The Full Fellini

Adelson, who makes Trimalchio look refined, turned Ted Cruz away from his suite after Ted's traitorous speech

Adelson, who makes Trimalchio look refined, turned Ted Cruz away from his suite after Ted’s traitorous speech

After a rather ho-hum Tuesday night at the Republican convention, Wednesday night proved to absolutely captivating theater, a Roman spectacle worthy of the great Italian film director Federico Fellini.

Adelson's luxury suite

Adelson’s luxury suite

Besides pyramid schemers and dowdy astronauts, the speakers included, and I present them with the sobriquets The Donald bestowed upon them during the primary campaign:

Dopey Scott Walker



“The simple truth is liberal Washington insiders created these problems. And Hillary Clinton is the ultimate liberal Washington insider. If she were any more on the inside, she’d be in prison.”


Little Marco Rubio



“She planted the seeds for the disaster we now know as Obamacare. She was an ultra-liberal senator and a reliable vote for crony capitalism, Wall Street bailouts, middle-class tax hikes and out of control government spending.”


Lyin’ Ted Cruise



“And to those listening, please, don’t stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”


Second son Eric Trump



“Wow. Wow. Good evening, Cleveland. Wow. It is such an honor to be here for a man I love so, so, so so much. That’s my father.”



Newt and Callista Gingrich



“To paraphrase Ted Cruz if you want to protect the constitution this fall the only possible choice is Trump/Pence.”



And, finally, Mike Pence (who if he had opposed Trump in the primary would no doubt be known as “Beady-Eyed” Mike).


“For those of you who don’t know me — which is most of you — I grew up on the front row of the American dream. My grandfather immigrated to this country. I was raised in a small town in southern Indiana, in a big family with a cornfield in the backyard. Although we weren’t really a political family, the heroes of my youth were President John F. Kennedy and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”


Unlike Walker and Rubio, who swallowed their pride and forgot about earlier Trumpian aspersions and voiced support for the nominee, Cruz seemed to resent having Trump call him a liar, his wife ugly, and his father a conspirator in the JFK assassination. He more or less told the convention not to vote for Trump.  This colossal snub elicited a mob-screech of displeasure from the delegates.  Poor Mrs. Cruz had to be escorted out by security for protection, and Sheldon Adelson turned Cruz away when he tried to enter his luxury suite (see above).

Of course, the featured speaker Pence became a mere footnote as he dutifully filled the arena with blandishments.

Oh where have you gone. Federico Fellini, a nation turns its late empire eyes to you!



Political Correctness Academy

Warning: Through no fault of the author’s, the following fascinating and informative piece contains language that marginalized people may or may not find offensive.

* * *

You’ve no doubt all heard the probably specious story that Eskimos have something like 300 or 600 or 300,600 different words for frozen water whereas we denizens of warmer climes only have a handful – sleet, snow, hail, slush, etc. The idea is that because they spend so much time dealing with frozen water they can distinguish subtle differences in its consistency and so it follows that —

Beep Beep Beep!

Un-oh, a new word processing app I just purchased, Offensive Connotative Terminology (OCT), has just generated a pop-up that informs me that “Eskimo” means “raw meat eater,” a pejorative name given to them by enemy tribes to the south and that E-words would rather we refer to them as Inuits, even though, as it turns out, Inuits do in fact eat raw meat. (No wonder then that there is a paucity of synonyms in the Inuit language for fire).

Fellini's "Little Person" nun from his film "Amarcord"

Fellini’s “Little Person” nun from his film “Amarcord”

I’ve lost my train of thought. Where was I? Oh yeah, that creepy obsession Fellini and David Lynch have with midgets. What’s the scoop on that?

Beep Beep Beep!

The damn thing’s gone off again. Looks like the word “midget” set it off. Let’s see, here’s a link in the pop-up that might offer an explanation.


Midget, denotation, “very small fly.” Popularized by PT Barnum and therefore associated with freak shows. Politically correct alternatives, “little person,” “dwarf,” “person with dwarfism,” or “person of short stature.”

Forget it, no way I’m going to write about Fellini and Lynch now. Try crafting a sonorous sentence with “person of short stature,” and to my sensibility “midget” conjures a less ominous image than “dwarf,” but anyway, I gotta go. I think I used “midgets” instead of “dwarves” in a piece I wrote about Folly Beach’ s freak show of a tavern, the Sand Dollar Social Club, a while back, so I better go back and edit it. [LINK TO SAND DOLLAR PIECE]

Beep! Beep! Beep!

OTC Suggestion: replace “freak show” with “side show.”

Okay, that’s it. I’m out of here.

The Krushtones + The Sand Dollar Social Club = Federico Fellini


The Sound Track

One of the most pleasurable rites of spring celebrated in the Lowcountry each year occurs at the Sand Dollar Social Club on Folly Beach when the Krushtones take the stage for their annual April gig.

[Cue country preacher]: We’re talking glorification, brothers and sisters, talking bout light!

Krush-tones: (krùsh’- tõns) n. a band that features high-Watt[s] drumming; a bodacious bottom; a searing, eloquent guitar; and a latter day Jerry Lee Lewis on keyboards.


I swear, even if they were a mediocre band, the Krushtones’ taste is so exquisite I’d pay to hear the song sets. Al Green/Talking Heads, the Beatles, Stones, Chuck Berry. But mediocre they ain’t. They exude this palatable vibe of happiness that spreads in concentric circles as if a pearl has been dropped into a pool of sound.

Make you want to dance and holler hallelujah!


The Venue

The Sand Dollar itself is difficult to categorize. As a private social club, it offers all of the exclusiveness of a subway station. One dollar secures you a year’s membership, but you can’t actually enter the club until 24 hours after your card has been issued. A typical Friday and Saturday night offers free live music, canned beer for a buck*, and and an eclectic clientele that, depending on the vibe the night you happen to be there, ranges from Felliniesque to Lynchian.

Bikers comprise a large contingent of the revelers, parking their Harleys (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a BMW) perilously close together out front like a chorus line of internally combustive Rockettes. I dread the day some reeling rummy trips and sets them crashing domino style one after the other. Years ago, before the bikers arrived, I had parked my VW minibus just in front of the designated space. When JB and I left for home, I was horrified to see at least twenty Harleys lined up about six inches from my back bumper and another car looming about a foot from my front bumper. Luckily, the fellow pictured below, a regular, helped me successfully to negotiate the scores of gear shifts, wheel turns, and progressions/reversals that liberated me from that straitened space.

*In 2014, a Bud will cost you $1.50


Joining the bikers as a discernible group are the long-in-the-tooth dead-end hedonists, who can be subdivided into old hippies and old shaggers. These sybarites, who hated each other in high school (the former letting their freak flag[s] fly, the latter sliding sockless feet into their Bass Weejuns) have mellowed over the years and appreciate each other in their shared ethos of self-medication and the never ending but increasingly difficult quest of getting laid.


A calico combination of others rounds out the squad – attractive, young preppies; South of Broad slummers; working folk shooting pool; the occasional bombastic prophet-of-doom blogger.

Lynchian vis-a-vis Felliniesque

What’s the distinction, you may wonder, between these two cinematic adjectives denoting surrealism?

fellini 2

Although baroque, Fellini’s surrealism tends towards the comic/satiric. His Satyricon, for example, counterbalances sensuous shots with grotesque images of Late Empire overindulgence. Carnivalesque might be an appropriate approximation.


Lynch’s surrealism is darker, a world of evil where the hideous co-mingle with grotesquely bland clichés of Americana, a la the image of above, where the sinister red-clad midget sits beside someone who looks like he may be employed as a hardware store clerk in a Norman Rockwell painting or the son of the couple depicted in Grant Wood’s American Gothic. Kafkalite-ish.


If I had to choose between the hellish dilemma of spending eternity in a Fellini film or a Lynch film, I’d definitely opt for the former. Underneath all of the grotesqueness of Fellini lies a positive procreative impulse. Take “The Widow of Ephesus” segment of The Satyricon, for example, where a woman who has decided to starve herself in her husband’s tomb is seduced by a soldier guarding crucified corpses.

Now that’s what I call pro life.

Lynch, on the other hand, is anti-life. Not that his films aren’t hugely enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny. Nevertheless, like the parents in Eraserhead, procreation begets monstrosity. You don’t want to bring a child into David Lynch’s world.

In short, a Felliniesque evening at the Sand Dollar is more pleasurable Lynchian evening,

Friday, 9 April 2010

I’m not making this up. During the Krushtones’ first set, I witnessed the departure of one of Charleston’s wealthiest septuagenarians and his seeing-eye trophy wife. She, a blonde, a head taller and thirty years younger, held his hand mommy-like as she led him through the throng. As they were leaving, three female dwarves dressed to the nines flowed past them and took their place at the corner of the stage. I repeat, I’m not making this up.

Lynchian or Felliniesque?

If Johnny Mac had been playing that night, a man deeply in love with the sound of his own guitar, or Jeannie Wiggins, trapped in the wrong gender, thumping serviceable rock to her adoring groupies, the karma might have darkened the brain chemistry that ultimately determines the existential nature of my world. However, with the Krushtones on stage, beaming, jumping, singing “Lady Madonna,” the positive vibration was infectious. Even the stern-faced bouncer who looks like the promotional US Marine of recruitment commercials cracked a smile.

Too bad the Krushtones were too young to play at Altamont.