Sunday, June 14, 2020

Nurse the Hate: Thoughts On Cotes du Rhone

I was having a Cotes du Rhone blend this evening, a red from Southern France.  These are everyday wines in France and are often “field blends” of grenache, syrah, mouvedre, carignan, and who knows what else.  The idea of the field blend is if farmers planted a bunch of different grapes that ripen at different times in different conditions, it provides a hedge if the weather is dodgy.  The syrah is underripe?  Not a problem.  The grenache is perfect and when it’s blended, everything will taste fine.  It’s like making a Sunday morning omlette when the past peak tomatoes will get covered up by the green pepper and cheese, but it’s still nice to have that tomato in there so you toss it in the pan.  You take all of what you have and make it good together. 

The big mistake I made in my serene little world was to look at social media.  I think the pandemic and resulting social distancing have resulted in creating an angrier less tolerant nation.  This isn’t a major revelation as the rioting in multiple cities will attest, but I’m speaking more about hair trigger reactions to smaller slights.  Like most people, my social media feed reflects who I am.  I have an outsized voice coming from white suburban middle-aged guys with a very healthy match of liberal artistic musician voices.  The musician voices are saying the same thing as always.  “Trump sucks.  Look at this corruption.  Life is unfair.  Shop local.  My band is doing a Facetime Live.”  That keeps me busy clicking “like” even when I know goddamn well I am not going to go to a coffee shop across town or watch a poorly recorded webcast.  Meanwhile, the suburban dad voice has become edgier…

There appear to be two types of Suburban Dad conservatives coming out of their Great Rooms and Man Caves right now.  Type 1 is the “I love the military and police so much, all I want to do is shoot machine guns and bomb anyone that doesn’t have a flag tattooed on their ass”.  It’s odd because almost without exception these men have never been in the armed services, did everything they could do avoid being in the armed services, and derided the ex-strong safety bully from the high school football team that became a cop in their small town so he could continue to bully people.  Yet at some point these guys made a turn and started to identify with the people they used to villainize. 

I can’t tell you how many guys I used to know that were “let’s get crazy party guy” when they were in their twenties that now sound like one of those out of touch crew cut construction workers from black and white late 1960s news clips.  “Well, the police need to get those damn longhairs off the streets.  They should cut their hair and get a job!  If they don’t love America, they can leave it!  And if they won’t leave on their own, me and the boys here will make them leave!”  They fear what they don’t understand.  They have worked hard to get a 3500 square foot house, two enormous SUVs, 2.5 kids and a new set of golf clubs.  They are WINNERS godammit.  They’ve got a good thing going.  Don’t mess with it.  They are essentially harmless blowhards.

Type 2 is much scarier.  There is a group that has been quietly collecting guns, joining chat rooms, and collecting their news from fringe conspiracy sources.  They are frustrated, simmering privately.  A couple years ago they knew in their hearts that their ideas were fringe, something to keep private.  Suddenly Trump started to trot out racism as a policy and this flicked the green light as these ideas became normalized.  It’s like if you were shamefully fucking a sex doll, and one day the President said “Lots of people are fucking sex dolls.  Lots of GOOD people!”.  Hey, what I’m doing isn’t just OK.  It’s downright Patriotic!  The next thing you know, you pull into a Home Depot parking lot and four or five Ford F-150 pickups all have sex dolls riding shotgun.  The sex doll guys feel good about it and say “We ALL fuck sex dolls.  We’re just brave enough to be open about it!”  On the one hand, I suppose it’s good to know who is fucking the plastic doll, but on the other hand it’s unnerving to see how many people are into it.

I can’t tell you how many times in the last month I have seen these Type 2 guys talking about “helping out” the police, or “helping to keep order”.  One guy keeps talking about how he and his “well armed biker buddies” are going to go to so-and-so and “protect the country”.  In almost every case, these are men that have never been in a real altercation much less a gun fight.  It must be a steady diet of Hollywood vigilante movies that have them convinced that when a situation calls for it, only they are suited to dole out moral justice via their death dealing super weapons they purchased at Cabela’s.  It’s insane, but that is the head space of more people than I want to admit.  They are actively looking for something that they don’t really want any part of.  They don’t understand that if they show up somewhere firing a gun, THEY are the villain.  THEY have become the “bad guy”.  THEY are the kook locked up forever.  Will this guy ever act?  I don’t think so, but he sure as hell feels vindicated talking it through openly in a public space.  It’s not far from where they are now to that Texas clock tower.

In both cases, I don’t think there is an understand how history is going to look back at this awful period.  Just like we now condemn the 1960s hippie bashers, the Iraq war cheerleaders, the Communist Witch Hunters, the pro-fascist groups of the 40s, the anti-labor groups of the Industrial Revolution and on and on and on, these me or worse yet, their children, will be ashamed of these views. Unlike Germany in 1946 when people could burn their old uniforms and pretend they were cooks during the war, the internet never forgets.  It is the black and white news clip of fist shaking ignorance. 

It’s been a brutal period.  It’s tested everyone.  Hopefully we can get past our divisive national leadership and come together on a local level.  Washington is a reality TV show run amok which is hopefully in its final season.  I think for all of our own sanity we should ignore it, much like the State of Washington has chosen to do.  There is still a reason to hold out hope.  In Cleveland, the same million people that came downtown together joyfully to celebrate the Cavs championship are the same people divided today.  It didn’t seem incredible that there was no violence.  Why would it?  We’re all neighbors.  It’s sort of like a field blend in the Rhone.  Not everyone comes out perfectly, but when we are all blended together, it can be quite nice.

Let’s keep it together out there. 



At June 14, 2020 at 5:30:00 PM EDT , Blogger vfh159 said...

Cheers to you, too.


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