Wet bulb temperature

The Pacific Northwest has been having some exceptionally awful weather for the past week. Northwestern Oregon has had record and near-record highs, and smoke is drifting in from every which way. We’ve dealt ourselves some of that which we’ve smelt, but another portion of it is coming from British Columbia, so I’d be derelict not to immediately blame it on Jamie Davis. His neighbors, too; fuckin’ eh, friends. You’re all too busy smoking that damn rock like country slumdog Rob Ford to keep the whole fucking forest from going up in a big wall of fire.

Let’s rundel in the jungle; well, that ‘s all right by, by God, that is not in the least bit all right at all, but as the traditional fishing ditty holds, take Tommy Thompson, take Scott Walker or David Clarke and some water or either Ron Johnson; take extra rations and take Sam Dotson, but plea ea ea ease, don’t forget the pole. You may have found that, dare I say, shockingly tasteless, but page view stats tell me that most of you are still here for even worse, and besides, if you’ve been paying attention, you know by now to expect nothing less of Gerry and the Heartstoppers.

Lord have Mersey upon us all. That was a mess. So is the air we literally breathe. There’s no need to bring Jian Ghomeshi down here to make us choke. In a rather expensive and cruel prank at our expense, whoever we specifically are as Americans, OPB sent reporters to Bingen and the Horse Heaven Hills to deliver soundbyte reports about how there wasn’t much to see and we might not want to breathe. Something’s already gone wrong, Kroeger. An additional something’s gotta go wrong ’cause they’ll be pestering us for money to fund that shit before long and threatening to withhold further programming, on the assumption that that would be unfortunate. Maybe if we ignore them (ooh, I’m getting a kloo, too!) they’ll eventually realize that they’re just a couple of impotent losers grandiosely addressing a rally of exclusively imaginary friends. Nah, probably not. That’s way too much humility and introspection to expect of anyone who tries to sweeten extortion threats with offers of Downton Abbey box sets.

Our federal tax dollars remain hard at work at these fine enterprises. I really should fill out and turn in the EITC paperwork that the IRS mailed me; there’s no way I’ll steward that five hundred and whatever so embarrassingly.

What this pulverized MRE pea soup has meant for the fruitboys and girls has been shorter workdays. We’ve been sent home (what is “home”?) at 11:30 every day since Tuesday. Daughter-in-Law initially told us to take Thursday off to rehydrate and “plan something fun,” but then, at Mother-in-Law’s whispering insistence (she actually whispered in front of us), she made it an optional workday. Lol they’re all optional, but sure. Oregon statute or no statute against first-degree involuntary servitude, nobody’s about to get dragged into any Kunta Kinte in chains shit around here. The second-degree involuntary servitude statute doesn’t quite get to the roots of America’s original sin, but even if MiL thinks light violations are a good idea (I have no doubt that Joe Dirtbag does), all that any tirades in furtherance of labor under duress will accomplish is less labor of any sort at a farm that is already losing good employees to KFC, Les Schwab, probably video games, whatever useless shit I keep doing in the Adirondacks, and, from what I can piece together, the Navy.

If I really needed the money and the benefits, I, too, might think it a good idea to enlist in the Navy (in the Navy!). I don’t, so here I am. KFC sounds pretty dreadful, too, although less compulsorily so. I actually think about applying to Les Schwab from time to time, since it’s reputable as fuck (I’m still getting free rotations on tires that I preemptively told the technician I didn’t believe had been bought or mounted by Les) and the store floor plans are open enough to tell that nothing obviously abusive is going on in the back of the house, but I’ll definitely be waiting until after the eclipse, which even my dad said, in so many words, will be a clusterfuck.

In the meantime, I’m getting shit done. We all have to eat, and I pick food. I actually pick more fruit than I’m supposed to pick because I sneak around to the good thick stuff when our bosses aren’t nearby to bother us about the barely marketable weak-ass shit they also want us to pick clean. It’s an ongoing learning process to grasp just how little Americans believe in the labor theory of value. For all the talk about the value of hard work, it’s curious how little some of us, nay, many of us, get paid for actually showing up and doing it. This, again, is the job where I got the 25-cent tip, the presentation of dem shine George coin. It seems that most people who are bleeding-heart or generous or whatever enough to contribute to panhandlers at rest areas cough up a paper George or three. There is, of course, a corresponding loss of dignity in sitting on ass by the shitters with a short story and equally tall tale scribbled onto a piece of cardboard.

Usually. This week, with its complete lack of MiL lectures and berry tastings and limited managerial annoyances for not picking the shitty fruit, has been usual enough, and I really don’t feel like getting into the weeds with any of the owners about how we’d all do better if we did some basic triage, got the good fruit first, and went back for the marginal leftovers if we had extra time. Not my circus, not my monkeys. I really appreciate working at a place where I can show up after I’m fully awake and leave early if I get really bushed. Sure, they had better be that flexible at the piece rates that they offer, but the alternatives in the industry include some real moral dregs, which these people definitively are not.

Yesterday was the first day I left seriously early. Sometimes I stay late, because once I’m on site and making progress I usually get really motivated, but yesterday the smoke and the water vapor from recent irrigation gave the fields that old El Centro climate, and I was struggling. I couldn’t put a finger on what was so awful about it, except that the winds were mostly calm, but MiL told me as I was leaving that DiLH had told her that the fields were really humid on account of the irrigation. Again, even though there are better ways to irrigate than their system, I’m not here to judge, because everything to do with irrigation is a gigantic pain in the ass. The game sucks, so it’s hard to blame the players. The weird thing about MiL’s comment was that the ground in the block where I’d been working had been fairly dry (I’ve gotten my socks soaked in other recently irrigated blocks), but I’d been sweating profusely. I should have recognized that it was super humid. I did recognize that it felt like a Pennsylvania summer, but I don’t think I got my brain fully turned on until after I left for the day.

My output was pretty good for only three hours’ work, but that was because I’d left some crappy fruit unpicked and gone poaching farther up the row. Far be it from me to hate myself as a player, either. You gotta do what you gotta do in this business. Statistically, what you gotta do is quit and go see what’s for sale at GameStop.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so harsh on the interior BC crackheads above. They’d be all right for this line of work. The big midcentury fruit growers around McMinnville, muh fuckin Mack, used to send buses down Burnside Avenue in the middle of the night to pick up vagrant drunks and take them out into the ranches by daybreak, in time for a full day’s harvest. Love too employ severely hungover and fatigued individuals with behavioral and substance abuse problems in jobs requiring the maneuvering and climbing of ladders.

Crack is an upper, a drug of gittin’ er done, a drug, possibly, even of optimism. I take coffee breaks in the field; it might be no less judicious for a rock friend to take a crack break. Toking lightly on the rock might be the equivalent of my taking a few sips at a time these days instead of drinking the whole damn grande in half an hour, like I did back when I was an idiot about that shit.

I’m not trying to abet crack use. I do not reify an interior BC culture of buying home baking supplies from the Boston Irish mob and/or the RCMP and baking a buddy some crack. This culture is already in place. What I’m saying is that we might as well put those who are already a part of it to good use as fruitfolk if they don’t look like they’ll inevitably destroy the plants they’ve been assigned to strip. We wouldn’t want to hire Psychotarp or Mixups in my Mind to pick fruit while high on crack. We wouldn’t want to hire them to do anything at all while sober. Psychotarp once dug a new hole for the outhouse without botching the job. I think Joe Dirtbag gave him permission to dig the new hole just to stop the requests for permission to dig a shitter pit. There were hygienic considerations in favor of a new hole, and in favor of not having everyone shit into the same hole in the ground, but JD obviously didn’t have any of these in mind.

For those whose problem is narrowly limited to doing better on crack than not on crack, to the exclusion of over-the-top, out-of-control psychosis, and certainly for those whose problem is limited to enjoying some crack, we really shouldn’t be so concerned about sniffing out those whom the rock is cooking. The workforce won’t magically become functional and healthy on account of their absence from it; we’re trying that already. The Mack Attack Squad didn’t need drugs to be a nightmare for its colleagues.

Crack, intersectional with a desire to make enough money to buy some more crack, might be what it takes to motivate some crackers (heh) to come out and do the jobs that the Mexicans don’t want. I’m pretty sure that what we’ve been asked to do gleaning crap fruit without no bonus and no minimum wage is something the Mexicans don’t want. If there’s a labor shortage that the sober won’t fill (video games) or can’t fill (area lodging prices relative to cash on hand), skid row might have some surplus labor available that either has a drinking schedule consistent with day-shift labor or cherishes its uppers. These marginally attached are already in the labor market; it’s just that they’re on System D. They’re already gutting rental properties for slumlords for pennies on the dollar. Bringing them onto the payrolls somehow would be worthwhile, but our policymakers aren’t thinking that coherently. These fuckers are already chargeable, so we might as well get some recharge from them when we can, even if they’d rather be paid in kind–or in da kine, da kine being, if you can believe it, crack.

No, I don’t want anyone dying from overdoses in the fields. I also don’t want some hungover dipshit falling off a ladder.

Being all about that base works, too. Sarah Palin has what it takes to take a powdered pick-me-up and pick some damn fruit. Anthony Scaramucci may. Donald Trump is too lazy and hey wanna ride bikes to do the job. So was the ADHD spazz kid from two years ago. That’s what we get for hiring a sober Christian workforce. 

But don’t go around thinking that any powder will do. Powdermilk Biscuits never got anyone’s ass out of bed.

A very convenient target with a very convenient sequel

Al Gore will be on Terry Gross today. We might say that that sounds gross, and we’d be right, however repetitively we took our entendre. Those two certainly know how to repeat themselves, so Wow Much lectures Such tendentious Many neurotic Omg brenda jorett Very annoy will be one reason for me to skip this afternoon’s radio mass. The climate change-intersectional heat wave hitting the Northwest and the resulting 11:30 quitting time at the berry farm will also help me skip our daily dork assembly with Mr. Werman. Bill Buckley’s comment about preferring to be governed by the first 250 or whatever names in the Boston phone directory than by the top 250 Harvard faculty members is, at least in this case, bolstered by the traditional place of W in the English alphabet. Shit, we already tried that at the national level, and look how it turned out. The fuck, Buckley? Your section of the White Pages keeps letting us down, white boy.

“Zest for life” is a fucking obnoxious phrase, and I really ought to mention how much Buckley’s fellow highbrow Masshole Teddy Kennedy always loved to ride the Ducks, just to get the taste* out of our mouths (Go Sea Lions!) (*since when did anyone hanging around here have any?), but our old boy Billy, he had that zest. He’d have gotten Cheryl Crow trashed on Old Fashioneds by 11:30 and relished every bloody minute of it. The posh bugger was not conflicted or pained or guilty or tortured about his proper place in the world. Unusually among wealthy Americans, he was antifragile on account of his wealth and privilege. His fanciness, precisely because he relished it so heartily, was received at lower stations as a sort of reputable plainness, a living practice of modest, down-to-earth, unpretentious values more sincere and true than anyone would ever expect of a silver spoon.

As the lady from the Cleveland ghetto told her doctor when she was asked if she got depressed, “No, I gets de Plain Dealer.” With Billy B., we all gots de plain dealer. Those of us who felt uncomfortable or distrustful about the influence of the privileged didn’t have to convince anyone else that our lord William was anything but caricaturishly privileged. What we saw was what we got. What we saw was fucking surreal. And yet, because it was so unabashed and aboveboard, it wasn’t the least bit eerie.

William F. Buckley has not been available for interviews lately, but Al Gore has. The problem here isn’t a degradation of public thought; there were hideously stupid and vulgar public figures outcompeting Buckley for attention throughout his career, and there are still intelligent, eloquent people taking part in the public discourse in spite of the much greater attention and praise lavished on pathetic shitheads. That’s part of what I’m doing here, trying to elevate the discourse and bear witness to things that ought to be discussed. Another part of it is the serial canucksploitation of fine downeaster (upeaster?) Melissa Ann Shepard and others of her home and native land. #TeshTips: A romantic Atlantic boat ride with her isn’t a good idea, either. Coffee is to the broad middle class what liquor is to the upper and lower ones, but I’m sure not to get mine from her. *Point of clarification from Monty Robinson* Vodka and the simultaneous operation of motor vehicles in the vicinity of maritime bays are important parts of my culture, too. Are you calling the RCMP fancy now?

All of that is less disturbing than Al Gore. He’s the last place I’d look for some Fresh Air. I don’t have to listen to what he has to say to Terry Gross because I’ve heard it all before. It’s as predictable as the sunrise. Gore is a priest of the postmodern age, in the sense of a homilist so insufferable that even the bishop is out at parish hall Q&A sessions admitting that, yeah, we probably ought to do something to improve the preaching around here. As the line cook who eventually bought and took over Joe Dirtbag and the Family Shrew’s restaurant told us, “You can go to church on the internet now.” On the radio, too. I’m already missing Marco Werman as I write this, so I am not wasting my afternoon.

The sermonizing really is excessive. I underplayed my hand above, come to think of it. There are priests who are not only clunky homilists but also sexually repressed in a projectile way. For Al Gore, the great vice isn’t lust but a specific form of gluttony, one that ravenously devours fossil fuels. And yet, look at how that motherfucker lives, flying around the world on private jets to warn about the dangers of fossil fuel use when he isn’t luxuriating in a remote Tennessee mansion that would make the Branch Davidians think, damn, that’s a fine-ass compound. He lives in a state of chronic guilt, but instead of voluntarily living more ascetically (which, for him, could still be unfathomably luxurious for most people), he lashes out at everyone else to adopt a punishing austerity from which he is conveniently (hey, that word!) exempted by virtue of his own virtue as an advocate. That was a kind of crappy way to put it, but as I think over what I’m too lazy and literarily constipated to have the energy to edit, I think it was apt. There is a shitty recursiveness to Gore’s shtick. He’s virtuous because he talks about how virtuous he is for talking about the virtues that he never, ever practices in his own life.

Gore took a lot of flak, some of it disingenuous and antisocially snarky, for being a clunk speaker back when he was the vice president and a presidential candidate, e.g., SNL’s “lock box” ridicule. In that case, he had a really clumsy, uninspiring, annoying way of promoting the manifestly sound policy of securing FICA deductions exclusively for their intended uses (most famously Social Security, but also Medicare and other social insurance programs) and not dump them down the shitter whenever they felt like wasting some more public funds on pork barrel. Over time, I’ve come to think that he got an unfair shake in the media for the lock box, which was worlds more prudent and aboveboard than anything George W. Bush was scheming to do with Social Security.

The mainstream media encourage a degrading vanity on the part of public figures, and it ought to be resisted. To return to actual priests for a moment, one of the most hapless homilists I’ve ever heard was also one of the most perceptive and helpful confessors, and it would be a damned shame for someone like him to be sidelined within any organization just because his public speaking skills are mediocre. Al Gore has had a similar problem for his entire career, even when he hasn’t been doing anything phony, and it’s wrong for bullshitters to snark at him so.

His climate change advocacy is something else entirely. It’s one of the phoniest things ever. Caulfield, you following any of this? Gore would surely intone to our boy Holden about how he should consider walking or taking public transit because cabs contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Americans in particular chafe at this sort of hectoring. It might possibly fly in Europe or Japan; stateside, it inspires every possible conspiracy theory about liberal elites, one-world government, population control, and a bewildering variety of other shit, a surprising amount of it somehow true. Here’s some rich prick who lives in a mansion, flies all over hell on the lecture circuit, and has four children of his own, for those who are aware of the Darwinian angle, and he’s bothering everyone else about how we’re all gonna roast and also drown to death if we don’t tighten our belts and stop driving and flying everywhere.

It’s blatantly hypocritical. To many, it looks like a scam buttressed by a hoax. All the cool celebs in Hollywood are also up on their high horses about greenhouse gases and global climate change, and they all have Gulfstreams. There has to be some kind of ulterior motive to it. Right?

It’s hard to make sense of some of this shit. I still can’t figure out the psychology behind it, except to have no doubt that it’s profoundly disordered. Leonardo DiCaprio and a droning ex-veep flying around like the Criminal Minds team to lecture other people about how wasteful they are is unbelievably fucked up. What kind of twisted psychological profile does it require to keep this shit up month after month without breaking from all the cognitive dissonance and guilt? What profile does it take to be even publicly comfortable with the idea that one deserves endless absolution for one’s own profligacy while everyone else deserves another ominous lecture for being not a tenth as wasteful?

The notion that this is all a grand scam, say, to dispossess and marginalize the middle class and make more room for the ultrawealthy, isn’t all that farfetched. There probably are some outright psychopaths hanging around in the business. There are definitely legion amoral opportunists. Hollywood is involved, so there are definitely narcissists.

In Gore’s particular case, I think there’s an Occam’s Razor explanation, less grandiosely malevolent but hardly any less disordered, for the jet-setting in service to Gaia. I think he mostly just kind of fell into it, that he had a policy interest in climate change that mutated into its current grotesque form as all the starfuckers in public relations kept showing up to suck his cock and give him, already a scion of wealth who was unusually successful in his own right, more and more money and flattery for saying the right things about climate change and the need for personal and communal responsibility.

Gore used to be in politics, but he’s a full celebrity now. The levelheaded, competent, no-bullshit experts and career analysts who used to surround him when he wasn’t helping Bill Clinton turn the White House into the synthesis of a university development office and Dennis Hof’s Bunny Ranch, are gone. In their place, he has a metastatic entourage of show business bullshitters. The finest minds and most public-spirited souls never go into Hollywood public relations. Their prevalence in politics and policy is wildly exaggerated by outlets like NPR, but there are some reputable people in Washington. Hollywood has no higher purpose that it fails to pursue because it gets corrupted along the way. Its fundamental purpose is absolute, unadulterated shit.

I don’t mean the motion picture or record businesses specifically (I swear, I’m only 35, but I also got only, like, five and a half hours’ sleep in my Focus last night, so make what you will of my language); some of that is more or less reputable. I mean all the celebrity-fluffing horseshit that piles up around the studios and clings to them like so many barnacles of unspeakable filth. When Gore got started on climate change, as a high elected official, he was proceeding with a layman’s understanding of the science but was surrounded by professional scientists and extremely well-informed policy advisers. He’s still operating with an educated layman’s understanding, but now he’s surrounded by pig-ignorant shitheads from the entertainment business who would psych themselves up to say and believe absolutely anything if they thought it would let them make a good living.

There is no exaggerating how fucking vapid and amoral these people are. Al Gore is working with and around people who will say anything for a buck and have all the IQ of a celebrity gossip rag in the checkout lane at Walmart. As a guilt-racked silver spoon done very well by his own right who previously spent eight years under the tutelage and authority of Bill Clinton, he was more prone than most to go native in Hollywood.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what the hell the real purpose of this propaganda is. It may just be a gambit to fleece the Whole Foods crowd; if they’ll fall for Seventh Generation, it’s worth a try. Al Gore is the worst person climate change activists could take on and promote as a circuit lecturer if they actually want to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases. He is unbelievably self-discrediting and discrediting of everything he promotes that involves any sort of asceticism (say, not driving everywhere). My guess, under Occam’s Razor again, is that this is probably more a moneymaking scam than a dominance play by cunning superelites, although the self-righteousness clearly fits in well for the entertainment business’s hardcore narcissists. Gore probably isn’t as narcissistic as he looks.

The whole thing looks like a monkey trap, with these idiots furiously holding onto the rich fruit in the jar with a fist that they can’t fit back out through the neck. The ethical flaw, and hence the glaring credibility flaw, in their model is that everyone with the star power to back up a worthy cause like climate change activism by mere celebrity fiat is also wealthy enough to live like a god. The idea of having showboating narcissists who have bought themselves exemptions from all the normal rules lecture the little people about virtue is fucking ridiculous, but the crowd that thinks these brilliant campaigns up doesn’t think through them that deeply. Why on earth would Leonardo DiCaprio or George Clooney (layer of smug!) voluntarily forego opportunities to jet off to Crete to fuck around on a luxury yacht? This would require guys who are surrounded by entire staffs of sycophants and totally loaded to go against peer pressure and the pressure of every dipshit trying to live vicariously through them. Ain’t gonna happen.

Meanwhile, an aggressively advertised culture of what Jim Kunstler calls happy motoring has taken hold in most of the United States and large parts of many other countries. The US takes it to particular extremes with motorhomes nearly the size of Greyhound buses towing SUV’s the length of a standard European camping trailer. Who is Al Gore to tell a workaday retiree to forego these little creature comforts? We can ignore, as the retirees would like us to do, the possibility that they’re financial millionaires with multiple real estate holdings and $60k in combined CalPERS income. Al Gore travels; who is he to tell other people not to travel?

Who am I, for that matter, to call anyone out for driving around the country in Rascal Flatts’ tour bus with a State Department limousine in tow? I’m just a fruitboy loser who regularly sleeps in his Focus. That would theoretically give me some relative credibility, but being a poor would not. Any number of people who regularly commute by bus or light rail set a good example of austerity falling short of hardship, but they’re poors, too, and PR types don’t care for the poors.

The intractable problem that campaigns like Al Gore’s face is the huge culture of Ephesians 3:20 cargo cult fuckwits who don’t want a silver spoon elite liberal killing their vibe. The Kamping Krowd successfully codes itself as lower middle-class, further improving its own image relative to Gore’s. Upon examination, it looks much, much more affluent than it lets on (how else does it afford its rigs?), but reputation management isn’t done on second thought. It’s much more politically feasible to tell this constituency that the oil is still there and always will be there because, hey, we need it there pending the Rapture and God provides for those who believe, or that the liberal elites are running an evil conspiracy to deprive workaday Americans of the good life that they would never deny themselves, than to level with spendthrift boomers about energy return on energy invested and by the way we’re basically running our car in the garage with the overhead door closed.

Al Gore is mostly right on the technical points, but the optics of his austerity for thee but not for me IFL Science sermons sucks ass, and hence his entire message sucks ass. We don’t need that shit. Having him around makes Republican climate change and peak oil denialists who sound batshit crazy but are really just disingenuous and squirrelly an inevitability. He’s the shittiest messenger possible for his message, and Terry Gross shouldn’t be stooping so low as to dignify his stunt.

Hey, I still have nearly half an hour to listen to Fresh Air on the local affiliates, but I do wonder what Marco Werman had to say this afternoon. No, I don’t. I’m sure it was retarded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apology tour

First Daughter-in-Law, then Daughter-in-Law’s Husband (because we can’t come up with a retarded acronym if we don’t first come up with a retarded full designation), and now Mother-in-Law have all approached me to apologize for MiL’s lecture and berry tasting last week. DiLH seems to be by far the most cynical member of the owning family, so his apology had an implicit WTF Mom air about it. DiL is exceptionally matter-of-fact and professional when young children aren’t around, and so was her apology to me over the phone.

MiL’s apology was, not at all surprisingly, a rather more shambling, roundabout, half contrite, half self-exculpatory effort. Many people, I suppose, would have been offended, but Mother-in-Law, consistent with OPB and KLCC broadcasting standards, likes to think out loud (TM) (fam, some of y’all have no idea how bizarre Oregon is), and I never expect her thoughts to be the most clearheaded and functional. I’ve never detected anything deeply or abidingly malicious or manipulative about her; like her relatives, she seems to be a fundamentally decent person. To understand this, it’s important to set aside the sub-minimum-wage shit and the piece rate lowballing; these people are all quite morally grounded in spite of their ongoing exposure to some really fucking sketchy intersecting business, social, and religious cultures. A twenty-five-cent tip is intrinsically pretty WTF, which is why it is dem shine George coin, but we’re hopelessly to understand this situation by looking at it intrinsically. From an extrinsic perspective, i.e., with some context, dem shine George coin is the result of some valid, if disappointing, math. It’s the bottom line, a bottom line that I promptly regifted at Starbucks. I told a middle-aged Denny’s host about it later that night, and I don’t think it really registered with him that I was not joking and do in fact work at a place where that kind of thing happens and is normal.

Mother-in-Law is a hot mess, but this afternoon she was a mostly functional, thoughtful, non-projectile, borderline-calm hot mess, and in my book that’s enough. (It may not be a book that you’d ever want to read, but that’s your business. BTW, how’re y’all enjoying Dubai Porta Potty?) From most people, an apology like that would bewilder and annoy me, but from MiL, anything shy of a full Manchego Fuck Yourself is low-salt enough for me. The idea that anything about her tirade last week was excusable or reasonable is problematic, but Mother-in-Law recognizing that it was not something to do again and approaching me to apologize for it in a fashion that only she can pull off means that she isn’t currently yelling at anyone, and that’s the real goal there. DiL and, I infer, DiLH had a Come to Jesus talk or two with her about her lecture series and other, off-the-cuff comments that the staff might find off-putting, and she’d clearly gotten the message, so I didn’t mind that her way of expressing contrition and understanding would have been fucking nuts coming from anyone else.

The self-exculpatory part of MiL’s apology was an explanation that she had directed the tirade at the new pickers, not at me, and that she’d been frustrated with the low quality of the fruit and didn’t know how else to address her objections and teach the pickers how to improve their work. I suggested that she and the other owners give us more guidance while we’re out in the field, i.e., more orientation and training. I can’t remember how I phrased it, but she seemed really receptive and eager to avoid repeats of the forcible berry tasting, especially ones that alienated me. I didn’t mind that she was misinterpreting my objections to her lecture (I don’t like watching anyone being mistreated by management, period) or that she might relapse at some point. Life is a journey, a highway, we might say, and Mother-in-Law was willing to embark on it. In that context, I was not about to do anything that I thought might humiliate her. Wow Much martyrs Such penitent Many kyrie Where sandal Omg santiago de compostela Very confesh.

If life is in fact a highway, we might call this a journey on the Hershey Highway. As a former Hersheypark employee, I’ve inevitably been asked if I’ve been on the Hershey Highway. I can’t screen such losers out of my life entirely, and yes, some of them really are losers. Advisably or not, I’ve usually answered that straight with some story about actual roads that I’ve driven to Hershey, including the 28th Division Highway. I’m sure that was a better experience than serving in the goddamn 28th Division. So is the berry farm. MiL overdoing the command-and-control shit was a problem, but she’s simmered down again.

I don’t want to write a fucking treatise on forgiveness. Forgiveness. Even if, even if. I’d rather write Doge memes that are probably crappier than I think they are on the amount of sleep that I’ve been getting. At least I know that I’ve heard dumber than that by a long shot from colleagues, even today, so I’m not rooting around at the bottom of the barrel yet. Even with the Ditzney Princess done for the season, I picked a really good day to bring a new runner’s radio to work today. “Let It Be” never sounded so good, let alone with such poor reception. Thanks, Freddy.

In fairness, no one got quite as unrelentingly grating as “Fortunately/Unfortunately.” 35 is presumably too old to be working for nowhere close to minimum wage around a frank child who sings a one-line song about a rainbow dragon or some shit for fifteen minutes straight, but I’ve worked with worse. Hell, I’ve worked with worse than the Ditzney Princess. There are guys in the ginger-intersectional non-White community in McMinnville who make Mixups in my Mind’s story about the rotisserie chicken fight sound like Pope Francis saying compline and Psychotarp’s blogging sound like a Victor Davis Hanson essay series. There’s a threshold beyond which sexual and scatological vulgarity stops being titillating, witty, entertaining, or in any other way interesting, and these likely as not recently felonious losers from Newberg and what our one crew boss called Mack (WTF?) leave it in the dust. There’s some bad, bad shit in this industry. The In-Laws don’t come close to plumbing its depths.

Don’t believe that over-the-top evangelical piety is good for nothing. It keeps the Mack Attack shitheads off my current crew, and that’s above rubies. I can still come over here after hours to swear and curse and sputter. That’s the thing: I may sound like one of the great American crudities in these pages, but I’m pretty fucking diplomatic and nonconfrontational in meatspace. *Most Neo-Victorian Voice* Yats! Yats! Fuck the EU! Yats! *Cable over; burn upon reading, or if you need some fireplace kindling.*

I have standards. They aren’t very high standards, but not working with out-of-control Chads who show no common manners all the live-long day is one. The Ditzney Princess, of course, was another example of low standards. I assume that “new pickers” was at least in part a euphemism for her, but as I’ve speculated before, harshing a family brat’s mellow might have been a ready source of disharmony at reunions.

That said, it’s moot now as a day-to-day personnel consideration. MiL has gotten a grip, and the Ditzney Princess has retired to a summer schedule that, by her own description, is devoted mainly to hanging out and not at all to anything useful to society. Funyuns continue to outsell Responsibilityuns. Daughter-in-Law told us today that she’d like to have us pick on Monday but that we may take the midweek off on account of the heat, so we might as well do something fun. One of the pickers said that hanging out on the couch would be fun. Some would call this youthful innocence; I call it the blather of a damn fool, but I wasn’t in the mood to kill a hopeful young man’s vibe. If funemployment is in the cards for him, he’ll learn soon enough.

Some of these kids don’t know how good they’ve got it. We’re living the dream. I am, at least. When push comes to shove and there’s no acute bullshit going down, we’re getting paid to do the work that “everyone” “knows” Americans won’t do. We don’t have anyone like Joe Dirtbag around to get in our way, not pay us, bring shitheads and nutty fuckers onto the property to get further in the way, and act out his personality disorders. The Mack Attack is confined to Mack. Kurt Ballman gets paid much more to deal with James “Mack the Pipe” Mack than we get paid for not dealing with him, but in any interpersonal sense, the joke’s on him for being the one who has to figure out that some oppositional-defiant wigger was wandering around the East End of Cincinnati brandishing a different length of pipe. As one does. Seriously, that motherfucker could have ended up on one of my crews in the bad parts of the valley. Twenty-dollar blowjobs from majorly thick bitches are far from the worst thing going down in Over-the-Rhine and/or Sweet Home.

Heh. I said “going down.” Giggity. I’ve also recently been in the Safeway in Stayton. Definitely not giggity. There were exceptions, but some exceptions prove the rule. There really are things that are wrong with flyover country, and one gets the feeling sometimes that it isn’t just poverty. Sam Dotson and Julia Pearson are no skinnier, but, well, look at them, and then go to Safeway. There’s a community bulletin board in the hallway near the bathrooms, and some redneck kid of ten or eleven was hiring himself out for help doing anything so that he could earn money for a dirt bike. Love too have legally unemployable minors operate power equipment on my property for cash under the table. This was in Safeway, so it wasn’t full Deliverance. I don’t set foot in Grocery Outlet these days. I have reasons. It’s never the Muppets from Gross Out’s commercials that die in an apartment fire in Northeast Portland because some Chad with a temper problem had to douse his off-again, on-again girlfriend’s couch with gasoline and set it on fire.

I drove by the state prisons just east of Salem later that evening. Safeway is a good place for cheap Chinese takeout. It’s also an excellent regular pilgrimage site for anyone who doesn’t want his entire life to turn into a Nickelback musical. I don’t want to go poor-shaming here, but there really is something wrong with Stayton. I’ve spent a fair amount of time around working-class neighborhoods in Northeast Salem, and they just don’t have that gee, maybe you shouldn’t be getting your kid a dirt bike if you’re so damn broke vibe. The built environment there is horrific, but Fat Sammy, never one to be out of place at a Chinese takeout joint, would fit in at the Safeway at Lancaster and Silverton.

I seek out ambient exposure to people who aren’t totally self-defeating losers, so I notice these things. If you want to be quality, surround yourself with quality. By the way, I am not shaming Sam Dotson for being fat; I’m meming him for being fat. I’m a bit of a thicky myself. There are some thick, thick Nordic bitches and Nordic-influenced fellow-travelers around Seattle, too, but they have a certain je ne sais quoi that makes them definitively not losers. Plus-sized or not, you might as well go Bigfoot hunting if you expect to find anyone of the sort in Stayton.

There’s some bleak shit out here in the provinces. Well, fuck, what do I mean, “here?” I’m writing this in West Salem. Far be it from me not to get out of Dodge the minute I’m done with work. That’s the only reason I stop in most of these country-ass dumps: fruitboy stuff. Canning is work, too, but if I’m cleaning up after rednecks in Deliverance country, I do that after driven away from their roadside constellations of Keystone and Red Bull cans. I doesn’t lives here, Mr. O’Rourke. Someone else can come in instead.

Are these motherfuckers serious?

NPR gets worse and worse. Avowedly commercial drivetime radio in either of our national languages calls into question why the FCC remains chartered if it won’t put a regulatory stop to such atrocities, so the possibility of NPR offering something better is alluring. It’s always nice to imagine that there’s good in our world. Instead, the totebaggers offer us merely a different horror. Its superficial aesthetics are better, just as Bernie Madoff’s superficial aesthetics were better than those of an Amway consultant or car salesman who won’t get out of your face, but I shouldn’t be so snarky about the old crook: dialing in to the Butner Jewish Gentlemen’s Kaffeeklatsch would be a huge improvement (yuge!) over the shit I just heard on Morning Edition.

For some awful reason probably having to do with a neurotic bourgeois obsession with the micromanagement of daily schedules, NPR has started advertising itself as something that’s hella informative to listen to for just twenty minutes a day. My points of clarification are twofold: First, if it’s some good shit, why the hell wouldn’t it be a good idea to listen to the entire program, or to get a portable radio (please to not encourage shut-in behavior) and listen to the entire day’s worth of programming, and, second, if it alternately sucks, why listen to it in the first place? The House Voice has also been advertising a website called Curious, which purports to help its audience or readership or instascannership or whatever the fuck learn the good stuff, like Mandarin Chinese, in, I recall, thirty-minute increments.

I needed only twenty minutes this morning, or thirty, or thirty, or maybe thirty-five, which I will not be doublechecking because I cherish the feeling and the appearance that I am not insane, to hear two separate but equally grotesque pieces of sponsored content for the neoliberal regime.

The first was an interview with Joaquin Castro, a Democratic Member of the House for San Antonio, in which Mr. Castro (Raul sounds better by the day) used the recent mass-casualty migrant smuggling truck incident to plug additional work visas for foreign agricultural and high tech workers. Neither Castro nor Steve Inskeep (I’m not doublechecking whether it was that cracker or David “Big Sexy” Greene at the mike, either) discussed the possibility that ag and tech have trouble recruiting Americans because the work conditions and the management suck. We’ve discussed ag at length in these pages, including the sad truth that the In-Laws are far from the worst (DiL actually called me a few minutes ago for an unruffling of feathers, invitation back to work, and IDK WTF all, because as dysfunctional as that operation is, it’s a weirdly self-righting ship). We’ve discussed tech less, but others have discussed it at painstaking, salacious length. These industries have to recruit foreigners because they either shut out or alienate the locals.

Joaquin Castro is a certifiable self-bullshitting fool because he described Texas as having major highways running north and south and east and west, making it a crossroads. This contrasts it with a number of other states, including Hawaii, maybe Alaska, and absolutely no others. A family friend had a classmate at University College London who turned in hilariously overwrought research papers, one of which described Burma as having, like all countries, lakes and rivers and mountains and plains, and noted that the northern part of Burma is called “North Burma,” and so forth around and into the compass. Castro is the same dude, but without the flowery, uncalled-for literary descriptions of William the Conqueror’s horses snorting into the cold dawn mists at Hastings.

This shit about highways running in four different directions and crossing each other was the reification of “Perspectives” with Lionel Osborne, but without the comedic charm, and not at 4:43 in the AM, either. This ain’t Coast to Coast, cracka; the aliens would have better insight into the geography of Texas. *Transmission of Data incoming* According to your human directional conventions, United States Highway Number 87 runs in the approximate directions of northwest and southeast, crossing many other highways along its path on vectors diagonal to theirs. *Data set complete* Some of our more familiar, less legal, aliens might wonder what the fuck it matters whether there’s a different highway running in a different direction as long as there’s air conditioning in the trailer, but their voices weren’t of any use to NPR under the circumstances.

Neither was any discussion of the Border Patrol’s internal checkpoints, which are as comprehensive in Texas as they are in any state. Even putting aside the serious constitutional and civil liberties problems with the checkpoints, a trailer smuggling dozens of illegal immigrants (by some accounts, up to 180) seems like exactly the sort of thing the checkpoints were established to interdict. The idea is that the Border Patrol has no fucking capacity to properly patrol and secure the border (yeah, this is problematic, too), so instead it takes advantage of a number of natural chokepoints on the interior highway system in sparsely populated parts of the Southwest to make sure that nothing fishy with respect to immigration status is allowed to pass deeper into the country, into the unsecured (secured?) parts. Yeah, great job there, guys. You come bother us on domestic passenger trains through Buffalo, but nothing seemed off about this truck? Do these jagoffs even check cargo manifests against what’s actually in the trailer? Of course not. I mean, maybe sometimes, but there’s nothing comprehensive about this regime. It’s totally arbitrary. It’s security theater. The difference is that TSA officers dress up like Boy Scouts as reimagined by a cop-fancying Village People cover band, while the Border Patrol dresses up and arms itself like the guys on the East German side of Checkpoint Charlie.

The second whatthefuckular item on NPR this morning (and there may have been more, for which I’ve tuned out) was on the Marketplace Morning Report segment. Marketplace seems to have started as a sort of intellectual diversity initiative, a neoliberal show focusing on investing and flapper lounge music to balance NPR’s otherwise bleeding-heart left-liberal programming about serious news that won’t directly get a cracker rich. As the rising tide of neoliberalism has swamped the rest of NPR in recent years, any interest in programming balance or variety became spurious as a justification for Marketplace. What little non-neoliberal programming is still on NPR is increasingly relegated to off hours, in the same manner that Coast to Coast AM and Perspectives with Lionel Osborne are safely confined to marginal parts of the AM.

Everybody’s welcome and his son is dead.

This particular Marketplace Morning Report segment wasn’t nearly so honest. It was about how Americans aren’t doing as well as economists would expect in such strong economic times. As always, the overpaid fuckers chatting about this stuff couldn’t imagine that the economic data were erroneous, too narrow, or bogus. A large percentage of the population getting by with no or very little savings is unmistakable evidence that whatever prosperity and stability there is in the country is not being shared widely at all. The numbers that they mentioned were pretty bleak, bleak enough to make me feel really damn lucky for having family backstopping and savings at all.

We’ve got a lot of broke-ass poor folk around here, just as we’d expect if we looked at the labor market and the attitudes of hiring managers with any intellectual perceptiveness. This isn’t the Sorrowful Mystery of the Passion; it’s just sorrowful, in a way that isn’t mysterious at all for those of us who don’t work at NPR. I know, I know, I was listening to it, so it must be for me, but think of me as an NPR hipster; it’s, like, my PBR, my dive bar, my wearing a bowler hat and a plain American Apparel T-shirt at work in a kebab shop in Echo Park like a fucking asshole because I somehow don’t see a problem with looking like I’m still in my underwear when I’m wearing a rich Englishman’s hat indoors. Do I sound like I listen to that shit earnestly?

The thing about this MMR piece (which will not, for better and worse, be followed up by an MMRBQ) wasn’t just that it lacked any self-awareness about the upper and upper-middle classes being responsible for the widespread economic malaise at the household level by doing everything in their power to drive wages for the classes beneath their own into the gutter. That much would have been merely a bit dense, a modest self-own on the part of a crowd that has always believed in self-ownership.

The really bad part, the creepy part, was the proposal of nudge theory IFL Behavioral Science Pavlovian policy tweaks to encourage savings, including entering people into prize competitions for opening savings accounts. This is exactly why workaday Americans, and the lower sorts of loafaday Americans, distrust soi-disant experts. They’re always adding insult to injury, in this case by condescending to people who flat-out cannot afford to put money aside for savings, and talking in public like they’re knowingly running society-wide psychological experiments that have not passed institutional review without the consent of the test subjects.

This shit is not far at all from some of the less lethal experiments that got Nazi scientists into trouble after the war. It gives off whiffs of Tuskegee. There are supposed to be institutional and legal safeguards in place against this kind of abuse, and yet it’s being discussed openly, shamelessly, on nationally syndicated radio programming. One World Government, Agenda 21, chemtrails, and similarly florid conspiracy theories start to make sense as attempts to process these elite attitudes that merely get some of the details wrong. The international collusion of neoliberal elites is a matter of public record. It isn’t exactly crazy to assert that elites that admit to using advanced psychological and behavioral programming techniques on the citizenry at large are also unscrupulous enough to deliberately poison the air with God knows what. FEMA camps aren’t necessarily any more grotesque than the current American penal state, which in some states exceeds the Soviet Gulag on a per capita incarceration basis and at least rivals it for human rights abuses. WHO DAT!

This entire regime is predicated on the mass degradation of the public. How else would anyone think it’s normal and not insulting to offer the chance at a prize as an inducement to open a savings account? That isn’t even a free toaster. I might be young, but I ain’t stupid enough to fall for that. In any healthy society, the usual reason to open a savings account would be, gee, I have some extra money sitting around that I don’t feel like leaving in my checking account or sewing into a mattress, and I like the idea of earning interest on it. Could the lack of interest (heh) in savings accounts have anything to do with interest rates being at historic lows? I earn 0.75% annual interest on my savings account. It’s better than nothing, but isn’t a hell of a lot. Good luck getting 1% APR on consumer credit, though. As private consumers, we still have to pay the bank 15-25% APR on outstanding balances, if not worse. Mortgage terms are somewhat more generous, but qualifying for a mortgage is a bitch.

Capital One cut my interest rate from 0.9% to 0.75% after I opened my account. If everything is about incentives and micronudges, why don’t I close the damn thing? Answer me, Gladwell. Are we seriously to believe that savings rates wouldn’t be higher at 4 or 5% annual interest returns? How is this sort of incentive, which is normal and not creepy, impossible but being entered into a contest to win some crappy prize for opening a savings account on uninspiring interest terms totally doable? What is this shit? Publisher’s Clearing House? No, that big check is worth big money. This shit is more like parish hall bingo with Lynn Rader.

Ooh, you’re thinking, she sounds sexy! Yes, he is. Sexy male code enforcement officer Lynn Rader memes are an improvement over any of the Pavlovian mass experiments the neoliberals have to offer. I make fun of another serially murderous creep on an F-List blog best known for a half-assed hot take on Arab failsons shitting on international rent girls (sometimes there’s nowhere to go but up; #KeepClimbing); neoliberalism makes fun of all of us while pretending to be acting in our best interests as our structural Mengele.

In this context, Donald Trump not talking and acting like a disingenuous Josef Mengele wannabe was an adequate selling point. His deal was basically, look, I’ma go fun a bunch of the creeps who keep trying to run the Milgram experiment on you guys, and I’ll sandbag them if they try to mess with you again, and wow, this is a really cool fire truck, magnificent, really elegant machine. The five seconds that he isn’t wowed by the fire truck are enough to show that his heart is in the right place, or at least in a less wrong place than Hillary Clinton’s. We’ve seen what she does with her laser focus. We’ve seen what her fellow travelers do.

The class aspect here is deliberately hidden, but it’s very real. Do Tom Friedman and Megan McArdle live under this regime? Of course not. This regime is for the little people. McMegan gets paid to write about how we’re too sensitive to the victims of the Grenfell Fire and put too many regulations in place in an effort just to keep them from dying prematurely in raging apartment fires. No amount of driveling, bigoted idiocy will get the shitbirds who talk the story of neoliberalism fired and replaced by H-1B’s who just graduated from communications programs in Bangalore or Guadalajara. The experiments aren’t being run on them; they’re exempt. How fucking convenient.

This piece at Dissention is spot on: “Neoliberalism works only as long it operates in a command-control type of socio-economic-legal environment.” It’s painfully obvious that the incumbent elites are not approaching us as free citizens making free decisions in a free market. No one normal and healthy wants to be a customer in a regime that tries to get the broke to open savings accounts by entering them into penny-ante prize drawings after dispossessing them from the opportunities that used to be available, more or less for the asking, to earn a living wage doing stable work.

It’s striking, too, that the amount of red tape needed to keep this regime running, to operate its elaborate mechanisms of monitoring, reward, and punishment, would fatally choke any small business operating without access to unlimited below-market capital and would hobble large businesses operating in a free market. I’ve often wondered, for example, when Panera will finally collapse under its own dead weight. Panera has efficient kitchen lines putting together dishes developed by some exceptionally talented test chefs in clean, well-lit, well-maintained facilities, but I can swear sometimes that the entire chain is on the verge of choking on its own corporate horseshit, and I can’t help but wonder when its customers, even its most safe-for-work bourgeois corporatist customers, will either run out of the discretionary income to spend on that joint or get fed up with the fucking muzak and clip art. Watching a new hire half-attentively watch a training video in the kitchen with no one from floor management present forced me to move the projected failure date up by years, but as they say, only the Father knows the day and the hour.

Great place to go looking for Democratic voters, though.

There was a third piece on Morning Edition this morning that I didn’t think to include until just now, about sin taxes making the poor spend more of their income on cigarettes and claim federal food stamps more frequently. States’ rights, bitch. This third piece was, surprisingly, not creepy. It was the only bit of humility I was able to readily discern this morning. It admitted, without defensiveness, that smokers want their damn smokes and will make whatever third party they can find, in this case the feds, reimburse them for the jacked-up price of their cancer sticks as imposed by their state and municipal governments. It implied, more than openly enough for me to stop denigrating NPR’s morals for a full paragraph, that socialism is a viable way to pay for the costs of neoliberalism. Personally, I don’t smoke and consider cigarettes super gross, but between Hizzoner Michael Bloomberg and the Smoking Chair, I’ll take the Smoking Chair every time. The purpose of whatever ungodly amount cigarettes cost in New York City is to punish the poor and fob tax costs off onto them so that elected officials don’t have to stand up to affluent voters in a state of apoplectic tax revolt. We might well never have heard of Eric Garner if classy crackers like Don Draper were still smoking that shit.

Spend twenty minutes listening to All Things Considered this afternoon and you, too, can be Icarus.

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.