The street preacher

I've mentioned the decomposing rat on the sidewalk, but today, jaywalking in front of my house, I noticed another dead rat, flattened in the street. Dunno how long it's been there, because it's close to invisible — just about the same color as the asphalt, and the blood is long gone. It's flatter 'n a Pop Tart, too.

Look both ways before crossing the street, kids. And rats.

For no particular reason, I rode a bus to downtown. Checking up on the area, I guess. Many years ago, I lived in downtown Seattle, and while almost everything there has changed for the worse, I was looking for the good old days.

I used to buy sandwiches at that corner. Had lunch in that restaurant when it was called something else. Lived up that street, and later lived down another street.



& links

Jan. 28, 2023

Some happy memories, yeah, but jeez, downtown is hell, and Third Avenue is Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It's block after block of hopeless souls in utter poverty, leaning on shuttered storefronts, with tents on the sidewalk and garbage blowing in the wind. Everything remotely not ugly is fenced off, padlocked, boarded up — even an entire city park.

I have lived a few lives, been to some cities, seen some stretches of despair, but I've never seen anything quite like Seattle's Third Avenue. People walk there, but 95% of them are bums, and the rest are wary locals waiting for a bus, or visitors from out of town regretting it, or private security guards.

It's a mortal wound that's bringing down all of downtown. A few blocks away, a movie multiplex closed a week ago, along with a giant prestige shoe shop, because the hell of Third Avenue sucks everything into its sphere of decay and degradation.

Of course, it doesn't have to be like this. We choose it. With a fraction of the funds government wastes on kickbacks and the military and perpetually widening the freeways, we could make cheap but livable housing available to everyone who needs it.

Imagine, a support system — so nobody, no matter how crazy, would choose to wander Third Avenue.

But, nah. Instead of raising taxes on millionaires by 1%, we'd rather have tents on the sidewalk, dangerous streets in an ugly city, and people in misery until they die.

When I lived in the slums of San Francisco, there were often street preachers babbling into microphones to blast entire neighborhoods with the gospel of Jesus. It's boring and annoying, and using microphones is simply rude. Jesus never used microphones.

Seattle doesn't have real slums, to my knowledge, and I haven't seen many street preachers, thank God. There's often one or two at the bus stations, but they don't have microphones, and don't even preach — they just stand there, with a tall rack full of Jesus literature. Can't much object to that.

But outside of Mrs Rigby's Diner last Saturday morning, there was a street preacher on the sidewalk, wearing a suit, preaching into a microphone, in Spanish. There was no crowd listening. Nobody walking by even slowed. Everyone ignored him, as they should, but I couldn't. He was standing only about twenty feet from my bus stop, preaching angry and amplified.

Not speaking Spanish I don't know what he was saying, but to me it was a declaration of rudeness, so I started chanting at him, "Bullshit bullshit bullshit," wishing I knew enough Spanish to say it in his language. No translation was necessary, though. It pissed him off, and he leaned over and twirled a button on the box at his feet, making his sermon even louder without requiring any further effort on his part.

In an argument, that's cheating, ain't it?

With my bus half a block away, I went full Max Von Sydow with a memorable line from The Excorcist, "The power of Christ compels you!" I shouted it at him several times, and uh, quite loudly. Surprising myself with my loudness.

He shouted louder, too, all of it aimed only at me, and veins were throbbing on his forehead. It was so splendid, I was having such a good time, that I hesitated, and seriously considered not getting onto the bus when it pulled over.

But if I'd stayed, I would've stepped closer to him, and who knows, he might've taken a swing at me or me at him, either of which would make things too complicated for a Saturday morning.

So I got onto the bus, took a seat, and waved the preacher goodbye with my middle finger.

Here's a recurring dream that hasn't recurred in half a year or so, but last night's was especially detailed and vivid. My wife Stephanie was back, explaining that her death had all been a mistake. She'd never died, and our lives together were going to resume.

I woke up believing it, happier than I've been in years.

Only I was here in this house, in Seattle, 2,000 miles from where she'd died, in a room with none of her dialysis equipment or supplies. Was her kidney failure a mistake too? I seriously wondered for a moment. It took longer than it should've to realize again that she was dead, and start re-grieving.

The more common dreams of her are much better — dreams where we're on a date, riding the Merrimac Ferry in Wisconsin, or the cable cars in San Francisco, or just relaxing at home and talking, maybe canoodling.

More of those dreams, please, and fewer of the 'mistakes'.

News you need,
whether you know it or not

Five black cops beat a black man to death in Memphis 

All cops are bastards, and once hired, any black police officer is effectively blue, not black.

Cop who lied about blinker violation to pull over driver, kicked and tased him repeatedly, and pulled down his pants to taser his testicles pleads guilty to disorderly conduct, gets no jail time or probation 

Climate change is increasing the risk of a California megaflood 

Let's feign surprise at 'news' that William Barr was corrupt as Attorney General 

And let's also pretend something will be done about it. 

Mystery links
There's no knowing where you're going




Clicks ahoy

Decades of research have shown that focusing on housing, without making sobriety or mental health treatment a prerequisite, is the most effective way to reduce homelessness 

The once-in-a-generation opportunity to remake downtowns

5 things you may not know about the Challenger shuttle disaster 

Japanese baseball, a 150-year journey of transformation 

What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light? 

Alec Baldwin didn’t have to talk to the police. Neither do you. 

Is this tomorrow: America under communism! 

The food expiration dates you should actually follow 

Installing protected routes tends to boost local shops. But many store owners remain attached to their street parking — and fight to protect it.  

♫♬  Mix tape of my mind  ♫ 

Captain Soul — The Byrds 

1812 Overture — Tchaikovsky 

Ninety-Nine Revolutions — Green Day 

Some Humans Ain't Human — John Prine 

Wild Signals — John Williams 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Arthur Duncan

Hannes Keller

Lance Kerwin

Paul La Farge 

Carl Hahn 

Victor Navasky


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.
Special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. Now the street preacher looked so baffled
    When I asked him why he dressed
    With twenty pounds of headlines
    Stapled to his chest
    But he cursed me when I proved it to him
    Then I said, “Not even you can hide
    You see, you’re just like me
    I hope you’re satisfied”

    Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
    To be stuck inside of Mobile
    With the Memphis blues again

    From "(Stuck Inside of Mobile With the) Memphis Blues Again" by Bob Dylan, Copyright © 1966 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1994 by Dwarf Music

  2. Thank you for remembering Victor Navasky, longtime publisher and editor-in-chief of The Nation magazine. I came across Victor through his magazine and through the columns of Calvin Trillin, one of my favorite writers. Trillin repeatedly told the story of becoming a columnist for The Nation and negotiating his compensation with "the wily and parsimonious Victor Navasky" who offered Trillin compensation "somewhere in the high two figures". Trillin, though semi-retired, is still with us, alive and well in Greenwich Village, New York. Victor Navasky was on our side.



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