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1979: Albert's (in Omaha) is lit!

Sunday, March 29, 2015


This, to me, is proof that P.J. O'Rourke used to be funny, and not just when he was a commie agitator thinking of ways to put tits in the National Lampoon. No, he was still funny way into his downhill political slide, and he only really stopped being funny when he finally got the memo to always punch down, not up, not straight across, just down.

But here he is, in 1988, perhaps at the point where rising conservatism and not-yet-plunging humor met on the graph, resulting in what I still regard as genuine American humor in the tradition of Twain, at the end of a longish Rolling Stone piece where he visited the world's trouble spots, only to find more love for us than hate in those heady days before George W. Bush.

(Hey, maybe that's why he stopped being funny. Cheering on the death of satire might do that to you. Seems more likely, though, that he was replaced by a smarmy clone with the humor section replaced with a sign that says REMEMBER THAT JIMMY CARTER IS UGLY.)

Anyway, after all the war zones, he goes to the place where he can still find America haters.

Back in London, I was having dinner in the Groucho Club—this week’s in-spot for what’s left of Britain’s lit glitz and nouveau rock riche—when one more person started in on the Stars and Stripes. Eventually he got, as the Europeans do, to the part about “Your country’s never been invaded.” (This fellow had been two during the Blitz, you see.) “You don’t know the horror, the suffering, you think war is… 
I snapped.
“A John Wayne movie,” I said. “That’s what you were going to say, wasn’t it? We think war is a John Wayne movie. We think life is a John Wayne movie—with good guys and bad guys, as simple as that. Well, you know something, Mister Limey Poofter? You’re right. And let me tell you who those bad guys are. They’re us. WE BE BAD.  
“We’re the baddest-assed sons of bitches that ever jogged in Reeboks. We’re three-quarters grizzly bear and two-thirds car wreck and descended from a stock market crash on our mother’s side. You take your Germany, France, and Spain, roll them all together and it wouldn’t give us room to park our cars. We’re the big boys, Jack, the original, giant, economy-sized, new and improved butt kickers of all time. When we snort coke in Houston, people lose their hats in Cap d’Antibes. And we’ve got an American Express card credit limit higher than your piss-ant metric numbers go.  
“You say our country’s never been invaded? You’re right, little buddy. Because I’d like to see the needle-dicked foreigners who’d have the guts to try. We drink napalm to get our hearts started in the morning. A rape and a mugging is our way of saying ‘Cheerio.’ Hell can’t hold our sock-hops. We walk taller, talk louder, spit further, fuck longer and buy more things than you know the names of. I’d rather be a junkie in a New York City jail than king, queen, and jack of all Europeans. We eat little countries like this for breakfat and shit them out before lunch.” 
Of course, the guy should have punched me. But this was Europe. He just smiled his shabby, superior European smile…

PJ O’Rourke (the funny one) in Holidays in Hell


Kenneth J. DeVries said...

Hi Kip. I tried to comment on an earlier post of yours but somehow did not succeed. Maybe I am a robot. Totally off-topic here but I don't have your email. Would you be interested in drawing a one-page six-panel gag strip from a script of mine? I have been writing them occasionally and roping other artists into drawing them for me. Take a look at http://1-pagers.blogspot.com/ and let me know
nenslo at yahoo dot com

Kip W [Muffaroo] said...

Ken, I replied over at your one-pager blog, in the one about the escaped lunatic.

Doug said...

I "performed" that passage in an "Oral Interpretation of Literature" class, circa 1989. I don't know if I knew how to pronounce Cap d'Antibes correctly.

The grad student teaching this was from the theater department and the definition of literature included almost anything, included a monologue from "The Terminator". I had most of O'Rourkes books that could be had at the time, and Holidays in Hell was the latest, so it was a bit lazy on my part. I tried to pull off a foaming at the mouth ugly American.

R.I.P. Funny P.J.

Kip W [Muffaroo] said...

I wouldn't have minded seeing that. To me, this is in the tradition of Mark Twain and riverboat bragging, though in its present context, it's the ugly American.

I generally audition with a cutting from an H. Allen Smith novel, Mr. Zip, which is about a movie cowboy, not Manic Mailman. It also shows up as an excerpt, "Slanthead Elder Reminisces," in The Best of H. Allen Smith. "There ain't no West!…"

Kip W [Muffaroo] said...

In fact, I've included that Smith cutting in the blog before. Here it is.