Karenocracy

Safety theater at Runyon Canyon.

We were already an unhealthy people in March 2020. Fat, sedentary, drug taking and prone to melancholy. In 18 months we have become significantly unhealthier on direct instructions from the government. Stay home. Wear a face diaper. Live in isolation. Here’s some money, order in.  Be alone. Pestilence is all about. You are the vector of pestilence. Hide your murder breath. Don’t gather in one place like the idiots of MAGA country. Are you unhappy? Here’s a pill. Live in your underwear. Keep a pair of door pants at the ready for delivery people.  Don’t go to school.  See your sad reflection in a Zoom grid. Stare at your face for hours every day while pretending to learn. Here’s another six months of checks. Hit the app. Have the little people bring you things. Give Silicon Valley control of your headspace. Stream everything. Pay people to talk to you to fight the sad.

93,331 overdose deaths in 2020.  Three more on the floor in Venice this weekend, plus the wonderful Michael K. Williams in New York.

Since the pestilence from the Wuhan Institute of Virology reached our city, Los Angeles has handed down edicts in the name of our collective safety like a factotum from a Terry Gilliam movie. Masks. Social distancing. Disinfecting surfaces. The utility of these measures in preventing infection are marginal.  Airborne coronaviruses find a way.  They burn through the population in a given area in a two-month conflagration then wither for want of new hosts. New variants come along later and we repeat the process. Sweden is the best real-time experiment we have lockdowns may not significantly alter the ultimate outcome.

What would have helped us? Hardening one’s immune system. Dropping to a healthy weight. Improved lung function. Cardio. Vitamin D.  Among people under 65, obesity is the greatest co-morbidity, 78% of hospitalizations.

Two words:  Runyon Canyon. Get on the trail. Clear your head. Enjoy the eye candy. Stand on the ridge top like a philosopher king and contemplate the city of your youth. Turn and face the Valley of your now. Be anti-fragile. De-mask yourself and smile at your passing brethren.  Give them your face so they may give you theirs and you both may carry each other home and know you are not alone.

What a headf**k  it is to discover this week L.A. is doing all it can -still!- to restrain the public from walking there. Is it closed? Not exactly. The parking lot is closed. Most of the street parking on Mulholland has been taken away.  The main gates are closed. There are two doors, one at the top, the other on Vista, that are left unlocked. So it’s not like you literally can’t enter but the City sure makes you feel its disapproval.

What free people would stand for this? Where did this deference to grasping bureaucrats come from?

Everyone from Fauci to power-tripping LA County Health Director and fake MD Barbara Ferrer should have been pushing vigorous immune health from the beginning. How much would that have cost? Bupkis. For lack of profit it is a solution that dare not speak its name.  What would be the downside risk? There isn’t any. One can still become sick, of course, but the ability of the virus to overwhelm you is greatly diminished.  You can still push vaccines. But first, build the foundation.  Much can be accomplished in 18 months through incremental persistent changes in diet and exercise.

Here’s a data point for you all. Since Wuhan began, I have had over 2000 people in my car in various states of masking: correctly, incorrectly, hanging below the nose, under the chin, discarded altogether, talking, coughing, burping and laughing.  I lower my mask to sip water. I chew gum. I talk to people. The odds I have not come into contact with aerosolized Wuhan particles, that my lungs have not been breached, are remote. Negligible I would argue.

I have not had so much as a sore throat. I am neither superhuman, nor exceptionally lucky.  What I am is healthy (also vaxed, as of May). I spent much of the past year working outside, hiking and biking and on occasion, running.  This was a choice any of us can make. I’ve been the overweight guy, prone to melancholy. That didn’t work for me.

Our solution is not a pill. Nor is it the defenestration of the CEO of Sweetgreen for daring to say the hospitalization rate of Wuhan was driven by the “underlying problem” of obesity, then abase himself in a forced apology. Nor is it wishing Joe Rogan an early death for stating on his podcast he overcame the Delta variant in three days using Ivermectin and monoclonal antibodies.

Coronaviruses are endemic. They are with us now and will be for the rest of the lives. We have flu strains floating around dating back to 1918. The real questions before us are not viral ones. They are matters of social control.

How much liberty are we going to yield to those who would prefer us fat, sedentary and compliant? America was not designed to be a bio-medical security state, but we are building one now.

What are we going to do about it? You will be put to the question, like it or not. It will find you, even when you are out riding your bike.

At the Crossroads

Things we’ve been told are true and cannot be questioned:
The solution to drug addiction and mental illness is free housing.Homeless housing cannot be a Quonset hut. It must cost $500K per unit.
Looting is speech.
Not putting handcuffs on black people will lead to better outcomes for the black community.
State mandated inactivity will protect you from the Wuhan virus.
Every infectious disease from Lyme to Ebola is named for its geographic origin, but Wuhan must be called Covid, because racism.
Also, disagreeing with the CCP is racist.
Disagreeing with the diktats of corporations wishing to do business with the CCP…extra racist.
You can catch the Wuhan virus walking by yourself outdoors in the sunshine without a mask.
You can catch it from door knobs. Everything must be de-sanitized multiple times a day.
Everyone must stand six feet apart, masked and mute. No large public gatherings.
Unless it’s a BLM rally. Or looting. Then the science doesn’t apply.
The first cases emerged from inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but a lab leak hypothesis is a conspiracy theory.
Only crazy Trump people would say such a thing. De-platform them all.
Dr. Fauci would never fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab.
Okay, so he did. It would have been a “dereliction of duty” to have not done so.
But Ivermectin is unsafe as a prophylaxis against Wuhan.
If you say otherwise in Senate testimony YouTube will de-platform you. Because Merck.
The limits of free speech should be proscribed by organizations and unelected bodies outside U.S soil.  Also, corporations.
Merck administered 4 billion doses of Ivermectin globally while under patent. Now in the public domain, it is ‘unsafe’.
Taiwan is not a nation but a rogue province of China.
Just ask John Cena.

A little something YouTube will not be taking down.
They’re the experts on truth. Not you.

This diminution of citizenship has crept up on us quickly, if imperceptibly. Our willingness to defer to authority for the benefit of all has been weaponized by forces that recognize no limiting principle. Ask yourself: why are you being told to apologize all the time now? Why are the parameters of acceptable speech disqualifying what was the majority opinion day before yesterday? Who is doing this? Why have we ceded that authority? The slippery slope pundits referenced when American politics was vanilla and operated within recognizable 20 yard lines? Yeah, that’s gone now. We’re at the bottom of the ice crevice, with a bump on our head, looking up at a sliver of sky, but we can’t find purchase.  The only way out is through.

What does “through” mean, in this post-Constitutional moment? I’m not sure. The picture at the top of the page I took in Mendocino county, walking near the Eel River on a road with less than hundred people in an area as large as the San Fernando Valley. This Little Free Library stood at a crossroads between the river and a field, an artifact of Jeffersonian America.  I thought of all the Little Free Libraries around Los Angeles, and the universal desire to share knowledge with strangers.  Therein perhaps is a path forward. To be anti-fragile as a nation begins with personal anti-fragility.  Thinking for oneself, the way the Founders intended. De-coupling one’s understanding of Truth from one’s curated feed. Of no longer being a prisoner to an algorithm.  Returning to paper, if you will.

Is The Worm Turning?

This is overdue.  Dodger Stadium is at only 25% of capacity. Imagine the sound of a full house.   Louder, please. Everywhere we go.

God bless Vancouver.  Californians were once like this.  Now they’re in Texas.  Not all of them, praise the lord.  Some of us are still around.  We keep the memory of liberty with us like a beloved and well-worn pair of work boots we can’t throw away. Rise and shine now, from our stony sleep.

Gaslighting of America

This was NoHo, two months ago

How long did they think a free people were going to accept this?  Now that warm weather is here again and we are approaching herd immunity, oh, how the little Commissars of Public Good, the unaccountable issuers of edicts desire this belle epoque of Maximum Karen to continue.

We will have a vaccine before the end of 2020, said the President Who Shall Not Be Named. Nonsense, declaimed the doctors of Twitter medicine on cable news. The week after the election it was announced we had two.  Everyone will be vaccinated by April, said President W.S.N.B.N. Oh please, said the blue checkmarked Experts. Not a chance. Fact check! This week Biden announced 90% of Americans will have a vaccine available by April 19th, within five miles of where they live.

There is a preference cascade about to happen. People are on the verge of de-masking themselves.  Without permission. With the edifice of Soviet-level disinformation crumbling, what is Karen, Inc. to do?  Hmmm…oh I know, new strains! Mutations, from dark and distant continents. Not scary enough? Try this. The vaccine may not work after six months, a year…some point in the future.  If everything just re-opens, how will we incentivize people to do what we say?

A passport.  Yes, a vaccine passport, for safety. To enter all places of business. To travel. To attend school or have dinner. To partake of America, first display your checkmark of good citizenship.

The architecture is already in place, on your phone. So convenient!  Now the vaccine is no longer tied to health, it is tied to freedom. Take it away, Naomi Wolf:

“…it’s not about virus, it’s the data. The vaccine is an excuse, a Trojan Horse, to get you to agree to a platform that is ALREADY 360 degree surveillance, geolocation, turns society off and on.
“Once this platform is ‘mandated’ you can no longer opt in or out of out as you do when you sign ‘I agree’ to terms and conditions on a website. You’ll be FORCED to ‘agree’ in order to work, socialize, travel. Then any functionality – social credit system that turns PayPal off..”

Naomi is a lefty. I can’t tell you how refreshing this is.  One of the unexpected oddities of 2020 was the exodus of dissent liberals from woke media to the Substack platform: Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Andrew Sullivan and Bari Weiss…to make a fearless witness against the perfidy of woke cancel culture.

Remember, we off-gas data from our phones perpetually. Think of your digital ghost as a form of opposition research against yourself. The virtual You is in the hands of five corporations with a clear political agenda and a willingness to act on it.  They have already assembled a social credit score for you in all but name. They have used it to make money off you for years, now they will use it against you to implement restraints on behalf of government bureaucrats. Restraints which the government is prohibited from enacting.

This is the passport, ladies and gentlemen. When they ask, show them this.

Now take your mask off.  You’re being gaslighted.

Prisoners

A Zoom neighborhood, at rush hour

We have reached the one year anniversary of 15 Days to Flatten the Curve.    Which, let’s be honest, has been a nationwide exercise in poor people delivering pleasures to the wealthy and privileged. Indefinitely.

A year of “journalists” berating the little people on behalf of billionaires and government workers and the professional classes.

A year of dhimmitude and mask theater and gaslighting.

A year of Karen screaming at people going about their business, outdoors, bothering no one.

Having surrendered sovereignty to unaccountable and hypocritical actors, how does one bloom in the new Post-Constitutional America™?

I think about this when I encounter trees growing in confined spaces.  Some species do better than others. They reach deeper into the soil. They break the concrete around them. Consider this liberty in action. Reach deeper. Don’t ask permission.

The alternative looks like this.

Be anti-fragile.  Bloom from the weephole in the scorching concrete.  Don’t ask permission.  Stop submitting.  Don’t be a prisoner.  Reach for the light. Take your mask off.

Like this guy.

Breaking Apples


Two years ago, UTLA went out on strike for a 6% pay increase and Vista Middle School was selected as one of the sites for a picket line. As a neighbor and husband of a teacher, I walked up there in an act of skeptical solidarity, to see how the shakedown of Los Angeles taxpayers was progressing.

What struck me at the time was the amount of honking support they received from passing cars in working-class Latino Van Nuys.

The outcome was preordained. The union banged the spoon and L.A. surrendered everything it wanted.   Plus seconds. And dessert. What followed was Soviet-era astroturfed propaganda from UTLA bathing in the adulation of a grateful public, paid for by…the same public, who had no say in the matter.

Fast forward to 2020, and to the Wuhan virus.  In a time of shared sacrifice and difficulty, guess who didn’t want to report to work and had the power not to do so and to be paid anyway?

Only 36% of students in L.A. Unified regularly engaged in distance learning, i.e. turned in homework and completed tests, i.e., received an education.  This is desertion in the face of the enemy.  It would be bad to do this to kids for a semester. For three semesters in a row, across two academic years?

Suffice to say, this is not what schools are doing in China. Or Korea. Or Europe. Or Texas.  This is not what is happening at the prep school where Mrs. UpintheValley teaches.

Getty Images

What if Wuhan isn’t killing people so much as breaking America as we once understood it? What if the pandemic is a political toxin in medical drag?

To judge it by its works, if you were told a year ago that one-third of small businesses would be put to death by government policy, would you have believed me?  What if I said the richest men in America would see their fortunes expand by 50%, also due to government policy? That the educational divide between public and private schools would become unbridgeable? That the tectonic plates between those who could telecommute and the service class who delivered their comforts would shift to the point they no longer touched? That the chief beneficiary of these changes would be China itself, which would exercise a veto over the discussion of pandemic origins by dangling the carrot of access to its markets? That the infrastructure of think tanks and academic departments which might serve as a bulwark of market critique would be revealed to be funded by China? That Zoom would become indispensable to our work life and TikTok embedded in our play and both would be Chinese owned? That teenagers in Wuhan would be throwing Lollapalooza-sized pool parties while Americans cowered in masks in the outdoors, fearing a scold of Karens. That bureaucrats would presume extra-constitutional powers. That the first amendment would become fully fungible to corporate diktats. That every cable network would maintain a death clock that magically disappeared with the departure of Trump, the first president to renegotiate trade agreements with China in terms more favorable to American workers, if only slightly.

A more fearless America, during the 1969 Swine flu

That’s a lot of damage for 12 months. We can’t do much about geopolitical arrangements, but we can do something about Vista Middle School.  We know a few things we didn’t know a year ago. Children are not at risk and are low vectors of transmission. Teachers are not retail workers.  They can temp check every child who enters the building. They can demand plexiglass barriers and daily disinfection of classrooms. They can also accept the reciprocal obligations of public service to the working-class Van Nuysians who supported them when they were banging the spoon for more money.

Erocide, USA

America 2020, waiting for tokens

Suppose you woke one morning to find yourself inside a sci-fi film…

…where no one was allowed to show their face in public. Everyone had to stand six feet apart and line up in rows for basic goods and services.  Most small businesses were closed by government policy but corporate chains like Target were declared essential and prospered.  People who couldn’t telecommute were paid to be idle.  Paid more than what they were earning before the movie started.

No one was allowed to name the virus or its point of origin. To say the words Wuhan or Chinese or was to self-denounce as racist and risk de-platforming.  The limits of speech were proscribed by three tech companies in San Francisco which made no apologies.  Without an ability to organize online, resistance dwindled.   People were bribed with their own money to be docile (TBC: their children’s future earnings)  and they accepted it.   They gave the minutiae of their lives to Chinese software.  They streamed webcams on 5G internet switching from Huawei. They made TikTok videos and attended Zoom cocktail parties.

Drug dealers and pizza delivery and porn prospered.  The fat and unhappy got a little fatter and unhappier than they were already.  Main Street declined, the stock market boomed. In the name of safety the media normalized this, then the rest of us. We agreed to be faceless in public.  There are no emojis IRL to hint at irony or dissent.

Schools were closed to in-person instruction.  Students pretended to attend online and were handed “diplomas” in the form of yard signs. They queued up in cars for graduation while teachers danced and waved goodbye.

On any given day only 36% of middle and high school students in Los Angeles participated, i.e., submitted work, took tests, posted on a discussion board.  Another 25% logged on, but didn’t participate.  40% never showed up at all.

Knowing the kill rate on distance learning was 64%, the teacher’s union refused to return to the classroom in the fall.   They had terms:

1% wealth tax
1% millionaire tax
3.3% income tax raise
$250 million federal bailout
A moratorium on charter schools
Paid sick leave for parents of sick kids
Defunding of police
Medicare for all
Homeless housing as a “right”

That these wishes were not politically possible, or virus related, was beside the point. With taxpayer money, UTLA erected hagiographic billboards to celebrate their refusal to report for duty.

In China, the teachers and students reported for class. In Sweden, they never closed.

If you are a really well-off Chinese businessman you fly your kid to Los Angeles and pay $40,000 to send them to the prep school where Mrs. UpintheValley teaches.   You get in-depth, hands-on instruction from her. You get an entire software package designed by her.  So do the children of the American professional classes and entertainers and professional athletes. The parents of unnamed prep school voted 70% to return to the classroom and were only prevented from doing so by Gov. Newsom. The minute waivers are allowed, the kids will return.   Until then, there is a brisk side business for private tutoring at $135/hr.

If you thought the country was divided by privilege before, what does it look like now?  Have another stimulus check. Consult Weedmaps. Buy porn tokens. Those girls in the top picture are America. They can be bought. It says so in their Twitter feed.  Tell me how this movie ends.

Gratitude in Wuhantide

I’m eating steel cut oats this morning on the brick patio, fully nude, presenting my uncurated self to the sun,  and the new neighbor behind me, the one who doesn’t do autobody work or landscaping or hump boxes at TJ’s, the one who works in the music industry,  the one who peeked over the bamboo in April to say how much he admired my deck and with whom I made tentative plans to invite over for wine on said deck once, you know, the lockdown craziness had passed...is also on his patio this morning,  talking on the phone:

Do you know what the Magna Carta was? You think you do, but you don’t.
There were two. Most people don’t know that.
The secret Magna Carta was a way for the Royal family to collect money from countries the world over.
They’re richer than anyone knows. You are paying them money without knowing.
The Windsor family owns most of Los Angeles.  No, they do! Accept it.

It has been that kind of summer.  I wander naked, oatmeal bowl in hand, eavesdropping on conspiracy theories and call it Wednesday.

We can’t agree on the facts anymore, so we create entertainment to explain our world.   We burrow inward like the polyphagous shot-hole borer, lay our larvae, and let our fungus devour the tree from the inside. Two years after the pestilence, the sweetgums are falling all over my neighborhood this summer.

The Beautiful Young Man who Meditates could not be more at peace as he informs Mrs. UpintheValley, from a lotus position atop a car hood, the virus was invented for the purposes of installing tracking devices on everyone.

Los Angeles is getting a little autistic now, four months in. By robbing ourselves of facial cues behind our masks we can longer discern irony or return smiles. We fall into suspicion without exchanging words.   We make sport of denunciation.  We look inside our phones for the smoking gun proving the Other Side crazy.

The underlying facts remain unchanged, even if we don’t accept them. The virus will be lethal to 80-year-olds and obese diabetics.  The rest of us not so much, and on a declining scale of risk. Children not at all. So, by all means, close the schools. Let us have governmentally-inflicted entertainment; let’s put a tub of popcorn on the stove for Fear Porn II: The Return of Newsom.     

We deserve to be painted by Brueghel or Bosch.

What to do with this weird unrequested time-out?  Your early resentment at the induced economic coma is now a bit more philosophical. You decide to make a gift of it.  You make an abundance of your mornings.  There is nothing stopping you from creative projects. You are fertile in the afternoon, foraging for cuttings to propagate the yard, at least one per day.  You find rocks in the riverbed for the garden.   You finish the driveway and the retaining wall and it is glorious. You read Joan Didion, seeking a historical mirror, an interpreter of the weirdness, but can’t get past the fact she rented a 12 room mansion in Runyon Canyon on a magazine writer’s pay.  You try binge-watching House of Cards, and it already feels like an artifact of another era.  You shift to The Great, Hulus irreverent take on Imperial Russia, and huzzah, it hits the mark.  Portentously.

You ride your bike from Culver to Redondo -crowded beaches and wait time for patio tables- and note the general mask defiance. The following weekend you try the familiar haunts of downtown and find full mask compliance and a city on life support and mostly closed.   Skid Row remains in full bloom, giving the street parade a harder edge than normal. You wonder where the loft people are. Upstairs living off DoorDash, or out of town?  Has an exodus begun?   What of all the unfinished condo conversion?  You sense billions swirling the drain.

On the return home, you stop at MacLeod for a four-pack of Doubled Over Happy.  You adjourn to the upstairs deck, erected in a frenzy of inspiration only to be underutilized. The wisteria has grown over the trellis, providing full shade. There are always breezes. You have spent a good deal of time up there this summer, fertile and creative, closing a circle on a project started years before.

Tis a great bounty, this deck, prized by your own labor.  Unlike so many Sunday returns through the Cahuenga pass you are grateful for what you have. You feel advantaged to be living in the Valley. Gratitude snuck up on you while looking elsewhere.

A Short Walk From Emily’s House

I encountered this guy around the corner yesterday. He had wandered into the neighborhood from Sepulveda, sweaty and disheveled, muttering on the curb as he loaded his crack pipe…unfettered by self-consciousness, so deep was he into the finger rituals of addiction.

Like my beloved Los Angeles, he was in a state of nervous prostration.  A herald of self-destruction. It made me think of our three-month bender of submission to safetyism and power-tripping bureaucrats.   So many of us remain insensible to reason. Hopeful data do not appease us. Hard facts of morbidity do not move us. We’re all Emily Dickinson now, cowering at the top of the stairs.  We hide behind our duty masks and wait for someone else to be the first to defy authority, lest we are ratted out on social media.

When we take the full measure of the economic damage inflicted upon ourselves and face with clear eyes our willingness to swallow propaganda from a garden hose we will look back on this time as one of madness. We will tell our children by way of explanation for the debt we hand them, forgive us, it was sort of like we were smoking crack. 

“I am growing handsome very fast indeed! I expect I shall be the belle of Amherst when I reach my 17th year. I don’t doubt that I will have crowds of admirers…”  When admirers failed to appear, roaring disappointment contracted Emily’s world. She ventured no further than the garden gate, then the sitting room, finally her bedroom, where she retreated for the remainder of her life.  Amherst became that terra incognita signified on ancient flat earth maps by sea dragons.

“A prison gets to be a friend,” Dickinson famously said.  As we emerge from the lockdown, will our pent up creative energies prevail,  will the animal spirits of commerce revive fully intact, or will we find ourselves diminished somehow? Marked by a limp?  Will we embrace a newly discovered weakness?

Here Are The Rules…

Liberty, meet nemesis

My beloved Los Angeles has crossed the rubicon. The stay in your house,  keep the economy on life support,  we love telling the little people what to do ethos has been made semi-permanent. The Wuhan virus restrictions shall remain in place until there is a “cure”.  Because science this woman says so.

And this guy.

What began in the name of flattening the curve now continues in perpetuity, or until there is a vaccine.  That’s not the premise we began with, is it?   See how quickly that happened?  Once surrendered, civil liberties are not easily regained.

In all likelihood, there will not be a vaccine before the end of the year. It is possible we may never have one.  There has never been a cure for the flu or any other variant of coronavirus.   There is only mitigation.

A warm climate and car-oriented sprawl prevented a spike in the curve in Los Angeles. So what now is a power-tripping, virtue-signaling bureaucrat to do?

Mandatory Face Coverings!  Anywhere outside your house! Let a militia of Karens go forth to inform on their neighbors…

The LA Times continues to act as though its proper role is that of Mayor Garcetti’s PR firm: “Here Are The Rules” squeals the headline proclaiming his new dispensation. No questions of why, or how long, or what data is underpinning the decision making.  No mediating of the public interest, just diktat from court eunuchs.

Let us ask a few questions the Times is incapable of.

-We have never before quarantined healthy people.  Why are we doing it now?
-In March, we were told masks were unnecessary. We were also told specifically to go forth and enjoy the sunshine.  Why now the masks and restrictions?
-Our only lasting defense, absent a vaccine, is herd immunity. The lockdown prevents that. Show the math that proves we will be healthier at years end without it.
-Has any disease ever successfully been locked away in a cupboard?
-Are the secondary health outcomes of lockdown: depression, substance abuse, sedentary behavior and delayed preventative care, exacting a greater cost than the virus itself?
-If the risk pool is easily identifiable: i.e.; 80-year-olds and obese people with co-morbidities, why isn’t the quarantine limited to them?
-Why are the 58,000 homeless people in LA exempt from the rules, and what does the absence of an outbreak among them tell us?
-Gov. Newsom has set a benchmark of “no deaths for two weeks” before strictures can be lifted. Is such a target possible? What statutory power is he drawing from?
-There are clinical findings coming in daily from around the world that contradict WHO/CDC guidance. Why is clinical data labeled “misinformation” if it is found to be effective?

Speaking of eunuchs…here’s Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania health czar, mandating, as did New York, nursing homes accept Wuhan virus patients. But not before removing her own mother from a nursing home.  In what dystopian novel did the villains look like this?

Los Angeles is two cities now.  Elites who work from home and rely on delivery while mocking the concerns of the rest of us who have to mix with others in order to obtain a living.   For how long is that sustainable, even in a one-party state?

Mr. UpintheValley is full of questions today.