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Ophidia in Herba: Thoughts On Gov. Snake Wrangler

Monday, April 20th, 2015

jerrybrownkillsrattlerThe last we checked, Jerry Brown had 3,563 likes, 218 shares and scores of comments on the Facebook photo he proudly posted on Saturday of himself overpowering a snake.

A cross between American Gothic and Genesis 3:14, the picture apparently was snapped at Governor Gandalf’s spread up in Colusa County, where the stick he wielded to nail the unfortunate rattler probably doubles as a dowsing rod to scare up some scarce water.

Over on Brown’s FB page, the key concern among his digital friends was if he killed or merely trapped the critter.

Others viewed the image as a sign he should seek the presidency, while many more seized the chance to make utterly obvious and predictable jokes equating the serpent with the GOP. Ha, ha.

A Derrida style deconstruction: Shallow and trivial by nature, Calbuzz at first glance did not zoom in on the weighty symbolism of Brown’s macho man-vs-nature posture. however; rather we were more struck by how he, um, costumed himself for the rigors of the outdoors.

That shirt, for starters. Brown’s look calls to mind the famous photo of Richard Nixon strolling the beach in black wingtips: surely Gandalf was the only one of Colusa’s 21,419 denizens to awaken on a weekend morning and think, “You know what would look so good for a day spent tramping my rugged, rural estate? A blue oxford button-down, that’s what! Slip the smartphone in my breast pocket and I’m good to go.” (Secret memo to Anne: is that bay window at Brown’s belly a six-pack, or should you start buying his shirts a half-size bigger?)

PortraitThe governor’s thick-soled hiking shoes seem sensible enough, if brand new, but the less said about his choice of trousers the better: being the skinflint he is, we’re betting he took advantage of a J. C. Penney two-for-one offer on Cherokee Unisex Drawstring Pants, $15 the pair.

And then, of course, that hat. From afar it appears to be a 30 UPF BugsAway Magellan’s model. Prudent enough, given Brown’s past brush with skin cancer. While it heeds travel tip conventional wisdom (“our hair provides some protection against UV rays, so if you have full head of thick hair you can get away with wearing lighter sun hats; those with less, or no hair, need to take more care in the sun…”) sadly, it also recalls P.J. O’Rourke’s famous men’s fashion dictum:

A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks more stupid than a hat.

So there’s that.

What others say: We were going to sponsor a caption contest on this, but then realized Brown’s FB friends have  pretty much plowed that ground. Here are the Top 10 comments on the photo from his page.

10- Get it, Sutter! – Ruth Knapp Vallejos

9- If you kill it, you’re a dick. – Eric Smith

8- I am calling photo shop on this. – Don Johnson

7- I hope you didn’t kill it…It had no plans to cause harm…Unlike Nestle and Fracking … Kill them…By all means. – Elizabeth McNally

6- New belt? – Vicente Matute Berganza

5- Love you Moonbeam. – Maria Luna

4- Plant hemp. Research and read what Washington and Jefferson said about this precious plant. Rain will come. – Deborah Sylvester

3-Where’s Anne, she ran in the house? I know I would of. – Joanne Valdivia

2-Straight gangsta. – Judas Ramirez

1-I hear it tastes like chicken. – Elizabeth Flynn

julia-louis-dreyfus-300x400The heart of the matter: As every school child knows, “Veep” is the greatest entertainment about politics and government since our late pal Rollin Post played himself as a debate moderator, upstaging Robert Redford in “The Candidate.”

The script for the HBO Sunday night series, now in its fourth season, is beyond superb, the ensemble acting is killer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing Vice-President (now President) Selina Meyer is the nonpareil Queen of Comedy.

So our Department of Fine Arts, Crossover Entertainment and Post-Sopranos TV Criticism was delighted to read, and to point our readers enthusiastically towards, an excellent New York Times Magazine piece on the program in which Sam Anderson, among other things, insightfully and incisively delineates the terrain which all political reporters worthy of the calling work tirelessly to describe:

The show draws most of its comic energy from the disjunction between public and private — the threshold, which a politician must cross hundreds of times every day, from reality to image: from the insecure, petty, foul-mouthed, power-hungry, private person to the bulletproof, platitudinous, smiling public figure. Selina pivots constantly between these two worlds.

Wish we’d said that.

Press Clips: Everything that’s wrong with journalism today – this.