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:
- Over 60 million people voted for a candidate who exhibits nearly all the characteristics of a sociopath (look it up, people!).
- Over 60 million people knowingly voted for a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic liar.
- 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.
- 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 . . .
You’ve probably gleaned from my posts that I have been working on compiling a book of my reviews. The book was not my idea, and at first I resisted it with intense skepticism. However, during my downtime after temporarily closing the blog, I became rather fond of the idea of having my work presented in book form, primarily for that day far in the future when I’m an old fart and feel the need to revisit my salad days. I never had any intention of selling the book or making a dime from it, figuring that few people would buy it anyway—after all, I don’t have a “name,” I don’t have connections and there are gazillions of books containing music criticism.
The person who successfully pushed me into making the effort is the author Robert Morrow, who volunteered for the thankless role of editor. Since he has a full-time job and lives thousands of miles away in Bellevue, Washington, our enterprise proceeded at a somewhat leisurely pace. Every couple of months or so we’d connect via Skype and discuss different ways to organize and present over 300 reviews.
My favorite Skype moment was when he lost track of the time difference and called me just as I was getting ready for a scene. I will never forget his face when he saw my upper torso on his screen, my exposed tits rising above the curves of a red leather underbust corset, highlighted by a pair of silver nipple clamps.
He stammered an apology and ended the call. I hope he marched into his bedroom and gave his wife a good stiff one.
Anyway, we got to a point where we were making good progress and had several very productive, PG-rated conversations about our work. The book was finally taking shape, and I have to admit I was excited to see my vision come together. My main drive was to present a work that spanned the entire history of popular music to date, and the structure helped make the holes in my narrative seem less important. Our work ground to a halt for a few weeks after the attack on the Promenade, but once I regained my balance, I felt pretty confident we’d have everything wrapped up by October.
Then came the bad news.
“Congratulations! You’ve beaten Tolstoy. By quite a comfortable margin, I might add,” Robert said to the fully-clothed version of me.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, a little problem came up when I stared to put all the parts together. I noticed that the word count was pretty high by the time I got to The Beatles, so I thought I’d better stop and calculate the whole thing before going further. How many words do you think you’ve written over the last four years?”
“I don’t know—a hundred thousand?”
“Try 1.2 million.”
“Yeah. 1.2 million. War and Peace came in at a little over 500,000.”
“Oh, my fucking God!”
“That’s including all of them. When we subtract the pieces we agreed to cut, you come in at just over a million. You know what this means.”
“Yeah—nobody’s going to read this book. I wouldn’t read this fucking book!”
“Even if you gave it away for 99 cents, it would be a tough sell. It would take up a hell of a lot of memory on a Kindle.”
That statement hit a sore spot. My intent was always to give the book away for free. I found out later that Amazon doesn’t allow an author to do that—you have to charge at least ninety-nine fucking cents. I responded from my gut.
“Fuck the book. Screw it.”
“I knew you’d say that, but we do have options.”
Those options were a.) publishing in volumes and b.) do a “Best of the altrockchick” book. I hated both ideas. Twelve volumes would be ridiculous—shit, Proust only made it to seven! The volume concept would also break the narrative, which immediately ruled it out as far as I was concerned. As for the “best of” concept, that was dead on arrival. I’d lose any sense of structure and the narrative flow would be as strong as a guy with a prostate problem.
A few days later, Robert sent me an email proposing a slimmed-down version that would maintain the flow but would sacrifice all the series, taking the best reviews from each and folding them into a timeline. I gave that some hard thought, but the truth is my most enjoyable writing experiences came from the series format. I imagined my seventy-year old me scanning the contents of my alleged masterpiece and moaning, “Where the fuck is The Psychedelic Series? What kind of crap is this?”
I wrote back, “Let’s table the discussion and pick it up next year. I’ve lost my objectivity and have to let the thing go for a while.”
He wrote back, “I understand. Let me know if you change your mind.”
I felt bad because of all the work he had put into it, placing his own creative efforts on hold so he could help me realize mine. He went through and edited almost three hundred posts, clearing up all the embarrassing typos and sentences vanishing in mid-stream. I am very lucky to have such a wonderful and generous friend.
I really owe him a blow job.
Meanwhile, I still felt the urge of the architect to see the structure in real life, so I decided to spend a little time restructuring the website to sync with the structure of the book. It’s still a work in progress, but when it’s finished, the menu will reflect the chapter order I had envisioned. This will probably mean nothing to the person who pops in out of the ether to read a review about his or her favorite album, but it means a lot to me. I like to feel that there was some method in my madness, even if the method was more intuitive than intentional.
So! I shall now go off and ponder ways to summarize my work in an agreeable format that people can access easily at no charge. I’ll pop in with a review from time to time, doing my best to keep things short, sweet and to the point. I do not want to be remembered as The Wordiest Bitch Who Ever Lived.
Maybe I should do my reviews in haiku . . . let’s try one for Led Zeppelin IV:
scratching for significance on a stairway to nowhere, meowing