Literature, it fails us now

Dale Peck body-slams cheap, decayed postmodernism:

…But as I puzzled my way through this and the rest of Moody’s books, I found myself looking not for the place in their execution or conception where they went wrong, but rather for something even prior and more primary: the wrong turn in our culture that led to Moody’s status as one of the anointed ones of his — okay, our — generation. In my view, the wrong turn starts around the time Stephen Dedalus goes to college in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and echoes all the way through Don DeLillo’s ponderously self-important rendering of Bobby Thompson’s shot heard round the world in the opening chapter of Underworld. Moody’s badness is a little less inexplicable if you look at him as the lowest common denominator of a generation of writers — and readers: they, too, bear some responsibility for the condition of fiction — who have long since forgotten what the modernist and postmodernist assaults on linearity were actually about, and as such have lost the ability to tell the difference between ambiguity and inscrutability, ambition and bombast; of writers who are taken at face value when they are being ironic and who are deemed ironic when they are telling it straight — assuming, of course, that they themselves know the difference. Assuming, I should add, that they actually have a subject.

He’s right even about writers I like.

Car loan, or why we hate bankers

I bought a Ford Fiesta from Robins Ford in Costa Mesa on Friday, July 30. It’s a great car. The price was good. The salesman was helpful and intelligent and didn’t do car salesman B.S.

I had a preapproved loan from my credit union for 6.1%.

The finance guy worked me a bit for upselling on warranties and insurance products, but wasn’t very pushy. He then wanted to get the loan business. He told me he could get me 6% or better. He was going to work on this over the weekend.

On Saturday he called me and said “I got you 6%.”

A couple of weeks passed. I got a number of loan rejection letters in the mail from various banks. I got no approvals. I called him and asked if there was something I needed to sign additionally, and he said no, they would mail me.

A couple more weeks passed. I called him asking what loan I had, and when I should get the mail. I got voicemail and the call was not returned. Repeat twice.

I called Ford Motor Credit. They had no loan for my car or anything in my name.

I received mail from Chase Bank announcing that my loan had been approved and they’d given me a lower rate because I qualified for same. My rate: 8.39%.

I called Robins Ford and was told that my credit guy no longer worked there. I talked to a new guy. He was polite and professional. He said “look at your contract; whatever is on there is your rate.” He agreed that the whole thing was upsetting. He also said that it was possible to get the credit union to loan me at a lower rate and pay off this worse loan immediately, which was a good thought.

My contract (here’s the part that’s my fault) said 10%. Credit manager guy had literally waved his hand over this as if it was a formality, or some kind of placeholder. Burned.

I applied to the credit union for a loan to repay this one; it was declined due to excessive debt. Doh.

Meanwhile, it was time for me to make my first payment. I already had a Chase account paid by bank transfer, so I set this up for the auto loan also. The system rejected my information at first. I assumed I had made a typo, and tried again. Another failure. Looking carefully at my bank’s site, I saw that they now had a separate transfer number for electronic payments of this kind. I re-entered my bank info and now it was accepted. I paid the current bill and set up automated payments.

On the 22nd of September I got a late payment phone call from Chase. Looking at my account online, I saw that it said the following: next payment due date: 9/13. last payment made: 9/13. Account late. Amount due: my monthly plus a processing charge and a returned check charge.

I called Chase and a comedy ensued. The rep was very pleasant and professional. Together, we took a journey through madness and finance. It was clear that I had paid on the 13th, that the transaction was bollixed, and that a week later the computer decided that the transaction had not gone through and they were considering it a bad check. There was no late fee yet. I mentioned twice that this was during the time when Chase had an exceptionally bad I.T. disaster involving their loan systems, but he was silent about this.

I made my one-time payment with the rep on the phone, and he said he would get the bounced check charge remove.

Today, I looked at my Chase account. The account was now listed as overdue with a late charge. The last payment still said the 13th. And my new payment was listed as “in process.”

The bankers have mentioned recently that their feeling are hurt, that they feel bruises, that they are being unfairly vilified by the media and public servants. Why do we attack their large salaries? Why do we resent their guaranteed bonuses? Why are we insisting that the regulators regulate instead of sipping the bankers’ Scotch? Why do we fly into tantrums when their bold, risk-taking, disruptive innovations in finance blow up and kick shrapnel in our faces?

IT’S BECAUSE EVERY SINGLE DEAL WITH THEM IS A DRUG DEAL GONE SOUR AND WE GET OUR ASSES GRIFTED BUT GOOD, AND THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF THE GRIFT ARE WEIGHTLESS UNTOUCHABLE ARISTOCRATS WHO LIVE ON PLANET VEUVE-CLICQUOT AND WILL NEVER, EVER BE PUNISHED FOR THEIR CRIMES OR EVEN STOPPED FROM CONTINUING THEM.

But it’s a snappy little car.