BLOG THIS! Highly Suspect Wisdom for the Widely Disinterested Masses
It is truly hilarious watching the rats jump off the Death Ship, as if fleeing with the last wedge of cheddar that is their defiled resume is an act of nobility. Former Attorney General Bill Barr, who gleefully became Trump's plumper Roy Cohn, derailed the Mueller Report, and single-handedly doomed impeachment, now thinks the president has gone too far. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell's wife, who stood next to Trump at the podium as he tried to explain away the riot in Charlottesville, has suddenly been stabbed with pangs of conscience. John "Let's bomb Iran back into the Stone Age" Bolton is on every channel decisively not talking about how he eagerly took the job to begin with. Mick Mulvaney, former chief of staff, who spent intimate time with Trump every day, has had a sudden conversion and bravely gave up his new post as Special Envoy to Ireland. Melania's chief of staff (now there's a plum job- "Should we put the solid gold Christmas tree here? No? How about here?") Stephanie Grisham, has resigned after 3.9 years of accumulated but unconsummated disgust. John Kelley, yet another in a long line of chiefs of staff, said on CNN yesterday that he "wasn't aware of the depth of Trump's faults" when he took the position. Oh really, general? You hadn't read a newspaper since the mid-80s? You didn't see footage of Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein? You didn’t hear the torrent of absurd, insurrectionist, and easily falsifiable comments that have spilled from Trump's cake-hole from the second he announced he was running? You somehow forgot about the day he stood next to you at that cemetery in France and called the war dead suckers, and then insulted your own son? You didn’t think maybe it was time to say something publicly back then? Even Ted Cruz came out yesterday, and in a truly sniveling performance, said he's been "fighting back against Trump's words and rhetoric" for years. Uh-huh. Hey Ted, he called your wife ugly and said your dad killed JFK. No misgivings about holding his water during electoral certification then? And finally, there's Betsy DeVos, one of the richest women in America and sister of mercenary, war criminal, and head of Blackwater Erik Prince-and if there really were professionals among the Capitol storming mob, you can bet some either work or worked for Blackwater. After four years of tireless and essential reform of the educational system in which she mostly tried to strip funding from public schools and channel it to Christian-based charter schools instead, DeVos has shown why she's widely considered to be a woman of endless integrity and backbone. Sure, some cowards might bow out on day 12 or even day 9, but not Betsy. She held the line at day 13. She called out Trump when it really mattered, when there was a true Walmart price to pay. All these servants of the people, all these Profiles In Courage. Their acts of defiance and virtue shall not be forgotten. I can only look forward to the day when Covid is over, and my daughter and I can travel to Washington and take a Kaepernick-knee in front of the DeVos Memorial of Freedom & Occassional Yachting and pay our respects. In the meantime we can only marvel from afar.
This will be my very last Trump post ever. No other words, no further breath is warranted for this flagrant con man, this congenital liar, this cauldron of debilitating vanity. The person who will be remembered for trafficking in the certifiably conspiratorial, in a web of half-truths based on quarter-truths that has saddled this country for a generation with the doctrine of relativism. The upside-down bible-holder. The 400 day golfer. The groper, rapist, gleeful philanderer. The utterly faithless hero of rube evangelicals. The Head Grifter of a family of grifting rats. The child-cager. The non-wall non-builder. The Covid-denier who cut health benefits for his own supporters before being airlifted to Walter Reed when he himself got Covid. The bleach-injector. The indiscriminate media-cudgel. The traitor, the money-launderer, the shill ridden by Putin bareback. The man who, in the end, governed by nothing but Tweet and whim and jagged illogic. If Trump weren't so morbidly hollow, if his utterances weren't so banal as to be without meaning, he might actually be cast as a tragic figure. To be so small, so fearful, so needy. To be so guided, in each possible move or decision, in every aspect of one's life, by the limitless desire for approval such that it denies one all other qualities: empathy, compassion, joy, humor, a sense of wonder and possibility, is the province of the most pathetic characters in all of literature. If he has accomplished nothing else over four years, in a case that even Rudy Giuliani couldn't botch, was to make clear that he is comprised entirely by greed, clotted lust, the need for acquiescence, acquisition, domination, fealty. He is a boy-tyrant of the type the Romans would immediately have recognized as broken and dangerous and tossed off the Tarpeian Rock. Even the Romans didn't want Trump Steaks. Well, as the ranting, corpulent King Lear of Mar-a-Lago is finally dragged from the White House on January 20th, I will not laugh or celebrate. I will close my eyes and reflect on the damage this country has suffered under his greasy thumb, to the point that we nearly became inured to it out of sheer intellectual and emotional survival, and how close we came to having to endure another four years. Donald Trump is the most successful hustler in the history of the world. We can only hope, as he becomes a civilian again, and his unwarranted protections fall away, that he suffers the fate of all hustlers in the end: being confronted with a debt that can never be repaid.
This is how I intend to face the (possibly Brave, unquestionably New, at the very least sans-tyrant World) of 2021: lean, hungry, and with zero compromise....just like I did on that grim day many years ago, low on provisions, frostbitten but stoic, surrounded by wolves and bears on the vast frozen tundra of Reykjavik.
"At this point, any new novel or work of fiction is just a repetition of something that has already been said, written, ignored, derided and ultimately remaindered over hundreds of years and thousands of times. Even the term derivative is hackneyed, derivation an insufferable cliché. That is why we have immersed ourselves in the miserly lexicon of the internet, into slang and acronyms and 240 characters of abbreviated nonsense, into pictograms of ductile cartoonish non-meaning, because even language has become ashamed of itself. Even the clever knows it is not clever enough to suppress its inherent cannibalism. The only looming innovation, for literature and ultimately culture at large, will be a final, collective acceptance of the nature of our inescapable unoriginality. Probably streamed as an unnamed thousand-episode series on HBO of a hushed, forever stilled, dingily grey screen."
-from pg. 462, "The Beaudoin Omnibus of Witticisms, Observations, and Prosaic Meditations."
A mere eight years ago today, on the streets of beautiful Madrid. With a steely gaze toward a horizon of culture and sophistication I was compelled to stop in front of the Museo de Jamon. Which, yes, is the Museum of Ham. I strolled in awe though gallery after hushed gallery of hinds and dry-cures and bone-ins. Spiral cuts and smokers, Bayonnes and Black Forests, Capicola and Culatello and yard after yard of glistening Gammons. But Speck aside, it was the stunning Salt Period of Ibericos and Serranos that truly blew me away. The light, the hue and coloration, the art-brut strokes of marbled fat, the intricate brushwork, the Parma perspectives and avant-slicing, the acorn-fed beauty of it all. But oh, the casings. The delicate, whisper-thin, gossamer folds of casing. I think I can say, as a purely objective matter and without undue hyperbole, that I have never been the same since. Also, you can tell by my expression that I am unwittingly, or perhaps with full-prescience wittingly projecting myself into a hog-laden future of a very different sort, one soon to become gloriously swine-free on January 21st, 2021. It all works out in the end, friends, this life, tinged with a beechwood and juniper glaze as it is, the marvelous pungency of all that is available to us, all that awaits.
As we mark the day in 1621 when Americans welcomed a wave of hungry immigrants to Plymouth with a three-day harvest celebration, let us give thanks that four centuries later we have learned well the lessons of humility, altruism, kindness, and the inexhaustibility of our abundance. The immigrants, a hearty but somewhat over-zealous lot, had just made it through a difficult winter. 78% of the women amongst them died of hunger and disease that first year. Some fifty immigrants, almost entirely men and children, attended the feast. The Wampanoag and their leader Massasoit provided five deer, as well as fruits and vegetables, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, pumpkins, walnuts and chestnuts. He also agreed to return soon to teach the immigrants how to effectively plant corn. As word of this benevolence spread, more immigrants came to avail themselves of the great bounty of the new land, to make a humble peace with the Americans and begin a harmonic partnership which continues to this day, only momentarily dissuaded by the Mexican-funded wall hastily constructed around Plymouth Rock.
Friends, have a great Thanksgiving in this strangest of all years, either alone, somewhat together, or over Zoom.
On ABC this morning, Chris Christie ripped President Trump's legal team as "a national embarrassment." He said Sydney Powell accusing hard-right Georgia governor Brian Kemp of crimes without evidence was "outrageous conduct by any lawyer." What she alleged, with threatened evidence "that will be biblical" once revealed, includes (and this isn't a joke, I watched the entire interview) a plot by the Biden campaign to pay off Kemp to help switch votes using poll workers "trained in Venezuela," a massive fraud which was put into place by Hugo Chavez (who died in 2013). "Notice they won't allege fraud inside the courtroom," Christie said. "Only to the media." Hey, if you thought Giuliani was not only senile but leaking, this woman makes Nurse Ratched seem balanced and rational. "It is time to admit that Biden won," Christie finished, but not before Sydney Powell admitted the real evidence she's been holding onto is that Archemedes developed the fundamentals of math in 288 B.C. as a long-range plot to influence vote tallying in the greater Atlanta area (back then known as Lower Mammon) since the toga-clad traitor was aware, three centuries before Christ first emerged from a Nazarene tent, that the only way to stop the future ascension of Donald J. Trump was by craftily making basic addition, and thereby ballot counting, unprovable in court. Leave it to the sneaky Greeks to destroy the MAGA dream. So, time to give up, time to give in. Trump won in a landslide. Moving on.
Okay, which of these four lyrics, through sheer radio repetition over long mid-80’s nights, when you would immediately reach out and snap the dial in anger because you preferred a blast of static to the ear-worm to follow, came closest to ruining your teenage years?
You may only choose one. And please, no wagering.
1. Robert Palmer "Bad Case Of Lovin' You"
"A hot summer night, fell like a net, I've gotta find my baby yet, I need you to soothe my head, and turn my blue heart to red. Doctor Doctor, gimme the news, I got a bad case of lovin' you, no pill's gonna cure my ill, got a bad case of lovin' you."
(No, but a shot of penicillin will probably do the trick, Bob. Okay, next in line on this Twofer Tuesday, Robert Palmer with "Addicted To Love.")
2. Steve Miller "Abracadaba"
"I heat up, I can't cool down, you got me spinning 'round and 'round, round and 'round and 'round it goes, where it stops nobody knows. Abra, abra-cadabra, I wanna reach out and grab ya."
3. Van Hagar “Higher And Higher”
“Run, run, run away, like a train runnin’ off the track, the truth gets left behind, falls between the cracks, standing on broken dreams, never losin' sight, spread your wings, we'll get higher and higher, straight up we'll climb, we'll get higher and higher, leave it all behind.”
(Trains/tracks/cracks. Dreams, broken or otherwise. 'Nuff said.)
4. Sting “Russians”
“Mister Krushchev said, ‘We will bury you’, I don't subscribe to this point of view, It'd be such an ignorant thing to do, if the Russians love their children too, how can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy? We share the same biology, regardless of ideology, believe me when I say to you, I hope the Russians love their children too.”
(Nope, Mr. Weapons-Grade Pretension, turns out all Ruskies hate their kids. Ah, well, we tried. What do you do with a nation full of child-haters? Negotiate? Mass-adopt? Write an album full of equally insightful songs in protest?)
I was asked in April to contribute a piece of fiction to a Pandemic Anthology, which I immediately wrote a draft of but then forgot all about, too occupied by other strains of madness and the slow Jack Torrance-izing of my quarantined soul, and so missed the deadline. This little piece has remained a sad file on my emotionally withholding laptop, but has now broken the pixel-surface gasping for air and seems especially timely now.
A Letter For My Infant Son, To Be Read In Thirty Years
Amidst this all, my wife has given birth. We have an infant boy, so beautiful even his midnight wail suffuses me with love. And so, being somewhat prescient, I have decided that during the Swine-99 outbreak of 2050 my son will be a young and struggling writer. Therefore I have decided to pen him a letter, with actual ink on actual paper, to be unopened and unread until the age of thirty. Hopefully, as a paring knife bites into the crease of yellowed envelope it will not only carry but deliver true meaning. A flash of recognition. A bolt of not-quite-lightning from the not-entirely-believable past. Or, maybe just act as a fleeting diversion in a time that is almost certain to be so much worse than it is now.
November 3rd, 2020
Well, madness abounds. Of course, as always, there is beauty within the madness, or possibly formed because of it. There is no lasting art that did not arise from some sort of deprivation, whether great or small, from pandemic to plain ennui. "The Sorrows Of Young Werther" didn’t write itself, you know? On the other hand, maybe I’m really talking about the bushes in front of our porch that have barely survived over the last ten years due to lack of light, but have somehow bloomed this month, flowering for the first time ever! I know you want to become a novelist, which is for any of us an agonizing decision on myriad fronts, most especially the one where you are almost certainly doomed to failure regardless of your evident or complete lack of talent, as all realms of art are as far away from both the meaning and practice of meritocracy as is mathematically possible, and so I’ve often thought about what kind of advice I might provide you. Then along comes this virus, which has gripped the world like Tommie Smith's raised and clenched fist, making it apparent, or even more apparent, that I know nothing at all. Who am I to give you counsel? But, if forced at vaccine needle point, I suppose I would say that it is in this time that those who would artfully record their honest and emotive perceptions are needed more than ever. There are refrigerator trucks full of bodies parked outside funeral homes in the Bronx, idling with diesel fumes even as I type this, and that fact alone can and should bring one nearly to tears, but perhaps afterward also prompt the reflection (delivered as a groundbreaking avant-garde verse poem in the Homeric tradition?)—that it is essential to take stock in what we really want in this life. In this world. To be wealthy and famous? To have the respect of our peers? To go to bed every night knowing we accomplished at least one genuinely exceptional thing? Or maybe we secretly welcome the chaos and nihilism, our deepest desire to abandon the false shade of community and connection, wanting only to be left to our devices, hermetic, in pure silicon despondence, forever addled by the Tyranny Of Small Technologies.
Sad, I know.
Perhaps this is not information you care to possess about your father, or worse have already astutely presumed, but I am inclined toward pessimism and despair. I do not see a rosy future. I drink heavily and low into the mist late at night, naked in the back yard, strangling the neck of a bottle of near-empty Gentleman Jack, fearful of the lessons our leaders have taught us so well: there are no solutions, nothing can be fixed, we are, as beasts, doomed to doom ourselves.
And then I stand over your crib! I kiss your hands and feet. I smell your sweet pea-n-carrot breath, dear Brexit, and my depression fades. The world is beautiful after all! It cannot be denied. We will find a way through this because we must. For you and all the tiny Brexits like you. And so I wake refreshed, make scalding coffee and bacon and eggs and little baby sausages and toast with real creamery butter and I know we will all be okay.
Listen, it has been a century since we have been swept with something so virulent as this, and I often find myself thinking back to 1918 and the Spanish Flu and those who endured it with no bulwark except a faithless faith, their rudimentary medicines and unrefrigerated food, the spittoons and lack of hand-washing and weaponized sneezes, not even a rudimentary conception of atoms or bacteria or the near perfection of the RNA of a virus. The terror of not knowing if the plague, biblical or otherwise, would ever end. Or even if it did, still might come back every Spring until it cleaved into the last of their hearts and lungs and there was no one left to sweat themselves away under a dirty blanket upon a dirtier floor, without even a mild understanding of what afflicted them.
We are lucky, after all.
Okay, so here’s my advice: just like saxophone or juggling or ballroom dance, it is essential to practice feeling. Diligently and with rigor. To bathe in it, drink it, immerse yourself beneath its crashing waves. Right now, even before you finish this sentence, begin to hone your ability to touch, to finely tune your tactile senses. Be vulnerable. Be aware. Experience fully. And then write those experiences down. In lines, paragraphs, couplets, sestinas, columns of pure reportage, HTML prompts of fake reportage, short stories, long stories, Checkovian novellas, endless Dostoyevskian tomes. See everything around you. Embody true perception. Be a camera. And then record it all. Let the flash recoil, allow the celluloid to burn, invite the silver nitrate to absorb the sun's rays. Take a photo in words. Let us know, without pretense, posture, or aforethought, what you truly know.
I am sorry to tell you this, my son, but it’s possible that in the end, that's all there is.
Twelve days of creeping terror until armageddon and thus I am compelled to offer a snap of Charley as solace. She's not much of a rat deterrent, in fact they point and laugh at her while sunning their bellies in the yard noshing on wedges of Swiss, but it's entirely possible that I will take a CBD bath and stare at this picture for two hours tonight instead of watching the debate. I thought, hey, why donate money to a swing state senate race or man a phone bank or volunteer to be a poll worker or knock on doors and hand out brochures, when this could be my sole contribution to Making America Breathable Again? So help yourself, friends. Gaze deeply into her eyes. There is wisdom and comfort and possibly a martyr's 72 virgins in there. There is, if not relief, a brief respite from trepidation.