Judy Hopps 2016

March 14, 2016

79 years after its first animated classic, Disney revealed its most powerful character of all-time to be a minute rabbit.

Zootopia could have easily been purely a children’s movie, akin to its post-Disney Renaissance predecessors The Wild, Bolt, and Home on the Range, among others that featured anthropomorphic animals. Instead, it wisely predicted the dangerous rise of Donald Trump and his all-but-genocidal ideology.

Trump officially declared his presidency on June 16, 2015. Three months before, John Lasseter and the rest of the creative team for Zootopia rewrote its plot to be the most socially aware cartoon this side of South Park and other crude-but-poignant satires that I’ve watched—certainly the most on-point since Pixar’s WALL-E. The rewrite was prophetic, addressing the very issues that our nation must face as long as Trump remains a threat to succeed Obama.

For those who haven’t seen the film, you absolutely should. I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers, but Zootopia necessarily addresses the incongruities and dangers of the current landscape of American politics, tackling issues such as the forced imprisoning of a “dangerous” minority, the rise of power in order to oppress out-groups, and the implementation of fear in order disenfranchise anyone who threatens one’s personal power gains. A small-town rabbit heads to the big city to fulfill her dream of becoming a cop. But upon arriving in Zootopia, Judy Hopps learns the complexity of intergroup relations and the constant threat of oppression and disenfranchisement, constantly harassed for her size and background, accidentally throwing the 10% population of Predators under the bus as likely dangerous criminals, and addressing her own implicit biases. It all calls upon America’s current issues.

Trump promises to make America different, not great. He promises to rule with as much tyranny as possible, to mute the media à la his friend Vladimir Putin, to ban refugees and well-intentioned immigrants in order to “purify” a nation that spans ocean to ocean upon land that generations ago was wrested from its actual native inhabitants. He encourages his supporters to harass anyone with a logical and dissenting opinion. These are the same supporters who told my brother on Friday, “All Muslims are pedophiles.” The same supporters who told a Kirkwood, MO, native of Arab descent that he should go back to Arabia because he’s ruining this country. The same supporters who chant for Mexicans to build a wall on the border. Trump is the greatest domestic threat that American millenials have ever seen.

Toward the end of Zootopia, an unsuspecting villain claims, “Fear always works. And I’ll dart every predator in Zootopia to keep it that way.” Trump’s philosophy is no different. Incite fear, destroy the opponent. Then lie. And lie. And lie some more. And then beat the shit out of dissenters. Make them fear him more than he fears them. Because he fears them a fucking shit ton.

Trump thrives on fear. But the scariest thing of all is that his strategy might work. It’s time to take a lesson from Disney and rise above such hateful actions.

The Jolt

February 29, 2016

More a jolt than a chill, it always starts in my chest and neck. As it works its way to my head and limbs, my skin tightens and my hairs seem to point up, directing me toward something greater. Something creative. Transcendent. Rarely, it reaches my fingertips or toes. But when it does, I’ve reached that elusive state of flow that I’ve learned about in psychology classes. It convinces me that I shouldn’t be a psychology major anyway, that I should’ve been an English major all along. But it also inspires me to pursue a creative outlet anyway. To find a way to write. So I can keep chasing this feeling and keep creating.

***

Creativity hits me in waves. Most of the day, the seas of my mind are relatively calm, capping early and not all that often. I notice small details, like the way my mouth carries a stale sour taste some mornings, or how the face of my class ring settles itself at the two o’clock position instead of noon. These gentle crashes at the shore keep me level and at peace, keeping me in cruise control rather than stalled in traffic. Bad days come when my mind’s sea is completely still; swirling storms summon the best days. Little creativity comes in the nothingness, while I can’t stop wandering my mind when waves crash over and over on a body desperately clinging to that perfect flotsam carrying full ideas ashore.

There’s a paradox in this analogy: I hate rain. Clouds and a drizzle with punishing winds cooperate to make my mind lull, while clear skies stir up the lightning in my brain. My creativity also is not entirely dependent on the weather; it’s just that certain patterns prelude a range of creative thoughts. At times, I need creativity that I can’t conjure. On the opposite end, I also have so many scraps of paper, notes on my phone, and documents on my laptop with ideas that came one time in a flurry and I haven’t had a chance to revisit. It varies. It comes in waves.

During those slow moments, I’ve focused recently on finding a way to jolt myself into creative mode, gray or blue skies. It took a while to nail down exactly where I find this jolt, a rush of energy that inspires me. But lately I’ve noticed that what so many call chills, I find electrifying. Yes, I’m frozen for a moment by the intense emotions that people talk about whenever a piece of art or love or whatever else strikes a deep chord, but that paralysis always leads to deeper inspiration. Whether the ice takes half a second or four hours to crack, that feeling connects my mind to the world around me, wiring a creative source to its outlet.

Usually, other sources of creativity spark me. I’m thinking particularly of the rising tension and breakaway chronicled in “Defying Gravity,” the simple and enchanting beat of the Chainsmokers’s “Roses,” a string of words from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, the performance O.A.R. puts on at its concerts.

But it goes beyond those moments, too. Any Cardinals game, particularly the first one in April or any in October, charges this jolt for a full three hours. Awe-inspiring architecture like that of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia has the same effect. And, obviously, so does nature: the heights of County Clare’s Cliffs of Moher, the landscape and pastel buildings spotting Italy’s Cinque Terre National Park, St. Louis’s own Art Hill on an 80 degree Saturday in the middle of February. The jolt begs to be found, like the Golden Snitch. It just makes you search in places you’d otherwise never find in order to get there, places either too obvious to stop by or too distant to reach. But it knows you’ll find it anyway.

***

It’s sunny on this leap day, and that alone is enough to inspire me today. But most days in February offer more gray than blue. But those chilling days don’t exclude the reality of music, sports, literature, nature, or anything else with its own story from the jolt existing elsewhere. There’s more than we let ourselves see, and seeking out that Golden Snitch leads to the most amazing jolt of inspiration.

***

“He considered it a trick of his whimsical fate to have searched for the sea without finding it, at the cost of countless sacrifices and suffering, and to have found it all of a sudden without looking for it, as if it lay across his path like an insurmountable object.”

– One Hundred Years of Solitude, page 12 by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“Sunday Candy” by Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment

Horseshoes and Shamrocks

February 21, 2016

 

Some superstitious folk speak of carrying horseshoes around for luck. They also speak either fondly or spitefully, depending on their heritage, of the luck of the Irish. I’m one of these superstitious folk—it’s a stipulation for loving baseball as deeply as I do. And though I’ve never owned a horseshoe, my blood is Irish.

Most people who will read this post know that I spent last January through May studying and living in Ireland. The time I spent there transformed me in ways I’ve written about before—ways that terrified me about my future and made me cripplingly vulnerable.

I’ve never needed anything as much as I needed that fear and vulnerability.

***

I remember telling Mrs. Albertson in third grade that I would be both a Cardinals player and a writer. I had no doubts; nine-year-olds never do, nor should they. My two loves were baseball and books, and it didn’t make sense to do anything else with my life. So for the next three or four years, I assumed that plan would be my reality. And then puberty and peer pressure happened.

In seventh and eighth grade, I stopped reading so much. Few of my friends liked to read, and I felt uncomfortable admitting my love of books. I looked like an ostrich in those years—puberty and buzzcuts are a cruel combination—so of course I felt that I must prove something to my new classmates. Being a nerd who buried his oversized nose in books? Not a chance. Thus started my unconscious need to conform and please.

It grew more pronounced when I got to high school, although I wouldn’t understand as much until I made my way back to my natural course some time in the past two months. In American high schools and colleges, the science, technology, engineering, and math fields—STEM—dominate. Teachers push the brightest students toward the pursuits of medicine, research, engineering, and the like. Scholarships are given based on which students demonstrate the most potential to make a difference in the STEM fields. Decisions are made based on which college offers the best STEM opportunities.

STEM fields are great and necessary. But they’re not the only way to make a difference in this world. For six and a half years, I thought they were.

Last night, I sat with Mr. Steve Missey, my former English teacher and Prep News moderator at SLUH, at the SLU-Fordham basketball game. Conversation spanned school and plans and sports, and as good conversation so often does, it sparked an epiphany. As SLUH continues emphasizing STEM opportunities, I voiced to Mr. Missey that I believe that acronym, STEM, was the heart of my uncertainties over my life, uncertainties that I only cleared a few weeks ago. I felt this need to pursue a STEM career if I were to impact others. But Ireland, certain friends, and a reminder from several books of the power that words carry all combined to help me shed that STEM expectation. I went off track years ago. Somehow I needed to recourse. These factors made me do it.

Until my experience abroad stripped me of all the comfort I’ve known, I had no chance at recognizing my own dispassion for anything STEM-related. I sat through essentially two and a half years, on and off, of science classes I hated. I saw passion in the room, but I never recognized it because I’d forgotten what real passion looked like, having not experienced it for years. I didn’t experience my own passion until my creative writing class this semester. Even in Ireland, disinterest bound me. But the vulnerability that living in the land of luck forced me to feel set me up to be remolded—not by social expectations, but my own dreams.

***

Not so long ago, I dreaded graduating. I thought I’d be at a job I would hate, living for the weekends I’d end up being disappointed by. But here I am, a year and a half away, and though I’m far from ready to leave my home at SLU, the prospect excites me far more than it frightens me. I used to think life would cease to be new and rewarding when I left this place. But then I realized that that’s when life begins, as long as you let it. And letting it do so involves risking it all to chase what you love. Not to settle for the expectations around you.

Finally embracing my passion feels like I’ve found the feeling that the late Marina Keegan wrote about upon graduating from Yale (http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2012/05/27/keegan-the-opposite-of-loneliness/). She calls the feeling “the opposite of loneliness.” STEM was lonely for me. Writing feels like the exact opposite.

I took a horseshoe-shaped track to end up back where I was for most of my life before high school. Ireland and the months since forced me to branch away from the STEM fields that for the past half-decade or so have been the root of my uncertainties and anxieties.

I carry no horseshoe, but Ireland has stuck.

***

“The wire was about pain too: it would always be there, jutting into his feet, the weight of the bar, the dryness at his throat, the throb of his arms, but the joy was losing the pain so that it no longer mattered.”

– Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, page 241

Begin Again – Noosa

You’re Probably Not An Insomniac

February 9, 2016

 

Can’t sleep. No idea how to diagnose insomnia but I do know my average bedtime is 3 am and my roommates are always asleep when I get home. Here’s a chronicle of a not-uncommon night.

1:51 am: Snapchat some of your Best Friends and Recents. Roll the dice on the Needs Love category. Label the uneventful picture of yourself “When your bedtime is over an hour away” and tag the digital clock filter.

 1:55 am: Shuffling through the Defying Gravity playlist, you’re exactly halfway through “For Good”—2 minutes and 33 seconds, that is. You swipe three fingertips across your MacBook trackpad to switch from this Word document to you six open tabs on Safari. You search “how do you get insomnia” because you’ve been changed for good because you know college, much the same way Glinda and Elphaba have been changed for the better.

1:59 am: You still haven’t clicked a link yet, but “Popular” just came on. Hah. Funny how true popularity—the kind where people are attracted to you more than you’re attracted to drawing their attention—comes when you stop begging the world to notice you. Like you said, college changed you for good. Thank God. You wonder when you became an insomniac.

2:01 am: Are you even an insomniac? What is insomnia even? Is it that second wind you get from 11 pm to 3:06 am every night after struggling to stay awake during that afternoon block the Spaniards so wisely reserve for their siesta? Pull your shit together, America. Develop insomnia. If that’s what insomnia is, that is. Whatever, be like Spain.

2:04 am: Sleepfoundation.org. Sounds legit. It was Google’s first hit, so you clicked it and then scrolled to the middle of the article. Did you even read it? Something to do with unhealthy sleep patterns. That could be you. Remember when Mom finally found out about your sleeping habits last Fall? Thanksgiving, maybe. It’s not that you hid them from her. She just didn’t know. It’s like how you never realize that teachers go out some Thursday nights when you’re in high school and their hangover makes them hate Friday morning classes more than you do. Then go to college and you see your recently graduated friend-teachers at Grizz or Big Daddy’s or Hump’s or the party that Burns keeps trying to break up. You just learn things. College changes you for good. But yeah, your mom. Your shitty sleep schedules. She nagged you for three days about your baggy eyes and propensity for colds. Then she sent you that email with a subject line that read “Study shows one in three American adults don’t get enough sleep” and linked an article with an accompanying, “Now that you’re an adult…” You love her. But you’re okay. You swear. Okay, you don’t sleep and don’t know enough about this insomnia business, but you’re okay. Your mom can stop worrying. Start dancing through life a little more, you think. Mainly because that song just ended. Not because you think your mom should be more spontaneous. But she might have more fun that way. JESUS, GET BACK TO THAT DAMN INSOMNIA WEBSITE AND FIGURE THIS SHIT OUT.

2:14 am: You finally check your phone for the first time since that Snap. Madrid friends are waking up and replying. You’re more awake than they are, probably.

2:17 am: You have to pee. When you’re back, read that damn article.

2:21 am: You read a little bit of that article. But you also saved this document because your laptop has been a bipolar bitch lately and refused to stop spinning that rainbow pinwheel until you force it to restart. When you saved it you saw that you hadn’t saved anything in your “Journal” folder since January 15. Matt Holliday’s birthday. You didn’t write about his birthday, but you probably owe him that, owning his jersey and all. Oh well. You’ve just been low on time and writing on your own has been a challenge. Your classes demand tons of material, and you’re in love with your Creative Writing class that has you writing at least twice a week. Plus your Psychology of Oppression class has led to roughly 20 pages of reflections the past two days alone. But hey, you made it before going a full month without a journal entry.

2:26 am: Are you ever gonna stop procrastinating and actually research insomnia a bit? You aren’t even procrastinating for a class. No professors are asking about insomnia. You’re just up and your brain won’t shut off so here you are on the green couch in the Palace—people must think you’re a douche for referring to your apartment as that name—that Doug slept on four nights a week before he ditched SLU for Hong Kong. But look! Apparently “researchers have begun to think about insomnia as a problem of your brain being unable to stop being awake.” Sounds about right. Your brain doesn’t shut off. It never has. Not even when you were 10 years old and reading about Harry Potter’s failure to shut down his mind during Occlumency. You could never shut down your thoughts, either.

2:30 am: So apparently medical conditions can cause insomnia. Your allergies and asthma have been fairly dormant in recent years. Probably neither of those to blame. Oh but apparently insomnia can be related to other sleeping issues. Restless leg syndrome—your brother has that—and sleep apnea—your dad almost certainly has that. Nah. Neither fits your mold.

2:34 am: Snapchat from Blake. Why the fuck are they in the waiting room on a Tuesday night?

2:35 am: You’re starving but it’s money-saving time for spring break. No midnight snacks. Wow, you have a lot of emails to send tomorrow. At least you cleared 124 from your inbox today.

2:37 am: You wonder if that free burrito from Chipotle tonight gave you E. coli. Your stomach has been sending mixed signals about that all night. Ironic. You got that burrito because they had a meeting at all Chipotles yesterday causing it to close. The meeting was about health concerns because their burritos actually were giving people the shits. And not the normal I-just-ate-Mexican-food-now-I-have-sprint-to-the-bathroom shits. Nah. Like the E. coli shits. You probably don’t have E. coli.

2:41 am: So apparently depression and anxiety can cause insomnia. Those aren’t concerns of yours now, but who knows what was happening to you in Ireland last year. Maybe one of those conditions is why you stayed up till 4 am practically every night. Maybe that started it all. But WAIT. Fuck, that sounds in your head like Billy Mays, and you remember seeing his infomericals for Oxyclean every afternoon you spent at the Gauvains’ when they had cable and you didn’t. Then he died. From cocaine, maybe? You can’t remember. It’s not important. Anyway, you’ve waited long enough since you sounded like Billy Mays. So, yeah, insomnia is linked to lifestyle. Well, you do work on your computer late into the night most of the time, but you’re fundamentally against naps (not relaxation, like you would have during a siesta; just naps) and prefer to not sleep in. Nor are you a shift worker.

2:49 am: You began this research nearly an hour ago and you have no fucking idea what insomnia really even is or how you get it. But you just heard the lyrics “we can’t give up” and you’re compelled to heed Noosa’s advice.

2:53 am: Shuffle brought up “Go That Road” by Iration. You told Krauss you’d love to see them in San Diego with him this summer, and that’s true. But who knows if that trip will happen.

2:58 am: Ignore previous advice. You’re not figuring out whether or not you have insomnia tonight. Just give up and go out bed. Goodnight, world.

Small Differences

Prompt: Write half a page or more in which you experience a specified situation as your character, a stranger to this situation, would. Describe the situation in vivid, precise details that appeal to the senses, using active verbs.

 

The crack beckoned a howl I never knew I had.

***

I’ve been in the United States for two months, visiting from Lünen, Germany as an exchange student. Back in May, I watched through my living room window the rowdy celebration along my drive after nearby Borussia Dortmund won their seventh Bundesliga title. My father was among the celebrants chanting songs to prove his fandom and drinking a liter to justify being 49 years old wearing an overpriced yellow jersey bearing a 23-year-old’s name. The name wasn’t even German, but Polish. Although what did that matter to my father, who waited nine insufferable years during the prime of my puberty for another championship.

I hated that spectacle outside. The gentleman’s game, they called it. So of course the grace they found so endearing on the field had no place in the streets where they pissed on hubcaps and puked on curbs, all in the name of victory. I knew then that I had to be off to America, a land that doesn’t know a soccer ball from an overweight housecat.

***

It turns out Americans glorify another ball altogether: a rock wrapped in two white leather strips bound together by obtrusive red strings.

When I made it through passport control, I found my host brother Kenneth and his family waiting to greet me with a bright red Cardinals baseball cap. If I wanted to experience St. Louis, I’d have to become a Cardinals fan. So that first night, jet lagged and all, I watched six-foot-seven men hurl a rock to fat men whose sole job was to hit the white rock with a wooden club to a spot where no abnormally large and brown hand could snag it. I hate the game, but I can’t tell Kenneth that because he’s taken me to a game a week and I don’t think he wants to do anything else with me. So now I’m at some world championship, even though we’d never seen this game in Europe.

The game is about to end and the fans in Busch Stadium—named for Anheuser-Busch, a beer my father and his friends drink to celebrate—are drained. When the man with the tri-colored beard hit a dinger—that’s what Kenneth calls them—to start the game, the St. Louisans lost their voices cheering him along his free trot to home base. I was suddenly back in Germany, and my father was every one of the 47,000 people around me, drinking beer to excuse their overindulgence in an event played by athletes twice their size and half their age. Next to me Kenneth screamed, “’Atta baby, Lance!” He’d lost the southern accent his parents had brought from Mississippi, the one I thought all Americans had until I heard everyone hear talk, but as his passion rang so too did his twang. I hated it.

But when the Cardinals player nearest our seats missed a ball hit so high it nearly hit the TV blimp above and hit his head instead, the stadium hushed. Underneath my Cardinals hat I smirked, the way I did when I was 13 and my father screamed expletives at the yellow jerseys on the television screen. Next to me a man in his fifties with hair dyed brown and treated with a perm leaned over to his gray-haired buddy and grumbled, “Of course Hitler’s dream boy hates the most American team in the most American sport.” I slide my hat off briefly to run my hand through my blonde hair and I flash my blue eyes at the friends as my smirk turns to a full grin. There’s something delightful about irritating the irritable.

To my left Kenneth is rocking with his palms together and supporting his face, as if in prayer. Like God actually favors the Cardinals over this Texas team. Like he can knock them over with his own wooden club and march the Cardinals to victory. I lean back further in my seat as Kenneth inches forward, sweat glistening his face despite the nearly freezing temperature. Time stalls and the only sounds I can hear are the cheers from the Texas bench in front of us. I fill with a bit of contagious excitement as I realize that those actually responsible for the championship buzz. But even they hush as the man on the hump of dirt gears to throw. I don’t see the rock leave his hand, but I do hear a crisp crack, like the smashing of a bone. I notice everyone around me looking directly ahead and I catch sight of the white rock heading directly for the path of the tall black Texas player running awkwardly after it.

Oh, shit. Oh shit, he missed the ball. He missed it and they’re screaming. No crescendo at all: from country silence to a sudden and collective cheer that is shaking the ground below me. I’m trying to stay calm, but oh my fucking God he missed the ball and my heart is pumping. Kenneth’s heart stopped, I think, but he can’t stop leaping and screaming and hugging me then hugging his brother Hunter and then crying in his dad’s chest. The Cardinals player, the same one who let the ball fall on his head, kneels on the same base where he missed that ball and looks directly my way with his spotty brown beard and dirt-covered chest and howls to the crowd like a wolf to the bright yellow moon. I don’t know what to do, so I answer his howl, and I realize how my father felt that night just five months prior.

This story was inspired by Game 6 of the 2011 World Series

The Young Mother and her Mother-In-Law

 Prompt: Rewrite one of Aesop’s Fables in a new, contemporary context in 500 words or fewer.

 

I’m done telling her. It’s your turn. She’s your mother. I can do this without her. Sheila’s right thumb hovers over the blue “send” icon on the screen before Nina bumps her arm as she rolls around on the couch, egging on their Golden Retriever, Teddy. Sheila just painted her nails a soft green two days prior, but as she sees her thumb rebound off her phone and a little “delivered” notification appear below her text message, she wishes she lacked the time to ever paint them again.

For the 137th Wednesday in a row, Bernadette was over to help raise her granddaughter. This, despite Bernadette’s youngest of five—Sheila’s brother-in-law Steven—being only 17 and still at the house for another 8 months before heading to Truman State to play baseball. Couldn’t she raise her own kids before taking Sheila’s first from her? It wasn’t as if Sheila had no experience with young kids: her sister had her babysit her first two kids—now four and seven—after she went back to work, and her brother’s two sons dirtied their grandparents’ white carpet with floral accents whenever they ran back inside following a wrestling match out front at every family party. Sure, she’d seen the innocent, glassy eyes and gummy smiles, she’d felt the delicately tight squeeze of four little fingers around her pinky; but she’d also wiped shit that had spewed down their thighs, ignored the wretched pleas of a hungry-but-fed four-year-old, and rocked her afternoons away at the crib side rocking chair. She needed no mentor.

“Oh, Nina, come here you sweet girl!” Bernadette smiled a too-big-smile and waved Nina’s stuffed horse at her in a hypnotic rhythm, begging her to come nearer.

Nina instead grabbed Teddy’s face. Lucky for her that he’s past that critical age of four that separates puppies from dogs; who knows what bite marks might have scarred her hands otherwise.

“Nina! Teddy doesn’t want your hands shaking his face round-about!” Sheila reminded her daughter. Nina laughed, her hands unmoved.

“Yes, Nina, that’s right, come over here to Jackie the Horse instead!”

“Bernadette, that’s okay, she doesn’t want to play with Jackie.”

“I’m sorry, Sheila, I thought you’d want me to distract her,” Bernadette said as her smile briefly faltered before an invisible force swooped the corners of her mouth back up. “With Teddy being irritated, and all. Keep them both safe.”

“No, no, I know,” Sheila said as she brushed a strand of her straight, dark, brown hair behind her left ear and glanced at her phone screen. No reply from her husband.

Silence filled the air for the next three and a half minutes before Bernadette jumped up, her face stricken with shame and fear. “I’ll be back,” she announced.

Glad to finally have Nina to herself, Sheila waited an hour to check her phone. When she did, her husband had finally replied: Steven was selling weed. Busted at school. I need to check on him. Be home late.”

This story is based on Aesop’s “The Young Crab and His Mother”

Rest In Turmoil, Stan

January 15, 2016

He never cared, and he never will. That’s the worst part of it.

I’m a few days late with my reaction to Stan Kroenke’s pillage of and departure from St. Louis. This week has been busier than I imagined any syllabus week could be. Plus, as huge of a sports fan as I am, the Rams lost me over the past three years. Of course, that was Kroenke’s vicious design all along: be so complacent that St. Louisans stop caring so he could play a pity card that would buy him a new home in Los Angeles. But despite my relative ambivalence, I’m livid nonetheless for the way Kroenke hustled his town and held us hostage at the cost of at least $500 million from taxpayers that the affluent County was exempt from and that City residents never were given the liberty to vote on.

My allegiance grew thin, but still. Fuck you, Stan. Fuck you.

I say all of this as someone acutely aware of St. Louis’s shortcomings. Yes, it’s probably fair at this point to speculate that we might be on our way to becoming the next Detroit. Our city’s public education is a disgusting excuse for a guaranteed service; its roads are potholed and traffic lights obtrusive; its poverty levels are terrifying (over 40% of children in St. Louis City live below the poverty line); the absurd Great Divorce between City and County some 140 years ago continues to hinder the entire metropolitan area; and population trends haven’t been wonderful. All of these issues won’t be fixed with money, but it wouldn’t hurt to allocate some of that $500 million that was on the table for a stadium for a billionaire that would be used 10 times every year. If I had to guess, though, odds aren’t high that any of that will happen. St. Louis has grown too comfortable being stagnant.

In high school I wanted to move away for college. I love my hometown, but I felt I needed to get away. When financial reasons prodded me to SLU, I fell in love with this university. When I spent four months in Galway Ireland, a city I loved but would never live in again, I couldn’t wait to return home to my richly imperfect city. But I’m again ready to leave here for a bigger city, such as Chicago. After I graduate, I honestly hope I’m getting out of here. So, Stan, I understand that St. Louis isn’t the most desirable city, and it would be ignorant to pretend economic opportunities are greater here. But I’m not going to wipe my ass with St. Louis on my way out. Even if I married into the Walton family like he did, I wouldn’t ever dream of supplanting a team that so many people are so deeply connected to and tearing out a part of the city’s heart. It’s despicable.

The saddest part is that there’s no way he cares.

He knows exactly what he did. He’s far too intelligent not to. People are calling for his head here in St. Louis so they can rip off his toupee and send Robert Quinn after him. But he’ll simply never care that he gave St. Louis two losing options and painted himself as a pariah. It’s all a part of the disgusting game of unchecked greed. We want to spit on his mustache and hold his toupee high above his head as he flails below for it, irritated like a third grader whose babysitter holds his juice box out of reach. But to those in his circle, he just did something amazing. He has a few fans, I guess.

So go enjoy the LA Rams, Stan. You won’t be able to see St. Louis from your owner’s suite in Inglewood, but we’ll be holding our middle fingers high at you forever. I wish you cared that we all hate you so much, but you proved already that you aren’t a regular human. As a conniving and perpetual liar, you took no issue using the 2.8 million citizens of this metropolitan area as tools to help you not only escape, but also leave us with two fewer sports teams than Detroit and one fewer than Cleveland. If the Rams somehow ever win more than 8 games again, I’m not sure you’ll feel the joy that comes with winning. I don’t think you can feel at all, you son of a bitch. You’ll never understand, and that’s the very worst part about you.

And for that, I actually am sorry.

***

“The Hands That Thieve” — Streetlight Manifesto

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” – Sirius Black (And by inferiors in reference to Kroenke I mean financially inferior because in no world is he superior to anyone I know in any other way.)