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Frank Noir in the Devil's Workshop

House of Cards Season 1 review and comment + antidote:

The good Frank rules over the bad Frank as God rules over man
Good Frank/Bad Frank
I wrapped up watching season 1 of HOC last weekend (and yes I know I'm 3 years late) - I had been holding out on this particular program for one specific reason - I hate fake Presidents. I mean, I really hate them. The liberal/progressive fake Presidents (Andrew Shepard* or Josiah "Jed" Bartlet) serve as a crutch for disaffected looser voters who didn't get their way from 1968-2008 and in that 40 year drought, when the US was lead by GOP crooks and Southern moderates, these bleeding heart moralising fakes were all the hand-wringers had to hold on to - there only "Hope" as it were. Lefties in LA and NYC created a fully developed alternative universe where what was actually happening in the United States wasn't happening, where a strong liberal visionary President grabbed the reigns of power and put the racist/sexist/capitalist/ist-ist's in their place and made them suffer for their sins. These fake Presidents didn't want contrition or healing or honest debate - Their opponents faced humiliation, shunning and imprisonment - even accidental death for their hypocrisy or stupidity or evil motives which is the only reason these cardboard antagonists do anything at all. But what happens when a candidate calculation like Bill McKayJay Bulworth ÷ Chauncey Gardiner x Tom Beck2  = 0 and he actually wins this thing? Now it's "their guy" on the hot seat and when his fanny gets 3rd degree burns there's no fake President to ease the pain - the horrible, horrible pain.

Bill McKay + Jay Bulworth ÷ Chauncey Gardiner x Tom Beck2  = 0
Bill McKay + Jay Bulworth ÷ Chauncey Gardiner x Tom Beck2  = 0

Answer: Fake Congressman.

If Beau Willimon can't blame the President for all that's wrong with America then he can create an alternate universe where congress (the House of Representatives specifically) is the villain - especially after the 2010 elections. It's not bad, not bad at all and some of it is damn good - regardless of weather it's good or bad, it's an achievement to bring this world to life and for that Beau Willimon, David Fincher, Kevin Spacey, et al deserve an ovation of some kind. Having said that there are a few things about the show that don't add up and yes, there are "spoilers", but I think these comments will enhance, not detract, from the overall viewing experience because like all these Fake President movies/TV shows you've got to read between the lines. I've said it all before, but here we go again.

  • There's no fucking way a Democrat would threaten collective bargaining in an education bill and there's no way it would get signed into law by getting under a Union lobbyists skin by calling him a daego. The whole education bill MacGuffin is annoying because the ACA(Obamacare) was just sitting there like a great big juicy apple waiting for someone with courage to take a bite - Cowards!
  • The Democrat leadership has a direct line to the editors of the NYTimes, Wapo, Politico, etc. + the weekly/monthly opinion rags + the networks - basically the whole MSM infrastructure. When they want to sink a nominee they get a story planted from the top - they don't hand it to a blogger and hope it gets picked up (that's a back-bencher move).
  • Staffers do get hired by K Street, but only so that they can set up meetings for the REAL lobbyists to get a foot in the door - these REAL lobbyists are great guys and gals who help the politicians understand what they're doing and do their best to mitigate the incredible damage the Federal Government wants to inflict on the population.
  • NGO's have A LOT of levers to pull and buttons to push to get their water pumps out of the 3rd world warehouse - they don't go running to Oil & Gas for help.
  • No one who's been sober in AA for 14 years would do what Doug did to Russo.
  • No Senator would allow the President to elevate the House Whip to VP - Dick Cheney is the only one who ever made it and he had to prove himself as Sec. of Defense and CEO of Haliburton before getting the nod. 
With all these implausible plot devices it's amazing that this mess holds together, but it does. Why?

Frank Underwood - A sociopath who, from time to time, turns and speaks to the wall blurting out id, ego, and super-ego in a mad soliloquy that would get him locked up if he worked anywhere other than Capitol Hill. Kevin Spacey breaths life into this dying engine and tugs all the box cars down the track.
Proverbs 16:27-29 (KJV)
27 An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.
28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.
It's important (to me at least) to note that there is NO CREATURE like Frank Underwood in the 21st century congress - the last "liberal" cracker Dixiecrat who held a leadership position in the Democrat party resigned in disgrace in 1989. Frank is a manifestation of the lefts favorite dead horse which is a lot more satisfying to beat than a socialist from Michigan or a priest from California both of whom would be a better model for a contemporary FU. Be that as it may, Frank is what they give us so Frank is what we've got. As a character Frank's not entirely bad and will, when necessary, lower himself:
Season 1, Chapter 1 - to kill a wounded dog
Season 1, Chapter 2 - to comfort a howling vagrant handcuffed to a post
Season 1, Chapter 3 - to pick tulips
Season 1, Chapter 4 - to smoke
Season 1, Chapter 5 - to offer a razor
Season 1, Chapter 6 - to give a hand job to a dying man (Frank acting through Claire)
Season 1, Chapter 7 - to eat pussy
Season 1, Chapter 8 - to reminisce about his alma mater with his former boyfriend
Season 1, Chapter 9 - to play video games
Season 1, Chapter 10 - to play chess
Season 1, Chapter 11 - to drive
Season 1, Chapter 12 - to eat bacon
Season 1, Chapter 13 - to pray - to himself
But most of the time he's a scheming creep and I really don't care if he get popped in the eye by a union thug or sex preds a nymph journalist or is too close to a suspicious suicide. He's beyond redemption and his failure preordained - I'm just watching the train wreck happen in super slow motion (and it's beautiful).

Claire Underwood - Bullseye!!! Direct hit - there are women all over Georgetown and Woodley Park buckled over and sucking air after getting kicked in the taco by this... this... (what the hell do you even call it?) this channeling of pure DC Duchess. This is what happens to Buttercup after putting up with Sean Penn's bullshit for 20 years (Argh, men of the left) - all the arguments, the shattered dreams the shear pig headedness and thoughtlessness beats a woman down, down, down. Robin Wright has soul and I don't know who in the alfaAssociation/Foundation/NGO/Nonprofit world pissed her off but she's burning them alive in a fire of truth. Her confrontation with an indignant crone during her daily jog in an early episode and her confessional with the maternity doctor at seasons end are powerful bookends to every page turned during Season 1. The dialectic between Claire and Gillian Cole (the anti-Claire) is brilliant and provides some of the most profound moments in the series. There are probably millions of HOC fans who don't truly appreciate or fully comprehend the artistic achievement of Claire for unless they live in DC Metro they'll never come face to face with this particular (and unique) species but for those of us who have lived in "The Land of a Thousand Claires" Robin Wright is deserving of every accolade and award. If I do eventually watch season 2, 3, X it will be to see if Claire finds a way out.

What 20+ years of Sean Penn's bullshit will do to you

The best of the rest:
Doug Stamper - The greatest argument against term limits is that individual Congressmen are not the problem - it's the permanent bureaucracy populated by their psycho staff which runs Congress.
Zoe Barnes - Implausible but not impossible - Student council president shags freshman reporter at the Crimson? Maybe.
Peter Russo - How many Freshman Congressmen are bald? Answer: None
Gillian Cole - A brilliant/sexy multcult/activist/single mother Frank-enstein "poster child" who hasn't yet figured out who made her and sustains her.
Garrett Walker - Milktoast technocrat doppelgänger to Obama's white half - proof positive that BHO never would have been elected sans the melanin.
Remy Danton - Dark (literally), mysterious and duplicitous with complete focus on his bottom line i.e. a lobbyist. William “Mo” Cowan looks like he's a lot more fun to hang out with - also, he's real.
Raymond Tusk - The "oracle of St. Louis" is a binary machine (yes or no answers) who's playing a much bigger game than the ones Frank waists time on.

If you keep everything I've written above (and in the past) in mind I would say House of Cards Season 1 is deserving of 55 balloons on the KOTCB worth-watching scale (and that's damn good). If you do not heed my words and don't adjust your rose colored glasses you might come away from HOC a little depressed with the ominous title imagery flashing in your minds eye and the sickening feeling that you're ruled by cunning, manipulative scum. You're not and I offer you more than hope - I know how to set you right.

The Antidote

Spin some vinyl and listen to the real deal - Charles Thompson aka Black Francis aka Frank Black. This is the good Frank who lives in the real world with a wife and children playing music and working at his craft. Where does his music come from?
"I think it comes from a more sensual place. It’s more about the pleasure. It may use aggressive or dramatic energy, but the force…. From an emotional point of view, it doesn’t feel like anger to me. Of course, it’s not all conscious. A lot of it is very hypnotic. It comes from a place that is not intellectual. It comes from a place that is more about emotion, about expressing, about allowing something to be without analyzing it. I’m in a trance. It’s hypnosis. I can’t give you the correct analysis of where it all comes from. It comes from some primal, deep, raw place. If I try to intellectualize it too much, then it starts to sound like a lie."
To combat HOC depression syndrom I recommend Devil's Workshop by Frank Black and the Catholics - a masterpiece released on the world in the early years of the millennium that not only holds up, but grows better and better with each passing year. Recorded live with a two-track recorder here are 11 songs to clear your head and reconnect you with what matters or doesn't matter in the world. This is true Rock/Alt/Country at it's unrefined best and represents a world far removed from the DC Inferno. Each tune is unique and stands alone but bundled together - the way they used to do it in the LP days - the full story is told. Oh, to hear Claire say, "I'm flyin' away, flyin' away to the Fields of Marigold and I'm never coming back."



"Goodbye, I'm blowing a kiss to you
So long, wonderful being you
Goodnight, we'll soon be sleeping on
the fields of marigold"


* I know that referencing The American President risks breaking the KOTCB lifetime pass bestowed upon Rob Reiner for This Is Spinal Tap but I am focused here on Aaron Sorkin, Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Michael J. Fox and Richard Dreyfuss none of whom have a lifetime pass (no, not even for Falling Down). Meathead will never be clownified - period.  Notes on The American President from Wikipoo:
The screenplay, which writer Aaron Sorkin told TV Guide he wrote while often high on crack cocaine, inspired many aspects of his television drama The West Wing. The two productions follow the staff of a largely idealized White House, and like many of Sorkin's projects, share ideologies. Even the set of the Oval Office in The American President was later used in The West Wing.


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