Category Archives: Books

“The Comedian As Letter N” on MAGRA RADIO

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Paul Vangelisit’s MAGRA RADIO recorded the first version of “The Comedian as Letter N” about a year and a half ago. I expanded the piece slightly after it was first broadcast, and Paul Vangelisti, the producer, decided that we should rerecord it. Here is the link to the revised monologue.

This particular piece is different from anything else I’ve written in the past half-century. I mention this because I appear to be part of a “very small number” of people who are “actually creative” in old age. Unfortunately, this number is so minuscule as to not warrant any meaningful effort by the federal government to sustain our lives past a certain age. While mandatory euthanasia is not yet on the drawing boards, the drumbeat to categorize the elderly as disposable is gaining momentum within the inner circle of Biden’s first presidential appointments. Given that Biden is in his late 70s, it seems rather ironic that someone such as Ezekiel Emanuel now has a position of authority that he can use to demonize those who are on the wrong side of 75.

“There are not that many people who continue to be active and engaged and actually creative past 75. It’s a very small number. . . . . If you look at really smart people, there aren’t that many writing brand-new books after 75, and really developing new areas where they are leading thinkers. They tend to be re-tilling familiar areas that they’ve worked on for a long time.”
— Ezekiel Emanuel, one of Biden’s top advisors on COVID

Now I’ll grant that I’m not one of the “really smart people” who is developing an intriguing domain of knowledge in which I am a “leading thinker.” However, at age 73, I expect to continue working full-time and contribute to the well-being of other people who are in need of my financial support. If, in supporting myself and others, I have enough time left over to write poems and monologues that are different from what I have written before, have I not earned the right to enough medical attention to enable me to enjoy a year or two of creative effort unimpeded by my job at the very end of my life? There are projects I will not be able to finish unless I have at least one year, if not two years, of time to give to their completion.

Emanuel has said that he would feel he had lived a “complete life” by 75. Only someone who has benfited from an obnoxious amount of privilege could say that. The “character” who speaks in “The Comedian as Letter N” is at the other end of the spectrum and knows full well the meaning of an incomplete life. I hope some of the jokes make you smile, at least briefly.

Three Prose Poems by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Sunday, November 8, 2020

The newly completed bridge that spans the first half of the trip from Long Beach to San Pedro may not inspire anyone to write a poem as memorable as Hart Crane’s “To Brooklyn Bridge,” but it certainly is a relief to be able to drive to the Loft studio without being subjected to the alternate route that ran in a zig-zag parallel fashion the past several years. Alexis Rhone Fancher recently made a trip across the bridge and used her vantage point as a passenger to take the above picture, which she shared with Linda and me the other evening.

In honor of a rare chance for Linda and me to spend some socially distanced time with two dear friends, I am reprinting three prose poems by Alexis Rhone Fancher.

*. *. *. *

Midnight In The Backyard of Lust and Longing

The sapphists are at it again. Screw you’s! ricochet off our common walls, invectives landmine my window. You cheating bitch! Like clockwork, this drunken Friday night climax to their ceaseless lovers’ quarrel. I’ll kill you! I hear the big one growl. And then the smashed plates, the screams. By the time the cops arrive it’s a full-out brawl, the two women spilling from their back door, tussling across the no man’s land between their tiny backyard and mine. Worse than animals. This time it’s Holly, the younger one, dragged to the patrol car, yellow hair wilding, small hands cuffed behind her back, kicking at the cops in those Daisy Dukes, an army jacket waifing her silhouette. More clothes than she had on the last time the cops rolled up. Or the time before. It’s almost dawn, and the trees shiver in the fog, raccoons slink through the tall grass. Marie, Holly’s better half, paces the yard in a blue bathrobe and slippers, smoking a cigarette, sobbing as the cops jam her lover into their car. Watch her head! she cries, and flings herself across the yard, lunges for Holly through the glass. Baby! Baby! she sobs, the reason for their discord forgotten. Holly mouths a sloppy kiss. Marie opens her robe, presses herself against the glass. Can you believe it? I would give anything to be loved like that.

©Alexis Rhone Fancher. First published in Slipstream Summer 2019

Don’t Wash

“I’m returning in three days. Don’t wash.”*

I touch myself so I can savvy what you rut in. Bring my fingers to my mouth, imagine you in our bed, returned from the three-day fray, redolent of the weight of the world, and me, your dirty, dirty girl, naked, eager, as you make your way down, breathing in my hair, my lips, the sweet spot where neck meets collarbone. I’ve made a religion of your fantasies, a science of what you desire. That ferine moan, my always startled gasp at first thrust. I angle, cocked hips, a bit askew. How I arch for maximum penetration, hands pushing against your chest, while my thighs pull you in. Our bed is a rocket launch, a bacchanal, a pelican’s steep dive into the sea. I revel in that you revel in me. A lifetime away from Michael, my first love, that long ago when I’d used the freshening wipe before I arrived, so as not to offend. I’d spread myself wide on his bed, confident, watching the top of his head (black curls) as he explored me — that fear of not being Summer’s Eve™ fresh, worried my pussy might disenchant, the musk of me — all wiped away. He raised his head. Next time, Michael said, once he’d tasted me. Don’t wash.

*From a love letter Napoleon sent to Josephine

©Alexis Rhone Fancher. Published in SWWIM, Summer, 2020

Power Play

When my lover tells me I cannot say no, and I protest, she parts my legs, says yes, baby. Yes. I do what I’m told. No becomes a foreign country. I take it as permission. Open season. So when the waiter asks if there’ll be anything else, I peruse his menu. I’m stuffed, but I say yes, cram my mouth with macaroons and chocolate. And when the Lyft driver seduces me in the rear-view, eyes me like prey, asks, May I kiss you? I say yes. And when the long-legged woman I’ve long lusted after at the gym wonders aloud if I’m single, asks me to dinner and a movie, I say yes. And when she invites me into her bed, what can I say but yes, yes, yes? And when my fan in Nova Scotia begs me to be his muse, to sanction an explicit ode to my breasts, my ankles, my lower lip, a poem he’d never show his wife, I cannot say no to his lust and delusion. Now he wants to climb me, sublime me, shoot me full of stars. Is this what you want, too? he writes, and I answer yes. And when I return to my lover at last and she sinks into the heady dampness between my thighs, looks up at me and asks, Have you been faithful? I say, Yes.

©Alexis Rhone Fancher. Published in Harbor Review, 2020, nominated for Best of the Net, 2020.


ALEXIS RHONE FANCHER is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Poetry East, Hobart, VerseDaily, American Journal of Poetry, Duende, SWWIM, Plume, Diode, Pedestal Magazine, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles, and elsewhere. She’s authored five published poetry collections, most recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), and The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press, 2019). EROTIC: New & Selected, from New York Quarterly, and another full-length collection (in Italian) by Edizioni Ensemble, Italia, will both be published in early 2021. Her photographs are published worldwide, including River Styx, and the covers of Pithead Chapel, Heyday and Witness. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly.

Here’s a link for all but one of her books on

Her books can also be found on Amazon:

Self-Portrait by Alexis Rhone Fancher, (c) 2019.

Frack You, Trump: Admit You Lost

November 7, 2020

Joseph R. Biden is President-Elect of the United States; Kamala Harris is Vice-President-Elect: Stay Tuned for a Socially Distance Inauguration!

Over 140,000,000 votes were cast by Election Day, November 3, 2020 to determine the presidency of the United States. On Thursday, November 5th, the New York Times noted that Biden’s margin in the popular vote was at 3.8 million votes, “which, if it holds, will make this the second election where Mr. Trump lost the popular vote.” The Times did not provide any historical context for that observation; for that, I refer you to my post of a few days ago (“For the First Time Since 1956!). Biden’s margin grew to 4,100,000 within 24 hours and has stayed in that vicinity since then.

However, the vote count that would determine the winner of the Electoral College amounted to only two percent of that popular vote margin. Trump pulled off his totally unexpected victory by a margin of about 80,000 votes in so-called “swing states” in 2016. This time, the same margin was at work, only it swung in Biden’s favor. It is a mark of the fragility of America’s policies that political power is determined by a fraction of the vote count so minuscule as to be seemingly inconsequential.

Trump is not admitting defeat, even though he has received only 47.7 percent of the popular vote, and Biden has received a majority (50.5 percent). Once again, let’s consider context:

Jimmy Carter won the 1976 election with 50.8 percent of the popular vote.
Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election with 50.75 percent of the popular vote.
George W. Bush won his second term in office in 2004 with 50.73 percent of the popular vote.
Joseph R. Biden will win the 2020 election with approximately 50.5 percent of the popular vote.

The only presidents in recent decades to break the 51 percent threshold are Ronald Reagan in 1984 and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Like Trump, Bill Clinton did not even get 49 percent of the popular vote in either of his successful campaigns for the presidency. The inability of Bill Clinton to get at least 50.1 percent of the vote should have been a warning to anyone considering her viability as a successful candidate. That she was qualified to be President is not the issue. Her husband’s political unpopularity was a factor little discussed, though in the aftermath of her defeat, one could not help wondering how much it might have helped if she had divorced him in 1998. For that matter, if Bill Clinton hadn’t been such a selfish politician, in refusing his resign, Al Gore would not have lost the 2000 election.

Biden’s margin of victory in the popular vote is slightly smaller than that of Carter, Reagan, and Bush in the elections just cited, but it is within the normal range of a victorious margin. Only an abnormal politician would not recognize what the vote count indicates, and Trump is only embellishing a Hall of Shame record for abnormality as a president.

Frack you, Trump. Admit you lost. Reserve your dwindling funds for legal assistance in cases that will soon become far more pressing and consequential for you as a private citizen.

BACKSTORY at the Victory Theater: “Honorable Discharge: I Want My Life Back”

Friday, November 6, 2020

“Backstory” is a series of presentations by the Victory Theater in Los Angeles in which writers and actors focus on a single theme in monologues that are presented in the theater itself. With the onset of the pandemic, “Backstory” shifted to Zoom. I was asked last spring to be part of its first online show, which was going to be devoted to “The Ten Commandments.” I chose “Honor Thy Father and Mother,” and read a piece entitled “Honorable Discharge: I Want My Life Back.”

Here is the link to “BACKSTORY”:

“Honorable Discharge: I Want My Life Back”

The photograph on top is the front of the skilled nursing facility in which my mother died in August, 2019; at the top of the photograph, one can see the theater masks I refer toward the end of my prose introduction to my poem “Wrinkles.”
The bottom photograph is of the Wood Rose, which made its debut as a seedling several months ago.

For the First Time Since 1956! (Trump joins a very exclusive club!)

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020: For the First Time Since 1956!

Trump Loses the National Popular Vote — For the Second Time in a Row

Twenty years ago, George W. Bush lost the national popular vote, but won the electoral college.

Four years ago, Donald J. Trump lost the national popular vote, but won the electoral college.

This year, Donald J. Trump is going to lose the national popular vote, probably by over FIVE MILLION VOTES. Whether Joseph Biden or Trump will win the electoral college depends on the less than a million of the currently uncounted votes (at 9 a.m. Pacific Time, 11/4).

To win the electoral college, Trump must win the popular vote in two out of three states: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. This looks increasingly unlikely, since Wisconsin is heading in Biden’s direction by a very thin margin, and the same is true in Michigan. I am (as if you couldn’t tell) so nervous about the outcome that I’m not certain I’ll believe that Biden won until the final tabulation plays out on Inauguration Day in 2021.

In the meantime, it can’t be said often enough:

Trump is the first presidential candidate to lose the popular vote in two consecutive national elections since Adlai Stevenson (in 1952 and 1956).


At the top of the hour, and at every post-advertising rebooting of a media broadcast, the “talking head” should lead with the statement:

For the second national election in a row, Donald Trump has lost the national popular vote.

Again and again.

It’s particularly important the television and radio stations reiterate this so that the millions of people who supported Trump come to terms with this fact and let its significance sink in. Trump has often boosted, “I’m not a politician.” Ha! As if losing the popular vote two times in a row didn’t make that perfectly clear.

Trump’s supporters cannot dispute this fact without engaging in enormous self-deception. Some no doubt will succumb to that temptation, but as Joseph Hansen had his character David Brandstetter say, “Emotions doesn’t change facts.”

Trump has lost the national popular vote for the second time in a row. He’s not the first to do so, and it will probably be another half-century before another presidential candidate comes up short repeatedly.

If it’s any consolation to Trump’s supporters, the margin of Eisenhower’s victory over Stevenson was much larger than Clinton’s and Biden’s margin of victory. With a much smaller electorate, Eisenhower defeated Stevenson in 1952 and 1956 by an average of 8,000,000 votes.

Encore: Trump’s “Concession Speech” — November 4, 2020

Monday, November 2, 2020

Over three months ago, I posted an entry with an account of a scenario that has gained in probability the past several weeks. While this entry remains also posted at its original spot in this blog’s carousel of entries, I thought I would move it up to the day before our votes start being counted. Or should I say, discounted, since a certain percentage of the population receives a less than proportionate share of power in determining the outcome. Anyone who doesn’t know about the discrepancy between California’s and Wyoming’s share of the Electoral College is either living in denial, or willfully ignorant of the consequences of decisions made by the White Supremacist Party (aka “Founding Fathers”) when the Constitution was ratified.

The only significant revision to the original posting is an updated calculation of the ongoing vote count announced by Rachel Maddow.

So, without further ado, encore!

Originally posted: Sunday, July 26, 2020

(CRYSTAL BALL: Trump’s “Concession Speech — November 4, 2020)

Now that we are officially less than 100 days away from the national election on Tuesday, November 3, it’s time to look into the crystal ball of my computer screen, and view how it plays out the day afterwards.

Date: November 4, 2020
Time: 8 p.m. (West Coast Time)
“Place”: MSNBC TV studio
Rachel Maddow on the screen, speaking to the camera

“Good evening. The polls have been closed for 24 hours. It is Wednesday, November 4th, 8 p.m. East Coast Standard Time, and we have yet to hear from President Trump. His campaign has announced that Vice-President Pence will be speaking soon at Trump’s re-election headquarters.

“The current results show a national vote total of 72,396,072 votes for Joe Biden and 61,048,753 for Donald Trump. It should be noted that Biden’s vote total is six million greater than Barack Obama’s in 2012, as well as more than six million votes greater than the total number cast for Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College. Donald Trump has so far received one million less votes than he did in 2016. His campaign simultaneously claims that a huge number of mail-in ballots in his favor remain to be counted, while also asserting that the mail-in ballots constitute the most egregious instance of voter fraud in electoral history.”

(Rachel Maddow continues speaking as the cameras shift to a POV shot of the stage and central podium of the Donald Trump re-election headquarters. The tops of heads of some of the audience are visible in the foreground.)

“We go now to Trump’s re-election headquarters, where his son, Donald Trump, Jr., is about to introduce the Vice-President.”

(Crowd noise: “Forty More Years! Forty More Years!” Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” plays in the background.)

Donald Trump, Jr. strides to the podium: “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.” (He repeats these three sentences sixteen times.) Crowd continues to chant: “Forty more years! Forty more years!”

“I will begin…

(crowd continues chanting… “Forty more years! Forty more years!”)

“I will begin…. (Crowd begins to calm and the noise level slowly subsides.) I will begin this evening by asking all of you to join me in saying the Pledge of Allegiance and I am sure there is no here tonight who will take a knee and act ashamed of being an American citizen. Let us all stand straight and tall.

“”I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

“We also pledge allegiance to elections free of fraud, deceit, and manipulation. My father and I have had a chance to review the ongoing results of the reelection of Donald Trump and found even more massive amounts of brazen irregularities than we anticipated, especially in the states that constitute the swing vote in the Electoral College. We have filed demands for recounts as well as legal reviews of all of these attempts to subvert the will of the people and will be monitoring the outcome until we satisfied with the final report.

“My father has given his all to the cause of American renewal and unprecdented prosperity. I can assure you that he is not going away. You remain utmost in his thoughts. I now call upon Vice-President Pence to address you about plans to hold rallies in the next two weeks. At these gatherings, which you will have to present proof of non-vaccination in order to be admitted, the President will speak about our efforts to insure that no future election will ever have to endure such perverse treason by those who claim to be citizens, but who hate our country. May God bless all of you who love this country, and may He keep this nation ever in His care. God doesn’t back down, and neither do we!”

Vice-President Pence takes the stage….
“Our President both needs and wants your prayers. In specifically asking for this tonight, he hopes that God will guide him in the coming weeks, as he undertakes to save this country from succumbing to the deceptive campaign and falsified voting totals being touted by a poltical party known for its self-serving, radical left-wing, socialist agenda.”

Etc. Etc.

(Stay tuned.)

November 3rd, The 10th Anniversary of My Near-Death

POSTED — Sunday, November 1, 2020

Re: Tuesday, November 3, 2020

For at least 150,000,000 people in the United States, today is the culmination of a long overdue reckoning. The U.S. Senate, which was gerrymandered according to race, gender, and class from the start by the so-called “Founding Fathers,” may have refused to find Trump guilt at the impeachment trial, but the voters in this country now have a chance to beat the odds of the GOP’s massive voter suppression efforts and to denounce the attempts of the current president of the United States to become a dictator-in-residence in Washington, D.C.

For me, however, November 3rd marks another turning point. In the summer of 2010, while I was teaching at Idyllwild, I began to feel brief, intermittent pains in my chest and all the way down my arms. I went to my doctor and reported these pains as they began to increase in intensity. Over a period of three months — August, September, and October — I received a series of tests, each of which I had to wait for the insurance company’s approval. The pains continued to increase. Finally, in the last week of September, I was told by my doctor that the problem wasn’t in my heart, but in my stomach. Two days later, I remember sitting on my sofa, weeping out of the pain I felt. I wasn’t weeping from emotional pain. I’m talking about the physical pain.

Finally, on November 3rd, 2010, I went to the hospital’s emergency room and demanded that they find out what was wrong. About an hour later, my wife Linda was informed that one of my arteries was 90 percent blocked.

When I noticed several months ago that Election Day in 2020 fell on November 3rd, I couldn’t help but think of America’s political health as being in the same critical shape as my occasion ten years ago. We are facing a life-and-death situation. It is literally true: “Vote as if your life depends on it,” because this time it does. Our votes will determine whether democracy suffers an infarction on November 3rd. The CEOs and billionaires who have benefitted from Trump’s largesse may not have listened to us as they went about plundering the social and environmental ecology, but a vote is about to be tallied that cannot be ignored. Surgery should not be delayed. As soon as our votes has diagnosed the problem, the remedy should be administered. (I believe that “votes” is a collective noun.)

As of November 1st, over 90,000,000 votes have been cast. Let us finish the job on November 3rd, and let us never again cease to be vigilant.

The Rental Class: “On Jasmine, in Palms”

Saturday, October 31, 2020

One aspect of Charles Olson’s poetry that turned out to be very influential in the Venice West scene was his interest in recording the dailiness of the neighborhood. Venice has completely transmogrified in the past sixty years and many adjacent neighborhoods have experienced various degrees of gentrification, too. Recently a poet named William Slattery sent me a poem about the neighborhood he lived in a quarter-century or so ago, and I thought I would share his candid recollections.

It’s Halloween today, and I have no intention of opening the door tonight to anyone who might believe that going house to house during a pandemic is an exercise in social responsibility. If there are to be people roaming about, let it be the people you knew years ago, remembered as William Slattery does in this memoir-in-verse.

I am also publishing this piece as part of the context as we rapidly head toward the final day of voting in this year’s national election. “The Rental Class” is the one of several classes that are rarely invoked when one is talking national politics, and yet the inability to escape the confinement of renting most certainly shapes one’s likelihood of voting. How can a vote make things better when nothing a politician does ever shifts the terms by which those who have property are far more privileged. No matter what your race, renting is not a proof of privilege.

I rent. I vote. I expect no improvement in the reprehensible health care that my insurance at work provides (Blue Shield — what a pathetic joke!) nor do I expect any improvement in the quality of air that I breathe. Will the person running to represent my district in Long Beach really address the parking issues? Such minor things as parking do matter, but even they are very unlikely to alter for the better.

Nevertheless, I voted. Whether Slattery’s neighbors are still alive and going to vote, I cannot say. Here, at least, is one of a hundred million backstories for what will unfold in the week ahead.

*. *. *. *. *

GUEST POET: William Slattery

On Jasmine, in Palms
Los Angeles, 1990s

zee . . . zee . . . zee . . .

alarm clock drags me to the beach
foaming with sheets, two small furry
seal pups wriggling toward body heat

lick open my eyes: they are dachshunds
and it is morning. Up and out . . .

large woman and gimp Shar-Pei
lunge toward us through the morning’s gray,
the black dog bounding in awkward joy
on its three good feet, fourth held weightless . . .

seizes my hand in its feather-soft mouth
while neighbor-lady makes earnest noise
to share the smallest things she knows . . .

my dogs ignore the whole commotion

7 a.m.:
the hard-faced black lady from apartment 3
strides past me, eyes averted. Five years
we’ve lived forty feet apart: once
she murmured hello, twice met my eyes,
and, every other day, stomped past
as if she were Jewish and I sold gas . . .

I don’t know why she acts this way:
because I’m white . . .
a man . . .
or me . . .

the serious couple from number 5
working with rakes and a water hose:
whacking at weeds, wetting down plants,
washing the sidewalk clean of dirt . . .

they never talk to each other or me
(their poor English, my poor Spanish)
but we give each other eyes of love . . .

and their little boy adores my dogs

Eva’s got to practice . . .

operatic soprano voice
climbing the scales until they break

it’s Tony’s turn . . .
he’s her husband, plays piano.
They’re music majors at UCLA,
perform duets, piano and voice,
for money here and in China
where Eva was born . . .

A difficult passage
from a classical piece, tried again and again
but never complete . . . Tony’s practice:
he works and works and works at tunes.
I’ve never once heard him play for fun . . .

courtyard divided by a fence . . .
out my one window, I look across
to my apartment’s mirror image
where the party dudes are waking up . . .

groaning, coughing, trying to remember . . .

“Did you see that one chick dancing naked
on the table before I threw up
all over her feet and she pissed in my eye?”

They hang out on the landing, smoking
with the two women who live next door
with their three kids and one sometime-
boyfriend they share between them, who
fathered two of their kids and scrounges
cigarettes from the party dudes . . .

all day, all night, someone’s crying
in that apartment: one of the kids,
one of the women, two of the women,
all of the kids . . .

never Boyfriend . . .

he disappears a lot of the time
to stay with another girl he loves . . .

but now he’s talking very intensely
in that rumble voice they lean close to hear . . .

Lydia, the little Latina
so pretty my body goes into shock
each time she smiles and tosses a wave,
opens the door to her husband’s knock . . .

“Lydia, I brought you money.
Let me in, honey, to see the kids.”
She grabs the check and slams the door.

“Lydia, what did I do?” he cries
out loud, then whispers: “Fucking bitch . . .”

Tony’s students
start to show up, one per hour,
children learning to play piano:
“Chopsticks,” “Chopsticks,” “Chopsticks,” “Chopsticks”

Six p.m.:
dressed in their best,
Boyfriend and the younger, cuter
of the two mothers (she’s seventeen)
float out the door and down the stairs.
She’s keenly excited, going out
on the arm of this handsome man
into a night so rich with promise . . .

her dress, his skin, the sky black velvet

they’re already back
and parked on the steps to leave the kids
and older girlfriend out of their fight.
She’s whining “What did I do?” and he’s
smoking, not talking, and she’s all
“I don’t understand. Talk to me, honey . . .”

and I’m trying so hard not to listen . . .

the harder I try, the harder I listen . . .

then there’s a sound, it sounds like a slap,
now she’s crying, first it’s surprise
then there’s another sound, it’s a thump

her gasp . . .
her footsteps running . . .
footsteps running after . . .
back to
the alley and I’m out my door
to the wall that divides their side from mine
and Boyfriend turns to me, rumbling voice
“Can I help you?”

(I’m so damned glad that wall is there . . .)

but I see her
crumpled on the ground behind him,
black velvet dress on black asphalt
all splashed in tears, black pool of tears . . .

and Boyfriend’s waiting for me to back off
or make my move . . .
but I just stand
right where I am to softly say

“I thought I might help you . . .”

Ten p.m.:
very quiet.

Four in the morning:
eyeball my walls
visibly shaking from music so loud
that lights snap on around the courtyard . . .

it’s the screenwriter straight below me . . .

but no one shouts “Asshole” or pounds on his door:
maybe we all know Van Morrison
that loud, that late,
means he’s trying to save his life.

— — — — — — — — —

William Slattery

120 hours to read “HOLDTHELINE”: A Guide in Case the Unthinkable Happens Again

Thursday, October 29, 2020

ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY HOURS FROM NOW, at 8 p.m. (West Coast time), on Tuesday, November 3, we will begin finding out how our fellow citizens in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Arizona feel about the current occupant of the White House. He must win all five states. I know people have fretted about Pennsylvania falling into Trump’s column again, but a narrow victory in Pennsylvania will mean nothing if he does not also win all four of the other states in my list.

Over 80,000,000 million people have already cast their vote and it is extraordinarily unlikely that the majority of those votes were for Trump. He is most certainly going to lose the national popular vote, but even though it’s a 10-to-1 bet that Trump wins the electoral college, the nightmare scenario could happen.

To help prepare for that outside chance, I recommend that you start reading the following:

Dodgers Win the World Series — NOW VOTE! (No excuse to wait any longer!)

October 20, 1988 – October 27, 2020

I was still 40 years old the last time the Dodgers won the World Series. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 32 years and one week since that triumphant moment. In the interim, I’ve been happy to see other cities have a chance to celebrate a championship, and I hope that we in Los Angeles will not be begrudged this moment. Here is a list of the teams that have won the World Series since 1988:

Washington Nationals; Boston Red Sox (three times); San Francisco Giants (three times); Houston Astros; Kansas City Royals; Chicago Cubs; Philapdelphia Pillies; St. Louis Cardinals (twice); Chicago White Sox; Florida Marlins; Anaheim Angels; Arizona Diamondbacks; Atlanta Braves; Toronto Blue Jays, and the Minnesota Twins. Yeah, and some team named the New York Yankees (five times).

Less than two weeks after that World Series championship in 1988, though, Michael Dukakis lost the president election to George Herbert Walker Bush, in large part because he failed to capitalize on his successful convention. Instead of hitting the campaign trail with the vigor he showed in the final ten days of the campaign, Dukakis went home to Massachusetts and resumed acting like a governor. If you want to be President, it helps if you commit to leading the nation with urgent sagacity from the very moment you are acclaimed the nominee. Dukakis let us all down, and it was a sour end to the year.

The Lakers won a championship in 1988, too, and since they won in 2020, I fear that this dual claiming of sports trophies again might presage a Republican victory in the Presidential race. I choose not to be superstitious, however.

Each of us is the “Tenth Man” in this election. The Democrats have a team of candidates for the White House and Senate that may be far from perfect, but they will help us reclaim our dignity as a nation allegedly devoted to some minimal form of democracy. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET VOTED, GET IT DONE! Almost SEVENTY MILLION of your fellow Americans have cast their ballots already. By tomorrow, it will be over 75 million. WHAT ARE YOU WAIITNG FOR? Nobody wins a prize for being the 100,000,000th voter. Make sure your ballot arrives by Monday, November 2nd. Otherwise, you may have to wait as long as any team not named above for something resembling dignified governance to emerge again in the United States of America.

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