December 29, 2017
How is it possible to sum up a year like the 2017, the first year of the unimaginable Trump presidency, when alternative facts became accepted reality and actual facts were branded “fake news”? It’s been hard to believe any of it has been real. Americans seem to either embrace this pathological liar as their perfect savior (quite literally, there is nothing this man could do to lose their support) or are just too tired to fact-check him anymore to care. It started to feel like America’s greatness was fading in the rearview mirror, replaced by a kleptocratic idiocracy, populated by a mindless flock who would make George Orwell slit his goddamn wrists. The war on the truth was gleefully embraced by his cult-like followers and it felt like the slippery slope to fascism just had truckload after truckload of lube dumped on it. Then a fellow sexual predator was (barely) defeated in, of all places, Alabama and it started to feel like 2018 might just make America great again.
That the year started with the massive Women’s March protesting the accused sexual assaulter about to be sworn in to the high office and wrapped up with the #MeToo women as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year was the real story of 2017. It may have taken an alleged child rapist becoming to president (Listen to the witness testimony of the 2016 rape lawsuit against their dear leader) to awaken the sisterhood and their common stories of victimization. As more of these stories spread on social media, more powerful men fell, both friend and foe. Accept for the one. He stands as the teflon tower of patriarchy. But he will fall, too. His “silent majority” has become a sickening minority. America knows it is better than him. And that’s an awfully low bar.
It has been a transformative year for me. This dramatic swing to the alt-right, the rise of hate groups, and the hateful murders in Charlottesville and here in Portland, have put me in front of the media in more ways than I can count. CBS News, NPR, CNN several times, I can’t count how many interviews I’ve given in a desperate hope to put all this bad news into a useful context. This week I was asked to appear on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News in response to some comments I had made in an article on Newsweek. After much soul searching, I declined. I don’t need more face-time. I need platforms that will be able to reach people who are ready to break through the madness. I’m not skilled enough to tame the trolls of Fox News.
While I watched the nation burn, figuratively and literally, I watched my beautiful family grow. The year began and ended with Cozy playing in the snow. But Cozy at 3 years and 4 months is a different creature from the 2 year and 4 month-old that started the year. In January we were just starting our conversations, often talking in our pretend language that she named “Cupa Sana.” Now she is telling jokes, relating things to lessons she learned in pre-school, and making up songs. The other day she heard a Christmas song with the word “manger” in it and said, “That’s where Jesus was born.” So I guess she has a religion. (My attempt to raise as a pagan has failed.) After her third birthday at Disneyland in August, she just seems to be exploding. It’s a bit freaky. She did addition today. And she always knows where lost things are. And Christmas morning she figured out right wen Santa snuck in.
One of my favorite things about her has been her love of music, surely an influence of her record spinning father. “Daddy, let’s rock out,” she’ll say, asking me to play something loud so she can thrash around the living room. U2’s “American Soul” is her current favorite. Or “Daddy, play some beautiful music,” which is a key to spin some jazz so she can do some ballet dancing. Yesterday she was making up dances to some Benny Goodman tunes but was in a hilarious aggro mood. One dance was called, “Behavior,” after she spilled a glass of water and was upset. The next dance was called “Bad Sugar Plum Fairy,” that had her spinning around the room like a Hurricane Maria. We started the year with a toddler and ended with a talented performer. How much do ballet lessons cost?
So much was squeezed into 2017, it’s hard to believe I spent most of it as a stay-at-home dad. Lots of traveling, a new book deal, organizing community forums and anti-bias trainings. And growing almost as much as Cozy did. There were tough moments, like the passings of Tom Petty and Chuck Berry, but there was great music throughout the year, enjoyed with my ever amazing wife, Andrea. She supported me through all this media storm, occasionally luring me off the field for a night out on the town or a Roku binge. (Narcos, Ozark, Stranger Things, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Crown, what’s next?) While I waited for my novel, The Dream Police, to find a wider audience, she won an impressive literary award for her writing.
Through it all, I’ve tried to chronicle each week here on the blog: my life as a parent, husband, and citizen of this increasingly fractured nation, keeping my feminist lens in place. Launching the Recovering Asshole podcast has helped to expand the audience (even if iTunes temporarily kicked the show off because of the title). My blog post on sexuality and Chris Cornell was the most popular post of the year, followed by “Interviewing Neo-Nazis Taught Me How to Talk to Trump Supporters.” My piece, “Fascists Fall for Trump, Their Nazi Dream Date,” was published in CounterPunch. Of the 52 weekly posts, 7 were specifically about Donald Trump, but my favorites were about the joy of parenting, especially May 11th’s “A Dad Love Supreme.” The pieces on Charlottesville and #MeToo were probably the most important, but writing about being Cozy’s dad was just so much damn fun.
In 2018, we will have a conclusion to the FBI investigation of our media-hating/loving president, the most important mid-term election in our nation’s history, and I will have a 4-year-old (and maybe a full-time job). I hope you will continue to check in and watch the wheels with me.
Here’s the 2017 in hyperlink.