President Trump’s Appointee for Secretary of Education, Corinne, tries to stay on point: “You are rude. You don’t say hi to anyone.You have a skank look on your face. You’re just not nice. It’s just weird and uncomfortable. I know how to get to people like (you). What does that say about your emotional intelligence, bitch?”“I’m nice until you cross me,” she admits. And for anyone who does that? “How do you make a voodoo doll for one person?”
This was my first political rally, complete with chants – No Hate, No Fear! Refugees are welcome here! – signs and speakers. New York politicians showed up in force: Senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, Mayor Bill De Blasio, Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Adriano Espaillat, along with a host of city council members. The only thing that Trump’s despotic methods have managed to achieve so far is galvanize the opposition against him; the past indifference – liking, tweeting and such – has evolved into activism, protests appearing everywhere in the country and around the world. What wicked thing has he in store next? Week two has only just begun.
But again and again there comes a time in history when the man dares to say that two and two make four is punished with death. The schoolteacher is well aware of this. And the question is not one of knowing what punishment or reward attends the making of this calculation. The question is that of knowing whether two and two do make four. The essential thing was to save the greatest possible number of persons from dying and being doomed to unending separation. And to do this there was only one resource: to fight the plague. There was nothing admirable about this attitude; it was merely logical.*
Surprisingly, Stephen Bannon – apparently the Goebbels-to-be in the Trump Administration – got one thing right in his recent anti-media rant: “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and listen for awhile.”
The only thing is that Bannon’s context is wrong. The media should have shut up and listened when Trump made his first speech and then stopped their obsessive coverage on the campaign trail. As reported in The New York Times, “Media commentators have accused CNN of giving preferential treatment to Mr. Trump to lift ratings. The network is on track this year to collect $1 billion in profit.” Yes, that ship has now sailed.
As terrible as Trump is – uber-racist-liar-son-of-satan and all – the bigger problem is this money problem of capitalism. There’s nothing else to it, no empathy and understanding, nothing but making money and then more of it, which is why Trump is in the White House and why we’re all going to die. Prematurely, I mean, from a fucked-up planet. Trump isn’t the thing. And Bannon most certainly isn’t the thing. We’re the thing. It’s my problem and yours, this wanting, this pretending to care with likes and shares, this superficial bullshit that is dragging us down, back to the ooze. So, yeah, Bannon is right, they should shut up and listen. And so should he. And I guess me too.
“I’m talking about trade winds.” He stayed there, naked, legs spread, absently playing with his penis. “The trade winds, okay? They’re gone. Done.”
She looked past him at the long-lying clouds, grey over the harbor.
“Trade winds are the foundation of all weather. No trade winds, no weather. Everything will just stay the same, whatever that is.”
“That’s not possible.”
“It’s like this. Think about street signs, all right?” He strode across the room, his bare feet slapping the wooden floor. “Say the street signs just started changing, right? The signs at the corners, the names just changing, Park Avenue to something else.”
“You mean, getting replaced by workers?”
“No, just changing, the signs themselves, the letters and numbers changing, 42nd Street suddenly something else.”
The day had been sucked into a drifting fog, the black glass of the building across lost in the thick shroud.
“And the only way to track it would be to launch a sticker campaign, tagging the signs that change and sharing that information through a central hub.”
“I don’t understand anything you are saying.”
“It’s a metaphor. I’m trying to get you to understand.”
He had her back to her now, at the edge of the hallway.”You would have probably been better off without me. I think about that, how you would be if none of this had ever happened. You would have been better off.”
My parents enrolled me in a private grade school, The Venture, where the regular curriculum of maths, sciences and languages was mixed with Individual Response Test Situations (IRTS). A typical IRTS involved being left alone in a room full of toys, while the psychologists watched from a one-way window. I don’t remember doing anything much except staring off dumbly.I was accident prone. By the time I was 12 years old, I already had stitches in my knee (bicycle), chin (pool), shin (bicycle), lip (hockey stick), elbow (bicycle), thumb (car door) and knee again (bicycle again). A week before summer vacation in Grade 12, I broke my leg in a car accident. So instead of starting a summer job at the bank, I went to Cedar Lake and stayed with my grandparents. The highlight had to be catching a six-pound bass. I was so excited that I pulled the motor’s cord with the motor in gear and was thrown out the back. I tread water, my cast dissolving in the water, and watched the boat circle around me. I ruined my shoulder trying to grab it once. Finally the boat worked its way to shore and ran up on the rocks. And so I lost the fish, wrecked the boat and had my leg in the cast for another two months.
The Women’s March was a moment to be remembered, 400,000 singing, screaming people, everyone just glad to be alive and together, creeping along 42nd Street, up 5th Avenue, five hours to go about 20 blocks. It was a joyous affair, not looking to go anywhere, happy with where we were, cheers and songs surging back and forth, echoing between the buildings, calls of “my body, her body” the strongest. (Watch this video!)
Truth be told, I’ve never had the pleasure of a more courteous, empathetic, indeed lovely collection of souls in my life. (Good god, what if women did run the world?!?)Lots of emotion, all of that welling up, realizing what could be, even thinking things just might work out after all. And yet, we know what is next, the inevitable spins of fake news, of out-and-out denial, the lies of “dogmatic intransigence” and “alternate facts”. Thus the signs. The Trump policy of Lie and Repeat will stay the course, getting more entrenched in fear and anger. And so, sadly, there is nothing to do but take the gloves off and say what’s what in no uncertain terms. It’s time to fight. Hard.
The Robinson Treaty made in the Year 1850 with the Ojibewa Indians of Lake Huron, conveying certain lands to the crown of Canada is a stark reminder of a history to regret.It’s very officious, legal and permanent-sounding: “…the sum of two thousand pounds of good and lawful money of Upper Canada…to convey unto Her Majesty, her heirs and successors for ever, all their right, title and interest to, and in the whole of…eastern and northern shores of Lake Huron, northern shores of Lake Superior, together with the islands…” The fact that our history is centered on stories like this – stealing tens of millions of acres of land to bleed it dry – inspired me to write a book some years ago, now being transformed into an illustrated novella: Manitou Island.
“Asawasanay.” Norma poured him a glass of water. “That’s a beautiful name.”
“I was named after one of my forefathers. His name is on the Robinson Treaty, the treaty that signed away all of these lands.”
“I don’t understand,” Gerbi replied. “I mean, isn’t there some kind of custom to what you’re doing here? Don’t you have rituals or anything like that?”
“What would you have me do? Appear on a white stallion? Or perhaps you envisioned a birch-bark canoe.”
Bachelor star Corinne has it all – crocodile smile, youthful approach, open heart, to say nothing of her naked determination to get the job done. And so it came as no surprise when she was pegged for a post in the Trump Administration.
“I want to get one,” Corinne quipped. “But just a little one.”
Prodded further, she conceded that her nanny would be vital in all future endeavors. “She knows how to cut my cucumbers just right.”
The Department of Agriculture has the inside track.*
(*Is there supposed to be a caveat at the end of a fake news story? I’m new at this.)