‘Wind Of Change’ & The Novel I’m Developing

by Shelt Garner

I really liked Crooked Media’s podcast “Wind of Change.” But I must confess, I didn’t listen to the last episode because I was so engaged by the mystery that I didn’t want to be let down by finding out a downer truth. (If it was a downer.)

But listening to that podcast has, however influenced the novel I’m developing in the sense that it confirmed my general belief that spooky stuff is a far more human endeavor than you might think. The surreal scenario I’ve come up with for why spooks might be interested in my Heroine isn’t all that surreal, afterall.

Or, put another way, I’m within shouting distance of there being little, if any suspension of disbelief about what happened and why. I first came up with the spooky angle to this concept out of laziness — I had a problem I couldn’t solve without some high tech gadgets.

The rest took care of itself because it helped with the over-arching motive of my heroine.

But I don’t know. I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m just trying my best, working in a vacuum and seeing how things work out.

Believe In Yourself — No One Else Will

by Shelt Garner

The thing about someone like Crooked Media’s Erin Ryan is I can mean as well as much as I want — she simply will never accept me for who I am. I’m always going to be a middle-aged loser who is a member of the patriarchy. I only mention this because, well, I’m going to draw upon what I know about her to think up my novel’s female romantic lead.

I am honestly rather indifferent to Ms. Ryan one way or another — live long and prosper, lady. It’s just a little annoying that I can paint the most pleasant picture of her I want via my female romantic lead and she will never, ever return the favor for any reason. It would be bad for her “image” to simply give me an empathetic assessment should some reason arise.

Anyway, I believe in myself when it comes to this novel. I try to bend over backwards to be as empathetic to wide-range of types of people. I want to be as representative as I can possibly be. In fact, I’m a big believer in representation in art. But, again, lulz, nothing matters. I’m a loser to people like Ms. Ryan. I’m not perfect and I’m not some sort of ideal feminist ally. All I can do is try to write something entertaining and see what happens.

Though I will note that pretty much this entire novel gets its energy from my white-hot rage against MAGA. I fucking hate MAGA with a white hot rage. Since I’m a man of peace, a man of ideas, all I got is a novel. All my venting about MAGA is diffused to such an extent in this novel that hopefully you’ll see my hatred of MAGA is more about my hatred of extremism than anything else.

I don’t mean to whine, but the whole thing can grow frustrating. I can’t help who I am. I can’t help my age. I can’t help my background. I can just try to write the best novel I can and see what happens.

‘Muh Novel’

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelt Garner

I’m developing a novel and it’s going quite well. But there’s a problem — it’s meant to be an allegory of the Trump Era in the guise of a very snappy, accessible thriller. I’m growing a little nervous that while I will finish it, when I try to sell it, the context of the market will be profoundly different than I might ever expect.

The novel I’m developing has zero literary aspirations. It may if you realize it’s meant to be me screaming — in a very diffused manner — about how much I hate extremism, but, lulz. I just want everyone to have a good time. Ok, maybe not MAGA, they can suck it. But everyone else.

I really like this novel because of how character-driven it is. I really enjoy the characters I’ve come up with — especially the heroine. She’s a lot of fun. While she’s a bad ass who will kick your ass as need be, she’s not dark and unlikeable like Lisbeth Salander. She does have a pretty warped background like Salander, but I want you to like her. I want you to root for her.

Of course, I have to balance that will the risk of her coming off as nothing more than yet another sexxxy slutty assassin. I have to make her dark enough and complex enough that women (the audience) like her, but attractive enough that the marketplace (men) can hang their sexxy time fantasies on her in their minds. It’s a very complicated artistic balance.

I just hate the idea that I have to sacrifice my heroine’s likability or sex appeal in some ideological quest to make her a feminist icon. I mean, there IS sex-positive feminism, as Emily Ratajkowski makes clear on a daily basis. (Whoa buddy.)

All that doesn’t even begin to address the issue that because of identity politics I could do exactly what I set out to do and STILL “trigger” people because, well, lulz I’m a man and I should just fuck off. An example of this is a little Twitter tussle I got in with Crooked Media’s Erin Ryan. I will admit that I was a bit passive-aggressive about this very issue with her and she called me out on it, but I did make a pretty important point: it’s unlikely I will ever be able to placate her in my art. Not only am I not wealthy and / or talk dark and handsome, but I’m exactly the middle-aged white male member of the patriarchy she complains about all the time (albeit a very well-meaning loser version of it.)

I think I’m just going to pause here for a moment and have a pity party about how brutally real this concept is.

Ok, back to writing.

I guess the issue is — I want to placate Ms. Ryan with this novel while not being so preaching (ex: Olivia Wilde’s movie Book Smart) that center-Right men won’t be able to enjoy the novel on the face of it as a thriller. That’s my goal — to write a “woke” tenpole, if you will. But really, it wouldn’t be seen as all that woke because I’m going to rant against “woke” and “cancel” culture just as much fucking MAGA.

All I ask is a pandemic doesn’t make it impossible for me to sell this novel. Please?

The ‘Bustle’ Syndrome: The Agony & The Ecstasy Of Being A Male Author Struggling To Write Complex Female Characters

Thinking of you Ms. Ryan.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelt Garner

As you may know, “Bustle” is a Website for women that has a male publisher. In the identity politics era we live in, this has lead to more than a few raised eyebrows. I thought of this after I got into something of a brief rhetorical tussle with Crooked Media star Erin Ryan on Twitter about my person attempt to give her, as a woman reader, complex female characters. She essentially say, “I don’t like your attitude.” But the issue I was trying to convey — it’s unlikely she would even, really, give me a chance if I did develop the type of female characters she demands still stands. I’m a man — a member of the patriarchy — and as such either she wouldn’t read my novel or I would have to work extra hard to prove to her I really was meeting her extremely high demands. I refuse to come to her as a supplicant in search of validation. Either she takes me for who I am as an artist, or doesn’t.

It became clear that her followers were going to rain scorn down on me for not being a sycophant, so I muted the conversation and decided to use the brief encounter as motivation to buckle down on my goal: prove that a man who fits the heteronormative spectrum can, in fact, write women characters for women as part of a tenpole piece of pop art. The issue is, I refuse to be a “soy boy” who fits the feminist narrative. I’m going to be myself –smelly boy attributes and all — and let the chips fall where they may. I really like Ms. Ryan and she’s really is the exact type of person I want to serve with the novel I’m writing. It would be quite an honor if I could do what appears to be the impossible — be both a man and someone who manages to provide a novel with universal truth that she would enjoy the hard work of.

Yass, Queen.

Or, put another way, I want what every artist — male or female — wants: to be accepted for who I am on my own terms because of my art. It’s extremely rare for that to happen. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a recent example of that happening. She has both artistic AND commercial success. In a sense, she’s one of my artistic inspirations since Woody Allen has personal baggage I don’t wish to contemplate. (Wink.)

Anyway, all of this plays into my personal anger about how identity politics makes it more and more difficult to provide an audience universal truth in storytelling. The American Dirt controversy is a prime example of this — apparently only each individual little subgroup has the right to tell their story. Of course, at the same time, when someone like Stephen King is openly dubious of the need to tell non-white male stories, there’s outrage as well. So, damned if you do, damned if you don’t. And there’s an ADDITIONAL outrage if you point out the Catch 22. So, in other words, you pick your poison and expect the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. I want to write a modern tentpole and, as such, I want to give the female audience what they seem to be demanding — honest portrayals of the female experience.

That’s what I’ve been working so hard on for about year now. Whatever the consequences of all that hard work may be, I am prepared for.

Pod Save America & A Potential Radical Resistance Movement

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m decompressing a little bit again from developing the thriller I’m trying to write and as such I have a lot of urge to write about something near-and-dear to my heart right now — the possibility of a Radical Resistance and its ideology.

The main problem, as I’ve mentioned, is time.

The economy is doing too well and generally there’s no political will-power to do anything about Trump’s treasonous, felonious illegitimate and tyrannical regime, so I guess we’re stuck with it for the forseeable future.

Having said that, if the guys of Pod Save America might gently broach the subject of a Radical Resistance to their multitude of listeners, maybe the idea might strike a cord. Just because 37% of the electorate are in a lobotomized MAGA cult, doesn’t mean the rest of the population has to lie down and cover itself with leaves.

Right now, I feel a lot of high information voters feel like me, but they don’t quite know how to articulate their ideology. If the people of Pod Save America were to say if you want to say fuck it, demand Trump is impeached immediately, regardless of when it becomes politically viable under the cover of the magical mystery Mueller Report then you a Radical Resistor.

That’s it, that’s your ideology for the Radical Resistance.

It’s not violent at all. I’m thinking a lot less Weather Underground and a lot more, maybe using Rage Against The Machine’s Renegades of Funk or John Lennon’s Power To The People as protest anthems during the course of massive rolling — and peaceful — protests across the country.

Really, that is where Crooked Media sure could come in handy in making this vision a reality. Simply saying don’t be afraid to call yourself a “radical” in the sense that you are a one-issue voter for the immediate future — impeach Trump NOW.

We really need to channel our inner punks and AOCs and stop being, like, uh, Joe Biden? We need to say fuck the Establishment, fuck the Powers That Be. We need a radical centrist movement that simply says enough is enough — Trump, at the very least, has to be impeached by the House immediately and any Democrat who doesn’t support doing that risks being primaried by the base in 2020.

Though if Trump lasts to 2020, we really are fucked.

So, I guess if I could get a “many people are saying” reference on PSA, that would rock.

Not that it’s going to happen.

A Call To Arms: Someone Design An Organization & Mobilization App For The Resistance

by Shelton Bumgarner

Things have grown so dire in just the last few days, that we need to think outside the box. We have to be ready now for the inevitable clash that Trump is going to provoke in his rapacious quest for absolute power. If the recent change in Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy has show anything, it’s that pretty much the only part of our democracy that is working is the part where public outrage actually has some sort of affect.

Other than that, we’re on our own.

I suggest someone, say Crooked Media, design an app that is specifically invented to facilitate mass organization and mobilization on the part of The Resistance. It could do everything from facilitate people registering to vote, to ride shares to protests to how to get in touch with local Resistance leaders who might be planning a protest in the first place.

It can’t possibly be that difficult. I would do it myself, but I have no money, can’t code and don’t really want to learn. But Crooked Media seems to have the means, motive and opportunity to designed the type of app I crave.

Too bad things are going to have to get a lot worse before anyone takes me up on the idea.

Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. He may be reached at Migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thinking About Applying For A Job At Crooked Media

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m really old to do this, but I need a new job desperately and for the time being a part-time job would do perfectly, so I’m going to at least attempt to apply for a job at Crooked Media. But we’ll see. It’s more about me needing to just psych myself up for looking for a job more than anything else.

Trumplandia Has Scrambled American Civil Society ‘Bigly’

by Shelton Bumgarner

It goes without saying that we live in surreal times. As Trumplandia makes it seemingly inexorable march through the American political landscape, some pretty surreal things have happened. Chief amongst them being the center-Right’s Never Trump movement has almost completely joined forces with the center-Left’s Resistance.

So, for the duration, at least on Twitter, you have a lot of people who would otherwise disagree with each other, agreeing one one thing: Donald Trump is a menace to the Republic that both sides hold dear. It’s a very surreal moment in our nation’s history and a testament to not only to not only the weird nature of Trumplandia but to the power of America’s civil society.

Trump is 70 years old, and simply isn’t going to change. In other words, you can put ice cream on crap, but in the end you still got crap at the bottom of the ice cream cone. So, the warping of our political debate is going to continue for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, I have found myself listening to a lot of podcasts and while I listen to some you would expect of someone like me, namely the pods of liberal leaning Crooked Media, I also find the pods associated with the Lawfare blog really insightful and addictive. I sometimes have no idea what they’re talking about, but often I can glean a little bit of insight into how dangerous Trump is to the Republic from a legal standpoint.

None of this is going to change as long as Trump is president. It’s only going to get more and more surreal. It will be interesting to see how long the weird alliance between Never Trump people and The Resistance will continue once Trump is no longer president. Given that that maybe be significantly longer than any of us may hope, the political ramifications of that alliance may be potentially more powerful than we imagine right now.

Friend Of The Pod: Pod Save America Creeps Towards Selling Out

By Shelton Bumgarner

In this era of Trumplandia, I find myself turning to podcasts for some relief to the insane world we now live in. So, I have been listening to Crooked Media’s Pod Save America on a regular basis. So, because I’m a “friend of the pod” I thought I’d try to start doing a regular post about the show.

The first thing we have to note is that it seems as though Crooked Media is selling out to the man when it comes to its advertising at the beginning. It used to be that the ads at the beginning of Pod Save America were really funny and loose. But I have started to notice that they’re getting a little bit more professional.

I don’t know if it’s because they are starting to make money or if they’re just taking the whole endeavor more seriously.

They open this show talking about the Trump’s foreign trip. They talk about what a disaster it all was. “Didn’t want to lecture the dictators, did want to lecture the democratic leaders,” is one of the quotes. They also talk about how Obama would have gotten a huge amount of shit for even the littlest amount of what Trump has done. They also talk about Trump’s refusal to re-endorse Article 5 of NATO as well as the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Posture is the most important thing,” says Jon Lovett when it comes to NATO and Article 5. They talk a lot about how Trump seems oblivious to how the American press keeps mentioning how Trump sleeps to slobbing the knob of Putin. They also mention that Trump maybe be signaling that maybe that Putin can take a big chunk of Ukraine if he likes. Which, I think, we need to keep an eye on that. Ukraine could be huge in the coming days.

There is some talk about how Trump’s talk of leaving the Paris Climate Accords. It is interesting that our friends Axios is brought up. “If he pulls out of Paris, this it means its hopeless,” is the general consensus about how the power of the “New York Cucks” may not be really there.

“You’re either a part of this monstrosity or you’re not,” is another good quote from this general moment.

Taking up my view that we need to stop falloning Trump, Lovett says we’re “in a major crisis.”

It is their discussion about Jared Kushner that makes me so angry and makes me wish Crooked Media would produce a blog like Gawker. They talk about all the dump, possibly criminal things that Kushner alledgly did. The thing that everyone is talking about, and thinking about — what was the deal with using Russian “clock and dagger bullshit” that Kushner wanted to do.

“It’s a backchannel to keep things from America,” Lovett says.

The possibly that the backchannel is maybe a way to get Trump to lower the sanctions against Russia at some point in the future. They also talk about the difference between Obama’s Iranian backchannel and Kushner’s efforts. “It’s unprecedented,” is the quote at this point about what Kushner wanted to do.

“It’s all a little to convenient and weird,” is another quote of note.

“It’s so awful, you don’t want to believe it happened,” Jon Faveau says.

The pee tape comes up, with Jon Lovett saying the Pee Tape would be better than if the Russians have some sort of fiduciary power over the administration.

“None of it makes sense without leverage, none of it,” Lovett says about Trump and Russia.

There was a lot of discussion about Kushner getting high-level security information is something they talk about at length. “It’s a risk question,” is the quote on the issue. As well the lack of a denial by Trump’s administration when it comes to the Kushner back channel. They also talked about how complicit the “real” journalists of FOX News are at this point.

“We’re not doing the basic things to protect our country,” is the quote.

The failure of the Vichy Republicans is also the subject of discussion. Lots of picking on Paul Ryan is done, but there is also discussion about Sen. Bob Cooker being enthusiastic about the Russian-Kushner backchannel issue. They talk about the hypocrisy of Sen. Cooker when it comes to Trump versus Obama. They note that Sen. Cooker is up for re-election in 2018 and they think maybe the reason for Sen. Cooker being so fawning about Trump could be he wants to win reelection by not “losing single base vote.”

There was so discussion about the need for a new message on the part of the Democratic Party. This is something I really agree with, but I don’t know what it could possibly be. They mention that the Democrats shouldn’t “over correct” about issues that really matter to the base.

They also talk about how policy is being clouded over by people hoping that the malfesence of the Trump Administration may bring it down. I really agree with this take on things. But I there are no easy answers. I don’t know what path The Resistance should take.

The issue of trying to get people who otherwise wouldn’t vote to vote for The Resistance is something they talk about, which I think is pretty important at this point. The difference between The Resistance and Trumplandia is so great at this point that. The disillusionment of the average person who just doesn’t want to vote is a very important issue.

“What’s next,” is an issue that is addressed and I think that’s really important.

There is an interview with Sen. Elizabeth Warren which you can listen to for yourself. If I get positive feedback for this, I might do something similar for the entire podcast. I really like Crooked Media and I really, really wish they would start an anti-Axios blog like Gawker. They really do a good job with their pods and it would be nice to have a go-to blog for the Trumplandia Era.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.