JFK was in the Navy, and so was Nixon. LBJ, Ford, Carter, and George H.W. Bush, too. (Carter was even a Midshipman, just like the basketball player David Robinson and the football player Roger Staubach.) Cesar Chavez and Harvey Milk. Armistead Maupin and Thomas Pynchon and Robert Heinlein and L. Ron Hubbard. Neil Armstrong was in the Navy–a lot of astronauts were–and Don Rickles and Charlie Murphy, too. Lenny Bruce and Larry Flynt.
What I’m saying is: don’t judge the Navy for Steve Bannon.
Steve’s smart–he’s been successful in several fields spanning multiple decades–but somewhere along the way a bad command got in the system and now he’s King of the Racists. (I know we’re supposed to use the term “nationalist” or “Alt-Right” or “whatnot” but never tell a lie when you aren’t forced to.)
I think I know what happened.
You see what happened?
Hey, jackass. Are you chewing gum? Did you bring enough for everyone?
Oh, you did? Well, pass it out and let’s have a chewing party.
What is this?
I am asking an imaginary classroom questions, and also redistributing wealth.
Okay. On September 11th, 2001, I lived in Los Angeles: Orange Street in Hollywood, which is right in between Mann’s Chinese Theater and the Magic Castle in the Hollywood Hills. I had a studio on the seventh floor with a view of the Hollywood Sign and a pill habit. Two parts vicodin to one part valium, and then xanax so I could sleep. I had a routine in those days as far as music: Elvis Presley’s Sun Sessions in the morning and Panthalassa to go to sleep.
The phone did not generally ring at six a.m. It was my mother, and she told me to turn on the teevee, which I did and promised her I’d stay safe–as if that were my promise to make–and hung up and shut the teevee off and rolled back over to sleep. The phone rang again, my buddy Richie. I left the teevee on this time and watched for several minutes. People forget the chaos. There was supposed to have been a plane headed towards Los Angeles. There were supposed to be planes headed everywhere. Pants. If there was an emergency situation hurtling towards me, I thought, then I needed to be wearing pants.
I called my friends Chris and Tess, who lived six or seven blocks west of me. This was a long time ago, and they were very young and poor like I was, so the phone by their bed was a Wolverine phone, bright yellow with a foot-tall posable Canadian mutant atop it, and when someone called you it went SNIKT SNIKT. So that’s how Chris and Tess found out about 9/11.
Sitting on the edge of my bed watching teevee just like the rest of the country. Phone rings again. My friend Brian manages a bar; I’m a regular there. He lives with five guys he knows from Boston College in a Brady Bunch house in the suburbs of North Hollywood. There is a swimming pool in the back, and the kitchen has faded linoleum floors and pressboard cabinets stained to look like oak. The lawn is beyond salvation, but lemons grow on the trees unbidden. Come over, he said.
I had a sky-blue 1992 Chevy Corsica that had started smoking the second I entered Los Angeles County and not stopped breaking since; I would eventually take the plates off, pop the hood, and let the city claim it for scrap. It drove that morning, though, and so I motored through the Cahuenga Pass. You can take the 101, but Highland is faster even with the lights. I had my windows down and everyone else on the road was listening to the news, too. Right on Barham, park in the long driveway.
There is no one home but a very small dog who I will later learn is named Alabama. (True Romance was a very big movie at the time.) At the time, I took the puppy for a sign. Innocence, love, forgiveness. One of those, whichever. Now I know it was a dog on a Tuesday morning.
My friends were at a diner around the corner; I joined them and ate eggs and bacon while we watched the teevee with the rest of the room. When we went back to the house, I felt very guilty about getting high but I still did.
The next day was a Wednesday, and Wednesday is the day that the new comic books come in. I would meet my friend Gary at the Starbucks on Melrose, and we would walk two blocks west to the Golden Apple. There are always jet contrails over LA. Something about the weather. None today, though, and no helicopters. When we walked into the store, I looked at the wall bearing all the new issues and asked, “Where the fuck were you?”
No one thought that was funny.
The next day, the bar that Brian managed reopened and I was sitting at the bar drinking red wine and saying stupid shit.
“I’d join up right now,” I said.
There was a man who drank at that bar named John. I liked him very much. He had served in Vietnam, and he was kind enough not to laugh at me when I said that. The feeling faded quickly.
But for some, it didn’t. 9/11 turned a certain subsection of Americans raving mad, into crusaders for Western Civilization against the fierce Mohammedan hordes,this galvanizing call to arms that–for lack of a better word–radicalized them into action. (And, ironically, adopting the precise, but mirror-image, worldview of their supposed enemy.) It happened to Dennis Miller. Remember Dennis?
And it happened to Steve, I say with no basis to back up that statement. Just seems right.
Anyway: Stevie’s getting canned.
We know this because this is what The Foul One said before he fired Flynn and Manafort, and the man’s not clever; he only one or two tricks, but unlike those other two traitors, Bannon has backing. He is owned by the Mercers, who helped put Trump in office with their money and marketing. The Mercers also own Breitbart, which Bannon used to run but also still secretly runs.
This is going to be fun.
This has been the 83rd day of our national nightmare; may we wake soon.