Introduction to Misfit 31

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As I write this, the election results are still being tabulated.  There is a big black cloud centered over the White House full of thunder and lightning and a plague for all seasons. Covid Killer #45 placed it there and leavened it with bluster and vitriol.  Soon he will be know by his Indian name only, Big Chief Talks A Lot But Has Nothing to Say. His While House days of rage are most likely dwindling down to a precious few. The big question now is: how he will react when the final results are in. These results are highly likely to officially designate his super spreader campaign for president as a losing effort in more ways than one. 

More concerning is the uncertainty of what an unchecked, lame duck, vengeful, immature, moronic president will do during that session. Lame duck months are generally marked by holding the fort until the next administration assumes power. If the last five years have shown us anything, it is that he is a rule breaker, a norm buster, a loophole finding, unlawful, self-serving, double dealing, fraud. We can only hope that as he leaves he doesn’t do so with the mindset of, “They took my favorite toy and now I am going to break it so no one can ever use it again.”

There are so many ways he could do this. The mind boggles considering the countless ways he could mess the country up even more. Can this nightmares scenario be avoided? Much of it depends upon whether a lame duck Congress will draw a line and say, “Basta! Enough is enough, Donnie, Boy.” We’ll just have to, “Wait and see”, as the man who plays president on TV likes to say, if they will.

Watching actual returns, as they came in this year, was too stressful even to consider as an option.  The 2016 election caused PTSD, sleep disorders, so why out yourself through that kind of torture again?  I could not decide between watching a horror movie or a comedy. The choices were from Netflix, “The Witch” from 2015, and a classic Woody Allen movie, “Sleepers” from 1973. I decided to go with the horror movie, as the last four years have been an endless scary movie that lasted way too long. After weathering 48 months of actual horror, I could afford an hour and a half of the make-believe kind.

“The Witch” has it all: religious bigotry, obscurantism, narrow minded, uneducated reasoning, superstitions, bogus show trials, social distancing, repressed sex, devil worship, hypocrisy on an epic scale, bloodshed, implied incest and on and on  like a 17th century Trump administration. “The Witch” could be summed up with a tag line: The Salem Witch Trail meets Carrie in the woods.  Needless to say, it didn’t end well. That is unless you find an ecstatic, Vulcan mind meld, with a Witch’s Sabbath, a good thing. 

Just prior to election day, I watched the extended version of a “Touch of Evil” for the umpteenth time. This is one of the greatest movies of all times on many levels. I hadn’t considered the political ones until this last viewing. Orson Welles plays a corrupt border town sheriff with an unblemished conviction record.  Maybe it was the times we are living in now that made me more sensitive to the casual, vehement, bigotry of Sheriff Hank Quinlan.

The parallels between the Welles character and the President quickly became obvious. There were striking physical resemblances. Quinlan is morbidly obese, favoring loose, high waisted cheap suits that don’t fit. He always looks like he hasn’t slept properly in years, has a bloated face, and eyes that are aching for a drink, even though he is on the wagon. Quinlan always seems to have a well chewed stogie in his mouth, and a bluff, no-nonsense, aggressive manner, that challenges people to disagree with him and suffer the consequences if they do.  Welles generally shoots himself, as the director, as well as the actor, from a low, odd, off-angle to emphasize the outsized, off-center nature of the man he is playing.  He actually looks dissolute.

Covid 45 looks like a buffoon, albeit a dangerous one, with his ridiculous comb over, spray tan, and raccoon eyes plus the expensive suits that don’t fit, and the too long tie, worn to de-emphasize the fact that, he too, is morbidly obese. He fools no one but himself.  Quinlan is who he appears to be. Trump is an made-up version of what he wants to be or to be seen as. Preferably on TV. No one lights up more, like a little kid, when he is being photographed, than DT.

This pseudo-billionaire, man who would be king, launched his campaign of thirty thousand lies, on the ascending-into Babel escalator, by calling Mexicans rapists, looters and generally evil, inferior, brown people. Just as in Hank Quinlan’s border town, we first see him berating and blaming a Mexican for a bomb murder, literally, at the border crossing. The accusation is reflexive, no evidence based, vicious, calculated, and based on prejudice. Sound familiar?

We soon learn Quinlan’s perfect record is due to evidence planting and lying. That he is the worst kind of sanctimonious hypocrite, a “law and order man”, a record achieved through devious means and sustained by loyalists and toadies. The only realist on the American side of the border is the aging Madame, Hannah, played by Marlene Dietrich. In their scenes together it is implied, they had an affair when both of them were much younger. When Quinlan asks her to read the cards to tell his future, Hannah, says, “You don’t have a future, it’s all used up.” Of course, she doesn’t need the cards to tell the future, she can see it in the man, drunk, now, unshaven, beaten.  Even his most loyal friend deserts him in the end, once Quinlan’s true nature is revealed. When this administration is over, the only people who will remain are the ones that can’t leave, the blood relatives.  Once again art and life reflect each other in unexpected ways.

Back here on planet earth, politics aside, Misfit #31, is ready for your reading enjoyment. With a heavy heart, we feature a tribute to one of our most steadfast, loyal, and favorite poets from the onset of our project, Joan Colby, who passed away this Summer. We urge everyone to read the tribute, the comments and the poems, written for her, plus a selection of her work that she published with us over the years.

In addition to our usual eclectic selection of poems and reviews, I have written a combination appreciation, review, and personal essay that was inspired by Eleanor Kedney’s exquisite book of poetry, Between the Earth and Sky.  I urge everyone to check that out as well.

My sincere thanks to all the contributors and to Jennifer Lagier who makes every issue possible and to Gene McCormick for his original art. See you in the New Year!