The principal virtue of democracy is that it makes a good show—one incomparably bizarre, amazing, shocking, and obscene… it has become simply a battle of charlatans for the votes of idiots.
He may have been on to something. He’s been gone now for 61 years. How might have he reacted to democracy’s progress during that span of time? How could anyone convince him that this country hasn’t gone bonkers? Could he have been able to imagine the incalculable vastness of the abyss into which we’ve plunged? The depravity of one particular presidential nominee who has millions of zombies believing he actually gives a crap about anything besides his own ego? The deluded masses who want to put into office a man whose charisma is somehow able to disguise (to idiots, at least) his transparent sociopathy? That this is actually happening in America—the once-proudest country on earth?
This is the future, and Time is in danger.
The debates are near, finally. I’ve been looking forward to them for a long time, but lately they have me worried: debating a true sociopath can be dangerous. Every word that comes out of that puckered little cesspool on his face will be a lie, designed to “educate” the masses and enrage, inflame, and embarrass his opponent. There is only so much abuse that any sensitive soul is likely to be able to take, and the abuse this deluded tyrant has been storing up to unload may be astounding. Vicious, merciless, unrelenting, it may be too much for any normal human being to bear without dissolving into tears—and that concerns me—but for the zombies and the sadists who witness it, it’ll be the sexiest show in town. It could be a Wednesday and he’ll call it a Tuesday and people will believe him. There hasn’t been a mesmerizing freak of this caliber since Adolf Hitler, and this one’s living right here and it’s incredible how many among us haven’t grasped the danger simply through the lessons of World War II. And while the maniac Hitler actually knew something of global politics, our man only knows that he needs to rule the world and that he’s better than anyone who may know everything about anything.
I believe that I have come up with an absolutely foolproof television campaign ad for our presidential and vice presidential candidates. The first party to utilize this ad—or if they both use it, the party that broadcasts it the most—will win the election in November or my name isn’t Jose Sina—I mean or I will call myself an imbecile in love with Donald Trump in the December issue.
The audio portion of the television ad does not concern me much, something about a “team whose time has come” and similar fatuous pronouncements. The most important aspect of the ad is the visual element, which is comprised of one camera setup only, one shot that lasts the duration of the ad (words and graphics can be superimposed at the end.)
The shot in question has the Capitol building or even maybe the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Monument in the background. But in the foreground are the presidential and vice presidential nominees, standing side by side, both facing the viewer while they walk toward the camera in slow motion.
(This is the second of two cinematic shots America just cannot get enough of. The first is an explosion happening in the background, while in the foreground a character runs toward the camera in slow motion. All action movies have to have this shot.) My political ad shot of characters walking toward you in slo-mo is one that Quentin Terrantino uses a lot (and like all his ideas, was stolen from somebody else—in this case Stanley Kubrick) and that is nearly de rigueur for promos for television shows and many product advertisements. It’s bored itself into our brains and we’ve been mysteriously and subliminally programmed to respond positively to it at every encounter.)
I hope I live to see a Trump/Pence ad like I’ve suggested. Not that I want them to win, really, but I know that the image of Trump, looking all stern with his mouth screwed into that little baby pout that he thinks is so sexy, and Pence, braless and bouncing, would sear itself into my brain and allow me to double over, clutching my sides with laughter, as the bombs are dropped in five or six months’ time.
Now a momentary diversion into the sublime. My little brother Gee presented me with a wonderful book that was published last year but of which I had been completely unaware. Titled Tom Jones Over the Top and Back: The Autobiography (yes, that’s a mouthful) it’s 410 pages plus index plus lotsa photos and it is brilliant. It’s the sixth hardcover about the world’s greatest singer now in my library and to call it the best seems inadequate. This is the Man himself (the “king of kings” as the late Steve Esmedina so raptly called him) speaking to the reader in a casual, conversational tone and his sincerity and candor and humor are enthralling. “Couldn’t put it down” is but one of the numerous ecstatic cliches I must struggle to avoid here, but all of them are true. I listen to his early albums now with a lot more knowledge of their various components, which immeasurably enhances the experience. One of them in particular had always been my favorite after having found the import CD at Tower Records so many years ago—it had two essential tracks not included on the LP released in the states—and in the book, Sir Tom himself declares it the best recording he ever made. Which album? Read the book… or just ask me. So obviously, the guy’s got taste. Elsewhere he helped me understand why I always disliked his later country albums so much (he did too) and cracked me up and disturbed me with some of his Englebert Humperdinck stories. Ditto the Gilbert O’Sullivan stuff (remember him?) There’s a curious editorial mistake in the identification of the photograph on page 152—it’s actually the very rare first cover to Jones’ first LP released in the United States, before it was changed to the iconic red-shirt photo ( I actually found a copy of the early variant in the 99-cent bins at Blue Meanie Records in El Cajon over thirty years ago). And I got a personal jolt when I encounted the name Troy Dante on page 333! ( Did you actually sneak away for that funeral in 1986, Troy?) All these decades and the rollercoaster of fame are vibrantly examined in the book’s thoroughly involving narrative, and what is constantly throbbing like the story’s very heartbeat is Tom Jones’ intense love of his family—especially his wife of nearly 60 years, who I’m told died shortly after this book’s publication. Bless them all.