Traduced by My First Love
My first love—really, a schoolboy crush—was with Laura Sowinski in the Third Grade at Saint Henry School in Cleveland. She was a pretty little girl with some artistic talent. For some reason, I thought she was Swiss, because Sowinski sort of sounded like “Swiss.” Hey, I was only eight years old. What did I know? Now I would think she was Polish, which was more likely for the neighborhood in which I had lived.
Of course, I had hoped that my feelings for her were reciprocated, though I don’t know how she knew what I felt for her, because I never communicated it.
The rupture—and yes, there was a rupture—came when I was sick at home for a few days. In the Catholic school system of Cleveland in those days, there were often days off with little advance notice. When I got better from my cold or whatever it was, I dutifully walked to school the next day. (In those days, we walked to and from school.) To my surprise, the school building was all locked up. I turned around and returned home.
My unexpected free day came to an end the next day, so I trudged to school the next day. Being the age I was, I told everyone I showed up to school on a free day. In a week or two, when the next dittoed edition of the St. Henry Golden Knights news sheet came out, the whole last page was a drawing by none other than Laura Sowinski of me walking up to the school when it was closed. The caption read “James Paris Going to School on a Free Day.”
I thereupon turned several shades of vermilion and thought of my great love as wrecked on the rocks. I don’t think I ever spoke to Laura again. Not that I had ever spoken to her before.
Wonderland of U.S. Flags
As your reporter for this month’s party conventions, I have been very remiss. To be exact, I have not even watched a minute of either convention. Why would I want to? What does it matter what they say, especially when there is such a disconnect between what they say and what they do. I did collect a number of impressions, however, mostly from the Internet.
First of all, politicians sure love the Stars and Stripes. Many of them sport flag lapel pins to boot. I don’t even own an American flag, which I guess proves that I am not a very patriotic individual. But then, as Dr. Samuel Johnson said in 1775, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” And I’m no scoundrel, at least not THAT type of scoundrel.
I am surprised that Trump found so many people to say nice things about him. He must have something on them.
Does the Republican party even exist any more? Right now it’s an agglomeration of people who:
- Hate the fact that there is a government over and above a transfer of moneys to the wealthy
- Are drawn to absolute power
- Follow a political platform that can be expressed simply as, “I Got Mine!”
- Are frightened of having the President say to the, “You’re fired!”
- Hate libtards and hoity-toity coastal elites
As a matter of fact, even the Democratic party doesn’t seem to exist except as an Anti-Trump party. They used to solve problems; now they just say that they can and will solve problems. I don’t know. It seems that no one cares for poor people any more.
The ultimate winner is the coronavirus, which seems to have perplexed everybody except the Republicans, who just ignore it. Didn’t it go away in April?
Look for It the Day Before Election Day!
Ever since that grim day in November 1916 as I twisted and turned in a hotel room in Quito, Ecuador, I have come to the conclusion that something is not right with the universe. I am reminded of Casca’s words in Act I Scene iii of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar:
A common slave—you know him well by sight—
Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn
Like twenty torches join’d, and yet his hand,
Not sensible of fire, remain’d unscorch’d.
Besides—I ha’ not since put up my sword–
Against the Capitol I met a lion,
Who glared upon me, and went surly by,
Without annoying me: and there were drawn
Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women,
Transformed with their fear; who swore they saw
Men all in fire walk up and down the streets.
And yesterday the bird of night did sit
Even at noon-day upon the market-place,
Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies
Do so conjointly meet, let not men say
’These are their reasons; they are natural;’
For, I believe, they are portentous things
Unto the climate that they point upon.
What I am referring to is the news that an asteroid might strike the earth the day before the November 3 “fraudulent” election that will confirm Donald J. Trump in his role as dictator for life.
According to CNN, the asteroid is just a shade over 6 feet—the size of our presidential pretender. I cannot help but think that it will land in such a way as to set fire to our great leader’s impressive bouffant hair-do, and possibly burn him to a cinder in his size 12 shoes. If that happened, it would surely show that there is some justice in the universe.
There Is a Late Roman Empire Feeling in the Air
VIGGO: What happened, John? We were professionals.
JOHN WICK: Do I look civilized to you?
—John Wick Chapter 1
I get a very bad feeling about what is happening to our country right now. We have a president who is actively dismantling our country, even to the extent of deliberately destroying the mail system that was set up by our first Postmaster-General, Benjamin Franklin, just because he thinks it would stop mail-in balloting. (It would also destroy billions, possibly trillions of dollars worth of commerce.)
It is as if we are living in the days of the late Roman Empire as depicted by such historians as Ammianus Marcellinus and Gregory of Tours. Our “Emperor” is little better than Elagabalus AD 204-222). According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia:
It did not take long for his family, as well as others throughout the empire, to realize that Elagabalus was completely unsuited for the imperial title, spending more time dancing around the altar of the temple and purchasing gold chamber pots and exotic foods than attending to the matters of the empire. Uprisings within the army occurred throughout the provinces, and there was even a failed attempt to replace him on the throne.
The whole world is weakened by the coronavirus outbreak, else our weak leadership would invite attempts by other countries or stateless terrorist groups to wreak havoc. The only reason a coup d’état has not been attempted is that the Democrats are afraid of the gun-toting rednecks. No worries there, those cowardly mofos are actually more likely to shoot their dicks off than organize any real resistance. In any case, if Trump loses the election—if there is an election—we just have to be prepared to escort him and his family someplace where they can’t do any harm. Perhaps Somalia.
Oh Great, That’s All We Needed!
If our current president were to get his face of Mount Rushmore, as he has urged, it would be tantamount to painting over the Sistine Chapel with a convocation of demons.
It is the opinion of most right-thinking Americans that Trump deserves no more than a footnote in the history books, similar to the contribution of Aaron Burr (who actually made it to the vice presidency in Thomas Jefferson’s first term) and Benedict Arnold and perhaps the fictional Man Without a Country. Will there be a Trump presidential library? (If there were, it would consist mostly of Tweets and executive statements of dubious legality.) When George W. Bush was in office, I mused that his Prezidenchul Lie-Berry wouldn’t amount to much. Trump’s would be even more laughable.
Think about it: What would be the legacy of Trump? Once you get past the corruption, the braggadocio, the conspiracy theories, and the outright lies, there wouldn’t be much else left. So sad.
When the Emperor Nero was forced to commit suicide by his enemies, he is said by Suetonius to have exclaimed “Oh what an artist dies in me!” I cannot help but think that sounds like our man in Washington, or is it Mar-a-Lago?
Comrades Brezhnev and Nixon: За здоровье!
Under the rule of Hero of the White Race Donald Jehoshaphat Trump, it is suspiciously reminiscent of the bad old days of the Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union. Both rulers are mentally decrepit, yet outwardly pugnacious. To come up to the Brezhnev standard, our Presidente is now using battlefield language. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times:
Donald Trump has described himself as a “wartime president” during the coronavirus crisis, and now he seems to have found his army as he pushes the country to reopen despite the risks.
In recent days, he’s begun describing citizens as “warriors” in the battle against the pandemic and suggested some of those fighters might have to die if that will help boost the economy.
“Will some people be affected? Yes,” he said on a trip to Arizona this week, his first outside of the Washington area in nearly two months. “Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.”
Notice the two medals that Brezhnev is sporting. One of them signifies that he is a Hero of the Soviet Union:
Hero of the Soviet Union Medal
Perhaps Trump needs to send us—in addition to those putative $1,200 checks—a medal signifying that we are Heroes of the Chinese Virus War.
I for one do not wish to be a “hero” or “warrior” as Trump defines it. That could only mean in Trumpspeak that we are losers. It is preferable to the Donald that all the “heroes” and “warriors” die nobly so that he could look good at our collective obsequies.
Actually, Stupidity Renders One Particularly Susceptible
Yesterday as I went food shopping at Ralph’s Supermarket, I noticed several shopping carts with multiple packs of toilet tissue. Typically, I could not resist commenting aloud, “I didn’t know there were so many asswipes in Santa Monica!” (Strictly speaking, that isn’t true: I consider the City of Santa Monica to be densely populated with asswipes, but that’s another story altogether.)
Actually, the panicked grocery shoppers of Santa Monica are part of a confusing global trend. Some of the funniest toilet paper memes are from Australia and other countries.
Please explain to me why toilet paper is effective in preventing COVID-19. Unless, perhaps it is used in this way:
The Curse of the Mummies?
And it’s not just toilet paper. There’s a run on liquid soaps and hand cleaning solutions. That must mean that I’m particularly susceptible: I don’t like washing my hands with liquids, preferring instead a good bar of soap. And yet, there doesn’t seem to be a run on soap bars. Curiouser and curiouser.
Well, It Is Sort of Ring-Shaped
Now We Know What Our President Would Read (If He Could Read)
I strongly suspect that this comic is the source for our Presidente’s notion of a “Space Force” to protect us from Inter-Galactic Baddies. Since I happen to know that he can’t read, the source must have been one of his staff, perhaps Mike Pence, who has been looking quite spacey lately—especially since the scuttlebutt is that our next Vice-Presidente may be Ivanka. (She would look particularly good in a space suit, to match the spaciness of her usual facial expression.)
Where Is the “Mission Accomplished” Sign?
Some Other Trump Prospects After Greenland
Our Presidente clearly wants to add to his real estate empire. If he buys Greenland, will it be called Trumpland? Without the ice, wouldn’t it be too barren for him. I have some other ideas for prospective purchases to be added to the burgeoning Trump Empire.
Oz’s Emerald City is a natural, but only if the Golden one can have gold plumbing fixtures installed. It’s a natural property for someone who likes to distract tin men, scarecrows, lions, and little girls by pretending to be something other than what he is, and more powerful.
Duckburg Would Be Even Better to Replenish Funds Lost in Bankruptcies
Scrooge McDuck’s Duckburg would be a much-needed acquisition to allow the Trump to dive in fresh and rather substantial cash reserves which, at present, he doesn’t have. He can replace Donald and his pesky nephews with Jared, Don Jr, and Eric. I’m sure he can find funny names for them. He’s rather good at that.
Pleasure Island from Pinocchio Would Be a Natural Acquisition
A man who likes to grab women by their lady parts would love Pleasure Island. All he has to do is add his name. What do you think of Trump Pleasure Island? It’s too bad that Jeffrey Epstein isn’t around any more to help him populate it with fun subservient underage girls who share his lack of moral compass.
Cover of a French Edition of the Voyage
Well, not exactly. But he is known to have drunk approximately fifty cups of Java each day. No doubt that helped inspire him to write this hilarious spoof of voyages to exotic locales. It is not until the last couple of pages that Honoré de Balzac writes:
In truth, soon I will be losing no time in taking the stagecoach once again, travelling back to Paris across the fields of Touraine and Poitou that I thought I should never see again. During my first days back in Paris I had a lot of trouble persuading myself that I had not indeed been to Java, so much had that traveller [M. Grand-Besançon] struck my imagination with his tales.
So in the end it is a delightful hoax. Balzac tells a series of tall tales redolent of earlier (unsubstantiatable) journeys full of tall tales about the flora, fauna, and women of the Far East. Not all of it consists of tall tales, such as this realistic warning to travelers to be alert at all times:
Go inside a shop selling precious cloths; bargain, buy some cashmere or a length of tamava … if you turn your back for a moment while the merchant is rolling up your purchase on the counter, wrapping it and tying it with string, the package flies to the back of the shop and is replaced by another containing inferior goods, that an apprentice has been preparing in the corner of the shop to look exactly like the one you were buying. With no explanation for this miraculous metamorphosis, you return to the shop furious at having been duped by the Chinese everybody had warned you about; but his only response is to laugh at you.
I have read virtually all of Balzac as translated into English, but this is by far the funniest of his works. An English edition entitled My Journey from Paris to Java (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2010) is available.