Showing posts with label Travis McGee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travis McGee. Show all posts

May 25, 2015

A Travis McGee bonus: Little Doll

For those of you who, like me,  had never seen this picture.

John D.and Dorothy.

Feb 17, 2014

Vote Vet

I always miss Travis McGee but especially so when I want to sort out some newish thing.

Of course, to miss Trav is also to miss Meyer, the hairy economist down F pier a ways. Trav could deal with a Puss Killian all by himself but  needed Meyer for political and economic challenges. Even a womanizing free-lance detective can use a little logical positivism once in a while.

My friend L* alerts me to the Veterans Party of America which seems to be some sort of evolution of an earlier (c. 2003--20??)  "veterans" party which didn't make it.  It has recently published its platform. On first reading it looks more libertarian and anti-statist  than anything the majors would dare put on paper.  Better yet, some of the more important parts of it seem actually doable.

In my guise as pure political operative, I'm forced to tell the VPA, "rotsa ruck." Our America is the place where third parties go to be ignored, then die. The logic of their arguments has nothing to do with anything because they don't have and can not get the billions needed to create a nice image on the electric teevee.

Still, as a citizen, I'll be a happier if the VPA platform gets all possible exposure and discussion. Starting with you, Trav and Meyer. Whadaya think?


*Interesting person. Along with another pretty girl some years ago, she started a business more or less from scratch. It thrives and has created jobs without, I believe, ever having asked government for a dime in subsidies, tax holidays, special tax exemptions, guaranteed markets (c.f. ethanol mandate) or the like. While she would never state it so vulgarly, I think her message to federal, state, county, and local authorities was: "I intend to do right, so please get your big hairy bloated bureaucratic asses out of my way so I can get some work done."

Aug 10, 2013

Travis McGee is sad

He mentioned her more than once. She got him through one lonely night aboard The Busted Flush, balladeering in Spanish with Trio Los Panchos.  She made many another 60s pop/jazz star sound like a soloist at the swing choir recital.

RIP, Edie Gorme.

Feb 21, 2013

Sexy me

Some childhood values linger into the mature years. A three-year-old with a cut finger will tour the neighborhood showing off his bandage.

Me? I have a romantic limp. Your place or mine, Baby?


It's been 20 days since the power dive on ice, and the charlie horse is still giving me an excuse to carry the Celtic-American assault stick occasionally.

There's no disabling weakness, just pain varying from mild to sit your butt down right now.  It seems to be getting better. At least sporadically. Yesterday was pretty comfortable and  ibuprofen-free. This morning four tabs seemed like a wonderful idea. Carrying in that arm load of oak last evening was possibly a poor health-care decision.

Travis McGee nailed it. When you hurt yourself, you turn inward, listening hard for all the little signals about the status of  the precious and irreplaceable me.  So you don't do anything else  properly, including your sworn duty.

For instance, I've given Shotgun Joe a complete pass on his directive that you must meet a lethal threat by carrying a double barrel shotgun to the veranda and firing randomly into the air. That's purdey stupid, and I'll be glad when I'm fit enough to comment on it.

Jan 11, 2013

Travis McGee, economist

I can't recall which adventure, but in one of them Travis and Meyer have rescued a beautiful young widow from villainous clutches and recovered some of her money. They discuss how to invest it for her. (In those days it was well understood that the little gals shouldn't bother their pretty heads about such stately matters.)

Travis remarked that the portfolio should carry some equities which might ameliorate the inflation bite against the day "when a new Chevy costs $40,000." 

And we all giggled and snorted at John D. MacDonald's wild imagination and sense of the ridiculous.  I was as guilty as anyone, having in that era purchased a brand new Plymouth Volare station wagon for about $4,700. (Excuse: wife, two kids, dog, long commute, scuba tanks. I was such a damned Republican.)


Of course the trillion dollar coin would be absolutely and precisely identical to pixie dust.  So what? What the Hell do we think that hundred-dollar bill we keep stuffed in our wallet's secret compartment represents?

Feb 21, 2012

Learning Politics with Travis McGee

Our friend John D. MacDonald pauses in his narrative of the search for Bix Bowie's fate in the Oaxacan highlands. Travis and Meyer are interested in the scene, a high mesa marked with anthropological remnants of a tough and ancient people.  John D. permits Enelio, their bright new Mexican friend, to explain. (N.B. The term "priest" needs to be read in its meaning in Meso-American culture before the Spanish invasion. The priests were also the temporal masters -- the polticians, the Obamas, Santorums, Gingriches, and Romneys, among many other latter-day names.):


"Here is how it was.  Five, six, seven hundred years ago, these mountain people who had been led into this place by the priests and the soldiers, they cimbed to that place that you see, and they made offerings of food, and they worshipped. They bult the temples and they dug the wells, carried the stones, made the pottery, cut the thatch. But the priests got too far away from the people. They thought they owned the people forever. They lost common understanding. So one day the people went up to the high places and killed the priests and killed the guards and pulled down the temples and never went back. ... They just got tired of slave life, of catering to the demands of priests for food and women and children to train, and tired of work that became more meaningless to them. They went up and killed them and put and end to it...".


This little offering is not meant as an immediate call to hone the swords and hoist Mencken's Black Flag. It is a suggestion that authoritarianism has its ultimate punishments.


From Dress Her in Indigo, the 1987 Fawcett printing, p. 95.

Jul 20, 2011

Poor Sean Hoare

The world media tread lightly on the mysterious death of Sean Hoare, the whistle blower who brought down the News of the World and put Rupert in the Commons dock. The eerie hush screams "conspiracy."

I suspect it starts  with Queen Elizabeth who cannot possibly be amused by world's amusement at the sorry state of the media, the police forces, and Her Majesty's entire government in Theme Park England. So the question must be asked: "What did Liz know and when did She know it?" Even if she is eventually found ignorant, it is important to remember that the buck stops at Buckingham.

So far, Scotland Yard is reporting poor Sean's untimely death as merely "unexplained but not suspicious." Quite lame.  This is the same cop shop whose bobbies were known to pocket a few extra pence by selling secrets to Rupert's minions.

Journalist Hoare ratted them out, and who knows what else he might have been ready to spill? A reporter who knew the cops were selling GPS locations of known celebrities is quite likely to have had the inside dope on PUS's and parliamentarians fond of dressing in tiny fragments of  French maids' costumes as they  waited on tables of leather-clad (Dare I use the term?) tarts (!).

The autopsy occurred yesterday, and it will surprise no one when whomever, if anyone, leading the bobbies these days reports that there's nothing to see here, folks; move along.  Further scandal could crush the Empire and, poof, there go the pensions whilst also ending the jolly good sport of flogging wogs from Capetown to Bombay and beyond. Further horror? Think of the collapse of the pound sterling when it is no longer backed by the yuan of a million Chinese persons hooked on English opium.

Whilst my research is ongoing, information from my good friend Travis McGee suggests the method by which Mr. Hoare was murdered, possibly with the connivance of Murdoch himself. The crime was quite possibly  committed with a tiny irradiated pellet which mimics the symptoms of a naturally occurring infectious disease. (cf. The Green Ripper.) 

While I do not yet argue that the dot of death was delivered by a red-haired siren with bad skin, the  possibility cannot be ruled out. As I have proven many times in the past, Travis knew everything.


May 6, 2011 nor fowl nor good red herring; the .22 long

We didn't know anything about ballistics. We just knew .22 longs were a dime a box cheaper than .22 long rifles. Shorts were cheaper yet, but we were led to understand by our elder experts  -- mostly eighth and ninth graders  -- that they would ruin our guns.

So we happily shot longs up and down the wild (really) Des Moines River valley -- squirrels, rabbits, Blatz beer cans, floating debris, and spawning carp.

The .22 long was born in 1871 for S/W revolvers as a supercharged improvement on the short. It held  the same 29 grain lead with  a longer case and a black powder charge upped to 5 grains.  The ballisticians were divided on its actual worth but felt it might offer a small improvement on the  short in handguns. In rifles, the  powder burn pooped out before the bullet left the muzzle.

Re-specked for smokeless, it was routinely available for about 100 years, disappearing from the hardware store shelves when the makers could no longer offer it cheaper than the long rifle.

So it was neat to find this while sorting an auction-sale can of odd nuts and bolts. The head stamp is "U," from the Union Metallic Cartridge Company, later part of Remington. It's a treasure to be placed in my can of oddball cartridges, perhaps never to be examined again. So what?  As the philosopher Travis McGee wrote, the best collectibles are moments of pleasure.

Apr 30, 2011

Travis McGee, depressed

Meyer has just returned to Bahia Mar from a conference of economists. Travis welcomes him aboard the Busted Flush with bourbon and ice, one cube.

How did the conference go?  (McGee asks).

These are bad days for an economist, my friend. We have gone past the frontiers of theory. There is nothing left but one huge ugly fact."

Which is?

There is a debt of perhaps two trillion dollars out there, owed by governments to governments, by governments to banks, and there is not one chance in hell that it can ever be paid back. There is not enough productive capacity in the world, plus enough raw materials, to provide maintenance of plant plus enough overage even to keep up with the mounting interest.

What happens? It gets written off?

He looked at me with a pitying expression.  "All the world's major currencies will collapse. Trade will cease. Without trade, without the mechanical-scientific apparatus running, the planet won't support its four billion people, or perhaps even half that. Agribusiness feeds the world. Hydrocarbon utilization heats and houses and clothes the people. There will be fear, hate, anger, death. The new barbarism. There will be plague and poison. And then the new Dark Ages."

Should I pack? 

Go ahead. Scoff. What the sane people and sane governments are  trying to do is scuffle a little more breathing space,a little more time before the collapse.


Written in The Green Ripper, 1979,  the Meyer dirge requires appropriate  adjustment for inflation of the debt and of the number of people scrabbling for a mouthful of food and a tank of gasoline. It needs to be read with appropriate homage to the requirements of dramatic exposition in a work of fiction.

Further, his timing was off. Just after the passage above, Meyer predicts the fall will come by 1984, or 1991 at the latest. This puts him in respectable intellectual company. Orwell's own 1984 target date is delayed, not invalidated. The Erlichs notwithstanding, we had not copulated the race into mass starvation by the 1980s. John Galt still bides his time.


John D. McDonald  (MBA,  Harvard University, 1939) was a capitalist -- publisher, investor -- as well as a writer of novels. He paid close attention to money for the most common of reasons. He wished to earn some, and he wanted it  to be a reliable store of value, worth the same tomorrow as it is today.

Me too. You?


Mar 2, 2011

Jane Russell addenda

(1) -- A yen to spend your quarter on a Jane Russell movie occurred after one of those frightening life changes that affect boys in about the sixth grade. You came home from a Roy Rogers movie and found yourself thinking less about Trigger and more  about Dale Evans. If you really did go see The French Line next Friday night,  you told Mom the first lie that made you feel really guilty.

(2) -- (And I didn't know or had forgotten this.) She appeared in Darker than Amber.  as the "Alabama Tigress" (huh?).  John D. reacted to the screening: "I was so convinced it would be utterly rotten, that I was pleased to find it only semi-rotten." 

Wonder what his ghost will have to say about  Juvenile DiCaprio as McGee?

Feb 18, 2011

McGee in the Morning

Astrology, health food, flag waving, bible thumping, Zen, nudism, nihilism — all of these are grotesque simplifications which small dreary people adopt in the hope of thereby finding The Answer, because the very concept that maybe there is no answer, never has been, never 

Jan 30, 2011

Yes, Travis McGee was that good

And we have it on excellent authority, courtesy of the Harvard Business School Alumni Review. It offers a letter to John. D. from an admirer:

Dear Mr. MacDonald, Would you please send me Travis McGee?…. I have read all the books you wrote and I am desperate because there are no more….I am distributing your books here in Europe, and everybody is deserting everybody because nobody will sleep with anybody when they have a new book of yours.”
(Marlene Dietrich, 1975)

Younger readers may wonder, "Whoozat?"


Oct 27, 2010

The Green Ripper 

McGee has lost both Greta and his own confidence in his feelings:

"We are all at the mercy of the script writers, directors, and actors in cinema and television. Man is a herd creature, social and imitative. We learn the outward manifestations of inner stress, patterning reaction to what we have learned. And because the the visible ways we react are so often borrowed, we wonder about the truth of what is happening underneath. Do I really feel pain, grief, shock loss?"

Sep 27, 2010

Smashing the Cities

A reader commented on the previous post, McGee Speaks:

Should we be stocking up on supplies before you start smashing, or is this just an offhand comment?

The paragraph is from  The Green Ripper, written in 1978 or '79 about Travis' personal response to an act of terrorism. The threat MacDonald  posited emanated from a perverted form of Christianity fronting for Communism and the same  Middle-East forces which threaten us today. It is an ageless reflection on  the relationship between  advanced technology (running water, for instance) and increased societal vulnerability.

In a sense, it is also a reflection on people in general. On each new day our good lives depend a little more fully on competence and good will of of countless people we've never me.  Air traffic controllers, guards and engineers of the power grid, internet enablers, the police system,  a financial lashup which profits from general ignorance,  the political system which has taken it on itself to ensure everything works and everyone happy.

So far, despite some horrible lapses, this has worked well enough in the First World, but there is a cost. The price is measured is  units of self-sufficiency which are lost to a blind and unthinking reliance on the system and an almost universal negligence of personal Plans B, C, D, and beyond.  

New Orleans died after a wholly predictable act of nature, and everyone blamed everyone else.  Facebook went down last week and it was top-line news.  Impure eggs got to market and a million words were expended advising the population to cook eggs, as though hundreds of millions of Americans were blind to the simple truths of the natural world, which is close enough to truth to frighten me. 

Assuming the correctness of every biologist, anthropologist,  ethicist I ever read that personal survival is the ultimate human drive, I wonder at the popular refusal to recognize the corollary: Living to see next month is a personal responsibility. 

When the grid goes down are we ready with battery lamps, then kerosene lanterns, then candles, then  twisted thistle fiber stuck in a clam shell of bacon grease?  (Can you and your neighbors catch, kill, and butcher a hog, then render out the fat?) 

When the water tower is empty do we have a pre-determined source of water, a way to carry it, store it, boil it? Do we have a personal plan to protect it when the police run away, speaking of New Orleans? 

Against the day when the satellites go dark, do we have a map to replace the GPS, a personal library to fill in for the electric teevee -- not to mention the ability to converse with other humans when Sister Oprah is no longer our best friend and primary source of wisdom?


All that is part of what McGee was wondering about, as we should.

The "you" in your comment is misguided, perhaps unintentionally.   The  smashers are my enemy.  Meyer the economist, in the same book, outlines a gloomy view of  the near future. However:

"What the sane people people and sane governments are trying to do is scuffle a little more breathing space, a little more time before the collapse. ... I'm one of the scufflers. Cut and paste. Fix the world with paper clips and rubber bands." 

Still, yes, I think it is a good idea to be laying in a few supplies. Starting  in about 1992 if not earlier.

Sep 26, 2010

McGee speaks

"I remember one of Meyer's concepts about cultural resiliency. In the third world , the village of one thousand can provide itself with what it needs for survival. Smash the cities and half the villages and the other half keeps going. In our world, the village of one thousand has to import water, fuel, food, clothing, medicine, electric power, and entertainment. Smash the cities and all the villages die. And the city itself is frail. It has little nerve-center nodules. Water plant, power transmission lines, telephone switching facilities."

Aug 25, 2010

Root Hog or Die

Most of us, even my fellow raving libertarians, are somewhat more compassionate than that toward  unfortunate people -- at least the poor who give productive living a diligent shot.

The Unwanted Blog offers a suggestion. We end the food stamp program on grounds that it is routinely abused. (I venture to add that it is also part of the federal and state Full  and Lucrative Employment  Program for  otherwise unemployable bureaucrats.)

He suggests we offer actual food instead, namely the "meal loaf" made famous by Lockup for bad guys who won't behave even in prison. It is a complete meal all done up in a blender. Think of ham hocks, peas,  bread, a spud, and your dessert brownie  all happily homogenized and served at  armpit temperatures. Your coffee is poured over the whole shebang.  Why not? The Hope is to Change hunger to good nutrition, and the meal loaf will do it.

Which provides the peg for a story.


Marv M.and I were undergraduates at a northeast Iowa university*  where we pursued BAs while always working at at least two jobs.  I tended bar, worked in the college electrical shop and made a pittance teaching scuba. Still, tuition, books, rent, interminable fees, and the cost of keeping my '56 Ford on the road kept me broke. OK, so the occasional coed played her pocket-emptying part, but, hey, a man must be part of the passions and actions of his times, right?

So I can't imagine that one spring day I trotted on down to Olson's Sporting Goods on the bank of the Cedar River and bought a WW2 Polish Radom for about $30  (sigh). **  I suppose I was motivated by being, for one of the few times in my life,  a walking gun-free zone.

Mr. Olson was a kindly soul who made a fair living  is his sprawling river bank shop selling hunting, fishing, and camping gear. He also rented boats and had a scuba compressor.  The benches along his sea wall were routinely occupied by bank fishermen, trying out his bait, drinking his beer and pop and tossing the empties into the black water. All this began to coalesce to our benefit  when he grumped that one of his rental customers, trying to replace a shear pin, dropped a ten-dollar prop into the Cedar. (Why didn't the a**hole row back and let me fix it here?" )

He wondered if  I'd be willing to dive for it for half the value, my 15 minutes as Travis McGee. Sure.

I didn't find it, but mucking around in the silt revealed the most amazing trove of pop  and beer bottles, worth a solid  five cents each anywhere fine beverages are sold.  Air was a dollar tank,  and at depths involved -- around ten feet -- a tank lasted well over an hour. So the the profit margin was good. We mined that lode four or five times, Marv tending a line for me and hauling up booty, me working the rocks and mud by feel.

A typical dip yielded 100 bottles and  more, call it five bucks after air expense. Five dollars would swap for a couple pounds of fat  hamburger, a can of tomatoes, a big onion,  and two boxes of Creamettes, with a little beer change left over.***  That was the year I learned to cook Hungarian. That was another year  in which we didn't often go hungry.


If this sounds like a BS pitch for retroactive nobility, so be it. It happened, and I have taken the lesson seriously to heart. In fact, it colors  my views on social justice to this day, even to modifying my opinion about  meal loaves for the poor.

Anyone who goes diving for deposit  bottles in order to make  goulash can still get food stamps.


* -- Actually, it was a pretty good college with pretensions and eventually  became a half-assed university.

** -- Buying a 9mm in those days carried the perceived risk that you might have trouble finding ammunition for that oddball Eurocaliber.

*** --  For those who find this unbelievable, remember that it was in the days before Lyndon Johnson read John Maynard Keynes and learned he could hide the cost of the Vietnam War and his Great Society by installing a Borg-Warner overdrive unit in the presses. Later presidents have, of course, giggled with delight at their inprovisations on the theme.

Jun 30, 2010

The Lonely Sliver Rain

'Too many had gone away and too many had died. Without realizing it, it had happened so slowly, I had moved a generation away from the beach people.'' 

--Travis McGee

Apr 3, 2010

Oliver Stone, Leonard DiCaprio, and Travis McGee

I may be a little late to this party, but the entertainment reporters are saying Stone may direct "The Deep Blue Good Bye" which, at last report, was to use child actor DiCaprio as Travis McGee.

I suppose Stone is okay, but I still can't see DiCaprio as Trav, although it's probably a better match than the unholy stupidity of trying to make Dean Martin a credible Matt Helm.

"Deep Blue . ..,"(1964)i s the first McGee, and there is no Meyer. I can't imagine who Hollywood would have cast as that saint.

Feb 24, 2010

Penis Pants

Things you learn from opening links on Facebook.

Travis McGee once remarked in a discussion of mortality something very close to, "Every year there is less to lose."

He was talking about pollution, I think, but certainly pollution is a term broad enough to cover knitted members and silken scrota, all proudly on public display.

Dec 22, 2009

Flying home for Christmas?

Travis McGee on a winter flight to O'Hare:

Passengers reached up and put their lights on. The sky had lumps and holes in it. It becomes tight sphincter time in the sky when they don't insert the ship into the pattern and get it down, but go around again. Stewardesses walk tippy-dainty, their color not good in the inside lights, their smiles sutured so firmly in place it pulls their pretty faces more distinctly against the skull-shape of pretty bones. Even with the buffeting there is an impression of silence inside the aircraft at such times. People stare outward, but they are looking inward, tasting of themselves and thinking of promises and defeats. The busy air is full of premonitions, and one thinks with a certain comfort of old Satchel's plug in favor of air travel: "They may kill you, but they ain't likely to hurt you."


"One Fearful Yellow Eye" P. 1