Friday, August 12, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Election Again

Each day when I look at the news headlines regarding Trump scrolling across the bottom of the screen I think I have misread them.   “Trump said Obama founded Isis?  What?  That can’t be right…  Huh.  I’ll be damned.  He said it.  Huh.”  At this point literally anything could come across the screen and I will have to take it as 100% accurate.  “Trump Claims Hillary Clinton Time Traveling Lizard”,  “Trump Does Robot At Rally To Salt N Pepa’s “Push It”, Crowd Goes Wild” or “Trump Suggests Selling Alaska To China For Logging Rights” would all be considered legitimate headlines at this point.  Reality has become completely unnecessary.  It’s an amazing development.

I would have to think that every dyed in the wool Republican Old School power broker is meeting in secret wood paneled libraries drinking vast amounts of single malt scotch trying to figure out how to make this all go away.  They cannot control Trump, and it appears that Trump has no real clue as to the substance of any of the issues or procedures of government.  Even better, Trump appears to have no interest in learning about any of these things.  Meanwhile his hillbilly power base is under the impression that having no information is to be regarded as a huge advantage.  I saw a clip this week where a woman that looked like she fell out of a “Cops” taping said “Hillary Clinton went to college!  College!  That’s where they teach you how to lie!”.  Only in 2016 America could education be looked upon as a negative.

The country is filled to the brim with people that love Wal Mart, giveaway items at county fairs, 64 oz sodas, superhero movies and jacking off in their basement.  These are not people that are spending time reading position papers on trade agreements or radical Islam.  If most of the problems you see on a daily basis get solved by a guy in a cape, Trump probably seems like a legit answer.  If you have been conscious for the last decade and see “Trump Claims Obama Founded Isis”, your reaction is probably “What the fuck did he say?”.   It absolutely boggles my mind that almost half of our country thinks “Well, I will admit this Trump fella seems a little unhinged, but he’s the best choice!”.  I cannot work out in my mind how you could get to that place.

I know that party honks will wave their flags and say “Well, Hillary blah blah blah…”.  I, for the most part, agree with them.  Is she most likely a slithering white collar criminal?  Of course.  If you even took a slight look into her past would you find things that would want to make yourself cry in the shower and take a wire brush to try and scrub yourself clean?  Yes.  However, even with that being a fact, there is NO WAY any sane human being can say she is a worse option than someone who might be having a psychotic break as we speak.  Even if your core values ran against something in the Clinton platform, the option on the other side is so utterly unpredictable and likely terrible that to even consider Trump is insanity.  I have never seen anything so clearly.

I am becoming of the opinion that Trump is trying to get himself removed from the nomination prior to the election.  How else can you explain the behavior of a guy that a Clinton staffer described in the following manner:   “On other campaigns, we would have to scrounge for crumbs.  Here, it’s a fire hose. He can set himself on fire at breakfast, kill a nun at lunch and waterboard a puppy in the afternoon. And that doesn’t even get us to prime time.”  After having made remarks suggesting that “the election will be rigged”, I can see him doing a version of a petulant 10 year old boy, taking his ball and going home.  I think his fear of the public failure of losing the campaign could lead to him pulling the rip cord and just getting out of it completely.  His thinking will be that he didn’t lose if the contest never went off.

The fact that the United States continues to be a world leader is amazing.  This election is showing the rest of the planet that we don’t have a single person of substance willing to take the reins.  There is no vision.  There is only hate and fear.  We clearly have no idea of what we're doing.  Buckle up for three more months of bad vibes.  With any luck at all Trump will parachute out and we will have some mad scramble at the wire as the Republican Elite try to throw someone in front of an oncoming bus.  Who the hell knows?  Anything can happen.  Everything you know is wrong.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Hate Summer

There are only a few more weeks of true summer weather here.  I once again have the sneaking suspicion that I have wasted the summer.  This, of course, leads to further ruminations on if I have in fact wasted large tracts of my life.  Once I find my mind wandering down that dark corridor I tend to shove all of those thoughts deep down in the box and hope the lid stays shut.  It’s best not to look in that box.  Lock that up tight.  One has to keep moving forward and keep the box well behind you.

I had a great summer one year when I lived in an attic of a horribly run down house in Kent.  The attic was always 120 degrees.  I had subleased half of the attic for a few months as a temporary residence until I moved that Fall.  There was a nice enough giant of a man named Jim that lived on the other side of the flimsy wall.  He spent his summer working on road construction and continually fucking his hometown girlfriend.  I would blare The Cure, which he found to be acceptable, to help drown out his jackhammer fucking from 6p-8p as I read my way through “Great Books 2”.  I had to read a monumental novel every week in the accelerated pace of a summer class.  If I think of Herman Hesse’s novel “Steppenwolf”, I immediately think of his girlfriend’s slightly Appalachian twang saying “Oh Gawd!  Oh Gawd!” as his bedpost thumped in time with “Just Like Heaven” as the backdrop. 

I had a really good summer a couple of years ago when I frequently took to taking my kayak out at daybreak before work.  I would set the alarm for 500a so as to be in Lake Erie just as the sun rose.  I would paddle out a good distance from shore and take in the calm of sunrise.  I liked being so far out that no noise from shore would reach me.  It was totally quiet except for the lapping of the water on the side of the kayak.  I am sure there is an explanation for why the water calms as the sun breaks the horizon line, but I don’t know what it is.  I would think about drifting around on the Lake all day and blowing off work, but I never had the courage to do so.  That was probably a mistake as that day on the water would have been much more memorable than whatever I did with it.  When I disappear without a trace some summer morning, look forward to a newscast where a Coast Guard spokesperson says to the camera "We tell people to NEVER go out on the water alone.." while the reporter shakes their head in feigned grief and resignation.  My body will wash up in a couple weeks.  Kids will poke at it with a stick until they finally decide to tell their parents "Kevin found a body on the beach!".

I had a really good summer when The Cowslingers played a bunch of festival dates.  2003 maybe?  I saw a poster for one of those shows on social media this week.  The band was playing really well and had been on an uptick of popularity.  One of the odd things about playing American roots music is that you find your band and genre falling in and out of favor for no particular reason.  We would peak and valley while continuing to do what we have always done.  It never makes any sense.  That summer we were on a peak.  I remember a show in Buffalo where a large gathering of friends had made the Americanarama Festival one of the best days of the band year.  We played last I think and a large projected cowskull was shot onto a building like a bat signal for degenerates.  We all drank too much, laughed too much, and smiled until our faces hurt.  I got two songs out of that night.  “The Ballad of Bar-B-Que Bob” is on Greatest Hits Vol 2 concerning a fella that made brisket, got busted selling drugs to pay off his mortgage, and then fled to South America with his bar-b-que wagon.  That guy told great stories and made terrific brandy.  The other was “Cosmic Cowboy” which is coming out on our upcoming “The Good Fight” LP later this year.  The principals of that story know who they are… 

It’s time to reclaim summer.  This weekend the band is playing a couple of festivals.  The Pabstsolutely show in Youngstown at the Royal Oaks is great.  Youngstown has been kicked in the teeth more than once, but they keep getting up swinging.  This is a group of people totally committed to making their own fun.  The fringe element of the region comes out to go crazy.  It’s what punk rock was supposed to be, not the Maximum Rock N Roll rulebook it became.  It’s people doing creative things for no reason than their own pleasure.  There are a zillion bands, a monster sound system, and the street is closed off probably without any permit.  I mean, what fun would permission be?  Do you even need permits in Youngtown?  We are playing last on Saturday night.  I would strongly suggest that you attend.  I know I am going to have a good time and try to play as well as possible so I don’t let anyone down.  This week I am also going to go out before sunrise in my kayak.  I’m going to listen to The Cure “Just Like Heaven” on the way out to the Lake in the dark (or at least Dinosaur Jr’s version).  I’m going to float around and think about nothing and everything.  I might not go to work afterwards either.  There’s not much summer left after all…       

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Nurse The Hate: The Cane

He walked with a cane since suffering what was called by his tight ass primary care physician a “mini-stroke”.  Despite the term “mini”, it had been a fairly devastating event that had required him to leave his job and limp by on his meager disability check.  It was unclear if he actually needed the cane at this point as he was a well-known hypochondriac.  He had purchased the cane at a vintage shop where he had years earlier purchased the “fainting couch” which now adorned his hallway and was stacked with unopened mail.  Without a doubt this brass topped fox head cane was a much better buy.  He liked to twirl it in brief moments of levity while humming Bob Dylan’s “Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” in a private joke no one ever got.

He spent most mornings watching cable news in a constant spiral of bad news that he found somehow comforting.  Each day the same breakfast of Special K cereal, blueberries, and Minute Maid orange juice (low pulp) provided an expected backdrop of routine.  He tried to busy himself with various doomed house projects like the crooked bookshelves in his office and irreparable leak in the kitchen.  All the while his 16 year old Siamese cat Ping stared with firm indifference.  It wasn’t how he expected to spend his 60s but he had become accustomed to the low energy low expectation rhythm of his life.  He had his books, his records, and enough acquaintances that could be called “friends” as long as the definition of “friend” was wide enough.

The last afternoon I saw him was on an unusually hot and humid summer day.  He was meeting an old work friend from when they both had the illusion of power provided by corporate middle management.  Now they were both out of the game.  They ate lunch at the tired café that had long fallen out of fashion without either of them noticing.  They had the casual feel of men with nowhere to be and no one to hold them accountable.  They were at the age in which they had almost become invisible.  They nibbled at salads washed down with stiff vodka drinks.  Day drinking is the luxury of the very young, the very old, and the unemployable. 

I remember seeing him glancing up with one eye at the TV in the bar watching the urgent looking broadcast of the slowly evolving daily news cycle.  He looked at the coverage of the newscast of the Trump press event.  A sly smile crossed his mouth.  “Look at that son of a bitch.  He never thought he would make it here.  Now he has to figure out how he is going to get out of this thing!’  Both men laughed.  “I can’t wait to see how this shit show turns out.”  They resumed eating their salads and talking about long gone days of small business triumphs and forgotten deals.  They tried to rope me in, but I didn’t have the energy or the time.  I paid my check and left.

That was Thursday afternoon.  Friday afternoon he didn’t show up at the café for his normal Happy Hour appearance.  They called one of his friends who went over to his apartment to check on him.  They found him dead.  He was in his bed fully clothed, the same outfit as Thursday.  The theory went that he returned from lunch, laid down for a nap, and just never woke up.  The family decided not to do an autopsy.  What was the difference?  He was gone.  Oh, and his cane was all the way over by the front door.  I knew he didn’t need that thing.  That made me smile.