What Happened?

Clinging to the dream, Mt. Washington

Clinging to the dream, Mt. Washington

The election made Miss Havishams of so many of us.  We keep the sign to stop the clocks in permanent November, so the leaves may never fall.

We rake our stairs in spinster land, eating spider cake.   We curse Vladimir.  He hid the state of Wisconsin inside a maytroshka doll, where she couldn’t find it.  We pre-order her memoir on Amazon.

It may be therapeutic, I’m not sure it is healthy.

A Night of Wet Pillows

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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.

Witches of October

Come, eat my candy...

Come, eat my candy…

Chase the Pokemon into the street

Chase the Pokemon into the street

Our appetites are our undoing. It’s not a question of drinking from the poisoned chalice, but gleefully asking for more. Returning to our happy place, during business hours, when we know better.

Some people can’t stop lying.

Some can’t stop texting all the wrong sh**.

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How fitting the storied e-mails, the much sought, much denied commingling of state secrets and side-dealing passed from server to server in the halls of power like a radioactive fruitcake, should end up on this man’s laptop, placed there by his thrice-burned wife. Or “wife”, if you prefer.

A billion dollars in advertising and a lifetime of ambition unraveled by a 50-year-old man spanking his monkey in the afternoon while his wife is at work.

Come children, to Toluca Lake. Fill your bags. Starting tonight, the desire-reward pleasure cycle has been shortened to ten seconds or less.  Sugar wallow!  Sugar wallow!  Starting tomorrow we will discipline ourselves. For now we are going to feed.

Let us pretend its an annual ritual and not an animal one, a predicate of who we’ve become.

If only we read books in trees again

If only we read books in trees again

Here Comes The Firecracker

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“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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.