Well, I hope I’m not damaging the potential book sales, but I don’t think much of Amazon sending me an email over breakfast on a Saturday morning and requesting that I, as an author, copy & paste its contents and send them on to Hachette Publishing, another publishing giant. The letter, drafted by their slick lawyers, defames and upbraids Hachette for not wanting to further decrease the selling price of eBooks.
Amazon say that lowering the price of eBooks can only be good for authors.
“Bliss it was to be alive in that dawn, but to be young was very heaven.”
From William Wordsworth’s poem French Revolution.
Well TGIF. And a Happy Bastille Day one month ahead of schedule and not only to my Gallic readers. It’s been a revolutionary few days hasn’t it? By Tuesday this week it was already what Hunter S. Thompson used to call “a fast week for news junkies”.
The Spring of 2013 must surely be one for the books, and I mean the history books. Mark the jet set hobo’s words. This has to be a Tipping Point. The audacity and the heartbreak of Turkey, as the situation teeters on the brink. It all started when the citizens of Istanbul got sick of their trees being taken away. But will Erdogan roll in the tanks now, in true dictator style? Social media might be the only thing stopping him. The world watches, at least I know I do. I am not given to these kinds of public declarations but I hope all the friends I have in Istanbul and beyond are safe. Fulya, Deniz, Christopher, Markus, Selcuk, Trixie and anyone I’ve left out. I know for sure they are all on the right side of fairness and toleration.
This has been a fast week for news. The polar ice caps are melting far quicker than scientists had earlier predicted, but all Sky news can talk about is Kate Middleton sunbathing topless. In an only slightly more newsworthy story involving British royalty, the Taliban attacked a British army base in an attempt to capture or kill Prince Harry. He obviously has one hell of a good publicist working under deep, deep cover these days. (People who were surprised or offended by his antics in Vegas should reflect that, whatever else he is, Harry is also an Army officer. Contrary to what some may believe, these chaps don’t all spend their off-duty hours playing billiards in the mess. It all seemed like fairly harmless horseplay to me. And anyway in terms of what used to be known as decorum, I think much worse is yet to come. For example, how many years can it be before we are forced to contemplate the spectacle of those orange skinned, sleeve-tattooed numpties, Lord and Lady Beckham of Essex?)
And now, ladies and gentlemen, enough biographical preamble from me.
Instead, this small taste of Sir Christopher White’s 175000 word manuscript,
A Definitive History of England
(Complete with footnotes)
Charles 1 1625-1649 (The Martyr)
The first Charles should have been a roaring success. He had jolly good taste, dressed as a gent should, looked corking on a horse, and had a suitably grand idea of who he was. He should have been a seriously romantic Monarch, but somehow loused it all up. Unfortunately, he had inherited his Dad’s groggy legs, and sadly also, a degree of that unworthy’s narrow-minded – we are loathe indeed to find ourselves obliged to use that expression for a King, and a King of England, too – almost suburban finickiness and indecisive lack of moral fibre. This last, he disguised with hauteur and considerable stubbornness.
Ex-Romanian Dictator Ceauşescu Exhumed: Forensic scientists have exhumed what are believed to be the bodies of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife Elena at the request of their children. Ceauşescu ruled Romania for 25 years with an iron first before being ousted and executed during the 1989 anti-communist revolt in which more than 1,000 people were killed. Some Romanians doubt that the Ceauşescus were really buried in the Ghencea military cemetery in west Bucharest.
Strange echoes of the legends surrounding Romania’s other famous tyrant Vlad Ţepeș AKA Dracula. It seems hard to believe there were any doubts about the Ceauşescus really being dead. They were hauled in front of TV cameras after being seized by an angry mob, and lined up against a wall to face a firing squad on Christmas day 1989.
Bill Clinton, booze, drugs, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Generation of the Swine, gonzo, Hunter S Thompson, Hunter Thompson, Mel Gibson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, San Francisco Examiner, Songs of the Doomed, United States, William S. Burroughs
“These are bad times for people who like to sit outside the library at dawn on a rainy morning and get ripped to the tits on crank and powerful music.”
Hunter S. Thompson, Songs of the Doomed
Today, July 18th, is Hunter S. Thompson’s 73rd birthday, or at least it would be if he hadn’t shot himself dead 5 years ago while his grandson played in another room of the rambling log cabin that was his home in Woody Creek, Colorado.
Based on those credentials, Hunter S. Thompson might present himself as an unlikely candidate for hero, literary or otherwise. Suffice to say that this lowly hack does have literary heroes, including figures as jumbled and miscellaneous as Lord Byron, Douglas Adams, Evelyn Waugh, William S. Burroughs and Oscar Wilde, and Hunter S. Thompson is one of them. That’s despite the fact I’m a cynical and jaded veteran of the journalistic trade and aware there are a lot of criticisms you can level at Thompson and his legacy. For one thing, he has become the poster boy for an awful lot of readers who cnta evne slpel tiher nwo nasem, let alone tell you for example the name of the current vice president of the United States. Well at least they’re reading something I guess.
Also, a parsing of any of Thompson’s numerous biographies and one quickly becomes aware of just how out-of-control the author of Hells Angels could get. At his worst, he must have been a fucking nightmare. A great screaming and shouting physical brute demanding expenses and room service and bottles of Chivas Regal sent up to his room so that he could finish his goddamn column. But it was even worse than that – it seems he beat his long-suffering first wife Sandy, and made a lot of other people suffer in the shadow of his savage temper. There was if we are honest, a little something of the ‘Mel Gibson in the night’ about the so-called good doctor.
And yet. However enthralling or appalling his antics were, the reason he had stood out in the first place was that at his best he wrote the same way a Cheetah can run. “A man of vast syntactical resources” as William F. Buckley put it. In the 2006 biopic ‘Hunter S. Thompson on Film’, Buckley also reads this piece by Thompson aloud.
The New European Environment – starring my brother Craig Young
An Emotional weather report
So, as usual after coffee and various salves I began my day with a check of the headlines and see Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called a snap election which she’ll probably win. Speaking of woman premieres, it seems Margaret Thatcher’s family are appalled by the idea of Meryl Streep playing Mrs T in a movie.
Speaking of …ecological disasters BP think they might have finally put a cap on the leak in the Gulf of Mexico. But I see also an oil pipeline has exploded in China and is keeping 2000 firefighters busy, which sounds like a pretty big blaze to me. The phrase “It’s a wonder these kind of things don’t happen more often” is fast becoming redundant. We’re all going to have to be brave to make it in this scary new world. Meanwhile, the environmental update from the Hungarian capital is that it’s hot… How hot? Well, it was 85 degrees Fahrenheit last night at 11pm in Budapest and this evening it is, as I like to say in a voice like Sam Elliott’s, still “hotter than a snake’s hide in a wagon rut” now at 7pm CET.
And I’m sitting here in the living room of this rather suitable-for-one apartment, trying to write with the television on. Christ, the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. CNN is the only English language channel I can get in my otherwise well equipped and well appointed gentleman’s quarterings in the 7th district, the oh-so boho old Jewish quarter of Budapest. Well, I can’t complain but sometimes I still do. I go to sleep every night in a bed fit for a Transylvanian Prince, in a heavy, antique furniture filled and airy apartment, equidistant to practically everything I need.
Finding gainful employment has been as slow as Continental drift, but that all seems to change around September, when the weather will also be agreeably cooler. Tomorrow, at least according to Wunderground, Budapest has a chance to cool down in the wake of a few welcome rainstorms that’ll wash the streets clean(ish) and give us all some relief. The so-called Jet-Set Hobo (might be time to hang up those spurs) is not cut out for this kind of heat – Not unless I’m near a beach with a pile of good books and someone nice to rub in the sun screen lotion. The position is open by the way, so if you’re glamorous and amorous, drop me a line. I make a good dry martini, I’m a good conversationalist and er, well that’s about it really I suppose.
‘At age 50, every man has the face he deserves.’
Lunched today with my friend Kiki today and not quite all we could talk about was the Mel Gibson affair. Continue reading
"Czech Republic", Africa, Bastille Day, Burkina Faso, Calendar girls, Côte d'Ivoire, Central African Republic, Femininity, France, French Revolution, Kristyna Koci, Nicolas Sarkozy, Niger, Public Affairs Party, William Wordsworth
Firstly, let’s get it out of the way ‘Joyeux jour de la Bastille‘. As I believe I have touched on before – this time last year – the French revolution has long been a source of fascination for your correspondent. Rather like the Sarkozy/Bruni Presidency, it began with high hopes: “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven” wrote an optimistic William Wordsworth, who was actually in revolutionary France at the very time the paysans (peasants) were revolting. Of course, that blissful dawn had soon turned into the Reign of Terror, quicker than the Gallic voting public of today’s disenchantment with a supermodel wife. Poor little Nicolas Sarkozy, he can’t seem to get anything right these days. Take today’s Bastille Day parade. This was an attempt apparently to acknowledge France’s colonial past, thus troops from 13 former African colonies paraded up and down the Champs-Élysées. Many commentators see this as a celebration of a past the French should, in general, be mightily ashamed of. Nonetheless, an all female unit of soldiers from Benin led the parade, followed by troops from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Central African Republic, Senegal, Chad and Togo and the Ivory Coast. More criticism followed due to the fact that, well, Niger for example is not exactly an exemplary democracy.
A little bit closer to my home in Budapest, and I submit for your attention, Kristyna Koci, Chief Negotiator for the Czech Republic’s ruling political party, the Public Affairs party.
I kid you not. The photograph is taken from a just released 2011 calendar put out by the Czech Public Affairs party. Continue reading