Whereby I Appear on a Political Radio Show and Try to Not Talk About Politics

December 6, 2018

Dawn (far right) with AP reporter Curt Anderson (middle right), romance novelist Nadine Gonzalez (middle left) and host Tom Hudson (far left).


Let's get it on paper from the outset: I have no business speaking publicly about anything political. I'm a creative writer who basically makes stuff up for a living.  I live alone in a room during the day, and when I'm alone in that room, I'm even more alone in my head, happily creating stories that people can consume for entertainment.


I took one macroeconomics classes when I was eighteen years old. I remember very little about it other than the course was taught by a University of Florida professor named Dave Denslow. The guy was so popular that if you were a minute late to his stadium-sized classroom you were ushered downstairs to an overflow room to watch the lecture live on television with the other slackers, kind of like what happens in a mega church. If you missed that, Lord help you, you had to watch his lectures on videotape at the library two days later, once they processed the videotapes. They were almost always checked out, no matter what time of day you went.


I also remember the Smoot-Hawley Tariff because I thought the name "Smoot" was funny.  I am no genius. I was clearly too young to retain the gift of macroeconomics by Dave Denslow at age 18, and I regret the loss.


Since I left high school a year early, I also missed American Government and any other type of civics, so I had to make that up on my own, too. I am self-taught, yet not clever enough to notice political nuances beyond the fact that everyone seems to have a personal political agenda. This gives me emotional hives. In fact, I am so allergic to politics that I occasionally describe myself as an anarchist just to shut people up. Hint: I'm not an anarchist. I'm also not a registered Democrat or Republican.


And yet I was asked to be a guest on WLRN's South Florida Roundup with host Tom Hudson (whom I must say is brilliant at hosting radio shows. I say this after watching him work live). This was scheduled during the 2018 Miami Book Fair where WLRN would broadcast live with a few authors, including attorney and author Alan Dershowitz (who ended up calling in to the show, so he is not pictured in the photograph above). We're talking about famous ACLU Yale-trained Alan Dershowitz. Yeah, that guy. On a panel with Dawn Davies, who writes about kids throwing up in the sliding glass door tracks. Who would do that and why is what I want to know, yet this is of minor import.  I went along for the ride, because, as I like to say, I'll try anything once except heroin and sky diving. 


The Miami Book Fair publicist booked me on the show about six weeks before the election and I had anticipated talking about general current events, which I thought I could half cram, half bluff my way through, hoping for a bit of a foray into creative nonfiction, fiction and with any luck, "the writing process," which for some reason people love to talk about. But Broward County and Dr. Brenda C. Snipes executed another shameful fumbling of our election results at just at the right time, and the South Florida Roundup needed to devote the Book Fair episode to the bungling of the recount, since it was history in the making.  As a Broward County resident, I ended up being conveniently booked as "the author who was also a Broward County resident." And as a longtime Broward Country resident who had lived through a number of years of Dr. Brenda C. Snipes, I had my opinions on the latest bungling, though I quickly decided it wouldn't matter what I thought, and therefore I wouldn't be sharing what I thought. Here's why I made that decision:


I'm not in the business of convincing people of things. If I were, I'd be a speechwriter or an evangelist or car salesman or a political pundit. I'm in the business of taking people to emotional places they can't get to on their own, kind of like an imagination pilot, or perhaps amusement park ride engineer for the mind. I make a living with intuition and introversion, with perception and feelings. I live in a borderline make-believe world, and if this sounds like mental illness, it's not. It's where writers live when they descend into the books they are writing, and if you write a lot, you pretty much live in an alternate universe, because when you aren't writing about your subject matter, you are thinking about it.  It's like "The Upside Down" from Stranger Things, only instead of being scary, it's the most interesting place in the world because you created it.


I decided that it would benefit no one to hear what I thought about a political matter. Everyone these days has a hand up like Horshack from the TV show, Welcome Back, Kotter, so sincerely eager to share their political opinions. Very few of these opinions end up doing anything more than wasting people's time. They just don't matter. Note: I remember only one thing about Welcome Back, Kotter, and that's Horshack. Horshack is Welcome Back Kotter's Smoot-Hawley Tariff. Again, too young to properly appreciate the subject matter.


My strategy for this  radio program, I decided, would be to ask intelligent questions and deflect, deflect, deflect, but as you'll see if you listen to the show, I don't think this happened. There was nothing to deflect, because Tom Hudson was so clever about asking  AP reporter Curt Anderson and Alan Dershowitz the real question involving explanation and interpretation. Tom Hudson gave author Nadine Gonzalez some doozies, but she was also an attorney so she could handle it. Tom lobbed me softballs all day long.


I remember three things from the show: getting extra meta about the show while I was on the show, thinking about all that went into making the microphones work, how the host and producer paid such close attention to the show timing that they used the NASA clock to time segments to the second, watching the host answer caller questions live, while also fielding the questions to the appropriate panelist while also sounding 100% Rico Suave at all times. All while onstage live without saying  "um" once, and I must add that as soon as I thought of him not saying "um" I worried that it would give me "Um Tourettes" and I would only be able to say "um" from that point on. I had trouble turning that one off. Thanks, OCD.


I also recall hoping that my underwear wasn't visible from under my mini-dress while onstage. 


And finally, I remember that at one point I got caught up in the discussion, briefly forgot my previous resolve and accidentally expressed a tiny sliver of opinion about the Broward Country Supervisor of Elections. What resulted was a swift smack down of me by Alan Dershowitz as if he were playing a game of Whack-a-Mole. I do remember that, indeed, and it wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be.


But like I said, I'll try anything once except heroin and sky diving. 


Guest on political radio show with Alan Dershowitz? Check.

Here's a link to the show: The South Florida Roundup



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