Hot Air: Sunday School


  • Bill Clinton’s writing a novel with literary industrialist James Patterson. And Showtime has already copped the rights for production on the small screen. The advances for Bill are said to be in the tens of millions. Just imagine how the Clinton-haters are going to howl when this becomes more widely known.

    Library of Congress Collection

  • Pocket-sized paperbacks really took off in this holy land after the US Army issued some 123 million “flat, wide and very pocketable” books to soldiers in all theaters of war (and occupation) from 1943 through 1947. Titles ranged from The Great Gatsby to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Katerhine Anne Porter’s Selected Stories. Of course, paperbacks already were hot stuff in England after Penguin started issuing classic titles in theretofore sniffed-at pocket editions in 1935.
  • And don’t think Barack and Michelle Obama will be immune from charges of cashing in on the O. presidency. Rumor has it that he and she are going to pocket more than $60 million in advance money for their separate recollections of the White House years.
  • It is as likely that Islamic terrorists will kill you, Mr. & Mrs. America, as it is for you to be killed and eaten by sharks.

Hard To Figure

I’ve been to plenty of fast food joints in my day. I’ve enjoyed greasy tacos at Jack in the Box, Big Macs, White Castle sliders by the score, and, once, I even drove through a Pizza Hut (thank god my mother’s dead already, otherwise she’d collapse in a lifeless heap upon reading this admission — oh, and I didn’t at all enjoy the experience, so there’s that).

One place I’ve never visited to is Hardee’s. In fact, I have no idea what the joint even sells. I have a notion it is roast beef sandwiches but, then again, that’s Arby’s, right?

Concert Fiasco

The Ramones and Iggy Pop are pretty much tied for the act I’ve seen live most often. That’s mainly because they appeared together so frequently in Chi. back in the late 1970s.

So, one Saturday night I went to the fabled Aragon Ballroom for an Iggy/Ramones show. There was a third act, perhaps the worst example of music promotion I’ve ever heard of. The Ramones opened and Iggy was the headliner. But sandwiched between them was Leslie West.

Remember Leslie West? He was the rotund, virtuoso guitarist whose earlier band Mountain had scored a minor hit with “Mississippi Queen.” In a lot of ways, West represented everything that punk rockers despised, up to and including his girth.

In any case, West was introduced and came onstage to a deafening chorus of boos. He and his back-up band played a few songs and then someone came out and grabbed the mic to announce it was West’s birthday. A cake was rolled out and the crowd’s abuse level rose to 11. A few bottles hit the stage. I also recall seeing liquids flying toward the proscenium and I shudder to think what they were.

West & mates wisely decide to wrap things up snappily and then beat a retreat.

The anti-glamour glamour (you read that right) of punk fizzled for me at that moment.


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I just read that the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick team did not interview either Daniel Ellsberg or Henry Kissinger for their history of one of America’s four mortal sins now running on PBS.

That pretty much breaks it for me.

The Writer’s Lot?

The author of the book upon which the film noir, Nightmare Alley, was based killed himself in a Times Square hotel room at the age of 53. Next to him, acc’d’g to the indispensable movie site, Noir of the Week, was his business card. It read:

No address

No Phone


No Business

No Money

Eee-yikes! I mean, honestly, that’s the  nightmare every single person who’s ever applied pen to paper or clacked a keyboard in hopes of earning a living has sweated through.


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