John Grochalski is far from shy about his political leanings, and so we thought it very appropriate to make him our Writer of the Month for last year's election issue. And since John has spent every day (literally, not figuratively) since Inauguration Day fighting Donald Trump, we thought it very appropriate to feature an interview with him in our Year of Trump issue. Incidentally, that's John's wife, and our current Writer of the Month, Ally Malinenko giving Trump Tower the New York salute above.
Drunk Monkeys: Walk us through election night. When did you realize that things were going the wrong way?
John Grochalski: Honestly, I realized things were going to the wrong way the day Trump slithered down his escalator in the dark tower and declared his candidacy. At that moment I said to my wife “there’s your next president. People thought I was nuts, but I believed all along Trump would either win or come close. Maybe they live in a different American than I do. But election night…..when Florida went was when I threw in the towel and went to bed.
My wife, Ally Malinenko, she stayed up to watch the horror unfold. I awoke to her crying at 3 A.M. saying Trump won. I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night by my wife crying twice. Once was the night after her breast cancer diagnosis, and the other was the night that orange colored fuck was elected President.
DM: When did you make the decision to turn your blog over entirely to anti-Trump content?
JG: Almost immediately. I spent 2016 in anxiety-riddled fear because I knew it was coming. By the day after the election all I wanted to do was fight that fucker and whomever he put in his cabinet. So I shot off my mouth on the social networks about bringing WineDrunk back in a political capacity to mark each day of Trump’s presidency … all 1460 days. It was then that I realized I didn’t have the creative stamina to mark 1460 with my own art, so I reached out to others.
DM: What sort of content have you featured on WineDrunk this year?
JG: Mostly poetry. A touch of fiction. Some photographs and artwork (paintings, collage, glitch art) as well. I’ve actually posted one song and am about ready to have another one up within the month. At the end of every week I typically do a weekly “wrap-up” of all the week’s Trump related events. Ally and the poet, Jason Baldinger, have also contributed to the wrap-up and it’s good to get their take on this insanity. But I’m always looking for more and people can feel free to submit at firstname.lastname@example.org
DM: How has running WineDrunk and fighting Trump affected your own writing?
JG: I’ve written two novels, The Librarian and Wine Clerk, both centered around a clueless misanthrope by the name of Rand Wyndham. I had just begun working on the third novel, The Poet, in which Rand gets involved with various poetry scenes, when Trump exploded. I was doing the rough draft during the time that Trump went from joke to GOP candidate, and I sort of included him in the novel as the “orange-faced billionaire” who kind of lurks over the events of the book. Obviously there’s the poems as well, and my weekly rants, but including that fascist in Rand’s world was the biggest for me.
DM: What has been the reaction to your blog? Have you run afoul of any pro-Trump trolls? If so, is it worth the energy to fight back?
JG: On the positive said I’ve had a lot of people thank me for doing it. I’ve had a lot of people contribute on a regular basis, and I thank them greatly for their help. I’m sad the blog hasn’t received any hate mail….makes me feel like I’m not doing my job a times. That said, after one of my weekly wrap-ups, where I jokingly encouraged Kim Jong-un to use his possible nukes on red states, I woke up the next morning with my Facebook account exterminated for hate speech. I basically had to rebuild 8 years worth of Facebook connections as a result. I have my suspicions as to who may have complained...I went to grade/high school with a lot of small-minded people, and subsequently when I was rebuilding my Facebook I neglected to send them “friend” requests. Twitter trolls are too vast to bother with.
DM: How has running the blog helped you cope as this increasingly bizarre and alarming year has unfolded?
JG: Like I said I was ready to fight that bastard. What Trump does angers me but never surprises or shocks. The blog keeps me going. The wonderful contributions from people keep me going. My weekly wrap-ups are a catharsis for me. I get to rant and rave and poke fun at that son-of-a-bitch. That said, deep down I’m still as worried as others that we’re witnessing the end of American-style democracy.
DM: Do you hold out any hope that Trump, whether through the Mueller investigation or the 25th amendment, might actually be removed from office?
JG: No I don’t. I consider the GOP, along with the NRA, to be domestic terrorist organizations. The GOP will do nothing to Trump as long as they are in power. I hold a slim hope for the 2018 elections but I’m not sure, even if they get the House and Senate, that the democrats will have the votes for impeachment, even if the Mueller investigations implicates Trump. Honestly I think there’s a better chance he’ll resign out of anger or boredom or to save face over anything legal being done….all the same I take no joy in his removal either as it leaves us stuck with Mike Pence, a different kind of deplorable human being altogether.
DM: What do you think a Pence presidency looks like?
JG: Again, this is provided Trump is removed, as there are times that I believe if he doesn’t resign he’s poised to win re-election in 2020….the electoral college and the pig ignorance of the American voter all but assures that. But a Pence presidency? I guess the ONLY good that comes out of it is that you lose the insanity that we’re currently living under...and maybe you stabilize foreign relations. But a Pence presidency actually looks worse in some ways. Under Pence I see a Republican party much more cohesive and solidified in doing damage to poor people, women, people of color and the LGBTQIA community, and running amuck in regards to loosening financial regulations and poisoning the globe. If we remember, Pence headed Trump’s cabinet selection committee. Swine like Sessions and Pruitt were vetted by him.
DM: Prior to his campaign, what was your impression of Donald Trump? Living in New York, he must surely be even more inescapable a media presence than he was--even before running for President--for the rest of us.
JG: He was always the sleaze ball and scumbag that I read about in my grandmother’s Star and Enquirer magazine when I was a kid. Essentially I’ve hated Trump since my youth. Living (mostly) in NYC since 2003, seeing his name on buildings and being here when that idiot TV show of his aired, I really grew to hate the fucker….like deep down….that’s why I almost lost it in 2016, and why I’m geared up to take him on now. But unless you’re up around Trump Tower with idiot tourists wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, NYC is a wonderfully liberal and open-minded place to weather this storm…or witness the end.
DM: Is there any art you’ve seen come out of this time that inspires you?
JG: On the ground level, doing WineDrunk, I see a lot of artists out there who are willing to take that orange-faced fascist on every step of the way. Walking NYC I’ve seen (and photographed) some amazing anti-Trump street art. I’ve been pretty taken with the Joey Bad A$$ album this year. Ani DiFranco is back with a vengeance and I recently went and saw her. She’s such an amazing and wonderful person and performer and to be standing there watching her perform from that catalogue of hers, having been a fan for 20 years, knowing all of the patriarchal, sexist, misogynistic bullshit that woman has faced, all women face…..well...seeing Ani was pretty damned inspiring.
DM: Where do you really think we’re heading? Do you have any hope for the future?
JG: I don’t think we’re heading anywhere good any time soon. I hate to say that, but I just don’t think there’s much unity amongst Democrats or liberals in general. I think we have some seriously inept, horrible people, via the GOP, who will be in charge for the foreseeable future. White people still refuse to see and try to eliminate institutional racism from the smallest to the greatest of its threats. The patriarchy seems to be in its fullest bloom that I can remember in a long time. Any hope? Keep making great art. Keep speaking up for people who need you to the most, I guess. Resist. Maybe hope will run up and surprises us.