JUST MUSING: Slayer of fools.

The art of public speaking even if done well has one consistent overriding variable – there is no guarantee of success, even if the speaker has rode the metaphorical bicycle before. All speakers will fall at some point. This is inevitable. Not as inevitable as the sun appearing and disappearing. A consistency which can be likened to pest, you never know when they will appear, moving around the baseboard, from behind pictures, across the counter – shocking you as your guest pretends to have not seen.

A good speaker is the person who has seen the unseen; penetrating an undefined membrane, doing a free-fall into a form of purgatory, sometimes referred to a speaker’s hell by its members. They are the brave, survivors. Moving from one space to another, returning to the podium, after a compelled examination of his/her injuries, taking note of what he/she did wrong the last time; returning, now a bit reticent, forever leery, knowing, knowing, knowing what others do not.    

Those who fail return thinking the fall was a dream. They never understood the wind at their backs was the proverbial, thank you very much, which was not a thank you very much. Thanking them for coming, when in fact the early, sporadic clapping was their encouragement for the speaker to finish; the collective sighs of relief, propelling the cyclist into an unanticipated world of false-satisfaction, never to know the real meaning of the uncomfortable laughter. The failed speaker is remains trapped in one of those “bless your heart” moment, never a good thing. 

I muse to say public speaking is hard but not impossible.   I believe the more apt-description of the art-form should be reduced to its absurdity (reductio ad absurdum): the slayer of fools.

Act 1: 

Knowledge of the Subject Matter Helps and Don’t, Don’t Lie:

 In other words couple the speech to the truth, even if it is only the speaker’s truth.When asked by the press what he thought of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia after the death of Heather Heyer, he said: “There are good people of both sides.” There were immediate reactions to the tenor of the speech; some said he didn’t say what he said. This response was not good; there was a tape and everyone heard him say what he said. Others were repulsed. The press coverage revealed the presence of Nazis, right-wing hate groups and violent and repulsive acts leading up Ms. Heyer’s death.

A quick examination of his presentation reveals the speaker violated the number one principle, he obviously didn’t know his subject matter, and if he did, he elected to lie. The two sides were not equivalent, and were never equivalent.   

Act 2:

Tell the Truth and Gauge the Mood of the Audience:

I repeat part of the initial principal because truth is fundamental to communicating. Sure, you can lie. I would go so far so say some have perfected the art-form of lying – however, in public speaking the better course is tell as much of the truth as possible to your audience. They – the audience – will appreciate you for being truthful, even if few agree with you. The second part of the principal essentially means – know the audience. 

In his visit to the United Nations, his was an act of following tradition, and protocol.  As the host country, and as our leader, the speech was expected, part of the social norm.  He – said to be the most powerful man in the world – invited the rest of the world into his proverbial kingdom, it was his stage.  He looked out into the audience – as his predecessors had done in the past – and told a flat out lie. Telling world leaders he had accomplished than any other president in U.S. history. They – the world leaders – looked left, right, at each other, before a spontaneous combustion occurred. The laughed; a flat out, uncontrollable Monty Python guffaw theirs was. The king indeed had no clothes.

Later he said they were laughing with him. They weren’t. We weren’t. No one was. His documented history of insulting the rest of the world, them, their heritage had become too much. He thought he was omnipotent and felt flat out lying was permitted. Those expected platitudes did not come; he stood at the podium confused. His was an example of falling of the proverbial bicycle, floating in space, not knowing whether he was dreaming or not. He has not yet moved to the realm of a despot, King, Supreme leader, which would have permitted him not to follow any of these rules of public speaking. They laughed at him, not with him.      

Act 3: 

Preparation … Preparation … Preparation:

We have all trudged this path before, where we didn’t prepare enough. Over confident in our skills; failing to set aside sufficient time to prepare; failing to anticipate, predict and worry (worry is required ingredient compelling the speaker to see the possible worst case scenarios). Not having a way into the speech and a way out; failing to communicate and talk to the audience; reading off a piece of paper and ignoring the verbal and non-verbal clues and cries of disdain. All of this is any speaker’s plight; standing in place before falling, because the speaker coupled his/her preparation with the belief that public speaking is an overrated. Just like riding a bicycle you say. It isn’t and never will be. 

He looked out and laden his answer with a racist, nationalist, sexist twist. The reporter – she a Chinese American female – called him out on his racist, nationalist, sexist musings. He attempted to move away, quickly. He is not stupid. He knew he had been called out for his racist, nationalist and sexist behavior. He was a participant in a not this time moment. He pivoted quickly and called on another reporter – someone he had treated rudely before. Her treatment had a slightly different twist – it was a racist, sexist, bullying behavior. She didn’t dare save him. Her black skin reflected in the artificial light, while she deferred to the first speaker. He scowled at her defiance. His audience had seen him scowl before. No one was fearful, no one was deferential. No, no, not this time. He pivoted again, calling on a third speaker, who also just happened to be female. She too deferred to her Chinese American colleague, leaving him hanging. He had nowhere to go. He had nowhere else to pivot. He fled. His – the speaker’s – problem was a simple one:  he thought saying the same thing over and over again meant it was true. Nowhere to go, not like the Wizard of Oz; he wasn’t Dorothy. He – we – none of us – will never be Dorothy. Clicking his heels three times would not bring him to another place and never convert his racist, sexism, nationalist musings to the truth. He did what bad speakers do. He did what lazy cowards do; he did the same act – over and over again – and failed to appreciate his audience’s intelligence; meaning they would eventually figure out how to address the hate. Fool me once; fool me twice…well you know.

There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.― George W. Bush

Act 4: 

The Story is Never Completed in Three-Acts, Perhaps Four: The Speaker Must Earnestly Invite the Audience to Visit the Confines of His/Her Mind. This is probably the most difficult part of any speech – the use of words, silence, anxiety, fear, happiness, body language and gestures to allow the listener to visit a place he/she never thought he/she/they would have an opportunity to visit. Oh, I know what the literature says, that public speaking in one of our greatest fears. This belief seems misplaced with the advent of social media. A camera in every hand – pointing here, there – into the face of the speaker and others; the proliferation of blogs, social media posts – all this compels me to believe the position is no longer a truism. Everyone now is an expert on multiple subjects:  constitutional law, law enforcement, medicine, the First Amendment, rights, auto mechanics, repairing kitchen appliances. We are indeed a YouTube[ing], foolish-nation.  

҉            ҉            ҉

I muse to say, the art of public speaking is not necessarily impossible. This art form is best understood when reduced to its most simplistic level – it is the art of sharing thoughts, ideas; listening, watching and interacting with the audience. We have all failed at this art, and will continue to fail – falling, falling, falling. To assume failure is out the questions will assure the speaker will fail.  

Oh yeah – back to him, our dear leader – he is incapable of following any of the tenets of well prepared and executed public speech, no matter what he and his Complicitors say to the contrary; so be it.  So, I muse.

JUST MUSING: “Hopscotching and social distancing at the same time…”

Perhaps they didn’t read the instructions. I thought. Maybe they didn’t know, didn’t take the time to learn the rules, perhaps. Both choices seemed stupid; the instructions for hopscotch are online and even a crazy man implicitly understands what to do by saying the name of the game. Hers was a walk – one, two and three, four … five, six and seven … eight … nine and ten –   sadly converting the beloved childhood exercise into a slow motion game, unrecognizable game of Step-Step-Drag.  Another woman about the same age took her turn. I silently urged her to hop. She didn’t. I studied both of them carefully; none appeared to be infirmed, nothing seemed to explain this strange behavior, with the exception of laziness. No, I couldn’t hear them; distance and thick glass prevented me from spying, intruding any further.  I am sure though these young women’s step-step-drag was what it was, a lazy, life-styled imposed bastardization of a time-honored childhood game. I continued to watch as their charges – young children – observed, waited before taking a turn. They did what they did – Step-Step, Drag; Step-Step, Drag; Step-Step, Drag – heresy!

Seeing me, me seeing her

Looking up, seeing me, me seeing her. She immediately changed direction, tracing an angled line to the other side of the street. Doing the social distancing thing?  – Perhaps.

Her movement seemed familiar to me, previously experienced, a practiced societal distancing moment – moving away, quickly, when seeing one of them; calling the police when two, no more than three, decide to remain in place in a public place (parks, street corners, malls, standing in our own yards, a unique rule applied to us); years of telling on them people/their kind/me  for just being what we are; stacking assumptions on top of assumptions because of this melanin endowed birth-right, a seeming preordained condition making the Curse of Ham a true prophesy. 

My mind wandered, seeing history’s methodical dance, with each step, as she powered walked across the two lane road, doing the Southern thing. You know, the Southern thing:  locking car doors as those who looked like me moved through the parking lot, retreating away; equating our mere presence as the definition of probable cause in the criminal law; engaging in the mental dance of seeing us when playing word games, “deviant behavior”, “criminal,” a “cucaracha”.    

Seeing this, seeing that

Seeing this, seeing that, wandering how this social distancing thing will play over the long haul. Will we treat everyone the same? Do we do the history thing and try to blame the Chinese? Do the Chinese do likewise and shift the blame to others? Do we do as our great leader has done? Step, step, drag; step, step, drag indeed.  Perhaps ultimately blame Africans. No, no, this would be stretching even my random thoughts too far. We wouldn’t. They wouldn’t. Right…? 

My mind continued to process history as she stepped onto the sidewalk across the street to continue her walk. Perhaps … maybe …let me gander to share – this social distancing thing may work for me, causing my mind will stop playing tricks on me, permitting me to realize there is no such thing as a color-line.  Life would be perfect.

The ability to social distance is a matter of choice; not a matter of economic or societally-imposed conditions; never a matter of race – perfect, perfect – step, step, hop. Something to be performed in an egalitarian manner; equal, without regards to race, national origin, economic condition. Hopscotch indeed – I feel much better. 

When she was straight-line directly across from my place on the sidewalk, I nodded in her direction.  She didn’t do likewise. She continued to do the Southern thing, what good Southern neighbors do – she pretended I didn’t exist. 

I truly believe we will work through all of this – I mean the virus thing.  First we will learn how to use the word “some” better – some will die, some will not.  We will be forced to because we know our history – don’t we? 

Scientist will have conduct test/clinical trials to obtain a cure – don’t they.  History’s tales say so:  Syphilis tale, tests conducted in this country (Tuskegee) and Guatemala; gonorrhea tale (conducted by American scientist on the prison population in Terre Haute, Indiana); cholera and typhoid and plague-ridden fleas tales (tests conducted by the Japanese Imperial Army upon the Chinese people), and the HIV/AIDs experiments which were conducted on Africans by the French and Belgians. 

Looking out the window, seeing an invisible virus change the world; gone in lock-down, threatening the world economic order in which they told us was invincible, wondering what one can do, cannot do, still seeing an history’s incredible and consistent tale. I no longer feel good about any of this.    

Of course, we have seen this before, whether we realize it or not. The use medical and scientific know-how to save the world for the betterment of human-kind; saving those deemed to be the chosen (isn’t this is what the Nazi did). Conducting tests on the least of us (isn’t this the tale of colonialism, slavery, the annihilation of the indigenous people).  But we wouldn’t. We couldn’t. Not in today’s egalitarian society. Would we repeat history’s tales?  Oh absolutely we would.   

The pattern is always in the same:  identify the evil to be tackled, establish a protocol, search the world for tests subjects and report out the results – for the good of mankind (people kind) – explain the rest later. The explanation always comes later. The pattern is always the same:  to save the world on the backs of the others and condition the rest of us to feel comfortable with what was done in our name. The means justify the end, we are always told. Of course, I am sure of one thing as I muse: the excuse will always come much later.    

I muse to say we cannot continue to be lazy about any of this and step, step … drag ourselves through history continued and persistent beat. Our understanding and appreciation of history requires of us to hop-scotch through these new challenges and not allow the save the world mentality to obliteration of “others” rights (which are ultimately our rights). We should require an explanation now to prevent the same erratic, harsh beat from repeating itself. 

I hope you feel better. I do.     

JUST MUSING: Roll ’em bones…

“No, no, no, you lost…!” – said after she magically engrafted a new set of rules.  Yelling, jumping up and down, declaring victory before issuing her fiat, “You lose…we aren’t playing by those rules, anymore…!” She didn’t wait for any retort.  She moved backwards – and away – parallel to the ground, knees bent, delicately balancing on one hand, while the other hand held the jacks and ball.  The magician she was, balancing on one hand, before pirouetting and turning in the opposite direction; laughter a constant companion. 

Doing the happy dance; round, and round she went.  I didn’t have her going in circles, nothing of the sorts.  I was too young to understand what the song’s lyrics actually meant.  Her own actions possessed her.  With both arms extended, she circled around me, like an airplane – perhaps, maybe – except her cockpit was agape.  A haunting laugh spilled outward and toward me, interrupting any attempt on my part to stop her from screaming. “Wait, wait, wait…” 

For those of you of a certain cultural persuasion and age vintage, the apt-lyric would be – “Oh, round and round I go.”  No, no, she was not spun out of over me.  Hers was instead a boastful, cheating brag – spilling out during one of the circles, before she fled to the other side of the school yard, “like a spinning top” – to tell others.   

“I won…!”

“Wait, wait, wait, you cheated, those weren’t the rules…!”

҈            ҉            ҉

Cheating, childhood games and politics are universally related, perhaps intertwined – much like a tangled ball of thread – no beginning, no end; impossibly tangled, no matter your patience and the degree of pulling.  A gentle tug on the thread’s structure; unwinding one part, knotting the other, with the same-same remaining the status quo, a knotted and tangled mess. 

In the childhood games of jacks, marbles, four corners, square, hopscotch, baseball, basketball and football, the rules are the rules – right? 

“You missed!”

“No, I didn’t!!!”

The last time I checked there were not any competitive adult leagues of hopscotch, four square, marbles; some of these games survived the transition from childhood to adulthood.  So have the rules; the rules are the rules – right?  They are, unless they’re not – or stated another way, until they aren’t. 

I actually learned all the rules of how to roll the bones from an older boy, a neighbor.  I couldn’t have been no older than 13.  He -18-19-20 – in his second year of college.   “Let me show you,” said at the same time he reached into his pocket and pulled a pair of small, white dice.  The dice seemed different than the dice from Monopoly.  A bit smaller the dice the older boys threw while encircled behind the schoolhouse – in their various degrees of bent-ness – hovering, calling out numbers, rattling off wishes and wants.  Theirs was a mere copycat of what they heard older men say; magical, imaginative incantations willing, hoping the object of their affection would grant their every heartfelt wish.  My baby needs groceries – huh!      

“I don’t gamble…”   

Darnell didn’t hear me, so it seemed.  Opening his hand wider, doing what he did, rolling the dice on the floor; talking, never responding to what I said, what I didn’t do.

“You got any money…?

“I think I got twenty-five dollars?”

“Have you ever rolled the bones before?”

“I said I don’t gamble…”

“Each dice has six sides, with each side possessing a number, 1-6; the lowest 1; highest 6…got that…”   

Sometimes segments of our Monopoly games converted.  Other times we mimicked the older boys.  Show me you love me…seven!  Ha!  Screaming, threatening to do great harm when someone cheated, even though not a dime was at stake, even though we know all the rules.  You boys get away from here.   Even though Darnell’s dice were the smallest dice I had ever seen, I learned another lesson that day – size doesn’t matter, all dice are the same.   

Give me a six!  … Looking for a sweet six!  

Sitting on the edge of the bed in wonderment, seeing and hearing past voices; Darnell moved readily past the stop signs, from telling me what to expect in college to rolling the bones.  My memory tells me his father died first.  I remember both were still living at the time; they remained ensconced on the other side of the door.  The five thirty news personality could be heard reporting the latest tragedy in our collective lives.

“Take your money out… put it on the floor.”

 I did – what he said to do.  He did likewise – put his money on the floor. 

Darnell continued to explain the rules of rolling the bones.  He never asked me whether I wanted to play.  He never asked what I knew.  He flat out ignored I didn’t gamble.   I said nothing.  I started to tell him what I little I knew.  I didn’t.  I wanted to tell him I was the luckiness fool I knew on any new game, somewhat akin to fool’s gold.  I didn’t. 

Darnell smiled after finishing.  He didn’t appear to be smiling to be smiling.  His was an anticipatory smile, what he was going to do to me.  The Wile E. Coyote smile; a ready, set, go smile; knowing – flat out – knowing.  He gave me the dice, inched the pot closer to him, and said, “Roll”.    

I remembered Darnell telling me something about 7, something else about adding the numbers on both dice together – that we were playing for, “two dollars a game…”   

I said “7” and rolled – how about that – magic! Darnell’s eyes bucked, not quite like Buckwheat’s eyes, a lighter, brown version of Buckwheat, same eyes though.     

“Did I win?” 

Darnell mumbled, “Yeah, yeah…”  Something told me I was safe from being cursed out.  His father commented on the news. His mother replied.    

So we did, until we didn’t; repeatedly, ten/fifteen times, with the Gods of Naiveté, protected their blissful, ignorant child.  Darnell eyes now seemed glued in place, a perpetual bulge.  He was now cursing under his breath.  He then do what I heard the older boys do behind the school, “double or nothing”.  He didn’t ask me whether I wanted to double the bets with now my money.  We did the double things … a number of times.  I won still… animals and children, animals and children, indeed. 

Darnell owed me the pot and more.  He knew this.  I knew this.  Boys and girls – chillen and dogs, everybody knew.  I won! – At least for a brief period, until the rules of nature interceded. 

The bigger boy collected himself, mumbled something about “beginner’s luck” and grabbed his money off the floor.  He then became a moral soul – “We shouldn’t be gambling…”  He demanded I take the rest of his money out of my pocket.  I did what I was told.  He told me to go home.  I did that too!       

҈            ҉            ҉

Recently, Major League Baseball (MLB) reported the results of their investigation into the Houston Astros who were accused of cheating during baseball games by stealing signs.  I didn’t quite understand what the complaint was about – nor now do I actually fully understand.  Wait!  What!  Aren’t these grown men playing baseball the same way they played when they were youth – looking for an advantage over an opponent; any opponent.   

The object of the Astros’ exercise/act/malfeasance was to read the catcher and pitcher’s signs, by the use of technology, then relay the anticipated pitch by a non-technological manner – banging on a trash can – to indicate the coming pitch. 

Baseball wasn’t my sport but I do remember – when I played the game – when batting you are always anticipating the pitch, reading the pitcher and catcher, watching for signs of weaknesses in the defensive positions of the players in the outfield, positioning the bat to take advantage of the pitch, the openings in the field.   Told by your coaches to make your opponent think they know your weakness (to believe what you want them to believe), while sucker punching them with hidden strengths.  Flash a sign – a supposed coveted, secreted sign – which maybe false/ contradictory/ meaningless, while the real signs are relayed through other means.  A rule is a rule you say? 

When the other team becomes sloppy, identify the sign stealer, relay this to the pitcher and hit him/her with the next time up or maybe every time up.  It’s just a game – right!  This is why your catcher should always be the biggest/baddest boy on your team, retrieving the ball asking politely, “Oh!  The guy manning the trashcan missed the fast ball upside your head…?”   Fall, trip, push, challenge the rule breaker every time; telling them what you know – in every sport – protect your turf. 

Why didn’t the Astros’ opponents turn over their trash cans and bang with them – one time, two times, three times – outing the routine.  If you good at what you do, don’t apologize.  The other team, why complain to the referee?  The game is baseball.   If a complaint is lodged with the league, do a collective your incredulous dance of defiance.  What!?  Are you kidding me…this is baseball! 

In the Astros’ case I suspect other teams knew what they were doing.  There is no need for each player on the other team to be rocket-scientist to figure out what one bang meant; what two bangs meant.  It seems to me the offenders were engaged in an unwritten, the time-honored tradition of the game.  The Astros should have replied to the league and public, “There is no crying in baseball.”  That’s a rule isn’t it…?” 

The Astros, over the last three years, have been one of baseball’s dominant teams and were coming off a World Series they should have never lost.  So instead of the other teams doing the mano-a-mano thing, as is common in games of anything, the losers ran and told, and played innocent and virtuous.  What…?  What was the complaint again…?   Dominoes, pokeno, spades – you want me to apologize for what…!  You lost, get up from the table! 

The girl who cheated and circled like an airplane didn’t need to tell me she changed the rules.  I knew.  She scooted away and started laughed a haughty laugh.  She made it clear what she did, just in case I was slow on the uptake.  I didn’t cry – a worst offense.  I didn’t run and tell the others I was cheated.  I didn’t tell parents.  I chased after her, laughing and screaming, knowing it was on me not to careful what rules we were playing by – “shut up, shut up, you didn’t win!  Play me again…! 

In basketball, playing defense means playing within and on the edges of the rules.  In this supposed non-contact sport, good defense at times means administering punishment – verbal and nonverbal.  Talking, pulling, grabbing where the referee can’t see the punch to tug; physically moving the other player out of position out of his favorite spot – the exercise of both physical and mental force.  Pick another game – any game – the concept is readily applied to each, this is somewhat akin to the circumstance of a bigger boy daring a smaller boy to get in a beef over his taking his money back.  Absolutely, the game get interesting when the smaller boy is invested and considers the money his; even if he didn’t want to roll ‘em bones, knew with each throw the gods was placing the dice in a proper alignment with the stars and he felt his honor demanded he fight for what was rightfully his, protecting the gods’ gift. 

I will admit I know little about the gentleman/ gentlewoman’s sports of golf and tennis and how to play on the edge of the rules/cheat/fudge/obtain an advantage by playing in a manner which doesn’t show up in the rule books.  In team sports, and the rolling of the bone, the answer to the offended person/ team is rather simple – “You are complaining about what exactly…?

I muse to say, I’m serious.  I’m not serious.  I’m both. 

Honestly I muse to make a more salient point – it is a false dichotomy to compare cheating in childhood games to the world of governing, and politics.  During the recent impeachment proceedings this is what the Senators told us, didn’t they? 

He learned his lesson – I honestly have never heard of any criminal defendant being permitted to steal and walk free unless he/she has pled and proved his/her insanity defense.   

He learned lying doesn’t pay…really?  He learned not to involved foreign governments in American elections?  What…?  James Brown’s – the entertainer – routine was to count to one, two … Do we now need to count to three before giving the drummer’s some. 

He had good intent and evil intent – This too is problematic.  Every politician – from the dumbest to the brightest when caught in wrongdoing would love to be accorded this defense. I did it for the good of the country.  I was helping others by violating laws.  I am protecting other presidents.  This argument is worse than permitting a dog one free bite.  This argument provides The Malfeasant One a readily available and full-proof defense; biting away, permitting him/her to be above the law, further eroding long-held, written and unwritten rules supporting the Constitution. 

I would have fought Darnell to keep my money I put in the pot.  I didn’t because he retrieved only his money from the floor and from my pockets – the money he had lost.  There was no need to fight, I wasn’t invested in the game and winning.  Of course, I would have never been invited back to his parent’s home – after me striking him, and he striking back, to protect his residual honor.  His parents probably wouldn’t have spoken to me again.  They would have told my mother.  I knew this when he finished collecting the lost money.    All Darnell – and I – had to do was not play again.  I told him I didn’t gamble – he didn’t listen.  His grubbing – not grabbing – the money and claiming possession meant little to me, even though he changed the rules.  I knew I should not have let the game go as far as it did, but I did – over, over, over, over again – converting in an instant to Gambling Anthony.  When I moved toward the door, I understood the older boy’s unintended lesson.       

The President’s wishes can never be a crime – tell this to any child playing a childhood game.  In childhood games, you can never do whatever you want.  He screamed/she screamed/they will scream, even fight cheaters.  The field, diamond, court, between and outside the lines of four-squares all hell will break loose, with everyone moving in opposite directions, promising to never play with or against the other person/team/cheaters again.  Children are pretty good at self-enforcing the rules – well, we were. 

Childhood games are different, than politics – we can elect to never play the other kid/team again – because it is a game.  Under the Constitution we have no option, even though the other side wants us to never play again, leaving them with total control, an unequal society, an imperfect union.  This is what all the President’s defenders are saying, isn’t it? 

In the world of politics and the Constitution, the aim of a more perfect union is to declare the game everyone’s game.  Isn’t it…?  They tell us the President can do whatever he wants and can play by whatever rules he wants.  How is this possible?  This concept is foreign to any childhood games, to any game of chance.  I muse to say the argument of telling the rest of us to walk away, and perhaps not worry about playing again because he – the President – seems to permit the permit the fundamental erosion of constitutional principles and concepts.  Sure, I have heard of the adage that politics is rough and tumble.  This adage never meant illegality and corruption. 

This doesn’t take away from my previous position – the baseball teams – Nationals, Yankees and Dodgers – need to get a grip and play baseball (you are permitted to call me a name at this time).  It seems to me the defense of the Constitution is different and others not playing or name-calling isn’t sufficient.  More is required of us.    

JUST MUSING: “You’re so vain…”

Vanity is defined as excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.  The American songstress Carly Simon introduced the song You’re So Vain in 1972, telling the story of an aberrant, conceited lover or mate.  This muse is about vanity in one sense; it has little to do with an aberrant lover or mate.    

The television show Saturday Night Live is arguably the most dominant force in comedy for the last three to four decades.  The franchise has introduced and nurtured writers, producers, actors, and comics who have held sway over the comedic world.  For years, the show was a reflection of the dominant society, a homogeneous group of white comics who originated from familiar venues (Second City in Chicago by way of example), providing a consistent and familiar brand of humor, even as comics came and went. 

The creators/producers remained tone-deaf for years, never understanding why the others may never get the joke.  The same old, same old – over and over again – never able to find any women of color, until magically they did; the show even moved past the rule of one (we have one, why are you complaining rule).   Writers forever crafting scenes where black male comics were asked to wear a dress, poke fun of black females, as if there were not black female comics in the world who could poke harder, in a less racist, sexist manner.  Change has been slow, remember it wasn’t until someone said no, to the dress and mocking black females, did the show magically find one – some black females comics.  No Asians, no Hispanics – never part of the formula – always the brunt of the joke.  One of the comics hired this new season was a white male whose routine incorporated the debasement of Asians and women; humorous to some – the same dilemma – not to others. 

The news account explained that when the newly hire comic’s habit was discovered, the comic was terminated.  When asked about his fortune, then misfortune, the comic explained sometimes you succeed, sometimes to you.  A half-hearted apology followed – we have all probably extended the same apology – “if I have offended anyone.”  He then moved on, bragging he was good enough to be hired by Saturday Night Live.  After the initial storm, comic after comic blamed the public, that we – the public – have become less tolerant of comedy.  I muse to disagree.

Comedy is the art of observation, the examination of the surrounding world – a sad, tragic, horrifying, terrific, happy world it is – and then translating his/her/our/their observations of this sad, tragic, horrifying, terrific, happy world through words, images, or physical display in order to permit others to look inward, outward; the affect sometimes displayed by tears, laughter, moans and disbelief. 

I’m sure the human soul has laughed and cried since day one; crossing continents, moving across plains, foraging for food, making babies; while some smart mouth among the collective commented on the crooked tooth wholly mammoth moving closer, closer, closer while the rest were able to only see their impending death, he/she/they slowed their flight away and told a joke.  Telling jokes during conquest – “I killed ten Mate!” – while others in a different position (those conquered or dead) never got the joke.  Slaves did more than sing songs.  They told jokes too- bet you they did. Our distorted history would have us believe the minstrel characters were those comic, not those who were strong and brave enough and tell the joke from the perspective of the enslaved, not the master.  Funny to some, never, never, never funny to others; this is why the heirs of the enslaved will never get the joke of wearing blackface, no matter how well done, no matter how many teeth one shows, no manner how many more pictures spill out into the public forum showing the heirs and beneficiaries of the enslavers/conquistadors/colonists sharing a good hearty laugh, while dressed in character, with darkened skin – ha, ha, ha – indeed, ha, ha, ha. 

Telling the joke in honor of ones peoples’ plight; done well, into the night we laughed, reliving history, making history, surviving.  This why we complain, not because people and humor have changed.  We haven’t changed and comics haven’t either. 

The white male comic whose racist and sexist taunts were discovered after his hire is no different than others in the past.  His jokes were not told from the perspective of a people surviving gas chambers but told through his eyes only.  When caught he should have said as much.  Absolutely, the white male comic is no different than the black male comic who sought fit to bash gays.  I am sure he has spent a lifetime polishing his routine, compensating for his height after being teased by others, while those of his ilk laughed, laughed, laughed.  Telling the joke from a presumed privileged position, making someone else the brunt of the joke, casting aspersions on what he sees as his wholly mammoth.  Sputum followed by a cough, tears, laughter at the expense of another, followed by coughs, and tears of the others, forever incessantly made the brunt of the jokes.  The black male comic issued the same apology the white male comic uttered – must be taught in comic school – and went back to slashing and burning the gay wholly mammoth.    

Sure a comic has to take risks, that’s their calling isn’t it – causing the King and Queen to laugh, surviving, feeding themselves, their families, in order to retain their court jester role.  Forever standing tall – among classmates, using humor to make a point, causing teachers around the globe to understand, while she/he remained bent over, laughing.  Protesting wars, injustices, the abuse of power; using humor as both shield and sworn; good comedy is and can be both, at the same time.  A mediocre comic always reaches for the low hanging cheap joke and wonders why some can’t laugh.

 Walking through the forest, telling pee jokes; progressing, developing, maturing to breaking wind, body parts, bodily functions, stinky jokes and then to the ultimate tattoo – sex – a good percentage get stuck on sex (profane references to females and what they did, want to do to all of them), never to mature thereafter.  Comic all have and will continue to trudge the same developmental path, some grow and most do not.  Their blaming the public is why I muse. 

Child and Adolescent pediatricians have documented over time the development stages of children.  Comic are no different, they too go through the developmental stages of growth; developing a shtick, learning how to use timing and mannerisms to distinguish them from the other class clown, becoming a better observant of societal taboos, mores, does and don’ts, spreading their wings into politics, race, and world (sic) peas (sic).  The development is not all that complex.  We have all seen these developmental stages in our favorite comics. 

What I don’t understand are these comics/clown/jesters who ignore who or what they are and turn the finger the wrong way, blaming us for bad jokes (jokes that miss, insults, savage a group of people, and their own inadequacies – an inability to tell a joke which is inclusive.  No, no, no, please don’t hear me to say comic care should be touchy-feely people, caring about everyone feelings – that’s not who these people are – a good joke can be cutting, vicious, insulting, much like life. 

Historically, a dead court jester is a dead court jester.  He/she would love to take the bad joke back – she/he can’t.  “Off with his head” is not a pun.  We haven’t changed and they haven’t either.   Tell the joke, give it your best – isn’t that what you were told by your parents?  When you stray too far, examine why and who was insulted and be a big girl, big boy and either admit you went astray or stand by your joke, it’s just money and a job.  We’re civilized now, aren’t we! We are going to permit you to keep your head – won’t we!  Stop being vain, the song is not about you.         

JUST MUSING: “…’bounce, bounce’…”

New Orleans is regularly recognized as one of America’s unique cities, different from the cookie cutter variants seen in other municipalities; history, architecture, culture, different tongues, peoples and food blended together within a southern milieu.  The city regularly makes the news; festivals, sports, its people.  The most recent story: a McDonald’s employee attacking a customer because the customer had the gall to complain about the fries.  Is this story a manifestation of New Orleans’ uniqueness?                

The customer admitted he might have been abrasive – when reading this, I assumed as much. When viewing the video – it was so.  He was. 

The recording starts with an employee yelling – “Get out”.  A female employee interceded, and pulled the male employee away.  The customer – he too of the male persuasion – followed both.  The employees seemed to feel the customer’s presence.  The male turned and reengaged; pushing, shoving, hitting.  What, I thought…?  All over some nasty fries…?

Years ago, I visited America’s quirkiest city to attend a seminar.  On day two, three of us decided to venture out of the French Quarters.  We asked the concierge for a recommendation, somewhere to eat outside of the Quarters.  As an aside, the McDonald’s in the recently reported story is located on Canal Street, in the Quarters.  Moving slowly through the city – before GPS’ mass distribution – anticipation – longing for the New Orleans’ experience – and hunger were forever present.    

The restaurant was small, comfortable, and clean.  The crowd was a mixture of both locals and tourists.  After looking at the menu, I played safe, I ordered a chicken salad.  Let me explain why:  I have this theory about cooks and food.  Determining the skills or talents of a cook/chef/restaurant is best gauged by doing simple.  You don’t understand…?

Fish, chicken, a salad, basics; salt, pepper, garlic, butter; unblemished, not hidden, not distorted, not covered, and dominated by a sauce – doing simple.  If the restaurant advertises its breads, does it do the basic breads well?  Is it fresh, how is the crumb, is the texture consistent?  Few does, few can.  So I ordered a chicken salad. 

The insufferable August heat, local culture, our hunger were our companions while waiting.  When the food was served, we reverted to our childhood.  Silence! Pure and utter silence; looking down, to the right, left, at the others’ plates, guarding with one hand, eating with the other; racing to finish first, to get the first debs on seconds. 

My mother would periodically look over from the kitchen, commenting, laughing – “Slow down, y’all act like y’all are starving orphans.”  We weren’t – we didn’t care.  Silence – with the exceptions of slurps, gulps, coughs; working too hard, too fast, while doing simple. 

“Slow down…!”

“Yes, ma’am…!”  

Two bites I realized the mistake.  I had been given a chicken sandwich, not a chicken salad.  I waved to the waitress.  She came over, I told.  She went and told – whispering to an older woman, pointing my way – causing the older woman to approach.  She – the older woman – had greying tips – less than mine are now.  She was approximately my mother’s age – as I am now.  She took up sentry on left side.  Her leg touched both the table and me – shoulder, arm. my body.  Her eyes foretold peril.  I understood the touching, it too part of the message.  I felt six, seven, no older than nine.  I did.

And out-of-body experience she forced me into – I was.    

“What are you trying to pull…?

“Ma’am…?” 

“You’re trying to get free food…”

“Ma’am … No, ma’am, I just want you to know of the mistake so my bill can be adjusted…”

I said one thing. She heard another. 

My, “I, I…” was followed by those her telling, threatening eyes and a declaratory sentence.  A plain, simple, non-passive voice, declarations, she spoke … “We’re not giving you free food…!”    

I tried “I, I…” again – to no avail. 

“You saw your waitress put a sandwich on the table, and you still took two bites! You’re not getting free food!  You better shut up and eat your sandwich!”

The elder one turned and abruptly went back to the area of the restaurant she came from – the place she where she was told.  She extended the same gift before leaving thought – that frightful look.  I said what I said.  I swear I heard, “enjoy”.  I’m sure I reverted to six….

One of my companions was a New York, New Yorker.  I don’t remember her name.  I remember her to be a honey-colored woman.  She was one of the few women at the seminar.  she had spent the last two days fighting off the advances, using different tactics with each advance – smiling, frowning, cajoling, off-putting laughter, silence.  This escape from the hotel was her respite, suggesting lunch, moving toward the front desk of the hotel, asking for directions, moving comfortably into the restaurant, breathing an audible sigh of relief.  Her reaction – that day, that moment showed her other side.    

New York’s mouth went agape; both hands skyward, then outward.  A finger pointed at the elder one. I grabbed the finger, then her arm.  I moved the arm from one level another – lower, to the table.  In a New York, New York, kind-of- way, she raged – “How dare her!”  

“I’m sorry.  I wouldn’t pay.  I would have to go to jail.”

I dutifully ate the chicken sandwich.  I was horrified she pointed at Momma.  I waited for the invisible hand of Georgia to reach cross the room and correct her aberrant behavior.  Absolutely, you are free to laugh.  I am a big boy.  I ate the damn sandwich.   

I grew up in a segregated culture and viewed eating in public a hostile act.  Followed as a teen, as a young adult, wherever I went; forever the suspect – these are influencing factors.  Not permitted to eat in most eating establishment; watching and living the civil rights struggle in living, daily color; electing when and where to be the guinea pig.   These influences bubble to the over surface years – sometimes expectant behavior, most times not – over and over again.    

Trained to pick “carefully your conflicts”; avoid societal attempts (“you will be baited”) to make you react by persons in authority (“police, teachers, administrators, store owners”); move away, save and fight for another day – get home – avoid the seat reserved place in the jails for those who looked like you, for the slightest of infractions – was the advice.  Both told and learned behavior.

Existing in a well-enforced, generational-ingrained, apartheid-like system of rules and mores; the 1866 Civil Rights Act – the society ignored the law, didn’t it!  The 1964 Civil Rights Act passed one hundred years later, wasn’t it?  It was, I remember, I was ten.  Old enough to understand differences color imposed.  In language, rules, prohibitions, seen through the eyes of a child; laws admittedly implemented slowly, deliberately – daily, by the courts, store owners, the police.   

“They passed what?!  Civil rights law?!  You either leave or go to jail.”    

Let me debunk a couple of assumptions.  The sandwich was okay.  Nothing exciting, but this muse is not about food, nor is it about race.  The customer in New Orleans was white, the worker was black.  Look at the video.  The video has nothing to do with race; it is a video of two fools interacting in the night.  In my case, the elder was black, my mother-mother’s color, and everyone at our table were black.  I said – this muse has nothing to do with race.  I muse to say, instead of restaurant employees trying to physically assault customers when they complain, or accuse the customer of wanting free food, public establishments should remain conflict free zones.  Instead of customers pressing the point over bad food, insulting the workers, any untoward acts should be viewed as misguided and counterproductive.

҈            ҈҉            ҈

Years ago there was a small restaurant in my community, located in an alley, housed in a shotgun house.  A shotgun house is a small house, no more than one thousand square feet, twelve feet wide – “a shotgun fired in the front, will go through and through, entering and leave every room before exiting” – so was the explanation given to me for the name.  The restaurant seemed half the size of a typical shotgun house, a smallish, confined space.  People literally squeezed-in; limited seating, not by design but circumstances.  A restricted menu – two items a day, no substitutes – open five days a week, awaited the customers who came for an exceptional home-cooked meal.  Drinks too were limited – tap water served on ice – the owner didn’t permit sodas to be served.  “No, no sodas.”  I remembered sometimes there was tea, I think.  I don’t remember, maybe, maybe not.    

Food was served as long as there was food in the pots, meaning roughly and hour and a half lunch service.  Much like visiting any grandmother’s home, the owner sat among the guest; every day, every meal; listening, nodding, occasionally laughing, resting tired feet, after having spent the morning hours cooking for family and guests.

He – a white man – came in first; excited, happy.  “This is it baby!”

She – a white female – followed – she seemed to be a girlfriend to me, not a wife – looking around – a foreign place, a foreign people, not part of her milieu.  I don’t remember any other whites in the restaurant – that day – this day.  Then she did it – – she said “eewww” with both eyes.  Back up – remember this muse is not about race.  Hers was not the old world “eewww” of my youth.  If the truth be in me, her face was no different than mine when I first squeezed-in visited the unpaved alley in the middle of the summer, entered a foreign place and looked around, amazed, eewwwa restaurant, really…? 

“Baby, you’re going to enjoy the food,” he said excitedly. 

His was an out-of-control octave moved upward, downward, sideward – with excitement, anticipation, an uncontrolled instrument.  His body told too, excited to be back – a Frankie Beverly joy – joyous, joyous behavior – boyish behavior, ready to enjoy the anticipatory feast.

She of shocked eyes said nothing – compliant, hesitant trust – following her beloved.  They took two of the remaining seat.   She looked around, before she reached in her purse.  She pulled out a toilette to wipe the table.  I smiled to myself – my behavior too girl the first time I came and every time I eat here.  She remained perplexed – looking around, not at people – never making eye contact; asking her the gods, her God – How on earth did it pass its health inspection?   Truthfully, I always wondered the same thing. 

Her mate ordered his and hers.  Remember – your choices are limited – there are only two plate choices – a easy decision.  He continued to bounce in place, excited.  He waved at the owner a few table over – meaning, she was a mere five feet away. 

“I’m back.” 

The mate remained stupefied, in manner and mode.  The rest of the room continued to eat, watch and talk about her/him/them.  She’s leaving him.  Oh Lord, poor child.  You think she will stay.  I am sure she couldn’t hear what we said; you can’t hear when you are in shock.  His excitement deprived him of both sight and sound.    

“Welcome back baby?” – The owner intoned.   

“How’re you feeling today?” – He responded, giddy, giddy; a giddy man he was. 

“I feel good, blessed.”

“… Food good today…?”

“Always is…?”  Is that your lady?”

“She …”

Before the Giddy One could say what she was – girlfriend, wife – both plates were put in place.  “You ordered the smothered steak … you get the fried chicken?  Daughter never talked much.  Daughter said little else.  She wiped a runny nose with the right hand; wiped the newly soiled right hand on her apron, before turning, slowly – back to the kitchen.  Daughter always moved slowly, so did her mother.  The owner was in or nearing her nineties; Daughter, her seventies.     

We – all of us – watched while – having seen the behavior before.  We were all primates, restrained in place and time, intruding on each other, tapping on glass, rattling each other cages, seeing nothing wrong with our respective behavior.      

Giddy One didn’t care, he was not a participant.  He raised both hands, gave thanks to his God, lowered his head and went to work, enjoying every morsel.  She remained reticent, tentative, timid, a captive of the circumstances; looking around, taking only a small portion of food initially – dangling it on the tip of the fork – to taste, carefully – as if poison doesn’t kill in small portions. 

Her face told – ummm – then the verbal expression escaped, telling the observing primates (us), the world was fine.  The bold seasonings entered every orifice, captured the senses, and compelled her guest to take a sip of water (only water, remember).  The owner heard, smiled in a sleepy, small town, southern kind of manner.  Reticent One’s reaction was no different from others.  The owner had seen the reaction before; she knew she had captured another beast.     

Reticent One moved downward for a larger forkful.  She lowered her shoulders, more relaxed, squeezed-in, like the rest of us had been for some time.  Giddy One remained locked in place, eating, saying little, nodding, wiping, shucking – each fingers – a consumed man.  He was at home, comfortable, among his fellow primates. 

All good stories possess a dramatic turn at some point.  This one does too.  First seen in the hands (much like an arthritic twitch) – flowing to both arms – upward, outward – having a cause-effect on the stomach; moving – inward, outward, causing air to propel through the diaphragm; expanding, causing a vibration in the vocal cords; causing the clear and distinct utterance of two words – only two – distinctly filling the small space we collectively shared.    

“… A roach…!”- Her first words spoken since entering the restaurant.

I looked at my food – saw no roach. I’m good.  I kept eating.

My painter was with me – he took his fork and moved the food around in the plate – looking, looking – looking.  “No roach”, he said.  He too was good.  He kept eating.

Daughter moved slowly out of the kitchen – no rush in her step.  She stood next to the Shattered Soul’s table and inquired, “Where?”

Shattered Soul pointed.  Daughter looked, nodded in agreement. 

“Yep, that’s a roach.” 

Shattered Soul didn’t say she had taken a couple of bits.  Daughter didn’t make her eat the mean.  She did the right thing – I guess – if we are to go by my standards.  She didn’t argue. She took the plate and disappeared.  The other primates went back to eating. 

Daughter came back and placed a fresh plate in front of Shattered Soul.

“Here…”

Giddy One finished his food.  Shattered Soul didn’t finish hers. 

Giddy One paid for both meals, happy, waving to everyone as he open the door for Shattered Soul.  We stayed in our lane, never asking why Shattered Soul wasn’t given a free meal.          

҈            ҉            ҈

Martin Lawrence – the comedian – commonly bases his comedy on a rather simple concept – bouncing someone, something – said with comedic effect, in a declaratory, derisive, off-putting manner, metaphorically ridding himself of the offending person or thing.  In music, the concept can be described more like – bounce-bounce – found in all genres, done with raised hands, a frenetic, participatory crowd in place, accompanied by a pulsating, melodic beat.  I muse to say, sometimes we have to bounce in life and not sweat the small stuff.  Put ourselves in the shoes of the other person – even if the other person, in our eyes is a damn fool – and even when seemingly, we shouldn’t – bounce.     

Cold, overcooked/undercooked, limp/burnt, greasy fries – we have eaten worst.  Complain – sure, do so – however once the push back comes, particularly when the fool comes from behind the counter – bounce!  Thrown both hands up, move backward … bounce!  Complain later and never go back.  No, no, no, don’t follow the fool and re-enraged.  The customer is not always right – particularly when pushing, pushing, pushing an overworked and underpaid worker, uttering abrasive words.  My Mother’s mother would have slapped the customer on the first step, while never uttering a profane word. 

My, my … back to the video – the worker in New Orleans can be seen pushing, shoving, assaulting, letting years of frustrations come out on a customer’s head.  He in turn being the drunk manly-type – I think that’s what we call it – stood his ground – and was an abrasive, utter ass.  Over french-fries?  Really?! 

I get it – the workers/owners/managers are sick to death of the games people play.  Maybe the confluence of the sun, wind, the tropical depressions, and one too many YouTube videos are the proximate causes for the bad days playing out before our eyes. 

Struggling to make a profit, working with the public – is always difficult proposition – for owners.  The workers show up not because they love McDonalds, they are trying to feed themselves, their families, realizing the salary the corporation is paying them is even sufficient to allow them to regularly eat at McDonalds.    

“You’re going to pay for the sandwich.” 

No, I didn’t see race in New Orleans during lunch.  I saw a tired restaurant worker/owner who was sick and tired, sick and tired.  She never heard a word I said.   She told me her truths instead; particularly when commanding me to eat the sandwich and shut up; the same as my mother would have, her mother would have … and you know what you do in those circumstances … you eat the sandwich and bounce.  Our exchange was a real world one – she instructing me on the literal meaning of the word bounce – which I did, like a ball. 

“Eat and enjoy your sandwich, pay and leave.” 

I complied with each instruction, left a tip, bouncing and giggling at the horrified New York, New Yorker.  “Gurl, she ain’t goin’ to hit me up-side the head.”  I knew she would.  I knew she could.           

So I muse…

JUST MUSING: “She ran fast – fast-fast…”

Jennifer Anderson began April’s London Marathon intent on besting an existing record contained in Guinness’ World Records, for running a marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform.  She did – bested the established record.  So she thought – crossing the finish line at 3:08:22, faster than the record-breaking time on the books of 3:08:54.  Guinness said she didn’t – didn’t break the record – because the outfit she wore wasn’t proper.  Is that not the proper British way of saying what was said?  Who cares?      

Nurse Anderson wore blue scrubs.  Her supposed failure was she didn’t don a traditional cap, a pinafore apron, and a blue or white dress.  What period of time was Guinness dragging us?  Did the definition of a nurse’s uniform derive from the trove of Eighteenth Century Romance novels found under the editor’s foot board?   

Nurse Comwell slid the brass spittoon in place.  The vessel was cool to touch.  Madelyn wasn’t. The metals emitted a muted tinge, brass against the iron running board.  Her dying patient was not aroused by the contact, not so in her head; Madelyn’s  desires were awaken.  She adjusted her pinafore apron, the blue uniform next, followed by the nurse’s hat sitting on the rear portion of her head – much like an invasive phallic symbol – standing at attention, claiming possession of tousled, auburn hair.    

Jennifer doth protest – she knew, just knew, as did the public, Guinness read the wrong novel. She explained to Guinness its type of uniform was outdated.  Days later Guinness agreed, ruling she did – win. 

Guinness didn’t say what it based its reversal. I imagine they probably heard the howls of those nurses who have cared, pinched, cajole others over the years; running hospitals, clinics, nursing home – nursing family members when off-duty – whispering, when moving from place to place, to others higher in rank to stop, “before you kill him.” 

I muse to say the competition didn’t have a chance. Nurse Anderson was in her element, running hither and yon with ease.  She probably had time to tell other runners to correct their posture, alter their running style, or to stop running on the side of their feet.  At the three mile post she passed a colleague.  She whispered he should stop at the next rest station – “your color is off a little” – doubling down, increasing her pace, while sweat properly wicked within the scrubs, doing what they were designed to do.  The advice Nurse Anderson bequeathed is not the point of this mythical musing.  The competition didn’t have a chance because Nurse Anderson was running in well-worn scrubs, washed repeatedly, folding and bending with the contours of the body as she ran.  Riding the back of Pegasus, dismounting half-way through the course and mounting Flicker, and two hundred meters from the finish line dismounting, looking around to see if she had any paperwork to do, and computer entries to make, prior to crossing the finish line in record time. 

Postscript:  Maybe she knew she could do it because her mother was of the switch persuasion – pulling, tugging, ripping a branch from the tree, causing her to fun faster than humanly possible to do what she told her mother she had done, supposed to have done, four hours before.  The dishes remained mounted in place, the kitchen floor still contained specs of food she had been told to sweep and mop, the dogs still had not been fed.  She didn’t know the dogs told, jumping and knocking on mother’s bedroom window.  She ran. She ran fast – fast-fast. Washing, moving from station to station, keeping her head down, mouth shut, cleaning, sweeping, thinking what profession she would be able to join to use her considerable multi-tasking skills and knowledge – how best to run from a switch – Pegasus’ and Flicker’s absence – and the type of uniform worn – be damned.   

JUST MUSING: “We’re being rolled…”

George Raymond Wagner was an American professional wrestler best known by this ring name Gorgeous George.  George gained mainstream popularity and was one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling from 1940-1950. While pundits debate the influences of the President’s influences: Fox News, Fox & Friends, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, I possess a different view after reading about the President’s Thanksgiving interview, explaining what made him thankful.

When asked what he was most thankful for, the President turned the focus upon himself, “For having a great family, and for having made a tremendous difference in this country. I’ve made a tremendous difference in the county.” Of course, one can attempt to color his statements and point out he – the President – mentioned his family first.  Any such attempt would be for naught. He then proceeded to do what he do (sic) – he doubled down, in a true Gorgeous George kind of way, “This country is so much stronger now that it was when I took office that you wouldn’t believe it.”  The hair, telling anyone willing to listen, making us listen – controlling the narrative – gift wrapped with constants references to himself.

“I am the greatest.” The Gorgeous George model, before Muhammad Ali pronounced himself as such; acknowledged by Ali as his greatest influence.

“This is a man’s world”, sung by James Brown, borrowed from Gorgeous George, adopted by Donald John Trump, every day. You don’t get it still?  We are being rolled.

For those who are not Trump fans, get over it, we seen this before. Supporting Ali no matter what, laughing at the thumping of his nose at the establishment; “I’ am a pretty man.”  Sounds familiar doesn’t it.

Calling his opponents out of their name, “a gorilla”, directed at one, no one stepped forward and condemned the act, ostracize him because of his conduct; loving him more, while he acknowledged he watched Gorgeous George sell out arenas because people either wished for, prayed for his defeat, or agreed  with him – no matter.

“I’m a bad man.” Selling out – hate, hate, hate – wanting his blood, while we cheered – pretty much – loving the conceit, seeing a pretty, youthful, brash Cassius Clay/Ali recite poetry, holding the nation, the world, fans and enemies captivated.  Don’t be shocked if the braggart who you hate so intensely is reelected.  Waving to enthralled crowd, identifying enemies, assuring the stage lighting is right, dominating the news hour, the news days; the light reflecting perfectly off a dyed mane, even on bad hair days.

The evolution of Gorgeous George was a gradual process. Perfecting his shtick – the robe,  the pre-fight ritual, bragging, bragging, bragging, then deciding to dye his mane and preen to friends and foes alike.  Gorgeous was quoted saying, “If guts is all it takes. I’ve got plenty”, when making the decision to go blond.

So George decided to become a glamour boy, too. He let his hair grown longer and wavier. The next step was to a beauty salon in Hollywood to inquire about a wig. After some thought, it was decided a wig would be too easy to yank off in the ring, so the beautician turned George over to two Hungarian hair stylists, Frank and Joseph, who recommended he grow his hair long and bleach it blond – “if he had the guts.” “If guts is all it takes, I’ve got plenty,” said George.

For those of you who are Trump fans, you’re forgiven. Buying into the bluster, laughing loudly when Gorgeous Donald redirects the argument; always redirecting everyone’s attention back to himself; conduct no different than them/us/we folks have done when buying into out-sized personalities.

“I know more about science.” “I could have been a good general.” “I know big words.” I’m sure he would have used, “I’m the greatest”, if not recognized and attributed Gorgeous George and later Ali. Plenty of guts, saying the outrageous, while fans/voters ignore transgressions, no matter how outrageous, no matter how high the pile grows;  “Ain’t no mountain high enough”, isn’t that how the lyrics read?  Feel no guilt, go out and ignore the rest of the world’s protestations, even if to your detriment.  Support the outsize personality. We did it for Ali, ignoring his flaws (isn’t he pretty, isn’t he fine); referring to Floyd Patterson as “the good Negro”, Sonny Liston as “Bigger Thomas”, isolating these black fighters from the rest of black community. Joe Frazier went to his grave perpetually hurt for the labels placed on him by Ali.

We did the same for James Brown (again another fan of Gorgeous George), no matter how many times he was placed in jail for hitting another woman.  Brown’s daughter, Dr. Yamma Brown wrote in her book, Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me ,“As much as I loved my father, and I sure loved him.  I hated him during those times.” Not surprisingly, she explained she acted no different than any other domestic violence victims, “[a]fter a while, she followed in the footsteps of her mother – ‘and acted as if the beatings hadn’t happened.’”   On the good foot, you say?

Arrested on numerous occasions relating to domestic abuse during the course of his life; puffing up like Gorgeous George; Papa’s got a brand new bag, didn’t he? No he didn’t.  We paid little mind to any of this malfeasance conduct, and kept dancing.  I got that feeling. I got that feeling. So does Gorgeous Donald’s supporters.

So to the minority who supported Gorgeous Donald – as he reminds us – your boy will continue to wreak havoc on the Constitution.  So I say, I understand.  I do. I do.  To achieve a bit more appreciation to this tribute to bombastic behavior, I wish I could say, just musing!  I am not, the stakes are too high.

JUST MUSING: “Shame on you…”

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is abandoning the presence of the comedian/comic/comedienne during next year’s annual dinner, April 27, 2019. For those you who are slow on the uptake – the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) is an organization of journalists who cover the White House and the President of the United States. The organization was founded in 1914 and has an annual dinner. The dinner began in 1921 and traditionally is attended by the President and Vice-President. Since 1983 the feature speaker at the dinner has been a comedian. The proceeds from the dinner funds scholarships for gifted students in college journalism programs.

*       *     *

Crumbled – an imperfect ball – tattered along the edges, perfect for tossing into the nearest receptacle, with no intent at recycling; done with little explanation, substituted with a clean sheet, replaced by a historian. Are you kidding me?

*        *     *

There is no intent on my part to speak animus/hate against historians, or against next year’s speaker. He may be the kindness, smartest, most articulate speaker in the world. That is not my point. I simply possess a disdain for willful, historical ignorance which equates comics to court jesters, whose role is to willingly pay homage to the King.

Who is the press paying homage to by discarding the comic? The President, members who have been insulted, a marauding, insulted public?  The comic part of my personality tells me most of them didn’t grow up in large families, possess little melanin in their skin hues, exist in a new world in which the comic are pulled out of the classroom and placed on Ritalin protocol.

They are the protectors of the socially awkward; capable of reaching upward, disturbing the normal course of business, asking the most asinine, brilliant, observant questions. They – comics – seemingly gilded with a gold coated fearlessness, capable of saying what others thought, needed to be said; smiling, smirking outwardly, while the rest of us struggle to contain and envelope the same smirk. Seeing our insecurity, channeling their and our anger, stress, undefined plight – saying, saying – saying – what needed said.

What part of Michelle Wolf’s – last year’s featured comic – routine wasn’t true? Absolutely, she didn’t say what she said in a light most favorable to a sensitive press. She raised her hand, introduced herself and poked; doing what comics do and should do.

She called you – the press – cowards and complicit with the White House.  Isn’t this the same as telling the rest of us the king has no clothes?  She didn’t tell knock-knock jokes and she shouldn’t.  She didn’t tell us why, what or where the chicken was going or doing when it went from one side of the road to the other – who gives a hoot!  She didn’t pay homage to Bob Hope, comic to the Presidents. Maybe too many of them are still alive, missing the days of yore, Bob Hope – Bing Cosby – Jerry Lewis – Dean Martin – Joey Bishop. Men who admitted their role was to support the war, any war, and the presidents, growing incredibly wealthy along the way; forever refusing to make those in power the brunt of the joke. In their world humor never had a double edge.

I’m going to skip a lot of the normal pleasantries. We’re at a Hilton, it’s not nice. This is on C-SPAN, no one watches that. Trump is president, it’s not ideal. White House Correspondents’ Association, thank you for having me, the monkfish was fine. Just a reminder to everyone, I’m here to make jokes, I have no agenda, I’m not trying to get anything accomplished. So everyone that’s here from Congress, you should feel right at home.

She did what comics do – didn’t she?  Showing up with a shit-eating comic grin intact, the same grin we have seen for years; the class clown, much like our friends whose sense of humor tilted both left and right, forever smiling, struggling with his/her demons through humor. Making the rest of us think; taking risks, while exposing the King and his minions. She/he is/was/will remain an equal opportunity slayer. This is why the comic is loved/hated/despised, saying what the rest of us wished we could.

Now, before we get too far, a little bit about me. A lot of you might not know who I am. I am 32 years old, which is an odd age — 10 years too young to host this event, and 20 years too old for Roy Moore. I know, he almost got elected, yeah. It was fun. It was fun.

Honestly, I never really thought I’d be a comedian, but I did take an aptitude test in 7th grade, and this is 100% true. I took an aptitude test in 7th grade and it said my best profession was a clown or a mime. Well, at first it said clown, and then it heard my voice and was like, “Or maybe mime. Think about mime.

Poking the bear, the bully, then turning on the bully’s supporters before laughing at a beguiled audience who entered moments earlier, naively believing the role of the comic was to support them. The Press now mimics the executive branch, revoking the comics’ pass.  How sad is this?

No more comedians at the press dinner; smells a little too repressive to me.  Does the press association actually believe playing to totalitarian impulses doesn’t make them complicit in the behavior? “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”, seems to be the best way of explaining the Press’ reaction; standing for free speech until punched in the mouth, turning, running for cover; trying to make sense of this bold new-world, while the bully keeps punching; refusing to stand and fight, and punch the damn bully in the nose.  Turning on the court jester, blaming her/him; instead of supporting the jester for telling the truth about him – her – others.

Thanks to Trump, pink yarn sales are through the roof. After Trump got elected, women started knitting those pussy hats. When I first saw them I was like, “That’s a pussy?” I guess mine just has a lot more yarn on it. Yeah. You should have done more research before you got me to do this.

 

Good joke, bad joke, some hit, some don’t … comme ci comme ça… that’s my point. 

The press should understand the importance of the comic.  Comics invite the diversity of life into any room, telling tales in an apropos/in apropos manner, tone and tenor, particularly when the traditional outlets fail, causing the listener to believe they are forever one of us – even if they don’t know your Aunt Matilda from pooh.  So the Press Association slays the comic while a full-scale assault on the First Amendment and our rights takes place on the other side of the walls.  None of this makes sense to me.

Have they bothered to read Mark Twain, wasn’t he in part a comic? How about Benjamin Franklin, forever poking the bear – farting proudly – even though most of his life he was just as much part of the den as others.

Now, I worked in a lot of male-dominated fields. Before comedy, I worked at a tech company, and before that, I worked on Wall Street, and honestly, I’ve never been sexually harassed. That being said, I did work at Bear Stearns in 2008, so although I haven’t been sexually harassed, I’ve definitely been fucked. That whole company went down on me without my consent. And no men got in trouble for that one, either.

*        *     *

Count me as confused. Stupefied by a stupid decision, made in board rooms divorced from the rest of the world, looking at their bottom-line, hurriedly moving toward black limousines waiting out front, not knowing the driver is still laughing at Michelle Wolf’s routine, not listening to no damn books on tape, instead listening to what pissed them off so much, to the extent of killing the comic, her/his classmate. Shame on you!

You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you. He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. If you’re going to profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money, because he doesn’t have any.

 

JUST MUSING: “Even those mean white men down at the Cotton Gin…”

Some of life’s lessons never leave us, even if buried, unseen for years, presumably gone the way of lost memories.  The lessons remain engraved, assuming a dominant position at unforeseen times, buried in some undefined place in our psyches.  Forgotten but not forgotten is a contradictory way of explaining that which is not contradictory, and not complex.  My mother’s mother use repetitiveness and firm commands to make her point, “respect your elders.”  It was never “yes”, unless followed by “ma’am”.  “No, sir”, even for the mean white men down at the Cotton Gin, when I dare asked.  Correcting, reminding, reaching over, grabbing – a hand-full of shirt – converting me into the boy puppet.  “Yes, ma’am,” head moving up and down, arms now engaged in the submissive mode; eyes, mouth, body movements – everything – controlled by the puppet-master.  If the hand inserted in the back didn’t work, a firm tap on the back of the head seemed to work just fine; reminding, re-engaging the circuitry, somewhat akin to striking the television set of my youth on the side, the top, in the back, in order to get a clearer picture; in the case of Chester Anna, to elicit a proper response.

“Yes sir.”

I have never fooled myself to believe the training was not successful.  Mind’s eye said she possessed the ability to sneak anywhere, day or night, and she did so when placing a stamp of approval, visible only to her, in a location I could not see, certifying I was sufficiently compliant and properly trained in the etiquette of the society.   She retained these powers even after her death.  No need for you to give me any mystical explanation of what I believe.  I don’t care.  It is what I believe.  I don’t need an explanation.

“No, ma’am, I am not hungry.  I don’t want anything to eat.  Thank you anyway,” words said even when starving, sitting in place, not moving, while aromas moved from kitchen to the living area, invading every ounce of a child’s deprived body, wanting to say yes, wanting to admit hunger, knowing full well the consequences if you did..  A “no, ma’am” feebly emitted; forever hearing Chester Anna’s admonishments, seeing her hand near – none of those vivid rainbow sightings, no beautiful flowers, no smiling faces – no, no, no, her presence was always accompanied by a stare, more intense than the sun’s glow, never profane, forever pious.  However ready to erupt, much like Mount Agung, on a moment notice, willing to test the circuitry at any moment.  Tap! Tap!

“You eat at home!”

These were lessons ingrained.  Never assume they have been lost over time.  Not my history.  Forever receiving reminders, similar to flood water, invading no matter what mystical powers you believe will protect you from Mother Nature.  Somewhat akin to being reminded intelligence is never artificial, no matter what they tell us – whatever that means – but I digress.

The most recent reminder was this Thanksgiving.  Appearing not in disguise; easily recognizable; so apparent I thought this is a trick question.  Surely Chester Anna was lurking, waiting for me to respond improperly, ready to move across the room – tapping, tapping, tapping a cane pole against the floor.  I was not going to be fooled.  I will never be fooled.  Never, ever again; I know my role.

After saying “no” twice to attending a family dinner to two different and equally important family members, I received a call from an elder, my 96 year old mother-in-law.  “You are coming to the family dinner?  Even though I have placed a question mark after the words, there was no question mark buried in the intent.  There lies the trick.  She knew the answer to the question and wanted me to repeat the answer to make sure I understood.  She didn’t wait for an answer to the first statement.  She followed immediately with, “If you don’t attend, I will never speak to you as long as I am alive.”  The last statement/test/trick was followed by a chuckle.  A Lena chuckle, forever laughing at her own jokes, affirming to me she had spoken to Chester Anna.    I looked around to see if Chester Anna was in the room.  I saw skeleton images, like the ones seen the Day of Dead celebrations in Mexico.  I didn’t think for a moment to wait for them to reveal theirs were costumes.  I answered immediately.  Knowing you always answer immediately.  Loud enough, so she could hear, so Chester Anna could hear.  Loud enough to receive my collar back, to be permitted to move off my toes, to the floor again.  “Yes, ma’am I will be there.”  No mumbling allowed.  Clear diction, said in a manner which said I meant every word.  Said with a correct posture, so there would be no doubt, just in case either of them was staring at meet through the phone lines, from some unseen place to cast retribution.

No more deviance.  No more saying what I will not do.  Immediate compliance in order that the images would move away, “what time do you want me there?”, was the question.  Laugh if you want.  I was a ten year compliant little boy, retreating backward in time, paying respects to an elder, knowing my place.  The same respect I paid to “even those mean white men down at the Cotton Gin.”

“One o’clock.”

“Yes ma’am, see you there.”

JUST MUSING: “Don’t be duck-ist…”

Mickey Mouse and his charge were angered by The Los Angeles Times reporting on Disney’s relationship with the City of Anaheim.  The Times’ story posed questions about Mickey’s influence on the City, to the detriment of other taxpayers.  After the Times refused to retreat, Mickey, Daffy, Goofy, and Elsa (a new generation star), persuaded the Board of Disney to invoke a Times only ban on the Times preview of Disney’s new releases.  For those unfamiliar, the press is allowed the opportunity to see new releases prior to the movies’ distribution to the public.  The Times responded in kind, issuing a press release telling the public about Mickey’s edict.

NOV. 3, 2017, 6:00 A.M.

A note to readers

The annual Holiday Movie Sneaks section published by the Los Angeles Times typically includes features on movies from all major studios, reflecting the diversity of films Hollywood offers during the holidays, one of the busiest box-office periods of the year. This year, Walt Disney Co. studios declined to offer The Times advance screenings, citing what it called unfair coverage of its business ties with Anaheim. The Times will continue to review and cover Disney movies and programs when they are available to the public.

 

Donald was the only one who sided with the Times.  Standing alone, on the right side of the Board room, one webbed foot planted on the floor, the other on the wall; leaning back, quacking, protesting much too loudly, speaking imperceptibly against the Board’s anticipated decision.  A good transcriptionist would have had difficulty deciphering Donald’s mutterings; spitting out choice words, some profane, in the heart of Walt’s world.              “The Board’s rule strikes at the heart of the First Amendment.   The right of a free and an unfettered press,” Donald’s words, translated to plain-speak.  Mickey and the others were nonplussed.  Mickey turned to his right, cuffed both hands, telling Snow White – and the other seven – to stop giggling.  A non-jolly Mickey, a different face than his public face; frowning instead of smiling, speaking in a lower octave – a bass not a tenor – explaining, “He knows not what he is doing,” seemingly revealing the voice the public has heard all these years was made-up, a false, comical, insulting, falsetto.

“We are not preventing them from reporting.   There is nothing requiring us to allow the Times to review of our movies, Mr. Duck.  Mr. Disney would be terribly disappointed in your position.  I have to tell you I am.   The Board is apparently in agreement, Mr. Duck.  The will of the majority, not the tyranny of the majority – as I heard you say,” said the Board’s chair.

Donald stood firm, hissing, spouting, spitting his words out – not Cajun, not Bawstan, nothing like the most severe southern accent – words spilling out in an unpredictable cadence, with quacks interspersed unexpectedly, further muddling his opposition.  Donald’s anger compounded the problem, distorting his diction, making the opposition doubly unreasonable.

Donald believed in free speech, even for Elmer Fudd.  Fudd didn’t look like him.  Fudd believed differently than he.  Fudd wasn’t part of the Disney family.  Donald didn’t know what Fudd was; he even sounded funny to Donald, a stuttering, cartoonish buffoon was Donald’s unkind opinion of Mr. Fudd.  The interesting part of their relationship – Donald understood what Fudd was saying when he talked.  His difficulty lay in Elmer’s tendency to repeat himself.  He also detested Fudd calling him down for cursing.  None of these differences with Fudd mattered at this time.  Donald was a pure civil libertarian.  He believed in the right of free speech even for Fudds; meaning others, friends and foes alike.

Donald was wrong however on his First Amendment point to the Board.  The Board’s lawyer delightfully corrected him.  “We are not the government Mr. Duck, and the last time I checked no one has amended the First Amendment to add anyone other than Congress.  ‘Congress and Disney … shall make no laws,’ no, no, no, not how it works.  I have never seen Disney’s name referenced in the Constitution.”

Oh, ‘the not how it works”, got everyone going; hissing, cackling, laughing, clapping, stomping, a rather cartoonish, clownish, clannish bunch they were – Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Belle, Princess Jasmine, Maleficent and even Elsa turned in unison, shouting Donald down, pointing to the floor.  The scene took on the ambiance of a sporting event, done in a style that only Disney could produce.  Thumb emojis floated across the screen located on the back wall behind the Board, pointing downward.  Disney being Disney, the animations were life-like; they moved off the screen, floated through the air, pointing downward, frowning while they travelled in the unison.  Riotous, cavorting, snickering behavior was the mood of those watching this mean version of the Wonderful World of Disney, converting and changing the words of the theme song, “When you wish upon a star, makes a difference who you are.”  Daisy, Donald’s girlfriend, turned, batted her eyes and spit.  Instead of sputum flying the fifteen feet separating them, animated block letters flew out and upward, then corrected themselves, lining up in an orderly manner, and instead of a Disney-like chorus line, they spelled out the word, L-O-S-E-R.

The Board ignored Donald’s plea, leaving Donald isolated.  They voted their intent, exited stage right, and were heard mumbling over a live microphone, “He always quacks.”  The comment angered Donald.  He found the comment derogatory, off-putting, hateful; bordering on being … “duck-ist.”

The Board knew the law.  Disney has and always has had good lawyers.  The same lawyers who refused to give an interview to The Los Angeles Times when the story broke.  The law firm is located in Sleepy Hollow.  Absolutely, the lawyers had advised Disney correctly: “Disney can’t control the Times’ reporting (“the right of a free press is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution”) … “we don’t owe them the right to review our movies early.”

So it was, the Board accepted their lawyer’s advice; we don’t have to talk to you defense.  Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Iger approved the motion, followed by a second, told Mr. Duck he was out of order, followed by the previously predicted unanimous vote; putting in place a Los Angeles Times only policy.  Thus the Mickey induced policy allowed Disney to raise the ladders, secret behind the moat, permitting Iger and his minions to secret away to their magical castles to cherish the applause of the admiring minions.

Joy, joy, joy filled the air, Donald grew silent, dejected and moved toward the exit, while others in Disney’s universe celebrated, anticipating a joyous holiday season and wonderful reviews of Disney’s movies with the banishment of the tattletales.  Donald’s sadness permitted the door to hit him where it shouldn’t – dead center – rousing him from his stupor, causing the emission of a severe, shrill, startling quack, propelling Donald upward and outward into the arms of the Times’ reporter.  She was there covering the meeting, and exited before Donald to interview him for a follow-up story.

Donald was particularly fond of the Times’ reporter.  No, no, don’t jump to conclusions.  Donald’s not like that; never has been; never will be; Donald is Donald, a different Hollywood star.  A different relationship was theirs.  He was the reporter’s source in a number of different areas:  labor issues, mergers and acquisitions, even admitting he had a favorite Mouseketeer.  This last admission appeared in a fluff piece published in January 2015.  The reporter was forever mining sources, listening, reporting, loving the breadth and size Disney represented.  A fan, a critic and now standing in the hallway, holding Donald, catching him with a basket catch, the same catch she had deployed in the Lassie League in San Bernardino when she was a child.

҉            ҉            ҉

The Disney universe is vast.  Disney’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing of subsidiaries reflects ownership of different entities worldwide, including the familiar Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Pixar, Marvel Studios, ABC broadcast television network, cable television networks such as Disney Channels, ESPN, A & E Networks and Lucas Films.  Other studios which are part of this conglomerate:  Touchstone Pictures, Maker Studios, and ABC Studios.  Disney also owns multiple musical publishing companies, resorts, and theatrical groups.   Disney’s holdings are worldwide; delivering a gross income in 2016 of 22.91 billion.  A conglomerate engaged in the business of speech through various means; movies, books, publications, entertainment, and advertisements.  Cornell Law School’s website explains, “Commercial speech has been defined by the Supreme Court as speech where the speaker is more likely to be engaged in commerce, where the intended audience is commercial or actual or potential consumers, and where the content of the message is commercial in character.”

Notwithstanding, what one may think of Disney’s size, the Board’s lawyer was right with regards to her assessment of the law and the proper way of protecting her client.  Moving a recognizable flock of white hair with one hand, back over her head; mingling the hair with hair a different color.  A raven now appeared, hovering overhead.  The lawyer emitted a laugh heard before, a familiar laugh.  Her name was Cruella de Vil.  Before going to law school de Vil was part of the studio’s permanent cast.  A classical, mean, beauty was she.  Meaning of the last statement? – One of those people who possessed a non-welcoming smile, a smile which was not a smile, an illusion.  Lawyer de Vil could honestly brag that she didn’t look her age.  Nary an errant line; possessing the same youthful mane when introduced to the public in 1961 (101 Dalmatians); same laugh, she was the original Frozen, frozen in place, over time, preserved.   Disney’s creators served her well.  Now a different profession, stacking papers, with an eerie smile affixed, talking to an associate:  “Mr. Duck’s reaction when he flew off the wall was classic.  When the emoji struck him on the side the head, it was better than any other animation I have ever seen.  Flying, stumbling out of the room, getting struck dead smack under his tail.  Bravo!  Dead center, I say, dead center!”

҉            ҉            ҉

In 1938 Mickey, Donald and Goofy starred in a film-short in which Goofy damn near got Donald killed.  Donald, for some reason, blamed Mickey.  There was a considerable period of time in which they did not speak.  Gossip has it Donald held the grudge for ten years and didn’t appear (voluntarily) in another film-short, until 1954.  May be true, may be not true.  The truth of their past didn’t matter when Donald exited, webbed feet first.  Donald understood fundamental rights were not about friendship.

The initial Los Angeles Times story was written by Daniel Miller and was published on September 24, 2017.  The story was entitled, Is Disney paying its share in Anaheim?:  The money battle outside the Happiest Place on Earth.  The article revealed some startling information, including the following introduction:

 A few hours after the gates swing open at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, the cars are still pouring into the massive 10,241-space parking garage.

They zoom into the six-story concrete structure, carloads of costumed kids, foreign tourists and graying baby boomers sporting Mickey Mouse ears, “Frozen” dresses and “Star Wars” backpacks.

The cash pours in too: Each vehicle pays $20 to park at the Mickey & Friends facility, $35 for a preferred space close to the escalators and elevators.

Even if the parking garage fills just half its spaces, it would still generate more than $35 million in annual revenue and easily hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the structure.

That money all goes to Walt Disney Co. The city of Anaheim, which owns the garage and spent $108.2 million to build it, charges the company just $1 a year for the lease.

The Times’ article concluded, and rightly so, that Disney is the master of obtaining subsidies for its ventures, securing “$866 million in incentives it secured for film production, real estate development and other projects from 2000 to 2016”, far outpacing “incentives won by its rival media conglomerates, according to IncentivesMonitor, a services of data firm Wavteq Ltd.  Disney’s haul was more than double what Time Warner Inc., Comcast Corp, Viacom Inc. and 21st Centruy Fox Inc. each got over the same period.”  The Times’ reporting did what a free press does, the article begged the questions which needed answering, allow fresh air to enter, invited sunlight to shine on a conglomerate, even one as beloved as Disney, to ascertain whether the Government was wisely using public funds.  Too much fresh air entered, The Times got itself banned the from the preview of Disney’s new releases, and the instatement of The Los Times’ only rule.  A rule instated to punish the press for telling on them; telling the public what Mickey and his friends were doing to the rest of us.

Donald understood free speech meant protecting the odious message too, even if the message was hostile to his interest.  Never aging, appearing in film-short after film-short, known world-wide, knowing his position may well lead to his demise – erased from tablets, deleted from computers, digitally altered, morphing into something else other than Donald Duck were the dangers he faced.   Donald had treaded this path before, once helping organize Park employees, who wanted to publicly tell which characters the employees played.  Fortune Magazine in June 2015 reported the dispute.  This union is attacking Disney’s weirdest policy, read Fortune’s caption.  The union – the Teamsters – represented the Park employees.

And what was Mr. Mouse’s position in this dispute?  Suck-up Mickey could not have cared less; always the favorite son; forever supportive of management, squeaking submissively.  Mickey could well have invented the quiet-ass-mouse adage (no mistake here on the adage, he was a quiet-ass mice, a suck-up).  Donald has always differed, forever irascible, confrontational, however never to the extent of silencing his and others rights.  Donald tendered information to the Teamsters, working toward resolving the dispute.  He stuck his beak out then.  He was sticking his beak out now.

On November 7, 2017, the New York Times reported thusly, Disney Ends Ban on Los Angeles Times Amid Fierce Backlash.  The Times reported that the change in course occurred when a number of news outlets, including the New York Times and A.V. Club said they were boycotting Disney’s advance screenings, in solidarity, until the Los Angeles’ Times only rule was lifted.  Their position was consistent with the unknown adage – because I’m making up an adage to apply to this story – Free Speech for Thee Too!

And since this musing is moving through the different levels of sanity, a few other points:   The New York Times’ story wasn’t totally accurate.  They failed to report on the meeting called by Mr. Duck; putting everything on the line, calling others to task, persuading they  vote against their economic interest in order to support free speech for themselves, friends, and competitors.  His was not a clear speech; his diction is never clear.  Spitting, sputtering, cursing – in a rage, he was – he was the not nice Donald.

Maybe the reporter for The New York Times didn’t understand what he was saying; had never seen any of his shorts; had never used him as a source.  The Los Angeles Times reporter sat in the corner laughing at their contempt, listening to the New York reporters mumble out loud, “A talking duck; a talking duck!”  She remained in place listening, chuckling to herself,  Give me a break, I have seen worse on the streets of New York … give me a frickin’ break buddy!   Donald was her favorite.  Didn’t I say that?

Those New Yorkers actually did a “fairly” (with contemptible air-quotes around “fairly”) good job in their reporting, biases notwithstanding.   Their story accurately reported the support of “several high-profile Hollywood figures, including Ava DuVernay, who directed A Wrinkle in Time, which is to be released by Disney on March 9.   Saluting the film journalists standing up for one another, Ms. DuVernay wrote on Twitter on Monday: ‘Standing with you.’”

What did those contemptuous reporters leave out?  They never mentioned the flying and attacking emojis.  They omitted references to the sputum which floated through the air like sputum initially before magically converting to block letters; letters which came out of nicey-nice Daisy’s mouth.  There was no mentioned of Cruella de Vil’s retirement and her now being a lawyer.  Disney never told us any of this, still playing the same films over and over again.  No mentioned of de Vil’s presentation (arrogant, rude, devious, cutting, and unbecoming of the profession).  Sure she looked marvelous (hair, skin tone, voice was the same, never aging not one day).  It seems to me – since I have plum fallen off the wagon with this musing – that none of her physical attributes should have mattered.  The reporting should have reported her role; she started the charge of the tyranny of the majority.  Those reporters probably didn’t trust the public knowledge of the term, tyranny of the majority and the persistent historical comfort in silencing the minority view.

The sad unwarranted and belligerent conduct of Mr. Disney’s favorites was not placed in the historical record; laughing, snorting, carrying on worse than Donald did in a 1952 film-short entitled Donald Duck – Trick or Treat.  Conduct worse than cartoonish, unreal.  Moreover, those foreigners entering a foreign land failed to mention Donald speaking at the meeting, calling a huddle of the reporters afterwards in the hallway, leading the formal meeting two days later, as he did for the Park employees in 2015, encouraging the press organizations and assorted celebrities to collectively boycott the Los Angeles Times only policy.  Seemingly those New Yorkers didn’t believe and didn’t believe their readers would believe.  Now you know the truth.

Perhaps, not believing, they too were being duck-ist.   Something we thought we were long past in our society.  We’re better than that.  Unfortunately in these times – this time – they were not.