For Amber Waves of Grain…


“…and Florida…we love Florida! And Tennessee! And Ohio, we’re beating the Governor there!  And Michigan, they love us there! The whole thing, it’s just….and we love Nevada! We won with the young! We won with the old!  We won with the highly educated. We won with the poorly educated. I love the poorly educated!  We’re the smartest people and we’re the most loyal people!  It’s going to be an amazing two months!  We might not need the two months!   We’re not going to be the people who are pushed around anymore…”

Yes. It’s happening.  With a greater ease and dispatch than anyone thought.  Trump is upon us, glad and big.

Mexico will build the wall. It’s gonna happen. They know it. You know it. We all know it. We have a trade deficit with Mexico. They will pay for it. We will be proud of our country again. We will Win Win Win.  We will love winning. 

Winning is a lovely sentiment. It would help a bit if the phrase hadn’t been trademarked by a guy with a straw permanently welded to his nostril and a call girl young enough to be his daughter under each arm.

melania trump

Maybe there’s just something about banging hot chicks that lends itself to joyous megalomania. One watches Trump addressing the arena and cant help but think prophetic literature has overtaken life and Willie Stark has, Pygmalion-like, been made flesh.

I have three observations:

a)  people want a functioning border wall to the United States.

b)  they hate the Establishment media in this country, and the prevailing ethos of political correctness which forecloses discussion of the above, among many, many other things.

c) people are hungry for an unapologetic American nationalism, and are willing to cheer for a very flawed man who is willing to stand up to (B) on behalf of (A).

All the old arguments and creeds have been snatched away by the gale force winds of these ignored truths.  Sometimes it’s just that simple.

This is an Altar Call for the Forgotten Man.

Mrs. UpintheValley and I were in West Hollywood last week, at uber-trendy Gracias Madre, and Trump was being discussed at the adjoining table in favorable terms. In WeHo!  The man’s female dinner companion remained skeptical.  “He’s gonna get something blown up somewhere, somehow, with that mouth of his…”

Mrs. U, reliably sensible in matters political, vows never to give her vote to a “blustering bully who speaks dismissively of other people”.   In absence of a champion for good manners, she hopes for a well-chosen running mate, followed by a fortuitous assassination.

Willie Stark, again.

I think I’ll have another beer.

Times Square, West

They come from Alabama
They come from Alabama
They come from China
They come from China
L. Ron Hubbards's people are waiting for them
The Scientologists are ready for them

Walking down Hollywood Blvd, I found it odd L. Ron Hubbard’s prolific output as a fantasy writer was prominently displayed in the window of a Church of Scientology building. One would think the keepers of an invented religion would not be so eager to advertise the showbiz origins of its “creator”. There’s a bit of Toto pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz going on here,  mere blocks from the Scientology Welcome Center, where they hook the suckers with the Free Personality Test.  Somehow it’s not hurting them. There’s a lot of bright lights and noise and misdirection on Hollywood Blvd.  Four blocks can be a long way.

Look Homeward, Angels


We hold on to the leash for her own good.  There are no internal limits on frolic, unless she learns them the hard way, which we don’t have the stomach for.  Impulsive joy will lead her past a point where she can find her scent home.  There will be freeways and fences between us.  There will be Parvo-ridden pools of stagnant water. There will be anti-freeze lurking in overturned hubcaps. Scorpions. Razor wire. Dognappers. Drainpipes which lead to tight corners in which she can’t turn around.

In the dark recurring dream I have from time to time, I finally find her on the other side of Sepulveda.  Catching sight of me, she bounds forward, ears back, happy and relieved,  into a charnel house of indifferent cars….


The bonds of restraint we can place on people are not so simple.  Short of incarceration, we rely on an admixture of love, shame and subsidy, in different portions, to guide people away from or toward their worst instincts.


After the RV, you’re down to the shopping cart.


After the shopping cart, you’re down to the rolling bucket on wheels.


When you can’t walk anymore, they call the paramedics to take you away.


Then one day your Mother can’t find you.  You’re gone.

The Trouble with Larry


Larry was clinging to the fence for support when we found him this afternoon, knees buckled, dog trembling at his feet. He professed bewilderment why he couldn’t stand, as though his own legs had been swapped out when he wasn’t looking and replaced with celery stalks.

Neither of us had seen him around the neighborhood before.

“I just need to get to Sepulveda. I can walk.”

But he couldn’t. I hoisted him to his feet twice, and he was unable to manage a step.  Purplish and gnarled toes poked from a pair of hospital-issue orthopedic slippers.  I asked him where he was headed to on Sepulveda.

He didn’t have a plan. A rolling suitcase and a tremulous whippet constituted his world entire.

A woman crossed the street and told us Larry had been staying at a sober living house at the end of the block. Today was his last day.  Larry, as you might already have guessed, was not sober. Yet one sensed his frailties were larger than could be resolved by a stay in a drunk tank.

On the way to the “sober house” the woman told us the neighbors had been discussing whether the facility was in legal compliance with residential zoning.  They were not happy to have it on their block.

A guy named Gary opened the door before we even knocked.

“Theres a guy collapsed on the corner…”

“Yeah, Larry.”

Gary offered to call the paramedics. The four of us walked back to the Dickensian tableau at the corner and I asked if Larry was being evicted for drinking. No, he was being evicted for non-payment of rent.

A fire department ambulance rolled up ten minutes later. They were weary of Larry at the sight of him. Not that they weren’t entirely professional about it, but you could see they had scraped one derelict too many off the sidewalk already on this tour and were in no mood for another.

There was just one problem: Larry didn’t want to go anywhere.  There was nothing wrong with him, you see.  He didn’t want to be billed. He didn’t want to lose his dog.   He was fine, and just needed to get to Sepulveda and didn’t know why everyone was making such a fuss, “why we were all doing this to him”.

“I’m going to ask you three questions Larry, if you can answer them, we’ll leave you alone.”

Larry didn’t know his own birthdate. He all also couldn’t stand.   They hoisted him on to the stretcher.  The dog climbed up into his lap and the firemen tucked them together into the bus.

Mrs. UpintheValley went into a minor panic about the dog. Would it be impounded when they got to the hospital? The firemen didn’t know.

Later she tracked them down at Valley Presbyterian. A kindly nurse explained Larry and the dog were fine, “Don’t worry. He’s here all the time.”

As a taxpayer, I was not happy to hear this.  As a Christian, I am conflicted. Many people seem to know a lot about Larry while wanting nothing to do with him.  After today, that would include Mr. and Mrs. U.  There’s a brigade of Larrys wandering the Valley now. Middle-aged, not elderly.  Bereft of family.  Unemployable, but not crazy.  Intoxicated, but not completely cracked out. My first inclination is to take a harsh stand against the shiftless and the parasitical. That might work when someone is 25. But these guys? I don’t know.

Perhaps the answer is a return of the alms house.   A place, neither hospital nor jail,  where the spiritually broken can tend to the garden of their own souls.  What the French called Hotel-Dieu. God’s Hotel.

Here Comes Tracy Flick


Cheap shot!   I couldn’t resist.   I actually like Marco a lot.  It’s hard not to. After Trump, and Bush, and the two geriatrics on the Democratic side, he can’t help but look a little Tracy-ish. Not that I’m implying anything!

If memory serves, Tracy wins the election and Matthew Broderick ends up a broken man, living in a basement apartment.  Make of it what you will.

No more politics for the rest of the week.