"I think they are all homosexual communists in Satan's army...I espect as well they all live together and bathe together every morning and have the anal sex with one another, with the fisting and the guinea pigs." - Manuel Estimulo
"You two [the Rev and el Comandante] make an erudite pair. I guess it beats thinking." - Matt Cunningham (aka Jubal) of OC Blog
"Can someone please explain to me what the point is behind that roving gang of douchebags? I’m being serious here. It’s not funny, and doesn’t really make anything that qualifies as logical argument. Paint huffers? Drunken high school chess geeks?" - rickinstl
"I don’t want to make any harsh personal remarks here but it is clear
that a philosophers’ Mr. or Ms. Universe contest would be roughly on a
par with the philosophers’ football match imagined by Monty Python. That
is to say, it would have an ironic relationship to beauty. Philosophy
as a satire on beauty."
Well, robot readers and actual people, I've had the good fortune to read some good stuff so far this summer. There have been more, and will be more, but these are all worth the effort to toddle on over to the local book store or hit the Amazon key and order.
Let’s begin with the history. An excerpt from S.C. GwynneEmpire of the Summer Moon
appeared in the June issue of Texas Monthly, chronicling the initial raid of
the Fourth Cavalry under Randal MacKenzie into the Commancheria, the Illano
Escondido to attempt to capture the band of Commanche lead by Quanah Paker.After reading the chapter, I immediately ordered
the book – fascinating study of the campaigns of someone we don’t hear that
much about, the “Anti-Custer”, Randal Slade MacKenzie.MacKenzie is referred to as the anti-Custer
for a number of reasons – one, of course, being that he avoided last stands and
vainglory, focusing with a laser like intensity on the mission. MacKenzie is a
tragic figure, but he won his insurgency through a combination of annihilation and
negotiation.The book discusses the
Commanche nation with a great deal of insight and sympathy.Since most people reading this are probably
John Wayne fans and have seen The Searchers several times, the story of the
Commanche is largely told through the story of Cynthia Ann Parker, the most
famous of the captive whites brought into the tribe and her son Quanah, who
ultimately became the first and basically last Commanche chief of the entire
tribe after being defeated by MacKenzie and brought to the reservation. Quanah seems like a sort of Hamid Karzai figure at the end, while Cynthia is very much a tragic figure. It’s worth noting that the war between Texas
and the Commanche continues in some ways because of the bloody nature of that
conflict. The Commanche Wars created much of the myth surrounding the Texas
Rangers; in Mike Cox’s second volume of the history of the Rangers,Time of the Rangers, he describes a meeting between a Ranger and a tribal educator in the
90s, where he was introduced as a “Ranger” and the woman responded, “The Enemy.”
When he said, “No, ma’am, not anymore.” She scowled and walked away. There is
no peace between the Rangers and the Commanche, Walker-Texas Ranger to the
Now, Custer is a poster child for the way PR and bullshit can make a
reputation. Custer was a
brave man, a fantastic horseman, and a charismatic
figure. He was also a lousy officer and
a not terribly effective commander. Custer made his bones at Gettysburg, taking
a squadron of Michigan Volunteer Cavalry into action against Jeb Stuart’s
Cavalry Division while Stuart was in column and not deployed. Why the rebel
cavalry didn’t move from column to line, surround the Michiganders and save Crazy Horse the trouble twelve years later is
another of the missed opportunities during that oh so decisive battle. However,
they didn’t; as more Union cavalry joined the battle, Stuart was stopped and
forced to retreat, thus unable to link up with Pickett at the top of Cemetery
Ridge and guaranteeing defeat for the South. Nathaniel Philbrick'sThe Last Stand
details the road to Little Bighorn. In
turns philosophical, exciting, and intriguing, Philbrick puts the battle in
context of the time, the leaders, the men and their histories. He says, “We
interact with one another s individuals responding to a complex haze of
personal likes and dislikes, ambition, jealousy, self-interest, and, in at
least some instances, genuine altruism. Living
in the here and now, we are awash with sensations of the present, memories of
the past, and expectations and fears for the future. Our actions are not
determined by any one cause; they are the fulfillment of who we are at that
Turning now to contemporary affairs, Charles P. Pierce has an interesting
cover which, in light of the Dodge Challenger commercial showing Washington
charging the British line in muscle cars abreast, is kind of funny.Idiot Americafeatures Washington riding a
T-Rex, and begins with a discussion of Pierce’s visit to the Creation Museum,
where visitors are greeted with a dinosaur wearing an English saddle. Hilarity
should ensue, but doesn’t.Pierce’s book
is thoughtful, provocative and kind of scary for those of us with a classic
liberal twist to our thinking. Pierce identifies three premises that seem to
underlie Fox News, the Tea Party Movement, Sarah Palin and the National
Any theory is valid
if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
Fact is that which
enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.
Anything can be true
if someone says it loudly enough.
The whole Vietnam Veteran as crazy person is a good example of this
thinking. Crazy John Rambo and his bros sold a lot of books and moved a lot of
units – movie tickets, posters, Rambo knives.Everybody knows that Vietnam Vets, no, wait, all Veterans except those
from WWII because they were the greatest, are PTSD-engorged psychopaths. We all know this. The data that statistically,
the average Viet Veteran is healthier, more successful , more stable and more
grounded than the general population from the same era is impossible to
believe, because it makes sense to blow up a Hind-D with a LAW fired from the
front seat of a Huey, through the canopy, at basically point blank range. We
saw it in the movie, it must be the way it is.
David Aaronovitch’s Voodoo History : The Role of Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History
some of the same turf but focuses on the paranoid. Aaronovich draws some
inspiration from the classic by Richard Hofsteader, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” but takes it deeper and
makes a lot of it more relevant to today, when the John Birch Society is now
seen by the Conservative Movement as kind of mainstream.Aaronovitch points out that Hofsteader
focused mainly on the right, while the conspiracy minded came from all
dimensions. Back in college, I recall listening to reasoned discussions about how the killing of
buffalo – bison in North America, water buffalo in SE Asia – was a strategy to
exterminate indigenous populations.After
a few seconds consideration, I figured out that these people were crazy. The
author explains and documents that conspiracy theories generally fail to
approach reality because they don’t apply Occam’s razor, the philosophical
principle of simplicity. While stated many ways, this tool is pretty simple –
given the situation and the known facts, the best explanation is the simplest
in accordance to the facts. Don’t make it complicated. Unnecessary complication
leads to bullshit thinking.Dick Cheney
is not an evil Cyborg from another dimension; he’s a very sick man with obvious
delusions. Barak Obama was not born in Kenya but in Hawaii – why create the
paper trail for a baby? Elvis is not a clerk in a 7/11 in Hattiesburg.
"Guess you're mostly Baptists. Few Methodists in the back. Actually, we need the Methodists down here for this part..."James McMurtry is Larry McMurtry's son. Please don't hold that against him . He has a somewhat monotone voice and a poetic twist that reminds me of Robert Earle Keen, hung over and pissed off. He generally has great bands and excellent musical instincts. He also writes with razor...You might be in grad school/up at MIT/Or down in the Canal Zone/Being all you can be/You might get to thinkin'/You're ahead of the game/But when you're paining by numbers/it all comes out the same...He's been around since at least '89, putting his particular twist on things, and I know that I haven't been paying attention like I should have...my loss . Normally, I like to embed videos -- guess you probably noticed if you're looking at this site -- but the links are to incredible songs. For some reason, he or his record company isn't excited about letting people embed his formal stuff. Mistake, I think...part of the old music wants to be free mindset that I suspect he shares, but hell, he's trying to make a buck. Guitar strings and shit can get expensive. So, go to I-Tunes or Rhapsody and stock up. And, of course, if you're in North Texas, stop by Dad's bookstore ...maybe they'll be there bitching at each other while stocking shelves.
Raymond Chandler put it best. Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is
neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective must be a complete man and
a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather
weathered phrase, a man of honor. He talks as the man of his age talks,
that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for
sham, and a contempt for pettiness.
--The Simple Art of Murder
If you're like me, you love long mystery series. You can immerse yourself in the problems while dealing with the backgrounds; you can come to identify with the characters. Perhaps see yourself in characters; if you're lucky, they'll make a movie or series and you can bounce your vision off the vision of others. The death of Robert Parker recently at 77 ended the 40 novel run of one of the greatest mystery characters along with someone who was a complete character. Holmes is not a complete character, not real, not tangible. Basil Rathbone and Robert Downey Jr. are both reasonable in the role; Jude Law could have done Holmes, but Downey not Watson. Sam Spade and Ellery Queen were ultimately unfulfilling; Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin together made an incredible pair, and the TV series was very close. Timothy Hutton is an unappreciated actor. But, Wolfe and Archie are not quite there. Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn is close but ultimately too private. But, Spenser remains himself. Not quite Marlowe, not quite Shane, not quite Robin Hood, not quite the Duke. All of these, and more --and a refutation of antiheroes and angst. Himself, alone, getting up and doing what needs to be done to set the world right. Because, that's what men are supposed to do.
When Robert B. Parker died
the other day — sitting at his desk, they say, working on a novel — his
private eye alter ego died with him. And while we might pretend that
Spenser is now among the immortal shades of other recently departed
sleuths created by Ed McBain, Donald E. Westlake, and Tony Hillerman,
the truth is that another hero has left town for good.
Parker wrote other books, had other characters and interests. However, Spencer is the creation he will always have as an identity. The actors who played him weren't quite right; Robert Ulrich and Joe Mantegna weren't right by physicality or ethnicity. Spencer is New England -- Irish or Yankee, probably Irish -- and seems to at times be channeling Thoreau, only this time with testicles. I've wondered who could have played the role accurately, and I keep thinking of Robert Mitchum. John Wayne was already too old when The Godwulf Manuscript hit the stands, although there's a lot of John Wayne there. Today, the only one I can see is Mark Harmon, showing more of the playful side of Gibbs than he normally does.
I have to admit to getting less interested in Parker's stuff when he branched off and also as he went into flights of lyrical poetry (Sometimes a Catskill Eagle...seriously?). Also, Spencer was a Korean War Veteran, and somehow the French Foreign Legion got in the mix about Catskill Eagle time. His prose got sparser and more minimalist -- better art, perhaps, but less Spenser the detective and more Spenser the poet. However, I have to admit that the idea of Gloriana was always there -- whether rescuing Susan, a troubled kid or a framed cop, Spenser was always striving to serve something greater.
For all the social refinements he acquired over the years, the courtly
giant was first and foremost a freelance knight — a strong, loyal,
steadfast man of honor in a postwar world that had lost its faith in
men of honor, if not its belief in the very concept of honor itself...But Parker never denied that Spenser’s chivalric code made him a
throwback. “I am not altogether sure,” he once told me, “that in this
brave new world of ours, a decent, honest, incorruptible, brave and
loving man is not still an anomaly.”
Albert Camus died in a car accident and was buried. The guy who wrote The Stranger and supposedly inspired George Bush to buy an dictionary so he could read it so he could pretend to have some depth, and who along with Holden Caufield inspired a generation of Catholic high school intellectual wannabes, and who looks better philosophically every day, wrote novels, articles, and philosophical treatises. By all accounts, he was a decent guy. A good writer. A honest man. He split with Sartre and Le Temps Modern over all that commie crap. He was neither left nor right...a true libertarian.
And now Sarkozy wants to dig up the poor bastard and move his grave to the Pantheon, the great mausoleum of French Intelligentsia. Jean Camus, the son, thinks it's a lousy idea and would piss off the old man; the daughter manages the estate, and it's ok with him. Sarkozy supposedly is really in favor of it, and is waiting for the family to tell him to bring in the bulldozer, and the French are being French. In a good way...
“What do we have to do to transfer Camus to the Panthéon?” asked one
reader on the Web site of Le Figaro, a daily that is generally
supportive of Mr. Sarkozy. “The son doesn’t agree: It’s Sarkozy who
proposed it, so it’s suspect! Ah, the day that the left proposes it,
then it will be different. Let’s leave Albert where he is while we
wait.” Jean Daniel, editor of the newsmagazine Le Nouvel
Observateur, told Le Monde: “The crushing character of the consecration
appears contrary to the ideas for which Camus is famous.” “For
me, Camus is the author of ‘The Rebel,’ who spoke of the heroism of
moderation,” Mr. Daniel said. “I don’t see the Panthéon glorifying that
kind of heroism. Camus was totally libertarian. Never did the rejection
of totalitarianism lead him to join either the center or the right.”
Well, the AXE has a slightly different take on this. I believe that Camus would find it ironic and absurd. If he were to be sitting around in the Elysian Fields overlooking the left bank with Sartre, Malraux, de Beauvoir, Kierkegaard, Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Edith Piaf, smoking Gauloises and cigars, drinking Pastis and espresso, they'd probably be having a good old time talking about it and laughing. Lennon and Piaf would be doing a chorus of Working Class hero while Morrison and and de Beauvoir dance and Sartre, Kierkegaard, Malraux and Camus argue about God, Life, and so on. Levi-Strauss might wander in for a chat, bringing along some raw and cooked stuff to snack on. Celine might wander in, glance around, and when they all stop talking, stare scarily until Piaf goes over and leads him to back, where she gives him a blow job. Lennon then offers guitar lessons...
The only real reason to move the guy is to increase the sale of books and memorabilia. "Je suis allé au Panthéon et tout que j'ai obtenu était ce t-shirt moche de Camus." While glancing at some of them, I came on these things, and they sum it up for me quite well... and this one...
And this...which was on a flimsy T-shirt but if you wanted a good shirt, the price went up very fast. I think the man would have appreciated the irony...and, of course, an unsupported mime...
Freedom is nothing but the chance to be better...
So, AXE's take is simple...it's always better to do nothing than something unless you need to do something. In this case, let the bones rest; put up a plaque at the Pantheon on an empty tomb, saying something along the lines of
"Camus a diminué, se sentant il avait été jeté hors de meilleurs endroits que ceci…"
Divas do not make good politicians. I know people who have worked in the Senate, for example, and behind the scenes guys like Chris Dodd and Chuck Schumer are total dickweeds. Teddy Kennedy, except for the drunken Irishman schtick and the cockhoundness before his remarriage, was a fairly decent guy. The Alaska delegation seemed to have a fixation on assholes, although Begich has yet to offend anyone the way Ted Stevens offended all sentient beings. Bill Frist was supposedly a fairly nice guy; Trent Lott was charming; Bob Dole had an extraordinary sense of humor. In fact, I suspect Dole could join the Defeatists as Cato and make all our stuff here and at the outlier sites -- or sites of which we are outliers -- a lot better. His wife, on the other hand, makes dildoes look warm and cuddly. However, they were all invariably polite to people who demonstrate that they love them. Until now...
"We gave up our entire workday, stayed in the cold, my kids were
crying," one man was quoted saying. "They went home with my wife. She
was out here in the freezing cold all day. I feel like I don't want to
support Sarah."...Another woman told Indy Channel, "We bought two books from Borders
to have our receipt and our wristband to get it signed tonight. My
books are going back to Borders tomorrow." The angry crowd turned on Palin as she returned to her "Going Rogue" tour bus. (Emphasis added)
First of all, The Typepad is not recognizing Palin as a proper noun as I draft this, which means Michael Palin should sue. Next when a crowd of ignorant assholes turns from cheering and orgasmic moaning to booing and catcalls, that's pretty tame behavior. Wonder how many of these twits were carrying guns? If they'd shot the tires out and torched the goddamn bus while making her sign the books and their various body parts, and then barbecuing the kid, then they would have turned. Here, some dipshits got a comeuppance...delivered by the Moose-slaughterer Profundis herself...
This makes the John Stewart bit even more relevant. Seriously, if the candidate for whatever is this oblivious, this tone deaf, then all I can say is that Mitt-Plastic-Fantastic-Romney might have a chance. Huckabee is supposed to actually care about people, even though he gets his economic theory from Malthus. The more Palin shows that she's just a self-centered, baby-popping, ignorant cunt from the backwoods, the better their chances. However, neither MPFR nor Huckleberry can get the crowds riled up and the base enthralled. If I were the Dems, I'd stockpile this footage and play it often.
In it, he wasn't quoted so much about wanting to be Woody as about becoming more like the blues players, Mance Lipscomb, Lightning Hopkins and the various itinerant minstrels like Ramblin' Jack Elliot, and Bill Broozey. Download BeyondHereLiesNothin_.mp3. Go Figure.
I occasionally visit the Southern Poverty Law Center's blogsite because they do an excellent job of tracking the nutcases. There, I happened on this gem...David Duke, aka Dippest Shit in Louisiana, is now contending that he's an artist. Well, as SPLC's editor points out, not quite. He takes purty pictures, and then enhances them with photoshop. His twitship presents among other things a shot of the gorgeous city of Salzburg that he tinted rather oddly...like he was trying for that Obama poster look on a city and just blew it terrible. I've been to Salzburg numerous times -- strongly recommend the Columbusbrau -- and have taken pictures back in the days of 35mm actual film as cutting edge tech of the same view; doesn't make me think Salzburg. It makes me think, I don't know, Zanzabar, only with fir trees and the Salznach river flowing through it. The Festung Salzburg has no salmon hues to it... Of course, this might be in Duke's mind the sort of thing Hitler might have done had he had Photoshop and a Sony digital camera.
Now the degree he got is something called a "Kandidat Nauk" which appears to be a degree created so Russian flunkies hoping to get gigs someplace besides Sverdlosk. It requires a dissertation and a defense, supposedly. I'm sure Duke does really well in Ukrainian or Russian. After all, wasn't the Klan a commie plot anyway? The degree is sorta, kinda, almost a Ph.D. I guess it's like a DBA or an Ed.D. It's a practical degree -- in the science of racism, in this guy's case.
My problem is that he call's himself Dr. Duke. There is only one Dr Duke, Hunter S. Thompson using his nom de plume in Fear and Loathing Days. Metaphysically, I'm pretty sure that in some metaphysical hinterland, Hunter is filling a briefcase with a fifth of Tequila, a case of Red Stipe Ale, a couple of boxes of amyls and a fucking .50 Desert Eagle loaded with Isreali hotloads to go take care of this idiots geist. Gonna shoot him right in the zeitgeist, and we'll all applaud. Metaphysically...