you can't always get what you want? the inmates ARE running the asylum...

Beyond the obvious megalomania, despite the calculated demagoguery, last night's coronation
of Donald J. Trump at the RNC 2016 convention exposed America to the authentic, cruel and manipulative vision of how the Donald understands the working of the world. We already knew that he - and his family - were playing parts in his ultimate reality show : the rock star, backlit entrance on Monday night's introduction of Mrs. Trump, as well as Thursday's brooding portraiture during his acceptance speech, should have erased any ambiguity on this count. Even the audacious claim that he was the only one capable of solving our problems, while messianic, was not unexpected nor particularly insightful. We may have forgotten that this was a kabuki dance being played out in the public square, full of sound and thunder, and signifying almost nothing - but not so Mr. Trump. Most of the time, he knows what he is doing.

This was not the case, however, as closing convention music swelled up in the Quicken Loan Coliseum in Cleveland and the red, white and blue balloons tumbled gently down upon the delegates. This was Mr. Trump's closing tableau, outwardly a self-conscious paean to his power, but inwardly an unintentional projection of his ugly, crude and vicious worldview:

+ His team took the stage - all beautifully poised, professionally coiffured with NYC model-perfect designer clothes  - while the 70s rock band Free pumped out "All Right Now." This is a favorite tune for classic rockers - and strippers - with its insistent backbeat, power chords and ingratiating chorus:  "All right now, baby, it's all right now." I have no beef with classic rockers - or strippers - and on the surface, this song's chorus works. But the verses suggest a tactical Freudian slip of Trumpian magnitude because this song is about a man trying to hustle a babe into bed only to be shot down when she calls out his aggression. "I took her home to my place, watching every move on her face... but she said, 'Love?' Lord above - now you're trying to trick me with love!?!" 
I wondered, "Is this another example of Team Trump not doing due diligence on vetting and follow through? Is this another case of sloppy preparation like Mrs. Trump's plagiarism?" Could be, as much of the convention smacked of too little planning rolled out too late. I thought the Pence family looked oddly uncomfortable with this music, too. It could be, of course that their solidly Mid-Western frumpiness stood out against the Trump family's posh presentation and they felt like the out of step country cousins they so obviously were. But it could also be that the old culture warrior instincts that Mr. Pence has honed well were telling him that he was in hot water over his head with no place to duck and hide.  All right now, indeed.
+ My nature - even with Mr. Trump - is to give the benefit of the doubt. When the second closing song of the evening, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" started to blast the arena, however, I was certain that someone - the Donald? his staff? Beuller? Anyone? - was secretly shouting: watch out for this guy - he is dangerous.  Two things to know about the song. It was released in July 1969 as the B side to "Honky Tonk Women." with the ironic message that no matter how much life gives you, most of us want more. Some say it is about Maryanne Faithful's drug addiction (Mick Jagger's main squeeze at the time.) The closing verse, in my opinion, brings it all together in a bleak manner:

I saw her today at the reception, in her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception, I could tell by her blood-stained hands

Grim, yes? A trapped, bleeding man in a deceptive woman's cocktail glass - with her hands stained by blood? This is NOT Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow!" This is not let's move towards the future with a sense of shared purpose and hope. This is something from the apocalypse. Remember: this Stone's album opens with their darkest and most challenging song ever recorded. "Gimme Shelter!" So what in God's name was Mr. Trump or his handlers trying to communicate to us? That the Donald is not what we want but what we need for this moment in time? Only 38% of Americans believe that. Could they be telling us - beyond their unvetted mistake - that this guy is a deceptive and dangerous hustler? Stranger things have been found to be true, yes? 

Further, the Stones (as well as Queen, Neil Young and others) have asked the campaign NOT to use their music. These artists have explicitly requested that their songs NOT be used in relationship to Mr. Trump's campaign. But that apparently doesn't matter: for Mr. Trump everything seems to be a commodity to be bought and sold before being discarded. Earlier this year, when Neil Young insisted that "Rockin' in the Free World" be taken out of the Trump playlist, the Donald did so but first made sure to publicly insult the artist even while stealing the artist's intellectual property for cheap political gain. Trump's relationship to music - like almost everything else including people - is that things are to be used as a resource,  exploited after it serves his purposes, and then thrown away like used tissue.

I went to bed last night bewildered by both musical presentations. Obviously, social media was equally a-buzz with questions, too. This is one dangerous dude, all glowing reports from his charming daughters notwithstanding. The way he treats music is tells us something we can deny at our own peril  be afraid - be very afraid. 
And then remember, the antidote to fear is knowledge AND organizing for justice.


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