Tuesday, June 27, 2017

the last book I ever read (Evita, First Lady: A Biography of Eva Perón, excerpt two)

from Evita, First Lady: A Biography of Eva Perón by John Barnes:

The early months of 1945 were not good ones for Perón and Eva. They finally realized they had picked a loser in Nazi Germany, and their humiliation was rubbed in by Winston Churchill who commented: ‘They have chosen to dally with evil but not only with evil but with the losing side.’ Their country stood friendless in the world. And, understandably, relations with the Americans were the worst they had ever been; President Franklin D. Roosevelt pointedly remarked on ‘the extraordinary paradox of the growth of Nazi-Fascist methods in a country of this hemisphere at the very time that these forces of aggression and oppression are drawing ever closer to the hour of defeat.’ In undiplomatic language, the US Ambassador to Argentina, Spruille Braden, referred to the military regime as one ‘which in commong honesty no one could call anything but fascist, and typically fascist.’ Angrily, Perón responded: ‘Some say that what I am doing follows the policy of Nazism. All I can say is this: If the Nazis did this, they had the right idea.’ When his hero, Benito Mussolini, was executed by Italian partisans, he defiantly eulogized him: ‘Mussolini ws the greatest man of this century, but he committed certain disastrous errors. I, who have the advantage of his precedent before me, shall follow in his footsteps but also avoid his mistakes.’ To make sure the Argentines did not get ideas about one precedent, Perón banned all newsreel film that showed Mussolini’s body hanging by the heels alongside that of his mistress.



Monday, June 26, 2017

the last book I ever read (Evita, First Lady: A Biography of Eva Perón, excerpt one)

from Evita, First Lady: A Biography of Eva Perón by John Barnes:

Life was rough for Juana Ibarguren for the next couple of years. Juan Duarte had been her sole means of support. All that he left her was a legal declaration that her children were his – in order for them to be able to bear his name. So, in order to pay the rent for her tiny one-room house, she and the girls hired themselves out as cooks in the home of the local estancias. It was then that Eva got her first close look at the rich, powerful families who controlled Argentina through the wealth generated by their ownership of the land. In Buenos Aires Province, which includes Los Toldos and is the largest of the pampas provinces, 15 families owned a million acres of land each. Another 50 families owned 50,000 acres. The estancias where Eva often worked existed virtually as independent mini-kingdoms. They had their own schools, chapels and hospitals. The estanciero families would divide their year between Paris and Buenos Aires, visiting the estancia usually at Christmas-time, at the start of the long, hot Argentine summer. Their journey to and from their nearest pampas railway station was, more often than not, their only connection with the tiny pueblos that had grown up around the stations that the British-owned railways had built to serve the estancias. For Eva, helping out in the kitchens, it was a world to be gawked at as a child – the crowds of guests and children, the nannies, governesses and major domos, and the patron, wearing the inevitable, expensive imitation of the clothes that the impoverished gauchos wore on the plains.



Friday, June 23, 2017

the last book I ever read (Denis Johnson's Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond, excerpt twelve)

from Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond by Denis Johnson:

Certainly I hadn’t forgotten: I had a small fortune in U.S. hundreds folded into tiny strips and secreted in the waistline of my pants. It was too late for bribes. The Commissaire adjusted the large pad of lined white paper on the desk before him and asked me about my purpose and my activities in his country. I told them everything I could remember.

I gave them everyone’s name and explained what each one had done without any understanding that these simple acts the Liberians had performed on my behalf were condemnable. No, not these simple acts, but the names themselves condemned them, nothing more than their own names, because in much of the world nothing at all can actually be permitted, and simply to make your existence known is to demand punishment. But none of this occurred to me. I was angry and I wanted to make them work, writing down lots and lots of details, names and dates and places, my every move from the moment I stepped off the plane in Abidjan until I crossed the border three days later. In this way I betrayed every last person who had helped me.



Thursday, June 22, 2017

the last book I ever read (Denis Johnson's Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond, excerpt eleven)

from Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond by Denis Johnson:

The most spectacular character-building was being undertaken by one of my classmates, a paralyzed kid in a wheelchair. His houseboy pitched his tent for him on a metropolis of jungle fire ants and drove away, and this boy spent the weekend trading his supply of ice-water—a big jug of it he had—for insecticide and bug repellant. Although we weren’t friends, just vaguely acquainted, under these unusual circumstances I suddenly recognized that we were a lot alike. He allowed himself to be enrolled in everything, clubs, Little League, choir, and so on, but he refused to stick to his script—we were supposed to admire and pity him and he was supposed to be cool, but actually he acted like a big brat, uncontrollably dissatisfied and constantly sneering or complaining or acting defeated. I still see him slumped over in his wheelchair, flushed with baby anger, squirting poison fumes into the dirt around him.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

the last book I ever read (Denis Johnson's Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond, excerpt ten)

from Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond by Denis Johnson:

As we gathered miscellaneous half-rotten sticks for firewood, our scoutmaster instructed us in the ancient incendiary arts. Our scoutmaster frightened me. I think his name was Jerry, a bald, spectacled figure who looked as if he’d been only recently let out of a Japanese prison camp; but this impression was wrong; he’d been let out some seventeen years before. Like many Euros who’ve lived for decades in the tropics, he’d lost a lot of his body hair and all of his fat and seemed fabricated out of cords and paper. He regarded those days of captivity and torture at the nads of his enemies as the primary character-building experience of his life, and he was bent on duplicating it, in every way possible, for his Scouts. He was enthusiastic about this opportunity. The other boys took Jerry’s attitude in stride, as far as I could tell.

The Scouts aim to build character and impart a wilderness savoir-faire with Native American overtones that would meld the Lone Ranger and Tonto into one small young self-sufficient good guy. The atmosphere on this campout was one of military discipline constantly marred by sobs and outbursts, because the Scouts were children, after all.



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

the last book I ever read (Denis Johnson's Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond, excerpt nine)

from Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond by Denis Johnson:

The previous year, Patricia Rudolph had taken Eric and another brother, Jamie, to a commune in Schell City, Missouri, run by the Church of Israel, which was at that time, but no longer, associated with the Christian Identity movement. Christian Identity doctrine claims that Jews descended from the union of Eve and Satan, and that Anglo-Saxons are the true Chosen People. Patricia, Eric, and Jamie stayed in the commune about six months, according to pastor Don Gayman.

In high school Eric wrote a paper arguing that the Holocaust never happened. Patricia Rudolph wouldn’t disclose her children’s Social Security numbers to school officials. Eric Rudolph later rented homes under aliases and registered vehicles under phony addresses. He has never applied for a credit card or opened a bank account.



Monday, June 19, 2017

the last book I ever read (Denis Johnson's Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond, excerpt eight)

from Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond by Denis Johnson:

“This is for the FBI and the media,” Daniel Rudolph, brother of Eric, said into a video camera he’d rigged in his garage near Summerville, South Carolina, last February, and then turned to a whirring radial-arm saw and cut off his left hand at the wrist. Dressed in a white shirt and tie and wearing a tourniquet on his upper arm, he wrapped his stump with a towel and drove himself to the hospital. Paramedics retrieved the hand. Doctors reattached it. The local police chief of investigators who viewed Daniel’s videotape, “They never want to see it again.” Apparently feeling implicated, the FBI issued a statement: “Daniel Rudolph’s decision to maim himself is regrettable and totally unexpected.” Neighbors questioned by the media claimed Daniel had never struck them as anything but completely stable. Reporters hunted down a former landlady in Florida who highly recommended Daniel and his wife as tenants and said they’d once baked her elderly mother a cake. The videotape was sent to the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit.