December 28th, 2006

it's a thinker

These books are not quite as bad as Hitler

Since I apparently forgot to start doing the Ludic Log again (but check back in '07, why not), I thought you might all be interested in what I'm reading right now. Because I know your lives are all so empty that they need filling with the cultural interests of an imaginary person on the internet.

I've just started Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day, and I'm about a third of the way into R.J.B. Bosworth's (relatively) recent biography of Mussolini. The latter is pretty good so far, but its strength is also its weakness: the lively, inquisitive prose style carries you along, but it also lets the authorial voice get in the way of the facts at times. At any rate, his approach is quite interesting: he's a structuralist, and this is his first straight-up biography, so it's heavily colored by his view that social hierarchies and mass movements, not invidual "great men", make history. Luckily, I agree with this view, but I can see it getting under the skin of more traditionalist readers.

Incidentally, both the Pynchon and the Mussolini bio are sort of homework: I'm writing about Pynchon for the next issue of the High Hat, and I'm doing an NPR panel show next month about the nature of fascism and why both the "Bush is a fascist" and "Muslim extremists = Islamofascists" camps are wrong. (NPR always wants me for the cheeriest subjects. War, genocide and fascism! Don't they ever want to know what I think of delicious candy?)

Telephone Thing

Boy, the ol' Ludic Syndicate World Headquarters call log has been full of beans lately.


LP: Ludic Syndicate World Headquarters, how can I direct your call?

GWB: Lenny Bear! It's W.

LP: Oh, hi, Mr. President.

GWB: How was your Christmas?

LP: It was all right. I had a rough year, and family can be a trial, you know.

GWB: Tell me about it. My pop was nagging me about getting Eaglebuger some work. Hey, did you notice how I said "Christmas" just now? I said "How was your Christmas?"

LP: Uh...I just told you.

GWB: No, I mean, did you see how I said "Christmas", instead of "holiday" or "Conga" or whatnot?

LP: Oh, yeah, you did do that, didn't you. Also, it's "Kwanzaa".

GWB: Whatever, it's a made up holiday. Anyway, pretty risky of me, saying "Christmas", don't you think? Bold. Shows real leadership.

LP: Why?

GWB: Because, you know, the PC people.

LP: What people?

GWB: The PC police.

LP: Who are they, exactly?

GWB: You know what? I'll have to look into that. I think they're part of the Bureau of Weights and Measures, I got a memo about it. Did you know there was a war on Christmas?

LP: There's a war in Iraq, too.

GWB: Workin' on it!

LP: What can I do for you, Mr. President? I'm sure you didn't just call to wish me a happy Conga.

GWB: Well, I wanted to give you a chance to thank me for the extension of the tax cuts...

LP: I'm not sure who you think you're talking to, sir.

GWB: ...and ask you, do you think I'll be like Ford?

LP: You mean, die? Before I can answer, is this call being monitored by the Secret Service?

GWB: Been thinking about him lately. Good friend of pop's. Good man. People say he fell down a lot, uh uh! Not buyin' it. Stood on two feet. His own. Gave me the Dick-man for my 40th birthday present.

LP: He's the gift that keeps on giving, sir.

GWB: Anyhoot, he caught a lot of heat, Ford. People got on his case, for the pardon. Ups and dies, everyone remembers him nicely. Fondly, I'd say. All is forgiven.

LP: And you wonder if that will happen for you?

GWB: Worked for Nixon.

LP: Sort of. Ford didn't start a major war, of course.

GWB: Gotta start thinkin' of the ol' legacy, you know. I want pop to be cryin' about me during a speech one day.

LP: You know, sir, it's beyond possible and well into likely that you'll outlive your father.

GWB: You don't think I'll be, you know? (makes gunshot noise)

LP: Assassinated? By who?

GWB: Didn't you hear me say "Christmas" before?

LP: I gotta go, Mr. President.
is this thing on?

Telephone Ring

And then, of course, there was this one.


LP: Ludic Syndicate World Headquarters, how may I direct your call?

LR: "Operator".

LP: This is the operator.

LR: (presses "0" on keypad)

LP: Sir, this is the operator.

LR: Goddamn do you get a live person on these fucking things?

LP: Hello? Sir? I am a live person.

LR: Finally. I need Leonard Pierce.

LP: This is he.

LR: That was fast.

LP: Well, to be honest with you, it's only me here. I lost most of my staff during the breakup. I think they're all working for the drug dealers who used to live across the street from us now.

LR: Drag.

LP: Is this Herman Munster?

LR: No, it's Lou.

LP: Lou Dobbs?

LR: No, it's me, Lou.

LP: Lou Barlow?

LR: Close. Lou Reed. By the way, have you noticed how fat Lou Barlow has gotten lately?

LP: Man, no shit. I think he spent the time between Sebadoh III and now doing nothing but eat Ding Dongs. Anyway, what can I do for you, Lou?

LR: Well, as you know, man, the voting for the next round of inductees to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame is coming up, and I was wondering if you could help me out.

LP: Geez, Lou, I dunno.

LR: Come on, man. I know we've had our differences, and my work as well as my life of late has been a bit of a disappointment to you, but I was responsible for the Velvets. Probably the most important band, in terms of the music that you like, of all time.

LP: Lou, I...

LR: And my solo work -- I'm the first to admit I'm not setting the world on fire anymore, but I was pretty untouchable right up through New York. You always talk about how Bowie owned the '70s, and there's no Bowie without Lou.

LP: It's just...

LR: If nothing else, I recorded Metal Machine Music, thus providing critics an eternally enduring shorthand for "unlistenable noise".

LP: That's true, but...

LR: I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, man. And you know it.

LP: I agree.

LR: So what's the problem, man? Is it Laurie Anderson? She wanted it, I swear. She's a cheetah.

LP: No, it's just that the ballots for 2007 have already gone out.

LR: Really? Did you vote for me?

LP: That's the other thing. I'm not on the voting committee.

LR: What? You were a total big shot back at Rolling Stone. You wrote that stroke book about Springsteen!

LP: Uh, that wasn't me. You're thinking of Dave Marsh. I'm a complete nobody who writes for indie papers and free weeklies. I barely even rate an invite to do the Voice poll.

LR: Shit. Do you have Dave Marsh's number, then?

LP: Well, it's Wednesday, which is the day he washes Bruce's car. I think I can track him down. But the other other thing is, Lou...

LR: Is it money? Look, I'd be happy to bribe you, man, if you don't mind 35-year-old meth tablets instead of money.

LP: No, Lou. It's that, well, you're already in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

LR: Really?

LP: Twice.

LR: Twice?

LP: Yep.

LR: Man, I am so wasted. I'm gonna take a nap.

LP: Good talking to you, Lou.
party time


It is rum_holiday's birthday today. As you may know, she's one of my favorite people in the universe, and one of the reasons I'll be spending New Year's Eve in my beloved Chicago. There's no real point to this post -- you don't gotta wish her well or anything, and besides, you all appear to be on vacation or dead or boycotting me or something -- but I just wanted to say happy birthday to her, because she's cool.