Ode To Warren Zevon


Aquarian Weekly 11/6/02


Warren Zevon is dying and I’m pissed.

I had to get that out. It’s been festering in me since late August when I heard through someone at his record company that he would not be making our interview date. I’d been looking forward to it since receiving promo material in the mail for his latest album, ironically entitled, My Ride’s Here. But there would be no interview, nor the appearances he was due to make in NYC in late September.

Warren ZevonIt was early September when rumblings at Zevon’s publicist offices warned that he might pull out of scheduled concerts due to personal reasons. This became official with the posted announcement on his web site that “Mr. Zevon has inoperable lung cancer” followed closely by an article in the L.A. Times describing his prognosis as months to perhaps weeks to live.

Although having never met, Zevon and I have had many parallels, and not just in satirical literary styles or the penchant for making the “one quick drink with a pal” scenario last for three days. I have seen him perform some fifteen times over the past twenty-five years and oddly had numerous meetings and interactions with people who had either played with him, toured with him, worked his lights, tuned his piano, grabbed a cup of java with him, drove with him to a party, etc.

Seemed there would be plenty of time to meet up with one of my favorite songwriters, and a man for whom I have liberally quoted in this space and in my second book, including the now infamous “More people should listen to Warren Zevon” line in my very first “Chaos in Motion” pieces from the early 90s’. I ‘d even foolishly eschewed a chat with him when he was standing a few feet from me at a bar in Rochester, NY two winters ago, so as to not bug him.

Sure, if there was someone I didn’t need to chase down, when our paths had nearly crossed dozens of times throughout my brief – and his longer and more established – career, it would be Warren Zevon.

Cleaned up, dry as a bone and down to only a few packs a day, Zevon’s work over the past few years had never sounded better. Christ, the man was exercising. This is usually the tolling bell for most, but for Zevon, a man for whom blatantly sadistic metaphor was not lost, it seemed ludicrous.

When these kinds of things mattered, like before I was married and tried to bring some semblance of normality and balance to my life, Warren Zevon’s indestructibility was more than an inspiration. Like Keith Richards or Hunter S. Thompson, there were no mammals on earth that could withstand the force of mortality like the man I had enjoyed calling The Captain.

For The Captain survival was good enough to write about in song and story, black visions of carnivorous women and vicious men feeding on the soulless creation propped up at the piano like a pickled wax figure. Good enough to recall; back from oblivion and leaning into the bar with a shot of rye and a Charles Bukowski Reader by the ashtray looking for something to spark the ol’ muse; something fresh, sinister, dangerous or fucking insane.

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

You betcha.

Zevon dying?


Right, and if I drive along the Jersey Turnpike I might not see the Twin Towers? Sure, like I just turned 40 and I have a mortgage and a Godchild and I’m sitting at the midway truck stop off thirty years of bad road.

Fuck that.

I’m not accepting Zevon’s resignation off this mortal coil. He’s not allowed to go quietly into the good night and all that Dylan Thomas bullshit. This is a colder, blander, less fiery world without demented souls like Zevon. Last year it was Kesey, and now this crap?

Zevon is a true genius in the very definition. There is but one of him and his style, whatever the hell that is, and there will never be another like him.

Quite simply, Warren Zevon is one of only a fistful, and its a small fist at that, of songwriters within the rock and roll era who has even come close to entertaining me on every level – musical, lyrical, humorous, emotional and spiritual. He’s a fucking genius in a world where that term is thrown around much too loosely. Zevon is a true genius in the very definition. There is but one of him and his style, whatever the hell that is, and there will never be another like him.

I understand there are deeper, more human concerns here then how this affects me, but if I can’t think of myself in these dire situations, whom will of think of?

Zevon? That bastard has some nerve leaving the artist coalition like this. There are so few of his wondrous ilk left. Certainly, there are hardly any that I care a lick about or have grown up with or still listen to with any meaning today.

And I know we’re all getting older, and some of our mentors and inspirations and even contemporaries go, but I’m only 40 and Zevon is only 55, and it ain’t fair. Not now. Not ever.

And so here I sit on All Hollow’s Eve writing this maudlin crap and periodically distribute candies to the local kids and I feel like crying. Yeah, I’m a big baby, and boy if this is all that I have to cry about with all the pain and ugliness and suffering going on all over the place, then maybe I should be one super-charged happy camper. But I’m not.

I’m pissed.

For weeks I’ve ignored these feelings of anger, loss, mortality and this sense that even though I’m rip roaring prolific when it comes to whipping up the odd sentence on esoteric things like living in the moment, enjoying every second of life and realizing that you really only pass through this time once, regardless of belief, I cannot truly feel anything. But I do feel a large part of the reason I pound on this infernal keyboard in front me night after night is because of crazed beauties like Warren Zevon.

I love him as much as a man can love another man he’s almost never met.

He’s a kindred spirit and a goddamn poet noir and it is to him I dedicate my ever- prevalent slogan: NEVER SURRENDER.

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Your Children are not Safe

Aquarian Weekly 10/30/02 REALITY CHECK

“Your children are not safe anywhere, at any time…”

“I am God.” – Maryland Sniper

These are the words of a madman, a killer, a stalking beast; something out of Darwin’s best laid plans. These are also the words of an astute philosopher, poetic, striking, fierce and true; the truest words that ever ran from the lips of the most respected thinkers of this, or any time.

They appear in a crude note, made out to authorities carrying the underlying theme that murdering people as if on an early morning mountain hunting spree means more than mere killing. It is diplomatic, has the mark of social commentary, a strong message for the 21st century sensibility.

Inhuman? Monstrous? Hardly.

Human. Very human. Evil comes from us in many ways, shapes and forms. It becomes reality in the tools of aggression, in words and deeds, guns and laws. This sniper or snipers are creatures born of our fears and are the perfect model for a violent age, a violent race. It is not new. It is prevalent in our hearts and minds. Read the words, so raw, so frighteningly spot on.

“I am God.”

It’s been a banner year for kids. Coaches and teachers and priests and nuns and rabbis and uncles and parents have been coming out of the woodwork to prey on our children with daily doses of sexual assault and mental anguish to fill twenty World Trade Centers.

Of course, he is or they are, because that is what we all are, deep down, parts of us God, parts of us Devil. Evil and good. Truth and lies. Choosing to take life, preserve life, make safe, cause danger. Kind of scary to think about, but it certainly nails it right on the head in a wild-eyed twisted sort of way.

Sometimes it takes the beast to define the ultra-refined faux thinking of the modern psyche. But never mind the theology of a crazy man with a semi-automatic rifle. There are plenty of lunatics running around the planet killing for God and love and race and country and flags and land and self-loathing half-assed macho ego bullshit.

But here’s where this latest nut or nuts have given us a cherished reality check:

“Your children are not safe, anywhere, at anytime.”

Let’s face the gruesome facts: It’s been a banner year for kids. Coaches and teachers and priests and nuns and rabbis and uncles and parents have been coming out of the woodwork to prey on our children with daily doses of sexual assault and mental anguish to fill twenty World Trade Centers. Abuse, both physical and mental, heaped upon the innocent has become a gory epidemic, and now we have this mess down in Virginia and Maryland, a hop, skip and jump from the nation’s capital.

Actually, as was stated in this space a year ago when everyone was busy panicking over Anthrax, there is a better chance you can be bumped off by someone you’re currently living with, dating or sitting beside at lunch than any insidious outside force.

This applies now.

Your children are not safe anywhere. If we have learned nothing from the past fourteen months since we were yanked into the world’s problems, safety is illusion. Diligence is needed for self-preservation. Trust is folly. Praying, hoping, negotiating, even idle threats from government officials or braying pundits mean nothing.

Wake up!

You’re on your own. And everyday your kids open their eyes they are at risk, and it is your problem. Not the military’s, or police’s or the media’s or Hollywood or the Catholic Church or Oprah. It is time we pull our heads out of the collective ass and get with the program, a program that feeds on this planet like a virus since our ancestors crawled from the slime.

Those words read like a mantra, a creed, the new gospel.

“Your children are not safe, anywhere, at anytime.”

This sniper or snipers we’d read about every morning and run home to watch footage of his/their handy work every night on the evening news are a product of our insatiable need to conquer and destroy. Why? How? What the fuck is wrong with us?

It’s a wonder he/they are the only ones.

Let me take this moment to step back and point out that this guy, and his alleged teenage sidekick are not stupid or completely insane. He/they were very controlled and extremely well trained in his/their predatory ways. It was/is (if they caught only one part of the symptom in this) cerebral slaughter, contrived, instigated and brilliant, a brutally concise framework that was almost eerily scientific.

We like our serial killers frothing at the mouth, shut-ins taking orders from dogs and living in oblivion.

Lately we like our enemies to be brown-skinned foreigners with thick accents and very different cultural idiosyncrasies.

This is different, more sinister and calculated, cold and efficient, as random and cruel as nature or God or anything mysterious under the sun.

Now he/they have a prescient philosophy attached to the psychosis. Scholars enacting out their visions of madness with a stunning type of perfection.

We’ve heard that the truth hurts.

Now suddenly we wake up from the slumber of ignorance and see how it can kill.




“Your children are not safe, anywhere, at anytime.”


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Robert Torricelli is a Gutless Quitter

Aquarian Weekly 10/9/02 REALITY CHECK


Let’s make sure I’ve got this straight. Democratic Senator from New Jersey, Robert Torricelli, woefully diving in the polls, decides he will not run a race he cannot win. And a man whom the party defended like the last beer at a frat bash for six months is unceremoniously shoved off the proverbial plank with a month to go. AND…his former opponent and surprising leader with the final leg remaining in this mid-term madness, Douglas Forrester, who has based his campaign on calling for the senator’s head since announcing his candidacy, now wants him to honor his campaign.

I think I made my point last week: I do not want to get into the shady end of this mess of Jersey politics at this juncture of my career without some buffers in these warring camps. Let that read: I am not about to start uncovering the rotten cheese inside this fucking abortion without someone on the inside at least running interference for me.

This is not 1992, and I’m no longer a single, half-sober punk with nothing to lose. I will not go to the mat with these freaks for this column or any other space in a national publication to uncover the levels of disgust this story implies.

Having put that out there, and not necessarily as an excuse for laying off the normal hammer this space wields, but to keep a safe distance from a story I’d previously ignored. One that I’m now forced to face because last week I foolishly broached Torricelli’s doom, and within two days of its publication, he bails.

And so, keeping in tune with gutless cop-outs and half-ass disingenuous offerings, I present the following conversation to stand as some kind of coverage. It was taped on the morning of 10/3 with my main Dem insider, whom the readers of this space know as Dibbs.

jc: What the fuck is going on?

Dibbs: How exactly do you mean?

jc: When the governor of the state, a Democrat, spends a Saturday afternoon radio show painting his party’s incumbent senator as St. Francis of Assisi, and by Monday evening cannot be found for comment while the guy quits his campaign in a blubbering staged fiasco, it’s time to ask that question.

“I’d like to ask your readers, especially the Republican ones, what are they so afraid of? There are only four weeks left to defend a substantial lead against a latecomer. Run and win.”

DB: First of all, and I know you won’t buy this, and frankly, I don’t care, because it is, as you like to say, the stone cold truth: Senator Torricelli made that call on his own, against – and let me make this painfully clear – against the better wishes of Governor James McGreevy and the major party people.

jc: Bullshit. You want to know how I see this?

DB: Not particularly.

jc: The national party people leaned on McGreevy and the predominantly Democratic government to deliver New Jersey in a tight race to keep control of the senate, because there is no chance in hell the Dems are keeping the House and everyone with half a brain knows you could run a cadaver against a Republican in this state and win, but a smug crook is too much for even these poor people to take.

DB: Wrong.

jc: Oh, I believe that’s 75% of it. The other quarter stems from the “wolf in the hen house” idea that McGreevy’s party base is threatened if he allows a wild card Republican rich guy to slide next to the other Democratic rich guy, Jon Corzine.

DB: I think I just stated that the power base of this party backed a Torricelli run, regardless of the negative press and poll numbers. And let me remind you that Robert Torricelli was exonerated in a court of law, which apparently means nothing to the media or the Republican Party. I think the last few years have proven that.

jc: I’m talking politics here, not law. You cannot have that much evidence and allegations go against you within a calendar year of an election and expect people to concentrate “on the issues”.

DB: I think we all know that there is no platform for the Forrester campaign beyond “Hey, I’m not Robert Torricelli.” It’s a disgrace.

jc: Good segue. Speaking of the law and ” a disgrace”, what rights does Torricelli have–let me rephrase that–what recourse, politically, do the Dems have to survive this?

DB: If you’re referring to the state charter on this sort of thing, it is not without precedent. I think the state Supreme Court ruling backs that up, so we’re talking mainly about semantics. If Torricelli were to resign his post, which he refuses to do based on salary and pension concerns, the governor could postpone this election, forcing Forrester to spend money up to 12 months to keep the heat on.

jc: But Torricelli didn’t resign. He dropped out.

DB: Despite all this predictable posturing by Forrester, believe me when I tell you, the Republicans want this ruling to stick.

jc: Especially running a fossil like Frank Lautenberg into this cauldron?

DB: Crook? Fossil? I see talking to you today has been it’s usual mistake.

jc: Thank you.

DB: And I think I’d like to ask your readers, especially the Republican ones, what are they so afraid of? There are only four weeks left to defend a substantial lead against a latecomer. Run and win. Unless you could only beat Torricelli, a candidate with a millstone hanging around his neck.

jc: Sounds to me like a fixed political game in this state, much like Florida for the GOP. Chance of Gore getting out of there with a fair shake was nil. I think a goon like Forrester has to know that.

DB: We don’t even need Jersey. Take my word for it.

jc: You’re going down. I’m looking forward to watching the Bush administration ride an all-Republican congress into war and recession.

DB: You’re an ass.

jc: Clever like an ass.

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2002 Mid-Term Campaigns

Aquarian Weekly 10/2/02 REALITY CHECK


Despite reams of pestering mail to the contrary, I cannot bring myself to knock off another 900 words on this Iraq mess. It’s been twelve years of this crap and most of my thoughts are well documented in my second book, Fear No Art, and if anyone is really interested they can storm into a Barnes & Noble, plunk down 15 bucks and have a ball. Otherwise, I’m done considering it anything more than a corporate big-dick mambo in the desert.

Seeing how this economy is so completely fucked, it is only right to huddle back into the safe haven of political prognostication, which these days is starting to resemble my putrid record for betting on pro football.

In the early 90s’ both subjects brought smiles to colleagues and cash flow to the Campion residence. Neither is apparently working too well in this new and improved century of madness. Yet, strangely, I cannot turn away.

Nonetheless, the view from Fort Vernon is pleasant these days. Local politics glides along merrily on the backs of property taxes, sanitation concerns and Indian burial grounds being defaced by wayward contractors.

For the first time in this nation’s history there has been no significant shift in the public debate since its closest presidential election. There is no mandate. There is no fusion.

And, I guess, being a resident of the Garden State again for the past 13 months and not commenting on the Senator Robert Torricelli fiasco, and his laughable stumble toward the Election Day finish line, is somewhat damning to my credibility as a reporter. That is, if I possessed credibility. However, the kinds of sources and connections that make a column of this ilk fly are not the kind I wish to dredge up in my new home state.

Let’s leave it at that.

Now let’s foray into what these mid-term elections are really all about to us media types: the national scene.

Firstly, this is a redistricting year, so some key states will lose and/or gain congressional representatives. What that will mean in the long run is a wild card since it balances out the normal number of retirees. Most times redistricting means incumbents fixing certain voting areas to keep their piece of the pie, a highly dubious practice that ranks up there with the many injustices to the voting public that continue to fail this vacillating democracy.

This time around the Republicans will be defending a six-seat advantage in the House and hope to flip the disadvantage in the Senate by at least one.

History says the GOP would be looking at miles of bad road. Most voters, although concerned with local issues, tend to use mid-term elections to lean toward the party opposite of the reigning executive branch.

Even those who loudly espouse the theory that these things are about local economies have to admit this autumn does not bode well for Republicans. Forty-eight of the 50 states are projecting record budget losses for ’03 and tight races tend to dredge up fiscal mayhem for incumbents.

But of the fewer than 40 districts considered even remotely competitive this fall, the Democrats would have to take two-thirds to change the majority in the House. In fact, the highly regarded Cook Political Report announced this week that only “two dozen House races will be tight and the Democrats would need to win at least 75 percent of those to take back control of the House.”

With so few close races and so much ground to make up, this is a heavy challenge; especially with Republicans painting every Democrat with a treasonous brush if they so much as consider opposing some measure of this increasingly ambiguous Bush foreign policy romp.

But with the ugly exit of Gary Condit in California and the Torricelli stank here in Jersey, the big money falls on the GOP side. The House will stay Republican.

The real horse race resides in the Senate where tussles in South Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa, Georgia and Louisiana will likely decide policy for the next two years.

The Democrats will tell you it’s important to keep things even in Washington to avoid easy appointees to the Supreme Court, giving the Right to Life crowd a fighting chance. Not to mention more noise on Medicare and Social Security (again!), last year’s tax cut and the billions a month on this country is spending on gassing desert caves, spying on North Korea and something resembling Homeland Security.

None of this is likely to matter, even if the Republicans gain control of the Senate. With the philosophical split in the voter base being almost even, it is a stone cold guarantee that any extreme maneuvers would lay waste to the future of the party and make G.W. another one-term Bush.

However, politically, this would be a major coup for Republicans. They can almost smell the tide beginning to turn. Barring more independent wrangling, this is a true chance for policy threats to bend their way for at least two years.

Of course, this is a country literally divided down the middle. For the first time in this nation’s history there has been no significant shift in the public debate since its closest presidential election. There is no mandate. There is no fusion.

Just like pro football. Parody.

Makes it hard to win money or guess power struggles.

Yet, strangely, I cannot turn away.

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Tribute to New York City 9/11/02

Aquarian Weekly 9/11/02 REALITY CHECK


These words will hit the stands on 9/11, the one-year anniversary of…all right! Enough! We know, already. How did it happen? How are we different as a nation? Reflections. Tributes. Commentary. Anger. Grief. Patriotism. All over again, and again, and…you guessed it…again.

The United States of American absolutely took an unprecedented hit on the eleventh day of the ninth month of the first year of a new millennium. The United States of America had to rebound, respond and rebuild. Yeah, those people in Hibbing, Minnesota and Flagstaff, Arizona or all points south, west and north had a hell of a time trudging through the shock and devastation.

But what about New York City? What about my town? The island of my birth. The place in my heart. And what about those poor souls who went to work as they did every morning, from every walk of life, and every nationality, never to return.

Nothing against the national psyche or the overall mood of the nation following the terrible events of 9/11/01, but 12 months ago the lower half of Manhattan became a war zone. The tallest buildings on this continent’s eastern seaboard hit the deck in a fiery hail of brick and mortar and steaming led. And hundreds upon thousands of its citizens went down with them.

NYC is the greatest city in the world. It is the greatest city in the history of civilization. Not because it’s big and loud and rich and broke and mean and lovable and dirty and magnificent and peaceful and teetering on the edge of sanity all at the same time, but because its streets are filled with survivors.

NYC was wounded before the first of those Twin Towers hit the pavement. Before a single life was taken. Before a single scream, gasp or rushing civil servant came on the scene. Fear is a tough emotion to hide in a fishbowl.

We all know why the enemies of this nation chose NYC, chose the towering symbol of capitalism run amok, chose to put a gaping fissure into its gloriously fashioned landscape.

Most New Yorkers, or Jerseyites or tri-state “bridge and tunnel” types choose to ignore what the rest of the country or the world thinks about NYC, and everything it stands for. The volume and energy, the brash, dig-deep and call the big dogs out we’re taking this sucker by the jugular and riding it out to God’s horizon kind of gruesome beauty.

And that goes for all the viewpoints of those who see NYC as some kind of moral cesspool of violence and corruption, fast talking power mongers feeding off the young and innocent while the women take the survivors and chew on their intestines for a nicotine substitute. A knockdown, drag-out ugliness fit for the final days of Nero on the precipice of human gluttony hardly imagined by the middle-class backbone of salted American earth.

Yeah, we pretty much ignore that kind of shit around here. Those who have spent fifteen minutes in NYC know how much passes for truth and whatever’s left is everything we want everyone else to think about it.

When I was in Israel some six years ago now, I can recall the utter mask of horror that would engulf the faces of the locals when I informed them of the place from which I hail. At the time I was living about 30 miles northwest of the big town and the poor bastards wondered what had kept me alive so long. These are people who live in the REAL Ground Zero, and not just for the past few months, but the past four decades. These were the souls who had heard all they wanted to hear about NYC.

Israelis concerned for New Yorkers.

And maybe, well…as it turns out, they were correct.

Be that as it may, the rest of this nation, and the globe for that matter, watched NYC take the monumental hit 12 months ago, and although there has been much song and story attached to it, NYC took it like the proverbial champ.

The mayor was a tireless lunatic, the police a swarming cadre of manic fusion and the fire department, a 360, crease-streak, four-on-the-floor, top-gun slam dunk. And the people, NYC’s people, came with the good stuff. No, the great stuff. A hymn for humanity. It was a thing to behold.

It was an historical thing to behold and then some. That day, and every day after. It was, it is, NYC, with all its warts and scars and bad stories from bad neighborhoods and bad asses, cranking it up night after night after night. Putting it back together. Smoothing the edges. Filling the holes, especially the ones in the chests of its grieving.

NYC had to show the rest of this spinning sphere how to get up, and clean up, and cauterize the wound. To stabilize, like a body invaded by a virus must. Go on, or die trying. Fighting. Fighting for survival, the kind of survival no American metropolis has had to struggle for since the Civil War.

Economic downturn, disasters on Wall Street and the fear of the wandering tourist aside, NYC had a hell of a winter and spring and summer. I was there for a chunk of it. Collecting traffic tickets, getting into fierce debates, closing bars and experiencing friends and colleagues as they created great theater and music and sports, and getting infused like before.

Only for many of us who can’t remember a deviation from the skyline, it is different now. Not because we choose to ignore it or gloss it over with a New Year’s sheen or some summer festival charm, but because part of survival is merely living. Part of the victory of death is a new life, a resurrection, because in a world where safety is a luxury beyond all of our pocket books, drowning out the sorrow by facing the dawn is its cure.

NYC is the greatest city in the world. It is the greatest city in the history of civilization. Not because it’s big and loud and rich and broke and mean and lovable and dirty and magnificent and peaceful and teetering on the edge of sanity all at the same time, but because its streets are filled with survivors.

Fighting. Fighting.


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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 9/4/02 REALITY CHECK


“It’s just another night on the other side of life.” – Ian Hunter

Here’s the problem with turning 40, which I do on the ninth day of September, 2002, or a few days from the time this hits the streets. You see, it actually seems like I’m technically 110, or somewhere in my mid-hundreds. Not unlike say, Moses or Noah, or any of those Biblical types that lived well into their second or third centuries.

Aging, or should I say, experiencing life, is an odd process, seeing how most of what you really know is what is right in front of you and most of what you’ve already accumulated in the way of knowledge is ghostly, like a dream of some kind. And by the time you reference this crap its so completely meaningless in the realm of your current reality, you seem like a doddering fact-finder trying to impress the congregation.

Let me explain this as best I can within the structure of this column and the space limits in which it imposes.

My childhood used to matter to me. The events of days around pre-school or somewhere thereafter held an almost monumental theme to my teens and my early-to-mid-twenties. And since I’ve never been in therapy and barely attended the few psychology classes of my youth, these events have seemed to fade into a kind of peaceful oblivion. Not to mention drowned out by my over-use of testosterone-addled rage and teen angst transformed neatly into random poetry, wild prose and silly rock songs.

I guess if I’m lucky, I’ll have a few hundred more lives. Some of my fellow compatriots weren’t so fortunate. After all, hiding has its casualties.

So by my early twenties, I’d developed this character in my head that resembled my childhood persona in no possible way. The shy, blonde and blue-eyed runt whose mother dressed like a porcelain doll every day before attending the rigors of Catholic school was replaced by some kind of mutant. I grew up in a predominantly Italian neighborhood in the Bronx with everyone around me looking like something between John Travolta and some key cast member of The Godfather. So the quiet, outcast thing was predisposed, but not manipulated until the teenage years when I quickly became a foul-mouthed slop-head with a penchant for hating everything known to modern civilization and then some.

Although, if I can break for a moment, I must say, my parents recently visited Fort Vernon and brought clippings from my high school and college newspaper days, as well as the odd published mess from whatever bones the education system throws young loons like myself who fancies himself a scribe. And I must say, not too much of what comes spewing forth in this space weekly was absent from the mini-me. However, that kind of honesty seemed to slip through the cracks as I moved out on my own and broke from the family nest.

I stopped being honest, that’s it! I made it up as I went along and tried the best I could to mask any parts of me that might have reared its ugly head during the painful maturation process.

So, until I hit thirty, I found myself hiding. Yes, I think that’s it, hiding. Here’s the best way to describe hiding in America as a young man. Play music. Grow your hair. Get extreme to the point of structured radicalism. Get pissed at things you cannot control, like international mistreatment of foreign citizens by your government and other governments. Just mainly get pissed, really pissed at everything. When you get bored of this, freely practice getting pissed at being pissed.

During this time, treat other people like characters in a play, especially those of the opposite sex, who are more than a little confused at their own place in the world. You can also throw in the odd use of drugs or alcohol, and mostly fill up what’s remaining of your mushy brain matter with reams of pop culture and volumes of Kurt Vonnegut.

Then go to work in the most disgusting forms of journalism. By this time you cut your hair, put down the guitar for a meager form of subsistence and begin to sink yourself into the fantasy world of sports journalism. More hiding; but with less angst and a better level of car and girl and friend.

Not to say, I did not meet the finest humans on the planet while practicing my hiding and making anger into some semblance of art, its just that for every pearl there is too much swine.

But hey, I don’t want to hear any pansy shit about the Marines or Special Forces. If you could send me back in a time machine to Brooklyn or Greenwich Village or Freehold or the Jersey Shore or Trenton or Philly or those original far-off days at the Putnam Bunker, I’d gather up all those crazy motherfuckers and ship us all to Baghdad right now and prepare for victory. But enough about my twenties.

Man, I loved turning thirty, because for a manic of infinite changes, the flip on the age odometer means regressing back into the hiding state, but this time with eyes wide open. In other words, try being nineteen again, but with a hell of a lot more cash, experience and a better vocabulary in which to skew your new version of pissed. I don’t know about anyone else, but for the likes of me, this is a highly evolved state a nirvana.

And it was during my thirties that I got down to really writing. Not pretending to write, or living like I wanted to have written; just balls to the wall, no white flags, burn down the fucking highway writing. Bad writing. Good writing. Book writing. Talk about writing. Sleep writing. Dream writing. Sex, laugh, fools gold writing.

Yes, a writer. Like I once wrote in my middle-school yearbook, like I wished when I was falling asleep on some beach half out of my head, like I talked about with everyone who would listen. Living in the swirl of events and not giving a pile who the hell cared. But 40? Jesus, how long do they expect me to live?

I guess if I’m lucky, I’ll have a few hundred more lives. Some of my fellow compatriots weren’t so fortunate. After all, hiding has its casualties.

One hundred more lives, huh? Maybe that means a few more times to die. So, I’d like to conclude by thanking all those people who came to my many funerals. See ya at the next one hundred. Hopefully.

Now where are my hiding shoes?

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The Bonzi Conspiracy

Aquarian Weekly 8/21/02 REALITY CHECK


Internet spying by the CIA, FBI and the Nike Corporation has reached new levels of paranoia and mayhem in the aftermath of 9/11. The dedicated crew of the Reality Check News & Information Desk has compiled several smoking guns as to how government organizations, corporate recognizance and diabolical Arab nations have used software, downloads and subtle forms of subconscious propaganda to infiltrate the minds of web surfing Americans.

The following is a public service warning from our own computer guru and web double agent, G-Padre, the Godfather of Spam, and the Duke of Hacking. Seems the cute purple gorilla icon known to insiders as the Bonzi Buddy is an egregious breech in security for Internet users, as well as a blatant mockery of the 4th Amendment.

The potential evil of this “Bonzi” was first revealed to me through several scathing E-mails disseminated by the legendary Chief Wonka, who in his haste to destroy Bonzi as a tool of oppression inadvertently fingered him to the cyber press. But since everyone has lost their shirt on tech stocks in the last fifteen months, and many Internet police have been sacked, the only way to implicate those barons behind this insidious plot was to communicate with G-Padre through code.

Please be advised that this type of intricate emissary tactics have been kept from the public for decades. The same kind of language can be found in hidden documents regarding the planning of D-Day, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the ensuing Kennedy Assassination, the botched Waco infiltration and detailed paparazzi communication during the recent Liza Minnelli wedding.

“I said fuck Bonzi….whitey!!!!!!!!!!! Another plot from the man to monitor my computer you fascist fuck hole!!!!

The transmission, although crude and often offensive, is a glimpse into international intrigue and rogue agents of badass journalists. It begins with a veiled discussion about the implicated desktop icon, Bonzi, but deteriorates into what appears to the untrained eye as a blathering piss fight between drunken street gangstas. But although crack cocaine has run high among top-level CIA informants, be assured the security of your civil rights hangs in the balance of this ostensibly innocuous conversation.

Special agent Tork, an agent of unknown origin, joins G-Padre, a Korean expatriate for this revealing transmission. The names and places have been hidden for legal purposes. To decipher the code-speak of these men, it is best to clear the mind of all preconceptions of accepted diction and coherence.

As the great mathematician, Lewis Carroll once wrote, “We are now through the looking glass.”

Somewhere in the Western Hemisphere:

Tork: Did you use your Bonzi Buddy today?

G-Padre: Fuck Bonzi, you cocksucker.

T: Are you denying your everlasting love and devotion to the Lord Bonzi??

G: I said fuck Bonzi….whitey!!!!!!!!!!! Another plot from the man to monitor my computer you fascist fuck hole!!!!

T: Fuck yo momz, Bonzi ain’t no narc like P-Diddy. Get wit da bomb, k- dag.

G: What do you know CRACKER??!!!!!!! Round mother fuckin eye!!! Stay out of the ghetto mofo or get sprayed.

T: Listen you poser, muthafucka, jump back or get a smack daddy back to the ghetto blaster! There is nobody like the Bonzi when the deal goes down, cumputa boyeee!!!!

G: DTAI – BAI, you wack-ass cracker. Stay your ass out da hood!

T: DA HOOD? What you know about the boogie down, cribble beatch? It’s Bonzi’s world and you’re renting!! Whatcha think of that, punk tech slut??

G: Who are you talking to you cumputa slut. Stop tricking the cyber hood bitch. Bonzi pimps you!!!

T: LOVE BONZI or DIE BONZI – know it, be it, live it, gutta ho!!

G: Reppin 845 straight out da projects bitch. Nigga what?? Thug life, kid, thug life. —yo, tootie pussy ass black mofo!

T: Check da time and do the crime, if ya’ll can stands the heat at 108 and counting, muffin muncher!!!!

G: Uncle Tom get da step bitch.

T: Get dat weak-ass, k-dawg shit offa my cumputer skizzie, or you will be cueing up for statistics! And keep your time on this work “ORIGINAL SPEC” BITCH!

G: Take your yoga and shove it up your ass. Walk on coals motherfucker? Try walking in the hood at night and then be proud.

T: Listen, jungle telly, almond-eyed bitch, you think you escaping the Bonzi threat of the day in your midday slumber!!! Think again, mutha humpa!! Fight the power. Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. Don’t get it twisted, Bonzi trick.

G: Yo, buffalo soldier, don’t worry ’bout a ting, man.

T: Dat’s the Jah lookin afta ya, not Bonzi. He is da white man’s lord & savior — son of kong, don’t ya know? Git wit it, rastah!! One love, one world lets get together and feel all right.

G: Straight from Babylon with gaze trees bitch. Keep it gansta. Keep it gator.


G: Fuck the po po, mutha humpa. Bonzi be a cop killa, cheap ho, lap-ass barracuda bitch – fo po, yo!!

T: G’s up, ho’s down. Bonzi ho – peace out.

G: Righteous clean.

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Will Baseball Shut Down in 2002?

Aquarian Weekly 8/14/02 REALITY CHECK

THE TOYS OF SUMMER (Musings on the Destruction of the 2002 Baseball Season)

This chic philosophy that Major League baseball has somehow been irrevocably ruined because the All-Star Game ended in a tie or the players are jacked up on all kinds of steroids or no one in the greater Kansas City area could not give half a shit about the Royals or the New York Yankees are run like a veracious corporate monstrosity or Ted Williams’ kids are currently carving up his frozen corpse for a QVC extravaganza begs argument.

Here’s mine:

Major League Baseball is already ruined. It happened long before this year, which hangs by a thread by the way – no matter what the loud, funny Sportscenter cretins say or the silly nicotine-stained sports writers send to copy. MLB is run like beer night at the Alabama Commerce Concern, complete with whooping truckers and a tipsy Jugs Larue. Its Commissioner is an overt lackey while its Players Association resembles Hitler’s third draft of the Blitzkrieg.

In 1994 this bawdy combination shut down a $9 billion industry. The owners couldn’t stop themselves from spending our money. The players couldn’t be helped taking it. The result: No World Series.

The trial for baseball will always be the have’s and have not’s. And that shall never die. Not as long as there are all these teams in cities that do not need, want or deserve baseball.

I was on the frontlines then. Inside the mayhem, bruised by the fallout. I hosted two sports talk shows, one on radio, one on local television in Westchester, NY. I was a sports columnist for a solid weekly and putting the finishing touches on the fourth season of an interview program celebrating the national pastime called “The X-TRA Inning.” To say the ’94 Baseball Lockout fucked me but good is an understatement of Biblical Proportions.

I had the goods on that bit of public relations propaganda. A lot of us grungy sports types did. The truth came hard and fast that summer, and none of it was pleasant. The results of my nightmare can be found in my second book, so I shan’t relive its massive wounds again.

The truth is, what we learned that dim autumn is that MLB is one of those strange American institutions like Fast Food Addiction or Puritanical Voyeurism. It’s both spectacle and business. But the business part keeps the spectacle part solvent, and like most businesses, money is the only line, bottom or otherwise.

For seventy odd years the owners held fast to the economic hammer. The past thirty-five or so, the players have kept a powerful grip on it. Throughout the money flowed, and still flows, regardless what dipshits like Larry Dolan or Bud Selig or that miserable jack-off who runs the Arizona Diamondbacks pass off as truth.

Selig, the aforementioned “lackey commissioner” comes out every few months to claim half the teams are going bankrupt. Then when the Boston Red Sox franchise was for sale this past winter he teamed with those floating the interesting notion that selling to the third highest bidder was “good for the game”. When the league spoke of contracting two teams a few months back – a sober choice considering these three-martini troglodytes added teams in a gluttonous rampage of avarice for twenty years to gain a sizable windfall, which nearly turned high-performance art into the first six minutes of Bull Durham – Selig suggested that the Montreal Expos and the Minnesota Twins must go.

Montreal was an interesting choice for a baseball city in 1969, hardly the heartland of hardball, but a noteworthy attempt to reach out to our northern neighbors. But when American greed got the best of the game in 1994, not only did the paltry attendance numbers dive in Montreal, it plummeted in previously booming Toronto as well. Montreal was a no brainer to get axed.

Minnesota, however, had a deeper realm of reasoning for the commissioner. Seems not only does Selig’s family own the interest in the Milwaukee Brewers, a regional competitor of the Twins, but its owner, Carl Pohlad, is also a close buddy. Pohlad needed to get out of a nasty lease in the dome his team plays in, and Selig needed more hungry baseball fans to fill his own shiny new (mostly empty) ballpark.

This bit of fun loving insider trading was not unlike 1994 when Selig pulled a mass charade of “baseball is doomed” paranoia by using the relocating interest of California franchise owners and George Steinbrenner’s dangling legal troubles to kick-start the coup d’état that nearly destroyed the game.

Damn it! I tried to stay away from ’94, but it’s getting harder with every sentence. The mood is about the same these days, but something in the heart of the game says it’s not automatic that work another stoppage will lead to baseball’s nuclear winter. Speculation seems to point to the country’s mood approaching the anniversary of 9/11 and the resulting quagmire economy as reasons why clearer heads will prevail.

My own sources, paltry as they are since I do not skulk around with the big boys in the game any longer, tell me the horizon is actually brighter than I’m inclined to predict. At least the principles are agreeing that something needs to be fixed, just that they have no clue how to fix it.

No matter. The trial for baseball will always be the have’s and have not’s. And that shall never die. Not as long as there are all these teams in cities that do not need, want or deserve baseball. These people who whine incessantly about how certain teams cannot compete with New York and Los Angeles and Chicago do not realize that this is not going to change. And no amount of revenue sharing and luxury tax and salary caps are going to change that.

Why is it so important that there are teams in Florida or Texas or Ohio? Less teams means better players available, leading to less money for the mediocre players. Sane salaries. Liquid franchises. Competitive balance. Trash the atavistic antitrust exemption and force these owners to deal with competition in Washington DC, Charlotte or New Jersey, all lucrative sports areas.

Simple as that.

You see what these pro “small market team” shills will fail to tell you is if everything were hunky dory these owners would not take their profits and savings and lower ticket prices or tee shirt prices or hot dog prices. Nope. They’d turn around and buy other interests somewhere and ruin that too. It’s what they do. They can’t help it. It’s like watching dramatized documentary footage of dinosaurs trying to yank their enormous frames from a tar pit, painful, but intriguing in its self-destruction.

Here’s what’s going to happen. Somewhere along the line this mess is going to end up in court. It always seems to. Then the players will win, the owners will eat crow, open the gates and make boatloads of money. Those who are sick of it will sell their franchises for a huge profit and the next group will gladly hop aboard to bitch and moan. Then the Yankees will win the World Series, and everything will be right with the world; or at least in the Bronx and for those of us up at Fort Vernon.

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The Doomed Economy

Aquarian Weekly 8/7/02 REALITY CHECK


Freshly returned from our nation’s capitol where it was far easier to locate a urine-free bus than it was to get someone to say the word recession out loud. Sure, they’ll mumble it in the pubs or back-office restrooms or cheap apartment elevators. Cabbies will mention it, or maybe someone on the radio might use it in an ad campaign, but no one culling a check in the political realm dare utter the word, least of all Republicans, who are so frightened about losing the House right now it is unnervingly palpable.

Reportedly, House leader, Dick Armey spent nearly 72 hours locked in his office with several key members of the Security and Exchange Commission struggling to produce contrary evidence to growing rumors that every major accounting firm bankrolling current Republican campaigns has a 50% crook rate. The three-day summit allegedly produced over 300 names of corporate attorneys currently under indictment for some kind of fraud.

Surprisingly, Democrat trepidations far outweigh GOP concerns. Scheduled speeches by Al Gore has rendered the party dumbfounded on how to stop this maniac from creeping from the 2000 wreckage to somehow claim defacto victory again and begin to surge the electorate back into the notion that somehow a reversal of fate means a reversal of fortune. No Dem annalist worth a damn wants Gore screwing up this free ride to election bliss when the bottom has fallen out of the Bush honeymoon.

No one wants to admit that there is a massive pink elephant sitting on the White House lawn. Yet there it is. And it is a veracious beast willing to stomp and pillage for any kind of recognition. We shall call the elephant Recession.

Actually “fear” may not be the right word to describe the atmosphere in Washington D.C. these days. The overall mood is best described with the phrase “grave doom”. And it is an Edgar Allen Poe type of doom, with ravens and corpses and women in black veils, a cocaine nightmare worthy of 19th century gothic horror. Painful whispers abound that the evil black cat is out of the bag and the big business lawyers hold all the cards and the president is some kind of cheap, knock-off of dear old dad and the crippled American dollar will be the death knell for this one-term hell.

Grave doom.

Believe me when I report that there is not a person within a ten mile radius of Capitol Hill with an ounce of responsibility willing to face anything involving the corporate lunacy that comes pouring in daily. It is a city in suspended animation. Not even the papers report anything worthy any longer. The Washington Post has been neutered by international wireless dealerships and Sam Donaldson is whipping up support for a major lawsuit against ABC News.

The emergence of something called the Corporate Fraud Task Force raised some eyebrows, but they mostly belonged to the Homeland Security dissenters who choose to view this latest government spend spree as tantamount to placing the odd band-aid on a gaping wound. Two days before the announcement a crazed executive at AOL/ Time Warner began leaking news that the partnership was bankrupt.

Meanwhile the unemployment rate is soaring, the stock market is farcical at best and the national debt continues to escalate by the millisecond. No one wants to admit that there is a massive pink elephant sitting on the White House lawn. Yet there it is. And it is a veracious beast willing to stomp and pillage for any kind of recognition.

We shall call the elephant Recession, because that is what you call it when the above-mentioned areas of economic pertinence begin to waver like a weakly constructed shack in the wind. And the elephant is a fitting metaphor for what the present Republican government has wrought on this economy.

Strike that. The federal government has very little to do with a weak and insecure economy. But that’s not what voters think, and in Washington, that is all that matters now. It is too close to Labor Day to believe that anything will change drastically enough to convince the populace that this present government has not crippled this country, nor will they have a clue how to fix it.

Forget comparing this abortion to the Clinton years when phony tech stocks and blathering foreign business men with a cadre of hookers and pound of grade A smack could earn an evening in the Lincoln bedroom with Bobby De Niro and Babs Streisand to help toast the best economy in the history of this republic. Yeah, that doesn’t count, because it was Newt Gingrich and the Republican congress of ’94 that saved the decade. Although that bullshit doesn’t hold water anymore, because we still have a Republican congress and another fucking Bush dingus on Pennsylvania Avenue and, guess what, junior? We have another recession.

Not to worry, because no one is calling it that. Not Allen Greenspan or Paul O’Neill. No way. Not them. The Secretary of Treasury makes an appearance on national television to report that all is well, while his colleagues in the administration call him names in an Alexandria weekly.

Last week, Bush’s economic advisor, Lawrence Lindsey was seen twice trashing O’Neill on the campus of GW University. The hilarious series of outbursts bore the oft-quoted phrases “Lost in a sea of Pollyanna” and “Hasn’t been to Wall Street since 1989”. This prompted Glenn Hubbard, Bush’s big gun on the Council of Economic Advisers to call Newsweek with a statement on Lindsey they still refuse to run because “It borders on slander.”

The minute Congress passed the Corporate Responsibility bill, following a barrage of calls to the White House derisively commenting on Bush’s veiled attempt at a speech to bolster confidence in the trade market, Hubbard was seen stumbling out of a private men’s club in Logan Circle stammering something about having been cursed by a jade monkey.

To ward off the evil spirit of Herbert Hoover, the administration announced an economic forum to be hosted by the president in mid-August. Unfortunately the location will be Waco, Texas, a place that has enough unstable spirits to fill a Dickens novel twice over.

History is important to the large players inside the Beltway. This is why the panic strikes deep across party lines.

Aside from his rousing series of “evil doers” speeches in the wake of 9/11, Bush has had about as inauspicious first two years as his predecessor, who managed to swing wide the doors of the Republican Revolution. And no one in the party wants to even broach the way George Bush sr. ignored the signs of a sagging economy basking in the glory of his gaudy Desert Storm popularity numbers.

Just because the guys in the expensive suits refuse to address this wounded economy with the word recession, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. One thing that does exist is the very real possibility that whatever it’s called could effectively murder two Bush presidencies.


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Inside the Bush Administration

Aquarian Weekly 7/24/02 REALITY CHECK


Hazy and buzzed, a pertinent GOP insider we like to call Georgetown continues to unload his guts about a variant of subjects to an equally soused columnist.

jc: So, correct me if I’m drifting here, but what you are saying is the Bush Administration, while not directly linked to any current corporate malfeasance, is suffering the political consequences purely by association.

GT: That would be correct.

jc: Constituency meltdown.

GT: Something like that.

jc: Who’s worried and how much?

GT: There have been discussions, certainly for Bush to get out there and say something. He’s treated this thing like the Middle East crisis, but this one hits too close to home. (NOTE: A few days later the president in fact did make a speech deriding the current climate of bad business, prompting critics and supporters to wonder how much of it was politically motivated and the approaching mid-term elections)

jc: What about Chaney and these crazy rumors about Arthur Anderson and the oil stuff?

GT: Listen, Chaney is untouchable right now. There are a lot of us who would go to bat for him over Bush. I think many conservatives in this town are having the same problems with Junior as they had with Senior. There is a survival chip in the Bush genes that rub the hardliners the wrong way.

The money flooded into defense since 9/11 is staggering. I cannot recall being here during a time, and this does not include Reagan mind you, but I cannot recall the type of major league funds for a war effort being juggled around the federal government like these.

jc: What about you? Where do you stand on Bush’s conservative record?

GT: I think I’ve mentioned the inordinate amount of funds wasted on this ambiguous Homeland Security thing. And I’m not sure the money spent on the military right now is founded. I believe…and again, you’re just asking me, right?

jc: Right.

GT: Well, the vouchers thing was a mess. And there seems to be cracks in the tax cut support on Capitol Hill right now. The money flooded into defense since 9/11 is staggering. I cannot recall being here during a time, and this does not include Reagan mind you, but I cannot recall the type of major league funds for a war effort being juggled around the federal government like these. And this incessant wrangling over disclosure. I have yet to see one of these cable news networks get a fucking story right when it goes down. And they want Rumsfeld to brief them on where operations in Afghanistan are? Sure, right.

jc: Is Rumsfeld still running this thing?

GT: Another dumb ass reporter heard from. I read that garbage you wrote about Rumsfeld being clinically insane and my somehow lauding it. That was bullshit journalism.

jc: You didn’t leave me that message about his wild-eyed performance on Meet The Press last spring?

GT: Out of context. I was referring to his grit in the face of ridiculous assertions that we are mired in Afghanistan. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This man has his finger in the dam. You think this thing is being orchestrated from Pennsylvania Avenue?

jc: It’s the CIA’s puppy now?

GT: Afghanistan or the whole thing?

jc: Afghanistan.

GT: Yes.

jc: And the whole thing?

GT: They’re too busy negotiating with the anti-Hussein factions in Irag.

jc: The White House is preoccupied with Iraq completely?

GT: The roll call is as follows. Write this down, because I’m not repeating it. One: the mid-term campaigns. They’re definitely worried about the Senate. Two: This bullshit with Worldcom finishing up quickly, and with very little discernable press. And by that I mean understandable by the American people. Remember, the frustration of selling Whitewater is that no one could figure out what the fuck it was all about. That’s why Starr went full force on Lewinsky, and…fuck it. I’m off the path. Finally, three is the goddamn stock market and four is Iraq.

jc: What about Israel?

GT: I can tell you that this government, as presently constituted, will not support a unilateral negotiation with the Palestinians while Arafat is in charge.

c: Word I get is he’s not in charge now.

GT: You answered your own question. The same people who managed 9/11 bankroll Hammas. They run the deal over there. We’ve known that for some time.

jc: What about all this money we have wrapped up in the Israeli Defense Force?

GT: Those people have to defend their nation.

jc: How much can you tell me about support for ousting Hussein.

GT: It’s big on our end. The Pentagon already had ten or twelve plans nixed and reworked. That’s not the issue.

jc: The surrounding Arab states have always been the issue. That’s why he’s still there in the first place. God, I am so tired of talking about this.

GT: Why did you bring it up?

jc: I need to know about the real deal. Do they plan on going through with a full-scale attack with troops and the whole bit or keep driving at a coup based on unrest.

GT: The latter. Half, no, more than half of the Iraqi populace is truly afraid of Hussein now. The intelligence we get daily is this maniac is willing to fry the whole desert for a whiz bang finish. I think I’ve told you before, the CIA has always been certain that if Hussein thought he was fucked, he would detonate everything he’s got.

jc: Which is…?

GT: The mother load, if our reports are somewhat in the ballpark. I don’t know anything for sure, and I know you’re taping this, so let’s just say it is not good.

jc: How much does Daschle want the presidency?

GT: Jesus, what a fucking suck-ass, dried out old liberal hump this guy is. He does not give a flying fuck about national security, the stock market plummeting, corporate distrust or anything but jacking up these talk shows to bash the cause. It’s fucking criminal. I’ll not answer another question about Tom Daschle. He’s a political dead man. I think you know I believe they’ll run Kerry up the flagpole and lose.

jc: What do you hear about Gore?

GT: Your boy’s going to petition.

jc: Petition?

GT: Al Gore, the sitting vice president for the administration that lorded over the best non-war economy in the history of this republic, who couldn’t even win his own state and went out in a whining blaze of shame by crying foul, is begging for a sniff. They call it taking the temperature of the party.

jc: He’s auditioning for the party?

GT: Just like Nixon in ’68.

jc: The parallels continue to be uncanny. So, he’s a dead man too?

GT: If I’m not mistaken, it was an open casket funeral two autumns ago.

jc: Are you guys retaining congressional power this November?

GT: Unless something dramatic happens with this economy by mid-September, then no. Of course Bush could pull out the violins and get everyone teary for a 9/11-anniversary tribute to America’s resolve. We can ride that into the sunset.

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