by John Walters
This Is U.S.*
*The judges will also accept “The Fat And The Furious”
Bloated. Disheveled. Militaristic. Corporate. Masked. Mobile phone-adicted. With a black man smiling through it all. Welcome to America, 2021. If ever a picture spoke a thousand words…
TCM aired Network (1976) last night, and if there were ever a movie that foresaw the 21st century (minus being able to foresee the internet and social media), this is it. Here’s Howard Beale’s (Peter Finch’s) final speech from the film (spoiler alert: the movie ends with Beale’s on-air assassination, with the narrator wryly informing us that he was “the first person to be knowingly killed for having low ratings.
This Gun’s For Ire
Indianapolis. Austin. Wisconsin. It was a bonanza weekend for bullets in the U.S. of A. And since March 16 we’ve had at least eight mass shootings (at least four fatally injured, by my arbitrary way of keeping score) in our little “Don’t Tread On Me” nation. Someone tweeted this last Friday and I wanted to shake them because they just don’t get it:
This is exactly what MAGA Repblicans want.
How far do you want to go back? Let’s not go back to the Civil War. Let’s go back to Charles Manson, who advocated a race war (that’s what he thought the Beatles were espousing in the White album). Or to David Koresh, who believed his right to own as many guns and live outside the bounds of laws, his liberty, superseded the social contract (Koresh and his followers lived on a commune, which technically makes him a communist, by definition, but he was white, gun-loving and a Texan, so he gets a pass). Or to Timothy McVeigh, who believed the federal government itself was an infringement on his liberty. Or to Anders Breivik, who in the summer of 2011 killed 69 mostly teens at an island camp in Norway. Breivik stated in his trial that he was an avowed white supremacist and that people like him in Europe and the West were attempting to incite a race war.
More shootings equals more fear. More fear translates to more gun ownership. More gun ownership translates to even more shootings and to even more fear.
What to do? Allow the police to become even more militaristic. Safety trumps (Trump’s) liberty and individual freedom. Fascism creeps in, slowly at first, then with the swiftness of the January 6 insurrection.
Republican leaders long ago figured out that fear-mongering (of our neighbors, particularly the non-white ones) was their only ticket to avoiding extinction. Scaring decent Americans into thinking that we are constantly under attack and then helping to turn us into the attackers.
And many of their sheeple, as illustrated by a 60 Minutes (Death to the media!) expose on some Oath Keepers in Yavapai County, Ariz., actively yearn for a “civil war.” A race war. Throw in the fact that far too many police themselves are right-wing extremists and racists and we’ve got ourselves a big problem. A big problem.
And of course these GOP elected officials are dishonest and disingenuous. Watch CNN’s Pamela Brown dismantle this Rep. James Comer (R-Tex) in no time flat yesterday.
I go back to my senior year in college. I had to take a thorough physical before being commissioned as an Air Force officer (yes, briefly). A sergeant picked me and two others up in South Bend and drove us down to Indianapolis. He told us that when he left the military he was going into “law enforcement.” There was a hard racist vibe about this man. I think, subconsciously, it turned me off to the military on the spot.
And no, that isn’t fair. I had an outstanding basketball coach for two years, Ted Lovick, back in N.J., who was career Army (and black, by the way). One of the true role models in my life. And one year in Pop Warner all of my coaches were Tempe P.D. and they were awesome. So perhaps it’s not fair for me to generalize.
But, I do feel very confident saying that those who call the shots behind the curtains of the Republican party (the Ned Beatty character types from Network), they are all in favor of these mass shootings. Let’s make America a police state. It’s the cleanest way to disassemble DEMOCRACY (for your own good, see; for your safety) and impose white authoritarianism.
A toast to long-time Notre Dame sports reporter and Notre Dame alum, Lou Somogyi, who passed yesterday at the age of 58. Lou (photographed here down the street from the Morris Civic Auditorium in downtown South Bend) passed away yesterday morning from a heart attack shortly after playing a game of tennis.
From 2006-2010 I was on the Fighting Irish football beat and lived in South Bend four of those five autumns. Lou’s was a face I saw at every game, at every press conference. I did not become as close friends with Lou as I have with some others on the beat, but what I do remember about Lou is what everyone has been tweeting about him the past 24 hours: the kindest, most sincere, most helpful soul you’d ever want to know. There’s not really a Catholic term for mensch, but that’s what Lou was.
And, as others have averred, his knowledge of Notre Dame football was encyclopedic. Many’s the time I’d inquire about a Fighting Irish football factoid (“When’s the last time…”) and I’d hear, “Go ask Lou.” And I would. And Lou always had time for my question, always endeavored to be as helpful as possible, and always did it with a smile. An angel on Earth. And now up above.
Rest in peace, Lou.
Arizona In April
You’ve got your bougainvillea taking center stage with a palo verde tree in a supporting role. Again, all within a mile of MH’s desert annex.
Over in Europe, the wealthiest and most successful clubs from the various national leagues (Premier League: England; La Liga: Spain; Juventus: Serie A; etc.) are moving to form their own Super League and leave their current leagues behind.
Wow. Shocker. The ultra-rich are endeavoring to remove themselves from the middle class. All that’s missing is a gated community with a faux tony name such as D.C. Ranch or The Boulders (editor’s note: the author currently lives in a gated community and will now go pour some more coffee from the black kettle). The Super League, in concept, is simply macroeconomics of the 21s century through a sports prism.
Not everyone is in favor. Nor should they be.
To us, and we’re not the most informed of soccer fans (though not the least, either), the Super League sounds a lot like the current Champions League, except that it is breaking away from the shackles of the current conditions under which teams must qualify for CL. Am I wrong?
Have Yourself A Day
Listen: Mikey Day is never going to become the next Bill Hader. But Hader is a Top 10 all-timer on SNL and there’s no shame in that. But for a couple years now I’ve thought that the only truly funny male SNL cast member was Kenan Thompson (and yes, Bowen Yang has potential even if he’s a little one-note…and yes, you might say the same about Kenan).
All that said as a prologue, go back and watch Day in this sketch from two weeks ago. This is his best moment on SNL to date and nothing else is close. He sells this character so well and exudes a confidence I just haven’t seen in him yet. Hopefully it will serve as a springboard for him to higher heights. He’s tremendous here.
Sure, he’s given all the best zeitgeist lines (“I mean, they’re toxic; this whole place is literally toxic”) but watch his body language. The way he puffs out his chest and stick out his butt when McKenna (Carey Mulligan) exits the bridge. Or how he screams at the alien crew member who was simply minding its business.
Note: There’s only one bad moment in this sketch. That’s when Ego Odom makes the “rich white kids” observation. Not because it isn’t true. But because that’s the point of the entire sketch. Tell us WITHOUT telling us. Which you were doing. No need to put it so bluntly.