The Season Finale

There are so many takeaways from Thursday’s season one finale of the Jan. 6th Trump Insurrection Hearings TV series.

But before we get into the serious stuff, let’s understand that this 8th episode was, more than anything else, great TV.  

As such it delivered not only plot, drama and prosecutorial bread crumbs, but something for EVERY type of viewer –especially us silly and superficial ones.

Say it with me now!

Yes, yes, yes, as our beloved Stefon might say if he were still here (Note: And where is he????), this episode had EVERYTHING:

1. Two plus hours of an insanely hot Clark Kent lookalike sitting directly behind live witnesses Matt Pottinger and Sarah Matthews.  He nearly broke Thirst Twitter and, quite honestly, made it difficult for the Chair to focus at times.

Look who left Metropolis!

And, for what I’m sure is only a very small handful of readers who care (Note: Ahem), his name is Alex Wollet, he’s 23 and a med student/Ohio University grad studying neuroscience, currently doing a residency at the National Institute of Health. 

That’s right – a soon to be…DOCTOR! 

Though word is that he might NOT be single (and could be the boyfriend of Ms. Matthews) I truly have no idea and would much prefer picturing him merely writing a story about all this for The Daily Planet and everything that might entail.

Please get this renewed for season 2

2. The once in a lifetime chance of hearing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) say the words delicate flower and (former attorney general) Bill Barr in the same sentence. 

Chastising critics who have publicly knocked her and the work of the committee for being biased and one-sided because there were no hand-picked Republicans chosen by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy serving among their ranks, Rep. Cheney icily turned to the camera in her final summation address and rhetorically proclaimed to all of those doubters:

Do you really think Bill Barr is such a delicate flower that he would wilt under (that) cross-examination?

Add a hair flip!!

(Note: It’s worth stating Cheney, one of two Republicans actually appointed to the committee, is about as conservative a member of Congress as you can get, voting with Trump a whopping 94% of the time)

Why can’t you let me enjoy things, Chairy??

3. The juxtaposition of fist pumping, pre-insurrection fueling Missouri Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), with mid-insurrection footage of Road Runner-like Sen. Hawley leaping through the halls of the Capitol building and then bouncing down its stairs, with folders full of god knows what, in a hurried, last ditch attempt to elude that rabid crowd of patriots he had emboldened just several hours prior.

His escapades sparked a series of soundtrack memes, my favorite being the one to the tune of Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire:

Certainly, there were scores of other revelations, eyewitness testimony, clarifications, framings and reiterations of what happened three plus hours from the time Trump encouraged what we now know were his very well-armed mob of supporters – HIS PEOPLE that we now realize, thanks to this committee, he told security NOT to disarm because he knew THEY had no intention of harming HIM. 

These were the same armed people he shouted to at his rally right before the insurrection started to FIGHT LIKE HELL if they wanted to keep their country.

Lay Translation:  Do whatever it takes to stop the certification of the results of this election.

A thrilling first season

But let’s get back to specific Thursday night revelations:

— A recounting of phone conversations between members of Mike Pence’s Secret Service/security detail on the phone with their loved ones saying goodbye in case they didn’t survive the oncoming onslaught of rioters meant to hang the former vice-president right before our eyes.

– A compelling timeline of puppet master Trump first throwing virtual gasoline onto HIS PEOPLE to spark the planned demonstrations/riots/violence and then unapologetically watching and listening to a more than 3-hour romp of desecration and death onto the Capitol building and those unlucky enough to be inside it despite pleas from TRUMP family, staff and staunch political allies for him to call it off.

Serving real Regina George energy

–  Numerous live and taped accounts of the former president seated in the head chair of his small private dining room, ALONE, hamburger(s) in hand, gleefully glued to Fox News like a demented Wimpy.  His response to those who dared to physically or virtually enter his space and ask for some action or protection or plan to protect the elected representatives in Congress from HIS PEOPLE was outright refusal or deflection.  That is unless you count numerous calls BY TRUMP to various senators and congresspersons in an eleventh hour attempt to get them to stall the ceremonial counting of the Electoral College votes that would rightfully declare Joe Biden president and confirm Trump as the official LOSER of the 2020 election.

Sowwy

Certainly, other high and low points exist, depending on your view of high and low, your commitment to not only truth telling but truth HEARING. 

There are also more questions to be asked, especially in light of all the mysterious missing Secret Service text messages from Jan.6th (and even 7th).

One that comes to mind is:  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the now deleted texts between Trump’s Secret Service detail and Pence’s Secret Service detail that day considering Pence’s refusal mid-insurrection to get in the car, driven by HIS Secret Service agents, and leave the Capitol Building area?

A real headscratcher

As the Vice President, who was steadfast to record the final votes on that date no matter what, was said to have stated to one of his assigned protectors as they attempted to whisk him away and out of the vicinity of the Capitol building:

If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off.  I’m not getting in that car.

What exactly DID Pence fear?  Where WAS the Secret Service taking him and for how long?  And at WHOSE DIRECTION would his evacuation be done at???? 

Also, how is it that the Secret Service claims of updating their communication systems conveniently occurred on Jan. 6, which we now know was a long-planned date by team Trump for a mass rally (Note: Riot?) that the then POTUS tweeted days before would be WILD; and close Trump confidante Steve Bannon previewed would be THE DAY ALL HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE to his podcast audience?

Gotta check my notes here

Okay, admittedly that’s more than one question – among so, so many others. 

This is why rather than closing up shop like the limited series they had planned, the committee will actually have a season 2 starting not next year but in September.

Just how many episodes or for how long, depends on, as is the usual case with MUST SEE TV, public response. 

Next season produced by Ryan Murphy (get your wigs out Sarah Paulson!)

Let’s hope we, the public, nee citizens, choose wisely.   And that the programming from Cheney and company avoids that cursed sophomore slump.

Though her closing admonition re team Trump – The damn is beginning to break –does give me hope.

Josh Hawley running to Benny Hill

Seventies Stories

We tell a lot of stories and we tell ourselves A LOT of stories.  Some of them are true but most of them are not entirely true.

Scratch that. 

None of them are entirely true because there is no absolute truth other than we will all die one day.

HAPPY JANUARY!

Resolutions be damned!

It’s better not to obsess about absolute truth or death because, really, what will that get us?  Instead, I’ve found over the years the better strategy is to accept that there are simply basic truths.

Like when you watch a group of many, many hundreds of weaponized people violently storm the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.  on, say, January 6, 2021, shouting they want to hang a US Vice President before he can, in an hour or two, ratify the results of a presidential election they didn’t like, this is, by definition, an insurrection.

That is because insurrection is defined as a violent uprising against an authority or government. 

You tell em, Lizzy!

It is also true because they built a gallows for the hanging, seriously injured and/or caused the death of many police officers AND destroyed many tens of thousands of dollars worth of government property in doing so.

On the other hand, there is no way to categorically proclaim Power of the Dog, a film I found beautiful to look at but vague and strangely homophobic in its vagueness, is the best movie of the year.

Now you might truthfully state it is the best REVIEWED film of the year and, by extension, a front-runner in the Oscar race for best picture and director.  But you can’t prove it is overall THE best by any rational standard.

Unless there is an Oscar for highest cheekbones, nothing is a sure bet!

No opinion of greatness is an absolute truth.  Just as no memory or memory piece is an absolute evocation of what literally happened.

The best we storytellers, which includes all of us (non-writers especially included), can do is capture a basic spirit of what happened and through character, plot and actions, show it to you.

This came to mind this week as I found myself debating the merits and debits of two films set in the decade I basically grew up in – the 1970s.  These would be Licorice Pizza and The Tender Bar.

Let me state at the outset that as a bit of an expert on the seventies, since I was at my most impressionable, observant and un-jaded at the time, both of these movies told the basic truth.

Double serving of 70s realness

This doesn’t mean they were brilliant or Oscar worthy or that YOU should love or like them.  Rather it’s that they were amazingly accurate on the essentials when so many stories about a particular place and time are not but pretend to be.

Most of the 1970s, particularly the first half, were really the tail end of what we now consider the cultural revolution of the 1960s. 

This was a time when everything felt adrift.  If you were coming-of-age at that moment your journey strangely coincided with the country’s journey.  No one knew what the new rules were in sex or sex roles; in politics and social settings; and to quote a 60s/70s expression, in love or war or the whole damned thing.

See: Peggy from Mad Men, Season 7

This made it a quite interesting but confusing time to grow up in.  To tell stories about it is like trying to hold a hyperactive puppy in your hands.  Just when you think you’ve tamed the impossible it wriggles out of your grasp and runs (or circles) in an entirely different direction.

I think this accounts for some of the disparate reaction to both films. 

The very reason I appreciate and enjoyed Licorice Pizza were the very reason four of the other five people watching the movie with me (Note:  Okay, yes, it was a screener and we watched it on Christmas Day at home!) lost interest.

The story of a weird, pseudo romantic relationship between a 15-year-old boy and a 25-year-old girl that unfolded in disjointed episodes where they sold waterbeds, met drug-fueled celebrities like producer Jon Peters and each grappled with their even stranger, ill-defined family lives, just wasn’t really compelling.

Even an unhinged Bradley Cooper cameo couldn’t do it for them

Yet for me, it was surrealistically accurate because that was what I saw as the story of the seventies.  Everything felt disjointed, and not merely because I was an adolescent.  It was a disjoined time and, in retrospect, a rather lovely one when you consider that the decade that would follow it were the Gordon Gekko-like greed is good eighties.

Sure, the seventies was also the era of Watergate but the eighties brought us Ronald Reagan. 

And let’s just let that sit there for a little while.

A chill just went down my spine

Okay, enough. 

The Tender Bar spends most of its time in the later 1970s and, as a memoir of a young boys’ coming-of-age, has a naturally gauzy quality to it.  But to its credit, it also doesn’t spare us the social reckoning that Licorice Pizza cleverly avoids. 

At this point, there was direct retribution and consequences for underage drinking, hitting women (note: particularly one’s wife) and the snobbism of economic class.  If it feels a little pat, well, at that time, on Long Island, if you were a teenager, it was a little pat.

I only know this because I grew up in Queens (Note: Not quite Long Island, but still….) and saw it play out in real time.  The years prior made it okay for kids to now call out adults in no uncertain terms.  In fact, it even got you support from that group of adults that had made the choice to evolve rather than stand their ground in insurrection to society’s changing norms.

AHEM

I loved The Tender Bar not because it was THE best of any film story but because it so entertainingly and boldly and emotionally told ITS story.  No one thought about being too sentimental because, let’s face it, it was something of an emotional time.

This was my truth of that moment and it happily coincided with what these filmmakers chose to show us.  Which is about the best you can hope to do as a storyteller of any kind.

Well done, Georgie.

Where we all get in trouble, especially society, is when we try to twist the basic truth into something patently and grotesquely untrue.

That’s not only unacceptable but it’s strangely un-American.  To this very American art form, that is.

Gordon Lightfoot – “If You Could Read My Mind”