Silver Lining

Macarthur, The Market And Mary Reilly

Photo by James BunoanSo sometimes, good things happen. Oh, don't worry, lumplings: they're not happening to me. For your amusement/horror/newly found epistolary fervor to ascertain if I'm . . . okay? and concern over my public near-suicide last week, I will continue bearing the tortures of the squeezed middle class, the put-upon single mom, the paranoid and embittered and occasionally emotionally destitute Democrat/Green, and the gal with a rollicking case of candida. (Are you with me, ladies? Am I right?)

But good things. You know, for others. Even though I'm usually an envious, why-not-me hag, this week's good-thing-happening left me bright and smiling and actually happy. For another person!

Ever since I was 10, all I've wanted out of life is to be a Macarthur Genius. It wasn't the money so much (of course it was the money), it was the title, the public proclamation, the laurel crowns and the cessation of all earthly needs (that would be the money) and the bodily assumption, like the Queen of Angels, into heaven. The geniusness of it all. I wasn't all that interested in Miss Americaor an Oscar, but the sainted Macarthur Foundation? Oh, baby, it got me hot. But this week's announcement that the mysterious foundation was giving Santa Ana barber-n-bookseller Rueben Martínez a cool half-million and, more importantly, the title (and the assumption into heaven), was actually wonderful news, and I didn't even for a second wish it was I. Seriously! I didn't! I was happy for him, and he deserved it.

Besides, you know how they find their current crop of geniuses, don't you? That's right: they ask their old geniuses for recommendations, and now since I also know former trucker/terrible mumbler/sexy grandpa/big Pinko Mike Davis, I know two! Rueben, I would just love to take you to lunch. Tuesdays and Fridays are good for me. How about Athena?

So Mary Reilly's moving in with me. I have only joy in my heart over this unforeseen development (she says she's a neat-freak, so maybe she will mop!), but for some reason the kids in the office have a pool on which of us will suffocate the other in her sleep. This, I think, is terribly unfair! Mary Reilly and I have liked each other all the way since mid-August now, and I think she's the dearest little sweetling ever, and I also like her hairdo!

Plus you know she and her boyfriend'll bring over tons of 23-year-old boys. And I will be her mentor and teach her about art and politics, and she will teach me about DJing and Jack-and-Cokes,so when I finally blow seven deadlines too many and she finally steals my job, I'll always be able to bartend. It's a perfect symbiosis.

I did a very stupid thing this week and made an offer on a house in Anaheim. But I did a very smart thing too, and made the offer insultingly low (like, 50 bucks) so they didn't even bother to counter it. I am pleased about this. Y'all are about to have a real crash, even here in the country's most expensive market; it won't "stagnate but not drop" like so many mortgage brokers keep telling me with a straight face, right after they tell me that the California market never drops, and what do I mean it crashed in '91? Yes, it's going to settle back to the prices of a year ago, and I won't be the one banking on appreciation for my interest-only loan. Call me when the foreclosures start. You know how I like to profit from the misery of others.

And do heed me now. I'm always right about things mostly—except for that time I was just sure Ralph Nader would get 10 percent because the polls wouldn't count college kids since they weren't "likely voters" and it was a starting point for the Greens toward national party-building. Oh, yeah, and that time I voted for Nader because Gore and Bush were really the same, what with Clinton's signing of the Welfare Reform Act and the Antiterrorism one. Oh, and that time I thought the president would grow and do the right thing since the Democrats were all standing behind him after 9/11 and would truly become an American president, instead of giving another tax cut with two-thirds going to the top 10 percent (and half going to the top five) and then trying to get rid of the Earned Income Tax Creditfor poor folk. My bad.

Hey, you know who's got a lot of poor folk? Santa Ana! The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institutepublished a study a few weeks ago that said it's the hardest city in the country in which to make ends meet. Sure, Cleveland's got the highest poverty rate, but folks in Cleveland don't have to rent in Orange County's real estate market.

So guess who gets the most federal tax dollars (i.e. welfare for the states) for each dollar they put in? Well, I'll give you a hint: that fat money isn't going to states with poor people who maybe could use a freeway or a park. Eight of the top 10 recipients of the feds' greasy cash are those anti-government red ones, like Montana, Alaska, and Mississippi. And seven of the top 10 states getting the least amount back for every dollar they send to Washington are blue states! California, for instance, with one in five children living in poverty, gets 81 cents of services for every buck it pays, while North Dakota gets $2.03 for each dollar it puts in! Get it? It's because Republicans are hypocrites!

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