Obituaries and Weddings Dept.

Of all the obituaries I’ve read lately, this one — of conjoined twins Lori and George Schappell — is the craziest. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, though it is full of details that will make you sit up and go “What?!?” It’s actually pretty inspiring that they were able to lead real lives despite all they had to deal with. Makes my bitching about how the wifi is slow today seem pretty dumb. Read the whole thing — it’s worth it, trust me.

Another recent departure was this one:

After he was paralyzed by polio at age 6, Paul Alexander was confined for much of his life to a yellow iron lung that kept him alive. He was not expected to survive after that diagnosis, and even when he beat those odds, his life was mostly constrained by a machine in which he could not move.

But the toll of living in an iron lung with polio did not stop Mr. Alexander from going to college, getting a law degree and practicing law for more than 30 years. As a boy, he taught himself to breathe for minutes and later hours at a time, but he had to use the machine every day of his life.

He died on Monday at 78, according to a statement by his brother, Philip Alexander, on social media.

He was one of the last few people in the United States living inside an iron lung, which works by rhythmically changing air pressure in the chamber to force air in and out of the lungs. And in the final weeks of his life, he drew a following on TikTok by sharing what it had been like to live so long with the help of an antiquated machine.

His story, too, is a wild one full of twists and turns, and similarly uplifting. Here’s a link to the whole thing.


The Santa Claus of Murder

Upon hearing that O.J. Simpson had died, my first thought was: And he never found the real killers!

The O.J. saga was a tragedy, of course. It was also a comedy. It was a bizarre, enthralling spectacle with so many surprising twists that there was no way to keep track of them all.

For instance, I knew that O.J. had written a book called If I Did It, where he described how he would have killed Nicole and Ron, if he had. (He did.) I grabbed a copy out of a free library box a couple years ago, and though I’ve never read it and don’t intend to, I hold on to it as a talisman of… well, what?…. weirdness, I guess.

I knew but had forgotten that around that same time, he gave an interview where he more or less confessed, saying that he drove to Nicole’s house with a knife in the passenger seat and doesn’t remember what happened after that. I actually find this somewhat plausible — maybe O.J. committed the murders in a fugue state and was surprised afterwards to find out he had done it. And maybe he looked so surprised when the glove didn’t fit because he was thinking, wait, could it be I didn’t do it after all?

Well, it’s a theory.

But I never knew until this week that in 2006 O.J. starred in a reality prank show called Juiced. This is so grotesque on so many levels that I don’t know where to start, except to say that if he had played a prank on me, I would have run for my life.

But apparently I’m in the minority. In the This American Life segment where I learned about Juiced, Harmon Leon — who was O.J.’s sidekick on the show — marvels at how much people seem to love The Juice despite everything. (It was Leon who provided the title of this piece.)


April 26, 2024

Yesterday was a bizarre day to be an American news consumer. On the left side of the split-screen — I can’t remember which channel I was watching, and I don’t guess it really matters — was a diagram of the nine Supreme Court justices and the lawyer currently being questioned, looking very much like a baseball diamond. This was accompanied by real-time audio as the SCOTUS (Christ I hate that acronym, but it is convenient) entertained the prima facie absurd notion that a president is immune from prosecution for anything he does while in office.

Somewhere the ghost of Dick Nixon is slapping himself upside the head saying “Why didn’t I think of that?” But then at that time, the Supremes had not devolved to the point where such an idea would gain traction.

Meanwhile the right third of the screen was devoted to text updates from the courtroom in New York where ex-pres Fuckface is on trial for Stormy Daniels shenanigans. It was a literal sideshow — which to be honest is more and more what it seems like as time goes on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of anything that inconveniences and/or incarcerates him. It’s just that this case — where the crime is fairly amorphous and somewhat trivial in the scheme of things — pales in importance compared to what was going on next to it.


April 19, 2024

I admit it — I’ve been goggling at the spectacle of Fuckface on trial like the proverbial one-eyed cat. And there has been no shortage of spectacle to goggle at. Today a dude set himself on fire across the street from the courthouse, and the News Professionals carried on like it was the fourth biggest story of the day. Which I guess it was — the five last alternate jurors were seated, clearing the way for opening arguments on Monday; Mike Johnson got a foreign aid bill to the floor with help from Democrats; and more saber-rattling went on between Israel and Iran.

But you know all that already, because you are Plugged-In People.

Meanwhile, the Accused rants and fulminates as he repeatedly rams his head against a big iron door. Very entertaining but one thing worries me: When it’s one man against the system, the average American does not look on and yell, “Go system!” We instinctively root for the individual, right or wrong; and I fear this will redound to the Bad Man’s political advantage.

But I can’t be worried about that right now. It’s a beautiful spring day, a gray cat is writhing at my feet, and a fine dinner awaits.

And hmm, it looks like this is going to be a good old-fashioned blog for a while, where I pop my head up now and again to share thoughts on whatever. Hibernation season is over and the need to Communicate is upon me. Holla back.

State of the Nation, 4/17/24

Turns out the correct answer was “total faceplant.” In a do-or-die game against the Kings, the Warriors didn’t, shooting a pitiful 41% en route to 94 points vs. the other guys’ 118. Our boy Klay had possibly the worst game of his life, taking ten shots and missing them all.

Am I going to start talking shit about him now? Hell no. He had a bad day. The whole team had a bad day. It happens. I’m going to now take a break from thinking, talking, or writing about basketball for a while. Eventually I’ll get sucked into the playoffs again, and will have the luxury of watching the games without really caring.

Meanwhile it was another strange day in politics, and the strangest thing about it was that we got a glimpse of something that looked like normality. Seven jurors were seated in Fuckface’s trial — which I know should be filed under “jurisprudence,” not politics, despite what he says — which made it feel like the system was actually working. The wheels of justice are turning. Certain ones shall be smitten, and they know who they are.

Do I really believe that? At this moment, as I’m typing, I do. Ask me again in a half-hour.