Letter from New York (1): Trump’s 100 days & some stand-up comedy: never before or never again?

So far, here in New York, I haven’t heard anyone say a good word about Trump, let alone about his first 100 days in office. Yes, in tourist shops you can buy Trump mugs and fridge magnets, or baseball caps and T-shirts with ‘Make America Great Again’ plastered all over them, but I’m not sure anyone is buying them. Strolling in and around Central Park yesterday, I saw more than one stand selling anti-Trump ‘NOT MY President’ and ‘Dump Trump’ badges (or pins) – with a message stating: ‘Sorry, we have no pro-Trump pins … well, we’re not “sorry”.’

The area around Trump Tower, on 5th Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets, and where Melania is holed up (yeah, I think that’s the right term), has become an ‘inconvenience’ for neighbours, shoppers and office workers, or rather a ‘fucking traffic nightmare’ according to taxi drivers. Outside it looks like a fortress, with NYPD trucks, concrete blocks, and 5 or 6 burly cops with machine guns … but you can still stroll inside to gawk at the God-awful glitzy escalators and get free WiFi at the Starbucks upstairs. There’s an airport-style X-ray machine – but you can still take selfies near the Nigel Farage-famous gold lifts (sorry, elevators). Yesterday I was tempted to make a dash for one, to try and rescue Melania, but then I thought, nah, why bother? I might have been whisked off in chains and an orange boiler suit to Guantanamo Bay. Apparently there’s a Melania ‘actress-model-lookalike’ in the States right now called Mira Tzur, earning $3100 for each ‘Melania-appearance’. So the thing to do would be to turn up at the gold elevators with Mira. That would confuse them.

Right now, right here, they’re all trying to make sense of Trump’s first 100 days in office. It’s not easy.

‘I never realised how big [the job] was,’ Trump himself has said of the presidency in an interview with The Associated Press. ‘Every decision,’ he added, ‘is much harder than you’d normally make.’ Yes, I can imagine, Donald.

In a separate interview with Reuters, he said: ‘This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.’ Yes, I can imagine that, too, Donald … you poor thing.

The job might be tough, but Donald’s boastfulness is unrelenting. ‘I truly believe that the first 100 days of my administration has been just about the most successful in our country’s history,’ he said in his weekly address on Friday. How nuts is that?

It’s the phrase ‘never before’ that’s stuck with me from yesterday’s The New York Times (and it was great to feel the fat Sunday edition with all its supplements was still as heavy as a door-stop; no ‘app’ can replicate that feel).

‘As Washington pauses to evaluate the opening phase of the Trump presidency,’ the paper wrote, ‘the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that … [during] almost every one of these first 100 days, Mr.Trump has done or said something that caused presidential historians and seasoned professionals … to use the phrase “never before”.’

Never before. The 100 days are being remembered not for Donald actually achieving anything, but for him acting like no president has ever acted before.

Never before has there been a president who has ‘refused to release his tax returns and declined to divest from his multibillion-dollar real estate empire.’ Not only has he retained all his business interests, but he also ‘cultivates them with regular visits to his properties.’ Never before has a president used his very own and exclusive Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, as his ‘winter White House’ or played golf frequently at clubs he actually owns.

Never before has a president ‘gleefully taken credit on days that stocks have risen’, or then publicly commented on the strength of the dollar … ‘which presidents generally do not do.’

Donald Trump, president, seems to do many things that ‘presidents generally do not do.’ His Twitter account has been ‘the vehicle for all sorts of outbursts that defy tradition, often fuelled by the latest segment on Fox News.’ Presidents ‘rarely taunt reality-show hosts about poor ratings, complain about late-night television comedy skits, berate judges or members of their own party who defy them, trash talk Hollywood stars and Sweden, declare the “fake news” media to be “the enemy of the American people” or accuse the last president of illegally wiretapping them without any proof,’ wrote The New York Times yesterday … and which is not Donald’s favourite newspaper, of course.

Trump has pushed traditional boundaries, ignored longstanding protocol and discarded ‘historical precedents as he reshapes the White House in his own image.’ He’s been more aggressive than any other president in using his authority to undo his predecessor’s legacy, ‘particularly on trade, business regulation and the environment.’ And he’s dominated the ‘national conversation’ perhaps more than any president in a generation.

Trump’s presidency has presented the USA with a movie it has never seen before. Some have even said that there is no longer a United States presidency; instead, there is ‘organised crime in government control.’

And never before, concluded The New York Times has a president turned the White House into ‘a family-run enterprise featuring reality-show-style, “who will be thrown off the island?” intrigue.’

Never before … and I think many are praying that it will soon be ‘never again’.

I once said ‘never again’ about doing stand-up comedy but whilst I’m here in New York … why not? (How does that Sinatra song go? If you can make it here, or just ‘do’ it here, you can do it anywhere?). Anyway, I can’t believe it is over 4 years since I last tried two open mic evenings here at the New York Comedy Club and the Broadway Comedy Club (I blogged about it here) … and I’ve decided to give it another go. I’ve booked myself into the open mic session at the New York Comedy Club next Sunday 7th May. Why? I need to work on my sense of humour and ‘fearlessness-ness’ again. Juliane thinks I’m mad. She might be right. But I need to get some new comedy-writing practice in, as we’re about to launch a radio (and hopefully TV) comedy quiz game show ‘thing’. It’s coming soon … wait and see …

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