Robert Caro’s two hour audiobook

Strong endorse to an audio only, 1 hour 42 minute semi-memoir by Robert Caro, boiling down the central ideas of The Power Broker and the LBJ series.  If you’ve read every single extant interview with Robert Caro, as I have, some of its repetitive but I loved it and loved listening to Caro’s weird New York accent.

 

Two details: he tells how James Rowe, an aide to FDR, told him that FDR was such a genius about politics that when he discussed it almost no one could even understand him.  But Lyndon Johnson understood everything.

James Rowe, from the LOC 

Caro tells that when LBJ ran for Congress the first time, he promised to bring electricity.  Women had to haul water from the well with a rope.  A full bucket of water was heavy.  Women would become bent, a Hill Country term for stooped over.  LBJ campaigned saying, if you vote for me, you won’t be bent.  You won’t look at forty the way your mother looked at forty.

from the Austin American Statesman collection at the LBJ Library.  The woman’s name is Mrs. Mattie Malone.  


Democracy plaything

Indeed, it has long been in the Chinese government’s interest to sow cynicism among its citizens about the mechanisms of democracy. The current Administration and its steady stream of blunders have made Beijing’s task appreciably less difficult.

From this New Yorker thing by Jiayang Fan.

Some years ago at a dinner in Shanghai a smart person gave me his a somewhat jaded take on what would happen if China got democracy.  He described how some huckster demagogue from TV would get elected and be terrible.

Peggy Noonan worth reading as usual.  She got me to subscribe to the WSJ:

Here’s an idea.

It would be good if top Hill Republicans went en masse to the president and said: “Stop it. Clean up your act. Shut your mouth. Do your job. Stop tweeting. Stop seething. Stop wasting time. You lost the thread and don’t even know what you were elected to do anymore. Get a grip. Grow up and look at the terrain, see it for what it is. We have limited time. Every day you undercut yourself, you undercut us. More important, you keep from happening the good policy things we could have done together. If you don’t grow up fast, you’ll wind up abandoned and alone. Act like a president or leave the presidency.”

As Ms. Noonan points out that’s unlikely to be effective for long but it’s something positive.


A Trip To Japan

cool

one please!

Randy Messenger endorsed ramen set.  

A horse race

Let’s go to the mall

in the temple courtyard

Tourists

With this man as your guide?  Who could fail

Yes boat.

By the harbor

Feeling homesick, visited Cape Cod

Everything’s cool

The vibe here.  

The lonely squash.

Burnt cedar fades as it ages.

This cat from a Murakami story.  

Rice

Tree lovers

All aboard.


Career. Woman.

Asked an Osaka resident what was going on in Japanese comedy these days, and he directed me to Buruzon Chiemi.

 


E. B. White in the Paris Review

Found here, what a great interview:

INTERVIEWER

You have wondered at Kenneth Roberts’s working methods—his stamina and discipline. You said you often went to zoos rather than write. Can you say something of discipline and the writer?

WHITE

Kenneth Roberts wrote historical novels. He knew just what he wanted to do and where he was going. He rose in the morning and went to work, methodically and industriously. This has not been true of me. The things I have managed to write have been varied and spotty—a mishmash. Except for certain routine chores, I never knew in the morning how the day was going to develop. I was like a hunter, hoping to catch sight of a rabbit. There are two faces to discipline. If a man (who writes) feels like going to a zoo, he should by all means go to a zoo. He might even be lucky, as I once was when I paid a call at the Bronx Zoo and found myself attending the birth of twin fawns. It was a fine sight, and I lost no time writing a piece about it. The other face of discipline is that, zoo or no zoo, diversion or no diversion, in the end a man must sit down and get the words on paper, and against great odds. This takes stamina and resolution. Having got them on paper, he must still have the discipline to discard them if they fail to measure up; he must view them with a jaundiced eye and do the whole thing over as many times as is necessary to achieve excellence, or as close to excellence as he can get. This varies from one time to maybe twenty.

The whole thing is good.  White describes how he came to draw the above New Yorker cover, his only one.  And he talks about the diaries of Francis Kilbert, which sure do sound interesting.  (Jump to “4. Relations With Girls”)

 

 

 


Meanwhile, out in the desert

The top story in both the Hi-Desert Star and The Desert Trail is the removal of 1,100 desert tortoises from the Marine Corps base to safer lands.

Was Defense Secretary Mattis personally briefed on the operation?

It may seem silly but the story made me feel good.

find happy homes guys.


All I Gotta Do Is Act Naturally

When I first got to California a real curiosity was Bakersfield and the Bakersfield Sound.

from wiki’s article on the Kern River Oilfield. Photo by Antantrus

What the hell was going on up there in Bakersfield?  There were four Basque restaurants in town.

Buck Owens was the king of the Bakersfield sound, he had the Crystal Palace.  He died before I got to see him.  From Wiki:

The Los Angeles Times interviewed longtime Owens spokesman (and Buckaroos keyboard player) Jim Shaw, who said Owens “had come to the club early and had a chicken fried steak dinner and bragged that it’s his favorite meal.”

bragged?

Afterward, Owens told band members that he wasn’t feeling well and was going to skip that night’s performance. Shaw said a group of fans introduced themselves while Owens was preparing to drive home; when they told him that they had traveled from Oregon to hear him perform, Owens changed his mind and took the stage anyway.

Shaw recalled Owens telling the audience, “If somebody’s come all that way, I’m gonna do the show and give it my best shot. I might groan and squeak, but I’ll see what I can do.” Shaw added, “So, he had his favorite meal, played a show and died in his sleep. We thought, that’s not too bad.”

The alpha song of the Bakersfield sound has to be Act Naturally.  The Beatles had Ringo sing it:

I’ve probably listened to the Buck Owens version between 50 and 100 times.  It continues to reveal itself.  How about the the paradox of acting naturally.

Only very very good actors are capable of truly acting naturally.

Otani Oniji II as Yakko Edobei in the Play “Koinyabo Somewake Tazuna”
Saraku, Toshusai (worked 1794-1795)
Polychrome woodblock print with mica ground
h. 15 in. w. 9-7/8 in.
 from the Met.

Did Otani Onjii act naturally?

Whole acting schools are devoted to teaching people how to act naturally.

Why do people have so much trouble acting naturally?

If you’re in Bakersfield get an ice cream sundae at Dewar’s.