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Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Art of the Trump in the City

My relationship with Donald Trump is complicated. The most expected complication is that I have no real relationship with Donald Trump.

Yet here we are.

When I was a kid, Trump's Art of the Deal was a thing. Art of the Deal (more formally known as The Art of the Deal, but we'll skip formalities) was a best-selling book about bullshit before there was a best-selling book about bullshit, which is called On Bullshit.

On Bullshit is a much better book because it cuts through bullshit rather than making it into an art. It also has the benefit of being 100% less bullshitty as it is written by someone other than Donald J. Trump.

This was prescient, btw.
Art of the Deal was left out on coffee tables around America and other unsuspecting countries, and was possibly translated into other languages but no one speaks about that any more. It was on bedside tables. It was in the floor next to suburban toilets. No one got rich from reading it, but it was as widely-read as Peyton Place in its day. (A lot of people at least got laid from Peyton Place.)

The only people who got rich from The Art of the Deal are those who ghostwrote it, those who published it, and those who appeared on the cover of the book. None of them, ironically, read the book.

My parents bought the book. They left it laying about like casual porn for me to find. To their credit, they also let me read my Bloom County books in peace--and Bloom County truly had a different view of Donald Trump.

Seeds planted.

Some years passed--in Trump years, some wives passed--and I moved to New York City.

From a small town in Alabama, littered with Art of the Deal books, I fled to a place littered with Trump buildings. And one of my first interviews for a job was with a man who eventually said, "Have you seen Apprentice?"

Again, informal. What the man meant was The Apprentice, but when it comes to Donald Trump, the only time 'the' is required is when saying The Donald. Or, of course, The Litigant.

The interview was in a Midtown studio pretending to be a Midtown office. There was a beautiful view of buildings looking out at buildings looking out over the Hudson. And there was a table as long as a deli window, and as unappealing--rather than meat, across the table were slabs of humans, sitting in chairs like pools of olives, like cheese awaiting a grating.

Each of them, from olive to cheese, had a greasy copy of my resume in hand, and each read it in their own way, some as a dramatic interp and some as a class assignment.  The olives pitted it. The deli cheese sliced it. 

Some weeks before, I'd spoken to my little brother. I was living in a terrible apartment in Morningside, and he'd just seen Donald Trump approach lower Manhattan in a helicopter, so he wanted to know if I, too, had seen Trump's helicopter.

"He flew in over Lady Liberty," my brother said in a voice that implied a swooshing hand gesture.

"Ah... yeah, I saw that." I hadn't--I was too far uptown and too buried in buildings to see much of anything. But it seemed important to him, so I pretended. Twelve years living in NYC, I understand: you see the city so often when you're not in the city, you sometimes just need a reference point. I was the reference point.

"Did you see him waving?"

"No. But I have terrible eyesight. I'll ask Greg if he saw the wave."


Two days later, sitting across from a phalanx of slick hair and pitted olives, I was in an interview going so badly that I was advised to take lessons from Apprentice episodes.

The position, so far as I could tell, was for a medical concern. It was my understanding that I would be tasked with forcing hospitals in Manhattan to purchase useless software, and then making sure they properly used the software to more inadequately serve their patients. As the man, sitting at the end of the deli window table like a butcher explained to me--while his collection of olives and cheeses and human meats nodded--they were a Company, and the Company required a person to go out into the world and make sure Things Got Done.

I nodded along with the deli selection.

"We need you... Marcus. May I call you Marc?"

"Up to you."

"Marc. We need you to make sure," and here the man templed his fingers over my resume, "each client agrees to use our product in a way beneficial to the Company."

"Perhaps," I replied, "I'm wholly unqualified for this."

"Let's see. Let's role-play."

Jobless, living in what I think Dickens would call penury, obligated to help my future husband make ends meet, and I said, "No."

"It's just a formality." One thing about the man at the end of the deli window table: he had a hairline almost down to his eyebrows because his constantly-furrowed brow drove it there. Looking at his collection of olives and cheeses, I knew instantly why the man kept his brow furrowed: it gave the impression of deep thought when, in reality, there was no thought more deep to him than an PowerPoint slide.

"I'm not gonna role-play."

The man un-templed his fingers and sighed. He nudged my resume a bit as if testing it for life. "You know, this." He flicked the resume. "This is a work of art." Then he looked at a young woman sitting off to the side--she'd been taking notes, and when the man looked at her, she stopped noting much of anything other than the man's gaze. "It's not your fault," the man said, and I then understood it had been she who had asked me to the interview. "This resume would fool Donald Trump."

Not making that up. The man actually said my resume would fool a man known as a fool.

Then the man turned his gaze back to me. "Have you seen Apprentice?"


"Watch it. You could learn from it."

And that is how my younger brother gave me a point of reference.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

On One Half of All Men

On behalf of all men, I would like to apologize for Donald Trump.

Not because I represent all men, and not because I am an enlightened individual open to ideas foreign to my gender, but because I am a human being, and someone should really apologize for a man who cannot apologize for himself.

Donald Trump has an undiagnosed disorder that prevents apologies. It happens. I once knew a woman incapable of saying the word 'juxtaposition' without gesturing wildly and then spitting on a knuckle--any knuckle, not just her own. I once knew a guy who could not say 'Jesse Jackson' without following it up with a racial epithet.

Speech impediments are real, and are not always limited to speech. Gestures matter.

And Donald Trump, I'm sad to say, lacks the ability to understand both basic speech and token gestures.

When I was a kid, I had a lisp. It's true. I lisped, and I followed up my lisping with limp-wristed gestures. Fortunately, there was a special class at my elementary school where I was sent, twice a week for one hour, to learn how to avoid my lisp and--by extension--lose the limp-wrists. After two years, third and fourth grades, I became a man qualified to apologize for Donald Trump and all the other men who cannot bring themselves to say the words "I am sorry" without following those three simple words up with a "but".


It is true, in my non-lisping, firm-wristed post-fourth-grade life, I have said a lot of things about what I'd like to do to various men, and I've said those things well beyond a locker-room setting. I've said, for instance, and in a movie theater, that I would like to fuck Cillian Murphy.

I've said I would like to give head to the guy downstairs who is a dancer and yet who smokes like a chimney and probably shouldn't be both a dancer and a smoker--seriously, eventually one must pick one or the other, or else you'll Fosse yourself into a coma--and I said that in my own home. To my husband!

I have said, perhaps more than once and in many places non-adjacent to locker-rooms, that I would like to get butt-fucked by the entire cast of Hamilton and would provide the strap-ons to the Schuyler sisters if needed and accepted.

When I was getting rid of my lisp and limp wrists two hours a week for two years, I learned the difference between 'I would like to...' and 'I just do.' For Donald Trump, and those who suffer from his debilitating speech impediment, it is a challenge to separate the gesture from the action.

It is a shame Donald Trump never had the chance to go through Apology Conversion Therapy--if he had, he may have learned how to be a human being and apologize. As with my speech therapy, Apology Conversion Therapy teaches one how to pretend to be someone you are not. It teaches you to avoid your natural self, to pass, to get along. ACT reminds one that the gesture is more important than the words.

Yet here we are. Donald Trump, a presidential candidate of a major party in the United States' political bicameral system (let us stop pretending tricameral is a thing this election), cannot even ACT his way into a genuine apology, and that is a sad thing. He cannot apologize for something he said 10 years ago, as a 60 year old man, instead assuring us that--as a 70 year old man--he's changed his ways. If only Donald Trump had gone through a similar two hour class in elementary school as I, perhaps he would understand, Dude, you don't need to actually change; you just need to fake it til you make it.

In my case, I learned to fake it til I got cock. In Trump's case, he just needed to fake it til November 8th.

So. On behalf of all men, I apologize for Donald Trump--and not because, as I said, I am a man. But because humanity itself has failed to give Donald Trump the tools needed to say 'I am sorry' and shut the fuck up. Instead, Trump suffers from a common ailment: Inability to Apologize.

If only we could've ACT'd sooner.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Dead II

Waf is fast asleep.

His head slips ever-so-slightly from his house-within-an-apartment, a tiny cloth and foam home sitting on the floor just before me as I sit on our kitchen floor. He's dreaming.

Not in house
What, I sometimes ask myself, does Waf dream? In his tiny little home, inside of a larger home, surrounded as he is by cushions and squeak toys. Surrounded, as he is, by a larger world of which he has no knowledge, except on occasions where he ventures out into it, strapped to a human, harnessed in a vest, taking one step after one quick step, indulged in sniffs and squats, until returned again to the bigger house that encloses the smaller house and the cushions and the toys.

What does Waf dream?

His legs shake the cushioned house. He emits a tight, vague 'Marf." Then a stuccato follow-up as the tiny cushioned house shakes.

Perhaps he is remembering his previous owner. A young woman, sad. A young woman with kindness in her eyes and a story of icy silence when asked, Why are you giving us this dog? Perhaps he is remembering his youth as Tobey, his first name before his final name. Tobey. I say it, and he still stirs in his sleep.

You're talking about me. Goddammt.
Waf is asleep. Greg, my husband, is asleep. We are all in a spacious room on a giant planet in an expansive, if not depleting, universe, but Waf is in his house inside the limitless space of everything.

Outside that house, there are complications and squirrels and chemical reactions. And there's Tobey, Waffles' first name, inspired by I do not understand because who the hell names a dog Tobey?

And there's Greg and myself, who have a dog named Waffles. In a world more large and terrifying than Waf can dream. And the dreams fall faintly on Waf, and fall, like descent of their last end, upon all the Tobeys and the Wafs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

So You Made the Top of Gawkerati. What Next?

On's final day, I was surprised to be name-checked twice in one of the last posts: my handle, GregSamsa, was listed amongst the top commenters of the site, and one of my comments was noted as being one of the top ten comments of its 13 year history.

My last hurrah. See me there, just under the wonderful GREGORYABUTLER10031? GregSamsa. I beat!
None of these accomplishments are, in fact, accomplishments. They are hollow victories. They are 'ThatChampionship Season' which was a play written by the young priest from The Exorcist. They are pats on the head. They are the result of distraction winning out over ambition.

And that's as one Gawker writer would say, 'Okay.'

There's a lot of virtual ink-spillage over the end of (which is to say there is not much being written about Gawker Media, the site's parent company, being absorbed by Univision; is dead; its sister,, and others—live on. But the hub site, the main site, the namesake site of Gawker Media, is now over for a variety of reasons I—twist--won't comment upon. is dead.

What I will comment upon is, first: it's okay to end a sentence with a preposition. Language is what we do, not what others rule we should do. In this piece I will actively try to split infinitives and dangle participles, and will most definitely attempt to end sentences in either prepositions or in the actual word 'preposition'. Which, oddly, is not a preposition.

Secondly: I will explain how I became a name-checked commenter of Gawker. This explanation will seem boring because it is, and it will seem awkward because it is. Life is boring and awkward. Life isn't what happens when you're making other plans, as John Lennon once said; life is what happens when you have no plans and still expect to wake up the next morning. Life is habit, and I habitually commented on Gawker.

I was born in the salt-mines one dreary day in Nixon's America.

No, that's not true. Preposition.

Supposition: it is true I was born in Nixon's America. It is also true I grew up with a reverence for journalism preposition preposition. I liked honest people, and never trusted anyone mostly because I knew I could lie quite well, and didn't like being a liar. Lying is a talent only an honest person has. If you, too, are a liar, you know full well how much honesty you need to pull off a lie, and you know when to use your lying superpower, when to lie after speaking the truth. Preposition.

Being a skilled liar does not, oddly, make one an actual liar. It makes one a dealer in truths, and one can store up truth like a camel stores up water. It's true! Lying is not something one should do often, but in a selective and artful way... the way one learns how to use language, and knows when it is okay to end a sentence in a preposition. Lying is the absence of skill, you see. A straight-up liar will be so obvious everyone assumes a tall tale is coming. Nothing is to be trusted.

As a child of Nixon, I know better. You take Emily Dickson to heart and tell the truth, but when you want to lie, tell it slant.

I understood Gawker (Dot Com!).

I was a kid who grew up with certain lies, and knew those lies had truths within them. I loved comedians who hit on political themes—Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Paul Mooney Elaine Boosler, Paula Poundstone—and understood they were lying while telling a truth.

Which is what did. Once upon a time.

So my comments—and they were a small contribution—where an attempt to bring liar's poker to a lion's den. And to remind everyone that language is not a shameful thing: If you need to communicate, do it. And do it in a grand way. If someone corrects your grammar, remind them that the President of the United States once inspired this column.

Gawker. [clutch to breast] I will miss you. When I moved to NYC, you were one of the only places to get my wit, my honesty, and my obsession. So many stories made sense, and so many stories kept me up at night. Preposition.

It is easy to lie and say you deserved your end. But there's a truth we all know: You did good work.

I'm honored to be included in the top commenter bullshit, even though there were many more worthy. And I'm glad to know one of my comments was in the final 10 of all comments here. But I know it was a lie. That kid never had a visionquest. She was just being true to herself.

Friday, August 12, 2016

How to Vote Your Conscience

NATHAN J. ROBINSON:  Well see, this is the thing, is I think this has a very strange and sort of romantic conception of what voting is, where voting is the way that we express our innermost identities and we declare who we are and what we stand for. I don’t think of voting that way. I think of voting as something that you do five minutes one day of the year and that most political action and most expression of your moral convictions should occur elsewhere, in other realms. Voting is just about the consequences.  --On the Media

Vote your conscience” is a phrase used off and on for those ambivalent about voting for Donald Trump, and it's a versatile phrase, used with both bravery and desperation. At the Republican National Convention, defeated contender Senator Ted Cruz delivered a prime-time speech in which he failed to endorse Trump, instead inviting the delegates in attendance—and, of course, the viewers at home—to vote their conscience.

#NeverTrump started the push for conscience-voting just a week or so before Cruz took the stage, and not long after Cruz's speech, #NeverTrump dropped into the distant zeitgeist, a present but hardly dominant force to make sure Trump would never sit in the Oval Office.

There are those on the Right still hopeful that someone will wake them from the Nostradamus fever dream that is November 8th.

“Vote your conscience.”

Fun fact about the word 'conscience': the way I learned how to spell the word was to spell 'con' and then 'science.'

Voting one's conscience is a standard call every election cycle. And it is a con of science, really, if you think voting is about conscience. If one votes their conscience, they're giving up fundamental ideas about collective wholes. They are ignoring certain obvious truths in deference to Randian absolutes. To vote one's conscience is to vote one's desires, and the voting booth is no place for wish fulfillment. It is a place where one looks practicality in the face, and makes the best choice.

And there's a fun thing about this election: if Republicans reluctant to vote for Trump are encouraging a vote of confidence this year , #NeverTrump2016!, then Democrats are certainly arguing about the #PracticalVote.

Hillary Clinton is not a popular choice on the Left. She's a practical choice, certainly, but not a conscience-affirming vote. She comes with baggage both real and imagined. And she came out of a primary where a socialist came close to beating her. Eugene V. Debs would be proud of Bernie Sanders.

No mind about that. What matters is that on the right you have Voting Conscience, and on the left you have Practicality.

You have Trump or #NeverTrump, and you have Clinton or... Trump.

If you like Trump, you support overturning Obergefell v. Hodges. Which is definitely a vote of conning science.

If you like Trump, you're ignorant of actual science.

If you like, support, or in any way think Trump is right, you are ignoring economists, sociologists, geologists, and other -ists. So by all means, con science.

There are so many practical reasons—hashtag Practical—not to vote for Trump, I am amazed people still consider him a viable candidate.

True story: Six or so years ago, my husband Greg lamented his vote. “President Obama is not doing anything,” he said. “I voted for him and he hasn't done anything.”

“Did you read the article about how Mitch McConnell held a meeting the night of the inauguration?”

“Yes, but so what? Obama should fight.”

“This isn't politics anymore. This is a long game.”

Clinton has learned from the best, is what I'm saying. Over eight years, despite rabid obstruction, President Obama has gotten a good bit of his agenda done. And he even beat the Clintons in 2008. And he did it without conning science. He did it by being practical.

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