The Fisher Queen


Biographers shouldn’t have regrets, because once your book is published there’s little you can do to alter its narrative in subsequent editions. Hopefully, the biographer has chosen wisely, angering as few of the subject’s survivors as possible.

When I landed MR. MIKE, I felt elation and dread. Suddenly, the life and work of a seminal American humorist was solely in my hands, making me hyper-conscious about not pissing off numerous celebrities and powerful showbiz figures. I wanted to be taken seriously, and this narrowed my creative approach.

Michael O’Donoghue’s widow, Cheryl Hardwick, granted me full access to Michael’s voluminous files. I was allowed to use anything that Cheryl had not previously removed. Still, I was cautious, for I knew that Michael had … let’s say singular, private experiences with notable individuals who might not be in a sharing mood. My focus narrowed even more.

One Sunday afternoon I discovered a file titled “Puppy Flesh” which contained various items connected to Michael’s affair with Carrie Fisher. Puppy Flesh was his pet name for Carrie who was nearly twenty years Michael’s junior. This was emphasized by a glossy photo of Carrie, dressed as a little girl, sitting on Michael’s lap — Lolita to his Humbert. There was no real time frame for their affair (it looked to be between the first two STAR WARS films), but it was clear that they had a rather intense one.

There were love letters and poems, mostly written by Carrie. Some were sexually explicit, others sweet and tender. One letter devolved into scribbled gibberish, which made sense as Carrie confessed that she was tripping on LSD. Regardless of catalyst, it was obvious that Carrie adored Michael, and poured her emotions into these missives.

I sat on the floor with the file and pondered. Should I use any of this? How would Carrie Fisher react if I did? She certainly wasn’t shy about sharing her drug and booze history, but this was pretty private. Did she even know that the file existed? I spent the rest of that day running various scenarios through my mind. In the end, I made fleeting mention of their relationship and left it at that.

I interviewed a number of people who knew Carrie, but never Carrie herself. I don’t recall why; our paths simply didn’t cross. I’m sorry for that, because I suspect we would have had a revealing conversation, not just about Michael, but also the original SNL world she inhabited.

Of course, now that conversation will never take place. Dying at 60 is relatively young, though given Carrie’s tempestuous life, it’s probably as old as she was destined to live. Her books and live show, WISHFUL DRINKING, affirmed Carrie’s quick, self-deprecating wit. You saw why she could hang with heavyweight talents, how she was much more than an ageless fantasy for STAR WARS fanboys.

I don’t know what happened to the Puppy Flesh file. I may have made copies of her letters, but if I did, they’re packed in an unmarked box in my attic. The only public evidence of her relationship with Michael is her brief appearance in MR. MIKE’S MONDO VIDEO. In a piece called “American Gals Love Creeps,” where various female celebs confess their sexual attraction to society’s losers, Carrie sits on Michael’s green couch in his Chelsea apartment, confiding that she wouldn’t kick Ralph Nader out of bed.

Nader should’ve been so lucky. So long, Carrie. However flawed you were, you remained inimitable. RIP.

Old Realities

kissputHenry Kissinger could be dead by the time you read this, or he’ll outlive us all. I put nothing past the old war criminal. As Kissinger continually proves, he is not to be underestimated.

Nixon’s former valet (Gore Vidal’s description) recently spoke about Russian hacking, which Kissinger not only expects happens, but should happen. Far from clutching his chest in outrage, the good Doctor reminds us that great powers spy and lie, cheat and look for openings. Putin identifies with the rich history of Russian nationalism, Kissinger says, “which [Putin] believes, probably correctly, has some very unique features.” This makes Putin a difficult puzzle, “a problem we have never had.”

I can see a younger, robust Kissinger flying to Moscow for a series of meetings with Putin. For all of his awfulness, Kissinger wasn’t an ideologue, but a realist — a realpolitikist, if you will. Putin would be one more foreign feather in Kissinger’s diplomatic cap, a challenge, yes, but someone who ultimately understood the balance of global power.

And don’t forget the private parties. Russian leaders love parties. Brezhnev threw some memorable ones.

What makes Kissinger’s comments even more diverting is the memory of Hillary’s team practically groveling for his endorsement. To his credit, Kissinger withheld it, which made Hillary’s overture look desperate and pitiful. After all the chaos and bloodshed Hillary helped to unleash, after all the encomiums to the great man himself, Kissinger wasn’t impressed enough to Be With Her.

That must have been a long walk back to campaign headquarters.

Kissinger’s cool assessment of Putin runs counter to the anti-Russian delirium still affecting countless American liberals. Now that the Electoral College won’t overturn the election results, Democrats are somewhat at sea. Tearing at their clothes, shouting “The Russians have taken over!” isn’t a long-term political strategy, nor even remotely close to political reality. But it’s a hell of a lot easier than organizing a grassroots resistance to Trump.* Consider it primal scream therapy for the enlightened.

*Had Hillary won, I’m sure Kissinger would find something positive about her leadership potential. But she didn’t, so Kissinger turned to Trump and said “I believe he has the possibility of going down in history as a very considerable president.” This is who Hillary actively courted. Ouch.

We Shall Overkill

Presidential transitions are slow motion previews of the next phase of plunder. Cabinet positions are filled amid murmurs and rumors; pundits speculate or celebrate, depending on partisan mood. And we are constantly assured that this process is, if not a miracle, then certainly something to behold.

Donald Trump’s transition may be the exception. Not since Reagan has such a polarizing figure assembled a toxic crew, though Reagan was much more popular coming in. It was Morning in America all over again, and even mainstream liberals looked to find something positive, a resurgent patriotism if nothing else.

Trump hasn’t been given such latitude. Unlike Reagan, who was a two-term governor and took two stabs at the presidency before succeeding, Trump remains the wild card he was when first announcing his candidacy. Despite long months of rancid behavior, Trump’s presence is still shockingly fresh. Each day, people wake up to the fact that he is indeed the next president. It may take years, or some catastrophic event, before that realization seems less bizarre.

So far, liberals have done an awful job fomenting resistance. Stunned by Hillary’s collapse, American liberals grab at any phantasm they hope will ease their pain or clarify their confusion. The Russians Did It is still the main excuse (had Hillary won to antagonize Putin, one can see how triumphant liberals would rally for war), but any reaction will do, so long as it reinforces the fantasies projected on Clinton and, by extension, themselves.

Say what you will about Cold War liberalism, at least it was moored to the labor and, to a degree, civil rights movements. Contemporary liberalism, primarily as expressed on social media, is attached to little more than corporate power, assuming that corporatists have any further use for Hillary fans. Lacking solidity, liberals are free to float any notion, regardless of pressing realities.

Their bitterness has curdled into hatred and blame, their favorite targets (after the Russians) being poor/working class whites and socialists, who are often conflated, albeit for reactionary reasons. Instead of reflecting on their election-year tactics in order to understand what went wrong, numerous liberals have doubled down on their arrogance and elitism.

They want nothing to do with powerless people or economic justice; too grimy, too déclassé. They somehow see their stance as anti-racist and pro-LGBTQ, simply because they say so. And as good Americans know, if something should be true, then it is true.

So, as Trump assembles his gang dedicated to strip mining what’s left of the economy and culture, liberals have decided to wage a two-front battle: Trump, of course, and those who believe in a more direct democracy. The former receives cultivated scorn; the latter, unbridled contempt. Mercifully, liberals don’t hold much actual power. Sadly, they reject those committed to power’s redistribution. All they have is their hostility, and they wonder why people don’t like them.


Purity of Essence

Vladimir Putin is the sexy Ralph Nader. Unlike the consumer advocate who reportedly kept America from a golden Gore Age, Putin has state power and is willing to use it. Plus, he’s foreign, opposed to our freedom, and dedicated to our destruction.

Insisting on air bags can’t compete with this.

For all their supposed cosmopolitan ways, American liberals find solace in provincialism. They claim to be the “real patriots,” as opposed to their reactionary cousins who’d sell this already great nation to the sleaziest buyer. Indeed, liberals earnestly buy into nationalist myths, defending imperial privilege as an extension of progressivism, whatever that might mean at any given moment.

Currently, liberals have lost their minds over suspected Russian interference in our always envied, never duplicated democratic paradise. I say “suspected” simply because, to date, there is no definitive proof that Putin’s tentacles manipulated the US electoral process. But liberals, being smarter than everyone else, don’t need definitive proof. They simply know, and are more than happy to share their insights.

Twitter offers numerous examples of this mindset, but Keith Olbermann is easily the most unhinged. According to Olbermann, Trump’s victory is an act of war declared by Russia — a coup, actually — and we must resist with every patriotic fiber in our innocent souls.

I’m not quite sure what Col. Keith has in mind. Rambling Twitter threads? High decibel YouTube rants? Flipping off Trump Tower? Perhaps, like Che, Olbermann’s resistance plans are so bold that any mention of them will compromise their effectiveness. Who the fuck knows, just so long as Jeff Daniels plays him in the HBO film.

Thirty years ago, ABC aired AMERIKA, a miniseries that asked, What if the Soviet Union conquered the US? It was as boring as the premise was ridiculous, filled with stale pieties about patriotic engagement and fantasies of virtuous resistance — RED DAWN for the cultured class.

At the time, many liberals scoffed at the idea, dismissing AMERIKA as tired, Reaganite propaganda. Yet within it lay the seed for future liberal argument. Who could predict that Donald Trump, himself an 80’s caricature, would be the one to make it bloom?

It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes down before Trump’s inauguration, assuming that liberals let it go. Clearly, there are people in the CIA intent on alleging treason to Trump, confident that liberal pundits will spread the word. And for good reason. Even if the CIA, a Democratic creation, didn’t exist, liberals would find some way to pin all their troubles on foreign monsters, while striking pathetic poses in their mirrors.

The Trump nightmare is real enough on its own. Is this the best “resistance” we can muster?Celebrities Visit

Danger Pay

She looks anguished and in pain. She thrashes across several subway seats, sobbing and cursing.

The other commuters give her a wide berth. Most scroll their phones, her discomfort a minor disruption. One man stares at her from across the aisle, studious, fist under chin. We arrive at 14th St., more commuter flesh presses against the outside doors. As the doors open, the anguished woman jumps up and tears through those pushing to get on.

“That took me back to my twenties,” I say to a friend later at lunch. “That kind of shit went on all the time in the ’80s.”

“Make New York City dangerous again!” she replied.

I saw this and more during a visit to my old haunts last week. Increasingly more homeless amid endless construction of redundant glass towers. More anger, more frenzied behavior. And happily, more street art and political graffiti.

We were headed this way regardless, though with Trump the horror is much more clarified. Had Hillary won, the horror would have been justified when not simply explained away — horror with a Walmart face. Trump makes it easier for people to feel terrified.

Naturally, I’ve chosen this terrifying moment to resume my steady commentary. At least, that’s the plan. Things have gotten coarser since my old blog days, and I’m not quite sure how deep the present insanity runs. Perhaps I’m a man out of time. Wouldn’t be the first time.

As you may have noticed, I’m starting fresh with a new site. BEAUTIFUL LIES was the title of a comic novel I wrote in the early-90s. Its rather graphic content elicited various reactions, mostly negative, including one from a seasoned journalist who claimed it made him throw up. Nan Talese at Doubleday nearly published it, but chose another young writer who pushed “a different edge.” Nan mailed a lovely rejection letter full of praise, which was nice.

I sent a chunk of the manuscript to Michael O’Donoghue, who responded on the cassette tape seen above. Michael said he preferred to talk instead of writing his critique. It may come to that here.