Oct 25, 2010

The refrain is, "should I be who you want me to be?" Certainly most teenagers would agree they don't want to be who their parents want them to be. Most Tea Party members don't want to be who party elders would prefer them to be. Rush Limbaugh would agree. This is the cry of the iconoclast. Ayan Rand would agree.

And after all, this is the era of I. Or my. Mine. Not yours.

Eventually, 'me' will give way to 'we', but not yet.

And isn't this exactly the point. Didn't the creators of this ad get the irony of the question? Or did they?

Or, was this merely a sophisticated if muddled attempt to rebrand James, to camouflage a terrible mistake and help Nike recoup a market.

Who knows. That's part of the new shtik and cynicism. Don't take a position. Be elusive, elastic. Be ready to adapt.

For me this ad makes the point exactly. This problem with Lebron James' decision to duck out on a city, and duck out on a personal challenge, is that the decision came down to i. The unarguable i. i, above all.

In fact, I is not necessarily more important than You, which in this ad has a pejorative sound. It's the genius of a 'creative director.' Of quick-cut logic and take-your-mind-off-the-ball visuals. That's what so interesting, and disheartening — the way the media has become a self-service pump that very few people understand how to operate. The ad is cast as an op- ed piece, a proud statement of identity. Of attitude. A defense of i, in the video-game language of images and bits of ideas.

But not a whole idea. Nothing is worked out here.

"Should I be who you want me to be?" Maybe. Sometimes. It depends.

Should a young drug addict or gangsta or kid criminal, or any criminal, regard the wishes of parents and society to be responsible? Yes. Absolutely. That's the least.

If you think about this enough, if you look at this a few times, you may hear the very genuine voice of a child named Lebron James. He really doesn't know the answer. He's never asked the question, himself.

Oct 24, 2010

Not a good day for canvassing. The rain, the 'who cares', the plutocracy of it all.

But you start off with high hopes. Before going to the party headquartes, you stop by Clooney's, a five-star dive on the corner of 25th and Valencia. Open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. At that speed you have just enough time to get home, pass out, and crawl back.

As one reviewer puts it, whenever I stop by Clooney's someone is either yelling or crying. And there are reports that at the drop of a hat one of the crazy tenderettes will drop over the bar and throw your drink in your face.

It's just past 10 a.m. You walk in, it's pitch black, the Sunday games are kicking off and the bartender has a bowl of cheerios, right up to her face, which is from Fresno or the central valley, wizened and red-eyed. Four or five flat screens up high, along with relics from the era of Saint Joe and Lord Rice. Meanwhile, the men and a single woman sit around the horseshoe, in their 49er galore, and in their cups, their Buds, and in their angry-as-hell — even though the Giants got to the World Series last night, and even though the 49es score a touchdown on their first possession this morning.

Half an hour later you're on the 3100 block of 23rd Street. Just off Shotwell. You have your list, your map, your clapboard, your door hangers, your four-color mailbox material, in Spanish and English, your script, your pen and paper.

You're just down the street from where you lived for more than 10 years, yet you have no desire to see that apartment, to see what became of the garden you created in the backyard or what kind of people are living there now. The connection is completely broken. You feel like Ned in Cheever's Swimmer. You've come back to a place that's empty.

You ring at the first address on the printout. No one answers. You mark that as NH (not home). The mark runs like mascara in the rain. The second address and the third and all the way down the page, and no one is home or they're not answering. The truth is the people here are sick to death of the ringing and knocking. On Saturday, they get the Adventists and the Mormons. On Sunday, they get Move-On and OFA. During the week they get people that need a phone or a loan or the bathroom.

Finally, somebody comes to the gate: A young woman, mid 20s, pretty, blonde, barely dressed, looking sleepy and here it is 11:30. You explain. You're asking her to commit to vote. To vote for Dems is best, but to vote at all is good.

"I'm not interested in that," she says. She has a worried expression as though she cannot process the question, as though she cannot believe someone would come to her door with that request. There must be something else...

"Why not?" you say.

"Because I'll be traveling next weekend."

Absentee ballots you say.

"I'm really not interested in voting at this time."

She sounds automated. 'Are you hardcore,' you're thinking.

"Why aren't you interested in voting?"

"It's all stupid. I have other things to think about." She turns away and disappears. On the back of her underpants, across the ass: Go Cal Bears

You keep going. You walk up a driveway, past some white vans. A man appears. He's in his 50s, striding toward you, a sandwich in his left hand. "Whata ya need."

You go through your spiel.

"I don't give a shit."

So you won't vote at all.

He shakes his head. You ask why not.

"Who the fuck am I gonna vote for? I don't like the rich on the one hand or the lazy on the other. I hate 'em all. I'm what you might call one cynical, Darkness-At-Noon bastard. I don't see anything in it for me from any of these people."

Not even the Tea Party.

"No, not them either."

But what about the idea of a handful of people and large corporations running these elections....

"What's new?" He's opening the door to one of the vans. He's a contractor. He has to get back to Oakland. You're holding him up.

"Here's the truth." He's saying, and smiling, but it's a weird ironic smile. "I don't mind the oligarchy, so long as I'm in it. I'm not in it but I'd like to be...."

A little cynicism, a little truth.

The rain is speeding up. The enthusiasm gap is too great.

You go back to Clooney's. Without a George. That's what it needs. Or Looney's, you're thinking. The 49ers are tied (and they'll go on to lose). A man at the bar has got his dander up, spit flying every which way. "It was Clinton that got us in this mess," he's saying. "You know and when he went to Korea and got those people out. And look at Carter, look what he did. They're making this into socialism and one day they'll round us all up. They're workin' on it right now. Obama is. They don't want you to have a job. See, that's the secret. All you can feel good about these days is Uribe. The dumb wetback did good, didn't he?"

Oct 23, 2010

The take of a fellow journalist: Juan Williams should not have been fired, especially in a phone call. He should have been given the chance to reconsider and recast his comments. And, he should have been told to make a choice between working at NPR or Fox.

On the one hand, the whole matter is much ado about nothing, egos and sensibilities to toss on a scrap heap. On the other hand, this has badly undermined the credibility of NPR, and particularly its CEO, Vivian Schiller, and it tweaks public distrust of institutions just on the eve of the most important American election in decades.

And how easily the whole thing might have been avoided.

Had Williams run his feelings through his intellect he might have found an equally resonant but more profound point to make. He might have said something like, "Whenever I board a plane and see swarthy looking young men, in Muslim garb or not, I get nervous. How can you not help but think of 9/11? Or half a dozen other incidents....

"And by the way I know that the people to be afraid of are a tiny minority of Muslims (which Williams actually had said at one point) and that the Koran doesn't countenance terrorism. And I'm also aware that the drug cartel terrorist from Latin America may now be as dangerous as the radical member of Al Qaeda. 'Swarthy young men' describe a variety of threats....

"But there's something else here. This has been an interesting experience for me, a revelation, to feel afraid of someone on the basis of their clothing or skin color. I've written several books on civil rights but now I have a renewed sense of what it means to hate and be hated, and I am trying to take the lesson that this is a time, if there ever was, to use reason in relating to both people and events. Now is the time to resist an emotional response, especially to issues that we may not understand or have thought through."

Naturally, it's easy to cast what might have been said after the fact. On the other hand you might wonder why a pundit, who spends all his time thinking about such things didn't have a more thoughtful commentary at the ready.

There is something else to remember. This business is all in line with the collapse of a profession. Once upon a time, say 20 years ago, the career arc of a journalist was to be a reporter, on either a newspaper or a magazine, and then work his or her way up to be an editor, and then to be an editor at an ever larger, more prestigious publication.

Now the arc stretches from reporter to pundit. You may or may not pass through editorship. Not unlike the entertainment industry, where there's an arc from actor to director. The notion now is that the most sought after position is where you get to speak rather than to listen.

Once upon a time there was a check and balance within the profession. Lippmann and Murrow in their day were the authoritative voices of reason. Cronkite and Reston in theirs. Now it's cacophony, it's anybody's game. There is no wise voice saying, 'this is the way to handle this and the way to see this...'

Which brings us back to Juan Williams, himself. Now grasping at the role of whining victim and accepting his compensation: a $2 million contract from Fox. And for what? To be a political prisoner of war, to be a kept man, to be a respected and pitied scoundrel. To be used as a turncoat. In the end, he's a scoundrel, not for what he said about Muslims but for how he handled a misspoken word, for the example he sets, for his lack of integrity and common courage.

Oct 22, 2010

The Power Hour With Mr. Slither

Whenever Mark Levin is on, I drop everything. "Dr. Levin is on," I shout out. He comes on right after Hannity and before Dr. Laura and then it's Coast to Coast. I fiddle with the dial on the old Philco, until he's coming in loud and clear. I like that part in the beginning of the show where the scary voice is talking about how he's our leader, coming to us from an underground bunker in a nondescript building somewhere in a large city. And that urgent, kinda metally rock music. I love that. When I hear that I really feel like we've been taken over by aliens or socialist types...

And I never miss a day, because you know, otherwise, he might think I was one of the miscreants or thugs threatening our way of life. My wife's the opposite. She calls him Mr. Slither, and she'll come runnin' from God knows where and she'll be all heated up and I'll say, let's open the radiator cap on that one.' And she'll say, how the hell you gonna listen to that maniac.

I tell her, I feel more educated when I hear Dr. Levin talking about the Constitution and his dog, Griffon, who is suffering from cancer and that's the real reason he can't come to any of the Tea Party rallies right now, not unless he can get there and back in the same day. Dr. Levin just wants you to know that while the president is a jackass, and a lot of people out there are morons, and all these repubicans and backbenchers, which I don't quite understand, but anyway Griffon is fine. You can bet on that.

Today, he was interviewing Tom Tancredo, who somebody said looked like Jimmy and Tammy Faye Baker in the same body, and Jon Stewart refers to as, “the man Mexicans tell their kids about to make them eat their vegetables". I don't believe they really say that but you never know. Congressman Tancredo wanted to impeach Obama and I sure support that.

But now what's real important is for us to join Americans for Prosperity, which has 1.5 million members and they're kind of bipartisan because they didn't like the out-of-control spending under Bush either. So I sent in my $20 and a picture of our house and our dog, Sparky. And right away my wife said we got an email from the head of Americans For Prosperity, somebody named Phillips and he asked if we could send in some more money.

Now some people say this Americans for Prosperity is run these two brothers named Koch, real rich guys somewhere in the midwest, along the Mississippi Rive, but it doesn't say on the website, so I think that's probably wrong.

The problem is they want $1,000 to be a Thomas Jefferson Member. They say that Thomas Jefferson said, "The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government."

I sure agree with that and I'm glad our $1,000 goes to train and mobilize 20 activists for our 'Sick of Spending and November is Coming' Project. I'm glad we have paid activists. I would be an activist if anybody ever asked, but they don't.

All I know is we just gotta get this country back on track. Those people in Washington never ask us what we need, just what they think we need. We know what we need and it's not what they need or what these zillionaires need....

Oct 17, 2010

Last evening in the Berkeley hills, at an October Fest: 17 Hippies in the background; Little blonde girls dressed like 1939; and the hostess, a noblesse-faced redhead from Bavaria offering a bouncing display of breastage and beer, sausage, cakes and light conversation to go with a lavish garden. The cigarette smoke was just hanging there above our heads, not moving at all.

These were some real accent carrying Germans, deep in the lederhosen — shop customers, fellow parents, people from the university, and a man in a black suit, black hair, white shirt, open at the collar, wearing a ponytail. He was in his late 40s, with a rectangular face, bad skin and a dark expression — imagine if Rudolph Steiner had come back to life, having built the Goetheanum in West Hollywood and was still offering prominent past lives to potential investors.

Of course, he was actually from Croatia.

And then sitting next to me, a little precariously on the folding chair, a woman in middle age. I ask her who she's going to vote for. "Can't," she says. "There's no place to vote where we are and we never got any ballots in the mail. It's too late now."

She's 55, to put it kindly, with baby soft gray hair and a five-year-old boy on her lap, her own boy, spoiled as der Pfirsischs. She explains that she's living out in El Sobrante, which is over the hills from this place, beyond El Cerito, over still more hills and then you come to a funky man's Woodside, horses and hay and such, and where according to this woman it's no holes barred. Which is to say there's a lot of adultery going on.

She's a scientist, with slightly bulging eyes and a deep Brooklyn accent, every story she tells is more bizarre than the last, but of course she's very aware, she knows exactly how she's appearing. And finally she says, "And you know the name of the place where we live, you know what it's always been called, from Indian times?"

"Screwball hill," she says nodding. "And that's true."

Oct 14, 2010

Watching the Rachel Maddow show tonight you had to shake your head. And then later bang it against the wall....

The news of the day, of course, is the U.S Chamber of Commerce — that elderly sweater girl with her pompoms for American business and clearly suffering from dementia. It's stunning when you think of it, how the same Chamber that so pleaded for the stimulus is now allied with the Tea Party and a handful of unidentified millionaires, and some 80 foreign corporations, now chomping to bring down Obama's job agenda. All in the name of the free market.

The clip to go with the Chamber story showed Tom Donohue, head of the chamber and the standardbearer of old white guys — all I could think of was Orwell's "Shooting the Elephant" or Kiplings's Gunga Din — with the straight hair, the straight suit, the straight lace and face of it all, talking about how there was nothing wrong with shipping jobs overseas. Nothing wrong at all. Thinking, one assumes, in the most practical terms, that the bottom line is after all the shareholder not the worker. Even in a great recession.

It was a callous remark and politically deaf, a Scarlet Letter of sorts, and a precious gift to Dems, just in the nick.

Then a few segments later you have Miss Rachel, from dykes on bikes, as it were, towering, elegantly and safely queer one could say, inexhaustibly animated and smart, but still a dyke, still at the edge of the tent, sounding like Teddy Roosevelt, talking about the importance of infrastructure, celebrating the new bridge just opening next to the Hoover Dam and lamenting New Jersey Gov. Christie's efforts to kill that new tunnel to Manhattan; and what a calamity it is, she went on, how we've so lost our way, our balls, our convictions, our dreams, even the capacity to dream.

She said it so well. So eloquently. You wanted to weep and cheer. And shake your head.

But how did we get to this turn? The Republican "man" has become an incoherent midget, an intellectual gopher, while the tall, big-boned gay lady shows the grand old strength, moxie and wisdom.

But here's the part where you want to bang your head to smithereens. A nation of stupidos has no ear for the message unless it comes out of an idiot's mouth. If Sharron Angle says it, it must be true. If Christine O'Donnell feels it, it must be real.

From birth of a nation to death of a nation. And one hopes to birth again. But the place will look and sound a lot different then....

Oct 12, 2010

The question is, how would you address the likes of Rush Limbaugh if you were Barack Obama. Limbaugh was only lightly wounded the other day when the President replied to a reporter, in effect, "I'm too busy to think about him."

But that doesn't work. That's a milkshake for the blissfull fatty. With that the Excellencior of the EIB network can compare himself, can talk about how little golf he's played in the last three weeks, next to the president who, Rush says, plays every day. But what is true?

No, you have to come toward the problem and forget the notion that to notice is to elevate. Here's what you say....

"You want to know what I think about these right wing talk show hosts? Not all of them — some are just in for the shtick, but two I can think of. These are people who create nothing, build nothing, manage nothing, found nothing, spend all day working at nothing. Yet, they're paid huge sums of money to be obscene and disgraceful, to spread lies and encourage ignorance and fear. They're vultures who feed on hopelessness and anger. They bring nothing to the table but what is putrid and foul."

Oct 8, 2010

I just got off the phone with Charlotte. She was fit to be tied. "Would you like a comment?" she asked. "I know you're doing phone banking and you can't spend too much time with any one person, but would you like a comment?"

Absolutely, I said.

"Okay then. I've been political all my life. From childhood. I can't remember not being involved somehow. I went to Florida in 2004. I went all over the country in 2008. I've spent my life supporting progressive candidates. But now I'm just sitting on my hands. I am so disgusted I can't tell you."

Well, tell me anyway.

"Why on earth have the Dems allowed Republicans to take over this campaign?"

How do you mean?

"The way they respond."

You mean the messaging.

"Yes, the messaging. How can they let these smears, the hypocrisies, the lies go unchallenged. I just don't understand."

Give an example that really bothers you.

"I was just watching Rachel Maddow and she had somebody on, I don't remember his name. He was saying something about how there was no rational reason to block this particular piece of legislation because it "would just drive us further into a".... And what do you think he said next. What would the next word be?"


"Exactly, a ditch. But you know what he said?"


"He said, a 'double dip recession'. Now you hear that and it doesn't really register. That's not what comes to mind. Don't they know anything about cadence, about framing an idea....."

Cadence, yes that's an interesting point, I said. Charlotte was like horses let out of the coral.

"They're still acting as though this was all a civilized debate, like we're still living in a civil society. The whole language of debate has gone out the window. There is no civilized society any more."

So how do you want Dems to act?

"I want them to be less corrupt, because both sides drink from the same trough. And I want them to stand up and fight. Alan Grayson. Weiner. Like the way those two fight. I'm just sitting here in horror watching all this. You know what Bill Clinton said that's really true? He said, people respond to a leader who is strong and wrong much better than a leader who is weak and right."

"Every day I become more discouraged," she went on.

People have lost the ability to think critically, I said.

"Yes, and you know where that started. That started with No Child Left Behind. And who handled that? Neil Bush handled that. And what was that about? It was about teaching to the test and so we have a generation of kids who were taught to take a test, don't remember anything from the courses they took and never learned to think critically, never learned to question or analyze....

You believe that was a conspiracy.

"I do and I'm not a conspiracy theorist. But I believe that. Read Crashing the Gate. It's the 'conspiracy of self interest.' Not a literal conspiracy, but a conspiracy of self interest. Everything is for money. That whole education initiative was for the economic benefit of the testors. And then of course if they don't teach to the test, the school gets no money, and the whole cycle tightens. And that's how you get a permanent underclass."

She paused.

"So that's why I'm not getting involved this time. I'm just too discouraged. I feel further and further distanced from everything I believe that's good in this country. And by the way the other day I went to visit the San Francisco Unified School District and I met some of the lower income workers, not teachers, but security guards and the people who work in the cafeterias, those unions have all but collapsed, and what's interesting is how conservative those people have become. They're the ones listening to Rush Limbaugh and they honestly believe that the Republicans have their interests at heart. I know someone else. A friend of a friend's father. He always thought the way to be rich was to be a Republican. And now it's all these years later and he still doesn't have any money and he's a still a Republican. How do you describe the stupidity of people in this country? Seriously, how do you?"

I don't know. It's a job for H.L. Mencken. But I'm asking you one more time if you won't reconsider and come out and help us.

"Okay. Where do I go? When does it start? How many calls do I have to make? We're all going to hell in a handbasket, I might as well....

Oct 6, 2010

"I'm not a witch.

I think you look fabulous, babe! Hair's a little flat, but the plain everywoman look comes right through.

"I'm nothing you've heard."

Dearie, you're sounding a little Orwellian. But never mind and incidentally I never said anything. It's just between us. Okay? Everything that happened on that altar and the baby sacrifice thing, I didn't say a word. By the way have you ever heard my Boris Karloff imitation? "Monsta? I'm not a monsta."

"I am you."

I know you are, babe, but can I say this? Don't take this too personally, but the outfit, the black whatever it is and the black background kinda reminds me of someone out of The Crucible. Can't you take some of that campaign money and get something decent? Or else Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. You don't want to look like that!

"None of us are perfect."

No, no she had more glamor and humor than you do but that's okay. And you know I love your pouty, kookie look. Plus, I'm know what you're saying, I get the code words, this is something the Koch-head brothers dreamed up, right, 'to take away the sins of the world', to get the common man in the public mind, and what you're really trying to say is that you did pleasure yourself. Right? 'You did have sex with that woman', as it were. Yourself, I mean. But I'm not saying a word. That's okay. Nobody is going to burn you at the stake, or put you in the ground up to your shoulders and stone you to death for committing adultery with yourself. What are you kidding? Are you happy now?

"None of us can be happy when when we see what's all around us."

I'm sick about it and I'm sick of it. I hate these people...

"Politicians who think spending, trading favors and back room deals are the ways to stay in office."

Absolutely. Right on. And I'm just so happy they let Gene Cranick's house burn to the ground. Along with three dogs and a cat. These are the malingerers Mark Levin is always talking about. The layabouts and thugs, the union types. No, this is the kind of lesson we need to teach people. Now some may call it revenge; I call it what's 'meat and right so to do'. You want government, we're gonna give you government. We make government the old fashion way, as John Houseman used to say in those Smith Barney ads, "We earn it." By the way whatever happened to Smith Barney?

"I'll go to Washington and do what you'd do."

Thank you! Finally! Thank you. Someone is making sense. By the way did you hear about the clown in Rio or someplace. A real clown and the people voted him in to office. Why? Because he was absolutely genuine. He said, 'I don't know what I'm doing, I don't know anything about politics, but I'll just go in there and tell you what I see.' But now here's the point: here's what I'd do, if I were you, I'd go to Washington and just kill everybody in government. Just shoot the bastards. You know what I mean? Just take no hostages. And then I'd have a big lavish party like Ronald Reagan used to have. You know what I mean? Betsy Bloomingdales, Nancy fancy. Those were our people weren't they?

"I am you."

I know you are, babe. I love it when you say that. I'm you too. We're just all each other. I love it. And the real America is just around the corner.

Oct 5, 2010

The fall soccer season is underway, and frankly not all for the better. Yesterday, we drove out to a night game in San Ramon with Frederick, the father of one of the other players. It was a disaster.

Behind his back we call him Frederick “How-great-I-am” because he has an irresistible tendency to draw attention to himself. He’s Boston ‘Southie’ Irish, a middle weight boxer in college, with a blown up photo of Robert F. Kennedy in his office, a degree in the Classics from Cambridge, a geologist by trade, and now a white-haired, deeply disheveled man, whose whiny voice always soars above the crowd. He’s the one that yells at the ref, “Hey, hey, don’t give up your day job.” Or, as an aside in the stands, “Get a Lasik you fuckin’ idiot.”

Over the years the team has suffered several penalties and admonitions because of his uproarious commentary. He even criticizes our players and he’ll be standing right in front of the player’s parents. He doesn’t care. He criticizes his own son to high heaven, and finally, the coach has realized that Frederick’s son, who is already high strung and tentative, cannot play within earshot of his father.

Incidentally, this is a U-19 league. Whenever he hears that, in whatever setting, Frederick calls out in a thick Nazi accent, “Attenzion all U-boats, Zis is zee Kaiser sprekenng: Zink za Lusitania”.

This team includes an ethnically diverse collection of players from San Francisco and, San Mateo, and a couple from the Central Valley. They’re in the top division, playing top ranked teams in the state and the nation, but now, just a month into the season, are 1 and 4.

So yesterday afternoon we went off with Frederick, who actually can be very refined, even urbane — you couldn’t imagine that but it true. The problem is he played high school football and has never accepted the more demure culture of soccer. “TAKE HIM OUT,” he’ll yell at the top of his lungs if he sees an opposing player who does too many tricks or is a dirty player. “Just take him out, what are you waiting for?”

Speaking of culture Frederick has taken up listening to hip-hop, partly in an effort to co-opt some of his son’s other interests and partly because he enjoys annoying whomever he can. And so as we go tooling down Tassajara Rd. in heavy traffic, past the gated entrances to Black Hawk, Frederick has K’naan on heart thumping boom base singing the refrain….

So what’s hardcore
Really, are you hardcore? Hmm
So what’s hardcore?
Really, are you hardcore? Hmm

Frederick sings right along himself looking people down in passing cars. He’s from his own particular hood of mind and loves these lyrics above all:

In the day you should never take the alleyway
The only thing that validates you is the AK...

This is not all the alter ego-fanaticism of an older man with a screw loose, ever looking to bleed a snotty nose. He’s also a dedicated enemy of the Tea Party and assumes, sometimes wrongly, that everyone he sees outside the city is a party member. He’s forever telling people to read Frank Rich, or his real hero, Paul Krugman.

And so we arrive last night at the Mustang soccer complex. This is one of these state of the art facilities that includes not only the finest turf, on two fields no less — and an elaborate sunshade for spectators, designed by a famous architect —but a two story club house, with veranda and Spanish tile roof.

The game starts out well enough and at the end of the half there’s no score, but early in the second half our team’s defense begins to falter and the mid-field can’t get the ball to the forwards. Then the goalie is called for obstructing play, which leads to a score on a penalty shot and things go down from there. Suddenly, it’s 3 nil, Frederick is seething and in his tantrum blocks the view of a parent from the other team.

“Hey, take a seat, soldier,” says the parent.

“What did you say?” asks Frederick, who hasn’t confronted anyone like himself in ages.

“I said it would be nice if you would sit down so the rest of us could watch the game. What can’t you understand?”

Frederick is stunned by his doppelganger and the drama is on.

“Here’s what I can’t understand,” says Frederick, now standing in front of this man who’s sitting a metal bleacher with about 20 people, all fans for the other team. “I thought they only let you out of your little gated community at night.”

“What?” asks the doppelganger in disbelief. Someone else yells, “Go away old man.”

“Does the institute know you’re out here,” ask Frederick. “Did you sign out? Aren’t you supposed to be with a supervisor at all times?”

“Listen, asshole. Get out of my sight.”

“I’m sorry, is this the Black Hawk charm I’ve heard so much about? The discrete charm of the boobie bourgeoisie?

“Hey, can’t you just leave?” yells someone in the bleacher.

“Please sir,” adds a woman in the front row.

“How much ignorance can a woodchuck chuck?” asks Frederick.

“Who is this guy?” someone asks.

“He’s an idiot,” someone else says. “It’s people from San Francisco, they’re all wing nuts.”

“Wait a minute,” says Frederick. “How many people here are Tea Party members? Raise your right hand. That’s your heil hand for those of you who can’t remember. “

He does his heil salute.

“This guy is nuts,” someone says.

Frederick looks at the crowd carefully. “I see only one person wearing their brown shirt. The rest of you are on report.”

“I’m calling security,” someone says taking out their cell phone. The parent who originally confronted Frederick stands up. Another man sitting further back jumps off the bleacher.

“If you come any closer I’ll have Christina O’Donnell start masturbating,” says Frederick who would love a fight and just at the moment there’s another Mustang goal so now he’s Monsieur Kamikaze Miserable at the ramparts.

His doppelganger and sidekick sense that this is not someone they should fool with. Frederick is not a big man but gets a few inches with sheer moxie and the sense this is really someone who likes reckless abandon.

“Okay let’s just watch the games,” says one of the mothers who steps in between the gentlemen and that’s the end of the matter.

After the game, we get back in Frederick’s car. He’s beyond himself, but at the same very calm, deliberate. He turns on the music and it’s K’naan singing smile….. He turns up the volume and we slowly, you can’t believe how slowly, roll out of there.

Smile When you struggilin
Smile when Your in jail
Smile When your deadbroke
Smile And the rents due
Smile You ain’t got friends now
Smile And no one knows you
Never let them see you down smile while you bleeding
Smile When he leaves you
Smile Cause girl he needs you
Smile Plenty single mothers cry the tears you do
Smile dispite the war
Smile dispite the pain yo
Never let them see you down smile while you bleeding