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Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo Speaking at Nauseating "Thought-Leader" Festival

Y'all ready for two full days of civility? Who's eager to reach across the aisle to catch some T-shirts? Everybody excited to get those lighters waving for Democratic fundraiser and billionaire tycoon Tom Steyer? Prepared to watch Libertarian tax-extremist Grover Norquist shatter a beer bottle and cut his chest open onstage like he's Iggy Pop?

What about Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo? He's cool, right? He's not? He actually sucks? So basically everyone appearing at OzyFest in New York's Central Park on July 21 and 22 sucks and is terrible?

Yup — Curbelo is apparently speaking at OzyFest, the baffling "thought-leader" festival that everyone on Twitter has been shamelessly dunking on for the last 24 hours. No, this is not the infinitely cooler metal festival OzzFest — though you'd be forgiven for confusing the two, since Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne themselves found the names so similar that they sued OzyFest in 2017. We're talking about OzyFest — a South-by-Southwest-inspired quickening of famous, rich people as inexplicable as it is banal. The festival comes from the folks at Ozy.com, a Silicon Valley news startup founded by an MSNBC alum that has somehow amassed 1 million Facebook likes despite having never published any memorable journalism in its five-year existence.

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OzyFest is like a music festival for the sorts of lanyard-people who skip doing mushrooms and instead enjoy snorting Adderal and reading 30,000 pages of General Services Administration contracts. A two-day general admission pass costs $134, while a VIP ticket will run you $309. The festival is a gathering of C- and D-list alt-rock bands, a bizarre smattering of authors, celebrity chefs for no apparent reason, some Daily Show comedians, and enough #Resistance liberals to plunge Sean Hannity into a dissociative fugue. Last year's mortifying chimera of headliners included Jason Derulo, Samantha Bee, and Jeb Bush. The festival teases a "surprise guest" every year — in 2017 it was Joe Biden.

This year's acts inexplicably include alt-rock has-beens Passion Pit, Grouplove, and Young the Giant; rapper-turned-human-commercial Common, New Yorker pseudoscience columnist and repeat guest Malcolm Gladwell; noted steroid-doer Alex Rodriguez; Scott the HQ Trivia Host; and Hillary Clinton.

But, lest you think this is a #SafeSpace for #snowflakes, think again: There are some gosh-dang Republicans on the ticket, so get ready to crush up some logic, facts, and reason and snort that shit up your nose. Norquist, the absolute lunatic who pressures Republicans to sign pledges to never, ever raise taxes ever for any reason (an idea transparently designed to cripple the government) is a repeat guest this year, since he apparently appeared at the festival in 2017 and did not immediately get pelted with eggs. (This is the fault of the #Resistance.)

Curbelo, meanwhile, is listed on the OzyFest website but was evidently not cool enough to make it onto the main billing poster. (The OzyFest website seems to still be updating its lineups — the site has Curbelo slotted as the bottom-ranked Saturday speaker.) If he films himself taking MDMA with pop musician Alessia Cara, we promise to stop making fun of him from then on.

And herein lies the problem with OzyFest: It's a "thought-leader" conference that projects a very shallow, wealth-centered sampling of actual ideas. Instead of banishing the politicians who failed to defeat Donald Trump and firing the media pundits who failed to predict his rise, Ozy has instead created a festival to celebrate them: The event is stocked almost exclusively with self-obsessed media blowhards (Gladwell, CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash), people who confuse "having money" with "having opinions" (Laurene Powell Jobs, SoulCycle co-founder Ruth Zukerman, Shark Tank investor Robert Herjavec), disgraced athletes with TV deals (pretty much just A-Rod), and famous people who simply enjoy being onstage (Salman Rushdie, Martha Stewart),

But worst of all, the festival includes a few groups of people who ought to be banished from society entirely: Democratic losers and political hacks (Clinton, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez), zillionaire Democratic donors disrupting the basic concept of democracy (Steyer), and, worst of all, actual Republicans, who are, without exaggeration, taking time away from voting in lockstep with Trump's policies to eat Korean tacos with Padma Lakshmi and pretend like they're normal human beings.

Take the aforementioned Norquist. Few people have done more lasting damage to state and federal governments than Norquist, who in 1985 founded Americans for Tax Reform, a nonprofit opposed to the concept of taxes, and is one of the chief architects of the current GOP's hatred of nearly all forms of social welfare or common good. Norquist used donations from right-wing billionaires to launch his career — and, by November 2012, nearly every Republican in American had signed his "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" to never, ever raise taxes.

If you're confused as to why the Republican Party is dead-set against the concept of socialized medicine, even though it works in every other developed nation on earth, you in large part can thank Norquist for your needlessly high medical bills. He is not cool and he does not belong at your #Resistance party, no matter how many times he blogs about attending Burning Man. Debating someone like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Ozy's stage isn't going to turn Norquist into a Maoist.

The lineup also includes South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, the state's former Republican governor who infamously went missing for six days in 2009 while in office, got caught cheating on his wife in Argentina, resigned under threat of impeachment, and somehow returned to politics and won a congressional race in 2013. He then supported Trump in the 2016 election before trying to paint himself as some sort of anti-Trump, Jeff-Flake-style "reasonable Republican" ghoul. He subsequently lost his primary race to a pro-Trump candidate last month, despite running ads saying he still supported Trump's asinine border-wall project. Sanford also voted to repeal Obamacare in 2017 but now gets to pal around with actor Taye Diggs at a Passion Pit concert in Manhattan.

This is where Curbelo, someone who tries painfully hard to be hip and cool while also voting to repeal Obamacare and cut taxes on the rich, comes in. In the last two weeks, Curbelo did two things simultaneously: For one, he reacted to the news of Democratic socialist Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez's New York primary win by calling himself a #millennial on Twitter. He also was filmed in Miami International Airport stating he believes it's OK to imprison immigrant families seeking legal asylum and said he won't stop taking political donations from private-prison companies.

Carlos Curbelo is not cool, but he damn sure wants you to think he is. Like any good, centrist media outlet, the fine folks at Ozy are helping launder Curbelo's nonsense into reality.

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