Last night I got a call from a good friend I've known for over a decade. And the way you know that they are a good friend is that I actually picked up. There's only a dozen people that I will interrupt my busy pandemic lifestyle to talk with, and he is one of them.
"I'm starting to worry about you. Your texts and emails have you sounding down."
"More down than usual?"
I assured him that I'm doing just fine despite the pandemic completely changing my life, we shot the shit for a half hour, then said our goodbyes.
And I totally get why he called. COVID is happening, the world has gone to shit, and the light at the end of the tunnel is probably the headlight of a freight train. This is a friend who knows first-hand about my struggles, and it's nice to know that there are people who care enough to check in on me like this.
The centerpiece of our conversation was me explaining that there's a difference between wanting to die and being apathetic about dying. I don't want to die, I just don't care if it happens. For the time being I have cats that rely on me, there's some things left I'd like to do with my life (or try to do), and I'm not ready to check out just yet. So I'm good.
The news when I woke up this morning was Trump Plaza being imploded and demolished...
Photo from the Associated Press Newswire
This brought up memories of my first and only trip to Atlantic City back on July 17, 1999. I was working in New York City and ended up with a free day and nothing to do. Ultimately I decided that I would go to the Hard Rock Cafe Atlantic City for lunch so I could check it off my list, then head back to The City. The cheapest way to do this was via Greyhound Bus. Not the best way to travel, but I had survived far worse.
I managed to get a window seat half-way back, then sat there as the bus started filling up. Eventually a woman walked up and asked if she could sit next to me. I said "No problem" and she replied with "Thanks. You look like the person least likely to grab me or assault me." The only thing I could think to say way "Um, thanks. I guess?"
The next three hours were spent talking to my seatmate and new best friend. John F. Kennedy Jr. had died the previous day and she had to get out of The City. He had been the golden boy of NYC, was much beloved there, and things were just too depressing for her. A nine hour distraction was just what she needed. Like me, she had booked the 8am departure (arriving 11am) returning 2pm (or something like that). Along the way she had quite a lot to say. I remember almost none of it. I do remember her talking about how she had moved to a new church and signed up for choir. When she got her robe, she was dismayed to see that it was all white. "So there I am in all my Blackness standing there in the whitest robe I've ever seen..."
I didn't say much after explaining that my trip was just to visit the Hard Rock Cafe.
When we arrived we just kinda gravitated towards hanging out together for our three hours. The first thing I did was ask somebody where the "Trump Hotel" was at. "Which one do you mean? The Taj Mahal or the Plaza? I had no idea, so I just responded with "Um... whichever one has the Hard Rock Cafe in it?" Turns out it was the "Trump Taj Mahal" across from "Steel Pier" which was a 20 minute walk...
The All-Star Cafe Atlantic City was there too...
After eating lunch, we played slots in the casino for a while. I hit a $70 jackpot fairly quickly off a $10 investment, and poured her out a bunch of quarters so we could keep playing the various slot machines before walking back to the bus terminal. We had a great time. I got the Hard Rock Cafe checked off my list and she got her distraction.
And then some.
On the way back a fight broke out on the bus. Some guy leaned his seat back into some other guy and he was not happy about it. The guys were screaming. The wife of one of the guys was screaming. And the bus driver was screaming for them to knock it off or else he would stop the bus and kick them all off of it. Eventually the matter was settled by the husband and wife swapping seats or something. All my seatmate had to say about the situation was "I knew it. I just knew I wasn't going to get through six hours on a bus without something like this happening!" The rest of our trip was made in silence as we headed back to a city in mourning.
The Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino was one of Donald Trump's many banruptcies and has a rather colorful history... including it being involved in money laundering and being a hot spot for Russian mobsters. Eventually the property was shut down in 2016, then sold to Hard Rock International in 2017. Then in 2018 they reopened it as the "Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City."
As for The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino? Also bankrupted. Also a colorful history. It was originally THE place to be in Atlantic City for the rich and famous. But once the Trump Taj Mahal opened in 1990, Trump ended up poaching his own customers with the newer, bigger, flashier property. Thus the Plaza bankruptcy in 1992. In 1993 Trump somehow made his way out of bankruptcy (do I even want to know how a casino beloved by Russian mobsters managed that?) and started expanding the property... because doubling down in the face of financial ruin is apparently his thing, I guess. But money wasn't the only thing that Trump lost... he also famously lost an eminent domain case against a woman named Vera Coking. Like the asshole he is, Trump tried to get the city to condemn her property so he could buy it and turn it into a limousine parking lot. He failed.
Just as Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione had failed in the 1970's to buy her out of her home. A situation that fans of the Pixar movie, Up, might recognize...
Photo by Jack Boucher for Historic American Buildings Survey, c.1991 (via Wikipedia)
Unironically I also have a photo of the now-demolished Trump Plaza Hotel from my 1999 visit. I took a photo of Planet Hollywood Atlantic City and it was sticking out like an ugly sore thumb in the background...
Trump's rise and fall in Atlantic City is an engaging story, which you can read in this Salon article originally published by InsiderNJ just before the previous presidential election: Atlantic City has a warning for the nation: Donald Trump brings ruin and despair. Salon helpfully added the byline "Trump looted and corrupted New Jersey's gambling mecca and then got out of town. Does that sound familiar?" Why, yes. It sounds very familiar, alas.
It's weird to think of the stuff that's happened in the world during my 54 years, 10 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days on this planet. From the year I graduated, Trump had Trump Taj Mahal ('84), Trump Plaza ('84), Trump's Castle ('85), Trump's Steel Pier ('88), and Trump's World's Fair ('89) in Atlantic City... and lost them all. His consolation prize being that he was elected President of the United States of America in 2016, the same year Trump Taj Mahal (his last remaining Atlantic City property) was shut down permanently.
Oh well. In addition to my dying (among many, many other subjects) I also hold apathy towards ugly buildings being demolished.
I am kinda glad that I was able to visit Atlantic City during Trump's heydey there in 1999 though. America's prince may have just died in a tragic plane crash... but Donald J. Trump, Democrat, was thinking of running for president on a pro-choice Reform Party ticket with Oprah Winfrey as his running mate.
It was a glorious time to be alive.
As a wise man once said before the election...
"Donald Trump is a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, foreigner-bashing, non-Christian-hating, ignorant, unstable, narcissistic, intolerant, bigoted piece of shit. And electing Trump is the equivalent of hanging a giant banner outside the country advertising the fact that we're a nation of racist, homophobic, misogynistic, foreigner-bashing, non-Christian-hating, ignorant, unstable, narcissistic, intolerant, bigoted pieces of shit. And that doesn't even address the embarrassment factor of having this ridiculous buffoon representing Americans on the global stage. You think we were the laughing stock of the planet during the Bush years? Try 1400+ days of Toxic Cheeto Jesus."
— David Simmer II, Blogography: No… God, No… Please Save Us…
The old me might have said something like that (or never said anything like that... these days apparently you can deny what you said even if others have heard you say it or the statement is recorded). But my New Year's resolution was to start being less ranty and more constructive so let's work from there, shall we?
This is exactly who Donald Trump is and has always been. Even FOX "News" initially confirmed that President Trump uttered these heinous words (even though the network is backtracking on their confirmation now, of course). Senator Dick Durbin was there and has said that he heard the president say it. Senator Lindsey Graham is reported to have confirmed this was what the president said (and hasn't contradicted any reports stating so).
And so... if I'm not going to rant over what a racist piece of shit* we elected to run this country or how diplomatically stupid you have to be to lob such insults at other countries when you're representing this country... what else is there to say?
Something positive and constructive? On this?
Well... Zimbabwe may not have a Trump Tower, but it's actually a beautiful country and has some amazing people...
There's many a day lately I'd like to escape the "shithole" of Trump's America and return to Africa, that's for sure.
*Racist as in... three guesses as to what the predominant color of the people are in Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries... vs. the predominant color of the people in Norway.
I've been telling y'all that I'm a stable genius for years.
If I become president on my first try, do you think people will start believing me?
Since it's never too early for a politician to start sucking lobbyist dick for campaign money, let's get this party started, shall we?
While donations to my "campaign" are not tax deductible now, they are a promise that, if elected, I will let you become a giant corporation and not have to pay taxes.
And don't worry what that will do to our economy, I'm totes going to make Mexico pay for it.
It's to the point where I am so far beyond embarrassed for the stupid asshole playing president that I've given up even attempting to convey the new levels of contempt and loathing I've sunken to.
God bless our fellow Americans suffering in Puerto Rico right now.
There actually is something interesting happening before the eclipse tomorrow, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Defenders! How is it that Netflix can be so damn flawless when casting every single character in every single Marvel series and in writing every single character in every single Marvel series... except when it comes to Iron Fist? Danny Rand is written horribly. The actor playing him is a terrible fit for this character. I could barely make it through the Iron Fist series, and now the character made it tough to get through the newly-released Defenders series too...
Every single time Iron Fist appears in The Defenders, everything that's moving forward so beautifully grinds to a halt and turns to shit. I mean... holy crap... they got Sigourney Freakin' Weaver, who elevates absolutely everything she appears in (including The Defenders), but even she is not going to be able to save this show when such a key piece of it is shit. There was a scene between Luke Cage and Danny Rand... fucking "Heroes for Hire" that we've been dying to see... and Mike Colter is just killing it as Cage while Finn Jones can't seem to deliver a single line with any conviction or semblance of skill. It's like he's trying to channel Keanu Reeves, which wouldn't be horrible... EXCEPT HE'S CHANNELING KEANU REEVES FROM BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. GAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!
Look, I'm sure Finn Jones is a capable actor in other roles, but his take on Iron Fist sucks. The character takes a solid 5-star show and knocks it down to four. I hope they end up doing another Defenders... the idea is too good not to... but diminish, eliminate, or replace Iron Fist with something that's a better fit. Please.
• Trolls! This. Is. Fucking. Genius.
I hope it catches on.
• Fake President! Making America... uhhh... great?... again?
So... Trump actually is accomplishing more than any other president! Finally, a truth!
• Ahnold! Just as an FYI... THIS IS HOW YOU FUCKING DO IT...
.@Schwarzenegger has a blunt message for Nazis. pic.twitter.com/HAbnejahtl— ATTN: (@attn) August 17, 2017
• Punch It! Seriously. I'm sick of this bullshit. We fought a fucking WORLD WAR over this. There are not "two sides" to this position. There is no "just as bad" when it comes to this. There is no confusion as to the appropriate response. We have memorials... history books... and a shitload of movies that make it quite clear...
Nothing less than 100% unapologetic, uncompromised, unconditional condemnation of white supremacists and Nazis is ever acceptable. If you don't fucking get that, then you have no business being president. Hell, you have no business calling yourself "human."
I mean, Jesus Christ... IT'S THE FUCKING NAZIS HERE!!!
• Dropt It! In a feeble attempt at ending on a positive note, this is must-see TV...
Annnnnd... I'm spent. No more bullets for you.
It's been calculated that the cost for President Trump to go golfing in Mar-A-Lago four times is the same as the medical costs for taking care of our trans soldiers. And yet it's the money that President Trump cites as his reason for banning trans persons from service.
He also says they are a "distraction" which, given the shit-show that's his entire presidency, I find hilarious. Especially since his first tweet on banning trans service worried The Pentagon that he was starting a war with North Korea.
So much for promises...
The non-stop parade of misinformation and outright lies being lobbied at the trans community is horrible. These tax-paying citizens want nothing more than to live their lives in a way that's true to themselves and have the same rights as Americans as everybody else. And yet wealthy old white men desperate to stay in power are clutching their pearls at the thought of people they don't like being on the same playing field as everybody else. They fucking own the playing field. They fucking make the rules. They fucking referee the match. But even that's not enough. They want to determine who gets to play too.
One day... hopefully one day soon... people are going to wake up and realize that it's not "just the lesbians"... it's not "just the gays"... it's not "just the bisexuals"... it's not "just the transexuals"... it's everybody. The people ACTUALLY running this country hate everybody. They don't give a shit about you. All they care about is wealth and power. Everything else comes second. A distant, distant second. And the very minute that they feel you are no longer of use to them, you get pitched out with the rest.
It's only a matter of time.
In the meanwhile, best start speaking up for those getting shit on while you still can. It's the only way there's going to be somebody around to speak up for you when it's your turn.
Happy hump-day, everybody.
The heat may be blasting like a furnace outside, but there's hope for all humanity because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Moana Three Dee! I used an Amazon gift card I got back on my birthday to buy the Moana Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-Ray set. The animation is so gorgeous that I was interested to see how it looked when rendered out in 3-D...
Turns out that it's pretty great. For the most part. The 3-D kind of falls apart when the action gets really fast, but is otherwise an amazing visual treat. The astounding quality of computer animation now-a-days is just mind-blowing. Marry that to some of the best songs to ever come out of a Disney film and you've got magic. My favorite Disney song ever would be Jermaine Clement playing a giant crab...
And who knew that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had it in him?
Forget Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda's best work is with Opetaia Foa'i in Moana...
I prefer the 2-D version to 3-D, but the movie is so amazing that there really isn't any wrong way to watch it. If you haven't seen Moana, you need to get on that.
• Artifacts! I fucking hate Hobby Lobby. Which is to say I wasn't the least bit shocked when it was revealed that they had been caught with illegal ancient artifacts from Iraq. Undoubtedly purchased from terrorist organizations like ISIS, who are well-known to fund their terrorism by doing exactly this kind of thing. But yeah, tell me again how "Plan B" is morally reprehensible to you. Because a cluster of cells in the womb is more vital than fully-formed humans trying to survive relentless terrorist attacks? OH... THAT'S RIGHT... THE FULLY-FORMED HUMANS ARE BROWN PEOPLE HALF-A-WORLD-AWAY WHO PROBABLY HAVE ICKY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS! MAKES PERFECT SENSE! Hobby Lobby and their morally superior bullshit is utter garbage.
• Fight or Flight! More United Airlines fuckery. It doesn't matter that they "scanned the second ticket wrong"... the standby passenger is the one who should have left once the mistake had been discovered. And United's shitty solution is absurd. A voucher? That's what they offered me after I got screwed over, and I told them to shove it up their ass because I was never flying their shithole of an airline again. I don't understand why anybody does.
• Jupiter! Nine months waiting for Jupiter's Legacy Volume 2, Issue 5. Nine months. And it was about the most anti-climactic comic book ending they could have possibly given us...
Absolutely no surprises. After all the imagination that went into the nine issues prior, we get a straight-forward story that could have been created by absolutely anybody. And we had to wait NINE MONTHS for it? Nothing even remotely special. I don't know why I get my hopes up for shit anymore.
• Comma! One of my favorite West Wing episodes is titled after a Mark Twain quote: "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics." Except... Aaron Sorkin abandoned the Oxford comma and butchered it to be Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics, which changes the meaning (hey, Lies and Statistics could be the name of a book like Dungeons and Dragons or something). It drives me insane. As does most sentences where an Oxford comma would be helpful to clarify intent but instead goes unused. Every time I spot a missing Oxford comma, I can't help but assume that the writer doesn't know how the English language works. And yet... there is still debate over this crap like there should actually be a question over whether Oxford commas should be used. IT TOTALLY SHOULD! There is no penalty for using one when it's really not necessary. There can be huge penalties for not using one when you should have. Case in point? Click through to this hot mess.
• Holy Shit! I have become numb to the daily dose of horror and idiocy that comes from having President Trump in office, but his latest round of tweets has me convinced that the man running the country is one of the stupidest people on earth...
Can you imagine... can you even fathom in your wildest imagination... what the reaction would have been by Republicans if President Obama had said this? They would have completely lost their minds. Apparently it finally dawned on Clownface VonFuckstick how insane this is, because he later tweeted that he believes it "can't happen," over something he says never happened in the first place? Or did happen? Or didn't? Depending on the day. Or whatever. Ivanka is catching serious heat for being an unelected, unqualified seat-filler at the G-20 conference, but at least she can form a coherent sentence. Why not put her in charge? Because nothing could be worse than what we have now.
And that aughta do it! See you next Sunday!
And so President Cheeto Jesus has said The United States will be exiting the Paris Accord on climate change. It's all bullshit, of course. His reasonings are either outright wrong or put into a context that has them defying reality. Which leaves us three possibilities as to what's going on...
I'd start in on a rage-induced rant right now, but here's a more sensible approach from Adam Conover...
We have to reverse coarse on fucking up the planet while doing so can still make a difference. Taking giant steps backwards and giving away our leadership position when it comes to fighting for a healthier planet is about as dumb as it gets. Par for the course when it comes to our current president, but the country itself must be smarter than that.
The future of life on earth depends on it.
I'm going to prove how bigly smart I am by picking a fight with the FBI.
You know... the guys who know where all the bodies are buried. Literally.
The hypocrisy of Paul Ryan would be comical if it weren't for the lethal consequences of all his fucking bullshit.
I could go on for pages about what a massive betrayal the new "health care" plan is for the American people, but I'm just too damned tired. So here's Seth Meyers, again, to put it all into perspective...
As for the bill itself? Jesus...
The only possible up-side to all this crap is that once people understand how anybody who isn't young, healthy, and rich are completely fucked, maybe these douchebags will finally be voted out of office.