When the poet John Berryman leapt off a bridge in Minneapolis he was sober. He’d been largely drunk up until that morning but he was scarred forever by his own father’s suicide and probably every tall building looked something like a hell-hole.
We showed up early because we expected a crowd. We were right. There had been a bird nest over the front door to the Montana Club but in the opening hubbub, not nearly as violent as a Black Friday crush at Walmart, it crashed to the ground and was promptly stomped. An old man in front me said, “Well, at least you know what they are feeding you in here.” He meant it as a joke and I did laugh. But there had been eggs in the nest and the yolks were a smear on the concrete.
I won’t bore you with details of 18 hours in delayed flights, an unexpected stay in Denver, or any of the weird third-world adventures accompanying domestic travel that are now routine in modern, robust, and according to President Joe Biden, the excellent economy and upward trajectory of the United States. This is the same man that tries to shake hands with thin air, but I can tell you that if you want to be treated like a human being, or expect appropriate customer service, do not fly United Airlines. If you decide to fly United Airlines then what happens to you next can only be your own fault.
Putin is, of course, a kind of Great Khan and the oligarchs he has both made and sustained will substitute nicely for the lesser Khans. What unites them through time isn’t just wealth or extravagance or absolute power, it is a world view, and Putin’s embrace of Eurasianism should have been heeded by successive American and European administrations but wasn’t.
Perhaps most ominously in this interview, Hill was asked if we are on the brink of World War III. Her answer: “We’re already in it. We have been for some time. We keep thinking of World War I, World War II as these huge set pieces, but World War II was a consequence of World War I. And we had an interwar period between them. And in a way, we had that again after the Cold War…All of the conflicts we are seeing have roots in earlier conflicts…people shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking that we’re just on the brink of something. We’ve been well and truly in it for quite a long period of time.”
I have never been to Ukraine, though I did stumble across some Ukrainian mail-order brides in my former profession. Called to resolve domestic disputes by their awe-struck American husbands, I can assure you I was most impressed by the tenacity of the women who came over on the promise of Levis, western cigarettes, and fine weather.
It is axiomatic that all tactical training that is any good must involve rubber boats and cold water. If your training does not include rubber boats and cold water you cannot possibly be training for anything more rigorous than seizing a bicycle from a child. My own training involved far more cold water and rubber boats than I care to remember, but there is something in that combination that very quickly separates the wheat from the chaff, and over time builds incredible teams.
One thing I’m trying to avoid is the indignity of being wheeled into the day-room for group exercises at “Autumnal Leaves”, which is a raisin farm in Ricky Gervais’ excellent series After Life where his father—suffering from dementia—mostly doesn’t recognize him and makes increasingly inappropriate sexual commentary to the nurses.
They are apparently incensed that Joe Rogan has bucked the system, hunts his own meat, has eaten Ivermectin and beaten Covid, has a wildly popular podcast, and discussed all of these things out loud. And also because he smoked weed with Elon Musk on the air. Or something. It’s hard to know, except that the battle against irrelevance is on-going, and as a figure in The Madness of King George once pointed out: Character is required to endure the rigors of indolence.
Doesn’t it just seem, some days, that we are being outplayed and outmaneuvered at every turn? One wonders if the underwater cables have been tapped, the cyphers compromised, if there is a mole in every briefing room, or if we are just as inept and delusional as appearance suggests.
Back home, of course, we have other problems, not least of which is testing the winds, sticking to the shadows, and leaning into the whispers to avoid becoming Canned Goods ourselves. There is more truth in that than many would like to believe, our obsession with “safety” having now trumped any real concerns with fundamental liberty.
It was a meal to celebrate a series of victories–over the madding world that overburdens modern humans with regulation and minutia, crushes us under the weight of absurdity, and tries like hell to prevent us from escaping the reservation to simply get out, get on a boat, and go fishing. To get from our homes and meet in Reno took 14 hours of combined driving, of dodging the world of yahoos who consistently overestimate their driving abilities, and any number of logistical hurdles between work, family, and the freight of modern obligations.