Decades ago, the Republican Party had two enemies: high taxes and government regulations. But two enemies were not enough. Today, the Republican Party has more enemies than anyone in the history of enemies. This is an incomplete list:

  1. Socialists.
  2. Communists.
  3. Liberals.
  4. Democrats.
  5. Satan-worshiping child molesters.
  6. 1 through 5 are all the same.
  7. The Chinese, but not those nice Russians.
  8. Science.
  9. Common sense.
  10. Community.
  11. Public health.
  12. Obamacare.
  13. But not the coronavirus, since that doesn’t exist.
  14. George Soros, Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton, Anthony Fauci, and Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013. Or did he?
  15. Sportsmanship. This is the first thing I teach my chess kids, even the 5-year-olds.
  16. Elections.
  17. Democracy.
  18. The will of the people.
  19. Anything that’s not white.
  20. Except coal.
  21. Other Republicans.

But on Tuesday, January 6, just as the Republicans in the House and Senate were extending their war on elections, democracy, and the will of the people, thousands of Republicans who had been driven insane by the cost of their Trump-branded formal wear went to war against the United States.

How I wish my mother were alive to see this.

I know what you’re thinking: bullshit. How can this be the greatest day in the history of the Republican Party? What about freeing the slaves?

The day that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation was a pretty good day. But in the end, it took five years and hundreds of thousands of lives to free the slaves. The Republican war on the United States was compressed into one day, plus they proudly carried the Confederate battle flag into the halls of Congress. Before January 6, the closest the Confederate battle flag had ever come to the halls of Congress was the Shenandoah Valley in the summer of 1864. In your face, Confederate General Jubal Early! Loser.

This is the high-water mark of Donald Trump’s achievements: Resurrecting the corpse of the Confederacy.

Mom would’ve been glued to the television.

My mother loved to follow current events. Judaism was her religion, but politics was a close second. (The Red Sox were third.) Even in the early stages of her dementia, she could still explain the ins and outs of Massachusetts politics to me. Any upheaval in the political world riveted her. When John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Mom was at home caring for three children, one of them a baby, but she had the TV in the living room and the radio in the kitchen tuned to the major networks, what few networks there were then, all day long. (All TV stations and some radio stations went off the air around midnight.)

Kennedy was killed on a Thursday. At one point on Saturday morning, Mom, who finally had to devote some time to the household, plunked me down in front of the TV. “Tell me if anything happens,” she said. She ran to the kitchen to wash the dishes. I was 8. I was bored because my Saturday-morning cartoons and Westerns were off the air. I was sitting there in my dungarees and Red Ball Jets when Jack Ruby bolted out of the lower-right frame of the screen, arm outstretched, gun in hand, and shot Lee Harvey Oswald. The men swarming on TV, a photographer’s light swinging above them, needed help. Where was the Lone Ranger? Where was the Rifleman? “Mom!” I yelled.

Mom was there for almost every minute of the Watergate hearings in 1974. Because she had gone back to work by the time the Iran-Contra hearings were gaveled to order in 1987, she tag-teamed with her mother, Bella, to follow along. “I’ve been watching the liars,” Bella told me. And of course Mom was there in 1998-99 when Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a sex act my father wouldn’t tell her the name of. “Well, what does he have a wife for?” Mom asked.

What launched Mom’s career as a political junkie? I wish I had asked her that. Was it listening to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s fireside chats during the Depression and World War II? The Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954? The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962?

Political talk radio was just part of every evening at our house after dinner. Unless the Red Sox were playing.

Mom’s political upbringing was a bit muddled. Her father, my Grandpa Sol, was a self-described socialist who voted against FDR four times. Bella and Sol voted for Nixon in 1968 and 1972. I don’t remember how they reacted when Nixon’s Oval Office tapes were made public and they found out what Nixon really thought of the Jews, but by 1976 Bella was a Democrat. In that year, after hearing that I might vote for a socialist in my first presidential election, she told me, “Stevie, you don’t understand! Communists have been killing Jews for thousands of years!”

I don’t know what the Republicans are planning for their next move in their war on the USA, though every costume-maker in America is hoping it will involve more Viking horns. Sadly, Mom won’t be around to bear witness. I lost my Dad to begin 2020 and I lost my Mom to end 2020. In-between we had a pandemic, an economic meltdown, street fights for racial justice, an avalanche of conspiracy theories, and enough politics to satisfy any addict.

January 20 and the inauguration of Joe Biden are almost here. Please, everyone, in honor of Mom, stay safe.

This is my new, not-favorite holiday: the first yahrzeit, or anniversary, of my father’s death. In the Jewish tradition, you light a 24-hour candle the evening before the day. The day is determined not by our Gregorian calendar but by the Jewish calendar, which rises and sets with the moon.

A lunar calendar means 28- and 29-day months. This is why Jewish holidays never stay put. Philip Roth, writing about his childhood, said that the adults always talked about Passover being early or late but no one ever said it was on time. Wilfrid Sheed in My Life as a Fan wrote that the Jewish holidays roamed the calendar like shortstops.

On the yahrzeit of your parent, there are prayers to say and visits to make – to the synagogue. I might have appreciated the latter, standing in solidarity with the other mourners, though of course there are no visits to the synagogue just now.

I remember my parents and grandparents lighting the yahrzeit candles for their parents. This practice seemed disconnected from me when I was young. It was something the Old People did, along with moving slowly, not understanding anything I wanted to do, and talking about their vanished world.

[The play] succeeded because it made people laugh and cry and remember the past, all at the same time. And even though one always heard how bitter everything was in the past, the old people were still crazy to relive it. (Emanuel Litvinoff, from his short story “Fanya”)

I felt so disconnected from this ritual and for so long that it only occurred to me while writing this that when my grandparents lit candles for their parents, they were keeping alive the memories of people who had been born in the 1870s.

So now I’ve lit my first candle and said some prayers. Though I recognized years ago that this train was heading my way, it was still a shock when it stopped to pick me up. Also, I’m not sure that lighting a candle and reciting some prayers hold the right meaning for me and my relationship with my father.

Next year, we’ll light a candle and then watch one of Dad’s favorite movies: Stagecoach, The Big Country, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Patton, Sink the Bismarck!, Sink the Hindenburg!, The Enemy Below, The Enemy Above, The Big World War II Movie, The Way Bigger World War II Movie, and The World War II Movie Where We Win Again But You Kids Will Never Understand. Dad also liked Get Smart!, All in the Family, Westerns, the Red Sox, shows about animals or ancient Egypt, and everything that delighted his children. Some of these entertainments might be a tough sell for certain people I live with.

Looking back over this blog, I may have been at my best when I was memorializing family, friends, dogs, musicians, and other writers. I hate to think that I’m turning into A.E. Housman, but you have to go where the writing takes you, and apparently this is where it’s taking me. I even managed to work Run-DMIrving into my music column.

I’ll change the mood in our next exciting post. Brace yourself for 10 Things I Hate About Dogs!

You can live in a box from Costco and chew it up.

Hello, everyone, and I hope you’re enjoying your extended stay in your own home. If you have a home. In addition to all the homeless people in what is supposed to be the most affluent patch of ground on the planet, there are all the people in Washington, Oregon, and California who are suddenly homeless because of forest fires that have been whipped up by global warming.

Our backyard, the middle of the day, the middle of September. We only had to breathe the air from the fires. At least we didn’t have to run from them.

Enough complaining. I really do care about all of you. I want you to be well and happy and thinking about me me me because I’m now writing for Copper magazine, which is published bi-weekly by PS Audio. My first story is in issue 120. The best part: They’re paying me!

It’s not clear to me what will happen to this blog now that I can write about music for money, which has not happened since the 1990s. Today I restarted my writing blog, and in fact I wrote about writers and money, two concepts that rarely intersect. But Run-DMSteve? I’m not sure. Well, I am sort of sure. I will always provide substantive, objective reporting on dogs.

Don’t make me come up there.

Tango, who is 4 months old today, just learned how to turn her water bowl upside down and race around the yard with it in her mouth.

Tango: Look what I did! I make things happen!
Lucky: How are we supposed to drink water now that you’ve spilled it all?
Tango: I make things happen!

Now that’s investigative journalism.

Something will continue to happen in this space, and I thank you, my loyal readers, including the three people who made it this far because you were hoping for another puppy picture or one of my inane contests. Keep hold of your sanity, everyone, as we count down the agonizing final days until this stupid election arrives. In fact, hold everything you’ve got. Talk to you soon.

Random Pick of the Day
The Kingbees, The Kingbees (1980)

In my series on Forgotten Bands, I forgot several deserving bands, but the number one forgotten band I wish I hadn’t forgotten was The Kingbees. They were part of the rockabilly revival that began in the late 1960s with Sha Na Na and ended in the mid-’80s with The Stray Cats – two bands that knew how to take ’50s rock ’n’ roll and glaze it with sugar.

In-between there was Robert Gordon, who was an expert interpreter of the rockabilly era, and The Kingbees, who wrote music inspired by rockabilly, not watered-down (Sha Na Na) or pimped-up (The Stray Cats ). The Kingbees are at their best on their self-titled debut, particularly “My Mistake,” “Shake Bop,” and “No Respect,” all of which were played on the alt-music stations of their day but probably nowhere else.

Sha Na Na and The Stray Cats had the clothes and the haircuts, and Robert Gordon had Link Wray on guitar, but the forgotten Kingbees had the best music.

Random Pan of the Day
Dua Lipa, Future Nostalgia (2020)

You might enjoy this album of dance-pop hits by the English dance-pop goddess Dua Lipa, but if you’ve already heard Madonna, Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, P!nk, Kesha, Robyn, etc. etc. etc., then Lipa is not going to surprise you. Her best song is “Don’t Start Now.” I added that to my library, which surprised me.

I just realized that Madonna is now Classic Rock.

Antifa, assemble! Comrade Joe Biden, chairman of the Supreme Anarchist Council, has ordered us to attack and destroy the suburbs. The suburbs are the source of his power, so this order doesn’t make sense, but what do we know? We’re anarchists! The Sex Pistols sang “Anarchy in the U.K.,” not “Squared Away in the U.K.”

I’m coming for you, white suburban housewives! I’m going to stuff your mailbox with all the AOL discs my Dad saved from the ’90s. I’m going to dump dead leaves in your aboveground pool. I’m going to replace your IKEA living-room furniture with bean bags. We’re going to have so much consensual sex (while wearing our N95 respirator masks) that you won’t have a free moment to curl and set your hair, mend your stockings, make all your kids’ clothes, get that apple pie into the oven, or pick up your husband at the train station after he arrives from his job in the city, which, by the way, no longer exists because we’ve already burned the cities.

I won’t be alone, either. In the first round of the 2020 amateur draft, Antifa Disunited selects: Tango!

Tango takes out the second baseman and breaks up the double play.

Will she chew everything you’ve got? Only if it moves…or stands still! Will she deposit toxic by-products on your lawn? Why should she limit herself to your lawn? That’s right, you’d better wear a mask!

Does she know fear? How about hell no?!

Tango eviscerates a local moose.

Tango knows when to throw down!

In an hour she’ll resume with a bang and a boom.

Tango is being trained by Antifa’s Chief Tactical Officer, Generalissimo Lucky:

Crouching tiger, yawning dragon.

Lucky is drilling Tango in how to infiltrate your white suburban housewife house!

Tango is here to do whatever she can, be it early morning/late afternoon/or at midnight/it’s never too soon!

Tango hears Comrade Biden’s call.

Rig for collision! America wants its suburbs destroyed? America gets its suburbs destroyed. It’s time for us to go do/that voodoo/that we do/so well!

I hope everyone reading this is safe, healthy, and strong. In Yiddish, that’s zayt (safe), gezunt (healthy), and shtark (strong). You know gezunt from “Gezuntheit!” You may also know shtark from Starker, the KAOS flunkie in Get Smart! A shtarker is the guy who moves your furniture, not the guy who tutors you in math. My Dad always said, whenever I tried to lift anything heavier than a stack of New Yorkers, “Stevie! You’re not a shtarker!”

A shtarker would not have read the profile of the English novelist Anna Kavan that I recently plowed through. In 1967, Kavan published a book called Ice, which is beloved by Patti Smith, J.G. Ballard, Doris Lessing, Christopher Priest, Jonatham Lethem, and Brian Aldiss (who called Kavan “Kafka’s sister”). That is a literary lineup that can hurt you in a lot of ways.

“Kavan’s fiction features icy heroines, dystopian quests, and gothic flourishes,” the profile’s author, Leo Robson, writes. The last word of this piece is “doomed.” “Yeah!” I said to myself, mentally pumping my fist. There’s no telling how this global crisis is going to end. It’s definitely time to read something that’s icy, dystopian, gothic, and doomed.

I didn’t.

I’m fortunate that I still have a job. I work from my basement. Because I am of a certain age, and rapidly aging, I wrote to a friend to say that I wanted to retire from an office, not from a basement. He wrote back and said I should retire from the basement: “You know you were going to end up there anyway.”

I’ve started running. I’m still writing. I’m rebuilding my house [citation needed]. The inside doorknob pulled out of the front door like I was in a horror movie. The lockset was only installed in 1942. It’s already broken? Fortunately, the good men at Atlasta Lock & Safe told me I could bring in the knob and its attached spindle and they’d tell me how to fix it. I was masked, they were masked. They told me how to fix it. I fixed it. Now I love 1940s technology. Doorknobs, doorbells, steam irons with buttons. The battleship Iowa.

Our garden (and pizza) is helping everyone get by here at Run-DMSteve World HQ. My wife has a project. Our dog has a project. I have a project: shade composting. The one spot in the yard where I could create a compost pile never gets any sun, but through sophisticated methods I cannot reveal and against the advice of Anthony Fauci I have transformed an enormous quantity of dead dirt into loamy dark soil, well-aerated and suffused with yummy worms. The shade-composting season is short (by the end of May, my compost will have the consistency of concrete) but intense.

I’ll share my success in the manuscript I’m preparing: Shade Composting: The Secret Process That Spells Doom for Your Spin Bin. This is the sequel to my first gardening book, The Daylily Solution: Stick ’Em in the Ground, You’re Done.

We’re all watching more screens for more hours than ever before, so let’s look at something we watched here at the Bureau while sitting 6’ apart.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
This retelling of The Taming of the Shrew has a serious moral flaw at its center, and it’s not Shakespeare’s ideas on how to manage women. The film is set in Seattle (it’s filmed mostly in Tacoma), but it doesn’t include a single band from Seattle. The soundtrack is an undifferentiated mass of bands from such Pacific Northwesty places as California, Florida, Minnesota, Sweden, and the U.K. Even the band that performs live in the film, Letters to Cleo, is from Boston; they play covers by not-Seattle artists Cheap Trick and Nick Lowe.

There’s a scene in a lesbian club where someone mentions Bikini Kill. That’s the lone Northwest music reference in this film from the Seattle music renaissance. (Cultural note: In 1999, all lesbians wore spaghetti-strap black tops and weighed 90 pounds.)

None of this crap is memorable, except for the George Clinton classic “Atomic Dog,” and he ain’t from Seattle, either. The 10 Things I Hate About You soundtrack is the opposite of the Singles soundtrack: both movies take place in Seattle, but only Singles sounds like it.

Oh right, the movie: Though the script manages to be both underwritten and a mess, 10 Things I Hate About You is sufficient to keep you occupied during a pandemic. It stars the teenaged Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. We also get the annoying David Krumholtz (fans of Firefly will recognize him as Mr. Universe), Joe Isuzu as the clueless gym teacher, Daryl Mitchell (Tommy Webber of Galaxy Quest) as the angry English teacher who can rap in Shakespeare, and Allison Janney as the porn-writing guidance counselor.

I enjoyed this film, but I would’ve enjoyed it much more if it had been about the English teacher and the guidance counselor and the music was by nerds in flannel shirts and maybe Sir Mix-a-Lot. (But not Kenny G.) As we said in Seattle in 1999, let’s call for pizza.