Tag Archives: America

Sonny Daze Meets the Orange Menace

The two August Leaders, one the President of America and the other the President of that country somewhere in the vicinity of America, clashed in a fierce battle of handshake. The Orange Menace grimaced, jerking the arm of his rival. Sonny Daze stood his ground, dreamily smiling, his core muscles taut with alacrity. The Orange Menace worked the resolute limb, twisting and yanking as if extirpating a root. Yet the mighty tree could not be felled. The Orange Menace has met his match: he who spends an hour each morning at his hair now contends with he who also spends an hour each morning at his hair. One lives for the camera, the other for the camera lives. Each adoration craves. The Orange Menace applies brutal force in service of dominance, while Sonny Daze has charmed his way to this mountaintop.

– I am King of this Mountain, says the Orange Menace.

Sonny Daze does not speak. He adopts a Yoga pose and gazes dreamily into the cameras.

– I have done more in 100 days of being President than any President in the history of the world of Presidents.

Sonny Daze says nothing. He puts on a fringed buckskin jacket and portages to the river, dropping his canoe into the water. He paddles his vessel toward the cameras.

– Look upon my tremendous works! says the Orange Menace.

Sonny removes his buckskin jacket and rends his shirt. Bare-chested, he dashes four miles westward to a couple busied at their nuptials. Henceforth and forevermore shall he be immortalized on the mantelpiece photo where this day will be eternally commemorated.

A jealous and enraged Orange Menace takes to Twitter in an effort to regain the world’s attention. Sonny Daze puts on a faux Indian headdress. It is the War of The Manchildren, a force of personality against the force of personality, a clash of surfaces, a contest of brands, a struggle of perception against perception. They are different and yet the same. They are what you want them to be. They are yours and you must love them, if for no reason other than they are created for you and in your image.

Who will emerge victorious in this battle of the vanities?

– Look upon my mighty works, says the Orange Menace.
– Strong Together We Middle Class Better We Good We, says Sonny Daze.
– I will smite America’s enemies! says the Orange Menace.
– Love We Middle Class Together Good Together Canada Strong, says Sonny Daze.

They take their places. The battle proper has begun. Now we will see and judge them by their works.

The sky darkens as the Orange Menace lifts his adamantium scimitar heavenward. The mighty instrument draws an electric stream from the firmament. Energy ripples from the Orange Menace like an angry stone thrown into water. He shouts a primal scream

– Yyyyaaaaaaawwwwwwwwaaaaaaoooooooorrrrrrrraaaaaaaaggggggggaaaaa!

The Orange Menace points his scimitar to the West. He issues a tremendous bolt of energy with a roar that splits the Earth. The bolt in an instant strikes the ground at 719 Church Street, in Nashville, Tennessee, 666 miles distant. When the smoke dissipates, the Orange Menace gestures with pride toward the awe-inspiring deed.

– Look upon this hole, which by my own hand I now designate the future Fred D. Thompson Federal Building and United States Courthouse!

With a nice and supple hand, Sonny Daze takes up the Unicorn-feathered holly wand, gifted to his father by a once-Potentate of the Levant. He raises the wand to a swell of birdsong. Of a sudden, the air is redolent of neroli and mandarin. Across the world the humble pause momentarily their toil to hold the hand of a neighbor. The cameras chatter. Sonny Daze points his wand north to the Langevin Building of Ottawa, Canada, 565 miles away. A stream of glowing pixie dust issues from his magical tool, crossing Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and the US-Canada border into Ontario at the eastern edge of the Great Lake. Up goes the pixie dust, along Highways 401 and 416, turning east at Highway 417 where it exits at Bronson Avenue to travel north toward Wellington via Queen.

When the pixie dust arrives to its destination of Parliament Hill, Sonny Daze tucks the Instrument of Dreamy Wonder in an inner pocket of his suit jacket, designed specially for this purpose. He pauses dramatically, before saying

– I hereby re-name the Langevin Building “The Building Where Governmenty People Do Governmenties Stuff.”

The people cheer. Look at his eyes, he is so dreamy, they say.

Not to be outdone, the Orange Menace next names the Department of Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinic, in Pago Pago, American Samoa, the Faleomavaega Eni Fa’aua’a Hunkin VA Clinic.

Not to be outdone outdone, Sonny Daze renames National Aboriginal Day “National Indigenous Day.”

Not to be outdone outdone outdone, the Orange Menace renames the Department of Veterans Affairs health care center, in Center Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, the “Abie Abraham VA Clinic.”

Sonny Daze renames the ten dollar bill the “Indigenous People Are Wonderful Bill.”

The Orange Menace re-renames French Fries “Freedom Fries.”

This goes on for hours and then days, with no clear victor emerging. Incapable, or perhaps unwilling, of anything of substance, they lock themselves into a shambolic war of pandering gesture. Their tribes applaud them, as the cameras record every word and facial expression. Meanwhile, for the rest of us, life goes on.

The Blue and the Red

They had absorbed WhoMeaning, as it came to be known, much the way a sponge takes water. WhoMeaning, if you are among the uninformed, refers to the now-common habit of assessing a message by noting the messenger.

Today it will be sunny, says the weatherman.
Today it will rain, says the other weatherman.

Both men are standing in the public square, pointing to the sky. The people have assembled, as they do every morning, to hear the forecast. The Red Shirt People heed the Red Shirt Weatherman, who is calling for rain. The Blue Shirt Weatherman, say the Red Shirts, is a fake weatherman and a liar and a scoundrel. Although it is sunny at that moment, without a cloud in sight, the Red Shirts prepare for rain.

It is the same in every fold of human existence. The Red Shirts watch the Red Shirt News. They shop at the Red Shirt Stores. The Blue Shirts keep to their side of the city, where they patronize the Blue Shirt Restaurants and the Blue Shirt Theatres and the Blue Shirt Temple. It used to be that, now and again, you would see a Blue Shirt Person in the Red Shirt Temple, but those days are long behind. Now, a heedless fool who transgresses the many unmarked boundaries is dealt a mob’s justice. The sight of a blue shirt inflames the Red Shirt People, just as a red shirt arouses Blue Shirt contempt. Everyone learned long ago that it was better to keep to one’s tribe. Certainly it was safer.

All agreed it was in everyone’s best interest to adopt the wearing of a colored shirt. The common spaces were abolished. The wearing of the shirt was only a minor imposition, a small step from the habits many had already adopted—for example the voluntary disclosure of affiliation, whether to the Blues or to the Reds, using symbols affixed to one’s house or automobile. Even in the absence of these symbols, it was a trifle working out the side on which a stranger stood. The shirts didn’t change anything, they merely made life easier.

It was not uncommon that a man would beat a woman to death in the street. In the past, justice had been a messy and complex business. But now, thanks to the shirts and to WhoMeaning, justice was easy. Whenever a Red Shirt bludgeoned a Blue Shirt, the Red Shirt People would deem the event just. The Red Shirts would advert to Blue Shirt crimes of a similar, indeed (they would say) worse, nature. The Blue Shirts would denounce Red Shirt acts but defend Blue Shirt People as patriots. In the Blue world everything blue was noble and majestic, everything Red diseased and evil. In the Red world, nothing Blue was to be trusted. The Blue were not even human, according to the Red People.

The arrangement worked, for a time. After the war and the introduction of the colored shirts, the Blues stayed in Blueland and the Reds in Redland. For a time, there was peace. Then came the tests of loyalty. Among the Blues, there were efforts to determine who among them was insufficiently Blue. The Reds began to purge themselves of those they called The Purples. Now that tribalism ran the land, there was no staunching its flow.

The Red Shirt People re-wrote the history of the Republic to satisfy Red desires. The Blue schools taught the young that their past, present, and future miseries were the work of the Reds. Everyone accepted that another war was on the way. Perhaps this time they would vanquish and extirpate their enemies.

I am writing this to you from the prison where they keep the ones who refuse to wear the colored shirts. By the time you receive this, I will likely be dead. Time is not on my side, perhaps also not on yours. There was a period when we thought, naively, that the war could be averted. Then the world went mad, as it often does. You don’t see it happening—or you do, but only when it is too late. The world is normal, and then, mad. In the meanwhile all that we had in our defence were words, principles, appeals to humanity’s higher nature. Truth and justice, in that small window of opportunity when these could mean something real, something solid, and not just anything that one pleased. And then, the madness, and it was too late.

The Ones Who Know Jesus

Trumpetsound, a fissure of sky. A midnight darkness visible yields to His glory. The firmament echoes of angelsong. Jesus has come, and the many see and fear.

Hallelujah! He has come!

For centuries He has tarried. For millennia His people have waited, reciting His words. “Soon,” they whispered. In the streets they declared: He will return! The people of Jesus have held to His promises, lo these passing generations, and now He is returned.

Thy Kingdom, come.

The people of Jesus behold his greatness. The people of Jesus rejoice. A time of greatness has begun.

The first to speak is the Holy Press Secretary.

“Hello everyone,” says the Holy Press Secretary. “This is a massive crowd, the greatest crowd ever. Much larger than the crowds of Satan, our adversary. Look at this crowd! And now, I would like to introduce your King, the Son of Man, Jesus.”

The Host of Holy Angels parts, and Jesus floats into view. He wears a business suit and a red tie. He smiles, waves to the adoring crowd. He gives a thumbs-up to someone in the audience. He claps, just as they are clapping. It is a good day, and Jesus is smiling.

“It’s great to be here,” says Jesus. “I love Florida,” says Jesus. “Tremendous people. The best people.”

The people of Jesus are ecstatic. The Chosen One is among them and the time has come to fulfil the Promise.

“Blessed are the businessmen,” says Jesus. “The CEOs, the hedge fund managers. The heads of companies, tremendous people, the best people. They are going to help Me make the Earth great again. That is why I have appointed them to lead you during the transition.”

Then a voice among the crowd: “Blessed are the weak and the poor!”

“Get him outta here,” says Jesus. Two angels comply. They take the man by his arms and walk him to the edge of the crowd, where they shove him to the pavement.

Later, the Holy Press Secretary will explain that Jesus did not say “Blessed are the poor” or that “the meek shall inherit the earth.” The Holy Press Secretary will explain that these words are the product of the lying media. These words are fake news. What Jesus said and what was written about Him are two different things, the Holy Press Secretary will say.

In the meanwhile Jesus tells them there will be streets of gold and rivers flowing of milk. “Our hard-working dairy farmers, tremendous farmers, are the best. My infrastructure plan will put gold on every street. You’ll get tired of seeing gold, there will be so much gold.”

The people of Jesus are thrilled by these promises. Jesus says they will live forever, and that all tears will be wiped away. He tells His followers that He will build a mighty kingdom, and He will smite their enemies. And it will happen fast, He says, so fast. You won’t believe it, He says. Believe me, He says.

The people of Jesus believe. They are, after all, believers. They believe in Jesus and they believe in believing in Jesus and they believe in belief. It is by faith that they live and are are saved. Believing in belief in belief, hungering and thirsting for things unseen, fingers in the darkness.

*

Jesus has come with a sword. Those who question Him are deserving of fire. His people gird for war. The unbelievers, the doubters, the naysayers, the blasphemers—all are deserving of their perdition. “We are the persecuted,” say the followers of Jesus. “But no longer. The time has come for battle against our enemies.”

In the kingdom there is bottomless provision for war, abundant provision for force. Provision for weapons, provisions for the squadrons of angels who now patrol the streets, provision for displays of threatened violence against dissenters. Jesus reminds them each day that they are one People under God, one in thought and in belief and in nature. They are one nation under the Leader, and the Leader is leading them to greatness.

“No one gets to the kingdom except through me,” says the Leader. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” The people know that their Leader speaks the Truth. There ought to be no room for dissent or challenge, no opportunity requested for clarification, no court of appeal. Those who question the Leader are unpatriotic traitors, and the vile filth of their nature will be remembered.

The Leader withdraws to His mansion. He delegates His work to minions. He makes occasional appearances where He basks in the adulation of His people. He becomes obsessed with the doubters and non-believers, issuing threats against them. “They treat Me so badly, so unfairly,” says the Leader. “But I will prevail.”

The months pass. Somehow the streets remain paved, not of gold, but of dehiscent tarmac. There are no rivers of milk. The tears that were supposed to be wiped away instead wet the faces of children. The Leader tells them that greatness is coming, that the Kingdom will be the best kingdom they have ever seen.

“The Leader said nothing about milk,” reports the Holy Press Secretary. “The greatness is coming, only our many enemies encircle and frustrate us. The ones who are against us are and against you. Look to the enemy!”

It doesn’t matter what happens, or what does not happen. It doesn’t matter what the Leader says, or does not say. Nothing matters, save that the people believe in Him. Fear and loathing of their enemies keeps them strong. What the Leader hates, they hate also. They have built their church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The Leader enjoys His throne yet He is restless. He is a jealous Leader, desirous of universal adulation. Every knee must bend or be cast into a lake of fire. When the Leader is not enjoying the repose of His many stately properties, He broods over the resistance. Why are there some who do not believe? Why do they take His name in vain? Why do they not honor Him?

The frustration and anger of the Leader grow. He dismisses every Judas among Him, but another Judas soon rises. He cuts down every obstacle, but another obstacle springs from the earth. This work of His will take longer than He realized.

Once again, He appeals to His people. “I am your Leader,” He says. “And our enemies are against Us. We must wage war against Our enemies.”

“Yes,” they say. “We must fight our enemies. And then the Kingdom will come.”

Yes Mister President Yes

Through the fence between the curling flower spaces the ones who make the words the mean words can see us hitting later they bring me the papers the papers papers papers and I tell them I say Enough of the fucking papers no papers tell me in words use your fucking words the fucking words FUCKING not papers and they say Everything is good Mister President the people love you they say which they do I think so yes the people love me but how do I know well there are the rallies my huge rallies they adore me and clap and hold up signs I hear nice words nice and they love me they all do every one of them they adore me and they wear hats and shirts with my name CRUSHER my name me they love me at my rallies me love me how I wish I were there now instead of here on the floor they have hidden the remote control again perhaps under a chair or carpet so I will crawl along the ground feeling for the remote and my phone is gone also where could it be I must make the words that go out into the world the words for my people the people love me the news is all good they tell me this they say You are doing a fabulous job Mister President and Look here Fox News is saying nice things about you Mister President You are a good President and Yes I say I am a good President so good only inside that feeling like fire or smashing things falling falling I sweat and soon my hands are pounding pounding pounding they should love me all of them I am pounding why do they not love me everything coming apart to pieces I hate them all what is going to happen it is all going wrong now I am Crusher the greatest CRUSHER no one is smarter or stronger than I am I always win I will win I will crush them they will see now the television is on I see bright pictures faces moving nice people talking will they be nice to me are they nice people or mean people nice or mean I go to that place now I am hitting the ball and it goes wheeeeeeeeeee up into the air and falls falls somewhere up the fairway under a blue sky a steak and ketchup fries gold the people love me I am everywhere on the newspapers the televisions everywhere the gold of my home steak I hit the ball I am happy the people love me they adore me they are mean they are mean to me so I hit back I hit them HIT HIT HIT HIT HIT them they are fucking mean they are mean I HIT them FUCK FUCKING FUCK these motherfucking No Mister President they say Please Mister President Give us the phone I am shouting FUCK then pick pick pick words pick pick pick words it is full to 140 that means it is full and it is done pick it is done the words out in the world I HIT HIT HIT them the ball into the air I am calm now there the ball is in the air it is up in the blue sky I breathe where is the ball I can breathe ah the ball and steak and ketchup and fries and ice cream I am calm the people say They love you Mister President and it’s true I think it is true what is this I am hearing words I hear words I hear them say Crusher I hear them say words names I hear mean words bad people FUCK FUCK my hands pounding YOU ARE FIRED FUCK poundingpounding Please Mister President they say Please sit Look your picture here look the words are nice about you they are nice words about you love the people love love warm it is warm Please Mister President they are saying Look at the nice picture and then I am calm I hit the ball wheeeeeeeeeee look! it goes up into the air they take the flag out and I am hitting then they put the flag back and we go to the table and I hit and the other hits and I crawl on my hands and knees looking for the remote the phone I am crawling Listen at you now Lester says Was it on account of them Russians Lester Holt says I can see him now up on the TV he is nice Yes I say the Russians Yes I say Yes

Mr Htimsbackwards

Mr Htimsbackwards, my friend, perhaps even my conscience, perhaps my only friend and my only conscience, perhaps my soul, or myself even, perhaps. On a friday, or a monday. In any case, upon a day of the week. Your choice, this sordid question of day. Character description, the setting. As for a mood? Neither joyful nor mordant. Tension of a sort, a restlessness, dissatisfaction. Not dissatisfaction of a painful sort—rather a shapeless dissatisfaction at the margin. The margin of what? Of a mind, of a thought. Not of a soul, no no, not for us, soulless bastards both. Another word for restlessness, perhaps, this dissatisfaction. Mr Htimsbackwards, my friend, myself.

And the piss in the pants, forever the piss in the pants. Warm at first and then cold. But then again warm, the fresh piss after the old, warm after the cold. In the same way, word upon word, the hot word of anger, the cold word of reflection. Words. The feast of reason and the flow of piss. Glorious man, measure of all! Ho de anexetastos bios ou biôtos anthrôpôi. Anger, and ratiocination, body and mind, passion and reflection, the dialectic of warm piss and cold piss, hot words cold logic, subject and object, heavenandearth. The result, wisdom, if not outright philosophy.

Mr Htimsbackwards: The fucking news today!
Yours, truly: A goddamn outrage!
Mr Htimsbackwards: A goddamn outrage!
Mr Htimsbackwards: Ah, but.
Yours, truly: Oh well.
Mr Htimsbackwards: Hm, hm.
Yours, truly: Mm.

Too long without food and fuck. Ah, but the sun! The warm, warm sun, somewhere perhaps. A good idea, warm sun. A fine idea, that. And the swoosh of passing cars, also a fine idea. A hypnotic, narcotic swoosh. Men and women, each unto each, hand in hand, parkward. Or shopward, a matter of indifference, really. Sometimes man and man, sometimes woman and woman. Or other. Then the bark of children, the impatient pole-bound pug. A restlessness, the itchy balls, the close smell of Mr Htimsbackwards. An odor, even. Yes, a positive stench. No doubt of fart. Or, perhaps, a little bit of doubt. A shadow of doubt, but only a shadow.

Mr Htimsbackwards: What of the President?
Yours, truly: Of America?
Mr Htimsbackwards: Yes, dunderhead, of America! The Orange Menace? Mr Crusher?
Yours, truly: A jackass!
Mr Htimsbackwards: A goddamn outrage!
Yours, truly: Yes, but the piss!
Mr Htimsbackwards: The warm piss? Now?
Yours, truly: Yes, now. And, yes, the warm, after the cold.
Mr Htimsbackwards: Bravo, good man! Well done! Bravo!
Yours, truly: Merci, mon semblable, mon frère!

Ah, but the delicious stasis. And, better yet, the delicious motion! Motion, then stasis. Then stasis then motion. Then motion stasis stasis motion motion motion stasis motion stasis stasis stasis. A heavenly variety of stasis, with occasional motion. Never too much motion. Never too little stasis. The hours, of stasis and motion. Then the climax. Then, resolution. Then?

Then, tomorrow and tomorrow.

Mr Htimsbackwards: Ah, the warm!
Yours, truly: Now, my old boy? Now, for you, the warm?
Mr Htimsbackwards: Yes, my friend! Now for me the warm! As before, after the cold.
Yours, truly: Well done, old bugger!

The newspapers, forever the newspapers, with their infernal news. What madness! In my pants, the newspapers. The President, hot but then cold. News of death, by famine or by war, in my pants, and in the pants also of Mr Htimsbackwards, cold but then hot. For me national affairs, but for Mr Htimsbackwards world affairs. A hasty shove, hand into the pants, between the thighs and backupward into the crack of buttocks. There, just there, for the piss. A trick worthy of Kalashnikov. Then, the pissnews cold by noon but warm thereafter. And then cold. Today, Mr. Conrad Black, pisshot and then pisscold, pisscold and then pisshot, in the day’s important flow of piss. Tomorrow, who knows? Not I, good fellow.

Enough however of that. Instead, the warm sun, the infernal obstreperous child. The swoosh of cars, the impatient pug. And Mr Htimsbackwards, my conscience and my salvation and my friend, as myself even. And with a restlessness, a dissatisfaction, a shapeless nameless something on the margin of what, out into the world I. Yes, into a world.

Podcast 80

Senator Beyak and Tactile Close Encounters of a New Kind | My New Mike Pence Purity Rules | Jared Kushner’s Mar-a-Lago One-Stop Shopping Mall of America

Trumpists Triumphant

So much has been written of the current President that it feels almost a work of uselessness to sprinkle one’s grains on the ash pile. And yet, to a degree unmatched by his recent predecessors, Mr. Trump makes one feel both compelled to speak and, at the same time, exhausted by the thought of doing so. I’ve wondered what it would have been like to live under the regimes of, say, Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong-il, and the Trump administration provides a measure of insight into an important psychological aspect of authoritarianism. That aspect is the inescapability of the Dear Leader, the tendency of the regime to smother and exhaust its critics and their faculties. This raises the question of whether or not the President will succeed in his evident work of discrediting and confounding his critics, including those within the state who function in a constitutional capacity as a check and balance. Assuming the Trumpists do prevail, what might the world look like? That is the topic of this essay.

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