In no particular order, here is my list of top three tangible items that should never be merged:
—$2 chicken wings and a Fitbit
—Octogenarians and Snapchat
—Alcohol and anyone wanting to discuss politics
The remainder of this column will focus on the latter, now that I have received an official invitation, via my Facebook feed, from Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence to join her in California and “hang out, drink wine, talk politics.”
Lawrence is lending her fame, and perhaps her knowledge of Riesling, to Omaze. The online fundraising platform seeks to raise money for causes it deems worthy by allowing ordinary citizens to donate as little as $10 and then possibly win, via a raffle, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that often come with celebrity hobnobbing. Other current campaigns include a chance to support After-School All-Stars while flying in a helicopter with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and hanging with the world’s top 100 DJs in Amsterdam, with all proceeds benefitting UNICEF.
Great times and great causes all, but I still can’t get past the idea of mixing wine and politics. The Lawrence event benefits Represent.us, which, according its website, brings together “conservatives, progressives, and everyone in between to pass powerful anti-corruption laws that stop political bribery, end secret money, and fix our broken elections.”
The first few words of that definition sound like my family’s Thanksgiving table last year. Unfortunately, the feast, which included plenty of wine, fixed nothing. Quite the contrary; longstanding relationships between relatives would have been irretrievably broken had I, as host, not shifted the conversation away from President Trump’s recent victory to, as I recall, gluten-free stuffing recipes.
Lawrence seems to think the event is a swell idea, judging from her promo video’s opening line: “Hey, you! You want to help stop political corruption in America? And drink a ton of wine?” It should be noted that Lawrence is holding a glass of the red variety and may have dusted a few goblets, or decanters, in between takes.
I do like the idea of hanging out with Lawrence, as she seems like one of those down-to-earth megastars who would happily buy the first round while posing for selfies with anybody who asked. Also, I’ve relished the numerous trips I’ve taken to wineries in Napa, Sonoma and Calistoga, always returning with a bottle (or three) of some delicious blend plus photos of spectacular scenery.
But count me out if my excursion is going to include a horde of progressives and conservatives, even those who claim to be working together. One need only watch a few minutes of C-SPAN to realize that is not currently possible.
I can picture it now: Lawrence and I would be standing side by side at some quaint wine bar, swirling, sniffing and discussing the latest merlot, when some arch-conservative, noticing my Chicago Cubs hat, would make a wine-addled crack about me hailing from Obama’s home state. The conversation would quickly deteriorate; I’d be shouting that the Affordable Care Act was the high point of Obama’s presidency while my antagonist, matching my decibel level, would insist Trump will solve all our nation’s problems, health care included, if the “fake media” would just leave him alone. He would then read me one of his favorite Rush Limbaugh tweets.
As I’d continue defending my former president and my geographical locale, Lawrence would silently move to another area of the bar, eliminating my plan to discuss her character in “American Hustle” and our affinity for chardonnay. Thanks to some moron, my Instagram feed would never contain a photo with the caption, “Sharing a glass of Darioush with Katniss Everdeen.” Instead, I’d be wishing this Omaze experience also included Schwarzenegger, simply so he could punch the guy in the face.
So, Omaze, I ask you to reconsider this campaign. Let Lawrence and the winner drink wine to benefit a malaria cure, Doctors Without Borders, even my kids’ college funds. If you want to bring conservatives and progressives together to discuss politics, it should be done in a slightly different setting:
Beneath the thump, thump, thump of 100 DJs.