The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick
"During the First World War, he expected an invasion by Germans,
and suggested that massive fortifications should be built at
Albany, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Vicksburg and Houston."
GREAT REVIEWERS OF THE PAST
H. L. Mencken on Public Education
"The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all;
it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible
to the same safe level, to breed and train
a standardized citizenry, to down dissent and originality."
"If we didn't know better,
we would suspect the author of being a male chauvinist pig,
but his words about Mexican men suggests that his chauvinism
bears no sexual restrictions whatsoever..."
Los Angeles Lost & Found, Glass Paperweights
Rube Goldberg, and Warren Beatty
More Brief Reviews
Hollywood, ALS, Gertrude Stein,
and Mary Todd Lincoln, Mad
Not Rabies, Baby,
But Baby Scabies --- Pt. I
"Scabies is a noxious little bug that burrows under the skin...
moves in, bag and baggage, bringing along all of its progeny.
The only way we know that we are playing host
to the original man-who-came-to-dinner
is that the skin erupts in ways that drive one totally up the wall."
Not Rabies, Baby,
But Baby Scabies --- Pt. II
"To them, the thought that I would be having a love affair,
exchanging bugs with my honey, is simply beyond their ken.
Geezers like me --- especially disabled geezers ---
just don't have sex."
Home From Nowhere
"Deep down, many Americans are dissatisfied with suburbia ---
though they have trouble understanding what's missing ---
which explains their nostalgia for the earlier model.
Their dissatisfaction is literally a dis-ease."
TWO BY JEROME K. JEROME
Pictures Speaking of Love
"Greed is easy to explain, easy to trace, I think.
But fear --- fear is more complex.
And love: why it's the most complex of them all."
God Must Be Female
"Ginny was afraid of nothing. She was young and old.
Her brown arms and Iegs swinging in wild optimism,
beautiful in all their parts. She danced on the long hood
of her crimson Cadillac, and watching her,
I thought that God must be female."
Five from The Space Between Our Footsteps
"I hear a nine-month-old/has also lost an eye,
I wonder if my soldier/shot her too --- a soldier
looking for little girls who/look him in the eye ---
I'm old enough, almost four,/I've seen enough of life,
but she's just a baby/who didn't know any better."
"I asked the good Dr. Feelgood/ If he could make two of me,
One with all the pain/ (Knees grinding like stones,
Heart full of tremors, eyes/ Watering endlessly, failing peter,
Liver turned to hard black bread)."
Song of Welcome
"Here's your paycheck, here's your rent.
Money is nature's fifth element.
Welcome to every cent."
Re: Lip Service
"I have a pretty tough skin so I don't care when someone doesn't like Lip Service,
but it really pisses me off when someone reviews it without reading it."
More New Listings
How To Think Like A Millionaire,
From the Heart: The Power of Photography,
and The Hindu Way of Awakening
American Radio, 1946
"When you first turned the Philco on, the glassine separators inside the 6SJ7's would burn blue for a moment, then settle down to reflect the deep russet pouring out of the filaments."
H. L. Mencken on Christian Faith
"How is it possible for a human brain to be divided into two insulated halves, one functioning normally, naturally, and, at times, brilliantly, and the other capable of the ghastly balderdash which issues from the minds of Baptist evangelists?"
Breaking the Impasse in the War on Drugs
"The War on Drugs inevitably is a losing and destructive policy; it reflects a set of unconscious, prejudicial attitudes... Breaking the impasse requires a new paradigm of individual responsibility for drug control."
Free Government Money, Tibetan Buddhism,
James Purdy, and Dreams
More Brief Reviews
Working Class Lovers, Agent Orange,
Nuclear War, and Guilt
Swallowing the Rototiller
"It was there that I first took an interest in cooking. I started with chicken noodle soup done in the can, a pair of pliers as a handle. Later I experimented with adding chopped wieners. "
Whigs 'N' Prigs
Boswell: "It may be of use, Sir, to have a Dictionary to ascertain the pronunciation."
Johnson: "Why, Sir, my Dictionary shows you the accent of words, if you can but remember them."
Boswell: "But, Sir, we want marks to ascertain the pronunciation of the vowels. Sheridan, I believe, has finished such a work."
Predialectic Libertarianism and Nihilism
"In the works of Madonna, a predominant concept is the distinction between creation and destruction. Therefore, the feminine/masculine distinction depicted in Sex is also evident in Sex."
"Some credit is due to the motorists of those days. It was rarely that one reached one's destination. As a matter of fact, only the incurable optimist ever tried to."
Anorexia Case #1: Pia
"We now come to a clinical example that illustrates our method of intervening in the most rigid possible type of family organization: a family with an adolescent anorectic member."
Thoreau the Buddhist
"One might say that Thoreau was pre-Buddhist... He forecast an American Buddhism by the nature of his contemplation, in the same way that a certain quality of transparent predawn forecasts a clear morning. "
Three from Actualities
"when my love comes to see me it's
just a little like music, a
little more like curving colour (say
against silence, or darkness . . . .
the coming of my love emits
a wonderful smell in my mind"
Four from Actualities
"if i should sleep with a lady called death
the phonograph's voice like a keen spider skipping
a blue woman with sticking out breasts hanging clothes
when you went away it was morning (that is, big horses)"
"Oh, silver rivers of the soul!
In a whirling cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play."
"The suggestion that a person would purposefully bring his or her self to the brink of death just for the attention is demeaning and disrespectful. Very rarely does one engage in self-destructive behavior for the sole purpose of punishing or manipulating family members."
American Radio, 1946
"That Philco dropped the walls for me.
From my rather desultory world,
I was given access to another:
lively, funny, and with no limits of space, nor of time."
H. L. Mencken on Christian Faith
"How is it possible for a human brain to be divided
into two insulated halves, one functioning normally, naturally,
and, at times, brilliantly, and the other
capable of the ghastly balderdash
which issues from the minds of Baptist evangelists?"
"We should keep the paradox of Narcissism in mind
for gays are forced by themselves to accept the choice of
loving the self, all the while not knowing it is the self."
Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie
"Red Dirt is about poor rural whites,
and why they feel the way they do
about gun laws, and abortion, and school prayer."
WWI's aftermath in Germany, Thomas Merton, The Ugly Side
Of Dr. Seuss --- and an undiscovered play by Samuel Beckett
More Brief Reviews
Bird Watching, Conrad Hilton, Discovering Happiness,
Intercity Busses, City of Joy, and William James
The Worst Journey in the World
"Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way
of having a bad time which has been devised.
It is the only form of adventure in which you put on your clothes
at Michaelmas and keep them on until Christmas."
Fighting With Rotifers,
or A Journey to Sciatica
"I always travel the Internet by means of LYNX.
This is a vintage, pre-windows vehicle
which you start with a hand-crank, and drive,
with keyboard rather than mouse,
while wearing goggles, a linen cap, and a silk cravat."
"The formaldehyde in which he has been soaked
has macerated his skin, giving him an ageless look.
The cartilage of his nose has dissolved in the pickling juices,
making him look as though he has gone
one round too many with Archie Moore."
On Foot, Near the South Pole, in Mid-Winter
"Thus impiously I set out to die, making up my mind
that I was not going to try and keep warm, that it might not take too long,
and thinking I would try and get some morphia from the medical case
if it got very bad."
Through The Anakil Desert (1928)
"The Sultan then asked about those iron birds which flew with people inside them,
and wanted to know how many soldiers one of them could carry.
Further, he asked, was it true that I was putting
all of the country on a piece of paper?
I replied that all the world was inside a few books."
Anorexia Case #2: Lisa
"A good girl needing help
is a godsend to any expensive private school...
and the schoolmistress, turning her into a case,
had isolated her and had deprived her
of the support and sympathy of her classmates."
The Box Fan
"My stepfather was drinking Jack Daniels
From a TV tray pressed with the faces
Of our dead and live presidents.
The trouble with you,
He said, is that you don't respect the law."
"Fleas interest me so much
that I let them bite me for hours.
They are perfect, ancient, Sanskrit,
machines that admit of no appeal."
"This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die..."
"It is rather unkind, don't you think, to ridicule
what works for one, if you don't have more of the pieces
than I think you had as you did this review?"
The Starr Report
"This novel is so wet and overloaded that we found ourselves
gasping for air, and would advise readers seeking tales of
love and laughter inside the Beltway
to look elsewhere."
The Fortune Sellers
"Of the sixteen types of forecast, only two ---
one-day-ahead weather forecasts and the aging of the population ---
can be counted on: the rest are about as reliable
as the fifty-fifty odds in flipping a coin."
H. L. Mencken
21 Recettes Pratiques de Mort Violente
"In the United States there are fashions in suicide,
as there are in hats, drinks and religions."
Never To Return
"Sharon Janis...began talking practially hot from the womb,
did a course in hypnotherapy at age seven...
Her IQ was off the chart --- then she decided
to throw it all up and run off and become a student
of Muktnanada, in upstate New York."
New Widows, Machos, Augustus Saint-Gaudens,
Nebuchadnezzar, and Carl Jung revealed
The Uses of Rubber Bands,
Or "Var Är Min Paraply"
"It went on like that for hundreds of years,
until finally King Karl the Potato
founded the University of Lund
in what is now Southern Sweden,
and they replaced the wars with faculty meetings."
I Am That
Questioner: What if somebody offers to build you a beautiful Ashram?
Maharaj: Let him, by all means. Let him spend a fortune,
employ hundreds, feed thousands....
Questioner: But do you want it?
Maharaj: I do not want it.
The Worst Journey in the World: Part II
Custodian: Who are you? What do you want?
This ain't an egg-shop. What call have you to come meddling with our eggs?
Do you want me to put the police on to you? Is it the crocodile's egg you're after?
I don't know nothing about no eggs. You'd best speak to Mr. Brown;
it's him that varnishes the eggs.
Confessions of a Former (I Hope) Super Crip
"So there I was when the Soviet agent asked me to procure a top secret document,
and there I was when the CIA asked me to go to the Congo.
The Soviets will never suspect
that we have an agent in a wheelchair out in the black."
"Last winter I went down to my native town,
where I found the streets much narrower and shorter
than I thought I had left them, inhabited by a
new race of people, to whom I was very little known."
"But I could have had reasons other than curiosity.
I looked back from regret for a silver bowl.
From distraction while fastening the latchet of my sandal."
Hitler's First Photograph
"And who's this little fellow in his itty-bitty robe?
That's tiny baby Adolf, the Hittler's little boy!
Will he grow up to be an LL.D.?
Or a tenor in Vienna's Opera House?"
"There is no other alternative to being duped in this world or the next.
In fact, being duped continually
is the very essence of this world and of all other worlds.
Samsara can be nothing other than Nirvana."
Discovering the Secrets of the Red Planet
"Mars would go forward across the sky every night,
and then stop, and then back up some,
and then stop again, and then move forward again.
That's the way a crazy planet and a good soldier do."
The Elements of Crime
"It has been pretty well established that criminals,
taking one with another, are not inferior at all,
but rather above the general average,
and that in most prisons they are clearly
better men than their keepers."
Photographs of a Lifetime
"You force yourself onto strange streets, among strangers.
It may be very hot. It may be painfully cold.
It may be sandy and windy and you say, "What am I doing here?
What drives me to do this hard thing?"
Peter Coyote, The 60's, New Mexico, Atomic Bombs;
Annie Dillard, Jane Goodall, Alice Walker on Women's Travel
Letter from Uppland
"Well, they are all very polite, these Swedes,
and I think they are kindly, sympathetic to the
mentally challenged. They are aware that we
monolingual Americans belong in that category."
Malraux, Nehru, Gandhi, and Elephants
"Japan has many reasons to be sad,
and elephants are almost unknown there, I don't know why.
So in order to revive the smiles of yesterday, I wanted
to take an elephant with me. But I was prevented from doing so."
Violet Pearls at the Hippodrome
"I would see a fluorescent chalk and blinking landscapes streaked with showers;
it always rained, even when the sun shone brightly, even in apartments.
At times, an asteroid in flames would shoot across
the drawing room of a baroness without her seeming to be surprised.
I liked that rain, that restless anxiety which played on the wall."
Head of a White Woman Winking
"She has one good bumblebee
which she leads about town
on a leash of clover.
It's as big as a Saint Bernard
but also extremely fragile."
Me viene, hay dias
"There comes over me some days an urge, abundant, political,
an impulse to kiss passion itself on both cheeks,
and from somewhere deep down that urge overwhelms me
to stroke, flagrantly, with consent or by force,
whoever detests me..."
"Your reviewer Lolita Lark is a cruel
stupid, insensitive bitch."
Westward Ha! Eastward Ha!
"The whole business began sixteen years ago,
as so many complex ventures, with an unfavorable
astrological conjunction --- Virgo being in the house of Alcohol."
Journeys into Microspace
"There's the wheatfield that turns into the lining of an artery,
a bowl-full of breakfast cereal that is, in reality, a goldenrod leaf,
and a big stack of automobile tires that is a spill of coccoliths."
H. L. Mencken on "The Greeks"
"The plain facts are that Greek science,
even at its best, would be hard to distinguish
from the science prevailing among Hottentots, Haitians
and Mississippi Baptists today..."
Where Salmon Come To Die
"Classified as Natural History,
the book could just as well be called
a coming-of-age story."
Lady Chatterley's Lover
"The book has some generally useful descriptions of wildlife,
botany, and hunting practices at a typical Edwardian English estate,
but the noisome activities of a certain gamekeeper and
the lady of the house keep getting in the way
of these otherwise excellent passages."
Eastern Metaphysics, T'ai Chi, Ebola,
Body and Mind, Mexico, and very bad poetry
The Jewel is in the Forehead of the Toad
"We send him the original Letter Home ---
writings from the Sargasso Sea of the Soul,
the Hebrides of the Heart,
the Celebes of the psyche."
Letter from Uppland #2
"The Swedes have also dropped the ball
on another, characteristic American-style project:
the endless construction/deconstruction of sports stadia."
Boy Meets Gull
"Hirschfeld, with the stolidity of the true peasant,
outdid himself in gluttony.
Bread by the bushel basket, whole beeves, firkins of butter,
and hogsheads of jam vanished down his maw"
Secret Government Report
"In short, the proposed operation
will bring necessary government funds
into the city, erase persistent hard-core unemployment,
give a whole community new self-respect"
"Well we battened down the hatches
And sure enough they came millions of them
Moving in off the freeway
Eating doorknobs and drinking fuel
Wanting only to be loved..."
Let Us Then You and I Go Now
(And Return to The Vale of Tears)
"I finally figured out this dying stuff
And thought I'd better tell you before it's too late.
The way it happens is this: we are allowed
To vacate the premises at our leisure..."
On Anorexia and On Old Age
"It's because of people like you
that sufferers are sometimes ashamed
to tell their stories..."
"Over the past few months ---
since turning seventy ---
I've been having this strange dream..."
The Yale Younger Poets Anthology
"George Bradley...is a perfect fit into the teeny keyhole
that we know of as the East Coast Poetry Establishment,
the perfect snob to edit an anthology that spans
the seventy-five or so years of the Yale Younger Poets series."
"The essence of the Yoga revelation is that an adept,
by the double device of thinking profoundly and breathing
deeply, can throw off the trammels of the body and become
a sort of gaseous angel, purged of sin and
as happy as the boy who killed his father."
An Abundant Life
"Although he counselled thousands of young Mormon servicemen
during the two world wars, there is no record of his suggesting
that his charges even think for a moment of honoring
Luke 6:27, Matthew 5:39, or Exodus 20:13."
The Illness Narratives
"People suffering from long-term pain
are a genuine pain to physicians because
they mock what American Medicine is all about,
namely, solving a medical problem."
Cooking Bear, Sailing Across the Pacific,
Murders in Utah, Bumming Around America,
and a Review of Roget's International Thesaurus
"The entire ward, eighteen men in various contortions, surrounded
the blind, softly crying young man and began to touch him, tentatively,
gently, wherever we could, feet, hands, legs, arms, shoulders,
delicately massaging the torn face through the bandages."
Letter from Uppland #3
"Spansk Bondomelett is probably Spanish omelette with Bondo.
And Pelotas en Salsa Roja is without a doubt baseballs
in red sauce, although I am at a loss to explain
what it is doing on a Swedish menu."
"Something tells me that extraordinary measures are necessary
to reach this woman. And so, I take the hand of Cheryl, a warm
and caring LPN, hold it high overhead, and lead the way into the room
doing a Greek folk dance, the Yerakine, singing aloud in Greek..."
Nightlife in Shanghai
"Shanhaikwan, it is interesting to note,
has the smallest fleas in China;
they are much prized by collectors,
but I was fortunate enough to secure
three or four fine specimens."
Frying The Flag
"Minister Fined for Kissing in Pubic.
Wedding Bulls Ring out for Princess.
Queen of Holland Gives Panty for Ex-Service Men.
More Dogs Have Babies This Summer in Belgrade."
What lips my lips have kissed
"What lips my lips have kissed,
and where, and why,
I have forgotten,
and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning..."
The Somnambulistic Ballad
"Green green I want you green:
Green the wind, green the branches.
The ship upon the sea
and the horse in the mountain."
"I'll marry the bent mirror in the back
where I pin up my marmalade hair
and stare at lips as red as cocktail sauce
the round everpresent planet of mouth
and fragile freckled arms who miss the man who slipped away."
On Sin & Sinders
"You give into the Devil and
youre going to wake up one day in hell
the fires burneing you to sinders
burneing and it never going to stop."
§ § §
"Senator Helms has asked me
to contact you relative to
your request for tobacco growing funds."
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