Friday, November 4, 2016

one kind favor

"I believe that the key to the future is in the remnants of the past."

~~ Bob Dylan

--------------------------------- [excerpt, Convention, 1976] ---------------------- Sam Donaldson, a loud and enterprising ABC floor correspondent, went up the stairs behind Askew. 

Donaldson hadn't been introduced, but the sight of Jimmy Carter waving and smiling up there was too much for him -- no one was talking to the candidate and Donaldson was the kind of reporter who abhorred auditory vacuums. 

He fought his way through the grinning politicians, stuck his microphone in Carter's face, and asked, "Well, did you think you had a snowball's chance at first?"

"I thought I'd win, yes."

"You have that cartoon in your den, though?" Donaldson said.

"Well, it's a great cartoon.  It was in the Athens, Georgia, newspaper.  They don't like me at all in that newspaper, so they drew a cartoon with me walking in the road carrying a Carter-for-president sign and the devil walking into hell with a snowball. 

And this guy is standing there and said, 'I'm betting on the snowball.'"

{Convention, by Richard Reeves.  Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.  New York and London.  1977}

Hubert Humphrey, left
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, right
1976 Democratic Convention


Honey, just allow me one more chance
To get along with you
Honey, just allow me one more chance
Ah'll do anything for you

Well, I'm a-walkin' down the road
With my head in my hand
I'm lookin' for a woman
Needs a worried man
Just-a one kind favor I ask of you
'Low me just-a one more chance

Honey, just allow me one more chance
To ride your aeroplane
Honey, just allow me one more chance
To ride your passenger train
Well, I've been lookin' all over
For a girl like you
I can't find nobody
So you'll have to do
Just-a one kind favor I ask o' you
'Low me just-a one more chance

Honey, just allow me one more chance
To get along with you
Honey, just allow me one more chance
Ah'll do anything for you
Well, lookin' for a woman
That ain't got no man
Is just lookin' for a needle
That's lost in the sand
Just-a one kind favor I ask o'you
'Low me just-a one more chance


(Who - hoo!)

Just-a one kind favor I ask of you
Allow  me just-a one more chance

{"Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance" - Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas, 1927.  Covered by Bob Dylan on his 1963 album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.}


------------------------ [Gatsby excerpt] ----------------------- I couldn't forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified.  It was all very careless and confused. 

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made....

I shook hands with him; it seemed silly not to, for I felt suddenly as though I were talking to a child.  Then he went into the jewelry store to buy a pearl necklace -- or perhaps only a pair of cuff buttons -- rid of  my provincial squeamishness forever.

Gatsby's house was still empty when I left -- the grass on his lawn had grown as long as mine....

I spent my Saturday nights in New York because those gleaming, dazzling parties of his were with me so vividly that I could still hear the music and the laughter, faint and incessant, from his garden, and the cars going up and down his drive. 

One night I did hear a material car there, and saw its lights stop at his front steps.  But I didn't investigate.  Probably it was some final guest who had been away at the ends of the earth and didn't know that the party was over.

On the last night, with my trunk packed and my car sold to the grocer, I went over and looked at that huge incoherent failure of a house once more. 

On the white steps an obscene word, scrawled by some boy with a piece of brick, stood out clearly in the moonlight, and I erased it, drawing my shoe raspingly along the stone. 

Then I wandered down to the beach and sprawled out on the sand.

Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound.  And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes -- a fresh, green breast of the new world. 

Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. 

He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. 

He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.  It eluded us then, but that's no matter -- to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther....

And one fine morning --

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

{The Great Gatsby, 1925}


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