Archive for the ‘Bad news’ Category

The Monitor in the Merrimack

February 11, 2020

C’mon. When you’re staring at this much screen you want a box of popcorn, a big ol’ soda, and a preview of coming attractions that does not include the honking 18-wheeler into whose lane you have strayed.

I have an ironclad disagreement with the notion of a multiplex in motion.

My argument is a simple one: If you want to drive, get an automobile. If you want to text, tweet, phone, Facebook, Instagram, eat, drink, smoke, shoot, or stream anything other than your own bad self down the road, why, get a sofa and some fixed location to put it in.

Our discussion of the Escalade Multiplex with its 38 inches of curving OLED real estate caused me to remember an earlier screed on this very topic, from the pages of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News circa 2014. For a change I cited sources other than the voices in my head, though of course they too were interviewed at length.

Rather than simply reprint the column — c’est ennuyeux! — I barked it into the old Shure SM58 and presto! Yes, yes, yes, out popped another episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

Too late for this year’s Pulitzer for Audio Reporting, but hey, there’s always next year, amirite? Or maybe 2024, when the sonofabitch will be 10 years old and journalistic standards may have declined even further, perhaps to my level.

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 Shure SM58 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 is “Well Oiled Machine” from Zapsplat. Sound effects from Apple’s iMovie effects bin and Your Humble Narrator.

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.

 

R.I.P., Dirt Rag

January 30, 2020

Ah, Dirt Rag, we hardly knew ye.

Well, this sucks.

Dirt Rag has been in the bicycle-journalism racket exactly as long as I have. We both rolled around in 1989, though I was mostly on a road bike.

American Cyclery is getting a seismic refit and, eventually, it is to be hoped, a new owner.

I never thought of myself as a mountain biker. And Dirt Rag was never just a mountain-bike mag. Maurice Tierney and the gang were into art and culture and all manner of good shit. Did you know Mo is a deejay at KALX, 90.7 FM in Berserkly? True fact.

Also, this:

The oldest bike shop in San Francisco is on the block. American Cyclery built my Soma Saga Disc for me, and they did a stellar job. I haven’t had to do jack shit to that bike except ride it and fix an occasional flat.

I thought Friday was the day when all the bad news dropped. Trust the bike biz to get it wrong.

 

R.I.P., William Greider

December 29, 2019

William Greider went west on Christmas. He was 83.

His résumé was impressive, and eclectic. The Washington Post. Rolling Stone. The Nation. He found out where the bodies were buried, and he dug them up.

He worked with Hunter S. Thompson, and spoke kindly of him when the gonzo chieftain passed. And The Nation‘s John Nichols did likewise for Greider, noting:

I knew Bill as a quick-witted comrade in the press corps of too many campaigns to count, a generous mentor, an ideological compatriot, and an occasional co-conspirator. He taught me to see politics not as the game that TV pundits discuss but as a high-stakes struggle for power in which the Democrats foolishly, and then dangerously, yielded far too much ground to increasingly right-wing Republicans. … He wrote truthfully, boldly, consistently, without fear or favor, and without the empty partisanships of these awkward times. He was our North Star.

R.I.P., Larry Heinemann

December 17, 2019

My old paperback copy of “Close Quarters” has taken a beating from reading and re-reading.

Goddamn, this is turning out to be an ugly day.

Larry Heinemann, who was the surprise winner of the National Book Award for fiction in 1987, died Dec. 11 in Texas. He was 75.

Heinemann won the award for “Paco’s Story,” but I read his 1977 novel “Close Quarters” first, and it is one of the best Vietnam War stories out there. Not a pretty story, but it was not a pretty war. None of them is. It was one of the books that made me glad I missed the party.

He did his year in an infantry battalion, then came home, went to school, and started writing.

“I was not one of those guys who got home and went to their room and shut up,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 1988. “I know guys who the war’s been eating up for 20 years. Anybody who asked me about it, I told them. I shot my mouth off about everything — the whorehouses, the endless hatred, the ugliness, the real work of the war. It took two to three years of talking to get the story out.”

Heinemann got more of the story out later, in a memoir, “Black Virgin Mountain: A Return to Vietnam.” His hometown paper wrote about it, and him, even including an excerpt.

Upon his return from Vietnam, he wrote:

I felt joyless and old, physically and spiritually exhausted, mean and grateful and uncommonly sad; relieved as if a stone had been lifted from my heart and radicalized beyond my own severely thinned patience: pissed off and ground down by a bottomless grief that I could not right then begin to express.

So, still sore and raw from the war I began writing.

Figures lie, and …

December 1, 2019

Roll the tape.

Ho, ho. It seems the Albuquerque Police Department has copped to a few “inaccuracies” in its crime stats.

As pictures go, this is on a par with Leonardo da Vinci admitting that Mona Lisa was actually a dude, and a car-stealing serial killer to boot.

In a chat with the Urinal, Mayor Tim Keller spake thusly:

“The mirror doesn’t lie and the mirror says violent crime is up, and that’s a huge problem, but it also says that property crime and auto theft are down. I don’t think it’s about people believing one thing or another, I think it’s just what your definition of crime is. And we have always said that crime is the biggest problem in our community and that continues to be the case.”

Boy, I’ll bet he’d like to walk that one back now that it’s limping down the street with a bullet wound, trying to find its stolen car.

The good news: It can take the bus! And for free, too. If you overlook the $133 million startup charge, that is.

R.I.P., Gahan Wilson

November 23, 2019

My lone Gahan Wilson collection.

Gahan Wilson, whose surreal cartoons regularly appeared in National Lampoon, Playboy, and other top-shelf mags, has stepped away from the drawing board.

He died Thursday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Complications of dementia, they say. He was 89.

This guy was funny. Bleak, weird, the owner and operator of left field, he kept you off balance like some psychotic judo master. There was nobody else like him working Back in the Day®, and if he has a successor, I’ve not seen him or her yet.

One of my faves? An overstuffed chair absorbing a reader. Eyeglasses and book lie on the floor. All you can see as the reader vanishes is a pair of hands, protruding from the seat.

Another depicts a gardener who has unearthed a skeleton. His employer, a stately, dessicated husk of a woman, says, “I think you would be advised to locate the new delphinium bed elsewhere, Hobbs.”

Yet another shows a soldier covered in gore, muck and God knows what all, knife in one hand and assault rifle in the other. He stands alone in a smoking hellscape that makes the “Terminator” future look like Disneyland. His eyes pop out of the murk like cue balls. And he smiles. “I think I won!” he says.

Dracula with a vampire hand puppet. Dracula with a salt shaker. (Dude liked Dracula, what can I tell you?) A woman who has stuffed her husband into the trash can outside her apartment door (“You don’t get rid of him that easy, Mrs. Jacowsky,” says a man who may be the building superintendent). A writer for “The National Confidential Weekly” who, stuck for a lively bit of the old Fake News®, finally leaves his typewriter for a while and returns to tap out, “It isn’t easy cutting the heart out of a woman with a dull knife. And it takes time. It takes a good fifteen minutes.”

Oh, Gahan Wilson was one of the greats. I hope he and Charles Addams are hoisting a tall cold one in the Beyond.

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.

Ed Zink rides west

October 13, 2019

Ed Zink, one of the founders of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Durango, has gone beyond.

The Durango native died Friday of complications from a heart attack, according to The Durango Herald. He was 71.

Ed was a rancher, a retailer, and a pillar of the U.S. cycling community. He ramrodded the Iron Horse through good times and bad, helped bring the first World Mountain Bike Championships to his hometown, and was a gent when dealing with irksome cycling scribes who wished to quiz him about this, that and the other.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

Contributions in Ed’s memory can be made to Trails 2000 and the Mercy Health Foundation. My condolences to his family and friends.

The Terminator is a wordsmith

October 13, 2019

Sweetheart, give me rewrite … and an oil change.

Ho boy. There goes the neighborhood. The Poindexters are building the next Billy Shakespeare out of 1s and 0s.

In this piece for The New Yorker, John Seabrook wonders:

Could the machine learn to write well enough for The New Yorker? Could it write this article for me? The fate of civilization may not hang on the answer to that question, but mine might.

Sigh. Remember the good old days, when automatic writing was limited to the spirits or subconscious? I have a feeling this new breed of writer will rely on a different solvent than did its human predecessors.

“Gimme a benzene. Make it a double. I’m stalled on this goddamn novel.”