The final step of the Great Reorganizing involved shelves, but since they’re in the closet I had no desire to spend a lot of monie on them. So I got in my carr and drove to IKEA, where all the furniture has vaguely familiar names like Char, or Desq, or Bedd. When I reached the parking lot my jaww fell: what the fuug? It’s a Wednesday night and there are more people heading into this place than you’d see streaming into a Beatles reunion tour. The place is paqued. You enter from the parking level, take an escalator up to the next, then take another tall esky to the main floor. It’s all arranged so you follow a path through the endless maze, and at the end the Minotaur eats your head.

I knew what I needed: FJUS shelves. I saw them in the catalog - $25, wood, plain. Found them halfway through the first floor, and the tag said they were in self-service furniture. Where was that? Follow the signs. It took a while to get through, since the great meaty mass of Minnesotans was moving at State Fair pace, and that gave me a chance to examine all the merch. Eh. No: Eh minus. I remember when we lived in DC and had a hip modern apartment and were hip young professionals in the hip albeit bum-infested part of town; IKEA was a holy place. I still understand the attraction; you can get sharply styled stuff for cheap, but what once was a real true 90s thrill-ride now just looks like wood scraps pressed into shapes preferred by half-hearted socialists. You can have all of it.

The signs led me through the entire second floor, down a great staircase, and through the entire first floor. Load up the shelves on a cart, take them to the check-out. At least 20 checkout counters, each with at least three customers waiting. I got out to the car and back on the highway within 20 minutes of entering the store. A fine experience. And I may never go back.

Got home, undressed the shelves, examined the instructions. They bore little resemblance to the items on the floor. The shape of the end pieces was wrong. The instructions told me to put the chamfered edge up; there was no chamfered edge. I put them together anyway. Now to attach the back bracket to the holes . . . ah. There aren’t any holes. Go get the drill. Finish. One down, four to go.

Ikea screwed it up. Did I mention that the guys who installed the water sprinkler last year finished screwing that one up this week, when they send someone to look at the damage to the front yard? Long story. Never mind. A fellow from the windows company came over today to measure the grills and redo that project, which was screwed up. And you all remember the epic account of my Ten Service Calls to get the TV working.

This is why I am not completely undone by the news that it may take a while to fully electrify Iraq. It took DirecTV ten attempts to fix one dish, and no one was shooting at the techs.

Oh, right:
it’s Thurlsday. Behold Ikea’s site for my shelves. Study the product specs and the prices. Which would you choose?

This is a sin. I had no idea that the Chili Cheese Burrito was in danger. Aside from the humble “taco” that TB does so well, the Chili Cheese Burrito is the ultimate old-school Taco Bell food. It consists of a tortilla slathered with an inscrutable meat paste, drizzled with cheddar and steamed to death in a small machine. It’s perhaps the most potent fat-delivery system in fast food, and I lament its passing.

So you’re done with a hard day. You stop off at the Jollibee for a styro container of noodles and indistinct fish. You walk up the stairs – the lift’s out, again – and arrive at your flat panting and sweating. But you console yourself with the thought of a cold San Miguel, and maybe something interesting on TV. You enter your apartment – it’s hot, very humid, as it always is when you get home. You turn on the fan. You get that beer and take a long deep swig: ah. Things are better. At least you have tonight, eh? And that counts for something. You go to the windows to open the drapes – you close them during the day to keep the apartment from overheating – and you look out over the city. You take another swig. Hey, maybe you’ll go out tonight. Why not? Maybe meet some nice –

Whoa. You know, that buiding across the street looks like it’s moving.

Warning: Thurlsday gets a bit screedy now; those disinclined to endure my batcave screeches are advised to move along. Thanks for coming! See you tomorrow.

Got my union newspaper the other day. It had a cartoon that showed George Bush standing in a sack of crap. I googled the cartoonist. Whatever.

The same site has some brave cartoons by brave cartoonists risking the Gulag by protesting the Patriot Act, especially those clauses requiring all artists to register their brushes with the Justice Department. I am stunned. Did you know the Patriot Act mandated this?

It's amusing to see this come from people who've arranged a system where union dues are extracted from my paycheck, and used to promote political causes with which I may or may not agree. I like my union; they've backed me up when I was in a corner. I just wish they didn't force me to subsidize pictures of the president standing in a sack of shit, that's all. Is that too much to ask?

Let me be the first to say this about Kerry’s speech: I liked it better in the original French. This of course is a predictable twist on the remark about Buchanan’s stemwinder in ’92, famously described by some wag as sounding better in the original German. Hugh has been talking a lot this week about the Michael Moore factor at the convention, and whether his . . . peculiar remarks taint the party. Probably not. It won’t get reported in the dino media. If Pat Buchanan had said the Democrats woke up at 11 AM every day and tried to figure out how to screw white people today, I think that would get press. Moore says the Republicans wake at six and figure out how to screw minorities, and it’s ha ha colorful commentary from the merry prankster, and besides, Ann Coulter said some awful things, and besides, Pat Buchanan was a politician who actually got votes in the GOP primaries.

The last point is true, and relevant; it was made by a Democrat guest on Hewitt’s show. But it shows how things have changed. What makes a greater impact – getting some old flinty cranks in Vermont to pull the lever for you, or putting out a movie in every multiplex that practically accuses Bush of supplying box cutters to the 9/11 hijackers? Moore is a new-media politician, and just because he doesn’t stand for office doesn’t mean he’s not as much of a political operative as the people who prowl the hustings and grimace their way through a New England flap-jack photo-op. And spare me the Ann Coulter parallels. The day Ann Coulter shows up in the presidential box with a former POTUS, like Moore showed up with Jimmy Carter, we can talk.

I was at both conventions in 1992, and the GOP version was a dispirited affair. Clinton had sparkle, the big mo, and a foundering economy to hammer; Bush was your father’s Oldsmobile. “Change” was the mantra. After 12 years we needed “Change,” whatever that might be, and the sax-blowin’ shades-wearin’ hubba-double-Bubba ticket had a fresh cachet the Bush team could not match. The Buchanan speech was a disaster – and not just for its effect on the swingers. I remember sitting in a bar the night of the speech with a portly squat guy covered in GOP buttons, listening to his lament. “This isn’t my party,” he said. “Okay maybe he has a point here, or another point there, but that speech – that’s not my party.”

If Moore introduced Kerry and gave a typical speech – “The Republicans have hate for breakfast!” – how many delegates would later lament that their party had become something they no longer recognized? Don’t know. Just asking. But I do know that the 96 convention had a different attitude towards the nominees than I sense from the 04 DNC convention. Bush 41 never really fired up the troops. But in 96 people liked Dole. They knew in their bones he was going to crater, and they knew that the Dole on the stump was a dull version of the real thing. Bob Dole was smart, peppery, funny as hell (really) and lacking in that ponderous self-importance that settles into a Senator’s heart. He was really a good guy. And he was going to lose. Ah well.

I don’t sense the same affection for Kerry. I also don’t think it matters. Right now I have a browser window open to Fark, and a T-shirt ad shows Bush’s face with the logo “American Psycho.” What else do you need to know? As Teddy Kennedy said in his convention speech: “The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.” It’s really quite simple, isn’t it? We live in a manufactured climate of fear ginned up by war-crazed neocon overlords. There is no threat. The only thing we have to fear is Bush, who sits as we speak in the Oval Office sucking the marrow from Whoopi’s shin-bones.

If so, I wonder why anyone agreed to the stringent security policies that characterize this year’s conventions. Why the bomb-sniffing dogs? Why the snipers? Why the metal detectors, the invasive inspection of bags? Is it all an elaborate defense against Bush crashing the party and setting off a bomb belt, shouting God is Great, y’all!

No, they’re fearful of something else.

Damned if I know what, though. Damned if I know.


Amazon Honor SystemClick Here to PayLearn More
c. 1995-2004 j. lileks