Hot Air: The Myth And The Man

Portrait Of A President As A Young God

That big new Obama coffee table book? Don’t bother going to your friendly neighborhood bookstore if you’re jonesing for it. It’s sold out everywhere. Distributors have back orders in for tens of thousands of copies of Obama: An Intimate Portrait and it’s doubtful the publisher, Little Brown, can deliver by Xmas day.

Amazon, though, has some listings posted by secondary vendors — you know, the kinds of folks who stockpile books in their basements in the hope that just such a thing might occur. They make a bet, as it were, that a certain title will sell out, putting them, in the words of James Thurber, Red Barber and the entire population of the ante- and post-bellum South, in the catbird seat. Fortunately, those vendors are listing the book at just about the suggested retail price, $50.

In any case, the popularity of the book is a testament to the state of mourning scads of us have been  suffering through in this holy land since November 8, 2016. As long as President Gag remains in office, the memory and myth of Obama will grow to the point where he’ll be remembered as the messianic figure who single-handedly wiped the nation clean of poverty, want, illness, greed and overall general asshole-ishness.

People, it has been said, are funny.

The Alimentary Terminal

With Thanks To Kurt Vonnegut.

That said, the Obama presidency certainly didn’t transform America into an edenic hyper-evolved civilization but, truth be told, there was indeed a marked dearth of asshole-ishness in Washington DC — at least in the White House and around the offices, departments, agencies, and bureaus that the president controls — for a good eight years.

When all is said and done, the Li’l Duce years will be remembered as the Asshole Era.

Poetic Justice

Matejka

Congrats to Indiana University professor Adrian Matejka on being named the state’s Poet Laureate.

I’m having the author of Map to the Stars, The Big Smoke, Mixology, and The Devil’s Garden in the studio tomorrow afternoon for a taping of Big Talk.

I’ll be making a major announcement about Big Talk any day now. A hint: You’ll be getting a lot more of the show beginning the week after New Year’s Day. Stay tuned here and on WFHB, 91.3 FM.

The Planet’s Best Pizza

And how ’bout that United Nations? The UN’s agency in charge of recognizing and preserving the world’s educational, scientific, and cultural stuff has declared the 3000 or so pizza makers (pizzaiuoli) of Naples, Italy an example of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The UNESCO honor has turned the city, located on the lower shin of the Italian boot, into a 24-hour self-congratulatory party zone these days. Make no mistake — when I get to Italy (sooner, it is to be hoped, rather than later) Naples’ll be the first city I visit there.

A Typical Neapolitan Pizza.

Next time I annihilate a Giordano’s, Ricobene’s, Gino’s East, Uno’s, or my very own made-from scratch pie, I’ll give a nod to good old Napoli.

BTW: Naples was the locus of Greek culture on the Italian boot when the Hellenic influence there was at its greatest before the rise of the Rome. Humans lived in the area as far back as the Stone Age and then the Greeks settled around what would become Naples during the Neolithic Period in the second millennium BCE. A couple of thousand years later, the place was almost wiped off the map as the most-bombed Italian city of World War II. The city itself dodged a bullet in 79 CE when Mt. Vesuvius erupted, destroying Pompeii, now a suburb of Naples and spelled Pompei (in Italian, Pumpeje).

Today, Naples is the pizza capital of the world.

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