No.

With the inauguration making it official, and “real,” I had to write something.

Right now we are in the midst of the strangest, most ridiculous moments in United States history that I’ve experienced in my lifetime—and, some say, maybe ever. I don’t know about “ever” but it certainly feels unprecedented. Perhaps people living through the Harding administration of the 1920s, or Nixon in the early ’70s, or hell even Prohibition experienced this same feeling of unreality, unease, and vaguely impending doom that we (the sane ones, anyway) are experiencing now. I don’t know.

What I do know is, somehow we now have a “president” that I don’t believe can or should be considered legitimate. He’s a serial liar, a failed businessman, a misogynist, not terribly intelligent, (probably) a sexual predator, a racist, an Islamophobe, and generally a fascist, with the thin skin of a temperamental four year old desperately craving attention and lashing out when spurned. On top of all of that, he is very likely compromised by a foreign agency.

He has refused to divest himself of his business interests, particularly as they relate to other countries, which raises numerous conflicts of interest and violates the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. He has not nor never will release his tax returns.

He lost the popular vote by the largest margin in history, three million votes, and only squeaked into the office by the loophole provided by the electoral voting system. He now takes the oath of that office as the most unpopular incoming president in history. And now day one has been marked with a flagrant lie about the size of the inauguration crowds, quivering in the shadow cast by the Women’s March, exposing the “president’s” shambling insecurity.

His cabinet is full of crony millionaires and billionaires, racists, extremists, and neo-Nazis with little to no real world knowledge of the jobs they have been selected for, or an active interest in tearing them down. He himself has no grasp of the magnitude of the role nor the knowledge and skills necessary to be the president, and his blundering ignorance and corruption will likely get many people killed.

There is nothing legitimate about this presidency, the campaign of which was run on a platform of racism and lies. The interference from Russia in the process alone should have been enough to overturn the entire election, and the strong possibility of Trump being compromised and under the influence of Russia and Putin should have disqualified him completely and brought him under intense investigation. If there were enough Republicans left with any kind of a spine who weren’t desperate sycophants for power, that might have been the outcome.

Which is why this is so surreal. It was surreal when he announced he would run, but I have to admit I enjoyed watching the Republican party tear itself apart in paroxysms of hypocrisy and degradation as he stood among them, and won. But who would have thought he would actually advance all the way to the general election and have a chance at winning? Well, the racists and the Nazis, I guess.

But had anyone tried to pitch this entire election and outcome as a fictional plot—for a movie or a book or a TV series—it would have been instantly rejected as too implausible, too outlandish, too ridiculous to be believable. But wait! There’s a twist! There are many twists! There’s an endorsement by the KKK! The Nazis are back! The main character is stupid enough to admit to sexual assault while wearing his own wire! Wait, wait, you’re gonna love this one—it’s the Russians and they’ve successfully planted their agent in the White House with the help of hackers and—what? Too contrived?

Except apparently it’s not, and it’s happening now. If you voted for Trump, then you’re complicit in all of this. If you didn’t vote at all, you’re complicit in all of this.

There is no “making America great again” under Trump because he is completely out of touch with the America he is supposed to lead. His “great America” is one where the rich get huge tax cuts while the poor shoulder their burden and die for lack of healthcare. One where the rights of women and minorities are rolled back so that affluent white men won’t feel threatened. This fantasy by the way, one apparently shared largely by the Republican party, is the desperate fever dream of a scared minority of aging rich white men seemingly unable to grasp that the world is moving on without them.

(Alternatively, the desperate fever dream of insular, under-educated whites scared to death of diversity and obsolescence.)

I mean, listen to the rhetoric—“We’re taking America back!” Back from what? From whom? From progress? Prosperity? Oh I know—not back from, but back to… to the dark ages. Anyone who seriously thinks that things were better 50 years ago should immediately lose their computer, their phone, access to the internet, their medicine, their big screen TV and video games and everything else they take for granted that didn’t exist 50 years ago.

And really, I’m worried that Trump will say something crazy on Twitter (again) that will have catastrophic results—or worse, his account will be hacked (again) and someone else will do that. I’m worried about the lack of concern and outright lies about a massive security breach and intrusion by Russia. I’m worried that the country as we know it—this entire grand American experiment—may well be at an end. It’s certainly not the same as it was even a year ago.

So no, I can’t look upon this new administration with any sense of legitimacy. No, I will not look past the flagrant lies. No, I will not accept nor respect the authority of the office that respects neither the people nor the office itself. No, I will not accept the hypocrisy of people who for eight years degraded and disrespected President Obama and now demand respect and civility for their spray-tanned elderly reality TV star.

I recognize the divide in this country, it’s very real, and divisive. But it was also heavily exploited during this election with lies and manufactured hysteria, and now the bill is coming due.

No, I don’t want to be that America. We can do better.

My Douglas Adams year

A few weeks ago I turned 42, which prompted my friend Paul to declare I was entering my “Douglas Adams year.” (Though somewhat worryingly, one of his other analogy-years was 33, because that’s how old John Belushi and Chris Farley were when they died… Douglas Adams died at age 49. Hmmmmm.)

Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon2014 was an eventful year, primarily because I wrote a book! The contract was signed around December of 2013, and I began researching and interviews in earnest in January, with a deadline of mid-July. Meaning, I had about seven months in which to complete it—pretty quick, by publishing (and writing!) standards. Following the submission of the manuscript were rounds of edits and proofing, with a publish date of October 21—at which point the rest of the year was a whirlwind of signings and publicity, including the Big Time—a talk and signing at Powell’s Books in Portland!

So now I am the authority on Bend beer and its history, for better or for worse. But that’s okay, because now I have a published first book under my belt, from a real publisher, which opens doors to a second, and third, and more books. For which I already have ideas.

But 2015 is (mostly, since the majority of the year I am 42) my Douglas Adams year, which means I need to be well on my way to figuring out the question to the question of life, the universe, and everything. Or at least inventing a computer to do so. Hopefully that means 2015 will be eventful too!

(So far, so good—mostly with events stemming out from the beer writing, which is a good thing!)

Shakespeare turned 450 years old today

William ShakespeareI don’t quite know how I’d missed this until the latter half of the day—I’m actually surprised Google didn’t do a doodle on this today—but William Shakespeare was born 450 years ago today (April 23).

(Okay, to be fair, nobody actually knows for sure that Shakespeare was born on April 23; however he was baptized on April 26, 1564 so the 23rd is as good a guess as any. It also holds an appealing parallel to the date of his death: April 23, 1616.)

But 450! That’s a milestone. Only 50 years until the big 5-0-0. It’s pretty amazing to think of the influence on the English language for so long—and no end in sight—that Shakespeare had. And I’ve said it before, but if you’ve never seen Shakespeare performed live—at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland would be my top recommendation—then you really should; it’s eye-opening and will change whatever opinions you might have about his works.