because the light is beautiful
A while there some time back, a penguin attempted to assassinate my daughter.
My daughter the well-known award-winning deviant.
The penguin assumed the form of a coffee mug, and then rudely hurled my daughter to the floor. The penguin committed great violence to her hand. It could have been terminal. But fortunately a kindly doctor immediately washed over my daughter great waves of opiates. So she felt no penguin pain.
Heretofore, my daughter had believed penguins to be benign—yea, verily, even Goodly, even Godly—beings.
This: my fault. For I had failed to advise my daughter, as a Good and Proper father should, that penguins are in fact a veritable Fount of Evil.
There is a Reason why penguins live only in the Antarctic.
This is because, long ago, the other animals, minerals, and vegetables of the planet, exiled the penguins there. Because of the penguins’ Great Evil. That—the Great Evil—is also why the animals, minerals, and vegetables, they ripped the wings off the penguins. And replaced them with flaccid flippers. So the penguins would not be able to lift off the continent of Antarctica, and thereby invade, befoul, plague, the rest of the planet.
That penguins are Foul Beyond Measure is not generally appreciated . . . until they suddenly run utterly wild, and commit bedeviled acts like attempting to transport my daughter to a hospital, morgue, or asylum.
Few humans have been able to penetrate the seemingly pathetic, waddling, flightless, nimrodness of the penguin, to regard the great seething evil that truly roils inside them.
In fact, the “human” who has best understood the penguin, is not a human at all. “He” is instead an alien from space, here on this planet as an anthropologist. Documenting, for those Out There, the numberless weirdities of this planet.
In one of his very first films, Fata Morgana, “he,” this alien, traveling on this planet under the rubric Werner Herzog, devoted the first five minutes or so of his feature to endless looping shots of an airplane struggling to rise from an airstrip to ascend above the Sahara desert. He kept looping this footage, until even a human could understand that air travel, at this time, on this planet, is stone-mad.
Some 36 years later, in Encounters At The End Of The World, Herzog traveled to the very bottom of the world, in order to prove absolutely that penguins are, likewise, stone-mad.
In the clip below, Herzog nakedly exposes a penguin who has so flipped his lid he is determined to extinguish his being. Like Sylvia Plath. Or Ernest Hemingway.
This is sad.
But it also sad when penguins hurl my daughter to the floor. Or drown Jim Morrison in the bathtub.
One of the doomed Morrison’s last songs, it was “Riders On The Storm.”
In truth, the song was originally envisioned as “Penguins On The Storm.” But after the penguins drowned Morrison in that bathtub in Paris, they intimidated the remaining band members into changing the song’s title, and many of the lyrics.
Hints of the original tune, they do survive. In, for instance, these lines:
there’s a killer on the road
his brain is squirmin’ like a toad
For anyone who has ever had a daughter whom a penguin suddenly and unaccountably hurled to the floor, these lines will ring true of the Great Evil that dwells within the flabby flightless breasts of these Antarctic—yea, verily—Satanic creatures.
The penguins must be stopped. No longer may they be permitted to run utterly amok, drowning lizard kings in the bath, sprawling my daughter to the floor.
That is why tonight I ordered from Amazon the oil paints.
For I intend, in oil, to freeze the free-range insanity of the utter nutter penguin fleeing into the freeze, depicted there in the Herzog film.
This painting, once completed, it will spread among the people like scabies, like swine flu, like chunder chunked from the grunting heaving pig-lips of Runt Limprod.
And once they have viewed this painting, all the People, they will Know, that the penguins, they are a Menace.
And therefore, the people, once Apprised, never shall they allow the penguins to hurl my daughter to the floor again.
But. The penguins. Somehow they Know. For I just went out on the back porch—braving the storm—to have a smoke.
Here, it is raining. Here, it is hailing. Here, it is snowing. Here, out back, is a sheet of ice.
And here, now, waddling, across that sheet, and in numbers limitless, come, determined, the penguins.
“Noah was an asshole.”
“He didn’t argue.”
“Noah should have argued?”
Yakov explained, “Abraham argues with God not to kill everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah. Moses pleads with God not to kill worshippers of the golden calf. But God tells Noah to build a boat because He’s going to flood the entire world, and what does Noah say? Not a word.”
“Not a word,” said Bobby, “and saves the minimum. What a bastard.”
—Martin Cruz Smith, Wolves Eat Dogs
from the book of Genesis
8:1 And the ark bobbed on the face of the waters, for a fuck of a long time. And Noah, he was sore A-Thirst. For though the N-man had dutifully brought aboard the boat, two by two, every ant and chigger and screwworm that did inhabit the earth, he had forgotten, in his haste, to secure any booze.
3: And the raven, he flew high, and he flew low, and finally he did Find a bottle, floating upon the waters. He drew forth the cork, and then he tasted of the liquor, to make sure it was Fit for the irascible jonesing Noah. But lo, yea verily, when the taste was completed, not a drop in the bottle remained.
4: And the raven flew, unsteadily, back to the ark, and there slurred and hiccupped to Noah, “Sorry, boss; no booze be about.”
5: And Noah, as one drunk knows another, knew that the raven had partaken of the Stinking Waters, and his Wrath, it knew no bounds, was without measure; yea, verily, not even in cubits.
6: And, in his Anger, the N-Man sent forth his Hand, and with it he grabbed a squid, and, mightily Squeezing it, spewed squid ink all over the raven. And that is why the raven, formerly white, is Black unto this day.
7: And Noah stalked wrathfully through the bilge-waters swamping the ark, until he came unto the Dove. And then, unto the dove, he screamed, till his lips bled: “Bring me some fuckin’ booze, goddamit!”
8: And the dove, she was sore Afraid. For Noah was holding a gun to the head of the dove’s mate. And Noah, God’s anointed, was Shrieking: “I am an American! And if I do not soon splash booze down my gullet, the dove gets it!”
9: And the dove, she flew high, and she flew low, until she Came upon, on the face of the waters, a little airline-size bottle of vodka. Trembling, she took the bottle into her beak, and flew back with it to the ark.
10: There, Noah, still holding the barrel of his .44 to the different-one dove’s Head, grabbed with his other hand the airline bottle, unscrewed the top, and then Poured the contents down his throat.
11: “Glory be!”, Noah then said unto the Lord. “Liquor!”
12: Just then, the ark bumped into land. And so the endless Voyage, yea verily, it was over.
13: And then the Lord said unto Noah, “All your trials, No-Man, be over. And now I shall place into the sky, a boozebow, as a sign that never again shall I deprive a man of liquor.”
15: And so, to this day, whenever a man has ballooned himself with liquor, yea verily, unto a BA of .23 of so, he beholds, passing across what remains of his Vision, one or more boozebows, these a sign that the Lord has promised that never again shall he drown the world’s booze supply beneath the Waters.
16: And that the trembling dove, she brought back to Noah the first airline bottle of Vodka, this is why she was Permitted to remain white, and stands to this day as a Symbol of Peace, and Goodness, and Loveliness; and why every year, commencing on September 1, Americans go out with their Firearms, and blast the doves out of the Sky. And then pluck them, and Eat them.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
9:1 And it came to pass that as soon as the ark struck Land, Noah, he did kick open the door, and then splash out into the still receding surf, his hands Flapping crazily at his sides, a-search for the nearest 7-11.
2: And Noah did enter a 7-11, and there came upon a case of Liquor, and this he took back with him. Where, in the shadow of the ark, he hastily pitched a tent. And then crawled inside it. And there, within its confines, he proceeded to Down the bottles of liquor, two by two.
3: And Noah became totally shit-faced. And he did pass out into drunken slumber, his robe in such disarray that his pee-pee hung out.
4: And Ham, Noah’s son, he was bitterly splashing through the receding waters, realizing, belatedly, that the Lord had drowned all the women in the world, and that therefore his own pee-pee was Useless as tits on a boar hog, and would forever be employed at naught but passing water.
6: And Ham went unto his brothers, and said, “Come look at this. The drunken old goat is in his booze-wallow snoring away with his pee-pee hanging out.”
7: But Ham’s brothers, they were Afraid of the pee-pee, and so they walked backward, like in a film spooled wrong, into the Tent, and there they Heaved a blanket over Noah’s drunken old shriveled pee-pee.
8: And one or more of the brothers, they did Rat Out brother Ham to Noah, saying, “Father, Ham saw your pee-pee. And he told us to look at it too.”
9: And Noah, he was Drunkenly filled with Wrath. And so, for the crime of Unauthorized Pee-Pee Viewing, Noah did pronounce a Curse.
10: But Noah, he was so fucking drunk, that he pronounced the Curse on Ham’s son, Canaan, rather than on Ham himself. Maybe because, when you’re really drunk, it’s harder to enunciate “Ham,” than simply slur “Canaan.”
11: And it came to pass that Nimrods invented first Christianity, and then Islam. And that psychotic yeehaw mouthbreathers among them hallucinated that this “curse of Noah” had enveloped Ham in black skin, and Decreed that he and his—black people—serve as slaves, until the End of days.
12: And the psychotic yeehaw mouthbreathers saw that it was Good. ‘Cause from it they made a lot of money.
13: And, yea verily, in pursuit of money, it later came to pass that it was determined that a film of Noah would Be “boffo box office.”
14: And so the Lords of film finance, they did Say, “For Noah, we will get Russell Crowe: he is a rampaging Australian who is frequently as drunk as Noah. Also, half the women on the planet have crawled into Crowe’s tent and there viewed his pee-pee. It will be type-casting.”
15: And when the film was completed, the psychotic yeehaw mouthbreather Christians and Muslims, they wandered the Land, weeping and shrieking and rending their garments and even, yea verily, exploding their heads. Because not once in the film is the word “God” uttered. And to these Nimrods, this was anathema.
16: Because these Nimrods, psychotic and yeehaw and mouthbreather as they are, did not Understand that the film’s director, Darren Aronofksy, is Jewish, and thereby forbidden from inscribing the full name of God, much less in a film script, lest he risk fire, brimstone, plague, frogs, locusts, blood-rivers . . . or even waking up in a tent, from out of a booze coma, to find people staring at his pee-pee.
I been thinkin’ what to do with my future. I could be a mud doctor. Checkin’ out the earth underneath.
—Days of Heaven
His weariness with things was frightening; it smacked of obliteration, a wall of anger and fatigue that felt as though it might sweep him into nothingness. Worst of all was loneliness.
There were times when he was capable of rejoicing in himself as a singularity—a man without a story, secure from tribal delusion, able to see the many levels. But at other times he felt that he might give anything to be able to explain himself. To call himself Jew or Greek, Gentile or otherwise, the citizen of no mean city. But he had no recourse except to call himself an American and hence the slave of possibility. He was not always up for the necessary degree of self-invention, unprepared, occasionally, to assemble himself.
And sometimes the entire field of folk seemed alien and hostile, driven by rages he could not comprehend, drunk on hopes he could not imagine. So he could make his way only through questioning, forever inquiring of wild-eyed obsessives the nature of their dreams, their assessment of themselves and their enemies, listening agreeably while they poured scorn on his ignorance and explained the all too obvious. When he wrote, it was for some reader like himself, a bastard, party to no covenants, promised nothing except the certainty of silence overhead, darkness around. Sometimes he had to face the simple fact that he had nothing and no one and try to remember when that had seemed a source of strength and perverse pride. Sometimes it came back for him.
—Robert Stone, Damascus Gate
(Something I reprint every now and again. Usually around this season. First appeared here.)
* * *
In my Father’s house are many mansions.
Christmastime again is here, and so be Santa, and so be Jesus.
A couple years ago, in contemplating Santa and Jesus, the two began to get confused in my mind. Santa Claus, for reasons that have never really been explained, devotes each year to overseeing minute laborers who fashion gifts which he annually delivers, in a single night, to all deserving children the world over. Jesus Christ, for reasons that have been variously explained, roamed for a short time across a relatively minute plot of land, uttering gnomic wisdoms, then was seized and subjected to excruciating suffering, so that all, deserving and undeserving alike, might be gifted with salvation.
When a sprout, I was taught that while Santa’s labors never end—a yearly, year-long grind—Jesus’ was a one-shot gig. Wander around Palestine, ascend the cross, into the tomb, three days later out again, brief appearances before various friends and lovers, then up to heaven for a well-deserved eternal rest.
I no longer believe that. I believe that, as is set forth here, “Jesus Christ suffers from now until the end. On the cross. He goes on suffering. Until the death of the last human being.” That is the mystic meaning of his tale: he suffers with all beings suffering in the exile of existence. And we are called upon to do the same—to grow to empathy, so that thy neighbor truly is thyself, and suffering everywhere, for everyone, may be eased. With this meaning there is no need for the resurrection. All of us are him, doing the same work; our work, his work, never ends.
For those who are wedded to the resurrection, the advances in science and philosophy in my lifetime, in the understanding of the multiple dimensions and multiple worlds about us, too mean that his work never ends. For the planets, it is now known, are innumerable, and so are the dimensional variations of this one. And if salvation is indeed his calling, he will forever be busy as twelve bastards, for there are those who need saving, inhabiting every one.
Two years ago round this time, while mooning about on YouTube, I discovered that a Criminal had posted therein the film Holiday Affair, and in its entirety.
This is of course Against All Laws.
But this Criminal had managed for some months to cleverly evade the hapless Clem Kadiddlehopper II, the sadsack in charge, such as it is, of YouTube security.
Naturally I was compelled to share this joyous theft with red readers.
Here we are, two years later, and the thing is still up there.
Let us not wonder at the reasons why. Just enjoy, then, instead.
As I mentioned then, my daughter, the well-known award-winning deviant, and I, are both keen appreciators of Christmas movies. Particularly old black-and-white Christmas movies. And one of the more obscure black-and-white holiday films of which we are fond, is this one: Holiday Affair, a 1947 effort featuring Janet Leigh, Robert Mitchum, Wendell Corey, and a toy train.
What I find most fascinating, in recent re-viewing, is the train. It opens the film, and also pretty much drives it. Towards the close of the thing, even some of the characters are beginning to notice, and then comment upon, how much this toy train is steering their lives. At film’s end the three principals unite, happy-ending time, on a full-size train, a New Year’s special, headed cross-country. Except the camera pulls back, and we learn that they are not on a full-size train at all. They are on that toy train, the one that opened and drove the story.
As they say: as above, so below. And vice versa.
Sam [Peckinpah] would simply hole up on the weekends with a whiskey bottle. So we went to him and said, “Come, on, Sam! We’re only a few hours drive from Venice. Let’s go look at the gondolas.” Sam came along. But when he got to his hotel in Venice, he went straight upstairs and stayed there.
The next day, in the lobby of the hotel, I ran into Federico Fellini. I told him Sam was upstairs. Fellini insisted on being taken to meet him. He said Peckinpah was one of his favorite directors.
So, we went upstairs. I knocked on Sam’s door. Sam growled, “Who is it?” I said it was me. He said to come in. We walked in. He was lying stark naked on top of his bed with a bottle in his hand. “Sam,” I said, “I’d like you to meet Federico Fellini.”
Sam opened his eyes, sat straight up in bed, said, “Thank you so very much for giving us all those wonderful films,” and fell back on the bed again.
And that was the historic meeting of two great directors.
An absolutely True story of Christmas.
—I have more Hair later, than when I was younger.
—I am deeply complicit, in my own Erasure.
F. Scott Fitzgerald saw it. To the bottom of every bottle. Which, early—44—killed him.
No matter. He got it right. Wrote the Great American Novel. The Great Gatsby. Which ends with this:
Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away. Until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther . . . . And one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
The green light, it will never be attained, as Fitzgerald knew, on this continent, by white people. Because they do not belong here. It was a mistake, for them to ever to have come. To this place. Because it is not their place.
The green light, they can bask in it—the white people—when, “boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” they return to from where they came. Where they should, forever, have remained.
the little bird; all that there is
We now know the genesis of addled actor Clint Eastwood’s “talk to the chair” routine at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
This is the Diamond number that contains the notorious foursome:
i am, i said
to no one there
and no one heard at all
not even the chair
This last line is one of the great clunkers in all of songwriting. People active and practiced in the craft, to this day they cannot understand why persons and/or sound machines emitting such a travesty are not pelted with tomatoes, squash, eggplant, and other rotting substances.
I mean, yeah, the guy needed a rhyme for “there.” And, in this tune, Diamond is deeply afunk in Bummertude. Because he ain’t being listened to. About the crushing burden of having to live in Los Angeles, rather than New York. In order to earn eleventy-billion dollars in the music business.
So sure, okay, we get it, nobody’s listening to him bleat.
And, among the nobodies, can be counted a chair.
But, like, had the chair ever heard him? When he was moaning about having to earn more money than Midas, out in LA, rather than in New York? Was it normal for the chair to give ear, when he was on about such things? Was this like . . . a magic chair?
Or, since we are talking 1971 here, a drug chair? A chair that, when Mr. Diamond delved into the many fine psychoactive substances of the time, heard and talked and danced and sang and otherwise engaged in all manner of merry wonderful weirdness?
We receive no information about any of this. All we know is that the chair doesn’t hear him.
And this is not surprising. Because a chair—unless it is a drug chair, and/or a quantum physics chair—is not equipped with aural apparati. Hearing is not what a chair is supposed to be about. The thing is there but to plant your butt on.
No. Sorry to say, what we must here reluctantly conclude, is that Diamond was a lazy-ass mofo. Who just settled on some “chair,” not hearing him, because he was too slothful and/or thickheaded to come up with any other rhyme for “there.”
And it is said that the man spent four months writing that song.
And in all that time the best he could up with was “not even the chair”? The mind: it reels.
Today, while driving, it took me about four minutes to come up with about fourteen alternatives.
For instance, if Diamond had not been suffering from a city-disability, and were singing instead from or about some country place Normal, then various and sundry animals could have been mustered not to hear him. We could have had “not even the bear” or “not even the hare” or “not even the mare.” Who were not hearing the guy.
Or he could have complained “not even Aunt Clare,” which would also have allowed him to go wild with banjos in the break. Or “in all County Klare,” which would have permitted him to pour a thundering wall of bagpipes into the song.
Since Diamond at the time was riding a wave of songs in which he praised unrestrained bibulation—”Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Red, Red Wine,” etc.—he could have referenced his ongoing rednoseness by admitting “and no one heard at all/when I tripped on the stair.”
He could have been all stoic, and defiantly proclaimed: “and I did not care.” He could have gone dada, and pronounced: “so I ate a pear.” Or strayed into Isaac Hayes territory, with “so I porked the au pair.” He could have envisioned the onrushing cult of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and come out as a crossdresser, boasting “so I shaved with Nair.”
And so on.
Anywho. Clint—fast-forward to 2012—is there in his hotel room, when suddenly the extraterrestrials—who, as has previously been documented here on red, owned and controlled the GOoPer portion of the 2012 presidential campaign—bring to him over the radio Diamond declaiming about the obdurate chair that will not hear.
And Clint, he experiences a truly massive brainshower. He will go on stage, with a chair, and pretend it is President Obama. And, like the Diamond chair, the Obama chair, when Clint pours out upon it his complaints, it will just sit there; it will neither hear, nor respond.
This brainshower, it will be remembered, when it was spewed out across the land, was considered a laff riot by that 23% of the American population that occupies what is today the equivalent of Dogpatch.
“Way to put it to the black man, Clint!” the Dogpatchians, they squealed like a pig. “Yeehaw!”
However, those of us who have not married or otherwise had sexual congress with our sisters, and/or other blood relatives, we had quite a different reaction.
Not even the Captain Underpants people, it developed, not even they, could easily stomach the chair scene. Literally, they could not stomach it. Senior Underpants advisor Stuart Stevens, it is said, vomited. While the Neil-inspired Eastwood, he was dying there, on stage, with the chair. Stevens, he wished that, like in the Diamond song, no one would hear Clint. At all. Not even the chair.
It was the astute AvoWoman who first pointed out to me that this speech was not the first time that Eastwood had publicly addressed wood products.
Oh no. For way back in 1969, Eastwood wandered around on screen, “singing,” in the film Paint Your Wagon, “I Talk To The Trees.”
And even back then, the wood gave ol’ Clint the deaf ear.
And it was not only the trees. But every other blessed natural element, as well.
I talk to the trees
But they don’t listen to me
I talk to the stars
But they never hear me
The breeze hasn’t time
To stop and hear what I say
I talk to them all in vain
Be warned. Beyond the furthur, I shall embed Mr. Eastwood. “Singing.” Not only that, I shall also embed, from the same film, Lee Marvin, also “singing.” And this last, some say, is the aural equivalent of the Holocaust.
i am here with the range for everything
corpuscle muscle hair
hands that need the rub of metal
those senses that
that want to crash things with an axe
that listen to deep buried veins in our palms
those who move in dreams over your women night
near you, every paw, the invisible hooves
the mind’s invisible blackout the intricate never
the body’s waiting rut
—Michael Ondaatje, The Collected Works Of Billy The Kid