Charles M. Blow Has No More F*cks To Give

So he’s laying it right out there, since too many missed it the first four thousand times.

Bill Clinton had a number of cowardly moments, but one that really stuck in my craw was the whole “didn’t inhale” garbage. The first POTUS to admit he was going to let the powerless rot in jail for ages because of a harmless “crime” he had committed himself. That’s a new level of hypocrisy and indifference to the weak.

Not as evil as the original establishment of the “War on Drugs” of course, which I brought up in my second point back here.

I fell short when I forgot that there was a confessed tyrannical agenda behind these irrational “wars.” And I see how it worked. Operating in total ignorance, my parents thought maryjuana was Satan incarnated in a plant.

The Fundamental of Racism

This Michael Eric Dyson essay is essential reading. I remember coming across the LBJ quote when it was recent and thinking “So THAT explains it.” Why in the hell was I not hearing that in my classroom rather than “Mumble, mumble, slavery was wrong and evil but it was a long time ago and if we aren’t having race riots in town here you don’t have to worry about it.” Unfortunate traces of that “lesson” explains why I was so shocked at the blatant bigotry I encountered in Boston: the metropolitans were supposed to be more sophisticated, not more bestial.

Grace for Lady Grace

Retail is tough. Everyone can do their best and still come up short. Several businesses are leaving our closest retail center. Don’t feel the same about all of them (the less said about Panera Bread the better), but there’s a tinge of sadness about Pier 1 and, especially, Lady Grace.

The store display windows were discreet enough you wouldn’t suspect their emphasis on lingerie, but they featured what I consider my Mother’s biggest breakthrough idea: there was a shortage of fashionable clothes for older women. You shouldn’t have to choose between inappropriate youngster-imitation and frumpy. I thought Lady Grace did an especially good job with such outfits and sensed it was a place where Mother would have been glad to work.

But the same tides of taste affected both Pier 1 and Lady Grace. The accessories, decorations, furniture and doo-dads in Pier 1 were ahead of their time in quality and affordability when I first encountered the store. But it’s now an outdated form of funky-but-fun. And likewise, the past couple-three years, Lady Grace has looked more out-of-step than before. Happens often. But like I say, it’s tough.

R.I.P.: Roger D. Abrahams

Listened to, and perceptively reported, what Zora Neal Hurston called “lies above suspicion.”

Right off my shelf are African Folktales (1983) and Afro-American Folktales (1985). And I should read more, esp. since he shows such insight into language nuance. Gonna go for the ground-breaker, Deep Down in the Jungle (1964).

The Most Lunatic Legacy of the Cold War

Why the U.S. Government and the Prez in particular are more important than what they govern.

From Dr. Strangelove onward, little bits of these horribles kept floating around as a nightmare undercurrent to my youth.

On Thermonuclear War, the creepiest book I know, was my most thorough exposure.


PS: Here’s a piece that explains how Kahn was one of the earliest “politically incorrect” tyrants.

What Charlie Said —

I have to quote this sentiment which articulates a tormented feeling I’ve had for ages and ages:

There are a lot of dangers to self-government, and one of those dangers that’s done a lot of damage in my lifetime has been the feeling that the American people are such fragile ornaments that we don’t dare risk telling them the truth of something lest they fall to the floor and shatter to pieces.

From this valuable essay.

I would only add that there’s no question now that it reflects a shift from treating the American people like civilians to regarding them as peasants.

Roman Holiday #3 — Cards

As I’ve indicated before, I collect tarot card decks (waaaay slowed down during the last 10-15 years — but cool decks have become increasingly rare over the same span). I wasn’t sure about the riches in Rome, but even New Age joints basically skip tarot nowadays, so I had modest expectations. As usual, among the things I found out was how little I knew. Cards in general and Tarocco in particular are sold in tobacco shops (no, I was not going to buy a Disney version from their damn store). I did know that the company Modiano dominates but did not realize how completely.

After visiting several shops I also concluded that the era of arty-fancy Tarot is more or less over, even in the country where they first took off. I looked at several decks that had aspirations, but they seemed far cheaper and more perfunctory than many decks I already had. Asking the friendliest tobacco store guy (I noticed the cards were almost always sold by their own person) what I could do to get a truly Italian deck — he uncovered another spot of my ignorance and informed me there was such a thing as Sicilian Tarot:

tarot sicily

with some fascinating variations: The Tower remains intact, there’s a card called “The Unfortunate” that is not quite the Beggar, The Sun includes two people fighting viciously under it and the Hanged Man is, yeah, literally hanged from a tree. (Draw your own conclusions about Sicilian consciousness.) A serious treat — the prime gift to my collection.

Next I got a regular double-deck Modiano set of playing cards — very cleanly printed with sharp detail, a little pencil and scoring pad and a lovely metal box. This is the one I would get out if my Mom’s ghost came for a visit to play Bridge.

[Before I go on, I should note that two of the pervasive 2018 calendars on sale everyfreakingwhere where (a) cutie-pie/studly young priests and (b) cutie-pie/studly guys dressed up as gladiators.]

At the Coliseum gift shop itself I snapped up a 54-cared playing deck done with Coliseo-related themes, including battles with men and beasts and armor and musicians and rituals and architecture and various moments of construction and supply. Small, but exquisite pictures as you would want from an excellent illustrated kids’ book. Not expensive. Includes essential bonus cards that explain what the images are — in five languages. Prime gift to my non-Tarot collection.