The president is on TV in Montana and he’s still very excited about this fact even now. He takes a moment to point out the row of cameras in the back of the room with a jape about how unhappy they all are with him and no one really knows what he means specifically but they get it all the same because the pink crowd is delighted and laughing and the proceedings have shifted into that fever dream sitcom where we elected Rodney Dangerfield in Natural Born Killers president. There they are he says gesturing broadly as if he’s grounding himself. When you wake up from a nightmare you’re not sure has finished and it’s dark and quiet but the light from the moon creeps in through the blinds just so and you can make out the faded shapes of your bedroom furniture and calm yourself down. Like that sort of thing. Ah, yes, here I am.
He goes on to praise Montana rep Greg Gianforte who assaulted a reporter from the Guardian last year a place I write for sometimes. “Never wrestle him, you understand that?” he says mimicking a body slamming motion. “Any guy who can do a body slam is my kind of guy,” he says.
This is all as he refuses to condemn the Saudi government for the obvious and apparent torture and murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi a place I write for sometimes. If we’re being honest we’re probably only a couple weeks away from Trump pantomiming his death at a rally as well. Bone saw! They said they brought a bone saw, he’ll say, looking around for someone behind him off camera. I don’t know, he’ll say, pretending to saw his own arm off and the crowd will roar.
I was sitting in a mobile home and it was 2010 and we were riding out to Coney Island for a fashion shoot for Black Book and I remember wanting Gavin McInnes to like me very much. I was interviewing him about his Street Boners book that had just come out and we all thought that was just about the funniest shit in the world at the time even though we should have known better. I wasn’t even particularly young but I don’t know what to tell you about that. There was still some plausible deniability left in the whole scam if you wanted a reason to ignore it I guess for example if you were a white male hipster who never had anything bad happen to you in your life. When you are convinced of your own self-evident goodness saying transgressive shit becomes the joke itself because you’re obviously a good person right and you don’t really believe that sort of thing right so it goes all the way back around and is funny now. I remember thinking everyone involved in the shoot was the coolest person alive and there were like a dozen models both men and women there and I thought about how exciting it must be to be a hipster model in New York City skateboarding to parties and dying from cocaine overdoses and such but in retrospect they were probably getting paid shit like I was getting paid shit and I wonder if any of them ever went on to have a real career in fashion or if it was just something they did when they were young for a little while before moving back to Arizona and dying from cocaine overdoses there.
I just went back and read the piece for the first time in years. I was clearly very excited about the Shoot the Freak metaphor that I built it around, the boardwalk carnival game that I thought said something about the whole Dos & Donts shtick Gavin was famous for back then. Reading it now there are a lot of red flags that I probably should’ve picked up on but there’s also enough genuinely funny stuff that reminds me why many of us liked him in the first place.
Before getting in a cab to come to the shoot, McInnes tells me, he popped an adderall and drained a cup of coffee. Not a good idea before his morning shit, it seems. He vividly recalls feeling like a pregnant lady in the movies, breathing heavily, hoping the driver doesn’t hit any big bumps. Retelling the story gives him an idea for a bit where the cabby gets out to help perform an emergency delivery, but instead gets sprayed in the face with diarrhea. What follows is a discussion about the best ways to rig the fake shit and what angle to shoot it from so it looks most believable.
McInnes seems like he’s constantly workshopping bits. Twitter and the comments section of Street Boners are his favorite place for trying out new ones, although he does get a little annoyed with some of the meaner comments on Street Boners. “It bums me out when people talk about the girl’s bone structure or something. Your beef is with god, not her. But the internet is all horny fourteen-year-olds. So you’re fourteen and you can’t get anyone to fuck you, and now you’re mad at chicks.”
That last bit seems like an eerily prescient description of his latest venture the Proud Boys who I mentioned last week had gang-stomped some people in New York City after Gavin’s appearance at a fancy Republican Club.
“There’s this assumption that if you antagonize people they’re just going to take it,” Gavin says at one point in the video put together above in that tweet from Vic Berger. Richard Spencer the famous Nazi is standing next to him and they all seem to be having a great time. “I think those days are done now.”
Fuck me? No, fuck you is a powerful drug you see. Trump often talks about how he fights back and people like that very much. They line up for hours to hoot and holler amid a sea of sunburned car dealership guys and boat owners and let the fuck you come over them. You can get people hooked on fuck you and they’ll do almost anything you tell them to.
One of the things they say about Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud the crown prince of Saudi Arabia who likely authorized the plan to torture and murder Khashoggi is that he’s a reformer taking steps to modernize the country such as finally allowing women to drive cars. Another thing that is reportedly happening in Saudi Arabia is they are arresting a lot more women there now which is a big step for equality I think we can all agree. Many of them are being arrested and detained for speech crimes as Adam Coogle a Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch told The Young Turks this week.
“This is a new kind of deal. Typically in Saudi Arabia jailing of women was something that’s pretty taboo. It wasn’t really done,” he said.
The boom in jailing women has lead the country to seek out aid from the U.S. in training people to run the prisons, a program for which the State Department is reportedly seeking contractors to bid on, because if there is anything we know how to do better than almost any other country it’s run prisons.
“People are often held in these facilities pre-trial and put in solitary confinement and are mistreated with a view towards coercing confessions that are later used in court to convict the person. We have lots of accounts of that,” Coogle said.
At least 300 people have been killed and 2,000 injured this year in violence carried out by the police forces under the control of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega according to an Amnesty International investigation. The violence came after protests against social security reforms erupted around the country. Earlier this summer a 20 year old woman named Dania Valeska Alemán Sandoval shared a video to Facebook live of herself and fellow protestors under attack by government forces that soon went viral.
In her video Sandoval can be seen crying and asking her mother for forgiveness if she is killed. Perdoname she says. She and some 200 other students had taken cover in a church in Managua. Two of her friends were killed that day, she later told the Daily Beast, a place I write for sometimes, but while she survived, she was arrested, tortured, and forced to give a false confession that the government then used as propaganda against the protestors to say they were paid and fakes and that sort of thing which is what a fascist says to convince everyone he is actually good after all which must work because they keep trying that shit over and over.
“They said that they were going to kill me and my family,” Sandoval said in an interview later on. “Later they brought one of my compañeros and put him on his knees and put an AK47 to his head. They told me if I didn’t cooperate and read what they would give me they were going to show the execution of my compañero, and then there would be another and another. There was nothing else I could do but read the script that they had ready for me.”
Amnesty International say such false testimonies have become common, and that the death toll may be a lot higher than they estimate because people are scared to even report anything owing to fear of reprisal by the government. The violence has led to tens of thousands of Nicaraguans being displaced and applying for asylum, mainly in neighboring Costa Rica, because that is what happens when the government is killing its own people they try to migrate away from there and go someplace they suspect they will be safer.
Another thing Trump said in Montana is that people are being paid to migrate in a caravan passing through Guatemala en route to the States.
“A lot of money’s been passing through people to come up and try to get to the border by Election Day because they think that’s a negative for us,” he said. “They wanted that caravan and there are those that say that caravan didn’t just happen. It didn’t just happen,” he said. He later shared a video that Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida had also shared on Twitter that they said showed people being paid to join the caravan and “storm the border at election time” because they think that their followers will believe made up shit like that which is true they will believe it because they will believe anything.
In August I talked to a young man who had migrated from El Salvador to here because his father was being threatened by gangs. “I didn’t want to come over here,” he said. “To go to another country. You know you have to walk, cross the river, sleep over in the woods in the night. You don’t even know what’s going to happen. But you got two choices, go over there, or stay here and let’s see what happens to you. You die.”
I don’t think he probably knew what a Democrat or a Republican was when he did the whole fleeing for his life from gangs in his country thing but who knows maybe his plan was to come here all along and vote for Maxine Waters 50 times who can ever really say.
Sometimes I get emails from people who say things such as fuck you and they will kick my ass in and things of that nature and I usually don’t worry about them too much because it is something so common for journalists that if you got scared every time you were threatened you wouldn’t really have much time to do anything else. Here’s one I just got after I’d written this piece about how a writer for Stephen Colbert had gotten everyone on the right pissed off at her for an obvious joke about Brett Kavanaugh’s life being “ruined.” It’s not particularly bad but it’s the most recent one so there you go.
Oh sure tough guy it was a joke you know how many people lost their jobs because they made a joke about Obama you live in a one-sided dim-witted world. Really you're going to hide behind it was a joke and call Fox News Watchers stupid. You're the typical hypocrite you can dish it out but you can't take it you walk around with that tough look on your face buddy if you ever going to be near Virginia send me a shout I wipe that smile off your f****** face.
I don’t know buddy.
The last time I talked to Gavin he had written me an email whining about how I called out a piece on Street Carnage, his post-Vice site. I had written for it a while prior to that but had stopped by then due to all the racism and also that he refused to pay me any money. Mostly I had written my typical liberal horse shit but also some things that I probably wrote just to try to seem edgy and ironic because when someone is charismatic and funny and saying that sort of shit all the time you want to impress them which is embarrassing to say but it happens to be true.
“Sad to see this once-hilarious site finally follow in the footsteps of its founder into complete reactionary right wing racist apologist mode with this piece Seven Cliches About Racism,” I wrote.
Why don’t I refute it with evidence he asked instead of just crying out racism which is the type of shit people like that always want you to do but is always a trap and no matter what evidence you offer back it won’t work. The point is to just frustrate you.
I still, stupidly, thought it was just a phase for him. I didn’t want to believe a guy I had looked up to as being so funny and cool really believed the type of stuff he was saying. Surely it must have been an edge lord con of some kind. I was fucking stupid and it’s shameful to admit that now but that is how it was so I don’t know what else to say on that account.
“I really hope you get past this stuff some day,” I told him. “You're a hilarious writer, and much smarter than this type of paranoid fear-mongering scared conservative pussy routine. It bums me, and a huge majority of your fans, I'd imagine, out to see you turn into a doddering old racist.”
Then it went on and on back and forth with all manner of dog shit that I’m sure you can picture, but by the end I had finally talked myself into an epiphany I guess.
“Neither of us are going to come out of this having convinced one another of anything are we?” I wrote. “I think my deep-rooted biases for equality are probably too steadfast for you to open my eyes. I'm a lost cause for conversion to the dark side.”
I sometimes wonder if any of the people falling for the nationalist and nativist stuff that’s going on around the world and in our country in particular right now will look back on it someday and think to themselves Ah, what the fuck was that? I hope a lot of them do but I’m not overly optimistic. People very much want to belong to any group that will have them.
We have a bunch of old magnets on our fridge and a lot of them are cute little things my grandmother who is dead and who loved us very much made for my wife such as those hats and and magnets that say things like I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara I could save the world! and The secret to life is girlfriends and a good martini. We also have a bunch of old wedding invite magnets which I guess was a trend there for a while and a lot of them are faded like that one you can see in the photo there like the idea of the marriage itself washed away over time which it literally did because that couple got divorced pretty quickly. Half of the magnets on there are for couples who have gotten divorced by now actually but we keep them up there anyway and I’m not sure why. I was thinking about that this morning and I thought it was the saddest thing I could think of but I don’t think it’s all that sad any more relatively speaking at this particular moment. I don’t really know all that much about what happened in any of those marriages but I know at some point someone got fed up and decided they didn’t have to live like that anymore. They could just leave and not look back.