Let Us Now Yell at the Uber Driver

Yes, we're listening...

Yes, we’re listening…

My Uber is now an analyst’s couch.

He’s taking away people’s rights based on skin color and gender he won’t let scientists speak the truth he’s pushing Indians off their land and spoiling their drinking water China wants to blow us up because he’s so cra-a-a-z-ee. 

Well, said I, striking a therapeutic note…we’re stuck with him for four years…

No we’re not!

How are we not stuck with him?

We’re going to get rid of him! 

How are we doing that?

He’ll be forced out he’ll be impeached or someone will kill him before the end of the year. 

Nothing in her tone suggested she would not be rooting for the killers.

Trump had been in office six days.

I’d like to think people have calmed down over the past month, but I would be wrong.   There are now living among us a critical mass of citizens grasping for an amplifier knob which goes to 11.

People really want to talk back to their television set, even when they agree with it.  People really want to go back in a time machine to Nov. 7.  In lieu of that, they have me.

Which is worse for democracy, having an election in which no one goes to the polls, or having an election in which half the country refuses to accept the result?  Civility is the sum of sacrifices we make to live together.  But what if we inhabit the same geography but live in entirely different mental spaces, with little shared cultural language, to the point we begin to ‘un-see’ those who cross our path in the same city?  What if technology does not liberate us but enclose each of us in his own seedpod? Or as a rider I picked up in Beverly Glen grandly put it:  “America is the golden triangle, New York, LA and Miami. The rest of the country is Topeka, Kansas, enough said.”

When the Twitter Meme Narrative in our head:  Tyrant! #Resist! Don’t Normalize! displaces facts, facts have no meaning.  I am a noble person, say the Resisters, the proof of this is I oppose Trump.  Therefore Trump must be the perfect villain. If people are angry now, how angry will people be when he fails to be the tyrant they need?

Hating all things Trump is a full-time job.  How can one keep up?  Will the media exhaust everyone, including the Trump haters? Who will fold their hand first?  The liberals or the leftists? Will it infiltrate everything, including beer?

America, we got our ear buds in.

Keep Voting, sez MSNBC

DSC_5786

Mrs. UpintheValley, who did not vote for Godzilla, has been obliged to avoid Facebook, the vitriol and emotive accusation has been so intense.

Now, in the name of tolerance, the call has gone out for the assassination of the non-President, the week after the election.

DSC_5784 (1)

Bullet in the forehead, bleeding from his, wherever….

And I thought my apolitical blog was going to go back to being apolitical.

He hasn’t even taken the oath, people.  Tell me how this movie ends.

Banksy-graffiti

Banksy has his own view.   He of course has made millions doing something which is technically illegal, but clearly changes how things are perceived. Or tries to. Otherwise what would be the point?

What begins in wish fulfillment,  ends as all Pygmalion-like creation myths do. Carve a woman from marble and your feverish longing, and you will fall in love with her. You will leave a bloody handprint.

A Night of Wet Pillows

Javits Center

In a long election year of Uber driving, I heard many things. On occasion, I was asked pointed political questions.

Guess who people wanted to talk about?

Some were eager to let me know how wonderful or terrible Trump was. Others, very furtively, wanted to suss out my views.  It was phrased in terms of gee, what are other people saying? 

Quietly, they were seeking my consent to vote for him.

Lotsa Bernie People in my Uber, too, and they were a very agreeable bunch.  Free college for everybody may not be sound fiscal policy but it galvanized people and you have to give a measure of respect for the enthusiasm of your fellow Angelenos.   Bernie put meat on the table. So did Godzilla.

No one asked about Hillary.  Her name went unmentioned in Hillary-ville, across a span of 1,436 Uber rides.   Jill Stein was mentioned once.

A month ago, I watched her motorcade roll down San Vicente on her way to a fundraiser…black, silent, funereal, an ambulance bringing up the rear.    In Brentwood, no one waved.  In the break room, my Latino co-workers ignored the TV when election coverage was on, which surprised me.

The gulf between moments like these and the smug triumphalism in the media could not have been broader.

Eight years ago, Barack Obama was presented to the world as Jesus Christ in political form.  Once in office, he had nowhere to go but down.  Even competent governance would play as anti-climax.

The Trump election has been presented to us as an extinction-level event for democracy.  If he manages to not burn down the White House while chasing Melania through the East Wing with a cigar in his mouth, he will surprise to the upside.  Imagine all the wet pillows then.

Choose Your Monster

Confident in victory

Confident in victory

The Nostradami of cable news have abandoned predictive analysis in favor of absurdist performance art.

Monday Conventional Wisdom: Trump has no chance of winning New Hampshire. He’s too extreme for any state outside of the Confederacy.  

Tuesday MSNBC:  Maaaaaybe he could, but we’ve spoken to the Clinton camp and they are confident they are up by nine points. 

Wednesday: Too many ballots have already been cast in early voting for him to catch her.  

Thursday, Trump leading by 3: New Hampshire has too many old white people. 

Friday, CNN: “I’m not worried about New Hampshire. All she has to do is win Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia. That’s 269 electoral votes right there. Game, set, match.”  

Saturday, NPR: She’s looking to stabilize Colorado. Just in case. Also, Michigan.

Sunday:  The basic worry in a democracy is you have ignorant voters. They vote their gene pool.

The great and good American people are going to affirm our nations highest ideals by voting Bill Clinton’s wife into office.  And women shall rise and lead them!

Unless crucial counties in the battlegrounds confound pollsters and go the other way, in which case, our destiny was thwarted by a KGB/FBI plot! 

Everyone Who Knows These Things knows she’s safe behind her Blue Wall, it’s all but finished. Somehow Godzilla has managed to slip past the wall, with a subway car of screaming journalists between his jaws,   waving a rally towel.   Oh no, there goes Tokyo….

For 48 more hours, they can both be right.  Then we have to live with the aftermath.

Choose your monster. You’ll regret it either way.

Liar’s Poker

Nabokov, one of the great poker faces

Nabokov, a great poker face

Our private self is most amused and our public self is most circumspect.   We pass each other in the store and reveal nothing. The carnival of snark beckons from every screen and we don’t tip our hand.  We are more ears than feet.

Across the city and to the Eastern shore, half of us are not speaking truth aloud.  We listen to the prognostications on cable TV, and enjoy others guessing at our motivation.  We study the faces of strangers like runes. Is she one? Will he be joining her?

The loudest voices doth protest too much.  They have bad poker faces. The quiet ones are putting the affairs of state into order, or carelessly toppling them into disorder, depending on your view. The Never People can no longer take refuge in never.  Certitude is a masquerade. They lie to themselves as much as to their friends.

The elites would rather burn down their institutions than allow Godzilla to breach the perimeter. All lies are permissible in her service.  Ring the klaxon bell.   All hands on deck. Unless secretly, some of them really wouldn’t mind watching her lose. But they’re not telling.

The peasants are inclined to view “Godzilla” as something altogether different. He speaks their banished language.   He carries their pitchfork over his head like Poseidon’s staff.   Perhaps secretly, they are more admiring of the idea of the man than the man himself.  Oh, the satisfaction of watching him pull it off! Then you’re stuck with the guy, and no one is quite sure what that’s going to mean.   There are private bluffs within public bluffs.

Spouses extract declarations of agreement from one another then part company into separate voting booths, clutching secret ballots and hugging doubts.

Friends and neighbors avoid talking about this Thing That Shall Not Be Named. The firecracker sits in the middle of the dinner table, the fuse slowly burning down, while we seek reassurance in our sense of how things should be. Surely there are more of us than there are of them. Right? Right? I know my country. I’ve lived here my whole life.

Nobody really knows, and most of us aren’t telling. We have dice underneath our leather cup and you can’t see.

Ecce Homo

bef8b-djt300dpi

What vessel is this, into which half of America has poured so much hope and expectation?

Are you putting them on? Will you be dancing with Hillary at her inauguration?  Was that the plan all along?

What demons are you grappling with?  What windmill spins before you? Are you the man at the card table determined to lose?

You are staging a public psychodrama well beyond Nixonian self-pity.  The course of the nation is now hostage to your tweets.

Behold the man.  Beyond intervention.

A Drama Surrounding a Phenomenon

920x1240

Leave it to David Brooks of the New York Times to coin the perfect weasel phrase suitable for PBS viewers:  “…the fact that there is all this violence and all this drama surrounding the whole Trump phenomenon could be nervous-making and it could drive some people.”

Uh, which people? Drive them….to what?  What is the drama referenced here? Does it involve a woman being surrounded by a jeering mob and pelted with water bottles and eggs as she walks alone and undefended into a Trump event?

Liopez_Jose_NEWS_Trump-Rally-4

Does it involve cold-cocking someone on the way to the parking lot?

The media loves the passive voice, never more so when it discusses the Trump campaign. It is awfully coy, even now, months into it, as to just who is doing what to whom, and how.

SJM-SJTRUMP-0603

Let us try a simple thought experiment. Pretend the man in the picture is wearing an I’m With Hillary t-shirt.  Pretend the people in the crowd are conservative white males, hounding and obstructing his ingress to a Clinton rally.  Would this not be the lead story on cable news for weeks on end? Would this not be the touchstone for endless think pieces on the rise of literal, as opposed to hypothetical, fascism in the United States?

Take a good look at the expression on the man’s face. Would you trade places with him for a moment? Is his constitutional right to peaceably assemble to hear the candidate of his choosing being protected or abridged in this case?  By refusing to make this distinction is the press not, in effect, siding with the mob?

The media has been writing journalistic permission slips to rioters going back to Ferguson.  When convenience stores are looted, this is the fault of the police for over-reacting.  When thugs descend on a Trump event to assault and badger the attendees, if not shut the event down entirely, Trump’s rhetoric is blamed.

Piece by piece, the guardrails to the electoral process are being disassembled and removed.

usa-anti-trump-protesters-000-ba1ul

What’s with the Mexican flags?  What’s with the gang signs?  The death threats?

One can outsource the assassination gambit to an unnamed “cartel” to avoid the reach of the Secret Service, but to verbalize something, to put it in writing, is the first step toward action.  What begins in wish fulfillment ends as all Pygmalion-like creation myths do. Carve a woman from marble and your own feverish longing,  and you will fall in love with her.

The firecracker is coming.

Let’s hope it’s only that.

Here Comes The Firecracker

IMG_6166

“I feel like I’m having a civil war inside my head,” said my Wise Artist pal. “I’m so divided.”  She had a secret she wished to share. Only the day before, she crossed the Rubicon. She re-registered as a Republican so she could cast her ballot for Trump in the upcoming primary.

“I want to light a firecracker under this country.”

IMG_6128

On Sunday morning I was in Watts, at the CicLAvia. In liberal, cosmopolitan Los Angeles, very few white people joined us on the trek.  As a veteran CicLAvian, I found the low attendance disloyal and unpatriotic.

IMG_6133

If one wanted to see the full measure of the economic hollowing out of America, here was the place the Bernie people and the Trump people could agree upon.

IMG_6144

Along the way, I encountered a white man with a broken arm and his hand on a bible, sitting at a table in front of a closed church, nodding significantly at the riders as they went past as though beckoning them toward something.  Of what, I could only guess.

Later that night we were in Pasadena at an awards dinner for Mrs. UpintheValley, hosted by a lovely, gracious woman who lives in the kind of house which ignites bonfires of envy in the hearts of working-class guests from Van Nuys.  And everyone at the table was lovely and gracious and prosperous. And the host mentioned a former student who is now Digital Media Director for Elizabeth Warren, and this elicited giddy approval, for what higher calling could there be? Practically an appointment to the secular Vatican itself.  And wouldn’t it be delightful if Hillary picked Warren as a running mate? Trump has zero chance of winning, after all. For the moment we were all two degrees of separation from the Good People Who Really Matter and didn’t that make the demi-glace on the hanger steak all the tastier?

Then on Monday I am at an industry workshop at AFI, where an actress/writer I’ve known for years, tough and talented, a woman you’ve seen on TV plenty of times, is staging a work-in-progress which included a Donald Trump-esque speech about immigrants.  Afterward, in the notes, people argued whether it was Sarah Palin or Trump himself speaking, then someone said it couldn’t possibly be Palin, because the character was utilizing multi-syllabic words, and thus beyond Palin’s speaking ability. In Los Feliz, people found this observation clever and uproarious. Mirth owned the room.

The next morning I drove to Home Depot in Panorama City to buy a tape measure and there were dozens of men crowding cars in the parking lot, leaning into windows, pleading for day work.

IMG_6249

Later, I took Trixie for her evening constitutional and we passed an Ayn Rand-ian tableau of trucks in my neighborhood filled with scrap metal.

IMG_6254

Around the corner, we encountered this gorgeous example of late post-war American industry, preserved in amber, right down to the whitewalls.  It felt like another signpost. We are nearing the end of something.

The firecrackers are coming.

Oy, gevalt. Double never.

Bystanders, once more

Put a fork in ‘em

Admit it, you were beginning to feel tingles of excitement. This year, your vote was going to count, for the first time ever, perhaps.  Your inbox was filling with solicitations to donate, to volunteer. Snatches of political gossip fluttered about you like the flappings of moths, as you went about your day.

Trump this!  Sanders that! 

Be honest, these are the only two you heard anyone talking about.

California, on the verge of 1968 all over again.  Minus the assassination. (We hope)

All the old rules were in the wind.

Our two districts in the Valley were about to be hotly contested battlegrounds in which twelve precious delegates were to be dispersed, six for each party.  Twelve! Like a jury pool, we waited in attention, preparing for the deluge.  The fate of the country, down to us, on the final day of the primary season. One felt so enfranchised

Yesterday, Other People, ahead of us in line, settled it.   Boo!

Now we’re stuck with two candidates who are the subject of “#never” campaigns as the presumptive nominees.  If you vote for Trump are you voting for or against the Republican party?  It’s unclear. If you vote for Hillary you are voting for Wall Street. But she swears you’re not.  What if you’re a double never, and earlier vowed, rashly, to support neither? What now to do?

IMG_5621

You can put your palms together and come to center and bring a measure of order to the chaos of the world.