This is the first of irregularly-appearing essays on CURRENT EVENTS as seen through a FORWARD TO GLORY lens…
March 5, 2017
Brian Paul Bach
‘Life is a lemon, and I want my money back!’ – Meat Loaf
Trumpian analysis is coming fast and furious, and that’s a very welcome thing. It can get a bit repetitive of course, but the ADD/ADHD culture in play in the nation requires repeated but competent statements of clarity. This, in order for effortless consumption of its substance to occur. As of right now, a coup is in play, remarkably pulled off – though without finesse – by The Donald & Company. I’m using that particular moniker because, even though he’s the Prez, he’s still The Donald. He doesn’t appear to have been altered one iota by his new status.
Yes, the time of The Donald is well upon us. I vigorously avoid using terms like ‘era’ or ‘epoch’ or (heaven help us) ‘age’ because, even though he has now exceeded the record held by poor old William Henry Harrison for the shortest presidential term ever – alas, a mere month – there’s nothing wrong with coming in second, even for the supreme winners of the world. James A. Garfield, prepare to exchange your silver medal for a bronze!
Instead, I label his administration an error in the American Experiment. Such errors can be cheerfully rectified if we simply obey our own laws (to employ an apropos Chomskyesque phrase). Thus, I expect to have his resignation on my desk well before this upcoming Midsummer’s Eve.
To me, The Donald is the full flowering of the Baby Boomer dream. Through his being, the entitlement of self-importance has reached its apotheosis. And because we Boomers are all stars, his achievement makes complete sense. That’s why so many aging Boomer men are experiencing a sort of dim joy in the midst of their usual sullenness. As we know, The Donald isn’t the first Boomer to reach the world’s pinnacle of power. Bill, Dubya, & Barack qualify, but Trump is the first (and probably last) to properly display Boomer attitude as it was meant to be practiced. His constituency is thus avenged for the disappointments in life most Boomers tend to agonize over – and are rapidly succumbing to. That is, lack of personal success. Disillusionment over how difficult life turned out to be. Depression over the fact that the world wasn’t really changed by the Boomer presence after all. Except for maybe dropping the ball on any idealism, and selling out to Reaganesque goals of gain. The Donald, in all his audacity of spoiled behavior, dainty sensitivities, and mindless babble, is nevertheless their redeemer. He can perform pretty damn well, you know. He just comes up with stuff. He may be a pain in the ass, but he’s a our pain in the ass! His bizarre egomania is at least one helluva bang for the Boomer buck. As if: ‘We were HERE, dammit, and WE SHOWED YOU!’, instead of going quietly into that not-so-good night. The thing is, The Donald is going to let them down, in every conceivable way. He already has, of course, but Americans really quail at the very thought of having bought a lemon, and they’ll do practically anything to avoid looking like they got screwed over.
One aspect of The Donald that has always been a cinch to criticize, and for all the right reasons, is his regard for things of quality. That is, things he thinks are quality. As everyone knows, in his tastes, his preferences in most things of a showoff nature tend towards kitsch. Trump Tower is one of the most boring and forgettable high-rises in Manhattan. His ‘products’ are meaningless and unnecessary. His attempts at glitz, glam, and style come off as consummately… cheap.
As the inimitable Nick Abbot on Brit radio LBC repeatedly reminds us, Trump is ‘a poor man’s idea of what a rich man should be’.
One of my favorite critiques of architecture comes from the late, great Robert Hughes, and is applicable to more than one Donald:
‘The traditional role of public architecture in a democracy – to remind the citizen that he or she is the reason for the state, and not vice versa – was cut from the cultural script… (Now there were) favored younger architects, the pediment-quoting Ralph Laurens of their profession: formica-thin memorials to the vanity of this or that corporate raider, gilded Trumpery, visual propaganda for the empire of Donald Duck.’
[‘Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America’, Lecture 1–Culture and the Broken Polity, 1993.]
That said, one really wonders what his regard for the arts actually is. You know, the really good stuff.
I would imagine that he considers such comparatively miniscule-budgeted entities like the National Endowment for the Arts as big money-wasters, better relegated to the private sector – preferably his own – for guaranteed profit. I imagine that he’s always considered himself a patron of the arts as a given, especially if one is considered a ‘billionaire’ in NYC. But he ain’t no Rockefeller, or Guggenheim, or even a Zeckendorf. Sure, he engaged Philip Johnson’s firm and other respectable names for his print-out condos (in name only, not ownership), but if his bragging about Trump Tower’s nothingness is any criterion, anything after is merely a bad joke. Yet another one to toss into the Trump Dump.
Back in the 70s, National Lampoon issued a hilarious book titled ‘Would You Buy A Used War From This Man?’. The cover sports an Edward Sorel drawing of Richard Nixon in used car dealer guise, and a sign declaring: ‘Tricky Dick’s Used Carnage’. Vietnam was of course the topic in question. Any comparable parody of Trump will naturally have to be far less profound, for behind his tacky exterior, there’s nothing but the boring, dismal, and utterly hopeless dystopia of egomania. It’s that bad.
Fortunately, the Arts, even in the face of defunding on all levels, will no doubt rescue us from any such devolution in our civilization, which must end up as a temporary condition, worthy of no more than a footnote in all subsequent histories. Down there with Vitellius, the glutinous Roman emperor who was hauled through the streets on a meat hook by disgusted citizens, then flung into the Tiber.
It’s up to us to provide material of quality and purpose, from trenchant exposé to innovative satire, not only as a response to Trumpism’s traction beams – bent on luring people who should know better into the nightfall – but so as to restore our own self worth, which in an ostensible democracy, carries its own sense of justified entitlement.
Even in these early but overloaded days of Trumpism’s term of trial, it has to be stated that, given all the cards played, the wads shot, and the Rubicons crossed, the time of The Donald is surely aligned with the clock maintained by the Atomic Scientists. And it’s getting late, very late. Even for presidents, the midnight bell shall toll And you know what, Mr. President? For the sake of the nation and the world, it tolls for thee.
©2017 by Brian Paul Bach