It circulated on social media late last year toward the end of Trump's campaign. I wrote about how disturbing it was at the time -- disturbing for its vulgarity, disturbing for its public invitation to apparently consensual rape, disturbing for the Zeitgeist of near-normalized, something-to-be-seen-as-humorous sexual assault that it represented.
It popped up in my Facebook memories this weekend ... just as we as a country are being newly assaulted by avalanches of revelations about institutionalized, systemic, male-privilege sexual assault wrought by Harvey Weinstein and his ilk. The coincidence that this Facebook memory appeared now is odd in itself for its almost-year-to-the-date timing, but it's also horrifyingly disturbing for the fact that Trump's 2016 pussy-grabbing braggadocio has been buried -- albeit under an entire year of his almost daily acts of catastrophic, psychopathic incompetence -- to the point that we as a society have almost forgotten about it ... or at least become numbly inured to it.
Many of the facts of what I wrote a year ago have changed -- I am now among the legions of people who have all but permanently ended relationships with Trump-defending friends and Trump-apologist conservative newsfeeds, and I cringed as I saw that in this post I'd tempered my outrage over this picture and what it represented by mentioning cat videos and me looking at pictures of men in speedos -- but my underlying incredulity, repulse and outrage have only grown in the last year.
Here is what I wrote, without being edited to reframe the snapshot of my mindframe and emotion a year ago. Re-reading it has both shown me how I've evolved in my white-male-privilege-I'm-never-going-to-do-it-and-it's-never-going-to-happen-to-me subconscious attitudes on the issue in the last 12 months and alerted me to the fact that I'm still not done purging those subconscious attitudes:
I subscribe to both liberal and conservative newsfeeds on Facebook and I have thoughtful, principled friends and acquaintances on here from multiple locations across the political continuum. As such, when I scroll through my personal Facebook feed, I see about 3% share-if-you-love-your-sister memes, 4% I-bet-you're-not-smart-enough-to-pass-this-egregiously-stupid-quiz clickholes, 9% adorable cat videos, 17% pictures of hot guys in speedos, and 943% political memes, forwards, rants and breathlessly dire warnings about the future of our very galaxy if X or Y becomes president. Aside from the occasional legitimate news article or mini essay from a thoughtful friend, most of what's on my feed is just noise between adorable cat videos. But it's still noise I pay attention to.
It's no secret that I have a visceral loathing for everything related to Donald Trump, from his willful ignorance to his inability to form a coherent sentence to his national isolationism to the sense of legitimacy he gives to racists, misogynists, homophobes and proud low-information voters. I realize there are deplorables on both sides of the aisle -- along with gotcha pictures and footage documenting their collective stupidity -- and I'm inured enough that I'm able to ignore the extremes in an attempt to form what I admit is a highly biased but still open-eared personal knowledge base as a citizen and voter.
This picture of a Trump supporter in her hand-lettered shirt has appeared from multiple sources in my feed. At first I just scrolled past it like it was so much extremist noise. But it kept appearing, as more and more sexual-assault accusations piled up against Trump. It kept appearing as Trump dismissed some of his accusers as not hot enough for his tastes. It kept appearing as the idea of consent was thoroughly parsed by everyone from Morning Joe to Rush Limbaugh.
And this picture ... this gleeful woman giving pretty explicit consent for Donald Trump to sexually assault her ... this overweight woman presumably knowing full well that her body is nowhere near Donald Trump's beauty-pageant-level standards of attractiveness ... this judgment-impaired woman who not only found nothing wrong with wearing her message of consent with an arrow pointing to her vagina in public but who happily let herself be photographed in it by someone who obviously let it go viral on the Internet ... this picture thoroughly sickened me.
This woman willingly lowered herself to Donald Trump's lowest form of low. She let herself be mocked and vilified and humiliated on the world stage. And for what? Did she change anyone's vote? Did she elevate the national dialogue? Did she impress her family and friends? Did she advance her cause?
If taking a tap class with three total students and an adorable wandering-in-and-out dog named Cody where I'm the only person (or dog) wearing tap shoes so my taps are the only ones anyone can hear so I HAVE TO FOCUS ON BEING VERY VERY ACCURATE were on my bucket list, guess what I just checked off that list!
I love every aspect of Giving Tree Theater except for the fact that the words on its marquee sign show up only in highly specific, improbably rare 100-year-stars-aligned atmospheric conditions, SO WHY BOTHER?
Fortunately, those stars are aligned -- albeit behind all these sun-filtering clouds, which I'm sure have no influence on the photovisibility of the words on the marquee sign so I won't even bring it up -- right now, so I was able to get a marquee selfie with my bucket of Diet Coke SINCE OUR CAST PARTY LAST NIGHT WENT TO 2:00 AM so we're going to have an awesome, woke matinee. Just as soon as you get here. Because it's really crappy out. So you might as well come to the theater.
I take the pencil off after I've choked down my fistful of pills every morning and every night so if she's not there she'll know I've taken them. Then she puts the pencil back to remind me to take my next fistful 12 hours later. So I get a dose of love with my pills twice a day.
It took the entirety of the new Pippin cast album -- plus about 10 extra just-because loops through "Morning Glow" -- to arrange, adjust, measure, measure again just to be sure, climb, pound and hang all of this on a relentlessly tall section of my bedroom wall four years ago. Now I will always and forever be reminded of what was the almost literal and immediate possibility of falling off a five-foot stool while holding a 50-pound antique mirror every time I hear "Think about your life, Pippin ..."
Dotard simpleton with three marriages and 15 women accusing him of sexual assault gives speech on "values" to tax-exempt voting bloc that selectively fabricates its "values" system from the unread bibles it wields as weapons in a persecution-complex war of its own making.
Ah, the good old days, when the nephew was just a jumble of gangly
limbs, a bald round head and a preternaturally hearty belly laugh
whenever I made a poop joke. Here we are maybe 12 years ago at Old
MacDonald's farm in Cedar Rapids' scenic Bever Park, where the words
"donkey butt" were valuable social currency with a 1:1 exchange rate for
the aforementioned belly laughs. Now the nephew towers over me, drives a
car, and is by all accounts loving his
new life and his new chapters and his new adventures in college. But he still has time for a laugh or two with
Uncle Jake. And that's all any uncle can ask for, really.
WARNING: If you're too delicate to handle the language I choose to express my white-hot fury at our puerile dotard and the ways he's destroying our country, I don't want to hear about it.
Trump's incessant, braying tweets and Pence's gratuitously manufactured stunt claiming patriotic indignation over American citizens kneeling during the National Anthem are a collective bullshit argument that serves three purposes:
To redirect the narrative from peaceful protests against America's systemic racism to a "disrespectful" war against the flag, veterans and the soul of America itself -- all of which tacitly propagates the same racism by deliberately ignoring the simple-to-understand purpose of these Constitutionally protected protests
To serve as a desperate distraction from the sometimes hourly revelations about Dotard's corrupt, psychopathic, imploding clusterfuck administration and what it's already done to our standing around the world
To inflame the passions of what's left of Dotard's pants-wetting dipshit voter base that's too proudly racist and too defiantly uneducated to do anything but cheer that their racist hatred and toxic ignorance are somehow finally being rewarded and construed as patriotism ... patriotism that they're too too blindly stupid to see is cloaked in a torn, burned, shit-stained American flag
We've been playing this game where she hides behind the banister when I try to take her picture and then she leans out just far enough to show me her scowl of displeasure when she can tell I've stopped pointing my phone in her direction. But I totally just faked her out long enough to capture her Glare of Painful Bloody Death before she could suppress it for the paparazzi. And now I'm afraid to go upstairs.
Also: It's about musicals!
Also: The underpants fairy came!
Also: I arranged my new underpants in rainbow order!
Also: Because it made a brilliantly colorful background for taking a picture of my new book!
Also: Which is about musicals!
Also: None of this means I'm gay, bro.
Also: Unless you have a cute single brother.
Also: And he has to like musicals!
Also: And rainbows!
Also: And underpants!
Apparently I live-blogged stuff like the below paragraph as I watched it because there are tons of similar angry, dumbfounded posts in my Facebook memories today, and apparently the debate was -- in the pussy-grabber's own ad-nauseam repeated attempts at talking -- a "disaster."
Once again, Hillary is talking in thoughtfully nuanced paragraphs to answer the question about what she would do about the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Trump just calls her a "disaster" and has to be re-asked the question TWICE plus have the subject patiently explained to him by Martha Raddatz and he not only can't answer the question but he says he's never even talked about it with his running mate. HOLY SHIT. If only Dotard McCovfefe had given us some sort of sign a year ago that he was a catastrophically incompetent psychopath, maybe we'd have a president today who can locate Puerto Rico on a map.
... which historians are not opposed to believing actually could have been started by a cow kicking over a lantern in Mrs. O'Leary's barn -- though, to be fair, there are many other credible, though less historically charming, theories as to how the fire started. During the 15 years I lived in Chicago, I saw it as my civic duty to read and learn as much as I could about my city and its history. I was excited to start reading this book when I found it, but it turned out to be more of a lengthy essay on the cultural and sociopolitical Zeitgeist that framed the fire than on the timeline and geography of the unfolding inferno and the human-level experience of surviving it, which I would have found far more meaningful.
In any case, upwards of 300 people died and thousands were left homeless and impoverished 146 years ago today and tomorrow. I mark this day on my calendar every year so I'm reminded to think about who they might have been and the horrors they most certainly endured. And I encourage you to a moment today in their memory to celebrate what you have while you still have it.
Here's my review from 2012:
I was hoping that Smoldering City: Chicagoans and the Great Fire, 1871–1874 would be a breathless page-turner about the human dramas of conflagrant destruction, abject suffering and triumph over adversity peppered with tantalizing details about old Chicago buildings and neighborhoods that I recognize. Instead it’s a hyperwonkish examination of class inequality, political grandstanding, religious imperialism (particularly the emergence of “scientific” relief that favored distributing blankets and food and financial aid to the religious and the “worthy” newly homeless rich over assisting the chronically poor and the working class who were technically able to support themselves though there was little to no work available in the months after the fire) and the simmering intolerance toward (particularly German) immigrants in the fire’s aftermath. It does draw some timely parallels to America’s current obsession with “big” government in its discussions of Chicago’s post-fire laws against rebuilding with wood (which made rebuilding almost financially impossible for low- and middle-class fire victims) and its curiously detailed recounting of virulently sabbatical opposition to German-immigrant beer gardens serving alcohol on Sundays, which temporarily drove the mostly single-issue People’s Party into power over the status-quo Law and Order party of native-born religious privilege. The book does frequently refer to one concept that will amuse modern Chicago residents, though: the idea that fire victims “fled the city” northward to the neighboring community of Lake View.
The first ebbing, flowing, stalwart strains of the opening movement of Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 are all you need to underscore a perfect fall day. And the final rolling crashes of brass are all you need to sustain you through winter. Sibelius is the master of redefining the emotions and lush tonal visuals of Romanticism for the 20th century. Bliss.
The show sold out, our
audience laughed and cheered and then laughed even more, I got my part
in my hair combed perfectly straight, one of my secret straight crushes
was in the audience and said hi to me afterward and I was able to not
melt, and taking my lying-down selfie last night eliminated so many
lines and wrinkles in my face that I did it again tonight just in case
any secret straight crushes missed it last night and there was a
chance I could yet convert them with my appearance of dewy youth
tonight. Just let me know, fellas! My unhealthy obsession with you isn't
going to ask itself on a date, and despite my lying-down millennial
supermodel appearance, I'm not getting any younger.
I'm off to bed after another awesome day. By the time I wake up, the
Chicago Marathon will be well underway or even over for many friends who
are running it. Best of luck to all of you, and know that you're being
cheered for from Iowa both during your highs and when you're pushing
through your walls. I can't wait to hear your stories and see your
1. Giving Tree Theater has the mega-coolest bathrooms in the history of all bathrooms in all theaters on all planets past, present and future.
3. I go there to comb industrial-size drums of gel in my hair before each show.
4. Because I'm a Mad Man!
5. I freaking ROCKED my 'do tonight. 6. Buzz-wham! 7. Which is good because a LOT of people are going to see my hair tonight. 8. Because we're SOLD OUT, Britiches! 9. And it's only the second performance of our run. 10. BOOYAH!
1. Do your crying up front. You'll be emotional at the starting line as it is, so let your tears flow then. Trust me: You won't have any moisture left in your body at the finish line anyway. 2. Speaking of moisture, PEE BEFORE THE RACE. Then get back in the porta-potty line and pee again.
3. There are very few people in the world who get to be cheered and
screamed at by millions of fans for plus-or-minus four hours. You're one
of them. Drink it in. 4. That said, don't let all that screaming
distract you from the race. It's fun to smile and wave at everyone, but
doing so burns precious energy. Find the balance between being a rock
star and being a disciplined runner. 5. THAT said, all bets are off
in Boystown. The second you turn left from Addison onto Broadway, you
will be overcome by megatron levels of cheering and screaming and drag
queens and music and pure unbridled joy. It is the BEST mile of the
race, so smile and wave and cheer and pump your arms and maybe even cry a
little. You won't be able to stop yourself anyway, so dive in and enjoy
it. 6. There's no shame in walking if you need to. Your legs will
start to stiffen up if you walk too long, though, which will make it
harder to resume your running. But you probably already know that by
now. :-) 7. That said, suck it up, put on your badass runner face and start
running like a world-class athlete whenever you see the marathon
photographers. (See photo.) You'll thank me when it comes time to
buy your commemorative marathon photos.
8. I'm not gonna lie: Your
last few miles running north up Michigan Avenue will suck like you won't
believe. The cheering crowds will thin, your feet will hurt all the way
up to your neck and you will swear that someone has put the Willis
Tower -- your one shining beacon leading you to the finish line -- on
wheels and is slowly pushing it farther and farther north just to mess
with your mind. Rest assured that's not the case; there seriously isn't
time to get all those wheels installed. 9. The route is pretty
uniformly, blessedly flat. For the first 26 miles. In a twist that can
only be described as cruel and unusual, the route becomes a steep hill
once you pass the 26-mile marker and turn right on Roosevelt. To
mitigate the situation, though, there will be another massive crowd
there to cheer you on. Drink in as much as your body will let you.
10. Check out your skin after you cross the finish line. You will be
covered in homemade salt. You're a margarita! So cheers to you for
finishing. You've earned it.
Here are my entire two-bedroom apartment and most of the memories of my life in Chicago. I've been paying rent to store it all in this safe, clean, dry place -- which literally has a white picket fence and a pond with a fountain -- for almost three years, and I doubt I'll ever need most of it again. I'm stupidly not quite ready to let it go -- mostly because I've yet to use all the Shady Pines jokes I've stored up -- but I'm sure there will be a day soon when I'll want it all to go to good homes. And I do visit it occasionally.
Today's challenge: Find all my Halloween decorations, sort through them at home to keep anything I may still like, and give the rest to Goodwill now while they have value to the Goodwill shoppers. Wish me luck!
The CD player in my car has eaten my Dear Even Hansen CD. No matter what button I push, so matter how sincerely I push it, the CD player insists it doesn't have a CD in it to spit out to me. But there's clearly a CD in the way when I try to slide another (show tune, natch) CD into the slot. I've reached the age where everything except NPR is just hideous, ear-exploding noise to me. So I'm driving everywhere in silence most of the day. With no show tunes to be found.
Bragging rights: I'm incredibly proud that I've run seven marathons, and while I've stopped just blurting it out in song to strangers on the street, I still get a kick out of telling people about it whenever running comes up in a conversation.
If you've met me in person, though, you know I'm not built like a runner. I'm tall and weighty (and unfortunately getting weightier as I age), which absolutely excludes me from ever being (or even enjoying being) a sprinter. But twelve years ago, after discovering the joys of running for fun and fitness on Chicago's 17-mile trail along Lake Michigan, I noticed that longer distances were getting easier and easier to run ... so I took a deep breath of trepidation and registered to run the Chicago Marathon. The experience was supposed to be a bucket-list one-and-done, but I was so moved to tears by what I'd worked to accomplish just to cross the starting line that I vowed I'd keep doing it until I got too bored or too injured.
Well, duh. Injured. You can't spell marathon without injured. And though I'd survived my first marathon from my first official training run all the way through to the finish line -- which I did pretty much cluelessly all by myself with no official training program and no running buddies -- without a single injury, I started falling apart regularly every year after that. Especially in my feet. Oh, and in my ankles. Oh, and in my knees too. But -- unlike every endurance runner past, present and future -- I thankfully never had to endure the misery of chafed, bleeding nipples.
I just said nipples.
Anyway, Facebook just reminded me of a particularly troubling injury I had eight years ago -- mere days before I was due to run my fifth Chicago Marathon -- where the top of my right foot suddenly grew a painfully tender ostrich egg. I got an emergency appointment with one of Chicago's leading running doctors -- named-for-the-wrong-body-part Dr. Chin -- and learned that I had stress fractures in all my metatarsals; my body had built up a gelatinous goo of cartilage to protect it; and the muscles, tendons and fatty myelin sheathing around the nerves in my foot had started to swell in reaction to everything as though I'd had a sprain. And there was no way it was going away before the race.
But! Apparently it was a not-uncommon injury, and Dr. Chin showed me how to take care of Mr. Foot by icing it day and night, popping ibuprofen like Rush Limbaugh at a rave, saying words like analgesic and ouch, and lacing my right running shoe across my toes, up the sides and then across the top to minimize pressure on my precious baby ostrich while still maintaining a locked-in fit that would keep my foot from slipping and flopping as I ran.
And it worked! I was miserable for the entire four-plus (but still not five, because five is just embarrassing in the cool running circles) hours I ran, but I finished, I got my medal, I did my traditional walking-backward-down-the-steps-because-I-didn't-trust-my-knees-to-bend-forward-without-an-ugly-topple to find a cab on Michigan Avenue, and I went home to whimper. And stink. And shower. And keep whimpering. And then eat four pints of Ben & Jerry's in alphabetical order according to flavor name. Seriously. Because that's how I rolled after I ran each marathon. Or limped. Whatever.
The 2017 Chicago Marathon is tomorrow. And while I feel injured just from typing that sentence, I'm still thrilled that I was a part of it for so long. And I'm even more thrilled for all my friends from across the country who have trained all summer and are running this glorious -- and gloriously flat -- race this weekend. And whether you're a first-timer or a veteran and whether you're injured or in perfect working order, I hope you all enjoy every moment of the experience -- from the enormous expo to the cheering Boystown throngs at the best water station on the entire route to that cruel, cruel hill on Roosevelt Road at mile 25.9 to the mountains of free bananas in the finishers corral. You rock, I'm already proud of you ... and get ready to start blurting out your bragging rights in song to every stranger on the street.
And I had to take this selfie lying down because
my face feels creasy and wrinkly and this is the only way short of
surgery or witchcraft to smooth it out. But we had an AWESOME opening
night and the audience laughed and cheered and my lovely Guvnors family
was ridiculously silly and we had a delightful little cast party to
celebrate and now I'm taking my creases and my wrinkles and my
tragically overlooked T-shirt and my happy glowy memories of the evening
and we're all going to bed. Good night!
Pee here? Blind people with walking sticks may buy tickets at this window? Please hold the hand rail when you get on the escalator? I don't speak Barcelonan so I could never figure out their signs when I touristed there 15 years ago. But I clearly wasn't afraid to be the obnoxious American tourist who squatted for pictures that tacitly made fun of confusing local signage. And I clearly didn't have sense enough to avoid the turn-of-the-century scoop-neck string-tank-top craze that was apparently jumping the pond and sweeping the Western world. But look! I had no tattoos! And shiny shoes! And whatever that murse thing is. But murse doesn't rhyme so I won't even point it out.
I'm not even going to read this article or google this subhuman filth to check my facts before I state with absolute certainty that this abortion-demanding adulterer has repeatedly barked out his allegiance to the following tiredly predictable, ultimately meaningless party-line positions designed to inflame the passions of his ignorant, uneducated voter base: * pro-family * pro-marriage * pro-sanctity-of-marriage * pro-"religious liberty" (which we all know is pathetically lazy code for "we hate the gays") * pro-life (yet pro-assault-weapon) * pro-ten-commandments * anti-abortion * pro-"this is a personal matter, don't ask me any questions, show some respect for my family and personal life"
Whatever your name is, you interchangeable republican moral hypocrite, I hate you. I hope today's comprehensively unsurprising revelations cause you and everyone you love ten times the staggering, crushing pain that you and your words and your votes and your sociopolitical influence have inflicted on every gay person and every terrified pregnant woman and every victim of gun violence in this country.
I just had a crappy, largely waste-of-timey -- but sweaty ... always sweaty -- workout. But I found a shirt from a long-ago Chicago Undie Dash -- which is just as run-through-Chicago-in-your-underpants as it sounds -- shirt in my workout-clothes bin this morning so I did go to the gym with a woman's butt on my chest. So there's that.
Fun fact: Running in just your underpants -- especially if they're super-cute Captain America underpants that you want people to see -- presents unique challenges when you're looking for a place to pin your numbered running bib.
And that means the Supreme Court of the United States is convening and hearing the first arguments of its new term. Which means legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg is back reporting on NPR. I love everything I know about Nina: her unquestionable intelligence, her vast education and understanding of everything from arcane legal procedures to SCOTUS case law, her ability to filter and simplify and explain the continuum of information from Supreme Court hearings to the ramifications past and present of the Court's decisions, and the way she unfalteringly reports everything in a measured, authoritative, unbiased voice. I not only feel more informed and educated by her reporting, but I actually feel smarter because of it.
I'm still furious about Mitch McConnell's flagrantly defiant and proudly partisan denial of Merrick Garland's Constitutionally guaranteed right to a SCOTUS hearing last year solely because Barack Obama nominated him. I'm still furious that our Congress softballed Trump nominee and historically declared fascist Neil Gorsuch into Garland's rightful position on the court. But it's done. I don't trust Gorsuch and I have very rational fears about the ways he'll poison our legal discourse, but we're moving forward with a new term with him on the bench whether rational people like it or not.
I'm also furious and heartbroken about the mass shooting in Las Vegas and the terrible coincidence that it forms the cultural and political backdrop of this historic day in American jurisprudence. But with Nina Totenberg back to filing regular reports, I feel like I at least have a brilliant and steady captain at the helm as we collectively set out to navigate new and uncharted legal and sociopolitical waters.