B Rant: Señor Trump
1 September 2015
To the left of the river: Mexico. To the right of the river: Texas. In Mexico the river is called the Rio Bravo. In the US the river is called the Rio Grande.
B = me
Rant = declaim violently and with little sense; rave
The man is a shamanic spoon-bending card-carrying capital-sí-Conjurer of the American Spectacle. Or at least a Sorcerer with one spell: hypnotizing American brains into sending orders to American throats that cause American vibrations to come out of American mouths as one of the verbal placeholders that is his name. He’s somewhere between Welven Da Great, Ronald Reagan, Silvio Berlusconi and Charlie Croker—heavy on the Silvio. There had to be a counterweight to this Bush-Clinton(/Pepsi-Coke) Oligarchic rock formation constructing itself in time-lapse velocity like a “Mediterranean” McMansion made of sheetrock and presented to the world as legit. His timing is perfect—a Goldilocks zone of a moment for national synesthesia.
I still think Bloomberg could have—was dying to—play this role eight years ago, but had his ambitions thwarted by Obama winning at the “I wanna be President, but I’m not yet part of the new American Oligarchy, let me roll a NO on the To invade or not to invade Iraq Presidential Craps Table” while Hillary rolled an “I wanna be President, but I’m part of the new American Oligarchy, let me follow the crowd and roll a safe YES.” Of course, Bloomberg would have been an “Independent” from the jump—(and pushed “gun control” while being shadowed by the most heavily-armed and well-trained security money and a democratically elected Mayorship can buy. [Insert hallucinogen here that shape-shifts all of America into the Upper West Side.] But there was a Philip K. Dickish glitch in the matrix—a convergence of the emerging Visual language and Social Media; that nagging, miscalculated roll of the Clinton dice—and our Mayor was left without a prescient reason to spend some of his billions taking down a Bush-Clinton. Instead, he out-Vladamired Putin: adding a third term (without, like Vlad, having to “take some time off”) to cement his legacy. And if the Alphabet City streets could speak, they would say: “He should have added a fourth.”
The one thing Donald Trump is missing is a big-ass blinged-out pinkie ring. One in the key of a late 70s Texas Oilman melting through a wormhole that finds him driving his Coupe de Ville east on I-10 to a mid-90s Cash Money concert.
The American Spectacle in full bloom. BOOM BAM POW. Forget facts, near facts, policy nonsense—it doesn’t matter. It hasn’t for a long time. We Invest In People! Elevator Pitch! Culture! (Post-)Empire! Binary Livin! We want exposure to overlit flatscreens enticing us to keep clicking on the latest gotcha! clip to the latest response to the latest gotcha! clip to … buying whatever these dudes are selling. And none of these cats are gonna outsell Trump.
Being a born-and-bred Texan, a lover of all things Mexican and quite familiar with Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and Juárez, my favorite Trump fear/hero pitch came when he visited Laredo (the city on the Texas side of the Rio Grande, opposite Nuevo Laredo) and declared: "They say it's a great danger but I have to do it. I love the country." Danger? Let’s take a look at the larger border sister-cities a few hours up the Rio Bravo/Grande: Juárez and El Paso. In 2010 Juárez was known as the murder capital of the world—3,115 murders were reported in a city of just over one million, an average of eight and a half murders a day—while that same year El Paso had the lowest murder rate of any large city in the US: five the entire year. Juárez has seen a big improvement the last few years, but the insane discrepancy in murder rates of sister-cities staring at one another across the river remains. Señor Trump of all people understands the “bad for business” reason for this as well as the safety it offers on the Grande side of Bravo.
Like crack, the numbers game is wack. It’s so boring and debasing in a humans-are-algorithmic-fuel sorta way. I don’t want to be a hands-free algorithmic response. I don’t want to be uploaded. But big data and sabermetrics aren’t going anywhere. Dick’s The Minority Report is coming. Although this might tame some pockets of ingrained American absurdism—the criminal justice system perhaps (or at least sentencing)—it’s dealing storytelling a blow while turning lines of code into battalions of nouveau (robotic) alpha (mostly) males.
Or not. In this historic Goldilocks zone that Señor Trump finds himself in, primary voters appear to find themselves equally drawn to old-fashioned Braggadocio and modern Numbers Numbers (polling) Numbers must be true. My gut tells me the importance of polls and frontrunning will increase. Maybe it’s not my gut? Maybe it’s the mad loot that Apple, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, ______ and ______ spend on convincing us that “if we like ______ we might like ______”? Even now, with the hairless cat out of the bag that those blanks can be bought—rendering the algorithm false (oxymoron?—false algorithm)—it’s too late. An omnipotent co-signing digital Frankenstein is on the loose! And for sale!
[Pie Charts as Prose.]
I riffed on the anti-Orwellian nature of technological advancement in my thoughts on the new issue of Grey. Well, Señor Trump has rightly and righteously turned candidate into contestant and filled the Miss Universe void by reviving another flailing shit-show that calls to mind an Umberto Eco book: On Ugliness.
Does he want to be President? Is he a ringer for Bush-Clinton? Who cares. The dude is having more fun than anyone you know. Beware the single-spell Sorcerer.
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