Why you should care
Because the last truly free voice in America will NOT lie to you.
On Season 5, Episode 6 of Saturday Night Live, back in 1979 when your parents were still getting high, now–United States Sen. Al Franken gave it to the so-called Me Decade with both barrels. “The ’70s were simply 10 years of people thinking of nothing but themselves,” the grinning and bespectacled Franken intoned. But he believed that the 1980s were going to be different. “I think that people are going to stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about me, Al Franken.”
Cue: laughter. That and a realization that perfectly summed up the self-indulgence of a decade that featured disco, roller-skating, disco roller-skating and being totally unclear on the habit-forming features of cocaine usage.
Of course, the real 1980s ended up, unless we’re wrong about Franken, being much darker and desperate than the impish Franken would have had us believe they were going to be. Coke’s cousin, crack, raged, cities collapsed, preppy murderers became celebs, unbridled Wall Street greed as popularized through both financial predation and motion pictures at the time and, finally, of course, for the purposes of this discussion, the ascendancy of realtor Donald Trump.
He said stuff, then unsaid stuff he said while saying other stuff, before restating stuff he said he meant to say.
Trump was sort of the embodied id of a city built on id, which means we, specifically native New Yorkers, never imagined he’d play well anywhere outside of New York. But while Sen. Ted Cruz tried to recall this old understanding of New York as the “other,” it was made readily apparent that this was an old understanding, as the now-President-elect Donald J. Trump juked right, dropped a 9/11 blast, passed Go and slid right into the worst job in America.
After eight years of Barack Obama’s Mister Rogers — to use a media analog that’s perfectly suited for the occasion — America, and Russia too for that matter, were really ready for the host of The Celebrity Apprentice, realtor, casino owner and brand agent extraordinaire Trump. America, ready or not, was going to get him.
And we all flipped out. None more or less than the coalition of the unwilling. Unless it was the willing. Ratcheted up and fever pitched we all decided — delayed reaction perhaps to the edge of collapse we were ushered to under George W. — to flip out at the same time. And Trump, who proved himself to be a chaos rider nonpareil, met and matched the challenge. He said stuff, then unsaid stuff he said while saying other stuff, before restating stuff he said he meant to say. It was Nathan Thurm–esque, and it routinely pleased only a few specific constituencies: cynics, cynical opportunists, true believers and late-night talk-show hosts.
But the best part of it — the absolute best part if you factor out the possibility of global nuclear conflagrations as being a certain kind of solution to almost every kind of existential problem — is that in this new topsy-turvy world, like psychiatrist R.D. Laing may have once suggested, almost any response is going to be the right response.
So forthwith, my responses to possible future events as yet untold.
The 45th Presidential Inauguration: In light of the fact that while money won’t change me, it will most certainly change my friends, where I live, the car I drive and my willingness to have drinks NOT served to me by a servile waitstaff, I will celebrate the rise to power of the 48th vice president, Peter Graves.
The 89th Academy Awards: In the hothouse swelter of social-justice suggestions floated my way by millionaires and billionaires, I will retire to my lavatory, where I’ll give an acceptance speech that gives an early PR bump to the newest Tom Cruise star vehicle, Where My Bitchez At?, the Tupac Shakur biopic.
The 51st Super Bowl: Will be won by Madonna.
March Madness: Two words: cage fighters.
NBA Championship Games: Will be retired on account of the shabby way Donald Sterling was treated. While this is the business we’ve chosen, you do not shoot a man like Moe Greene IN THE EYE!
And finally for now …
The First 100 Days: While market futures for weeping, wailing and the gnashing of teeth might have already peaked, umbrage, outrage and an outsize belief in the importance of whatever the hell it is you’re presently whinging about? A strong buy for the foreseeable future.
Numerologically speaking, this adds up to six, the third part of the chthonic troika. Which means 2017 is dead. So long live 2017.