Drooling on the Pillow

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Corner Of My Mind Is Lit 

I graduated from college in 1970 with a degree, believe it or not, in Acting. I set out immediately from St. Louis for New York and my destiny -- Stardom.

Didn't really work out, but a lot of other interesting things happened to me. I lived first in a West Village apartment that belonged to an acting teacher from school who was out of town on a job. When he returned he made me an offer of love which was, in a way, innocent and sweet, but which scared the framsis out of me and sent me running into the streets.

Luckily, a number of my classmates had an vast West Side apartment and took me in. There were probably eight or ten people living there at any one time and I made it my home for two or three years. The lease was in the name of a concert pianist and Chicago heiress whose boyfriend ran a head shop in the Village. There was a wonderful woman who worked as chorus girl and linedancer in Las Vegas, South Africa and other exotic locales. Her father was an FBI agent and she had probably more to do than anyone else with how my life turned out when she sent me to Montana to do summer stock one year when I was depressed. She wound up marrying a New York State Senator and living in Westchester.

There were a couple of street hustlers who desired to move up to be contract hustlers and paid me to write their ads for the Village Voice. There was a costume assistant, two composers (one of whom I went through the BMI workshop with as his lyricist) and one political operator. This woman had a legendary rolodex which was the only thing in the apartment under lock and key. Everyone in the apartment knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives, but I believe Mary was the only one who wound up doing it. Must have been the rolodex.

Mary got me a job in the summer of 1970 working for the Democratic candidate for senate. That was the year that James Buckley (brother of William F.) won on the Conservative line, defeating the liberal Republican incumbent Charles Goodall and my boss, Richard Ottinger.

My job was to go down to the campaign headquarters every morning and pick up a sound truck and a handful of volunteers, drive them out to some street corner in Brooklyn, flip on the sound system and make a ten hour speech about how great it would be to have Dick Ottinger as senator while the volunteers handed out leaflets. Then drive back. They paid me a lot to do that, but even though Dick Ottinger was a great guy and all, nobody was all that excited about him, even in Brooklyn, and he lost badly.

I did, however, as a member of the 'campaign staff', get a ticket to a fundraising shindig at Madison Square Garden called 'Broadway for Bella'. Another forgotten episode of that remarkable year was Bella Abzug running for congress against Leonard Farbstein. He, actually was the Democratic incumbent and, once she put him away, the Republican, Barry Farber, was toast, despite speaking more than 25 languages. You'd think that would count for something in New York, but he got run over by the hat.

Broadway came out for Bella and I had fifth row seats. Great show, I think. I know I had a good time and practically everyone was there, but I really only remember twenty minutes of it. Just about ten o'clock, naturally, the lights go down and the voice goes, 'Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Barbra Streisand'.

I want to tell you, I take a backseat to no one in my loathing and contempt for Streisand as a political thinker and operator, but that twenty minutes was a lesson for me in the meaning of talent. There were thousands of people in the house and she rocked, she killed, she absolutely blew the house away and me with it. I remember very little of that year except for a couple of hassles I got into with Buckley operatives in Brooklyn and a few evenings with a young woman who worked as an archivist at the Metropolitan Museum, but I do remember every moment of that twenty minutes. It wasn't so much the voice, which was pretty astonishing; it was the balls on her. The demand of your attention and the comfortable assumption that no one in the world could have anything better to do for twenty minutes than to love her. I watched her and I prayed for her to break off a crumb of it and give it to me.

She didn't. If I had it, I wouldn't either.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Corner of 42nd and Fifth 

This is from James Lileks collection of black and white newspaper photos which he's put together into a little show on his website named Acme.

Acme was the photo agency which originally provided the pictures to Lileks' employer, the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Since the '40's, however, Acme has been acquired and spun off more times than my first wife and, as Mr. Lileks is not altogether sure who has the rights to them, I feel comfortable ripping one off.

This one is dated January 16, 1945.

On the away front, Hitler was moving into his underground bunker on that day, never to emerge.

The US 1st and 3rd army met up at Houffalise.

The Soviets liberated half of Budapest.

On January 16th began the deportations from Lodz to Chelmno. By the end of May, 55,000 people have been gassed, among them 10,000 from Germany .

U-482 was depth charged in the North Channel by sloops HMS Amethyst, HMS Hart, HMS Peacock and HMS Starling and frigate Loch Craggie.

It was a Tuesday.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Happiness - Don't Immanentize the Eschaton 

One of the founders of the firm I work for was a believer in World Government. This firm, today, is defending a company that no longer exists, but used to have a baseball park in Texas named after it.

It's a funny old world.

I know about old Mr. Masthead because I happened to come across a box of books from his personal library when we were moving the office. Among them was one he wrote which described a plan to evolve the United Nations into a true world government.

If you've stopped trembling and your breathing has returned to normal, I'll point out what was most disturbing to me. The old man was manifestly not a fool or an unsophisticated observer of The Way Things Work. He'd been around the block many times and had served the Beast of Capital faithfully over a long and distinguished career.

But a belief in the perfectibility of mankind is a kind of romance, a willful suspension of disbelief and, unfortunately, the wind beneath the wings of disaster. Its a Pandora's Box made of wishful thinking and held together with nothing but coersion. Open it and out flies fatwas and jihads, workers paradises, eugenics, master races and, along with your fair trade coffee, a little auto de fe. It's an illusion which, in theory, is progressive. In action, it's the Whirlwind. Good people are drawn to it, hard people control it.

I suppose if you've spent your life in the sausage factory you might be able to combine your conflicting desires for a nice Italian sandwich and a happy old age for pigs into a System.

Such is the world of Happiness: Lessons From a New Science, by Richard Layard, New York: Penguin Press, 310 pages, $25.95.

Mr. Layard notices that Americans earn twice as much as they did several generations ago, but are not happier. We are using up vastly more of the earth's resources and receiving no increase of joy. Wealth, therefore, is pollution. That's the sandwich. From this he concludes that what we should do is tax the crap out of ourselves to discourage striving and use the proceeds to 'encourage' people to live smaller, quieter lives. That's pig heaven.

I haven't read this colander and am, no doubt, being grossly unfair to Mr. Layard and his thesis. Not that I care. I gather these nuggets from the review/pantsing by Will Wilkinson in Reason Online.

People whose fondest wish is for a Swedenized America of Sitzpinkel and compassionate head tilts are really the nicest of folk. But we have to discipline ourselves to slap them around whenever the opportunity presents itself.

H/T to Jonathan Pearce at Samizdata.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Kid Various at The Idiom dubs the execrable George Galloway 'Lord Douchebag'. And he has the documentation. Click the image on the right for the script to the classic SNL skit.

Lord D believes the publishing of the Danish cartoons was an act far more infamous than 9/11 or the London bombings.

In other douchebag news, according to Jay Nordlinger over at NRO,
A friend of mine called me the other day and
announced that James Woods — the actor —
was his new hero. Why? Because Woods had
declared he was sick of making "douchebag
feminist movies" in which he played "a bad guy
in a nice suit."

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Apparently Not A Simpsons Episode 

I've mentioned before that I was an actor for twenty-five years or so and I've been something else for about fifteen. I do miss it, but mostly just because it's the only thing I ever did that I was any good at. I make a lot more money now, but I hated what I'm doing from the very first day I walked through the door. I take a lot of satisfaction from the fact that I really don't hate it much more after fifteen years than I did at the beginning. That's something.

I have to admit it's difficult for me to enjoy the theatre anymore. Either it blows and I know very well I could do it better, or, far worse, it's better than I could ever do and I know it. Puts the ooze in loser.

The wife, though, is still beating her head against the wall, but at least she works. Every once in awhile she gets a breakdown that puts a little hop in my step. Got one today for a production of Hamlet in Los Angeles. Of course, just the idea of an Angelino Hamlet is kind of wonderfully grotesque, but just look how they're casting it:

woman, multiple personality, struggles with death of father

25 - 30 male, acts out the need for avenging death of Hamlet's father

age open, woman, vocalizes this side of Hamlet's personality

Sympathetic older woman, maternal, vocalizes this side of Hamlet's personality

13 - 16 male, vocalizes this side of Hamlet's personality

Claudius is a doctor in a mental ward and a (hello) sexual predator. Gertrude is a nympho inmate. Horatio a kind of Patch Adams good doctor. And there's a chorus of a dozen women.

Oh, mama. Definitely opt for the habanero enema rather than go anywhere near this one.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

I'm Not Hungry, I'll Just Pick 

2Blowhards takes a walk on the culinary wild side by pointing out this article in the London Telegraph about Guo-li-zhuang, a new restaurant in Beijing which specializes in penises.

You heard me.

Every dish is made from the South Ricardo of some species. Yaks, donkeys, oxen, goats and even seals. The only exceptions are those dishes made from testicles. Well, I guess those are to clean the palate.

Above, left are the house organs of a horse and a snake. To the right is the paternoster of a dog, garnished with a plumb.

The author of the article pronounced the Russian dog thingy (julienned) 'rather gamey.'

In case you're wondering, the 'zhuang' in the restaurant's name is the nickname of the owners son.
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