(On November 2nd, 2017, I presented the third version of “Same Day” in an artist’s lecture at Atlanta Legal Aid. The video above contains audio recorded that afternoon, sync’d with slides. Here’s a photo of what it looked like. Below that, a script, of sorts. Here’s more info about the project.)
“What a crowd!
And just so you know from the Secret Service, there aren’t too many people outside protesting, OK? That I can tell you. A lot of people in here, a lot of people pouring in right now! They can get them in. Whatever you can do, fire marshals, we appreciate it. And I want to thank…
our great Vice President, for the introduction.”
[CLAPPING GOES WRONG]
I downloaded that photo of Mike Pence… on Aug 22nd, THE SAME DAY as those previous words: spoken by the President of the United States at the beginning of his 2020 re-election campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona. The one where he previewed his pardon of Sherrif Arpaio and defended his “good people on both sides” response to Charlottesville. That one.
Last Spring, I began trying to make the news make sense, create real from the surreal.
My wife and I started writing a song a day, using pull-quotes from that day’s top story for lyrics. We sang 70 of those quotes and looking back, they seem quaint, from a far-off time. They’re songs in a language where the accent’s so thick, I can barely understand. Here’s a short one: the lyrics are verbatim from a transcript of an oval-office interview with Trump by Julie Pace of the Associated Press.
“Well if you look at the President of China…
people say they’ve never seen anything like what’s going on right now.
I really liked him a lot; I think he liked me.
We had a great chemistry together.
People say they’ve never seen anything like what’s going on right now.”
The challenge of making these songs, and the pace at which the executive branch appears to be forking itself toward authoritarianism, has kept me tuned-in, an earbud stuck-in my ear nearly 8 hours a day, while I’ve tried to find a new kind of story, encoded inside my photographs — or GIFs and videos (whatever I was downloading to save) some place where I could forge connections between these twin tracks: of global politics & an American family.
May 25th, the day I first presented a version of this story, was an afternoon that yielded this GIF:
a sibling dead lift; a divot in a string of days filled with headlines that had long sounded the same.
May 25th, to today, an unrenewable effort.
One quick stab in the dark, for somebody? What can be created from throwaway photos? What does it look like when we’re not preciously & painstakingly presenting propaganda of our best selves?
This Prius, owned by an Alpha (he knows his car of choice leans Beta) cool or not, a photo of inconsequence, upon which narrows what comes next…
Arrows sprung from the Washington Post, the secret back-channel Jared Kushner tried to set-up at the Russian facility, to talk to Putin directly, away from the glare of the US Intel Community.
Kushner’s proposal, from Dec 2nd last year, incidentally the SAME DAY I download this 1988 cover of Geraldo Rivera in a blue t-shirt (for no reason).
Probing, Pushy, a Perfectionist, each proclaimed with a period, without question.
But back to May & June 8th, ousted FBI director James Comey is questioned by the Senate Intel Committee, the same day I see another red Prius:
this one with a sticker… I assume is from ScoobyDoo, but the dog’s all wrong, and I realize what I think I’m seeing isn’t what I’m seeing at all — someone tells me it’s called Cowboy Bebop.
I’m not sure if that crew investigated ghosts and the supernatural,
it clearly doesn’t make them the FBI.
That SAME DAY day during Comey’s testimony:
I walk through CNN on my way to a meeting, past the window that says “no photography” (where I never see anyone working…)
Comey is in the background talking to Senator Feinstein:
saying “lordy, I hope there are tapes,” (of his “loyalty dinner” with Trump)
which took place back in January, but rather than circle back there, the forward whiplash of Four Slim Days:
June 12th, I take this screenshot of the cabinet meeting when Priebus says:
“Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people,”
His words make me wonder about the kids. Not ours, but Spicer’s, Priebus’. They’ll turn into teens some day, they’ll learn their dads lied with conviction (or convictions?) anything to get donors a bigger tax break, right?
Nice family dinner.
It’s enough to make you wonder if we’re on the same planet, or if someone bought the whole thing when we weren’t looking, and is selling it off an iceberg at a time.
June 23rd, the White House suddenly a churchmouse, takes two sentences:
to make a statement — saying “There Are No Tapes,” so lordy, there’s no hope now, right?
When did you give up the fight? Was it January? July? Or did you still cling like me in late-June:
approaching Summer’s pause, the string of headlines / itemized shout-outs…
…stuck to your scroll thumb like dust from a chip bag; I fell into the trap of my app’s notifications:
Kushner Lawyers Up
Rosenstein Might Recuse
Bleeding Badly from a Facelift
then that new single dropped:
Trump Meets Putin, in Hamburg no less! Where Lennon & McCartney scratched-out something to which Vladimir would later declare love.
For Yesterday, June 26th? For Revolution? (back in the USSR?)
(Get back to the facts.)
July 8th, the SAME DAY I learn that screenshots of what you watch on Netflix only retain subtitles:
a new name, not Peter Thiel’s:
Another lawyer, right? (At long last!) Natalia, plus Rinat, Anatoli, Ike & Rob!
Bridging the distance between the Trumping triumvirate (of Donnie, Jared, and Paul — who was “on his phone the whole time”) this bevy of Ruble-lubed ambassadorish-types, whose numbers grew with each passing hour…
…yielded a gap in credibility so vast you could push a tug right through it,
all it takes is a TINY LIE, told with a smile.
There were three lies I saw that SAME DAY and didn’t notice until now.
A lie? A wish? A warning?
Easy to say when nearly 500 days before, you pushed this:
This bliss — does it apply to agents for ICE? To the parents of dreamers, dear and deported? What can you say? When everyone’s eyes are supposed to be on the road, do you say…“this is everything.”
HANNITY: “This is all of it.”
TRUMP JR.: “This is everything.”
a July 11th lie in 177 frames, 29 per second. Like father, like ___? How does it go? An odd loop, this lie’s life. The kind that wants to run around a little — show off its new shoes.
July 17 — the SAME DAY I capture this West Wing whisper,
Sean Spicer says the Trump Jr. / Veselnitskaya meeting was just about adoptions. He accomplishes three things:
- Spicer placates those who want to hear the meeting was innocuous
- he enrages those who know that adoptions mean it was about Putin’s reaction to sanctions initiated by the passing of the Magnitsky Act which clamped down on the funds his oligarch friends were able to amass and squander
- and then beffuddlement at how a Senior White House staffer hides the truth in plain sight, without a care in the world, like an on screen whisper, cause that’s what you do when you win.
July 20th — the SAME DAY I see an ad for type-2 diabetes medication
starring this guy with his digital Hassleblad, Trump meets with top advisors and wants to increase the number of nuclear warheads back-up to the
they were at in the 60s, a 10-fold increase.
Three days later, Scaramucci recounts a phone call from the President when they discussed whether Russia hacked the election; Trump said, “maybe they did, maybe they didn’t.”
Are those god’s odds? 50/50? Is it possible to overdose on refuge? What makes a bad photograph —
If you threw them all in a pile could it power a furnace of self-love? Why is a hole-in-one an ace?
July 26th — The FBI conducts an early-morning raid on Paul Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia. They pick his front lock, meet him and his wife in his bedroom with a warrant. Manafort tells Roger Stone the agents took photographs of his suits, maybe his slippers.
It sounds like the cause is probable, that an indictment’s inevitable. He’s stuck…in his own slipperyness.
The next day, Congress passes new sanctions against Russia (that Trump will drag his feet in signing and implementing) the SAME DAY George Papadopoulos flies into Dulles from Munich and is arrested for lying to the FBI,
the SAME MORNING I wake-up and see one of my favorite natural phenomenons, a tangle of worm trails on the green dumpster.
July 28th, this pit-bull is rubbing his back on a putting green while US diplomats and their families are getting kicked out of Moscow. The dog’s enjoying himself so much…makes me wonder what he’s hiding.
How when a dog’s smile is upside-down, it’s a snarl.
August 3rd, the 16 fire ant bites I got while watching a pit-bull a few days ago
flare-up while the Washington Post reports that special counsel Mueller has appointed a federal grand jury to investigate Russia’s interference in the election, which is getting to be a long phrase to keep repeating, so everyone’s lobbing the gate-suffix at whatever’ll stickgate.
When fire ants bite you they hold on with their mouths, so they can get the torque required to jam their butt stinger into your fleshgate.
August 11th, I’m watching a live-stream from someone walking down a street
in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a car drives past into a crowd of people.
I am watching this live, so I take a screenshot to remember.
We hold the camera so we can see.
Hold the camera, so we can see!
Hold the camera — we can see.
Aug 16th, US Congressman Dana Rohrbacher meets with Julian Assange in London to connive a grand bargain that will prove Assange’s innocence exonerate Russia from the DNC-hack, and gain Assange a pardon from the President.
I get stuck in a loop… looking at Rohrbacher with alt-righter Charles Johnson on the steps of the Ecuadorian embassy…
How the OK sign is now a white nationalist / white power calling card; how it’s flown upstream and down from the White House itself, yet no one seems to notice. Where does it fall on the list of things you’re keeping your eye on?
Trump drilled deep with birtherism, the gusher of underlying resentment and racism sprang so high they can’t cap that well.
Crude is CRUDE, it’s running on top of the ground now — you can step right in it in the middle it of 5th avenue — there’s so much, it’s thickening.
Mattis, Munichin, McMaster, Kelly, the adults in the room? They’re brewing, stirring the kettle, watching it steam.
“People say they’ve never seen anything like what’s going on right now.”
Each day this endless middle ground, the beginning’s happened, the end’s ahead,
but there’s no sense of where we are except this middle, the SAME DAY Glenn Simpson’s testimony to Congress about the creation of the Trump Dossier lasts 10 hours.
Sept. 6th, Facebook issues a press-release reversing their previous denials as to whether or not Russia used the world’s most sophisticated surveillance platform to target voters in swing states.
It’s hard to tell who the fat cats are anymore, if it’s Putin or Zuckerberg — who’d come running quicker if you turned on a can opener?
I know we’re not getting the whole picture.
This, from Sept. 6th, 13 years ago, makes me wonder why I think I can turn pictures that have no meaning into pictures that might have meaning, and if it’s worth it making you watch me try. Would this photo become significant if these were the last two apples, ever?
Hurricane Irma comes through the SAME DAY Trump’s lawyers are caught talking over steak at a DC restaurant, and one of them mentions documents locked in White House counsel McGahn’s safe. It’s one of those details easily missed, no one talks about, like how Tom Barrick’s roommate in Beirut in the 1970s introduced him to Paul Manafort, 40-some odd years later, Barrick returns the favor, introduces Manafort to Trump.
I’ve started looking for these flaps of the butterfly’s wings that have blown us into this maelstrom. One flap brings wind shear over Tampa, another flap:
Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.
October 3rd — Mueller’s looking into the limits of Presidential pardon power
the SAME DAY I lean back in a chair and look up at a photograph of our last President leaning back in a chair looking up at… what?
In his mind, is he Our Last President, or The Last President?
October 5th, the special counsel swipes George Papadopoulos into a plea deal for lying to the FBI back in January, that SAME DAY when Trump beckoned Comey to the White House for their un-taped “loyalty dinner.”
As a proactive cooperator in Mueller’s investigation, Papadopoulos likely wore a wire over the summer when chatting-up his Make America Great Again buddies, luring them to incriminate themselves, on tape.
Facebook won the internet because it made the internet more like this:
easy, friction-free. It embraced the hassle, squeezed tight, drained all the quirkyness, competition and personality out, and then it built a tall wall around what was left.
Then they bought Instagram, which is where photography happens, because Instagram made photography easy-er. You could argue a photograph from 2017 doesn’t exist unless its liked & shared.
If a photograph fell in the woods…
…would you be there to post it?
October 7th, the SAME DAY I see this, Facebook reveals the Russian troll farm bought ads on Instagram, too.
Since then, facts that weren’t facts became signed & sealed facts.
Words thrown and flown still fly, but this week there’s been a change; not everything seems weightless, up-for-grabs. A chosen few have felt the tethers of consequence.
Some people teach their kids to swim by pushing them into the deep end.
Having the chance to try and get things right is a gift.
Failure has freedom, a flexibility.
Not everyone can survive the crash, it depends how close you’re sitting to the gas tank.
The distance between things I’ve known and things I’ve never known and will never know is widening in a way that feels blameless.
You all may know less than you did 20 minutes ago. I may have overpromised.
Like our President, I’ll never know what it’s like to not be me. But if you build a wall high enough, you can charge whatever you like at the door.
It’s what you do when you win.