Give War A Chance (Eyewitness Accounts of Mankind’s Struggle Against Tyranny, Injustice and Alcohol-Free Beer) – P.J. O’Rourke

Posted by Frankly Francis on December 25, 2009 under Books/Authors | Be the First to Comment

Give War A Chance

 

Through various quotes through the years, I’ve been aware of irreverent conservative writer P.J. O’Rourke.

One of my favorites is from an address at the Cato Institute in 1993 (well worth the read at: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6857 ), where Mr. O’Rourke endeared himself to me with this statement – “If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it is free.”  Tremendous foresight into the future, which is now of course.

So, when I got my hands on “Give War A Chance” I did not wait long to read it.  The introduction is entitled, “Hunting the Virtuous – And How to Clean and Skin Them.”  Did I mention irreverent?  And that is just the introduction.

Published in 1992, a little while after the end of Gulf War I, it is a collection of various articles written regarding the fall of communism (The Birth, and Some of the Afterbirth, of Freedom), some random topics (Second Thoughts), comments about various public figures (A Call for a New McCarthyism), and his dispatches from the Gulf War (Give War a Chance).

Most I thoroughly enjoyed.  I can’t say that his comments on Dr. Ruth, Lee Iacocca, and Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter were the best parts of the book.  Still, I am looking forward to reading anything this guy cares to write or has written.

I picked the book up at the Salvation Army (one of many sources of books for me).  It turned out that it was originally a gift to John from Kate & Chuck.  Kate or Chuck or Kate & Chuck had inscribed the following to John: “This guy may be 180 degrees off of what any of us thinks on some issues, but he does think, and he puts his radical thoughts down so flamboyantly, you’re bound to get some fun out of what he says, whether you agree or not.”  Well said Kate & Chuck!

I would like to think that P.J. O’Rourke has been significantly influenced by the writing style of Kurt Vonnegut, but I do not know if this is true, nor am I inclined to research it.

The title appears to come from something O’Rourke saw during the interminable waiting period from the amassing of troops in Saudi Arabia to the actual beginning of the ground war.  Some Marines had written in the desert sand, “Give War A Chance.”  Marines just want to have fun.

In closing, to give you a taste of P.J. O’Rourke, the following dedication appears before the introduction:

Like many men of my generation, I had an opportunity to give war a chance, and I promptly chickened out.  I went to my draft physical in 1970 with a doctor’s letter about my history of drug abuse.  The letter was four and a half pages long with three and a half pages devoted to listing the drugs I’d abused.  I was shunted into the office of an Army psychiatrist who, at the end of a forty-five-minute interview with me, was pounding his desk and shouting, “You’re fucked up!  You don’t belong in the Army!”  He was certainly right on the first count and possibly right on the second.  Anyway, I didn’t have to go.  But that, of course, meant someone else had to go in my place.  I would like to dedicate this book to him.

                I hope you got back in one piece, fellow.  I hope you were more use to your platoon mates than I would have been.  I hope you’re rich and happy now.  And in 1971, when somebody punched me in the face for being a long-haired peace creep, I hope that was you.

Having been a hippy orientated peace creep in my youth and then resorting (when I got past the drugs and free-love, not that there’s anything wrong with drugs and free-love) to a very conservative constitutional & fiscal perspective, coupled with a very liberal personal liberty point of view, I get where this guy is coming from.  You might too.

Frankly,

Francis

Houses of the Holy

Posted by Frankly Francis on December 6, 2009 under Personal | Be the First to Comment

Preamble:
Let me start by saying that I am no fan of organized religion.  Just can’t dig the idea of Crusades, Inquisitions and Jihads in God’s name.  Count me out of that business – I want nothing to do with it.

But I do love Cathedrals.

In the beginning…
It was back in the spring of the Year of Our Lord 1999.  Traveled to New York City to attend an annual meeting of the Board of Directors for a company I was working with.  There always should be some pleasure with business, so a private tour of the city was arranged.

We stopped at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  When I walked inside, I was overpowered and (seriously) nearly passed-out from the incredible gothic design and a ceiling so high that the Statue of Liberty would fit inside.  On top of that, it just so happened that the New York Philharmonic Orchestra was rehearsing a Beethoven chorale.  It changed me.

St. John the Divine

St. John the Divine

After That:
Since then, I find myself visiting cathedrals wherever I may be. And for the record, I don’t travel to see cathedrals, but if I am traveling and there happens to be a cathedral in town…

Westminster Cathedral

Westminster Cathedral

Why Am I So Fascinated?
I’m not sure.  I suspect that it is a combination of architecture, history, geographic location, and human aspiration – each cathedral brings its own unique ethereal feeling.

St Pauls

St Pauls

Memory Lane:
I fondly remember visiting Notre Dame in Paris while Mass was being observed.  At St. Paul’s in London, I climbed the historic circular stairway to the dome level and was rewarded for my efforts by an acoustically stunning choir rehearsal.  Visiting Westminster, in London, was incredible to walk though – the history and architecture made it an unforgettable experience.  Perhaps my favorite cathedral of all is St. Thomas in mid-town Manhattan…can’t really explain why, it just holds a most special place with me.

St. Thomas

St. Thomas

Winchester Cathedral in rural England was truly a sight to behold.  It was memorable to attend Mass with my family at St. Patrick’s in NYC.  The National Cathedral in Washington D.C. was certainly impressive.  Being a big fan of New Orleans, the St. Louis Cathedral was a pleasure to visit.

I’ve yet to see the magnificent Italian cathedrals, but I haven’t been to Italy yet…

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

And by the Way:
Oh yeah, and while I’m confessing, I am silly for the incense that the Catholics burn during Mass.  Had to have some for personal use.  Though not Catholic, I did not want to upset the Pope by obtaining it surreptitiously.  It took me a couple of years to legitimately get my hands on some, but that’s another story, another time.

Frankly,

Francis