Presidential stuff

Don’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but if you happen to like a good book — a good study of a scoundrel, a slave-driver driving himself the hardest of all, a book to grip you and carry you and thrill and tempt you, you could do a lot worse than take up Robert Caro’s the Years of Lyndon Johnson.

I borrowed the first volume (The Path to Power, 1982) from the university library last summer — just since it seemed mildly interesting — and read a bit of it every day before going to sleep.*

Then, when my slept hours grew uncomfortably few, I shifted the book to late-afternoon reading. I went through it like a chain-smoker through a pack of cigarettes, like a worm through the carcass of a beached whale, though that fails to convey the enjoyable-ness of the read. Having finished, with a faint “Ping!” of loss as with every good book, I told myself “Well, excellent, an excellent book! Now for something else entirely!”

And then I went and borrowed and read the second part (Means of Ascent, 1990). And swore I’d not borrow the third because, you know, then I’d be frustrated by the fact that the fourth part isn’t out yet.

And the next day I got the third part (Master of the Senate, 2002), read it over the Christmas break, and now I’m anxiously waiting for the fourth.

Hey, the publication intervals have only been 8 and 12 years, so the fourth should be out in 2018…

Sorry; have to go and breathe in a paper bag for a bit. Won’t take so long. Won’t take so long. Ugh.

And — and this is the true purpose of this post — would you like to hear a real, really real recording of President Lyndon B. Johnson ordering pants for himself? (Edit: fixed broken link.)

I knew you would. (“Now, another thing: the crotch, down where your nuts hang, is always a little too tight.”)

Oh, those rascally recording White House types.

For some reason, I can’t stop thinking “I need a bit of this as my ringtone”, and giggling at the absurdity of the thought. Though maybe I should find a recording of Nixon swearing instead?

(What? You mean there’s some other presidential stuff happening? Well, sorry if this wasn’t what you were looking for. If you’re looking for Obama’s inauguration and the shaving-off of the Bush, you’ll find nothing of that here. No sirree!)

* * *

* = “Read […] before going to sleep”. Well, some books you read while eating, some you roar through whenever you have only a minute, some are on your phone (for toilet trips while at the university) or Cybook, and some are for when you s(h)it on the porcelain goddess. And the rest, well, are for the normal reading time. (Excess? There is no such thing!)

2 Responses to “Presidential stuff”

  1. adrienne Says:

    Hi, I’m Adrienne; we haven’t met — found your blog through a search on Archimedes. If you like Caro’s writing, I highly recommend The Power Broker, his study of Robert Moses, NYC’s notorious Parks Commissioner.

    For example, a summary of one of the book’s many fascinating vignettes: During the ’30s, Moses deployed 5400 workers on the WPA payroll to “build up” the marshland near Coney Island by filling it in with sand and thus making it a viable site for property development. Moses didn’t trust government labor – he once classified all his employees as “villains” – and one blustery afternoon, he and a deputy sneaked into the cupola of a nearby mansion to observe them at work. What Moses saw confirmed his suspicions: thousands of men sitting idle, passing wine, playing dice, and burning the handles of their tools for warmth.

    Years later, Moses responded by “filling in” the marsh himself — that is, with raw sewage, delivered by dump truck, straight from the Coney Island reclamation plant.

  2. masksoferis Says:

    Hi, Adrienne.

    I almost grumbled a bit about the difficulty of finding that book, but then I decided to check the university library one more time — and bang! this time The Power Broker was there.

    A bit of investigation revealed that apparently the gnomes who designed the library’s electric system decided that a book catalogued as “The Power Broker” would be found if one searched for “Power Broker”, but would remain hidden should the search string be “The Power Broker” instead.

    I wish I was kidding.

    Thanks for mentioning the book, and thus helping find it!

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