Make America rake again
Normally gardening and politics are polar opposites in Lord Muck’s life. The garden, or allotment, is the place to escape politics, not experience it. But it seems that life is not so simple in the dying days of Trump’s America. At the weekend, gardening and politics met in something that veered between comedy and parody – depending on the viewers perspective. It all played out at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a garden centre sandwiched betwen a crematorium and a sex shop called Fantasy Island in suburban Philadelphia. What this juxtaposition of uneasy ‘bedfellows’ says about Philadelphia’s planning regulations hardly bears thinking about – until they are adopted here in the UK in the next few months. But that is for another time.
It is eleven years since I last visited Philly, and keen gardener that I am, I somehow managed to miss out on a trip to Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Instead I was exploring the links to Philadelphia of 18 Century revolutionary and ‘Founding Father’ Thomas Paine, author of ‘Common Sense’, something that seems to have been singularly lacking at the press conference outside Four Seasons. The exact content of that event, held by Donald Trump’s ‘personal lawyer’ Rudi Guiliani at precisely the point when Pennsylvania’s vote for Joe Biden was confirmed, is already lost in the mists of satire, but the location has surely gone down in history as the most improbable and inappropriate place imaginable for a Presidential press conference. And there is no shortage of humour to be had from this strange conjunction of the stars, as Lord Muck’s alter ego and many others were quick to pick up on, on Twitter.
— Martin Stott (@MartinStott65) November 10, 2020
Four Seasons haven’t been slow off the mark in taking advantage of their new fame. Their website advertises a range of new merch including stickers and t-shirts with ‘Make America rake again’ and ‘Lawn and order’ slogans, a photo of their shopfront has been turned into a Zoom background, and for good measure their Twitter feed has the hashtags #insodwetrust and #MakeAmericaRakeAgain. Bless ’em, they promise a percentage of their merch profits will be donated to local foodbank Philabundance, whose own strapline is ‘beet hunger’ – with a smiling beetroot logo. What is it with Americans and puns?
But Four Seasons must be cursing that Trump didn’t get that second term. Surely with a hashtag like #MakeAmericaRakeAgain they would have been in line for the lucrative contract to rake up all the leaves in Californian forests that are the cause those politically inconvenient forest fires. And there is no mention on their website (which amongst other things promises ‘snow removal’) of whether there is a swamp draining service available. Washington isn’t so far from Philly and I understand there is a big one there in need of draining. Still. Meantime we can only ruminate on the alignment of forces that led to Rudi announcing to the world’s media that his boss had just won re-election, next door to a shop called ‘Fantasy Island’ .