Apr 242014

While browsing through the super high res and awesome National Archive photos online I found this one from Reagan’s 1981 Inaugural Ball:


I thought it was weird because who are any of these people, and how are there so many of them? Also is that Girl-Reagan wearing the Beetlejuice dress in the corner one of Reagan’s daughters? Who the heck is that Girl-Reagan?


It turns out it’s Dora Palmieri, Ron Reagan’s wife. But back then she was just his “live-in girlfriend,” according to a People magazine profile on “The Reagan Kids.” She and Ron met at ballet school. Unbelievably, the article included this, about him going to ballet school:

He underwrote Ron’s living expenses while he studied ballet on scholarship, first in Los Angeles, currently in New York. “He’s all man—we made sure of that,” his father told a reporter who raised the predictable question two years ago.

I was she had been Girl-Reagan, though. It would have been cool. The writers of 1980s comic books back then would have liked having her, too. They could have done some series in the near future and had her be President Girl-Reagan, outlawing those damned dangerous mutants! “I have only one thing to say to Professor Xavier: Go ahead, make my day.”

But I couldn’t find anything about almost any of the other people in that Inaugural Ball photo, so I went with Maisie to the Reagan Library. Somehow I had been under the impression that Presidential Libraries were huge public archives and places of study. This one was really just a museum plus a restaurant called Ronny’s Country Cafe. One cool thing was in the Nancy Reagan wing, where you got to watch her playing basketball with the Globetrotters for some part of “Just Say No!” She jumps on a little trampoline and dunks the ball and one of the Globetrotters catches her in his arms as she falls. Reagan himself was only 5’7″, so Nancy was almost not even 5 feet and had a long way to fall.

There are also some chunks of the Berlin Wall (real, I think?). On the bottom of one section there’s a hole, and it led to some crawly-aroundy area for kids. I don’t know what was in it but somehow kids instinctively knew to go inside it. They’d be walking towards it fullspeed and then duck down into a crawl at the last second. I saw this happen many times.  Some would even showboat, like this kid doing a kid dip, backwards:


Caught ya dippin, you darned kid!

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Apr 082014

I was browsing through a list of them to see what kinds of names are popping off for old folks’ homes these days. I must say that I feel a little sad for the people who have to live in Rich Witzmann’s Premium Siding & Windows:

old folks homes in connecticut

Then again, maybe the residents enjoy watching the workers assembling siding and windows (I assume the seniors are not forced to work themselves). And it’s nice to see small businesses coming up with creative solutions to increase revenue.

 Posted by at 8:35 pm 1 Response »
Mar 222014


I didn’t post this yesterday with the other Desert Fathers sayings. But now that it’s the weekend? Let’s just say the bad boys can come out to play…

A brother was tested by temptation in Scetis. The enemy brought into his mind the memory of a beautiful woman which troubled him deeply. By God’s providence a visitor came from Egypt. When they met to talk, he told the brother that his wife was dead (she was the woman about whom the monk was tempted). When he heard the news, he put on his cloak at night and went to the place where he had heard she was buried. He dug in the place, and wiped blood from her corpse on his cloak and when he returned he kept it in his cell. When it smelt too bad, he put it in front of him and said to his temptation, ‘Look, this is what you desire. You have it now, be content.’ So he punished himself with the smell until his passions died down.

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Mar 212014

The other week I read “Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks” because I liked the sound of “desert fathers,” and I thought it might be weird. It was. These were guys who lived out in the desert in Egypt in tiny monastic communities. Or sometimes just alone, in a dis-custing hole. They had a different way of life and wanted different things out of it:

They used to say about Theodore of Pherme that he kept these three rules before all others: poverty, abstinence, and avoiding the company of other people.

“John the Short said, ‘I will invent a man composed of all the virtues. He would live as though buried in a tomb and already dead.’”

They were very scared of ladies:

Once Abraham, the disciple of Sisois, said to him, ‘Abba, you are now old. Let us go into the world for a short time. Sisois said to him: ‘Yes, provided that we go where there are no women.’ The disciple said, ‘Where is there a place that is without women except the desert?’ Sisois said, ‘Then let me stay in the desert.’

They got visitors sometimes, like pilgrims or people who want them to say a word. A healing word or some such thing:

In Babylon there was a nobleman’s daughter, who was possessed by a devil. Her father asked a monk for help. The monk said to him, ‘No one can cure your daughter except some hermits I know.’

Imagine if you were that nobleman. Damnit, you monk, that’s not the “help” I was looking for! The monks fast a lot. One phrase that stood out to me was: “Even if our mouths stink from fasting, we may still lack what God wants, humility and love.” I had never thought about the stench aspect of fasting. But just because they fast doesn’t mean the monks don’t let loose every now and then:

When Agatho was on his death-bed, he lay for three days with his eyes open, without moving. The brothers nudged him, saying, ‘Abba, where are you?’ He said to them, ‘Please don’t talk to me, I’m busy.’

The monks also spend a lot of their time just running away from people. They’ll be out walking around, carrying some palm plaits that they wove in their cells, and a camel driver will come by and say something to them and they’ll drop all the palms and run away. At one point they run away from a dragon:

When Nesteros the Great was walking in the desert with a brother, they saw a dragon and ran away. The brother said, ‘Were you afraid, abba?’ Nesteros answered, ‘I wasn’t afraid, my son. But it was right to run away from the dragon, otherwise I should have had to run away from conceit.’

One thing I learned while doing research on prehistoric creatures is that desert people in the ancient world came across fossils all the time. Sand would shift around and expose entire skeletons of dinosaurs. Some people think that griffin myths had their origin in discoveries of protoceratops fossils. Those myths start right when the Greeks come into contact with Mongolian nomads from the region where tons of protoceratops are found today. And look at the fossils!

Now, here’s a cool timeline about ancient encounters with fossils (from “The First Fossil Hunters,” by Adrienne Mayor):


The Nitria mentioned is right around where these Desert Fathers lived.

Now, don’t you wish we lived back then? When people found huge bones and thought they were a giant’s? I suppose that some might say we DO live in those times – better, even – because we still find those huge bones, and they’re from things that actually existed, and we can tell their tales through science! But those people don’t know anything.

To conclude, I hope that my corspe-handlers will consider for my epitaph this saying from the Desert Fathers:

Some years later, having put his sister in the care of some nuns, he went to live alone in the utter desert.

 Posted by at 6:19 pm 1 Response »
Mar 192014

Here’s a new script of mine called Exploration Brigade. It’s about an exploration-y task force set up by President Grant in the 1870s, sailing all around the world to cool secret locations. I guess they don’t have a ship with sail, but for some reason I can’t think if there is another word to use. What would it be? Boat? Go boating around the world? I could check a thesaurus but I have a deep-seated contempt for the readers of this website, and humans in general. They can get bent!

In this the Exploration Brigade goes down to the Amazon to infiltrate a colony of Neo-Confederates:

Exploration Brigade Title Page Thingy

 Posted by at 9:16 pm No Responses »
Feb 182014

Silver Lake


silver lake standing rules


“Whether we pass it or not, who’s going to enforce it, for God’s sake?” said Councilman Rusty Millar.


  • “Why would you want to take our identity away from us?” said Chris Ashe, who has lived in Silver Lake for five years.
  • Last speaker says we call ourselves Eastsiders because it’s human nature to want to feel a part of something ‘edgy.’” HAT TIP! to Adrian Glick Kudler of CURBED LA! Who ATTENDED the meeting and took this picture of council woman Anne-Marie Johnson during the Eastside debate:

  • Adrian also witnessed the debate on REUSABLE BAGS:

8:21 pm: Nina Sorkin wants to spend $2,000 on reusable bags as giveaways and Charles Herman-Wurmfeld is NOT comfortable with that.
8:23 pm: Clint Luken to the rescue! He has a box of leftover bags in his office!!!
8:29 pm: Spending money on bags instead of additional polling places is “voter suppression,” so says Renee Nahum.
8:31 pm: Anthony Crump abstains from bag vote!
8:33 pm: First use of word “ludicrous” by Paul Michael Neuman. Spending money on muffins and expensive sandwiches also “voter suppression.”

But how do people with web series feel about the issue?

east siders

Kit Williamson holds a poster of his Web series, “The Eastsiders,” at his Silver Lake home. He is very connected to the Eastside name. But, he said, “I would never say Boyle Heights and those other areas are not the Eastside. That would be hurtful and should be avoided.”

 Posted by at 3:47 pm No Responses »
Feb 142014

As I continue shepherding the transition of my website into one which is entirely focused on passages from biographies of Lyndon Johnson, I thought I would take a quick detour to share a passage about Herbert Hoover (which I found in Path to Power). Hoover doesn’t want to do anything about the Depression. Like, when he gets asked about hunger, he says “Nobody is actually starving. The hoboes, for example, are better fed than they have ever been. One hobo in New York got ten meals in one day.”

Then, in 1932, he starts campaigning for another term, traveling across the country by train.

As the President’s train was pulling into Detroit, the men on it heard a hoarse, rhythmic chant rising from thousands of throats; for a moment they had hopes of an enthusiastic reception—and then they made out the words of the chant: “Hang Hoover! Hang Hoover! Hang Hoover!”

And as the Presidential caravan sped past, those inside his limousine saw, through its thick windows, that the route was lined, block after block, with tens of thousands of men and women who were, in Gene Smith’s words, “utterly silent and grim save for those who could be glimpsed shaking their fists and shouting unheard words and phrases.”

When, in St. Paul, the President defended his treatment of the Bonus Marchers [out of work veterans Hoover had driven from DC] , saying, “Thank God we still have a government in Washington that still knows how to deal with a mob,” the crowd responded with one vast snarl, a snarl so vicious that the Secret Service chief suddenly found himself covered with sweat.

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