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Obscured American: Dan the Cheese Counter Man
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Dan in Friendly Lounge, 2016

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Jokers are bad news. You don’t want to sit next to one in a bar.

This day, I heard, again, about a man who ordered ten shots of whiskey after getting a blow job, and a man who got a bullet in his ass while humping someone’s wife. “Had he shown up a minute earlier, I’d have gotten shot in the head!” I learnt of a guy who went to the movies with a rooster in his pants.

“I know hundreds of them!” Dan threatened.

Flagged months ago, Dan drifted back that morning because he just couldn’t deal with work. When I walked in around 2PM, the 56-year-old was pestering 33-year-old B.B. to go out with him.

“I don’t want to go on a date with you.”

“I didn’t ask you to go on a date. I just asked if you wanted dinner, that’s all. When are we going out to dinner?”

“We’re not.”

“We can just talk about things, as friends. It won’t be a date. We can just talk as friends.”

“I’m not your friend. You’re just some guy I know from the streets. Can you just leave me alone so I can do my work?”

“I just asked if you wanted to go out to dinner, that’s all. I didn’t ask you for nothing else.”

“I have nothing against you, but we’re not going to dinner, OK?”

“If you want dinner, I can even bring it to you. Do you respect me for that?”

“I don’t want anything from you. It’s not personal.”

“I didn’t say anything inappropriate. I didn’t say anything bad. Respect don’t cost nothing.”

When B.B. had to go to the bathroom, Dan asked, “You need a hand?”

Now, you can see why he had been kicked out, and B.B. didn’t endure all this crap for tips, either. Dan doesn’t tip. After his last cent is gone, he’ll ask for credit.

B.B. is just tolerant. To deny anyone of boozy fellowship isn’t cool, she knows.

“Oh my God, you’re showing too much leg! Cover that shoulder up! You’re too sexy to work in this bar!”

Perched next to Dan was his sister, Renee. She lives in deep South Philly with her husband, Dan and two other tenants. Recently, one of them got shit faced and mouthed off, so she punched him. That’s why her right hand was in a cast. “Only my husband can call me names,” Renee explained. “My tenant’s got a hard head and didn’t even feel it. He’s Italian. I’ve known him since we were kids.”

The punched man pays Renee $300 a month, plus $100 in food stamps. It’s a sweet deal. When Renee cooks, she cooks for everybody. I know an old man in her neighborhood who pays nothing to sleep on a couch. The homeowner just feels sorry for him. During the daytime, though, he must disappear.

On Renee’s tiny front lawn, there’s a large American flag, plus a tribal flag. Way before the housing boom, Renee bought her three-story for only $70,000. Back then, there were many more shootings in Point Breeze.

Dan pays utilities and buys Renee cigarettes, plus some food and beer. That’s all.

Hearing of Renee’s right cross, recently-jailed B.B. said, “You could have been put in handcuffs.”

Dan pounced, “I’d love to put some handcuffs on you!”

An hour into my conversation with Dan, B.B. texted me, “Jesus Christ, he just goes on and on, and you can barely understand a word!” When Dan said he was related to Wayne Newton, B.B. shouted from the end of the bar, “Figs Newton!”

Just about every syllable was slurred or half swallowed. With his brain sloshed in Budweiser, the white-haired, moustachioed man could barely move his jaw or tongue. Dan also has no front teeth. Don’t tell me, though, that he doesn’t make sense.

In my crowd, dental care is an exotic concept. I myself haven’t seen a dentist since 2000, when I was last in Vietnam. In Friendly, I overheard a woman say, “How do you expect me to get a job with no teeth?! How will I eat?” Another, “Say goodbye to your teeth, honey. I hope you liked them when you had them.” I saw a woman in her mid 40’s spit out her false teeth, laughing at a joke, and no, it wasn’t by Dan. His jokes are never funny.

Suddenly liberated, those teeth seemed so alive on the floor, I fully expected them to declare something profound or witty, before skipping away from its flustered owner, out the door.

When Dan went to the bathroom, Renee leaned over and laughingly recounted the time her brother tried to commit suicide with a garden hose, “But don’t ask him about it. He’ll kill me!”

It was unseasonably warm, so the bar door was open. Across the street was the lottery stand with a small counter for customers to scratch their losing tickets. The couple running it are Indians from India. Dan buys $5 from them each day.

I’m three quarters Indian. I have a little bit of Irish, Dutch and German in me.

I’m descended from Pocahontas, 16th generation. You know, Pocahontas, John Smith and all that. I’m a Tsenacommacah.

The reservation is in Prince Williams County in Virginia. I go there every once in a while, when I get a chance.

I’m related to Wayne Newton.

Down there, you get everything for free. They don’t pay no taxes. They pay for nothing.

It’s not boring. They have a homecoming. They have a pow-wow.

It’s not my style of life. I mean, you’ve got to have a car. I ain’t got no car.

I’m not down there because I’m from Philly. I was born in Philadelphia.

My cousin has a store on the reservation. He sells souvenirs to tourists, but they’re Cherokee shit. The tourists don’t know no better.

This blonde gets on an airplane, right? Beautiful fuckin’ blonde! She goes up and sits in first class.

The stewardess comes up. She says, “Ma’am, can I see your ticket?”

“Yeah, you can see my ticket. Here’s the ticket.”

“Ma’am, this is first class customers only. You’ve got to sit in coach.”

“I’m blonde. I’m beautiful. I’m sitting right here. I’m going to California!”

So the stewardess says, “OK, I’ll be right back,” and she goes to get the pilot.

The pilot comes out. He says, “Ma’am, what seems to be the problem here? Let me see your ticket.” The pilot looks at it. “Ma’am, you’ve got to sit in coach.”

“I’m blonde. I’m beautiful. I’m sitting right here. I’m going to California!”

The co-pilot comes out. He whispers into her ear. She gets up and goes to sit in coach!

The pilot says, “What the hell did you tell her?!”

“I told her this part of the plane don’t go to California.”

I started working in the Italian Market in 1969, when I was nine-years-old. I worked there until I was a teenager.

Then I moved to Norfolk, VA. My brother was in the navy. I lived with his wife. I had a job at a supermarket, Farmfresh, for over two years, then I worked in a warehouse.

I was a driver for RC Cola for nine years.

Then I moved back to Philadelphia and worked at Maglio’s Sausage Company, then I worked at a body shop, then I moved to Maryland.

I worked at the United States Naval Academy for over three years.


Now I run a cheese counter in the Italian Market. I work from 7:30 to 5, and I get $65 a day, under the table. I get a half hour lunch break. I also get tips, so I make about $75 a day. I carry bags of potatoes to people’s cars. You know, wholesale.

I drink three or four beers a day because I have to deal with these fuckin’ people, black people. I hate everybody. Everybody is different. People are so fuckin’ stupid.

It’s like, they would ask for a quarter pound of American cheese. Why don’t you get half a pound?! It’s only $2! But they only want a quarter pound, so you have to cut it for them. A quarter pound! You can’t make a sandwich with a quarter pound!

“Give me $2’s worth of turkey bacon.” Turkey bacon is $3.99 a pound. “Give me $2’s worth of turkey bacon.” Why don’t you get whole fuckin’ pound?! You’ll be back in two days!

You can’t say shit because the customers are always right.

My boss tells me, “Motherfucker, go get me a fuckin’ case of lettuce!” Who are you talking to? I’m 56-years-old, and I ain’t fuckin’ dumb. Motherfuckin’ this, motherfuckin’ that, he’s like that. “There’s a customer. Get behind the fuckin’ counter!”

After work, sometimes I go to the parking lot by the Mexican restaurant. I get me two cans of Colt-45 for three bucks, and a $1.25 container of Carolina rice for the pigeons. It’s very relaxing, just sitting there in that parking lot.

I have hemochromatosis. My iron level is 766. I have Obamacare. I also get food stamps.

I’m trying to get disability. I got shot in my leg.

He shot me with a .45. Look at this side. See that right there? That’s my artery. They took a razor and did a little slit. There are still fragments inside.

Ten dollars! A black man shot me for $10!

This happened in Annapolis, MD.

Bluegrass festival. I brought some girl to her house. It was 3:30 in the morning.

I was out partying. It was a bluegrass festival. Horseshoes, fish fry and all that.

I got her home. I said, “Look, we’re here!” She was sleeping. It was 3:30 in the morning, 4 O’clock. It was summertime, 2001.

I said, “We’re here! We’re here!” Then I felt a gun next to my head.

I was in the car. He came to the side window. I was thinking, What is this? Then bam! He shot me in the leg, then he said, “This ain’t no game! Give me your money!”

Ten dollars! I gave him $10. I said to him, “I swear to God, I only have $10. Don’t kill me.”

He took off.

They flew me in a helicopter. They took everything off, my shoes, my clothes, everything. They flew me to Baltimore, Baltimore General Hospital.

This girl I used to live with, she stabbed me in the hand. Blood was coming out like a water fountain.

Why? Because I threw a handful of change at her. I had a whole bunch of fuckin’ change. She was smoking crack. I hit her right in the fuckin’ face. I was in the bar. Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar.

She walked back to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and stabbed me.

This guy’s wife passed away. I let him live with me for $50 a week, in my apartment. My girlfriend then had a baby by him. They were both smoking crack.

I had to hide my fuckin’ money. I kept it in my pants, right under my nuts, and she still got it.

I have two daughters, from two women. My older one is 26. She’s getting ready to get married. She’s in Georgia. My other daughter is in North Carolina.

I have two grandkids, with one on the way.

I also have a son, Daniel.

You know what’s a gentleman? A guy who can look at a pussy and not get a hard-on. Maybe a gynecologist. If you can count every hair on her cunt and not get a hard-on, you’re a gentleman.

Wish me luck. I’m going to win a thousand a week for life. I guess I ain’t going to work again!


With all the things I did in my life, I’m happy to be here.

I’m a good-hearted guy, man. I’ll give you the shirt off my back.

I gave the shirt off my back, and the socks off my feet, to this person last year. He had nothing. He was homeless.

This guy wanted to give me $900 for my van, but I told him, “Just take it.” It didn’t cost me nothing. Someone had given me the van.

I’m a giver, not a taker. I’m an Indian.

I don’t let them get to me. One day at a time, man.

Isn’t life wonderful?


Linh Dinh’s Postcards from the End of America will be published by Seven Stories Press in January of 2017. Tracking our deteriorating socialscape, he maintains a photo blog.

• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Obscured American, Poverty 
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  1. utu says:

    I am angry with you Mr. LINH DINH, you did not give anything to latch on to to feel at least a bit of empathy for Dan. I am sure there is something in Dan that could have change it but he did not reveal it to you or you did not want to report it.

    • Replies: @cucksworth
  2. Montefrío says: • Website

    These pieces are like a downmarket version of William Kennedy’s Ironweed, without question one of the most–if not the most–depressing novels I’ve ever read. Couldn’t finish this entry, didn’t really want to. It’s Thanksgiving Day up there in the USA, and I’m thankful to be nowhere near the Friendly Lounge.

    • Replies: @unit472
  3. timalex says:

    Worthless stuff. Find someone else to exploit–before you go back to Asia.

  4. I have an important question to ask you Mr. Dinh- what’s your brand?

  5. unit472 says:

    You might be thankful to be ‘nowhere near the Friendly Lounge but these dives are an essential part of the lives of the marginally employed. A place they can go to and pass the time as time passes them by. For less than $20 a day they can get pleasantly drunk, converse, watch a football game and not feel worthless. Its the cheapest social program going because its not government run.

    If the government just provided a decent ‘happy hour’ spread at the Friendly Lounges of America our urban poor could be fed at a fraction of the cost of what we spend on Food Stamps. The ‘Dan’s’ of America could earn a couple of beers setting up the buffett and cleaning up afterwards and feel important doing so.

  6. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Mr. Dinh, do any of your subjects read your portraits? What do they think?

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  7. unit472 says:

    As I thought about this it occurs to me that local restaurants could be offered the task of preparing and delivering the happy hour spreads to these neighborhood bars. Restaurants always have surplus food they need to get rid of so the Chinese restaurant could cater on Mondays, the Mexican restaurant could do a Taco Tuesday and so on. The government would pay a discounted price for the food and issue ‘dining cards’ to those who want to eat for free.

  8. Isn’t life wonderful?

  9. Rehmat says:

    Mr. Dinh – a civilized joke from a world-class joker – US president Barack Obama…..

    In 2012, Obama administration posted a $33 million for information leading to the arrest of the Caliph of CIA-Mossad creation Al-Shabaab, the so-called ‘Muslim terrorist group’. In response, Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, a senior leader of Al-Shabaab made a counter offer of 10 camels for tip-offs enabling the arrest of Barack Obama…..

    Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir in an exclusive interview he gave to Mohammed Sheikh Ibrahim of ‘Eurnews’, published on February 16, 2015, claimed that the US and the Zionist entity created and run anti-Muslim militant groups ISIL, Al-Shabaab, and Boko Haram.

  10. I wonder who the target audience for these pieces is. Who in the Unz readership would regard transcriptions of barfly chat with various losers and not much value-added on the part of the author, as an exotic and interesting look inside “the real america”. I can get the same thing down the street, raw and straight from the source, with the added bonus of happy hour prices and not having to suffer Dinh’s Vollmann, beatnik man of the people pretensions.

  11. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi Anonymous,

    Many of them do, and the ones who do are perfectly happy with their portraits. What they’re unhappy with are some of the incredibly rude comments. B.B., for example, was quite shocked at the many hostile comments regarding her tattoos. Manon responded to a female commenter who wished she had been shot.

    A while back, a moron kept saying I made up these people, then promptly ridiculed the looks of these supposedly made-up people.

    I find it sad that some Unz readers find the people I portray freakish or ridiculous in any way. What I see are incredibly tough, resilient, open and warm individuals. These are ordinary Americans I’ve known all my adult life. They are typical.

    Most of them don’t read 3,000 word articles, and that set them apart from Unz readers, so there’s a difference in education here, and a class difference. Just as the college educated in coastal cities find folks in the flyover states “deplorable,” some Unz readers clearly see themselves as above the ordinary Americans who count out change as they sit in the cheapest bars.

    I’ve met folks like Dan across this country. In places like Columbus, Youngstown, Allentown, Jackson, McCook and El Paso, etc., I’ve heard their stories, and I will continue to depict them because I deeply appreciate and am inspired by their stories of survival.


  12. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Rather dreary lives we have here. Might be a good place to visit just for the edification it could provide but one wouldn’t want to live there. Having had plenty of exposure to what might be called the underclass I can state that initially they can seem colorful and entertaining with plenty of wild stories to tell. However, ultimately they become boring, always telling the same old war stories over and over again until the tape loop just repeats itself. The thing I’ve found about all that is that none of these people have the level of intelligence to really be interesting in the longer term, just average or below average mentalities who really can never connect the dots. In the end there’s no charm in drunkenness, rats, roaches, intermittent bouts of mindless violence, absent parenthood, mental issues, the inside of a jail cell, being on welfare. It’s been said that money can’t buy happiness and that’s true enough but poverty never bought it either.
    Most of Mr Dinh’s subjects have been heavy drug and alcohol users. I hope he hasn’t been dipping into that stuff himself very much since there’s no future-or even present-in that.

    • Replies: @Alfred1860
  13. Durruti says:

    Linh Dinh:

    Merry Thanksgiving to you & all the readers & commenters.

    Highly Appreciate your stories of the Forgotten people.

    Specially liked your BB the Bartender. You show your love. In “Conspiracy Theory,” actor Mel Gibson says “Love is all we have.” (or something close to that).

    Your style is up there with Le Carré, Graham Green, Hemingway (dialogue), Grisham, Tolkien, Solszhenitsyn, James Hilton, and a touch of Monsarrat.

    I have one published History – eh!

    Yes, there is much pain, sadness, and poverty in America.. Most is concealed by the Mainstream Media.

    In the town I reside, there are mostly upper income enjoyers of the Gulf & their Yachts; but if it were not for the numerous homeless, prostitutes, and poor neighborhoods that surround our town, the City would have no class, whatever.

    As Phil Ochs sang, “where but for fortune, go you or I.”

    Durruti, alias-Peter J. Antonsen

    • Replies: @Tabasco Jack
  14. Michelle says:

    You still harping on my supposed wish that Manon had been shot? As another commenter stated, neither you nor Manon, understand hyperbole. I do hate Manon and the clueless damage her type has inflicted upon Blacks, but I would never actually wish her to be shot. As for this current column, in my opinion it is one of, if not, your very best. I savoured every word.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  15. RudyM says:

    Down and out guy hassles barmaid. Fascinating. I hope I will stop clicking on these stories. (I have, for the most part.)

  16. BB753 says:

    Injuns should keep away from palefaces’evil firewater!

  17. @unit472

    How’s about “the government” provides them with commodity foods they have to prepare themselves after a day of work on Trump’s grand infrastructure project? Take a look at this to see what the SNAP crowd spends money on:

    It’s beyond me why anyone would think enabling drunks to become wet brains is a good or worthy idea. Happy hour? Subsidized?! Dan made his bed, let him lie in it or better yet get up out of it and try to clean up his act.

    Let ’em stay obscured. Mr. D says they’re “typical” and “tough, resilient, open and warm individuals”. One thing they’re not: the “deplorables”; deplorables as defined by HRC are folks who work and lead truly “typical” lives without drinking their way through them. Have the pity party somewhere else. Human dumpster diving may be fun for some folks, but I’ll say my farewells. I’d rather read about folks who take responsibility for their lives.

  18. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi Michelle,

    Happy thanksgiving to you! I’m very happy you like this piece.

    I know you won’t like to hear this news, but Manon found a counseling job, so is no longer at Friendly.


    • Replies: @Michelle
  19. macilrae says:

    I always enjoy reading these – Linh has a mastery of American idiom and his immaculate writing makes compelling reading. Today’s piece is just a quick sketch I’d say and it was well done.

    • Agree: jacques sheete
  20. @anonymous

    My opinion of these kind of people is that they can live however they want as long as they don’t expect me to pay for their mistakes (which as you say, are usually the same ones made over and over).

    I grew up in a rural area that was next to a “depressed” community shall we say. The kind of place (in the 1980’s) where a satellite dish was more important than a new roof, an ATV was more important than siding to cover up the tar paper, and smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day was more important than feeding your kids nutritious food.

    In a way I somewhat envy people like Linh Dinh that can hang around these kind of people an write about them without being hateful or even judgmental, but in the end, every single person on this earth is responsible for their own well being (physical, mental, emotional, financial) and anyone willing to leave the mindset of victimhood behind can achieve health, happiness and prosperity.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  21. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    How did American culture turn into an episode of FAMILY GUY and worse?

  22. @unit472

    These people have every excuse in the book, and little common sense.

    Sorry, guys, but if you are destitute, you cannot spend money on cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, or other luxuries and vices. That bit of money wasted every day, adds up. SAVE even five to ten bucks every day by forgoing these things, and you’ll fairly soon have thousands that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

    Someone who grows up, forgoes all that nonsense, and gets serious about working hard and saving what they can, THAT person will merit our sympathy and our financial help. Not most of the folks whom Dinh is profiling.

    • Replies: @unit472
  23. @Linh Dinh

    I feel sorry for them, but no linh, the last thing they are is “tough” and resilient.

    Instead of retreating to whining, wasting entire days at bars, and alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, a truly strong and resilient person above the mental-retardation level sucks it up and gets whatever work they can, using their money to live and even save a little rather than throwing it down a rat hole while complaining or making excuses.

    My parents and grandparents, now THEY were strong and resilient. Both sides of the family started out poor when they came to the USA from Europe, and they suffered serious setbacks over the generations here, including job losses, serious health problems, and some bankruptcies.

    But they persisted, most of them without abusing or even much using alcohol, tobacco, etc., and ALL of them without taking food stamps, being homeless, stealing, etc.

    This country simply cannot afford so many self-pitying dimwits who lack the ability or the desire to make basic common sense decisions, work hard, and persevere without drugs and alcohol.

    • Replies: @Jeff
  24. Michelle says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Ah, Jaysus Linh, You are right, I hate to hear that, although Manon has screwed up her own life so much and that she has zero right to counsel others, she is actually counselling others, but hey, that’s the way of the world.

    My idea if counselling is the Bob Newhart model “Just Stop It”


    At least she’s not collecting food stamps. Maybe she should counsel them to “Do as I say and not as I do”. My dear departed dad’s marriage counselor committed suicide, maybe there’s hope for Manon. I kid, I kid! Hyperbole, etc, etc.

    I think you have a soft spot for her because she’s a cute white chick and you’ve been brainwashed to have jungle fever. I used to be beloved by Vietnamese immigrants as in the “You so beautiful” mode. When I would try to explain that I was not beautiful, just OK, they would not understand.

    When I typed “Jaysus” it kept auto correcting me to Natalia, go figure. Russian hacking by any chance?? Go Trump!!!

  25. congratulations dihn. Another good portrait. Four milions history´s have New York city, says the Rubén Blades Song. People as that in Friendlys and thousand more cheap bars, all-around de world, says the historys of many people in the low level of the society, fighting for make a couple of bucks day by day, living somewhere they can. Yes they can get some insanity at the end, and some´s budweiser in excces, previous or after the heavy life they suffer. But i am astonished about the reaction of some readers. Not everybody could have the polite living some have, only by struggle, hard work, etc, etc, I thik is a concern for our society to have so much people inside ours, in this situation, and a lot homeless, food stamps, no medical services… Are our people… Be aware. You can go down also. Thank You. (Leave, you, americans, thinking about winners and losers, all we are as each day pass, a little more losers)

  26. Anonymous [AKA "nobody___"] says:

    These are my favorite articles on unz along with sailer and derb. It helps to know Philadelphia

    If you don’t think these profiles are useful I’d say think about them in the context of your political leanings. You need these people to win

    • Replies: @BB753
  27. Jeff says:

    Nicely put. I enjoy reading these articles but I would agree with the sentiment that the article’s subject isn’t tough and resilient. He is somewhere at the other end of that spectrum.

  28. unit472 says:

    What would you suggest? That a guy who overreaches buying a house and defaults on a $500,000 mortgage is a ‘solid citizen’? The one thing you can say about the ‘Dan’s’ of this world is that they don’t default on loans or credit cards because they can’t get them. Their credit is only good with payday lenders and the bars they drink at.

    Many of them once had decent jobs but lost them. After 10 or 20 years living at the margin they don’t have the skills or the desire to start over. They are socially and economically broken men.If you’ve never fallen off the economic ladder it is easy to condemn those who have but try getting back up once you have is no easy task. Employers don’t want to listen to your story. You become a shabbily dressed person with gaps in your resume. Unemployable except for anything but low wage work.

    • Replies: @unit472
    , @utu
  29. unit472 says:

    Let me tell you a story. I was 38 when I was let go after 11 years at the same place. I had an IRA. It was 1990 and the US was in a recession. I had some money in an IRA so was able to make my car payments and a friend with an auto body shop I could use as a ‘contact’ number because I soon had no address either. You can’t make rent in Marin County without income. I stayed in the attic of his shop and put a hot water heater in his shop bathroom to wash up and shave. I bought a cellphone back when you paid for incoming calls even though it was expensive so I maintain the facade of being a real candidate for a job.I also spent what money I could earn doing handy man work so I could sit in bars where people I knew hung out. I needed that so I could stay I could stay on their radar without appearing desperate.

    In my case I got some job offers and 20 years later had managed to put together over a million dollars and retired. I was damn lucky because I bought some good stocks but if I had spent six months more unemployed I would have never gotten back on my feet again. I’m not smarter than the guy sucking a beer at the neighborhood dive. I was just lucky I could keep it together long enough to make it look like I was.

    • Replies: @jacques sheete
  30. utu says:

    I agree with your take but I did not like him harassing the bartender. This indicated to me that he is foolish.

  31. @Linh Dinh

    Good comment along with another fine article. Fascinating stuff and well done.

    Don’t let the SoB’s wear ya down, my good man!

  32. @unit472

    Great comment! And I’m very happy for you and for the attitude you’ve expressed.

    Bless you!

  33. JOEY says:

    Once, some time ago, I forwarded one of these character articles to someone I thought was a friend. In his reply to me, he said he was not too interested in the “underclass.” That remark, even though I understood he had spent much of his life as a teacher and in government “people” work of some kind.
    So, since then, I have sent him a few more articles. Always with the same result. Some kind of ridicule comment to what I thought were excellent articles about life itself.
    Well, I guess he is not so much of a friend anymore. If anything pisses me, it is snobs. Especially those who really have no claim to be superior.

    Great articles. Keep ’em cummin.”

    • Replies: @jacques sheete
  34. @JOEY

    If anything pisses me, it is snobs. Especially those who really have no claim to be superior.

    I’ve found that most of them really do have no claim to be superior and that’s what makes it fun to mock ’em.

  35. I’m going to stop reading these. For one, it’s too difficult to distinguish between the author and the subject. Yes, I know, his subject is in italics when quoted. I get that. What I mean is the voice, style, etc. of Mr. Dihn’s subject is remarkably similar to Mr. Dihn himself.

    Look, Dihn is a fabulist, I get that. But I’m just not willing to pretend anymore. I’m not willing to buy into the fantasy that he’s building.

    Moving on.

    • Replies: @5371
  36. When I was a kid fresh out of college, I played out these Bukowski fantasies in San Francisco.

    It was romantic and exciting for a while. Then it just became crappy, rotten and pointless.

    Got out of that shithole and never returned.

  37. thanks linh.lived in san diego in the early seventies and spent most of my time when i wasn’t working in a bar called the,”the tender trap.”the people i met were the salt of the earth and i can visualise it,and them to this the eighties i went back and the whole block had been developed(believe it or not by the smothers brothers),and i hot footed it for mexico.
    when i look at the usa’s decline i blame the smothers brothers.

    • Replies: @Mr bob
  38. Mr bob says:

    How do you like Mexico? It’s on my radar, and every day I want out of the asylum a little more

  39. @utu

    I literally shop at Dan’s store more than once a week and am dumbfounded how small this world is. These south philly people are assholes and not apologetic about it one bit. One of the last old school white city sections in the US.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  40. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi cucksworth,

    Having lived in several states and five countries as an adult, South Philly (east of Broad) is perhaps my very favorite neighborhood. Good, solid people and actually very tolerant and fair despite the sometimes harsh exterior. They talk straight and hate pretentious pricks.

    You ever go to Friendly?


    • Replies: @cucksworth
  41. @Linh Dinh

    I am kinda lucky to land here a few years ago myself. But no, I do not frequent drinking establishments, you are more likely to find me at Esposito’s, Rim Cafe or Pho Ha; or behind the oven at a 4 bell establishment.

    The whole Italian market is very real and most of us are hoping that the business improvement district is not passed/implemented. 9th street is not stuck in the past, it is very current and evolving with all ethnicities represented.

  42. @Linh Dinh

    I greatly admire the way you get people talking, your patience and your writing it up without prolixity on your part. So please keep off the Deep State on which, if and to the extent it exists, you are no expert and therefore appear to lack self-knowledge.

    I confess I laughed at what I took to be the relation of one of the unfunny Dan’s jokes – the blonde and the co-pilot one took me by surprise after your raising no expectation of amusement.

    • Replies: @Dan Hayes
    , @Michelle
  43. Dan Hayes says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    Wizard of Oz,

    Contrarily, I wish to hear about the Deep State from someone like Linh Dinh who has survived the maelstrom of IndoChina, has traveled throughout the world and most importantly throughout this country.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  44. Michelle says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    I agree, the blonde joke was funny! I can’t wait to tell it to my ex.

  45. 5371 says:
    @SIMPLE Pseudonymic

    This is clearly false. If you really believe it, you should get your head examined.

  46. Che Guava says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Hello Linh.

    B.B., for example, was quite shocked at the many hostile comments regarding her tattoos.

    Recalling that I had made a comment that was negative (but not nasty) about her tattoos, and complimentary about her account and looks, also saying that the one tattoo visible in the photo was clearly of high quality;

    was that nasty?

    I scanned through the thread to find these nasty comments about her tats.

    Out of around 150 comments, about 12 mentioned the tattoos, there were only two or so that could be considered nasty, and only one was really insulting.

    About a third of them were along the lines ‘I’d marry her any day despite the tattoos’, and another third were non-nasty replies to those.

    Is that a huge insult?

    I seriously recommend that you actually read the comments thread on that point.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  47. Che Guava says:
    @Linh Dinh

    By the way, liking tattoos is not compulsory.

    Here, it is confined to the Yakuza, their girlfriends, and parts of rock scenes (where I think most would be better without the tattoos, particularly the women).

    Of course, I have tattooed friends, from rock scenes.

    In my time in a Western country, sailors, bike gangs and former prisoners only.

    I know that is not how it is now.

    Really hate Western middle- and upper-class tattoos.

  48. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Che Guava

    Hi Che Guava,

    No, you didn’t say anything nasty. I mean comments like these,



    Another degenerate, Linh?

    More often than not people who have tattoos and work in bars are degenerate. I work with people every day, it’s kinda my job.

    Yes, they’re both from RaceRealist88, who kept going on about the tatts.

    Jim Christian said;

    This BB is one level from Devine Brown, Hugh Grants fat-black hooker.. BB is a disgusting, tatted up, rode-hard White chick, but look at her, disgusting. YOU can have her. All yours and I won’t even tell your friends. No self respecting white guy would have her, but I’d bet a LOT of Black guys have.

    If you were B.B., wouldn’t you be shocked and disgusted by such hostility?

    Compare the above to comments left at my blog:

    Elizabeth said…

    Linh, what an absolutely beautiful woman, inside and out! She leaves me all but speechless in admiration.

    jacob kinney said…

    Great read. I also grew up in the same area and can relate to her past experiences. After dropping out of college, I back backed and worked in SE Asia, specifically Thailand. I came back after two years, joined the army and was stationed in Washington state. I went Iraq, got out if the military, and moved down to Austin, TX. After working at bars and partying for several years, my drug addiction caught back up with me.I lost my apartment, girlfriend of four years and finally left town. I moved up to new England where I am currently living. I know what the author is talking about when she explains how unfair the judicial system is, I’ve been in and out it because of drugs my entire adult life. Never spending more than a month inside. I loved reading this because it touched home for me, thank you.

    • Replies: @Triumph104
  49. Che Guava says:

    Thanks, Linh.

    Yes, they are horrid comments, but to say that there were many was an overstatement, as I said, I checked.

    Give my regards to the lovely B.B. next time you meet, but it doesn’t mean I think the giant tat on her shoulder is cute! Although, as I said, it is a classy tat.

    BTW, the tale from Dan is also interesting, as always, appreciate your writing.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  50. Anonymous [AKA "Heterodyne"] says:

    Thank you for doing this column, Mr. Dinh. I love people and I enjoy learning about their lives.
    You almost never get a bird’s-eye view of a person’s entire adult life, such as you are doing here. I always enjoy reading it, however I am not here reading for entertainment, but to learn more about people, how they think, what inspires them, what makes them tick. It is always interesting to hear a person’s opinion of their own days, their own take on what their life is becoming…Admirable job, as always. Keep up the good work.

  51. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Che Guava

    Hi Che Guava,

    At 53, I’m old enough to remember a time when almost no one had tatts. At my high school in Northern Virginia, there were no tatts.

    Truman Capote wrote of murderers as all having tatts.

    This neo-primitivism is an interesting phenomenon, and tatts are but a tiny part of it. Everywhere you look, neo-primitivism is erupting!


    • Replies: @Che Guava
  52. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi all,

    In 2014, I stayed on a reservation in Wolf Point, MT, and wrote about it. Like Dan above, everybody there had no problems calling themselves “Indian.”

    One “progressive” editor, however, jumped all over me for using this word. He preferred “First Nation.” In my entire life, I have never heard any Amerindian calling himself “First Nation,” at least not in conversations.

    I explained to this editor:

    When I was in Wolf Point, the word “Indian” was routinely used by people with Sioux, Assiniboine or Chippewa blood to describe themselves. As for the allegations of abuse of children in the Wolf Point schools, I first became aware of the issue from reading a long article by Christine Rose, a prominent activist who maintains the website,, with an Indian Education Resources page, among other features. In the article, Rose routinely uses “Indian” when referring to the Wolf Point children. Since I don’t presume to be more correct than the people of Wolf Point or Christine Rose, I’ve used “Indian” in my Wolf Point Postcard. While “Indian” is obviously a historical misnomer, “Native American” is itself problematic since the people who were here before Columbus never saw themselves as Americans. In the end, a Sioux is no more a “Native American” than a Palestinian a “Native Israeli,” but we’re trapped in talking about a colonized people in the colonizers’ language. As Russel Means has pointed out, English is itself a problem. Finally, if you come to Wolf Point next month, you can attend a pow wow in neighboring Poplar. The participating tribes call it Poplar Indian Days.

    Of course, he didn’t get it. It was more important to him to use the “correct” terminology than to hear about, and from, actual people.

    I stopped giving articles to this editor.


    • Replies: @Che Guava
    , @Whoever
  53. BB753 says:

    Philadelphia? We’re barely getting acquainted with the Happy Lounge locals. Lol! Good reading material though.

  54. Che Guava says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Moi aussi,

    except the few examples I listed in Japan and abroad.

    Most, but never all, public baths and hot springs will ban the tattooed.

    Swimming pools, the ban is pretty universal.

    Times I have been at public baths or hot springs in regional places, and they allowed the tattooed gangsters, the gangsters were disgusting, threatening people, boasting, entering the bath without washing first.

  55. Che Guava says:
    @Linh Dinh

    To me, I was amazed to read a positive article about an Indian American in NYT, just before I stopped reading their offshoot in Japan altogether.

    My first thought was ‘Wow, they are praising an American Indian, this is a first!’

    Seeing that the article was about a bossy immigrant from the sub-continent somewhere else, really disappointed.

  56. @Linh Dinh

    Of course Jacob has nice things to say about BB. He is a drug addict. He even thinks it is unfair that the government punishes him for his criminal behavior. His behavior makes family and friends not want to be around him, makes him neglect any children he may have, and contributes to the slaughter of thousands in Latin American drug wars. Talk about low standards.

    I know what the author is talking about when she explains how unfair the judicial system is, I’ve been in and out it because of drugs my entire adult life.

  57. He even thinks it is unfair that the government punishes him for his criminal behavior.

    Actually, it’s quite unfair that the government, easily the most criminal element in the country, has the audacity and power to criminalize anything it wants to while decriminalizing anything it wants to (e.g wars, bankster bailouts, etc.) and making the rest of us pay for it.

    Talk about low standards!!!!!! “Standards,” ya say?

  58. Whoever says:
    @Linh Dinh

    I have relatives in Lame Deer who always describe themselves as “Indin” and when I mention that side of my family I refer to them as “wild Injuns.”
    I agree that “Native Americans” is odd because, in those by-gone days when it really mattered, the Indians distinguished among Mexicans, Texicans and Americans–all of whom were their enemies. Telling a Hémo’eoxeso like Vóhko’xénéhe that he was an American would have been a really stupid thing to do.
    It’s a shame that the modern PC left is so intent on dividing people into hostile ethnic groups forever nursing historical grievances. The old American ideal was inclusive, intent on breaking the chains of the past to create a new people. That was the era when an Injun breed like Charles Curtis could become vice-president of the United States, as well as compose an enduring pop ditty — “Melody in A Major,” aka “It’s All In The Game.”

    • Replies: @utu
    , @Njguy73
  59. @Dan Hayes

    I’d like to hear about Deep States from him too if there was the slightest reason to believe that he knows anything except that a lot of the outsiders he speaks too in many countries believe in one.

  60. utu says:

    “It’s a shame that the modern PC left is so intent ” – This is a sign of Judaization of our culture. Trying to control the reality through the control of language. Judaism and Kabbalah are full of it. There are words that cannot be said or written and you have to perform special rituals if inadvertently you say a forbidden word and so on. Judaism was never strong on objective empiricism. That’s why Jews never developed any science though they began to participate in the Western scientific methodology only after their emancipation in 19 century when they adopted Western philosophy. However they have never shed off their Bronze Age ways of magical thinking completely.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  61. @utu

    …….except for the 50 per cent who have.

  62. @Durruti

    Well said! I was born on the South Side of Chicago and raised there. We were poor and eventually went to California. I served a tour in Vietnam as a rifleman and when I left the service, worked any number of dead end and low paying jobs. I managed to save enough money to fly to Germany with a one way ticket with two-hundred forty dollars in my pocket. I managed to survive for over two years bumming around Europe (ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies.)
    I returned to America and due to much sacrifice, obtained a B.A. in English which I never used. My older brother told his friends that I could travel to more places on less money than anyone he knew. I have traveled as far as Quebec, twenty-eight states, and deep into Mexico and actually had Christmas dinner with a Cartel family (unknown to me at that time.) During the course of my travels and mostly down and out lifestyle, have met hundreds of interesting and fascinating people.
    I managed to raise a family and the children grew up, two with university degrees.
    Not one of the four read but are devout worshipers of television and the electronic media. Their friends are the same and are total bores. It appears to me that people who have not traveled or had their teeth kicked in by hard times are not only boring but are quite adept at mental masturbation. Keep writing, Linh.

    • Replies: @Che Guava
  63. Che Guava says:
    @Tabasco Jack

    Surely you could have done your (as you say) useless degree under the G.I. bill instead of ‘much sacrifice’?

    Agreeing with your last part, but it does not work out for all of us. You are fortunate.

    Not one of the four read but are devout worshipers of television and the electronic media. Their friends are the same and are total bores.

    … but two are graduates. What does that say about what they graduated in?

    It appears to me that people who have not traveled or had their teeth kicked in by hard times are not only boring but are quite adept at mental masturbation.

    I am glad to still have most of my teeth, instead of a row of porcelain tombstones, as is usual in the U.S.A., although I needlessly lost a molar to a bad Japanese dentist. Still go to the same clinic, they never apologised, but they no longer have him there, and when I comment on it, they clearly know he was wrong, I think they kicked him out after his torture session on me. If it were the USA, suppose I would have been able to sue.

    Agree on difficult travel and hard times. Builds character and strength.

    It doesn’t necessarily lead to offspring, so no matter how silly you consider yours, you are fortunate to have them.

    Perhaps they will grow a little sensibility later.

  64. Njguy73 says:

    when an Injun breed like Charles Curtis could become vice-president of the United States, as well as compose an enduring pop ditty — “Melody in A Major,” aka “It’s All In The Game.”

    It was Charles Dawes, Coolidge’s VP, who composed Melody in A Minor.

    • Replies: @Whoever
    , @Dan Hayes
  65. Whoever says:

    Yes, you’re right. I got the two confused. Thanks for correcting that.

  66. Dan Hayes says:

    Just one more example of the erudition of Unz Review denizens.

  67. Anonymous [AKA "Emlavern"] says:

    Can’t blame us for some fool choosing to be born in Syria, Iraq, Lybia, Yemen, or Detroit. We are all masters of our own fate.

    • Replies: @BB753
  68. @Linh Dinh

    “B.B., for example, was quite shocked at the many hostile comments regarding her tattoos. Manon responded to a female commenter who wished she had been shot.”

    I guess a lot of people think tats on a pretty girl (or perhaps any girl) is an act of vandalism like a drawing a ‘tache on the Mona Lisa.

    As for Manon, women will always be harder on other women than men are. Michelle was pretty spot-on that Manon passing on “her ideas” (‘I find FaceBook is a really good source to browse through news’) to her children or other people’s children would not be a good thing.

    Manon’s ideology, made up of the Guardian world-view, is utterly pernicious – but most of us on the Right don’t consider that makes Manon an evil person, just sadly misguided. Alas the Manons of this world have been taught* never to extend that same tolerance to us.

    * (‘pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it’ – not that I imagine Manon has ever read Alinsky. She’s probably never heard of him.)

  69. BB753 says:

    It’s simple to get out of Detroit. Those other places, not so much.

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