Tag Archives: News
Fake News, Real Money
We have all heard the President say that the news is fake, and we have seen this assertion take root and spread like a kind of conceptual weed. The phrase “fake news” contains within it the connotation of counterfeit and thus the insinuation of an act of wilful deception. Or, to use a more plain word, lying. If I were to spread around the claim that the Prime Minister of Canada is addicted to Xintopan, the way that Hunter S. Thompson did of Ed Muskie and Ibogaine, it could be correctly said that I was spreading fake news. The presumption that something like this is widely taking place in the dominant commercial media, each and every day, could only be maintained by the most credulous and lazy. A news outfit that deliberately fabricated would soon find itself discredited and driven out of business. And yet there is no denying that news is a manufactured good, like bicycle tires or washing machines or laxatives. The news does not drop from heaven, it is made. What is it then that the media are doing, as makers of a mass-consumer product called news?
When I was a boy the news was something trotted out by three news stations each weeknight between 6 and 7. This was before the cable networks invented the 24-hour news cycle. Where once it had been accepted that a one-hour dose of news per day was sufficient, the cable universe substituted the proposition that news is something requiring round-the-clock attention and comment. Whatever else this substitution may entail, it is beyond doubt a scaling-up of manufacture. To go from one hour of news a day to twenty-four is more than a quantitative change: it is an admission that something arbitrary is at work, untethered from any underlying principle or logic. News is only another product that can be made in batches small or large. Here I do not mean to equate the manufacture of a product with fabrication in the sense of lying. I mean only that the news is made up in the way that a book or song or photograph is made up. It is a matter of perspective and of discrimination. An outbreak of war or the assassination of a public figure will be obvious instances of news to most people, but many daily events will necessarily occupy a grey area which only subjective considerations will resolve. It is someone’s job every day to scan the landscape and to package up a selection of found objects for this thing we call the news.
I have been claiming that the news is a product, but in a sense this is misleading. While news is packaged, the media do not deal in the business of selling news. The actual product of the news media are the eyeballs of their audience, which the industry sells to advertisers. And just as every audience constitutes a market, with exhaustively studied desires and beliefs and tastes, so too the media audience is a market. Everything produced by a news corporation will defer to the interests of advertisers by taking pains to court the market they are selling, because that market is the fruit of their efforts, hence their chief product. The specific character of a news outlet is a reflection of this ongoing and often imperfect effort to attract and to hold viewers. It is possible to parse the various news outlets into the grammar of their respective markets, taking into account matters such as aesthetics and social class and political assumptions. Here are some rough examples off the top of my mind, of the respective markets targeted by media outlets, to demonstrate how this might look:
PBS Newshour: “I believe there are two sides to every story and so it is important that we seek out balancing points-of-view in a rational and civilized manner. I’m a pretty informed and intelligent person and I think of myself as open-minded and highly educated. I think the great malaise of our time is partisanship. The parties must work together to find compromises that serve the broader public interest.”
New York Times: “To me America is an imperfect country whose history is marred by hubris and miscalculation, yet it remains a beacon to the world. I care about the arts and humanities and I don’t apologize for wanting sophistication, and I like my news to be informed and thoughtful. Our system is unique in history and to protect it politicians must be held to account, in particular by media.”
FOX News: “I’m sick of the establishment. It’s corrupt and must be brought down. The GOP is Republican In Name Only. Liberalism is ruining America. I am angry as hell and it’s time to fight back to reclaim the real America our forefathers fought to protect. I love this country and I love God and I am not ashamed to call myself a Patriot.”
National Post: “There’s nothing worse than Social Justice Warriors and the Culture of Entitlement. Taxes are too high and free enterprise plus individual responsibility will solve most of our problems, if anything can. Most politicians are clowns, and we would be better off without them, but Canada remains the greatest country in the world and our system is fundamentally sound and just.”
The Rebel: “I love this country and I care about what happens to it. We’re at war with Cultural Marxism and Islamic terrorism, whether you want to admit it or not. Political correctness be damned. Radical feminism and the fascist left are huge dangers today, and the mainstream media is either too weak or too biased to see it. If we don’t act now, our civilization will be lost.”
These sketches are of course caricatures, but even a caricature projects the recognizable outline of a face. What the media share among them is an unspoken but firm assumption that “our way of life” is fundamentally sound. This is why no allowance is made for outside-the-system cranks and revolutionaries, even on a more extreme network such as Fox. The media target and trade in, above all else, aesthetic differences, from the calm establishment tit-and-tat of PBS to the fringe-establishment agitation of Fox. The New York Times marketing department knows exactly what ads to put in front of the people who read it, and in the main they are ads for “luxury” watches and automobiles and not for obesity medication or adult diapers. Even the PBS fiction of a publicly-funded broadcaster has a marketing/aesthetics impetus, aimed as it is at upper-middles whose tastes lead them to abjure anything they regard as vulgar capitalism. Because the PBS NewsHour ads come at the end of the program, disguised as public-service announcements, the viewer may enjoy the wholesome illusion of an organic, free-range, untainted media.
To appreciate how thoroughly the news is market tested and market formulated, one only has to spend some time watching a program that makes no accommodation for one’s tastes and outlook. To begin with, the aesthetics and the social-class markers will be all wrong. You will either find the program too loud and uncouth, or you will find it boring and pinheaded and elitist. The villains will be wrong, as will the heroes. A Marxist-Leninist will be unable to consume any of the widely-available news except critically and oppositionally, as imperialist-capitalist propaganda, because in capitalist societies Marxism per se does not exist as a market. The same is doubtless true for white-power fascists, who until the arrival of Mr Trump saw little in the media tailored to their obsessive hatred of the elites, and especially of establishment race traitors. In recent years however outlets such as Breitbart and The Rebel have courted what might be termed under-served markets. As the media markets further segment and diverge, we approach the point at which the news can refer to a widening range of subjects, for example Tucker Carlson dedicating weeks of programming to a Hillary Clinton scandal from the past. Presumably there is a sizeable chunk of America that wakes every day enraged at and obsessed with a woman who is not a politician and who is no longer pursuing public office. It follows that such a person will be deeply unsatisfied by news that doesn’t take up as its operating premise the notion that Ms Clinton remains America’s foremost menace.
It is easy to conclude that the news is so much fabricated, or fake, nonsense if one’s assumptions and tastes and prejudices go unserved. The final ineluctable truth of every human life is that it is brief and pointless and of no enduring consequence, but only a person of mental instability would seek out a messenger and a message emphasizing this point day upon day. For reasons having to do with our animal survival, most of us prefer to believe reassuring if also distorted propositions about our own intelligence, beauty, rightness, and significance. In the same way the news is forever serving up a workable and reassuring version of the world, even when it is delivering word of the latest political scandal or humanitarian disaster. Mr Trump objects to the “fake news” for the simple reason that much of the press is neither workable nor reassuring from his perspective, both practically and psychologically. He is a pedlar of emotions and not of arguments, and if the facts do not serve his emotional needs then they are in a sense inauthentic. It goes without comment that Mr Trump runs what amounts to a media platform, via Twitter, that has all of the New York Times‘ reach but none of the fact checkers or editors. Much of what he claims in public would not pass the hastiest edit, because the standards of even a small-town paper exceed those of the Commander-In-Chief. But facts are not what the Trumpists have in mind when they complain of fake news. What they have in mind is a different test: “Do I like what I am hearing?”
Beyond this is another consideration, the fact that the President is so far outside the norms of American politics that it is impossible to say whether political norms will move him, or vice versa. What is clear is that the liberal-centrist-consensus media markets, which have long been the dominant markets, are under an organized attack that shows no sign of relenting. As a celebrity media personality, from roughy 1980 to 2015, Trump got what he needed and wanted from the media by providing them outrageous and therefore attention-getting tidbits to distribute, which they faithfully did and continue to do. Only, Mr Trump is no longer in the celebrity business, or perhaps is in it but in another business also—a business where his provocations and broadcasts can lead to international scandal, impeachment, violence, and war. Under the former dispensation, both sides got what they wanted, that is to say celebrity-and-profit-promoting click-bait. Now the President wants something more. He wants media that are supplicants of his reign. And there is no reason to assume he won’t get it if, in exchange, the media get eyeballs and clicks and dollars.
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
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.
Introducing Ken Detective
Ken Detective takes the last of the bourbon. He of broad shoulders, square chin, chaws chaws the glass to tabletop, until a waitress arrives on a circuit that will soon return her bearing another.
Ken Detective eyes the courtyard. Birds fall from the clouds to walk the earth. The birds tell men secrets of sky-gods. The birds whisper to the sky-gods tales of human disappointment: the corn that does not grow, the infertile wife, the idiot President. The gods are bored but also indifferent. They do not listen. They have witnessed the efforts of men, Icarus on his waxy feathers, Neil Armstrong tumbling through space in a bucket. Long ago they decided that mankind is absurd. The birds return to earth, where the impotent men take note of their flight or eviscerate them, spilling the entrails for divination.
Today the birds reveal nothing to Ken Detective. The only thing certain is that the President, Mr Crusher, is a dangerous idiot. Detective takes the last of the bourbon, chaw chaws on the table, awaits his blessed comet of booze. The bar is dark, and if not for him it would be empty also, an ebony nothingness where no comet would bother to go. A good thing that he likes the darkness, likes to hunt it down, to invigilate it for intel. His best work, the real and true art of his occupation, happens in back alleys and taverns. Ken Detective has no use for the bright nonsense of men and their lucent delusions, or for people in general, unless they have information to spill. Then, by all means, find a dark place to slice em open. Shed some light on a shady subject.
The President is a shady character, a narcissistic con artist with a lot of low friends in high places. Russian mafia, Chinese crooks., pimps, hustlers, dirty operatives. The kind of people your mother told you to steer clear of when you were a child. You know the type: grubby and snotty-nosed lowlife bastards who pulled to the curb and offered you candy. Hucksters and shysters, perverts, liars, and creeps. All the President’s men. I haven’t nailed him yet, but jesus I will I swear, on whatever you got in those pockets of yours. I’ll get the bugger, if it’s the last act and the curtain is hitting me in the face. Shit on my corpse and never speak of me again if I don’t.
The thing about being a detective is you care about the facts like you care about oxygen and the kind attentions of a pretty woman. It’s in me like the piss and vinegar is in me, like the bourbon is in me, and although it burns and sometimes makes me go mad, I keep coming back for more. If I have to crack a head for my facts, by god I’ll crack a head. It’s only business. I get to the bottom, and sometimes, my friend, the bottom is a long way down. Not many men have the iron for it, I’ll tell you that. Look at the folks who went punch drunk mad building the Brooklyn bridge, diving and surfacing, diving and re-surfacing, until their brains turned to mush. But I ain’t like that, somehow. I keep on going, I push, I go to the bottom. And I come up and do it again, and then again some more, because the drive is in me. If there’s anything I hate it’s an up-to-no-good liar, covering his lying ass with a sack of lies. I want to kick that ass clear all the way to damn hell. So because I have it in me that’s the thing I’m going to do, so help me god.
Ken Detective takes the last of the bourbon and rises, dropping a bill on the table. He has an appointment in a dark place, with a fellow whose head just might need some cracking.
Despite the constant negative press covfefe
Despite the constant negative press covfefe, it is true that my name is Kalashnikov. There are some who call me Nik. I say some, and perhaps these some are my friends, but perhaps also not, the ones who call me Nik. I am saying neither that they are friends nor that they are not friends, but only that they call me Nik, as a friend might, or as a friendly person might. If the friendly are friends then it follows that those who call me Nik, which is to say those who speak in the friendly manner of a friend, are friends. None of this solves the original problem however, the problem of the manner of arrival at this curious term Nik, which is not my name but instead a nikname. Ah, the clever pun! —entirely accidental but intended but also not at all what I meant to say.
It happened thusly. First, by extirpation of Kalash, leaving the rump of Nikov. Second, by excision of Ov, leaving the stump of Nik, a knuckle of truncated finger. Excision and extirpation, negation and elimination, and so on. They might have gone further, for example by extermination of the N, leaving a mere Ik. Or by pulverizing the Ik, leaving the mere desolation of N. But to call one by the name of N is an absurdity, something this world of ours could never tolerate. Absurdity, I mean, and not the man, N. Of course the man N, the N-Man would be tolerated, of course! Obviously, in America! Or somewhat tolerated. Or barely, perhaps even not at all. Yes, he would be tolerated not a bit. Of course a suitable epithet, a slander, a term of race hatred, would be confected and hurled at him with abandon, this stinking N fellow. An N-word, doubtless, but not that N-word. Rather another N-word, for there is no end of possibility, altogether unrelated to the N-word universally known to man but also universally to woman.
Despite the constant negative press covfefe, I sleep. It is true that I am awake, but not in the sense that I am not also asleep. I neither sleep nor wake, which is to say I am both asleep and awake. The President may need me at any moment, and so I am awake. There is no question of the thing. But the necessity of sleep is incontrovertible, if that is a word. And so I have found the perfect solution, a most reasonable solution of all, which is to make of sleeping a wakefulness, and to make of being awake a kind of sleep. The sleep of reason. In this state I lay, awaiting the President’s call of “N-word!” He does not say n-word, but rather the word itself—the word designed specifically as an insult to my nature. You see, the President enjoys this sort of thing. At his call I rise and go to the President. Despite the constant negative press covfefe, I discover him in good spirits. His spirit, not mine. It happens that 48% of the American people approve of him, and knowing this he is happy.
I must however play the Devil’s Advocate, the Adversary, and the Accuser. I must. That is to say, play the role, because the truth of any matter is in the dialectic. To his yin I am a yang, to his x an anti-x, as a matter of necessity, even of duty. I play the role.
– Doth the people love you for nought, Mr. President? For you have made an covfefe about them. But if thou takest away their covfefe, surely thine servants shalt curse Thee to Thy face.
– Behold, I will put forth Mine hand.
It happens then that the President puts forth His hand, and a pestilence falls upon His people. The President causes health care to be taken from His faithful servants. He causes their premiums to increase.
The President cuts taxes for those who possess the fattened calves and the yoke of oxen and the assess and the sheep. He causes the taxes of the mighty to be brought low and upon the meek He places His mighty burden. Everywhere He cuts and abolishes and rescinds. He smites His faithful servants with pre-existing conditions.
“Lo,” he says, “Take heed, N-word, that neither do they curse nor forsake Me.”
Again, He does not say “n-word,” but rather the word itself.
And it is true. Although they tear their raiment, and although they sit in ash and go about in sackcloth, the faithful do not curse the name of the President.
The stricken are visited daily by Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite. Each has a program on Fox News—Eliphaz at 8, Bildad at 9, and Zophar at 11.
“Your suffering is due to Hillary,” says Eliphaz. “Curse her and die.”
“Surely the lying media have forsaken you,” says Bildad. “Verily I say unto you that you suffer not, but that the President blesses thee.”
“Libtards!” says Zophar.
No matter how much the President smites His faithful servants, they do not curse His name. Smite their covfefe though He may, the faithful believe in Him and call upon His name.
“We know that Thou canst do every thing,” the faithful declare, “but that Thou shalt make things great again.”
“Tremendous, so tremendous” says the President.
“Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge?” say the faithful ones.
“SAD!” says the President.
“These are things too wonderous for us, things which we know not,” say the faithful.
“Gird up thy loins now like a man!” says the President. “Despite the constant negative press covfefe!”
And so they gird their loins, like a man, despite the constant negative press covfefe.
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, 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.
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They Have Begun to Drain the Swamp!
Mr. Venti Cappuccino, Chairman of the House Diabolical Mustachio Committee, has pulled it off. He has rendered the Office of Official Optimism toothless and ineffectual, having placed it under the auspices of the House Committee for Keeping It Secret.
Mr. and Mrs. Fashism
Mr. and Mrs. Fashism ride the enormous circuit of the 89 towards the Patriot Bureau. En route they debark at the Olde Tyme Shop, leaving the box store some hours later with plastic bags of gold plated trinketry.
Mr. Crusher’s brand
The color of my brand is gold, tremendous 24k gold. You know when you see the gold of my brand that my brand is rich, so it is powerful, so it is number one and nothing and no one is above or even equal to my brand. My brand is the ultimate, the best, the winner. Whenever it is written, it is written in large letters, the largest letters, the large 24k gold of the winner who is above all else. No name shall be bigger. If there is another name, the name of my brand shall be the largest name, in fact it shall be the largest of all the words, of all the other words that are near. No other name shall surpass the name of my brand, ever.
The Tapping of Marco Lepsi
The orange menace knots his power tie. When finished he looks down to inspect the result. Its tip grazes a knee, sways and grazes the other knee, and so on back and forth between his knees, just as the tip of a perfectly deployed tie ought. He tapes the tie-tail, rendered too short to reach the keeper loop, firmly into place. Then he inspects himself in the full-length mirror. He likes what he sees. The orange menace grins, and a relief of orange putty, the shape of a walnut, forms on the pediment atop his scrofulous lappet.
Yes, Mr. President, Yes
Geld Times journalist, Barry Leed, has spent the day on a metal bench in the Crusher Tower lobby. The waiting’s been in vain, not just for him but for the pool of journalists that engulfs him. There has been no sign of the orange menace, nor of his chief strategist, Shive White. The few insiders who do arrive emerge from limousines and are hurried to the elevator, like a leaf floating on a current. A door opens and they appear, another opens and they are gone.