Dispatch #1: San Clemente - Dateline June 1-17, 2021
Last post on 6/6/2021. I have been eyeballs deep into a project here that required 12+ hour days and included me strapping on my bags and swinging a hammer for the first time in over a decade or more.
The work was more satisfying than I remembered, and the accomplishment feeling was the total kicker. Working alongside the other trades gave me a sense of tribe that few other endeavors allow.
The precision of construction weaves into the artistry of function, and various craftsmen embody work ethic and pride of workmanship. I was proud of my tribe.
I'm staying at one of the seediest dumpiest dive motels ever. Three blocks from the beach. Empty your own trash. Make your own bed. Office officially opens at noon, more like noon-thirty. Usually with a hangover.
Grab your own towels, mis-matched at that. I picked up trash because it bugged the shit out of me. I don't think they actually mop the floors. I almost washed my own sheets.
It don’t matter. It’s the best little hole in the wall to escape my thoughts and demons. I ditched them at the 5/405 and my head and heart took a breath. I gathered the feelings and herded the emotions into the corral for a few days.
I was left with nothing but Now.
Now needs new knowledge. The longing for past normalcy is at best misguided, malevolent at worst. CEO’s say “If you can eat in a restaurant, you can work in an office.” Oh yeah?
Ever notice when CEOs beg, it sounds a lot like an order. Like Normal. Hmmm…
Maybe I want to eat out and work from the patio on the pavement. All this HR drivel of collaboration, impromptu water-cooler chats, and, again, Normalcy. The warm fuzzy blanket of Normalcy is bullshit.
FUCK. Normalcy? Stop. Please!
Ok, enough with that.
The collection of misfits, outcasts, ne’er-do-wells, dropouts, and other assorted fringe-dwellers were my kinda people. I was home.
Off-the-grider real estate agent living in a $550 a week motel. She manages a complicated existence with casual aplomb. Her daughter calls her daily. She is normal, her life is not. That’s OK.
Goofy white dude from Oklahoma on a surveyor’s job. Smart guy, just dumb. Actually buys and wears leisure clothes the same color as his work outfit: Neon-Traffic-Safety-Orange. Whatever.
Another white guy, not as white-toast as the Okie, from somewhere around Bakersfield. He made it a point of difference that he was not an Okie. He’s just from Oklahoma-West, but not an Okie. Got it.
Yet another white guy, former sound tech for rock bands, now hotel man-maid. Cool as hell, part of his compensation package is bong breaks. His cleaning sucks, but his stories are fucking great. He digresses a lot from cleaning. I'm down with that.
And the last white guy (besides yours truly) bought a 98 Mercedes CL550 for $425 at auction, and lives out of it. He bid on it to drive up the price and got nailed. Broken passenger-side back window because it had no keys when he got it. It runs, and he eats dinner with his mom. Sweet.
So, on the deck of a crappy dive motel, $100 a night gets you a million-dollar ocean view. The beer flows, and the joint glows. The talk is cheap and real. The memories are gritty and partial. Story lapses cause interruption. Interruption causes friction. Friction is the mortal enemy of movement.
Then it pops out. The word. With an “r” on the end. Guess who uttered it? You got three, and the first two don’t count. The sound of it was grating. It totally broke the conversation. It was instantly universally rejected.
The rest of us were literally aghast. The flow of the night didn't prepare us for that. It was a total E-Brake on the vibe.
I was so proud of the collective reply, we have been talking about it today. The collective reply was NO. DO NOT EVER UTTER THAT WORD AGAIN.
Each of us related our life stories about friends and family that have been called that word for way too long. Each of us have family that has been impacted by that word, and that point of view. I am sick of it.
The fact that I have white skin is not a free-pass to be a dumb-ass racist saying dumbass hurtful thoughts without thought. SO FUCKING KNOCK IT OFF.
Is he a racist? Of course he is. Is he a white supremacist? I don’t know. His racism is apparent. His supremacism isn’t. Seems to me if you are going to call someone supreme, they should AT LEAST clear the lowest bar of the actual meaning of the word.
This dude works a decent job, travels the country, and meets all kinds of people. After our ears stopped bleeding from his vicious verbal assault, and after our emphatic rejection repelled his ignorance, he admitted that nobody had ever replied to him in that manner.
How is it he could float through 50-some years of life spouting his crap without correction? Acceptance by white people. He admitted to us that he had never used that word in front of black people. I asked him why. His reply was pretty sensitive: he didn’t want to hurt their feelings.
But it was ok to hurt ours?? I asked. His answer took a minute to meander through mind and morality, and again, his answer was somewhat surprising coming from him. He said he assumed that since we were white, we all held the same opinions.
That belief is the most profound to me, and is really the major theme of my writing. The evolution of the realization of racial subgroups is slow, and steady, and unforgiving. The current alphabet soup describing Asians is part of that process.
My sweet grandma had not an ounce of hatred or prejudice in her heart, but she was a product of her times. When she would refer to a neighbor lady as an “Oriental”, my sister would offer this correction, “ Grandma, oriental is a rug, and Asian is a person.” Grandma changed her vocabulary.
That's where I learned to address racist thoughts and actions. It’s really not hard. It just takes guts. And truth be told, we don’t really make people with guts anymore. Take a look around.
Word meanings altered to limit thought production. Lack of verbal expression is affirmation of wrong-thoughts. Not being Anti equals oppression. Books are deemed wrong-thought.
BOOKS!! Think about it. Words that have been written down and read for, in some cases, hundreds of years, are now being questioned. Think long and hard about this. And where you stand in relation to the train barreling round the bend with brakes blown.
If you think I am being hyperbolic, consider the most recent cancellation: Chrissy Teigen. As I have written before, when Right-Thinkers run out of bad-orange-people, they need new wrong-thinkers. The queen of cancel has been hoisted with her own petard.
The irony is as delicious as it is dangerous. If one objects to the premise of cancel, one cannot quarrel with the individual subject’s transgression. All transgressions are equally fallacious, and cancel is not a worthy outcome in any situation.
It is that scrumptious smack of smugness that whets the appetite for cancel, and aligns head and heart in hopes of spitting the hook yet again today. Sadly, for Chrissy, the hook was set, and they just landed a big one! Who’s next?
That's the danger, the firing squad grows more circular as the target pool shrinks. The new victims are former Platform-Dwellers, Opinion-Providers, and Influence-Peddlers. Just yesterday, they squatted above the masses, showering us with their particular brand of toxic mental excrement.
As any mediocre student of war knows, coups are led from the front and rely on the fringe-flank to swallow up the current leader. Proximity to power used to provide protection, now it is an invitation to cancel.
This constant quest for relevance is the Now Crusades. The Holy Grail of Power is the same phantom as ever. Untold talent and treasure spent in the never-ending pursuit, often ending much the same as Constantinople.
The pendulum is as high in opposition and defiance as it has ever been in my lifetime. As hard and deep as the blade cut on the way up, the exponential force multiplier of gravity insures the slice on the way down will inflict over-compensatory retribution.
In the great words of a great black man
I pity the fool.