constituent, let alone pay for it.

Right there we have a pretty serious regional problem. Letting the sidewalks around a quarter of the stations in the rapid transit system inevitably aggravates traffic regionwide. There’s a hilariously intractable pile of trash across the street from the eastbound platform at 8th and O; it’s a beautiful neighborhood otherwise, but there’s this fucking bed of junk and filth spreading from the gutter onto the sidewalk, or maybe from the sidewalk into the gutter, no identifiable point of origin or outskirts anywhere in the mess, sometimes surrounded by a community of transients, a number of these too disabled to get back into their wheelchairs when they fall out onto the sidewalk, others sleeping on their knocked-over bicycles, and I can’t recall a time since at least March when this patch has looked adequately clean. It’s not that this stuff may be someone’s property; from time to time the larger, more identifiable items, the ones someone might actually value, disappear, but no one has yet cleaned up the underlying foundation of stray trash, which looks like a mix of newsprint and fig Newtons. Nobody is going to come back to fucking claim any of that shit.

Zinfandel is worse than that because it has a similar, although more distributed, trash problem and is, as that fare inspector said, a real shithole at the neighborhood level. Swanston features big holes in the fence along the Union Pacific right of way that transients and other downmarket pedestrians use to cross the UP tracks away, surrounded by no trespassing signs, to avoid going maybe a quarter mile out of the way over the Arden Way overpass. Operation Lifesaver, baby. The trespassers have a point, though: there was $519 million available to build the downtown arena, but there isn’t the million or so that it should take to build a user-friendly pedestrian overpass over a heavy rail line with a 79 mph passenger speed limit and significant freight traffic. These are among the ones whose lives matter less. Seriously, if we grant them class, there’ll be less of it left over for ourselves.

This is why I’m so eager to splash into the voter pool and vex the assholes who run this regime. My plants deserve better than them, and so do the rest of Sacramento’s citizens.

What’s happening in Midtown is not legitimate. The fancy old-line neighborhoods–Land Park, Pocket, East Sac–seem to be real communities. Their prosperity may come at a cost to poorer neighborhoods, but at least they aren’t all a bunch of wankers. Midtown has historically, even within the past decade, been a dump by comparison, and parts of it still are. There are plenty of blocks that needed renovations and some that still do. Too much of it was left to slumlords who would defer maintenance until the end of time if no one bought them out or seized their properties.

The problem is that this entire project is being run by sleazeballs who know only gentrification. They’re incapable of neighborhood beautification in the local constituents’ interests, let alone public housing campaigns to do to the slumlords what BFI did to the mob garbage collection rackets. They refuse to do a damn thing until they’ve been allowed to jack rents through the roof and bring in a designer replacement population capable of withstanding the rent inflation they’ve deliberately caused. CADA, which I criticized at length a few years ago, is a scam to misappropriate public funds for this gentrification campaign. In class terms, it’s basically a nigger be out by sundown sign.

Every influence-peddling shithead involved in American gentrification campaigns would express horror and scandal at the language at the thought of being construed as a racist, and mostly likely at the language that I just used, but I stand by it. The racist door-blocking punk who called me fat cracka on the light rail is less of a bigot than any of these creeps. He held the train up for a minute, but he doesn’t deny anyone housing. He doesn’t socioeconomically reengineer entire neighborhoods on behalf of the restaurant lobby. He isn’t in bed with scum-of-the-earth developers. All I need of that motherfucker is for him to get off the train before I have to get on the emergency intercom with the driver. What Sacramento needs from its leaders is the good government that it is not about to get.

This is a once laid-back city that is turning into Brazil right before our eyes, if we care to look. Several thousand people are living in tents down by the river, on sidewalks, in their cars, and Loaves and Fishes has an annual budget of just about 1% of what it cost to build the downtown arena to be pretty much the only charity adequately feeding or housing any of them. The painfully obvious priority of the city government is to expedite the urban loft rehousing of useless affluent assholes so that they can go barhopping without paying Uber fare back to outer Folsom. They’ve now got those stupid eight-seater peddle surreys for drunks rolling around on public streets downtown a block away from sidewalks where people sleep in clothes they’ve been wearing for days on end, soaked in their own sweat and piss.

It’s Sodom, and not in a sexy way. If this shit is sustainable, we deserve our damnation for tolerating it. At the macro level, it absolutely is not sustainable, but it’s also at the macro level that the subsidies needed to keep all this gross immorality going, to fund the necessary staffing and logistics, become possible. When conservatives of rural sensibilities complain about urban decadence and waste, this right here is it. The blame so often gets projected onto bureaucracies, public employees and their unions, and urban infrastructure. We get to hear angry denunciations of plans to strip Americans of their God-given liberties and force them to take light rail to their government office jobs. But the operation of a number of state government headquarters for agencies serving a population of forty million in a capital region of a million or so isn’t decadent, and a three-spur light rail system is certainly less decadent and wasteful than a freeway and thoroughfare network that gets clogged several hours a day every weekday. I doubt most of the assholes riding around on the beer surreys would mind if the light rail and bus systems shut down; they’d still have Uber. If the City or County of Sacramento ever does to the ride-hailing apps what Austin briefly did, though, these fuckers will raise a hideous fit.

These asshats are why everybody hate the Millennials. Between the beer surrey fuckheads in the gentrified urban drinking districts and the permanent hipster trust-fund wastrels in Portland and Williamsburg, there’s plenty to ridicule, even despise. What I will say for the all-day coffeehouse dipshits is that many of them are really just trying to quietly cope with mood disorders in the context of a secular trashing of the labor and housing markets, and they absolutely are not the only ones having such difficulty. Resenting them for having the resources to adequately manage their own activities of daily living and come out into the public sphere without ending up stewing in their own piss next to the light rail station because they’re unemployed is wrongheaded. We need to fucking level this shit up, not down. The beer surrey twats are something worse. They appear employed; the unemployed are rarely so socially engaged or outgoing, and I can speak to the stigma they face from painful experience. These don’t look like unfortunate fuckups floundering through life; they look like aggressive, successful yuppies marking their territory.

Criticism of this shitty crowd doesn’t magically become invalid or hateful just because it comes from a position of cultural conservatism. We’re wise to ask why in the hell government policy is comprehensively catering to a bunch of decadent, spendthrift, childless twits who have no obvious skills of any use and make a public joke of their drinking problems. It’s appropriate to ask who the fuck is funding this Fall of Rome horseshit and whether this has anything to do with the shortage of public funding for social, medical, and psychiatric services. The other day a homeless guy broke into the Governor’s Mansion in a futile effort to flag down the Highway Patrol to shoot the mountain lion that was growling at him from inside a dumpster. He didn’t find the Chippies, and a good Samaritan ended up driving him to the emergency room to treat an arm injury that he sustained when he jumped out of a window, but the Highway Patrol tracked him down two days later and arrested him for trespassing. Dude was flamingly out of his mind, and he admitted that on second thought, given his mental health history, there probably wasn’t a cougar. Then again, it wasn’t until after the KCRA reporter who interviewed him mentioned this that I thought it over and realized that, no shit, cougars don’t go dumpster-diving like raccoons.

Again, a police squad got paid above-market wages to belatedly arrest and jail a well-meaning mentally ill guy for trying to flag them down during an emergency he sincerely perceived, because he thought they were the good guys with guns, and a few blocks away a bunch of willful derelicts are being subsidized to get trashed and ride around in a goddamn boardwalk surrey with a boom box. These fuckers absolutely are being subsidized; I guarantee it. They do not have the skills to support themselves in any normal sense. It’s unlikely that many of them are state workers, because the state offices are basically staffed by Folsom Republicans. The only large clusters of nongovernmental yuppie jobs in the Sacramento urban core that can’t be held by absolute dipshits are in the hospitals, and healthcare in the United States is a huge subsidy dumpster. Hell, this is too charitable; doctors and nurses need only worm their way into administration to get their dipshit on with impunity, and I may or may not be a fool to assume that there are competency standards on the floors.

I don’t know what the fuck these people do for a living that lets them afford Midtown rent, but I wouldn’t assume that most of it is reputable or useful, and neither would I assume that none of them are getting grants from the Bank of Mom and Dad. What’s going on, Randall? For starters, these, too, are White. Don’t look at me like that; it ain’t me that bought that set of pint glasses. Remember, I turn the radio off for the pledge drives. Also keep in mind that I actually know how economies work, as in who’s actually making or running anything that anyone needs and not just vomiting bullshit onto every surface where it might stick for a paycheck. It would be interesting, in the sense of the reputed ancient Chinese curse, to see how many of these yuppie shits are paid for “marketing,” and how many of them are self-esteeming enough to consider this a line of work. Likewise lobbying, which is mainly a cleaned-up form of public corruption; William Jefferson taking a suitcase to the freezer was more honest than that, although one would hope that a Southerner like him wasn’t doing that with his only freezer.

One way or another, what’s happening in Sacramento is that the wealth of a nation is being pumped into what used to be a functional enough backwater to inflate a bogus FIRE, entertainment, and hospitality economy. It can’t be repeated enough: that is not a fucking economy. It’s a racket to extract wealth from out of town and misallocate all available funds to dump money into flashy marketing campaigns with negative returns. Rents and real estate values are being driven up to levels that are absurd for a second-tier riverfront city with barely any more topography than Indianapolis and severe social problems that the authorities do their best to leave to a small order of nuns operating on a shoestring budget.

This is being not just allowed but deliberately encouraged by public officials and Chamber of Commerce boosters whose big tag line is basically, hey, we have restaurants here, too. That’s what the “Farm-to-Fork Capital” thing is. The boosters pulled it straight out of their asses. Sacramento isn’t the only place where it’s possible to operate a restaurant with a kitchen garden. It isn’t even a very good place to do that. The boosters are totally full of shit. The “Farm-to-Fork Capital” line showed up out of nowhere a few months ago, and now no one who has a paid platform will shut up about it for an hour. I’ve actually worked in farming, and often in small-scale, independent organic farming at that. God willing, I’m nowhere near done with that line of work. If Togo’s didn’t offer airline miles, these fuckjobs would drive me there in sheer disgust with their marketing antics.

I don’t think I’m misreading the local economy, which objectively is not one, or exaggerating to say that I can’t find a decent apartment anywhere near the light rail system because everyone in a position of leadership or authority is tripping on his shoelaces in excitement trying to reorder the housing market to cater to yuppie foodie twits who just have to Instagram their $30 dinners (I’m probably lowballing the price, come to think of it) and who are gullible and vapid enough to admire bumptious small businessmen for doubling the retail price because some jackass with no self-respect wrote up a backdated chain of custody on the ingredients. I’d rather go to the Capitol Mall and chill out with my plants, but I’m of a mind to street-fight the entire Democratic Party like a rumble squad of Elk Grove Cambodians for legitimizing these useless pieces of shit.

When these useless eaters show up in the history books, they show up as the last generation of insufferable decadents before the Barbarian armies charge the gates, the peasants come to Versailles in a procession of head-display pikes, and the Ceausescus have a final crying fit before their televised one-way trip to the courtyard on Christmas Day. It was 1989, Kid Rock was like, what’s that, and he still hasn’t had a haircut or a square meal. Bawitdaba da bang da dang diggy diggy Brimob, this is not on course to end well. The best outcome we can hope for is Sacramento remaining in an uncomfortably metastable position as America’s Syringe-to-Sewer Capital. This is what it actually is.

If we all recognized this, I might not be one of half a dozen parties competing for the privilege to spend over a thousand a month on a studio apartment that with luck is a block or two off skid row. I’m not kidding: this looks like one of the best units I’ve found, and it’s right on the edge of the neighborhood where everyone lives in a donated tent or under a lean-to of plastic tarps and empties a plastic chamber pot into the American River.

The listing agency is one of the best I’ve found around here, so I can’t blame them for overplaying their all too favorable hand, and I’m seriously thinking about viewing the unit, but mainly to get a better sense of the available inventory. (Post hoc edit: I went, and it was absolutely worth the trip.) No amount of professionalism and competence on the listing end is enough to stop the Sacramento housing market from being a clusterfuck.

Seriously, this is a city going FUBAR, and not a particularly desirable one at that. It makes some sense for San Francisco or Marin to be hot markets, not to the extent that the techdicks and overseas money Chinks have heated them up, but it’s plain as day why Marshall or the top of Divisadero is more expensive than Warren Buffett’s ostensible domicile in Omaha. Those are special places. Sacramento isn’t. There are probably more cold homeless people here than there are plant nerds who would even think about paying a premium to have Senegal date palms in the neighborhood. Sacramento is almost a hundred miles from the beach, and that’s going through a succession of soul-sapping dumps along the freeway. It’s twenty to thirty miles from the foothills and eighty or more from the ski resorts. Nobody cool wanted to live here until maybe five or ten years ago.

That is, I’m five or ten years late getting in on this shit. Everything dysfunctional about this market, everything making it as selective as undergraduate admission to Harvard and making it possible for landlords to still have business after doing hour-long open-call scrums in units with hair in the sink instead of one-on-one showings in places they’ve properly cleaned, is being driven by dipshits I’d really rather not have around.

There are families that buy this cohort property in Reno just to get them on the other side of the mountains. There’s a guy who lives in, like, Sun Valley in a house that his parents bought for him years ago to get him away from the Bay Area, and now he’s the forty-something dirtbag scion of a Hillsborough specialty metal manufacturing family or some shit, and he circuit-rides Starbucks stores all over the Truckee Meadows, horrifying female customers in line in front of him with greasy hair swooshes. Honestly, there are times when I feel really bad for this guy for being stuck in Reno, but he isn’t completely stuck there, more just a weirdo whose only socializing is trips to the coffeeshop to fan random women with his ponytail.

I mention this fucked-up bastard because his parents offer an alternate model for every affluent Boomer parent who is contributing to Snowflake’s upkeep in Midtown Sacramento because they’re advertising hip woke restaurants all of a sudden. There’s no reason these useless brats who never set foot on the light rail anyway couldn’t be stashed in Placerville or Carson City instead. Dump them in a shitty rancher in Mound House last owned by a funny spinster with more cats than cat boxes for all I care. That isn’t the kind of cathouse rural Nevada’s business boosters like to advertise, but you’ll get a better deal on a better, thicker thicky trick on the windward side, and you won’t step back out into a windswept hellscape of plastic bags hanging from cottonwood limbs, either.

This bizarre settlement pattern isn’t about market competition. Fuck your markets. North Korea can’t reliably suppress the free market, so a tenfold increase in public housing in Sacramento won’t stop anyone who has something worth selling from selling it. The people who are driving housing inflation at the margins around here would be losers in any actual meritocracy. I pick fruit commercially, and I shouldn’t be shy about saying so when it means that I can assert my civic equality with and superior economic worth to some asshole who gets paid to run scams out of an office and then pays out of pocket to spend the night rolling around downtown getting drunk in a surrey that’s blasting Pharrell at nuisance levels and, totally off-topic, Monty Robinson for Designated Driver.

Of course I want to vote this shit into abatement. These people are pathetic. They’re a civic disaster. As Michael O. Church points out, they aren’t even any good at hedonism. I can’t find a decent place around here because they all need to live in the urban core now and be chauffeured everywhere by on-call motor pool peasants. Pitching a tent down in Tetanus Flats would be my last-ditch gambit to establish residency. Do any of these motherfuckers who go out dining for the Gram look like they’d tolerate a room at the Crossland? Hell no. Extended Stay America sucks ass. I know it because I’ve lived it. The downtown knowledge economy crowd is the last one that gets to tell me that I have to pick a shitty spot and sleep on it for a while to establish residency here.

If there were a rest area in this county with available parking space, damn straight I’d sleep at it. The problem with the one by the airport is that I’m not the only local with that idea.