Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gore Vidal


Gore Vidal died today, and the words they used to describe him in The Times and on the radio were words I’ve never used in this life. Words like -- Bombastic, Titan, Iconoclast.

As a matter of fact, I never knew what iconoclast meant until maybe ten years ago when a neighbor characterized herself as such. Using her as an example, I assumed it meant recluse. But then I looked it up and found out otherwise.

True iconoclasts don't go around calling themselves iconoclasts, they just call themselves right.

Not sure how right Vidal was about anything. On the radio today, they played some clips, old TV interview clips, Vidal arguing with Norman Mailer, William Buckley. They called each other names -- Manson, queer, Nazi.

Mailer came off the worst, but none of them sounded very bright.

Writers tend to think best through their fingers. Not sure how that works, but it must happen sometime early in life when brilliance drains from the brain to the arms, to the hands, to the pen or keyboard. It's a pretty straight path and doesn't often take time for detours.

I liked Julian, the only novel of his, or anything of his for that matter, I ever read. Sorry he’s dead, though, admittedly, I thought he had died some time ago.

40 comments:

  1. I'm not sure how right he was about anything either. However, I'm more sure how right you are about, uh, some things.
    Btw, I heard Vidal has actually been dead since -not today - but, yesterday...if not before.

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  2. "Writers tend to think best through their fingers."

    Good observation. I like what you wrote.

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  3. Your comment about writers thinking best may be true, then again, their fingers could be wrong at times...
    Iconoclast sounds harsh, then again, he was harsh at times in his interviews that I saw.

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  4. I've never read any of his works. I'm not much of a literary type. I flunked poetry class in school which may give you a sense of my interpretive reading skills. Based on the caustic reviews of his stuff, I wouldn't like it. I like yours because it's creative, thoughtful and entertaining. Don't become an iconoclast. I'll stop reading.

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  5. I'll do my best to avoid the iconoclast potholes, Pierre.

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  6. I'd like to put in a quick word for his essays, most of which were about U.S. politics. Even if you don't agree with his dark view, I think you'll be impressed with the writing - articulate, focused and much more based in fact than what you read these days.

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  7. What a lovely photo.

    I have actually read some of his Box mysteries, some novels, too.

    Quite a life.

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  8. Loved to see Vidal, Mailer and Buckley go at each other. In the end... mostly blood remained.

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  9. I'm pretty sure I have a couple of his novels, but confess to having not read them. Looks like I'm not alone. But your sky is surely pretty, and in the summertime, that's almost better than reading anything, because it reminds us of our childhood's time to just lounge around, which we no longer enjoy as adults.

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  10. Marion and I often say that artists and musicians should not be allowed to speak in public. However wonderful their work is, their words are often pretty wrongheaded. Perhaps we should include writers too.

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  11. The Ali G thing is pretty funny. I especially like the part at the end where Ali G says that Vidal is also a world-famous hair stylist.

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  12. Birdman and Terry, the funny thing about Mailer is that my first exposure to him was as a kid watching Dick Cavett. And I thought he sounded really stupid. But then I read his brilliant book, Barbary Shore, and wondered how they -- the loudmouth and the writer, could be the same person.

    K and Jean, maybe I will. But there's so much to read. I'm kind of with Marjie -- spending lots of time looking at the sky.

    And Earl, must admit, I had to google both the Vidals to make sure it was spelled the same in both cases. I'm an Ali-G fan -- although, if you ever hear him interviewed, he is not the least bit funny in real life.

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  13. And remember when Lilly Tomlin as the phone operator, Ernestine, would refer to him as "Mr. Veedle"?

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  14. NO! But since I'm supposed to be working very hard on something extremely important, I took the time to find this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9e3dTOJi0o

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  15. what a character he was. rest in peace, but his character will always live on.

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  16. I haven't read any Gore Vidal but I'm impressed that he remained a perfect gentleman through that Ali G interview.

    Ali G is hilarious. So is Lily Tomlin. I should be working on something extremely important too, like getting some sleep, but instead I'm searching for clips of her playing Tommy Velour.

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  17. I liked hearing Gore Vidal attack George W Bush and the war in Iraq, but disliked him when he spoke rather too ascerbically about things that I agreed with.. Still, he had the guts to speak out, and we need more like him. I wonder if there are any clips of Al Gore, Gore Vidal and Vidal Sassoon together?

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  18. The only book by him I finished reading was Burr, and I loved it - he really challenges the political icons of the day. I read a few essays, but they all seemed so angry, I stopped. I kept trying to read his other novels, but they were too complicated for me right off the bat - too many characters, too many words. But he spoke at an anti-Iraq war in Hollywood I was at and I was bowled over by his intellect and passion.

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  19. Since I love a good essay, angry or not, I will check it out. They played another clip on the radio the other day which was quite funny. He said he wasn't a famous writer because few people read anymore. And saying someone is a famous writer is like saying someone is a famous ceramist. "Now, someone might be a very good ceramist, but no one would ever call him famous."

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  20. Bellis, next time Susan has insomnia we'll have her look for it.

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  21. I remember seeing him on TV talk shows way back when. He came off as condescending and holier-than-thou, but I loved the resonance of his voice.

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  22. I think you are so right! Some folks, mainly writers (like the group you mentioned), pro athletes and movie stars, really need to just do what they do and keep their opinions on things to themselves. They rarely come off looking well when they open their yaps. In my personal on-board encyclopedia, the word iconoclast is synonymous with the word ***hole.

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  23. "Writers tend to think best through their fingers." One of your best paragraphs. I mean what follows that sentence...perfect.

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  24. Even the worst people become beloved when they die, especially when they're famous.

    I had a hard time watching the Ali G interview, even though Vidal handled it well and I laughed a couple of times. There's something about the lie of Ali G that makes me uncomfortable.

    Some writing is of its time. I don't know if his stuff will last. My mother had his books. She was a writer, and admired him.

    That's a gorgeous photo.

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  25. Second only to my fame as a ceramist.

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  26. I knew you were running a pot dispensary.

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  27. You know where the photo was taken, Petrea? Echo Mountain! We've had clouds these past two days. And I've hiked the last 10. And for eight of the 10, it was blue, blue, blue, blue (I'm losing count, but you get the idea).

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  28. Saddened me to hear of Mr Vidal's death. His was the first political voice I remember being drawn too. His arrogance was endearing. One of the funniest story tellers. And always quick to snark on Jackie-O (seriously, I don't know why more people don't).

    Mr V, the historical reenactment follower, is also a GV follower. Julian is his favorite second only to Burr

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  29. Nicely apt photo, AH. Back in the day, I liked his debates with Buckley and pulled for Vidal, tho' I don't recall how often I thought Vidal had won. Those were two mighty brains, those guys, tho' often put to ad hominem use and razor wit instead of more substantial stuff.

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  30. "Sorry he’s dead, though, admittedly, I thought he had died some time ago" right there with you Hiker...I thought he'd died....well...in the 70's or 80's!!!

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  31. I like this: "Writers tend to think best through their fingers."
    He was famous, but I've never read anything from Gore Vidal...

    Amazing picture, Karin!

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  32. I like your thoughts. And whereas I thought I, too, knew what iconoclast meant, I looked it up. Oh.

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  33. We learn what we know by writing, and that is why writing is such a critical task for students to work on, and that's why we need to write across the curriculum.

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  34. And then there's this, which I'm just now remembering...Once Vidal got into a fistfight with Norman Mailer. Mailer knocked him to the ground.

    As he was dusting himself off, Vidal said, "Once again, words failed Norman Mailer."

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  35. I kid you not, I was walking behind some kids the other day. One of them checked their Twitter feed and said "Gore Vidal died, who the f#ck was he?". Another kid answered "Oh, Vidal, he was the guy who invented hair salons, you know 'Vidal Salon!'." I couldn't help myself, I burst out laughing so hard every one of the kids turned around and stared at me. Might have been the groaning I did after the laughter, I've broken a few ribs and laughter isn't in the Rx the doc gave me about recovery...but I digress.

    I said "Uh, kids, Vidal Sassoon was the hairdresser who died a few months ago. Gore Vidal, on the other hand was an American writer, among other things. Go Google them both to find out the difference, please!". All the kids pulled out some sort of device and did just that.

    I've done my educating of America's children for the week!

    I LOVE Lily Tomlin! Met her and Jane in SF 20+ years ago at a function. Wish she did more widely seen work these days, I would pay to see Laugh In style stuff on TV!

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  36. K & Trish, two best stories I've heard all day. (That kind of includes Mars for me.) Been working, but when I get a break, I know you've been jonsing for a new laundromat adventure, and you can't get such a thing anywhere but here. And I won't disappoint.

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  37. Such a great post! I have to admit, I missed hearing about it, and these comments have taught me more about him than I ever knew. I didn't know about Vidal Sassoon dying, either. But Al Gore's okay, right??

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  38. Now off to look up iconoclast. I might need that for Word With Friends. Oh never mind. I will never have that many letters.

    V

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