Am not going to lie. When sitting in quiet contemplation, as I often do when asking myself on a weekly basis: “What do I have to share with The People that will edify, educate, or inspire?” I was tempted to do my dutiful gasbag best, and be the 457th hot take you read this week on Ron DeSantis’s failure to launch his own campaign on Twitter Spaces. I know that sounds like snide judgment against the 456 other hot-takers, and I don’t intend for it to.
I don’t mean to insult anyone, except maybe DeSantis, who deserves it. I realize we have been told to think of DeSantis and his failed Twitter sponsor, Elon Musk, as free-speech champions. And I’m 100 percent for free speech, don’t get me wrong. There’s probably no freedom I treasure more, as someone who likes to pop off whenever he wants, however he wants, with no restrictions. Never mind that both DeSantis and Musk champion free speech, while repeatedly refusing to honor it when people freely speak who they don’t want to hear from. In fact, they both actively suppress people saying things they don’t want to hear, just like the wokesters do. Proving yet again that the people who often protest most loudly against a particular sin are too often overcompensating for that iniquity in themselves. Think the anti-fornication preacher who is bonking the church secretary.
We have been conditioned, the last several years, to distrust all media and to think of contrarianism as the highest ideal. Which – and here is a genuine contrarian idea for you – is utter BS. Sometimes, everything you think you know is wrong. But more often, sometimes everything everyone is saying is right, because it is an obvious truth, which even room-temperature IQ observers can recognize. Just because the herd is saying something, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s false. The Ron DeSantis campaign is a disaster. I know it, you know it, Donald Trump knows it, and the American people know it, which is why DeSantis is sucking hind teat in the polls, even after being once-deigned the inevitable Trump-slayer. If you can’t beat a guy outright who is facing multiple indictments, who essentially just lost a judgment on committing sexual assault, who lies every time his lips move, who has lost Republicans multiple elections, and who tried good and hard to overthrow his own country with a coup attempt that threatened his own vice president’s life, well, maybe it’s time to stick with what you’re actually good at: doing what your wife tells you to do while minding your knitting by convincing gullible Florida Men that kicking the culture-war hornet’s nest every day somehow improves their lives. Is doing so going to get them discounts on neck tattoos or bail bondsmen or Fireball purchases? No, it won’t. But they don’t know that, so keep on keeping on as Florida governor, and waging war on Disney, because bringing the jackboot of government oppression down on private enterprise’s neck for politically disagreeing with you is now a conservative principle? I can’t even keep track of what my fellow conservatives believe anymore, because they change their minds so often according to whim and news-cycle convenience.
As regular readers know, I don’t care much for DeSantis (pronounced “Duhhhh-Santis,” instead of his lifelong preferred pronunciation of “Dee-Santis,” after his Lady Macbeth wife corrected him on how to pronounce his own name, because even he doesn’t know who he is). You can call him whatever you want – or what Trump calls him – “DeSanctimonius” (which is kind of clumsy and off-brand, since DeSantis doesn’t have a particularly strong moral center to be sanctimonious about) or “Meatball” (which even as a fellow Italian-American, makes me laugh – laughter is always good). But around these parts, I just call him “Nerf Trump.” Because that’s all he is - an empty suit with what the late great cultural observer Paul Fussell once termed “prole-jacket gape.” An insecure guy trying to play dress-up in his dad’s (Trump’s) clothes, hoping to coast in Trump’s slipstream on culture warrior-hood, without honestly challenging the Liar-in-Chief on anything meaningful. When DeSantis finally did find one-eighth of a testicle to criticize Trump the other day, what was it about? Not being loose enough on COVID measures. I.E., not killing enough people during the pandemic. Which is wrong, and I have to defend Trump here – a rarity for me – because he almost offed his own debate prepper, Chris Christie, with his COVID laxness.
But I just hinted I wouldn’t do another hot take on DeSantis, which I think I just did anyway. (Hypocrisy, thy name is “Matt Labash.”) Forgive me for lying to you. Though does that qualify me to run for higher office? A rhetorical question.
Switching gears entirely and abruptly: ever since I started this little enterprise, it’s been hard for me to walk a single block without getting stopped by random passersby, beseeching, “Matt, when are you going to start a merch store?” Though flattered, I think they’re probably confusing my name with Matt LeBlanc’s from Friends, even if I’m not positive Joey knows how to read, let alone write. But Slack Tide readers also occasionally harass me in the comments section about it, as my distinguished former colleague, David Tell, recently did: “Where’s the chum?......Subscribers need bumper stickers’n’shit: My children are in their 30s and I still won’t let them read Matt Labash. That kind of thing.”
As I shared with David, and am sharing with you now, since I’m a firm believer that sharing is caring, I’d fully intended to carry a line of Slack Tide-themed merch: everything from Yeti tumblers to adult onesies to “JVL is always right” tank tops, because I’m not afraid to steal from my good friends at The Bulwark. But like so much of our economy now, I’m experiencing supply-chain backups. Apparently, workers at the Vietnamese sweatshop that I contracted with have ceased production and are talking about unionizing. Why would they join a union? Good question - they’re only nine years old.
But considering the glacial pace at which I manage such setbacks (this is why I’m a one-man band - I can barely manage myself, let alone other people), we could still be years away on a merch store. Which is why I’m stealing somebody else’s. Or not stealing, exactly. Just buying it, to give away to a lucky reader who decides to take the paid subscription plunge between now and a week from now. It turns out, there’s a brewery in Cape May, New Jersey, called “Slack Tide.” I’ve had their beer – it’s pretty good. And I’ve worn their shirts, which are cleanly stylish. I have two of them. They run a little snug – I’m usually a large, I take an XL from their store. Maybe the little hulkster pythons have grown. (I’ve been doing lots of pushups lately. Also, lots of stress eating.)
But I’m not giving anyone the unlaundered shirt off my back, much as that would thrill many of the ladies, along with my gay readership, both of whom just wish to be close to my scent (which is best described as a country lane after a spring shower, mixed with Gillette Dri-Tech antiperspirant, “Cool Wave” edition). I’m only into standing naked before readers metaphorically. Instead, become a paid subscriber – that’s either $5 per month or $50 per year (the better deal for you non-math whizzes, as that’s only $4.16 per month – or a little under 14 cents per day). And you will be entered to win a Slack Tide t-shirt or hat in your size. Either, not both - I’m not made out of money. (And actually, the hats are all one size, but I’ll ask them if they have any stretched-out ones if you have an extra-large head.) Here are the shirts. Here are the hats.
Don’t ask me where they get their male models. I have no idea, and I don’t think I want to know from the looks of them. And if you subscribe during this same period under the $250 Founder’s tier, I will send you a shirt or hat automatically (your choice), out of the goodness of my heart. Since I’ll still be about 200 bucks in the black, after postage and Substack carrier fees, thanks to your generosity.
Personally, I think my own logo is sexier. I paid good money for it – or at least Substack did. But since beggars without merch stores can’t be choosers, we’ll go with what is available. If you wish to stencil “by Matt Labash” in after the brewery’s Slack Tide logo, I will appreciate your show of support, but will not be paying for your attorney fees if the brewery comes after you for copyright infringement.
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Bonus Track: Tina Turner left us this week at the tender age of 83. I won’t pretend like I was a fan of Turner’s ‘80s and onward stuff. Though I did like an occasional gem, like “I Don’t Wanna Fight,” mediocre hits like “What’s Love Got To Do With It” were so overplayed in my youth, if I never hear them again, I will still have had too much of them. But I LOVED me some Ike and Tina Turner together. Probably more than she did, since Ike was an unrepentant brute, who beat her like the village piñata. I’m glad she got away from him, and enjoyed the monster success she deserved on her own, while he suffered and did the long, slow fade-away. But that said, they made some beautiful music together in the midst of their horror show. During that time, Tina Turner had soul chops like very few others. Here’s one of my undersung favorites, “You Can Have It.” Her voice is gorgeous here:
Dear ML. Pls share thoughts on old JoeB and geriaticy (made up term for old Joe) in running for second term. Thank you.
Hey Matt, Fireball is good shit on a cold winter's day of steelheading.
Other than that, this piece is spot-on, per usual.