CARL DIGGLER CONFESSIONAL: Prince Was to Me, After My Divorce, What “Hamilton” Is Today

CARL DIGGLER CONFESSIONAL: Prince Was to Me, After My Divorce, What “Hamilton” Is Today

(credit: Shutterstock)

I originally planned on doing my usual Friday Mailbag, where I would take your questions about whether Bernie is stingy to waiters and how a late Romney entrance would shake up the GOP race. But all of the winners and losers of the week seem so… distant now after yesterday’s tragic news.

As a young man, Prince meant a lot to me. To fully understand, take what you feel about “Hamilton” now and put it on one person. That’s Prince. When I saw his sexually charged, gender-bending performances, it made me question everything I knew.

You see, gender, like political affiliation, is a social construct. When Prince donned leggings and makeup but still ensnared women, it impressed upon me that you don’t have to be pigeonholed into a category as a human being. Prince no doubt inspired scores of party-bending moderates such as Alan K. Simpson, Arlen Specter, and Olympia Snowe. When he sang about two lithe bodies coming together on a sweaty night, Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill listened.

His connection to Minnesota was also deeply important to me. When I wrote for the Minnetonka Bugle, I would take pilgrimages to Paisley Park every blue moon. After my divorce and getting recalled from DC in 2002, Prince became a rock for me. I’d attend his concerts more frequently, with a date from White Bear Lake or Otsego if I was lucky. It stopped being an entertainment experience, and started becoming an act of radical self-care.

Prince required that all the people who attended his concerts give up their phones and refrain from consuming alcohol on the premises. Well, I only obeyed one of those rules (what’s a concert without some rum and Fresca?). But it was great to be released from my obligations and feel the healing sexual energy of Prince’s music course through my body.

In Purple Rain, Prince spoke of purifying himself in Lake Minnetonka, and I did just that. Every year after I had enjoyed my traditional election cake, I’d complete the ritual of primary predictions by swimming a few laps in those frigid waters. Sure, digestive complications forced emergency technicians to rescue me a few times, but like all Minnesota folks, the people in those ambulances knew I was just trying to refresh my spirit.

Minnesota winters are cold and unforgiving. The only thing that can thaw the deep frost is raw sensuality. When I’d wake up on a February morning and I saw it was another -20 day, I’d blast “Darling Nikki” on my Bose until I felt the libidinal energy to squeeze into my silk long johns, get my Blackberry off the charger, head to SuperAmerica for a pick-me-up, and cover politics.

I owe Prince a lot. I wish I saved the time that he DMed me on his official account (@Prince_Serbia), but in his typical mysterious way he deleted our messages after asking for my Social Security number. I’ll never know why he did this, but I don’t think he’d want me to.

I’ll miss you, Prince. I’m sure you and John F. Kennedy are in heaven, slapping five and chasing after angelic honeys. Do me a favor and hit one of those bass lines from the sky so I know you got home safe.

Still, I don’t want to let you true Digheads down, so I’ll take a few of your questions.

Hi Carl,

How will the issue of transgender rights impact the 2016 race? Ted Cruz accused Trump of “calling for grown men to be allowed to use little girls’ public restrooms” in regards to North Carolina’s bathroom bill. For once it seems like Trump is the least-bigoted candidate!

– Kat in Boston, MA

Make no mistake: by shrugging off North Carolina’s anti-LGBT “bathroom bill” (which forbids trans people from using restrooms of the gender they identify as), Trump isn’t ceding his frontrunner status as most-bigoted candidate. As I have argued all year, Trump is and will always be the candidate of racially-motivated GOP voters who spit out their car window when they drive by mosques and fantasize about joining anti-Latino posses. These voters aren’t particularly religious — the only thing they would pray for is a real rain to come and cleanse the scum — and they’re mostly fine with LGBT people. In fact, their movement has long welcomed homosexuals from Pim Fortuyn to Jorg Haider to Ernst Rohm.

More religious, homophobia-motivated voters, meanwhile, are firmly in Cruz’s camp. These folks are fine with people of all races, so long as they agree with an obscure interpretation of the Book of Revelation that predicts the next President will need to debate the Antichrist on the Temple Mount in 2019. Cruz’s spectrum, “by your logic” demeanor has long appealed to these rapture-ready folks, who are obsessed with complicated and unnecessary rules like which bathroom is acceptable for someone to use, the proper hem length of women’s skirts, and how many snakes one person is allowed to handle at a time. Ultimately, the “bathroom bill” controversy only reinforces this pre-existing schism in the party.

Howdy Dig Man! Or I should I say, the Birthdig Boy! I hope you enjoyed snacking down on the seven fruit bouquets from Edible Arrangements I sent you — one for each day of your Birthday Week. BTW, the life-size Build-a-Bear was accidentally shipped to your ex-wife’s house, but she signed for it, so you’ll need to get it from her.

You also have something else to celebrate: me LOVING your column about which Game of Thrones characters the candidates would be! Based on your fragrant writing I can tell you’re super-hyped for the season premiere. I actually haven’t watched the show since season 2, when I was UNJUSTLY banned from subscribing to HBO by some pole-huffing moderator just because I called out their BULLSHIT cancellation of the greatest sitcom of our generation — Arli$$ — on the since-shuttered HBO comment sections. But I’ve moved on to an even better high fantasy drama on a classier network.

I trust you’re familiar with the buzzy swords-and-sandals epic adventure that is Dragonthrone: The Bastard’s Quest on the Starz network. How could you not be? TV Guide gave it 2-and-a-half stars, praising the performances of British newcomers Liam Barfing and Sterling Fussy. The season 3 premiere is this weekend (in the same time slot as Game of Thrones, in fact), and I couldn’t be more excited to find out what happens after last season’s epic cliffhanger. Will Lady Dragonhammer finally sail across the Skeleton Sea to take the Golden Crown from King Bastardborn? Does the crafty Sir Swordflame escape from Duke Axecoward’s dungeon? What’s going to happen when the lustful Bastard’s Son makes it to the Eros Citadel with all those prostitutes? And what’s going on with all those scary Yetis lurking beyond The Tall Gate in the South? I’m getting “chills” just thinking about it!

Dig Man, I want to invite you to hop on the light rail to Essex County, crack open a couple of Michelobs, and enjoy the season premiere of Dragonthrone: The Bastard’s Quest with me in my den. (Better leave Colby at home, in case there’s another steamy sex scene like Earl Incest’s infamous encounter in the Tavern of Wenches!) I have the full Starz package including Starz2, Starz+, StarzEspagnol, and StarXXX. Starz is a far superior premium cable network to HBO, and their comment section is unmoderated, which is great too. So what do you say, Dig? Call it an extra belated b-day gift. My Starz package is big enough for two!

– David “The Milk” Milkberg in Essex Co., NJ


I barely know where to begin.

First, thanks so much for the fruit baskets you sent me, the ones that very nearly KILLED me with an overdose of Vitamin C, which I am allergic to (not that you, David Milkberg, the most inconsiderate man in the world, would care to remember such a minor detail).

Second, my after my ex-wife read the handwritten card on your Build-a-Bear she immediately called our family court judge, who must have interpreted whatever you wrote as a creepy threat from me, since she promptly slapped me with an ankle monitor for the weekend. That means, no, I will not be coming over to Essex County.

Third, even if I could come, I would never a trillion years watch “Dragonthorn: The Bastard’s Quest” on the “Starz Network” with you. If you actually read my columns you would know I swore never to watch that network again after Kelsey Grammar made a cruel joke on Boss at the expense of moderate reformer-with-results Rahm Emanuel.

Fourth, thanks to your insipid letters, one of your little model train friends has been e-mailing me 10-page tirades about video games. Look at what you’ve done, David:

Acknowledgement, Carl. Please note that I deliberately chose to refrain from such terms as “Dear,” “Greetings,” or even “Hello” in my salutation, as all of those terms convey a certain sense of kinship, vaguely desired company, or even mutual footing, none of which I feel is the case under these circumstances.

I am calling your attention to a certain tidbit of counterfactual nonsense I encountered in your most recent column – and please note that “column” is delivered in the lowest of base senses, as for the time being I consider you Tuesday’s Erma Bombeck or Friday’s Hints from Heloise, a hostile occupation of the space better devoted to the musings of Dave Barry on Saturdays or the highbrow lifestyle insights of Ann Landers on Mondays and Wednesdays (Tuesdays in the Style section). You are a step below even Dear Dotti (an issue-dodging two-bit chickenshit if ever there was one, and I’ve the unanswered correspondence to prove it). Hell, you are hardly even Ms. Landers’ far less talented and thoroughly plebeian sister Abby. Compare any two journalists and an objective approach will find you more akin to the lesser of the two. I do not say this lightly, and fully expect you to take note of the dire light in which my regard holds thine.

I shan’t mince words – your choice to publish the so-called “letter” (I believe the more accurate term lurks somewhere betwixt “dribblings” and “unqualified drivel,” but diplomacy and tact are hardly second nature to myself, and I shall magnanimously deign to extend a small bit of good faith wording in furtherance of the aforementioned) provided to you courtesy (I use that word in an ironic sense, natch’) of “David Milkberg” was matched in ill-advisement only by your pea-brained and plebeian reaction stimuli (I believe you would consider it a “response” – is it even possible to convey how contemptuously I chuckle at that notion?).

Let us not beat around the bush here: Your rank dismissal of the artform of video games is shallow and utterly ignorant, no doubt the reactionary response of an ill-qualified brain, its neurons firing undisciplined willy-nilly and deaf to the steady forward-marching advance of Dame Progress herself. Would you dismiss Michael Mantle or William Mays as children for devoting themselves to the pursuit of diamond glory? Mayhaps you ought hold these jocks in a low esteem, but methinks you shan’t, even as the rays of Dame Progress’s brilliant illuminance slowly set upon the field of p-sports (physical sports). I would ask what transgression gamers committed upon your person, but the answer is obvious – they remind you of your own increasing irrelevance, of the fact that you are a PCMCIA 802.11b card plugged into a Hewlett-Packard iPAQ in an age of mobile hotspots and free wifi tethering. Carl, I’ll put it simply: You are shit, you are a putrid texture even less than shit, and your seething resentment of gamers, e-sports, and the entire artform of video gaming is testament to this fact.

We must cut to the chase: Moreso than your sickening attack upon the entire world of video gaming and burgeoning industry of e-sports, I was appalled by your refusal to distance yourself from the disgusting bias evident in those dreadful dribblings. If there is one nugget of insight to be gleaned from Sepp Blatter’s deservedly-corrupt mismanagement of the wretched FIFA p-sport organization (itself an ill-advised endeavour that the history books shall consider most futile) or the woebegotten travesty of justice that took place in the State Senate of New York in February, it is that failure to decry, debunk, and disabuse in the face of atrocity is itself an atrocity. If you have any doubt remaining, I urge you to check relevant links in the Portal: namespace of Wikipedia, the Free GPL-Licensed Encyclopedia that Anybody Can Edit on your own free time, as I frankly cannot and should not be expected to do your research for you.

Having established that, I think you will find it your duty – not just as a journalist, but as a right-minded, responsible netizen – to put the stop to the slanderous opinions expressed by Milkberg (I hope the lack of an honorific did not go unnoticed). If Milkberg (once again, I shall forego the honorific) wants to squat upon the squalid throne of diesel, then by all means, I say he is welcome to it, and said throne most deserving of that backsided hellscape. But it should not come without full acknowledgement of the fact that diesel is a ghastly miscalculation, a stylistic abhorrence and quite frankly the most abominable method of propulsion imaginable in today’s forward-thinking 21st century world. As titles go, “Master of Diesel” is frankly interchangeable with “Sultan of Shit.”

Idle chit-chat has never been a strong focus of mine, so I shall speak bluntly, and firmly establish for the written record, that if one is truly in tune with the majesties of rail-guided locomotion, one will picture naught but a steam train handsomely gliding across the unsullied landscape – just as one would imagine an Otis®-brand elevator effortlessly gliding from floor to floor without even the faintest hint of mechanical grind (unlike, one would be well-advised to note, the notoriously problem-plagued and uncomfortable joyless joyrides provided by the Thyssenkrupp firm).

Your failure to bring up said notions when confronted with them flies in the face of your shallow gut-first, jock-adulating, metrics-disregarding persona. It seems once again, the task falls to us true Alpha Warriors to stand up for what’s right, as you bite your tongue and kowtow to your master of the moment like an insignificant CTE-riddled linebacker, so eager to submissively cup the testicles of whichever flavor-of-the-moment quarterback squats in front of him in the huddle. No higher thought process to be found, and not even the loyalty of a dog or the higher-order mammals. I suspect both you and Milkberg are Hillary Men, and I assure you it will be a pleasure watching you squirm like toadies under the reason-guided vision of President Jeb Bush.

I’ll be brief – I’m interested in seeing your rebuttal, though to be frank I doubt I shall bother reading it, as I have already added you to my “block” list across vast swaths of social media, as I’m not the least bit interested in you nor your simplistic notions. Please note that any and all further argumentation on your end shall constitute harassment of my person, and I hold exclusive copyright over the words, nay, the heart-wrenching poetry of rational logic, contained in this electronic mail message. I’ve DMCA’d plenty of negligible little pissants like yourself, and have no qualms about adding another tally to my wall – though I doubt I shall consider your ruination important enough to even bother digging out my Magna Doodle™.

I remain, (and, by the way, do you notice the lack of “Yours” in this valediction? Deliberate, I assure you)

Adam Pepsi

Chief Coordinator of Steam Rail Historic Appreciation Society

Right Honorable Council Leader of Railfans Assembled

Admin of The Steam Loco Encounter Forums

Primary Administrator of Otis® Scoops dot com

“Choo Choo CHOOSE Steam!”

Lego®-Maniac #3846-640

Dean of Operations for EMERGENCY STOP: True Thyssenkrupp Nightmare Testimonials

My newest alarm: Faraday 4160 4″ Vibrating Bell

PS: A final fact regarding Milkberg you would find it prudent to avail yourself of: Did you know that there is, in fact, a very discrete and definite end to the ostensible “Never-Ending Pasta Bowl®” available at participating Olive Garden locations? Milkberg found that one out the hard way, much to his chagrin, and to the delight of all others at the aforementioned establishment on one particularly fateful eve. His repeated and increasingly-impotent demands to “Keep Calm, and Chive On” as uniformed security liberated him from the premises fell on deaf ears.

Are you happy, David? This is literal abuse. Make this stop NOW.

Carl “The Dig” Diggler has covered national politics for 30 years, and is the author of “Think-ocracy: The Rise Of The Brainy Congressman”. Got a question for the Dig? E-mail him at or Tweet to @carl_diggler.

To try CAFE’s Morning Shot email, sign up here.