Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jalapena Up And Utah Bound

Politicians had two choices -- return tax rates on the rich a little closer to what they were a few years ago, or let the country fall apart, and they have chosen the latter, writes Paul Krugman today, reiterating what's been said over and over in Counterpunch. They did it for reasons we can all easily list.  They are beholden to those whose campaign bribes install them in office. They, the politicans, are mostly rich themselves. And they are still in the thrall of Neoliberalism, or if you will, Reaganomics.

Krugman, a columnist for the New York Times, is a liberal, Kenseyan economist. The economy dominates the Times today. Two stories expand on what Krugman was talking about. One slams The Economist magazine for achieving success by playing on peoples' vanity, which is manifested in the desire for upward mobility and status. As the economy double dips, or continues to dip, some would say, the anti neoliberal talk that was current at the beginning of this crash, and that faltered when the markets rebounded, is back again. The other story is on living a simple lifestyle (whether by choice, i.e., anti-The Economist) or by necessity, that is, because of what Krugman said. Two stories about the economy. Representing the two classes of people in the country.

Anyway, delivered in Fresno this morning and right away got a load to Salt Lake City but it doesn't pick up until tomorrow afternoon, so I am ensconced at the old independent here on the 99 in Fowler, of the dueling Cat scales, I call it. It has two scales, because, I suppose, Fresno is almost devoid of scales and then at harvest time it'll be pretty busy around here.

But this is one of the first, if not the first truck stop I ever stopped at in CA, after the Ontario TA, I suppose. I might have stopped at that old Ricky Valensesque independent in Santa Cruz first, but this was right around that time and I think I was carrying concealed almonds.

I was hauling refrigerated for Hill Brothers, out of Omaha, and I'd bring Kellogg's cereal out here, well, to a warehouse somewhere down in the Los Angeles area, actually, then come up here empty, or go the 101 if Iwas headed for that little valley at San Jose, but I'd get nuts or raisins or whatever goes into Kellogg's cereals, and take that to a Kellogg's plant in Windsor, Ontario. A lot of miles then, a fast truck. What a joy it was driving along the Pacific for the first time, coming around a corner and looking down upon Santa Barbara, almost being crowded into the ocean where the hills come down to the sea at Carpinteria....

But I weighed that first load here, so no doubt there's some nostalgia involved but I like this place anyway -- plenty of room, a good Mexican restaurant right here beside the parking lot and it's right in the middle of the Central Valley, the breadbasket of the nation, or rather, the nation's produce section. The San Joaquin Valley, officially called, is busy and bustling but it gets quiet, too, if you get off the expressway, and then later on when the sun goes down.

And Fresno is just up the road so I can pick up the KPFA feed through the Fresno Pacifica station. They also put out a few shows of their own, and those are nice -- it's just folks, not someone passing through to the biosphere.

I like Fowler, too. It's small and old and these towns over here on the 99 side of the valley, that is, the east side, are the old farming towns and once in awhile you get a taste of what the big Central Valley of California was like back when, when they drained the swamps and lakes and when the Okies came during the dust bowl, when Steinbeck roamed around out here, when Jack London was having delusional utopian fits just over the hill there -- ah, don't we all? Or we should.

There's a couple huge old beautiful brick raisin warehouses in Fowler, one even looks to be in use. The Golden State Highway runs through here, a good stretch of it, too, from Selma up to Fresno. I can see it from here, just past the restaurant. It's the old highway, pre Hwy 99. The 99 was built over a lot of it, which is why you see all those flowering bushes in the median in different stretches. Those were originally along the Golden state Highway, and someone told me they planted them because gophers won't colonize around them. The old road is four lane divided and there's a lot of those flowering bushes in long rows down between the lanes. I walked into Fowler once from here, it's just a mile or so, and those gophers sure have colonies along the roadsides, and when you walk past they will come out of their burrows and stand there and chatter at you and scold you and demand of you what the hell you think you're doing.  Sometimes when I leave out of here I will take Golden State for a few miles and cut over to 99 somewhere down the road.

I got a copy of the Sacramento Bee - this was a well respected paper, as I recall, when I was in the business. I had a book with me but ended up reading the Bee while I ate. It seems the police have identified some poor schmuck who was killed down in Selma when he ran from "security personnel" at a grocery store after trying to steal some beer. Emilio Vasquez Santiago, 33, of Selma. Two cars hit him on the 99. They can't locate any family, so I guess they are advertising in the Bee.

I don't know what they are portraying cops like on TV these days -- probably not as unrealistically as they used to but I do know that anyone who tries to find out what they really do has a lot of BS to wade through before they ever find out. "It's under investigation." That covers everything, including we don't have any idea.  Most crimes are solved when someone tells the cops who did it, so "under investigation" basically means waiting for someone to snitch somebody out.

Well! The Armenian Church is blessing the grapes. Good thing Armenians don't hold a grudge.  They also use the term "the Armenian faith community." I don't know what they mean by the Armenian Church, nor do I know after looking at the Wikipedia article by that title because there are three of  them with articles there, but whatever they are "they" bless grapes all over the world, the story says, following a tradition that goes back to Biblical times. A nice photo -- "they" have nice clergy costumes.

I don't know if I'm supposed to do this, but here is the web address for the story:


And as the sun sets behind the coastal range a Khafka-toned Mumiaesque pall nestles in with the usual San Joaquin version of the CA experience. Although I'm getting, via the Fresno feed, KPFA live... although that went off the air at some point and a local Fresno guy did an emergency edition of his show Down In The Valley until KPFA suddenly came back on and then several things were playing over each other for awhile. I like it when the mask falls off. The thin cloak of objectivity. The seamlessness, the pretense. I used to do that. Or I might say that's why I got out of it. well, it was pretty messy on the inside, really, but it was difficult to write the well worn "it's unclear" when  the truth was "we ain't got a effing clue."

The Bee interviewed a local chamber of commerce guy about a bill going through the California legislature that would outlaw plastic bags, and of course the Chamber is knee jerk agin' it. Any law, and especially anything that benefits the working class they are against. Period. It's that scarcity thing, I believe. If everyone starts to have a good life, then what is the value of having a good life? If it's starts to be commonly held, it's not a scarce commodity anymore, and has no more value to the selfish bastards.

Fidel has addressed the national assembly for the first time in four years, opening a discussion about how we can prevent a conflagration in the Middle East... where the neocons, here and in Israel, have been trying to maneuver us into an attack on Iran for a long time, and lately things have been heating up on that front and Fidel is worried about nuclear war, what with Israel being so armed and becoming more and more isolated, more in the grip of a pathology or paranoia, more self referential, and oblivious to anything but their hatred of Arabs. Only Obama can stop it, Fidel thinks, and we, the people, have to get to Obama somehow.

I'm picking up no passwordless wifi signal here but the laptop did detect one in the air somewhere so if I want to post this I may have to drive across the road later where I know I can park in a side street where there's a signal. As I sit here a reefer unit is blaring right next to me and being that I'm right here in epicenter of the raisin capital of the universe I can look forward to reefer traffic all night.

But yes, had a lovely meal at El Mexicano Restaurant Y Taqueria, my special order veggie quesadilla, with rice and beans. Extremadamente excelente. Extremely excellent. As were those senoras. Who pay me little attention... and a little goes a long way.

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