Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The B-58 Hustler Was a Gorgeous Killing Machine

Got the new Luna album, "Rendezvous" in the mail today. It came out in October, so it goes to show you how much I've been paying attention. It has Chas Krider photos on the front, which is great. For the two people who are reading this and like me enough to maybe go in on a Christmas present, Chas Krider's photo book of hot women in retro lingerie peeing in dingy motel rooms, "Motel Fetish," will do just fine. Just remember: if Luna used his photos on their album, they are sensitive and romantic, and not cheap porn.

Ah, sensitive and romantic. Yes, Luna. This is quite possibly the best make-out album ever. Though I've yet to put it to the test. This is a romantic, blissful make-out soundtrack--lots of eyelid kisses and earlobe nibbling, lots of staring into each other's eyes and feeling like you've come home, like this moment could really be elongated in the space-time continuum--the subjective feeling of forever in the midst of a heartless vacuum wherein time marches on (until it folds in upon itself). I suppose, that in its way, it's like every Luna album.

I guess Jetset sent me this CD two months after the fact because Luna is playing at the Fillmore soon. I think I'll talk to Kimberly and see if I can do a piece on them before the show. I need to make some amends on that front--I was amazingly lackadaisical and lame with my mclusky article. I was in Miami, partying with garbagemen for my day job, and I sort of dropped the ball on the edit. (You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the brand manager from Glad, who is gay, stick his face in the ass of your drunken co-worker as she gyrates from a stripper pole in South Beach.) Actually, I really dropped the ball--as in dropping a 100 pound medicine ball on my foot. Don't let anyone tell you Kimberly Chun is a bad sort--she is a good egg with infinite patience to deal with the likes of me.

I am a moody, depressive sort, and hypersensitive to boot. I look tough (I'm told), but I'm all weepy on the inside. I feel one of those "always on the edge of crying" periods looming ahead...the Clash were "overpowered by funk," which resulted in one of their worst records--certainly the worst side B to any of their albums. (Of course, there were the 3 good songs on the SIX SIDES of "Sandinista!" all the Clash apologists out there...fuck you, dearly...that three record set could've easily been an EP.) Anyhow, I'm "overpowered by weltschemerz." I get into a serious funk—overpowered by it, no less—wherein I find it hard to believe anyone’s happy. I can smile, but they’re sad smiles, like you smile at your father when he has Alzheimer’s disease and you finally get over the annoyance that he’s said, “You do nice work” nine times as you put the lights on the Christmas tree, and you realize on the tenth time that it’s really the first time for him, and that his mind is running the same circles on the Habitrail, round and round, with maybe a sneaking suspicion that he’s annoying his impatient son. This is the man who put himself through Stanford Law by working in an ice factory, by riveting the sheet metal to make the B-58 Hustler supersonic bomber.

What a sexy, well-named machine, the B-58 Hustler. It’s a little known fact, but Jimmy Stewart flew them, toward the end of his time in the Air Force. It’s a goddamned shame that the B-58 Hustler was never used in combat, spreading her sleek, sexy legs to rain death upon some unfortunate, poor bastard in a steel helmet, with some canned cabbage and a stamped-metal Kalashnikov clenched between his legs as he pissed his pants. Actually, he would have never heard the plane until he’d been blown apart by the bombs, so he wouldn’t have had the warm, yellow comfort of losing bladder control. That’s the beauty and the humanity of a supersonic bomber—silent death. The sonic boom is for the trees to enjoy—everyone else is dead. Actually, the B-58 flew at twice the speed of sound and carried nukes, so the chances are relatively few of the people destroyed by it would’ve been soldiers. It became outmoded by ICBMs. There’s something about global, thermonuclear destruction delivered by a real live air crew that has a personal touch, really tells the Russkies, “Hey, we care.” Ah, the Cold War, doesn’t it seem quaint? But do you remember when the Russian Air Force shot down the Korean Airlines jet? Those were some scary fucking days, man…”I’d like to protest, but I’m not sure what it’s for/ I guess I got no control, over the threat of nuclear war”—Hüsker Dü. I drew skulls and mushroom clouds all over my Pee-Chee folders. It was almost a let-down when the Soviet Union collapsed like a sick dog as I graduated high school. What to do? What to do? Where will all the amorphous paranoia and ambiguous malaise come from? Kids these days don’t understand what we went through—we weren’t afraid of war; we were afraid of being vaporized in our sleep. I really thought Kruschev would end up right when he said “We will bury you.” Of course, I thought we’d bury him too. But not in Levi’s and McDonald’s franchises.

Instead of the B-58, the world has been saddled with the blunt, abject ugliness, the Jimmy Durante aesthetics of the B-52 for over half a century. They don’t call it the BUFF--“Big Ugly Fat Fucker”--for nothing. If the Air Force would’ve de-virginized the Hustler, there’d be some dead people with my father to thank, at least for the rivets. “So long, and thanks for all the rivets.”

I just looked up Mr. Stewart on Wikipedia. Apparently, he flew over 50 bombing missions over Europe in a B-24 Liberator, and retired from the Air Force Reserve as a Brigadier General. No fucking shit. His final mission, at his request, was over Vietnam. Mr. Smith goes to Hanoi. It’s time for a Heroine Sheiks quote: “And there’s some Viet cats, who got their asses waxed, if there’s one word they know, it’s G.I. Joe, Joe, Joe.” It’s a wonderful life, eh Jimmy? As my tour guide at the Cu Chi tunnels—underneath a free-fire zone called the Iron Triangle by the U.S. because it just couldn’t be destroyed, just outside of Saigon—said, “the U.S. soldiers had a hard time getting through the tunnels—too many cheeseburgers. Too much Tiger beer.”

My dad trained to fly a B-25 Mitchell. But he flunked out of twin-engine, and then the war ended. He retired from the Air Force Reserves as a Lieutenant Colonel without ever dropping an explosive in the middle of someone’s day.

Anyhow, yeah. So. Know what I mean? I look at everyone, and I feel sadness. I feel the first noble truth: Life is suffering. It’s unsatisfactory. Off-kilter. That’s the original Hebrew meaning of sin—off-cenetered. When people look happy, I think they’re faking it. Or, I think of the saying “this too, shall pass.” Everything is ephemeral, grasshopper. Those moments of bliss are just road signs on the Superhighway of Despair.

And everything is cyclical, of course. That paragraph above? I’ll leave it to the Duncan Scott Davidson critics of the future to find the five other times I’ve written the exact same thing.

Interviewed Jay Munly or Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and Munly and the Lee Lewis Harlots (and of his own solo works) earlier tonight. He is an interesting, kind-hearted individual with a degree in English from Columbia University who isn’t above admitting he finds hockey violence entertaining, and that there is some degree of fear in his Catholicism. If you don’t have any of his records, please get some. I’m wearing this one out, but I’ll say it again: Tennessee Ernie Ford meets Nick Cave. So good. I’m supposed to be doing an article for Skyscraper, but the editor is still planning the winter issue. Of late, things are imploding, so I won’t count on it.

Did I mention tomorrow is my last day at Plan B? I will be getting a weeks work of freelance work a month, which is good. Now I need to find the other 3/4 of a job. Dear Understanding Individual Who Isn’t Reading This: why don’t you read this? Why don’t you look beyond your nose and beyond the tattoos on my hands and have the wherewithal to realize that though I may be moody, I am paper-trained and at least nominally brilliant, aside from being marginally self-obsessed. Like the retarded man on the bus-stop poster, “I can help your business.”

Did I tell you I got hit by a car? They cancelled the races at San Ramon last Saturday. Once again, the track was too wet. I love and respect Shane for being the track operator at two BMX tracks despite having a real job, so I will refrain from being snippy about that particular let-down. So Scott and I hit the trails in Golden Gate Park, along with the few jumps that are hidden on them. I popped out of a trail onto the sidewalk on Fulton, saw the light for the crosswalk was green, and hit it. There was a lady poised to make a right turn, and I imagine she’d already looked my way. When I wasn’t there. So she started going, and there was a little car/bike friction. I didn’t even get knocked over, and I was much more worried about my bike than myself. She was very concerned and apologetic. I thought my bike was cool, but it’s emitting a strange noise, which I think is my pedal. My bike is my baby, and I can’t countenance loud pedals. What is it with me and pedals? I paid $100 for a pair of magnesium pedals from Specialized, and I broke the spindle trying to tighten the play out of them. They’re sending me a new pair, though—in time to replace my car-christened DK magnesiums.

Is magnesium really better? Probably not. But it’s fun to have magnesium and titanium parts on my race bike. It’s so exotic—makes me feel like Howard Hughes.

Oh, and sorry to let the air out of the bag, but I just did some digging around online, and it seems that B. Gen. James Stewart flew “in” a B-58 Hustler—meaning he took a Mach 2 ride in one, but was never assigned to the aircraft. Also, piecing the dates together, I think my dad riveted something else…I think he was a little early for the Hustler. Oh well. She still was a beautiful plane.

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