The Idea of “Donald Trump”

I didn’t read this shit at the time.

Until late 2015, I did not think about Donald Trump for even a fleeting second. I knew who he was and could have recognized his face; it’s not that I didn’t have his media personality filed somewhere in my brain through the osmosis of the culture, clearly and completely against my own will. Until late 2015, I filed his whole being into the category of “vapid celebrity” that is too insignificant to hate, like, care about, attend to, note, consider, opine on, notice, or otherwise give a F-. If I could have found a way not to know who he was, I would have done it.

I now know that he had a reality TV show but while it was running, I never saw an ad for it or a single second of the show. I have since seen a couple of YouTube clips of the show, but I didn’t before he announced his presidency. The show sucked and so did he. I now know that he was on many magazine covers for many years but if I ever saw these covers at some point in the 1980s or 1990s, I can’t recall it. I know he was obsessive about collecting these magazines, but at the time, I never noticed any. No one had ever mentioned Donald Trump to me in conversation, no negative comments, no positive comments. Donald Trump never came up. No one.

I know now he ran a full-page ad calling for the execution of the wholly innocent, framed teens in the Central Park jogger case, but I did not see the ad at the time and was unaware that the case had anything to do with Donald Trump. His name was on buildings I walked past as I went around town, but I didn’t think about why or who or what that meant.

He was interviewed on Oprah. I didn’t see it. The Simpsons did a brilliant parody of him running for president. I missed it. His first or second wife and he got divorced and I saw it on the cover of a tabloid as I waited for the subway, but couldn’t have cared less. And there was a mean lady who owned hotels and David Dinkins played too much tennis in Puerto Rico. Also, lots of murders.

His name came up in rap song with someone saying he was “the Black Donald Trump” but I don’t know which song, who recorded it, and didn’t pay any attention to the lyric until I heard it again 25 years later in an “old school” mix — and I don’t even remember where I got the mix and I still don’t know who’s line it was.

When I did spend some mental energy considering Donald Trump in the context of the Republican presidential primary debates in 2015, I thought, “You could not invent a character more repulsive and compelling than this guy if you tried.” That was the first time I ever had a thought that involved Donald Trump and I have not needed to have a second thought about him since then.

Let me let you an anecdote: I was working in the publicity department of a book publisher in Manhattan. We were doing a book by Dr. Andrew Weil, Natural Health, Natural Medicine. Dr. Weil ate gyros on his publicity tour for Natural Health, Natural Medicine and sent in the invoice for $6.50. Dr. Weil is a lovely man, very kind to me when I was a mere assistant in the office. He is or was also bald but with a thick beard. I took his publicity photo and showed it to someone. “Watch,” I said, “I can turn Dr. Andrew Weil into Don King.” I turned the photo upside down.

This story has nothing to do with Donald Trump. Why? Because I didn’t even think about Donald Trump and some kind of media character with funny hair. His hair was not nearly as interesting as Don King’s hair and I didn’t even bother to make a stupid joke about his dumbass hair.

Now you see why I hate Barack Obama more than Donald Trump, right? Your enemy can’t betray you. First moment I bothered to have an idea about Trump, I was sure: this jackass is pure crappola. First moment I saw Obama, I thought: maybe this guy can really change things. Inspiring! Trump never played me. I have no memory of listening to one of his speeches and thinking it meant anything significant or being on cloud nine when he won an election. Obama, thinking that I once thought he might be someone, me being such a sucker, that hurts. It’s embarrassing to me to think I was that stupid. He stabbed me in the back. Like they say, love and hate are not opposites. The opposite of both love and hate is indifference. So many of them richly deserve to be lost in a fog of apathy but here they are, in your face.

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Will Pflaum

Will Pflaum

Projects: The Fade Out, Juba, Under Two Maples, Dog Stories, MOGE, Bugs, Pound Flesh, Funky Record, Mutherplucker, Phlogiston, sunshineonthehudson