Inauguration Celebration

I’m American, from the US for 52 years, now living in Sweden.

I married a Swede. We met when we were kids, 18. Then lost. 30 years separated until, well, that’s why I’m in Sweden, where today comes news of the new US President’s inauguration.

To celebrate, I went around the corner for Thai take out. Thai people and restaurants are all over Sweden. I hadn’t been in this one before, don’t know why. It’s on my block and paired with an Asian grocery. I poked around.

An old man lies on his back in a hammock behind the counter, staring at the ceiling. The TV blares Joe Biden. An American cable channel, high volume. I stood listening, asking, will I hear any content? A single bit of information?

I quit watching/reading mass media years ago finding it unwatchable/unreadable. Sometimes I run into it. I stood and “listened”. More like, tried to absorb what the presentation was doing.

It was doing the usual: hyperventilating, a psychotic carnival of bullshit.

The horse race-ification of politics, we were taught in middle school, or 10th grade or so.

Political reporting tends to devolve to the horse race, we were told, to the exclusion of any substance.

10th grade civics

Who’s in the pack, who’s pulling ahead, who comes from behind, breathlessly reported with intensity, the excited drama of a horse race.

That was then. I wonder if it’s still in the curriculum? I doubt it. Or, apparently it doesn’t matter. I mean, it doesn’t tend to devolve to horse race reporting. It’s only that. And one other thing. I’ll come back to that.

I listened for content, for some kind of information, about anything. The full volume tsunami of insanity flooding the store. I had to remember to close my mouth.

14 Billion dollars spent on the US political campaigns in 2020 for President and Congress. More than double the previous record from 2016.

I looked again at the old man in the hammock. He seemed to have no legs. I imagine them blown off by American bombs 50 years ago, while a highlight reel of Joe Biden winning the horse race are pumped and dumped in energetic spasmodic glory:

  • A “moment” from election night, Wolf Blitzer coloring two states blue for Biden,
  • a sound bite from “the Primary“: “you counted us out but we came back, Big Time! Thanks to you!”.

I feel gravity, motionless, thinking, my boots planted on the scraped paint, concrete floor. Cans of coconut milk shelved. Bamboo stalks in plastic bags.

Then I walk next door to pick up my take-out.

I didn’t hear any content. I could have listened all day. I’d still hear nothing. There’d be panels of analysts, experts, saying absolutely fucking nothing. Pure infantilizing gibberish for adult morons. Blabbering. Literally blabbering. Occasionally they’ll step up one step from blabbering, to gloating. This is for the intellectuals.

All of that goes together, actually, a satisfying multi course meal for intellectuals. Horse race spasmodic pumping as an appetizer, blabbering infantile gibberish for the main course, and gloating for desert.

But I left out the second main ingredient, a second main dish. It’s called: demonization.

Horse race spasmodic pumping as an appetizer, blabbering infantile gibberish for the first main course, demonization as a second main course, and gloating for desert.

Who can live on such a diet? Humanity can’t. The modern liberal lives on it though, and normalizes it. It’s a deficient diet, but they’ll gladly supplement with regular injections, assorted drugs, vaccines…

And they’ll demonize you if you object, or suggest a better diet. That’s the thing. Demonization.

Watch or read mass media and that’s what you’re subjecting yourself to: a shit show of nonstop demonization. That country’s President is gassing his own people; he’s literally Hitler. That other country’s President is genociding and raping his own people.That other dictator is building WMDs. That country is a dystopian hell-hole whose leader is a megalomaniac. That other one’s a butcher. That one supports terrorism. That other one is a thug and kills journalists whose country is a gas station masquerading as a state, and although he’s Russian he’s also a PutinNazi. And he meddled in our democracy and undermined our faith in our institutions, and Trump is literally Hitler too and…

They’ve mashed all the courses of the meal together and I can’t tell the spasmodic pumping as appetizer apart from the blabbering infantile gibberish and the demonization and gloating.

I told a friend in 2015 I’d rather vomit myself to death than vote for Democrats. I voted for them in every election from 1986 through 2008 and then quit voting. Some of the reasons are here:

I don’t vote for war criminals. Period. No amount of pumping, blabbering, demonization, and gloating will motivate me otherwise.

It’s yoga night for my wife.

After our take-out at the kitchen table, we drove to yoga so I could walk our dog back, a night walk. Crossing the long park, a stranger waved at me. I looked behind. Nobody behind me.

So I stopped, under a street lamp. He pulled one earbud out of his ear so we could talk, a plastic bag with 5 cans (I counted) of Starköl (strong beer, 5% alcohol or higher) in one hand, another can already supplying the quenching suds. He said something I didn’t understand so I said,

förlåt jag pratar inte svenska, engelsk.

He asked what part of England I’m from. I said, the US, Kentucky.

Yaaah he smiled, one ear bud still in. He said:

“I’m listening to Swedish radio”. About the President.

I nodded my head.

What are you doing here?

I live here now.

WELCOME! he said smiling, eyes bigger

Thank you! I am happy to be here!

Say something in Swedish.

So I searched my memory for something to say, but also thinking, hey, this guy’s smart enough ( I mean, really smart) not to ask me something stupid like what I think about Biden or whatever. I mean, that takes enough wisdom to know, something. To know. Hmm, I won’t assume..

I started with a silly sentence and then remembered:

Jag spelar schack med döden

I play chess with death

Ha! I LOVE chess! You can send me your email. I check it twice a month, in the library.

Give me yours. I’ll send it now.

Why are you here?

ah, that’s a story.

Yah, that’s great! We’ll play chess and tell stories!

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