and now for something truly sick

Bernie, Wisconsin elections, Fountains of Wayne + more

On Tuesday, the nation caught a glimpse of the grinning skull beneath Republicanism, as the Wisconsin GOP forced people to the polls during a pandemic.

A quick recap: Speaker Robin Vos and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who owe their majorities to gerrymandering, sued to block Governor Evers’ executive order delaying the election. The Wisconsin Supreme Court, with Koch-sponsored Justice Dan Kelly, sided with Vos and Fitzgerald. And finally, the Supreme Court, with the Federalist Society’s Kavanaugh and Gorsuch appointed by a president who won on an Electoral College technicality, signed off. It’s something of a marvel, amidst the chaos and confusion of our health care systems and our grocery stores, to watch Republicans seamlessly hand off a stolen election through all the seats they’ve bought or already stolen.

You’ve seen the pictures of the people in their makeshift masks, lining up for hours outside the five polling centers in Milwaukee. The poll workers in their flimsy protective gear. The old in wheelchairs, pushed by their grandkids. The election was not valid before the pandemic, and it’s not valid now.

Here’s some great reporting:

And now Bernie Sanders, the only real antidote to nearly two decades of simpering Paul Ryans and their enablers, has dropped out of the race. It’s a shame to see an honest man lose again, and it’s even harder right now, when the need for universal health care and a living wage are so clear. But this is a beginning, not an end, for the movement. The work continues.

welcome interstate managers

Adam Schlesinger, the frontman for Fountains of Wayne, died of COVID-19 last Wednesday. He was young, just 52. 

Yes, Fountains of Wayne, the “Stacy’s Mom” one-hit wonder. And yes, they were inescapably pop, with all those rhymes. But FoW wrote about the absurdity and sweet melancholy of modern life better than more supposedly sophisticated bands.

Their subjects weren’t their love interests and fellow hipsters. They wrote about “Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim” and the miserable white-collar worker in “Hey Julie.” “Hackensack” is a wistful song about a downwardly mobile man singing to his high school crush. Fountains of Wayne took tacky, overlooked things — suburbia, highway stops, the state of New Jersey — and found something human there. Their songs have the punch of a good short story; they’re often funny at their characters’ expense, but never cruel. Fountains of Wayne learned to love the place they’re from, and listening to them can teach you to love it, too.

P.S.: Speaking of making peace with your hometown, the new Waxahatchee is amazing.

Escapism, Inc.: Four Movies for the Quar

  1. The Last Days of Disco: If I was a character in a Whit Stillman movie (“the Woody Allen of WASPs”) who admitted that I loved Whit Stillman movies, someone would drily crack about how that was very haute borgeoise of me. I don’t care! I love this frothy little film about being young and dumb and lost in 80s New York City.

  1. Girl Walks Home Alone at Night: It’s a black-and-white, subtitled Iranian noir about vampires. Have I lost you yet? It’s really good, I promise. (And if you’re also a tool like me and love some gorgeous black-and-white film, you also probably love Joy Division, so check out Control, the Ian Curtis biopic).

  1. Hale County This Morning, This Evening: A beautiful paen to place. This is required watching.

  1. Me and You and Everyone We Know: Maybe the whole twee mumblecore thing of the aughts can be redeemed by the strange, moving ending of this odd little movie, directed by and starring Miranda July.

Bonus: If you want something that’s just pure, stupid fun, make a pitcher of white wine spritzers and watch Desperately Seeking Susan.