“You may think you know what’s going on here Mr. Gittes. But you don’t.” — Noah Cross, “Chinatown” * Drivin’ down your freeway Midnight alleys roam Cops in cars The topless bars Never saw a woman so alone, so alone So alone, so alone — Jim Morrison, The Doors, “LA Woman” * It was a hell of a day to wax nostalgic about Los Angeles. […]
This morning, early, before I’d even had my first cup of tea, and in the wake of news that the stock market was caught in a death spiral — the worst day in its history and tanking on wholly unfounded global anxiety and media driven perfidy — I received an excellent text from my daughter. She wrote: “At an autopsy with detectives for a potential homicide.” Which was proof again that life in the twisting alleyways of Rome goes on, flame lit and gruesome, whether trading in the plaza has been suspended or not.
Now in our gloomy age of endless traffic congestion, retro-socialism, and retail pandemic terror — a dark night made even darker by the waxen heads at every evening news desk in the television universe — the average citizen has some critical choices to make. To wit: shall we live in terror of Covid-19? Shall we gnash our teeth and rend our garments and join the Brothers of the Cross, flagellating ourselves in the town plaza to free the world of colds and single use plastic bags, whipping our flesh to beat back the growing tide of human poop and hypodermic needles on the sidewalks, to end forever the horrors of red meat and chevy suburbans, of plastic straws and emerging hemorrhagic fevers?
Standing in the pouring rain All alone in a world that’s changed Running scared now forced to hide In a land where he once stood with pride But he’ll find his way by the morning light… — David Hidalgo / Louis Frausto Perez (Los Lobos) It is integral to the mission and purpose of The Running Iron Report to be a beacon fire for […]
Years ago, when I was still kicking in doors for a living, serving search and arrest warrants and chasing dopers of various sizes, shapes, and ethnic origins, I began keeping a book of personal debriefs. I did this because I cared deeply about — and still train scrupulously in my civilian incarnation — small unit tactics. When I was in the big leagues – the regional Narcotics Task Force — I was generally number one through the door on warrant services, which is both an art and a skill, and in every case extremely dangerous because one never knows what awaits on the opposite side, and also because narcotics enforcement is not synonymous with good tactics.
The cynicism of the National Football League is apparently boundless. After taking a break from mostly not watching the game – we were visiting with friends and there was some great food on the table and even better conversation in the next room – I was intrigued by the prospect of both Shakira AND Jennifer Lopez appearing in stages of near nudity on the halftime show. Most everyone knows that the halftime show is designed to pander to our basest instincts – wardrobe malfunctions and penis guitars – so what red-blooded American with a mouthful of chili would miss a chance to see that?
Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves Britons never, never, never shall be slaves! Daughter Ceili is in London for the next five months, for a study-abroad term through the University of Oregon. This is the fulfillment of a dream she’s had since she was a very young girl, enthralled by the image of Harry Potter and his friends soaring up […]
A few summers ago, while lounging around the Munich Airport waiting for a flight to Reykjavik, I bought a book: “The Silk Roads: A New History of the World,” by Peter Frankopan. Frankopan is a senior fellow at Oxford University, and has written a convincing reassessment of world history. It is also a poignant and extraordinarily well-considered forecast of our possible future as a broader, Western culture.
My wife and I were down in Bend, Oregon, the other day, to visit with some friends and to spend the afternoon watching the Oregon Ducks smash helmets with the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl. I had no dog in the fight – my alma maters are both mired in long-term football mediocrity — so instead of pulling for one side or the other I played the role of annoying snarky guy while munching on some terrific jalapeno poppers and perfectly smoked – and I really do mean perfectly — short ribs. It was a great afternoon full of delightfully low-brow conversation.
On the same afternoon that I zipped my grandfather into a body bag – he was fortunate to die at home, in his own bed, and the last words he heard on this earth were my grandmother saying she loved him — I inherited one of his old rifles. It was a single shot .22 with a scope from the old regime – decent glass in its day – that he used to teach my father and uncles to shoot in their sprawling back yard in North Hollywood. Under the house he built a pistol range.
“History is human nature writ large, and the better you understand the past, the better you’ll understand people in general, including those of our own day.” — James Carlos Blake * There is a pernicious movement afoot to push aside liberal arts education in favor of more “practical” education. This reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what is practical. I […]
As I was reading and writing last night–sketching various attempts at an end of the decade post, I came across a wonderful passage from “The Powder River Expedition Journals of Colonel Richard Irving Dodge.” This was a book I bought myself for Christmas because I maintain an abiding interest in that period of our history and also because I have a long-running fascination with immediate accounts written by the people who were on the ground when events unfolded. That’s true from Caesar to Tacitus, from Samuel Pepys to the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and beyond. I buy them and read them whenever I can.