Awesome story of the day: A man, a bear, a head-butt and survival

Don't head-butt me, bro.

Don’t head-butt me, bro.

Aged Russian shepherd gets into a kick-ass with an increasingly angry bear. The head-butt might have saved his life, though it didn’t feel that way when he was in mid-air. . . .

“I got off easy. It’d have killed me if I’d chickened out,” Alchagirov said on television. The incident took place last week, but was not reported by federal media until Wednesday.”

Here’s the whole story…

The Vespa, the nun and the sad pig


You gotta hear the story about the Vespa and the nun. I can barely do it justice because I’m not telling it aloud in a voice rich with hickory, history and this sort of sweet-natured wisdom I guess you could call enlightened hickery.

But I’m seeing a visual representation of what I’m trying to describe here in that menu from Mike and Jeff’s Old School BBQ,up the page from Jeff’s home telephone number (which you should only ever call to place an order, not to be an asshole), in that fanciful pig that’s their trademark. Because the cartoon pig isn’t just adorable, he’s also worried. His ears are wilted, his little arms hang slack and he’s definitely not smiling. As you wouldn’t be either if you were a pig who only just heard, as I did at M&J’s yesterday, that none of those ribs on the menu belonged to cows. “We don’t barbecue the cow here in South Carolina,” I learned. “That’s Texas. Here in South Carolina we only ever barbecue the pig.” I’ve got no problem with that, but that pig on the other hand. . .

Anyway, it seems there’s at least one nun in Greenville, SC who pursues God’s work on a little scooter she parked just outside a downtown pool hall. I don’t think she was in the pool hall, but that Vespa was there, right in the path of some teenage art school students sprung loose for Friday night, putting the finishing touch on a rambunctious week of boarding school life.

Not the Vespa I'm talking about, but I guess she could be a nun somewhere. In my dreams.

Another Vespa with what I’m guessing is a very different owner.

I didn’t go to art school, let alone boarding school, so i can’t really say what they did to aggravate their painting teacher, let’s call him Jim, who unlike the nun was up in the pool hall, working the table right next to the front window. Which I guess he wasn’t looking through when the kids gathered around the scooter and came up with a kick-ass idea.

Or so it seemed until the nun saw the empty space where her scooter used to be and called the cops. Who made fast work of tracking down the missing Vespa, and also the kids who had zoomed off upon it. So blue lights and a siren whoop or two and then the scooter was right back where the nun was still standing now in the company of shouting cops and no-longer-carefree kids. And this was when Jim, the art teacher, finally did look out the window.

“I thought maybe I oughta go downstairs and do something,” he told a colleague later. “But then I’m thinking, fuck no, I’m not going down there. I’ve been taking shit from those kids all week long. I had a shitty week because of them, and now I’m drinking a beer and shooting pool. Why should I go down  and deal with that shit?” The  shook his head and snorted. “Fuck that. And fuck them, too.”

The next week of classes went a lot more smoothly.

MORE TO THE POINTSC-Governors-School-for-the-Arts-and-Humanities

I had a great couple of days in Greenville. Scott Gould and everyone else I met at the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, faculty and students, were crazily smart and cool and when I asked the creative writing students to write about a song they loved and what made them love it so much they all came back with more or less stunning little gems that were better-written and more insightful than nearly everything I see in Portland’s semi-regular newspaper. Not the least of them being the girl who came back with a piece on “Thunder Road” which basically transformed my sense of the song’s conclusion. And it’s not like I haven’t heard that song 10,000 times over 35 years or considered its contents in what I thought was some depth.

You don’t have to mourn for the future or arts and letters.Thanks to the folks at the SCGSAH — and a lot of other youngsters we’d be wise to nurture nearly as much — it’s fixing to get even better.


Frank Sinatra Has a Cold


Arguably the best magazine profile ever written (that’s a big argument, but what the hell) Gay Talese’s 1965 portrait of the 50-year-old, top-of-his-surly-charm Frank Sinatra is always worth reading, re-reading, re-re-reading and then some.

First, a few words from the piece. You’ve got to read the rest.

Sinatra with a cold is Picasso without paint, Ferrari without fuel — only worse. For the common cold robs Sinatra of that uninsurable jewel, his voice, cutting into the core of his confidence, and it affects not only his own psyche but also seems to cause a kind of psychosomatic nasal drip within dozens of people who work for him, drink with him, love him, depend on him for their own welfare and stability. A Sinatra with a cold can, in a small way, send vibrations through the entertainment industry and beyond as surely as a President of the United States, suddenly sick, can shake the national economy.

For Frank Sinatra was now involved with many things involving many people — his own film company, his record company, his private airline, his missile-parts firm, his real-estate holdings across the nation, his personal staff of seventy-five — which are only a portion of the power he is and has come to represent. He seemed now to be also the embodiment of the fully emancipated male, perhaps the only one in America, the man who can do anything he wants, anything, can do it because he has money, the energy, and no apparent guilt. In an age when the very young seem to be taking over, protesting and picketing and demanding change, Frank Sinatra survives as a national phenomenon, one of the few prewar products to withstand the test of time. He is the champ who made the big comeback, the man who had everything, lost it, then got it back, letting nothing stand in his way, doing what few men can do: he uprooted his life, left his family, broke with everything that was familiar, learning in the process that one way to hold a woman is not to hold her. Now he has the affection of Nancy and Ava and Mia, the fine female produce of three generations, and still has the adoration of his children, the freedom of a bachelor, he does not feel old, he makes old men feel young, makes them think that if Frank Sinatra can do it, it can be done; not that they could do it, but it is still nice for other men to know, at fifty, that it can be done.

Meanwhile: Faith in humanity begins (again) in Eastern Kentucky

From Stephen Colbert, something like satire, sarcasm and God’s holy light all wrapped up in a 7-minute video. That is also somehow hilarious.


The Colbert Report
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Magical: Springsteen’s NYC Serenade in Rome, July 11

Bruce David

A beautiful Springsteen song from the way-early days, turned magical by David Sancious’s Tchaikovsky-meets-Monk piano intro. The usually flawless Roy Bittan gets a couple notes wrong during this one, but the spirit of the piece — the trashman in his silk shirt — is all there.

Any deeper blue and you’re playin’ in your grave…