I saw a jet trail in the sky this morning and wondered why there aren’t so many of them any more. And instantly started grinding through the useless, absorbing little inquisitions that keep the mind from wasting its time on lesser matters like making a living. I’ve learned to be wary of the first, natural hypothesis of any 53-year old mammal’s brain, which is simply that the world is going to Hell, damn it. I’ve learned to squint around that little mental cataract and formulate slightly more rigorous options, little lists of possible responses like the heads-up display that leads the Terminator to choose “Fuck you, asshole.” Standing at the top of the alley, the dog sniffing the weeds beside me, I came up with three quick possibilities for the scarcity of jet trails:
1. Jet trails must be some sort of condensation of hot exhaust in cold air; so, because of global warming, the outer air isn’t as cold so condensation doesn’t form.
2. Better engines and jet fuel mixes mean less exhaust; hence, fewer jet trails.
3. There are as many jet trails as ever, idiot. You’re just getting old and whiney: “When I was a boy, there were jet trails so thick the woolly mammoths used to trip over them….” Shut up and keep walking. (more…)
Posted: September 4th, 2008
Hezbollah explains ‘Arab Spring’ to residents of West Beirut
Now that the Beijing games have wound up, we can get on to a sporting event with real significance: a Neocon Olympics to decide the most grossly wrong, stupid prediction by a Neocon pundit post-Iraq. Of course, it’s a very rich field. Being totally wrong about absolutely everything is the Neocons’ job, and they’ve been working overtime on it. Their proudest moment had to be in the lead-up to the Iraq war when Kenneth Adelman assured America that democratizing Iraq would be “a cakewalk.” Indeed, early Neocons like Adelman and Richard Perle (who predicted that Iraq would settle down “at the first whiff of gunpowder”) set the bar for disastrously wrong predictions so high that some have suggested that the trophy be retired in their honor. (more…)
Posted: August 25th, 2008
Man discovered by apes
When I think of the 1990s, it’s the Ice Man I remember. He was found in 1991, in an Austrian glacier melting from global warming. At first the authorities took him for a murder victim (it was Silence of the Lambs time). They hacked his body out of the slush with a jackhammer, eager for their CSI moment, then started to realize he didn’t fit the profile of a Hannibal Lecter scorecard. His shoes were made of bearskin and deerskin and stuffed with dry grass; his cloak was woven of grass; he carried a flint knife that looks like a folded, dented can lid tied to a stick with twine. It began to dawn on the investigators that this guy was old, (more…)
Posted: August 21st, 2008
It is clear by now that Bruce Ivins did indeed send those anthrax spores. The most damning evidence, in the view of the bovine chorus, is the fact that he wrote poetry. A sample of the poetical works of the late Doctor Ivins has now made its way onto the internet. Let us consider it carefully—gloves and full NBC suit recommended but not required. (more…)
If you want to see a pure American evil puked up unrehearsed and uncensored, check out these Free Republic comments on the news that two people were killed and several more injured when a gunman started shooting in a Tennessee church. One wise Freeper says that “something tells [me]” the shooter “had a Quran in his back pocket.” Another just knows that the shooter’s identity is being protected because he’s a “minority.” The rest take the opportunity to make Unitarian jokes. (more…)
Page will be a bare naked lady in jail for sure.
There was some wonderful news last week: Steven Page, lovable lead singer of the Barenaked Ladies, was arrested for cocaine possession. If Barenaked Ladies, BNL to their fans, were a normal band, this would hardly be news at all. In fact, it might be good for ticket sales. But BNL is a Canadian band, the paid pipers of Anglo-Canada’s blandest, dullest, most aggressively mulched minds–so a simple drug bust is a disaster for them and their trusting, stupid fans.
Stop the presses! Christopher Hitchens just noticed that waterboarding is torture!
Hitchens announced the news like he’d brought it down from Mount Sinai, in a Vanity Fair article. “Believe me,” he told a waiting nation, “it’s torture.” Well, yeah. It usually is, when it happens to you. When it happens to somebody else, it’s “extreme interrogation.” (more…)
Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya
One of the great mysteries of the twentieth century was the way Britain got away with pillaging nearly every country on the planet without suffering any retribution. I’ve spent a long, bitter time brooding over this experimental proof that there’s no such thing as karma. Among the reasons I’ve found for this failure to prosecute are the reluctance of the raped to report their sufferings, the stupidity and credulity of American scholars vis-a-vis their Oxbridge colleagues, and the charmed life that seems to reward those individuals and nations lucky enough to lack any vestige of conscience. (more…)
Posted: September 8th, 2006
First, a public confession: as several readers pointed out, I made a disgraceful error in my article “Frey’s Fall” (eXile #230), when I mis-identified Ralph Wiggum as “Ralph Wiggins.” There is, of course, no “Wiggins” in the Simpsons. There can be no excuse for this sort of failure. The only question is deciding my punishment. If I were a Frey-sized target, we could ask Oprah to have me on, so she could spit in my face in front of a live audience. But as many Frey fans were at pains to remind me, I don’t deserve an honor like that, because I’ll never sell enough books to merit Oprah’s spittle. (more…)
Posted: February 10th, 2006
Christopher Hitchens is out to save America. He’s brought the cross of St. George–Orwell, that is–along on the crusade. He’s everywhere in the American media lately, lending his accent and vast self-importance to the cause of Freedom.
You might wonder why imports like Hitchens are center-stage in the U.S. these days. You’d think a country of 300 million could find somebody to make a coherent case for the war in Iraq. But you’d be wrong. Ever hear ’em try? Bush sounds like an Okie fruit picker on glue; Cheney mumbles like a hanging judge at the end of a long day; and Rove, their PR chief, won’t talk on mic because he knows he’d come across like the scoutmaster trying to explain why he had to share a tent with your son. We’re hopeless. (more…)
Posted: October 21st, 2005
This article was first published in The eXile in September 2005.
A funny thing happened while I was surfing rightwing sites like Free Republic and Little Green Footballs this week: I discovered that Mark Steyn, the world’s only warmongering Canadian journalist, has actually managed to fool the gullible readers of these blogs. And there are thousands of these right-wing blogs, all featuring grumpy-looking bald eagles, 3-d American flags and Christian dating services — into accepting him as an American patriot.
I guess I should explain first what I was doing dipping into ideological porn like FR and LGF. First of all, I like to look at these sites when things are going badly for the Right. I like to watch them writhe, and they’ve been writhing very nicely lately.
Besides, I used to be one of those people. Yep, I was an American patriot back in the 90s. That’s how I first encountered Steyn. He was the author of one of the most viciously anti-American articles ever written: an article so steeped in America-hatred that I actually got involved in a letter-writing campaign against Steyn almost a decade ago. His article was first published in London’s Sunday Times in August 1996. The title will give you an idea of the tone of this little gem: “Welcome to the United States of Losers and Bozos.”
Mark Steyn: neo-con Hobbit
The article started by mocking the US authorities’ bumbling response to the bombing in Atlanta: “Federal agents are not discreet. They run around in fancy combat gear, they yell ‘Go, go, go, go, go,’ and they attract a lot of attention…The evidence suggests they have more than enough [power and money], but that they don’t know how to use them.”
Could this possibly be the same Mark Steyn who joined the big homoerotic swoon for men in uniform after 9/11? Just listen to the new Steyn going all gooey about America the Beautiful in the column “Primal,” published right after September 22, 2001:
“If you want a word for the mood of this immediate aftermath, try ‘primal’. In a feminized culture, guys were back — big burly firemen evoking Iwo Jima and raising the flag atop the ruins of the World Trade Center. Watching tanks rumble down the street, Manhattanites were amazed to discover that the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue really is an armoury, and not just, as it is to most New Yorkers these days, a heritage site you can rent for art and antique shows. On the steps of the Capitol, members of Congress broke into a spontaneous performance of ‘God Bless America’. ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is about an historic event, ‘America The Beautiful’ is about the topography, but, when it comes to the nation, Irving Berlin said it simplest and said it best: ‘God Bless America, Land that I love.'”
Sorry, Steyn, but uh…could you stop lying? You don’t love America. You hate America as only an Anglophile Canadian Tory can. And as Steyn’s 1996 Atlanta article revealed, his hate isn’t restricted to a few scapegoats; he hates ordinary Americans with a special rancor:
“[In] Atlanta…Incredibly fit people on steroids were cheered by incredibly fat people on cheeseburgers, and delighted by this arrangement, the Games’ sponsors — the purveyors of Coke and Big Macs and other performance de-enhancing products — maintain an iron grip.”
What’s this? Not only does Steyn use the “fat stupid American” cliche favored by Old Europe social-democrats, but he denounces corporate sponsorship like a Belgian Maoist.
Worse yet, he actually equates American enterprise with terrorism: “The ads for Nike and other products offer obnoxious, aggressive sportsmen opining, for example, that there’s no such thing as ‘winning silver’…In their advocacy of total war, winning at any price, the end justifying the means, the philosophy of the commercials is virtually indistinguishable from your average terrorist group’s credo.”
Whoa, Markie! Did you actually SAY that? My, my, what will your fans at Free Republic and Little Green Footballs say when they find out you actually equated America’s drive to be Number One in sports with Al Qaeda?
Steyn is so consumed with hate that he even makes fun of the name of the woman killed in the Atlanta Olympic bombing: “It’s as if the unfolding events in Georgia were no different from the networks’ moronic daytime soap operas…Alice Hawthorne, whose death in Atlanta provided such an exciting plot twist to CBS, named both her younger daughter, Fallon, and her thriving business, Fallon’s Ice Cream and Hot Dog Stand, after a character in Dynasty.”
Ha ha, those black people have such funny names, huh?
So much for compassion for the victims of terrorism, one of the major planks of Steyn’s post 9/ll reinvention of himself as American patriot.
Steyn’s rant ends with one of the nastiest displays of sheer joy at America’s humiliation you’ll ever find. Not content to gloat over the Atlanta bombing, he drags in Oklahoma City and even the JFK assassination as proof of America’s stupidity:
“Forget the militia, the ayatollahs, Colonel Gaddafi, the only conspiracy that fits is a conspiracy of dunces, of boners and losers and no-hopers. At Atlanta, Oklahoma City, all the way back to that prototype bozo in the Dallas Book Depository three decades ago…That’s the humiliation of Atlanta: in front of the Russians and Chinese, the Cubans and Bosnians, they blew it, and they blew it not to professionals, but to some two-bit punk with a homemade pipe bomb.”
Whoo! It’s not every day you find hatred that vicious. Even America’s worst enemies didn’t gloat outright over the killing of JFK and the slaughter of day-care kids in Oklahoma City. But there’s Steyn not only celebrating America’s worst hours but rubbing it in by reminding us that it happened in front of all our avowed enemies: the Russians, Cubans and Chinese.
Steyn’s Atlanta rant was written for a British audience and first appeared in the Telegraph, favorite reading of bitter old Tories. It was reprinted in a New Zealand newspaper, the Sunday Star-Times, where I read it on August 11, 1996. Though I can’t claim to be a noisy American patriot like you Steyn fans, I was angry enough to write a letter to the Telegraph. I took some time composing it; it was designed to inculcate a healthy humility in any British readers tempted to join in Steyn’s protracted gloat. I remember my letter pretty much word-for-word:
“I was surprised to find Mark Steyn’s crowing over the Atlanta bomb in a British newspaper, given the way IRA bombers have been able to attack British cities with utter impunity. As clumsy as the Americans may have been at Atlanta, they have yet to see their great cities flattened by the underclass of their most benighted province. To witness a security failure on that scale, one must look to Britain. Therefore one might have expected British journalists to react to the Atlanta bombing with compassionate humility, rather than Steyn’s shrill gloating.”
That letter got quite a reaction. Every constipated retired colonel and thwarted Vicar’s sister from Dover to York took pen in hand to curse me, my country, and my nonexistent progeny. And since the only address they had for me was the NZ university where I was teaching, all that hastily-scrawled hate mail came through the department secretary.
Most of my correspondents confined their abuse to the letters, but some slipped unflattering epithets into the address on the envelope. It got so bad that the secretary started wincing when she handed me my mail. Several of the letters were suspiciously bulgy. I never opened those at all; whatever those people were sending me, I was pretty sure I didn’t want it.
And now here’s Mister Steyn, all famous and rich telling Americans how much he loves their fat, stupid asses. It’s been a very lucrative lie for him. No doubt he only reveals his true hatred for our country to a few safe friends, after a few drinks. The land that he doesn’t love has made him famous; how satisfying it must be for Steyn to reflect that, in their utterly gullible, naive acceptance of his false flattery, “the United States of Losers and Bozos” has revealed itself to be every bit as stupid as he suspected.
This article was first published in The eXile in September 2005.
Buy John Dolan’s novel “Pleasant Hell” (Capricorn Press).
Buy John Dolan’s novel “Pleasant Hell” (Capricorn Press).
Posted: September 23rd, 2005
“My Friend Leonard” James Frey
Riverhead Hardcover 2005 $24.95
James Frey is a liar. A bad one. And hugely successful.
You can discover just how bad a liar he is by reading his second novel, My Friend Leonard. And you can hear all about Frey’s latest successes on his website, which he has christened, with typical modesty, Big Jim Industries
Longtime eXile fans may remember that I wrote a less-than-flattering review of Frey’s first novel, A Million Little Pieces. Frey’s site actually includes a very funny exchange among his fans about my review. (You can find it under the heading “A Million Pieces of Shit” under “Messages.) (more…)
Posted: September 9th, 2005
“Mao: the Unknown Story” by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday
Random House 2005
When I watched the second Addams Family movie, I knew there’d be a “blockbuster biography” of Mao coming soon. The key scene comes as the Addams are trying to decide what to name their baby. Rejecting other, overexposed dictators like Stalin and Hitler, they pick “Mao.”
That was it, the writing on the sten-gazeta: time for some enterprising literary entrepreneur to grind out a big fat book showing us all what a monster the Great Helmsman really was.
Even so, it’s a shock to see how mechanically Jung Chang and her husband, Jon Halliday, have carried out their assignment — and how eagerly the reviewers have endorsed the product. Every critic from Santa Barbara to Glasgow has joined the “Down with Mao!” chant, waving this big green book in an elbow-destroying parody of the Red Guards who used to whack capitalist roaders with Mao’s little red one. (more…)
“A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey. Doubleday 2003, $22.95
This is the worst thing I’ve ever read.
A Million Little Pieces is the dregs of a degraded genre, the rehab memoir. Rehab stories provide a way for pampered trust-fund brats like Frey to claim victim status. These swine already have money, security and position and now want to corner the market in suffering and scars, the consolation prizes of the truly lost. It’s a fitting literary metonymy for the Bush era: the rich have decided to steal it all, even the tears of the losers. (more…)
Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin
By Michael McFaul, Cornell University Press, 2001
This book is a four-hundred page testimonial to the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the American Russia-watching mafia. In its pages, Michael McFaul condemns himself again and again with staggering non-sequiturs, self-serving lies, crude misrepresentations of his own past and the recent history of Russia, and repeated failures to meet even the most basic standards of academic rigor.
The failures to meet academic standards are the most glaring fault of the book. What can one say of an academic work that attempts to chart Russia’s “course to democracy” without once even attempting to define its central term, “democracy”? Was this mere incompetence? God knows there is incompetence and provincial gaucherie enough in McFaul’s work, from the Preface, in which he informs us that “In 1799, France was still deep in the throws [sic] of revolutionary turmoil…,” to his Conclusion, which ends with some of the most inadvertently comic attempts at grand chiasmus since Cicero wore out his whipping-arm on his duller pupils. (more…)
This is an eXile classic, first published in The eXile on March 6, 2002.
I‘m a harasser. Put the cuffs on me; I harassed the working class. And it wasn’t even fun. It’s not like I groped some factory girl as she leaned over a sweaty sewing machine. That would have been a harassment worth risking. All I did was post an email reply to a “Call for Papers” on the work of “Jim Daniel, Working-Class Poet.” (more…)
Made in Yugoslavia
By Vladimir Jokanovic
Translated by Zeljana Zovko and Cathy Porter
Ah, we’re already nostalgic for the little wars of the nineties, especially the colorful Balkan popups, with their quaint rituals and goofy flags. Remember those warm breezy days when the Balkans were popping with small-arms fire? Remember how avidly the lovable hairy villagers returned to their ancient customs, supressed by the commies? Remember those warmhearted village-to-village ambushes all day every day, except when the slivovitz hangovers made them sensitive to loud noises? It was a triumph of the human spirit, the way they nourished their village snobbery, kept it bubbling at throat-slitting temperature, through the dark years of Tito’s peace. (more…)
Posted: November 4th, 2001
Three men convicted of producing the class B controlled drug opium were each jailed… In each man’s case Judge McDonald took two years’ jail as the starting point for sentence.
Otago Daily Times
(April 17, 2001)
It takes radio signals more than a decade to reach this offworld colony. (Something about the speed of light.) So, having lived through the eighties at Reagan’s ground zero, I get to live through them again out here. The worst of all Reagan’s horrors, the Drug War, is just hitting its stride here, even as it’s losing steam back in Vampire Central. Back there, even bloodsucking monsters like Henry Hyde are deciding they might have been a bit excessive in mandating the death penalty for anyone caught with a quarter-gram of powder. Hyde got a cameo role in Traffic and, like any red-blooded American, changed his convictions instantly in exchange for a bit part, a moment being petted poolside by a bevy of Malibu Stacies. A repellent tableau, certainly; but if that’s all it takes, why not find a bit part for every Republican drug warrior? Have Soros fund huge fake Hollywood parties for every slavering Phalangist in DC! Rent a few blondes, a cheesy Elks Hall, deck it out with limos and fake cameras! Stage an entire fake Academy Awards ceremony at which Hyde, Jesse Helms and Ashcroft are the leading contenders for Best Actor, nominated for their role in dueling anti-DEA epics! Let them make tearful acceptance speeches that go on for hours, if only they’ll stop sending harmless nerds to a lifetime as the maytag of D Block. (more…)