Cover Art: Miss Paulette
Graphic Design: Cindy Giese French
Queen Of Snarfage: Kimberly McCann
Valuable Insight: Jim Barrett
I guess things are back to normal. Not that I'm out knocking around with the masses but there seems to be a return to order, a verisimilitude as before. I can tell you without a pang of embarrassment or shame that it was the best time of my life. It was a rocket ride, no doubt. Funny how it seemed like years when it was only 13 months but in that baker's dozen of a calendar, a ton of shit happened. Literal life-changing events for millions of people and there was no better feeling than to be shoveling the coal into the engine of frenzy. Wrapped up by the huge raucous crowds of instant gratification and boisterous celebration. A burst of euphoria that could never be adequately explained, only gratefully experienced and it was all because of him. Dinkles the Clown. My mentor, my boss, my comrade in arms, my biggest fear. I hesitate to call him my friend because I don't think he had any friends. I can actually hear him bark out his familiar "fuck 'em" at such a notion. Dinkles was hard on people and downright terrifying without even trying. I recall the talking heads, on the night of the election, refer to him as "an acquired taste" which I found to be a hilarious understatement. Dinks would be the first to call himself an asshole because in his world, we were all assholes. We all have the (I) gene in us somewhere but Dinkles carried the triple XXX factor ()*() gene to the nth degree. That gene served him well since you don't put yourself out there to run for president without some sort of hard shell and nobody wants to hear this side of the equation but you don't become president without stepping on the backs of millions of people and if you want to carry the metaphor even further, the strength of those millions of backs must have been monumental when you consider the pain that Dinkles' giant, bulbous feet must have caused and the genuine glee he derived whenever he hurt somebody.
How do you start to tell the story? There really is no beginning. I'm serious. I had to put together his bio for the press release and came up with very little documentation. Nothing of his childhood exists and all the verbal lore about him comes from possibly the least credible source, Dinkles himself. I did find a birth certificate from a hospital in a northern border town where a seven pound, two ounce boy was born on February 16th by the name of Phineas Claymore Utsalady. His mother's name was Gladys Ivory Benn, who disappeared shortly after the umbilical cord was cut. Nothing else is known of her. His father, Ulyssess Utsalady, raised Phineas on the salary of a crippled acrobat. Crippled by a fear of heights, as Dinkles eventually told me in the company of several empty bottles of Jack Daniels and some hookers of unknown origin. He also told me, during our little hiatus from the campaign trail, " My mother liked French and my father liked Greek. It was a miracle I was even born."
Choices are few and far between up in a northern border town so how Phineas evolved into Dinkles the Clown is anybody's guess. Possibly his father's limited history with the circus might have inspired this decision. I also remember a motto or maybe it was a mantra that he often expressed loudly whenever there was any negative press, which meant he said it daily or if there were any shade cast upon him: "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke and joke 'em if they don't wanna fuck." Words he quite simply lived by. The origin of this crude credo is only just a fraction of the mystery that surrounds our ever shaky Afro-ed Prince as his entire life was filled with contradictions. Starting out in his early clowndom, it was apparent that he would never be appropriate for your five year old son's birthday party or your daughter's .....anything. He made a name for himself at bachelor and bachelorette parties with an occasional television commercial and hit his entertainment zenith with a three year run on a cable show called, "Con I Help You?" , a dark comedy about ex-cons trying to integrate back into society. It was the perfect role for his abrasive personality and he won a Golden Globe after the first year of the show. Initially intended as an ensemble piece, it became abundantly clear during rehearsals that Dinks could improv better lines than what the writers offered and by the strength of his dominant presence, he became the star of the show. This is where I first met him. I was a young, impressionable writer, working my first job. Our Head Writer and Show Creator was having trouble with the idea that this clown was changing the entire face of his concept but he had to cowtow to the producers who saw the benefits that a talent like Dinkles could reap. His original character's name was changed to his own and there was much discussion as to possibly adding his name to the show's title. Eventually we just came up with concepts that Dinkles could riff on and wrote some lines for the other actors , who were no match for his improvisational skills. We wrote on the set during rehearsal with the final say going to Dinkles. It worked fantastic for two years but eventually the pressure of of creating a top five show caught up to us and, of course, Dinkles' drinking didn't help matters . One element of Con I Help You? that was universally praised was the sense of realism that permeated every scene. One could argue it was the emphasis on creation through improv but the reality was that every argument, every verbal harassment and every fight scene was backed by the animosity carried by the other actors. There were no pulled punches or stage combat. Dinkles was actually beating up the other actors and every salacious and creepy encounter with a female actor was as real as the repulsion each actress manifested. Half way through the first season, all the actresses had quit the show and we could never get a guest star to re-appear after they had been "Dinklized" so the realism was in fact, real. Being that we were a cable show, we had some leeway with Standards and Practices but eventually the original message of the show, along with any coherence was lost in a drunken melee that aired every Wednesday at 10pm, 9pm Central time. I remember a particular review stating, "There isn't one remotely likable quality left. I'm a man of low standards and yet I can no longer watch this mess."
Despite it's high ratings and it's loyal fan base, the show was canceled and that loyal fan base, according to Dinkles, howled like feral cats but he had a high percentage deal tied with the DVD sales of "Con I Help You?, starring Dinkles the Clown. Season I, II and III, including the unseen episodes." so he wasn't hurting like the rest of us. There was a lot of speculation whether Dinks would have his own late night talk show or host a variety hour in primetime but it seemed the talks would stall when it came time to discuss payment or residuals and intellectual property and holdings and use of cars and anything else that Dinkles could ferret out of somebody's pocket. There was a Hollywood reporter who offered up an editorial in the trades that Dinkles had an exaggerated sense of his worth and hopefully he would see how ridiculously high his demands had been and maybe come back to earth or at least settle with the rest of the elite and share his brand. That reporter disappeared shortly after, never to be heard from again. Although he was never officially termed a suspect in the case, the police did try to pay him a visit at his home in Rancho Palos Verdes, hoping he would answer some questions but instead were treated to Dinkles, in an unwashed and untied bathrobe telling them that, "Karma's a bitch, ain't it?" before slamming the door.
Unfortunately, his hold out ended his television career and his backstage reputation scared away any potential movie offers and the blunt force of his personality upon first meeting left him black-listed from even a game show. He was married now with two kids and finally reaching the shallow end of his wealth when he told his wife," Go back to work or get the hell out!" He started dabbling in a podcast from his garage where he would riff on questionably current topics of the day while still wearing the bathrobe. I watched a few of these podcasts and throughout these nearly unviewable monologues about cat piss, genital warts and actually showing the viewers his hemorrhoids, there was this constant, powerful voice that could be harnessed for a greater purpose. I thought he was wasting his talent but having worked with him for almost three years, I wasn't about to tell him or even approach him because I couldn't see what it was that he ought to be doing. I certainly didn't envy anyone who might be writing the words that would come out of that sick, disgusting and conceited mouth. Little did I know how envious I would become.
To understand how a toxic clown could become president, one must understand where the collective heartbeat of our nation stood. No longer could we be considered a Demoracy or even a Republic. We were an oligarchy, where the voice and desires of the people meant nothing compared to the whims and wants of our biggest corporations. The two party system had become a joke since the elections were shaped completely by big money corporations and the people we elected would service those corporations like Geisha Girls, except Geisha Girls conducted themselves with dignity and class. The entire planet was becoming warmer. There were statistics and studies demonstrating that the polar ice caps were melting and seaside communities and cities were experiencing a rise in water levels but the two political parties were too busy arguing whether the change was being hastened by man's reliance upon fossil fuels to stop and try and correct the problem. Some politicians refused to believe it was even happening, primarily because big money corporations were lining those politician's pocket. Science and facts took a backseat to profits. Aging nuclear power plants were leaking contaminated isotopes into the ground yet we were doing nothing to stop it. A genocide was being committed against the African-American male. Prisons had become a profitable business model. More and more states were adopting voter suppression laws, making it more difficult for poor people to vote. The rich didn't pay taxes. Wages had been stagnant for decades. Unions were being broken and yet none of this seemed to be covered by any of the major news outlets because the major news outlets were also controlled by big money corporations. The news usually lead off with a war on a foreign land unless there was a storm or flooding or a fire going on. Of course there was no mention as to WHY these inclement weather incidents were happening but we could always seem to count on some celebrity deed to distract us and if that celebrity deed could be considered scandalous, suddenly we were a nation in need of trivial information.
And yet none of that seemed to be what was angering the nation. To be fair, it was less than half of the country that was angry but they were a loud minority as less than half of the country was genuinely angry at the current president, who was in the final year of his two term presidency and the other party just couldn't take any more. Every time the party without a president spoke to the media they had to mention,"Eight years of failed policies." This adage became a bit long-winded, especially if you are thanking somebody but the angry become inventive. "I know I should be thanking you for passing the salt but I'm just so distraught over the last eight years of failed policies......" Eventually this becomes a reflex. Another tactic being utilized to vent this anger was calling the current president the most divisive president in history which is ridiculous when you consider 11 states seceded from the union after Abraham Lincoln was elected president but that fact wasn't widely talked about since Lincoln was a member of that party. Rather than revising history, the party without a president was gearing up for the coming election. A lot of men and a few women were lining up to take a shot at becoming the party's presidential nominee yet none of the candidates had that certain je ne sais quoi that seemed appropriate when filling out a presidential resume. As the list of potential candidates continued to grow, there was work going on in the underbelly of the party to find that perfect candidate.