Wednesday, May 12, 2010


An inborn dread, a sort of latent panic familiar to my line, preceded me. This inherent conviction that things must go wrong will not be loosed by any device of socialization, rebellion, or medication. Ironically, this same fixedness in the breast of its unfortunate host makes it perfectly portable, and impervious to geography--maybe this is why my people have propelled themselves across all parts of the globe, as if in flight from this dread; maybe this is why now we seem determined to self-dissipate as a race. We can run but we can't hide.

Even this curious adaptation works as if it has its own ambition and designs, treating us as the means to our own end. A long line of dull, placid farmers crossed the Atlantic to become dull, placid American farmers, settling in square-head country in the perennially freezing dead-center of the continent, where we felt at home. At some point we were displaced from land to city, and, characteristically unaware, set upon a modest decline from modest heights. We are being deselected.
The pioneers came west drawn by horses on wooden wheels over wild country. Years later it was rubber on asphalt, a trail of noxious fumes, and little fortitude required. A group bound by no comparable shared act of passage, by nothing in particular. I am of this family.
The last leg of our white trash odyssey was the motor journey into the American West, merging along the way with the Okies and the wetbacks, with the disillusioned alongside the delusional, the failed and the ambitious, those on the lamb and them on the make, all holding in common a crisis of options; to California.

That lump in your throat is childhood passing

Summer. Nineteen eighty-something. We were parting the traffic on the 605 southbound for Huntington Beach; I was wearing nothing but shorts and sandals, one hand holding on to the motorcycle seat, the other cradling a six-pack of beer, football-style. We leaned headlong into the wind like a pair of ski-jumpers, as P. effortlessly weaved the stodgy Honda CB350 through the cars, rendering them still as haystacks. I peered into them as we passed, looking for girls. My head rocked with spontaneous energy, to some silent beat, the effect of the youth spending itself within me. The exquisite expiration of childhood. We shouted back and forth in the gale we carried along with us, laughing through mouths windswept into lunatic grins; we cheerfully harried the odd fellow who was momentarily abreast and sharing our direction. We turned with the road into a direct and endless path toward a sun that will never set...

The Dandy Warhols, Grunge Betty

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pot to Kettle! Come in, Kettle!

David Brooks glimpses the matrix darkly through Elena Kagan:
She seems to be smart, impressive and honest — and in her willingness to suppress so much of her mind for the sake of her career, kind of disturbing.


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