I’ve got a
Baby’s brain and an old man’s heart
Took eighteen years to get this far
Don’t always know what I’m talkin’ about
Feels like I’m livin’ in the middle of doubt
I get confused every day
I just don’t know what to say
I gotta get away
That’s right, Alice Cooper. The Sheet celebrates its 18th anniversary this week. I could say it feels like yesterday but I’d be lying. I could say I fondly remember sleeping next to the copy machine at Access Art and Business Center for warmth, but I don’t. The carpet was filthy.
What’s true now as then is that the state is in the middle of a recall election. And porn star Mary Carey is running (again) for Governor. I gotta track down Russ Reese and have him build a few ads.
*I may as well divulge the secret now, as he’s long moved away. Neil McCarroll was the one who footed the bill for those original “Mary Says” ads.
I can also divulge now how close The Sheet was to shutting down after four days of publication. I was living in Sunny Slopes – Valerie Vannest took me in as a roommate in Susan Burgett and Mary Pipersky’s rental – and had completed the Saturday 11 x 17, two-sider. The timing is a bit fuzzy, I recall dusk, when I stopped in at Tom’s Place for a few cocktails on my way home.
The California Highway Patrol officer lit me up as I was crossing the highway. He claimed that when I’d left Tom’s Place and made the left turn to head across the highway, that I’d cut the turn early and crossed the double-yellow line.
Total bullshit. I figure he’d been laying in wait, watching the door, waiting for someone to pop. So we go through the battery of field sobriety tests, and the whole time I’m thinking, “I’m a one-man operation. If I lose my license, I can’t deliver the paper. I can’t afford to have someone deliver the paper. I’m done before I even started. I suck.”
The patrolman asks me to take a breathalyzer. I refuse. He does a bit of a double-take. What? I tell him I’d rather have my blood drawn. By then, he’s got a colleague with him and they tell me to stand there and wait while they discuss options. I don’t know where I stand. I figure I’m borderline – right around .08.
He then comes back, double-checks to make sure that my home is within a quarter mile, and tells me to drive home.
As I walk to my car, one of ‘em yells out behind me, “What year were you born?” A last-gasp trick question? I got it right.
And also realized right then that if I wanted to do this job, I’d better get my s*#t together.
I contrast this to a stop which occurred a few years ago. I was driving home down the grade when I had a little swerve changing the radio station and I got lit up.
The guy asks me if I’ve been drinking and I tell him yes, I had a Budweiser while I was finishing the paper.
I guess a lot of folks tell ‘em they’ve had a single Budweiser.
I didn’t bother to tell him I’d had the Budweiser a few hours before and he didn’t ask.
So it goes out over the radio and coincidence or no, there are officers from multiple agencies who swing by to “assist” or “observe” or just delight in my downfall. Must’ve been four officers there. Maybe five.
The guy walks me through the field sobriety tests. I observe that a lot of the tests are more difficult than they should be given that I’m asked to perform them on a fairly significant incline.
I half-consider asking the officer to skip straight to the breathalyzer but why ruin the moment? The sunset was beautiful.
I ultimately blew a .00 and they sent me on my way.
In this week’s Economist, there’s an article entitled “Money, Machines and Mayhem” which talks about what to expect during the post-pandemic boom.
1. Don’t expect excess in terms of wild consumer spending. After the Spanish Flu of 1918 and post-WWII, consumers remained fairly cautious. “A recent paper by Goldman Sachs estimates that in 1946-1949 American consumers only spent about 20% of their excess savings … Beer consumption actually fell.”
2. Expect increased entrepreneurialism and risk-taking.
3. Expect an increase in the use of technology and automation. “Bosses may want to limit the spread of disease, and robots do not fall ill.”
4. “When people have suffered in large numbers, attitudes may shift towards workers … policymakers across the world are less interested in reducing public debt or warding off inflation than they are in getting unemployment down. A new paper from three academics at the London School of Economics also finds that Covid-19 has made people across Europe more averse to inequality.
… Pandemics expose and accentuate pre-existing inequalities, leading those on the wrong side of the bargain to look for redress.”
The prediction the article makes: “Social unrest seems to peak two years after the pandemic ends.”
Wow. Considering what the unrest has been over the past year, it’s hard to imagine what that peak will look like.
Final stat courtesy of Barron’s Magazine this week: As Jim Blanco of the eponymous Blanco Research points out, 33.8% of all personal income in the past year, including the 2020 Cares Act payments, was mailed out from the U.S. Government.
Meanwhile, FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) says margin debt is at $822.5 billion, about 50% higher than a year ago. What that means is that people are borrowing money against their portfolios to toss into the stock market.
Hmm. Government hands me money, and then I borrow even more money against that money. I’m sure this will end well.