Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Covfefe, or Not Covfefe

I trust, if you’ve been on the local Internets at all today, that you’re up to date on the latest Twitter-generated current event … trending topic … meme …

Covfefe.

The tweet read:

Despite the constant negative press covfefe”

And I have to give the Internets credit: by the time the morning commute was over, the responses were just about as creative and snarky and pointed and marvelous as we’ve come to expect from the Internets.

Here’s the thing that we should really be focused on, though:

12:05 in the freakin’ morning, the Toddler-in-Chief is tweeting.

The subject, predictably, starts out as what we might call media criticism if we believed that the thought process were laced with more thoughtfulness than a lot of us suspect it is.

He’s aiming to type “negative press coverage” on his little phone keyboard. At least, I really believe this.

What he actually achieves is “negative press covfefe”.

Granted, the letters “fefe” are, on a keyboard, fairly close to “erage”. You must admit this.

At this point, I’m not sure what exactly went on.

It’s possible that the Toddler’s phone’s autocorrect didn’t kick in. (There are days when I would kill for this outcome.)

Or maybe Autocorrect didn’t have any more idea than we do, as to what “covfefe” was really supposed to be. Which makes me a little better at English, but this is actually to be hoped. Anyway …

Or maybe Autocorrect took something far more bizarre and non-English-based … and its only guess was “covfefe”.

In the normal, “matter” universe, that might be the scariest thing: not that technology with borderline artificial intelligence is coming to take over the world … but that it can be confounded by a toddler’s tweet-spelling.

In the abnormal, “antimatter” universe in which we live, though, here’s what I think is the scariest thing:

The Toddler-in-Chief hit send anyway.

(It’s possible that he looked at the burgeoning Tweet and thought, “yeah, okay; whatever.” I’m not sure what frame of mind one would have to be in, in order to look at “Despite the constant negative press covfefe” and think … “yeah. Greenlight that project.” There’s not a verb or a predicate in it. Come to think of it, that otherworldly non-word is the only thing that really comes close to a genuine, pure noun.)

Sorry. I misled you. That’s not the scariest thing.

This is:

It’s entirely possible that he couldn’t figure out how not to “covfefe”, and panicked. And hit send.

Consider:

At some point in one’s presidency, no matter who one is … as long as one is remotely human, one will encounter situations in which a remotely average human’s immediate gut reaction would be to panic.

What the hell else is this guy likely to hit, the next time he panics?

May 31, 2017 Posted by | current events, Famous Persons, humor, Internet, social media, technology, Twitter | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Say No To This

The headline: “President-elect Trump Demands Apology from HAMILTON Cast”

That breathless news story of today, the timing of which has caused many people to note that it owes its existence to the need to bury a different breathless news story (namely a $25 million settlement of a civil case involving a certain real-estate “university”), is nonetheless what I’m going to focus on today, here, since … well, there are a couple of tiny things to note about it. And those things are anything but tiny.

Especially to someone (me) who has spent the bulk of his life pretty tight with the arts, and artists, and free creative expression.

Quickly now, the back story:

Current Vice President-elect, Michael Pence, paid a visit to Broadway’s revolutionary mega-hit, ‘Hamilton’ last night and reports from inside the theater confirmed a less than enthusiastic reception. The forthcoming Vice President got a mixed reception from the packed as he was both cheered and booed upon arrival.

So the current President-elect did the Presidential thing, which of course was to immediately climb onto the Twitter machine without adult supervision:

Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!”

Further back story:

Following the show (as reported by the Washington Post in the quote below), Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor currently portraying Aaron Burr, read a brief statement to the Vice President-elect on behalf of the company:

‘You know, we have a guest in the audience this evening,’ he said to audience laughter. ‘And Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out, but I hope you will hear us just a few more moments. There’s nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen. There’s nothing to boo here. We’re all here sharing a story of love. We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out.’

As he pulled a small piece of paper from his pocket, Dixon encouraged people to record and share what he was about to say ‘because this message needs to be spread far and wide.’

‘Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at “Hamilton: An American Musical.” We really do,’ Dixon said to further applause. ‘We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you truly for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.’”

The current President-elect tweeted, by way of response:

“The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!

Great art doesn’t always feel safe. Great art doesn’t always spare your feelings. Great art doesn’t always confirm your beliefs. Great art doesn’t always stay polite. Great art doesn’t always conform to its audience’s idea of propriety.

Great art takes risks and dares you to experience them too. Great art challenges your feelings and your beliefs. Great art is a bumpy ride. And great art wouldn’t be great art if it did exactly what you wanted, all the time – that being the case, it would be pablum.

So the President-elect’s tweets make sense. Because all his life he’s reacted badly to having his feelings and beliefs challenged, to having people do something other than exactly what he’s wanted, all the time.

Not long after the President-elect expressed all that dismay, and demanded apologies, one supporter of his on Twitter (whose Twitter handle I won’t include here, because I’m uninterested in giving that supporter any more exposure) tweeted this:

An artist’s job is to make people smile, not to make political statements. Apologize to Mike Pence, or stop calling yourselves artists!

The President-elect seems so concerned about the artistic environment being a safe and special place – when his political friend’s feelings may be endangered. He wants an apology from the “Hamilton” cast – for expressing those subversive thoughts about the effect they hope their show has.

He’s not likely to get it.

Fair is fair: I’m pretty damned concerned about the coming Administration’s policies making the American environment into a not-very-safe or special place for many groups of people – when their rights and freedoms, livelihoods and very lives may be endangered. And I want an apology from the President-elect – for the past seventeen months of expressing truly subversive thoughts in the past seventeen months about the effect he hopes his “show” has.

I have a feeling I’m not likely to get that, either.

But what’s obvious is the President-elect’s (and his groupies’) fundamentally stunted understanding of free, creative, artistic expression.

Happily for him – and for us – I have the sense that he’s going to experience a lot more of it in the next few years.

He’s going to get an education, all right.

Apologize, … or stop calling yourselves artists”?

Say no to this.

RESIST.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | arts, current events, music, news, politics, theatre, Twitter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Waiting Period

[Ed. Note: this is not political.

It has everything to do with a topic or two which is intensely political, but this piece itself and the thoughts expressed therein are not political at all.]

 

In many locations in these United States, although not all, and to varying degrees of strictness, there are laws on the books that govern how long someone should need to wait before purchasing some sort of firearm.

I’m sure there’s a fancy legal term for it, but if journalists are writing stories about it, it’s simply called a waiting period.

The idea is that between the purchase or reserving of a gun from a dealer and the moment when the purchaser may take possession of that gun, that purchaser needs to wait a set number of days, usually to allow a state government agency to run a background check and confirm that the purchaser is legally allowed to have that weapon.

The concept also exists regarding insurance policies – incidents which occur during a waiting period are not claimable. Also in the arena of business finance, wherein a company making an initial public offering of stock must keep quiet about it, so as not to articifially inflate the stock’s value. In that latter arena, that waiting period is also known as the “cooling-off period”.

In each case, it seems to me, that waiting period can be a useful tool to help people avoid doing something rash. Whether the rash activity is one of trying to succeed in business without really trying, or to get one’s hands on a weapon that can do physical harm … there are decisions that in the heat of certain moments might better be addressed without the red haze of wild emotion or avarice. Or at least they might more ethically be addressed.

Cooling-off period” is, I would judge, a tremendously apt term.

 

On Saturday, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia was found to have died in his sleep, at a resort in Texas.

The 79-year-old judge had been a member of the Court since the late 1980s, and had been involved in many momentous decisions, decisions which have profoundly impacted American life and politics. As it happened, he had espoused “originalist” views of the Constitution and conservative takes on the issues that were being discussed as part of these decisions. I happen to have some very specific thoughts about those political views and about the way in which Scalia expressed them, but those thoughts are not germane to the topic that occurred to me Saturday afternoon, when I first heard the news.

As much as I didn’t really care for the man or his views, I tried to be a human being about his passing first. My first thoughts immediately flashed to the future makeup of the Supreme Court, even before a successor may be found, because eight Supremes (and particularly the currently-remaining eight) may decide cases in a different way than the previous nine. But I almost immediately felt badly about that, and concentrated on thoughts and prayers for Justice Scalia’s family and friends.

No matter how famous a person you are … no matter how much of a public figure you may be, and no matter what your effect upon the world and its mass-media current-affairs crucible … when you pass away, somebody else(s), some other human being(s) is (are) directly affected, and are thrown unexpectedly into the grieving process.

That grieving process is often illogical, it’s usually driven by emotion, and it sometimes results in things being said and emotions being expressed in ways that, thereafter, themselves require healing to take place. It’s a frightening and sad and angry time, and taking into account this knowledge aforethought, a lot of things are said and done that are understandable, if not immediately forgivable.

Previously, in this space, I had occasion to chronicle the passing of my college band director – and the reactions of the community upon which he had such an important influence – and the previous paragraph completely applied to that event. It was a rocky time, and people did make it through to varying degrees; but occasionally a few of us had to gently nudge the community as a whole and suggest, um, let’s consider the feelings of his family please, and let’s see if we can try to imagine what the world is going to look like after this immediate sharp stab of shock and grief has subsided, and perhaps even how our rash responses or actions might adversely impact it, yes?

 

Anyway, back to the current event: Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep Saturday.

Almost immediately after the San Antonio Express-News reported the judge’s death, wrote technology news and analysis website re/code, Twitter became the place where politicians and their proxies issued statements and began positioning the debate about his successor.

The news commentary website ThinkProgress noted, Mere moments after his death was confirmed, Conn Carroll, a key staffer for Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), promised Republicans would block anyone that Obama nominated[, on Twitter:] … ‘What is less than zero? The chances of Obama successfully appointing a Supreme Court Justice to replace Scalia?’”

And re/code continued, In the pre-Twitter era, both traditional and online publications would follow a predictable playbook for an event like this: Pre-reported obituaries first, followed by sober, restrained analysis. Anything that deviated from that would only show up in media’s margins, at least for the first few days. But now that people — journalists, politicians, celebrities and other influential figures with large audiences — can respond in real time, there’s a new kind of conversation that’s rapidly emerging.

Which, I thought, don’t make it right.

What’s a fella like me, with an opinion like that, to do?

Climb onto Facebook and post, of course.

I know. I spotted the gentle irony. (As a favorite media philosopher of mine once said, “I saw that one coming down Broadway with its doors open.”)

 

I did it anyway.

Okay, so I’m seeing a few of my FB friends posting thoughts … gentle thoughts, I must note … about the passing of Antonin Scalia, as it relates to the constitution of the Supreme Court going forward.

I have NO problem with these expressions. Especially as they have been, again, gentle, speculative, and in some cases elegantly stated.

The topic of the link below, though, I find substantively different. With the understanding that political people in DC need to get ahead of the curve, be prepared for tomorrow morning’s Meet-The-Press-like chat shows, etc etc … could *this* sort of expression not wait at least, say, an hour? Or 24?

In this case, there’s a difference between the social-media commentary of average persons and the policy-setting press releases of the legislative community.

The seeming Desperate Need for political professionals to pounce on this, in this way, at this speed, causes me to wonder if those professionals ever, EVER consider that the recently passed-on have *friends and family* who would like to focus on their loss, undistracted, for longer than, say, a few minutes.

These people.

Don’t know how in the world (at this point, in the era of instant online gratification and Twitter and the majority of humanity yielding to their knee-jerk reactions) one would regulate this sort of thing, but …

I wonder if there ought to be a waiting period.

February 14, 2016 Posted by | current events, Facebook, Famous Persons, government, Internet, news, politics, social media, technology, Twitter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment