I guess I’m glad that Lt. John Pike (Pepper Spraying Cop) has been terminated. But as with all such things (e.g. Abu Ghraib), it seems that Pike was a scapegoat. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t have been fired—just that his firing will be used to avoid making structural reforms that are at the core of the problem.
I have little doubt that any member of the DC Davis police force would have done what Pike did, if they had been there with the spray can. So the next time a similar situation arises, another officer will be there to place duty to his comrades above his duty to society. (There won’t be another “pepper spray at close range” incident, because they’ve all learned that lesson.)
One bit of data from the article really stood out. Pike’s salary last year was $110,243.12. This is much more than the vast majority of college professors make. Policing is not a hard job. And as I’ve discussed before, it is not a particularly dangerous job. But policing on a college campus? And on the UC Davis campus in particular? Please! Night manager at a suburban Motel-6 is far harder and more dangerous.
Yet the University of California thinks it makes sense to pay their police officers more than they pay their college professors, the people who provide the product they are selling. And those over-paid police officers think that spraying (Pouring?) pepper solution into the eyes of nonviolent student protesters—At close range!—is a good idea.
There are major problems at UC Davis (and by extension pretty much everywhere else). Firing Lr. John Pike doesn’t even begin to address them.
Rather than something normal like “See you later,” I am prone to quoting Cole Porter at the end of conversations. And not just any Cole Porter.
“You do that voodoo that you do so well.”
In my head, it is always said with a German accent, because I mostly know it because of the version by you know who:
Recently, I’ve have begun to get a little push back on quoting this line so much. Apparently, my friends do not have as good taste as I had thought. (That’s not true; I’ve always known my friends have poor taste!)
The strange thing is that my friends have a problem with the song itself. They don’t even know about the evil parodies of the song. Like “Dog Shit” from Tuscaloosa Calling Me But I’m Not Going, “You do the do-do that you do so well.”
I use the line as a kind of encouraging goodbye. “Go out there and work your magic.” But if I used that line, I wouldn’t get the thrill of having Marlene Dietrich singing in my head. And frankly, that does something to me.
I caught a bit of The Rachel Maddow Show tonight as I made dinner. During one bit, she mentioned that since leading Iraq into ever more chaos for the Bush administration, L. Paul Bremer is now painting. She showed the painting on the left and I thought, “That looks really interesting.”
So I went to his site (which is shockingly badly designed). I was wrong. This one painting is by far the most interesting of the 50+ paintings on his site. And it is not nearly as interesting as I first thought.
Don’t get me wrong: the man has talent. He is like the many other good artists I appreciate when I visit the Sonoma Country Fair every year. But it is clearly “talented amateur” work.
Which of the following paintings is by L. Paul Bremer and which is by Edward Hopper?
I’m glad Bremer is pursuing his art. Why shouldn’t he be? He is very wealthy, so I wonder why he didn’t do it sooner. But if it isn’t time now, when he is 70 years old, when is it time? The truth is that most people confuse me. They waste their lives doing things they don’t like, even when they don’t have to. So the question is not why Bremer is pursuing his art; it is why he waited so long (he’s always been wealthy). Grandma Moses he’s not, but what does that matter?
I got a few minutes today, so I went looking for video of Gore Vidal, who died the night before last. He was very important to me when I was a teenager—and beyond. I particularly remember his essay Sex Is Politics, which he published in Playboy in 1974. (Ah, for the days when intellectuals could ogle at naked women! Or perhaps perverts ogle at naked intellectuals?)
It is rare that I care when I learn that someone has died. I felt a little bad about Ernest Borgnine, because he looked so good in RED, I was hoping he’d make it to 100. I like round numbers. But mostly: nothing; I just don’t care. When I heard that Vidal had died, I was sad in a way usually reserved for people I actually know.
I found this video from the last year that shows him in all of his later life glory:
He is already missed.
Gore Vidal always makes me think of this video, even though it is really all about Normal Mailer:
There are a few interesting things about it. One is that Vidal actually takes pity on Mailer. The worst comes from Dick Cavett and Janet Flanner. Another is that Mailer is certainly at a low point—and drunk! (I’m very fond of him and I feel bad about what goes on, even though he is entirely to blame.) Finally, this video cuts off before the best line. Cavett tells Mailer, “Why don’t you fold it five ways and put it where the moon don’t shine.”
After the laughter dies down, Mailer asks, “Mr. Cavett, on your word of honor, did you just make that up, or have you had it canned for years, and you were waiting for the best moment to use it?”
Cavett responds, “I have to tell you a quote from Tolstoy?”
Dick Cavett discusses the episode at length in an obituary of Norman Mailer. Talking about all of their relationships after that episode, Cavett writes:
All of us still spoke and both men were — singly — on later shows of mine. Not together, but on. Vidal said his relationship with Mailer finally resolved itself into pretty much what it had been for decades: “We pass, and like two old whores on the street, say ‘Still at it, Norm?’ ‘Yep. Still at it, Gore?'”
That’s classic Gore Vidal.
And for the record, Mailer was the better writer. Gore Vidal was a deeper thinker and smarter and more knowledgeable and pretty much anything else you can think about. It is Mailer’s example that keeps me writing after all these years even though I know I’m not deep enough, smart enough, knowledgeable enough or pretty much anything else enough to attain greatness in any objective sense.