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Thursday, April 23, 2009


Irony

McGill University's Stephen Leacock Building, example of "The New Brutalism."

FUNNY IS STILL FUNNY. Irony and serendipity. I've had it at the back of my mind for a while now to (re)acquaint InstaPunk readers with some of the fine but largely forgotten humorists of the twentieth century. (I have a list, which I'll tell you about if you ask...) It's actually a good time for humor, what with the whole world suddenly sliding into the sea with the force of an avalanche, and I've been meaning to get around to it. But I just haven't. Like Obama, my life seems to have become full of unwelcome distractions. Like Obama. But a truly unexpected sequence of events led to this post, and I'm happy it did. Maybe it can soften the grimace on some of your faces. For a few minutes at least.

Here's what happened. I was browsing (or is it drowsing?) my way through The Corner at National Review Online and stumbled on an aside by Jonah Goldberg, who was reporting on a speech he had given at St. John's/St. Benedict's College in Minnesota. He thanked his hosts and then observed:

Anyway, the one negative thing: St. John's architecture is quite simply hideous. It's an old school, founded and run by Catholics, and yet the buildings look like they are straight out of late 1970s Romania. One student told me they were something like "Neo-realist brutalist" or some such. Even the Church looks like a Bond villain headquarters to me. A Hollywood production company should scout the place out for all sorts of dystopian sets and whatnot.

I was suitably amused but not especially intrigued. His phrase "straight out of late 1970s Romania" said all I needed to know. But then he returned a few posts later with a half-assed mea culpa:

To say I don't know much about architecture is to insult far more knowledgable people who still consider themselves fairly ignorant. Still, in response to my earlier post, lots of folks are writing in to defend St. John's University's architecture by noting that much of it was designed by Marcel Breuer, a leader of the "brutalist" school.

Here's the thing: I don't care.

I remember hearing an NPR interview with some architecture muckety-muck in which he noted that the tastes of architects and the tastes of the public at large are further apart than in almost any other area of the "art" world. I don't know if that's true, but if it is, I'm with the public. I really dislike the vast bulk of modern architecture (I don't necessarily feel the same way about interior design). I think the folks who tore down the old Penn Station are just shy of criminals.

I think architects have a habit of making buildings for other architects not for their own societies. In short, I don't like ugly buildings. I think buildings should be functional, attractive and comfortable. They don't have to be old-fashioned, though I think old-fashioned buildings are nifty. And if they aren't going to be old fashioned, they shouldn't be ugly or communicate a sense of dread and foreboding. Ideally, they should have some connections with the traditions of the community and the larger society. Minimally, they shouldn't mock those traditions

If that makes me bourgeois, or a know-nothing, or philistine, I say: Jimmy crack corn and I don't care.

I agreed with Jonah, but now my pride had been, well, not stung but pricked. I did take a few courses on art and architecture in college, and I had no recollection of Marcel Breuer or anything called the "brutalist school." Hmmm. So I took the link to the Wiki site and the first building I saw pictured there was one I had actually been required to do a paper about in college, the†(then new) Boston City Hall.



The assignment had been to explain how the architecture complemented the much older surrounding buildings, which I tried manfully but incredulously to do, and so I was surprised to read this Wiki critique of "brutalism":

Critics argue that this abstract nature of Brutalism makes the style unfriendly and uncommunicative, instead of being integrating and protective, as its proponents intended. Brutalism also is criticised as disregarding the social, historic, and architectural environment of its surroundings, making the introduction of such structures in existing developed areas appear starkly out of place and alien.

Where was Wiki when I was struggling with that ridiculous essay assignment?† As I read on, of course, I realized that the term "Brutalism" was actually a nickname for the mainstream modern architecture pioneered by Le Corbusier, who was practically God Himself to the architecture schools and art history departments of my undergraduate years. I knew a lot of architecture students in those days and I grew mightily sick of hearing them repeat their mantra, "Form follows function." Of course it does. But that doesn't mean it has to be cold, ugly, grim, and inhuman.

As I read on, I encountered this, to me, extraordinary sentence:

Examples outside of the U.S. include McLennan Library, Burnside Hall and the Stephen Leacock building at McGill University in Montreal... [boldface mine]

Pure shock. Because I know who Stephen Leacock was. And the very last thing he was was cold, ugly, grim, and inhuman. Yes, he was a mathematician and an economist, but he was also a delightful humorist with an absolutely inspired sense of the absurd in a way that crossed contexts in bizarrely creative ways. You can read his bio here, but I'm not going to tell you about him. I'm going to show him to you. The good news for us -- if not for his estate -- is that there is no U.S. copyright on his work, which has resulted in a big chunk of his humor being available online. The first piece I'm reproducing here is from a book called Literary Lapses, all of which is here. It's a perfect sendup of the modern urge to reduce everything to facts and figures and dry statistics.

A, B, and C

THE HUMAN ELEMENT IN MATHEMATICS

The student of arithmetic who has mastered the first four
rules of his art, and successfully striven with money
sums and fractions, finds himself confronted by an unbroken
expanse of questions known as problems. These are short
stories of adventure and industry with the end omitted,
and though betraying a strong family resemblance, are
not without a certain element of romance.

The characters in the plot of a problem are three people
called A, B, and C. The form of the question is generally
of this sort:

"A, B, and C do a certain piece of work. A can do as much
work in one hour as B in two, or C in four. Find how long
they work at it."

Or thus:

"A, B, and C are employed to dig a ditch. A can dig as
much in one hour as B can dig in two, and B can dig twice
as fast as C. Find how long, etc. etc."

Or after this wise:

"A lays a wager that he can walk faster than B or C. A
can walk half as fast again as B, and C is only an
indifferent walker. Find how far, and so forth."

The occupations of A, B, and C are many and varied. In
the older arithmetics they contented themselves with
doing "a certain piece of work." This statement of the
case however, was found too sly and mysterious, or possibly
lacking in romantic charm. It became the fashion to define
the job more clearly and to set them at walking matches,
ditch-digging, regattas, and piling cord wood. At times,
they became commercial and entered into partnership,
having with their old mystery a "certain" capital. Above
all they revel in motion. When they tire of
walking-matches--A rides on horseback, or borrows a
bicycle and competes with his weaker-minded associates
on foot. Now they race on locomotives; now they row; or
again they become historical and engage stage-coaches;
or at times they are aquatic and swim. If their occupation
is actual work they prefer to pump water into cisterns,
two of which leak through holes in the bottom and one of
which is water-tight. A, of course, has the good one; he
also takes the bicycle, and the best locomotive, and the
right of swimming with the current. Whatever they do they
put money on it, being all three sports. A always wins.

In the early chapters of the arithmetic, their identity
is concealed under the names John, William, and Henry,
and they wrangle over the division of marbles. In algebra
they are often called X, Y, Z. But these are only their
Christian names, and they are really the same people.

Now to one who has followed the history of these men
through countless pages of problems, watched them in
their leisure hours dallying with cord wood, and seen
their panting sides heave in the full frenzy of filling
a cistern with a leak in it, they become something more
than mere symbols. They appear as creatures of flesh and
blood, living men with their own passions, ambitions,
and aspirations like the rest of us. Let us view them in
turn. A is a full-blooded blustering fellow, of energetic
temperament, hot-headed and strong-willed. It is he who
proposes everything, challenges B to work, makes the
bets, and bends the others to his will. He is a man of
great physical strength and phenomenal endurance. He has
been known to walk forty-eight hours at a stretch, and
to pump ninety-six. His life is arduous and full of peril.
A mistake in the working of a sum may keep him digging
a fortnight without sleep. A repeating decimal in the
answer might kill him.

B is a quiet, easy-going fellow, afraid of A and bullied
by him, but very gentle and brotherly to little C, the
weakling. He is quite in A's power, having lost all his
money in bets.

Poor C is an undersized, frail man, with a plaintive
face. Constant walking, digging, and pumping has broken
his health and ruined his nervous system. His joyless
life has driven him to drink and smoke more than is good
for him, and his hand often shakes as he digs ditches.
He has not the strength to work as the others can, in
fact, as Hamlin Smith has said, "A can do more work in
one hour than C in four."

The first time that ever I saw these men was one evening
after a regatta. They had all been rowing in it, and it
had transpired that A could row as much in one hour as
B in two, or C in four. B and C had come in dead fagged
and C was coughing badly. "Never mind, old fellow," I
heard B say, "I'll fix you up on the sofa and get you
some hot tea." Just then A came blustering in and shouted,
"I say, you fellows, Hamlin Smith has shown me three
cisterns in his garden and he says we can pump them until
to-morrow night. I bet I can beat you both. Come on. You
can pump in your rowing things, you know. Your cistern
leaks a little, I think, C." I heard B growl that it was
a dirty shame and that C was used up now, but they went,
and presently I could tell from the sound of the water
that A was pumping four times as fast as C.

For years after that I used to see them constantly about
town and always busy. I never heard of any of them eating
or sleeping. Then owing to a long absence from home, I
lost sight of them. On my return I was surprised to no
longer find A, B, and C at their accustomed tasks; on
inquiry I heard that work in this line was now done by
N, M, and O, and that some people were employing for
algebraica jobs four foreigners called Alpha, Beta, Gamma,
and Delta.

Now it chanced one day that I stumbled upon old D, in the little
garden in front of his cottage, hoeing in the sun. D is an aged
labouring man who used occasionally to be called in to help A,
B, and C. "Did I know 'em, sir?" he answered, "why, I knowed 'em
ever since they was little fellows in brackets. Master A, he
were a fine lad, sir, though I always said, give me Master B for
kind-heartedness-like. Many's the job as we've been on together,
sir, though I never did no racing nor aught of that, but just
the plain labour, as you might say. I'm getting a bit too old
and stiff for it nowadays, sir--just scratch about in the
garden here and grow a bit of a logarithm, or raise a common
denominator or two. But Mr. Euclid he use me still for them
propositions, he do."

From the garrulous old man I learned the melancholy end of
my former acquaintances. Soon after I left town, he told
me, C had been taken ill. It seems that A and B had been
rowing on the river for a wager, and C had been running
on the bank and then sat in a draught. Of course the bank
had refused the draught and C was taken ill. A and B came
home and found C lying helpless in bed. A shook him
roughly and said, "Get up, C, we're going to pile wood."
C looked so worn and pitiful that B said, "Look here, A,
I won't stand this, he isn't fit to pile wood to-night."
C smiled feebly and said, "Perhaps I might pile a little
if I sat up in bed." Then B, thoroughly alarmed, said,
"See here, A, I'm going to fetch a doctor; he's dying."
A flared up and answered, "You've no money to fetch a
doctor." "I'll reduce him to his lowest terms," B said
firmly, "that'll fetch him." C's life might even then
have been saved but they made a mistake about the medicine.
It stood at the head of the bed on a bracket, and the
nurse accidentally removed it from the bracket without
changing the sign. After the fatal blunder C seems to
have sunk rapidly. On the evening of the next day, as
the shadows deepened in the little room, it was clear to
all that the end was near. I think that even A was affected
at the last as he stood with bowed head, aimlessly offering
to bet with the doctor on C's laboured breathing. "A,"
whispered C, "I think I'm going fast." "How fast do you
think you'll go, old man?" murmured A. "I don't know,"
said C, "but I'm going at any rate."--The end came soon
after that. C rallied for a moment and asked for a certain
piece of work that he had left downstairs. A put it in
his arms and he expired. As his soul sped heavenward A
watched its flight with melancholy admiration. B burst
into a passionate flood of tears and sobbed, "Put away
his little cistern and the rowing clothes he used to
wear, I feel as if I could hardly ever dig again."--The
funeral was plain and unostentatious. It differed in
nothing from the ordinary, except that out of deference
to sporting men and mathematicians, A engaged two hearses.
Both vehicles started at the same time, B driving the
one which bore the sable parallelopiped containing the
last remains of his ill-fated friend. A on the box of
the empty hearse generously consented to a handicap of
a hundred yards, but arrived first at the cemetery by
driving four times as fast as B. (Find the distance to
the cemetery.) As the sarcophagus was lowered, the grave
was surrounded by the broken figures of the first book
of Euclid.--It was noticed that after the death of C, A
became a changed man. He lost interest in racing with B,
and dug but languidly. He finally gave up his work and
settled down to live on the interest of his bets.--B
never recovered from the shock of C's death; his grief
preyed upon his intellect and it became deranged. He grew
moody and spoke only in monosyllables. His disease became
rapidly aggravated, and he presently spoke only in words
whose spelling was regular and which presented no difficulty
to the beginner. Realizing his precarious condition he
voluntarily submitted to be incarcerated in an asylum,
where he abjured mathematics and devoted himself to
writing the History of the Swiss Family Robinson in words
of one syllable.

Everyone who's ever studied Algebra must appreciate the genius of turning so many dreary math problems into a touchingly human saga. If you're with me so far, there's a Leacock "nonsense novel" reproduced in full below the fold, but before you go there, let me tease you by suggesting that it proves what an appropriate "Stephen Leacock Building" might have looked like.



But no. Instead, his memory is desecrated with one of those soul-killing concrete monstrosities that made modernism a drab gateway to post-modern nihilism. It's heresy to "honor" a man with a memorial that embodies the exact opposite of what he was. That's a cruel irony indeed. But also a post-modern propensity. So maybe the Stephen Leacock building is actually the first post-modern architecture. That might have given Dr. Leacock a laugh. And now he can give you a few more laughs.





First Rap


TRY TRY AGAIN. It's serendipity day. I know InstaPunk is champing at the bit to do another of his devastating politico-cultural analyses, but I'm crowding him out of the picture on this otherwise doleful Thursday. Two good friends whom I speak to not often enough these days sent me strangely related emails. The first came from a tough guy in the midwest who contemptuously scorned my old post about Eminem as heir to Rimbaud. But he has since found rap he finds energizing and fun. The second came from a tough guy out Las Vegas way who has recently started his own blog and, in his routine research, found something that just, well, struck him.


It's a performance, not a recitation. That's enough for now.

And I know why. The real father of rap is a white guy named Edgar Allen Poe. He wrote real poetry that was as relentlessly rhythmic as all the rappers have to be, and -- apart from everyone else in his generation -- he realized that writing was not a retiring, transparent exercise in storytelling but a performance. The only reason we don't recognize him for what he actually did is that the people who still declaim his poetry do it like Brit actors -- slowly, distinctly, and dramatically, rather than breakneck and pounding on the beat. The video my pal sent me is the hint of an intimation of what Poe really was.

What's the point? That rap may not be the deadly dead end it seems. It might be the precursor to a new artistic flowering. Poetry need not be the solipsistic semanticizing of academics whose idea of greatness is a spread in the Sewanee Review. Just as jazz jump started music early in the last century, rap might be a crude shock treatment catalyzing the revitalization of honest-to-God poetry. The return of energy, passion, and, well, electricity to a dying form.

After all, the first poetry was rhythmic, dactyllic, hypnotic, and quasi-musical. What seems a barbaric throwback may, in fact, be an inspired return to essentials. The next step is not the subtraction of music samples and driving beats, but the recognition that extraordinary poetic talent can also leverage music and beat.

The turning back of post-modernism might simply entail the typical revolutionary gambit of looking a century back and incorporating old greatness into a new esthetic. The rest of this post is nothing more than grist for that mill. Provocative (though flawed and always too slow) recordings and outstanding candidates for a new artistic leap.










Finally, two poems that beg to be re-rendered in the new esthetic. Both are by Swinburne, who stands shoulder to shoulder with Poe as the progenitor of 21st century poetry. A Litany. And Faustine.

Think on it. Faustine could top the charts. Right now.




Wednesday, April 22, 2009


President Odumma
Strikes Again



STILL WINGING IT. This one's going to come back to bite him. It wasn't bad enough to declassify and release the CIA files about "advanced interrogation techniques." No, he also had to open the door for the Attorney General to pursue prosecutions of Bush administration officials who developed the interrogation guidelines. Another shoot-from-the-hip executive decision by our reality-TV show president. How dumb is this one?

Let me count the ways. From this point forward, any terrorist attack on the United States or its overseas possessions and personnel will immediately trumpet this unnecessary political maneuver as an act of criminal folly. The American people won't need The New York Times or CBS News to ask, "Could this have been prevented by interrogations that were never carried out?" Obama will have nowhere to run for cover.

The decision to permit the Justice Department to treat matters of foreign and military policy as crimes is equally disastrous. There's no way to confine the witch-hunting to ex-White House officials. Members of congress who were also briefed on and approved these interrogation techniques will likewise be legally culpable if the guidelines themselves are adjudged criminal. Which means they will do everything in their considerable power to deflect the heat away from themselves by ensuring that the interrogators are also investigated and charged as felons. It's a Pandora's Box that once opened cannot be easily shut.

Further, the combined actions of exposure and permission for prosecution will guarantee that employees of U.S. intelligence agencies will, for their own preservation, refrain from participating in interrogations of any kind, since it will be automatic for all prisoners to claim that they were treated abusively. Which is bound to find fertile soil in an administration which has moved so swiftly to reclassify terrorists as criminal suspects entitled to all the constitutional rights afforded to U.S. citizens in the American judicial system. You can pretend all you want that there are Jack Bauers out there who will do everything necessary to locate that bomb in the schoolbus, but pretending is all it is.

Another thing. We've seen what happens when the congress and/or†the justice department goes after political targets in government agencies and other government institutions. Whatever the mission of the affected organization(s), it is derailed into a chaotic tangle of attorneys, leaks of sensitive information, and the casual destruction of countless innocents for whom the mere fact of a subpoena can destroy them financially (legal expenses) if not otherwise. The target this time has to do with intelligence and vital national security issues. Do we really want these agencies distracted and paralyzed while we remain at war in two theaters and while nuclear Pakistan is hovering at the tipping point of falling under terrorist control? uh, no we don't. And if the president had even half a functioning brain, he wouldn't want that either. After the inevitable circus, when the next attack occurs, people WILL remember the blind, smug sanctimony of these partisan proceedings. Will they be furious? You betcha.

Finally, the knowledge that the intelligence services have had their teeth pulled is likely to embolden terrorists. After eight years of being ruthlessly hunted down, they can now draw a deep breath and return to their plotting with renewed confidence and resolve. Their plans are more likely to succeed, and even if some of the plotters are captured, no plans will have to be suspended on that account. Just imagine the congressional hearings investigating the reasons why the administration failed to prevent the latest horror. And bear in mind that the Obama administration has just let the Bush administration off the hook for any and all future attacks. How incredibly dumb is that?

Somebody please tell me again why Obama is considered brilliant. I don't see it. From where I sit, he's exactly like every dimwit B-movie hero who turns his back on the momentarily stunned villain to go kiss the girl, right before the most murderous attack of all is launched at him. But I'm not expecting a B-movie happy ending to this one. Unfortunately, the people who will have to pay for this particular stupidity are American citizens the president is sworn to protect. When it happens, he'll probably just fire up the teleprompter and make another speech. Fat lot of good that will do.

UPDATE 4/23. Today's Wall Street Journal editorial properly captures the gravity of what has just occurred:

Presidential Poison

His invitation to indict Bush officials will haunt Obama's Presidency.

Mark down the date. Tuesday, April 21, 2009, is the moment that any chance of a new era of bipartisan respect in Washington ended. By inviting the prosecution of Bush officials for their antiterror legal advice, President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret.

Policy disputes, often bitter, are the stuff of democratic politics. Elections settle those battles, at least for a time, and Mr. Obama's victory in November has given him the right to change policies on interrogations, Guantanamo, or anything on which he can muster enough support. But at least until now, the U.S. political system has avoided the spectacle of a new Administration prosecuting its predecessor for policy disagreements. This is what happens in Argentina, Malaysia or Peru, countries where the law is treated merely as an extension of political power.

It begins.




Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Ducking

I remember when Bette Midler announced she
didn't want to see Jagger's 50-year-old chest.


THE NOTHING. Some conservatives are getting grouchy about the meme of President Obama as "celebrity" rather than "commander-in-chief." Stuart Rothenberg of RealClearPolitics.com has a clever entry on this topic today:

If you run through the recent Obama topics (e.g., the garden, the dog), you would have to say the Obama family's life resembles a couple of episodes from "The Dick Van Dyke Show" of the 1960s. (In fact, episodes 7 and 130 of that series dealt with dogs in the Petrie household.)

Actually, some inside-the-Beltway friends of mine have been comparing Obama to Vincent Chase, the lead character in the popular (and extremely hip) HBO series "Entourage," which tells the story of a young actor (not yet president) who becomes something of a celebrity and his hangers-on.

His entourage includes his often-over-the-top brother, Johnny "Drama" Chase (played, some think, in the case of Obama, by Vice President Joseph Biden); Turtle, his chunky gofer-buddy from childhood who'll do whatever Vince needs done (played by Communications Director Robert Gibbs); his reasonably sane friend and manager, Eric (played by strategist David Axelrod); and his hyperaggressive, hyperkinetic agent, Ari Gold (played by Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel).

The Ari Gold character, of course, is patterned after super-agent Ari Emanuel, Rahm's real-life brother. Ari Emanuel reps Mark Wahlberg, an actor and ex-rapper who is the executive producer of "Entourage"...

Is there a serious political angle to all of this Obama celebrity talk? There is.

In encouraging all of the celebrity coverage (journalists don't need much encouragement given the public's apparent unquenchable need for gossip), the White House surely is trying to keep Obama's appeal high among those Americans who really don't care a great deal about politics.

Being celebrities gives the Obamas a bigger audience, and probably deeper emotional commitments, than many politicians receive. Even if the economy doesn't recover completely and Obama's policy proposals stir up opposition, he could retain his popularity - and, with it, political clout on Capitol Hill - because of his (and his family's) celebrity coverage and appeal.

I understand the concern, but it's not mine. I think something else is happening here that's a great deal more worrisome than a 21st century PR tactic.

Let me explain. Right after college, I got a job working as a paralegal for an attorney who was also an entrepreneur in partnership with a businessman in South Jersey. Together, they bought struggling local businesses with an eye to turning them around and making profits where none seemed possible. The attorney was smart and I learned from him (he wanted me to go to law school), but the businessman was a revelation to me. His name was Harold Gunn, which couldn't have been more appropriate. He was six foot five, built like a defensive end, with a deep, gravelly voice that twanged just enough to remind you he was from Oklahoma and would never forget his roots. As a kid, he'd been dealt a bad hand. He went to the University of Oklahoma on a basketball scholarship that was terminated the day after his last varsity game. He wound up lifting crates at a Coca-Cola distributorship. But he had cagey eyes. He lifted the crates, to be sure, but he also took to observing the managers who ruled his life. He listened, learned, and one day decided that he could run the business better than they did. In a few years he was running the business. I first met him when my attorney boss bought a lumber yard and assigned me to work for Harold during its rehab. He immediately plopped me into the lumberyard as a yard hand. "You've got to learn what the business is before you can be of any use," he told me. I was willing. He liked that. My idea of a promotion from the yard was to be a truckdriver, which he approved with a knowing grin, and it was a couple of months later that he drafted me back into the office we yard hands called, not affectionately, "across the street."

He hadn't made any big moves yet beyond cleaning and repainting every inch of every building and fence. Like me, he'd been learning the business. On my first day with him, he gave me a tour, pointing out everything he had learned about the transaction flow and the people. He was on a first-name basis with everyone. He gave me a thumbail on all of them. "She's a clerk but she can handle a lot more." "He's been doing the same thing every day for years and can't change." "She's offended by anything different." (He did her face and voice in two seconds and shushed me when I laughed.) He explained his method. His first act had been to retire the old owner and name one of the longtime office employees as manager. To see what would happen in an environment where everyone knew their jobs were on the line. He showed me the manager working at his desk, visible through a glass partition. "What do you think he's doing in there?" Harold asked. The man was very very busy with scraps of yellow paper and the phone. Harold told me, "He spends all his time checking up on purchase orders and accounts payable. He's ducking."

"What's that?" I asked. Harold Gunn explained. "It happens a lot," he said in his booming undertone. "You put somebody in charge of something and they're so scared of the responsibility that they find a pile of busywork to bury themselves in. They're so busy being busy they can't possibly find the time to do their real job." Harold fired the manager a few days later. Just like that. He wasn't cruel about it, but he expressed no sense of guilt or sorrow either. If the business died, everybody would be out of a job. Bosses can't duck.

Early experiences like this are deeply formative. It was because of Harold Gunn that I wound up going to graduate business school rather than law school. I liked his directness. His ability to see the business coursing through even an antiquated body of habit and robotic employees. His sense that self-confidence had to be leavened with learning and observation, followed by purposeful action. His acceptance that risk was everywhere and not to be feared but met head on. He called that "gut punching." I'm sure he was a force to be reckoned with on the Sooner boards. Just as I'm sure he never ducked anything.

Since then, I've always been especially attentive to how people react to the experience of taking on a new job. And I've learned through decades of business experience that there are many different ways of ducking. In four years of consulting with various General Motors divisions, for example, I discovered the phenomenon of the divisional or business unit manager who follows his promotion with months of attending high-level meetings at other locations. His own direct reports never see him and know him only by phone, voicemail edicts, and memos. For some reason, he is afraid to inhabit his own office, the place where all the dread responsibility awaits him like a black hole of confrontation and possible exposure. Like Joseph Heller's Major Major, he is always out, never available, forever unreachable.

Major Major's character shows how an indifferent bureaucratic system can award a position of authority to someone who, being unwilling and/or unable to handle the position, can only fulfill his responsibilities by hiding from them (as shown by Major's using the window to enter and leave his office and not signing his real name to documents). Major Major doesn't want to be compared with Henry Fonda or to be in a position of authority; he just wants to live a "normal" life by mitigating the damage dealt by his ridiculous name, but bureaucracy forbids him. It's yet another Catch-22, as indeed is the arrangement by which any of the men may meet him: you can only see him when he's not in.

That's how President Obama's first hundred days strike me. Problems have been identified but, to my mind, misdiagnosed. He can't stop campaigning for a presidency he's already won say some. He's narcissistically in love with his own celebrity say others. What no one seems to be realizing is that his unending schedule of public appearances means that it's impossible for him to be doing any honest-to-goodness homework in learning the presidency. George W. Bush made few public appearances during his first hundred days. No doubt, he was chastened by his new responsibilities and spent days on end cosseted with advisers and subject matter experts who instructed him about the countries he demonstrated a poor grasp of during the campaign, the technical ins and outs of the U.S. legislative process, the functions of the cabinet departments and the key players in their permanent staffs, protocol, and the relationships among the various entities -- from the Joint Chiefs to the NSA to the Federal Reserve to the Council of Economic Advisers -- the president can use, manipulate, command, and negotiate with as circumstances require. And Bush had been a government executive before, as Governor of Texas.

How hard is it to imagine the Oval Office during the first few months of any presidency? Piles of briefing books loading down every flat surface. Wave upon wave of government professionals meeting with the president to explain what they do, how they do it, what their issues and sensitivities are, how the the requirements of the executive branch interact with the committees and lawmaking perquisites of the congress. Not to mention the battalions of State Department officials explaining the fine points of existing and contemplated treaties whose work goes on regardless of any change of personnel in the White House. What we call a "heads-down" time, when campaigning gives way to the sober realities of governance.

Except that we've all been a witness to Obama's schedule. When has he had any time for this kind of of homework? He's been on the run almost continuously since he took the oath of office. Bear in mind that for every hour of public appearance, there are probably three to four hours of preparation for that public appearance -- time with speechwriters, rehearsals, itinerary planning, travel time, and the necessary cool-down time afterwards. In less than a hundred days, he's been to Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, two prime-time press conferences, and, seemingly, a televised speech a day, as well as town halls in East Jesusville, USA, and podium affairs with audiences ranging from the CIA to Detroit auto executives. He's been so busy that he had his first cabinet meeting yesterday and has yet to meet with his various economic advisory entities. In fact, he's been so busy that most of the top-level positions in the Treasury Department that's running the U.S. economy (into the ground) are still unfilled and un-nominated.

When, in all of this frantic running around, has he had any heads-down time with those briefing books? He hasn't. That's why he's pumping out gaffes at a record rate. He doesn't know that Austrians don't speak "Austrian." He doesn't know that the Monroe Doctrine discouraged interference in Latin America. He doesn't know that the Bay of Pigs invasion occurred before he was born. He doesn't know that the United States is much older than the contemporary nation of Turkey. He doesn't know that running all over the world apologizing for everything every prior American president did and taking exception to only those charges which might be construed as personally aimed at him is unpresidential and nakedly vain. He doesn't know that condemning executive gatherings in Las Vegas costs jobs for working people in Las Vegas. He doesn't know that nominating one tax-cheating lobbyist after another to his administration is something that ordinary tax-paying citizens might come to resent. He doesn't know that tossing the first, most vital pieces of his legislative agenda into the voracious maw of congress to fashion as they see fit is a suicidal policy for any president, let alone a brand new one. The prevention of most such bonehead mistakes is sitting in those briefing books in the Oval Office. But he hasn't been there, has he? And if you really think he has, when has he? Tell me. As I write this, I'm pretty sure he's jetting somewhere else to meet publicly with someone else and say some more platitudinous words into the teleprompter before jetting back to have a photo-op with his dog and his daughters and his oiled-up pecs.

The celebrity strategy isn't an offensive gambit. It's the best his handlers can do. If you could see inside the White House staff, my bet is you'd see a gaggle of frustrated operatives who are concocting desperate workarounds for the fact that the President of the United States is running like hell from his real job.

Ducking.

The presidency is hard. That is, if you're trying to do a job for the American people rather than yourself.


Think of the pain. JFK couldn't even look at Marilyn during the Missile Crisis.


LBJ during the Vietnam War. He was smart, too, wasn't he?


Bush during the Iraq War. Yes, he suffered. Why do they all age so?

But if you never accept the responsibility in the first place, maybe you really can run and hide and pretend that it's all about you, not the country you swore that silly old oath to protect and defend. But in that case, maybe you were a dead man to begin with.



As a footnote, I'm bemused by the continuing consensus that Obama is "brilliant." Personally, I see no sign that he is chiefly or even largely about brains. If he had aced his SATs or LSATs, we'd have heard about it. (His prep school required taking the Merit Scholar exam; Obama isn't a Merit Scholar. Hmmm.) A man of ego such as he is couldn't resist letting us know if he had quantitative proof of a genius IQ. Ergo, he doesn't. He hasn't even released his college transcripts, let alone his standardized test scores. He's been playing a desperate role all his life -- that of the man who seems highly intelligent until you get past his mere manner to the substance (or lack of it) underneath. If he were smart, he wouldn't be afraid of those briefing books, and he'd know that policy-making isn't done on the fly as a subset of the speechwriting process.

But he is ducking those briefing books and making everything up off the top of his head as he goes along. Which is why I'm desperately afraid of him. I'm very much affrighted by the possibility that he's a nerdy overachiever who's finally overachieved himself into a situation he can't handle. And unfortunately, you can't duck your way through the presidency of the United States, no matter how much time you spend hiding on the road and on TV.




Monday, April 20, 2009


Nose to the
Grindstone.


No entertainment here, Kemo Sabe. All news. In stainless steel links.

GOOD NEWS TAKES WORK. It's hard to do but worthwhile. CSPAN 2 has BookTV, and CSPAN 3 has American History. The cable services don't want to share what these channels are actually showing at any given hour. But. If you check in regularly, you can find good stuff. Like the two gems Mrs. CP and I found this weekend.

First up, George Friedman of Stratfor speaking about his new book, The Next 100 Years. This is one of the rare times when we wish you could turn off the video and listen to the audio, because his tic of weaving back and forth while talking is cumulatively unbearable. The substance, though, is cheering. He's a high-level strategic thinker, well paid for his analyses at Stratfor, and he doesn't see Europe, China, Russia, Iran, or any other currently self-proclaimed seer or bully overtaking America in the next century. He thinks the War on Terror has already been won (as we've intimated here and elsewhere.) Furthermore, he points out that Americans tend to overestimate the gravity of their own internal woes, not seeing that everyone else is in far worse shape. His picks for world powers America will be dealing with? Poland, Turkey, and Japan. Well, maybe not in that order. Watch his presentation here.

Next, for all the naysayers who think the Internet will kill not just newspapers but reporting, too, and plunge us into ignorant darkness forever, this Distance Learning program featuring John R. Solomon of the Washington Times should be a breath of fresh air. I'm well aware that professional journalists hate the Washington Times with a bilious passion, as the Wiki entry on that paper makes clear, but if you want a glimpse of a business model that leverages the lower materials cost of conveying news to consumers by computer rather than paper and ink, watch this dynamo discuss the business plan he's racing to implement at a media outlet that has chosen to attack rather than retreat in the face of hard times. And, yeah, he even references Joshua Chamberlain at Little Roundtop (Cool).† It's here. It's true no one on any of the three J-school panels† ever asks Solomon if the Times is making a profit, but I consider that one more sign of the dim-wittedness of the journalism profession, not a symptom of his pathology. See if you don't agree with me that he's working boldly and imaginatively to build a brand new business model that will make money. (And don't the journalism students seem dumber and less articulate than they should be? Does any one of them succeed in meeting his challenge of asking a question in 20 words without a prefatory, self-aggrandizing speech? You know.)

Okay. I realize I've given you two-plus hours of information to consume. All I can say is that you'll feel relieved afterwards. That's a lot better than watching two hours of sound bites from the 20-plus hours of dismal and depressing speeches Obama's delivered around the globe about everything from nuclear disarmament to car warranties in the last hundred days.

Complain all you want. Just not to me. I'm actually bringing you hope. Chain Gang could do that, too. If he weren't so busy making filthy lucre. Like some sick American capitalist.... (But we do miss Puck Punk, don't we? Especially during the Anyshell playoffs? Yah.)

Regardless. Do your homework. No playoffs till you've watched the videos. Got It?

P.S. uh, yeah, you caught us. Puck Punk is a Chain Gang persona. If you didn't know, sorry. NOT. We have one thing to say: PP/CG, get your ass in here and explain the Anyshell to us before the Flyers are jettisoned into the ether. We've already had one unacceptable blow this week. We won't stand for another. South Carolina, my ass. You're Philly, and it's time you checked in. So there.




Sunday, April 19, 2009


An Anniversary


Oh, yes, the original does exist. On hand made paper. In perfect calligraphy.
Signed by all the†
bands who wrote the book and survived the wars over its
content. It is
masterfully preserved, beautifully framed, and heartbreaking
to look at. And, no, it isn't for sale. Some of the red ink
is punk writer blood.

ANOTHER ANNIVERSARY (CALLED COLUMBINE)
. No, it's not a round year of anniversary, but there are reasons nonetheless why this is a significant date for remembering the dedication of The Boomer Bible. Most obviously, the next in the endless succession of new messiahs has come, and so it's appropriate to recall that would-be saviors always have a facile spiel to sucker us in with. The other big reason is that thanks to devoted next generation punks, the once impossible dream of a compleat electronic version of The Boomer Bible, with a fully computerized Inter-Column Reference is close to being accomplished, awaiting only some iterations of proofreading to be published and accessible to everyone. And I'm humbled to point out that no one at InstaPunk had anything to do with this astonishing feat. It's been done as a labor of love by incredibly clever and selfless volunteers. They could use some help with the proofreading, though, which is best done by people who didn't do the writing or the transcribing. When the electronic authors see this, they will tell you how to participate if you want to, and what the rewards will be.

We've reached the point, all these years in, where the print version of TBB is finally getting difficult to acquire, even though the publisher refuses to deem it 'out of print.' So for the benefit of those who have become regulars at InstaPunk.com, which did have a hand in the writing of the original work that inspired the site, I'm going to reproduce some of the customer reviews of The Boomer Bible currently posted at Amazon.com. To make sure you don't think this is all propaganda, I'll begin with the most negative of those reviews and hope you'll accept my assurance that the few others who agree with his appraisal say almost exactly the same thing about the book.

2.0 out of 5 stars Doorstop,
Parts of this book are funny. But not 1000 pages. Insightful? Maybe, if you're new to insight. I paid $4 for it remaindered at B. Dalton's. It, uh, doesn't float.

Others have been kinder:



5.0 out of 5 stars Life changed,
I first came across this book in juvenile detention. I was kept in there for truancy charges, and one boring day I hastened over to a not commonly visited area, the bookshelf. The fact it was thick stood out, any thick book must be important, so I thought at the time, and saw the front cover, not like any other book I'd seen, sat down, and read the introduction, which at the time I almost believed. I went on to read the histories, one of the most offensive I'd ever read in a long time, full of racial stereotypes that I almost wanted to believe were untrue, but I could not find any evidence against the well established/proven statements. Then came the punk testament:

Ways 34.5: We want to be more, not less than the dead. Ways 7.7-8:† And they must've known something, More than a lie.

Us.1-5:† Are we all alone out here? Are we crazy and hopeless and doomed? We don't think so, And if you don't think so either, You are welcome to come with us.

I stayed awake almost the entire night reading it, I resolved to make my life a lot more meaningful, I wrote a note on the inside cover to the next person that picked up the book: and then passed it onto someone who needed it when I was released. I went out and bought it, despite the fact I had no income. (Yes it's that good) I then followed the message of the punks of South Street (Yes, its still that good) and studied classical works, even going back and the Holy Bible normally collected dust at home. This book will change the way you think almost as much as the Holy bible would. But only `If you can manage to live up to it.' (Psayings 5A.45)

In closing, this book is a satire, it lifts you up on your toes putting others down, then swiftly kicks your un-guarded rear by putting YOU down. One of the greatest books of all time, you don't have to agree with it or disagree, you don't have to hate or like it, just don't be apathetic towards it.


5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever. Laird is a genius.
I read the Boomer Bible 5 years ago. At first I thought it was just a humor book. It's sold in the humor section of book stores. The book is indeed hilarious. But it's also a profound and frightening journey into our modern world. Virtually every subject from the beggining of time is touched upon and we learn from Laird's distinctive style of writing just how we got into this modern mess we're in. After reading the censored chapter (where some harrier has crossed out all the lines they don't want you to read-a very clever device), I felt profoundly depressed. I believed I was a harrier and that there was no hope. Laird's satire really hit home. But the punk testament pulled me right out of the myre and gave me new hope. Laird is a genius, the book is hilarious and brilliant. At first you hear of Harry and you are excited and amused by his teachings. You want to believe in the things he believes in. He speaks for you, but slowly you learn that holding on to those beliefs and not questioning them are where we've gone terribly wrong. When I started the book, I was indeed a Harrier, after reading it, I'm a punk with an axe to grind. I've bought at least 15 copies of this book as gifts for friends. I think it's one of the most importants book ever written. It should be read and studied by everyone.


5.0 out of 5 stars SomeOfTheMostBeautifulAndImportantWritingInEnglishHerein.

In this gorgeous book, R F Laird accomplishes many miracles, foremost among them an old man is lying on a gurney in a hospital doped up waiting to die and thinking back through his life and questioning his choices, his fate, his disappointments, and at one point his much addled mind grabs hold of first Jesus then Lincoln and makes a glorious amalgam of them in the torque of his heart's strings and the end of his rope and it is as beautiful as any passage written in English. This book was poorly marketed and its literary heights and cerebral depths and perceptual vistas are masked by the cover which is only in the most superficial and banal sense compatible with its content. Buy this book--it is the most important thing you can do if you care about rescuing a book that should never be forgotten from the jaws of potential (likely) obscurity.


5.0 out of 5 stars Reading this book definitely makes you a better person.
My family picked this up years ago, from a random shelf of a random bookstore. It looked neat. Then we fought over it for years. We never saw another copy, and no one had heard of it. If it weren't for the Wall Street Journal quote on the back, I would have been quite willing to believe the Author's note, which claims the book was never published, and is moved by a secret society. I took it to college, and my brothers screamed. Until they found they could order it from the internet. I never go anywhere without it, and sleep with it near the bed. It makes great protection from the demons of cynicism, hopelessness, and uncaring. This is just about the most effective piece of literature I have ever read. And I read a lot. I guarantee it has something for you.


5.0 out of 5 stars Powerfully Mind Opening,†
You'll see everything in a whole new light. After reading this, I hungered for knowledge. I began reading classic literature. This book will change your life!


5.0 out of 5 stars Below the surface,
I think that the prior reviewers missed the deeper point that this book was trying to make, beyond satire. On the surface it is a satire of christianity but it is actually a very popular christian book. All the self-references aren't just there for looks, but have meaning if you follow them. Like they reveal that the satirical part of the book is intended to create a picture of the modern secular intellectual mind and later to show why it is inferior to hope and faith (because they can't coexist for some reason).

It is not really a parody of christianity but is making fun of christianity for being a parody of what it is supposed to be. it is designed to get christian readers upset and show how science and human nature have negated religion, but later on it shows that humans lost hope when they lost religion. The boomers in this book aren't just the baby boomers, they are the generation of the Bomb. The invention of which allegedly proved to everyone that we will all destroy the planet and ourselves one day, and killed our hope. And science had already taught that we are insignificant, and accidental, and so we became apathetic non-thinking people, "Harriers." Harry was following the scientific idea of a deterministic universe to its logical conclusion, which is, exploit others, embrace materialism to create the illusion of satisfaction, and who cares because there is no punishment or responsibility and we're going to nuke ourselves anyway.

I think that non-religious people can get a lot out of the book too. I don't understand why non-theism is regarded as hopeless or soulless. The essential lesson of christianity that this book wants to recreate is the idea that people should be responsible for their actions, and the golden rule. It's making fun of christianity because it is not supposed to be about killing people who don't believe in your god, or believing god doesn't want you to have any fun, and hating people who do, or getting comfort from the thought that your enemies are gonna fry-all the things it has been about historically. It's supposed to be about brotherly love, which is why Philadelphia is the most important city in the book. It's a metaphor for the mental state of tolerance.

These are just my opinions, but I think it is superficial to see it just as a satire. I give it 5 stars because it was really funny and thought provoking on several levels. Strangely, this book's website is run by people who think [1] evolution is exceedingly silly, and [2] charity doesn't exist without gods, and [3] Stanley Kubrik helped NASA stage the moon landing.

[ED: Chain Gang is presently working on restoring the website BoomerBible.com, and when it's back up, you'll see why the reviewer may have mistakenly misread its satire on the three points he mentions at the end. For the record, the consensus here is 1) Neo-Darwinian Evolution is a flawed theory that is defended more as a religion than a science; 2) uh, no idea, except that we never said that, and 3) the only linkage between Kubrick and the space program we've ever made has to do with our spoof of 2001, which probably doesn't do enough to establish that we think the U.S. moon landings were absolutely authentic.]


5.0 out of 5 stars Boomers: Hate, Despise, Surpass?
The Boomer Bible begins with bad history: the kind of history that Boomers learned, but didn't pay attention to. It goes further into the invention of the Boomer culture: do what you want to, blame everyone else for what goes wrong. Finally, it ends with an invitation to surpass this most pathetic generation, knowing that while most of what they do is a mistake and misguided, they'll only blame someone else for it.

Read for enlightement.


5.0 out of 5 stars Meet a brand-new day.
I imagine many people have lifted "The Boomer Bible" off a bookstore shelf, given it a cursory flip-through, thought "weird", and put it right back. That's what I did -- but fortunately, a couple months later my mom saw it in the store while Christmas shopping and decided it would be a good gift for a weird kid. That was over a decade ago, and I still return to it regularly... sometimes for entertainment, sometimes for inspiration, and sometimes to dig for hidden treasure.

TBB can be read linearly, from front to back, just like any other book, and that alone is worth the price of admission for its immense variety of jokes, memorable turns of phrase, and observations about the often-unacknowledged dogma that permeates the modern mind. The "Past Testament" takes us through the history of the world and the bases of the "Baby Boomer" worldview; the "Present Testament" relates the story of Harry, a man of wealth and taste who inspires the Boomers to do all kinds of fun things; the "Book of Harrier Brayer" codifies the Boomer Way into a secular religion; and finally, a "Punk Testament" tells the story of some nobodies who react to the Boomer Way with crazy ideas.

When you've finished reading "The Boomer Bible", though, you've only finished reading it one way. There's a lot more to it, and if you enjoy puzzles, "The Boomer Bible" has countless hours of brain-teasers in store. (I should emphasize, though, that the book stands just fine on the merits of linear reading alone -- in my case, I had hardly any idea of the iceberg under the surface until I found discussions of TBB on the Internet, long after it had become my favorite book.)

The only reservation I have about recommending "The Boomer Bible" is that it might give some readers dangerous ideas. If you apply the Boomer Way properly this shouldn't be a problem, but if you fail to do so, don't blame me.


5.0 out of 5 stars A massively intriguing review of history.
Being quite Harrier-ish myself, I was intimidated by the size of this thing. But I didn't really appreciate the content of it until I dove in. In six or seven hundred pages, Laird has jammed in thousands of volumes of history, philosophy, political commentary, and every other conceivable subject under the sun. And bravo to Laird for making it all stunningly readable, even for a Harrier...


5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a six star social commentary.
We bought our first copy at a used book store, and couldn't put it down for 3 days. Our four teenagers (1 college, 3 high school) have thoroughly enjoyed its unique form of satire on modern thinking. The books on history and the nations leave us in stitches and foster much discussion. This is must reading for any free thinking teenager or young adult.


5.0 out of 5 stars A vicious romp through the psyche of the 20th century.
Laird creates a satire the way Orwell built allegory. You recoil in horror at his blatant accuracy, but must laugh at how preposterous our world has become. If literature provides the most accurate reflection of its time, this witty, scathing commentary will define the last half of the twentieth century.

5.0 out of 5 stars brilliantly funny.
Anyone aspiring to rule the world should be forced to read this book at the end of a "pointed stick".

It's also one the funniest books I have ever read. The first part of the book exploring world history through the lens that each great culture has had the absurd notion that they were (are) "the most chosen nation" is priceless.

I first read this book in the mid '90s. It's still funny and important. It's required reading for my teenage children.


5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely insightful and satirical.
For those of you who think you know history, think again; the past testament is a delightful read for those who can figure out what twisted wording describes which actual event. Parodies on all professions and walks of life make it an appropriate read for all adults.

5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant and mind-boggling.
I received it as a gift from my brother when it was first released. I was awed and amazed by its insight into our modern culture. But, the thing that amazed me the most was the hundreds of cross-references in the columns.

An incredible book to read through once and then read again in a random manner by skipping through the references,


5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Testament of the Modern World,†
This book is an absolute monster. It is a satiric and unforgiving scalpel that cuts to the heart of our modern and every-man-for himself society. Plus it is uproariously funny, which may help get you through 700 pages of text.

On the down side, a bit of the material seems a little dated. The evils of corporate America, the attitude of blaming everyone but yourself and the concept of drowning your troubles with "Consolation" (read cocaine) seems more in line with the whole 80's Miami Vice Michael Douglas "Wall Street" mentality that has become passť as it has become something of the norm in our modern world. There is also quite a hefty bit of repetition, especially as you move into the four gospels of Harry that all tell the same story with very few new facts. Even when the book gets bogged down, however, it is still a grand and stunning work of social commentary that some may loathe but all will recognize.

So what is the Boomer Bible exactly. Well it is NOT a parody of Christianity. It simply uses the format of the Bible to preach the things that have replaced traditional religion and morality as the world races headlong to the atomic Apocalypse that Laird envisions is coming soon.

The Old Testament Pentatuch portion is a history of the world, nation by nation, from ancient times to present day. These little history lessons are terribly politically incorrect using terms many will find offensive, but they also cut to the chase with unforgiving satire and brutal wit. These little histories are also stunningly direct and accurate in their portrayal of every nation's bid for becoming the Most Chosen Nation on Earth. This is the funniest part of the Boomer Bible and also the one that still rings the most true.

The Poetic Books that parody Psalms and Proverbs poke fun at all of the mindless entertainments mankind bothers themselves with from poetry and literature all the way down to television.

The Prophetic Books are direct messages to major historical persons telling them what their work will amount to, but assuring them that there will come a man who will tell everybody exactly the way that it is and make everything O.K.

This leads into the New Testament which begins with the four gospels of a guy named Harry who happens upon the message that all of mankind needs and which he begins spreading with a vengeance. That is until he is arrested for dealing in coke which helps all of his little Harriers not think about anything which is exactly what they should be doing if they are going to follow the way of Harry.

The Epistles are messages from Harry's core followers to different segments of the population telling them how to best employ the message of Harry into their lives.

There is even a Revelation type book concluding the main body of the work delivered as the last words of Harry's dying father who has been consigned to a nursing home by his uncaring sons to perish tired and alone. After the lengthy and repetitive nature of the New Testament portion, this final period to the work is an insightful and bittersweet heartbreak punctuating how far humanity has devolved from simply functioning as decent human beings.

The last segment is liturgy set up like the Book of Common Prayer helping you in your celebration and following of the ways of Harry.

Like I said, this book is a monster. The humor will hook you as you thumb through the book and find funny line after funny line. On a thorough reading, however, it will cut you to the bone as you recognize the state of the world we have all had a hand in making. It may be too late to change anything until the big one drops, but the Boomer Bible makes you do exactly the opposite of what Harry tells you to do--it makes you seriously think about it.

A couple of concluding points. You can decide for yourselves if any of the book seems "dated" because of its drug references, especially since our new president and secretary of state are so anxious to blame Mexico's problems on Harrier drugs and guns. And "blame" is obviously no longer part of our national ethos...

But some of you may be wondering, idly, about the role of punks in all this, like the ones we have here at InstaPunk. Here's a final reminder:

5.0 out of 5 stars The Way of the Punks.
So what exactly do you do with a book like this, whose cover shows a holographic hand, just begging "Gimme Gimme?" Do you read it straight through? Do you jump around using the ICR until you find everything it has to offer? Or do you supbscribe to the Way of Harry? The Way of the Punks? After ingesting this monstrosity of Modern Philosophy, that has taken some of us to new heights and sharper long scrivers, all you can do is think, Shammadamma.

Indeed.


They began The Boomer Bible. They were thought to be dead. They come back.

After the republication of†The Boomer Bible will come its sequel, Shuteye Town 1999, which is also -- after many false starts -- close to becoming internet-compatible. In the interim, fragments of Shuteye Nation will have to do, beginning with the Amerian Glossary. We were hyperlinking before Apple thought of it and multimedia before anyone coined the term. But we were always as merciless and misanthropic as Ambrose Bierce. Go figure. Maybe we should reconsider calling ourselves InstObama.com and call ourselves Anachronism.com instead.

Shammadamma.

Shammadamma.

UPDATE 4/28. What's all the fuss about TBB's Intercolumn Reference? Go here. One verse. And its tree of connections. As somebody said, The Boomer Bible was the last book made of paper. It was also the first made entirely of links.




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