Fear & Loathing: 2020 by Adam Krueger
Lawyers, Guns, & Money
They say war is Hell—and they’re right. But what they don’t tell you is that at worst it’s the seventh or maybe eighth level, by any metric Dante Alighieri could possibly concoct if the son of a bitch was around today to the learn the cold hard truth. Then he would know, like I’ve learned and lived with for years, along with maybe a handful of others that actually got to see both sides of the whole damn big ugly picture. Because you see I fought in the war, the longest goddamn one in American history—drove my dad nuts, the paranoid liberal shit. The old man put eight gunshots through the living room ceiling on the day I left for basic. But it wasn’t until I learned the hard way, the only way really; because truth is it gets worse, much worse. You see that ninth circle, that very last layer forever frozen over by the endless flapping of the wings of the beast with three heads of the great traitors to Humanity—or God if you’re old fashioned, I suppose: Hitler, Stalin, and Nixon, all eternally forcing that arctic wind to permeate in a cold worse than any in the coldest Russian gulags, defining the greatest of horrors known to God or man alike that could only be reserved for one thing and one thing only, at least by any contemporary standard in the Year of Our Lord 2020: The Presidential Campaign for the United States of America.
The news for the assignment came at arguably the best time—if such news has to ever come at all. It came when I was best able to handle it, to see the nightmare for what it really was and the forest from the trees—to which now I can only thank God it did; otherwise who knows how badly this shit-show of a circus could have possibly turned out? It came right after about five hundred words on an assignment that was long overdue and probably a waste of time to begin with, at least after the dust had settled, revealing it to be the wrong lead at the wrong time anyways. It came after my morning ritual of three pots of coffee, two giant bloody Mary’s with extra olives, extra cheese, and extra everything if I’m being honest, one Mexican beer, five lines of coke, two joints, and two grapefruits. It was then that my editor face-timed me and gave me the scoop.
“You alive, Raul? I’ve been emailing you for two days now.”
“Barely. This shit is killing me, Jane. “
“Cry me a river, asshole. How’s the story coming along?”
“Great, just about to hit send.”
“You don’t have shit, do you?”
“Goddamnit, woman, there’s nothing here. Nothing adds up. These swine have lies wrapped in secrets shoved up the ass of an alias of some guy named Todd that I can’t seduce, swindle, or con with either drugs, sex, or any kind of dirt on anyone—even the stuff that’s true!”
“Jesus Christ, man, get it together. Matt got this one at first but due to forces beyond my control I’m moving it to you. It’s the big one, Duke. The golden ticket. The sit down with the King himself, the cover story right before Election Day.” For a whole minute it seemed nobody said anything. She could tell I was chewing on it. “Thompson?”
“I’m here,” I muttered.
“Good because you better listen. There’s more. You’re not far from Chicago now. Jill had an emergency. You’re going to need to do the Democratic Nominee piece. I had a title in mind for the latter: “The Rise, Fall, and Unlikely Redemption of Kanye West.” But it’s back to back, Thompson. Try to find some greater context to put it all in. It’s all on you now, my friend.”
“If the job doesn’t kill me the truth of it all might just make me a marked man. But I’ll do what I can…..”
“I’ll email all the details but you need to start packing your bags a half hour ago, Taibbi screwed us on this one with that last tweet of his, now he can’t get anywhere near the man. Raul, are you ready for this?”
I thought for a second. I did another line and took another swig of the whiskey I was saving for later. “Ready as anyone can be.”
“I’ll send you whatever you need, just let me know. Can you think of anything now?”
I took a breath, then the final line of blow I had laid out and picked up the last of my pre-rolled joints and lit the son of a bitch. “Lawyers, guns, and money.” I shut the laptop, threw everything in the trunk, conveniently forgot to pay my rather excessive room service bill—and I was off.
My Kind of Town
The drugs were the first order of business. If I was going to do this right I needed to be in the right frame of mind and while they may not help me see it clearer—although there’s always the hope—it sure makes it more bearable, which to my thinking means it’s less likely to be clouded with emotion. So maybe it evens out. I don’t know. But I do know it’s important to acknowledge any journalistic biases. We all have them. Some of us may all too easily buy into the narratives of the downtrodden, poor huddled masses because we’re suckers. Some of us mistake conservative family values with fascism because we failed civics. But hey, nobody’s perfect.
The guns were necessary for a number of reasons to my mind. If I managed to survive Chicago’s south side where murder rates had been skyrocketing for some time, I was to be heading straight into the Lion’s Den, Washington D.C., where it was open season on journalists and home to three quarters of the worst and yet most entertaining brand of sociopathic elite liars, thieves, and sycophants that Uncle Sam had to offer once everybody apparently decided the usual lot of murderers, con-artists, and evangelicals had become passé and untrustworthy, at least in a mundane sense unfit for the world of reality TV that had somewhere down the line merged seamlessly with the twenty-four hour news and propaganda cycles. The other quarter in this country live in Hollywood and if there is a silver lining to this nightmare it’s that at least I don’t have to go there.
And as for the lawyer—well, that should be perfectly self-explanatory given everything else. Additionally, in the all-knowing wisdom of my attorney, Vivian Marquez, she insisted on coming along for what she called “the scoop of a lifetime” along with getting the guns Jane sent over out of her kitchen. Besides that, her lover, Marco, just happened to be my primary dealer in the Midwest. It should be noted that Marco may or may not be an alias or possibly even composite of several theoretical Marcos in order to protect the identity of the doomed, despite my promises towards journalistic integrity. I thought it was weird when I first discovered the dynamic of their relationship, but after some consideration they are perfect bedfellows, the only sane response to an insane world where everyone is either in the camp of the crooks and liars, and then the doomed—to which I was always in the latter. Attorneys as a matter of record and historical fact tend to not fit in such classifications, but for every dozen or so out to simply make a buck there are your Atticus Finches, purveyors of racial justice even if it means questioning rape allegations—a species nearly extinct, and your Oscar Zeta Acosta types, the attorney to my father, diplomatic defender of the dope fiend, Chicano Movement activist, and all-around psychopath. Vivian fell somewhere in between the two on most fronts so that like me she fell just outside of the circle of the One Percent, but with just enough scoundrel and thief in our DNA to provide the natural instincts to look out for the real crooks. Because it wasn’t that I never stole. I stole all the time. But I never had the heart for the heavy stuff, the big cons; the real sting. And it wasn’t that I was entirely honest either. I wasn’t. But all my lies had more truth in them than the accumulation of what the King of America and all of his cronies ever spewed out in a given propaganda cycle—or is it news? Christ, it’s getting harder and harder to tell nowadays.
On the drive down my mind was racing, signs of the insanity were everywhere. Trump billboards lined much of the Highway sponsored by various Evangelicals groups that didn’t seem to mind a man whose only commonality with their Savior was that they both seemed to spend a lot of time with whores, although somehow I doubted that ole Donald John was trying to save their souls. A mural advertising the legacy and candidacy of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, famous astrophysicist and former Democratic candidate, was being painted over. Just last week Netflix had removed his various science shows. His twitter was blocked. Mere weeks ago when questioned about his friend and colleague, Richard Dawkins, and his comments on radical Islam, Tyson failed to condemn him appropriately. That was strike one. The second and third strikes against his base happened when being questioned on the transsexual issue. When he was asked about the science behind it all he acknowledged a rift between the Gender Studies and biology departments. Strike two. When he was asked if he would denounce the biologists, he waffled. Strike three. The activists tore him to shreds. And now one of the greatest scientific minds of our generation was in the process of becoming an un-person. And I never even got around to finish watching his show. I lit another joint and cranked up the radio, trying to put it out of my mind as Chicago loomed in the distance.
An hour or so later and I’m there in the Windy City where the happy couple lives after leaving Madison both disappointed and relieved. There was word and signs everywhere you looked that something terribly crooked was happening in the capitol there, some big laundering scheme going right through the heartland of the Midwest, right up to the very top levels of Washington. But after a few weeks of digging I’m almost certain that it was just those bastards being drunk, paranoid, and mad about another losing season for the Green Bay Packers. All I found was whispers and heresy, but nothing concrete, fragments of a shadow of a story that may or may not have been there at all to begin with. T.S. Eliot might have been a megalomaniac but he was right when he said:
“Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow.”
But no one up there seemed to have any idea. I don’t know if any of those swine running things had ever met reality. The motion was going in all directions at once both faster and drunker than I could keep up with, even with the aid of mainlining cocaine and whiskey, so who the Hell knows about that? And no, that’s not rhetorical, if you have a lead, tweet me, or just send the message in a bottle through your local dope dealer, chances are it will make it my way sooner or later. All there was that I could find was nothing more than a shadow. But now it didn’t really matter and I kept telling myself that I was just worried about a passed ball between my legs at Double A and now I was being called up to the show just in time for postseason ball because one of the team’s starters got caught screwing the catcher’s wife and now he couldn’t look him in the eye to get the call. My mind was going all sorts of directions so I was thankful when I finally arrived with hopes that Vivian or Marco could put it at ease.
“We’re all fucked,” Marco cried after he opened the door completely buck naked holding a bottle of rye whiskey and with traces of blow all over his face. “Every last one of us. We’re being forced with a gun at our heads and a match and gasoline right below our Bill of Rights between one psychopathic vainglorious failed-attempt-at-a-business-man turned into a tyrannical demagogue and another. The only difference is that Kanye West’s last album, Washington Calling, is the best thing since Sgt. Peppers and Donald Trump is just a twelve-year old bully disguised in the decaying corpse of a shaved orangutan!”
“Hey Raul,” greeted Vivian. “Put your bags down and take a load off. Jane already sent a guy with the guns, they’re over there on the kitchen table. Then just give Marco the list and he’ll give you everything you need, give him the cash you got, and the rest we’ll figure out along the way. I just got to change for the twelfth time today because I can never make up my mind what to wear when I have to go to a hip-hop concert slash political rally, directly to assist in the two biggest interviews of your life with men that couldn’t be more similar in all the ways that actually count and more different in all the ways that everyone actually gives a damn about.”
“Fine,” I told her. “But I’m going to have to light up another spliff because you’re totally freaking me out right now and I need to think straight.”
“Good call. You do that. Did Jane give you the itinerary?”
“Concert’s in a few hours, the first interview shortly after on his private jet on the way to D.C. where he has another rally that we probably won’t be able to catch in full because Emperor Fuckface Von Clonstick will be having a big gala that we’re supposed to report on, dig up whatever dirt we can find, then cry and drink ourselves to sleep, and first thing in the morning: the interview. Although I’m not sure if Mexicans are allowed in the Oval Office now so you might have to wait in the lobby for that one. We’ll play it by ear.”
“It’s a sad state of affairs when you long for a president whose main fault was that he couldn’t read like Bush or know what the word “is” means, like Clinton.”
I just nodded, gave Marco the list and he gave me all the goodies I could ask for. We packed and weighed it all out while I lighted another spliff for the two of us as we talked about simpler and happier times when both of us first met and we were killing Jihadists and drilling for oil in the Middle East. Marco and I go way back. In an hour Vivian was finally ready after changing another three or four times and making us all margaritas the way only unbelievably sexy and sophisticated Latina women know how—and then we were off to Guaranteed Rate Field, drugs and guns in tow, to report on the concert and political rally where we were supposed to get at the very heart of everything that was wrong with the country today.
We had all the necessary tools: all the notes and prep-material one could hope to accrue, a pair of laptops, a few flash-drives, two note-pads, a set of Parker Jotter retractable ball-point pens with black ink, an entirely legitimate press pass for me and a forged one for my attorney, just in case anybody asked any questions or raised any concerns. And then everything to make the task manageable: a bottle of Coke with real cocaine in it to shout out for the old school, two sheets of blotter acid, laughers, a dash of raw ether, some uppers, three salt shakers full of some of the best cocaine hard earned American currency can buy, a gaggle of screamers, two ounces of hydroponic marijuana with the strand name Head Band—a personal favorite, a few hits of ketamine, a random display of downers, half a bottle of percocets, a handful of oxy in a test beaker wrapped in an actual headband—not the weed—wrapped in a rubber band, a touch of speed, a quart of tequila, rum, and vodka, lucky strikes cigarettes, a case of Mexican beer, two IPAs for the road, and a bottle of halcyon to abruptly end this nightmare I was embarking on whenever needed, along with my attorney, and we and our carton of felonies were on our way to the show. Thankfully, we had a press-box where we wouldn’t be inhibited by the masses from doing our jobs adequately as well as all the drugs and drink necessary to assimilate and process all the madness, finish the job, and get out both alive and without the threat or the reality of incarceration for the dissidence of being a red blooded, God-questioning, journalist who just so happened to have an affinity for drugs, truth, and the American way. We got in the car, lit another spliff to share, popped in the Democratic Nominee’s most popular album previously, My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy, cracked open the IPAs, and tried to be at least a little optimistic about the VP in the race as we talked about the virtues of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. We proceeded to pop a few uppers, screamers, and laughers and were on our way. Personally, I thought we were off to as good of a start as one could ask for in such conditions—lucky us.
Kanye’s Life Matters
As we approached the stadium I couldn’t help but feel that layers of reality were peeling off as the crowds poured in, echoes of revolution and upheaval filled the air amidst the screaming and cursing and clouds of smoke. It was rich with the scent of marijuana and the irony that the closing track of the album we were listening to imbued as it begged to ask the listener rhetorically through the use of an old Gil Scot Heron poem—a true poet and activist: “Who Will Survive in America?” Indeed, Gil; indeed Mr. West; who will? Who possibly can?
Thanks to one real and one faux press pass and the relaxed standards of security they brought along with an all male security staff, my female attorney, the Me Too movement, and a sly hundred, we were able to sneak in one covert fire arm. We safely and without any determents or obstacles made our way into the Diamond Box, what they called the sky box at Guaranteed Rate Field. Then we took out our notes, laptops, and meticulously set up our wide and wild array of drinks and drugs, packed our bowls, poured our drinks, prepared on the plates we were given our blotter acid in case the scenario required it, set out the necessary pills, arranged our lines of cocaine, and at last we were ready a full sixty minutes ahead of show-time to get appropriately lit beforehand for what was most assuredly going to be the Greatest Shit-Show on Earth.
In waiting our conversation went something like the following:
“Is Kanye a Sox or a Cubs fan?” Vivian asked, trying to sound casual.
“Does it matter?” I sighed.
“Pass the chronic, please.”
“He was a damn Trump supporter just a few short years ago. How did we get here?”
“He said he was in the Sunken Place, like he claimed. But then he was ‘Blue Pilled’ with the ‘truth’; the narrative became just what was needed…..”
“So what do you think he’d do first if he got into office?”
“Besides decorate the Oval Office with naked pictures of his wife and her divinely fantastic ass?”
“Stop the perpetually delayed process of building a wall on our southern border.”
“Well, I mean, a real concrete act. That was never going to happen to begin with. Pass please, don’t Boggart.”
“Apologies. I don’t know. He does seem passionate about imposing new standards and practices for both becoming an agent of law-enforcement as well as a continuous evaluation of said law-enforcement’s abilities to do their job at a certain mandated standard.”
“Yes, but do you really think passing an examination of hip-hop history is really the best method?”
“Of course not….but it may be better than what is currently in place.”
“Arguably. Unless it plays disproportionately into the current rise of white-supremacist hip-hop.”
“True. An inherent contradiction if there ever was one.”
“Keep in mind all that same shit in rock music, too. And white people didn’t invent rock either..”
“His speeches and sound-bites between songs have typically been pretty fluid and off the cuff, do you think he’ll say anything terribly new or insightful now as opposed to earlier in his tour being that this is the last scheduled show?”
“If I were a betting woman, which I sure as shit am, I’d say yes—but given the current trend in the polls he may want to play it safe and hope this gradual upward swing in his support continues; so it’s hard to say. I’d still bet yes.”
“Want to make it interesting?”
“Sexual servitude for a day?”
“My thoughts exactly. What if it’s too much of a grey area to clearly call?”
“We can either switch it up on an hourly basis or by session; or perhaps use Marco as a third-party relatively objective deciding factor.”
“Given my mixed feelings of wanting to constantly ravage you and my respect for your romantic and sexual union with my former brother in arms, let’s choose the latter, even though I’m sure he’d side with you over me.”
“Fair enough. Pass it, please, Boggie.”
“Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”
“I believe that’s a micro aggression against my minority and sexual identity.”
“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
After some further playful banter and speculation along with the obvious consumption of drugs and alcohol and a very American dinner of hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, and crackerjacks it was time. The lights at center stage initially dimmed and the man himself, the Democratic Nominee for the Presidency of the United States of America, Kanye West, stepped onstage and into the spotlight in front of a podium that stood before a painted mural featuring presidents of the past, historic civil rights leaders, and pioneers in both R&B and hip-hop, along with the countenance of Vanilla Ice, presumably to appeal to the ironic hipster demographic, resulting in an uproarious applause for his fans, backers, and voters alike. He wore his designer jeans, his tuxedo jacket, unbuttoned to reveal his black t-shirt displaying the Kanye’s Life Matters logo, whose narcissistic and idiotic existence has somehow in equal parts of mind-bending irony and sheer commercial and political brilliance managed to unify both backers and detractors to the Black Lives Matter movement alike. To the social justice types it reinforced the importance of a black man’s life and his unique life experience and to the capitalists it fed into the validity of his ability as a businessman who would help a struggling economy given the sales of those shirts as they served as a political movement and business model. It’s literally so fucking stupid it’s absolutely genius. For a whole three and a half minutes he stood before a thunderous applause, waiting for it to die down as he held his hands above his heads with peace signs on both fingers either to emulate or insult the political narcissism of Nixon. I couldn’t tell which either due to the pure cognitive dissonance of the display or the drugs already in my system.
He began with the following once applause died down to an appropriate degree: “You ready to get political up in this bitch?” to the response of sheer fanaticism of either a Beatles concert or a Nazi rally before launching into the first song. The rest of the lights on the stage went up showing the various musicians, his current backing band for the tour, The Roots, along with legendary guitarist Jack White to help court the white voters, and two Mexican DJ’s for the sake of racial inclusivity alike. The album was being lauded by many as a definitive work of the decade capturing the thoughts and feelings of a nation more divided than it had been in decades while others applauded its ambition but felt he was in over his head. Personally, I think both are true—and that should speak more about a sign of the times than as him as an artist. He called it Washington Calling and it primarily sampled classics from several different genres often mashing up in the same song. He kicked right into arguably the best track on his new landmark album, “Say it Loud—I’m Black and Proud (The Sequel)” featuring samples of various hits from James Brown along with some cutting edge lyrics and backing verses rapped in exquisite fashion from his VP choice, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, absolutely crushing it and leading you to ask yourself: is there honestly anything this man can’t do?
The crowd went wild. Vivian and I couldn’t help bobbing our heads, rapping along, as I tried to take notes. And thus began the final act of the longest and strangest presidential campaigns in this country’s long and sordid history, leading me to kindly request that while I scribble away in my notebook if my attorney couldn’t roll up the fattest blunt of the best chronic available because as instantly as the number reached its final verse I knew deep within my gut that it would be of the utmost necessity.
From that point on the evening’s events were a dazzling display of brilliance, showmanship, tyrannical cow-towing, demagoguery rhetoric, acts within acts as one stand-up routine was interwoven with a another only to end in a guitar solo, and the best goddamn hip-hop show I’ve ever seen. “Inner City Blues Make Me Wanna Riot” mixed both Marvin Gaye and The Clash causing, from my count at least, a dozen acts of mostly self regulated vandalism, several of them burning a Nazi flag they had somehow smuggled in. Luckily security seemed to be anticipating such activities and acted swiftly to literally and figuratively put out the fires. Of course this led quiet deliberately to his cover of “Fuck tha Police” which he definitely seemed to have planned. He brought out one of the men who originally performed the song, Dr. Dre. It was there something hit me: he was playing both sides. The police were far too fast and too efficient in the matter for it to have been unplanned. Yet he knew of the inevitable audience response as he tore into the whole racist system of police despite the self-evident fact that he fully acknowledged their necessity. It was genius. He probably even produced and sold the Nazi flags, although there is likely no way I can prove it. It was remarkable. The song was pretty dope, too.
He went through a few other numbers with bits of impromptu speeches, or so it seemed. They all seemed too senseless to have been full scripted but at this time and place in American politics, who the Hell possibly knows? Maybe that was part of his genius of which he continued to remind us. But it all came to a mad screeching halt only followed by a crescendo of chaos during his final number which detailed his political platform at least as much as there was detail, or even a platform, for anything that he was doing. He announced a special guest, his friend and collaborator Jay-Z, and the last number: a brand new version of “99 Problems” which catalogued every problem they had with the Trump administration. The place was a madhouse. Reporters jotted down what they could. The smart ones just hit record on their devices and held them up. Joints were passed, booze slugged down, and a whole cacophony of insanity swelled.
When it was over he dropped the microphone. He then walked away to the most thunderous applause I could possibly imagine. And I can imagine an awful lot. I mean, I’m a writer. It’s my job. I also do a lot of drugs. And four years ago I was in Chicago with Vivian and Marco when the Cubs broke their curse and won it all. I’ve heard loud. I can imagine louder. But this? This was sheer lunacy, it was mental illness masquerading as politics, the cracking open of the American mind after a four year binge on Trump. It was beautiful and terrifying.
More drugs were in order, and booze, so I obliged. Normally I would chronicle them to acknowledge any possible journalistic bias. But somewhere along the line any notion of what I was doing or had done was gone. And for one mad Zen moment in time I was at peace with what I knew would one day kill me, what would in fact engulf all of us, the void; and I basked in the warm thought of nonexistence and a pure and complete lack of consciousness. Vivian had to slap me into cognition a few times, I think, to be honest. “Time to wake up, asshole,” she yelled again and again along with several far less complementary titles.
“My God, he’s going to win,” I muttered. We’ve loaned out our salvation for a moment of bliss, like an addict trying to gain control, or a politician trying to appear hip and down for one awkward moment that is remembered long after the name itself is worn off the last of our faded newspapers as they die around the very people he promised to help. And that was it, all she wrote. Kanye just played the best hand going into the final stretch that I’ve ever seen. It was over. Everything was over. And I knew it. So I just sat there stupefied and let Vivian ream me out because I couldn’t care less about that anymore. So I just looked at her and after a few more seconds of yelling she stopped and it seemed at last that she understood. We just sat there dumbly for what felt like a lifetime. Then she just said “OK. But as your attorney, I advise you to saddle up to reality here and get back on ‘em. You might need to do a few lines. Correction, we might need to do a few lines.”
Solemnly I nodded, opened up the bag, poured it out, cut them up into equal portions, and went to town. “Now it’s time.” She said.
“Right!” I declared, my voice sounding strange to myself.
We put on our jackets, our shades, grabbed our bags, our credentials, fake and legitimate and walked out and as soon as we were a good dozen yards away from the bulk of security I pulled out my last pre-made joint of headband and sparked up. Vivian started hitting me but I didn’t care and after a moment she didn’t either and we just went along. We were nearly running out right up until a security guard coming out of a restroom grabbed me and knocked the dope right out of my hand, pushing me against the wall. Between the paranoia, the political dystopia that we have just entered a brand new realm of, along with a whole new level of surrealism, the drugs, the pressure, and the security guard knocking me down with all the force and authority of an ex-linebacker that has turned to the bottle and has something to prove, I passed out—total blackness.
When I woke up I was on a plane sitting directly across from the man who seemed fated to be the 46th President of the United States of America, the same man who was now holding my own gun at me, Kanye West.
My Dark Beautiful Twisted Political Platform
“My deepest apologies,” Kanye said calmly once he saw me coming to as I looked down the barrel of the gun. “Mr. Williams wants to relay his apologies for again becoming a bit overzealous.” I sat there motionless, a still life of a doped up journalist. I said nothing. “But here’s where my question comes in for you, even though I know this is your interview: why the gun?”
“Are you kidding?” I finally belted out as blood began to circulate again. “We’re in the south side of Chicago and in the world of politics packing anything less is bringing a knife to a gun fight. It’s a world gone mad out there, my friend. It is open season on journalists and the search for any truth the other side may not care for. We’ve long since entered Bat Country.”
“Lucky for American I’m the black Bruce Wayne then,” he said putting down my piece with one hand as one of security guards reached over to grab it. With the other hand the soon to be president reached into his jacket pocket to pull out what looked like a cigar and a zippo engraved on it simply the number 46. He lit up and as the smell hit me I knew it was no cigar. He sat one leg crossed over the other sitting comfortably and relaxed, head titled back, under the soft glow of the dimmed overhead light in a darkened corner of the plane, relatively secluded from the rest of his staff, friends, and family but still under the ever watchful gaze of his personal body guards who I’m assuming pale in comparison to the size of his VP pick, American icon, former wrestler and actor now turned politician, The Rock. I looked around for my things, and for Vivian, but I couldn’t find anything. It was just me and him. I wanted to say something but out of my fifty million questions I couldn’t think which to start with. He took my silence as an encouragement to continue. “But tonight I’ll let you be my Robin if you play it right….” he began.
“Is that my weed?” was the second thing that I had ever said in my first encounter with what I believed to be the forty-sixth president of our great nation.
“Head band is among one of my personal favorite strands, I have to admit, it’s a weakness. You see Dave, er, Mr. Williams, that is who you came into contact with, is fully aware of this fact and recognized the scent. His actions then were simply to accommodate me. But again Mr. Williams and I wish to offer you our sincerest apologies. I hope a few hundred thrown your way for it and the opportunity to share some of this delightful gift from God’s own personal garden with a true musical and political genius will do as we conduct our business, the interview that is. I hope this will suit you well. If not, maybe a few thousand. His behavior is unacceptable after all. And I do love my Head Band.” He handed the blunt my way.
“No, it suits me,” I said. “Save at least a bit for me though, even if you cut back on the dough a little.” I wouldn’t say it to him at the moment but I was impressed with his taste. The man knew his bud. Whether he knew anything else at all relevant to the political, religious, and socioeconomic international cluster-fuck we all lovingly call the 21st Century remains to be seen.
“A compromise. I can dig it. That’s what politics is all about after all.”
“Indeed, Mr. West. Where’s Vivian, might I ask? As well as my things. I’ll need to record this if it’s going to make the cover. And to take notes, you see.” I was wondering if the paranoia was natural to the situation or if the potency of the weed had accelerated those effects, letting my mind get away from me.
“Certainly, Raul. Your things are on the way right now,” he said as he looked right past me to both of his security guards motioning for one of them to get my effects quickly. He turned and smiled to me. “And Vivian is talking with Bey and The Rock.”
“Beyonce is here? Is Shawn here too? And Dwayne?”
“Don’t be simple, my friend. It’s beneath you. They tell me you’re quite good, you know. I don’t read per-se, I’ m a proud non-reader in fact, but a few of my people read. They tell me things. Good things about you. Your father as well, in fact. So Pops was in the Hell’s Angels, huh? That’s some gangsta shit right there.”
“Something like that. But it’s good to hear, sir. Good to hear, indeed,” I said giving the blunt back as I saw in the background the husky security guard was already making his way to us with my bag. “I’m glad the word of mouth on me is positive. I can’t believe it, but I’m glad, nonetheless. But my visit really isn’t about me. It’s about you. And what I want to know is if what they say about you is true….”
“Oh, you can only believe the good stuff,” he said nonchalantly, puffing away.
“Well, then let’s get to it,” I began as I took out my recorder, my notes, a few pens. I was ready. And by the look of it, Kanye was certain he had been ready for this from just about the moment he was born.
“Let’s do this bottom up. Start with the basics,” I explained. “The question first and foremost on most everyone’s mind, Kanye, what was it exactly that made you switch sides? Not long ago you were a Trump supporter. Now you are one of his biggest opponents and critics? What changed?”
He took another puff and passed it to me. “Back in 2018 we had a dinner at the White House. I said some things….maybe I shouldn’t have said. The next morning before I left I saw something in him I hadn’t seen before. And it terrified me. I had shade of it in the past, and that’s probably what attracted us to each other. But what I saw, it was so clear, so transcendent…I told him about this, and well….We both said some things…We shouldn’t have. After that….things would never again be the same between us.”
“What did you see?”
“I saw myself. And from there I knew that the only person as self-obsessed as me that should be allowed to run things…is me.”
“Wouldn’t that make you just as dangerous then?” I passed the blunt back.
“A self-obsessed black man in America can never be as dangerous as a self-obsessed white man. It’s a fact. The balances against my ego will forever be larger than what Donald has to face on a given day. Because of that my ideas and politics will face far greater challenges helping to ensure that that they’re the best ideas.”
“Or that they’re just being shouted the loudest,” I offer.
“That’s true. After I realized what we were all up against I realized that the only way to beat him was to join the other side. I renounced all my old beliefs, my controversial statements about slavery and everything that went along with it. I was red-pilled, then I was blue-pilled, and now I pretty much am the Matrix.”
“What do you mean by that exactly?”
“The Left knows the Right is wrong, and now the Left is right. It’s common sense. The message is all that matter’s then. The speaker is irrelevant so long as it comes from the same source, that it speaks for the dispossessed, and that it does so in the loudest way possible. And who is more vociferous and attention-grabbing than me?”
“So the Democrats and the Left have been able to forgive you for some of your more…controversial statements?”
“I just had to admit that the white-supremacist and patriarchal fabric of Western Society had blinded me to the truth. The evils of capitalism had me in the Sunken Place like the documentary Get Out shows us. But now that I’m aware of those blinders, I can point them out to everyone.”
“Great. Can you point some out then?”
“You know that to question the Patriarchy is the enable the Patriarchy?” Kanye stared me down while puffing away.
“Then we better not question it, shall we?”
“Exactly,” he passed the blunt my way.
“So is that it?”
“No. My album sales were remarkably down for a time afterwards,” Kanye explained. “The protests against me, the tweeting, the memes. I realized if I can’t beat them, join them.”
“What makes you think that Trump can be beaten then?” I asked, handing over the weed.
“Trump is only one man.”
“But what about his followers?”
“They follow a strong man. Defeat the strong man, they have nothing to follow.”
“But you can’t defeat the Democrats?”
“The Democrats defeat themselves every damn day. They don’t need my help for that. But the Left is willing to eat itself if it can’t get its way. And it will burn down everything else in its way to achieve what it wants. You can’t beat that.”
“Aren’t you worried your tribe will disavow you for this?”
“Not if it isn’t in the headlines. Nobody reads the fine print these days. Nuance is dead.”
“Well, then, let’s move on to the other big one. What exactly qualifies you to be president?”
“Many things,” he muttered casually, offering me the drug.
“First, Donald Trump. Now Donny is a dear friend of mine, even after everything…… and I’ve got nothing but love for him. But the man is a garbage president. Let’s be real here. He too had no real qualifications to speak of, so right there the bar is pretty low. Anything he can do I can do better. I mean, have you ever heard him try to rap? Dude makes Vanilla Ice look like Tupac.”
“No doubt. But what else?” I passed it back.
“Secondly, I’m a genius. Everyone knows it. Everyone’s talking about it. I’m a genius. So there’s that. Third, and I hadn’t really thought about it this way until recently, but one of my homey’s cousin’s daughter explained something to me. She’s studying sociology, so she knows things. You see, I’m a black man. And therefore as a black man I know from my personal experience and the experience of those around me of the many systemic forms of oppression. Therefore I understand them as a black man better than all those white dudes and all of their books that I refuse to read can possibly know. I just had to open my eyes to my black experience and shut out the white propaganda of the capitalistic society that the music industry is entrenched in. Plus, I’m a genius black man, so I understand it on a deeper level than most; especially with the additional oppressive layers us genius black men all face. They be straight up killin’ us for being too damn smart for the system. Think of all the genius black men out there. Tupac: dead. Biggie: dead. Prince: dead. Otis: dead. Coltrane: dead.”
“Neil DeGrasse Tyson is still kicking.”
“I beat that fool’s ass in the primary, if he was such a genius then why didn’t he win?”
“There has been plenty written about that, mostly by the National Review—but still.”
“Boy, you know I don’t read,” he offered me the blunt.
“Right. Well, even in one of the debates with you he admitted to not going to church and to being an agnostic. He never recovered in the polls after that.”
“And what kinda damn sense does that make? Fool don’t even worship no God. How is he supposed to have American ethics if you don’t worship God? How he supposed to relate to or understand the plight of the Muslims? Plus, all them scientists he hangs out, Richard Dawkins and shit, all them motherfuckers Islamophobic as Hell.”
“Right, well I think it’s a bit more complex than that…”
“America don’t and that’s what matters in a democracy.”
“No truer words, my friend. So you think you have a better insight into the plight of Muslim Americans?” I returned the marijuana.
“No doubt. Yasiin Bey, the artist formerly known as Mos Def is a good personal friend of mine. He’s a Muslim. He got my back. He’s helping me out with all that. Also, my step-dad, err step-mom…. is transsexual, so I got that going for me, personal council on all things of the LGBQT community. And for women’s issues, well, I got my wife, you see, but even more: I got Queen Bey,” he said calmly puffing away.
“Beyonce will be in your cabinet then?”
“Bitch, please, I ain’t puttin’ her in no cabinet. She ain’t Harry Potter, growin’ up in a goddamn broom closet.”
“No, I mean to say she is going to be in your counsel then? As an advisor?”
“Oh, definitely. For sure, son,” he handed me the shrinking blunt.
“Why didn’t she run?”
“Well, she has her reasons; you’d have to talk to her about that. But one thing she told me is America doesn’t deserve her right now.”
“Isn’t that a little elitist?”
“Not at all, it’s pragmatic. Look what they did to Obama, man. A light skinned Ivy League educated brother brought up by his white as Hell grandparents and white America had such a hissy fit they elected someone the Klan supported the last time around. You really think America is really ready for a badass black woman from the south? No, the way she sees it, America gotta prove they can at least tolerate a black man in the Oval Office before she even gonna consider a run.”
“Damn. That’s the God’s honest truth.”
“Damn straight, my brother. Damn straight.”
“What else makes you qualified to be president?” I returned the weed.
“People listen to me. And they remember what you say when you put it to a dope ass beat. Plus, you heard my new album, right? Got a dozen magazines saying it’s the best rap album of the Century, even better than my last best ever album. People saying it’s the best protest music since Bob Dylan and Public Enemy, yo. That’s for real.”
“But many others point out to that response that you only wrote some of the lyrics on that record, that you had a lot of help with the process and several songs featuring other rappers from Jay Z, to Kendrick, Chance, and Eminem.”
“True, true, they helped. But I listened, I let them guide me, just as I will let my broom closet, as you say, help me as POTUS.”
“Cabinet. Broom closets were the Harry Potter part.”
“Right. But like Harry Potter everything I do is magic, son. And all my advisors, they like my Patronus. But unlike Harry, Voldermordt ain’t my daddy. So we all good.”
“I think you’re confusing that with Star Wars….”
“Exactly. I’m the motherfuckin’ Jedi who Lived. And I got the One Ring. I’m the way, the truth, and the light.”
“Now you’re just all over the place.”
“I’m everywhere son. Every post goin’ viral. Every track a hit on the radio. Sold out stadiums everywhere I go. I’m everywhere. I’m the Future. In fact, I might have to sue Future the rapper, now that I think about it. He’s a close personal friend. But he aint the Future, I am.”
“Right. Let’s switch gears, Kanye.”
“Word,” he passed the roach to me.
“So why did Kris Allen do a better version of “Heartless” than you?”
“I’m going to respond to that as if you asked me about my policies.”
“No doubt, LeBron better be taking notes. The first thing you must understand, is I’m a genius, as I’ve said, so all my policies will be genius. It’s really rather simple.”
“Makes sense to me. So what will be your first priority as president?”
“To bring everyone together. This nation is more divided than ever.”
“More so than the Civil War?”
“Bitch, this aint Glory. I’m no Denzel Washington. I ain’t dying in this one.”
“Right, forgive me. Continue.”
“As I was saying, we need to find a way to come together. That is where my connections and pull in the music industry comes in.”
“So you’re not willing to makes sacrifices in your current industry in order to focus on domestic and international concerns?” I handed back what was left of the Head-Band.
“No, I’m using my power in that industry to my political advantage. For domestic concerns as I said my first goal is greater unity, to start a nationwide conversation. So I’m gonna give everyone a voice. Every neighborhood in America will be hooked up with a local producer and through subsidies be able to produce an album created by a communal effort to get their messages, their ideas, their stories across. We finna bridge the divide through heart and soul.”
“Will that be cost effective? Our nation is already in terrible debt.”
“Can you put a price on the soul of America? If we need to move forward in dollars we need to start making sense, son. We need a healing. And ain’t healthcare supposed to be a right?”
“Damn. Well, when you put it that way. How are you using music on an international basis?”
“For international concerns, particularly ISIS and other Islamic radicals I’m getting Yasiin out of retirement to put out a record about the need for a religious reform. Plus I’ve been in touch with Bono. He’s pretty much like the Queen of England or something over there. But Queenie never dropped nothing like The Joshua Tree. People will listen to Bono. King of Ireland and shit.”
“What is your stance on global warming? What do you plan to do?”
“Shit, son, you know I know Leo.”
“No, DiVinci. Don’t be simple, yo, it’s beneath you. But yea, Leo. That homey in the broom closet, er, cabinet for sure on that shit.”
“I know DiCaprio is a big advocate for clime change but is he really qualified to take that on?”
“Son, there aint nothin’ that motherfucker can’t do. He goes to a dream within a dream, son, that shit is deep. That Inception is the shit. And you ever see Catch Me If You Can? Boy was a pilot, a doctor, a lawyer….”
“That was just a movie though, and besides wasn’t the whole point that he was really just a con artist who pretended to be those things?”
“So, what’s the difference? This is America. We were founded by con artists. Donald Trump now continues that great legacy—as will I.”
“So you admit to being a con artist?”
“Bitch, we talking about Leo now. Keep up. Point is he can do it. He’s great. You ever see The Revenant? That brother killed the guy who played Bane in that one, the guy who almost killed Batman. So basically that means Leo is more of a badass than Batman when you think about it.”
“Yeah, I’m not so sure that’s how all that works.”
“Its movie magic, son, the kind of magic I work every day, the kind of magic Leo and I can make happen if elected. He’s my Dumbledore and I’m Luke Skywalker, motherfucker!”
“Well, I do feel as if a spell has been cast over me talking to you. I barely have an idea what we’re talking about.”
“Exactly. Magic, son. Magic.”
He sat there a long time and didn’t say anything. He finished off the rest of that blunt of head-band, too, not once again offering the last bit to me. After a few minutes of this with the two of us staring at each other, he finally said, “Well I’m glad we could have this discussion, yo. But I’m afraid I have to prepare for my next speech I’m about to give as soon as we land in Washington.” So I shook his hand and wished him well. Besides I had to prepare what was to come next. And therefore more drugs were in order.
And the Void Stared Back
One of the goons brought me back to my seat as everything began to sink in and that doomed feeling that had been rotting in my gut began to swell. These were the bastards that we were all stuck with if any change was to be ushered in and this was how we had chosen to fight the madness on the other side. Criticisms of the people or the ideas or the tactics were treated as partisan heresy. Blasphemers were sent off to a proverbial Siberia that doesn’t contaminate the echo chambers. But yet I am a journalist with a devotion to the truth as I saw it. I knew I was going to have to soon write this very piece and to be brutally honest about everything: the dope, the sex, the scandals, the insanity, the brilliance, the sheer magic and mystery of the whole thing, and the knowledge that maybe Trump wouldn’t completely sink this country after all, that maybe he was just the first iceberg that came along that initially punctured the Titanic.
Maybe the next hit was inescapable as we ricocheted back and forth between opposing politics and that each side would shout any direction but the Left, or anything but the Right. If we continue like this it will be inevitable that we all march along like lemmings towards our demise to the land where all dreams go to die once they’ve reached their goals, when they wanted more than they could afford, and just kept on spinning until the gears and the structure of that whole contraption eventually fell right the fuck apart. It is a fight between an imagined utopia that doesn’t exist as Thomas Moore tried to tell us in the sixteenth century and the return to a past that was never what we thought it to be and that never actually left us in the first place as Faulkner warned again and again.
But we never listened. We never even tried because we’re Americans and that’s what we do. We founded a land that wasn’t ours and killed off and left for dead the people who were here before us because we didn’t want to listen to them when they said, hey, it was nice we came over and all, but it’s getting late and we all have to get up early in the morning, so if you can let yourself out, that’d be just swell. Nope. We killed them straight off. We decided building a country was too much work so we got the Africans and Chinese and eventually the Mexicans to do it for us, and when everyone said it was wrong, we didn’t listen. We killed each other over it but we never listened. Even after we killed each other we didn’t even listen to or decide upon the actual reasons we killed each other. Scientists tell us the climate is changing and the earth is going to die if we don’t fix our shit, didn’t listen. But the paradox is not listening also gave us the permission to be great.
They told us we couldn’t get a man on the moon. Boom, we shut them up. Fitzgerald pointed out the world once said a poor son of a dirt farmer from the Midwest named James Gatz could never build an empire on the backbone of American hypocrisy and transform into the literal embodiment of the American Dream named Jay Gatsby; and he does the damn thing even though he knows it will kill him. The inversion of that same dream came into a nightmare a century down the line as the whole machinery of the country eroded and broke down somewhere when they said a reality TV star and failed businessman with a narcissistic personality disorder and no knowledge or experience in politics, history, science, or anything pertinent to the job shouldn’t be president. Did we listen? Hell no. Because we’re Americans, goddamnit! It was the American dream that nobody wanted to wake up from in order to face the music. And that’s how those dreams die and defer, to wilt and sag and explode as Langston Hughes also warned us. But again, did we listen? Perhaps it’s fitting that my father not that long ago went out to rediscover that every elusive dream of America in Vegas and now it was up to me to write about its death in Washington as I try to keep down that path he set. This was what was on my mind as I sat down again in my seat. It’s also probably why I didn’t even to think who the person next to me was until she turned.
“So how’d the first big interview go, Thompson?”
“Goddamnit Vivian. Holy Hell, I did not see you there. What happened to you? Is it true, did you see her, the Queen herself?”
“That I did. Her husband as well as Dwane “The Rock” Johnson and I all had dinner. Beyonce played me her new album, too. Although to be honest I didn’t fully absorb it because The Rock was telling us all about how astrophysics actually influence his new economic theories about systems not as old and outdated as capitalism and socialism, but something new altogether.
“Jesus Viv……next time you and I need to switch places for these kinds of things.”
“I would but I don’t think Latinos are allowed in the Oval Office now.”
“Hmmmm. Damn. On every level, damn. To Hell with it all, Vivian.”
“Tell me about it. I’ll be lucky if I can even get close through the Alt. Right rally right outside the White House, the ones protesting the protestors who demand for their country to be run by what the Alt. Right describes as communists, snowflakes, libtarded atheist-Muslims, or as the Left calls grownups. Or maybe it’s the Left protesting the Right. I can’t keep it together anymore”
“No one can. The hits just keep on coming, don’t they?”
“I still can’t believe the Left and the Democrats. They took him back. After everything…..the ex-boyfriend from Hell; and they took Kanye back.”
“He said something about the matter and I have a theory about it. It’s a message. Conform or be destroyed.”
“It has been suggested that the progressives have a dogma of sorts that cannot be deviated from. If that’s the case, it doesn’t matter the speaker. They think they can use him as a puppet, a mouthpiece. It’s a message to everyone who goes off script: conform or be destroyed. They chose him to show the pathways to power went through them and that even a self proclaimed demigod like Kanye would have to kneel before its congregation. But it’s also a tool. They believe the louder and crazier the mouthpiece, the better chance it has as activism against Trump.”
“But they can’t control him. No one can.”
“I know. But from the pieces that I’ve gathered they believe to have a system in place for that. Stick to the script or endure the wrath. Keep your friends in line or you’re guilty by association. It works best for celebrities because they have the most to lose. With The Rock and Beyonce and Jay-Z working so closely with him, they’ll all have to keep each other in check. In fairness, it has been effective. Look at DeGrasse Tyson, a few beats off in respect to religion and biology and he’s out. Facebook even shut down his page the other day after all the petitions gathered enough support. But it’s still a system and the human condition, especially one as mercurial and insane as Kanye can never fully fit into any system. And the progressives are failing to see that, because ultimately they always error on the side of giving those systems too much blame or credit. Because most everything to them is the fault of systems they can’t recognize or at least properly diagnose the level of crazy at hand, even when it’s staring them right in the face and especially if it’s reading from the agreed upon script the society demands. It’s the very reason Batman works as a concept. If the system could in fact be fixed from within and that is all it was, you wouldn’t need a Caped Crusader to work outside of it, you would just need Bruce Wayne as Governor or Mayor. But some people can’t be fixed, reasoned with, or even bought; and no system can contain them.”
“Why all the Batman analogies?”
“I think it was something else West said, his main message really….”
“So what did King Kanye say?”
“The guys who can beat up Batman should be allowed in his broom closet like Harry Potter.”
“It’s a Brave New World, honey. 1984 and The Hand-Maid’s Tale all in one. And I’m more lost at sea than Ishmael after the big showdown between Ahab and the Whale. How was the album?”
“You know how Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On is considered the pinnacle R&B protest album? Well not anymore. She has a version of that song actually with Jay Z rapping over a few of the verses. It’s a masterpiece.”
“She’s planning a campaign of her own isn’t she?”
“It was all very hush-hush and nobody could confirm or deny anything, but you could feel it in the room. The seed to something far greater.”
“So that’s how it is now. Damn. It’s brilliant and terrifying in equal parts. They’re all literally putting the pop in populism. It’s a whole other level. What about The Rock’s theories?”
“Well, I’m no expert economist, but I’m no novice either and I have to tell you, it sounds like something that could really change the world if the bureaucrats, the hard Left and the long gone Right can actually come together on something. The problem is I don’t know if it will gain the political traction. It was part of the reason his initial campaign faltered and fell behind Kanye. As he put it, he’s too sexy to be taken seriously.”
“Ain’t that the God’s honest truth?” The pilot came on then, informing us of our upcoming landing. “So what’s the next step?”
“We land in D.C. and we say goodbye to Kanye and his Crew, Queen and all. Then we make our way to the White House, the Lion’s Den, as you put it. The Gala is about to start. But first we have to make our way through the protesters. The Hard Left. The Gone Right. We’ll need to make our way through both. I don’t know if it’s possible. And once there, I doubt I can get in. You have the real credentials and I don’t think I will exactly fit in with the Trump staff.”
“All right, but if we’re going to get out of this whole deal alive we’re going to have to be in the right frame of mind.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“I didn’t want to have to face this reality but we may have to open up the ether.”
“I was afraid you would say that. I’m also terrified you might be right. What did the good doctor say about that again?”
“The exact quote eludes me. But something about nothing being wilder or more depraved than one in the depths of a binge on the nightmare it causes.”
“Yes, but he hasn’t seen a woman of color on it as she descends onto D.C.”
“You and your identity politics,” I laughed darkly.
“You and your white privilege,” she smirked. The laughter didn’t last. It was hollow. For a moment we just stopped and stared at each other.
Between Two Worlds
We only had a limited amount of time to go through the usual motions of appearing to maintain some semblance of sanity before all such hope was lost and we became one with the twisted and the deranged. So it was important to appear with it and together in the limited time we had. After the plane landed we said our goodbyes and our thanks, grabbed a taxi and we went as far as we could. But soon the crowds demanded the rest of the way to the White House be on foot, as we had to trek through America’s own heart of impenetrable darkness. In every step closer we got further from anything at all reminiscent of reality. But in that final surge forward we knew there must be a meeting of the minds as we witnessed what lay before us: sheer and utter madness reacting to one another.
It started with the Alt Right and a protest they had planned outside of the capitol against Shariah Law. I even wrote a piece about the movement a while back, an open letter if you will, and suggested to both sides and their respective critics in a mad attempt at reaching some sort of bipartisan consensus that a march about the separation of church and state was a far better idea, citing several current and historical examples in which the lack of such laws caused massive unrest. Of course I was called a bigot by the Left and the Right for entirely different reasons, but I tried damn it. I truly did. They never listened for reasons so painfully stupid I refuse to begin to recall exactly whatever they were. But here they were protesting Shariah Law while supporting theocrat after theocrat on the Religious Right ticket with the irony being woefully lost on them. So there was that. They gathered outside the Whitehouse en masse.
Then there was Antifa, the counter-protestors, the group of thugs that dress in black with ski masks wrecking havoc in their wake in order to smash the Patriarchy and anything else that resembled whatever they thought that meant exactly. Collateral damage be damned if it meant saving the world from fascism, even though that very attitude is one that defines fascism. Noam Chomsky himself condemned them and was torn to shreds in the process. They had good intentions I believe, for what it’s worth, just the architects of change so often also do as they pave the way to Hell for everyone to follow. They yelled and screamed and threatened the other side as they chanted, “Hijab is Empowerment!”
The webs were coming together and any safe ground to stand on was shrinking rapidly. Making our way through these factions was the only way to get to where we were headed in our quest for truth in a world turned upside down. One side trolled the other, the other roared back, and it just grew and grew. Surviving both mobs as they tried to eat each other alive seemed an entirely impossible as we stood there staring ahead of the herculean task before us of making it through this all alive and in one piece.
“We’re doomed,” Vivian said. “There is no way we’re getting through this mess without having to kick someone’s ass. God only knows how much shit that is going to bring us. The cops aren’t far away. We can’t afford any missteps here. You have enough drugs on you to croak Keith Richards once and for all and I’m Hispanic.”
“No,” I said as I lit my cigarette. “I think I know a way.” I took a long drag.
“Well, what the hell is it, asshole?”
“You and your identity politics. We can use them as bargaining chips to get past each respective group.” I laid out the game plan and we hashed it out the details as much as our slowly melting minds could handle. “The first thing we need is a MAGA hat. Immediately, I was offered just that from such a fine specimen of humanity whom I offered a twenty. It was as easy as taking candy from a baby and at least as illegal because I always carry fake twenties for such an occasion. We went over the plan. Now was the execution. The Antifa was the first obstacle. I was nearly bludgeoned with a baseball bat for my headwear when Vivian got in the way. “He’s my husband!” she cried. The group was confounded to say the least. Some really blew their gaskets. But they dared not try to marginalize or harm a Latina. She was my safety net again and again. I can’t tell you how many times she had to profess her undying love for me in order to get through everyone. All I can say is that I hope the memory of those words will be enough to get me through those cold and lonely winters writing endless editorial after opinion piece on the true nature of the American madness that Ginsberg tried to tell us all about when he howled that the greatest minds of his generation fell to just such evil and foreboding forces of disaster followed fast and then faster. When we went through the Alt Right camps the Trump hat did the trick for the most part. But some were keen to notice our press badges. To Trump and his supporters the free press was the enemy and an obstacle to everything they were trying to accomplish in a way that would make Dick Cheney blush despite his lack of a human heart. Most of the time the classic white boy jive you pick up at your cousin’s Fourth of July barbecues is enough to get you out of such jams. But once things got really heated I had to open up my jacket to the fiend who accosted me to reveal my hand gun and conceal and carry forgery that can at least fool most folks on first glance. “I’m an American, aren’t I? NRA member since I was eighteen.” At first that didn’t appear enough. “Look man, get your hands off me and get a hold of yourself. You don’t want to take me down. I’m a journalist. I know what the other side is planning. I just had a sit down with Kanye West himself and I know every damn thing they are up to. You bastards need me if you want to win this thing.”
Finally the ghoul let go of my arm and Vivian breathed for the first time in a hot and long minute. “A meeting with that thug rapper, huh? Well now I know why you’re carrying,” he sighed a relief.
“Now let me get through. Time is of the essence if we are going to get this thing done.”
“Godspeed, soldier,” the nut saluted me. To the most innocent looking sucker in the crowd I gave my firearm, knowing it wouldn’t get help me into the White House, telling the kid it was for his own good. Finally we made it and checked in our credentials. I lost the hat because my stomach couldn’t take it anymore and we were beyond the crowds. They were at least a few repeals of the Bill of Rights away from not allowing press in that didn’t support him But only a few. Mine passed no problem. We were breathing heavy as security now got a good look at my attorney.
“Camilia Ramirez!” one of the lackeys passing by security called out. Vivian didn’t know what to say. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you. You were supposed to be serving the guests over an hour ago. This isn’t how you check in. Go around back, like always.” Vivian turned to look at me and just within her eyes I watched her scream as loud and endlessly as Hilary Clinton must have on the night she lost to that clown after preparing for her entire life to get the job. But then she turned around and was gone. Now it was me, all alone, my mentor lost to the devil only knows what, like a slain Obi Wan Kanobi or a fallen Gandalf the Grey. But they both came back from the dead. Who knows what fate lies ahead, I thought as I sensed the harder drugs really beginning to take hold as I proceeded into the press entrance to this Hell of Hells: The White House.
What followed can only be told through the lens of paranoia and a man lost to the depths and depravities and an ether binge with a little bit of acid on the side. Maybe it was the drugs or my wild imagination, or maybe it was the honest to goodness truth, but the last thing I saw before I walked in was a sign that appeared just as the transformations started to take place: “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter.”
The Most Bigly Greatest Best Totally Presidential Gala Ever
The email Jane sent about the gala had all the pertinent information, the back stories, the motives, the dirt and grime on everyone. But as the drugs began to take hold it all just looked like hieroglyphics. It had something to do with a big charity merger with every big shot politician and CEO shaking hands and trading secrets with everyone gaining either money or political protection of some sort, all in the name of philanthropy. But it wasn’t what I saw at all.
This wasn’t your regular old wretched hive of scum and villainy you might find at any local Cantina with their shady old wheeling and dealing ways. They were as pale as Putin’s ass in the Russian winter. They were long and lanky and short and sideways, old and withered but reveling in the most maniacal laughter you will see outside of a Bond movie. They spoke in hollow and oily ways and with every insinuation of guilt muddled in between the lines of diplomacy they had cut and laid out on the table from the stash of the uncut Colombian cocaine they all helped smuggle and launder across the boarders they advocated for strengthening. They weren’t the supposed leaders and business men and women we all had believed them to be. They were super villains. They had mechanical limbs and bleeding facelifts with enough Botox shots to be smiling for days and months and years, they were clothed in the most expensive suits and dresses that their blood money could buy.
As I snaked around one group after another I began to feel thing like bugs were crawling across my skin—either that or the drugs were really notching up their game against my body and mind. There were talks of trapping the hero in their lair, the plans to reveal their secret identity while selling off all kinds of trade secrets to the highest bidder, with nothing left in the way besides their own blinding incompetence to take over the world and get richer quicker and quicker. There was Lex Luthor, The Penguin, Richard Nixon, Professor Moriarty, Judas Iscariot, Steve Bannon, a gaggle of Two-Faces, a caucus of Jokers, Vladimir Putin, and Darth Vader—who later I realized was actually just Dick Cheney. They drank plenty of the finest booze and cheered heartily at each other’s conquests and accolades. They had just started announcing that the speeches were about to begin in five when I realized I needed more drugs. Like a hunchback with a gimp leg I went to the bathroom to powder my nose as the drugs did things to my body you wouldn’t think possible until you tried them. I didn’t see anyone at first shockingly and went over to the sink, pulled out a few pills I garbled up, splashing water on my face. Then I began to pour a bump or two of blow on my wrist so as to snort when the stall behind me opened and what I thought was Loki, the Nordic God of Chaos and part time Marvel Comics villain, came over and grabbed me by the collar.
“You fool, you can’t be doing that right here, there’s a whole room for that,” The God of Mischief snarled. The powder covered my nose rather than getting in it and I shot back looking bug eyed before me not knowing what to say, hoping my sun glasses covered enough of my face to retain some anonymity. “Press, huh?” he said looking at my badge. “Oh, smart move; you must be Paul Ryan’s guy. Here, put that shit away, he’s been waiting for you for some time now. David, is it? Yes, David, now we cannot keep the Speaker waiting.” I did as he said because it must have been better than the alternative. We followed up some of the stairs not far from the main room where I looked back as someone looking like Lex Luthor appeared as though he was about to begin his speech on how to get rid of Superman once and for all. Right before we breezed past I saw a fleeting image of Vivian dressed as a server and providing shrimp and shit to these corporate thugs and professional liars. I tried to yell something but Loki kept pulling me away and besides it looked like she was in a deep conversation with Professor Moriarty as he explained how he had actually faked his death and in fact solved The Final Problem. We passed room after room, hearing the most strange and grotesque sounds emanating from everywhere of booze, sex, and bad music all the way to the Speaker’s current location to which we bolted in like bats out of Hell only to see one antagonist after another as my companion said, “Mr. Speaker, we found him, he was in the bathroom downstairs, the fool…..” A figure turned in his chair and stood up. Several others turned. I was now looking face to face with Hannibal Lecter, Lady Macbeth, Lord Voldemort, The Wicked Witch of the West, and Dracula.
“Wait, you’re not David,” Voldemort declared.
“No, David couldn’t make it, I’m afraid Antifa got him. He sent me instead.” I said as I pulled out every last bit of blow I had to ease their minds.
“Antifa, those bastards,” Hannibal muttered.
“Excellent,” what looked like a vampire said from the corner. So I laid down a few lines with the help of The Witch and Hannibal and we had us a pretty good time. We didn’t talk politics at all, which suited me because the whole mess was getting too much for my poor twisted mind to take in at the moment. It wasn’t until later on that I realized I had totally blown the actual story I was supposed to be covering about Trump’s administration and the charity event, but it didn’t matter. For the first time in a few days my nerves didn’t feel so frayed. I could relax and enjoy some amazing drugs without worry about how and when our national discourse was about to come about at the seams. And I have to admit, for a bunch of psychopaths, super villains, chronic liars, and kleptomaniacs Hell bent on running the world, they knew how to have a good time. It wasn’t until a few hours had passed this way that the notion really began to dawn on me and by then the party was over, the fat lady had sung, and my chances of covering this mess as I intended had gone up like the smoke from Dracula’s pipe burning away the stuff that dreams are made of. Now all that was left was getting to my hotel, meeting up with Vivian, taking enough downers to finally get some rest and first thing in the morning was the last leg, the big sit down with the King of America himself, Donald J. Trump.
The King and I
When I finally got back to the hotel Jane had set us up with Vivian was already there and furious with me for blowing the story. “You missed everything” she told me as she went on to explain all that had happened while I was getting coked out of my mind with some of Washington’s biggest pimps, pushers, and politicians. She explained how the Trump administration was cozying up with all sorts of religious non-profits that fueled all those drug filled orgies in the Vatican. It made sense, but I shrugged it off. “Trump fucked the Pope, no fault of mine,” I said. But she wasn’t having it, so we ordered whiskey for room service, I rolled up a few sticks of tea, set out the assortment of downers and laughers to calm us down and put us out, and that was how we spent our night with a few hits of halcyon to end this whole mess and hit reset on our drug addled brains.
Morning came earlier than I was ready for with almost enough time prior to the scheduled interview for a big breakfast complete with four pots of coffee, three giant bloody Mary’s again with extra everything, one Mexican beer, a dozen lines of coke, three joints, five grapefruits, and a Denver Omlette, eight strips of bacon and six sausages. Vivian had already left before I woke. I assumed perhaps the White House had since realized she was not Camilla Ramirez and had left town before the hammer came down. Besides, as a Hispanic woman that was not a maid or servant I still wasn’t too sure that she was welcomed in the White House with a Commander in Chief whose main concern still seemed to be a two-hundred billion dollar boarder wall between the U.S and Mexico that could only be defeated by boat, airplane, or a ladder and some rope, that damned evil genius, Trump.
The walk over was unusually quiet. I checked in without any problems, made some idle chit chat as I waited with the staff about whether or not the Nationals had it in them next season and whether or not climate change would kill us all—you know; the usual stuff. Then my name was called and solemnly but calmly I walked over to the Oval Office where great men of past and almost present had led this nation of ours, and inspired it at times when we needed it most with quotes like: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country,” and “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and “Grab ‘em by the pussy.”
A Secret Service agent opened the door to the Oval Office and I sauntered in to see the King of America himself sitting at his desk, talking casually to what appeared to be a nurse bending over his desk and delivering a few pills. “You’re late, Mr. Thompson,” a voice bellowed.
“Apologies, Mr. President. Last night really took its toll on me. You sure know how to throw a party, though...” I said as I saw the nurse turn around, her face and mine aligned. It was Vivian.
“Mr. Thompson, I’d like you to meet my favorite nurse. She’s the best nurse. Jimena, meet the Enemy of the People. He’s a journalist. Enemy of the People, meet Jimena,” the president chuckled to himself. She walked over to me and we shook hands, playing our parts. It wouldn’t be until later when I found out she snuck back in to the White House by pretending to be Camilla Ramirez. This woman never ceased to amaze me. Later on she would dismiss my praise, saying if last night hadn’t unfolded that way it would have been next to impossible. “But it helps,” she added, “when the whole administration thinks we all look alike.” Of course at the time this did not occur to me as I nearly blew her cover.
“How the Hell? What did you give him?” I whispered through a fake smile.
“Have a good time, Senor Enemy of the People,” she said withholding a laugh before turning and leaving, giving me a quick wink.
“Jimena and I are real close, good friends. She’s the best,” Trump smiled.
“I bet….so, Mr. President, are you ready for the interview.”
“I was thirty minutes ago. But now it’s lunch time. The food should be here any second. We can start after I get through Sports-Center.”
Before I could respond I heard the doors opening and saw Vice President Mike Pence come in with a tray of sandwiches, chips, and juice boxes.
“Care to join me?” the president asked.
Pence set the tray down before the president and whispered something in his ear. Trump roared with laughter as Pence withdrew with a coy and secretive smile. I could have sworn I saw him wink at Trump as he left. “So you have your VP deliver your lunches to you?”
“Sure. What else is a Vice-President supposed to do?” he shrugged.
“You got me,” I said, sitting down, and grabbing a juice box.
We ate and watched the various highlight reels of the NBA and NFL and talked about who was doing well this year and speculating who might win it all. As lunch went on though the president became more and more elated, laughing loudly, moving about excitedly, and throwing in comments that increasingly made little to no sense. I couldn’t be sure what exactly Vivian drugged the President of the United Stated with, but I could tell it was beginning to take hold. But then it hit me, what if he wasn’t drugged? What if Vivian had a different game-plan altogether? What if this was just the completely normal, regular old delusional Mad Titan as he was in his usual habitat of unearned and accidental power and influence? I had to make sure, I had to make an offer that Trump’s usual brand of insanity would still be able to recognize it for the trap that it so obviously was, so I asked him: “You know there, Mr. President, just for old time’s sake, like you did back with my father in Queens in the eighties, how about you and me snort up a few lines of the good stuff?”
That stopped him dead in his tracks as he looked at me like a deer in headlights.
“Off the record of course…” I smiled.
“You have that?” he asked quietly, child-like. I nodded, looked around, and pulled the bag from my breast pocket, and held it out to see.
“Pence would say…..” he protested.
“Who cares what the guy who delivers you juice-boxes and turkey sandwiches says, Mr. President? Nobody cares about him. People love you because you do and say what you want, when you want, damn the consequences. Besides, who actually believes anything from the liberal media?”
“You’re fake news,” the president said, with greater confidence now.
“Absolutely,” I smiled.
“You practically don’t even exist. You’re not real.” He added.
“Exactly, Mr. President. Exactly.”
“But do we have to do even do the stupid interview then? I mean, if it’s all fake news….” He trailed off, his eyes wandering the Oval Office.
“I suppose not….” I replied, taken a bit surprised.
“Can we just, I don’t know….play Mario Kart or something?” he pleaded, eager and smiling that same shit eating grin I had learned to hate over the years, but in the moment, I must admit I found endearing. I agreed. “Great, I’ll get Baron to set it up.” He texted his youngest son and waited for him in a giddy manner, jumping all about, and rattling on about how he never gets to have fun anymore. “All the people in Washington are jerks,” he went on. “I used to have cool, famous people dying to have dinner and go to parties with. Now I just got Pence.”
“You have your beautiful and lovely wife…” I forced a smile.
He just shot me a look and sighed. “Puh-lease. Oh and put the drugs away for a second, and no talk of Melania around the boy.”
“Any reason?” I tried to subtlety pry.
“What kind of father would I be if I let my son know what kind of president I am?”
He had me there. In a minute his fourteen year old son came in and set up the game system, shook my hand, and left. I broke out the blow and chopped up the lines and we went to town on both Columbian gold and Mario Kart as he started on about all the cool places you get to go when you’re president. “Got any pictures?” I asked.
“Do I?” he laughed, taking his phone off and opening up his camera files as we flipped through shot after shot of gorgeous country-sides and awe inspiring architecture of the greatest cities on earth including a few selfies with Vladimir Putin. It was then the office phone rang and the president went to answer it, clearly unhappy about having to resume any actual responsibilities, but not thinking enough to put the phone away. I kept scrolling and he didn’t seem to care. As he droned on with someone about an upcoming meeting with several congressmen I came across something that would upend everything. I looked around. It was still just me and him in the Oval Office, Mario Kart on pause, and Trump paying me little mind. It all made sense now, I thought. Everything fit: Trump, Kanye, and the fate of the country. It was dated 2018. It had Trump and Kanye, shirtless, kissing, caressing—several of them. And they just kept getting weirder and weirder. As fast I could I texted them to myself. I went far past them so Trump would hopefully not realize anything before I left as I went to one of the selfies he took with Putin outside St. Petersburg.
“One more round, but this time I get to be Princess Peach,” the most powerful man in the Free World said as he set down his landline. “Gotta go meet congress in a half an hour. Ugh, I hate those guys,” he lamented.
So we did just that. One more round. I let him beat me so I could walk out on good terms and wouldn’t arouse any suspicion of foul play by upsetting his mood. We said our goodbyes and parted ways. And I have to be honest, I had fun. I enjoyed my time with Donald Trump. It’s not every day you get to do the world’s finest cocaine in the Oval Office while playing Mario Kart, getting juice-boxes and turkey sandwiches delivered by the Vice President, and looking at photographs taken from all around the world, even if only a few of them featured a shirtless Putin. In fact, I almost felt bad about what I had to do. But I was a journalist. And he was the president. When I had Rolling Stone Magazine publish the erotic photographs between Trump and Kanye it was bittersweet as I knew I would never again get to play video games in the Oval Office, that what I did would be unforgiveable, and that all we would ever have was that one beautiful, drug fueled afternoon, just the two of us, the King and I.
Epilogue: America’s Eulogy
The days that followed were a blur, a hurricane, coupled with forest fires, and topped off with a tsunami of insanity that no one saw coming when the photographs went viral. I started to believe for a moment that the freaks in the major cities going around crying “The end is nigh!” might actually have a point. On live television, in a pathetic attempt to do damage control the president held a press conference to denounce the photographs as fake news, because if the greatest hits still play, then the show must go on. But when a raging Mike Pence sacked the president on air as he declared his love for the man and crying one incoherent confession after another it was over for him. No one would believe Trump in the aftermath after the dust had settled. His base evaporated. Meanwhile it was a boon to Kanye as he hit all the news and late night spots admitting that the two had long felt a tension between each other that was undeniable. It finally culminated when West visited the White House in October of 2018 when he went on a mad rant about Superman and multiple realities and timelines as though we all live in a DC comic book. Afterwards the two bonded over the fact that neither of their wives would sleep with them anymore due to Kanye’s comments on slavery and Donald Trump being Donald Trump. They commiserated over the crushing loneliness that manifested as a result. They then became lost to each other in a wild and unfettered passion for one night and may have continued had Trump not cut it off the next day. It crushed Kanye, he explained. And from there he swore to take Donald’s job the same exact way Trump did to Obama after one too many one liner’s at Trump’s expense from the former president. He switched his allegiance, renounced all his former political lapses, and stayed on the progressive script all the way through, wiping out everyone in his path. It would have been less shocking had basically the same exact thing not happened a mere four years prior. His polls rose exponentially afterwards because in the eyes of the progressives he had become even more intersectional than before. Now to the public he wasn’t just an insane black male in America, but he was a gay, insane, black male. The developing narrative then shifted that it would not only be racist and mentally-ableist to not vote for him, but homophobic as well.
In the final days the poll numbers shifted drastically in favor of Candidate West just about the time I started to seriously tune out and fall into of a sea of drugs and alcohol that was damn steep and indulgent even for the likes of me, of which my conscience was trying to crawl out of to sound whatever alarms were left after the fires of 2020 had burnt down most everything. Going forward I would have to live with the notion that I in no small part helped hand the presidency of the U.S.A. over to, at best, the second worst possible option currently living in the country. We had jumped out of the pot and into the fire and I helped. On Election Day I got stoned and drunk from dawn until dusk, tuning into the news only for brief glimpses of the horror show here and there. It was all I could stomach. It was night-time when I went out with my shotgun to shoot whatever birds I saw passing, or what I felt appropriate in my vast backyard in Woody Creek, Colorado. But I felt obliged to acknowledge and deal with my own part in history in some small capacity, even if not the most direct route. So while I was getting hammered I had my phone play what is still my favorite Kanye album to date, My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy. As the night wore on and the end of the album approached the brilliant Gil Scott Heron again begged a question on the closing track that could not have been more fitting or ironic:
Who will survive in America?
Who will survive in America?
Who will survive in America?