You’ve probably washed dishes before, but never, like, professionally washed dishes, to the level of cleanliness I’m dealing with. I’m talking spotless, no grit, mirror-shine clean. The kind of clean you’d think just came off the damn production line; the kind of clean that somehow restores your faith in the power of people to maintain some respectable level of control over their environment, that reminds you why you go to restaurants in the first place. The kind of clean that lets you slip into a hotel bed and not fitfully struggle with the memory of the hundreds or thousands of prior occupants who fornicated and maybe even defecated between those layers of high thread-count sheets.

I’ve been working at this particular washing station now for three weeks, an endless production line of plate-scraping and dish-scrubbing. The first few days when I got into this dish gig a few months back were nauseating, the half-finished, seemingly-regurgitated remains of braised endives moistly piled atop a layer of grease-stained napkins greeting me with each new shipment of dirty dishes was unbearable, unfathomable.

I couldn’t help myself those early days; I puked and quit my way out of the first three hovels that would hire me. I had this odd notion that if I took a dishwashing job at the fanciest hotels and restaurants possible, the plates would be cleaner, more thoroughly-licked clean. It’s boggling, the degree to which I miscalculated. By this point in my story, I imagine the rich to be the most forensically repugnant group of people imaginable. It’s almost as if they chew their food for the flavor, and then, once satiated, expel the masticated mass back onto their plates. Where they get their sustenance between heavy slugs of high-priced cocktails I’ll never know. There seems to be not a single reasonably-sized soul among them; from my perch at the far rear of the kitchen, viewing through a sliver of a window buried five counters deep, I can view either worrisomely obese monstrosities or anorexic-thin public service announcements on the dangers of bulimia.

Am I being too negative? Well, fuck, I’m sorry. But I scrub filthy plates clean for a living, so forgive me for wallowing in pessimism.

It’s no one’s fault but my own, I’ll allow. I don’t even know what type of career I presume myself to be aiming for, by this point. My resume consists entirely of a once-yearly volunteer position at the local soup kitchen which was the result of a long-running relationship with a girl who finally came to her senses regarding our long-term prospects and left me this past holiday for a reassuringly-reasonable guy named Douglas who works for a bank and, god bless him, tucks his tshirts into his jeans on the weekends. Hard to blame her. I wasn’t even particularly productive at those soup kitchens.

So I’m otherwise hopeless, too unimpressed with myself to put together a typical resume—for it would be blank—and otherwise incapable of surmising reasons why any reasonable and forthright businessperson would want to hire me in the first place. It became a reasonable strategy to show up, ask to talk to the manager, flash my government health card to show I was actually a citizen, and ask for a job someplace where no one needed to see my face. Initially the strategy was to aim for room service, but it turns out that requires some modicum of work experience and job skills and since my only skill seems to be…. Well… well I guess I’m still searching for that. Since my only job skill is a buried treasure waiting to be found, it made sense to take the easiest job I could, the job no one else wanted, the job that has long stood as the baseline expectation of any job-hunter in the modern world. I became a dishwasher.

What’s been so surprising is that being a dishwashing is a hard fucking job to pull off. You can’t slack for a moment, because if you do there’s some other joker, someone exactly like you, who’s literally banging at the front door asking for work. My initial strategy of picking high-end restaurants in the aim of scraping tidier plates backfired fulsomely, as the silver-rimmed saucers of the rich and famous have revealed themselves to be an ocean of grotesquerie, and the job standards are almost exasperatingly high. I seriously started keeping track of my numbers about three weeks back and, on a good day, with nominally dirty plates at hand, I’m scrubbing through 17 full tables settings every hour. Seventeen! I’m talking aperitif glass, appetizer fork, appetizer plate, bread bowl, wine glass, scotch glass, main course plate, butter knife, steak knife, dessert plate, dessert spoon, the works. God forbid some folks come in for the tasting menu, and I’m running upwards of three dozen washable items per seating.

The manager—a stern but charming and warm French Canadian with no less than three hyphens busying-up his first, middle and last names—refuses to purchase an industrial washer. He claims it betrays the raison d’etre of the whole establishment. When he first unveiled this concept to me at the end of my first shift I almost screamed at him, but today, as I pound through near two-dozen table settings in a 70 minute period, I almost understand what he means. As a customer, you don’t want to think that some cold-steel piece of hollow engineering is involved in the preparation of your food. No, you want to know, for a surety, that human hands were involved every single step of the way. You want to know that a middle-aged woman in some foreign country whose location on the map is a vagary to you was somehow enlisted in the thread-by-thread creation of the table cloth. That underpaid-yet-hardworking artisans of the Indian subcontinent honed their craft for decades before they came to create this elegant piece of burnished silverware. Yes, you want to know that somewhere, round the back, a poor and hapless young man is scrubbing away at the dishes, holding them up to the light, running a finger across the detailed finishing of the edges, ensuring not a single fleck of grit or grease is sullying their gleaming surface.

What these wealthy dinners guests want to know, deep down, is that someone lived worse than them, and slaved in their little moments to serve them in some small and meaningless way, and that their trivial labours could be glossed over, consumed, and never thought of again, and that somewhere a job could be made, and a wage could be earned, and in so earning, the cycle could continue, so that until the end of all reasonable time, there’d be a job at the back of every kitchen, and in every factory, a job that no wealthy person would ever seem to want, but which so many people poor enough would always seem to need.

Posted in Aaron, Easily Digested, Fiction | Leave a comment

Preserving the sanctity of the homerun trot

Nearly every moment in sport comes down to strategy, a decision, the pressure to make the right one, and with it the associated fear of failure. Pinch at the blueline to keep the puck in or hang back? Go for the green and try to carry the water or lay up and take it in two? Wait for your pitch… and risk never seeing it.

But when a batter does connect with the baseball and puts it over the fence, the seconds that follow a homerun are one of the few instances in sports when an athlete is allowed to completely exhale, to at once contemplate and appreciate their recent accomplishment. They round the bases at a pace of their choosing–be it a leisurely trot or a more conscientious jog–taking a pat on the back from a base coach and receiving applause from an adoring crowd, before being embraced at homeplate with a hug or high-five, which initiates an increasingly elaborate series of handshakes and custom celebrations in the dugout.

Take this 2011 bomb from Vladimir Guerrero:

This is how it’s supposed to go. Guerrero, one of the best bad-ball hitters ever, knows it’s out from the crack of the bat and there’s immediate relief on his face. He then rounds the bases stoically (as is the baseball tradition). His progress is unimpeded. He basks in the moment and then briefly celebrates with teammates before preparing for his next at-bat.

But over the course of baseball history, when the stakes are raised and an athlete achieves the greatest possible outcome from a showdown with a pitcher in an important moment of the game or season (or at a milestone in their career), that contented jog from base to base is taken away. The custom breaks down and the task of touching all four bases becomes a challenge, as adulation from the paying spectators boils over into something else.

In 1974, Hank Aaron was about to break the greatest record in baseball, having tied Yankee legend Babe Ruth’s all-time home run mark of 714. As it became obvious that Aaron would pass Ruth, he began to receive racist hate mail and a local Atlanta newspaper even commissioned an obituary of Aaron’s to be written, fearing the Braves outfielder might be murdered before hitting the milestone homerun.

And then on April 4, he did it.

Aaron’s solo trip around the bases is interrupted, as two students take to the field and congratulate him after he touches second. He reaches home and is mobbed by his teammates and other random fans, before his family greets him. The attention, and the subsequent eruption of emotion, is palpable and warranted. As broadcasting legend Vin Scully put it in his call that evening: “What a marvelous moment for baseball; what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia; what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron. …And for the first time in a long time, that poker face in Aaron shows the tremendous strain and relief of what it must have been like to live with for the past several months.”

In this case, a crowd (which broke attendance records that night) came to the ballpark hoping for this event. When it happened, the crowd acted accordingly and fittingly.

(This made me think about Guerrero’s homerun–the first example. On first blush, it seems trivial–a solo-blast in the sixth inning of an 8-2 ballgame. But, in hindsight, it was an historic event. It would be the last homerun Guerrero, a surefire Hall of Famer, ever hit. Would his homerun trot have been at all interrupted if fans knew that at the time?)

What happens when the balance of a season comes down to the dramatic battle between pitcher and batter, with the batter winning?

Game 6 of the 1975 World Series was a back-and-forth affair. In the bottom of the 12th inning, Carlton Fisk stepped to the plate and put the second pitch over the Green Monster, hitting the foul pole.

A jubilant Fisk jumps with joy on his way to first to celebrate the walk-off homerun, which forced a seventh game. Fans storm the field and by the time Fisk reaches third, he is forced to put his shoulder down to complete his path home. You can’t blame Red Sox fans for their excitement. If their team had lost the game, the series would have been over and with it the chance to end their then-57-year World Series drought. (In typical pre-2004 Red Sox fashion, Game 6–often referred to as the greatest game ever played–would only prolong the heartbreak, as the Sox would lose in Game 7.)

I write this post after falling down a Youtube rabbit-hole yesterday, that included a video of the 20 biggest homeruns ever and a brief history of fans storming the field. The inspiration for this came after I saw the aftermath of the Chris Chambliss homerun in 1976 again. The walk-off shot sent the Yankees to the World Series. It was pure bedlam.

Chambliss gets to enjoy his series-winning hit for about eight seconds before his trip around the bases devolves into a battle for survival. He’s knocked down, he struggles to keep possession of his helmet and then he takes it off uses it as a shield to mow through fans and get off the field. I’m not sure if he even touches homeplate. I can’t blame him. Chambliss would tell reporters later that he feared for his life.

You’ll notice most of these occurrences are relics of the past. As Stefan Fatsis, from Slate, notes: “In the 1990s, baseball stadiums transitioned from social cauldron to corporate venue. The field also transforms into a place that’s sensibly, if less dramatically, reserved for players, officials and media only… The threat of the fan invasion is fully neutralized.”

That’s a good thing. Even though fan interactions make for unpredictable TV, we should preserve the sanctity of the homerun trot, one of life’s purest rewards for a job well done.


Posted in Easily Digested, Found on the Internets, Herb | Leave a comment

Donate to Science

The shutter snaps its gratifying little clicks and within uncountable milliseconds several photos are taken, each essentially capturing the same thimble-head shot of a thumb, the white of the purpling fingernail filled with a deep mottling of dirt and decay. She re-frames the shot, accounting for the overhanging shadows of the maple tree’s broad leaves, adjusting focal length, f-stop, shutter speed, tilt, focus. There’s a way to capture this fingernail at its most objective. She’s searching for death’s most truthful portrait.

The smell is rancid beyond measure. Standing next to her is a lugubrious, olfactory nightmare of a man with an imperturbable smile by the name of Edward Cloth, who, as she noted in her tablet, is adamant the he be called “Mr. Cloth with no one but my mother calling me Edward.” Shuffling too and fro with an almost playful impatience, he nudges her gently on the shoulder. “Hey, Raya, you, uhhhh…”, he stares down at the expansive corpse splayed across the grass in front of them, considering how best to phrase his comment, “you really seem focused on that thumbnail.” Is it a question, a statement? He’s leaving it for her to decide, always leaving the ball in his conversational partner’s court, an outward show of bone-bred weakness.

“It’s Riya. And I know, I know,” impatiently, “but this is part of my assignment. I need to get this right.” Animosity towards Cloth is held firmly in check; her frustration is, as always, directed inwards.

Letting the mild simmer in her voice sail right past, he plods on, “Riya, right. Sorry. It’s just that, now that I stop and consider, I’ve seen, what, maybe 10, 11 students all in here the past week, all glued to this same corpse for their assignments, too.” His effervescent smile and opalescent dark eyes dart distractedly from the body arrayed flat on the ground to the face of Riya still-crouched beside it. “Now I get it, I get it. Late stage microbial tissue erosion, distended stomach and odd anterior skull contusions make for a fine example. He’s looking sooner to pop than usual, if you’re lucky to be here and see it,” he relishes. “Plenty of material to work with.”

Peering upwards, brushing gently-sweated bangs across her face, not giving him an inch of readable expression, she goads him on, “Do you have an opinion on my technique, Mr. Cloth?”

Flustered, he demurs. “Now hey, no need to get upset. I’m just the maintenance guy here. Just that, far as I see it, there ain’t many more ways a gal can record a dead man’s fingernail,” pulling out that last vowel a bit, stressing the singular.

She rises to meet him, thankful his sloppy posture is keeping him securely at eye level. Her inner monologue is wailing out in about seven different directions, keenly aware that a) she’s wasting a fucking dramatic amount of time trying to nail this filthy thumbnail and b) she’s an idiot for picking the same body that a literal dozen other students have already picked and c) what the hell does the maintenance guy know about these bodies in the first place and then but d) probably a lot since he deals with these bodies all the time and if he doesn’t think the thumbnail is somehow relevant to any potential story vis a vis the John Doe’s death then perhaps she’s grabbing at straws in trying to find something interesting in it. Maybe, as always, she’s just trying too goddamn hard.

She pulls her usual mental routine, shutting out the weakness of doubt, confidently batting away the nagging uncertainty in her head.

“Mr. Cloth. Edward. I’m trying to do this properly. No, not properly. I’m trying to do this exquisitely.” She’s ticked off and tired from being out way too late with that guy last night and sweat is pooling in uncomfortable places and poor Mr. Cloth is going to have to just stand there and take it, because the John Doe won’t have much to say. “My professors have seen dirty thumbs before, but this man’s thumb seems crusted with a mixture of blood and dirt. Now, I realize this John Doe died in a car accident, I get it, I’m not dumb. I get it. But we’re supposed to check our certainties. There might be something other than dirt under his fingernail, and I want to make sure I capture it properly.”

With her eyeline momentarily drifting over his shoulder Riya notes a few other of her peers, students of varying age, all drifting slowly across the field with their own maintenance workers in tow, taking the grand tour of the decomposition field. Near the entrance there’s a bruised and frail elderly body, an old woman, who seems to have been delicately posed in the rear seat of the car, the fetal curl of her limbs visible through a painstakingly-cleaned window, the car otherwise a rusted wreck sitting on cinder blocks. Some distance along and nearer to the frankly bewilderingly large facilities building further eastward she can see another classmate, this student an older man by the name of Oram, crouched down on all fours attempting to capture a fulsome picture of the face of a young male body who had been left to decompose in direct sunlight. He and his subject make a mirrored-pair.

Considering Cloth to have been well shut up, she looks back down at her chosen body, her bloated John Doe, wedged gently in the shaded cover of a tree, clearly left out for some period of weeks—she’d guess at nearly 3—skin partially protected from the adverse effects of the month’s heavy rainfall.

“Everyone else skipped the thumb?” she ventures aloud.

“Everyone. No one else even noticed the dirt, they just wanted to capture the stomach.” Cloth points almost nervously, which is surprising considering his whole job involves posing and arranging these corpses in the field for study. He keeps eyeing the bulging surface. “Most of the other students seemed hell-bent on making sure they saw him before he popped.”

Roving eyes landing on the stomach, Riya lets out a contemptuous sigh. “I sincerely doubt they pop.”

“Yeah don’t ask me,” Cloth retorts, “I just work here.”

Seconds group themselves into minutes and fly past in their usual manner, Cloth occupied with his phone as Riya picks her way around the body, composing her images with care, running through memory sticks, certain to capture every conceivable detail of the corpse. Her assignment dictates the truth, in pictures. She cannot miss anything; she’s wallowing in the minutia. The sun gently dips.

At long last finishing her work Riya packs her camera in its fastidious little case, a multitude of clasps and clips each functioning to secure their own little packages, the lens in one compartment, the camera body in another, memory sticks slotted in their own tiny felt sleeves and snapped securely in place. “Alright Mr. Cloth, I think I have everything I need.”

Somehow, his smile hasn’t left him. “And not a moment too soon! Here, let me walk you out.” Double-checking to ensure nothing has been altered in the body’s general state, and noting an extra inch of stomach distention since its last check-up, both Riya and Cloth head towards the entrance. “I hope you found what you needed; you probably took ten times the pictures of any other student.”

Confident that, if nothing else, she has more than enough imagery to pull from, Riya can’t help but beam at herself, impressed beyond measure with her performance. “I think I’ll be just fine.”

Behind them, but suddenly, with a ripping, rending, moisturized flop, John Doe’s voluminous digestive gases reach their peak pressurization, forcing his decaying stomach skin, softened by weeks of springtime rainfall, to give way, pluming the air above his body with a gaseous haze, maggots spilling forth to the grass around him, his bodily donation to science providing its final gift for educational inspection.

Posted in Aaron, Easily Digested, Fiction | Leave a comment

The Diner

Queen Star

Could this possibly have been the Western Dream? A wife and husband slaving over a stove day and night, and for once the literary usage of “enslavement” feels apt; they are always there, glued inexorably to that grill top, adhered to the small business idea that presented itself when they first came here, when, in the 90s?

The son plays the waiter but does so poorly, in shabbily over-worn clothes. His scarcely-concealed anger never seems directed at any one customer, precisely, but rather hangs permanently in his demeanor, where it seems it will always remain. He sees the rope that knots his parents to this building, suspects likewise that life has few pleasant surprises in store for him.

He clatters an order of coffee roughly to the table of yet-another hung-over young urban professional patron, their hair styled to look accidental, yet requiring many minutes of futzing around before the bathroom mirror each morning. As the coffee glops and splashes around the rattling mug, the young waiter’s eyes wince in pained pantomime, the scalding muddy fluid slopping atop the patrons pant leg.

Father-hen, meanwhile, is over at the grill watching the whole thing happen, arching his back in despair at yet-another display of his son’s lack of care, passion, and bodily coordination. Silently he ponders, “Does this kid truly not understand our sacrifice?” Aloud he proclaims, “Aiya!”


You sit politely in your seat wiping the mess of coffee from your table, shirt, pant leg, not wanting to make a big deal of it. You could’ve easily made this food at home, so why did you come here?

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Wasting my time, and maybe yours.

On November 1st I sat down at my computer and attempted to just write until the words came to their natural conclusion. What follows is the result:

First day of the month; first stab at a free write. This is a total coincidence, this “first try on the first day” thing, though it’s the kind of anecdotal coincidence that’s sure to have some nimrod droop their head knowingly askance as they nod in some smug affectation of understanding, as if to imply that FATE BROUGHT ME HERE. I wouldn’t call it fate. Though, I wouldn’t necessarily call it deterministic; I’m fighting against a wall of apathy, of laziness, of a desire to just turn away and do something else.

This shouldn’t be so hard to do. Just sit, write, lay it out, let the words go go go and take you onwards and onwards to the next thought or idea, be it dialog between two (or, heaven forbid, more) characters, or interminable dissections of competing belief structures. Invariably I’ll get inward looking – The Age of the Personal Essay and all that – and it all becomes so immediately trite, so painfully unnecessary. I’m not yet convinced these words hold much value to you, dear reader, even as I am convinced that it’s probably good for me. What’s good for me doesn’t, it seems, have to be good for you.

But to hell with it. If I continue to question the worth of this exercise any longer, I’ll abandon the whole enterprise (and my own free-wheeling thought structure along with it).

Given the amount of dialog I’m seeing sludge forth from the internet I become increasingly aware of how censorship is not the dreadful future-state we all should have been afraid of. I’ll not be the first to say it, but context is everything, and I find myself increasingly astray of context every time I step outside. Every minor subcommunity is so relentlessly self-reinforcing that one could reasonably fall down a billion rabbit holes and be wholly convinced that their particular area of interest was meaningfully worthy of everyone’s time. No one is censoring anyone from saying anything; if anything, the reverse is true.

At a cursory glance, I’d imagine you could find thriving communities devoted to the evolution in packaging of Crayola-brand crayons, Belkin smartphone case fetishists, devotees of Linux so fierce they’d make an Apple fan blush, lifelong fans of certain central-african made styles of toenail clippers, writers so introspective they create entire webpages filled with their own writings which are then completely locked off from the public, conspiracy theorists who think with all heartfelt sincerity that the civilized world is a puppet-show which is soon to come crashing down in a fiery blaze of righteous brimstone.

Any belief you want is supported, validated, honed, attributable to years of writing and fellowship and online camaraderie, and every voice suddenly becomes valid in accordance with the sacred and necessary dictums of net neutrality. Every page is equal, we’re all citizen journalists, no one should trust anyone, and suddenly we realize “fake news” has been proliferating ever since the first angry letter to the editor was ever sent into the local newspaper.

We’re juggling countless arguments with ravenous bands of aggressive strangers and we all think we’re smarter than each other and literally no one is able to provide us any guidance.

On a recent trip in the States I ended up tuning in to Fox News each night before bed, trying to get a taste of what the ‘other side’ was watching. To it’s credit, it was not holistically bullshit – there are some banal points of reporting for which no degree of political spin can be effectively applied – but there did exist an overbearing tone to the content that invariably validated the beliefs of a presumed right-leaning audience. We’re used to nighttime talk shows lambasting Fox News for their unsubtle reporting style, but more worrisome were the small details: the little facial ticks; the knowing nods to the camera; the glances between agreeing hosts as they silently commiserate over the “absurdity” of a guest who disagrees with them. Fox News was providing a context, and it was fulsome and ever-present. It said, “We’re seeing the same world you’re seeing.”

I’d love to trash it to the hilt, but I get the same vibe watching MSNBC, with the tilt merely skewed towards progressivism. This dovetails nicely with my beliefs, but it doesn’t mean I can’t see the context at play. When progressives criticize Fox News they rightly do so as a matter of principle, fighting against their manipulations, but honestly, that argument cuts both ways, and it leaves both sides tattered.

I find myself in search of middle ground, essentially unable to find it. I don’t know where to look for it, nor who can provide it. We’re searching for steady voices in the crowd – the way our parents used to talk about evening news anchors – but those traditional voices aren’t loud enough to overcome the wave of dialog that the internet has brought us. I read more on Twitter than I do from newspapers (shamefully), and lo and behold, Donald Trump leveraged that Twitter-first to speak loudest of anyone in the room.

It’s a broken system, then. We need leaders, and cannot find them. We need balanced context, but find it lacking.

Perhaps the case is this: That you choose to live around a lot of other people, or you choose to carve out your own little kingdom. You hang in your backyard, or you go to a park. You drive an SUV, or you take a streetcar. Either you integrate your daily routine with strangers, or you work to segregate yourself from others as much as possible. The only context you’ll ever feel most at home is nestled within one of those two groups of ideologies; living with strangers, or living apart from them. This is not a value judgment on either way of living, merely an observation on how countries and societies tend to speak and vote.

People can break free of these routines or ideologies, but it seems absurdly self-evident that the socio-cultural conditioning you achieve by living and working around strangers feeds into a direct and specific set of beliefs that run contradictory to people who live and work with fewer people around. I can watch Fox News all I want, but I can’t put myself in the shoes of one of their lifelong followers, nor can they reasonably presume to step into mine.

That we have so many ways to talk at each other, while conversely so few ways to actually interact, is disheartening. The internet did such an immensely effective job of bringing our multitudinous sub-communities to the fore, and yet has done so little to allow them to talk to each other.


So, there. The first free write. Let me know what you think.

Posted in Aaron, Easily Digested | 1 Comment

Jester Lambasted for Mocking Diminutive Baron

King and Jester, early 15th century From the book Short History of the English People by J R Green, published London 1893.:

(Originally published in the New Amsterdam Times, 1637)

Today a jester from the court of King Lorne was lambasted and spat upon in the public square after her attempt at jesting was considered a gesture of contempt towards young Baron Trump. The courtly gentleman, ten years of age and billions of dollars in social standing greater than the quipster, was defended by a group of angry villagers armed with pitchforks and burning torches. The jester has lost the graces of King Lorne’s court as a result of the kerfuffle.

Not since a tramp uttered curses of “pussywillow” and “poppycock” during the Feast of Borborygmus has there been such uproar at an attempt at revelry from the common classes. Young Baron seemed unperturbed by the perceived slight and continued on in his daily routine of flogging vagrants who dare look directly at those above their standing and forcing tramps to dance by throwing nickels at their calloused feet.

The jest in question is said to be in such poor taste that some respectable publishers refuse to further its infamy by way of reprinting. But for the sake of journalistic inquiry, let us judge if the offending epithets are sufficient folly for the professional buffoon to have lost her place in the court and to have been pelted with turnips in the town square. Rapier warning: the following tomfoolery may alarm the recently poxed and others of weak constitution. Jester Rich was said to have remarked before the royal subjects that young Baron has the physiognomy of a charlatan who may one day guillotine his fellow pupils.

While the aristocrats and their servants are up in arms about the ill will brought upon the young nobleman from the royal Trump clan, others are not so moved by a small jest against the richest and most powerful diminutive lord in the land.

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the bubble i live in

i still remember going to sleep the night george w. bush was reelected and waking up the next morning in disbelief. no, couldn’t have happened. he’s a buffoon. every comedian i watched, every musician or rapper i listened to, every tv show i tuned into critiqued his lacking loquaciousness or his intellectual ambivalence in some blatant or subtle way. there was no possible way a majority of americans could entrust him with four more years in office. i wrote a friend an email that night confessing as much.

it’s with that same feeling of shock, surprise and dread that i went to sleep last night, with news that a con man–and narcissist, misogynist, racist, and punchline–donald trump will, barring some miracle, become president-elect of the most powerful country on the planet. i don’t get it. just like i didn’t get it 12 years ago. the hosts of every podcast i listen to were so confident, smug even, about a hillary win. no one on my twitter or facebook feeds held up a strong argument for the man, for his policies. the soundbites i did see of trumps or one of his sycophants–chris christie, rudy giuliani, newt gingrich–disgusted me. but he hung around, he had a base of support. i sought out theories for how trump had come so far. there were new yorker features, wnyc radio series that went searching for the trump supporter and made compelling arguments–about a disaffected white working class’s alienation from a professional elite (clintons et al) that mocked them and how this group was courted by a cynical republican party coalition of evangelical christians and business interests that will no doubt exploit it; how talk-radio’s lunatic conspiracy fringe (received by droves of americans who no longer trust mainstream media outlets) became the blueprint for trump’s ‘tell it like it is’ rants and his rise in popularity among those who are fed up with the establishment.
still, i never thought this possible. but i should have and, in hindsight, i think how i feel tonight has something to do with the comfortable bubble i live in on twitter, on facebook, in my social circle. a day didn’t go by in the last 18 months where i didn’t share some astonishment at work, at ball, at home, at the pub over some trump insult, or retweet a gaffe or anti-trump meme, or like a comment from a friend lampooning the orangecicle or the combover. i never took trump seriously, but then when he won the primary, i had to take him seriously, but i still didn’t really take him seriously. i don’t know how you can take him seriously, but seriously, he’s the president of the usa.
the mea culpas are already coming from some of the major us news networks, as they wonder aloud whether they should have given him so much airtime, broadcast his every word, gone along with his con the whole time. on the otherside, the alt-right stars like alex jones are claiming victory and their part in this upset. (it will be fascinating to see how quickly they turn on trump.)
if you look at america, it’s become a nation of two bubbles–with two separate versions of history and two separate visions for the future, chugging along on two tracks that only ever seem to meet up every four years (or two, i suppose, with the midterm elections.) i don’t know what the future holds for that country, so obviously fractured. i don’t know what this means for canada, which owes a lot of its security to the usa and hasn’t, in my lifetime, ever dealt with an aggressive southern neighbour. (what happens when president trump comes calling for our water when drought hammers california next summer?) what i do know is, i never saw this coming because i live in an echo chamber of like-minded opinions. i imagine i’m not alone–in fact, the collective sense of surprise that many on my twitter and facebook, and in my social circle feel, tells me that they were reading, retweeting and liking the same shit. that we can go along like that, for so long, and feel so shocked when something like this happens–it’s almost as scary as the results tonight.
i went to sleep in shock and woke up, still in disbelief. i will probably check twitter and facebook–and turn on the tv–a little less often for the next while.
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