"Picture this: quite possibly the most important street photographer of the 20th century was a 1950s children's nanny who kept herself to herself and never showed a single one of her photographs to anyone.
Decades later in 2007, a Chicago real estate agent and historical hobbyist, John Maloof purchased a box of never-seen, never-developed film negatives of an unknown "amateur" photographer for $380 at his local auction house.
John began developing his new collection of photographs, some 100,000 negatives in total, that had been abandoned in a storage locker in Chicago before they ended up at the auction house. It became clear these were no ordinary street snaps of 1950s & 60s Chicago and New York and so John embarked on a journey to find out who was behind the photographs and soon discovered her name: Vivien Maier. -- Found at Auction: The Unseen Photographs of a Legend that Never Was
From the genius that is ICON.The speaker has a flat affect but stick with him and the overwhelming nature of what was done with this Powerwagon will engulf you.
All are limitory, but each has her own
nuance of damage. The elite can dress and decent themselves,
are ambulant with a single stick, adroit
to read a book all through, or play the slow movements of
easy sonatas. (Yet, perhaps, their very
carnal freedom is their spirit's bane: intelligent
of what has happened and why, they are obnoxious
to a glum beyond tears.) Then come those on wheels, the average
majority, who endure T.V. and, led by
lenient therapists, do community singing, then
the loners, muttering in limbo, and last
the terminally incompetent, as impeccable,
improvident, unspeakable as the plants
they parody. (Plants may sweat profusely but never
sully themselves.) One tie, though, unites them: all
appeared when the world, though much was awry there, was more
spacious, more comely to look at, its Old Ones
with an audience and secular station. (Then a child,
in dismay with Mamma, could refuge with Gran
to be revalued and told a story.) As of now,
we all know what to expect, but their generation
is the first to fade like this, not at home but assigned
to a numbered frequent ward, stowed out of conscience
as unpopular luggage.
As I ride the subway
to spend half-an-hour with one, I revisage
who she was in the pomp and sumpture of her hey-day,
when week-end visits were a presumptive joy,
not a good work. Am I cold to wish for a speedy
painless dormition, pray, as I know she prays,
that God or Nature will abrupt her earthly function?
The Drudge Report now:
Extra visual, verbal, and historical punning points for "Son of Watergate?"
Why has Matt Drudge never received a Pulitzer? Because a Pulitzer, at this point, would demean this most modern Michelangelo.
Lois Lucille McNair Van der Leun -- then and now
Her earliest memory is being held on the shoulders of her father, watching the men who lived through the First World War parade down the main street of Fargo, North Dakota in 1918. She would have been just four years old then. Now she's 90 years old and she comes to her birthday party wearing a chic black and white silk dress, shiny black shoes with three inch heels, and a six foot long purple boa. She's threatening to sing Kurt Weill's 'The Saga of Jenny" and dance on the table one more time .
She'll sing the Kurt Weill song, but we draw the line at her dancing on the table this year. Other than that, it is pretty much her night, and she gets to call the shots. Which is what you get when you reach
90 97 and are still managing to make it out to the tennis courts three to four times a week. "If it wasn't for my knees I'd still have a good backcourt game, but now I pretty much like to play up at the net." [Note 2012: Alas she had to give up tennis two years back when her knees finally gave up. She didn't. Water walking twice a week.]
She plays Bridge once or twice a week, winning often, and has been known to have a cocktail or two on occasion. She still drives even though it causes my brother to fret. This is a good thing since he's the kind of man who sees the incipient disaster in everything and it's good for him to fret about something that has a smidgen of reality to it.
She keeps a small two-bedroom apartment in a complex favored by young families and college students from Chico State and, invariably, has a host of fans during any given semester. She's thought about moving to the "senior apartments" out by the mall, but "I'm just not sure I could downsize that much and everyone there is so old."
She was born deep in the heartland at the beginning of the Great War, the youngest of five children. She grew up and into the Roaring 20s, through the Great Depression, taught school at a one room school house at Lake of the Woods Minnesota, roamed west out to California in the Second World War and met the man she married.
They stayed married until he died some 30 years ago. Together they raised three boys, and none of them came to any more grief than most and a lot more happiness than many.
After her husband died at the end of a protracted illness, she was never really interested in another man and filled her life with family, close friends (some stretching back to childhood), and was, for 15 years, a housemother to college girls. She still works three mornings a week as a teacher and companion to young children at a local day-care and elementary school.
She has always been a small and lovely woman -- some would say beautiful. I know I would. An Episcopalian, she's been known to go to church, but isn't devoted to the
practice, missing more Sundays than she attends. She's given to finding the best in people and letting the rest pass, but has been known to let fools pass at high speed.
Born towards the beginning of the 20th century, she now lives fully in the 21st. It is her 90th birthday party. It is attended by over 200 people from 2 to 97, many of whom are telling tales about her, some taller than others.
We don't believe the man who tells about the time in her early seventies that she danced on his bar. He's brought the pictures of the bar with her high-heel marks in it to prove the point.
Other stories are told, some serious, some funny, all loving. But they all can only go back so far since she has only been living in Chico, California for 30 years. I can go back further, and so, without planning to, I took my turn and told my story about her. It went something like this.
"Because I'm the oldest son, I can go back further in time. I can go back before Clinton, before Reagan, before Nixon, before Kennedy, before Eisenhower. We'll go back to the time of Truman.
"It must be the summer of 1949 and she's taking my brother and I back home to her family in Fargo for the first time. I would be almost four and he'd be two and a half. The war's been over for some time and everyone is now back home and settled in. My father's family lost a son, but -- except for some wounds -- everyone else came out all right.
"We're living in Los Angeles and her home is Fargo, North Dakota, half a continent away. So we do what you did then. We took the train. Starting in Los Angeles we went north to San Francisco where we boarded the newest form of luxury land transportation available that year, the California Zephyr.
"Out from the bay and up over the Sierras and down across the wastes until we wove our way up the spine of the Rockies and down again to the vast land sea that stretched out east in a swath of corn and wheat that that I remember more than the pitched curves and plunging cliffs of the mountains. You sat in a plush chair at the top of the car and Earth from horizon to the zenith flowed past you.
"There was the smell of bread and cooking in the Pullman cars that I can still capture in my mind, and the lulling rhythm of the wheels over the rails that I can still hear singing me down into sleep.
"At some point we changed trains to go north into the Fargo Station and, as we pulled into Fargo in mid-morning, my mother's family met us with their usual humble dignity -- they brought a full brass band that worked its way down through the John Philip Sousa set list with severe dedication. They also brought me more family members than there were people living on our entire block in Los Angeles. There may also have been a couple of Barbershop Quartets to serenade us during the band breaks, but I'm not sure about that.
"My mother and brother and I were swept away in the maelstrom of aunts, uncles, cousins by the dozens, and assorted folks from the neighborhood on 8th Avenue South.
"The day rolled into a huge lunch at a vast dining room table where my grandmother ruled with an iron ladle. Then, after a suitable post-prandial stupor, my entire family rose as one and headed out to the nearby park for their favorite activity -- trying to crush each other in tennis. When this family hit the courts, it was like a tournament had come to town. Other would-be players just took one look and headed for another set of courts elsewhere.
"I was still too young to play, although my mother would have a racquet custom-made for me within the year, so instead I would have been exhausting myself at some playground or in one of the sandboxes under the eyes of my older cousins. Then, at dusk, I made my way back to the courts."
"In the Fargo summers the twilights linger long and fade slowly and as they fade the lights on the courts come up illuminating them in the gathering dark. And I sat, not quite four, as the night grew dark around me and my mother and her family played on below.
"Now it is all more than fifty-four years gone but still, in my earliest memories, they play on in that endless twilight. I see them sweeping back and forth in the fading light. Taunting and laughing together. Calling balls out that are clearly in. Arguing and laughing and playing on forever long after the last light of day has fled across the horizon and the stars spread out high above the lights.
"Service. Return. Lob. Forehand. Volley. Backhand. Volley. Love All."
November, 2004 -- Chico & Laguna Beach, California
The spire atop One World Trade Center has been fully installed and the structure has reached its symbolic height of 1,776 feet. The finishing touches were put in place this morning and the building now becomes the tallest in the Western Hemisphere.Continued...
"A man's got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job." -- John Wayne
Once upon a time, there was "The Code of the West." [Original here] That was long ago, far away and in another country. Now there is only, "The Code of the Left." I've compared the two here. The Code of the West is in plain text. The Code of the Left is in italics because, well, it is just so damned important!
It's time for our biannual check in on how these two dueling codes are faring in America. When last we looked the Obama Banditos were riding roughshod over the people. Now, the Banditos seem to be in retreat and at our feet pleading a new birth of populism. But since the leftist Banditio is always either at your feet or at your throat it can't last. What's next? We're open for updates, additions, and deletions.
* Don't inquire into a person's past. Take the measure of a man for what he is today.
* There are no "people," only "social policies." Don't inquire into a social policy's past or that policy's likely consequences for the future. Take the measure of a policy by how closely it maps to the Socialist Utopia that has already killed and crippled hundreds of millions of people. Dream big nightmares.
* Never steal another man's horse. A horse thief pays with his life.
* Always look to steal another man's money with a "tax." Always ask your fellow citizen to reach for his wallet. All tax thieves are rewarded with a fat government pension and fatter health plan.
* Defend yourself whenever necessary.
* Do not defend yourself or the country under any circumstances. Killers are just grown-up kids who were abused. Terrorists are just people who haven't had their issues listened to with compassion. Make sure nobody else can defend themselves. Use only diplomacy to defend your country. Armies are raised only to place sandbags around towns about to be flooded for the fifth time. When that happens use government money to enable the fools who built them to rebuild them.
* Look out for your own.
* Look out, first, last and always, for any other people numerous enough to declare themselves an oppressed group (The minimum number is 3) - except if the group is an actual family, in which case seek to disband it by any means necessary.
* Remove your guns before sitting at the dining table.
* Ban guns. Anytime, anywhere. The Second Amendment is a misprint. Erase it in the original. Burn all copies.
* Never order anything weaker than whiskey.
* Never order anything stronger than a decaf double latte made with soy milk. Yes, that drink will shrink your testicles and/or ovaries to the size of peas, but you weren't using them anyway. Make it a double.
* Don't make a threat without expecting dire consequences.
* Threaten everyone and every behavior you think does not square with an organic, green, globally-warmed new-age life-style. They will fold. There will be no consequences. There never are.
* Never pass anyone on the trail without saying "Howdy".
* Never pass anyone on the street without muttering "Bush lied."
* When approaching someone from behind, give a loud greeting before you get within shooting range.
* When approaching someone from behind, try to determine if they are a Republican-Christianist before picking their pocket and denigrating their beliefs with impunity.
* Don't wave at a man on a horse, as it might spook the horse. A nod is the proper greeting.
* Don't wave at a blind man with a seeing-eye dog as it might confuse/abuse the dog. Lead them both into a disabled parking space and leave them there with a pocket full of kibble and food stamps.
* After you pass someone on the trail, don't look back at him. It implies you don't trust him.
* After you pass anti-Christian laws, don't look back. God will turn you into a pillar of salt and there is no salt tax.... Yet.
* Riding another man's horse without his permission is nearly as bad as making love to his wife. Never even bother another man's horse.
* Riding another man's wife or significant other is not only okay, but a qualification for high office. Gay or straight, you are allowed to have anyone you want without consequences to the family since soon there won't be any. Medicines for STDs will be free and will soon consume 92% of federal research funds (7% goes to embryonic stem cell research), dedicated to finding a sex vaccine so you can get back to the level of random sex with random strangers you enjoyed in the early 1970s.
* Always fill your whiskey glass to the brim.
* Always buy and carry the really big bottle of Fuji mineral water everywhere so people can know that while you object to Big Oil making windfall profits on $3.00 a gallon gasoline, you have no problem with windfall profits on $10 a gallon bottled water.
* A Cowboy is pleasant even when out of sorts. Complaining is what quitters do, and Cowboys hate quitters.
* A Leftist is mean and bitter even when in office. Complaining and turning small complaints into laws is what Leftists at all levels do. Leftists love making new laws from old whines.
* Always be courageous. Cowards aren't tolerated in any outfit worth its salt.
* Never exhibit courage when it comes to defending your country. Cowardice is a Leftist pre-requisite for running for office on any level. Your constituents are cowards to the core and don't expect any less from you.
* A Cowboy always helps someone in need, even a stranger or an enemy.
* A Leftist only helps those in need when helping them will condemn them to being in need for all eternity. Enemies are to be helped only if they will promise to first vote for and then behead Leftists. In that way both the need to rule and the need to expunge guilt can be satisfied.
* Never try on another man's hat.
* Never try on another man's condom or use his needle - without asking permmisson which will naturally be forthcoming. Free condoms and free needles are a basic right and will replace the present Second Amendment as soon as possible. Draft text: "An unregulated and unrestrained sex and drugs and rock and roll lifestyle, being the necessary opiate of the masses, the right of the people to free condoms and free needles, shall not be infringed."
* Be hospitable to strangers. Anyone who wanders in, including an enemy, is welcome at the dinner table. The same was true for riders who joined Cowboys on the range.
* Be hospitable to those who "wander" into your country illegally. Anyone who "wanders" into the United States, including an enemy, is welcome at the welfare table. This is especially true for those who will do the voting sane Americans won't - voting for you.
* Give your enemy a fighting chance.
* Give all enemies a really good fighting chance always. Make the Armed Forces fight with both hands behind their back. Roll back all arms programs to the environmentally sensitive bow and arrow era. Marines are to be especially despised for their general Gung Ho militaristic attitude. Make up rules of engagement that ensure all wars will be fought on the cheap and without weapons that are more lethal than megaphones. In war, Love is all you need.
* Never wake another man by shaking or touching him, as he might wake suddenly and shoot you.
* But if he does, pass more laws restricting guns and apologize to him before dying.
* Real Cowboys are modest. A braggart who is "all gurgle and no guts" is not tolerated.
* Real Leftists are the first to tell you what wonderful human beings they are. A Leftist who is "all gurgle and no guts" can be easily nominated for high office. See "Edwards, John."
* A Cowboy doesn't talk much; he saves his breath for breathing.
* A Leftist does nothing but talk. Talk is mother's milk without the annoying lactation. Leftist talk is a three-foot length of numbing rebar pounded down the center of your spine. A Leftist will save his breath for Yoga class.
* No matter how weary and hungry you are after a long day in the saddle, always tend to your horse's needs before your own, and get your horse some feed before you eat.
* No matter how weary and frustrated you are after a long day of lying and pandering on the campaign trail, always tend to your political machine's needs before your own. Get your machine some more money (cash if possible) for moveon.org or Media Matters. Don't skim more than 55% of the cash for yourself. Remember that if you are elected you can feed at the public trough for life, and earn millions for blathering after you retire.
* Cuss all you want, but only around men, horses and cows.
* Cuss all you want, constantly and without restraint, especially when you hear the obscenity-triggering words, "President Bush." Be sure to teach the F-word to your children early and reward them for using it.
* Complain about the cooking and you become the cook.
* Complain about earmarks unless they are your earmarks and remember to vote for all earmarks so that others will vote for yours.
* Always drink your whiskey with your gun hand, to show your friendly intentions.
* Always sip your chai with the pinky finger crooked, to show your rainbow intentions.
* Be there for a friend when he needs you.
* Be there with a handout for a voter when you think that you can pander enough and promise enough free stuff to buy that vote. Pander early and pander often. Offer $5,000 just for being born. Be sure you put that idea forward before a group of people with a history of getting (and an undying thirst for more) handouts. Always infantalize.
* Drinking on duty is grounds for instant dismissal and blacklisting.
* Drinking and smoking dope in office is grounds for instant lionizing, a safe seat, and a free pass should you drive off a bridge on the way home and leave someone who was giving you sex at the wheel behind to drown.
* A Cowboy is loyal to his "brand," to his friends, and those he rides with.
* A Leftist is loyal to the nightmares of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Fidel Castro - all of whom knew how to run billions of lives for the better. They may be gone but their song remains the same. Dance to it and make sure everyone else does too. Or else.
* Never shoot an unarmed or unwarned enemy. This was also known as "the rattlesnake code": always warn before you strike. However, if a man was being stalked, this could be ignored.
* Always smear a blameless or dangerous political enemy. Lying and innuendo is okay. Be the rattlesnake. Unless the man is stalking the same office you are. In that case smear early and smear often. Lie big and lie long.
* Never shoot a woman no matter what.
* Never seek to make love to a woman unless there are no other alternatives - including shrubs - or unless you are a woman.
* Consideration for others is central to the code, such as: Don't stir up dust around the chuck-wagon, don't wake up the wrong man for herd duty, etc.
* Being inconsiderate of personal God-given liberty is central to the code of the Left. There is no God, there is only the Party and the dream of a socialist utopia. Always stir up dust and regulations around the free market -- it can and does donate money to your opponents. Don't wake up those who depend on government hand-outs for everything. Promise more and keep them comatose.
* Respect the land and the environment by not smoking in hazardous fire areas, disfiguring rocks, trees, or other natural areas.
* Respect the small, endless fears of everyone in the environment by not smoking anywhere at anytime unless it is copious amounts of really righteous dope. Remember the first commandment of the Leftist: "Tobacco and Fox News bad. Dope and the New York Times good." Seek to have laws passed enabling everyone to smoke as much dope as they want. Then they will be too stoned to see through your insane plans. They will even think that more taxes on the rich means higher government revenues. Praise those who are disfiguring rocks, walls, and buildings with graffiti as "artistes." Return forests and farmland to their natural state -- especially if you can get them cheap via takings or public domain. Let the surviving population live like the sheep they are and eat grass.
* Honesty is absolute - your word is your bond, a handshake is more binding than a contract.
* Lies are your friend. Never let facts obfuscate falsehoods. Your word is only good for those your are speaking to at the time you are speaking. After you've promised something, forget about it. A handshake and a contract are simply lies waiting for laws to make them inoperative. If caught in a lie and under oath remember to always ask what the meaning of "is" is.
* Live by the Golden Rule.
* Live by the Rule of the Gold: If you run across anyone with gold, make them convert it to paper money and give 98% of that to the state or your re-election campaign. Require the other 2% to be donated to a charity of your choice for a tax deduction. Live the dream by buying your way into the government which will be, when that great getting-up morning arrives, the only thing on earth with any money or privilege.
[Note: I'm also looking to add to this list. The last time it came around we got this prescient statement in the comments:
West: "Never shoot a woman no matter what."
Left: "Unless she is the Republican Governor of Alaska. In which case, blast away. Be sure to remove her orange hunting vest afterwards so you can claim it was 'just an accident' and you mistook her for a caribou."]
Compare, contrast and keep track. There will be a test.
I've been away but I am back just in time for..... World Naked Gardening Day (WNGD)!
So what should you do? First of all, on May 4, 2013 find an opportunity to get naked and do some gardening. Do so alone, with friends, with family, with your gardening club, or with any other group collected for that purpose. Do it inside your house, in your back yard, on a hiking trail, at a city park, or on the streets. Stay private or go public. Make it a quiet time or make it a public splash. Just get naked and make your part of the botanical world a healthier and more attractive place.
Secondly, tell someone about your experience. No one owns this event, so it does not really matter whom you tell, but tell someone . Tell your friends about your day of naked gardening; write down what you thought of it and email it to your local newspaper; post your thoughts and images onto an Internet site; submit stories and photos to your club newsletter.This was celebrated last year at various places in Seattle but, when I tried it, I am sorry to say that elders screamed and toddlers burst into tears before I could begin to tiptoe through the tulips. SWAT was called.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.
Last Sunday in Seattle I was still sitting with my morning coffee when the phone rang. It was my old friend, the constant urban explorer, who lives a few blocks away. "I want to give you a gift," he said, "but I can't bring it to you. Instead, you've got to go to it." This man's gifts are not lightly chosen (Except for the inflatable Sarah Palin love doll -- but he's getting that one back when he least expects it.), so I listened.
"Write this down. Walk to the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in your neighborhood."
"No. No. You'll be glad you did. Then go in the main entrance and stroll along the road on the west side."
"Look to your left for a large white stone with two benches on either side of it. The name carved into the stone is 'PUDDY.' "
"Sit down on a bench and look around. That's your gift. Talk to you later. Oh, you'll want to take your camera."
I wondered for a moment if this could be some sort of geocaching joke. At the same time I knew it wasn't. He's a man with little use for the latest techno-ephemera. He values time, his and others. Sleeveless errands are not his style. It was a bright, somewhat cool, Indian Summer Sunday in Seattle and the cemetery was only a few blocks away. I suited up and out the door I went. In a few minutes I was walking into the cemetery and looking around.
Mt. Pleasant is fine cemetery as cemeteries go. Quiet and expansive without being overlarge. You can be buried with your own kind if you are Asian or Jewish, or you can just be planted helter-skelter in the great Seattle diversity plots that make up most of it's area. I've written about this place before in Small Flags, a meditation about loss and war, but the cemetery tells, as all cemeteries do, more than one kind of story if you settle your soul down and listen.
At first I was a bit disoriented inside the gates since the one-lane road winds hither and yon around the grounds and the office with the map to the grave sites is closed on Sundays. By and by, however, I spied off to my left and over near the wall of trees and bushes and chain link fencing that is the western border of the cemetery a large white stone with two white stone benches on either side. I went over and read:
Come sit with us awhile and share our sorrow. Though you weep share the joyful memories too. Look in your heart: In truth you mourn for that which has been your delight.
For Joy and sorrow are inseparable.
I've taken this ride in winters past. I've taken it as a child with my mother and father and brothers. I've taken it one New Year's Eve in New England by myself. Right into a tree and the emergency room for thirty stitches. I've taken it as a young adult under the moonlight on the banks of the frozen Red River in Fargo racing my cousins to the bottom and out onto the ice. I've taken it as a father in other winters past. It's a great ride while it lasts; one that -- barring impact with a tree -- makes you want to get up, pull the sled back up to the top and go again. One that makes you want to race your sled against the others. One that makes you want to see how many can pile on and go down, embracing the others and whooping all the way to the bottom where you all tumble off into a laughing heap.
You can take lots of rides in this life, but a full sled careening down a hill of fresh snow is the closest to a ride of pure joy as you can get. You'll find it near the top of my list of "Best Moments in This Life." It's probably on yours too. If you've never done it, move it to the top of the Bucket List now.
The man buried here died in his 45th year: R. Scott Puddy
On the morning of June 18, 2002, Scott perished doing what he loved: practicing aerobatics in a Yak-52, in the mountains of Brentwood, Calif.He was survived by his parents, his sisters, and his daughter.
The dark secret fear lurking inside you when you are a parent is that your children will die before you do. That fear came true for this family. All parents can imagine their grief, but all choose not to do so. But they did not choose, as so many do, to be utterly undone by grief. Instead they chose to balance grief with joy, "For Joy and sorrow are inseparable," and place upon this grave a bronze symbol of all that is best in this life and in this world.
It's a gift to their son, R. Scott Puddy, and a gift to any in the world who chance upon his grave. It's a gift outright.
If you ever happen to be near Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Queen Anne, Seattle, go see it. Take your camera. Send your friends. Sit a spell and leave a token, stone or blossom or leaf. When it comes to gifts like this, the gift must move. Pass it on.
[This is back from last October because Puddy's daughter came by and left a comment on the anniversary of his passing.]
In the account books of friendship, a balance can never be struck. Favors are always owing. True, there's some sort of record and you can, if you really push it, get overdrawn, but the Bank of the Friend is very forgiving of minor transgressions and small inconveniences. You can be lounging about on a weekend morning with no intention of dressing and driving out into the cold, but the call comes in and you saddle up.
"I need help with my equipment I used in the sermon."
"I thought that was just going to be one telephone."
"It got more elaborate."
("Elaborate" is a word he uses when he let his imagination get the better of his judgement. In general, he believes in simple things: zen gardens, books of quotations or jokes, a single perfect leaf next to a perfect rock, wood floors instead of shag rugs. Over the years his friends have learned to fear "elaborate.")
"More 'elaborate' huh?"
"Well, I wanted it to be a memorable sermon."
(This was in response to an invitation to give a speech at a certain Seattle church's 50th Anniversary.)
"It started when I decided to give the sermon in the chicken suit."
(He owns three full-body yellow-feathered chicken suits -- with heads. There are full-body bunny suits as well and there was once, briefly, a full-body pink gorilla suit, but that's two other stories.)
"But they've already seen the chicken suit."
"That's exactly what I thought so I decided to dress it up."
"So I went down to The Love Connection by Lake Union."
(The Love Connection is a local "Adult" Toy Shop with a special line of lingerie, leather wear, and expensive, very large dildos for the truly ambitious.)
"I told the woman at the store that I needed a large size set of red sequined bra and panties. She nodded and looked me over." (He's a large bearded man.) "It was clear she got requests like mine every day."
"I imagine that she does, this being Seattle, the headwaters of the Gay Bear community of the Greater North West. Not that there's anything wrong with that."
"Yes, but I had to explain to her that size was an issue. It had to go over my full-body chicken suit."
"What did she say to that?"
"She said, 'Oooo, kinky!' and then she got me some really spectacular foundation garments."
"I've always said that it would take a man like you to make a woman like you."
"Hey, I wanted to make my sermon memorable."
"I see that you were well on the way, but where do I come in?"
"It started with the telephone. I had to get a prop telephone. So I went to Archie McPhee."
(Archie McPhee in Seattle is the ground zero for bizarre gifts, weird props, practical jokes and rubber chickens. It is where you go when you need something nobody has.)
"We've all told you time and again to stay out of that store. It's like smoking crack for you."
"I know, I know. But I needed a prop telephone quick. One with a body, a headset and a dial."
"Did you score?"
"Yes, of course. But when I was in the store I noticed that they had a cake for rent."
"A rental cake? Doesn't that get a bit stale?"
"Not that kind of cake, Jake. But a great cake. You know, the kind that strippers can jump out of."
"More elaborate, right?"
"Exactly. In one blinding instant I put me, in a chicken suit, wearing a sequined bra and panties, jumping out of a cake with a telephone in my wing. Memorable."
"Not easily forgotten, true."
"So I rented the cake."
"Well, it is a huge cake. Six feet around at the base, four layers, five feet tall. With casters. Weighs about 125 pounds. So I had to rent a trunk. Which is where you come in."
"I'm not shoving you around a church in your chicken suit inside a five foot pink cake. Let's get that straight."
"No, no. I got that handled. Did it all. Got the cake to the church, got inside, had myself pushed out on the stage, and jumped out of the cake in the chicken suit with the foundation garments on and gave that sermon last night."
"Yes, but I don't think they're going to ask me back any time soon."
"A church has to have some standards."
"Maybe, but these are Unitarians."
"Oh. In that case, they'll probably come around."
"Anyway, I got the cake back to Archie McPhee's fine, but now I've had to return the truck way out here in Ballard and I've got no ride back. Can you come pick me up?"
"Are you still wearing the chicken suit with the bra and panties?"
"No. Of course not. Do you think I'm crazy?"
"Okay, I'm on my way, but if I see so much as a feather within a block of you I'm driving right on by."
... like some forgotten dream that we've both seen.
Like the president, you might think the soundtrack has changed since 9-11. You'd both be wrong.
Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, P. A.?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody see you up there
I got some groceries, some peanut butter,
To last a couple of days
But I ain't got no speakers, ain't got no headphones,
Ain't got no records to play
Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time
Can't write a letter, can't send no postcard,
I ain't got time for that now
Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock,
We blended in with the crowd
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines,
I know that that ain't allowed
We dress like students, we dress like housewives,
Or in a suit and a tie
I changed my hairstyle, so many times now,
I don't know what I look like!
"Just a closer walk with me...."
In my Seattle neighborhood of Queen Anne, everything necessary to life except a hospital and a gas station is within a two mile walk. If you don't drive and don't get sick, you can go from cradle to grave and never leave this map.
And if coffee's your thing, Queen Anne is the dark, hot heart of coffee culture in Seattle.
I've begun to take a two-mile daily walking tour of my neighborhood in Seattle's Queen Anne. This is mostly because of the elemental concept that I should get at least some exercise on a daily basis. It's also because of my long held belief that even with a route that is well worn and well traveled and well known, you can, if you open your mind discover something new every day.
And it is true. Today for example I discovered that if I walk around the corner and three blocks up the hill to to McGraw and Sixth it is possible to have one quick shot of espresso at Ken's market. Which I did. And then I felt like walking some more.
I took my camera and here's Queen Anne, once around the top.
Walking down and then up a hill and turning right, it is then possible to have a shot of espresso at Cafe Lladro on Queen Anne Street. Which I did. Made me want to walk.
Moving down the street two and a half blocks at a rapid clip, you can then have a shot of espresso at Cafe Diablo. Which I did. Gotta go.
Out the door and down the street two more blocks gets you to Cafe Appassionata where you can have, yes, a shot of espresso. Which I did. Moving right along.
From there you can go down the hill, making towards home, and as you do you come face to face with Cafe Florian where you can have a shot of espresso. Which I did. And then out the door I went.
After that I made my way home and I'm here to tell you thatttttttttttttttttttttttt........
Well, never mind.
Let us go then, you and I.
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
-- Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
That your tree?
I'd say it is. Quite a tree, isn't it?
You got that right. I've walked all of the top of Queen Anne today and your tree's got "Best of Show."
It's gorgeous. Just gorgeous. Every year when it blooms I know that this is as close to heaven as I'll ever get on Earth.
How old is it?
It's 36 years old. I planted it myself when I first came up here on Queen Anne. It was just a sprat when I put it in. Top came no higher than my waist and the trunk was about as big around as my big toe. Now it's over thirty feet tall and the trunk is bigger around than I am, and I'm big enough.
But I gave it what it needed. I poured everything I could bring home from work on it. I gave it fish heads. Fish tails. Oysters in the shell. A tub of guts when I had the truck and could put them in back. Just poured that ocean on it year in and year out. Just going to rot on the docks if I didn't. Thought it might be better if it rotted into my tree.
Didn't the smell give you any trouble with the neighbors?
Trouble? Nope. Wasn't no trouble at all. Thirty six years ago there weren't no neighbors to give you trouble. Only trouble I ever had in my life was from my wives. Now that they're passed on, I don't have any trouble left at all. Just me and the tree.
[HT: Iri, who reminded me.]
Billy Joel: He's a nice man, but he's gotta go.
They tell me, in this shaded room where the machines beep softly and the drip feed makes a soft “plop” every minute or so, that I am mad to declare, as I do, that my only solution is to go back in time and strangle Billy Joel in his cradle. They say that I am mad, but I say infanticide is the one ambition that still attaches me to sanity. Like Carthage, Baby Billie must be destroyed!
It wasn’t always this way with me. In fact it all started on Thanksgiving but a few weeks ago. Started, as many disasters do, by killing me softly with its love.
The parasite embedded itself in my brain during a vulnerable moment in the postprandial stupor that descended upon me after the third and last helping of Thanksgiving dinner. As the tryptophan torpor of turkey eroded my normal defenses I sat, minding my own stomach, by the warm fire in the study. Next door in the kitchen over a hot hand of Pinochle my host said, “Turn up that Billy Joel song I like.”
If I had known what that meant I would have choked myself with the leftover drumstick at that moment.
But no, I had no inkling of the horror to come. I was drifting through the hideous paragraphs of a tattered paperback novel by Dale Brown, an author who should have gone down with the Old Dog instead of living to write more books. His lulling sentences, so bad they were good, disarmed my natural defenses and so… and so….
In a few moments I heard the beginning notes of my doom. With a lilting melody backed by Thor’s piledriver bass line the following song was hammered into my brain…
It's all about soul.
It's all about faith and a deeper devotion.
It's all about soul.
'Cause under love is a stronger emotion.
In it went. So smooth and unremarked that I scarcely knew it was there. Instead I drifted off into a late Thanksgiving daydream of pecan pie, angels’ wings, dancing hamsters and waltzing kittens.
When I woke I went off to the bathroom for relief and, while washing my hands, I looked into the mirror and thought…. “It’s all about soul.”
I dried my hands and went out into the living room for coffee. As I poured cream into my coffee I watched the white fluid swirl in the dark steaming mug like the long tendrils of stars spattering the intergalactic dark and I thought to myself, “It’s all about soul.”
Later I lay in bed, restless and fitful because, I believed, of all the food I had foolishly eaten. But then my mind, tired of an hour or so of ceiling patrol, stopped me and informed me in no uncertain terms, “It’s all about soul.”
That doleful line, in perfect key, repeated itself horribly for hours and hours until, somewhere towards dawn, I slept.
I awoke in a grey dawn with the vague hope of turkey sandwiches slathered in mayo and topped with crisp lettuce and a smear of cranberry sauce. I walked innocently into the bathroom and put some toothpaste on my brush and began to clean my teeth. I glanced into the mirror and, as the bush went up and down in a familiar tempo, I heard, clear as crystal…. “It’s all about soul.”
I shook it off and went downstairs where the house guests were gathering around the cook of the morning who was turning out one tray of fresh cheese and bacon scones after another. He handed me a plate with three and asked me to take a bite. I did.
“So, what do you think about that scone?” he asked.
I said, “It’s all about soul,” lit my hair on fire and ran from the house screaming "I GOT THE FEAR! I GOT THE FEAR!"
My friends came after me and put me out with seltzer bottles. They took me back into the house, wrapped me in blankets next to the fire, and brought me hot buttered rums until I passed out.
I awoke at dusk and looked out through the mullioned windows at the sun setting rouge red behind the leafless trees that framed the sere grass and I reflected, not for the first time, "It's all about soul."
And so it went. All that long day.
And the next day.
And the one that came after and the one that came after that.
Last night I was standing in the middle of the women’s sweater section in Macy’s at the local mall here slightly north of Seattle. I thought I had finally found a place where I could escape Joel’s incessant insistance in my swollen brain pan that “It’s all about soul.”
Here, at least, the holiday Muzak would bring some shredded morsel of relief to my brain. And then, as if in response to the fading strains of “Silver Bells” I heard the insidious response to this hymn. I heard clearly that Christmas, more than any other day of the year was….
“… all about soul…
all about faith and a deeper devotion…..”
Which is when, they tell me, I began to shout and rave that Billie Joel needed to be the first person visited in my time machine so that he could be strangled in his cradle.
Ranting about strangling babes in their cradles in department stores around Christmas time is not generally appreciated and security was called.
And so here I am, comfortable enough in these restraints. They’ve given me an Internet connection to keep me “occupied.”
I appreciate it. It gives me a chance to post this warning to others as yet unafflicted by this terminal earworm while keeping another window open with this playing on a loop.
It’s a comforting situation. They tell me that, with therapy and the right medication, I’ll soon be eligible for release. There will be a Billy Joel restraining order of course, but I can live with that. When it comes to Billie Joel, I know better than most that it’s not about the singer, “It’s all about soul.”
Email Address: s_________ @___.com
Comments: "I really like these videos that put the old with the new. You had a wonderful video of Sarah Vaughan singing the theme from Peter Gunn with a whole new spin on it. Here's another really good comp of Eva Cassidy singing from beyond the grave: Chain of Fools..."
And then there's Sarah Vaughan singing Peter Gunn. Cool, man. Far out, bro. Way gone, daddyo....Continued...
"This was a year-long experiment with a time-lapse camera in my window, and 40,000 still images made into a short film."
For about 2 years in 2006-2008, I lived just outside Bloomington, Indiana, at the edge of one of the more wooded regions in the midwest.... One afternoon, as fall approached, I wondered what might happen if I set a camera up and took pictures everyday from the same window. I might be able to get changing seasons and blend them into a film. A big issue was how to set up. To work, a dedicated camera and tripod were needed (constantly setting up and moving things would introduce error into the framing). I couldn't use my main camera(s) as I needed them for other things. So in the end, I used a spare Nikon coolpix 5400, which even in 2006 was obsolete.Continued...
-- P.J. O'Rourke, Peace Kills
In the last few years two older men whom I had turned to for wisdom and good stories passed, and the difference between their final years was illustrative.
The first, married to my grandmother, I had known since I was a child. As he got older I learned more of his life before their union, and it was not an exemplary one. He had changed dramatically under the influence of his final wife, but he was, in all ways, a real bastard in his youth to early middle age.
As his body failed and death was near, he held on with ever greater ferocity. He lost his body, his mind, and towards the end -- in a quiet moment together -- he slightly bared his soul when he confessed that what he feared wasn't dying, but what lie on the other side; the inevitable penance for the crimes against God and man he had committed in youth.
The other death, just this last week, was of a good friend and mentor, whose life was lived fully and without regrets. He was married to his first and only wife. His children had children of their own. He was always gracious and open with friends and enemies alike. In the end, with death imminent, he worked to ensure none would be put out by his passing, and handled the arrangements himself, right down to the catering.
From what I was told, the end was swift and largely painless as he allowed the drugs to ease the pain and his soul to be released.
In both cases, the men who had taught me a great deal about how to be a man continued to teach me to the very end, As I continue to see and interact with the aged, I can't help but notice that the ones who have peace in their hearts and mind believe and have lived as if a reward is awaiting them, and those who display anger, bitterness, and despair seem to be trying to convince themselves that there is nothing to be afraid of on the other side. -- Posted by: dan at March 27, 2013 4:35 PM
I have the house loaded with explosives. Forty five seconds after I flatline, the whole neighborhood goes up. Posted by: Lorne at March 27, 2013 4:47 PM
The creative contextualization of a play like The Vagina Monologues can bring certain perspectives on important issues into a constructive and fruitful dialogue with the Catholic tradition. This is a good model for the future. Accordingly, I see no reason to prohibit performances of The Vagina Monologues on campus, and do not intend to do so. -- The Dickless Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President, University of Notre Dame
Like the distinguished, befuddled, and outflanked Father above, I too -- in a spasm of "creative contextualization"-- seek to bring "certain perspectives on important issues into a constructive and fruitful dialogue" here at American Digest. To further that mission, I shall now reveal that a secret evening of drama has been taking place in numerous locations about the nation. We are all aware of the unstoppable chunk of mummery and flummery, flattery and chattery, known as "The Vagina Monologues," but few know -- and few deserve to know -- about the blowback (so to speak) that is "The Dick Dialogues."
"The Dick Dialogues" is usually performed on the down-low in the basements of sports bars, carefully darkened car-repair garages, and the deepest forest amphitheaters of the Bohemian Grove. Attendance is strictly male and strictly invitation-only since in many states the mere thought of giving a performance of "The Dick Dialogues" would constitute a hate-crime.
Modeled on the successful NPR series "Car Talk," a typical episode of "The Dick Dialogues" consists of two men, traditionally named "Plick" and "Plack," slumped in Lay-Z-Boys in a Rec Room. Here they field calls on a speaker phone from a series of male and female and neuter voices. The actors, clad in the traditional garb of jeans, t-shirts, baseball caps and army boots, respond to the questions on the spot during an extended half-time at a fantasy football league's Super Bowl. The cost of admission is a donation that is suggested to be equal to one month of the attendee's child support payments.
Spontaneous, unrehearsed, and always faintly pissed-off, the "Dialogues" continue to gather fans and acolytes in the secret Royal Order of Meese (Named after the Sainted Ed Meese, blessed be his Attorney General's Commission on Pornography.) in cities here and abroad wherever non-gelded males still are to be found -- either in captivity or free-ranging.
I recently attended a performance of "The Dick Dialogues" in the greater Seattle area. At first it was to be performed at a fishing net warehouse down near the locks at Lake Union, but the proximity of the locks to the University of Washington and its vast stocks of neutered males made this a security risk. So it was moved to a secret location in the model rooms at a Renton superstore code named "AEKI."
While waiting for the show to start, early arrivals were entertained with classic skits such as "If You Really Loved Me, You'd Buy Me a House," "Darling, You'll Never Guess How Much I Saved Shopping Today," "Please Pay Off My Credit Cards Again," and "What the Frikin' Hell Are 'Window Treatments' Anyway?"
The performance began at midnight with sacred de-estrogenation rituals involving the burning of large numbers of cigars, the consumption of local malt beverages, and ten choruses of Kumbaya topped off with a coordinated group belch.
I am forbidden to disclose the full text of that evening's Dick Dialogues, but one particular exchange does stick in the mind.
Halfway through the evening, the phone rang in the "Rec Room" and a reedy, frustrated female voice asked:
I've recently returned my vintage Dick to the general Dick pool, but find I still need one from time to time for the small chores and larger tensions of my life. I'm reluctant to buy a new Dick outright in this market? Do you know where I can rent one? Or would leasing one be a better deal?
The evening's official Dick Dialoguers rolled their eyes, did a Jagermeister shot, popped open a Bud, took a big hit off Ghengis Bong and answered as follows:Continued...
This graphic shows the 10 largest state-to-state migration flows in and out of California for the period 1955-1960 compared to that of 1995-2000. In the late 1950s, the largest flows involving California were all inflows to the state, generally from states in the Midwest or Northeast. This pattern contrasted with the flows in the late 1990s, where nearly all of the largest migration streams involving California represented out-migration to other states.Of course if it showed another arrow, fat and gold, poking in from Mexico, all might be revealed. But that would be too much truth, wouldn't it?
Who let them out? Why are they everywhere? On the corners, by the entrances to supermarkets, at the crossings, and all over the place. They swoop into the neighborhood in massive SUVs driven by classic MILFs. They pull in, tumble out giggling, and yank their card tables and their boxes of contraband from the back. Then they set up their offerings in stacks, and slap crude handmade signs with a heavy helping of glitter on the tables. Then they don their gang colors and get to work on you.
They are the most ruthless retail agents known to man. They are virtually irresistable in their peddling of their wares. They do it with cutting edge cute, and they have no scruples concerning your desperate attempt to diet away the winter flab.
They are the Girl Scouts and no matter how I try I cannot avoid them.
Their web of pushers has been strung across Seattle. They don't even offer the first one free. They just jibber-jabber among themselves with their guardian MILF smiling knowingly at you. Sometimes, when the junkies are slow to line up for their fix, they do things like cartwheels or jump rope. Then they get your attention. The MILF sees this and smiles again.
And you are sunk. You have no hope of escape. Your whole universe of abstaining from sugar collapses. The few measly ounces you've lost by denying yourself that fourth scoop of Cherry Garcia at one in the morning are swamped by the tsunami of the C.U.T.E. in their little vests with their patches. You world of hope for a change in your gut is gone, and the only thing left for you is the stark choice: Thin Mints or Samoas?
I've tried to escape their clutches, but it's no good. Today, desperate to kick after discovering last night that I could hear a box of Thin Mints calling to me through a closed door, I even invented a granddaughter.
The MILF saw my glance at their cookie table and smiled. I said, having bought no less than three boxes of their krispy krack over the last week, "I'm sorry, but my granddaughter has made me swear to buy cookies only from her troop." (I have no granddaughter, but I was in despair.)
One of her henchgirls shrugged and did a cartwheel while the other two looked disappointed in that trademark Girl Scout disappointed look that I'm sure they give a patch for.
"Oh, don't worry," said the MILF. "We'll never tell. Right girls?"
"We'll never-ever tell," said all three virtually in unison as if they'd practiced it throughout all of February at their Girl Scout/MILF coven meetings.
It was all over for me. All I could say was,
Lauren Greenfield photographed these New York professionals and found out how much they spend each month on their personal grooming. Does spending more mean looking better? (Left to right) Laura (25), $145 per month, Suzanne (36), $1720 per month and Claudine (29), $80 per month.
WELL, WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO when hookups, advancement and position still depend on Very Personal Grooming? She spends and spends and spends... and it would seem spends even more as the years add up. In this photo essay you can see some of the rituals, rites, and supplies that women -- even in this enlightened age -- still feel compelled to pile on themselves in their search for dates, mates, and advancement.
Beauty has become a pricey commodity; spending on Botox, spa treatments, designer makeup, cosmetic surgery, fitness and dieting total up to $160 billion dollars each year. Some women spend $1700 monthly on beauty, more than many women pay for rent.Sounds like a lot, but think of it as an investment in a rent-free future.
"So gentlemen, please sit back and enjoy your first trip into The Twilight Zone.... [Serling vanishes] ... See what I mean? And this is nothing compared to the way jars of Instant Sanka will be disappearing off of grocery shelves come this fall."
Watch The Twilight Zone‘s 1959 Pilot Episode, Pitched by Rod Serling Himself for the first eight minutes.
“You gentlemen, of course, know how to push a product. My presence here is for much the same purpose: simply to push a product. To acquaint you with an entertainment product which we hope, and which we rather expect, would make your product-pushing that much easier. What you’re about to see, gentlemen, is a series called The Twilight Zone. We think it’s a rather special kind of series.”
Sidenote: Check the wide pan shot at 15:23 for an early appearance of Courthouse Square as seen in the Back to the Future series.Continued...
It is truly said that "America is so rich our poor people are obese." That seems to grow more true by the moment for the poor, low-information eaters teetering among us on wobbling platform heels or swooping past us in those little electric carts in the supermarkets.
Conversely is also said that "you can never be to rich or too thin." To confirm that the rich among us are always fooling around with their intake in a binge/purge self-fornication festival. On the one hand many among our rich of pallor have chosen to feed on the lard-laden excrement doled out daily by the current administration and are lining up to by more. On the other hand it would seem that the same wan affluent are lining up to buy food that is so refined and uptight that it has been entirely stripped of what any other culture, any other era, would recognize as... well... food itself. So deep is the affluent American's longing for thin that we have now arrived at "food free food."
It is no surprise to anyone paying attention to the long and unwinding national nutrition neurosis that we need to have some new mountain of diet bullshit to climb every five years of so.
Mount Lo-Fat No-Fat.
Mount Creamy No-Fat.
Yes, it is a libidinal landscape made of featureless false and phony foods. It is a dietary desert of drifting sans. Sans lactose. Sans meat. Sans chicken. Sans land animal. Sans face. Salt free. Sugar free. Gluten free. And, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever will be, Kosher.
Up and up the bullshit steams in a never ending inward spinning gyre of dietary dreck and nutritional nuttiness so complicated and so intertwined in morality and self-image that there seems to be, at times, nothing left to eat in a country that has more food per capita than any other nation in the history of the world. To quote that great American philosopher, Chester A. Riley, "What a revoltin' development this is."
It now seems to be the case that the food fetish factories of the world, in an effort to separate the American rich from their extra money, have pushed the pedal to the metal now that it is clear the American dollar is about to go the way of the Zimbabwe dollar. Just last month I noticed the store in my neighborhood was selling bags of crispy kelp flakes. That's right. Kelp aka "Seaweed." A bag of these unfrosted flakes weighing in at less than an ounce was being offered up "on sale" for $4.99. A quick bit of grocery store math tells you that some company in collusion with the store seemed to feel it could retail its product for $60 a pound. Sixty smackers a pound. For.... Kelp aka "Seaweed." Weed from the sea..... An offer beyond bogglement.
But I only wandered in that brave new kelpflaked world beyond bogglement for a bit before I came across, just this afternoon, a new product that offered me even less food for more money. It was something called "Crispibread" and its selling points were proudly displayed on the box:
There you have it. To say this food is "vegan" (as it does) is to underestimate its nothingness. Free of nuts. Free of soy. Free of gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, and that evil life form, yeast. Free of it all. Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free of food at last!
Our long national nightmare is over.
No, not "blind dating" where the danger is in the dated one, but "bungee dating" where the danger lurks in the date itself. "Bungee dating" because one finds oneself jumping into a situation that is 100 feet deep with a bungee cord that extends to 101 feet.
Thus it was with this sorry pilgrim, this old and true friend, who called my West Coast retreat from New York this morning, tattered and battered from his bungee date of the previous evening, telling his tale of testosterone-powered urban woe.
He will be distressed that I have related it here, but it is for the greater good I do so. Men, take heed. Ladies are advised to avert their delicate eyes.
So I'm having this telephone relationship with her, see? You know, the kind of relationship where you're doing this long dance to the tune of "Getting to Know You," and its going pretty well.
I mean, I like it the way it is. We don't see each other a lot because of jobs, errands, New York yadda-yadda, and all that sort of thing. But also its neat, unusual, to spend hours on the telephone just sort of chatting away.
I *never* talk on the phone this long with anyone, but she's clever with questions and sort of keeps me blathering away. I don't feel weird about it until after when I notice that she's winkled all this information about me out of me, but I still don't know a lot about her.
She's a reporter type. I keep feeling I'm getting my notes taken, you know. But still I like it. I mean, hey, it's all about me so who wouldn't?
Still, we are really not having enough face time. She's getting all these weird ideas about me -- which just aren't true. Or maybe they are and I don't like being in such total disclosure with a telephone relationship.
Anyway, she's been under a lot of stress -- job, sick loved ones, hangovers, insecurity, the whole mini-catastrophe. She's sounding fried on the phone and I'm getting the 'let me help you' impulse big time. So when she mentions how uptight her body is, I say, utterly innocently, "I know just how you feel. We need a spa night with major shiatsu massages. That'll tune us up."
The next thing that should have gone through my mind was a dum-dum bullet, but sadly that did not happen.Continued...
INT. UNDERGROUND DC PARKING GARAGE. BOTTOM LEVEL. NIGHT.
Libra's footsteps echo off the walls. Flickering neon light buzzes. In the corner of the garage a whole sector of lights has gone dark. Shadows thicken. A lighter flickers in the darkness as a cigar is lit.
LIBRA: Carthago. Countersign?
CENTURION: Delenda est. Sort of overly dramatic don't you think?
LIBRA: Not paid to think. What is the assignment?
CENTURION: The Wing thinks it's time to lay a little blue smoke between the mirrors. Take the heat off our team and torch the other side. That's your job.
LIBRA: Fine. How wet does the Wing want it to get?
CENTURION: We project that if three team members are put down it should put a stop to any attrition in 2014.
LIBRA: Wouldn't taking out just one serve the same purpose?
CENTURION: No. It has to look like a pattern.
LIBRA: Fine. Any particular team members you need erased?
CENTURION: Nobody from Chicago or San Francisco. And from safe seats only. We need to preserve the count. Renegade's very keen on that.
LIBRA: Level of obfuscation?
CENTURION: None. Public and messy. "Accidents" would be counter productive. But no families. Renaissance would be upset.
CENTURION: Within the next 10 days. It would be best if all three were within the same day.
LIBRA: You want target clearance and notification?
CENTURION: No. This will be the last contact for this contract.
LIBRA: Half to the Bahamas account by noon tomorrow and the half on completion to our friend in Costa Rica.
LIBRA: Anything else?
CENTURION: No. If we need you again we can always find you.
LIBRA: That's what you people always think. Oh, by the way, was that stuff about you getting naked with Renegade over the golf weekend the real deal?
CENTURION: Just get it done.
FADE TO BLACK
Big Data comes to Professional Porn: Deep Inside - A Study of 10,000 Porn Stars by Jon Millward.
They seem to be light and lively:
The average male and female performer are the same height as the average American man and woman: 5’10″ and 5’5″ respectively.2 However, porn stars are quite a bit lighter. At 117 lbs, the average female performer is a considerable 48 lbs under the national average for women, and the average male, at 167.5 lbs, weighs 27 lbs less than the national average for men.
And, no, they don't have bodacious tatas:
The most common bra size for a female porn star is a surprisingly handleable 34B. Not double-D, not even a D. Double-D actually came in 4th, behind B, C and D. The most common set of measurements for the women was 34-24-34.
And, yes, porn looks like America:
The proportions of each race match the general American population almost exactly, despite the fact that race is still heavily fetishized in porn.
At the same time, traditionalists will be pleased to know that porn stars make a nice couple: "Nikki Lee and David Lee—the most common first and last names of porn stars."
Much more safe for work than you think.
PS Blondes evidently do not have more fun: "Dark-haired porn stars outnumber blonde ones almost 2-to-1."
[Note: Last week's cruising debacle resulted in thousands of articles and comments including this one: 7 Reasons to Never Ever Ever Vacation on a Cruise Ship It also caused me to revisit my own brief flirtation with cruising some years back and add the 8th reason: It's BOR-ING!]
"A life on the ocean waves,
A home on the rolling deep..."
-- Sea Shanty
In travel I once thought there were only three levels of tedium that overtake one between departure to destination. If you go by car, your tedium level is light. You have the power to interrupt your journey at any point as well as a changing view and a task, driving, for diversion. Travel by rail or bus introduces you to the second level of tedium when only scheduled stops enable you to break the journey, but the scenery remains in the middle distance as a diversion. Should you go by air, your despair and terror are lessened by the knowledge that, except for extreme distances, your powerlessness and lack of view will at least last no more than a day.
The three levels of tedium. Each more or less equal to the others and each part of what you pay for wanting to indulge in the mindlessness of modern travel. But I have, this week discovered, a fourth level and this level contains all the horrors of travel plus the horrors of actually being there. This is a level of tedium previously unexplored by me, but rumored to exist by sensible travelers who have gone and returned to tell the tale. I should have believed them but, like the fool I have always been, I had to experience it myself. Right now I am still trapped within the confines of the experience but it isn"t too soon to send out a warning in the hopes that there are others out there who will not be the fool I was; who will turn back before committing themselves to this constantly renewing fresh hell on the ocean waves.
But should you have a taste for tedium, should boredom be like mother"s milk and daily bread (lots of it) to you, you will be surfeited by this otherwise antiquated mode of travel. Indeed, for sheer, mind obliterating tedium, for the kind of vacancy induced only by event horizons with no events and fewer horizons; for a feeling that arises in no experience other than incarceration, there is nothing that can beat the tedium induced by that modern masterpiece of torpor, stupor and pointlessness, the Cruise Ship.Continued...
Some people like ballet but I've always been one for the subtleties and wistful nuance of interpretive dance. This brief example is surely one of the finest of that wistful genre of deeper insight and feeling when it comes to the dance. Indeed, discerning connoisseurs of dance will rejoice at seeing, once again, the most moving moment in the history of dance coming in at 1:22.
Indeed, so wonderful and universal is this moment that scholars of the dance may want to study it closely a few times. In that way they can deepen their understanding of the manner in which the dancer's restrained and even, deconstructively speaking, [airquote]chained[unairquote] angst and fin-de-siecle malaise can be released into an ever evolving gyre of praise to freedom emerging like a reluctant toadstool through the elemental torrent that is released upon her. As well as wanting to get her a towel for a stimulating rubdown. I am not sure if a dissertation on this theme and moment has been written but I am sure that, if one is written, it will be an original contribution to knowledge.
“I’m no yenta, but I think this is going to work." - Jim Rogers
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Submitted for your consideration an item most notable for its soothing palliative tone in which the unusual is normalized. As the age's intellectual insanity assumes the proportions of a plague, the experience of reading the herald of these plague years, the New York Times, becomes more and more like reading dispatches from the alternate universe of "hoping these changes stick." That the changes can only stick if the core of the more normative America holds both economically and militarily (even as the 'changy' culture struggles to destroy it) is where the hoping enters in.
Still it is an item imbued with sweetness in the coyly named "Weddings & Celebrations" section of the Times. It really has it all when it comes to the modern nature of love in a time of cultural cholera: Vows - Kate Adamick and Kay Diaz - Weddings and Celebrations - NYTimes.com [Emphasis carefully added]
"The two women were introduced Feb. 4, 2008, via an e-mail message from their mutual friend, Jim Rogers, the New York State deputy attorney general in the social justice division, for which Ms. Diaz, 45, is a senior trial counsel....
On Valentine’s Day the women exchanged photographs. “It’s an absolute bonus she is as beautiful as she is,” Ms. Adamick said. They scheduled their first phone call four days later. Lengthy, nightly conversations ensued....
The next day Ms. Adamick flew back to New York from California. To her surprise, Ms. Diaz was waiting for her at Newark Liberty airport with two dozen roses. The connection was instantaneous. “She dropped the flowers on the ground and kissed me,” Ms. Adamick said. “We were making out in the car like two teenagers,” Ms. Diaz said. By the following morning they were engaged. 'It just came out of my mouth...' "
A little more than a year later, on May 8, the couple were legally married by Jeanne Laughlin, a Connecticut justice of the peace, in a conference room at the Stamford Government Center.
They exchanged yellow pipe-cleaner rings, saving their engraved gold bands for their public ceremony the next day, when Mr. Rogers — who had introduced them — led them through their vows in the three-story atrium of 632 on Hudson, an event space in a 19th-century New York town house.
“All my life I searched for you, but never thought I’d find you,” Ms. Adamick said. “All my life I dreamed of you, but never dreamed you were real.”
Mr. Rogers said, “You may both kiss the bride,” and their 96 friends and family cheered as the couple smiled exuberantly.
"And," as Walter Cronkite would totalled up the whole passel of perfection if he'd attended, "That's the way it is."
Having not been invited, all I can say is that they seem like a nice, attractive couple and that I wish them all the happiness they can garner from the world. Life's tough enough on the denizens of this relentlessly advancing and evolving world, and tougher still without love.
And yet for all that it seems to me that the report of the affair as scribbled by the oddly yet predictably named "Devan Sipher" in the 'paper of [the broken] record' is trying too hard to retain a deadpan affect; a state in which the writing does not "dumb it down" so much as it "blands it out."Continued...
"The late Paul Harvey was a masterful throaty narrator in the romantic age
before the onset of America's now ubiquitous metrosexual nasal intonation. Harvey just didn't sound different from the present generation, but from what we suspect, he sounded different from most generations to come as well. One reason that our age cannot make a Shane, High Noon, or The Searchers is that most of our suburban Hollywood actors cannot even fake the accent of either the frontier or the tragic hero anymore. When Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall go, so goes too the last link to the cinema's Westerner. There are no more voices like Slim Pickens or Ben Johnson. One of the successes of the commercial is that the photographed farmers did not speak, and left the impression of mute superiority." --Works and Days | The Super Bowl Farmers
Created by the strange brain in the jar at Tom the Dancing Bug Blog.
You brought it to my attention everything that was made in God
Down through centuries of great writings and paintings
Everything lives in God
Seen through architecture of great cathedrals
Down through the history of time
Is and was in the beginning and evermore shall be
When will I ever learn to live in God?
When will I ever learn?
He gives me everything I need and more
When will I ever learn?
It's large. And so....
After all, why rewrite what's been done before?
An Associated Press article Monday declared a healthy jobs market, fantastic auto sales, a surging housing market, and a stock market rocketing to new all-time highs. What’s not to love? ***Continued...
"Everything is amazing and nobody's happy. We're not happy because for the first time in our history we're not allowed to be happy."
C'mon, invest the 20 minutes. You've got nothing more important to do in the next half hour.Continued...
[ At last I'm getting Saturdays off!: Postal Service to Cut Saturday Mail Whew! Just in time.]
1. Somewhere in this great land a concerned and responsible corporation is having their twice weekly colorful and compelling advertising supplement printed on 100% recycled paper.
2. As soon as they are completed millions of these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements are shipped by truck to the various regional receiving centers of the U. S. Post Office.
3. From those centers, any number of allocated pallets of these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements are broken out, put on U.S. post office trucks and delivered to local postal carrier destinations inside Seattle.
4. My postal carrier and hundreds of others report for work at local postal carrier centers throughout Seattle, and load up their vans with enough of these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements to deliver one or more to each and every house on their route.
5. My very polite postal carrier parks her van at the end of my block and loads her sack with these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements.
6. She comes up my walk, up the porch stairs, and deposits my full share of these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements into my mailbox with a clang every day between one and three in the afternoon.
7. Hearing the clang I wend my weary way to the front door and open my mailbox and pluck out said colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements.
8. With a sigh I go back in, trudge through my house, out my back door to the alley, and place the colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements into my Recycling bin.
9. Tomorrow the huge, lumbering Seattle Recycling garbage truck will stop and empty my Recycling bin into its maw and haul what is in it off to the Seattle Recycling center.
10. The collected colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements will then be shipped, by truck, to the center for turning recyclable paper into..... recycled paper which will then be used by a concerned and responsible corporation for their twice weekly colorful and compelling advertising supplements printed on 100% recycled paper.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Next year postage will increase because the U.S. Postal "Service" will need more money to keep this thing going.
"A rural mailman travels up a creek bed toward Morris Fork near Jackson, Ky., in August 1940.; K. Ng rides a Segway on his mail route in July 2002 in San Francisco."
Gazing out the window on a February Saturday deep in the winter of our discontent. Overcast, cold, rainy-- then....
SUNBREAK! Quick! Get dressed!...
Too late... rain ... as per usual in Seattle. If any city could use "climate change" right now, it's Seattle. Indeed, if you listen to the Orwellian bleaters that infest this city the current Seattle catechism for the "climate change" religion is the catch phrase, "Colder is warmer."
Seattle on a February Saturday. Boring.
So, because I am an American, I took refuge in the American mantra, "When the going gets boring, the bored go shopping."
Shopping, our shared cultural catatonia. ....
Just say shop!.... Just do it!.... Get out there and ....buy, buy, BUY.... something you don't need. Then buy some accessories for it. You'll need those to make the thing you don't need work like you don’t need it to.....Then you haul the unneeded crap back home and add to the other crap you don't need. Finding what we don't need and piling it up is what we do, I guess. Like many others I can resist it in my normal state, but not, I find, when I'm bored. You have a similar problem.
Result? I found myself driving in a fugue state through the used-to-be-industrial maze of south Seattle in the rain. I'd been to where I was going once before and was trying, like a half-blind man with a short white stick, to triangulate my way by driving the highways and flyovers that shoot along the fringes of this once muscular, once thriving industrial district. Now the glazed green alien gaze of the Starbucks queen looks down on it from Starbucks Galactic Headquarters as the aliens within plot how they can possibly put a Mini-Me-Starbucks into your bedroom closet.
And the big box stores grow all around and around, and the big box grows all around....
After a few blind alleyways and false turns I pulled into the CostCo parking lot. If I hadn't been in a Internet-overload hypnotic state this move alone would have immediately struck me as a bad idea. The sign certain? Cars shadowing shoppers slowly back to wherever they happen to be parked. Pick the wrong shopper flock and you can find yourself far, far away from the store entrance observing a spontaneous tailgate party featuring cold burritos. I got lucky and, shadowing a gaggle of shoppers, found a slot near the entrance. It was the end of my luck.
Like Rick who came to Casablanca for the waters, I'd joined CostCo for the tires. It makes a certain amount of sense since the savings on these plebeian but necessary items can be substantial. Since buying the tires, I hadn't been back and hadn't been exposed to the red kryptonite in the main cavern. Grabbing an abandoned cart, I entered the cavern of CostCo, flashing my card to the autonod of the otherwise unemployable person at the entrance.
Remember the haunting Cooleridge poem "Kubla Khan" that he wrote on the downside of an opium jag?
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
Well forget it. Except for "caverns measureless" and the opiate effect, Costco's nothing like that.
I don't know why Wal-Mart is taking all the heat for box-store degradation of truth, justice and the American Way of Really Rich Americans. A brief tour of Costco reveals it is a much cheesier organization with the exploitation of the aged, the infirm, the alien, and the disabled more obviously on display. But who knows why some companies become fashionable to disparage while others get a semi-pass? It probably has to do with the jerking knee that says either, "Biggest is baddest," or "The deepest pocket is the easiest to pick." It may also have something to do with Costco's founder jamming his overflowing sewer pipe from his money bin deep into the gaping orifices at the eternal Obama campaign..... but I digress.
The Wal-Mart stores that I've been in have the charm of a Swiss village compared to the Gulag atmosphere of CostCo. Oh, Costco has a look. The look is as if the Costco "Decor" vice president decreed, ”Hey, just pour a slab of concrete, drop bunches of crap here and there on the grid, and be done with it. Huh? Oh, okay slap up some industrial shelves so the bodegas of the world can find their salsa stock. And bolt some airport landing lights on the ceiling so you need to put on sunscreen before entering. Just light that sucker up so that nobody can smuggle a buttload of pretzels out the door.”
It is also evident to a single person in CostCo -- in about two nanoseconds -- that he or she needs to rent a family of 12 illegal aliens to get any real value out of the place. I mean, I like pickle relish on hot dogs just fine, but a two gallon container is probably enough that I can pass some on to my heirs even if I live another twenty years.
But all this carping arises from, as Wordsworth decreed, "Emotion recollected in tranquility." The truth is that the moment I entered the measureless cavern of Costco my brain was colonized by its Conquistaconsumadoros and I was plunged into a fugue state.
I glanced at the recommended "small televisions" and rapidly lost interest. Still, my reptile consumer brain said, "You've come all this way and the bargains abound around you. You have to get something. Shop, shop, shop, my precious.... your eyelids are getting heavy, your wallet is getting light..... shop.... shop....."
In this brain-wiped state I rolled my cart about the wasteland eating this or that small bite of a food sample offered by one person or another for whom English was neither the first, second, nor third language. All the samples were, as I imagine most of the food "bargains" were, markedly mediocre. It was as if Costco had decided to make all the food previously "Not Available in Stores" available in their stores. The idea here is that if you take a bite of "Hoosegow Chili" you incur an obligation to by a large vat of the stuff. What you can do with a vat of Hoosegow Chili, I don't know. Maybe open up a scrotum vulcanization stand on a dark desert highway.
At some point in my trance I must have put things in my cart although I kept wandering away and losing it, and then spending five minutes finding it again. I remember noticing, in some vague way, that the crowd and their gigantic carts was growing denser and denser as the minutes ticked away, but I did not yet understand the deeper more horrible meaning of the hordes on this particular Saturday.
Then, just as my degradation deepened, I was saved. Saved by the bell. My cell-phone rang.... loudly and vibrating at the same time. (Hard to ignore the vibrating ring in your pants.) I answered it. It was a fellow Pajamaista (who assumes that I am always in front of the screen) about a detail on the home page. He was startled when I told him I wasn't in front of the computer and could only mumble, "I... must... shop... must... shop... must.”
He said, “Man, you’re in Costco on this Saturday? Are you crazy? Flee. FLEE!”
He hung up and I found that, suddenly, I'd been slapped back into reality. And it was grim.
The horror. The horror. I realized that I had, in my fugue state, placed myself in the back of a gigantic box-store with minor in big screen TVs and a major in massive portions of food on the Saturday before the Superbowl.
Such a deep ring of hell is not where you want to be unless you have a burning-down football habit, which I do not. I barely know that the football, baseball, or basketball season is on; except for the fact that the basketball season is pretty much always on. (That's the running, jumping, hanging on goalposts, very tan tall-guys game, right?)
Still, there I was, blind and gulping like a cave fish in the deepest depths of the Costco caverns, the part back by the topless temple of toilet paper, 24 hours before kick-off, and around me countless hordes were preparing to feed even larger hordes.
I shoved my way through the cartlock around the beer and hot dogs to the center aisle where I could see, barely, the front of the store. In one horrified glance I saw that the Superbowlers were clogging the register lanes to a depth of about 500 fathoms. A quick consultation of my check-out line algorithm determined that if I joined the line at that very moment with my cart I might reach the parking lot with my crap around the end of the second Obama administration.
This is the kind of blood-simple shopping moment that makes grown men ask, "How bad do you want the stuff you've got?"
Hard to answer since, frankly, I wasn't sure exactly what I'd put in the cart in the first place. A glance down into the cart let me see my shame. It seems that in my shopping daze I'd decided I needed, out of everything on offer in Costco, two large Orchid plants and eight low-energy light bulbs. I have no idea why I put them in. Perhaps because the orchid plants made it easy to spot the cart in order to put nothing else in it.
Two orchid plants and eight light bulbs in a cart at the back of Costco equals one abandoned shopping cart, and me back in the car and heading to the nearest south Seattle dive bar in order to clear my mind.
But first I called my colleague back to thank him for snapping me out of it.
As I left the parking lot I had to drive carefully between the endless hordes pushing large carts filled with mountains of mediocre food and very large television screens. There would be a lot of cooking and assembly and swearing far into the night in Seattle. I wished them well.
Now I'm back online and much more interested in what's going on today. It's so calm here. Just me and you... and you're pretty quiet.
Soon the Superbowl kickoff will roll around and everyone who went to Costco and all the other stores yesterday will be at home for hours this afternoon. The only thing more boring than the much-touted and now utterly predictable ads will be the game itself.
Want to go shopping? I know where you can get a great deal on orchids and light bulbs this afternoon. Best of all, there'll be nobody there.
In 1955, Life magazine looked into its crystal ball to imagine “what life may be like in A.D. 1980.”
Unhappy about the weather? Everybody talking but nobody doing anything about it? Well, just get in touch with the Atomic Weather Commission. A flick of the nuclear switch, and presto! — the North Pole melts, the vast continent of Antarctica thaws into productive use, Greenland grows bananas, Vermont grows oranges, and everybody’s heating bill vanishes. Not fantastic at all, according to mathematician John von Neumann, who also predicts that energy may be just about as “free as the unmetered air.” So, no light bills. -- The utopia of global warming | ROUGH TYPE
Well, by the 1980s things were indeed looking up as exemplified by the one-hit wonder Timbuk3's one-hit "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades".Continued...
An operetta for our time! Atlanta? You bet. Now if you think this a comment in many way upon our society you just might be right. The comment application is below. Back it up! It tops "I Got the Hookup." [Langauge warning. Social behavior warning. Parental technique warning. No-information voter warning.]
HT: Rodger, Real King of France
UPDATED with commentary from Top Rope Zeus, plus frame by frame audience reaction from Daniggawitdatattoos who notes, "Atlanta, what the fuck? For real? What the fuck is going on in Atlanta? She deserves every piece of that taser. And her kids? They shoulda had little baby tasers…." And then there's analysis provided by The Advise Show on the nature of hood rats and thugs. Illuminating. "That man has the hardest job in America. Like I said, look at Chicago. I call gangs 'domestic terrorism.' They're bred to kill black men.":Continued...
"Police say they have only the public's safety at heart which is why this happens at night. They want us to tell you, again, it is just a military training exercise."
Look at it this way: In the camps we won’t have to worry about obesity.
[HT: Blur Brain]
UPDATE: Houston's in on the act too. Do you see or hear helicopters? Army training exercise happening on Houston's south side | abc13.com HT: Don Sensing
So remember, like they say in Houston: "If you see the helicopters or hear gunfire, it’s only a drill."
[Note: Item received in email this morning.]
This car was assembled on November 11th of 1910. Normally, 1909/1910 style bodies were wooden, but this 1910 style body is partially steel, the only one known; presumably a transition to the use of all steel bodies in 1911. It was originally delivered to R.E. Lawrence in Astoria, IL. Vernon Jarvis of Decatur, IL, purchased the car in 1951 and later displayed it in his Early American Museum at Silver Springs, FL, until in 1967, when the current owner bought it. After 30 years in storage, restoration was completed in March, 2007.
The year is 1910, over one hundred years ago.
The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.
Fuel for this car was sold in drug stores only.
Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.
Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.
The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!
The average US wage in 1910 was 22 cents per hour.
The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME.
Ninety percent of all Doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!
Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as 'substandard.'
Sugar cost four cents a pound.
Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.
The five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
4. Heart disease
The American flag had 45 stars.
The population of Las Vegas Nevada was only 30!
Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented yet.
There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.
Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write and only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.
There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A.!
I am now going to forward this to someone else without typing it myself.
From there, it will be sent to others all over the WORLD... all in a matter of seconds!
Outside the ancient offices of the Cosmoangelic Book Publishers that I once worked in at 2 Park Street in Boston, an old lady stood with her back to the old bricks on every working day. A square yard of sidewalk was her office. Eyes behind thick glasses were watery-gray. She stood hunched in a permanent flinch like some dog who'd been struck too many times for nothing. She dressed in clean, shabby, but not too shabby, clothing -- warm enough for the winters and cool enough when summer came around at last. To all who passed by her office she repeated her Bostonian-inflected mantra:
"Spare a quarta?"
"Spare a quarta?"
"Spare a quarta?"
She stood to the left of the entrance for part of the day and to the right for the remainder. You didn't know when she'd shift, but she always seemed to be in your path as you came out of the building.
Going for some coffee?
"Spare a quarta?"
Going to lunch?
"Spare a quarta?"
Going to skip out on the afternoon and catch a matinee?
"Spare a quarta?"
I once spared her a quarta and went into the Boston Commons with a newspaper and watched her work at her job.
"Spare a quarta?"
"Spare a quarta?"
"Spare a quarta?"
She asked everyone. It was the secret to whatever success she had. Since Park Street led from the Park Street MTA stop to the Massachusetts capital building and other large skyscrapers several thousand people a day had to pass by her and hear "Spare a quarta?"
She got a quarter out of about every fifth person. I once estimated she made about $75 a day, tax free. That worked out to a take homeless of $18,750 a year in 1983. Not bad when you considered that she had zero overhead.
No matter how you look at it old "Spare a quarta?" was doing all right and, to tell the truth, I contributed my share. She looked like what everyone fears their mother might become if she fell on hard time, but she wasn't scary. And she had perfect pitch. "Spare a quarta?" was slightly sing-song but never too whining. Just always said with an uplifting lilt right at the end of the opening note of desperation.
If you can't be really good at anything without 10,000 hours of practice "Spare a quarta?" had put in her time and paid her dues in full.
As beggars go she was "The Fantastiks" of street hustlers. Her performance ran uninterrupted and packed her pockets with quarters for years. She's probably long gone to her reward -- be that in Potters Field or in a small house in the hinterlands that she bought for cash. But I like to think that she's still there as the busy people of our era bustle up and down Park Street still shelling out to the refrain:Continued...
"In the past if someone was famous or notorious, it was for something—as a writer or an actor or a criminal; for some talent or distinction or abomination. Today one is famous for being famous." -- Malcolm Muggeridge
I’m a man who doesn’t like cats. I don’t understand why women and certain men don’t get the simple axiom: “Dogs? Cool. Cats? Not.” It is one of the universal truths that no sane man can deny. And yet the chicks and chestless men persist in promoting this most useless of animals which steadfastly resists domestication, becoming an agreeable amusement, and is next to useless if not downright nauseating when sauteed or roasted, grilled or boiled, or even deep-fried.
There was one cat, however, that I did come to admire; Fatso.
Fatso arrived in my life like most cats arrive in the lives of men -- attached to a woman. Indeed, Fatso was one of three cats attached to this woman, and he was the least promising at the outset. The other two cats were: 1) “Spotty” -- an utterly coal black cat whose only “spot” was directly under his tail, and 2) “Oswald LeWinter” -- a cat who was so utterly gay that he could have been the reincarnation of Liberace. And then there was.... “Fatso” -- a cat so utterly beaten down and scabrous that on him a sucking chest wound would have looked good. When this particular woman arrived in my life the cats were all firmly established in hers so it was a done deal if I wanted her to stick around which, at the time, I did.
Fatso was not only a fat cat since he would, evidently, eat anything no matter how vile and rotten, he was a loser cat. He was continually wandering off into the neighborhood and getting into screeching, yowling, spitting, clawing, gnawing fights with every other cat whose food bowl he tried to attach his mouth too. And he always, but always, lost and came dragging home with this flap hanging off him, and that long slash in his side, and that other scape and claw mark slanting across his face. His fur would be matted with urine, spit, drool, feces and blood. He was one ugly beaten down cat.
The woman who owned him was, obviously, committed to him in the way that women get committed to hurt things, battered things, stupid things, and things that don’t really run on all cylinders. It’s their training for putting up with men, I guess. She’d hold him down and squirt this fine yellow sulphur powered into his wounds to promote healing or at least hold off gangrene. After a day or so of recuperating around the house, Fatso would haul himself out the window and start catting about the neighborhood looking for food and finding a fight. Then, after a day or so, he’d come limping back with yet more of his body turning into scar tissue.
I put up with Spotty since he was a black cat and I didn’t want to alienate any black cat lest he put some bad juju and mean mojo on me. As for Oswald LeWinter, the gay cat, I said, early on, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” -- even though I suspected, with cats at least, there might be. As for Fatso, well, he disgusted me. I had no use for him. I was even starting to measure him for a river diving bag.
And so it went until..... until.... until the hippy girl arrived.
In those years hippy girls were always arriving. It was what they did. They came and then... they went. And they all had.... they all had to have.... a handicraft. Some did tie-dyes. Others did very heavy and clumsy pottery. Some chipped arrowheads out of flint. Some made teepees in the back yard. Still others wove macramé diaphragms.
This particular hippy girl did beaded belts and chokers. She had several egg cartons holding a mass of teeny-tiny beads and a kind of wire frame loom. She’d wire up the loom, smoke a lot of dope, and then crack open the egg cartons and bead up a bunch of stuff she hoped to sell somewhere along the edges of Telegraph Avenue. I once figured she was making about a dime an hour and when I told her this she said, “That much? Groovy.”
She lived in the apartment behind ours and one day, while setting up her loom, Fatso wandered by her and wiped the latest blood from his wounds on her tie-dye skirt. She glanced down and said, “Oh, Fatso. Uncool.” Then she went to work her hippy girl fingers flying lightly over her bead loom as only the young and the stoned can manage.
Within two hours she had finished a large cat-sized collar in beads. She called Fatso over and strapped it on him. He tossed his head a little bit since the collar was over an inch in width and must have pinched a bit on his neck, but then he seemed to accept it. He sauntered over and has he passed me I glanced down. The hippy girl had woven and arranged a collection of bright red beads against a black background to read, in capitol letters, “FATSO!” (Exclamation mark included.) You could read it from six feet away. The cat, supremely indifferent to this gift, wandered through my legs, into the back garden and hobbled out of sight. “Good riddance,” I thought and hoped he’d try to kill a large delivery truck with his teeth at thirty miles an hour.
It was not to be. Instead we heard, for over a week, a whole chorus of yelps, screechs, yowls and other indications of a virtual tom cat war breaking out across the back yards of the neighborhoods with nary a sign of Fatso limping home for repair. A few days into the week some neighbors would, walking by, remark, “Hey, I saw your cat Fatso kicking some ass the other day. Slipped him some tuna. Cool cat, man.” Other praise kept coming our way. It would seem that Fatso was becoming a force in the neighborhood.
Finally, more than a week passed, and one afternoon a changed Fatso sauntered casually back into our house. It was, of course, just at feeding time and he immediately walked up to Spotty and knocked him away from his bowl. Then he turned to Oswald LeWinter and knocked him away from his bowl. Both cats began to make aggressive gestures and take on puffed up postures, but a single glance from Fatso and both shrank away and went to a far corner of the kitchen where they made faint mewling noises. He ate from each of their bowls and then his own. Then he sauntered back to the door and down the stoop and walked slowly away up the center of the sidewalk.
The woman and I, stunned, followed him at a discrete distance. All along the way as he was being passed by people, they’d glance down and, taking note of his collar, say “Hey, Fatso! What’s happening?” Some would even stop to pet him until he purred. Fatso would seem to give a feline shrug then and saunter on. At his coming, other cats would disappear until he passed. Fatso had, by virtue of his collar, become known by name to the entire neighborhood. He had become famous by being famous. He was a celebra-cat, the first I’ve ever known.
All it took was a collar and a name and Fatso was never beaten up again and certainly never went hungry ever again. In time his saunter became a strut. You couldn’t help but like Fatso since liking him was what Fatso was all about.
In a year or so the woman and I decided to move up into the hills above the town. We packed up Spotty and Oswald LeWinter, but when it came time for Fatso he was nowhere to be found. He’d decided to stick to the old neighborhood. With nearly twenty women putting out food for him and with all the other cats living in fear of him there was no motivation to move with us. We were now “little people.” He was.... well, he was “FATSO!”
For all I know he's still there to this day, kicking fur-butt and flaunting his name; master of his doman, king of kats. All he needed was what we all need.... just a little name recognition.
A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
--Eliot, Journey of the Magi
Small moments in long journeys, like small lights in a large darkness, often linger in the memory. They come unbidden, occur when you are not ready for them, and are gone before you understand them. You "had the experience, but missed the meaning." All you can do is hold them and hope that understanding will, in time, come to you.
To drive from Laguna Beach, California to Sacramento. California the only feasible route takes you through Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. If you go after dark in this season of the year, you speed through an unbroken crescendo of lights accentuated by even more holiday lights. In the American spirit of "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing," the decking of the landscape with lights has finally gotten utterly out of hand.
Airports, malls, oil refineries, the towers along Wilshire and the vast suburbs of the valley put up extra displays to celebrate what has come to be known as "The Season." All the lights flung up by the hive of more than 10 million souls shine on brightly and bravely, but the exact nature of "The Season" seems more difficult for us to define with every passing year.
For hours the lights of the Los Angeles metroplex surround you as if they have no end. But they do end. In time, the valley narrows and you come to the stark edge of the lights. Then you drive into a dark section of highway known as the Grapevine.
The Grapevine snakes up over the mountains that ring the Los Angeles Basin to swirl down the far side into the endless flatland of the Great Central Valley. From entrance to exit is about 50 miles.Continued...
Washington, D.C., circa 1911. "National Photo Co. post card shipment." A very young-looking Herbert French on the left with his associate "Artie" Leonard at their H Street studio. 8x10 glass negative.
Daily life, as recorded on 8x10 glass negatives fromShorpy Historical Photo Archive :: The Young Entrepreneurs: 1911, is often seen in more detail than our faux-vintage Instagram age.
One of the persistant pleasures in very old photographs is that they hold a lot of detail if you but care to look; details that tell you the things behind these images lived. I went into this -- in some detail -- myself in The Summer of Our Content. I notice it again here in one telling detail from the photo cited above from Shorpy. Only this time it is a detail in the hands of the men pictured. With the man on the left, his left hand casually grasps a claw hammer as he strikes the casual pose of a man taking a brief portrait break.
This is not at all that remarkable. Hands holding tools are common in all photography of the men from a time when men actively built the nation. But if we look closely at the man on the right we can see the small confirmation of this lost moment in time in Washington DC over a century past. We see this:
It's by way of this kind of detail that these sections of times lost beyond recall hold their fascination. That momnt when time had a stop and we can see down into the marrow of things; into the weight and the heft of the fabric of trousers stretched over the knuckles of a now long dead hand. For all the trillions of images that we capture now, we won't leave that much of mark.
The hard-core unemployable
Opining in the Washinton Post Robert Samuelson asks, "Is the economy creating a lost generation?" He expands on this by stating at the outset,
This is not a good time to be starting out in life. Jobs are scarce, and those that exist often pay unexpectedly low wages. Beginning a family — always stressful and uncertain — is increasingly a stretch. The weak economy begets weak family formation.
"The bad luck and bad timing of today’s 20-somethings may pass. Birth rates could bounce back.... The economic recovery may strengthen; the retirement of baby boomers will create new job openings; and surveys indicate the young remain optimistic despite setbacks."
Well, as Maverick's grandpappy used to say, "Hope in one hand and crap in the other and see which one fills up first."
A much cannier company dialed this "lost" generation's number directly in this widely aired commercial for Microsoft's new "We're Not Apple" smartphone.Continued...
An extended comment on Side-Lines: "If politicians had any sense decency they wouldn’t be politicians. " from John A. Fleming that deserves fuller attention: It’s a good thing none of us are naturally paranoid individuals, right? Right.]
They've already had the GooHooBingBook hipsters set them up with a data mining operation. Once it's up and running, it doesn't take much to re-purpose. They have lots of money left over. Now they are trying to get their supporters to call up other targeted people and put pressure on the Republican Congresscritters. And so it begins.
Which means they have a list of their reliable people, their potential supporters, and a list of Others. Data mining merges their own data with anything found on the Web. Now that they aren't running a campaign but they still have a war chest, they can grab or buy surreptitiously anything out there, and "there's no controlling legal authority". And Google will be glad to help, Eric Schmidt will personally see to it, he'll sell them the rope.
And when these unemployed hipsters with massive college debt call you up, and you start cussing at the mention of the Usurper and being "uncooperative", well, then you go on the "Other" list. And they data mine you and find out everything about you, and how you can be hurt.
They'll keep track of how often you help them. The compliant ones, who respond to their pleas, will soon start getting bennies. And who the heck is paying for all this? Shoot, no one had the courage to sue them when they were laundering millions in illegal foreign money during both elections. The Courts and the constitutional lawyers mewled that "nobody has standing to sue". Now that they are beyond the reach of election law, the money just magically appears. None dare call it treason.
Like a pusher or a pimp, they'll next try to get you to graduate to the "hard stuff": direct action. Please, they'll say, we really need your help, show up at this time and place to help the Usurper. They'll loan you a t-shirt to wear (and ask you to buy it). The leaders will have special shirts, and campaign-style buttons, and perhaps cute little hats. And you'll go where you're told, and do what you're asked to. They'll bus you there and give you a stipend. You're One of Them now.
And if you keep answering their call, you go higher on the "One of Us" list, and qualify for more bennies. Free phones, debt forgiveness, extra ration cards. Chevy Volts at an unheard of discount.
Watch for it.
The turning point is when the purple T-shirts disappear, and it becomes button-down shirts with epaulets. Uniforms. Insignia. The hats aren't so cute anymore. You'll be part of the team now, the core of the Usurper's civilian national security force. And you'll go where you're told, and you'll do what you're told, because the bennies keep coming, and you're in for a penny, in for a pound.
And the people you're contesting against? Well, they're the Other, they're just wrong, they're the 1% that's keeping you down and pissing on you all the time. And now it's your turn, your time to rise. Time for revenge, to punch back twice as hard. And when some of your folks start feeling queasy about the hurt you're putting on all those Others, somebody with hard dead eyes will say "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs."
You won't have to worry about the police. They'll be on your side. Their loyalty is to their union and police brothers, not our Constitution. They'll look the other way, and slow-walk complaints. Unless you're on the "Other" list, in which case they'll come on like a ton of bricks. They'll be told who's on which list, and they'll do what they're told. LAPD has shown us the truth of it.
When a sitting President encourages people to vote for revenge, that is a declaration of civil war! Statements like that should not be made, because they take on a life of their own. We the People granted limited powers to our governments to secure some of our Rights, and the Blessings of Liberty for everyone. The Usurper intends to use those powers for revenge of one faction upon another. No rational, moral, civilized, peaceful person would say such a thing. Ever.
The Usurper and his minions have told you all this. He decides how much money you're allowed to make. You don't own what you create. If need be they'll send you to re-education camps. We need a personally-loyal civilian army. Why don't you believe him? Do you believe that he can't possibly want civil war? Of course he doesn't, he wants to so demoralize you, and make you think you are alone, that you won't stand your ground, but give up and give in to the inevitable. But he will not shy from a civil war. He intends to push you to the limit, that you will start it, and he will then crush you before you have time to organize an effective opposition.
Right now the Usurper doesn't give a crap about fiscal cliffs. He doesn't care what any of that will do to the country. His three objectives are to demoralize and destroy the conservative opposition, co-opt and corrupt the Republicans (so easy!), and then break free of the Constitution.
It seems like a dream, a mirage of unbreakable normality.
Like the spring of 1914 or 1939, like the crisp fall morning eleven years ago. Like our exceptional, beautiful country, the rarest gem in all of history, is so big and strong, nothing can happen to it, everything will go on peacefully as before, we are still the shining city on the hill, and our best days are before us. Every day we make plans for next year and the years after, and can't possibly imagine or consider that any set of events will break our idyll of peace and turn all our plans to dust. I fly across the country, and see the vast strength of it and Our People, and think my fears are childish and foolish vapors. And then I remember that all civilizations crumble.
We must make new plans. We must be prepared. We must resist the Usurper and his minions. Now and every day. They have lost their faith in God, and seek to secure their lives by taking ours.
We must remain true to the faiths of our fathers and mothers. The United States of America, the new nation that put its Trust in God, that brought the Blessings of Liberty to the world, must not perish. Today is not that day.
Tolkein is my guide.
Frodo: "I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened."
Gandalf: "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Lincoln is my guide:
“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right”
Posted by: John A. Fleming at December 10, 2012 11:05 PM
We'd finished filming John and Yoko for the video a day or so before he was shot to death. It was their last video, but of course we didn't know it at the time. There was film of them holding hands and walking in Central Park in the place that would later become "Strawberry Fields." We'd filmed them rolling naked in bed together in a Soho Art Gallery where she looked healthy and ample and he looked small and slight, with skin that was almost transluscent. I remember being slightly surprised by the fact that Lennon's need for Ono was so constant and palpable. He was seldom more than two feet away from her side and had the disconcerting habit of calling her "Mommy" whenever they spoke.
My role was as "executive producer" which really meant that I was to stand around with a roll of hundred dollar bills and pay-off the teamsters and solve other problems with copious applications of money. It was an odd job in more ways than one, but I was grateful to have it at the time.
We'd sent the last of the film to the lab, and the director, Ethan Russell, had gone back to Los Angeles to begin editing. The crew had dispersed and I'd taken to my bed racked with pain. The job, this time, had been so tough and high stress that my neck had gone out. I could barely turn my head without feeling as if a sledge was hammering a hot-needle into the cervical vertebrae. I was lying carefully propped on the bed eating Bufferin as if they were Tic-Tacs and trying not to move. My neck was held in one of those tight foam collars. Not moving was the best thing to do at the time and I was doing it with all my might.Continued...
He said, "Call the doctor. I think I'm gonna crash."
"The doctor say he's comin', but you gotta pay him cash."
-- Eagles- Life In The Fast Lane
And the beat goes on: 188,382 Criminal Illegal Aliens Deported in 2011
"Even under Obama and with the proliferation of sanctuary cities, we still deported 22,605 illegal aliens responsible for everything from rape to murder. And another 45,000 for drug trafficking. And that’s the icing on the cake."
Last June I was visiting an old friend in San Rafael, California. He lives the classic Marin county life high on a brindle California hillside. His house is reached by driving the blind curves of one of those thin hill roads. He's got open land and long views next to his house. And a beautiful and extensive garden. A Sunset Magazine garden.
And like most homeowners in Marin, he's got his own personal Mexican to keep it together. Yard work, it's what most of the Mexicans of Marin do. That and construction, and cooking, and cleaning, and any other kind of scut work that brings them cash.
From what I could see, this yard worker gets about $85 a day. Maybe more, maybe less. Maybe for that day only. Maybe for two days a week. Hard to imagine it could be for three. But I have no way of knowing. In Marin it would be the height of political insensitivity to ask, "By the way, how much do you pay your own personal Mexican?"
His personal Mexican doesn't speak much English. Just enough to get by. The home owners treat him with respect and a strange deference, lapsing in a kind of Spanglish in order to talk to him. They ferry their personal Mexican from their house high on the hill to his home -- somewhere in the rambling and beaten down apartment complexes east of the freeway in San Rafael.
It's probably that way for most of the working illegal Mexicans in San Rafael. They are, after all, here to "do the jobs that Americans won't do." or can't do because they are so busy working to pay for all the extras of the current American dream. Including servants.
This personal servant was working on a Friday and did a good job. And then he was taken east of the freeway and dropped off. He'd be back next week. For 85, 170, or maybe, if he was lucky, 250 tax-free bucks. When I ran the web site for the Cosmodemonic Magazine Company back in 2002, I'd clear that drinking a cup of coffee in the morning.
On Saturday I drove from my hotel near the Frank Lloyd Wright Marin Civic Center back up to my friend's home high on the hill. I took the freeway but missed the main exit to San Rafael and had to take the next one. That off-ramp emptied down near the strip of big box stores, right at the edge of Home Depot.
Home Depots are, among other big-box construction hardware stores, the default shape-up spot of pick-up Mexican labor in the US. We all know that. When you need something done you just drive out to the nearest Home Depot, get your materials, and then pick up your emergency Mexicans as you exit. Everybody knows this. Everybody sees this. Everybody does this.
In the now long established day-labor Home Depot areas we even have a permanent place for the ubiquitous taco wagon to set up shop. If local authorities or border control officials really wanted to cut back on illegals, they'd just sweep these areas. But local political institutions and local police -- and all of us too -- seem to have agreed to lay off these zones. We let them be lest America's ready supply of "We do anything for almost any pay" labor be disrupted. It's the shadow realm. It's the black, no-taxes, "If we've got the cash, they've got the backs they'll break for it" economy.
It's how we live now.
When I came off the freeway exit it was about noon on a Saturday. By noon on a Saturday, anybody in Marin who has a project that requires emergency Mexicans has already been to the Home Depot shape-up, chosen the number they need, negotiated what the pay would be, and driven away with them. Those still left have little hope for a job. But they remain because a small hope for half a day's meager pay is better than no hope at all.
The traffic halted at the intersection and I looked ahead and around and in the rear view mirror. Standing there, many of them looking at me and waving their hands to signal their availability, was a small battalion of around 300 out-of-work Mexican males, mostly young. I thought, "Well, they may be here to 'do the jobs Americans won't do,' but there is clearly not enough work."
Then I thought, "What happens to these men if we arrive at a point, in a recession, where there is a lot less work for them in their many millions? What happens when the American dream starts contracting from the edges and the extra cash that allows us to employ them starts to dry up? They won't be counted as 'unemployed' since they were never legally 'employable' in the first place. Where will they go? Back to a Mexico where a recession in the US will breed a depression in that 3rd World country? Unlikely. Their best shot would still be to stay here. But if they did, what would they do? And how many would there really be? And how hungry and desperate would they get?"
This was just one intersection at one exit from the freeway in San Rafael, California 500 miles north of the Mexican border. And there were about 300 temporarily unemployed illegal residents of San Rafael simply standing about. That would be okay for a day, a week, maybe a month. As long as it was only 300 Mexican males. But if a slump in black-market cash employment became longer, spread and deepened throughout the country, and the numbers of our shadow armies of the blight grew, then.... Well, what then?
The cold fact is that we don't know what "what then" would look like. The issue has not surfaced in the present campaign because it cannot surface. The reality of off-setting our indolence with kindness and cash is too frightening to think about when the extra cash runs dry; when Americans will again do any job just to have a job and woe betide any non-American who seeks to take that job away.
Perhaps we'll discover that we'll have to pay a very large bill for our indolence. And that the bill will not be paid with cash. It will be paid, not for the first time, with the last thing we want to see - the Army in our cities. I don't think we are prepared for that. I don't think we want to find out. I pray we never have to.
But it's how we live now.
[First published October 2008. Look how far we've come.]
By the time we cut to the lighting of the filterless cigarettes,
the first glimpse of our hero's face, as it happens, and also a slice of the red carnation in his suit pocket, his dark red tie, the sky is a blue-slate grey with clouds, the surf continues to churn in the background and the weather is turning decidedly foul. Fire is introduced. The wick is lit. -- The Decline of Western Title Sequences @ finem respice where you will want to read the entire thing.
Warning: If you are not hungry now, you will be in six minutes and forty seconds from click.Continued...
Story by: Kristin Alberts
What’s even more American than turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie these days? An Italian gun, that’s what. The only known surviving firearm that crossed the wild Atlantic aboard the good ship Mayflower, settled with the pilgrims at Plymouth Colony and ultimately helped the first colonists not only survive, but prosper. Meet the Mayflower Gun.
Affectionately dubbed the Mayflower Gun and thought of as an American icon, the gun is actually an Italian-made wheel-lock carbine. This single-shot musket was originally chambered in .50 caliber rifle, though ages of heavy use have worn away the majority of the rifling. Given the combination of natural wear, repairs and modifications, if the gun were to be loaded and fired today, it would require a .66 caliber.
According to curators at the NRA’s National Firearms Museum—where the gun has found a most comfortable home—markings recorded on both the barrel and lockplate demonstrate a connection with the Beretta family of armorers.
One of the features making this musket instantly recognizable is its namesake. The surviving detail of the actual wheel-lock device—the rotating mechanism, which provides spark and ignition, not unlike that of our modern day cigarette lighters—is a thing of fine craftsmanship and beauty. The wheel-lock’s engineering, execution and efficacy far exceed those of its predecessor, the matchlock.
The man: John Alden
Without the adventuresome spirit of one young man with an eye for quality arms, the Mayflower Gun would not be a part of our American history today. Enter, John Alden. Alden was around 20 to 21 years of age at the ship’s departure. However, his original intent was never really to set sail. John AldenHe was simply hired as a ships cooper—a barrel maker by trade—at the yard where ships docked. But being a young man with much hope and courage, he decided to board the Mayflower for its daunting passage. Sometime near debarkation, it is speculated that Alden purchased the firearm used, perhaps from a traveler or mercenary as was common in those days. Of the guns widely available at that time, this was one of the finest and most expensive, so certainly young Alden was wise beyond his years.
Following an arduous three-month winter passage at sea, battered by the north Atlantic’s gales, the Mayflower reached its destination in 1620. History recognizes John Alden as the first man to step ashore, and when Alden’s feet hit terra firma, this gun was most likely his sole means of protection. Though the early years at the new settlement were marked with many tribulations, Alden prospered. Along with the other men who made the passage, he was one of the signatories of the Mayflower Compact, documenting the freedoms and liberties of the new colony. Among his many ventures, Alden is remembered for his service under Capt. Miles Standish, with whom he is rumored to rivaled over the courtship of the woman who eventually became Alden’s wife.
Part of this story is recounted in Longfellow’s poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” Between the years 1633 to 1675, Alden served not only as assistant governor of the Plymouth Colony, but often, due to absence, fulfilled governor duties. He was known to have served on many juries including participation in at least one witch trial. Through all this time, including a move inland and away from the original colony, the Mayflower Gun remained in Alden’s possession. At the time of his death in 1687, the gun began its long succession of Alden family ownership.
The Alden family dwelling, like the gun, has survived for nearly 400 years. The Mayflower gun was discovered—still loaded, nonetheless—in a secret protective cubbyhole near the front door of the home during a 1924 renovation. The Alden home, which was occupied by family members until the mid-1890’s, is currently a National Historic Landmark in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Though it is certain that other settlers would have carried similar arms, this is indeed the only known surviving piece, likely because it was tucked away and forgotten after its years of service had ended.
Because the gun was something of a large caliber at the time, it would likely have been used to take down deer and other large game as well as birds—perhaps even a Thanksgiving longbeard. Naturally, the original stock was fashioned of fine European walnut, though sometime in the gun’s history, a worn portion of the front stock was replaced with American walnut. There is great beauty in the wear patterns of the wood, simply for knowing the many hands and circumstances that have handled this weapon. The Mayflower Gun is currently on display at the NRA Museum.Oh, the stories it could tell of game hunted, lives taken and families saved! This tool was at once a protector and a provider. In fact, the Mayflower Gun may well have been present—or at least played a role—at the 1621 birth of the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today. The gun, in fact, is one of the few surviving pieces known to have made the trip aboard the Mayflower.
Those near Fairfax, Virginia can visit this amazing and well-traveled weapon at its home in the NRA’s National Firearms Museum. It is currently being featured on display as part of the “Old Guns in a New World” gallery, an exhibit in which firearms bridge the gap between the Old World and the new colonies. In addition to this one, the Museum is home to 14 other galleries housing more than 2,700 firearms of remarkable significance. Admission is free and the museum is open daily. For those interested in learning more without making a physical visit, detailed virtual tours are easily navigated at their website.
Nearly 400 years have passed since the Mayflower Gun traversed the Atlantic to forever become a priceless, tangible slice of American history. In the spirit of Thanksgiving celebration, the time is right to remember not only all those who came before us, but also the hardships they faced to get us where we are today. In reminiscing on this beautiful Mayflower Gun, we here at Guns.com are thankful for our first amendment freedoms. So with a nod of the clichéd black pilgrim hats, take some special time this holiday to enjoy family, friends, freedoms and of course, firearms.
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
How odd. A man who had been making a daily impression on my mind across several years has now simply evaporated from my memory. It's not that I don't know his name and, in very general terms, what he looked like but, even knowing, I find it harder and harder with every passing hour to visualize what he looks like. Hair? Okay. I get the hair impression. But only in general shape and it keeps melding into that hair logo they keep trotting out for the Howdy Doody of late night, Conan O'Brian. And I know it is black hair. A gleaming black hair helmet.
Black hair helmet which grew on the head of somebody who wanted some sort of top job in the government. Ran around looking for the job since before 2006. Spent hundreds of millions of dollars. Said a lot of things. A lot of things. But didn't really have the gift of gab since it now seems I can't remember a damn thing he said. Strange because I have the impression that he said the same things over and over and over. Weren't that catchy.
Nice guy. I think. I think so. I'm pretty sure. Seemed that way. Had a pretty wife. Real MILF actually. Have a more vivid impression of her, but only just. Has a family too. A BIG family. Saw them a lot in the background getting on and off a big bus like these road shows do these days. But again, can't really remember them very vividly. Like a ghost circus in a phantom ring inside of a tent of shadows. Fading hurdy-gurdy tunes.
He wanted something. Something me. I wasn't always sure what he wanted and pretty sure I didn't have it on hand. Bumped into him again and again down different streets. Always seemed to be around over in the corner with a band and a fountain of balloons behind him. I agreed with him. I guess I did but I can't really remember any vivid plans he had. Again, not a guy who with words a way had.
It went on for years. Years. Day in and day out. Always there. Always just in the background. Movements reported. Here it is. Here it is again. Here once again sort of the same as all the times before. Let's go to the video tape. Could have used the same 10 tapes of campaign moments rich in blather and pose set on shuffle. Would have had as much impact.
I can summon up the guy and the babe from 2008.... no problem. The weird old guy with the shiny pate and the odd arm made stiff with honor. And the babe... Oh yes, the babe. She was hot. Got my attention. Now she's losing the body that made her hot and is doing some kind of fitness video. Sad. Really. But still I can visualize her. Can't with the new/old guy and his rollicking kid sidekick with nice economic ideas that can never happen.
Trying. But. Just. Can't. Visualize. Them. Maybe if they'd been just a tint more... dusky... cocoa.... hispanic... .... had some sort of identifying mark, scar, full-body tattoo, facial piercing...
Like voting for a phantom; for a wisp of smoke -- tendrils tangling in the trees and then -- vapor --- from wetware to vaporware ... in less than two weeks. Must be some sort of record. Maybe it was all just, you know, one of those optical illusions where you think you see something but you don't. Perhaps it was just negative space made up to resemble a face.
"Whatever you wanted
What could it be?
Did somebody tell you
That you could get it from me?
Is it something that comes natural?
Is it easy to say?
Why do you want it?
Who are you anyway?"
We have reached a crisis when upon their action depends the preservation of the Union, according to the letter and spirit of the Constitution; and this once gone, all is lost. -- President James Buchanan, 1858, as quoted in Life and liberty in America: or Sketches of a Tour in the United States, 1858 by Charles Mackay which continues:
As the venerable statesman truly observes, the United States incur no danger from foreign aggressions; there is no one to injure them but themselves; and they have nothing to fear but "the just judgments of God." But this is only a portion of the subject, and the questions still remain, Will they not injure themselves? ....
That the people will increase and multiply and replenish the whole continent no one can doubt: and that in the course of ages North America will be as populous as Europe.... But in speculating upon the future of a people the mind clings to the idea of Empire and Government — and we ask ourselves whether Empire in this noble region will be one or many — central or local — imperial or republican?
Whether the great Republic shall exist undivided, or whether it will fall to pieces from its own weight and unwieldiness, or from some weakness in the chain which shall be the measure and the test of its strength? ...
Or whether, in consequence of internal strife, some new Alexander, Charlemagne, or Napoleon of the West, shall arise to make himself lord absolute and hereditary, and at his death leave the inheritance to be scrambled for and divided by his generals? ...
That the Union may be disturbed or disrupted at some period near or remote, is an idea familiar to the mind of every inquirer and observer.... It is, after all, the hungry belly of the people, and not the heads of legislators, that tries the strength of political systems: and when all the land is occupied, and has become too dear for the struggling fanner or artizan to purchase; when the starving man or the pauper has a vote equally with the well-fed and the contented proprietor; and when the criminal counts at an election for as much as an honest man — what may be the result of universal suffrage on the constitution of the Republic and the stability of the Union?....
But a greater danger even than this — the most formidable of all the rocks that are ahead — is the growth of peculation and corruption, and the decay of public virtue.
A republic is, theoretically, the purest and most perfect form of Government, but it requires eminently pure men to work it. A corrupt monarchy or despotism may last for a long time without fatal results to the body politic, just as a man may live a long time, and be a very satisfactory citizen, with only one arm, one leg, or one eye.
In despotic countries the people may be virtuous, though the Government is vicious; but a corrupt republic is tainted in its blood, and bears the seeds of death in every pulsation. And on this point Mr. Buchanan seems to have a clearer vision than many of his countrymen.... In reference to this fever in the blood of the State, he thus solemnly warns the citizens in the letter from which quotation has already been made: —
"I shall assume the privilege of advancing years in reference to another growing and dangerous evil. In the last age, although our fathers, like ourselves, were divided into political parties which often had severe conflicts with each other, yet we never heard until within a recent period of the employment of money to carry elections. Should this practice increase until the voters and their representatives in the State and National Legislatures shall become infected, the fountain of free government will be poisoned at its source, and we must end, as history proves, in a military despotism. A democratic republic, all agree, cannot long survive unless sustained by public virtue. When this is corrupted, and the people become venal, there is a canker at the root of the tree of liberty which will cause it to wither and to die."
If corruption have attained its present growth with a population so scant in 1858, in a country by the cultivation of which ten times the number could live honestly and independently, if they trusted to hard work, and not to intrigue, for the means of subsistence; what will be the extent of corruption fifty years hence? Shall a despotism attempt a remedy worse than the disease? Or will the patient be warned of the evil of his ways, and amend his life in time?
[Taken from -- Life and liberty in America: or Sketches of a Tour in the United States, 1858 by Charles Mackay. Mackay was also the author of the more widely known Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds]
They say it is a mental flaw to let things go "in one ear and out the other," but at my age it is merely a question of deciding what to admit onto the hard drive of my brain. Mine is a large but, alas, limited hard drive, and at this point it is pretty much full. To save something new to it means I often have to delete something else from it. Often what I am deleting is not known to me until later when I search for it. At my age I don't view this "in one ear thing" as a flaw but rather a necessity. I don't forget a thing so much as I let it just "slip my mind."
A common variation of this slippage is our deplorable habit of letting something slip "in one ear and out of the mouth" without first striking either a reflective surface or passing through a BS filter -- preferably both. Once you realize that "In-Ear-Out-Mouth" (IEOM) is an affliction of epidemic proportions in contemporary America you can spot it maiming and killing brain cells everywhere.
The latest notable example of IEOM showed up a few nights ago at a meeting of troubled Americans that I, being troubled by Americans, often attend. A woman of middle years was -- yet again -- bemoaning the fact that she is just, well, nuts. Being nuts is, according to her, part of "Being all I can be!" Even though being crazy makes her unhappy, she seems as determined to hold onto her nuttiness as she is to "let go" of her girlish figure "and let God" bring on the burritos.
It is not that she is nuts that is the problem. The problem is that she has a burning need to "share" her insights. These reflections on her part often give way, as such reflections do, to the nostalgic and idealistic:
"Things were better when...,"
"If only I had what I had when....,"
"Don't you all think I should have now what I had then.....?"
This county-by-county electoral map of Nov. 6's results illustrates it perfectly. Rather than coloring a county pure red or pure blue, based on which candidate got the majority, it blends red and blue together based on the number of 100-set votes percandidateper county. Veryrevealing.
This map also shows the relative population densities across the country; white areas have very low densities. On a usual election map, the white spaces are solid red, but it actually means little to the electoral result. I don't think anyRepublicancan consider this map seriously and still maintain that America is really center-right. Even if the Republicans recapture the White House in 2016 (doubtful), their candidate will be farther to the left than any previous Republican, including even G.W. Bush, who was probably the most liberal Republican to sit in the Oval Office. -- Sense of Events: America is a leftwing nation
"In retrospect, Ambassador Chris Stevens would have gotten more attention sending snotty e-mails to random citizens." -- small dead animals
Over here we have this here general person. He’s a kind of hero type because.... well... because -- in ancient times when America led the world -- he led something called “The Surge;” which is to say he knew where to spend a billion bucks in Mesopotamia.
This here general's a good looking Gary Cooper type with the slim and rangy physique that comes from running miles and miles every day. Like Cassius he's got that lean and hungry look. And he has his hungers. He spends a lot of time away on Rome’s business in the far provinces and he needs a little stress relief from time to time. Now he might take his wife of more than three decades along but let’s face it. She has, as everyone is in a hurry to show you, let herself slide a bit across the years. Formerly cute she now looks like Barney Frank in a fright wig. Not at all the kind of thing to give the lean and mean fighting machine general the stress relief he needs at war or at his new job -- which is overseeing the failures of the finest spies a devalued dollar can buy.
Send in the babe with the big shoulders, fat lips, easily dislocatable jaw, large worshipping eyes, and the ability to run with the general across the desert sands to the little uparmored HumVee secured oasis under the Mesopotamian moon. Cue hippy girls with unrestrained breasts...Continued...
[Note: Robert Oculus has written a long responsive comment on the AMERICAN DIGEST item "The Common Sense Resistance" -- Tonight was the Night That Freed America. Unlike many others in the discussion thread, he doesn't buy it. His is a different take on the matter. It's presented here in full. I don't think he's speaking only for himself.]
LOL. You folks didn't realize how many Young Pioneers we have in this country, did you? Well, you know now. Now that the Party has seized control of the Winter Palace, all the little Bolsheviks can take off their masks and wave high the blood-red banner. (Guess what the word "bolshevik" means in Russian?)
The Revolution is over. With Black Lenin's unimpeachable power (heh), they will now proceed to construct the socialist order.
For what it's worth, folks, any political approach we might take -- even the one outlined in the video -- is pointless.
If the recent election has shown anything it's that ideology isn't going to save us. What's going to save us is Christianity and nationalism. That's not Amurrrican "nationalism", the kind dependent on a piece of ink-stained parchment or an ideology, but real, ethnic nationalism, as in ancestry, language, and culture. And that's not that wishy-washy guidance-counselor ersatz Christianity, but the kind that isn't "nice" -- the kind that Jesus Himself taught and the kind that men like Saint Louis and King Jan Sobieski practiced.
I know many of you think Christianity and nationalism are stupid, but historically the combination is the only force that has ever defeated the twin demons of Islam (Spain, 1492) and communism (Spain, 1936), and it's the only force that will defeat them now. Now, I know some of you think God is a fairy tale, and I know most of you sincerely believe that men of good will united by the Constitution can live in peace, but please believe me when I tell you that you are wrong on both counts. We are in a racial and spiritual war -- and we had better recognize that fact if we wish to survive.
"Racial war". I know you don't like the sound of that. I don't like it, either. We have all been trained from birth in the dogma that "people are people", that "we're all the same under the skin", and that "all men are equal in God's eyes." Fine sentiments -- but they don't track with reality as observed. Only the last of these is true. We are about to find out the other two were lies -- and we'll find it out the hard way. There are many fine folk among the members of every race, of course, but the fact that some individual members of a given race are simpatico does not erase the fact that races as such exist, and that these races have divergent and often-incompatible interests.Continued...
“Strait times come in history. Our time is such a time, millennial, full of fast currents, tossing, eddied, dangerous to pass through.” -- John Fowles, “The Aristos"
The thing is under the boat. The crew suspects as much but can't know for sure exactly where it is. They won't know where Leviathan is until it rises, inevitable and unstoppable, from the deep directly beneath them.
Can you feel it lurking just under the surface? I can and I think you can as well. The Greeks knew it as "Nemesis." Melville's Ahab knew it as "thou damned whale" and he struck at it from Hell's heart. Unperturbed it gathered him up and took him down. Then it took the boat and after that the ship. All save one followed. The whale beneath the surface of America's life is still there and all signs point to its breaching soon. Exactly where and exactly how are still unknown, but soon.
I feel the thing beneath the boat and I think others of my fellow citizens in ever growing millions feel it as well. We do not feel good about it and what it augers for the near and far future.
The jobs are not coming back. To know that you need to get off the inter-states; off the scenic blue highways that lead to your summer beach retreats. You need to get into the towns that have been passed by; the towns whose main industry has become food stamps and "assistance." These towns are growing in number daily and will continue to grow.
There is no work in these towns. The factories that supported them are long dead or dying. They, like the people they supported, are carbon based life forms and the strange insects that govern us seem to be united in making sure they never return. The checks and the food stamps come, but that's not enough to paint the houses or put in the gardens or do much more than eat too many pizzas and drink too much watery beer. The young would leave but more and more there's no place to go. They spend their time instead deciding on what sort of new tattoo will go well with the previous twenty.
The building of new houses and malls and condos and other large construction projects are not coming back. And even if they did where would we find the workers trained to build them? Old carpenters have moved on to making a living at something other than construction. There's not enough work to bring young ones onto the job and help them to master the skills needed. When a nation stops building it stops having the jobs that can train the next generation of builders. Mexicans, working cheap and off the books, are still in some demand, but there's a limit to repainting and the kind of minor brickwork that makes for a pleasant garden.
The money isn't coming back except at something worth less with every passing day. It begins to seem like mere slips of paper or a meaningless string of numbers that always seems to decrease. The stock market moves in fits and starts but doesn't seem to inspire the confidence needed to boost what once was the middle class. The debt looms ahead and consumes everything even as the argument is over whether or not to increase the debt rather than pay it down.
It's large and it's under the boat and it is beginning to rise. The crew is confused and flailing about. And the captain is insane but convinced he's on the right course. During the boom years it was commonly said, "A rising tide lifts all boats." True enough, but the rising of Leviathan can break the spine of our boat and send it down into the Maelstrom. And the thing is under the boat.
[Republished from November 2011]
Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln is photographed by Matthew Brady before delivering his Cooper Union address in New York City on Feb. 27, 1860.
Lincoln was the first presidential candidate to embrace photography, recognizing its ability to help propel his image and message.
As a presidential candidate, his photo was actively used as part of his campaign. “Lincoln was the first president in which they made prints of his photographs and during the convention, fluttered them down like confetti,” says Kiku Adatto, a scholar at Harvard’s Mahindra Humanities Center, who has researched the history of image use in culture and wrote the book “Picture Perfect: Life in the Age of the Photo Op.” - PhotoBlog
Fast forward 100 years: A view from the control room as Kennedy and Richard Nixon participate in the first televised presidential debate in Chicago on Sept. 26, 1960.
Fifty-two more years and you have: Through Instagram, #aponthetrail offers glimpses of the sidelines of the campaign.
What's next in, say, half that time again -- 26 years?Continued...
Pull up a chair and sit a spell. Death's in residence on my block
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die
To cease upon the midnight with no pain....
-- Keats, Ode to a Nightingale
Once upon a time, when Europe could be had at $5 a day, I found myself hitchhiking on the freezing plains of Spain just outside of Madrid. Car after car swept past me, the winds in their wakes chilling me further. This was very disconcerting since I had with me my fail-safe ride generator, a hot hippie girlfriend (Think a good-looking Janis Joplin.) My ride generator had never failed me before but on this day she was generating zero rides even though the traffic on the road was heavy. Then I noticed two things.
First there seemed to be no trucks on the road. Second, the cars that huffed past us were filled to the gills with whole Spanish families bearing vast bouquets of flowers. And all those Spaniards looked, to the last, very grim.
After a few futile hours, we made our way -- walking -- a few kilometers down the road to a truck stop where, using my pidgin Spanish, the mystery of the ride drought was solved. It seemed that we were trying to get to Barcelona on one of the most holy days of the Spanish year -- All Saints Day, or as we have it here in America, Halloween.
The Spanish tradition on this day is for the whole family to load up the car with flowers and other offerings and haul off to the local graveyard for a visit and picnic with the dearly departed. After that many go off to a traditional performance of Spain's Faustian epic Don Juan Tenario in which the final act takes place in a cemetery. On this holy day in Spain we had almost zero chance of getting a ride anywhere other than the local graveyard. Chastened, we made our way back to Madrid by bus and set out the next day with much better luck.
What remains in my memory from watching the parade of cars on that long-lost Spanish highway is just how dour and serious the Spanish were on their Halloween. They weren't fooling around with death, but taking it at its word. They not only believed in death they also, in their prayers and rituals and their traditional play, believed that what you do in life determines how you will be treated in the afterlife. They had, at bottom, that adamantine belief that is the pearl beyond price of the Catholics. But even if you were to strip away the 2000 years of dogma, these people still had the one thing that more and more Americans lack at the core of their lives: a belief in something greater than themselves, a belief in something greater than man, greater than death.
Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It's easy to see without looking too far
That not much
Is really sacred.
In my neighborhood in Seattle many don't believe in anything sacred other than, at best, Obama. Their entire belief system centers on that tin god then on themselves and their "only one life to live, live, live!." All of which makes for an empty skin sack of existential desolation that they try to fill every Halloween with the greatest of American secular concepts: fun.
"Fun" is a curiously American concept that seems to have begun its invasion of all aspects of our shared life shortly after the end of WWII. I suppose that after the Great Depression and the war, the nation felt it could use a little fun. And, as usual, that great American axiom, "If it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing," came into play. Nowhere do we see the idea that life should be "fun" pumped up into bigger balloons of pure vanity than on Halloween.
From a minor tradition of sending kids out for to pick up some free candy, Halloween has mushroomed into a major American auto-fornication festival in which we regularly -- and with increasing intensity -- celebrate the meat state of life while pretending to vaguely celebrate the spiritual part. If you've noted, as I have, the increasing lust for gruesomeness in costumes at every new Halloween, you might have reflected that dark humor has taken a back seat to darker fascinations. One new costume around this year allows you to dress us as a corpse in a body bag complete with wounds and autopsy slashes. And that's a mild one.
Added on to costumes depicting violent death, mutilation, and the corruption of the grave, we have the increasing trend to freak show street events and private parties where this week's perversion is served as bubbling punch; as a witch's brew we are only too pleased, dressed as dregs, to drink to the dregs. In Seattle, of course, freak show street events and perversion parties are pretty much the order of the day, if not the daily spectacle on many blocks. But there's something about Halloween that brings out the horror show of many inner lives like no other event. The only thing that saves us from seeing ghouls and goblins parading naked about the streets with their full-body tattoos and multiple genital piercings on display is the colder temperature, but there are clubs that specialize in that all about the city so you can see it if you wish.
It seems strange that a day for the contemplation of mortality has been turned into a carnival of corruption in this country, but perhaps not all that strange. I'd suggest that, as the country becomes more secular; as it ceases to believe in anything other than the here and now, the moment in the meat, it becomes increasingly terrified of the extinction of the self by death. It is one thing to profess a belief in the Great Nothingness, it is quite another to have to face it. The only weak weapon that can be raised up against it is its denial.
Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death touches on why this is so:
Becker argues that a basic duality in human life exists between the physical world of objects and a symbolic world of human meaning. Thus, since man has a dualistic nature consisting of a physical self and a symbolic self, man is able to transcend the dilemma of mortality through heroism, a concept involving his symbolic half. By embarking on what Becker refers to as an "immortality project" (or causa sui), in which he creates or becomes part of something which he feels will outlast him, man feels he has "become" heroic and, henceforth, part of something eternal; something that will never die, compared to his physical body that will die one day. This, in turn, gives man the feeling that his life has meaning; a purpose; significance in the grand scheme of things.
Of course, absent religion and the perception of the vertical in the universe, science and the deep belief in the Great Nothingness is a poor substitute. As Becker notes, without something larger than yourself, the "heroic project fails."
O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark...
-- Eliot, Four Quartets
We aren't accustomed to failure in our ceaseless search to find a meaning in the Great Nothingness. But fail we do because the nature of the Great Nothingness that we so admire is exactly that, Nothing; death as a black hole with despair as the free-candy in your skin sack.
What the empty among us are compelled to do when confronted by death is a bit of mass-culture symbolic magic. We dress as what we fear most, and we deck our halls with symbols of death and decay. We pretend that shaking these shibboleths and feathered fetishes against the dark will protect us much as hiding under the covers kept us safe from the monster under the bed. It's a child's response to fear and it is not at all surprising that, as the worship of the Great Nothingness grows and festers among us, the ever escalating morbid gestures of Halloween do nothing to fill the Great Nothingness that roils the souls of many of our fellow citizens. It's a bit like the ceaseless urge to "keep ourselves in shape" that obsesses so many.
Alas, it will not avail us. You can drape yourself with the rubber raiments of Zombies all you want, the world will always, in time, eat your flesh down to dust. And without faith, that fate is the hard-core horror of existence as mere meat. Without faith, more and more of us find ourselves hitchhiking on the cold plains with no chance of being picked up. Without faith, the vehicles that pass us on the high road just aren't going our way.
[Republished from October 2008. New this year, the ante goes up with these hyper-realistic hacked up chunks of human meat. There really is no bottom. Is there?]
In the darkness with a great bundle of grief the people march.
In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people march:
"Where to? what next?"
-- Carl Sandburg: The People Yes
IN THE DAYS AFTER THE TOWERS FELL, in the ash that covered the Brooklyn street where I lived at that time, in the smoke that rose for months from that spot across the river, when rising up in the skyscraper I worked in, or riding deep beneath the river in the subway, or passing the thousand small shrines of puddled candle wax below the walls with the hundreds of photographs of "The Missing," it was not too much to say that you could feel the doors of history open all about you.
Before those days, history happened elsewhere, elsewhen, to others. History did not happen to you. In your world, until that day, you lived in the time after history. There were no more doors in front of you, all history lay behind you. It was a given.
"Well, it was only 3,000 people and we've moved on. Why can't you? Carpe diem, man."
Simon Dedvukaj, 26, Mohegan Lake, N.Y. janitorial, foreman, ABM Industries / Confirmed dead, World Trade Center, at/in building 2
The huge wound in my head began to heal
About the beginning of the seventh week.
Its valleys darkened, its villages became still:
For joy I did not move and dared not speak,
Not doctors would cure it, but time, its patient still.
-- Thom Gunn, The Wound
EVERYONE WHO WAS IN NEW YORK ON on "The Day" will tell you their stories about "The Day." I could stun you with an eight figure number by running a Google on 9/11, but you can do that as well.
"The Day," even at this close remove, has ascended into that shared museum of the mind to be placed in the diorama captioned, "Where Were You When." The site has long since been cleared and scrubbed clean. There is even an agreement on the memorial which will, I see, use a lot of water and trees. "The Day" has become both memorial and myth.
Less is heard about the aftermath. Less is said about the weeks and months that spun out from that stunningly clear and bright September morning whose sky was slashed by a towering fist of flame and smoke. You forget the smoke that hung over the city like a widow's shawl as the fires burned on for months. You don't know about the daily commutes by subway wondering if some new horror was being swept towards you as the train came to a stop deep beneath the East River. You supress hearing over the loudspeaker, always unclearly, that the train was being "held for police activity at Penn Station." Was that a bomb, poison gas, a mass shooting, a strike on the Empire State building? You were never sure. You carried a flashlight in case you had to walk out of the tunnels that ran deep beneath the river. Terror was your quiet companion. After the first six weeks you barely knew it was there.Continued...
At the end of April in 2006 a couple of friends asked me to go with them to see "United 93," but I declined both offers saying I wasn't sure that I needed any reminders other than what I saw in New York on that day. In the end, though, I went to it as I went to the funerals, alone.
When people who were in New York on that day talk about it, it always seems to be focused on the day itself. Nobody talks much about the days and the weeks and the months that came after that day in New York City.
In a way, that's understandable because what happened for days and weeks and months after was pretty much a slowly diminishing repeat of that day. Things got better, got back to the new "normal." The wax from the candled shrines was scraped away, and in time -- quite a long time actually -- even the walls and fences full of fading flyers asking if you had seen one or the other of those we came to call "the missing" were gone.
Most of these ghastly portrait galleries were simply washed away by the snows and rains that followed that autumn day. Some were covered in long sheets of clear plastic duct-taped and sealed.Continued...
"Using pencils, Photoshop and Illustrator, UK-based Mitchell Nelson has created a striking tribute poster to Neil Armstrong. The project shows an illustration of the first man on the moon on one side and a typographic piece of Armstrong's most famous quote, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," on the other." -- Neil Armstrong / Tribute Poster on the Behance Network
The view of the DNC convention... from the TV screen is one of magnificence, grandeur and lofty ideas. Near at hand it is dealers in the next motel room and hookers in the lobby. -- Belmont Club » All The World's a Stage
[Republished in honor of the Perverts National Convention now taking place at the doorway to Hell.]
“We are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” -- Oscar Wilde
If you could pick up the Northwestern US by the southeast corner of Idaho and shake it, everything loose would roll down into Seattle. So many loose bipeds have rolled into town over the years that the city boasts not one angry and twisted little “alternative paper” but two: The Seattle Weekly and The Stranger. Of the two, The Stranger is the stranger, the more angry, and the more spiteful. Strangely, The Stranger -- in this age of Obama and “springtime for progressive Hitlers" -- grows more angry and peevish every week since the November elections. It no longer competes with the Seattle Weekly to see who can be more revolting. It won that dubious contest long ago. These days The Stranger seems to mostly compete with itself; trying every week to put out more slime and bile than the week before. Most weeks, it wins. This week was no exception.
No matter what the standard Democrat/Progressive line may be, it is never quite good enough for The Stranger. This may be because of it’s editor, one Dan Savage by name, a man who seems to live to reveal that for some, when it comes to being intellectually twisted, there really is no bottom. It may be because The Stranger’s infected bloodlines run from from the ancient wheezings of The Daily Worker, down through The East Village Other, and out onto the news stands of Planet Moonbat with classifieds courtesy of The Berkeley Barb. Or it may be because the editor is simply an awful person with a full load of obsessive-compulsive disorders.It’s difficult to know when it comes to this perfect storm of spit, spite, and smut.
All one can know is that, with The Stranger, you see deeper into the soul of today’s post-modern American quisling than any other “alternative” weekly. And what you see is the utter lock this mindset has on what once we called “The Seven Deadly Sins.” It is positive for all of them and takes no medication. Instead, it showcases them in order to effectively infect every freshman class that arrives in Seattle looking for an “education” in how to be fashionably depraved in worn fleece. I read the paper every so often to keep in touch with how dementia, depravity and degradation are progressing in progressive America.
These days it would seem that the 7 deadly sins are now the 7 cardinal virtues of the progressive left. As I shall demonstrate....
Indeed, the progressive left has cast off all pretense of “progress” and simply reverted to a rag-tag slop bucket brimming over with Americans that hate children, success, happiness, liberty, and life itself. All the local “progressive heroes” will sooner of later get their close-up in The Stranger. Their faces and their ever-extending list of physical and mental diseases will unfailingly reveal the state of souls that have committed to personal and social devolution. Along the way, they've bagged the seven deadly sins with the zeal of hunters, never knowing that it was themselves that was the hunted. Theirs is the socialist Utopian view of life fueled with poppers and propaganda.
Those who have the tragic view of life accept that all humans are flawed. We all, to a greater of lesser extent, have touched on all of the 7 deadly sins. It is in our nature. But those with the tragic view at least struggle against this and strive to leave the world brighter and better than when we came into it, not more depraved and darker.
By the one and only i Maksim
Ad Meretricem Caesaris
To abortionist Sandra Fluke, on her campaign tour for Barack Hussein Obama.
Alas, the name has come to wrap itself around
Your putrid frame, a second skin that might astound
All onlookers with eyes of pity as they gaze
At one so lacking shame. If ever you amaze,
Tis not by beauty long since tainted and disgraced
As much by outward use as your polluted thoughts,
(With women, it is from within that beauty rots),
Nor woman's modesty by servile lust effaced,
Much less the antique charms of gentle ladies past
Whose looks commanded armies and their fame outlast;
Oh no! Your fascination is the gutter kind,
But with a special twist for which you're most maligned:
That you should prostitute your leaden mind to Hate,
To service -- in full view -- The Phallus of the State.
"The DNC's main groups, of course, are lawyers, public sector workers, half-educated college students, African-Americans, part of the Hispanic community, secular Jews, and what Ann Coulter brilliantly called "stupid single women" who want the government to be their husband. All of these groups, with the possible exception of some of the lawyers, are under pressure, worse off than they were four years ago, and not likely to turn out in the numbers seen in 2008.
"The situation is dire for the Democrats. The convention can only be about one thing: hate. They have to generate irrational hate and fear, and trust that will motivate their deteriorating base to vote." -- The DiploMad 2.0: Thinking About the DNC
Once upon a time, there was another Republican and Conservative governor of Massachusetts who became president. Here is Calvin Coolidge making the first Presidential "talkie" in 1924. His subject? The runaway costs of government.
"This country needs every ounce of its energy to restore itself. The costs of government are all assessed upon the people.
“This means that the farmer is doomed to provide a certain amount of money out of the sale of his produce, no matter how low the price, to pay his taxes. The manufacturer, the professional man, the clerk, must do the same from their income. The wage earner-often at a higher rate when compared to his earnings-makes his contribution, perhaps not directly but indirectly, in the advanced cost of everything he buys.
“The expenses of government reach everybody.
“Taxes take from everyone a part of his earnings and force everyone to work for a certain part of his time for the government.
“When we come to realize that the yearly expenses of the governments of this country-the stupendous sum of about $7.5 billion -- $700 million needed by the national government. And the remainder by local governments.
“Such a sum is difficult to comprehend. It represents all the pay of 5 million wage earners making $5 a day, working for 300 days in the year. If the government should add $100 million of expense, it should represent four days more work of these wage earners. These are some of the reasons why I want to cut down public expense.
“I want the people of America to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves.
“I want them to have the rewards of their own industry-this is the chief meaning of freedom.
“Until we can reestablish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very severe and distinct curtailment of our liberty.
“These results are not fanciful, they are not imaginary, they are grimlt actual, and real, reaching into every household in the land. They take from each home annually an average of over $300.00, and taxes must be paid. They are not a voluntary contribution to be met out of surplus earnings. They are a stern necessity. They come first.
“It is only out of what is left, after they are paid, that the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter can be provided and the comforts of home secured, or the yearnings of the soul for a broader and more abundant life gratified.
“When the government affects a new economy, it grants everybody a life pension with which to raise the standards of existence. It increases the value of everybody's property, raises the scale of everybody's wages.
“One of the greatest favors that can be bestowed on the American people is economy in government."
Unknown photographs from when Adams was, if only for a few days, an urban photographer.
I don't recall what I was searching for when I came across the Ansel Adams photographs of Los Angeles at the beginning of World War II, but I don't think it was a handsome rendering of Half Dome or a Moonrise in New Mexico. It was something much more gritty. On reflection, it might have been photographs of my original elementary school, Benjamin Franklin in Glendale. In any case I was running a search in the Los Angeles Public Library's immense online collection of photographs when something in a record caught my eye, the name "Ansel Adams." The image attached to this record was of a parking lot with a cars jumbled together around a prominent No Parking sign.
I don't normally associate Ansel Adams with ironic snapshots of parking lots or small format urban photography at all. Like you, a photograph by Adams means the classic evocation of the great American wilderness. It never crossed my mind that he had photographed any of the cities of men, much less Los Angeles. But there it was. Maybe, I thought, there were more.Continued...
"Steven Spielberg directs two-time Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln." a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President's tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come.
"Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones, âLincolnâ is produced by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, based in part on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox film, in association with Participant Media, releases in U.S. theaters exclusive on November 9, 2012, with expansion on November 16, 2012. -- /Film
USS Constitution is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy. Named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America, she is the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat.... The crew of the Constitution and her commanding officer, Commander Matt Bonner, during the bicentennial observances of the War of 1812, sailed the Constitution under her own power on August 19, 2012, the anniversary of her defeat of the Guerriere. Bonner is Constitution's 72nd commanding officer. -- Wikipedia
".... and gave us an opportunity of pouring in upon his Larboard Bow several Broadsides, which made great havock amongst his men on the forecastle and did great injury to his forerigging, and sails, The Enemy put his helm to Port, at the time we did, but his MizenMast being over the quarter, prevented her coming too, which brought us across his Bows, with his Bowsprit over our Stern. At this moment I determined to board him, but the instant the Boarders were called, for that purpose, his Foremast, and Mainmast went by the board, and took with them the Gib-boom, and every other Spar except the Bowsprit. On seeing the Enemy totally disabled, and the Constitution received but little injury I ordered the Sails filled, to hawl off, and repair our damages and return again to renew the action...."
Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon’s roar;—
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more!
Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o’er the flood
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor’s tread,
Or know the conquered knee;—
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!
O, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every thread-bare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,—
The lightning and the gale!
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes
At seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in;
He said,"Fellas, it's bin good t'know ya!"
"Accusing Mitt Romney of "niggarization" is ugly, base, cheap and just plain wrong. -- Kira Davis
HT: Rob De Witt
Relax, it's just a movie promo.Continued...
The Ferris Wheel, lit in long stripes of searing red and blue and green neon like some whirling sketch of an earth-bound star, pirouettes into the night sky above the slate waters of the Pacific at the end of the Santa Monica pier. Below it, the old seafood restaurant now serves Mexican food where gang-bangers herd their Saturday night dates around the bar, and the loud murmur of Angelino-accented Spanish rises above the waves that lap the pilings driven deep through the slow Pacific swell and into the sands below.
In a dark hollow somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, the first winds of winter hiss around an old dance hall where hundreds of white people and one black man stomp the boards in a contra dance. Dressed as vampires, wolf men, fairies, cowboys, and a host of other laughing fantasies, the dancers welcome the day of the dead to fiddles, guitars, pianos and drums as the caller makes the long lines of whirling people into stars and boxes, and a new girl is spun into your arms, flirting and bobbing, with every change in the ancient pattern of the dance, only to roll away with a half-sashay.
Outside the lights from the hall catch the flying drifts of gold and red leaves the wind is tearing from the trees, pushing them across the stars, and rolling them up in long drifts of crisp shadows against the wheels of Willys jeeps, old bangers, and brand new SUVs of every make and model. After the dance, Waffle Houses along Route 26 will fill up with costumed, exhausted dancers, their endorphins convincing them that, for this night at least, they are probably immortal.
The long wave laved beaches of the Isle of Palms outside of Charleston reinforce the new rule that no poor -- or even middle class -- people are now allowed to live by the ocean in America. The lots on which the endlessly elaborate houses that look out on the sea stand now cost between three and four million dollars each. If you bought one and immediately burned down the four to six bedroom three-story house, the cost of the lot would still be three to four million dollars. The house is, in essence, free.
Offshore, even on a dank day with large winds pushing in from the Atlantic, the bright scoops of kite surfers soar and pull their riders up off the crest of the waves high into air before gliding down to slide on the surface of the long breaking waves, and into the sands where the plastic pails of the nation's fortunate children are abandoned just above the reach of the waters.
In the Detroit airport, visitors to the United States stand in line to check into the country via a networked series of touch-screen computers. Above them, those too weak, too obese, or too lazy to walk a block or so can ride the glossy red new monorail from gate to gate, or rather from food court to food court.
Las Vegas, "What? Can't hear you!," Las Vegas is still not finished. After all, it still has a vast waste of desert all around it in which to ooze, even if it is bumping up against the Red Rock on one side. Road rubble and fenced off tracks of hard pack frame the Eiffel and other towers of pure fantasy blotching the night with a collection of illuminated signs that form their own Louvre of lighting.
Inside the outside-of-time casinos, the lights and the beeping clang of the slots still form their own eternal sound tracks as the glamorous and the ugly, the meth-skinny and the morbidly obese all take their turns on the wheel of misfortune. The only sound missing in the Hard Rock Casino these days is the clatter of coins dropping from the slots. Instead, there's the faint staccato as the machine prints your ticket when you "cash out." The barely clad money girl is only too happy to turn your winnings into money and see you on your way with the now standard secular blessing of the United States, "Have a nice day," at the stroke of midnight.
The Strip is like New York's Fifth Avenue at Christmas. There are so many people shuffling between fantasies that you can't walk down the wide sidewalks without getting stuck behind pedlock and fleets of electric Rascals moving those who have been far too long at the $5.00 Buffet. A nice new touch is that, should you require one, you can rent your Rascal at the airport, and all the big buffets have portable defibrillators.
After the casual and lightly populated Carolinas where everyone is slow and polite and easy, there are far too many people happening in the Happy World of Las Vegas. So you rent a car that rides like taking your sofa out for a drive and comes complete with 300 radio stations, and move out to where there will be, surely, not very many people at all, ever: Death Valley.
In the midst of an arid nothing on which 95 North is drawn like some temporary hash-mark on the land, your own personal communicator beeps. It's a friend calling from somewhere far away over the mountains and the vast land sea of the plains. He's driving at high speeds through savannahs. You're driving at high speeds over the desert where not even Joshua Trees make the effort to live. His voice is as crisp as if he was sitting beside you on this mobile sofa: "Death Valley? I went there once. It isn't really there. Not as a destination. It's not a place, it's a region. Gas up and keep going once you get there. You want to see nobody, that's the place to be."
Hours later I swoop down the long descending road to the spot on the map that is the lowest part of the country. Hundreds of feet below the level of the sea, which was once here, and, in time, will be again. At the cross roads at Furnace Creek, cars are being blocked by a Highway Patrol SUV and over the road come hundreds of people on horseback out of the desert to mill around in the parking lot by Furnace Creek Inn. After this mob of cowboys and cowgirls clears the road I drive on about a half a mile to where several thousand people have set out lawn chairs, umbrellas, and coolers by the side of the road waiting, it turns out, for the parade.
It's 49ers weekend in Death Valley and the RV culture has shown up in their multitudes. Across the road and on up the slope of the rise, thousands of RVs bake in the sun as their occupants – mostly all older and "retired but not tired" make for the parade and the barbeque and the beer. In the main it looks a lot like the streets of the Las Vegas strip, but without the neon and Elton John. In the store at Stovepipe Wells, the hottest place in America, I get my choice of popsicles and Dove Bars and at least twenty different kinds of beer, all, of course, ice-cold. This is, after all, America and nothing, but nothing, is going to roil our very Happy World.
Until further notice.
A clear, calm dawn in Bishop, California at the top of the vast Owens valley. The Sierras rise to the West with Mt. Whitney white at the top beyond the brindle hills. There's gold and rose in the meadows and trees here just as there were in the trees around the barn dance in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Yesterday, at a fishing retreat at around 10,000 feet in the bright sun small snowflakes blew into my face for a minute or so, spun down from the mountains high above as fly fishermen cast off into impossibly clear and bone-biting cold streams. It's been a long autumn and now winter is falling down from the mountains towards this town.
Later today, I'll drive south through the Mojave and into the wedged and irritated environs of Los Angeles. I'll probably take a room somewhere near the beach in Santa Monica. Tonight I'll go for another ride on the star-lit Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier. I once lived, briefly, above the Merry-Go-Round at the end of that pier and made moonlight love on the damp sand beneath the boardwalk. But that was in another time and in another world with a girl whose name has faded into the smoke of the world.
Ferris Wheels and Merry-Go-Rounds. Lots of circles in life. It clears the mind to ride our metaphors in the real world from time to time. It lets us see where we stand and where we've been and where we might be going. Even if it is only to "arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
For some weeks now, and mostly without meaning to, I've been taking a core sample of the United States. Over the decades I've done this from time to time. The first time was a college trip in the early Sixties when some friends and I went 9,000 miles in 9 days in a Volkswagen. The last time before this was when I fled New York and went west with marriage on my mind. This time was less intentioned and worked out better. This time there wasn't a plan or a destination, only a route that emerged as I went.
It's a commonplace to say that the states of our nation are now so diverse that we are a deeply divided country. I've come to see that that old saw is a dull old saw, useful for pundits and prognosticators, but much more false than true. It's the view that arises when people are pent up in the cities far too long, and fall far too much in love with their own voice and views; their own set and setting; their own media-mirrored visage.
What all our media mouthpieces assert is happening in America, is happening -- it turns out -- almost completely within in their sealed and secular Happy World. It is not what's happening in the core of our states where the whirr and the buzz and the blather of the coasts come through only faintly, like screams heard through walls and quickly fading.
Out here, there's a different drum sounded and different dances danced. And, if you could, as I did yesterday, look out over the Owens valley and coast down into the small town of Bishop and watch the men come out at dusk to furl the American flags that line the sidewalks by the hundreds, you'd know, beyond a shred of a doubt, that the states of our union are still strong, and will survive, no matter what happens in the Happy World of our coastal cities, our capitols of culture and corruption, into which, in the course of the decades, everything cheap and corrupt and loose has rolled and congealed.
What happens in those cities may matter in the news of the day, but out here it is the news of the decade that matters. Here is where what we were and are and will become is finally and irrevocably decided. Everyone who thinks they know what the country is and where it is going needs to take some time out every so often and take their own personal core sample. This, for now, was mine.
[First published 2006-11-12]
“She’s a rock star right now in Republican Senate primaries. She’s hit a pretty strong streak,” said Scott Bensing, a former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “She gives the impression that she has deeply held beliefs she’s willing to take on water for and doesn’t really care what her critics think. She comes off resolute and principled.”
Reminds me (courtesy of an attentive reader) of this from November, 2010:
[AGAIN] LET'S REVIEW: How Sarah Palin
Will HAS Become the Most Powerful Republican... and [UPDATED] will be the next President of the United States.
NOVEMBER4, 2010: This just in from SarahPAC
Just who do you think that grizzly is?
UPDATE: NOVEMBER 4, 2010 At Morgan's place where the daggers are being drawn, sheathed, and drawn again in the comments:
House of Eratosthenes
Obama will be challenged, and He will lose. There isn’t time for the Tea Party to form, recruit, organize, and offer a candidate. Libertarians don’t have the flexibility to ever become relevant. It all comes down to, a Republican is going to be sworn in on January 20, 2013. There really isn’t any avoiding it.
It won’t be Sarah Palin…if she doesn’t want to do it.
Or if she’s hit by a bus, or eaten by a bear.
Or if aliens abduct her.
Or if a majority of Americans become simultaneously transfixed and enamored with Newt, or Huck, or Mitt. The three erstwhile gentlemen who have almost completely sat this whole thing out, while Palin has been out stumping and speechifying and endorsing, and generally being a potent force.
She’s easy on the eyes, too. Plus, she owns this night like nobody else in the country does, except maybe Rick Santelli.
At lot can happen in twenty-six months. But at this point, an awful lot would have to happen to stop her from being the next president. None of these events are terribly likely, and a whole bunch of loudmouths yammering over and over again how much they’re irritated by her, aren’t going to make it happen.
Like it or not, it would be entirely reasonable to pick out the perfect bearskin rug for the Oval Office. If that makes you mad, you can get just as mad about it as you want to. She’s headed in that direction and there’s nothing in her way.
UPDATE: NOVEMBER 4, 2010 -- Sarah Palin today:The Midterms: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward - National Review Online
"In the coming weeks there will also be a debate about the viability of particular candidates. Anyone with the courage to throw his or her hat in the ring and stand up and be counted always has my respect. Some of them were stronger candidates than others, but they all had the courage to be “in the arena.” The second lesson of this election is one a number of the candidates had to learn to their cost: Fight back the lies immediately and consistently. Some candidates assumed that, once they received their party’s nomination, the conservative message would automatically carry the day. Unfortunately, political contests aren’t always about truth and justice. Powerful vested interests will combine to keep bad candidates in place and good candidates out of office. Once they let themselves be defined as “unfit” (decorated war hero Joe Miller) or “heartless” (pro-life, international women’s rights champion Carly Fiorina), good candidates often find it virtually impossible to get their message across. The moral of their stories: You must be prepared to fight for your right to be heard."Continued...
"More than eight months ago, on November 26, 2011, NASA launched its newest rover named Curiosity from Florida's Cape Canaveral, headed to the planet Mars. Now, after traveling hundreds of millions of kilometers, the landing is scheduled to take place at 1:31 am Eastern Time on Monday, August 6 (10:31 pm August 5, Pacific Time). The capsule containing the rover will experience "seven minutes of terror", decelerating through the Martian atmosphere, as a series of entry events quickly take place, ending with a rocket-powered sky crane lowering the rover gently to the surface. Curiosity is a beast of a rover, weighing one ton, measuring ten feet long by seven feet tall (at the top of the mast), and powered by a plutonium-238 fueled electrical generator. The rover carries ten instruments, including several high-resolution cameras, and a laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy instrument called ChemCam that can vaporize tiny amounts of minerals and analyze their components. If all goes according to plan, Curiosity is scheduled for a stay on Mars of about 668 Martian sols, or nearly two Earth years, starting in Gale crater. Researchers hope to use the tools on Curiosity to study whether the area in Gale crater has had environmental conditions favorable for supporting microbial life and for preserving clues about whether life existed. (Most of these photos were featured in a November, 2011 entry, when Curiosity was launched). [36 photos] " -- - In Focus - The Atlantic
Curiosity Landing. Source of giant Martian not disclosed by NASA.
Blue Angels visit Seattle- - U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilots Lt. C.J. Simonsen, back, and Lt. David Tickle, middle, fly in formation with Team Oracle stunt pilot Sean D. Tucker, front, on Aug. 2, 2012, near downtown Seattle. Tucker and the Blue Angels are in town for the annual Seafair summer festival featuring an air show and other events.
The panhandle of Idaho is known for its beautiful mountains, trees, and waterways.
It's also home to a growing group of men and women who call themselves the Idaho regiment of the Light Foot Militia. Members believe they are the "teeth of the Constitution" at a time of economic and political uncertainty for the United States of America.
Cody Hoyt, a corporal in the Light Foot militia, looks west over the Clark Fork River and Lake Pend Oreille near the Idaho and Montana border during an overnight cold weather training exercise.
"And the wind shifts
and the dust on a door sill shifts
and even the writing of the rat footprints
tells us nothing, nothing at all
about the greatest city, the greatest nation
where the strong men listened
and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was."
-- Carl Sandberg. 1920.
Quirky, quick/unquick and randomly punctuated, but stay with it. At NeoNeoCon, this comment from one Artfldgr to a thread entitled Romney: the authentically nice politician?
The better man he appears to be the more their faults are seen.
Kind of like putting Helen Thomas next to Michelle Malkin…
In fact, this is actually the Left's hate of white males… after all, outside the constant litany of evil whitie etc… you have the example of the creators of modern civilization, the industrial revolution, the enlightenment, and end to slavery in their own sphere (while it still rages elsewhere), chivalry, the invention of written law, modern law, sea law, international law, international business, and on and on and on.
Romney not playing the proper part, ends up being traditional, strong, handsome, winning, nice, etc.
Anyone ever read Qayin and Havel?
Ever hear Obama mention my brother's keeper?
The Left is always trying to do “good things” for others with a hidden ulterior motive they pretend is never there, but is never absent.
They are never sincere
They are socially capitalistic, not economically. That is, they want to wheel and deal favors among plotters not merit among men.
And so, the socialists, the feminists, the communists, the progressives, the nazis, the maoists, etc.
All need scapegoats.
And they ALL select scapegoats that are better than they are, that they cant defeat in open fair competition.
They select the people they represent by their gullibility, moldibility, ignorance, ability to be bought, and negative qualities. while falsely praising them as to their better qualities.
If the Left represents you, you should be insulted, not happy
But ultimately, they all conjure up Moriarty. the infallible Holmes had Moriarty, the one thing that could defeat him and is worthy his opposition.
Well, the Left is forever calling up the same ghost under a different name to scapegoat. Moriarty, patriarchy, white men, Jews, etc.
But ultimately its the Cain and Able story…
(the other terms are Judaic)
Able works hard and his merit and sacrifice are rewarded as they are sincere, full of merit
But the Left. Cain, hates that when he tries to do good, it comes out bad because he seeks reward not doing good.
Able would do good without reward
Cain would not
Shall i point out that all mankind is descendent from Cain, as Able had a problem with his brother.
The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he was downcast.
The Lord. Reality.. as today.. blesses some, and not others. in this case, reality blesses the conservatives and hard working and so the Lord and Reality are one.. and the missives of the bible confer success…
But Cain, doing the same surface cargo cult acts with no substance, can't see why what he does is not worthy of Reality's blessing.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why are you downcast? If you do right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
And so… the Left seeks to kill the offenders who are good, full of merit and through hard work gain the blessings of reality (God), because they work in line with reality and do not fight it (lao tsu / dao).
i can relate it to a dozen religions and lessons, but unless Joseph Campbell is resurrected for the conversation, most would be lost with my other examples.
Another variant of this same story is when a group of brothers sell their own into slavery.
The prodigal son is also another similar lesson, as the return of the son marks the mastery of the sins, and a return to what's important to reality.
But you can tell its Cain and Able because of Obama’s quotes on my brothers keeper.
“I hear politicians talking about values in an election year. I hear a lot about that. Let me tell you about values,” Obama said. “Hard work, personal responsibility — those are values. But looking out for one another. That’s a value. The idea that we’re all in this together. I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper. That’s a value.”
But Obama forgets who says this and to whom. And the negative in the bible always follows the Left neurolinguistic form… from Genesis and the snake, onwards.
The form of answering a question with a question… and leading the other to an answer without saying it, etc.
The form is first done by the serpent.
But Obama playing Cain, takes up Cain's response and fixes it, hoping this time, reward will be unlocked.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I know not,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
A lie followed by an answering question…
Cain jealously destroys ability in others, murders them, then pretends that the responsible are not responsible as such acts do not cause guilt which would perhaps hint that one should not get that reward.
Then He said, “What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground! So now you are cursed [with alienation] from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood you have shed. If you work the land, it will never again give you its yield. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
And so, that method that Cain acts by, bears no fruit. Its socialism…
Cain wanted to share equally in the blessings of reality, but was not willing to do what reality wants to gain them. so Cain takes cargo cult shortcuts, thinks he is more clever than reality, and so, as long as Cain is Cain, Cain fails.
Down deep this is the hatred of the Left for Romney… to them, his merit and such is evil, and isn't a big deal. so they don't see his reward in money, good life, many children (more than obama), and so on, as earned.
Just as Cain could not see how able earned reward from reality (god).
And just as Cain, the Left thinks if they genocide the problem, it will go away, and in the absence of it, they then can have the merit.
But Reality's merit is for those who act in accordance with the wishes/principals of reality
At that point Romney ceases to be a person for them, and instead becomes an almost religious symbol of what they want but can't have given their choice of methods negates the desire.
And Cain lived in fear of other men (?), who have not been yet… and feared they would take retribution on him… so God, marked him and blessed him.
The good people will not kill Cain (for they are good), and so Cain is reborn to visit ill over and over on the good people.
Cursed to wander, he destroys any home he settles in, and is forced to leave, as any socialist leader eventually angers their people so much they would kill them as Cain claimed when they found out his real nature.
[Archival from 2006 but still, in light of recent events, worth repeating.]
If your life on the web is running too s l o w, if your browsing and grazing at this site or that is just b o g g i n g d o w n, what do you do?
Like any good cybernaut, you look for the "techno-fix."
There are, of course, many fixes to find. New connections, new computers, new hard drives, new browsers, new plugins, and more. But the first thing everyone should do is to take the cure common to all cyberspace slowdowns. You click on your browser menus and tell it to "Clear History."
"Clear History" works wonders for your cyberlife. As you move within the web, your History grows, and the more History you hold the slower your web brain, your browser, thinks and acts. Thinking slowly and acting slowly may be wise in life, but it takes the zip out of your online drive.Continued...
Provincetown's "Fresh Sea Clams," 1940.
"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." -- Yogi
Summer's at last heating up and so it's time for the cool to get cool by the shore. This will be especially cool this year because, so we hear, the coolest president in history may cool out on Martha's Vineyard. How cool is that?
It's even cooler when you consider that the cool One is sure to take the last final shred of whatever may have once, long ago, been cool about the Vineyard and grind it into fishmeal. When that's done, the Vineyard will look and feel, at last, pretty much like Provincetown, but without the Gay Pride floats and speedos. People worry about the coming fall and the heating up of swine flu, but I don't worry about fevers when I see that the all-consuming chill of "cool" is likely to get us first.
Cool's a funny thing. Before it was cool to be cool, being cool was actually sorta cool. But now that being cool is as required as a tramp-stamp at age 14 in order to gain admittence to a U2 Concert, cool's just not cool. Once "cool" is codified it's kaput. And since cool's not cool, there is no way to really be cool. Once you have a bunch of media lapdogs actually lapping on the lap of the President of the United States, even media's uncool. That would be okay since nothing cool is cool forever. After all, the groove must move to keep from becoming a rut.Continued...
The new racism in America stinks. The whole revolting "little George Allen maybe said the "N" word 30-odd years in the past" pile of crap pushed out by his political rival over the last few days has filled me with a new found revulsion for our politics.
My crime is this: by writing out the following word, "nigger," I have just committed a social crime more heinous than smoking a cigarette within three miles of a day-care center. But what is done, sigh, is done.
I've done many thing in my life that have made me potentially unelectable to any office in the United States.
I've had points of view that were out when conservatism was in, and points of view that were out when liberalism was in. I've worked for magazines that printed pictures of naked women and letters that began "I never thought I'd be writing this to a magazine, but...."
There are photographs of me smoking cigarettes in a land where the only two things the educational system teaches children is that cigarettes are bad and the New York Times is good.
My religious affiliations are dubious and transitory. I tend to change churches as others change sox.
While I am a member of the largest minority, it is the only one that is unrecognized by the Diversity Stamp of Approval Bureau. After a lifetime of voting the Democratic ticket, I became so nauseated by Teresa Heinz Kerry and her consort in 2004 that I actually voted for George Bush. To compound this sin I then moved to Seattle, Washington where Bush Derangement Syndrome has claimed the brain death of approximately 97.6% of the population. If you ever want to feel alone just put a "Rice/Rumsfeld 2008 'A World of Experience'" lawn sign out in this city. Better yet, put it on the lawn of a house you'd like to see burn.
Yes, I am one American citizen whose chances of being elected to anything, before this essay, hovered at .001 %. But with the single word in the essay above I have, for all eternity, sealed my political doom. That word has now become part of my "Permanent Conduct Record," and has, as far as the ever-alert pecksniffs of our shared political purity are concerned, made me an outcast. Alas, I am forever doomed to wander the barren heath where dwell the "hard-core unelectable." I suspect I shall soon be able with George Allen to:
"...sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings:
How some have been depos'd, some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have depos'd,
Some poison'd by their wives, some sleeping kill'd;
Murdered by the "N-Word."
It is not, mind you, that "The N-Word" is forbidden or never heard in this fair land at this time. On the contrary, "nigger" is spoken, sung, shouted and roared from the rooftops of our culture to an extent I have never witnessed in all my decades.
The word is blasted across the blank forebrain of our culture every minute of every hour of every day. Not only can it be bought in huge quantities at every on and offline record/DVD store in the country, it is also blasted into our city streets by large vehicles mounting sound systems that can drop a charging rhino at 100 yards and cause small dogs to implode in penthouses high above our boulevards. At vast nocturnal gatherings of our most vital and hyper-sexual young people, the word is drummed out in endless celebratory chants as all assembled shake, shake, shake their money makers to the non-stop N-chants of our perpetually preening princes of pop.
For, lo, this word which once emblemized both race-hate and a degraded and disgraced secondary state of humanity has, through the alchemy of the asinine among us, been mystically transmogrified into something approaching a holy incantation. From a mongrel word it has be made magical. But the use of this magic word has, as the high priests of pap always assure us, been made unavailable to the many for the power of the few.
The Word is now the sole possession of the REMD (Racial Establishment of Monetized Defeatism). It is a closely held stock whose possession assures that, the more we strive to put racism behind us in this country, the more certainly it will be kept alive in order to maintain the parasite of racism's ability to feed upon the host culture and continue to enrich its stockholders.
The Word is the carrier of a strange disease. It is a disease that those who would benefit most from its eradication seek desperately to maintain. After all, if the scourge of racism were ever allowed to fade from our land, where would all the people with jobs and investments in the continuance of racism go? How would they live? How would their mortgages be paid and how would their car, boat and second-home payments be met?
For if racism is allowed to die a natural death, isn't the Race-Hustling industry also on-line for the grave as well? This can't be allowed to happen. Too many people are getting too rich.
The crowning irony is that those benefiting are not all black. Not by a long shot. That is why rather than sending the N-Word into a well-deserved oblivion with the ghosts of the KKK and the lynch mob, it has been made, instead, into a Holy Word; a cross between a mantra and a prayer with just a whiff of violence attached so you don't get too cocky with it.
If you've haven't realized it from the "possible, perhaps, maybe" use of it by George Allen sometime in the last century, you have probably realized from these words that I am "one of those" who are denied access to this new Holy Word simply by an accident of my birth and racial heritage. It matters not one whit what the First Amendment may say about all English words being free to all, there is one word there that is not free to me, and I may not say it or write it ever without dire consequences to my social and political and employment chances in America today.
Evoking the F-word may or may not be a firing offense in America today, but for a person of my race the mention of the N-word most certainly is. Context has exactly nothing to do with it. Indeed, as some will recall, the use of a word that even sounds like it, such as "niggardly," is a potential firing offense. Even the first syllable seems to have become forbidden to those suffering my genetic misfortune over which I have no control.
Yes, I was to my everlasting shame and regret born a White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant -- AKA "WASP." This is fixed in my nature. I cannot change it and, no matter how much I may have done, no matter how much I do to carry forward the banner of a raceless, classless society in which all me are judged "not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character;" to raise high the escutcheon of a perfect world, a perfected America, I know that because of the accident of my birth it will never, ever be enough.
I once thought, when I was drowned deep in the somnambulant 60s dreams of racial equality, that we could -- as people of good will working together -- achieve the dream of Dr. King. Now I know it is nothing but a chimera. The truth is that good seldom overcomes greed and there is simply too much money to be made and to many jobs to be handed out by the Racial Grievance Industry of America.
The once admirable Racial Equality movement in America has regrettably transformed itself within a mere 50 years into a Racial Inequity in Perpetuity Movement, and is probably more entrenched than a government bureaucracy -- especially since many government bureaus and employees have a role in it. As a result, there is no sense in yearning any longer for a raceless or classless America.
The control of words and images by the Race Hustlers of America ensures that that day will never come about no matter how much the people yearn for it. As long as the cheap mouthpieces of a faux ghetto identity strut and fret their weary wares upon the stage of our corrupted culture, as long as there is one grill left to be set on one pair of greedy teeth, as long as the Holy Grail of a Big Reparations Check is dangled in front of all those that hold within their genes a single sequence of African DNA, the Race Hustling Religion of America will never fold up its tents and steal away. It is just too much of a Gold Cash Calf to walk away from.
And, like all religions sunk in the pagan fantasies of violence and degradation, the Race Hustling Religion will have to have, from time to time, a white human sacrifice to underscore its power. Right now, that sacrifice is George Allen, whose crime --punished immediately and without trial, is some ancient, vague, unproven and unprovable, use of "The N-Word;" a word he was never it turns out allowed to utter or to even think. He's not the first. He won't be the last. I'm probably on the list now. But I know all you who are reading this are safe. After all, you've never, ever said or even thought that terrible soul-destroying word. Have you?
It seems that every time I think I've seen the bottom of American politics today, that bottom drops away revealing whole new stygian depths lurking deeper below. Hence, I've decided to opt out of my quest to be elected President for one week -- wherein I'd get some needful things done before resigning to let my veep and party take the heat. And just to make sure I never get elected, please excuse me while I commit a racial crime.
[First Published: 2006-09-28 ]
August 1910: It wasn’t the last summer but it was one of the last summers when America was at peace with the world and at peace with itself. The Civil War was a 45 year old memory. The first of the World Wars that would scar the century to come was not even the shadow of a premonition. Lenin was an exile in Europe with no power and Mao was a student in Hunan. Hitler was living in a homeless shelter in Vienna selling paintings to tourists. Stalin was either being sent to or escaping from Siberia. Churchill was the Home Secretary in England and planning the first bit of social engineering, the National Insurance Act. Taft was President and his plan was "try to accomplish just as much [as Teddy Roosevelt] without any noise."
Both the automobile and and the electric light were ubiquitous. Air conditioning was still a wild fantasy, but the swamp cooler had begun to come online in 1904 so it wasn't completely out of the question for the very rich.
Halley’s Comet had just passed by taking Mark Twain with it. Somewhere in Macedonia Mother Teresa had just been born. If men looked up they could have seen, had they been in the right place at the right time, other men in flight. If any had been in Sheepshead Bay out side of New York City on the 20th they would have heard the first gunshots ever fired from an airplane. Individual lives might have their small tragedies but there was no perceptible or imaginable catastrophe in the cards dealt Americans that summer. It was August and everywhere Americans paused to refresh themselves.
Presented for your contemplation: One wave breaking over a group of Americans who have waded into the Atlantic on the Jersey shore sometime around noon on a hot day in August in 1910.
The wave would have swelled up and started out far over the eastern horizon near the edge of the Gulf Stream. It would have rolled with strict impunity in the midst of thousands of others like it, all bound towards the shore. The photographer would have gotten up early and hauled his cumbersome equipment towards the shore. The bathers would have arrived in the late morning if they were not already staying near the shore.
Once there they changed into swimming apparel known more for modesty than comfort. From the light it was around noon and would have been hot. Seeking to be cooler they waded in. Some stayed near the shore. Others waded further out the steadily deepening water.
On some kind of elevated platform above the sand, the photographer put the 8x10 glass plate into the camera and ducked under the black hood for final adjustments. Then he stood up and called out and called out and called out and finally got the attention of some. Most ignored him.
The wave rolled in from somewhere over the horizon, rising up and down, maybe cresting here and there, until it swelled one last time and, just as the photographer happened to release the shutter, jumped up in that one moment and splashed and spattered the unwary people posed and unposed in the cool salt water just off the beach on the Jersey shore.
That was the moment, less than a second, in the midst of that summer now more than a century gone. All, each and every one, of those nearly 300 souls are now gone as well, even the children held on the shoulders or standing in the shallows, all gone -- all perhaps, maybe, save one now almost silent centenarian.
Well, what of it? That’s the way of the world and the way of the waves of the world and our lives. What we have is this moment snatched out of time on the Jersey shore one afternoon in August before the last century went smash. Who is there? What were they like? It can’t be known, but it can be seen and what can be seen, at least in this one moment, is that these people had what anyone would recognize as that thing we call happiness. Let’s see what we can see of it.Continued...