Friday, September 30, 2022


Lou Rawls got into some heavy shit during his Axelrod years.

•  So much going on these days -- Vlad P’s little “I now declare these territories conquered” ceremony, Clarence Thomas’ crackpot wife just straight-up telling the House committee Biden stole the election, and Trump’s bought judge further demonstrating her indebtedness, etc. – so the whole rightwing pants-shitting spectacle over Lizzo playing Jemmy Madison’s flute comes as an amusing diversion and a suitable subject for a free issue of Roy Edroso Breaks It Down (Subscribe! Cheap!).

Watching dullards like Matt Walsh and Ben Shapiro dig with their sputter-spoons an ever-deeper hole is fun, but it also reminded me of the old days when I used to pay closer attention to the Konservetkult and Sons of Zhdanov, and what has changed since. Back then the ridiculous fist-shaking communiques conservatives regularly issued about how corrupt our “culture” was and how, once the lumpen were suitably indoctrinated with rightwing wisdom, it would become again fresh and pure were just funny – an endless series of reminders that these clowns were as morons before the Muses, that they had no idea what works of art were for and thought they could hector people into accepting their shabby substitutes. As I’ve said more than once, when they say “culture war” they always mean a war on culture. 

That’s still mostly true and the cream of my jest. But in the Trump age there’s been a slight and disturbing change. First, as has happened generally since I began on this beat, the one-time rightblogger small fry have advanced within the conservative movement, so their ravings receive greater attention from the High Command. Once, George H.W. Bush would just make a dumb crack about how Americans needed to be “a lot more like The Waltons and a lot less like The Simpsons” and let it go at that. But in the Reign of Tubby, their fantasies were promoted at the highest levels; for example, they started to push through a Garden of American Heroes --  a sort of anti-woke Disneyland where tourists could stare at heroic statues and get Cultivated. Albert Speer might have blushed.

And Trump’s arts-beat acolytes got more belligerent. When a Public Theatre Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar imagined, reasonably enough, Caesar as Trump, the wingnuts went wild because in the play Caesar gets assassinated – and they thought (or pretended to think) this meant liberals (because artists are all liberals) were calling for the assassination of Trump. In one of the creepier Trump-era writings, National Review Zhdanovite Kyle Smith cheered when sponsors began withdrawing funding from the Public and crackpots like Laura Loomer began interrupting performances because it meant that “Lefty Actors Are Beginning to Fear Donald Trump” – that is, the Trumpkins were terrorizing the Entarte Kunstlers, the logical endgame of culture war when you can't produce any real culture yourself.   

So yeah, it’s still funny that Lizzo and the Founding Flute can set off these clowns (and don’t let me spoil your enjoyment of the story!), but it’s also a reminder of how far they’ll go if they get any power. 

•  Speaking of culture war, one other thing I wanted to mention was the latest entry in the conservative hate-on-for-cities sector: An essay promoted by the hapless Steve Inskeep and written by Hillsdale legacy pledge Carmel Richardson about how all you stupid liberals complaining about housing prices should move to a big house in redstate Bumfuck like she did. Like all her kind, she describes cities as hellholes (“There’s a reason literature’s greatest protagonists [Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov, for one] go off the rails while living in seedy rented rooms”); Richardson’s innovation is to attribute the continued – indeed, timeless – appeal of cities to fads spurred by social media:

With the rise of social media and online journalism, key housing markets have become trendy in a way they never could have before. A classified ad now has a national audience, and bougie neighborhoods a ream of TikTok viewers. People are moving to areas they have no connection to and no relatives near because they saw it online and thought it looked cool. I know a few. This has the effect of driving up prices in areas that otherwise would never have known such demand.

Actually, the top end of this price-gouging is driven not by Tik-Tok but by realtor greed, absentee tenantssub-tenancy gone wild, and other late-capitalism pathologies. But, perhaps owing to her youth (ha, I’m kidding, she’s an apparatchik and must know better), Richardson misses that the big cities she excoriates are always more expensive than cowtowns for a simple reason that people prefer the cities to the cowtowns and people pay more for what they prefer. In fact, she offers as evidence of the attractiveness of Oklahoma and West Virginia that those states are offering cash bonuses to people who come and settle there – as if she’d never heard the old saying “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me.” 

Her closing is a marvel:

It is true that builders cannot keep up with the demand in places like Colorado, Florida, Tennessee, and Northern Virginia, but in the Midwest and other rural regions across the country, in towns no one ever visits on vacation, countless homes stand for sale and empty -- old, beautiful, and undesired by most.

You don’t say. Why “undesired”?

The towns they fill are thinly populated, and the old storefronts are mostly dark. What would happen if we started buying and living in these towns, dusting out the cobwebs and bringing in new life? One has to wonder what kind of people we would have to become to choose a quiet life over nightlife, and a county fair over a $75 brunch.

You stupid libtards with your brunch and nightlife, why won’t you move to a big house out in the middle of nowhere HURRY PLEASE COME KEEP US COMPANY I’M GOING MAD. Maybe the journalism thing is just a front and Richardson is actually working for brokers. 

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