Trump as Republican Party Reptile

I just did some Thoughts on Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech for Samizdata. Here is the complete speech of Trump’s that I was on about, and to which I linked, twice, because I think the fact that we all now can link directly to it is so very good.

Something else I didn’t complicate my Samizdata piece with did occur to me, while I was reading that same speech, and in particular when I read things like this in it:

We are the country of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Frederick Douglass. We are the land of Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody. (Applause.) We are the nation that gave rise to the Wright Brothers, the Tuskegee Airmen – (applause) – Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Jesse Owens, George Patton – General George Patton – the great Louie Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Elvis Presley, and Mohammad Ali. (Applause.) And only America could have produced them all. (Applause.) No other place.

We are the culture that put up the Hoover Dam, laid down the highways, and sculpted the skyline of Manhattan. We are the people who dreamed a spectacular dream – it was called: Las Vegas, in the Nevada desert; who built up Miami from the Florida marsh; and who carved our heroes into the face of Mount Rushmore. (Applause.)

Americans harnessed electricity, split the atom, and gave the world the telephone and the Internet. We settled the Wild West, won two World Wars, landed American astronauts on the Moon – and one day very soon, we will plant our flag on Mars.

We gave the world the poetry of Walt Whitman, the stories of Mark Twain, the songs of Irving Berlin, the voice of Ella Fitzgerald, the style of Frank Sinatra – (applause) – the comedy of Bob Hope, the power of the Saturn V rocket, the toughness of the Ford F-150 – (applause) – and the awesome might of the American aircraft carriers.

I’ve read this before, I thought, or something a hell of a lot like it. Yes, a piece in P. J. O.Rourke’s Republican Party Reptile, which was published in 1987, about an epic car journey O’Rourke made across America, in a Ferrari. I read this book in the late eighties. The Ferrari piece in this book would appear to be a slimmed down version of this piece, which was published in Car and Driver, in 1980.

I wrote a Libertarian Alliance pamphlet in praise of O’Rourke’s essay (also in praise of classical CDs), which included big quotes from the 1987 version of O’Rourke’s piece, including things like this:

… To be in control of our destinies – and there is no more profound feeling of control of one’s destiny that I have ever experienced than to drive a Ferrari down a public road at 130 miles an hour. Only God can make a tree, but only man can drive by one that fast. And if the lowly Italians, the lamest, silliest, least stable of our NATO allies, can build a machine like this, just think what it is that we can do. We can smash the atom. We can cure polio. We can fly to the moon if we like. There is nothing we can’t do. Maybe we don’t happen to build Ferraris, but that’s not because there’s anything wrong with America. We just haven’t turned the full light of our intelligence and ability in that direction. We were, you know, busy elsewhere. We may not have Ferraris but just think what our Polaris-submarines are like. And if it feels like this in a Ferrari at 130, my God, what can it possibly feel like at Mach 2.5 in an F-15? Ferrari 308s and F-15s – these are the conveyances of free men. What do the Bolshevik automatons know of destiny and its control? What have we to fear from the barbarous Red hordes?

And like this:

… And rolling through the desert thus, I worked myself into a great patriotic frenzy, which culminated on the parapets of the Hoover Dam (even if that was kind of a socialistic project and built by the Roosevelt in the wheelchair and not by the good one who killed bears). With the Ferrari parked up atop that orgasmic arc of cement, doors flung open and Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” blasting into the night above the rush of a man-crafted Niagara and the crackle and the hum of mighty dynamos, I was uplifted, transported, ecstatic. A black man in a big, solid Eldorado pulled up next to us and got out to shake our hands. “You passed me this morning down in New Mexico,” he said. “And that sure is a beautiful car. …”.

Note that Mount Rushmore includes, along with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln: the Roosevelt who killed bears, Teddy Roosevelt, but not the Roosevelt in the wheelchair who presided over the Great Depression. No wonder Democrats are now saying they hate it.

I don’t know what P.J. O’Rourke is up to these days, so whether he had any direct input into Trump’s speech I have no idea. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But I’ll bet you anything that whatever combination of Trump and Trumpsters wrote Trump’s speech at the very least knew all about that O’Rourke piece. I’ll go further. I’ll bet Trump read that O’Rourke piece at some point in the 1980s, and remembered it, and said to his guys: “That’s what I want! Write me something like that!” And they did. Right up to the stuff about cars, and warships, and the Hoover Dam, and about how “there is nothing we can’t do”.

Even if you hate everything about P.J. O’Rourke and everything about Trump and if you especially hate Trump’s speech the other day, you surely may still be agreeing about the O’Rourke echoes I think I heard.

If I’m right, then this is a story which confirms something else I am fond of telling anyone who will listen, which is that all the people alive now will, in thirty or forty years time, either be thirty or forty years older, or dead. You can tell a lot about the world now, by asking what people in their teens and twenties were getting excited about, thirty or forty years ago. There will be more of that.

Of course, I loved Trump’s speech, just as I loved that P.J. O’Rourke Ferrari piece. God is a figment of the human imagination, but setting that quibble aside, may He Bless America.

A rush hour traffic jam!

Yesterday, late afternoon, in Vauxhall Bridge Road:

Okay, not the prettiest photos, either aesthetically or technically, that you’ll see today. But that’s not my point. My point is: London is now getting back to whatever it decides is going to be the new normal, and you can bet that the new normal will include rush hour traffic jams, whatever else turns out not to be present any more.

Poetic perfection in a reopening pub

Rebecca Day tweets:

I’ve spoken to regulars Chris and Jimmy. Jimmy hasn’t gone to bed after his night shift tarmacking the roads. He had a shower and came straight here. He described the taste of his first Carling as being like an ‘angel pissing on the tip of my tongue’.

In her original tweet, Rebecca Day put “p***ing” and “his” tongue, so I’ve restored what Jimmy said to its original state of perfection. You’re welcome.

One of the services this blog supplies to its regular readers is to pluck occasional pearls of perfection like that (or that (or that)) from the torrent of swine shit that is Twitter, or at any rate what Twitter seems to turn into for many people.

Friday creatures Twitter dump (1): Feral chickens

Friday is my day for celebrating and denouncing the various splendours and atrocities achieved and perpetrated by Mother Nature’s mobile creations, of the non-human sort. I’ve already done Antlerball (see below). But much other Twitter related creature news has been accumulating on my computer, and it’s time for another blog-and-forget-about-it session.

First off: Feral chickens in New Zealand. The tweet, and the story that the tweet linked to:

A New Zealand suburb has emerged from the country’s coronavirus lockdown to find it has been invaded by feral chickens.

Around 30 of the animals have made a home of Titirangi, a suburb of Auckland, while its 4,000 residents were staying in during the Covid-19 crisis.

Now, locals are demanding action against the birds – which they say are damaging the area and leaving their human neighbours sleep deprived with their early morning chorus.

“Some people really hate them,” said Greg Presland chair of the Waitākere Ranges community board, which has been tasked with addressing the problem.

So, tasty, and now also very annoying. They’re doomed I tell you.

I was going to do all of these creature tweets in one posting, but that would clearly get way too long. So, this is just (1) of … several.

On how I may now not resume buying classical music magazines

Every month for as long as I can remember, I’ve been buying paper copies of Gramophone and the BBC Music Magazine, “Music” being how the BBC refers to classical music.

All over my home, these magazines have accumulated in shelves and in heaps:

I haven’t had these magazines on order, because I don’t trust my neighbours not to let in burglars through the front door we all share, and because I like the exercise of actually walking to a shop and buying these magazines.

Which means that during the recent Plague, I’ve not been getting either of these magazines. The shops where I would have bought them have all been closed.

One of the many changes I am now contemplating in my life is: Not resuming buying these magazines. Are many people now contemplating a similar decision with regard to these or other such printed publications? Surely, they are. Are many people contemplating buying printed publications they do not now buy? I doubt this very much.

If “normal” ever returns, it will, for most of us, in big ways and in small ways, be a different normal, not least among those who publish the magazines like the ones in my photo. It’s not just the obvious ways in which we will remain nervous of the Plague returning, though that will definitely happen also. It’s that by being jolted into doing this for the first time, and not doing that any more, we are all now shedding old habits and being pushed towards acquiring different habits. I try to resist generalisations involving words like “we all now …”, but I really do think that the above generalisations are largely right. (You need only look at the recent numbers for postings here per month at this blog, on the left, to see this kind of thing happening to me and maybe therefore also for you.)

So, habits are being dropped, and acquired. And, are you, like me, and provoked by the above experiences, going beneath and beyond such changes of habit, and asking yourself: What other habits should I now decide to shed, and decide to acquire?

After all, and especially for the likes of me, life has just got shorter.

Civilised disagreement works better face-to-face (therefore cities have a future)

The present dose of Plague History we’re having has caused much pessimism concerning the future of big, densely packed cities. Being an enthusiast for big city architecture, especially the seriously big and eye-catching sort, I am now more than ever on the lookout for people saying things about why cities confer, and will continue to confer, an advantage upon all those who live and work in them.

So, I particularly noticed this Bo Winegard tweet, when I encountered just now:

It depresses me how quickly a person on twitter can go from disagreeing with you to cursing and insulting you. Strikes me that there’s probably an evolutionary mismatch because almost all of our interactions were face-to-face. People are much nicer when they have to look at you.

I think that captures a key advantage of face-to-face communication, which is that it makes it more likely that those face-to-face communicating are that bit more likely to do it like ladies and gentlemen rather that like loutesses and louts.

I think people on twitter shout, so to speak, partly because they can. But also, maybe, because they feel they have to, to get their point across. If you do one of those oh-so-gently meaningful and very politely phrased criticisms, on Twitter, or for that matter during a conference-at-a-distance, you are liable to fear that your point will get lost. Your iron fist will be completely smothered by the velvet gloves you chose to wear. Face-to-face, you can literally see and hear and feel your point getting across. Or not, in which case you can politely rephrase it.

Being able to disagree in a civilised manner, in a way that doesn’t leave lasting scars or permanent feuds, is fundamental to the successful functioning of any organisation.

My dad was a barrister, in American: a trial lawyer. British barristers are always careful to call each other “my learned friend”, and the more fiercely they are quarrelling, the more they are careful to scatter these words upon all the insults they trade. That always used to amuse me, when my dad talked about it. But an important point was embodied in such drollery, not least because dad often spelled it out explicitly. When arguing, be polite. The more fiercely you argue, the more important politeness becomes. Twitter seems to make that harder. Face-to-face communication makes it easier.

So, cities will survive. Face-to-face communication is now one of their core purposes.

Beatles statues in Liverpool

Sport returns to England, in the form of the Premier League, but with no spectators. Chelsea defeat Manchester City, and Liverpool are therefore the 2020 Champions.

Liverpool is very pleased about that:

The Liverpool Police, however, are not pleased.

I encountered the above photo here. I suppose that’s one way to learn about some statues for the first time.

These Beatles statues will surely not be vandalism by the BLMers, although if they decide to do this, I’m sure they’ll have no trouble cooking up an excuse. I mean, the Beatles surely did done some cultural appropriating of black music, aka performing it, that being what British sixties rock ‘n’ roll was all about. (The Rolling Stones definitely did.) And then, black Americans had a listen to the Beatles and culturally appropriated right back, often with results that delighted and amazed the Beatles. At the time, only racists objected to this to-ing-and fro-ing of music. Everyone else was very happy about it.

London Gateway sunrise

Four photos. Couldn’t decide, so …:

Here.

Hard to tell from those photos how many cranes there are yet at London Gateway. But in this photo I believe I see twelve. That being a photo of what they say is “the world’s biggest container ship” delivering its cargo of containers. It doesn’t look that big. I mean, not “world biggest” big. The fact it’s so wide is, I think, what is deceiving.

I’ll never know how these things don’t capsize when fully loaded. Presumably there is many tons of weight at the bottom of them, doing nothing but keeping them upright.

Sampson House and Ludgate House

Before everything went arse over tits up in the air into the melting pot and threw a spanner out of the frying pan into the pigeons, they were talking about a new London Thing Cluster, to go here:

Here being between Tate Modern and all the South Bank Music Things.

Here is what was still being reported early in May:

One of South London’s biggest landmark brutalist buildings is to be replaced by blocks of flats which will tower above the South Bank and Tate Modern on the Thames.

IBM’s former offices at Sampson House, on Hopton Street, Southwark, is being demolished to make way for Bankside Yards, one of the capital’s largest regeneration projects – with 1.4 million sq ft of shops, hotels and flats.

Developers Native Land have today announced they have appointed four British architectural practices to develop designs for four buildings within Eastern Yards, part of the £1billion Bankside Yards.

That “landmark” brutalist building, Sampson House, was duly demolished soon after that was written. I know this, because it was one of the things I was looking for on a walkabout I did on May 30th. (Next on my list that day was some statues – later I chanced upon this.) By then, Sampson House was gone.

Also gone, quite a while before then, Ludgate House.

Sampson House is really rather splendid, if you like that sort of thing, which I do in moderation. It was built in the late seventies. I don’t recall any big public fight to preserve it, and if that’s right, I am rather surprised, what with the row that erupted not long ago in aid of another landmark brutalist building.

Ludgate House, on the other hand, is a somewhat more anonymous product of the late eighties. By then, concrete exteriors were out and the era of totally glass exteriors was upon us. I think it looks pretty good, but only in a way that lots of other similar buildings do. I’ll somewhat miss it.

I went looking for photos of these two ex-buildings in my photo-archives. After much searching, I finally came upon this, photoed in August 2016:

On the left, Sampson House, and on the right, Ludgate House. Top right, you can just see the spikey top of 240 Blackfriars.

But I don’t think that even that photo was me truly photoing Sampson House and Ludgate House. I was photoing Strata, the Thing with the holes in the top. At the time, Sampson House and Ludgate House merely happened to be making the gap through which Strata could be seen, in the distance.

Here is another photo I took of Sampson House and Ludgate House:

That shows where they both were very well. But again, what I was photoing there was a fake photo of One Blackfriars, on the edge of the site where they were going to build it. Sampson House and Ludgate House just happened to be present. But I didn’t care about them, which is why they are leaning over. One Blackfriars is vertical. That’s what I was photoing.

Here are some more Sampson House and Ludgate House photos I’ve photoed over the years, in each case showing me concentrating on something else:

Photo 1: a strange bus; 2: a sign about One Blackfriars; 3: 240 Blackfriars from the top of the Tate Modern Extension: 4: Random reflections in One Blackfriars; 5: 240 Blackfriars, as seen from the south end of Blackfriars railway station, the one on the bridge; 6: A very blurry view of, well, London, through a window at the top of the Walkie-Talkie; 7: One Blackfriars takes shape, viewed from the Tate Extension; 8: Tate Modern photoed with maximum zoom from the top of the Shard.

As you can tell from this list, I was obsessed with One Blackfriars and 240 Blackfriars as I was indifferent to Sampson House and Ludgate House.

But another thing that always distracted me, whenever I was in the vicinity of these two buidings, was this:

So much more intriguing to photo and ponder, especially when they were making themselves useful.

Finally, also photoed on the 30th of last month, a recent addition to the Thing Cluste, rising up near where Sampson House used to be, …:

… in between 240 Blackfriars and One Blackfriars.

Will this cluster ever get finished in the near future, what with all the anti-urban disruption unleashed by You Know What? A different question, for a different posting.

Signs in Seattle

Here:

I agree with what Matthew Continetti says in this piece, which the above photo adorns, that this is froth. History as farce, Tom Wolf style. This “Seattle Soviet” is going nowhere. It’s “signs and notices”, to quote one of my more frequent categories here, rather than revolutionary architecture of any substance. That being why the above photo is the most informative one I have seen concerning these dramas.

As Kurt Schlichter (who his now being seriously noticed by his enemies) says, the important thing about this Seattle drama is the impact it has on the forthcoming Presidential election in November. Will Trump get the blame for it? Or will the local Democrat politicians? And by extension, the Democrats nationally? Schlichter says the Democrats will get the blame for this Seattle farce, this being why Trump is leaving the local Democrats to not deal with it, until America landslides in his favour. “Silent majority” and all that.

Schlichter combines partisan rhetoric way beyond the point of self-parody with very shrewd observations and analysis. I read him regularly. He is like one of those crazy American lawyers, who seems insane, yet who is taken very seriously, and for good reasons, by his enemies. And as I understand him, which is only a bit, this is because Schlichter is one of those crazy American lawyers, who seems insane, yet who is taken very seriously, and for good reasons, by his enemies.