Tag Archives: Trump

The End or “It’s Going to be All Right.”

DSC_0972This is the last installment of the JJ story.  Thanks to all the readers who’ve stuck with it and offered encouragement and criticism over the years.  I’ve pulled all the entries together and, with some fleshing and spackling, I think I’ll have a pretty good book for you in the not so distant not too near future.  Take care and honor your inner JJ.  -Dave

Later, after work and a shower and falling asleep at 4:00 AM next to Lila in bed, JJ had a dream.

He was in his family’s house, as it was when he was a child. He was downstairs, alone, but aware of an adult presence upstairs. He felt like he had done something wrong, something that would be found out, and he had an urge to confess. He needed to preempt the discovery and control the story and consequences to follow. He went upstairs.

The door to his parent’s room was ajar and AM radio was playing. WCBS New York. Phony hectic newsroom sounds and top of the hour news chimes. Something about a beheading in the Middle East and an early snowstorm in the Northeast. He nudged the door open and saw Donald Trump looking out the window to the backyard. Trump turned and beckoned. “Look at all this,” he said. “It’s going to be all right.” JJ joined him at the window that usually looked out over the back driveway and basketball hoop, out over the houses on the street behind. Instead there was a vast American prairie, a rolling golden prairie as far as the eye could see with a dazzling blue sky marred only by a great plume of smoke rising on the horizon. “It’s going to be all right,” Donald Trump said and put his hand on JJ’s shoulder.

JJ woke. It was light and he was alone in his own bed, in his own house, on his farm that wasn’t a farm. Out the window, the trees were bare and there was light snow falling. The distant hilltop looked indistinct and gauzy because of the falling snow. He heard footsteps downstairs then the sound of a spoon in a cup or bowl.

Lila. Living with Lila.  Present day.

It was 10:12 on a Saturday morning in mid November. He would get dressed and have breakfast with Lila. Then off to the noontime meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, where other people, more or less just like him, would talk about the Bermuda Triangle of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. He and Lila would go to lunch or a movie and make holiday plans and maybe bigger plans, too. Then, he would go to work with Carl to bake all those bagels for Sunday morning.

Later on, at the coffee shop, JJ and Lila sat across from each other. They had visited the used bookstore and they read and sipped as people talked and moved past them. JJ tried to read Rousseau, A Discourse on Inequality, on Carl’s recommendation. Too much discourse, not enough getting to the point.  Lila read a novel by Anne Tyler.

JJ looked up. “Before we go home, maybe I’ll buy a lottery ticket.”

Lila kept looking at her book. “How’d that work out the last time?”

JJ smiled. “I’d do things differently this time.”

“If it were only that simple,” Lila said.

“Things are never that simple.”

“Things are never simple,” Lila agreed. “You can set things in motion…”

”And then you’re just a bozo on the bus, along for the ride.”

“Or you’re just a bozo.”

JJ could only smile and nod and sip his coffee.  It was going to be all right.

 

 

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“It’s All Political Now”

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JJ and Carl, reconciled, waiting to bake the bagels.

They stood behind the bagel shop, Carl smoking and talking, JJ looking across at the empty skate park bathed in yellowish street light. The trees were mostly bare of leaves now and the scene looked bereft and jaundiced, some long suspected inner disease finally showing itself on the surface.

“It’s all political now,” Carl said. “Everything. You can’t even stand in line at CVS without thinking, ‘Did he vote for him?’ ‘Did she?’ It’s like trying to spot vampires in daylight. And you know they’re ashamed.”

“They’re not monsters.”

“But the results will be monstrous.”

“They’re just people. People are angry.”

“Yeah. They want simple answers for a complex world. They want what they think was promised them without realizing they grew up in a relatively peaceful time in our nation’s history of blood and mayhem. Post WWII. Then post Cold War. But the rest of the world doesn’t care. The rich don’t care about the American Dream for everybody else. They’ll allow the average Joe just enough to have an Xbox or flat screen or some shitty pickup truck. But they’ll keep the rest and convince those ignorant suckers that they care about making America great. News flash: America’s never been great for a lot of people.”

“You’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this,” JJ said with a smile. “I suspect the last baker didn’t do a lot of listening.”

“Yeah well, he was limited. He could talk about online gaming and that’s about it. I don’t even know what that is. I may be a baker but I read Marx, I read Thoreau, I read Rousseau. This shit going on today? It thrives on ignorance.”

JJ looked at the empty skate park and thought back to summer nights when there were kids skating out there until after dark with their languid movements and sudden bursts of energy required for their tricks. They wore wool hats, even in the heat. It all seemd pretty simple. Enjoy yourself, do your work, think about places to go and how to get there.

“How’s Anne?”

“It’s good at home,” Carl said. “But, y’know what? I think she voted for him. She says she didn’t, but I think…I think she shows the signs. She wants people to pay.”

“Hmm.”

“You’re not surprised?”

JJ thought of Tess and Cody and the keystone cops desperation of their scheme to get their ranch back. “Nothing surprises me.”

“Nothing?”

“It’s a blessing and a curse.”

They heard the oven buzzer go off through the closed back door. Preheating was done, baking temperature had been reached, 550 degrees.

“It’s time,” Carl said.

“194 dozen?”

“No dude, we’re booming. 222 dozen these days.”

“This is going to hurt,” JJ said.

“It’ll come back to you. Muscle memory. Your body remembers the old patterns.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

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The Next Right Thing

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Lila was in the hotel room, lying on the bed, shoes still on, jacket on, ready to move. She didn’t trust the new front desk clerk to call her but she couldn’t sit in the lobby anymore. The endless drone of cable news. Trump, Hillary and the talking heads. Trump’s supporters, angry and dishonest, Hillary’s supporters optimistic and dishonest. All, Lila thought, missing the point. You just do the next right thing in life. You just do it the best you can and then move on to the next right thing. Mistakes, bad things, they happen. Just do what’s in front of you, then do the next thing. What’s so hard about that?

But what if the next thing is the same old thing? And the same old thing again?

Lila dozed and thought of JJ. She saw him in weird vivid flashes: silhouetted against a campfire, pacing. Ranting about how stupid and dishonest people were. She saw him sitting and reading in a chair, laughing suddenly at something in the book. “What’s funny,” she would ask but she knew how he would answer. “Nothing.” Parts of him, parts of most men, never grow past 15 years old, closed off for good. She felt the feelings of the early days, excitement and rebellion, them against the world. Them against old people who had no clue. He made her question her parents for the first time in her life and that felt wrong but exciting.

The phone rang.

She came to, a little groggy, and picked up the receiver.

“Hello.”

“He just came in.” The desk clerk.

“Where is he?”

“He’s talking to the manager.”

“I’m coming down,” she said and hung up.

She went to the door, but caught herself in the mirror as she went past. She paused and looked. Disheveled, rumpled, tired. Lila did a finger comb and a hair patting thing. Then her eyes twinkled and she laughed. She had come across the country to rescue JJ from this latest escapade. He had been on a drunken binge, had probably blacked out, sleeping who knows where, and had left his stuff behind in this hotel. And she was concerned with how her hair looked.

One of the things she loved about JJ, maybe THE thing she loved, was that he always brought home the absurdity of it all.

She laughed again and went out the door.

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Radio Nowhere

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Driving through the Rockies. The grandeur of endless sky and brooding mountains, unmovable and implacable, sometimes inspiring and sometimes daunting depending on mood, light, and clouds. JJ, alternately hopeful and defeated, turned on the satellite radio of his rental Camaro. Radio nowhere. A news station talked of the coming election he had barely noticed during the past months. Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton. Life was obviously getting more bizarre, not less, outside JJ’s world. He sped along mountain roads, an unwitting landowner, fleeing from would-be modern day marauders. By God, they would not get his land!

 

“…the furor over remarks caught on tape about groping women…”

“Hillary would be wise to let him have the rope to hang himself.”

“You mean, stay silent? Whether she likes it or not, she’s got to speak on issues that concern women. Unwanted groping, I would say, is a concern to most women.”

“Agreed, but the message has to be a broad message. She doesn’t want to get down in the mud with him. That’s where he lives…”

“You said it, not me…”

“But seriously, it’s an opportunity to widen the conversation about women’s rights, women’s progress…”

 

JJ changed the station. Classic Vinyl, channel 26. Gimme Shelter. He used to get high with Lila and lip sync Mick and tease her into doing the woman’s soul part, which she hated. The Stones. Their best songs were the best. The problem was, there weren’t a lot of best songs. Gimme Shelter, Shine a Light, Let it Bleed, Tumbling Dice. Maybe a few others. But then you had Start Me Up, It’s Only Rock and Roll, Shattered. Arena rock Stones. Mick Jagger in a football jersey prancing about like some androgynous placekicker doing a parody of Mick Jagger. Lila loved the Stones and would defend them until the end. Even the Harlem Shuffle Stones. Lila always got too close to things, couldn’t see the big picture. She countered that he was too negative, that he ran out of steam on things because he overthought and stayed aloof. He didn’t get close enough, go all the way in. She had a point. But, he thought was right about the Stones. Great for a little while. Then just famous.

 

Back to the present. Radio off. There were immediate concerns that couldn’t be delayed. Like no wallet and no cash. Like the pursuit of an aggrieved brother and sister who wanted their ranch back. Like…what the hell to do next? First, he had to get his stuff at the hotel. Hopefully they hadn’t thrown it away or given it away or they weren’t owed any more money. The implications of the missing wallet were becoming clearer. “No money, not funny,” he muttered and laughed. Maybe he could make it to town on this tank of gas. Or maybe not.

Had he called Lila from the hotel during his blackout? He thought he had. A vague recollection, her voice muffled and anxious, as if he was buried and she was above ground coaxing him to dig out. But, because of the pressing dirt, he couldn’t even get his arms free to start digging.

 

Radio back on. Underground Garage, channel 21. The Modern Lovers. Roadrunner, roadrunner! A surge of optimism as sunlight danced on the snowfields of the high peaks. JJ turned up the volume. “I’m in love with Massachusetts. I’m in love with the radio on…” Tears came to his eyes, nostalgic and hopeful. Massachusetts seemed a long way away but he figured he would get back there one way or another.

First, to the hotel.

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SLAP! Presidential Endorsement, Finally

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As the author of SLAP! and the leading advocate for aggro-parenting®, I’ve been asked repeatedly to endorse a presidential candidate. While reluctant to give a formal endorsement, I always direct queries to my book, especially chapter 8, “The Home: Not a Democracy.” Read an excerpt and see if you can figure out who I support for President.

The home is not a democracy. There is no equality in the home, nor should there be. There is one term that always tells me that things are completely out of control: “family meeting”. When I hear that, I know that SLAP! techniques are necessary. The only thing that gets worked out at family meetings is parental authority: it gets worked right out of the house! Giving a voice to all members of the family? Please. Did Stalin ask for input from farmers when he forced them to collectivize, capitulate and starve? No, of course not. You can’t get anything done when everyone voices an opinion. (See Chapter 9, “Papa Joe: The Archetypal Father). It’s okay to shout down ridiculous calls for “equality” or “justice”. “It’s not fair,” they’ll whine. “You’re abusing your power,” they’ll wail. Well, to borrow a phrase from the whiner’s lexicon, “No Duh!”

Children are stupid and you can easily play upon their fears to fortify your authority. Strangers (especially of a different race), bears, liberals, refugees- they can all be easily invoked to terrorize and manipulate small minds, especially when the child has never seen any of these monsters up close in real life. Their ignorance is your boon and you should always use it to get children to work against their own interests. For instance, Lily was just banished from the dinner table after she complained that she was being bullied by some mean girls, thrown up against a locker, grabbed by a boy, and couldn’t mom and dad call the guidance counselor, blah, blah, blah. Now she’s complaining about not eating. The rule is very simple: Complaining is not allowed at dinner! That’s the time to invoke the Syrians. They are coming. They are beaten down and starving. They eat the flesh of 6th graders. Lily has never seen a starving frightened Syrian refugee, so what the hell does she know? As Hitler said, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” (See Chapter 10, “Uncle Adolph: Looking Past the Holocaust”).

I know you’re thinking, “I knew it! Dr. Führland supports Donald Trump!”

Well, No Duh!

(Disclosure: This author is being vetted by the Trump campaign for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services.)

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