Never Quote a Politician

Tommy Flanagan

Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell
Politics and the English Language (1946)

Photo:  Jon Lovitz as Tommy Flanagan, President of “Liars Anonymous:” Saturday Night Live,  c. 1988

On Drug Hysteria

Father Murphy

[Interior, derelict hotel room, circa 1970]

BOB: You know, Tom, you told me a lot of the old-time stories about how you used to stick your arm in between the bars of the cell, the guard would come by, and he’d fire you up a shot of morphine…Well, they never did that for me.

FATHER TOM: Well, they don’t do that for anyone anymore. Narcotics have been systematically scapegoated and demonized. The idea that anyone can use drugs and escape a horrible fate is anathema to these idiots. I predict, in the near future, right-wingers will use drug hysteria as a pretext to set up an international police apparatus…But I’m an old man, and I may not live to see a Final Solution of the drug problem.

From Gus Van Sant’s Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

Screen capture: “Father Tom” (William S. Burroughs) in Drugstore Cowboy

On the Meaning of Life

And as final food for thought, sir, what is the meaning of life? [A rather blurry reproduction of Tolstoy’s photographed face follows the question in the interviewer’s typescript].

Doll's ToyFor solutions see p. 000 (thus says a MS note in the edited typescript of my Poems and Problems which I have just received). In other words: Let us wait for the page proof.

Vladimir Nabokov
Interview by Alfred Appel, 1970
Strong Opinions (1973)

Photo: Count Leo Tolstoy, date unknown