Thursday, November 29, 2018


The year winds down and the prize-givers limber up.  It's time for another season of "Here's Your Award, Choke On It."

Most awards are vaguely controversial, at least among those who don't win.  "It's an honor just to be nominated" may be the most dishonest sentence in the English language.  But this year, in keeping with the national mood of simmering rage, every piece of honorary bric-a-brac seems to be trailing drops of blood and specks of saliva.  For example, the Mystery Writers of America are giving their Edgar Award to Linda Fairstein, presumably because they like her crime novels.  Before she turned to fiction, Fairstein was the Manhattan assistant district attorney who prosecuted the Central Park Five, the Latino and African American teenagers accused of raping and nearly killing a jogger in 1989.  Their convictions were vacated in 2002 when another man confessed, and after they had spent nearly thirteen years in prison.  I can understand why this case continues to anger people, especially since Fairstein maintains that the five somehow "participated" in the crime.  Donald Trump goes further (of course), insisting even now that the men should be executed.  Well, if he can't stand to admit he was spectacularly wrong, why should she?  And what has any of this to do with Fairstein's abilities as a novelist?  The MWA aren't naming her Humanitarian of the Year.

We have already seen what Trump considers to be outstanding service to America -- earlier this month he handed out Presidential Medals of Freedom just like a real president.  Well, sort of.  The lucky winners included Orrin Hatch, now ending his career as a reliably far-right monster; Antonin Scalia, already ended; Roger Staubach and Alan Page of the NFL Hall of Fame (Page also served as a judge); Elvis Presley (sure, why not?); Babe Ruth (but not Rogers Hornsby, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Roberto Clemente, Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson...); and most egregiously Miriam Adelson.  Adelson is a physician and researcher, but nobody doubted for a second that she was honored for being married to Sheldon Adelson, sugar-daddy to the right.  (If this were Britain they'd be Baron and Baroness Baccarat or something.)  Freedom's just another word for "keep those checks coming."

Trump presided over the event with his customary Friars Club-roast panache, leering at Mrs. Scalia's fecundity, singling out Hatch's most important quality ("He likes me") and generally making every non-Trumpanzee who witnessed the proceedings yearn for the eloquence and grace of George W. Bush.  The award to Elvis must have triggered one of his lone remaining synapses, because weeks later, campaigning for Cindy Hyde-Smith in Tupelo, he suddenly remembered that in his youth he was often mistaken for Elvis.  The sneer, I'm guessing.  Once again the Kennedy Center Honors will be celebrated in the blessed absence of Trumps, and probably not just because they can't be arsed.  The host will be Gloria Estefan, and even if she is from Cuba, she is the face of naturalized immigrant America and everything Trump hates.  Philip Glass?  Wayne Shorter?  Who the hell are they?  Cher?  She must be like a hundred.  The creators of "Hamilton," the show where the audience and the cast all tried to kill Mike Pence?  No thanks.  That just leaves Reba McEntire.  Does she like me?

For comic relief we turn to Mexico, still unwalled, whose outgoing president is having fun with the people who didn't re-elect him by presenting the Order of the Aztec Eagle -- and remember, I'm making none of this up -- to slumlord-in-law Jared Kushner.  He credits the s-i-l with exercising "restraint" which kept Mexico in NAFTA, or whatever non-Clintonian name it carries now, and with preventing a full-scale US invasion.  Imagine what the House of Saud owes him.


Blogger The New York Crank said...

We need a Political Dada Award, to honor the politicians whose public (and perhaps also private) behavior reflects the mocking-but-meaningless artwork of the now somewhat forgotten post-WWI artistic movement founded by Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Hugo Ball and others.

Donald Trump, of course, wins the First Prize, a signed, wall-mounted urinal (à la Duchamp) hands down in both the Public Speaking and the Strategic Thinking categories. But below him it's anybody's guess. Prince Mohammed bin Sliceyerarmsandlegsoff? Certainly in the running, for his distinguished retelling of the same story five inventively different ways, all of them incredible. Paul Manafort for Bravery in the Face of Idiocy? Sans doubt, mes amis. Lady Melania for her famously haunting two word, bi-syllabic poem, "Be Best," with it's flawless alliteration and terse messagelessness? Absolutely a front runner.

But whom shall be choose to judge the awards? Why, Trump's judges, of course.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

10:40 AM  

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