Sunday, August 26, 2007

An Open Apology to George W. Bush

I stopped by Barnes and Noble yesterday and thumbed(all thumbs) through The Reagan Diaries. There is no such entry as the one cited in my last report, in which Ronnie was alleged to be anticipating a meeting with George H.W.'s son, the doofus, a word he does not use but might have if he was actually confronted with him, Ronnie being a man of the people and a former president of the Screen Actors Guild, when the screen was filled with a number of Doofi.
So I apologize for attributing as fact something that was obviously just an Internetnik's attempt at wit. Just because it wasn't true, though, doesn't make it false. Still, as W has never admitted he had made a mistake about anything, I think it correct to one-up him on graciousness. Reagan never said that, but that doesn't mean he didn't think it, or that it wasn't accurate.
Further to W- we congratulate him on the engagement of Jenna to a Rove trainee.
It put me in mind of the night many of us gathered on the windswept hill outside San Quentin protesting the coming execution of Caryl Chessman, a robber and rapist who had had a visible change of heart and mind, educated himself and written, quite well too, while on Death Row, becoming the poster child of those who opposed the death penalty. I was a graduate student at Stanford then, and went with Ken Kesey, a buddy, along with "hundreds of students" the radio said, though maybe there were forty of us, who ached through the chilled vigil that night. There were sandwich trucks, and Marlon Brando arrived around four in the morning, and he and his lawyer announced around 7 AM that in the event they were unable to save Chessman, he had agreed to let Marlon play him in a movie about his life... and death, it turned out at 8: 01 AM. Though Marlon never made the movie, and Chessman was very dead, a number of those on the hill that night connected and became lovers, in what seems somehow a livelier(execution notwithstanding) manner than what was to come: Match. com.
In the same way, all who have fallen, or come back on stumps, have not done so in vain. Mr. Bush's war has given this couple the time to discover each other. God Bless America, a nation of lovers.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Comedy of Terrors

So to begin with, while still in LA, there was the saga of my apartment key. Twice in one day I was locked out, once because I forgot my key-- the young, rock-climbing-in-the-gym neighbor scaled my terrace wall and let me in, later in the day the Time-Warner man came and as I stepped out into the hall to welcome him, my door blew shut. "Do you know how to break into an apartment?" I asked. "I'm from South Central," quoth he. So I got in.
Where was your extra key? you may ask, and rightly. I had had many made but none of them worked. My knowledgeable friend Pam Korman who knows where to find everything sent me at last to a locksmith who knew what he was doing, so finally I had many extra keys, one of which I attempted to put in those magnetic boxes you attach to something you can get into, only to discover I couldn't open the box. At last, everything seemingly in order, I set off for New York, via the fabled Jet Blue. We were diverted to Buffalo.
Mimi was the only one allowed off the plane, as she had been under the seat for nine hours by then, imagining she was on her way to Paris, where sadly she will not be going because in spite of losing the requisite weight she has acquired a tendency to bark when left alone in a hotel room, so it will not do to try and sneak her into the Cipriani. She will stay instead in New York with her other mother, Carleen, who is kinder and gentler anyway. In Buffalo, where we were kept for many hours till Jet Blue could complete its paperwork, Mimi found a post that could accommodate her needs, which was a better chance than many of the passengers had. When we finally were allowed to make our way into JFK, it was almost four in the morning, and the terminal floor was strewn with sleeping passengers whose flights had been postponed until the next day. At the luggage carousel, as we waited, hoping, an announcement came over the loudspeaker that all passengers from cancelled flights would not be receiving their luggage until the next day, so they should all go home and get some sleep and come back the next morning. At that point the offices of Jet Blue were stormed by a hundred furious passengers, so the poor man in charge, who wasn't really, had no choice but to release the luggage even though all the handlers had long before gone home.
I got a car into New York with two young men(24 and 25,)former roommates from Cornell so they could not have been morons who work at Goldman Sachs and another equity firm-- their flight had been cancelled after they'd waited since 6 AM. I said I was sorry about what the market was doing to innocent people, but that it would be appropriate if in addition to destroying everything the country stood for Bush also left office having torpedoed the economy, and one of them said "Yeah, it would be a tough way to go out."
"Do I detect a note of compassion in what you're saying?" quoth I.
"Well, uh, I guess," he said.
"Don't you care about what he's done?"
"Well, uh, I don't really pay that much attention."
"What about Iraq?" I said.
"Well, I don't really relate," he said. "Neither my father or my mother was ever in the service."
"And how about the fact that we are loathed worldwide. Don't you read the papers?"
"Not really," they said. I mean both of them. The second said: "We focus on our work and the rest of the time we communicate on the Internet, mostly with our friends on Facebook."
So the next day I saw Facebook on the cover of Newsweek and called my broker to buy some(Hey, if we're going to go down in flames we might as well have a smart asbestos suit,and my last broker had ignored my call to buy Google before the original offering) But he said it is not for sale yet. Apparently it was thought up by some kids at Harvard who couldn't work computers so they asked their friend the Geek to set it up for them and he stole it. What a world. Insensate graduates at Cornell and thieves at Harvard.
To travel back to a time when Ivy League and Seven Sisters stood for something, I was wined and dined by my friend Evie Rich the next evening, along with some other classmates from Bryn Mawr, and they were all still smart and touchingly concerned with the world we sort of live in. Evie was the first black(they were still called then) admitted to Bryn Mawr, which happened because her mother worked for a Main Line lady(they were still called then) who went into the kitchen and found young high-schooler Evie reading Catallus in the original Latin, so, astounded, sent her to Bryn Mawr for an interview and she got in. When Evie arrived the first day of college, they sent her to the maid's quarters. In spite of that, she was not then and is not now bitter, but only a fighter, and brilliant, and she says Obama can't win because this country isn't ready to elect a black man. Like me, she likes Edwards, and says if she could organize all the seniors they could get him in, but I suggested she not call them seniors as none of us likes being called that, so we arrived at Boomers and Beyond.
How did this happen? Nobody ever told us there was this thing called aging. Oh, maybe Shakepeare, but he was such a Drama Queen. All we ever knew to fear was death and failure, not necessarily in that order. I spent the first Monday of my sojourn here in the dentist's chair, under gas, and even under gas still had an inspiration. As the dentist grafted in a piece of bone(Dear God, was it Your purpose to degrade us for staying longer than You originally intended except for maybe Methuselah?) I asked him where the bone came from, and he said "a cadaver." Ugh. But still, as I was gassing, curiosity and still functioning intellect overwhelmed repulsion and I queried where he got the cadaver, and he said the University of Miami tissue lab.
So here's it is: 'A HALLOWEEN CAROL." A mild mannered middle-aged(to be generous) man gets this bone graft and every Halloween turns into a drug lord. Robert di Niro can play Alistair Sim, for those of you seasoned enough to remember Alistair Sim.
Oh, God,if you're really out there, how did this happen? To think how afraid we were that we would never find love, or have children, and now understand fully how fallow were those terrors. Of course the upside is/was that we were here when this was still the greatest country in the world, admired by almost everyone in those countries we could still afford to visit. When our turning to torture was unthinkable, not having to ferret out plots against us because even those who were jealous had to admit there was much to admire. Where did it go? Though we do understand by whose hand.
The following from Reagan's Diaries, sent me by my friend Hal:

'A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne're-do-well son
around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the
political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all
the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and
has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New
Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or
something. That looks like easy work.'

From the just published REAGAN DIARIES. The entry is dated May 17, 1986.


Friday, August 10, 2007

A Tale of Two Pats

There are some great women in my life, many of whom you are. One of the outstanding is Pat McPherson, who was president of Bryn Mawr when I went back there in my second teen-hood, whose wisdom I have long followed, especially apt since she is now seated in the elevated stands of the American Philosophical Society. Twas she who told me there would never be another Happy but I should have a creature, and so influenced am I by her I stopped in after that Fateful-in-a-Good-Way lunch to the pet store next to the restaurant, and found Mimi. At our last lunch she told me Edwards was a "lightweight," so I considered not wanting him for the candidate.
Then there is the second Pat, one of the smartest women I have known even though she has spent most of her adult life in Southern California which turns out to be a particular blessing for me as we lunch frequently and it keeps my mind going. At our lunch yesterday she said Edwards was a "lightweight," so having heard the same word twice from two different Pats, each one of them singular but of a special breed, I teetered on the brink of stopping loving him completely, though along with all bright women I would have liked the chance to elect Elizabeth..
But having made that teetering almost decision, I went to the gathering for him yesterday, a ludicrously organized or rather disorganized event at a place on La Cienaga called 'Republic' where all cattle-called while waiting too long and having parked too far away(I hadn't listened to the warnings of no available space so found a spot a block away) while I and the politically enlightened Bill Boyarsky enjoyed a shadowy bar next door to the cow pen till the "organizers" got their act together and let us in.
Meanwhile, across the way at Area, where the Lindsay Lohan S-I-Ts(Sluts in Training) usually gather in too short skirts and silver sequins there was a dinner for Barack. Some blocks away was Hillary at a gay bar, all these Dems being in town for an interview by LOGO or LOCO the gay TV satellite station.
We heard Edwards on a speaker and then he showed up. Much as I love both Pats, they're wrong. He is, as I felt about from the last go round when he was dragged down by Kerry, the most honest of all of them, his positions on health care and the insurance and drug companies drafting the bills so there is no chance for the people, as well as his stand on lobbyists, which is FIRM, are clean and clear, his energy is terrific, and he is smart enough so that if he did get it and get in, he would choose the right people for his cabinet and advisers so he could catch up to Hillary on the international problems in which he seems weaker than she, although Bill thinks she would keep us in Iraq forever. (By the way, I was told by a pleasant Dem that Hillary has gotten more money from the drug companies than anyone except Rick Santorum.)
So he's my candidate, and I hope people will listen to him and he can make it through to a photo finish with Elizabeth okay at his side. At the end of his speech Bill gave him a fist-up, which meant he was moved and it was kind of his high-five into the smoggy air of LA where he thinks bicyclists should train for the Olympics in China where they won't be able to breathe.
Meanwhile, cleaning up my computer in preparation for my trip(NY-France-Suisse, Italie) I found the following old Report from April, 2006, which seems just as apt but even sadder now.

It has occured to me that what's wrong with this war, besides that it never should have happened, is that there are no songs. The Civil War had 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic,',' WorldWar I had 'Over There!' and WorldWar II had 'Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition', the last being the early work of the great Frank Loesser, who went on to give us 'Guys and Dolls.' A fine tunesmith, as those guys used to be known. I began to wonder what Frank could cook up, with his endless versatility, for this epic error. 'Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition into the head of Pat Tillman'? 'There'll be Blue Birds Over the Un-Armored Land Rover'? 'I'll be Home for Ramadan? I mean, what's a songwriter to do? Even George M. Cohan, our Yankee Doodle Dandy, would be hard-pressed to come up with a ditty for this one.

But perhaps it's the Chicken and the Egg. Perhaps if we had a really good song it would all get better. Even seem okay. Put your mind to it, all. Let me know if you come up with any ideas. I used to be a songwriter myself, when the world was young, which was one of the better bar-room ballads, when singers were singers, and presidents were presidents.

SOOOOOOOOOOOO, that's all the news that's fit to grouse about, at least right now, from yesterday and April 4,2006. Le plus things change, the plus they stay the same. Helas.
Love and xx