I posted the Bleat, then hit the wires: whoa. Hunter S. Thompson and Sandra Dee died on the same Yahoo most-emailed page. Theres some telling symmetry in that. Dee, who died of organ failure, was a sunny perky teen idol with a dark past sexual abuse, domineering show-biz mom, public divorce, alcoholism, health ills. But she turned her life around, in the lingo of Behind the Scenes; she had a good last act, and she didnt trade on her pains to craft a public persona. People think "Sandra Dee," they think the happy teen Tammy still.
HST killed himself. He never would have turned his life around thats a hard thing to try when the rooms been spinning for 40 years. Depression? Wouldnt be surprising. A bad verdict from the doc? Wouldnt be surprising. A great writer in his prime, but the DVD of his career would have the last two decades on the disc reserved for outtakes and bloopers. It was all bile and spittle at the end, and it was hard to read the work without smelling the dank sweat of someone consumed by confusion, anger, sudden drunken certainties and the horrible fear that when he sat down to write, he could only muster a pale parody of someone elses satirical version of his infamous middle period. I feel sorry for him, but Ive felt sorry for him for years. File under Capote, Truman meaning, whatever you thought of the latter-day persona, dont forget that there was a reason he had a reputation. Read "Hell's Angels." That was a man who could hit the keys right.
A little less, a little more this will be a slightly different sort of week. Joe Ohio is on hiatus for one week, and daily content here will be somewhat different. Wednesday will have a special surprise, and yes, I know Im sounding like a grade school teacher. I simply have to spend the entire week on the book, and thats that.
A note on this tape thats making the rounds: recall, in the happy halcyon 90s, when Linda Tripp taped Monica? There was great ire poured on her for doing such a despicable thing. I wonder if the same parties will summon up an equal amount of dudgeon now.
Best wishes for the Instas. May she get a steady ticker and may he get 36% less hate mail tomorrow.
(I got my share this week, and a few letters have concerned the Gannon / Guckert thing. Im going to write a Newhouse on that so I wont get into it here. But I just find it amusing that people think that because I support less aggressive taxation and the War I must therefore believe gays should be driven into a pit lined with sharp stakes, and therefore Im a hypocrite. How does that work? Its like saying you oppose partial privatizing of Social Security? Well, then you obviously want abortion legal up the moment when the baby crowns. Doesnt follow. )
Anyway, I rewind the tape to something I banged out in advance. Tomorrow: noir clips and photos. Wednesday: a big surprise.
Its Saturday afternoon, around 4:22. The DirecTV repairmen (yes, friends, our oldest and most unrewarding story line comes flaring back) called a while ago and said hed be by in an hour. I wouldnt have minded that much, except they had originally phoned at SEVEN AM to ask if they could drop by at an earlier time. SEVEN AM on Saturday. No one calls anyone at seven AM without written permission.
I had called Thursday night when the signal went out, endured DirecTV asinine trouble-shooting recording youre compelled to hear. Okay! Im going to ask you to do a few things before I had you over to our technical department. Is your receiver plugged in? Do you get electricity? Have you propped a pie-plate on the roof and pretended it was a satellite dish? Why dont you go up on the roof now and check. Ill wait. Press one when youre back!
I explained with weary patience that the worst fears of the previous technician appear to have come true; the dish is too close to a vent, and may have suffered damage from water condensation and freezing. I mean, it could be invisible weevils, Ill grant you that. SMERSH could be using some sort of interrupter beam to make sure I dont get a signal. But the fact that this happens at night when the sun goes down and the temperatures drop and often resolves itself a few hours after the healing rays of the sun have warmed the dish, well, theres a fighting chance the problems on the roof. Theres a good chance its always been on the roof. So! I made three requests: 1. the tech should be prepared to replace the dish. 2. the tech should be prepared to move the dish. 3. The tech should have a 30 foot ladder.
This information did not make to the tech. My wife filled him in: vent, frozen, roof, relocated. He replied that he could not do that, since it wasnt on his list of things to do. And if it wasnt on the magic list, he wouldnt get paid for doing it, and would have to charge us $100 for it.
O the boundless confidence I have in this call.
So! I call the DirecTV sit-on-hold-until-your-buttocks-are-filled-with-your-own-congealed-blood line and explain the situation. Oh ho, the fellow says, that shouldnt be. Call us right back if he tries to shake a Franklin out of you Im paraphrasing and Ill escalate the matter.
Escalate? ESCALATE? Ive been going through this since JULY! If its any more escalated its going to be standing on tiptop atop the RKO radio mast, friend. Or so Im thinking. I ask what he means. He says the high holy managers will inform the tech that the things I require are covered by my Protection Plan, so he has to do them. But this will take 24 hours, so the appointment will have to be rescheduled.
And a red mist descended.
But. Its not his fault. Like everyone at DirecTV, he is courteous and helpful. (Half the people I talk to sound like theyre wearing bow ties, just to put them in the proper frame of mind.) So now I am waiting. More later.
5:32: DirecTV calls back to tell me hell be here in 45 minutes. I explain calmly that I was told hed be here at two oclock. This puts me in the position of wondering who I might bill for my time here? He understands my frustration Lord, they all do and tells me to call another number to ask what they might do for me. He thanks me for being nice, and notes that the last guy he called yelled at him for 15 minutes. I ask where he is, out of curiousity.
Southwest Iowa, he says.
The two least evocative words in the English language, I think.
I just called the number. Its the main DirecTV number. There are no options for talking to someone who gives you a free month of pay per view and backs a truck full of Doritos up your house, the contents of which are borne inside by the 2005 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models. Not that Id care, really. The SI issue is boring now. The average age of the models seems to have dropped five years, and the intelligence 37 IQ points. Yes, I know, as compared to the blazing intellect of Kathy Ireland.
Ah: theyre here.
Update, 6:42. They fixed it.
But they all say that, dont they.
Still, Im hopeful. They moved the dish. We had a good time, all in all; I offered hot cocoa, but they declined. Least I could do this was their eighth job today, and they were up on the roof in the dark. In the snow.
You know, I think Ive been here before, one of the techs said.
Everyone has, I said.
By the end I felt guilty these guys had families, and were spending Saturday clomping around my pitched roof in the dark on a Saturday because the office overscheduled them. I bade them goodbye and clicked on the TV. Sat down to watch.
Eh. Nothing on.
Update: 2:17 AM. I watched a DVD tonight, and was wide staring awake at the end. Called up the HBO channel hey, its the Matrix! And better yet, its almost over! Settled in to watch the last few minutes.
Blip scrambled hash blackness
Searching for signal on satellite 1.
Proof there is either a God or a Devil or both, and theyre all saying the same thing: go to bed.
Perm link: here.