Hey, hey, my, my

November 22, 2019

Old man, look at my life, I’m a lot like you were.

Neil Young is still rockin’ in the free world.

Donny Appleseed

November 21, 2019

The new MacTrump. Noisy as hell, only runs Twitter, and costs a bazillion dollars. But it’s Made in USA®. Winning!

“Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America,” tweets the Tweeter-in-Chief.

Except he didn’t. And it won’t.

The plant, which employs about 500 workers to assemble one of Apple’s most expensive computers for its least extensive customer base, and is not even an Apple plant, has been manufacturing Mac Pros since 2013. The only reason it’s still doing so is because Apple sought — and got — waivers for Tweety’s tariffs.

But Apple didn’t get off scot-free. According to The Verge, “Apple is currently paying tariffs on a number of Mac Pro parts, which must be imported from China to Texas before the final device can be assembled.” Whether Apple receives further relief remains a matter for submission … er, negotiation.

Meanwhile, the stuff that people actually buy — iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and the Apple Watch — is made in China. So, uh, like, the winning, an’ stuff, eh, not so much.

And while Tweety sang his little song Apple honcho Tim Cook stood there like a mannequin, “stone-faced” and “silently,” according to Jack Nicas of The New York Times.

Notes John Gruber at Daring Fireball:

This is how Apple chose to unveil the packaging for the Mac Pro — in a poorly-shot overexposed propaganda video by the White House, scored with bombastic music that sounds like it came from an SNL parody of a Michael Bay film. Think about how it feels to work on that team at Apple. A low moment in Apple’s proud history, and a sadly iconic moment for Tim Cook. I hope avoiding those tariffs is worth it.

What won’t stay down, must come up

November 20, 2019

“Patrick O’Grady to the white courtesy phone. …”

Well, this has been quite the week.

Herself the Elder came to town Saturday with Beth, the eldest daughter, and the next few days were your basic whirlwind of activity: getting her settled in the assisted-living place; acquiring and configuring a TV that was too smart for anyone’s good; rounding up an adjustable bed and all the other bits that make a room a home; doing battle with the medical-industrial complex; and meeting the staff and other residents.

It was going pretty smoothly, all things considered, until Monday evening, when I contracted some variety of nuclear gut-rumbler, and the less you know about that, the better.

Then Herself got it yesterday, which meant she couldn’t go to work this morning or drive Beth to the airport at 3:30 a.m. In the rain. Because it always rains at stupid-thirty when a fella who has spent the last 36 hours cuddling the commode suddenly finds himself drafted to drive to the airport at 3:30 a.m. In the rain.

Anyway, Herself the Elder and Beth seem to have dodged whatever floored me and Herself, so, yay. We are taking light refreshment and shambling around El Rancho Pendejo like the living dead. And I finally got caught up on HBO’s “Watchmen,” if getting caught up means continuing to wonder just what in the sweet holy motherfuck this thing is about.

Now I have to catch up on the news, which likewise. Pray for me.

Preview of coming attractions

November 13, 2019

The impeachment inquiry has gone public, but I plan to resist the temptation to follow it extensively here, like a starveling coyote trailing a garbage truck.

My reasoning is that we’ll all read, watch, and hear a lot more than we care to elsewhere. Charlie Pierce is on the case, and I urge anyone who wants the bird’s-eye lowdown on this caper, whatever that means, to become a card-carrying member of his Shebeen.

Also, I imagine that we’re all mostly on the same page here — that the White House has become the Shite House, and that it’s turds all the way down. So I plan to preach to the choir only when I have some fresh take on the revelations.

Of artists and safety nets

November 13, 2019

No, your eyes do not deceive you. That is a story in the Colorado Springs Sun, mentioning President Nixon, written by Your Humble Narrator in the Year of Our Lord 1974.

Thank Cthulhu I’m not an artist like Russell Chatham. We hacks have a safety net.

Here’s mine: This past weekend, Herself signed me up to start collecting Socialist Insecurity payments beginning in March 2020. If I live that long, and assuming that Agent Orange doesn’t redirect all SS monies to his Wall or his wallet, I will receive a princely sum indeed, each and every month.

After accounting for inflation, it’s roughly equal to what I was paid as a copy boy back in 1974, when I first got into the writing racket.

I figure I can score a used Chevy Express 1500 for about 12 large. The monthly payments should take about 18 percent of my income, which sounds about right. The camping gear I’ve already got.

And parking down by the river? It’s free! Winning!

R.I.P., Russell Chatham

November 13, 2019

“Crazy Mountains in March” by Russell Chatham, 1991.

The IRS can’t get Russell Chatham now. He’s skedaddled with his paints and brushes, vamoosed to a secret place where his creditors will never find him.

His flight west hasn’t interested the big boys yet. The New York Times, once Johnny-on-the-spot when it came to obits, hasn’t uttered a peep.

But his old hometown newspaper finally got around to writing a little something, days after the San Francisco Chronicle noted his passing.

It was apparently the dementia that got him, among other things. Once a Montanan and rounder, an artist and writer whose running mates included the likes of Jim Harrison, Thomas McGuane, and Rick Bass, Chatham died Nov. 10 in a memory-care facility in Marin County, Calif. He was 80.

Chatham’s landscapes adorn many a book cover, when they aren’t busy elsewhere, selling for tens of thousands of dollars. Indeed, it’s hard to find a Harrison book without one, and he dedicated “Sundog” to Chatham.

The artist also makes frequent guest appearances in Harrison’s essays. While fly-fishing for billfish off Costa Rica both men contracted bad cases of turista, but Chatham’s was by far the champeen, if you believe Harrison. In “The Tugboats of Costa Rica,” he wrote:

“I shall never forget his pathetic yelp in the night as he pooped his bed during a feverish dream about trying to eat a giant Mindanao clam that wouldn’t stop moving,” Harrison wrote. “This artist is a walking field day for a psychotherapists’ convention.”

In his essay “Seasons Through the Net” McGuane described Chatham as “a man who has ruined his life with sport,” a relentless angler and shootist “who “skulks from his home at all hours with gun or rod.”

“Russ never thought of painting as a career. It was just something he did,” said McGuane.

Bass called him “the greatest living landscape painter in America, famous for his outlandish appetites for food, wine, travel, art, music, literature, and the sporting life.”

And Chatham? He was busy doing the somethings he did, sport and art. Working without a net. Everything else would have to take care of itself.

“I’m not a businessman,” he told Charles Schultz for the Point Reyes Light. “If any money crosses my path, it is gone faster than butter in an oven. I have no savings, no retirement. I have whatever’s in my wallet. To a lot of people that would be frightening.”

He added: “The artist has absolutely no safety net.”

This didn’t mean that he was unaware of the ground down there waiting for him. In a chat with Todd Wilkinson for the Mountain Journal, Chatham said:

“Early on, I was never concerned about having a career, so I didn’t have one. And now nothing could interest me less. But I think we all have a programmed tape running inside us, and most of mine is now stored on the right hand side of the cassette. I finally feel I know enough to paint what I could only dream about in my twenties. People say it’s time to slow down, relax, go fishing. Well, I took the first forty years of my life off and went fishing, and now my tape is telling me to finish what I was put on earth to do. Before, time didn’t matter. Now it does.”

It’s fish-thirty, Russell. Time to wet a line.

Channel surfing

November 12, 2019

TV or not TV? In this case, it’s definitely TV.

Any of yis care to weigh in with a recommendation for a new TV that’s not insane?

I’m hunting one for the mom-in-law, who needs it for the new digs. Nothing huge, probably a 43-incher or under, and preferably a model with easily navigated menus and a remote that doesn’t look like the dashboard of the Millennium Falcon. Just your basic Ralph Spoilsport model, a personal remote-controlled, picture-sized color TV, with matching brass knobs, the kind where you reach above the bar and press the button right there under the handy laminated imitation-masonite Wild West gun rack with the look of real wood, for the channel of your choice.

We’re dealing with the elderly and feeble-minded here, which is to say me, a guy who hasn’t set up a new TV in the better part of quite some time.

Thanks for the insurrection, and now back to our morning concert of afternoon showtime favorites — the Magic Bowl movement from Symphony in C Minus by Johann Amadeus Matetsky.

Veterans Day

November 11, 2019

This one goes out to every aging child who, come Veterans Day, misses the old man (or old lady, for that matter).

Or maybe you just miss Steve Goodman.

‘It’s stupid not to bike.’

November 9, 2019

Grandpa John whiled away his retirement making miniature pianos, replicas of JFK’s rocker, and other lovely bits of woodwork instead of riding a bicycle. For transportation he preferred a stately maroon Cadillac with a cream interior.

I don’t care to live in Copenhagen. The climate seems ill-suited to a worshipper of Tonatiuh who knows why his bog-trotting, ring-kissing, pub-crawling ancestors invented the uisce beatha.

My stepgrandfather on my mother’s side was a Dane, but he didn’t want to live in Copenhagen either. He lived in Sioux City, Iowa, where he was retired from the railroad and whiled away the hours drinking beer and smoking cigars, maintaining a medium-heavy vegetable garden in the back yard, and making lovely bits of this and that in a basement full of woodworking tools.

I don’t recall ever seeing Grandpa John aboard a bicycle, though he certainly had the leisure time for cycling. He drove a stately maroon Cadillac with a cream interior, because that’s what a fella did in America.

Which is a shame, really. Because if we hadn’t built our cities around Grandpa John’s stately maroon Cadillac with cream interior, The New York Times might be writing stories about Albuquerque, the cycling capital of the Southwest, where the residents neither own cars nor care to, because the bicycle “is typically the easiest way to get around.”

Albuquerque probably has Copenhagen beat when it comes to cycling weather. Today, for example, we’re looking at mostly sunny conditions with a high in the low 60s, and more than 10 hours of daylight, while Copenhagen can expect a high in the low 40s, rain, and less than nine hours of daylight.

But if you think I’m gonna ride my cargo bike to the Sunport to fetch Herself home when she jets in from Florida, well, think again, Jens old scout.

First, the Sunport is a 25-mile round trip from El Rancho Pendejo, with a thousand feet of vertical gain. Second, Herself travels about as lightly as Hannibal crossing the Alps. And third, the roads seem to be full of cars for some reason. Not stately maroon Cadillacs with cream interiors, mind you, but suburban tanks about the size of Hannibal’s elephants. And their mahouts are all inattentive, impaired, or insane.

Anyway, I don’t have a cargo bike. Because for better or for worse, Albuquerque isn’t fucking Copenhagen.

And until we rethink our cities and how we get around and about in them, we’ll have to settle for reading about Paradise from our parking lots.

It’s only business

November 8, 2019

When is a bulletproof vest not a bulletproof vest? When it’s a shroud.

I was gonna make this very argument yesterday, but Kevin Drum did it today, so I don’t gotta.

Looks like Rudy the Putz is getting fitted for those Redi-Mix traveling shoes.

“What the hell is this?”

“It’s a Sicilian message. It means Rudy Giuliani sleeps with the fishes. Which reminds me, any of yis seen Mick Mulvaney lately?”