Back to blu, uh, uh, uh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hustling deposit bottles: a useful skill to teach your precious brat in case he turns into a downwardly mobile college-educated bum like me

A year or two I came across an absolutely trash-ass human interest story about some do-gooder tyke in Dana Point or San Clemente or some shit who had supposedly earned over ten grand by collecting deposit bottles, ostensibly driven by his “passion for saving the earth.” I respect myself too much to look any of that shit up, and any effort any of you make to flame me in the comments for being lazy or sloppy in my writing will fail miserably to offend me as much as this original fucking aw-shucks dear-hearts-and-gentle-people happy horseshit story about the SoCal bottle brat does.

Everything about this story was gross, intellectually dishonest, and soul-deadening to anyone wandering by with the barest modicum of critical thought. “Saving the earth” is a muddle-headed synecdoche that this kid was encouraged to trot out to embellish his casual gig as a trashpicker into a grandiose campaign to remediate a measure of the environmental damage that his bougie parents and their bougie neighbors will never, ever for the rest of their lives stop causing, unless they are thrust into a state of utter socioeconomic ruin. The very notion that prepubescent children should be encouraged to have and express “passions” is a frivolous, decadent indulgence that more often than not snowballs into Baby Einstein-ass Tiger Mom excess, in which Mother is now distressed that precious little Taylor failed her (or his!) kindergarten admission interview and anyone with any goddamn sense is looking on in dumbfounded alarm, wondering who the hell sent the Hueys into the jungle this time.

The kids are in fact all right, or would be if their parents weren’t absolute fucking headcases. If the little ones aren’t profoundly troubled, and I mean legit wack, they’ll mature in due course of time into adequately well-rounded teens and adults. What in all hell this has to do with the childish horseshit that has them transfixed at the age of six or eight is not anything that the adults in their lives should give a second’s thought unless the brats have I’ma-go-stab-my-kid-sister-level emotional or behavioral problems. This is not the fork in the road in the path through the yellow wood that makes all the difference. Get your head out of your ass. I went to Walter Hays Elementary, and I regularly pull over at Interstate rest areas to sleep in a dumpster-on-wheels Focus, with a dedicated canning box AND canning bag on the right rear passenger’s seat; more on this shortly. In case you’ve been too fucking dense and self-absorbed to notice, we have social problems in this country that transcend our early childhood curricula and were not caused by little Parker’s failure to apply himself in “science class.”

#TeshTips: Problems that adolescents and adults face need to be addressed in adolescence or adulthood, when they happen, not in early childhood, when they did not. We already have Jonathan Franzen, a national treasure, to write tendentiously about how, ja, don’tcha know, my parents back in Minnesota kind of fucked me up all Freudian-like, and now I’m a Franzen character. Remember this much: if you’re worrying about your minor children blowing one-shot decision points with permanent life-altering consequences, you share a pastime with the guy whose characters include the little squirrel that likes to fuck, and the solutions to this mess are political ones that you are too chickenshit and craven to demand of your elected officials.

Continuing our #TeshTips, #BigBandStyle, bitch, children’s interests are different from adults’ interests, and if we’re still worried about their meaning when we’re already in our thirties or forties, we have failed to put aside childish things. I describe our high-turnout voters; Gloria in Motherfucking Excelsis. We’d be boorish to harangue children about how we birthed them into an impossibly cruel world, but oops, we’re already doing that by micromanaging them for admission to Harvard as tweens. All the same, as excessive as it might be to drain them of all wonder at the world they will someday inherit, we’d be wise to use those opportunities for guidance that come our way to let them know that, no, this is not, has never been, and never shall be a society of princesses, marine biologists, firemen, and astronauts. Or, statistically, a society of Ivy League graduates. Slightly off-topic, GO DIPLOMATS! NPR tells us that there’s a board in the public high school in Wilton, Connecticut, for students to pin the insignia of the colleges that have accepted them and Joaquin Guzman for Mayor.

Our children deserve some head-not-up-the-ass guidance about productive roles that they might take as grown-ups. Chaka Can, hustling bottles is honorable work, Chaka Can, I feel for that, if nothing else, so the South County Can Brat is learning skills that may serve him well and honorably in his adulthood. But even that the human-interest fuckheads just had to pervert into a Story Whore item about the exceptional glory that hustling deposit bottles brought this kid because he was in it for the right reasons, or so he and his stage-managing parents insisted. It couldn’t just be, check it, this kid has an after-school job that any able-bodied person could do, kind of like household chores but with more cash flow.

By the way, that kid DID NOT earn ten grand hustling bottles. Take it from his colleague in the business. That did not happen. His parents guilted other shitlib bougies into giving him big-ass piles of cans. It was basically a Dunkin’ Doorman deal. Shit, I’ve lied about how much I make hustling cans to impress prostitutes, and I’ve never implied making as much as an adult as this brat supposedly made as a second-grader enrolled in school fulltime. I wish I could make $30 a day doing that. Believe me, I’ve got my eyes on the prize. Problem is, the prize ain’t there.

Lemonade stands are another kid culture guilt grift; any sensible adult who wanted some lemonade would go to Stater Bros and stock up on Minute Maid concentrate, not wait for some brat to pretend to be an entrepreneur and to have a work ethic. Next thing you know, these kids will grow up into dipshits who think that being at rock bottom in the Amway downline is entrepreneurship, too.

We are a deeply stupid nation.

Also, stop worrying about the kids not developing a work ethic because of some bullshit about how you didn’t ostentatiously teach them lessons about summer jobs or chores or whatever when they were, like, eight or twelve. I didn’t start doing farm work at all until I was in my mid-twenties and commercial farm work until I was thirty, and I have the work ethic to pick blueberries fulltime for less than minimum wage. Speaking of which, we have no labor theory of value in this country. Ain’t my fault, though. If the Ditzney Princess or the ADHD spazz kid in military reform school don’t have a work ethic at the age of twelve, maybe it’s because they’re fucking twelve. Believe me, I don’t have a problem working with grown-ups instead.

Midnight in the Garden of Food and Devil

Americans are being killed and sickened by contaminated lettuce again. Take a moment to think this over and consider what it means, not only to have this happening anywhere for any reason but to have it happening in what is widely regarded as the wealthiest and certainly the most powerful country on earth. Again, we aren’t hearing about hospitalizations and deaths from fecal coliform bacteria on meat, which has the guts near the good stuff and also a lot of stuff that oughtn’t be eaten but is; this is romaine. Field greens are supposed to be entirely segregated from the nasty.

We should be asking pointed questions about this scandal. For one, who shit on the lettuce? This last contaminated crop, like prior bad batches, was grown domestically, around Yuma. There was no foreign chain of custody for US food safety officials to have any difficulty tracing to the port of entry; this is on us. In another public safety win for the Department of Homeland Security, the shitleaf went through Border Patrol interior checkpoints on its way to market, but those jackbooted thugs are looking for a different leafy green, the maddening reefer, which, come to think of it, is now objectively safer to consume than lettuce. Hell, for that matter, cocaine is probably the most antiseptic substance on the money supply. #TheMoreYouKnow, baby.

Again, someone got shit on the lettuce, and no one in government stopped it at any point until unwitting customers had already started getting dangerously sick. By the time that happened, the potentially contaminated lot under recall advisory was huge. Officials were basically out shrugging and telling the public, eh, don’t eat romaine, then, I guess. It turned out that pretty much the entire romaine crop on the US market at the time had been grown around Yuma and that there weren’t many growers in the business. This was an industrial-scale agricultural concern that had befouled the fresh food supply. If your filthy uncle cooks dinner without washing his hands, your family might get sick. This was one of those deals where Uncle Shit works somewhere upstream in the cutting or boxing of fresh lettuce for the national market, but no one can tell where until there’s an outbreak to trace.

Romaine can be grown in a greenhouse or high tunnel anywhere in the country year round, but for some reason the entire winter crop is grown in one of the driest, most Aral Sea-ass agribusiness shitholes in the land. That reason is Mexicans. We divert their treaty water for our own uses, but then we’re all like, don’t mope around, now, amigo, we’ve got work here. I’m not kidding when I say that the location of these plantations is determined by the wetback supply, not the water supply. Sure, Yuma has deep dirt and a lot of sun, too, but it’s the last goddamn thing upstream of Mexico on a river that Las Vegas, Phoenix, Wickenburg, and Southern California are all jockeying to suck so dry that it never reaches the sea.

This is why we ask why the fuck anyone is growing lettuce there, when it’s a bullshit crop that can be grown on the kitchen windowsill at home if it’s that important. If the Mexicans stopped showing up to cut it, we’d get to hear the latest White Whine from farm country about how food is rotting in the fields again and also we’re being racist, but let’s be real here: there’s nothing racist about granting low-class Mexicans the same license as low-class Americans to go on welfare, and if romaine rots in the field, that means it can’t travel thousands of miles to rot in your fridge. How sad.

The American Gothic waste-not-want-not ethic is a myth. I actually believe in it, but no one in agribusiness or food processing does; everyone in the industry who whines about how the racist government-provoked wetback shortage is causing food to rot in the fields would gladly open a tank valve and pour milk into the river to goose disappointing commodity prices. These are not honorable people, as proven by their custom of importing crews of foreign field hands with no civic stake in the country to spend fifty to sixty hours a week stooped over making the same three or four cuts again and again and again. Gee, could that be why the work is so awful? Could it possibly be that a few thousand people are worked like donkeys in a salt mine for minimum wage to cut a crop that any fool could grow on a shelf in her apartment, without all the stooping?

Before you assume that there’s an applicable minimum wage just because the owners say there’s one, remember that these companies are using international labor arbitrage to hire desperate foreigners with limited English skills, including many who are present in the United States without work authorization. It would take a fucking ethnographic field study to ascertain the actual prevailing wages because the entire business is run by politically manipulative liars. It’s insane to believe a word out of anyone’s mouth from the crew bosses on up, unless it’s about how they knowingly hire illegals, because that’s something they definitely do all the time.

Nor will I bury the hatchet about how offensive, scandalous, and plainly evil it is for planters and their PR flacks to brag about how having destitute fifty-year-old diabetics with 40% of normal hand and wrist function bend down and whack the base of a lettuce stalk with a machete ten thousand times a week is a humanitarian and cultural exchange program. If the Mexicans all decide they wanna go play video games instead, I won’t blame them; that isn’t a life well examined or well spent, but it’ll be good for us, the assholes who expect them to keep showing up and wrecking their bodies cutting our lettuce for a pittance.

And if they keep having fewer and fewer babies to replace the aging farm workforce, again, we deserve it. It’s really interesting how this celebrated Mexican devotion to hard work and family which we celebrate at management’s encouragement is exactly what management wants to keep payroll expenses down. They obviously don’t want childless thicky tricks on birth control, already an East LA thing, to start being a Mexican thing in Mexico, too. It’s none of their damn business, of course, but that never stopped them.

The Chicana lady I have in mind washes her hands because she’s clean and wholesome. I’m not saying we need whores to start cutting our lettuce, but, geez, I’d say we need better handwashing protocols one way or another. Not getting one’s unwashed wiping hand all over the lettuce is kind of like not rawdogging a bunch of different strangers of visibly dubious health and hygiene: it’s basic, commonsense sanitation, but sometimes it’s too much to ask. Hookers are usually really fastidious about condom use, but we’re getting our field greens from crews that include the equivalent of crazy amateur bar skanks, in addition to ones whose instinctive standards of cleanliness are higher than the dangerously excessive demands of their jobs permit them to maintain. This is how we end up with people popping a squat and leaving gifts for their fellow laborers in the vineyard to unexpectedly encounter, or alternately skipping meals until after quitting time to suppress the urge to shit.

No sane and ethical society would tolerate any of this whatsoever. It’s entirely unacceptable and unnecessary. Absolutely nothing about it is inherent to farm work; it’s exclusively the result of hiring a few thousand unenfranchised foreign peasants to spend sixty hours a week doing work that a few hundred thousand or million Americans should be doing for an hour or two a week. The field greens industry invests jack shit in research and development for employee ergonomics for the same reason that it doesn’t provide portapotties within a manageable walk of the field: because it has this disposable foreign peasant workforce at its command.

That’s a workforce that can’t disappear from the United States fast enough. No, I’m not demanding another Operation Wetback. As I said above, video games are a reasonable alternative, at least for those not personally wasting their lives playing them. Besides, importing the Frenchies to do grunt work in New England and Upstate New York was a crackerized clusterfuck in its own right, and not just on account of Paul LePage. The point is that the class clashes between the poor and the higher classes are bad enough when everyone speaks the same language, so anyone trying to dual-track a foreign proletarian vulgate in alongside what everyone with a lick of honesty recognizes as the Lingua Franca has bad motives and is setting the entire society up for trouble. The whole Franco-Anglo thing in Canada seems to have gotten a lot less stupid and vicious as Canada has gotten its shit together and started solving its social problems. This societal advancement is much less forthcoming in Mexico; hence, among other phenomena, Central American refugees who don’t seek resettlement in a country better-governed than their own where they already speak the language, instead risking their lives crossing it to get to a much more alien land where they can more reasonably expect to survive.

Let’s get real: would anyone expect an acculturated, enfranchised, lower-middle-class American workforce operating in a well-regulated industrial regime to have the same difficulty abiding by professional standards of cleanliness? Americans are getting sick and literally dying (*Robert Dziekanski, overhearing the talk of Kwesi Millington’s home and native land* #MeToo, Biggie; you’re literally killing me) because what turn out to be critical food safety protocols are being left to harried foreign peasants working in ragingly lawless environments. These are not environments in which employees feel comfortable taking the time to properly wash their hands. Followup news items on the shitleaf have mentioned that it isn’t a problem anymore because the entire romaine industry has relocated to the Salinas Valley for the summer. Great, the place where they put an unimaginably shoddy-looking portable shitter on a trailer behind a school bus; I can’t imagine what would go wrong with a food safety regime being run in that physical context.

These are not the inscrutable mysteries of the salad field. This shit is Upton Sinclair for vegetarians. It’s the equivalent of a peddler’s cart full of unrefrigerated chicken meat that was dressed with a rusty steak knife. Businesses are allowed to sell this shit, which includes actual shit, because we don’t have laws around here. It’s a miracle that these outbreaks of foodborne illness don’t happen more often.

Please, to the fucking table.

Cholleycod

To my relief, my greatest apprehension about traveling through Boston was not realized. My fear–and you really shouldn’t be surprised if you’ve been paying attention; this isn’t a particularly novel insight–my fear concerned the dismaying possibility that at some point in the course of my interline connection between Logan and South Station I’d be forced to get Charlie off. CHAHLEE!

But enough about working at CBS. Shit, guys, the T kicks ass. Boston isn’t like Atlantic City, where it’s something like a mile from the train station to the Boardwalk or several blocks from the bus station. In Boston you can take the train right to the fucking beach. It can’t be more than about half again as far from the Wonderland terminus to the beachfront gazebos as it is trackside from the Sacramento Amtrak depot, and it’s a beautiful trip on one of America’s most fly as shit rides. The Suffolk Downs station is immediately across the street from a Bayfront marsh, and you know what Teddy always told Mary Jo: the mash, that’s pat of the sea, too. Don’t look at me like that; I’m not the one whose permanent senior US Senator got drunk enough to Ride the Ducks. Yeah, yeah, I know: the Harris lady. But at least we don’t have an entire family devoted to that crap for three generations running.

I never expected to find such low-key chill-as-fuck neighborhoods so close to the airport on such an excellent rapid transit line. Now that I’ve been there, I can’t wait to get back to Sacramento and once again watch RT catastrophically fuck everybody’s shit up. Run Can Car consists all day every day and it’ll still be a next to useless shit show. I checked, and my voter registration was approved, so I lives there, and I is in fact coming back in shortly, but as I keep saying, my plants deserve better than that. The navel orange trees on the Capitol grounds aren’t the only Brazilian thing about that, uh, City of God.

It’s hard to believe that I didn’t miss Boston’s city parts of town in the six hours between landing and rolling out for Schenectady, scratch that, Rensselaer because Metro-North got FUBAR from treefall and the combined Lake Shore Limited reached Cleveland at about two in the afternoon. It’s certainly true that the regional affluenza is wicked out of control wicked north. Prior to this week, I’d been to Boston twice that I could remember, excluding a round trip through Logan on the way to and from Lake Winnipesaukee, which I just needed three tries and the internet to relearn how to fucking spell, at the age of three and a half. That was the week of the Challenger disaster, or, as I explained it, the thing where the space shuttle blowed up and all the people falled off.

It’s too bad that wasn’t a Harvard mission. For such a stupid and arrogant crew they sure keep enough retainers around who care about the O Rings and the deicing protocols. The main thing I remember from Harvard and awah feyah surrounding city, other than the jackasses the admissions department sent to talk to my group who were so unprofessional and flippant that I refused to apply, was that I couldn’t quite put a finger on what was wrong with it all but it all just seemed kind of fucked up. In retrospect, I realize that I probably felt that way because it was super fucked up. The traffic and the street system (it ain’t a grid) were definitely fucked up, to the extent that I ended up on the wrong side of the Charles River because I missed a turnoff sign by fifty feet, and the drivers were total assholes. I was timid enough to believe my dad on an earlier trip, when I was in my early teens, that we’d waste the whole trip waiting on trains if we took the T; it wasn’t until I finally went on my own this week that I confirmed that the worst streets covered up the best rapid transit.

If I tried, I’m sure I’d be able to find assholes around there who complain that Uber is too slow and expensive. After all, Brookline is overflowing with these shitheads, who aren’t quite moneyed enough to have their driver fetch the car but are close enough to be quietly resentful that, like Moses, they will never quite make it to that promised land, tantalizingly near though it is, a thing they can see and do not cease trying desperately to reach but can never properly take into their possession. Matthew Stewart, the author of the Atlantic article in the link, is descended from a dipshit who inherited enough oil money to buy a Bentley and some club memberships and, registered social version of Cousin Gigolo that he was, blew it on exactly that. Steve Almond, the smarmy fuck who went to one of the high schools that I might have attended on a different timeline, lives in Arlington, and his celebrated Palo Alto schools appear in Stewart’s article as the top eleven public elementary schools in all of California. We’re dealing here with a hardcore elite stupid enough to give a shit about bridge and the Social Register and a class of not-quite-arrived arrivistes so desperate to join them that, cash-strapped slumdogs with a cool half mil in equity in newly renovated Brookline houses that they are, go online to try to hire part-time governesses for their brats.

I swear, these fucking asswipes need to be sentenced to Fresno.

Cities where over half of the adult population holds graduate degrees are not normal. Neither is asking the clerk at the bodega why the same bottle of wine is cheaper at Whole Foods. That’s another thing that Harvard men and women do. Whenever I think of the utterly appalling expectation that the rest of us defer to these self-important idiots as our social, intellectual, and moral betters, William Buckley’s fantasy about being governed by the first hundred names in the Boston telephone directory is a point well taken. To paraphrase Winston Smith, the proles around there look well-adjusted enough to maybe save the bourgeoisie from itself, because like hell will Harvard’s bumper crops of psychiatrists and arm-cutters do anything so thoughtful for their own people. No, seriously, if I had kids I’d rather leave them under the supervision of the baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants I saw around Logan than with most of the people I knew in college, and anyone who insists that I’m anti-intellectual for saying so is a goddamn fool. I despise these gobshites BECAUSE I have a life of the mind.

America’s meritocratic winners would have us all assume that, just as they insist, what they’re doing is ordered to the enforcement of the labor theory of value; like, Atul Gawande has critical, hard-to-replace medical skills that an airport ramper does not, and that’s why their kids are all investment bankers. There are all kinds of ways to fall short of one’s potential as a productive member of society, but it gets awfully tiresome to listen to these assholes reflexively dignify their socioeconomic peers no matter how useless or destructive their work objectively is and without objection keep up the pretension that white-shoe law and marketing are worthy, important lines of work in ways that making sure the bags are loaded onto the plane so that it doesn’t crash and keeping the plane from being backed into another plane are not.

Then these assholes complain to one another about the tile guy not showing up right when they needed him there to renovate their kitchens, and how that meant they had to eat Thai takeout for a month. With that attitude on the customer end and jobs that serve no legitimate social purpose, why the fuck should the tile guy show up at all? Of course he’s in it for the money, and he was probably booked solid doing the same pointless work for other insufferable yuppies, but why the hell shouldn’t he be walking around Barnstable stuffing his face with chowder all day instead? I eat an awful lot of Thai food for a white boy without an apartment, and you don’t hear me complaining about too much green curry.

We might be able to understand this situation without NPR, but that wouldn’t induce enough vomiting. What did Werman and his twerpkin have to bitch about while I was on my way to the airport to fly to Boston the other day? Why, another fucking complaint about how Americans don’t want to take seasonal food service jobs in tourist towns on Cape Cod. It isn’t Groundhog Day because the feds won’t admit Jamaicans on demand to fill barista jobs; it’s Groundhog Day because this same goddamn horseshit about how Americans are shitty employees and this inconveniences rich restaurant-goers is on the fucking state radio again. Brahmins had to wait in line because there weren’t enough Jamaicans, mon, and barring the national door to lawful temporary entry by nonimmigrant noble savage kitchen jockeys is not cool, mon.

The restaurant that this radio-enabled whine-one-one call profiled is called, I shit ye not, Hot Chocolate Sparrow, and it’s owned by, again, Scout’s Honor, a Perry Sparrow. NPR devoted nationally syndicated airtime to a complaint about how it takes longer to get hot chocolate in a fancy restaurant on Cape Cod than at, I dunno, a Cumberland Farms in Schuylerville. Here’s another idea: go the grocery store and buy some Swiss Miss, say hi to Anthony if he’s working, and SHUT THE FUCK UP.

You’d think that, America being a free-market country and all, Mr. Sparrow and fellow birds of his feather could address their labor shortage by, say, paying twelve months’ wages for three or four months’ work and maybe providing decent free housing as well. Instead we get to listen to fucking Jonathan Livingston Seagull complain about how he spent the entire season waiting on the government to approve his Jamaicans, on the premise that we’ll grant the dude the minimal judgment needed to competently run a small business. I don’t care about the moral value or lack thereof of overpaying Cape Cod’s food service line workers, and it’s certainly no game in which I have skin since I’m planning to spend another summer making less than minimum wage for farm work with dignity, mostly, but either their timely labor is worth a market premium or it isn’t, and given the general market conditions in that part of the country, I’m guessing that it’s worth more to the owners than the swing shift at a Lake George Stewart’s in February.

And I’m the last person to tell the help that it needs to be more enthusiastic about serving yuppies for minimum wage. I disappear from the blueberry gig when the dignity flies the coop and don’t return until it sounds like the bullshit has attenuated, and that’s a job that actually is time-critical in the sense that the fruit will rot, not make-believe time-sensitive in a waah the weather is getting le cold and I wanna go to Florida way. Even so, my bosses don’t berate me about how much trouble they have finding and keeping help, and I haven’t found them berating the public about this shameful state of affairs on its (sic) national radio network. If Perry Mason Birdman can’t make the job tolerable enough to keep Americans on duty in spite of the shit wages he pays, that’s on him, and probably on his customers on a pretty regular basis. Remember, this is the set that summers on the Cape. Maybe the free-market rate to get Americans or already work-authorized foreigners to put up with these assholes for a summer is roughly what an Amtrak conductor would make with overtime in a year. Given that they’re obviously dealing with worse shit at work than I do at the same time of year, I can’t begrudge them whatever they’re making. As I said, I don’t get lectured at work, both because I don’t tolerate managerial horseshit on piece rate and also because my bosses are generally pretty decent about that stuff, get off their bullshit pretty quickly if they have been back up on it, and obviously mean well. Being in the back of the house doesn’t hurt, either. My fellow Sacramentans may not treat my plants decently, but my plants treat me great.

Come to think of it, getting Charlie off must pay better than any of this, although I’m sure Cousin Gigolo would find a way to lowball his own rate until it doesn’t.

I theoretically lives here. Can I come in?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A room in That Place

Bill Cosby is Emmett Till now. His wife says so herself. Being allowed to go home to one’s mansion on house arrest and bond pending sentencing for sexual assault, including sexual assaults committed in the same mansion against an accuser in the criminal trial just concluded, is tantamount to being lynched for whistling at a woman in the general store. #TheMoreYouKnow, etc.

That’s a house full of memories, a house emptier than sometimes, perhaps, but does one simply forget all the pills one passed out, all the ladies of questionable presence of mind one romanced? Surely not. That would be like being blind, cane-dependent, and befuddled at trial and suddenly looking all sighted, animated, and spry on the walk out to the Lincoln for that last springtime drive back to Cheltenham. It’s unimaginable that the famous actor put on, what do we call that, an act. The gentleman was always too classy to cuss, but he knew better than to let that prosecutor accuse him of owning a plane without interrupting him and calling him an asshole. That’s another commonality between Cosby and Till: being allowed to go home on bond pending sentencing as a convicted sex offender with sixty on-the-record accusers after calling the district attorney an asshole in open court. The Cosbys have a perfectly normal sense of justice and the direction of its historical arc. It calls to mind Dr. King’s famous “God damn you, you said I own an airplane” speech, with its famous closing line, “Preacher man don’t own a damn plane!”

The struggle is real.

Bill Cosby will presumably soon have the opportunity to make new memories in a bigger house. It was a beautiful springtime day in the neighborhood the afternoon he was driven home (*wistful Fred Rogers voice* Well, I don’t recall that we ever saw anything that freaky from the trolley), and it should be a beautiful day when he’s driven to Camp Hill for intake and orientation with new neighbors. As the internet helpfully points out, the fellow got into trouble for pudding his pop where it didn’t belong, and so, we suppose, off he goes in a few months to “that place.”

I sometimes wonder about how convicts who don’t get caught until late in life adjust to prison relative to hardened careerists who have been in and out their whole lives, but not in the sense in which Wee Willy was in and out of that where it wasn’t supposed to be. Let your guard down around him and he’ll pound your cake, too, baby girl. There are prisoners who get started on that shit at juvie, and then there are ones like Our Lord Joseph’s Servant Gerald, sexy male code enforcement officer Lynn Rader, Lawrence of the Labia, and J. Denny Dundiddly. Some of these must not expect to end up with their “room” in “that place,” or to have their grown daughter on the record complaining about how pretentious they are not to call it their cell, as Dennis Rader’s did. That fool complained to the police during his interrogation that they had used subterfuge to catch him and that wasn’t fair, in contrast to breaking into people’s houses and torturing them to death. Then again, he seems to have adjusted better than average to incarceration. Jerry Sandusky complained to his lawyers that he’d go batty if he had to keep spending so much time in that little cell. The last two on that list haven’t had anything to say about their reactions to their own federalization, but it was fun to watch the Mandatory Minnesotan roll his wheelchair into that fucking curb.

This is only partly a frivolous intellectual exercise. The only morally compelling purpose of prisons is the segregation of dangerous criminals in a place where they can’t harm the innocent. That place works for this, we might say; if we may be raders of turns of speech, it has rooms, and room. The moment we start trying to use prison to punish criminals per se, we go off the deep end. This impulse turns all too easily into an uncontrollable outburst of the Id. I’ve had my own thoughts about the civic virtue of putting Dennis Rader on a stretcher and sticking him headfirst into the bottom of a fermentation tank for a quicker and more merciful death than he granted his victims, just to be done with him, but I really don’t care for what those mere idle thoughts did to degrade my own humanity. The penal system isn’t just about what’s to be done with a relative handful of degenerates and thugs; it’s also about what we can do not to turn into them ourselves as a society. This latter impulse is why Lynn Majors was given CPR the day he died; his jailers were there to keep him safely away from people he’d be inclined to hurt, not to hurt or kill him. And, yes, he was dead sexy right up to the end; you’d better believe it. The latter impulse is why bailiffs tackled and restrained the angry father who tried to assault Larry Nassar during his sentencing. Once any of this becomes a matter of vengeance, all bets are off, and the whole enterprise can get out of control and ugly in a hurry. This is not a line that’s safe to cross.

In many cases, the justification for incarcerating convicts who don’t pose a detectable ongoing threat is dubious at best, and justice delayed really is justice denied. The Menendez boys were low recidivism risks by the time they were convicted, and the authorities had been pretty diligent throughout the investigation of their parents’ murders. Stephanie Lazarus had practically a zero chance of recidivism by the time she was arrested. Rader was apparently retired to a life of peace by the time he finally walked into the trap he’d helped the police set. Shit, prison guards sometimes say things like, oh, murderers are fine, much easier to deal with than your thieves and con artists. They assume that when Bernie, the one who Madoff with everyone’s money, shows up at the Jewish gentlemen’s kaffeeklatsch, he’s there to play something more than mere chess.

High-profile sexual perverts may or may not still be threats by the time they were caught; Sandusky and Nassar probably were, Cosby most likely less so. The damning thing about their delayed detection and capture, however, is that everyone around them covers for them and dictates what their victims are allowed to say. We’ve already named, and righteously nicknamed, three guys who took advantage of popular school athletic programs that no one in town had the nerve to challenge, one of these also hiding under the auspices of a highly regarded national Olympic program. Lord Pound Cake, like Harvey Weinstein, slithered around under the auspices of screen entertainment juggernauts. These guys spent decades being allowed to do whatever the fuck they wished. The ethical standards of collegiate athletics in the United States were conclusively shown to be useless when Bobby Knight was not barred from the Indiana University campus on pain of arrest for throwing the chair. Millington, do you copy? That same fucker faced no legal consequences for strangling a player, although he was fired.

Jailing any of these notorious hotheads and creeps decades after the fact does nothing to stop them from preying upon the vulnerable during their interminable careers. It’s window-dressing. The obvious solution is to stop allowing famous entertainers, producers, coaches, and the like to indulge in severe behavioral problems and commit crimes of violence and deviance with impunity because they’re entertaining and profitable. It’s painfully obvious, in fact: these shitheads and the ones following in their footsteps need to be stripped of their privilege. If they’d been denied their privilege from the start and held normally accountable for their shitty behavior all along, we’d hardly need jails for them. In a well-governed, healthy society, it would be enough in most of these cases to fire these assholes from positions of authority, give their victims access to the civil courts, and warn those they’d groom to stay away from them because they are, for example, notorious Quaalude baes.

This is nowhere near happening, of course; just this week it emerged that the Redskins trafficked their cheerleading squad into Costa Rica for some passport-free unpaid escorting under duress. Holding these assholes accountable to the law like anyone else is a nice idea, though. Put me in for that, Coach*; I ain’t playin’.

*Ew, Hastert, not you.

Jimmy quit, Jody got married, shoulda known we’d someday get Gross

It could be worse. We could talk about the other Terry and relapse into acute Kathoholicism. We’ve done that before.

Nah, only on NPR could it be worse. So guess what? It’s on fucking NPR. I’m trying to boycott this interview with a navelgazing Limey songstress I could have sworn I’d never heard of in my life, and since I haven’t opened any of the overly copious NPR livestreaming services on my laptop, I’m currently succeeding. *Terminal Robert Dziekanski voice* And I guess you could say I’m “current” ly dying over here.

God, what a shock that always is. If you go to the trouble of listening to that interview or reading the highlights, neither being anything that I’d recommend, you’ll discover that it’s worse than anything I have to say about the RCMP. I.e., mostly about how they killed that one Pole, but there’s no reason it can’t be about how they sexually harass their own. For the same reason, the linked interview is worse than anything NPR will ever have to say about maladjusted Mounties, artistically or otherwise. If we’re going to carry on about dipshits with residual feudal duties to the Queen and chronic sociosexual dysfunction, we ought to carry on about the ones with the clipped cadences and the equally fine-ass two-tone field blues, not some borderline-Eurotrash emo civvy in a poorly fit Marimekko-style top and her excessive discography. We might as well at least find a crew that dresses well for its sexual harassment and its command mismanagement, not the lady who looks like she’s wearing long sleeves to hide the cutting scars on her forearms. Let’s call it “Of Corporals, Cocksuckers, and Cowardice.” Let us all, in one spirit, lift up our voices from the fish pond to the sky and rundel in that jungle.

NPR can’t even put the fun into the dysfunction. It’s not as if they’re spending the hour interviewing someone who’s mature, organized, and focused on the important things. This is someone who released an antinatalist retrospective on the virtues of hormonal birth control, in song. Contraceptive music exists, and it’s every bit as bad as pro-life music. One didn’t want a baby, but then one wanted a baby, and by then it was hard to have a baby. Additionally, Tracey Thorn has records about how much it sucks for a girl to not really be one of the guys even though she’s in their band, to be denied the traditional male license to be a derelict permaflaneur (because this is totally about sex and has never been about class), and to date a romantic derelict with a guitar who turns out to be emotionally hostile or distant or flaky or unstable or some shit. A woman, she tells us, can have a guitar, too.

Don’t look at me all weird for publishing Gerry and the Heartstoppers “tunes.” I’m not involved in any of the above horseshit. True story: I once got halfway involved in a love triangle with a bipolar chick whose main boyfriend, the one she wouldn’t disclose to her parents because they were Catholic and he was a Jewish atheist, met her because he was working on a documentary about Charlie “Murder is the Charge!” Robertson and she was babysitting for the district attorney. That whole thing was a dumpster fire by week four or five. I turned into a horrible emotional mess when it undeniably failed. I didn’t publish a fucking sob song about it and then go on NPR. Neither did I ever, nor do I plan to ever, pollute the Anglophone songbook with emo shit about how the thicc Jewess with the dead sexy Chicagoland accent who probably wanted to fuck me but I couldn’t tell because she turned me off with what seemed to be her idea of foreplay, specifically, pushing all five fingernails against my kneecap, hard, and spreading them out in unison.

This shit doesn’t need to be on NPR. It’s why we have YouTube and blogs. If you’re feeling (Mos)sad about these things, sing a song, and you’ll feel better, and I’ll feel better if you keep it to your damn self. It makes all too much sense that Fleetwood Mac’s “Sara” is a wistful pro-life ballad. Are we all supposed to be sad that what’s-her-name aborted the Henley brat? It was, like, forty years ago, and it wasn’t our fucking kid. Do we really have to keep hearing about that? Some family friends, also Baby Boomers, who were dating back then eventually had a child because they got queasy about the repeated abortions that resulted from their unplanned pregnancies, and now they have grandkids, but again, they didn’t commemorate it in a fucking acoustic storm.

Speaking of desperadoes, etc., it seems that the Henley fellow was inspired to vomit out his own god-awful bit of musical moralizing about the wrongfulness of gossip because he was starting to be accused of being a mob-adjacent Roy Moore-grade Quaalude teenybopper. Or, as Rex Tillerson might say, moron this shortly.

We’d all do better if the entirety of our public discourse about family values or the lack thereof were a Socratic monologue with Ali G.: “Sex: what is it all about? And babies: what is THAT all about? Is it good, or is it wack?” The moment people with opinions on this shit try to express them in cultural media, we end up with mewling assholes getting airtime in Redding to sing about letting all the babies be born. That shit won’t stop abortion. It will, however, degrade music.

None of these fuckheads, on either side of our wedge issues, is making society better through artistic advocacy. It isn’t a Satanic red herring to point out that allowing elevated levels of lead to persist in public drinking water supplies, and not just in Flint, either, has horrible effects on prenatal, neonatal, and childhood health and development. Hardcore pro-lifers put me off with their shrillness and enemy-of-the-good idealistic extremism, but I am not concern-trolling the movement by pointing out that their failure to raise hell over the contamination of water supplies right here in the United States demonstrates their insincerity and incoherence. Lead contamination is causing women to miscarry when they want to carry their babies to term. Ritually yelling at the Congress and the Supreme Court every spring doesn’t do a damned thing to remedy this ongoing disaster. You might as well take the youth ministry group down to the Tidal Basin to contemplate life and death, time and eternity, and the gratuitous sexuality of fruitless flowering ornamental plants under the cherry trees. I might as well go down to the Capitol Mall in Sacramento to contemplate how bitchin’ Senegal date palms are under the Senegal date palms. The rains can bless that, too, right here, right now. Alternately, we can bless the sprinkler system, only to have the state turn parts of it off for months on end to show Californians what a dry lawn looks like. #TheMoreYouKnow.

The Boomers are great for anyone who wants to listen to complaints about how having children is terrible and also not having children is terrible, and the only possible way to resolve this existential crisis is public art therapy. The pro-life vs. pro-choice standoff is not all that much more than two dueling lobbies of bougies with too much time and disposable income on their hands defaming one another for the feels. If they wrote “Anything Helps, God Bless” on their signs instead, they might get a positive return on their investments, but hooray for our signs, amirite. On our leading public radio afternoon arts show, the antinatalist-turned-natalist of these complaints get mixed up with grievances about how, aw oyt, mate, back when I was twenty Oy had some mates who were in me band and they didn’t act like Oy was to’ally one of them because me was a chick, not a bloke. Yeah, not having a perfect clique of friends in one’s teens and twenties is possible only for chicks, not for dudes.

Terry Gross could have asked, so, like, do you have cousins or siblings who have kids, so you could maybe, like, be involved in their lives instead, you know, but that would have been off-topic in a discussion about how the coordination of one’s own family planning, feminism, and possible woke polyamorous lesbianism is le hard and merits the more than occasional song. Plus, it would upset the neoliberal apple cart to question the breaking up and dispersion of what would otherwise be intact extended families. If we discover that this is deleterious for Limey cunts with disposable income, we might discover that it’s really bad for indigent New Orleanians, and if that happened we might start voting for elected officials who scandalize NPR’s sponsors.

There are from time to time artists who can cover these themes appropriately: Croce, Joel, Rodriguez, Winehouse. None of them are this emo Limey cunt who just spent most of an hour on the radio, more like Whinehouse, I have to say. It isn’t due to the Jews; look at the Jews we embargo in this discourse. Sure, half-Jews, mostly, but that never stopped Jeff Bezos from being absoslute piece of shit. If I’m off dicking some hooker who already has kids, at least I’m not singing piss-ass songs about the piddling deficiencies of my family life when I could be devoting my energy to expressing more serious grievances that might be resolvable instead, and neither is the hooker. The only song we need about that is the one about how they tried to make me go to Rahab.

I’m probably pissing into the wind by mouthing off about NPR again when I know where to find wild bay laurel three miles from here, but at least I just missed half of Fresh Air, all of that fucking Boston international relations dorkfest with the Werman twerp, and the first broadcast of Marketplace. I also missed a rare opportunity to meet Donna Apidone, Devin Yamanaka, and Randall White People in person at New Helvetia. Now, how DO I keep misspelling that man’s name? I have no idea what’s happening, Randall; I’m just a fat cracka who spends too much time on the light rail. I could have actually fucking met these fools today; not sure I’d have had to pay for the honor, in which case no way in hell was I meeting any of them. Say what you will about my knowing who they are and how to spell their names; that can’t say anything good about me. Just remember this: what bougies who maybe didn’t have kids when they should have need is friends or therapists; they don’t need platforms or audiences, and you don’t need that set of fucking Cap Radio pint glasses.

What’s going on, Ed, back home in SoCal is better than any of this shit up here. I really have to go, though, both because I’ve had enough internet for the afternoon and because it’s that time of day again when there are updates at least every half hour regarding legal developments involving the President’s outside counsel, the dirty movie lady, and maybe even that prune-ass sticky-fingered roller shithead from the Auburn Police Department. No time for a roast, Joey; this is civics.