Last Trip to Dodge

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From the Huffington Post

I won’t be writing any more reviews this year, but I do want to close the chapter on my first and last foray into American politics.

After renouncing my American citizenship the day after the election, some of my American friends contacted me and suggested that I had overreacted to a once-in-a-generation aberration and I would come to regret my decision.

Don’t think so!

I think my friends believed I was making an emotional decision because everyone was boiling over with emotion during the last weeks of the campaign. They forgot that I’m an intensely logical person skilled at playing out future scenarios. My Myers-Briggs profile (ENTJ) validates that orientation, and as things have turned out, the jobs I’ve held focused largely on the strategic-analytical side of business. My decision to forever abandon my homeland was based on cold, calculating logic.

Those still holding out for recounts or an Electoral College revolt are the emotional ones. The facts are as plain as day and you’d have to be a fool to ignore them:

  1. Over 60 million people voted for a candidate who exhibits nearly all the characteristics of a sociopath (look it up, people!).
  1. Over 60 million people knowingly voted for a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic liar.
  1. Just for a minute, imagine if Hillary had won. Guess what? Those 60 million people would still be there, nursing their resentments and spreading their ludicrous conspiracy theories. The Trump campaign empowered The Deplorables to think, say and do the unthinkable, and nothing is going to stop them now. They have the guns, the pent-up hatred, the resentment of those who are smarter than they will ever be, and the terrifying certainty of the ignorant and superstitious. They would have put Hillary through hell; they may have even killed her. They still might.
  1. Voters doubled down on the outrage by turning Congress over to the Republicans, a political party that shrouds itself in a twisted interpretation of Christianity and has no respect for facts, women, gays, people of color or anyone who differs with their uneducated opinions and inhuman policies.

Add to all that a decidedly right-wing Supreme Court and you can only conclude that the fix is in.

In one sense, the result shouldn’t have been a surprise, for it confirmed what many people in the world already believed: that America is a country full of stupid, uncivilized, violent bullies who take pride in their ignorance and in their irrationally inflated view of themselves. In that sense, the voters of the United States couldn’t have selected a more fitting person to lead them.

But don’t kid yourselves. Trump has released the American Pandora’s Box and it is going to take decades to repair the damage—if it can be repaired at all. I don’t believe it’s possible in my lifetime. It certainly won’t be fixed through a flawed democratic process where some loser congressman from Buttfuck, Wisconsin has enormous power over tens of millions of people who never had the chance to vote for or against him. Or a democratic process that gives more power to people in states with more coyotes than people. Or a democratic process that defines “losing candidate” as the one who received the most votes. Throw into the mix a president who has little knowledge of and even less respect for the law—and who is more than willing to fight any challenges to his authority in court—and the possibility of effective resistance through the system falls into the category of seriously wishful thinking.

The most likely scenario is the further erosion of democracy and the rise of an authoritarian state along the lines of Russia. Civil war is unlikely, but because too many Americans have the tendency to turn to violence to “solve” their problems, things will get pretty ugly. The best solution would be a peaceful breakup into separate countries, but the bullies who will be running the show would never accept that solution any more than Putin has accepted Ukraine as a sovereign country.

Sociopaths draw their power from their victims, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Donald Trump victimize me. What I learned from the election is that America didn’t want me or my kind anyway. I take pride in my intelligence and firmly believe in lifelong learning. I prefer truth to fiction. I don’t let anyone grab my pussy without permission. I fuck women and I fuck men. I hate guns and think they should be banned. Why on earth would I choose to be a citizen of a country that has no respect for my identity or my beliefs? How on earth could I feel safe in such a place?

In essence, the American people gave me the finger and shouted in capital letters, “YOU AND YOUR KIND ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!”

Well, here’s my finger right back at ya!

Last Trip Home

Once the results were in and the tears were dry, I started planning my last trip to the U. S. A. to close accounts and tie up some loose ends. As luck would have it, my recently widowed Irish grandmother also decided to pack up and return to her ancestral homeland next year and suggested that one last American Thanksgiving might be a nice way to end the relationship.

I wasn’t really thrilled with the idea. The only thing I wanted to experience on my last trip to America was a juicy cheeseburger and a chocolate malt, two culinary delights not usually featured on Thanksgiving menus. So I went three days early, just so I could get my cheeseburger and shake . . . and a taco at my favorite Mexican joint in the Mission.

I also wanted to visit the house were I grew up one last time. It was the one property my parents didn’t sell when they moved to France, and I wanted to spend some quality time in my room, a small piece of the world where I always felt safe.

I spent a lot of time alone in my room in my youth, by choice. I could always go hang out with my parents or have a friend over, but I did cherish my alone time. I loved to stretch out on my bed, with music coming from either the living room or my little stereo, reading for hours and frequently pausing to study how the light changed as the day inched forward into the evening. I always had something to read—the French novels and poetry my mother recommended, works of the great writers like Dostoevsky, Dickens and Joyce, and my old stand-by, The Baseball Encyclopedia. I loved the feeling of traveling through space and time while learning and discovering new things, new worlds.

On this trip I brought no books but I had a shitload of work to do, split between my day job and copying all the edited versions of my reviews into the blog. I worked from early morning well into the night, taking little breaks to experience the light at various times of the day. It was cool and cloudy in San Francisco, so the day’s changes were subtle but still distinct, each with their own mood ranging from the hope of late morning to the melancholy of the dying day to the strange anticipation brought on by the night.

And with the world outside going to shit, it was wonderful to feel safe for a little while.

I left the house only once that first day, to head over to Barney’s in Noe Valley for my cheeseburger (California Burger with chilis and bacon and goopy sour cream, complemented with a small order of curly fries and a Hershey’s chocolate malt). While I savored every bite, every crunch, every slurp, part of me felt like an alien anthropologist sampling the artifacts of a dying culture. I left the restaurant feeling rather gloomy about the experience.

The gloom continued the next day as I wandered around the Castro, where the mood combined colors of tension, anxiety, anger and disbelief. The shopkeepers and restaurant workers weren’t as chatty as I’d remembered; it was like everyone had lost a close friend they will never see again.

When my parents and partner arrived, we strolled through the old neighborhoods, calling up memories of a place that looks the same but will never be the same again. The Thanksgiving dinner the following day was much quieter than a typical family gathering; no one felt like music, so some spent the day watching football while the rest relived memories of happier times. While helping with the dishes, my grandmother asked me how I liked my visit.

“I love you, grandma, but to be honest, I can’t wait to get the fuck out of this place. It gives me the creeps.”

“I feel the same way, dearie. I’ll be glad to go home, too.”

“It will make it a lot easier to visit you,” I suggested.

“Yes, that will be nice. I’ll try to hang on a while, just for you.”

We flew out the next day, on Black Friday, the curiously-named day when Americans scratch, claw, trample and bite their way through the stores to get deals on Christmas gifts. I’ve always thought it odd that the so-called season of joy begins with a burst of manic greed and intense competition for material things in a land of plenty. Still, it seemed quite fitting to leave the United States on a day when Americans celebrate their collective insanity, because by electing Donald Trump, Americans have openly and emphatically embraced the madness. Every day will be a Black Friday in Trumpland.

So, I’m done! I never cared much for “La Marseillaise,” so my new national anthem (with video updated with images of the madness) is . . .

 

12 responses

  1. Though outside your usual boundaries on the blog, I thank you for this post since I was curious to read your thoughts and feelings on this rather nasty state of affairs.

    A lot I could say and add here, but I’m gonna keep it short for once! Sadly, we’ve been having the “Black Friday” bullshit inflicted upon us in the UK over the last three years. Generally, we’re not impressed nor are we interested but the BIG corporates seem hellbent on making it work.

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  2. Ah, altrockchick – you’ve done it again. I absolutely was one of those who thought you had “overreacted”, my apologies, after reading your work now for some time I should not have thought for a minute that renouncing your citizenship was anything other than a decision born out of logic. This is the only writing from you I’ve ever read that made me sad, and honestly, a bit frightened, because it crystallizes all the thoughts that have gone through my mind since the election. My wife is Haitian, our two sons are biracial, and I can only think grim thoughts as to what the future will bring. I think you did the right thing, and I’m a bit relieved that three of us have German citizenship. So glad that you and your family got to visit your old home and neighborhood one more time – and now you don’t have to pay double taxes on your income! Whenever you start your reviews again, I hope you consider writing about the rest of Phil Och’s original albums, goodness knows we could really use him now (and I’d rather read your words about politics than practically anyone else out there)….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it was the most difficult piece I’ve ever written. Everything that has happened since the election has just confirmed the logic: once a bully, always a bully. His cabinet choices are horrific; his behavior disgusting. I wish I could have found more hopeful signs but maybe someone with more imagination can figure out a way out of this mess. You are very lucky to have the German path—I have thanked my mother every day since the election that she never gave up her French citizenship.

      Phil Ochs is a great idea! I’ll set up a Phil Ochs night with maman and dad and come up with something.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Eight albums, ARC – Phil released eight albums in his lifetime, six studio and two live efforts, I’m quite sure they would become a part of your life to some degree, especially the great “Phil Ochs in Concert” (1966) and the amazing “Rehearsals For Retirement” (1969), but they are all worth hearing…as is the “A Toast To Those Who Are Gone” comp of previously unreleased tracks. What an artist! Deepest thanks to you again for all of your work as the sky overhead continue to slowly darken…

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  3. Reblogged this on HOKEYBLOG! and commented:
    Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or eat a banana. And then someone just nails it with inimitable prose…

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    1. Good morning and thank you—this one was very hard to write but I had to see it in print—perhaps because I’m still having a hard time accepting this dreadful reality.

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  4. Thank you for this. I read it while listening to Gavin Bryars ‘Fifth Century’ and that made me feel your sadness and sense of loss even more. I do hope that we Europeans are not going to make the same mistake. And the signs are not good….

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    1. Thank you—my mother just turned me on to Bryars recently and ‘Fifth Century’ could almost serve as the soundtrack for this period in history in terms of capturing the mood. Still, it is a beautiful human creation and we can’t forget that human beings are still capable of creating great beauty amidst the ugliness.

      I was encouraged by the Austrian result, but knowing the French choice is likely to be Fillon and LePen is depressing. We seem to be coming apart when we should be pulling together, but I think the Europeans have always had a much deeper commitment to human rights than the United States, and I’m hoping the depth will be enough to withstand the erosion.

      Thank you again and take care!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You so perfectly encapsulated the mood I have been feeling ever since Orange fucko was elected. It’s a misture of disbelief and despair. Living in the East Bay in California, as I do, is like being on an Island with the mainland filled with barbarians mere miles away.

    We’re so fucked.

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  6. Reblogged this on ringingtruenet and commented:
    Captures so well how so many people are feeling

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  7. That morning at about 5:00 I woke up to the news. I paced for a bit and then went out into the middle of the street and screamed “What have you done? What have you idiots (it got more colorful) done to our country?” Silence.

    Missouri, Red State. Trump won by 19 points.

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    1. Missouri is a funny place. I love KC and St. Louis is a great baseball town, but there are parts in the SW corner of the state that felt very dark and alien to me—thick Christian energy in the air, a sense of isolation. But definitely cheaper than Seattle!

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