I posted the Bleat, then hit the wires: whoa. Hunter S. Thompson and Sandra Dee died on the same Yahoo most-emailed page. There’s 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 didn’t 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” – that’s a hard thing to try when the room’s been spinning for 40 years. Depression? Wouldn’t be surprising. A bad verdict from the doc? Wouldn’t 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 else’s satirical version of his infamous middle period. I feel sorry for him, but I’ve felt sorry for him for years. File under Capote, Truman – meaning, whatever you thought of the latter-day persona, don’t 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 I’m sounding like a grade school teacher. I simply have to spend the entire week on the book, and that’s that.

A note on this tape that’s 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. I’m going to write a Newhouse on that so I won’t 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 I’m a hypocrite. How does that work? It’s like saying “you oppose partial privatizing of Social Security? Well, then you obviously want abortion legal up the moment when the baby crowns.” Doesn’t follow. )

Anyway, I rewind the tape to something I banged out in advance. Tomorrow: noir clips and photos. Wednesday: a big surprise

It’s 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 he’d be by in an hour. I wouldn’t 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 you’re compelled to hear. “Okay! I’m 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 don’t you go up on the roof now and check. I’ll wait. Press one when you’re 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, I’ll grant you that. SMERSH could be using some sort of interrupter beam to make sure I don’t 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, there’s a fighting chance the problem’s on the roof. There’s a good chance it’s 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 wasn’t on his list of things to do. And if it wasn’t on the magic list, he wouldn’t 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 shouldn’t be. Call us right back if he tries to shake a Franklin out of you – I’m paraphrasing – and I’ll escalate the matter.

Escalate? ESCALATE? I’ve been going through this since JULY! If it’s any more escalated it’s going to be standing on tiptop atop the RKO radio mast, friend. Or so I’m 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. It’s not his fault. Like everyone at DirecTV, he is courteous and helpful. (Half the people I talk to sound like they’re 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 he’ll be here in 45 minutes. I explain – calmly – that I was told he’d be here at two o’clock. 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. It’s 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 I’d 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: they’re here.

Update, 6:42. They fixed it.

But they all say that, don’t they.

Still, I’m 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 I’ve 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, it’s the Matrix! And better yet, it’s 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 they’re all saying the same thing: go to bed.
Perm link: here.

JOE Returns 02 28
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