Surviving The McMansion Next Door

Posted in Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 26, 2022









Many houses in the metro area are doomed. When you have a little fifties tract house sitting on platinum land, the future is obvious. If you are happy in your little house, you might have neighboring houses torn down. Construction can be a painful process.
PG got a document, Homeowner Survival Kit During Construction. Some of the text is reproduced below. There were document copies, which are available here.
The rules in these emails are for pre-Brookhaven Dekalb County. You might want to do a little research, and see what the rules are for your area. The different governments have different departments governing construction. Some are going to be more responsive than others.
1- Zones are highlighted for your area. If you see unsafe or dangerous acts, call your zone inspector, or chief, and register your complaint.
2- If your property, fences, plants trees, home, is damaged, first get name of worker/equipment operator, supervisor, and finally company, make complaint, then determine who is liable for repairs, and, more importantly, who will pay.
3- Obtain business cards from all vendor companies, or names and phone numbers from the signs or equipment. You may need them later.
4- Keep a log of various operations, i.e. grading, silt fencing, foundation, footing, framing, waterproofing, etc., again for future reference.
5- If workers use yard as toilet immediately call area building inspector. There should be a porta potty installed for every ten workers.
6- Female homeowner should dress appropriately to discourage negative attention by workers.
7- Remember, these suggestions are only a few of the possible acts that may be violations of the international residential code for one and two family dwellings, 2000, which is in use in GA currently. DeKalb County, and Brookhaven, also have building codes.
8- The development department officials work for you, the tax payer. Don’t hesitate to call any one of them if you feel there is a need.
Pictures are from The Library of Congress. This is a repost.







Snob Supremacy

Posted in Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 22, 2022

This is a double repost. There are quotes from a defunct site, Owldolatrous. Pictures are from The Library of Congress. This was written in the style of H. P. Lovecraft.
What is a snob? PG always thought it was someone who thought he was better than others. This is one of the “sins” that most people denounce, and then practice. Who doesn’t see someone that is just a few notches below you on the scale of human coolness?

A trip to the dictionary yields this: 1-a person who imitates, cultivates, or slavishly admires social superiors and is condescending or overbearing to others. 2-a person who believes himself or herself an expert or connoisseur in a given field and is condescending toward or disdainful of those who hold other opinions or have different tastes regarding this field: a musical snob.

The origin of the word is amusing. Snob was a nickname for a cobbler, or someone who makes shoes. This is a working class occupation, but one that is needed by all people. How this would become a label for someone who “puts on airs” is a mystery.

There are snobs in a book PG is reading, “The city of falling angels” by John Berendt. An American writer goes to live in Venice, and has tales to tell. At one point, there is a dispute in an organization devoted to restoring stuff in Venice, and some of the players are labeled snobs. On page 318, there is a definition of a snob. You can be a snob upwards, by working the people on a level above you. Or, you can be a snob downwards, by being rude to those on a level below you.

The reader may have figured out by now that this post is going to ramble for a few paragraphs and not really go anywhere. The practice of “uppity”, or “putting on airs”, is hard wired into the consciousness of almost everyone. Like telling the truth and lying, no one wants to admit to being a snob, and yet almost everyone plays the game on some level.

“Supremacy is the habit of believing or acting as if your life, your love, your culture has more intrinsic worth than those of people who differ from you. Supremacy can be about race, but it doesn’t have to be. Supremacy and hate aren’t identical, but they often go together. Some people turn supremacy into an over-arching philosophy. For most, it’s just a habit of mind. As a habit of mind, supremacist ideas can spring up in anyone. Being liberal doesn’t make you immune. Being gay doesn’t make you immune. Being a minority doesn’t make you immune.”

There is more, but this is enough for our morning discussion. Supreme, Supremacy, Supremacism, Supremacist. It is not just for white people. The whole business of thinking that you are somehow better than your neighbor is part of being a human being. Think about it, aren’t there some people that you think you are better than? Of course there are. You are a competitive animal, and you have to win sometimes. You, and your tribe, are just better than that other tribe.

PG saw a sign over a desk once. I have never met a snob who was not a born liar. Above this sign was a plastic case. In the plastic case was a white dress shirt, with an ink stain in the front pocket. Like telling the truth and lying, no one wants to admit to being a snob. Still, almost everyone plays the game. Maybe the sign should have read “I have never met a human being who was not a born liar.“ Many of those lies begin with “I am not a ___.”

There is a concept, mythos over logos. The idea is, when you present people with information that contradicts a long held belief, the person will ignore the information and stick to the belief. This is related to the concept of supremacy. What happens when you think you are better than a person, and you get evidence that the person is better than you? You will ignore that evidence, and continue to believe the person is inferior to you. It helps when your magic book agrees with you.

Is Anti-Racism a form of supremacy? PG associates with a so called “radical community”. There has recently been a rabid discussion about racism. Now, this is a pretty enlightened bunch. The type of virulent racism that PG saw growing up in Georgia is simply not there. This does not stop the Anti Racist Supremacist Egophile (ARSE) from looking for racism to combat. The ARSE will expand the definition of racism to include every PWOC, except him them and his their immediate tribe.


Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 21, 2022








A podcast, read poetry and eventually die, featured a poet named John Mortara. PG became interested when the poet was a queer witch, or was it witchy queer. Never mind that the poet writes more about prozac than black magic. Just because poets take prozac, that doesn’t mean that prose writers take poetryzac. This is a repost.

It turns out there was an Atlanta stop on a tour. PG drove through Dickhater, past the Donald Trimble Mortuary, until a string of red brick houses appeared. PG looked at the mailbox of the first one. The mailbox fell off the pole. That was not the correct house.

PG got there twenty minutes early, and drove around the neighborhood until nine pm. In a few minutes, the hostess announced that the event was taking place in the basement. There was a half hour before the event started.

The basement had atmosphere. Literally. At one point, the host announced that cigarette smoking was acceptable inside. Holy 1958. It had been years since people smoked indoors, and here was a crowd of young, young people… one poet read a piece about the one hair on his chest, which he names after either republicans, or democrats, depending on how bad it smells. He read the poem from his phone.

The host and hostess did double duty as the master, and mistress, of ceremonies. They wore bathrobes, that were supposed to be lab coats. They were auditioning people to take on a trip to Mars. There must be a shortage of poets, comedians, and tweeters on the red planet.

For a while they alternated poets and comedians. A lady said she could choose from playing fake blackjack with geriatric queers at the Hideaway, or going to Lithonia to have sex for ten minutes. A man made murder Kroger jokes. PG crouched on a wooden shelf thing in the corner of the basement, with an exposed light bulb shining in his face.

After a few performers, there was an intermission. PG went back to his vehicle, which was not broken into. He got a baseball cap, to block the light bulb.. At this point the hostess made the glorious announcement that smoking was not allowed in the basement. The air conditioning brought the aroma upstairs. The back yard kudzu approved.

During the intermission, the sound system was tweaked to allow two ladies to perform. The tweaking did not take, and they shouted “stay off my snapchat you piece of shit homie” over the recorded music. For faux microphones, the ladies used a mountain dew bottle, and a comb.

The final performer was John Mortara. (spell check suggestions: Mortal, Mortar) The poet had purple hair, a wool hat, and a sleeveless shirt saying “I am a unicorn.” The first piece was recited from memory, with no need for a microphone. There was a piece about tweets written on prozac… all that twitters is not gold. Soon the show was over. The last line: “Told my dad I’m a fricken witch.” Pictures for today are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. UPDATE This comment appeared on facebook. John Mortara “i am frequently misgendered throughout this article and it makes me angry.” An attempt at correcting this has been made. UPDATE TWO Here is the story of what happened later. UPDATE THREE Read Poetry and Eventually Die was hacked by by Mr.dexter.305. This attack from Saudi Arabia.









List The Qualities It Has

Posted in Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 19, 2022





This blog tries to publish something everyday. This blog has a huge archive. Today, we are going to try something. We have three posts, all of which were posted on May 30. (2009, 2014, 2015) Text will be edited, out of concern for the reader’s tolerance of gratuitous ranting. Pictures are from The Library of Congress, and are better than the text. The topics for discussion are race and religion. Some things never go out of style.

PG found a thingie on the internet today. It is a list of twenty reasons why the person at BEattitude is no longer a Jesus Worshiper. It has 331 comments. Does anyone the time them all? (The link does not work in 2018) The man is in what you might call phase one post Jesus. He sees things in terms of the Christian Experience. The further you get from Jesus Worship, the more you see that Jesus is not the only game in town. The free for all going on in the comments thread is much more pleasant in digital form. In person, you would have 300 people interrupting and screaming at each other. Some think that the louder you talk, the more truth your words have.

Jesus is a touchy subject for many people. Many people have been verbally assaulted, in the name of spreading salvation. The fact that you don’t agree with these ideas does not stop people from feeling obligated to tell you about one more time. It serves to create ill will for Jesus. It does not help when this Jesus-fix is delivered as a ceremonial part of a government meeting.

Once, a man saw his child get excited when there was a prayer on TV. The kid said that the prayer meant the cartoons would start soon. There was a religious program, before the cartoons. The prayer was at the end of the show, meaning the cartoons were about to start. That is about what prayers before a public event are worth. Prayer is reduced to a meaningless gesture, when used in this manner. This does not speak well for the custom of prayer.

Jesus reportedly said this. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Whenever you hear the word G-d, the word believe is not far behind. The two seem to go together. PG wonders if belief is really the proper way to “know” G-d. Remember, the middle three letters of beLIEve is LIE. The symbolism of the cross is rather distasteful. A cross was a method of capital punishment, and a rather gruesome method at that. If Jesus were to be offed in prison today, would future generations worship a syringe?







A popular link on facebook these days is to an article in Slate magazine, Why Do Millennials Not Understand Racism? It is written by Jamelle Bouie, and is based on the MTV Survey on Millenials and Race. Mr. Bouie does not like the results. One question might be why he is paying attention. The results are broken down in two groups, white and POC. The study was conducted in English. The respondents were 14-24 years old, with the under 18 crowd needing parental permission. Only people who watch MTV were interviewed. The questionnaire is not included in the report. The study does not go into the family income, or level of education in the family. The only breakdown is white vs. POC.

Some questions were asked about “microaggressions” … “brief and commonplace actions or words that are subtle examples of bias. Microaggressions can be intentional or unintentional, and often communicate negative feelings towards people of color.” POC report having more problems with microaggressions than white people. One possible reason for this is the fact many white people have never heard of microaggressions.The use of microaggression is one reason for using English only.

Mr. Bouie makes a few broad comments. Remember, he is talking about a group of MTV watchers. “More jarring is the 48 percent of white millennials who say discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against racial minorities. … But while this reaction doesn’t seem to have a basis in reality, it makes perfect sense given what millennials writ large believe about racism.” Maybe this is white privilege. Many white people are not sensitive to being discriminated against. What is a microaggression to one person is a rude comment (or misunderstood look) to another.

Maybe this is another case of the younger generation being misunderstood by the old fogeys. The study makes the shaky claim that “The majority of millennials believe that their generation is post-racial.” Perhaps … and this just might be a good thing … there are people coming along who are more interested in solving problems, than in worrying whether the problem affects white people more than POC. Maybe, just maybe, the divide and conquer tactics of the ruling class are being seen as the foolish distractions that they are. Those who enjoy screaming about racism could find themselves obsolete in a few years. This might not be such a bad thing.






The Labyrinth And The Maze

Posted in Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 18, 2022

Walking the labyrinth is a practice in many traditions. “The labyrinth is a tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. … It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path from the edge to the center and back out again. A labyrinth is unicursal – it is only one path. The way in is the way out. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again.” Last Saturday, I walked into, and out of, a labyrinth.
There are similarities between the labyrinth, and her sister, the maze. Both labyrinth, and maze, have four parts. There is the path you walk on. The path has several layers. The largest layer is on the outside, and the smallest one in the center. Most, though not all, labyrinths are circular.

The layers of path are separated by a wall, which is the second part. There is an opening in this wall, which enables you to go from one layer, of path, to another one. Finally, there is a barrier across the path, which does not allow you to go any further. This is a section of wall, which crosses the path at a ninety degree angle.

Both the labyrinth and the maze consist of these four parts. The difference is the way that the openings, and the barriers, are used. In the labyrinth, you walk the entire length of the course, in an orderly manner. In the maze, you must make choices. If you make the correct choice, you can move on to the next level. If you make the wrong choice, you will come to a dead end.

Saturday’s labyrinth walk was led by a man, who we will call the Guide. He talked to the group before walking the labyrinth. I got a late start, and missed most of his comments.

Later, I spoke to the Guide, and mentioned some of the similarities between the labyrinth and the maze. The Guide became angry at my observation. He said something about sacred geometry. The Guide also mentioned that most labyrinths are on the ground only, where the maze often has walls that physically prevent you from walking over.

”Labyrinths and mazes have often been confused. When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind alleys. It is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into the maze and out.”

“A labyrinth has only one path. It is unicursal. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again. A labyrinth is a right brain task. It involves intuition, creativity, and imagery. With a maze many choices must be made and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center. With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. The choice is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.”

Is it possible to change a labyrinth into a maze, or a maze into a labyrinth? You would leave the basic path, and walls, in place. You would then re-arrange the openings, and barriers, so that the walls and path become either a labyrinth, or a maze. It is a binary choice. Your course is a labyrinth, with a logical unicursal direction. Or, it is a maze, with both correct choices, and dead ends.

The labyrinth walk is a well established spiritual tradition. There is also the possibility of using the maze as a alternative. In the labyrinth, there are no choices, and you are free to focus on your spirit.

In the maze, you will need to make choices. You will not have any clue about which choice is correct, and which one will lead to a dead end. You will have to maintain your enlightened state, while dealing with adversity. This is life … dealing with incorrect choices, while maintaining a level of grace.

There are many labyrinths available. The labyrinth locator can direct you to one, with information about how much public access is available.

Old Men is a portable labyrinth, which frequently appears at Burning Man events. It is made of tent stakes, and fabric walls. “The labyrinth is a modification of a 15th century design. It is octagonal, with four entrances leading to the center. Each path splits and rejoins twice before reaching the center. The participant can then choose which of the four paths to exit from.”

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

Hank Chinaski

Posted in Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 15, 2022

In the next quarter century, the surplus grew, thanks to Bukowski’s nearly graphomaniacal fecundity.
“I usually write ten or fifteen [poems] at once,” he said, and he imagined the act of writing as a kind of entranced combat with the typewriter, as in his poem “cool black air”: “now I sit down to it and I bang it, I don’t use the light / touch, I bang it.”
As could have been predicted, it started with a post at Dangerous Minds. The feature was about the late Charles Bukowski, who was called Hank by those who knew him. The writer/drunk had always been a bit of a fascination to PG. Out of the millions of useless drunks feeding the urinals of planet earth, at least one will turn out to have had literary merit.

A trip to Google city is made, and quotes from the bard are found, along with the wikipedia page. All of this leads to a New Yorker piece about the gentleman. After nine paragraphs, and two poems, there is the phrase that set off PG…graphomaniacal fecundity.(spell check suggestion:nymphomaniac)

As best as we can figure, g.f. means that Hank wrote a lot of stuff. This is a good thing. PG operates on the notion that if you keep your quantity up, the quality will take care of itself. Hank seems to agree, spitting out product “like hot turds the morning after a good beer drunk.” He seemed to take pride in doing what Truman Capote said about Jack Kerouac…he doesn’t write, he types.

If you google the phrase graphomaniacal fecundity, you can choose from 71 results. The top six apparently quote the article in New Yorker. A blogspot facility called poemanias quotes the paragraph from the New Yorker, with the title “On Bukowski’s afterlife”, while Fourhourhardon reprints the entire thing. Neither provide a link back to the original.

Goliath and Petey Luvs Blog take the same copy-paste approach. The first tries to get you to pay for more reading material. This forum also does the control A-C-V approach, but yields this comment : “He was a contemporary of the Beats, but not quite one of them because he was darker and not as willing to smoke a joint and sing Phil Ochs songs on the lower east side.” The truth is, Hank hated marijuana, and had the classic alcoholic attitude about it. So it goes.
Keep and share copies the complete New Yorker feature, but has some other thumbsuckers about Mr. Bukowski.

It is a truism that new media borrows content from old media. Stories, told orally from genration to generation, are compiled into books, which are then made into movies. Plastic panels try to look like wood. The newest new media that old fogey PG knows about is twitter. People tell little stories in 140 characters or less, which go around the world in seconds. With this abundance of media, there are not always enough messages to feed the beast.
On twitter, there are people producing twitter feeds from dead authors. Maybe these wordmongers went to a place with internet access. Kurt Vonnegut (three hours ago)
“Busy, busy, busy”. Mark Twain (three hours ago) “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint”. Brautigan’s Ghost (twenty two hours ago) “I cannot say to the one I love, “Hi, flower-wonderful bird-love sweet.”
The deceased content maker best suited to twitter might be Conway Twitty. One slow day two years ago, Yahoo asked peeps
Do you think Conway Twitty would have used Twitter? ~ He gave them the idea ~ I think Twitty would tweet, Twitter would be Conway’s, way of of communicating to the world, Twitty would be tweeting his little Twitty head off, ~ I better send out a Twitty Tweet ~ Cute, but a serious answer, probably. A media hound, he’d want to get his name plastered everywhere. ~ If he did that would have made him a ‘Twitty Twitter” ~ Who cares, he’s a twit anyway”.
There are four Twitty Twitter feeds. @ConwayTwitty (Oct. 21,2009)
“The Conway Twitty Musical is getting great reviews in Branson!!! . @TwittyTweats (January 12, 2012) “In Twitty City, it never snows. All the men wear gold medallions and blazers. And the women never cry. Unless you hold them.” @Conway_Twitty (February 20, 2012) “My cock is an amphibious assault vehicle” @conwaytwittier (April 28, 2012). “@JasonIsbell How’s the English weather treating your hair? I had the hardest time keeping my pompadour in tiptop shape there.” @twittybirdmoda is written in Japanese. We’ve never been this far before.
The original concept for this post was to spotlight twitter feeds borrowing material from Charles Bukowski. Hank is the beer bard of Los Angeles. He is a hero to many. Out of the millions of worthless drunks populating bars, at least one could write poems. It gives you hope for mankind.
The front page of a google search for “charles bukowski on twitter” yields eight feeds. The original plan was to ignore any that were not updated in 2012. An exception will be for @hank_bukowski (Yeah it’s good to be back). (January 25, 2009)
“Yesterday I met Adolf H. in hell. He is fuckin stupid.” “too lazzy these days, too drunk to twitter”.
With the 2012-only rule in effect, we are left with three Bukowski thieves. @BukowskiDiz (May 1)
“Curiosidades sobre Charles Bukowski“. @bukquotes (May 8) “all the mules and drunken ladies gone the bad novels march…”. ~ “I always read when I shit and the worse the book the better the bowel movement.” @bukowski_lives (one hour ago) “Basically, that’s why I wrote: to save my ass, to save my ass from the madhouse, from the streets, from myself.”
Pictures are from The Library of Congress. This is a double repost. Another repost may be published later. This is probably it for this year.

Is Prayer That Great?

Posted in Library of Congress, Religion, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 14, 2022

Prayer is not always a good idea.
That is up there with G-d and Motherhood, but somebody has to say it.
Many of my objections are in the phrase,
“Prayer is talking to G-d, and Meditation is Listening.”. In our culture, we love to talk, and don’t have time to listen. Talking is yang, active, power. Listening is ying, receptive, passive, and indicates respect for the person you are paying attention to. This is difficult for many.
No one ever says
“I am going to meditate for you”. Although maybe you should.
Prayer is used as an aggressive weapon.
“I am going to pray for you” is the condescending conclusion of many a religious argument. I have had it shouted at me like a curse.
There is the matter of prayer as entertainment. While this may be cool to those who are on the program, it can be repulsive to others. Once I volunteered to lead the prayer before a dinner. The story is repeated below.

Now, prayer is not a completely bad thing. One of the cherished memories of my father is the brief, commonsense blessings he would give before meals. In the context of a church service, prayer plays a useful function. Some famous prayers are beautiful poetry. In Islam, the daily prayers are an important part of the observance. Who am I to say it is wrong? (A note to the Muslim haters, and opportunistic republicans …We are all G-d’s children.)

When someone is in a bad way, people want to think they can help. Arguably it does not hurt to pray for someone, but it is nothing to boast about.
My problem is when people are proud of their prayers. There are few as prideful as a “humble servant”. While it may mean something to you, not everyone is impressed. And in a religion obsessed with converting others, you should care what man thinks.

So much for world affairs. It is time to tell a story, with no moral and no redeeming social value.

In 1980, I was staying at a place called the Sea Haven Hostel, affectionately known as Sleaze Haven. This was in Seattle WA, as far as you can get from Atlanta, and still be in the lower 48. I was working through Manpower, and staying in a semi private room for $68 a month.

There was a Christian group that met in the basement on Sunday Night. Now, as some of you may know, I am a recovering baptist, who hasn’t been to church since 1971. However, the lure of a free meal was hard to resist, so I went to a few meetings.

One night, after doing quality control work on the local beer supply, I cheerfully joined in the discussion. This was the night when I realized that the Bible is not the Word of G-d. This concept has been very handy in dealing with the ravings of our Jesus-mad culture.

They seemed to like me, though, and welcomed me back. Maybe it was the southern accent.

One Sunday, after the dinner was finished , it was time to have a prayer to begin the meeting. I raised my hand. Now, Jesus Worshipers enjoy prayer as entertainment. When they bow their heads, you see them stretching and deep breathing, in anticipation of a good, lengthy, message to G-d.

My message was a bit of a disappointment. Instead of a long winded lecture about Jesus and the magic book, I said what was on my mind. “Lord, thank you for letting us be here today.” What else do you need to say? This double repost has pictures from The Library of Congress.

There Is No I In Denial

Posted in GSU photo archive, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 12, 2022








There’s no I in denial. ~ What does a house wear? A dress.
What did the buffalo say to his son as he left for college? Bison.
I asked a Frenchman if he played video games. He said “wii”.
I ate a clock yesterday, it was so time consuming.
Why was Santa’s little helper feeling depressed? Because he has low Elf esteem

How many optometrists does it take to change a light bulb?… 1 or 2? 1… or 2?
Just read a few facts about frogs. They were ribbiting.
Want to hear a word I just made up? Plagiarism.
What did the hungry clock do? Went back four seconds!
Becoming a vegetarian is a huge missed steak.

Have you seen that new movie about trees in love? …Yeah, it’s pretty sappy…
I don’t like atoms, they’re liars. They make up everything.
I was thinking about moving to Moscow but there is no point Russian into things.
First rule of Thesaurus Club: You don’t talk, converse, discuss, speak, chat,
deliberate, confer, gab, gossip or natter about Thesaurus Club.
There is a new disease found in margarine… Apparently it spreading very easily.

People are making apocalypse jokes like there’s no tomorrow.
Need an ark to save two of every animal? I Noah guy.
What’s the advantage of living in Switzerland? Well, the flag is a big plus.
“I saw a documentary on how ships are kept together. Riveting!”
It’s so hard to think of another chemistry joke… All the good ones Argon.

Breaking news! Energizer Bunny arrested – charged with battery.
I’m off to Nairobi in the Summer. Kenya believe it?
A baker was caught bonking his bread loaves. They say he was inbread.
I enjoy using the comedy technique of self-deprecation – but I’m not very good at it.
This is a repost. Pictures are from “Special Collections, Georgia State University Library.”









Always Take Sides

Posted in Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 10, 2022

“… always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” This meme, illustrated by the gnomic face of Elie Wiesel, turns up on facebook a lot. (Elie Wiesel is pronounced like Elly Mae Clampett) Some find it inspiring. Others think it is simplistic and manipulative.

There are two questions. Did Mr. Wiesel say that? What was the context? The quote appears in the acceptance speech for the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. The next sentence is “Sometimes we must interfere.” We immediately go from the absolute always, to the conditional sometimes. That is progress, even if it does not fit on a bumper sticker.

“Elie Wiesel was born in Sighet, Romania, in 1928. … In May 1944, Wiesel was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp along with his parents and his sisters. Wiesel and his father were slave laborers at Auschwitz. His father died in January 1945 during a forced march to another camp, Buchenwald, and his mother and younger sister were murdered as well. After the war, Wiesel moved to France, where he worked as a journalist.”

The Israel-Palestine problem was just as vexing in 1986 as today. Here is what Mr. Wiesel said in his speech. “More people are oppressed than free. And then, too, there are the Palestinians to whose plight I am sensitive but whose methods I deplore. Violence and terrorism are not the answer. Something must be done about their suffering, and soon. I trust Israel, for I have faith in the Jewish people. Let Israel be given a chance, let hatred and danger be removed from her horizons, and there will be peace in and around the Holy Land.”

Who is the oppressor in the Middle East, and who is the victim? Many sides can make a case for their cause. Who is the better at persuasion? Who is better at playing the shady game of influence, and money. Often, more noise encourages the tormentor. The answer to age old conflicts is seldom found in bumper stickers, or facebook memes.

“… to whose plight I am sensitive but whose methods I deplore.” “Always take sides” means that you pick one side in a conflict, and use the tools of rhetoric to promote that cause. It can be tough to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Human suffering is human suffering. Simplistic rhetoric is *never* the answer.

In 1986, the Iran-Iraq war was raging. Hundreds of thousands of men died. Many said the war was allowed to go on intentionally. Allegedly, if Iran and Iraq were not fighting each other, they would be fighting Israel. The United States was allied with Iraq, while making arms deals with Iran. Israeli dealers participated in the United States-Iran arms trading. The profits from those deals went to supply terrorists in Central America. “Sometimes we must interfere.”

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

I Used To Be Charming Part Three

Posted in GSU photo archive, History, Music, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 4, 2022

This is the latest edition of the chamblee54 book report on I Used to Be Charming, by Eve Babitz. This feature is a bit different. Instead of focusing on IUTBC, we will look at some of the key players in the story. A catalyst for today is a 2019 episode of the Bret Easton Ellis Podcast. The guest is Lili Anolik, promoting a book, Hollywood’s Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A.

One important name is Earl McGrath. Bret had never heard of him. A friend of many influential people, McGrath had many careers. Apparently, his main skill was a talent for being fabulous. As David Bowie said, “It’s not really work, it’s just the power to charm.”

“McGrath’s story began in Superior WI. The son of an itinerant short-order cook, it wasn’t long before the teenage Earl began to display a wanderlust of his own, dropping out of high school and leaving home, ‘hanging out with Aldous Huxley in Los Angeles and going to see Henry Miller in Big Sur’, according to Vanity Fair. In the late 1950s he served with the Merchant Marine in Africa and the Middle East, and in Italy, in 1958, he met the woman he would later marry, Camilla Pecci-Blunt — a glamorous countess, and a descendant of Pope Leo XIII … McGrath was working for 20th Century Fox in the early 1960s when he met perhaps the other most influential person in his life, the legendary co-founder and president of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun.”

“Maybe that’s why Eve fell in “friend love” with a gay man, the cattiest breed of all, if we want to be cuntily honest as well. Specifically, Earl McGrath … As any gay man not fully out would be, McGrath was married to an Italian countess. He never had an official title, per se, though, in death, he would be credited as a “writer, music executive, art collector, and gallery owner.” In short, a jack-of-no-trades. Other than knowing how to be at the right place at the right time, and network with the right people. This is how he came into Eve’s orbit in the late 60s. The two grew Siamese twin close until McGrath’s venom reared its ugly head with the line … “Is that the blue you’re using?” As Anolik interprets the phrase, it’s an easy way to make an artist (of any kind) doubt themselves and their vision.”

Eve met Earl McGrath when Eve, and possibly McGrath, was dating Peter Pilafian, the electric violin player with The Mamas and The Papas. Peter Pilafian is one of those players that is unknown today. He does not have a wikipedia page, and we do not know if he is alive. Apparently, Eve would spend the night with Pilafian, and McGrath would show up at 7am the next day.

Somehow, Eve and McGrath connected. McGrath makes a spectacle of himself in Slow Days Fast Company. McGrath also gets credit/blame for the line you always seem to hear about Eve. “In every young man’s life, there is an Eve Babitz. It is usually Eve Babitz.”

lilianolikwriter has a tasteful picture, with this caption: “Eve Babitz with frenemy, Earl McGrath, at the opening of the Black Rabbit restaurant on Melrose, at the tail-end of the 60s. Earl is in the cowboy mustache, Eve in the glasses, which she was normally too vain to wear in photographs. The brunette with the pixie hair is Diane Gardiner, Doors publicist and long-time squeeze of Chuck Berry. (Says Eve, “Diane was a mean monster but everything she said was funny so I forgave her.”) … The woman in the floppy hat and sunglasses, says Eve, doesn’t ring a bell, not even a faint one.”

Allegedly, the Eve-McGrath falling out came when Eve was dating Harrison Ford, who also caught McGrath’s eye. A posthumous article about McGrath mentions “His great friend Harrison Ford — three of whose children were among McGrath’s two-dozen godchildren — saluted him as, ‘The last of a breed, one of the last great gentlemen and bohemians.’”

Lili Anolik tells an amusing story about Mr. Ford. “I remember one of our first conversations Eve told me about Harrison Ford dealing dope out of a bass fiddle at Barney’s Beanery”…. Michelle Phillips talks about seeing Star Wars when it first came out. When Harrison Ford appeared on the screen, Michelle said “whats he doing there, that’s my dope dealer.” A less reliable source chimes in: “Harrison Ford was her weed dealer, and, briefly, her lover: “The thing about Harrison was, Harrison could fuck. Nine people a day. It’s a talent, loving nine different people in one day. Warren [Beatty] could only do six.”

Part of the Eve legend is the photograph of Eve playing chess with Marcel Duchamp. “What happened was, my boyfriend at the time, Walter Hopps [director of the Pasadena Art Museum, 31, married], had scored this great coup. He’d convinced Duchamp, who’d given up art for chess back in the 1920s, to do a retrospective with him. He threw a party for the private opening, and L.A. had never seen anything like it. Everyone, everyone, was there—Duchamp, naturally, and Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg and Dennis Hopper and, oh, just everyone. I wasn’t, though, because I wasn’t invited. I guess Walter was afraid I’d make a scene in front of his wife. I was mad, which is why when Julian asked me at the public opening to take off my clothes and pose for him, I said sure. I mean, my breasts were normally something to behold, but birth control had made them even bigger, so they were really something to behold at that particular moment. …”

The photographer, Julian Wasser, was dating Eve’s sister Mirandi. Wasser had an exhibit in 2019, so apparently he was alive 3 years ago. Wasser took his most famous picture a few years later.“One August day in 1969, I was listening to a police radio when I heard all this strange talk about something going on in this residential area next to Beverly Hills. It was the kind of neighbourhood where people would … put pillows over their heads if murders were going on.”

“That was how I first heard that Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, had been killed, along with four others. When I went up there shortly afterwards for Life magazine, Roman asked me to take Polaroid shots of the scene as well – and give them to a psychic who could study them and find out who the killers were. You can see my Polaroid on the chair beside Roman. …”

“When I was 14, I used to steal my dad’s car and drive all over Washington listening to police radio. There was segregation then and all the best murders, robberies and bloody events were in the black part of town. I’d photograph them and give the shots to the Washington Post. I was so naïve. Of course they wouldn’t run them – it was black people. … It’s a rough world now. I think Manson started it and 9/11 finished it. Reality has fallen on us like a ton of bricks.”

Ed Ruscha and brother Paul Ruscha were longtime *friends* of Eve. After Eve died, they had a paywall protected chat. Ed Ruscha: “Oh, it was the early ’60s, but she was a great part of my growing up. I know I was with her when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. I was in bed with Eve and we were watching this on live TV, a little black-and-white set. … she lived in this house behind her parents’ house. She kept a sloppy quarters because she had a lot of cats who had their way. Her parents lived up at the front house on Bronson near Franklin. And I knew her parents well. Mae was a beautiful, sweet Texan who was an artist, and she drew pictures of the gingerbread houses on Bunker Hill. And Sol was the musician, violinist. They were very sweet people.”

Paul Ruscha: “I came to L.A. in 1973. We met at Jack’s Catch All; it was this great thrift store. I was a veteran thrift shopper and so was Danna [Ed Ruscha’s wife]. She introduced me to Eve, who said, “I’d like to have you over for dinner.” Danna said, “I think she likes you.” Eve knew that Ed and I were friends with [fashion model] Leon Bing. So she called Leon, who told Eve, “Well, no matter what you make for him, be sure that it’s loaded with cilantro because he’s just crazy about cilantro.” Eve put it in the salad and the soup, and I hate cilantro and I couldn’t eat it. All I could do is laugh. … If I spent the night with her, she’d wake up before I did and then want me to leave. So she’d throw coffee into a pot of boiling water and bang on it to make the grounds go down and to wake me up and say, “OK, here’s your coffee. Now get out of here.” And I’d laugh and then she’d say, “I think I’ve got something I’d like you to read.” Then I’d read whatever she’d written the day before. I gave her my critique, and if she liked it, she let me stay, and if she didn’t, she’d throw me out. … She just couldn’t go anywhere without ruining something. She’d knock something over or break something, and the same thing at her house. I remember a couple of fur coats I gave her, and one of them she threw over this little space heater that she had. It caught on fire and it burned up her garage.”

Since this is Hollywood, a certain amount of skepticism is appropriate. Lili says in the BEE appearance “the modern way of being objective is a kind of hyper objectivity, it’s a reconstituted objectivity, is objectivity that acknowledges the inevitability of subjectivity.” Pictures today are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library.” More episodes of this series are available. one two four five

People Who Say Racism

Posted in Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 1, 2022

@YAppelbaum “10. Bottom line? White, working class Trump voters felt culturally displaced and resentful, not financially stressed” PG saw this tweet while drifting away from a problem poem. Before long, he clicked on a couple of links, and read a few tweets. An idea for a post emerged. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. This is a retweet from 2017.

Beyond Economics: Fears of Cultural Displacement Pushed the White Working Class to Trump is the study from PRRI. The study focuses on white voters who did not attend college (WWC.) This group overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump. Because WWC voters were concentrated in key states, their votes became more important in swinging the electoral vote to DJT. The standard issues were discussed in the report, with one exception.

The report used the word racist one time. Racism was not said. “We’re supposed to make the effort to include everybody else. They don’t have to make the effort to include us. I was hysterical laughing over the thing at Eastern Kentucky University. The black student body had a welcome black event. Well, somebody on campus thought they should have a white welcome event. Well, the black one was okay, but the white one, the whole campus went bananas, and it was racist. Now what is the difference?” This was a boldface quote from “Woman.” It was not part of the study.

It Was Cultural Anxiety That Drove White, Working-Class Voters to Trump is the article in The Atlantic. The article is far shorter than the PRRI report. The article identified several items that appeared to be reasons why WWC voters went for DJT. The words “racist” and “racism” did not appear in this article.

One item was noteworthy. ” … 54 percent of white working-class Americans said investing in college education is a risky gamble, including 61 percent of white working-class men.” It would be interesting to see a study ask the same question to graduates dealing with student debt.

The twitter thread listed some of the key points. 4 Almost everything correlates; only four variables proved independently significant. One was Republican Party registration. Not shocking. 5 The 2nd was deportation. 87% of white working-class voters who want to deport undocumented immigrants voted Trump 6 Third? Higher education. WWC voters who think of college as a risky gamble, not an investment, went 2x for Trump: 7 WWC voters who wanted to protect American way of life, or feel like strangers in their own country? 79% for Trump 9 We found economically distressed white, working class voters were 75% more likely to vote for Clinton—not Trump.

Racist/Racism did not appear in the 11 part twitter thread quoted here. Some people say that calls for deportation are racist. However, most people in America think that racism is about the black/white thing. Discussions of this campaign routinely use racism to condemn anything they don’t like, with a special focus on Islam and Mexico. While trash talk about Islam and Mexico is improper, is it really racism? The more often the word is used, the less impact it has.

@zeynep Such a common historical patterns, that it’s not even surprising. Doesn’t make them non-racist, just makes this kind of analysis misleading
@gershonmarx Just say “racist”, Yoni, it’s way fewer characters.
@YAppelbaum I don’t have the data–racial resentment alone wasn’t independently predictive
@gershonmarx What distinguishes “culturally displaced and resentful” from “racist”?
@CSheehanMiles Aside from racism, they’re freaked out about gay marriage, hollywood, people who are transgender, Christmas and Starbucks. Plus racism
@Rachelia72 And losing their guns!
@CSheehanMiles Thanks! How could I leave that out?

Harvey Fierstein

Posted in Book Reports, History, Holidays, Library of Congress, Politics, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on April 28, 2022

@HarveyFierstein wrote a book, I Was Better Last Night: A Memoir. Harvey Forbes Fierstein is selling his book, and saying festive things in the process. This will probably not influence one star commenter amazon customer. “This story seemed disjointed and superficial.”

Free Library of Philadelphia begins the discussion. The lady began with the traditional question about how Popeye Harvey got started. “I never wanted to be a writer. I never wanted to be an actor. I wanted to be an artist, but artist is is the 1950s word for gay.”

The chat turned onto the topic of sobriety. “By the time I stopped drinking I was drinking half a gallon of southern comfort a day, of 100 proof. So you’ve got to work your way up to that, because that will kill you if you try doing that on one day’s notice.”

“I think we’re almost gonna head to the Q&A, but I’m curious.” (Harvey puts the Q back in Q&A) “What advice do you have for young artists starting out in the world right now?” “Go get a real job.”

Barbara Walters interviewed Harvey in 1983. 39 years later, it is a cringefest. “His name is Harvey Fierstein, and with this success, he’s become Broadway’s newest celebrity. He is, to say the least, an unlikely celebrity. Harvey Fierstein, 29 year old homosexual playwright, actor, two-time Tony winner, and, just until a few years ago, earning his living as a drag queen … a man dressed up as a woman. At the age of 13 his middle-class parents from Brooklyn knew for certain that he was a homosexual, and by the time he was 15, he was performing as a transvestite.”

The 20/20 appearance is remarkable in many ways. Baba Wawa was known as a close friend, and possible beard, of Roy Cohn. She knew a lot more homosexuals than she acknowledged that night. Ms. Walters was roasted in a 2013 article about her retirement. “She’s old friends with make-believe TV tycoon Donald Trump.”

The WTF podcast, with Marc Maron, made this feature necessary. There was the time Harvey’s mother took his grandmother to see Torch Song Trilogy, when it was on Broadway. “She’s watching the show, and she’s hard of hearing, and in the loudest voice that has ever been projected in in a Broadway theater, she says “So Harvey’s a homosexual,” and my mother, in a voice loud enough for my grandmother to hear her, said “how should I know I don’t sleep with him.”

“No one knew who gay people were. We were something they talked about. We were vampires that only appeared at night. We weren’t normal people. Then aids hit … and suddenly we were everywhere. We’re doctors and teachers and lawyers and priests and mothers and babies. Now they see us everywhere, hospitals, classrooms, obituaries. We were gay, and now we’re human, that was a huge change. All of a sudden we existed. Now did they run away from us, did they turn their back on us, did they wish we did all die, maybe, but we were no longer deniable. We existed, and that changed everything. We’ve now got this war we’re fighting for our lives, because because of aids, and out come these young people screaming for marriage equality, and I’m saying what the [ __ ] is wrong with you people. We have we have so much other work to do. We’ve got all this crap going on to take care of, and you care about a [ __ ] wedding cake. Where are your values? Then I stopped myself. I said, you know, these are younger people than you, and don’t they have the right to define what the revolution should be? So I shut my mouth, and I went to work for them, and they turned out to be right.”

“Now this generation, coming back to where we started this whole conversation, has brought up gender, said, we’re now going to show you about gender, or at least question all of the roles of gender once again. I don’t understand it but I have lived enough history now to know, follow the young people, it’s their world, it’s not our world. We should shut the [ __ ] up. The role of an elder is not to tell you what to do, even though people think that’s what an elder is supposed to do. The role of an elder is to facilitate what young people want to do. That’s the best thing we can do.”

Marc Maron: “That whole world of gay sex that you write about it, to me it’s just like, oh my god, I mean like it was just you just walking around [ __ ] wherever you wanted, and just like kind of the insane electricity of that world, I can’t even imagine it.” Harvey: “Mark, my love, do you really think we aren’t still doing that? You really think i can’t take you to Central Park now, and show you people
[ __ ] in the rambles, are they yeah of course they are … it’s boys yeah what do boys need to have sex a finger that can pull down a zipper.”

“I never had children, believe me, raising Matthew Broderick was enough.” Pictures for this unpaid exercise in book promotion are from The Library of Congress.