Hot Air: Wraiths, Wenches & Wheezers


The Phantom

Just wondering: Is there really such a person as Trey Hollingsworth, Representative in US Congress from Indiana’s 9th District?

I’m open to hearing or seeing any evidence at all for his existence.

Too Quick To Quit

Sticking w/ politics, it occurs to me two fairly recent Democratic aspirants for their party’s presidential nomination, in separate years, were laughed out of the running for doing things that our current president did — and was cheered for by many of his supporters.

Let’s look:

  • Gary Hart was a veteran of several presidential races. He was George McGovern’s campaign


    manager when the South Dakota senator won the Dem nom in 1972. Then he ran a spirited campaign against Walter Mondale for the Dem slot in ’84. After serving as Colorado’s senator from ’75 through ’87, he was ready to go big time again in the ’88 race. He officially declared his intention to run in April, ’87. Less than a month later, corporate media news outlets went gaga over rumors Hart was having an affair with some unnamed “young woman.” Reporters and private gumshoes tailed him as well as the likely “young woman,” a Phi Beta Kappa, former beauty pageant contestant, rock star girlfriend, and aspiring actress named Donna Rice. Lo and behold, the two were seen entering each other’s residences and on at least one occasion Hart was seen exiting her place the next morning. Photos were published of Hart dandling Rice on his knee aboard a pleasure craft, inadvertently christened with the pun “Monkey Business,” bound for Bimini. Despite being the clear frontrunner for the nomination, Hart had to quit the race, otherwise all of Western civilization might have collapsed.

  • Howard Dean was a family practice doctor and former governor of Vermont who ran as an anti-Iraq War candidate in 2004. His issues included health care reform and campaign finance reform (he thrived on small donor fundraising over the internet). He utilized a “ground troops” strategy to build his grass roots campaign. He rode a wave into the Iowa caucuses that January and, although he finished third, gave a rousing pep rally-type speech to supporters, punctuated by yells and what would become the famous ejaculation, “EEEEEE-YEAHHH!” He had to quit the race otherwise the entire American political process would forever be spoiled by such gross and crass shouting.

His Unforgivable Sin

Funny isn’t it? Li’l Duce is a serial philanderer and unapologetic braggart about sexually assaulting women, yet plenty of members of that gender who supported him shouted — both by word and  vote — that they’d be happy to have him grab their pussies. And then, at one of his own campaign rallies, he shrieked about protesters in the hall where he was speaking and exhorted his supporters the physically remove them.

In neither case was L’il Duce forced to quit the race. And not once did he even consider such a move.

What are we to conclude after considering these incidents? Some might say, Well, times are changing. Others might say the Democrats have to learn to say, as the future President Gag repeatedly has implied, Yeah, I did it. What of it?

I’m with the latter group.

Good gamblers must have an exquisite sense of timing to know when to double down — and the guts to do it.


Plenty of people who are approaching or who’ve already crossed the threshold of their 70th year on this Earth might claim being a septuagenarian does not mean they’re old.

Look, when I was a young writer in the 1980s, often wondering not only where next month’s rent was coming from but how in the world I might pay for that evening’s dinner, I could have told myself I was rich in friends. Sadly, both the landlord and the grocer refused to accept a roster of my intimates as sufficient payment for their goods and services. Similarly, when you’re 70, the truth is there aren’t too terribly many revolutions around the sun left in your metaphysical account.

I’m a full eight years away from that magic number. And already I’m old. See, I was young once. I know what young is. This ain’t it.

Being 70 doesn’t necessarily mean one is dead. Only that one doesn’t leap out of bed with the same brio one did at the age of 20. One’s joints, skin, bowels, hairline, and ability to engage in various pleasures all exhibit unmistakable signs. Hitting 70 inevitably means the aforementioned either are aching, disappearing, sagging, receding, or simply not worth getting out of the recliner for.

Still, scads of folks born in or before 1948 are living vibrant, creative, productive…, hell, fabulous lives. Here’s a woefully incomplete list:

  • Steve Martin comedian, actor, musician, composer, playwright, etc.
  • Bernadette Peters singer, actor, children’s books author


  • Morgan Freeman actor, voiceover artist
  • Paul McCartney musician
  • Mick Jagger musician
  • Betty Thomas actor, director
  • George R.R. Martin author
  • Candy Crowley journalist
  • Al Gore environmental activist
  • Christopher Guest actor, director
  • Brian Eno composer, producer


  • Carol Moore libertarian feminist
  • Bruce Vilanch comedy writer, actor
  • Charles D. Walker astronaut, engineer (born in Bedford, Indiana)
  • Alan Lightman physicist, author
  • Barbra Amesbury philanthropist, filmmaker, musician
  • Anatole Solovyev cosmonaut
  • Conrad Cummings composer
  • Alexander McCall Smith author, law professor
  • Christopher Langton computer scientist
  • Agnieszka Holland filmmaker
  • Alfred Sung fashion designer
  • Bud Cort Harold

    70 this year!

  • Catherine Millet writer, art curator, feminist
  • Art Spiegelman cartoonist, graphic novelist
  • Bob Holman poet, poetry slam pioneer
  • Aline Kominsky-Crumb underground cartoonist
  • David H. Levy astronomer
  • Debbie Macomber romance novelist
  • Alan Parsons musician, producer
  • Daniel Okrent editor, historian, creator of Rotisserie Baseball (forerunner of fantasy sports leagues)
  • Catherine Breillat filmmaker, novelist, professor

I thought of compiling this list this morning while listening to a radio host mention that Steve Martin was in his seventies. Steve Martin is more active and productive than any ten people who are in their thirties.

If you’re 70-plus (or, like me, you’re racing in that direction) this list ought to comfort you far more than the lie that you’re not old.

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