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Newsletter 364

Published November 9, 2020
"Losing is for suckers!"

This week there’s only been one big story: the downfall of Mad King Donald, but oh.. what a painful, bloody process. I’m less addicted to the TV screen than most, but I found myself watching CNN for hours while virtually nothing was happening. And yet, it was gripping.

I’ve been holding off this newsletter until there was a decision but I really can’t drag it out any longer. As I write, Trump’s lead has just been mown down in Georgia and Pennsylvania is pending. Biden is on the verge of a TKO in the race for President. What happens afterwards is pure science fiction. How many crooks can a lame duck pardon? How many executive orders can he issue? How many scores can he settle? What can he do that Biden can’t undo?

And then what follows? 26 lawsuits for sexual assault? A huge tax fraud case? A new ultra right-wing media organisation? MAGA followers in uniform at torchlight rallies?

As for the new President it’s pretty clear he was elected because he wasn’t Donald Trump. When Trump loses the election but the Republicans hold the Senate and pick up seats in the House, one can see that rusted-on Republicans voted for Biden while keeping the faith in the other races. The great rush of new votes for Republicans came from the Trumpites, completing the weird split personality of the contemporary GOP into a party of narrow-minded, right-wing, working-class bigots and wealthy tax-evaders. It sure ain’t the same as in Abe Lincoln’s day.

It will be a big surprise if Biden manages to see out a first term without being carted off to aged care. But that probably doesn’t matter too much as there will be plenty of people framing his policies and making sure he takes his medication. Ronald Reagan was showing the signs of dementia at the end of his term and still managed to act Presidential. At the very least it means the White House will stop being the Nut House.

The art column this week looks at three shows at Sydney’s commercial galleries: Michael Zavros’s very strange photos at Sullivan + Strumpf; Gunybi Ganambarr’s mind-blowing new work at Annandale Galleries, along with the final poles and paintings of the late, great Malaluba Gumana; and – a forgivable indulgence, I hope – the Li Jin exhibition at Vermilion Art, for which I’ve been curator.

If I were going to be really rigorous about critical objectivity I wouldn’t write about a show I’ve actually selected, but it would be a shame if people didn’t get along and see the works of this brilliant Chinese artist. Anyway, full disclosure is the next best thing to heroic self-abnegation.

This week’s film being reviewed is Miranda July’s Kajillionaire – an odd, slightly unpleasant arthouse ‘comedy’ that takes a dark view of life in the kingdom of Trump. I’ve liked July’s movies in the past but this one left me feeling a bit numb. Maybe her next cinematic slice of life might find something to celebrate in the land of genial Uncle Joe. I’m not hopeful.