How Can Such a Clownish Spray-Painted Raccoon-Eyed, Combed-over Lard-Ladled Cement-Tongued Buffoon End Up Being a Cult-Figure?

Oh, good God, all these erstwhile free traders turned protectionists don’t give a flying flivver about Donald Trump’s backflip on whatever. He’s right.  He could gun down the Dalai Lama on the street, and his supporters would still worship him as a latter-day incarnation of Vishnu. Trump will get 40% of the vote in 2020, and given the bias the Constitution has for rural voters, again a minority might be enough.

What gives?  How can such a clownish spray-painted raccoon-eyed, combed-over lard-ladled cement-tongued buffoon end up being a cult-figure?

I blame Jerry Springer, pro wrestling, underfunded education, xenophobia, radon, and in-breeding – not to mention abstinence-only sex education.

Here is this century’s William Jennings Bryan[1] regaining Marco Rubio’s support by explaining that he meant to say “wouldn’t” instead of “would.”[2]

I thought that I made myself very clear by having just reviewed the transcripts—I have to say, I came back and I said, “what is going on, what is the big deal?” So I got a transcript, I reviewed it, I actually went out and reviewed a clip of an answer that I gave, and I realized there is a need for some clarification. It should have been obvious, I thought it would be obvious, but I would like to clarify just in case it wasn’t. In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word would instead of wouldn’t. The sentence should have been, “I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t,” or “why it wouldn’t be Russia.” So just to repeat it, I said the word would instead of wouldn’t. And the sentence should have been, and I thought I would be maybe a little bit unclear on the transcript or unclear on the actual video, the sentence should have been, “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.” So sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.

Yes, Donald, your sensitive linguistic distrust of using a double negative does “clarif[y] things pretty good.”

It clearly demonstrates you’re an incorrigible liar.

So what we get this morning is a barrage of tweets, this one garnering the most absurd award:

Like I said, incorrigible liar.


[1]Imagine Donald at the Snopes trial.

[2]BTW, not seeing “any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia” is as mealy mouth as you get given the intelligence agencies VOCE MAGNAhave said yes, yes, very yes, it was, was, yes the Russians who hacked the 2016 election.

The Nowhere That Is Not Necessarily Everywhere

Reading the late James Hillman’s Selected Writings (edited by Thomas Moore) frustrates me because Hillman deals with terms  — soul, archetype, spirit – that by his own definition defy definition.  He creates metaphors, uses Greek gods and goddesses as examples.  The gist is that like Steppenwolf’s Harry Haller, we have an infinite number of selves that slosh around the in a murky swamp of soul, a sort of neuronbuzz that connects mind to body.  What frustrates me is his lack of empiricism – where does he get his ideas? from an oracle? Nor does he provide case histories to help embody these archetypal inner beings.

Nevertheless, I agree with much of what says about our contemporary world, and he offers some wonderful turns of phrase.

illustration of James Hillman by Jason Stout

For example:

Dumb sex is cultural. Our white American speech doesn’t provide good words for genitals and intercourse – and hardly any phrases about places, rhythms, touches, and tastes.  Listen to the marvelous language of foreign erotica; jade stalk, palace gates, ambrosia!  Compare these with cock, prick, dick, nuts, balls, with suck, jerk blow, yank, and with gash, bush, frog, slit, clit, hole.  A Chinese plum is to be deliciously enjoyed; our cherries are to be taken, popped, or broken [. . .] Our Puritan prose cannot encompass the sexual imagination to which great temples are built in India.

The human person as a data bank does not need to read more than functionally.  A data bank deciding yes or no on the basis of feedback (i.e. reinforcement) need not imagine beyond getting, storing, and spending.  Just get the instructions right; never mind the content. Learn the how rather than the what with its qualities, values, and subtleties.  The human agent becomes an incarnated credit card performing the religious rituals of consumerism.

[. . .] places tend to remind us of history, of ethic and earthly differences that cannot be homogenized into the universal sameness of our contemporary utopias, the nowhere everywhere of our shopping centers and roads to and from them.

West Ashley (Charleston, SC at rush hour

So, according to Hillman, materialism has triumphed over spirituality.

Although perhaps generally true, it certainly isn’t universally true.  I cannot think of one close friend who prefers things to experiences, who would drive a Range Rover at the expense of not being able to travel.  The few very wealthy acquaintances I know are interested in both mind and spirit and never flaunt their fortunes.  And my Chico Feo bar buddies, many who live from paycheck to paycheck, seem well satisfied with their lives.  Before work each morning (and perhaps, even more impressively, on weekends), my friend Jason watches the sun rise above the Stono River and then posts a photograph with an accompanying prose passage, poem or song.

Today’s (11 July 2018) sunrise captured by Jason Chambers

Nevertheless, fighting traffic at rush hour through a wasteland of billboards and cell phone towers on the thoroughfares Hillman describes does indeed suck/blow/yank — especially if you’re in a hurry.  But if you’re riding in an air-conditioned vehicle with a system that plays music or words you select, you shouldn’t complain too loudly.

Summon your inner Apollo or Athena, or, in my case, given that I’m likely to be listening to James Brown or the Rolling Stones, inner Dionysius.

And remember (see the story of Lazarus for an example) Jesus was never in a hurry.

Jason and Me at Chico Feo (photo credit Caroline Traugott)

 

Prufrock Turns 103

at the Commodore Club

Prufrock Turns 103

Time for you and time for me

[to hear J. Alfred read his poem, click the arrow below]

 

South of menopause,

unmarried

straight

women

and men

cannot really be

platonic friends.

 

When push

comes

to thrust,

the he is going to be

libidinous.

 

So, madam, be careful

not to compliment

those cuff links

or straighten

that lapel,

or soon enough

you’ll find yourself

throwing off that shawl,

turning towards the window,

and saying,

“That is not it at all,

That is not what I meant, at all.”

So Long Seville, Hello Folly

After eleven days of flirtation with Africa in Vejer, we drove north to Seville to spend two nights before flying back to the good ol’ USA in time for Folly Beach’s 4thof July festivities, which include, drinking, eating, drinking, watching people compete at cramming hotdogs down their gullets, drinking, fireworks, and drinking.

You can experience Folly on the 4th by clicking here (and also groove on bartender Charlie Neely’s classic dance moves: https://wlm3.com/2015/07/05/celebrating-the-4th-on-folly-after-the-alcohol-ban/

Anyway, Seville is a beautiful city rich in parks, architecture, and history.  In fact, its history is essentially the history of Western Europe writ small.

Spain Square (Plaza de Espana). Seville, Spain.
source: siliconluxembourgh.lu

We stayed in the Jewish quarter, once a walled city within a city where abandoned Moorish mosques had been transformed into synagogues.  At the Jewish museum, we learned that under benevolent governance, the Jews of Seville flourished, working with the monarchy in managing the realm’s finances and also by contributing to science and the arts.

Unfortunately, thanks to a plague that killed half the city’s population and the scapegoating of fanatical priests spewing hate-filled sermons, in 1391 the Jews’ were forced to either convert to Christianity or face exile. It was a melancholy sight to see the arrows tracing the Jews flight from Seville and to contemplate their descendant’s fate in places like Eastern Europe and the Netherlands.

So the converted mosques that had become synagogues were transformed into cathedrals.

A 100 years later, after Columbus discovered the Indies, Seville became the exclusive site of New World trade, and, of course, became incredibly wealthy.

We didn’t have time to see much of its glories, however.  The lines stretching to get into Seville Cathedral (The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See), the world’s fourth-largest church building, conjured images of multitudes waiting to board Charon’s river transport so we missed out on what probably was some wondrous head craning.

Seville Cathedral

Of course, Andalucía is Flamenco Central, and we took in two more shows.  I really dig the guitar-playing, the percussive hand-clapping, the foot-stomping, and back-bending, but the vocals just don’t do it for me.  The singers don’t so much sing as screed plaintively in a limited vocal range that to my ears lacks nuance.  It sort of sounds like I did when my brother Fleming removed stiches from my back with pliers a year after they were supposed to removed.*


*Long story, near fatal car crash, hazy memory re. doctor’s instructions.

Ayyyyyyyy ayyyyyyyyyyyy ohhhhhhhhhhh ayyyyyyyyyyyyy noooooooooooooo.

However, The lyrics are pretty cool, if you’re into self-pity/flagellation.  Here are some lines I copped from theartsdesk.com:

Cuando yo me muera, te pío un encargo, Que con las trenzas de tu pelo negro me marren las manos.

When I come to die I ask of you one favour, /That with the braids of your black hair they tie my hands.

Reniego de mi sino, reniego de ti,  Como reniego de la horita en que te conosí.

I curse my fate, I curse you, As I curse the hour/ In which I knew you.

They say just before daylight is the darkest hour.

Anyway, the sun did rise on 2 July; we packed our bags and drove to the airport, my co-pilot Caroline guiding me around the roundabouts, Brooks patiently sitting in the backseat.  We endured the Kafkaesque return of the rental (some idiot had accidently thrown away the keys when cleaning out the car at drop off point), the propeller plane from Seville to Lisbon didn’t crash (though some idiot left his carry-on bag on the plane), and the trans-Atlantic flight went off without a hitch.

So ole, Espana!

Now, I’m back at Folly, urging the clouds away so I can indulge in some American culture for a change.

“Eat that dog!! Go! Go! Cram it in there. Ole, ole!

 

Sand, Mammary Glands, Museums, and Pool Parties

If I were to gather containers of sand from Charleston’s various beaches – the Isle of Palms, Sullivans, Kiawah, Seabrook, and Folly – I doubt anyone could identify where each container came from.  The sands of our barrier islands are pretty much indistinguishable. This, however, isn’t the case with the three beaches we’ve visited in Andalucía – Zehora, Caleta, and Tarifa.

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Caleta Beach, Cadiz

Zahora’s sand reminds me a bit of slushy snow – it’s wet and sticky and orange-ish in hue (think Trump’s spray-on tan), and its blanket holds smooth rocks, ocean glass, and some cool shells.  The sands of Caleta, on the other hand, are drier, but also orange-colored.  Alas, Caleta’s beach is strewn with seaweed and litter.  By far the nicest sand is found in Tarifa, a funky mecca for surfers and kite boarders. There the sand is white, dry, and fine. Unlike the sands of Zahora, you can brush it off with a flick of your wrist.  One of my traveling companions, Brooks, age nine, was so taken with it, she gathered some and took it home to the apartment.

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Perhaps of more interest to the general reader is the topic of naked female breasts, which, of course, are on display at most European beaches.  Like Mr. Palomar, the protagonist of Italo Calvino’s novel of the same name, I feel awkward when I get the opportunity to gaze at a total stranger’s mammary glands, and like Mr. Palomar, I do end up sneaking a peek, which I hope won’t be taken the wrong way by the flaunter of aureoles, which unfortunately isn’t the case when Mr. Palomar encounters a topless beachgoer in the novel.

Mr-Palomar…

In college, I remember being peer-pressured into going to a bar that featured a topless waitress.  When I entered, immediately, my inner-Victorian[1] took over as I stared intently into her sardonic eyes while she cracked jokes about the awkwardness of the situation. I was way uncomfortable in the head-hanging area of what might be called un-fun, but, of course, I couldn’t help indulging in a surreptitious glance or two (or maybe eight or seventy-eight).

Well, at the three beaches mentioned above, you occasionally encounter bare-breasted women but not to the extent I did in Cannes and Mykonos in the early ‘80s.[2]  Here in Spain, all but two of the topless I’ve encountered were closer to menopause than puberty. But, hey, I admire their lack of inhibition.  Bikini tops (and bras) look uncomfortable. Why not give the voyeur a thrill and Mr. Palomar the heebie-jeebies?

I don’t mind, however, staring at whatever in museums, and Caroline, Brooks, and I have taken in quite a few.  My favorites on the Vejer leg of our holiday are located in Gibraltar and Cadiz.  Both display a rich trove of ancient artifacts dating back to Paleolithic times. The one in Gibraltar has a couple of Neanderthal replications, “Nana” and “Flint,” constructed according to skeletons found in caves in the rocks.  Caroline questions the unkemptness of these two.  Wouldn’t they groom one another she wonders.

The museum in Cadiz has an impressive cache of Phoenician, Greek, and Roman artifacts. Photography wasn’t allowed there, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

flint and nana

So here’s a naked breast for you voyeurs out there

All in all, we’ve had such a good time, especially hanging with Charlie and Concha. We even got to go to a  pool party at the home of one of Charlie’s acquaintances, allowing us a more intimate peek at the Spanish having fun. Everyone was so nice and welcoming.

In general, I have found the Andalusians to be incredibly helpful and patient, whether it’s demonstrating how to operate a parking meter or preparing a special dish for Brooks. And, by the way, the food here in Vejer is wonderful.  The town has justly earned a reputation for fine dining. You won’t find sand in your food or topless waitresses but some absolutely delicious Moroccan cuisine to go along with traditional Spanish dishes.

Buenos noches from Vejer.

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View of Vejer from our apartment’s terrace


[1]Hat tip to Charlie Geer for this useful coinage.

[2]Those beaches don’t have sand at all, but what the English call shingles, pebbles that are uncomfortable to lie on without a blanket.

Witless Trump Ain’t No Insult Artist

trum-piss.jpg

I read the other day that almost all of Trump’s supporters – 90% of Republicans according to a recent poll – admire him because he tells it as [he perceives] it is. For example, Maxine Waters is “low IQ,” Senator Mark Warner “a drunk,” and “whimpering” Jimmie Fallon less than “a man.”[1]

In other words, they admire him because he is a vulgarian.  But he’s not a clever vulgarian – his insults lack wit.  I never found Don Rickles funny, but compared to Trump, Rickles seems like Churchill vis a vis Lady Astor.

For example, Trump could utilize someone on his staff to crib insults from the Internet, since plagiarism didn’t seem to hurt the campaign one iota.

“Hey, Fallon,” he might tweet, “you’ll never be the man your mother was” or he could bitchslap Maxine Waters with, “If I ever wanted to kill myself, I’d climb up the top of your ego and jump down to the level of your IQ.”

“You know Senator Warner has a bad drinking problem: one mouth and two hands.”

Har har har.

And Republicans are whining that civility is at an all time low.


[1]That the leader of the so-called Free World” might be investing his time in more important ways than stooping to celebrity bashing doesn’t seem to occur to them.

Making the Rounds in Ronda

In Ronda, we made the rounds of museums, first Museo Lara, owned by a collector of oddities who lives in an apartment above those cultural artifacts on display, obsolete and obsolescent gadgets like telegraph apparatus,  gramophones, and typewriters and other interesting collectables like pipes and musical instruments.

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More interesting — at least for me — are the rooms dedicated to the Inquisition where you can actually run your hands across the spikes of an iron maiden or check out the crudity of a head crusher or a chastity belt and marvel at other ingenious instruments of torture.

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Then there’s a room devoted to the so-called black arts.  Here you can see such wonderful specimens like this:

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Bat-headed crab?

The dioramas are also worth a peek.

diorama

Next we visited the Museo del Bandoleros, a unique collection dedicated to those highwaymen who have become the stuff of legend in Andalusia. Some of the more famous ones actually have comic books dedicated to them and comic-book like poetry, some in couplets, others in terza rima.

comics

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Our favorite is Juan Jose Mongolla, aka Pasos Largos,  who favors the Moore family.

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Anyway, these marauders lived in caves along the highway and would swoop down  on horsemen and stage coaches divesting their victims of cumbersome gold and jewelry.  They also appear to have been popular with the ladies, if several paintings and woodcuts can be trusted that show the bandoleros on horseback serenading women troubadour-style.

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They also were on hand to rescue damsels in distress.

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These cats aren’t as lucky.

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We also visited the Plaza del Toros, the bullring, one of the most revered in Spain, according to our travel guide.  Although it only seats 5,000, it’s circumference makes it one of the largest in Spain.  Hemingway, of course, was a paying customer here.  You can read about his association with the town here.

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Still, one of the town’s coolest attractions is the Hotel Enfrente Arte, Spain’s answer to New York’s famous Chelsea Hotel.  I failed to mention in my previous post the wonderful breakfast they serve, which like beer and wine, is included in the daily rate.  A vast array of culinary delights are available.  My favorite was quail eggs and bacon with tomato on toast, brought to your table with a loud ta-da by the gregarious chef.

Our last night in Ronda, we hit another Flamenco show.  Although inferior to the performance we caught in Jerez, this one did feature a female dressed to the nines who was very impressive.  As she stomped her feat and contorted her body, an occasional bangle would disengage from her costume and fly across the stage.

Here she is the afternoon before the performance with one of her fans.

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Like all good things — long-running sitcoms, bottles of Jamesons, happy marriages — our stay in Ronda had to come to its end.  On Thursday, we retrieved our rental car and made our way down to Vejer, which I have dubbed the Beirut of Southern Spain.  Here, we’re going to visit our first beach, so stay tuned.