Fat City

images.jpgLeave out the magic realism and switch from Albany, New York, to Stockton, California, and you might think you were reading William Kennedy. Leonard Gardener’s Fat City, despite the comparison to another excellent American author, is on it’s own a very good book.

If you know California, Stockton is not Sacramento; not San Francisco; not even San Jose. It is, however, an important hub for the commerce of California as a part of the major San Francisco economic zone. But Stockton has had its share of tough times. Wikipedia provides a depressing list of recent ills:

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Apple and the Conservative Noise Machine

AppleAs those who have followed this weblog from the beginning know, I have been highly critical of Apple on several occasions. Going all the way back to 1977 I have experienced great triumphs with Apple and also several highly disappointing failures. Did you buy a Lisa? An Apple serial card for your Apple ][? What about that Cube thing? So despite my allegiance to Apple products and my complete avoidance of anything from WINDOZ, I am aware that Apple is not sacrosanct and I will readily admit it.

However, Apple is the most successful company on earth and the second most successful company in the history of the earth (the original Dutch East India Company has top honors when adjusted for the present value of money). I smile nowadays when I think back to the dark ages when all the rumors were that AT&T was going to buy out Apple—that Apple was in a death spiral—and now they are poised to become the first one trillion dollar company in the modern era. Where is IBM? Where is AT&T? Where is GE?

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Morbid Stories Are Good For Children

OZWhen I was young I was often sick and spent many hours lying in bed either moaning in a darkened room with the measles (no vaccines then) or proped up on one elbow reading books and scratching my chicken pox. Sometimes I had books from the library and other times I had to rely on books that accumulated around the house. I got most of my books from Goodwill, used and often musty. Some of my books had evidently belonged to my parents, favorite stories from when they were young and impressed by Jack Hawkins, Bill Sikes,  or Dorothy Gale.

I still have vivid memories of avidly reading those over-the-rainbow books by the local San Diego author L. Frank Baum and unexpectedly flipping to a gnarly and often damned scary illustration that might interrupt my sleep for weeks. Or how about that wonderful illustration by the much revered illustrator N. C. Wyeth in the book Treasure Island that showed the gruesome skeleton of a pirate who had been marooned on the island long ago. In fact, just the concept of being marooned all alone on a desert island added a new level of fright and concern to both my waking and sleeping hours for years to come.

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The New Grapes of Wrath

ImmigrantsThis is from today’s feed of The Daily Beast. It’s amazing how life is mirrored in literature and it’s even more amazing that these same attitudes have persisted since this country began. Last night Bill Maher recommended that anyone coming to this country with innocent hope should not believe anything they read on statues. Sad,  but unfortunately true. And in this land of immigrants (oh how soon they forget) that systematically grabbed the land from the indigenous peoples, is still out there screaming and cursing at whatever the latest immigrants happen to be: the Germans, the Poles, the Irish, the Italians, the Latinos, the Children.

Did you notice that Creationist Ken Ham has declared that we should stop all future space exploration because any space aliens we might find haven’t heard the good news of Jesus and therefore are damned to perdition. So when Jesus returns and the world ends, all the non-Christians in the universe, including BEMS, will be destroyed … so why worry about them.

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