Protesters drive former deputy permanent UN representative to madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging self through negro streets at dawn looking for angry fix

|

I always thought Don McLean was the master of the torturously mixed metaphor. I mean, who else could in the space of one sestet have birds fly off to a fallout shelter that's eight miles high, and also have something land foul on the grass (which sounds like baseball to me) while the players are trying for a forward pass (which sure sounds like football)? But even solemn Don's met his match with Edwin A. Sumcad's essay "Let's Not Make Iraq a Foolish Repeat of Vietnam Where Beatniks Won the War for the Enemy." A characteristic sample:

The tipping point as to why we can lose the war in another way, is self-explanatory, to wit—when we let a bunch of marijuana-smelling, Beetle hair-styled, dirty-faced wild guitar-playing zombies, capsule-upper-downer-dependent brush artists from the dark side of art for art's sake, heroin-sniffing metallic rockers and their Woodstock, cheering drug-addict teenage fans and followers, politically drunk Hollywood activists, school drop-outs, alcohol-soaked bike-riding beatniks, moonstruck religious freaks, urban drifters and their kind, lord our streets and win the war for the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese army.

It goes on like that. I have no opinion on the content of the piece or on Sumcad—who in addition to being an author who "has written published, unpublished academic papers; has long years of newspaper experience, writing daily and magazine editorials, essays, feature articles, columns, novelettes, short stories" and boasts "degrees in literature and jornalism, masters in development economics, and in civil law," is also a "journalist, practicing lawyer, Finance Attache, ASEAN specialist, retired diplomat, and former deputy permanent representative to the United Nations." But the writing style sure caught my eye, though I was looking for something entirely different on Google News. While you're figuring out what search term I was looking up, I'll be trying to draw a mental picture of the tree in Joyce Kilmer's "Trees." (I mean, it's got robins in its hair, but its leafy arms are lifted to pray while it's looking at God all day, but then its mouth is down at the earth's sweet-flowing breast, and it's also got snow laying on its bosom? What kind of mutant tree is this?)

NEXT: We Have a Nickname

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. [Chandler] That was the worst thing ever. And I don’t just mean in political essays. [/Chandler]

  2. This theme has been beat to death. The failures of this war, like every government program, will be blamed on the people who did not support it. If only we had been better cheerleaders, it all would have come off perfectly.

    And what’s with “beatnik” being used over and over? There are no beatniks; and if there were, they would be too busy with dilaudid and teenage Mexican prostitutes to care.

  3. Sure, blame it all on Maynard G. Krebs.

    Bob Denver, RIP.

  4. So if it was beatniks who lost the Vietnam War, wouldn’t the equivalent for the Iraq War be the grunge rockers?

    Damn flannel-wearing Nirvana fans are spoiling it for everyone in the Middle East.

  5. Maybe he’s going through his “Kerouac phase?”

  6. I think the seed of a potentially apt metaphor fell upon the all-too-fertile droppings of rancor, and sprouted into a clarity-smothering kudzu vine of unrestrained berserkery.

  7. Wow. Real life outdoes The Onion once again. Hey Edwin: 1971 called. They want their lingo back. I wonder if the Viet Cong ever properly thanked the Freak Brothers back in the States for the fall of Saigon.

  8. Joe:

    Of course “bike riding” is an insult. The jobless long hairs don’t have jobs, therefore no cars.

  9. Uh, that should have been “shiftless longhairs have no jobs”. I’ll now accept my diploma from the School of Redundancy School.

  10. Sorry, but that essay contains no less substantive political content than anything I’ve read from the “pundits” from either side. It’s simply a distilled version of the vapid saber-rattling and specious reasoning that gets printed every day.
    Wake me when actual philosophy reappears in political debate.

    And the war will be lost by death metal fans, shoegazers, and trip-hop ambient club kids. Although I think the insurgents would shit thier panst if they suddenly saw Gwar coming across the desert at them.

  11. I don’t believe in self-policing over the long term or the short, but this crap was not lifted from Juston Raimondo’s AntiWar.com.

    Okay, now we can continue to discuss mixed metaphors, or we can ask why DemocRATS continue to pooh-pooh, chill and uranize upon their leader, Howard Dean.

    Does anyone know the whereabouts of Jane Fonda’s fart-powered bus? This old jarhead wants a rendezvous to thank her for Barbarella which I enjoyed immensely while in VN.

  12. Jennifer-Bad news: there are no grunge rockers any more. I’m hip enough to know that. I am not, however, hip enough to know who or what has replaced them. Something involving hip-hop or pseudo-punk pop rock, is my guess.

  13. I’m really hoping that this is revealed to be a hoax like Sokal’s essay in “Social Text”….

  14. Bad news: there are no grunge rockers any more. I’m hip enough to know that.

    That was supposed to be the point–there aren’t any grunge rockers now, anymore than there were beatniks when the Vietnam War ended.

    Sigh. Never mind. I’m having an off night, anyway.

  15. There’s something very odd about this Edwin A. Sumcad fellow.

    Plug Edwin A. Sumcad into Google and the hits are from the suspiciously similar http://www.illinoischronicle.com, http://www.americanchronicle.com, http://www.longbeachchronicle.com, http://www.santamonicachronicle.com, http://www.marylandchronicle.com, http://www.palmspringschronicle.com...

    Who is this guy, and why is he featured on a dozen dummy front sites?

  16. Yeah…Edwin is like some real kinda crazy cad, man. Hey, you seen my glasses?

  17. I think that we have never had
    A pundit silly as Sumcad,

    Whose whines and moans and groans and gripes
    Are convoluted stereotypes;

    Whose literary serpent’s bite
    Makes Ann Coulter look polite;

    Whom no comedian on earth
    Could match for accidental mirth.

    Through this bozo’s fumbling pen,
    Archie Bunker lives again.

    I think that we have God to thank.
    No mortal could have pulled this prank.

  18. This has to be bogus. No way is this guy or this essay legit. “walk any tightrope of peril”? Please. Tack on the Kim Jong Il type resume, and you have one very clear cut case of B.S.

  19. I haven’s seen such cluelessness about the Boomer generation since the salad days of Max Rafferty…

  20. Joyce Kilmer was always exhorting his kids: “Keep your nose to the grindstone; your shoulder to the wheel; your ear to the ground.”
    When they grew up, they looked like pretzels.

  21. Of course “bike riding” is an insult. The jobless long hairs don’t have jobs, therefore no cars.

    Out here where it’s semi-rural, it has another distinct connotation: multiple DUI convictions.

  22. Anti-Puritan,

    snap snap snap snap snap snap snap

  23. [The Anti-Puritan takes a bow.]

  24. Does this mean the counterculture is winning?

    Sweet!

  25. Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski! The bums lost!

  26. I’m all for mixing metaphors myself. Makes them a lot more fun and interesting. If consistency ever IS the hobgoblin of little minds, it’s when it’s demanded of metaphors.

    But Sumcad’s problems seem to have little or nothing to do with that anyway. Allow me to be the gratuitous first to point out that he doesn’t even know how to spell Beatles.

  27. Maybe he meant they get bugs in their hair as they ride those bicycles.

  28. I’m all for mixing metaphors myself. Makes them a lot more fun and interesting. If consistency ever IS the hobgoblin of little minds, it’s when it’s demanded of metaphors.

    But Sumcad’s problems seem to have little or nothing to do with that anyway.

    No it has to do with the street parliamentarians who are lying spin doctors of documentary proof, using our greatest weapon of democracy as our Achilles heel, all the while flashing their two-fingered sign like a badge as a dirty finger pointed at President Bush, even though the box of worms is opened by the eagle eye and revealed to be full of skeletons in the closet–thus surprising the people wielding an axe on the neck and forcing me, with deep reckoning, to walk the tightrope of peril.

  29. Christ, doesn’t anyone speak English anymore?

  30. joe,
    LOL.

    Sumcad,
    Who let you in here? Your mixed metaphors are a pain in the neck that should be thrown out the window.

  31. fyodor:
    I’m all for mixing metaphors myself. Makes them a lot more fun and interesting. If consistency ever IS the hobgoblin of little minds, it’s when it’s demanded of metaphors.

    In the summer of 2004, I went to a learning center to help with my “concept imagery” problem: that is, I have some difficulty turning words into pictures in my head and vice versa. Since my condition has improved somewhat, I’ve come to understand why mixed metaphors are a stylistic vice: They distract the reader by putting laughably bizarre pictures in his head.

  32. Sounds like something Hunter S. Thompson would have written if he had been a Buchananite.

  33. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

    Mr. Whitman understood what I meant.

    That bitch Rand misquoted me.

  34. I dig that Anti-Puritan cat’s crazy poetry, man. He is one gone daddy-o.

  35. Anti-Puritan,

    Hmmph. Well, SOME of us just dig the “laughably bizarre” then!! And if it’s meant to be ahtsy, such as in verse or song, then the movement and color provided by the mixing may be the point, not a distraction. For rational and serious discourse, objecting to mixed metaphors would have greater weight. But such discourse was hardly the point of “American Pie”!

    Nice rhymes yourself there, though!

  36. I may be twice removed from Oscar Wilde, but I still suck, and that ain’t no metaphor.

  37. I still suck, and that ain’t no metaphor

    Slurp, slurp?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.