How many more days?

Posted in Bread and circuses on May 5th, 2017 by bill

This week I’ve been reading Hunter Thompson’s account of the last days in office of Richard Nixon, and I find myself salivating a little bit. How long, oh Lord, how long, until Fuckface Von Clownstick is run out of Washington on a rail? Has he already committed the crime(s) for which he will be impeached and then pardoned by President Pence, or is that yet to come? I just hope it doesn’t take five years and a re-election for it to happen.

There’s some major historical irony in the fact that the Watergate burglary was committed because Nixon was worried about losing an election that, it turns out, he won easily. One can easily picture FVC doing the same thing — so determined to win the popular vote this time that he signs off on election-machine hacking, widespread phantom voting, or the kneecapping of minority voters.

With any luck it will not come to that. The foulness and corruption infesting the Von Clownstick administration is so rampant that there just have to be some major felonies being committed. The only questions are, a) how long will it take for them to be discovered and brought to light, and b) how much will the president know, and when will he have known it? For him to be brought to heel, he will have to be caught so red-handed that all but his most delusional supporters will finally be forced to face the truth, but I for one have no problem imagining at least a dozen ways that could happen. Read more »

A few words from HST, part 6

Posted in R.I.P., HST on May 4th, 2017 by bill

This passage, again from “The Temptations of Jean-Claude Killy” (1970), I’m posting just because it made me laugh out loud. We can always use that. It takes place at a car show in Chicago and features a cameo by O.J. Simpson, then an NFL rookie.

Jean-Claude makes his pitch for Chevrolet every two hours on the button: 1–3–5–7–9. The even numbered hours are reserved for O.J. Simpson.

Barker: “Tell me, O.J., are you faster than that car over there?”

O.J.: You mean that groovy Chevrolet? Naw, man, that’s the only thing I know that’s faster than me… ho, ho….”

Meanwhile, slumped in the folding chair near the Killy exhibit, smoking a pipe and brooding on the spooks in this place, I am suddenly confronted by three young boys wearing Bass Weejuns and Pendleton shirts, junior-high types, and one of them asks me: “Are you Jean-Claude Killy?”

“That’s right,” I said.

“What are you doing?” they asked.

Well, you goddamn silly little waterhead, what the hell does in look like I’m doing? But I didn’t say that. I gave the question some thought. “Well,” I said finally, “I’m just sitting here smoking marijuana.” I held up my pipe. “This is what makes me ski so fast.”

Their eyes swelled up like young grapefruits. They stared at me — waiting for a laugh, I think — then backed away. Five minutes later I looked up and found them still watching me, huddled about twenty feet away behind the sky-blue Z-28 Chevvy on its slow-moving turntable. I waved my pipe at them and smiled like Hubert Humphrey…but they didn’t wave back.

A few words from HST, part 5

Posted in R.I.P., HST, Read it in books on May 2nd, 2017 by bill

This excerpt from Hunter’s profile of the skier Jean-Claude Killy, circa 1970, is relevant to current events in a slightly different way from some of the other pieces I’ve been posting. See if you can spot it.

I boarded the plane and instantly found myself involved in a game of musical chairs with the couple who were being moved back to the tourist compartment so Jean-Claude and I could have their first-class seats. “I’ve blocked these two off for you,” the man in the blue uniform told me.

The dowdy little stewardess told the victims how sorry she was — over and over again, while the man howled in the aisle. I hunkered down in the seat and stared straight ahead, wishing him well…. “You sons of bitches!” he yelled, shaking his fist at the crewmen who were pushing him back towards the tourist section. I was hoping he would whack one of them or at least refuse to stay on the plane but he caved in, allowing himself to be hustled off like a noisy beggar.

“What was that about?” Killy asked me.

I told him. “Bad scene, eh?” he said. Then he pulled a car racing magazine out of his briefcase and focused on that. I thought of going back and advising the man that he could get a full refund on his ticket if he kept yelling, but the flight was delayed for at least an hour on the runway and I was afraid to leave my seat for fear it might be grabbed by some late-arriving celebrity.

Within moments, a new hassle developed. I asked the stewardess for a drink and was told that it was against the rules  to serve booze until the plane was airborne. Thirty minutes later, I got the same answer. There is something in the corporate manner of United Airlines that reminds me of the California Highway Patrol, the exaggerated politeness of people who would be a hell of a lot happier if all their customers were in jail — and especially you, sir.

 

Song of the Week, 4/29/2017

Posted in Whatever Else on April 29th, 2017 by bill

Richard Berry (no relation to Chuck), best known as the writer and original performer of “Louie Louie,” was an artist of stupendous talent and breadth. This romantic number, for my money, is one of the most criminally underappreciated songs of all time.

Series 1: Warriors 4, Trail Blazers 0

Posted in Golden (State) Years on April 27th, 2017 by bill
JaVale McGee came up huge against Portland — and man, does it feel weird to be saying that.

JaVale McGee came up huge against Portland — and man, does it feel weird to be saying that.

I haven’t been blogging about the playoffs so far this year, for a couple of reasons. One of them is a desire — which I think I share with the whole of Dub Nation — to do everything differently from the way we did it last year. The loss in Game 7 of the Finals left a bad taste in our mouths that will not be cleansed until and unless our team hoists the trophy again.

Which does tend to take a little bit of the fun out of things. Long gone are the carefree, overachieving Warriors of 2014–15. With the addition of Kevin Durant, this year’s team carries a heavy burden of high expectations, and anything short of a title will be considered an abject failure.

They’re still entertaining to watch, though. In Game 4 of the opening-round series against Portland, they dropped 45 first-quarter points on the Blazers in a blinding blitzkrieg of basketball brutality. They completed the sweep three quarters later and now await the winner of the Utah Jazz/LA Clippers series. Read more »

A few words from HST, part 4

Posted in R.I.P., HST on April 24th, 2017 by bill

How long, oh Lord, how long? And how much longer will we have to wait before some high-powered shark with a fistful of answers will finally bring us face-to-face with the ugly question that is already so close to the surface in this country, that sooner or later even politicians will have to cope with it?

Is the democracy worth all the risks and problems that necessarily go with it? Or, would we all be happier by admitting that the whole thing was a lark from the start and now that it hasn’t worked out, to hell with it.

—“Fear and Loathing in the Bunker,” 1974

Song of the Week 4/22/2017

Posted in Somebody's birthday, Song of the week on April 22nd, 2017 by bill

Iggy Pop turned 70 this week, which is just rude.

But he’s still got a lust for life.

Song of the Week, 4/16/2017

Posted in Song of the week on April 16th, 2017 by bill

A few days ago this song came up on the iPod I keep in the bathroom, and every time that happens I end up listening to it a bunch of times because it is such a goddamn beautiful tune. It’s from Stephen Malkmus’ first solo album, which is now…wow…16 years old. Hit it, Steve.

A few words from HST, part 3

Posted in R.I.P., HST on April 14th, 2017 by bill

A good month after finishing Hell’s Angels, I finally cracked open The Great Shark Hunt to look for material of current interest. It didn’t take long. The first piece after the Author’s Note is called “Fear and Loathing in the Bunker,” and on the second page Hunter says:

Nixon…was blessed with a mixture of arrogance and stupidity that caused him to blow the boilers almost immediately after taking command. By bringing in hundreds of thugs, fixers and fascists to run the Government, he was able to crank almost every problem he touched into a mindbending crisis. About the only disaster he hasn’t brought down on us yet is a nuclear war with either Russia or China or both…but he still has time, and the odds of his actually doing it are not all that long.

This seems especially apropos in a week where President Von Clownstick discovered how much fun it is to bomb people. First it was Syria, then Afghanistan, and North Korea may be next:

China warned on Friday that tensions on the Korean Peninsula could run out of control, after North Korea said it could test a nuclear weapon whenever its top leader, Kim Jong-un, decided, and as an American naval group neared the peninsula in a show of resolve.

“The United States and South Korea and North Korea are engaging in tit for tat, with swords drawn and bows bent, and there have been storm clouds gathering,” China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said in Beijing. (New York Times, 4/14/2017).

Read more »

Song of the Week 4/8/2017

Posted in Song of the week on April 8th, 2017 by bill

This week I find myself in New Orleans where, purely by coincidence, the French Quarter Music Festival is happening. This is how I came to see local legend Irma Thomas belting out “Time Is on My Side” yesterday at the “Abita Beer Stage,” sounding something like this:

Irma’s version is not the original — it was done first by trombonist Kai Winding and his orchestra in 1963. But it was her cover, recorded in early 1964, that provided the template for the version the Stones did later that year.

This song is used to chilling effect in the movie Fallen, which I think is about due for another viewing at our home. It also was featured in an episode of Treme, which was set in New Orleans, which brings us full circle and lets me get on with my day.