Vain the ambition of kings
Who seek by trophies and dead things
To leave a living name behind,
And weave but nets to catch the wind.
School’s been cancelled. After all, a hurricane has made landfall half-a-continent away in the Central Time Zone and tomorrow may pass a hundred miles north of us.
Picture an angry old man cycling his fists like John L Sullivan itching for a fight. [Not me, cycling my fists, the personified hurricane].
So here I am literally the only customer at Chico Feo, sitting on a rain-soaked stool distraught as I contemplate what TS Eliot called “the immense panorama of futility and anarchy that is contemporary history.”
It’s little recompense that on Chico’s sound system the so-limited but oh-so-cool baritone of Lou Reed is celebrating “a magic moment as sweet as wine.” And now it is — was — David Byrne with sugar right there on his tongue – and now Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman.”
My one-time housemate James Paul (aka Mike) Rice used to listen to Donovan back in ’74. Mike was a romantic (still is, I suspect, if he’s alive). Donovan’s Greatest Hits is a treasure trove of hyper-romanticism. For example, indulge me and check this out:
I hadn’t heard from Mike until about four years ago. In fact, it was the day Judy and I first met with her oncologist to confirm that indeed she had cancer, probably a lymphoma; he hoped it was a lymphoma. Awkwardly, I cut Mike off and said we had a doctor’s appointment.
Anyway, Mike had called to tell me that the University of South Carolina Press was considering publishing the manuscript that he had mailed me months ago, the one, he said, “that I was probably too busy to read.”
Oops. I still had the manuscript so starting ripping through its lush prose. It was about the antebellum world of Denmark Vesey and a made-up slave woman named Lucinda.
The plot propelled me right along, but occasionally a technical problem would intrude, a slight violation of point-of-view or the omniscient narrator’s voice lapsing too poetic, reminding the reader that this was historical fiction, not real life.
USC rejected the novel, so he revised it, and the very next publisher he sent it to, Knox Robinson, accepted it.
He ended up dedicating the novel to I-and-I:
“To Wesley Lee Edward Moore III, a real Charlestonian.”
The only problem is I’m not from Charleston. It should have read to WLEM3, a real Summervillian.
Unfortunately, I’m no longer the “onliest” (as we sometimes say in Summerville) customer at Chico’s. An old genial man named Alex and some know it all 30-something are droning on about biking on James Island, swapping various adventures.
Swat! A mosquito. Bartender Jen has fronted me some repellent, which I slapstickishly spray onto my sunglasses. This, the same day that I ‘ve ruined a relatively new shirt by placing an uncapped blue pen in its breast pocket . . .
[Cut to footage of Category 4 Hurricane Michael ripping apart people’s houses . . .]
Anyway, poor Mike has serious kidney issues and spends an inordinate amount of his time on dialysis and will no doubt end his life in the dark shadows of the First or Second Trump Administration.
Talking about “futility” and “anarchy.” Somehow the warranty has run out on the Founding Father’s clever contraption, and a narcissisticwanna-be mobster who looks like a clown and runs the country like a second rate criminal enterprise is in some stadium inciting furious white people to chant “lock her up” while he blusters about how unfair it was that Brett Kavanaugh didn’t receive proper due process.
Here’s Kavanaugh, who prides himself on hiring females, pushing his wife out of the way at his signing ceremony.
Whoa, Donovan has reappeared. “Hurdy Gurdy Man.”
A couple of weeks ago Mike left a whispering message on my landline. I’ve called him back a dozen times but no answer,
And so it goes.
Nevertheless, thanks, maybe, to the panhandling flattening fury of Michael, a pleasant breeze has kicked up at Chico, which should blow away the mosquitos. The thirty-something has moved away from me to sit next to Alex, so I can barely hear him.
“As a small boy, he told me, Dylan . . .”
Hey, Mike, Do not go gently into that good night.