My New Poem Of Resistance

The Resistance Racoon.jpg

I have a new poem out with Writers Resist.

In English:

When Our Culture Is Los Angeles Instead of Joshua Tree, This Is How We Elect a President

And it was just translated into German today (In this scenario, I’m the resistance racoon):

Wenn unsere kulturelle Heimat Los Angeles heißt statt Joshua Tree, wählen wir so einen Präsidenten

On Election Day, I’m Feeling Nostalgic About The Time When America Was Great

As a freelance writer, I’m asked to write op-ed pieces. To give my opinion. To say, “I know you might not agree, but here’s what I think.”

But so far – for some reason – I haven’t weighed in on the election. November is quickly approaching, and I’m supposed to say something.

Instead I’m overwhelmed by nostalgia. I keep thinking about how great our country has been in the past, and how many wonderful things Americans have done, and I have this desire to…

Make America Great Again.

make

It’s hard to go through 240 years of a nation’s history and pick out just a few things, but I’ll do my best. I’ll try to make a quick list of great moments in American history.

Let’s start right at the beginning with voting rights:

I love that this great nation was founded on citizens being able to vote. Imagine if those new Americans couldn’t vote in the 1770’s. That would’ve been terrible. No voting. Thank God that all (white) men could vote in local and national elections from the very inception of this nation.

I also love that all of our founding fathers were people of the same class and race. It’s important to have a unified group leading a young nation, to have a social bond, people who understand each other, and America was great to have unity in the beginning.

Some critics might argue that the founding fathers should’ve had more philosophical and religious unity, but being upper-class and white is enough for me.

Skipping forward into the 1800s:

I love that in 1819 Alabama was admitted as a slave state, bringing the total number of slave states and free states to equal numbers. It’s great that we had that kind of numerical EQUALITY. Eleven to eleven.

11 = 11

I love that balance.

Also, there’s the whole states’ rights thing, which has always been great as well. States’ rights is clearly a positive thing, and the autonomy of states’ rights has never been misunderstood or used for unethical purposes.

Skipping forward two decades, in 1838 and 1839, as part of President Andrew Jackson’s “Indian Removal Policy,” the Cherokee nation was forced to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River and to migrate to an area in present-day Oklahoma.

This was the last of the great five-tribes removal that started eight years before.

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Because of Jackson’s forward thinking, the Southeast was then open for European immigrants and U.S. citizens from the east coast. These migrating (white) people were free to move into newly opened territory. They were FREE to move in. And freedom is great. Free land is great. So clearly America was great in the 1830s as well.

But let’s not forget that the middle of the 19th century (1859 to 1865) gave us The Civil War. That was great too.

Yes, 1.1 million men died fighting in that war. I know. And dying is bad. But the Civil War was great because this great nation of the United States stayed together. And staying together meant more greatness to come.

Then, in the late 19th century – during the industrial revolution – child labor reached all-time highs. This was great because children’s small bodies could fit into tight factory spaces and mines where adults were unable to go. Imagine not having those small bodies to work in tight spaces. Imagine not having small hands to feed materials into machines.

That wouldn’t be great. Trust me. Great production requires great ideas…like child labor.

I mean, look at these kids after a good, character-building day of hard work:

child-labor
The economic depression called “The Panic of 1893” doesn’t seem like a good thing (since 500 banks closed that year), but it led to a great Broadway musical called “The War Of Wealth” in 1896. So that’s just America finding a way to be great again. Through art.

During that same time period, (white) democrats in the south banded together and passed new legislation to keep African Americans and poor whites from voting.

Again, that may not sound like a good thing, but it was a group of politicians working together, and actually getting things done. They set goals and attained those goals. These (white) democrats were really, really great at making new laws.

Which brings us to the 20th century – a time-period I’m especially nostalgic for – so I’ll just curb my enthusiasm and go with a quick-hits list:

– In 1901, McKinley was shot…which brought us the great president Teddy Roosevelt.

– The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake caused great fires that raged through the city.

– Then there was The GREAT Depression. Dust Bowl. Migration.

– The Jim Crow South in the 1930s was pretty great…(if you weren’t black).

And getting into the 1940’s, I’m sort of proud of this.

But I’m incredibly proud of THIS.

– Plus, during the McCarthy era, we were great at interrogating suspected communists.

– Then there were SO many sexual indiscretions in the second half of the twentieth century that showed the great virility of our politicians.

The 21st century has had some greatest hits as well:

– After 9/11, we did a great job routing Saddam Hussein and taking over Iraq:

saddam

– Hurricane Katrina was one of the greatest natural disasters in U.S. history, and FEMA’s response showed a great amount of dysfunction and mismanagement.

– Then there was a great recession.

And on and on and on…

Whew…

I could write so much more, but the word “great” loses its power when used too often.

So I’ll stop.

It’s 2016. We have an election coming up. Oh wait, that’s today. This afternoon. This evening.

And since I’m not really a political expert – just a humble freelance writer and literary novelist – I shouldn’t tell you who to vote for. That’s not my job.

Basically, I can’t help you with that dilemma.

But – either way – let’s go out and Make America Great Again.

Donald Trump & Selena Gomez, A Romance

I guess I can tell you what happened in the stock room now that TMZ broke the story with that video:

This was at the end of last summer. 2015. The start of August. When everything was happening all at once.

Selena came into the room. Selena Gomez. She walked right past the shipping crates. I knew it was her right away. I’d seen a lot of girls come and go during my time writing speeches for THE Donald, but I’d never seen anybody like Selena Gomez, and I didn’t have to Google her name to verify that it was actually her. Plus, she’s that pretty in real life. She looks exactly like she does in her Vevo videos, reminding me of a cross between a young mountain lion and a big-eyed, cartoon Disney princess.

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I was hiding out in a back corner, trying to figure out how to fix the latest of what we – on the team – liked to call “straight shooter issues.” I’d already dealt with on-air cursing, off-color debate comments, and – during the last two days – some sticky misogynistic moments. Also, I was trying to spin the persistent rumor that if THE Donald had only invested the “small 9 million-dollar loan” from his father, and had not worked at all, not a single day in his entire adult life, he’d actually be a lot richer than he is now. The problem with this inheritance/investment issue was that I’d done the research…and the financial analysts were correct. Also, the math was so simple that the average 7th-grader could do it.

Thankfully, American voters don’t want to do any math – not even 7th-grade math – so I just needed to twist a few financial facts, declare a bit of “liberal Dem bias,” throw in a red herring or two, add a sprinkle of Ad Hominem against Hillary, and a smooth little non sequitur to get on to a better topic.

Anyway, I was working on solving the inheritance problem, making it go away like everything else.

But Selena Gomez came into the room and I stopped working. She stood right there in the middle of the stockroom. She seemed like the kind of girl who stands in the middle of a room – no wallflower, is probably used to standing in the middle of every room she ever enters – so she was right there where I could see her. But she couldn’t see me because she was looking at her cell phone. Then – still looking at her phone – she turned, and her back was to me.

I was kind of hemmed into a corner, halfway hidden behind two shipping crates, sitting on the floor, leaning back against the sheetrock, my laptop resting on my legs. These are the kinds of places I go whenever THE Donald says something really, really ridiculous. I like to work in some small, backroom sort of place where I know I won’t be disturbed. So even if Selena turned around again, she might not’ve seen me in my slunk-down, half-hidden position.

I knew that I had a long day of research and speech writing. This was also right before Roger Stone quit our team (or, sorry, was “fired” by THE Donald), and it was also the time period when the Fox News anchors were mad about a few things, and I hadn’t even told Roger where I’d be. But he didn’t care as long as I showed up at the end of the day with a clear sound bite, a solid Tweet, and a full-length speech. That was what I needed to keep my job. It was a complicated summer but just like that it was also a very simple summer. The expectations were clear: Make THE Donald look like a titan of industry with at least the political acumen of a Bush brother. We knew that’d be enough to win the GOP nomination and maybe even the entire presidency.

Anyway, Selena was standing in the middle of the room, her back to me, her head bowed to her phone like she was praying, and I had a little time to look her over. I noticed that she was dressed up, too dressed up for the middle of the day, standing in the middle of a stock room in this part of town. She had on a little black cocktail dress, black heels, a small black purse in her left hand, and her hair was pulled up. I could tell that she wanted to look good, and the truth was, she did. Plus, she smelled good. Her vanilla perfume had already permeated the room, making it so I couldn’t focus on the laptop in front of me.

I was watching Selena as she watched her phone, and that was when THE Donald came in. Roger walked in with him and said, “Twenty minutes. That’s all,” and THE Donald gave him a pouty face before adjusting the front of his hairpiece. Then Roger left.

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Selena put her phone away, tucked it into that little black purse.

THE Donald said, “Don’t put your phone away. I love the things you’ve been sending me.”

Selena said, “You like the pics?”

“Oh yeah, I like those a LOT!” THE Donald enjoyed emphasizing the last word in most of his sentences, something I’d learned to use all-caps for or a series of exclamation points when I wrote his speeches.

Selena said, “But I heard that you don’t like Mexicans.” She moved her hips a little  when she said that, like she was dancing to some kind of music that no one could hear, and I’m sure she got THE Donald’s attention with her little shimmy and shake.

He stepped closer to her. “I would make a Mexican exception for YOU.”

Selena touched the lapel on his suit. “You would do that for me?”

“Without a doubt. You’re such a cute little…” THE Donald touched the tip of her nose, “…foreigner.”

Selena said, “You really think I’m cute?”

“Of course I do.”

Selena tipped her head to the side, and made a sad face. “’Cute’ is something Justin never called me. I tried every trick I knew, but he only thinks…” She stopped.

“Thinks what? You can tell me. My friends say that I’m a great LISTENER.”

“Well,” she said, “Justin just thinks…well, he just thinks prostitutes are cute.”

“That’s CRAZY!” THE Donald said. “You’re cuter than most prostitutes I’ve ever been with.”

“Oh, Donald, say that again.”

“You really ARE. And that’s the kind of TRUTH Obama is always afraid to say, the real truth. The difficult and obvious TRUTH!!!”

Selena started playing with THE Donald’s tie. She was sliding her fingers up and down the stripes, slow and smooth. She said, “I’ve been wanting to see you in private.”

“That’s normal. A lot of people want to see me in private. I’m a wealthy guy and my time is limited. But, of course, I want to see you in private too. There’s something I’ve been thinking about for us. It’s a big idea. World-CHANGING.”

I’d been listening this whole time – even taking notes on my laptop – but now I leaned forward to make sure that I didn’t miss a single word. I was scared of whatever THE Donald was about to say, scared for Selena, scared a little bit for her, but even more scared for me.

`           We – on the team – tried to limit the total number of ideas THE Donald was allowed to come up with each week. Roger was always telling him, “This is a one idea week, okay. That’s all we can handle right now. One.” Then he’d hold up a single finger for emphasis and THE Donald would look like a kindergartener who’d been sent to the corner by the teacher. He would lower his eyebrows and push his lips out. His hair would slide forward and flap a little bit on top, and I wanted to tell him to never make that face around the media but unfortunately I’d seen him make that face almost every single day I’d been with his campaign.

But THE Donald wasn’t making that face now. Right now, he looked happy. Or to be more accurate, he looked excited. Selena was still rubbing his tie and he had this big, wide-eyed look on his face as if Roger were allowing him a TEN-idea week. THE Donald leaned in to Selena, his face close to hers, and said, in a stage-whisper, “Run with me.”

“What?” she said.

“Run with me. Be my vice PRESIDENT!”

“Could I?” she said. “I mean, would people really think that I was…”

“Qualified?” he said. “Yes, of course. You’re FAMOUS.”

“Oh, that’s all you need to be?”

“Obviously. That’s all anyone needs to be ANYTHING in this country. We could be famous TOGETHER!!!”

“As running mates?”

“As lovers AND as running mates. Plus, you’d solve my Mexican problem!”

“Oh my god,” she said. “That is so sweet.”

“I know, see? Megyn Kelly was wrong. I really can be sweet to women.”

Selena pulled THE Donald’s face down and kissed him. Then she said, “Be sweet to me, Donald.”

He kissed her, then stopped and smelled her hair. “I’ll treat you better than Ivana.”

“Who’s Ivana?”

“No one, Sweetie. Shhh…” THE Donald put his finger to Selena’s lips.

Then they kissed some more, and THE Donald’s hair shifted a couple of inches to the right.

Selena pulled back. “Wait, I thought I heard that the vice president has to be 35 years old, or something like that.”

“Is that a RULE?!” THE Donald tipped his head back, held his hair, and laughed. “I don’t follow rules. That’s why I’m a breath of fresh air in this election. That’s why I’m something DIFFERENT. That’s why I’m going to WIN!”

“Oh, Donald,” Selena said, “hold me like Justin never did.”

THE Donald’s hands roamed down her body, and he whispered, “You know I will.”

 

…and the rest of what I saw, I probably shouldn’t describe.

Anyway, TMZ has that grainy video footage that – thank god – I’m not visible in.

 

Later that day – after a double-highball at a nearby bar to get rid of some lingering images in my mind, then two shots of espresso to clear my head – I came up with the following pieces of promotional material.

 

The Sound Bite:

Donald Trump has announced his running mate…

None other than the incomparable Selena Gomez.

 

The Tweet for @realDonaldTrump:

I love Mexicans so much that I’m sleeping with one AND running with one AS WELL!!!

Vote #SelenaAndTHEDonald

 

Plus, I wrote the speech that day, THE speech, the one that most people are saying will win Donald Trump the presidency of the United States.