Friday, October 29, 2010
The video is The Allman Brother's Whipping Post, in tribute to Duane Allman, who died 39 years ago today.
While in the west part of Macon on October 29, 1971 during a band break from touring and recording, Allman was riding his motorcycle toward an oncoming truck that was turning well in front of him. The truck suddenly stopped in mid-intersection. Allman lost control of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle while trying to swing left, possibly striking the back of the truck or its crane ball. He was thrown from his motorcycle, which landed on him and skidded with him under it, crushing his internal organs. Though he was rushed to the hospital and operated on, he died several hours later, just weeks before his 25th birthday.
Don't know where or how Duane got that sound—it seemed to emanate from a place as mysterious to him as it was to everyone else. When Rolling Stone selected the 100 greatest guitarists a few years ago, he was chosen second, behind only Jimi. Sadly, Duane's closest friend, bassist Barry Oakley was killed on his motorcycle in a very similar accident, a year later.
Ronnie Van Zandt dedicated Free Bird to Duane. Have a listen, and remember this great southern musician, as well as Ronnie, and Steve Gaines, who died just 7 years later. Besides, I'm feeling lonesome for home, and listening to them somehow makes me feel closer.
(Do watch the videos. These boys can play just a little)
On the first day of the Chicago 8 trial, Bobby asked for a continuance because his lawyer was ill, and unable to attend. Absent that, he asked for the right to defend himself, neither of which Hoffman would permit, ordering William Kunstler, who was defending the others, to defend him. Bobby knew his rights, though, and would not be stifled, insisting that Hoffman recognize his right to defend himself.
According to Douglas Linder:
"Bobby Seale continuously, and in increasingly angry tones, insisted upon his right either to represent himself or to have the trial continued until his own counsel of choice, Charles Garry (who was hospitalized for gall bladder surgery), could represent him. Seale hurled frequent and bitter attacks at Judge Hoffman, calling him a ‘fascist dog,’ a ‘pig,’ and a ‘racist,’ among other things. On October 29, the outraged judge ordered Seale bound and gagged. Finally, on November 5, Hoffman severed Seale from the case and sentenced him to four years in prison for contempt.”
Bobby served more than a year in jail, until he was freed by an appeals court that gave a damn about the constitution (few of those exist today). His testimony on behalf of the other defendents can be read here, and a detailed account of both trials here. It is a remarkable document, though I believe that nothing said there, including the testimony of Allen Ginsberg, Phil Ochs, or Norman Mailer, was as powerful or as enduring as the image of Bobby in that courtroom, straining against his captivity, unwilling to be silent when faced with the machinery of his oppression.
"To-morrow I mean to dictate a chapter which will get my heirs & assigns burned alive if they venture to print it this side of A.D. 2006—which I judge they won't. There'll be lots of such chapters if I live 3 or 4 years longer. The edition of A.D. 2006 will make a stir when it comes out. I shall be hovering around taking notice, along with other dead pals. You are invited."
Twain's understanding of the American character was unparallelled, and his social criticism today is as relevant as ever—he remains not only the Lincoln of our literature, but among our most formidable radicals (and certainly our funniest).
Twain wrote the following song in 1900, to commemorate our disgraceful treachery in the Phillippines. It neatly accomodates today's spirit, as well. It's called The Battle-Hymn of the Republic (Brought Down to Date):
Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;
He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger's wealth is stored;
He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored;
His lust is marching on.
I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps;
I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps --
His night is marching on.
I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal;
Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel;
Lo, Greed is marching on!"
We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;*
Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat;
O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
Our god is marching on!
In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch,
With a longing in his bosom – and for others' goods an itch.
As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich –
Our god is marching on.
* NOTE: In Manila the Government has placed a certain industry under the protection of our flag. (M.T.)
That's the title of an item at Gawker, written by a poor bastard who apparently did, indeed, exchange precious fluids with the Life of the Tea Party, and has photos that prove they were quite friendly, at the very least. The picture above was taken on Halloween, several years ago (and judging by her red eyes, must've been during her time with the coven).
Kind of a nasty thing to do, although I guess she's made her personal life fair game by many of the things she's said over the course of her unending campaigns for elective office. There's never been any doubt that she lacks the experience, the gravitas, and the basic sanity to hold any position of public trust—too bad she wasn't born in Roman times, when she could perhaps have been a Priestess of Vesta, though I'm not sure if born-again virgins were permitted to apply—so I question whether any of it really matters.
Whatever else, though, this story (and these pictures) constitute proof that even if she is not intellectually up to the job of being a United States Senator, temperamentally she was born for it.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I have communicated my regard for her on these pages numerous times. Whether or not you share my feelings, I believe the quality of her verses to be beyond question. I detest Harold Bloom for his contemptible dismissal of Thomas Wolfe—and, effectively, of everyone who loves him—but for his treatment of Plath, I come nearer real hatred for The Wet-Lipped One. His dismissal is attached to a word—hysteric—that has come to be used by many patriarchal types to put her in her place (in the vernacular of the patriarchal soul) ever since. Not that the tsking and the guffing and the clucking of the patriarchy matters all that much—I'd put Sylvia's book-sales up against Bloom's any day (and Wolfe's against Bloom's, for that matter)—but it is still irritating as hell. Sylvia excites the contempt and subsequent spit-filled invective of white male blowhards like no other, I think (witness Theodore Dalrymple's thick-headed opus to the sound of his own voice, published just this year), and this is testimony to her merit.
(I vote for the latter)
Take a look at this affecting video someone made, to Plath herself reading what is arguably her greatest poem (with maybe the greatest last-line ever).
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Watch the tape of Lauren Valle, of MoveOn.com, being assaulted by a couple of goons from the Rand Paul campaign. Observe how casually and viciously these well-fed white males assault this small woman, and note the smug satisfaction they communicate while doing so.
Remember the face of fascism. You'll be seeing it again.
Monday, October 25, 2010
The tragedy here is that if voters do turn on Democrats, they will in effect be voting to make things even worse.
The resurgent Republicans have learned nothing from the economic crisis, except that doing everything they can to undermine Mr. Obama is a winning political strategy. Tax cuts and deregulation are still the alpha and omega of their economic vision.
And if they take one or both houses of Congress, complete policy paralysis — which will mean, among other things, a cutoff of desperately needed aid to the unemployed and a freeze on further help for state and local governments — is a given. The only question is whether we’ll have political chaos as well, with Republicans’ shutting down the government at some point over the next two years. And the odds are that we will.
Like Professor Krugman points out, we are free-falling into the abyss—and our only lifeline, before hitting the rocks, is to keep power away from the clowns, the crooks, and the crazies who brought us to the precipice in the first place. It is a hard thing when your only other choice is one that has been as ineffectual as the Democrats have been, but we learned, the hard way, the cost of ideological purity in 2000, when Ralph Nader and his voters delivered the presidency to George W. Bush.
God help us.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Been thinking about Huey, since the last post. If you're not familiar with the story, he was murdered August 22, 1989, by a guy named Tyrone Robinson, described by local police as being a drug dealer. Shot down on the streets of Oakland, in the neighborhood where the Black Panthers were born a couple decades before, an ending to his journey which pleased his enemies profoundly.
But I think the bullets were just an implement of the despair that gradually filled the space where hope had been—they were the foul dust left in the wake of the Panther's crippled dream, that carried Huey from this earth, along with numberless others of several generations of black men since. Whether they have become "property" of the prison industrial complex, or whether they lay stupefied in a back-alley or a crack-house, or whether they reside now in cemetaries, their stories are so many and so common that we grow not just inured to them, but wearied by them, persuaded by our fear and our ignorance to look the other direction, while they circle the drain of America's porous consciousness.
Their real killers, and his, are the constructors of that despair, and they laugh at these ideas. Roll their eyes. Believe this. I have seen them up close, have been regarded as one of their own. They have the empathy of a lizard for a fly, the pity of a snake for a field mouse. Despair is what they do. They exert their wills using every means at their disposal, exploiting insecurities, animal discomfort, and fear. When that doesn't work, they imprison. And when that doesn't achieve the desired effect, they murder.
Huey Newton overcame tremendous obstacles in his life. The racism he experienced did not deter him, but made him stronger. Not knowing how to read after graduating high school did not prevent him from teaching himself, and eventually achieving a PhD. The occupying army in his neighborhood, and the profiteers they served, did not stop him from serving his community, from teaching others to hope. The government whose professed principles he believed in, but which was in reality owned by the profiteers, turned its darkest nature against him. They subverted those principles to destroy him, causing him to look still deeper into his character, and to refine the greatness that lived in him, creating an alloy probably unlike anything he had imagined, going in.
The long night beginning with the escalation of the war in Vietnam has taken its toll on all of us, even those who did not live through it. It haunts our national life, has wrecked our faith in our institutions, and from our resulting apathy has created the space the corporatists have needed to undo the New Deal, program by program, idea by idea.
They like to point out that Huey had human failings, and especially, that he was addicted to drugs. Maybe that's so, I dunno. The 80's were tough, and the spirit of Reaganism deadening, stifling. It was a decade defined by greed, and by apathy, and maybe that's what broke Huey's heart. He could handle everything else, did not fear confrontation and struggle, and did not shirk from the imperatives of his beliefs. But the turning away—from the possibilities of promises finally realized, inward, to the insular, and to the materialistic—maybe that was too much.
Yeah. The video is an interview with this Humane Revolutionary from jail, talking about his ideas. It'll give you some notion of who he was, in case you don't know.
"You can kill my body, but you can't kill my soul. My soul will live forever!" Those were Huey's last words, looking down the barrel of Robinson's .45.
And I, for one, believe it. The idea of a forever without Huey in it is simply unacceptable.
Bobby Seale is 74 today.
Above is a clip from Chicago 8, based on the infamous 1969-70 (Nixonian) trial of the radicals charged with causing the riots at the '68 Democratic convention. Bobby was charged, even though he was only briefly in town during the riots. He was intent upon receiving his rights under the law—still very idealistic—not yet realizing the extent that power will corrupt in its effort to destroy those who defy it.
Bobby stood tall and strong in the face of Judge Hoffman's mean-spirited and narrow mediocrity, never giving an inch. Hoffman famously had him bound and gagged to a chair, and still he kept fighting to be heard, toppling his chair, and leading to Hoffman's decision to sever his trial from the others (creating the Chicago 7), and the vindictive, record-setting four year prison sentence he received for contempt.
He was freed after 18 months, when a Federal Court threw out his preposterous sentence—though his incarceration, as well as that of fellow Panther's founder Huey Newton, weakened their movement significantly, as did the infamous and despicable COINTELPRO offensive J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI waged against them, effectively destroying the Panthers by use of disinformation, infiltrators, malicious and false prosecutions, and even overt brutality and murder.
Bobby has kept fighting, though, albeit less confrontationally—guess the sonsofbitches he went toe-to-toe with can knock that desire out of anyone—remaining a community activist, and a teacher. Below is a clip where he explains the Panther's Ten-Point program.
"Black people, we are organizing to stop racism, you dig it? When you stop racism, you stop brutality and murder of black people by the racist occupying army in our black community."
I was especially moved when he talked of Huey Newton stressing the importance of expressing their goals in simple, easily understood terms, that could be converted into action—no esoteric statements, no argumentative tracts—so that ordinary people could understand, and be engaged. I thought of how Huey graduated from High School, not knowing how to fucking read. How he taught himself, struggling for months to get through Plato's The Republic, finally reading the book countless times, and mastering it, igniting his intellect—ultimately leading to his PhD, in 1980. Ending on 9th Street in West Oakland, nine years later.
Yeah, fuck. Poor Huey. Still hurts a little, thinking about it.
Anyway, have a look at the video. In case you didn't know, the Panthers had it going on, for awhile—their principles were basically just American values—or what's been advertised as such—being extended to African-American people, mixed in with a healthy dose of humanity, and giving a shit about your neighbor (which may or may not be an American value, depending upon who you ask).
Bobby—happy birthday, Bubba. You're one of those guys whose spirit makes me gladder to be human.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
In comes the playmate that never was seen.
When children are happy and lonely and good,
The Friend of the Children comes out of the wood.
Nobody heard him, and nobody saw,
His is a picture you never could draw,
But he's sure to be present, abroad or at home,
When children are happy and playing alone.
—Robert Louis Stevenson, The Unseen Playmate
In 1944, RKO was determined to release a sequel to the Cat People, Val Lewton's terrifically successful first release as head of that studio's horror unit. Lewton's deal with RKO was that the pictures be made quickly, cheaply, and that the studio supplied the titles before production began. In return, he had creative autonomy, giving him the forum he wanted to create films of superior quality, but the kind of films that really hadn't been made before.
Lewton had no interest in a sequel, but found a way to incorporate the main characters of the first film onto a new one that was a different beast altogether. Curse of the Cat People is one of the most remarkable pictures of the 40's, or of any era, one of the most beautiful and most poetic films about the loneliness of childhood ever made.
This trailer is all I can really find that is embeddable. As you will see, while entertaining, it describes the film RKO desired far more than the film Lewton actually made. The link, from TCM, is to a scene that better reflects that. Have a look, and see this unique and magical film.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The last incredible minutes of the Greatest Television Program ever, the original, British, The Office. Paula Jane and I just finished watching the whole series again, for probably the twentieth time, and if anything, it is better every time we see it. If your spirit doesn't soar when David Brent tells Chris Finch to fuck off, and if you're not moved when Dawn reads Tim's note (Never Give Up!), and if you're still not affected when Dawn comes back to the party alone, you're way too fucking cool for me, my friend.
We love the American The Office, too. It may be the funniest program on television today, and I can't praise it enough. One thing it doesn't have, though, is Ricky Gervais—not only his inimitable presence as David Brent, but his (and Stephen Merchant's) writing and direction. The original program has greater depth, and is populated by what feel like real people, giving the comedy greater richness, I think, and moments like those described above greater resonance.
And the theme song—when I hear it, my heart melts. Yeah, sure, there are better TV theme songs, but none that capture the essence of this one, the best there ever was.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
This picture is not from a movie, it is the real thing, a terrible image alluding to twentieth century horrors we think to be well behind us. Do not kid yourself. Right-wing extremism is in vogue all over Europe, coincident with the world-wide depression wrought by American corporatists.
Germany's Bush-light chancellor Angela Merkel was recently quoted as saying that tolerance in Germany was a thing that cannot work. "The approach of saying, 'Well, let's just go for a multicultural society, let's coexist and enjoy each other,' this very approach has failed, absolutely failed," she claimed, earlier this week. According to a new poll, not only do more that 30% of Germans agree that their country has been "overrun by foreigners," 60% believe authoroties should "restrict the practice of Islam", whatever the hell that means. Additionally, 17% of those living in the nation that gave the world Auschwitz admit believing that Jews have "too much influence"—and 13% openly admit they would welcome a new Fuhrer (the last one worked out so well for them).
One way or other, this is where Corporatism leads, whether from the ethnic hatreds it takes advantage of, or the Orwellian boot in the face that represents its truest expression.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Pretty basic stuff in the rhetorical arsenal of any self-respecting and opinionated Socialist, right?
I felt obliged to engage this person on a frankhearted, free-speaking basis, usually a mistake in this kind of milieu, but one I am prone to make—yet another example of my imperfect social skills—when the subject of budget deficits came up, which is always amusing. Even liberals feel obliged to squalk concern over the trillion dollar-plus shortfall, horrified—as I am, thinking about it on the following terms—that a third of our tax dollars are now spent on interest that is servicing debt. This is because, invariably, we think of our national debt in the same way that we think of business-debt, or even household-debt. Of course, they are not the same at all, because businesses and households do not have the legal power to print money.
This is where our discussion was headed, and I was trying to explain something fundamental to the rather confused individual I was addressing when I attempted to preface my next remarks by telling him that political economy is really quite simple—as far as I got, because I was interrupted by some guy passing by, who felt compelled to interject that he'd studied economics for six years, and it wasn't simple at all. He said this twice, feeling very wise and satisfied with himself I am sure, which is just as well, because it caused me to realize where I was, and who I was addressing. I ended the conversation as neatly as possible, and exited without pointing out that the one had studied a capitalist model of economics, designed to perpetuate wealth in the hands of as few individuals as possible, and the other would never understand these issues until the ability was learned to formulate responses after listening—hearing, and engaging—what was being said to him by those who understood them better.
I will, though, finish the thought for you.
Economics is really pretty simple, and anyone who tells you it isn't is selling you something. There is philosophy attached to it, and there are any number of ideas emanating from that, but at its base it is the study of production and distribution of the materials of human life. Every complication is just a parlor trick to justify the idea that some should have more of the pie than everyone else. That's it. The financial instruments that Wall Street used to steal trillions over the past decade are no more necessary to the common weal as a kick in the teeth—they are thuggery, devised by an entitled class that is insatiable, literally bottomless in their greed.
When government prints money that winds up in the hands of those who spend it, it fuels the economy, creates sales for business, tax revenues, and job creation. When government is placed in the position of printing lots and lots more money—as we are now, because of the farce of the housing market-fueled "prosperity" of the Bush years, and its domino effect in practically every sector—the result is that all other existing money is worth less. Amassed wealth is worth less than was supposed, probably significantly so—but that is simply Truth. This is what happens when a decade is spent pretending that wealth was being created, when it wasn't.
Simple, isn't it?
Shown here displaying the introverted and retiring nature for which he is famous, Oscar Wilde was born this day in 1854. The following poem, Requiescat, was written in memory of his sister Isola, who died when he was ten.
Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.
All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.
Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
Sweetly she grew.
Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone,
She is at rest.
Peace, peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life's buried here,
Heap earth upon it.
Friday, October 15, 2010
(Cher, for instance, is far more deserving. And capital punishment is still on the table...lest she forget).
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
What does the S stand for?
—Jim, in Omaha
Oh I get it. The S in my name—Adam S Curse, right?
That's really funny, Jim.
(Stands for Shutthefuckup, is what it stands for)
(Editor's note: I don't mind if you write Pumpkin Boy—though, if you do, address the letters to his email account, PumpkinBoy2011@hotmail.com )—just, please, do not indulge his grandiosity. He's hard enough to deal with as it is, and if he pops off at Paula Jane again, God knows what she'll do)
Dear Pumpkin Boy,
I really like your clothes. Your orange shirt is so very orange, and your striped pants—purple and green—are mesmerizing. Who is your tailor?
Well, everything I wear comes from Savile Row, except for my shoes, which are Italian-made—What the fuck? I know you're putting me on. I may have an enormous pumpkin head, but I'm not stupid—I came with these clothes, assclown. These people, especially the woman, treat me like some kind of freak—you wanta bust somebody's balls about the way I dress, bust their's, buddy.
Dear Adam's Curse,
Okay so now, you're Mr. Curse or some shit, and I happen to know that you are also known as Bobby, Nick, and Leadbone...Are you wanted by the police?
Dear Concerned Citizen,
What kinda shit?—no, I'm not wanted by no motherfuckin police.
Just possessed of a shy and retiring nature, that's all. Gotta wear sunscreen all the time, just to protect my feelings and shit.
Now get the fuck outta here, 'fore I wear out a kneecap kickin you in the ass or something—
(Let somebody ask a real question)
Dear Mr. Curse,
Why do people have eyebrows?
—Wondering, in Little Rock
According to CoolQuiz.Com, "just like an umbrella keeps our bodies dry from the rain, our hairy eyebrows keep our eyes dry from rain or sweat. When it's pouring rain outside or when sweat drips down from our foreheads, our eyebrows divert the flow of water or sweat away from our eyes." Additionally, "eyebrows have other roles also. As one of our most expressive facial features, eyebrows help us determine how people are feeling without ever really asking them."
Of course, you could've googled this your own self—oh. Yes. Little Rock. That's in Arkansas, right? I'll tell you what Coach told Worley, cause I'm sure it applies to you, too: Eyebrows? You've got one eyebrow, Worley. And it's one ugly muther.
Dear Pumpkin Boy,
Is Pumpkinness a nationality? An ethnic group? A kind of vegetable?Do you have a soul? If yes, does this mean radishes have souls? Acorn Squash? Turnips?
—Truthseeker, in San Diego
I am a Gourd. And a Squash. And a Presbytarian.
Some try to persecute me because of my diversity. Some—who live in my own home—even try and deny my ability to reason.
It's true that I once practiced withcraft, and once danced with Hare Krishnas. I have used mind-altering drugs, and have even flirted with scientology.
At the end of the day, what does it all mean?
I'm you, that's what. I am you.
Dear Adam's Curse,
Do you know the phrase "softly, softly, catchie monkey"?
—Gareth, in the UK
I could catch a monkey. If I was starving I could. I'd make poison darts out of the poison of deadly frogs. One milligram of that poison can kill a monkey. Or a man. Prick yourself and you'd be dead within a day. Or longer. Different frogs, different times.
Dear Pumpkin Boy,
How long will you remain Pumpkin Boy? Will you ever become Pumpkin Man?
—Trying to figure you out, in Detroit
(Dear Trying—Pumpkin Boy is, unfortunately, unable to verbalize. His face has darkened, from panic and confusion, and pink foam is oozing from his ears, This is probably a subject we should avoid, in the future.—Editor)
That's all for now...Perhaps we'll have some more intelligent questions, for next time—please, do not be intimidated by my suavite (that's pronounced swahv-it-ay, in case you're from Arkansas or Oklahoma)—I put my pants on one leg at a time, ever since that incident with the rug, the waxed floor, and the curling iron. I am approachable. And humble. And like Pumpkin Boy, I am You. And He is Me. And We are Us. And we are all, um, together. Write Adam's Curse at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Pumpkin Boy at PumpkinBoy2011@hotmail.com.
They were Globetrotter good, and the rest of baseball was the Washington Generals. They were defined by their great players, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gherig, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez, Roger Maris—the list goes on and on, as did the winning. The resentment was understandable, as was the sense of futility, epitomized by the hit musical Damn Yankees, about a working stiff Senator's fan named Joe Boyd, who sells his soul to the devil, to beat the Yankees just one time.
In 1960, most people didn't believe the Pirates belonged on the same field as the Yanks. Led by the great Roberto Clemente, they had some nice players—Dick Groat, Don Hoak, Bill Mazeroski, and the great Dr. Strangeglove himself, Dick Stuart (Gimme some metal, baby!). Nice players, but not nearly as impressive as the Yankees. And outside of Bob Friend and Vern Law, their pitching wasn't, logically, formidable enough to beat them.
Most of that played out, in the series. The Yanks had outscored the Pirates 46–17, outhit them 78–49, outbatted them .338 to .251, hit eight home runs to Pittsburgh's one, got two complete game shutouts from Whitey Ford—and found themselves tied in the series, 3 games each, heading into the decisive game seven, played October 13, 1960, at Ebbets Field in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates took a two run lead into the ninth, but a single by Mantle, and a sacrifice by Berra, tied the score. An air of inevitability surely began to nag at even the most optimistic Pirate's fan—they'd taken the Bomber's to 7, and most people didn't believe they'd do that, but reality was settling in—when Bill Mazeroski strode to the plate to lead off the bottom of the ninth for Pittsburgh.
Maz is as good an advertisement for what is good about baseball as any. He was elected to the Hall-of-Fame by the Veteran's Committee about twenty years ago because of his virtuosity with the glove—Bill James has said that he was as good as any defensive player to ever play the game. Never known as being a great hitter, he was hard-working and tenacious, and played the game the right way. And on October 13, fifty years ago today, Bill Mazeroski became a Baseball God.
Facing Yankees right-hander Ralph Terry, on a count of one ball, no strikes, Mazeroski smashed a belt-high slider that didn't slide nearly enough well over the 406' sign in the left field power alley of cavernous Ebbets Field, stunning the previously jubilant Yankees, and the baseball world. Mickey Mantle always said that loss was the one that hurt him the most, and that he actually cried, in the locker room—he, and they, would take their disappointment out on the rest of baseball the next year, winning 109 regular season games, and taking the World Series in 5.
But 1960 belonged to the Pirates—Clemente, Dr. Strangeglove, and Maz.
Check out this terrific video from ESPN, showing an interview with Maz, now 74, and video of his mighty blast. When you see it, notice the spontaneous joy, as fans pour out of the stands—especially the geeky kid patting him on the back as he rounded third base, and another who came streaking down toward home plate. They'd be arrested today, and the athlete would shrink from contact.
Mazeroski is everything you see—humble, unpretentious, one of the very good guys of American pop culture. They built a statue of him at the new ball park this year. "I had my number retired, then I went into the Hall of Fame,'' Mazeroski said, not long ago. "Then you get a street named after you. How can you get a better life than this? Now, I get a statue.'' And though Ebbet's Field is long gone and demolished, the part of the wall over which he sent his blast has been preserved, outside both stadiums which came in Ebbet's Field's wake.
I read that Ralph Terry has been trying and trying to call Maz, the past few weeks, with no success. A Pirate's employee who works with their alums says that he is always helpful and pleasant, but hard to get hold of (he plays a lot of golf). "The problem is getting him to answer the phone. He has no cell, no voicemail, no computer."
Maz grew up in rural West Virginia and Ohio, dreaming of playing in the Big Leagues, and hating the Damn Yankees. He beat em, too, with one swing of the bat. And unlike Joe Boyd, didn't have to sell his soul to do it.
A devotee of the Chinese shrine of Samkong, pierces his cheeks with toy guns during a procession of the Vegetarian Festival on October 11, 2010 in Phuket, Thailand. Ritual Vegetarianism in Phuket Island traces it roots back to the early 1800s. The festival begins on the first evening of the ninth lunar month and lasts for nine days. Participants in the festival perform acts of body piercing as a means of shifting evil spirits from individuals onto themselves and bring the community good luck.
Good to know this twisted shit brings somebody good luck—tempting to think it's an object lesson regarding the hazards of turning the other cheek...Shooting from the Lip? Shooting off your mouth?
(I give up)...
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The video is Ah Mes Amis! from Donnizetti's La Fille Du Regiment, recorded at The Met, circa 1972. It was here, during this very season, singing this very aria, that Pavarotti made his reputation. Listen to the end, and experience the magnificence of his famous high C's—it will take your breath away.
Buon compleanno, Maestro, e grazie...
Monday, October 11, 2010
This, and the fact that Beck has some weird association-thing going with Uncle Walt, a guy who had his own weird association problems, motivated another enterprising You-Tuber to remix the following—yet another tentacle in the all-encompassing effort to silence the Nabob of Nuttery.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
You knew it was coming.
You've probably heard it a dozen times today already. Still, it somehow seems profane not to end the day with Imagine.
If you love rock and roll, as I do, you love John Lennon, too. Even beyond the music, he was one of the best people of the last century. And more than any other song, this one explains what he was about.
Two versions—live and acoustic on top, then the famous video, below.
Someone did a very nice job of adding pictures to this beautiful acoustic version of John's Watching the Wheels. This is among my favorite of his songs, recorded during the last year of his life, and showing what a happy place he'd finally come to.
I cried a little hearing it, just as I did when I heard it after his murder. He'd come such a long way, across his own ocean, to his own green lawn, and it seemed that John, indeed, held the green light in his hands. Always seemed so unfair, you know? But maybe it's best to go out that way, at the happiest possible time. Like his joy is preserved forever in the amber-like moment we remember him in, the last time we saw him living, the last association we have with him sharing the earth with us—maybe part of John lives in that, deathless, as Wallace Stevens' Susanna. "Momentary in the mind" he lives "on the clear viol of (our) memory"—
"And makes a constant sacrament of praise."
Yeah, I know...
Nice thought, though.
PJ's one of the greatest rockers ever, and probably the sexiest. Above, my favorite of her golden oldies. She's 41 today.
Rolling Stone pronounced Jackson Browne the greatest lyricist of the seventies. I found him when I was a teenager, attracted not only to those great lyrics and melodies, but also to his persona, and to his sensibility. He's always meant a lot to me. His age is always easy to figure—"In '69, I was 21", from Runnin' on Empty—therefore, today he is 62.
Below, a link to a great version I found at Youtube to a 2008 acoustic version of Browne doing These Days, which was not imbeddable. Below that, for you motherfuckers too lazy to follow a link, or for the greedy bastards among you who think you deserve an extra song, from 1974 (and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert!), Looking Into You:
John Lennon would be seventy today.
Yeah, that's hard to imagine, huh? Lennon's one of the very, very few examples in modern culture where talent and hype do not co-exist disproportionately.
Top, a nice group of images someone assembled to complement one of John's best songs, In My Life. Bottom, my favorite of his songs, Strawberry Fields Forever, along with the video made to accompany its release.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Melas Chasma is part of the huge Valles Marineris rift valley, which stretches for more than 4000 kilometres. Around Melas Chasma, there is abundant evidence for water having flowed on Mars in the past. Apart from ancient water-cut channels, there are lighter-coloured deposits of sulphate components that were probably deposited in a former lake.
When we finally colonize Mars, this area is a good bet to be the location, because it has the highest natural air-pressure on the planet, resulting in temperatures that would eventually prove hospitable, by Earth standards. Meaning that, in all probability, you are looking at the site of a twenty-third century D.R. Horton subdivision.
(presenting Meandering Martian Meadows, at Melas Creek—starting in the 290's)
What a tremendous asset he could be for spreading the certainty of American Exceptionalism around the world (is he not the most exceptional among us?)...
Thursday, October 7, 2010
From The Vile Plutocrat:
Johnson, known as the Car-Stereo King, ultimately bought the company in later years. He is on record as being staunchly against any kind of federal assistance, and is scrambling to explain his seeming hypocrisy.
When reached for comment earlier tonight, the splenetic speaker sales maven claimed the grant was merely "funny money", originating from the Carter White House's post-"Let's Party" malaise, and didn't really count. "Hamilton Jordan spent more than that on cocaine in 1979," the child-rapist claimed, noting that Stereo World's refusal to spend the entire $75,000 on illegal drugs is the real story. "It woulda been so easy."
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
From the WWN website:
The John D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation today made it official. Bat Boy is a genius.
Weekly World News is proud to announce that Bat Boy has been chosen by the MacArthur Foundation to receive one of its prestigious fellowships, also called “genius grants.”
Upon hearing the news Bat Boy took a baseball bat and smashed the offices of the MacArthur Foundation. They didn’t mind though… “he’s a genius, he can do whatever he wants.”
It was bound to happen.
Robert Haas, Derek Wolcott, Anne Carson, Cormac McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Alice Fulton, Stephen Jay Gould...Bat Boy.
He belongs to the world now.
If you know horror films like I do—and I've seen hundreds and hundreds of them, thousands of times—you recognize several archetypes. The mad scientist model, typified by Frankenstein; the creature-features, like Dracula and The Wolfman (and Frankenstein, to a degree); supernatural horror, like the Mummy, and legions of ghost and devil pics; and the enfatuated Genius model, as expressed in 1934's The Black Cat, 1935's Mad Love, and 1936's The Raven.
One thing every model has in common: Boris Karloff never gets the girl. And it's not fucking fair.
I'm watching The Raven now, and it's a perfect example. Bela Lugosi plays a brilliant doctor, with a very unhealthy fixation on the stories and poems of Edgar Allen Poe. Although he has retired to his palatial estate, a fortress that would impress Tomás de Torquemada to no end, he agrees to the incessant pleas of Judge Thatcher to come out of retirement to save the life and limbs of his daughter, played by Irene Ware. She could've been played, though, by any number of frantic over-acting women of the period, whom I refer to as Virginal White Girls Who Scream a Lot (VWGWSLs). And brother, do they scream. A lot.
Toodling down the road to an assignation with her boyfriend (an affable, ineffectual clod usually named Geoffrey, a pencil moustache affixed to the shadow of a man who really doesn't ever do anything), she becomes enchanted with her reflection in the rear-view mirror, and cracks up her car, along with her supple bod. Lugosi works his genius, and restores her to her previous glory, and in the process falls in luvvvv—you know, the twisted kind of love typical of Geniuses. She is his Lenore.
At a performance of the ballet—where VWGWSL is inexplicably employed as a dancer—Lugosi's drooling attention is noticed by Judge Thatcher, and not favorably (As an aside, should mention at this point the dancing of VWGWSL, which is a thing to behold—she moves like a tweak-head Elaine Benes—really must be seen to be believed).
Thatcher initiates a private audience with Bela, at which he attempts to disabuse him of any ideas he has about he and VWGWSL. While Bela ultimately feigns acceptance of this rejection, we know better—our boy would never give up that easy. This is where Boris shows up, as an escaped convict (with a heart of gold, another element of the archetype), asking Bela to change his face, so he can be free. Bela agrees, but instead hideously deforms his face, using the promise of ultimately repairing it to keep Boris in his thrall.
Then the fun begins. Bela has a party, attended by Judge Thatcher and VWGWSL and the inevitable Geoffrey. After dinner, he begins using his various torture devices to extract his revenge. Is Geoffrey any fucking help during the melee that follows? If frantically running around in circles and stroking your fucking moustache and saying things like "The devil you say!" and "You fiend!" is heroism, then he's Achilles, I guess. When he is stuck in the room with VWGWSL (after she has spurned Bela yet again—at some point her rejection of him starts to seem a little counterproductive), with the walls collapsing to squish them into squishy squiggly bits, early on he says, "It's no hope, darling", or some such, and resigns himself to die. Other side of the door Karloff—whom she had hurt and insulted earlier by screaming at the sight of him—walks into a bullet to save her, turning the lever to stop her squishing, opening the door to free her, and dragging Bela in. It should not require saying that Geoffrey merely observed during all this, lifting not so much as a finger to help the man—the real man—who saved his worm-like life.
Then, they all run to check on Judge Thatcher, leaving the man who saved their lives to bleed out on the floor. Once they remove him from the table he was tied to—the scythe was more than 2 feet away, he wasn't in real danger—they give Boris no thought at all, until they are driving away.
"Poor (Boris)", VWGWSL says. "He gave up his life." Geoffrey's eyes gleam. "Yes Darling. He saved us from being crushed alright." And they drive away, blithely into the night, although I like to think that somewhere down the road they both become so fixated on their image in the rear-view, they crack up again, and join Boris and Bela in a really just reward.
I ask you, where is the justice is this? Boris lays down his life to fill the world with lots of little Geoffreys, bloodless little fucks with impeccable manners and little pencil moustaches and not one noble impulse among the lot—just a superficial and posturing passel of Dewey Republicans—and it's not fucking fair. And this is played out in many films, from The Bride of Frankenstein to The Mummy to any number of others, where Boris gets the short end. And it's not only immoral, it makes no sense—think of what interesting children these women would have with Boris, what a colorful world they would create.
More action. Less talk. Fewer pencil moustaches and Republicans.
It's a crying shame.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
In the picture above, he looks unnatural to me, matched against the image of him in my head; perhaps he's reacting to someone slamming a door on their fingers, or daydreaming about Elsie drowning in the bathtub. He was, by all accounts, not a pleasant fellow. It requires a rare bird to drunkenly accost Robert Frost, as Stevens did in 1935.
In 1936, another drunken encounter with a writer resulted in a broken hand. In Hemingway's words:
"Nice Mr. Stevens. This year he came again pleasant like the cholera and first I knew of it my nice sister Ura was coming into the house crying because she had been at a cocktail party at which Mr. Stevens had made her cry by telling her forcefully what a sap I was, no man, etc. So I said, this was a week ago, 'All right, that's the third time we've had enough of Mr. Stevens.' So headed out into the rainy past twilight and met Mr. Stevens who was just issuing from the door haveing just said, I learned later, 'By God I wish I had that Hemingway here now I'd knock him out with a single punch.'
"So who should show up but poor old Papa and Mr. Stevens swung that same fabled punch but fertunatly missed and I knocked all of him down several times and gave him a good beating. Only trouble was that first three times put him down I still had my glasses on. Then took them off at the insistence of the judge who wanted to see a good clean fight without glasses in it and after I took them off Mr. Stevens hit me flush on the jaw with his Sunday punch bam like that. And this is very funny. Broke his hand in two places. Didn't harm my jaw at all and so put him down again and then fixed him good so he was in his room for five days with a nurse and Dr. working on him. But you mustn't tell this to anybody.
"Anyway last night Mr. Stevens comes over to make up and we are made up. But on mature reflection I don't know anybody needed to be hit worse than Mr. S. Was very pleased last night to see how large Mr. Stevens was and am sure that if I had had a good look at him before it all started would not have felt up to hitting him. But can assure you that there is no one like Mr. Stevens to go down in a spectacular fashion especially into a large puddle of water in the street in front of your old Waddel Street home where all took place. ... I think he is really one of those mirror fighters who swells his muscles and practices lethal punches in the bathroom while he hates his betters."
(His betters, indeed. What a pompous asshole)The reason he says, at the end of the second paragraph, that "you musn't tell anyone" is because he promised to tell no one, because of Steven's fears of damage to his reputation as an insurance man. Hemingway, of course, proceeded to tell damn near everyone, though to his credit I don't believe he sold the film rights, or bought any billboards. Hemingway does sound pleased with himself in the telling, doesn't he? He neglects to mention that Stevens was very drunk, about fifty pounds overweight, and 59 fucking years-old (Hemingway was 36).
It is a revealing story, really, about each man. Hemingway was a sadist and a bully, and very, very impressed with himself. Stevens may have shared these characteristics—he certainly shared the latter one—yet had not achieved the same level of acclaim. He would, of course, in future years, for certainly his reputation has increased, and continues to, while Hemingway's has diminished, and then sort of levelled off. The argument can certainly be made—and I hold to it—that Stevens was a greater Poet than Hemingway was a novelist. Both had and have great influence, but I believe Stevens' work to be more valuable.
I don't hold, though, with Stevens' rather existentialist ideas about God, nor with his puzzlement over the tension between reality and the imagination, although I admit his conception of supreme fiction is sometimes tantalizing. Certainly, I am enthralled by fictive music, as he has described it—yet I am not troubled to be grounded, too, in that which my imagination cannot yet apprehend. Yet while I disagree fundamentally with his conclusion, the machinery by which he concludes it fascinates and instructs, and somehow, inevitably, unburdens me from those fictions that hector, and worry, and even deaden my imagination. By navigating him, I more easily navigate myself, and that is a valuable thing.
As I tell anyone who does not read Stevens, give him a chance—give yourself over, and see where it leads. He is a poet of uncommon power and music, who has given me solace and sustenance in innumerable ways. He is one of my poets.
Peter Quince at Clavier is my favorite of his poems. If you have the opportunity, speak this poem aloud, as you read it—engage it with your senses.
Just as my fingers on these keys
Make music, so the self-same sounds
On my spirit make a music, too.
Music is feeling, then, not sound;
And thus it is that what I feel,
Here in this room, desiring you,
Thinking of your blue-shadowed silk,
Is music. It is like the strain
Waked in the elders by Susanna;
Of a green evening, clear and warm,
She bathed in her still garden, while
The red-eyed elders, watching, felt
The basses of their beings throb
In witching chords, and their thin blood
Pulse pizzicati of Hosanna.
In the green water, clear and warm,
The touch of springs,
For so much melody.
Upon the bank, she stood
In the cool
Of spent emotions.
She felt, among the leaves,
Of old devotions.
She walked upon the grass,
The winds were like her maids,
On timid feet,
Fetching her woven scarves,
A breath upon her hand
Muted the night.
She turned —
A cymbal crashed,
Amid roaring horns.
Soon, with a noise like tambourines,
Came her attendant Byzantines.
They wondered why Susanna cried
Against the elders by her side;
And as they whispered, the refrain
Was like a willow swept by rain.
Anon, their lamps' uplifted flame
Revealed Susanna and her shame.
And then, the simpering Byzantines
Fled, with a noise like tambourines.
Beauty is momentary in the mind —
The fitful tracing of a portal;
But in the flesh it is immortal.
The body dies; the body's beauty lives.
So evenings die, in their green going,
A wave, interminably flowing.
So gardens die, their meek breath scenting
The cowl of winter, done repenting.
So maidens die, to the auroral
Celebration of a maiden's choral.
Susanna's music touched the bawdy strings
Of those white elders; but, escaping,
Left only Death's ironic scraping.
Now, in its immortality, it plays
On the clear viol of her memory,
And makes a constant sacrament of praise.
When I think I've seen it all, she opens her damn mouth again, and proves me wrong.
Hilarious, outrageous, and as strangely entertaining as it is—face it, performance art just doesn't get this good—it is pretty chilling, too. I have no doubt at all that those in the audience who nod their heads affirmatively when she says, "I'm You," would have no problem seeing me and my kind sent away to holiday at a concentration camp.
Fuck it, it's funny—Live now, pay later, Diners Club!
This is a weird-beyond-belief tribute to Ernest Thesiger, eerily using the music from the very scary Doris Day's psychotic paean to obsession, Secret Love. Dig it.
O'Donnell, who claimed to have attended 3 graduate schools that she did not, in fact, attend, and who has shared with a national audience the details of a spiritual journey which has taken her from withcraft to Hare Krishna to Italian Meatballs (and, ultimately, to the Prosperity Gospel of Sarah Palin), did not reveal the source of her "classified information", although it is certainly possible that God whispered it in her ear, because he apparently does that all the time.
It was also reported not long ago, at the conservative Little Green Footballs site, that as a Bill O'Reilly's guest a few years ago talking about the cloning of monkey embryos, ODonnell maintained that the experiments had undeniably human connotations. "If we approach this complicated bioethic issue with our heads in the sand, the other end is in the air," she explained, with characterictic perspicacity, adding that "American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains." The fact that no one else has reported this breakthrough is not troubling to everyone; LGF's Charles Johnson has concluded that O'Donnell herself is probably substantiation of the experiments, reasoning that she is probably "an early, failed experiment that ended up as a human with a fully functioning mouse brain." While there is no definitive proof to this effect, the anecdotal evidence is obviously piling up. Fast.
Frank Rich had an interesting take on O'Donnell's candidacy in the NY Times the other day. In a column titled The Very Useful Idiocy of Christine O’Donnell, he argued, pretty persuasively, that she is performing a valuable role for the Republican effort this fall. Because she is such an obviously flawed, unqualified candidate, she has been a lightning rod that has deflected examination away from any number of creepy-crawly types and other billionaires inhabiting their roster of nominees. In the end, she'll parlay her defeat into a martyrdom worth a few million bucks and a plum job at Fox News—and we'll wind up with miscreants and/or slimeballs like Rand Paul, Meg Whitman, Sharon Angle, Carly Fiorina, Carl Paladino, Joe Miller, etc., roaming the halls of Congress, all gleefully ready to finish the work of drowning Government in the bathtub.
So, yeah, riot that Christine O'Donnell obviously is, maybe the joke's really on us.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
You Can't Go Home Again is officially Wolfe's final novel. The last few pages—Credo, and his afterward—is very fine, indeed, and contains prose that most writers can only aspire to. It is also as relevent today as it was when it was written, 73 years ago:
I believe that we are lost here in America, but I believe we shall be found. And this belief, which mounts now to the catharsis of knowledge and conviction, is for me—and I think for all of us—not only our own hope, but America's everlasting, living dream. I think the life which we have fashioned in America, and which has fashioned us—the forms we made, the cells that grew, the honeycomb that was created—was self-destructive in its nature, and must be destroyed. I think these forms are dying, and must die, just as I know that America and the people in it are deathless, undiscovered, and immortal, and must live.
I think the true discovery of America is before us. I think the true fulfilment of our spirit, of our people, of our mighty and immortal land, is yet to come. I think the true discovery of our own democracy is still before us. And I think that all these things are certain as the morning, as inevitable as noon. I think I speak for most men living when I say that our America is Here, is Now, and beckons on before us, and that this glorious assurance is not only our living hope, but our dream to be accomplished.
I think the enemy is here before us, too. But I think we know the forms and faces of the enemy, and in the knowledge that we know him, and shall meet him, and eventually must conquer him is also our living hope. I think the enemy is here before us with a thousand faces, but I think weknow that all his faces wear one mask. I think the enemy is single selfishness and compulsive greed. I think the enemy is blind, but has the brutal power of his blind grab. I do not think the enemy was born yesterday, or that he grew to manhood forty years ago, or that he suffered sickness and collapse in 1929, or that we began without the enemy, and that our vision faltered, that we lost the way, and suddenly were in his camp. I think the enemy is old as Time, and evil as Hell, and that he has been here with us from the beginning. I think he stole our earth from us, destroyed our wealth, and ravaged and despoiled our land. I think he took our people and enslaved them, that he polluted the fountains of our life, took unto himself the rarest treasures of our own possession, took our bread and left us with a crust, and, not content, for the nature of the enemy is insatiate—tried finally to take from us the crust.
I think the enemy comes to us with the face of innocence and says to us:
"I am your friend."
I think the enemy deceives us with false words and lying phrases, saying:
"See, I am one of you—I am one of your children, your son, your brother,and your friend. Behold how sleek and fat I have become—and all becauseI am just one of you, and your friend. Behold how rich and powerful Iam—and all because I am one of you--shaped in your way of life, of thinking, of accomplishment. What I am, I am because I am one of you, your humble brother and your friend. Behold," cries Enemy, "the man I am, the man I have become, the thing I have accomplished—and reflect. Willyou destroy this thing? I assure you that it is the most precious thing you have. It is yourselves, the projection of each of you, the triumph of your individual lives, the thing that is rooted in your blood, and native to your stock, and inherent in the traditions of America. It is the thing that all of you may hope to be," says Enemy, "for"—humbly—"am I not just one of you? Am I not just your brother and your son? Am I not the living image of what each of you may hope to be, would wish to be, would desire for his own son? Would you destroy this glorious incarnation of your own heroic self? If you do, then," says Enemy, "you destroy yourselves—you kill the thing that is most gloriously American, and in so killing, kill yourselves."
He lies! And now we know he lies! He is not gloriously, or in any other way, ourselves. He is not our friend, our son, our brother. And he is not American! For, although he has a thousand familiar and convenient faces, his own true face is old as Hell.
Look about you and see what he has done.
Dear Fox, old friend, thus we have come to the end of the road that we were to go together. My tale is finished—and so farewell.
But before I go, I have just one more thing to tell you:
Something has spoken to me in the night, burning the tapers of the waning year; something has spoken in the night, and told me I shall die, I know not where. Saying:
"To lose the earth you know, for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth—
"—Whereon the pillars of this earth are founded, towards which the conscience of the world is tending—a wind is rising, and the riversflow."
I don't believe prose gets better than this. And if I had to choose a text written by someone other than myself that best reflects what I believe, this may be it.
Read him. He has a thing to say, and you'll be better for hearing it.
Tonight is among the highlights of the year for Pumpkin Boy and I.
We begin the Universal Horror cycle, first with Frankenstein, then Dracula, and currently our favorite of all, The Wolfman. Earlier we saw The Abominable Dr. Phibes, and Dr. Phibes Rises Again. After, The Mummy (the 1932 version starring Boris Karloff, of course. Pumpkin Boy and I are all about authenticity—preferably in beautiful black & white).
And these pictures define our Halloween film-going experience.
Enjoy this clip from 1941's immortal The Wolfman: