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VIC CHESNUTT: Wow. I have been amazed and confused by the health care debate. We need health care reform. There is no doubt about it, we really need health care reform in this country. Because it’s absurd that somebody like me has to pay so much, it’s just too expensive in this country. It’s just ridiculously expensive. That they can take my house away for a kidney stone operation is–that’s absurd.
TERRY GROSS: Is that what you’re facing the possibility of now?
Mr. CHESNUTT: Yeah. I mean, it could–I’m not sure exactly. I mean, I don’t have cash money to pay these people. I tried to pay them. I tried to make payments and then they finally ended up saying, no, you have to pay us in full now. And so, you know, I’m not sure what exactly my options are. I just–I really–you know, my feeling is that I think they’ve been paid, they’ve already been paid $100,000 from my insurance company. That seems like plenty. I mean, this would pay for like five or six of these operations in any other country in the world. You know, it affects–I mean, right now I need another surgery and I’ve been putting it off for a year because I can’t afford it. And that’s absurd, I think.
I mean, I could actually lose a kidney. And, I mean, I could die only because I cannot afford to go in there again. I don’t want to die, especially just because of I don’t have enough money to go in the hospital. But that’s the reality of it. You know, I have a preexisting condition, my quadriplegia, and I can’t get health insurance.
GROSS: Is it true you can’t get good health insurance?
Mr. CHESNUTT: I can’t get–I’m uninsurable. The only reason I have any insurance now is because I was on Capitol Records for a while. And I had excellent health insurance there. And then when I got dropped from Capitol, I COBRA’d my insurance for as long as it was legally possible. And then–which was insanely expensive, to COBRA this very nice insurance. And then, when that ran out, the insurance company said they could offer me one last thing and that is hospitalization. It only covers hospital bills. That’s all it covers. And it’s still $500 a month. So, it doesn’t pay for my drugs, my doctors or anything like that. All it pays for is hospitalization. And yet, I still owe all this money on top of that.
GROSS: Wow. Well, I wish you the best with your health and your music. And I really want to thank you…
Another Interview with Chesnutt, published shortly before his death (“People say that Bill Clinton is a good politician. Dick Cheney creams that motherfucker. Just creams that motherfucker.”)
and related MP3: Chesnutt song about Cheney;
unrelated MP3: Groove Armada featuring Bryan Ferry
Many parents and teachers have become irritated to the point of distraction at the way the weed-style growth of “like” has spread through the idiom of the young. And it’s true that in some cases the term has become simultaneously a crutch and a tic, driving out the rest of the vocabulary as candy expels vegetables. But it didn’t start off that way, and might possibly be worth saving in a modified form. Its antecedents are not as ignoble as those of “you know.” It was used by the leader of the awesome Droogs in the 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess, who had possibly annexed it from the Beatnik Maynard G. Krebs, of Dobie Gillis. It was quasi-ironic in Scooby Doo by 1969, and self-satirizing by the time that Frank Zappa and Moon Unit deployed it (“Like, totally”) in their “Valley Girl” song in the early 1980s. It was then a part of the Californianization of American youth-speak. In an analysis drawing upon the wonderfully named Sonoma College linguist Birch Moonwomon’s findings, Penelope Eckert and Norma Mendoza-Denton phrase matters this way: “One of the innovative developments in the white English of Californians is the use of the discourse-marker ‘I’m like’ or ‘she’s like’ to introduce quoted speech, as in ‘I’m like, where have you been?’ This quotative is particularly useful because it does not require the quote to be of actual speech (as ‘she said’ would, for instance). A shrug, a sigh, or any of a number of expressive sounds as well as speech can follow it.” –Christopher Hitchens, “The Other L-Word,” Vanity Fair
Countries that are not the United States catching up to U.S. science-and-engineering lead;
weight-loss anxieties around the world (U.S. women dislike fat husbands; India’s husbands want their wives to lose weight) (via); extraterrestrials will eat the fatties first
There are many acts of destruction for which the Bush years are rightly reviled–the illegal invasions, the defiant defences of torture, the tanking of the global economy. But the administration’s most lasting legacy may well be the way it systematically did to the US government what branding-mad CEOs did to their companies a decade earlier: it hollowed it out, handing over to the private sector many of the most essential functions of government, from protecting borders to responding to disasters to collecting intelligence. This hollowing out was not a side project of the Bush years, it was a central mission, reaching into every field of governance. And though the Bush clan was often ridiculed for its incompetence, the process of auctioning off the state, leaving behind only a shell–or a brand–was approached with tremendous focus and precision. –“Naomi Klein on how Corporate Branding has Taken Over America,” Naomi Klein, The Guardian
Taco Bell founder Glen W. Bell Jr., subject of the biography Taco Titan (Recipe for Success #33: “One good franchisee will attract others”), shuffles off the beefy 5-layer burrito we call Earth, predeceased by stroke victim, euthanasia recipient, and crematee Gidget “T.B.C.” Chipperton; in response the Taco Bell website features, on black background, a tasteful memorial Fire Sauce packet that is “filled with sadness” (and with potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate, preservatives used to protect quality). Apparently, death means never having to say you’re sorry.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”