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In the coming postlapsarian winter, I can’t wait for the end of campaign emails, and, I hope, the return of my name.
For the past year or so, I’ve felt the power of my name gradually lessen after the many times it appeared in my inbox, used as a guilt trip after a comma “…, Jacob” or for an emphatic hit at the start of a sentence, “Jacob, …”. Before, like a dog, the utterance of “Jacob” caused me to turn my head and wait for something vaguely good to happen. I felt a certain rush when I got an email. Sometimes, I even clicked! I miss that innocent, dumb dog me who assumed a random message with my name in the subject line might be important, and I think he existed until at least 2015.
Since then, algorithmic templates persuading me to support this person for president, that one for House, this one Senate (many in states in which I do not live!) have somehow managed to avoid the spam filters, and been the death of “Jacob” meaning anything but “here lies a desperate plea for attention or money.”
I think after the election, the emails will stop. After a few months, I’ll adjust. And I will be free. (In part, this is because I am confident that whether Democrats win or lose the White House they have no plan to keep up a robust organizing effort by engaging voters outside of an election year, and Republican ones actually do go to spam.)
Bad campaigns emails of course started before this year. In the early 2010s, we were told that campaign emails were—like its cousin, clickbait headlines—an art. The “geniuses” of the Obama team taught the world to open up messages full of pap and big buttons to DONATE with subject lines that sounded “human.” Maybe I’m being an asshole. But, to me, “hey” is not what a human would ever put in a subject line of an email. Still, the Obama team raked in $690 million in 2012 by asking for small donations online. And so we’ve been stuck with these missives for years.
The fakeness of these uncanny valley thrusts at “real” messages have crept up on me over the last few years. Changes in speech can erode the previous beauty of a sentence over time. Reading old clips from magazines, or books, one can see how performative “genuine” speech can be—and how writing that speaks to the moment (stylistically, at least) can end up stuck in that moment too.
By the time the next presidential election rolls around, I hope that there will be some new fake way of sounding genuine that does not involve my name, over and over, being said in subject lines.
Over the last few years, amid the daily avalanche of scandal, corruption, and intrigue, one could be forgiven for tuning it all out in favor of something else. Anything else. One storyline that I’ve found intriguing and exciting over the last few years: The US government and UFOs.
Before the 2016 election, I wrote a series of pieces about how Hillary Clinton and her key staff were saying interesting things about UFOs. Most laughed. The issue was treated as a joke on late-night television. But time has shown that clearly there was something afoot.
In December 2017, the New York Times published a groundbreaking story: “Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program,” which included US Department of Defense videos of aerial objects the government could not explain. While credible UFO reports go back decades, the Times story increased the latitude for discussion of the issue under mainstream mastheads. Since then, the Times has published a series of additional pieces, as have a host of other respected publications.
In April 2019, the US Navy announced it was updating its procedures for pilots who wish to report encounters with UFOs to destigmatize the issue and collect better data. By September, the US Navy confirmed to John Greenewald, Jr., the founder of a repository of publicly available government documents called the Black Vault, that the videos published by the Times were officially “unidentified aerial phenomena,” a the term used for “unauthorized/unidentified aircraft/objects that have been observed entering/operating in the airspace of various military-controlled training ranges.” In February 2020, Popular Mechanics published a deeply reported piece concluding that “unidentified flying objects are neither myth nor figment of overactive imagination,” elaborating that documentary evidence and people who would know both suggest “UFOs are real.”
In June, the Senate Intelligence Committee tasked the Director of National Intelligence with submitting a public report, with a classified annex, outlining the government’s work on “unexplained aerial phenomena.” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the vice-chairman of the committee, confirmed that he had been given a classified briefing on UAP. “The military and others are taking this issue seriously,” Warner said, “which, I think in previous generations may not have been the case.” A month later, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, characterized it as a national security issue. “We have things flying over our military bases and places where we’re conducting military exercises and we don’t know what it is, and it isn’t ours,” Rubio said, adding that “frankly, if it’s something from outside this planet, that might actually be better” than the possibility novel aerial technology is being used by a foreign power.
Excuse me? What? As someone who has closely followed this issue for years, the fact that two powerful US senators are saying these sorts of things in public, with total earnestness, is huge.
Greenewald, who has used the Freedom of Information Act to pry documents on UFOs from government vaults, agrees there is some reason for optimism about further disclosures, but offered a note of caution.
“The last two years have been fascinating in UAP world,” he told me. The Navy’s revelations provided renewed hope of transparency, and its acknowledgement that the objects on those famous videos were, in fact, UAPs, “was huge,” he said. “I never expected that.”
But Greenewald says a string of recently denied FOIA requests he filed indicates “that that door has shut,” and he warns that indications the government is taking UFOs as a serious potential threat could ultimately mean it will refuse to honestly disclose what it knows.
“Whether or not we’re talking about a foreign adversary that has technology that we we haven’t mastered yet, whether it’s one branch that’s being tested on by another branch of the military—which I think is a big possibility—or, what everybody wants, which is extra terrestrials, regardless, all of the above would be a national security risk,” he told me.
Greenewald is probably right: The US government is not likely to tell us all that it knows about these objects that can seemingly toy with the most advanced and sophisticated military equipment on the planet. But at least it’s now OK to talk about them in public. And if the Trump era has taught us anything, its the value of appreciating wins where you can find them.
I made a joke when we started this project that anxiety and rage aside, I was hopeful for the next season of The Crown. It’s something to look forward to right? Premiering just two-ish weeks after (god willing) the end of the longest and most unnerving election of our lifetimes, this season will feature—gasp—a young Princess Diana and—double gasp—The Wedding.
And yet, I don’t know why I even brought up this show to my colleagues. To be honest, I don’t even really like The Crown very much. Yes, I’ve seen every episode over the last four years, from Queen Elizabeth’s (kind of) touching relationship with Winston to Princess Margaret’s sordid (kind of) affair with the much younger Roddy Llewellyn. But as anyone who knows me will confirm, I watch a lot of TV and the bar these days is even lower than normal. (Hi, Elite.) I get that the royal series is more or less universally acclaimed and the acting is great and the casting is inspired and the costumes are striking and yada yada yada … but let’s face it, it’s also incredibly, often mind-numbingly boring.
As if it were in on the joke, the trailer for the new season actually opens up with the ominous, slow ticking of a clock, ready to lull you to sleep before it even starts.
Upon further reflection, though, I realize the tedium actually is why season 4 of The Crown makes me hopeful. The tedium is the appeal. I know it’s a show based on the very real lives of complex, privileged, occasionally glamorous, often scandalous people who are honestly anything but boring—as evidenced by an entire ecosystem of tabloids that mercilessly exploit their missteps. But by recreating stories whose ending is already known—at such a stately pace! Listen to those accents!—I feel calm, finding a measure of peace in contrast to our current whiplash and shitty pandemic- and Trump-wrecked lives.
Plus … the costumes.
There’s something about our ongoing national nightmare that has me fixated on the X-Men—and no, it’s not just because they literally fight a giant blue dude named Apocalypse. I’ve long been a devoted comics fan and Marvel’s mutant superheroes have always been my favorite team. But the books’ central political metaphor—a ‘60s era morality play that casts the X-Men as the rebel avatars of mutantkind, a marginalized offshoot of humanity—had grown stale. Where once there had been millions of mutants with their own defined culture and customs, Marvel in the early 2000s trimmed their number down to fewer than 200. As one X-Men podcaster joked, “That’s a lecture hall. That’s not a subculture.” Sales were falling and the books’ longtime fans had mostly moved on. Then, last year, Marvel changed everything. Under a new branding initiative called Dawn of X, mutants shunted off to an island in the Pacific, formed their own country, and were left to grapple with the mechanics of nation-building.
The stories were enthralling. Comics reviewers and online fandom, responding to the hype of a new era, began to build a critical community that mirrored the chosen family seen on the page. A new wave of writers has convincingly made the case for a modern “mutant metaphor” that encompasses disability activism, queer subcultures, and, yes, resistance to the Trump administration. Given that a major X-Men villain is a deranged narcissist who’s obsessed with cable TV, it’s not actually much of a stretch!
Sites like Xavier Files and Women Write About Comics treat the comics with near-scholarly precision, searching for allusions to history, politics, and religion. It’s a kind of fandom that has become more prevalent online, but can often be drowned out by a few hateful bigots. No community is perfect, but what gives me hope about this one is its capacity for decency. Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, a wildly popular podcast among diehards, has set the standard for this kind of responsible fandom, where our fictional obsessions are never made to be more important than real-world injustice. Co-host Jay Edidin told the Daily Beast last year that he’s only had to delete “under 20 comments in four years.” If superhero fans can be made to behave, maybe there is hope for the rest of us after all.
In the nearly eight months since the pandemic shut down life as we knew it, it’s been rare to find glimmers of hope in the media, so I was excited when a magazine I subscribe to included an anecdote in its lede that promised to be “an act of hope—that life would soon resume.”
That act, it turns out, was the purchase of a $28,000 pair of diamond earrings auctioned off by Sotheby’s.
While I wouldn’t call it hope—I would not be enjoying said diamonds—I was somehow, weirdly, possibly comforted by the fact that as everything else is in upheaval this year, Town & Country still runs stories headlined: “Bangles in a PANDEMIC? The shelter at home shopping network is here, and it’s all about jewels—lots of them.”
The magazine has basically been my favorite hate read since a Fourth of July weekend away with friends last year, back when sharing a space with people outside your family was an act we all took for granted. As I lazily flipped through my host’s magazine rack, not expecting much, I became instantly sucked into the collection of Town & Country issues, transported to a weird alternative timeline where all of the day’s biggest news and scandals were reframed to focus on the true victims: the unfairly demonized rich. The magazine’s story framing was truly flabbergasting:
- The opioid epidemic? Story headline: “Hello, My Name Is Sackler: When your husband and his family are accused of making billions off the opioid crisis, do you get to be a rebel without a cause?”
- The college bribery scandal? Headlined: “Is Your Money Still Good Here: The pay-for-play college scandal threatens to end a time honored system of favor trading.”
- GoFundMe? “Suddenly, scanning your social media feed can feel like a walk down BEGGAR’S LANE [sic]. Can you escape with your wallet and relationships intact?”
- #MeToo? Header cartoon of Les Moonves, Michael Cohen, and Charlie Rose at a steakhouse alongside this headline: “How to navigate eating out—and fellow diners—post disgrace.”
I rushed to buy a subscription.
In the December gift guide I was advised to style myself after Kendall Roy and I read a glossy spread about a Hearst heir getting married at the family castle. The February issue’s jewelry awards opened with a pair of necklaces, one priced $461,000 and another at $824,00, while elsewhere in the issue there was a taxonomy of the types of safari goers: the dowager countess, the honeymooners, the “mommy are we rich?” set.
While it was new to me, Town and Country‘s absurd elitism certainly wasn’t new. It’s one of the longest-running magazines in the country. When a new editor took over in 2011, the New York Times called it “an institution that has been edited, since its founding in 1846, for an affluent, ambitious reader eager to master the art of living well.” Stellene Volandes, the magazine’s editor-in-chief since 2016, is described on the website as a “known jewelry expert” who “speaks frequently on the topics of luxury and jewelry.” How T&C covers these travails of the rich isn’t trivial: Its print circulation of 425,000 is over twice ours here at Mother Jones. Movie stars grace its cover. Michael Bloomberg and Chelsea Clinton both spoke at its first “philanthropy summit” back in 2014. Serious, good journalists whose work I enjoy elsewhere, like Taffy Brodesser-Akner and Adam Gopnik, contribute to the magazine. (I have to imagine their per-word rate is great, and so hopefully the executives at Hearst ignore this article when I someday pitch them.) Much of each issue doesn’t read all that different than any other glossy magazine that peddles a vision of high-class life (GQ’s list of the best leather jackets starts with one costing nearly $7,000), but there are about two to five stories in each issue that stop me cold, awed at the way parts of the world have been reframed to best pamper the cloistered elite.
But from the outset of the pandemic, it was clear that the rich were not handling lockdown life well. Nor was the magazine. It was, like the people it covers, mostly operating in an alternate universe (one in which the net worth of billionaires soared, while over 22 million jobs were lost). And what I once found amusing, even charming-yet-cringe-inducing, now felt gross.
One week early in the pandemic, as the rich fled to their luxurious vacation homes, imprisoned the help, and sang off key covers in misguided attempts to calm the normals, I checked T&C’s website. It took a decent bit of scrolling down to find the first COVID reference, which came in a bloc on the homepage for “All the Latest Royal News.” Those stories were mostly about how various members of the royal family—even as distant as Prince George’s godfather—donated to various relief efforts. There was an entry titled “Queen Elizabeth Will Not Have a Gun Salute on Her Birthday for the First Time in Her Reign.” The tragedy.
Like many print publications—us included—T&C’s shipping schedule precluded it from focusing on COVID in the first issue to arrive after lockdown. Instead: a guide to improved face lift procedures, with doctor recommendations in NYC, Chicago, LA, and SF, and a story about how just no one wants to retire anymore, pointing, of course, to exceedingly rich retirees (written by Joel Stein, whose latest book is entitled In Defense of Elitism). The only overt mention of the coronavirus came in the opening Editor’s Letter, wherein Volandes notes the issue was started in their offices and wrapped after everyone had to be sent home. It included a staff list of favorite comforts, mostly surprisingly down-to-earth suggestions of alcohol, sugar, and exercise (and one truly shocking shoutout to Jenny Odell’s excellent anti-capitalism manifesto How to Do Nothing; Erik Maza, I see you there as a fox inside the henhouse, though your story recommending a $12,9000 watch has me thrown).
Over the coming months, the influence of the pandemic became more overt, if no less unreal. I knew the world was going to shit, but I still took some gawking pleasure in the Summer Issue, particularly the “Dreambook” of fancy vacations to take once it’s safe to travel again. One page listed “Healing Havens: Because there’s no therapy quite like travel plus treatments.” (Thankfully no mention of pseudo-science ’rona cures.) The issue also included a list of suggested simple pleasures, some of which were actually perfectly relatable. (No. 6 “Say Yes to the Martini” spoke to this writer.) But No. 13 was just too priceless (or pricey) a summation of the T&C ethos. In “Grocery Shop As If You’re Going to the Theater,” longtime Vanity Fair writer Amy Fine Collins offered this practical advice: “Because you are: the theater of the street. Getting dressed with care is a mood elevator; it’s a visual, sensual, and aesthetic pleasure. Try hunting for your disinfectant spray the way I do—in vintage Geoffrey Beene and Jen Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. jewels.”
The annual philanthropy list in that issue was cringe inducing. Alongside worthy names like Anthony Fauci and Jose Andres, there was New Orleans Pelicans owner Gayle Benson, worth more than $3 billion, getting plaudits for…not being a monster? She “guaranteed wages for workers during the closure, as did others, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis.” How benevolent of the billionaires to pay their employees. Guess that somehow counts as philanthropy?
Things were in full swing by the September issue—and with that, I was nearing my breaking point. The issue featured the aforementioned pandemic jewelry article and a multi-page spread, titled “The Bunker Boom Market,” featuring some of the most expensive home sales of the year, with Jeff Bezos’ $165 million property in Beverly Hills beating Mike Bloomberg’s $45 million Colorado ranch. “Whether they’re purchasing beachside estates, ranches on thousands of acres out West, or multiple apartments to combine into enormous urban skyscraper compounds, in 2020 the ultrawealthy paid a premium for privacy and, above all, space.”
Accompanying this spread was a sidebar about home upgrades: “Today you’ve got to drag your guests to the control room to show off the latest status symbols, like a Zehnder ventilation unit or the UV light that’s connected to your HVAC.” Leaving aside that no private residence should have a space that could be termed “the control room,” it was yet another sign that the uber-wealthy think they can buy their way out of a public health crisis while the rest of us leave our friends locked out of our houses.
It was just too much. I know I’m surely not the target audience for this—I don’t fit their reader profile of a household income of $197,000 or a net worth of $2.3 million—but it makes this “journalism” of coddling the sensibilities of the sheltered wealthy too stomach-churning in a year of staggering death tolls, racial injustice, and the worst economic crash since the Great Depression.
I left my October issue untouched for weeks, only diving in when I sat down to write this. In it I found a guide to how one should defend themselves if they were photographed with Jeffrey Epstein co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell. “To be sure, if you go out enough in New York, you run a distinct risk of being photographed with someone who later becomes infamous,” the magazine put it. Luckily, none of us are going out to parties anytime soon, and when we do eventually return to normal, if this sort of high-society sentiment is left in the garbage heap of 2020, I won’t feel too sad about it.
If you follow any part of lefty Twitter, you might have gotten the impression unions are are reviving as a force to be reckoned with. Digital newsrooms are increasingly unionizing even as the industry falls apart around us, and legacy publications like the New Yorker are finally agreeing to simple demands like not firing workers without just cause. Workers at nonprofits are realizing that they, too, need to have their labor protected. Over the past several years, teachers across the country have risen up under the Red for Ed umbrella, an inspiring bout of activism that isn’t just about fighting for their own rights as employees but also protecting their students. NBA players staged a wildcat strike to protest police violence.
I love reading a good labor success story. I’ve been co-chair of Mother Jones’ union for the past three years, and despite all the articles I’ve written or edited—and am biased to think have been brilliant—winning a strong collective bargaining agreement for my colleagues is probably my proudest achievement since I started working here seven years ago. Everyone should unionize,(I’m talking to you middle managers) and then get feisty with their bosses!
But looking beyond the unionizing surge in some areas…that’s not what’s happening broadly in the country. There are now twenty-seven states with right-to-work laws—basically laws that TK— on the books, with five states, predominantly in the old industrial Midwest, adopting such laws over the past decade. As Josh Eidelson reported for Businessweek this summer, companies spend millions annually on anti-union “labor relation consultants,” to tamp down union drives. “Each step forward [for labor]” he writes, “depends on a certain amount of luck and is vulnerable to being banned by hostile courts and politicians.”
Last year, just 10.3 percent of workers across the country belong to a union according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record low since the agency started tracking that stat in the ‘80s, and the lowest rate since WWII. That was thankfully only a slight drop from the year before, but the the counterpoint to the resurgence of union activity has been a trend of a steady decline over the past several decades.
What’s even more troubling is the fact that there’s a split in the types of workers who belong to unions. Among public sector employees, the unionization rate is 33.6 percent. But for private employers, it’s a piddling 6.2 percent. And thanks to Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus ruling, public sector unions can’t require “fair share” dues, even while they’re bargaining on behalf of workers. So far that hasn’t been as devastating as some feared at the time, but that initial ruling could have just been an opening salvo. As In These Times reported this summer, the same plaintiff Mark Janus is back before the court, petitioning that in light of the 2018 ruling, the union should be forced to refund previously collected dues. The Court’s conservative majority was already predisposed to be anti-union even before the confirmation of Amy Coney Barret , and as Jacobin noted, her track record in lower court cases is that “corporate interests prevail over workers.” With a 6-3 conservative split on the court, it’s only a matter of time before the appearance of new legal attacks on organized labor, potentially trying to expand right-to-work to the entire country.
A President Joe Biden could try to stem this worrisome trend, and he’s got an extensive plan for various ways to make organizing easier for current unions, while penalizing companies that try to punish workers trying to form unions, along with a call for card check and simpler elections. The former vice president also intends to push for a federal law to repeal the state-level right-to-work restrictions, all of which would vastly improve the landscape. Many of these plans are contained in the Protecting the Right to Organize Act that the House passed earlier this year.
Timing, as we know, is everything, and that measure passed shortly before the pandemic shut down the economy. Biden’s agenda would become law at the same time that, thanks to failures of the current Republican Senate to pass COVID stimulus, the economy will be in a dire state with millions unemployed. So far, it’s unclear how job losses have been distributed between union and non-union workers. With heavily unionized workforces like the airline industry furloughing and laying off workers, the numbers from the Department of Labor next year won’t be pretty. Plus, the lack of federal aid means state and local government budgets might have to be slashed drastically, potentially cutting into those heavily unionized workforces. But still, anxious as I am, I keep trying to reassure myself with the fact that maybe lefty twitter is on to something, and the spirit of these smaller union organizing drives could lead to a broader revitalization nationally. As the namesake of our magazine put it: “The first thing is to raise hell,” says I. “That’s always the first thing to do when you’re faced with an injustice and you feel powerless. That’s what I do in my fight for the working class.”
I was 16 years old when Lorde, who is just seven months older than me, released her first album, Pure Heroine, a spare, synth pop ode to the highs and lows of life as a suburban teen. Of all the songs that played on repeat at the ice cream shop “in a torn-up town” where I worked in high school, “Royals” was the only one I never got sick of.
Lorde aged with me, releasing Melodrama 11 days after my 20th birthday. This was a concept album, more ambitious and expansive than her first, framed around a night of partying in the wake of heartbreak. They say that adolescents experience emotions more intensely than adults; Lorde leans into the melodrama, swinging from euphoria on “Green Light” to a theatrical sort of woe for “Liability.” I leaned into the melodrama too. I remember listening to the album late at night as I rode the subway home from a different ice cream scooping job, the one I had in college. I would stare at my reflection in the darkened train car window and sense the freedom and the terror of being alone in a big city. Something in Lorde’s voice told me she had sensed it too.
Lorde knows that her diehard fans are getting hungry for new music. In May, she sent an email to fans telling them that she was working “something of the highest quality” and encouraging them to savor the wait. “I can tell you, this new thing, it’s got its own colours now,” she wrote. And last month, she hinted on her Instagram story that she might release music in 2021, telling her followers that if they voted, “Next year I’ll give you something in return.”
This year, I turned 23 in isolation, in a city whose subways no longer ran late at night, where sirens replaced the booming baselines of the parties Melodrama describes, crowded parties now relegated to my nightmares. Some musicians have fashioned albums out of the quiet days of quarantine, like Charli XCX with her anti-party how i’m feeling now and Fiona Apple with the introspective Fetch the Bolt Cutters. But I trust that Lorde, who turns 24 on November 7, will capture, unlike anyone else, that petty sense of losing the world I was just coming to know with adult eyes. And so I hope for new Lorde music, no matter when it may be released, to accompany and sustain me as I continue growing up in this strange reality.
There have been a lot of strange headlines over the past half year, but a Pitchfork article in August about a Brooklyn press conference featuring Chuck Schumer and LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy is still probably the story I had least expected to read. Schumer, the longtime booster of New York’s finance industry and a hood ornament for the cleaned-up era of the city, seemed like just the sort of Bloomberg-like politician whom Murphy had bemoaned in “New York I Love You, But You’re Bring Me Down.” But the oddball combo had teamed up for a good cause, Save Our Stages, a call to devote funds to concert venues that had been shut down thanks to COVID.
For the past seven years I’ve lived in a sometimes too crowded old group house, suffering through molding plaster and a rotating cast of roommates (some dear friends, others morally decrepit craigslist strangers). Beyond my landlord not recognizing that he could be charging far higher rent, one of its key selling points is that it’s less than a mile walk from five of the best music venues in the nation’s capital, ranging from the cramped, 250-person capacity second floor stage of DC9 to the storied 930 Club. But of the bunch, the U Street Music Hall has always held a special place in the dark, sweaty basement of my heart, and in early October it announced that it was closing permanently, at a time when it was also supposed to be celebrating its tenth anniversary in the city. “The reality is there aren’t going to be any shows for six months to a year, especially in a basement dance club,” the owner told the Washington Post. “That’s just not conducive to today’s environment.”
Before the pandemic, I’d usually go to a few concerts a month. My friend group’s email chain titled “Winter/Spring Concerts” is up to 162 messages since it started on January 2, with a whole calendar of shows mapped out through the summer before the thread turned to lamenting cancellations, and then venue closures. U Street Music Hall was always a regular for me. It had shit but cheap beer; the bathroom lines were often too long thanks to a lack of stalls and too many people trying to find a discreet spot to take Molly or other substances; unless you were at the front of the stage during a sold-out show, you might’ve spent the night watching a support beam. But it had the best sound system in the city, an eclectic mix of genres booked, and was the best spot in the city to dance until late at night while DJs spun. It was the sort of place where I got to watch a short, intimate set from Robyn after she had opened for Coldplay at the NBA arena earlier in the night, or catch Charli XCX for one of her first stops in the US, and a home to local bands taking the step up from house shows.
Congress’ inability (mostly thanks to Mitch McConnell’s intransigence) to pass extra stimulus is galling for a whole host of reasons, as unemployment soars beyond anything faced during the Great Recession a decade ago. They passed widespread business support, but unless you’re a favorite like airlines, the businesses that are particularly harmed by the pandemic have been left to fend for themselves with no targeted relief. The stories of endless lines at food pantries and the coming wave of evictions are truly horrifying. And while restaurants and other businesses that closed during the early lockdown days slowly reopen, it’s hard to imagine a world where concert clubs reopen until there’s a vaccine. The bartenders, bouncers, sound and light engineers, and touring musicians who rely on that for their income are being left behind. And a core part of the fabric that makes cities vibrant and artistic will disappear along the way.
By happenstance, one of the last shows I went to before the pandemic shut everything down was a late January James Murphy DJ set at U St Music Hall. It was a crazy night, I was still jet-lagged from a west coast red-eye flight back that morning, but friends stayed out dancing until we were all exhausted messes at 3 a.m. I can’t wait until I can once again stay out all night in sweaty, close dancing quarters with all of my friends, and dear lord I hope at least a few of these concert venues are still alive when the pandemic is over.
Yes, it’s true, things are bad. Now let me introduce you to my friend Anne. I was the nerdy one, she was the artist who taught me how to put on makeup (ok, still does). Then 2020 happened, and I watched her grow her own quarantined activism zone, using social media to urge her friends to vote and politely arguing with the Karens and the male-Karens in the comments. Sure, the polls suggest an increase in voter engagement this year, but seeing it up close in people I actually know didn’t give a real shit before gives me hope that people will demand action on our biggest challenges, from systemic racism to climate change.
I texted Anne to see if I could interview her. Here’s what she said:
Here’s the conversation that followed:
Fox’s The Masked Singer is the greatest, most deranged acid trip of a show on television the past few years. An adaptation of a South Korean series, it premiered in January 2019 and is perfect for the surreal times of the Trump era. A panel of awful judges (Jenny McCarthy and Robin Thicke? Really?), try to guess the identity of usually c- or d-list celebrities in elaborate, dystopian outfits so ornate that the show dethroned RuPaul’s Drag Race this year to win the Emmy for reality TV costumes. The first season featured Terry Bradshaw in a serial killer-esque deer costume, and Joey Fatone went method in a creepy Donnie Darko-styled rabbit costume. The finale ended with T-Pain winning the contest by showing he had an amazing voice and didn’t need auto-tune (though an adorable monster costume helped). Then, in season 2, Wayne Brady’s performance as steampunk fox was a thing of true beauty.
So I was excited when I saw it was among the early batch of TV shows beginning to come back after COVID shut down Hollywood production. And it seemed like a natural for the social distance era, since they’ve made great hay about the elaborate security lengths taken to keep the identities of the contestants secret. And when host Nick Cannon came onstage for the first episode that aired in late September, he opened with a knowing joke. “Finally we have something fun involving masks,” he said as a CGI T-Rex roared behind him.
But then the show started…and there was a full studio audience of unmasked people dancing along to the music and cheering wildly. What the hell? It looked like the most COVID-unsafe setting imaginable. After some frantic googling, I realized it was all a ruse, with past footage and sleight-of-hand digital editing superimposing past crowd footage onto a mostly empty set. But this is hardly obvious. Unless you did online research, you’d only know it by reading the small-font, fast-scrolling credits which state, “Due to health restrictions, visuals of audience featured in this episode included virtual shots as well as shots from past seasons.” (I only was able to read the full thing by pausing Hulu.)
“It feels that through virtual reality and composite and reaction shots, we managed to create the feeling that there were people in the room,” a Fox exec told Deadline.
But this is horribly, horribly irresponsible. Yes, TV shows can serve as a brief respite from the panic and overwhelming dread of our current moment. But we’re still living amidst a dangerous pandemic, currently entering its third peak, that has killed over 218,000 Americans at the time of this writing. Fatigue at restrictions has set in, and too much of the country is trying to act as if things are back to normal. TV doesn’t need to foster that.
What’s especially frustrating is that in all other matters, the show is exceeeeedingly contrived in a knowing way. Last season, Lil Wayne was the first contestant sent home, while somehow Rob Gronkowski’s rapping propelled him on for several more episodes. During the current run, Busta Rhymes was likewise the first ejected even though the Dragon slayed a cover of LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Clearly it’s a show rigged to allow the famous celebrities to come on for just one episode, even if they’re more talented than their peers, and the show does little to hide this phenomenon. (In the second episode this year, Mickey Rourke didn’t even want to play along with the ruse and immediately demasked himself after his performance.) The amount of winking at the camera is part of its charm. The show could have easily come up with some trick to keep the silly magic (a CGIed audience of judge Ken Jeong filling the stands?) without alienating viewers.
Instead, Fox hopes it can trick viewers and pretend life is just fine. It only makes me dread what Jenny McCarthy might say if there’s a vaccine available by the time they film the next season.
In a recent video for Cameo, the popular app that lets everyday nobodies like you and me hire celebrities to star in short, personalized greetings, our recruited star delivered. “Happy birthday, Tina!” Jim O’Heir, the actor beloved for playing Jerry in NBC’s Parks and Recreation, bellowed into the camera.
“I did hear from the gang,” he continued, name-checking the senders of Tina’s birthday wishes. “I heard from—so I don’t screw it up—Inae, I believe I’m saying that correctly—and Jen, Shannon, and Marc.” O’Heir continued, performing a delightfully absurd ode to Li’l Sebastian and echoing our hopes for 2020 to burn.
It was a minor moment in the six-minute video but as someone who has had her name mercilessly botched—”Ho Eenie,” “Eye-NAH,” “In-UH”—since childhood, the memory of substitute teachers still sparking some panic as I flashback to dreaded morning roll calls, O’Heir’s concerted effort to properly pronounce it came as a relief. It was an oddly intimate, albeit small, joy attached to a profoundly silly gift. “He didn’t absolutely butcher your name,” a friend noted in a private Instagram comment, one of several people to similarly notice. “Super impressed.”
So, when Republican Sen. David Perdue started intentionally mucking up Kamala Harris’ name, to say that I was less than “super impressed” is putting it mildly. “KAH-mah-lah? Kah-MAH-lah? Kamala-mala-mala?” the Georgia senator asked supporters at a Trump rally. “I don’t know, whatever.” The crowd roared.
For most people watching from afar, the overt racism animating Perdue’s performance was difficult to ignore. While mispronouncing non-white names is often indeed an innocent, unintentional mistake, one typically amended upon the first clarification, Harris is a historic vice presidential nominee and former presidential candidate. Perdue is her colleague in the Senate, where she reigns as one of the most prominent women in American politics. He, meanwhile, is something of a GOP backbencher from Georgia now locked in a tight reelection fight against a 33-year-old, never-before-elected Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff. To feign ignorance to Harris’ name with a breezy, “I don’t know, whatever,” after Donald Trump and others in the GOP resurrected untrue, birther conspiracy-style attacks to question her eligibility, is simply unbelievable—though the cheers responding to Perdue’s remarks show that they had landed precisely as intended. (Plus, while not the most important detail here, Perdue wasn’t even being particularly original; his peers, including the president himself, have repeatedly screwed up Harris’ name as red meat for the base.)
Perdue’s office has since denied the charges of racism, claiming, unconvincingly, that “he didn’t mean anything by it.”
But even if you do acknowledge the racism seething in Perdue’s mockery, it’s still easy for some to couch it as a small offense against the cascade of unrelenting bigotry flowing from the current White House. That caveat may be warranted, but don’t be fooled: That doesn’t make Perdue’s salvo of “KAH-mah-lah” any less repugnant. Mere seconds into watching Perdue, I recalled the resentment I once held toward my immigrant parents, who, from the perspective of a first-generation teenager growing up in an overwhelmingly white community in New Jersey, had burdened me with the strange, inconvenient stumble of letters that spelled out “Inae.” When the mispronunciations arrived intentionally—as they did countless times by neighborhood dummies and parents of school friends—the hate was instantly recognizable. “You can call me whatever,” is what I’d reflexively offer, hoping to signal that I was at once easy-going and immune to their contempt. Meanwhile, a slow-burning bitterness was building up. Little did I know that I had been green-lighting attempts of erasure.
That desperate willingness to conform faded during college, and I’ve long since embraced what used to make me recoil. The decision to keep my name upon getting married and to decline being rebranded with my partner’s surname, White, was borne more out of a love for my Korean name and family, less out of my feminist leanings. Plus, “Inae White” is wholly ridiculous. As an adult, I no longer experience the anxiety of introductions. But antics like Perdue’s still strike a deeply familiar chord. That makes it all the more lovely when strangers like O’Heir go the short but meaningful distance to get it right. Come November, perhaps we’ll be hearing less “Perdue” and more “Ossoff” in the world. Give it a few more years, and maybe non-white names will overtake the Davids.
I live in the southern edge of San Francisco, near Jerry Garcia’s childhood home, where gathering places are few and far between and, judging by the line, Friday night’s hottest ticket is a seat at Popeye’s. So when Excelsior Coffee Shop opened in 2019, the sleek new spot quickly became the talk of the neighborhood. The young owners emblazoned the front window of their shotgun Mission Street space with proud gold-letters and a local artist bedecked the top of the building with a geometric mural. A motorcycle is parked on a shelf overhanging the communal table, and the walls are plastered with photographs of the neighborhood’s past.
The espresso is always smooth, the Saturday morning breakfast sandwiches have 90s hip-hop inspired names—try the Missy Eggliot—and every day the pastry case boasts fresh Filipino-inspired tarts flavored with ube and pandan. The welcoming staff give the intimidatingly hip café a cozy and communal vibe. Even with our masks muffling our words, I trade film recommendations with the baristas (Albert suggests The Black Power Mixtape) or fall into spontaneous discussions about city politics with people in line.
And then the shutdowns were imposed nearly everywhere (for very justifiable public health reasons), and I found my anxiety spiking when I considered the fate of independent businesses like Excelsior Coffee Shop. Just two months into the pandemic, the number of people owning small ventures had nosedived by 22 percent, and it sadly should come as no surprise that immigrants and African-American, Latinx, Asian-American, and female-run businesses suffered disproportionate losses.
It is too easy to contemplate how this will all turn out without a federal strategy to care for people working in these types of small ventures. As the pandemic lingers, the absence of a national mask mandate and frequent testing makes COVID-19 spiral even more out of control, sickening millions of servers and store clerks. A lack of federal stimulus will force most small shops to shutter. Then, it’s just a matter of time, assuming no larger intervention, when workers at small employers will lose the social safety net of Obamacare and ditch small workplaces in favor of large corporate conglomerates. Immigrants who own and staff many of the Bay Area’s best restaurants may end up being forced to flee the United States because of its hostile culture and policies.
If a successful vaccine ever arrives, chains will have taken over, eclipsing cityscapes with their jewel-toned billboards and forced anodyne slogans. My lunch options will consist of Chipotle, Popeyes, and Sweetgreen. Rather than walk to the leather store to get my boots fixed, with a stop at the Italian bakery for an almond cookie on the way home, I remain in front of my computer screen and send the boots out for repair via Amazon drone. (Research by Adobe shows that people spent more time online in April and May than they did during last year’s holiday splurge season.)
When I want to buy a new book, my only option is to log onto Amazon because all brick and mortar bookstores will have been swallowed whole by this evil jungle, and along with them their handwritten recommendation tags, social-justice inspired children’s books, weekly author readings, and MFA students working the cash register, who clearly judge my Outlander purchase but whose eyes light up when I ask if Maggie Nelson’s Bluets would be filed under nonfiction or poetry.
How could places like Excelsior Coffee Shop stay afloat? They can’t. The only cafés that manage to stay open serve barely palatable dark roast and blast either Norah Jones or Kanye from their speakers every day, every month of the year—because they’re all owned by Starbucks. (Playlist available for purchase along with your seasonal latte.) A future far bleaker than even the worst coffee withdrawal headache.
There are two types of people in this world: Those who think inhaling dystopic fiction during a time of national crisis, environmental chaos, and global pandemic verges on insanity—and those who can’t get enough of speculative renderings of our eventual collapse.
For those in the second category, get pumped for December 17, when CBS airs the first of nine episodes of The Stand, yet another mini-series version of Stephen King’s 1978 apocalyptic classic about a future in which 99 percent of humans have been wiped out by an engineered flu. King even wrote a new ending for the story, which is partially set in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado, and features characters played by Amber Heard, Whoopi Goldberg, Alexander Skarsgard, and Jovan Adepo.
And, hey, by the time we reach December, this dark fantasy probing the limits of evil and human decency might even feel downright optimistic. “Over the last however-many years, we have sort of taken for granted the structure of democracy,” co-creator Benjamin Cavell told Vogue. “Now, so much of that is being ripped down to the studs. It’s interesting to see a story about people who are rebuilding it from the ground up.” Who needs kettle corn when you have sweet, sweet catharsis?
Look, I’m not proud. I’m not here to argue Billy Joel is “good” or “cool” by the measure of people who know about such things, which has never been me. And I’m definitely not going to defend Long Island, New York, where both Billy Joel and I are from, especially after the viral clip of anti-mask protesters harassing a local reporter in May did such a wonderful job encapsulating many things I neither love nor miss about “the Island.”
But now, a smidge over six months into shelter-in-place, I’m in the same boat as a lot of people: It’s been nearly a year since I’ve seen my family, and Facetime, at this point, just isn’t cutting it. So when I tell you a 96-page songbook of the Piano Man’s classics boiled down to a 3rd-grade music-reading level is giving me life, it’s not out of self-respect. It’s because I’ve found a silly, precious source of hope to cut through daily panic, homesickness, and tedium.
Billy Joel might be solipsistic sentimental slop, but I am too, lately. And to me, his songs are home: the album permanently entombed in our old CD player, a mainstay of every local classic rock radio station, the omnipresent soundtrack to shopping and dining out, car rides, and family get togethers. Listening to Billy Joel on Long Island was like breathing air. We—my sister and I—could never get away from it, which was honestly fine. We knew the words. Sometimes we sang them, sometimes we didn’t.
But today, from the other side of the country and looking at God-knows-how-long until I can safely take a flight back to visit my folks, I’m belting out “My Life” and “Movin’ Out” at the keyboard while my fingers struggle to catch up to my enthusiasm. I haven’t practiced reading music since high school, and it feels like reactivating a part of my brain that slipped into anesthesia long before the pandemic numbed the rest of me. But every so often, as I stare at the staff, my right hand will hit a few intervals in a riff that feels like something approximating rhythm. And my left hand, without involving my head, will identify and press the correct note from the bassline.
I have this vision of going home “after COVID,” whatever that means, and playing some of these tunes on my parents’ old upright. Maybe at that point, they’ll sound a little better. Maybe I’ll be a little better then, too. After 2020, it’s something to look forward to.
I am often baffled by the amount of time I have spent staring at Donald Trump’s face.
As a graphic designer, Photoshop is both my playmate and my business partner. When I worked in the ad world, my days often consisted of stitching together compiled stock images into scenes—elaborate storyboards made to convince consumers to try the newest lunchtime snack or platinum-level credit card. And while I found the premise of most ads to be tiresome, the variety of storylines at least kept things interesting. I was, admittedly, quite naive about what shifting from advertising to news design in the Trump era would entail, but after nearly two years at Mother Jones here is what I know: I severely underestimated the sheer volume of hours I would log navigating every crease, every hair, every pore of Donald J. Trump, pixel by tangerine pixel.
Now, the almost daily task of Photoshopping Trump has not come without the occasional perks. There were the times I got to copy edit his face into devil horns, toss him into a tornado, or turn him into an astrologer. It’s certainly been a good mental exercise in all the visual solutions available for the problem of TRUMP + EVIL. And while you’d be hard pressed to find his body in any position other than sitting, screaming, or golfing, I must say that his snarls and scowls rival those of most villains. The Donald may be a horrific commander-in-chief, but villain is a part that face was born to play.
However, I do not relish the fact that I know Trump’s moods so well that I can pinpoint which types of events I should search to find the correct facial expressions (MAGA rallies are generally the only place to source an emotion other than boredom or disgust.) There are times I worry I can read his moods better than my own. And while I appreciate the Photoshop skill-building required to maintain the appropriate, let’s say, transparency, of his coiffed mane, I take no joy in intimately knowing the contours of the man’s ears. That secret geography should remain between Trump and whatever God still bothers to answer. Cataloging the utter atrocities committed by this administration and its bronzed leader is heavy enough, without having to determine where his chin ends and his neck starts every day.
But there’s potentially a new septuagenarian on the horizon for my Pen Tool and me. New wrinkles to cut around, new age spots to maneuver. The sweet relief of a boring subject feels just around the corner.
The way prosecutors have handled Breonna Taylor’s death deserves a top spot on the list of rage-inducers. None of the police officers are facing charges for killing her. Sure, one officer was indicted for firing his gun into a neighboring home, damaging some walls. But isn’t that more insulting? The fact that our use-of-force laws make it easier to punish cops for property damage than for murder is one of this country’s biggest failures. As my colleague Nathalie Baptiste so sharply put it, “It seems as if due process and the presumption of innocence can be flexible concepts, deployed for the convenience of law enforcement. For others, especially Black people, that right is often stripped away.”
Let’s also talk about how shady the lead prosecutor, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, has been on this case. In a press briefing, he insisted that officers knocked and announced themselves before barging into Taylor’s home in the middle of the night. But he failed to mention that about a dozen witnesses said they didn’t hear knocking or an announcement. Only one witness claimed to hear the police announce themselves—and that witness initially told investigators he hadn’t heard anything.
What’s more galling, though, is what we’re still learning about how Cameron conducted himself. He says he presented all the evidence to the grand jury that decided whether to indict the officers. But in late October, an anonymous juror released a startling statement alleging that Cameron never gave them the option to pursue murder charges. “The grand jury did not have homicide offenses explained to them,” the juror wrote. “The grand jury never heard anything about those laws.” Cameron says he presented all the facts, but it seems like the police’s side of the story was the side he cared about most. That’s not justice, and certainly not the kind of justice Breonna Taylor deserved.
I’m angry about this firing:
Ashley Spinks is a journalist in Virginia who was responsible for putting together her town’s weekly newspaper, the Floyd Press, all by herself—because all the other reporters and editors were previously laid off. She was essentially a one-woman newsroom. Then in October, her employer, Lee Enterprises, one of the largest corporate newspaper chains in the country, fired her too—because she spoke with another publication about how hard her job was. And they did it three days before her wedding, which she says her bosses knew about. In a time when local newspapers are suffering financial peril—not to mention repeated verbal bashing from President Trump and actual physical danger—a media company firing a paper’s last standing reporter for speaking with another reporter feels like a blow too far.
The last cool place I went before everything shut down was Death Valley National Park, which in addition to all the famous parts also includes one non-contiguous, 40-acre parcel within the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada. The site is called Devil’s Hole. It is a deep underwater cave system nestled in the crag of a scrubby hill whose name I don’t know offhand but in my opinion should be called Devil’s Hill. The Mansons thought the cave was the entrance to underworld, which is not true, but not so wrong that it requires changing the name. According to the National Park Service, the water in Devil’s Hole is 92-degrees year-round—pretty hot!—and the bottom of the cavern “has never been mapped.” Dun dun dun. Devil’s Hole was protected by the park because it is the only remaining habitat on the planet for a tiny little cyprinodontidae, about the size of a silver dollar, called the Devil’s Hole Pupfish.
Over the years, in the interest of preserving this habitat, we—the government, taxpayers, whatever—have turned the hole into something resembling a mini-Supermax prison. When I visited in February, the perimeter was lined with a tall chain link fence with barbed wire on top. There are security cameras along the perimeter and underwater, motion sensors, and seismic monitoring systems. To see the fish, you walk up the hill, through a door in the fence, and then down a long cage-like enclosure to an overlook of an overlook that offers a partial glimpse of the pool from a considerable height above it. Did I see any pupfish? I’ve convinced myself that I did, but it might have just been shadows. There is something wonderfully dissonant about such a magnificent apparatus for something almost invisible. One thinks of Ian Malcom, passing through Isla Nublar, wondering, ah, if there any dinosaurs on the, ah, dinosaur tour.
Being a Devil’s Hole Pupfish is a precarious thing. Their lives are spent in quarantine; they can never leave their home. In fact, they will never travel more than a few feet. Other species of pupfish live in nearby parts of Ash Meadows, but they are forever distanced. Human-induced changes in the water table threaten the Devil’s Hole habitat, as do cruder forms of interference—like when three drunk men broke into the site in 2016, discharged firearms and vomited, and one of them swam naked in the pool, killing a pupfish. (Not a metaphor for our times, just a thing that happened.) The Devil’s Hole Pupfish population has dropped precipitously over the last few decades, and climate change probably isn’t going to do any favors for one of the most immobile populations on earth.
They lack many of the qualities that might sustain other species in the anthropocene. Pupfish are not good to eat—oh God, do not even get any ideas—and you cannot train them to do tricks. I nearly ruined my rental car to perhaps not even see them. And yet we, and they, persist. At a nearby facility, scientists have built a 100,000-gallon, 22-foot-deep replica of Devil’s Hole in an attempt to build up a sort of backup population of pupfish. The park service doubled down on its security measures after the break-in.
Fences are failures, in many ways—an indictment of people’s propensity to destroy, or in different circumstances, a monument to our fears. But I choose to view this apparatus in a different light. We built a cordon around the rest of the world so that these glorious cave guppies can still live free. It was a weird parting thought these last few months, as humanity frantically scrambled to distance itself from itself. Saving the Pupfish certainly won’t save us. It might not even save them. But in a fucked-up world (I refer you again to the Mansons), we’re trying. I’ll take hope where I can.
On the eve of the presidential election, one the New York Times warns poses the “greatest threat to American democracy” since the Second World War, it comes as a nearly impossible, herculean task to consider what exactly everyday Americans have witnessed over the past four years. There’s the unchecked cruelty. Shameless corruption. Rampant racism and xenophobia. Deadly incompetence.
But there’s also just been some unequivocal “weird shit.” The kind of bonkers, epoch-making shit that four years later, I still find it difficult to characterize with satisfaction. It’s certainly been relentless, alternatingly distressing and hysterical, and, on many occasions, it swallowed entire news cycles. We saw the weird shit take many forms, from bean sponcon to sharpies, too many White House gaggles. But taking a beat to reflect on the heaping pile of shit left in the wake of the first and potentially only Trump term, it’s @realDonaldTrump—the uncontrolled spigot of misinformation, bigotry, and dumb—that perhaps more than any other feature of the weird shit that haunts me most.
At the outset, we mostly saw things like “covfefe,” an internet obsession over a typo that now, after an endless supply of infinitely worse material, hits tragically naive. Our nascent relationship with Trump tweets was reflected in all the ink spilled over whether to take the garbage seriously, particularly from old media guards who believed it beneath them to cover such filth. But that thinking utterly backfired as Trump’s grab bag of dystopia became official government policy, White House announcement, clear windows into a hateful, insecure mind. Recommendations to ignore the tweets had applied the same misguided notion that turning a blind eye to racist dog-whistles will somehow make the racism disappear.
As a writer whose paycheck relies on staying close to the news of the moment, Trump tweets have been something of an unlikely assignment editor for these cursed times. Four years on, I can say that I feel mostly OK with how I approached this strange and unfortunate task. (Someone’s gotta pick up the shit, right?) But so many have botched the assignment, and continue to do so. Those standing at the false altar of objectivity and centrism still breathlessly repeat untrue tweets verbatim and still decline to label outright lies and racism as just that. When it comes to the weirdest of the weird shit, some still try to treat it as something entirely different, hoping to wring presidential behavior out of, well, weird shit. This unimpeachable failure has been exacerbated by repetition, and it’s left me bone-tired.
It’s a small thing against the cascade of horrors we’ve seen from this White House, but for the sake of democracy and my brain, I look forward to the day that @realDonaldTrump ends. I’m also incredibly anxious that it never will. Once upon a time, I had ambition as a writer. Today, I’m burnt out, with a steaming pile of weird shit to show for it.
An edited transcript of a Slack conversation between me and my editor about the Lincoln Project, the NeverTrump-led organization that has managed to emerge as Resistance icons—despite the fact that the tireless work of all their now proud, ever-so-concerned-never-Trumpers led to the mess we are in.
Me: I can’t tell you how many times in the last few months I’ve yelled, “Oh, now I’M the asshole.”
My editor: LOL, that would be a great Lincoln Project ad
Me: Except, I hate them.
My editor: Fair, but why do you hate them? Because they made such a fucking mess of the world and are now backing off?
Me: Yes. They’re essentially Victor Frankenstein in the crowd with a pitchfork. Every thing they did to the Republican Party led to this moment.
My editor: Yeah…totally right.
Me: And now they get to be all, “Oooh, my precious country!” Like, fuck off, you built it this way!
My editor: This could be a great post. NOT that I will ever force you to do one.
Me: I feel like [redacted] likes them.
My editor: That’s probably true, but you do have the facts on your side.
Me: Republicans really need to leave Abraham Lincoln alone. He’s dead, let that man rest.
My Editor: When I looked at Steve Schmidt who was responsible for pushing Sarah Palin onto the Republican ticket in 2008, thereby legitimizing the crazies in the party, I wanted to say, “You are to blame!”
Me: Watching MSNBC with him and Nicole Wallace being all “Oooh, those Republicans are so pesky!” Gee, whose fault is that?
My editor: LOL, love “pesky,” Yes, we do know know whose fault it is. But to really find out we can look forward to the Lincoln Project’s collective mea culpa book tour.
Me: “Here’s my book on how I was cancelled, I am also a contributing talking head on CNN!” Like damn, CANCEL ME INSTEAD. 😩
My editor: Yeah, 100 percent. Everyone loves the reformed sinner, I suppose. But they seem to have amnesia.
Me: They’re not so much reformed as just pretending it never happened. I mean Rick Wilson was tweeting racist things in 2015. Now he’s a resistance hero? Forgiveness works in mysterious ways.
My editor: Well, so does repentance.
Me: Makes me wish cancel culture was real.