The weekend before, the family celebrated the Bat Mitzvah of my daughter.
Please, do not panic. I am not Abraham’s wife, Sarah from the Bible.
I am the 87 year old mother of a 57 year old daughter who made a decision to join her husband and three children in her quest for her official place in the Jewish Community. She has studied and worked for the last two years towards this ceremony and the family gathered. The first post-pandemic gathering at an outdoor Synagogue service with Zoom accessibility for friends and family across the time zones of the world.
It was a heart and soul event that was an antidote of good will, good cheer, intellectual and spiritual edification, and a beautiful outpouring of love, displacing, at least for a moment, the Covid/Pandemic scenario. Proving that with vaccinations and careful preparations life as some of us have known it continues.
The weekend brought my family together. My immediate family consists of 3 daughters, Dianne, Lori, Pamela. After the event Dianne and her family, who have been in Barcelona for the past 2 years, drove me back to my home in Great Barrington to visit. From the age of 13 she has always had a keen culinary interest (Lori, as well. Pammy inherited my reticence in the kitchen). One evening gifted me with a great and very complicated dinner. She shopped for all her ingredients. I think she used every pot and utensil my kitchen possessed. There was no room for me in the kitchen. It was overloaded with all the food she bought and the equipment and my daughter. I was excited and I might add, a little curious. Since Humpty Dumpty was nowhere to be found, who was going to put the kitchen back together again? We’ll get to that later. Best not to disturb the creative genius at work.
A triumph. The dinner was brilliant. So delicious. Each dish in itself was tasty and unique. It didn’t matter that all together they didn’t quite go together. She has a very natural culinary talent.
In an instant, my memory was jostled back to a Christmas years ago when she was 13 and her sisters 11 and 9. They had asked what I wanted for Christmas. I asked them if they would each prepare their own dinner for the family. Her sisters prepared age appropriate menus… hot dogs and beans, hamburgers and chips. However, at 13, Dianne decided to challenge Julia Child to a food duel in my kitchen. The same result. Even if nothing went with anything, each dish, in itself was excellent.
Back to the present… As she put the kitchen back in order, I reminded her of that long ago Christmas gift. She remembered. We laughed. She left the next day to travel to visit friends and family and her storage unit in Baltimore. She was in a cleaning out mode before heading back to Barcelona.
A day or so later, she called and said she found the Christmas gift menu of when she was 13. I couldn’t believe it. Serendipity, synchronicity …
Here is her menu.
Like I said. Everything had great taste…then and now.
There are so many questions that have occurred to me from this memory box.
Why did I ask my children to learn to use the kitchen at 13, 11 and 9?
At the time we were living in Washington, D.C. Somewhere deep in my subconscious… I wanted to return to New York City, pound the pavements of Broadway to become a STARRRRR. I had to wait until the children were at an age where they would be able to care for themselves and to understand why I needed to go. To assuage the guilt for even thinking about such a “bad mommy” idea, I thought of it as just a practical application of life… kind of an at-home home economics course . Oh, my dears, I don’t know about you, but my ability to block my subconscious tends toward genius.
The other part of this memory that brings an appropriate question to mind is why is a Jewish family celebrating Christmas. It actually comes from my family tradition. I am one of 7 brothers and sisters. We all went to Sunday School. The 4 boys all had a Bar Mitzvah. The 4 girls Confirmed. We were Reform Jews and back then, girls did not have a Bat Mitzvah (that’s how old I am!). Most importantly we did celebrate all the Jewish Holidays which included Hanukah, but my mother loved Christmas. She loved the spirit of joy and peace. She loved the music. And most of all she loved SHOPPING. Even through the depression, she opened a Christmas Savings Account to put money away every week to buy all of us presents. And my father who had always wanted to be an actor played his starring role of the year, Santa Claus.
I will say that his costume was a bit bizarre. He had a great Santa mask with beard and a gorgeous Mandarin Silk Robe as his suit. Please don’t ask me. I have no idea where this combination came from. It occurs to me that perhaps as a Jew this was his “not going all the way” in the Christian mode. It was, to say the least, memorable. I continued this tradition. Unfortunately, my former husband had no theatrical ambitions so we did it without a Santa. I wonder… was our Christmas celebrations of the past an unlit spark in my daughter who was just Bat Mitzvahed?
So many questions and any answer I might have just brings up another question.
That’s life, right guys?? I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am happy to live with another question.
I have been a Covid hostage from March of 2020 until February of 2021, which is when I got my first vaccination shot. That is enough time for what’s called the Stockholm Syndrome to take root and build within my psyche the necessary combination of fear and helplessness. If that isn’t a diagnosis of the Stockholm Syndrome then I’m a monkey’s uncle. Although, as we struggle with new gender definitions, I believe I would be a monkey’s aunt or monkey’s They???? Sorry, can’t go there because I am too ill informed.
Ok so I acknowledge I am a victim of Covid Stockholm Syndrome. And thankfully, I do not feel alone. Please let me know if this resonates with you.
Since I have returned north (Brrrrrrr!!!), I have been talking to friends and family about their winter in a cold Covid climate and the advent of the vaccinations and the promise of a different Spring and Summer from last year. I feel like I am a human who has been in hibernation. And as the vaccinations proceed very slowly, one foot in front of the other, sniffing and searching as I go, testing the waters as I move from my cave into the light.
In a sense, the exit from my cave and my acceptance of the vaccine is a very personal leap of faith. Every time I have ever made one of those leaps of faith, I have found the juice of life is more profound and though the leaps can be challenging and frightening, ultimately for me they make my life more satisfying.
Yeah??? So what’s my point???
Well, I have discovered quite a few friends that are satisfied with the Covid status quo of the past. Translation: No vaccine. I have spent much of my life opting for FREE CHOICE… religion, race, sex, education… your life, you choose. Well, of course there is a caveat… what’s the matter with you? You think life is fair or free? Not! Only for babies! And then, as sadly we know, in many cases not even for babies.
All right already, I’m getting to it. Here is my point. There is a cost to life. We are periodically asked to make a leap of faith. And for me, getting the vaccine is a leap of faith. There is so much we don’t know. We don’t know way more than we do know… forever. However, if I want to come out of my cave, not wear a mask, travel to see friends, relatives, or the Aurora Borealis, give or get a hug from someone outside my POD (OMG it sounds like a remake of The Body Snatchers), then I need to get my shot.
So what has this got to do with the Stockholm Syndrome?
All of us have been kidnapped by Covid, that’s what!!!
I think it’s time we recognize that fear and helplessness narrows the world and limits life’s opportunities and the wonderful joyful noise that goes with it.
I’m packing to travel North. This is not a fun thing to do. I need a laugh. I always need a laugh. And rewatching old episodes of The Nanny was not doing the trick because I can’t stand the laugh tracks
Over the covid-pandemic-isolating year finding a laugh meant I could hold out for another day. I’m down to counting microseconds so I can take my shot-up body North to hug other shot-up bodies.
Between packing breaks I hydrate and read.
Today I received the April 12th issue of The New Yorker. Anthony Lane, their movie critic, provided me with THE BIG LAUGH.
I have had some interesting discussions with friends and acquaintances who have refused vaccinations. Now we all know how ridiculously judgmental I can be… not all the time, but enough of the time to make these discussions, in polite terms, volatile. The reasons against Covid-19 vaccination run the gambit from “not enough time” to “prove the efficacy of the drug” to “political chicanery” from all parties, including current and former Presidents as well as everyone in the House and the Senate, ad infinitum.
Now, I shall acknowledge the use and abuse of both parties to politicize the vaccinations. Science has always had difficulties with the powers that be. Religion and science have made nice over the centuries. They are still suspicious of each other but my take, at least in the United States, is that slowly, very slowly, religion has begun to take its proper place in the pantheon of life as a support system for individuals… part of the four freedoms… freedom of worship. My belief is that this freedom will allow Science and Religion to co-inhabit the world. Imagine that!!
Over the past pandemic year in isolation I have been keeping good company with myself. Herein lies a recent conversation I’ve had with me:
What is behind the rejection of vaccination? FEAR!!
Duh!!! So tell us something we don’t know????
OK, I’ll try.
Go to Google.
Oh, this is good… it’s almost as though Google knew what I was thinking.
The Tar Pits outside of Hancock Park. Over many centuries, the tar pits preserved the bones of trapped animals.
Here’s the story! Back thousands of years ago there was an approaching climate change. Over the centuries there were many climate changes. You know like another Ice Age or heat wave or drought… there weren’t too many deniers of climate change back then because there weren’t that many humans and there were no political parties. However, most of the animals and the few humans had very sharpened animal instincts. The largest of which was survival. Survival and fear go hand in hand. So picture the dinosaurs chomping away on trees and grass (yes most of them were vegetarians) and as the weather changed, their survival/fear instinct was aroused. Now they loved L.A. but those who followed their instincts left Hancock Park and moved north to where they found safety for many millenniums along with evolutionary changes.
Today you can see the remnants of those who ignored their survival/fear instincts and became trapped in the ooze of the La Brea Tar Pits.
What has that got to do with anything?
Sometimes talking to myself is so difficult. Do I have to spell everything out for you?
It’s called species adaptation. Species that adapt to changes survive. Species that don’t… don’t!
Yeah? So what?
Don’t you see. We have two herds. We have the Vaccine Herd Immunizers or the VHI. We have the No Vaccine Herd Immunizers or the NVHI. Both herds fear Covid. However, once the scientists and the FDA approved the vaccines, the VHI team lined up, pushed ahead and did whatever to get their shot. They moved. They adapted. Yes, into the unknown but for them the known was death and illness and no hugs.
The NVHI are waiting and thinking. Not adapting. Still chomping on leaves and grass.
La Brea Tar Pits… now do you get it?
Not to worry. I am donating my brain to Science.
All, to say my dear ones, I’m not telling you what to do, God Forbid, when have I ever done that?
And then came the Ever Given. This is the name of the container ship which is part of the Taiwan based shipping company Evergreen. En route from China to Rotterdam sliding through the Suez Canal, it drifted. The hull of the ship drifted sideways into the sand wall of the Canal. HOME! It liked where it landed. Unfortunately, nobody else did. Most particularly the hundreds of other container ships in passage in both directions which were now as STUCK in the Canal as the Ever Given.
A Suez Canal Dialogue ensues:
Captain of Ever Given (to Ali Schwartz, the unfortunate Canal Administrator on duty at the time) : All right already guys, we’re stuck.
Ali Schwartz: How did that happen?
Captain: One of my guys said we did a Tokyo Drift.
Ali Schwartz: What the hell is a Tokyo Drift?
Captain: Damned if I know… some movie, I think.
Ali Schwartz: O.K. we’re in contact with our Suez AAA Service Representative. They will be there shortly.
Captain: Hurry! The guys behind me and the guys in front of me haven’t let their hands off their horns since it happened.
Ali Schwartz: Before they leave to pull you off… is your membership paid up?
That conversation occurred 10 days ago. The Ever Given is still there. Stuck in the side of the canal. Commercial traffic, no less the family on their yacht for their once in a lifetime passage through the Suez Canal, are all stuck and if you are one of the unlucky people who ordered something online from China (like through Amazon, Walmart, etc) you can either relax or go out and buy it retail like at a store like the old fashioned way.
I feel a lot like the author of this article in the Atlantic… stuck on the container ship being stuck. In all my self help and therapeutic analysis of my voracious need to control, the story fascinates me. I have spent half of my life intellectually aware of the need to surrender and in the surrender to understand how little in life I do control. I try. God knows I try, but habit and really, I think, fear, impedes my progress.
And so the Ever Given is as good an example, a lesson in understanding surrender. What the hell are we supposed to do when the mechanics of life do not cooperate in moving the chess pieces of life??
So, now as I watch the world converge on the Suez Canal with all their equipment and expertise and they still cannot move the behemoth, here’s my advice to one and all…
Surrender is a good thing.
Find an alternate route if your travel plans involve the Suez Canal.
We have all heard it a million times… writing is such a lonely craft. No matter how writers try to distract themselves from themselves, eventually they must succumb and begin the lonely climb from sub to conscious thought, from pen to paper or fingers to computer. Yes, I am describing my own journey. And then the thoughts are dispersed to the person or in this case, the “list” of those brave souls that signed on to accept and read my blog. All to say, I thankfully, always get some response to what I write.
So that even if I write in the wilderness, eventually after sending the blog out, someone or someones rescue me from my solitude and brings me into their thoughts and responses and I am profoundly gratified and satisfied.
Hey, let us not forget my friends… I began my game of life as a performer. My passion was in putting myself before an audience and hoping I gave them pleasure or challenge or both. That give and take audience response was my initial lifeline from dysfunctional family life to dysfunctional married life. My ever growing, developing, nurturing, constantly challenging, and most loving relationship with my daughters was and always will be my raison d’être, but performing was definitely my second choice.
So writing in the wilderness is very difficult for me. And without response… OI VEY! … you’ve got to be kidding… a killer… an absolutely killer. I’ve been told to not be bothered by the lack of response… blog readers don’t usually respond. Well, in this last Blog about the Netflix movie, I Care A Lot…. I specifically asked for a response… and I got it.
I’m going to try and figure out how to rework my blog so I can keep this “audience” response going. In the meantime, I want to share some of the responses I received.
From Jim: In my reading lately I’ve come across the concept referred to as the attention economy. Mostly in reference to social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc. it is the idea that our attention is finite and of value and we should pay attention to how we ‘spend’ it.
These dark, ironic ‘humor’ movies and shows make me feel like I’ve not only wasted my time but been ripped off in terms of my attention. And since everything is tracked these days I am starting to be much more circumspect in how I allocate my attention.
From Donna: I saw the trailer for “I Care A Lot”. Half way through the trailer, it ’sceeved’ me out and I moved on. What a horrible plot!!!… The world is frightening enough these days without adding to it.
From Pamela: I was afraid of that. I saw the blurb and could feel the ickiness. Glad you STOPPED WATCHING!!! Your senses are too precious to fill with such a vile version of humanity!
From Paula: In CA almost impossible to have someone declared incapacitated in the courts. Court also sends out its own independent investigator. Anyway wanted you to know this so that you can sleep again…
FYI, I never watch movies like this anymore (even in the past I rarely watched) – no matter what the reviews. Too much ugliness in the world already. I need an escape.
From Dianne: I read your blog. That movie sounds horrible. Glad you switched over to reliable Agatha.
From Lana: Ugh. I watched that movie last night. I wanted to quit part way through it — I actually found it very uncomfortable and a little bit horrifying. I also wanted to see if it had a satisfying end (yes, sort of). But I went to bed with a flutter in my throat, kind of wishing I hadn’t watched it. But it made me wonder if, during the Trump era, producers made more movies like that — characters derelict of conscience or humanity
In reading up on the backstory of the movie, I see an article in The New Yorker was part inspiration: The Takeover The whole thing scared the be-jesus out of me.
While there have been shows where some audience members left before I did, (I’ve been in a few “turkeys” in my time), but as Laurence Olivier said, “If you haven’t had any bad reviews, you can’t call yourself an actor”.
You see this is the kind of digression that counts as a distraction when I am trying to write. All I meant to say is… if you want to respond to any of the responses my machines are always open.
Last night I looked forward to watching a new Netflix thriller/mystery I Care A Lot. It had some of my favorite actors Dianne Wiest, Peter Dinklage, and starring Rosamund Pike.
Basically it’s a story of a woman Marla Grayson (Pike) who is in the very profitable business of defrauding seniors. Her racket is guardianship: identifying powerless retirees, having them falsely declared mentally incompetent and herself appointed their legal conservator and then defrauding them of all their assets which by some not so mysterious ways ends up in her bank account. This happens through the collusion of doctors, nursing homes, and oblivious judges. It’s a really juicy plot.
I began watching and somewhere as I was approaching the halfway mark of the film I began to get a queasy feeling in my stomach. At the beginning, her success record of 100 per cent was challenged by only one son concerning his mother. He wanted to see his mother. He questioned her need for Guardianship. Marla chewed him up and spit him out. She was unstoppable.
She makes a mistake by targeting the mother of a crime boss but rather than show fear, she ups her game and no matter what the threat (and there are many consequential threats) pursues her dream of being so rich she is untouchable. (Put forth in the movie as “The American Dream”)
I didn’t stick around to see if she succeeded. I was sick to my stomach watching the amorality that filled the script and screen. Not one character in this film had any and I mean any redeeming features… a dark world that only got darker. Why do I want to watch people whom I don’t give a fig for succeed as they decimate whatever and whoever is in their way without any consequences.
As for me, I immediately reached for an antidote to the poison that had been spewing from my television for over an hour… I definitely stayed too long at the fair. I turned to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. Plenty of really villainous types but somehow always caught in the web of their own making.
I think it maybe reflects the fact that people need a dose of what this film serves up at this time. I think it’s that kind of dark, irreverent humor that we’re all a bit in need of.
~ Rosamund Pike
For the life of me… Where was the humor?? Definitely not the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup. Of course, as an actor I totally understand the thrill of being chosen but I find her statement unbelievable and irresponsible.
My philosophy has always been what goes around comes around. Time is not in anyone’s hands… but my belief is… in the game of life, The Decency and Humanity Team: 1 / The Amorals: 0
Of late, we have been sorely tested… but ain’t that what life is all about? It isn’t easy. It is difficult. And it definitely isn’t fair. Our work is never done. We have occasional breaks from the onslaughts… a walk in the woods, a picnic by the lake, a good book, a great movie, friends and families… and then we are right back in it again: snow and ice in Texas.
My beliefs say we always know what the right thing to do is… we are always challenged to do the right thing. Sometimes we can. Sometimes we can’t. But we know. That is what separates us from the beasts…
I wrote this Blah, Blah Blog yesterday. This morning I read about the new approach the prosecution is preparing for the impeachment of our former President. I now think the trial is going to be a constructive and instructive history lesson for all Americans and frankly, for everyone in the world who is interested in “FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ALL”. So here’s what I’m going to do. I am going to share what I wrote yesterday as a look into my own thought processes which normally are hidden and unfathomable even to me. I’d like to think it shows with continued exploration and investigation, I can be reached and even to the point of , dare I say it, changing my point of view. I don’t know about you, but in the climate of today’s polarizations on almost everything, that is a really big deal.
YESTERDAY’S THINKING AND WRITING:
A dear friend recently asked me if I was going to watch the televised impeachment trial.
I said I would not.
Not because I am not curious and concerned which I most certainly am.
My personal belief, after listening many times to his speech to the gathered mob in front of the White House on January 6th, is that our former President is guilty of inciting a mob to attack the Capitol. Also, my personal belief is that in counting the votes, it is most unlikely he will be found guilty. I ask myself, “Myself, why do I want to put myself through the disappointment of once again watching as the course of justice moves along “party lines”. And listening again to the rehashing of the lies, the same ‘ole-same ‘ole of no one listening to no one, which is utterly negative and depressing.” And so I shall await the expected verdict as I finish reading the extraordinary autobiography of Frederick Douglass.
Like I said, it’s an old childhood coping mechanism I developed against disappointment.
Allow me to elucidate.
As a child in a very large family where I always felt like an alien, my first defense was, of course, I was adopted. These were not my real parents. And these were not my real siblings. But my most favorite coping mechanism was my fantasy of being rescued.
Many were the nights where I would go to the living room where the radio/phonograph was (no television at that time) and put on a record of classical music (it mattered not which… although I did tend towards Chopin and Johannes Strauss waltzes) and danced until I dropped or until someone in the family complained (a frequent occurrence). The dancing was definitely a release but the dream that attended the dance was more important. As I danced, my fantasy was that Cecil B. De Mille was walking by my house (in Boro Park, Brooklyn), heard the music, looked in through the windows to see me giving it my all, immediately he went to my front door, My mother would answer. Mr. De Mille would give her his card and tell my mother that he needed me desperately for his next movie. Reluctantly and sometimes not so reluctantly she agreed, packed my ballet bag with my leotard, dancing shoes, and a package of Twinkies and I was off to Hollywood where I had always known I had belonged.
Eventually, I had to come down from fantasy to reality, my parents still owned me and being number 7 of 8 meant my siblings claimed me for errands and punishments befitting my station which meant I had to affect my own escape when I was able… it took a while, but I did. The best part of these childhood fantasies? They have moved with me.
At 87 years of age that child is still alive and well in me and I’ve got some doozie headline fantasies to prove it:
That was yesterday’s mashed potatoes and tomorrow I hope the promise of a more vital prosecution is fulfilled. And just remember, if not… there are always reruns of All In the Family.
Love, Sally-Jane ❤️
P.S. Randy Rainbow did this fabulous political parody from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof. For me, this says it all! ENJOY!
P.P.S. Don’t let your blood pressure rise during the trial. Here’s my remedy:
After the story, I shall share a very important article from The Atlantic and a really sharp video from a comedienne I’d never heard of before, (how unaware can an aware person be?) regarding the same subject from different people with the same ideas. Are you bored, yet? Well, after I tell my story, I promise, you won’t be.
Over a week ago, I received an email from a dear friend from across the pond (Atlantic Ocean for the uninitiated). London, England to be specific. She and her husband have been in real lockdown since the discovery of the more contagious variant of Covid 19. So no complaints about what you can or cannot do…. they cannot do or go ANYWHERE! Get it? Good!
Well, as they sit long term in their home, computer working, staring into space counting steps and other things, they have become Titans of Television. They are oh so grateful to the streaming services.
In particular, in her email, she mentioned a Netflix series called Lupin. She exclaimed how wonderful it was… a very clever French Detective Series with wonderful scenes of Paris and an extraordinary leading man. She had never seen him before and she raved about what a great actor and how gorgeous he is. She is as critical as I am (amazingly, on certain occasions she can be even more judgmental than I can… hard to imagine) but since we usually agree on what we read and see… plays, movies, television, I knew I would have to watch it.
The very next night I turned it on. At the beginning of episode 1, the script brings you into the bowels of the Louvre, where the cleaning staff gathers to do their nightly chores. For the first 10 minutes of the episode, I searched for and could not find this extraordinary leading man. All the cleaners passed before my eyes and I kept waiting for him. Finally, it occurred to me that this very beautiful black actor, Omar Sy, was the man.
I couldn’t believe me! Consciously, I never thought the leading actor she raved about would be black.
OK… going back to title of this piece, it never occurred to me the lead would be an unknown-to-me black actor, who is actually very well known in France.
Shame on me.
My own systemic racism showed itself. I am a voracious reader of writers of all persuasions, as well as a writer myself who is appalled not just by systemic racism, but by all the white overprivileged people who chant, “I AM NOT A RACIST!”. It is the rare white person that is truly color blind. I grew up in Brooklyn. I went to schools in Manhattan. My classes were always mixed. I shall not use that ridiculous phrase, “Some of my best friends are…” Even so, I thought I was one of those rare white ones.
I am not. For me to feel comfortable again, and I confess after this self revelation, I am so very uncomfortable, I have to crawl out and away from my dark denial into the light of who I really am… with all my zits and warts, and work this denial out of my system.
Now let me talk about my journey with and in denial. My experience tells me I use denial to protect my ego. I believe the ego is my defense system and you can’t be an artist without a strong ego.
As an artist, rejection is a primary color. Every artist exposes themselves to a very personal onslaught of slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The product involved in this rejection and criticism is ME… my soul, my heart, my very skin. Without risk, there is no art. It is easy to say “you win some, you lose some”. In risking, the artist completely exposes him or herself. Without the defense of the ego, aka: denial, I would have evaporated a long time ago. As I matured, and please believe me, I am never going to finish that process… (no complaints, just a confession.) Over the years, I realized very slowly that denial was losing it’s sparkle. It was a growth inhibitor. While I thought it was protecting me, it actually made it very easy to repeat some very negative behaviors: abusive relationships, unhealthy habits like smoking and eating, and exposing some personality and character traits that developed from being brought up in the usual normal dysfunctional family.
Previously, if there was something in my life that was too painful to bring into consciousness I kept it buried (denial) in what I thought was a safe place. Now, I work very hard at acknowledging my denial. And when I do acknowledge, make no mistake, peeling the layers of denial away to tell myself the truth is a very painful process. And that is why most of us back away from exposing that denial.
My mother always told me, “Sally-Jane, the truth will set you free, but first it’s really gonna piss you off.” Actually it wasn’t my mother, it was one of my many therapists.
Yes, my sweet friends and family, coming out of denial is extremely painful. Birth usually is.
P.S. A few quotes that will help me along the way come from Richard von Weizsacker, circa 1985, making a speech as the Federal President of Germany commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the end of World War II:
P.P.S. Before I forget… (A great title for a one woman show), here is the Atlantic Article
And even though I was very young back in 1944 (10 to be exact) I was old enough to remember a RADIO show by that name of which I was a devoted listener. My passion for the mysteries of life, no less literature, started when I was very young. For the last 20 years, at least, I buy and read the good ones from all over the world. Pitting my puzzle-solving oriented brain against Holmes, Christie, Sayers, Highsmith, Penny, le Carre, Ross Macdonald, Markell, Hiassen, Crais, Mosely… to name just a few of the masters. Lately, David Ignatius has captured my imagination.
His genre of books is the political thriller in the land of the internet. I am computer challenged on every level. Without help from a very dear friend, I would never have been able to organize and send the Blah Blah Blog. (There’s a juicy self-deprecating remark just pulsing to be written which I will hasten to ignore.) So why would an internet driven mystery intrigue me?
I’m so glad you asked. Because David Ignatius is a journalist, editor and columnist for The Washington Post. I find his 11 novels to be edged with reportorial skills that give insight to the real and actual political workings of hot spots around the world (Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, Russia; just to name a few) and no less detailed workings of the many Departments of the government of The United States. Truly, in the most legitimate sense of the words, he has inside information.
Well, ever since January 6th and watching as the President metaphorically, but really actually, yelled “FIRE!!” in a crowded theatre, prompting the frightening, illegal and unbelievable assault on the Capitol, I have been waiting for someone to unravel the mystery of how this horrific happening came to be.
The information we have received up to this date has been sparse, incomplete, and does not tell the whole story. To put it in today’s terms… it just doesn’t compute.
I am inspired to try my hand at writing a political thriller based on the events of January 6th. Including that which preceded the happening and what follows. With your indulgence I am going to share with you my outline. Forgive me if I seem to overstep the bounds of rational reasoning. Come to think of it, for the last four years that particular mental condition appears to be as contagious as the virus…
Here is my outline in 3 parts…
Part I Phase I
January 2009 Palm Springs: A Gazillionaire meeting hosted at the palatial fortress of Manny Midas of the top ten Gazillionaires. Topic: “There’s a Black Man in the White House“
The decision after everyone finally stopped blaming everyone for being asleep at the wheel was to fund an educational program that would train young men and women to promote the “Rich-As-Croesus-Old-White-Racists-Men” (RACOWRM) ideas of racial and economic division.
Their strategy was brilliant. DIVIDE AND CONQUER.
The old white racist men decided to endow a Rich-As-Croesus-Old-White-Racists-Men’s educational program in various colleges and universities throughout the United States.
Taught mostly by committed conservatives* of every stripe and occasional color, the programs offered what appeared to be an almost free education for those who qualified.
Upon graduation, the sharper and by now completely committed conservatives were offered high paying positions in the Conservative Think Tanks around the country and public relations firms committed to radical ultra-conservative issues… formenting public opinion on issues such as gerrymandering, voting restrictions, immigration policies… They did this through organizing social media, creating many ultra-far-right-radical-conspiracy-theory individuals and groups.
*Point of clarity: There is no judgement on being a conservative by choice. However, there is a difference between being an Ultra Radical Anything where reason and logic exit the field, leaving no opportunity for dialogue.
RACOWRM danced the Scrooged Screw (a well-known Rich as Croesus Dance) at the success of their program and vowed to meet every year in Palm Springs to discover how else they could control various Government programs from their hot tubs in Hot Springs.
Part II Phase II
In 2012, the rich as Croesus old white racist men were assured by the pundits and by the amount of money they spent that the black man in the White House was a one term President.
In January 2013, meeting again in Palm Springs, without dance or hot tubs, these RACOWRM decided it was no more Mr. Nice Guy time… the gloves were off.
The momentous decision of that meeting was to search and find a missing President. A missing Presidential candidate that would bring White Privilege back to power and center stage. Criteria was important.
Manny Midas, the richest of the RACOWRM, was a fan of a television show called The Apprentice. He enjoyed watching the host make a fool of himself and he made a lot of money as one of its sponsors.
For reasons we can only guess at, but shall never know, Manny fought for and won the lottery on finding the missing Presidential candidate. Of course, it helped that this man came with his own base (literally and figuratively). His fans were addicted to his vulgar, intolerant, and mentally unstable character. Human nature at its worst.
From 2013 until 2016, the RACOWRM built their special candidate. It was like reading or watching a sequel to Mary Shelley’s 19th Century novel. (look it up)
Using their same principle of Divide and Conquer, the Ultra Conservative Think Tanks and public relations firms worked tirelessly through the use of algorithms (can anyone explain that to me?) and other modern techniques of social media on the internet to organize and develop the “Younger Not So Rich White Racist Men and Women”. They fed the YNSRWRMW the necessary information to make their chosen candidate irresistible.
Let’s face it. It was kind of a miracle. To convince people that a bankrupt unsuccessful businessman in his 70’s who was a reality TV show host and who had never won an election or served in any public capacity, except as a Page 6 headline making President Clinton look like a member of the Puritan Party, would make the perfect President. The moon was definitely in retrograde because…
Against all the odds and evens and pollsters and punsters and everyone in the real world, he actually won!
Part III Phase III
I’m not sure, guys, whether to fast forward through the gathering storm of false news, the twitter and the tweeting, mind-boggling appointments, and too numerous to count declarations of “You’re Fired”, to get to 2020, but I think I shall…
It must be said that our Palm Springs group continued to meet and continued to pull strings on their creation and they were happy. They had a proven handle to control. If they wanted action of a certain kind, they primed the pump of his ego. His tweets were his method of governing. Leaving the real work of legislation and judicial review to their RACOWRM Worker Bees and the President’s family. His being “the greatest” worked miracles for their agenda. If he got out of line, they just let some of the air out of his ego balloon and woosh, he was back in line. The RACOWRM never veered from their original agenda – stoking the fires of racism. This election year was supposed to be a shoe-in. So many Democratic candidates, all fighting and blaming each other. A party in disarray. Definitely a shoe-in.
And then an ill wind blew in from China. Whoa! Regroup time!
The RACOWRM were stymied. No matter how much money they threw at the virus – and they did throw money – conquering the rogue virus was beyond their control. And to add to this conflagration, another black man was murdered by a group of white police officers. George Floyd’s death by police should not have been any different than the thousands that came before, but (and that’s another story) it was. Combine the pandemic with the Black Lives Matter rebellion by blacks and whites and the playing field has been permanently altered.
Well Guys, he never got his MOJO back. Unfortunately for the RACOWRM, their creation was a man incapable of dealing with reality which means he cannot be called upon to cope in an emergency.
He tried. He caught the virus to prove his super powers of recovery. However, no matter what he did, he never found the magic wand or pill to staunch the bleed. So he lost the election.
He remembered what his best buddy Roy Cohn advised him, “NEVER ADMIT DEFEAT”. Perfect advice for this situation. He didn’t lose. He won. He was still the world’s greatest… victim. They stole his election. “They” being anyone who knew he lost.
Uh-oh! The RACOWRM had to find a way to distance and disassociate from their creation. They were able to get their Ultra Conservative white worker bees to prime his pump again.
The plan was to stoke his ego to the bursting point. He needed to both implode and explode… a very difficult task. So when he lost the election his backers were set up to create chaos and dissonance and if push came to shove, which it usually does in these situations, violence. This was easy to do. They simply had to convince him to ignore the election. Ignore the Pandemic. Ignore anything happening in the real world, which was fine with him because he would do that anyway.
But as his ego was being stoked, the various Younger Not So Rich White Racist Men and Women were being organized to follow their leader. They had had a dress rehearsal at Charlottesville which proved very successful.
It was not difficult to get their creation to stand outside the White House on January 6th, a little puff of ego air, and do exactly what he and his family and his various white racist groups were programmed to do – scream “FIRE!!” in a crowded theatre, aka “The White House”, followed by invasion, assault, and destruction of the Capitol of the United States of America, as they were bidden to do by their leader. And they didn’t have to work to get access. They were indeed invited in and escorted out.
Okay that’s as far as I got. I’m waiting for the CIA, the FBI, the various intelligence agencies to suss it out. So, what do you think? Do I wait? Or is this the craziest most ridiculous unbelievable plot that no publisher in the world would buy because it could never happen in this country?
Update January 14:
I thought this post was a reasonable compilation of fact mixed with my over-the-the-wall, wild and vivid imagination about what I felt brought about the Capitol riots of January 6th. I clearly did not go far enough. There is now a call for investigation of claims that on the day before the pillage, Republican representatives and senators who had spread the lies of a fraudulent election, organized tours through the Capitol for the riot gang leaders from their different states. They allegedly pointed out points of interest like Pelosi’s office and various other chambers. Didn’t you think it was strange they knew exactly where to go? The Capitol is a mighty big building. I’ve been through it many times getting lost as I went.