Maine and Texas

This one came up on Succession, a fave show. (Had to look it up because I wondered if they were doing a double joke where the guy was attributing Emerson to Thoreau)

Usually I’ll approach with tentative openness the pastoralist, simpler times, “trad” adjacent arguments of weirdbeards but Thoreau here WAY off.  Maine and Texas had TONS to communicate!  Who isn’t happy Maine and Texas can check in?  (Saying this as a Maine fan whose wife is from Texas, fond of both states and happy for their commerce and exchange).  Plus, if Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough, I WANT to hear that, that’s interesting goss!

The “broad flapping American ear” there — a snooty New England/aristocrat attitude we haven’t heard the last of.  These guys are the original elites.  There’s really two classes in America: Americans, and The People Who Think They’re Better Than Americans.  Though they’re a tiny minority the second group wields outside power and influence over the first group.  I’m a proud member of the first group though I admit I have second group tendencies due to my youthful indoctrination in the headquarters of these Concord Extremist Radicals, in fact at their head madrassa.

When you hear America assessed by Better Thans / eggheads, wait for the feint toward fatshaming.  It’s always in there somewhere.  American Better Thans adopted this from Europeans, whom they slavishly ape.  It’s a twisted attitude, designed to take blame away from the Better Thans and their friends in the ownership.

As if it’s Americans fault that they’ve been raised associating corn-based treats with love and goodness!  Or that corn-fatted meat is the easiest accessed protein on offer!  You think that’s more the Americans fault, or the fault of the Better Thans, who manipulate our food system with their only goal creating shareholder value?

Is it the fault of the American that a cold soda is the best cheap pleasure in the hot and dusty interior where they don’t all have Walden Pond as a personal spa?

Thoreau.  Guy makes me sick.

In researching this article I learn about Maine-ly Sandwiches, of Houston.

 

 


Adobe Walls

Best as I can tell both the first and second Battles of Adobe Walls happened somewhere around here, near what’s now Stinnett, Texas, founded 1926 by A. P. Ace Borger

That’s from

which I’m finding fantastic.  I’m not THAT into The Searchers the movie (I mean I think it’s cool) but this book is amazing as Texas history.  I’d put it on a shelf with God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright.  They can split the Helytimes J. Frank Dobie Texas History Prize for 2018.

Wikipedia yields:

photographer unknown.

A Kiowa ledger drawing possibly depicting the Buffalo Wallow Battle in 1874, one of several clashes between Southern Plains Indians and the U.S. Army during the Red River War.

Billy Dixon was there:

Billy Dixon during his days as an Indian scout. Only known picture of him while he still wore his hair long as he did during his Indian fights.

By August a troop of cavalry made it to Adobe Walls, under Lt. Frank D. Baldwin, with Masterson and Dixon as scouts, where a dozen men were still holed up.[1]:247 “Some mischievous fellow had stuck an Indian’s skull on each post of the corral gate.”[1]:248 The killing had not ended, however; one civilian was lanced by Indians while looking for wild plums along the Canadian River.

This wasn’t that long ago.

Maybe some day I’ll get to that part of Texas.  Long Texas drives have formed an important part of my life.  Wouldn’t have it any other way.


God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright

a spontaneous Helytimes Book Prize For Excellence is awarded to God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright.  Absolutely fantastic.  The Alamo, Marfa, Willie Nelson, Ann Richards, how the legislature works, the Kennedy assassination, Spindletop, everything you’d want to read about in a book about Texas is succinctly, thoughtfully, humorously explored.

Two clips:

What?! and:

A special bonus:  this book has a firsthand account of the 1999 Matthew McConaughey “bongos incident.”


Advances in Cormac studies

Morrow quotes McCarthy as saying that “even people who write well can’t write novels… They assume another sort of voice and a weird, affected kind of style.  They think, ‘O now I’m writing a novel,’ and something happens.  They write really good essays… but goddamn, the minute they start writing a novel they go crazy

In early 2008 Texas State University announced they’d acquired Cormac McCarthy’s papers.  The next year they made them available to scholars.  Now two books based on rummaging around in these notes have appeared.

This one, by Michael Lynn Crews, explores the literary influences McCarthy drew on, which authors and books he had quotes from buried in his papers.

The quote about novelists going crazy is from a letter exchange McCarthy was having re: Ron Hanson’s novel Desperadoes, which McCarthy admired.

This one, by Daniel Robert King, takes more of a semi-biographical approach, tracing out what we can learn about McCarthy from his correspondence with agents and editors.  A sample:

Bought these books because it gives confidence to observe that somebody whose writing sounds like it emerged pronounced from the cliffs like some kind of Texas Quran had to work and revise and toss stuff and chisel to get there.

From these books it is clear:

  • McCarthy is a meticulous and patient rewriter
  • it took decades for his work to gain any significant recognition
  • he was helped with seeming love and care by editor Albert Erskine.
  • he was patient, open, yet confident in editorial correspondence

These books are not necessary for the casual personal library, but if you enjoy gnawing on literary scraps, recommend them both.  From King:

However, in this same letter, he acknowledges that “the truth is that the historical material is really – to me – little more than a framework upon which to hang a dramatic inquiry into the nature of destiny and history and the uses of reason and knowledge and the nature of evil and all these sorts of things which have plagued folks since there were folks.”


In A Narrow Grave

In anticipation of a trip to Texas, I got this one off the shelf.  Neither McMurtry’s best (that would be Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, in which he gives a recipe for lime Dr. Pepper) or his worst (that would be Paradise, where he proves his point that Tahiti is boring), in this fan’s opinion.

McMurtry’s essay on the sexual attitudes of the post-frontier Texas of his youth is pretty interesting:

He also says it wasn’t a big deal in his youth for a young man to have sex with a cow or pig.

 


Good picture

Found this picture on Thomas Ricks’ blog.  USA!  USA!

170831-N-KL846-150 VIDOR, Texas (Aug. 31, 2017) Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Jansen Schamp, a native of Denver, Colorado and assigned to the Dragon Whales of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, rescues two dogs at Pine Forrest Elementary School, a shelter that required evacuation after flood waters from Hurricane Harvey reached its grounds. The mission resulted in the rescue of seven adults, seven children and four dogs.  (U.S. Navy Video by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Lindahl/Released)

Reminded of a claim that Goebbels was forever frustrated the Nazis couldn’t make propaganda as good as what the USA churned out.

Worth signing up or whatever you need to do to read Ricks’ blog.

Here’s a good post about the situation in Afghanistan.

Here’s a good one about “15 assumptions about the behavior of North Korea’s Kim family regime

And his reliefs and suspensions specials never fail to have one or two that would probably make a compelling movie.   At a secret Air Force base in Tunisia, a beloved commander lets his guys drink as much as they want and forms a dangerous relationship with a teenage subordinate.


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.