04:46 A new frontier for illegal aliens. (And some geography.)
08:24 Suburban warfare. (Dueling executives.)
18:27 In praise of suburbia. (And fie! to Pete Seeger.)
25:07 Narrative reinforcement. (Death on the F train.)
32:46 Language Police latest. (”Incarceratees”?)
34:03 Towards a battery-powered jumbo jet. (It’ll be a while.)
35:41 Fun with words. (But mispronounced.)
37:15 Signoff. (For Mother’s Day.)
01—Intro. If you're wondering what that was, it was Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2 engineered to be in the style of The Shadows.
If you're wondering who the heck The Shadows were, they were a British rock group back in the early 1960s, an exceptionally good one, who lowered themselves considerably in the esteem of teenage rock fans by hiring themselves out as backing group for Cliff Richard.
Well, that's all rock music history; British rock music history, to make it a double-strength insomnia cure. Since I've started off here in the early 1960s, though, let me stay there a couple of minutes longer before proceeding to news commentary.
Here's a little number that was stamped on vinyl just sixty years ago, in 1963. Don't hit the stop button, the performer here is American, the late Pete Seeger. Play it, Pete.
[Clip: Pete Seeger, Little Boxes.]
Plainly Ol' Pete wasn't a fan of suburbia. He scoffed at the shoddy-built houses inhabited by middle-class professional types who played golf and drank their martinis dry.
"What a bunch of dull, conformist losers! Listen to us young rebels! We'll stir things up, pull down those ticky-tacky little boxes, build something … I dunno … better. Yes, a better America! Freer, more equal, more creative! No more dull conformism!"
So how'd that work out?
And where am I going with this? To the suburbs, obviously. Why? Let me tell you.
02—A new frontier for illegal aliens. You've seen those news pictures and videos of thousands, tens of thousands of people from all over the world storming across our southern border into the U.S.A. You've seen them, and you'll be seeing a lot more of them since Title 42 restrictions were dropped last night.
Where are they all going? So far their main destinations—and the destinations the border-jumpers themselves favor—have been our big cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, and so on.
Big-city budgets are buckling under the strain, though. New destinations are needed: destinations like … the suburbs.
That's how things are shaping up here in the New York area, anyway. First, if you'll excuse me, a wee geography lesson.
Starting from downtown New York City, ride the subway up to the Bronx and then take a flying leap off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River. Now swim north up the Hudson with New Jersey on your left-hand side, the Bronx on your right.
On that right-hand side you soon leave the city altogether while remaining in New York State; you are looking at Westchester County—at the town of Yonkers, where true love conquers.
Continuing to swim north, on your left-hand side the land ceases to be New Jersey and becomes the county of Rockland, in New York State. So now it's New York State on both sides of the river: Rockland County on the west, Westchester County on the east. Those are the two suburban counties just north of New York City—the inner suburbs of the Big Apple.
The equivalent on Long Island, when you exit New York City to the east, is Nassau County—inner-suburban.
If you keep swimming north up the Hudson the land to your left and right becomes outer-suburban: Putnam County on the right, Orange County on the left. The equivalent out here on Long Island, outer-suburbia east of Nassau County, is Suffolk County, where the Derbs have lived these 31 years past.
So: Rockland, Westchester, Nassau, are New York City's inner-suburban counties. Orange, Putnam, Suffolk, outer-suburban. Got it?
Now we're properly oriented in space, let's go to the news.
03—Suburban warfare. Imagine my feelings, as a happy suburbanite, when I saw the cover of my May 8th New York Post. Headline, printed in letters two inches high: SUBURBAN WARFARE.
Below that headline were pictures of two middle-aged men. The one on the right, a black guy, I recognized as Eric Adams, New York City's corrupt and clueless mayor. The one on the left, a white guy, was a stranger to me.
What's it all about? Well, as I told you last week, Mayor Adams is in a bind.
Like the urban fools who elected him—and indeed, like Pete Seeger, who was a New York City native—Hizzoner is a far-left love-the-world progressive. He has been immensely proud of his city's status as a sanctuary for illegal aliens, the city's law-enforcement authorities forbidden to aid in the enforcement of immigration laws.
In Spring last year governors and mayors in southern border states started shipping their colossal burden of border-jumpers to big cities in the North, including New York. That has left Mayor Adams looking like the fool he is.
More than sixty thousand illegals have arrived in the city these past twelve months. The city has had to take over hotels and homeless shelters and erect more than 120 emergency shelters as well as eight "humanitarian relief centers."
The cost is in the low billions—close to a thousand dollars per working adult city resident. The impact on life in the city—on hospitals, schools, and law enforcement—can only be imagined.
What's a big-city mayor to do under such dire circumstances? Dump on the suburbs, that's what. Last Friday, May 5th, we learned that the Adams administration has leased space in two hotels in Rockland County, northwest of the city.
Yes: Mayor Adams wants to ship a few hundred illegals to inner-suburban Rockland County. That, of course, is just to start with: as we all know by now, a few hundred illegal aliens soon becomes a few thousand, then a few ten-thousands, and so on, to the tens of millions currently living here in defiance of our laws but with the smiling approval of our ruling class.
The Rockland County authorities are furious about Mayor Adams housing illegals there. Apparently they weren't consulted; Adams just leased space in those two hotels without any notification to county or town officials.
Here was County Executive Ed Day—he's the white guy with Adams on that New York Post front cover—speaking on a local radio station last weekend, quote:
Mr Adams, you can try to run us over and I will reach up and grab you by the throat for the people of Rockland County. Within that cadre of people who are coming here, who are not vetted, we have child rapists, we have criminals, we have MS-13. There's a reason why there's a process.
Don't hold back there, Sir. Tell us how you really feel.
County Executive Day didn't limit himself to venting on the radio. He declared a state of emergency and established a licensing requirement for hotels to stop them housing illegals, with a fine of two thousand dollars per illegal per day for violations.
Latest news on the situation is that County Executive Day has not yet been able to grab Mayor Adams by the throat, but still wants to. Quote from him on Wednesday, quote:
This is a renegade operation on the part of the mayor, and I cannot even begin to believe what's going on at this point. I have never seen such bullying and arrogance in my entire career.
Mayor Adams has reacted by accusing County Executive Day of … See if you can guess. Yes: racism! Quote from Hizzoner speaking yesterday, Thursday:
So when you look at the County Executive Day—this guy has a record of being antisemitic, racist comments. His thoughts and how he responded to this really shows a lack of leadership. I thought he was the Texas governor the way he acted.
Suburban warfare indeed. And if you're wondering how that word "antisemitic" got in there, let Wikipedia give you a clue. Quote from there:
The county has the largest Jewish population percentage of any U.S. county, at 31.4 percent or 90,000 residents.
And that 90,000 Rockland County Jews isn't all Conservative, Reform, or non-observant Jews who dress and live like us Gentiles. Wait: did I say "isn't all"? It isn't even mostly. An actual majority of that 90,000 are Hasidic Jews.
The Jewish newspaper Forward reported three years ago that, quote:
In the last two decades the Hasidic Jewish community in Rockland has more than doubled to at least about 50,000 people, experts estimate, out of about 325,000 total residents in the county. Meanwhile the non-Orthodox Jewish community has shrunk, and synagogue membership decreased by as much as half in some synagogues, according to the most recent community survey, from 2015.
That has led to social stresses and strains, with the Hasidim taking over school boards, firing non-Hasidic teachers, eliminating sports programs, and so on.
The stresses and strains are not Jewish-Gentile; they pit the Hasidim against all non-Hasidic residents, Gentile and Jewish both. That article from the Forward I just quoted is precisely about tensions between Hasidic and non-Hasidic Jews.
People involved with New York City politics, as Eric Adams has been for many years, don't think much about the suburbs. The city is a meal all by itself; it doesn't leave room in your head for much else.
They hear odds and ends about the suburbs, and assemble them into a vague sketchy picture, like the mental image a not-very-well-traveled citizen of Country A has about Countries B, C, and D: the French are arrogant, the Brits are stuffy, Italians are excitable, Russians are gloomy drunks, and so on.
For New York City residents, the clashes between the Hasidim and everyone else are likely the only things about Rockland County to have seeped into their consciousness.
Whether there are any plausible grounds for tagging Rockland County Executive Ed Day as an antisemite, I have no idea, and I bet Mayor Adams has none either. It's just a handy extra accusation lying around to throw in when accusing someone of racism.
04—The backbone of Western Civilization. Having inflicted Pete Seeger on you back there, and with suburbs apparently designated by our ruling class as next target for the Biden Rush, please allow me to air my own feelings about suburbia.
I like it, and I have a paper trail to prove the fact.
Way back in my writing career—March 1999—I wrote a column for National Review in praise of suburbia.
Al Gore, who was then Vice President—remember Al Gore?—had promoted a document out of the federal Department of Transportation titled "Building Livable Communities for the 21st Century."
Scanning the document—I couldn't swear that I actually read it—I got the impression it was anti-suburb.
Having at that point been very happily settled for seven years in an outer suburb of New York City, I frowned at that. Quote from me: "I shall give up my lawn mower when they prise it from my cold dead fingers." End quote.
Yes, I like suburbia. I still live in the same house I lived in when I wrote that column twenty-four years ago, on the same one-sixth of a suburban acre.
My strong desire is to go on living here until I hear Gabriel blow his horn; and then, if the metaphysical arrangements of the Afterlife permit it, to go on dwelling here as a disembodied spirit—a ghost, although I promise I won't be any trouble to later occupants.
Here are things to like about suburbia.
Have I sufficiently expressed my feelings about suburban living? I think so.
I'll only add that suburbia has been considerably democratized since Pete Seeger strummed his banjo. None of my neighbors is a doctor, a lawyer, or a business executive of any standing. We are lower-middle- and middle-middle-class—the salt of the Earth, the backbone of Western Civilization.
05—Narrative Reinforcement. It seems that any organized society needs some widely-accepted narrative to reassure citizens that the world is stable across time. State religions used to do that. To reinforce the narrative there would be occasional reports of miracles, heavenly visitations, or heroic martyrdom.
We no longer have a state religion, but something similar has widespread appeal. Within our narrative, the most cherished story of all—cherished by millions of Americans, and even by American-influenced populations in other countries—is the narrative of helpless, unhappy, or unfortunate black people suffering and dying at the hands of leering, heartless white persecutors.
This narrative, like those older ones, needs constant reinforcement. When an event occurs that can, with a bit of stretching and media manipulation, be taken as reinforcement to the narrative, that event is pumped up into a nationwide sensation, with believers moved to passion, their faith confirmed.
Some sleight of hand is usually necessary. A medical examiner may need to be leaned on; a prosecutor replaced, a judge carefully chosen, a jury intimidated …
It's all easily done, although for guaranteed success it's best done in big-city jurisdictions with progressive judges and jurors eager to help reinforce the narrative. In lesser locales, the necessary manipulations may not work.
The current candidate for the title Major Narrative Reinforcement Event is the May 1st death of Jordan Neely on a New York City subway train. Neely was thirty years old, black, indigent, and crazy. He had a long rap sheet—more than forty arrests.
Neely was, in short, one of those people—invariably black—who make riding the New York City subway a miserable lottery, with the lottery prize being that you emerge from the subway at your destination alive, uninjured, un-insulted and un-robbed.
Neely was screaming, yelling, threatening other riders and throwing garbage around in his subway carriage until a young white guy, 24-year-old Daniel Penny, overpowered him and held him in a neck hold.
When police eventually arrived Neely was lying on the floor of the car unconscious. He was pronounced dead in hospital; the city medical examiner ruled his death a homicide from neck compression. I'm not clear at what point he died.
Now all the race racketeers—Al Sharpton, Benjamin Crump, the Black Lives Matter mob—are up in arms, staging protests and demonstrations. Alvin Bragg, Manhattan's black communist D.A., has had the white guy arrested and charged with manslaughter in the second degree, a-a-a-and we're off …
Celebrities will be chiming in, I've no doubt, and big corporations will reach for their checkbooks. With a Manhattan judge and a jury of blacks and progressive whites, young Daniel Penny—a Marine veteran—will get a stiff jail sentence. And the narrative will have been reinforced.
Neely, the deceased, was well-known to New York City authorities, and not only the police. The city's Department of Homeless Services, we have learned, keeps a list of the top fifty street people most in need of attention. Neely was on the list.
The news and commentary on this case, even the more intelligent sort, talks about Neely's fate as a failure of public services—a failure to provide him with the treatment he obviously needed. You can Ctrl-F pretty much any story about the case for the words "treatment" and "help," and you'll get a hit.
I'm skeptical. We don't actually have any effective treatments for madness. We have no help for these poor souls. I covered this whole issue a year ago here on Radio Derb.
As I said back then, psychiatry is mostly a bogus pseudoscience. There are psychoactive drugs that can give some relief in some cases; but, as I also said, quote: "Most psychiatric medicines are either placebos or mild narcotics. None of them cures anything." End quote.
And, of course, the patient has to be functioning well enough to take the drugs voluntarily, which crazy people mostly aren't.
What we can do is shut crazy people away from the rest of us: incarcerate them, humanely but firmly, where they can't do harm to normal citizens. We used to do that. Then, starting back in the 1950s, we stopped doing it. That was a mistake.
Jordan Neely belonged in an asylum, along with the other 49 people on that Department of Homeless Services list.
New York City has found accommodation for sixty thousand foreign scofflaws, but they can't provide humane incarceration for fifty citizen lunatics? Are we really that deep into social failure?
06—Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: If you're wondering where the Language Police will strike next, here's a news item from across the pond.
Daily Mail Online, May 11th reports that employees of Britain's Prison Service have been ordered by the bureaucrats who supervise the Service to stop calling criminals "convicts" on the grounds it is "offensive." They should henceforth say only "prisoners" or "offenders."
The report says the chairman of the Prison Officers' Association, representing actual prison staff, is unhappy about the new order. Quote from him:
There is nothing offensive about that language when you are describing someone who has been convicted and incarcerated.
How do the jailbirds themselves feel about it? We are not told.
Item: Three podcasts ago, in regard to the climate cultists demanding we move away from fossil fuels, I wondered aloud, quote: "How far along have we progressed in the development of battery-powered jumbo jets?" End quote.
Yesterday the mailman brought my subscription copy of Literary Review, the May issue. What should I find on page 23 but a review of a book titled Flying Green: On the Frontiers of New Aviation. As the title tells you, it's about, yes, making aviation more sustainable.
To judge from this review, the prospects are not bright. Sample, concerning electric flight, quote:
There is exciting potential for small aircraft over short distances, but if you are serious about reducing emissions you'd be better off electrifying ground transport for the great majority of journeys.
So if you're waiting for that battery-powered jumbo jet … the flight's delayed.
Item: You learn something every day.
Earlier this week I was in company with some other people when one accused another of speaking in platitudes.
I asked aloud: "If 'platitude' is a word in our language, why isn't 'plongitude'?"
The others laughed politely and conversation moved on. Back in my study, though, I got to wondering: Could it just possibly be that "plongitude" is a real word?
I went to the internet. Would you believe it, there it was in the Urban Dictionary.
plongitude: A platitude made for the express purpose of moving the conversation away from an uncomfortable topic. "Tanya was bitching to me about her romantic problems, so I threw out a plongitude to get her to stop."
Uh-huh. I'll admit I don't quite get that … but I've just remembered, hearing myself say it, that I used the British pronunciation of "longitude." Here in the colonies we say "lonjitude," right? Sorry!
07—Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your time and attention; and if you are blessed to have your mother still among us, show her your love without qualification or restraint on Sunday, Mother's Day.
To sing us out, here is the great John McCormack with Mother Machree, the Platonic ideal of a sentimental Mother's Day song—the mother of them all, in fact. And no, "Machree" is not the lady's name; it is the Anglicized pronunciation of a two-word Irish expression meaning "my heart."
If, like me, you are motherless in this world, I challenge you to sit all the way through the song with dry eyes.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: John McCormack, "Mother Machree."]