From the so-called “president’s” ghost-written effusion, The Art of the Deal:
Mayor Koch has achieved something quite miraculous. He’s presided over an administration that is both pervasively corrupt and totally incompetent . . . . No fewer than a dozen Koch appointees and cohorts have been indicted on charges of bribery, perjury, and accepting kickbacks, or have been forced to resign in disgrace after admitting ethical transgressions . . . . The irony is that Koch made his reputation by boasting about his integrity and incorruptibility. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that if the people he appoints prove to be corrupt, then in the end he must take the responsibility. To the contrary, at the first hint that any of his friends might be in trouble, Koch can’t run fast enough the other way.
At The Rectification of Names Yastreblyansky reimagines Trump’s recent babblings on the occasion of Black History Month as “an intensely felt and personal poem in which his pain at the unjust suspicions to which he was almost subjected for half an hour brings him into deeper connection with the African American experience.” I wish I had written his post myself, but failing that, the best I can do is order you to go here at once.
From Sunday Styles:
[Larry] Flynt recently filed a federal trademark infringement suit against two of his nephews, who had started selling adult movies under the name Flynt. The Hustler creator argued that his brand was being sullied with “inferior products.” He won.
“People don’t want their porn to look tacky,” he said.
Rudyard Kipling remembers when he was a 17-year-old cub reporter in Lahore:
I never worked less than ten hours and seldom more than fifteen per diem; and as our paper came out in the evening did not see the midday sun except on Sundays. I had fever too, regular and persistent, to which I added for a while chronic dysentery. Yet I discovered that a man can work with a temperature of 104, even though next day he has to ask who wrote that article…
From the modern point of view, I suppose the life was not fit for a dog, but my world was filled with boys, but a few years older than I, who lived utterly alone, and died from typhus mostly, at the regulation age of twenty-two.
In 1980, attorney James Leon Holmes wrote, in a letter arguing for a constitutional ban on abortion, “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”
He later apologized for his comment and was successfully nominated to a federal judgeship by George W. Bush in 2004, the inside-Washington controversy over his remarks notwithstanding. Today he serves as the chief judge of the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Besides, what’s the big deal about forcible rape, anyway? For the Ayn Rand crowd, it’s kind of hot. As it used to be back in the 40s and 50s for Smith and Vassar coeds, who lapped up Rand's description of Howard Roark raping the haughty Dominique. What real woman could fail to grow moist over prose like this:
She fought like an animal. But she made no sound. She did not call for help… He did it as an act of scorn. Not as love, but as defilement. And this made her lie still and submit. One gesture of tenderness from him — and she would have remained cold, untouched by the things done to her body. But the act of a master taking shameful, contemptuous possession of her was the kind of rapture she had wanted…
She turned the light on in the bathroom. She saw herself in a tall mirror. She saw the purple bruises left on her body by his mouth. She heard a moan muffled in her throat, not very loud. It was not the sight, but the sudden flash of knowledge. She knew she would not take a bath. She knew that she wanted to keep the feeling of his body, the traces of his body on hers, knowing also what such a desire implied…
She had found joy in her revulsion, in her terror and in his strength. That was the degradation she had wanted and she hated him for it.
“Writing for the press cannot be recommended as a permanent resource to any one qualified to accomplish anything in the higher departments of literature or thought: not only on account of the uncertainty of this means of livelihood, especially if the writer has a conscience, and will not consent to serve any opinions except his own; but also because the writings by which one can live, are not the writings which themselves live, and are never those in which the writer does his best.”
The Marquis de Sade wrote 120 Days of Sodom in hopes it would be “the most impure tale that has ever been written since the world exists.” He failed, of course. The Old Testament remains unchallenged as the most vicious, cruel and evil book of all time. Just a taste, this one from Leviticus 21:
And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto Aaron, saying, whosoever he be of my seed that hath any blemish, let him not approach to have of the bread of his God.
For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or brokenhanded
Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken…
Only he shall not go into the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the Lord do sanctify them.
This is from satirist Christopher Buckley’s 2007 novel, Boomsday. Randy is a millionaire congressman running for the Senate from Massachusetts. His hated mother has just choked to death on a hairball from one of her eight Pomeranians. Terry Tucker is the candidate’s PR man. Buckley’s literary problem in this passage was to find the most insignificant, inconsequential, abstruse, useless and meaningless vote a congressman ever casts.
Throughout the service, Randy stared at the casket with what some found an inappropriate look. “Did you see his expression,” said Mrs. Gardner Peabody Cabot at the reception afterwards, “while he was shoveling in the first spadeful of earth?”
“And the way he kept on shoveling,” said Mrs. Templeton Lowell Scrodworthy.
It was just as well no one knew that Terry Tucker had had to talk Randy into attending.
“Put it this way,” he told his client. “How many questions do you want, next time you run, about why you didn’t attend your own mother’s funeral? What are we going to say? That you couldn’t miss the vote on extending the debt ceiling?”
I once did a five-year stretch teaching at Harvard, and so this story came as no surprise:
A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that a third of students surveyed said that they expected B’s just for attending lectures, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the required reading…
In line with Dean Hogge’s observation are Professor Greenberger’s test results. Nearly two-thirds of the students surveyed said that if they explained to a professor that they were trying hard, that should be taken into account in their grade.
Jason Greenwood, a senior kinesiology major at the University of Maryland echoed that view. “I think putting in a lot of effort should merit a high grade,” Mr. Greenwood said. “What else is there really than the effort that you put in?”
Although I would get used to it soon, I was astonished the first time a student complained about his (usually it was a boy) grade. In my own student days I’d have gnawed my arm off rather than beg a professr to raise my grade. It was a simple matter of self-respect.
In a compulsory freshman course called “Contemporary Civilization” we were required to turn in weekly book reports from a long reading list. For my first one I naturally picked a book I had already read and dimly remembered. I knocked out a necessarily vague puff piece between breakfast and the nine o’clock class. The professor gave me an A-, not even noticing that I had got the protagonist’s name wrong.
Plainly, then, I could coast through the semester. Next time I’d even read a book that was new to me, write my report while I still remembered it, and get a sure A. I picked Three Soldiers by John Dos Passos, finding it to be a weak effort by the master. I got a C-.
Did I debase myself by complaining? I did not. I did the manly thing. I read a new book each week, and set down exactly what I thought about it. Even then my taste was exquisite and my standards so high that no book ever entirely met them. And I never got a grade higher than a C.
To ease the pain I set up a little business selling book reports to other students in the course, the fee to depend on the grade. I found each book to be a masterpiece, fully deserving of its place on the professor’s book list. The lowest grade I ever got was an A-.
Rosa Henderson, brought to you on a Lenco L-75 vintage turntable. Hey those old LP’s, 45’s, 78’s and turntables are still available at yard sales and thrift shops. Recycle that vintage vinyl and LP gear. You might find that you like the sound better than digital.
Thanks to Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, I now know that the great topical comedian Mort Sahl, the model for Howard Beal in Network, is alive and still on top of the news.
Here’s what he said at a tribute dinner at UCLA:
I know George Bush. I’ve met him and spoke to him a number of times. He told me he had stopped drinking. When I asked him how he did it he said he was born again. I said, you were born again? Why would you come back as George Bush?”
Wisdom from the incomparable John Waters, the genius who brought olfaction to the big screen. One of my numberless regrets is that, having correctly foreseen that the scratch-and-sniff cards distributed at showings of Polyester would one day be enormously valuable, I kept mine. And then lost it.
Waters, whose pied-à-terre has one bedroom and is decorated entirely in shades of dark green, with Venetian blinds permanently drawn, has never even lived with a partner, let alone considered legalizing any of his unions. “I always thought the privilege of being gay is that we don’t have to get married or go in the Army,” he said. “I personally have no desire to imitate a fairly corny, expensive heterosexual tradition, though I certainly know gay couples who are married who should be. I am all for it. I have always joked that the growth industries are gay divorce and tattoo removal.”
Here, to brighten your weekend, is a poem in which William Butler Yeats explains just what the hell is the matter with me anyway:
Why should not old men be mad?
Some have known a likely lad
That had a sound fly-fisher's wrist
Turn to a drunken journalist;
A girl that knew all Dante once
Live to bear children to a dunce;
A Helen of social welfare dream,
Climb on a wagonette to scream.
Some think it a matter of course that chance
Should starve good men and bad advance,
That if their neighbours figured plain,
As though upon a lighted screen,
No single story would they find
Of an unbroken happy mind,
A finish worthy of the start.
Young men know nothing of this sort,
Observant old men know it well;
And when they know what old books tell
And that no better can be had,
Know why an old man should be mad.
As promised, here’s a second excerpt from I. Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby’s epic love story, The Apprentice. The sex of the deer is never specified, but it is certainly a doe. There’s nothing queer about old Scooter:
Coming slowly through the trees at the far side of the clearing below were two more hunters. They bore spears and heavy packs and they followed the snow trail of the deer and called to it like some lost friend.
The deer turned its head as far as it could to either side as if it could not get a clear view of the creatures approaching from behind. Then it shook and tried to leap again. When it lay still once more, its face, tilted upward by the snow, seemed to beseech the sky.
The hunters did not change their pace. As they drew near, two of them set down their packs and began to search inside them. The third plodded on until his snowshoes almost touched the animal. He stood talking to it in tones too soft for the apprentice to decipher. At length he walked around to the deer’s head and, reaching into his pants, struggled for a moment and then pulled out his penis. He began to piss in the snow just in front of the deer’s nostrils…
One of the hunters, looking up from his pack, shouted at the man not to piss near the throat.
Still holding himself, the man plodded around to the back of the deer and squatted down close to the snow. The deer twisted its head to each side to see him and then bucked forward a few inches. When the deer lay still once again, the man pressed his free hand against its haunches. A soft steam rose around its sides.
The man called out to the others that the deer was warm. He asked if they should fuck the deer.
The other two men spoke to each other over their packs. One said something that the youth could not hear.
“It can’t kick when it’s dead,” the man by the deer called back to the other two.
All three men gathered at the head of the deer. Their backs hid its head from the apprentice’s view. One of the hunters now held a knife and he moved to the side and lay across the deer’s neck. The deer cried out for the first time in a low, guttural call. The rear of the animal shook violently.
When the man rose from the deer, the three men stepped slowly to the side and watched a red stain spread in the snow close to the deer’s head. Steam from its blood rose off the snow around its neck.
The men broke into an argument, the details of which the apprentice could not discern. The youth could see the death-glazed eyes of the deer.
The man who had pissed walked around behind the deer again.
The youth pushed himself back, watching the men. When he was well out of their line of sight, he stood and moved away.
(Note Libby’s subtle touch in this last paragraph. Seldom in literature has the gang-rape of a dead deer been treated with such economy of emotion. The youth’s revulsion, left so delicately unstated, is of course an echo of the author’s own.)
There is nothing I won’t do for you guys. For example, I not only bought but actually read Lewis Libby’s (Scooter’s pen name) 2001 masterpiece, The Apprentice, which The Washington Post called “a small triumph of meticulous craftsmanship.”
“With delicate descriptive passages,” burbled The New York Times, “Lewis Libby elevates a youth’s narrative to the level of myth … [his] storytelling skill neatly mixes conspiratorial murmurs with a boy’s emotional turmoil.” Puffballs like this ease the path for “access journalism,” making it more likely that the burbler’s paper will receive leaks of false information in return.
I’m sure the class is familiar with the passage in which Libby delicately describes the sexual initiation of a ten-year-old girl by bears. But I knew there would be more, and that you would be anxious to read it once I had done the heavy lifting for you. Here, then, is the lesser known “Shallow River” passage in which a “girl-child” strips delicately for the guests of a Japanese inn at the turn of the 19th century:
Dancing, the tiny girl now did what seemed to the youth an amazing thing. Reaching down to her ankles, she parted her kimono and lifted it several inches off the ground. As she straightened, her eyes fixed once again on the youth, and they were wide and dark. The men were now shouting “Shallow River, Shallow River,” and as they did she raised her hem higher and stepped behind the candle as if to cross a stream. Her bare calves in the candlelight were thick and pale as she stepped. She wore low, stained socks.
The music grew slightly faster. The girl who had worn the cloak of yellow fur played with averted eyes. The old man had now rocked forward onto his bony knees and he clapped loudly and without rhythm while the verse came around and the men shouted out and the girl raised her hem higher still. Her shoulders began to shiver as if she were being shaken from within.
One of the men below her reached out and ran his hand up the dancer’s leg until it was below the hem and behind her knee. The tiny girl stared down at it but she kept her steps to the music and the village woman pulled the man’s hand away and bit it until the man cried out.
“Shallow River,” the men shouted, and the kimono was raised halfway above the knee. The dancer’s small thighs were plump and pale and the surface jiggled and settled as she stepped. She had gathered the thick kimono up into her arms until her arms seemed borne down by the weight and pinned to her sides. The inner hem of the kimono was red and coarse and stained, and her pale plump legs seemed to erupt from it.
The village woman now threw herself forward on her stomach very near the candle and sniffed up into the shadows beneath the tiny dancer’s red kimono. “No smell,” she shouted, laughing, “no smell,” and the men around her laughed, too, but with a different edge as they looked at the young girl. The tiny dancer pulled the
end of her kimono up to hide her face and she stepped blindly in place. “Shallow River!” The music now played very loud and very fast, and the men pounded the floor “Shallow River!” and the floor shook. “Shallow River!” and the tiny dancer now raised her kimono above her waist, her arms filled with clothing and her stomach bare and her thighs shifting back and forth without rhythm, almost in place. “Shallow River!” and she raised the gathered clothing higher still until she was naked from the floor to her child’s breasts.
“Her hair’s painted,” one of the men by the fat village woman yelled and pointed, and the youth saw that the tiny dancer’s mound was in fact not covered by hair but by long painted lines.
The tune shifted and quickened so that the singers could not keep up with the words, and the tiny dancer began to spin, near-naked, in place. First hips, then stomach, mound, and thighs revolved, revolved, revolved, and the men clapped until the girl-child lost her balance and stumbled over one of them, and he pushed her back onto her feet and she turned and turned and the men clapped on until the music abruptly ceased.
From the Master herself:
To all my progressive/liberal friends, you might be interested to know that Google is not your friend. Protest with your wallet. Boycott Google Checkout and don’t use Froogle.
Open Thread. Enjoy.
You may not understand this. Even if you watch it through to the end. The Audiophile Club of Athens does. Even if you do, you may still be a part of the rest of the world.
And if you are not in the rest of the world, but are one of us, you should be aware of this.
...but hang on, I'll tie this in to an appropriate post that speaks to mainstream journalism in due time.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Once again, a selection from a book that is on Mrs. Batard’s recommended list, Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer (1951), a work praised by Dwight Eisenhower. The author happened to have also been given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1983. Reagan also was an admirer of Ayn Rand, thus proving that senility came early, as many have previously speculated.
The genuine man of words himself can get along without faith in absolutes. He values the search for truth as much as truth itself. He delights in the clash of thought and in the give-and-take of controversy. If he formulates a philosophy and a doctrine, they are more an exhibition of brilliance and an exercise in dialectics than a program of action and the tenets of a faith. His vanity, it is true, often prompts him to defend his speculations with savagery and even venom; but his appeal is usually to reason and not to faith. The fanatics and the faith-hungry masses, however, are likely to invest such speculations with the certitude of a holy writ, and make them the fountainhead of a new faith. Jesus was not a Christian, nor was Marx a Marxist.
Glory is largely a theatrical concept. There is no striving for glory without a vivid awareness of an audience — the knowledge that our mighty deeds will come to the ears of our contemporaries or “those who are to be.” We are ready to sacrifice our true, transitory self for the imaginary eternal self we are building up, by our heroic deed, in the imagination of others.
In the practice of mass movements, make-believe plays perhaps a more enduring role than any other factor. When faith and the power to persuade or convince are gone, make-believe lingers on. There is no doubt that in staging its processions, parades, rituals, and ceremonials, a mass movement touches a responsive chord in every heart. Even the most sober minded are carried away by the sight of an impressive mass spectacle. There is an exhilaration and getting out of one’s skin in both participants and spectators. It is possible that the frustrated are more responsive to the might and splendor of the mass than people who are self-sufficient. The desire to escape or camouflage their unsatisfactory selves develops in the frustrated a facility for pretending — for making a show — and also a readiness to identify themselves wholly with an imposing mass spectacle.
Occasionally, from time to time on this blog, we have allowed ourselves the luxury of escaping from present turmoils to bathe ourselves or perhaps purge ourselves from the excesses of the day by reflecting on wiser words than we have to offer. I therefore offer up a warm elixir of epsom salts to soothe the skin or perhaps cleanse the mind, by way of a short selection from Thoreau’s Walden:
Every day or two I strolled to the village to hear some of the gossip which is incessantly going on there, circulating either from mouth to mouth, or from newspaper to newspaper, and which, taken in homoeopathic doses, was really as refreshing in its way as the rustle of leaves and the peeping of frogs. As I walked in the woods to see the birds and squirrels, so I walked in the village to see the men and boys; instead of the wind among the pines I heard the carts rattle. In one direction from my house there was a colony of muskrats in the river meadows; under the grove of elms and buttonwoods in the other horizon was a village of busy men, as curious to me as if they had been prairie-dogs, each sitting at the mouth of its burrow, or running over to a neighbor’s to gossip. I went there frequently to observe their habits. The village appeared to me a great news room; and on one side, to support it, as once at Redding & Company’s on State Street, they kept nuts and raisins, or salt and meal and other groceries. Some have such a vast appetite for the former commodity, that is, the news, and such sound digestive organs, that they can sit forever in public avenues without stirring, and let it simmer and whisper through them like the Etesian winds, or as if inhaling ether, it only producing numbness and insensibility to pain — otherwise it would often be painful to bear — without affecting the consciousness. I hardly ever failed, when I rambled through the village, to see a row of such worthies, either sitting on a ladder sunning themselves, with their bodies inclined forward and their eyes glancing along the line this way and that, from time to time, with a voluptuous expression, or else leaning against a barn with their hands in their pockets, like caryatides, as if to prop it up. They, being commonly out of doors, heard whatever was in the wind. These are the coarsest mills, in which all gossip is first rudely digested or cracked up before it is emptied into finer and more delicate hoppers within doors.
Your good thought for the day (no free link), from David Brooks, zeitgeist columnist for The New York Times:
Remember, my fellow downcast citizens, nothing stays the same. Spring brings rebirth, and the dewy green færies of sanity are flittering down the think tank corridors and o’er the politicians’ up-turned brows.
Alito? Who cares, we’re screwed anyway. Speaking of which …
The actress known as Tyla Wynn took to the stage late Saturday night to accept an X-rated-film award, the pornography version of an Oscar. The category was excellence in a multiperson sex scene. …
Evan Stone, the stage name of the man who won the award for best actor as the good ship’s captain, said a crucial component of the movie’s success was its authenticity. A consultant instructed the cast on proper ship etiquette, he said, like never letting the captain steer the vessel, a job that belongs to the first mate.
Well, this makes me feel a bit better. After all, I’ve only got two rejections so far.
Submitted to 20 publishers and agents, the typed manuscripts of the opening chapters of two books were assumed to be the work of aspiring novelists. Of 21 replies, all but one were rejections. Sent by The Sunday Times of London, the manuscripts were the opening chapters of novels that won Booker Prizes in the 1970’s. One was “Holiday,” by Stanley Middleton; the other was “In a Free State,” by Sir V. S. Naipaul, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature. Mr. Middleton said he wasn’t surprised. “People don’t seem to know what a good novel is nowadays,” he said. Mr. Naipaul said: “To see something is well written and appetizingly written takes a lot of talent, and there is not a great deal of that around. With all the other forms of entertainment today, there are very few people around who would understand what a good paragraph is.”
Perhaps, instead of shopping a book proposal, I should look for a job with a publishing company…
Are you old enough, or too young to remember Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color? Actually, I remember both (without color), but Daddy couldn’t afford color, so we suffered in black and white.
At any rate, Mrs. Batard brings to my attention a new edition of that classic film that was always shown at this time of the year. I, therefore, will bring it to yours.
If anyone thought Bill Doolittle was off the mark when he wrote the post entitled The Love that Dares Not Low Its Name, The Seattle Times has got some news for you. You’re wrong. It turns out that the Seattle Times is discovering the truth about the whole sordid story. They say that pure capitalism works best in the national media. Sure, right up my ass, and yours too.
As I look back at the year in news, it’s clear I should have focused more on people having sex with horses.
Tha’s the conclusion I reach after reviewing a new list of the year’s top local news stories. Only this list is not the usual tedious recounting by news editors or pundits who profess to speak for you readers. This is the people’s-choice list.
It’s not a survey of what news you say you read.
It’s what you actually read.
By tallying clicks on our Web site, we now chart the most read stories in the online edition of The Seattle Times. Software then sorts the tens of thousands of stories for 2005 and ranks them. Not by importance, impact or poetic lyricism, but by which stories compelled the most people to put finger to mouse, click, open and, presumably, read.
Which brings me back to sex with horses. The story last summer about the man who died from a perforated colon while having sex with a horse in Enumclaw was by far the year’s most read article.
What’s more, four more of the year’s 20 most clicked-upon local news stories were about the same horse-sex incident. We don’t publish our Web-traffic numbers, but take it from me — the total readership on these stories was huge.