I believe that even though it’s the oldest of old chestnuts in the newspaper business when an inky wretch is having a rough time meeting his or her genuflection quota to the great God of Journalism, Phil D. Hole, I will dust off the ol’ “I believe” clown car, fire it up and see where it takes me.

I believe there is no better smell in all the world than old books, a lifelong addiction that keeps The Observer rifling through pages at pretty much every moment when we’re not rifling through old bookstores and haunting book sales, even though our shelves back home in the parlor and study and specially constructed Reading Toilet of The Observatory are already groaning with enough tomes that I’ll never get ’em all read unless I live to a well-seasoned 306. I believe, however, that I will try.


I believe that if Donald Trump would crack a book every once in a while — a deep dive into macroeconomics, a Louis L’Amour novel, “The Joy of Sex,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” whatever — he maybe wouldn’t be such a heartless, ignorant shit. I believe books force us to inhabit the skin of others, and that action, by its very nature, helps us to understand the one bit of knowledge that can’t be imparted to a person in any other way: That other people aren’t just extras or supporting characters in the grand, D.W. Griffith Presents “Intolerance”-style production that is your life, but are human beings just like you, with dreams and aspirations and cereal preferences all their own, who walk around believing themselves to be the Meryl Streep or Mahershala Ali of their very own production.

I believe the chances of Donald Trump actually trying to inoculate himself against self-centered ignorance and the cruelty it often breeds is, at this late date, pretty much nil unless he’s visited by The Ghost of Christmas Future at some point. Barring that, I believe he’ll remain the same disgusting, proudly dumb bag of flatulence he has always been until they lower his gold-plated coffin into the clay, to the wailing of a gaggle of gold-digging Eurotrash mistresses and the smirks of several ex-wives.     


I believe that whoever collects boxes for the Central Arkansas Library System’s annual book sale had better check ’em over a bit better, given that when The Observer picked one recently to haul out our loot — a sturdy white banker’s box with handles on each end to better wrangle the heaving load of new adventures we had collected over the course of an hour — I got it home to discover a label on one end of the box with the carefully typed notation: “Personnel Files, Year 2000” followed by the names of two people and their full Social Security numbers.

I believe that of all the U.S. presidents Junior could idolize, it’s hellacious weird that he has picked jowly Texas hayseed Lyndon Baines Johnson, with Junior devouring enough books on LBJ to fill a Jacuzzi over the past year, and — for what might be the first time since he was maybe 12 years old — getting excited to the point of dancing from foot to foot about a family road trip when his mother suggested we motor on down to visit the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin this spring, despite The Observer’s blood oath some years back that the only way I would return to Texas is if Arkansas and Louisiana were rendered uninhabitable by some plague or nuclear fallout event. I believe I will have to break that oath, because I’ve never been able to deny that boy a damned thing since the moment he was pushed into this world, eyes open and hungry for every new experience.


I believe you shouldn’t ask Junior’s Old Man to explain any of it, because I can’t even begin to fathom the depths of that boy’s love for Lyndon Johnson, who — to hear him tell it — is clearly one of America’s least understood and most unsung political titans, not to mention way, way, waaaaaaay better at presidentin’ than JFK, and what fool would think otherwise? I believe when Junior writes his epic, three-volume re-evaluation of LBJ someday, the books that finally bring Daniel Day-Lewis out of retirement to win his umpteenth Oscar for “Lyndon,” maybe The Observer and Spouse can live in his pool house. Fingers crossed.  

I believe, given that I am writing this the morning after at least 49 people were shot dead at mosques in New Zealand (people with, as I’ve stated previously, dreams and aspirations and cereal preferences all their own, just like you), that I will never get used to waking up to this carnage. That said, I believe that New Zealand is about to show NRAmerica what a sane and rational country does about guns when someone uses them to commit unspeakable crimes, just as Australia did after Port Arthur in 1996.

I believe that here, meanwhile, it’s been 530 days since the massacre in Las Vegas and 2,282 days since the massacre at Sandy Hook, and we have done jack squat nothing except offer hollow prayers that only serve to echo our shame in the ears of the dead. And because there is nothing more to say on the subject, or a least nothing I can say that will make a damn bit of difference, I believe I’ll leave it at that.