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Welcome to the Hotel California

When the Uber kid, who would be our airport pick-up/ride, told me he is from a couple states north of here - a place he loves dearly because it’s big, expansive, and breathable - but is now living here, “coz I’m in the business,” I knew I was back. Hooray for Hollywood. The crowd at LAX seemed a bit thinner than last time I was here, but we were riding the crest of a lucky home-for-the-holiday break – as in l’shana tova tikateuva, y’all. I’m guessing good Jews all over the planet were doing what you do on this High Holy Day: stay home and fress like some demented farm animal.

The ride in was uneventful except the Uber kid thought he was Ken Block, and even had a special-edition Ford with a reasonable facsimile of the rally-car driver’s ‘John Hancock’ scrawled across the dashboard to prove it. He zig-zagged too much in that mean ‘405’ traffic, and got us to the editor’s digs two seconds sooner than if he had stopped the downshifting bullshit and remained in one lane. No worries. We were soon happily hanging with our homeys at Gym Sportsbar on Santa Monica; all seemed right with the world. Not quite. News off the feed was bleak. You can’t go 24 hours anymore in this godforsaken land without the Shmuck-in-Chief (S-I-C) acting out, pitching a fit, or being in a snit about something someone did or said that is virtually irrelevant to governance of this planet’s point-country, home to the Cheesecake Factory, and the National Football League franchises. That’s right, the NFL – trustee of god’s sport. And double-right, that country is the US of A.

So what was it this time that got S-I-C tweaked out? Apparently, some players have gone too far; you could say they went down swinging, from S-I-C’s perspective. You could say that, but you would be referencing baseball. And, no, it’s about football momentarily; it’s about some players renewing that old-time democratic principle of peaceful protest. These patriots – no, fellow shmucks, not the New England Patriots – have been ‘taking a knee’ during the National Anthem to protest the manner in which certain citizens of this country continue to be negatively treated by other citizens, the latter usually being fat, white, and authoritative. And these folks, gentle readers, basically ‘clothesline’ the other citizens, most of them persons of color or having somehow otherwise achieved minority status in this land. ‘Speared’, if you will, with that authority. And, now, those of authority are being penalized for the ongoing flagrancies, chronically committed by them at the expense of others. In reaction, our leader of the free, albeit getting-more-expensive-by-the-day, world has begun to chirp. He’s mad goddammit, and is not in any way going to keep those fat, curling, orange lips shut. Wonderful. So he will stand up for the oppressed? Hahaha. He is not S-I-C for no reason. No sir, he will not stand up for the oppressed. He will, however, twitter to the world how disgusted he is with protest and seek the immediate suspension or, even better, termination of anyone of these stand-up athletes who sits down. S-I-C is madder than mad; madder than hell. Well, sports fans, no one appears to give a shit about what bothers this oompa-loompa anymore. Score one for unity. In what feels like a first, it appears that nearly all players and coaches, the NFL Commissioner, and – here’s a real fucking surprise – all owners, are joining one another; they’re linking arms, taking knees, and opening up a collective mouth to basically tell S-I-C to fuck-off. Mind your own business before we take our balls and go home. Surely, he’ll receive credit for wrecking another American institution and, hopefully, further diminish the dwindling ranks of his so-called base of support. But, so what? He did his duty, and at least fulfilled the obligation he has to a multitude of one: he again acted impulsively to suit his warped sense of self.

Well, things with S-I-C these days are becoming more surreal and, so, it is no less fitting for FS to be sojourning in the Shangri-La of surreal. And, the best way to cope with surreality is to live it; to study it. As the sublime Louise Brooks once opined about Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle’s dancing, if not coke-bottle usage: “He was…wonderful in his heyday. It was like floating in the arms of a huge donut... really delightful.” Enough said.

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