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Moment of Truth: November 19 2016

SHOT: the election considered as a failed hangover cure

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.

Alcohol is, among other things, a remedy for some of the symptoms of injustice. When abused properly, alcohol produces a hangover, which can seem more painful than injustice, though injustice is more chronic and intractable. Maybe that's why there are more remedies for hangovers than there are for injustice.

The hangover is a medical condition affecting the brain, mostly, but what affects the brain affects the entire body. The model where every part of the body corresponds to a part of the brain is called "Penfield's homunculus." It is. Look it up. Not coincidentally, Penfield's is also a brand of wine. Look that up. I believe people recognized at some point that when you drank too much Penfield's wine your brain turned into a Penfield's homunculus. I think that is the science of the thing.

There is also a Penfield's homunculus of the butt. The butt and the brain are analogous to each other. For example, they both comprise a pair of lobes. And like the brain, every part of the body has a corresponding region of the buttocks. This is the Gluteus maximal version of reflexology. Basically, the brain is like a peeled buttocks protected inside your skull instead of your pants. And because of the homunculus, it's basically a peeled YOU inside your cranium.

Now, when you drink too much alcohol, you get dehydrated. The lubricating fluids around the brain dry up. So in the morning, your brain scrapes against the inside of you skull, which is very rough. And it chafes. And the brain, being a peeled buttocks, is very tender. Very tender.

So what's a better hangover cure, coffee or more alcohol? Well, coffee is a diuretic, so it will dehydrate you more. And alcohol also dehydrates you. So neither is as good for you as a big greasy breakfast, in my opinion.

But a lot of America disagrees. We part ways on this. The George W Bush administration was like a miserable drunken Neo-conservative night of tearing up the town. We woke up at the end of spring, 2008, all our three trillion dollar surplus gone, we didn't remember how or where we spent it, we'd done things we don't remember to make all our friends hate us, and the global economy which we'd been driving was wrapped around a telephone pole.

So America said to itself, How do we cure this Bush hangover? Let's try coffee first. And Americans like their coffee like they like their presidents: black, thin but not transparent, Kenyan, not too belligerent, not bitter, strong notes of vanilla, with a not-too-secret drone assassination program.

I've been waking up to a cup of Obama every day for the past 8 years, and whatever else I can say, he certainly made me feel like we were a civilized nation. There are a couple of cafes here in LA that will serve you a little glass of sparkling water with your shot of espresso. That's civilized. No, it's not going to cure your hangover, but it's a start, and you feel a little less like a discarded filthy rag. It's a story you tell yourself: I'm a human being. I sip espresso. My president has grace and class.

But a lot of America weren't interested in a civilized espresso with a little sparkle. They threw it back in the barrista's face. Eight years later, like many a drunk whose hangover cure didn't work fast or strong enough by their impatient estimation, they decided to throw something harder at it: a shot.

What is a shot? A shot of espresso was too coastally elitist, too much like what they'd already denounced. A shot of B-12? Too scientific. Who believes in science anymore, all that evolution and climate change crap? A shot in the brain? Just a little too suicidal. "We're not there yet," they said, "Let's just take a little hair of the dog."

Hair of the dog that bit you. Back in the day, if a werewolf bit you, it was believed that eating a few werewolf hairs would prevent you from turning into one.

So maybe drinking a bit of the alcohol that did the damage would somehow fix the damage. Like fighting fire with fire. Which, incidentally, is not a good way to fight most fires.

But somehow, in their impatience to get a quick, strong cure for the hangover, a lot of the country went overboard. Instead of hair of the dog, they swallowed the whole dog. Maybe, in their impatience, they were trying to combine the hair of the dog remedy with the greasy breakfast remedy by eating a huge greasy old hound with a golden retriever comb-over.

I don't know. I just don't know. But the secret's out now. We're in large part an alcoholic nation. Cuz that's what the hair of the dog cure really is: an alcoholic's excuse to start drinking again right at the start of the very next day. That's all it is.

Fact is, hangover cures don't work. They're just stories we tell ourselves to make us feel like we can cure the incurable.

Whatever Gloria Steinem or Cornell West or Tom Hanks may say by way of recrimination or encouragement is just so much CO2. We're all gonna take a shot of whatever we need to keep moving, to defend others and ourselves. Myself, I've been eating like a wet/dry-vacuum, with no thought to the consequences. Cuz the consequences of not doing so are without doubt going to be worse. Whatever your cure for this new doubled-down hangover, do it. Whatever you need to tell yourself to feel like you're free, like you still have some power to make things better, tell it. Cuz if you're going out to fight fascists, you need all the help you can get, even if it's just from your attitude.

Remember, the brain and the butt are connected. Fortify your brain, and your butt will follow.

It's worth a shot!

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!


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