05 February 2020

5 February 2020


 5 February 12020 is Constitution Day in Mexico. In Burundi it is Unity Day, in Finland it is Runeberg’s Birthday, and in Pakistan Kashmir Solidarity Day. It is also Lord Haden-Guest’s birthday. Lord Haden-Guest is better known in America—and certainly to me—as Christopher Guest, the brilliant actor, director, writer and satirist responsible for such public atrocities as Flash Bazbo, Space Explorer; Ron Fields, promoter extraordinaire; Nigel Tufnel, Spinal Tap guitarist; Bob Dylan and James Taylor in Lemmings. I first became aware of Christopher Guest when I listened to a friend’s copy of the Lemmings soundtrack album not long after it came out, and I thought I recognized his voice on the National Lampoon Radio Hour in 1973 and 1974. He was the stand-out performer on Good-bye Pop in 1976, and just seemed to keep going and going, like a certain advertising bunny.
What with America having lost the respect of virtually everybody in the world, with its new Middle East Peace Plan derided and rejected by all the players that count (even the European Union has given it the thumbs down), with North Korea and Iran openly flaunting their nuclear programs at the expense of the United States, you might think the American President would have a hard time coming up with foreign policy bright spots for his current State of the Union speech. You would be wrong, however; the Chief Flake simply lied about the situation. Problem solved—as long as nobody expects you to come up with, you know, actual solutions.
In the meantime the opposition party—the Democrats (full disclosure: I am a registered Republican) have got off to an appallingly atrocious start with the debacle of the Iowa caucuses. What with delayed results, low turnout, the anointed successor to the Great Obama dropping into the toilet, bigots who voted for Mayor Pete demanding their ballots returned to them on discovering that he was gay (how in hell could anyone have overlooked it?), and skewed delegate counts, the opening seems more like a farce than a serious campaign. So now we’ve got a Jew, a gay guy, a woman, and as Archie Bunker would put it, a reglar American in competition for the presidential sweepstakes. It sounds more like the potential cast for a remake of Gilligan’s Island. Which of them will survive?
On this day in history in 1974 a handful of political misfits calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped a granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst in an attempt (spectacularly unsuccessful) to free some of their members who were in prison for a political murder or something equally inane. I personally heard the news on the radio while writing a sequence in a satirical novel in which William Randolph Hearst ordered the kidnapping of one of my main characters to force him to join a revolutionary group working for the overthrow of President William Jennings Bryan, so the event kind of resonated with me in an odd manner. Hearst’s granddaughter had a bad time of it, was forced to take part in the group’s activities, and ended up going to prison, but at least she survived.
On the personal front, that hideous cough is back, at least as bad as before, so I’m becoming pessimistic about the possibilities of ever getting over it. I still have hopes, but they’re getting fainter. We’ll just have to see, I guess.

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