American Shithole #41 | 2018: Year in the Rear
By Eric Wilson
Let’s get this out of the way: 2018 blew horrid chunks of shame and embarrassment all across the dance floor — not unlike a certain drunk freshman I can recall over-imbibing at a Syracuse sorority party he had no business attending — certainly requiring decades of scouring to remove the stench.
Well, the party’s almost over, and it’s time we all started sobering up.
The parade of tyranny and cowardice stretches as far back as I can remember some days (has it really only been two years, Toto?); the blotchy ink-stain of this administration will disgrace American history books until the end of fucking time.
There’s no changing that now. Time to clean up the mess.
What’s worse, our powers of diplomacy around the globe have evaporated, our gravitas has vanished into thin air, and our allies have all but distanced themselves. Any pretense or hope that America is still the shining beacon of democracy has been snuffed out — not unlike the lives of children seeking asylum at our border.
If I were inclined to suggest a top ten list of the worst shit that’s happened this year, everything that wouldn’t quite make the cut is still some of the worst shit this century. (Where does Traitor President fall on that list, and how fucking terrible a list must that be to even have to consider that question?)
One of my editors has different lenses, it seems. In his year-end wrap up, Himmel expressed that in the little ways 2018 “wasn’t so bad.” Old me bristled — but hell, I like Himmel; and gosh-darn-it, a rich, white guy on his boat is entitled to his opinion.
Democracy itself however, begs to differ.
Strange days indeed, so let’s just put 2018 to rest shall we, without much more ado?
“The Times They Are a-Changin’“ is ringing in my ears, and this New Year’s baby would like to take a moment to reminisce.
Hopefully I’ve earned it, but I’ll still try to keep this short. It is interesting though, to me, finally coming to an age where I can look back and see what has really changed for the better or worse.
I grew up in the age of pre-Reaganite trickle-down economics, before the GOP’s disastrous dash towards the far-right.
“Jeez, you’re going that far back?”
I was born in 1968, is that better?
“No, no, pre-Reagan is fine…”
I was a boy for the entirety of the 1970s, and the first six years of my life were relatively idyllic. An only-child of divorce in 1974, what followed was a time of protracted sadness in my life lasting until the end of the decade. A large portion of my childhood was spent moving from place to place. Certain terrible songs of the era (Think: “Loving You;” also, my apologies) still bring a rush of unhappiness to this day. Always the new kid, I had lived in eleven different cities by the time I’d reached high school, and probably twice as many homes — I learned to never put down roots.
I am unsure if this is causal or corollary, but I’ve never been married, and I’ve never let anyone all the way in.
Terrible childhood lessons aside, I actually have a point:
In all those towns, in all those houses across America; east coast, mid-west, south west, flyover states — one and all — I never felt the weight of anything other than what I had come to know as our ingrained, American neighborly behavior. Block to block, coast-to-coast, people liked each other. We were nice to each other, we talked respectfully to each other, the kids played outside with each other. Even in the South Bronx in the mid-seventies; it was still better there then, than it is almost anywhere, now.
People got along, communities got along; at least everywhere I lived, anyway, and I lived everywhere.
If we are going to make America something again, that’s what I would like to get back to; not some disillusioned fantasy about how good life was back in the ‘50s. (Translation: how awesome it was back when the homosexuals, blacks and Jews weren’t on TV, and the atheists weren’t allowed to make fun of Jesus, and the hippies didn’t exist yet, and the liberal snowflakes all had real jobs at universities and kept to themselves.)
Well it wasn’t great.
I want to live in a community that celebrates its neighborhoods, in a city that gives a shit about its communities, in a state that; well, you get the idea. Americans on board with that (despite differing political views) — that’s who I want to dig metaphorical trenches with. That’s who I want in my foxhole, as I try to figure out how to set down roots (finally) after being here for nearly ten years, and how best to contribute in my community. People looking to celebrate what we have in common, those are my people now.
Then of course I turn on the morning news and I want to go bury my head in a stack of books and never leave the house again.
Anyway, that’s what I am looking for in the years to come as we all endeavor to fix this horrible fucking mess. I could continue to point out how terrible some Americans are — they are, and I will — but anyone with any sense knows that by now.
The thing that saddens me the most about our national face-plant, is that Americans are divided and suffering today solely for the purpose of making a handful of billionaires richer. All the rest is smoke and mirrors.
Calling out billionaires for being the shitty architects of our eventual demise has been my honor this year. I hope that if you take anything away from this column, it’s that billionaires shouldn’t exist. Individuals should not be valued as much as countries. What evidence could any of these cretins present that would demonstrate a value to humanity that merits their net-worth exceeding all of France?
American Shithole is a festering miscreant, really; a raging torrent of emotion and anxiety; an angry, vitriolic screed almost prepubescent in its tantrum-like spasms of vulgar language and run-on insults.
Quite like a child old enough to make its creator fucking miserable, yet not old enough as to be capable of slouching off on its own, American Shithole is going to need the occasional Time Out. It’s not yet the moment to kill this Frankenstein; just temper it with other creative efforts at Literate Ape — for I fear it will otherwise dominate my nightmares forever.
Also, I want to be happier in my autumn years.
Here’s a truth: I’m not educated, determined, funny, or politically savvy enough for American Shithole to have a chance at being special; and until I figure that out, I’m just showing off without really showing the goods. I don’t identify with any of these filthy animals I now begrudgingly write about either — and that’s another problem — you have to identify (at least a little) with your subject, or it just comes across mean.
And if we’re really being honest here, I think it’s pretty clear I fucking hate these people; making them the sole focus of my energy this past year has infected me, and I think I need a GOP high colonic.
So a republican enema it is.
In 2019 I look forward to various Literate Ape and personal projects that have me all-in. Fresh creative endeavors that fill me with joy — the joy of positive creative energy; not feeling sullen and hollow.
That said, it’s been an honor documenting our misery. I’m just not decent enough to humanize these monsters, or clever enough to dance around them humorously without it feeling hackneyed and trite.
I’ll keep working at it.
I could go back through my favorites and highlight some passages (with pride even), but this year-ender is already pushing my word limit. The fruits of my creative efforts for 2018 are out there as a series of ones and zeros, and that’s good enough for me. I re-read a few pieces this past week, and I am uncharacteristically comfortable with my first attempt at creating a political humor column different from the rest. Barring my premature demise, there are surely AS features to come — as there is no way I am giving up before I write about at least ten key figures off the top of my head, not including Trump himself.
I did promise embarrassing pictures (among other things) so I will end the year with this image that encapsulates 2018 for me. I’ll save embarrassment for future work — this is the pic that matters.
Writing a column and swinging for the fences with it — is a bucket list item. A handful of those forty-some-odd pieces are likely my best creative work to date, which indicates growth, and that feels meaningful to me. Looking back at these last twelve months of American Shithole, I couldn’t be happier, or more satisfied.
I hope you are too.