BLOG THIS! Highly Suspect Wisdom for the Widely Disinterested Masses
Today In There Is No Wax: One thing (only one?) that I have always really hated is a jazz cover of a rock/pop tune. Even Coltrane's "My Favorite Things", which, after the opening melody is an astonishing musical artifact, I wish were based on an original chord structure and not a cloying Oscar Hammerstein ditty. There was a time in the 70's when EVERY soul jazz record (especially on the Prestige label) had to have at least one Beatles cover. It is truly torture to listen to Charles Earland or Jack McDuff vamp their way through some burner only to follow it up with a listless "A Day In The Life" or "Hey, Jude". There are Moody Blues covers, Stones covers, the "Ode To Billie Joe"s and Minnie Rippertons and James Taylors, truly the dregs of that era. No one needs an instrumental version of a song you might have even liked in its original form but have no doubt already heard so many times that it's even white noise in its first incarnation. I realize it was an attempt by label execs to make their records more commercial (read: sucker in white audiences unwilling to roam outside the dominion of AM hits), and I bet most of those players hated being forced to record them, which is almost always plainly apparent reading between the grooves of the performances. So when I kept hearing about this Jazz Sabbath album, I dismissed it as another dumb gimmick and ignored it with malice. Well, as usual my certitude and condemnatory nature ended up haunting me, because I finally listened to it last week, and it's REALLY GOOD. The playing is top notch, the interpretations are clever and surprising, and most importantly, while I know all these Sabbath songs backward and forward, it's the hints and flecks of them that shine through without being straight covers, making them vastly more interesting and fun to listen to. No wax today, as I (the sacrilege!) downloaded it, confident I don't require a vinyl copy when an Mp3 will clearly do, but it says here at Judgmentalist Vinyl Hoarder Central to give it ("Rat Salad" especially kills) a listen.
Starting today with something positive, the celebration we were robbed of last week. I woke up and Mitch McConnell was, as if through some sort of Siegfried and Roy-ish legerdemain, busted down to Senate Minority Leader, so I immediately drove to Safeway and ate an entire heavily frosted sheet cake in the bakery aisle.
Past the square, past the bridge
Past the mills, past the stacks
On a gathering storm
Comes a tall handsome man
In a dusty black coat with
A red right hand
He'll wrap you in his arms
Tell you that you've been a good boy
He'll rekindle all the dreams
It took you a lifetime to destroy
He'll reach deep into the hole
Heal your shrinking soul
But there won't be a single thing that you can do
He's a god, he's a man
He's a ghost, he's a guru
They're whispering his name
Through this disappearing land
But hidden in his coat
Is a red right hand
It is truly hilarious watching the rats jump off the Death Ship, as if fleeing with the last wedge of cheddar that is their defiled resume is an act of nobility. Former Attorney General Bill Barr, who gleefully became Trump's plumper Roy Cohn, derailed the Mueller Report, and single-handedly doomed impeachment, now thinks the president has gone too far. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell's wife, who stood next to Trump at the podium as he tried to explain away the riot in Charlottesville, has suddenly been stabbed with pangs of conscience. John "Let's bomb Iran back into the Stone Age" Bolton is on every channel decisively not talking about how he eagerly took the job to begin with. Mick Mulvaney, former chief of staff, who spent intimate time with Trump every day, has had a sudden conversion and bravely gave up his new post as Special Envoy to Ireland. Melania's chief of staff (now there's a plum job- "Should we put the solid gold Christmas tree here? No? How about here?") Stephanie Grisham, has resigned after 3.9 years of accumulated but unconsummated disgust. John Kelley, yet another in a long line of chiefs of staff, said on CNN yesterday that he "wasn't aware of the depth of Trump's faults" when he took the position. Oh really, general? You hadn't read a newspaper since the mid-80s? You didn't see footage of Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein? You didn’t hear the torrent of absurd, insurrectionist, and easily falsifiable comments that have spilled from Trump's cake-hole from the second he announced he was running? You somehow forgot about the day he stood next to you at that cemetery in France and called the war dead suckers, and then insulted your own son? You didn’t think maybe it was time to say something publicly back then? Even Ted Cruz came out yesterday, and in a truly sniveling performance, said he's been "fighting back against Trump's words and rhetoric" for years. Uh-huh. Hey Ted, he called your wife ugly and said your dad killed JFK. No misgivings about holding his water during electoral certification then? And finally, there's Betsy DeVos, one of the richest women in America and sister of mercenary, war criminal, and head of Blackwater Erik Prince-and if there really were professionals among the Capitol storming mob, you can bet some either work or worked for Blackwater. After four years of tireless and essential reform of the educational system in which she mostly tried to strip funding from public schools and channel it to Christian-based charter schools instead, DeVos has shown why she's widely considered to be a woman of endless integrity and backbone. Sure, some cowards might bow out on day 12 or even day 9, but not Betsy. She held the line at day 13. She called out Trump when it really mattered, when there was a true Walmart price to pay. All these servants of the people, all these Profiles In Courage. Their acts of defiance and virtue shall not be forgotten. I can only look forward to the day when Covid is over, and my daughter and I can travel to Washington and take a Kaepernick-knee in front of the DeVos Memorial of Freedom & Occassional Yachting and pay our respects. In the meantime we can only marvel from afar.
This will be my very last Trump post ever. No other words, no further breath is warranted for this flagrant con man, this congenital liar, this cauldron of debilitating vanity. The person who will be remembered for trafficking in the certifiably conspiratorial, in a web of half-truths based on quarter-truths that has saddled this country for a generation with the doctrine of relativism. The upside-down bible-holder. The 400 day golfer. The groper, rapist, gleeful philanderer. The utterly faithless hero of rube evangelicals. The Head Grifter of a family of grifting rats. The child-cager. The non-wall non-builder. The Covid-denier who cut health benefits for his own supporters before being airlifted to Walter Reed when he himself got Covid. The bleach-injector. The indiscriminate media-cudgel. The traitor, the money-launderer, the shill ridden by Putin bareback. The man who, in the end, governed by nothing but Tweet and whim and jagged illogic. If Trump weren't so morbidly hollow, if his utterances weren't so banal as to be without meaning, he might actually be cast as a tragic figure. To be so small, so fearful, so needy. To be so guided, in each possible move or decision, in every aspect of one's life, by the limitless desire for approval such that it denies one all other qualities: empathy, compassion, joy, humor, a sense of wonder and possibility, is the province of the most pathetic characters in all of literature. If he has accomplished nothing else over four years, in a case that even Rudy Giuliani couldn't botch, was to make clear that he is comprised entirely by greed, clotted lust, the need for acquiescence, acquisition, domination, fealty. He is a boy-tyrant of the type the Romans would immediately have recognized as broken and dangerous and tossed off the Tarpeian Rock. Even the Romans didn't want Trump Steaks. Well, as the ranting, corpulent King Lear of Mar-a-Lago is finally dragged from the White House on January 20th, I will not laugh or celebrate. I will close my eyes and reflect on the damage this country has suffered under his greasy thumb, to the point that we nearly became inured to it out of sheer intellectual and emotional survival, and how close we came to having to endure another four years. Donald Trump is the most successful hustler in the history of the world. We can only hope, as he becomes a civilian again, and his unwarranted protections fall away, that he suffers the fate of all hustlers in the end: being confronted with a debt that can never be repaid.
This is how I intend to face the (possibly Brave, unquestionably New, at the very least sans-tyrant World) of 2021: lean, hungry, and with zero compromise....just like I did on that grim day many years ago, low on provisions, frostbitten but stoic, surrounded by wolves and bears on the vast frozen tundra of Reykjavik.
"At this point, any new novel or work of fiction is just a repetition of something that has already been said, written, ignored, derided and ultimately remaindered over hundreds of years and thousands of times. Even the term derivative is hackneyed, derivation an insufferable cliché. That is why we have immersed ourselves in the miserly lexicon of the internet, into slang and acronyms and 240 characters of abbreviated nonsense, into pictograms of ductile cartoonish non-meaning, because even language has become ashamed of itself. Even the clever knows it is not clever enough to suppress its inherent cannibalism. The only looming innovation, for literature and ultimately culture at large, will be a final, collective acceptance of the nature of our inescapable unoriginality. Probably streamed as an unnamed thousand-episode series on HBO of a hushed, forever stilled, dingily grey screen."
-from pg. 462, "The Beaudoin Omnibus of Witticisms, Observations, and Prosaic Meditations."
A mere eight years ago today, on the streets of beautiful Madrid. With a steely gaze toward a horizon of culture and sophistication I was compelled to stop in front of the Museo de Jamon. Which, yes, is the Museum of Ham. I strolled in awe though gallery after hushed gallery of hinds and dry-cures and bone-ins. Spiral cuts and smokers, Bayonnes and Black Forests, Capicola and Culatello and yard after yard of glistening Gammons. But Speck aside, it was the stunning Salt Period of Ibericos and Serranos that truly blew me away. The light, the hue and coloration, the art-brut strokes of marbled fat, the intricate brushwork, the Parma perspectives and avant-slicing, the acorn-fed beauty of it all. But oh, the casings. The delicate, whisper-thin, gossamer folds of casing. I think I can say, as a purely objective matter and without undue hyperbole, that I have never been the same since. Also, you can tell by my expression that I am unwittingly, or perhaps with full-prescience wittingly projecting myself into a hog-laden future of a very different sort, one soon to become gloriously swine-free on January 21st, 2021. It all works out in the end, friends, this life, tinged with a beechwood and juniper glaze as it is, the marvelous pungency of all that is available to us, all that awaits.
As we mark the day in 1621 when Americans welcomed a wave of hungry immigrants to Plymouth with a three-day harvest celebration, let us give thanks that four centuries later we have learned well the lessons of humility, altruism, kindness, and the inexhaustibility of our abundance. The immigrants, a hearty but somewhat over-zealous lot, had just made it through a difficult winter. 78% of the women amongst them died of hunger and disease that first year. Some fifty immigrants, almost entirely men and children, attended the feast. The Wampanoag and their leader Massasoit provided five deer, as well as fruits and vegetables, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, pumpkins, walnuts and chestnuts. He also agreed to return soon to teach the immigrants how to effectively plant corn. As word of this benevolence spread, more immigrants came to avail themselves of the great bounty of the new land, to make a humble peace with the Americans and begin a harmonic partnership which continues to this day, only momentarily dissuaded by the Mexican-funded wall hastily constructed around Plymouth Rock.
Friends, have a great Thanksgiving in this strangest of all years, either alone, somewhat together, or over Zoom.
On ABC this morning, Chris Christie ripped President Trump's legal team as "a national embarrassment." He said Sydney Powell accusing hard-right Georgia governor Brian Kemp of crimes without evidence was "outrageous conduct by any lawyer." What she alleged, with threatened evidence "that will be biblical" once revealed, includes (and this isn't a joke, I watched the entire interview) a plot by the Biden campaign to pay off Kemp to help switch votes using poll workers "trained in Venezuela," a massive fraud which was put into place by Hugo Chavez (who died in 2013). "Notice they won't allege fraud inside the courtroom," Christie said. "Only to the media." Hey, if you thought Giuliani was not only senile but leaking, this woman makes Nurse Ratched seem balanced and rational. "It is time to admit that Biden won," Christie finished, but not before Sydney Powell admitted the real evidence she's been holding onto is that Archemedes developed the fundamentals of math in 288 B.C. as a long-range plot to influence vote tallying in the greater Atlanta area (back then known as Lower Mammon) since the toga-clad traitor was aware, three centuries before Christ first emerged from a Nazarene tent, that the only way to stop the future ascension of Donald J. Trump was by craftily making basic addition, and thereby ballot counting, unprovable in court. Leave it to the sneaky Greeks to destroy the MAGA dream. So, time to give up, time to give in. Trump won in a landslide. Moving on.