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: “Yin – yang…”

Last night (July 19, 2017), I went to bed cataloging the things I wanted to accomplish the next day.  Taking to bed with me a newspaper to finish reading an article, completing the task, then sorting through news on the phone, seeing the report of an interview to be published in the next day in the Times.  Shaking my head, mumbling incoherent thoughts, seeing the accomplishments to be achieved the next day, wondering whether the task list was too long, falling off to sleep, believing, convinced all things are possible.

I complained in the last musing [Just Musing:  “I think he died in the zombie apocalypse…”], that my mind had taken an unexpected hiatus.  I sadly must report, after awakening at 3:00 a.m. such is not the case anymore.  An internal awakening, first, a gentle jab, followed by an alarm which refused to stop – ringing, ringing, ringing – malfunctioning in the worse way.  Compelling the body upward, announcing in bold, unmistakable terms – “you didn’t honestly think I was gone forever.”  Causing confusion, fully awaken, finding myself at a computer at 3:30 a.m., typing confessions.

Confession – I didn’t start shaving regularly until nearing the age of thirty – turning left, looking deep into the mirror – turning right.  Feeling for stubble – finding none – moving closer to the mirror, promising to dare not confess to others; as if shaving was part of the rites of passage; a determination of manhood.  Silly, silly man I was.

Confession two – the one time I used a deodorant I burned my underarms.  No older than 13/14 standing in front of Mamma showing, complaining; inflamed, reddened, painful unarms – watching her touch, smile, smell – “as only a mother can” – before speaking, “you’re lucky”.  Telling me not to bother, using logic, inquiring, awaiting an answer, walking away requiring me to figure out the rest.  Never imposing a male standard, what boys should do, what boys need to do, preaching against stereotypes.  No, that wasn’t Georgia way.

“Do you smell anything?”

“No.”

“Did you smell anything?”

“No.”

“You’re lucky, you don’t need a deodorant.  Also your skin is too sensitive.”

In an abstract written by Yutaka Nishiyama, the author postures Asian cultures prefer odd numbers, Westerner cultures prefer even numbers.  Quoting from the abstract seems appropriate:

Abstract: Japanese prefer odd numbers, while Westerners prefer even numbers. This is clear from the distribution of number-related words in Japanese and English dictionaries. This paper explains the reason for this cultural difference by surveying the history of numbers, Yin-Yang thought from ancient China, ancient Greek philosophy, and modern European mathematics.

The concept of numbers is seen in other aspects of our lives; in design, in the art of placement (feng shui), and even in storytelling.  Whether two examples are sufficient, or whether three examples have a different meaning in other cultures, I am going to play it safe and side with the rule of three and provide one more confession.   Confession three:  I didn’t start drinking coffee until the age of sixty (if you can call my habit “as drinking coffee” – a (as in one) cup in the morning).

The repairman was making a second – third – visit, in only a month.  Wondering out-loud why the coffee machine (a fancy relic of the law practice) was now deciding not to malfunction.

“The counter says you barely use the machine.”

“The counter is right.”

He fixed the machine, at a considerable price. Before leaving he gave me some advice, “If you don’t use it, it will continue to break down.”  To comply, I decided to make a cup a week, discarding the contents in the sink.  Something in the back of my head realized how wasteful this practice was, seeing my grandmother chastising me, standing over my shoulder, instructing me “not to waste food.”  Seeing images of years past, peeling potatoes, remembering her instructions, “it is not properly done until you can see through the potato hull.”  Watching her take the potato away and show me, wondering whether I could ever move as fast as she.

Telling the story of the machine to a friend, who came over to talk food, and continue the lesson on making Korean Seaweed and Rice rolls.  After making her a cup of coffee, Sue smiled, went over the coffee machine and retrieved a bean and bit, consuming the entire bean.

“Good for you.  Good for you.”

Extending a hand, handing the other bean she held to me (“bite it”); smiling, letting me figure out for myself, laughing at my silliness, discussing the origins of coffee, suggesting I drink a cup a day, or get rid of the machine.  Moderating behavior thereafter, consuming one cup a day when in place, seldom consuming coffee when on the road; don’t ask me why not on the road – I have not earthly idea.  But I digress; this musing has little or nothing to do with coffee, but more to do with the confusion which remains from reading what I read prior to going to sleep the night before.

My mother was a master of watching, listening and injecting at the right time.  When I was deciding on a major in college, she asked, “What is your decision?”  Never demanding; always stated in the question form; watching, waiting for an answer.

“Political science or religion…,” was my response.

“Why religion?” … “Do you have plans to teach?” … “Do you intend to open a church”, said with a smile.  I answered “no” to each question.  Mamma knew the answer was no.  I probably went through some long explanation of religious conflicts, wars, doctrines of various faiths around the world, world peace.  Mamma listened from afar, extended a spoon in the pot, tasting, turning, smile askance, before advising, “You needed to consider whether the School of Religion is a debating society, willing to debate faith.”  So political science it was, the study of culture and politics. I say the above to say, everything I has learned over the years has been turned on its head.   Perhaps I made the wrong choice.  Perhaps I need faith.  Confused … lost … bewildered … what is occurring?

It is now 4:41 a.m. in the morning.  I have not read today’s (July 20, 2017), New York Times’ story wherein our President admits he would not have appointed Attorney General Sessions if he knew Session was going to recuse himself from the Russian investigation.

No, I am not fan of Attorney General Sessions.  I didn’t think he was qualified to be a United States District Judge and was happy the Senate denied the attempt to promote him years ago; finding explicitly he wasn’t qualified to make decisions on others rights.  When the President-elect identified Sessions as a possible choice for Attorney General, the shudder returned.  This time no matter how reasoned the argument Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions was appointed to the highest law enforcement office in the land.  The plans of mice and men … maybe the mice will survive … I digressed again.  I’m sorry.

The reason I am confused:  I have never seen in my life someone, anyone, a President, continue to insist other constitutional office holders owe him a duty.  That shouldn’t be the role of the Attorney General.  He/she is not the personal lawyer for the President, if so the rule of law will always be subverted, no matter who the President.  Hoping against hope, not seeing the sun, wishing I knew an appropriate prayer, chewing on coffee beans, seeing the time (5:01 a.m.), having rushes of anxiety come in odd numbers, then even, flowing over and out, feeling for stubble, smelling, smelling, smelling the foulness of the his statement, wishing to see a day someone pulls the Constitution in one of his interviews with the alleged fake press, and use the document when questioning him about his continual assaults, which are nothing than fundamental attacks on the rule of law.

JUST MUSING: “Another crazy billionaire from New York…”

If the Republican administration and Congress repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, the former status quo revisits us, meaning twenty million people will be without insurance, possibly incapable of affording a market-based replacement policy.  I am not sure the administration or Congress cares.  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) makes clear the Act represents a fundamental sea-change in health care in this country, particularly as related to the treatment of mental health and substance use disorder:

The Affordable Care Act provides one of the largest expansions of mental health and substance use disorder coverage in a generation, by requiring that most individual and small employer health insurance plans, including all plans offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace cover mental health and substance use disorder services. Also required are rehabilitative and habilitative services that can help support people with behavioral health challenges. These new protections build on the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) provisions to expand mental health and substance use disorder benefits and federal parity protections to an estimated 62 million Americans.

Years ago, during a Saturday meeting with students enrolled in a trial advocacy class at the University of Houston Law School, the pre-meeting discussion moved from gossip, classes, to regional differences.  Listening, not listening; unfamiliar with any of the names, never part of the conversation, waiting on the clock to strike the anointed hour before beginning.  One of the students was an African American female from Detroit.  She started down the ill-advised road, meaning she turned the conversation toward regional differences.  I attempted to stay out the conversation, listening, not listening; diverting my attention to the traffic below, casting periodic glances at the time, the oleanders swaying in the medium, counting the number of boards interwoven/interlaced in the alcove.  The sun remained affixed on the other side of the room, staring, not yet making its journey over, across the room.

She didn’t stop at any of the visible stop signs.  Continuing, never taking a breath, openly questioning, “I don’t know why I’m here”, “I was accepted to at least two other law schools located in the northeast”.

Interspersing choice words, “backward”, “different”, “in the North we” … words designed to invoke a difference, assertions of superiority; driving a chasm.  Directing words at the six other students, five females, one male, all white Southerners; erecting walls, using truths, half-truths to evoke myths, northern myths, as much a part of America’s historical lore and the War of the States.

Dividing to strengthen her sense of self-worth, ignoring commonalities, not recognizing everyone has a crazy Uncle Donald, irascible, stupid; forever a tad bit narcissistic.  Tortured accents, fly-away, fly-over hair (blue-grey, black-grey-dirty white, brown/grey/black/blue), commonalities not seen solely in the South.  Generations’ past styles, mouthing the inappropriate, crazy, stupid-crazy souls, a universal commonality, as common as the universe of males suffering from male-pattern baldness, our crazy Uncle Donald, everyone got one.  Digging and picking inappropriately, wrong place, wrong time, from crotch to ear, to nose, to mouth.  Shocking everyone by the choice of movie, “Has anyone seen Finding Dory”, with the rest of us remaining perplexed, not able to tell if he is serious or not, or if it’s just more craziness.

Telling stories thirty years old, always beginning with, “I use to”, followed by and the word, “boy” and too many exclamation points.  Forever non-hip, even when trying to be hip; two steps forward, five back, stumbling over the table, breaking the table on step three, every time, every time, step three.

Touching every female relative the wrong way, a generational repulsion, none willingly to ride with him, stay in the same room, hastening a retreat when he smiles and moves one inch in their direction. “Uncle Donald” … always followed by that exclamation point, slanted eyes, and a look of disbelief, directed at anyone who would dare suggest any other conclusion than crazy; crazy yesterday, today, tomorrow.  My, my, my … I’ve digressed.

The African American female never crossed the line of attempting to compare her relatives to theirs.  No she didn’t go that far.  She might as well have done so; hers were the words of myth-making.  Somewhat akin to “Mexicans will cut you”, “Black people will shoot you”, “Southerners are backward.”  Seeing their eyes and body movement, the appearance of pride (in their southern heritage), causing her to abruptly change course, seeking support and affirmation, searching the room, turning to the only other African American in the room, me.  I couldn’t.  I wouldn’t.  I didn’t, lend support, suggesting instead she should look at transferring to Wayne State.   “If we’ve that stupid, move back.”

Years ago the New York gifted the rest of us another billionaire scion.  Traversing the country in disguise, living a vagabond’s existence, dressing out-of-type, hiding, secreting his wealth, killing, discarding the body, possessing enough money to structure more than an adequate legal defense – yes, he did.  He sure did.  Killing a white man, oddly named Black, cutting him up in discrete parts, discarding the parts against the wind, into the surf … Lord knows where ….  His acts, actions, conduct were never identified as “not as sophisticated.” No one categorized the behavior as the fundamental character trait of rich white men from New York. Never distinguishing them from others, refusing to apply the adverse label to the region, the small sub-group (rich white men existing in the unique world of the nano-percent).  Everyone agreeing, even those who have a tendency to trend toward urban myths, the conduct was that of a demented soul, and nothing more.

Myth-making represents the blending of facts, half-truths and flat-out lies.  Sometimes working to type, other times against type; always working toward a desired end, casting aside “the others” in order to bind a targeted group.  Done both orally, in writing, consciously and subconsciously, part tradition, evolving and perfecting over time; dividing, driving wedges, sustaining itself against logic to make the myth-maker more confident in himself/herself/themselves.  Oftentimes packaged differently, combed-over, dyed – the packaging matters not – the message is essentially the same, to convince the listener of the difference.  “We will be great again.”  “They’re different from us.”  “We are superior.”

Sometimes we have to just say no, and work against type.  Other times we have to ignore the persuasive messaging, no matter how wonderfully packaged.  No matter how well delivered, even when our conclusion seems illogical at the time.  A crazy Uncle Donald with money doesn’t mean he is any different than other crazy fools showing up at family affairs.   No one, in none of our families, dare assume our Uncle Donald is anything but crazy.  Crazy, always has been, always will be, crazy, money or no money.

“You are kidding me, right?  Please – that’s Uncle Donald – enroll him in the Affordable Care Act, get him help while we still can, and pass the peas.”

*          *          *

Today the oleanders remain in place, swaying gently against the southern breeze.  Last time I checked, the sun still tracts east to west.  Today, tomorrow, the day after, we must cast aside half-truths and lies, no matter how discomforting; a necessary elixir to protect “the others”, to protect ourselves.  If not, we should be free to believe that all billionaire white men from New York are crazy.

JUST MUSING: “Rock-paper-scissors” …

I never was good at the game rock-paper-scissors.  I can’t explain why.  Either I lost interest after one or two rounds, ultimately conceding, agreeing the other person was the winner, or I simply didn’t have the requisite skills to compete.  Wikipedia describes the game as “a zero sum game in which each player simultaneously forms one of three shapes with an outstretched hand.”   A simple fist (rock), a flat hand (paper), a fist with the index and middle fingers extend forming a V (scissors).  Rock beats scissors, paper cover rocks, and scissors in turn cut paper.  If both players choose the same shape, the game is tied and is usually immediately replayed to break the tie.  Maybe my inability and unwillingness to compete was because the game seemed to reduce winning to a simplistic absurdity.  Corrupting the game’s rules for me involved displaying the same form repeatedly.  No, I don’t know whether my chance of winning increased or decreased by forming the same figure.  No, I can’t give you any mathematical probabilities.  Opting out, choosing not to play – which I did, always, walking away, worried little whether rock-paper-scissors won.

I disagree with Wikipedia defining rock-paper-scissors as a zero-sum game. To me a zero sum game, in life, is a hand which is played when all else fails; occurring when there is a total loss of hope, followed by a be-damned decision, an act of defiance.  It is when life becomes unbearable, thus reducing winning to destruction, annihilation.  I am not sure I am making sense.  Let me try explaining with real world examples.

Palestinians strapping bombs onto their bodies to kill themselves and Israelis represents a zero-sum game – “my loss is your loss” – winning by losing, reducing life to an absurdity; an act which is clearly not a game of rock-paper-scissors.

A Tunisian vendor (Arab Spring), standing in the middle of the plaza and setting himself afire, taking his own life, is a zero sum game.  Rock-paper-scissors, ha!

Prisoners electing death over living is a zero sum game; indefinite detention, no hope of formal charges, or trial, in an isolated setting, invites hopelessness.  The game played at Guantanamo Bay is not rock-paper-scissors.  It is a life-game played against the backdrop of the total loss of hope causing the prisoners to react, taking power away from their captor, giving all, forsaking all to win.

*           *           *

I have been in a state of daze since the presidential election.  No, not because my candidate lost.  No, not because the United States continues to limit its highest office to a limited class of persons (Just Musing:  Babble, babble, babble …”).  No, not because of my health is failing, allergies, the change in seasons, or because I just realized, at this late date, that elections have consequences (Just Musing:  “No longer a chameleon”…).  No, no, no … this haze is different, much different.

When Barry Goldwater ran for the office of the presidency (1964 election), I was nine/ten years old.  Mr. Goldwater was a United States Senator from the great state of Arizona.  I remember, even at that age, being insulted by his words.  He was talking about me and people who looked like me.  His picture of America, cast under the umbrella of conservatism was much like the black and white television sets of my youth – clear – black and white – pitting white folks against black folks.  Telling his fellow America to follow his lead, give him their vote, to protect “us from them.”  The American public didn’t follow his lead, rejecting Goldwater’s call to hate.

In 1968, George Wallace, the Governor of the great state of Alabama, ran for the office of the presidency.  He, Wallace, was an avowed segregationist.  His image remained ingrained in the minds of every southern black child, standing in front of the school house door, telling the rest of America that America was a white man’s country and he, and he alone, would remain principled to protect America from us.  The American public by and large rejected Wallace’s message, affirming that hope remained part and parcel of the American dream.

Oh sure, part and parcel of any election is an “us against them” message; encouraging citizens to vote for a particular candidate, showing contrast, extending a hand requesting “the privilege of your vote.”   Absolutely, communities of interest become important, even when those communities of interests invoke race, sex, nationality, religion.  But this election seems different.  A tactical invitation to separate “us from them”, played masterfully from beginning to end, an in-your-face display of hate.  The results of this election caused the haze to roll over the hill, clearing the horizon, making it clear the American public accepted this candidate’s words and lead.

When he moved down the escalator and cast aspersions against Mexicans, a good friend of mine who is a White female, a liberal most of her life, told me she thought the candidate was funny; as if he didn’t mean it, as if he was play acting.  I listened to her hearty laugh, curled my mind around her words and laughter; curled my body around my anger and anxieties.  I explained then that his invoking race and racism could never be funny to me; it is always personal.

He never stopped his supposed joking – grabbing and reaching – touching any many disparate groups as possible.  But he was not joking, not at all a play of symbolism, no, no, no – his were direct words – directed against “the Muslims”, “the African Americans”, those lying women (whom he promised to sue), the disabled (whom he openly mocked and then said he wasn’t mocking; sort of like others contention of his joking, play-acting).  The consequences of his actions however were clear – causing others to laugh, point, cheer and jeer.

*           *           *

Americans stood up in 1964, a time our society was under fundamental pressure to do better; truly a zero-sum time in the country’s history.

Americans rejected Wallace’s attempt to import his hate to other states – Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin – and white women – said no – but not now, but not now.

No, this time was different.  They laughed at him while gifting him as much press time he needed to import his hate.   As if making a point, they remained silent, saying they were undecided.  Ginger-flexing (if ginger-flexing is a word), self-reflecting, assuring the rest of us he didn’t mean a word he said, while casting their ballots in the privacy of their homes, in voting booths throughout the land.  Not like Goldwater.  Not like Wallace.  Not like the rest of nation who rejected the hate – then.  Not this time.  A stark reminder we do have something to lose, while they closed their doors in the rest of our faces, to finish their hearty laughter.

JUST MUSING: “It never rains in southern California…”

Years ago Roberta Flack hosted a radio show which originated out of New York – WKRS, KISS FM.  The show aired in Houston at 4:00 a.m. each Sunday morning.  As with her music, so was her hosting; soothing, instructive, invoking memories.  Laying a marker in time, before and after, educating her audience how music, life, and time remain forever interconnected.  I religiously rose, turned on the radio to participate in Roberta’s music appreciation class.  One particular morning, Roberta seemingly isolated us by age, instructing the listeners of a certain age not to ignore new artists.  Marveling over “those artist under twenty five,” before introducing the musical group Tony! Toni! Toné!

Roberta spoke of those who influenced Tony! Toni! Toné! ’s sound, imploring the rest of us to listen to their voices to hear the voices of others.  Playing the song, stopping, allowing silence to invade – one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three – before speaking again, forever soothing, pulling us closer, rewarding our joining her so early in the morning.

“I am going to do something I normally don’t do.”

Playing the song again, allowing the voices of the artists to instruct the class.  Making the point, bridging the gap, making sure those who arose each and every Sunday morning understood why she rose each and every Sunday morning to share with the rest of us.

So that I am clear, this musing has little to do about music, less about Roberta Flack, and absolutely nothing to do about Tony! Toni! Toné!  It is, this musing, is written to discuss the dance the mind does to make sense of nonsense.

In listening to presidential candidate Donald Trump explain away his conversation with Billy Bush, my mind tried to make the sense of what I heard, what I saw.  Bragging, pointing, ogling (in front of others), caring little what others said, thought, or heard.  Allowing their handlers to depart the bus, while they remained seated, continuing to share their views on women, assessing their figures (“move, move”), comparing (“the short one”) as men or wont to do, then reaching for the tic tacs – not caring their mikes were hot – behavior which had normally been protected.

My mind did that dance, jumping over logic, not hearing the voice of a grandparent, parent, or theorist, ignoring the political pundits, instead hearing Roberta Flack’s voice, while Tony! Toni! Toné! ’s lyrics rang in my head.

It may never rain in southern California –♫ “They tell me.” ♫ – Trump’s voice, and Bush giggle, said that it didn’t.  At least they have never experienced such rains.  Their setting was no different – the comforts of luxury, surrounded by handlers, protected, sunny California weather, privileged – allowing them to let down their hair, to share a commonality; and share they did.

Perfect, perfect for ten years, until someone told.  Putting NBC in a bind; causing them to hold the tape for a week, refusing to tell the rest of us (my paranoid surmise), suddenly hit with a stark realization – sometimes it rains in sunny California.  Sometimes you have to tell, even if it hurts the franchise.

Perfect, perfect weather, until someone got angry at NBC’s refusal to tell (the tattle-tale among us strikes again), sending the tape to the Washington Post – the Post told, telling the rest of us.

♫ “It never rains in Southern California.”♫

Trump apologized – “if any of us were insulted.”  Bush suddenly became “embarrassed and ashamed.”  It felt if both were actually apologizing for getting caught (as men are wont to do) before he – Trump – instructed the rest of us to dismiss what we heard, saying it was not what we heard.

♫ “It never rains in Southern California.”♫

Of course it doesn’t (never rains) – so they assumed.  So we were told.  So we have always been told.

Explaining bigly styled – as if life experiences and time suddenly became irrelevant – so he says.  So his handlers say.  So they will now tell us?

Hearing the explanation causes me to hear the voices of others.  Life and time forever remains connected.  Playing life’s song, stopping, allowing silence to invade – one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three – knowing what we heard, hearing Roberta’s voice, soothing us, knowing it finally rained in southern California.

JUST MUSING: “Bending it like…Beckham”

Soccer is the world’s most popular sport.  More fans, money, participants and countries than other sports; earning soccer its’ title, “the world’s game”.  No matter how Americans doth protest, others in the world understand the term “football” to reference soccer.  I will not – hear me out – I will not refer to soccer as football in this musing, hoping to sooth the insanely unconvinced American football fan to continue reading, so soccer it is.

The FIFA World Cup, which is held every four years, in alternating countries, is amongst the most viewed sporting events on television.  Approximately 3.2 billion people watched at least part of the 2010 World Cup coverage on TV.  FIFA, which is the governing body of [soccer] and the World Cup organizer, generated more than 700 million U.S. dollars in revenue from broadcasting rights from the event in 2010.”  American professional football is not the only sport which should take note.  ESPN in its Annual Sports’ Poll determined “soccer was America’s second-most popular sport for those aged 12-24, ahead of [the] NBA, MLB and college football.”

So that I do not digress – soccer’s popularity is not why I muse.  The game’s popularity is discussed in order to provide context of a culturally misused soccer idiom, “bending it like Beckman.”  The phase is certainly a reference to the talents of the former great, David Beckham; describing a method of kicking a ball.  I muse to contend its current usage and meaning is inadequate, a woeful misuse of words for an otherwise wonderfully descriptive word-play.  I firmly believe, this is an area where a tortured American mind may be of use.

When John Miller pretended to be John Miller, he was undermined when the reporter for the Washington Post recognized his erstwhile as his erstwhile – Trump – bragging about his sexual prowess, wealth and virtue.  Maybe Trump’s wealth removed him from the activities of the average American youth of his generation, before caller-id, the alternate universe of party-lines and land-lines.  Making prank phones to friends, strangers, businesses, practicing voices, sometimes successful, most times not, participating, while unknowingly developing a sixth-sense (seventh-sense for some), the ability to detect false voices immediately.  A generation which grew up watching Candid Camera, instilled with a suspecting nature, not wanting to be tricked by friends, family, strangers.  Moving the curtains back, examining the vase on the table, looking for the camera.  In 2003, the show, Punk’d, a reality television series, aired on MTV, arrived on the scene.  A themed show evolving around the practical joke, with hidden camera included, borrowing from Candid Camera.  The show worked because the producers were able to target a generation who did not know about Candid Camera, whose sixth-sense had not yet evolved, preying on the unsuspecting.

The reporter for the Washington Post probably didn’t grow up wealthy (my best guess), watched Candid Camera every Sunday evening, and was part of a generation imbued with conspiracy-theorists, tricksters, and Cold War angst.  On more than one occasion she pulled the curtain back looking for a camera.  On the occasions John Miller called she immediately recognized his voice, playing along, steeled and ready, with no intention of being pranked by John Miller or Donald Trump.  Trump knew none of this; his was a different world, isolated by wealth and servants.  He also didn’t view his conduct as being a prank.  He was then, and remains still, obsessed with himself; bragging, bragging, bragging, as he is wont to do.  Once placed under oath, John Miller – excuse me – Donald Trump confessed, admitting to bending it like Beckham, attempting to deceive, slicing the ball, allowing it to curve, attempting to score by deception.

We fail when we use the less than apt-metaphors, allowing the purveyors of words and stories – writers, reporters, actors, news show hosts, even comics – to cheapen the language by failing to couple their words with an appropriate smile, grimace, raised eye-bow, followed by questioning whether John Miller “‘Bent it like Beckham’, you tell me; thank you goodnight!”

In April 2015, Business Insider reported that “Scientists are skeptical about the secret blood test that has made Elizabeth Holmes a billionaire.”    The company, Theranos, “a company founded by Stanford sophomore Elizabeth Holmes in the fall of 2003 (she dropped out a few months later) has generated a lot of buzz for developing a revolutionary approach to the blood test.”  Promising faster, cheaper blood tests, by using less blood, “upending [and invading] the branch of medicine that provides the data used in roughly 70% of medical decisions.”  The Business Insider’s article discussed the failure of Theranos to publish peer-review studies comparing it tests to others, or even allowing independent experts to publicly assess its labs.   On May 18, 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported, “Theranos Inc. has told federal health regulators that the company voided two years of results from its Edison blood-testing devices, according to a person familiar with the matter. … But Theranos has now told regulators that it threw out all Edison test results from 2014 and 2015. The company has told the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that it has issued tens of thousands of corrected blood-test reports to doctors and patients, voiding some results and revising others, according to the person familiar with the matter.”

I believe Theranos’ mess could have been avoided if those suspecting Theranos’ claims early-on had requested the scientific-data and testing, then opened asked the rest of us whether the company was “bending it like Beckham.”  Humor mixed with real-world consequences oft-times reveals the lie.  A more deadly use of words; more telling than describing a method of kicking a ball by one of the game’s greats, reporting the facts, using cultural references to explain to the rest of us, “Bending it like Beckham, are they”?

I am not saying the metaphor should always describe a lie.  To work, it has to be a double entendre (possessing a double meaning) – a lie sometimes, tongue-in-cheek other times.   By way of example:  “a new study has found that the health of an adult-male can be determined by the strength and flow of his pee”, tested by placing hidden cameras in roadside restrooms for a six month period (reminder:  this is a fake report, the same utter nonsense your Uncle Bob says all the time).  Of course, it is part true (old men pee more), the other part of the story’s line is designed to grab the listener’s leg and pulling as hard as possible (remember Uncle Bob also lies a lot).  More importantly, one need not worry about the lawyers; humor is protected by the First Amendment, and “bending it like Beckham” is  powerful, readily understood, more meaningful than April’s fools, in that the use of the phase is not confined to a once a year phenomenon, using words which are cross-cultural, attaching to the popularity of the world’s game.

Still don’t understand?  Let me take a couple more stabs.  Recently the New York Fire Department and New York Police Department played their annual football game for charity.  This time the game was marred by violence – a brawl.  A flat-out New York brawl; grown men and presumably women, flailing away – falling, falling, falling – over themselves, and others.   Swearing, cursing – blessing, blessing, blessing (as only New Yorkers can) – their fellow professionals.  Spewing testosterone (and estrogen), as they brawled; as the bees disperse pollen, as the birds scatter seeds, another wonderful spring day in New York.   Our double-entendre now becomes a triple-entendre, much like a Swiss knife.  The Fire Department publicist should arrange a press conference with Black Lives Matter (first slice), announcing that a portion of next year’s NYFD’s proceeds will go to Black Lives Matter (this could very well be the second slice, but I am going to assume NYPD understands the contributions are needed), followed by playing of a snippet of the fight (explaining the source is from Fire Department’s cameras), a brief explanation (“Maybe the police cameras weren’t working!”), laying blame at the feet of NYPD – sowing derision in all directions.  Questioning why NYPD didn’t have body cameras (second slice), ridiculing any report blaming NYFD for the fight, describing NYPD’s accounts of the report as “bending it like Beckham.”   The last reference is the third slice, using a soccer term to reference America’s game, heresy!  Smiling, slicing, serving up truths and half-truths with raised brows; fielding only a few questions before escaping, leaving the stage with smiles intact.  Oh yeah, the fight would be on, the point would be made, and next year’s event sold out in minutes, the American way.  John Miller would be so proud.

My last stab at sanity – a friend of mine (Elisa) and I one day were discussing the lies our parents told us when we were children.  Her attesting to the unique Mexican American experience, the lies told.  Mine the African American experience.  Laughter, smiles abounded, a shared experience – until Elisa so rudely interrupted me and my contribution to our modern day cultural exchange program!  She explained not all African American parents told the lie about the existence of Santa Claus.

“What?”

“My friend refused to tell that lie.”

“What?”

“She said she couldn’t, just couldn’t.”

“What?”

“She, Shirley, said ‘I was working two jobs and I didn’t want my children to believe a fat, White man was sliding down a non-existent chimney bearing gifts, gifts in which I worked too hard buying for them.  I couldn’t do it.  Just couldn’t.’”

You see my point? – You got to bend it like Beckham.  Shirley did.  Yes she did, achieving clarity in far fewer words.

JUST MUSING: “The greatest show on earth” … Act 1

So that you are not confused, I couldn’t care less about watching two men argue over the virtues of their spouses, the size of their appendages, their abilities as hunters.  Tweeting-it, snapping-it, looking directly in the camera, proclaiming, expounding – allowing us to become digital participants – is their world.  Their invitation and reality-show induced views matter not.  On this one, I need not digress.  My mind has cleared, the fog has abated.

The source of the phrase, “the show must go on” is disputed; some assigning the quote to the circus, others to the stage.  I now believe the phrase is now fermenting, accelerating, rising, proofing in secretive laboratories, think tanks, political campaigns, monastic and invitation only meetings, purposed with inciting the populace to join the show.

This past week Ted Cruz, one of the leading candidates for the Republican nomination for the presidency stood in the middle of the arena and ordered the mythical dog to mount the equally mythical horse, snapping, snapping, snapping his male-whip, commanding our attention.  We listened, applauded, and debated his words.  “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”   He had barely finished his sentence before his not at all mythical running buddy ran as fast as he could, from the digital edge,  head aloft, baton extended, appendages erect, elbowing for center stage, shouting, shouting, “I suggested it first.”

Cheering, laughing, applauding we did, agreeing our freedoms are the ones at stake, not those they have singled out, ignoring our messengers’ insanity.   Holding back the protestors, gleefully laughing, pretending they didn’t mean what they said; permitting the show to continue.  Our invitation did read, didn’t it, that we were being invited to revisit the good old days?  “Making us great again”, fills the air, heard from the loud speakers overhead.

But none of this is a laughing matter, no matter how phrased, no matter how packaged.  Please stand in the middle of the crowd, interrupt the show, tweet the tweets, delete the posts; shouting with such force the dog dismounts, scurrying into the corner, tail tucked, whining, whimpering – nothing like Lassie, surely not like Rin Tin Tin – causing the horse’s gallop to increase, a fast, furious gallop, constrained by the defined and confined circle – circus, circus.

Tell me I am dreaming and I need not be concerned.  Tell me we remember when we cordoned off the Japanese to internment camps.  Tell me we remember when law enforcement failed to act as police in our communities, acting instead as militia, condoning, dividing us from us; activities documented in the large cities, and even in places like Texas City, Texas  (trust me on the Texas City one, I will explain at another time).  A declared war on drugs, while hiding the real reason for the war; shipping drugs into our communities, justifying the invasion of both beds, caressing, holding, soiling, ultimately molesting us all.  Holding press conferences proclaiming they are protecting us from them, like now, like before, while continuing to destroy our communities, our families, our children.   We do remember don’t we?

When the horse tires, slowing his gallop, walking, stopping, please Mister Ringmaster pull Messieurs Cruz and Trump from the center of the ring, remove the silencers from their ears so that they may hear our screams, “the show must stop; the show need not go on.”