Saturday, May 26, 2007


Today, I am subversive.

Yes. Today, I am a radical.

I went to my local WalMart-sized Ennui & Latte this afternoon to buy a book to read to my infirm grandmother so I don't have to keep thinking up interesting things to talk about that don't involve Korean horror movies or politics, both of which inspire in me amounts of frothing at the mouth that probably wouldn't be good for her heart.

Of course the first thing I see when I walk through the tastefully appointed faux-hardwood enameled merchandise attrition detector (one of these days they'll just install guard turrets and have done with it) is a display dedicated to Algore's latest shocking magnum opus The Assault on Reason (highly damp NYT fawning piece linked, I do hope the author had a chance to change after writing that). The title alone causes my irony meter to needle dangerously into the red, but that's de rigeur for such matters.

Well actually, it was not so much that I saw it, rather I had to take a swift dodge to the left to squeeze through the less-than-ADA-compliant gap between it and the counter to get into the store proper. They wanted you to see the Algore book, dammit.

But, oh, what is that there, in the corner of the bottom shelf of the rack, with two measly rows stacked five books deep to minimize possible contamination... could it be? Yes. Yes, it is, it's The Reagan Diaries.

I pick one up, and commence in the usual cover reading, page flipping, and price checking so common to bookstores. I've found it's generally useless as thunking melons in the supermarket, everyone does it, but WHY? Does anyone really know what they're listing for? I get a number of looks from other shoppers darting over to snatch up Al's book, and realize I'm holding the SoCal equivalent of a rod of uranium. I think the other shoppers were getting a bit concerned about how close to it they could get without turning green.

Of course, I can't just sneak over to the counter with the book cover turned toward my leg like the time I bought the naughty thing Anne Rice wrote before she got clobbered by Jesus, I've still got to buy the book for grandma. And I'm going to have to ask where it is. And it's by Michael Crichton. And he's a denier.

Oh boy.

And the lady at the info kiosk is big, both in size and lesbianism. She already looks angry when I get to the counter. She looks like someone who gets angry at the breakfast table because the Cheerios are clearly a vestige of oppressive British imperialism.

Oh boy.

I decide to buck up and not try to hide my current handful. "The Reagan Diaries" are 700 pages long after all, and I'm not going to be able to pass it off as the latest JTHM, despite the black cover.

If looks could kill I'd have been a pile of phasered carbon dust before the info kiosk. I asked if she "could please look up Travels for me, and uh, it's by Michael Crichton." She looks at me. "Uh, it's nonfiction." She looks at me.

"Er, in that case, could you just point me toward the travel section?"

Now she types. She types like each key is the pointed head of an oil company administrator. She says, "over here," and "didn' know he wrote nonfiction."

I follow her over to the travel section. She pulls out the book, says "Here," and thrusts it into my hand before turning on her heel and stalking away. I suddenly feel very small and vulnerable in this cavernous, mocha perfumed warehouse. Perhaps passing close to the military history section on my way out will help. It does.

At the counter it suddenly strikes me what it felt like to slouch into Auntie Darla's Paperback Emporium round about 1970 and ask the doily draped bespectacled octogenarian clerk-ess for a copy of Notes on Anarchism.

I almost expected someone to tell me to cut my hair and get a job. But I'm buying Reagan. I probably have a job. I'm probably an oppressor, and have had my hair nicely trimmed by my own personal wage slaves.

I feel both frightened and elated. I have Stood Up. I purchased something Subversive, something Challenging. I alternately want to crawl under the table and hide, or shout "Yes, all you people peeking at me! I HAVE paid my capitalist pig money for a conservative book. And I will READ IT TO MY CHILDREN! MWAHAA!"

Or maybe I'll just go home and give it a read. It's a free country after all, and we're all entitled to buy legal stuff, even if it's on the bottom shelf and the Ennui & Latte staff give you dirty looks.

Next time I want to feel subversive I believe I'll go to Bebe and ask for a size 10.

Now that will shock 'em.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I'm Getting Paranoid

An MSN story I ran across today:

“A Goodwill Industries worker who turned in more than $5,000 she found in donated pajama pants will get to keep the money because the owner could not be found.”

Okay, first off, the $5,000 ended up at Goodwill. Was it not like Goodwill couldn’t use $5,000? Isn’t that what they’re for? I was thinking that the manager’s decision was somewhat reasonable due to the fact that the employee was going to use the money on education rather than, say, cocaine, then I read....

“The money was in an envelope with a note naming the intended recipient.”

So. Okay. There was a NAMED INTENDED RECIPIENT. Why did the money not go to the person it was clearly named to go to?

I smell a rodent of some sort. Perhaps I am just losing faith in humanity, but I can think of at least five better things to do with that money, including firstly giving it to the person it was obviously intended to go to.

EDIT 05/26/07: I realized last night that there may be at least one good reason for this, namely if the intended recipiant's name was "John Smith" or the like, and tracking down the real one would have been nearly impossible. I still think, however, that since the money ended up at a charity organization, it should have gone to charity.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I Object

I had a comment to contribute to Shrinkwrapped's post The Immigration Conundrum but it became too large, so I am posting it here for prosperity.

Please read the above post, which is excellent, for context.

My post continues:

Although I know full well the plural of anecdote is not data, but I am a good example of the change that can occur in opinion over time and experience.

I was born and raised in a border city. From childhood my friends and peers were a mixed group of races with a bit of Anglo, Hispanic, and Asian communities all colliding at once. It’s probably one of the few places in the world where you can order your squid enchilada with wasabi and a side of french fries (it’s good, trust me).

Over the last twenty years what was a thriving multicultural community has become somewhat of a nightmare. Some things I’m going to relate may sound like racist generalizations, but living here you’d find it’s just the way things are.

There are parts of my city where white, black, and Asian people cannot go, the police cannot go there without backup. You would be amazed that within our 21st-century city there are areas that look like Tijuana barrios, complete with sewage in the streets and livestock running free. The gangs are virulent and extremely aggressive. In some neighborhoods the Mexican flag is a omnipresent object. Seeing bumper stickers of a cartoon man wearing a sombrero urinating on the US flag is common. The largest problem our schoolteachers have here is the extremely high percentage of children who don’t speak English, don’t care to, and who’s parents don’t care either. One can pretty much assume that the person with whom they are involved in a automobile accident has no insurance, no license, and will “forget” any English they know when the police arrive.

Even in fairly well-off middle-class neighborhoods, one cannot put their laundry to dry on a line, it will be stolen. Anything left in the yard will be stolen, cars are broken into constantly. In my own personal experience I’ve lived in multiple places where I had to literally go sit on top of the community washer and read a book, or I’d see my clothing on the Mexican children in the complex the next week. Illegal Mexicans live in the canyons around neighborhoods, which become centers for drugs, prostitution, and other illegal activities. When I was a child the police made us take down a tree fort that we built in the canyon next to my house. Today there is a camp of 50-70 people there, complete with wrecked cars, raw sewage, open fires in the brush, semi-domesticated animals and assorted animal manure, and the police refuse to touch it. Even when the camp residents steal from the surrounding neighborhood, and citizens are assaulted, nothing is done.

I have indeed met some people who are clearly illegals who are good people, just trying to make it somewhere, but increasingly over the years my experience has been of very aggressive, combative people, who are furious with you for existing, even as they demand what they perceive as entitlements while literally trashing everything around them.

I’m angry that these people, who flaunted the laws from the beginning, continue to flaunt them, do not care about America, demonstrate no sense of caring about anything around them or even of their own possessions, are going to get a free pass, that I will have to pay for. I don’t want my children to grow up in a (excuse me, but it’s the truth) shit-hole like Tijuana, and that’s what they seem to want to –illegally- bring here. I’m angry that when anyone who can sneak over here can get benefits and entitlements, my citizenship is worth practically nothing. I’m angry that I must obey the laws or face the consequences, but a blind eye is turned on wrongdoing by this group of people.

I used to enjoy our multiculturalism. It made me feel good to be around different groups of people and cultures. Now, I am filled with rage if I’m asked to “press 2 for English.” It makes me seethe when my voter registration is printed in Spanish. Every time I see a “piss on the US” bumper sticker I seriously consider taking my college-trained self and highly intelligent husband and moving somewhere where citizenship means something.

It’s wrong, I know. I should be sympathetic, I know. However, I will accept no solution other than the rule of law. Without that, yeah, we might as well get used to living in TJ, that’s what we’re going to look like in 25 years.

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