I generally avoid news about the former president these days — had to abandon the Haberman book, at least for a while, because I so disliked the feeling of having him in my head again — but a detail from the coverage of the Waco rally this weekend caught my eye. It was something about how they played a recording of the “J6 prison choir,” a choral group made up of January 6 defendants, singing the National Anthem, with spoken-word breaks by you-know-who, reading the pledge of allegiance.
Folks, they did not lie. It exists. Click and despair.
I was feeling pretty good after the election, but despair is beginning to creep in around the edges again. I saw another piece, on NPR, about the decline in American life expectancy. It’s worth a click if only for that graphic, with the United States in red, parting ways with the rest of the developed world, post-Covid. Freedumb strikes again.
But despair is a sin, as the lord reminds us. And so I will keep my sunny side up, up, even though it’s a Monday.
Bill Zehme died over the weekend. Most people wouldn’t remember the name, but in journalism circles, he was big, one of the tiny fraternity (and it was so often a fraternity) who got to profile big-time celebrities. He was good at it, and his pieces on Jay Leno, Frank Sinatra, Hugh Hefner, etc., were good enough that their subjects are providing mournful quotes in the wake of his death. The ones who survive, anyway.
As for me, the one I’ll always remember was his oddly sympathetic piece on post-downfall Bob Greene. I think someone must have asked him later why he was so nice to the guy, and he replied that when he was a struggling journalism student, or maybe just launched in his career, he’d written to Bob, and Bob had replied with just the encouragement he needed. He may have even met with him in person, and the titanic journo had bucked up the fetal one, and that meant so much, etc etc. All I could think was: Dummy, he did that to everyone, and if the supplicant was a pretty girl, the encouragement often continued at the Marriott down the street?
Ah, well. That was a different time, as we say so often.
Hope your weekend was good. Mine was fine, although I erred in eating an enormous Mexican dinner at 9 p.m. on a Friday night, which kept me up for hours past my bedtime, not with heartburn, but what I think of as Spanish Sleeplessness, because it happened multiple times when we were in Spain, where restaurants don’t even open until 8 p.m. I’m so goddamn old, my body can’t handle digestion and sleep at the same time.
Ah, well. Back to the mangle, as the work week starts.