I’m a little bitter
Curses! Foiled again! We were supposed to take to the streets and rejoice last week when one of our former presidents had his mugshot taken and released to the public. We were meant to be parading and dancing down the murderous 5th Avenue, hip-deep in schadenfreude, gleefully hoisting the snapshots of shame showing the serially impeached and indicted former president with a grimace that made it look like he was suffering from what killed Elvis Presley.
But quicker, even, than the crafters on Etsy, the forces of MAGA released what should have been humiliating mugshots as heroic symbols of the battle against the swamp and the Dark State; a valiant defense of guns, gas stoves, hamburgers, coal and oil. And which, incidentally, would send silver streaming into the defense fund of the photo’s model. Thirty-four American dollars for a shirt with the mugshot and the legend “NEVER SURRENDER” which, ironically, was what the mugshot’s subject had to do in order to get his picture taken. He surrendered, as he would put it if it was somebody else, “like a dog.”
And so MAGA groups have co-opted shame and humiliation now, just as they’ve co-opted all forms of the American flag as well as Bruce Springsteen songs and big stupid trucks—not that many of us even want big stupid trucks, but we can’t change our mind now or even rent one on moving day, at least not without the “Let’s Go Biden” stickers that appear to be standard equipment on these mega-ton behemoths.
Am I bitter? Yeah, a little bit. Because now I’ve got to eat a couple hundred mugshot shirts that were meant to be sold to raucous partiers and are now only worn by weirdos that I don’t want to do business with.
What I’ve been watching
Well, of course there was plenty of coverage of a twice-impeached sex-offending former president and various members of his gaggle of cohorts were surrendering and posing for pictures, but aside from that, I’ve been enjoying a fast-break streak of viewing HBO/Max’s “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.”
It’s a behind-the-scenes (and somewhat enhanced) look at the Lakers in the 1980s, when they won five championships. It was also a decade in which I spent each year’s postseason in a crazed screaming mess as a dangerous hyper-fan of the team, and it’s an exciting series to watch, particularly for those of us who can’t remember which years they won it all, although I continue to cherish the fact that they beat the Celtics twice. Glorious, glorious years, but they took a toll on my health. And whatever was left, the 2000s polished off. I’m still a wreck.
“Winning Time,” now in its second season, is a fun series, though, especially when Magic is destroying the loathsome Larry Bird, who’s portrayed here by Sean Patrick Small, a guy the filmmakers probably had to hit with a shovel a few dozen times to get him to look and talk like Bird.
So far, the series has been centered on Magic’s troubled times with soon-to-be-gone coach Paul Westhead and troubles running that coach’s offense. Soon, Pat Riley (played excellently by Adrien Brody) will take over and get the ball rolling big time.
What I read after a former president surrendered
While that was going on I was calmly sitting by the fireplace finishing Andre Dubus III’s “Such Kindness,” an elegantly written novel about Tom Lowe Jr., a man who’s living in Section 8 housing and hovering just a few inches above rock bottom after losing his house, his wife and son and his ability to work as a contractor, a job he dearly loved, following a fall from a roof.
The sole bit of good news in his life: He’s kicked his addiction to opioids; the bad news is he’s taken up drinking the cheapest vodka he can find, which he euphemistically calls “pain distracter.”
So we follow his life as he seethes with resentment over various miseries made worse by some further unfortunate events. Losing a bit of the already scant altitude above the bottom of the pit, Lowe experiences a few real and imagined acts of generosity by an odd cast of similarly unfortunate characters as well as total strangers with the resulting epiphany changing his outlook on “the hand he was dealt” and that acceptance turns into an appreciation, even a love, for his life.