First of all, a toast to the author Gavin Lambert, who died Monday; for the many of you who don't recognize the name, he was a Hollywood critic, screenwriter and biographer who wrote two of most wonderfully British and cutting novel about Los Angeles, Inside Daisy Clover (1963) and The Slide Area (1959). I saw him speak last year at a screening for his film adaptation of "Inside Daisy Clover" (appropriately starring a young Natalie Wood) and his dry wit will be sorely missed. Here's a brief biography:
After my recent trip up to the Bay Area during 4 July, I realized a few things about modern California...it's CROWDED, for one. I've made the Oakland - Los Angeles run many times, including being a passenger during a record-breaking 4½ hour crossing (for you Barringtonians, it was Paul driving his tiny Honda Civic, with me, Megan Howard and Katherine Aldcroft as witnesses), which averages out to about 90 miles per hour, or 150 kph...not super-fast, but without stopping! Such a drive in daylight would be impossible now; I've taken to driving overnight, especially during holidays, to avoid the traffic. This time I did something unprecedented and stopped at a motel halfway up (Harris Ranch Travelodge), which frankly was a shithole full of redneck speedfreaks and fat suburbanites, half in the motel and half sleeping in cars in the parking lot. I spent $55 to use a room for 4 hours, which wasn't too bad, got a little rest in a real bed, a shower, and some grainy Christian Central Valley TV, but MAN were there a lot of people running around at 3 AM! Too many goddamn people in California, and too much methamphetamine.
That said, California is also very EMPTY....if you know where to look. Again for the first time, I took the 166 crossover on the way home. There are several highways crossing the state from west to east, between the 1 (Coast Highway), the 101 (sorta Coast Highway) and Interstate 5 (right up the hot, hot, sticky middle of the state.) All of them are two-lane blood alleys...the most famous being Highway 46, where James Dean was killed (between San Simeon and Bakersfield) and Highway 152 (between Santa Cruz and Los Baños, through haunted Pacheco Pass.) Last year I took Highway 25 for the first time, a fantastic road crossing through hidden mountain ranges (and most famous from Marlon Brando's biker movie, "The Wild One") south of Salinas. So this year I tried out 166, which follows the Cuyama River up from Santa Maria to the Grapevine (Tejon Pass), essentially parallel to the 101 through Santa Barbara but on the north side of the mountains. Then 166 drops down towards Bakersfield and the base of the Grapevine, while I took an even smaller, unnumbered highway, Cerro Noroeste, which climbs the mountain ridge and emerges at the top of the Grapevine in Frazier Park.
I'm not recommending this route, unless you have time to kill...it probably added at least an hour to my trip home. But if you like EMPTINESS...this route is well over 100 miles, and passes through exactly FOUR towns! There are only a few ranches between Santa Maria and the twin towns of Cuyama and New Cuyama; then the road between Cuyama and the mountain resorts of Pine Mountain and Frazier Park is devoid of human life. Cerro Noroeste itself is one of the most amazing roads I've ever driven on, and once upon it you recognize it from car commercials; it snakes along the mountain ridges, on one side plunging to the floor of the Central Valley, the rocks twisted and crushed by the unrelenting force of the San Andreas Fault, while on the other side a succession of seven mountain ridges (I pulled over to count them) marches south to the ocean at Santa Barbara and Ventura, each ridge growing hazier with distance and pollution. It is a magnificent sight. Some of you might be familiar with Highway 33, which goes from Ventura to Ojai; a popular biker road, it runs straight north into this rocky habitat of the California Condor, and emerges at 166 just a few miles from the end of Cerro Noroeste. It branches off north from 166 parallel to Interstate 5, and in fact was the old road up the Central Valley...and also a very viable alternative when Interstate 5 is nuts.
By now you are all probably wondering what the hell I am talking about. Here's a map:
Cerro Noroeste is barely visible on this map...it is the small, broken-appearing road between Frazier Park and Cuyama. But what an epic road...right up there in my book with the Grande Corniche above Monaco and the gravel road into Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
But enough about driving...as most of you know by now, our Fearless Leader has selected the replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. The guy is John G. Roberts, and frankly he's a lot more bland than I was anticipating, but he's still a scumbag:
Little known facts: Roberts advised George W. Bush during the Florida recount crisis of 2000; he's a member of the conservative Federalist Society and the American Law Institute; and yeah, he said this about the right of women in this 21st century nation to terminate a pregnancy:
- "We continue to believe that [Roe v. Wade] was wrongly decided and should be overruled. As more fully explained in our briefs, filed as amicus curiae, in Hodgson v. Minnesota, 110 S. Ct. 2926 (1990); Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 109 S. Ct. 3040 (1989); Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 476 U.S. 747 (1986); and City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 462 U.S. 416 (1983), the Court's conclusions in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion and that government has no compelling interest in protecting prenatal human life throughout pregnancy find no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution." 
"NPR : O'Connor Taking Swing Vote Into Retirement"
I'm a Catholic myself, but I see that onerous label in a friendlier light, i.e.; that I maintain and uphold the Holy Roman Empire, which is of course merely the genetic duty of all us brutal, conquering Europeans. As for all that homophobic, anti-women, anti-sex, anti-everything doctrinaire bullshit, well, that's modern Catholicism, and even the Irish have given up on that. Let's call it Third World Catholicism, since I pretty much feel America is the capital of the Third World, and get it over with. The Pope likes his vacations, and as far as I'm concerned, he can take a long one.
In case I sound snippy, it's because I saw Christopher Hitchens interviewed last night, and even though he sounded a little drunk, I still agreed with more than I thought I would.
Still, I won't bring the club down THAT hard on my enemy. I must follow the true path of "don't do unto me as I wouldn't want to do unto you", as best enunciated by the author of Blowback (and the inventor of that word), Mr. Chalmers Johnson:
The Smash of Civilizations
By Chalmers Johnson
Poor George W. Bush. Is that the pitter-patter of nervous feet I hear? Is our bonehead president starting to get a little gun-shy?
Bush Backs Away from Recess Appointment of Bolton
By Demetri Sevastopulo and Caroline Daniel
The Financial Times
Don't bet on it...these people like to work in the dark, and nothing that you or I would find fun:
Bolton May Accept Recess Appointment
By Charles Babington and Dafna Linzer
The Washington Post
Meanwhile, our US Senate is on the job:
Senators fight hidden sex in 'Grand Theft Auto'
While Americans like photographer Spencer Tunick get their best work done overseas:
British city sheds clothes for US artist's latest 'nude installation' - Yahoo! News
It's a secret, it's a secret! Everything must be done in the shadows. Forget getting a few thousand people to pose nude here in a public street, you can get hammered (or ice-picked as the case may be) just for riding a bike instead of using a large automobile. It's a secret!
Well, it ain't a secret for long (thanks, birthday girl Shirley):
CNN.com - Trotsky murder weapon may have been found - Jul 11, 2005*
And in true web tradition, shall we reveal all to the Internet? (thanks, Dr. Brad)
Or shall we just do it on the telephone, in the dark, hiding in the shadows?
MSNBC Analyst Says Cooper Documents Reveal Karl Rove as Source in Plame Case
Editor & Publisher
Don't talk about it, TRAITOR, because it is a SECRET:
Increase in the Number of Documents Classified by the Government
By Scott Shane
The New York Times
You don't have any secrets from THEM, of course:
Permanent Patriot Act Proposed
By Dan Eggen
The Washington Post
US Retains Control of Web, Worrying Foreign Critics
By Matt Moore
Not so, again, overseas. It's not a secret! It's not a secret!
New Zealand man fined for removing condom during sex
Let out the truth!
Revisit the UFO phenomena of the 1950's & 60's in the Hi-Desert of California
Friday, September 2nd - Sunday, September 4th, 2005
(programs conducted at Institute of Mentalphysics and the Integratron)
I like the idea that, when I put down roots in the Old World, there won't be so many goddamn secrets:
Europe needs to start thinking locally
International Herald Tribune
The real crisis of the European Union is not about the constitution or the budget. It is a crisis of ideas.
Even the dirty secrets ain't secrets:
The Dutch-Muslim Culture War
By Deborah Scroggins
I mean, the truth is plain as could be, right?
Eat French food, live longer: Chirac
But seriously, as Christopher Hitchens and genetics have taught me, there is not too many differences between the US and Europe...or is there?
Europe in the Mirror of the United States
By Nicolas Barré
One huge difference: The "God" secret is out of the bag.
European Public Opinion Still Believes in Scientific Progress
By Michel Claessens
In America, we believe in science the old fashioned way, with rigorous experimentation:
Eating Disorder Expert Collapses at Market After Inhaling Nitrous Oxide
PS This is the same woman who went around in a "fat suit" to demonstrate how overweight people are discriminated against. As an overweight person who, yes, has also sucked the laughing gas from a can of whipped cream (and a few other places) I say, right on, sister.
They used to respect science here in America (PS A good site for kids!):
This website about ancient astronomy features exhibitions on Chaco Canyon (New Mexico) and Chichén Itzá, the ancient Mayan city that was located in the Yucatán Peninsula area of Mexico. Features information and activities on seasons, alignments, petroglyphs, Mayan mythology, the Mayan calendar, and related topics. Includes a teacher's guide. From the Exploratorium.
Maybe beating on a dead horse will eventually produce some results (after we're all under water, glug glug); or it is STILL a secret?
Bush Admits to Role of Humans in Global Warming
By Caroline Daniel and Fiona Harvey
That's about time, eh? Because there's no time like the present:
Future Climate Could be Hotter Than Thought - Study
By Patricia Reaney
Data Reveals Sea Levels Have Risen More Than 1 Inch in Last Decade
By Robert S. Boyd
Global Warming to Wreck Mediterranean "Paradise" - WWF
By Robin Pomeroy
To wrap up, the title of this SCREED refers to a favorite joke of mine, told by Nikita Khrushchev and related by Jack Kennedy at a campaign speech on 16 September 1960 (Peg Entwistle Day!)
"I know something about Mr. Khrushchev, whom I met a year ago in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and I know something about the nature and history of his country which I visited in 1939. Mr. Khrushchev himself, it is said, told the story a few years ago about the Russian who began to run through the Kremlin, shouting, "Khrushchev is a fool! Khrushchev is a fool!" He was sentenced, the Premier said, to 23 years in prison, "3 for insulting the party secretary, and 20 for revealing a state secret.""
Finally, proof that there is no such thing, perhaps, as an "unsolvable problem":
But there are some real posers:
Roaches Dressed Up for 'Hall of Fame'
Average British woman spends 54,000 dollars on shoes during lifetime
Shoe up, and vive le screed!