The evening news,
with Calvin Klein and OJ Simpson

I am kicking myself for agreeing to do this, but I've spent two hours calling various offices at Berkeley City Hall, and talking to various people who didn't want to talk to me. Whatever department I called, all transfers led back to the desk of the same clipboard schmuck who visited my fish cart on Wednesday — not a fountainhead of fair and impartial information. I have no interest in anything he might say, and he has less interest in anything I might say.

Again I said to Jay, we're going about this all wrong. If we're operating a free speech cart, we should have nothing to do with the city bureaucracy. No phone calls, no forms. I should simply show up and sell our sacrilegious fish.

Again she said no, we'll do this cautiously, get the city's permission to sell without a permit. Like that's ever going to happen.

Well, at least I was on the clock and getting paid for these fruitless phone calls, but that didn't make it any less unpleasant.

As an infinite shot into infinite darkness, I looked up and called a similar office for the city of San Francisco, to inquire about their rules governing street vendors. If Jay would pay my BART fare, I'd be happy to commute under the bay and sell fish at Haight-Ashbury or in the Castro.

Bureaucracy is bureaucracy, though, same there as here. Each of the three times I called San Francisco's helpline, the switchboard connected me to the tax collector's office, which is almost definitely the wrong place to ask my questions, and anyway, nobody there picked up the phone. As it rang and rang on my third try, I walked away and used the toilet, flushed and fixed myself a sandwich and a cup of caffeine, and when I came back their phone was still ringing.

Dealing with any governmental agency always brings the same response: severe frustration. Then I called Berkeley for another dose of the eastside runaround.

♦ ♦ ♦

And maybe my fishmonger days are winding down.

Our daily profits have dwindled since school started again at U-Cal Berkeley, and dwindled further without Darwin fish, so Jay's come up with another change of strategy. She's told me to take a few weeks off from the cart while she continues fighting City Hall, a fight I still think is unwise and unwinnable.

Instead we're going national, she says. She's buying small ads in some big zines and small magazines, so clearly she still believes in the future of selling fish. Maybe more than I do.

When or if any orders come in from those ads, I'll be the fulfillment man mailing orders out, and if/when the City of Berkeley legalizes free speech, I'll be selling on Telegraph again, but on weekends only.

Of course, this is something between a reduction in hours and a layoff notice, so I'm glad I posted some work-wanted flyers a few days ago. I'll post more flyers this afternoon. Boy needs job, pronto. I'll do anything legal, for five bucks an hour, all over again.

It takes maybe twenty flyers to generate one phone inquiry, and only about one in three inquiries results in a day's work, so I gotta get crackin' with the flyers.

And what the hell, I'll post one right here:

♦ ♦ ♦

After an afternoon on my feet posting flyers on every corner of Berkeley, I came home hungry, so when Judith invited me to accompany her for and errand and a meal, I said yup.

She drove us into Oakland, and on her eight-track she played the soundtrack from Hair, and we both sang along.

Dinner was McDonald's, which barely qualifies as dinner or food, but it was free so I ate it up and had deep-fried fake apple pie for dessert.

Then she drove us to the home of a middle-aged and very Christian black couple — very Christian, judging by all the Jesus memorabilia scattered and framed everywhere in the house.

Judith bought some homemade art supplies from the Mrs, while I watched the evening news with the Mr. They were both nice enough, but sheesh the newscast was incredible. Even when I had a television I never watched TV news, so this was news to me. There's not much news on TV news.

All the reporters were pretty young women, so clearly being pretty and young and women were the job requirements, more than any grounding in journalism.

One of them performed a laughable report on a vegan food expo, explaining that vegans are vegetarians who — wide-eyed, as if it's shocking — don't eat cheese, and don't wear leather.

After this, the anchor and reporter did a scripted banter on the subject. "No meat," said the reporter, still shocked, as if she'd never heard of even vegetarians before.

"No good," joked the anchormale, and they both giggled.

Before we could enjoy such a hilarious moment, of course, we first had to sit through the evening's Hard News.

Our top story tonight: Feds are considering child porn charges against Calvin Klein, for the company's latest salacious and sleazy ads. To make sure viewers were enraged, the station showed footage of teen and maybe pre-teen models, complete with allegedly illegal zoom-in crotch shots. They ran this video first as a pre-commercial tease for what's coming next, and then again as part of the news story.

If the feds prosecute Calvin Klein, shouldn't they also prosecute Channel 5? It's the same footage.

Prosecute the pornographers, I say. Prosecute every magazine and TV station that ran the ads. Prosecute newsstands that sold the magazines, and stores that sold the TV sets. Prosecute the kids' parents. Prosecute the kids. Prosecute everyone who ever looked at a Calvin Klein ad without barfing. Certainly, prosecute everyone who owns Calvin Klein underwear, jeans, perfume, or whatever worthless garbage they make. And when everyone tangentially related to Calvin Klein has been prosecuted and jailed for life, prosecute the prosecutors, because they're obviously in possession of child pornography, right?

It's all bullshit, of course. Calvin Klein is a giant corporation, and no prosecutor has ever or will ever file charges against a giant corporation. Maybe CK will pay a small fine to settle the matter.

Next on the news that isn't news, we went live to Los Angeles, where another pretty woman filed her report on today's developments in the ongoing and eternal trial of OJ Simpson. She didn't explain, though, what nobody's ever explained — why I should care.

For the most part, I don't. I've paid no attention to the trial beyond accidentally glancing at headlines. Sorry for the dead, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, but the court, not the news and not the audience, will decide whether OJ did it or didn't.

My prediction is that he'll be found not guilty — not necessarily because he's not guilty, but because he has so much money and fame on his side. Your average prosecutor can't possibly match wits with the lawyers a rich man can hire, and your average Joe on the jury would be very hesitant to convict the man famous for running through airports in his amusing ads for Hertz Rent-A-Car.

These last few days in the papers, though, Officer Mark Fuhrman has caught even my disinterested eye. He's perjured himself, possibly planted evidence, and he's on tape saying ghastly racist things, but let's be clear here: He certainly is not, as some have said, a "bad cop." He's simply a cop, like most cops — a swaggering bully with a badge and a gun, who knows who's guilty, evidence and facts be damned, and believes justice is whatever he can get away with, whatever he wants.

If there's anything good to come from OJ Simpson's trial, it's that it's painted cops in a bad light. Cops are usually hero-worshipped as if they're heroes, which they rarely are, so the bad light is deserved and refreshing.

There was a small blurb in yesterday's Oakland Tribune, where some self-claimed expert lawyer said that the real tragedy of all this is that in the future, jurors might be reluctant to believe the sworn testimony of police officers in other cases.

Hallelujah for that. Thank you, OJ. Thank you, Officer Fuhrman. Thank you, all of OJ's dozen or so celebrity lawyers. Anything that leads toward more disrespect for cops is a good thing.

I said that out loud to Mr Black Man during a commercial break, and he said, "Amen." Their family had lots of Jesus imagery on the walls, though, so I imagine he says amen all the time.

From Pathetic Life #16
Friday, September 8, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


  1. You mixed up Judy and Jay I think. "Judith invited me to accompany her" and then later "Jay bought some homemade art supplies".


🚨🚨 Click here if you have problems posting a comment. 🚨🚨