Archive for October 25th, 2009

A Long Way From Semper Fi

US Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North is emerging now as the Charles Manson figure in this hideous scandal that crawls like a plague of maggots on the White House.

Oliver North apparently moved into the White House basement about five years ago and turned himself into something worse than the mad Dr. Frankenstein . . . frankHe was given control of everything he could reach, from the president of Israel and secret US Army bank accounts in Switzerland to the CIA and George Bush and the home phone number of the Chinese defense minister.

Gordon Liddy was the Bad Boy in the Watergate crowd—the meanest of the mean—but all he did was commit a few burglaries, shred some papers and shoot out a street light in front of McGovern for President headquarters on Capitol Hill.

That was in the good old days, when real men were still running the White House and the president roamed the hallways at night with a beaker of gin in his fist, raving and jabbering at huge oil portraits of Abe Lincoln and John Philip Sousa while Henry Kissinger followed him around and made notes.

Gordon Liddy was cruel, but he never did anything even remotely like running a neo-Nazi shadow government out of the White House basement, skimming millions of dollars off the top of illegal arms sales to hostile foreign governments or selling weapons to a hate-crazed international terrorist like the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, who was paying North millions of dollars for TOW missiles with one handtrue north while admittedly using the other to finance the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks in Lebanon, which killed nearly 300 of North’s people.

Not even Tex Colson sold bombs and rockets to crazed Persian maniacs who used them to kill his own kind—and not even Kissinger would have put his arm around him and said, “Well done.”

This is a long way from “Semper Fi,” and there is a steel bed with D-rings already reserved at Bethesda for the eventual presence of Ollie North.

—Hunter S. Thompson, Generation of Swine


Sartre’s Crabs

From Talking With Sartre: Conversations and Debates, a selection of interviews with Jean-Paul Sartre by John Gerassi, from the 1970s, to be published this fall by Yale University Press. Translated from the French by the good folks at Harper’s.

After I took mescaline, I started seeing crabs around me all the time. They followed me in the streets, into class. I got used to them. I would wake up in the morning and say, “Good morning, my little ones, how did you sleep?” I would talk to them all the time. I would say, “Okay, guys, we’re going into class now, so we have to be still and quiet,” and they would be there, around my desk, absolutely still, until the bell rang.

The crabs really began when my adolescence ended. At first, I avoided them by writing about them—in effect, by defining life as nausea—but then as soon as I tried to objectify it, the crabs appeared. nauseaAnd then they appeared whenever I walked somewhere. Not when I was writing, just when I was going someplace. The crabs stayed with me until the day I simply decided that they bored me and that I just wouldn’t pay attention to them.

I would have liked my crabs to come back. The crabs were mine. I had gotten used to them. They kept reminding me that my life was absurd, yes, nauseating, but without challenging my immortality. Despite their mocking, my crabs never said that my books would not be on the shelf, or that if they were, so what?

They left me during the war. You know, I’ve never said this before, but sometimes I miss them—when I’m lonely, or rather when I’m alone. When I go to a movie that ends up boring, or not very gripping, and I remember how they used to sit there on my leg. Of course I always knew that they weren’t there, that they didn’t exist, but they served an important purpose. They were a warning that I wasn’t thinking correctly or focusing on what was important, or that I was heading up the wrong track, all the while telling me that my life was not right, not what it should be. Well, no one tells me that anymore.

When I Worked

October 2009
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