With the aid of Georgia’s secret sauce, Travis Clinton Hittson is scheduled to meet his maker Wednesday, February 17. Mr. Hittson was convicted of killing Conway Utterbeck on April 4, 1992. Mr. Hittson is white, while the most recent guest of the death chamber, Brandon Jones, was black. Mr. Utterbeck , buried in Stockton, MO, is presumed to be white, although this reporter has been unable to verify that. Here is the crime story, from the Georgia Attorney General. Additional information, as noted by links, is from the UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
In the spring of 1992, Travis Hittson, Edward Vollmer, and Conway Utterbeck were stationed aboard the USS Forrestal, an aircraft carrier that was based in Pensacola, Florida, at the time. They were all assigned to the electrical division of the engineering department. Vollmer and Hittson were on the same work detail, and Vollmer was Hittson’s Leading Petty Officer. Utterbeck had a different assignment but worked in a similar capacity in the same area of the ship.
On Friday, April 3, 1992, Vollmer invited Hittson and Utterbeck to come with him to his parents’ house in Warner Robins, Georgia, for the weekend. His parents were out of town. Apparently neither Hittson nor Utterbeck was aware that the other had also been invited until shortly before they left Pensacola. The three men arrived at Vollmer’s parents’ house late Friday evening, but they did not have a key, so they spent the night in a storage shed behind the house. On Saturday, April 4, a friend of Vollmer’s parents came by to check on the house; finding Vollmer and the two others there, he gave them a key. The three sailors spent most of the day on Saturday hanging around the house, but sometime Saturday evening, Hittson and Vollmer went out drinking. They left Utterbeck at the house.
Early in the morning of Sunday, April 5, after several hours of drinking, Hittson and Vollmer headed back to the Vollmer residence. According to the statement later given by Hittson to law enforcement, he was very drunk by that time. On the drive back, Vollmer worked Hittson up by telling him that Utterbeck was “going to get us”—that Utterbeck was plotting to kill the two of them—so “we’ve got to get him” by killing him first. At some point—though it is not clear when—Vollmer told Hittson that Utterbeck had a hit list with Hittson’s and Vollmer’s names on it. When they pulled into the driveway, Vollmer put on a bulletproof vest and a long trench coat and grabbed a sawed-off shotgun and a .22 caliber handgun from his car. He gave Hittson an aluminum bat that was also in the car and told Hittson that Utterbeck was waiting for them inside the house and was planning to shoot them. Vollmer instructed Hittson to go in first and “get him” and then “get him in the kitchen”—so they would not make a mess on the carpet. When Hittson entered the house, he found Utterbeck asleep in a recliner in the living room. Hittson sneaked up on him and hit him in the head with the bat. Utterbeck woke up and jumped up out of the chair. Hittson hit him in the head again, knocking him to the floor. Utterbeck raised a hand to defend himself, so Hittson hit his hand with the bat and then hit him in the head a third time. The third hit was apparently enough to subdue Utterbeck. Hittson dragged him by his hands into the kitchen, where Vollmer was waiting. Utterbeck was still conscious and asked Hittson, “what did I ever do to you?” Vollmer gave Hittson the .22 pistol and stood on Utterbeck’s hand to keep him from struggling. Utterbeck screamed “no, no,” and begged for his life, but Hittson shot him point blank in the forehead. In his own words, “I had no emotion or nothing on my face. I know I didn’t. I was cold and Vollmer steps on his hand and . . . handed me the gun, I shot him.”
Hittson and Vollmer stripped Utterbeck’s body, taking the $62 they found in his pockets. They left the body in the kitchen and went to a nearby Waffle House to get something to eat. Upon their return, Vollmer told Hittson that they had to dismember the body and clean up the house to conceal the crime. They initially tried to cut up the body with a serrated steak knife from the kitchen, but then switched to a hacksaw from the tool shed out back. They also found a piece of slate in the shed, which they placed under the body to avoid scratching up the kitchen floor. Following Vollmer’s directions, Hittson sawed off one of Utterbeck’s hands and began working on sawing off his head, but got sick and had to stop. Vollmer finished sawing off the head, the other hand, and both feet. Vollmer also skinned part of Utterbeck’s arm and chest with a knife and a pair of pliers. The autopsy later showed that Utterbeck’s [genitalia was mutilated]. Hittson denied performing the sexual mutilation and stated that he had not seen Vollmer do it either. (Hittson stated that Vollmer acted alone in removing the victim’s genitals and carving out his rectum.)
After finishing their grisly task, Hittson and Vollmer wrapped Utterbeck’s torso and severed body parts in plastic bags and left them in the kitchen while they drove to a nearby wooded area to dig a shallow grave. As they were returning to Vollmer’s parents’ house—around 10:30 on Sunday morning—they happened to pull onto the highway in front of a local woman who was traveling in the same direction. The woman took notice of Vollmer’s car, which had an out-of-state license plate and was pulling off of a lightly traveled dirt road that led to an undeveloped tract of land owned by a friend. Suspicious, she wrote down the license plate number and a description of the car, which she later turned over to the Houston County Sheriff’s Office after Utterbeck’s torso was discovered on the property two months later. ( Louise Davidson observed a black Thunderbird with Florida license plates emerging from a seldom used dirt road in Houston County. Two people were in the car. Suspicions were aroused, and she noted the license number. When the victim’s torso was discovered two months later by loggers in an area off the same dirt road, police determined that the car previously observed by Davidson belonged to Edward Vollmer.)
Hittson and Vollmer returned to Vollmer’s parents’ house and began cleaning the blood off the kitchen floor and the living room carpet. Vollmer’s sister-in-law (who lived nearby) came by around noon on Sunday, while they were still cleaning. Vollmer left with her to go grab a bite to eat, without ever letting her inside the house. While they were gone, Hittson kept cleaning. When Vollmer returned, he and Hittson drove back out to the grave to bury Utterbeck’s torso and then went back to the house to finish cleaning. The family friend who had given them the key came by Sunday evening to check on the house again. Hittson had to quickly hide Utterbeck’s clothes and throw a blanket over a lingering blood spot in the living room. When the family friend asked where the third guy was, Vollmer told him that Utterbeck was asleep in the back room.
Hittson and Vollmer finally finished cleaning up the house sometime Sunday evening, and so they packed up and set out for Pensacola. They put Utterbeck’s severed hands, head, and feet in the trunk of Vollmer’s car, along with a few other pieces of evidence, including Utterbeck’s clothing, his identification card, and the .22 shell casing. They threw Utterbeck’s clothing and ID card in a dumpster close to Vollmer’s parents’ house. Before leaving Warner Robins, they stopped at Vollmer’s sister-in-law’s for about an hour to say goodbye. As they drove back to Pensacola, Vollmer tried to find a good place to dump the remaining body parts, but apparently did not find a spot to his liking.
They made it back to Pensacola around 6 a.m. on Monday, April 6. With Utterbeck’s body parts still in Vollmer’s trunk, they drove onto the Navy base and reported for duty aboard the Forrestal. When they got off work that day, they drove to a wooded area outside of Pensacola and buried the body parts in several shallow holes. On their drive back into town, they scattered some remaining pieces of evidence in a few dumpsters. …
When Utterbeck failed to report for roll call on Monday, April 6, the Navy took note of his unauthorized absence but did not further investigate until later that month, when Utterbeck’s mother called his division commander to tell him that she had not heard from her son since the first weekend in April—when he had traveled to Warner Robins with two shipmates. Inquiries aboard the Forrestal led Navy personnel to Hittson and Vollmer. When questioned about Utterbeck’s whereabouts, they confirmed that they had gone to Vollmer’s parents’ house over the April 3 weekend with Utterbeck, but they claimed that they dropped him off at a bar in Pensacola sometime in early morning hours of Monday, April 6. On April 27, 1992, the Naval Investigative Service issued a missing persons alert for Utterbeck, and on May 5 he was declared a Navy deserter.
On June 16, 1992, Utterbeck’s torso was discovered by loggers who were clearing the wooded property near Vollmer’s parents’ house. The loggers called the Houston County Sheriff’s Office, who unearthed the torso and sent it to the state crime lab in Atlanta. The autopsy did not reveal the victim’s identity. Upon hearing about the dead body, the local woman, who had months earlier written down Vollmer’s license plate, called the sheriff’s office. The plate number she had written down was off by one digit, so officials were not able to immediately trace the car to Vollmer.
On June 23, 1992, after receiving no new leads on Utterbeck’s whereabouts, Navy investigators broadcast a request to other law enforcement agencies for information regarding any unidentified bodies matching Utterbeck’s general description. The Houston County Sheriff’s Office responded the same day, informing the Navy that they had unearthed the remains of a white male matching Utterbeck’s characteristics approximately two miles from Vollmer’s parents’ house, with a time of death estimated sometime in early April.
Investigators from Houston County and the Navy interviewed Hittson on June 25, 1992. Hittson initially stuck to his story—that he and Vollmer had dropped Utterbeck off at a bar sometime early Monday morning—but after being confronted with the investigators’ suspicions that they had found Utterbeck’s dismembered body, Hittson confessed that he and Vollmer had murdered Utterbeck and buried him there. In a taped statement given to the investigators—which was later played for the jury—Hittson described the murder, dismemberment, and disposal of the body parts in detail. After confessing, Hittson led investigators to the spot outside Pensacola where the remaining body parts were buried. He also told the investigators where to find the baseball bat, which he and Vollmer had stashed in the rafters of the shed at Vollmer’s parents’ house. Hittson was then taken into custody by the Houston County Sheriff’s Office. That same day, Vollmer was arrested at his parents’ house.
The next day, investigators executed search warrants for Vollmer’s car and his parents’ house. They found traces of blood and .22 caliber ammunition in the trunk of Vollmer’s car. They recovered the .22 pistol, the aluminum bat, the hacksaw, the piece of slate Hittson and Vollmer used during the dismembering, and other various pieces of evidence from the house, and they found traces of blood on the kitchen floor and baseboard.
On February 27, 1993, following a jury trial, Hittson was convicted of murder, theft by taking as a lesser included offense of armed robbery, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. The death sentence was returned on March 2, 1993.
There is reason to believe that Mr. Vollmer, who was the Superior Officer of Mr. Hittson, was much more involved in the murder. “Travis Hittson was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for his participation in the murder. In October of that year, Vollmer entered a plea of guilty to murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Although he received the “lesser” sentence, it is evident from the information received in the investigation that Vollmer was the instigator in the murder, that he convinced Hittson to do it, that the manner of disposing of the body was Vollmer’s idea, and that Vollmer is, in a word, EVIL!”
The Forgiveness Foundation adds: “Travis was deprived of affection growing up and rarely received affirmation from others, leading to depression and the belief that no one could love him. Travis was enlisted in the US Navy. Many shipmates testified that he was good-natured, although dim-witted. He worked hard and was eager to please. He was also known to drink frequently and do stupid things when drunk. He did not have a prior criminal record.”
Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.
The latest podcast addiction is a Slate production called Whistlestop. WS (whistlestop, not water sports) is about presidential elections. On top of the home page is a header ad. At first it had a picture of Hillary, with the message “I’m with her.” Now, it is a prescription medication, side effects scrolling slowly on the right. The side effects of Hillary are more obvious.
Episode 24 is When the Straight Talk Express Rolled Through New Hampshire. In the 2000 election, George W. Bush was the anointed candidate for the Republicans. Challenging him in New Hampshire was John S. McCain. The winner in New Hampshire was Senator McCain. The winner of the nomination, and ultimately the Presidency, was George W. Bush.
The WS story is about how JSM got the New Hampshire voters on his side. The 2008 story will, no doubt, be a future episode of WS. JSM did the whole Straight Talk routine, and won the nomination. JSM chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Whether JSM had a chance, after eight years of W, is a good question. BHO won the 2008 election, and is currently the lame duck POTUS.
In Georgia, the electoral votes are all but conceded to the Republicans. The only time we get to choose is the primary. In 2008, PG saw the two choices were John McCain and Barack Obama. Both had flaws, but both offered alternatives to the nonsense of Mike Huckabee and John Edwards. After thinking about it, PG remembered that John McCain dropped napalm on women and children. So PG voted for Barack Obama. Once elected, BHO would fire hellfire missiles at women and children.
David Foster Wallace covered the McCain campaign for Rolling Stone. He was always good for a few thousand words, often in the first sentence. DFW had a few thoughts about why JSM was so popular.
“Because we’ve been lied to and lied to, and it hurts to be lied to. It’s ultimately just about that complicated: it hurts. We learn this at like age four—it’s grownups’ first explanation to us of why it’s bad to lie (“How would you like it if … ?”). And we keep learning for years, from hard experience, that getting lied to sucks—that it diminishes you, denies you respect for yourself, for the liar, for the world. Especially if the lies are chronic, systemic, if experience seems to teach that everything you’re supposed to believe in’s really just a game based on lies. Young Voters have been taught well and thoroughly. You may not personally remember Vietnam or Watergate, but it’s a good bet you remember “No new taxes” and “Out of the loop” and “No direct knowledge of any impropriety at this time” and “Did not inhale” and “Did not have sex with that Ms. Lewinsky” and etc. etc. It’s painful to believe that the would-be “public servants” you’re forced to choose between are all phonies whose only real concern is their own care and feeding and who will lie so outrageously and with such a straight face that you know they’ve just got to believe you’re an idiot. So who wouldn’t yawn and turn away, trade apathy and cynicism for the hurt of getting treated with contempt?”
This time, the outlaw candidate is Bernie Sanders. He won a big victory in New Hampshire. BS is lying through his teeth. He says he will make college tuition free, and install single payer socialized medicine. Everyone knows these are lies (BS²) and yet the Bernoids play along. Te-Nehisi Coates even denounced BS for not supporting reparations for Black people, even though everyone knows that will never happen. If you are going to lie, you might as well lie for everyone.
Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.
The Georgian Terrace hotel used to have an adjacent ballroom. The building opened as the “Lucky Strike”, featuring “Duck Pin” bowling. At some time, it became a 1300 seat ballroom. It was not the grand ballroom, where events for the premiere of “Gone With The Wind” were held. As time moved on, the ballroom became a music performance hall. PG saw shows there under four different business names. After the Agora Ballroom closed, the building was vacant, until a fire August 30, 1987. The site of the ballroom is now occupied by an annex of the Georgian Terrace Hotel.
The first show PG saw at this facility was in 1972. The name of the business is forgotten, as is the act that performed. A band, comprised of people PG went to high school with, played before he got there.
In 1974, “Big Time” promoter Alex Cooley opened “Alex Cooley’s Electric Ballroom”. (Alex Cooley died December 1, 2015.) The first show that PG saw was Dr. John The Night Tripper. A few months later, Capricorn artists Cowboy played, with a vulgar New York band named Mercury opening. Gato Barbieri played at the Ballroom, with PG wondering how people could dance to that type of music.
Several major acts appeared at the Ballroom, mostly without PG in the audience. KISS played there in 1974, and photographs from backstage are in the embedded video. In April of 1974, Steely Dan was across from the Fox. In the summer of 1974, The Tubes played a week at the ballroom, with another heavily hyped show. On January 23, 1976, The Patti Smith Group played at the ballroom.
In 1975, Bruce Springsteen was on the covers of Time and Newsweek, and was recieving a promotional push unlike anything seen before. He played a show at the ballroom that summer, with a generous press party in the balcony. (At one unforgettable show Alex was caught off guard by a Bruce Springsteen request. “He asked if we could shut down the cash registers because they were making too much noise!… That’s the only time I ever did that.” Alex admits.)
PG attended two shows in 1975. Mckendree Spring opened for Fanny, while PG drank too many bourbon and cokes. In November of 1975, Juice Newton opened for Hot Tuna. Miss Newton seemed to be a bit pale, and performed “Get drunk and screw”. Hot Tuna was amazing. They went on stage at 10:55, and played, without a break, until 2:50. The drummer wore a shirt, mother fucking hot tuna. Few would argue that night.
In autumn of 1977, some brave soul opened a place called “The Ballroom” in the space on Peachtree Street. One night, PG went with some friends to see an act, Happy the Man. There seemed to be a bit of chaos in the management of the facility. The Great Southeast Music Hall loaned a few microphones for the show. When the show was over, PG walked out to a car, whose motor was running, with the driver asleep inside.
In the summer of 1978, the ballroom opened as The Agora Ballroom. Apparently, there is a music hall in Cleveland with that name, and they opened branch facilities around the country. There were some shows that PG did not attend. Todd Rundgren opened the facility August 19, 1978. On October 2, 1979, The Clash played. Pictures from the crowd appeared on an album by the band. On December 2, 1981, U2 made their Atlanta debut.
A few weeks after the opening, PG won tickets to an all Texas show. Marcia Ball opened, and a bored PG went to a neighborhood bar to drink beer. PG returned later, and stayed long enough for the singer with Asleep at the Wheel to ask the crowd, Are you stoned?
In November of 1978, PG called a radio station, and asked to be put on the guest list for Talking Heads . (For Talking Heads, and three links in the following paragraphs, the link is for a previous Chamblee 54 post about the show.) The first six people he called were busy, but the last one agreed to go. On the bus going home, a group of black men started to make unfriendly comments. At the next stop, a black friend of PG got on the bus, and went to talk to him.
A few weeks later, Tim Curry made his United States debut. Some record company invested a lot of money in him, and supplied him with an outstanding band. PG was wandering around the balcony after the first show, and saw Tom Waits sitting at a table. The bodyguard said no, that’s not Tom Waits, it is just someone that looks like him. At a bar, after the show, PG was raving about what he had seen, when a lady came up to him. What color are your eyes? They are brown, because you are full of shit. Soon, the 23 Oglethorpe was taking him home.
Somewhere in the haze of 78 and 79, Ultravox brought their synthetics to the Agora. A local band, First Blood, was more entertaining as the opener. PG drank a very large can of Foster’s beer, and floated through the proceedings. After the show, PG was invited to a party in Candler Park. On the way there, there was a horrific car crash on Ponce de Leon. At the party, friends of First Blood dissected their performance, between lines of coke.
One night, PG was enjoying drink specials at a neighborhood bar. He took a break, walked over to the Agora, and saw a few minutes of a show by Freddie Hubbard.
In early 1979, the B 52s were on the verge of stardom. (Here is a nifty feature about the Atlanta local music scene in those days.) The opener for the 52s was The Brains , yet another talented band that never made it big. At the table next to PG, a lady wore a dynamite World War Two army uniform.
Later in 1979, Ted Turner had an idea for a TV show, “Live at the Agora”. The first show was filmed in Atlanta, and featured Graham Parker and the Rumor. If they ever show that film again, and you see a crowd shot, that is PG wearing a white T shirt, with a white Agora iron on logo. Parker was a great musician, who had the misfortune to look like Big Bird’s nerdy little brother. If Graham Parker had looked like Bruce Springsteen, he would have been a superstar.
In March of 1980, Lene Lovich came to the Agora. About a year later, Spirit played on Peachtree Street. The show was sponsored by a radio station, and tickets were $2.96. Despite the low price, and high musical quality, the balcony was closed, and only about a hundred people were at the show. PG thought this was odd, but little surprised him by this time.
The last show that PG caught at the Agora was The Ramones. Joey and the pinheads were past their prime, with only two original members playing. It was an all ages show, with alcohol served in the balcony. Downstairs was a festive party, with costumes and enthusiastic high school kids. The balcony was the same rock and roll drunks you had seen for years. The Ramones would have made a great oldies band, if they could have quit dying. This is a repost, with pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.
Parents Against Gun Violence have done it again. They issued a report, A few of the reasons people shot people in January, 2016. There are only 10 stories this month. In the cases where the actor is identified, 3 are white, and 3 are black. Pictures are from The Library of Congress.
The fun starts in Oklahoma, on New Years Morning. Some kids were ringing doorbells, and running away, a custom called Ding Dong Ditching. You know what happened. “The shooter has not been arrested and the Mayes County district attorney is looking into whether the shooting was lawful.”
A few days later, a young man in Memphis set off a handgun. The bullet went downstairs, and killed a 13 year old girl. Her brother got revenge by killing the upstairs man. ” Memphis Police confirmed they are searching for 19-year-old Ovell Jones on voluntary manslaughter charges in the death of 20-year-old Daniel Lusk. Jones is the brother of 13-year-old LeTara Jones, who was killed when a gun accidentally went off and hit her on January 4.”
Charles Wayne Acklen was a “former Shreveport Police Officer and Vietnam veteran who’s been financially supporting his son for years. Charles Ray Acklen was a registered sex offender, convicted of forcible rape in 1993. Other neighbors said the two had a history of arguing.” A few states north, “Larry Lotz, 65, snapped after his wife, Karen, admonished him for leaving the coffee maker turned on in the couple’s Barrington, Ill., home.”
The law tries to regulate human behavior, with uneven results. In Massachusetts, Bruce O’Brien found himself behind a snow plow that was too slow. “O’Brien has been charged with firing a gun within 500 feet of a building, carrying a firearm while under the influence of liquor or drugs, disorderly conduct and assault with a dangerous weapon. He was not charged with drunk driving because his level of intoxication did not rise to the legal level.”
“Seriously. Beyoncé releases an awesome video for an awesome song that empowers Black, southern women and it makes racist white people’s dicks invert. White folks: tell me more about how Black culture needs your approval. Or better yet, Just. Shut. Up.” A sentence should have more than one word, but only one period.
In case you haven’t heard, Beyoncé made a video with a political theme. If you don’t care, it is ok to skip the rest of the text, and look at the pictures. They are from The Library of Congress. These men were soldiers in the War Between the States.
Here is one way to see this. “I can critique the commodification of blackness by a middle class, privileged, light-skinned woman that wears fake blonde hair, shakes her ass professionally … Or I can appreciate a pop singer with a record-breaking level of fame laying claim to her blackness and making references to the crises in her community and its history when she’s not obligated and stands to lose at least a modicum of the cross-over appeal that made her so ridiculously famous by doing so.”
Beyoncé is a commercial entertainment content provider. She is good at what she does. Apparently, Beyoncé Inc. thinks people want entertainment product about #blacklivesmatter. She will probably make a few coins in the process, and more power to her. That is what entertainers do… they give people what they want.
Apparently, the halftime show did not amuse Fox news. A few more right wing whiners criticized the performance. Does anyone seriously think that Rudy Giuliani represents white people in America?
The whiny, fuck you whitey, attitude is beyond obnoxious. “make racist white people’s dicks invert” Really? Do you have any documentation for that, beyond a youtube comment? In all probability, most “racist white people” just ignore the song, if they even know it exists. The self loathing white sjw are the ones having a collective hissy fit.
You can’t have it both ways. If you want people to pay attention, and learn how #blacklivesmatter, then don’t shout White People: Shut Up About Beyoncé. Why would anyone want to talk about that song anyway? Beyoncé is dancing her way to the bank.
The super bowl itself was supposed to be a showcase for another talented African American. Cam Newton had a spectacular season, and led the Carolina Panthers into the big game. Mr. Newton likes to dance after scoring touchdowns, and has a talent for rubbing people the wrong way. Sunday was going to be his moment of glory. The Denver Bronco defense had other plans.
It is fat tuesday again. For someone who lived most of his life in Georgia, it is just another day.
In 1990, PG went to carnival. He rented sleeping bag space in a house on Marigny Street, just outside the quarter. It was like nothing he had ever seen.
This was 14 months after PG quit drinking. If he had life to do over, he would have gone to Mardi Gras first. He did feel good about going through that much drinking without being tempted to participate.
By the end of the Rex Parade, PG was getting tired of the whole shebang, Mob scenes of drunks, in costume, can get old. PG has not been back.
Two years later, the Grateful Dead was playing at the Omni, and the camp followers were in the parking lot. PG would go on his lunch hour and observe. A young lady walked by, and PG said Happy Mardi Gras. She gave him a string of beads.
Five years after that, PG had a boss from New Orleans. He looked like the Grinch who stole Christmas. He also hated Mardi Gras. PG did not know this, and greeted him Tuesday morning with a cheerful Happy Mardi Gras. If looks could kill, PG would have dropped dead. This is a repost, with pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.
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When you answer the phone, many people say “hello”. (“How may I direct your call” is an obscenity.) There are many versions of how this custom started. The rumor that hello is a polite version of hell no is unsubstantiated.
NPR published a story on hello the other day. The term is an English version of a German word, and was first published in 1827. Wikipedia notes an 1833 story, “The Sketches and Eccentricities of Col. David Crockett, of West Tennessee”. At first, it was used as a mild oath, as in , “Hello, get out of my woodpile before I hurt you”.
In the late 19th century, the invention of the telephone changed things. Alexander Graham Bell recommended ahoy to answer the phone. Thomas Edison preferred hello. Early phone books had instructions on how to answer the phone, and they recommended saying hello. The greeting stuck.
At first, the suggested ending to a phone conversation was “That is all”. For some reason this did not catch on, with Good Bye, (and the wretched Bye Bye), becoming the preferred ending. Good Bye is a contraction of “G-d be with you”, and was considered, by some, to be inappropriate.
This repost has pictures from The Library of Congress.
Back when “vanity website” weblogs were devolving into blogs, the blogroll was part of the show. You would list other blogs. Sometimes they would return the favor. If you were stuck on a strange machine, the blogroll helped you find familiar sites. You could support people starting new ventures. It was very cool, until the gift (google I facebook twitter) changed everything. People got tired of reading >140 characters. But the blogroll remained. Every now and then, it needs to be cleaned out.
So it is today. Before we got started, there were 64 names on the blogroll. 21 will be taken off this afternoon. The first casualty, and perhaps the most important, is Andrew Sullivan. His blog was a powerhouse. It had a series of high power hosts, then went on to self maintain through paid subscriptions. Mr. Sullivan, who does not suffer from false modesty, published a piece, Why I Blog. Supposedly, the worst thing you can do to a blogger is ignore them.
The next notable casualty is Blog for Democracy. BFD had a recent post, to dissect the fall of Peach Pundit. Started by certified poopyhead Erick Erickson, Peach Pundit evolved into an inclusive source of news, and commentary, about Georgia politics. It is uncertain what happened, except that most of the staff quit at once. The BFD piece, Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?*, is a bit of blog history. In this telling, the rise of facebook spoiled everything.
Two sites that deserve comment are Iraq Body Count and Palestinian Pundit. (The site that hosted Angry Arab now has hoverboard reviews.) To date in Iraq, there are “Documented civilian deaths from violence 152,037 – 171,952, Total violent deaths including combatants 242,000.” This was not from greeting the American forces as liberators. And the struggle goes on. Iraq: Authorities turn blind eye to Shi’a militia vicious reprisal killings.
There are some little stories. Two of the best names, Awkward Boners and Glitter for Brains, are no longer in business. The owner of Atlanta Time Machine was in a horrible bicycle crash, and has been in a struggle to recover. One other facility says “This blog is open to invited readers only.” PG thought he was on good terms with the owner. The PG noticed that the invited-readers-dude had blocked PG on twitter. Sometimes you just have to wonder.
Chamblee54 is here to stay. It would be fun if a few more readers discovered this site. Last year there were 39,000 visitors, or about one day of traffic at Joe.My.God. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. Editing pictures from this fine resource is a great hobby, and a blog is a fine place to put them. These men were soldiers in the War Between the States.
February 5, 1914, was the birth day of William Seward Burroughs Jr. For the rest of this piece he will be known as WSB. This is both a handy abbreviation, as well as a touch of irony for Atlanta readers. WSB radio is a 50k watt clear channell am station, owned by the same media oligarchs that own the fishwrapper and channel two. The radio tv clusterfuck has long been the symbol of Peachtree Street white column respectability. Just to be clear/queer, from here on out in this feature WSB will mean a certain junkie writer, not welcome south brother.
This is a good day for birthdays. Hank Aaron in 1934. Adlai Stevenson in 1900. Peg Entwhistle in 1908. The last one lived until 1932, when she jumped off the Hollywoodland sign.
A well thought of radio institution called “This American Life” has a show this week, Burroughs101. Actually, there is a class by that name, and there will be an exam at the end of the semester. The show is narrated by Iggy Pop. It begins with a warning. “A warning. The following program contains references to homosexuality, drug use, sex with aliens, violence, and kitty cats. What did you expect?” The show was originally cobbled together by the BBC, which might explain things a bit.
Iggy Pop did a show at the 688 club. PG was in the audience. A man named Ivan Kral was in the band. When Mr. Kral came on stage, he blew his nose, and a white powder booger came out. The performance was not so much a concert as it was an endurance test.
The show has the lazy bloggers friend, the transcript. There are some lovely quotes. This show is not going to candy coat the bastard. This is a man who shot his wife while playing William Tell, and got away with it. As one non admirer says “I don’t just take the Burroughs myth with a pinch of salt. I view it as a unpleasant slug crawling across the lawn of literature. And I like to pour salt on it.”
Or this one. “Having used heroin yourself– I think used is a bit of an understatement. I was a heroin addict on and off for pushing a quarter of a century. For myself, I find the whole Burroughs myth pretty repulsive, actually. Because I understand what happened to me. I was an addict in waiting. I got my form prize or my English prize at The Naked Lunch. And a year and a half later, I was sticking needles in my arm. … You could be lying in some pestilential piss-soaked squat in the bowels of the city listening to some moron totaled on drugs drooling on and talking about Burroughs, because Burroughs was their Leon Trotsky. He was their Archbishop of Canterbury. He was the Pope. “
One of the questions of the early eighties was whether or not WSB was shooting up. Forget the nonsense about there not being any old junkies. Supposedly Ray Charles never really quit using heroin. So, in 1981, WSB was living somewhere in Manhattan, and it was a right of passage to go to the bunker and take heroin to him. Since he was the star, he used the needle first, which was an important distinction in those days … hiv did not have a name but was running wild through the junkie veins and queer buttholes of Reaganite America. We don’t know if WSB got hiv or not. He made it until August 2, 1997, when a heart attack sent him to meet his maker. Contemporary Allen Ginsberg cashed in his chips earlier that year. In Washington, silly billy POTUS was getting knob jobs from Monica Lewinsky, who now gives TED talks by calling herself a social activist. WSB was a social activist, at a time when few would publicly admit to such a distinction.
The answer to your question is, yes, WSB was shooting dope in 1981. Somebody saw this as being an unhealthy situation, and arranged for him to move to Lawrence KS. This was his home until WSB went to live with Jesus, who was pissed because WSB didn’t bring him any smack.
So WSB was living the beat life, shooting dope, fucking boys, and just being a general mess. In his spare time he was writing books. Naked Lunch was busted for obscenity, and became his best known work. It is the first thing by WSB that PG tried to read, making it to page twenty six before declaring the endeavor a hopeless waste of brain cells.
It is not known how much of Naked Lunch Dorothy Kilgallen read. She was called as a witness during an obscenity trial for Lenny Bruce. ” …There’s another book called The Naked Lunch which I couldn’t even finish reading, but it’s published, and I think the author should be in jail and he used– Q. Unfortunately we can’t do everything at once, Miss Kilgallen. Are you judging the non-obscene quality and the artistic quality of Bruce by the fact that The Naked Lunch is a book which, as of this date, is sold in the community? A. No, I’m not. I just mentioned it because you asked me for some books. Q. And The Naked Lunch is a book you found impossible to read, is that correct? A. Yes, I found it revolting. Q. What was revolting about it? A. Just the way it was written.”
Another expert witness to testify … to a BBC reporter, not a New York courtroom … is Marcus Ewert. A Dunwoody native, Mr. Ewert took literary groupiedom to ridiculous lengths with Allen Ginsberg and WSB. “We’re getting into bed, and I’m sticking my legs down under the covers. There’s this bump that my legs feel. And I’m like, “Oh, what’s this hard thing my legs are bumping against, William?” And he said, “Oh, that’s the gun.” I said, “Is it a loaded gun?” He said, “Of course it’s loaded.” You’d sleep with a lover with a loaded gun in your bed. That’s kind of a metaphor waiting to happen.”
Mr. Marcus is now a children’s book author. An Amazon reader says this about 10,000 Dresses. “I returned mine today and was appalled as I read the story to my son before reading it to myself. Kids need to feel safe at home, especially when dealing with gender non-conformity. I wish the author would have reconcilled the reactions of the family members. It is great to have stories out there addressing gender non-conformity in kids, but we have a huge responsibility to make sure they are sending the right message.”
The death of Joan Vollmer is discussed. This is the lady who was playing William Tell one night, with fatal consequences. Some say accident, some say intentional. The word uxoricide is used, meaning the act of killing one’s wife.
The cut up technique is discussed. The show goes on to talk about how much WSB liked cats. He died, and people said nice things about him. Pictures tonight are from The Library of Congress. This is a repost. Last year, PG found an audiobook of Junky, read by Mr. Burroughs. A two part post, Junky, and Junky Part Two, was the result.