Thursday, October 9, 2008

Seasons Don't Fear The Reaper




One of my cousins lost $100,000 from his 401K in the last week. The Tinley Park killer might never be caught. The other night a guy getting off a bus on 71st was pissed because another guy on a cell phone bumped him, so when he got off the bus he shot at it and killed a girl in high school when the bullet went through her eye. There are cameras on CTA buses now and this guy should have been easy to spot, around 250 pounds and wearing something like Grandmaster Flash would wear if he had on astronaut diapers, no lie. How the cops didn't pick him up within minutes of the shooting when he was wearing that outfit is beyond me. And we still haven't caught bin Laden. Maybe it is time for a collapse. I can be living in UnChicago. Would that there could be a virus that would only kill politicians. Judge me for the body count later.

Back in July, I read THE STAND again, one of my favorite books. I read it the first time back when Captain Trips hit in June of 1980, not 1990. The publishers can't really update past that because of the Internet and cell phones, because the book is more about isolation than anything else, the first third of it. And if anybody comes across this who hasn't read THE STAND by now, or seen the film or read the comic, well you likely aren't going to, so I'm going to keep talking about it. I've reread it maybe three times now, the first two times were the old pb from the 1980 plague. I love this beat up version I own now, once owned by Renee Rat, whoever she might be, bought at a used bookstore in 2000 (I'm guessing from the original PACE bus pass bookmark I had in the pages). As you can see, it's highly unlikely I could read the book again without it disintegrating. I started reading the book again after days of job-hunting, wearing my backpack in the summer heat, and I was reminded of similar images with Larry Underwood or Nick Andros walking down deserted streets. I imagined Archer Avenue with no people, the cars askew instead of parked, I-55 empty and people hanging from nooses above Bubbly Creek. Certainly, THE STAND is a book about good vs. evil, but its also a road book, and that's why I enjoy it so much. You see parts of the plague's progression in rapid progression and at the same time, with Andros in that Arkansas jail--near where they filmed THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK in 1973, something every living soul must see--for the better part of two weeks, playing Good Samaritan and feeding prisoners, we see little of the outbreak. The book plays back and forth with that, Underwood and a few others have already left a dead Manhattan by the time Andros leaves equally doomed southwestern Arkansas, so there are two different "on the road" stories, and of course there are others. In the expanded version, King adds sections that show various events during the first signs of a government cover up, then a later section about those survivors immune to the plague who died by simple accidents or out of grief. 900 pages of fun stuff, and I'll admit I do skim some sections that I pretty much memorized back in the early 80s. And it was fun to sit on the stoop with my collie, reading it in only about four days, maybe five. Again wondering what it would be like to start everything over. The truly sad thing is, there probably is a Project Blue/Captain Trips/superflu underground base somewhere in the desert right now. The Yeats poem is quoted in the book, what rough beast this is, its hour come 'round at last, slouching towards Bethlehem to be born...

6 comments:

HemlockMan said...

Haha. The midget anti-christs, the ones we call "the neocons" have wrought their work on our nation. I laff. We get what we bloody well deserve for allowing the Five to overrule us on 12-12-2000. Screw us all for cowards.

Bin laden is dead. Has probably been dead for a very, very long time. He's a boogeyman. The creeps in power need him to stoke the flames of fear. He no longer exists.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've read the Stand once. I liked it, though I thought the middle sagged pretty badly. I probably need to reread it sometime. Cell phones have definitely changed the way thrillers have to be written.

Steve Malley said...

Love that poem.

Of course, I've watched the last eight years, when 'the best lacked all conviction while the worst were full of passionate intensity' from the safety of NZ's green shores.

Let's hope we don't see another blood-dimmed tide loosed upon the world...

Capcom said...

I love The Stand. I bought the extended version to read again this summer, but forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder.

I think Bin Laden's dead too. Just a guess.

I feel bad for your cousin's 401K. I only seemed to have lost about 14K in mine. By the time I ever get to use it, if I live that long, a loaf of bread will cost $10 anyway.

G. W. Ferguson said...

I love The Stand! It's on my short list of books I re-read on a regular basis, so you can imagine how excited I was when they released an expanded version (and that image of an aging Jim Morrison listening to Hank Williams...).

Of course, I love end-of-the-world books anyway.

*gasp* The Legend of Boggy Creek! Saw that eons ago in the theater, right after I graduated high school, as I recall. I wanted poster for my dorm room.

Michael Fountain: Blood for Ink said...

The poster art for Boggy Creek was probably the most expensive item in the budget.
If you haven't seen the first two issues of The Stand as graphic novel yet, they're fricking gorgeous.
The weapons are out there, and in Russian and American labs. I like the Marburg virus as a candidate. Blood comes through even the tiniest pores so even your fingertips bleed. Guy named Ustinov was infecting guinea pigs with it, poor children of Fortune, and one of them got in a lucky kick and Ustinov stuck himself with a needle. He was a long time dying, poetic justice I'd say for someone willing to give politicians and soldiers control of such a weapon. You spend your day trying to make the world a better place in some small way, but if we had Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne's budget, my time would be better spent hunting down people like Ustinov on both sides of the ocean.