Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

RIP Wyatt

Easy Rider rides no more.

Peter Fonda, the son of Henry Fonda and the younger brother of Jane Fonda, has died, PEOPLE confirms. He was 79.

Peter’s family confirmed the sad news in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE on Friday and said that the two-time Oscar-nominee died after suffering respiratory failure due to lung cancer.

“It is with deep sorrow that we share the news that Peter Fonda has passed away,” the family said. “[Peter] passed away peacefully on Friday morning, August 16 at 11:05 a.m. at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by family.”

“The official cause of death was respiratory failure due to lung cancer,” they continued.

Yes, I know he was pretty much your archetypical Hollywood limousine-liberal schmuck and all. Nevertheless, I still consider Easy Rider to be one of the damned greatest movies ever made, and it was Fonda that done it. Even though Jack Nicholson pretty much stole the whole show with his mesmerizing, too-brief turn as George, Fonda definitely had his moments too. Such as:




The bit I like most here comes at about 1:00 or so in, but of course one can never go wrong watching the whole thing. Fare thee well, Pete, and may you rest easy. If only for that one glorious moment, you done good.

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The mystic chords of memory

What could be more appropriate today than a reflection on Gettysburg by the Civil War’s greatest historian, Shelby Foote?

Lee laid his hand on the dead Jackson’s map, touching the regiion just east of the mountains that caught on their western flanks the rays of the setting sun. “Hereabouts we shall probably meet the enemy and fight a great battle,” he saud, “and if God gives us the victory, the war will be over and we shall achieve the recognition of our independence.”

One of the place names under his hand as he spoke was the college town of Gettysburg, just over 20 miles away, from which no less than 10 roads ran to as many disparate points of the compass, as if it were probing for trouble in all directions.

Lee groped his way across the Pennsylvania landscape, deprived of his eyes and ears (Stuart’s cavalry) and with little information as to the enemy’s whereabouts or intentions… Whatever Lee encountered, good or bad, was bound to come as a surprise, and surprise was seldom a welcome thing in war. And so it was. Coincidents refused to mesh for the general who, six weeks ago in Richmond, had cast his vote for the long chance. Fortuity itself, as the deadly game unfolded move by move, appeared to conform to a pattern of hard luck; so much so, indeed, that in time men would say of Lee, as Jael had said of Sisera after she drove the tent peg into his temple, that the stars in their courses had fought against him.

One more item concerned Lee, though few of his lieutenants agreed that it should be so. They were saying that Meade was about as able a general as Hooker, but considerably less bold, and they were exchanging congratulations on Lincoln’s appointment of another mediocre opponent for them. Lee, who had known the Pennsylvanian as a fellow engineer in the old army, did not agree. “General Meade will commit no blunder on my front,” he said, “and if I make one he will make haste to take advantage of it.”

The Confederates had the advantage of converging on a central point whereas the Federals would be marching toward a point that was beyond their perimeter, but Meade had the advantage of numbers and a less congested road net: plus another advantage which up to now, except for the brief September interlude that ended bloodily at Sharpsburg, had been with Lee. The northern commander and his soldiers would be fighting on their own ground, in defense of their own homes.

Meade had already lost control of events before he made the offer to abide by the decision of the first of his chief subordinates who took a notion that the time had come to backtrack. Even as the circular was being prepared and the engineers were laying out the proposed defensive line behind Pipe Creek, John Reynolds was committing the army to battle a dozen miles north of the headquarters Meade was getting ready to abandon. And Reynolds in turn had taken his cue from Buford, who had spread his troopers along the banks of another creek, just west of Gettysburg; Willoughby Ryan, it was called.

Lee was aware of Napoleon’s remark that at certain edgy times a dogfight could bring on a battle, and it seemed to him that with his infantry groping its way across unfamiliar, hostile terrain, in an attempt to perform the proper function of cavalry, this might well be ones of those times. He was worried and said so.

The Federals were retreating pell-mell into the streets of Gettysburg, already jammed with other blue troops pouring down from the north, under pressure from Ewell, as into a funnel whose spout extended south. Those who managed to struggle free of the crush, and thus emerge from the spout, were running hard down two roads that led steeply up a dominant height where guns were emplaced and the foremost of the fugitives were being brought to a halt, apparently for still another stand; Cemetery Ridge, it was called because of the graveyard on its lofty plateau, half a mile from the town square. Another half mile to the east, about two miles where Lee stood, there was a second eminence, Culp’s Hill, slightly higher than the first, to which it was connected by a saddle of rocky groun, similarly precipitous and foreboding. These two hills, their summits a hundred feet above the town, which in turn was about half that far below the crest of Seminary Ridge, afforded the enemy a strong position — indeed, a natural fortess — on which to rally his whipped and panicky troops, especially if time was allowed for the steadily increasing number of defenders to improve with their spades the already formidable advantages of terrain… It was clear that if the tactical advantage was not pressed, it might soon be lost altogether, first by giving the rattled bluecoats a chance to recompose themselves, and second by allowing time for the arrival of heavy reinforcements already on the way. Moreover, both of these reasons for continuing the offensive were merely adjunctive to Lee’s natural inclination, here as elsewhere, now as always, to keep a beaten opponent under pressure, adn thus off balance, just as long as his own troops had wind and strength enough to put one foot in front of the other.

The story of Gettysburg is one of the richest, most engrossing, and sometimes just damned strange in all the annals of warfare. Its scale and sweep are nothing short of epic, its central irony staggering: seriously, what irony could be more biting than that such grandeur should be borne up on the shoulders of the common rank-and-file footsloggers doing battle nose-to-nose with their enemies every bit as much as those of the larger-than-life men in command?

Gettysburg is a narrative filled with examples of brilliance and blunder; of extraordinary, almost superhuman valor; of the best-laid plans of brilliant commanders being laid all to waste by sheerest happenstance and blind, dumb luck. It is a tale of glory and heroism brought forth from the sordid, tawdry horror of one of the most murderous acts of organized human violence in history. It is profound nobility shining forth from the bloody muck and agony of the battlefield.

All those truths taken together lends the weight of prophecy to Lee’s famous quote from the earlier battle at Fredericksburg: “It is well that war is so terrible, else we would grow too fond of it.”

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Doctor John the Night Tripper

Fare the well to a most amazing musician: Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr John. Saw him tickle the ivories solo once at a big outdoor jazz fest in downtown Charlotte, and he was truly out of this world. Back in my own piano-playing days, I could handily (ahem) play: most of Mozart’s Piano Sonata in D for Four Hands (after doing a little rejiggering of the score to make it suitable for two); all of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata; the entire catalog of Scott Joplin’s ragtime stuff, which I committed to memory; and choice excerpts from some of Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas score, picked out from a scratchy cassette recording from off the TV speaker. I could even scrape adequately by on some of Fats Waller’s stride stuff, despite being handicapped by not having hands the size of a hamhock to reach those legendary walking tenths of his.

But I could never, ever come close to mastering the rollicking boogie-woogie whose apotheosis is in the vid embedded below. And you better believe I tried; OHH, how I tried, mightily and tirelessly. I bought lesson books featuring Peetey Wheetstraw, Mead Luxe Louis, and other titans of boogie-woogie; no dice. I could get the left hand going, and I could stagger along with the right. What I just COULD NOT do was both at once. And it just KILLED me, dammit.

Dr John was an intriguing and unique character indeed; his story is nothing short of dazzling. He played with everyone from the Stones to Ringo Starr to Gregg Allman to Lou Reed to Professor Longhair to John Legend to the Black Keys to…hell, it would be easier to just list the names of people he didn’t play with. He did more than three dozen albums. He and/or his music graced many movies, radio, and TV shows. He was even featured in a comic book. The theme song to one of the best kids’ PBS cartoons, Curious George, is his.

He fought a long, hard battle with heroin, and in ’89 he finally won. He switched from guitar to piano after shooting himself in the hand. He ran a New Orleans whorehouse, and did a two year jolt in federal stir for dope. He got booted out of Jesuit High School at 16 for playing in nightclubs. In the late 60s, he somehow contrived to work voodoo costumes and rituals into his stage show.

And in 1982, he wrote and performed the score for one of my verymost favorite movies, Cannery Row. That’s where the song below came from; M Emmett Walsh’s “Mack” character banged it out on piano in the epochal party scene, right before the celebrants utterly destroyed Doc’s house. And that was more or less my introduction to Dr John, or reintroduction, maybe. I had heard his classic hit “Right Place, Wrong Time” plenty of times, of course, but never did care a thing for that one.

This here, on the other hand…whew. It grabbed me hard, hasn’t let go yet, and I pray it never does. As I told the young ‘un when I played it for her in the car for the first time earlier today: I don’t care how much of a sour old grouch you are, there just ain’t no way in the world you can feel bad listening to this. Heck, I bet it could even lighten HILLARY!™’s mood a little bit, provided she got herself on the outside of enough bathtub gin beforehand. Bill could probably make his life a lot more bearable if he tried playing it for her now and then.

My kid loved it.



Malcolm John Rebennack performed without pause throughout his entire life on this earth. He died day before yesterday of a sudden heart attack first thing in the morning. But boy, did he ever do a lot of living. Rest easy now, Doc. Heaven’s Helluva Band just upped its game to a whole new level.

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Dulce et decorum est

The first, last, and only words necessary for Memorial Day are Aesop’s.

It was originally “Decoration Day”, the day to go and decorate the graves of the honored dead who fell in military service to this country. Don’t thank me, or anyone else you meet who served, for our service today. Because we’re not dead. So this isn’t our day.

It’s the day for people you probably never met, nor ever will, because they gave up all of their tomorrows, so you could enjoy your today. They lie in ranks, row upon row, on at least four continents, covering hundreds of acres of ground. They spoke nearly every language you can think of. They came in every color of the rainbow of humanity. Their average age is probably around 20 years old. Forever.

It’s still okay to enjoy a steak or a hot dog, knock back a beer or two, and get a killer deal on a big screen TV today. For most values of People Who Have Died In Service, that’s exactly the best thing you could do to remember them, if you could ask them.

Just remember those people who made it possible, and live a little more, for them.

Well said, buddy. A moving personal remembrance can be found here. God rest them, each and every one.

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Rolling Thunder!

The last ride?

Washington (AFP) – More than 100,000 flag-bearing bikers, many of them Vietnam veterans, throttled their engines Sunday for the annual “Rolling Thunder” ride through the capital as President Donald Trump vowed to keep the Memorial Day spectacle alive.

Spectators lined the route from the Pentagon to the National Mall to watch the growling parade of choppers, a leather-clad, red-white-and-blue tribute to American soldiers missing in the Vietnam War.

It had been billed as the last national Rolling Thunder ride by its organizers, but Trump, who loves a parade, appeared to offer a reprieve.

“The Great Patriots of Rolling Thunder WILL be coming back to Washington, D.C. next year, & hopefully for many years to come. It is where they want to be, & where they should be,” Trump tweeted from Japan.

The huge motorcycle rally began in 1988 with fewer than 3,000 participants under the motto “We will never forget.” The goal was to press for an accounting of those missing in Vietnam.

Organizers had cited difficult relations with the Pentagon — where riders line up to begin the rally — over logistics and costs, in announcing that this year would mark the last national rally.

“As always, the Pentagon is charging us with an outrageous bill for their services,” the group’s national president Joe Bean said in a letter to members.

Another letter co-signed by Bean said costs of staging the event had soared to more than $200,000.

“The organization will continue to bring awareness to the public, in years to come, with regional demonstrations,” organizers said in a statement on their website.

Trump, who was on an official visit to Japan, offered his support.

“Can’t believe that Rolling Thunder would be given a hard time with permits in Washington, D.C. They are great Patriots who I have gotten to know and see in action. They love our Country and love our Flag. If I can help, I will!” he said.

It’s the oldest, saddest story in America That Was: enterprising private citizens get together to create something from nothing using their own effort and ingenuity, without seeking government support or direction. Naturally, government gets busy strangling their brainchild with regulations, fees, red tape, and general harrassment. And another unique part of the once-vivid American portrait is erased forever, rendering the whole thing that much more lifeless, grey, and boring.

I’ll just say this: if Rolling Thunder annoys sniveling pussyfart Garrison Keiller this badly, then I’m all for the damned thing, and think a way should be found for it to continue for that reason alone.

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RIP the great Tim Conway

Having howled at his and Korman’s riotously funny, largely-improvised Carol Burnett Show antics with my family each and every week throughout my youth, I was all set to write something up on his death. But Aesop’s obit concisely says it all, and aside from mourning the fact that they just don’t do TV comedy like that anymore, I have nothing to add. The Burnett Show gang were such beloved staples in my home that my strongest reaction whilst watching the vids Aesop included was to think of my long-departed dad. He LOVED Conway and Co, and laughed harder than any of us. Ahh, those were the days all right.

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The Victor

Another great one gone.

Dick Dale, who has died aged 81, was the progenitor of what become known in the 1960s as “surf music”, a sub-genre of pop whose most famous exponents were the Beach Boys; he belatedly achieved wider recognition when Quentin Tarantino used his track Misirlou as the opening theme to one of the key films of the 1990s, Pulp Fiction.

Although mainstream success did not come to him until late in his career, it could be argued that Dale did more than many better-known guitarists to shape the direction of rock music. His influence lay not so much in what he liked to play, which never gained more than local popularity in his youth, as in the style of his attack.

Not to mention this aspect of his influence, excerpted from a recent post of mine:

Leo and Freddie clumsily made their way to the center of the room and focused on the stage, where their friend was leading his band. Dale was a marble statue, animated: a shovel-chinned superman wearing a madras blazer and a tie. A curl of greasy hair fell over his face while his dark eyes stared down at the veiny hands pummeling his Stratocaster. There were perhaps five more musicians up there, all dressed as immaculately, all swaying in unthinking unison to the beat, which was relentless. There was a drum kit alongside a Fender Precision Bass cranked up, and a trio of horns, but the star was Dale’s left-handed Stratocaster. It wasn’t playing just rhythm or lead, but somehow both. As the loose shuffle of the band swayed beneath him, Dale jackhammered electric notes out into the ballroom, as if trying to stab the sound of his guitar through the chests of his fans. His picks disintegrated on his thick guitar strings, and flurries of white plastic rained down on the checkerboard stage at his feet. Dale was punishing his guitar, pounding it, sawing it, threatening to tear it in half, and the resulting blare was like nothing Leo Fender or Freddie Tavares had heard. It wasn’t a sweet, clear melody. It was a jagged rhythm, a howl of steel, a squall of electric nails to which every single one of the three-thousand-something young people inside the Rendezvous Ballroom appeared desperately and completely in thrall.

Amid the din and the sweat, Leo turned to Freddie. “Now I know what Dick is trying to tell me,” he yelled. Some weeks later, Leo called Dale down to the factory. He’d ordered a new fifteen-inch speaker from the James B. Lansing company and installed it in its own cabinet. An amplifier he’d built for Dale was housed separately, to make the rig easier to move. During use, the amp box stacked on top of the speaker cabinet. Both pieces were wrapped in cream-colored vinyl.

“This is you,” Leo said to Dale. “You are the Showman. This is your amp.”

Another bit from the same post, telling the story of my own encounter with Dale:

As it happens, I have a Dick Dale story of my own for ya. Years ago, back in 96 or 98 or so, my band opened for Dale in Orlando, at the famous Sapphire Supper Club downtown. Our hotel, and Dick’s, was an easy stroll from the venue, so after our set was done we walked back to our rooms to imbibe a few cocktails and such in preparation for Dale’s headlining set. As I was walking back, I ran into Dick on his way to the venue, stopping him to thank him for having us on the bill and telling him I was a fan and really looked forward to hearing him play. He looked deep into my eyes, placed a hand firmly over my heart, and quietly said in a deep, serious voice: “It’s one thing to hear it. But you really gotta FEEL it.”

I was, I dunno, flabbergasted yet flattered to have been granted a moment of such serious attention from him. It felt like he was sharing something that was truly important to him, although I was admittedly a bit puzzled by it in the moment. Then we got back to the joint just as he was cranking up, and that shattering volume hammered at my chest like artillery. And then, right then, I knew just what he meant, I got it.

You gotta FEEL it, sure enough—and when Dale cranked up the volume to hang ten off that well-worn slab of lefty Strat, you definitely, definitely did.




As Dale knew, there’s a physical aspect to high-volume rock and roll that the thing lives or dies on. The pounding of the bass against your heart, the agonized wail of the guitar, the crash and bash of the drums: these things are the oxygen that makes the music breathe. Or…not. Granted, a bad band that tries to mask their lack of ability with sheer obnoxious volume is a painful thing to endure. Still, the fact remains: the only thing more frustrating than a bad band that’s too loud is a GOOD band that ain’t loud enough.

I’m still fielding texts from music-biz pals of mine passing the news along, and in every one of those texts one descriptor has come up: “total BADASS.” That, the late Richard A Monsour most certainly was. Rest in peace, Dick. Long may you wave.

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Happy Dead Stalin Day!

As Glenn says, it’s always good when Stalin’s dead.

Some would say…it’s not nice to celebrate the death of someone. They say that…in that person’s own way, they were just doing the best they could to get through the shit-show that is adulthood and life. Those people who’d say that…when speaking of Joseph Stalin, can go f*** themselves with a chainsaw. Joseph Stalin will always be remembered, at least by people that read books and shit, as one of the worst people to ever live and one of the most murderous pieces of shit in the 21st century. Mao beat him out. It’s like the worst people always seem to flock to Communism…hmm what a trend.

On this day in 1953, that mustachioed tyrant died. And we’re going to celebrate. As should you. Because f*** Stalin and f*** Communism. If you’re curious as to why we’re so happy about this day, it’s because that walking, talking shithead killed anywhere between ten and twenty million of his own people…because you know Communism is totes for the people. What a f***in’ Utopia!

Let us also not forget that until Hitler double-crossed him, Stalin was totes cool with the Nazi’s f***ing up the rest of Europe. It’s only when Hitler’s ambitions led him to strike at his one-time ally that Stalin decided Nazi Germany was totally not cool. They weren’t in love, but tyrants of a feather always commit mass murder.

So remember kids. Commies suck ass and are usually friendly with other murderous totalitarian regimes. Despite whatever utopia they promise you, you’re more than likely going to get the utopia of a gulag and hard labor for the rest of your days.

Funny how Leftards always like to prattle gratingly on about how Marxism is “a beautiful idea on paper,” how it’s never been properly implemented, all that rot. They blithely ignore its repeated failure to produce the results it claims to desire, instead leaving only poverty, hunger, misery, subjugation, and a huge pile of corpses in its wake. But for some strange reason, not too many of them want to talk much about the Great Men who led the precious “people’s revolution” in the unhappy nations they afflicted: Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and now Chavez. Odd, ain’t it?

Update! The “beautiful idea.” On paper.

Thus, even in theory, socialism implicitly requires theft, enslavement, deprivation, imprisonment, murder, and mass deception. The country and its people make little difference to the downward progression. No other pair of countries illustrates the difference socialism makes than North and South Korea. Situated in the same place with the same group of people in the same circumstances, socialism alone made the difference between one becoming rich and developed and the other becoming a miniature Hell on Earth.

Socialism fails on all levels, and everyone should recognize this. Anyone who embraces the socialist label deserves scorn and correction, not praise and adulation, since they subscribe to a theory that is implicitly cruel and dysfunctional. For a desperate country looking for any kind of change to their misery, the appeal of socialism might make sense even if it won’t work. But for the richest country in the history of the world, the appeal of socialism makes no sense. Only a profoundly lazy, ignorant, or morally corrupted society could accept it in any form — even in theory.

May God forbid that our own domestic Marxists ever succeed in their twisted quest. But if they do, they’ll at last have an opportunity to learn history’s lesson—the hard way.

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Another loss

Probably won’t mean all that much to you younger types out there (if any), and I ain’t sure it matters greatly to me either. He was, after all, only my second-least-favorite Monkee—I was a Mike Nesmith man myself. Nonetheless, I sure did love me some Monkees when I was a kid. Still do, honestly. So rest ye well, Peter Tork; you provide entertainment and a moment’s joyous respite from life’s vicissitudes and travails in a particularly troubled time. That’s an honorable, even noble, thing, and you will surely enjoy God’s eternal blessings for it.




One of my very favorite Monkees tunes, then and now, featuring who else.

Update! Y’know, as like-minded as we are on most topics, I shoulda known Aesop and I would agree on this too.

Derided unfairly as the Pre-Fab Four, the Monkees nonetheless out-toured and outsold the Beatles at the height of their powers. With characteristic common sense and gentleness, Peter’s comment on the group rings through the ages:

“There must have been something to us. We sure sold a lot of records.”

Indeed they did. It’s time for the prissy prigs to end the travesty, and put the group in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, where they belong, and while surviving band members Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith are still alive to rake in the long-overdue honor.

Seconded. The pecksniffian snobs notwithstanding, the use of talented, proven-successful songwriters in the making of an artist’s career was simply the way music was done from the 1920s until the mid-60s, when Bob Dylan and others supplanted it with the era of the singer-songwriter. Pop stardom had been a “pre-fab” process right from the very beginning of pop music itself; spontaneous, grassroots phenoms who broke through sans the professional assistance of the music-biz machine were but rare exceptions for decades.

Moreover, the Hall Of Fame isn’t about artistic validity or worth—it’s about, y’know, fame. To claim the Monkees somehow weren’t famous enough to have earned a spot there is ludicrous on its face. As a musician myself, with nearly 45 years of learning my craft, writing songs, playing for money, and teaching students under my belt, I will gladly stipulate that big sales numbers are by no means any indicator of talent, quality, or artistic merit. What they are a surefire indicator of is…FAME. The Monkees had it, with bells on. To keep them out of the R&RHoF is just spiteful, fraudulent hypocrisy, and very little else.

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Gone but not forgotten

From MisHum’s ONT:

January 29, 1952, Born on this day, Thomas Erdelyi, (Tommy Ramone), Hungarian drummer with the Ramones who had the 1977 UK No.22 single ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’. Erdelyi also worked as a record producer and was an assistant engineer for the production of the Jimi Hendrix album Band of Gypsys. He died on July 11, 2014 following unsuccessful treatment for bile duct cancer.via thisdayinmusic.com

He embeds a Ramones clip, of course, but my personal favorite video of theirs is from earlier in their storied history, with the added bonus of actually including Tommy thrown in:




The buzzing, distortion-soaked overdrive permeating every frame of this video, “Loudmouth” most especially, is something that doubtless horrified the sound engineers working on the Arturo’s Loft TV show when it aired in ’75, but it’s the very thing that makes it work. The raw, adrenaline-soaked energy revved up by that joyously-homicidal buzzsaw is pure Ramones, a HUGE part of what made them great.

That’s an almighty thick wall of bone-crusher sound those four skinny, awkward twerps from Queens are putting out—the birth of a true rock and roll revolution whose towering impact still reverberates to this day. Notice how Joey’s knees are trembling at around 20-25 seconds in; he’s wound up so tight by the sheer grinding power of the monster he and his bandmates are unleashing he’s damned near to shattering like cheap glass. He desperately clings onto the mic stand as if it were the only thing tethering him to life itself…then casually kicks it away and slings it around as if to express his disdain for life preservers of any kind, declaring his defiant willingness to sink or swim on his damned own, thanksverymuch.

Nobody who hasn’t personally experienced that dizzying rush can ever begin to imagine how good it feels. And there’s no way to explain it with mere words, either; they just aren’t adequate. It doesn’t happen every time you walk onstage, of course. But as Dave Edmonds once said, the times it does are what get you through the times it doesn’t, and are what keeps you coming back hoping for more of it. Truly, it’s the most powerful addiction there is. I’m out of the game now myself, and even though I never attained the level of success the Ramones did, I still miss it every minute of every day.

I’ve posted a good many times on the Ramones in this space: for example, here, here, here, and here. Hard to believe they’re all gone now except Marky—all the Founding Four, Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, and Tommy. RIP, boys, and thanks for the music. Ya done good.

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The notorious RBG

She’s dead, Jim.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will miss a second week of oral arguments as she continues to recover from cancer surgery she underwent last month, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Friday.

But Ginsburg’s recovery is on track, there is no evidence of remaining cancer in her body and no further treatment is planned. 

Glad her treatment was so successful. The nice thing is, said treatment seems to have had a salubrious effect on her physical appearance too:

BrideOfGinsberg.jpg


Once those scars on her neck heal up, RBG is gonna be quite the looker, ain’t she?

(Via Bill)

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Tragedy

Damned awful.

Today Federalist Staff Writer Bre Payton passed away of a sudden illness at age 26. As her family and friends prepare for a funeral in her home state of California and a memorial service in Washington D.C., friends and colleagues sent prayers, love, and memories across Twitter.

Some sort of flu, it seems. 26 is way too young to go, whatever the cause; I’m sure her family and friends are all just devastated by this sudden loss. Of course, I’ve excerpted her stuff plenty of times ’round these here parts, and…well, there just ain’t a lot one can say about something like this. May flights of angels speed this lovely young woman to her rest. And may the horrid, evil Lefty ghouls somehow restrain themselves from dancing on her grave like they usually do, just this once.

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Another posthumous lionization

Wonder if they’re brazen enough to repeat this process when Dubya dies. Oh, who am I kidding; of COURSE they are.

The death of President George H. W. Bush provided liberals and their Fredocon houseboys yet another opportunity to lament the fact that all Republicans aren’t dead. Their feigned amnesia about what libs were saying while Bush 41 was still in the arena, and their latest hack attempt to tsk tsk tsk tsk about how the Bad Orange Man isn’t like [Insert Name of Dead Republican Here] serves to justify the prophylactic cynicism that we Normals should strive to cultivate.

President Bush was an imperfect man and a frustration to hardcore conservatives like me, but he was also a WW II hero and patriot, and he was my Commander-In-Chief when I went to war for the first time. I knew he would stand behind my troops and he did, and the good things I have to say about him on the occasion of his passing are proper and sincere. Patriot, war hero and my commander: that is how I choose to remember him.

He most certainly WAS a wartime hero, too; the story of his shoot-down in the Pacific is nothing short of jaw-dropping, and he quite clearly was deeply haunted over the men he couldn’t save many years later, as is recounted in Flyboys*.

But liberal crocodile tears over long-gone Republicans whom they vilified in the most disgusting terms when such was more useful to them isn’t the worst of it. It’s the low, cheap skullduggery behind all that phony new respect that really rankles:

To understand what liberals are doing when they hold up Bush 41 (or any other past Republican) as a model for the GOP’s future, we need to confront his flaws. None of this assessment is intended disrespectfully – his service outshines the things that we conservatives found frustrating. But you cannot understand why the left is seeking to exploit him without understanding why the left prefers him to Trump. Bush 41 was a good guy, and his flaw is that he thought other members of the ruling class were good guys too, which is why he never suspected that that his “friends” were not his friends. He was too deeply imbedded in the elite, too bought-into the establishment. 

The Democrats played him like a fiddle, convincing him to raise taxes because, well, everyone thought raising taxes was the right thing to do. At least, everyone he hung out with in DC and read in the papers. And Bush 41 was stunned to find that the people who elected him were really serious about it. By breaking his word – we cannot sugarcoat it – he prompted the rise of populist Ross Perot, thereby allowing the sordid Clintons into the White House. We’re still dealing with their stench today.

Democrats want Republicans to be more like Bush 41 not because they want war heroes or “truth-tellers” but because they want Republicans who split the base and lose. They want a Republican they can cajole into breaking his campaign promises then crucify him at the next election for doing it. They don’t want someone so gauche and vulgar that he fails to care what the WaPo thinks and who punches back three times as hard. They want a Republican who understands that his job is to try, unsuccessfully, to slow the inevitable and unstoppable spread of progressivism, and to lose that struggle like a gentleman.

It still amazes me that, after excoriating him to high heaven when he was President and for a long time after, some libtards now speak almost wistfully of even Reagan in preference to the Great Satan Trump. Then again, though, there are also plenty of RINO GOPers—once every bit as NeverReagan as they now are NeverTrump, mind—doing the same thing.

Honestly, I was no fan at all of GHWB back in the day. I ain’t now either, for entirely different reasons. But his WW2 heroism is enough to allow me to note his passing here with no more than a “rest in peace” and “Godspeed.”

*A shocking, disturbing, and utterly spellbinding book which is available here, and worth every penny.

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Flyin’ fingers

Farewell to one of the greatest pickers of all time.

Roy Linwood Clark (April 15, 1933 – November 15, 2018) was an American singer and musician. He is best known for having hosted Hee Haw, a nationally televised country variety show, from 1969 to 1997. Clark was an important and influential figure in country music, both as a performer and helping to popularize the genre.

During the 1970s, Clark frequently guest-hosted for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show and enjoyed a 30-million viewership for Hee Haw. Clark was highly regarded and renowned as a guitarist, banjo player, and fiddler. He was skilled in the traditions of many genres, including classical guitar, country music, Latin music, bluegrass, and pop. He had hit songs as a pop vocalist (e.g., “Yesterday, When I Was Young” and “Thank God and Greyhound”), and his instrumental skill had an enormous effect on generations of bluegrass and country musicians. He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1987, and, in 2009, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He published his autobiography, My Life in Spite of Myself, in 1994.

Stars just didn’t come any more dazzling than the great Roy Clark in his 60s and 70s heyday. From Hee Haw to The Beverly Hillbillies to Tonight, to appearances on Johnny Cash’s old show, to who even knows what-all else, Roy Clark was more than a household name, particularly down here in the South. I actually remember seeing this one at my grandma’s house back when it aired:




If you find the comical 70s threads in that one too distracting, try this on for size instead:



And if that don’t suit ya, you’re probably a goddamned hip-hop fan or something.

I remember my dad’s side of the family, professional musicians and jazz aficionados all, watching Hee Haw and deriding Buck Owens without mercy. Buck, of course, was no also-ran himself in the music biz, having pioneered the legendary and highly-influential Bakersfield sound. No matter; my dad’s people were unmoved, seeing little of merit in poor old Buck. Hell, they turned their nose up pretty loftily indeed at country music in general, which probably explains why they didn’t think much of Owens. In a family full of hardcore jazz geeks, he never really stood a chance.

But they all absolutely loved the great Roy Clark, and respected him tremendously. They professed puzzlement at why someone of his towering ability would waste his time sharing the stage with a fumble-fingered, marble-mouthed, warbling hack like Buck Owens. It amounted to Roy lowering himself in a way they just couldn’t fathom, and didn’t much want to. But they all tuned in each and every week just the same, exclusively to watch ol’ Roy singe the neck of any of the several stringed instruments he was adept at eliciting howls for mercy from with those flyin’ fingers of his.

It’s depressing to speculate on how few people under the age of fifty or thereabouts might remember who Roy Clark was, or ever even knew in the first place. Like I said, in his heyday Clark was as famous a celebrity as celebrities came—hit records, industry awards and honors, guest shots on pretty much every 70s TV show you could name (including Love American Style, Flip Wilson’s short-lived variety show, The Muppet Show, and…uhh, The Odd Couple?!?), membership in the Grand Ole Opry, four feature films—and he remained active in the biz pretty much right up to the end. He even served as a commercial spokesman for Hunt’s ketchup in the 80s, which I had actually forgotten about my own self.

Such is fame, I reckon: gratifying, a hell of a lot of fun while it lasts, but in the end ephemeral and insubstantial. Roy Clark’s fame was based wholly on real talent, dedication, and years of hard work perfecting his craft going all the way back to his childhood—all of which seem to be increasingly rare beasts these days when it comes to attaining celebrity status.

I’ve never been one of those who cling to cheap nostalgia for an earlier time, or longed to go back and live in an idealized past myself. Nonetheless, I gotta say that in the field of entertainment and the arts…well, dammit, objectively speaking those days WERE better, in oh so many ways. I’d have to give the nod to any era that could produce a guy like Roy Clark in preference to one that foists…oh, pretty much the entirety of last week’s Billboard Hot 100—it’s doubtful in the extreme I’d recognize a single name from it, a merciful ignorance for which I am truly thankful—on us all.

I admit, that MIGHT be just me. Possibly. Could be I’m just too long in the tooth to appreciate how much “talent” it takes to manipulate turntables, shout dirty limericks, and push buttons to coax computers into emitting beeps, gurgles, screeches, and other sound effects—then calling such electronic eructations “music” when there isn’t a single actual musical instrument within twelve miles of the recording studio. Now if you rotten kids would kindly get the fuck off my lawn

Rest easy, Roy. Ya done good.

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An old, sad story

Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, heroes, and villains.

And so Stan Lee’s stable of mid-twentieth-century superheroes became the multi-billion-dollar franchises of the twenty-first century, making a fortune for Lee and his new Hollywood associates and rather less for the talented fellows who’d cranked them out every month way back when. With the exception of Spider-Man, almost all of Lee’s household-name heroes were drawn by a fellow called Jack Kirby, who never enjoyed the star cameos Stan did in the Marvel movies. Kirby lived modestly in Irvine, California, and spent his days sat on “an old, straightback kitchen chair parked in front of the crummiest old drawing table you ever saw”. He ought to have died the wealthiest guy in Irvine. Instead, his widow had to beseech Marvel for a modest pension sufficient to cover her mortgage, groceries and medical bills.

That’s just the way it was in the comic business. The superheroes had superpowers, super costumes, super cars, super spaceships, super secret headquarters, super biceps, super chest muscles, super thighs and super calves, but they were created by guys on highly non-super pay scales – and that was true even for the fellow who was the signature look of the entire form. Until the movies CGI-ed these guys, when you pictured Captain America pounding through the streets in red-white-and-blue long underwear, or Ice Man riding a roller coaster of ice through the skies, or the guy in the pork-pie hat pointing upwards at the unseen monster about to start rampaging down Main Street, or the coed in the romance comic sitting alone in the booth when the big man on campus wanders in with the new blonde, or the Two-Gun Kid or Sgt Fury and his Howlin’ Commandos, when you pictured superheroes or sci-fi, creatures or cuties, war or westerns in comic-book form, you were picturing Jack Kirby. He’s the look of an entire industry. At Marvel Comics in the sixties, they gave Spider-Man to Steve Ditko, who, in contrast to Kirby’s bodice-busting heroes, drew Peter Parker as an undernourished nebbish and gave the series its distinctive character. But the house rule was simple: Stan Lee wanted Kirby to draw like Kirby, Ditko to draw like Ditko, and everybody else to draw like Kirby. For a good couple of decades, everybody else did. He’s what Roy Liechtenstein was appropriating when he took Kirby’s style and turned it into “pop art,” though Liechtenstein made more dough out of “WHAAM!” (now on display at the Tate in London) than Kirby ever made out of “WOW!” (now in a crate of junk under an antimacassar in your mom’s attic).

For every superhero, there’s a supervillain, and the best ones are usually the loyal ally who turns out to be playing a double-game. To Kirby’s fans, the bad guy is a kid who showed up in the office of Timely Comics in the late thirties, the nephew of the company’s business manager. He was a gofer and they let him do some copywriting, and, if Kirby was Captain America, the kid was kind of a Bucky, the boy sidekick. By the time Kirby returned to the company in the fifties, the kid was editor-in-chief: Stan Lee. They were a team: as the Marvel credits put it, “Smilin’ Stan Lee and Jolly Jack Kirby.” But Jack wasn’t that jolly by the late sixties, and Stan was smilin’ to the end, on all those gazillion-dollar-a-year retainers for “consulting” and cameos. As Kirby’s wife Roz put it, “Tell Jack that after he finishes saving the universe again, he has to take out the trash in the kitchen.”

If I remember right, the guys who created Superman got royally screwed by DC Comics and died broke too.

It’s an all-too-common story in the music biz too, of course. In fact, I remember years and years ago seeing a documentary on Willie Dixon, I believe it was, wherein he told all about how he would walk into one Tin Pan Alley publishing house, sell ’em the sheet music for a song, and collect his money. Then he’d go back down to the street, sit on a bench, and quickly rewrite some of the lyrics, give the same song a different title, and go on to the next publishing house to sell the slightly-rejiggered song to them.

As I recall, he laughed heartily while describing his complete lack of concern or worry over the lawyerly maelstrom that ensued; as far as Willie was concerned, he knew going in that he was going to get shafted one way or another on the royalties he would earn, so to hell with the suits in the big fancy offices. He got his little bit up front; let them sort out the backend, and best of luck to the thieving bastards. There was sorting out aplenty to be done too, since Willie wove a tangled web indeed by writing damned near every blues song you ever heard of and having his stuff covered by everybody and his sister’s cat’s grandmother.

So. Onwards.

As I mentioned on Rush yesterday, when the superheroes got super-budgets something got lost. I think the last summer blockbuster my kids dragged me to was Avengers 7 or possibly X-Men 12. Anyway, it felt kind of weird to be watching a movie where the good guys have to figure out how to save America from the most advanced, evolved, giant-sized, invincible supervillains ever devised, and then leave the theater and return to a world where, in Afghanistan, the good guys are losing to the least super villains ever concocted – goatherds with fertilizer.

Can it be any wonder that comic-book fantasy and escapism are so highly prized nowadays, with current American reality being as dismal as it is?

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Remembrance

The best Veterans’ Day post I’ve seen has gotta be Gerard’s.

In time, I left home for the University and, in the manner of young men in the 1960s and since, I came upon a lot of new and, to my young mind, excellent ideas. A minor one of these was that it was time to stop being a ‘Jerry’ — a name I associated for some reason with young men with red hair, freckles and a gawky resemblance to Howdy Doody. I decided that I would reject my family’s preferences and call myself by my given name, ‘Gerard.’ In fact, in the callous manner of heedless boys on the verge of adulthood, I would insist upon it. I duly informed my parents and would correct them when they lapsed back to ‘Jerry.’

This attitude served me well enough and soon it seemed I had trained my bothers and my parents in my new name. Of course, I’d taken this name not because of who my uncle had been or because of the cause for which he gave his life, but for the selfish reason that it simply sounded more “dignified” to my ears.

I was a student at the University of California at Berkeley and it was 1965 and we had no truck with the US military that was “brutally repressing” the people of Vietnam. We were stupid and young and nothing that has happened at Berkeley since then has changed the youth and stupidity of its students. If anything, my era at the University just made it somehow possible for Berkeley students to think that their attitudes were as noble and as pure in their minds as they were stupid and selfish in reality. I was no longer a “Jerry” but a “Gerard” and I was going to make the world safe from America.

My name change plan went well as long as I confined it to my immediate family and my friends at the University. It went so well that it made me even stupid enough to try to extend it to my grandparents during a Thanksgiving at their home.

At some point during the meal, my grandmother said something like, “Would you like some more creamed onions, Jerry?”

And because I was a very selfish and stupid young man, I looked at her and said, “Grandma, everyone here knows that I’m not Jerry any longer. I’m Gerard and you’ve just got to get used to calling me that.”

Immediately, the silence came into the room. It rose out of the center of the table and expanded until it reached the walls and then just dropped down over the room like a large, dark shroud.

Nobody moved. Very slowly every set of eyes of my family came around and looked at me. Not angry, but just looking. At me. The silence went on. Then my grandmother, whose eyes were wet, rose from the table and said, “No. I can’t do that. I just can’t.” She left the table and walked down the hallway to her bedroom and closed the door behind her.

The silence compounded itself until my grandfather rose from his chair and walked to the middle of the hallway. He took a framed photograph off the wall where hung next to a framed gold star. It had been in that place so long that I’d stopped seeing it.

My grandfather walked back to the table and very gently handed me the photograph. It showed a smooth-faced handsome young flyer with an open smile. He was dressed in fleece-lined leather flying jacket and leaning casually against the fuselage of a bomber. You could see the clear plastic in the nose of the plane just above his head to his right. On the picture, was the inscription: “Folks, Here’s my new office! Love, Gerard.”

My grandfather stood behind me as I looked at the picture. “You are not Gerard. You just have his name, but you are not him. That is my son. He is Gerard. If you don’t mind, we will continue to call you Jerry in this house. If you do mind, you do not have to come here any more.”

Then he took the picture away and put it back in its place on the wall. He knocked on the bedroom door, went in, and in a few minutes he and my grandmother came back to the table. Nobody else had said a word. We’d just sat there. I was wishing to be just about anyplace else in the world than where I was.

They sat down and my grandmother said, “So, Jerry, would you like some more creamed onions?”

I nodded, they were passed and the meal went on. My parents never said a word. Not then and not after. And, to their credit, they continued to call me Gerard. But not at my grandparents’ house.

An incredibly moving story, and an incredible piece of writing, of which you want to read every word. And again, here’s the link to donate to Gerard, who in case you missed it was burned out in the Cali wildfires and lost everything. Help the man out if you can.

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Veterans Day

Fascinating piece on French painter Henri Farré, documentarian of the birth of military aviation.

When World War I broke out, Farré decided to return home to France and do his part. Because of his artistic skills, he was given a rather interesting military commission to depict the war on canvas. While other artists, such as John Singer Sargent, also saw duty recording events like battles and troop movements during World War I, Farré was asked to record the brand new combat sector of military aviation for posterity. It would prove to be what set him apart from all other artists working at the time.

Between 1914 and 1917, Farré traveled to battlefronts and training grounds around France, painting images of aircraft and the men who flew and maintained them. These artistic duties often brought him into great personal peril, such as serving as a gunner at the back of a two-seater airplane, trying to machine-gun a German plane while trying to keep his sketchbook clamped between his knees.

What he saw up in the clouds, as he and his pilot stared at death head-on, often affected him so powerfully that sometimes he would start painting as soon as possible after getting back on the ground, while the colors and light effects he had seen were still fresh in his mind’s eye.

The paintings Farré produced were quite varied, and don’t fit neatly into a single category. Some of the images would not look at all out of place hanging next to a piece by Childe Hassam or Camille Pissarro––all sparkling tones and azure skies. Others are strikingly, violently different, featuring deep blacks and intense flashes of red, green, and yellow, symbolizing things like incendiary bombs or tracer fire. These works exhibit the kind of quick, punctuated, but deliberate brushwork that one sees from Henri Matisse or André Derain.

In 1919, Farré published his memoir of the war, titled after the exhibition and illustrated with a number of his works. He recounted his efforts to get to know (and capture in his art) the men with whom he served, and what aerial combat was really like. It’s an absolute howl of a book, despite its very serious subject matter, because these early flyboys were a riot: tough, smart, and daring, yet sophisticated and nonchalant. Farré was a generation older than they, yet they accepted him as one of their own, because he jumped right into the gung-ho spirit of things with them.

In the book, Farré shares stories of some truly harrowing combat adventures, all the more terrifying when one realizes that there is no cover over the cockpit, no parachute, and no way to survive coming down if you get hit.

No protection from the elements either; I have an old dead-tree biography of Richtofen somewhere around here which has a picture of him suited up beside his famous blood-red DR1 just before a wintertime flight, wearing great bulky furs and cumbersome, elbow-length gloves. I bet he was still damned cold up there even with all that gear on, too. Elsewhere, Aesop wishes his beloved Corps a happy birthday with a picture of the recent MOH ceremony honoring Marine Sgt. Maj. John Canley:

When you look for another service where an 80-year old who retired 30 years ago gets his Medal of Honor, still fits his dress blues, and looks like he could still be on active duty, but don’t find one anywhere else, you’ll know what they mean about “Once A Marine, Always A Marine.”

Heh. S’truth. I’ve known a bunch of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children over the years, and you could say the same about most of ’em. They may leave the Corps, but the Corps never leaves them.

Oh, and for slope-shouldered pussyboy dumbass Barrack Obama: that’s pronounced “core,” not “corpse,” punk.

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Tragic

Gerard Van Der Leun is an old and dear friend of ours here at CF, and I’m very saddened to learn that he’s just suffered a devastating loss due to the Cali fires:

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From a subsequent post:

Today I have to start to replace the basics. The inventory of needful things and obscure objects is long and spotty. As I said above, no briefs have I. Nor spare socks. Nor toothbrush. Nor corkscrew. Nor any one of a thousand trivial things that form the tools of life and the shell of the self. Nor things like the photograph of my one daughter when she was small enough to rest there along my forearm. Losses one shrugs at and losses that make me weep here in the dawn.

What I do have is the love and the generosity of my cherished friends and readers. It is more wonderful and more widespread than I ever could have imagined. I will be weeks thanking all but my gratitude is deep and abiding.

What I do have is this small unknowing black cat sleeping curled at my side after our ride out of the fire.

What I do have is my mother sleeping quietly in the next room, her breathing soft and low as her life is fine and bright.

What I do have is my mother’s warm and settled apartment she has lived in for nearly 40 years. Others are sleeping in shelters, churches, RVs, and tents.

At the end of things we can, I think, come yet again to know  — as we know and forget and know and again forget so many times — that Paradise is not a place that lasts forever here on Earth, but something that exists in the hearts of good people that hold their holy light within and, when that light is called forth, let it shine through.

My heart breaks for the man, it truly does. But at the same time, his abiding positive attitude and ability to hold his blessings at the forefront of his awareness with gratitude rather than lapsing into inconsolable grief and self-pity is inspiring, and says so much about Gerard’s character and grit. I can only sit back in awe and admiration at such resilience in the immediate aftermath of disaster. You can donate something to help him out here, and I urge you to consider doing so if you possibly can.

Gerard, my friend, you’re one of the good guys. May God bless you and keep you in this most trying time. I’ll keep this post up top for a few days, so’s our less frequent visitors don’t miss it.

(Via WRSA)

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“We are all Proud Boys now”

And not a moment too soon, either.

“Our attack is merely the beginning,” Antifa’s terror manifesto read after they led a premeditated and well-coordinated assault on our Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. They hoped we would cancel a scheduled event the next night with founder of the Proud Boys Gavin McInnes as a result of their violent outburst. They were wrong.

It is not easy to be a Republican in New York City, but our ragtag group does the best we can to fight for conservative values in the belly of the beast. Earlier this week, we refused to back down in the face of extreme oppositiony from the leftist mob. Those of us who have been in the fight since at least the 2016 Trump campaign have seen our fellow patriots demonized, ambushed, insulted, defamed, beaten, and robbed of their livelihood. From our experience, we know that to acquiesce to their ultimatums and threats is to surrender. We stood defiantly in the face of those anti-American terrorists in the street, and welcomed Gavin McInnes to our event as he held a rubber sword to honor legendary Japanese anti-socialist Otoya Yamaguchi.

The leftist terrorists shouting unoriginal slogans in the streets were enraged that we exercised our 1st Amendment rights. Despite all their threats, the event proceeded, largely thanks to the great work of New York’s Finest. They guarded the doors even while chanting Antifa berated them as “Pigs” and “Fascists.”

After leaving the event, a colleague and I witnessed a right-leaning independent journalist being assaulted and mugged by multiple masked Antifa thugs who did not want their likenesses revealed to the greater public. We saved the man from a vicious mob beating from Antifa, who called me a “Nazi” despite my being Jewish and having family who died in Europe during the Holocaust. These Neo-Brownshirts even attacked the man’s girlfriend, showing that these enemies of America will stoop to any depth in order to shut their opposition down, all under the guise of “Fighting Fascism.” 

After meeting with the police to give a statement on what I saw, I was confident that justice would be served. I could have never imagined what was next to come. A complete inversion of reality was widely reported by the press, who seized upon the incident to fabricate an “October Surprise” to damage the GOP’s chances for November’s midterm elections. Top Democratic officials, including the New York governor, New York City public advocate, and the attorney general all badmouthed the Proud Boys publicly and called for their prosecution for defending their rights and engaging in self-defense during other incidents that night. Antifa assailants are referred to simply as “protestors” while a multiracial and multiethnic group of Proud Boys are defamed as “White Nationalists” in the press, being simultaneously “doxxed” by the online wing of the Antifa mob. Now, the feeding frenzy has started. Our stand for freedom against leftist terror has been completely spun. Out-of-context quotes from Gavin McInnes are being used to paint him as a right-wing militant leader when he in all actuality he just runs a patriotic fraternal group who like America and beer. Antifa’s acts of terror and manifesto promising more violence were glossed over completely in nearly all reports.

This is what makes Antifa so dangerous. It is not their fighting skills, which are subpar at best, but it is their immense establishment support. These people would be laughable otherwise, but they operate with near impunity due to supporting the establishment’s values of open borders, globalist socialism, censorship, social degeneracy, and limitless centralized power. There is an organized network of leftist lawyers who will defend these terrorists free of charge, and countless deep state apparatchiks working as judges, journalists, law enforcement officials, university administrators, and federal bureaucrats who regularly abuse their power to protect these unabashedly violent activists. This is a far worse problem than Antifa merely getting payoffs from Soros and other far-left oligarchs through their shady non-profit networks.

Read all of it—and at long last acknowledge fully and without flinching that we are in fact already at war with the TWANLOC mob…and that all the desperate wishes for “civility” and “dialogue” will not and cannot alter that, or deflect it, or defer it, or make it go away. Which essential truth necessitates a new category, in honor both of Breitbart, who coined the phrase, and the Proud Boys, who are breathing new life into it in defiance of the both the thug Left and the mewling cucks who moan about their righteous actions: FUCK YOU, WAR!

Update! It might be a little OT, but in poking around to find a link explaining the origins of Breitbart’s immortal line, I ran across some other good stuff and felt it was worth adding into the mix. Such as this, from a speech to a Massachusetts Tea Party group:

I must say, in my non-strategic… ‘cuz I’m under attack all the time, if you see it on Twitter. The [unclear] call me gay, it’s just, they’re vicious, there are death threats, and everything. And so, there are times where I’m not thinking as clearly as I should, and in those unclear moments, I always think to myself, ‘Fire the first shot.’

Bring it on. Because I know who’s on our side. They can only win a rhetorical and propaganda war. They cannot win. We outnumber them in this country, and we have the guns. [laughter] I’m not kidding. They talk a mean game, but they will not cross that line because they know what they’re dealing with.

And I have people who come up to me in the military, major named people in the military, who grab me and they go, ‘Thank you for what you’re doing, we’ve got your back.’

They understand that. These are the unspoken things we know, they know. They know who’s on their side, they’ve got Janeane Garofalo, we are freaked out by that. When push comes to shove, they know who’s on our side. They are the bullies on the playground, and they’re starting to realize, what if we were to fight back, what if we were to slap back?

There’s just a part of me that wants them to walk over that line.

And so they have, in spades. This next is from a pretty decent Slate article shortly after Andrew’s untimely death, written by Dave Weigel, of all people:

Every time they upload a story or tweet, Breitbart.com’s editors are answering a question: How do you keep this stuff going without your star? Can you keep getting on CNN and Fox and the Drudge Report? Does your inbox keep filling up with tips and video scoops? How do you replace Andrew Breitbart?

You really don’t. Breitbart’s death was commemorated by memorials in L.A., New York, and—twice—in D.C. The admiring bloggers who put on the first D.C. memorial went on to start the Breitbart Scholarship. Ideally, board members like James O’Keefe will use it to dole out cash for enterprising student journalists.

The second D.C. memorial, which I attended last night, was held at the Newseum in a theater a few steps away from a giant slab of the Berlin Wall. Four members of Congress gave speeches paying tribute.

“I don’t know anyone who can, with clarity, articulate the left and what they’ve done over the last 100 years,” said Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, after the memorial. “I didn’t think I was the only one who understood it, but when I read his book, I realized—wow, he really understood it. Marcuse, the Frankfurt School, all of that.”

The tribute ended with a short video tribute by the makers of the upcoming documentary Hating Breitbart. The #war hashtag started with their original trailer. It ends with Breitbart closing a long rant with, “Fuck you,” staring at the camera for a few seconds, then saying, “War” like he was trying to spook somebody out of the hiccups.

“We didn’t even push that hashtag,” said Andrew Marcus, the director of the documentary. He rattled off some of the other Breitbart memes that have spread since the Web pioneer died. “IAmBreitbart, BreitbartIsHere, the posters—that’s all organic. Nobody’s planning that.”

I don’t think Breitbart’s importance to the consolidation and crystallization of Fed Up Americans into a movement working to reclaim and restore America That Was can be overstated. A reformed Leftist himself (his disgust with the Clarence Thomas hearings is what finally drove him from Progressivism’s cold, choking embrace, ironically enough), he was one of the first high-profile figures on the Right to lose patience with the moribund GOPe’s politics of appeasement and perpetual defeat and unabashedly, aggressively punch back at the Left instead. He was bold, indomitable, and effective. He was a wholly serious, dedicated man, but he also managed to maintain his sense of humor and a casual, almost flippant attitude about his own role in the struggle to right our shipwrecked country.

Regrettably, Weigel is right: you don’t replace a Breitbart. He’s far from forgotten, and his fingerprints are all over the Trump Revolution and its string of welcome, overdue victories. He was the right man at the right time, and that’s a fact. But we could certainly use him now, maybe more than ever. He is sorely missed.

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Heartfelt condolences

To both Zman and Steyn on the loss of their beloved pets. No pain quite like that one, as I’m sure most of you know all too well yourselves. Z’s account is poignant, yet uplifting:

While waiting to see the vet on Saturday, a woman I know came into the office. She was there to say goodbye to her dog. Apparently they called her with the bad news and she came into to complete the process. That was my guess anyway. The girl at the desk seemed to know what to do, despite the fact the woman was sobbing uncontrollably. She sat down on the bench next to me. Out of instinct, I guess, I don’t know, I slid over and put my arm around her. She collapsed against me into a mess of tears and wailing.

I don’t know what it is, but the sound of a woman crying touches some unexamined part of my being. It’s crazy, I’m sure, but that sound reminds me why a man is willing to fight another man to the death or leave his lands to sack the city of some bastard who insulted his people. My grandfather always said that a man protects those who need protection and defends those who need defending. Maybe that’s all there is to it and the sound of a woman crying just triggers those lessons I heard a million times as a kid.

There was nothing I could do for her, obviously, other than to be a shoulder to cry on, as she waited to say goodbye to her dog. Sitting there, being kind to a neighbor, my burden felt a bit lighter. There are always others worse off than you. That’s something I always try to keep in the front of mind. My life is not a walk in the park, but it is not an endless stream of misery either. Most people, it seems, carry around a lot more baggage than me, or they are less able to carry the load than me. Either way, I’m a pretty lucky guy.

Coming home, alone with my thoughts, I thought about how serendipity had intervened to make a tough situation a bit less difficult. My first pet, as an adult, was a cat. Growing up, we had dogs, so I had a bias against cats. The women I was dating at the time thought I needed a pet and she suggested a cat. I was skeptical about the whole thing, but a man does what he must at that age, so I got a cat. It turned out that cats are just like dogs, in that they are what you make of them. Me and the cat went on great adventures together.

At the end of his time, he got sick and I did the back and forth with the vet as you do with pets. It was new to me as an adult, so I got caught up in the process, thinking that there was a potentially good result. When it was time to put an end to it all, I struggled with the decision. I just couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye. Then one night the cat staggered down the hall with his old toy in his mouth. He could barely walk, but to the very end he was going to be all the cat he was ever going to be. I was quite touching.

That night, I could not help but think that maybe I just learned a great truth. That cat was just a cat, but he was never cheated. Who knows what goes on in the head of a pet, but they are here to be our pets. It is literally what they are made for and they are that fully and completely. We lose sight of that as people. Our point in life is to use all of our time completely. There are no do overs or restarts. You just have the time you have and you better use all of it being all the you possible. Life is for living. Don’t cheat yourself.

Amen. For his part, Steyn keeps it brief:

Rest in peace, TJ. I’m not sure I could have got through the crappiness of last year without you.

Few words, ’nuff said.

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Wish Book!

Ahh, the good ol’ days.

Credit Suisse recently predicted that by 2022, some 25 percent of U.S. shopping malls will fold. And this may underestimate the trend. Ron Friedman, a retail specialist at the advisory firm Marcus, indicates that the situation could be “more in the 30 percent range. There are a lot of malls that know they’re in big trouble.” That trouble began with the ascendance of the Internet, marking the fourth great upheaval in U.S. retail.

The first came a century and a half ago, with the emergence of the first important catalog, originated by two mail-order salesmen, Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck. In a predominantly rural America, visiting a major city required extensive planning and expenditure. Sears Roebuck & Co. eliminated the need for trips to the dry-goods and hardware store—to almost any store, in fact, except the grocery. Citizens in farming towns leafed through the company’s two-inch-thick publication—often referred to as a “Wish Book.” They daydreamed about items that they couldn’t afford and clothing models whom they would never meet. Then they selected the items that they had to have, sent in their money orders, and waited for the truck to arrive. It would appear in a few weeks—warp speed in those days.

Humorist S. J. Perelman grew up on a Rhode Island chicken farm. As he examined one of his parents’ old catalogs, fantasies came to mind. “No. 24810, a model known as ‘Exposition,’ is thus described: ‘Perfectly shaped and a fine fitting corset, equal to any installed at 80 cents. Price, $0.40.’ Could any late Victorian wolf, encircling his inamorata’s hourglass waist, ever have dreamed that the treasures in his grasp were packaged in forty cents’ worth of whalebone and cambric?”

Menswear included the standard overalls and boots, and also offered items that might have attracted the YMCA, but appalled the ASPCA: “Our $23.95 Broadcloth Professional Suit. Just the suit for ministers, physicians, and professional men”; for flashier types, there was “No. 4442: Fur Overcoats. $8.90 buys a regular $15.00 Spotted Dog Overcoat. Made from carefully selected Dalmatian pelts.”

Dry goods and tools took up large portions of the catalog, but there was always room for items devoted to the reader’s physical condition. “However remote Sears Roebuck’s customers may have been from the main depot in Chicago,” Perelman notes, “their health was safeguarded by a vast array of patent medicines and proprietary articles. Twenty close-knit pages of elixirs, specifics, boluses, capsules, chemicals, tinctures, pills and granules undertook to combat practically any malaise on earth.” Typical is No. G-3059—Dr. Chaises Complexion Wafers: “Highly recommended by the celebrated Madame La Ferris of Paris and many others. They are unequalled for producing a clear complexion and a plump figure.” Should the figure get too plump, there was No. G—4200: “Obesity Powders. These powders are recommended for and are very successful in reducing the flesh of corpulent people. Follow the directions and do not look for immediate results.”

No, probably not.

I remember when I was a mere stripling making the annual after-Thanksgiving trip with my Aunt Evelyn to Sears to pick up the Christmas Wish Book. Pretty much our entire Christmas haul was gleaned from its pages; all us kids would spend countless hours on the living room floor going positively bug-eyed over the wondrous toy section at the back of the catalog. It had everything: the latest GI Joe gear, bicycles and gas-engined minibikes, walkie-talkie sets, telescopes, model airplanes and rockets, BB guns, you name it. We’d muster our finest penmanship to scribble highly organized Santa lists with page numbers and all other details, ordered from the must-have-can’t-live-without items at the top, down to the less critical stuff that you tacked onto the list with a shrug and a “hey, what can it hurt?”

Every year the Wish Book seemed to get fatter and more tantalizingly comprehensive; every year we fairly trembled with joyous anticipation through the endless days between Turkey Day and Christmas, with the Wish Book providing both focus and distraction. It truly was grand. Bitch about “commercialization” and “greed” and “crass consumer culture” if you like, but I never had so much fun in my life. Which is just one reason I find today’s news depressing:

Sears Holdings Corp., the 125-year-old retailer that became an icon for generations of American shoppers, filed for bankruptcy, saddled with billions of dollars of debt racked up as it struggled to adjust to the rapid shift toward online consumption.

The company, which employs 68,000 people, filed for Chapter 11 early Monday in White Plains, New York. Eddie Lampert, the hedge fund manager who propped up the retailer for years with lifelines and financial engineering, is stepping down immediately as chief executive officer. At the same time, Lampert’s ESL Investments Inc. is negotiating a financing deal while also discussing buying “a large portion of the company’s store base,” Sears said in a statement.

The financing would help ensure that much of Sears’ and Kmart’s stores are kept open through the crucial holiday season. Lenders and Lampert will in the meantime begin hashing out through the courts how much — if any — of the company will remain a going concern beyond that.

Of course nothing lasts forever, all good things come to an end, and the only constant is change. I like Amazon and use ’em all the time, which means I’m part of the problem, really. I get all that. It makes me sad anyway.

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Laid to rest

Steyn on McStain:

What differentiated McCain from your cookie-cutter RINO squish was the sheer brio of his viciousness. I mean that as a genuine compliment: without it, he’d have been Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe. In fact, he was pretty much reduced to that by the generally bland weekend obits: In their determination to show respect to a war hero who’d battled cruel illness, they generally dropped all mention of the stuff that made him fun and human. On air he bantered with a showbiz professionalism: When he and I appeared together on “The Dennis Miller Show”, he said he had a real respect for me because that ridiculous accent was a lot harder to keep up for three hours than you’d think. Off-air it was more cutting, snide, vindictive, and extraordinarily petty. As I wrote during the 2000 campaign:

It turns out that, in an ideologically-riven Congress, John McCain is a truly bipartisan figure: both sides loathe him. There’s a persistent rumour that the only reason his fellow Republican senator, Utah’s Orrin Hatch, decided to get into the race for president last summer is that he can’t stand McCain. Senator McCain concedes that he called another Republican, Iowa’s Charles Grassley, a ‘f**kin’ jerk’, but says that he and Chuck are now ‘friends’ (‘friends’ in the context of the US Senate means they have the warm, close, personal relationship of, say, Suha Arafat and the Israeli government). When he was a humble Congressman, the Atlantic Monthly reported McCain’s altercation in the aisle of the House with Democrat Marty Russo: ‘Seven-letter profanities escalated to 12- letter ones and then to pushes and shoves.’ It takes a while to decipher this code but, reconstructing the incident, ‘seven-letter’ is a reference to ‘a**hole’ and ’12-letter’ to ‘motherf**ker’. One mayor back in his home state says that he’s not happy with the idea of McCain having his finger on the nuclear button.

So on Sunday the senator released 1,500 pages of medical records proving conclusively that he is not clinically insane – though for my own part I’d like to see what’s in the handful of pages that were held back ‘for personal reasons’. But, for the moment, we must accept the word of his doctors that John McCain is not, to use the medical term, stark staring nuts.

Nonetheless, in private many senators agree with that Arizona mayor… So, throughout New Hampshire, at one campaign stop after another, someone stands up and asks about the rumours that he’s explosive and out of control. ‘Boy,’ says McCain with mock solemnity, ‘that really makes me mad.’ The crowd laughs. ‘I was just exploding about that earlier this morning.’ More laughs. ‘Look, my friends, I get angry sometimes. I get angry when I see Congress wasting billions on weapons systems even the Pentagon doesn’t want. I get angry when I see 12,000 of our brave fighting men and women living on food stamps. I get angry when I see the lobbyists and special interests in Washington corrupting our democracy. I get angry when I see gross injustices perpetrated…. ‘ Etc.

Actually, there’s no evidence that John McCain has ever got angry over any ‘gross injustice’ or matter of public policy. Every incident recounted by Senate colleagues revolves around some piffling perceived slight; mention weapons systems and McCain is perfectly calm, but use the last piece of Senate toilet paper and he calls you a motherf**ker.

The real John McCain was far more interesting than the vapid obituarists would have.

To repeat: McCain was the pluperfect example of absolutely everything wrong with our government and the people in charge of it—the living, breathing representation of the wrong turn we’ve taken, where it’s left us, and how extremely arduous a journey it will be getting back, assuming we ever do. We’re well rid of him.

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RIP, ‘Retha

Another great one gone, after a long, tough illness. I sometimes use a quote for these death notices—”May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest,” from Hamlet, if I remember right. But it’s most especially poignant in this case, because now that she’s joined the choir, Aretha Franklin will surely be handling all the lead lines from here on out.

Kinda spooky that the King of Rock and Roll and the Queen of Soul died on the same day, ain’t it?

Everybody knows “Respect,” of course, but this here is one of my own personal faves. The original version is great too, but this one is just so danged much fun. Note ye well, too, that this vid also features Matt “Guitar” Murphy, another legend we lost not long ago.




Rest ye well, Miz Franklin, and may God eternally bless you.

Update! Damned good obit from Kass:

The death of Aretha Franklin should remind us that great singers are more than just the soundtrack of our lives.

They lived their own lives, sang their own songs, but the thing is, it is through our own lives that we remember them, marking passages: The feel of the city on a hot night in August, that beautiful brown-eyed Sicilian girl in your car on the first date, smiling at you, the windows down, Aretha belting out “Chain of Fools.”

“I sing to the realists,” Franklin once said, “people who accept it like it is.”

And so, to be real about her passing, we know that recordings will save her voice for us. We can always find her when we need her. She’s just a click away.

But now that she’s quiet and gone, and the news is full of memories and the tributes flow and her greatest hits are playing, something happens. At least it happened to me, and if you loved her voice, maybe it happened to you.

Like a pin withdrawn from a wheel. It rolls and spins away.

A man I know who has made a success in the ruthless business of American popular music once told me that there are many great voices, but far fewer great writers.

“There are a million girls with great pipes,” he said. “But there aren’t a million songwriters who can write the music that you’ll always remember.”

Maybe so, but I think Aretha Franklin’s voice transcended all that. Hers was America’s voice, so fine, so strong, so female, a natural woman.

Amen to every word of it. Even wearing what my grandma called “house shoes” and a tatty old sweater—as in the vid above—she was nothing but pure class, and as fine as they come in every way that matters.

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The Gunny is gone

Probably the most well-known, revered, and yes, beloved USMC Gunnery Sergeant in history.

R. Lee Ermey, a former Marine Corps drill instructor known to millions of moviegoers as the sadistic Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” died Sunday morning, according to his longtime manager. He was 74.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Bill Rogin said Ermey had died due to complications from pneumonia.

A Kansas native, Ermey enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1961 at age 17. He served for 11 years, including 14 months in Vietnam, before he was discharged in 1972. He served as a technical adviser in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War epic, “Apocalypse Now,” in which he also had a small role as a helicopter pilot.

But Ermey didn’t get his big break until eight years later, in Kubrick’s own take on Vietnam. He was originally supposed to be a technical adviser, but Kubrick offered him the role of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman after seeing a demo tape of Ermey railing at extras while tennis balls flew at him.

Kubrick told Rolling Stone that 50 percent of Ermey’s dialogue in the film was his own.

“In the course of hiring the marine recruits, we interviewed hundreds of guys. We lined them all up and did an improvisation of the first meeting with the drill instructor. They didn’t know what he was going to say, and we could see how they reacted. Lee came up with, I don’t know, 150 pages of insults,” Kubrick said.

An outspoken conservative, Ermey spoke to Fox News in 2016 about being “blackballed” from Hollywood over his political views.

“I’ve had a very fruitful career. I’ve done over 70 feature films,” he said. “I’ve done over 200 episodes of [Outdoor Channel series ‘GunnyTime’]… and then [Hollywood] found out that I’m a conservative.”

Actually, he corrected, “I’m an Independent, but I said something bad about the president. I had something unsavory to say about the president’s administration, and even though I did vote for him the first time around, I was blackballed.”

Ermey, who was an NRA board member, said at the time that his association with the organization and his disapproval of President Obama cost him acting jobs.

“Do you realize I have not done a movie in five to six years? Why? Because I was totally blackballed by the…liberals in Hollywood,” he alleged. “They can destroy you. They’re hateful people [who] don’t just not like you, they want to take away your livelihood…that’s why I live up in the desert on a dirt road…I don’t have to put up with their crap.”

Yeah, well, that’s a large and entirely honorable club you’re in there, Sergeant. It’s a lead-pipe cinch that your legacy will outlive and outshine theirs by oh, say, a millenia or so. At least.

Unforgettable as his Full Metal Jacket turn surely was, this all-too-brief classic is one of my very favorite Ermey appearances:




Give ’em hell, Gunny.

If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

R Lee Ermey’s place in Heaven’s honor guard is assured. Stand at ease, Marine; rest, even, and smoke ’em if you got ’em. Nobody would dare say a word to you if you did.

Update! Details from Aesop:

Ermey was the living embodiment of every drill instructor actual Marines had, and probably the only one every never-Marine knew. After 11 years service in the Marine Corps, including service in Vietnam, and a stint as an actual drill instructor at MCRD San Diego (with the Thundering Third Recruit Training Battalion – Oohrah!), Ermey was medically discharged due to injuries received in the service, and was an American ex-pat living in the Philippines when he nabbed a bit part in Apocalypse Now. Then an indy movie came to town in 1977, looking for tech advisors and extras in a movie about Marines in Vietnam being shot there, with P.I. doubling very adequately for recently-fallen-to-communists Vietnam.

Barely five years out of the Marines at the time, Ermey was one of those hired as a tech advisor and extra, but the guy they’d cast as the lead drill instructor for the film was a Hispanic with an accent so heavy he was hard to understand easily, and Ermey was crushing his bit part in the gig, so he was hurriedly bumped up to leading character, and the other guy shunted aside.

Boys In Company C was the breakout role that brought Ermey from P.I. to Hollywood, and he never looked back. A small role in Purple Heartssolidified Ermey as the go-to guy when a picture needed a guy harder than woodpecker lips to bring the quintessential Marine sergeant to life on the screen.

And then Stanley Kubrick hired Ermey to be a tech advisor, but quickly re-thought his choice and he too decided to cast Ermey himself as exactly the guy he was looking for to be Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the otherwise atrocious Full Metal Jacket, and the directing maestro had the great good sense to turn Ermey loose on camera, and let him ad lib whole sections of the movie’s boot camp scenes, comprising the entire first half (the actual coherent part) of the film.

He had parts in over 60 movies and dozens of TV shows, playing everything from Dr. House’s father on that eponymous show, to the voice of the Sarge leading the Green Army men in the Toy Story flicks, and hosting Mail Call and Lock N’ Load cable TV shows as himself for History Channel. 

In between, he was a ceaseless advocate and military booster, which work induced the Commandant of the Marine Corps to authorize an official honorary promotion to Gunnery Sergeant for Ermey in 2002, the sort of the thing the Marines ordinarily simply do not do. But when you’re that exceptional, you can even get meritoriously promoted after being discharged.

If you served in the Marines, you knew a gunny like the Gunny, or had one for your D.I., and because of his work in entertainment, he will live long after the last Marine he ever served with passes on to Fiddler’s Green.

And as he would have told anyone, the Corps did pretty good by him, turning a juvenile delinquent into a leader of men, and finally a cultural icon for the ages.

Forty years lived in a life formed from the mold of eleven years’ active service proves the literal truth of the phrase, 
Once A Marine, Always A Marine.

True, dat. I never was in the military myself; I let my dad talk me out of going into the Navy at nineteen, a road not taken that I think back on and wonder about from time to time still. But I have enough family and close friends who were in to be able to easily recognize a former Marine whenever I see one. For whatever reason, the Corps imbues almost all of its young recruits with a steel that time never seems able to melt or weaken, no matter how long (or briefly) they may wind up serving.

I won’t offer the words “Semper Fi” in tribute to Ermey; I ain’t qualified, no matter good my intentions might be. But I hereby doff my cap just the same, in respect to Ermey and to every Marine.

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All apologies

Sorry for abandoning my post here all this week, folks, but it’s been a busy one for me—tragically, including the death of the only son of one of my closest lifelong friends in a horrible car accident. Funeral is tomorrow, and it just ain’t the sort of thing anybody looks forward to. Max was a good and decent kid; he’d been through some of the usual teenage travails—as well as some that were maybe NOT quite so usual—but he had finally gotten himself back on the right track again, and was doing well over the last several months. My friend and his wife are devastated, as one would expect; having dealt myself with the sudden untimely death of someone I loved more than the world, I can say with some authority that this isn’t the kind of thing anybody ever really gets over. It’s completely heartbreaking, is what it is.

Fare thee well, Max. You’ll be mourned and missed by all who knew you. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Onwards.

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