Pulling Out the Savoy Truffle

Reflections on music, literature, politics, and pop culture from retired rock musician, writer, and college professor Jim Booth. Email comments to Jim at jim@jimbooth.org.

Name:
Location: Advance, North Carolina, United States

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Veep Debate

"You're not the boss of me now...."
They Might be Giants

My buddy Sam Smith has a pretty lucid analysis of the debate at The Lullaby Pit. Go read it.

As for me: bully CEO meets hot shot trial lawyer. Media calls it a draw.

Humpty Dumpty....


"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all."
Lewis Carroll

Vice-President Cheney seems to have determined that if HE says it, it must be true. Despite the report from the chief U.S. weapons inspector that Saddam had built NO WMD's after 1991, Cheney insists that this justifies Dubya's decision to go to war.

I'm not sure which troubles me more - Cheney's delusion that whatever he and this administration say and do is justified because they say and do it or his arrogance that he can simply lie in the face of overwhelming evidence and he'll be believed by about 50% of the American voting public.

JB

Friday, October 01, 2004

You Are What You Read

"Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe...."
John Lennon

ST WV correspondent Steve sent along this fun little piece from Cambridge University:

"I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt!"

Cool, huh?

As ST NY correspondent Sam points out, the phenomenon is called Gestalt - or as he would say, "Gstelat."

Next, go see Sam Smith's terrific new poem at The Lullaby Pit....

Now you're more educated....

JB


Red and Blue

"You say yes/I say no...."
Sir Paul McCartney

The Seattle Times offers an editorial concerning last night's first presidential debate that contains a sentence that really set me thinking:

"Here is a radical idea: Suspend the rest of these expensive, bloated campaigns and have the candidates spending more time in front of Americans talking — together."

What a great idea. That could make this a real election based on honest differences over issues - not an advertising campaign for each candidate.

Don't look for it to happen. In this Age of Surfaces (I'm going to write about this concept extensively here shortly), this would allow us to decide between candidates based on our ability to decode them as men, as politicians, as leaders. Political parties and mass media have long since decided that we, the American people, can't be trusted to make those sorts of vitally important civic decisions without their manipulating candidates' images and messages as well as our ability to discover, analyze, and assess the truth behind those images and messages.

(For more deep thoughts on the debate, go see Sam Smith's excellent analysis at The Lullaby Pit....)



Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Write Angle

"I won't quote you no Dickens, Shelley, or Keats...
Cause it's all been said before...."
Rod Stewart

I'm working on a new book Completeness of the Soul: The Life and Opinions of Jay Breeze, Rock Star. Some of the stories have already been published in literary journals (you may have even read some). Below is one that's been driving me crazy. Read and respond when you have time: (Warning: no adult content....)


WE ARE THE LOST GENERATION

August 21, 1991



Dear Angel,

You know, you have that thing you say to me whenever you call—you say,“Hey, whaddayadoin’?”

Here’s a bit about what I’ve been doing.

I was born and brought up in Reidsville, North Carolina. Reidsville’s a little town of about 20,000 people up close to the Va./N.C. border. It’s only about ten miles from Eden, where Teddy Hatter and Charlie Beagle grew up.

Teddy and Charlie were acquaintances of mine before we all went to UNC together. Actually, that’s not quite true. Teddy and I were acquaintances; Charlie and I were friends. We knew each other from literary competitions that were held for all the high schools in the county. It was through Charlie that I met Teddy.

Charlie (you insist on calling him Professor Beagle) used to get me to come over and listen to his and Teddy’s band rehearse. I always thought their band had a cool name—Nothing Sacred. Maybe I knew even then that it would be Teddy and me. I remember that each time I went to hear them (I always tried not to go too often even though they rehearsed three times a week—you know me, Angel, the soul of modesty) that Teddy would get me to sing a song with them. He kinda flipped out when I sang a song I’d written for them. He went right to work on it, embellishing it and changing it until it was half his own. I changed a couple of lines to fit the rhythm changes he’d made and we’d written our first song together. Took us maybe twenty minutes.

The song was “Her Smile, Winter 1970.” We kept changing the year until we finally recorded it in the fall of 1975. It was a top ten hit for us in the winter of 1976. The reason it’s called “Her Smile, Winter 1974” instead of “1975” is that somebody wrote down the song title for the record company (Teddy or Mick, I think—does it matter?) from an old song list and we hadn’t changed the year.

This isn’t telling you much, is it?
What would you like to know?
I’d tell you anything.
I love you, you know.

Well. We all graduated high school in 1970. Teddy went to N. C. State, Charlie and I to UNC. That’s not quite true. Teddy spent most of his time in Chapel Hill with us, so he was only nominally an N. C. State student.

He was really a rock musician. That was all Teddy ever wanted to be. He lived and breathed it. He still does. Oh. He transferred over to UNC after a semester. How the hell he got in I’ll never know. I can’t imagine he passed a single course he was taking at NCSU. I think, though he never has said, that he withdrew about midterm of that first semester and applied for some kind of special admission to UNC. Anyway, come January of ’71, he was with us.

Charlie was a different case. He went for the books. Big time. College was Charlie’s thing. He still hung around and all that, but he was mainly into his studies. He wanted to be a journalist. Actually, he wanted to be like Hunter Thompson “only with more self -control” he said.

And that’s where I came in. Charlie lost interest in the band. He and Teddy had found Mick right after arriving in Chapel Hill. They then went through a series of drummers.
I don’t know what it is about drummers, Angel. They’re probably the most vital part of any band—the heartbeat, you know? And yet, they’re always the least stable guys. The ones most likely to disappear without a trace. Anyway, there were at least half a dozen in quick succession. Then Sid showed up when the guys opening for somebody or other at Town Hall, the favorite college club. I was being their roadie and saw the whole thing.

Sid just walked up to the stage after their set and said, “You guys write great songs, but you need a drummer. I’m him.” Interestingly, their drummer at the time was packing up his kit and heard Sid. He came over and got in Sid’s face big time. Sid invited him outside to fight. The drummer backed off.

At that point Teddy looked at Charlie, Charlie looked at Teddy, and in the same breath they both told the drummer he was fired. Charlie told me later it was a no brainer. If Sid was crazy enough to fight somebody for the job, he was the man for them.

Boy, I do go on, don’t I?
Thanks for letting me tell all this.
I still haven’t told you much.
Sometime I think, what’s there to tell?

Sid joined up in mid October of 1970. That was really the last time Charlie and Teddy acted as a united front. I’d never felt like I could get past that—in terms of the band, I mean. We were all friends and all that, but there was this deeper connection between them that I always felt uneasy trying to breach. You know how it is—you sense two people know something that you can never know, and no matter how well you get to know them you’ll never have or know that thing they have.

Kind of like us, I guess.

Anyway, from that point in mid October when Sid joined, things just kind of went on the skids between Teddy and Charlie. Charlie took to hanging out with some j-school types and Teddy started spending all his time with Mick and me—and Sid.

Usually guys leave bands over women. You know, somebody gets a girlfriend and pays more attention to her than to the band and pretty soon he gets himself thrown out. So he consoles himself that he made the better choice—you know, love over music. But I doubt that anyone who ever left the music for a person was ever really satisfied. But Charlie left over wanting to write rather than play. I’ve often admired him for that. And I’ve always been completely puzzled by it.

The music is bigger than anyone, Angel.
That’s how it is.
And you can try to leave it, but it will never leave you.
Yeah, that’s a little scary.

So Charlie just drifted away. He came to rehearsal late, he left early, he wasn’t really there when he was rehearsing—that kind of stuff.

As Charlie absented himself more and more, I started filling in. At first I would just play with the guys to warm them up. Then gradually I began to play with the band as they rehearsed their set. Teddy and I wrote two new songs together: “Mary, Quite Contrary” and “River Kisses.”

Always, I got right out of the way when Charlie showed up. But it reached a point fairly quickly (we rehearsed four nights a week) where they didn’t get much done when Charlie showed up because he and Teddy would spend all their time at each other’s throats. Then came the time when Charlie stopped showing up at all. We just went ahead. We even played three shows in late November.

I didn’t know how to feel about it, Angel.
I don’t know how to feel now.
In a way, I think it must be like a second marriage.
You either know they love you as you or you wonder.
At some point, though, you have to stop wondering.
I stopped wondering—you should, too.

Then, just before exams, at our last rehearsal in Chapel Hill before the holidays, Charlie walked in as we were doing out last three numbers. He didn’t say anything, and to this day I don’t think anyone noticed him but me. Maybe it was because I was and am so sensitive about what he gave me by giving me the band. By this time, mid December, Teddy and the rest of us had even talked about a name change. I’d tossed out the name The Lost Generation one night after rehearsal when I’d had a few beers. Everyone had liked it; Mick and Sid were all set to rename the band. But Teddy seemed to be waiting for something; that night when Charlie showed up, he got it.

When we finished playing, Teddy looked over at Charlie. “So. What’d you think?” he asked.

Charlie just nodded his head in that way he does that says, “I’m way ahead of you.” Then he said, “This band is how it should be. This band can go all the way. Don’t you think so, Jay?”
I was standing there with my head down, feeling guilty, and I didn’t realize for a second that he’d addressed his question to me. Then I realized that they were all looking at me instead of at Teddy.

I looked at Charlie. He had that homespun look of wisdom he usually gets on his face when he knows he’s got you. Then, I looked at Teddy again. He had that” Go ahead “ look he’s so famous for.

I didn’t look at Mick or Sid. I guess I didn’t feel they were involved, even though they were right there and integral members of the band. It just seemed like it was about Charlie, Teddy, and me.

I nodded “yes” in answer to Charlie.

I saw this sad little light pass over Charlie’s eyes as he smiled at me.

Teddy looked surprised; he rarely does.

Then Charlie asked quietly, ‘What are you going to call it?” He meant the band.

“The Lost Generation.” Only after he’d answered did Teddy look at Charlie.

“Cool name.” Charlie smiled.

Then Teddy smiled. “Jay thought of it,” he said.

And they both smiled at me. And I smiled.
Then we all went out and had a bunch of beers to celebrate.

Neither Teddy nor Charlie ever spoke to me about it again.

Maybe they talked it over between themselves, but I never felt they did. That’s the thing at work between them that I was talking about earlier, I guess. They just knew it would be okay for it to be this way.

So Nothing Sacred ended and The Lost Generation began.
You know what I mean by all this.
You know what I’m trying to tell you.
That’s how things happen, Angel.
That’s how things happen.
Things end—things begin again.

Love,

Jay

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Participatory Democracy

"Something happening here/What it is ain't exactly clear...."
Stephen Stills

There's a big jump in voter registration. There are also a record number of overseas voters choosing to exercise their constitutional right.

What this means I have no clue.

We'll see Nov. 2nd....

JB

LCD (Lowest Common Demographic) Politics

" I'm your yankee doodle dandy in a gold Rolls Royce/I wanna be elected...."
Alice Cooper

Friend Val offers the following RNC mailer currently in wide circulation in Arkansas in her blog Mental Kudzu.

Kudos to her for the tip....

JB

Monday, September 27, 2004

Ugly is as Ugly Does....

"It's only words/And words are all I have...."
Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb

My friend Sam has a brilliant disquisition on the Aaron McGruder dustup over his satire of The Apprentice in his comic strip Boondocks last week. His blog in The Lullaby Pit analyzes the real and phony elements of the controversy. You owe it to yourself as a thinking American....

JB

Nasty/Beautiful

"...put my fist through your steel-framed door...."
Mick Jagger

Saw a quote in a Washington Post column by Michael Kinsley that I found too good not to note:

"My favorite among the Republican mind readers is House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who said last week, 'I don't have data or intelligence to tell me one thing or another,' which is an assertion that no one will disagree with."

Sometimes it's possible to use language in a way that is, as ST's VW correspondent Steve put it, "beautifully vicious...."

JB




Friday, September 24, 2004

The Reading Room....

"Dear Sir or Madam/Will you read my book...?"
Sir Paul McCartney

I'm working on a new book Completeness of the Soul: The Life and Opinions of Jay Breeze, Rock Star. Some of the stories have already been published in literary journals (you may have even read some). Below is one that's been driving me crazy. Read and respond when you have time: (Warning: some adult content....)

RECEIVED WISDOM

February 5, 1992
11:30 PM

Dear Angel,

The Albuquerque show was a mess. It started snowing the morning of the show and the trucks carrying our equipment couldn’t get into town. Paul, Scott, and Van spent the entire day desperately phoning every music store and sound professional in Albuquerque and Santa Fe—just in case—trying to round up the right equipment so that we could do the concert. The weather got progressively worse as the day wore on.

Teddy and I had flown up to Taos to ski three days before; we quit at lunch time and started for Albuquerque, but we could only get as far as Santa Fe in a rented Jeep and that took us about four hours. They were going to send a snowplow kind of vehicle or something for us, but someone with better sense than us nixed that. Besides, with the weather so bad, there wasn’t going to be a show that night anyway. So Teddy and I wound up checked into a hotel called the Inn of the Governors.

We tried to check into a place called the El Dorado, but it’s part of the Quality Inn Corporation and we’re banned from those places for life. When Teddy gave them his AE card to pay for the room, some ID system on their computer spit our names out as bad, bad boys. The manager, a guy about 35 with pretensions to cool, came to the desk and told us politely that we couldn’t stay with them but that he’d be delighted to find us comparable accommodations.

The El Dorado’s lobby was really busy, so it didn’t take Teddy long to gather a crowd once he stated raising hell at the desk clerks and the manager. He just bashed the poor guy about sending us out into a howling blizzard because of prejudice against poor, underprivileged rock stars like us. I stood by and smiled at the crowd. People like me when I smile. I guess because I don’t very often.

I should explain why we’re banned with a for example. During the 1978 tour of the Southwest—for example—we trashed two rooms of the Quality Inn South in Dallas. It started innocently enough. Mick and I had a room adjoining Teddy and Sid’s. We couldn’t get the door adjoining the rooms to unlock, even though hotel management assured us it would open. We had a big party going (surprise) and were all pretty drunk when the guy arrived to get the door open for us. When he couldn’t get the door unlocked, for some reason we all got pissed off. We threw some furniture at the door and Paul and Van, pretty big guys, tried bashing the door down. Even that didn’t work.

Finally Mick got a fire axe (from where I have no idea) and we chopped the door open, all the time laughing and yelling, “Here’s Johnny!” Sid and I got into the spirit of things and pulled the pieces of the door off its hinges and threw them off our balcony onto the deck by the swimming pool. Teddy got some lighter fluid from somewhere (you know, that stuff you use to light charcoal on a grill).

The next thing I remember is cops and fire trucks arriving and we’re down by the pool dancing naked with some girls (yeah, they’re naked, too), and then we all get led away and get sheets wrapped around us. That cost us some money and evidently raised questions in the minds of the Quality Inn Corporation’s management about the wisdom of allowing us to be guests in their hotels.

Now do you understand? Yes, Angel, we’ve been bad boys. Quite often, actually.

Meanwhile, the hotel manager lost his cool and announced to the lobby at large, “You see, Mr. Hatter, corporate records show that you and your friend Mr. Breeze are responsible, in concert with a Mr. (he checked a computer screen) Mick Norris and a Mr. Sid (screen again) Vegas for seriously damaging some (screen again) 14 rooms in Quality Inns scattered across the country from Boston to Dallas.”

I need to mention something here, Angel. This asshole knew who we were. Everybody his age and socio-economic background knows who we are. I bet he had two or three of our albums. I mean this guy was no country music or R & B fan. You could smell his Ralph Lauren Polo. He listened to us in college. Probably still listened to us. I could see him cranking up “Mary, Quite Contrary” in the car when we came on the radio as he drove home listening to his favorite classic rock station. I couldn’t figure out why he wanted to make a production out of throwing us out of his hotel.

Then I noticed the girl. She must’ve been about 20. His favorite night clerk, I was betting. Dark hair and eyes. Very pretty. Watching first him, then us. He could smell her indecision about who was more attractive, so he had to do something. He was playing the big man for her. Showing her that even famous rock stars couldn’t fuck with him.

Teddy looked at me. “Is that right?”

I shrugged. “I thought it was closer to 20. How about Denver? And San Diego? And Atlanta? And…”

Teddy shook his head. “No, those were Holiday Inns.”

People had been gathering as we wrangled with the hotel manager, and there had been two different waves of murmuring building like swells off the North Shore. One wave was the “Is it really them?” wave. The other was the “They’re not going to give them a room? In this blizzard? Don’t they know who those guys are?” wave.

Then it was suddenly quiet.

It was that weird quiet that sometimes comes over a crowd for maybe 20 seconds before the band comes on stage. It was that quiet that you know is going to explode into pandemonium. That hotel manager hadn’t grasped what was about to happen to him. That lobby full of thirty-something’s coming from or going to Taos was going to leap on him like a pack of coyotes on a lost lamb.

One of the marvels of the rock star profession, Angel, (I guess one can call it a profession) is that no matter what kinds of assholes we are, our fans will defend us tooth and nail.

About then the manager realized what deep shit he was in. He went pale and took a half step back from the desk as if readying himself to run.

I figured somebody better do something.

I leaned over the desk and motioned to the manager. He hesitated. I motioned again, this time more urgently. For some reason, as I did so I thought of the little tramp in Chaplin’s The Gold Rush motioning impatiently to his prospector pal to pull him out of the cabin that’s about to go over a cliff. He stepped over and leaned close.

“Look,” I said quietly, matter-of-factly, “give us somewhere to go right now, then come back here and find us a room in a hotel close by. Then see to it that we get there as quickly and comfortably as possible.”

The manager looked out across the crowd that was just starting to reach that Banzai Pipeline crest before crashing down on him. He drew himself up and said, “Mr. Hatter, Mr. Breeze, on behalf of the Quality Inn corporation, we’d like to give you a comfortable place to relax while we arrange for your alternate accommodations. I suggest”—

The cute desk clerk who’d sort of just stood there wide-eyed at first while the manager and Teddy wrangled, had gotten busy. She handed him a telephone receiver. “This is the Inn of the Governors, sir,” she whispered. “They’ve got a suite ready for these gentlemen, and they’re sending someone in a Jeep to pick them up. They’ll be here in about 30 minutes.”

Manager boy took the receiver and spoke briefly. “Everything is arranged,” he said theatrically. “Now if you’ll follow me”—he came from behind the desk and picked up my bag.
Teddy stopped him.

“Acknowledge the girl for what she did,” he said quietly.

“What do you mean?” asked the manager.

“She saved your ass,” I said, taking my bag away from him. “Tell this crowd she did.”

The expression on his face told me he wasn’t going to last much longer in the hospitality industry if many more clients like us came along.

“Thank you, Brooke, for arranging for Mr. Hatter’s and Mr. Breeze’s accommodations.” He smiled as if someone had just stuck a branding iron against his ass. He took my bag, picked up Teddy’s and started for the bar.

“Yes, Brooke, thank you. Look, we’re going to be over at the Inn of the Governors. When you finish your shift, come on over and we’ll hang out. I’ll tell you about some of the interesting things that have happened to me in hotels,” Teddy said loudly enough for everybody in the lobby to hear.

I just smiled at her and winked.

Yeah, Angel she came over. She hooked up with Teddy.


* * * * * * * * *


We followed the Pompous One toward the bar. The crowd parted for us like the Red Sea. Some of the same weird stuff that always used to happen when we walked through a crowd happened. A woman stepped out of the crowd and kissed Teddy on the cheek, then ducked back into the mob. She must’ve been about forty. As I passed her I noticed a guy looking at her—must’ve been her husband—like she’d just broken his heart. Another woman stepped out and touched my hair, just drew the back of her hand across it as I passed her. I looked back and she was holding her hand and looking at it as if she’d burned it or gotten something on it. Guys were saying stuff to us like “Hey, Teddy,” or “Cool hair, Jay.” It was such an old fashioned moment.

The kids just don’t react that way now. They just talk to you like you’re anybody else. That damned Cobain and Michael Stipe are ruining it for everybody.


* * * * * * * * * * *


It was after five by then and Teddy went immediately to the phone in the bar and called Albuquerque to tell them where we would be. The show was definitely cancelled. We heard the announcement on a radio playing in the bar. I ordered us a couple of beers and told the bartender to charge them to Manager Boy.

The bartender, a good-looking blonde with hair about the same length as mine, cocked her head at me. “He’s my boss,” she said. Then she raised her eyebrows in anticipation of the comeback.

“I’m his daddy,” I said, shaking my head so my earring would jingle. I had on the hoop with the guitar dangling in it. Women love that thing.

She drew the beer, put one in front of me, and slid the other down the bar to Teddy who was still on the phone. He caught it like a good shortstop and lifted it to his lips. She smiled at his grace, then turned to me. “So. You’re him and he’s him.” She reached laid a cd cover on the bar. One finger tapped a picture of me, then of Teddy.

I tapped the picture of me. As I did, my hand brushed hers. She looked up from the picture. So did I.

You know, Angel, you’d be easier to be faithful to if you weren’t fucking dead.

Yes, I know I’m using anger to ease my guilt. No, it’s not working.

Either you’re going to have to come back to life or I’m going to have to die. This “one on this side, the other on that side” shit isn’t working.

Yeah, she came over to our other hotel. No, she didn’t hook up with Teddy. She was with someone else….

“We’re gonna be at the Inn of the Governors later,” said Teddy from the end of the bar. That was for the benefit of the bartender, although if he’d looked around at us he’d have seen that he didn’t have to say it.

He kept looking out the door and across the lobby and I knew he was communicating with the girl Brooke somehow. I didn’t figure he could see her, so I guessed he was just standing there being famous. That’s pretty much all we ever have to do.

You know, Angel, fame is such bullshit. That girl was a perfectly lovely, intelligent person, someone who helped us, and in return she was being reduced to—what? A bird facing a snake? That’s what it feels like much of the time.

Why? Because I have some name and face recognition.

Why? Because I like to make up songs and sing them for people. And so now I’m famous and people pay $20 a pop to watch me do something I’d do for them for free.

Why? So a bunch of assholes can make a living marketing what I do, setting up places for me to do it, taking my picture, writing about my doing it (hell, even Charlie did that, although I think he saw through it after all), recording my singing and playing.

What’s that line from the Byrds’s song? “Sell your soul to the company/Who are waiting there to sell plastic ware….”

The bartender leaned over so that her face was close to mine. “Which is your favorite of your albums?”

We looked at each other for about a minute. “ANTHEMS FOR DOOMED YOUTH,” I said, telling the truth for once. That’s not the one most people, especially most women, want to hear.

“Oh.” She leaned back, hesitating, then said, "My favorite is—"

“HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR BLUE-EYED BOYS?” we said together.

She cocked her head and almost smiled. “You know your audience.”

“After the fact, maybe,” I said. “We were young and looking for love when we wrote that album. We said the things we thought women would want to hear.”

“Sounds more like you were looking for sex,” she said.

I nodded slightly and looked down at my beer. Smart girl.

“Hey,” she said, a little brusquely, sounding so much like you I glanced up at her, startled. “Nothing wrong with that.”

We locked eyes then. She had these great hazel eyes. And in the middle of January in Santa Fe, a great tan.

Sometimes need is as strong as love, Angel. It happens. That’s why we have forgiveness.

Just then Brooke showed up at the door. “Your ride’s here, “she said to Teddy, oblivious to the other two people in the bar. The blonde and I broke our gazes and looked at them.

Teddy drained his beer and drew Brooke’s eyes to his. “You coming later?” he said.

Brooke didn’t say anything. She just kept looking at him. That whole bird and snake thing again.

“She can ride over with me,” said the bartender.

We locked eyes again. “Nothing wrong with”—we said together.

“Look,” I began—

She reached over and flicked my earring. “I know I like my blue-eyed boy. I just want to know how much.” She looked down at the bar then back at me.

I thought hard about you, Angel. I thought hard about me. I thought hard about love, hard about sex, and hard about the difference it makes if you get them together. I thought hard about being dead and being alive.

Then I just thought, “Fuck it.” I mean, sometimes you just have to.

“See you later tonight,” I said. I picked up the beer and took a long swig, then handed her the half full glass.

She took the glass from me and finished off the beer. “For sure.”

We nodded at each other in that way people do when something’s going to happen between them. I turned to follow Teddy out to the Jeep they had waiting to take us to the Inn of the Governors.

“Hey.”

I looked back at her.

“I’m Betsy.”

“Yeah. I’m Jay. Jay Breeze.”

She held up the cd cover. “I’ve heard of you.”

“Yeah. Right.”

Teddy called me and I went out into the snow and joined him in the Jeep for the ride to the hotel.

We ordered lots of food and wine sent up to our suite. The rest of the night went about as you’d expect. The snake got the bird and Betsy found out how much….


* * * * * * * * * * *

February 6, 1992

It’s four o’clock in the morning. Still snowing. I’ve got a great view out my hotel window of the mountains in the distance. They’re the Santa Fe Mountains, I guess, but you know me. Looking stuff like that up.... It’s not going to happen.

I keep looking out the window at the snow coming down with the mountains in the background. Mind if I quote some poetry? “Now more than ever seems it rich to die.” John Keats. “Ode to a Nightingale.”

Why did you have to die, Angel? Why do you have to be the one to be dead? I’m the one who’s lived dangerously all these years. I’m the one the shrink said had self-destructive tendencies.
Why do you have to be the one who left? I never would have left, Angel.

My mother would say (as she said at the time), “John Jay, it’s all part of God’s plan. We aren’t meant to understand. We must accept.”

Well, I don’t accept, Angel. I’m royally pissed. If God’s plan includes killing off 24 year girls, then God better get a clue.

Okay. You’re right. What do I know? Maybe I should do like the guy in the old song. You wouldn’t remember it, but maybe you heard it sometime on one of those oldies stations. It’s called “Last Kiss” and goes something like:

Oh where, oh where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me.
She’s gone to heaven, so I’ve got to be good,
So I can see my baby when I leave this world….

Doesn’t really sound like me, does it? What the hell, you know? I’d try being good if I thought it would make any difference.

I’ve been reading in a guidebook about the city. Santa Fe means “Holy Faith.” I guess it was like that letter I wrote about the dreams. A message. I look for messages from you all the time. In one of our last conversations, one you didn’t remember when I asked you because you were drunk when you called me, you told me that if we were never together again on earth that we’d be together in heaven because we were one and while God might let us be apart here he’d never make us be apart there. I believe that, Angel. I believed you when you told me that. I believe. I have to. It’s all I can do.

I’ve convinced Teddy to let me put that song you mentioned, “Will I See You in Heaven?” on the new album.


* * * * * * * * * *


It’s six in the morning now. Still snowing. I fell asleep for a bit. Dreams of you. They come and come. As always.

The girl? I sent her away. You knew I would. (to be continued)
JB

You Can't Do That....

"How do you sleep...?"
John Lennon

ST's Eden correspondent Gene filed this report:


Madison, NC. 9/24-04 - Bushites on rampage in NC

The sleepy little town of Madison in Rockingham County, NC, has been rocked by a series of incidents that are leaving people scratching their heads wondering if recent acts by Bush supporters qualify as domestic terrorism under The USA Patriot Act, or are at least intimidation in violation of First Amendment freedoms.

As reported in a full color above-the-fold front page article in The Messenger today, the local newspaper, several houses, including (some) on on the NC Register of Historic Places, were paint balled last week apparently because they had Kerry/Edwards signs in their yards. Houses in the same neighborhood that had no yard signs, or had Bush signs, were not hit by the gun propelled missiles.

On 9/16, the Eden Daily News carried a front page below-the-fold article datelined Madison which described how vandals were tearing down over 50 Kerry/Edwards signs almost as fast as they were put out. A local Democrat who had signs stolen said "Bush is the problem. He made this country divisive. We'll all have to pull together after the election is over. We've got to be bigger than tearing down signs."

In response to the article, Tommy Harrington, Chairman of the local Republican Party published a long "Second Opinion" article in the Eden News on Sept. 22nd, addressing the story. A bitter former Democrat who switched some years ago after serving as a State Highway Commissioner, Harrington launched into personal attacks on the reporter and the person quoted in her article. A practicing lawyer in Eden, Harrington made these comments about John Edwards and Congressional Democrats:

"They have divided this country, and the crime is they have done is deliberately. They are the ones who have turned other nations against us; they are the ones who have helped kill American military personnel by encouraging our enemies. It is undeniable that Mr. Kerry and his organization have given aid and comfort to enemies of this nation. Such actions as this can best be described as 'treasonous.'"

Before Harrington's article appeared, Dick Cartwright, Chairman of the local Democratic Party sent a letter to Harrington, notifying him of the sign vandalism and paint ball incident by his Republican supporters, and sent an abbreviated copy to local newspapers. Cartwright said, "I am asking you to enter into an informal agreement that you and I will do whatever we reasonably can to avoid this kind of vandalism and threat to private property for the duration of this election. I'm sure you are as embarrassed by the behavior of your supporters as we are upset by it. Hopefully, if you can speak forcefully to your people, we shall have no more of this".
Meanwhile, as the story of the paint balling incident spreads, questions begin to arise as to what can be done. Madison Police Chief Perry Webster was quoted as saying "It seem as though they were targets because of the Democratic signs in their yards. We're not going to tolerate it. We will find out who they are". He said a citizen has stepped up to offer a reward for information on the crime that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible. "We've always had removal of signs, but I don't recall any damage being done."

At the time, the area was under a tornado warning from Hurricane Ivan, and one owner was trying to relax from a busy day at school when suddenly she heard a loud noise. "I thought it was another tornado or an electric generator going out," said Sybil Landreth. But she soon discovered someone had shot her house with green paint balls. Her historic house had been recently painted, and will likely have to be repainted. Several days later green streaks ran across the light colored paint where the family was unable to clean the stains.

Mary Louise Cardwell was in her front room with her 13-year old granddaughter, staying there because her home had been damaged by a tornado. Waiting for pizza, "all of a sudden we heard something that sounded like rocks. My house was hit 14 times. I couldn't believe anyone would do that!" Another of the houses was owned by County Democratic Chairman Dick Cartwright. At least three houses were hit, all with recently installed Kerry/Edwards signs on a street where Bush signs had reigned supreme.

The question remains whether these incidents are isolated events, or part of a conspiracy organized between some who may be guilty of domestic terrorism under The USA Patriot Act, and/or violations of civil and Constitutional rights, as well as other minor misdemeanor charges of vandalism. Is this any different from selecting houses along a street to attack because of the race of the people who live there? Or does this significantly differ from burning a cross in someone's yard? It seems to be of the category of things we have learned in American to call "hate crimes."

As Cartwright said in his letter to Harrington, "We are most concerned about avoiding future incidents of this nature, since we still have six weeks to Election Day. It's clear that these incidents were politically motivated, by your supporters of George W. Bush. Needless to say, again in this case, "W" stands for "Wrong."

I don't care what your political persuasion is, this behavior has to be disturbing to upright, sensible Americans.

God help us if this is what it's come to.....

JB


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Evil That Men Do....

"All along the watchtower, princes kept the view...."
Bob Dylan

Today's column by E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post (thanks to ST's WV correspondent Steve for the tip) looks at the CBS "fake memos" debacle with a reasonable eye - at least to reasonable readers (I'm guessing my conservative friends stopped reading at either the words "E.J. Dionne" or "Washington Post," depending upon their perspicacity). Near the end, one passage in particular caught my eye:

"I'm as weary as you are that our politics veer away from what matters — Iraq, terrorism, health care, jobs — and get sidetracked into personal issues manufactured by political consultants and ideological zealots. But the Bush campaign has made clear it wants this election to focus primarily on character and leadership. If character is the issue, the president's life, past and present, matters just as much as John Kerry's."

See that first sentence? Any candidate who isn't honestly and specifically trying to speak to those issues shouldn't be elected.

Since neither of the major party candidates is doing so....

We should accept no excuses from either group.

If Karl Rove, Republican super hack, is responsible for the fake documents about Bush's service, he should be placed aboard a series of ships and never allowed to set foot in the US again, as happened to the main character in Edward Everett Hale's "The Man Without a Country."

Same for James Carville, Democratic super hack....

Occasionally CNN, Fox, and all the other "news" channels could show footage of him/her/them being transferred to a ship going out of port from a ship coming in...as an object lesson to all political hacks....

I would remind those same lowlife political weasels that Lee Atwater who engineered the same kind of "LCD" political advertisements in the '88 campaign that got Bush the Elder elected died shortly thereafter of a brain tumor.

That might have been a message...or a warning....

JB