Chamblee54

Judy & Liza & RFDS & Me

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on June 6, 2020

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Judy & Liza & Robert & Freddie & David & Sue & Me…: A Memoir is a book written by Stevie Phillips, the Me in the title. One way to introduce the book is to catalog the six famous names on the cover. Judy and Liza are obvious. Stevie was the road manager/babysitter to Judy Garland. Stevie later managed Judy’s daughter, Liza Minelli, during her glory years. Stevie’s business associations with both Judy, and Liza, ended badly.

Robert is Robert Redford, who Stevie also managed. Freddie Fields and David Begelman founded Creative Management Associates (CMA), with Stevie as an original employee. David was a terrible person, who had destructive affairs with both Judy Garland and Stevie Phillips. Sue was uber-agent Sue Mengers. Stevie and Sue were good buddies for a while, until they were not.

The book is a fun read, but should be taken with a grain of salt. While not as self-serving as other show biz autobiographies, JLRFDS&M definitenly tells the story from Me’s point of view. You don’t get to be a successfull talent peddler without a fierce layer of ego, so this should be no surprise.

Chapter Eight, “Boston”, is one of the most dramatic Judy stories. The star was dressing in her hotel room before a show. Judy looked at Stevie, smiling, and cut her wrist with a razor. Stevie made a tourniquet out of a towel, and a hairbrush. She then called David Begelman. He was having an affair with Judy at this time, and was the possible motivation for the wrist-cutting. David gave Stevie a hundred dollar bill, and told her to go buy enough bracelets to cover the bandges. Stevie soon returned with a bag full of bracelets, and Judy made it to her show.

An Amazon one star review has a different take on the October 28, 1961. “I read the excerpt in VANITY FAIR and Phillips describes how before Garland’s 1961 Boston concert, Garland “slit her left wrist with a razor, cutting deeply into an artery” and that Phillips was subsequently dispatched to “buy enough bracelets to cover the bandages.” OK–except I saw a photo of Garland at this concert: where no bandages (or bracelets) are visible.

Towards the end of the story, Stevie starts going to Al-Anon meetings. On page 268: “Sometimes I imaginined Judy sitting next to me in those rooms. Of course, that would have been impossible because of her celebrity…”

I took a road trip once, with a man who used to manage a local AA meeting hall. Liza was in town, and decided that she needed to go to a meeting. The Triangle club hosted her. My traveling companion had lunch with Liza the next day.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. Balboa Beach Bathing Beauty Parade, 1925 “” Picture #06662 is from “Second International Pageant of Pulchritude and Eighth Annual Bathing Girl Revue, May 21, 22, 23, 1927, Galveston TX.”

Lewis Grizzard

Posted in Book Reports, Georgia History, GSU photo archive by chamblee54 on April 14, 2020

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In the time between 1980 and 1994, if you lived in Atlanta you heard about Lewis Grizzard. Some people loved him. Some did not. He told good old boy stories about growing up in rural Georgia. Many of them were enjoyable. He also made social and political commentaries, which upset a few people. This is a chilly tuesday morning repost, with historic pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.

PG had mixed feelings about Lewis. The stories about Kathy Sue Loudermilk and Catfish were funny. His opinions about gays, feminists, and anything non redneck could get on your nerves. His column for the fishwrapper upset PG at least twice a week.

In 1982, Lewis (he reached the level of celebrity where he was known by his first name only) wrote a column about John Lennon. Lewis did not understand why Mr. Ono was such a big deal. PG cut the column out of the fishwrapper, and put it in a box. Every few years, PG would be looking for something, find that column, and get mad all over again.

The New Georgia Encyclopedia has a page about Lewis, which expresses some of these contradictions.
“If Grizzard’s humor revealed the ambivalence amid affluence of the Sunbelt South, it reflected its conservative and increasingly angry politics as well. He was fond of reminding fault-finding Yankee immigrants that “Delta is ready when you are,” and, tired of assaults on the Confederate flag, he suggested sarcastically that white southerners should destroy every relic and reminder of the Civil War (1861-65), swear off molasses and grits, drop all references to the South, and begin instead to refer to their region as the “Lower East.” Grizzard also wore his homophobia and hatred for feminists on his sleeve, and one of the last of his books summed up his reaction to contemporary trends in its title, Haven’t Understood Anything since 1962 and Other Nekkid Truths (1992).
In the end, which came in 1994, when he was only forty-seven, the lonely, insecure, oft-divorced, hard-drinking Grizzard proved to be the archetypal comic who could make everyone laugh but himself. He chronicled this decline and his various heart surgeries in I Took a Lickin’ and Kept on Tickin’, and Now I Believe in Miracles (1993), published just before his final, fatal heart failure.”

As you may have discerned, Lewis McDonald Grizzard Jr. met his maker on March 20, 1994. He was 47. There was a valve in his heart that wasn’t right. The good news is that he stayed out of the army. At the time, Vietnam was the destination for most enlistees. The bad news is that his heart problems got worse and worse, until it finally killed him.

Sixteen years later, PG found a website, Wired For Books It is a collection of author interviews by Don Swaim, who ran many of them on a CBS radio show called Book Beat. There are two interviews with Lewis Grizzard One was done to promote My Daddy Was a Pistol and I’m a Son of A Gun. This was the story of Lewis Grizzard Senior, who was another mixed bag.

PG found himself listening to this chat, and wondered what he had been missing all those years. The stories and one liners came flowing out, like the Chattahoochee going under the traffic slogged perimeter highway. Daddy Grizzard was a soldier, who went to war in Europe and Korea. The second one did something to his mind, and he took to drinking. He was never quite right the rest of his life. His son adored him anyway. When you put yourself in those loafers for a while, you began to taste the ingredients, in that stew we called Lewis Grizzard.

PG still remembers the anger that those columns caused … PG has his own story, and knows when his toes are stepped on. The thing is, after listening to this show, PG has an idea of why Lewis Grizzard wrote the things that he did. Maybe PG and Lewis aren’t all that different after all.

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Pretty Monsters Part Five

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on March 20, 2020


This is the last installment in this series. The focus is Pretty Monsters, by Kelly Link. The first four episodes are out. (Part one part two part three part four) The Big Read artistic response will get there, somehow. So far, this review has produced little creativity at this blog. The only thing to do is slog through part five, and see if any sparks fly. If nothing else, the reader can look at the pictures. These fine images are from The Library of Congress.

Pretty Monsters is the title story, as well as the longest. It is two stories, told in alternating sections. In one, Clementine Cleary is a dippy little girl, who is saved from drowning by Cabell Meadows. Mr. Meadows later has reasons to regret extending her life. In the other story, a gang of teenage girls kidnap a classmate, and proceed to treat her to an “ordeal.” There are also werewolves. This story is spoiler free, because it doesn’t have a conclusion. Maybe the artistic response could be a poem, detailing the ending to Pretty Monsters.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 marches on. Today’s story from the far side involves Baltimore mayor Jack Young. “We’re dealing with the COVID virus and those of you who want to continue to shoot and kill people in this city we’re not going to tolerate it. We’re going to come after you and we’re going to get you … We can not clog up our hospitals and their beds with people who are being shot senselessly because we’re going to need those for people who might be infected with the coronavirus. It could be your mother, your grandmother, one of your relatives so … put down the guns.”

What is an ordeal? “It’s just this tradition,” Lee says. “Girls’ schools have all kinds of weird traditions. Normally you have your Ordeal when you’re a freshman—you know, a rite of passage or something. But we think Czigany is great, and so a couple of weeks ago we asked her if she wanted one because otherwise. … “This isn’t a road trip,” says Bad, who has known Maureen just as long as Lee has. Bad never tries to be reasonable when she can be perverse. “It’s a kidnapping. And it’s already all messed up. Just like in the movies. It will end up with Lee shooting all of us and then having to dispose of the bodies in a wood chipper.”

During the ordeal, the girls took the ordealee to the farm of someone’s aunt. “Dodo is Lee’s mother’s older sister. She’s a former anarchist who served nine years in a high-security women’s prison. Now she makes cheese instead of bombs. When she set up her herd at Peaceable Kingdom, she invested in six Toggenburgs. Over time she’s swapped, bartered, adopted, and bought increasingly more esoteric breeds. The current herd numbers somewhere around thirty goats, including Booted Goats, Nubian Blacks, Pygmy Goats, and four Tennessee Fainting Goats. Dodo spent her years in prison doing coursework in animal husbandry. Goats, she likes to say, are the ultimate anarchists.”

Dodo gives the reader important information. “Just keep an eye on your friends. Caught Bad trying to sneak up on my Tennessee girls and make them faint. What kind of name is that anyway?” “Her real name is Patricia. And I used to do that, too,” Lee reminds her. “When you were eight. Glad you’re not eight anymore. You were a real punk.” Dodo says this without a drop of fondness. “So what am I now?” Lee says, teasing. Dodo sighs. Gives Lee a hard look. “A monster. You and your friends, all of you. Pretty monsters. It’s a stage all girls go through. If you’re lucky you get through it without doing any permanent damage to yourself or anyone else.”

Meanwhile, back at the beach, Clementine has decided that Cabell is the man for her. Clementine’s girlfriends are not so sure. “Cabell Meadows doesn’t wear deodorant,” Madeline said. … Grace took over, as if she and Madeline were training for the Olympics in the freestyle unsolicited advice relay. … But you’ve grown up, Clementine, and he hasn’t, okay? At a certain age, for guys, it comes down to robots or girls. … The point is that this guy has already made the choice, Clementine. If you were all hairy and ran around in the forest maybe you’d have a chance, but you’re not and you don’t. … If Cabell Meadows is the big secret crush you’ve been hiding all of these years, God help you. Because I sure can’t.” Madeline said, “I agree with everything she just said.”

Clementine’s no-good uncle gets Cabell’s not-much-better sister pregnant. “The wedding was a disaster from the beginning. … An hour before the ceremony was supposed to begin, Mrs. Meadows had sent her off to dig through the trunk of the maid of honor’s car for tit tape. … Beach weddings rapidly became less romantic once the sand fleas found you.”

“She found a can of Coke and poured half of it out. Poured vodka in. It was almost as not-bad as everyone had said. … Things went downhill after that. … When she found Cabell, he was dancing with slutty Lizzy York, the maid of honor. It didn’t matter. Not even the hideous, antiquated music mattered. “Hey, Cabell,” Clementine yelled. “Hey, Clementine,” Cabell yelled back. He executed a dance move. “Your mom was looking for you. What’s up?” “Sorry, Lizzy,” Clementine said. “I need to show Cabell something. We’ll be right back. Promise.” …

“It’s romantic here, isn’t it?” Clementine said. “If you wanted to kiss me, I’d understand.” … “Don’t think I don’t appreciate the offer, Clementine,” Cabell said, “but hell, no.” “Oh shit,” Clementine said. “You’re gay?” “No!” Cabell said. “And stop taking off your clothes, okay? I’m not gay, I’m just not interested. Not to be an asshole, but you’re not my type.” “I’m not taking off my clothes,” Clementine said. “Just my shoes. And my pantyhose. And what do you care? Dancy said you sleep in the nude. Do you still sleep in the nude? There’s sand in my pantyhose. And what do you mean I’m not your type? What type am I?” “Underage,” Cabell said. “Unlike your uncle, I don’t go for babies.”

Everyone gets on with life, until the werewolves get involved. Cabell gets kicked out of grad school for “liberating” lab test animals. While out on bail, Cabell moves to Romania, and gets married. Clementine has a wealthy bf, who takes her to Romania. Thinds are a bit uncertain on Aunt Dodo’s farm as well. The story wears out at this point.

The book has a bonus story, The Cinderella Story. It is not on the .pdf, so there are no snappy quotes. The Cinderella Story is the tale of step-siblings who are mean to each other. This is the end of the Pretty Monsters regurgitation at this blog. You may now return to your regularly scheduled COVID-19 speculation and misinformation.

Pretty Monsters Part Four

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on March 12, 2020


Pretty Monsters is a work of speculative fiction. You visit a world created by the author’s imagination. If you make enough predictions, some are going to come true. This happens in The Surfer.

Adorno, aka Dorn, is a soccer goalie. He thinks he is pretty good. His father is a Philadelphia doctor, who brought Dorn to Costa Rica on a moments notice. “Dorn is here with his father because of Hans Bliss and the aliens. Because, you know, Hans Bliss said that the aliens are going to show up again real soon and this time he knows what he’s talking about. Not like all those other times when he said the aliens were coming back.”

Hans Bliss is some kind of hippie utopia-grifter dude. Before the end of the story, Mr. Bliss is dead. There is some kind of virus going around, killing a bunch of people. In Costa Rica, all the visitors are quarantined in a gym. They spend their days playing soccer, looking at “googlies,” and getting in arguments. Meanwhile, the virus is busy in the outside world.

“It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, telling my father when he finally came home. And we haven’t talked about it much since then. I don’t know why it’s easier for some people to talk about aliens than to talk about death. Aliens only happen to some people. Death happens to everyone.”

The quarantine continues. Dorn has a soccer match. A guard makes a fool out of Dorn. It turns out the guard was a professional player. Dorn decides to quit playing, or maybe not. Dorn doesn’t quite know what he wants to do.

The aliens really do arrive. Dorn is out of quarantine, so he can see them. “Dad,” I said. “Dad! Everyone! The aliens! They’re here. They’re just outside! Lots of them!” But I stood there feeling empty and lost and ashamed and alone until I heard my father’s voice. He was saying, “Dorn! Adorno, where are you? Adorno, get out here! They’re beautiful, they’re even more beautiful than that idiot said. Come on out, come and see!”

Is a visit from aliens going to coincide with COVID-19? Or maybe a gang of murderous con-women, like Zilla and Ozma in The Constable of Abal. “Zilla was not greedy. She was a scrupulous blackmailer. She did not bleed her clients dry; she milked them. You could even say she did it out of kindness. What good is a secret without someone to know it? When one cannot afford a scandal, a blackmailer is an excellent bargain. Ozma and Zilla assembled the evidence of love affairs, ill-considered attachments, stillbirths, stolen inheritances, and murders. They were as vigilant as any biographer, solicitous as any confidante. Zilla fed gobbets of tragedy, romance, comedy to the ghosts who dangled so hungrily at the end of their ribbons. One has to feed a ghost something delicious, and there is only so much blood a grown woman and a smallish girl have to spare.”

“the ghosts who dangled so hungrily at the end of their ribbons.” The titular Constable was one of these ghosts. When Zilla was not looking, the Constable and Ozma got to be pals. Ozma was developing into a young women, which was not convenient to Zilla. “It isn’t your fault, Ozma. My magic can only do so much. Everyone gets older, no matter how much magic their mothers have. A young woman is trouble, though, and we have no time for trouble. Perhaps you should be a boy. I’ll cut your hair.” Ozma backed away. She was proud of her hair. “Come here, Ozma,” Zilla said. She had a knife in her hand. “It will grow back, I promise.”

“I took a position in service,” Zilla said. “You are my son, and your name is Eren. Your father is dead, and we have come here from Nablos. We are respectable people. I’m to cook and keep house.” “I thought we were going home,” Ozma said. “This isn’t home.” “Leave your ghosts here,” Zilla said. “Decent people like we are going to be have nothing to do with ghosts. … This did not sound at all like Zilla. Ozma was beginning to grow tired of this new Zilla. It was one thing to pretend to be respectable; it was another entirely to be respectable.”

The new employer, Lady Fralix, is not with the program. Or maybe she is, and Zilla is out to lunch, with Ozma caught is trans-respectability purgatory. “The pink dressing gown,” Lady Fralix said. “If you let me keep your ghost in my pocket today, I’ll give you one of my dresses. Any dress you like.” “Zilla would take it away and give it to the poor,” Ozma said. Then: “How did you know I’m a girl?” “I’m old but I’m not blind,” Lady Fralix said. “I see all sorts of things. … You shouldn’t keep dressing as a boy, my dear. Someone as shifty as you needs some truth now and then.”

“It’s a good thing,” Lady Fralix said, “that most people can’t see or talk to ghosts. Watching them scurry around, it makes you dread the thought of death, and yet what else is there to do when you die? Will some careless child carry me around in her pocket? … Your mother is a goddess,” Lady Fralix said. “My mother is a liar and a thief and a murderer,” Ozma said. “Yes,” Lady Fralix said. “She was all of those things and worse. Gods don’t make very good people. They get bored too easily. And they’re cruel when they’re bored.”

There is more action, but in an effort to maintain a spoiler free blog, you will have to read the story. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. Quotes are from the .pdf. Previous episodes of this series are available. (part one part two part three part five)

Billie Holiday Stories

Posted in Book Reports, History, Library of Congress, Music by chamblee54 on February 26, 2020


How ‘Strange Fruit’ Killed Billie Holiday turned up in a facebook feed yesterday. The article states that Harry Jacob Anslinger “the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics,” ordered Billie Holiday to quit performing “Strange Fruit.” When the chanteuse declined, Mr. Anslinger had her arrested for heroin possession. Later, Mr. Anslinger was allegedly responsible for busting Miss Holiday on her deathbed.

The Hunting of Billie Holiday was the source given for the claim about Mr. Anslinger and “Strange Fruit.” The Politico article does not say that Mr. Anslinger ordered Miss Holiday to quit singing “Strange Fruit.” It does say that Louis McKay, one of the many no-good men in Miss Holiday’s life, narked her out. The bust was in 1947, after she had been performing “Strange Fruit” for several years. (Lady Sings The Blues says that Louis McKay was not in Miss Holiday’s life in 1947.)

Politico had one comment that set off the bs detector. “One day, Harry Anslinger was told that there were also white women, just as famous as Billie, who had drug problems—but he responded to them rather differently. He called Judy Garland, another heroin addict, in to see him.” Frances Gumm was well known for having substance abuse issues. The heroin business was news to a lot of people.

Johann Hari was the author of the politico article. At the time, he was promoting a book, Chasing the Scream, about the war on drugs. Johann Hari has a spotted reputation. “The author used to be the Independent’s star columnist, a prolific polemicist and darling of the left, until his career imploded in disgrace when it emerged in 2011 that many of his articles contained quotes apparently said to him but in fact lifted from his interviewees’ books, or from previous interviews by other journalists.”

The final bust, as Miss Holiday lay dying in the hospital, is part of the legend. A google search does not show what agency was responsible. Harry Anslinger may have been involved, and it may have been someone else. By this time, Elanora Fagan was in bad, bad shape. Years of drinking, and hard drugs, had worn her out. While the hospital bust may have hastened her demise, it is a bit of a stretch to say the Harry Anslinger killed Billie Holiday, because she sang “Strange Fruit.”

This is a repost. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.


Lady Sings The Blues is the autobiography of Billie Holiday. PG read it in 1978, and pulled it off the shelf recently. The copy he has is was a 1972 paperback, issued in conjunction with the movie. A picture of Diana Ross is on the cover, as well as a price sticker from Woolco. The book sold for $1.25. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. The spell check suggestion for Woolco is Cool.

William Dufty was the ghost writer. His prose is easy to read, with the story flowing out like a Lester Young solo. The 1956 copyright is assigned to “Eleanora Fagan and William Dufty,” using the birth name of the singer. Mr. Dufty was a newspaper writer. “Dufty had one son, Bevan Dufty, with first wife Maely Bartholomew, who had arrived in New York City during World War II after losing most of her family in the Nazi concentration camps. She settled near Harlem where she met her best friend and Bevan’s godmother, Billie Holiday.”

“Bevan Dufty would agree. He’s one of the childless singer’s two godchildren. … “Holiday said motherf — all the time, in her gravelly elegant way,” recalled Dufty, sitting in his City Hall office. His mother, Maely, a Czech Jewish immigrant who loved jazz, was close to many musicians and even managed the unmanageable Charlie Parker for a spell, learned to curse from Holiday. But with a European accent. Much of what Dufty knows of Holiday comes from his late mother, who was married to actor Freddie Bartholomew before her brief marriage to William Dufty, one of her seven husbands. Maely, who took her infant son by train to Philadelphia every day to attend yet another of Holiday’s drug trials, was so distraught by the singer’s death that she dedicated herself to helping recovering addicts. A number of musicians lived at the Duftys’ place while kicking the habit (William and Maely Dufty divorced not long after Holiday’s death, and he later married actress Gloria Swanson, who inspired him to write the book “Sugar Blues” about the dangers of processed sugar).”

Billie Holiday’s bio, ‘Lady Sings the Blues,’ may be full of lies, but it gets at jazz great’s core Autobiographies are, by their nature, self serving. This one has a great opening line… ” “Mom and Pop were just a couple of kids when they got married. He was eighteen, she was sixteen, and I was three.” (“Her parents were never married. When she was born, her mother was 19, her father was 17 and they never lived under the same roof.”) Another source adds: “Some of the material in the book, however, must be taken with a grain of salt. Holiday was in rough shape when she worked with Dufty on the project, and she claimed to have never read the book after it was finished. Around this time, Holiday became involved with Louis McKay. The two were arrested for narcotics in 1956, and they married in Mexico the following year. (March 28, 1957) Like many other men in her life, McKay used Holiday’s name and money to advance himself.”

Louis McKay is at the center of another misunderstanding of facts. The Hunting of Billie Holiday claimed that Mr. McKay narked out Miss Holiday in 1947, and set up her first drug bust. LSTB tells a different story. Here, Miss Holiday meets Mr. McKay very briefly in 1931. Someone was trying to rob Mr. McKay. Miss Holiday said “He’s my old man,” and chased off the robber.

Fast forward twenty five years, and Miss Holiday connects with Mr. McKay. “I hadn’t seen him since I was sixteen and he wasn’t much older and I was singing at the Hotcha in Harlem.” The two were married in 1957. They got busted as LSTB ends. Either Politico is wrong about the 1947 bust, or Miss Holiday did not tell the whole story. Either way, Harry Anslinger is not mentioned in LSTB.

Tallulah Bankhead is another missing piece of the puzzle. Reportedly, Miss Bankhead and Miss Holiday were close friends, and possibly lovers. That was over by the time LSTB was written. “When “Lady Sings the Blues” was being prepared, Miss Bankhead got an advance copy, and was horrified by what she saw. A fierce note was sent to the book’s publisher, and scenes were edited out. Miss Holiday was outraged. The letter that resulted is a poison pen classic. “My maid who was with me at the Strand isn’t dead either. There are plenty of others around who remember how you carried on so you almost got me fired out of the place. And if you want to get shitty, we can make it a big shitty party. We can all get funky together!”

Miss Bankhead does make an appearance in LSTB. On page 117, Miss Holiday is describing playing a maid, in a movie. She was not pleased at the typecasting. “Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against maids – or whores – whether they’re black or white. My mother was a maid, a good one, one of the greatest. My stepmother is Tallulah Bankhead’s maid right now, and that’s a part I’d even consider when they do her life story.” (Miss Bankhead had her own domestic help problems. In 1951, Evyleen Cronin, Tallulah’s maid and secretary, was accused of stealing $10,000-30,000 from Tallulah during her employment. … The case went to trial (much to Tallulah’s embarrassment) and Cronin was convicted.” Many embarrassing details about Miss Bankhead’s life came to light during this trial. Fanny Holiday, the stepmother, is probably a different person than Evyleen Cronin.)

Whatever it’s factual challenges, Lady Sings the Blues is a powerful book. Miss Holiday had a tough life, to say the least. As the singer for Artie Shaw’s big band, Miss Holiday was an integration pioneer, and every two bit cracker wanted to make trouble. Later, she was addicted to heroin, got busted, served time in prison, only to get out and suffer some more.

Three years after LSTB came out, things went from bad to horrible. “In early 1959 she found out that she had cirrhosis of the liver. The doctor told her to stop drinking, which she did for a short time, but soon returned to heavy drinking. … On May 31, 1959, Holiday was taken to Metropolitan Hospital in New York suffering from liver and heart disease. She was arrested for drug possession as she lay dying, and her hospital room was raided by authorities. Police officers were stationed at the door to her room. Holiday remained under police guard at the hospital until she died from pulmonary edema and heart failure caused by cirrhosis of the liver on July 17, 1959.” This is a repost.

Pretty Monsters Part Three

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on January 17, 2020


“Claire and Samantha are identical twins. Their combined age is twenty years, four months, and six days. Claire is better at being Dead than Samantha. … “When you’re dead,” the babysitter snaps, “it’s always very cold and damp, and you have to be very, very quiet or else the Specialist will get you.” It is important to note the difference between Dead and dead. One is a game that obnoxious little girls play. The other is a state of being, peculiar to plants and animals, where the functions of a living organism no longer operate.

C&S are spending the summer with their father in a haunted mansion. This fulfills two of the themes of Pretty Monsters We don’t know where the mansion is. Travelers can find it to take tours, but the reader does not have to know. New England is a likely suspect.

The second PM theme is the weirdo parent. This one has a good excuse. His wife is recently deceased. The girls talk about it all the time. In a bit of synchronicity, PG is reading The Specialist’s Hat on the anniversary of his own mother’s transition. This stood out with passages like this: “Last year they were learning fractions in school, when her mother died. Fractions remind Samantha of herds of wild horses, piebalds and pintos and palominos. There are so many of them, and they are, well, fractious and unruly.” It should be noted that a ten year old boy would probably not say anything like that. Wild horses are more of a girl thing.

One day, C&S … the girls, not the bank … were riding horses, in the magic attic of the haunted house. Or maybe it is a bicycle. That is another thing about Pretty Monsters, the details get confused. The difference between a horse, and a bicycle, is huge. You don’t shoot a bicycle if you get a flat tire.

“If you ride fast enough, the Specialist can’t catch you.” “What’s the Specialist?” Samantha says. Bicycles are okay, but horses can go faster. “The Specialist wears a hat,” says the babysitter. “The hat makes noises.”She doesn’t say anything else. … Hanging from a nail on the nursery chimney is a long black object. It looks lumpy and heavy, as if it were full of things. The babysitter takes it down, twirls it on her finger. There are holes in the black thing and it whistles mournfully as she spins it. “The Specialist’s hat,” she says.” …

“Claire weaves in and out between the chimneys, chasing Samantha and the babysitter. Samantha is slow, turning to look behind. As Claire approaches, she keeps one hand on the handlebars and stretches the other hand out towards Samantha. Just as she is about to grab Samantha, the babysitter turns back and plucks the hat off Claire’s head.” …

“Shit!” the babysitter says, and drops it. There is a drop of blood forming on the fleshy part of the babysitter’s hand, black in the moonlight, where the Specialist’s hat has bitten her. Claire dismounts, giggling. Samantha watches as the Specialist’s hat rolls away. It picks up speed, veering across the attic floor, and disappears, thumping down the stairs. “Go get it,” Claire says. “You can be the Specialist this time.” “No,” the babysitter says, sucking at her palm. “It’s time for bed.”

Monster, the next story, is about boys. The only girl is the camp counselor’s gf, and all she does is make phone calls. It is hinted that the counselor is the titular monster, since he disappears when the monster, who does not have a name, appears.

A bunch of ten year olds are at a summer camp. It is the traditional assortment of misfits and misterfits. “Yeah, James Lorbick should always wear dresses. He’s so hot.” “James Lorbick, I think you are so hot. Not.” “Leave James alone,” Bryan Jones said.”

The boys in bungalow 6 are going on an overnight expedition. It is going to rain. The boys in bungalow 4 have already been on this trip, and they saw a monster. The bungalow 4 boys are mean, and nobody likes them. This is the reason the monster left them alone.

They go on this trip. The counselor disappears to talk to his gf on the phone. While he is gone, the monster appears. Even though it is summer, it starts to snow. James Lorbick, who nobody likes, becomes the sort-of hero. We know more about the way the monster smelled, than we do about the way the monster looked.

“The snow kept falling. They did little dances in the snow to keep warm. The fire got thinner and thinner and started to go out. But before it went out, the monster came up the muddy, snowy path. It smiled at them and it came up the path and Danny Anderson shone his flashlight at it and they could all see it was a monster and not Terence pretending to be a monster. … “

“The monster had one Simpson twin under each arm. The twins were screaming. The monster threw them down the path. Then it bent over Bryan Jones, who was lying half inside one of the tents, half in the snow. There were slurping noises. After a minute it stood up again. It looked back and saw James Lorbick. It waved.”

“James Lorbick shut his eyes. When he opened them again, the monster was standing over him. It had red eyes. It smelled like rotting fish and kerosene. It wasn’t actually all that tall, the way you’d expect a monster to be tall. Except for that, it was even worse than Bungalow 4 had said. …”

“I’m sorry about the rest of your bungalow. Your friends. Your friends who made you wear a dress.” “Are you going to eat me?” James said. “I don’t know,” the monster said. “Probably not. There were a lot of you. I’m not actually that hungry anymore. Besides, I would feel silly eating a boy who’s wearing a dress. And you’re really filthy.”

This is part three of the chamblee54 exploration of Pretty Monsters, by Kelly Link. The quotes are from the .pdf. Part one, part two, part four, and part five, are available, at an internet near you. Pictures for are from the The Library of Congress. They are with the government, and here to help.

Pretty Monsters Part Two

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on January 3, 2020


PG knew he would need to write this. It was raining cats and dogs outside. The world was stumbling into war. The excuses were wearing out. Four more stories had been read in Pretty Monsters. It was time to sit down and write.

Magic For Beginners is the story of Jeremy Mars. He lives with his weirdo parents in Plantagenet VT. If you google Plantagenet VT, you learn that no such place exists. The story begins with the news that Jeremy’s mom has inherited a phone booth, and a wedding chapel, in Las Vegas NV.

First, they have to get away from Gordon Strangle Mars, Jeremy’s dad. He writes fantasy stories about giant spiders. “Jeremy … settles down with the remote control on one of his father’s pet couches: oversized and reupholstered in an orange-juice-colored corduroy that makes it appear as if the couch has just escaped from a maximum security prison for criminally insane furniture. This couch looks as if its hobby is devouring interior decorators. Jeremy’s father is a horror writer, so no one should be surprised if some of the couches he reupholsters are hideous and eldritch.”

Eldritch “strange or unnatural especially in a way that inspires fear : weird, eerie” Most people don’t use the word eldritch. Nor do they know the difference between golem,“an artificial human being in Hebrew folklore endowed with life,” and gollum, “a stoorish hobbit in tolkien stories.”

Golem and gollum turn up in plot twists from The Library, a tv show. Jeremy, and his friends, watch it fanatically. “In the previous episode of The Library, masked piratemagicians said they would sell Prince Wing a cure for the spell which infested Faithful Margaret’s hair with miniature, wicked, fire-breathing golems.”

“The George Washington statue stepped down off his plinth and fought her tooth and nail. … The statue of George Washington bit Fox’s pinky finger right off, just like Gollum biting Frodo’s finger off on the top of Mount Doom. But of course, once the statue tasted Fox’s magical blood, it fell in love with Fox. It would be her ally from now on.” Fox is a Library character, who may, or may not be dead. Likewise, Fox may be one of Jeremy’s pals, living in a Nevada phone booth. Magic for Beginners, like the rest of Pretty Monsters, can be confusing.

Mr. and Mrs. Mars need to take a break from each other. Mrs. Mars, and Jeremy, go to Nevada to take over the wedding chapel. “He never sees anyone who looks like a Forbidden Book, although he sees a transvestite go into the women’s restroom at a rest stop in Indiana.”

“Left,” he tells his mother. “Go left here. Look out for the vampires on the crosswalk.” … Four times his mother let him drive the van: once in Utah, twice in South Dakota, once in Pennsylvania. The van smells like old burger wrappers and fake fur, and it doesn’t help that Jeremy’s gotten used to the smell.” Eventually, they get to the wedding chapel, “HELL’S BELLS.”

“Good evening, Madam. Young man,” a man says and Jeremy looks up and up and up. The man at the door has to lower his head to look out. His hands are large as toaster ovens. He looks like he’s wearing Chihuahua coffins on his feet. Two realistic-looking bolts stick out on either side of his head. He wears green pancake makeup and glittery green eye shadow, and his lashes are as long and thick and green as AstroTurf.”

“We weren’t expecting you so soon.” “We should have called ahead,” Jeremy’s mother says. “I’m so sorry.” “Great costume,” Jeremy says. The Frankenstein curls his lip in a somber way. “Thank you,” he says. “Call me Miss Thing, please.”

Meanwhile, back in Georgia, PG is in the waiting room of an eye clinic. His friend “P” is having cataract surgery, and this is the follow up visit. “P” was having blurry vision, and PG was worried. The follow up appointment usually takes one hour. “P” has been behind the double doors for one hour and forty five minutes. Finally, “P” emerges. He has been in the billing department, disputing a charge.

The first three stories took a while to read. PG normally reads while warming up the vehicle, or eating dinner. It takes a while to finish anything. This changed on December 18. The computer crashed, and had to go in the shop. Suddenly, reading a dead tree book became an important diversion. PG quickly finished three stories.

The Faery Handbag begins in a Boston thrift store. Genevieve is with her pals Natasha and Natalie, and her boyfriend Jake. Genevieve is looking for the Faery handbag. “The faery handbag: It’s huge and black and kind of hairy. … Faeries live inside it. I know what that sounds like, but it’s true.”

The handbag belonged to Zofia Swink, Genevieve’s grandmother. “At the funeral, my mother said, half laughing and half crying, that her mother was the world’s best liar. … Zofia never looked like a grandmother. She had long black hair which she wore in little braided spiky towers and plaits. She had large blue eyes. She was taller than my father. She looked like a spy or ballerina or a lady pirate or a rock star. … Zofia and I played Scrabble all the time. Zofia always won, even though her English wasn’t all that great, because we’d decided that she was allowed to use Baldeziwurleki vocabulary. Baldeziwurlekistan is where Zofia was born, over two hundred years ago. That’s what Zofia said.”

“I called it the faery handbag because I put “faery” down on the Scrabble board once. Zofia said that you spelled it with an i not an e. She looked it up in the dictionary, and lost a turn. … “Your purse is made out of dog skin?” I said. “That’s disgusting!” “Little dear pet,” Zofia said, looking wistful, “dog is delicious. To Baldeziwurlekistanians, dog is a delicacy.” … “Zofia would fold up the Scrabble board and shrug at me and Jake. “I’m a wonderful liar,” she’d say. “I’m the best liar in the world. Promise me you won’t believe a single word.”

The handbag contained villages. If people went in, they came out twenty years later, and not aged one minute. One day, Zofia let the handbag out of her sight, and Jake went inside. That was the last time anyone saw Jake.

Part One, part three, part four, and part five of this series are now available. Quotes are from the .pdf. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. Jack Delano took the pictures in September 1941. The Gaynor family at dinner on their farm. Fairfield, Vermont

Pretty Monsters Part One

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on December 10, 2019


Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. The book used today is Pretty Monsters, by Kelly Link. PG was given a copy of PM, and asked to create an artistic response. This post is part one of this response. Quotes are from a .pdf of the text.

Citizen: An American Lyric was PG’s introduction to Big Read. CAAL, a rambling art book, was not a good fit for PG. (Part one Part two Part three) When the lady from 7 Stages turned up with a box of books, PG was wary.

PM is presented as a social justice commentary. “Her stories are about more than strangeness, more than the fantastic—they’re about inclusion, diversity, and acceptance of alternate world views.” PG has nothing against diversity and inclusion. He just enjoys a good story more.

PG did not need to worry. Pretty Monsters is a collection of short stories. The first two … The Wrong Grave, The Wizards of Perfil … are fun to read. Each is a fantasy, a type of story PG normally does not read. If you think enough, you can make them about alternate world views. That is, if your idea of an alternate world includes digging up your dead girlfriend.

The Wrong Grave is the story of Miles Sperry, and his late girlfriend Bethany Baldwin. Miles wrote some poems for Bethany after the car crash, and put the only copy in her coffin. Miles goes to the graveyard one night to retrieve the poems. All goes well, until there is a complication.

“He yanked and someone else pushed. The lid shot up and fell back against the opposite embankment of dirt. The dead girl who had hold of Miles’s boot let go. This was the first of the many unexpected and unpleasant shocks that Miles was to endure for the sake of poetry. The second was the sickening—no, shocking—shock that he had dug up the wrong grave, the wrong dead girl. The wrong dead girl was lying there, smiling up at him, and her eyes were open. She was several years older than Bethany. She was taller and had a significantly more developed rack.” …

“The wrong dead girl spoke first. “Knock knock,” she said. “What?” Miles said. “Knock knock,” the wrong dead girl said again. “Who’s there?” Miles said.
“Gloria,” the wrong dead girl said. “Gloria Palnick. Who are you and what are you doing in my grave?”
“This isn’t your grave,” Miles said, aware that he was arguing with a dead girl, and the wrong dead girl at that. “This is Bethany’s grave. What are you doing in Bethany’s grave?”
“Oh no,” Gloria Palnick said. “This is my grave and I get to ask the questions.” …

Miles and Gloria have a discussion about life when you’re six feet under. Gloria is delighted at a chance to escape. Miles is a bit wary. Finally, they go to a cabin, owned by someone’s weirdo parents. Most of the older people in Pretty Monsters are weirdos. After Miles leaves the room, Gloria leaves something for him.
“The dead girl reached down her shirt and into the cavity where her more interesting and useful organs had once been (she had been an organ donor). She’d put Miles’s poetry in there for safekeeping.”
As you may imagine, there are some plot twists that were not documented here. Chamblee54 tries to be a spoiler free zone. If you really want to know what happened to Miles, or The Wizards of Pefil, you will have to read the book. Efforts to bring PM to television are another, less amusing, fantasy.

The Wizards of Pefil happens in an unidentified foreign country. This is one of the themes of Pretty Monsters … you seldom know where the story takes place. Wizards also takes place during a war, but we don’t know which one. It is after the invention of railroads, but outside the grasp of recorded history. This is why they call it fantasy.

Onion and Halsa are traveling with Halsa’s mom. The soldiers are coming to their town, and they need to get out. The money is a bit short, so one of the kids has to be sold to the Wizards. First, it is Onion, but the Wizard’s flunky wants Halsa. We don’t know why they would want Halsa, and her hateful mouth. Wizards work in mysterious ways.

“Everyone knows that the wizards of Perfil talk to demons and hate sunlight and have long twitching noses like rats. They never bathe. Everyone knows that the wizards of Perfil are hundreds and hundreds of years old. They sit and dangle their fishing lines out of the windows of their towers and they use magic to bait their hooks. They eat their fish raw and they throw the fish bones out of the window the same way that they empty their chamber pots. The wizards of Perfil have filthy habits and no manners at all. … the wizards of Perfil eat children when they grow tired of fish.”

Halsa tries to get by. The wizards live in towers, out in a swamp. Onion is on a train, except when a Onion clone is hanging out with Halsa in the swamp. Onion is in a world of trouble. He knows the soldiers are going to attach the train, and kill everyone. Nobody listens to him. So his clone goes back to the swamp, where Halsa is learning about life.

“… she was coming back from the pier with a bucket of fish, there was a dragon on the path. It wasn’t very big, only the size of a mastiff. But it gazed at her with wicked, jeweled eyes. She couldn’t get past it. It would eat her, and that would be that. It was almost a relief. She put the bucket down and stood waiting to be eaten. But then Essa was there, holding a stick. She hit the dragon on its head, once, twice, and then gave it a kick for good measure. “Go on, you!” Essa said. The dragon went, giving Halsa one last reproachful look. Essa picked up the bucket of fish. “You have to be firm with them,” she said. “Otherwise they get inside your head and make you feel as if you deserve to be eaten. They’re too lazy to eat anything that puts up a fight.”

There is another plot twist, and a spoiler to avoid. This is enough for the first post. Part Two, part three, part four, and part five, are now available. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas Part Two

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on November 5, 2019


Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas finished it’s performance in front of PG’s eyeglasses. Like most Tom Robbins books, HASP does not have a satisfying ending. The author/auteur creates characters, throws them into troubling situations, and makes word jokes about their plight. Unfortunately, books come to an end, and what serves as a plot should have a termination. For this wordsmith, the journey is so much fun that the destination is reduced to an ad in the travel guide. (Author and auteur both come to us through “Middle English auctour, from Anglo-French auctor, autor, from Latin auctor promoter, originator, author, from augēre to increase.”)

The best way to approach HAFP is to forget the plot G-d, and go directly to the details, where she can be found. Like page 333, which is half of 666, but with a fraction of the opprobrium. There is this exchange, between Gwen Mati and Larry Diamond. They are the *star crossed lovers* in HAFP. “Wait a minute. You have to get the government’s permission to get an enema?” “This may be the land of the free, sweetheart, but your’e deluding yourself if you think your ass is your own.”

Larry Diamond is probably the stand in for Tom Robbins. He is full of conspiracies, hypotheses, feces, and other aromatic arcana. Considering that HAFP was published in 1994, and presumably written before then, the reader wonders what was in his crystal ball. Consider this item on page 315: “If global warming melts the polar ice caps, as some predict, we will have little choice in our resumption of an aquatic life style.” LD talks about frogs a lot in HASP, but very has little to say about pajamas. Do you say pa JAH muz, or pa JAM muz?

HAFPis full of semi-plausible conjecture projection. Consider the part on page 318, about magic mushroom spores coming to earth, from the star Sirius. Fair enough, but how did the extraterrestrial spores find their way to cowpies? The star Sirius is a key player in the morpho-mythology of HASP. How much is true, and how much was created in the mental compost of the Robbins mind? When PG read HAFP in 1996, he could only wonder. On the 2019 reading, Google is ready when you are.

The tale LD weaves involves the Dogon people of ancient Timbuktu. Here is what one source says: “The Dogon stories explain that also. According to their oral traditions, a race people from the Sirius system called the Nommos visited Earth thousands of years ago. The Nommos were ugly, amphibious beings that resembled mermen and mermaids. … The Egyptian G-ddess Isis, who is sometimes depicted as a mermaid, is linked with the star Sirius.”

Isis has a PR problem these days. For some reason, an armed terrorist/freedom fighter group is killing people in the middle east. Depending on the day, and campaign contributions, ISIS is seen as an enemy of the American people. What does this have to do with a G-ddess? Will a rebel army be named for Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, or Inanna?

“The Nommos, according to the Dogon legend, lived on a planet that orbits another star in the Sirius system. They landed on Earth in an “ark” that made a spinning decent to the ground with great noise and wind. It was the Nommos that gave the Dogon the knowledge about Sirius B. The legend goes on to say the Nommos also furnished the Dogon’s with some interesting information about our own solar system: That the planet Jupiter has four major moons, that Saturn has rings and that the planets orbit the sun. These were all facts discovered by Westerners only after Galileo invented the telescope.”

“The system is also known to the Bozo, who call Sirius sima kayne (literally: sitting trouser) and its satellite tono nalema (literally: eye star).” Lately another Kayne has become popular. He is hardly a sitting trouser. Has the Kardashian husband been gifted to us from a distant solar system?

At some point in HAFP, Larry Diamond makes plans to go to Timbuktu. He will lick the belly of the toad, and take a magic carpet ride. Gwen Mati was grossed out. “It sounds like a drug.” “Its a hallucinogenic bufotoxin. Aspirin is a drug.”

“Bufotoxin, a moderately potent poison secreted in the skin of many anuran amphibians, especially the typical toads (genus Bufo). The milky fluid contains several identifiable components: bufagin, with effects on the heart similar to those of digitalis; bufotenine, a hallucinogen; and serotonin, a vasoconstrictor. The composition of the poison varies with the species of toad. Taken internally, the poison causes severe, even fatal reaction in many predators, but some animals (e.g., hognosed snakes) are not affected. The poison does not normally affect human skin, but it does irritate the eyes and mucous membranes.” There was no word on spores from outer space.

This is enough fun for one day. Part one of this series is available at an internet near you. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas Part One

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on October 5, 2019


In 1996, PG was in a phase of his life. The details are not important. As usual, he needed escapism. Then he found Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, by Tom Robbins. One night, on page 183, he saw a sentence: “Mister when you redecorated your brain room, you hung the pictures upside down.”

Three characters of HAFP are involved in that sentence. The voice was inside the head of Gwendolyn Mati. GM is the central figure here. She is a stock broker, on the easter weekend after the stock market crashes. Mister is Larry Diamond, who bears a gruesome resemblance to Tom Robbins. LD, whose middle name might start with S, is a former stockbroker. He talks too much. As fiction fans know, eventually GM and LD are going to fuck, but not before 269 foreplay pages.

The person redecorating the LD brain room is Q-Lo Huffington. (Yes, Q-Lo sounds a lot like the Spanish word for butt. Wait until you meet Motofusa Yamaguchi.) Q-Lo reads tarot cards, and does other things. Q-Lo is a pal of GM, and had a professional arrangement with LD. Q-Lo is also missing on page 183. GM suspects LD of doing something terrible to Q-Lo.

PG is currently on page 230 of HAFP. The story has 156 pages to go, making this a proper time to post part one. Q-Jo is still missing on page 230. Yes, you read that correctly. When PG looked at the page number of the last page, he glanced up, and saw the name Q-Jo Huffington. Calling her Q-Lo was a mistake. Her appearance on the last page implies that she will be found alive. This is one of several loose ends that need to be tied up at the 230 mark.

Getting back to 1996, PG was in a bad way. He read the line about hanging pictures upside down, and began to think. PG had a poster of Grace Jones by the front door. Her hairdo was flat, and tough. If you were to turn her upside down, the hairdo could support her. PG turned the poster upside down, and immediately felt the quality of his life improve.

HAFP was originally published in 1994, and written before that. It takes place over Easter weekend. A post 1987 stock market performance is rocking the world. At one point, GM and LD are in a bar. Someone turns the tv away from a baseball game. “I guess the President is going to make an important speech or something.” You scowl at her for confusing you with one of those Cheeto heads who short their potential and downside their IQs watching televised sports.” Could the author, as insightful as he is, known that twenty five years later it would be the fans of the president that might be called Cheeto heads?

In any Tom Robbins book, the plot is just an excuse for the author to exhume existential eggshells, out of the compost pile of life. An example might be on page 126. “For years now, most automobiles have been designed to roughly resemble eggs. Manufacturers claim the ovoid shape maximizes aerodynamic efficiency, but if that is true, how come a bird has to break out of the egg before it can fly.” Maybe the bird is R. Kelly, and if you believe you can fly, then you can. The truth is, anybody can fly. The problem is landing.

“…if we aren’t learning something from a new experience, it’s usually because we aren’t paying attention. Or we’re following the wrong libretto.” The author says libretto a lot in HAFP. It reminds PG of something else he read. Arthur Marx wrote a book, My Life With Groucho/Growing Up With the Marx Brothers. Groucho’s idea of a good time was to pass out librettos, and listen to Gilbert and Sullivan records. Groucho later performed in The Mikado on television. Pictures for this saturday morning cartoon are from The Library of Congress.

Factotum

Posted in Book Reports, GSU photo archive by chamblee54 on September 14, 2019

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PG was in a seedy chinese buffet, when he realized that only a page remained on Factotum. Should he go back, and get a second cup of ice cream? The scene was far removed from the Charles Bukowski/Hank Chinaski tale of alcoholic Los Angeles. The time is World War II, a conflict that is seldom mentioned. Hank does not seem to miss anything.

There is a barber shop a couple of shops down from the chinese buffet. PG took his brother, GP, to get a haircut there. 082719 – Took GP to the barber shop. Since the basement barber shop has closed, GP wanted to go to Eliot’s Barber Shop in Chamblee Plaza. There has been a bs in that spot as long as PG can remember. The barber pole may be the original one. It looks like it has taken direct sunlight, and the red white and blue is now pink gray and lavender. Below the pole were paper boxes for the fishwrapper and CL. They are seldom used now.

A parking spot was open in front of the bs, and PG took it. Next door was a UPS store. There must have been four or five vehicles to park next to him, in the twenty minutes or so that it took the barber to cut GP’s hair. The last one was a red pickup, with big tires and a Forstyth county plate. The book was Factotum by Charles Bukowski. The young man is in New York and Philly. Every time a truck pulled into the parking spot, young Hank has gotten another crappy job, and left it to get drunk. PG was beginning to notice a pattern when GP came out of the bs.

Hank Chinaski is not an inspiring character. He is a drunk. No one knows how many jobs he got fired from in Factotum. It is like counting how many drinks George and Martha enjoyed in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? “I always started a job with the feeling that I’d soon quit or be fired, and this gave me a relaxed manner that was mistaken for intelligence or some secret power.”

Hank is a hetero. Jan is the lady Hank keeps coming back to/coming in to. Jan drinks as much as Hank, and has a nasty mouth. “She was compulsively unfaithful – she’d go off with anyone she met in a bar, and the lower and the dirtier he was the better she liked it. She was continually using our arguments to justify herself. I kept telling myself that all the women in the world weren’t whores, just mine.” Jan did have one redeeming quality. “jan was an excellent fuck… she had a tight pussy and she took it like it was a knife that was killing her.”

“You know, I’m not a clothes man. Clothes bore me. They are terrible things, cons, like vitamins, astrology, pizzas, skating rinks, pop music, heavyweight championship fights, etc.” “We all sat there and looked at each other and didn’t look at each other. We chewed gum, drank coffee, went into restrooms, urinated, slept. We sat on the hard benches and smoked cigarettes we didn’t want to smoke. We looked at each other and didn’t like what we saw.”

“That scene in the office stayed with me. Those cigars, the fine clothes. I thought of good steaks, long rides up winding driveways that led to beautiful homes. Ease. Trips to Europe. Fine women. Were they that much more clever than I? The only difference was money, and the desire to accumulate it. I’d do it too! I’d save my pennies. I’d get an idea, I’d spring a loan. I’d hire and fire. I’d keep whiskey in my desk drawer. I’d have a wife with size 40 breasts and an ass that would make the paperboy on the corner come in his pants when he saw it wobble. I’d cheat on her and she’d know it and keep silent in order to live in my house with my wealth. I’d fire men just to see the look of dismay on their faces. I’d
fire women who didn’t deserve to be fired.”

“I remembered my New Orleans days, living on two five-cent candy bars a day for weeks at a time in order to have leisure to write. But starvation, unfortunately, didn’t improve art. It only hindered it. A man’s soul was rooted in his stomach. A man could write much better after eating a porterhouse steak and drinking a pint of whiskey than he could ever write after eating a nickel candy bar. The myth of the starving artist was a hoax.” This book report was fueled by coffee, a bowl of basmati rice, and canned black bean fiesta. An craftsman should choose the tools that work best for him. The rice was $1.39 for a five pound bag, on the close out table at Kroger. Being cheap doesn’t have to be evil.

Hank Chinaski gets to the bottom line of the human condition. He got yet another ill-fated job. This one included working as a janitor. The importance of this job soon became manifest. “Nothing is worse than to finish a good shit, then reach over and find the toilet paper container empty. Even the most horrible human being on earth deserves to wipe his ass.”

Early in the book, Hank goes to jail for public drunk. His father… immortalized in Ham on Rye … asked him “What? You’d dare drink right after getting out of jail for intoxication?” To which Hank replied “That’s when you need a drink the most.”

PG went to Kaycee’s for dinner. It is a buffet on LaVista road, across the way from the mall. It is your basic buffet… fried chicken every night, veggies out of a can, and best of all, carrot and raisin salad every time. You go in, pay, tell the lady what you want to drink, and get your food.

Tonight the lady was a tiny asian named Busybee Helen. She brought a couple of glasses of tea, and then asked PG if he wanted some ice cream. Naturally, He said yes. Factotum is still the reading material. Hank met a lady in a bar, and wound up back at her house, along with a drunk named Wilbur, and two other ladies. Wilbur Oxnard is a closet millionaire.

The four of them go out to sea in Wilbur’s boat. Wilbur gets mad at Hank and the girls, and leaves them. The boat has plenty of food and drink, so they are not too broken up, except that it is getting cold. One by one, the girls crawl up into Hank’s bunk to get warm. In the process, they get more than warm, thanks to Hank’s pecker. Meanwhile, the other girls protest that they are friends, and that Hank shouldn’t be doing this. Did this really happen, or is it the overactive Bukowski imagination?

The ice cream never does come out. Busybee Helen asks if PG wants more tea. He says no thank you, and leaves. Life is what you make of it.“The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. supplies the pictures today.

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On The Road: The End

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on July 30, 2019


The On The Road series is sputtering to a halt. PG seems to remember doing the first 2 chapters of part 4. He did not copy the link to the overview. The next step is to review the last 15 days of posting, to see if it turns up. It turns out PG wrote The Bike Wreck in the waiting room of a doc-in-a-box.

The injured shoulder is still a problem. Such is the life of an old fogie. Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassady and Sal Paradise/Jack Kerouac both croaked in their forties. Life fast and leave a pretty corpse. Pictures of merry prankster Neal are not pretty. Even compared to William F. Buckley, Kerouac is not pretty. Maybe the best thing to do is wallow in youtube degenerate research, take notes, and put off writing this book report one more day.

A few slack days passed. Just bite the bullet, start to write something, and maybe the creative juices will kick in. In chapter 3, Dean arrives in Denver. D&S go out looking for kicks, and come home without getting kicked. “Say, Dean gets crazier every year, doesn’t he?” “I had finally found the castle where the great snake of the world was about to rise up.”

In chapter 4 of part 4, the crew starts to go to Mexico. D&S now have a third stooge, Stan, who gets bitten by a critter, and needs to go see a doctor. Soon, they are in the endless travel vortex of Texas. “Texas was undeniable; we burned slowly into Abilene and woke up to look at it. “Imagine living in this town a thousand miles from cities. Whoop, whoop, over there by the tracks, old town Abilene where they shipped the cows and shot it up for gumshoes and drank red-eye. Look out there” yelled Dean out the window with his mouth contorted like W.C.Fields.” At some point, Dean quits talking for a few minutes, then starts back again. Soon, the border came and went.“Behind us lay the whole of America and everything Dean and I had previously known about life, and life on the road. We had finally found the magic land at the end of the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic.”

“The boys were sleeping, and I was alone in my eternity at the wheel, and the road ran straight as an arrow. Not like driving across Carolina, or Texas, or Arizona, or Illinois; but like driving across the world and into the places where we would finally learn ourselves … These people were unmistakably Indians and were not at all like the Pedros and Panchos of silly civilized American lore — they had high cheekbones, and slanted eyes, and soft ways; they were not fools, they were not clowns; they were great, grave Indians and they were the source of mankind and the fathers of it… For when destruction comes to the world of “history” and the Apocalypse of the Fellahin returns once more as so many times before, people will still stare with the same eyes from the caves of Mexico as well as from the caves of Bali, where it all began and where Adam was suckled and taught to know.”

Before long, the boys were in Gregoria. A guide named Victor appeared. Soon los muchachos tienen marihuana para fumar. The next verse, in this Gregorian chant, was a visit to a whorehouse. “Soon it would be mysterious night in old gone Gregoria. The mambo never let up for a moment, it frenzied on like an endless journey in the jungle. I couldn’t take my eyes off the little dark girl and the way, like a queen, she walked around and was even reduced by the sullen bartender to menial tasks such as bringing us drinks and sweeping the back.”

“I was set upon by a fat and uninteresting girl with a puppy dog, who got sore at me when I took a dislike to the dog because it kept trying to bite me.” Dean had no such troubles. Dean Moriarty, or real life destination Neal Cassady, was a legendary stud. Everybody Knows, Nobody Cares, Or: Neal Cassady’s Penis. When you ask if the Cassady hopalong was cut, or uncut, you are directed to That time Gore Vidal porked Jack Kerouac. To Mr. Vidal’s surprise, Mr. Kerouac was circumcized.

As Allen Ginsberg/Carlo Marx knew, Neal’s goodies were not for ladies only. At one point early in their relationship, Carolyn Cassady/Camille saw more than was customary and reasonable. “What was so wrong with three people who loved each other sharing a bed at the same time? Lu Anne asks in “One and Only” (Heart Beat … shows Carolyn discovering Lu Anne in bed with Neal and Allen Ginsberg.)” Lu Anne Henderson, Marylou in OTR, was Neal’s first wife.

The boys go on to Mexico City, another gone party out of control. Sal gets some kind of tourist bug, and is deathly ill. “I didn’t know who he was anymore, and he knew this, and sympathized, and pulled the blanket over my shoulders.” Dean needs to get back to his wives, and leaves Sal to fend for himself. You knew I was a scorpion when you gave me a ride.

Part five is only a few pages long. Sal gets back to New York eventually. Dean sends him a letter. “I wrote to Dean and told him. He wrote back a huge letter eighteen thousand words long, all about his young years in Denver, and said he was coming to get me an personally select the old truck himslef and drive us home.” This letter was said to inspire Sal’s not-writing-typing style, and may have been plagiarized. “The letter was put up for sale at Christie’s in 2016, but failed to reach the $400,000 minimum. It was offered again in March at Heritage Auctions, where Emory purchased it for $206,250, including buyer’s premium, according to information on the auction house’s website.”

So much for the gasoline soaked adventures of Dean and Sal. The previous installments of this series are available. part one part two part three part four part five part six Pictures for part seven today are from The Library of Congress.