Sous les pavés, la plage!


Under the paving stones, the beach!

The phrase dates from 1968 student riots in Paris, and the paving stones pulled up and thrown at the police. Once the stones were pulled up, sand was found beneath. One can easily make the metaphor that freedom lurks beneath conformity; you just gotta find it.
Perhaps the Bernie Folks should go ahead and appropriate this one for themselves. The same feeling—almost—is in the air—and it is apt to end the same way.

To put it as gently as possible, elections, at all levels, go to the candidate that knows how to play the game. To put anyone else in office requires more than a ballot box, I’m afraid.
I tried to get the highest res picture of a Ouija Board that I could, for your dining and channeling pleasure. Channel whom, you ask? Good question. At this point, you might be considering Ben Franklin or John Adams or any of those other worthies who set all this in motion, lo these many years ago.

Elections go to the candidate that knows how to play the game.

Nice guess, but, sorry, no cigar. I’ve got someone else in mind, and, to go along with the title, he’s French! Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre. Mad Max! You say you want a revolution, well, Robespierre is just who yer gonna need to pull the revolution off. And, by revolution, I mean a revolution that’s gonna make the French Revolution look like a jardin fête that Marie Antoinette threw at Versailles prior to Max and company taking over.

The gentlemen that stage the revolution in this country, circa 1776, were well-versed in the writings of Locke, Hume, and Montesquieu, amongst many others…you know…the Enlightenment.

You, Dear American Revolutionary, circa 2016, should be well-versed in M. Robespierre. Whatever else Robespierre knew, he definitely knew how to take care of entrenched, entitled assholes. He didn’t just send them to bed sans dinner. He didn’t just send them to bed sans dessert. He sent them to the graveyard sans their fucking head.

To put it bluntly, we have gone past the point in this country where change can be effected at the ballot box. Most legislative bodies in this country are totally in the bag for Big Business. You want the change of which you speak? Welp, Max is your man—and he is anxiously awaiting to get back in the game!

Image ~ Betagalactosidase on Deviant Art

Print this and you and your friends can bring up M. Robespierre!



Featured post

Mommy Says Hail To The Chief

“Daddy, why are you up so early?”

“Uh, nothing, uh, go back to sleep, Mommy.”

Pence looked at this wife thru the early morning darkness, while fumbling the handset in his hands. Looking down at the device like some undocumented alien, he slowly replaced it on the bedside table. He remembered the first night here, wondering why there were two phones, only to have it explained to him that the gray unit, with ever so slight more heft to it, was the secured line, the one that Very Important Conversations would take place one. Hey, HE was one of those Very Important People on Very Important Conversations.

And now, he was even MORE important. The phone call had been John Kelly telling him that the Chief had been Called Home To Be With The Lord.

They found him on the Golden Throne a little after 5, about an hour ago. He’d been in mid-Tweet: “A government shitdown will devastatingg…” and that was it. There were few clues to go on: a bucket of Extra Crispy, a bucket of gravy, and crate of Big Macs and Mexican Diet Cokes, scattered throughout the bedroom. What did it mean?

“Mommy, you have to get up.”

“What’s going on?”

“That was Kelly, they found him in the little president’s room…”

“He pulled an Elvis, didn’t’ he?”

“Huh, uh…yeah!”

Mommy and Daddy broke into laughter.

“You have to swear me in.”

“Won’t the Chief Justice do that, dear?”

“Yes, but you have to do it first. God’s way.”

“Oh. Yes! Okay, get the me the Bible; it’ll be just like we practiced.”

Daddy reached over and grabbed the large leather-bound study Bible that they had purchased just for this occasion.

“Assume the position, Daddy” said Mommy. “Are you prepared to take the oath office?”

“Yes, Mommy!”

Mommy proceeded to whack Daddy’s bared behind, 21 times.

HAIL TO THE CHEIF!” they yelled together after the 21st.

Daddy—now President Daddy—goes downstairs, where he was greeted by his chief of staff.

“Sir, we should get you to Trump Tower, er, the White House as soon as possible.”

“Yes, let’s go, we’ll make our usual stop.”

“Wha…oh, yes, of course.”

Minutes later, the cavalcade rolled out of the gates of the observatory, bound for the White House. They paused momentarily at McDonald’s on 17th; Micky D’s staff brought out the mobile order of 10 Egg McMuffins.

Daddy now has a legacy to uphold.

Eternal Vigilince

Eternal Vigilince
Guardiaship sculpture by James Earle Fraser, 1935 | Photo ~ kentwill

There is a reason the press is the only industry given specific protection in the Constitution. The free press reports what your government does; you use the information to make an informed decision in an election or to directly question your elected representatives.

The press also provides a channel of communication for people, like the women in Alabama, to tell their story to the world. A story which may never have been given much credence by the legal authorities in Alabama once upon a time—and in some cases, even now.

Without the free press, Roy Moore would be galloping to DC today.

I am not holding up the Washington Post and others as gods; they are not. However, without the free press in this instance, Roy Moore would be galloping to DC today.

Our civic responsibility as does not end at the ballot box; indeed, monitoring what those elected do in our name is just as important as the vote cast to put them in office. As we all can’t follow these people around, we rely on the press fo tell us and the press, in turn, should be held to no less a standard than we hold the elected representatives they cover.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

The Hardest Part

Now comes the waiting, or, if you’re into legal speak, Comes now the waiting.


Richard Nixon was elected in November of ’68, days after he may or may have not committed treason with a little help from Anna Chennault. The Johnson administration caught her on tape making whoopee or something on behalf of the Nixon campaign, which may or may not have amounted to treason.

Once in office there were all manner of hijinks and shenanigans, like the Huston Plan, a 43-page document of Nixon’s plan to step up domestic intelligence and do, amongst many other things, set up interment camps in the West where anti-war protesters could be stashed. Even J. Edgar Hoover said, “DA FUQ‽”

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Jump cut to the gigantic pile of Italian rubble on the Potomac, the beautiful Watergate complex—which, just for Shits and Giggles, sits next to the Kennedy Center—and a coterie of ham-fisted operatives hired by G. Gordon Liddy—Bannon and Gorka were not the first Goebbels Wannabes working at 1600 Penn—get nailed by plain-clothes DC Police. And they’re off!

Over the next almost two years we had denials, non-denial denials, modified limited hangouts, twisting in the wind, Katie Graham’s tit getting caught in a big fat ringer, Saturday Night Massacres, Congressional hearings, Maximum John Sirica threatening to put the whole lot of them under the jail, cancers growing on presidencies, horrors on tape. The Original Shit Show. Nothing has quite equaled it; until possibly now.

Finally, Squad Impeachment—Goldwater, Scott, and Rhodes—went down to the Big House to Nixon the thrill was indeed gone. Days later, the Supreme Court unanimously—with Rehnquist recusing himself; he had worked in the Justice Department under Nixon prior to his appointment to the Court—declared Nixon had to hand over the tapes.

Caught ’twixt a rock and bottomless pile of shit, Nixon sprouted wings and flew to California.

My point: Forty years later, not much has changed. You will not get indictments on Monday and impeachment by Friday. It. Won’t. Happen. True, given Trump’s nature, he may very well resign in a sudden flurry of ShitTweets, and leave us hanging, just like in one of his idiot reality shows; time will tell.

I’ve heard Trump and Nixon compared endlessly, but really there is not much of a comparison. If nothing else, know this: when commanded by the Supreme Court, Nixon gave up the tapes that he knew would destroy him. In the end, he could, and did, place the country first, something this carcinogenic orange buffoon can never do.

Atlanta Babylon

I was walking by Colony Square this afternoon and, wonder of wonders, 14th Street west of Peachtree was closed because…you guessed it: Hollywood.

No, I am not going to note that Atlanta’s horrible traffic situation is being made worse by the Moovies or TeeVee. No, I’m just going to say something about those people standing around looking to get a glimpse, however fleeting of a Celebrity.

One of my first jobs out of college was working at a Wolf Camera. At the time, In the Heat of the Night was being filmed in and around Covington, where today, I believe something about vampires or zombies, something about the non-dead, is made.

In the six or seven months I worked there, there were several regulars that dropped roll after roll of film that they’d just shot while standing around on location during the filming of a scene. Some came by on a daily basis. In the time I worked there, one of them must have had 50 or 60 rolls developed. Rolls of film that had nothing but dubiously composed and exposed photos of Carrol O’Conner or Howard Rollins or Anne-Marie Johnson or some other member of the cast—none of them up close and personal. All of them pretty much interchangeable.

The folks dropping these Kodak Moments off could go on for hours about who they’d seen and what that person was doing about town and what show or movie they’d be in next. To hear them talk, you’d never guess they had a life of their own—at least in theory.

Today, walking across 14th, there were nearly as many people on the Colony Square side, necks and arms craning, to catch a glimpse and a photo of whatever Famous Actor(s) was across street waiting for another take.

Jacqueline Kennedy once noted to her step brother, Gore Vidal*, how—I forget the exact wording that she used —hard it was to believe the lengths some people went to lose themselves in someone else’s life.

There is an entire world out there waiting for you. Live your own life, not vicariously through anyone else. I can’t tell you what the movie is or who is in it, but it does involve a red pickup that apparently will perish via flames.

*  That had to have been one hell of house to grow up in—a fact which Vidal’s step-brother-in-law Jack noted more than once.

The Fall

A cloudy, wet fall morning. Looking out the window, you can see the chill, the nip, in the air that promises leaves, Halloween, and pumpkins—if not their spice.

Instead, the first clue is the woman walking with an iced coffee. The chill the calendar in your brain promised you is nowhere to be found.

Like in some Bad B horror flick, Humidity wraps its warm, clammy hands around you, and drags you back to June.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes are a lie in more ways than one.

Terminal Süd

After you are used to Starbucks, or have it so many times, indie lattes take on a different taste. Maybe they have a distinct taste, depending on the skill of the barista or the make of automated machine. Land of 1000 Hills’ lattes are good and have a taste that is neither Starbucks nor anything I can think of. Not bitter, or, sin of sins, the milk to damn hot. Oh, and the chocolate croissants are awesome. Starbucks, QT, and Dancing Goats are all a fail on chocolate croissants. As with any chocolate croissant, it’s hard for me to say if they are the real thing; the only question is, do I like the taste and texture. In other words, did they use a a metric shit ton of butter.

The latte and croissant are spot on this morning. I sat on the patio in front of the re-purposed building LTH Coffee sits in. The other half of the main floor seems given over to one off workspaces for freelancers, and others for whom traditional offices or working from home is not the first or best choice.

In any case, MARTA has taken me south, and now I am sitting here in Terminal Süd, watching the people mill around or sit around. I’ve never figured out why they sit in here. If they are waiting for a connecting flight, why leave the secured area? If they are here, why not go ahead and go? Why ask why.

The same fucking canned announcements that have played for years play once more. It’s been nearly 10 fucking years and more since the American-bound planes were threatened with takeout by shampoo or hairspray or whatever, yet here is the TSA and their enablers, still making us pay attention to our liquids and gels. Damn good thing the planes weren’t threatened with jizz, piss, or poop or we’d be 10 years into really awkward screenings.

The morning’s entertainment is turning up the music, the canned music, way too loud. Usually, there’s a lone guitarist or solo instrumentalist of some stripe. Not so today, the Muzak is provided by purple-shirted Jimmy Buffet wannabe with a Moody Bluesish mellotron-like accompaniment track that I am sure is digital playback. Now we have Sting.

Now is a really good time to let the croissant and coffee to do their morning magic.


The Red Line train shuffles onto the Northbound tracks as it approaches the Airport station, and coasts to a stop; the end of the line. The doors open and he steps onto the platform as a humid gust of wind blows through.

He walks to the end of the platform and looks over the long runway as an MD-80 shatters the hum of the airport, starting its take off roll. Taking off east, he thinks. The journey West will start east.

He walks down the stairs and out of the train station into the South terminal—Delta International Airport—passing the always silent messengers of the Lord, some church or religious group always in the MARTA stations, and courteously never coming after you, just waiting to pounce should you ask them.

He and Phil walk into the South Terminal and out to the Sky Caps to get their boarding pass, for good or ill, this is a carry-on excursion to New Orleans. It looked like they’d make the flight even though they had just spent more time on the Alstom train than they were likely to spend on the Boeing plane. God, nearly an hour from the hospital station to here. Did Kenny make to? They are getting ready to find out.

Walking up to the kiosk—do they even have Sky Caps now?—he snaps back. He slides his card in and out and follows the prompts to check a single bag. He drops the bag with the attendant at the nearby desk. “Have a good flight, sir.” He’s thinking that at least these people no longer have to ask who packed your bags, as if a terrorist would volunteer the info that the bomb maker packed the bags with a surprise.

He walks through the atrium and eyes the TSA line and breathes a sigh of relief: the line is short. In the line, he takes off his shoes, belt and lays them and his dignity on the belt. He goes thru the x-ray machine but still get called for a pat down. He eyes the TSA guy who eyes him and pats him down. The last squeeze is, well, slightly x-rated. He thinks for once, all this nonsense is worth it. He puts his shoes on again but is halfway down the tunnel before he notices his belt’s not buckled.

He gets to the gate and gazes out at the L-1011. This was his first time flying and his first time away from home for this long a time. He is still surprised his parents took as little persuading as they did to let him do this. A shortened summer term with two classes and independent study. This will be fun, he thinks. He’s overdressed in coat and dress pants, but, well, this how people are supposed to dress when flying, so his parents, and others that would know, say. Between chop over Harrisburg and Albany he winds up with creamy Italian dressing on his shirt and hot coffee on his crotch. Stained shirt is one thing, burnt Dick & Balls is another…a narrow miss, to put it mildly.

The one thing running thru his mind now is the Jew of Malta. They saw the Marlowe play at the Barbican; Alun Armstrong played Barabas; he’d been fascinated that there was yet one more way to spell Alan/Allan/Allen/Alain. The beginning of play had Machiavel rising from pit in the floor  to proclaim, amongst other thing,  “I count religion but a childish toy,/And hold there is no sin but ignorance.”

He remembers the others, Dalton and Redgrave in A Touch of the Poet, seeing Queen Elizabeth at Saint Paul’s. He’s seen the Queen twice: once in London and once in the colonies when she was on her way to Monticello to mark the 200th anniversary with Ford. He never saw an American president.

Now, looking out at the 777 as the catering trucks and luggage trains swirl about, somehow never colliding with each other or the trucks pumping Jet-A into the wings.

The plane taxies away from the gate and down the apron. He is surprised when the plane turns left without hesitation and heads down the taxiway to 27R. The first time in all his years flying that the direction of the airport changed between checkin and takeoff. The L-1011 went down the taxiway, flaps and slats noisy grinding down, as they prepared to takeoff into the setting sun, golden light glaring off the cabin. He could feel excitement all over.

Now the concourses slid past as 777 slowly rolls down the tarmac, its flaps and slats going down with a bit less noise than its predecessor. He thinks the first time he left Hartsfield, it was on 27R; now, he leaves one last time on 27R He hears the pilot say something over the PA, but really pays no more attention to than he had the safety film. At the point where the plane should have held, the engines started spinning up; what the hell, he thinks. A rolling start on a 777…never done this.

He sits back as the giant plane gathers speed on its take off roll. Being a short—for this plane—domestic flight, there isn’t much fuel so the plane rotates climbs out quickly. He briefly glances out the window but does not tarry his gaze on the city where he’s spent most of his life. In any case, as the plane quickly climbed out, the city fell further behind.

When the cabin crew, stewardesses in his uncle’s day—stews, he called them—started circulating again, he asks for a ginger ale, his more or less official drink on a plane. Growing up, his parents only kept ginger ale around for sick days, never much else. He loved the stuff, but always associated it having just thrown up or waiting for a stomach rumble to end in a shart.

John had taken him down to Hartsfield once to ride in a simulator, a 727. He had a go at it, and managed to put the ’27 in the weeds just beyond the FLY DELTA’S JETS sign. John’s air stories were always the best, and apparently this one time, at LAX, a stew walks into the cockpit and told them that Liz Taylor was on board. The flight engineer—a quaint DC-8—goes back and has a look, comes back and says, “yep, that’s Liz.” Captain goes back comes back and says “sure as shit, that’s Elizabeth Taylor.” John goes back, sees her at her, uh, not mid-70s best, comes back and says “Christ, how are we gonna get this thing up?” Flight Engineer says “That’s what Fisher used to say.” They all laugh. Stewardess says “Come on guys, she’s had it rough the last couple of years…”

His mother’s mother never liked John, and he, well, never liked her. For his part, she was one more scold telling him how to live, for her, he was living proof that someone somewhere was a having an unauthorized good time. He always loved John cuz he was fun to be around, always had jokes you couldn’t repeat around the other adults. And one time, when someone made fun of his stutter, John had instantly cut them off.

Plus, if they were all in Roanoke, he might take the cousins down to the Roanoke Weiner Stand, down on the market. True to it’s name, it served hotdogs and little else, fries and soft drinks. All the way was mustard, onions, and chili. One of the original owners was usually there to put chili onto the dog, and the last time he went in, the guy was still there, at the age of 150, still putting chili on dogs and still saying the age-old “Somebody’s gotta be next.”

As he got older, he preferred the Texas Tavern several blocks over. The Tavern’s menu is a bit more extensive, even if the only thing he’d ever ordered was the chili dogs. He usually saved the Tavern or the Weiner Stand for a post-hike bite. The AT arc’d North and East around the City, and he always hiked some portion of it when he could.

He’d been on this flight more than a few times, the first back, way back, when it was a MD-11, bless its 3-engined heart. He was listening to a Coltrane playlist when he faintly heard a cabin announcement; he took his earbuds out in time to hear the captain explain what and where Shiprock is; to give everyone a chance to see it, he was dropping the left wing. He looked down at the massive rock formation on the New Mexico desert.

He was flying on an accidental flight with Phil to Los Angeles when the pilot did the same thing so everyone could see a crater put there by a meteorite eons ago. That flight was supposed to be a short flight to Toronto to see the Film Festival there. They got to the airport, and Phil realized he didn’t have his birth certificate and the Delta people told him he might not be able to get into Canada. They weighed their options and decided to burn some miles and go to the capital of movies and create their own film festival. So instead of a Mad Dog to Toronto, they had a ’57 to LA.

They found a room in West Hollywood at a Ramada that had clearly been redone by the Gay Decorating Mafia. It was not yer Grandma’s Ramada. One of the guys at the desk had pointed them down the strip to a local dive. Walking into the bar that evening, they hit it off with the bartender and a local. Soon enough, they were joined by a woman who, claiming to be a singer, would occasionally belt out some faint hint of a show tune—well, he guessed, show tunes were never his thing. Phil and the local guy talking, and the woman starting telling him about her career, she was,as her voiced confirmed, from England. She told him how she wound up in Hollywood and he guessed that story had been told a thousand times by as many people. Oh, and she was scheduled to be on Jay Leno next Tuesday night.

The woman’s attention was suddenly directed toward someone else. The local guy and the bartender asked him if he’d enjoyed his conversation with the Queen Mother. The Queen Mum? Yeah, that’s her nickname. She’d been around for a long as either one of them could remember and she was laboring—mightily, it appeared—under the impression that she could sing. Oh, and she almost always tried to bum a drink or a cigarette or something. Phil looked at him, “You didn’t give her anything…”

“No, she asked for money for something, I think. She is charming, I guess.”

The next Tuesday night, when the Queen Mum of Hollywood  was supposed to be on Leno, she wasn’t. Nor was anyone, for that matter. September 11, 2001 was the day that interrupted a lot of things.

She was still occupied in the back of the bar. Phil had struck up a conversation with a couple, the girl of which knew a dance club down the Santa Monica; she could get them all in sans cover. So, well, why not. They got in her car and went down to the club. It was fun doing something totally on the spur of the moment with someone you hadn’t known an hour before. Since smoking was verboten in California bars, it was equally nice to walk into a bar smelling like Chanel and walking out smelling like Chanel.

Going around Los Angeles watching indie films was a lot of fun and so was touring Paramount, including the Soul Train set. Going totally rogue on plans was a great time had by all.

His mind is thinking ahead to what do once this plane lands. This trip is beyond any plans he’d made. He was going to LA and then, maybe, San Francisco, driving, he guessed, up 1 and 101. He wanted to see Gordita Beach, Manhattan Beach as imagined by Pynchon in Inherent Vice. Somewhere in the area, just up from the beach is the house where he’d written Gravity’s Rainbow. He was now trying to finish re-reading the book. The book, in fact, was why he was now heading to LA. He wanted to come to an end in the same place where the narrative is ended by 00000.

Gravity’s Rainbow, his favorite, he guessed, had started off in London, and now the L-1011 was, showing by the chart on the bulkhead by the center lavatory, halfway across the Atlantic. Gordon was doing an independent project based on A Word Child. He’d thought about suggesting doing something similar with the Pynchon novel, but, well, he was guessing someone like Pynchon would be viewed dimly by the powers that be in the English Department and, he was reasonably certain he didn’t even understand half the book. It defied easy explanation by anyone, let alone him. He did, fueled by gin and tonic, go looking for the approximate location of Prentice’s digs, the house with the bananary on the roof.

He was imaging what the finished paper would look like. Him standing at all the places on the map where the rockets hit…where Slothrop had a one night stand, where he’d gotten a boner. What does he do? Stand there are make a self-portrait with a boner in some London neighborhood? He could think of a person or two that might like that….

The late-morning sun glares off the knife-edge of the wing as the slats and trailing flaps slowly cut down into the current. Clouds and time rush past as the 777 slices down toward Los Angeles. The journey westward is nearly complete.

From Ireland…

The Irish taoiseach, Enda Kenny, here to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, lectured La Douche Orange on immigration in L’Orange’s own house. Good for Kenny. Not that L’Orange paid much attention, nor, I imagine, did he give much thought to the fact that he has a golf course in Ireland. Still, nice to see someone giving it to him.

Like a lot of people in this country, my ancestors didn’t start here, and a few came from Ireland. On my mom’s side, the McNeils moved from Scotland to Ireland before immigrating to the US. The Hills, Robert and Violetta, were from County Dublin, and immigrated to the Pennsylvania colony in the 1760s. One of their daughters, Ruth, married my great grandfather Walter Bernard.

Once War for Independence (Slán, English pig dogs!) began, Violetta saw to it that troops in her area were fed and clothed (the DAR lists her as patriot, just as it does her son-in-law, who fought with a rifle).

Mr. Kenny spoke of “…millions out there who want to play their part for America — if you like, who want to make America great.” The Hills, and countless others made their way here to make a better life for themselves, and in the process, made a great country*.

L’Orange has no idea what makes a country great, or even, apparently, what makes a country run, and it is good when he and his fans are publicly reminded of this.

*  Many countless others were brought here against their will too…

Another List

It was on Twitter, or maybe Facebook, or, maybe, it was on a “You May Also Like” lists on a news site, or wherever. Anyway, earlier today, I saw yet another listicle of TOP Republicans that aren’t voting for Trump. To whomever keeps publishing this crap, please give me something I can really use, like, say, Top Cake Mixes that use the fewest eggs or the most bourbon, cuz, really, the ongoing lists of GOP worthies is worse than useless.

Worse than useless you say? Yes, I do, and I’ll even tell you why. The GOP, the Republican Party, only exists in the minds of the folks putting their names on these inane lists.

Once upon a time, Richard Nixon discovered how many voters he could pull in using his Southern Strategy™®. You know, pulling in all the old Democrats from the South who discovered LBJ had taken them for a ride he signed the Civil Rights legislation in the mid-Sixties. Well, they weren’t gonna stand for this desegregation mess, and Nixon saw the opportunity of a lifetime, and, well, he took it. And he was elected president. Twice. The second time, by near acclamation.

Then along comes Ronald Reagan in 1980, and while Ronnie wasn’t too fond of Nixon, he and his team saw no harm in trying the Southern Strategy again. And boy, did it ever work. Turns out, talking about Law ’n’ Order will bring ’em a runnin’!

Anyway, here we all are, lo these many years later, and, well, all the old Country Club Republicans are just about gone. You know, the ones that voted for Ike, and later Nixon, Ford, etc. Now you basically have a party full of folks that heard the Southern Strategy™® dog whistle and came running. They didn’t then nor now give a shit about the GOP heirarchy. They don’t care what any of them say, think, or do. They don’t read the National Review, care not a whit what the ghost of Bill Buckley would want them to do. They just know that Donald of Orange is gonna make America great again—they have no idea now, and he, even less. But Orange Donne’s gonna do it!

So yeah, I’m waiting for the cake listicle.

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