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Avenue Magazine Column

Caveat Emptor

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Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, master of the 15th and early 16th centuries, recently resurfaced as a 21st-century bonanza. Salvator Mundi, a secondary early Renaissance painting by the master, repainted extensively in our century, sold for $450 million to a buyer bidding for the quaint little fortress of Abu Dhabi. It’s to be put on permanent display in its not-so-quaint (nor little) Western art museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, in perhaps the most stupendous example of ego-driven activity in the history of the art market. More than art, this new Louvre displays most of all the need to pay more than one’s neighbor for freshly minted contemporary art.

Mundi, contemporary by virtue of its restoration, has been sufficiently repainted to be classified a 21st-century masterpiece. Or perhaps its status derives from the price paid by a secondary Gulf state for a secondary rendition of Jesus “attributed” to the greatest artist of his time (and the greatest restorers of ours).

Now, that’s a market!

Thus, the reigning top echelon of the art world, the ego-driven sector where the 1 percent (sovereign division) and the 1 percent (wealthy division) raise their hands to show their mine’s-bigger importance, becomes the laughingstock of serious art connoisseurs. Not only because of the excessive pricing, but also because much of what they buy isn’t even first-rate. Well, okay, it’s not first-rate art but it is first-rate marketing.

Wealth is not typically a product of stupidity, nor do its possessors wish to be viewed as fools. But when mockery reveals yesterday’s ego-driven one-upmanship as today’s buffoonery, some of the less-stupid actors start getting the point.

The ego market is the art market we read about. Clearly, it’s been going up, but in the last few years the broader art market has been going down and suffering a secret liquidity crisis. The buffoon-driven market is sure to fall, too, and soon.

The sources of capital for high profile purchases are drying up. Mega-wealthy Chinese collectors openly admit they will no longer raise their paddles at Western art auctions. Money export controls and fear of government retribution have made public displays of ostentation serious no-nos in the People’s Republic.

Russian sanctions current and future, a stumbling economy, and increased scrutiny of money laundering have all but ended high-profile Russky art buying, too. In fact, Roman Abramovich, the biggest Russian buyer of Western contemporary art, and considered a close collaborator of Putin, has checked out of the market along with most of his oligarch comrades.

The professional speculators pulling the strings of the buffoons are savvy. They lead the market—they don’t follow it. The Warhol-Basquiat-Wool-Prince cabal have been selling on balance for quite a while, counting on dupes outnumbering sellers to ensure their continued profits. Unlike auction houses, dealers have had neither the liquidity nor the bad sense to allow participation in the battles of the buffoons—and they will not start now.

Then, there are the genuine collectors. One of our wealthiest hedge fund managers, who is also a great collector, committed to art but savvy as to markets, has been a constant seller in the last year or so. If I were to bet on anyone being right on the market, he’s my man.

The top of the art market is due for a serious correction, and a drying up of liquidity not dissimilar to its 1989–1995 crisis, when art prices grew by more than 150 percent before sharply declining, setting off several years of stagnation that left dealers and auction houses staggering. The market as a whole has been down for at least three years. One missing bidder saying no might move the market to calamity. A night of guarantees hit can turn the whole upper market on its bottom.

Factor buy-ins at auction and the poor performance of private secondary market sales into the art indexes, and one sees a continuous downward trend. But it will take a market crisis of duration to bring the markets back. Over 50 percent of the world’s galleries are said to lose money. The gallery-closing velocity increases markedly month by month. And the real storm has yet to begin.

Trump and his coterie have no interest in art. Donald prefers the big, fake Renoir hanging in his apartment to the real deal in the Art Institute of Chicago. Cuts in federal spending for the arts, the adverse effects of the new tax bill and the plain old bad taste of our leader and his gnomes have already begun to injure the art world.

Trump is in good company, at least. Crooks, fraudsters, fakers, defaulters, forgers, and criminals abound. To quote Judge Charles Edward Ramos of the N.Y. State Supreme Court in the case of Sotheby’s v. Shagalov: “I have never seen an industry more ripe with fraud and misconduct than the art business. To say there’s such a thing as artistic ethics is an oxymoron. Most of the cases I’ve had involving art dealers involve fraud outright, just plain old fraud.”

At my art advisory company, we receive more and more inquiries as to the efficacy of transactions and the honesty and ethics of dealers. The feds and local constabulary are onto the bad art crowd. The media is hungry for these stories. This is not a short-term plus for the market but, instead, a long-term cleanup that will bring transparency and disclosure and a rebirth for markets, collectors, connoisseurs and art lovers.

 

Read More at Avenue Magazine

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Breaking News

April 1, 2018

The end buyer of Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi’, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, whose regime was criticized for the purchase, quickly traded the work to Mohammed Bin Zayed, defecto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, for a large yacht. A great idea for some of the other players in the “ego-market”. Just think one can trade for large houses in the Hamptons, Aspen, Palm Beach or even a simple apartment on the 100th floor of a NYC 57th street condominium. Finally, a rational reason for buying modest works of art at immodest prices. Does this foretell the next bull market, probably not!

How did this remarkable event transpire? It seems that both Mohammed Bin Salman and Mohammed Bin Zayed were concerned that their enemy, the Qatar royal family, headed by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, would be the buyer of “Salvator Mundi”. As the rulers of Saudi and Abu Dhabi did not discuss the matter between themselves, they ended up bidding against each other rather than against Qatar. The Al Thanis had actually been offered the painting a year earlier for 80 million but decided against purchasing the work – could it have been the extent of the restoration? The Saudis and Abu Dhabis, while trying to enforce sanctions imposed on Qatar actually bought “Salvator Mundi” for 450 million. “Wealth is not typically a product of stupidity…” This case, an exception? Perhaps mockery and the humor of “Salvator Mundi” purchase will remind the more intelligent players in the ego directed market of its risks.

A.E.

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Trump to Impose Stiff Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum

APTOPIX GOP 2016 Trump

Dear All,

We are witnessing the beginning of the end of America’s participation in international trade. The buoyant economy we have experienced since 2010 will shortly come to an abrupt halt with cost and price increases throughout the system and incomes in decline – An economic catastrophe in the making.

Asher Edelman

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WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Thursday that he will impose stiff and sweeping tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum as he moved to fulfill a key campaign promise to get tough on foreign competitors.

Mr. Trump said he would formally sign the trade measures next week and promised they would be in effect “for a long period of time.” The trade measures would impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. It is unclear whether those would apply to all imports or be targeted toward specific countries, like China, which have been flooding the United States with cheap metals.

The announcement capped a frenetic and chaotic morning inside the White House as Mr. Trump summoned more than a dozen executives from the steel and aluminum industry to the White House, raising expectations that he would announce his long-promised tariffs. However, the legal review of the trade measure was not yet complete and, as of Thursday morning, White House advisers were still discussing various scenarios for tariff levels and which countries could be included, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

Advisers have been bitterly divided over how to proceed on the tariffs, including whether to impose them broadly on all steel and aluminum imports or whether to tailor them more narrowly to target specific countries like China. Imposing tough sanctions would fulfill one of the president’s key campaign promises but could tip off trade wars around the globe as other countries seek to retaliate against the United States.

Gary D. Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, had been lobbying for months alongside others, including Defense Secretary James Mattis and Rob Porter, the staff secretary who recently resigned under pressure from the White House, to kill, postpone, or at least narrow the scope of the measures, people familiar with the discussions said.

But in recent weeks, a group of White House advisers who advocate a tougher posture on trade has been in ascendance, including Robert Lighthizer, the country’s top trade negotiator, and Peter Navarro, a trade skeptic who had been sidelined but is now in line for a promotion.

The departure of Mr. Porter, who organized weekly trade meetings and coordinated the trade advisers, and the breakdown of the typical trade advisory process has helped create a chaotic situation in which those opposing factions are no longer kept in check. The situation had descended into utter chaos and an all-out war between various trade factions, people close to the White House said.

“Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter Thursday morning. “We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!”

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The White House has come to the brink of announcing these measures several times in the past eight months, including last June. In recent days, the president appears to have grown impatient for action. In the past few days, supporters of the tariffs have also begun airing televised ads during programs that Mr. Trump has been known to watch.

But foreign governments, multinational companies and the Pentagon have continued to lobby against the measure, arguing that the proposed tariffs could disrupt economic and security ties.

Mr. Trump’s announcement came on the same day that senior administration officials are scheduled to meet with China’s top economic adviser, Liu He. The White House has been eager to clamp down on Chinese imports and has several trade measures underway.

The investigation, which was launched under an obscure measure of the trade law called Section 232, has focused on whether imports were compromising American national security by degrading the industrial base. In a report released to the public in February, the Commerce Department concluded that imports were a national security threat.

The Trump administration has already issued tariffs — it imposed restrictions on foreign washing machines and solar panels in January — but trade analysts said the announcement on steel and aluminum could be the broadest and most significant measure yet from an administration that has vowed to take a substantially different tack on trade.

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Armed to the milk teeth: America’s gun-toting kids

Dear Friends,

Perhaps this Guardian Article will drive home the insanity of the N.R.A, weapon production and promotion in America today.

Asher Edelman

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 11.35.24 AMAvailable in bright blues and hot pinks, rifles for kids sell in their thousands in America. They look like toys – but they’re lethal. An-Sofie Kesteleyn travelled to photograph this juvenile army

 

by 

In May last year, a two-year-old girl was shot dead by her five-year-old brother with a small rifle made specifically for children. The accidental shooting happened in Cumberland County, Kentucky, when the boy was playing with a gun purchased from a company in Pennsylvania called Keystone Sporting Arms, which, in 2008, produced around 80,000 rifles for children. The guns, which sell under the model names Cricket and Chipmunk, were originally advertised on a “Kid’s Corner” on the company’s website (it has since been removed), which showed children firing them at rifle ranges and on hunting trips. The guns are produced in bright blue, pink and rainbow colours and marketed like toys, under the tag line “My First Rifle”.

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When the photographer An-Sofie Kesteleyn read about the story in De Volkskrant, the Dutch newspaper she works for, she began making plans for a trip to the American south. “I wanted to go and search for these families who bought guns as presents for their young children,” she says. “I began by visiting a rifle range in Ohio, where children are taught to shoot, then travelled down through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana. What I found was that there are loads of children out there in America with their own guns, but not that many parents who are happy to have their kids’ portraits taken with those guns.”

Kesteleyn’s series, My Little Rifle, consists of only 15 portraits, but they provide a powerful and disturbing glimpse of a much bigger gun culture. Last year, the series was chosen for the World Press Photo’s prestigious Joop Swart Masterclass.

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“I went to gun shops and shooting ranges just talking to people,” Kesteleyn explains. “What I came away with was the sense that there was a lot of fear and paranoia among the adults, and that fear was handed down to the children along with the guns. The children have childlike imaginations and the usual childhood fears – zombies, monsters and wild beasts. They are not born with these adult fears; they are infected with them.”

Kesteleyn photographed the children in their bedrooms, amid dolls’ houses and soft toys. Most of them hold the guns casually, but some strike a tough-looking adult pose. Alongside the portraits, Kesteleyn has included drawings the children made of the things they most feared: spidery outlines of werewolves and wild animals. “My biggest fear is a bear,” wrote Benjamin, aged seven, “because if you get in their territory, they will chase you for a long time.” Eight-year-old Abby wrote: “What I am freaked out by is seeing a dinosaur.”

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On her journey, Kesteleyn encountered “mostly ordinary families who loved their kids and trained them to use the guns safely and responsibly”. Nevertheless, she remained bemused and disturbed. “The adults talked about protection all the time. They believe that you have to have guns to protect yourself from the other bad people out there with guns who want to do you harm.”

Some encounters have lingered in her head. “I remember this very young girl who was really tired and worn out after her shooting practice, and that just seemed very sad somehow.” At another girl’s eighth birthday party, which was held at the local shooting range, Kesteleyn even tried out the child’s new pink rifle. “They do feel like toys,” she says, “and the bullets are really small – but they can kill another child.”

The Guardian

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Rose Hartman, the “Relentless” Photographer of Studio 54 Excess, Refuses to Slow Down

Rose Hartman - Donna Karan's 5 easy pieces

)tis Mass, who directed a documentary about her in 2016, called her “incomparable.” Asher Edelman, whose gallery in his ever-ascending East 70th Street townhouse is now exhibiting her work, dubbed her “infamous.”

But what adjective would Rose Hartman use to describe herself? “Relentless.”

The octogenarian photographer, who captured Bianca Jagger atop a horse at Studio 54 and Lou Reed chatting with Andy Warhol, cannot be stopped, not even by a recent ankle injury that’s put her in physical therapy. In addition to the Edelman exhibit, recently extended through February 28, she is currently working to secure a museum show, getting ready for an auction of her work in Paris in early March, and preparing a new book, tentatively titled Rose Hartman: In Pursuit of Style.

Where she finds that style these days, however, isn’t in the models and stars who once inspired her. “Lately I’ve been shooting windows,” she says from the floor of her studio apartment while adjusting the Velcro strap on an elastic ankle brace. “I’m calling the series ‘Femme Fatales.’ These windows to me equal total fantasy. The window wants to draw you, the passerby, into the shop. The lighting, the clothing, the objects—window displays are definitely an art.”

With this new series, a fantasy world devoid of flesh, blood, sweat, and tears, it’s easy to infer that Hartman is looking to recapture a particularly excessive fabulousness rarely seen on living contemporary mortals; an over-the-top, peacocked bedazzlement immortalized in her first book, 1980’s Birds of Paradise: An Intimate View of the New York Fashion World.

Hartman is vocal about her disappointment in the current crop of “It girls” and next-gen catwalkers. “Models nowadays are so boring. I can’t believe it,” she says. How can they be more super, you dare ask? “I think they have to have what is known as a personality.”

Is “Femme Fatales” an anthropological lament for larger-than-life glam, now confined, if not within the frames on her wall or in coffee-table books, than to sterile glass boxes? “We’d have to call a psychoanalyst, but I think you have a point,” she says.

The Edelman exhibit, featuring roughly two dozen of Hartman’s most iconic images, allows a glimpse through Hartman’s lens at the upper echelons of fashion, film, art, and music, in all their striking, candid glamour during the heyday of Studio 54.

Rose Hartman - Bianca Jagger

“It was a beyond fascinating time, almost impossible to describe,” says Hartman from inside her charming West Village apartment, where a visit is sure to include a last-minute plea to fix a distressed bedside lamp or a wobbly, pre-war doorknob. Though Rose can wax on rather poetically about her time elbowing her way into Studio and dancing the night away, she’d rather point a frustratingly ignorant millennial visitor towards Ian Schrager’s recently released, hardcover tome, Studio 54 (Rizzoli), which conveniently lounges within arm’s reach and paints a rather lucid picture of Studio’s past, present, and future significance. Hartman has a dozen images in the book, she’ll have you know (especially as you’re lingering anywhere else within its confines), alongside many other great photographers. Bob Colacello, who wrote the book’s forward, once called Hartman’s close-to-transcendent image of Bianca Jagger the venue’s most defining image.

Hartman’s ankle injury (a screw came loose from a previous surgery) didn’t keep her from strolling by Bergdorf’s or Saks Fifth Avenue over the holidays, or swimming laps at her local Equinox. But it’s temporarily slowed her down, a frustrating reality for a person whose will, mind, and eye are as sharp as ever. “I used to walk all day, whether in Paris or London,” she says. “I was never someone who just liked to sit in a café. I liked to peer into an alley or window and watch the people go by. Now I have to do a lot less of it and it’s very difficult for me.”

The injury resulted in an upcoming auction and joint exhibit of more than 250 of Hartman’s images at Paris’s esteemed Hôtel Drouot being pushed back to March. By then she hopes to be able to traverse the City of Lights in sensible New York City gear and visit her favorite museum, the European Museum of Photography in the Marais, also her dream exhibition space. “Every time I’m in Paris I go to that museum,“ says Hartman with the earnest pride of a well-seasoned aesthete and a humble pilgrim’s relentless determination. “I would describe it as a more intimate museum as opposed to the Louvre, which I would never walk into. I cannot bear to be surrounded by 10,000 people who know nothing about art searching for the Mona Lisa.

by Kurt McVey at Vanity Fair

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TRUMPED UP

 

pursed lips

 

You know the word trumpery has been around since 1456. I am surprised that it is not now in more common usage.

Trumpery 1456

“deceit, trickery,” from M.Fr tromperie (15c.), from tromper “to deceive”, of uncertain origin.

Spelling influenced by trump (v.). Meaning “showy but worthless finery” is first recorded in 1610.
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The Great Dictator

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Dear All,
My friend Steven McClymont wrote, quite rightly so, that Trump is so foul he couldn’t find the humor in my last email. He said “it’s like making a joke out of Hitler’s mustache.” Constructively, he sent Charlie Chaplin’s final speech from “The Great Dictator”.
Worth a serious read.
 
“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
 
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….
 
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world – millions of despairing men, women, and little children – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.
 
To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. …..
 
Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!
In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.
Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!
 
Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!
 
Final speech from The Great Dictator Copyright © Roy Export S.A.S. All rights reserved
 
Current

The Day Donald Trump First Became a Stable Genius

Dear All,

If he wasn’t so sick and dangerous this would even be funnier but have a good chuckle.

-Asher

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 at The Washington Post January 12 at 2:28 PM 

“….Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star…..

….to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!”

— President Trump

 

When the American people voted unanimously to declare Donald Trump a genius (this is what it means to be elected president on your first try), at first, he did not feel any different.

The shape of his thoughts in his head felt roughly the same, and when the sentences formed they did not appear to weigh any more than they had weighed before.

He was sitting in Trump Tower idly looking over at the bookcase when he suddenly noticed that some of the words on it were not “TRUMP.” He did not remember having noticed that before. Curious, he stepped closer and began to read. One of the books was in German. He loved reading German, he discovered. He loved reading, full stop.

He read all the books, ravenously, so quickly he could scarcely believe it. By 4 a.m. he had read everything there was to read in Trump Tower (in fairness, there was not much to read in Trump Tower) and had to call out for more books. Encyclopedias. Histories. Memoirs.

He read them all until his eyes watered and his head ached.

Before, he had felt vaguely confident that if he ever sat down and thought about it he would probably be able to grasp the concept of special relativity. Now, finally, he sat down and thought about it. He did not immediately grasp it, which surprised him, until he realized that he had to learn the mathematics in which it was grounded first.

By lunch he had it figured out.

He built several ant farms, each with a different model of government, to see which would run the most efficiently. He learned the word “syzygy.” He read “Ulysses” and the entire critical apparatus.

“Did you know,” he said to Ivanka, when she joined him for lunch, “that the heartbeat of a mouse is 650 beats per second?”

“No,” she said.

“That must be so fast,” he went on. “Like a buzz, almost.”

“Yeah,” Ivanka said, looking a little worried.

•••

No one around him noticed the change immediately.

His team came in and said that he had lots of great ideas and the best brain, but then one of them tried to distract him with what was clearly a child’s coloring puzzle.

“You have a lot of letters praising your performance yesterday,” someone said.

He looked at what she was handing him.

“Those aren’t letters,” he said, faintly. “Those are – you just printed out some stuff from the website for ‘Fox and Friends.’”

Everyone exchanged a concerned glance, which he picked up on, and he quickly found an excuse to leave the room.

Had the people around him always been so … distinctly underwhelming? Trump wondered. He went to the window and looked down. There were several protesters with signs that contained obvious solecisms. This was a word he understood now.

At least he had Steve Bannon, who was definitely an intellectual. Or he always looked rumpled, which seemed like much the same thing.

“Send in Steve,” he said.

Bannon came in, and Trump was excited to finally be sitting there, head to head, with a fellow genius.

But when Bannon opened his mouth, none of the things that came out made any sense.

“Steve,” Trump said, “talk like you usually talk.”

“I am,” Bannon said.

Trump blinked repeatedly. “No,” he said. “Usually you sound smart, and now you sound like someone dumped out the contents of some rejected Wikipedia pages onto the floor at random. Speak like Thomas Cromwell, although, ha ha, before the beheading.”

“Thomas Cromwell was beheaded?” Bannon asked.

Trump blinked levelly at him, and soon Bannon thought up a reason to go away.

Trump looked over his speeches again.

“Have they always been so … racist?” he asked, quietly.

“What?” Steve Miller said.

Jared Kushner pushed the door open.

“I am going to solve the conflict in the Middle East,” he said.

Trump sighed loudly.

He called for a hot towel and put it on his forehead and went to bed early.

•••

The next morning was distinctly unpleasant. An aide came in and turned on his shows, as usual.

A few minutes in, he became agitated. “What is this?” he kept saying. “This is for imbeciles. Why have you taken away the intellectually stimulating show I usually watch and replaced it with this?”

“You love this show,” Hope Hicks said reassuringly. “You watch it every day.”

“I can’t possibly watch this every day,” Trump said. “This is tripe. Also, why does everyone keep sending me steaks that are cooked to the consistency of vulcanized rubber? Only an idiot would order steak cooked that way.”

No one made eye contact with him, but that night for what they claimed was no particular reason his entire family showed up.

“Ha,” Trump said, “Look, it’s a community production of ‘The Lion In Winter.’” He laughed long and hard. Don Jr. laughed immediately and Eric did not laugh at all. Ivanka and Jared looked nervous and exchanged a glance.

“Lion?” Eric said. “Where?”

“It’s not about actual lions,” Trump said, “Obviously, it’s symbolism.”

“SIMBA-lism,” Melania said.

Trump looked at her and they shared a brief smile.

•••

His daily routine began to grate on him. All the television and the sitting. There were no books in most of his rooms, and all information presented to him was in the form of pictures. This newfound genius and stability just made him worried and indignant all the time, and none of the food he felt he ought to eat tasted good at all. His people were not what he had hoped. His agenda seemed haphazard at best and misguided at worst.

His head ached all the time. Once he used his excess mental energy to tip over a glass, but nobody gave him any credit for it. Just for kicks, he raised and lowered the flag on the Interior Department so that it appeared Ryan Zinke was there when in fact he was NOT but that was not as much fun as anticipated. Everything began to wear on him. He could not sit through international summits. Everyone spoke too slowly.

Gradually he tried to move things that were bigger and bigger. By the end of the first week he was able to knock rockets out of the sky. He sent a tweet about it, but nobody understood that this was what he was trying to say. All the TV ever seemed to show was people closely misreading his tweets. It was miserable. It was a nightmare.

Maybe, he thought, he would wake up and everything would be back to the way it was, and he would still know he was smart without having to see the people who said so. Maybe, if he just used all his brainpower, he could restore the world to the way it was before. Maybe all he had to do was concentrate.

I’m not sure what happened after that, or how he currently spends his days. One set of rumors was recently published as a book. But we know better than to believe it.