Saturday, December 12, 2009


If this is the twilight of the idols, two of them will be very hard to see in the dark but for their smiles. One's stunning grin is becoming a grimace, the rigor mortis of a zombi (the one we invented, not "28 Days"). The other is too locked in the contrite flinch splashed across tabloids in smeary ink to show his teeth, once so prominent nibbling on blonde canapés.

Tiger Woods deserves the anger of black folks. I'm not sure whether there is any, but a friend reminded us on his Facebook status of Nas's edict, "Pro ball players with white wives/Peep they night lives." He assented with this observation before the baker's dozen of bang biscuits came hot off the presses: 13 women? $60,000 kinky sex? Taste for blondes? There's nothing wrong with sex and lots of it, with different people. Even adultery is rather ho-hum, saddest really because of the children. Here the tragedy is the grand scale of it, the height of his pedestal, and the dull tropes he played out in the course.

Pedestrian and flat is the paper Tiger now so perforated, who used to stare from ads at something just behind, over, or to either side of the viewer. I didn't begrudge him success, because he's phenomenally talented. There's no reason for the fair-minded to revel in schadenfreude; this is the fall of a man who seems more idiot savant than genius.

But why should Obama deserve the anger of "his people," the brown he let down? Blacks and Hispanics think he's doing a great job, says a recent Gallup poll. That's odd, especially considering the figures on black unemployment. Thirty-nine percent of whites still favor him, so does thinking he's crap make me a white guy? That's unfair by half.

He has disappointed nearly the span of his voting base in less than a year. A list of letdowns bores me with its staggering breadth, a complete index of which is beyond the scope of this writing. I didn't want to have any hope for Afghanistan because I'd come to expect disappointment, but I took Obama's stalling as due consideration. A progressive radio host said last night that he's "done with Obama", who has even begun to garner praise from conservatives for his hawky-talky.

The Obama administration has been jobbing off the "green sector jobs" he promised our rust-belt wastelands to China, all while letting the loan applications of domestic manufacturers bog down. Health insurance is still too early to call, but the noises about expanding the rolls of private insurers without a public option's cost controls are not encouraging. Our borrowed bailout money to fill the hole left by housing speculation is yet being blown on commodities trading, with inadequate regulation allowing this market to drive up our food prices. What's next, air and water futures? It's starting to seem that the only thing getting "change"d here is a diaper.

It was silly to be in a major city, a chocolate city, when he won the election. All the giddiness and t-shirts, flags and banners, bumper stickers, calendars and blather when all he'd done was talk and posture. I believed it too, but I didn't buy it. So now I don't have a single Obama calendar to tack to my dartboard, but in a few weeks I'll get one out of the trash.

My father came here from a country where presidents who have promised populist revolution have become totalitarian demagogues. Obama's not doing it in the "banana republic" way, naming himself President for Life and setting up his own paramilitary to spirit people off, torture and kill. We do things here on the d/l, in a suffocating shuffle of paper à la Harry Buttle's fate in "Brazil." But my father might say that Obama is a shame to us, to the race he'll be taken to represent. (I don't know, I don't have the heart to ask.) Growing up, my father told me that my every failure would reflect poorly on my race. Remembering that while mulling over Tiger and Obama, I could see how irrationally livid I was.

By those admittedly old-fashioned lights, Tiger's probably set us back a few decades. Squinty crackers probably don't watch golf, but I bet they're happy to see that this black man, master of a Scottish game customarily played in exclusive venues by largely white folks, has acted out a snore-jerking stereotype with 21st century decadence. We can only hope this will all blow over and not keep rising like a priapic O.J.

I had hoped the Nobel Peace Prize was a clever preemptive strike by Europe that would remind Obama he was elected as an antiwar president: the committee knew he would have to make some decision about the wars before accepting the prize.

How ironic it all looks now, framed under a Norwegian sky as a Russian missile sputters overhead. Obama, too bad the father you didn't have wasn't like mine.