The Deplorables

trump-worldOnce upon a time a family of wandering gypsies arrived in America by way of steamer from Istanbul, and later, by banana boat from Costa Rica. The clan was headed by Haggar Deplorable of the Hungarian Deplorables, a stout, red faced man with big hands and a devious heart. His wife Rubellah loved those big hands, and placed her trust in them because they never failed her.  Haggar’s hands were big enough to hide wallet leather, strong enough to force any hinge, and yet delicate enough to carry crystal or fine gold necklaces back across any threshold. Although the knuckles of the right hand were callused from striking the bony jaws of many an interloper, no one could help but admire the stealth and consummate skill with which those hands moved. Legends are born of less.
—Rubellah was just as impressive herself, but with her it was her eyes. Dark, penetrating, almost hypnotic in their effect, Rubellah’s eyes could hold the gaze of any others just long enough. Then, with a swish of long black braids, bound by golden bands, she would be on her way again, a little richer for the encounter. Besides man and matriarch, there were sons and daughters numbering four each. Stone Deplorable was the bald one since birth, but he made up for his unusual genetic condition by growing hair almost everywhere else. His thick, coarse chest hair had, on first sight, an animal attraction to women, and his marital engagements and subsequent disappearances averaged ten a year. Stone was bold, unlike his brother Jacob. Jacob was the one trained to fit through tight openings, late at night. He had to be coaxed early, and later used a penlight. Jacob would not participate in any daylight escapades, such as those perpetrated by Igor and his brother Ahab, who were the identical twins and bungling comics of the clan, and who would often approach a seated mark from either side as Stone moved in from behind with the ether-drenched handkerchief.
—Of the daughters, Ruth was the only homely one. She kept the books, invested the family earnings, and dabbled in the market. Her sister Salome, however, looked like she’d stepped out of a Botticelli painting.  Voluptuous, volcanic, verbose, she exuded despicable passions from every pore, and went through men like a diva goes through chocolates.  Meanwhile, Beulah was merely flirtatious, beguiling by comparison; she posed and accessed while Salome pounced. Finally, Caprice also liked to flirt, but she did not possess Beulah’s detachment, and so often needed to be extricated from amorous situations by Stone’s intervention and wrestling technique.  All four sisters were blessed with their mother’s long dark hair and hypnotic eyes.
—Several years before its demolition the family moved into the projects in Brooklyn just long enough to establish residency, U.S. citizenship, and to play the welfare roles.  Jacob obtained SSI disability payments for his timidity and frail looks, and all the “children” got allowances for food stamps which were later sold on the street at the usual discounts.  As it turned out, they did not need to lie very much, and Haggar even went for worker’s compensation by claiming a fictitious slump in “intrapersonal lifestyle analysis.”  Soon after, they set up a mail drop, scored one final fake drug bust on the building’s pushers, and moved uptown into Trump Tower, which had excellent Hispanic room service.
—“This was a real adjustment for us,” Igor later confided to a cab driver. “Since poppa was getting older, and found it harder to work with his hands, we hired tutors to teach us proper grammar and etiquette.  Hotel employees who’d complained when they heard Hungarian folk music and Liszt Rhapsodies echoing through the cooling ducts decided they could tolerate us when we stopped singing and dancing, and started tipping. Guests were not so sure. Once I was on the elevator during a psychologists convention and got asked if I thought what we were doing was wrong.  After pressing the hold button I explained to a curious shrink what poppa had always taught us, which is that God created us the way we are, so He must rejoice when we do what we do.  Then I asked what he knew, and demanded payment for my session, refusing to release the hold button until I was given a Ulysses S. Grant, although I settled for a Jackson and a Lincoln, which was all the bum had.  After that I started dressing differently too, and began to resemble a politician or a game show host. It never occurred to me to question our family philosophy or moral judgment, whatever that means. Like Popeye or The Donald, I yam what I yam.”
—The Deplorables all began to wear different hats from that point. Beulah and Jacob ascended into high society, attending arts openings and benefits in order to case the patrons’ jewelry. Salome, finally achieving a modicum of self restraint, was able to play the witty rich divorcee just long enough to lure her gentlemen victims to secluded bedrooms where they were seduced and left exhausted and semi-conscious without their dignity, their Rolexes, or their credit cards. Confiding in Stone, Salome scoffed at marriage.  “American millionaires,” she laughed. “No wonder women divorce them.  Besides, the only reason to get married in America is to have kids, and I’m sorry, but I haven’t got eighteen years to spare. What if I have quintuplets, or Siamese twins when all I really wanted was a Siamese cat?  And what will my baby’s first words be?  ‘Wii Wii?’  Get real.  Babies don’t come from heaven anymore, anyway.  Heaven has been out of babies for quite some time.  Then when the kid starts asking Why, what would I tell it?  I don’t know Why.  To top it off, what if my baby is switched at birth, and I don’t find out until nine years later when someone named Galifianakis shows up, and with a basket?”
—Stone responded in kind.  “With me, I find I’m often forced to leave Xerox copies of one dollar bills as tips on dinner dates.  Afterward I send the women flowers with dead insects in them.  If they don’t get the message, I describe my idea of an exciting evening as curling up on the sofa with a book by Kafka while listening to Bach’s Goldberg Variations and eating Fruit Loops straight from the box.  If they manage to find me, I disguise our empty refrigerator with plastic roasts purchased from appliance salesmen down on their commissions, and I allow them to discover this while I’m watching Dancing with the Stars and sipping Ovaltine from an elephant-shaped mug.”
—Speaking of politics, Igor and Ahab had some misadventures of their own.  Identical twins on each side of the game, they raised funds which they also skimmed from both Democrats and Republicans.  Their education on the matter was obtained by attending phony real estate seminars run by former televangelists, and taking copious notes on technique.
—Ahab:  “I told them what they wanted to hear.  I defined class envy as something which occurs in people who don’t have any class, liberals as near-sighted people prescribing rose-colored glasses, and high school grads as young punks who can whistle all the top forty tunes but still can’t read their own diplomas.  Was I tough on crime?  Well, for rape I suggested the perp do a stint as playmate for amorous eight hundred pound gorilla. For DUI the stint would be as a bumper in a bumper car concession run by crazed 8 year olds.  For slapping, yelling at, or otherwise preventing a child from learning to speak English and to vote Republican the perp got incarceration for twenty four hours with an abusive life insurance agent suspected of murdering his mother. And just for allowing your kid to watch TMZ on TV as much as he wanted required you to be bound, gagged, and forced to watch House of Cards reruns for two days straight, your eyes stuck open with Crazy Glue.”
—Igor:  “With the Democrats, I tried to cover myself by taking the rich versus poor debate one giant step forward.  I proposed an actual class war by claiming to have inside information that the other side was already mobilizing.  For K rations my lower class battalion would have grits, toast, and powdered milk for breakfast, Spam, Coke, and a slice of government cheese for lunch, and tuna casserole, tea, and a dollop of rocky road ice milk for dinner.  Of course for the rich it was, I admitted, German Sausage Coquettes, fresh squeezed orange juice, and Belgian waffles for breakfast, Tuscan Veal with pine nuts, Amaretto Custard Cake, and cappuccino with chocolate garnish for lunch, and for dinner it was Roast Rack of Lamb Tiffany, Medallions de Trois Viandes aux Trois Poivron, Fresh Mango Sherbet with coulis of raspberries, and Mouton Rothschild 1938.  Unfortunately, I was heckled as any bad stand up comic might be.  This wasn’t the kind of reaction I wanted, so I slipped out the back way with as much slush fund money as I could carry.”
—There were other failures for the twins. For instance, they later infiltrated the gangs, and attempted to convince various gang leaders of certain credentials, much like a national fraternity official might when visiting a local chapter.  They even set up a school, or rather skool, to teach homies the history of gangs which they’d failed to learn.  To qualify for GEDs {Gang Education Diplomas} kids were told that it wasn’t enough just to know how to blow smoke rings, or how to walk around with their belts unbuckled and shirt tails out without dropping their baggy pants, or even the proper way to flash “get stuffed” to other gangs in order to provoke a shooting spree.  They needed to learn how to fail at everything else in life in order to get into ANGER U, of which the twins were admissions coordinators.
—“Unfortunately, we had a high dropout rate,” Igor soon complained. “Many were fascinated at first when we told them CRIPS stood for Class Rebels Immortalizing Paint Spray, but when we said that BLOODS stood for Bitter Lads Objectifying Oppressive Dysfunctional Society no one knew what ‘objectifying’ and ‘dysfunctional’ meant, and then it was too late to change it to Boys Learning Of Oppression, Drugs, and Suicide. So I blurted out something about two splinter groups of the Bloods that went to war–the B Positives and the B Negatives, and who did they think won?  Then Ahab, thinking it a good joke, tried to up me by invoking the LORDS, and asking which faction did they think came out on top, the Legion Of Raging Demented Sociopaths or the Lovers Of Really Delicious Shortcake?  Alas, our humorless would-be subjects suspected we were dissing them then, and we barely made it out of klass by remembering that we needed to attend the funeral of Bloods impressionist graffiti artist Chico Rameriz, who was killed for having a ‘blue’ period.”
—Although the twins did manage to start a gang of their own in Chinatown, that didn’t pan out either.  The short lived Kung Yu Gang followed no particular martial arts code, although they had plenty of black belts, purple belts, and quite a few gold chains.  To the twins fiscal disappointment, the gang’s rumbles became mainly intermural food fights, pitting the Japanese VS. the Vietnamese, or the Chinese Szechuans VS. the Taiwan Mutant Ninja Tenderloins. For fun the upstart youngsters even vandalized price and options tags at American car dealerships.
—Meanwhile Ruth continued to buy Krugerrands, gold stocks, and commodities futures in preparation for the coming economic collapse, which “any fool could see” was inevitable once one of the two candidates set up in the Oval Office.  Such became her acumen in international currency exchange that she had three additional phone lines installed into the Trump casino suite where Rubellah had once sung songs of the old country and cooked goulash for Haggar.
—“They tried to audit me once,” Ruth confessed to a hotel maid, “but I put the kibosh on that and diverted the audit by slipping an herb concoction into the auditor’s tea which had an aphrodisiac effect.  Then I seducing him with what really turned him on–-new ideas for torturing an auditee (or candidate unwilling to release their tax returns for public dissection.)  One suggestion I made was that he strap the evasive taxpayer to a Delco battery and jolt the truth out of him for two hours while his property was sold at auction to a bunch of yard sale junkies.  The auditor was so excited by my concepts that he had to go back to his office to relieve himself with some day trading.”
—For Rubellah’s part, she worked part time as a self employed psychic hotline operator, so she could be near her children.  When the kids were out she told fortunes with her crystal ball in the Marriott ballroom.  Rubellah relished her job, and often repeated a favorite fortune for people she disliked, which was that their ambulance driver would favor the scenic route. But secretly she also longed for the old days, when her family danced and sang with Bollywood stars.
—As for Haggar, he found employment by becoming a reincarnation of The Prophet.  Simply by growing a long gray beard and calling himself Ahred Dustafo he was able to make a video tape dispensing Gibranesque wisdom, and was soon asked to speak at prestigious area colleges.  This, after trying other unsuccessful boasts, like claiming his grandfather was King of Liechtenstein.
—Haggar:  “Before I found this particular niche, I was bragging to everybody I met that granny played gin rummy with Queen Victoria, that our family psychiatrist was Freud himself, and that before I was ten I’d been on eighteen boxes of cereal, including Muselix.  But then I met a shoe salesman who told me his family was so rich once that even their butler drove a 1936 Auburn Speedster and had a winery in the Napa Valley he’d never seen.  I grew tired of my con job after that. And then one day when a hot dog vendor asked me the meaning of life, for some reason I told him I couldn’t tell him or he’d go mad, shave his head, and attack the Pope. Other people asked me even sillier questions, like why I wore a long white robe-–which was better to hide things under–-or why the city of Toledo is considered holy. This was the last straw.  It was time to get back to the old ways, to get on the move again, and to find happiness. So Rubellah bought me some Ben Gay for my hands, some iron-free cereal, and we gathered our children together and hit the road. I can’t tell you how good it felt to laugh and sing again as we danced our way across America, doing what we do best in the land of freebies and the home of the Atlanta Braves.”
—So confessed Haggar Deplorable in a letter to the Trump Tower doorman, explaining why they’d left, and how much they enjoyed trashing the room and insulting everyone.  And to this day it seems that everyone is looking for the clan, because we all need someone to blame. This may also be why politicians on both sides of the debate are suspicious of each other, and why they continue to talk about those despicable Deplorables.

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©2016 JLowe

The First Olympics

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Before the gladiators started sticking it to each other, before men in tight shorts started running and jumping around for the benefit lusting female fans, there were the Greek gods themselves. These were the original players, inspiration for the first game developers to keep the gods amused so they’d leave us the hell alone. Let the Games begin!

ZEUS:  The supreme ruler of heaven and earth from Mt. Olympus. Overthrew his father Cronus for the spot. Often cheated on his wife Hera, and was once forced to turn a lover into a cow to disguise her. (He might have turned a cow into a Jessica Simpson lookalike, as in “moooove over, Extreme Makeover,” but we’ll never know since Homer doesn’t tell us.)

POSEIDON:  Lord of the seas. Brother to Zeus, he cruised for chicks in an amphibious chariot pulled by mermaid-like horses with gold manes. This macho display of horsepower led to his scoring with the stunning Medusa in Athena’s temple. Too bad for Medusa, though, because when Athena found out, she turned her luscious tresses into snakes. From then on, anyone who looked at Medusa got turned to stone. (Was Athena jealous, or what??)

ATHENA:  Goddess of wisdom, peace and war. Scholars may debate whether she had the hots for Poseidon, but they generally agree she was one powerful and crafty bitch. She even went up against Poseidon once, and got the Parthenon built in her honor by the Athenians. Then, when she was challenged to a weaving competition by Arachne, she not only beat Arachne, but turned her into a spider to keep her weaving forever. (Now you know why Poseidon didn’t buy her any drinks.)

HADES.  God of the underworld, this brother of Zeus tormented hordes of sinners and fallen Demi-gods. For instance, for trying to trick the gods, Tantalus was placed before some fruit trees beside a lake, which disappeared or stretched away whenever he tried to eat or drink. (Hence, the word “tantalize.”) Sisyphus once snitched on the randy Zeus, and was doomed to push a boulder uphill, well, forever. Then, with Zeus’ permission, Hades kidnapped the beautiful Persephone for himself. . . that is, until her mother Demeter found out and brought winter on the world. That’s when Hades relented and let Persephone visit her a few months of the year. That’s also when crops were allowed to grow, and why we have what we now call “the seasons.” (Try telling that to Sports Illustrated, though!)

DEMETER:  Goddess of the harvest. (In case you were wondering.)

APHRODITE:  Goddess of love. One hot mama, Aphrodite nonetheless married an ugly, lame man because it made her seem all the more beautiful.  Still, she was no saint. (None of the gods were, by a long shot.) In a beauty pageant judged by a prince of Troy, Aphrodite won by bribing the judge with a beautiful woman of his own. She went on to have an affair with Ares, the god of war, that produced two offspring–Phobos and Deimos. (Meaning “Fear” and “Terror.”)

APOLLO:  God of music and poetry, Apollo was the original rock star of Ancient Greece. Young and handsome, he had groupies, a pre-Fender lyre given to him by Hermes, and numerous affairs with both women and men alike. (Naturally enough, one of his conquests was Dionysus, the god of wine.) His ill fated tryst with Cassandra, though, resulted in the fall of Troy when Apollo shot an arrow into the foot of a famous warrior named Achilles (to spite Cassandra after their nasty breakup.)

HERMES: The messenger god Hermes is the one to whom everyone drank, with hopes of receiving good luck in return. But one of his children was truly spooky.  Pan was half man and half goat (wonder how that happened?), and would follow people into the woods and play an insane but soft tune on a flute from somewhere behind them. This usually resulted in what became known as “panic.”

PROMETHEUS:  Legend has it that this god stole fire from Zeus and gave it to the humans he’d been empowered to create. This angered Zeus (the control freak), so Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock and let an eternally ravenous eagle feast on his liver forever.  (Do you see a pattern here?)  Zeus was not done there, either. Oh, no. He also gave a human named Pandora a box that looked like a present, and told her never to open it. When she did, evil and misery flew out, but not hope, which had no wings. (Zeus, you’re one sick, vindictive son-of-a-)

EROS:  At last, the god of love. Son of Aphrodite, Eros went around shooting arrows at people to get them hot and bothered. One time he shot Apollo, who fell in love with a river goddess named Daphne. But he shot Daphne with an arrow made of lead, which turned her off to him. So Daphne turned herself into a laurel tree, and that’s why Apollo began the custom of crowning the Olympic Games winners with laurel leaves. (Sorry, Daphne, you’ll grow more.)

ECHO:  This was a minor deity who was cursed by Hera, the wife of Zeus, after Echo delayed her with endless talking while she was trying to catch Zeus in the hay with some other forest nymphs.  After that, Echo couldn’t talk except in echoes, and so was rejected by Narcissus, the man she fell in love with.  After Echo ran off, other nymphs then cursed Narcissus so that he would only love himself, and so when he tried to kiss his own reflection in a pool, he fell in and drowned. (Nonetheless, he’s still Trump’s favorite.)

Flat Earth & the Role of Satire

AGTSATIRE: humor that uses exaggeration, wit, irony, and/or sarcasm to expose and discredit vice or folly. Humor with a point. It is a difficult medium to pull off well, and “whistleblowers” are frowned upon in our culture (except in sports, with real whistles), but some of the best literary figures in history employed satire as a means to keep the nation free of tyranny and repression. Voltaire, P.G. Wodehouse, Oscar Wilde, O. Henry, Lewis Carroll, George Orwell, Will Rogers, Charles Dickens, Ambrose Bierce, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Joseph Heller, Gore Vidal, Woody Allen, Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, the list goes on. Then there’s The Simpsons, Futurama, South Park, The Family Guy and other shows. Robin Williams said, “People say satire is dead. No, it’s alive and living in the White House.” (He was referring to Bush.) In this spirit I dedicated an ebook to Ray Bradbury, who answered every letter I wrote him with kindness and insight:  TrumpWorld: an Amazon alternate universe fantasy ebook in which Trump is homeless and living under a bridge in a cardboard box. (“Will Work For Votes.”) Of course Hillary is involved in scandals too, her “team” having dissed Sanders, and with Bill Clinton having endorsed tyrants in the past, along with signing the Glass Steagall repeal (written by the GOP), which let Wall Street do its shady deals and led to the collapse of 2008. These two are the only choices you have, and you have to decide! I prefer the Coffee Party (look it up.)  The World’s First Trillionaire  is satire about a dweeb named Howard Rosen, who explains to the Rolling Stone how he became Super Duper Rich (SDR), with extended lifespan, a yacht that is also a sub (with nuclear torpedoes), and why his mansions and luxury cars don’t show up on Google Maps. (Also, why the NSA fears him, although he prefers to walk or take a cab. LOL.) Regarding the Flat Earth, there are literally hundreds of videos on Youtube that support it, and Trump. They disbelieve anything science says about anything, not just global warming. NASA lies about everything, they say, and yet some use NASA photos of the moon in other videos showing strange UFOs there. (You can’t have it both ways.) I had a cover article in Sky & Telescope (read part of it here), and spent four hours driving in a van to the Mt. Graham telescope near Tucson with the director. Just him and me, discussing his work on the Hubble team, physics, the scientific method, plus his directing the Kitt Peak National Observatory. I’ve also written about Kitt Peak for other magazines, and conducted research at the library, besides reading dozens of books on the subject. My novel The Miraculous Plot of Leiter & Lott uses optical science and physics in its plot, and is set in Tucson and Dubai, which Neil deGrasse Tyson used as just one example to prove the curvature of the Earth from atop the Burj Khalifa (where you can see it.) Yet many Youtubers (who don’t read books and get their McNews there) believe bling-a-lings who cherry pick their “evidence” and don’t realize that real science is self correcting. Or the “History” Channel.  Scientists all want to win a Nobel Prize (instant fame, prestige and wealth), and they don’t do that by shouting, they do it by proving. We refuse to see the world except as a competition between teams, races, religions…our gut reaction is to take sides, throwing bombs (or, symbolically, footballs.) We memorize things by rote in school, look at Tweets and think we know far more than we do, but don’t learn to think. So we are impervious to changing our opinions (given to us by social media giants who track us and feed back to us only what we already like and believe, hiding everything else) even when presented with new evidence. The Bible says the Earth is flat? Please. Time to wake up and smell the dark roast.

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