We are watching. On C-Span. No talking heads to talk over, interfere with, diminish, or otherwise sully a sacred and solemn farewell to a great man.
The Catholic Basilica in DC.
C-Span, for example, is not reporting the CNN rumor that the Pope is streaking toward Washington in his Gulfstream jet, Vatican One, to excommunicate Antonin Scalia at the gravesite.
So far, only MSNBC confirms. We’ll keep you posted.
Otherwise it’s a day for Americans, Christians, and (unfortunately) disenfranchised Catholics. The opening hymn was magnificent. (with a grateful nod to Westminster Abbey reminding us some hymns are shared across denominations)
No, it’s not her birthday or any other anniversary I know of. This post is here because someone just reminded me of her and I thought we could all benefit from the memory of style and grace and beauty she represented.
Go ahead. Google her and photos of her and her designs. You’ll find it’s therapeutic as tantric meditation, whatever that is, dahling.
Good friend of Truman Capote. He’d have told her to die younger.
It was an okay if overpraised book. She was the Margaret Mitchell of the Civil Rights era. White southerners were abolitionists and like that.
Gregory Peck could shoot as well as Clint Eastwood, sometimes, if the target was a dog.
The tragedy, the shame of it all, was the publishing world’s determination to present her first draft of Mockingbird as if it were a sequel. It wasn’t a sequel. It was the way things were in her time, place, and place in life.
Closer to Gone with the Wind than anyone ever imagined.
Only shorter, balder, less handsome, and more potbellied. Otherwise a dead ringer. Except he never took his shirt off. He was Papa.
He was two things. 1) The dean and ‘in loco parentis’ of all the freshmen at my school. Never a hint of any funny business. He was stern but friendly. You could talk to him but he would never baby you. Swank Hall, the freshman dorm, was his responsibility. He didn’t try to be a colonel or even a major. He was just your parents who couldn’t be there. Kids hated him until later. We’ll get back to that.
2) A tough challenge to be one of the two most feared teachers on campus. In this case it was a draw. The tie was with Eric Harris, a deliberately intimidating Brit who savaged us all in Anglican fury during twice weekly sermons in chapel services and savaged his own students in both basic Chemistry and Chemistry AP. It’s reported, apocryphally, that he never spoke again to the one student he had who got only a 798 on the Chem Achievement SAT and wound up going to UVA. (Not true. Thing is, except for this one guy, all his AP Chem students got 800s, year after year after year.)
Oops. Not Eric Harris. The best teacher, Richard Miller. Another story, another post.
Here’s the one.
Eric Harris never smiled.
Which leaves us with the other contender. Papa. When my wife said he must have a coat and tie, I said no. But surely he did. It’s just that his tummy stuck out farther. All Latin classes were in the basement, perhaps a sign of declining influence but also of the fundament they represented.
I was a freshman designated Latin II because I had nominally studied Latin for six years prior, all of which was devoted to inane textbooks telling us how Sixtus had a pencil. Then I fell into the hell of Latin II, which was a four week review of the grammar of Latin I, none of which I had ever been taught. There was a 30 page green covered review book. Everyone else had one, well thumbed and marked on. Mine was brand new. All the declensions. All the conjugations. All the vocabularies prefatory to Caesar. A brain dump of staggering proportions.
I was terrified. But so was everyone else. They didn’t remember what I had already not learned. And every single day there was going to be a quiz.
How it went. He was always a minute or two later than us, jingling his school keys in his pocket. He unlocked the door. We went in and took our seats. Then he opened his lower wooden drawer, filled with 6″ X 8″ sheets of torn newsprints. We all knew. There was a quiz every day. We took the quiz. Then he collected them. Then he passed out the results of yesterday’s quiz and reassigned seating based on the results. Best scores sat at the back, worst at the front. Then the day’s lesson began.
And that was just a normal day. Our schedule rotated. Every subject met first period one day a week and worked its way up through the week. When a class met first period you could have an hour exam unannounced if the master so chose. Those were the worst moments of our lives. Waiting at the locked door for Papa to show up and give us an hour exam, unannounced in first period. Jingle jingle jingle the keys. Short fat bald potbellied man. And then the 1940 CEEB Latin exam, way harder than the SAT AP exam would ever be.
Thing was, he was trying to teach us Latin. Only way I got through his Latin II review of Latin I was sentence diagramming, which I learned in elementary school from gifted teachers. Pieced it together, don’t you know?
Got through my first marking period. And through Caesar. And learned in Caesar what everyone needs to learn. His method was requiring translation on the blackboard. Then he would move like the Wolverine with his yellow chalk claws through every translation demanding corrections. Midway, he demanded we do the same to each other, big wide chalk slashes through what we thought was wrong.
Then we got to Vergil. A bunch of old Szekeley hands, many of us illiterates previously, who could now be counted on to date every daily quiz with the correct Latin date and knew how to read every line out loud in dactylic hexameter.
Imagine kids whose highest intellectual attainment was being able to write, on demand, the first eleven lines of the Aeneid. Even the Lacrosse jocks could do it. Most feared teacher.
I think he’s dead now. Couldn’t take the hypocrisy.
This for all the dopes who think I’m in the bag for Trump. You’re dumber than dirt.
February 10, 2000
Catching up on the Action in the Presdential Race
I know I was supposed to be covering the Presdential campaign, but I got a late start. The end of the NFL season was pretty absorbing for a change, and suddenly it seemed like all the movies were being touted as “one of the year’s very best.” (It took me a few wasted tickets to figure out the year they were talking about was 2000.) Besides, all the polls were sayingyou hadn’t gotten too interested in the campaign either, and why should I wear myself out writing a bunch of great stuff about something you didn’t notice yet?
So now I’m on the case, and it looks like exciting things are underway. The last time I checked in, George W. and Al Bore were walking away with the major party nominations, and Pat Buchenwald was getting ready to throw the big enchilada to the Dems by running on the Reformed Party ticket.
Who would have thought everything would get so different so fast? Pat Buchenwald is embroiled in a tougher race than the one he walked out on—competing with the likes of Donald Trumph, Jesus Ventura, Warren Beady (sort of), and the ghostly spectre of Ross Pyro. George W. did the impossible by spending $50 million in New Hamshire to get his ass kicked by a white-haired Viet Nam POW. And Al Bore turned the solid gold advantage represented by the best economy in 3 billion years into a skin-of-the-teeth victory over a washed-up basketball player with a heart condition.
It almost makes me wish I’d been paying more attention. How about you? Maybe you’d settle for a brief explanation of how this all came about? Let’s hope so. Here goes.
Pat Buchenwald got into trouble because he figured the Reformed Party would swoon for a famous, college-educated (semi)politician who had been on TV more than Ross Pyro. Like most of the ‘inside the beltway’ intellectuals, he forgot that college-educated doesn’t impress Amerians very much any more, since everybody in the whole government went to Yail, and anyone with half an eye can see they’re not too damn smart.
And when you leave out the college-educated part, suddenly Pat Buchenwald isn’t the top gun anymore, because here comes Jesus “The Booby” Ventura, who’s been seen on television by probably fifty times as many people as Pat, and he’s been elected a governor to boot, even if it is in one of those nothing states that start with an “M.”
When everybody in the media rushed to interview Jesus about being Presdent, people kind of lost track of Pat, and when all those interviews made people start thinking that maybe it wouldn’t be too smart to elect a bald idiot as Presdent, that gave Donald Trumph the idea to run, because why else did he spend all those years combing his side hair over the big empty spot on top of his head? Investments like that have to be cashed in sometime, don’t they?
After the Reformed Party folks didn’t actually throw up at the thought of a whoremaster like Trumph as the nominee, Warren Beady got the idea that he might have a shot too. And does anybody think Ross Pyro paid all that money to set up his own political party just to see a bunch of squabbling egomaniacs rip it to pieces? That scratching sound you hear is Ross’s feet digging in for a last-minute sprint. With all this going on, who’s paying any attention to Pat? Maybe black and silver uniforms would help…
George W. got into trouble because after about six months of being polled every half hour, average Amerians finally realized that the Bush who was running this time was the son of the one they dimly remembered. Which was a completely different thing, of course. Completely. If John McKane had realized it six months earlier, he would have gotten into the race a lot sooner—probably six months sooner. As it was, he had a lot of catching up to do. After six months of voting for him in telephone polls, average Amerians were starting to feel like they knew George W. almost as well as they knew his dad.
In fact, it wasn’t until the mass media started telling people how much average Amerians admired John McKane for all his honesty about whatever it was he was being so honest about that they realized how much they had always admired McKane before George W. distracted them by pretending to be his own father.
All in all, there was lots of realizing going on, and most of it got completed in time to give George W. a good thumping in New Hamshire. None of the other Republians was ever in the race because the only thing they talked about was abortion, which is the one subject nobody anywhere wants to hear another word about. Thus, the first primary resulted in the two-man race we have today.
Al Bore got into trouble by being himself for many months of campaigning. Thankfully, an army of political consultants figured this out in time to convince him that the best strategy was to run as someone else, someone like, say, Bill Clitton. And so they managed to come up with a perfect patsy for Al Bore to run against, so that the Vice Presdent would have someone other than himself to lie about during the campaign.
Then it turned out that Bill Broadley was almost too perfect a patsy—he campaigned so lethargically and inertly that Al barely noticed him and kept on telling all his best lies about himself. As a result, New Hamshire was a closer vote than anyone wanted, especially Bill Broadley, who had been given to understand that he’d be able to go home after the first primary. When he realized that the Bore campaign had been lying about this too, he got really steamed and started hurling accusations about everything under the sun, which made everyone nervous.
First, Broadley charged that he had a debilitating heart condition, then he claimed that he was too much of an impotent intellectual to have the guts for Presdential campaigning, and then he asserted that if elected he would make the government pay everybody’s doctor bill forever, thus bankrupting the country.
In response, the Bore campaign counter-charged that Al Bore would pay everybody’s doctor bill too, and that it wouldn’t bankrupt the country because the Democratics would raise taxes on the Republians to pay for it, even if Broadley did get elected. Faced with such negative tactics, Broadley quit trying to weasel out of the race and consented to stay in a while longer. Having dodged a very big bullet, a much relieved Al Bore finally started to get the hang of Presdential campaigning and began telling only the lies his campaign managers ordered him to.
All caught up? Good. I promise I’ll be checking in more often from here on in. Okay?
Because I was him then, am now, and will always be. Destroyer.
Snaffle bits. What all the best dressed snobs are wearing. Keeps them, you know, in line with the conventional wisdom.
Yeah. Status symbols. A moving target. Went to Hong Kong once. Saw a store almost exactly like this one. Because it was a Gucci store on Hong Kong’s version of Fifth Avenue. Except the big gilt letters didn’t spell Gucci. They spelled STATUS.
Because some of us need great big hints about what we’re really buying.
Do you like luggage? I’m so old and wearily aristocratic that I still like scratched up gray Samsonite stuff. Obviously, I’m not in Louis Vuitton’s target demographic. Fact is, I’m almost as snotty as David Zincavage. But better. I went to Harvard, you know. Zincavage went to, ahem, Yale. Doubt if he has Samsonite crap in his closet.
Why do I want to torture my cheap Scottish soul with paranoia about some little brat keying my $5,000 overnight bag?
There are, also, cars. I’ve driven almost everything that can contain an internal combustion engine, a gearbox and — I was going to say wheels, but that’s not right either, given speedboats, airboats, and go on witcha — some means of locomotion.
Bugattis, Jags, yadda yadda, but never, not once, a Ferrari.
My wife is in love with Kimi Raikkonen when she isn’t sending mash notes to Lewis Hamilton.
See, I’m really that old. Aged snob. Born a snob, liberated from snobbery, and now in full circle mode back to a new kind of snobbery. Reverse snobbery. Do not want a Ferrari. No desire. Impotent attorneys and doctors trying to pick up stray trim with wheels they can’t drive. I could drive it. Just don’t want to.
Which brings me to my real point. Trump. He’s the new status symbol. How much can you hate him? Do you really hate him? Really really hate him? Or really really really really really hate him?
The Trump Hate is the 21st century version of Orwell’s Two Minute Hate.
Status. Only the nouveau riche care about it. I’m old school. Don’t give a damn about any of your pretensions. Look me up. I live. You are all dying. Sad as it makes me to say.
So my wife went up north yesterday for a day with our granddaughter Anna. She came home with two feral cats, presently hiding in the bathroom. Fans of my punk writing will understand why their names are already settled as Iris and Raven.
She’s hiding behind the shower curtain. So far, a sorry replacement for our Bogart stand-in Ajax. He of the twisted jaw and balls to the wall bravery. I love her to death already.
Amazing critter. Snow White and not an albino. Soulful eyes. Can’t get used to looking at her. Too beautiful to be real. Serious love for her too.
You probably saw the discrepancy between the post title Black and White and the song title Black or White. When I dug up the Michael Jackson video, my wife and I (typically) had the same reaction. So talented, so young to be destroyed by your own talent. Why I’m going to conclude with Michael Jackson’s bookend tragedy.
Let’s hope our own Black and White have happier lives. Which they should. They don’t know they’re black or white.
Nobody read it. Because I’ve been blacklisted for a long time. First, for not being afraid of feminists and calling them out with my Insect Brain Theory, second for being the only white male unafraid to use the term nigger when referring to thugs on the streets of my hometown. That aside, I’m the greatest writer of the twentieth century and the way things are looking, even my Facebook page is better than any other writer can do, diminished by age as it is.
My wife is presently racing against time. Trying to get my writings in print before I expire of a heart attack or stroke. We can trust her motives, because the world is not beating a path to my door. Nobody wants to hear what I have to say. I’m a male Cassandra. The worst possible thing to be. Five books in print.
All of them better than anyone writing alive, and I’m on the utter outside.
Which is fine. Both Poe and Mozart died in pauper’s graves. Happy to do the same. Not that I’m in their league. Unless I am.
My wife, bless her heart, just wants me to live. She knows I’m sitting on the biggest pile of great writing anyone ever had, and she knows that each publication takes me closer to the end. So. Dutifully, methodically, beautifully, faithfully, she prepares manuscript after manuscript for publication. One more small time book, more brilliant than the last, before a really big one nobody can ignore.
That will be Book 7. With 30 yet to go. Or more.
She just wants me to live. Can I? Working on it. Okay?
Pundits aren’t stupid. They’re just channeled. They start down an alley they think is a mountain climb. Prep school or elite high school, then glamorous college, graduate school, and then a game of snakes and ladders.
Climb or slither back down.
But as you climb, you are crawling into the serpent. The channel keeps getting narrower. More and more, you are divorced from the commonalities of your upbringing and thrown into closer proximity with your, uh, peers. People who have been educated just like you, have the same career pressures as you, and ultimately the same view of life from the same places where you eat nouveau cuisine lunch and take your over named drinks after work. You see the same dismal movies, discuss them, read the same ponderously drab books, discuss them, attend the same unwatchable foul-mouthed plays, do your best not to mention them, and laugh the same at the rubes who aren’t as au courant as you.
You are being digested. When there is virtually no difference between them and you, but for the snarky title of your latest column, you have reached the Thin Edge of the Wedge. Sometimes called the death rattle of the snake’s tail.
I never got there. Never went down that channel. Why I feel so free to jeer at Wallace, Krauthammer, Goldberg, Williamson, Hume, Lowrie, Kristol, Brooks, and even the Buckleys. The Kelly’s, O’Reillys, Hannitys, and company don’t count. Trash is trash. Even when you’re me, with more channels than all the rest of them have together.
It’s the karaoke version. So sing along.
Holy Romney met the Bushes
Yeah, he tried to set’em straight
Looked’em in the eye,
“Let the mod’rates go!”
Holy Romney’s Tabernacle
High above the silver spoon
Went to get Eleven Commandments
Yeah, he’s just gonna saw off the last!
All you Rombies hide your faces,
All you people in the street,
All you sittin’ in high places,
The party’s gonna fall on you…
No one ever spoke to Donald,
They all laughed at him instead
Workin’ on his deal,
Workin’ all by himself
Only Trump saw it comin’,
Forty days and forty nights,
Took his wives and ex-wives with him,
Yeah, they were the Mothers F!
All you Rombies hide your faces,
All you people in the street,
All you sittin’ in high places,
The Trump’s gonna fall on you
Holy Romney, what’s the matter?
Where have all the Bushes gone?…
Whoo. Whoo. Whoo.
Werefox. She thinks she knows everything. Foxes are cunning but they can’t read. Just a reminder When she’s alone she howls to the heavens.
So Cruze ran a lame ad showing a bunch kids playing with a Donald Trump action figure and parroting the talking points of their inside the beltway parents about what an unacceptable candidate Trump is.
Maybe this is an important breakthrough in what has been a thoroughly infantile campaign season thus far. Maybe we should just use action figures the rest of the way. Above, I tried the closest avatar for Ted Cruz I could find. And Trump’s rebuttal ad could feature his avatar asking Cruz’s, “What the f@&$ are you?!”
The two Democrat frontrunners (er, onlyrunners) could follow this lead. I’ve found some appropriate action figures for them. The blonde with the pantsuit and red Depends is Hillary. The crazed one with the Pampers overalls is Bernie. Maybe the final production version ahould go for gray hair and lose the knife (or not), but this ought to be enough for the high-buck strategists to start airballing scripts. Give them all a hand.
Old story, told before. Took my stepdaughter to see a face-off between the Harvard Glee Club and the diversityfied Princeton Chorus. In Princeton, which is lovely in its own right. Jersey girl in Jersey royal realms, you know. Figured I knew who she was rooting for. When Harvard took the stage I looked at my young charge and beheld her weeping silently. “Are you all right?” I asked. She nodded. “I’ve just never heard anything so beautiful.”
For the record. Princeton lost the face-off and the football game next day.
Okay. Here’s the story. Stevie Tyler is a Stones addict in the sixties. He goes to the U.K. and is mistaken for Mick Jagger. Which he capitalizes on with the ladies if you get my drift. Then he goes home and builds the rock band Aerosmith. With huge success.
Why I never paid them much attention. Then I got dragooned into attending an Aerosmith concert at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Guess what. Next best thing to Jagger I’ve ever seen. Even liked the scarf hanging from the mic stand. Truthfully, the greatest rock show I’ve seen that wasn’t the Stones. Blown away.
My wife says, STOP IT. The only good thing they ever did was Walk This Way. A stunt that worked.
But, I say, he had a daughter who turned out to be an elven queen. Jagger didn’t do that.
The first guy who says “I’d tap that” dies. Stevie Tyler is from Boston. Home of the most murderous surviving Mafia, Italian AND Irish, in the U.S.
We watched Trump’s rally in New Hampshire today. When he finished, they played the Stones “Can’t Always Get What You Want” and Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.”
Seems clear that music is a big part of presidential campaigns.
Got a problem here, kids. Can’t commit to Trump without declaring a unifying song for all his rallies and stuff. For example, my wife is sold on the one up top, and probably nothing I can offer will change her opinion.
However. I have two more candidates. Which I will show you.
Sorry about the lewd language and behavior people are always ascribing to Trump. As if no one in our pristine and utterly coarse culture has ever heard such terms before. [Guffaw]
And this one, which is a tough call because of this and this from the same album:
I suppooooose you’re allowed to have your own opinions and your own bands and songs and like that. Just remember. Get yourself noticed and you bear the consequences. There. Is. No. Security.
Now. Vote like a good little boy or girl.
P.S. Yeah. We know Trump is a bit of an opera buff. People think he’s of the love’em and leave’em variety. Nobody’s above this.
P.P.S. But my wife thinks Madame Butterfly might be a bit too highbrow for the general population of Trumpians (though she is one herself). Her classical nomination is this, which it’s hard to disagree with:
However. You have asked two good questions. Which I will try to answer.
You won’t necessarily like the answers though. Second one first. The victorious allies after the Armistice had just two choices: destroy Germany completely (good); treat Germany very leniently (unacceptable). Wilson’s presence in the treaty process made it possible to collapse utterly between these two poles and punish Germany a lot without destroying them as a nation. Therefore, the pains and deprivations of the Versailles Treaty simply fueled German resentment and enabled them to rise from ruin to vicious vengeance. Hence Hitler.
Back to Question 1. Why did the U.S. enter the war? Wilson promised, promised, promised we never would. But he was a progressive Democrat. He already wanted world government, you know, socialism for the beleaguered idiot millions. He had this thing called the League of Nations in his addled head. He seized on an excuse — because he knew he could change positions on a dime and fool the Rubes — and go “Over There” and “git’er Done”. Because Germany was going to win by pure attrition. The French were clapped out. The Brits had spit and polish but no intestines left. Only Americans could shut down the Huns.
Which they did. Extraordinarily. Leading to the League of Nations. Until Woodrow Wilson couldn’t actually think any better than Hillary or Bernie, being, you know, of an age. Though still well coiffed and bow-tied as a Princeton boy should be. He thought he had sacrificed 100,000 American troops in six months for the greater good. There were big plans to build a Wilson Memorial next to the Jefferson Memorial and for a fifth face at Mount Rushmore, but then he stroked out and forgot to completely die, which is why his wife supervised the disgracefully disrespectful return of the “doughboys” to the United States of America.