On a whim, I Googled the name of the first white man I’d ever dated.  We’d dated for a few months during the mid-2000s.  According to Google, he’s now the lead singer for a retro-Nineties ska band called Hangout!, based in Chicago.  He’d been the lead singer for a punk-pop band called Glitterbutt during our relationship; I don’t really like any type of punk, though he did sing well.

Anyway, I downloaded Hangout!’s first and so far only album, A Real Live Political Par-TAY!, from their website. Not a bad album, I guess, though I don’t really like ska, either. (He used to call my taste in music “Starbucks decaf.” For a while, I’d convinced myself he hadn’t meant that disparagingly.)

I did like the band’s song “Too Big to Jail,” about the banks and their role in the 2008 financial meltdown. At least he still had an interest in progressive politics.

And at least he still looked good, judging from the website photos.  I like to think I’ve kept my body and mind in shape.

February 27, 2016

(revised March 6, 2016)

Copyright © 2016 by David V. Matthews


The Donald, Doubled

When I read a Maureen Dowd column, I know it will almost always lapse into vacuity and never recover.  The lapse may occur early or near the end, but when it does, I feel let down, despite knowing she cannot help herself, that she cannot comprehend the world otherwise.  All right, I also feel a little jealous that having a vacant mind has not hurt her career in the very least.  The New York Times most likely would fire her if she wrote intelligent analyses of sociopolitical issues instead of giving the paper and its advertisers free publicity via those oh-so-provocative, nyah-nyah columns about how feminists suck, or how Hillary’s a bitch, or how name-of-male-Democrat’s a sissy boy, or how name-of-male-Republican’s a manly-man.

Speaking of manly-man Republicans, her column today has the presumably nudge-nudge title “Introducing Donald Trump, Diplomat,” and the lapse into vacuity occurs in the very first sentence: “Donald Trump gives me his Grumpy Cat look.”  Dowd loves outdated pop-cultural references as much as she loves power and glamour. Interviewing Trump “in his office in Trump Tower high above Fifth Avenue,” she gives him the opportunity to present himself as a non-misogynist: someone who may harshly judge women on their looks and who may accuse a tough female questioner of menstruating, but who otherwise loves the fairer sex.  Quoth Trump:

“I have many women executives and they are paid at least as much as the men[.]…I find women to be amazing.”

Swell, though Dowd doesn’t ask Trump about the business dealings his “amazing” female execs have presumably helped facilitate.  She asks him nothing about his not-exactly-uncontroversial financial past, instead giving him space to inveigh junior-high-style against his enemies, and he does not disappoint, referring to the “moron Rand Paul” and George Will the “boring person” and asserting that Carly Fiorina’s way of speaking hurts his ears.

Dowd does discuss an actual political issue with Trump, however. The column’s last two paragraphs, in their entirety:

I ask Trump if he can at least admit the President Obama was born in this country.

The Grumpy Cat face comes back.  “No comment,” he murmurs.

And we find out more about Trump’s views in an additional Dowd piece today, “Lightning Round with Donald Trump.”  “[I]t’s hard to contain the Vesuvial Donald Trump in 1,300 words of my column,” she explains before calling him “the birther of a nation.”  I’ll admit, I did find that “birther of a nation” line amusing, a bit of amusement before the serious, in-depth content to follow.

Or not to follow—Dowd uses most of that rare extra space to let Trump describe how he has trumped his Republican rivals and how hot Sharon Stone looks, though he does characterize the Iraq War as a waste of money and American lives (Iraqi civilian lives excluded), criticize Bernie Sanders for not standing up to the Black Lives Matter protesters, and discuss global warming:

I’m not a believer in man-made climate change.  And again I had uncles at M.I.T. and stuff.  By the way many smart people agree with me.

He doesn’t name any of those “smart people[.]”  I doubt Dowd pressed Trump the rich birther to go into detail about the military, American imperialism, race relations, or the environment. And in both pieces, she asks him nothing about raising the minimum wage, strengthening unions, taxing the rich, or anything else that might help the non-Trumpish, not that The New York Times or any other corporate-dominated mass-media outlet would ever permit serious discussion of those issues.  And not that Dowd has ever cared about how the rich and powerful’s policies affect us all and the word we inhabit.  She loves her upper-class political and celebrity milieu—a milieu which, I have to admit, has its escapist, apolitical appeal in this era of debt, drones, and disappearing icecaps. 

Copyright © 2015 by David V. Matthews