The Laughingstock Guild


I believe somewhere back there, perhaps around the first impeachment of the former occupant of the White House, I mentioned that I thought a fitting purgatorial limbo land for his ass would be one where his name was scrubbed from the daily discourse for days and weeks on end. It is the attention he craves, and so it should be that it is attention that he does not get. I would like to hear that his neighbors in Palm Beach have won their fight to have him evicted from his resort for code non-compliance. I would like to hear that he has been convicted in his second impeachment trial, and I would like to hear that he as been banned for the rest of his days from holding any government office. It would be grand to hear that all the outstanding legal actions that have been piling up like so much rain behind the presidential immunity dam that is just about to be breached, were to then crack it all wide open and spill forth like legal, projectile vomit on and around, even if nowhere else, at least the haughty nucleus of the Drumpfian crime family, and sweep them all away to a lockup of their prosecutors’ discretion. I know that is a bit much to ask for, given the way things tend to go these days, but one can still hope.

I am tired of wasting my afternoons and evenings being bathed in teevee light, and the relentless soap sales that keep the light glowing and pulsing, all in pursuit of some resolution to this four year detour through someone else’s perverse reality.  As it is, in a nearly continuous succession of events over the past eight years, from recording and writing about the misguided malfeasance of Bill Ameling and David Hackett and Joe Wald as they ran roughshod over the democratic process as park commissioners and nearly bankrupted the Vashon Park District in pursuit of an overpriced athletic field, to fighting my sister and a prominent New Hampshire lawyer over what was left over from a promised but stolen inheritance that I was counting on to get through the rest of my days, to this latest, four year debasement of truth and reason wrought by an egomaniacal, delusional narcissist, I’m pretty much near done with believing that there is anything good left in the world. Whilst I do have an ongoing theory about stress and the creative process, it would be nice to have a little time where my reasons for creating are not fueled by disbelief at the madness of the world around me.

Back in ancient times, one of the alternative belief systems being sold on college campuses was a thing called Transcendental Meditation. It sounded interesting, the Beatles did it, it didn’t require lots of money or a cult-like adherence, so I gave it a try. All one had to do twice a day was to sit in a quiet place for fifteen or twenty minutes and silently repeat to yourself your own private mantra. There has been some questioning discussion over the years as to whether or not your mantra was actually unique to you or not- you weren’t supposed to reveal to anyone else what the mantra you had been given by the instructor was. It really didn’t matter. I would drift off twice daily to a place of calm and return to the world with a more relaxed perspective. I was consistent with my practice, and at one point a few months into it I felt as though I was floating at two different levels. A friend who started at the same time was jealous when I told him. I wasn’t smug about it, but I wasn’t wandering around in a cloud of eternal bliss either. I just did it, till I didn’t.

I don’t recall what it was that made me stop, I just stopped. I didn’t feel very different, but I did notice a curious coincidence that I came to attribute to my stopping. I was in the studio art program in college, and one thing I did notice when I began my meditating practice was that I had all the patience in the world when I was in my drawing classes. I am not a great draftsman, but I found that sitting and studying the subjects and attempting to transfer that vision to paper was an easy exercise in patience and observation. What I was also noticing was that in my classes where an idea was required to generate one’s next piece, I would look within, or wherever that creative base and drive was supposed to be, and all I could see was a giant void. It was kind of frustrating.

Again, I don’t remember that I quit meditating because of this, but when I did quit, within a couple of days the random ideas one associates with the creative process began to pop back in with no effort or inducement. It was as if the ideas for silkscreen prints and sculptures were sketching themselves onto what I could have only seen before this as blank pages.  And so it was that I began to think about the relationship between stress or the lack of it and the creative process. Throughout the whole ordeal with my sister, in the times I could not sleep I found myself making photos at night with long exposures that revealed a scene that had been barely illuminated in the dead of night and now, thanks to exposures from a few seconds to five minutes, a fully lit view of that space emerged. It wasn’t intentional, and I hadn’t really thought about the whole metaphor of finding light in darkness as totally relevant to my daily life. At the same time I started to dabble in constructed, photoshopped images- assembling scenes of my sister and brother in law and the offending lawyer, placing them in prison garb and slogan t-shirts that I found relevant to the time and their actions. They weren’t great, but they did help as a bit of a release, even if they didn’t have any influence on the final outcome.

It has also been mentioned here before that photography has been an escape in these times of plague and societal collapse. If nothing else, this pursuit has gotten me out of the house, away from the teevee and allowed me to make new friends in the wildish kingdom with the likes of snakes, frogs, slugs, aquatic newts and hummingbirds, not to mention the flowers, leaves and branches. This exercise has had the added benefit of being somewhat of a nature study, as repeated visits with all these creatures- mostly small- has revealed some curious habits out in the habitat. As I went out each time to perhaps take advantage of a change in light, I came to recognize that each of the creatures had assumed an assigned space. It wasn’t rigid, and sometimes it was shared, but on repeat visits to all of them I knew fairly assuredly where and when I might find them, and what the boundaries were that I couldn’t cross if I wanted to maintain our photographer/model relationship.

As the time crept into the days of less light, cooler temperatures and damper ambience, I found myself making fewer excursions out of doors, either with or without a camera. It was also at this time, if you have been following along on the political timeline, that tensions in that realm tended toward a bit more tenseness. I was feeling the need for artistic release and not getting my daily dose of camera/tripod/shutter release cable. And so it was that I started combing through the images that I have been grabbing from the internet’s dungeons and selecting an array of potential pieces for photoshoppish assemblage. As this is not something I do on a regular basis, I had kind of forgotten the essentials of photo copying and pasting, and so I decided this would be a good opportunity to hone another skill that might come in handy elsewhere. I took themes that had been building in Memeland like #loser and #presidenteject and an excursion to Loserland where one might have an encounter with the Laughingstock Guild.

This last one was shared by Wendy’s dad, and it elicited some responses from some of his way right of center acquaintances. One of them mentioned something about hoping that I would be happy when in the not too distant future the price of gas was back up to six dollars a gallon, and that I was ready to once again accept the wandering hordes of immigrants that were likely to be streaming over the southern border to, once again, steal our jobs. Having blocked most of such nonsense from my facebooks by deleting unfriends, I had mostly forgotten that stupid still cannot be fixed. Actually, that is not true. There is new news that confirms that every day.  News just broke that Steve Bannon was just pardoned to preempt any conviction he might face in a yet undecided case against him for his efforts to scam money out of loyal supporters of the grifter in chief, in order to build the border wall that Mexico was supposedly going to pay for.

With his recent and far-too late departure from the twitter, not to mention his resounding electoral defeat that he continues to deny, the omnipresence of the maga- maestro will now hopefully, quickly wane and fade away. This will not make me sad. What does sadden me is that we have gotten from Donald Trump exactly what he said he would deliver us from- American Carnage- and at the same time thoroughly deliver on the promise of a deconstruction of the administrative state. That there are 74,223,251 American voters out there that still believe after four years of witnessing this madness that what Trump wrought upon these people, our people, us, is okay with them, is evidence that we still have a long way to go before we are done with this, if indeed we ever will be. That instead of just one dead person on Fifth Avenue in New York City by his gun-toting, fictional hand, the incompetence and indifference of Donald Trump toward the well-being of the American people in the face of the current pandemic has led to the deaths of 396,442 U.S. citizens as of 19 Jan. 2021 at 11:12pm eastern time, and by this we have one more bit of evidence that is yet another affirmation, if not indictment, of the dissonant, dystopic reign of Trump. It is going to take a lot more than clever, caustic memes to get us out of all of this. Hopefully this numerological palindrome of a day- 1202021- will at least be a start towards, and back to, something better. But if there is no accounting for the lies and hypocrisy of some business and governmental leaders and what in some places passes as the news, we will fade away as a failed democracy and a laughingstock on the world stage.