A Kennel of Doggerel for Donald



Guess what? Sometimes the past isn’t prologue.

Take, for example, Donald J Trump.

The pundits just knew he’d sink in the slog

slinging that shit out there on the stump.


Looks as if the pundits were wrong

to base their predictions on Bachmann and Cain,

who got off to strong starts in 2008

but ended up missing the convention-bound train.


They’re not Trump. Both lacking and defying gravity,

he bloviates brandishing a bloodstained skewer.

Confronting him seems like sheer insanity —

like picking a fight with Jessie Ventura.


Guess what? Sometimes the past isn’t prologue.

Take, for example, Donald J Trump.

The pundits just knew he’d sink in the slog

slinging that shit out there on the stump.


Jessie Ventura, former Governor of Minnesota

Jessie Ventura, former Governor of Minnesota

5 Things I Wish I Could Experience Before I Die

A performance of King Lear with Van Morison in the lead role and Keith Richards as the Fool.

keith and van








An NPR on-location story that doesn’t begin with some goddamned sound effect like a pile driver a-driving (story on beachside construction), a trickle of water a-trickling (story California’s drought), twelve stentorian obese sleepers a-snoring (story on sleep apnea laboratories).







The sight of Andrew Dice Clay and Howard Stern kissing on screen in a remake of Broke Back Mountain.







The discovery of a lost semi-nude painting of Jane Austen.










A restorative cure for alopecia.

hoodoo man b & wIMG_2580 copy








Art v. Life

climax_salomecroppedWhen aesthetes like Oscar Wilde or critics like Harold Bloom proclaim that “life imitates art” or “Shakespeare invented the human,” I imagine people rolling their eyes and thinking, “Puh-leez!”

Of course, their adopting these mannerisms confirms Wilde’s and Bloom’s claims. No doubt cinema popularized eye-rolling as a fetching way to express exasperated contempt, and “puh-leez” as in “give me a break,” probably can trace its origins from somewhere in Sitcomland.

What Wilde meant is that artists’ rendering of what they perceive provides the inartistic with images they project onto world, and in the case of characters from literature, models for imitation:

Consider [Wilde writes] the matter from a scientific or a metaphysical point of view, and you will find that I am right. For what is Nature? Nature is no great mother who has borne us. She is our creation. It is our brain that she quickens to life. Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the Arts that have influenced us. To look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees its beauty. Then, and only then, does it come into existence. At present people see fogs, not because there are fogs, but because poets and painters have taught them the mysterious loveliness of such effects. There may have been fogs for centuries in London. I dare say there were. But no one saw them, and so we do not know anything about them. They did not exist until Art invented them. Now, it must be admitted, fogs are carried to excess. They have become the mere mannerism of a clique, and the exaggerated realism of their method give dull people bronchitis. Where the cultured catch an effect, the uncultured catch a cold.
“The Influence of the Impressionists on Climate”

Claude Monet: Le Parlement, effet de brouillard

Claude Monet: Le Parlement, effet de brouillard

To follow up on the second point, from the Renaissance on, literature has provided models for imitation for playgoers and readers eager to customize their personas. For example, males for 4+ centuries have channeled Hamlet, donned black and parroted his depressive wit; clever girls, in turn, have modeled their personalities on Elizabeth Bennet, that arch, articulate social critic. Perhaps the most copied “type” for males of my generation is the Hemingway code hero. Nick Adams and Jake Barnes wannabes around the world have embraced wounded, stoic, epicureanism for going on a century. On a less grandiose scale, Bogart as Sam Spade, John Wayne as, well, John Wayne, and Aubrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly have also offered archetypes for imitation.

Come to think of it, perhaps exotic Papa Hemingway deserves some praise/blame for our current culinary obsessions.

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and to make plans.”
                                                              A Moveable Feast


In the late Victorian era, the aestheticism of Pater and Wilde reeked of decadence. Who could take Pater’s advice “[t]o burn always with this hard gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy” if employed as a grocery boy, seamstress, coal miner, or pedagogue?

No, you had to loll your days away reading the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” in exquisitely decorated gardenia-scented rooms (while across town some tailor pricked his finger hand crafting the smoking jacket you had commissioned).

 Hidden by the Sleeve of Night and Morn by Edmund Dulac

Hidden by the Sleeve of Night and Morn by Edmund Dulac

Nowadays, few folk perceive decoration as decadent, though decorators have been conspicuously gay, as have been hair-dressers, fashion designers, and at least nowadays on King Street, male salesclerks in clothing stores. The effeminacy of caring about what flowers to place where perhaps only occurs in Late Empire cultures. (I don’t see Dan Boone fussing over container of black-eyed susans). And, yes, many grandsons of D-Day GIs are now uncloseted metrosexuals, and I say this is a good thing.

Certainly, I’d prefer to imbibe my afternoon Colt 45 Malt Liquor pinot in James T Crow’s pleasant arts-and-craft cottage overlooking the Folly River than seated upon motel-like furnishings in a condo overlooking the Mount Pleasant Bypass.

So, excuse me as I slip down to to snip some begonias from the garden. We might disagree about what is beautiful, but we can all agree that beauty beats its alternatives.

Hoodoo Living Quarters

Hoodoo Living Quarters

Why I’m Voting for Hillary in the SC Primary

luggage-pileMy dear departed high school English teacher, Mrs. Clarice Foster, taught us to make concessions early if inconvenient facts got in the way of our arguments. Say, for example, I chose pragmatism over ideology in determining whom to support for the Democratic nomination. In that case, Mrs. Foster would have me admit right away that Hillary and Bill Clinton have accumulated “some baggage” in their quarter century of public life, though she would probably frown if I quantified that baggage as “a boxcar full.”


There’s “Clinton fatigue,” for example, the “been-there-done-that factor,” a definite negative in an ADHD nation brought up on quick cut editing.

Fire-breathing lefties also wag chiding fingers at Mrs. Clinton for having forged positive relationships with some denizens of Wall Street and for getting rich (god forbid).

More problematic, for me personally, is her tendency on occasion to reverse stances on issues for expediency’s sake.

Need we add that “vaulting ambition,” the phrase Milton uses in to describe Satan in Paradise Lost, might also apply to Hillary?

hillary satanNot to mention her occasionally awkward public presentation, her unease on the stump, what some have called her “unlikability.”  Indeed, some have depicted her as the female equivalent of the Prince of Darkness.

Enter that septuagenarian Galahad, Bernie Sanders, who unlike Hillary, was for gay marriage before she, Bill, and Barack Obama, and except for his recent flip flop on gun control, has been remarkably consistent over the years with his insistent socialist message.

More than any other candidate, Bernie cares about the widening discrepancy in the distribution of our country’s wealth and understands how oligarchy rends the fabric of national cohesion.

Nor has he spent his years in office accumulating riches – his net worth is reported to be a paltry (by politicians’ standards) 700K.[1]

Given these choices, why would I choose to support the seemingly more flawed Hillary over the seemingly purer Bernie?

Here’s why:

  1. If in the unlikely event he were to defeat the Republican nominee, Sanders would have absolutely no chance of getting his agenda passed in Congress.[2]
  2. More troubling, he seems clueless when it comes to foreign affairs. Just today he suggested we immediately normalize relations with Iran, a leading sponsor of terrorism.[3]
  3. He’ll be pushing 80 at the end of his first term (cf. your aged relatives).
  4. But most of all, I don’t want Ted Cruz (or John Kasich, for that matter) nominating the next three Supreme Court Justices. No matter what unreliable nationwide polls say about hypothetical match-ups, Bernie Sanders’ nationwide appeal is limited essentially to white liberals. Trust me, people who aren’t paying attention yet – in other words, a majority of the electorate – aren’t going to fall in love with, much less vote for, an irascible ideologue with unruly hair who is branded as a socialist ad nauseum in negative Republican ads, especially if fear of terrorism is a major campaign issue.[4]

I’ve seen this movie before. It starred Edmund Muskie, George McGovern, and ended very badly.[5]


Anyone who claims that there’s no difference between Hillary and the Republicans needs to take a remedial reading course. As a matter of fact, Hillary and Bernie share strikingly similar positions on issues. Unlike every single Republican candidate, they both believe in human acerbated climate change, higher taxes for the wealthy, abortion rights, free community college, diplomatic engagement as opposed to war, etc.

In addition, they both see government as a positive force rather than an anathema. The disheartening news is that neither is going to be able to get legislation through a Congress in which Republicans control both houses. So the contest between them boils down to a choice between someone less liberal and Machiavellian but deeply schooled in international relations to one who is more liberal and principled but seemingly clueless when it comes to foreign affairs.

Unfortunately, I sense a sort of bandwagon effect going on with Bernie among younger voters who are starting to vilify Hillary in Facebook posts. I witnessed the same sort of vibe with McGovern back in the day, i.e., being for McGovern was cool, and that if you weren’t, you would be banished to Squaresville by your hippie peers.

 berniesanders_1Immune to Bernie’s charisma, I opt for pragmatism over cult of personality when the bottom line tells me that a Sanders presidency means no meaningful implementation of his agenda. His purview is narrow, almost exclusively domestic, so I don’t trust him as a vigorous analytical surveyor of the incredibly complicated issues of international diplomacy.  But most importantly, his chances of actually garnering 270 electoral votes are nil.

Even if he were elected, Bernie Sanders was born before the attack on Pearl Harbor — imagine the equivalent of a Pearl-Harbor cyber attack, some North Korean master sabotage of our collective computer systems.

Whom would you rather see in charge, Bernie or Hillary?

The stakes are Himalayan in this election: No matter what happens in the presidential contest, Republicans will continue to control both houses of Congress, and with a Republican president and a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, no telling what might be in store – gigantic tax cuts for the very richest, the privatization of Medicare, an escalation of everything Bernie Sanders detests.

Cast a colder eye, millennials.

[1] Which, by the way, is 600k more than his Marco Rubio’s. Hmmm.

[2] Although Sanders promises to break up the “big banks” via executive action, this claim has been met with doubt from both the right and left. Here’s Matthew’s Yglesias’s take.

[3] Imagine the negative Republican commercials.

[4] By the way, I nailed the electoral vote counts in a prediction on September 14th before the last election, so I do possess a smidgen of credibility here.

[5] Though nowadays, the Republican Party has moved so far rightward that “mainstream’ Jeb Bush makes Nixon look like Leon Trotsky in comparison.

Misbehavior and Punishment

Detail from Viktor Semenovich Vilner - Embankment, Scenes from Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’, 1971

Detail from Viktor Semenovich Vilner – Embankment, Scenes from Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’, 1971



Sniggering little schoolboy, keep that up,

and I’m sending you

to detention

in Raskolnikov’s room.


Is that what you want?


Exile in






A tiny cupboard of a room

about six steps in length.


Toxic urine-colored

paper peeling off its walls.


So low-pitched, the ceiling will

transform you into a hunchback.


One rickety chair.


A slack-springed

sofa for your bed,

chintz gone to rag,

a ratty overcoat for covers,

a balled-up terry cloth bathrobe

for your pillow.


Worse, a tattered copy of

Atlas Shrugged

on the bedside table

to be annotated.


Sniggering little schoolboy,

Is that want you want?


If not, cut it out.


Right now.


Thank you.


A Taste of Folly


hoodoo headquarters

Outside of Hoodoo Headquarters

11: 10 a.m. Saturday 16 January 2016

As the sun arcs across the bluest of skies on this glorious Saturday of a three-day weekend, why squander my benevolent mood by overturning the rock of US politics and commenting on the spectacle of the scurrying vermin underneath?

Let’s not go into Trump and Cruz bouncing off the ropes of Thursday’s debate delivering forearms and leg kicks like Jessie Ventura and Nikolai Volkkoff.

Let’s not revisit the pairing of Lindsey Graham and Jeb! standing awkwardly abreast at yesterday’s endorsement like Muff and Jeff .

jeb and lindsey

photoshopped cartoon by WLM3

And what about this century’s remake of the 1972 Democratic contest with Hillary Clinton in the role of Edward Muskie and Bernie Sanders playing George McGovern?[1]

Enough! Already I feel dyspepsia roiling the previously pacific pools of my stomach acid.

No, I’m headed to the closet to don my pith helmet for another episode of “Hoodoo Anthropology.” Today, my adopted hometown Folly Beach celebrates its annual culinary extravaganza a “Taste of Folly, which I’ve never checked out, so I’m curious to see what type of crowd the festival attracts. You would think attendees might be a bit more subdued than the roisterers who descend for Folly Gras and Follypalloza, but frankly, I dunno.

What I do know is that the streets have been cordoned off, draught beer is flowing from sidewalk taps, and, of course, the chefs of Folly have taken extra care to present their signature dishes.

1:30 pm

Your intrepid reporter/anthropologist (IRA) and his spouse/assistant (SA) park their bikes at Chico Feo. Charlie, bartender extraordinaire, informs them that a bluegrass trio will be performing at 5, and that the owner/proprietor/chef (OPC) Hank Weed has set up a station offering a taste of Chico on the main drag that bisects this seaside community.

We cover the block to Center Street on foot.


Over time, your IRA has developed mild anxiety when enmeshed in the amoeba-like pulsations of a crowd. SA Birdsong is hungry, a happy coincidence, but the lines for food are long along the bustling thoroughfare. As luck would have it, the queue for the Jack of Cup’s (JOC) curry is manageable, so the two split up; SA Birdsong procures two bowls while IRA goes inside the saloon to obtain a beer.

As sometimes happens in small villages, sitting right outside of the JOC are two friends, Larry and Jed, who offer an area of the table where SA and IRA can stand and enjoy the absolutely delicious combination of rice, potatoes, curry, peppers, etc.


Jack of Cups Curry

Since Larry has been on site since “the crack of eleven,” he has procured a wristband that allows him to transport beers as a pedestrian.

wrist band

“Since when do you need a wristband to drink at a Folly festival?” IRA asks.

“It’s new this year,” Larry says. “It’s not too bad. Costs a buck. They make it efficient.”

“Maybe so, “ IRA thinks, “but here’s another instance of government complicating the lives of citizens.” He wonders where Cruz, Trump, and Bush might stand on the issue.  No doubt nanny staters Bernie and Hillary are all for it.

As IRA enjoys his beer, someone approaches him from the back and begins to tenderly massage his shoulders. Out loud IRA wonders who it might be — Emmylou Harris? Chrissie Hynde? Margo Timmins? Ambrosia Parsley?

No, it’s Vinnie Folly Beach’s most prolific songwriter.



“You know what,” Vinnie says, “I’m going to get drunk today.”

IRA: “You are?”

Vinnie [emphatically]: “Yes I am. You know why?”

IRA: “Nope.”

Vinnie: “Because I got drunk last night, and I can’t get over it.”

Two beers are long enough for IRA to determine that the visitors for a Taste of Folly are very much like the visitors to the other festivals. Bands play, like at any other festival. There’s a Jump Castle (JC) for the kiddies, like at any other festival.

Bottom line: the festival goers seem to be having a fairly good time.


SA and IRA arrive home safely via bikes. Decompression time before Chico Feo 5pm bluegrass trio.

[1] Dream tickets: Sanders and Sharpton vs. Cruz and Cotton in a “the-center-cannot-hold” contest.

Random Thoughts on This and That

I hate it when columnists/bloggers go all ADD and cop out with slapdash hodgepodges entitled “This and That” or “Some Random Thoughts.” I see it as an abnegation of journalistic responsibility, a way to avoid the rigor of crafting a coherent piece on something of interest. How dare they take the primrose path when I’m bored and need intellectual stimulation!

CYdZHyuVAAAokvLThere’s so much out there that begs for thorough study. This week, for example, we have the death of David Bowie, whose passing has generated an enormous outpouring of almost unanimous praise. Sure, when Lou Reed checked out of this Motel 6 of Woe in October of 2013, his death generated a fair amount of interest, but compared to Bowie’s passing, the media response was like Joey Bishop’s dying versus Johnny Carson’s.

I would have never guessed Bowie enjoyed such widespread reverence. I’m not surprised that countercultural, leftwing naysaying card-carrying hedonists like I-and-I were drawn to his androgynous flamboyance/chameleon-like iterations of personae, not to mention to his music, an eclectic body of work that ranged from sunny pop to three-chord rock to apocalyptic ballads to funk to disco and finally atmospheric jazz.

But dig this, even NASA’s official Twitter account paid tribute: “And the stars look very different today.’ RIP David Bowie.”  Also, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron: “I grew up listening to and watching the pop genius David Bowie. He was a master of re-invention, who kept getting it right. A huge loss.” Add to those worthies Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space! [1]

What does this outpouring of love from the mainstream for the fellow pictured below say about our culture?


One of you latterday de Tocquevilles needs to get off your lazy ass and get to work because I’m moving on to another story in the world of sports.

The following attention-grabbing first sentence comes from ace ESPN New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss:

OXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones had a bad reaction to a substance “that is not illegal” on Sunday, which led to him being admitted to a local hospital, sources tell ESPN.

Was it a really bad case of poison ivy, which, believe it or not, is legal in all 50 states?

Not exactly:

On Wednesday, citing a source familiar with the situation, the Boston Globe also reported that Jones did not overdose on a drug such as cocaine or heroin. The Globe reported that it was synthetic marijuana, which is not illegal in the state. Jones lives near the Foxborough police station, and he walked there to seek help after the bad reaction.

As it turns out, Jones and I share much in common. Not only did I not overdose on a drug such as cocaine or heroin on Sunday, but I also live so close to the police station in my community, I could walk there if I were to ever get a bad reaction from legal synthetic marijuana, but come to think of it, I’d probably opt to seek succor at a different venue.

Oh, yeah, and you’ve probably heard that filmmaker Jon Ritzheimer, undaunted by the poor review I gave to his previous movie, has just released yet another motion picture.

This one is an action flick in which the self-styled militiaman, one of the “ring leaders” of the occupation in Oregon, goes ballistic after receiving sex toys in care passages.

Frankly, I find his performance here much more riveting, more genuine.

Let’s just hope he’s not read this Twitter thread in which clever non-patriots mock the Bundy Boys with imaginings of what those lonely nights in the Oregon hinterlands must be like:



Has anyone asked those patriots about Bowie’s passing? C’mon journalists, get the lead out. By the way, did you know Bowie’s real last name was Jones, just like the New England defensive end’s? And that “jones” is term that druggies use to describe an addiction?

[1] On the other hand, my prayers that I could find something positive Paul Ryan had to say about Bowie have been fruitless, nor have the Cruz, Bush, Huckabee, or Santorum campaigns responded to my emails asking them to comment on Bowie’s death.

From Summerville to Folly Beach: Tales of Intoxication

Folly Beach Tales of Intoxication

Trigger warning: The following post tells the story of the first time I got drunk and mentions common topics of intoxication like lying to one’s mother, entertaining foolish possibilities, dancing on tables, and vomiting a retainer-like false tooth out of the window of a moving Oldsmobile going at least 70 mph on an Interstate Highway.

Here’s the sad story of the first time I got drunk, a tale of self-inflicted woe, a narrative featuring Brazilian exchange students and bad choices galore.

It occurred on a Saturday night in the late fall of 1969 when three Summerville High juniors and two Brazilian exchange students decided to skip the parent-sanctioned dance at the American Legion Hut and head to Folly Beach for some more sophisticated fun. My pal – I’ll call him Arthur – had connections, could get us in a Citadel Senior Party. We’d be posing as college students from Wofford in a daring act of James-Bond-like subterfuge [cue 007 guitars].

I was all for the change in venue, Folly Pier trumping American Legion Hut for sure. And who knows — it was not out of the realm of possibility — I could conceivably find myself in the arms of some jaded older almost-woman and receive backseat tutelage in the arts of love — about which I had only the slightest of cinematic clues.

It was possible. That very July we had put a man on the moon.

None of us were at the legal beer drinking age of eighteen at the time, but in Summerville in those days, that was not, as the sales clerks say, a problem. If you were tall enough to be able place a quarter and a dime on the counter of S_______’s Grocery, Mr. S________ himself would go back to the cooler and procure for you a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, place it in a brown paper sack, and presto — fun ahoy! – off you drove.

Our driver was the late Gordon Wilson, a capital fellow, and my other friend — I’ll call him Gene — was someone I’d known for so long we’d been playpen mates.

Two Brazilian exchange students, Paulo and Jacó, who were staying with Gordon, also accompanied us. As it turned out, these two would be our saviors, or at least Jacó would. Thanks to his anti-samba sobriety, his reckoning of his own safety, he volunteered to chauffeur us home (despite not having a valid South Carolina driver’s license).


Sure, he got confused about which way to go and got us stuck for a while in a sand dune, but with the help of Good Samaritans, we – make that the Samaritans — somehow extracted the Olds, and we made it home, not only alive/unparalyzed, but in my case, undetected by my parents, even though the doors were locked and I had to crawl through a window (and in my condition my locomotion would make Buster Keaton look like Rudolf Nureyev).  

Okay, I’d be lying if I tried to turn the party into a coherent narrative.

Montage time:

Inside the Folly Pier. Bright lights. Beach music. Citadel cadets, their dates. Bottle-guzzling. Flirting. What you see when looking down from a table you’re dancing on at a Citadel Senior Party.

Slipping and falling and getting up laughing.

Now, I’m in the car. After a long time of not, the car is moving. What’s his name’s driving. We’re going fast. I’m puking out of the window.

I awake, not unlike despair-racked Satan on the burning lake of fire in Paradise Lost; only, actually, I’m in my bed in my underwear and desert boots.


No need for montage here. I remember all too clearly.   It felt like someone had jabbed and twisted a screwdriver in the base of my brain after water boarding me during my unconsciousness with bile from Jackie Gleason’s liver.

I vaguely remembered something about my tooth missing. I felt with my hand. No, it wasn’t in my mouth, nor on the dresser, nor in either pocket of my wadded up Levis. Not in the front pocket of my vomit besplattered shirt, whose smell almost prompted a heave. No, my fake tooth was long gone, runover, crushed, obliterated somewhere along the shoulder of I-26.


I’ve never liked lying, and I’m not good at it. But on this occasion I lied to my mother. I told her I had gotten sick at the dance (technically true) and gone out to vomit (technically true) and lost my tooth somewhere outside the American Legion Hut (patently false).*

She asked me if I had been drinking.

“No ma’am.”

The American Legion Hut in Summerville
The American Legion Hut in Summerville

She went to look for the tooth because I was in no shape to. I felt fearful and wretchedly guilty, my mother on a Sunday morning scavenging in vain among the discarded beer cans and cigarette butts in the grass of the yard of the American Legion Hut.

The next week, though, Mama got her revenge and tricked me into telling the truth.

The following Saturday, Gordon and I stayed out to 2 am, and when he pulled up to my house, I said. “I sure hope my parents are asleep.”

Like I said, Gordon was a capital fellow. He smiled and said, “Isn’t that them sitting there?”

There, there, very there, as Iago sort of says in Othello, sitting in lawn chairs on the edge of the yard, the tips of their cigarettes glowing orange dots. Gordon let me out without pulling into the driveway, and after offering a meek wave to my parents, drove off down Dogwood Circle.

No, I had not been drinking. I blew into their faces my untainted breath, whose purity did practically nothing to abate my father’s fury. He kicked me in the back of my legs as I walked up the steps. Mama told me that Gordon’s mother had told her Gordon had gotten drunk last week and so had I. I fell for it, cursed Gordon’s mother, which resulted in an “ah-ha!” Mama said she had made that up to trick me. Now I think of it, she probably was lying herself, covering for Mrs. Wilson.

Lies beget lies.

My punishment: I was told that I could no longer be me. I had to start dressing like a preppy and to change my attitude.

But, of course, that was impossible. Like Bob Dylan had sung in that record going on ten years old, I was beyond their command. I did, though, have to go to school without a false front tooth for a month. Being a redhead and freckled, I looked like a skinny Alfred E Neuman. (By the way, that’s actually my head photoshopped on the male hula-hooping dancer on the comic).


So I did suffer for my sins and still feel guilty for sending my mother on that wild goose chase. Let’s not forget that “The evil that men boys do live after them./The good is oft interred with their bones.”

*See first comment below.

A Little Attention Is a Dangerous Thing

Editor’s Note: Sir Reginald Verbosoclast, whose opinions do not necessarily reflect those of You Do Hoodoo, is the author of today’s guest post.

Sir Reginald Verbosoclast

Sir Reginald Verbosoclast

A little attention is a dangerous thing, as Alexander Pope is reported to have remarked to Lord Petre after the latter allegedly snipped a lock of Arabella Fermor’s hair, an incident that famously led to the launching of a thousand ships in a demitasse (as anyone familiar with the Sparknotes summary of “The Rape of the Lock” is well aware).

Via non sequitur, take Jon Ritzheimer, one of the intrepid so-called “militia-folk” who in an act of brilliant performance art has mock-heroically taken over an abandoned federal building in rural Harney County, Oregon. Ritzheimer, whose name, by the way, is German for “cracked homeland,” began his theatrical career in his one-man ballet entitled, appropriately enough, “Fuck Islam,” an outdoor performance in which he marched back and forth in front of a Phoenix Islamic Community Center wearing a tee shirt emblazoned with those very provocative words.[1] The success of this one-man show led to a sequel called “Freedom of Speech Rally Round II,” a larger production hailed by Loonwatch.com as “the height of irony.”

Mr. Ritzheimer performing the storm scene from "King Lear"

Mr. Ritzheimer performing the storm scene from “King Lear”

Lately, Mr. Ritzheimer has transitioned into film, producing a series of one-man shows distributed by YouTube.   His most recent premiered four days ago, a satiric piece in which he mocks contemporary American sentimentality. The 13-minute monologue begins with Ritzheimer’s alter ego fighting back tears as he declares his love for his wife and daughters, an obvious parody of that stale trope developed by Phil Donahue and seen countless times on celebrity interview shows like Oprah and Ellen. He then launches an epic catalogue of paradoxes castigating as tyrannical a government that allows him not only to march in front of a mosque wearing the aforementioned tee shirt, but also legally to amass a small personal armory.

Although the film is well photographed from the dashboard of his vehicle, Mr. Ritzheimer’s performance is, well, in this critic’s opinion, wooden. It lacks, in a word, verisimilitude. In other words, you can tell he is an actor playing a role. Nevertheless, Mr. Ritzheimer is obviously a very talented and charismatic performer whom I dare say we haven’t seen the last of.

Believe me, I know. There’s nothing more addictive than amassing YouTube views.


[1] For the sake of clarity, Mr. Ritzheimer, not the community center, was wearing the tee shirt. Ed.

Hank and Townes: Long Gone Daddies

hank and townesToday, January 1st, marks the anniversary of the deaths of two great American songwriters, Hank Williams in 1953 and Townes Van Zandt in 1997.   In addition to their coincidental departure dates, these two shared a lot in common.

They were both long and lanky long gone daddies with dark hair and eyes, and they both had what my granddaddy called “jug ears.” In fact, judging by these two accompanying photographs, I suspect that a DNA test would discover a shared ancestor in the not too distant past.

cropped hankdrunkcropped townes

More significantly, they also possessed the rare ability to create memorable melodies with song lyrics that can stand alone on a page without musical accompaniment.

First Hank:

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill.

He sounds too blue to fly.

The midnight train is whining low.

I’m so lonesome I could cry.

Then Townes:

Everything is not enough.

And nothin’ is too much to bear.

Where you’ve been is good and gone.

All you keep’s the getting there.

Well, to live is to fly, all low and high.

So shake the dust off of your wings

And the sleep out of your eyes.

Theirs was a tragic vision.  To quote Richard Sewell:

[The tragic vision] recalls the original terror, harking back to a world that antedates the conception of philosophy, the consolations of the later religions, and whatever constructions the human mind has devised to persuade itself that the universe is secure. It recalls the original un-reason, the terror of the irrational. It sees man as questioner, naked, unaccommodated, alone, facing mysterious, demonic forces in his own nature and outside, and the irreducible facts of suffering and death. Thus it is not for those who cannot live with unresolved questions or unresolved doubts, whose bent of mind would reduce the fact of evil into something else or resolve it into some larger whole.

Like their artistic archetype Edgar Allan Poe, throughout their abbreviated lives, they were besieged by “demonic forces in their own natures,” and like Poe, they attempted to neutralize those demons through drink and more exotic drugs — in Hank’s case, chloral hydrate and barbiturates, and in Townes’s, codeine and heroin.

However, when it comes to self-destruction, I don’t think either EA or Hank could hold a candle to Townes Van Zandt. Supposedly, Poe gambled to augment his stepfather’s meager allowance, but in Townes’s case, his gambling seemed a deep-seated masochistic addiction.

According to John Kruth’s biography, To Live’s to Fly, not only did Van Zandt literally lose shirts off his back, but in one card game, he also lost his gold dental inlays, which he pulled out with pliers and delivered on the spot as payment.   He also had the propensity to give all his hard earned money away to winos after getting paid for a gig.  Like a crazed character out of Dostoyevsky, he seemed to seek out suffering, perhaps for the sake of his art.


Year after year,

bottle after bottle,

for the sake of the song,

stumbling full throttle,

gig after gig,

swig after swig,

staggering through life,

for the sake of the song.


’97, New Year’s Day,

home from the hospital

he slipped away —

one hand on his heart,

the other on his flask —

the weight of the world

suddenly gone slack,

his windswept world,

forever gone black.


Some say he suffered

for the sake of the song,

cultivated sorrow

for the sake of the song.


Rot gut, suicides, needles, yellow fever,

all the hurt in the world out West,

took up residence in his hollow heart,

like a stick-stirred rattlesnake’s nest.


For the sake of the song,

for the sake of the song,

they say life is short,

but art is long.


For the sake of the song,

for the sake of the song,

right might not be right;

wrong might not be wrong.



RIP, boys.