Don’t take prescription medication and sit down to watch the flood of ugly, angry, downright weird US election ads. Let Crikey’s man-at-large do it for you.
On TV, Barack Obama is in Jersey talking at a shelter centre. He’s looking exhausted, sounding like death. Not down, but so tired that his usual studious voice becomes ponderous: “These people will be going through days or weeks or months of hard times.”
That’s it Barry, give ‘em the good news. Mind you this is a Fox News grab, so maybe they found the worst one. Switch to CBS where it’s an Obama ad. Evil Mitt is getting on and off planes: he’ll voucherise Medicare, we can’t afford Mitt Romney.
The ad war is peaking now, and for the next two hours near every ad will be a political one. Back on Faux Views, they sure found the best clip for Romney. Mitt sounding as crisp as his goddam shirt, addressing a “storm relief rally”.
Now, Clint Eastwood is croaking it out: 23 million people can’t find work; Obama’s second term would be a rerun of the first and we can’t survive that. It’s a Crossroads ad, Karl Rove pumping ‘em out.
“Storm relief rally” my arse. He’s holding it in Kettering, Ohio, on account of all the actually affected states being solid Democratic holds. But he talks about prayers and thoughts, and he’s given out gathered supplies. Dammit he looks presidential, while the President looks like his employee, some hard-working bureaucrat pulling it together, under the charge of the white guy. How is this happening?
Biden is being interviewed on a tarmac now landing somewhere. He’s making the political point, effectively, talking about how the Federal Emergency Management Agency had been reconstructed.
Back on local news now, a local ad: O’Connor, Reedy and Bishoff — for smaller class sizes — running for state reps to school board from Franklin County. Who are these people? Local reps, school board folks? Looks like they were made for $9.
Back to Fox, Romney is being asked whether he’d abolish the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. He dodges the question six times. Two minutes then more ads: mellifluous voice, Senator Sherrod Brown’s support for Obama goes to 95%, Ohio’s economy goes down. Brown is an ex-hippie leftish senator in a tight race, a simple graphic ad, words being weighed on a balance, ominous voice, a Crossroads GPS ad.
Another ad: Josh Mandel, Senate candidate, Republican, prick. A series of stills of the grinning goon; Josh Mandel working for Ohio. He looks like the mama’s boy from Arrested Development. On they roll, to whom to what? Is anyone still listening?
“They hammer and hammer, like storm waves against Jersey.”
Should I be at a rally? The TV seems to be where it’s at, but am I just saying that so I can stay at the motel and not go out to some storm-tossed gathering somewhere? Mark “Dateline” Davis is out there, somewhere, barrelling towards a union rally in a rental. I see him now, hands welded to the wheel, camera clasped between his teeth, swerving suddenly left on a rumour that somewhere on a farm there are reports of a dog giving Paul Ryan speeches verbatim, impromptu and untrained.
Me switching around now, bored with news, more ads: Gloria Hoover for judge; shots of her judging; she’s a wife and a mother with the experience. Sharp change; sheriff Zach Scott scored thousands for his own benefit; someone-someone who’s not him for deputy sheriff.
The same aesthetic in them all, cheap overlays of profiles, quotes from the Fat Thighs of Ohio Protestant-Recorder. And then another Crossroads GPS ad. Worried mom: Mr President, what am I going to tell my kids why they’re paying this debt? They hammer and hammer, like storm waves against Jersey.
God’s speed, Davis. Me, I can barely get to the convenience store for a bottle of dilute vodka, and some legal ephedrine tablets. How great was it to find that in Ohio they sell spirits in the milk bars? How shit was it find that it is specifically diluted versions, coming in at under 21% ABV. What bullshit is that?
New ad, an Obama one at last. Clip of Romney: “I won’t let China take our jobs”, then “he made millions letting it happen, investing in companies shipping our jobs to China”. Thank God they’re hitting back.
But I mean, have you ever tasted diluted Canadian whiskey? The stuff is concentrated because it’s so unpleasant in the first place. I’m currently experimenting with vodka and chocolate milk, which seems to find a pleasing density and is easy on the stomach. Every morning I come in, the Indian, i.e. Asian-Indian, kid looks at me with disdain. Bitter irony that anywhere that sells liquor is run by people who don’t drink it. Could there be a causal link? Now a series of Romney ads, with an amputee veteran woman running with a pram. The future is getting worse under Obama; Americans for Jobs authorised this ad (who are they?); President Obama; another worried mom; your spending hasn’t done a thing for my family; another crossroads ads …
I blame Adderall, or the lack thereof — for both my state and the country’s. My scrip has run out, and I’m not renewing it, ‘cos I think it’s screwing with my kidneys. Adderall? It’s legal speed, a medication for ADD and ADHD which has become the drug of choice for cramming students, MMU marathon gamers, and those simply interested in life enhancement. There are campuses in America where 30% of the student body are afflicted with these cruel diseases, and 40% have other conditions requiring medical marijuana, those poor kids how they suffer.
New ad. Maureen really doesn’t get it; Heather Bishoff didn’t pay her taxes; learn the truth at bishogff.org; we can defeat breast cancer with proton beam therapy and Josh Mandel is fighting for it in Ohio. It all mashes together, no products are being advertised …
Adderall is a strange, highly targeted buzz, designed for cognitive enhancement, without the desire to clean the oven four times in a row. Ten minutes in, you feel a distinct mental brightness, though that may be a foreshadowing placebo effect, and then the ideas start to march. The world seems sparklier, like a champagne glass taken out of a dishwasher, winking at you and brrrrringing when struck, and you remember, you remember: Renaissance art history, Spanish verbs, the Banana Splits theme song, long division, the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiment, a conversation you had with a woman about the Golden Palominos in a kitchen in Northcote in 1994, your nephews’ birthdays, the soliloquy from Cymbeline, the coastline near Mallacoota, Borges stories you’ve ripped off, the thoughts speed up, like being in a car accident you know you’ll survive: the hands rise and fall on the keyboard, the thoughts bounce between them. Stories of puppies and sick kiddies. And ads and ads: Sharon Kennedy for Ohio Supreme Court; Bill O’neill for Supreme Court; the other guys has disturbing things about him….sheriff zach scott
Finally, a couple of classy ads for Obama.
Dude in factory: out of the blue one day we were told to build a 30-foot stage and we built that stage, and they came in and stood on it and told us the plant is now closed and we were all fired; Romney made $100 million; when we built that stage it was like building our own coffin; Priorities USA.
Another one. Workers from a factory closed down, old dude against chain link fence: he promised us the same thing he’s promising the United States and he’ll give you the same thing he gave us — nothing. Priorities USA.
Seen the same ad 30 times each, and switch to TBS basic cable for a Seinfeld repeat now, and ads for stuff: nature sweet and salty nut bars … oh God no, it’s King of Queens, the sitcom addict’s methadone. Fun fact something, I realised a while ago: wanna write your own later period Bruce Springsteen song? Here’s how: for the chorus, take a biblical/hortatory phrase, and repeat, and for the verse take the plot of a King of Queens episode as the spine. Put a three chord shuffle under it, and you’re Grammy-ready. So OK, chorus, let’s take, I dunno, crossing the river:
Crossing the River
I’m gonna cross that river
That’s what I’m gonna give her
I’m crossing that river
OK verse. In this ep for example, Kevin lies to his improbably hot wife that he’s enrolled in a management training program to improve his life, and that that is his dream. But that was a comic misprision. In fact, he has no desire to stop doing, errrr, whatever he does. In fact his ambition is to ride a very big roller-coaster, which he then baulks at her until she persuades him:
Ba ba bah bah bap bah bap ba ba bap
Bah ba ba ba bap cmon everybody-
Well I was born in Jersey
On that storm-battered shore
My baby’s she’s from Queens
And she wants something more
A girl wants lights and music
A girl wants pretty things
So I’ll ride that roller-coaster
I’ll play for that brass ring
I’m gonna get the most for
The queen of Queens and me
I’m gonna win this woman
Under that calliope
Crossing that river
I’m crossing that river
G Em C G6
Give her all I can give her
I’m crossing that river
OK it’s a little wobbly, but that was real time, and the river’s the Hudson, so it all hangs together. Better than The Risin anyway; yowl it out Bruce style and it works. Trust me — quasi-biblical phrase, plus King of Queens synopsis. Can’t go wrong. I love you Boss, but you’re a self-plagiarising jukebox now, like David Williamson on repeat shuffle. Verses, bridge and a coda invited in the comments. Remember, it has to be a KofQ synopsis.
The ads are now as if there was no election at all: Walmart insurance scheme; with low co-pays and in-store funds; five-hour energy when you gotta get stuff done. America runs on dunkin’? No it runs on legal meds, and in the morning, as the sun goes up you go for doughnuts and car insurance, until the Ambien kicks in. I’m crossing that river, we’re crossing that river …
And Davis in the wind somewhere, in the Buckeye state, on the trail of the story, some shivering hostage beside him.