Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Straight Democratic Ticket, Is What I Recommend

At 4:02 today, Ex-US Representative Joe Walsh @WalshFreedom of Illinois tweeted:

On November 8th, I'm voting for Trump.

On November 9th, if Trump loses, I'm grabbing my musket.

You in?

About an hour later, having apparently suffered in a meantime a backlash over that tweet severe enough to alarm even him, Walsh explained in an interview that he was "talking metaphorically."

Walsh is an unbearable jackass.

Metaphorically speaking, of course. He's not actually a donkey. That part was metaphorical.

The part about him being unbearable was not. And I'm not the only one who feels that way. Walsh was one of the Tea Party freshmen Congesspeople voted in in 2010 and voted out again in 2012. He has repeatedly gotten into trouble for speaking in a racially insensitive manner and repeatedly had to explain that he was speaking metaphorically and so forth and that what he really meant was, and so forth.

Earlier this year, Walsh Twitter account was suspended -- not for the musket tweet, but for something much worse which Twitter deleted, which I won't repeat here. Walsh had to explain that he hadn't really meant what he said and promise to cut it out to get his account back. In an interview the next day, Walsh said of what was in the deleted tweet which he hadn't really meant that way:

That's crazy and stupid and wrong. It would end my career and it's wrong."

It would end his career -- AND it's wrong. Nice to see a man of integrity who has his priorities right.

My point is just to remind my readers, once again, that Trump didn't come out of a vacuum, that Trump really isn't even much of an anomaly in the GOP. As much as the Republican primaries seemed to be a complete cluster****, they in fact did not nominate him completely by accident.

Of course, for those of you who live in the many part of the US represented by Republicans who aren't distancing themselves from Donald Trump, it's probably not even necessary for me to point out that Trump is not an anomaly. This is more for those of you watching all the Republicans running full speed away from Trump on the nationwide news and in places where he's messing up the campaigns of the local Republicans.

You know of any Republicans running for office or for re-election in areas where Trump leads Clinton in the polls, who are distancing themselves from him? Me neither. Isn't it a remarkable coincidence how closely bad poll numbers for Republicans and Republican moral outrage at Trump coincide?

No Republican politicians running for office anywhere should be considered completely free of association with Trump. The main difference between "moderate" Republicans and jackasses like Trump and Walsh is that the "moderates" have a better sense of when it's expedient to keep their mouths shut -- or, for example, to distance themselves from a colleague who's going down like the Hindenburg, or to pretend that they think Hillary is just swell and always have thought so. and, of course, the "moderates" are running for office in places where people like Trump and Walsh are very unpopular.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


The last 12 twelve days of tempest in the teapot of culture have given me an idea for what might be a fascinating documentary film. It could be entitled Wadenbeisser, and examine people who have complained about other people receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Wow -- it has really only been 12 days since Dylan's Nobel Prize was announced. It feels like much longer than 12 days. There has been so much criticism of the award in those 12 days, which I have been able only to partly ignore. It seems incredible that such an immense volume of hostile nonsense and ignoble resentment could have been produced in just 12 days.

"Wadenbeisser," always with a capital W, is a German noun, one of those German nouns which is spelled the same in the singular and the plural, which literally translates to "calf-biter" or "calf-biters," and figuratively refers to something such as a small dog which charges a person, barking furiously, and bites the person in the calf. A Wadenbeisser is someone who is figuratively small, in the sense of shallow or petty, attacking someone of greater (figurative) stature.

Wadenbeisser might be a good name for this documentary, because, of all the impassioned denunciations of various Nobel Prizes in Literature which I have read, none has been a tiny fraction as interesting as the written work of the denounced Laureates.

Bob Dylan's award may have kicked off the greatest of these storms of boring and petty discontent, because he is so famous. But I'm also thinking of the outrage expressed when William Golding, VS Naipaul and Mario Vargas Llosa won The Big One. I'm sure there have been many earlier cases in which the Wadenbeisser have been deservedly forgotten. I would dig such cases up primarily to mock them, of course, and to underscore the greater stature of the winners.

In the case of William Golding, at least one Wadenbeisser usually wrote much better stuff than his complaints about the prize: Gore Vidal, who usually was not a Wadenbeisser at all. Indeed, typically he was arrayed against the petty-minded and the resentful. He will deservedly be long-remembered. Just hopefully not for bitching because Golding got the prize in 1983, and not his pals Burgess and Calvino.

(In case the name Golding rings a bell but you can't quite place him: he wrote novels, drama, verse and non-fiction. He wrote Lord of the Flies and published at least 12 other much less famous volumes before his prize in 1983, and 4 volumes afterward, not counting a posthumously-published novel.)

There would have to be a special place in the film for those criticizing awards going to writers not one line of whose work they had read, and of course, I am among that special class of Bozos: I've complained about the number of Literature Nobels going to Scandinavian writers, but I shouldn't have, because I haven't read them. And I'm always bitching about other people talking about texts they haven't written, which makes me a double Bozo for bitching about these Nordic bards unknown to me, and I'll take my licks for it. I'm not one of those people, like Donald Trump, who think that no one can see fault to which the faulty party does not admit.

Ann Arbor

I live in Ann Arbor, there, I said it. (I've been saying, online, that I live in Detroit. Ann Arbor is in the Detroit metro area. Sort of.)

Ann Arbor is, far and away, hands down, no question, the friendliest city I've ever been in. One example: the streets are kind of confusing at first, so at first I asked strangers for directions now and then, but I soon got kind of embarrassed to do that because I knew that, EVERY TIME I asked for directions, whoever I asked would completely drop whatever they were doing and explain and explain until they were convinced I was oriented. Every time. And then, sure enough, came the times when people asked ME for directions, and I stopped everything and made sure they were going to get where they needed to go...

What spurred me to write this is that on Facebook a discussion broke out about Ann Arbor, and every comment I saw said it was a nice place, with one exception, a woman who said it was the unfriendliest place she's ever been and she couldn't wait to leave. Someone responded to that that it might have something to do with the vibe she was putting out.

And that made me think about my next-door neighbor. I've gotten along fine with most of the people I've encountered in Ann Arbor. One of the few exceptions is my next-door neighbor. I'd never met him before when one day, he came up to the fence while I was mowing my lawn with my non-motorized push mower and told me that my lawn looked like shit. I asked him what was his point. I guess I must've looked rather annoyed when I said that, and I'm big and scary-looking, so maybe the look on my face scared him out of saying anything else. (I'm 6'3", 300lbs and scars on my face. Think Edward James Olmos, Tommy Lee Jones and Danny Trejo. And you know what? I bet in real life all three of those guys are just big ol puppy dogs, gentle and harmless as can be. I could be wrong. Then again I could be completely right.) Anyway, he didn't tell me what his point was, and that was the end of the only conversation we've had so far.

More recently, a next-door neighbor on the other side said that she and her guy loved the wild look that my yard had, and envied it. Now was that the real truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or was she just being nice, because I'd just told her about my only conversation so far with the next-door neighbor on the other side? I really don't know. I hope that, to some people at least, my place really does have a beautiful wild sort of look. But whether it was true or whether it was complete bullshit, it was a very nice thing to say, and guess which neighbor I like better? Go ahead, take a "wild" guess.

Ann Arbor is a very liberal city politically. How liberal? Well, for example, I have seen only ONE Trump sign in town.

And it's right next door, in the front lawn of that smooth character who felt the need to start his very first conversation ever with me by telling me that my lawn looked like shit.

I wonder whether that guy would describe Ann Arbor as a friendly city. And I wonder whether his impression of how friendly the city is might have to do with the vibe he's putting out.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Paranoid Losers

I remember when I started to relax because I realized not only that Hillary had won the nomination, but that Bernie was losing his power, and that with every day that passed when he wouldn't admit that he'd lost and wouldn't endorse her, he lost more power, and with every day that passed, it mattered less and less what he did. Whom did Bernie hurt the most waiting too long to acknowledge reality and throw his support to Hillary? (Not that he's ever thrown all of his support to her: saying that she's clearly the 2nd-worst choice of the 2 people who have a chance to be elected is not the same as a real endorsement.) He hurt himself above all. He could've made a huge impact in this election, instead of being a huge pain in the ass before finally making a much smaller impact.

He could've been a hero, if he had any sense of how politics works.

Today, a few months after Hillary trounced that paranoid old man for the nomination, that grumpy old guy who constantly complained that he was being cheated and who saw imaginary conspiracies against him everywhere, I'm starting to relax again, as it sinks in that she's going to beat another paranoid, grumpy old man who also constantly complains that he's being cheated and also sees imaginary conspiracies against him everywhere.

And just as in Bernie's case it matter less and less what he did the more he waited too long to concede, so it matters less and less what Trump says and does with each passing day, as it becomes more and more clear to more and more people how crazy and unreal all the things he's talking about are.

Bernie and Donald should get together and trade conspiracy theories about how Hillary screwed them over. As time goes by it will become harder and harder for both of them to find anyone who wants to listen to them, the overgrown tittybabies. And the rest of us can just get on with things here in the real world. Hopefully at some point soon people will generally realize that Debbie got screwed over for no good reason, for no reason whatsoever other than Bernie's irrational personal animosity for her, and she can get on with things here in the real world too.

Donald Isn't Happy

Donald Trump is in a funk, is how Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post describes it in a story published on Thursday.

Donald Trump feels sorry for himself, and he's complaining about how he's wasted $100 million dollars of his own money on his Presidential campaign.

I feel sorry for him, but only for one reason: because I think about how screwed-up a person in his circumstances has to be, mentally, in order to feel sorry for himself. But maybe it's not so much his circumstances right now, as him worrying, consciously or subconsciously, about how many of those chicken we've all come to learn about during the campaign are going to come home to roost.

Maybe there's more reason to feel sorry for him than appears at first glance. He was famous before the campaign, but he's much more famous now, and that bright light has shone upon some really ugly things, and there's really no telling how things will end up for him. How many businesses and business partners have cut ties with him already, because of things he's said and done on the campaign, and things which have come to light because of the campaign? How many more will cut ties with him?

Will the campaign have an effect on how his lawsuits go? (I really don't know the answer to that question, I don't know enough about lawsuits.)

Will he be criminally prosecuted, for sexual assault, or fraud, or tax evasion, or something else?

He has to at least subconsciously know that he's going to lose the election He still says he's going to win part of the time. He continues to say one thing about that and then the opposite, just as he's done on all sorts of topics throughout the campaign. A candidate who's truly confident about winning an election doesn't complain for months about how he's going to be cheated out of victory -- not even part of the time. Maybe he can see as clearly as anyone how badly he's going to lose.

Who knows? Is there any way of telling how much he believes of what he says? For example, he says the campaign has been a waste of $100 million of his own money, and any time Trump mentions an amount of money, you have to wonder how much smaller the actual amount in question is.

He seems a lot less scary than he did just a short while ago, and for someone who has relied so heavily on bullying, intimidating, abusing people and feeling untouchable, there actually is something sad about him losing at least some of that power. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely a good thing when a predatory person isn't allowed to behave as badly as he used to, no if's and's or but's about that. But I'm just trying, just for a moment, to imagine how it all must feel for Donald.

But I don't know whether I can stand much more than a moment of that.

Get out there and vote, if you haven't already. Trump must not just be defeated, he must be defeated by as wide a margin as possible. If ever there was an American election in which every single vote sends a message, it's this one.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Dylan's Nobel: None Of Your Business. His Response? See Previous Answer

A thought experiment: imagine that you -- yes, YOU -- were in your home, and someone you weren't expecting suddenly broke down your front door, barged into your home followed by a crowd of journalists with cameras and microphones, tossed $1000 in cash into your lap and demanded that you stand up and dance, and you didn't stand up. Who would be the impolite and arrogant party in such a case?

Bob Dylan's failure to acknowledge his Nobel Prize in literature is "impolite and arrogant", according to a member of the body that awards it.

Well, I'm sorry Per Wastberg feels that way.

The way I feel about all of this is: the people who are expressing outrage at Dylan being awarded the Nobel Prize are, at the very best, worse than impolite and arrogant. It's none of your business whom they give their prizes to. They're not your prizes to give.

And I think that Per Wastberg is being worse than impolite and arrogant in expecting a certain response from Dylan.

I'm not upset with Dylan at all about the prize or about his lack of response to it. Because I think that it's none of my business, and also none of Per Wastberg's business, what Dylan does or says about the prize. I wonder why he hasn't responded. But I don't think he owes me or anyone else an explanation of his silence.

Here is exactly what I think Dylan owes me, and you, and Wastberg: absolutely nothing. And that's exactly what, in my opinion, celebrities in general owe their fans: absolutely nothing. And it's also what Wastberg and the other Nobel people owe to the public, or to the people you think they snubbed, and it's also what any of the Nobel laureates owe any of the people at the Nobel organization: absolutely nothing. None of the above ever pledged that they owed anything to anyone, with the possible exception of the people who award the Nobel Prizes, and if they ever made any such solemn pledge, to the public or to the prize winners or to whomever, well, they shouldn't have.

When I'm (FINALLY!) awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, if and when I publicly react to the news of the award, and how I react, will be none of your business. Whether or not I take the money will be none of your business, and if I take it, what I do with it will be strictly between me and the Internal Revenue Service, and whether or not I show up at the award ceremony will be none of your business, and whether or not I give a Nobel Lecture will be none of your business, and if I give a lecture, what I say in that lecture will be none of your business. If the lecture consists of the 5 words "thnk yu verr mutch pleez" and you are outraged that that was my Nobel Lecture, you have my hearty permission to blow that outrage out of your ass.

And here's why: that agreement we came to about all of these and all related matters? That never happened. You hallucinated that.

Those of you who are outraged at Dylan for not making a statement about the prize: has it occurred to you that he may have been silent so far because he honestly doesn't know how he should react, and he's taking his time and thinking it over very carefully before he says anything? (Maybe in part because he knows that whatever he says will be blown out of all proportion by millions of idiots, and that there will be no way of coming close to pleasing them all?)

I have no idea why he hasn't responded, I'm just speculating. I'm not too worried about it one way or the other. It's none of my business. I just feel for someone who has so many complete strangers expecting so many different things from him for absolutely no sane or otherwise justifiable reason. For his sake and for the sake of many other famous people, I wish all of you judgmental, moronic creeps would just get your own damn lives. But it doesn't seem that anything remotely resembling that will happen soon.

Friday, October 21, 2016

What 31 Years Did

I just found out that last June, a man I used to know and profoundly annoy personally was named the first-ever Poet Laureate of Knoxville, Tennessee.

I... Don't know how to feel about this.

The first time I ever heard him, or heard about him, for that matter, was in 1985, when he suddenly showed up at a small private party in Knoxville, playing guitar and harmonica and also a tambourine he'd attached to one foot somehow and singing Bob Marley's "Redemption Song." It was also the first time I'd ever heard that song.

The song and the man have never sounded better to me than they did at that moment back in 1985. Yeah, all downhill from there. Kidding. The beer and the weed and party and the newness of him and of the song all had a lot to do with how he sounded to me at that moment.

And now he's Poet Laureate of Knoxville. I guess it goes to show you... something.

For 31 years I've wondered whether he was singing at that party because, living nearby, he heard a party going on and just decided to drop in and jam, or if they paid him to play. It wasn't his fault, not in the slightest, but I happened to be homeless and starving at the time. In large part because I was profoundly clueless about economics. Economic things such as whether that was him dropping in on friends or a paid gig. Like whether the people who'd invited me to the party were rich enough to summon musicians whenever they felt like it, as if they were Medieval monarchs, or whether they seemed rich to me because I was homeless and missing meals... and clueless about economics... and it has occurred to me just very lately that I'm still profoundly clueless about economics, and very lucky to no longer be going hungry, and profoundly clueless about who knows what all else... I constantly wonder about things which I assume are not all that mysterious to some others.

Such as about how a guy goes from hanging around (not a lot. Like I say, I annoyed him. Sorry. Really, I am) with the likes of me to becoming Poet Laureate of the Great Bermuda Triangle of the Appalachians, la-dee-freakin-da, while I became... well -- while I became The Wrong Monkey, whatever that is.

So give me my freakin Nobel Prize already because I used to hang out with and annoy the very first Poet Laureate of Knoxville, Tennessee.

The last time I talked with him, or the last time I remember, was in 1992, and although usually he had been very nice to me, very patient, this time, for the first time, he completely lost his patience (Or -- another example of the sort of thing I wonder about all the time -- had he completely lost his patience with me quite often before this, and this was just the first time I'd noticed?) and exclaimed, "What's wrong with you?!" and I told him I didn't know. I guess I know now that it was autism, and that is was being undiagnosed and not knowing that it was autism, not knowing that I could learn about my condition and thus mitigate it at least to a certain extent, knowing that there are certain things the vast majority of people tend not to like.

I don't blame him for exploding at me like that, really I don't. But since then I haven't wanted to be his friend either. I don't blame him for hurting me, but all the same, it hurt. And I wondered, and I've wondered since then, if we ever were friends before that or if it only occasionally seemed that way to me. I wonder whether that moment was at all memorable to him. And if so, what was it like? Like nothing much at all? Or did it make him feel bad that he lost his temper? Or did he feel good because it seemed I'd finally, finally gotten the message: "Fuck off!" ? Or was that not the message, not then and never? Have I greatly overstimated (or underestimated) the annoyance I caused him?

And I wonder how to wind up a weird blog post like this one. I wonder about so many things. All the time.