Dear Dirty America


Staying Sane In Dark Times; Why Doesn’t Glenn Greenwald Grind His Teeth At Night?

Staying Sane In Dark Times; Why Doesn’t Glenn Greenwald Grind His Teeth At Night?
October 28
16:00 2013

Ever since I started getting heavy into politics I’ve had a problem with grinding my teeth at night. My dentist, the last time I saw him two years ago, warned me, “I’ve never seen such ground down molars. If I didn’t know any better, I’d guess just by your back four teeth you were 78 years old.”

My only response was that I felt 78 years old. He’d been my childhood dentist, so the slow destruction of my teeth pained him. I could see it in his eyes. The way he squinted and said, “Jesus Christ” under his breath when he asked me to open my mouth again. “Worst case I think I’ve ever seen,” he said, and licked his mustache.

These couple years later I still wonder how people like Glenn Greenwald stay sane as they dwell in the fetid murkiness of world politics and government deceit. Every day that man writes about the latest hypocrisy and severe consequences of living in an unjust surveillance state. He follows the horrific case of the tortured and violated whistleblower, Bradley Manning, as well as dropping bombshells every week from the cache of documents leaked to him by ex-NSA employee Edward Snowden.

Why doesn’t Glenn Greenwald pulverize his teeth every night?

A recent profile in The Advocate about Greenwald gives me some clues as to how the ferocious journalist and Constitutional lawyer keeps sane, or mostly sane.

Is this how he does it?

1. Dogs. As the article explains, “A knot of ten dogs, mostly strays scooped off Rio’s traffic-gnarled streets, snore and grumble on the cream tiled floor.” Rather than having a pristine house, Greenwald explains, he’d rather take care of ten dogs and feed them raw hotdogs.

Animals can provide soothing energy. I know when my aunt was living in a gnarly nursing home that smelled like microwaved leftovers and drying urine, her multiple sclerosis had confined her to her wheel chair, and her muscles were so deteriorated she couldn’t even roll herself anywhere, yet she was not alone. There were a hundred or more miserable, dying people living in tiny rooms throughout the entire building.

Yet, there was a resident dog who made the rounds. The residents could pet the dog whenever he came by. You wouldn’t believe the good energy that pet had. The slack mouths and dimmed eyes upturned and brightened all at once when that dog came through. Perhaps a loyal pet is the key to getting through this Orwellian nightmare of a society we’re waking up to.

2. Greenwald’s backyard. Rubber trees. Wild monkeys throwing fits. It sounds a little like the atmosphere outside my slummy Los Angeles apartment, except these are real monkeys cavorting through the vast wilderness that begins at the edge of Greenwald’s home, which is part of “the upscale enclave of Rio de Janeiro built alongside a hand-planted rainforest in the Zona Sul.”

Maybe this is how Greenwald replenishes his soul after wading through the darkness of American Empire politics that include President Obama’s god-like power to execute anyone on the planet by calling in a drone strike. If you care about humanity, delving into that information every day is hard on the mind, and a mind that is not tranquil manifests itself on the physical plane, such as my bewildered dentist noticed when he said, “Open wide and say, ‘Ah.'”

2.5. “…his current digs, a spacious two-story wood-and-glass home five minutes from Rio’s glistening beaches but nestled in a bucolic canyon that bleeds into jungle.” That sounds relaxing as well. Although, if I were Greenwald, I’d fear an early morning raid by paramilitary troops sent by the CIA to capture me alive. They’d shoot all the dogs and claim it was in self-defense, and burn down the house. That’s what happens when you expose tyranny for too long.

3. A gay lover. Well, he or she doesn’t have to be gay. But in Greenwald’s case, that’s how it is. And not just any lover, but a lusty, very young South American stud to ease away the pain and probably provide an entire range of physical relief that cannot be described on this page, because this is a family blog.

Greenwald met his lover, David Miranda, when the latter was playing volleyball on the beach. Greenwald, on vacation and lounging on a beach in Copacobana, found the volleyball bouncing into his lap. Miranda came to retrieve the ball. By my calculations, Miranda was either 17 or 18 years old. Greenwald was 40. There was a connection, instantly, that apparently hasn’t soured in the eight years they’ve since been together.

4. Keep a playful attitude. Greenwald cusses throughout the entire interview. He’s a little bawdy. He’s not the fiery presence he maintained on Salon and then in the Guardian. He and Miranda go on what seems to be ridiculous outings, like attending a Bon Jovi and Nickleback concert. Maybe there’s something to being emotionally carried away by overly-sentimental music.

Does singing your heart out to “You Give Love A Bad Name” and “Livin’ On A Prayer” relieve the pressure accumulated by constantly reporting on how the trumpeted freedoms and liberties of America have been crushed and we’ve entered into some of the darkest times our nation has ever faced?

My mistake might be that in great times of personal distress, like after reading a Glenn Greenwald or Christopher Hedges article, I get in my car and slide my favorite Pantera disc into the CD player and slowly turn up the volume. The brutal tone of a song like “Strength Beyond Strength” fits the mood of Guantanamo Bay, as well as an American predator drone taking out a Pakistani grandmother and eighteen workers having lunch in a tent, but it also sets my nerves on edge and may contribute to the steady machine-like grinding of my jaw at night.

Rather, I might take a lesson or two from Greenwald. Get a fucking dog! I might tell myself. And never mind what people think when you crank up a song like this. Go ahead, sing along. The lyrics are included in the video:

[photo by Elza Fiúza / Agência Brasil]

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  1. Joanna de Vos
    Joanna de Vos October 30, 06:10

    Great post, Adam. I also find it particularly ironic that as a practicing lawyer, while he was defending the First Amendment rights of white supremacist Matt Hale in a series of civil suits, Greenwald was found in court to have illegally recorded conversations (read privacy violations) he had with Hale’s associates. Turn up the Pantera, Korn, or your metal of choice–I hear they’re shopping movie scripts so Greenwald’s doublespeak may soon be coming to a theater near you.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Joanna
    Joanna October 30, 06:19

    Great post, Adam. I find it particularly ironic that during his career as a practicing lawyer, while he was defending the First Amendment rights of white supremacist Matt Hale in a series of civil suits, Greenwald was found in court to have illegally recorded conversations (read violated privacy rights) he had with Hale’s associates. Turn up the Pantera, Korn, or metal of your choice. I hear they’re shopping movie scripts so Greenwald’s doublespeak is coming soon to a theater near you.

    Reply to this comment
    • DDA
      DDA Author October 30, 19:10

      I know deep down you’re a metalhead, Joanna. Just like I am. That’s probably where you get all your abounding energy.

      I haven’t looked very far into Greenwald’s time as a lawyer, so your comment is very intriguing. I’ve seen other people around the Web comment about Greenwald’s “failed lawyer days”…maybe they are talking about the same incident or practices you are.

      Reply to this comment

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