We hung out at the Angel City Brewery. I like hipsters. I mean now is a really good time to be a hipster. It's peacetime.
There was a bluegrass band, there were about 12 different kinds of beer on tap, all suitably microbrewed. I had the darker nitrogen ale. People brought their dogs, their flipflops and their retro glasses. There were chessboards, Jenga and darts. And ping pong table over in the corner next to.. wait for it.. beanbag. Lots of 20somethings and a brazilian taco truck outside. The doorman wore upside-down Ray Bans and there were girls on roller-skates. The atmosphere was perfect.
Doc and D, his wife were there with Pops and I. I had a couple of ground beef pastels too. We talked about Lovecraft and Robert Browning and TED and The Long Now and Doc's writing projects and battling Federal agencies and farming and getting offline and Airstream trailers and weird dogs and Ferraris and Nazi slogans and asceticism and food riots and the coming American civil war.
I don't think there will be another civil war. I think we're too lazy and there's really not enough at stake. Doc thinks that 30 million more Mexicans is all it will take and we'll go to shit. I probably agree. I took the eastern route to downtown and drove behind a Chevy Avalanche the Mexican driver of which threw several handfuls of trash out of his window as we drove down San Pedro Blvd. This act reminded me of something Victor Davis Hanson wrote about how America is a paradise for people who are escaping hell. So what's a little trash? Drive around that neighborhood, you'll see that the people don't mind it so much. I don't think many Mexicans today come to America to make anything more than a better life for themselves, but that doesn't make it a First World Standard. I mean Puff Daddy is making Frank Sinatra money. Do you think he cares about the kind of standards Old Blue Eyes sang? Nope. Wait. Is it OK for me to say such things? Do you feel the transgression here?
I sat through the second lecture today in my FCC Technician class. It was really moving for me to be retaught the kinds of things my dad taught me 35 years ago about variable capacitors, diodes and Ohm's Law. There's almost 400 questions in the pool to get a license to operate a ham radio, but any idiot can do texting. When the earthquake hits and the cell towers are shut down, all the idiots will be out of luck,and what took me 10 hours to learn on a couple Saturdays could be all the difference.
You see, our cities are idiot proof. That means you get to have the benefits of the material wealth of the American middle class, but of course we keep lowering the bar and waiving the ethics tests. You don't have to be physically fit. All the curbs are cut for your wheelchairs. All the 800 numbers are bilingual. For those of us US Persons that an 8th grade education is something to brag about, rest assured that there are political advocates who will agitate for your equality in all things. The California Legislature recently passed a bill allowing illegal immgrants to serve on juries. Thankfully, the governor vetoed it. But it has come to that. No effort required.
The deft multiculturalists have tossed modernity into the dumpster and every tribe has its champion. I still like hipsters though. They work at being cosmopolitan. Hipsters are easy to spot, they wear the uniform. They signal their hipness and they pay close attention because they value society - the society of hipsters. Acoustic instruments are meaningful to all of them. Hipsters have values and they discriminate; they have ideals and they criticize. They strive. They put in work. You don't just happen to be in the Angel City Brewery, you drive there from far away. You meet friends from out of town, or across the Pond. Effort is required.
But it's a peacetime effort. It doesn't have to be couple with the objective realities of an economic downturn. You can still be a dot com marketing manager. There is still plenty of trust fund money. Hipster clothes aren't cheap. And hipsters don't really have to care about amnesty for 30 million Mexicans and even if you paid the LAPD officers $5/hour and all those jobs went to Mexicans, there won't be a civil war. Because before that happens, niggers and honkeys will get real.
You see, the good old days were the good old days because there wasn't enough middle class to go around. There was middle class scarcity, and that meant in the middle class you were scared of falling out of it. There hadn't been an economy of sociologists and other innumerate graduate students with bullshit theories of causality getting over on the American public. Now any 1000 people hitting a website connected to a university is a trend. Last week 10,000 people wanted to adopt the same 15 year old boy. People tend to believe anything because there is an economy for every fool idea when you live in the broad luxury of the American middle class. The fool idea that meat for breakfast is a horror began the legendary cereal aisle in our supermarkets. Juice, toast milk and cereal are a complete breakfast. What about bacon? It's making a comeback, but cereal is still an economy. We have room for all economies. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis and solopsis. That's because there's no middle class scarcity..
Until there is.
But I don't think it's going to come down to guns and blood. All of the ugly politics that we seem to have all sorts of disposable time, energy, money and blood vessels for is going to move out into the open. The rugged apparatus of the American system is going to do just fine, because the people who really run it are smart people deeply invested. But the false generousity is going to fade away. The lack of modernity and the tribal spirit is going to get energized and even though civility would be just as easy as putting on a creased pair of pants, the tribe of baggy saggers will refuse. It will be in your face just as plain as throwing trash out of a car window. Just as plain as smoking cigarettes in restaurants. Just as plain as Cher saying that Tea Baggers should be shot. Not only will Peasants be Peasants, but very intelligent people will prefer to be partisan and lose rather than use logic the other side agrees with and win. That includes the Solicitor General.
In other words, long before people start burning down buildings and throwing rocks at police officers, the veneer of civility in politics will be long etched away. Political correctness is going to die, and the real hatreds fueled by our idiot-proofed cities will become self-evident and self-perpetuating. Not for the hipsters of course, because the hipsters have cosmopolitan society and they are willing to sacrifice for it. But more and more tribal Americans want conflict. They want class warfare. They want to win at any cost. They want true conservatives and true progressives. Which side are you on, dammit!?
Me? I'm keeping my eye on the hard sciences and industrial infrastructure, escpecially of course that thing I call industrial information technology. You know, the kind that banks and insurance companies cannot function without. There may come a time when people say they don't want electricity and banks, but that's a long, long way away.
I think our peasantry is going to shame us all, and we're going to wake up. At least a few of us will, and we will step up. People who are angling for this war are convinced that there's not another Colin Powell alive - that there is nobody and nothing emblematic of what's right with America. They say politics is war by non-violent means. They also say that politics ain't beanbag. They're correct. But this is peacetime, and I know where they play beanbag.