Irvine texted to see if I’d fancy a movie. He’s from Scotland so he uses words like fancy as verbs. I was free but had seen most of what was out there that I’d wanted to see. I suggested Thor: Ragnarok only because it was directed by the guy who made What We Do in the Shadows, but he’d already seen it, so we went to LBJ.
Irvine was sawing logs before the fifteen minute mark—just about the time I was fighting the impulse to leave—but his gentle snoring kept me put. So I was forced to keep watching poor Woody Harrelson try his darnedest to emote through the various prosthetics plastered to his mug. It was hard to believe that this snoozefest was made by the guy who made This is Spinal Tap, but then again both films are send-ups of something or other.
Afterward, we wandered around downtown looking for a place to eat and wound up at some new-fangled taco joint on Lake. We talked a bit about the movie, both agreeing it was a dog but also remarking on how even the worst racist Dixiecrat on screen came off as a dignified statesman compared to the parade of assclowns we’re subjected to these days. We talked about the sex scandals. He said there’s a photo of him hugging Harvey Weinstein out there somewhere. I bet there are thousands of photographs like that being burned, erased, or deleted as we speak. Weinstein made a lot of people rich and famous and no amount of distancing will make that history go away. We saw a preview for the J. Paul Getty movie before LBJ. That’s the one which is now being reshot with Christopher Plummer replacing Kevin Spacey. It’s a weird Orwellian thing that we’re doing, trying to scrub the past and present clean.
Irvine has his own fish to fry. He was in town because he’s going through a divorce and lawyers are in the process of divvying up property and assets which include his soon-to-be-former Chicago home. It’s a shame I won’t see him much anymore but that’s the way life goes. This is what he tweeted about our dinner:
I’m with a friend who has been off social media for three years. And the fucker is 500 times happier. And thinner. Cunt.
He exaggerated both my happiness and any weight loss, but he was sweet to do so. It got 1.5K likes and a couple hundred retweets. Glad I can still be good fodder for the old social networks.
As bad as LBJ was, something about those outsize historical figures kept eating at me. Maybe it’s because we’re in another one of those periods where powerful people are being felled. In a few decades there will be a boring biopic about the Trump Years too, but for now it’s all too raw and fresh and seemingly-important. I don’t know what will be remembered and what will be forgotten but I hope we stop trying to obliterate and obscure the sins of our disgraced leaders and heroes. There are lessons to be learned from their failures which will not be learned if we pretend they never even existed.
This is in no way an argument to defend Weinstein, Louis CK, Spacey, or any of the dozens of other men whose careers will justifiably be ended because of the way they abused their power. But condemning what they did and removing them from history are two very different things. I ran into my old friend Andrew at the Bottle a few days after seeing Irvine and he wanted to talk about the scandals as well. He didn’t like the desperate efforts at a do-over either but seemed more concerned about whether someone might come forward and accuse him of harassment. He said he felt he was safe but had a worried look in his eye. As for me, on this account my conscience is completely clear.
What these men have done, worse than any sexual assault, is abuse their power. They took advantage of their position to force others to pleasure them and they’ll burn in hell for it. I have no clue how I would have acted in their place. I’ve never felt in control of another human being in my life. To be honest, I hope I never have to find out.
In Rob Reiner’s movie, LBJ is portrayed as a tragic, power-hungry monster and elicits sympathy. But none of our current monsters make me feel that way. They need to pay for what they’ve done but we shouldn’t forget them, because they’re our monsters and they did not spring from the earth fully formed. We made them and we’ll make many more before we’re done.
p.p.s. You can now buy one of those Mute Duo CDs I designed on this page.