Saturday, March 31, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment nineteen)


I had avoided Elendele’s bad turns for quite a lengthy chapter and her afterscent had duly dissipated. My only contact with the merry band of maladroits was at a party thrown by Maynard and Sleeping Terri. Unfortunately, it was only Cassius who lacked the good sense to ignore me.

Then, suddenly, Elendele had taken her incest public in the form of an advertisement in a glossy fashion magazine, featuring herself and Saturn in suggestive poses against the backdrop of a hot dog stand.

That Cassius had done it. He had gotten the magic eye focused on them. Now the troika could begin financing the ignoble venture of exploiting the abundant femininity in their possession and could continue to do so as long as he could manage to keep the eye’s attention.

Just after that, I got a call from Whitey McEntee. “Dominique,” he pried me, “whatever happened to that wonderful syndicalist with the curly hair you became friends with?”

“You mean the one that got you arrested?”

“Yeah, great girl.”

“Buccaneer strumpet.”


“Never mind. What’s up Whitey?”

“Well, ya see,” she shaded me, “we’ve got a little problem down at the Catholic Archdiocese and the solution calls for just her kind of action.”

The thought made me shudder. Elendele and churches just didn’t mix. What could he want with her except the worst kind of deed? I shut my eyes, closed her out and subcontracted the whole affair to Whitey. I gave him her number and stood aside.

It was being said, and was true, that I had gotten smarter.

This approach failed me, however. Elendele’s principles prevented her from teaming up with a working-class sellout like Whitey and he was back on the phone with me a week later.

“She’s a purist. You gotta help. You gotta get involved,” he begged. “What’s your price baby? Ya need some money? Ya wanta get one of those crazy gals a good tipping job down at Perinos?”

I collapsed. It all seemed kind of inevitable. “I’m gonna do this for you Whitey, but keep this avalanche to yourself. I don’t want to play a part in a one-act with a director like that.”

“This,” he crossed me, “ain’t a play baby and it ain’t no movie either. We’re talkin’ real time.”

I called Elendele by the phone and Saturn answered. There was still a sleepy lynx in her hello. She was glad to hear from me. Elendele wasn’t there. She had gone to Reno with Cassius to buy a luxury car cheap at a police auction there. And why hadn’t the seen me of late? And why hadn’t I come to any of their parties? She wanted to know.

“I had no idea there had been any parties,” I informed.

“Oh c’mon Dominique. Cassius has been throwing them here at our place. He’s trying to get us some more exposure, you know, meet some more people, and maybe make another break for us. He said he has been inviting you.”

“Oh those parties,” came the comebacker. “What do you mean another break? That shyster’s using your real estate and money to have parties and further himself.
What’s it all gotten you?”

Haven’t you seen this month’s READ magazine?” she tested. “The ad for the Japanese designer Miyaka next to the story about our eroding Bill of Rights?”

“No I haven’t seen it,” I lied, but that I would be sure to look and I would be sure to attend another party as soon as one was thrown, I said, sinning three times in sequence now.

Talking to her and thinking about all of them left a bushel of bitter almonds in my mouth. I was in a hurry to get off the phone and bid her a fair adieu.

“Dominique,” her voice crackled as I was about to release the receiver. I returned it to my ear. “I miss you. We miss you. I don’t think you understand this Cassius thing very well. You know Elendele, you know how she is. Flavor of the month.”

Last month’s vanilla, I said, “Yeah, but the flavor of Cassius…”

“You’re the one who said we needed an agent,” she reminded me anew. “Give her a call. You two run deeper than this.”

“And us?” I asked, uncomfortable and trying not to think about the curly menace.

“Us?” Oh we’re just playmates,” was how she sunk me.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Rich Girl, Poor Scribe

Are you relishing the thought of Paris Hilton going to jail?

Well don’t because she’s not and, according to this piece by David Cay Johnston of the New York Times News Service, she’d be laughing all the way there if she were.

Okay, that’s just a way for us to run a picture of Paris and deke all manner of celebrity swooners into accidentally visiting highwayscribery for a few seconds. But the bottom line is, and it’s no surprise if you’re truly suspicious of Republican Party politics, the gap between rich and poor is getting wider.

Johnston’s review of the newly released tax data showed, “that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.”

If you’re in that top 300,000, we’re not saying you’re some kind of bad person. We’re saying e-mail us, because there are a couple of film and book projects we’d like to chat with you about.

In other words, start the trickle down PLEASE!

For reasons too complicated to go into here (the scribe has a dental appointment), the disparity may even be greater.

Hurt by the charge its tax policies are elitist, the Bush administration dispatched Treasury Department spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin to put out the fire, but she instead added more fuel to it by noting, “the share of income taxes paid by lower income taxpayers will be lower than it would have been without the tax relief, while the share of income taxes for higher-income taxpayers will be higher.”

Now, the scribe is no tax policy wonk, but if the rich will be paying more in taxes and the poor less, that would be because, as the new figures ably attest to, the rich earned more and the poor earned less.

The essential economic theory behind cutting taxes for the rich and letting the middle class pick up the tab for debacles like the war in Iraq is that it will unleash their economic “dynamism;” the results of which will benefit all.

You be the judge (and voter).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sergeants Griffin and Allen

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Alhambra Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin Jr. of Alhambra, CA:

"Californians are forever grateful for Staff Sergeant Griffin's tremendous resolve in fighting for our country's cherished way of life. Darrell gave his life so that others may enjoy the same liberties Americans do. Maria and I pray for Darrell's family as they mourn their loss."

Griffin, 36, died March 21 as a result of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with small arms fire during combat operations in Balad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, WA.

In honor of Staff Sgt. Griffin, Capitol Flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Palmdale Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. John E. Allen of Palmdale, CA:

"Sergeant Allen's ceaseless determination to defend the liberties of Americans will not be forgotten. John has left his family with an honorable legacy of safeguarding the rights for which our nation stands. Maria and I extend our heartfelt condolences to this brave soldier's family, friends and loved ones."

Allen, 25, died March 17 as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Bliss, TX.

In honor of Sgt. Allen, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Film Nerd: "Marie Antoinette"

“Marie Antoinette” represents Sofia Coppola’s full acceptance as a bankable Hollywood director, with a budget, well, fit for a spoiled queen.

Coppola both wrote and directed “Marie” and for that reason we have something of a director’s script guiding the proceedings; heavy on sumptuous shots and rare locations, but somewhat turgid in the narrative department.

In fact, the scribe doesn’t know why the Coppola clan wouldn’t have wanted to produce his two screenplays, “Signs of Serenity” or “Fool For Love,” which were both bounced out of their Zoetrope screenplay contest with nary a howdy-do around the same time Sofia chose this particular project.

The story is initiated with Marie’s mother, Queen Maria Theresa of Austria, telling her a marriage has been arranged with the young Dauphin (re: prince) of France, Louis, who is destined to become number 16 in a rather unfortunate epoch for him.

It is a shock to see former Mick Jagger girlfriend, Marianne Faithful, play an overweight, dour and aged queen. the scribe still remembers a clip of her in the sixties, sleek as a swan, porcelain, trilling The Stones’ “As Tears Go By.”

Ah time.

The film takes us through Marie’s early shock at the ritualized and extravagant French court, the difficulties with getting Louis to have sex and the geopolitical pressure she endured to conceive.

This achieved, three times over, Marie finally finds her own clique of scandalous countesses and such who spend time with her in the village and palace of Le Petit Trianon; running around barefoot in Valentino dresses, their hair loose, watching the sun come up and doing things their spouses would hardly approve of.

There is never a moment when Marie, or the moviegoer, is provided with a little contrast about what’s going on beyond her magical land.

Lo-and-behold, and much to her surprise, Marie’s decadent existence has become the match to light the powder keg of revolutionary France, and after some back-and-forth’s about “being at the side of the King,” the last scene has the Queen watching the landscape of Royal Versailles pass by her coach window and telling Louis, “saying goodbye.”

Her subsequent detention at the Tuileries and final beheading before a Parision mob are not mentioned even as post script before the credits.

Based on the novel, “Marie Antoinette, The Journey” by Antonia Fraser, Coppola’s film attempts to flesh out the best in the sprightly queen, her youth and playfulness, her surrender to close confidantes in pleasure.

A “costumer” if ever one were made, the director’s camera lingers long on the sprawling lawns and neoclassical gazebos of her peculiar and enchanted domain only to be chopped up with music-video pacing.

Ceremony, pomp and circumstance all appear to have been researched and painstakingly recreated as the film moves from one pretty 18th Century tableaux vivant to another.

That is the “Marie’s” triumph, which, alas, does not extend to the overall pacing and story which seem stuck and suspended in the time of indulgence, treating historical verities with expository mention in the mouths of its characters, but failing to convey the high-stakes passions and drama that were a part of this fascinating chapter of French history.

The soundtrack alternates between minuets plinked out on a harpsichord and pop tracks from ’80s bands like Bow Wow Wow, The Cure, Gang of Four, New Order, and Adam and the Ants. the scribe just doesn’t think this attempt at setting up the Queen and her court as precursors to the modern punks works, but it may very well have played to Ms. Dunst’s fans and loaded the Copolla coffers.

We don’t do box office receipts at highwayscribery.

Rather than picking one thread as a way of conveying many things, many things are instead glossed over for the sake of historical correctness, but nothing truly revealed. Louis XV’s relationship to Madame DuBarry is reduced to a tiff over whether Marie says “hello” to her at court, or not, and then DuBarry is gone. The Queen, “the Austrian,” is subject to the two-faced disdains of courtiers and ladies-in-waiting until one day, she gets up and claps at the opera.

Although inappropriate, everybody slowly follows suit, signaling her newfound influence at Versailles, without a prior example of how Marie might be winning over the stuffy, malicious bunch.

Kirsten Dunst is Marie and it is safe to say she rose to the level of her own mediocrity here; reveling in the kind of behavior in front of the camera that is merely a continuation of her own life, lending no gravity whatsoever to the role, playing the girl raised in a Central European court as a cheeky California girl out for a good time only.

Jason Schwarzman is also miscast as Louis XVI; like Dunst, too contemporary in appearance and projection to render even the shadow of a king trapped in one of history great dramas.

Maybe their understated (shallow?) performances were delivered by design in an attempt to accent the fact they were “too young to govern,” as she notes upon their mutual coronation.

But it’s a little hard to tell.

Monday, March 26, 2007

"Vito Says..."

Today, we look to the past for a glimpse of what the present looks like to us, returning with an installation of “Vito Says...” on matters pertaining to civil rights.

Vito Marcantonio was an extreme champion of civil rights, defending W.E.B. Dubois in one case, and the Communist Party of the United States in another, at the height of the cold war Red Scare days.

“Vito Says...” was developed when the highway scribe was reading “Vito Marcantonio: Debates, Speeches and Writings 1935-1950,” and noticed a shocking similarity between some of the big questions of those days and those of today.

The impetus for today’s review of Marcantonio’s congressional speeches is the news, which came out last week, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had abused the already abusive powers granted them in the Patriot Act, by issuing 140,000 “national security letters” between 2003 and 2005.

These letters relieve law enforcement of the necessity to get approval for obtaining “electronic records,” which is where your whole life is stored, without the approval of a judge. Originally, you had to be suspected of something for such a letter to be issued.

After 9/11, the same senators now railing against its abuses obliged the Bush administration’s request to pass The Patriot Act, which removed the necessity you be suspected of doing something for a letter to be issued. So long as the WAR ON TERROR is raged, being at the same party as some sketchy character will be enough to make one “relevant” to a terrorism case.

the scribe first heard about these letters while sitting on an airplane in front of two beefy, mustachioed, neck-tied, conservative business-types.

The jist of their conversation was that each had received such a letter requesting information on people they worked for and did business with. They thought the cost of complying was unfair, said it had disrupted their ability to wage commerce, and wound things up with some good old-fashioned American sentiment on personal freedom.

It was on that flight, after that conversation, the scribe realized politics was shifting in the country.

Apparently, these two gents didn’t give a hoot-and-holler about the gag order accompanying the letters, but last Thursday, the “Washington Post,” ran an anonymous Op-ed written by a businessman who did.

He was president of small Internet access and consulting business. You remember the Internet don’t you? It’s where these ideas and arguments are posted. They wanted to know about one of his clients. You, it should be pointed out, are a “client” of somebody like this.

He thought the FBI was abusing its power, contacted the American Civil Liberties Union and filed a suit rooted in constitutional challenges. The FBI gave up, but the gag order persists for reasons, naturally, of national security.

“Living under the gag order has been stressful and unreal,” writes this man obligated by government caveat to conceal his own identity. “Under the threat of criminal prosecution, I must hide all aspects of my involvement in the case – including the mere fact that I received [a letter] – from my colleagues, my family and friends. When I meet with my attorneys I cannot tell my girlfriend where I am going or where I have been. I hide any papers related to the case in a place where she will not look. When clients and friends ask me whether I am the one challenging the constitutionality of the statute, I have no choice but to look them in the eye and lie.”

Does that sound like life in a 200-plus year-old venerable democracy or East Germany in a John LeCarre novel?

“C’mon scribe, we’re at war with Islamo-Fascists whose values are completely contrary to ours, a bunch of fanatics who hate our freedom and want to destroy our way of life!”

highwayscribery would argue that in the matter of national security letters, and The Patriot Act in general, the Islamo-Fascists have made progress.

On July 30, 1940, Vito Marcantonio took to the radio to denounce legislation signed by President Truman requiring all foreigners over the age of 14 to register their presence at the nearest post office. It was the eve of World War II, communism was surging internationally and so was Fascism.

Vito says: “In a period as trying as this the test of democracy lies in the ability of that democracy to maintain its liberties and to have more freedom rather than less freedom. The test of a democracy lies in its ability preserve its institutions.”

The anonymous gentleman in “The Post,” resented his “conscription” as a secret informer for the government, and said the gag orders were pernicious given that those who suspected the FBI of abuse could say nothing without being tossed in jail.

“At some point,” he concluded, “the secrecy becomes a threat to our democracy.”

Vito could not have agreed more:

“I submit that the best way to preserve the American way of life is to preserve our liberties. American democracy can live only by letting it live. Limiting it will not permit it to live. It will choke and kill it. Only by strict adherence to the Declaration of Independence, only by strict adherence to the Bill of Rights, only by the militant and vigilant realization that there are no ‘ifs and that there are no ‘buts’ to these great principles of our country, can we successfully defend our American way of life.”

You might say: “So what, Marcantonio was the was the sole congressional representative of the American Labor Party (ALP) - a communist front cooked up by New York unions to channel votes FDR’s way.”

Vito might say you were using, “the red herring to conceal the lack of pork chops.”

But the scribe would tell you that, for one, Marc was not always alone in Congress, joined for a time by ALP counterpart Leo Isacson; and that two, the “Los Angeles Times,” has just published an editorial issuing a general cry for a “reigning in” Patriot Act abuses, which is not the same thing Vito says, but is certainly “relevant” to it.

At a time when the administration has chosen to escalate the war in Iraq in spite of a solid public opinion to contrary, it is important we help clarify the mission, which is/was the creation of democracy in Iraq (among others).

Vito Says: “The best demonstration of our sincerity to extend democracy all over the world is for us to extend it now, before the war is over, to everyone within our own borders.”

You see, everything that is old, is new again.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

"The Liquid Life"

"The Liquid Life" will make its usual Sunday appearance next weekend.


highwayscribery loves Nancy Pelosi.

Yes, "loves," like deep and passionate grab-you-by-the-back-of-the-head and plant kisses on your winning smile and sweet and sensitive eyes "loves."

As per usual, under-remarked and understated in the mainstream media, yesterday's vote tying war funding to a timetable for withdrawal represents something of a watershed moment in both the life of the Democratic Party and the history of the country.

As long as the scribe has followed the exciting game of American politics he has never seen this impossible holding company of varied interests and initiatives known as the Democratic Party get together twice in a month's time to stand up on its own metaphorical two feet and lean on its backbone.

The Republican playbook is the same it has been for decades: Hurl accusations of weakness on defense, betrayal of the troops, undermining the military leadership, hamstringing the COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF... But for once the maddening, often goofy and embarrassing Democrats found the courage (with a couple of pork servings) to stand up to the (p)resident and give the American people's wishes a policy component.

And it is Nancy Pelosi who made it happen; who seized a moment in which the Democratic Party was preparing for its habitual fraying and held it together with a plan possessing powerful symbolic impact and practical manifestations.

(w), of course, is shocked, shocked, that anyone would deign to "substitute their judgement for that of our military leaders..."

The remark is telling (if any more telling is necessary). Bush does not believe the people of the United States have a hand in directing the nation's foreign or domestic affairs. That is for he and those whom he chooses based on their mediocrity and unwavering obedience to him.


Eat it Mr. (p)resident. The people said they wanted "out" in November, not "more," not a "change in strategy." They said "out."

You can veto the measure, but that will leave you without any money to continue your misadventure and that's because Article I Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution says that Congress "shall have the power to declare war, grant letter of marque and reprisal and make rules concerning captures on land and water. To raise and support Armies, but no appropriation of money for that use shall be for a longer than two years..." (and a couple of other closely related duties).

You see, it's not all about you, despite your spoiled upbringing and frat boy mentality.

There was something utterly encouraging and delicious about watching Bush scowl and carp on the evening news only to be followed up by a clip of Pelosi, fetching in her brilliance and person, simply restating the sentence dictated by the American people in November.

These are exciting times for Democrats and hence for the country. The conservative surge has alienated moderate Republicans and independents into switching teams. A recent poll has Democrats holding a 15 percent lead where sworn allegiance is concerned.

And why not? Is there not something engaging about a party that is offering up a black man and a woman as its two presidential frontrunners? How will the Republicans, once they coalesce around the aging and vacillating John McCain, compete?

How will they match the star power and intellectual heft of elder party statesmen like Al Gore and Jimmy Carter with the likes of Newt Gingrich who is busy confessing to the fact of an extra-marital affair while he was engineering Bill Clinton's impeachment?

The Democrats have the fresh faces and the allegiance of the many who have fallen below the line in the great globalization shakeout. The Republicans wanted to divide the country and succeeded. Problem is they left the other side with a majority of angry voters seeking redress.

And worse for them, in Ms. Pelosi, the Dems have found the perfect person to lead them.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Al" the Way Home

the highway scribe back after having taken a few days off.

Truth be told, nobody seems to notice and to be even more blunt, it would appear highwayscribery is visited more by folks responding to bits and snips of news generated by RSS feeds (don’t ask) than by regular fans.

Does this upset the highway scribe?

Not a wit. The beauty of blogging is just how unimportant it is - A Casual Affair.

Anyway, the editorial board got together and decided to drum up a post on highwayscribery favorite Al Gore.

The former veep’s life has taken a surprising, and well-deserved turn for the better. A film featuring his ideas and profile won an Academy Award a few weeks ago and Gore has also been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Highwayscribery noted this, and predicted you wouldn’t hear too much about it from a mainstream media never much sympathetic to this sympathetic man.

(Editorial note: We don’t know Al Gore personally, which just read about him like the rest of you and came to the conclusion he is sympathetic).

The “New York Times” just did a piece on Gore’s reincarnation as a “recovering politician,” which we were going to riff on, but then got lazy and decided not to.

“Almost everywhere he goes these days,” the kindly written article noted, “Mr. Gore is met with the fuss of a statesman. His hair is slicked back in a way that accentuates the new fullness of his face. At the hotel, Mr. Gore’s perma-smile folded his narrow eyes into slits as he milled his way into a ballroom. Afterward, he accepted his customary standing ovation, slipped out a back door and into the back of a Lincoln Town Car, looking almost presidential.”

Instead, the editorial board settled in and watched some of Gore’s testimony before Congress over what (w) calls “the Internets.”

Al, as is oft-observed by the big boys, is thicker in the face and waist, grayer in the scalp, and eminently more comfortable with himself than in the days when fulfilling his father, Al senior’s, dream that he be president weighed so heavily.

Gore was in a delightful position upon his return to a city where he was never much appreciated to begin with. Few in life are blessed with revisiting a place from which they have been banished and dubbed pariah. And even fewer return the object of adulation and sought out as an authority on saving the planet from flooding and burning up.

And few in America have been capable of bridging the gap between intellectual life and pop culture the way “the Goracle” has.

Confession: highwayscribery does not get particularly hot-and-bothered about global warming. Scroll through the past two years of blog posts and you will find exactly one - that’s right - one post on the matter, and that’s because it involved none other than Al Gore.

That’s not because the scribe finds the matter unimportant, it certainly is. And it’s not because the scribe doesn’t believe it’s happening; it’s a risky luxury to do otherwise.

It’s just that global warming is not where the scribe and politics naturally intersect. Anarcho-Syndical in bent, highwayscribery is most concerned with the battle for social justice as it is waged in the workplace by organized and enlightened workers.

But the scribe digresses. This post is really about the hearings yesterday where Gore had the easy demeanor of guy with something on the rest of his former congressional colleagues in that he can do TWO things; the second developed out in the real world and away from the clubby confines of our elected representatives.

Oh, he had to know (r)epublicans would be chafing at being in the minority, and writhing at the comparison between the guy they put up to lead their party (and the country) and the guy who lost, but ended up the real “winner.”

Dennis Hastert tried to demean Gore with observation that he was now “a personality and a movie star.”

Which, of course, is nowhere near as cool as being a crook and a liar who protects colleagues that prey on page boys, because every vote in unquestioningly forwarding the (p)resident’s misguided agenda is crucial.

And then there was the testimony of Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma (r). We scribble “testimony” because even though it was Gore who was supposed to be answering questions and Inhofe asking them, the senator decided to do both.

At least Until Barbara Boxer waved her gavel in the former committee chair’s face and said, “I make the rules now. Elections have consequences.”

Inhofe used to chair the Senate Environment and Whatchamacallit Committee and made no secret of his disdain for the idea that greenhouse gas emissions are chewing up the ozone cap in our atmosphere.

It was painfully clear he couldn’t wait for his big “global warming smackdown” with a guy 100-times more intelligent than he, because Inhofe acted more like a small town alderman than a U.S. Senator.

He lacked graciousness, manners, and, worse, facts. Maybe Sen. John Warner (R) of Virginia can take Inhofe out for lunch in Georgetown and give him a few pointers on statesmanship.

At one point, Inhofe wanted to know why “you guys” never talk about when it gets really cold and then showed a picture of some icicles in Buffalo, NY for Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D) benefit.

the scribe is no expert on global warming. But in his real job he’s written a number of related articles and asked the same question of a technocrat (without the “you guys” part) some 15 years ago. He was promptly informed that global warming heats up the world, but at the same time, destabilizes weather patterns and leads to extremes in temperature and other atmospherics.

It was disappointing news, but made sense.

How is it that a guy who chaired the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee never came across this basic information? And why don’t you call Inhofe at (202) 224-4721 and, using language far more gracious than he is capable of, ask him?

Years of congressional experience in his right pants pocket, Gore easily evaded the inferior man’s attacks, getting his message out, and cagily recognizing the Senate hearing gambits designed to discombobulate and distract the usual deer in the headlights summoned before THE GREAT MEN.

What the scribe means to say is that Al chewed Inhofe, Hastert, and the other yahoos, up and spit them out, largely because he seemingly could care less what his detractors say after all these years. He has, in two words, "moved on"(.org).

Ever lacking in imagination, the national media can only focus on the bland question of whether Gore’s running for president or not. The aforementioned “New York Times” article noted that:

“Friends say Mr. Gore is content to be an evangelist for the world rather than a candidate for office. Hassan Nemazee, a Gore fund-raiser in 2000 and a friend of Mr. Gore and his wife, Tipper, was host of a dinner for them last fall, and recalled that Mr. Gore expressed his disdain for the ‘tomfoolery of politics’ — the endless fund-raising, the repetitive glad-handing, the sniping among operatives.

And the scribe hopes that’s true. It’s more fun watching Al having fun being Al.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Pasadena Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Adam J. Rosema of Pasadena, CA:

"Specialist Rosema fought for our country with tremendous resolve. Adam's extraordinary dedication exemplified the loyalty and honor that makes our nation great. Maria and I offer our thoughts and prayers to Adam's family during this difficult time."

Rosema, 27, died March 14 as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during recovery operations south of Baqubah, Iraq. He was assigned to the 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, TX.

In honor of Spc. Rosema, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of San Diego Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Stephen M. Kowalczyk of San Diego, CA:

"Specialist Kowalczyk's noble efforts to help preserve freedom and democracy will not be forgotten. Stephen's courageous patriotism is an inspiration to all Californians. Maria and I offer our deepest condolences to Stephen's family and loved ones during this difficult time."

Kowalczyk, 32, died March 14 as a result of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire in Muqdadiyah, Iraq. He was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, TX.

In honor of Spc. Kowalczyk, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Steven M. Chavez of Hondo, NM:

"Our nation's troops courageously dedicate themselves to preserving our country's liberties. Lance Corporal Chavez valiantly battled to keep our way of life a beacon of hope for all who seek freedom. Maria and I offer our sincere condolences to Steven's family and loved ones."

Chavez, 20, died March 14 as a result of injuries sustained from a non-hostile incident in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Lance Cpl. Chavez, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Bakersfield Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Pfc. Alberto Garcia Jr. of Bakersfield, CA:

"Private First Class Garcia lost his life in his pursuit to deliver freedom to the oppressed. Alberto honorably served our nation with bravery and selflessness. Maria and I pray for Alberto's family, friends and fellow soldiers as they mourn the loss of a loved one."

Garcia, 23, died March 13 as a result of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire and an improvised explosive device in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

In honor of Pfc. Garcia, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment eighteen)


Gina Night had a fear for the world. She talked about the end of nature, the dirtying up of everything. To Gina the planet had broken up into a medieval mix of little armies and thrift land parcels.

“Gangs and their guns, terrorists and their guns, hunters and their guns, police and their guns, drug kings and their little armies, corporations and their big ones. Sometimes they’re more scary than the government,” was the tune to her favorite elegy for some time gone by that I doubt she ever knew.

“My world has changed so much I don’t what my world is anymore,” she had observed on occasions elegant and distant from the realties with which she was concerned. It was all the newspaper’s fault. Reading it was something she’d picked up hanging about the salon. But those days were no longer haunting her though, and the habit slowly melted away. She’d always preferred records to the printed word.

Cortez took her to a movie. “I couldn’t believe it. She watched it like a child, like the story was the thing. Like it really happened and she was viewing it all through an anonymous window. It’s not an art form produced by camera for her,” he mused over his Bustelo and steamed milk, “to her it’s a thing that really happens each time it’s rerun.”

All of this made her seal a world that was tighter than an oyster shell, into which only a few pearls were invited. She didn’t go out because she understood what awaited her. I felt the same way. I should have asked her to marry and move to Mexico and live it for what it was worth. But my mind was on a long walk in the wilds.

One night Gina and I were watching videos, sharing German chocolate and sour creams, when we heard the picking sound of the lock on our door and before we could move a tall man in a fedora trundled into the kitchen carrying a bloody pile over his shoulder.

“Jesus Christ, help with this idiot,” he graveled and threw his burden on Gina Night’s café au lait-covered modular.

“Popi, my divano! she trilled.

“It’s my divano and I’ll crap on it if I want to!” he said and then turned and fixed on her with terror. “I’m sorry sweetheart. I didn’t mean that. Really. I’m sorry,” and he kissed her hand and loved her like no man was ever going to be able to love her.

“Popi, this is Dominique.”

He shook my hand and I told him. “Honestly, this is a great, goddamn incredible pleasure, sir.”

“The same goes here,” he said, cordial, but preoccupied and focused on his turning
to her.

“Your cousin Joey’s been rumbling with Jimmy Santinello’s kid,” he tells the opera girl. “Him and one of his classy friends beat the Santinello boy up so bad the police weren’t sure who he was when they pulled him out of a dry creek bed.

Santinello’s boys were stomping Joey’s face for a pound a flesh when I saved his ass. I’m hiding him here for the night.”

“Oh Popi please don’t bring your world in here…”

“Sweetheart please, he’s not much, but he’s family,” he stroked her. “You don’t mind do ya Dominique?”

He was calling in his chips with me and I shrugged. History was cranking up her wheels of speed and Gina and I were about to get ground in the gears.

Two men knocked on the door with the butt of a gun at 4 a.m. and woke Joey and Gina up. “Your father wants ta move de both a you to a safer place,” is what they said. I was groggy and it was dark. The shadows moved on walls and mirrors like an army of people instead of just four. She kissed me more richly than ever before, grabbing at a bunch of lost things. She grabbed a fist of my hair and twisted, shook and pushed my head into the pillow in a desperation that had no other way to be. “Ooooh,” escaped her and reached me, just before she went away.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Two More

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Winchester Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Webb of Winchester, CA:

"Staff Sergeant Webb's bravery exemplified the patriotism that makes freedom possible for all Americans. Christopher's sacrifice for our country is a somber reminder of the tremendous cost of our liberties. Maria and I extend our sympathies to Christopher's family and friends during this difficult time."

Webb, 28, died March 7 as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, TX.

In honor of Staff Sgt. Webb, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Twentynine Palms Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Nathanial D. Windsor of Scappoose, OR:

"Maria and I offer our prayers for Lance Corporal Windsor's family, friends and loved ones. This brave Marine went beyond the call of duty and gave his life for our nation. Nathanial's sacrifice is a model of ultimate selflessness for all Californians."

Windsor, 20, died March 13 as a result of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, CA.

In honor of Lance Cpl. Windsor, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Vito Says: "Pass the Card Check Labor Law!"

Today we begin a new feature here at highwayscribery called, “Vito Says.”

You will remember (or not) a few weeks ago highwayscribery posted its pitch to African-American media for a story on the obscure Congressman from the 1930s and ’40s, Vito Marcantonio, given that it was Black History Month.

(That’s him, with the fedora hat, down at the dockworkers union during a strike on the New York waterfront).

the scribe, ostensibly, sold that story although he’s yet to see either check or tear-sheet, but that’s not your problem.

Anyway, what the scribe found most intriguing about reading “Vito Marcantonio: Debates, Speeches and Writings,” was how many of the issues “Marc” found himself battling in those long-ago times are still vital today.

His quit wit, unaffected oratory, and Manhattan passion all impressed the scribe who thought it would be interesting to give some of today’s questions, “The Vito Treatment.”

No, not a Mafia movie, but an application of his words to 21st century issues. In this way highwayscribery could continue its rehabilitation of a forgotten progressive icon and shed a little historical light on present-day political matters.


Vito Says: “[The gentleman from North Carolina, Rep. Barden] states that I press the class struggle. I have not put the class struggle into existence. As long as man can exploit his fellow man and exploit his labor, there is a struggle, and all we seek in a democracy is equality in bargaining. We seek genuine, collective bargaining in the light of that struggle. You cannot talk of equality under the law unless it is implemented with economic security. Anatole France once said: “The law in all of its majestic equality forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, beg on streets and steal their bread from shop windows.”

It is hard to imagine any Democrat taking up labor’s cudgel’s in that way on the floor of today’s House, but Marc, although he won primaries for both the Democratic and Republican parties, considered himself a member of the now departed American Labor Party.

Nonetheless, the newly-elected Democratic majority in the House of Representatives just passed a law empowering American workers to organize unions through a simple “card check” procedure instead of through a secret-ballot process overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.

Two days ago, the “Washington Post” expressed its disagreement with measure, saying it “would make it far easier for unions to organize.”


The “Post” correctly pointed out that the measure has little chance of getting past an inevitable (r)epublican filibuster or geo. w. bsh’s desk.

“That is a good thing,” the unsigned editorial states, “the Employee Free Choice Act would take a playing field tilted too far in the direction of employers and tip it way back in the other direction.”

Vito says: “Collective bargaining means what? It means equality in bargaining for both sides.”

For those not indoctrinated, a card check process would allow employees to unionize in a less expensive, less officious, and more open way. As things go now, there are all manner of legal hurdles and prohibitions to the natural politicking that comes with any campaign, let alone one to form a union.

Over the years, employers, and the “consultants” they pay piles of money to keep the House of Labor out of their business establishments, have grown adept at mining the legal treasure trove of measures bequeathed them largely by the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947.

Unions want the card check because they are tired of working for unionization through a process that diminishes or wipes out their victories altogether. They assert that when workers meeting to sign cards in favor of a union that bargains collectively for their wages and workplace rights, they fare much better than under the current conditions.

Fair enough right?

Well, the “Post,” while professing its dissatisfaction with the status quo, is pretty good at stating the employers’ side of things, noting, “employees who are skeptical of or opposed to bringing a union into the workplace deserve the protections of a secret-ballot election rather than having to face pressures from colleagues pushing them to sign unionization cards.”

But what about protection from intimidation by the boss? Back after Taft-Hartley was passed Vito said: “Working men and women are once again feeling the terror and intimidation that is so frequently the constant companion of those millions of Americans who work in factory and mill and mine. The degrading attitude toward working people that so long marked American employer-employee relations is once again returning to the plants. And the Taft-Hartley Act has brought it back.”

(This guy kicked-ass)!

The “Post” says, “the card-check arrangement would give labor too much power to spring unions on employers,” but the bottom line is that employers spring unions upon themselves. Where there is good pay, democratic rules, and dignified treatment, a combative union can hardly take root.

You cannot read an article about American labor in today’s mainstream media without the causes of, “globalization, upward mobility of workers, decentralization of the workplace” and a whole slew of other empty-headed concepts being listed.

In reality, it was the passing of Taft-Hartley that sowed the seeds of labor’s demise in this country.

the highway scribe has covered the union movement, both here and abroad, for a long time and the union movement is capable of many bone-headed, repressive, dinosaur-era moves. But for all that, organizing labor syndicates has undisputedly increased the freedoms and filled the empty pockets of workers worldwide.

Vito says: “You cannot have free America without free labor unions; you cannot have free labor unions when you deprive the American labor unions of their fundamental rights...”

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cheney Out the Side of His Mouth

The (un)popular visual characterization of Vice President Dick Cheney is that of a man who talks out the side of his mouth (see photo left).

It must be so Cheney can hear himself speak, because he has nothing new to say to the rest of us.

Cheney gave a BIG SPEECH this morning rehashing arguments about Iraq long proven wrong by reality on the ground and rife with Ann Coulter-ish insinuations about those whose opinions differ from his - which is just about everybody.

Of course, Cheney’s out there on the “bully” pulpit (his natural habitat) in response to week-long speculation about whether he should resign, given the conviction of his former chief of staff for carrying out his boss’s orders and then lying to hide the fact.

Of course he should and, of course, he won’t, because the hallmark of the Bush administration is a noxious combination of shamelessness and disdain for the people whom it was hired (sort of) to govern.

The administration’s rhetoric reduces elections to “polls,” which of course it does not heed, unless it can brandish them for purposes usually tied to violence and the concomitant profiteering of their friends in the oil services and construction industries.

Cheney’s BIG SPEECH accused “anti-war” Democrats of undermining the troops with their legislation tying safety, results, and timetables for withdrawal to the next $100 billion the administration wants for its colossal blunder.

Cheney throws “anti-war” around the way he does “terrorist” and it’s clear he doesn’t distinguish between the two any more than he distinguished the attacks of 9/11 from the literary exploits of Saddam Hussein.

“When members of Congress pursue an anti-war strategy, that’s been called ‘slow bleeding’,” he told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, “they are not supporting the troops, they are undermining them.”

And he ought to know, because he was the co-architect of a strategy that tried to win a war with too few troops riding around in cardboard Humvees, and which sent the wounded soldiers he supports to be (mis)treated in bureaucratic dumps, by bureaucratic lumps.

“When [Congress] members speak not of victory but of time limits, deadlines and other arbitrary measures, they are telling the enemy simply to watch the clock and wait us out,” he thundered.

As Winston Churchill once said after Calvin Coolidge would not forgive American loans to Great Britain for costs associated with World War I because, “they hired the money didn’t they?”:

“That is a correct, but not exhaustive analysis.”

What the scribe means to say is that it was Cheney and men of his ilk who lied about why we needed to declare preemptive war, who confused their illusions with the reality of a land racked by religious hatreds, and whom substituted the power of the gun for that of the mind and sensitive soul.

They set the poor foundation for a democracy that can never, and will never, be built, and we need not sacrifice anymore of our country’s wealth in money, men, and women, to their bad idea.

It’s been four years now, but go to highwayscribery ally Kiko’s House where Shaun Mullen, a one-time supporter of the war, has composed a colorful and brief word collage that sums things up beautifully.

Or read Anthony Shadid’s appreciation in the “Washington Post” of a gentle Iraqi bookseller who died over the weekend. We know only too well the price in lives of our countrymen, but the damage to those we liberated is an underwritten story.

Cheney might have made one of the administration’s “surprise” visits to Iraq (the only kind permitted by the security situation) and had a chat with poor Mohammad Hayawi. He might have purchased a tome or two of local literature and history from his now incinerated store.

But Cheney doesn’t read books. Like Oscar Wilde’s character Lord Henry Wotton, in “The Portrait of Dorian Gray,” he instead, “talks them away;” to himself and anybody directly to the right side of his twisted mouth.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment seventeen)


Elendele’d hit me without having had the decency to put on a glove. When my nose was again cleaned, I decided to get away from the whole dishonest, self-absorbed bunch of knights in tarnished armor.

Prince-like, I had banished myself from the world of feelings and sensitivity.
I decided to use my own apartment again once my manager decided he remembered me and let me through the security gate. I needed a trailer to stuff all that was mine, which had found its way over to the salon. There, Cassius moved center stage as I was blinded by his light; confused yet understanding of what he called “his power.”

I’d had keys of course, but had lost them at Elendele’s house after we’d swam ourselves all night in plum wine and a very thick book on state-snuffed American progressives. When I arrived at the portal, light tracked through at the door and I had some fear seconds. But then a robin’s ode in bel canto form slipped out from under the same crack.

I knocked on the door and Gina Night opened it and asked, quite seriously, “What are you doing here?”

After I’d reminded her it was my apartment she let me in. We never got to talking about her presence because she immediately ripped me about my “Medea” recording in which Anna Moffo was soprano. “It’s amazing she got that far,” she decreed, “singing with her head instead of her diaphragm like this…” hitting the keys of her inner trumpet, until a neighbor grabbed his shoe and thumped it, several times on his floor.

At sleeptime Gina refused to take the couch, but kept a separate blanket for herself in our bed. Every evening she would short my simmering circuit with long talks about the end of order and the corresponding disappearance of the gentleman. She was an eighteenth century girl completely out of her time.

“Everything is moving so fast now Eufemia,” she once told an indigo friend-for-lunch, “there no cadence, no artistry to their advances. Everybody’s chasing a jet plane. It’s a world of sprinters with just a few long-distance dancers left. A world without stopping.”

“I love not stopping,” entered Eufemia, who was a friend of a friend of Elendele’s.

Gina’s father was still strong in her thoughts. By having the shrewdness in relenting to her demands for a music school education, he had avoided the battle for her mind with the inevitable, radical college professor. She was less free, but more sure of who she was, because she hadn’t seen fit to alter her ego.

Gina felt she should be able to stay without having to sleep with me, especially since she’d got an architectural magazine to include my place in a photo spread it was doing on urban cave dwellers. I had to agree. Things looked great: plants exploding green ecologies, lace chantilly slightly burned at the point of contact with the lighting fixtures over which she had draped them. The seven speakers spread throughout the place so she could sing along with the rare collections her adoring father had regaled her in.

Gina Night was nice in her prime skin suit, and yet, slowly the thrill to paw passed. I was sick of women, even good ones. I was in a protective stance and dying for a friend to help fill the hole Cassius had just blown through my world of chill sensation.

She glided over the place in a healthy vapor. She was always having fun and didn’t mind if I was there to help her enjoy it. Gina played, for me, records when she really wanted to hear her favorite “Rigoletto,” featuring a young Tito Gobbi. She was teaching me that. Teaching me how to think about the other person.

She – her dad – helped me find a job at a small fashion magazine downtown. I was overqualified, but desperate for work, a rock upon which to cling until the tidal waves of loneliness subsided. She bought me a new wardrobe with his credit card that included pointy Italian shoes. Then she worked out a debt-for-rent reduction arrangement that could not hurt me. She was generous of herself and her things and made little of it publicly or privately.

I worked overtime on a series of freelance articles outlining the pattern of systematic abuse of minorities and actresses in unemployment insurance dispensation.

My new editors lauded the lucid freshness of my work, in particular the high-minded social commentary my pen/sword swung. I railed against the little institutions that are the real enemy of the common people. A crooked realtor fell with a slash from me on their tenements and their noble contribution to rat housing in the city.

I laid bare the fascist leanings of a religious group that had harassed some of the finer porn shops in town. I led a crusade to legally enjoin fundamentalists from blocking the entrances of low-cost abortion clinics, for the young girls who drape veils over identities better left unknown.

But the truth was my writing was drunk and withdrawing on Elendele. She was choking me, even from a distance, bringing the very issue of originality in my own thought into question. Was I merely a megaphone for her ideas? Was that a bad thing when the muse might be right? What could I have to say that was stronger than her ardor for changing this and that?

It didn’t matter. Not as long as she was in the closet of my life, some friend of some other me.

“I love Elendele,” Gina told me one night, “but that doesn’t mean I can’t advise you to stay away from her. Why take such a big gulp of life when it can be so delicious in sips?”

“What is it about Cassius that has her so fired?” I asked her and she said it had nothing to do with me or Cassius; that it was all in Elendele’s head. “Oh, I’d be surprised if she didn’t call again,” said the girl from the school of the crystal ball.

“But I don’t understand it. Cassius is mean to her. At least that’s what you say. You say that he’s mean to every woman he knows.”

“No one loves a woman like a misogynist,” she posited.

Some months after we had our joint system up and running, a colleague invited me down to a party being thrown in celebration of a French design company’s big profit year at some extravagant staying place on hills that stuck themselves out into the ocean. He told me the waitresses there were chosen for their qualities of blondeness and then draped in white chemise. I asked Gina to come along, partly because I wanted to take her there and enjoy it with her, and partly because I knew she’d probably get out her dad’s credit card when it came time to pay for some of the pricey extras available.

Arturo D’Ambrosio was the name on that card so that I knew at least half her name was a fiction. Gina and I shopped outside the city, in little country places, for matching antique clothes the Friday before the Saturday. She found a black skirt that wound round the hips and wrapped the legs like Saran, right down to her knees.

It was black linen and so was the jacket which featured simple black pearl buttons the size of swollen dewdrops. She found a black straw pillbox hat to which she’d sewed silken morning glories dyed white the early next day.

My own ensemble was a ’40s-styled tuxedo with baggy midnight blue pants and white jacket cut short like a waiter’s. Gina sewed on a crest given to her by a member of the Italian Olympic Equestrian Team. I thanked her and she said, “Just don’t ask what I had to do to get it.”

“What did you do to get it?” I rewound her, and she responded, “The same thing I did to get the Jeanne Arp sculpture sitting up there on the third speaker in our room.”

There was no glaring remorse in her made statement, only the rhubarb realities of her precious and chosen profession of lady girl artiste.

We arrived at the Carlton Towers around 11 a.m. The sun was still laying down its first coat of the day and the ocean was yawning over surfers slipping on its tongue.

We were shining and the sea puffed life into our ancient outfits. The valet avoided eye contact out of respect for whomever it was that we were, as did the doorman, and likewise, others.

There was a throaty wind and Gina floated on it. It drowned her voice out so that when she laughed the whole world seemed like a silent movie. I often think it was the finest moment of my life, but she had already taught me not to be so shallow.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Told You So

Talk about surprises! It turns out the FBI took the extraordinary powers granted them under that hysterical screed, THE PATRIOT ACT, and made its provisions even less ordinary by “improperly, and, in some cases, illegally” using it to push for personal information about American citizens.

At least according to this Associated Press account slapped into the online issue of the “Los Angeles Times.”

the highway scribe would like to launch into long tirade of bloggarrhea, go on about how our Founding Fathers built in civil protections against the police and government because of a long and abusive history wrought by both across time and throughout the world. He might spit words to the affect that civil rights is about protection from those who protect us. the scribe might point out that throughout the cold war the FBI made the personal details of Americans’ lives their special and privileged provenance. He could add that the pariah used to be a “communist” and that now it’s a “terrorist.”

But instead he just wants to say... “Told you so.”

As is the Bush administration’s wont, the Justice Department audited itself, so just choose a multiplier of your choice in order to determine how bad things have really been.

Here’s an interesting quote from the dispatch, hardly a developed look into the 126-page audit itself, which “blames agent error and shoddy record-keeping for the bulk of the problems and did not find any indication of criminal misconduct.”

Now the scribe is no lawyer, but was pretty sure “criminal misconduct” and “illegal” pointed in the same direction... prison.

Unless of course your friends in the media want to get you a presidential pardon.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

In Memory of...

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Twentynine Palms Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Raul S. Bravo or Elko, NV:

"The men and women of our armed forces risk their lives to protect the freedoms of all Americans. With selfless dedication, Lance Corporal Bravo gallantly sacrificed his life for our nation and for the cause of freedom. Maria and I offer our condolences to Raul's family and friends as they mourn the loss of a loved one."

Bravo, 21, died March 3 as a result of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, CA.

In honor of Lance Cpl. Bravo, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Sailor

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Hospitalman Lucas W. A. Emch of Kent, OH:

"Hospitalman Emch's noble pledge to our nation was unwavering. Lucas valiantly dedicated his work to improve the lives of others. Maria and I extend our deepest condolences to Lucas' family and friends."

Emch, 21, died March 2 as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated in his vicinity while conducting combat operations in Al-Anbar Province, Iraq. He was a hospital corpsman assigned to 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Hospitalman Emch, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Gould of Longmont, CO:

"Californians are forever grateful for Staff Sergeant Gould's virtuous undertaking to protect our nation. Dustin's courageous sacrifice has furthered the fight for freedom. Maria and I offer our sympathies to Dustin's family and friends during this difficult time."

Gould, 28, died March 2 as a result of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Staff Sgt. Gould, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Los Angeles Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Christopher D. Young of Los Angeles, CA:

"California's heroic soldiers fight to defend our freedom and democracy. Specialist Young stopped at nothing to make these rights available to all. Maria and I are thinking of Christopher's family, friends and fellow soldiers as they cope with their tragic loss."

Young, 20, died March 2 as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Safwan, Iraq. He was assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 160th Infantry Regiment, California Army National Guard, San Pedro, CA.

In honor of Spc. Young, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ungdomshuset Revisited

highwayscribery received an e-mail from the "Overbergmesteren" in Copenhagen who was responding to our post from a two days earlier on the eviction of those in the Ungdomshuset or "Youth House." We did a post two days earlier you can scroll down to; the one with all the photographs.

Dear highway scribe,

Thank you for your e-mail. You are concerned about the situation in Copenhagen and I can assure you, so am I.

I am saddened and angered by the actions which we have witnessed throughout the last days. The struggle for cultural diversity can never be won by hurling stones at the police. In their despair the young people of Ungdomshuset have taken the innocent citizens of Copenhagen hostage. The streets of Copenhagen have been turned into war zones cutting peaceful citizens off from work, friends and family. Violence is never a tolerable solution – least not when it affects innocent people.

I am a strong supporter of the cultural life which existed around Ungdomshuset and I do want Copenhagen to maintain its cultural diversity. Therefore, we have made a large effort to find peaceful solutions to this complex problem. For months I have worked together with several political parties in City Hall to make an acceptable offer. We have tried everything possible within the boundaries of Danish law. During this process I was surprised that the users of Ungdomshuset where not fully committed to finding constructive solutions which would make sure that they could keep up their activities on their own premises.

If the city was to give Ungdomshuset a new house for free, the city would also have to be in control of it. Ungdomshuset did not want that, and we respected that. Therefore, a foundation was willing to buy a new house for Ungdomshuset. This solution was the only possible way to ensure the users of Ungdomshuset total autonomy and freedom, but unfortunately this was also rejected.

If this offer had been accepted, Ungdomshuset could have been going on peacefully in another house no more than 500 metres away from the old one. But they did not accept. In stead of thinking of the good of their underground culture and activities these young people are putting themselves into the role as victims. With such an attitude it is impossible to find constructive solutions for Ungdomshuset and the citizens of Copenhagen.

Yours sincerely

Ritt Bjerrgaard

The Overbergermesteren sounds reasonable enough and the city's efforts seem fair, too. Of course, all the offers need not have been made if the kids got to keep the house they were in and the government found another place for the Christian church that wants to move in. The missive paints a picture of some rather unreasonable people, but the scribe suspects that chip on their collective shoulder came from somewhere and that their trust in Overbergermesteren was probably limited to begin with. The city gave them a house once, why should they trust authorities to allow their activities to continue in another space, the ultimate control of the which did not accrue to them?

An educated man used to the greasy wheels of politics, Mr. Bjerrgaard would naturally know how to come off best, especially when he's worrying about the innocent people of Copenhagen.

But the highway scribe thinks the squatters are the ones getting the worst of it in this video.

Happy Birthday highwayscribery

SAN DIEGO - Today marks the second anniversary of highwayscribery and what better place to post from than the road? After a brief meeting with the editorial board, the decision to carry on has been made. Not for another year, but another day...that is how we have operated; alternating between fatigue with the project and a desire to eliminate one daily responsibility and furiously returning to the keyboard, angry over some abuse or other, relieving a certain frustration inside while (hopefully) influencing the good minds that drop by now and again. We thank you for your indulgence and promise you...highwayscribery.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ungdomshuset (Youth House) Eviction

Globalization cuts both ways, you know.

Just as the barriers and tariffs to commerce worldwide have fallen and corporations coalesced around new ways of making money, so have activists and progressives learned to communicate and join hands in resistance to rapacious world capital.

And to that end, highwayscribery has posted the above photos and decided to tell you something about the eviction of the “Ungdomshuset” (The Youth House) in Copenhagen over the weekend.

Mostly alone in coverage,Indymedia has conveyed what it can of the goings-on in Denmark. Here are some more pictures of the heavy-handed and unnecessary government action.

Unlike similar “squats” in Europe, where the young, working class or merely marginal, occupy unused real estate unlawfully, Ungdomshuset was actually the product of compromise between municipal authorities and radicals of another era.

It has stood as a democracy-based collective offering cultural and political activities for its residents and surrounding neighborhood since 1981.

Again, and we stress, they were supposed to be there. A recent Danish law privatizing all residences resulted in the government’s sale of The Youth House to, of all things, a fundamentalist Christian sect known as Faderhuset.

Take that you dirty squatters and go live in the house our economy has priced-out of your personal reality!

On Friday morning at 7 a.m., authorities sealed off the surrounding streets, shut down sympathetic Web sites [they’re getting smarter], and dispatched an “anti-terror” detail (complete with a helicopter landing on the roof) threw everybody out, and pretty much ruined the building to save it.

One thing highwayscribery abhors is the fast-spreading application of the term “terrorist” to anybody a presiding set of authorities disapproves of, what with all its connotations of bloodiness, murder of innocents, and such.

the scribe urges you to consider some of the above photos of the police, which Copenhagen’s citizens pay for with their hard-earned money, beating Copenhagen's citizens senseless, siccing dogs on them etc.

Hey scribe, how the heck do you know these crazy people aren’t terrorists?

Glad you asked.

By way of background the scribe will inform you that for a time in the mid-1990s, he lived in a unique neighborhood of Seville, Spain, known as the Alameda de Hercules.

La Alameda has a long history of Fascist resistance, communal cohesion, working class solidarity, and flamenco living. the scribe moved in after a newspaper he was editing on the other side of the Guadalquivir River, in the barrio of Triana, was closed down.

Unemployed and broke, the scribe spent many hours roaming the streets of the neighborhood, making himself useful to unofficial clusters of friends and more established collectives, in search of a hot meal and uncommon stories to write about.

He found more stories than meals, but was able to hang on, absorbing the radical culture of the barrio, falling in and out of love with the astounding flamenco girls come from the countryside to make it in Seville, and marveling at the dyed-in-the-wool, second-nature anarchism that was part of every inhabitant’s make-up.

On one such day, he read about a demonstration in the nearby Plaza Nueva protesting the lack of affordable housing in Seville. the scribe was already on arrears in his rent at calle Santa Ana # 10 and decided upon lending his voice to the cause.

The usual charming and shaggy youth were joined by prostitutes from the barrio, odds and ends from small leftist parties and held a great march through the old Roman streets of Seville, clowns and jugglers leading the way, iconoclasm on display for all the café diners and drinkers normally found during the 6 o’clock “merienda” hour.

Much to the scribe’s surprise, when the demonstration broke up, a goodly portion of the inspiring, intellectual, and idealistic youth, and their older allies, repaired to an abandoned schoolhouse in another barrio, San Bernardo, with the purpose of mounting a squat or “Okupa” very much along the lines of Ungdomshuset.

The kids, some without homes but studying at the free university, others simply committed to reforming an increasingly voracious real estate market through activism, swarmed the decrepit, abandoned building with naught but good intentions and an ancillary enthusiasm for partying.

That night, hammers pounded, music blared, wrenches twisted, stairways were cleared, bathrooms scoured, beer bottle caps twisted, caucuses crystalized, in a space long dead and even dangerous to the neighborhood around.

Soon enough a ridiculous detail of some 20 police cars arrived, but were turned away by the obstinacy and strategy of the “Okupa” group, and the presence of a courageous young lawyer, from the United Left coalition, Jose Ignacio Aguilar.

The squat was apparently set and the scribe’s heart was warmed at the camaraderie, fraternity and cooperation with which its members went about establishing their new home and community center.

Two days later, at the crack of dawn, the police returned and conducted an illegal eviction that included beatings, arrests, and humiliations. The practice of labeling all resisters “terrorists” was not yet a fashion because New York’s Twin Towers still stood, but it didn’t matter.

the scribe was broken-hearted that Spanish society would treat its brightest, tenderest hearts, it neediest souls, in this manner, but took away a few lessons and the phone number of a good housing lawyer from the experience. Shortly thereafter, he organized his own building into a renters strike that endured for quite some time, with the help of the same courageous young lawyer. It was all captured by the scribe in a lovely Spanish-language script, Un Mes Con Marifé (One Month With Marifé).

WE REPEAT: Terrorists are people who purposely target groups of innocent people, usually unconnected to the larger political “cause” for which they are fighting, with bombing, maiming and death.

The people of Ungdomshuset are not of this type.

If you agree, please right Overborgomeister Ritt Bjeregaard and tell him so at .

The youth do represent a threat to the perceived order of things, an obstacle to the untrammeled march of speculative capital through the last redoubts of free activity in the industrial world.

highwayscribery invites you to read something about a much larger experiment in Copenhagen, not far from The Youth House, but slated for similar treatment known as Free Christiania.

It is a 33-year old squat of some 800 inhabitants, rife with art, music, and theater. Although a haven for alternative lifestyles, the autonomous community has more companies, per capita, than the rest of Denmark. Violence is nonexistent, it’s children roam free from the earliest of ages, and those shunned by modern Danish society find in Free Christiania, a place of accommodation.

Decisions are not done by votes, rather by consensus so that a workable solution acceptable to all parties is arrived at by its Citizens Council.

Why has Danish housing policy chosen to do away with Christiania?

Here’s an answer from Free Christiania itself: “Perhaps Christiania has done too well and thereby drawn unwanted attention to the problems of Danish society in general, where loneliness is common and social relations are increasingly on the decline [sound familiar?]. Or maybe the government fears that a simple lifestyle without stress and the long working hours needed to afford the consumer goods craved by the majority of the Danish population will catch on and spread. Or maybe it is just too tempting to sell the land, although a few hundred million Danish kroners are nothing in comparison with the value of Christiania to its inhabitants.”

The question, of course, is what value do the inhabitants of Christiania represent to those governing Denmark?

Not much, it would appear, and that’s the point, because that’s not democracy.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment sixteen)


The next morning, as 15 bodies slept in a giant quilt of blankets, gently heaving whatever was not spent, already sucked away through the window, by the city that moves on the residue, Elendele’s uncle came to town.

He wasn’t really an uncle. It was the cousin of her mother’s aunt. He claimed he was the mayor of the southern Spanish town of Moguer; a position to which he had been appointed by virtue of the family into which he’d been married.

A career civil servant and architect, the monarchical life had always been good to him, though having met Picasso at a rally of the United Left far outweighed his dinners with half the royalty in Europe. The only difficulty he’d discuss was that between he and his brother-in-law, the Marquis, a younger man who was always telling Elendele’s uncle what to do, even though he wasn’t as handsome, tall, or mathematically correct.

With the socialists in power, they were building a road not 222 meters from the Marquis’ farmhouse in Jaen. Right across his front lawn, through his chicken coops and past the little country road that led to town where heroin addicts left their water bottles after a night of pinching.

“Tell me there’s no justice and God in heaven,” he lobbied his unsympathetic audience. “I’m the one they forced to build it.”

And then he didn’t stop. As he spoke, the hungover heads turned and roselips blossomed, puckered up in slow motion dismay, shot looks over crossbow shoulders of displeasure in the chosen topic.

“Now I had a gallstone operation six years ago,” he said, inflicting the sight of his breathing and heaving scare upon our scarlessness. “I was surprised how long it took my body to recover from having been cut into. Major anesthesia and shock trauma. An unhappy marriage of sensations. I was tired by 5 p.m. for months at a time. And that’s nothing. A dear friend of mine had clogged an artery leading to his heart with so much rich living they had to yank it out and replace it with veins taken from his leg. His scar runs from here-to-here just like an earthquake fault line,” he drafted in finale, running his finger the full length of the limb.
Trevor, who’d stayed the evening in a failed bid for Saturn’s basket of apricots, went to the bathroom and heaved his gallon of pinot noir.

“You see what a person’s got to go through before he finally gets to conk out for good?” asks the uncle.


I was sure Elendele and her stringent feminisms would decline the gaudy offer of the rogue agent Cassius. But she was drawn to it, a wood nymph to warm water, fully of humanity and its multi-varied weaknesses.

Saturnina was equally full of what she called “love of self.”

“Which according to Rousseau,” she logic-chopped me, “is akin to survival for me.”
Beloved step-sister in sophistry. I was growing amazed. In how many differing forms could love present itself?


When the exhibition, “Futurismi e Futurismo” came to town, I bought two tickets and some cocaine for Elendele who I knew to be the first fan of those severe social technicians. But she couldn’t find the time for me in her tumble trunk of themes.

Cassius was taking her out to the beach where a photographer friend of his was going to take some shots for her budding portfolio.

So I waited for Saturn to get home, but she couldn’t make it either because Cassius had sent her to the famous, right-leaning stylist Elisabetta Rogiani, to see if her look needed an updating.

“It doesn’t Saturnina, believe me,” came my ultimately correct observation.

Meantime, she noted, Elendele’s image had inexplicably failed to register itself in any of the 120 shots Cassius’ friend had taken of her.

“Not a trace,” Saturn headlined, “Like pictures of a ghost.” She’d heard that could happen after a bad batch of romance.

Trevor calls up to talk with me. He’s upset that his city council mom can’t take care of his unpaid jaywalking tickets for him. He’s got hundreds of them and there’s a warrant out for his arrest. He’s confused now about the meanings of criminality.

“Bastards. They’ve got a law for everyone to break so everyone’s a criminal.

Criminal! The word’s use is inflated. Police can’t stop axe murderers because they’re too busy scribbling their litter of pink paper fines along the byways. It’s their most noble pose, poised, pen and papier in hand.”

“You sound like you’ve been hanging around Elendele,” I said because she likes to send a check for a dollar more than she owes. It causes all kinds of paper work and they haven’t found the backbone to make it a crime, too... yet.

He say he has been with her, that Elendele and Saturn also got a ticket the other day. They were selling hot dogs and chocolate cappuccinos under a day-glo umbrella on the street, down by the third world and her cheap fashion districts. They had neglected to put a quarter in the meter after the 13th passage of a 15-minute period had ended. The little Gestapo car was there, flashingly, after having passed some time, waitingly, for the girls to make a mistake. “Forty hot dogs worth,” Elendele bitched at the cost.

Except for breakfast, and some escorting on runs to get Maria, I hadn’t seen or talked to the girls much since Cassius. I just lay around looking at Elendele’s scrapbook, fantasizing about all those girls in those pictures from her Catholic school days. I don’t think she had truly forgiven me for maybe getting her pregnant, anyway. Trevor says he doesn’t think she can forgive me for not asking her to have the baby, maybe.

“I know that sounds crazy,” he editorializes

“What are they doing selling hot dogs?”

He describes the girls in floppy hats and pearls raining on braless breasts – peddling their dogs to whomever. A plan born in the brain of Cassius who thought the stand was a good way to get the girls a little “exposure.”

“Exposure is something those two are good at,” I needled my distant nemeses.

“Cassius also said he thought it would help to pay for the abortion,” he served.

“I paid for the abortion,” I returned.

“That’s not what they told Cassius,” Trevor volleyed.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Gitmo Girl Gone Wild

the scribe sold a reworked and distilled version of last week's post "Revisiting Guantanamo," to the "San Diego Downtown News." It ended up as the cover story. Now that's what we mean by highwayscribery. Read

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Book Report: "Bardot Deneuve Fonda" by Roger Vadim

There is only one reason to not envy Roger Vadim and that is that he’s dead. Aside from that...

For filmophiles, Bardot, Deneuve, Fondaoffers intimate portraits of a trio of great mid-century actresses.

For Europhiles, it offers a panoramic view of “La Dolce Vita” on the Old Continent after World War II. A great time for those who survived the conflict in one piece.

A couple of years ago the scribe read “The Good, the Bad, and the Dolce Vita,” by blacklisted actor Mickey Knox. Although enjoyable, Knox was entering the universe in question by the back door and could not write worth a lick.

Vadim’s a different case altogether. His father was the son of a Russian diplomat chased from the mother country by Bolsheviks: “Like all children of Russian diplomats, he spoke French fluently. After graduating in political science, he took the civil service examination and passed with flying colors. Named consul at the age of twenty-eight, he married a French woman, Marie-Antoinette Ardilouze. His first post was the consulate in Alexandria, Egypt.”

You get the idea.

Those hip to European culture know the best way to rebel in life is to have an aristocratic background and that is what Vadim did, throwing his lot in with the long-hairs (of his day anyway), opting for a life in film, and developing a great reputation as seducer of (younger) ladies.

His first was Brigitte Bardot whom he met on a Parisian bus when she was just 15-years-old. He spent the next few years dodging her father “Pilou,” whom was under the impression his daughter was still a virgin, when Vadim had settled that question well before they married once Brigitte turned 18.

Vadim/Bardot made a unique team, he a writer of characters for her, she the muse who played them out before the cameras. Neither could have made it without the other and it is their tale which is most interesting of the three largely because neither is famous yet, and we get to see how things evolved for them professionally.

Bardot wanted to be a prima ballerina but ended up in film, it would seem, largely because of her lack of interest in it (aspiring actresses take heed).

And although Vadim’s novel approach to film making and storytelling were crucial to harnessing Bardot’s raw rebelliousness, her raw rebelliousness was crucial to his film making/storytelling.

She had a natural and casual attitude about the world around her, most unimpressed by status and blessed with a wicked tongue. Keira Knightley’s recent turn in “Pride and Prejudice” comes to mind.

Early on (page 50), Vadim is making the rounds of haute Paris with his sexy young charge/lover/business partner. One such stop is at a famous mansion on 72 rue de Varenne, where all manner of luminaries are gathered including a young senator from the United States, John F. Kennedy.

Again, you get the idea.

Here’s Vadim: “Among the guests was a woman whose amorous adventures had been the talk of Paris for more than thirty years. Simone Beiau, now a theater director, had been a great courtesan. Now over fifty, she had become subdued, but she remained notorious for her immoderate language. She decided to get a laugh by attacking Brigitte.

‘Are you a virgin?’ she asked her point-blank. She expected to upset the young girl and make her blush.

But without becoming flustered, Brigitte replied, ‘No, madam. Are you’?”

(And whatever happened to courtesans, anyway?)

His rendering of Bardot is that of an unstable girl desperately in love with the idea of love, but not so good at the real thing and certainly not monogamous (understandably difficult for her to achieve).

The pair’s big break came with Vadim penning and lensing (that’s Hollywood “Variety” talk for writing and directing) “And God Created Woman,” with Bardot as his lead, Julietta.

She appears naked, sort of, by today’s standards, but more than that comes across as a girl who enjoys sex; a posture most upsetting to the crumbling, but still deeply Catholic-bourgeois, order in France. So much so, the government tried to stop the film from screening [this is before YouTube kiddies]. The case went to court. Vadim and producer Raoul Levy prevailed thanks to their attorney - Francois Mitterand, future president of France.

You get the idea.

Here’s an exchange between Bardot and none other than Winston Churchill, who ran into each other, per chance, in a hotel during the shooting of “And God Created Woman”:

“‘When I was eight years old and heard you on the radio, you frightened me,' said Brigitte, ‘But now you seem rather cute, considering you’re a legend.’

‘Cute’ was not a word people normally used to describe Churchill to his face! The great orator remained speechless.

‘What are you doing in Nice?’ Brigitte asked, in order to fill the silence.

‘Painting,’ replied Churchill. ‘You are an actress, and I am a painter. We have art in common.’

‘My father bought one of your landscapes,’ said Brigitte.

‘I don’t sell my paintings.’

‘Well, then your friends do. The painting my father bought has a hill, a parasol pine in the foreground and the sea in the background. Do you remember it?’

‘And on the right a broom bush in flower?’

‘Yes. Do you like to paint?’

‘I love painting. But I shall never go down in history with Cézanne.’

‘You know, my films are not nearly as good as your paintings. And I never won a war.’

‘That is no great loss,’ Churchill concluded.”

A couple of days later, old Winny tried to get Brigitte to come by for dinner!

As hinted above, Bardot turns out to be more than a little unfaithful to Vadim, who moves on to marry a Danish women named Annette, whom he puts in a movie and loses to her desires for fame and fortune, film style.

Then he hooks up with Catherine Deneuve. By now Vadim is a famous MAN OF FILM and 17- year-old hotties with stardust in their eyes come his way regularly, so there’s less intrigue than with Bardot, a more ingenuous romance in the springtime of their loving.

He is thirty-two, at this point, and after a few comings and goings, sets up his seduction of C. “But age didn’t make a difference,” he wrote, “Neither did experience, for women know many things without needing to learn them.”

Now, that may not sound like overheated and steamy prose to you, but the scribe has vivid enough imagination to plug-in a young Catherine Deneuve – the one wearing the Chanel outfit in Polansky’s “Repulsion” – for things to get hot and steamy without any verbal assistance whatsoever.

Deneuve is beautiful, but she is stern, and cool and rather domestic for a flaming faux blonde and French siren. As such, Vadim’s continuing adventures as a race car driver for Ferrari, as a friend of eccentric aristocrats, and denizen of exciting Latin countries take over at this juncture in this autobiography.

After C. dumps Vadim, he moves on to an up-and-coming Jane Fonda, who enters at about age 17. Again, there are many reasons to envy and despise Roger Vadim, were he not gone from us.

Their idyllic life on a farm somewhere near Versailles is enough to depress any American middle-classer and one has to wonder why Fonda, Hollywood royalty, with a film or two under her belt, would want to give up this paradise to get half-naked, smooch with men she doesn’t know, and do press junkets for films.

The rendering of Fonda is one of a conflicted little girl trying many ways to grow up. The contrast between the two French women, hurtling at warp speed into sex and serious life, and the American girl, hung up on “finding herself,” is rather revealing.

Jane, casting about in the lap of luxury and under the entire world’s gaze, finds herself as an opponent to the Vietnam War, and it’s only a matter of time before Vadim moves onto his fifth wife and first non-actress.

It’s surprising Fonda found no room in her life for Vadim following her transformation. It was he who introduced her to another understanding of the United States beyond her own apple-pie version, and Vadim himself seemed to walk into historical situations by happenstance.

Just before the outbreak of the May ‘68 rebellion in Paris, he finds himself chosen by a dissident faction of the film industry’s workers and technicians union to lead them. He wins the election, the riots break out, and Vadim finds himself a front-and-center-protagonist in the dramatic events that follow.

A brilliant intellectual (is there another kind?), his thoughts on these moments and others are worth the read even if you’re in it just for the cheesecake.

When Fonda tells him she thinks, “The government will be overthrown,” he tells her, “I’m convinced of the contrary. The Communists have mobilized their troops and joined the students’ camp in order to take control of the situation and nip the movement in the bud. They can’t accept a revolution that outflanks them on the left. The Communist Party will not admit it, but it is the government’s potential ally.”

Which is what came to pass.

“Few people made the same political calculation as I did. Even the president of the Republic, General de Gaulle, believing his government had lost the battle, left Paris secretly by helicopter to get the support of the French occupation army in Germany.”

And why should he be humble, bumble?

Vadim’s life with Jane eventually jumped from France to Malibu, California where, despite their fading romance, he has a great time anyway hanging out with Jack Nicholson, or Andy Warhol, or Larry Hagman...

...but you get the idea.