Back in 2010, an octopus named Paul correctly predicted the results of eight consecutive World Cup matches. They’d present him with two boxes of food, each with a different country’s flag, and the country he’d pick would win the game. Maybe they were rigging it by putting tastier food in the box of the team most likely to win, but it was a lot of fun. Every time he picked against a country, the people who lived there would get mad and call for Paul to be eaten. Papers would run things like “Receta Para Comer Al Pulpo Paul” and “Wirf ihn in die Pfanne.” Eventually, a few months out after correctly predicting Spain would win the final, he died of natural causes and nobody got to eat him. But it was good while it lasted.
I thought of these Paul recipes the other day when I saw an article in the Washington Post called “How to Torture Trump.” I didn’t read it, but I’m pretty sure I could figure out how to torture him. Pull his fingernails off? Cover him with fire ants? Sew his asshole shut and keep feeding him, and feeding him, and feeding him, in the words of that time-honored skit from the first Wu Tang album? (I get the sense the article was actually based on some kind of Rube Goldberg psychological plot bound to fall apart, like Michael’s plan in The Good Place.)
As horrific as our country’s actual history of torture is, the silliness of the premise tickled me. This is what we’re doing? It’s fun to imagine torturing people, or animals, or entities, when it’s not all that serious. That’s why The Itchy and Scratchy Show was so fun on The Simpsons, and why all those actual Looney Tunes shows it was based on existed in the first place. It’s also cathartic to imagine the tables turned on oppressors. So I get it. But as actual politics, it’s thin gruel. It’s a way to focus on one man and miss the texture of the nation’s disparities. I remember when renters in Queens were freaking about about being displaced by the Amazon deal, and the rich Manhattanites on SNL wrote a piece celebrating the move as a way for Jeff Bezos to win an ego war over Donald Trump. One billionaire pissing off another won’t make our society more just any more than cooking an octopus would have improved Argentina’s national soccer team. You actually need to fix the fundamentals.
Some of this revenge fantasy mindset still seems to be permeating the punditry as Democrats gear up to see if someone will actually beat Trump. They’re still framing it as a one-on-one contest – how do we make Trump the most mad? How do we get under his skin? Who can go toe-to-toe with him? But elections are not measured by the level of displeasure Trump experiences, they’re measured by a huge number of individuals who need to be mobilized or persuaded, and not everybody is going to be watching The Big Game. Yes, it will help a little if he looks bad and his supporters are demoralized, but as far as making the case against him, for most people it’s been made already and they’ve decided one way or another. There’s a whole bunch of other people who are bored by it and just want to know what politicians are going to do for them.
Trump shouldn’t be living rent-free in progressives’ heads any more than he should be living rent free in the White House. When there’s so much work to be done, cooking up schemes to “drive Trump crazy” doesn’t seem like a great use of energy. What will we do with a Trump that has been driven “crazy” (to use the kind of mental-illness-stigmatizing language that he’s into)? Will we be able to tell? Will that protect immigrants? Raise wages? Save the environment? Give people health care? Secure reproductive rights? Register voters? Stop fascism, racism, misogyny? Build out the field teams that will help a Democratic campaign actually win?
There are direct ways to do all these things. But you gotta give the people what they want. So, to (fair use?)-plagiarize from Minuto Uno in 2010 , here’s a recipe para cocinar al pulpo Trump. You might need to make some changes. Trump is more than ten times the weight of Paul; his meat is probably lower quality; he is more self-aware, malicious and harmful than Paul; he is less fun; he is a human and should not be tortured, killed or cannibalized; he is landfood rather than seafood; he is softer and does not need to be tenderized as long. With those caveats in mind, here is:
̶Pa̶u̶l̶ Trump a la gallega
Se necesitará un kilo del Pulpo P̶a̶u̶l̶ Trump, cuatro papas medianas, aceite de oliva a gusto y pimentón dulce o picante. Las proporciones deberán modificarse en caso de que la reunión mundialista haya tenido gran recepción. En tal caso, estimar que estas cantidades rinden para cuatro personas.
Después de lavar bien al Pulpo, sumergirlo por quince segundos en una cacerola con agua hirviendo. Repetir tres veces. Luego, dejarlo cocinarse en el agua 45 minutos –se calcula ese tiempo por kilo de m̶o̶l̶u̶s̶c̶o̶ Trump.
Una vez cocido, hay que dejar a enfriar a P̶a̶u̶l̶ Trump dentro de la cacerola mientras que en otra olla se colocan las papas con su piel para cocinarlas durante 20 minutos.
Para servirlo, recomendamos cortar las papas –ya peladas- en rebanadas de dos centímetros de espesor. Después de Colocar a P̶a̶u̶l̶ Trump cuidadosamente en la fuente y agregarle el aceite de oliva y el pimentón.
Para reunirse con amigos, pareja o familia. Para cantar una nueva victoria mundialista acompañada con el sabor de un buen P̶a̶u̶l̶ Trump a la gallega porque, en el fondo, todo indica que tiene demasiado adentro la bandera a̶l̶e̶m̶a̶n̶a̶ alemana circa 1939.
(For parody purposes only – please do not actually injure, torture, cook, or eat Donald Trump. Simply remove him from power via democratic means.)
(Solo para fines de parodia, por favor no lastimes, tortures, cocines o comas a Donald Trump. Simplemente retíralo del poder por medios democráticos.) [translation courtesy of Google]