“How could ‘Bernie would have won’?”

Those who assume that the Hillbot Army and Your Fleek Abuela Herself have transcendent principles or coherent strategy or tactics and not just the demented, inchoate rage of the least sympathetic of cornered animals ignore the ever more abundant evidence that they’re crooked, reflexively evasive, and quite often absolutely motherfucking retarded.

To wit, our title. Or, in the long form, “How could ‘Bernie would have won’ when Bernie lost?” Let’s leave aside the notion, surreally childish for a professional political operative, that an exceptionally popular candidate with exceptionally strong crossover appeal, naturally high energy on the trail, and a robust grassroots campaign apparatus who narrowly lost a dark horse primary race against an entrenched patronage machine co-headed by a former two-term president, a machine that tipped the scales against him both overtly and covertly, inevitably would have lost the general election after doing better in swing states than the machine that sank him. Leave the syphilitic nonsense of Adam Parkhomenko’s shitty argument aside and reread his syntax: “How could ‘Bernie would have won’ when Bernie lost?”

Wow Much linguistix None conjugation Many counterfacsh Such subjunctive Very retard. How could I doesn’t speak English when I already speaks English? If Parkhomenko had said this after winning a Special Olympics T-ball game, I wouldn’t have anything to say about it (The Onion: “Special Olympics T-ball stand pitches perfect game”), but he worked for a fucking major-party presidential nominee, so, yes, as a voter I consider it reasonable to expect him not to descend into public retardation. That’s a bad sign.

It isn’t just dum-dum, though. There’s something specific about the idiocy of Parkhomenko’s language, like “What is ‘to be corn cobbed’?”, but more so, that’s even worse. That’s how cultists speak.

To anyone of normal intelligence and judgment, “Bernie would have won” is a full sentence made up of four separate words. To get sort of Wow Very Explain, it uses a noun, “Bernie,” referring to recently failed presidential candidate and sitting US Senator Bernie Sanders, the subjunctive “would have” to stipulate that Bernie wasn’t given the opportunity to show what he could do in the general election, and “won” to describe Bernie’s narrowly averted electoral whupping of Donald Trump’s soft, overhyped ass from West Virginia to Kansas to Montana. That was a lot of lecturing over four words, all but one of them monosyllabic, but anyone who isn’t innately retarded or brainwashed can tell that “Bernie would have won” is a full sentence composed from separate words to make an argument. Recognizing that, a non-freak can react by agreeing or disagreeing with the argument.

How did Adam Parkhomenko react to this statement? By treating it as a single word abrogating all rules of English grammar by its presence. It’s absolutely fucking absurd, but that’s exactly how the brainwashed dumbasses orbiting around Hillary approach their English with their fancy degrees. It’s our common language until it isn’t anymore. They notice a talking point, which could be one of their own or one of the opposition’s, and exempt it from all scrutiny. Every talking point is a Holy of Holies into which man dare not peer. Thinking about what the hell it might mean just isn’t the done thing.

This is surreal. It doesn’t get any more straightforward than “Bernie would have won.” There’s an agreed-upon context (Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination and facing off against Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, in the general election) and an explicitly stated outcome to a specific binary decision (a sleazy oaf–incidentally the same one the Hillbots so deplore–getting his ass handed to him by–oops–someone they also deplore). (We’re ignoring What Is Aleppo, me and my fellow healing crystals freaks on the Stein Steamer, and the like, because, nah, shit, I don’t want to get bogged down in a discussion of two-party capture of an electoral system that is constitutionally open to all eligible comers.) There are reasons why Bernie might not have won the general election, not ones that I think are compelling, but not Special Olympics hot dog stand stupid, either. I think Bernie was on course to easily win well over 300 electoral votes, possibly closer to 350, giving him more than enough margin to not have to debase himself by pandering to the worst people in Florida, but arguing that he wouldn’t have had a lock on the Rust Belt and didn’t have a prayer in Appalachia doesn’t have to be a degrading, grammatically challenged self-own.

But that’s the difference between making a refutable argument and being a fucking brainwashed moron who doesn’t recognize nouns and verbs. I recognize that I’m even more confident than many Berniecrats about Sanders’s electoral viability in economically depressed parts of the highland South. I don’t expect anyone in particular to agree with me that he would have had a fighting chance to win Kentucky in the general election; all I have is a gut feeling that a groundswell in cracker country, physically and psychologically far from the posh horsey-horse shitheads around Lexington, might have been enough to put him over the top, and that the same demographic almost certainly would have been adequate in West Virginia. Counterarguments from pessimists or Republicans don’t bother me.

What does bother me, or more accurately stun me (*Terminal Robert Dziekanski Voice* You’re literally killing me, Biggie! I’m literally dying over here!), is grammatically brain-dead horseshit about how Bernie Sanders wouldn’t have won the general election because he lost a primary that was stacked against him by an army of Clinton enforcers and all the one-sided coverage they could order and buy. That’s just garbage. The BDSM dungeon morals of this ongoing campaign are reprehensible, and as a Sanders voter I have every right to take personal offense. Dat syntax, tho. How could Bernie would have won when Bernie lost? That makes Donald Trump sound like Abraham Lincoln. That is the syntax of the sworn presidential campaign of intelligence, thought, and policy heft. That’s the caliber that the Clinton machine deployed against Steve Bannon, who, nutty though he can be, may be the closest thing to a genius polymath to pass through the White House in my lifetime.

Gee, who can ever imagine how that fine team lost to a veteran television star with keen seat-of-the-pants political instincts advised by a theology autodidact from the Biosphere One project? For that matter, love too see arguments that Steve Bannon is paranoid but Hillary Clinton is not. Every crazy bitch from the HOA versus the neighborhood drunk with the biggest, most interesting home library on the block: who the fuck actually thinks the HOA bitches will win that race? That’s how deranged and out of touch it was to be #WithHer.

An organization run by people who can’t mentally digest a four-word opposition talking point that means exactly what it appears to mean will have you all know that you’re a bunch of unemployable racists with substance abuse problems while Hillary Clinton, noted prison labor beneficiary from the Arkansas governor’s mansion, jokes about having another bottle of chardonnay. This, friends, is meritocracy. Donald Trump is literally the worst politician ever. Verrit authentication code 9111488.

It takes a special, credulous level of reflexive trust in institutions to fall for this shit. Hillary is a wonk because she says she’s a wonk and pays others to say so, but that doesn’t apply to Donald Trump promising to make America great again because America is already great. Sucks that your factory was offshored because you refused to be competitive, though. The pathology of the Clinton machine operates, fundamentally, on both a socioeconomic level and a psychological level. Clintonworld spends huge amounts of money paying its lackeys off, lackeys that it attracts largely from the pool of upper-middle-class organization men and women who have never been burned by a cult. Most of them wouldn’t be in it if it weren’t for the money, but it takes a certain very troubled psychological disposition to tolerate such a poisonous, deranged environment in the first place.

Take heart. Our finest colleges select for exactly such creeps. That’s how I was able to recognize the Hillbots: I know them from school. Regarding Bill Durden as anything but a misallocated circus sideshow act is consistent with an equal regard for We Came We Saw He Died. The one thing I can say on behalf of these freaks is that Chuck “Get Your Balls Clipped” Dederich’s followers had a less socioeconomic interest in taking up with him on the old radio plantation than our Young Scholars have in casting their lot with their own political and educational (sic) cult rackets. If you do something debasing for the money and end up with the money, at least you go away with some money. That’s why I scavenge deposit bottles. That, and it’s generally a less hostile environment.

Would it even be possible for Hillary Clinton not to get 1984 ass-backwards? The Wellesley-Yale bitch has a book out about how George Orwell warned against failure to trust institutions the year after she failed to get the American electorate to trust her very institutional campaign for the presidency. There’s no way to make this shit up. Meanwhile her faildaughter, a Stanford-Columbia-Oxford graduate, is on Twitter spouting total bullshit about Hannah Arendt. Why do I keep getting the feeling that we, as a haphazardly constituted federal electorate, made the right decision in denying this family the elected high office that it demanded anew from us?

To be blunt, I don’t cotton to cults. Dickinson College can get fucked with its needy, pushy requests for my money, and so can everyone from its alumni community who feels likewise. Give your own damn money to that fundraising scam if you feel so passionately about it, and do shut the fuck up. My first visit to a Catholic parish where the priest has a projectile authoritarian personality is consistently my last. (I suspected that the arc of Catholic history bent towards Pope Francis, but I was impressed by the sharpness of that fine, fine curve.) I nearly voted for Donald Trump as a rebuke to the cultism of the Hillary Democrats, and I would not have regretted it. If they didn’t want him to endanger the Republic, they shouldn’t have ratfucked the most popular politician in the United States during their primary and then spent the Trump presidency to date rehashing their smears for the book royalties. I can actually provide an accurate discussion of the lessons of 1984, one of which is that prostitution naturally neuters the Junior Anti-Sex League if it is not comprehensively suppressed. I wouldn’t count on Bill Durden, Hillary, Chelsea, or any of the other dipshits currently under discussion having a clue what the hell that means. Ooh, they’re too dense (giggity) to be getting a clue, too!

I didn’t go to school for the liberal arts; I went to the internet for the liberal arts, and for the code enforcement complaint form. That’s why I vote.

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Judging the Clintons

We might wonder what history will say about the Clintons, what our grandchildren will be able to discern of them from a distance that we are unable to discern from up close. Or we might wonder what current events today have to say about the Clintons, and figure that the first draft is a pretty damn good working copy of what that sanctimonious White House Fibbie Gary Aldrich spent the nineties calling the moosehead truth. I studied history in college, under one professor who forbade passive verbs to be used by us and another who accused me of arguing like a political scientist, so engage the world, bitch. Any of us might devote ourselves to the perfection of some high craft in the humanities or the sciences or the trades, or we might spend our middle and early old age making a living by talking the story about that one drunk back in Los Angeles whose crook buddy kept the theoretically omniscient stuffed moose head on the wall of his office to bear theoretical witness to his crimes.

If that fucking moosehead could talk and you or I repeated what it said, we’d be presumed furlough cases from the state hospital. It’s all outpatient nontreatment these days, so counting Psychotarp and Mixups in my Mind, there are many such cases. If, however, we fit the story of the talking moosehead into a right-wing talk radio context, we, too, might get book deals. If that fucking dog could talk, it would tell us how it fucking got the fucking rotisserie chicken, but I’m sure there’s nothing about its language that this Los Angeles jury hasn’t heard before. I’m reminded of a borderline morbidly obese lady I watched get cited for nonpayment of fare on the Blue Line a few hours before she was booked into jail for not a hell of a lot more than that (I checked booking records weeks later, and sure enough, there she was). After showing me the citation and yelling about what bullshit it was (I think she tore it up, too, but I can’t remember for sure), she complained, “Sheriffs think they the motherfucking po’ lease!” If you think about it, that wasn’t exactly less coherent than Gary Aldrich’s homilies on the fucking moosehead, and homegirl lived in shelters on Skid Row.

My bad: Central City East. Now THAT’s some language that this Los Angeles jury has never heard.

Gary Aldrich is an interesting case of Clintonworld profiteering because his relationship to the Clintons is entirely negative. He exists in unwaveringly, excruciatingly square opposition to them and their dissolute, immoral, parasitic lifestyle. He overplays his hand, but there’s no point to going on the talk radio circuit and not overplaying one’s hand. He’s part of the grievance machine, Hillary’s beloved vast right-wing conspiracy, and airing grievances all year long is how the conspiracy rolls. The Cassandra Class that has accreted itself to the Clintons in permanent opposition to them isn’t entirely wrong or deranged, though: Aldrich and his fellow travelers are right that the Clintons live in a special world of antisocial sleaze, one that they have done much to cultivate for their own enrichment and aggrandizement. That he’s offended by junior Clinton White House staffers for not being distraught with regret for having smoked marijuana exactly once, in the Poppy Bush tradition, is an unfortunate distraction.

So was the sexually repressed frustration of Kenneth Starr, Denny Dundiddly, Gateside Downlow, and that whole pathetic but dangerous crowd on the Big Dog’s occasionally tawdry but frankly consensual affair with his bottom bitch in the blue dress. The Lewinsky thing was just about the most harmless bit of fun in Bill Clinton’s sex life that they could have scrutinized, an infatuated mistress to a man other women had accused of unwanted groping and forcible rape. Worse, Starr and his staff managed to botch their investigations into the Whitewater real estate racket and the Clintons’ other shady side businesses. If there are to be moral disqualifications from the presidency, Whitewater is one, an abuse of licentious federalism facilitated by the most scandalously lax state law on repossession of real estate in the Union and orchestrated by a carpetbagging yuppie couple with no loyalty to place whatsoever. It’s damning of the special prosecutor’s office and Congress both that the Clintons got into less trouble for deliberately robbing workaday people of their vacation and retirement properties over single missed or late payments than Bill got into for sticking a cigar up his mistress’s cunt.

So far we’ve recapitulated the careers of a handful of freaks and scolds in the Cassandra Class who set themselves up to make a living by warning or whining about the Clintons. There’s an unfortunate boy who cried wolf air about many of them, but the financial incentives at play don’t favor modesty and truthfulness. The scrupulous fare poorly in that business. To hazard a guess, there may be a few hundred people nationwide who make a real living pulling this bullshit. The direct Clinton grifters, by contrast, the ones whose relationship to Clintonworld is positive, not negative, are said to number in the thousands. The Clintons maintain an infamously teeming court made up of concentric circles of aides, sycophants, hangers-on, and Anthony Weiner. Sure, they’ve probably cut him out like a tumor for practicing such publicly atrocious tradecraft as a perv, but Bill is still involved with the Lolita Express dude, so moral standards don’t get in the way of their relationships. On the other hand, they utterly hate anyone who challenges them from what they consider their own proper territory, the Democratic Party, especially Bernie Sanders and everyone with the nerve to support him.

Even if they’ve never had any of their enemies whacked, the Clintons operate in the fashion of a crime family. They have no principles, only an obsession with loyalty to themselves and their organization. They consider Sanders, who kept his word and stumped for Hillary after losing to her in the 2016 primary, disloyal for having challenged her in an effort to advance his own principles. They can’t fucking stand him for having the gall to consider the Democratic Party (with which he has caucused for years in the US Senate) an appropriate venue for the advancement of leftist policy goals that have had the support of large parts of the Democratic coalition going back at least to FDR. They can’t stand him for not wanting to do business with them and become a totally amoral sellout. They can’t stand Bernie for scrupulously playing by the rules, even to the extent of keeping his own promise to cease his political challenge to Hillary at the conclusion of the primary season and to fully endorse her. They don’t take kindly to being challenged by someone so upstanding for the control of the party apparatus that they’ve been milking so abundantly. Bernie Sanders isn’t even trying to set himself and his cronies up as a separate profit center in the Democratic Party. If he were leading an upstart rival gang, Clintonworld would long ago have bought him off or shooed him off to some regional territory or political niche that they had no interest in directly milking. If he’d launched a Martin O’Malley-style half-assed technocratic corporatist challenge to Your Fleek Abuela, he would have ended up like O’Malley: forgotten by election day.

The Bern doesn’t fit anywhere into the Clintons’ nine circles of deluxe hell and he doesn’t play by their arbitrary rule of men, so he’s a threat, a prime deplorable who must be insulted and humiliated and rebuked.

Clintonworld is on course to tear the Democratic Party asunder with this hostile refusal to repay a shred of the goodwill and support they’ve been granted, but none of them give a shit. They’ve gotten what they came for, and they’ll scheme to get more of it from whatever tattered rump of the party is left with the most corporate money and extreme personal wealth. Billary and company will inevitably blame any disintegration of their party on Bernie, the Berniebros, the entire basket of deplorables, and other resentful losers. If the left successfully retakes the Democratic Party and restores its political viability, the Clintons will fume about the majesty that has been stolen from them and move on to some other den of crooks for future cash infusions. If the left sets up a credible third party that marginalizes the Democrats, the Clintons will keep drilling the remnants for whatever cash and influence they will still yield.

It’s not at all farfetched that they might formally defect to the GOP if a solid leftist majority in the Democratic Party tells them to get fucked. The Bushes were already on their side against Trump during the general election last year, after the entire slate of movement conservative candidates got beaten back by Donald Trump’s insurgency and Please Clap got his ass handed to him on a golden platter. It’s hard to imagine there being enough political space and campaign money to fund two major parties catering to affluent, college-educated voters with extreme technocratic, corporatist, and bourgeois supremacist sympathies if a third party successfully establishes itself as the representatives of normal people who have been the victims of bogus meritocracy, so the consolidation of corporatist grifters like the Clintons into a single party that, say, pays homage to Hillary’s old homeboy Barry Goldwater is perfectly plausible. I, for one, relish the prospect of Main Liners being instructed to either shut up and listen to the union shop stewards and community organizers or fuck off back to the GOP, where they belong.

The Clinton machine famously choked like the willing victim of a summertime Cabbagetown dalliance with Sweet Baby J last fall, but it still has all these assholes running loudmouthed interference on its behalf. It still has Joy Reid spouting condescending nonsense onto every medium she can find a moment to hog. It still has Neera Tanden blathering abuse at Woke Slay Queen’s critics and reporting them to Twitter for terms of service violations. More than ever it has Peter Daou, the Verrit shithead who was part of a Lebanese death squad.

What in all hell motivates these freaks to publicly debase themselves? Money and influence. Duh. As the thief asked Jesus on the cross, remember me, Lord, when you enter into your Kingdom. By his own private testimony, Jian Ghotmesi doesn’t forget, and neither does Billary. The Clintons already rule over an earthly kingdom parallel to whatever duly constituted civil governments and illegitimate absolute monarchies and juntas they happen to be milking, so no one need peer beyond the veil to imagine his due reward. Peter Daou, Joy Reid, and their ilk constantly beclown themselves because that’s what it takes to keep mainlining that Clinton machine sugar sweet. That must be just like living in paradise, and one wouldn’t want to go home from such a lifestyle.

These people don’t give a shit how many normal people they beggar to keep their sinecures going. They’re running the Saudi royal family, but for yuppie cronies. It should come as no surprise that a fair amount of the money needed to fund their shitty operation comes from the actual House of Saud. Of course this operation magnetically attracts shysters who have no desire whatsoever to do anything reputable or productive for a living. It’s a new money royal court, and royal courts always attract embarrassing sycophantic shitheads. Just look at the damn Windsors and the national fruit collection that goes on television to gush about their glamour.

Had they come of age during the Great Depression or the Second World War, the Clintons probably would have either plugged into some healthy, well-governed professional matrix and done modestly well for themselves or gone into an equally modest life of crime ending on short order in incarceration and disgrace. It’s also possible that they would have worked their way into an existing organized crime family and kept their heads down enough to avoid screwing the pooch. Instead, they came of age in time to get in on the yuppie project at its very start when they were barely thirty and then take a lead in dismantling the New Deal and the Great Society. They did very well for themselves indeed by collecting Bill’s hit man’s fee on Glass-Steagall in installments after his retirement. Their daughter shows no aptitude or interest in anything, a classic regression to and then beyond the mean, but the family organization collected hundreds of thousands of dollars by renting her out to NBC (Donald Trump’s buddies, and also Jenna Bush’s) for a bullshit make-work job lasting a few months. Of course they cleared out space for that mediocrity; they’re NBC.

Meanwhile, they want the rest of us to compete against each other under baroque regimes from which they’ve conveniently exempted themselves. If we want Bernie Sanders to relevel the playing field for us and reestablish a safety net, it’s only because we’re bitter, hopeless, useless losers and also misogynists and racists. Chelsea is out collecting graduate degrees like David Clarke collects uniform jacket medallions at a time when her public utterances are consistently some of the most fucking retarded shit ever, and meanwhile I’m a family embarrassment for having a work history that, spotty though it is, is objectively better than her dabbling in obscenely overpaid “work” at NBC for an hour here and there and doing God knows what at the family foundations, other than just hoovering up money for nothing. I’ve picked several thousand pounds of fruit as an adult, including over three quarters of a ton this calendar year, and that useless bitch has her parents and their cronies making her out to look employed by getting NBC Universal to slushfund her as much gross income in half a year as a full-time farm worker might make, depending on the crop and the terms of employment, in two or three decades.

If our family friend who has worked at the same flower shop for over a decade straight because she isn’t focused or driven or hopeful enough to finish the bachelor’s curriculum that she started at a poorly ranked commuter school can be a family embarrassment and a failure to launch, and if I can be one, Chelsea Clinton can damn well be one, too. So can the older Trumpspawn. These dipshits have never shown any fucking merit. There’s no motherfucking way a thoughtless repeater of brain-dead talking points like Chelsea Clinton was academically competitive at Stanford, Columbia, and Oxford. That is impossible. They’re all shitting us, pure and simple. Is it really possible that this woman who happens to be the daughter of a US president and Rhodes Scholar is a genius in her own right even though she can’t articulate a single independent thought? Yeah, these institutions totally never approve legacy admissions for the children of centimillionaires with gigantic international political machines.

If we’re up against corruption that entrenched, why, as a moral and civic consideration, should we NOT go on welfare? Going on public assistance precisely because Bill Clinton gutted it and preened about what a benevolence he was for doing so would serve him right. On the other hand, if we want legitimate moral leadership, why the hell wouldn’t we vote to marginalize this crime family every time it shows up to sup anew at the public trough? It these fuckers can’t steward eighty or a hundred million dollars well enough to get by for generations to come, they’re hapless, but under a Sanders regime, there’d be space for them on the relief rolls, too.

Do the Clintons see it that way? Hell no. Something very weird happens beyond a wealth threshold that no one that I’m aware of in my extended family has ever reached. Marketplace Morning Report, I think it was, had some ex-NFL guy on the other day to talk about how he needed to open a small chain of restaurant franchises because he’d grossed ONLY $28 million in pro football, and there’s just no way a person could retire on that. I don’t blame him at all for wanting to stay busy and keep some structure in his life, but I have to wonder how the hell he had been spending his money or feared he would waste it. He sounded too prudent to get into the serious Allen Iverson bullshit. AI blew every cent he could get his hands on and now calls the managers of his trust fund to pester them for advances, pleading broke (the Insurance Schmuck has these shit-upon retainers as colleagues), but that’s because he’s AI.

Not everyone who comes into money is such an idiot. I’m not, for example. I’ve done the math, and absent a medical crisis, I doubt I’d be able to exhaust principal of less than seven million dollars in my lifetime, and probably a lot less. That’s assuming maximum interest of 0.75%, equal to what I currently earn on my savings account at Capital One 360, and no earned income, i.e., no deposit bottles, no farm work, no data entry work, and no Social Security if I survive to retirement age. I can’t imagine not having a nest egg in effective perpetuity if I somehow grossed $28m by the age of forty.

How do I do it? By having mostly middle-class tastes. That’s where the Clintons and their kind would run smack into a big buzzkill. I travel almost exclusively by coach, drive a Focus, routinely sleep in it, hesitate to buy new off-brand slacks, dine for miles, generally order some of the cheapest items on the menu, rarely buy alcohol, etc. ad nauseam. It adds up. Heh, I initially wrote that as “ads up,” but I’m self-deprogrammed, unless the ad is for bonus gas points at Safeway. Then it might become worthwhile to spend an extra nineteen cents on brand-name peanut butter.

It’s not hypocritical of me, then, to strive to do business with organizations that are funneling little or no money into shitty outfits like the Clinton and Trump organizations. Or with ISB and ISBF, who, respectively, spend more than my total annual cash flow on the summer rental of a shore house and carry more credit card debt than my net worth, including the resale value of my car. From this perspective, their being cokeheads stops looking so objectionable. I could be balls-deep in whores every week for a year or two straight for the $14k that that ditz spent on her wristwatch.

Bill Clinton catches a regular ride on Jeffrey Epstein’s Gulfstream to Lolita Island. I’ve never been to the Caribbean at all, even in the extreme ass end of an A321 out of Miami. It’s not that I’ve sworn to God never to go there; it’s just that it’s out of the way and expensive, or in the case of Puerto Rico, out of the way, chronically dysfunctional, and not necessarily on the schedule for grid repairs until sometime next year. Glen Campbell, pray for us. Robert Dziekanski and Frank Sinatra, too, come to think of it.

Smear me for writing such things when I’ve replaced Dodd-Frank with absolutely nothing. Take it any way you fancy, but the Rat Pack had some bitchin’ horn sections, and Bill Clinton would have failed their sax auditions. Giggity.

At least I did part of my part by voting for Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein. She may be an incorrigible dork who curries favor with antivaxxers and healing crystals freaks, but at least they’re marginal. We’ve seen what the Trumps and the Clintons have done with their power.

Total eclipse of the head

Working over the summer in an area that will be under totality and keeping an ear on the radio, with and (preferentially) without Annnnnngellllllla Kelllllnnnnerrrrrr, has given me as much advance notice as anyone on the mess that’s expected to descend on Oregon this weekend for the eclipse. It sounded like a huge clusterfuck was on the way north, so I got out of Dodge on Thursday and started south. As I left the area, there had already been a couple of horrible rural traffic jams around Prineville, but every time I’ve checked Google Maps traffic since, the area looks pretty clear, so maybe the hippie importation into the Ochoco National Forest is mostly complete. KLCC had some ranch owner and real estate magnate on to brag about how his redneck values of self-reliance and grit forced him to do business with hippies in order to make ends meet in tight times, hence his inviting the organizers of upcountry Burning Man onto his property, which is miles from the nearest street address. Dude probably ain’t as strapped for cash as he makes himself out to be, but as Greg Gianforte would say, bullshitting city slickers about such things is the Montana Way.

On my way south, I stopped in Bend, a badly underrated city, as it fell under the pall of smoke from a huge wildfire west of Sisters. I had a panoramic view of the smoke coming across on Highway 20 and then got to savor the flavor for 150 miles. Hours after I left Bend, this jumped a containment line and prompted the closure of Highway 242, the windy mountain cutoff between Sisters and McKenzie Bridge. This is frankly a minor example of the shit I’ve been fearing. An active fire season is always possible in Oregon, and we’ve been having one this year. The more I think about it, the more relieved I am that 242 got closed days before the eclipse: a mass evacuation of flatlanders from the path of an oncoming fire in such rugged terrain along such a windy road would very likely have gotten people killed, quite possibly by the hundreds. Dozens of mostly local residents were killed earlier this year in Portugal when a forest fire that they were trying to flee burned over the road that they were trying to use as an evacuation road and trapped them in their cars, and that was in much more prosaic, normal circumstances that Oregon is expecting for the eclipse.

One of the reasons why I left was that I was worried about a mass-casualty fire scene even worse than that. I’m still a bit worried, but less so, since the traffic jams aren’t as bad as I was expecting. The northbound traffic I saw on my way south was heavy but orderly and not jammed up, and the timing of the eclipse, on the Monday morning of what many tourists will be able to make into a three-day weekend, should limit the rush the day and night before. The Monday afternoon exodus is still expected to be a zoo, though, and I’m glad to avoid that. I’d only get in the damn way. Nor did I relish the idea of sticking around an area where the last two rooms I could find, at a property that I often book for sixty or seventy dollars a night, were going for $1,399, plus generous taxes and fees.

I’m still trying to plan a trip to see the eclipse, but wicked inland, probably in Idaho. Napoleon Dynamite Country shouldn’t attract as many freaks and idiots as the Left Coast. Maybe I’m naive, but no matter how embarrassingly crunchy Western Montana is, it doesn’t have the sheer population to disgorge into Rexburg and Idaho Falls that California has available for John Day. Sensible Mormons seem like a good idea in times like these, and the Wasatch Front has many such cases. Better to have them colonize the eclipse path than the hippie swarm. They tend to bathe.

It isn’t just a matter of avoiding potentially contagious Anglo-Saxonisms such as the itch, the twitch, the mange, and the grunge. The dirty motherfuckers who choose to harbor such wonders (and the traveling ones are moneyed enough that it indeed is a fucking choice) are, as they say in activist communities, intersectional with the carriers of woo-woo. From what I’m hearing, a total eclipse is really worth watching, but I’d rather watch it with Mormon breeders who stockpile canned goods in a bunker than with healing crystals assholes. All the New Age bullshit is about to flood interior Oregon from Ashland and Nevada City and Santa Cruz, in an almost biblical sense, and I’ve had enough of that crap already. If you haven’t been exposed to it, you probably have no idea how fucking obnoxious it all is. The ideas that these losers have about the eclipse have to be UFC heavyweight wrestler fucking dropkicked that dumb bitch I did insane. I get the gist of it and can tell at a glance that it’s all retarded, so I really don’t need the details.

I don’t need another helping of the wholegrain vegan pancakes, either. Mixing whole wheat flour, olive oil, baking soda, oatmeal, and water into a batter (sic, and adequately sickening) might seem like a great idea to someone who also believes in “neurolinguistic programming” (Major Bones: “You realize, all that means is learning how to talk! Oh my God!”) and scatters affirmations that “EVERY DAY, IN EVERY WAY, I AM GETTING RICHER” around the house while snacking on rotten lettuce all afternoon. The Family Shrew earned her epithet in part by being a pushy bitch about how such a lifestyle would be edifying for me, too, and really for everyone. I have never figured out whether the nasty salad mix snacks (without dressing, because that woman knows how to wander out of her fucking mind) were entirely a health cult discipline or had something to do with her and Joe Dirtbag not being able to afford groceries at times when my dad had been giving them tens of thousands of dollars.

So, no, I do not want to go watch some special lunar shit with this crowd. It sounds miserable. It’s bad enough that I can’t reschedule it for a year not featuring a secular high in socioeconomic inequality in the OECD and an allegedly liberal Neo-Victorian IFL Science bourgeoisie that wants to tell the poor how to live and is successfully turning Donald Trump into the Millennium’s William Jennings Bryan as well as its FDR. There was a big-ass eclipse in 1888, too, during the Gilded Age. Back then all the fashionable moral people were open eugenicists who expected their breakfast cereals to double as laxatives and triple as masturbation suppressors. That’s where science got J. H. Kellogg. One fucking loves it. Everyone who wanted a cut of his money for research had to pretend that he wasn’t batshit insane for going to the zoo to watch chimpanzees shit and taking notes. #GorillaMindset. Grant writers today have to pretend that Uber isn’t a mashup of COINTELPRO, Dr. Mengele from the psychology department, and 38 Special Vinny from the taxicab racket, that there isn’t anything wrong with Elon Musk for wanting to colonize Mars and run a maglev pneumatic tube from New York to Washington at a time when no level of government in the United States has the wherewithal to fund a third heavy rail bore under the Hudson into Penn Station, and that Ashton Kutcher and Nicholas Jesus D. Kristof are international authorities on forced brothel labor, coextensive and coterminous with all sex work because they say so.

Shit, white boy. I haven’t even gotten to all the flak that the poor take for being fat. The eclipse is sure to be another excuse for people who expose entire communities to measles because Jenny McCarthy says vaccines are giving their brats autism to accuse churchgoing Christians of superstition. Okay, some cool shit is happening with the sun and the moon, but it doesn’t give some asshole who dicks around on the NASA website grounds to make fun of snake-handling holy rollers for being ignorant and backwards (they know a thing or two about animals, after all), and it doesn’t give some other asshole the dispensation to swirl a fucking amethyst crystal in front of my third eye. I say this as someone who took the plunge and went through with RCIA in order to avoid taking the literal plunge into the bathtub of a wacko cradle Catholic turned hardline Missouri Synod Lutheran/straight-up John Knox Presby hellfire preacher who wanted to summarily baptize me at a soiree that he was hosting.

I’m wary of zealots because I’ve gotten mixed up with a few. There are only two words that I need repeat about my institutional experience with Dickinson College: GO DIPLOMATS! Seriously, I’ve considered actually donating to Gettysburg and F&M just to spite the development office shitheads and the cult horde that they indoctrinate. It’d probably be a five spot, but I’d make damn sure that it’s enough to get my name on a published donor list. The eclipse already has the IFL Science community preening about its own superiority to uneducated religious ignoramuses who don’t fucking love science, so, yes, I’d rather go to Idaho Falls and see if any of the LDS MILF’s made some extra Jello salad. Remember: more sister wives means more recipes.

It also occurs to me that maybe Mormon eclipse-watchers in flyover country are Safety Bear enough not to start wildfires by driving on the grass. John Waters is full of shit about America being able to take in more people because there’s so much space, but there is something to be said for getting into a relatively unpopulated part of the country on a weekend when the populated part where I’ve been working is going to have a wildebeest stampede of flatlanders into climatic and vegetation regimes that they dangerously fail to understand.

There’s definitely something to be said for being rational about this stuff, to doing some real planning and trying to steer clear of those who don’t. The Boy Scouts taught me about more than just Chesterfield. Much of what we did there was retarded, but not all of it was. The BSA isn’t exactly an organization of heteronormative neurotypicality, so Our Lord Joseph’s Servant Gerald applying the DENNIS Method to one’s Heartland under its auspices shouldn’t come as a total surprise, but it did teach us some extremely useful things about gun and knife safety and wilderness survival when it wasn’t handing out merit badges like candy to anyone who spent a week at camp weaving dumbass kit baskets. In retrospect, I side with the kid who got frustrated and threw his basket into the campfire. Those who aren’t into arson can learn much from the BSA about how not to accidentally start fires. It isn’t a good place to send Jim DiMaggio or Sexy Male Code Enforcement Officer Lynn Rader for training (God, not another DENNIS Method), but the worst boys I encountered through it were average bullies or whiny little twerps, not psychopaths.

It’s true that none of my recurring memes are bad by BSA standards. It’s true that what’s most grievously missing from its camps are the camp whores. That sounds like an American Pie sequel, but prostitution would actually cut down on the juvenile bullshit, and it’s a lot more realistic than amateur hour with Mrs. Robinson. These boys aren’t about to get it on with Stacy’s Mom; I was one of them, and I know that we did not got it going on.

It’s a weird damn organization, Rex Tillerson being one of the exceptions that proves the rule, but as I said, it managed to teach some of us some good shit, and the people I’m trying to avoid in Oregon this weekend include ones who never got the personal hygiene merit badge. That’s the one you get by coming out of the bath not smelling like shit. Left-liberals can have a moral sense of purity, too, bitch. People who smell bad after they bathe offend mine, and they overlap significantly with idiots who start fires by driving on dry grass, smoke being another source of offensive impurity, but you know what they say: haters gonna haidt.

Among those left behind

The guy who sued the Insurance Schmuck’s boss was recently found dead by his own hand in a hotel room. The Insurance Schmuck said that he lived exceptionally fast and loose and likely killed himself to avoid paying secret debts that were well beyond his financial ability. By his reckoning, dude was supporting himself with a sort of check-kiting scam on his very life, and now he leaves behind huge mess.

There’s obviously a lot wrong with this entire situation, but I’m still trying to put a finger on what exactly is so pathological about it. I take my exposure to it, even secondhand, as a personal affront and very much as evidence that the Insurance Schmuck has blundered into a clusterfuck that poisons everything it touches without the sense or the courage to cut bait on these toxic lunatics. He often talks to me about how loyal he is, and he’s right about that. The specific problems that he’s encountering with his loyalty to his boss are that ISB is out of control, many of the associates and loved ones that ISB has cultivated are also out of control, quite a few other people close to one or both of them in the business are out of control, and the Insurance Schmuck doesn’t have what it takes to stand up to these wackos.

Let’s rechristen ISB’s late estranged former business partner ISBP. The P can stand for plaintiff, too. Or for prick, or putz. #TeshTips: Arabic does not have a letter corresponding to P, and we are not Muammar Qaddafi’s loyal beebul. #PowerOfPride #BowerOfBride.

I can’t believe that ISBP didn’t have some meritorious claims against ISB. It’s possible but very unlikely. The Insurance Schmuck has made some hushed comments to me to the effect that ISB at least tried to chisel ISBP or dangle some bogus promises in front of him in bad faith. ISB as a shyster in his business life rings true enough. Even if ISBP exaggerated his claims, it’s hard to see what incentive anyone would have to sue a competent, reputable senior partner in a successful business, since there would be so much to be gained by just keeping the operation running smoothly.

It’s almost as hard to imagine an attorney wanting to take on a nutty client whose case sounds like horseshit or a persecution complex unless the defendant is either a loaded celebrity with a reputation to defend or a corporation. ISBP sued ISB as an individual, from what I’ve heard, one private citizen to another, and any corporations involved were small and obscure. Besides, ISB seems vain enough to thrash around defending his honor rather than paying a disgruntled ex-partner fuck-off money, and the Insurance Schmuck told me that he did exactly that, costing both of them six-figure legal bills and, in his opinion, shortening both of their lives. When he learned of ISBP’s suicide, he felt sadly vindicated in his prediction that they’d go to early deaths.

It was darkly humorous, then, to find an obituary for ISBP in the Lancaster Newspapers mentioning that he had died “unexpectedly.” I had an inside source at the Lancaster Newspapers (I’m Woodward Bernstein, bitch) who told me and some classmates in the 1990’s that the publishers had a strict policy against printing HIV or AIDS as a cause of death in their obituaries, so I wouldn’t put it past them to be equally chickenshit about suicide. Of course, many families don’t want to air that bit of grief, either. As my aunt from Manna’s Habba, the same one whose brother is the Staten Island diaspora’s premier self-loathing Jew, “he died of kansa!”

How long, in the plural, to the point of no return? That was bad, but as Robert Dziekanski said, better an electronic cut from the American Heartland than an electric cut straight outta Depot. ISBP wasn’t Aaron Hernandez, so I don’t want to make light of his suicide, exactly (even if I’m in no danger of going bottomfeeding like Rod Dreher did over the freshly late Ariel Castro), but there is something really fucked up and eerie about seeing a newspaper obituary that treats a guy’s death as a sad mystery and hearing details from a mutual contact indicating that the paper scurried around the edges of the really seedy cultural underbelly of the same guy’s life. After all the toxic bullshit I’ve gotten from my college crowd about the socioeconomic milieu that would or should be mine, it’s disturbing to get the impression that people I nearly met at prep school (and may have met fleetingly at some point) responded to a suicide catalyzed by very similar socioeconomic pathologies to the ones I kept encountering at college by blowing sunshine up everyone’s ass.

Reporting this guy’s suicide as a suicide isn’t red meat for the rubberneckers; in its context, there really is something newsworthy about it. There is a public interest in warning people away from the kind of dangerous living that got ISBP into trouble, if that’s actually what happened, and the Insurance Schmuck seemed reasonably well-informed about his background.

This isn’t to say that I take everything the Insurance Schmuck said about ISBP and his beef with ISB at face value. He told me that ISB and his then-girlfriend, the one whose breast implants he paid for, used a lot of hard drugs, which explained why Legacy Tits looked so awful. When I saw Legacy Tits at the pool earlier this summer, I thought she looked exceptionally poised and not particularly haggard for a woman her age. In retrospect, having done the Zuckerbergeois Google-fu to get her meatspace name and the full legal names of ISB and ISBP, I realize that I may have overestimated her age, possibly by five years, but I had a raging alcoholic friend in college, when we were both freshmen, who looked like she was pushing a grizzled forty. So, all in all, Legacy Tits didn’t look too bad. Her Facebook profile makes her look like she has Borderline Personality Disorder, but having seen her at the pool, I assume that’s basically a persona. She isn’t the first person (usually women, from what I can recall) who had such a whatthefuckular discrepancy between face-to-face conversations and Facebook.

ISB, on the other hand, looks like shit, and not that much unlike Rob Ford. Thinking over this whole mess, I’ve occasionally been consumed with total confidence that he’s a cokehead. He works in business circles that are traditionally awash in coke. He looks like a cokehead and he acts like a cokehead. Alcohol could explain much of it, as it did for the Mayor, but ISB, like the yachting dipshit who claims to get by on an hour of sleep a night, is burning the wick at both ends in a way strongly suggesting that he needs powerful slugs of stimulants to avoid falling into a delirium or passing out. And if ISBF hasn’t snorted base, I’m Pablo Escobar. Knowing how much of her upkeep comes from ISB, he’s probably where she gets her coke.

The Insurance Schmuck has no fucking idea if these two use cocaine, or amphetamines, for that matter. In a tossup, I’d still call coke, but I wouldn’t put it past ISB in particular to use Adderall or Ritalin off-label. The Insurance Schmuck has no clue that his boss and the projectile nut he’s engaged to marry use hard stimulants because, for one thing, they’re too politically astute and neurotic to tell someone who doesn’t seem to be down for some uppers that they use, and more generally, he’s totally oblivious and ignorant to the cultures of any drug but alcohol and the signs of use. He’d have to see someone roll up a Benjamin right in front of him and hoover up a line to get an inkling that, hey, that guy just took some coke.

The Insurance Schmuck knows practically nothing about drugs except what he’s heard from his crappy, powerfully illiberal sober living stories. I doubt it would occur to him that cocaine helps some people function in high-power office jobs and is within others’ ability to use without immediately going off the rails. He’s got this narrative in his head that substance abuse makes abusers inherently unable to function. That’s really what it is: a narrative, a shabby deep story, a suite of prejudices for an avowedly unprejudiced man from an avowedly unprejudiced family. I have no trouble seeing how ISB could integrate cocaine into a life that doesn’t also involve his sleeping on a piece of cardboard at Market East. I doubt it does him much holistic good, but I’ve had the strong sense since before I met him that he lives an awfully unbalanced and unhealthy life, a sense that he confirmed the night I met him when he met us at the bar and carried on in a fashion that may have been the sole effect of alcohol but alternately may have been facilitated by scheduled stimulants.

I don’t recall the Insurance Schmuck telling me how he knew that that ISBP and Legacy Tits were heavy drug users, but I can’t help but imagine ISB getting worked up and angrily calling them a couple of fucking cokeheads. There’s no reason for ISB’s own cocaine use to get in the way of such a tirade; no homo, he and ISBP went through the equivalent of a divorce, and ISB always seemed like one of the last people to admit his own failures and weaknesses. If the Insurance Schmuck has mentioned his own sober living theories, ISB has all the more incentive to smear ISBP and Legacy Tits as drug users. On the other hand, I got the sense that Legacy Tits had discussed her drug use with him, too.

What rankles me about this situation is not the drug use per se, but the appearance that the Insurance Schmuck and the shysters around him are using drugs as a cudgel while peacocking about their own moral superiority as sober businessmen who kick ass for a living. I use caffeine and a very occasional mug of beer, and the Insurance Schmuck seems to be having the wool pulled over his eyes by a number of close business associates who are hopped up on some hard, hard shit. If they aren’t on cocaine or amphetamines, they sure play the part. I take deep offense at insinuations that I’m less well-adjusted than these wackos, but I know that the Insurance Schmuck is interested in using me as a conduit to my parents’ eventual estate, because he’s said as much to me, but a bit less bluntly, and I know that these assholes all idolize wealth in the classic biblical sense. I pick fruit commercially for deep poverty wages. Why should I not think that these people have cultivated themselves into a crew of shambling reprobates?

And why shouldn’t I think that they’re dangerous? The Insurance Schmuck isn’t the root of the problem. If he were working for someone reputable, he wouldn’t be angling for a cut of my future inheritance with pitches that leave me with a gathering aftertaste of crassness and insensitivity. Under a scrupulous boss, he’d be blameless. Instead, he works for a shyster with substance abuse problems in a business full of such people, and so he covers for them and descends into a willful, strategic ignorance of how they’re behaving. The sales tactics that they use are shit, and there’s no compensating for that with solid products. Shitty tactics produce shitty customer reactions. That’s all there is to it. They are inevitably going to alienate and upset prospective clients by following scripts that turn them into fucking assholes. That is in the cards for as long as they keep reshuffling the same filthy deck.

So are the aggressive addicts. They provide a safe space for highbrow derelicts, and so the highbrow derelicts show up and shit the floor. One of my best friends works for a guy who got sued for fraud and breach of contract by a cokehead who committed suicide and left his ex-girlfriend out in the cold, with nothing to show for their relationship but a set of silicone knockers. The Insurance Schmuck said that ISBP left Legacy Tits out on the street. It may well not be that bad, whether she finds a sugar daddy or moves back in with family (either one is likely), but it doesn’t sound good.

It is reasonable of me to ask why the fuck he does business with such people and what the fuck he expects me to think of it.

Interstate Avenue

When I saw the No Washington Bottles sign on the wall at the Delta Park BottleDrop today, my first reaction was lol good luck with that. My second, much darker, thought was that OBRC might actually try to enforce the regulation against interstate smuggling. There’s absolutely no way in hell to enforce anything of the sort equitably. The closest thing to equitable enforcement would be a regime that uniformly checks the origin of every customer’s bottles. That would cause excessive burdens for the poorest, most desperate customers and choke the entire system on bureaucracy, bringing it to a sputtering halt. Compelling bottlers to label their bottles specifically for sale in Oregon as a condition of selling here is presumably beyond the pale politically. Bottlers have the operational and financial capacity to cope with a state-by-state labeling regime more readily than individuals can cope with an intrusive inspection regime, but they also have lobbyists, and the rest of us don’t so much.

The sign noted that some try-hard safety club administrative regulation allows bottle redemption centers to turn away bottles that they believe to have been purchased out of state and to refuse to accept bottles from customers with Washington license plates. To illustrate this, the sign’s background was a copy of the blue-on-white lithograph of Mount Rainier from the Washington license plate under the struck-through red circle from a no-smoking sign. Frankly, out-of-state tags aren’t probative of a damned thing. They’re going on the basis of prejudicial suspicion and nothing else. They don’t know where the hell anyone’s bottles were purchased because the inefficiency of certifying provenance and chain of custody, of treating like antiquities junk that someone just fished out of a fucking trash can, would crash the system. The cost of efficiency is some petty crooks bringing in bottles from out of state. Big fucking deal. Just this year the deposit in Oregon was raised from five cents to ten because the percentage of deposits redeemed had stayed below eighty percent for several years straight, so it’s a matter of public record that the bottle fund had a strong positive cash flow until at least last year.

So we’ve got this really fucking neighborly sign outlawing Washington two miles from downtown Vancouver (why, hello, neighbor!) and telling Washingtonians to fuck off and take their bottles to an appropriate recycling center that doesn’t offer deposits, in roughly the tone one would expect of a sign cautioning sexual perverts to go to McNeil Island for their civil commitment. Cascadia federalism will totally work, guys. It won’t be anything like US federalism, or even Canadian federalism. It totally won’t involve a state that sent an advisory team from its corrections department to teach its counterparts in Delaware how to revive the lost art of judicial hanging or had a death squad mace one of its own condemned men in extremis when he resisted his own Saddamnation. Nothing located anywhere between Clarksport and Blaine possibly makes Erin Sharma look human, and no one in North Portland has a beef with anyone on the other side of the Columbia for stealing the Oregon treasury’s shiznit.

The prospect of the regulations against the importation of deposit bottles actually being enforced raises the specter of authoritarian overreach by exactly the people who belong nowhere near positions of authority. If OBRC tries to bar the door against Clark County freeloaders, it will end up hiring police academy rejects whose love of power for the sake of power has them on course for jobs as casino rent-a-cops unless something else drifts within reach. The license to interrogate and interdict certain classes of people for improvable petty fraud is exactly the commission to convince a bunch of officious asshats who naturally suffer from hypervigilance verging on PTSD and suspicion verging on clinical paranoia that they’re Inspector Lewis. We’ve got a regime here that threatens to breed monsters for no other reason than to root out a few sad sacks who smuggle thirty-dollar loads of cans in from Hazel Dell. I honestly thought Oregon had more heart than to do something that vicious, but I guess not.

This regime–again, if it’s actually enforced–will fall heaviest on the poorest and most desperate. Bill and Melinda Gates aren’t showing up with bags full of cans. The Delta Park BottleDrop was mobbed this afternoon, and I was one of only two or three people in the building, other than the staff, who didn’t look utterly indigent. Most of the other customers were dressed for shit. I’m sure that some of them were wearing castoffs from Goodwill.

Everything that could be wrong with them, other than a late-stage Marlon Brando wheeling himself up to the hot tables in a Chinese buffet with nasal oxygen in tow, was wrong. They were slovenly, slouchy, shabbily dressed, out of shape, overweight in ways that looked indescribably but unmistakably abnormal, underweight in that classic somebody better feed Kid Rock way, and in many cases vaguely distempered, hostile, and of diminished executive function. One lady in front of me was feeding bottles into the machine without looking, causing herself to lose at least one into a deep crevice beside the conveyor belts when it hit another bottle that the machine had been rejected. I was afraid that she’d curse me out and turn into an in-your-face bitch if I pointed this out to her, so I held my peace.

Heh, I initially wrote that as “held my piece.” I might as well have been doing that, probably. Going in there with only $1.50 worth of bottles at all-day rush hour wasn’t a compellingly good decision. Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Nah, who am I kidding? These people are too harried to take a Sabbath. They were lined up out the door the first time I swung by; I came by a couple of hours later and joined a line that went almost back to the front door, then walked past several people who were lined up outside the door as I left after another fifteen minutes.

We weren’t there for our health. I have a cushion that will keep me going for another month of two on its own, for which I’m greatly thankful, but the extra money helps me, too. For most of the other people there, it must have been indispensable. They weren’t traveling kid grungy. They weren’t larping some crappy slumdog shtick. They were the real deal, the genuinely, generationally poor. I didn’t need to take a second look at them to tell that an extra twenty or thirty dollars would be a true godsend.

Police states tend to fall heaviest on the poor. An administrative police state enforced by non-sworn petty functionaries for the purpose of deterring petty bottle deposit fraud is no different. That has the effect of demonizing, menacing, humiliating, and degrading the poor. BottleDrop often attracts the lumpenproletariat, but the Delta Park store attracted the hell out of them. I was surprised by the sheer numbers, but not so much by the overall mix, although I was a bit taken aback, because the neighborhood ain’t so hot. There’s no telling how many cold homeless are living in the woods or on disused patches of land around industrial properties in North Portland, but the number is sizable. The revulsion of higher classes to this crowd is natural and to some extent inevitable; frankly, some of them really are the dregs; but it should not be encouraged. We all should aspire to something better, something more human.

I felt really uncomfortable with the implications of an official sign in an unpleasant built environment menacingly accusing an exceptionally destitute customer base of wholesale criminality and threatening to take extreme actions to thwart it. Examining license plates is extreme. Demanding proof of purchase in Oregon is extreme. The sign was probably posted due to the facility’s proximity to the Washington state line, not due to the poverty of its customers, but its presence in a facility used overwhelmingly by the visibly indigent was disturbing.

These are people who go through their entire lives, sometimes generation after generation, associating exclusively with other members of the underclasses. Their only contacts with anyone from the lower middle class or above are with police, teachers, social workers, jail guards, and maybe other professionals, most of whom do not regard them as anything like equals.

The rest of us treat them like dogshit. We other the hell out of them and leave them to their separate and unequal world of check-cashing joints, ghettoside 7-Elevens, and bottle redemption centers. (As bad as the last can be in Oregon, the ones in California are a whole other quantum of misery and degradation.) We pretend that this other world doesn’t exist. God knows I mostly try to avoid it, because it sucks, and because most of the companies and individuals who set up shop there richly deserve to go out of business.

The chronic degradation of the very poor is one of the reasons why Robert Pickton got away with serial murder for so long. The women he murdered weren’t just prostitutes; most of the prostitutes among them were homeless or housing-insecure streetwalkers with hard drug habits. He also targeted a number of indigenous women living on Indian reserves, which are about as bad in Canada as in the United States. He went after women who were effectively second-class citizens. That’s who I saw in BottleDrop today, too: second-class citizens living in a second-class society. No, more like third-class, to be generous.

These people won’t assimilate into middle-class society if they continue to be treated like thievish losers who deserve monitoring worthy of a prison visiting room. They need to be shown some good faith, some benefit of the doubt. The affluent wouldn’t put up for fifteen minutes with the shit that the poor face on a daily basis.

We can’t expect the disorder that we’ve encouraged in poor neighborhoods not to seep into wealthier ones, or to flood in unexpectedly, triggered by something equally unexpected. Bad shit taking root on the margins isn’t good for anyone. We encourage the maintenance and proliferation of reservoirs of ill at our own peril, not just at the peril of those who get stuck living in such environments.

In my own experience, Washington is a weak-ass canning state, but take your ass up to Battle Ground and get some bottles. Take your ass up to Puyallup and get some bottles. Take your ass all the way up to Lynden and get you some damn bottles. Take your asco over to Pasco, bitch, and get bottles. It isn’t a Wesley Willis song (sic), but it should be. Amen, in the name of Jason Lee, I duly abet ye all.

Arendt you glad you didn’t go to Sidwell Friends?

The Clintons, that interminably festering boil on the ass of the Democratic Party, are oozing pus again. There’s nothing novel about this condition, but sometimes the discharge is particularly vile, and Chelsea’s beef with Corey Robin over the meaning of Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem” is one of those times. Chelsea truly rounds out Billary into an unholy trinity of shit. I used to want to give her the benefit of the doubt as an unfortunate child who didn’t ask to be born into that mess, but she’s past the age of moral culpability and has not been acquitting herself well. (Her parents never have a problem acquitting themselves of all charges.)

The details of her beef with Corey Robin are Extremely Online, a status which at this time of year interferes with my being Extremely Picking Fruit (try it sometime; done right, it’s true soulcraft), but the gist is that an ex-client who had aged out of an LGBT social services facility in Phoenix and been carrying an intense personal grudge against the facility set fire to the building, and Chelsea went bottomfeeding for political points by describing this incident as an example of the banality of evil. Robin then told her that she had gotten Hannah Arendt and her boy Eichmann all wrong, provoking Chelsea into a passive-aggressive snit about how grateful she was to have “read Hannah Arendt at Sidwell and Stanford.” Robin kept after her, point by specific point, about how exactly she had misread Arendt’s assessment of Eichmann’s psyche, and Chelsea, the eminently educated woman, kept basically making a bunch of shit up to conform a politically exploitable arson in a state that her mother had tried to win to her bullshit PR about the banality of evil.

Chelsea and Hillary Clinton are everything that workaday Americans loath and distrust about the college-educated and the university as a broad institution. (Bill, a former Rhodes Scholar, has a special charm that he has long used to strategically play down his own academic background.) Ordinary people, including informed and educated ones, very rightly chafe at being lectured by sanctimonious, bumptious, graceless idiots who constantly namedrop their own alma maters and can’t hide their contempt of everyone else for being mentally retarded. If any normal (eh, abnormal) private citizen dove into a Union-Tribune comment thread to accuse Jim DiMaggio of being the East County Eichmann, others on the thread would go, dude, what the fuck. Chelsea got dudewhatthefucked, but politely so, by a D-Lister who dwarfs her intellectually, and it got her sore. She didn’t just demonstrate sore loserdom, which Americans don’t admire; she was a sore, evasive loser in a pissing match that she had started over a famous piece of writing that she claimed to have read but clearly didn’t grasp in a desperate effort to shoehorn it into a bogus campaigning narrative that she was using in a craven effort to pander to a narrow identitarian constituency, and in the course of this gross outburst she made sure to brag about what fancy schools  she had attended.

This woman is the fucking platonic ideal of the arrogant, overbearing elite liberal. It’s goddamn unbelievable. As they say on the Yorkville-Rochester corridor, Hannah Arendt has John Dennis Diddly to do with where a rich bitch went to school. The Heartland: one cannot help but be moved to sing a song about it! That didn’t have anything to do with anything worth discussing right now, either, but it wasn’t well, well, herpes dederpes, I went to a prep school, bitch. I take that back: depending on political leanings and trust in incumbent institutions and those operating them, it may have had something to do with certain pizzerias. John Podesta: now there’s a gent you can trust.

Any public library could provide a customer with Hannah Arendt’s publications by some medium or other, but Chelsea isn’t the kind of peon who would condescend to use a library or to show a working laywoman’s understanding of anything that Arendt had written. Being mentally ill, angry, and impulsive enough to burn down a rec center because one is having a mad is definitely not Eichmann. The whole point of “Eichmann in Jerusalem” was that Adolf Eichmann was an unnervingly civil and bloodless dork who still managed to orchestrate atrocities. He was antipodal to Jesus Christ motherfucker I’m motherfucking pissed and I’ma go burn some fucking shit down. Most people who have heard of him are aware of this.

Chelsea Clinton is not. This ignorance would embarrass a normal person who values knowledge and wisdom, but Chelsea isn’t that, either. She’s an obscenely wealthy power player, a multimillionaire with the values and business practices of a billionaire. It’s classic for billionaires to resent their intellectual superiors and take offense at any suggestion that they are not intellectual heavyweights themselves. Chelsea didn’t sleep in my car last night; I did. Money can buy a person schooling, it can buy a person degrees, but it can’t buy a person a true education or the intellectual curiosity necessary to pursue one. As Det. Juliet O’Hara put it, guys. Guys. This isn’t working out. I can teach you the moves, but I cannot make you feel the crunk. The crunk has to come from inside, from right here. Chelsea is one who has never felt the crunk. All it takes to outshine that bitch intellectually is to stay up until 1:30 watching the nightly Psych rerun on Ion. (No, I am not Extremely Television enough to know whether there’s just the one episode per night; I am Extremely Television enough to be embarrassed about what I do know about Ion’s programming.) Watching Psych is like drinking from a fire hose, so I haven’t watched it much, but it’s striking that any episode at random contains more observation, truth, wisdom, and beauty than Chelsea Clinton has visibly achieved in her entire life, and that’s just some slapstick bullshit about a pineapple enthusiast hanger-on at the Santa Barbara Police Department who’s always getting in the way of the detectives.

The bar is low for our Chelsea. So has it always been. If she had the raw academic merit for admission to Stanford, I’m John Sutter. NBC? I’m Walter Cronkite. Being Chelsea Clinton and getting places because of who one’s parents are, well, I’ll be a sour, sonorous old bastard, but that’s the way it is. The Russert boy, too. Could be something crooked in that joint.

For a second-generation sworn meritocrat, it must be scandalous and humiliating to realize that one’s earned place in the Darwinian neoliberal order would be as a Dickensian trash-scavenging bum on the Bowery or a poor house slave. (Homegirl does not look capable of whoring her way up to a better life.) But this gloss makes the bold assumption that Chelsea is self-aware enough to notice such things. We can tell that she’s an intellectual midget, but I don’t entirely know what to make of her psyche. If she feels guilt, she certainly doesn’t show it, but being brought up in a family like her own, she didn’t have to go native to get to that degraded point. Both of her parents have a shocking lack of humanity. Her father, the one who flew back to Arkansas to give Ricky Ray Rector the opportunity to save his last dessert for afterwards, is smooth enough to hide his coldness; her mother, the failed presidential candidate whose time never came, famously is not.

Being the faildaughter of yuppies sucks; I have enough personal experience along similar lines to know it. Being the public faildaughter of A-List yuppies is even worse. Chelsea Clinton was thrown into a truly unenviable position the likes of which can be fully understood only by royalty. I never expected great leadership of her. Still, I’m disturbed that she doesn’t look uncomfortable with the arrangement. A decent person who understands the dynamics at play and what’s destructive about them would look pained. Chelsea looks smug.

She IS smug. Her understanding of formal education is that hers, being fancy, magically reified her life of the mind. She read Arendt at Sidwell and Stanford. That’s what she thinks of her own education. Her degrees are weapons that she can use to pwn academics on Twitter. They’re fnords that she can use to insult people who know what the hell they’re talking about and lord it over them with her own majesty. She expects to awe those around her into silence and deference with this crappy shtick. Her family is surrounded with the sorts of grotesque social climbers who respond positively in the hope of basking in and profiting from their glory. The Extremely Online community contains many who don’t, insolent citizens with the nerve to ask who bitch this is, and to answer their own question. They’re all BernieBros, of course. They’re all misogynists.

Chelsea Clinton is exactly why I hate college as an institution. People like her, although most of them much poorer and all of them less influential, have poisoned the social and institutional culture of my alma mater. Bill Durden catered to them because they have money and are the easiest to persuade to part with a portion of it in the interest of mutual aggrandizement. Selling a school’s soul in the process was an unfortunate but necessary side effect. Nah, these fuckers aren’t that engaged with the world. They don’t think that deeply. It doesn’t occur to them that there’s anything such Faustian bargain to be made or refused. They can’t imagine a world in which whoring an entire school out to the nearest shithead with more money than class, over whatever objections the scrupulous voice, isn’t worthy and respectable. They want to be quality, so they’re just trying to surround themselves with quality. This isn’t a detestable game whose players they still love; they’re obsessed with the game itself because it’s structured for them to win it.

These fuckwads may be the most glaring single source of conflict in academia, especially at schools that aren’t athletic powerhouses. The grope and the perv of our Lord’s Servant Gerald be with you always. They bring the cult bullshit to the table. There are other students who come to college to study, to discover existential truths, to learn trades or professions, to prepare themselves for graduate or professional school, to eat drink and be merry, to get laid, to find spouses (Grove City is really out front with the promises of sex), or to schmooze. These constituencies can produce clashes between philistines, academic purists, and revealed Thaddeus Russell acolytes, but they aren’t directly at cross purposes and, absent powerfully inflammatory influences, can often reach some accommodation or even cultural synergy. The hardcore social climbers are the ones who charge in and fuck up whatever everyone else has been pursuing or achieving. They’re the ones who turn everything into a do-or-die zero-sum competition that they’re hellbent on winning, no matter what it takes and whom it destroys. An obsession with athletic supremacy can do the trick (the Ivy League is an athletic conference, and again, the grope and the perv….); if that doesn’t seem appropriate, an obsession with academic supremacy, as determined by meaningless, intellectually embarrassing proclamations of supremacy, is the way to go.

Hence Chelsea again. The point of her attendance at Stanford wasn’t to develop the clarity and vigor of mind to distinguish herself from a BA in communications from Shippensburg; it was to demonstrate that she is of the class that goes to Stanford, the class to which everyone else must listen and defer.

Oleander, growing outside her door; throw her into the damn river and see where she washes up. Now that’s an Outward Bound curriculum that I’ll endorse. The breakfast garbage that they throw out in Troy might contain something that’s still worth fishing out, which is more than I can say about the Clintons. They’re the last ones to play by the rules they impose on the rest of us, or to have any decorum. As Anthony Scaramucci might say, Hillary and Chelsea are obsessed with licking their own twats while *Colin Powell, ever the officer and gentleman* Bill is up in Chappaqua, dicking bimbos. The Big Dog doesn’t have the rhetorical polish that he once had; he and Hillary are still having that conversation, including the parts about how she is this close to throwing this lamp at him again if he keeps cheating on her.

Yes, we’ve reached the point at which Steve Bannon is one of the classier and better put-together ones. I assume the Mooch was annoyed with him for talking to bullshitters about real policy that they couldn’t particularly follow. He’s been memed as the Sheriff of Sucking My Own Cock, but he has nothing on Chelsea Clinton as the Headmistress of Eating My Own Box. Like dogs, politicians do these things because they can.

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.