MY WEEK OF LIVING BIGLY: T-Minus One Miserable Fucking Day

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Now Playing: Love Me I'm a Liberal by Phil Ochs as covered by Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon

I remember exactly where I was when I found out that Donald Trump had entered the race.

I was sitting in a movie theatre in Ireland. I was about to watch Amy. I was prepared to be devastated. But I wasn't prepared enough.

I knew Trump was going to be making an announcement, but I never thought he'd actual enter the race. I checked Twitter. He had entered the race.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all of my Irish friends. Because when I was sitting in that movie theatre reading about how Trump had promised to build a wall and in the same breath called Mexicans the things Donald Trump calls Mexicans, my thought process wasn't even "Well, he won't win a single state." It wasn't even "He'll be gone in a week." It was "What a fucking joke."

Because that's what it seemed like. That's what it still seems like, though it's becoming more and more clear that the joke is on us rather than it is on him. Back then, in that Rathmines movie theatre, the joke was very much on Donald, as it had been for my entire childhood.

To me, a suburban kid from New Jersey, Donald Trump never represented success so much as he represented celebrity. He was a Famous Person, first and foremost. He was a celebrity. He had a TV show and he was featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. I always figured his name being on buildings was all part of his brand as a celebrity, not because he had any business sense. It never really even occurred to me that he had a business. He was just a Famous Person.

So when Donald rocketed to the top of the polls, that's what I figured the cause was. He's a celebrity. He's a Famous Person. He's winning because people already know him and he doesn't have to introduce himself to the country the way that someone even like Jeb Bush does. But that's not enough to sustain a campaign. Even as he maintained his lead throughout the rest of that summer, I had multiple conversations with my Irish friends in which I, after apologizing, said, "He will be gone in three weeks. You have nothing to worry about from Donald Trump. Don't be scared of Donald Trump. He's just a celebrity."

Three weeks turned into three months turned into what feels like three years. Donald Trump is one smelly orange cock hair away from the Presidency.

So I'm sorry, Irish friends. I spoke the truth that day. What I said was absolutely the truth. "Donald Trump will be gone in three weeks." I did not lie. I just happened to be living in a different reality.

At least that's what we've been telling ourselves for this entire campaign, hasn't it? Not just that Donald Trump lives in his own reality or that there are two different versions of America. We tell ourselves, "This can't be real. This can't be happening. I must be in an alternate reality."

The latter examples are hyperbole, sure, and the earlier examples are knocking on the door of truth. But to claim that we live in two different countries - one in which Donald Trump is a savior and the other in which he is a dictator - is kind of a cop out. Furthermore, it's an end to a conversation rather than the beginning of one.

Yes, I as a kid who grew up in the suburbs who makes a living writing plays have no idea what it's like for a struggling family with no running water in the middle of the Ozarks. That doesn't mean that we are living in two different worlds, and that sure as shit doesn't mean that we're going to be voting in two different elections tomorrow. We share this country. We share this responsibility. We live in the same reality, no matter how we try to color it.

I made a promise to my Irish friends whenever they talked to me about Trump. I promised them, "You have nothing to worry about." Even if i was wrong about his shelf-life, even if I was wrong about his power, I still truly believe that they should not worry about him entering the White House. I plan on making good on my promise.

And if I'm wrong on that front, too, then I can only hope they welcome me back to Rathmines with open arms. Because Donald Trump makes Enda Kenny look like Paul Wellstone smoking legal weed through a spliff made out of welfare checks.

Vote. Be safe. Be with your friends. Tell your family you love them. Don't stay up too late watching scary movies tomorrow night, and don't do anything I wouldn't do.


Sunday, November 6th, 2016.

Now Playing: New Cannonball Blues by TV on the Radio

My shopping list for this evening includes portabello mushrooms, some Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice, avocados (if they're ripe), a bag of apples, a bottle of bourbon, five bottles of wine, and popcorn. A lot of popcorn.

Stocking up for election night is a lot of like preparing for a storm. You want to make sure you're not going to run out of anything, you buy a lot of everything. It's better to overprepare than to underprepare. And if the power and water never go off, you can say to yourself, "Sure, we didn't drink any bottled water, but hey - now we have a case of bottled water!" Tuesday night is going to be like that, but with lots of drugs and alcohol.

I am going to drink with purpose on election night. I am going to numb myself with extreme prejudice. I will not be alone in this endeavor. Do a quick Google search for election night drinking game and browse through all of the options, all the different ways people have found to get through the returns. One sip every time someone says "rigged." One shot every time a new exit polls come out. Finish your drink when we have a President. No matter what it takes, America is going to play like a champion this week.

I, for one, have no intention of playing a drinking game. I have no intention of getting too drunk too fast. My goal is to sustain myself all night long. I'll pace myself, yes, but as I said before I'm drinking with intention. I must remain focused enough to not lose my temper or start screaming, but I also must be drunk enough to be able to look at the TV screen. I won't be able to look at the electoral map sober, but if I'm too drunk I'll refuse to believe that it's real.

The first exit polls will be released at 7:00 pm Eastern. I get off work at 6:00pm and it will take me roughly forty minutes to get home. Upon arriving home, I will drink a beer, and then promptly at 7:00 I will open a bottle of wine and drink a glass once New Hampshire is announced. My goal will then be to make the wine last me until 9:00pm, after which Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina will have been announced.

This is where it gets slightly more complicated. I will be a bottle of wine and a beer in, and at that point will likely have a pretty clear idea of where the election is going. If Hillary wins at least two of those states, I will continue with the wine. If Trump wins either Pennsylvania or Florida, I will make myself an Old Fashioned and drink that over the course of the next hour.

If it is clear come 10:00pm that Hillary will cross 270 at 11:00pm when she wins California, I will open the champagne. If things are still in the air, I will take a shot and then switch back to wine until the contiguous 48 have been called.

God willing, by that point, one way or another, we will have a new President. And if we don't? No more drinks after 11:00pm. No more running away from the results, no more masking the pain. If we have a new President at that point, then it will be time to accept their ascension head-on, warts and all. If we don't, then it's even more important to stay sharp, keep vigilant, and expose lies and bullshit when detected. Besides, it's a weeknight; we have work to do.


Thursday, November 3rd, 2016.

Now Playing: Take Me Out to the Ballgame as performed by Donald Duck as performed by Bill Murray

Well, folks, it's over. That's it. Donald Trump will become the next President of the United States of America. The world is ending. The end is nigh. Goodnight, sweet prince.

How did we get here? There will be think pieces a-plenty for decades about how America for the first time in its history decided to elect a strongman. They will be far more intelligently written than anything I can here produce. Instead, I'll offer my answer to the previous question. We got here because the Chicago Cubs are World Champions.

Trump hasn't won the White House just yet, but at this point how can he not? The Cubs just won a World Series. Nostradamus predicted this, didn't he? It's 2016. Bob Dylan has a Nobel Prize, the Cubs are World Champions, and Donald Trump is the Leader of the Free World. When you put it like that, it's almost poetic. Almost.

I'm a Met fan. I had no rooting interest in this World Series. On the one hand I hate the Cleveland team name and logo and have no real connection with any of their players, but on the other hand I love a good story, and I didn't want the good story of the Cubs to end. The narrative of the Cubs is that they don't win World Series championships. Their motivation, their goal, their want is to win a World Series for their fans. Now that the goal has been achieved and the need satisfied, their arc is now complete. Everything that happens now will be effectively a fresh start. They will likely win several more World Series over the course of the next decade, they're that dominant. But the Cubs aren't supposed to be the dominant team. They're supposed to be the team that hasn't won. Now that they've won, that can only mean that the world is ending and Donald Trump is going to be President.

This World Series was in a lot of ways like the election itself. It was far too long, it had moments of sheer brilliance right next to moments of sheer panic right next to moments of sheer stupidity, and it ended in a highly contested, knock-down, drag out fight. And in the end, it came down to a few people in Ohio.

The most important similarity between the World Series and this election is the emotional element. This election is not an election based on facts. The truth has no buying power. "Truthiness" - as coined by Colbert-in-character, giving more credence to feelings than facts - runs this race. The two people at the top of the major party tickets are so diametrically opposed and so disagreeable in their own ways that emotions by definition have to come into play.

Same goes for baseball. This was a storybook series. The two teams with the longest droughts playing each other, going down to the seventh game, tied into the 10th inning, rain delay, no matter how you look at it this is going to make a really good bad movie. I'll say the over/under on when it comes out is ten years. Baseball is nothing if not dated, which makes it a nostalgic game, and therefore it is built on emotion in a way that football or basketball never can be.

But if you remove the romanticism from the discussion about this World Series, what are we really looking at? The Cubs were supposed to win this series. All season long, the driving narrative has been "Who can possible stop the Cubs?" Them winning the World Series was almost a foregone conclusion. It really should never have gone to seven games in the first place. But since it did, emotions ran high, and ultimately it's a perfect ending to a perfect story - a perfect, emotion-driven story.

So what do we do when the two biggest news stories this week - the election and baseball - are built upon feelings rather than facts? Because the facts are that Donald Trump is unfit to be an employee of any kind at any establishment, much less the President, and the Cubs winning the World Series, in context, is anti-climactic. It's fine for a game to ignore facts in favor or storyline; at the end of the day, the MLB is an entertainment company. The Presidency? The job application process for that office should be a resume contest, not a pissing one. So good for you, Cubs, and thank you, MLB, for giving America one last happy memory.


Wednesday, November 2nd.

Now Playing: Exit Strategy by Valient Thorr

I saw three different people with soul patches today.

I'm not talking about facial hair that happened to be on the bottom lip. I'm not talking about unkept facial hair giving the appearance of soul patch. I'm talking about well-groomed, maintained, I-did-this-on-purpose, Apollo Ohno soul patches. I haven't seen a soul patch in eight years, much less three in one day, much less three all on the 6 Train during rush hour.

Did I miss something? Is this a thing again? Choker necklaces are a thing again. Robyn has been a thing again for years now. But soul patches? I honestly thought they had gone the way of Hawaiian shirts and the X-Games and George W. Bush.

Speaking of things I thought we had done away with, Donald J. Trump is even with Hillary Clinton in many new polls. What I would give to have George W. Bush in the White House.

Or Mitt Romney. Or Bush Senior. Or John McCain (though ideally John McCain from ten years ago, not the unreasonable party hack he's become). Anybody but Trump. Almost literally anybody. I'd rather have a walking, talking soul patch as President. I'd rather have Apollo Ohno as President.

And here's why: you can protest a George Bush. You can make fun of a Mitt Romney. You can humble a John McCain. Trump? Not so much.

The song linked to above is one of many great, great anti-Bush songs that came out in the mid-2000s. There are hundreds of others. Everyone from Bright Eyes to System of a Down had something to sing about George Bush. And it was largely effective. The punk boom of the mid-2000s didn't stop Bush from scaring his way to re-election, but it did help sweep the House and Senate in 2006 and put Barack Obama in the White House in 2008. It was a good time to be a punk.

But what's going to happen in 2017, 18, and 19 under President Trump? I'm not saying that he's the kind of person who would censor music. He is, but he's not going to jail punk musicians. My point is that there will be no such thing as a punk musician under President Trump. How could there be? What is at all "punk" or "anti-establishment" or "contrarian" about hating Trump? How can you use mass media to destroy a man who was built by mass media? How do you caricature a caricature? How do you spoof a spoof? How do you make a walking antagonism feel shame?

You don't. If you could, this would have been over before it was started. Increasingly, it's looking like that may have been the case anyway, just in the other direction. Maybe Trump was destined to become President because he is impervious to criticism. Sure, criticism hurts him, but it only hurts his feelings. It doesn't hurt his stamina or his drive or his thirst for revenge. All you do when you write a punk song about trump is annoy him to the point where he'll send it right back your way. "Punk music is low energy. Sad!"

The days of screaming and shouting at your enemies is over. In the world of Internet trolls and Donald Trump, the best thing you can do is ignore him. He feeds off attention. Cut off his food source. Let's say the unthinkable happens and he gets the keys to the castle. Don't make your reaction about him. Rather than yelling at Trump, talk to your local community organizers. Join an organization that aligns with your values. Flood the world with good rather than swim in the bad. Because it's been the bad of this election that has brought us to where we are today. And where we are today is a dangerous place, no matter what happens in six days. I can prove it. I saw three different people with soul patches today.