We are still America.
We know the rumors of our demise.
We spit them out.
They die soon.
U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo
I gave this Harjo quote to my writing friends on Tuesday as a prompt. Below is my response. If you haven’t watched Ted Lasso, perhaps don’t bother because it’s a lot about that show. Also, if you haven’t finished Season TWO — warning! There are spoilers!
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“To face a crowd,” she instructs, “lift your arms while breathing in.” She demonstrates. “Make yourself big!” The statuesque club-owner talking to the littlest of the coaches. When he tries, he finds the technique useless. He cannot make himself bigger. Instead, he spits at the mirror. Somehow, that works. Spit, plus an e, equals spite, we soon learn.
All the happy transformations and mini-redemptions, which are sometimes big redemptions, somehow are lost on Nate the Great, the littlest coach. He turns into Nate the Snape. It doesn’t matter that his burning resentments are misplaced — clearly father-induced — they flare into betrayal anyway. He digs himself into a hole so deep that no rope ladder of apology can help him exit.
But we know, we wise viewers, that our hero, head coach Lasso, previously portrayed as being able to bridge every chasm with folksy stories, genuine humility, and a radical capacity to apologize, doesn’t try very hard at the critical moment with Nate, now does he?
And, pshaw, when the final scene of Season Two shows Nate formerly the Great on the sidelines of the nemesis team, we know the failure was a gimmick and it disappoints as gimmicks always do.
Nevertheless, we look to Lasso, a man of the moment, somehow. If only there were stories appealing enough, humility genuine enough, and apologies transformative enough to bridge the flaming chasm that divides America. I don’t think there are. We’re at Stage Nine or Ten on the way to tyranny, the stage where truth no longer matters. Post truth is pre-fascism. It comes after the stage of simplistically and hatefully vilifying the other. Lock her Up! Build the Wall! As one pundit put it, we’re not debating the efficacy of vaccines or masks, we’re debating whether truth matters or not.
So before trying to spit out the notion that we are in free-fall decline, I must first spit on epic, destructive stupidity. SPIT. Yes, it’s the racism, stupid, but it’s also the stupidity, stupid! I must spit on greedy corporatism infecting governance. SPIT. On lying. And more lying. I mean Satan-level lying. SPIT. And on stupidity again — willful stupidity, as in I did my own research on Facebook, and corrupt stupidity as in a climate-crisis denier opining in Congress, ain’t it better for agriculture if it’s warm? Yuck. Yuck. SPIT.
The rumors of our demise are so well-founded, how do I spit them away?
Magic not saliva might be required. A national exorcism. Starting with the Former Liar in Chief followed by Fox News, which leads me to note, by the way, that the step on the road to tyranny about the state taking over the levers of the press would not be required on our path to damnation, not as long as idiots like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham drip nightly poison to huge adoring crowds.
We are still America. Still riven by race. Still tainted by the original sins of genocide and slavery. Our exceptionalism always dwelt in pools of blood and now it also depends on the masses being ignorant. George Carlin knew as much decades ago when he joked, they WANT you to be uneducated.
List of the vilified: intelligence, climate science, disease science, science, science, science, eloquence, the separation of church and state, women, women, women, especially women in positions of power.
Therefore, I can only spit on the rumors of our demise as a supreme act of faith.
An act of faith.
An act of faith.
If only Paul Bunyan could come back as Ted Lasso and stomp from state to state applying his special brand of seeing the other, meeting the other, transforming the other. Not, certainly not, Mitt Romney in the signature cardigan and a plastered-on mustache which, by the way made him look more like Hitler than the humble coach, kneeling in a sickening gimmick, making an offering to the flourescent-pink-garbed Sinema.
SHE’s spitting on America.
Can I spit back before exorcizing the sense of inevitable demise of our Republic?
An act of faith. Into the ground my weary disdain, my frothy pessimism. Pattoowie.
new recording 16
Recording, if it works, gawd I’m a dolt — is four minutes forty six seconds.