Disability and Elderly Issues

My drop dead enthusiastic review of The Meritocracy Trap

The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite

The Meritocracy Trap: How America’s Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite by Daniel Markovits

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Meritocracy Trap is the most exciting book I have read since at age 16, Thorstein Veblen’s 1899 Theory of the Leisure Class introduced me to the concept that our society is run by people committed to conspicuous consumption. Definition: “ expenditure on or consumption of luxuries on a lavish scale in an attempt to enhance one’s prestige.”

See potlatch:

Meritocracy author Daniel Markovits is a Yale law professor who despite his seemingly off-putting academic credentials can and does write clearly and convincingly. M asserts correctly that overly well-educated rich and arrogant individuals (who immolate themself in work—spending long hours never smelling the roses) truly run our world.They do a rotten job of it much as the Harvard mafia in their seeming brilliance a generation earlier than Baby Boomer mine gave us the War in Vietnam.

M’s frequent reference to Veblen serves as a form of catnip for me, present in my recent architecture column. For the past ten years, under a permissive married team of architects, I have been publishing (as a paraplegic now 72 years old) the necessity of global architects to build the built environment for the disabled and elderly who live in it.…

In my trashing the work of prominent NYC architect Stephen Holl ( famous for designing a museum in Europe that actually is a museum) Holl’s $41.5 million extravagance is a sin. I take particular exception to New York Times architect critic Michael Kimmelman who praises the beauty of a structure that is library in no meaningful sense of the word. Holl’s Hunters Point Queens library is inaccessible to children and adults in wheel chairs and to fat people.

Again my decades’s long Veblen obsession again reappears:

“ The New York Times’ powerful architecture critic Michael Kimmelman ( who should know better) has dangerously embraced conspicuous consumption ( the wealthy spending of public money on luxuries to enhance social position; namely, an ostentatious ‘library’ that may make the place look good but violates its function ).

“ When praising Steven Holl’s design in September, Kimmelman took special note of the library’s panoramic views—the best of which are not wheel chair accessible. The praise continues, praise for which he remains unrepentant despite the federal law suit which details the architect’s failure to make the library accessible to the disabled.

“Kimmelman continues: “With its sculptured geometry — a playful advertisement for itself — it’s even a little like the Pepsi sign. Compact, at 22,000 square feet and 82 feet high, the library is among the finest and most uplifting public buildings New York has produced so far this century.’”



When The Meritocracy Trap appeared to blow my consciousness, I did what any 16 year old dressed in adult clothing does, began writing long emails to the author. I recommended he read W.H. Auden’s The Managers:

In the bad old days it was not so bad:

The top of the ladder

Was an amusing place to sit; success

Meant quite a lot – leisure

And huge meals, more palaces filled with more

Objects, books, girls, horses

Than one would ever get round to, and to be

Carried uphill while seeing

Others walk. To rule was a pleasure when

One wrote a death sentence

On the back of the Ace of Spades and played on

With a new deck. Honours

Are not so physical or jolly now,

For the species of Powers

We are used to are not like that. Could one of them

Be said to resemble

The Tragic Hero, The Platonic Saint,

Or would any painter

Portray one rising triumph from a lake

On a dolphin, naked,

Protected by an umbrella of cherubs? Can

They so much as manage

To behave like genuine Caesars when alone

Or drinking with cronies,

To let their hair down and be frank about

The world? It is doubtful.

The last word on how we may live or die

Rests today with such quiet

Men, working too hard in rooms that are too big,

Reducing to figures

What is the matter, what is to be done.

A neat little luncheon

Of sandwiches is brought to each on a tray,

Nourishment they are able

To take with one hand without looking up

From papers a couple

Of secretaries are needed to file,

From problems no smiling

Can dismiss. The typewriters never stop

But whirr like grasshoppers

In the silent siesta heat as, frivolous

Across their discussions

From woods unaltered by our wars and our vows

There drift the scents of flowers

And the songs of birds who will never vote

Or bother to notice

Those distinguishing marks a lover sees

By instinct and policemen

Can be trained to observe. Far into the night

Their windows burn brightly

And, behind their backs bent over some report,

On every quarter,

For ever like a god or a disease

There on earth the reason

In all its aspects why they are tired, and weak,

The inattentive, seeing

Someone to blame. If, to recuperate

They go a-playing, their greatness

Encounters the bow of the chef or the glance

Of the ballet-dancer

Who cannot be ruined by any master’s fall.

To rule must be a calling,

It seems, like surgery or sculpture; the fun

Neither love nor money

But taking necessary risks, the test

Of one’s skill, the question,

If difficult, their own reward. But then

Perhaps one should mention

Also what must be a comfort as they guess

In times like the present

When guesses can prove so fatally wrong,

The fact of belonging

To the very select indeed, to those

For whom, just supposing

They do, there will be places on the last

Plane out of disaster.

No; no one is really sorry for their

Heavy gait and careworn

Look, nor would they thank you if you said you were.

W.H. Auden 1948, ‘The Oxford Book of Work’ 1999


Professor Markovits replied:

“Dear Joel,

The reference to “The Managers” is inspired. Thanks especially for that.”

Having, as a writer, been paid by the word, I should now rest on my laurels and insert a

—30– here.

No. I am here in rural central Pennsylvania in a residential hotel where my neighbors are construction workers and those who risk their lives in the shale oil fields. I have come to know well the maids, desk clerks and maintenance people whose talent and knowledge of the real world enhances my life.

My mother insisted frequently that it is a sin to waste talent, Here in Lycoming County that sin is rampant. My talented staff are forced to work in a society that functions deliberately to keep talented workers in less than $7 an hour minimum wage poverty. Ill-educated in schools contemptible by Third World standards, suffering from inadequate health and dental care, these workers continue to evince talent.
It is Markocits’ must read thesis that the meritocracy trap has robbed us of the creativity that rich, entitled whiz kids and whiz adults— products of superb private schools, Ivy League schools, graduate and professional schools lack: The creativity that would lead us out of the mess we have made of our society.

Denny, the toothless sixty year old maintenance worker who supplements his income by delivering newspapers, has the talent to deliver us from our malaise. As does Lydia, the hauntingly beautiful, graceful and smart weekend maid who has a two year old illegitimate daughter and is completing her last year in high school twice.

Let us join with Professor M and say, Amen.


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Disability and Elderly Issues

My 1981 engagement plus shopping for a ring in NYC [work in progress]

In media res
If you have not failed at Latin as I have perhaps the few words that remain bubbling up from 1967 meaning “in the middle do not reverberate for you as they do for me. All great epics:begin in the middle; e.g. the Iliad, the Aeneid, and my engagement to Diana Marie Bass ( who later became the mother of my children has a middle. Namely, months earlier I proposed, then I had an impressive sounding gig which paid oodles and before it fizzled, I was able when she said Yes to pay for an elaborate pub crawl where going to Tiffany’s , saying feh and going to a Swiss jewelry store across the Avenue —Fifth Avenue— figures in the middle of the trilogy begging with 1. Meeting her 2. Courting her and 3. ( this is three) getting engaged to her prior to marrying her and living happily ( yes for a long while) and then not making it until death do us part.Alas.

The beginning of the third trilogy was popping the question

Diana and I were living together in sin at the first of my three apartments at 630 East Capitol Street, Washington DC where love and unemployment were in the air. We had met when I appeared to be a hot shot, but wasn’t, a political appointee unanimously confirmed by the Senate forced to write a speech for my boss who did not want to deliver it on a Friday night in New Orleans where he very much did not want to be.

Here is how Imsummed it up two years ago: Recalling the event now shakily 41 years in the past:

I met the future mother of my children as a consequence of writing a speech on the Multi Fiber Arrangement for the importation of textiles and apparel. Known familiarly as the MFA or the Arrangement.

The exigencies of the speech caused the lovely Diana to emerge from her non-carpeted office on the sixth floor to the exclusive custom-wood paneled corridor at the suite of the Office of the Secretary of Labor. There, my secretary announced then escorted her to my office where she sat at the custom-made tweed sofa.

I had summoned Diana indirectly because when I called Irving Kramer, her boss who was not there, she recognized appropriately that a call from the Under Secretary’s Office required instant response if I thought it necessary and I did. Her overt purpose there on my couch gazing at the original landscapes on loan from the Smithsonian was to teach me enough international economics to satisfy (or at least make a pretense of satisfying) my boss’ desire to deliver an upbeat speech.


1.Why God * created footnotes. God created footnotes in the hope that I could get to the point and not become distracted as I invariably do.


My best friend for over 50 years is dead. Hadley was prepared; clip board now in heaven

“We had two 3-ring notebooks in the office – Bob Price, fresh from his ministerial training, labeled the one with the Regulations the Mishnah and the one with the Interpretive Memoranda the Gemara.

“But we didn’t use the Act much – we mainly used the Regulations instead. We had a subscription so the Selective Service System would send us updates to the Regulations and new Memoranda as they appeared.

“I took a lot of people through the CO process, including many of my friends – Joel Solkoff, for example, and Geoff Greene. I was pretty rigorous in exploring the issues. You say you don’t believe in the use of force? How about using force to open a window? And so on Socratically until we got to what the man really believed. In many cases he was not quite sure what he believed. We were careful not to maneuver people into positions which satisfied the law if those positions did not truly reflect their beliefs. A lot of what I did in CO counseling was help people, who may not have been any more certain than I was when I filled out my own form, figure out just what they really did believe.

“We were very good also at technical details. Don’t ask for the form until you’ve prepared answers to the questions first. A teaching job will (or won’t) get you a II-A because. You’re too old for a statutory II-S, you need Local Board permission, and given your circumstances here’s what you might say in your request. This I-A may look scary but it doesn’t mean you’re about to be drafted, only reclassified. And lots more of the same. It was great training for a lawyer and I think it is the reason I was later admitted to Penn Law despite my spotty academic record.

“We also counseled people who wanted to break the law – by not registering, by refusing induction, by burning their draft cards, or by fleeing to Canada. We were very scrupulous not to tell people to break the law, but we did tell them very specifically what was involved, what was legal and what was not, what they could expect if they did what they were planning to do. We urged people at least to consider using lawful methods first – do you need to ignore the classification process and get prosecuted if you can qualify as a CO or get a deferment or an exemption? There were conscientious reasons why people might want to do this, and we respected them – we just wanted to be sure people understood what they were doing and knew the full range of their options.”

Victory! On Friday, March 27, 2020, Sree Hari Kesan, MD Changed the Battery in My Pacemaker That for the Past 20 Years Has Kept My Heart Beating

My life or death issue Resolved; Move over Rolling Stones—Satisfaction is Mine

I am a 72 year old paraplegic, I do not have spleen and have a COPD diagnosis. 

Critically, I needed to have the battery for my pacemaker replaced within the next month or I will get very sick. My pacemaker keeps me alive, Without a pacemaker, I probably would be dead by the end of the day, With it, I can function well for 10 years. Nearly twenty years ago, a surgeon inserted the pacemaker shortly after a heart attack. 

My Hero

My 2001 recovery took place at Philadelphia’s superb Thomas Jefferson Hospital. My excellent cardiologist surgeon also inserted a stent which continues to hold my heart walls up so blood arrives unimpeded.


My 2001 recovery took place at Philadelphia’s superb Thomas Jefferson Hospital. My excellent cardiologist surgeon also inserted a stent which continues to hold my heart walls up so blood arrives unimpeded.

My 2001 recovery took place at Philadelphia’s superb Thomas Jefferson Hospital. My excellent cardiologist surgeon also inserted a stent which continues to hold my heart walls up so blood arrives unimpeded.

Every ten years or so, the pacemaker requires a new battery. Medicare being Medicare insists that I wait a lengthy time between the period when I become sick and the time I die.

This is the government’s notion of just in time delivery.

Last week, a health worker in my local hospital here in rural PA where the place is all too briefly empty, tested my pacemaker. 

I have one month before I become very ill. I remember how ill because 10 years ago I endured the wait.

This time, under Medicare regulations, I might not die until August.

In the interim, the sickness coupled with a compromised immune system will put me at greater risk.

Further, by then the now empty hospital will be filled with Corona virus victims making routine surgery the moral equivalent of death.

Alumnus fondly remembers his two arrests at the Columbia 1968 Revolution 

Wikipedia: In 1968, a series of protests at Columbia University in New York City were one among the various student demonstrations that occurred around the globe in that year. The Columbia protests erupted over the spring of that year after students discovered links between the university and the institutional apparatus supporting the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, as well as their concern over an allegedly segregated gymnasium to be constructed in the nearby Morningside Park. The protests resulted in the student occupation of many university buildings and the eventual violent removal of protesters by the New York City Police Department.
I was arrested twice at the 1968 student demonstrations at Columbia.

On April 30th I was arrested with my live-in girlfriend (in violation of Barnard College dormitory policy) Vicki Ruth Cohen. We were arrested in Mathematics Hall–the last of the buildings to be liberated by the police. Consequently, the pissed off New York City Police–generally a commendable group–were forced to act poorly on that occasion.

Boiling down the Six Demands (which I still support), there were, as Wikipedia points out lucidly, only three:

1 End Columbia’s shameful involvement in researching ways to kill Vietnamese.

2 Withdraw the gymnasium from Morning Side Park because it was architecturally a monument to racism; i.e. students and faculty entered through the nifty front door; members of the community; via. African-Americans, enter the back door at the bottom of the hill.

3. Do not punish the students; because why should we have been punished for demonstrating against the Vietnam War and Columbia’s racism: Amnesty. [Everybody got amnesty but me.]

Lost within our reminiscences was this reality. The student demonstrators—after taking over:

University President Grayson Kirk’s Office Loe Memorial Library

Hamilton Hall

Mathematics Hall

Avery Hall

and even the dope smokers at Fayerweather Hall (where in addition to weddings, sex also was reportedly taken place
this was a demonstration by stuck-in-the-mud prudes who had not yet met (mind-meld) style

Jerry Ruben—one of the surprisingly small number of outside agitators SDS sent us while SDS had persuaded the press incorrectly that Mark Rudd was our leader. We were our leader.

Regarding the amnesty deal, I was one of the few students who did not get the deal. If you were arrested once at the spring 1968 Columbiademonstrations, free pass. Charges dropped. Record expunged.No deal if you were arrested in any of the two subsequent demonstrations.There were nearly-one thousand students. Men and women arrested holding hands and freeking the police out in a way that demonstrated why so many members of my class are named partners in establishment law firms.

The then gender segregated Columbia boys and Bernard girls understood in some visceral way that it drove the police crazy (many of whom had daughters that age in their homes) to see the brazen way so many Barnard women had adopted the fashion of the time: Flaunting the fact that they were bra-less,  carelessly left their blouses only partially buttoned  revealing other things, they had not shaving under their arms.

The vast-majority had enjoyed their first arrest but were in no way eager for the next. When we emerged from The Tombs, there was the Columbia strike–held outside in beautiful weather and in several neighborhood bars. Students were learning Greek in the Golden Rule. The media loved it. There were moments when Newsweek, The New York Times, and other publications (which have since redeemed themselves) combined to render of version of fake news that would make me sound like POTUS 45.++++ Unfortunately, I was also arrested in the Third Bust. Students had again taken over Hamilton Hall. This time black and white together. Police came almost instantly—with horses, of course.

The Dean announced students arrested inside Hamilton Hall would be expelled. I was arrested outside Hamilton Hall. I was beaten up. Put in the Tombs with a cast of characters out of Becket [an ice cream salesman wearing his white uniform– change device still around his belt as he stared through thick prison bars].

Later, I was indicted by a grand jury charged with conspiracy to commit riot with three other people I had not met until we were arrested together.Because I had rioted on the outside of Hamilton Hall, I was not expelled but graduated from Columbia in 1969 with a major in Medieval European History. The spring semester (when I was arrested twic) in 1968 ; the only semester I made dean’s list for praiseworthy academic performance. More than a year after everyone else got out from the First Bust, so did I. I was released from the first arrest simply because the district attorney had gotten sick of the whole thing.

The worst part was Jerry Rubin. He was in our group and I had to see a lot of him.My indictment for conspiracy to riot [I had rioted but did not conspired to do so; rioting just came over me suddenly and never again] involved initially my attorney William Kunstler.

Unfortunately, Kunstler was the worst kind of attorney for this kind of thing because his outlook was ideological; mine was keeping my ass out of jail. Plus, my worried mother flew up from Florida distraught by the predicament her only son had gotten into seeking solace from my attorney and she nearly received too much.  When my mother’s eyes hit Kunstler’s, sexual sparks hit the air. I am convinced they would have done it before my eyes were there not four black panthers in the waiting room.


Years ( a seeming 1978 lifetime) later, President Jimmy Carter honored me with a political appointment writing speeches for the number two person at the U.S. Department of Labor.  

Among my duties was reading CIA documents. This required a security clearance. Of course, I revealed all my arrests to the FBI agents in my office adding additional paper which was needed. Then, I showed my security form to my boss Deputy Secretary of Labor Robert J. Brown, who was a dyed-in-the wool United Automobile Workers labor skate who had worked for seven years on the assembly line,

Deputy Secretary Brown was jealous. “Damn; you were arrested, but I wasn’t.”

Joel Solkoff, Class of 1969 Columbia College. My father Isadore was Class of 1925 . Joel is the author of The Politics of Food. He is a paraplegic and is a disabilities rights advocate in Rust Belt, Pennsylvania  

President Donald J. Trump’s resignation speech; your assistance requested [work in progress]

Not since Japanese aircraft bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1947 has our country experienced as a great a danger as the one we face from the Covid-19 pandemic. Another forecast, developed by former CDC director Tom Friedenn, former director of the Center for Disease Comtrol (CDC) predicted that “in a worst-case scenario, but one that is not implausible, half the U.S. population would become infected and more than 1 million people would die.“ — Washington Post, March 11, 2020

Raisin d’être a.k.a Why now?


Prelude to a draft speech

Email to Bess Levin, Vanity Fair

I love you Bess

Today, Sunday, March 22, 2020 Dateline Lycoming County, Pennsylvania ( two miles from Williamsport City line), I am in the process of composing a Trump resignation speech.


Premise: The Donald finds a quantity of LSD in the Resolute desk. Left over from the days JFK dropped with Timothy Leary.


“Summer-bachelor Jack Kennedy stands on the Harry Truman balcony overlooking the rose-garden fountain, a soothing sight before him: prisms of lighted water shooting into darkness, the white spike of the Washington Monument, auto headlights flickering along Executive Avenue. He begins to feel a deep-seated goodness within, centered between his chest and throat. From the bedroom behind him, through white chiffon curtains in open french doors, float the chords of a Sinatra song — “All I Need is the Girl.”

“With strange clarity, JFK can suddenly make out every note….Behind the curtains moves the shadow of a tall woman who is not his wife. She is deeply connected to CIA, and has just dispensed to the President of the United States a dose of LSD. In the next few hours she will be “brainwashing” him, and she will be doing so on the directions of a Harvard psychologist, Dr. Timothy Leary, whose colleagues are all taking CIA money, and who has himself designed a personality test used by CIA..”


Among the many rumors about President John F. Kennedy is that he used LSD, supplied to him by a lady named Mary Pinchot-Meyer, supposedly one of his mistresses.

While peaking, President Trump watches John Oliver. DJT is convinced John Oliver is the reincarnation of Billie Graham.


Hail to the Chief:

Trump invites John Oliver to the White House, While under the impression Oliver is Billie Graham. Trump confesses all and urges advice.

Oliver tells him first to have Pence resign Then, on National television, announces his own resignation. Introduces our 46th President Nancy P and then flies to Moscow.
Suggestions oh doyen,Joel570-505-1251 Room 310

Bess Levin satisfies my Ad hominem purity cop out

On Fri, Mar 20, 2020 at 6:42 PM Bess Levin at Vanity Fair<[email protected]> wrote:

Over the past three years, many terms have been thrown around to describe Donald Trump. Phrases like “huge moron,” “colossal jerk,” “massive prick,” and, our personal favorite, “malignant tumor.” Obviously many have agreed that the 45th president of the United States is both a terrible person and an idiot incapable of tweeting a coherent sentence, let alone running the country.

“Still, some have worried it would be taking things too far to diagnose the man as a full-blown sociopath. Are we being too cavalier with the designation, they’ve likely fretted. Shouldn’t we wait until the Mar-a-Lago groundskeepers find a few dozen heads in the basement, they’ve probably wondered.

“On Friday, however, Trump confirmed for all the world to see that he indeed has no conscience.During a press conference at the White House, NBC reporter Peter Alexander asked Trump, “What do you say to the Americans who are scared, though? Nearly 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick, millions, as you’ve witnessed, who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?” In reality this was a softball question that anyone with a semblance of a soul would be able to answer, responding with something like, “That’s an understandable feeling. I would tell them we’re in this together and we’re doing everything we can, as fast as we can.”

Trump literally only thinks about himself, so instead he told Alexander: “I say that you’re a terrible reporter. That’s what I say. I think it’s a very nasty question, and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people. The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope, and you’re doing sensationalism and the same with NBC and con-cast. I don’t call it Comcast, I call it ‘con-cast.’ Let me just tell you something. That’s really bad reporting, and you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism.”

Today’s Corona virus was more successful at disrupting the Kentucky Derby than Gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson’s 1970 valiant attempt to do the same

The Corona virus appears, when least expected, In this case in my memories of my first “real” job now 50 years ago. “O tempora! O mores!”,as that old windbag Cicero once exclaimed.

Today, I watched as a noted epidemiologist observed that each individual’s reaction to  the pandemic is unique. You ain’t kidding bub. Enter Hunter Thompson and how his legendary infant terrible editor used all the money at his command, which briefly was a lot, to not only disrupt the Kentucky Derby but also to disrupt the next American icon on his hit list, the America’s cut.

Let’s start with Hunter Thompson, whose career exploded after we at Scanlan’s published this story written under the influence of lots of alcohol and illegal drugs.

Santayana did say, “What’s past is prologue.” His words are engraved in marble on the outside of the DC archives building which houses, in a nuclear safe container, the original of The Declaration of Independence.


ikipedia: “Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005) was an American journalist and author, and the founder of the gonzo journalism movement. He first rose to prominence with the publication of Hell’s Angels (1967), a book for which he spent a year living and riding with the Hells Angels motorcycle gang in order to write a first-hand account of the lives and experiences of its members.”

Not that many years later, Hunter Thompson committed suicide. While Hunter was talking to his wife on the phone, he said goodbye, put a pistol to his head, and shot and killed himself.

“In 1970, he wrote an unconventional magazine feature titled “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” for Scanlan’s Monthly which both raised his profile and established him as a writer with counterculture credibility. It also set him on a path to establishing his own sub-genre of New Journalism which he called “Gonzo,” which was essentially an ongoing experiment in which the writer becomes a central figure and even a participant in the events of the narrative.”

Editor Warren Hinckle, III decided to send Hunter, who had spent a year living with the Hells Angels to see what Hunter might do when reporting on a cherished American institution. Then, Warren called illustrator Ralph Steadman in the middle of the night in London and somehow convinced Ralph to immediately fly to Kentucky to join Hunter.

Enter Ralph Steadmen, May 1970, drawing the largest horse penis I have ever seen

“It’s a mystery why artist Ralph Steadman ever got along with Hunter Thompson,” wrote Thomas Novally for the Louisville Kentucky Currier Journal in May, 2018
“During his first assignment with Thompson in Louisville during the 1970 Kentucky Derby, he would be insulted for his “nerve-rattling” appearance, critiqued for his “horrible drawings,” and even maced with “chemical billy” by the oft-psychotic writer.

“Thompson wasn’t normal, but, thankfully, neither was Steadman. 

“‘Everything was wrong with Hunter,”’ the 81-year-old Welsh artist and England resident told Courier Journal during a video interview. ‘When we first met, he looked at me and said ‘they told me you were weird.’ … I knew I couldn’t take it too seriously at all.”

“After their mint julep and Colt 45 malt liquor induced Kentucky Derby hangover finally subsided, Hunter’s infamous essay “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” was published in Scanlan’s Monthly, the only true recollection of the duo’s drunken encounter during the 96th Run for the Roses.  

But it was from that cesspool of decadence and depravity at Churchill Downs that the genre of Gonzo journalism was born and the fastest two minutes in sports started a friendship that lasted a lifetime.”

[ Joel’s note. Temporarily, I am too pooped to pop.Too old to roll. This memory wave requires me to pause as I observe that, to paraphrase wildly President Trump, the microscopic virus has altered—trashed—our county’s established traditions in a way mere mortals, e.g.dissolute Hunter Thompson, try as he did, could not. ]


Wikipedia redux: “Steadman had a long partnership with the American journalist Hunter S. Thompson, drawing pictures for several of his articles and books.[5][6] He accompanied Thompson to the Kentucky Derby for an article for the magazine Scanlan’s, to the Honolulu Marathon for the magazine Running, and illustrated both Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.”

I am back with this 1970 tale of excess and destruction now vastly surpassed by our deadly and powerful pandemic which makes postponing the Kentucky Derby child’s play.

Warren Hinckle III in a San Francisco bar 36 years after he hired me. Photo courtesy Wikipedia
 Warren Hinckle III in a San Francisco bar 36 years after he hired me. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

As President Trump and Prime Minster Trudeau close off the Canadian border, strange thoughts pop into my head

How much weirder will our experience with the Corona virus get?
I awoke this morning in the residential hotel where I live in rural Rust Belt PA to read in the LA Times that the Canadian border will be closed ( nearly air tight). Instantly, Willie Nelson singing “We guard the Canadian border” popped into my head. I cannot get it out.

You may remember the song was a critical part of the film Wag the Dog, where a fictional president, up for re-election and the focus of a sex scandal, hires Robert de Nero to distract the American Public.

De Nero succeeds by declaring war on Albania. Why Albania? Why not?

In this contemporary pandemic life of ours, where truth is stranger than fiction, will we next learn that the Carona virus did not originate ( as President Trump suggests ) in China, but in Albania?