Friday, January 29, 2021

Shorting Schadenfreude

GameStop at Bentley Mall in Fairbanks, Alaska

What is the ethics of shorting, or betting on the misfortunes of a company? And what are the ethics of countermanding a short and preying on the misfortunes of the shorter? The issue came into the news the other day when a populist movement rose up against the short position taken by Citron and Melvin Capital against GameStop. The movement which started on Reddit caused a stock which sold at l9, early in the month, to go up to 330. Except with the question of the divesture of companies whose products threaten the environment, the stock market is usually looked at as value-free arena. Schadenfreude is the psychoanalytic term for the enjoyment of other people's suffering. It’s an emotion you’re undoubtedly familiar with. You won the lottery of life. Your neighbor didn’t. You feign concern, but secretly you smugly enjoy your feelings of superiority and his or her pain. So, let’s invent a company called Schadenfreude which traffics in a derivative which itself plays off misfortune, pithily called "the Schadenfreude." It’s run by a savvy crew of Harvard MBAs who may have spent a year studying at the London School of Economics. What if your short of this new derivative is met with a popular uprising by those who may not like the crew at Schadenfreude, but like you even less? What are you going to do with your Schadenfreude short when you run up against a group out to give you the finger for being precisely who you are, a wily investor who makes a lot of money while they barely can pay off the mortgage? Now you’re sitting in the dog house due to the machinations of a bunch of market savvy sans-culottes.  

Read "MAGA and Coronavirus" by Francis LevyThe East Hampton Star

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Birth of a Nation

Most people have a narrative. When you go into therapy you tell your story. When you terminate, you might have revised it—or not. History obviously is narrative, but The Birth of the Nation might be told by D.W. Griffith, whose classic of silent film history from l915  is also blatantly racist (it was originally titled The Clansman) or by Nate Parker’s 2016 The Birth of a Nation which tells the story of Nat Turner. Many Trump supporters will not be shaken in their belief that the election was rigged and stolen. The current drama in which a huge segment of the American population has essentially been brainwashed by their former president and his stalwarts could very well end up being the third Birth of a Nation (2020-?). Memory is labile. There's a fine line between repression and suggestion as was demonstrated in the McMartin Preschool trial (l987-90) in which dubious allegations of Satanic ritual abuse were brought against staff members of a childcare center. Almost 40 years later you have Pizzagate, another allegation of child molestation, where QAnon earned its wings. Pizzagate would evolve into the the Coronovirus conspiracy where millions of Americans were convinced, in the face literally of death, that the pandemic was a lie propagated by the opponents of President Trump. When you go to see a shrink, it’s usual to reconsider your views because you’re suffering from the debilitating or maladaptive results of your behavior. However, what’s going to be the motivator that brings followers of the Retrumplican Cult into historical therapy?

Read "MAGA and Coronavirus" by Francis LevyThe East Hampton Star

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Chariots of Fire

Do you miss Trump executive orders that provided the equivalent of ECT? Mafia dons ran their empires from prison. Who knows what "base" ideas he’s conjuring in his gilded Mar-a-Lago prison. But then there’s the legal suits that will be coming from New York State, Fulton County and from New York City where he will have to defend himself from the defamation charge in the E. Jean Carroll case. In addition, the hotel business has been hit hard and the Trump brand name is not only no longer a big draw but anathema to the rich—who definitely don’t describe the demographic of Trump's following. However the former president has a restless and indefatigable spirit. You never know where his signature golf cart will take him. Which is precisely the point. With his blow-dried hair, Trump always had the look of used car salesman. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t end up acquiring a golf cart dealership—or two. Trump is basically a sleazy salesman at heart, one of a breed that has made the worst of the New York skyline what it is. There's really no art to his deals other than the fact that he'll say anything to make them happen.

Read MAGA and Coronavirus by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Crowd

Potemkin Stairs from Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin

Any crowd, even those with the most high-minded of sentiments, runs the risk of being a lynch mob.The crowd mentality is not  constitutionalist. Self-congratulatory anger can easily make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Humans may easily partake of the phenomenon of hive mind. In an article entitled "Making Sense of the Mob Mentality" (NYT, 6/11/22), Benedict Carey cites Gustave Le Bon’s l9th Century work, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind to bear on the insurrection at the capitol. Carey quotes Le Bon thusly, “An agglomeration of men presents new characteristics very different from those composing it. The sentiments and ideas of all the persons in the gathering take one and the same direction, and their  conscious personality vanishes. A collective mind is formed.” This is not to discountenance or excuse what happens, but it gives an idea of some of the alarm signals that liberal thinkers might look out for even in themselves. Canetti famously wrote Crowds and Power and you've only to recall the Cossack attack in the Odessa Steps Sequence of Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925), one of the greatest visual embodiments of a stampede that's motivated both by anger and fear. The crowd that tried to interrupt the confirmation of a new president on January 6 was egged on by the President in the self-same way that a lesser nuclear device activates the power of the fusion reaction that sets off a hydrogen bomb.

Read "MAGA and the Coronavirus" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Thank You, Mr. Trump!

Now that Trump has been dropped off in Florida, you may find yourself feeling wistful and even thankful to him. For instance, many combative couples found a brief respite in which Trump rather than their partners became the butt of their anger. Now that Trump is out of the picture, they will start fighting again. Without Trump you might not have learned so much about politics, in particular how the electoral college works—and impeachment. It may be a horrible thing to say, but if Trump hadn’t facilitated the spread of Coronavirus by insisting that it was a conspiracy invented by the Democrats, you wouldn’t have learned all your new ways of coping. Because you haven’t wanted to go to the post office, you’ve learned to pay all your bills on line—which turns out to be ten times easier than writing and mailing a check. By making it impossible to go anywhere, Trump has taught you that you can do without those get togethers. When push comes to shove, you’re fine seeing people on Zoom. It’s cheaper and less time consuming than going out for dinner. Ditto therapy. If you were on the East Side and had to get to your therapist’s office on Central Park West, it was taking you a good three hours, when all was said and done. Maybe someday a method of teleportation will be created that allows dentists to fill cavities and even do root canals online. Without a raging pandemic, for which Mr. Trump is again to be thanked, telemedicine wouldn’t have made gynecological and proctological exams possible through teleconferencing media.  

Read "Maga and Coronavirus" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Mind and the Matter

Vaughn Meader

In an episode of The Twilight Zone, “The Mind and the Matter,” (5/12/61) Archibald Beechcroft, a back office worker (Shelley Berman), can’t stand people. He learns from a paranormal text, The Mind and the Matter that he only has to think things to make them happen. First he wishes that everyone would disappear. Next he wishes that everyone would be just like him. Because the result produces replicas of Beechcroft, these creatures are just like him and thus perpetually annoyed with each other. But taking this idea to its logical conclusion, what if some right wing QAnon person got the idea he could make clones of people? Let’s say instead of one Biden, you had 20 or 30 on Inauguration Day with each claiming to be the real McCoy. What a security nightmare! How are you going to check photo IDs, when they’re all the same?  Remember Vaughn Meader the famed  Kennedy Impersonator? The minute the QAnon clone is sworn in as President, he will order the real Biden to be arrested as an imposter, that is, if he can somehow identify him. How's that for a conspiracy theory? Hopefully right wing agitators like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys will stick to flagpoles that can easily be disarmed by the National Guard. Hopefully they haven't mastered CRISPR.

Read "MAGA and the Coronavirus" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Worst and the Dumbest

The Best and the Brightest
, the title of David Halberstam’s famous account was an exercise in irony. The fact was that it was the great minds of the Kennedy era that got America into the Vietnam War. However, the epitaph for the Trump years might well be The Worst and the Dumbest—no irony intended. The administration was loaded with Kellyannes and Kayleighs whose last names should all have been Make-a-Ninny. Actually it was Kellyanne Conway whose signature rapid fire speech constantly interrupting but brooking no interruption that characterized almost all spokesman for the Trump administration. If Trump was an advocate for second amendment rights, then machine gun bursts would characterize the response of  his spokespeople. The only good thing about Kellyanne was her husband George, a staunch conservative, who was an outspoken critic of the administration. The question is, does Kellyanne run her sentences together at home when she is trying to win an argument? Bulldozing was another trait. Kayleigh McEnany once refused to recognize CNN’s Caitlin Collins saying she didn’t take questions from activists. But the Kellyanne Conway style was contagious. It became the lingua franca of anyone trying to burn bridges both on the domestic and internationl fronts. Eric Trump’s wife, Lara, was a perfect clone of the Kellyanne Conway style. Called from the bench to pinch hit on one CNN interview, she simply talk, talk talked as fast as she could. Kellyanne and Kayleigh were undoubtedly conducting speed talking rather than reading classes--to make sure there was no von Choltitz to prevent Paris from burning. Even though Trump has finally left The White House, one can’t help thinking his crew of chatterboxes are still enjoying hearing themselves talk.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Bankruptcy for Idiots

If Trump holdings were a public company, you might want to short the stock. The hotel and resort business is already suffering due to the pandemic. In addition, with major corporations all pulling out of dealings with Trump, it’s unlikely that the Trump name will be a big draw to the few wealthy individuals who are still traveling. The kind of Republicans who have enough money to stay at the Trump International are not the base you see screaming at MAGA rallies. In fact Trump hotels and other properties are more likely to be in the pocket books of the kind of old style conservatives, who will have no need for a Trump hotel when they can easily afford the Four Seasons or the Mandarin Oriental. Come 2023 Deutsche Bank will be knocking on Trump’s door for a $330 million dollar loan. “Away go troubles down the drain,” go the lyrics of the Roto Rooter commercial and the same can be said for Mr. Trump’s empire. Imagine the foreclosed Mar-a-Lago being taken over by some Russian or better yet Ukrainian oligarch. But what will the Trumps do? No one who has any financial sense will want to do business with a shyster who doesn’t even pay the legal bills of devoted servants like Rudy Giuliani. What will be the fate of Ivanka and Jared, of Eric and Donald Jr. Will they have to join the workforce? Will Melania model while Donald hits the road in his trusty golf cart? The Trumps may have always been morally bankrupt, but soon they'll likely be chasing their own tails--facing financial bankruptcy as well.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021


There will be a lot of dust to settle. Then there's the danger a stiff cold wind is going to turn it into a stand storm. Americans, for that matter, people everywhere are waiting for vaccines which will ostensibly put an end to the pandemic, provided the more virulent English and South African strains don’t turn out to be resistant to it. In that unhappy event, mankind is likely to face the equivalent of a new Ice Age. At the very least everything will be on hold. Remember how the venal sinners in the 9th circle of Dante’s Inferno end up being encased in ice? Perhaps like these unfortunate creatures, mankind will end up being buried alive. Americans, on the other hand, have been faced with the co-morbidities of MAGA and Coronavirus. So the best outcome of the so-called return to normalcy will be a nation of shell-shocked zombies, suffering from chronic cases of PTSD. In order to survive both the rising rates of infection and lies about a rigged election, many people have had to go on autopilot, if only for the sake of their friends, children and loved ones. Americans are like hostages. When the siege is ongoing, you survive because of your responsibility to others. Finally, when your captor (in this case the disease) lets you go, you’re forlorn, filled with all the emotions that were repressed during the shutdown or takeover which now have no outlet. No one wants the cycles of continuing death and social disruption, yet the aftermath is likely to be when the shit actually hits the fan. When the zombies arise from the dead, suicide rates may, unfortunately, begin to rise.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Bidding No Trump

Caligula (photo: Louis Le Grand)

If you believe in Hegel’s world-historical individuals, otherwise known as the great man theory of history, you might cotton to the idea that Donald Trump literally changed the world, in this case for the worse. Countervailingly FDR could be said to have changed the world for the better, giving us the New Deal and the blueprint for all the entitlements that gunslingers like Trump want to do away with. Now Trump is plainly a product as well as a shaper of history. You couldn’t have a Trump, if you didn’t have a base. You couldn’t have had Hitler unless you had the conditions of Weimar Germany following the Versailles Treaty that left a large class of unemployed workers and army veterans, the lumpenproletariat (like some of the ones arrested for the attack on the capitol) who demonstrated an almost avian ability to tweet Sieg Heil in chorus. But let’s put the onus on Trump particularly around the subject of coronavirus since despite all the death, it’s the first disease in history that's been regarded as a political conspiracy.Trump’s mantra was “Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid.” After the election, Covid would disappear. But that’s not what happened. In fact Covid spiked. In the course of serving up the idea that Covid was created solely to foil his attempts at reelection, Trump was responsible for a campaign that did to the human race what the Ice Age did to dinosaurs—well almost. At least life has been forever changed. Once Americans are vaccinated life will not return to normal. “We are giving our children a different world,” one parent commented. Trump may not have been able to move mountains, but he will have moved cities, if boarded up storefronts and vacated skyscrapers (some with the Trump imprimatur) are the result.  "No Trump" is a bid in bridge, but it's also what a cry of protest. A destructive historical force is like a vector powered by inertial force. Then you have someone like Donald Trump. “The rest,” as Hamlet says, “is silence.”

Friday, January 15, 2021

Ford to City

The frontpage headline of the of the print edition of the January 9th Times was “HOUSE PREPARES ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT.” “IMPEACHED” in double-sized characters was the headline on the morning of January 14th and below it, “TRUMP, AFTER INCITING RAMPAGE IN CAPITOL, IS FIRST PRESIDENT TO FACE 2ND SENATE TRIAL. In between on January 8th the headline in the print edition was CALLS GROW TO REMOVE TRUMP AS U.S. OFFICIALS HEAD FOR EXIT.” In the old days before 24-hour cable news, headlines carried the freight. On December 7, l941, The Times headline was “JAPAN ATTACKS PEARL HARBOR.” “THE WAR IN EUROPE IS ENDED! SURRENDER IS UNCONDITIONAL; V-E WILL BE PROCLAIMED TODAY; OUR TROOPS ON OKINAWA GAIN” was the headline of May 6, 1945. “MEN WALK ON MOON” was the headline July 21, 1969. Remember the newsreels in movie theaters, the newsboys on the streets with the iconic “Extra, Extra?” Now it’s "Breaking News." “CNN projects that Joe Biden has won the 2020 presidential election and will become the 46th president of the United States,” Wolf Blitzer announced on November 6, 2020. If you get your Times delivered, you intake these stories when you open the front door and look down at your doormat. That's the old-fashioned way of watching the world turn. Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message,” If you got The Daily News on October 29, l975, you read “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.”


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Donald Trump in Nighttown

Zero Mostel in Ulysses in Nighttown (photo: Carl Van Vechten)

Do you set tyrants out to pasture like you do an aging cow or horse, who has outlived its usefulness? Imagine Trump, Bolsonaro, Orban and Putin all chewing their cud. It’s reminiscent of the old joke about reincarnation where the guy who reports that in his new life, composed solely of fucking and eating, he’s a bull in Minnesota. When you read theological tracts about the next life, it’s never clear what the relationship is between a person’s past life and what he becomes when he’s reborn. For instance, what would a born again Christian be reborn as? It’s easy to say that Mitch McConnell or Lindsay Graham would be snakes or that Donald Trump's rage would be frozen in the ninth circle of Dante’s Inferno, but perhaps Trump’s fate is destined to be more prosaic. When the Mossad finally caught up with Eichmann, he was living in the San Fernando section of Buenos Aires under the alias Ricardo Klement. Whatever changes he did or didn’t evince, he certainly was no longer the commandant of a concentration camp. In the afterlife Trump and Putin will both be relieved of their status and power. Imagine the famous rower Charon, pulling up to the funeral procession of Donald Trump and ushering the once outspoken political figure onto his boat. True to form, Trump would undoubtedly utter, “this is the Styx” as he boarded.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


postcard with Pied Piper (1902)

Trump is neither a Republican nor a conservative. He's what Chris Cuomo has termed a "Retrumplican." In fact, he’s a revolutionary who’s out to destroy the established order. Remember that both Mussolini and Hitler were scarcely different than Stalin. Fascism and Leninism were tantamount in their dismissing of the due process and constitutionalism associated with democratic institutions. The price paid for the dictatorship of the proletariat turned out to be individual liberty. Hitler, Mussolini Stalin (and now Trump) were all interested in the ends. At a certain point what these ends are became murky in all their cases. So what civilization was left with was a despot's millenarian ideology. In the case of Trump, this amounts to little more than a cult of personality.The famous Santayana quote need not be repeated but the question it poses is still confounding. What kind of psychic trauma makes different generations of people continue to follow the latest Pied Piper leading them to imbibe the  delusional hallucinogen of undefined hope? It's ironical because Trump has done nothing and offered nothing for a so-called base that's apparently still willing to die and in some cases kill for him.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Trumpty Dance

Is there anything to be learned from catastrophic events? What would the world be like without Antietam, Pearl Harbor, the siege of Leningrad or most recently 9/11? Let’s say that the sound was turned down just enough for Hitler, Stalin and Osama bin Laden to have stayed in business. You can institutionalize repression and even murder, if there are trade-offs and a certain tampering down of the initial insults to humanity. That’s precisely what Trump did in his equivocal response towards the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by MBS. Luckily most tyrants have a built-in self-destruct mechanism. Just the other day Trump evidenced such behavior by taking his campaign one step too far and inciting a riot in congress. Joseph McCarthy met his match when he challenged the army, Hitler when he neglected the lesson of Napoleon’s defeat described in War and Peace by attacking Russia in the middle of winter. A violent attack on Congress is an unthinkable nightmare, but let’s imagine what would happen if Trump and his allies were a bit smarter. In
 Man in the High Castle and The Plot Against America both Philip K. Dick and Philip Roth imagine alternate universes where the allies weren’t successful in rising up against the axis powers. Let’s say you had a Republican controlled House of Representatives along with the present Republican controlled senate. Let’s say there was no attack on congress. The unimaginable might very well have occurred. The majority of Americans could have voted for Biden. The electors could have presented their ballots and Congress could have failed to confirm the election of a new president. No one wants apocalypse, but it’s like green gases. You can keep letting them build up, but one day they’re going to take their revenge. Would you rather be poisoned to death slowly or get really sick and have the chance to nip the infection in the bud?

Monday, January 11, 2021

DJT or How I Learned to Love the Bomb

Now that Trump’s Twitter account has been closed down, will he drop the bomb? Trump is unstable and dangerous. There's been a good deal of concern about his possessing the code necessary to ignite a nuclear holocaust. In all probability there would be mutiny on the part of the Joint Chiefs if Trump were ever unhinged enough to invite Armageddon. And BTW who would he unleash it upon? The Russians who were the enemy way back in Dr. Strangelove days are his allies. It’s unlikely NATO, or in particular Paris, where the Climate Accord was signed, would finally be his targets. Where would Melania get her outfits? Maybe it would be New York whose Attorney General Letitia James is lying in wait (along with DA Cyrus Vance) for his departure from office. Or perhaps Scotland, where he owns a golf club, Turnberry, from which he was recently banned--ostensibly due to Coronavirus restrictions (there had been rumors Trump might be planning a golf outing there at the time of the inauguration). But forgetting a literal bomb, he's going to need an outlet.That's where the problem lies. Eventually he may unite his base, cause the secession of Palm Beach from the United States and rename it Trumptymania. Or he'll simply team up with right wing media outlets like Newsmax and Parler to create TBC, Trump Broadcasting Network which would be notable for its reruns. However until he has a plan, he'll be like a teapot that's whistling loudly, ready to boil over at any moment. CNN reported he was upset about the renovations of his private compound at Mar-a-Lago which were coordinated by Melania. Don’t be surprised if you hear reports about domestic abuse once the Trumps vacate The White House.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Corona and MAGA Virus Sweep the Country

There are two diseases affecting America today Coronvirus and MAGA. You have read about the contagious forms of Coronavirus which originated in England and South Africa and are now beginning to show up on these shores. On January 6
th Americans were horrified to see the new strain of MAGA which finally unleashed itself with full force on the capitol. MAGA rallies presided over by Trump were always derisive affairs in which the president created racist and sexist soubriquets to fit all his perceived enemies.There were, in addition, numerous incidents where MAGA inspired cavalcades of cars terrorized highways and in one occasion even a Biden campaign bus. But the newest strain of MAGA, the one that was evidenced at the capitol (were windows were broken, with members of congress fleeing for their lives), seems not only more contagious, but also  immune to the vaccine of coalition which President Elect Biden is attempting to inject into the body politic. If you watched the events as they unfolded on TV, you may find yourself beginning to suffer a kind of PTSD as the reality of what transpired really begins to become clear. At first television's six degrees of separation offered the viewing audience a new sport. MAGA protestors v. Capitol Police. It was the first real competition to Netflix series like The Queen’s Gambit, The Crown and Babylon, Berlin which have also become a kind of contagion. It was almost entertaining to see thugs out of Clockwork Orange sitting behind Nancy Pelosi’s desk or presiding over the senate in the very chair Mike Pence had occupied minutes before. Then as the reality set in along with images which included a protestor wearing a Camp Auschwitz hoody and another sporting a Confederate flag, the realization that if congress wasn’t safe from state sponsored hooligans like the Proud Boys and The Oath Keepers, you could hardly feel safe on the roads where traveling Trump roadshows are a constant threat or even in your home. Both Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi’s residences have been vandalized. The new MAGA virus is particularly deadly to minorities. The images of crowds of looters breaking down what is perhaps the most sacred American landmark was horrifyingly reminiscent of both the Reichstag fire (February 27, 1933) and Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938).

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Trumpocracy: The Viper That Unleashed a Hornet's Nest

Trump is the viper that unleashed a nest of hornets, and angry ones--as was evident in yesterday attack on the capitol building. Trump had a choice. He'd either go the domestic or international route (say like precipitating a showdown with Iran which he still could do right before Inauguration Day, btw) to upset the confirmation proceedings. Choosing the former, he correctly decided would create a more reliably incendiary situation. Try disturbing a nest of hornets or killer bees. The incendiary Trump speeches before crowds of cheering and jeering followers in the hinterlands was an awakening to the fact that racism was alive and kicking. If there's a silver lining to the horror of what's occurred, it's the revelation of the extent of the venom within the hornet's nest, in particular the reality of systemic racism. Had you thought American society evolved from the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Acts of the Johnson era, you turned out to be sorely mistaken. In fact racial and economic inequity have both gotten demonstrably worse due to the suffering and disenfranchisement of a whole generation of white working class males. Atul Gawande’s New Yorker essay/review "Why Americans Are Dying From Despair"(3/16/20) based on Angus Deaton and Anne Case’s Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism locates the source of the enormous misery that fuels the roaring crowds. It’s no coincidence that these are the demographics which describe Trump’s base. It’s the same kind of mass outcry against the essence of Western humanism that motivated the roars of Seig Heil in another era. The despot represents in both these cases a kind of Second Coming. the anti-Christ of Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor who ends up putting Christ himself on trial. In fact, the current unwavering and value-free devotion to the cult of Trump does smack of the Inquisition itself only here instead of people, it’s democracy that’s burning at the stake. You can understand why a hornet whose nest has been destroyed becomes an angry and sociopathic pest. You may even empathize with its suffering, but that doesn't lessen the fact that it's a hornet with a dangerous sting.

Read "Trumpty Dumpty's Great Fall" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

Wednesday, January 6, 2021


Undoubtedly Trump will establish his own news network after he leaves office. He doesn't seem to like the responsibities that go along with the presidency. One can only think how much happier he must have been on The Apprentice. He’s a media hound. With his own outlet, he can  personally combat all the fake news. He's similar to some of the dictators Rod Serling portrayed on The Twilight Zone; he inhabits a similarly delusional world. Anything Trump has to do with always bears his brand. You have Trump Tower, The Trump International in Washington (which apparently occupies an emoluments free zone) the Trump Shuttle and Trump University. So the name of the network will undoubtedly be the Trump Broadcasting System, but since that spells out as TBS, of Ted Turner fame, he’ll probably call it The Trump Broadcasting Company or TBC. And what will this innovative new mode of broadcasting be called? You guessed it, Trump-O-Vison. Trump-O-Vision will make sure television viewers  share Trump's view of the world. There will even be Trump jokes which  will be as politically incorrect as the old Polish jokes, but it’s all for the sake of fun, just like Access Hollywood and the famous Trump remark about walking down Fifth, shooting people and not losing votes. What’s the difference between Trump and a pig? Answer: a pig is smarter (though that’s the kind of insult to pigs that’s likely to offend animal rights activists).Trump will undoubtedly also establish his own series of comics one of which will be MAGA Monster. It will feature a cartoon of Trump on every cover in his signature red cap, promising non-existent programs to roaring crowds—all within the next two weeks.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

A Crowning Achievement

Generally, the assault on individuality derives with either a totalitarian mentality that asks citizens to march in lock step or with a so-called bourgeois middle brow sensibility which praises conformity to norms, whatever they are, for its own sake. The current pandemic and political unrest have thus created a singularity. For the first time since perhaps the last great pandemic of l918, Americans  are faced with a leveling condition. It used to be that like Holden Caufield you could blame everything on your “lousy childhood," with the idea that you had suffered indignities and insults that separated you from more complacent individuals who lived self-satisfied lives. Generally, the unhappy childhood led to a kind of hyper-awareness that in turn led to the genesis of an artistic personality. Thomas Mann’s “Tonio Kroger” was the prototype for this type of romantic exalted separateness. Now, however, one is hard put to hold one’s puny problems up to the magnifying glass. Even those who have actually been afflicted by COVID are challenged to complain when there are so many others who have been struck with even worse cases. In additon social distancing has resulted in the homogenization of culture. Watching  Netflix is tantamount to Ancient Greek theater where the world was mirrored by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. You cannot differentiate yourself by going to the local art house and seeing the equivalent of Bergman or Antonioni any more than you can afford to differentiate from the run of the mill wishy-washy liberal by becoming an individualistic provocateur who say supports Trump. The stakes are too high. The result has been an unexpected satori for once rabid oppositionists who have been forced to enjoy the pleasures of community. Is there a pleasure in being a Trump hater and watching The Crown like everyone else? The answer turns out to be yes.

Read "Trumpty Dumpty's Great Fall" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

Monday, January 4, 2021

Pornosophy: The Politics of Hermaphroditism

A chimera is a kind of compound creature. Therianthropy is the ability of the human to transform to animal. Zooanthropy is another word for this trait. Lycanthropy refers to the transformation from human to wolf or werewolf. The wolf-in-sheep’s clothing is actually a metaphoric chimera. "Rat Man: A Case of 'Obsessional Neurosis'" was one of Freud's most famous studies. The word chimera literally means something wished for or imagined that occupies a realm of fantasy bordering on delusion. Chimeras might occur in surrealist artworks which are based on dreams. Back before SRS was prevalent, you had a form of chimera that was a mixture of male and female, otherwise known on the street as “chicks with dicks.” These pre-op transexuals had both penises and breasts (that were produced through hormone therapy).  In Japan the combining of secondary sex characteristics is known as “futanari” whose embodiments appear in some anime and manga. You had lions with goat’s bodies in Greek mythology, but it's unclear to what extent hermaphroditism permeated Mount Olympus . Advances in medical science have made sex change operations far less forbidding than they once were. Now those who feel trapped in the bodies of their births can escape. Bradley Manning the US army officer accused of espionage famously became Chelsea Manning at the government's expense. Counterespionage is a form of political hermaphroditism, a double agent being someone who has switched the political identification or affiliation into which they were born. “Quisling,” which is the word for a kind of turncoat or defector within a government, derives from the name of a Norwegian army officer who collaborated with the Nazis. Quentin Crisp who wrote The Naked Civil Servant, was an English writer who wore makeup, painted his nails and regaled the world as a human Pegasus, with a female head (and painted nails) attached to a male body.

Read "Trumpty Dumpty's Great Fall" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

Friday, January 1, 2021

Trumpty Dumpty's Overheard Immunity

Brand: Funny Susperspreader gifts

Many people hate Trump since he encourages sociopathy. He’s notoriously held big MAGA rallies where the commander-in-chief, who's supposed to be a power of example, refuses to wear a mask. As of yet, he's shown no desire to take the vaccine, something which would have a big effect particularly among the anti vaxxers among his following. Further, he’s hosted one of the biggest super spreader events of the season at The White House. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett's appointment was notoriously celebrated with a number of infections including that of Chris Christie who spent over a week in the hospital. Thus, it’s hard to fathom why many democrats, who don’t buy the notion that Coronavirus is a conspiracy to cheat Trump out of the election, still refuse to follow the basic CDC guidelines. You may have friends who blatantly show off their insouciance, attending indoor gatherings and in general walking around as if life had magically returned to normal, just because that's what they want. Hello, wake up! You don’t have to be a follower of the president to partake in the kind of denial which is predicated on the notion that thinking and wishing alone produce what might be called "heard immunity."

Read "Trumpty Dumpty's Great Fall" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star