A Sub-Literate, Sorrowful Not-Walt-Whitman Hitching

walt hitching

I missed a bus in Baltimore, and with no place to stay, restless, desperate, running low, I thought I’d try to hitch a ride.

I should have known. Ain’t no decent man gonna pick up a hoary-headed hobo nowadays.

I stood on the shoulder, stuck out my thumb, squinting down the highway through the afternoon exhaust, hoping that some good Samaritan might stop.

Eight hours later, round about one or so, a jacked-up pick-up pulled over, one of them monster pick-ups, black, four-door, with a stunted back seat of sorts.

“Hop in, old man,” the driver snarled. “Let’s go. Ain’t got all night.”

I slung my bag into the bed, climbed my way way up, and slammed the door.

The passenger rolled up his window, the driver grabbed the wheel, put the pedal to the metal, war-hooped a holler, laid some rubber, and we was on our way.

The two of them wore their baseball caps backwards, nothing but kids, white, maybe twenty or so, but right off I could see their eyes lacked light, like they was lost.

(And I could’ve been sleeping in that depot waiting for the morrow).

“How much you plan pay us for this ride?” the driver drawled. “We ain’t no commies, ain’t got no use for no freeloaders.”

I told them I was bust broke, that if I had me some money, I wouldn’t be standing on the side of a highway at one a.m. in the morning.

The passenger punched me in the chest, slapped my face, and while I was wallowing, jacked my wallet.

The driver pulled over, hopped out, slung me to the ground, climbed back in, then drove off with my bag in the back rattling around in the bed of the truck.

That was a month ago. I’m back in Mayo now writing these so-called adventures on scraps of paper.

I keep them on my person, in the pocket where my wallet used to be, so on the day they find me dead, they’ll know a bit about me.

A Review of Punditry re. the Republican Debate

Jimmy Carter, one of the Right’s favorite punching bags, commented recently that the United States was no longer a democracy but an oligarchy. Although perhaps hyperbolic, Carter’s comments do highlight some uncomfortable facts. For example, according to the New York Times, “fewer than four hundred families are responsible for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign, a concentration of political donors that is unprecedented in the modern era.”

Not surprisingly, one of the most pressing issues for these donor families is the abolition of estate taxes.   How many family estates pay taxes, you might wonder? In 2015, 1.2% of the population paid “death taxes” as the Koch brothers call them, or the “Paris Hilton tax” as EJ Dionne of the Washington Post labels them.

Of course, loopholes large enough for not only camels, but also elephants and asteroids to pass through are there for the exploitation, so when you get down to it, the effective tax rate for the estates of this 1.2% of the population boils down to a paltry 16.6% on average. And get this, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, only “20 [that’s 4 x 5 = 20] small business and farm estates nationwide owed any estate taxes in 2013.”

So does repealing the estate tax make any sense for a government that spends in excess of 600 billion dollars a year on defense alone?

You betcha, if you’re one the Koch brothers or the other 400 families who have raised half of the money flowing into these so-called super PACs.

Next question. How many of the Republican presidential candidates are for the abolishment of estate taxes?

[cue sarcastic laughter]

Which brings me to last Thursday’s presidential debate, which I sort of watched while checking out tweets. (Given my delicate sensibility, my enduring such a grotesque circus is tantamount to drinking that rancid pre-colonoscopy concoction).

More to my taste is reading the pundits’ “takeaways.” Who were the winners and losers?

Well, here’s Hoodoo’s run-down of the conventional wisdom.

The BIG WINNERS according to the pundits:

Carly Fiorina

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18:  Carly Fiorina, former CEO of the Hewlett-Packard Company, speaks at the Heritage Foundation December 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. Fiorina joined a panel discussion on the topic of

As far as biography goes, Ms Fiorina, the daughter of a law school professor, dean, and federal judge father and a portrait/abstract artist mother has the advantage of growing up in relative poverty, despite the fact that her parents gave her a grand piano as a wedding gift. She touts her career arc as rising “from secretary to CEO,” and it’s no lie.

During summers while attending Stanford, she worked at Kelley services, and after dropping out of UCLA’s School of Law, she served time as a receptionist at the real estate firm Marcus and Millichap. Later, she earned an MBA from Maryland and a Masters in Management from the Sloan School of Management at MIT.

Obviously, she ain’t no dummy, and besides that, she’s articulate and quick on her feet, attributes she displayed Thursday night and a rare commodity among most of the other “contestants” on the stage of what seemed more like a gameshow than a debate.

So I agree with the CW on Fiorina. Don’t be surprised if she ends up being a vice presidential choice, despite her first ex-husband Todd Bartlem’s accusation that during their marriage she had an affair with her soon-to-be second and later ex-husband, Frank Fiorina, a senior executive at ATT. Obviously bitter, Bartlem told that paragon of journalistic excellence the Daily Mail that Fiorina “los[t] her humanity” in a “pathological” pursuit of power.

In her memoir Tough Choices, she describes the marriage’s dissolution this way: “While we were married, we weren’t peers.”


Marco Rubio

rubio_perplexed_master_0Like Carly Fiona, Rubio was also lucky enough not to be a beneficiary of great wealth. (Some people have all the luck; sorry, Jeb). In fact, Rubio’s father worked as a bartender, as Marco likes to boast.

CW went gaga over Rubio’s performance. He took on Hillary’s claim of “living from paycheck to paycheck” to great applause and spoke of the 100K of student loans he racked up and repaid in full, though he wisely didn’t mention the $80,000 boat he purchased while paying off his loans, his liquidating a $68,000 retirement account, nor did he mention his failure to make mortgage payments on his home for five months, nor the fact that he had a lease of $50,000 on a 2015 Audi Q7.

Now that’s what I call living from paycheck to paycheck in style!

I disagree with the CW that Rubio was a big winner because of his statement that he doesn’t believe in abortions even if the mother’s life is at stake.

Not to mention rape and incest.

I can see the Hillary commercial now. Female voiceover, pregnant mother with damaged fetus that threatens her life makes the excruciating decision to abort. Cut to subsequently born happy white children skipping towards a swing set to be pushed by surviving, smiling mother.

Or, how about a couple of shots of the baby in David Lynch’s Eraser Head?

John Kasich

pic_related_111014_SM_John-KasichOnce again Kasich is fortunate to come from modest means; his father was a mail carrier.

During the debate, I agree he was very effective. His response to why he had expanded Medicaid was superb, essentially, “duh,” who in her right mind wouldn’t?

Though the pundits universally adored it, I was less impressed with his non-answer on how he would explain to his hypothetically gay daughter why he doesn’t support marriage equality. Rather than saying, “because the Bible tells me so” or “I believe that sexual orientation is a choice,” he dodged the question and boasted that he had recently attended a gay wedding and added, “If one of my daughters were that, of course, I would love them.” (my italics)

Well, duh, who in his right mind wouldn’t?

Still, if you’re a rational Republican willing to compromise on your contempt for the poor, Kasich strikes me as eminently electable.


Jeb Bush

I actually think Jeb was a loser and agree with Frank Rich’s assessment that Bush speaks “with all the conviction of a robo-call.” He needed to create some sparks and didn’t.

Plus the poor bastard is a scion of one of the 1.2% of the families who will have to pay some estate taxes when #41 passes from, in Richard Wilbur’s words, “this rotten/Taxable world to a higher standard of living.”

Scott Walker

walker super durpThe conventional wisdom — too scripted — which maybe was a good thing. I can’t find to share the mean-spirited image flashing its way through cyberspace the night of the debate, a motion gif that makes Dukakis in that iconic attack ad featuring him in a tank look like Sean Connery’s James Bond in comparison.

So the picture above will have to do.

Mike Huckabee

An articulate spokesman for the 5th Century BCE, but will his message appeal to 21st Century voters?

Chris Christie, Rick Perry, et al



Rand Paul

Rand Paul

Though some have touted him a winner, most see Rand Paul as a loser, and I agree with the latter. To break out of this pack, you need charisma, and in Paul’s case, a new hairdresser.

And last but not least

Donald Trump.

ptbOh, where is HL Mencken when we need him?

Dead and gone to hell, according to all these men and woman of faith.

I so wish someone had asked Trump about his metaphysical beliefs. Perhaps he would have identified himself as the Messiah.

I would, though, if I were Fox News, not be so gung-ho in expelling him from Republic contention. As my favorite saint, Teresa of Avila, famously put it, “More tears have been shed over answered prayers than unanswered prayers.”

A Trump independent candidacy would doom the Republicans.

Bottom line: All these candidates seem to care about are rich folk and fetuses.

That may be enough if you have the 1.2% shoveling unlimited money your way. For as PT Barnum said and Donald Trump’s ascendency proves, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

The Not-So-Official Donald Trump Campaign Theme Song

Campaign theme songs go all the way back to Andrew Jackson’s “The Hunters of Kentucky” with these inspiring lyrics:

We are a hardy, free-born race,
Each man to fear a stranger;
Whate’er the game, we join in chase,
Despising toil and danger.
And if a daring foe annoys,
Whate’er his strength and forces,
We’ll show him that Kentucky boys
Are alligator horses.

Sometimes candidates choose already established tunes, like FDR’s appropriation of “Happy Days Are Here Again” and JFK’s employment of “High Hopes.”  Other times candidates commission original songs as Barry Goldwater did with the all but forgotten Tom McDonnell and Otis Clements number “Go with Goldwater.”  These songs are often flops. I seriously doubt that any of you codgers out there remember the ’68 election campaign song “Nixon’s the One.”

Nevertheless,  I can’t tell you how honored I am to have chosen myself to compose the theme song for Donald’s Trump 2015 campaign, which is entitled, appropriately enough,  “Donald Trump, We’re so Pumped.”  Let’s hope it ends up being more successful than the Republican candidate’s 1972 theme song “Nixon Now,” which you can experience for yourself here.

the donald

To be sung to the tune of “The Mickey Mouse Club Theme Song”

Ah, one, a two, sing:

Who’s the man in the GOP,

Whose best for our country?

D-O-N-A-L-D T-R-U-M-P!


Not Bush, Not Walker, Not Carson!

They’re as bland as they can be

D-O-N-A-L-D T-R-U-M-P!


Donald Trump!

We’re so pumped!

Donald Trump!

He’s on the stump!


Let’s raise a middle finger and fuck propriety:

D-O-N-A-L-D T-R-U-M-P!


Come along and join the throng

On the road to prosperity

D-O-N-A-L-D T-R-U-M-P!

He has a solution, embraces pollution,

Gets results, slings insults.

(Who cares if the rest of the world is retching?)


Who’s the alpha of the pack,

Who can heal our sick country?

D-O-N-A-L-D T-R-U-M-P!


Hey there! Hi there! Ho there!

He’s as angry as you and me,

D-O-N-A-L-D T-R-U-M-P!

Donald Trump!

We’re so pumped!

Donald Trump.

He’s on the stump!


Come along, let’s sing the song

And start a P-A-C

D-O-N-A-L-D T-R-U-M-P!


Yay Donald!

Yay Donald!

Yay Donald Trump!


Foreign_Affairs_Tom_WaitsI-and-I, that’s right, Mr. Hoodoo Man he-self, boon companion and devoted supporter of Mr. John Jameson, lover of hoppy craft beer concoctions, not to mention spicy Sunday morning bloody marys, has voluntarily climbed aboard that proverbial wagon that refuses to stop at taverns, bodegas, juke joints, and roof top bars.

Or to put it more succinctly, he’s quit drinking alcohol.

Why, you ask? Has Mr. Moore been stumbling in at 3 a.m. and slapping around his beloved consort Judy Birdsong?

Of course not.

Has he found that drinking has adversely affected his social life?

To the contrary.

Okay, is he chronically late, a no-show sometimes? Does he hire barmates to grade his essays? Does he put himself in risky situations? Is he a frequent visitor to emergency rooms?   Has he gotten a DUI? Recently made a complete and utter ass out of himself?

No, no, no, no, no, and “not that he is aware of.”

Why then?

The answer is vanity. Recently, he saw photographs of himself at his son’s wedding and realized that his once David-Niven-like svelteness had ballooned into a girth approaching Hitchcockian proportions. And even though he now possesses a Falstaffian paunch, his arms and legs have maintained the emaciation of his 97-pound-weakling adolescence.

John Falstaff by Eduard Von Grutzner

John Falstaff by Eduard Von Grutzner

He’s too vain to post a photograph, but picture a four-month pregnant Mick Jagger and you get the picture.

Why not cut out those empty calories? Why not give it a try?

So how has he been spending those hours not spent in drinking establishments?

Listening to songs about substance abuse, that’s how, and he’s come up with a list a few killer song lyrics devoted to over-indulgence, like this classic from Willie Nelson:

The night life ain’t no good life, but it’s my life.

Not only that, he’s going to provide sound samples to go along with a few of his favs. So sit back and enjoy


(I know it lacks that Buzzfeed allure of botched plastic surgeries).

Okay, we’re going to start with John Hiatt’s “Paper Thin,” whose first sentence has the panache of the opening of a well-crafted short story. Listen.



Here’s how the song ends:



(Saw John about a year ago in concert.  Here’s the REVIEW).


Okay, for our next lyric on substance abuse, let’s go way back to my tenth grade year of 1968 and the Butterfield Blues Band’s “Drunk Again.”  The song’s by Elvin Bishop and features the domestic trauma drinking can cause.  Here’s a snippet:



Of course, as Bob Dylan famously tells us in “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” — “I started off on burgundy but soon hit the harder stuff” — alcohol is the ultimate gateway drug.  I betcha ain’t nobody ever shot up heroin who hadn’t started out on the road to perdition with wine or beer. You start off seemingly innocuously with a PBR and the next thing you know your rolling up bills and snorting cocaine or worse.  Here’s John Hammond, Jr’s superb cover of the Tom Wait’s classic “Heart Attack and Vine”:



That’s right:

Boney’s high on china white;

Shorty’s found a punk

You know there ain’t no devil;

that’s just god when he’s drunk.

Well, this stuff will probably kill you;

let’s do another line.

What you say you meet me

down on Heart Attack and Vine.

Love can be a drug, they say.  Wasn’t Robert Palmer “addicted to love?”  Here’s the great Lucinda Williams making the analogy:


C’mon, Lucinda.  You know what Willie B Yeats sez:  “Never give all the heart for love . . .

Okay, let’s end this thing on a positive note.  The resurrection of Tim Finnegan via Irish whiskey.  Here, the Clancy Brothers describe how dead Tim’s corpse is brought back to life during a drunken brawl at his wake, which is the song that gave rise to James Joyce’s last novel.




Mickey Maloney ducked his head
when a bucket of whiskey flew at him
It missed, and falling on the bed,
the liquor scattered over Tim
Now the spirits new life gave the corpse, my joy!
Tim jumped like a Trojan from the bed
Cryin will ye walup each girl and boy,
t’underin’ Jaysus, do ye think I’m dead?”

Come to think of it, quitting drinking altogether seems anti-Buddhist.  Maybe the middle way would be better.  Lose weight by exercising, eating healthily, and limiting one’s intake to a couple a day?

Sounds like a plan.

Elegy for Saisy Joy


Our Saisy never really shook off that early abuse,

the beatings, starvation, the two-foot chain.

She’d wince when you went to pet her,

snap if you rubbed her head for too long.

As her rescue “foster mom” in Statesboro put it,

“That gal’s got her some food issues.”

Like stealing bread and hiding pieces ‘round the house,

gobbling down the rankest roadside carcass, knocking over

garbage cans, consuming their rotten whatever.

Afterwards, her Stygian, Technicolor diarrhea

would ruin our rugs.


Yet the rescuer’s daughter named her Joy

for that dervish dance when you’d grab a leash.

She’d rear and buck like a bronco, jump, hump her back,

swivel in a circle, smile like a very happy cartoon dog.

And what a beauty! that black slick fur, the brown undercoat,

distinctive of one of her breeds, the German Longhaired Pointer part.

On the beach or through the woods to the dock she’d strut,

a country beauty proud of her charms.

Indifferent to birds and squirrels, she hated cats,

despised UPS trucks. Her frantic bark was acquainted

with the dark — PTSD the vet once guessed.


That morning there would be no dance. She had died

in her sleep, and lay there on the rug peacefully unaware,

her eyes closed. She didn’t look dead, was barely cold,

but her teeth were clenched: no more biting, eating,

romping, barking, being. She hadn’t seemed sick,

was playful during her very last walk twelve hours ago.

To her it probably wouldn’t matter much, the vacancy

we feel when we return from work or a trip.

I can still see her, though, at the top of the stairs,

beginning that dance, nodding her head, smiling,

humping her back, clicking her nails on the wooden floor.

saisy profile (original)

Miss Saisy