October Reading List And Missing Eyewear Nose Bridge

october 2019 reading list

Superfluous post indeed, dear worst-reader. Begs only the question: what to do, what to do, what to do… in this consume-to-survive world of nothingness galore? Then again, at least I can still read. You know, read, as in, read something to expand the/my mind. It is, must be, a requirement in these days of Marvel movie trauma, don’t you know–although I do dig that scene in Avengers Endgame where Captain Marvel finally appears and has a quick pow-wow with Peter Parker as an apocalypse rages around them.

Scene: Captain Marvel destroys huge alien ship that is reeking ballistic havoc on the Endgame battle field. As the ship crashes to the ground Captain Marvel lands with a thud in front of a distraught Peter Parker as he’s struggling to protect the infinity stones. Captain Marvel is standing above Parker, who is in a ditch cradling the infinity stone glove like a baby.

Peter: Hi. (Odd, quick pause.) I’m… (Another odd quick pause.) Peter. Parker.

Captain Marvel: (Cute grin on her face as she sports a new hair style contrasting previous appearances.) Hey. Peter Parker. You got something for me?

The cadence and tone of Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is mesmerising–to me. At that moment in the film I wish Captain Marvel was two scoops of gelato, chocolate and pistachio, atop a butter crusted cone. But enough about worst-moi.

You know the thing that really gets me about my October reading list to help me get over Brie Larson? Check out the cover of Snowden’s book. What the heck is going on with his glasses? Who the hell wears glasses with a nose pad missing on one side of the bridge? What? Can’t see it? Well, I see it. And it’s driving me crazy.

Rant (and read) on.

-T

The First Soap Opera

hamilton cover

Title #2: maybe the founding fathers weren’t so special after all

As the initial reports of the Broadway Musical Hamilton began to appear on my computer screen a few years back, I found my worst-self getting confused about whether to like it or hate it. Was it the shows immediate success that drove me to such inner spite-drama? The play was an immediate smash hit as it was catapulted from a mediocre off-broadway production to a major broadway production within an unusually short period of time, according to its wiki page. Or was it the casting, the dramaturgy, the writing, the stage production, the drag-queen blowjobs between acts, etc., that confused me? And then that whole rap-musical thing? A rap-musical about the founding fathers–all of whom are played by non-white actors? So does that mean George Washington is in black face now? Go figure.

Actually, in all worst-seriousness, that’s kind of a great idear. At least, Chernow seems to be quite thorough in reminding the reader (or in my case worst-reader) about a few of the sins of the founding fathers, namely the human servitude $hit$how that built the great greed $hit$how. But that was then and this is already yesterday. For, as you may (or may not) know, dear worst-reader, Hamilton the musical, by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is a bit of stretch from the book it’s based on. Am I wrong?

While I’m on the subject of the play, I tried to get tickets last year to see it on a trip to my beloved & missed united mistakes, thereby re-routing my flight through NYC. Lo and behold, I got a taste of what broadway success in this new era of greed-galore is all about. The cheapest tickets I could find were priced waaaaaay out of my league, which subsequently put the show on my shit-list. I mean, why oh why, dear worst-reader, when a broadway show is so popular and so successful, they haven’t made a movie out of it so the rest of us can get a peek? Elitism galore anyone? I’m so turned off by this level of pricing for a friggin play that I could dance around Marie Antoinette’s detached head or even wear the blood stained basket that head fell in while singing in the rain. Indeed. Let them (or the rest of us) eat brioche, ain’t that right dear worst-reader! But enough silliness aside. This play is just another reason to hate the hob-snob of broadway theatre–which at one point in this worst-life I loved so much.

Oh wait. I’m off subject. Enough about being worst-writer.

Although it took a decade or three for me to come around to this unique if not (what I consider) odd form of theatre, that I always thought was a bit cheesy, I’m now kind of a musical fan. At least I really dug Mama Mia. Still, there have been a few shows I’ve put on a pseudo to-do list. It is a list that varies based on mood, amount of drink (the night before) and, of course, cost. With that in mind, will I ever go out of my financial way to see any of the shows on that list? Probably not. Reason? Hamilton is based on a book. If it’s based on a book, why do I have to bother with the hob-snob of elitist über expensive theatre? And get this: A few weeks ago, out of the blue, the Apple bookstore offered Hamilton by Chernow for something like seven and half bucks. So I snatched it up and immediately moved it up my to-read list. Oh wait. Hold a sec. It’s not just any book, though. No. It’s a really, really thick book. Like. Seriously thick. Even in digital form. Wow. Almost a thousand friggin pages? Oh my.

It took me about four weeks to get through it. I scheduled regular reading sessions either in the morning or during my afternoon nap where I would turn digital page after page, sometimes pushing myself through a whole chapter in one session. Then were/are (my) morning constitutional reads, too. But don’t be afeared dear worst-reader. It shouldn’t disparage you that I have books above and around my Euro toilet1. Reading is good. Right? Nomatter where you read. Or? I mean, I haven’t watched TV in over a decade. And I regularly dust off the books in my fancy book shelf, too. Sometimes I even contemplate sorting all my books. But that’s a whole ‘nother worst-post. Anywho.

The plan to get through this thick (digital) book was to hammer away at least four or five pages two or three times a day–depending on the previous evening of drink, ambient temperature, the mood of Beckett our killer-pug and, of course, my better half’s desires for a fulfilled life. That may not sound like much dedication (or is it commitment?) to getting through a book, and there were a few moments here or there where I wasn’t able to pick up the book for a few days at all. Nomatter. The important thing is, I was determined to get through it because, well, fcuk theatre elitism that is über dramatisation, drag-queen antics and the stench of broadway that can only give rise to the likes of President pee-pee-hair. Am I off subject yet again? Oh yea. But before I forget. From what I can tell from wiki, liberties have been taken by the play creator. So let’s get back to the book.

The only other question I had about committing myself to such a large book about a history that I am well versed in wasn’t if/when I’d finish it. No. The important question was, how long would it take? Would this be yet another history book that is too winded? Would I give up on it because of its length? And most important: how much of it would I retain? Then again–and get this dear worst-reader: the month of May (2019) turned out to be one of them rare months were I was reading three major books at a time. And let’s also not forget all the worst-writing that need be done. Then there’s the daily deluge of reading Das Capital–in fcuking German! Oh, and what about the dog sitting, the dishwashing, the cooking and the frequent tickler sessions with my better-half. May (the month) also included various visitors, two trips (one to Paris!) and a long two day house cleaning session that I promised my better half in exchange for sexy-time. Indeed. A thousand pages of meticulously researched and well versed history ain’t nothing for a redneck battling inner ugly prejudices–to shake a stick at. And so. This past weekend (while on that trip to Paris) I finished it–pictures n’all! And so…

Worst-writer’s pseudo-review of…

Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

Keep in mind, dear worst-reader, I’m a Gore Vidal fan. Here’s a tag link to my GV posts. As I’ve said here or there, I believe that all schools in my beloved & missed #Americant should learn history from GV. In other worst-words, all schools should just stop the BS they’re teaching kids right now–which has, over the span of at least two generations, systematically deprived the intellectually capacity of a nation, which can only lead to the right-wing, conservative, greed-mongering batshittery that is #Americant. Am I wrong? And so. Stop it now, LAND OF FREE TO BE STUPID! Read Gore Vidal and learn something. But I die-gress.

I thoroughly enjoyed Vidal’s Novel Burr, which may or may not be the anthesis of Hamilton. Of course, Burr is not quite a real history or biography. Or is it? For you see, dear worst-reader, Gore Vidal writes histories in novel form. Is that why they’re called fictional histories? Or is it novel histories? How bout a fictional novel? No. They’re called historical novels. What a great idear, don’t you know. There’s a genre for everything. Is that why such a book can entertain intellectual deviants that live and prosper in the LAND OF FREE TO BE STUPID? Yes, it can. And what about the edumacated who think they know everything? You know, the college grads that have been running, managing, facilitating the greed $hit$how? Compared to GV, though, Chernow has written a plain old history book–or is it a biography? Or has he? At the least he writes for those who:

  • have the time to read/focus on almost a thousand friggin pages,
  • don’t mind a bit of history regurgitation that most should already know (but of course so many of them do not on account of #Americant intellectual deviancy)

Before I continue, allow me to state briefly how/why this book was catapulted up my to-read list. It was the WHCD 2019 that did it. As you may or may not know, President Stupid (pee-pee-hair) and his ill-humour, saw to it that no one make fun of him anymore after Michelle Wolf drilled him a new a$$hole in 2018. (What a performance that was, eh!) For 2019 Ron Chernow was invited to fill the comedian spot–but President piss-hair still didn’t attend. Obviously not a comedian, Chernow did a great job out-smarting President Stupid’s minions–who thought they had a win-win by getting rid of a comedian. You can watch Chernow’s “speech” at the link provided below. As soon as I finished watching it, I did a hop, skip and jump over to the Apple book store which was selling the same book for half the price of that other online book retailer–that sucks piss rain as much as #Trump has pee-pee-hair.

Back to the book (again).

Why Chernow chose to spend so many words on public school level history-telling is a bit of a mystery to me. The good news is, he’s a brilliant history teller/writer–which also comes out in his WHCD speech. The bad news is, Gore Vidal is just a better writer/thinker when it comes to this sort of thing. And get this, Chernow even takes a swipe at GV towards the end of his book. He says that Vidal was wrong in his narrative assumption2 that Burr wanted to duel Hamilton because the latter accused him of an incestuous affair with his daughter. Chernow insinuates that Vidal’s take on history is unprovable. The problem is, Chernow doesn’t convince me that he knows everything better than GV. Also, I thought it kind of a krappy thing to do since GV ain’t around to defend himself. And so. Yeah. I prefer–and believe–Vidal’s take on the reason for the great duel. At the least, GV’s version fits better to the mindset that is #Americant.

Chernow’s work is, from what little I can tell, more academic than, say, Gore Vidal’s. That said, Chernow constantly plays on the third-grade, knuckle dragging banalities of realpolitik wrapped in sexually repressed patriarchy run amok–and all because somewhere, somehow, someone thinks there’s almost something holy about Alexander Hamilton. Hence the title of this worst-post. Through out the book Chernow lingers between academia and, maybe, a museum–and, of course, lots of bitching and moaning between founding fathers who were, at best, lead poisoned to the hilt? (Just throwing that out there.) Then again, the more and more I read–and there is plenty of excess to read in this book–his text became more and more of pseudo soap opera than a book about history. Perhaps that’s the reason it is easily transferrable to the drama-queen stage of elitist Broadway. I worst-write pseudo soap opera, btw, because within the first two chapters it became clear that Chernow was playing The Drama card in telling his history of AH. Indeed. The conniving, the snickering, the love-fest of whose money is better or whose wig is fancier has certainly permeated #Americant ever since. Is that the history that need be learned?

Don’t get me wrong, dear worst-reader. I’m not referring here to daytime TV soap opera krapp. You know, the emotion BS that has raised at least two generations of submissive wives? I mean. Come on. Times have changed, eh. For me, the modern old-rot .e.g. Days of Our Lives, Young and the Restless, etc., has been superseded by new-rot e.g. The Sopranos, Mad Men, GoT, and… Wait for it. Hamilton the fcuking musical. The banality of corporatism, war mongering and greed, greed, greed, is a perfect incubator, don’t you know, for where #Americant has taken itself. Or am I the only worst-writer that’s questioned how/why so many disgusting white men can become President Stupid. On the other hand, could Chernow have known that his bloated and somewhat superficial style of history telling, originally published in 2007, would turn into a pop culture broadway phenomenon playing on all the anti-intellectualism that is so well-fed in the year of your Lord, 2015? Again: we live in a world of reality-TV. Where does that come from?

This book is meticulously well researched and written. It has been worth the struggle to read. Would I read it again? Will I refer to it in the future? I don’t think so. I’m gonna stick with Gore Vidal. Also, I’m no longer hell-bent to see Hamilton on stage. The book was more than enough and from what I can tell via Wiki, I’m not sure the narrative of the play interests me either. I might watch the movie if/when it ever comes out (the sooner the better before I lose all interest) or watch it in pieces while focusing more on Mama Mia.

For those worst-readers interested, here a short-list of the things I will take with me from Chernow’s work.

  • Hamilton’s Caribbean upbringing and subsequent rise to fame is a fascinating rags to riches, almost Cinderella story, albeit a bit über-dramatised by the author
  • Federalist (Washington, Hamilton) vs. Republican (Adams, Jefferson) is two sides of the same coin fighting the fight that would eventually result in #Americant and greed, greed, greed that till this day is same as it ever was
  • how Hamilton was able to acquire so much knowledge before leaving the Caribbean for NY is interesting but surely not worth a pop-musical
  • perhaps AH’s personal situation is similar to Spock’s (that’s right, that Spock) and how he had to fight for having mixed parents (ok this one is full silly?)
  • very impressed with the relationship AH had with George Washington and I now have a better opinion of GW
  • although this book is supposed to be about AH, I found the Thomas Jefferson v. George Washington ideological fight to be as interesting
  • buy-the-by, Thomas Jefferson is now on my shit-list
  • AH’s work ethic, how much he wrote, it’s now motivated me to re-read The Federalist Papers
  • AH is portrayed as a humble man, also an abolitionist, but I don’t believe that he was in anyway… a good guy (for good guys don’t die the way he died!)
  • all the text about whether or not #Americant would be a monarchy or republic wasn’t very interesting because the author fails to focus on how it managed to turn money into its monarchy, and, for sure, its god/religion
  • I want to read more now about the French Revolution versus the #Americant revolution and also juxtapose both with the Russian revolution
  • duelling should be called out for what it is and not be legitimised as a means of conflict resolution let alone require almost a thousand fcuking pages to get to, for it is just another example of how stupid white men (if AH was even white) behave, even to this day
  • a great example of how to turn history into a soap-opera, perfect for a/the reality-TV mind

Nuff for now.

Rant and read on, baby.

-T

Links that motivated this post:
WHCD 2019
WHCD 2018


  1. That’s right. Some claim that those of us who read while on the shitter might also be somewhat intellectually challenged. Well, to that, I say: fick dich! ↩︎
  2. Is there such a thing as “narrative assumption”? Of course there is. I am worstwriter.com, baby. ↩︎

Party Here, Faction There

Van Buren will be nominated and he will defeat Clay or any other National Republican–no, no, Whig, I must get used to calling them that. How topsy-turvy it is! Those of us who were for the Revolution were Whigs. Those for Britain were Tories. Then there was the fight over the federal Constitution. In our state Governor Clinton wanted a weak federal government. So some of the Whigs became anti-Federalist, and some like Hamilton became Federalist. Then the Tory-Federalists became Republican. Now Tory-Federalist-Republicans call themselves Whig though they are anti-Whig while the anti-federalist Republicans are now Jacksonian Democrats. Oh, names are magic here!
-From Burr – A Novel, by Gore Vidal, Part 1834, Chapter Four

More on Burr here.

Rant on.

-T

She’s A Man, Baby

 

Raquel Welch Myra Breckenridge

Pseudo-review: Mrya Breckenridge, the novel–not the movie!

I saw the movie thirty-five (or so) years ago1. Somehow the movie stayed with me–and not only because of Raquel Welch who is, other than Rita Hayworth, the only Hollywood bombshell worth gawking at like a fifteen year old man-boy run amok with girly magazines. At the least, reading Gore Vidal’s Empire series helped in finally getting me to his novels even though Myra Breckenridge made my have to read before I die list only around fifteen years ago2. And so. I finally got around to it the other day. And that’s what matters, right? Finally getting around to something? The worst-word now is: thank goodness I finally got around to it.

My first thought was: why did it take so long? Second thought was: hallelujah! Then again, there was that one chapter (Chapter 29!) where Myra straps on a dildo and has her way with an aspiring young Adonis-like acting student thereby changing him and his personality… Hollywood-forever-more. As uncomfortable as that chapter was, reading it kind of solidified where the novel, and Vidal, was actually going. For. Indeed. Dear worst-reader. It was a tough chapter to read. But get through it I did. And so. Is my manliness still intact–unlike Rusty’s?

The capacity for wit and humour and more wit knows no bounds in this book. Does that mean it’s opened my mind to read more of Vidal’s novels–since I’ve only read his historical novels and various essays up to now? By-the-buy, the reason for reading only his historical novels is simple. Like most #Americants , important things get lost in the ether of the greed $hitshow. Or they get lost in the hope and want of Disney. Or both. At the least, being an #Aemricant can be very convoluting. And so. Every #Americant should read Gore Vidal’s Empire novels. In fact, all public schools in my beloved & missed united mistakes of #Americant should stop all the pseudo-history they’ve been learned (taught) so far. In fact, fire all the pseudo-teachers (of history) now. Simply replace it/them all with reading Vidal’s Empire series. You know, Burr, Lincoln, etc. It’s probably the best way to learn our history, don’t you know. But on that note, I should digress.

The version of Myra I have also contains Myron, which is supposed to be a follow-up novel. But I also ordered The City And The Pillar which I’ve prioritised to read next–unless I get to another Empire novel. I guess I’ll eventually get to Myron but somehow I’m not as motivated. Perhaps Myra was enough. Indeed. I’m really, finally, thinking more in terms of getting around to finally reading Washington DC, which is the one important Empire novel I’ve still not read. I’m actually missing something in my soul since I haven’t read one of Vidal’s Empire novels in awhile–and perhaps also because of finally reading Myra. Again. Nomatter.

Myra Breckenridge is a hoot to read. Set in Hollywood of, I guess, the 60s, Myra is a teacher of sorts at an acting academy. And guess what she teaches? That’s right. At an acting school in Hollywood she doesn’t teach acting. No. She teaches posture and empathy. Who would have guessed that such a thing exists/is required for Hollywood? In fact, the great scene (Chapter 29) where she tries to set the story’s Adonis-like acting student’s spine straight by breaking his heterosexuality, she does so in the name of… wait for it. Posture. Although Myra’s motivation is to dominate and manipulate others (a well established #Americant Hollywood creed) via her fluid if not didactic sexuality, she is also obsessed with another burgeoning #Americant-ism: that of acquiring wealth without means, i.e. through the death of her late husband Myron. I’m now convinced Vidal had something quite different in mind with Myra other than creating something for $hits & giggles–which is the #Americant way of dealing with sex. By-the-buy, such an iconic (literary) character could never be properly portrayed in a prude #Americant movie of the 1970s–even if it did star one of the greatest bombshells of the twentieth century. I’m worst-wondering if the film could/should be remade? Nah. #Americant still ain`t ready for it.

Considering the discourse today regarding sexuality, compared to what I grew up with, e.g. hardcore 1960 > 1970 feminism plus a krapp load of closeted gays, Vidal just might be a prophet above and beyond his fictionalisation of history as he’s done so well with his Empire novels. At the least, what Vidal writes about in Myra is only slightly askew from my personal experience(s), although I never met a transexual… a transgender… Sorry, I’m still confused about all that stuff. Nor have I ever lived in Hollywood. But I have crossed paths wit a bunch of fags in my day. Nomatter.

Much has been said about Myra Breckenridge since its publishing (1968). But I’m curious if much of what need be said has been said about it. You know, #Americants and prudes do find a way to suppress this sort of stuff in the best and usually not subtle ways. On the other hand, Vidal has seen into the future with this book. A future I’m now living in. The only thing missing from it, IMHO, is a proper conclusion. Perhaps I’ll get that conclusion after reading Myron. Then again, my guess is I won’t. That’s the one criticism I have of this book. It’s too much about Vidal’s personal POV regarding his sexuality which I’m guessing is old school faggism. You know, no anal, lots of hand-jobs, a few more blowjobs, no PDA and never, ever, go overboard with acting über-feminine. Or maybe not.

Myra Breckenridge (the novel) is something between a kind of Hollywood soap-opera and a very dark comedy run amok. But I think Vidal’s text says a lot more than portraying a man as a woman as a man. This book is a depiction of #Americant and its true face, including its true heart and how morally corrupt it all really is–simply because of the confusion caused by what is really amorality. Yeah, so much for family values, eh! Read in 2019, it’s still as sad and sorrowful and infantile, yet also inspiring, as it should be. If only #Americants (like Vidal) could be as unapologetically hi-larry-us as the Brits with, say, their Monty Python stuff. Or maybe not.

Rant on.

-T

PS Compared to the book, the movie really does suck–although it might squeeze out a laugh or two while gawking at Raquel Welch.


  1. I can’t remember exactly; I either saw it at my university cinema or on VHS during a college drunken stupor. Nomatter. ↩︎
  2. After constantly being reminded of the significance of GV’s teachings. ↩︎

Hollywood vs Wash DC

Hollywood, a novel by Gore Vidal.

Did it take me too long to get through this, dear worst-reader? Maybe it didn’t take long enough. Or, perhaps, is this piece of work enough to make me stop in my quest to read (all of) Vidal’s “Narratives of Empire”? Indeed. Four of the seven books are left. And I was bored more than not with this one. But I fought through it–because I felt compelled to do so. I wondered at times if Vidal was just as bored writing it. Nah. A man who can pull this off cannot be bored with what he does. Or? Vidal knows for whom and for what he wrote Narratives. That in and of itself is reason to complete the series. Or maybe not.

This is my third novel from Gore Vidal’s seven book series. What is becoming clear to me is that there is a sincerity, an earnestness to these books. They are more than just fictional histories of #americant through the eyes of someone who knows politics probably better than most. It’s almost as though Vidal is trying to tell Americans something not just about history but also about who and what we are and the world we have to live in. The quest to chronicle a lands history in a concise enough form so that posterity won’t forget it–or, at best–its people won’t leave it behind, is a task to be wondered. Or? Thus far I’ve read Lincoln, Burr, Creation and now Hollywood. Wait. I know. Creation isn’t really part of the Narrative series but somehow, after reading it, I can’t help but think that Vidal wants it to be because, simply, it is a great explanation of the history of humanity pre and post religious nutbaggery, i.e. #americant in the 20th century. But that’s neither here nor there. The real question we are facing, dear worst-reader, is what’s next on the Narrative reading list? Empire, 1876, Washington DC or the Golden Age? Indeed. I’m torn. Oh well.

The one thing that saved (reading) this book for me was an ever growing interest in Vidal’s choice of characters from which to tell this story. Ironically, or maybe not, the best character of the novel isn’t even a real historical figure. For whatever reason Vidal had to make up a few characters. Enter Caroline Sanford. She is both an actress and a newspaper mogul. She is the embodiment of Vidal’s vision linking two geographic points of a fledgling nation. She reminded me somewhat of Dagny of Atlas Shrugged–but only in my imaginative effort to give her a physical presence. As far as the other characters go, it’s easy to look up the presidents, the government officials, the barons and the goons Vidal chronicles. They are all only a wiki-link away. But Caroline? Where did Vidal get this chick? I’ll be wasting hours googling to find out why Vidal created her. But more importantly, she’ll be the reason I probably read “Empire” next as she is featured in that novel, as well. I’m a Caroline Sanford fan.

The historical characters covered in the book, especially the presidents Woodrow Wilson and Warren G. Harding, are only interesting because of how Vidal presents them in the context of (their) political buffoonery. Although I did learn a few things about Wilson, like his stedfast belief in the failed League of Nations, I kept getting the feeling that these figures of #americant history are nothing more than a side-show. The things said, done and committed by the novel’s figures is nothing compared to the intrigue Vidal miraculously achieves by the juxtaposition of Washington DC vs Hollywood. Vidal literally codifies the how and why of entertainment vs politics, all of which has been willfully and consciously merged right underneath the eyes of a puritanical nation of nitwits. This aspect of the story is the unexpected grand achievement of the book. How many people conclude that the connection between these two opposing coastlines would set the stage of #americant for an entire century? Even though it takes Vidal a while to get to Hollywood from the beginning of the book, once there I was hooked. Every time he returned to the east coast, though, I found a way to put the book down–and sometimes I even rushed through the text. California here I come!

All in all, this was a tough read. I really had to battle some of the huge winded chapters and as previously stated, even rush through them and I do not feel as though I missed anything by doing so. I only hope that this was the most winded book of the series. Two other non-Vidal books are in front of Empire so maybe that will give me achance to recupearate form this one. Or maybe I won’t be able to wait that long before getting back to Ms. Sanford.

Some quotes from the novel “Hollywood” by Gore Vidal:

  • “Almost everyone nowadays had two lives, his own and his life at the movies.”
  • “The had used the movies successfully to demonize national enemies. Now why not use them to alter the viewer’s perception of himself and the world.”
  • “Show things the way they are but carefully angled, the way the camera is, to make the audience see what you want them to see.”

 

Rant on. -Tommi

Suicide Eyes

“‘The only freedom that an American has is to conform, as you’ve already discovered.’ Caroline did not in the least mind the disparity between the country’s shining image of itself and the crude reality. She was entirely on the side of the rulers, ridiculous and unpleasant as so many of them were. She felt a certain generalised pity for the people at large, but there was nothing she could do for them except report murders in the press, and commit suicide on the screen–with her eyes wide open.” -Gore Vidal (Caroline Sanford), Hollywood

Not Ending A War

“Without the League (of Nations), there would be another war with Germany within thirty years because of the Carthaginian peace being imposed by the Allies.” / “Europe had a murderous tendency to sink into barbarism, the United States had not yet achieved a civilization from which to fall.” -Gore Vidal, Hollywood

Possessed

“Human beings to flourish must be possessed by one idea, a central meaning to which all experience can be related.” -Gore Vidal (Essay: Contemporaries: The Norman Mailer Syndrome, 1960)

Puzzled By Creation

“I think that I might have done well at banking had I not been so carefully trained to be either a priest nor a warrior. Although I have the Persian noble’s contempt for trade, I lack his passion for war and hunting and drinking to excess. Although I have a priest’s deep knowledge of religion, I am not certain what is true. Although I once heard the voice of the Wise Lord, I confess now in my old age that to hear and to listen are two different things. I am puzzled by creation.” -Gore Vidal, Creation – Book Six – The Passing of the Awesome Royal Glory.

Jacob Obians

Will our Jacobians ever be defeated as the French ones were? -Gore Vidal, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace

Perpetual Sex Disorder

Perpetual War For Perpetual Peace, How We Got to Be So Hated by Gore Vidal

Americans morality has nothing to do with ethics or right action or who ever is stealing what money–and liberties–from whom. Morality is SEX. SEX. SEX. -Gore Vidal in the book mentioned here

The island of Mauritius is cool. It’s also pretty. For worst-writer, it was my first tropical island–or is it sub-tropical? Nomatter. Up to that point I had never seen the crystal turquoise waters of an island or other exotic place. Having grown up on the mid-Altantic coast of the USA with its green and sometimes brown waters, turquoise seemed like a distant and desirable experience. To say the least, I was mesmerized. As beautiful as Mauritius is, though, there is one other thing that I will never forget about the island that has nothing to do with its waters. On a day tour around its north-west coast, on a fifty foot sail boat that sails regularly to and from France, the first mate, a Mauritian, turned to me after hearing I was the only American on board and asked most sincerely and inquisitively: what is the matter with you Americans?

What a question, eh? And now for some, and not enough, context. The Iraq quagmire was in full bloom. With my attitude toward that quagmire I’m not sure I’m the one to answer such a great question. Especially not while sailing on the dreamy turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. But on that day, on that beautiful sail boat, surrounded by Belgians, Frenchman and Germans (allies?), I stood deaf and mute. The mate’s question lingered in my mind (and to this day still does). It was as though I could hear all the destruction at that moment that my beloved country was committing around the world post 2001. Subsequently, after visiting numerous exotic places, mostly enjoying the luxuries of life that I am privileged to afford, I have learned to hide my nationality. Does that mean I am ashamed to be American? Well, maybe. Or let me put it another way. After a while, whether at a hotel in Bangkok or on a dive boat on the red sea, I avoid as best I can being looked down upon as “an American”. I guess learning a second language does have it’s advantages. Even if you can only partly master a second language, it’s enough to hide behind.

With that in mind, now you know, dear worst-reader, why Gore Vidal’s subtitle appeals to me more than the title. First, the title seems to refer to Vidal’s never quenched desire to propel his (or her) reader into realms of history unknown and less understood. Or. Better put. Vidal has the most wondrous knack of making his reader and his listeners feel as though they are kinda stupid. And I don’t mean that in a sly way (like he does). I admire Vidal for his slyness. As I’ve said before, here and here, if you (if anyone) wants to know the history of America because dogma-public schooling taught you snot, read Vidal’s chronicles. And you don’t even have to read them in order. Just pick them out of any second hand book store, like I did, and start reading. (Although now, since I don’t buy physical books unless I have to, I prefer ebook versions which are all reasonably priced.) Things that can be learned from Gore Vidal include but are not limited to our history and our reality and the reason “we” are so hated–even though “Perpetual War For Perpetual Peace” doesn’t quite get to that (musical) note. The book is mostly centered around Timothy McVeigh, Vidal’s correspondence with him and many other quips about (our) empire and those who run it, promote it, spend for it, etc. But you can read all that in the book yourself.

The thing I really want to get at here is, luckily, America’s last great man of letters, who passed in 2012, Gore Vidal, did a lot more writing above and beyond his duty of telling us less mentally endowed (Americans) our own history. If you use the Google you can find a vast amount of all-things-media about Vidal. I especially like the tat-a-tats with his arch enemy William Buckley Jr. Buckley called Vidal a faggot on a televised debate. It was, I think, 1968! Which brings me to my point, what I really want to worst-blog about, and why I picked today’s worst-blog-title.

In all or most of Vidal’s non-fiction that I’ve read so far (which probably isn’t a lot but I’m going with this presumption anyway) there is something that permeates his genius. That something, which Mr. Buckley touched upon in their infamous debate–condescendingly and über-mockingly low-blowing with the utmost choice of descriptors regarding male sexuality–is what Vidal can’t seem to let go. I’m starting to think, since Vidal is of the same pre-war generation as my parents, that America will probably require a lot longer and a lot more than a sexual revolution to get passed what is obviously a symptom to a much larger problem. Obviously sexual repression is rampant in America. But is it part of our DNA? Will we ever be able to breed this thing out! I think Vidal thinks (knows) it is indeed part of us–because it is part of him. According to the work I’ve read so far, it’s most definitely part of him.

The thing is, as we emulate our enemies (and our enemies emulate us) it becomes easier to see the Cain and Abel paradox that is our demise. Something connects us to all that we do to this world–as Americans. One could say that something is religion–and I wouldn’t put up much of a fight to argue it. But there’s one thing that all religion has in common that is both the life and death ticket for us all. Sex. Yeah, baby. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sexuality is something that Vidal–a man who has admitted to being a platonic homosexual–what ever that means–has a serious problem with. Either that or he was completely right when he said that sex was just over-rated.

The chapter “The New Theocrats” begins with the quote at the beginning of this worst-post. SEX. SEX. SEX. Capitalized, baby. Caps because Vidal has something to say, loudly. And then he goes on about a high school girl having a baby during her senior prom and leaving that baby to die in a trash can only to then go about her prom business. This all somehow leads back to Timothy McVeigh who mysteriously hangs out with men-only who all hate the US government and might even be in cohorts with middle eastern terrorists because that was the only way to blow up a federal building in Oklahoma City. Now. Does all that mean that Gore Vidal, again, America’s last man of letters, is sex obsessed–just like the rest of sexually repressed America–or is he sincerely interested in getting to the bottom of McVeigh’s horror or, even, why we are so hated around the world?

For this question I have an answer: dunno.

All worst silly-ness aside, this book is worth the read. But to moi, everything from Vidal is worth the read–even that script he wrote which was subsequently gutted by Penthouse founder Bob Guccione. All things said–or missed–this book provides an interesting look/view at the Oklahoma City bombing, the siege at Waco, TX, both of which, to this day, amaze me because they are practically never spoken of unless someone commits some ghastly act of violence in the name of the 2nd amendment, false patriotism, a tea-party–or because Mama didn’t love enough, etc. I guess by writing, researching, thinking about all that stuff, Vidal knows why we are hated. Full stop.

Nomatter.

Vidal does a great job of avoiding all the conspiracy-theory nutbag krapp that is probably the reason so much of what America truly is–is truly never spoken about/of. Or something like that.

Rant on.

-Tommi

Alternate History

Burr by Gore Vidal

From the afterword:

“Why a historical novel and not a history? To me, the attraction of the historical novel is that one can be as meticulous (or as careless!) as the historian and yet reserve the right not only to rearrange events but, most important, to attribute motive–something the conscientious historian or biographer aught never do.” 

This post is better late than never. Plus this is a lazy post. Trying to fill my study section so it looks like the done-section of my bookshelves. And so. Finished reading “Burr” last fall. It took me a few years to get around to reading it. That is, I read Lincoln in 2007 but because of other books put-off continuing with Narratives of Empire. Of course, the best part about the series is you don’t have to start from the beginning. In fact, Gore Vidal himself wrote them way outta order. Nomatter. As I’ve said, I plan on reading them all and if my mind holds up, I’ll get them done not so soon enough.

Anyone who wants to know about the history of America should read Vidal’s collection of historical novels. And keep in mind, you will be reading fiction but you will also learn more about American history above and beyond the inadequacy of history lessons from conventional schooling. Hence these books should be required reading. The reason they never will be required reading is because Vidal’s attitude toward life, liberty and the American’t way is counter to most aspects of what has been running the show since, gee, Nixon(?) But that’s neither here nor there. Next on my list is Gore’s Empire–hopefully it won’t take me five years to get to it. BTW, I also read gore’s “Creation”, which is not in the series. The reason I mention it is because Burr and Creation are written basically in the same style based on a kind of memoir and collection of letters.

What is most appealing about Burr is Vidal’s anti-establishment take on our history. I suppose you could call it an alternative history. But there’s something else to Gore Vidal and his motivations that worst-writer suspects has something to do with a desire to at least offer an alternate truth. In that vein, please indulge me this stretch or three: Gore Vidal might be related to Al Gore. In fact, he’s also distantly related to Jimmy Carter. And his grandfather was a Senator from Oklahoma. Vidal even ran for congress but he lost. I mention all that because of one of the significants parts of Aaron Burr’s life. Vidal chronicles the election for third president of the United States. It was a close race and the final decision of the presidency went to Thomas Jefferson but it was decided by the congress because the two tied in electoral votes. So. While reading Vidal’s take on history, I couldn’t help but think about Al Gore and how he lost to Dubya in 2000. Anything similar? I mean, it wasn’t the voters the picked Jefferson. But I am stretching. And I suppose my stretch would be better relatable if Gore or Bush had duelled each other. I know. Wishful thinking. I found this part of Burr’s life to be more interesting than the Hamilton incident but perhaps that’s because Vidal thought it more significant, too.

Burr is a wonderful journey into our history. But what makes it so appealing is that the reader, if willing, won’t be bothered with Vidal’s prose that borderline at times on turning the whole shebang into a soap-opera. Either that or it works at times as a bad western, especially the part about Texas and the Alamo, including some interesting insight into Davie Crockett’s true intention for going…. allow me to say: for going west. But then, worst-writer doesn’t need to mention anything more about Gore Vidal’s attitude toward what made America and what has subsequently ruined it. Indeed. Vidal breaks through all the mythology and paints a beautiful, untainted portrait that motivates further self-inquiry and study.

Rant on.

Tommi

Creation vs Creation

Creation by Gore Vidal

z’Germanland has a lot of religious holidays. That means they have a lot of extra days-off that coincide with their guaranteed government sponsored vacation days. A lot of these religious days are either on a Thursday or Monday. That means, Das Volk have long since figured out the use of “bridge days” to turn Good Friday and Easter Monday into a friggin’ vacation. If you add these off-days up and compare it to my grand (and so missed) united mistakes, it’s a wonder that anything gets done in Eurowasteland. (Who am I kidding — nothing does get done here!) And let’s not get into the idear of who can actually afford all these days off. That’s a whole ‘nother bucket of chow.

The worst thing about these days off is that other than bars and restaurants everything is closed. So either you can afford to go to another country that has things open or you fly to an island in the Med and shop there. For those of us stuck in the grey-scale atmosphere of z’Germanland, you can’t even wash your friggin’ car on account government regulation won’t let you. So. After all these years and wasted holidays (on account I couldn’t afford to go anywhere) I got to thinking. What good can I make of this? Long story short, read another book! And since religious holidays were so abundant, I decided to use those days to read religious literature. Seriously. I turned it into something like habit. And it worked out pretty well, I’d say. At the least, I got to read a lot.

Unfortunately these holidays are all Christian-based but I didn’t let that stop me. So. On Xmas I’d read the bible. On Easter I read the Koran. On Assumption day I read Lao Tse, etc. Of course, after a few years reading material started getting thin. So I resorted to reading aboutreligion. Here an example. One thing lead to another and you know the saying: seek and you will find.

I actually ordered this book from Amazon to read over Xmas 2010 but it arrived on Dec. 29. Nomatter. What a brilliant piece of writing. In fact, this is the fourth historical novel I’ve read by Gore Vidal and I’ve yet to be disappointed. In fact, this one is probably one of my favorites and is as great & good as Eco’s Baudolino (which I’ll eventually post something on). Here a bit on one of Vidal’s other historical works.

The thing to keep in mind about this book is it’s title. Hence I started writing this post motivated by the fact that I wanted to say something about how I got into reading religious literature – and subsequently got into reading about religion and that ultimately lead to reading this masterpiece. “Creation” is not about religion per say. It is really just a wonderfully written historical novel – that just happens to chronicle the beginnings of religion and hence politics. But the subtext of the entire book seems to me to be Vidal’s typical answer to the question eating so many ignorant and intellectually deprived American’ts who are all now suffering from religious indoctrination and dumb-down politics run-amok!

I think I understand how Vidal can get away with titling this book as he does. This book is about the creation of our world. In novel form Vidal takes the idear, NOT of the chemical reactions that ultimately created life (which American’t “believers” can never comprehend), but of the human-relations that have been passed down through centuries, and puts them in front of you in the form of an amazing journey through the eyes of the grandson of Zoroaster. Just the thought of this subject matter and how much must be in the mind of Gore Vidal to put it to print – amazes me. And so, juxtapose the title of this book against the batshit religious life-haters that have ruined American’t and corroded Christianity probably to the point of no return…

Oh well. I should leave well enough alone and just read this book again someday.

Links:

 

Rant on.

-tgs-

Lincoln In Tuscany

Lincoln by Gore Vidal

Subtitle: Cute Elitist Disguised As Former Teacher, Red States vs. Help, And A Few Thoughts on Gore Vidal’s “Lincoln”.

But first some nonsense.

Character X: The world is starving for variety and things dynamic. The world requires nothing from humanity and yet things static and universal seem to rule all – simply because that’s what thrills humanity? 

Character Q: Why? 

Character X: I’m guessing that the opposite of things static and universal might be the variation and dynamic. I come to this lackadaisical conclusion because life wouldn’t be where or what it is if things were variable and dynamic. (Short pause, deep breath, exhausted from the banality.) 

Character Q: Oh goodness. Your brain is hemmoraging again. Let me get a tissue and some sewing thread. There. There. (Pause. Threads the needle he found under the couch and proceeds.) Now. If you must push on. I must, as well. There’s so little time left. (Shorter pause but proud of the banality.) So. Sorry for that. Go on.

Character X as Q: At the least, variety and things dynamic are worth fighting for. Or? Let me move on to the subject at hand.

 

While visiting Tuscany in 2005, beyond the astonishment of the beautiful landscapes, rolling vineyards with perfectly manicured vines, I had to face the onslaught of American’ts who could still afford the weak dollar abroad to sight-see and, of course, drink extremely overpriced wine. In contrast, I wasn’t a tourist and for the past so-many years I consider myself a class fighter warring against the Disney-fied evils of complacent, superficial, malignant but bat-outta-hell fun American’ts. (Actually it’s a war of attrition and I’m my own enemy.) You see, I too am an American’t – in the form of an expat that can’t get far enough away. With that in mind, my American’t is different than the American’t of those cruising to Italy and bathing in tannin tastes. Indeed. It’s even more different to those I was facing because I was on a mission from Flying Spaghetti Monster to fill a German cellar with Montepulciano.

Being judgmental is a very rude thing to do but I do it all the same. Don’t we all? What I don’t do is put it out there for everyone to see (present company excluded). Unless you want to know how it came to be that the image of children playing in a sandbox symbolizes the(ir) future. The only thing I ask when pushing (as I am now doing) my thoughts and ramblings as (worst)writer is that you do not assume, like other judges, that I’m being hypocritical. My Tuscany visit was not of my own doing and the criticisims I hold toward (former?) compatriots was also not mine. I am not the elitist nor do I strive to become such. To be clear: I am nothing more than baggage and I really do prefer to be left alone to waddle around in this society of baggage carriers. Wishful thinking, eh.

Why is it then that I get so perturbed by American’ts that can afford in this economy to spend two weeks in Tuscany drinking wine and not reading a damn thing to help better the lives of what in reality they are all running away from? The reason is simple and reveals itself in the form of a question: how many more generations of American’ts will be able to ride on these laurels?

While waiting in the lobby of a hotel in Tuscany for my girlfriend (she was getting ready for dinner) I ran into three New York women fresh from a long day of wine-tasting. Two of the woman were retired public school teachers and the other was the assistant to the director of New York City public schools. They heard me using American’t English on my handy (that’s Eurowasteland language for mobile phone) and when I was done the assistant to the director of New York City public schools mentioned from across the way:

“Oh, how is he,” she said in an endearing but somewhat smoked-out voice. She was referring to the book in my lap.

“He’s fine,” I uttered. I was reading Lincoln by Gore Vidal.

“It’s not good,” she either asked or demanded assuming that my previous response was a form of skepticism.

“No. No. Of course it’s good. It was written by a brilliant man,” I said with a bit more confidence.

“I’ve never understood where Vidal is coming from, you know what I mean,” she asked, her tone changing, pacifying.

“Well,” I said, wanting to be more provocative. “What does that matter? I think he’s brilliant at using fiction to depict truth.”

“Oh, I’m sure you’re right. But I just don’t get him,” she said.

“Well, you should give this a read then,” I said and tried to get back to my book.

She remained standing and massaged a look into her face that couldn’t relieve the want of a question to coincide with an answer that she thought she already had devised. When the two other women left for their rooms I assumed that the one who stayed wanted to spend a bit more time weakening the effects of a day of sun, landscapes and tasting. Instead she sat down in the chair across from me. I understood it as a gesture of combat.

“I’m curious, she said, he eyes glazed. “What do you think of him? Tell me more.”

Stop signs went off in my head. How many times have I beemn coerced into conversations with people who wish they would read more? Years of travel, years of lifting my eyes from the pages of a book only to see if her ass was round enough for my tastes have all come back to haunt me. And I hadn’t even checked out this school teachers other parts. But there are just some mannerisms that stick after being reared in the breadbasket between a north and a south.

“I can understand that people consider Vidal a bit wordy or perhaps a bit anti-American. But honestly, if you want to read about the mind of a president and how he made some very difficult decisions and was eventually annihilated for it, this is the book. Lincoln was truly the last great president because he is the only one that stood the true test of what this country is supposed to be about.”

“Slavery,” she interjected at my pause.

“N0. A union,” I said. “Besides, all other presidents that followed him you could wipe the floor with.”

Oh!” she said. “I really don’t understand him.”

It turns out that she tried reading one of his books once, but she couldn’t recall which one, and since then had only followed the press and TV that he appeared in.  Then she gave it one more try.

“But he’s so… How can I put this without sounding… I mean… He’s so… Elitist,” she said.

I was a bit taken-aback with someone who lives and works in New York City claiming someone else is elitist. I thought and/or judged (her): New York City; perfectly manicured hair and finger nails; she still sits with a straight, stiff back as though her lost girl-ness was poured into her spine and hardened like the concrete used in the Berlin wall.

I decided to stear clear from the internal conflict of my heritage on that side of the Atlantic.

“So. Because you think he’s elitist you don’t read him? Seriously, especially now, after what’s been going in the world, this book is more valid than ever before. The way Vidal describes Lincoln’s decision-making and the interaction among his cabinet members… In a way you get a picture with this book about what it means to vote and have your vote heard. It’s utterly brilliant the way Vidal portrays the whole thing.”

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about voting, too. I mean, what is wrong with our country? It’s such a relief to get out. There’s no talk radio in Europe is there? When I’m here I see different things. Hear different people. Do you have any idea why the red states have become so powerful?”

She sat back in her seat and crossed her legs. I was dealing with an American’t democrat, a liberal, someone who thinks that being nice is a way of life. Oh my!

Luckily my girl came down stairs all freshly showered with her thick dark hair in a bun, subtle eye makeup and no lipstick. Our magical dinner of red wine, Italian ham, antipasti and fresh bread was just around the corner. But I’ve been trapped before by “liberal” American’ts traveling around Europe. They all think that American’t is screwed up and getting out for a two week vacation is gonna answer any of the existential questions they have about the corrupted soil they walk on. When they meet Europeans who can see through the idiotic foreign policies that are only feeding war mongers and profiteers I’m probably somewhat of a relief to chat-up. I reckon it’s the twang, slang, draw of my fake accent. I can actually understand the politics that are governing the US post cold war. I can even understand how my home country has become overly self-conscious regarding its odd status in the world (and perhaps even in history). And I can disagree with Americant’s antics in a way that isn’t just US-bashing. Also, due to my effort(s) in becoming an ex-pat, it’s not that easy for the traveling show-case of elitist tourists to see that my heritage is the trailer trash that is now occupying their lives and making what little spec of American’t culture there was prior to Ronald Reagan a gaseous cloud of methane rising out of the soil and mental trailer park that has become their United Mistakes of American’t.

I gestured to the New York City woman that it was time for me to go. She acquiesced and the conversation ended with one last question.

“What is it that you think we can do to make things better? America can’t go on like this. You live abroad, you live in a place where people think. You don’t know what it’s like back home.”

“Then go home and change it. Either that or read Vidal. In fact, since you’re a teacher n’all. You should seriously start thinking about instead of teaching American’ts history the way you guys do it, just make all kids from middle school to high school read Vidal’s history series. Seriously.”

After that little elitist epitaph of mine, I told her that I had no clue and that she might want to just give in to the red states. Which was a lie. I actually have the answers to everything but didn’t have enough time to get into the whole thing about the world, especially conservative American’t, needing more variety and dynamic. I just wished her a nice remaining stay and recommended a vintage bottle of Montepulciano.

Rant on.

-tgs-