Archive for the ‘Arts & letters’ Category

Happy Juneteenth

June 19, 2020

What a brilliantly simple illustration for an essay on whether the “b” in “black” should be capitalized. I appropriated it from The Atlantic.

I made Juneteenth very famous, as you know.

No, I didn’t. And neither did that other peckerwood.

I’m not big on holidays. They were nothing to look forward to in the newspaper biz. Whether it’s Arbor Day or Zoo Lovers Day, the paper must appear. And no matter what capitalist fantasies motivate the business decisions at Gannett and Alden Global Capital, a newspaper won’t publish itself. Yet.

Once you’ve eaten a few dozen “holiday” meals at your desk while decoding a school-board story written by a functional alcoholic the term “holiday” loses all meaning.

Most holidays are dubious, anyway. Christmas? Sorry, not one of mine. Thanksgiving? Is that the one where George Washington threw his wooden teeth across the Potomac and killed a turkey perched in a cherry tree? Fourth of July? That’s the “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” one, right? Except for, you know, those people.

Then there’s Juneteenth. LIke Independence Day, it commemorates a beginning, a first step on a long march to a battle that seems to have no ending.

Though the celebration has its roots in Texas, I don’t recall hearing about it when I was in school down there. Too busy teaching us about how John Wayne fought Communism at the Alamo, I guess.

We never heard anything about the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, either.

And so I suffered from ignorance, a condition with which I continue to struggle. It, too, is a long march. The trick is to keep putting one foot ahead of the other while keeping your eyes, ears, and mind open.

Here’s something I stumbled across along the path. It drew my attention because I’m an old newshound, a retired copy editor, and I love watching the language as it tries to evolve to meet the times. It’s an article in The Atlantic by Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor of philosophy and law at New York University, and it’s titled “The Case for Capitalizing the ‘B’ in ‘Black.'”

R.I.P., Mort Drucker

April 9, 2020

Mort Drucker at work.

Another of Mad magazine’s “usual gang of idiots” has shuffled off.

Mort Drucker made it to 91 before the Source called his name. And damn, was he ever good.

You know you’re good when Will “The Spirit” Eisner gives you your first recommendation.

Also, when the lawyers send you cease-and-desist orders without consulting the boss first. Quoth The New York Times:

According to [Grady] Hendrix, Mad’s 1981 parody of “The Empire Strikes Back,” “The Empire Strikes Out,” prompted the Lucasfilm legal department to send a cease-and-desist letter demanding that the issue be recalled. “Mad replied by sending a copy of another letter they had received the previous month — from George Lucas, offering to buy the original artwork for the ‘Empire’ parody and comparing Mort Drucker to Leonardo da Vinci.”

Mr. Lucas knew Mr. Drucker’s work well. He had commissioned one of Mr. Drucker’s classic multicharacter pileups as the poster for his first hit, “American Graffiti” — a nostalgic movie set in the same summer “The JFK Coloring Book” was a best seller. And, of course, Mr. Drucker had illustrated Mad’s sendup, “American Confetti.”

I bet John Prine is offering him a vodka and ginger ale for a caricature right now.

May we have your liver?

March 29, 2020

“A census taker once tried to test me.”

While sipping my morning java and traipsing idly around the Innertubes I happened upon this at the Bob’s Red Mill site.

Out of fava beans?

And we just got our census forms in the mail.

If Chianti is on backorder too, I’d say life is busy imitating art again.

‘The excitement is contagious. …’

March 16, 2020

Dr. Memory … paging Dr. Memory. …

I woke up singing, “Make the World Go Away.”

It wouldn’t, of course. The world is remarkably persistent. Always up in your grille with its pestilence, stock-market crashes, toilet-paper shortages, leadership vacuums, Darth Gimp boots, doctor’s appointments, and stupidity.

For, like the poor, ye have the stupid always with you.

Sometimes, a guy wants a little smart. And so, after a consultation with Dr. Memory, and in keeping with the general plague theme, we present for your listening enjoyment “Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him” by The Firesign Theatre.

If only we had a generated, veneered leader. (Hear, hear!) Our own “Fighting Jack.” (Where, where?) But nope — all we have is a pestilence (There, there).

Good news

March 14, 2020

“The unthinkable had always been thinkable.”
Edward Abbey wasn’t just a writer, he was a prophet.

Anyone in the mood for a bit of apocalyptic fiction in these dark days could do worse than “Good News,” by Cactus Ed Abbey, who died on this day in 1989.

Like Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion, Abbey’s Jack Burns took many forms (and many beatings) over the years, from “The Brave Cowboy” through “Hayduke Lives!” in which the titular character, George Hayduke, says with a grin, “See you in Hell, Jack Burns.”

He might just see the rest of us there, too.

Requiem

March 7, 2020

His Excellency permits a brief photo op
while inspecting the perimeter in March 2019.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who expressed condolences upon the passing of our beloved cat, Turkish.

May you all be in heaven a half hour before the Devil knows you’re dead.

While we’re on the subject of Irish blessings, may I recommend Frank O’Connor’s “Requiem” to anyone grieving a fallen comrade? Father Fogarty, who did not yet know for whom he would be asked to say “only one small Mass,” speaks thusly:

“All I know from my own experience is is that the more loss we feel the more grateful we should be for whatever it was we had to lose. It means we had something worth grieving for. The ones I’m sorry for are the ones that go through life not even knowing what grief is. And you’d be surprised the number of them you’d meet.”

Random acts of radio

February 18, 2020

The mighty Zenith K725.

Back in the Day® it seemed some oversensitive jagoff was always shrieking at us to “Turn that noise down!” Or even off.

How little things have changed.

Impeachy the Clown and Porky Pompeo have it in for NPR because a couple of its reporters had the temerity to, like, y’know, report, an’ shit.

And they’ve started cranking up that tired old double-chin music about defunding NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, because these fatboys can only punch down.

Naturally, this triggered me, because I’m as oversensitive as the next jagoff. Throw in the confluence of Presidents Day and Random Acts of Kindness Day, and boom: Before anyone could tell me to shut my yap I was opening wide to deliver another painful sound bite with the yellowing fangs of Radio Free Dogpatch.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder, then edited in Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. Post-production voodoo by Auphonic. The background music was cobbled together by Your Humble Narrator using Apple’s GarageBand and the iMovie effects bin. KRCC operations manager Mike Procell appears through the miracle of Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack.

R.I.P., Charles Portis

February 17, 2020

“The Dog of the South,” by Charles Portis.

One of our best and perhaps least known writers, Charles Portis, has gone west. He was 86.

You may recall the name from “True Grit,” which was made into two movies (John Wayne and Jeff Bridges).

But the former New York Herald Tribune reporter also wrote “The Dog of the South,” about a former copy editor who pursues his wife, his Amex card, and her first husband with his chow dog, to Mexico. Being familiar with copy editing, the relentless vindictiveness of American Express, and chow dogs, this naturally spoke to me.

There was also “Norwood,” about an itinerant ex-jarhead trying to collect a debt; “Gringos,” featuring the search for a lost Mayan city; and “Masters of Atlantis,” about a cult based on the “secret wisdom” of that place.

His books were filled with screwballs, dingbats, and scammers, and his use of language was superb, particularly in “True Grit.” At times I wonder whether Thomas McGuane might have absorbed a bit of his style.

And yet hardly anyone knows him, or his work. He guarded his privacy, but the Alzheimer’s stole his wit.

A final bit of strangeness: Roy Reed, the reporter who wrote Portis’ obit for The New York Times, is himself dead. Another, Steve Barnes, handled the finishing touches.

Orange Julius Caesar killed Spartacus

February 5, 2020

Can we impeach the sonofabitch again?
This time for homicide?

He did it by giving that bloated scumbag Flush Limburger the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the same honor Kirk Douglas received from Jimmy Carter.

Douglas died today at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 103.

Interesting notes: He made his bones with “Champion,” based on a Ring Lardner story of the same name. And his favorite movie apparently was “Lonely Are the Brave,” which was based on an Ed Abbey novel, “The Brave Cowboy.” I had no idea that was his fave; I certainly liked both stories, the way I like all Lardner and Abbey stories.

And I loved me some Kirk Douglas movies.

Today, we are all Spartacus. Except for, well, you know. That guy.

 

99 Mobiltelefon

February 5, 2020

The headline reads: “A man walked down a street with 99 phones in a wagon. Google Maps thought it was a traffic jam.”

Back at base bugs in the software
Flash the message “something’s out there!”

Our robot overlords will not be amused, Herr Weckert.

And yeah, he drew inspiration from a Jay-Z song, but Nena’s piece was the first one that sprung to mind for me.