Let Us Broil

In the Mojave Desert, residents are on the cusp of our least wonderful time of year. Indeed, if Andy Williams had to sing about this season those lyrics would get stuck in his throat.

Summer. Already in mid-May Las Vegans can expect triple digit temperatures. As the month elides into June it becomes hotter with July and August turning everyday into a constant blow torch of torrid.

Throughout summer, I thank American breweries for 30 packs!

For now, though, temperatures that will torment us don’t arrive until sometime in the afternoon. Mornings are pleasant, middays tolerable without complaint. Such won’t be the case this time in June. Then mornings will start at a hundred-something before it heats up during daytimes.

2022 will be the first summer we will be without swimming pools at my residence. When I first relocated here in 2013, residents could avail ourselves to cooling relief in 1 of 4 cement ponds. And a good number of us did. However, emphasis on return on investment has drained the pools. ROI has filled them in, paved over each with decorative bricking, and planted scrawny water efficient saplings whose papery leaves will elusively provide ramada-like shade on 114° days.

On the upside, though, insurance premiums plummeted. As did maintenance costs. And while on those really baking August nights a quick dip dissipated a lot of body heat, the amount of money being saved by owners is cool, too.

Fortunately, I belong to a health club. A pool is among its amenities. Thing is the facility may frown upon on a member fulfilling a spontaneous desire to skinny dip at 3 or 4 on a summer morning. Just one way to find out.

I liked our complex’ pools because they became natural gathering spots. Reminded me of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom when various species gathered to sip at stream- or riverbanks before hunting or being hunted. During summers, those pools were the likeliest sites I’d see my neighbors. Now, without the relief the pools offered I’ll have less idea who resides here.

Transient as Las Vegas is, knowing neighbors beyond a nod is flighty. For a while there I experienced stability of that sort on both sides of my apartment. Stability as in length. Continuity brings a kind of comfort. Rather than a month, now renters remain for months. Some even a year or two.

Seldom, if at all, do I wonder where former neighbors have landed, how they’re making their ways. It doesn’t pay to get involved with strangers in Las Vegas. At least in my situation it doesn’t.

Too many of those living on either side of me have existed on the margins. Some margins thinner than others. Mouthy as many often were, no questions about their circumstances needed asking. Like a lot of my colleagues here, former neighbors would give up the gum drop without a coin having been slid into the slit nor the knob being turned. Through neighbors I’ve learned plenty about domestic and criminal matters as adjudicated through the courts. Knowledge I did not need.

Back then, at night, in summers, when one could open windows to freshen the interior air, pool lighting playing on the water surface fueled my imagination. Angled as I had the slats of the blinds, periwinkles and the sounds of lapping water slipped through. Yes. It was that quiet at night so one heard water lap. Reflected blue-green light striped across my walls and parts of the ceiling. Hot as summers are in the Mojave, all the scene lacked was a noirish backstory and thoughtful drags on cigarettes.

But I don’t smoke and I’ve never been one to bring work home.

Now that this property is worth far more than when I arrived almost nine years ago, investors, Californians mostly, local real estate management companies the rest, have made owner/residents like myself a rare breed. There are 120 unit in this complex. If 10 are owner occupied it’s seven more than I might’ve suspected.

Hopefully those who sold their places got what was then considered top dollar before the real estate market went nuts. At least then they might’ve had opportunities to purchase comparable living spaces in or near Las Vegas. Doing so now only means having a big bag of money on hand yet nowhere those meager six figures could buy. Yes. That’s how insane real estate has become here.

When the bubble pops in this part of the Mojave, it’ll make the Great Recession’s resemble a small balloon that slowly deflated. Indeed, the buying mania in Las Vegas has been just that unhinged.

Management, the powers that be, whoever’s operating this property – See? That’s how removed live-in owners have become from people administering this address. Before, one knew who was who. Now? Good luck. – have surveyed the landscape and reached this conclusion: done right this place could be an endless cash cow.

Speculators have been sniffing around. Not for the structures so much but the acreage. This address occupies a sweet spot. A lot of future desirable Las Vegas is being built or renovated within its proximity. One sharpie actually floated a telephone number length purchase figure. Say this for them, the people in charge didn’t let the amount confuse them. Clearly, they saw if a likely teardown so valuable, further sprucing and upgrades would attract the “right” renters. Meaning rents could race to the sky. Meaning fatter ROI.

In resident/owners’ cases it means is our operating contributions should remain pittances.

Among the new faces hanging his hat at this address is a Bay Area tech guy. Maybe he bought. Maybe he leases. Either way his is only a weekend presence next door. On his days and nights here he’ll occupy himself playing video games and music. Both at high volume. Since our schedules rarely jibe it’s not a problem.

Otherwise no need to imagine he avails himself to Las Vegas’ many attractions, distractions, and amusements. After all, he’s more a visitor than resident. Now and then he’ll order in a hooker. I know this because invariably his horizontal entertainment will scratch at the wrong door. Mine. Our doors have similar designs. Yet they have different numbers. Which is everything necessary to know about today’s working girls.

To renters who saw our home as a refuge, a respite from landlords elsewhere charging monthly extortion, property owners chasing after easy prosperity means they must relocate. In the ebb and flow of residents, there have been occasions when property owners weren’t particular regarding tenants. Sometimes to the detriment of us who lived here.

Collecting the rent was all that mattered. Therefore, a number of public assistance recipients were sometimes noted. Few would be mistaken as strivers. More like deadbeats feeling themselves entitled to suck from the public teat. Moreover, they brought their conflicts along. Of these they had no compunction to broadcast.

Seeing more, better money within reach, property owners and management companies performed a simple act which nearly has emptied this address of the less than motivated. They raised rent thresholds to $1500. Section 8 pays 1400. Tops. Nevada has no rent control. Nevada may have some of the most arbitrary rules favoring landlords and property owners in America. Renters have little recourse. Especially now with Covid abating.

The moratorium on residential rentals put heavy pressure on landlords and property owners. Despite receiving supplements to the state’s unemployment contribution what renter didn’t declare him/herself in dire financial straits? The kind that allegedly made paying rent impossible.

Rent? Wow! Difficult. Seventy-inch TVs? New cars? Easy as pie.

The worm having turned, rental trucks being stuffed are common sights at this address these days. That’s unfortunate. Who knows where such dust will next settle?

Working people, the aspirational among us demand better. Already one observes the parking lot and courtyards are less littered. Childish scrawls which mar a few walls has decreased. The minor vandalism brought on by boredom or indifference has been banished.

Most importantly there are fewer instances of the security doors being thwarted. All earning their keep know those safety devices don’t work if the locking mechanism is blocked. Always good to see more people who care will reside here.

The scenes above demonstrate the pride of place laboring people have. Earners want their moneys worth. We maintain the premises. Who doesn’t know that when life just gives you things, those items usually hold less value?

Damn shame we had to forfeit the pools, though.

Elsewhere May Day Is Labor Day

This Covid period among our older populace proves that after a time minds become less pliant. In them views narrow then solidify.

When I hear people, say, at least 14 years my senior, opine, they often remind me of an Allen Ginsberg quote. The poet said: “Our heads are round so thought can change direction.”

Life has squared their noggins.

There must come a period in life when our ability to juggle contrary positions against – or even adapt to – what our minds hold as irrevocable erodes. At one point each of us must’ve been mentally nimble. But as many of us age, our ability to modify or rearrange perception and understanding loses fluidity.

It’s not that those hewing tenaciously to fixed positions are simply stubborn. More like their mental processes have congealed. They just can’t budge.

No need to provoke such people. They’ll erupt without cause. The mantra they spew? “Nobody wants to work anymore.”

Popularly known as “the Silent Generation,” they huddle wedged between former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” and “Baby Boomers.” Arriving just before the Depression then shoved onto the periphery of American memory with the first birth of 1946, too few members of this cohort left an impression on our national scene. Also, the calamities that occurred between the years 1929-1945 made prospective parents wary about bringing or being able to afford having children. Their aggregate was lower than the two generations sandwiching them.

Though the Depression and World War II were nowhere near as formative to them as it was upon the participants and combatants, both events nevertheless left imprints. Here in the economically poleaxed America of the1930s and wartime’s Fortress of Democracy, daily life must’ve been maintained at some levels of precariousness.

Each era embedded its own worries upon the still forming.

Unless one’s background affluent during the Depression, want was a constant threat. A job which sustained home and hearth week after week was no certainty. And unlike today, the safety net, if one existed, consisted of savings, family, and perhaps friends. Compared to now, government programs that helped citizens tide over rough patches were meager as well as sparse.

Doubtlessly parents one pay envelope away from being up against it discussed finances in the most sotto tones. Nonetheless careful as they must have been, that sort of constant stress must’ve also reached then affected young minds.

And while the war that broke out among the Europeans in September 1939 was a topic that could be bandied at intellectual remove, Pearl Harbor two years later became a realer than real matter of survival. The Depression’s threat of possible imminent destitution might be diverted through a head down, no boat rocking posture coupled with an “it could be worse” attitude which made them grateful to possess what they had.

The December 7th, 1941, attack became a life and death matter.

Two oceans aside, wolves threatened Americans’ doors. The vast watery expanses which had kept America remote from most global conflicts were by 1941 capable of being crossed by all sorts of weapons. What had been viewed while watching movie theaters’ newsreels – cities obliterated from the air, columns of grim jackbooted troops intent on carnage – now offered foretastes of what America might’ve shared with Europe or Asia.

Easy to imagine that after Pearl Harbor no American regarded fates similar to Rotterdam or Shanghai visiting these shores as “improbable.” At least initially, conversation based on war topics were undoubtedly debated between disbelief and hysteria.

Although dementia and death have substantially reduced those then present as WWII adults, that there was possibly an undercurrent of defeatism during the global conflict’s first disastrous months is difficult to deny. It’s just the sort of thing children can absorb though can’t properly articulate sufficiently in order to have parents explain. Or dispel.

Maybe it becomes a thing that weighs adolescents who enter their teens before becoming adults; that inexplicable thing they unconsciously drag with them through life.

A benefit from Covid is it’s loosened the shackles of American workers. That’s given them leverage against bosses. Terrific!

On one hand, the worker shortage, created from retirements, deaths, and searches for better, stems directly from the disease.

The first a realization by long-time employees they’d gotten to points of simply living to work rather than working to live. Why drop dead at one’s place of employment or linger a few post-retirement years in pain and regret? If the necessary years had accrued – even if the total short – why not abandon that toil and enjoy what remained of life while it still possible?

The second, a factor way too few Americans grasp or want to, is a good number of working people succumbed to Covid. To them, their families, friends, it wasn’t a hoax. Covid wasn’t just jumped-up flu.

Despite the best efforts of right-wing barking heads and jackleg screamers to slander every patient overwhelming ICUs and hospital staffs, sufferers filling wards and providing care in them weren’t crisis actors. For awhile rumors circulated that at my own job Covid claimed one co-worker a week. Of course confidentiality rules and HR doing its utmost to protect the company blunted ascertaining whether this fact or not.

Third, the first two Covid conditions created mobility. Countless current workers are exploiting this last opening. A circumstance anyone constitutionally timid finds adverse.

A worker shortage meant dead-end, low-wage positions, and peonage treatment could be dumped for perhaps more satisfying, higher paying labor where supervisors aware the worm has turned keep their tyrant conduct in check.

That’s what “the Silent Generation” means when it erroneously states “Nobody wants to work anymore.” They’re angered that it appears nobody wants to work as they once did.

Fearful of losing jobs they were grateful to have even if it meant being humiliated throughout a career. For far too many laboring Americans that was the take-it-or-leave-it pact until Covid.

Current attitudes spreading regarding how one’s daily bread is earned reflects badly on “the Silent Generation.” They put up with shit because in return for a comfortable living standard made possible through a decent salary, benefits, and pensions, the boss could release his inner Attila the Hun on them at will. Rotten management will never hide its contempt for the cogs. Before Covid, underlings could be replaced as easily as getting a fresh tissue after soiling the previous sheet.

Then, even getting raises could’ve grown into ordeals. Despite workplace performances justifying the bump how often had the process transformed productive employees into nearly on their knees supplicants?

We may suppose “the Silent Generation” invented some nobility about enduring these trials. We may also suppose them seeing a new generation come along and blithely chucking the old nature for new measures somehow tarnishes whatever glory had shined jobs offering two-weeks-a year vacation.

This Is Not a Pipe

What haven’t the overwhelming majority of Russians been conditioned to swallow?

Watching the misery that’s playing out in Ukraine from the secure safety of the soft West, we shouldn’t be astounded that some high percentile of Russians, oh, probably about 97% of them, have wholeheartedly ingested obvious lies that would’ve convinced American TV viewers that Tommy Flanagan and Joe Isuzu were the most honest characters in sketch comedy and advertising, respectively. Continue reading This Is Not a Pipe

No Rainbow. No Pot of Gold.

California is not sending it best people across the Mojave Desert into Nevada. Not visitors, necessarily, but those hopefuls intending to relocate.

For the most part, Californians flocking from the Golden State to settle in the Mojave aren’t the most sterling. Once here a sad portion of them tarnish the Silver State. Continue reading No Rainbow. No Pot of Gold.

On Our Side of the Line

Perception must depend on location and familiarity as well as with who surrounds oneself. This realization has become even more pronounced since moving cross-country.

Before coming to Nevada, I’d already accumulated years in the Southwest. Though after whatever needed conducting here was finished, I scrammed back to New York. Now as a Silver State resident, the region’s peculiarities are more present and therefore more insistent.

Especially among non-landed citizens. It’s as if they’re intentionally indifferent towards recognizing individuals, preferring indistinction and keeping certain groups amorphous. Continue reading On Our Side of the Line

The Spear Carriers

Chewing the fat with long-time Las Vegas residents never tires. By that I don’t mean retirees who’ve descended here from elsewhere. Those people invariably have nothing interesting or worthwhile conversationally to add. Just complaints about today and regrets regarding opportunities deferred then dismissed through lengthy delay.

There’s only so much wistfulness one should hear until it starts burdening the present. Besides, once here and once monotony sets in too many of them become pill-poppin’ day drunks. Continue reading The Spear Carriers

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