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Ruminations on Death and the Weirdness that We Call Grief.

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*** The following mess of words is not really a typical Bastards piece. In fact, it’s really only been written because I didn’t have any other choice. It is certainly not a topic I would have willingly chosen, but sometimes that option gets taken from us. In all complete honesty, it’s a piece written solely for me. If you choose to read it and find something of value in it, great. If not, there will be no hard feelings. In truth, I wasn’t going to post this at all. I was going to write it, appease the shitty little muse who planted it in my head, and then delete it. Unfortunately, something keeps compelling me to post it. So here we are. An array of thoughts about a dead man most of you never knew. Ain’t life grand?***

 

“The muses are ghosts, and sometimes they come uninvited.” – Stephen King

I’ve had a recurring nightmare recently, in which my now dead father jumps out at me when I open my closet door and drops me to the ground while rattling off any number of business transgressions I have committed since his passing. To those of you who weren’t at the memorial and haven’t heard the story this particular nightmare steals from, you won’t fully understand the abject terror it has caused me. I think it’s only natural to think in terms of ghosts and supernatural when a loved one passes, as it gives us hope that they might still be around. There is no ghost, however, that is more terrifying than that of memory. The kind that sneaks up on you in the still of the night when you least expect it and punches you in the chest so hard that your eyes widen in shock and breathing becomes difficult. Stephen King may be right about the ghostly muses, but it’s the latter of the two that has compelled me to stare at this infernal screen and try to find some way to rid myself of the nightmares that currently plague me.

It is no secret that the Five Stages of Grief are an actual blueprint for handling loss. What they don’t tell you, is that you can float between them like some kind of sado-masochistic bird that can’t decide whether to attempt flying into the eye of a tornado or just saying fuck it and landing in front of the meanest feral cat you can find. My favorite stage thus far has been denial. It was a lot easier just pretending the man had trotted on down to Acapulco for a wild ten days than it was to admit I’d never be seeing him again. Bargaining has probably been the weirdest stage. The idea that there might be a way to sell yourself to the devil of the universe in exchange for one more day is, in all honesty, quite comical. I admittedly laughed at myself when I realized what I was doing. Depression has been the easiest of the stages to handle as it’s something I wrestle with every fall/winter and at times like this, it almost feels like home. The stage that has been the hardest and that has caused the most discomfort (and the one in which I currently reside) is anger. It started last Thursday morning. I woke up raging at the world for reasons I didn’t understand. I am not by nature an angry man, but this has caused me to pick fights with family members, yell at people on the street (though some have argued that they deserved it) and nearly caused me to pick a fight with my significant other whom I would never aim a hurtful word at. Now before the idea escapes that I might be angry at my father for dying, I am not. I am mad that he is not here anymore, but I am not mad at him. Which makes this a terrible stage for someone like me to be in, because I have nowhere to direct this. There isn’t a DMV for the dead where I can walk in, kick over the ‘Take a Number’ kiosk, and wreck unholy hell upon whatever poor bastard happens to be behind the counter. There is no one to blame for this. Not a doctor, not a drunk driver, no one. It was a pulmonary embolism and that was it. For someone like me who finds logic in emotions, this anger is directionless and illogical. It won’t bring him back, it won’t ease the pain, and it certainly won’t make life easier. So, I think it has manifested itself in the form of nightmares. Nightmares that do a complete disservice to my father. It gives me someone to be angry at. Not the ghost dad, but me. Again, completely illogical, but what about dealing with death isn’t?

I realize this is a complete departure from my usual style/subject, but I woke up this morning to find that I had been visited by one of King’s ghostly muses last night. When I opened my eyes at 5am, there was a mix of images and words scattered across my mind. Some were clear as day, others were like looking through a fishbowl. They floated around my head like some kind of airy dance of death, begging me to pay attention to them and give them life. In my weakness, I acquiesced. Now I find myself asking what kind jabbering goat would force something like this on the public. After all, there are very few who have any sort of stake in the above words, and they will most likely never read this. Maybe it’s because it’s how I’ve always handled things. Or maybe, it’s to appease the ghosts of the past that have moved themselves into the present.  Either way, I hope that by doing so, the darkness once again becomes a friend.

A Brief History of Narwhals and Why You Shouldn’t Give A Fuck

Alright kids, pull your chairs up to the fireplace here while Uncle CJ puts his storyteller hat on. After all, it’s cold as shit outside and there’s nothing better to do. Today’s lesson is about the majestic beast we all know as the narwhal. If you listen to sponge headed freaks like Mike Pence, they’ll tell you that Narwhal’s have always existed. Well, for the last 6,000 years anyway, because fuck science and logic. The fact of the matter, is that one sunshiny day, a whale was swimming close to shore when he spotted a Unicorn in the distance. No, this isn’t the same unicorn that Kim Jong Il’s great great great Emperor grandfather rode or fucked or whatever it is he allegedly did. This is just a plain old unicorn, sitting on a patch of grass by the ocean. Well this catches the whales attention. After a little back and forth, the whale mounts the unicorn and fucks that horny horse until the goddamn stars fall from the sky. A few months later, *bam* the unicorn gives birth to a horned whale. Thus the narwhal came into existence. Yes it’s a bullshit story, but these days who cares? Truth is lies in this, the great Empire of Fuckballery. The only real truth remaining in this country, is that we have fucked up this entire system in hilarious fashion. I believe it was John Adams that said “No democracy has ever lasted longer than 250 years.” Well, thanks a lot, John. We are at 240 and goddamn have we blown this fucker out of the water in spectacular fashion.

I really wish reanimation was a thing so that I could bring back the Founding Fathers. I’d sit them down in front of their faithful and laugh my ass off as they start to realize that everything they had imagined for this country has been dropped in a vat of acid. Fuck King George III, we are living in the age of Trump and Adolph Bannon. Try throwing a tea party today in Boston Harbor, and the cold black boot of government fuckery will stomp you like a lizard. There is no place in this America for noble patriotism bubba. You either fall in line or it’s the stockade for you, Peggy Sue. So, what do you do in times like this? When the future seems so bleak that even Van Morrison can’t write lyrics dark enough? Simple, kids. Step back, take a deep breath, and laugh your ass off.

I honestly have no fucking idea what Narwhals had to do with this except that Kellyanne Conway kinda looks like one. Which is fitting, because when I think of a creature that has sold it’s soul to the devil while lying about it the entire way down to hell, she fits the bill. The amazing thing to me about her role in this charade, is that in the primaries she talked about how immoral and disgusting Donald Trump was. Funny how money can change your opinion in a hurry. I remember the days when we used to make fun of Baghdad Bob. Remember that fucking guy? He was the yahoo in Iraq that kept saying the US had been driven out of Baghdad at precisely the same time US jets were landing in Baghdad airport. We laughed because his claims were so outlandish and so far from the truth, that you couldn’t help but laugh every time he opened his mouth. Fast forward 14 years and suddenly we have a whole fucking White House full of Baghdad Bob’s. Only this time no one is laughing. Well, except for those of us who saw this kinda shit coming from a mile away.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but we now live in the age of Alternative Facts. I could go outside and tell you that the sky is blue. Two hours later that angry dwarf Sean Spicer could hold a press conference, tell you the sky is green, and suddenly millions of water headed Americans would agree with him. Congratulations, America, you have officially put Idiocracy to shame. I keep asking myself how the fuck we got here, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. Ya’ll didn’t listen the first time around, I have a hard time believing you’ll listen this time. So my only advice to you is to not give a fuck, and make sure you water your plants with Brawndo three times a day. Why? Because it has what plants crave.

Sam Adams Rides the Bomb to Hell

It is currently 20 degrees out here in the Mitten, which is about 220 degrees warmer than Ann Coulter’s heart. Jesus…I didn’t last one sentence without getting personal, and why should I? That’s how the world works these days. There’s no civil discourse anymore. Fuck no, this is America, this is where a differing opinion is cause to call someone’s wife a horse fucker. It’s also the country where we have decided that unless protests are on sidewalks, far away from businesses, and basically consist of people just standing around holding signs, that they are evil and nonsensical. I, for one, am thankful that Sam Adams held neat orderly protests near the docks in 1773. God knows what kind of hell might have broken loose had he and his merry band of thugs decided to loot and riot…or at the very least dump a bunch of tea in the harbor. I’m also thankful that King George III took a look at those neat “Tax is Whack” signs they were peacefully protesting with, and came to his senses. Now that I think about it, I’m really pretty happy that Martin Luther King jr didn’t shut down any highways during the Civil Rights march. I mean, can you imagine the outcry if a bunch of black people protesting racism shut down highways leaving people with no way to get to work? Surely they would have been justified in just running those motherfuckers over. Also can’t forget Kent State. Thank god the National Guard was there to take down those hippy bastards. After all, the American Motto is: War is Sell. Can’t have a bunch of dirtballs fucking that racket up with their tree hugging crap.

Fucking hell…I’m fully invested in this piece now and I have absolutely no idea what it’s about. The stupidity of Americans? The laughable idea that people quote the founding fathers while in the same breath bitching about people protesting on freeways? Maybe I should just make this a piece of revisionist history. After all, alternative facts are the lay of the land now. Why, just yesterday, Kellyanne Conway stepped out of whatever coffin she lives in and braved the sunlight to tell the American people that the reason for the mulim refuge ban was due to the Bowling Green Massacre. Yes, a terrorist attack that NEVER happened. She claimed that most people don’t know about it because the media never covered it. Then…because that isn’t fucking weird enough, she tweeted out an apology with a link from a MEDIA source, covering the arrest of two terrorists who were suspected of being bomb makers. So, not only was there no massacre, but her apology tweet completely contradicted her statement about the media not covering it. Like, what the fuck? Is this really the reality we are in? Are people truly stupid enough to believe this “alternative fact” bullshit? I truly believe that Donald Trump could step outside the White House gates, shoot 15 people, and be celebrated for it. Sean Spicer would trot himself out and admonish the media for making it a negative story. His supporters would tweet out hillbilly bullshit like “It’s about time we had a badass in the White House!” Kellyanne Conway would take a break from her vampirical duties and inform the country that fake news had it wrong, that Trump saw a threat outside the White House and handled it himself like a true patriotic American.

Some people say I should care about this, others say don’t bother. Honestly, I’m in the middle of popping up a massive bowl of popcorn so I have a snack while watching you fuckers try to deal with this new reality. We tried warning you about this 5-6 years ago and all you did was call us crazy. Well, you certainly got us didn’t you? Enjoy your totalitarian terror, because this blood is on your hands.

The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve

Our story tonight takes place at the Westin Hotel. An old relic from the roaring 20’s that lies just on the outskirts of Chicago. A place where dreams die and shadows wander. It’s a snapshot in time that only remains standing because of the tireless efforts of Mr. James Winthrop and his wife Eileen. Mr. Winthrop is not a man that gives in to the false promises of wealth or materials. Instead, James Winthrop deals in the valuable currency that is memory, or in this case, memories. He is a man who has never taken for granted fortune or luck. His hands are wrinkled and calloused from years of manual labor. At first glance, his blue eyes seem sharp and speak of years of wisdom and experience. On closer inspection, however, one can see the strain of despair that too often comes with loss and suffering. Fortunately for Mr. Winthrop, it is Christmas Eve. A night when the dreams of many come to fruition. While children around the world are tended to by a belief in Santa Clause, Mr. Winthrop will be tended to by an old hotel…and the ghosts that still walk it’s halls.

DECEMBER 24th, 2015 10:30 p.m.

James Winthrop stood in front of the entrance to the Westin Hotel. The sharp Chicago wind blew through his heart like an ice pick. It was a quiet night, one for which Mr. Winthrop was grateful. He thought of Eileen and how angry she’d be if she saw him standing outside in just a hooded sweatshirt and jeans. It was then that the tears fell. Eileen had died 22 hours earlier. Cancer of the brain was the diagnosis, chemotherapy was the cause of death. They had been married 30 years, and for 30 years she had helped him take care of this dingy broken down palace of a hotel that once stood as a monument to excess in the 1920’s. For 30 years she had spent her nights at the Westin polishing statues no one cared about, and dusting paintings no one would ever see. When asked why she would waste her time taking care of an old hotel that no one paid attention to, she would say it wasn’t the hotel she was taking care of, but the memories. The only one who understood was James.

They had bought the hotel on the cheap in 1985. James had won the lottery in the summer of, 20 million to be exact. He and Eileen had been together two years by that point. They lived in a very modest apartment in one of the rougher areas of the city. Every Sunday night, James would load up their tiny little 1984 Cherry Red Datsun and drive off to the docks. Once there, he would begin his weekly shift as a longshoremen. Some days it was runs on a tug to Cleveland, others it was a week on a freighter bound for Marquette or St. Joseph. Either way, the work was hard and not as rewarding as he would have liked it to be. When his shift was done, be it an 8 hour or an 8 day, he would take the long way home up 55 near Archer Heights. There, at the corner of Archer Avenue and South Pulaski, stood the Westin Hotel. In the 80’s it was a shell of it’s former self. The bones were still strong, it had just given in to time like so many things in life do. Back in the 20’s though, the Westin was the place to be. An expansive 4 story hotel with a wing jutting out from each side, it was home to many of the extravagant parties that have now become the stuff of legends. It’s ballroom had seen numerous fox trots, Charlestons, and even a Tango performed by Rudolph Valentino. Then, in 1929, it all crashed down. The stock market blew up and the damage was too severe for even the famed Westin to survive. To it’s credit, the Westin lasted until 1941. By then it was hemorrhaging money. The owner, a shipping magnate by name of Harold Westin, had decided enough was enough. The hotel had bankrupted him. Instead of picking himself up and moving on, Harold Westin held a banquet for his employees on the last day of business. He repaid their loyalty and hard work by filling their glasses with wine…and hemlock. A few weeks later, the stories started. Someone knew a friend of a friend, or the cousin of a girlfriend, who had seen a ghost in the window late at night, or heard distant cries coming from the bowels of the hotel as they walked by. As the years went by and the advances in technology became more and more frequent, the hotel became a thing of the past. It’s dusty halls and alleged ghosts were forgotten. At least by everyone not named James Winthrop.

As James would drive by the hotel on his way home, he imagined what it would look like in it’s glory days. Men and women dressed to the nines, large, bright, chandeliers hanging from every ceiling in the hotel. Even the large golden staircase in the middle of the lobby that greeted guests as they walked in. He could hear the sounds of the big jazz bands. Maybe it was Joe “King” Oliver’s Creole Jazz band which featured Louie Armstrong on trumpet, or maybe it was Jelly Roll Morton. Either way, he could hear the horns as loud as thunder. He could see the dance floor in the ballroom filled to capacity with young star crossed lovers carrying on like they had all the time in the world. It must have been a sight to see. Once past the hotel though, James would feel an emptiness. Like he was leaving an old friend for the last time.

Once the madness surrounding their lottery win had settled down, James and Eileen set to the task of figuring out what to do with their new found wealth. One day James casually mentioned the idea of buying the Westin. Maybe they could fix it up and have it cast as a Historical Landmark. Eileen had surprised James by agreeing with his idea. Two days later they were handed the keys, four days later, the renovation work started. All in all, it took about 27 months for the repairs to be completed. By October 8th, 1987, they had moved into a room on the first floor of the hotel. Rather than have it dedicated as a historical landmark, the Winthrops decided to use it personally. When holidays were celebrated, they invited their families to stay with them. During the summer it was friends. Despite all that, they still found time to care for the rest of the hotel. Every night around 10-10:30pm, they would start to clean, and polish, and dust. It was for all intents and purposes, a labor of love.

Fast forward 27 years to 2014, and we find the Winthrops excelling. Having played the market quite accurately through the years, James Winthrop has amassed quite a fortune. They are the happiest they have ever been. Despite not needing to work a day in their lives, they still cared for the hotel every night. Then, just as it did in 1929, it all crashed down. Eileen had been complaining of cluster headaches for weeks. After a trip to the doctor and a CT scan, the diagnosis came back: brain cancer.

Eileen had decided to go ahead with the chemotherapy treatment despite the fact that it only raised her odds of survival from 10% – 40%. The drugs hit her hard and often left her lying in bed for hours on end. The first night of treatment, James tried to stick with Eileen in the bedroom. She insisted that he get out and do his nightly duty for the hotel. So the nights went by, James polished and Eileen got sicker. By November she was barely functioning, and by Christmas Eve…well…

James shuddered as the cold Chicago air enveloped him. His eye misted as he once again pondered what Eileen’s reaction to seeing him out here would have been. He turned around and walked back inside the hotel. He sighed and looked down the first floor hallway. Tonight everything seemed longer, bigger, and emptier. He walked to the front desk and grabbed the tin of bronze polish and the dingy cloth folded up next it. He took a moment of silence for Eileen, and then, because he didn’t know what else to do with himself, he polished the statue next to the staircase in the lobby.

James had just finished polishing the 2nd statue when a voice rang out.

“Excuse me, Mr Winthrop, we can handle that.”

James whipped around and found himself staring at a man dressed in a tux.

“Who are you?” James inquired.

“My name is Harold Westin, I built this hotel.” The man replied.

“But you died years ago.”

“Indeed I did” Westin bristled. “Now as I said a moment ago, we can handle that.” Westin snapped his fingers and the hotel immediately became engulfed in light. James shut his eyes for a few moments before opening them slowly so they could adjust to the light. He gasped as he saw people running around in every direction, polishing the brass, dusting the paintings, and vacuuming the floors.

“I…I dont understand…”

“It’s simple Mr Winthrop. Tonight my employees will take care of the cleaning, because tonight you have an engagement of your own in the ballroom.”

James followed Westin all the while muttering to himself and questioning his sanity. When they reached the ballroom, Mr. Westin pulled one of the two heavy oak doors open. In the middle of the expansive ballroom sat a little table with two chairs. In the chair farthest from the door sat Eileen. James hobbled weakly to the table.

“Eileen? Is that really you?”

“It’s me James.” Eileen smiled.

James wasn’t even aware the tears had started falling until he felt them on his cheeks.

“But Eileen, you…you’re…”

“The hotel brought me back James. It brought me back so I could say goodbye.”

James wrapped his arms around Eileen as the tears flowed freely. “How am I going to live without you Eileen?”

Eileen kissed the top of his head. “I will always be with you James. Now how about we spend our last night doing something productive.”

Without warning, the sounds of the Joe “King” Oliver Creole Jazz Band blared out from the corner of ballroom.  The ballroom was suddenly filled with men and women dressed to the nines performing all sorts of dances including the fox trot, the Charleston, and Rudolph Valentino doing the Tango. James looked around and basked in the memories of yesteryear taking place all around him.

A few hours later, Mr. Westin arrived in the ballroom. The guests, the band, and the table all disappeared as he stepped foot through the doorway. “Mr. Winthrop, I must apologize, the hour is getting late and the shadows are growing long. The time for goodbyes is upon us.”

James cupped Eileen’s face in his hands. “I love you so much. I’m so sorry things ended this way.”

“Don’t be” Eileen replied. “The years I spent with you were the best I ever had. Take care James.” She kissed him one last time before slowly fading into nothingness.

James turned around and looked at Westin. “Why? Why would you do this for me?”

“You’ve taken care of this hotel for 30 years Mr. Winthrop. You preserved her memories and healed her wounds. Tonight she did the same for you. Merry Christmas, Mr. Winthrop.”

Before he could utter a word in return, Harold Westin had disappeared taking with him the bright lights and the still cleaning hotel employees. James Winthrop looked around and smiled.

******

The next morning, two policemen were finishing the last rounds of their shift when they came upon a dark lump lying in front of the doors of the Westin Hotel.

“Is that what I think it is?” The driver asked

“I don’t know, Dave. Let’s go take a look.”

They pulled the patrol car over and walked over to the hotel.

“Aww man, that’s James Winthrop. He owns this place.” Dave said.

“Is he dead?”

“Looks like he froze to death, I’m assuming he was out here for hours. Probably locked himself out of the hotel accidentally.  Can’t imagine being stuck outside in this crap with only a hoodie and jeans.”

“God, that’s terrible. I wonder why he didn’t try to get help.”

“I don’t know, but he died with a smile on his face. I’m guessing he went peacefully, so at least there’s that.”

The officer not named Dave, sighed. “Alright, let’s call this in. Hell of a way to start Christmas.”

© CJ Williamson 2016

Mango Mussolini and The Basket of Snowflakes

When I woke up this morning, I was looking forward to getting into work and taking care of business. Well, at least that was the plan until I decided to check my email like a dumb ass. Turns out some of you weren’t exactly happy about me taking shots at the Annoying Orange a few days ago. Now, I don’t mind being called a snowflake. I am not so weak minded that a comparison to frozen water will ruin my day. That being said, when you tell me that “my kind” is responsible for the hatred taking place right now, it leaves me wondering just what the fuck you lace your Wheaties with. I’m going to assume that by “my kind” you mean liberals. This is hilarious for two reasons. 1. I am not a liberal. I am an anarchist. I never had a horse in this election. The only thing I had to lose, was more respect for the American people. 2. I covered the 2008 Presidential Election. This hatred was stoked by Sarah Palin after she was tabbed to be the VP by McCain. Now I understand that some of you have the attention span of a wildebeest, so I am going to remind you what happened in 2008.

The year was 2008, the setting was Jacksonville, Florida. Sarah Palin had recently been tabbed by John McCain to be his VP running mate. Up to this point, the election had been rough but typical. That all changed in Jacksonville. Sarah Palin got up on stage, and flat out said that their opponent Barack Obama was a muslim terrorist. What had been a respectful crowd at the start, had turned into a pack of wolves by the end.  An intern from ( i think it was) The Tennessean and I left the venue afterwards, just in time to see a group of McCain supporters throw a glass bottle at an old man across the street who had an Obama pin on his shirt.  Said Intern and I looked at each other in stunned silence. Up until that point, McCain rallies had been extremely peaceful. Sure, there was the booing and what not whenever Obama’s name was mentioned, but now, after one Sarah Palin rally, we were hearing things like “He needs to be shot for treason” and “Once a Nigger always a nigger.” With one 45 minute speech, Sarah Palin turned the campaign on it’s head. As the days went on, the crowd frenzy kept building until finally John McCain himself had to come out numerous times and tell his supporters that what they were doing was wrong. That was in 2008. It started to rise up again in 2012, but Mitt Romney cut it off before things got to the point they did in ’08. Fast forward to 2016 and Donald Trump comes along, takes that anger, douses it in fucking gasoline, and drops a match on it. So to sit here and blame liberals for this is an act of utter fucking retardation.

My company gets the majority of it’s employees from the University of Michigan student base. I asked my co-worker Greg, what campus was like post election. He informed me that he stopped going to the one class he had on center campus. When I asked why, he told me that it was because people had gone crazy. ” A friend of mine had her hijab ripped off and told to go back to where she came from. It’s funny, because she was born in Michigan.” I asked him if he had reported it to anyone. “And put a bigger target on my back? No thanks. Things are crazy enough as they are.” So, Greg reads his class book, gets notes from friends, and stays far the fuck away from center campus.

When I see incidents like this show up in the news, I see a ton of Trump supporters show up and drop stupid comments like “Aww it looks like the little snowflakes need a safe space.” Ironic considering their savior just called for theaters to be one after his VP got booed. The thing I find funny about this, is that a few months ago, Hillary Clinton came out and said “Half his support base are a basket of deplorables.” Guess who went all snowflake for the next 3 months? See, it’s not that I have a problem with people being called snowflakes, it’s that I have a problem when a bunch of assholes go all hypocritical. Trump supporters cry when they get called racist, they cry when they get called deplorables, they cry when people refer to their candidate as Cheeto Jesus, but let someone say they are afraid because they are faced with racial hostility? Suddenly, it’s “suck it up snowflake.” Trump supporters mirror their spray tanned candidate. They are bullies who don’t quite understand how fucking retarded they look to the rest of the country not too mention the world.

The thing I’ve learned about bullies, is that if you fight back, they show their true colors. You motherfuckers may have been emboldened by this campaign, but it’s going to be people like me that drive you back to whatever deplorable holes you fucking came out of. I’ve spent the last 8 years taking Obama and his supporters to the woodshed. Now it’s your turn, only this time around it’s personal. I will not normalize this, I will not marginalize this, I will not let this orange freak of a man empower the worst this country has to offer. You stood by a racist, a misogynist, and a man who treated his campaign events like it was 1933 Neuremberg, Germany. You do not get to sit back and wash that blood off your hands. You are going to own that shit for the next 4-8 years, and I’ll be around to make sure you do.

Welcome to Planet Motherfucker

Greetings, Bastards!  It is I, your dutiful scribe and all around general nuisance. One day after lamenting my lack of anger  at recent events, I have risen from the tomb of apathy. I’ve been flipping through my rolodex of douchebags and wondering which Roman ass I should kick first. Given how the last 9 days have played out, I think that first ass will belong to our new Oompa-Loompa Elect, Donald J. Trump. Anyone that has followed anything we have done as The Bastards knows full well how hard I was on Barack Obama. Well, strap in Trump supporters, because from now on, Donald J is going to be front and center. If you think I’m going to give him a break because he’s an “outsider” and “Anti-establishment”, you don’t know me very well. If anything, I’m going to hold him to ridiculous standards. Why? Because he’s an asshole. Think about this: We knew what we were getting with Obama. Just another smooth talking wiindigo (thanks Steve) asshole who would continue the worst of the Bush policies and continue bombing the Middle East because why the fuck not. Orange Julius Caesar on the other hand…this motherfucker comes out of Reality TV Land boasting that he’s the greatest and the best. Only he can solve the problems and only he knows what those solutions are. The Greatest Man the Universe has ever seen has promised to be a President for ALL Americans of ALL races/creeds/genders. He then tabs the most anti-gay politician in the country to be his Vice President, he throws Stephen Bannon, a man who the KKK has called the voice of the Alt Right, as his Chief Strategist, tabs THE HEAD OF THE REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE as his Chief of Staff, and has currently interviewed Ted Cruz, Rudy Giuliani, Nikki Haley, and Mitt Romney for cabinet positions. Really? If that is what being Anti-Establishment is all about, someone needs to do some ass kicking at Webster’s because they have the definition wrong.

All campaign long we had to listen to the human version of the Annoying Orange talk about how a Trump Presidency would mean that trying to find an establishment politician in DC would be akin to a real life game of Where’s Waldo. Remember that? The whole Drain the Swamp tag line? How’s this for Drain the Swamp…yesterday, Figurehead in Chief  Trump met with…Henry Kissinger. How much more establishment can you get?? If Nixon was Darth Vader, Kissinger was the fucking Emperor. That’s like me saying “I refuse to deal with Christians” and then having lunch with the Pope. I realize a lot of you voted for Trump because he tapped into that vein of anger that has been boiling through you for the last 8 years, but you just got played. You have been Okie doked, bamboozled, taken for a ride, I could go on for days. Need more proof? Here’s who your savior is trying to get for Secretary of Treasury: Jamie Dimon. Remember him? CEO at Wells Fargo when shit hit the fan? Now currently head of JP Morgan? You know…a FUCKING ESTABLISHMENT GUY! How long did Trump talk about the corrupt ways of Hillary Clinton? Every 30 seconds or so? She couldn’t be president because she and her foundation were corrupt and paid for by bankers. Now Trump wants to put a corrupt banker in as Treasury Secretary? Really? How the fuck did you people not see through this?

When history looks back at 2016 they will say two things. 1. 2016 was the year that White Nationalists were given a voice in the White House. 2. 2016 was the year that the American People got P.T. Barnumed by a turkey dog in a thousand dollar suit. Now, the thing that cracks me up to no end, are his staunchest supporters who see this not as a backtrack on campaign promises, but as a sign that Donald Trump is willing to work with others to make the country great again. That would be commendable…if he didn’t spend 18 goddamn months talking about draining the swamp and wiping out the establishment. Now you can sit there and say…”You know, CJ, he could be an amazing president.” Yes, he could. I doubt it, but stranger things have happened. That being said, he was elected because he promised to drive the rats out of the village. The days of corruption and Banker rule in DC would be over. Now he’s filling his cabinet with them. All election long I heard “His words don’t matter, watch his actions.” I have been watching closely, and so far he’s done nothing but backtrack and do the exact opposite of what he ran on. Which, given the shit that has bubbled to the surface because of his campaign, is worse than if he had run like a normal politician.

Welcome to Planet Motherfucker, Trump supporters. It’s going to be a long four years, but at least you won’t be alone in your bitter disappointment.

Where Are We Going From Here?

“We’re all on this road, with miles to go
Braving new pathways into the unknown
But who do you ask, when no one really knows
Where we are going from here…” -Blackmore’s Night

The last few pieces I’ve written for this particular outlet have been markedly different in tone than the rest. I’m used to sitting down after a glass of rum, turning up the metal, and wandering the expository landscape like some drunken, slightly fatter, version of Hunter S. Thompson. My points were clear but also ridiculously sarcastic with a hint of serious anger behind them. The last few weeks, I have found myself unable to muster the anger needed to navigate said landscape. For the first time since my twelve rounder with kidney cancer, my soul is weary.

For the last 18 months I’ve watched friends and family split over an election that is without a doubt, the most incendiary I have ever seen, and this comes from a guy that covered Sarah Palin’s Funhouse of Fuckery back in ’08. I have watched people I’ve known most of my life, turn into hate filled caricatures of themselves, driven by an anger that has been stoked for the last 16 years. We find ourselves now in a post election America that doesn’t make any sense. Not because a non politician “outsider” won the election, but because of the shit that has risen to the top of the pond in the process.

Over the last week, I have watched Trump supporters relentlessly mock minority members who admit being afraid of what a Trump presidency might mean for them. As the two of you who actually read my nonsense know, I am not a fan of safe spaces. At least, not the way they are used on college campuses today. That being said, when a man who has dredged up anger as well as the white nationalists wins a Presidential election, it seems fair that certain groups would have some trepidation. This would be the time for Trump supporters to say “Hey, it’ll be okay, we’re in this together.” Instead they are taking those very real fears and amping them up to a thousand.

When I came out as bi a few days ago, it was to let some of my angry Trump supporting friends/family know that I was part of the groups they were threatening. I thought maybe it might give them pause, a chance to step back and think about the anger that’s been swirling around us for so goddamn long. Instead, it made them angrier. How dare a member of their family/inner circle disgrace them like that. I got a message the other day from someone I’ve known for years telling me that he’s going to enjoy it when “your kind no longer disgraces our republic.” I don’t have the fears many in the minority community have. If someone wants to step up and swing, I will make my ancestors proud. A lot of others don’t have that mindset though. They fear going out alone because people have become much more vocal now. This election has emboldened them and they take every opportunity to show it. What does it say about a society that mocks people who have a legit fear? What does it say about a society that shrugs off a man telling muslim children that their parents are going to be killed for being terrorists? What does it say about a society that trades compassion and empathy for anger and violence?

The hatred and violence on both sides has threatened to tear this country apart, and if we don’t check ourselves, it will do just that. I don’t expect everyone to suddenly be peace, love, and happiness, but we have to find a way to be a bit more civil. We have to find a way to take this from a full boil to a simmer. Most importantly, we have to stick up for each other. If I saw a Trump supporter being threatened, I would jump in, just the way I would for anyone else. Difference of opinion is a beautiful thing in this country. Hatred and violence on the other hand, are not. Instead of asking “What side are you on” or “How could you vote for that”, the question that needs to be answered is this: Where are we going from here? Pandora’s box has been opened. What’s been done is done. The only thing that remains is trying to move forward without normalizing the hate while at the same time not denigrating each other. I don’t know how that will be achieved, maybe it’s now considered Utopian thinking and thus impossible. All I know is that my soul is tired and my heart is heavy, but I still have enough in the tank to love, and as The Beatles said in the summer of ’67…all you need is love.