March 2015

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2015.

Life is life. Or it’s death. Or it’s gas. Or worse.

Hi. I'm Ringo.

Hi. I’m Ringo.

A challenge from my wife. I’m not allowed to mention the band that made the Beatles look silly. Done.

Hi. I'm Ringo.

Hi. I’m Ringo.

Here’s the point. (I hate it when people don’t get to the point. You?) Ringo Starr is a superstar drummer who doesn’t drum. He’s just Ringo. John and George are dead. Sir Lord and Master Paul is on top of a boring world of oldheads. But Ringo is still picking up teenagers, I’m thinking. Without drumming a lick. How cool is that?

Other drummers have to drum.

Gene Krupa.

Buddy Rich.

Art Blakey.

Even the Def Leppard guy with one arm.

And the man who has no name from the band that can’t be named. For this,one, he dragged his whole drum kit into a highrise stairway.

Throughout, there’s always a guy named Ringo. Who doesn’t drum. They work. He coasts. Gotta love it, right?

Hi. I'm Ringo. I don't drum.

Hi. I’m Ringo. I don’t drum.

P.S. Everywhere else, drummers drum.

Hi. I'm Ringo.

Hi. I’m Ringo.

I’m from Liverpool. I’m a Beatle. I don’t drum. I just sit here. And bask.

P.P.S. the best beat ever.

Under the hood a blueprinted Hemi.

Under the hood a blueprinted Hemi.

That quickly, I’ve been informed I have to do a followup. Good Grief.

Music to my ears.

So tired of cliches. Chevrolets ’55, ’56, and ’57 were all boring, boxy crashing bores of cars. The only time I side with liberals. People who obsess about these mediocrities really do stress me out and cause me to wonder about the intelligence of the obsessives.

Equally fatigued with Jim Rockford’s Trans Am. And Magnum’s Ferrari. Love both cars, but they’re hardly anti-hero bait. The first is more gas than an anti-hero can afford, and the second is just ridiculous.

We have to ask ourselves, What does an anti-hero really need? You know he lives in a bad part of town. Probably in a walkup or a trailer. His car can’t be some easy steal, or a wanna steal, or anything but a whybother.

There’s only one answer, despite all your fond hopes. The Brits had a naval classification in WWII called a Q-Ship. It looked like a merchant vessel, sluggish, old, and vulnerable. But it had lethal guns.

There were Q-ships in American cars of the past. Whoops. May need another post…

1966 Mustang convertible. Most boring classic EVER.

1966 Mustang convertible. Most boring classic EVER.

Don’t even know where to start. My parents traded an infinitely cooler car for the first Mustang in 1965, which was a Ford Falcon with racier sheet metal and a 289 V-8. I hated it. I was 12. Old enough to know that it felt, looked, and was cheap.

Then the years rolled by, as they do, and gradually the Mustang became the indispensable accessory of every TV hero who was supposed to be seen as some kind of rebel against authority. Men and women both. If they were eccentric or down on their luck or on the side of the people against The Man, they invariably owned a clapped out 1966 Mustang convertible, always always red. The scriptwriter’s easiest exposition of character.

I can tell you my wife is sick to death of hearing me rail against this nonsensical trick. In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit I bought a five liter Mustang once, trying to replace a Chrysler 300 I’d given up for financial reasons years before. It was a joke. Where the Chrysler lived to spread its wings and run, the Mustang had to have spurs dug deep into its flanks. Oh really? You want to go fast? Oh well. I’ll try (grunting and protesting the whole way). And handling? Forget it. When the merest mist hit the pavement, the Mustang became the tail-happiest critter on earth. Simultaneous understeer and oversteer. What a treat. I got rid of it in less than two years.

I have nothing against anti-heroes. I just don’t think they should be cliches. There’s no way to stop the stream of seedy private eye shows on TV. Not even trying to do that. I’m just suggesting that some of them should drive something besides a junky 1966 Mustang convertible, red.

You’re all probably too upset about Iran and POTUS treason to think about this. Which is why I’ll end this here. But if you are interested, I’ll do a followup with nominations for replacement anti-hero cars.

Let me know if you have ideas of your own.

Facebook seems to be unhappy with me. When I post something against the presidential orthodoxy, it doesn’t show up on my newsfeed. Just how closely are we being monitored and controlled?

There’s still another path. You can always go directly to my current blog, which is called Instapunk Rules. Lots of fun stuff there.


Class will tell.

Sarah Silverman. Class will tell.

Did you know that March is Womyn’s History Month? Needless to say, they’ve been celebrating. Some highlights of the wit and wisdom they’ve shown since the same time last month.

Sarah Silverman volunteered to educate us men about how to resist our irresistible compulsion to rape every woman in sight. Pretty white of her I must say.

Especially given that Lena Dunham penned an outstandingly witty New Yorker article designed to instruct her sistren how to tell men from dogs. She lightened the blow by pretending she was only talking about Jewish men. Dogs have yet to organize their own victimization movement and identify their own triggers and micro aggressions. I’m nervous about what pit bulls and Rottweilers might have to say when they do.

Speaking of mad dogs, Hillary struck yet another blow for womyn’s absolute equality in the competitive field of politics by issuing a list of words, principally adjectives, that will not be tolerated during the upcoming campaign in which she can be expected to destroy all her opponents, male and female equally, after the fashion of her dynastic, one generation lineage of utter criminality. Just don’t say anything sexist. That would really piss her off.

Thing is, looking at womyn and noticing that they’re female remains one of the very worst things men can do, curse them. Why one of the leading womyn designers has announced a line of underwear for the superior sex that is intended to be decidedly unsexy. Or so she claims. You be the judge. Color us impressed but baffled.

I'm totally unsexed. How about you?

I’m totally unsexed. How about you?

Bold and groundbreaking as this offensive is, it’s not enough in the U.K. There, the lesbians are getting mad at straight womyn for appropriating their shapeless baggy clothes look. Apparently straight womyn have a duty to deflect hateful man stares away from the ones who find them even more offensive than radical feminists. One can only hope they’ll work it through without the kind of knock-down drag-out cat fight men find so erotic.

Actually, nothing is enough to satisfy womyn in the U.K. Here’s the lede from a recent article in the Washington Times.

A U.K. student feminism conference is asking attendees to refrain from clapping and use “jazz hands” instead so as to not trigger anxiety in others.

The National Union of Students (NUS) Women’s Campaign announced the clapping “ban” at the West Midlands conference on Twitter Tuesday, shortly after receiving a request from the Oxford University Women’s Campaign.

“Please can we ask people to stop clapping but do feminist jazz hands? it’s triggering some peoples’ anxiety. thank you!” Oxford representatives wrote.

In case you’re not completely conversant with what “jazz hands” are, here’s a brief tutorial.

I was thinking about waiting for the end of the month. But then, I got to thinking, you might mistake this post for an April Fool’s joke.

P.S. I should have known they’d save the best for last. Something about cats, which as you all know, I know nothing of.

Corpse Diplomacy.

Corpse Diplomacy.

Our chief negotiator, the senior administration official in a state of rigor too mortis to play Sunday golf, has closed the deal with the caliphate, leading purveyors of death on earth.

The news agency Agence France-Presse reports from Lausanne, Switzerland that Iran and the P5+1 powers (the five UN Security Council permanent members, plus Germany) have reached “provisional agreement” on the terms of nuclear deal.

Though the terms were not released as the news broke at roughly 9:15 a.m. EDT, the framework is thought to be generous to Iran, as the U.S. and other western nations had caved on key positions in the days leading up to a March 31 deadline.

Breitbart News had predicted that a deal would be reached Sunday, as the travel schedules of senior world leaders in Switzerland for the negotiations made it virtually impossible for all of them to be present after Sunday’s deliberations.

Something about the Brains Buffet in Nantucket scheduled for tomorrow. A can’t miss event.

All is well in Zombieland.

He starts in the litter box...

He starts in the litter box…

So. We have this tomcat who is the terror of the neighborhood. He stays out all night, comes home with the occasional limp and paws that need to be rewrapped after his bruising prizefights.

Can he be bothered to hunt down the mouse who has made our lives so annoying the last two days?

No. The mouse walks right in front of us. Begins at the litter box. Sashays across the rug. Gets in between the components of the stereo and stretches out for a nap. Goes underneath the door into the bathroom and acts like we’ve alarmed him when we go for a pill or a pee.

Boldly, we sentenced Elliott to spend the night in the media room, door closed, to finish off this menace. Five minutes ago, I saw Mr. Mouse in the bathroom again. Grrrr.

He's fast enough, predatory enough, and brutal enough. He's just not interested.

He’s fast enough, predatory enough, and brutal enough. He’s just not interested.

Time to go nuclear.

Muffs just for drafted. She doesn't care either.

Muffs just got drafted. She doesn’t care either.

And then the super-nuclear ultimate option: Scottish Deerhound.

He sees the mouse, he wants the mouse,  Waste of time. He doesn't have the energy for mouse play.

He sees the mouse, he wants the mouse. Waste of time. No energy for mouse play.

Guess we’re going to have to buy a trap.

At the end of Shuteye Town 1999, the Shuteye Train finally makes an onstage appearance. The first and best of the punk writer bands. No security indeed.

I’m thinking it’s time for the punk writers to return. That’s the state the world is in, glutted with rotten brained baby boomers who care about nothing but their lavish retirements and solipsistic rationalizations. Here’s where the resistance first began. In the Punk Testament.

Their first story is that beginning. Here it is.

They wrote with guns.

They wrote with guns.

Hear we come, the Shuteye Train, ranting and writing and all for you.
2 Shammadamma.

We knew a guy.
2 He was like you, a regular type guy, and we knew him since like the time he first got his head together and started doing his own thing.
3 Back then he was in college in the days when coke was like this sugary ripoff made by this giant corporate fascist oppressor.
4 He thought his father was a pig. So was his mother. In fact she threw this like fit when Steve stayed over Christmas vacation in his own room with his girlfriend Marjorie.
5 His name was Steve.
6 He started college as a political science major but in sophomore year he switched to black studies, he was into civil rites and the Revolution and had these ideals and everything.
7 Shammadamma. We’re the Shuteye Train, coming at you.

Steve learned a lot in black studies.
2 Like he learned history was all lies and the US was like this really corrupt evil totalitarian state with these policies of genocide in Southeast Asia and the inner cities.
3 Steve really freaked when he like found out what was going down, so his roommate got he and Marjorie into the party and they all worked night and day for the Revolution.
4 Shammadamma.

One night Steve dropped some acid and Marjorie and him were talking about the Revolution until Steve got off and Marjorie was saying like how everything had to be destroyed, the government and everything, before social justice could, you know, happen.
2 And Steve started having these really heavy thoughts about what all Marjorie was saying just as he started to get off.
3 There was this Doors album on and he started getting like really tuned in to the heaviness of the Revolution and the heaviness of the music all at the same time and pretty soon it was like he could really see the music coming right out of the speakers and the music like was the Revolution just starting to happen and it was beautiful.
4 When he concentrated Steve could stretch his arms right across the room and feel the music wrap around his fingers and crawl all over his body, like the Revolution was pulling him in and making him a part of it and all.
5 It was like really blowing his mind and then it pulled him right out of the room and down into the street and into this latenight store where it like told him to get some cans of spraypaint.
6 Marjorie went with him and she couldn’t hear the music but she was getting this like contact high and she could see the way the Doors were, you know, swirling all around Steve, making him knock things off the shelf, so she got into it herself and pushed over this giant cardboard TV announcer who was advertising some kind of detergent on the shelf next to him.
7 The store manager was this real pig and he calls the cops, so the Doors music like pulled them out of the store and told Steve to spraypaint like all the college walls that didn’t have ivy on them.
8 They spraypainted all the slogans they could think of and all the ones the Doors told Steve to paint and later Steve’s old man wouldn’t go bail and he had to write his term paper on ‘Modern Slavery’ in jail, which was really far out and got an A-minus.
9 Shammadamma, we’re the Shuteye Train, punk writer band from the land of Kain.

So Steve and Marjorie went to Woodstock nation and it was really beautiful, you know?
2 They borrowed this old van and drove to Woodstock and got stuck in a field but it didn’t matter, people gave them dope and they drank wine and got off on the music, it was like really incredible because there was this love all around and Steve made it with this chick from Skidmore and Marjorie thought the whole thing was beautiful and she took off all her clothes and went wading and didn’t get embarrassed at all like she usually was about how she was a little overweight, and she even made it later with this enormous ugly fat guy.
3 But he had a beautiful soul and was into Country Joe and the Fish like you wouldn’t believe.
4 Steve didn’t even mind, he had dropped some really wild mescaline and it was like he was this fat guy and he could even feel the tattoo of an eagle this guy had on his arm which flapped its wings to the music of Country Joe.
5 It rained but they didn’t care and later they couldn’t get the van unstuck but they didn’t care about that either, so they hitched a ride back to Boston, only they wound up not going to Boston right off but staying for a while with these really beautiful people who had this farm in New Hampshire.
6 Even the ducks got stoned. Shammadamma.

But then there was like Altamont and Kent State and Steve got into graduate school with his deferment and Marjorie got knocked up.
2 Steve’s old man had already cut him off except for tuition, so Marjorie had to split for Philadelphia and have the kid at her sister’s house.
3 She named it Peaceflower.
4 And then Steve and her like started to grow apart because Marjorie was kind of, you know, standing still, and couldn’t see how the Revolution had bummed out, and how if you wanted to reform the system you had to do it from like inside, with your caring and ideals and everything.
5 There was this really bad scene the time Marjorie came up from Philadelphia to visit, and like her sister was getting ready to throw her out in the street if she didn’t get a job, and Steve couldn’t make her see like how his father had finally decided to pay Steve’s way through law school, which Steve had just gotten into, only he wouldn’t if Steve turned up with this kid, which how could he be sure was, you know, really his?
6 They were in this nice restaurant in Boston with white tablecloths and all, and the waiter had like sneered when Marjorie ordered strawberry wine, and she wouldn’t eat the ratatouille because she got so uptight.
7 She really freaked when Steve let slip about the kid and, you know, whose it was and all, and she started to cry and said how she really loved Steve in the deepest possible way and there was only ever that fat guy at Woodstock, which was different and wasn’t her idea anyway.
8 But how could Steve be, you know, sure, and anyway there was law school and he was only going so he could reform the system from within like they’d talked about, and couldn’t she see how it was, but Marjorie only cried into her ratatouille and left the next day.
9 Shammadamma, the Shuteye Train, burning through the boomer brain.

Steve’s mom and dad came to his law school graduation.
2 He introduced them to Sara. She was president of the Women’s Law Alliance and Steve’s current female companion.
3 They all went out to dinner and Sara and Steve’s folks didn’t hit it off very well.
4 Sara asked Steve’s dad how many women had been in his class at medical school and got into a huff when Steve’s dad said not many, they’d had to chase nurses instead.
5 Then Sara asked Steve’s mom how she could stand not having been allowed to accomplish anything with her life.
6 Shammadamma.
7 Steve’s mom said you can talk to me that way when you’ve raised three sons and made a good home for your family like I have.
8 Sara sniffed and ate a cracker, and later when he was alone with his parents Steve explained how hard it was for women who wanted careers in a chauvinist society and how you had to understand if they seemed a little aggressive sometimes.
9 They forgave Sara and him the next day when he stood there in his robes and got his law degree, and told him how proud they were that he had made the law review and gotten such a good job in Philadelphia.
10 Shammadamma, the Shuteye Train, making tracks and planning pain.

Steve worked real hard for the firm, long days and nights of endless pressure and toil.
2 He wondered for a long time how he stood it and what good was an expensive car and an apartment in Society Hill if you never got to enjoy them, but after he broke up with Sara, who was, after all, far too militant and humorless to be a good companion for Steve, he found out that Philadelphia was an entertaining city.
3 He read up on astrology and took up racketball and learned to disco, and the women of Philadelphia loved him.
4 But he played around only in moderation and kept his nose pretty firmly to the grindstone, and it was no surprise when he got invited to join an exclusive golf club that Elizabeth’s father was a big wheel in.
5 On the sixteenth green one Sunday not long after that, he met some of the senior partners of the firm and a few months later he was promoted to associate partner, which made him laugh a little to himself because he felt like some kind of impostor, because he was really like the same guy he had always been, only maybe more laid back and not quite so idealistic, and wouldn’t it be funny if like everyone else was really an impostor too, like walking around disguised in three-piece suits and expensive golf clubs?
6 Shammadamma.

One day soon after Steve had finished his first big case, Elizabeth said maybe it was time they got married, shammadamma, and Steve had this big decision to make.
2 He thought and thought, and thought finally that maybe a father-in-law and a wife might be the thing to do, the next step to take.
3 So they set a date in June and Elizabeth moved out of the apartment for awhile to keep the older friends and relatives from getting upset, and Steve played golf with Elizabeth’s father, and Elizabeth and her mother shopped like mad, and engraved invitations went out in the mail and brought back hundreds of wedding presents and then hundreds of wedding guests, who filled the ivy-covered church so that Elizabeth and Steve could get properly married and live happily ever after.

So they stood at the altar and the priest got ready to say the words and behind them in the church all their friends were smiling and looking forward to the reception, and Steve thought how everything was going to work out just right, and life was really okay, you know?
2 And the organist finished the processional and then the doors of the church swung open with a tremendous crash.
3 Naturally Steve turned around to look, because who on earth could be coming in so late?

Shammadamma, the Shuteye Train.
2 We write with guns.

And some of the women screamed, and Steve couldn’t believe what was happening, like who were these people and what did they want?
2 Shammadamma, pullatrigga. Shammadamma, shootabooma.

And Steve tried to, you know, get away when he saw what was coming down, tried to run for his life, but it was way too late and where was there for him to go anyway?

We knew a guy, a regular type guy, but he died on his wedding day.
2 Dammashamma.

They knew what was coming, way back in 1980. Selfish bastards who would destroy everything they touched, including the nation. How were they received in their final concert performance? Kind of like this.

Jumping, jumping, jumping. What you have to do when you’re living and dying on the edge of a poisoned razor. Shammadamma.

The Power Behind the Throne

The Power Behind the Throne

If you’ve been wondering why Obama is actively selling out Israel while appeasing Iran, meditate on this:

“I am Iranian by birth and of my Islamic Faith. I am also an American citizen and seek to help change America to be a more Islamic country. My faith guides me and I feel like it is going well in the transition of using freedom of religion in America against itself”

– Valerie Jarrett Stanford University 1977.

Clockmaker's house, c.1735 A.D.

Clockmaker’s house, c.1735 A.D.

Yeah. I was in Greenwich, New Jersey, where they had their own Tea Party about the same time Boston had theirs. They dumped it in the harbor. We burned it. There’s a monument to the burning.

The house I was in belonged to a clockmaker named Benjamin Reeve. Why the first floor was so much taller than the second.

A tall but a small house.

A tall but a small house.

Then, that morning, the TV was on with nobody watching and the phone rang. My stepdaughter cried out. It was her granddad who had called and her mother who pointed. One of the towers was on fire. As we watched, another plane hit. And the world changed forever in a moment.

My Boudica had a different experience, related here.

The same pup who challenged me to remember after I challenged him to remember saw no relevance in the fact that I remembered the Kennedy assassination, even though 9/11 happened to him at the same age the assassination happened to all of us. So I thought I would demonstrate the specifics of my memory. I was at school here.

My white privilege school.

My white privilege school.

It was 2:25 in the afternoon. Usually, we took the bus home. This day, though, my mother was waiting for us in our white privilege car.

We'd careened through Paris and the French Riciera in its car. We must have been something.

We’d careened through Paris and the French Riviera in this car. We must have been something.

“The president has been shot,” she said. She looked white. We went white. Probably our most white privilege moment ever. My sister got sick in the grass.

He was dead. And then everything changed forever.

Yes, she’s my favorite female athlete. Why? She’s determined not to lose. Because of this.

We didn't even get to the armbar yet.

We didn’t even get to the armbar yet.

Not because of this.

This one disappoints me a bit. Not a lot, but a little.

This one disappoints me a bit. Not a lot, but a little.

She’s 11-0 in the UFC now. Three videos you need to see. The first is as short as her last brutal fight.

14 seconds to victory.

Down immediately and out. Armbar.

The next two are a documentary about how her even tougher mother taught her how to fight.

Every woman and most guys are going to love this.

P.S. I’d have shown you the videos but Don King said no. Not really. My wife went to bed and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to use her new computer. Maybe you can see videos tomorrow. They really are sensational. Rhonda is hot stuff as a fighter. [CORRECTED: My wife woke up and did the embeds.]

I guess it’s time for me to admit something. I’ve outgrown Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. No matter how much I love Cate Blanchette. I love something else. The possible connections between philosophers and music. Because music is the secret of philosophy. More meaning in what Denyce Graves sings than most of what I read or reason. So I’ve made a few tentative stabs at correlating philosophers with music. First up, Nietzche, who wrote his own. Not necessarily good but tactically consistent. Repetition is everything. He thought everything repeated repeatedly, exactly. Sometimes I agree. But I’m not as smart as he was. Nobody is.

I know nobody wants to hear this, but philosophy and music are the same thing. Not crappy lyrics but the music of the spheres. Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart were the greatest of philosophers. They just weren’t speaking in words. Still. There were philosophers who did relentlessly speak in words. What did they sound like? Kant, for example. The really really smart, rational one. Like this.

Music as logic, difficult, complicated, brilliant, unsatisfying, unfulfilling.

One could go back to Plato, who saw shadows in a cave. He had a vision. And a huge question about the shadows he saw. Somebody realized it.

Even the Romans had a philosopher. Marcus Aurelius. He was what is called a stoic. Whatever happens, you accept. I think that’s how it works.

Sure, it hurts. But when it’s time to die, you just die.

Obviously, we’re skipping around. The opposite of Plato was Rousseau, who inspired the Marquis de Sade, unless it was the other way around.

Much (if not much) earlier we get the much smarter than Rousseau Voltaire. Who was more like me.

Which brings us pretty much up to date in philosophy, unless you count the Babe Ruth of philosophy. Christ. Sorry. Didn’t mean to swear.

Well. Sure I do. The Babe is the Babe. Isn’t he?


Read the rest of this entry »

We like to call this "les Chiens Chauds avec Poupon."

We like to call this “les Chiens Chauds avec Poupon.”

We’ve been getting an inferiority complex. Other FaceBookers are taking pictures of their dinner. Arugula and hummus with anchovies. Brussels Sprouts on a plate as if they were food. Raw fish with a becoming pyramid arrangement of vitamins. The peculiar food resembling crap Vegans eat.

Well, guess what. We eat too! Here’s tonight “cuisine au bas,” Elsinboro style. And it’s not always avec Poupon either. Sometimes it’s avec les Frenches. How sophisticated can you get?

It's called thinking out of the box. Something POTUS can't do.

It’s called thinking out of the box. Something POTUS can’t do.

You’ll have to click on the graphic to see its full magnificence. Do you need any explanation?

Oh, okay. Explanation for the proles. The NCAA tourney is a state of the art exemplar of our New American Way, which is called Crony Capitalism, College Program (CCCP). The submerged tenth battle each other tooth and nail for the right to be in the final. We root for underdogs and surprisingly (Ratings +++) underdogs win. Then we get down to the final, where we actually want to see the best against the best (Ratings ++++),

And there’s the Winner. The inveterate, always and forever Winner.

Any questions?



While we’re on the subject, it’s also odd what gets you started remembering. My wife, at this moment, is in a laundromat because our washer died and what with weather and physical ills, we haven’t bought a replacement. So she’s being (naturally) crabby with me as she watches clothes swirling around inside the washer window. I should be there with her, shame on me, but I got up too late and she was already raring to go.

So, after her departure, I made a lame attempt at empathy, trying to remember a laundromat past. I been there, don’t you worry. Trying not to look at women inspecting their undies after not enough time in the dryer. Don’t be calling me some elitist.

Except that my memory played one of its usual tricks on me. Here I am, visualizing a washing machine, and suddenly I remember another day when I was ten and on board a trans-Atlantic ocean liner that somehow stumbled into the middle of an honest-to-God hurricane. Which you could see through the cabin porthole. Washing machine on steroids.

Hurricane Beulah. 1963. You could look it up.

Hurricane Beulah. 1963. You could look it up.

We were on the Leonardo da Vinci, pride of the Italian fleet. Whose captain thought he would just ‘nudge’ Beulah and let it go past. Bad bad captaining.

What would Grace Kelly say? "She was yar."

What would Grace Kelly say? “She was yar.”

Nearly died that day. But that’s not the story today. I’ve been aboard three different ocean liners. Strong emotional bonds because I might have died in one of them. You have no idea what it’s like to sit on the floor and feel the ship lean into waves twice her height and wait, wait, for this suddenly frail monster to return to even keel. Again and again and again. For hours.

Aboard three of the greatest civilian maritime creations of the twentieth century. And all of them are now dead, pathetic hulks.

The Leonardo is gone forever, gorgeous as she was.



I was a first class passenger on the first Queen Elizabeth Cunard liner. Had rice Crispies served with pure cream. Heaven. She’s a side-lying hulk in the east somewhere.

It hurts to look.

It hurts to look.

I was also a visitor on the SS United States, a farewell party for friends of my parents who were also sailing from Genoa. She was the fastest ocean liner ever. Now she’s a shameful, rotting wreck in the harbor of Philadelphia. I wrote about her. Because she makes me feel ancient.

The sorrow of mortality.

The sorrow of mortality.

These titanic (yes) creations are more vulnerable than a human being. But human beings have the capacity to remember and grieve. Which I’m doing now. Through the porthole of a washing machine at a laundromat in Pennsville NJ. Isn’t life the best of all comedies?

Sometimes memory is completely accurate.

Sometimes memory is completely accurate.

The Internet is amazing. Sometimes you think your childhood past is actually an invented thing. I was trying to explain to my wife — recent convert to Formula 1 racing — about the Vineland Speedway in south Jersey. Tried to frame what it was like to drive in the entrance, which had a, to me, spectacular marquee featuring a dead Kaiser Frazier atop a simple sign. Then, lo and behold, I found the photo above. Exactly as I remembered it.

I’d been teasing her about F1 drivers past, quizzing her about which ones were still alive and which had perished in the world’s most dangerous sport. I mean, if you’re going to plight a troth of this sort, you should know the bodies on which it is built. Because there are a lot of bodies.

The memory of one of the dead drivers propelled me back to the Vineland Speedway, where I experienced many wondrous things as a child in the early 1960s. Events aplenty. Sights, certainly. But also the keenest triggers memory has — smells. Two stand out. In the bleacher seats at the Speedway, the comforting, enfolding aroma of cherry pipe tobacco, which neither of the pipe smokers in my family could stomach. But to my ten year old nose it was beatific.

But cherry tobacco can’t hold a candle to the other smell, which in my mind is still the single best smell I have ever smelled, including you know what. It was that good, that arousing, that magnificent. It’s called Castrol R. A racing motor oil made of castor beans.

No other intoxicant compares.

No other intoxicant compares.

On the Sundays when there was sports car racing at Vineland Speedway, the air was pregnant with Castrol R heated to a racing temperature. I won’t describe it because no one can. Just think of it as heroin for the nose. Why it’s the sensory trigger it is. A friend of mine and I bought a Norton motorcycle together and put the miraculous lubricant into its crankcase just so we could have the olfactory experience again. It’s not good mechanical practice. If you’re not using the motor more or less continuously, it turns into a whitish gel that gums up the works. But we were young and couldn’t resist.

Where was I? Just past the entrance, off a nondescript and cluttered highway called Route 47, was the parking lot. Orange gravel, no painted lines, just cars of people there for the races. But such cars. License plates from all over the eastern seaboard. How could they even know to come here, to a backwoods track in Vineland, NJ? But here they were. Austin Healeys, MGAs, Morgans, Lotus 7s, even Bentleys and Rolls Royces. And this, which was for me an imprinting experience, the first time I laid eyes on the brand new, heretofore only rumored, masterpiece called the XKE.

Exactly the same as the car I fell fatally in love with. Except there was no grass. Just orange gravel.

Exactly the same as the car I fell fatally in love with. Except there was no grass. Just orange gravel.

You thought I was going to talk racing? I will. The track was narrow and short, although there was a stretch out of sight of the stands. Suspense. Who would be in the lead when they emerged from the hidden part. When I was young I didn’t know the track was short. In my teenage years, though, my friend of the Castrol R fixation and I found the shut down circuit (now part of a community college campus) and ran it in his XKE. Unbelievably narrow, unbelievably tight, with an unbelievably nasty chicane. About there, we hit a dirt bike rider who had the same idea we did. He was unhurt. We shook hands and went our separate ways.

The only real straightaway was immediately in front of the stands. That’s where I saw the first SCCA showdown between a 289 Cobra and a Corvette. Both cars were way too much for such a tinsel track. The Corvette actually had better handling (who’d a thunk it?) and led on the first lap into the straightaway. Then the Cobra thing happened. The driver pressed the accelerator and devoured the Corvette within the first two hundred yards. Never looked back. Never had to.

I saw other things on the Speedway track. Before there was Danica there was Janet Guthrie. Before there was Janet Guthrie, there was Donna Mae Mims.

Yes she was. Donna Mae.

Yes she was. Donna Mae.

We saw her at the Vineland Speedway. And, yes, back in those dark and oppressive male chauvinist days, we cheered for her like the dickens. Not ironically at all. We wanted her to win. Which she did. The first female SCCA champion in history. The past is not always what you’ve been taught it is.

Imagine. Us flyover hicks from the Jersey backwoods rooting our hearts out for a woman in the most dangerous, most manliest life and death sport. Can't do it? Sorry for you.

Imagine. Us flyover hicks from the Jersey backwoods rooting our hearts out for a woman in the most dangerous, most manliest life and death sport. Can’t do it? Sorry for you.

Saw other things you wouldn’t expect in the backwoods either. There was the driver in an Elva Courier with the number ‘000.’ He was simply beyond compare.

Sometimes even hicks get to see genius at work. Guess what. We know it when we see it.

Sometimes even hicks get to see genius at work. Guess what. We know it when we see it.

The races were typically 25 laps. Triple-Zero typically lapped every other car in the race, meaning he began in the lead and then overtook every car behind him before the race was over. The driver was named Mark Donohue. How this post got started. I asked my wife how many drivers I had seen in person died on the track eventually. He’s the one.

Funny. In those long lost years I also had the good fortune to travel the course of the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, because my dad was almost as crazy about racing as I was, but that’s a faint and, well, unconvincing memory to me now, because there was no cherry pipe tobacco, no Castrol R, and no local sense of identity about it. It was just a stunt we pulled. The Vineland Speedway was life being lived the way I’ve always wanted to live it.

N.B. Explaining the asterisk above. SCCA stands for Sports Car Club of America. One of the future champions who raced at Vineland was this guy.

Can't think of his name offhand, but he was nearly as good, or at least in the approximate ballpark, with Steve McQueen.

Can’t think of his name offhand, but he was nearly as good, or at least in the approximate ballpark, with Steve McQueen.

P.S. Another question my wife flunked. Who’s the driver who invented the tradition of spraying everybody with Champagne after a big win?

Dan Gurney

Dan Gurney

Like all people who value education, she’s glad to learn about Dan. And she thinks he was better looking than both Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. He coulda shoulda been a movie star.

Harvard. Yale. Brilliant.

Harvard. Yale. Brilliant.

I love this guy.

Charles “Chuck” Lane (born 1961) is an American journalist and editor who is an editorial writer for The Washington Post and a regular guest on Fox News Channel. Lane was the lead editor of The New Republic from 1997 to 1999. After the New Republic, Lane worked for the Post, where, from 2000 to 2009, he covered the Supreme Court of the United States[1][2] and judicial system issues. He has since joined the newspaper’s editorial page.

They put him on the panel at Fox News Special Report, and I swear he is the perfect personification of the ‘objective’ mainstream media. He is so articulate, so plausible, and indistinguishable from a block of wood. There is nothing of reality that can ever penetrate his knowing face and dead eyes. Every time he appears I am amazed at his ability to perceive nothing of reality, hear nothing of the superior intellects around him, and still seem so satisfied with himself. Krauthammer makes a monkey of him and he just swivels his big face to a different camera angle, smiling all the while.

He’s my MSM hero. Harvard College, Yale Law School, and his perspicacity is exactly equal to that of Cat Deeley on Dancing with the Stars. He has absolutely no idea that he’s nothing but a smooth dunce, turning his majestic head toward the camera and intoning nonsense.

I’m in awe. The closest I can get to Arbus on TV. Don’t ask me who Arbus is. His defensive but knowing daughter will get mad at me.

The briefest, most tragic love of my life.

The briefest, most tragic love of my life.

Aaah. Young love. The movie was the Road Warrior. She had no lines. I fell for her as she battled atop the tanker for the life of human civilization. She was blonde, beautiful, and ferocious. And then they killed her.

When I should have known that we really were in peril. Actually, I guess I did. I’ve never gotten over her. And neither should you. Because she’s in our future.

Do you have a favorite extra?

« Older entries