Weekly Roundup: Upgraded To “Immigrant” Edition

Over the course of fifteen years, the man whom the court called “Garcia Zarate” in what appears to be a tossed-dart pick of his twenty-plus unverifiable aliases — he entered the United States at least five times for the purpose of heroin transport, distribution, and sale. He was caught with the stuff all up and down the West Coast in quantities from minor to outrageous. He was caught and released over and over again like an old trout with an African tribe’s worth of scarring from hooks. They could jail him, but they couldn’t keep him out of the country. Twice he was arrested within sixty days of his last deportation.

A few years ago, “Zarate” was dicking around with a pistol on a crowded pier. He said that he was shooting at the harbor seals until his defense attorney told him it was a bad excuse. So then he changed his story and said that he picked up a brand-new, government-issued Sig-Sauer and it just went off. Only a fool could believe that story — but San Francisco has never had a shortage of fools. Or maybe they played Anubis and weighed the hearts of Zarate and his victim, Kate Steinle, finding the latter wanting.

In the near future, Zarate will be released and deported again. He’ll be back. Count on it.

As you’d expect, the media found the phrase “illegal immigrant” be far more offensive than the random murder of an unimportant young woman from Flyoverland, so Zarate was upgraded to “undocumented immigrant” in headlines from New York to San Diego. It’s worth noting that this is in no way correct. Zarate was convicted of felony immigration violations. Even if you accept the neologism “undocumented immigrant” for someone who enters the United States illegally, Zarate was more than that. He was convicted of illegal immigration. He was an illegal immigrant, plain and simple.

The Los Angeles Times, however, could not even stomach the word “undocumented” when applied to this beautiful soul, this dreamer, this true American. He became simply an “immigrant”. USA Today took it further, being careful both to call Zarate a plain-Jane immigrant and to reassure the readers that his previous felonies were “nonviolent”. Maybe he removed mattress tags? Committed securities fraud? Surely it wasn’t dealing heroin, because anybody with access to a television or a rap album knows that the heroin business is a violent one.

So here’s to you, Garcia Zarate, soon to be free as a bird and back in the United States to prey on a system that explicitly values your God-given right to deal heroin over the lives of innocent American citizens. And here’s to you, San Francisco, and to your self-righteous “sanctuary city” status that directly resulted in the death of Kate Steinle. And here’s to you, USA Today, the paper that never failed to put “Pharma Bro” in front of a Shkreli story but made sure not to hurt the sensibilities of Zarate’s Stateside fans and supporters by referring to him as anything other than an “immigrant”.

The Trump supporters on Reddit like to say “Two scoops! Two genders! And Two Terms!” Regardless of how you feel about Mr. Trump, if you don’t understand that this verdict brought the last item on that list much closer to a certainty then you’re not paying attention. And to that list, I suppose you can add “two Americas”: the people who mourned Kate Steinle’s death, and the people who cheered yet another victory for their vision of an America that looks exactly like San Francisco, right down to the convenient death of all unpersons.

God bless Miss Steinle. May she find peace in heaven.

Alright, here’s this week’s roundup.

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No Longer Made In The USA: Cone Mills, Thanks To The Human Garbage At “Platinum Equity”

Heritage America, meet Modern America. One year ago, the International Textile Group was purchased by Platinum Equity Partners. If you’re not familiar with what “private equity” firms do, it’s this: They buy companies that are perceived as undervalued, then they go through and ruthlessly force every aspect of that company through a race-to-the-bottom process. The newly-efficient parts of the company are then stripped and sold. It is a process by which the rich become richer and the poor become unemployed, and it represents late-stage capitalism at its bloodthirsty, inhumane worst.

The flagship plant of International Textile Group is the Cone Mills denim production facility in North Carolina. Few people expected that it would survive the private-equity process. Sure enough, ITG announced that it is terminating production and closing the plant after 117 years of operation. Think of that! This plant survived the world wars, the Great Depression, the energy crisis, the Carter Depression, and the 2008 recession. But it couldn’t survive a year of private-equity management.

The employees are sad, but proud to have made the world’s finest denim. From now on, the high-end denim market will be entirely owned by the Japanese, who treasure the concept of “American jeans” and who have created modern machines to faithfully reproduce the irregularities of Cone Mills’ century-old production line. There will still be denim fabric made in America, courtesy of “Denim North America” in Georgia. You will still be able to get USA-made denim jeans from Dearborn and a few other suppliers. But the real high-end fabric, the stuff that makes my Flint&Tinder jeans so perfect, the fabric that served as the basis for the USA-made Lucky 363 Vintage jeans — that’s gone with the wind. So a bunch of billionaire jerkoffs can increase their rate of return by a fraction of a percent.

If you want to try the Cone Mills products before it’s too late, I’ve rounded up some options for you, based on some personal experience.

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This is 40

Warning: Stream of Consciousness typing ahead.

I turned 40 two weeks ago. My kids made a big deal of it, with black balloons, and funny signs around the house that said things like “Lordy, Lordy, Dad is 40.” It was cute. I spent about half of my Age 39 Season telling people that I was 40, anyway, so when the actual day came, it didn’t seem like a big deal. I’ve made a million jokes about being “halfway to the eternal dirt nap,” and although death doesn’t exactly excite me, I no longer fear it like I once did.

I think what messes with most people when they hit a milestone birthday is what I like to call the “Should Haves.” Everybody has a list of things that they think that they should have accomplished/attained/obtained by their 40th (or 30th or 50th, etc.) birthday. I’ve heard countless friends and family say things like “I should have a million dollars in my retirement account my the time I’m 40,” or “I should be the Vice President of Sales for my company,” or “I should have my house paid off.”

Frankly, I don’t worry about that sort of thing very much. I know it’s very much in vogue to set goals and achieve them, blah blah. Listen, I’ve been in ridiculously good shape (two years ago) and I’ve been twenty lbs overweight (um, probably now). I’ve had six figures in my checking account and I’ve had a red number in my checking account. I’ve managed a group of 80 people and I’ve been an individual contributor. I’ve had Hyundais and I’ve had Porsches. And what I’ve learned from all of my material and frankly solipsistic obsessions over the years is this:

None of it matters very much unless you are happy and healthy. But I’m starting to think about health and happiness in a different way now.

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Counterpoint—Soccer Isn’t Easy (And Neither are Basketball, Football, Hockey, Baseball, Track, etc.)

It will shock much of the autowriting and autowritingreading worlds (I made that second one up but I like it) to know that my brother and I are not terribly similar people. For example, our writing voices can be similar, at times, but I tend to use simpler language and fewer words to communicate my points. Politically, I’m very much a traditional conservative, whereas I think he might have voted for Bernie, if the DNC had given him the chance.

This difference manifests itself in many other ways, as well, but as we are no longer spring chickens and have both transferred much of our attention to our kids, the most obvious is in the way we parent our children.

I had a much more traditional sort of suburban youth than Jack did—I was the same age as my classmates, and I was merely smart enough to be in the LEAP-style programs. I was social in the ways that most kids are, and much of my social interaction came from team sports. I was on my school’s football, basketball, and track and field teams, I played summer league baseball, and I traveled around the midwest doing AAU-style and 3-on-3 basketball tournaments as well. I also played recreational youth soccer from age 6 to age 12. I did the BMX thing, too, but by the time I was 14 I had pretty much left it behind in favor of more traditional team sports.

I can say without any sort of bragging (because who brags about things they did 20+ years ago) that I won multiple championships in every sport I every played—some just of the travel team tournament variety (soccer, baseball), some of the more intramural variety (Ohio State 3-on-3 basketball and flag football) or informal type (Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball), some sanctioned state titles (football, track and field), and even an international competition or two. I was never a star player (with the exception of baseball), not by any means, but I was a always a more-than-competent cog of some exceptional team efforts.

Therefore, I am more than slightly irked when my brother says to his son, as he did in his post today, “The sports at your school, soccer and basketball — they’re easy.”

No. They’re not. Not even close.

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This Is Why Writing For Free Is Bad For Everybody (And Creates Headlines Like This)


Back in the day, right around 1997 or so, I was a struggling musician.

This is, of course, a lie. I was driving a brand-new Infiniti G20, going to school on a full scholarship, and dating a girl whom my brother liked to call a “better looking Julia Roberts.” But, I was struggling with finding ways to advance my musical career. I was playing a lot of blues with a young Sean Carney, a prodigiously talented guitarist who would go on to win the Albert King award some years later (you can hear what we sounded at that point by clicking the above Spotify link), but it was tough to find jazz gigs. Columbus, Ohio had a limited number of jazz clubs—Dick’s Den, The Dell—and they only had music Friday and Saturday nights. Those slots were occupied by the jazz royalty of the town, mostly music faculty members at Ohio State and Capital University.

So, in a bit of desperation, I did something that I thought was a pretty smart move. I went to the proprietor of The Dell and proposed that I would play for free once a month. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “I’m going to pretend like you never came here. And, for your sake, you had better hope that none of your teachers who play here find out that you were here, either.” Turns out that was called “undercutting,” and it was a definite no-no in the professional music world. In fact, that sort of practice is what led to the formation of musicians’ unions in the bigger cities and symphony orchestras of America.

Fast forward twenty years, and I’m no longer peddling free music. Instead, I send pitches to the editors of automotive publications. However, now I’m one of the guys who’ve earned the right to be paid for their craft, like my teachers were before me. The difference is that when the young bucks try to undercut me or my esteemed journalist colleagues, there are no shortage of editors who are willing to let them do it, for as little as $25 a post—or, in many cases, for no money at all.

This is bad for everybody.

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A Delayed Response To A Relevant Question


As y’all may have noticed, we don’t follow any sort of posting schedule here at the Green. Yes, it’s true that we should be posting everything at 11:00 Eastern time on Mondays and Tuesdays for maximum traffic, but since the total lifetime revenue generated by this site is slightly less than one cent, it really doesn’t matter. The result of this is that I often don’t read all the comments on each post, because they sometimes trickle in days later due to the fact that we might go a day or two without a new post from time to time.

That being said, there is a comment that I want to address, and I want to ensure that it doesn’t get buried in the comments section on a post from two weeks ago. The comment, from Duong Nguyen on the “Green Heck” Weekly Roundup, goes a little something like this:

This Lotus and Acura drives are really stepping a wee bit close to the journasar buffet line for my taste… I mean Bark is mentioning Acura PR flacks in his instagram posts and Jack gets a free ride in a one off Lotus painted in his favorite car color? I just don’t see how these things don’t influence what gets written.

I’ll still keep reading, just wanted to point this out. I know there’s not really an ideal way around it.

Excellent comment/point/statement. And as one of the more vocal critics of the “journosaur buffet line” culture, myself, I think it requires an answer.

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Ask Bark: Keep FiSTing, Ride The Pony, Or Let’s Do Both?

Sean writes:

Hey Mark,

As a current owner of a 2016 Fiesta ST, I absolutely love the car as I learned to drive stick on it! It is incredibly fun, a perfect daily and I get 30 mpg city driving in it. However, I always had a love for Mustangs. I have been eyeing the a ’17 Race Red GT Premium with the Performance Pack. I recently bought a townhouse in suburban Chicago with a two car garage. I figured I would keep the ST since it is paid off and use the GT as my weekend/fun 3 season car even though the Fiesta is paid off and I would have to finance the GT. I was debating trading in the ST, but I am afraid I would miss it too much and not to mention take the depreciation hit. I did love the GT after the test drive!

I can swing the payments on the GT to keep both cars, but here is the catch….I hate my job.

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No, You Shouldn’t Be Okay With A Mediocre Life

If one more, well, mediocre person I know shares the January blog post, “What If All I Want Is A Mediocre Life?” I’m gonna choke the mediocre life right out of him/her. As with most Facebook shares, I’m guessing that at least fifty people didn’t even read the post, but simply saw the title as an excuse for their own lamentable mediocrity and clicked “Share” without a moment’s hesitation. “Yes! I’m a MOM and a TEACHER and I’m PROUD OF IT!” Well, okay, then. Your biggest accomplishments are a biological act and having a career that is typically chosen by the stupidest college students. Congrats, you’re even less than mediocre!

The first thing that you should know about this blog post was that it was written by Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Dagui (I can’t begin to understand how that name was generated), who is a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant™ & Joyful Living Educator. This is Not a Real Fucking Job. And the trademark is the author’s, not mine.

But let’s get past the ad hominem attacks and get to the meat of the post, shall we? Yeah, let’s.

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Okay, So We Didn’t Podcast, But We Did Make Videos!

The New York International Auto Show is a funny thing. You can run into the same people twenty times in a day, and also go the entire show without running into a friend at all (Hi, Alex!). I attended about half a dozen parties, saw a few presentations on the show floor, and walked about 20,000 steps per day. However, what I did NOT do was see my dear brother very much. So the much ballyhooed second edition of the Barkcast didn’t happen.

But I did make a few videos with my friends, the Boost Brothers. Above is the first of them, which briefly discusses the Dodge Hellcat and Demon but does not show my awesome blue Allen Edmonds Neumoks that I was wearing for the shoot. Alas. You should watch it anyway. In the days to come, we’ll also have videos about the Acura TLX and NSX, the Honda Civic Type R, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, and the entire Ford Performance lineup. Check it out!