Change

December 5, 2016 1 comment

I’m not much good with change. It’s a strange thing. We yearn for it at times. We often look back on it with fondness. And yet, when we’re in the midst of it, all sorts of wires seem to get crossed. Our balance is thrown off. We miss what we never planned on missing….and we appreciate what we had, if only because it was familiar. The grass isn’t always greener of course. Most of the time it’s sorta the same brownish hue it was before. But we’ve got new attitudes to treat with. New buzz words to learn. New routes to take to get to the same places we all need to be. Above the water line….one step ahead of the bank’s warning letters. And most of the time is all sorta works out…somehow. In retrospect that is. At the time you’re constantly convinced you’re in the midst of a disaster.

The world’s number one fear, so I’m told, is public speaking. Death is number two. I guess I’m just as afraid of dying as the next person….but I never had an issue with public speaking. I’ve given all sorts of talks, eulogies, presentations, not to mention just standing on a stage for 4 hours armed only with an acoustic guitar. For me, change trumps (no pun intended, I swear) the dying thing. Change of any kind. A new job. A new location. A new task. A new route to a new store. A new payment process at a parking garage. You name it. If I’ve been doing something, anything, one way and you come and tell me that I have to start doing it differently, my very first instinct is to panic. My second instinct is to panic more. And then one reaches for the benzos.

I’m sorta kidding about the last part because change often comes with no immediate health insurance…but you get the idea. As a kid I assumed this sort of thing would ease up as I got taller. But no…all growing up allows you to do is not toss yourself on the floor at the mall and pitch a fit when your Mom asks you to do something you don’t want to do. I still feel exactly the same way, but as an alleged adult I must mask these moments with at least a thin veneer of maturity. So while in my head I’m still banging my head off the floor of JC Penney’s, outwardly I continue to resemble a male version of a Stepford wife. In other words, I’m acting all middle aged and respectable and exceedingly boring. The kind of person who gets invited to parties, but nobody really notices when they leave.

Sometimes we do things because we want to. Sometimes we do things because we think that’s what others want us to do. Sometimes we’re just bored, and treat day to day stuff like we’re sitting in front of a bunch of buttons and thinking….”I wonder what this big red one that says ‘DO NOT TOUCH’ really does…” Once you hit that button…..there probably ain’t no re-do, Bubba. But hell….sometimes they tell you not to look into the sun, and you know damn well that’s where the fun us. I think Abraham Lincoln said that. Or some ragamuffin from Jersey.

It’s amazing how much time we spend in this life forced to do things we don’t want to do. Time is precious, and not because there isn’t enough of it. Time I got, and the amount’ll do me just fine. What I ain’t got is the freedom to spend it doing what I love to do. As a kid the nuns used to blame all of this on Adam eating that damn apple. If only that snake hadn’t tempted him, we’d all be lolling around in gardens playing guitars and writing songs, mercifully free of the 40+ hour work week. But alas, ’twas not to be. We must suffer through insufferable co-workers and mandatory overtime and incomprehensible computer code due to the vanity of some ancient fool with a hard-on. It wasn’t much to go on but it seemed reasonable to a seven year old. Religion is awesome that way.

So that’s that for now. Sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug. And sometimes love IS the answer. Because if it wasn’t, why the hell would we bother?

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression….

November 11, 2016 1 comment

Yesterday was a sinking-in sort of day. Things were a bit foggy. It ain’t often you wake up in a brand new world.

I greeted the day the way I greet most. By pulling the covers over my head and slamming the snooze button. But I’m a grown-up and usually act like one, so I went through the motions of productivity at least. Went to work. Slumped at my desk. Starting slamming diet cokes. Jammed the ear-buds in. Fired up the Ipod. Found the appropriate mood music (early Replacements if I recall correctly, and the latest Drive-By Truckers), and shut out the rest of the world for the next 8 hours. It was dark when I walked to my car in the parking lot. I almost forgot. Daylight savings time and all that. Suddenly it seemed an ominous warning.

America has a new President. Which means that me, being a citizen of the United States, has a new President as well. The fact that he’s a blatant racist, a raging misogynist, an opportunistic homophobe, a childish bully, and a sexual predator who communicates at the level of a 4th grader matters not a whit now that the electoral votes are counted. This is a democracy, Bubba. Not a tea party.

rtx2oexu-baedec10-cdaa-4ec8-b68c-64f2cc0666b9Well, sorta anyway….there’s the electoral college thingie and all that, which means the one with the most votes sometimes loses…but whatever. The people have spoken, sometimes with spittle dripping down the side of their mouths, but still (the red and blue states still resemble a civil war battle map from 1864). Little ol’ me, being a member of said “people”, must accept the wishes of a people who elected a man who came to our area multiple times and promised, to a screaming throng of walking-dead-like supporters, that he was going to re-open the flooded anthracite mines, remove all the dead bodies (presumably?), and make America great again.

I must learn to get along in a nation that just elected Donald Trump president. I have been officially dumbed-down.

When considering who to vote for, the first thing I ask myself before checking the box is…”is this person endorsed by the KKK?”

If they are….that’s pretty much a deal breaker. I mean…..this shit shouldn’t be that hard.

I strive to be on the correct side of history, so assuming I don’t get deported and/or waterboarded in the next four years for being an enemy of the state, I’ll be able to sit my grandchild on my knee, peer outside at the large brown people-proof wall blotting out the sunlight, and say…”granddaddy voted for Bernie…”

I wish it was as easy as saying “he’s not my president”.

But he is my President. That’s the thing about elections in a democracy. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Reality bites. I’m all for protesting….but in this case all we’re doing is walking around in a circle. The election wasn’t rigged. Funny how that worked, eh? He won the thing….and the sooner we come to grips with it and try to stop him from dismantling what made America great before he started saying that it needed to be made great again, the better. 

And this is just the beginning. Just wait until he fills his cabinet with Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich…….a roll call of partisan slime that puts the “bat” in “batshit”. Trump is a craven opportunist with no fixed ideology….he believes whatever comes out of his mouth at the time of the utterance…and may in fact say the exact opposite the next day and deny the first bit ever happened. Trump is a homophobe because being that way was red meat to middle America. If he could get rich off gays he’d tweet-storm praise for the Indigo Girls.  People like Pence actually believe gays are lower life forms. That should concern you more. You’re giving the keys of government not only to a petulant child, but to professional, hard-core haters. Daylight savings was nothing, Set that clock back 75 years, Bubba.

You gonna keep teaching kids that they should respect women? That they should be tolerant of those different than them? Why should they believe you now? Every bully in the nation has just been vindicated.

I have daughters. Their President has bragged of sexual assault. How am I supposed to feel about that? I’ve been told I need to “get over it”.

How, exactly? Any ideas?

Does it bother anybody out there that a large group of Americans now fear their own President? A Mexican student at my daughter’s school has to spend her Thanksgiving break trying to convince her parents that they (probably) won’t get deported.

It’s good to be a white person, isn’t it? Even better…a white male. You get to be pissed off without being able to intellectualize why. How badass is that?

Where do we go from here? The thing about electing Donald Trump President is that you’ll eventually have to elect somebody else. Trump is the toothpaste out of the tube. He is fear and loathing personified…..a real live boogeyman.The unthinkable is not only off the table, it’s slithering between your legs in the dark like a snake. He’s saliva in the face of every man and woman who ever fought and died to make this country what Reagan once called a shining city on a hill. The glass ceiling that Hillary spoke of remains, but a guy like David Duke is foaming at the mouth right now to put his head through something. Maybe that sounds crazy now. But a year ago Donald Trump being President sounded crazy too.

Enjoy your wall and your higher taxes (when he said he would lower taxes, surely you didn’t think he was talking about yours, did you?) You got what you asked for….and now the best you can hope for is to be completely ignored, like you’ve always been. The only chance he’ll come to your town again is to ask to borrow your sons for one of his Putin-esqque wars….after he informs the Generals all he knows that they don’t about ISIS, of course.

For some reason, I’ve been remembering the line from the movie “Wall Street” lately. “That’s the problem with money….it makes you do things you don’t want to do.”

Hate is like that too.

We’re better than this. But then again, maybe we’re not.

Lincoln said that a nation divided against itself cannot stand. We are a nation divided against itself. And we are teetering. The fact that Donald Trump now sits where Abraham Lincoln once did could very well be the republic’s three-legged chair.

Maybe that’s the silver-lining.

But maybe….just maybe….we can overcome. For our fathers. For our children. For the ghosts that sit on our shoulder and represent the better angels of our nature.

In a bit.

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Tomorrow….

November 8, 2016 Leave a comment

It’s election night. I voted on my way home from work. My daughter, who is a freshman away at college, voted for the very first time today. She was pretty excited about it. She now has a speaking role in our democracy. That’s a pretty big deal when you stop to think about it. Her role now is the same as mine and yours. She’s the future. And I trust her judgement.

polling-station-900x500The polls will be closing in about 30 minutes. Like most I’ll be following the results….taking deep breaths and maybe deeper gulps, hoping that our form of government is elastic enough to bounce back from the barrage of distortions, racism, misogyny, outright lies, and general tomfoolery it’s been subjected to this entire election cycle. I have to believe that it is. I won’t be the guy who thinks a narcissistic asshole with a bad comb-over can destroy a republic. I would, however, forgive you if you thought otherwise.

My polling place was filled up….but quiet. Everybody went about their business. No nonsense. Orderly. Polite. As I deposited my ballot into the machine the volunteer stationed at the door said “thank you”. I smiled at him and said…”right back at you”. I had to park maybe a hundred yards away because of the crowds. I walked on the fallen leaves on purpose, like a kid, kicking them up in the air….the unseasonably warm breeze providing a lift. One could almost forget, in the midst of such serenity, that our nation is teetering on a moral precipice.

I’ll admit that I’m not much of a hater. In times such as these this puts me at a social disadvantage at least. While others are railing about killer immigrants and welfare cheats and kneeling uppity NFL Quarterbacks, I have little to add to the conversation. The only people I don’t like are the ones who treat me shitty…and I take these people as they come at me, one at a time. I do not judge a group or a race as a whole because that would make me a pea-wit. That’s not the way I was raised. And it’s not the way I raise my own children.

I’m not much of a cynic either, because only those who don’t have the balls to strive valiantly into the arena have time for something as vapid and cheap as cynicism. The only people who get rocks thrown at them are the ones who stick their heads above the parapet….which is easy to forget if all you’ve been worrying about is finding the stones with the jagged edges that can do the most damage….and your plan is to toss them from the cowardly safety-net of the mob.

Sometimes the hardest part of my day is listening to the hatred spewed by others and trying not to get lock-jaw.

Where does it come from?

Hate springs from fear. And too often fear is driven by ignorance. And increasingly as a nation the more ignorant we are, the more sure of our own ground we become . It doesn’t matter that more people die falling out of bed every year than die from Islamic terrorism, or that immigrants aren’t taking your jobs away or that nobody is coming for your fucking guns. It doesn’t matter that election fraud is virtually non-existent. The truth has become pesky, like flies at a barbecue. The truth has become a distraction. It gets in the way of the agenda we’ve become slaves to. It’s “us versus them” for a reason. If you can’t blame somebody all you got left is what staring back at you in that mirror. Americans are good at lots of things, but self-reflecting ain’t one of them.

And so it goes. Tonight puts the period at the end of very long sentence. Which way will we go?

I’ll wake up tomorrow and my goals will remain the same. I’ll continue to strive to be a good man. A good friend. A good father. A good neighbor. A good musician. A good songwriter. If somebody falls I’ll help ’em up and if I fall and somebody offers me a hand I’ll take it and say thank you. In short, I’ll do whatever possible to not be a dick. The golden rule, simplified.

I hope to continue to be bad at hating.

I hope my new President strives for the same things. It’s no longer just about America. It’s about the inherent decency, and/or indecency, of Americans. You can’t lead from behind, and I fear we’re in danger of setting the clocks back 50 years.

Think I’m overstatin’?

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

It will all be over soon. I promise.

November 4, 2016 Leave a comment

It will all be over soon. I promise.

Hold your nose. Pull your lever. Go home and shower. Then go out and, to quote that self professed erotic politician Jim Morrison, get your kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames.

This means you have to hurry, obviously.

We’re in agreement on one thing at least. We can’t take much more of this nonsense.

72860It’s Hillary’s hubris, her randy hubby, and her bad pant suits versus Trump’s whatever you want to call it. Intellectual vacancy? Irredeemable dumbness? Untreated aspergers? This is America, 2016. The rest of the world watches in fascinated horror, knowing that the person sitting in the oval office can still ruin their day faster than just about anybody else in the cosmos. And I’m not just talking about the potential for bomb dropping and wall-building. A stupid comment in the White House briefing room can send financial markets reeling. Hillary is supposedly out there using a hotmail account to conduct foreign policy and Trump is grabbing pussy’s by the score. What could possibly go wrong?

(And before you start hurling partisan invective my way bubba, know that I voted for Bernie Sanders. So none of this is my fault. You wanted change? You wanted to send shudders through the halls of power? A wild-haired liberal democratic socialist would have burned that place DOWN. But no……so….not it.)

Bernie was the Democrat in this race. Hillary is the Republican. And Trump is the….well…whatever it is he is. Fascist? WWF heel? “Puck” from MTVs “The Real World”?

Last night I sat in front of the TV as 4 political ads ran back to back the back to back. The first one attacked millionaire Katie McGinty for being an elitist with her heel on the poor middle class. The next one attacked her millionaire opponent Pat Toomey for being an elitist with his heel on the poor middle class. Both ads featured diabolically outraged middle class white people/actors explaining how a vote for the other would bring on a sort of cultural Armageddon. And I swear the narrator was the same for both ads. Before I could take all of this in, an anti-Trump ad blared, using his own words against him (most were bleeped out….he’s not exactly a majestic orator…). Then some anti-Hillary fare…something about her creating ISIS in her basement because she was pissed at Monica Lewinsky. Or something like that, I wasn’t really paying attention by that point.

Mindlessly, I pulled Facebook up on my phone and was greeted by some of the dumbest political commentary that’s ever been typed with two thumbs. The entire ghastly cycle just repeats itself over and over. I feel like Indiana Jones in that hole with all those snakes….watching as his torch flame gets lower and lower.

I haven’t unfriended anybody on Facebook over politics, so yay me, right? The fact that most of my Facebook “friends” aren’t friends at all has something to do with it, but not all. I think Trump is an ignorant, dangerous, sexist boor. In America I’m allowed to think this. At least for now. A lot of people in my feed think Hillary is a wily murderess with stacks of dead bodies in her basement. They are allowed to think this. At least for now. Embrace such freedoms. Because….well…..you know.

Life will go on. Somebody will be declared the winner. Pundits have asked Trump if he will “accept” the outcome if he loses, which might be the stupidest question in an age of stupid questions. Last I checked he doesn’t really have a choice. Ask Al Gore. Or the ghost of Anton Scalia. One thing America despises is a loser…sore or not. Ask Mike Dukakis. Or John Edwards.Or Mitt Romney.

Trump could be our next President (If he does win he should give Comey use of the Trump Plaza penthouse suite for the duration of his term. That would be 2020 or impeachment, whichever comes first. But I digress). Never underestimate the power of hate….both the kind he spews and the type that Hillary generates. At this point, it’s a push.

If Hillary wins she can look forward to obstructionist tactics that will make the current congress look like Obama’s beer buddies. And I don’t even want to think about how Bill is gonna spend his days irritating just about everybody.

In other words, and for vastly different reasons, we’re fucked either way. I no longer care.

I have to trust that our form of democracy is flexible enough to survive this type of paranoia fueled garbage. Once he can no longer pull off that wretched orange comb-over, Trump will crawl back into his personal tower…maybe he’ll show up on “Dancing With the Stars” in a few years. The Clintons will become extinct. Chelsea has way too much sense to get involved with politics…..so in 4 years we’ll all have a new demagogue to treat with. American is nothing if not wildly inventive when it comes to providing lip service to the unwashed masses.

With the bar so low…..we’re gonna have to dig to get under it pretty soon.

So just hold on a few more days. When the polls close I’ll meet you in the bar. And we can buy each other drinks.

And when, in four or eight or twelve years, when Michelle Obama runs for President, we’ll all look back on this campaign as being positively civil.

Hatred, squared.

Think about it.

Then do something about it.

Before the whole shithouse goes up in flames.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Nobody living can ever make me turn back…

October 14, 2016 Leave a comment

Bob Dylan was just given the Nobel Prize for literature. I’m not certain on the criteria of it all…how a songwriter wins an award seemingly reserved for poets and dramatists and novelists….but what the hell. Dylan’s footprint is the size of continents….and words are words, whether they appear on pages….in scripts, or are shouted out from a million beer-soaked microphones over the last 50 years. Dylan works the language like a painter works a canvas…and to the pissy high-brow novelists and their recent snarky tweets….all I have to say is go fucking write something as good as “Every Grain of Sand” and maybe you’ll win an award someday too. It ain’t his fault your 500 page novel isn’t as cinematic as “Tangled Up In Blue.”

dylannewportThis day and age I look for good news like this. It means somebody has balls….even if it may just be a roomful well-read old Swedes swilling martinis. But I’ll take it brother. I’ll take it. I live in a land of stupid……a place where the only respite from blowhardism is earbuds jammed into the side of my head and the volume set to 11. Northeast PA has increasingly become the place where brain cells go to die….so I don’t just reach for proof of intelligent life, I scratch and claw at it like a dying man trying not to tumble off one of our endless mountains.

Bob Dylan. Recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature. That is badass.

Dylan single-handedly took “I want to hold your hand” and changed it to “how does it feeeeeeel!”. He made it ok to jam the entire world into a 3 minute pop song. Every single songwriter who came along after Dylan owes him thanks….and most of the ones who were here before him subsequently developed that glazed look…..like ducks hit over the head. Early retirement beckoned…thankfully.

When the prize was announced Dylan was preparing for yet another show in yet another town in yet another theater on yet another tour….and true to form he said nothing. No press conference. No social media post. No official statement. He just pulled his hat down over his eyes, played his show, got on his bus, and headed for his next one. He’ll talk it when he receives it….unless he’d just rather they mail it to him. That would be rock and roll. But I suspect his love of words will get the better of him, and he’ll wish to somehow address the controversy of the selection in his own, unique, byzantine way. Because, it’s easy to forget, it’s not his prolonged silences that intrigue us as much as what builds up in his head between them. To put it another way…the world listens when he talks precisely because he’s not popping off every 6 minutes about what everybody else is popping off about.

Bob Dylan does not do mundane.

I’m hearing the same silly “can lyrics be poetry?” argument. To which I always reply, “why would they want to be? I fucking hate poetry.”

Really, does it matter? If the goal is to move the listener, then Woody Guthrie is our Keats.

Nobody living / can ever stop me / as I go walking / that freedom highway
Nobody living / can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me….

You got anything better than that? I’ll wait while you peruse your Shakespeare.

There would not be a Dylan without Woody….so work it out for yourselves.

Bob Dylan changed the world. He altered the landscape. He changed the conversation. He crashed a party he wasn’t invited to. He taught us our own songs before he started creating his own. And when his own got so wild they needed electricity to be harnessed, alone with his polka-dot shirt and his sunglasses he created rock and roll 2.0…where nothing was off the table and you no longer needed forks and knives to cut something. That wild, mercury sound was its own scythe….and finally his brilliant wordplay met its match……like Ali being defined by Frazier.

That sounds pretentious as shit I know. But, hell….NOBEL PRIZE yo! Maybe I am reading a little too much into “Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar”, but I ain’t gonna apologize. Because it’s only rock and roll. And I like it. It’s poetry too. It’s novelistic (even if that’s not a real word). It’s drama.

Words. Read them Sing them. Chant them. Memorize them. Scream them. Do they inspire? Do they demand reckoning but don’t insist on blood? Then they are literature.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

What’s clear to me is that to a rich man, all poor people look the same….

October 6, 2016 Leave a comment

When did we get so scared?

And more importantly, are we even afraid of the right things?

fearBecause fear breeds ignorance as much as ignorance breeds fear. It can scramble brains so much that synapses stop firing….and what you’re left with is two half drunk partisan dimwits, both unburdened by pesky facts, trading insults on somebody else’s Facebook post. The very definition of depressing.

What’s clear to me is that to a rich man, all poor people look the same.

That’s clear to me even though I’m not always, or even often, the smartest person in the room. I’m Lake Woebegone average, but I can see, I can read, and I can listen. Ain’t that all it takes?

May I wander a bit? Because what I’m getting at requires verbal wandering.

I’m a descendant of 1840s famine Irish. I’ve lost track of how many “great’s” come before the “grandfather”…but there is a direct, traceable lineage back…..from counties Mayo and Sligo. The Flannery’s and the Loftus’s were starving, so they had to get out. To stay meant eternal rest.

It gets a bit murky here…..some arriving in New York harbor, and others possibly slipping over the border from Canada in a slightly less legal fashion. Freedom from want is way more powerful than any wall. Dig under. Climb over. Or blow a hole through. Whatever works. As Springsteen sang, “God, hunger is a powerful thing.”

They were met not with open arms, but with open hostility. The normal kind. The kind those that look different and act different and speak different are often met with. “No dogs nor Irish need apply”. Of course the fact that those doing the judging were themselves immigrants was ironic, but as a nation we don’t often do irony well.

We made our way to anthracite country, because as it turned out that there were some jobs that the Irish were welcome to. We might die from black lung or a cave-in or self inflicted liver disease trying to forget the first two, but we weren’t gonna starve to death. Assimilation would come not from knocking on doors, but from kicking them down. So be it. It did come, and our story is not much different from other ethnic groups. Only the places and names change…but the narrative remains as straight as Route 66.

So now we were “Americans” somehow….maybe helped along by blood spilled on both sides of Civil War battlefields. Dying has always been great ethnic PR, unless you happen to Indian of course.

And now, just like the rest, we went from being judged to being judges.We might be the bottom of the totem poll….but look at this sorry lot crossing over. They seem willing to cut the totem poll down!

And so it went. And so it goes. America is a strange place. The rest of the world finds it…crawls all over the place killing the original population, develops amnesia, and somehow thinks they sprouted here whole….like a European potato plant.

We learn our lessons. Then we forget our lessons. Then we fail our lessons. Then we teach our children.

And we go from laughing nervously about George Wallace to possibly electing Donald Trump president.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

As long as there is somebody to blame, then it can’t be our fault. That’s the logic of a 4th grader, coincidentally the language level of a Trump stump speech.

It sucks to be poor anywhere. It especially sucks to be poor in America, a place that claims to value work but actually values wealth. Two distinct things those. It’s also a place that likes its rich people to be white. Actually, it likes its poor people to be white too….because they are the only ones who will still vote for the rich white ones.

To be black or brown is to be an outsider. To be poor and black or brown is to be invisible…until they need your votes, or you start getting all uppity and demanding and saying your lives matter. All Lives are supposed to matter of course, but the cops only seem to be shooting the unarmed black ones….so…what’s a poor boy to do? Words matter too….or at least they used to until Trump claimed to have “the best ones”….and half the nation seemingly agreed with him.

Fear is that moment you snap the light on….and things you can’t quite make out scurry across the floor out of sight. It’s what your mind conjures up….that’s where the maximum badness resides. Reality has become what charlatans tell you it is….so if they say our nation is under siege by random people dressing as clowns, then we are. And if they tell you that all these unarmed black men getting shot by cops were really threatening thugs with hidden guns buried in their waistbands, then so goes the world. Fight the power and all that, but don’t make a big fucking deal out of it and block traffic.

I have no more right to judge an inner city black male being harassed by cops than I do a Syrian refugee fleeing relentless terror, Because I am not a black male, nor am I a Syrian refugee. Are you?

What I am is part of a clan that came to this country for the same reasons….because we were promised better days….a place where a man could hold his own in a fair fight. A place where when you turned on the light, the floor didn’t move.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

You’re gonna feel like shit in the morning….

September 26, 2016 1 comment

What if we’re really not better than this?

I hear variations of that phrase all the time. As a nation we “deserve better”. Or we “deserve” Presidential candidates who act….well…..Presidential. Our kids “deserve better” than the reality show we’ve served up to them like so many TV dinners. We feel entitled to what a brain provides, even if we can shine a flashlight through our ears and light the opposite wall.. What gives?

We’re appalled. Shocked. Stunned. Or maybe just immune and bored. We see wrongs being done and don’t right them. We preach but don’t act. We kneel and pray, making sure, as long as we’re down there, to place our knees on somebody’s neck, all the better to curry favor with Jesus or Allah or Mike Pence or whoever the current deity is. Because it ain’t my fault. It must be somebody else’s. Like Syrian refugees or back-up quarterbacks or black men waiting with apparent gun-shaped books to pick up their sons at the bus-stop….or something equally 21st century. (amazing how the boogeyman keeps changing isn’t it?). Maybe we’re just lazy. Or astoundingly stupid.

Making the social media rounds today is a picture of a vendor at the Bloomsburg fair selling Nazi flags and Trump banners side by side….along with bumper stickers saying things like “Aids Cures Fags”. As chilling as the swastika itself is, its proximity to the Trump banner seems a bit…well…. I’ll leave the rest of you to work that out. Things that make you go “hmmm” and all that. (What I’d like to know is what kind of business the stand was doing, but nobody’s talking about that). It’s been pointed out that the stand did include Hillary banners as well……ones saying “Hillary For Prison”. So it’s not like the dude is a rabid partisan or anything.

Turns out the Fair had no idea the vendor was selling such reprehensible items….nor were they aware that the man who owned the stand is a convicted sex offender. So far that’s a batting average of .000. At least there’s nowhere to go but up from there.

The Fair, to its credit, has since booted the vendor, but not before Facebook removed many links to the story and photo that forced Bloomsburg’s hand, saying it was against user policy. So there’s that. Whatever would we do without Zuckerberg and his moral compass?

We deserve better, right?

Tonight is the Hillary/Trump debate….a spectacle that promises to out-circus the circus. It should prove a major rating winner to a nation still reeling from Brad and Angelina’s break-up. It promises to be great fun, especially to those playing the “pound a beer every time Trump lies” game, and to professional media pundits, who have set the bar so low that, unless Trump turns into a werewolf and starts drinking Lester Holt’s blood screaming “I told you it was rigged! Rigged I say!…..”, will declare the whole thing a tie and remind everybody what an unlikeable bitch that woman really is. I have no plans to watch, but I have no plans to rubberneck on the highway when I see a ghastly accident either. So who knows? Plus, who gives a shit about the Falcons and the Saints?

We deserve better, right?

My daughter is away at college and she asked me this morning, when she saw the Fair story, “why Dad? Why are people like this?”

What should I tell her? Hell….don’t blame me. I think Bernie is too far to the right, so what do I know? To me….candidates like Trump and Hillary are like monstrous Ralph Steadman caricatures from a Hunter Thompson novel. I think you’re ALL crazy.

That being said, I’ve been predicting Trump’s demise for well over a year now, sure that he had decapitated himself for calling John McCain a dumb pussy for being captured and tortured to within an inch of his life during the Viet Nam war….this was July 2015. Surely a Republican draft dodger could never get away with this! Ha! Not only did he get away with it, his numbers went up. It was this moment probably more than (many many) others that led me to being unable to answer questions like “why are people like this?” from my daughter….who radiates goodness and fairness and is desperately trying to not grow cynical before she’s legally able to order a beer. Because she knows that’s my job.

She’s 18 now, so it will be her first time in a voting booth. I don’t want her thinking that this type of visceral hate and rhetorical dumbing-down is the norm, but she’s smart enough to know that, sadly, it seems to be not only normal, but working gangbusters. Some things I can protect her from. Idiocy is not one of them.

We deserve better though, right?

Why? Are we somehow immune to history?

Sure hate is toxic, but it also sells. Flags from a county fair vendor and newspapers from a newsstand…..it’s all dollars and lack of sense. Who wants to hear sober policy wonking when you could be listening to the sound of raping Mexicans and the allahu akbar-ing of rabid US-hating Syrian refugees? Nuke ‘em all….just like Putin would. A serious leader and man’s man. Not like our….you know…not so white guy who was born Allah-knows-where and spawned that pot-head affirmative-actioned-to-within-an-inch-of-her-life Harvard kid.

So no, we don’t deserve better. A nation elects the leaders it asks for. So we deserve either Hillary or Trump…..and the pain either will cause will be self-administered. Don’t complain about the welts on your back if you’re into flagellation. I think Abraham Lincoln said that. Or Bob Dylan.

The fact that I’d vote for a rabid half-starved dingo living underneath a Dickson City meth-lab before I’d pull a Trump lever doesn’t mean I’m not partially responsible for his ascension. We’re all to blame. We allowed our democracy to come to this….and tonight we’ll witness the shit-show in all its unencumbered, tiny-fingered glory. Fact checking is not only discouraged, but actually against the rules! And no I didn’t make that up. Drink up boys and girls. 

You’re gonna feel like shit in the morning. And you deserve it.

In a bit…..

–tf

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