Showing posts with label columnists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label columnists. Show all posts

February 16, 2023

Salon's Brian Karem's best line: "...extreme members of Congress, with their cocaine eyes and speed-freak jive..."

 By Hal Brown


I am always on the lookout for writers I'd call snarky wordsmiths. They not only have a lot of original thoughts to express but they convey them in compelling, often snarky and clever ways. They often come up with an original turn of phrase which really grabs me as describing an individual or group in a way I'd say was deliciously nasty. 

I think Salon has some of the best wordsmiths of this ilk. Heather "Digby" Parton and Amanda Marcotte are two of my favorites. (You can see their columns at the links.) I also particularly like Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank. 

I am not meaning to suggest that there aren't superb writers posting online descriptions of people like, for example, Frank Bruni's of Ron DeSantis in The NY Times:

It brings me no joy to make those observations. It gives me the willies. I’m rooting hard against DeSantis, a flamboyantly divisive and transcendently smug operator with the chilling grandiosity to cast his political ascent as God’s will and a rapacity for power that’s one of the best arguments against giving it to him.

I am referring to the particularly powerful but also sarcastic, sardonic, and satirical ones.

Brian Karem (all columns) is another wordsmith like this who I admire. 


He has some really good descriptions in his essay today:

We went nuts over a balloon! Thank you for saving us, Rihanna


If I had to select one description from his essay which I thought was his best it is this:

... extreme members of Congress, with their cocaine eyes and speed-freak jive...

This struck me as a great way to describe the GOP zealots in Congress even though I wasn't sure whether cocaine eyes were those with tiny or enlarged pupils. I looked up the term (here):

The photo in the lower right is of a cocaine eye.

I assumed that I knew what "speed-freak jive" was, but I figured I'd look it up since I was writing this blog. I discovered it really was a "thing" in pop culture and more than just someone speaking very rapidly and incoherently.

Click above to enlarge. This is a web search on DuckDuckGo.

It is in the lyrics to The Rolling Stones' song Can't You Hear Me Knocking:
Yeah, you got satin shoes
Yeah, you got plastic boots
Y'all got cocaine eyes
Yeah, you got speed-freak jive, now

Note that both cocaine eyes and speed-freak jive used together comes from this song. Brian will have to respond to me on Twitter or Mastadon to confirm this is where he got the idea to use it in his essay.

Musician Howling Waters has a song with that title. You can watch the video here.

Other parts of the Karem essay I particularly liked in addition to the main message which is conveyed in the subtitle about the balloon hysteria that:

It ought to be a "teachable moment": This country is deeply unhinged.

It is possible to be sidetracked by the clever jabs. What he is saying is very important.

Follows are some excerpts that grabbed me:

Millions of people jumped to conclusions, declared themselves experts in downing high-altitude balloons or were too quick to blame Joe Biden for an overblown crisis that would've made a great plot point in "Seinfeld." It was like accidentally tossing a Junior Mint into an open incision during an operation. (Of course people not familiar with that episode wouldn't appreciate this.)

and... 

Speaking of Ron DeSantis, that's why many people speculate he will upend Donald Trump and claim the GOP nomination in 2024. In other words, some are betting Ron DeSantis is the flatulence that is actually a bowel movement. He keeps smelling bad and won't go away, rather like Trump, but he's a fresher squeeze of the cheeks.

I like his describing Nikki Haley this way:

Nikki Haley has now tossed her political Medusa tentacles...

He also wrote about her:

She has a better chance of shooting down a high-altitude balloon with a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun...

I'd add to that reference that it is probably an homage to the line in the classic movie "A Christmas Story" when Ralphie says he was this BB gun for Christmas and is told he'll shoot his eye out with it if he has one.
Read more about this here.

When I read creative clever wordsmiths like these I wonder why I even try to write my blog.

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