Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
April 17, 2011 - April 10, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eloise in Italy

COMMENTERS RULE. So Apoth intervened with something worthwhile, which every commenter is entitled to do:

Completely off topic:

European design is an exercise in perfection and precision. American design is an exercise in imagination and bringing dreams to life.

From Eloise's comments. I'm sure there's a pithy IP observation or three to be made on this.

The reference, of course, is to Rachel Lucas, fondly dubbed Eloise here at InstaPunk. It turns out she saw a Camaro in Turin:

So on Saturday afternoon we were walking around Torino and we came around a corner and all we could see was the hindmost 6 inches of something yellow, and suddenly Rupert half-grunted/half-whispered in awe, ďHa! No way. Is thatÖ? Holy shit, it is.Ē We fully rounded the corner and before us was something so shocking and so out of place that we actually stood there and gawked, along with half a dozen other people. Iím not kidding. This was parked on a street in Torino: [see photo above]...

I donít know how to express in words the degree to which that car stands out in Torino, or in Europe in general. Itís a í68 or í69 Camaro (Rupert told me but I canít remember exactly), and some of the front end is modified, something about how the whole hood comes off rather than just lifting up, sorry but I space out a little when he gets into car detailsÖall I know is that in the couple of minutes we stood there gaping at it, several Italians stopped in their tracks while walking or biking past, to gape at it too. A group of Italian men stopped, put their hands on their hips and grinned while peering in the windows. Even a woman on a bike did a double-take. It was like a spaceship had landed.

Weíre mostly dying to know how the person who owns that car affords it. Iím not joking, gas is around 8 dollars a gallon in Torino right now. I asked Rupert if maybe the owner put a more efficient engine in it, and Rupert said no one who would do that deserved to own it. Actually when he said that, he used different words, but I canít put those words on my blog because my Mom reads this and I promised. Letís just say Rupert vigorously questioned the manhood of someone who would emasculate a muscle car in the way I had suggested.

Apotheosis is right that the most interesting part of the piece is the comments, including the assessment of European design and a subplot involving Mopar, 440s and six-packs that warms this old heart.

I'm staring at the picture, reading Apoth's invitation to say something juicy, and I'm drawing a blank. Which is maybe the point. To me Europe is so completely over and done with it's kind of a wrench even to try thinking about it.

Long ago, Europe came to be synonymous in my head with, well, death. Mind you, I like Italians more than any other of those sad bastards, but I would never return to that blighted continent. Inside of one week, there's no place over there that doesn't make me feel claustrophobic and desperate to come home. There is no vitality. There is no air to breathe. It's all just a fossile of what used to be civilization.

Design? Yeah, I guess, precision and pefection are applicable words. Not ones I'd pick, though. Boring, dreary, stale, and drab, and occasionally, accidentally, beautiful. In an inhuman sort of way. No sex. I see them all as eunuchs.

Design, real design, is about breathing, life, erotic fancy. No wonder a Camaro stops traffic.

I think Eloise needs to come home. It's been a long while since I read a post of hers. She's becoming mannered, even arid. Europe. The most important thing about that place is to know when to leave it. Which is, always, immediately.

Sorry, Apoth. Best I could do.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Helk's Hammer!
OUR YOUNG FRIEND. I don't hate pit bulls. I hate most of the people who own pit bulls. Our friend Peter had one. Turned me 180 degrees around on the subject. Sweet sweet dog. When you see stories like this, what you're seeing are evil owners, not evil dogs. Notice how surprised they always act when somehing bad happens? That's the 'ordinary' pose that lets serial killers slide by police interrogations during extended manhunts.

Dogs are on our mind today anyhow. Our omega sighthound Andrew, bless his handsome heart, is getting a bunch of rotten greyhound teeth pulled today. He's nine years old, ancient for his breed. His reward? Oral surgery this morning. And Raebert is starting Round 2 of his obedience training tonight. Won't do any good. of course. He's already very obedient. Except when he wants to do what he wants to do. Is anyone anywhere ever going to do something about the Scots? No. I thought not.

Oh well. We try. I'm thinking Helk needs a rescue, uh, Doberman. Another extremely sweet breed whose image has been destroyed by rotten owners. But he wouldn't need his hammer anymore.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

They wouldn't dare.
Or would they?

Thank you, O Comcast. For the friendly warning.
Suddenly, the whole MSM is working for the IRS.
Same every year. Every frickin' year. Scare'em.

BUDGET BRILLIANCE. I don't seem to be sleeping tonight, because I'm throbbing with resentment about the land of†my birth.

Here's the deal. The United States Congress didn't actually propose a budget for the year 2011. But according to the president's spokesman, David Plouffe (pronounced phlack), the president's failure to suggest any budget cuts was a "clear" signal that he 'clearly' wants to reduce the deficit. Which he's going to talk about on Wednesday. (Phlack used the words 'clear' or 'clearly' no less than fifty times during his ten-minute interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. We take that to mean that the administration has no clear idea what to do.)

Except that we're expected to file our tax returns.

Back to that in a minute. The Democratic strategists and even some of the "rightwing" hosts at Fox News are scared to death. Especially the ones who think they're independently brilliant but aren't, like Allyson "I Can't Proofread the F&F trailers, but I Love Obama" Camerota. Word is, some of those evil Tea Party types in congress are claiming they'll vote against raising the debt limit a month from now. Which would end the world as we know it. Just ask Shepard "Fuck Hannity" Smith. The lame Republicans who are asked to respond to these hysterical fears refuse to use the word "Chicken" and they also apparently have no sense of the context that makes an atrocity of taking a stand right here and now.

But we're expected to file our tax returns on April 15.

Everybody's talking about credit cards. Not a good sign. The Republicans are talking about a kind of national credit card, which is actually a pretty accurate way of describing the debt limit. Their point is, we just got a notification that our credit limit is frozen at about umpteen trillion dollars, and since most of us make about 40 thousand bucks a year, we should maybe cool it with future trips to the mall. So maybe the thing to do is not raise the credit limit but stop spending so goddam much money every month.

But the Democrats are on our side. The way they always are. Their point is that if we don't raise the credit limit, everything will suddenly get a lot more expensive for those of us who aren't really paying the bills anyways. And that would be bad, bad, bad. Our little credit cards would implode.† Because even the rich people who are paying the biggest part of our minimum balance -- say, forty percent -- aren't paying enough. We keep buying sweaters and jumper cables, and the Republicans are saying we should pay for our own sweaters and jumper cables. How unfair is that?

Not only that. The Republicans are saying they're willing to cut off our credit cards at a national level. No more sweaters and jumper cables at all unless we pay cash on the barrelhead. Jesus.

And the interest rates, and the minimum payments, and ALL that, will suddenly rise and get totally out of control, and what the fuck is wrong with Republicans anyway?

You could watch Meet the Press and Face the Nation and so on till you're blue in the face, but you wouldn't understand from those shows what I'm about to tell you.

The spending has to stop. If you don't have the money for sweaters and jumper cables, don't buy sweaters and jumper cables. With me so far? The Democrats are saying we can bump up the credit limit and get around to stopping you from buying sweaters and jumper cables later. In next year's budget. Which will be very VERY harsh about sweaters and jumper cables.

Hey. Responsibility with compassion. Cool. Gotta love those Democrats. No need whatever to make a big stink about cutting off the credit card when it's entirely likely that you might need a sweater or a jumper cable in the next few months. Right?

But there is a problem.


Remember the big budget fight we just had? Ugly, nasty, etc. Thing is, that whole fight was about the budget that was supposed to be passed last year and wasn't.

What no one is talking about. If there's no fight about the debt limit (the credit card limit), there won't be any real budget passed for 2012 either.† The Obama administration hasn't actually passed any budget since it took office. Why the Republicans are acting like they'd bring down the whole country to save a few trillion bucks.

The truth. There is no more credit to finance your sweaters and jumper cables. The Republicans are willing to tell you that. The Democrats aren't. They're perfectly willing to let your kids and grandkids pay for your sweaters and jumper cables.

Who's really on your side?

I know. The Democrats. Fuck the kids and grandkids. You never told them life was a bowl of cherries, did you?

Of course not.

So file your taxes. By April 15. RUN, RUN, RUN to your regional IRS office. And you can pretend, like everyone else, that all the crap talk between now and April 15 about post offices staying open till midnight and so forth actually means something. Even though it doesn't. (It just doesn't. Don't know how to convey my utter fatigue and certainty about this. Be a day late. A week late. Nothing will happen.) More importantly, nothing will matter ever again if you can't pay for your own damn sweaters and jumper cables. Think about it. Why should anyone else pay your tab?

Oh. Sorry. I forgot. This is America. Where everybody else owes me sweaters and jumper cables. Obviously what Hamilton, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Madison, and Adams had in mind all along. A free ride for you and me. (That even sounds like a folk song. Cool.)

btw, if I didn't explain this 'clearly' enough for you, I'm sure the president's campaign manager, David Pouffe (whatever) can make it 'clear' why the most American thing possible is that you shouldn't have to pay your own bills. God bless. Or something like that.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Budget Cut Battle:

Small Change Got Rained On...

"And the newsboy's a lunatic with stains on his pants, 'cause
'Small Change just got rained on with his own thirty-eight"

COMMENTERS INTERPOLATE... Not really a political post. Just a nod to urthshu's link to the melancholy of Obama:

The president said he loves his life in the White House but doesn't enjoy some of the ways of Washington, such as the "kabuki dance" among political partisans before serious policy discussions begin. He also regrets his loss of personal privacy.

"I just miss - I miss being anonymous," he said at the meeting in the White House. "I miss Saturday morning, rolling out of bed, not shaving, getting into my car with my girls, driving to the supermarket, squeezing the fruit, getting my car washed, taking walks. I can't take a walk."

He says he enjoys golf but is not the fanatic that some have portrayed.

"It's the only excuse I have to get outside for four hours at a stretch," he said.

His impossible dream: "I just want to go through Central Park (in New York) and watch folks passing by ... spend the day watching people. I miss that."

I'm touched, really, The foremost egotist on the planet, who thinks his speeches can turn back global warming and quell the divisions among civilizations which have contended for millenia, the man who believes democracy can only be realized by creating a mighty government infrastructure of regulations and levelng laws that make the weakest equal to the strongest, as long as he is the first among equals and his singular vision rules everyone, now pines for ordinary life.

Humility is its own reward justification rationalization camouflage refutation of hubris.

It's a point well taken. Few people know that similar statements have been recorded by most of the world's great leaders. A representative sample.

Alexander the Great said:

"I really wish I'd never pushed my tutor into the pit. The whole 'no more worlds to conquer' thing is ultimately confining. I'm not complaining, mind you, but when I'm not putting other worlds to the sword, I can't help thinking I'd be happier just riding my horse and watching the behinds of other people's soldiers."

Julius Caesar said:

"You know, it's okay being dictator for life, but I have to tell you, I really missed an opportunity in Gaul. Here was a people that shared my love of good wine and clever sauces, and in retrospect I could have been really happy there without killing half of them. If I'd had the patience, I'd have sat on a green sward and waited for them to dream up the Bois de Boulogne."

Napoleon Bonaparte said:

"Ordinary people think how great it would be to be crowned emperor by the pope and all. Little do they know. All that imperial gear is hot, uncomfortable and, frankly boring. If Josephine had let me -- which she wouldn't and I'm not saying she's not right because I'm so talented at it -- I'd have just restored the Republic, retired to a nice villa, and raised vegetables and maybe goats."

Stalin said:

"Do you know what it's like to be named after a metal alloy? When your whole soul really consists of butterflies, hummingbirds, and daisies? No one knows the agonies of loneliness I've had to delegate to my slaves. Of course, without me they'd be lost, so duty calls, but, hell, I'd give (almost) anything to watch the whole unfolding of a chrysalis"

Mao said:

"All I really wanted was to be the baker in the back of the shop who prints up the fortune cookie messages and eats a little pressed duck during my breaks. Instead, they forced me to make fortune cookies into Five-Year Plans and kill everyone who didn't obey. Power isn't fun. All it means is that your thousands of concubines say they love you without you ever being sure they're not just trying to keep from being taken out and shot. That's a real bummer. On the other hand, you still get to have sex with them and kill them when they look at you cross-eyed. Which is somewhat better than being a baker at the back of the shop."

Lincoln said:

"I gave up the pleasures of good and simple men so that they could continue to enjoy them. Regrets? Not really. Too much has been made of my sadness, which is not for myself. It is for the high price of decisions I have had to make which cost many good men their lives. I would give up every moment of passing pleasure to have made those decisions better, at lesser cost to those whom I swore to serve. I am not content. But it is not my contentment I am here to secure. Would I trade with any man? No. Why I would never plead for your sympathy or compare my woes to any others."

All right. None of those guys said that. I put words in their mouths. But Obama did say what he said. And what he said is even sillier than what I made up. You don't amass a billion dollars to retain the most powerful office in recorded human history if what you'd really prefer is a walk in Central Park.

That's free. Or it costs at the most small change.

If it's what he wants, I vote we let him have at it. And leave the rest of us alone.

What does it mean
†to be a Master?

He's white, no, he's black, no, he's neither, so we can trash him...

I KEEP COMING BACK... I watched the final round of the Masters Tournament yesterday. I admit I was rooting for Tiger Woods, but I wouldn't have written about it except for two additional happenstances. There was the singularly unfortunate circumstance of Rory McIlroy imploding on the second nine. Heartbreaking and ugly. There was also the all-out support of Mrs. CP for Tiger (the woman who can't root for the Eagles because of Michael Vick). She echoed his fist pumps, she hid her eyes (presciently for the most part) during his putts on the final holes, and there was no escaping the fact that she really really wanted him to win.

You know how you can simmer about things without knowing exactly why, until there's a crystallizing moment that brings the simmer to a roiling boil that overflows the pot?

Well, that's what the Masters did to me yesterday. It was like a whole bunch of lock tumblers falling into place to open a secret vault. (One of which is the preceding post btw.) I didn't even have to discuss it with Mrs. CP. I just said, "I think I need to do a Tiger post." And she said, "Of course you do."

Not serendicity this time but confluence. Where numerous tributaries feed into a strong river of insight.


1. Like everybody else I was disappointed and disgusted (though, honestly, not entirely surprised) to hear about Tiger's extra-marital escapades. But I've been simmering for a long time about his treatment at the hands of ESPN. From the first there has been an air of gloating about their coverage of his fall from grace. Yes, he fell from grace. And his golf has suffered. He hasn't won a tournament in seventeen months. Loss as guilt, punishment, and vengeance. But whose vengeance? ESPN and its anchors and expert analysts have delighted in every poor performance, every drop in the rankings (all the way, most recently, to seventh in the world!) as proof that Tiger Woods is done. (And, boy, are we at ESPN glad!) This from a network whose diverse correspondents argue at various times for the rehabilitation of Pete Rose, who bet on baseball games he was managing, A-Rod, whose bid for the Hall of Fame might be revivified by the fact that he confessed to steroid abuse in the middle rather than the end of his career, and Cam Newton, whose pay-for-play track record is supposedly outdistanced by his winning Ted Bundy smile, his Heisman, and some sort of NFL promise. Not to mention the fact that the ex-jocks who populate ESPN's analyst panels are veterans themselves of the groupies (and, yes, I've heard personal anecdotes from my own sources) who trail every successful professional athlete with promises of guilt-free, untraceable, uh, pleasure. Have any of them condemned Brett Favre in the same terms they've condemned Tiger Woods? uh, no. The story has been, in the former case, "Will sexual allegations distract superstar Brett Favre in his final bid for a Super Bowl win?" Never mind that Brett Favre is a long, long-time married man whose wife signed up to marry him before he was a mega-millionaire and automatically, absolutely alone. Lost in all their jumping on Tiger's golf grave was any recognition that his malfeasance involved no harassment of PGA employees, no cheating in the game he was actually playing, no firearms violations, no felonies, no violence, no actual corruption but adultery. Which ESPN and all the professional team sport athletes are the best possible judges of. Really? Really????

2. The Imus crew. Which isn't as potent as it is indicative. Imus's foul-mouthed producer Bernie has been featured during the past year with a Tiger impression that makes the golfer sound like a cross between Richard Pryor's standard parody of a white man and (well, to nobody but me, I guess) a more tenor version of Barack Obama. This breaks them all up. Yuck yuck yuck. What a geek. Tiger Woods as a nerdy non-athlete who somehow lucked into marrying a super-white super-model and scored a half-billion dollars with a chipmunk face and a receding hairline. (Was anybody but me concerned about this match? Really? uh, okay. Thought so.He always knew she loved him for his Stanford small talk.) Imus chimes in with gusto. The same Imus who got fired for calling black female Rutgers basketball players "nappy-headed hoes." I said, 'indicative.' Imus is who he is. A singularly vile narcissist of extremely limited intelligence and accomplished manner who has discovered that Tiger Woods is not African-American but some sort of undifferentiated Thai-ho mix and therefore an approved and juicy target for his contempt. The same Imus who despises and derogates Tiger Woods is the septuagenarian cokehead who lived for years with purchased hookers as an entitlement of his ability to be nasty to one and all on the radio. Now he's received absolution because he has prostate cancer and a gorgeous wife who uses his fortune to convince the old fool he can earn salvation by helping the disadvantaged -- while she waits, oh so submissively, for the old minion of Satan to die and turn her loose on her own new-age Satanic mission of death by mommy-nagging. Halleluiah. (Yay, the Lord will not judge all prostitutes as sinners, especially if they are good nutritionists.) Why the need to trash Tiger when Imus's own numb twilight career rests on the generosity of so many to overlook his technicolor portfolio of sins? Yet the very name 'Tiger' has become a joke on the successful show of a man who is the living, somewhat distasteful embodiment of the American tradition of "second chance."

[Excuse me. Have I made it clear how much I despise Imus? No? There is no shallower, stupider, deep-down meaner manipulator of the airwaves than this self-obsessed, self-congratulating and, thankfully self-medicating mummy of a bygone media era. He's become his own vision of hell -- Lawrence Welk with a chicken neck and a cowboy hat. Why I'm so scared of his nascent widow. What WON'T she do to get control of our taste buds and bowels? Shudder.]

3. The Young Lions of Golf. The sports press has been delighted during the seventeen months of Tiger's drought to celebrate the fearless kids who are "no longer intimidated" by the presence of Tiger Woods on a golf course. Almost all of the last ten majors have been won by "kids" (meaning, it turns out, winless pros under 30; Tiger is 33), who are immediately pronounced the future of golf. Except that one great "in the groove" performance" does not an icon make. I can't list all their names, can't remember all their names. For some reason, ESPN is rooting for Mickelson, but his lackluster performance in the Masters did not incite a "he's done" sidebar such as we've been hearing about Tiger every time he hasn't won over the past year. And what was conspicuously absent from yesterday's proceedings was all the PGA stars who never even showed up on the leader board -- you know, all of Tiger's contemporaries who are no longer "intimidated" or even , by inference, respectful of him -- Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Zach Johnson, Villegas, and on and on and on. All out of the running while Tiger contended against the kids. All these folks, kids and pros both, are great golfers. Any one of them could have beaten Nicklaus, Player, Palmer, Watson, etc, during the days when the whole damn world wasn't playing golf. At one point yesterday, Nick Faldo, the great British champion,† pointed out that the first eight names of the leader board represented every continent but Antarctica. Nicklaus never faced that. But Mickelson finishing 27th or 30th didn't inspire the creepy interview of CBS's McAtee, who had the nerve to ask Tiger, leader in the clubhouse, "Do you think you're now back in the thick of the things after, uh, everything?" Fuck you. McAtee.

4. I'm getting to the end, I promise. Rory McIlroy. He was leading by four strokes going into the final round. ESPN's most elite corps of journalists congregated Sunday morning on the show "Sports Reporters" to agree that, of course, McIlroy could win it all at age 21. About time. Tiger did, after all. Except that McIlroy couldn't. I saw an interview in which McIlroy revealed that he had watched every stroke of Tiger's domination of the 1997 Masters. It's what inspired him to become a professional golfer. (How many of that last stampede were similarly inspired? Don't ask ESPN.) At the end of the tournament, Nick Faldo was gravely converned. This is not a quote but a paraphrase but it's accurate as to content. "The Masters is being thrown into the deep end. It's cruel and brutal. You're all alone. I don't know, can't predict that he'll recover from his meltdown. I hope he does."

5. Tiger won at age 21. He didn't break. But breaking is the big question, isn't it? Tiger played for a dozen years under the most incredible pressure any athlete but maybe Muhammed Ali has experienced. He broke. Are we happy now? ESPN sure is. The most malignant enemy of true greatness is mediocrity. The ESPN take. Why Mrs. CP roots for him. She has a native sense of what it cost Tiger to be the very best in the most intense sports media environment any golfer ever faced, against the best competition. A decade and a half of the pressure that crushed McIlroy like a beer can at Augusta yesterday. Has Tiger enjoyed his wealth, power, and iconic image? Probably not. His philanderings smack of desperation. "Does anyone love me apart from the miracles I perform and the spoils it brings?" What is Mrs. CP rooting for? What is she rooting for when she hides her eyes on the verge of a putt?

By God she loves champions, the fearless ones. The ones who can get off the canvas and come back, regardless of what the small people are saying.

A diminuendo close. By and large, the Masters coverage on CBS is the best in sport. Only four minutes of commercials in each 60 minutes. But I've got a demurral for you to think on. Not about race. About accomplishment -- and, well, mastery. The Augusta Golf Club does its own commercials for the event. In one, the club president solemnly informs us of the sancitity of the green jacket awarded to the winners. "Winning the Masters makes them champions for life."

How many Masters has Tiger won? So why is he suddenly a loser? Never mind. Mere persiflage.

More importantly. The guy conveying this message to us is wearing a Masters Green Jacket. Because he's president of the club. Which, inevitably, makes one think that the only permanent champion is the Augusta Golf Club. The winners from year to year are only hired hands. Yes, we can brush Tiger away eventually. Like we do bad caddies and slovenly waiters at the 19th hole.

Probably unfair. Just an impression.


Except for this. Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer who ever lived. And he still is the greatest golfer in the whole wide world. Sorry for all of you who think different.

You can disagree, but Mrs. CP is against you. She's pretty much down on the envy and jealousy of mediocrities. Just so you know.

To be clear. Mrs. CP wouldn't forgive me for what Tiger has done. On the other hand, she didn't marry me knowing she'd get a few hundred million and change if her 'love' turned out to be, well, short-term. Something I have over Tiger. Something most of you have over Tiger.

Crumbling at Augusta may be the best thing that ever happened to Rory McIlroy. I know it doesn't seem like it now. But men who are on a mission can be the worst possible mates for women who think life is about decorating their husbands' accomplishments with the right duds and drapes. All my apologies, Michelle.

Oh. And one more thing. With Mrs. CP yelling in my ear, "GO TIGER!"

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