Shitty Holden Caulfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lazarus, what’s your twenty?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The awful pain of giving a shit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sure, Americans won’t do menial labor, if by “Americans” you mean the Real Housewives of Conshohocken

Today is a beach day. I feel terrible about playing hooky in Newport on what should be a workday, but no more terrible than Mother-in-Law should feel about her noontime lashing out yesterday. It is not my place to know today how or what she feels in the aftermath of that dumpster fire, since it is not Newport. Newport itself is problematic (tourism), but eh.

I’ve scavenged some cans already, so today actually is a workday, as I really should keep reminding myself. Just because it doesn’t involve Mother-in-Law, Travis Kalanick, and/or enough money at once for a tall Pike doesn’t mean that it isn’t work. It isn’t a side hustle; it’s a roadside hustle. I mostly found safe places to pull over along the old highway out by Nashville (not THAT one, for better and worse) and clean up after the rainforest rednecks on the state’s dime. I also found a hearty junkie bottle, a one-liter plastic Pepsi bottle that at once relieved and horrified me when I discovered that it was full not of used cigarette butts but used syringes. This is another point at which I lube up, bend over, and softly moan, haidt-fuck me now, Ghomeshi. It may not be a comprehensive morality of disgust, but it is disgust. Take me down to the VFW hall to make my #MillennialPledge and let me TELL you about my trauma.

I feel bad about forsaking my plants so early in the season. Some of them are as fruitful as an Elton John concert for the Queen’s household staff. That said, we’ve been over, and over, why I had to ghost that hot mess of an operation. Free markets don’t work when one party isn’t free. The labor supply at that berry farm is tacitly based on the restricted liberty of its labor pool. I wasn’t even on course to quit working there just because the Ditzney Princess demonstrated all the socialization of a poorly behaved five-year-old. That much was tolerable. Our off-the-clock hypomanic Socratic Method continuing lecture series and involuntary fruit tasting was not. The former, I suspect, contributed to the latter, but Daughter-in-Law wouldn’t have been excited to that quantum of collective punishment by a single, individually manageable brat.

How this will ultimately be resolved is yet to be seen. It is very much a social crisis, and another tricky day for me. Bish be cray, dawg; bish be wack. My then-colleague’s comment two years ago about MiL being bipolar is harder and harder to dispute as MiL’s pattern of wiggity-wack recurs season after season. Her outbursts at staff are the kind of thing I fear myself doing in my worst nightmares in some moment when I could really use some Ativan. Sometimes I wonder if I haven’t actually gone there. As far as I can tell, I’ve never gone flying at others from a position of authority, although I had some episodes, mainly in high school and early in college, that in retrospect look like legit 420 Club aviation. The advisability of my parents taking all of us on vacation in Scandinavia was debatable, but their taking along a coat for me over my objections when we went out on an all-day excursion out of Bergen including a fjord cruise was not.

This shit that MiL pulls looks all too familiar. It’s exactly why I stopped taking Adderall against my psychologist’s advice and, if I recall correctly, didn’t see him again. That shit had me throwing a rubber ball repeatedly at my bedroom ceiling, thinking that eleven at night was a perfect time for an eight-mile hike through the State Game Lands over the neighborhood ridge without drinking water, and then breaking down in tears without warning in front of my parents.

Uncorking the Id in front of subordinates seems like a more distant, more alarming frontier, but mental illness operates as a series of variations on prevailing cultural themes, and a key cultural theme for the In-Laws is their own virtue as small-town small business owners. Give MiL a bit of mad zoom-zoom and she’ll weaponize that shit against us.

This is not just a mental health problem. Mixups in my Mind and Psychotarp have never gotten hostile with me. The hostility that they’ve shown towards others in states of extreme psychotic agitation is comparable to, if a bit more extreme than, the hostility Mother-in-Law has shown her employees in a state of usually mild manic-depressive illness. I’ve had truly debilitating depressive and hypomanic episodes in the past, and MiL’s demeanor in the midst of her tirades has usually looked higher-functioning than that, although not fully functioning. I made it through entire shifts at Hersheypark without anyone asking me if anything was wrong in the midst of depressive episodes that had me feeling much worse than MiL looked during her tirade yesterday.

That wasn’t the High Noon of the Long Pick, although fortunately/unfortunately, unfortunately, the High Noon of the Long Pick was. I know, Wow Much descriptive Many repetition Very annoy. The cultural context of MiL’s tirades is ultimately more troubling and inexcusable than her merely being bipolar. There should be automatic negative cultural feedbacks on that kind of shit. Like, what the hell was the other woman thinking yesterday, the market saleswoman whom MiL weaponized for her tirade against us? Could she really not tell that there was something inappropriate about it? Did she really consider that kind of formalized verbal abuse appropriate?

I’m afraid she did. She looked too calm and emotionally stable not to be culpable. An ethically engaged person who gets roped into that sort of scheme is taken aback. It occurs to me that the saleswoman may have been a bit on the simple side, but where the hell were the cultural prompts that should have raised the alarm about her being used by an emotionally volatile employer who was yelling at a bunch of mostly minor employees under her authority to make a point about what useless, wasteful incompetents we all were? That should be simple enough to register with the simple. Business owners waiving the ethics for their own benefit and talking self-serving stories on the fly about why that’s all cool might explain why it did not.

This whole situation provides its own gaslighting. The only possible master manipulator who was party to the lecture yesterday was the saleswoman, and I say this only because I didn’t get a good enough read of her to say conclusively that she wasn’t manipulating us. Walking off the job violates the Protestant Work Ethic. So does berating one’s employees so that they’re unable to work without defying one’s direct orders to take abuse until one tires of offering it, but we aren’t trained, as Americans, to flip this script. As a fruitboy, I feel most called to work during the summer, because that’s when there’s the serious fruit, but it was never being a fruit grower that catalyzed Mother-in-Law’s workplace harassment of her employees from a position of authority.

That’s the fault of our broader business culture, especially its downhome country-ass versions. I’m afraid that I’ll have to explain, or make an attorney the channel of my piss to explain, to one or more of my employers that they and I are adverse parties. We’re really close to that happening already. If it does, it will be thanks to all the self-justifying fuckheads in business, large and especially small, who go around pretending that we’re all just country friends with little misunderstandings and there’s no such thing as a labor dispute in the Heartland. We’re also close to the point at which my bosses, especially MiL, will blurt out some bullshit about how my standing up to them is moral hazard for their younger employees, since it isn’t one of the lessons that they’re trying to teach their employees about work and life. Of course it isn’t; one of MiL’s lessons is that it’s okay to call a thirteen-year-old employee’s home phone at 8:30 pm and spend half an hour straight berating him about his poor performance. That’s pretty close to an inspiration to a child’s parents, helicopter or not, to consider that the police maintain night watches as well as day watches and to place a call of their own to the nearest patrol desk.

MiL knows better than to do that to me, or so I sense, but she should know better than to ever do that to any of her employees.

One takeaway (*John Hockenberry voice* I have no idea what the fuck any of this is) is that professional boundaries are whatever the boss says they are. Another is that professional boundaries are whatever the employee says they are. If I don’t define the limits of acceptable workplace culture, people like Mother-in-Law will. The Ditzney Princess won’t set any such limits because she’s the dutiful child of pants-shittingly timid authoritarian parents, but family considerations apparently set limits of their own on MiL, who turns around and flings the shit at all of us. Hence my day trip to Nye Beach. I don’t even find a parking space before I’m overwhelmed by a sense of dread at being surrounded by a shiftless, purposeless hellscape of the deracinated and the lost, but no one’s harassing me, so there’s that. The surf is pretty fucking boring today and I wouldn’t mind some more clouds and some fog, but whatever. The bottle junkies out by Nashville had an idea for combating that anomie, even if they criminally wasted a fine pop bottle, aggrieving the heart of Chaka Can. They’re probably all like, dude, you may think that’s worth something, but you don’t do drugs. It isn’t worth the risk of HIV or Hepatitis, but at the same time, a look inside merely made me cringe, not lay eyes of a lake of butts and chaw juice and fight back a rising tide of vomit. So, as Ali G. would say, RESPEK.

I’m a seaside wastrel today. So, according to Marco Werman’s peeps, are the Americans who won’t stop skipping their jobs at the fudge shops on Martha’s Vineyard to go lay out and do other cool Vineyard Vines shit. Hint: you’re getting a clue, too, (ooh!) about why the local Yanks aren’t so much interested in doing menial labor at a fudge shop. The local culture is not ordered to such callings to service. As with our surnameless old boy Lloyd up in more Millingtonian climes, who never had any interested in settling somewhere so damn cold, the cool change Massholes need Jamaicans to staff their fudge shops. As a restaurateur (restaurateuse?) with a noticeably Mayhewish accent helpfully informed America’s listening public, they’re also the maids who go missing whenever the H-1B visas are not forthcoming, leading to much island gossip among the local non-color about the absence of the non-local color, also described without surnames, and the ramifications for the local economy, like being le sad that one must either clean one’s own bedroom or risk letting it start looking like the interior of my Focus.

Listening to this story, I was taken aback but not really surprised. The utter lack of self-awareness was to be expected. The Onion was right about the inner-city murders that left three families maidless. I am reminded of the parable of the workers in the fudgeyard. *Prime Minister’s Question from the Member for St. Thomas incoming* I think I understand your teaching, but do tell, teacher, what is “fudge?” #TeshTips: Out in Provincetown, they’ll gladly pack it for you, too. Fudge shops are a really credible keystone for a local economy for anyone who’s that gullible and retarded, but don’t forget, we’re talking about NPR listeners here. It would be a hard teaching to remind them that there’s still a decent union presence in the grocery industry, hence many American lifers at the register, and to take their white asses to Hannaford to buy the raw ingredients to make their own damn fudge.

This dumbass, dismayingly earnest White Whine wasn’t necessarily about Americans being unwilling to hold down menial jobs. It was more believably about Americans being unwilling to hold down poorly paid menial jobs waiting hand and foot on yacht wastrels who fuck around in the migratory presence of the Clintons. Working in a fudge shop on Martha’s Vineyard isn’t just another underwhelming retail job; it’s an underwhelming retail job catering to the overwhelmingly affluent, a service-industry (lol) job on the Vineyard requiring a scrupulous work ethic to make possible the ostentatious public masturbation of the sorts of people who live on the Vineyard. If I ever visit, I’ll end up wandering around muttering to myself about how appalling it is that they don’t even grow any Pinot Noir or Concord and what a damn waste of a vineyard that is.

It figures that they need noncitizens to take these jobs. Americans would ask for things like days off. Americans might accuse their bosses of talking like Mary Mayhew. Those from Wicked South and other points wicked north would notice. Americans would not particularly enjoy the social arrangement of busting ass all summer for rich fucks who devote their own summers to being absolutely useless. They’d risk being all like, bitch you sound like you’re running for Maine HHS commissioner, why the fuck are you acting like some Mexican gardener and short-order cook is your friend.

As Teddy Kennedy always said, it’s time for a cool change. Ride the Ducks! Few have ever hit the surf like Senator Splish-Splash, the premier honorary Point Loma Sea Lion, but many have aped that fine-ass Kennedy style and pretended that nothing much went down at Chappaquiddick. What’s-her-name wasn’t one of us, you see. (I’d look her up, but I’m already Very Online today, and it’s more than enough.)

I don’t personally know many Masshole seaboarders, but I know plenty of Philadelphia shore wankers, and they aren’t too reputable themselves. ISB and ISBF come to mind. ISB has a shore house, invitations to which he uses to induce the Insurance Schmuck’s ex- and future girlfriend to serve as an unpaid lady-in-waiting to his fiancee. I was just about to say that I at least get paid to listen to Mother-in-Law’s tirades, but then I remembered yesterday. Wow None lucid Much details Very confuse.

I keep hearing about how hard ISB and everyone in that office works, how they all have such strong work ethics, but when Philadelphians go to Sea Isle City or Avalon or wherever the hell ISB has his Shore pad, because he’s too classy for Wildwood and way too good for AC, that ain’t a work ethic; that’s a beach ethic. Brenda Jorett apparently saw no inconsistency in posting photos of herself lounging around on a folding chair down the Shore and scolding young’uns for not having a work ethic. Pick fruit, Jorett.

Seriously, there is something really bizarre, surreal even, about people who dick around on the beach during the summer even insinuating that I, a commercial fruit picker, am maybe kind of lazy. You gotta be shitting me. Cracka you clownin’? I do more tangibly productive physical work for a shabby partial living in a day out in the fields than anyone in the sales offices at New Amsterdam Death does for a living. (The Insurance Schmuck, and probably also ISB and ISBF, for that matter are probably thinking, okay, I get the death part, but what does this have to do with Amsterdam?) (On second thought, definitely ISBF.) Fuck, I did more physical work for a living picking up cans off the roadside this morning than I’ve heard of ISB and ISBF doing as adults. The Insurance Schmuck at least did some real work managing pools, which gave me an opportunity to show him how to hammer a nail into concrete so that maybe the railing wouldn’t fall over into the pool. He’d have a decent chance of getting hired as an ocean lifeguard, but I don’t see him looking for any sort of work that wouldn’t keep his hands soft.

This is the crowd that most strongly suggests that I’m some kind of trust fund wastrel. The Dunkin’ Doorman didn’t question my work ethic and professional capabilities. He didn’t reciprocate my strong online accusations that he’s a lazy, pain-in-the-ass bum and coffeeshop troll. If I know anyone who deserves a shore house, it’s him. He might not make much use of it if it didn’t include a Dunkin’ franchise whose customers he could pester (I get the feeling that the Dunkin’ Donuts shortage keeps him off the beach in good weather, too, since he runs on people who run on Dunkin’), or he might charge random people admission to hang out on his property, payable in cash money or coffee. That would be no more corrupt and much more honest than ISB’s shore-whoring. I swear, he’s like an apparatchik straight out of the Brezhnev Politburo, getting social climbers to do him favors off the clock as a way of making sure they’re allowed to come hang out at his dacha over the summer and get classily blitzed.

The idea of either ISB or ISBF considering themselves superior to me, especially so in times when I do not have enough of my parents’ money at my disposal to invest with them as a proper high net worth individual, is absurd. ISB seduced ISBF by going around acting like a modern Midas. That was generally how it looked when I first met them, and the Insurance Schmuck has given me dispositive details about them, notably including the $14,000 watch. That crazy bitch owns a watch worth damn near twice what I paid for my Focus. If my parents let me take over my mom’s old Civic for my own use back east, as my dad has been considering, ISBF’s bling-ass watch will be worth more than both of my cars combined. She’s also got $20,000 in outstanding credit card debt, down from $30k since she moved in with ISB, which ISB frets isn’t enough financial responsibility. Yeah, but you know something, buddy? She didn’t take up with you because she’s financially responsible. This dense bastard wonders why his fiancee is such an all-around high-maintenance spendthrift, but he can’t imagine that it has anything to do with his bragging about his own bitchin’ rides. Now he’s shacked up with Rolex Marie Antoinette, she’s getting riled up to the point of occasional domestic battery, the Insurance Schmuck is admitting as much to me in reluctant, hushed tones, and ISB is wondering why this crazy woman whose hand he’s preparing to take in marriage isn’t a model of financial prudence and a fit Christian helpmeet. Yeah, maybe it’s because he wasn’t advertising for anything of the sort.

By the way, this balls-to-the-wall, sleep-deprived nutcase has named his fiancee as a policy issuer and taken her along to business meetings where she has alienated clients to the point of reneging on agreements that they were on the verge of contractually signing. ISBF is New Amsterdam Death’s equivalent to the Ditzney Princess. (I initially wrote that as “Amsterdamn.” Hmm.) Since we’re talking about an affluent part of Philadelphia, not a poor part of rural Oregon, she’s a Borderline wacko who looks like she might end up featuring in a Dateline NBC murder special, not a religiously preoccupied spergchild, but it’s mainly a different kind of shitty.

Think about doing concerted farm work and having to deal with any of these people. Imagine being hardy and grown-up enough to pick fruit several hours a day and then being confronted by the moral superiority complexes of a thirteen-going-on-four dipshit who reads Christian fairy tale fantasy literature, thinking that there is such a thing; a flashy spendthrift insurance sales poobah who totally knows that he earned his shore house by his own hard work and deserves it, and who, like Donald Trump, may or may not have a positive net worth; that guy’s reality television-ready girlfriend, whose net worth is predictably negative and who doesn’t have any identifiable professional skills, to be construed however salaciously you wish; and a farm owner-operator who repeatedly pisses off her own workers by yelling at them about how useless they are but still fails to send the fantasy dipshit home to resume her studies of John 3:16-compliant treatments of Beauty and the Beast. 

Is the Dunkin’ Doorman even low-functioning compared to any of these? He seems more mentally stable than three of the four and at least as well socialized as the fourth. His fantasy is that I’ll buy him a coffee. He doesn’t play a productive role in the game of life, but neither do ISBF or, to be just a wee bit uncharitable, the Ditzney Princess, and ISB, the host with the most, makes a fair amount of his money by skimming from the junior salesmen, Amway-style. We’re left with one productive person among the four, and she gets upset and makes us stop doing work for her so that we can taste the sour fruits of our own labor, in a lame, bathetic foreshadowing of hell.

As the racist 4-F from two years ago was told by the gay-for-pay who sucked his fellow off under the bleachers at the high school, “I’m not gay, but twenty dollars is twenty dollars.” According to television, that’s what it costs in Over-the-Rhine, too, if you don’t mind that’s she’s built like a German brick shithouse. It’s much like I say about bottles: $1.20 is $1.20. I didn’t even keep track of what all I collected today, but that’s a rough idea. I’d rather be picking fruit, since I’m not just in it for the money, but we’ve already discussed where that’s led. The 4-F fucker was safer for work than Mother-in-Law. It was mostly because the rest of us could tell him to shut up. Also, he seemed worse at the time because none of us had the Ditzney Princess around for comparison.

I’ve done worse for $20. No, that isn’t quite right. I’ve made $20 in a day, or less, and then been hit with something intolerably awful that stopped me from making another $20 at once because I never run into such a glorious fucking pile of deposit bottles. We can’t say that dealing with MiL was degrading like prostitution, because the idea of prostitution is that the prostitute gets paid for putting up with whatever her job involves. #NeverForget: none of us was paid or will be paid for putting up with MiL’s tirade yesterday, or with most of her other tirades. That wasn’t like the junkie bottle on the old highway near Nashville, either, because I’ve only come across one junkie bottle and no one forced me to look at it.

The Dunkin’ Doorman and I are both trying, separately (and let us rejoice and be glad for that), to maintain some kind of faint yeoman spirit. He seems to earn more than I do, if what he does can be described as earning anything. I used to consider him a moral inferior, but then I started comparing him to other people in my professional and quasi-professional life. He doesn’t give a shit what I think about him; if he thinks less of me, it’s just because I didn’t buy him a damn coffee when he pointed out that I’d dropped a ten spot on the floor. He doesn’t regard me as another person called to take part in his personal public relations campaign by mere virtue of my being involved in his life. He doesn’t want a cut of my parents’ estate when they die; he merely wants a cut of my pocket money now, and yours if you happen to be in the neighborhood. Beautiful day, yes? Yes, a beautiful fucking day. Mr. Rogers, pray for us. Nor is he the yelling kind.

Yes, that fucker is still a huge pain in the ass, but as they say about sex in Maine, these things are all relative. He understands freedom and cherishes it above rubies. ISB and the Insurance Schmuck are obviously more hostile to my freedom of speech. Mother-in-Law is hostile to the freedom in general of her employees. For her, freedom’s just another word for oh shit I may lose pickers again. I had nothing to lose but the $24 a day I earned on my best day this season. Well, that and the intangible shit having to do with not being unemployed and adrift and unproductive. But if the Insurance Schmuck and his colleagues valued productivity, they wouldn’t be working, as they like to call what they do, in insurance. What they really value is being able to show off their own affluence. The losers who hang out all day on the downtown Eugene plaza are in it for the money, too, but they’re satisfied with rather less money.

I don’t want to work, but when I do, I prefer to bang on the drum all day. Don’t talk back to me (or to anyone else who actually doesn’t mind being a lazy bum all summer long, since unemployment has a way of getting me distraught) from a damn beach unless you’re there to eat a washed-up shark’s corpse for dinner with a Bowie knife. That’s a legitimate seaside folkway. I might be young, but I ain’t stupid enough to think that you don’t need a harbor to go fishing in a way that won’t get you shut down by the health department, or to think that Meghan Trainor is anywhere near the most obnoxious thing to come out of Massachusetts in my lifetime.

An inspiration to Maoism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doing something right for a change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come around and talk that over.

The bear ate my homework

It should be axiomatic by now that the grand Russia conspiracy theory is a clumsy psyop against the American public, but this is the Democratic Party in the time of the Clintons, so should hasn’t got a thing to do with any of it. The Clintons have never been ones to accept responsibility for things that they can blame on someone else, and they’re getting worse with age. At the same time, they’re entrenching themselves as pillars of the political establishment, where before they were McDreamy the Lace Curtain Trailer Arkie and his rather frighteningly icy shrew of a perennially scorned wife. A hundred million dollars plus of baksheesh plus whatever hits the Clintons did or did not order on their political opponents can do that for a power couple, and we know that they’re capable of politically strategic homicide because Bill didn’t give their political opponent Ricky Ray Rector the opportunity to have dessert.

The Russia thing is pure Clintonworld agitprop. Shattered reports that the Clinton team settled on the Kremlin scapegoating campaign within 24 hours of the Queen’s loss to the Donald. The public bearbaiting certainly hit a fever pitch out of nowhere in a hurry after the election, and the Cathedral hasn’t piped down about it since. Mencius Moldbug is a bit eccentric and maybe goofy, but he seems spot on about the existence of an elaborate insiders’ conspiracy under the auspices of self-dealing institutions and the direction of a malign clerisy. This conspiratorial explanation makes a hell of a lot more sense than the coincidental alignment of a fiercely independent press with the entire Clinton agenda, kooky geopolitical grievances and all. Contra Moldbug, perhaps, this conspiracy may be less a megalomaniacal social engineering project than a function of the Clinton machine’s Ephesians 3:20 disbursements of cash, exposure, and collateral contracts to its legions of camp followers, allowing C. S. Lewis’s robber barons to rape us a bit more softly than his moral busybodies would, or perhaps to kill us not quite as softly as he did with his song. That was wrong, but so is Hillary Clinton being the successful fugeetive from justice and Danbury that Lauryn Hill was not.

You only thought this story was going to get better. Of course it didn’t; it’s still about Billary, and their Infernoesque concentric hell on earth of sycophants, mercenaries, and similar trash is still all about Russia. The Russia conspiracy theory isn’t even fun. The US government using secret bases around Roswell to house its very illegal aliens? That’s fun. Hitting Century Boulevard with the Inglewood mental health community for a conversation about planes that may not actually be on approach to LAX because, well, do we really know that, now? That’s definitely fun. The Russia thing? That’s just tiresome. It’s a constant, self-serious lecture about breaches of propriety from the lying mouths of people who actually have none themselves and are cravenly smearing an agreed-upon scapegoat as a distraction from their own monumental political incompetence. People who are actually crazy can be great entertainment, but the bearbaiters are really just lying sacks of shit who won’t stop bothering us with their endlessly repetitive, ever more mindnumbing lies.

Even if they start to believe their own bullshit, they still lack the polish of the properly crazy. They’re aren’t wandering around a light rail station yelling about dirty-ass motherfuckers who can’t wipe their own asses; they aren’t that novel, or that eloquent. Or so honest, but that much should go without saying. That’s a true story, regardless of whether homegirl is lucid enough to correctly identify the motherfuckers in question or the dates, times, places, or forms of their filth. Her other story, about niggas and prison, was also true, if mangled. I didn’t catch all the details of that one, except to ascertain that they were all over the place, but as the internet autists have taken to saying, there are many such cases.

The Russia stuff didn’t happen. Most of it is as nonfictional as Harry Potter. That’s another story that Democrats have come to enjoy far too enthusiastically, too, less as an opportunity for finite literary escapism than as a biography of what their own lives should be and would be if it weren’t for, oh, Donny Pisspotter and the Kremlin School of Wizardry. Russia didn’t hack US voting systems. Russia didn’t unleash targeted mind control operations against US citizens to compel them to vote for a man they otherwise would have abhorred. Russian agents and assets did cultivate business and political relationships with US counterparts, some of these relationships being unseemly, but so do the agents and assets of every other fucking country on the face of the earth that has more sovereign wherewithal than Somalia or Yemen. Not to put too fine a point on it, Russia dindu nuffin. Big Bear Man dindu nundat, comrade.

The omissions from the Russia conspiracy theory are damning. It’s nothing but shamelessly selective outrage. Michael Flynn may be something of a crook who wheels and deals with foreign unsavories, but there would be nothing unusual about that for a retired flag officer in the US armed forces, or a serving flag officer for that matter. Regardless of what else is objectionable about him, he didn’t set a precedent for dubious foreign entanglements on the part of the officer corps in the time of Fat Leonard. Where do these fuckers live? Mars? Shit, the entire US military is formally entangled with unsavory foreign governments, some of them blatantly hostile to the United States. We’ve got our national panties in a bunch over rumors and feverish inferences that a salty dog general was party to a handful of backchannel communications with Kremlin counterparts in the course of helping set up an administrative apparatus for a first-time president-elect from scratch, and meanwhile we give Saudi Arabia a pass for allowing no less than its midlevel officials to fund and orchestrate 9/11. This is because Saudi is our ally. That’s what allies do for each other: hire suicidal psychopaths to hijack one another’s commercial aircraft and fly them into office buildings on weekday mornings for maximum casualties. Duh. Note, too, that the smearing of Flynn as an international crook worthy of the Logan Act is coming from partisans of–who else?–the Clintons, lately of the Foundation and the Global Initiative, formerly of the Lincoln Bedroom. What crooked foreign government have those two not conspired to gladhand for bribes?

Hostile governments, by contrast, promptly cable the FBI when they have surveilled a US resident associating with known radicals back in the, back in the USSR and have reason to believe that he may be planning bad acts on US soil. The Tsarnaev clusterfuck sure makes the FSB look more concerned than the FBI about public safety in the United States. Put yourself in the shoes of a mythical FSB agent who wishes the United States and its residents harm. You just watched some shithead with a Green Card come back to Mother Russia and yuk it up with a bunch of beards whom you’ve had under surveillance for being involved in a religiously inspired conspiracy to commit secessionist political violence against your country. If you let the shithead go back to the United States unmolested, he’ll be in place to take out his rage on his adopted land and people. If you alert the US authorities, they may decide to yank his Green Card and send him back to Russia, his country of origin, where he’ll become your problem until he finds some other country to take him in. If he doesn’t find a third country to bother, this will turn him into a permanent liability for Russia.

Do you tell the Americans about the Conclave of the Caucasians? Of course not. You let the shithead take his Green Card back to the United States whenever he gets bored with his communion with his old crowd and revert to being a threat to the US’s public safety, not Russia’s. Unless you care about the safety of Americans, that is, and can’t abide the thought of knowingly allowing a religious thug to hatch plots in his birth country and then abuse his immigration privileges to threaten the life and limb of his neighbors in his adopted country. In that case, you alert the G-Men to the Caucus of the Caucasus and encourage them to keep an eye on the creep.

No, I’m not kidding. The FSB, the KGB’s direct successor, was a more credible protector of US public safety in this case than the FBI. The FSB is the agency that took Tamerlan Tsarnaev seriously and sounded the alarm. Of all the Muslims the FBI has surveilled, often without cause, and of all the Muslims its informants have baited and goaded into half-cocked terrorist plots (“Hey man, wanna do some jihad?”  “I dunno, I think I’d rather play some more GTA, but if you really want, yeah, I guess we can do some jihad.”), why the hell couldn’t it put a surveillance team on Tsarnaev, keep an eye on his contacts, tap his phones, and figure out that he was building a fucking bomb and planning to use it? How the fuck is this the one bomb plotter they managed to miss after they were specifically and directly warned about him by a foreign intelligence service? Even if they suspected that the FSB had gotten a false positive, they could have quietly kept an eye on him, just to see if anything was up. They could have checked with local police agencies around Boston to see if they had any intelligence on him. Dude had all the peaceable nature and ethnic goodwill of a young Mark Wahlberg, the Russians were rattled enough about him to reach out, and he’s the one bad motherfucker the combined forces of the FBI and the sworn Southie Irish could neither catch doing bomb stuff nor take down in a meathead’s honeypot? Ooh, I’m getting a raging clue! I think I’m gonna shoot clue goo all over Uncle Joe!

Ah, Maahky Maahk. The basteahd put a guy’s eye oot in a bah fight, but now he’s up theah on the silvah screen, playing a steyahff seahgeant.

Of course these assholes would rather turn the rumor mill against Russia than blame the FBI for getting three people killed and dozens of others liberated of their legs by dropping the ball on a thug the FSB had specifically told them to monitor. Look at how they’re suddenly rehabilitating Jim Comey, all because that oaf fired him and then ran his mouth again.

John Kerry didn’t act anything like this after he lost his own run for the presidency. I wasn’t gung-ho enough to knock on doors for more than a few minutes, but I was gung-ho enough to help man the Kerry-Edwards table at the fairgrounds in a two-thirds Republican county and field rhetorical questions from hostile ammosexuals. When Long Face lost, he was enough of a statesman and a class act to accept defeat graciously and honorably, without running around stirring up a moral panic against a foreign folk devil. There’s been nothing like 2016 (and now 2017, because we’re a wicked people deserving of our punishment, or else horribly unlucky) to bring into contrast just how classy that Masshole was, as a contender and then as a loser. He coulda been one, Brando. Okay, maybe he couldn’ta. He was a weak candidate and a terrible communicator going up against a deceptively skilled communicator who was backed by the mother of all political war machines, but he didn’t make an ass of himself when his Quixotic run flopped in the end.

The grievances about bad processes back then were credible, or at least plausible, mostly having to do with Republican electoral skulduggery, which had a blatant precedent in Florida in 2000. Hence my beloved bumper sticker with a solid blue map of Florida and the caption, “Electile Dysfunction.” I knew conservatives who quite enjoyed it, too. But that was under the leadership of a failed presidential candidate who had some fucking scruples and self-respect and respect for the electorate that had declined to elect him. It wasn’t a simpler time, but it was, at least in this narrow respect, a much less disgusting one.

What we’re hearing now amounts to omg MedvedKekKek1488 called me a cunt and posted some Pepe memes over on Reddit. We’re hearing shock and outrage that the Kremlin hired some internet trolls (which the Pentagon would never do) and bought some PR in US news outlets (which the Pentagon would never do). I couldn’t even get anyone to call me a faggot when I jumped into a raging flame war over Donald Trump on the KMTR Facebook page and noted that Kwesi Millington for President would have been an improvement over that thread (“As they say, he’s electrifying”), so I’m not sure how ubiquitous this Russian troll army was, especially relative to the total numbers of the creepy sockpuppets who keep getting caught using DoD IP addresses to threadjack alternative blogs with utterly retarded drivel.

The Russia thing presumes that voters en masse disregarded everything that they were able to personally observe about their own circumstances and the condition of their lives and everything that they could discern about the candidates for the presidency from countless sources, formal and informal alike, because they had been brainwashed by a almost amateurish Kremlin international mind control operation. The brainwashing aspect of this conspiracy theory is mostly projection; it takes a brainwasher to hallucinate a brainwasher, and the mainstream media constitute most of the ministry of information of Brain Washington. I’m with Sarah Palin on this much: it is in fact a lamestream media, although in the strict sense of the term, the mainstream media are PC Principal-juiced to the lame, dumb ass of TIMMMEHHH, and that’s why they’re dangerous. Objectively, the horseshit about Russia should be too lame to go anywhere, but it’s been propagated among the intelligentsia and wannabe intelligentsia with incredible success.

As someone who has watched otherwise engaged, critically thinking loved ones fall for this horseshit just because it bears the imprimatur of Serious News Organizations and act like I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid for not putting credence in it, I resent this propaganda campaign more deeply than I can describe. Everyone responsible for it should be ashamed to hell, but I know better than to think that that crowd is capable of healthy emotional feedback; it wouldn’t be able to turn its tricks at work if it were. Think “trick” more as in “Tricky Dick” and less as in “thicky trick.” To paraphrase no less than Peace at the Center himself, people have, uh, uh, uh, whores, but some have better classes of whores and don’t glorify it on public television and so forth and so on.

It stands to reason that the Harry Potter set would project credence before the most ridiculous alt-factual propaganda onto its opposition and accuse the latter’s voters of rolling in the deep in a political fantasia. People who cast themselves in their own meritocratic wizard fan fiction wouldn’t be ones to credit a television oaf’s downmarket voters with any rational reason for derailing the ambitions of their yuppie queen. Again, this is not a fun kind of crazy like smashed in his knees with a two-by-four, smashed in his knees with a sledge HAMMER! That’s fun–from a distance, at which God may not be watching us, but at which I most certainly am keeping an eye on the poor man’s Peter Gabriel, as one does who treasures his own kneecaps. You, too, could have a speed train, but not at Market East, cracka. The Harry Potter stuff is just a bunch of self-important assholes who are obsessed with overrated children’s literature because they have yet to mature to Tom Wolfe and show no signs of doing so in this lifetime. Meanwhile they’re pointing and sneering at factory workers, miners, truckers, and farmers, accusing them of being out-of-touch juvenile losers for holding down real jobs.

If the 2016 election had been decided on the conscious, explicit basis of how voters felt about a Democratic Party whose most catered-to constituencies form their politics and their aspirations around bumptious fantasy fiction (including their beloved alt-presidential Bartlett bullshit, too), Trump would have clobbered the bejeezus out of Clinton in a 400-vote electoral sweep that would have spared him the need to indulge in Kobach-compliant White Whines about how Democratic electoral fraud was the only reason he lost the national popular vote. It’s a testament to the graciousness, pragmatism, and openmindedness of the American electorate that anything close to a national plurality of voters was willing to vote for a ticket burdened by all the shitty cultural baggage of the credentialed high end of the Democratic Party. It ain’t me, lawd, it ain’t me that did any of that, but it was quite a few others.

Hillary is the unlucky convict who managed to get shot, gassed, electrocuted, and hanged for the same crime, except that she did it to herself. The same thing is true of the Democratic Party for slashing and burning a path to put that cackling shitbeast on the top of its ticket and then dredging up an unctuous, swish neoliberal obscurity (who conveniently evoked thoughts of sexual weirdness, even among staunch Democrats) to run for veep, on the bizarre electoral logic that he’d bring enough of a home field advantage to carry Virginia. As I think it over, I’m almost certain that Hillary would have won the general election if she had chosen Bernie Sanders as her running mate. As her lieutenant, Bernie would have brought a huge (yuge!) amount of energy and credibility to Hillary’s campaign, enough to easily flip the rust belt in her favor. As a recently ratfucked surrogate trying to reunite the Democratic Party against an opponent whose sworn platform dovetailed significantly with his own, he had no such credibility. Plenty of voters who still admired him didn’t believe what he was saying about the party and the candidates it was now running in the aftermath of his defeat.

The reason Hillary didn’t choose Bernie as her running mate is the same reason why her campaign and the DNC ratfucked him: they all despised and distrusted him and did not want him in a position of influence. Their revealed preference was blatant and a lot cruder than they probably thought it looked. They were sheepdogging us, and enough of us knew it and resented it to sink her campaign in the end.

For a party that swore it needed all the solidarity it could get from points to the left, the Democrats have expended an awful lot of energy smearing Stein voters for ratfucking them. As if we give a shit. Do I really sound like I care that Jill Stein’s other voters were a bunch of anti-vaxxers and healing crystals dipshits? No, that isn’t quite right. Do I sound like I care that butthurt Democrats believe Stein’s constituency to be crunchy energy-field morons who cause measles outbreaks in Pacific Palisades because of some nonsense that they read about iatrogenic autism in Goop? Of course not. I’m not that fucking petty. The rest of her constituency could have been a total freak show and I still would have been, yes, #WithHer. As it happens, I don’t believe these broad-brush smears any more than I believe  broad-brush smears of Trump voters as a bunch of knuckledragging, hopelessly nostalgic bigots. Besides, as proud as I am to have contributed to a 5.5% county-level vote for Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, their national vote totals sucked. Sure, they were third-party dark horses, but even for an obscure third-party ticket they performed weakly.

There’s a strain of Democratic apologist that figures that, well, now, that’s a rather grandiose stance for a California voter to take towards a state-level race that Hillary Clinton didn’t have a chance of losing. Under this condescending gloss, it was acceptable for me to waste my ballot voting for a couple of hopeless fruitcakes because it was going to be canceled out by my mature fellow citizens, i.e., it didn’t make a difference. It did for getting the Green Party over 5% in Humboldt County, bitch, and as someone who likes the idea of a political movement that is on the left but not the fucking Democrats, I can stand by that vote. But what would I have done had I voted in a state that was up for grabs?

I probably would have voted for Trump.

Yes, you read that right. I can’t say so for sure, since I’d been seriously considering voting for California to MAGA, too, but it would have been a factor for me. “How can you POSSIBLY vote for that man?” rhetoric SHOULD backfire. Any candidate whose pitches boil down to a demand that all educated people show their cultural solidarity and intellectual self-respect by voting for her is morally bankrupt and politically weak. These are both things that a great many voters thought about Hillary in the first place, so the sheepdogging frenzy complemented quite nicely their fears of an overbearing, hostile clerisy taking over the Democratic Party against the wishes of its voters.

Republicans and independents had similar but starker reasons to be distrustful, insofar as they didn’t reluctantly regard Hillary as the closest thing to a Republican running in the general election. I have a Republican friend in suburban Philadelphia who voted for Clinton because he was horrified by Trump. Shortly after the convention, he told me, “My only hope at this point is that the Republican Party can rescind Trump’s nomination.” After the general election, he said, “I voted for Hillary and immediately felt bad afterwards.” I felt bad that this fellow, one of the most upstanding people I’ve ever known, couldn’t find anyone running for president to vote for who didn’t immediately fill him with a sense of regret and disquiet, but I can’t object to his discernment that he had to vote for what he considered the lesser of two evils, even a lesser evil whom he found appalling in her own right. Millions of American voters found themselves in a similar position last fall. Some find themselves there at every election. This friend of mine seems more willing to work within the two-party system than I am, or than many other voters are, for that matter, certainly including the tens of millions who are eligible but don’t turn out. Good God, Y’all/Absolutely Nothing is a popular third option, although not one that I can personally countenance supporting.

The friend I just described comes from exactly the constituency that Ed Rendell has said the Democratic Party can and should tap to balance out its losses in the rust belt. Think about that: a sleazy but frankly popular former mayor of Philadelphia and governor of Pennsylvania wants his party to assemble a new coalition from people who feel either no affiliation with his party or a traditional affiliation with its opposition and who feel like shit for having reluctantly voted for its headliner candidate. Can you see now how this party keeps losing elections?

I wonder whether Bernie Sanders isn’t just delineating the extent of the rot in order to have an irrefutable case ready when he finally sets up a third party, loosely resembling the early Republicans, as the new political home for the entire downmarket left and center. He’ll piss off a bunch of bougie Democrats if he turns out to have been on a surveying mission all along, but he’s already pissed them off; much of the hardcore Hillary wing is already apoplectic about what he’s done to their party (i.e., win back constituencies that FDR would have been horrified to accidentally alienate).

This is what Lambert Strether calls deploying the blame cannons. Clintonworld is itching to go full Bull Connor and the fire hose on a critical mass of its own base, which it also insists it needs to win over in order to take back Congress and a large minority of state governments. It’s message is basically, hell yes, we’re on your side, how can you possibly say otherwise, you miserable bastards. Whether the goal is really to win us back or punish us is hard to say, and beyond a certain point–say, the Bern Unit fielding Democratic candidates who aren’t greasy shitbirds–it becomes irrelevant. This is why Tom Perez is trying to ride Bernie’s coattails to something other than centrist welfare press obscurity. Shit. Shit. Shit. This is really impressive. The victorious faction is trying to draft up the hill behind the guy it just defeated. Wow Much pyrrhic Such bizarre None gracious Many hubristic Omg victor caldera Very confuse.

#TeshTips: Look up the second last part in full quotation marks. I was surprised to discover that there wasn’t just one of him. But at least I know when I’ve been watching too much television.

The Clinton team’s smears of swing voters are legendary by now, but they still bear recapitulation just to reiterate what an object lesson in political disaster the whole damn campaign was. There was the basket of deplorables fuckup, which was enough on its own to tip half a dozen states into the shitter. This comment was a gaffe in the truest sense, an indiscreet, politically incorrect confession of unspeakable personal feeling. Voters heard this and immediately knew that it was consistent with what they had feared about her ill will towards them. Clinton’s campaign, the sloppy, unfocused mess that it was, was unable to even start the damage repair that would have been necessary to recover from this scandal, and remember, at its head was a woman who valued repeat visits to Hamilton over first-time visits to Wisconsin.

It’s a major county in Ohio, too, you know. Or maybe you don’t. Clinton was famously touted as a policy wonk who had a masterful command of granular details about everything, for what good that did her in counties that she all but explicitly smeared as dens of reactionary hillbillies. This is another thing that’s alienating about all the wonks and avowedly educated poseurs who couldn’t imagine how Trump ever won the damn thing. They looked down on anyone whose gut feeling or anecdotal evidence said that Trump had a good chance of going the distance as an unqualified barstool bullshitter, in contrast to professionals like Nate Silver, who measure shit. Yeah, their own. The entire Democratic establishment amounts to grown children going, okay, is that a little poopy, or a big poopy, or maybe a medium-sized poopy, and meanwhile they somehow don’t notice that the baby hasn’t been fed or changed all day and the house is on fire. I fail to see what’s wrong with taking schadenfreude in the discovery that overeducated quants can be paid and celebrated for dissing observant, engaged private citizens as lunatics for arguing that the dark horse has a real chance and then, on election night, come away looking like idiots and sore losers. Baby, it’s three am, I must be ornery. That isn’t the only good feel I got on election night, but it is not one that I’m embarrassed to admit having indulged. Remember, that dork Silver still gets paid to look like an upstaged fool. Me, I ain’t never touched dem shine ricebowl; dat kine, it ain’t mine.

What’s worth looking at in a bit more detail is how badly Hillary misjudged the national mood with her yuppie feminist shtick. This turned out to be a monumental screwup. It wasn’t that the country was fundamentally unready for a female president. An environment of systemic misogyny wouldn’t have let Clinton anywhere close to the presidency, and the Clinton campaign made it impossible to isolate the variable of womanly leadership in general from the variables of I swear to God I hate that bitch and by the way that’s a crime family. A key Clinton strategy to was to conflate all of this and shame reluctant voters for not being ready to elect a woman to the presidency. The campaign explicitly ran on this theme with its famous #WithHer rhetoric, and it almost ran with the even more entitled “It’s Her Turn.” As I’ve said before, when that’s the kind of arrogant language that cooler heads have to veto, a campaign is fucked from the start. It’s like starting a golf game from a sand trap while hip-deep in a water hazard.

And it wasn’t just the arrogance or the entitlement. Hillary and her crew were mouthing off with this feminist shit in a time of enduring mass male unemployment, educational underachievement, incarceration, disenfranchisement, unhappy bachelorhood, involuntary celibacy, and general malaise. (Hey, Jimmeh.) If the campaign had actually paid attention to granular data, it would have understood the gist of this situation perfectly well and made an effort, as Bernie and Donald both did, to propose real solutions to the grievances of marginalized men. There wasn’t even any need to explicitly appeal to a sense of men’s welfare; speaking frankly and sincerely about the plight of marginalized working and unemployed people would have been enough.

Instead, Hillary lashed out at the alt-right, a movement that was oriented in large part towards explicit solutions for aggrieved men. This was part of a well-established pattern on the Clinton machine’s part of dealing with dissastisfied constituencies by telling them to quit their bitching, suck it up, and vote for Clinton. It successfully pissed off voters from across the political spectrum. Anyone familiar with the alt-right would have recognized that it was taking seriously some very serious objections that American (nay, Western) men had to the way they were being treated, men who had been left in the gutter by decades of hostile neoliberal policy. Instead of telling disadvantaged men and their loved ones what she was offering them, Hillary went up on stage with a script and bitched about Pepe. In other comments, she or her close surrogates complained to no end about BernieBros, basement dwellers, chicks who were on Bernie’s side only because they were trying to hook up with his misogynist bro followers, and other backwards reactionary elements that any good Maoist outfit would also denounce.

The really stupid thing about this strategy was the assumption that it would alienate only unemployed and menially employed white males. Cue endless carping about the white working class, if you can stomach more of it. This campaign could not fucking imagine that its smears of white working people would be taken personally by working people of other races or that its smears of marginalized, adrift men would be taken personally by those men’s loved ones or, for that matter, that its smears of entire American communities would be taken personally by anyone in a position to swing the election. Oh hai, Ohio.

Stunningly, Hillary and her campaign could not appreciate the optics of running a former first lady with a notorious lech of a husband as the human vanguard of careerist feminism. They couldn’t imagine that this would possibly look bad. In their world, you see, career women were respected, and Hillary was a career woman, not an obscure Ivy League lawyer and commodities inside trader who shrewdly married one of her country’s most preternaturally talented politicians. They were too myopic to appreciate the first two thirds of their candidate’s biography. They had a few million true believers in their orbit who believed this nonsense about Hillary being a model of womanly independence rather than a craven influence-peddler who had parlayed her cockhound husband’s juice into a carpetbag position in the US Senate. (*Very Tom Lehrer Voice* I’m from Massachusetts, and we feel a certain sense of superiority over the other states because Massachusetts is the only state with three senators.) Being unable or unwilling to recognize how sparse these true believers were nationally, they inevitably were also ignorant of how far out of the mainstream their politics were and of how widely despised they were as yuppie scum.

Here they were running a notorious feminazi harpy who had somehow been the one woman to stand by her man while her man stood fully erect for that woman, Miss Lewinsky. The calculating insincerity of it all shone through. Tens of millions of American women would have divorced his sleazy lying two-timing ass. Tens of millions more would have put up with it in some fashion because he was providing for the family or was a good lay or a fun companion but wouldn’t have done so for the purpose of setting themselves up in spousal political careers or cashing out for nine figures’ worth of FIRE sector and sovereign wealth fund baksheesh. Hillary wasn’t just involved in a possible marriage of convenience to a manslut; both she and her husband were tied up with every vile, murderous, explicitly misogynistic government with the money to pay them off. And here this bitch had the nerve to lecture every feminist and woke male ally in the country to vote for her for the sake of women’s empowerment, even though she had possibly the worst feminist praxis of any public figure in her country.

This was a flagrantly bogus campaign by a notoriously insincere and inflammatory politician infamous for despising her own fellow citizens but also ordering them to vote for her. The notion that Hillary Clinton is a crazy bitch didn’t come out of nowhere, and it is not an opinion of male privilege. Where the hell did any of these people get the idea that women never hate other women? Never mind; there are entire textbooks devoted to such bollocks, and their authors, unlike yours truly, get paid to write that shit. Chelsea Clinton is now among them, because mass-casualty crashes of the Staten Island Ferry never kill any of the New Yorkers who could use one. But really, Staten Island always was for the white (-ish; to wit, Snooki and the Situation) scapegoats that an urban overclass so cherishes when it’s too chickenshit to speak ill of losers in the South Bronx. #RaceTogether.

Did it piss off the men, too? Duh. In a sense, the Clinton campaign was a wholesale shit test which she narrowly failed. The Big Dog has too many other options at his disposal to keep passing the Big Bitch’s shit tests (probably one reason why he read embarrassingly treacly neoliberal drivel about “the conversation” of his marriage at the Democratic National Convention). He isn’t the only man who’s driven into the arms of whores by such behavior (many such cases!), but he has more money to accomplish this than most (few such cases!). He’s also the one who famously socialized the maintenance costs of That Woman through the White House internship program and the existing socioeconomic structures of the medical field in Los Angeles. (More #TeshTips: If you’re doing well in it, not just good, that ain’t what you call it, and the kinds of doctors you’ll take into your marriage bed with that kind of language aren’t generally the kinds who are worth having.) This is a fellow who has, uh, uh, uh, whores, and we all glorified on public television his heterosexuality. No, I’m no saying that Lewinsky was a hooker; she was way too crazy and had shit for boundaries. But hey, it was an expensive unconsummated relationship for the taxpaying American public but a free series of blowjobs (and some gross stuff, according to the Smoking Gun) for the leader of the free world and shit.

That said, not all shit tests are designed to be passed. Hillary has a reputation for cursing Secret Service agents into the curtains, and those guys aren’t wimps. As in Alaska, the women are men, too. It’s not like she’s just picking on some shlemazel pool. She hurls abuse, and reputedly vases, at her ultra-alpha husband, and once the outburst has died down, he rolls his eyes and rolls into the sack with whoever is tickling much more than just his fancy at the moment. She hurls much more inexplicable abuse, totally without justification, at the most dutiful hoteps and shanty Irish and Mormon soldiers of the law in the land, and they start the mental notes for their memoirs from behind the curtains; they might as well get some kind of deferred payout for their trouble, too. She smears entire demographic swathes of voters as losers and then turns around and demands their votes on the basis that she’s running against a vulgar nut who hates women, unable to imagine that a number of other women might find the oaf more fun and less creepy than they find her. As Madeleine Albright will aver, there’s a special place in hell for them, notwithstanding the possibility that hell can include a public sphere of recurrent Hillary Clinton, Your Fleek Abuela, complemented with occasional lectures from Your Rabbi, Madeleine Albright. Voters start to believe that their suspicions have been confirmed, namely, that Hillary Clinton is verily one crazy bitch.

Vladimir Putin is personally responsible for all of this.