What's Tony Thinking

August 4, Another Week Ends


Wrinkles are cool. Here’s a good line for people my age — and all human beings — from the film critic Helen Andrews in her review on the essence of the movie Barbie: “All the meaning in life comes from the things that give you wrinkles.”

Three Strikes and You’re Out? Indictment number 3 for Donald Trump this week. Andrew Sullivan says liberal democracy is in the ICU. I don’t agree. This indictment shows that the American justice system is working.

It also shows, contrary to Hannah Arendt’s famous remark about a lie which is repeated often enough becomes the truth, that we know — even if Trump doesn’t — that his lie about the election being stolen has not become the truth. No, it became the basis for indictable felonies. Calling it what it is. Where this all goes from here I certainly don’t know, but truth and accountability matter and do exist. These indictment demonstrates that.

And, yes, many stand by Trump for reasons that aren’t completely insane. Or at least that’s the case that David Brooks makes in a stunning “J’accuse!” aimed at his own crowd, America’s elites. “What If We’re the Bad Guys Here?” is, for my money, an insightful turning of the tables on the privileged, educated, monied, liberal and all too often arrogant elites.

Trump, says Brooks, “is a monster who deserves prison,” but goes on: “There’s a larger context here. As the sociologist E. Digby Baltzell wrote decades ago, ‘History is a graveyard of classes which have preferred caste privileges to leadership.’ That is the destiny our [American elite] class is now flirting with. We can condemn the Trumpian populists until the cows come home, but the real question is: When will we stop behaving in ways that make Trumpism inevitable?”

A report from the front-lines of the loneliness epidemic. This Free Press piece “Confessions of a Phone Sex Operator,” says that men call services such as her’s not for the sex, such as it is, but because of loneliness.

Jenny Powers relates this story from one of her callers: “Alec had a Southern accent and his speech was hurried, betraying his anxiety. To put him at ease, I suggested we play a game. ‘Tell me something no one knows about you,’ I said. I offered to go first. It was easy. I told the truth. ‘No one knows I’m a phone sex operator. Now it’s your turn.’ The silence on the other end made me think we’d been disconnected. ‘I’m afraid I’ll be eating my breakfast one morning and choke and I don’t want to die alone,’ he answered. The tiny hairs on my arm stood at attention. I had no naughty reply.” It’s a sad but true account.

Science Washing. The journalist. Rina Raphael, who tracks the Wellness Industrial Complex writes about “science washing,” the marketing of “wellness” and diet/ nutritional products to imply that “science” certifies and confirms their value. It’s largely B.S. Here’s Raphael,

“Grocery stores, pharmacies, and even Sephoras are bursting with flashy labels boasting alleged health benefits: Supports immunity! Hormone balancing! Cell rejuvenating! Nowhere is this more apparent than in the ever-expanding beverage aisle: Prebiotic soda brand Poppi bills itself as an ‘immunity sidekick.’ ‘Functional’ beverage line Kin Euphorics is infused with adaptogens to ‘strengthen’ your adrenal system and ‘balance’ your body’s reaction to stress. Even water got a makeover: Evian’s new seltzer is ‘enhanced’ with ingredients that ‘contribute to cognitive function.'”

Remember the “Snake Oil Salesman” of frontier lore? They’re back, with much better marketing.


My painting, “Rounding the Grand Ronde,” is included in a new exhibit at the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture that opens tomorrow, August 5. There’s an opening reception that evening. Here’s a photo of the painting. Alas the top and bottom are cut off, but you can get the idea. Framed price is $200.


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