Friends, you would not believe how many deadlines I made today. Did you know you can hire me to do difficult work on short notice in exchange for exorbitant amounts of money? It’s true, especially the exorbitant part. It’s worth it, though, to hire the kind of writer who doesn’t miss deadline. How do I do it? Mostly by passing the savings on to you, the loyal Combat! blog reader, in the form of not posting. There is no blog today, because I have typed my fingers to the bone and cannot think anymore. While I immerse myself in the nonlinguistic world of fencing practice, how about you read this story about two real estate speculators who bought the street portion of one of San Francisco’s most expensive private streets? Tina Lam and Michael Cheng bought Presidio Terrace—home to multimillion-dollar mansions owned by congresspeople and other members of the ruling class—at auction for $90,000, after the homeowners association failed to pay a $14 annual tax for several years running. Now Lam and Cheng are they’re trying to decide what to do with it. Ideas include charging residents for parking or just selling the street back to them for a gajillion dollars. Given the broader socio-economic environment of San Francisco, I’m tempted to call this irony. It’s probably just late capitalism feeding on itself, though. Either way, it’s nice to see the commodification of land biting the investor class, for once. We’ll be back tomorrow with something more substantial.
One of the most reliable depressants of the past nine months has been thinking about the kind of system Donald Trump rises to the top of. What sort of milk do we swim in, if he is the cream? The ready explanations are that America is a nation of morons, hucksters or, most alarmingly, both. It’s scary to consider. The fear we are talking about here is fear of culture. Conservatives have conspired with centrist newspaper columnist to make “culture war” the call of the nincompoop, but we do care where our culture goes, don’t we? There must be ways to make it better, such as reading, and probably ways to make it worse, such as stepsibling-themed pornography. Today is Friday, and kulturkampf is raging whether we enlist or not. Won’t you take a picnic basket up the hill with me?
This whole time I’ve been saying pardon me as though it were a polite imperative, as in [please] pardon me. Now I find out it’s a declarative sentence, [I] pardon me. Once again, my exemplar is Donald Trump. Entering his 70s as a famous billionaire who recently became president of the United States, he is naturally preoccupied by technicalities of criminal law. For example: Can he pardon himself? [Long silence where he does not ask how people would remember that.] Great, look into it. [Watches several hours of TV in front of guy whose girlfriend’s roommate writes for the Washington Post.] Today is Friday, and right and wrong mean nothing even in the public imagination. Won’t you excuse yourself with me?
Remember yesterday, when I gleefully promised you Friday Links today? I even used an exclamation point. It just goes to show you should never deploy those things, because I must waste my day in remunerative labor. Sorry champ. On the plus side, it’s 100 degrees in Missoula. The trees drip sap. Cats sprawl in the high grass. My neighbor who spends all day on the front porch in his underwear has nowhere to go, literally and figuratively. I stay inside and type, periodically looking at the dessicated grass and wondering what might have been. Oh, life. It’s too hot today.
I am snowed under around here, figuratively and damn near literally. While Combat! blog slept off an inordinate quantity of work last night, Missoula got a couple inches of snow. It was 85 this time last week. For the second year in a row, my lilac bush has taken a brutal beating, and dazzling mountain springtime has lapsed back into drear. Every year, I learn the same hard lesson—don’t trust spring—and every year I forget. Speaking of lessons repeatedly unlearned, President Trump put out another scandal yesterday. Perhaps you heard that he tried to get James Comey to call off the investigation of Michael Flynn. That’s obstruction, right? This one has to be the one that brings him down. Yet part of me thinks it won’t matter. Maybe it’s just the pervasive sense of unreality that the Trump presidency has generated, but I have become scandal fatigued. I have a hard time believing that anything can derail the Trump train before it pulls us all over the edge of a cliff. Either way, though, we’re watching history. This is either the unfolding of a Watergate-style meltdown or the beginning of the era when literally nothing that happens matters to American democracy. We live in interesting times.