Faithful readers of this blog (both of you) are rightfully disappointed by the fact that I've gone all summer without a post, sketch, dose of dangle, or anything. Sorry guys! There are a couple of reasons. I was on the road with the fam for most of July (see my post of Europe sketches), but also my dream of a lifetime has come true and I was invited, actually I asked, to be a writer for Wonkette, my favorite political satire blog, and they said yes.
I wrote four columns about the European debt crisis from the road and a few other items. It's a little like doing Troubletown again but harder and with more annoying comments. It pays about the same which is nothing.
This week I wrote a whiny takedown of this weekend's New York Times Magazine article about Oakland and the Occupy movement that was REJECTED, which is probably just as well since it was so provincial and defensive. If you go to the NYT article be sure to read the comments. Damn, the anti-occupy crowd is loud and nasty! Anyway, just for fun, here's what I wrote:
Thanks to a fancy reporter from the New York Times I now know that I reside in the stupidest city in America!
Having lived in Oakland since 1992 I've known that there's something ridiculous about this place, but now, thanks to Jonathan Mahler's article in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine I know what it is: Oakland is "The Last Refuge of Radical America," like a little Cuba in California, which is a really stupid thing to be in such hyper-capitalist times, and the article uncovers many hilarious examples of the backward members of the "hard left" sitting around puffing joints, smashing windows and being too disorganized to get their pants on with the fly facing forward.
Oakland and the Occupy movement were made for each other since they are both so very dumb. Occupy doesn't even know what they're against or where to find them. The writer argues that the protestors should've headed over to San Francisco where all the capital is instead of camping out in this sorry "catchment basin" for radicals. Probably true, but they're such losers they couldn't figure it out.
Joints were passed, but this was not a mellow crowd. A barefoot man known as Running Wolf grabbed an American flag from outside a popular cop bar and dragged it behind him. Packs of protesters charged into businesses, overturning tables, shattering windows and smashing A.T.M.s. An activist spray-painted vulgarities on the window of a Bank of America branch. The Menace was loose again, as Hunter S. Thompson wrote about a different group of rabble-rousers, the Hell's Angels.
Scary! Mahler didn't hang out with any of the fat middle class parents like me pushing their strollers around the Occupy encampment grinning and sharing inane conversations with their neighbors (volunteers from my son's elementary school set up a kid's play zone) or any of the gray-haired old farts who were present at the mostly peaceful protests. He only managed to find dangerous tenured professors, "professional revolutionaries" (where do I get a job like that?), anarchists dressed in ninja costumes, and one dumbass living in a tree and pooping into a bucket. (Running Wolf's second mention in the article). Even the Iraq vet that the cops shot in the head was disappointingly Oaklandy.
Scott Olsen, a 25-year-old Iraq war veteran who was shot at close range in the head last fall with a beanbag round by the Oakland Police, rolled a cigarette and calmly observed the chaos through glazed blue eyes, his long, stringy blond hair protruding from beneath a protective helmet. He looked less like an ex-Marine than a stoned, skinny teenager who had gotten lost on his way to the skate park.
Everyone in Oakland is stoned out of their minds on pot, which is certainly true at my house, and everywhere Mahler looks he sees radicals, radicals, radicals! Mayor Jean Quan he describes as an "ex-radical," presumably because of her twelve years on the school board and for starting the dangerous revolutionary group, Save Our Schools, determined to preserve music classes and keep libraries open even if it meant blowing up buildings and hurling Molotov cocktails at The Man. And even the Black Panthers are silly now because the last member alive leads Panther history tours and sells hot sauce called, "Burn Baby Burn."
Here's a quick rundown of Oakland's easily-solved-by-smart-people problems: The elected officials are too stupid to know how to govern (because they're all radicals). Oakland's too stupid to keep their sports teams happy (because they're too radical to build fancy stadiums). And, most egregious, Oakland is too stupid to attract any money from neighboring San Francisco and Silicon Valley that are jam-packed with dot com millionaires who have run out of loft space. Even though Oakland is thusly broke, lacking any sort of tax base, it's also threatened by gentrification! And there's nothing an effete condo-dwelling reporter from the New York Times hates more than gentrification. When you live on a block that's frequently rattled by gunfire you call it a godsend when your neighborhood improves, but comfortable observers prefer their ghettos to stay ghettoy.
Go ahead, Mahler, hit us in the head with the big stick of reality:
It's a dream that still exists in Oakland: that the world can be taken from the haves and delivered to the have-nots. Like all dreams that are on the brink of being extinguished, its keepers cling to it with a fierceness that is both moving and an extreme exercise in the denial of the reality that is at their door.
Ouch! Well that sucks. Thanks New York Times for reminding us that anyone left with a lingering hope for social justice can just eat it. Stop being a dipshit. Get a job!