Why I Advocate the Return to Popularity of the Waistcoat

I told a reporter here a while back — young girl, seemed nice enough. She was just tryin to be a reporter. She said: Sheriff how come you to let crime get so out of hand in your county? Sounded like a fair question I reckon. Maybe it was a fair question. Anyway I told her, I said: It starts when you begin to overlook bad manners. Any time you quit hearin Sir and Mam the end is pretty much in sight. I told her, I said: It reaches into ever strata. You’ve heard about that aint you? Ever strata? You finally get into the sort of breakdown in mercantile ethics that leaves people settin around out in the desert dead in their vehicles and by then it’s just too late.

— Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, No Country for Old Men, chapter twelve, pages three hundred-and-three—three hundred-and-four.

My recent work at Post Right

“Friedersdorf on Happy Meal-Conservative Talk Radio”: Conor ably calls out Mark Levin, et alios

Caritas in Veritate: Pope Benedict has a social encyclical due at month’s end.

“Call Me Skeptical”: Netanyahu, in my humble estimation, is a snake. A “sovereign” Palestine, as he envisions it, will be no freer of Israel than George W. Bush was of Dick Cheney.

“My Only Thoughts on Perplexing Persian Politics”: I sympathize with the reformists (although I question the reformist credentials of Mousavi), but believe that complete American inaction is the best course of American action.

Defending Home

Davey defends Marilynne Robinson’s Home, which I just finished last night, against Rusty Reno’s inconceivably off-base attack, at First Things (Are we surprised?) here, at Theopolitical

This is, in my humble estimation, one of the finer novels of the day (as is its companion and predecessor, Gilead), and Jack Boughton — Antagonist? Protagonist? Both — is one of the most fascinating characters you’ll find. The way in which Robinson attends to the complexities of the strained (to say the least) relationship between Jack and his father, the aged Rev. Boughton; his sister, Glory; and his namesake, and father’s best friend, the Rev. John Ames, is strikingly beautiful, and there’s a touchingly conflicted Front Porch Republic-esque appreciation of place permeating the novel.

Read Davey’s excellent response to Reno, and pick up Home (and Gilead) if you haven’t already.

Neighborhood Schools, Local Business

Over at The League, the (extra)ordinary Mr. Kain has a splendid piece on “the concept of the school itself as an essential part of one’s community.” It is, rest assured, well worth the read. (At Front Porch Republic, Professor Fox offered, a couple of months ago, the very interesting “A Partially Localist Defense of Public Education”, wherein, discussing Mike Huckabee and school consolidation, he notes very reasonable, troublesome reasons to support consolidation; that’s neither here nor there (Well, not here, but maybe there!), but the posting is worth your time, too.) My favorite passage from E.D.:

I’d like to see, quite literally, corner schools – kind of like the days of “corner stores” which have now all vanished in the face of big grocery chains and super Wal*Marts. Because corner schools would be personable. They’d be right there in your neighborhood. Elementary schools tend to be closer to this model. For some reason we go from a dozen or so elementary schools in a mid-size town to one or two high schools. It doesn’t make sense. And if you’re worried about sports, there’s really no reason why schools couldn’t team up to create a good football team. But even better than that, you’d have lots more sports teams and lots more kids would get a chance to play – even if the teams themselves weren’t quite as star-studded, and the games were not quite as good. Still, it would level the playing field, so to speak. And that’s a good thing.

One thing upon which E.D. touches not (though one can infer it, perhaps, from this earlier line: “Schools should be more responsive to their communities needs and vice versa.”) is the particular connectivity between the school and the local business community. Before the 1974-75 academic year, students at North Judson-San Pierre High School (a product of the dreaded mid-century consolidation movement: San Pierre could hardly support a high school, by the advanced standards of the education technocrats) attended classes, concerts, and basketball games in the middle of town, at the corner of Keller Ave. and Central Ave, just a block from Lane St., our main drag. (The football team played on a field now replaced by residential blocks some number of streets to the west; the baseball team, on the same large town block, on WPA-built Norwayne Field.)

My father, oftenly enough, has spoken of lunch hours spent at Pell’s Sweet Shop, the local diner at Lane St. and Adair St. (See map linked to above.), to which he and friends would race to save a booth and where they’d play Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein”, Grand Funk Railroad’s “Flight of the Phoenix”, and Deep Purple’s classic “Smoke on the Water” on the jukebox, all three for a quarter. Old Man Pellegrini worked the fryer, calling out “French-a-fry, French-a-fry!” in broken English between quarrelsome verbal bouts with his wife. In the mid-Seventies, in time for my father’s class to be the first to graduate, the school board replaced this downtown facility with a presumably state–of–the–art (Read: Barns–with–lean-tos–looking bit of totalitarian architecture; insufficiently fenestrated, natch!) building on the southwestern edge of town, with cornfields on two sides!

The Keller Avenue building then housed middle school students — to wit, continued to operate, but not with students likely to be trusted to venture forth from an open campus for lunch —, whilst the secondary-education students had no choice but to lunch daily on remarkably cardboard-esque mass-produced cafeteria food — served by ladies kindly enough, but many packs of Virginia Slims beyond their prime, with all the enthusiasm of a reluctant mortician into whose hands the family business fell —, imprisoned (a verb all too regrettably à propos of the school’s æsthetic character) by the closed-campus restrictions I assume were imposed de jure (By my time in high school, anyway, the school compelled students to remain on the premises at lunch, and otherwise, without a legitimate excuse.), and, certainly, were discouraged, de facto, from enjoying lunch served by a local restaurateur by the reliance upon an automobile (paired with a relatively short lunch hour) that this anti-communitarian location required of students. The students lost “choice”; the diners and restaurants, customers.

Troublingly enough, returning our schools to neighborhoods — or, in smaller towns, nearer our business districts — is, presently, rather impractical. Doubtless, the school district here could not at all easily build new schools in downtown North Judson, and if they could, likely would construct buildings so atrocious that one easily would mistake them for anything but. (See here about architectural ineptitude in North Judson.) This is saddening. Notwithstanding the very real objections found in Prof. Fox’s disquisition, E.D’s case is quite compelling; what I’ve discussed hereabove only strengthens it. Methinks an incredibly sensible, could-be-practical way to help to revive our local economies without furthering the often onerous regulations employed — sensibly enough — to level the playing field for local businesses is to bring our schools back. As Mr. Kain properly proclaims, the school is an essential part of the community, and as Mr. Kunstler, that pugnacious prognosticator of Peak Oil and maligner of modern massacres of the public realm, echoing Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky, asserted, in The Geography of Nowhere, “Community is Economy.”

Post-script: I’d certainly love to see a return of Catholic education, even if only at the elementary (and middle-school) level, as was the case in the past, to North Judson. Paul Barnes, commenting on E.D’s piece, broaches this topic.

Sign of the Times

Now in his early fifties, my father receives the monthly AARP Bulletin. On page sixteen of the June 2009 issue, I learn from the header of the cover, I can read all about the following:

“Scam Alert: Is Your Facebook Friend An Identity Thief?”

This troubles me for at least three reasons.

The Real World Hits DC, Hilarity Ensues

The Anti-Real World DC:

8:00 Douchbag producer walks up to girl I was talking to and hands her a release form. He tells her that Douchbag TRWDC star would love to meet her and have a few drinks with her. She smiles, looks at me, frowns, and then walks over to the TRWDC table.

8:03 I order Vodka Soda number eight, look over at my friends…they can barely contain their laughter…I let out a profane streak of cusses, pay my tab and leave. I flick off the TRW crew on the way out and think about walking up the street to piss on the house. I err on the side of keeping myself out of the drunk tank, and by consequence my job, thow myself into a cab and then make my way back to my downtown “zone 1” neighborhood.

Oh noes.

May I Have Your Attention, Please?

Starting today, I shall be dividing my resumed Weblogging between this humble site and Post Right the newest Weblog hosted by The American Conservative. I am ineffably grateful to Kara, Dan, and everyone else at TAC for welcoming me and for providing another wonderful, necessary outpost for the “Alternative Right.” We’ve a great, supremely eclectic group of contributors, and here’s a good, succinct description of the site:

This is the most experimental (at least in theory) of TAC’s panoply of new blogs. Some of the writers who will be featured here have appeared in the magazine, others are joining us for the first time in the virtual world. There are just two common denominators: everyone is under 40, and all our PostRight bloggers take a jaundiced view of the conventional left-right spectrum. So here you will find a motley collection of left conservatives, front-porch republicans, anti-statist liberals, locavores, libertarians, and more. Stick around and see what they come up with.

I’m pretty sure that, too some extent or another, all of those descriptors except for “anti-statist liberal” fit me. This should be fun.