Archive for June, 2012

Presidential Timber

What was worse, the Cat could be pretty offensive. Like the time he popped bouncily out of a pregnant womb during an obstetrics lecture at John Hopkins, or his feeding of the rats in the city ghettos, or the time he dropped six planeloads of unsweetened chocolate pies on Disneyland. Taking a crap onstage in a sandbox while addressing the Daughters of the American Revolution in Boston didn’t go over very big either. His nakedness was a minor problem from the outset, of course, but cats are cats—or so we argued until that Sunday morning in October when he carried a stiff red peenie through all the churches in Indianapolis, crying:

“Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how!”

—Robert Coover, A Political Fable 


“Do you know why we lost the war?” Peter asked.

“Why did you lose the war?”

“It was explained to me by an old man. We were hiking in the Alps. We were on a high meadow surrounded by wildflowers when we stopped to eat. The subject of the war came up. He said the Nazis had committed ‘excesses,’ but the real reason Germany lost the war was because of sabotage. There were workers in the munitions factories who deliberately degraded the gunpowder in the shells to make our weapons ineffective. Otherwise we would have been able to hold out for an honorable peace. He described the grandfathers and boys fighting in the ruins of Berlin, stabbed in the back by those saboteurs. It was years later when I learned that those saboteurs were Russians and Jews, slave labor being starved to death while they worked. I remembered the flowers, the wonderful view, the tears in his eyes.”

—Martin Cruz Smith, Red Square

I’m Not Sleeping

There are many flowers here at the Manor. Roses, jasmine, violets, camellias, lavender, iris, purple vetch (unfortunate name, that), scotch broom, calla lily, alyssum, verbena, and many more, that I cannot identify, because I am no expert in flowers. I do know that I like them, and that every couple days or so, I pick some, and place them here and there around the Manor, in the Shrine, and elsewhere.

Several days ago several strange and unusual flowers appeared on a tree. There are several such trees here, and they certainly do not look like the sort of tree that would produce a flower. Yet, there the flowers were. They appeared on the branch that is the very closest to the Manor front porch. How convenient. So I could just reach right out and pick them, if I wanted to. Then take them into the house.

But I am not going to pick these goddam things. And I’m certainly not going to bring them into the house. Because I think they’re pods.

We know from the 1978 documentary film Invasion of the Body Snatchers that a plant-like alien life form, drifting through space, made landfall in the San Francisco Bay Area sometime in the 1970s, and there rapidly replicated and replaced most of the humans.

It happened in this way.

The aliens, once on earth, arranged themselves into cunning little flowers, which the humans would pick and take home. Then, while the humans slept, the plants would transform themselves into large human-sized pods, and then into the humans themselves. They would then suck the life-force out of the humans, “becoming” the humans, and the original humans would crumble into dust, and be swept up and placed in the garbage.

That so many of the humans in that area of the planet became so selfish, self-absorbed, and narcissistic around that time, is explained by the fact that they had become pods. The term for that time was “The Me Generation.” But it really should have been “The Pod Generation.”

Whether, and/or how far, poddom spread from the Bay Area and into the rest of the world, this has never been definitively determined. I believe that these alleged “flowers,” here in the Manor trees, mark an eastward push for the pod people. And I want nothing to do with them.

I mean, why, out of all the many branches, on all the many trees, did the pod flowers just happen to appear first on the branch most accessible to me? Because they are pods. And they were hoping I was ignorant of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers revelation, and would therefore delightedly, dumbly, pick one, bring it into the house, and there unwittingly succumb to poddom.


That I saw through them, this has pissed them off. For there are now hundreds of these pod flowers in these trees.

And my neighbors, I think, are beginning to behave strangely.

Pods get you when you sleep. So, as U2 says in “Bad,” “I’m not sleeping.”

At the dawn of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers documentary, a pod teacher is leading a group of still-human children through a park, there encouraging them to pick pod flowers, to take home to their parents, so that children and parents both may join the ranks of the pods. Coldly observing this Outrage, from a swing, is Robert Duvall, a pod priest.

We know that Robert Duvall became a pod, because, although once Boo Radley and Augustus McRae, he now spends his days down in Argentina, there crudely bellowing about the benefits of “macho,” and grousing that Francis Ford Coppola cut from Apocalypse Now scenes that would have shown that his character in that film, the nutbomb Colonel Kilgore, was actually “good.”

There is a swing hanging from a tree at the front of the Manor. If I go out on the porch some morning, and see Robert Duvall sitting in that swing, I will know that all is over.

Welcome to Walmeth

It’s time to just rename Walmart, Walmeth. I mean, that’s what people seem to do in there. Manufacture methamphetamine. So why not be up-front about it? Truth in advertising.

Back in December, one Elizabeth Alisha Greta Halfmoon strode into a Tulsa, Oklahoma Walmart and there set up shop, brewing herself some Hitler hooch. Six hours later, she was still at it. Apparently your common Walmeth is so vast and cavernous that it requires many hours for store employees to notice that someone is transforming it into a laboratory.

Now, at the time, one might have been tempted to dismiss this as an Oklahoma thing. For it is known that the people of Oklahoma, they are not the same, as you and I. For instance, they have dispatched to Washington DC to represent them in the United States Senate, Tom Coburn, who is a Cro-Magnon Man.

However, it must now be admitted that Walmeth is a nationwide phenomenon. Seeing as how a woman in St. Louis, Missouri felt compelled to wander round her local Walmeth with a “shake and bake” meth lab in her purse.

When it was discovered that the woman was a roving free-lance chemist, people were filled with Fear.

St. Louis County Police Lt. Mark Cox said if the meth concoction had spilled or leaked, it would have quickly circulated through the store’s ventilation system, contaminating the building and sickening lots of people.

“The sergeant on the scene that helped to dismantle it said that it was cooking when they showed up, and had the potential to become flammable or blow up at any time,” he said.

Security initially pulled the woman and another man aside for shoplifting. Those items were not meth-making ingredients, although Lt. Cox said that investigators wearing gas masks did find pills and chemicals inside a car in the parking lot.

Walmethian shoppers were evacuated from the lab until the Danger could be contained. There they were accosted by newsbeings.

“It’s kind of scary,” one woman said as she stood behind the yellow police tape, waiting for the all-clear to return to her car. “I’m just kind of astonished that somebody would come up here with a meth lab in their purse. And be dumb enough to shoplift on top of it.”

Au contraire. Dumbness too often veritably defines the nation. To wit, the president of the place, [s]elected first in 2000, and then again in 2004.

Bless The Beasts And The Children

The young’un cat, for reasons that are not at all clear to me, has decided to go the full barbarian. Living with him is like having Attila the Hun in the house. The folks at Uncyclopedia describe Attila as a being who “made men shit in their togas, bar the doors to churches and look up to heaven for help.” Yeah. It’s like that.

Earlier adventures of this absolute animal may be found here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here. But all that is as nothing, compared to his most recent forays into the annals of Outrage.

For instance, the other day I wander into the bathroom to find him employing his unusually dexterous monkey paws to savagely unroll all the toilet paper off the roll. He had a completely crazed look on his face during the entire procedure. Occasionally he would pause in his labors to sink his teeth into the helpless tissue, ripping and rending and shredding and tearing. Then, when he had finished, he turned and began wantonly sniffing the toilet.

There simply was not enough medication in the Manor to deal with this spectacle. “The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report,” just how 5th Century this was. All I can do is mutely offer the photographic evidence of this Hunic display.

I think I am going to have to get in touch with this Genevieve person. It is said that when Attila set about besieging Paris, round about 451 CE, she managed to summon some juju that caused the Hun to cease and desist in his barbarian ways. I need some of this juju. Please, dear Genevieve, dispatch to the Manor said juju, post-haste.

Jump In The Line

Oh no. Goodness. Dear Me. Physicists and philosophers. They’re fighting with one another.

Stephen Hawking has decreed that philosophy is “dead.” Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg dismisses philosophy as “murky and inconsequential” and of no use whatsoever to the goddom of Science. When a paper by physicist Laurence Krauss was savaged by philosopher David Albert, Krauss denounced Albert as “moronic,” and shrugged that “philosophy, unlike physics, makes no progress and is rather boring, if not totally useless.” A little bit of an “oops” here is that Albert is also a physicist.

Now, I like physics. And I like philosophy. But that doesn’t mean that practitioners of both can’t be silly. And silly these people definitely are being.

This debate was settled, and years ago. By Bob Dylan. Physicist and philosopher. Who, in “Desolation Row,” wrote:

the Titanic sails at dawn
everybody’s shouting
“which side are you on?”
Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot
fighting in the captain’s tower

while calypso singers laugh at them
and fishermen hold flowers 

All Out Beyond Horizon

My daddy was a union man. Represented by CWA. Communication Workers of America.

We’re talking mid- to late ’60s. Feisty, the union, then.

Every two years or so, almost like clockwork, a strike.

During which we, in this here family, didn’t eat too good. Always Ma Bell would push the CWA to a place where the people of its workers didn’t eat too good. Where the union reserves had run out. Where my daddy was repairing, for money to feed us, the tennis courts and the swimming pools of the father of my best friend; my best friend, Steve. Steve’s father a doctor, a professional, undisturbed by union roilings.

It was in these days, that I learned about class. Where my daddy, sweating buckets, so that we might eat, labored at the bottom of a hole, so that I might eat boiled peas, brought up from the bottom of a pool, excavated for pleasure, for my best friend.

Understanding, here, class—even before I was precluded, several years later, from dating the young women, grown from young girls, that I had known all my life. Because the place I had come from, was from the wrong side of the tracks. Can’t be with those, can’t date those women. No-no-no.

It has always been fashionable, to dis Leon Trotsky.

Not, though, with me.

To this day, I still burn to the man, a candle.

Even as in these days he is especially maligned, because American nincompoops who once identified themselves as people of Trotsky, have in the past 20-30 years or so mutated into “neo-conservatives.”

I have never understood how people made such a transition. For what Trotsky stood for, was this: revolution, everywhere.

It was his understanding, his belief, that no one, anywhere, would get much of anywhere, unless everybody else, did, too.

And then, out of nowhere, the truth of Trotsky, suddenly and amusingly reborn, as Tuesday night the inevitable results rolled in from Wisconsin.

With the gobbledy-geek Scott Walker prevailing, because public employees, protected by unions, had been successfully disaffected from the mass of the people.

Once upon a time, in this country, it was “when once big union day.”

Unionization began in the private sector. With sweat and toil and blood. Only later, did unions envelop public-sector employees.

These days, the pirates of capital have long since succeeded in sucking all life-blood from unions in the private sector. There, they barely exist.

Unions hang on, these days, in this country, in public-sector unions. And these unions just didn’t do much, over the past 30-odd years, as private-sector unions all around them, ended.

Come June 5, and everybody expecting “one big union day.” No. So many Wisconsin people long before succubussed into resentment of unions, much less “one big union day.”

All that started dying more than 30 years ago. GOoPers saw that. Dems didn’t. As unions retreated to their enclaves and hidey-holes and declivities and ghettos. No more “one big union day.” Little tiny timid tuck-holes, instead.

Leon Trotsky, icepick embedded in his brain or no, remains right. Either everybody, everywhere, free. Or it’s all no good at all.

What if the world has moved post-union, as it has moved post-national, post-christian, and post-terran? What, in work-space, should be proposed then?

and i will hang my head hang my head low
and i will hang my head hang my head low
and i will hang my head hang my head low
and i will hang my head hang my head low
and i will hang my head hang my head low
and i will hang my head hang my head low

Stop Making Sense

“But what was there in my dream that interests you so much? It made no sense, like all dreams!”

“It had another sense, like all dreams, and visions. It must be read as an allegory, or an analogy.”

“Like Scripture?”

“A dream is a scripture, and many scriptures are nothing but dreams.”

—Umberto Eco, The Name Of The Rose

U R Doing It Wrong

One still, however, encounters what one might call the “Magwitch Great Iron” paradox in popular narrative—that is, stories which trade on audience ignorance about “extreme” physical activities.

Few have scaled mountains. In the film Cliffhanger, Sylvester Stallone is shown catching with one hand the wrist of a falling companion as she hurtles down. This is, I would guess, physically impossible (even with biceps as well developed as Stallone’s). Either the grasp would slip, or the climbers’ shoulders would be wrenched from their sockets.

Ice tobogganing is another thrilling sport which only an elite of sportsmen practice, although most of us have seen it on TV. In the James Bond thriller On Her Majesty’s Secret Service a villain dies horribly when he pitches on to a toboggan run and slides to the bottom—by which time he is hamburger. It was later pointed out to Ian Fleming that a human body on a toboggan run would not slither more than three yards before stopping.

As with mountaineering and tobogganing, few members of a film audience have first-hand experience of sky-diving. In a spectacular stunt in Eraser, Arnold Schwarzenegger overtakes as he drops from a plane the parachute which was thrown out many seconds earlier. Is this not against the laws of physics? Objects, however heavy, fall at the same rate. Although he can alter his aerodynamic configuration to go faster (by adopting a forward dive position and lessening air resistance), Arnold could never streamline himself into a narrower mass than the parachute—and he would have to spend precious seconds adjusting for the lateral distance created by the time interval between the pack’s being dropped and his jumping from the plane. Schwarzenegger would make a sizeable crater in the ground many seconds after the parachute bounced to rest on its surface, some half-a-mile away.

—John Sutherland, Can Jane Eyre Be Happy?

Sometimes Your Name Really Is Mud

In the ancient past, the Seine spread throughout the entire bowl-shaped valley that now forms the Paris region, and at one time, it split into two arms. To the south, the slightly wider branch roughly followed the river’s present-day path. To the north, an arc of water swept across what is now the Right Bank, through Bastille, Menilmontant, parts of Belleville, and lower Montmartre. It reached all the way to the present-day locations of Chaillot and L’Alma, just across the river from the Eiffel Tower. When these two branches flooded, the whole basin filled to become a lake several miles wide. Little by little, the northern arm of the Seine dried up, and by 30,000 BCE, it had vanished completely, leaving more or less the Seine we know today. Large parts of the Right Bank remained wetlands for some time. The neighborhood called the Marais—which means “the swamp”—was once a marsh adjacent to the river. It is no wonder that when the Romans first invaded the area inhabited by the Parisii tribe in the first century BCE, they chose to construct their city on the less soggy Left Bank. No wonder either that they named the city Lutetia, likely derived from lutum, the Latin word for mud.

—Jeffrey H. Jackson, Paris Under Water

The Secret Life Of Plants

During the Great Madness of 2010, when the lords and ladies of teabaggery did loudly drag their knuckles across the land, we were treated to the spectacle of one Sharron Angle, a homo moronicus so deeply de-evolved she was unable even to correctly spell her first name.

From out of the desert, she did come, to warn the people that fluoridation would sap their precious bodily fluids. She wished to go to Washington DC, there to cleanse the waters, and also to revive Prohibition, meanwhile publicly fellating the likes of Augusto Pinochet, because, you know, “sometimes dictators have good ideas,” and therefore they should be Rewarded.

But alas, the people of Nevada, in the end they decided they would prefer Ms. Angle keep to her own good froot loop, and refrain from representing them, as US senator, in the nation’s capital.

It was only after her campaign had run its course—that is, into the ditch—that we learned how truly peculiar be this woman and her people. We were informed, for instance, that nominally sane members of the Nevada Republican Party referred to Angle’s “brain trust” as “The Island Of Misfit Toys.” And that although we had known heretofore that Angle was allergic to the media—sometimes, when she saw them coming, she would literally run, and faster than Richard Pryor with his body on fire—we now discovered that Angle actually considered them The Enemy.

For her campaign workers were put through a three-hour indoctrination course, in which they were vouchsafed details of a Secret Code they were to use, when Enemies, like the media, were believed to be about.

To wit: “If anyone came into the office who looked like a Democrat, a Reid supporter or a member of the media—they all look alike!—[the] order was to dial a certain extension in front of the interloper and say, ‘It’s time to water the plants.'”

At the time, I believed this to be a code peculiar to Angle alone.

But no longer. For last night, perusing a Certified Ala Tome, I was confronted with evidence indicating that Angle probably came to this code by way of the Camorra, an organized-crime outfit originally out of southern Italy, but now Known to be active in Nevada; that is, the land of mutant sand, wherein the rough beast of Ms. Angle was born.

Remember: truly: there are no coincidences.

Here is the Revelation, from The Camorra In Italy, by Arthur Train:

In all there are said to be about five thousand words in the Camorrist vocabulary; but a large number of these are simply Neapolitan slang, for inventing which every Neapolitan has a gift.

No more interesting example of this slang has ever come to light than in the secret diary of Tobia Basile (nicknamed “Scarpia Leggia”) who, after serving thirty years in prison, returned to the haunts of men to teach the picciotti the forms and ceremonies of the society and to instruct them in its secret language. This strange old man, more literate than most Camorrists, kept a diary in the ancient symbolism of the brotherhood. Having become bored by his wife he murdered her, walled her body up in the kitchen, and recorded what he had done, thus:

May 1, “The violets are out.”
May 7, “Water to the beans.”
June 11, “I have pruned my garden.”
Aug. 10, “How beautiful is the sun.”
Sept. 12, “So many fine sheep are passing.”

Time passed, and a contractor, rebuilding the wall, came upon the corpse. Tobia denied his guilt, but his diary was found, as well as a Camorrist translator. “Water to the beans.” That beautiful metaphor was shown to mean naught else but “I have killed and buried her.” And in the face of his own diary Tobia admitted the accuracy of his record. “Water to the beans.”

So. It is good that the Angleoids determined it was but “time to water the plants.” For if they had chosen instead to bring “water to the beans,” there would have been a bloodbath. Many walls would have needed to be excavated, to extract the remains of media-beings gone missing.

Maybe next election. For Achtung Angle, she has vowed to, at some point, slouch from out of the waterless wastes, to seek elective office once more.

When I Worked

June 2012