There was a low-speed automobile collision outside my house this morning, as my kids were standing on the sidewalk waiting to be taken to school. Everyone involved had strange and generally wrong reactions, myself included. My boys screeched and then hugged each other, like nervous baby monkeys at the zoo. I watched the crash from the front doorway—two compact cars, neither going more than 20 miles per hour—and then went back inside for a moment to turn off lights. Then I went to the car that was most smashed up and helped the children get out. There were two little girls in car seats, in the back, and a girl not much bigger than my third-grader in the front. She was dazed and loudly complaining that she’d lost one of her shoes. The mother, in her late 20s at most, stood by the driver’s side door for a while, saying nothing. The guy in the other car got out, looked around, and sat back down in his driver’s seat for a moment.
Now the three kids were sitting on the sidewalk, and it seemed the oldest girl was at least a little bit hurt. Her right leg was bothering her, and her forehead had probably hit the dash, although it wasn’t cut. There was broken glass everywhere, and at least some of it embedded in her skin and maybe in one of her eyes. (Later I realize I don’t know where the glass came from. Did a windshield shatter? I hadn’t noticed.) The mom looks over the kids while I call 911. The dispatcher asks me a lot of questions about injuries, damage, is the street blocked, etc. I try to come up with answers, instead of saying Just send the paramedics over, the fire station is three blocks away. Then the mother is back at the car, wailing, “My car, my car! I worked so hard for my car!” Her children sit alone on the curb.
The driver of the other car—I think it was the driver, although it might have been another neighbor—is saying, “The car can be fixed, be with your kids.” There is an argument over who’s at fault, but I’m walking away now, it’s time for my kids to get to school. I tell the drivers that I’ve called 911 and the paramedics are on the way, and then I spend the rest of the walk to school telling my kindergartner that it’s going to be all right, the kids will be okay, luckily everyone was wearing a seat belt or in a car seat, etc. A police car passes us on the way and turns on our street, siren blaring. The ambulance is not far behind it.
Walking home, I wonder if I should’ve done something else … left my house open for the kids, offered them something? But if they were hurt, any of them, they should not be moving around, going up steps, right? Who knows. When I get back, a policeman on a motorcycle is just driving off, red and blue lights blinking, and I think of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, because that’s what I was watching with my older son last night. (His request to see the first Terminator, which is far more psychotic and violent and porny, was denied. As a compromise, I watched the sequel with him and skipped over the handful of disturbing scenes; it’s mostly cartoon violence.)
One cop in a cruiser remains for a little while. Another girl not much older than the one in the front seat is now there with the toddler, I guess she was called to come get her, while the mom accompanied the other kids to the hospital? Maybe a teenaged child from the same family, or the mom’s younger sister? She’s whining to the cop about having to stay there, and he says she needs to stay there for some reason.
An hour later, all parties and both wrecked cars are gone. Nothing remains but a lot of broken glass and sand poured over the oil and radiator fluid that ran all over the pavement. The street cleaning truck comes by, but of course the driver doesn’t steer a few feet to the left to get all this mess, because it’s Friday and they only do my side of the street on Friday.
“Range Life" is a song by Pavement, the third single from their 1994 album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. The song attracted attention with controversial lyrics that seemed to mock alternative rock superstars the Smashing Pumpkins and the Stone Temple Pilots; Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan expressed his displeasure in magazine interviews, while songwriter Stephen Malkmus maintained that his words had been misinterpreted and no insult was intended. Regardless, Pavement, which was due to tour for Lollapalooza in 1994, got kicked out when the Smashing Pumpkins, the headlining act, threatened to cancel their Lollapalooza dates if Pavement played.”
Permanent ban on babytalk, old internet memes, etc. Yes yes, let he who never posted a LOLcat cast the first stone, etc. But it’s a new year, we are building a bigger readership (including actual adults!), and we will type like upright humans with opposable thumbs. So please pack that stuff away in your 2005-2007 tool box: teh, !!1!, interwebs, internetz, any sort of “z for plural” or other such internetbabytalk.
Also, as I mentioned to some of you: No vulgarities in headlines, ever. (Google News has warned us, and readers don’t won’t giant FUCK YOUs on their screen when the boss walks by.) And keep the in-post profanity to a very bare minimum. If the vulgarity isn’t adding something interesting to the sentence, cut it—save the vulgarity for shock value or when there’s simply no better available word.
It’s a blog, so we don’t care if we reference something repeatedly. Ideally, the subject matter of items will vary a bit from post to post on the front page, but the cold fact is that we have very little to write about this year—a shrinking pool of loathsome people & their dumb campaign antics—and anything especially noteworthy is going to be written about in dozens or even hundreds of posts, and during these primaries we are going to hammer away at the same little box of bullshit news all day long every day. So keep it short, keep it funny, and remember that the post is forgotten by readers mere seconds after they see it and move on to the next thing. (This doesn’t mean people don’t love their Wonkette. They do. But it’s a cumulative response based on a steady stream of “funny-at-the-time” blogging, as you’ll see one day when you try to find “clips” on Wonkette & see nothing but old blog posts instead.)
You don’t need to schedule posts. I see a lot of terrorist “chatter” these days about planning out the posting on a blog. Please don’t bother. With three full-timers, one part-timer, two columnists, two video/photo people and two interns, we should have a constant stream of posts. A good example of this was our Iowa caucus day, with 60 or so posts in 24 hours, which means a post every 12 minutes or so—but in reality, that was about a post every 6 minutes over a dozen or so hours. If something is really super good and needs to be highlighted for longer, that’s what the “top” category is for. I’m also bringing back the WEEK IN REVIEW thing to highlight exciting posts again.
Why is it on Wonkette? A little question to ask before posting something.
It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it.
And with that Ed Abbey quote as a motto, Greenfriar launched this week. Come on by and read some good stuff about hiking, endangered species, mountain cabins, desert hermits, backyard chickens, urban forests and other stuff that makes life worth living.
I’ve only ever had two Grateful Dead albums, American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead, and while far from a “deadhead” I do hold the view that Jerry Garcia is one of the great American vocalists. Especially on those two records, he has the weary wisdom and grace of Merle Haggard and something mysterious that always makes me think of ’50s/Verve-era Billie Holiday. (There is a Dead channel on the satellite radio, and it makes me wince unless it’s a track from those two records or one of Garcia’s clear-voiced solo records with folk or country-esque accompaniment.)
Here, via Dangerous Minds, is an hour-long set played by the band in 1971 at the Château d’Hérouville. The performance happened here because the festival they were booked to play got rained out. The audience consists of villagers and the socialist TV crew from Paris. I only listened to the numbers that Jerry Garcia sings, because personal preference is what it is. And in those, there is sadness and romance and that weird cowboy balance of rustic beauty and roiling apocalypse I get from my favorite Robert Hunter-Jerry Garcia songs.
The Grateful Dead were the saloon band for a Western Apocalypse we just barely avoided, by accident. I paid them no attention at all until a long debauched trip up Cottonwood Canyon in Death Valley when Reagan was still president and the news warned of a massive radiation cloud hitting the West Coast from the disaster at Chernobyl. My friends and I set up camp in a wide cave-like hole in the canyon’s western wall, the walls rising up to a perfect point, like an ancient church. Wild burros wandered by now and then, and the night sky’s eastern edge had yet to be yellowed by Las Vegas sprawl.
"Retreat" has come to mean a corporate or academic conference at a resort, because the most beautiful words are most prone to being poisoned, but songs like "Uncle John’s Band" and "Friend of the Devil" are songs of actual retreat, pulling back, licking wounds, adjusting to circumstance, making families out of whoever happened to be available and reasonably trustworthy. The West is romanticized not because of the industrialists who made fortunes "taming" the wild and arid lands for real-estate scams and importation of upstanding middle-class families and merchants from Iowa, but because of the characters forced to find refuge after the Gold Rush.
And that’s the report from a rainy San Francisco Sunday on this day of our lord, etc.
Let’s look back to 2008 and briefly tally up the score: No one has been sent to jail, lots of you are still out of work, very few of the errors that led to the collapse have been corrected, and I’m guessing that most of you haven’t even gotten a thank-you card for that time you donated $4.7 trillion of your own wealth to save the world.
Five years into the continuing economic crisis, Jason Linkins has put together this guide to the books (including fiction), movies and other media that told the story of the collapse that turned so many middle-class people into poor people.
My book Dignity made this list, hooray, and I found a lot of stuff I missed when it was published, like this piece by Alex Pareene.