Kruiser, Rosie, and Tipjar (my VERY personal election 2012 story)
(Author’s note: In over 300 blog posts and 80 videos, which combined have garnered about 4,000,000 views, I’ve never used my website to post anything personal and self-indulgent. If you don’t care for this, at least cut me the slack that perhaps I’ve earned the right to do just one)
*“Don’t fuck with my friends. Do you hear me, David? DON’T FUCK WITH MY FRIENDS. I’m warning you…DON’T FUCK WITH MY FRIENDS!” Stephen Kruiser, the normally astute and humorous PJ Media personality, being somewhat less astute and definitely not humorous. *
Being threatened by Stephen Kruiser on election night was the moment I truly comprehended my “new normal.” And, in a way, it helped me understand the new normal that all conservatives have to face as Obama begins his second term.
Earlier in the evening, long before Kruze decided to harangue me for “fucking” with his friends, several of my friends were taken aback by my calm demeanor as the returns, far from encouraging, began coming in.
“You look unperturbed.”
This was said by my oldest friend, a friend of 30 years. “You’re serene, calm. I don’t get it.” He was right to be confused. I always wear my emotions on my sleeve. And this man was genuinely confused by my lack of emotion in the West L.A. bar where local conservatives had gathered to view the election returns.
“What’s the deal, Dave? Why aren’t you upset?”
I didn’t have an immediate answer.
“You’re still wearing that stupid hat?”
So said one of the finest writers I know, a man with a readership of, perhaps, millions. It was 10pm; we knew we’d lost. And I was standing outside the bar with this man I admire, whose friendship is invaluable to me, and he pointed out that, amid the sadness, I was wearing a pig hat. It was a gift that a dear friend brought me that night. A pink pig hat, referencing an in-joke within the group I run, the Republican Party Animals (RPA).
The bizarre nature of the moment grabbed me. I was speaking to one of the most respected writers in conservative circles, and I was wearing a pig hat. And I’d honestly forgotten I was wearing it. It was comfortable, more comfortable than the fedora I’d arrived in. “Ah,” I thought, “that’s why people in the bar were staring at me as I made my way downstairs to the patio.” I had the pig hat on. I’d honestly forgotten.
It was about 11:00pm. The conservatives had cleared out, save for the last three of us. Me, my very talented artist friend who I won’t name, and Kruiser. Ah Kruze…smart, funny, bespectacled Kruze. I tried to lighten the mood. A few bad jokes about the terrible restaurant down the street. No response. Knowing that the only thing smarter than exiting on a laugh is exiting on dead silence, I began to say my farewells. But Kruze wasn’t about to let me go. He called me over. “David…I need to tell you…DON’T FUCK WITH MY FRIENDS! I’M WARNING YOU! DON’T FUCK WITH MY FRIENDS” Finger thrust in my direction, Kruze appeared to be more pissed at me than at the newly-reelected president.
I attempted to tell him that I’m not “fucking” with his friends. And that just made him angrier. There are two phrases that, when employed by someone who is drunk and pissed off, strongly suggest that a fight is about to occur. One such phrase is “YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER ‘N ME?” And the other is “YOU CALLIN’ ME A LIAR?”
Kruze used the latter. And I had no desire to get into a fight. So I left.
And it took me three blocks of walking before I realized I had no idea how I was getting home. My bad eyesight prevents me from driving at night. I had come with a friend, who’d left early. I had no ride back to Beverly Hills. Hell, I’ll just walk. It’ll do me good.
And it did. Because, in the course of that walk, I came to understand the connection between Kruze’s anger, and why I was so serene during such an awful night.
I like Kruze. He’s a drinker, like me. And I was honored when he spoke at one of my RPA events in July 2011. It was a good night. 500 hard-partying conservatives and libertarians on Hollywood and Vine. Private indoor/outdoor venue, standing room only (shameless plug – here’s how attendee Larry Elder described it the next day). We were breaking in a new member of one of our regular rock bands. Actor and conservative writer Gary Graham’s band, which had played every RPA event since our inception in 2009, was debuting a new guitar player: Mike Thompson, or, as I would come to call him, “Tipjar Mike,” on account of the tipjars with which he supports himself at the various free gigs he plays. And no shame there – Mike is a magnificent guitarist. Not just in terms of skill (and his skill is truly impressive), but in terms of musical preference. He likes classic rock. I like classic rock. “Hmm,” I thought that night, “I like this new guy.”
My co-organizer Scotty did not like Mike. Scotty had flown down from Oregon (yes, there are still a few conservatives in Oregon) to attend the event. He was my partner in the RPA, and by 11:00pm he was pissed (and drunk). Scotty’s fashion model date had vanished. Odd coincidence – so had Tipjar Mike, who was supposed to play an acoustic set once we had to cut the amps by midnight (a city law for outdoor venues).
Tipjar Mike, the 40-year-old prettyboy with the Wolverine sideburns and the hot guitar, was gone. Scotty’s date was gone. Oh well, probably just a coincidence. Wait, no…there they are, making out in an alley. By the end of the night, Scotty was in a rage. I could have been more sympathetic. Truthfully, I was just glad that I didn’t lose money on the event. And Kruze? He was happy as hell with my buxom (seriously – “buxom” doesn’t even begin to describe it) friend from Arizona. And if Kruze was happy, I was happy. Rule number one of event staging – keep the talent happy.
6am. I stick drunk angry Scotty in a cab and give the driver cash to get him to his hotel. Kruze, Arizona girl, and I take a cab to my place (where AZ girl was staying), and I give the driver cash to get Kruze home. A good night, a successful night.
Over the course of the next few months, Scotty dropped off the radar, and Tipjar Mike and I become really close friends. I genuinely liked the man. For every show he played, whether with Gary Graham, or his own band, or as a gun-for-hire in another band, I was there, doing whatever I could to help – designing fliers, creating event pages, and rallying our local network to turn out in support.
It was a great situation. Nothing could possibly ruin it.
As this is a subject matter to which I could devote endless text, I will go out of my way to keep it short. Suffice it to say that Rosie was the young lady who I had been financially supporting for over five years. Suffice it to say that she is a fashion model. Suffice it to say that she is expensive. Suffice it to say that I had spent about $200,000 on her. Suffice it to say that all attempts on my part to leave what I knew was an unhealthy situation had been met with weepy, teary exhortations to stay and keep spending. Suffice it to say that I really liked her in the beginning but, by 2011, I couldn’t stand her, but I also couldn’t stand to see her unhappy. And if you’ve never found yourself in that particular concentric circle of hell, tethered to someone you simultaneously care about and dislike, consider yourself lucky.
By 2011, Rosie and I, understanding our emotional estrangement, and understanding that she was not about to get an actual job, arrived at a détente. I’d continue paying for her basic expenses, but if she found a job, or if a new gentleman entered her life, I could be relieved of duty.
One trick to making a self-indulgent post slightly less self-indulgent is to take the stuff you’d really like to write about in huge melodramatic detail and force yourself to zip through it as quickly as possible. So here goes:
Rosie and Tipjar Mike took up with each other, behind my back, so that I would continue to obliviously fork over large amounts of money, as Tipjar was not in a position to pay for Rosie’s considerable expenses. I was too stupid to suspect that anything was going on, but Rosie’s loyal friend drunkenly blabbed to a mutual friend. The mutual friend (eventually) told me. The jig was up. I expressed disappointment with Rosie, and she responded by asking for MORE money. I told her to go to hell, and the war was on.
And when I say “war,” that was on her part, not mine. I still thought that the situation could be handled discreetly, as we shared the same group of friends and acquaintances. Not to mention the fact that we would still have to see each other at least once a month at various conservative gatherings. But discretion was not in the cards. Rosie and Tipjar immediately began campaigning for mutual friends to “choose sides.”
So how does Kruze fit in? Well, that friend of Rosie’s who drunkenly blabbed is the manager of Kruze’s apartment building. I had assumed that Rosie and friends would have the decency to keep Kruze out of it, as it’s not his business, and – frankly – it’s a terrible thing to do to him, because the situation by definition is coercive (the coerciveness need not even be spoken; it’s simply self-evident).
Having Kruze unload on me, as a surrogate for team Rosie and Tipjar, showed me that as long as I remain in this circle of L.A. conservatives, I will continue to hear about this thing. The (admittedly few) who have been won over by the (admittedly more aesthetically pleasing) Rosie and Mike have attacked me in numerous ways. And I realize that it isn’t about to stop.
Can I make this relevant?
Here’s where I try to tie things together in a tight little bundle of relevance. For the two months leading up to election night, I had been told, again and again and again by the people in my circle, “Get over it. So, you lost $200,000? So, your closest friends deceived you? So what. Just keep going forward. You’ll make the money back, you’ll get past the feelings of anger and betrayal. Just leave it behind and go forward.”
Okay, fair enough. And having dutifully absorbed that advice from the dozens of well-meaning people who opined on what was for me a personal earthquake of unprecedented magnitude, it was the only way I could react to the devastating losses of November 6th. I couldn’t get upset; I could only think about moving forward. I’ve been in a hole before, and the U.S. as a nation has been in a hole before. We survived. I’ll climb out of this hole, and so will we.
So I kept my pig hat on, I looked forward, and I made merry.
But, on the walk back after Kruiser’s diatribe, I had another epiphany. In a way, as we head into 2013, my “new normal” is the “new normal” of all conservatives. If I’m going to stay in the circle of people I’ve surrounded myself with for nearly four years now, I’m going to have to live with the fact that there will be a certain number of them for whom I’ve lost all respect; people who made a decision without intelligently trying to understand both sides, people who didn’t conceive of the notion that if they aren’t willing to make an informed decision, they should perhaps just stay out of it entirely.
And that’s our dilemma. We conservatives will have to continue to interact with our fellow countrymen who voted to keep Obama as president. We’ll have to live and work alongside them knowing that they made a decision without intelligently trying to understand both sides, and without conceiving of the notion that if they aren’t willing to make an informed decision, they should perhaps have just stayed out of it entirely.
I’m not claiming that the two situations carry equal weight. One is a personal matter, the other is a matter that affects the entire world. Plus, I can always find a new circle of acquaintances. But if we lose the U.S., there’s nowhere to go.
My anger at the individuals who caused my situation is ebbing (somewhat), but not the sadness. Ditto my attitude toward the Obama voters, the Elizabeth Warren voters, the voters in my own state who voted us a hefty tax increase. I’m more sad than angry. But I’m also determined.
I’m not the most functional individual these days, and 2012 knocked the wind (and the cash) out of me. So what do I do? I climb out of the hole. If I can do it, anyone can.
That’s the only way I can look at it. That’s the only way I can look at my personal situation, and the only way I can look at our collective situation. What alternative is there?