The Desert, guns and lollipops

The Desert, guns and lollipops
Luke Mehall - 05/17/2018

Lately, I’ve been writing a book. It’s about the desert, and I’m going to call it “The Desert.” Really creative, I know.

But people judge a book by its cover, not its title. Or maybe both, but they definitely judge a book by its cover. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my first four books, it is that.

One of the things I love about writing is the ability to look back into time and analyze something. I think the art of reflection gets lost somewhat in these days of hyper connectivity and massive amounts of screen time. The act of reading and writing is as important as ever, if only for the effect on the brain.

Almost all of this new book takes place in what is now (could be) Bears Ears National Monument. While I’ve mostly been writing from the perspective of personal introspection it would be impossible not to write about the politics of Bears Ears. So I am transporting myself back in time to 2016, just before Obama announced the proclamation, and I’ve been contemplating how insane the news cycle has become with Trump, and how quickly we not only learn of news, but how quickly we forget.

I mean just a couple years ago, Trump was a conspiracy theorist presidential candidate, spreading the birther theory that Obama was not born in the United States. Since then, the news has been filled with so much corruption,
hate, scandal and (gasp! almost the worst) incorrect spelling and grammar from the President of the United States. OK, it’s not the worst, but for those of us who find solace in the order of the world through words, the fact that this guy is so egotistical he can’t even consult a copy editor for his tweets is incompressible. But, it does show the true nature of his intelligence and character. To err is human, but to not spell correctly as the POTUS is just f***ing stupid!

Someday, 20 years down the road, when someone asks me just exactly what was so terrible about that internet troll we once called president, the “birther theory” is where I will start. Then I’ll bring up the fact that he once berated the parents of a slain American soldier, and he disrespected John McCain, a U.S. senator and prisoner of war for five years in Vietnam, by saying “I like people who weren’t captured.” And all that was before he was president.

In this Trump era when we fly from one crazy story to the next, from Stormy Daniels to the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in our election to Kayne shout-outs wearing that stupid red hat, I feel like I’m looking for someone who can express what I’m feeling.

Eminem did that with his BET freestyle a while back – apparently the only celebrity who can diss Trump and not get a reply is the almighty Em – and Michelle Wolf did that with her stand up at the White House Correspondents dinner in late April.

I was checked out of service in the desert when Wolf made her controversial performance, and by the time I got back into town it had already blown up the internet. Instead of reading editorials about comedy, I figured I’d watch it for myself.

I thought it was the funniest stand up I’ve seen since Dave Chappelle released his latest Netflix specials. Even Chappelle himself applauded Wolf, and noted, “I respected her gangster.”

For plenty of people, Wolf’s style of comedy simply wasn’t their cup of tea, but it was right up my alley. She spoke truth to power and showed a fearlessness I really admire. If Richard Pryor, who could be considered the grandfather of that style of comedy, was alive today I’m sure he’d have similar praises. Or maybe, like Kanye, he’d be supporting Trump. Crack and fame can really change a person.

But, of course, that was two weeks ago, and what might happen in the news cycle of the next two weeks will obliterate it. Remember covfefe? Neither does Microsoft Word, as it quickly showed me those red squiggly lines under it.

If I can reflect a little more on Wolf’s performance though, I liked how she went after both sides on the political spectrum, pulling no punches for the Democrats, and telling CNN that yes, they broke the news.

I know that’s my place in the current political climate, trying to keep centered and detached from the masses; having my own opinion. I’m scared for the future of the world, and I’m angry. I’m also happier than I’ve ever been. It’s a weird mix.

I’ve also realized that I’ve been more engaged in politics because of Trump. When Obama was president I felt like he had my back, and the ship of fools that is our country at least had a captain who could steer. That was a mistake, not to engage simply because the president was a man whom I (mostly) agreed with and respected. That’s a mistake a lot of us feel like we made, I think.

They say you have to pick your battles. The fight for Bears Ears National Monument seems to be the one I have latched on to. Ultimately that is one that seems like it’s going to be decided by the Supreme Court, and I’m grateful for the tribes, environmental groups and corporations that have sued the federal government on our behalf. The whole Bears Ears issue will likely outlast Trump.

Before Trump was elected, I was dreaming up my fifth book. (It was a personal goal to write five books before I turned 40 next December.) Little did I know how my personal writing would intertwine with national politics. Since I’ve felt this outrage at Trump and what he represents, I’ve also realized my smallness, that I am only one person, and in reality my own personal opinion does not mean much.

When I write, though, I feel like I’m plugged into something bigger; that hopefully my words will inspire others. So, I’m going to keep doing that, Trump the wannabe dictator has really made me appreciate our First Amendment. And, in closing, with some words from another gangster by the name of 2 Pac, “I’m not going to change the world, but I will inspire the person who does.”

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