Paul Harvey, Prophet

paul harvey prophet (original)

The prophet Paul Harvey and I go way back.  I first heard the silken gravel of his voice emanating from my grandfather’s radio circa 1960.  Kiki, as we called our granddaddy, and his two younger children had in their spare time the peculiar* habit of barricading themselves in their rooms for hours (in my grandfather’s and aunt’s case, years) listening to AM radio (he) and Barbra Streisand records (she).

My uncle also hid in his room listening to jazz when he wasn’t working on a spy ship or at the Navy Yard, but he was the breadwinner in this close knit but distant family (They all lived together but rarely communicated with each other). In addition to the radio, Kiki also played the ukelele, sang, and yodeled.  He also enjoyed an occasional half pint of whiskey he hid in his shoes.

“Hey, Kiki, what’s this?”

“Hey, what you doing in that closet?  Get out of there!  Don’t you tell your grandmama, you hear?

“Yes sir.”

*I wish I could find a more positive adjective, but none come to mind. 

9. Hellman'sCrow.jpg*

aged in a canvas shoe for up to two hours

Anyway, Kiki was a Joseph McCarthy conservative, and Harvey was the 1961 precursor of Fox News, i.e, a welcome antidote to the liberal bias in network news (The News and Courier, on the other hand, was about as liberal as John A Stormer).  Being only 10 or so, I didn’t have a clue about politics, but even back then I detected something false in Harvey’s voice, an echo of hucksterdom, the intonation of a Snake Oil barker.

At any rate, Paul Harvey like so many things from that era – Silly Putty, dammit dolls – had faded from my memory until one of my Facebook “friends” linked via Glenn Beck what they considered an uncannily accurate prophecy Harvey had issued in 1965.  You may listen to it here, if you dare, but I’m going to deconstruct the prophecy  via the transcript.

The conceit here is that Harvey is impersonating Satan, the Father of Lies, in corrupting the nation by whispering abominations in the citizens’ ears.

To wit,

“If I were the devil … If I were the Prince of Darkness, I’d want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I’d have a third of it’s [sic] real estate, and four-fifths of its population, but I wouldn’t be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree — Thee. So I’d set about however necessary to take over the United States. I’d subvert the churches first — I’d begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.’”

That’s right, dear reader.  Turn off the damn contraption you’re reading this on, go sell everything you own, and give it to the poor.  Also, forget about binge-watching this weekend.

“To the young, I would whisper that ‘The Bible is a myth.’ I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what’s bad is good, and what’s good is ‘square.’ And the old, I would teach to pray, after me, ‘Our Father, which art in Washington…’*”


*Whose initials now happen to be DJT and who recently has described himself as “the second coming.” Wonder what Harvey would make of the Donald.


That’s right, the Bible isn’t a myth; it’s literally true.

For example, displeased with his creation, God orders Noah to gather a male and female from every species – Aardvarks (because they don’t have cloven feat, a Middle Eastern delicacy), Bengal tigers, polar bears, etc.  – and place them on an ark so they can survive a world deluge.  After the flood, Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk, passes out naked, is seen by his gossiping son Hamm, then is covered by sons Shem and Japheth.  Noah wakes up and creates an apology for slavery when he punishes his indiscrete son and his descendants: “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.”

No way that’s not all literally true (even if it does call to question the God’s choice of Noah as the the progenitor of the world’s population).

noah

Rant on, Prophet Harvey:

“And then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting, so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies and vice versa. I’d pedal narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.”

“If I were the devil I’d soon have families that war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations at war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames. If I were the devil I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions — just let those run wild, until before you knew it, you’d have to have drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.”

Now, I have to admit the drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors do seem prophetic for 1965. Maybe Harvey should have added, “I’d whisper to politicians to shift welfare dollars from the poor (we’ll always have them) to farm subsidies (where they’ll enable the idolators who worship Mammon even wealthier).  So without a chance of bettering themselves, these children of poverty will turn to crime.”

“Within a decade I’d have prisons overflowing, I’d have judges promoting pornography — soon I could evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, and then from the houses of Congress. And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls, and church money. If I were the devil I’d make the symbols of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.”

Indeed prisons are overflowing.

The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 109 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals …”

Imprison the black cannabis user; award the manufacturers of Xanax massive tax breaks.

ap-pfizer-ceo-resigns-4_3

Pfizer CEO Ian Read’s total 2018 pay fell to $19.5 million [sob]

“If I were the devil I’d take from those, and who have, and give to those wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And what do you bet? I could get whole states to promote gambling as thee way to get rich? I would caution against extremes and hard work, in Patriotism, in moral conduct. I would convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun, that what you see on the TV is the way to be. And thus I could undress you in public, and I could lure you into bed with diseases for which there is no cure. In other words, if I were the devil I’d just keep right on doing on what he’s doing. Paul Harvey, good day.”

Which reminds me of an old joke:

Q: What’s the difference between AIDS, genital herpes, gonorrhea, and a time-share condo?

A:  Gonorrhea.  You can get rid of gonorrhea.

Good day!

Pay Per View Presents Clash of the Cults

zootsuit-riots

Vincent Valdez, “Kill the Pachuco Bastard!,

 

 

Pay Per View Presents Clash of the Cults

boxcars, boxcars, boxcars, Allen Ginsberg, “Howl”

 

I say let’s have a Bernie Bro

Trump Troop Arena Brawl,

Brought to you by Ben and Jerry’s and Chick-fil-A.

 

Let’s go all out, cheerleaders for sure.

Elizabeth Bruenig in a nun’s habit for Bernie,

Rashida Tlaib in a diaphanous burka booing.

 

The Bros chanting,

“Go, Bernie, Go.

Do the Trotsky like Madame Blavatsky.”

 

On the other side,

Sarah Huckabee, Sarah Huckabee, Sarah Huckabee,

 

Lindsey in a 50s collegiate letter sweater

Shouting through a megaphone,

“Gimme an M, gimme an A, gimme a G . . .

 

The five Republican SCOTUS appointees should referee.

Clarence “Coke Can” Thomas with a whistle around his neck,

Dangling beneath his assortment of chins,

Bret Kavanaugh, eyes blinking, lips pursed,

Emitting tiny Ivy League farts

With hints of peppermint schnapps.

 

Oh, my brothers and sisters,

What shall we call this extravaganza?

 

Clash of the Cults?

 

Dunno.

Just an idea.

 

Nilla Puddin’: The Return of Rap’s Most Inept Practitioner

nilla-pudding

 

 

Y’all hear that thumping bass line, boys and girls,

That means that Nilla Pudding’s about to take a stab

 

Let’s start the New Year right, dat right, right,

Not wrong with some sappy tune.

 

Dat there bass don’t seem enough

Let’s add some drums to the mix-ture

 

Oh yeah, that sounds better

Some guitar for the icing

Might make the mix more en-tertaining.

 

Uh-uh, now we’re crusining.

 

As you know, Nilla Puddin’ is my name

And rapping is my avocation

 

Busting rhymes left and right

Got a back-up sound that’s so so taut

 

As taut as a tick, it’s so so ill

Gonna give my posse a spine shudder

 

Diggin’ it sistah?

Gonna give my vocal chord a blistah

 

You catch the rhyme

 

I’m on a roll

Jelly Roll Morton

 

Dr. Thomas Horton

 

Beth Orton

 

The smile on her mouth

Was plagerized

 

Unsantitized

 

Oh, shoot, I gotta go,

The grits be boiling overflow

 

Like I said Nilla Pudding is my name

And rapping is my avocation

 

 

22 November 1963

 

huxley-marcocau-nl

[Credit: marcocau.nl.

This Friday marks the 56th anniversary of the death of Aldous Huxley.

Midmorning on that day as a fifth grader, I sensed something amiss.  Miss McCue’s eyes were red, and she sniffled as we hunched over our worksheets, but for whatever reason, she decided not to tell us that author of Point Counterpoint had checked out of this Motel 6 of woe for superior lodgings in that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns.

I guess she figured the news would bewilder us or that it would be better coming from our parents.

triple final headline

I found out on the school bus from a sixth grader, Steve Ripley, who seemed delighted at the prospect of Huxley’s not producing any more novels that might be assigned as book reports.

I, on the other hand, was devastated by Huxley’s passing because his novel Brave New World had given me reason to hope that the 21st century was going to be a blast – an endless hallucinogenic phantasmagoria that included indiscriminate sex with a variety of partners.

What a miserable weekend with football games cancelled and regular programming preempted.  What’s an early late empire tween to do but stare at the short bio on his dog-eared copy of Chrome Yellow and think Huxley was alive when the book was bought.

51PzwtLhLiL._SL600_

Sandwiched between the passing of eminent composer Cecil Forsyth on 7 December 1941 and American author Alice Stewart Trillin on 11 September 2001, Huxley’s death was especially eerie given that a very famous someone also expired on that day.

That’s right.  CS Lewis also died on 22 November 1963, a day that will live in infamy.

But let’s end on a positive note.  Those fifty years have come and gone, and many of Huxley’s prophecies have come true – we live in a hedonistic age to the tune of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes.”  As days pour at increasingly swift rates through our lives’ hourglasses, what can we do but embrace Richard Wilbur’s sage advice:

It’s almost noon, you say? If so,
Time flies, and I need not rehearse
The rosebuds-theme of centuries of verse.

If you must go,

Wait for a while, then slip downstairs
And bring us up some chilled white wine,
And some blue cheese, and crackers, and some fine
Ruddy-skinned pears

                                        “A Late Aubade”

Fun Tips for a Fantastic Halloween

blobfish

After a Saturday of crushed dreams (Volunteers devouring the Gamecock Nation whole) and last night’s Washington Nationals World Series triumph, I should probably draw the drapes, take to bed, and place a camphor-soaked handkerchief on my forehead.

But no, despite being infused with a tragic vision that makes Cormac McCarthy’s world view seem like a Cialis commercial, I take mouse in hand and swerve my despair Lucretius-like into some positive tips for unusual-themed Halloween costume combinations, especially suited for undergraduate bio majors.

mccarthy

Cormac McCarthy, 1992 Cormac McCarthy, 1992
© Gilles Peress/Magnum Photos 

One thing that makes these costumes unique is that, not only are they frightfully hideous, but they also form a Darwinian food chain of predation, a theme that should frighten anyone who has seen Jaws or read Camus’s La Peste.

CJohnstonHeatPlagueL

Chris Johnson’s Heat Plague

So Let’s start at the bottom down for our first costume, an alga known as Gephyrocapsa oceanica.

300px-Gephyrocapsa_oceanica_color-1

Making this costume would be a breeze.  Just buy three dozen tutus, scissor off the bodices, and dye the skirts scum green.  Staple the tutus in a circular combination as above, leaving the bottom hollow.  Traverse the tutu openings with strong pieces of Styrofoam wrapped in green crepe.  As Bob Dylan put it in “I Shall Be Free No. 10,”  “Wowee, pretty scary.”

Next up, how about a pelagic sea slug?

seaslug

Glaucus atlanticus

This cool-looking devourer of algae actually only measures ~2.5 cm, but who’s counting?  For the costume, two possibilities come to mind.  You could go for the above picture in a two-person, two part, donkey-head/donkey tail configuration, but I’d advise for a costume that mimics the illustration below so you can walk upright.  All you need is a close-fitting white Garboesque dress, strips of blue fabric, and a 100 or so ostrich feathers dyed blue.

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Sea slugs are one of the many delicacies upon which the star-nosed mole feeds.  This strange creature’s eyes disappear in utero and are replaced by a series of fan-like appendages.  You could go as an embryonic (but sort of too cuddly in an Olympics-mascot-sort-of-way) star-nosed mole (see below),

embryo

but I’d go ahead and opt for the scarier full adult version:

star-nosedmole

You could almost adapt a gorilla costume sans head and attach some red chili peppers (or rooster-comb red dyed sea sponges) to a white Lone Ranger mask, then attach spray-painted pez dispensers sans heads to gloves to create this truly hideous being that can smell underwater as it tunnels through east coast marshes.

The star-nosed, by the same token, offers owls a tasty if somewhat fishy-tasting  mammalian repast.*  Of course, whoever opts for the owl costume in your posse is going to be the least unusual creature, but still, given the multiplicity of owl species, you’re sure to find one your your liking.


*Think river otter but stringier.

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One last suggestion, though it doesn’t fit in this particular food chain (it’s a denizen of the Pacific and is inedible ) is the Blobfish, a sort of hybrid of Rodney Dangerfield and the baby in Eraserhead.  Hell, unless you have some marine biology PhD candidate at the party, no one is going to know the difference.

blobfish

Blobfish

So, boys and girls, have fun horrifying folks with the random mutant horrors of evolution as you blast Barry McQuire’s “Eve of Destruction” from your dorm windows!

 

The Doggerel-Gone-It Impeachment Blues

andrew-johnson-impeachment-summons-340x191

 

The Doggerel-Gone-It Impeachment Blues

 

The stench of wet coal, politicians . . .

Ezra Pound, “Canto XIV”

 

Johnson’s impeachment occurred so far back.

No one can remember the Tenure of Office Act.

 

Once upon a more recent time,

J Gordon Liddy committed a crime,

 

a burglary some have called third rate,

which led, of course, to Watergate.

 

Dick Nixon was forced to take the fall

(in those days Republicans sported balls),

 

which sadly isn’t the case today.

They had Goldwater; we have Graham.

 

Weak-willed Bill Clinton in the Oval Office

ran afoul of a couple of orifices,

 

creating quite a sordid mess,

alleged perjury, a stained blue dress.

 

Yet the Senate voted not to convict,

(though most agreed he was a prick).

 

So here we are again, forsooth,

dealing with presidential abuse:

 

The number of allegations should give us pause:

obstructing justice, violating the Emolument Clause,

 

withholding aid for dirt in a quid pro quo.

The days go past, the catalogue grows.

 

I say let’s subpoena those stories killed by the Enquirer

so we can extinguish this orange dumpster fire.

 

It’s time we got back to something like normal

With a Commander-in-Chief less hormonal.

How Not to Generate a Dating Profile

wes and yorick

I’m sure we have a lot in common

 

People tell me I haven’t missed anything at all by never really dating someone I hadn’t known rather well. The fact is that I’ve never dated a stranger, except for a blind date that was sprung on me without my knowledge when I visited an out-of-town cousin. It was a double date at that, and I was exclusively seeing someone else, which I mentioned to my blind date right away.

I did go on one other date in college with a girl from my hometown I didn’t know well, but we had had a couple of long conversations, and I could tell she was interested.  Plus, we had a host of mutual friends, so it wasn’t as if we needed to strain to find something to talk about.

My late wife Judy Birdsong and I had worked together for months in a bar before we started seeing each other, so we were very comfortable together.  It wasn’t like meeting a stranger for coffee to see how you got along.

judy wes beth's reception

Judy and I a decade or so ago

Similarly, my wife Caroline and I had been friends and members of the same book club for five years before we started our romance, so ditto.

Caroline and Wes Tides-2

Caroline and I

So the long and short of it is that I’ve never created a dating profile for eHarmony or any of the other dating platforms, which no doubt is a good thing because I’ve never really known anyone who has successfully cultivated a lasting relationship through electronic dating (or whatever you call it).

I guess, you need to market yourself, to choose a flattering image, and then to present your personality in a way that would make a congenial spirit willing to devote a few hours in your company.

As a thought experiment, I thought I’d create a theoretical dating profile, just to see what it would be like.

So I filled out this dating profile generator I found on-line.[1]  It asks you questions, you supply answers, and it creates an introductory essay.

Here’s what it came up with.

Good day ladies!

I’m a learned sort of gentleman, who likes nothing more than drinking with the right woman.

The first thing people usually notice about me is my ironic personality, closly (sic) followed by my smashing legs. I am not one of those fake people who pretends not to notice their (sic) own qualities. My legs and ears are top notch. These gems of honesty are just part of the learned person I am.

I work as a retired teacher[2], helping students. This allows me to exercise my skills: eloquence and humor. I would like to tell you about the time I met Dizzy Gillespie, which is true, but it’s important to me that you know I’m honest, so I’ll save the wilder parts of my life for another time.

My life goals include:

  • Meet Eric Idle
  • Become the best retired teacher I can be
  • Help all the students in the world[3]

If you’re the right woman for me, you’ll be intelligent and kind. You won’t be afraid to skinny dip and will have a healthy respect for integrity.

My ideal date would involve writing in Folly Beach with a tall woman by my side. While we’re there, I compliment your proportional face.

Honesty and openness are the most important qualities in a relationship. I will be honest with you, if you will be honest with me. I will never hit on your best friend whilst (sic) you’re visiting a sick relative, never text my ex behind your back while you’re asleep, never post naked photos of you on Facebook. That’s just the kind of gentleman I am.

A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat, eh?

I urge you, get in touch,

Kingbeat

 

As the youngsters say, OMG! Believe it or not, I chose “earnest” as the type of profile I wanted.


[1] From its diction, I’m pretty sure this thing originated in the UK.

[2] Work by not making lesson plans, not grading papers, not teaching classes, not attending faulty meetings.

[3] By remaining retired.

Bring in the Clowns

Probably no creative artist in history can match the universal adoration that Master Will Shakespeare enjoys (well, would enjoy if not dead for 403 years).  However, a recent biography claims that when his theatre company, the King’s Men, travelled to Whitehall to entertain James I, the actors actually served their royal patrons meals between performances.

Imagine the author of King Lear approaching some drooling Hapsburg-lipped hemophiliac with the greeting, “Hark, I’m William Shakespeare, and I shalt be thy server this evening.”

His much scrutinized signature?  An autograph unsought.

The fact is that Elizabethans and Jacobeans looked upon actors and playwrights the way we old folks do fire eaters and tattooed bearded ladies.  Amusing, perhaps, but not the sort we want visiting our homes.  Of course, nowadays, entertainers are the royalty: Sir Mick Jagger.  Sir Nick Faldo.  Sir Johnny Rotten (just wait).

Johnny Rotton sporting slimming vertical stripes

On the other hand, poets remain as impoverished as ever.  For example, when appointed, Poet Laureate Billy Collins taught at two different universities to make his mortgage. As my man, Willie B, whined so exquisitely in “Adam’s Curse”:

[. . . ] A line will take us hours maybe;

Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,

Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.

Better go down upon your marrow-bones

And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones

Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;

For to articulate sweet sounds together

Is to work harder than all these, and yet

Be thought an idler by the noisy set

Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen

The martyrs call the world.

[muffled sob]

Well, if you happen to be reading this post on lifted wifi in a drafty garret as you warm your hands over a burning pile of rejection slips, here’s a suggestion in how to augment your income.  Start touting yourself as a body language expert.

It’s as easy as lying.

Just apply the analytical process you use in interpreting poems to the dress, postures, and mannerisms of celebrities.  For example, courtesy of Us magazine, here’s body language expert Patti Wood on winsome Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock.

She is gripping the coffee cup very high up [. . .] That’s what you do when you really want to grab a hold of something and show your power.  She’s really making it obvious and playing toward the camera to show that empty [i.e., ringless] finger.

[snip]

Bullock also is wearing a black North Face jacket, black ball cap and scarf around her neck.

She’s chosen a heavily padded jacket and has it zipped up very high,” observes Wood. “The choice of her scarf, which is tied over heart, means that she is hiding her heart window and throat window, which is the communication window.”

As you might know (and congratulations if you don’t), Sandra Bullock’s story book marriage (as in Creepy Comics story book) to dashing motorcycle mechanic/television personality/daredevil Jesse James ended when she discovered hubby James had been trysting with “tattoo model and stripper Michelle ‘Bombshell’ McGee” [Wikipedia].  James’ previous, not-so-winsome wife, adult film star/producer Janine Lindemulder, had battled James the year before for custody of their daughter Sunny.  James, whose cocky sneer might outnumber Shakespeare’s pate in a Google image search face-off, has conceded having “made bad decisions” (i.e., committing adultery over an 11-month period with someone who goes by “Bombshell”) but blamed his transgressions on his abusive father, who once when 7-year-old Jesse tripped over a wire, “laughed at [him] and called [him] a dummy” New York Daily News.

No wonder Sandra has shrouded her heart window, opened the trench coat of her naked ring finger, and covered her communication window in tinfoil.

* * *

Poets, I guarantee you that Body Language Guru Patti got paid more for her analysis of Sandra’s ensemble than you did the last time you got published.  What was it? Two complimentary copies of the flimsy issue that featured your open wound of a love poem?

I bet we can do just as well as Patti Wood.  All we need is a degree from an on-line university, and we’re in business.  Let’s give it a shot.  Here’s a photo of disgraced Ponzi Master Al Parish in his glory days before the hook of law-and-order yanked him off the stage of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce production of No New Taxes. He’s in his eleventh years of a twenty-four year sentence at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in Raleigh.  Bernie Madoff is also an inmate there.

 

Al Parish, aka Economan

Piece of (purchased cheese) cake:

Falstaffian in appetite, Professor/Post Courier columnist/ official Chamber of Commerce economist Parish wraps himself in regal purple to accentuate his ties to the powers-that-be.  Even though his 300-plus pounds of sidewalk dominating heft might catch the eye of the blind man selling pencils on the corner, grey and black swirling patterns on purple demand even more attention, screaming I’m comfortable in my 24-square yards of skin, parachute-sized fabrics, jumbo-sized Cadillac.  Note how jauntily he cocks the angle of his right jowl across the 12-lane highway of his lapel – lapels that steeply climb his belly, that Great Divide of his torso and legs.  He’s at once a king and sycophant, a mogul and court jester

 And yet – and yet – the ensemble displays Rorschach-like signals of chaos ahead, his left shoulder bearing a hurricane-like swirl, his tie twisted like a cyclone, both boldly streaked in ominous black . . . 

Like, I said, it’s as easy as lying.

In Populous City Pent

 

Far from our southern border where children torn from their parents languish in cages, the din of a Midtown Manhattan construction project is wreaking genuine havoc.

Think Noah’s Ark:

How for so many bedlam hours his saw

Soured the song of birds with its wheezy gnaw,

And the slam of his hammer all the day beset

The people’s ears.

But here, we’re talking jackhammers, pile drivers.

Dig this from yesterday’s NYT:

Ms. Brown, who has lived on the block since 1969, blames the cacophony in part for her new $5,000 hearing aids.

Her miniature poodle, Dorian Gray, has been even more affected: he’s taking Trazodone, a tranquilizer. (“One tablet orally up to three times daily as needed for calming during construction,” the bottle helpfully directs.)

[snip]

Apart from Dorian Gray’s anxiety, Ms. Kelly’s dog, Lola, now shakes even when the jackhammers are idle. The cat living at No. 66, Titania of the Greil, is “overgrooming” and fighting irritable bowel syndrome, while Meadow at No. 51 is a “nervous wreck.” Birds on the block have stopped singing, one resident complained.

Poor Dorian, no more languid lolling, alas.