The four men that constituted the band R.E.M. — lead vocalist Michael Stipe, drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck and bassist Mike Mills — are credited with writing the song “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” a sort of middling hit, back in 1988. For reasons you can just imagine, “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” has lately been shooting up the music charts. This tells us one thing: you’re losing every dollar you ever made or saved, but R.E.M. is feeling fine.
The absurdity of American life at the moment could only have been dreamed of by one of the great existentialists of the 20th century, albeit with a twist. Samuel Beckett after a visit with Timothy Leary and Dr. Feelgood? Jean-Paul Sartre and a room full of only exit signs? What about Jean Anouilh feeling bored? (Think that last one through.) No matter what, just remember this: a kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh, and Gertrude Stein is a rose is a rose is a rose is a Gertrude Stein.
The world has gone to shit, utterly smoking, stinking shit, so in addition to running around the house to checkup on our supply of toilet paper, my dear friend and colleague Elizabeth Burke and I spent some time on the night of Monday, March 16 to record another episode of our weekly podcast for our 2.75 listeners.
Our timing was so auspicious: the Dow Jones Industrial Average had not only crashed that day by 3,000 points, it was threatening to skip zero entirely and go directly for a negative integer. The question was, of course, which one? My guess is -273.15, which is also the temperature that science calls “Absolute Zero,” which is actually a higher number than the present value of my 401(k). (For those who like such arcane things, by the way, -273.15 is also known as zero on the Kelvin scale. I have no idea who Kelvin is, but he, like R.E.M., is making more money right now than you are.)
But hey, never fear, Congress is here! And they’re doing the very thing Congress always does, and poorly. Here I quote from that wonderful musical, 1776:
You see, we piddle, twiddle, and resolve,
Not one damn thing do we solve…
But never fear, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin is here! You see, while most of the nation is trying to figure out how to pronounce his surname (it side-rhymes with in-douche-in), he’s trying to get Congress to pass legislation to give everybody a check for $1,000. Trouble is, we only get that check if we correctly tell Wayne Brady what’s behind Door Number 2. (Surprise! It’s Barbara Eden, from I Dream of Jeanne.)
Who else is totally delighted by the $1,000 idea? Andrew Yang and wherever his Yang Gang thang is hanging nowadays. None of whom, let’s note, are not old enough to remember the 1986 song “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” with that fabulous lyric “Everybody Wang Chung tonight,” but I bet you 30 Kelvins that they’re singing it anyway. (Seriously, kiss my heinie in Macy’s window on a sale day if you don’t like my jokes. Have some sympathy: last time I checked, my 401(k) was worth -1,000 Kelvin. And now Macy’s is closed. Everybody, please Wang Chung tonight. And wash your hands afterward.)
But no, Congress can’t send everybody in America a $1,000 check because, as I write this, news is also breaking that Sen. Rand Paul (BATSHIT R-KY) is blocking any movement on the must-have-it, must-have-it-now, feed-me-Seymour legislation that Congress needs to pass. Thank you so much, Rand. Pro tip to the senator: don’t go weeding in your yard this weekend.
(Random thought: What can real Americans do to get Twitler to resign? He needs to go. He needs to go now. Preferably in a pair of gold shackles. And for Malaria to join him.)
So, look folks. You’re been reading all this blather because:
- you’re incredibly bored because you can’t imagine working from home until 2062;
- you think I need immediate mental help; or
- you’re wondering what Liz and I talked about on the latest episode of our podcast.
Well, of course we discussed the latest on the coronavirus, and all the coronababies that will be born nine months from now, and how their first words won’t be “Mama” or “Dada” but the lyrics to The Knack’s 1979 song “My Sharona,” changed to you-know-what.
Liz and I also discussed the only thing that anyone will ever remember about last Sunday night’s debate between America’s two favorite great-great-great grandfathers, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, whose joint slogan will be “Making America Great-Great-Great Again.” Biden announced he’d pick a woman as his nominee for Vice President, and I feel fine. I also feel this:
She needs to be a woman of color.
So take a deep breath, listen to our episode, and let us know what you think, OK? Thanks, as always, to our 3.14 listeners for your pi-rannical support. If you enjoy this podcast, do leave us a review and share this episode on social media or wherever humanity is allowed to gather for the next few centuries. On Twitter, follow Liz at @burkeslawNYC and follow CFR at @TheCFReport.
Until next time, stay safe and sane. And please join me in earning R.E.M. another nickel: