Books postsSaturday January 13, 2018
Wolff on Spencer on Trump
I read this today and it seems appropriate considering Trump's recent “shithole” and “bring more Norweigans” comments the other day. The speaker is alt-right founder Richard Spencer, talking to the press during the 2017 CPAC Conference, as recounted in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff.
“Trump has said things that conservatives never would have thought.... His criticism of the Iraq War, bashing the Bush family, I couldn't believe he did that ... but he did.... Fuck them ... if at the end of the day an Anglo Wasp family produces Jeb and W then clearly that's a clear sign of denegation.... And now they marry Mexicans ... Jeb's wife ... he married his housekeeper or something.
”In Trump's 2011 CPAC address he specifically calls for a relaxation of immigration restrictions for Europeans ... that we should re-create an America that was far more stable and more beautiful.... No other conservative politician would say those things ... but on the other hand pretty much everyone thought it ... so it's powerful to say it....
"We are the Trump vanguard. The left will say Trump is a nationalist and an implicit or quasi-racialist. Conservatives, because they are just so douchey, say Oh, no, of course not, he's a constitutionalist, or whatever. We on the alt-right will say, He is a nationalist and he is a racialist. His movement is a white movement.
On the other side of things, Ivanka apparently feels like her father just wants to be loved. I think both are true. He wants to be loved, and he's racist, and, worse than being racist, he uses racism as a means to power. He appeals to the worst devils in our nature. But he's appealing to fewer and fewer people every day.
I'm halfway through the book and we just got to early March 2017. I get the feeling there's a sequel.
Who's 'Full-Fledged Nuts,' According to White House Staffer? In This Example, Not Him
“[Robert Mercer's] political beliefs, to the extent they could be discerned, were generally Bush-like, and his political discussions, to the extent that you could get him to be responsive, were about issues involving ground game and data gathering. It was Rebekah Mercer—who had bonded with [Steve] Bannon, and whose politics were grim, unyielding, and doctrinaire—who defined the family. 'She's nuts ... nuts ... full-fledged ... like whoa, ideologically there is no conversation with her,' said one senior Trump White House staffer.”
-- Michael Wolff, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” Much, much more to come.
Send Trump to Miss Gates' Class
“Very good, Jean Louise, very good,” Miss Gates smiled. In front of DEMOCRACY, she printed WE ARE A. “Now class, say it all together, 'We are a democracy.' ” We said it. Then Miss Gates said, “That's the difference between America and Germany. We are a democracy and Germany is a dictatorship. Dictator-ship,” she said. “Over here we don't believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced. Pre-ju-dice,” she enunciated carefully.
-- from “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee, pg. 282
Whose Emerald City is it Anyway?
Here's my odd coincidence of the week.
Two books I'm reading get into (just as asides, really) what inspired L. Frank Baum to create the Emerald City in his “Wizard of Oz” series at the end of the 19th century.
First, from “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History,” by Kurt Andersen:
L. Frank Baum was living [in Chicago] at the same time [as architect Frank Lloyd Wright] when he wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the world's fair's White City clearly inspired his Emerald City.
Yes, that's the White City of Erik Larson's “The Devil in the White City.” Andersen's book is about how American fantasy has seeped into and upended (and fucked up) much of our American reality throughout much of our history—but particularly since the 1960s. It's totally in my wheelhouse.
Then yesterday, feeling the need for a little baseball during lunchtime reading, I began Rich Cohen's memoir/history, “The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse.” Early on, amid discussions of how their team nickname went from the presitigious “White Stockings” to the deragatory/Irish “Spuds” to the close-enough/headline-friendly “Cubs,” Cohen writes this about their home ballpark in the days before Wrigley Field:
For two generations, Chicago baseball meant the West Side Grounds. It's where thousands of fans learned that it's thrilling to win but clarifying to lose. It's where Ring Lardner became a sports reporter. It's where Albert Spalding tolled a gong when he wanted his manager to change pitchers. It might even have been a model for the most fantastic landscape of all, Emerald City, capital of Oz. In the late 1800s, L. Frank Baum, author of the Oz novels, was living in Humboldt Park, a few blocks from the West Side Grounds. He could see the pennants above the rooftops, hear the cheers when something went right. Now and then, he bought a ticket. The trip from dreary Polk Street through the tunnel into the great green light-filled bowl, where men in uniforms chased each other around the bases trying to get home, is the trip from Kansas to Oz told another way.
Of course, Cohen qualifies his statment (“might have”), Andersen doesn't (“clearly”), and Wikipedia backs up Andersen, where West Side Park isn't even mentioned as a possible inspiration for Oz. But I like Cohen's spin. Hope that's not too much fantasyland.
West Side Park during the 1906 World Series. Green glasses sold separately.
If He Catches You You're Through
Patricia had bought and liked the Norweigian serial-killer thriller “The Snowman: A Harry Hole Novel”—which has been made into a movie directed by Tomas Alfredson (“Let the Right One In,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) and sadly getting horrific reviews—and, a bit tired of all of my non-fiction, I began it last night.
It's good. It's not literature. It's a thriller, a page-turner, and creepy, and I'm enjoying it. I like how, set in Norway, so much is still set against U.S. presidential elections: Reagan in '80, Clinton in '92, W. in '04. I like how author Jo Nesbo holds back and holds back. He suggests the horror. At the stage I'm at, he's not showing us the shark, we're just getting the du dun ... du dun... I also like how easily he turns a figure of childhood fun, the snowman, into a source of terror.
And I like this bit that I read this morning. Our hero is investigating the disappearance of a mother, and talks with her 10-year old son who had been watching a “Road Runner” cartoon until his stern father returned:
Harry crouched down beside Jonas, who was still staring at the black TV screen.
“So you like roadrunners, do you?” Harry asked.
The boy shook his head mutely.“Why not?”
Jonas's whisper was barely audible: “I feel sorry for Wile E. Coyote.”
That was me as a kid. I'd forgotten I'd ever felt that way.