A Postcard from Sorosville

So here’s a small data point in our current disintegration.  I ordered an item from Lululemon, a feminine wife-flattering thing.

Given the supply chain constraints, there was suspense as to whether it would arrive in time for Christmas, a tiny leaf floating in the River Ganges of holiday commerce from Groveport, Ohio to Hardin, MO to Mayfield, KS to Canyon, TX to Topock, AZ…dots on the railroad map, clocking in every 12 hours, before disappearing the night of Dec. 23rd at an undisclosed location on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

The shipping container, or its contents, never made it to the distribution hub. For eleven days, radio silence. Then an alert from FedEx the item was at long last on a delivery truck in Sun Valley.

Eleven days sounds to me like they sent a new package across the country. Theoretically, the shipping container itself could have been misrouted in the intermodal transport system.  I find this explanation on a low order of probability.

A differential diagnosis suggests it was waylaid by package pirates in Lincoln Heights. Or the other banditry choke point, outside Pomona.

Ninety containers are compromised (read: broken into) per day.

Union Pacific has made “over 100 arrests of active criminals vandalizing trains” in L.A. County. Per a special directive from D.A. George Gascon all were released within 24 hours. Of the arrests, none to date have resulted in court proceedings.

Add train robbery to the growing list of unenforced felonies in Sorosville.  A pry bar, bolt cutters and a willingness to climb a slow moving flat car and you too can be Butch Cassidy.

It’s baked into the price of everything we do now.  So let us break out the world’s tiniest violin for Mrs. UpintheValley’s late arriving gift.  As I said, a small thing, a mere data point in a sea of annoyance. There are families with real grief this week.

Sandra Shells, ER nurse, attacked without provocation at a bus stop at Union Station, succumbed to a brain bleed after her head struck the pavement.

Brianna, unrequited martyr?

Brianna Kupfer, an architecture grad student knifed to death in Croft House, an upscale boutique on La Brea Avenue, mid-afternoon.

Money was not a motive in either attack. Straight murder, nasty, brutish and pointless.

The killer, masked, backpack and hoodie, anonymous and indistinguishable from the army of shambling street people is as of this writing still at large. I will go on record now and predict he has been in custody and released without sentencing for other crimes in the past two years, probably more than once.

Brianna calls to mind Polly Klaas, all grown up. If ever there was a designated victim tailor-made to galvanize the public into a ferocious response it is she. If ever there was a face to push Westside liberals off the sidelines, to make them stakeholders in the unfolding tragedy they helped to set in motion, this is it.

I’m not sure it’s going to happen. Los Angeles of the 90s had the moral sense to boo Robert Shapiro at the Laker game during the O.J. trial, to vote for broken windows policing and three strikes laws.  It had a very different media. It didn’t have out of town billionaires writing checks to install our carpetbagging fashionista D.A.

The man in the tailored suit who swore an oath uphold the law had this to say: “The reality is that we go through these cycles, and we go through the cycles for a variety of reasons … In many ways we cannot prosecute our way out of social inequalities, income inequalities, the unhoused, the desperation that we have.” 

Prosecution is exactly how we rid ourselves of this scourge. Inequality, however defined, and housing status will be with us always.

Being right is of no use at the moment.  It has little persuasive value. It has no name in the street. Persuasion is in the hands of an ever smaller coterie of people who own/curate our media feed. They simply cannot afford to let Brianna become Polly.

Counterintuitively, working class strongholds like Van Nuys might be at an advantage right now. We’re not a soft target. We see you coming.

Squeal Points

AFP/ Getty Images

There’s a guy on our street who likes to open the trunk of his car, roll down the windows, turn the bass up to 11, then go into the house to drink beer with his sound system parked in the driveway, rattling windows to the end of the block.  On a Tuesday morning.  He does this frequently.  The house is a rental, paid for by the government. The owner lives in the Hollywood Hills. Somebody had enough and called the police with a noise complaint.

“We’ll send a patrol car over,” said the LAPD.

Two hours later, no police.   Okay, perhaps not the most pressing issue the LAPD has on its hands.  Then again, it’s a weekday morning in the Valley. How much action can there be?

Have we crossed the rubicon beyond which quality of life issues are no longer enforced?  Or do we have a supply chain problem in public safety?

Fewer people are willing to be cops anymore. Urban cops. During the summer of George Floyd, young men delighted in going nose to nose with police lines for the benefit of cameras:

Punk ass bitch.
Make a move, Opie.
Where you gun, 5-0?
Whatcha gonna do, bitch?
Cracka.

The cop is required to be unflappable, at parade rest,  in a mimicry of boredom while aerosolized spittle pocks his face. Cell phones record his every twitch, waiting on the slightest crack in composure. Black cops? Even worse. Uncle Tom. Why you cooning? 

Raise the cost on enforcing laws enough and below a certain level they won’t be enforced anymore.   This is the squeal point.

Gadsden flag on the tarmac

The Biden administration, because it is totally, absolutely not authoritarian and only here to restore our democratic norms, is telling every company in America to fire vax-resisting workers six weeks before Christmas. Blue state governors and local officials, eager to play along, have similar mandates.

Because Americans are a free people, essential workers are pushing back. Nurses. Truckers. Railroad engineers. Cops and firemen. Sheriff Alex Villaneuva isn’t enforcing the mandate, so now the county has to fire 25% of its uniformed personnel. Only it hasn’t done so yet. They supervisors keep delaying. In New York, the fire department has 18 fire houses unmanned this week, the squads on unpaid leave. Garbage is piling up in the street after Mayor DeBlasio laid off 20% of the Sanitation workers.

Two weeks ago the pilots of Southwest Airlines staged a sick-out, resulting in the cancellation of 2000 flights. The CEO blamed it on anything but the the vax mandate, before quietly dropping vaccination requirements.  Then over Halloween weekend American Airlines cancelled 1,500 flights due to “high wind gusts” and…staffing shortages.

Union Pacific just dropped its vax mandate when 44% of railroad workers refused to comply.

The squeal point works in two directions.

Today America is the snail on the edge of a straight razor with edicts being handed down, then ignored. Then threatened again, and postponed once more.

There’s a financial economy and then there’s the real economy and logistics is the field on which they meet.

Kyrie Irving, integrity in motion

Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets is forgoing a $35 million salary and a chance at a championship ring on a super team that was built for him.

“To him, this is about a grander fight than the one on the court and Irving is challenging a perceived control of society and people’s livelihood, according to sources with knowledge of Irving’s mindset.”

“Kyrie wants to be a voice for the voiceless,” a source told The Athletic. 

The smart money says Kyrie will fold.  When the Nets begin to make a run, and he’s on the couch getting fat, and all of the Big Apple is blaming him for denying the city its first NBA title since 1973, he won’t be able to hold out.

It’s only been three weeks, but so far Kyrie is sticking to principle. He’s losing more money per day than most of us will make in a year.

Today the L.A. vaccine mandate goes into effect and today is the day I stop spending money in my beloved Los Angeles. My impact won’t be Kyrie-like in scale, but it will be felt, in the aggregate.

We should each of us think seriously what our squeal point might be, and why, and then try to hold out a little longer. If the state prevails on this, there will be no limiting principle to freedom of movement, of association, or commerce.

After that, its going to be Irish democracy, the refuge of a conquered people.