please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Well, the snow has melted now, and it smells terrible. For about two weeks, we all tried to tell ourselves that the dog shit and cigarette butts that lingered under the snow might somehow magically go away, and this is -demonstrably- not true. The deck could use a good sweepin', and I'm sort of embarrassed at the amount of kitty litter I dumped in the street.
But we did what we had to do -it was prison, right?- and later on when the questions get asked, I'll be able to lie with a clear conscience.

And about those cigarette butts, what's the deal with that? I all but quit during that week that Bee was in Hawaii, and without the requisite insanity, too. I didn't need vitamin supplements or anything, I just didn't smoke.
But then I worked, and that always does it. Next thing you know, I buy myself a pack of Camel studs. I couldn't buy my beloved Nat Sherman's Havana Ovals because that'd be it: I'd be back smoking full-time. So I did that thing that we do, to wit: to ameliorate my shame and gnawing sense of dread about doing something that I know I shouldn't, I do it in a way that is marginally less pleasurable, therefore enabling me to feel good-er about it.
As was put to me in conversation the other day; in what other area of our lives do we ever do that?

It sort of makes me want to make a brief historic overview of my addictions:

Tobacco, in cigarette form (circa age twelve to present): What can I tell ya', kid? (Delivered in gravelly, guttural death-voice) They taste s'damn good. As Oregon rolls into its last day in which one may smoke in a bar, I have to ask one more time; so why can't filthy old man dive bars still smoke, and alla resta them don't have to? If you're wondering how the Gummint might go about seperating the smoke-free wheat from the bad-behavioring chaff, well, they wouldn't. The bar itself would. Every bar that has opened in Portland in the last five years (except The Standard, actually) has been non-smoking by choice, and I have no reason to believe that trend wouldn't just continue.
The argument that "this measure will save lives!" is no doubt true, but far less so than a measure banning...Oh any number of things in Portland's air that we all breathe every day, and not because we chose to do so. Like keeping potty-mouth out of your karaoke routine, I believe this measure will do immeasurable good to the innocent children who are always hangin' out in bars.

This is the kind of shit that made me so despise Diane Linn. That being said, I'm going to try, once again, to quit smoking. They fucking kill you, I'm told.

Marijuana (sometime in my sophomore year in high-school to, I dunno, four or five years ago): I, like everyone who ever does it, thought that I'd really stumbled onto something here. A whole new world, fresh for the exploring, that no one had ever seen before lay before me, and I dove right in. I'd get all baked, write chapter upon chapter of relatively good stuff.
I don't -unlike a lot of you- look back at what I wrote in those days and only see crap. That's the stereotype, but I ain't stereah-typical. It was the product of someone who had recently discovered something that worked for him, and had decided to embrace it fully.

For that matter, it worked because it contributed to my twin needs of wanting to view the world from as many perspectives as possible and conducting a life-long study of exactly how far one can go toward clinical insanity without losing complete control of your life.
It's not physically addicting, but it certainly is emotionally addicting. Also, it costs more per ounce than gold. But that's not really why I went from being an all-day-every-day smoker to the once-every-six-months-maybe smoker that I am now. The reason was boredom. I got tired of it after living for several years with a lady who dealt the stuff. So there y'go.

I've done tons of hallucinogens, but they are neither physically nor emotionally addicting, so therefore don't belong on this list.

Alcohol (I'm Not Sure How Old I Was to Present): "'s a son of a bitch, y'all," to quote the Butthole Surfers. Yep, that kind of sums it up. It's something we like, and something we do, but it's also something we complain about and wax all martyr-y about, too. It's how we deal with disappointment and grief, also how we celebrate the happy things. When we're stressed, when we're relaxed, boozing is just alright with us. Therefore, it has associations with pretty much every aspect of human emotion.
So many of us in the iconoclasm business started out with the clear intention of not living long enough to get Old. As the years go by (and those stupid enough to not outgrow this adolescent notion fall off, and away), we start to note that there's all sorts of ways to view life, and plenty of different ways to be content within it. The fact that you can deal relatively competently with most situations while fucked up isn't without merit, but on the other hand, it's also kind of a badge of honor to grow older minus a cancerous stomach, necrotic liver.

I'm of many opinions on this subject. Like the smoking of tobacco, I think that it's important that you have a place in your life for going and doing things that are relatively wrong, but only to yourself. "To do the kind of magic I do, I have to walk the poison path," I said to wayyy too many people once upon a time. I would put it differently now, but there's still some validity to the main point -you need to do some bad things, too. It rounds you out.
What did Tom Waits say? "Never saw the mornin' /'til I stayed up all night..." And I've always been one to stay up while the resta youze sleep. But- I am also relearning the joys of a good night's sleep, too.

Cocaine (briefly, several years ago): After a life spent angrily ridiculing those who do The Handsome Powder (thanks to Reverend O'Hare), and shaking my head piously at its return to popularity among the young and hip, I found myself actually getting into it briefly, several years ago.
There was this not-exactly-friend who was dealing the stuff when not DJ-ing (why is this so often the case? Because both deejays and cokeheads love the conversation that starts and let me tell you Another fascinating story about how clever and charming I am!- credit again to Rev. O'Hare), who occasionally needed a ride and had no car. So I'd give him a ride, and he'd pay me in coke. After a while, I was paying money for it, too.

Before long, it was all-night sessions of what generally were political discussions with anyone I could get to hang out with me. Not exactly a bad thing, but of course, as the sun was coming up, one can't help but notice the swollen sinuses, the chemical-filled stomach. Occasional bloody noses, y'know.
It bankrupted me, and actually was the last gasp of truly being a rich bachelor. It led to my abrupt departure from my last home, and was just stupid. No complaints about the frenetic conversations, though: my friends are my friends because I find them interesting and smart, so we didn't just sit there and babble about nothing. Still...You can do that without coke too, it turns out.

Never got into opiates, except for opium itself, but that disappeared from my life at the same time Dead tour did (so 1995, I guess). I know it has potential to fuck up your life, but the worst thing that smoking that stuff ever did for me was put me immediately to sleep, where I'd have sweet dreams. I never awoke immediately needing more, which is a hell of a lot better than I can say for nicotine.

** ** **

The ritual we have around here of naming the New Year is a product of the Mondegreen-esque game we play around here of turning misheard-phrases into proper names. Until a few days ago, I really thought that 2009 was going to be named 'Stom Tubbler', but now I think it will be 'Specialty Foxx', which is about as perfect a name for a blaxploitation porn star/secret agent as I've heard.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sno-pocalypse Now

The screaming people across the street have a boy I believe to be teen-aged, and I suspect is a little on the simple side. He is doing something over there that involves a shovel.
His- mother?- is telling him, "You're just gonna mess up the lawn more, and make a bigger mudhole!"

No more than you parking your car on the lawn, more often than not, I'm thinking. But I'm surprised by the boy's response, which is, "I'm building THIS IGLOO!"

It now sits in a half-constructed state over there, looking like ruins. The guy down the street managed to make a pretty respectable snow berm just out of what he had shovelled out of his driveway and adjacent sidewalk.
That's how it is around here; there's actually a good side and a bad side of the street.

Now, since it never snows here, when it actually does, it's a problem. Generally, it's a problem that is solved by most people proceeding to walk to bars, meeting and greeting their neighbors along the way. Portlanders love a snow day.
Last time I saw it snow so much, it was twenty years ago. With the majority of my friends living in an unheated Victorian downtown, I made it a point to all the rest of us who had heat to take at least one of the resta them in for the next couple of days.
It worked out well. Bartley Shithead (don't look at me like that; that was the name he gave himself) and I sat around, smoked pot and wandered the streets in what was freezing though sunny snow day weather. Wonderful.

I myself have made the acquaintance of the next door neighbor, a jolly black man who I believe is a preacher. He was proudly displaying a Luis Palau sign in his front yard earlier this year while I was busily building a stage for the same Mr. Reverend Palau in Waterfront Park.
Our neighbor tends to drive down the street thumping hip hop, pulls into his driveway and if the song is not done, sits there and respectfully waits for it to finish. On Sundays, he dons an immaculate white suit and thumps gospel tunes.

On Wonkette the other day, I wrote:

"Yeah, so okay. It doesn’t ever snow in Portland, so much. Therefore one can give us a little fucking leeway, yes? I know how to drive in snow, but lots of people don’t, and they are the true menace, though largely only to themselves. The bars are packed, though, most people are walking and enjoying themselves, it looks like. Sorry we’re not tough like Queen Anne up there, or someone stupid enough to live in Minneapolis.

And: that wookee had a flat-screen plasma teevee, dammit!"

'Queen Anne' refers to some blowhard from Seattle who was crowing about how much better he and other Seattelites are at weathering the snow, and of course was joined by some bright bulb from the Twin Cities. This is part of an annualized ritual of discourse about how Portlanders can't deal with snow, which again, we almost never have, and so lack the equipment to properly clear the streets.

The 'wookee' reference is to the YouTube clip that accompanied, from 1978's A Star Wars Christmas, which actually celebrated a traditional Wookee holiday called 'Life Day', you'll remember. The clip itself features (I think) Harvey Korman as a weird Julia Child/Oompa Loompa hybrid that has a cooking show, which a Wookee housewife is watching while trying to prepare loin of Bantha.

Had the whole family here yesterday, plus The Provost, who was slowly making the rounds of several Xmas parties. And while the overall effect was good, I feel like I may not want to ever do that again because our kitchen is so damn small. It's big enough for two people that are not cooking, or one person who is.
The kitchen is where you wanna be at parties, or -as my pal Norberg put it once- "The Stronghold". I always liked his mis-appropriation of words, and knew exactly what he meant.

The intersection outside is routinely clogged with cars getting bogged down in the increasing slush, and if a person was of a mind to help people out of a jam of their own making and all day long and most of the night, they certainly could.
I went out to help one clueless lady with child who just kept spinning her wheels, digging deeper and deeper in so doing. I was assisted by a young boy and a somewhat older man with a shopping bag. We rocked the car back and forth until she tore off down the street, only to get dug in again a block later.

At that point, the man with the bag kept asking me where "the apartment" was. I tried to get more information from him, and he just kept on asking me this surreal question. Unable to help, I then turned my attention to the chief Yeller across the street, who was helpfully shouting to me that the driver of the car shouldn't keep spinning her wheels like that. I responded that I think she knows -even though she clearly didn't and in any case was no longer my problem- and that perhaps the time for that piece of advice was not now, when she had already gone away, and I was going inside.

I sometimes think Otis Redding got off easy, dying when he did -and leaving behind as his legacy one of the nicer, catchier tunes about suicide I think we've seen. I think this because he left very little in the way of Christmas music in his catalog, but he did leave some. This is too bad, if mandatory. I think I've even seen a picture where they've got Otis all dressed up like Santa -lookin' like a clown, that is. Poor guy. Sometimes having your plane fall into a frozen lake is the wisest career move . Otherwise, instead of tragically martyred Soul Man, you end up like B.B. King, pitching for Burger King and various dia-beet-us monitoring devices.
Or as Digable Planets nicely put it -not at all referring to the recording industry, by the way- "Don't die in their death trap. Fuck that." Like I said, they weren't talking about how you shouldn't let your corporate overlords dress you up in a Santa suit, they were talking about how thug life is for idiots, but I think the line is appropriate for lots of things.

We spent a lot of yesterday listening to "World, Have Your Say". It was a great, if sort of misinformed, debate about whether political change is better accessed by direct action, or by participating in the democratic process. The answer certainly changes a great deal depending on what country you're talking about, but it always helps to remember: if you want to get people all riled up, go riot in the streets. But remember that the people with the money and the power actually will do whatever they feel like -regardless of you and your riot- and if you want to change anything you need to join them. But also; by doing so, you yourself will be changed, largely by the necessity of fund-raising, and...There is no such thing as change?
No: there is such thing as change, Virginia. It's just a lot more multi-faceted than you might think.

Before that, Oregon Public Broadcasting had on "Think Out Loud", which is their version of "World..." The topic was about individual Oregonians' take on spirituality, since we're so famously unchurched around here. There was a professor from Connecticut being interviewed who kept making strange generalizations about Oregon that sounded suspiciously like everything he knew about Oregon came from a history text from the 1920's.
Oregon was largely the creation of a bunch of Methodists, but also largely the creation of the Hudson Bay Trading Company, so make of that what you will. I myself wanted to call in and say that the acidhead perspective was being underrepresented here. Especially in Oregon where I can say that lots and lots of us had our best moments of communal with the universe because of hallucinogens.
Like I'm fond of saying, if you take acid and talk to God for eight hours, you're crazy. But if you're religious and you talk to God for your entire life, that makes you...

Anyway. The day before that, they replayed an interview from a few months ago with poor goddamn Terry Toedtemeier and the other curators from the art museum, just as what would turn out be Terry's last exhibit went up.
While it is true that he died doing what he loved to do -talking about art that portrayed something he loved- it is also true that saying it that way opens you up to an uncomfortable joke.

Or, here it is:
"He died doing what he wanted to do."
"Oh? He always wanted to have a heart attack?"

Credit to Bee on that one. This is part of why I love her: she's a realistic voice in a world I largely find shrill and idiotic.

Other Seattle tough guys include Disco Boy and Girly Girl, who live on a hill steeper than Queen Anne, and still managed to make it out of the city, and onto a plane that apparently took them to Mexico. Lucky bastids.
Today: read some more of Gore Vidal's latest (last?) book of essays. I want to see Frost/Nixon, Milk and maybe The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Note to F. Scott Fitzgerald: could you do something about that name?


Friday, December 19, 2008

Book Report

An album I didn't really think existed is Having Fun with Elvis On Stage (1974). I found it today, though. I had thought that perhaps Lester Bangs had made this up, as I had never actually encountered the damn thing in my encyclopedic perusal of used vinyl emporia.

Here's Lester: "...only a true pervert could put out something like Having Fun with Elvis On Stage, that album released three or so years back which consisted entirely of between-song patter so redundant it would make both Willy Burroughs and Gert Stein blush."

Now, I had conflated it in my mind with the footage I've seen of late-stage Elvis; where he tries to go into that talk-sing bridge that lives in so many of his songs, but he's so fucked up on pills, he just can't do it. He goes, "bu-bu-blubba-bluh-bluh", which causes the audience to laugh, thinking that Elvis is making a joke. Elvis hears the laughter, and -being an entertainer- decides to go with it. He spends the rest of the song just going, "bluh bluh bluhbba-ba bluh", and they just can't get enough.
We'll see what this actually is. I suspect that I will love this piece of lost Americana, which describes itself on its cover as "A Talking Album Only", unconditionally.

Was reading: The Wicked Wine of Democracy, by Joseph S. Miller. Good insight by an old political hack who is wise enough to call himself that. While more or less serving as a lobbyist for the steelworker's union back in the late '50's, he got called upon by LBJ hisself to go get more Democrats elected.
Through methods both trite and illegal (to say nothing of entirely aboveboard by the standards of the day), he assisted a host of Northwest political heroes of mine, including one that my father was a page for in the Senate, to office.

Many others profited from this guy's help, including the apparently unlikable William Proxmire.

Fun thing? Joe Miller is more than willing to admit that there was nothing likable about said candidate, and that his colleagues -such as they were- hated the guy, and that there wasn't even anything all that noble about his motives for seeking office. He just wanted power, or something. And his colleagues -such as they were- just wanted to get a Democrat elected.

After helping the Kennedy family make their son President in 1960 (with the requisite scene that appears in everyone's political memoir of this time: how Bobby Kennedy came to hate me for the rest of his life), he settles into a fatter life of just being a lobbyist, which it seems he did happily and only somewhat guiltily.
Credit goes to old Joe Miller for coming to the end of his book neither renouncing hard liquor (which I was waiting for after he called whiskey "that filthy brown stuff" in an earlier chapter) nor suggesting any sort of fix for the political game as it is currently played.

Wisely, he notes that it's been this way for a long time. Rome, probably, if not longer. Also wisely, he does not act like it's wonderful just because it got him rich. He fully admits that lobbying and the corrupting influence of money in general has utterly ruined any sort of activist spirit in government, and admits he has no serious ideas for how to change this.
Neither did John McCain and Russ Feingold, he can't help but note.

Also read: A Sense of Reality by Graham Greene. I have to have a bit of silence in my head to read Mr. Greene, and lately it has been back. Otherwise, it's easy to overlook what he was up to. And what was that?
Well, writing something more psychedelic than anyone like Hunter Thompson could pull off (just to throw a name in there), because it takes place in the confines of every day life, everyday life as experienced by an Englishman, I might note. Where you are lulled into it by a rote recitation of where you went to school, what you do for a living, where your family is from, et cetera and,

Oh- did I tell you that one time I found a world under a tree in the garden, and wrote a story about it when I was a child which was no good since I was a child and insisted on embellishing it with heroic derring-do that never happened, and although I know it didn't happen as such, I will rewrite the story now -better, and as if the dream I suspect it really was did happen, and what detail I would include if so.
That is the plot, more or less, of 'Under The Garden'. The narrarator is dying of lung cancer, too, in one of those sighing, too-polite-by-half disappointed ways.

And in 'A Visit to Morin' he does it again. He sets you up with what, in other English authors' hands, would be deadly boring: I am employed by a firm that imports fine wines. I often find humourous ways of over-stating the qualities of said wines, which is easy to do because wine snobs are pretentious, above all else. Anyway, I also was raised Catholic, and...
Right about the time you're starting to get really sick of this, he goes and finds a childhood favorite author, who is observing Midnight Mass, despite supposedly having turned his back on the church.

They go back to his place, get drunk, and have one of the greatest conversations about theology and heresy (and especially apostasy) I've ever read.

The other two stories ain't bad, either.

Reading: George S. Kaufman, an intimate portrait by Howard Teischmann.

Mr. Kaufman, playwright, director, producer, actor, lover, co-wrote You Can't Take It With You, which I think was the first play I ever saw that I truly found funny. It's nice that once upon a time one could be famous for being exceptionally skilled at comebacks and one-liners. Of course, you can do that now too, but the jokes have gotten shittier.

As some would say that the death and failure of the old media outlets -and indeed the old practice of writing letters- goes, well, some would say that this is finally the populist reaction to centuries of The Elite holding sway over the world of words.
Of course, maybe just maybe there's people in this world who just do better in their use of words, and just because everybody can write doesn't mean that they should. Hell, all you need to do is look at the fucking Blogosphere to note that this is true. Most of the people who "publish" here not only can't string together the basics of a coherent sentence, but don't bother to use the spell-checking software that god gave them.

Excuse me. Anyway, Howard Teischmann does a good job of not falling into that trap that most biographers do: he goes right ahead and notes what a pain in the ass his subject was. For one thing, they collaborated on a play so he knows of what he speaks, but also he has the courage to more or less say being really clever by no means makes you a pleasant person to be around.
Or there's that other thing that biographers do that he doesn't; respond to a criticism of their subject by pointing out how since they were a high school star quarterback, they couldn't possibly be guilty of those corruption charges levelled at them thirty years later. I have seen this again and again.

He repeatedly uses some form of the sentence, "In those days, puns were considered the height of humor." Several times he says this, as if to underscore...Well anyway Howard, idiots still do. Hell, you should read The Oregonian.

Keep putting down and coming back to Stephen Pinker's The Blank Slate, subtitled The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Lovely stuff about how to this day people more or less take sides on the nature/nurture question, when we've known for quite some time that it's both.

Haven't listened to the Elvis yet. It has been snowing and freezing-raining here for long enough that we have somewhat had to concentrate on buying whatever we might need in order to make it through being snowed in.
But Elvis, I'm pretty sure, never wrote a book (unlike so many other rock stars), so this sort of thing is his text, unlucky bastard.

Bob Dylan, on the other hand, at least leaves us Tarantula, which wasn't a good book at all but has the nice line where a school teacher asks the class, "Who is the president?", and a little boy raises his hand and says, "Ernest Tubb."


Friday, December 12, 2008

On Dyin', not 'Dyin'

Here's a pretty good shot of Terry Toedtemeier, who apparently died yesterday, in Hood River. He was 61.
Out of all the curators I worked with in my time at the art museum, he was easily the most human of them. He still had that mad spark that really honestly is the 'art' part of "art". He was nice, too.

Recently he had published a book called Wild Beauty, which was a historic overview of photography involving the Columbia Gorge from its earliest practitioners to present day. He was giving a lecture about it yesterday and had a heart attack immediately afterward.

Terry obviously loved the Gorge as much as I do. I once found a wide-format shot he did on his desk: it was of what is sometimes called Community Arch, and it lies on a not-exactly-trail that goes off and up the side of the mountain above Horsetail Falls. This trail will lead your ass right out into the middle o' nowhere, and oddly, some wag who came before affixed a sign to a tree high, high up that reads "Mystery Trail".
Point is, either Terry stumbled upon the arch like I did, entirely by accident, or spent just as much time as me and my friends examining every possible route, slide and gully. This takes years, but is entirely worth it.

I'm unsurprised to note that his first love was geology. The Gorge is like a museum entirely dedicated to that particular study. I've taken lots of pictures out there too, and they often rely on the intricacy of the rock formations. For anyone with a mind that likes wandering down long, endless roads, this is the place.

On the other hand, George did not die. He was nearly felled by Fresca, of all things, a couple days ago. I'll let him tell that one.

UPDATE: So Josh Westhaver is dead, as well. Here is how I found out. The fact that two of the nicer people I have worked with have died in the run-up to my birthday is kinda fucking me up.

As I have said before, it's not like death is some alien concept to me, but it's still the kind of thing that will trip one up, especially when said person was always very nice to you, and despite a huge propensity for accidents, should have lived many more years than they did.
I'm pretty sure Josh was younger than me. I've never been sure. He did have a huge propensity for accidents. If someone was going to plunge a blade into his palm, that'd be Josh. I first met him three years ago, during the first show I did for PICA, and I recall him being one of the few sane voices around there.

I recall at the after-party, which ran until dawn (partially because we worked until two...or four?), Josh and I were sitting there -shitfaced- talking to some guy who had shown up. I don't recall how we got to this juncture in the conversation, but the guy who had shown up was looking at me incredulously, saying, "So you're saying that things don't change?"
And I said, "No, I'm saying that change is the nature of the universe!" Josh started laughing and clapping.

This morning was given over to awkward emails to people I don't often speak to. One of them was ultimately answered by an old pal of mine who, it turns out, has moved to New Orleans but is coming back for the memorial.
This too: I have so severely limited my social contact in the last two years, I can't be said to be close to many people at all. This also leaves me feeling strange about two people that I liked and cared about dying, as I don't feel that I could honestly attend their memorial services as a friend. I'd be a stranger.

Ah shit: there's Apollo again. You Must Change Your Life; yeah, I know buddy. I know.

You can read what other people had to say about him here and here.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

His Name Was 'Anonymous'

I feel that if you set up a page for the express purpose of thanking an outgoing President, it speaks volumes that so many doing the thanking would choose not to sign their own names:

476 kathy
477 Anonymous
478 Anonymous
479 Anonymous
480 Anonymous
481 Anonymous
482 Anonymous
483 Anonymous
484 Anonymous
485 Anonymous
486 Anonymous
487 Anonymous
488 Anonymous
489 Emilie Louise Ille
490 Diane Hickel
491 Terry and Pat Bailey
492 Judy Shackelford
493 Anonymous
494 Anonymous
495 Pam Tomlinson
496 Anonymous

This is from ThankYouPresidentGeorgeWBush, which, as many have noted, seems incompetent even by the standards of modern Republicanism.

There's many an example of the curious habit of your average conservative to write only in ALL CAPS, perhaps to underscore the urgency of their message, or just to let you know that THEY ONLY SCREAM, and never talk.
And, for a bunch of people who routinely make the sovereignity of the English language a campaign issue, I note that they're some of the worst spellers I've encountered, and if you call them on it, you're an elitist.

Mind you, "bush is my faverat presadant kiss him with butthole" strikes me more as something a kid would write...But it's there, which is more than I can say for the pages and pages of people who wrote in and did not wish to thank Mr. Bush.
This morning, the above mentioned folks easily outnumbered the fans of the President, and I notice that most of them have been deleted. Even the guy who just wrote in repeatedly to update you, every few lines, on the lyrics to "Don't Stop Believin'". However, the immunity to irony in yer average 'Pub webdweller is there: Heywood Jamblomy, Mike Hunt and even I.P. Freely are there, as is, obliquely, Robert Paulson.

But the Anonymouses easily outnumber them all, interestingly.

I believe this webpage is an outgrowth of something I keep running into; the trope that not only was Bush good for this country, but we somehow failed to be as good as He, and now owe him some sort of national apology.
It strikes me as revisionism in its earliest incarnation. And since the flow of information has increased to the degree that it has, it will probably go through a boom/bust cycle in about four months, then will go away and come back repeatedly throughout the years to come.

I was watching the opening scene of "The Truce" the other night, and it's right where the Nazis are running away from Auschwitz, as the Russians are rapidly approaching. The war is over.
And I couldn't help thinking: and the Nazis hated Commies about as much as they hated Jews, and the Russians hated Jews even more than they hated Germans, and... And how nuances like that get ignored in favor of shit like well Hitler was just Evil, man, and how above all else, how there will always be an overwhelming number of people encouraging you to Forget.
Not just the Holocaust specifically; lots of things. I feel like we are encouraged to not care about history. Whether or not this is the case everywhere -and not just America- I don't know.

There's a guy I work with who laughs with that weird, guttural back-of-throat thing that I ascribe to fourteen-year-old boys. He's a geek, but grown up now. Anyway, we were having a discussion about just that above, and he said, "So we'll always be certain to repeat our mistakes?"
I was a little shocked to hear myself reply, "I'm gonna say we even did that when the study of history was more widely encouraged. Because we think it'll never happen to us."

Yup. And that leads us into irrelevant little loops in our political conversations. I was doing my usual and back-and-forthing with all the other people with too much time on their hands who haunt The Onion's AV Club blog, and I said...

"And I'm tired of people crediting Dick (Nixon) with the EPA and lots of other '70's governmental reforms. I'd say that was the largely Democratic and liberal Republican congress, and Nixon didn't have the votes for a veto that wouldn't get overturned."

To which someone said...
"that may well be, but you are still wrong. Nixon was actually a relatively moderate guy. He did bad things, of course, but to pretend he wasnt a efficient and productive president is dumb."

Well, if (it) could indeed be, then in that case I would be not wrong, right?
But the problem here is that I just ran into exactly what I dislike, and was expressing above: people think that since Nixon was nowhere near as effective in his wrecking of the Constitution as our current Chief Executive, he was a moderate. This leads to the many people I've encountered who say, "Well, except for that one thing, he was a pretty good president..."
This leads, in turn to: "And Watergate proves that the system works, because we got rid of the bad man."

And never ever again will we have to do that. This also happens when discussing Bill Clinton. Yes of course he was nowhere near as bad as Bush II. Hell, Bush I wasn't as bad as his son. Does that automatically make either of them good presidents? No, unless you're using some sort of flawed reasoning model.
Something along the lines of: you use stones to grind the grain into flour, which you make into bread, therefore bread is stones.

Mind you, this is all just annoyance, here. You know how whenever I write about the simplistic thinking at work in those who get mad at Portland being so proud of itself? Pretty much all of my points could be boiled down to; "well yeah, it's annoying, but it isn't dangerous."

Same thing about the ontological game above, except that I see something else at work there: laying the groundwork of forgetting.
Forgetting is dangerous, although of course, whatcha gonna do? The human mind is a reducing valve that takes tons of undifferentiated information and stimuli, boils it down into something it can use.
So if all you remember of the Ford administration is him falling down the stairs of Air Force One, you're in pretty good company. Unfortunately, a lot more than that happened.

People who do this shit for a living include George Will, who has decided to go back to making fallacious points to support arguments about things that aren't happening. As you read the following quote, remember that no one has discussed bringing back the Fairness Doctrine. It's not under consideration.

"If reactionary liberals, unsatisfied with dominating the mainstream media, academia and Hollywood, were competitive on talk radio, they would be uninterested in reviving the fairness doctrine. Having so sullied liberalism's name that they have taken to calling themselves progressives, liberals are now ruining the reputation of reactionaries, which really is unfair."

What I got from that was:
1. Liberals are reactionary.
2. Liberals dominate the whole of political discussion.
3. Liberals are interested in reviving the fairness doctrine.
4. Liberals were the ones who ruined the word 'liberal'.
5. See point one.

Well, he was one of those who dissed Sarah Palin, so he has to get back some sort of cred. He accomplishes this by getting all huffy and not making any sense. This endears him to most people, although...
He was once described by a colleague, I forget who, as "a pinched-mouth little prig who had to write a book about baseball just to get anyone to like him." I always liked that.