Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pynchon Book/Obama Gates and Crowley Playing the Dozens

Lots of News- First of all, Pynchon's "Inherent Vice",Penguin $27.95, to be published August 4, really is a TRP "Beach read". It's a light psychedelic 60's LA doper noir story punctuated by a lot of raucous humor,surfing lore and with more than a few brilliant insights into our crazed culture, as it slipped form the activist 60's into the retrenched 70's. A lot of fun and probably the most "accessible"book ever written by a modern master.You're not likely to forget Doc Sportello as another classic P.I. in the museum of notable literary detectives.
I went back to Gravity's Rainbow after finishing "Against the Day" which I adored, and found it to be every bit the classic as I had when I first, on the 7th try, learned to read it with joy.
Inherent Vice is packed with sex, nefarious police goings-on and enough marijuana smoke that one can almost get a contact high from its pages.It recaptures Pynchon's spirit of resistance against the system, his love for "excluded middles" and his wisdom that some things are just inherent vice, a maritime term for unisurable risks, or glistening doubt, take your pick.The book is studded with the usual Pynchonalia of weird named characters, and tons of pop culture references to surf bands and John Garfield movies, among other waystations of our wacky culture. It's a quick read indeed that proves that Pynchon is the hippest post- 70 dude around.This is a real w--i--p--e--o--u--t!For shizzle.

Before we talk of Nobel Prize winner JMG LeCLezio's brilliant"Desert" ($25.95) to be published next week from David Godine(Long may he keep the faith)- here is a little aside about the recent Obama- Gates arrest controversy.

Obama Gates and Crowley: Playing the Dozens-C 2009
The raging controversy over the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates by Cambridge Mass police after “breaking and entering “ his own home, followed by the media termed "unfortunate comment" of Pres Obama about stupid actions of police,has shaken the nation. The story is punctuated in part by a claim, denied by Gates, that when Officer Crowley asked him to discuss things outside , the Professor replied, I’ll talk to your mama outside.”
The “your mama” reference brings back “the Dozens”, the national children’s insult games, which include a litany of “Your mama ‘ is so stupid or so fat or so whatever that….(Here we attach the insult) Well maybe, if Gates and Crowley are going to accept the invitation to go to the White House this week, they could settle the affair by playing the dozens then and there.
Like this:
Crowley- Your mama so stupid she thinks Brittany Spears is a UK cavalry regiment.
Gates: Your mama is so dumb she believes a charge to the “Jewry” is a tax on temples.
Crowley:Your mama think waterboarding an Olympic sport
Gates:Your mama says Minni-sota is found in a vending machine.
Crowley:Your mama say Helmand, Afghanistan is where people get killed for mayonnaise.
Gates: Your mama says police “brew” tality is the precinct beer bill.
It’s only a short distance of course before they both turn on the President with…..
Gates and Crowley to Obama: Your mama think Yes We Can” is a sardine company slogan…..
But isn’t this is much better way of ending a dispute,a children’s game followed of course by a gourmet meal and a walk in the Rose garden, and so appropriate for a nation, which is so childish as to believe it can actually win wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at the same time it transacts the nation's real business of heading off a depression , bailing out the banks and establishing national health care.

ps- For those who want to read more on the dozens,pick up the books by Bruce Jackson or trace the world-wide history of children's insult games in the once and perhaps still published Maledicta -the Journal of Vituperative Expression compiled by university scholar Reinhold Aman- He has a website but the resource material is best found in that discredited institution, the public library.

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