Posts Tagged ‘America’


Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Let’s come to grips with the fact that this country is going down. Straight out — no one is happy. Sure, we’re thrilled to see someone new leading us, it’s cool that some big box stores are reporting less-than-stellar results, and oh yeah Wall Street, don’t get me started, is in a hole it long deserved to be in.

But mostly, we’re mad at our country and countrymen for taking the easy way out during the so-called good years (circa 2002-06).


You don’t need me to review, but who out there wasn’t at least a little surprised to hear about acquaintances getting mortgages way beyond their means, or friends spending money they didn’t even nearly have? Or, worse, companies that were getting away with “things” we knew in our hearts someone should stand up to! Finally, what was UP with the way the people let the Government be run amok by their friends: the money-chucking corporate hounds?

I think for a while now, it’s been hard for the citizenry to stand up to what’s wrong, mainly due to our SSLR drugs (Prozac, Xanax, et al) keeping us feeling good. How can you revolt if you’re dulled? But it’s got to be more than that — it’s time, in my never humble opinion, for us to become more vigilant regarding those we suspect and those (Hello, Barack) we have the faith in. Let’s not just sit around and feel like it’s all eventually going to be all right. There is a time (turn turn turn) to stand up for what we know in our churning gut is just smacking wrong!

Recently on twitter a tweep cracked wise how politicians should wear their “sponsors” on clothes like NASCAR drivers and while I laughed like you, it also seemed like a good way to start a new kind of thinking. No matter what political party you think you’re part of, you are definitely suspicious of IT today. There was Barbara Boxer, who is a good one, on MSNBC laughing and saying to Rachel that the tawdry way our stimulus pack was played out in Congress is “simply the way it works!” But then I see whole towns out of work with formerly fine families living in shelters and desperate for some help from DC.

The scene seemed like a placard for people in power playing with the patsies.

So it may be a good time for red-blooded Americans (we’re not being Dems nor GOPers here) to start doubting the motives of everyone- not cynically, but rather realistically - and seeing politics like usual as the killer of what this nation stood for.

Gee, let’s see. Does it seem as though a party voted away a “spending bill” as if to make a point? And was that point “it’s going to be bad no matter what and we want to be right?”

Gee, let’s see. Did celebrating righteousness while Rome, err, the U.S. is burning, have an awful taste to it?

Gee, let’s see. What contributors to which party leaders made sure that “Buy America” was in the package when in fact that is not necessarily the best way to get the infrastructure truly, finally fixed?

Final gee: Is politics as usual going to be the ruination of what we stand for?

I thought this nation did super well during crises. Now I see how the dastardly “meeting culture” (art of bringing everything to a committee in corporations and Government) has made it easy to paralyze even a major player like us.

We just elected a new super powerful dude with some measured yet electric ideas. This week we will see a central list of what will be done, as President Obama gives us information about the state of our union. Let’s listen carefully–let’s also judge a little. Okay, it is good, as P-Clinton said on Friday, “to think hopefully,” but we’d be better off with clenched fists reminding one another that we are already in hell in a hand basket. If those we elected to “high” office are not going to get us into anything better, we can get up and take things into our own hands.

I say use our vigilant typing fingers to find out who actually advises our politicians, whether it’s fine corporate friends, eager beaver lobbyists or overpaid influencers. Because, yes, our officials really can be the ones who bring us to a place like hell, depending on their actions right now.

Can’t we all agree on one aspect of scary times: blindly being led hasn’t worked for a while!

I’m Richard Laermer and my stuff is on twitter @laermer.

Obama Wins: America Has Nothing to Whine About Anymore

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Barack Obama: President of Sunglasses

I was reading through a bunch of email newsletters and saw the travel guy I used to respect relating how we might not be able to “trust” Obama. That’s when it hit me: Of course he will win. Republicans with attitudes like the newsletter dude need to be pushed aside in favor of positive enforcement that the world is actually a decent place.

Quote from him: “I’m certain that in one case we can [trust the candidate] - a man with a proven record of decades of unswerving integrity and loyal support and love for his country. I fear the other candidate’s vision of change (because, for sure, he has no record to run on at all, except that of shadowy associations with people who hate America and wish us harm) may be a dark and scary thing quite different to that which many of his starry eyed supporters wish it to be.”

Then the so-called Travel Insider ended with “Nuff said” a smiley face, and I unsubscribed to his letter after seven years. (Travel Idiot for sharing: I’m sure I was one of several hundred who did.)

Obama has done everything in his power to prove himself as a good man — a solid individual who has zigzagged throughout this country telling us what he will do when elected. He’s been consistent and has run a fabulous campaign. We know that. But one aspect of his candidacy is hardly spoken about — the fact he has strived to keep everything above board. He has nothing to apologize for and has handled the entire 21 months with aplomb and forthrightness. Even when I wasn’t sure of him (admittedly) there was always that part of me that shook my head and said “I wish I could be like that.” Even-handed and measured, the way I imagine a president was before I was born.

The fact is, Mrs. Clinton, John McCan’t, Tina Fey Palin, Crazy Huck, and most of the other candidates in this never-ending freak show worked our nerves every time we listened to them, tossing out bright shiny objects until we were dizzy. It made me feel bad that they had to take such cheap shots in order to stay in the race. But our man, Senator O, did not see that road, never even took the easy shots at President Bush when Obama could have beaten the Chief up for acting, if not being, a real shmuck.

It’s time for the world to stop being snarky at every turn (too easy anyway) and to realize we’re all in this together. There’s a lot of muck out there and in the end we are better for it when we act respectfully and honorably, no matter what. In the last few weeks of this election season two of the two biggest purveyors of “oh my G-d did you see that” rumors — and Radar magazine — have seen their fortunes die out. This is not by chance. I think us all, Republicans and Democrats alike, so-called independents and the ones who side fervently, have a single thing in common: we want us to stop complaining, bitching, or making fun! Let’s see the good side instead of piling on the dirt.

To paraphrase a song from my 20’s: Whine time is over. After this election is over, let’s all take a deep breath, live with the meltdown, and say out loud: “What can I do to make this a better world?” And to you who think this all sounds Pollyannaish, I offer the final words of this soliloquy:

“Deal with it. You’re secretly hoping everyone can start acting like our country (and perhps the world) is one big village. Smile a little. Encourage good behavior. Compliment someone for the hell of it. Don’t make fun of the next guy. Just be yourself. Look upwards. Hide from no one. Say something to the person standing by you about where you are headed in life. And celebrate a new beginning, one that says “Uh huh, the last eight years were one big messy period. So what? We don’t have to look backwards anymore. We can change.”
Congratulations. We are on the way up.

I’m Richard Laermer, and I’m the author of a hopeful book, 2011: Trendspotting.

You’re Gay. Yeah, Whatever.

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Clay Aiken

According to Clay (”Don’t Touch Me!”) Aiken, it is a big gay world out there. And that’s what the press wants you to believe. From my viewpoint, as a fuchsia card-carrying gay alpha male, every few years there’s a boondoggle in gay stories in America: the Supreme Court said OK to sodomy in Texas; Iowa in the heartland says OK to gay weddings; Richard Chamberlain (Richard! Chamberlain!) claims he’s a homo; while finally (my favorite) MTV said OK to the airing of a band (t.A.t.U.) that portrays itself as being “all lesbian, all the time.” The mega-ratings grabber Tia Tequila featured a bisexual lady of indiscriminate taste, but I’m not sure if she’s into sex as much as she is into showing off her inanity.

Yawn, digress. Is all this really the series of huge breakthroughs the media are suggesting? Because it sounds to me like just a lot of hype to sell a bunch of dying papers. Truth is, we’ve seen this all before. As I clamor for someone to just enact a single bold headline: “He’s Gay, So What?”

A generation and a half ago, Rock Hudson came out to the world on his deathbed because of complications from AIDS, smack-dab in the middle of Reagan America. At that point, a scant few years before the Supremes said no to sodomy in Georgia, the mass media talked a good game and asked Americans to be a lot more compassionate in their dealings with their gay brothers and sisters.

Then we waited for 24.5 years — past noise like “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” past Barry Winchell’s horrific death from homobashing Army boys, past that shady Defense of Marriage Act and doe-eyed Matthew Shepard, to, finally, a gay bishop happening upon the scene somewhere up north.

So the big news now is that it’s OK to be gay. Of course, it isn’t entirely OK. The media message of the moment notwithstanding, Bill Frist, once the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate, reacted to gay movement forward by grandstanding that he’d like an amendment to the constitution that gay marriage be disallowed. That is progress with a small “p.” Not gay with a capital “G.”

So how can we explain this dichotomy? Perhaps the public isn’t really so much more accepting and the culture isn’t really that much different — just as it wasn’t back in 1985, when Rock died. Perhaps the reality is that the media have grabbed onto this story line more because it’s a sellable one than because it’s the truth.

Let’s go back to Chamberlain, who has been an icon much longer than Aiken (and take Lohan, please…). Chamby’s story says a lot about why people were going “Senator Craig?” (who cares; just go away) last year. Chamberlain’s publicist insisted breathlessly that he should get a big “wow!” for his act of boldness. He should? For 40 years he played dull and, oh yeah, straight. Then he got exciting and on the cover of People magazine for telling the world that he’s gay. Really? And, oh yeah, he happened to have a book for sale.

Which I’m sure is just a coincidence. Much like Liz Smith, who also conveniently came out in what very briefly became a must-read memoir. But don’t get me started on Liz Smith.

One day after Richard’s big moment, I stood in a trendy Santa Monica video store and spotted the original Bourne Identity, which was remade last year with the straight (well, today!) Matt Damon. Chamberlain played Damon’s role in the first version, which no one remembers now, since Damon has turned this into his role. I had to laugh at the laboriously butch face Chamberlain was making on the box. He hasn’t had that kind of fame in years, and his new efforts — retired and notoriously gay — reek of a last-ditch effort to gain a buck off fame.

To make matters smellier, the old boy told Dateline at the time that he is “not a romantic leading man anymore and [no longer needs] to nurture that public image anymore.” Did anyone in the press ask about his implicit suggestion that his fans are total idiots? What Richard Chamberlain’s old-world PR people were pulling was very 1950s: let’s tell the world he’s gay to get some more attention. Right. Ask Rosie O’Donnell how far being queer’s gotten her, really. Certainly not the lead of Price Is Right or a punditry on MSNBC. Chamberlain is an actor who has been downgraded to his generation’s Larry Storch. You know, another TV actor who has had to pay the rent by appearing in, say, cheaply constructed bus and truck companies of My Fair Lady. Now that he’s gay — I guess this goes for Clay–maybe people will pay attention to him.


I’m the author of 2011: Trendspotting. Essays like this fill the damn thing.

Buy the Book - 2011