Hot Air: Olive Pits & Political Theater

How I’m Doing

I haven’t put up a My Olive Pit™ post in weeks, the reason being there’s really little to report on a day to day basis. I can now eat, talk, walk, drive, and lead a reasonably normal life. Little has changed since I resumed those activities more than a month ago. Folks, though, have been asking for a MOP update, so here it is.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 10.20.42 AM      I’m scheduled for a PET scan on June 2nd, a week from today. They’ll pump me full of radioactive elements and, after I sit in a darkened room for 45 minutes to allow the stuff to run through my circulatory system, they’ll strap me into the big cylindrical scanning machine for some 20 minutes more. The idea being if there’s any cancer left in me, it’ll show up when the nuke stuff hits it.

So, fingers crossed, I’ll get a call a day or two later with good news and I’ll jump for joy. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

I really only have a few complaints. For instance, my taste buds are only about 60 percent activated. I can taste savory flavors but not sweet ones at all. In fact, chocolate still tastes terrible to me, sort of simultaneously sour and bitter. I’m telling you, that had better change damned soon. A life w/o chocolate just may not be worth living.

The Thespian Party

Have you seen footage of the brouhaha over at Chicago’s DePaul University Wednesday? squealer Milo Yiannopoulos had been scheduled to speak there. The event was sponsored by the DePaul branch of the College Republicans. His topic was to be “Feminism Is Cancer” and DePaul was the latest stop on his Dangerous Faggot Tour. The emcee’s lectern was emblazoned with one of those Don’t Tread On Me flags. The hall where Yiannopoulos appeared was packed with adoring young conservatives who were fully prepared to shower him with adoration, the vast majority of them baseball-capped white boys.

The whole Yiannopoulos/Depaul College Republicans thing is baffling because Y. is more gay than the love child of Oscar Wilde and Liberace would ever hope to be. So the crowd was sprinkled with gay boys and staunch right wingers which is the equivalent of a Black Lives Matter convention filled with Baltimore cops embracing young black men.

Only the event was disrupted and eventually halted by protesters. Yiannopoulos’s appearances generally draw loud protesters and more than a few have been cancelled due to outcries. Yiannopoulos clearly digs the protests and says things meant to inflame those who loathe him.

At one point on Wednesday, Yiannopoulos said, “Modern feminism has become ever more hysterical about tinier things.” The crowd roared. It’s typical of his appearances. They’re sort of a 2016 update on the old Jerry Springer Show, with speakers trying to incite the crowd to love them or hate them, depending on which side of the fence they’re playing. Here, check out Breitbart’s own video of the event for yourself. Yiannopoulos isn’t introduced until the 35:10 mark. Everything before that you can ignore, trust me.

At the 46:40 mark of the video, a black man marches resolutely up to the stage. Yiannopoulos, catching sight of him, says, “Hello, darling.”

The black man turns to address the crowd, opening with the line, “This man is an idiot!” The crowd goes wild with boos and jeers, drowning him out, but he’s joined on stage by several other protesters, who raise their fists and beckon others to join them.

A woman grabs the microphone out of the emcee’s hand and shouts into it, then she leans in close to Yiannopoulos and screams in his face. The first man who jumped the stage then gets his hands on the microphone and launches into a chant of, “Dump the Trump!”

As the protesters do their thing, Yiannopoulos remains in his chair and alternately giggles and rolls his eyes. Chaos ensues. Several hapless looking security officers make an appearance, look around helplessly and proceed to do nothing about the disruption.

Yiannopoulos eventually is led offstage by event organizers and he later leads a march, supposedly to the university president’s office to complain about the protesters and the ineffectual security presence.

A number of conservative sites have featured posts by opinionators aghast that Yiannopoulos’s “freedom of speech” was so abridged, blaming permissive and liberal colleges for kowtowing to minorities and left radicals. Even the Huffington Post ran a piece by a fellow who laid the blame on milquetoast college administrators. He wrote:

Years of inaction by university administrators has left radical student activists feeling they are immune from the law. Free from consequences, or dissenting opinions, endowed with a feeling of moral high-ground, students have taken increasingly drastic steps to suppress other opinions, and conservative opinions in particular.

The writer goes on to say the president’s office was closed and locked. “There would be no open dialogue today,” he concludes.

If you buy all this, you should be enraged that a speaker on a college campus would be so persecuted and silenced.

I don’t buy it one goddamned bit. I don’t believe the protesters were anything more than paid actors in Yiannopoulos’s theater of the absurd. They look way too comfortable onstage to be real protesters. The things they scream ring untrue for honest-to-gosh Black Lives Matter protesters, to whom they’ve been linked. In fact, none of them wears a BLM T-shirt, which seems both highly unlikely and a reasonable precaution by organizers to avoid litigation from the actual group.

That line about the president’s office being locked, implying the university’s boss was hiding from Yiannopoulos and his supporters? It was well after 7:00pm when the marchers reached the office. Well after, I might add, office hours.

I’ve always said, all politics is theater. Never though, has this been more true than today. In the past, politicians, advocates for this or that issue, and protesters at least had some shred of substance behind their pretenses. When FDR, for instance, spoke to Congress to call for a declaration of war after the Pearl Harbor attack, he didn’t say, “Gee, fellas, I hate to have to ask you this because war is so horrible….”

No, he spoke of the coming war as a great crusade by a righteous, angry people. He spoke forcefully and unapologetically, with not the slightest hint of hesitation. Theater.

FDR had to present an image. Pols and political advocates today present an entirely fictional representation of the world. Our modern-day political theater is more commedia dell’arte, with archetypes playing the old familiar roles. There are heroes and villains, pick your side. Substance? We don’t need no stinkin’ substance.

Milo Yiannopoulos and his defenders, even the guy writing in the Huffington Post, are all full of shit. And if you believe what happened Wednesday at DePaul University was real, you’re a sucker.

May 26th Birthdays

Dorothea Lange — Perhaps the greatest American photographer, she traveled the country during the Great Depression as part of the Farm Security Administration (originally the Resettlement Administration) taking portraits of destitute rural people. These photos have become iconic and now define the Depression in the public’s consciousness.

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John Wayne — Born Marion Morrison, he-man and patriot whose movies many conservatives to this day confuse with reality, he was married three times. His wives, in order, were Panamanian, Mexican, and Peruvian. To illustrate how far political discourse has devolved, Wayne, an outspoken conservative, said of the election of John F. Kennedy, “I didn’t vote for him but he’s my president.”

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Peter Cushing — Best known for playing Van Helsing in Dracula movies. I always viewed him as a villain because I thought Christopher Lee as Dracula was so much cooler.

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James Arness — Brother of Peter Graves, Arness will forever be remembered as Marshall Dillon in the TV oater Gunsmoke. I like to think of him in his horror film roles: as the monster in The Thing from Another Planet and the FBI agent in Them!

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Jack Kevorkian — The suicide doctor.

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Pam Grier — Star of several 1970’s blaxploitation flicks, she showed real acting chops in those otherwise dreadful pix. Grier was discovered while working as a receptionist for American International Pictures. When Quentin Tarantino called her in to read for the part of Jackie Brown, she arrived at his office and found it covered with posters from her 1970s movies. She asked him if he were trying to sway her by hanging them up and he replied he actually was thinking of taking them down — they’d been up long before he’d agreed to direct the film — because he was afraid she’d think that.

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Sally Ride — The first American woman to orbit the Earth, Ride also was the youngest American astronaut to be launched into space. She kept her relationship with partner Tam O’Shaughnessy secret for 27 years until she died in 2012. She’s acknowledged as the first known American lesbian astronaut.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan — Born Kenneth Wright, she was a geologist and paleontologist before turning her attention to fiction. She has written scifi and dark fantasy novels, comic books, and screenplays. She describes herself as an atheist pagan.

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On this day in 1995, Friz Freleng died. Usually credited as I. Freleng (his given name was Isadore), he was Warner Brothers’ top cartoon director for years. He introduced Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester and Tweety Bird, and Speedy Gonzalez. Freleng considered himself a composer and often worked with story developers, writing on musical bar sheets, to create cartoon plots and time gags to appropriate spots in the music.

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