Well, smash my stereotypes.

Sept. 12, 2022

I was waiting for a bus to take me home from shopping, when an old white man walked up, carrying a set of golf clubs on his shoulder. He put the clubs down, pushed a button, and some metal legs popped out to hold the golf bag upright on the sidewalk. Then he turned and looked for the bus, same as the rest of us.

When the bus came, that old guy got on, sat in front of me, and rode the bus with his golf bag. When he pulled the cord — ding! — to get off the bus at the public golf course, he said, "Good day" to the driver, and strolled toward the clubhouse, whistling.

Many things I have seen on the bus, but never before have I seen a golfer take the bus to the course. Would've thought he'd drive his Cadillac, or have his chauffeur drive him. Well, smash my stereotypes. 

Nice that he took the bus and all, but golf ought to be illegal. All that land, all that water for all that grass. At the very least, the government ought to get out of the golf business, but it says here, "Seattle Parks and Recreation owns and maintains four golf courses: Interbay, Jackson, Jefferson and West Seattle."

All those courses should be plowed under, dug up, and replaced with affordable housing and four lovely new public parks. 

I went to a ball game on Sunday, and I'll bore you with that story soon enough, but between innings I marveled at the crowd — 45,000 people, sharing their company and COVID. Me, I wore a mask, and so did about a dozen others.

The three people I came with were the only people I talked to, of course, because I dearly hate talking to strangers. I do enjoy listening to their stories, but the stadium was way, way too loud for eavesdropping.

Once in a while I wondered, though, about the stories those people could tell, and especially about the secrets they'd never tell.

I don't like people, but they intrigue me, and I like people-watching, sondering, almost as much as baseball.

All those people — how many of them have gotten away with murder? How many pedophiles were in the crowd yesterday? How many wife-beaters, rapists, burglars, car thieves, and swindlers?

Watched an old white dude, and wondered what his story might be. He probably saw time and blood and gore in Vietnam, killed some people there. Or maybe he ran to Canada like I would've, had I been a few years older.

Watched an ancient wrinkled black woman, and I believe in equality, so there's no reason she couldn't have killed someone, too, and gotten away with it. No doubt she wanted to, at least — at her age, she probably remembers being sent to the back of the bus or the theater. Bet there were jobs she couldn't land, neighborhoods where she couldn't live, just because of her color. Bet there still are.

45,000 lives, intertwined for a few hours at the ball park. All those people, carrying all those scars, and so many secrets nobody else will ever know.

After the game, we all went in every different direction, and I left alone, happily, taking my own scars and secrets with me. 

Washington Mutual was a locally-owned savings bank, here in Seattle. Their commercials featured a folksy balding actor who said things like, "At Washington Mutual, we don't do business with big business. Just people like you."

The ads' tagline was always, "Washington Mutual — the friend of the family," and they had me fooled. I kept my minimal funds in a checking and savings account there, until moving away in the early 1990s.

Pretty soon, though, Washington Mutual — WaMu, for short — smelled bigger bucks, and they were nipple-deep in the subprime scandals.

WaMu was shut down by the FDIC in 2008. Its assets and branches and accounts were soon sold to an even bigger and uglier conglomerate, JPMorgan Chase. As everyone knows, billions of dollars were lost, but the US government bailed out the banks, and nobody went to jail, or was even prosecuted.

The name WaMu disappeared from Seattle, or so I thought until I moved back a few months ago, and discovered that a music hall called the WaMu Theater still exists.  

Wkipedia says Washington Mutual bought "naming rights" for it in 2006, and after the bank's demise it was renamed Washington Music Theater. Guess that saves the expense of making a new sign, but I'd never attend a concert at WaMu Theater. I'd rather go bowling at Enron Lanes.

And now, the news you need, whether you know it or not…

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The FBI monitored Aretha Franklin's role in the civil rights movement for years 

Of course they did, and if they ever stopped it was only because she died. Hoover and his dashing formal gowns are gone, but the FBI is still what he made it. That they're worried about equal-rights activists tells all you need to know about the feds.

The FBI monitors any activists they can identify. Aretha Franklin was easily recognizable, but if you've ever been to a protest and they could figure out who you were, there's a file with your name on it, too.

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More than 90,000 mom-and-pop restaurants have closed during the pandemic 

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How Chevron exploits a news desert 

The banner at the top of Permian Proud does state that the site is "sponsored by Chevron." But at first glance, the sponsorship seems like a benevolent grant. On Wednesday Permian Proud's front page included stories about an upcoming air show and a storytelling workshop – typical local newspaper fare.

But interspersed with news of livestock sales and processions is a series of stories lauding Chevron’s achievements in the Permian Basin, a sprawling area covering parts of west Texas and east New Mexico, where the company operates numerous oil fields.

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The Catholic Church is bankrolling a nationwide assault on women's rights 

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Fifth Third Bank wouldn't cash black woman's check 

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States propose expanding highways with federal infrastructure funds intended to reduce emissions 

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Republicans look to restrict ballot measures following a string of progressive wins 

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King Charles doesn't have to pay inheritance tax on the Queen's private estate worth more than $750 million 

First Nations Leadership Council calls on King Charles to renounce Doctrine of Discovery as first act 

Seem unlikely, but thanks for asking.

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Once again, the Brits show us that the key is to ask the same question, over and over, until you get an answer. 

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Fifty million people around the world are trapped in forced labour or forced marriage, the UN said Monday 

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Trouble in streaming paradise 

Wall Street wants what it wants. And what it always wants is improved quarterly returns at any cost. What usually gets sacrificed in this equation is stuff like quality, jobs, diversity, and customer service. With more ads. 

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Meeting Bill Russell at the book store 

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Degrowth is an idea that critiques the global capitalist system which pursues growth at all costs, causing human exploitation and environmental destruction. The degrowth movement of activists and researchers advocates for societies that prioritize social and ecological well-being instead of corporate profits, over-production and excess consumption. This requires radical redistribution, reduction in the material size of the global economy, and a shift in common values towards care, solidarity and autonomy. Degrowth means transforming societies to ensure environmental justice and a good life for all within planetary boundaries.

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"Complete set of undergarments" required for execution witnesses, Alabama officials say 

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There’s a lot of freedom in not giving a F**k. 

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One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...



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The End

Oliver Frey 

Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...


  1. Good stuff today...Paul

    1. Gracias, amigo.

    2. Anybody who would do business with a financial institution that calls itself the Fifth Third Bank is asking for trouble. I assume they're on Fourth Avenue.


    3. I looked it up once, and it was something about a merger, of course. Fifth Bank + Third Bank = Fifth Third Bank. Truly stupid, of course. I assume they're fourth rate.

  2. By the way, his web site is still up and running even though RAW is not. If you'd like to become a Pope, just visit his site: it's free and the site doesn't even request a donation. And you'll have a genuine business card that identifies you as a pope. No smoke or mirrors or smoke.


  3. The Illuminatus! trilogy, complete with exclamation point, is all I know of Robert Anton Wilson. I tried reading it, but stumbled, same as I do with Tolkien, over fiction and fantasy too far-fetched for me. I know it's good, though, and liked it in small chunks. Just couldn't make it through three books.

    I knew his Illuminatus! co-author, Robert Shea, at least by mail. We pen-palled and contributed to the same zines. I can certify that Bob was a good guy, and assume Robert was as well.

    Now they're sharing the same quantum state, of course.

  4. In the last year, a developer bought a golf course a few miles south of Tacoma and used the land to build affordable housing for previously homeless people.

    Naw, I'm just kidding. A developer DID buy the golf course on which I played golf a dozen times over the years, but he built high-cost condos and some fancy no-kids-allowed senior housing for seniors with a shitload of money. When golf courses go to heaven, do you think low-cost housing replaces them? Never.

    In fact, golf course management throughout North America has been working with the Audubon Society on implementing natural pest control and eliminating, over time, the use of pesticides entirely. In suburban jungles (that would be the entirety of east Puget Sound) golf courses and parks are frequently the only rest spots for migrating birds, especially fresh-water waterfowl. At night, the coyotes, rabbits and foxes that have been displaced by suburban sprawl gather on golf courses. My sister lives a half block from a golf course, and you can hear the coyotes howl at night.

    Golf courses are not reforming because they have a wonderful sense of community spirit and environmental awareness. When golf courses meet certain criteria of clean land management, including making accommodation for local displaced animals and migrating birds, local jurisdictions give them a material break on their property taxes that amounts to considerable bread.

    I flew into SeaTac a half dozen times a year for thirty years, and as Seattleopolis spread into the Cascade foothills and trees were felled by developers, more and more over the years (roughly 1970 to 2000) the only open spaces were parks and golf courses. Golf courses were villains in the past, but are starting to learn.

    I haven't golfed for nearly 20 years, and I'll never golf again, but I do appreciate open space, which is now an endangered commodity. The Earth has to breathe too.


    1. Same as most of what I say, me saying the courses should be dug up was just a gut take, and two gut takes is worth one spit take.

      Only once, I golfed (putt-putt doesn't count). It was fifty years ago. So I don't 'get' golf, but there's a hella long list of things I don't get, and your points are plausible and better reasoned than mine.

      The wondrous thing about our society is that your opinions and mine don't matter. It's not like any of the people who decide anything give a fat flying fractional fuck what anyone thinks who isn't rich, so let's pop open a diet root beer and agree to disagree, since whether we do or don't changes nothing.


  5. I enjoy amicably disagreeing with you because we agree about the important stuff. I made my main point badly, so to reiterate, in the big picture open space is as important to our extended survival as housing. As you say, nobody cares what we think about anything; but I do care what you think about things, and we agree and disagree as brothers.

    Just one more thing: There's a big difference between public golf courses and private golf courses. I've played on both, (public by paying my twenty-five dollars, private by knowing somebody who has enough money to join a private golf club). Public course golfing is very much a blue collar sport. You won't see CEOs and fund managers on public courses. Private courses are generally for people with a fair amount of money. Public courses, for example, rarely have dress codes; private courses always have dress codes. When I was a younger man, I played badly on both, but always washed my hands before eating the hot dog after the 9th hole of the private courses, and rarely did on the public courses. Pesticides.


    1. The private courses can stay, long as we can triple their taxes every month or so. The public courses gotta go, though. It's an abomination sponsoring golf with public money when the city won't even unlock the johns in public parks.

    2. Only about a quarter to a third of government-owned golf courses turn a profit, but that is only looking down. If you look up and value the open space, the sustained viability of avian populations, the oxygenation and cooling from the trees, and the increased use of profanity, that number would go way up. Were I convinced that closing all the government-owned golf courses and paving them over with concrete and houses would cause rest rooms in parks to open, we could have a discussion about it. But you know it wouldn't. I have a heart condition and one of the medicines I take causes me to need to piss frequently and at length. I'm all for rest rooms on every corner. But I'll take the open space and piss behind a tree on the 5th fairway.


    3. I don't want the heart condition, but do envy your medication. Does it make the pee roar out like on that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm when Larry hilariously pissed on Christ?

      Stand and trickle is all I do, for so long it feels like pissing the whole morning away. My laziness kicks in, and sometimes I sit and trickle instead.

      Seattle desperately needs housing. Can't think of any desperate need for golf. Especially public-funded golf. We could make any one public golf course into three neighborhoods and a park.

      It's visceral for me, more than logical. Obviously.

      I hate football too, but a football field is half a block and fifty kids can have fun at the same time. Golf stretches across the horizon, so far into the distance that people who don't golf can't even see who's playing or how many. Square miles of squares, often wearing plaid.

    4. I wouldn't know about women; heaven knows I wouldn't know about women, but when men get older they piss more slowly, and there's not much you can do about it.

      Furosemide (trade name Lasix) is a diuretic which is used to treat heart failure and other cardio ailments. It causes the kidney to absorb more of the water in the bloodstream and route it to the bladder. This relieves the heart of having to pump all that water around one's bloodstream.

      Maybe I piss a little more vigorously, but I sure as hell piss more often. Doesn't sound like what you're looking for.

      Slow pissing is a sign of aging, a terrific process compared to the alternative.


    5. Nah, you're right, I am definitely *not* hoping to pee more often. I pee too often already, and it takes too long to dribble out.

      Re men peeing, are we supposed to hold it? I could easily hold it much longer than I do, hours longer, but the feeling of gotta-pee is a distraction, so I pee instead of holding it. This means I'm peeing ridiculously often, sigh.

      As for women peeing, you're kidding, right? Can women pee?


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