Tuesday, February 28, 2006

President Bush achieves an all-time low in approval ratings

CBS News released a poll yesterday that shows President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an All-time low of 34 percent. Skepticism of the Iraq War has soared to an all time high. He's also being shelled over the U.A.E. port ownership scam.

Not even considering the merits of what The President is or is not doing, you have to wonder what has happened to the White House? These guys used to be able to at least put up a front of playing hardball. Now, they seem to be constitutionally unable to get in front of a story. They actually seem more worried about Sen. Hillary Clinton possible Presidential run than they do about the infected wound gnawing away at their giblets. Has The Administration finally and irrevocably "jumped the shark?"

What can possibly happen next? Tomorrow may tell. These guys have blown it so badly with missteps at every critical juncture. . .the odds seem to say they've got to win one sometime! It might be time to bag Osama bin-Laden.

Vice-President Cheney will resign from office "due to health reasons" within sixty days. He will be replaced by someone safe like ex-governor Mark Racicot, or if they get really bold, someone like Governor Romney, or one of the other Presidential contenders. Senator McCain or, say, Citizen Rudolph Giuliani would be brilliant choices. But brilliant choices are a thing of the past, if, indeed, they actually ever made one. Things were sketchy before, but the last wheel seemed to come off the entire administration during the ill-fated Harriet Miers court nomination. They may never get the wheels back on.

34%. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Bizarre scheme: Republicans threaten to release White House sex tapes

In a last ditch effort to gain leverage
and clean up the White House, a small group of Republican congressmen are threatening political blackmail with explosive video footage taken in the White House residence. A southern Congressman familiar with the scheme said "Everyone wanted this buried. Until they'd been burned about four times this month alone. They're fighting for their political lives."

One moderate Senator's aide told All This Is That "It's as if the White House is on Howard Dean's payroll! Look at just the recent scandals. The Plame story, Cheney's shadow government, Katrina and Brownie, DeLay, Abramoff, and now, in a week, the Cheney hunting thing, an Arab takeover of ports, and Iraq coming apart at the seams. " The aide continued ". . .this is as dirty as it gets. It makes the Lewinsky story look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm."

A subcommittee chair in the House spoke of "bumbling the domestic wiretap revelations, mishandling foreign affairs with our friends and enemies, and now boxing themselves in on this insane Dubai port takeover--the list goes on and on and on. Yeah, threatening them with the tapes is extreme. . .but you are dealing with extreme people. All we're trying to do is get them to listen to reason. It's realpolitik. . .a desperate move based on practical considerations. We hope it doesn't come to that."

Informed sources describe scenes of the President, First Lady, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Jeff Gannon, aide Harriet Miers, Scott McLellan, Sen. Bill Frist and other officials. The footage is also said to include "professional sex workers."

A prominent G.O.P. fundraiser told us "Yes, I've heard about these tapes. The President's people are asleep at the wheel. There are enough rumors out about these tapes that it's already drastically affected our fundraising ability in the midterm elections."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Everglades & back to business

One of the several alligators we saw up close. This one was about eight feet long. We also saw an old bull close to shore, but hidden in a mud cave, with his head sticking out. He was big compared to the other 8-10 footers we saw. A good chunk of his face had been torn off years ago. He opened his mouth wide. I counted about five teeth.

Our last day in FLA, we went on a self-guided walking through (part of) the Everglades. It's our Galapagos. It's incredible how much wildlife and vegetation there is per square inch! We saw alligators, sawgrass marshes, bladderwart, and, of course, mangroves, and cypresses, wood storks, ibises; herons and egrets. Thousands of fish. Snakes. And hundreds of critters deeper in the swamps

and rubbing their legs together.

We even attended a brief talk on the endangered Wood Stork. The picture above is one of the docile alligators (really, probably well-fed) we encountered. Wow.

My daughter Claire breaks the fifteen foot rule. . .

[click images to enlarge]

Friday, February 24, 2006

A new painting

Click to enlarge...

I bought this strange painting this week in Jensen Beach. . .it is called "Ode to Darwin." The snapshot does not do it, nor the spectacular frame justice. I wonder if I'll be able to ship it back in one piece? It's too big to carry on the 'plane... /jack

Kayaking with the dolphins

Del and I were sea kayaking today, off Jensen Beach. We went out for a couple of hours, and got pretty far out. We didn't see much except a couple of lonesome seabirds, a hawk, and a bird Del swore was a duck, but which was the most amphibious duck I'd ever seen in my life.

We gave up on seeing any whales or manatees, or anything exotic, and were headed back in. About three hundred yards from shore, we ended up in the middle of a--school? pod? pride? herd? team? of dolphins. They seemed to be playing and frisking around in the water. In fact Del seemed pretty convinced they were actually just showing off for us...

We watched off to the side for fifteen minutes. Suddenly, they ran into a school of those "flying fish" and things got pretty interesting. The fish definitely decided to beat their fins, with the dolphins in hot pursuit. The chase was on, and we paddled home. Wow. Every day so far has been something cool, some new revelation.

Carl Hiaasen, one of the great living American novelists, long ago, and with every succeeding novel, really fired up my imagination, and Florida has turned out to be every bit as wonderful and depressing as he led me to believe. Fortunately, we've mostly avoided the depressing parts (all of which have to do with the development of Florida). I love this place.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

On the beach at Bathtub Reef

Here we are at Bathtub Reef. The tenperature is about 80 degrees outside. The water is about 72 this week. . .brisk, but swimmable (particularly for the youth). (later note: interestingly, the water in Miami Beach was probably ten degrees warmer).

Florida photos - the last freshwater lagoon in Florida

Click to enlarge

The youth at the freshwater lagoon adjoining our cabin in Jensen Beach. We walked up there at sunset several times to watch the hundreds of seabirds roosting for the night (see to the left of the photo).

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

All This Is That Reheated: Poem - The Return Of The King

click to enlarge

When aliens land
Do they come as Farmers,
To harvest seeds they planted long ago?

Is it "hi, Mom," or "hello cousin,"
Or will we enslaved as drones?

Will they stop in for phosphorous or zinc?
Or will they just toss earth in the back
Of an enormous galactic flatbed truckfarm pick-up
And head back to Zeta Reticulon?

Will they make this spinning ball
A rendering plant, or will they
Come to absorb our wisdom, art and humanity?

We never picture
aliens, greys, or martians
Coming in peace
Because we never came in peace.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

All This Is That Reheated: Footwashing Baptists & The Catholic Devils

Another All This Is That Reheated today, as I continue my Florida hiatus. This is from fourteen months ago, about my young days as a Baptist. All This Is That returns live this Saturday... /jb

"THEY DO NOT EVEN READ THE BIBLE! THEY IGNORE THE GOOD BOOK! THE NEW TESTAMENT OF CHRIST OUR LORD IS IGNORED!" Confession was an excuse to sin even more--a free pass to perdition! Our ministers ranted against The Priests, The Nuns, The Brothers, The Bishops, and Cardinals. Most of all, they railed about the devil incarnate: His Holiness, The Pope, in his gilded palace, The Vatican.

The Reverend bemoaned "THE ABOMINATION OF THE EUCHARIST," the foul and damning Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation and its perversion of what was clearly intended by Our Lord to be symbolic.


There were, of course, also degrees of weirdness within our own denomination. The Southern Baptists with their prohibitions against makeup and dancing among other things, were considered a hopeless bunch of joyless prunes (even in our church, that went so far as to use Welch's Grape Juice for communion). Looked even further down upon were the Immersion Baptists--who took you to the river for baptisms, even in January. We did that only in the summer, but it was more ceremonial that doctrinaire. Still further down the line were the Foot Washing Baptists. At last you come to the Snake Handling Baptists, who were so out there that they did indeed feel like a cult. There is probably another splinter sect of Baptists somewhere, performing even wackier acts in the name of religion.

When does a cult become mainstream? When does a cult jump on the rail and become a church, or religion? I'm not really sure. Clearly, the Church of Latter Day Saints has transcended cult status and gone on to become the fastest growing church in the world (I think Orthodox Judaism is the second fastest growing).

[1] check out the links in the articles there--one to Wired and one to a whole (free) book on the Project Gutenberg site).


Monday, February 20, 2006

44 years ago today we finally got an American into orbit

I actually remember what I was doing forty-four years ago. . .at least part of the day. When John Glenn safely landed Friendship 7, I rememember my parents let me walk to the post office and buy the 4-cent stamps they put on sale as soon as Friendship 7 splashed down...

On February 20, 1962, John Hershel Glenn Jr. successfully launched into space aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first orbital flight by an American astronaut.

During Glenn's descent back to Earth, the straps holding the retrorockets gave way and flapped by his window as a shroud of ions caused by excessive friction enveloped the spacecraft, causing Glenn to lose radio contact with mission control. As mission control anxiously waited for the resumption of radio transmissions that would indicate Glenn's survival, he watched chunks of retrorocket fly by his window. After four minutes of radio silence, Glenn's voice crackled through loudspeakers at mission control, and Friendship 7 splashed down safely in the Atlantic Ocean. Reluctant to risk the life of an astronaut this popular, NASA, for all intents and purposes, grounded him. He later won election to the U.S. Senate and was re-elected three times. In 1984, he for the Democratic nomination for president. A few years ago, they sent him back into space as the oldest astronaut ever...

Jack in Jensen Beach FLA, a few miles from Cape Canaveral...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

All This Is That Reheated -- Poem: Defensive Daydreaming

Since I am in Florida, and this computer is slow, I decided to put up a leftover for today's posting. An oldie but goodie. In theory, I'll write something tomorrow. . .but there are a lot of sirens here calling me. . .most of all swimming in that warm water. We'll see...you may get leftovers again tomorrow. Jack in Jensen Beach, FLA

Six hours into the surprise visit, he lumbers on.
My brain unsnaps from its moorings
and drifts like a drunken dirigble
into the torrent of everything I've seen,
smelled, eaten, licked, drunk,
smoked, touched, read, watched, and heard.
It's like he's been talking weeks now
and I remember Nikita Kruschev
on the television at the UN, flashing
those bad teeth and that goofy smile,
pounding those oxfords alive.
I try but I can't quite hear him;
I hear my friend narrating himself.
Things have gotten so out of hand that
I remember today is Renoir's 164th birthday
and I don't even like his painting,
but, hey, at least he threw in some nudes.
He looking at me! What did I miss?
He looks for a yes and keeps talking.
"Yeah," I say, "right. . .yeah." I think about
Motherwell's Reconciliation Elegy
and how he charged around the studio,
rolling vast turgid highways
of black oil over acres of canvas.
I think about Alice Neel
painting all those people
and what they thought
when they saw the final product
or what people thought when they saw
the first Cubist or Dada paintings.
My friend looks for a show of interest.
Yes! By all means, encourage him.
I cock an eyebrow. He revs back up
and I think about my favorite color,
that mid-palette blue...a blue bisque,
the color of my grandma's cameo brooch...
vibrantly subtle...is that possible?...
yes, it's the color of Della Robbia's Florentine ceramics.
He goes on about old times, about how it was then,
way way way back when when when
when we were all back where, back when, doing what
with, for, and to whom. My brains coughs up chimes,
resonations, cross-references, cerebral links,
odors, tinkles, cues, and subtle whiffs of distractions.
I hear Charlie Parker play Carvin' the Bird
somewhere in my head and it segues into
Black Throated Wind and lurches into
Foggy Mountain Breakdown. He jumps
from childhood to yesterday, in between, and back.
I nod and pick up the reverie, falling, falling
back, back, back to the night my daughter was born.
It was as quiet as a painting in Berkeley,
driving at three a.m. on Telegraph Avenue
toward Oakland, to the delivery room.
I saw a new moon hung on our old sky.
We watched the monitor and waited.
When her robber-stockinged face came down,
one bleat to the rafters started us all breathing again.
He's buzzing in my left ear
and the rhythms say I am safe.
I think about dreams--not drifting
like this, but real R.E.M. dreams:
I don't know which is better,
to dream it or see it,
to see it right now,
or to have seen it.
I don't know which is better,
the memory or the thing itself.
The memory can be repeated forever
but loses fidelity like an old record
and the fictions your mind confects
start filling in the gaps
until the memory becomes a framework
for what we wanted to be, or what should have been.
He nudges me, waiting for a yes, the go-ahead sign.
Yeah baby, take it on home. I think about Casey Stengel.
He suspects I am drifting over the hills and far away.
I nod "um." It is the sun's birthday
and where did the crows go? When he jumps to El Toro,
my mind starts sleepwalking from Boot Camp.
I wonder if I will ever get to Palestine,
or if there will ever be another Palestine,
or if I will get back to Seville or Tetuan,
Chora Sfokion or Brooklyn, Heraklion or Hoboken,
Vinaroz or the Delaware Water Gap, if I will ever see
Leningrad or Katmandu, and I wonder
if I would want to see Calcutta, Johannesburg,
Bhopal, Cleveland, Camden, or Port-au-Prince?
I don't know which is easier:
to listen or pretend to listen?
I think about bottles of beer
chilling in a tub of cracked ice.
Sexy rivulets of water fall down bottles
glistening in the hot sun.
Even my nose is tired.
Should I pee, or hold it?
Should I hold it and focus
on the distraction?
What did Gertrude Stein mean
when she wrote about those
"Pigeons In The Grass, Alas?"
Was it the pigeons or the grass
or the pigeons and the grass aggregated?
I want to bang my head on the wall
to dull the pain between my ears,
and he's warming up for the stretch.
A pipe doesn't slow him down and the wine
just keeps his throat supple, his voice nimble,
and the memories and word torrent flowing.
He talks about the Marines
and six years marching, marching marching
on the parade ground erect and spitshined,
marching, saluting, dreaming, marching, yes-sir-ing.
I remember Nick Gattuccio's name
means Sicilian Dogfish and the time we drained
a demi-john of Chianti in Florence.
He tells me twenty things I don't want to know
and ten I'm indifferent about for every one I do.
He remembers where he left off
and murmurs a bridge to the next installment.
I think about the firefall of light I saw that day
on a rising skyscraper.
The welder is a star thrower, and constellations
of pale yellow sparks tumble from a heaven
of beams and girders strung with wire and pipe.
Those sparks are like his words, falling down iron bars
to disappear like fugitives in a white lake of sparks.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Poem: I'm here

When I'm not here
I'm often there
Which is anywhere
That's not here.
I'm there
But not all there.
I have to be
A little here
To be there
And a little there
To be here.
Being here
Or being there
Is not being everywhere.
When you go anywhere
You leave a little bit behind,
Shedding pieces
Here there and everywhere.
If you're not here
And you're not there
You are somewhere
Neither here nor there
And somewhere
Could be anywhere
But can't be

I saw a bear.
Where? Over there.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Am I becoming a Buddhist? -- more on copyrights and the promiscuity of our artistic work on the internet

Doing a search for a poem I wrote and published here (but misplaced), I found it. Once, on All This Is That, and once on another site. This other site had four of my poems, all reproduced perfectly, word for word. The only thing missing was my name. My poems became her poems by merely deleting those two words.

Naturally, I was outraged. And then I started thinking, "well, Jack, what about all those photographs you so cavalierly snag and reproduce, or incorporate into collages and paintings?" Do I really think they are all public domain? No. Do I believe I am using them under the Fair Use provisions of the copyright act? Yes. Do I credit the owners when I can find their names? Usually.

So, I am taking a Buddhist approach to infringement. I would have been happy to see the poems reprinted, if they'd use my name. But since they didn't, I'm just going to be glad someone liked them enough to appropriate them. I still wrote them, after all. We can both take credit for them. Forgive and forget.

I also take comfort in, and was inspired by, Woody Guthrie's approach. . .a more egalitarian, sharing folksy-oriented approach (although I do admit to being a bit more of a capitalist than Woody). I just wrote about this here.

I didn't even send her an email. I almost put a link to her blog. . .but hey, I'm not that forgiving! My outrage has subsided into amusement. So, I am not quite a Buddhist yet. . .although I now appear to be surrounded by boddhisatvas!

Woody Guthrie on copyright laws

"This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Photograph: The Cousins

Click photograph to enlarge...


Woody Guthrie's transit and eclipse: "I been in the red all my life"

Woody Guthrie was a great man, and a great writer. Yeah, I didn't say great singer, but I like his singing. Any fool can get all Frenchified and rococo. It takes a genius to get simple. This genius fled Dust Bowl Oklahoma in the 30’s and became famous a few years later for his songs Dust Bowl Ballads. For most of the rest of his life he would be a roamer and a troubadour. He is one of the great American songwriters, right up there in the pantheon with Stephen Foster, Gershwin, Bob Dylan, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin and others. He may be at the top of the rockpile. . .in my booklet, at least.

Woody Guthrie loved America as deeply as anyone ever has. He thrived on the people and the idiom. We remember him mainly for his songs, but he was also a wonderful writer. You may have heard his songs like So Long It’s Been Good To Know You, I Ain’t Got No Home In This World Anymore, Dust Can’t Kill Me, Union Maid, Reuben James, Planewreck At Los Gatos, and over a thousand more songs.

He hit 46 of these United States, usually with just his guitar and a toothbrush. One of the songs inspired by a trip, This Land Is Your Land, should probably be the national anthem. Woody’s influence has been monolithic, although most of us have only experienced Woody absorbed and filtered through Bob Dylan, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Phil Ochs, Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez, or Wilco, among hundreds of others. His work has been passed down through cultural osmosis.

When the notorious House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) began collecting names and driving the blacklisting, Woody was not afraid. He had nothing to hide, and the committee, like the dust, couldn’t kill him.

Some people considered The B.P.A. and the Grand Coulee Dam tributes to an "experiment in American socialism." These huge public works projects were "a revolutionary slap at the private enterprise system." Guthrie’s Columbia River songs reflect his optimism the dam would bring an increased standard of living to the people. One of Guthrie’s most famous songs, Pastures of Plenty, presents an idealist's vision of public irrigation and electrification:
I think of the dust and the days that are gone,
And the day that’s to come on a farm of our own;
One turn of the wheel and the waters will flow
‘Cross the green growing field, down the hot thirsty row.

Look down in the canyon and there you will see
The Grand Coulee shower her blessings on me;
The lights for the city for factory, and mill,
Green Pastures of Plenty from dry barren hills.

Woody was profoundly shocked by what happened to the poor Okies who left the Dust Bowl for California, by how they were killed, beaten and starved out by the State Police and farm owners. Something had gone very wrong with this great country. His song about Pretty Boy Floyd summed up his feelings:
Now as through this world I ramble
I’ve seen lots of funny men.
Some will rob you with a six-gun
And some with a fountain pen.
But as through this life you travel
And as through this life you roam,

You’ll never see an outlaw
Drive a family from its home.
Woody believed the Great Depression and dust bowl were caused by the Big Boss Man and King Coal. He wasn’t singing anymore about lost love; he was pointing fingers.

One night, on a radio show, he hit it on the head:

"A policeman will just stand there and let a banker rob a farmer or a financier rob a working man. But if a farmer robs a banker, you would have a whole army of cops out shooting at him. Robbery is a chapter of etiquette.”
Woody Guthrie was a patriot, but he was no Democrat. As he said in that same radio broadcast:
“I ain’t a communist necessarily, but I been in the red all my life.”
By 1947, Woody was working on his second marriage, to Marjorie. Between his travel and performances, he lived with her and his daughter Cathy Ann in Brooklyn. Woody nicknamed her Stackabones, and wrote his famous children’s songs for (and with) her:
Why can’t a dish break a hammer?
Why, or why, oh why?
Because a hammer’s
got a pretty hard head.
Goodbye goodbye goodbye.

Why can’t a bird
break an elephant?
Why, oh why, oh why?
Because an elephant’s got a
pretty hard skin.
Goodbye goodbye goodbye.

He published stories about Stackabones. Cathy Ann was very much like Woody, singing, rhyming, and always playing with words. One day her dress caught on fire and she was badly burned. She was singing when Woody got to the hospital, but she died that night.

Woody sat down and wrote: “And the things you fear most shall surely come upon you.” It seemed like everyone he ever loved was doomed to go up in flames. There were fires in his childhood. The brand new family house had burned down. His sister Nora died when her dress caught fire. Just she and her mother were at home. She was singing when Woody saw her in the hospital too. There were many rumors about her death. There were other fires. And there was his mother’s problem. After her daughter died, she became more and more nervous and remote until finally she spent all her days wandering through town like she was lost. No one knew what to do.

There was another fire. Woody’s mother was holding a kerosene lamp and when his father woke up, he was on fire.

When Woody came home the next day after a visit with relatives, a neighbor told him his father was in the hospital and his mother had been put in an insane asylum. In his wonderful book Bound For Glory, he compared his own restlessness and nervousness to his mother’s condition.

After the death of Stackabones, Woody lost his spark. He and Marjorie soon had other children (including Arlo), but he never took the same interest. He had become unpredictable. He still wrote hundreds of pages each week, and always had new songs in the works. But they weren’t like the old ones. He just couldn’t concentrate anymore.

A painting of Woody at the Columbia dam,
about which he wrote some of his greatest

Marjorie forced him to move out when he attacked their son Arlo one day. Woody went into the hospital to cure himself of alcoholism, and a young doctor figured out his problem. He asked Woody questions about his parents and grandparents, and diagnosed him with Huntington’s Chorea, called chorea because of the violent dance-like movements of its victims (the root of the word choreography). Huntington’s Chorea is an inherited degenerative disease and a victim’s offspring stand a fifty-fifty chance of getting the disease. The course of the illness is long and savage.

The changes in Woody occurred so slowly that few of his friends really noticed. Almost everyone chalked it up to drink, or said “Well, that’s just Woody. That’s the way he walks and talks." Some people avoided him now. He slurred his words and staggered and was becoming less and less capable of working at all.

Bob Dylan's copy of Woody's Book
Bound For Glory
When Woody was trying to concentrate, he wrote his name everywhere. . .on walls, on people’s books, on pieces of paper. Woody Guthrie. Woody Guthrie. It was almost as if he was trying to convince himself he really DID exist.

One day he was lighting a fire and the gas can exploded. His arm could no longer hold a guitar very well.

Woody checked into the State Hospital in Queens, and with the exception of visits with friends on weekends, he lived there the rest of his life.

His son, the musician Arlo Guthrie talked about him to Rolling Stone magazine:

“I remember him coming home from the hospital and taking me out to the backyard, just him and me, and teaching me the last verses to This Land Is Your Land because he thinks if I don’t learn them no one will remember. He can barely strum a guitar now and—can you imagine?—his friends think he’s crazy or drunk and they stick him in a green room with all these crazy people…”

“All of a sudden everyone is singing his songs. Kids are singing This Land Is Your Land in school and people are talking about making it the national anthem. Bob Dylan and the others are copying him. And he can’t react to it. Here’s the guy who had all these words and now that he’s really big, he can’t say anything.”

Only Shakespeare could write something that terrible. Woodrow Wilson Guthrie died in 1967, in his fifties. Some experts believe the disease may have enhanced his rhyminess and wordplay, and acted as a creative spur like alcohol and drugs have worked on others.

As the cells died in his brain, it rewired itself, forcing new and wonderful pathways between the nerve synapses. This also led to the not-so-wonderful behavior his family and friends saw. Just like his mother. Starved from all that work, his nerves short-circuited.

Woody and the disease are so bound up together, it’s hard to know where it started and Woody began. No one really knows if the disease starts when you are 14, or in your later years. It cannot be cured. It cannot be predicted in advance. Research is ongoing now, mainly because of what happened to Woody.

Most importantly, of course, is not the disease, but his music and his books. When we sing his most famous song, we sing the first verses. The last verses he tried to teach Arlo are probably politically pink at best, and they were the ones Woody hoped would survive:
In the squares of the city by the shadow of the steeple,
Near the relief office I saw my people
And some were stumbling and some were wondering if
This land was made for you and me.

As I went rambling that dusty highway
I saw a sign that said Private Property
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing.
That side was made for you and me.
Some of the photographs and images of Woody are copyrighted and unlicensed. However, the individual who uploaded this work to Wikipedia, and first used it in an article, as well as subsequent persons who place it into articles, asserts that this use qualifies as fair use of the material under United States copyright law. All This Is That is using the photo under the Fair Use provisions of the copyright act as well, as those provisions apply to scholarly work.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

It's a sign of the times: sex offender registry required for sheep abuser

A Michigan man who pleaded nolo contendre to a sodomy charge involving a sheep has been ordered to register as a sex offender. Jeffrey S. Haynes said the state registry is intended to keep track of people who have committed crimes against humans. . .not animals lovers like himself.

Calhoun County Circuit Court Judge, Conrad Sindt, however, told Haynes that once he is released from prison, he must register with the Michigan State Police Public Sex Offender Registry. Click the title of this post to link to the whole sordid story.

Related stories on All This Is That:

Bestiality In Southeast King County - A Horse Is A Horse Of Course Of Course
Horsin' Around: Update On The Enumclaw Beastiality/Murder Case
Another Shocking Revelation In The Enumclaw Beastiality Case
Further Ruminations On Enumclaw And Beastiality
The Final Enumclaw Horse/Beastiality Update


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Follow-up: Victim of VP's attemped assassination suffers coronary

The 78-year-old lawyer shot by Vice-President Dick Cheney in a hunting "accident" has birdshot lodged in his heart that triggered "a minor heart attack" Tuesday morning, hospital officials said.

You notice how everything about this story is minor? Vice-President Cheney "peppered" the luckless Harry Whittington. He was "peppered" sufficiently enough to be in the Intensive Care Unit a couple of days. And now we learn the birdshot has caused a "minor" heart attack. What's next? Stories in the New York Times and on MSNBC talk about about all the jokes, shockwave games, editorials, Democraric drumbeating, and the general buzz surrounding the story. Just as things were about to quiet down, Mr. Whittington suffered a heart attack. Just him making a joke about the shooting might have scotched the buzz for good. That hasn't happened. . .

The original story in All This Is That appeared Sunday night. Over five hundred people have read that original posting (not to mention stories on hundreds of other blogs and web sites) which began as satire and seems to have now become almost straight ahead reportage. In fact, the rumors about the Secret Service, and the manner in which the story was released have increased in intensity and my original satire has been dwarfed by the dark stories now circulating about the "incident."

Google searches leading here include phrases like "Cheney shooting conspiracy," "Dick Cheney Secret Service coverup," "Vice President attempted murder," "Cheney rumors" Cheney resignation," and "Cheney drunk while hunting?" This is very strange indeed. Between Scooter Libby's indictment, the allegations of domestic spying, and all the other Republican craziness, this hunting accident has coalesced to form a perfect storm swirling around the head of the Vice-President.

Poem: Ten ways of looking at lies

A lie is situational
Mine tend to reducing
Or blowing up the fact

Speak with a forked tongue
But make sure each tine
Knows what the other is saying

There is danger
Lying in cahoots
Collate your lie with the other lie

It travels in many guises
Animal scat hype shuck and jive
Prevarication stretching spoofing

Common targets of falsehood
The po-lice the confessional
Your boss your boss's boss

Your parents surveys
The priest anyone over 40
The insurance adjustor

Lies are like rabbits
They keep breeding
Until the range is overrun

The safest lie
Is the one
Only you know

The first one caught
takes the heat.

"And after all, what is a lie? ’T is but
The truth in masquerade"

The truth exists
The lie must be created.

No. 9 is a quote from a poem by George Gordon (Lord Byron)

Rules for living

1. Never cut your hair or touch up your beard after three margaritas. Or call your boss. Fives.com says you should also not:

1) buy domain names
2) hire an attorney
3) do lots of file management from the command line
4) sort out your finances
5) telephone people you remember fondly from elementary school

2. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them. Mostly. Sometimes someone is so far gone that the tell radiates for blocks. But normally, the benefit of the doubt we give strangers carries the day. Even really wacky folks tend to hold back until "they get the job."

3. When you make a mistake, make amends immediately. It's easier to eat crow while it's still warm. Ask Richard Nixon.

4. Pick your battles wisely. Will this matter one year from now? One month? Tomorrow? Naw...

5. Never pass up an opportunity to pee. I learned this hard fact over the years, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge or going north on I-405.

6. If you woke up breathing, that is cause enough to celebrate.

7. Know your way home. Even if, and especially if, you're in a foreign country or a strange city. I don't really believe this rule. But I don't panic if I'm lost, either. I don't really believe in the concept of being lost. At any given time, some of us just have a better idea of where we actually are. And to some of us, it doesn't matter. . .we'll get there eventually.

8. You'll feel better if you throw up. That was certainly true in high school drinking days. It's still true. You never feel worse afterwards.

9. Everyone considers themself an above average driver, pretty good in bed, and "smarter than the average bear."

10. A tongue stud, green hair, a tattoo, or extreme facial metalwork is no excuse not to learn to do it right.

11 If someone tells you, "You're dreaming, pal!" kick them in the testicles. They said it's a dream.

12. If someone else enters a public bathroom, cough to let them know you are there. If not, you may have to listen to something neither of you intended.

13. The Sacred Buffer Corollary: When in a public bathroom, never take the urinal/stall directly adjacent to another user/jockey. When you are the first settler, never take the middle facility.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cover-up: Cheney shooting "was no accident"

The Vice-President chats with aides
following Saturday's shooting mishap

Senior aides to Vice-President Cheney have disclosed to All This Is That startling new details of this weekend's shooting of Harry Whittington by the Vice-President. Aides say the incident was not an accident, as the press has been led to believe. An initial statement given to the press pool said "Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion on a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the attorney Harry Whittington with birdshot. "

Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin, was reported "alert and doing fine" in a Corpus Christi hospital Sunday. The Vice-President's office did not disclose the accident until nearly 24 hours after it occurred. Mr. Whittington is in stable condition in the hospital's intensive care unit.

According to aides, the story of the accident was patently false. Whittington did not, as the Vice President's office said "come up from behind the vice president and the other hunter without signaling or announcing himself." The initial statement even seemed to make light of the accident: "by god, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good."

Aides to Mr. Cheney said The Vice-President was mad that Whittington had spooked a second covey of quail away and angrily pointed his shotgun at him. At least two aides say Vice-President Cheney intentionally shot at Whittington, believing he was far enough away to escape any shot from the blast. A third aide believes Mr. Cheney pulled the trigger accidentally as a result of one of his now frequent "nerve tremors."

The Democratic leadership announced Sunday they would demand a commission look into the charges of cover-up by Vice President's staff, as well as the Secret Service.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Seven years ago today, Bill Clinton was acquited in his impeachment trial

It was seven years ago today--February 12, 1999--that Bill Clinton's five week impeachment trial came to an end, with the Senate acquitting the President of perjury and obstruction of justice.

President Clinton began an affair with Monica Lewinsky, a 21-year-old intern, in 1995. Over a year and a half, The President and Lewinsky had a dozen furtive encounters in the White House. When she was transferred to the Pentagon in 1996, she confided in Pentagon co-worker Linda Tripp about her trysts with the Commander In Chief.

Tripp began secretly to record conversations with Lewinsky, pumping for the sordid and tawdry details (and there were plenty). Paula Jones, who was suing the president on sexual harassment charges, for another alleged adventure of The President's, subpoenaed Lewinsky. In January 1998, at the urging of The President (allegedly), Monica filed an affidavit denying having had a sexual relationship with him. Later that week, Tripp contacted the office of Kenneth Starr, the Whitewater independent counsel, to rat out Lewinsky and play him the tapes she made of her talks with her "friend."

Tripp was secretly wired by the FBI and met Lewinsky again. Shortly after that, FBI agents and U.S. attorneys questioned Monica and offered her immunity if she cooperated. When the story first broke, President Clinton said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

In late July, lawyers for Lewinsky and Starr worked out a full-immunity agreement covering both Lewinsky and her parents. Starr had threatened them all with prosecution.

Head of the G.O.P. pledges to portray Democrats as pansies and use blogs to slap them around

On Friday, the Republican national chair, Ken Mehlman, outlined a political strategy for the midterm elections to portray Democrats as pansies, liberal apologists, and closet commies. He plans to portray the Dems as too weak to protect the country...and to bypass the liberal media and get the message out via the blog world. [ed. note: We just can't bear to use the words cyberspace or blogosphere].

Dear Ken:

We volunteer to donate all the space you need on the main blog of All This Is That.

A focus of this blog is on presidential and congressional politics. We would gladly furnish space to your worthy cause free of charge. As you may or may not know, The President has expressed his support and written to this blog more than once.

Feelin' the love,

John Newton Brummet III
Editor-in-chief and contributing writer,
All This Is That

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Visiting President Richard Nixon in New York City

By Jack Brummet, Editor-in-Chief
with research by Pablo Fanque, National Affairs Editor

Click collage to enlarge

One of my favorite things when I lived in NYC was to visit President Richard Nixon.

The President had a sweet townhouse at 142 East 65th Street on the Upper East Side. We probably stopped by five times while I lived there. I would drag friends there in a taxi, or car, if someone had one. The President never actually came out to greet us, although I often hoped he'd come out and say hi to the kids, and hang with us like the time he visited the students at the Lincoln Memorial. Maybe we'd have another one of those uncomfortable Nixon moments where he is bound and determined to seem like a regular guy. . .an almost laughable goal.

A few years after he resigned, he returned east from his California exile. This is the President who wanted to send me to Vietnam, so I had mixed feelings, indeed, about this man. He kept the Great Society funded, even as he lied and weaseled his way to disgrace. What could you think of the ex red-baiter who went to China and opened diplomatic relations? He was a two-edged sword, which made him endlessly fascinating. And I went there to pay homage to both Good King Richard and Evil Dick.

These visits often occurred around closing time. I seem to recall often having a bottle or go cup in hand, as we stood outside the townhouse for ten or fifteen minutes and pondered the dark and magnificent phenomenon of President Nixon.

In all of those visits, the Secret Service never came near us. We saw them a few times, but no matter how loud and raucous we got, they never approached. I guess that makes sense. There were 20 million people living within an easy car drive. We were probably not the only knuckleheads in the region to stop by.

Frank Curran, Claudia Curran, Nick Gattuccio, and Jack outside Richard Nixon's House, 1980 - click to enlarge

In the mid-eighties, Richard Nixon and I both moved from Manhattan. He moved to Saddle River, New Jersey and wrote a lot of books, and advised every President in some capacity.  RMN died in 1994, in NYC.

Friday, February 10, 2006

new index to poems on all this is that

I'm here
Ten ways of looking at lies
The Broken Chord
With our heads in the sand on the transit and eclipse
the sun plays its red song
Poem: The Developers
A raindrop's life
The mystery of the first amendment to the Ten Commandments
The Bay Of Delusion
Mad Song
Reasons To Keep On
Conspiracy Theory
The Moon Race
Mr. Flue's Grave In Hillcrest Cemetary, Kent, Wash.
The World Seems Especially Calming And Verisimilitudinous Today
Kent, Washington
[It's the Lee Harvey Oswald smile]
Zombie Breakdown
The Variations
You Rehearse Dying
Sonnet For Hari
Defensive Daydreaming
The Dream
The Prostethic Head & The Absence Of Blood
Tetuan - "No Paranoia, My Friend"
The Grey Visitors & Painting: The Grey Ambassador
The Bad Movie
The Bucket
The Man In The Mirror
A Flight Of Swallows
Audioblog - The Prevaricator
Weather Report
Your Wooden Leg
The Revelations
Sermon At The First Church Of The Mojo Apocalypse
Dosvidaniya, Ivan Ivanovitch
The Late Excavation (Text And Audio)
Jack Kerouac, Meet John Barleycorn
The Gideon Bible In My Nightstand
At The Acropolis
When Aliens Land, Or, The Return Of The King
The sous-chef is a sociopath]
James Wright Falling
[Life Is Not A Hardy Novel]
Coyote Comes Home Like A Salmon
Shorts For Jerry Melin ca. about 1988
The Golden Rule
The Countdown
When Aliens Land, Or, The Return Of The King
Notes On Flying Daybreak
Not Past Tense Yet
the glass is not half-full
It's Getting Crowded Here
Li Po In Disgrace
The Clock
A Love Song
Bad Timing
The Killer
The Absence of Footprints Growing Up
Gone Fishing
The M.D.s A Poem -
The Marriage
Driving Home To Seattle, We Watch Deer Drinking from the Skookumchuck River

Photograph of urinals in Queenstown, New Zealand

Click photograph to enlarge...

In the lobby men's room, the Sofitel Queenstown hotel has installed life sized images of models behind the urinals to peer down at each customers, uh,

The girls, local Queenstown models, hold cameras, tape measures, and binoculars; some of them are laughing, one is shocked.

The mule - a parable of management, teaching, and child-rearing

A farmer had a mule for sale. He claimed the mule would obey any command it was given.

One prospective customer was leery of this claim and decided to put the farmer and his mule to the test. So he said to the mule, "Sit down." But the mule just stood there. "Sit!" the customer yelled. Nothing happened. He turned to the farmer and said, "You claim this mule will do anything it is told, but I can't even get him to sit down."

The farmer reached down and picked up a two-by-four, walked over and hit the mule in the head. "Sit," he said. And the mule sat right down. Turning to the shocked customer, he said, "first you have to get his attention."

Alien Lore No. 63 - President Dwight D. Eisenhower meets up with alien ambassadors in the desert?

On Feb. 20, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower interrupted his vacation in Palm Springs, California to make a secret trip to nearby Edwards Air Force Base to meet with two extraterrestrial aliens.

Or, maybe, as they explained later that night (and again and again over the intervening years), Ike went to the dentist.

There is an often repeated story that President Eisenhower visited Edwards Air Force Base to either view the wreckage of a flying saucer and the bodies of dead aliens. . .or that he met with live aliens on an urgent diplomatic mission to earth.

There are many version of the story, all roughly telling how Ike mysteriously disappeared from Palm Springs one night, and that he was taken to Edwards A.F.B. He is supposed to have returned around dawn not long after, and ordered absolute blackout about anything having to do with UFOs and the aliens.

Like all the great urban legends and rumors, this story remains in circulation because many of its facts are true. We know the President indeed traveled to Palm Springs between February 17th and 24th, 1954. We also know that on the evening of Saturday, February 20th, he did disappear. Members of the press learned that the President was not where he should be, which triggered speculation that was either gravely ill or had expired.

White House Press Secretary James Haggerty called an urgent late evening press conference to announce "solemnly" that the president had, while eating fried chicken earlier that evening, broken a crown on one of his teeth. He disappeared to a local dentist.

The President arrived as scheduled the next morning for a church service, and the matter was largely forgotten. But the trip does appear to have ended suddenly. Another curious fact was that Ike had returned from a quail shooting vacation in Georgia less than a week before leaving for the Palm Springs "vacation."

Interestingly, the dentist's widow, in a June, 1979 interview, could recall nothing about her husband's treatment of the President (which presumably was a memorable event). And yet, she did remember many of the details the next night, at a steak fry (whatever that is!) where her husband was introduced as "the dentist who had treated the president."

On February 20th, the Associated Press reported that "Pres. Eisenhower died tonight of a heart attack in Palm Springs." Two minutes later, the AP retracted that bulletin and reported that Ike was alive.

Michael Salla, a former American University professor is a main proponent of the Presidential-Grey encounter. "There was telepathic communication," said Salla. The aliens offered to share their superior technology and their spiritual wisdom with Ike if he would agree to eliminate America's nuclear stockpile.

"They were afraid we might blow up some of our nuclear technology," Salla says, "and apparently that does something to time and space and it impacts on extraterrestrial races on other planets."

Ike declined the alien offer, Salla says, because he did not want to give up the arsenal.

Sometime later in 1954, the story goes, Ike reached a deal with another race of extraterrestrials, known as the "Greys" (as opposed to the earlier group of "Nordics") . The president allowed them to capture earthling cattle and humans for medical experiments, provided that they returned the humans safely home. Since then, Salla says, the "Greys" have kidnapped "millions" of humans (you've heard that story, and its variants here numerous times).

Thursday, February 09, 2006

White House announces nation-wide gun buyback and surrender program

Attorney General Gonzales at this evening's press briefing at
the Justice Department

In an unannounced, sparsely attended early evening press conference at the Department of Justice, Attorney Alberto Gonzales announced a stunning new White House initiative in the war on terror.

Beginning on February 21, the Attorney General said the federal government would "commence a firearm buyback program to be administered by the National Guard. For fifteen days, the National Guard, in conjunction with the National Security Agency, will buy back any and all firearms at their fair market value. The program will expire March 6, 2006, and in the second phase, a coalition of the NSA, National Guard, and FBI will begin a compulsory buyback program, utilizing gun registration and sales data collected by the NSA and FBI since 9/11/2001. "

Mr. Gonzales refused questions from the press, reading from a prepared statement later distributed to reporters.

"The Department of Justice and National Security Agency will hold a briefing tomorrow morning, followed by a question and answer session. We intend to outline this national security program in great detail. We believe the buyback program is fully within the scope of recently passed legislation, as well as applicable provisions of H. R. 3162, or, the Patriot Act. "

The Attorney General continued, "This program was formulated by The President, Justice Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As you all well know, The President is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and the right of all Americans to own firearms. However, for the time being, we believe it is important for everyone to do their part in the war against terror. Privately held weapons have the potential to fall into the hands of terrorists and be used against our own citizens and government. We fully believe the inconvenience of surrendering firearms until we have won the war on terror is a small price to pay to ensure our continued freedom and liberty. Without this program, there are approximately 200 million guns in circulation that could be used against us to further the terrorist's nefarious goals. We vowed after 9/11 that our airplanes would never be turned against this country again. We have succeeded in that. By taking this counter-terrorist measure now, we ensure the same thing will not happen with our weapons."

Attorney General Gonzales left the briefing room, declining to answer questions about the new counter-terrorism measure. "You'll have a chance to ask all the questions you want in the morning. I'll see you then."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Couric Olympic ceremony coverage collects ca-ca cascade

It looks like Katie Couric has her hands full!

Poem: With our heads in the sand during the transit and eclipse

"burning down the house to roast the pig." - Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The first wheel rolled around
The first adze was forged
Every tool and short-cut

Edged us to the brink
In our short dance
With Turtle Island

The machines started turning in 1900
And we started down a path
Toward the dark at the end of the tunnel

No one stands up for earth
But a handful of tree-huggers
Least of all the poets

Poet on poet on poet
Incesting like royals
With their heads in the sand

Becoming funded chinless wonders
For an audience of poets
Clapping for each other

We are in it and watching it
Pretending we're not in it
But carefully observing

For the sake of others
Writing it all down
For a doubtful tomorrow

The machines started groaning
When McKinley laid down his bones
Unloading their by-products

Onto unsuspecting skies
As we demanded encores refills and mas
And cursed the bottle turned up empty

Abboh's boys and girl's have run amok
The wheels and tools have run amok
There's no modulation

We can't slow back down
And run twice as fast
To keep up

The electric plantations hum
With fantastic machinery
Run around the clock

In Bayonne Richmond Kent Tacoma
Manteca South San Francisco The Bronx
Flint Long Beach and Cleveland

We leave vias rues expressways
Strasses avenidas and boulevards
A continent of skull orchard

Caught in flagrante
Pants down
Hands wedged in the cookie jar

No one points the guiltfinger
No one dares to finger or be fingered
And sweet mother earth struggles

To free herself
From the shackles
She turns off the rain

And takes back her Dodos and Whales
Snail Darters and Spotted Owls
Pygmy Hippotami and Flightless Cormorant

Vancouver Island Marmot and Gavial
Great Auk and Wild Ass
Tapir Kagu and Manatee

Carolina Parakeet and Dire Wolf
Coelacanth and Blackfooted Ferret
Snow Leopard and Przewalski's Horse

Glaciers virgin forests and monkey flower
Bigleaf Scurfpea and Spiny Rice
Interrupted Brome and Greensword

The infidels with battle fatigue
Sing the song
We know so well

I don't believe in earth
I just believe
In me.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Don't muzzle the ox!

Thou shalt not muzzle the ox
when he treadeth out the corn.

- Deuteronomy XXV:iv


Roseanne Barr: I F***ed George Clooney


Roseanne Barr recently told Attitude magazine, according to http://dailynews.muzi.com, that she developed a crush on George Clooney when he worked as an actor on her TV show, Roseanne. Roseanne said: "I f****ed him. More than once. I'm trying to be discreet."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Rolling Stones dodge Depends [tm] barrage at Superbowl

My friend Kevin Curran wrote the following about the Stones performance last night at the Superbowl [tm].

"Did you watch the Stones during the Stupor Bowl's halftime? What kind of bloomers was Mick clearing from the stage? I could swear that they were fully loaded Dependz lobbed up top by some frenzied geezer fans."


Rioting breaks out around the world over cartoons

The BBC reported this morning that "At least five people have been killed in Afghanistan as demonstrations against cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad swept across the country. "

In addition, riots and protests have erupted in India, Thailand, Syria, Lebanon, Indonesia, Somalia, Iran and Gaza. The Beeb also gave a timeline of the current unrest:

"30 Sept 2005: Danish paper publishes cartoons
20 Oct: Muslim ambassadors complain to Danish PM
10 Jan 2006: Norwegian publication reprints cartoons
26 Jan: Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador
30 Jan: Gunmen raid EU's Gaza office demanding apology
31 Jan: Danish paper apologises
1 Feb: Papers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain reprint cartoons
4 Feb: Syrians attack Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus
5 Feb: Protesters sack Danish embassy in Beirut"

I don't know. . .the Mohammed cartoons never seemed like a really good idea. I did a series of paintings last year, "Heroes amd villains," where one of the heroes was Mohammed. I figured it would be best to leave the Mohammed side to the imagination. . .working along the same lines of logic where I won't put a "repeal the second amendment" bumper sticker on my car. Could these cartoons have been intended to do anything except roil the waters and piss a large group of people off?


Interview with a Manhattan bartender: varnishing coffins and 86ing the rubes

Rummaging through an old box of manuscripts, I found a book I wrote in 1981 (The Spirit Below). I completely forgot writing the book (along with 200 pages of a second novel, only slightly more memorable than the first). I'll pull a few nuggets from that box over the next week...this is one. This is not an interview with a glitzy "Cocktail" style bartender. It focuses on the darker side of being the person on the other side of the bar...not that the bartender is necessarily dark, but the nature of the job brings you into contact with some unsavory folks and situations.

JACK: You should try to answer these questions as a bartender, not as a drinker. Or at least, as a drinker second.


JACK: Do people come to your bar for a specific reason? Is it loneliness, habit, to forget, celebrate, looking for “love,” or do they just want a drink or two, maybe even because they are happy?

SCOOTER: A lot of people. . .this bar I work at is different. . .there’s a nice Italian man, inherited his father’s milk company. Some days he comes in to forget a problem. Obviously. Other days he comes in because he’s in a good mood. But I have heard stories. At work he’s a sonofabitch. But at the bar he is very friendly or at least polite. Sometimes he’s a little funny too. But this guy who works with him says he is always an s.o.b. Only in social situations is he a nice man. Never at work.

JACK: Only at the bar? He becomes human then?

SCOOTER: Yes. Another man comes in. . .the guy’s always upbeat. Says the world has been great to him. But. . .last night he came in, started telling a lot of jokes and was very funny when he got there. And he started drinking. He was drinking V.O. straight up, with a shot of Gran Marnier floated on top.

JACK: A stiff drink, in short.

SCOOTER: It sure was. Well, he has three in about twenty minutes. There are two women in the bar. He became very rude and started in with “I’ve got nine pounds between my legs…” You know. “Do you want to f***?”

Yeah, he was not rude. He was sick. He said it over and over again, like a very desperate man.

JACK: The real self emerged.


JACK: Can you tell is a drinker will be like that when they walk in? Even before they hoist the first glass? Before they talk. . .

SCOOTER: I can’t. Other bartenders say they can. I guess I haven’t been at it long enough.

JACK: Another question—how much do you let people get away with before you 86 them?

SCOOTER: I’d have to say I’m pretty lenient.

Sidebar: The term "86" comes, quite possibly, from Chumley's bar and restaurant at 86 Bedford Street in the West Village in NYC. We used to go to this bar because it was one of Dylan Thomas's old haunts, like The White Horse.

JACK: Extremely?

SCOOTER: Yeah. But I’ve never really had a situation like that in New York.

JACK: But I’ve seen you, years ago, drop four glasses in a row and come back for another.

SCOOTER: I know. . .

JACK: . . .drop four because you forgot you were holding them and you were staring off into space. Would you let someone do that four times?

SCOOTER: No. But. . .well. . .a tavern is much different. This place [Dorian’s Red Hand. . .an establishment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, at about 80th Street I think. Jb] is a restaurant with a bar. People drink martinis, cognac and wine, not beer.

So. . .a Scottish guy came in here. I wasn’t working at the time. He was crazy. Bull goose loonie. The first time he came in he was a f***ing maniac. He was staggering around the place, leaning into the bar, stepping up into stools and swaying back and forth. Not really out of drunkenness but from that sort of drunken bravado, of feeling like a powerful human being when you are really just drunk. Those drunken sorts of motions, hyperbolic and exaggerated motions of the drunk. Did I just say hyperbolic AND exaggerated?

JACK: Well [laughs] I can’t remember. Let’s run back the tape. [Plays back tape] Yes. You did.

SCOOTER: Uh. . .I saw him get really crazy. Sort of like when we used to drink with Bob Huff [a professor of ours, a gifted poet, and a professional drunk]. He had that sort of approach: ‘I’m man’s man. . .we understand each other. . .I’m a Scotsman, and you’re an Irishman. And I love the Irish. . .even though. . .You’re a good man. . .descended from Kings. . .” and all that stuff.

Well, he came in once when I was working and he was really gassed. And he ordered drink after drink after drink. I kept pouring them, beer after beer. He was s***-faced when he walked in the place and he must have had eight beers in half an hour. He just poured them down his throat.

There was a funny thing about the guy, ‘though. He would only drink them down so far and leave the last bit in the glass. I tell you they weren’t getting warm. He would order another as soon as the glass reached some mysterious level. And finally he got rude and the manager came over and asked if I kept serving him and I said “Yes, I did.”

JACK: Isn’t it like technically illegal to do that?

SCOOTER: Yeah. But I think it’s more to protect the bar you would kick someone out for being drunk.

JACK: Save the mirrors and such.


JACK: And no one ever really seems to get kicked out for being a happy drunk!


JACK: How about a trick you told me about once? Pouring vodka in a guy’s beer to speed the process, so to speak, and get him out the door?

SCOOTER: The guy’s crazy. Fifty-five, sixty. Tells me the same story time after time. And yeah, the vodka works. It gets them out of there. He has a couple of beers and he’s so crazy he can’t even taste the vodka. Another bartender here—Sean—said he would fill his glass nearly halfway up with vodka. Even if he were not drunk, a couple of those would send him down the road. One usually.

JACK: Do you ever feel like you are helping people varnish their coffins?


JACK: A guy comes in with D.T.s, or terminal alcohol bloat. Does it bother you to pour them drinks? A corpse on the other side of the bar. . .


JACK: You don’t care? If you see a guy almost literally dying?

SCOOTER: It’s his job to stay alive. Mine is to sell drinks. For instance, this one guy quit drinking because he had liver trouble, or epilepsy or something. A while ago, he started coming in and drinking light beer. The first couple of weeks he was drinking coffee or club soda. And then he quit drinking a few and would have twelve, fifteen beers. Sean said he drank 24 one time. Sean cracked a case as it happens on his first beer. And he emptied the case in an afternoon, five or six hours.

So the guy says to me once “Kevin, this beer is just not settling right. Give me a grapefruit and vodka.”

Now, he’s sliding fast. He’ll be back to Scotch soon. He acts like vodka, beer, anything but Scotch is all right. He came in here today and looked like hell. He’d been drinking two, two and a half days. I kept pouring them. And yesterday, he was in here on day two maybe and had twelve drinks in three hours.

So I saw what was happening and started pouring them with just a floater of vodka on top after his first two. Just a little vodka he could smell and taste at first. After that first blast, when you are that twisted, you forget about worrying whether or not you have sufficient alcohol in your drink.

He wanted to be somewhere. And I wasn’t really cheating the guy. He was lonely and a compulsive drinker. He’s almost dead.

JACK: So, in some sense, you’re actually extending his stay on the planet.

SCOOTER: Although he apparently doesn’t actually want to stay here. . .

[A long digression in the interview occurs here, where we discuss the relative merits of various potables, and go into cash register theft in bars, all of which is deleted because of possibly incriminating statements made about other individuals in the business, notably our friend The Dogfish. As it turns out, this interview will only first be published here, twenty-five years later, long after the statute of limitations has expired. However, All This Is That will be delving into this area in the near future.]

JACK: What is the best philosophy for a bartender to have?


JACK: Poor? Pour?.

SCOOTER: Yeah. That’s what Sean told me on Saint Patrick’s Day. ‘Yeah, keep pouring them and when they get drunk, rob them. Anything on the counter is yours Kevin. That’s business.’

JACK: Do you think the atmosphere of a bar is conducive to business? Does a bar provide the right setting for clear thinking? Because business guys we all know at least have to think clearly enough to fleece their marks. . .to separate the rubes from their money? I mean what is it about bars? The martial regularity? The neat order of the glasses and the bottles?

SCOOTER: No. It’s not the order or anything. It’s the liquor itself. There is a certain. . .as you know. . .lucidity that can be achieved drinking [1]. It’s great stuff. I’m not saying there isn’t a fragile point. There is a point where you have another and it’s gone.

Sidebar: Cf. Horace’s epistles I, v, 19: Brimming bowls—whom
have they not made eloquent?

JACK: One more question. Would you resort to violence to quell a brouhaha or disturbance? A guy comes in, say, extremely high, and gets wild. . .

SCOOTER: Even if he didn’t get wild, I’d kick his ass.

JACK: Right. Anyone who came off loco? What if he was a big, scary, dumb looking guy?

SCOOTER: If he was really drunk? If he was a big guy? I’d say leave! And if he didn’t. . .I’d whap him. Big or small. I’d grab a club and whip his ass.

JACK: But you can’t whip everyone. Do you guys keep heat behind the bar?

SCOOTER: No heat. But there is a baseball bat.

JACK: Wow. What about the bouncer? He almost didn’t let me in here today, you know, the clothes, the hair. He was a big sumbitch!

SCOOTER: Only today. . .on Saint Paddy’s Day is there a bouncer here.

Once in a bar in Washington [state]. I had to sort of kick this guy’s ass. You were already in New York by then.

A weirdo comes in. He was real nice, quiet, normal. But somewhere in there, he turns crazy. Jerry Melin was there when it happened. I was a crappy bartender. Always will be. Even back then . I didn’t like it.

JACK: You seem like a good one, just too reticent.

SCOOTER: So this guy comes in and wants to arm-wrestle me! There were two girls there. Now I can’t arm-wrestle. Any pain and I quit.

JACK: That’s funny because I’ve seen you in several retarded fights. . .get pummeled, and come back for more. . .

SCOOTER: Well, I suck at arm wrestling. This guy says ‘Let’s do it to see who’s stronger.’ I said ‘F*** that. Bet twenty bucks.’ He said ‘Let’s do it to see who the man is.” I came back and said I wasn’t going to do it for free. He said ‘You’re chicken,” and threw something at me. A drink. . .I don’t know. I got mad and walked around the bar and grabbed him by the seat of the pants. . .in front of the girls he—and I suppose I—were trying to impress. I walked him toward the front door, cussing him out, and punctuating each phrase with a knee in his ass. I threw him against a wall outside and tossed him his wallet, which had fallen out. He tried to come back in and get his umbrella and I said ‘You sonofabitch, get out! Get the umbrella tomorrow.’

JACK: What does that story mean? Would you fight for your job, to defend the honor of your bar’s sacred turf?

SCOOTER: No! Only an insult to me. F*** the bar.

May, 1981, New York City.