Thursday

Jul. 18, 2013

That Reminds Me

by Ogden Nash

Just imagine yourself seated on a shadowy terrace,
And beside you is a girl who stirs you more strangely than an
      heiress,
It is a summer evening at its most superb,
And the moonlight reminds you that To Love is an active verb.
And your hand clasps hers, which rests there without shrinking,
And after a silence fraught with romance you ask her what she is
      thinking,
And she starts and returns from the moon-washed distances to the
      shadowy veranda,
And says, Oh I was wondering how many bamboo shoots a day it
      takes to feed a baby Giant Panda.
Or you stand with her on a hilltop and gaze on a winter sunset,
And everything is as starkly beautiful as a page from Sigrid Undset,
And your arm goes round her waist and you make an avowal
      which for masterfully marshaled emotional content might have
      been a page of Ouida's or Thackeray's,
And after a silence fraught with romance she says, I forgot to or-
      der the limes for the Daiquiris.
Or in a twilight drawing room you have just asked the most mo-
      mentous of questions,
And after a silence fraught with romance she says, I think this
      little table would look better where that little table is, but
      then where would that little table go, have you any sugges-
      tions?
And that's the way they go around hitting below our belts;
It isn't that nothing is sacred to them, it's just that at the Sacred
      Moment they are always thinking of something else.

"That Reminds Me" by Ogden Nash, from The Best of Ogden Nash. © Ivan R. Dee, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Today is believed to be the anniversary of the fire that burned Rome in 64 A.D., while the emperor Nero supposedly played his fiddle. In fact, Nero wasn't even in Rome when the fire broke out. He was 35 miles away at his holiday villa on the coast, and his own palace was one of the buildings that burned.

Nero apparently decided that the fire needed to be blamed on someone else. And so he singled out a new religious group only a few decades old: Christians. He had them crucified in the streets and burned at the stake. The historian Tacitus later argued that Nero's persecution of the Christians went too far, and that it had the unintended effect of making people sympathize with the Christians. It's possible that Nero's decision to blame Christians for the fire gave them the publicity they needed to help spread their ideas.
A little more than 200 years after Nero picked the Christians as his scapegoat, the emperor of the Roman Empire himself converted to Christianity, and it became the dominant religion of Europe for more than 1,500 years.

It's the birthday of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (books by this author), born in Louisville, Kentucky (1939). He was trying to make it as a freelance writer, living with his mother, when he was hired by The Nation magazine to write a brief investigative article about the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang. After his article was published, he got a call from a publisher offering him $1,500 to write a book on the same subject.

Thompson used the advance to buy a motorcycle and began driving around the country, meeting bikers and writing about them. He almost died doing his research one day when five Hell's Angels suddenly turned on him and beat him senseless. But he survived, and in 1967, he published his book Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.

In 1971, he published his most famous book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In it, he wrote: "Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas ... with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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