RIP to RBG

In a year full of loss, this one hits the hardest. 

I went to the Supreme Court on Friday night. Two things stuck out as we walked among the people assembled on the steps. 

The first is Ginsburg’s incredible legacy. Long before she was a Supreme Court justice, she (seemingly single-handedly) led the charge in the 1970s for sex equality. Nearly every landmark Supreme Court case about sex and the Equal Protection Clause was tied to Ginsburg. Then she went and authored her own crucial opinion once she was on the Court. 

You don’t need me to tell you that RBG was a trailblazer. But seeing the assembled mourners on Friday night was a powerful reminder of all the people whose lives she helped change for the better. The women who were able to have fulfilling professional careers that weren’t conceivable in the years before Ginsburg forged her own path. The lives that are richer in a society that has benefited because of the work RBG did to push us toward a more equal nation on the basis of the sex. She helped challenge and loosen the ingrained, constricting, and unfair gender roles and legal rules that confined men and women. Our lives at home and at work are unimaginably better for it. 

The second thing that hit me though was how losing RBG makes the law in general, and the Supreme Court in particular, feel ever more like a tenuous and arbitrary edifice. We have put so much pressure on nine old people in the Supreme Court to uphold and enforce our rights, and we feel crushed every time they fail to do so. We have let a Court of almost uniformly white men cloak itself in a veneer of objectivity only to get kicked in the stomach every time the Court helps the conservative movement swipe away another hard-fought right. Ginsburg’s passing sheds even more light on the artifice of an institution that stakes claims to neutral principles of law while allowing states and the federal government to concoct preposterous abortion restrictions or establish crosses on public land or kill Mexican teenagers playing on the wrong side of an invisible line

These feelings are mixed up with some frustrations about RBG. She was celebrated as a liberal icon—even when other justices outflanked her on the left. Her hiring practices weren’t as progressive as her legal opinions. And her meme-ification as the Notorious RBG had overtones of minstrelsy and appropriation

Perhaps most frustratingly, she could have retired earlier and let an Obama appointee continue down her path for a more liberal expansion of rights. Instead, we’re staring down the barrel of 30+ years of Amy Coney Barrett using RBG’s seat to build a “kingdom of God.” 

Ginsburg became known for her impassioned dissent on an increasingly conservative Court. We were already in for a lot more dissents like hers given Trump’s two nominations to the bench so far (one stolen, the other simply despicable). But now things could get very bad for a very long time. What lies ahead might force us to rethink our view of the Supreme Court as a fair institution that will protect our rights and values. In that case, we may need to shift our focus away from the federal courts and toward matching the conservative movement’s strides at the state level. 

RBG crafted a brilliant litigation strategy that operated within an overwhelmingly white and male power structure to make a push toward sex equality. But her legal victories—as crucial as they were—only took us so far toward concrete and lasting change. The real change comes from the sweat and blood of shifting hearts and minds as we fight for a more just society. Ginsburg could see the whole board when it came to social change, and she knew when and how the law fit into the bigger picture. 

It’s a shame that Ginsburg’s death immediately became a political battlefront rather than a testimony to her incredible achievements and lasting influence. But it’s heartening that we can celebrate her achievements and continue her legacy by fighting to protect the rights she fought for and to expand the vision of equality she articulated. So let’s do that. May her memory be a revolution.  

Jesse Plemons Is a Bully Who We Have Allowed to Fail Upward

How have we let this happen? How have we, as a nation, allowed Jesse Plemons, a.k.a. Meth Damon, to fail upward like this?

There were warning signs. All it took was his second film appearance, as Tommy Harbor (younger brother of star QB Lance Harbor) in Varsity Blues

What do we call this? Bullying. Pure and simple. And the only thing bullying produces is more interpersonal violence: 

Fool me once, shame on you. But fool me twice? 

The red flags were all around us. This bullying behavior by Plemons’ character Ox in Like Mike is textbook. The aggression. The lack of empathy toward a height-challenged Lil’ Bow Wow. Look at how he thrives on the insecurities of others (to hide his own insecurity at being an orphan, perhaps?) while misusing his power over other foster children. 

America appeared to be on to this shitbird after Like Mike. Plemons spent the remainder of the early 2000s schlepping it from CSI to Grey’s to NCIS. But somewhere along the way we lost our focus, and we allowed this bully to continue to fail upward. Worse, we let him continue to think that his antisocial behavior was okay. 

Like most bullies, Landry Clarke’s pals on Friday Night Lights might not have thought there was anything wrong with him. But just tell that to the man he MURDERED. How does a kid go from a stable, football-loving home in Texas (Varsity Blues), to an orphanage in Los Angeles (Like Mike), to committing involuntary manslaughter back in Texas (FNL)? BECAUSE WE ALLOWED HIS WORST CHARACTERISTICS TO DEVELOP WITHOUT CHECKING HIS UNWANTED, AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR, THAT’S WHY.

And don’t for a minute think that Landry’s killing (not the last murder Plemons would commit on screen, either) was a once-off, spur-of-the-moment type of thing. No, Plemons would continue to commit ever-more heinous acts of violence against those less powerful than he:

Like most bullies, Plemons’ Todd in Breaking Bad flirts with white supremacy. Based on his meth-slave relationship with Jesse Pinkman, it’s clear that he also struggles with letting his friends be independent from himself. 

The bullying would continue. Take Plemons’ appearance in Black Mirror, in the episode “USS Callister,” for example. Plemons’ intimidation and coercion has progressed into middle age, where he takes out his frustrations and resentments on sentient digital clones of his coworkers. Unsatisfied with bullying on a terrestrial stage, Plemons now appears to have taken his abuse to galaxies unknown. 

And the behavior persists to this day. It was only last year, in fact, that Plemons portrayed Chuckie O’Brien—the man who may have been responsible for Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance—in Martin Scorsese’s lauded TV mini-series The Irishman.

What can possibly be next for this heinous bully? What new heights will we allow him to climb? Will Jesse Plemons next portray Regina George in a gender-reversed recasting of Mean Girls? Will he transport back in time to join Cobra Kai? 

Whatever he attempts next, it’s time for the American moviegoing public to just say no. Plemons’ bullying has to end. It must end.

The Monday Night Football Double-Header is Decadent and Depraved

To try and establish even a loose hierarchy of the NFL’s idiotic, inexcusable policies is a fool’s errand. But for all the talk about concussion protocol, the catch rule, COVID-19 policies, and some half-baked platitudes about racial justice while using a very powerful platform to do precisely nothing, there is one outrageously stupid NFL policy that doesn’t get nearly enough flak: the second Monday Night game on Week 1 of each season.

The NFL’s gradual encroachment of the American weekend has, generally, been both understandable and fairly successful. There was once a time when football was for Sundays, and Sundays only. Now the football weekend starts on Thursday night, ends on Monday night, takes over Saturdays after the college season ends, and sometimes begins at 9:30am Eastern on Sundays so that, from the moment we wake up to the moment we lay our head to rest, we do not have to spend a second not staring at Roger Goodell’s bare ass.

That’s all well and good. Most sports fans would probably agree that only having to suffer two days a week without any football, college or professional, is a good thing. But who—I mean, seriously, name one goddamn person—really wants to watch seven hours of football on a Monday night?

Most of us have jobs. They know that, right? I—nor my compatriots of the coastal elite—cannot afford to stay up until two o’clock in the morning watching a limp-dicked interdivision butt show. We are perfectly content to watch the first game and go to bed. 

And for those of who are fans of a team in the second slot? The NFL is forcing us to stay up three hours past bedtime to watch a game we’re going to hate anyway. 

The worst part is that the NFL clearly knows this. There’s a reason why the MNF doubleheader hasn’t been extended past week one. If there were a market for it, there’s no doubt they would have already expanded it to the whole season. So it’s really just an exertion of power and control. It is a yearly reminder, to set the tone for the next five months, that we are completely beholden to every sadistic whim and fancy of the world’s worst-run non-profit organization.

Anyway, you bet your ass I stayed up until 2am last night watching the Trevor Siemian Revenge Match between Denver and Tennessee. But man, I really wish I didn’t have to. 

Joe Biden’s Most Likely October Surprises, Ranked

5. “And it’s about the, we’ve all got to be — you know, there’s nothing that can’t — and if we are!”

4. “Folks, it’s like when I was the Obama, there was a woman — I mean, when the vice president was president, it was nowhere near as much as now.”

3. “You can’t — today, it’s about today — and so it’s about a reckoning but that’s the possibility and we’re finally, but it’s about so much more.”

2. He learns the dang WAP dance 😦

1. “Corn Pop!”

A LinkedIn Post Announcing That I Shit My Pants

I shit my pants today.

Violently.

Like many of you, I haven’t shit my pants in years. Decades, even. So, I have to admit, it made me really nervous at first.

Am I—a 34-year-old account executive—really the sort of person who accidentally releases large dumps into his Fruit of the Loom boxer briefs?

As the excrement slowly slid down the back of my thighs, my instincts told me to panic. But then I remembered the invaluable lesson I learned from career guru Mark Edelson at last year’s Presbyterians in Advertising convention: 

Breathe.

Evaluate.

Operationalize.

The thing about unleashing a surprisingly wet deuce into your pants is that it’s really not as bad as they say it is. Did you ruin a pair of underwear and a pair of Chinos? Yes. Will you have a pretty irritating rash tomorrow? Most likely.

But no amount of torrential soiling can change a simple, essential fact: you are the only you. 

We need to remember to be confident in ourselves, even if we are sitting in a squishy puddle of our own refuse.

We need to remember that every moment counts, even the ones in which our sphincter unexpectedly looses a biblical, corn-flecked fury on not just our ass and thighs, but even parts of our lower back.

We need to remember that we can achieve anything to which we set our minds. If you had told me twenty minutes ago that I was about to inundate my buttcheeks with my own feces and get the whole affair cleaned up before my wife, Francine (who is the Director of Human Resources in Chicago’s GrubHub office), returned home from the gym? I would have laughed in your face.

Most importantly, we need to remember that it’s important to read the label on our muscle relaxers.

The whole label.

It’s so important.

This Kitten Is So Cute That You Might Forget that Democracy Is Literally at Stake

OMG. Look at this tiny wittle kitty cat. Just one look at those sweet, caring eyes is almost enough to distract you from the fact that our sitting president is literally using a deadly pandemic to keep people from voting. Almost. But those pawsies! Oh the biscuits they will knead. That biscuit making is so much more fun to watch than watching the Senate’s majority party literally do nothing as millions are disenfranchised by systematic destruction of voting rights. Do you think this kitty witty would tear-y wear-y the Voting Rights Act apart like Mitch McConnell? I sure don’t think so. This little fluffer surely wouldn’t stick its tiny nose up when told that silence is compliance when it comes to the slaughter of black people. Even it knows better than that, because it’s a lovely little sweety and not a careless piece of human shit. Good job, kitty. At least you can do the bare minimum. 

More Cities Should Have Color Schemes

I was in Pittsburgh recently, and more than the prevalence of Italian Americans, the palpable racial tension via gentrification, and the fact that their baseball team recently got no hit by Lucas Giolito, the most striking thing about the city was its commitment to its color scheme. Pittsburgh is all about the black and yellow, and I think that’s an admirable thing that more cities should strive for. 

All of Pittsburgh’s major sports teams’ color palettes prominently feature black and yellow: the Steelers, the Penguins, and the city’s AAA team, the Pirates. The city’s bridges (of which there are several!) are painted yellow. Even the college team (Pitt, not Carnegie Mellon, presumably because nobody from Pittsburgh made it through high school trig so they could get into Carnegie Mellon) has yellow golden hues, or straight-up yellow at its most glorious. And let’s not forget the national anthem of partying in early-Obama-era frat basements, which beats Coldplay by a yinzer mile for the title of the greatest ode to yellow.

What’s shocking to me is that there aren’t more cities who have committed to a color scheme. They’re great! They give a city a better sense of unity. They forge an aesthetic and cultural connection between the city, its residents, and its sports teams. And they help define the vibe of a city—Pittsburgh’s black and yellow is brawny and industrial, while Seattle’s wild collection of blue and neon green is pacific and alt. 

But besides Pittsburgh and Seattle, I can’t think of a team with anywhere close to a cohesive color scheme. D.C. comes the closest—it has a strong affinity for red and blue, but the Washington Professional Football Team’s burgundy and gold is nowhere close to the color schemes of the Nats, Capitals, Washington Professional Men’s Basketball Team, or Mystics. And, honestly, red and blue for the nation’s capital? A little uninspired if you ask me. 

L.A. has too diverse a sports scene to be anywhere close to unified, but I do appreciate the hues of gold, blue, and purple among teams like the Lakers, Rams, Chargers, Galaxy, Sparks, and UCLA Once-Relevants. Atlanta also does a good job with its red and black vibes (Braves, Falcons, Atlanta United, and the Hawks whenever their jerseys aren’t create-a-jerseys designed by a 4th grader). 

But come on. How have more cities not committed to this? How have Chicago’s sports teams not done more to incorporate the Chicago flag that half the city has tattooed on its calves? How come only the Coyotes and sometimes the Diamondbacks commit to Arizona’s desert hues? And why can’t Denver get its shit together and organize a cohesive take on its truly spectacular flag and/or Nuggets throwbacks

If a city like Pittsburgh is able to figure this out, then surely Houston can hire somebody to get the Rockets and Texans on the same page as the Astros and Dash (or just return the Rockets to either of these throwbacks, please). Or, for a very reasonable fee, I’m willing to consult with Las Vegas and encourage them to change their colors to “all reds.” 

Thank you for your time. 

How Long Ago Was That Month?

January: did not happen, largely agreed to be a myth

February: 18.75 years ago

March: 356 million years ago, was part of the Paleozoic era

April: 26 years ago, so according to our data most of our readers are still in diapers, just shitting themselves at will

May: May was actually in the year 2003, we are invading Iraq sorry

June: 3 weeks ago

July: it is currently July

August: not expected to occur this year

September: September hasn’t happened since 2015, at the latest

October: it is also currently October

November: 9 years from now, in postal service delivery times

December: again, there is no evidence that December will occur this year

Trump’s Most Likely October Surprises, Ranked

8. Replacing Mike Pence. If this was going to happen, by the rules it would have to be done at the convention. But the rules* also say you can’t have your attorney facilitate hush money payments to your porn star mistress during a campaign, so I feel like we can’t rule this out. It’s definitely the least likely item on the list, mainly because Trump values loyalty above all else and Pence has been a sycophant’s sycophant for his entire term.
*laws

7. Mass tribunals for BLM protesters. We’ve seen Tennessee announce that engaging in protests would result in a forfeiture of voting rights, and Trump already sent the secret police to create violence in Portland. So they’re not being terribly creative here, just kind of running down a totalitarian checklist for engaging with the opposition. Feels like show trials should come up fairly soon.

6. Banning mail or something. It almost feels inevitable at this point that we’re gonna reach a stage where sending mail items through the USPS is going to be a fierce act of #resistance.

5. War :). Remember how much he loved the fawning media coverage of his Syria strike? Now imagine that, but with a country no one’s ever heard of. 

4. Finding a doctor to claim Biden’s senile. This would probably need to be ginned up in the last few days before the election, so the news media doesn’t have time to dig up “facts” that “show this doctor has never had Joe Biden as a patient” or whatever. But still, it wouldn’t be too hard to find someone to make the claim. Is the devil jizz lady still available?

3. Killing his niece on Fifth Avenue. Experts agree, murdering a woman with a firearm could bring Trump’s GOP approval rating up an extra 3-6 percentage points.

2. Announcing charges/investigation into Biden, Hillary, Obama or, idk, someone like that. Again, this is an authoritarian classic, and Bill Barr has shown a somewhat sexual excitement at the opportunity to serve as Trump’s attack dog. It’s hard to imagine exactly what the charges would be (Did Hillary ever send an email about Benghazi? Could be something there), but that would largely be beside the point. Like Comey’s letter in 2016, the aim would just be to get the name of a Democrat in the news alongside words like “corruption” and “federal charges.”

1. Approving a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s hard to call this one a surprise, really. He’s been telegraphing it for months, and the administration is reportedly targeting the (fairly promising!) Oxford University vaccine. Whether he succeeds in making the FDA actually grant vaccine approval before the election, or just unilaterally announces that we have a vaccine now, I have absolutely 0% doubt that Trump is going to claim there’s a COVID vaccine by election day. And honestly I just hope there’s even a crumb of truth to it.