Train Smash Women

Daughter has a friend whom I’ll call Emma, whose life is one of tragedy. She was abused as a child, estranged from parents, talks the most brainless shit nonstop, is almost always drunk when not working, only dates large Black men who (inevitably) abuse her… well, you get the picture: her life is just one long train smash. Emma is 21 years old, and I love her dearly, for reasons I just cannot explain.

Let me get one thing perfectly clear before I go any further: when I come across a Train Smash Woman in person, I run a mile in the opposite direction because their very presence in your life is toxic. (Back in my misspent youth, I once had to rescue a teenage Train Smash Woman from her drug dealer by sticking a gun up his nose, but that’s a story for another time. What that taught me, however, was to stay away from her and her ilk, and I’ve managed to do so ever since.)

I’m still fascinated by them, though, in some twisted anthropological sense even though they absolutely exude tragedy — maybe for the same morbid reasons why people slow down to look at a car crash on the freeway. My problem is that I find them funny, and view their exploits with open-mouthed horror combined with helpless laughter.

We probably all know one or two of these unfortunate souls, but let’s look at a couple of the more famous ones.

Example #1: Lindsay Lohan. This woman started off her life as an unbearably cute child actress, became a beautiful young woman, then went off the rails completely in her late teens and twenties and now looks like some medieval gargoyle:

I have no idea what made her decide to dye her exquisite red hair into a shade we can safely call “Dockside Blonde”, nor to transform her beautiful mouth into a ghastly fish-pout, but they are all just examples of Train Smash decisions. Apparently, she recently broke off an “engagement” with some much-younger Russian playboy (like that was going to be her path to future happiness, uh huh) who (of course) abused her horribly. I have to tell you, though, that Miss Lohan is not a perfect example of a Train Smash Woman because she started off well before careening off the rails; most Train Smash Women start off as losers, and just continue down that track. There is considerable evidence that Lohan’s parents are a pair of utter assholes who leeched off her and gave her neither protection nor guidance, but we won’t go there other than to note that asshole parents may be a common factor in the phenomenon.

Example #2: Britney Spears. Like Lindsay Lohan, Britney began her public life well in her early teens. In her case she was a pop singer who, despite a rather thin and weak voice, tapped into the rich ur-pedophilia vein of boy / girl singers and became fabulously wealthy as a result. She was, in the old idiom, as cute as a button:

…and even when she matured and had a couple kids, she still looked good:

Then came the long train smash of broken marriages, disastrous affairs, drink and drug problems, and weight gain — none of which stopped her from performing, though, and she seemed quite unashamed of the Train Smash her life had become:

And the final breakdown came when she shaved her head in a series of online Facebook posts or tweets, I don’t remember:

Britney has not stayed a Train Smash Woman, however: she’s cleaned up her act, ditched the drugs and weight, and now has a full-time gig in Vegas. Predictably, I find her less interesting now, although she is once again better to look at (if you prefer that clean-living, daily-gym-visit look, that is):

 

Now she’s become just another $70,000-per-month superstar, and is of little interest to us anymore.

But no discussion of Train Smash Women would be complete without a look at the ultimate, nay the very embodiment [sic] of the breed.

Example #3: Lisa Appleton. No, I’d never heard of her either. She was on some foul British reality TV show many years ago, and I have to admit, she was quite cute (in that full-figured look I like) and even did a bit of celebrity modeling:

   

Had I been aware of her in those days, though, I wouldn’t have given her a second look.

But time has passed, as has Lisa’s “career” as a reality TV star, and she’s ummm changed quite a bit:

…and her “private” look is even more alarming:

Now I know what people are going to say: “Come on, she’s wearing [that grotesque] makeup… she knew the paparazzi were there.”

Of course she did, you fools — and she knows that every time she leaves the house, some camera lens is going to record her insanity.

And that’s the joke. Miss Appleton has turned her Train Smash life into a career; in modern parlance, she “owns” her Smashdom and uses it shamelessly. (Under “shameless”, I think, is where you’d find her picture in any dictionary.)

Needless to say, the Daily Mail loves her — almost every day sees a fresh example of Lisa being tongue-in-cheek Train Smash-y, and I love the pictures almost as much as the commenters at the DM website can’t understand why the newspaper features her so often. (Duh, you idiots: it’s because of me, and people like me who love Train Smash Women.)

And the best part of all this? Lisa has a daughter who plans on following in her mother’s footsteps in reality TV.

Multi-generational Train Smash Women!

I can hardly wait. Yeah, I know; I’m a bad person.

It’s All Fun & Games, Until

Okay, I might as well admit to it: I love reading Britain’s Daily Mail Online. I know it’s trash, and they’re absolutely the worst people in the world, but it’s like Train Smash Women (I’ll explain that term tomorrow): it’s foul and horrible, but you can’t help yourself.

Here’s a wonderful example (from the DM last Friday): Naked man is spotted teetering on a window-ledge of French apartment block ‘after woman’s partner arrives home’. Go ahead and look (you know you want to); I’ll wait.

I think one of the reasons that these ridiculous stories appeal to me so much is that so often, something very similar has happened to me. And the above story is one such example.

Back when I still lived in Johannesburg — from memory, this was in about 1980 — I lived close to an area called Hillbrow, which was Johannesburg’s equivalent of, say, what the Bronx is to Manhattan: a dizzying array of high-rise apartment buildings in what was at the time the most densely-populated area in the entire Southern Hemisphere (back then it even rivaled Hong Kong in terms of population per square mile). Where I lived was a similar, but not quite as densely populated area known as Braamfontein, which was walking distance (about three miles) from Hillbrow, and next door to Johannesburg’s enormous main train station. All this is to give you some kind of scale for the calamity which is to follow.

I was at some party or other in Hillbrow, and ended up flirting with this rather cute woman. She told me that she was engaged to some guy, but he was always away doing contract construction work and because of that she felt lonely and neglected. One thing led to another (booze, mostly), with the inevitable outcome that we ended up in bed at her apartment. (Nowadays, of course, Good Kim would never have taken advantage of her vulnerability, but in 1980, 25-year-old Evil Kim ruled the roost, so to speak.) Here’s what happened next:

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Flying Aces

Although I have something of a reputation for being a gun nut, I’m more of an admirer than an aficionado. Sure, I can tell the difference between most older bolt-action rifles with just a brief inspection (because that’s a particular passion of mine), but the model numbers of the various Glock, SIG and S&W guns leave me cross-eyed with confusion. Unless I actually own or want a particular model, I have little interest in its stablemates, clones, extensions or forerunners.

When it comes to things aeronautical, I’m likewise not one of those obsessive types who can tell at a glance the difference between a Spitfire Mk.III or Mk.IX, but my goodness, I do love the shape of the things:

One of the very few regrets of my life is that apart from puttering around with a friend’s ultralight, I never learned to fly and get my PPL, because I would love to have taken a WWII-era fighter aircraft for a quick flight. Even the much-maligned Hawker Hurricane has not escaped my gaze:

The great WWII flying ace Douglas Bader flew both in action during the Battle of Britain, and his comment was that while he loved the agility and performance of the Spit, he grew to appreciate the Hurri as a rock-solid gun platform that could withstand an incredible amount of punishment — even though its rear fuselage was made entirely of canvas-covered wood.

I’ve seen a Spitfire in the flesh, as it were, as well as its major opponent, the Messerschmitt Bf 109, as both were displayed at the War Museum in Johannesburg.

What struck me then, as now, is how small those wonderful aircraft are. Also at the museum was one of the few remaining Me 262 jet aircraft, and by comparison to the dainty 109, it was a great hulking brute of a thing:

…although I have to tell you, that shark-like fuselage has its own particular attraction for me too.

As a boy, I was fascinated by WWII fighter aircraft and built models of almost all of them: Spitfire, Hurricane, P-51 Mustang, Me 109; you name it, I probably built it. As I’ve aged, I’ve tried to understand just what it is that attracted me (and still does to this day) to these aircraft, and I think I’ve finally figured it out.

These were not the fragile, unreliable and dangerous aircraft of WWI, nor are they the techno-laden jet fighters of the post-WWII era. Instead, they were flying machines which made you feel like you were part of a miracle. The speeds were nowhere close to supersonic (a modern-day Bugatti Veyron has a top speed just 100mph slower than that of a 1939 Hurricane), and honestly, I think my criterion for these WWII fighter planes is one of enjoyment: you’re going fast, but not that fast that you have no time to think about the experience. Kind of like the difference between, say, a Caterham 7 and a Pagani Zonda.

     

I like both, but I’d rather drive a Caterham than a Zonda for the same reason that I prefer a bolt-action rifle to a full-auto rifle: there’s more of an element of actively making the 7 and the turnbolt work, rather than just controlling the Zonda and (say) a BAR. Speed has little to do with it, although I suspect that the thrill of speed in a Caterham may be every bit as good as in a Zonda, even though the latter may be going half as fast again as the 7. Fast is fast: what’s the difference is how much one can feel it — and I suspect that without a speedometer to tell you the difference, you might not be able to quantify it that much.

So give me a good old WWII aircraft — the aeronautical equivalent of the Caterham — any day of the week.

And to quote a friend in a different context: when I see a pic like this one, parts of me start to tingle that haven’t tingled in a long while.

Can you imagine the sound those nine Merlin-engined beauties make as they thunder overhead? I don’t smoke, but I’m pretty sure I’d want a cigarette after that flyover.

Stop That Shit #1

I was reading some article wherein a so-called “style and etiquette” expert was making suggestions for the ages at which one should stop doing certain activities (e.g. wearing a bikini), and while I agreed with some of his statements, I found myself in stark disagreement with others. [pause while Longtime Readers pick themselves off the floor because they know I am more like the Church Lady than the Church Lady is like the Church Lady]

Here’s the first of his suggestions:

Computer games: age 18

I understand why he would think so. After all, the apparent reason why young people today, and I mean Millenials, are so socially inept is because they’re all trying to conquer World of Warcraft (WOW, as they call it) Level 76 or something, rather than actually interacting with other people [unspoken: like we old farts used to do]. Here’s the stereotype:

But Nazzo fast, Guido*. What Millennials have done is created a culture for themselves — listen to any group of Millennials (and I have three) talking, and within thirty seconds they’ll be speaking a different language which is incomprehensible to anyone other than their own generation. In other words, they are interacting with each other, but just using a platform — the Internet — which is different from what we Old ‘Uns used. And as for actual socialization (or as they wonderfully call it, meat space), there are all the ComicCons and suchlike to consider. ComicCon, in other words, is to the Snowflake Millennial Generation what a Grateful Dead concert was to the Filthy Hippie Generation. Think I’m kidding? Consider these two pics of ComicCon and a Dead farewell concert:

Other than the age difference, they are essentially the same picture: people at a cultural event, wearing costumes which identify them as being part of a distinct group, and each speaking a language which would most likely be incomprehensible to their grandparents.

“Yeah, but kids today lock themselves in their room and just play computer games all day!” is the moan.

If you haven’t done the Boomer equivalent of the Led Zeppelin haj — putting on the headphones and listening non-stop to all the Zep albums in chronological order without leaving your bedroom / college dorm — then you wouldn’t see the similarities. (Full disclosure: I’ve never done the Zep thing, but I have done the same with Steely Dan, more than once.)

I think every generation does this kind of thing — or have since maybe the Great War, or maybe even the beginning of the 20th century. Of course, the Millennials have opened themselves up to ridicule:

Then again, you should hear the shit they say about us.

I’ll be doing more of these as the fancy takes me. It’s a rich vein, and it gives me a chance to do one of my favorite things: generational mockery.


*look up “Guido Nazzo” here for an explanation of my obtuse inside joke

Bucket List Entry #3: Spa Francorchamps

I’ve never been a racing driver, nor wanted to be one. However, I do like driving sports cars hard, ever since a buddy let me cane his Alfa Romeo Montreal over a newly-opened freeway outside Johannesburg. I haven’t had much opportunity, however, so on my bucket list here’s a simple entry: drive a sports car around a race track — and the track of choice would be Spa Francorchamps, in the Ardennes Mountains in Belgium.

…and I have to tell you, a large part of my desire for Spa is that the countryside surrounding it is just gorgeous. Ditto the Circuit Paul Ricard, because it’s in Provence, fer goshsakes (but Spa still wins it every time, for me).

The car? I don’t really care, as long as it doesn’t break down in mid-circuit. Modern sports cars are too clinical, too perfect with all the mechanical and electronic doodads they bring to the party — not that I’d say “no” to a flip around Spa in a Ferrari California, though:

But I’m an old fashioned kinda guy, and I’d prefer to drive something a little more… elemental, something which captures the spirit of a bygone era. Something like a Caterham Seven 360, which is based on the old Lotus Seven of the 1960s:

Six-speed manual gearbox, 2.0-liter Duratec engine (yeah, from a Ford Mondeo) which puts out 180hp — on a chassis that weighs less than I do — all in a car that seats my ass but six inches off the ground and can out-drag a Kawasaki.

Sounds like fun, dunnit? Which is why it’s on the old Bucket List.

 

Everyday Ennui

Is it just me, or is the news nowadays really boring? I’m sure that to some people, it’s fascinating to watch the intrigues surrounding The Donald’s Executive Orders, or how the Socialists in the Democrat Party are doing their usual petulant-spoiled-child snit because they can’t get their own way, and of course there’s always the Loony Left who are still running around with their hair on fire because omigod-Hillary-wasn’t-elected-and-now-we’re-stuck-with-literally-Hitler! (Pro tip: not even close. In fact, if you look at their respective proclivities and ideologies, that Stalinist sow Hillary Bitch Clinton is far closer to the actual Hitler than Donald Hairstyle-Casino Trump.)

Then there’s the non-news, usually revolving around a Kardashian or some equally foul “reality” star (all of whom, I am glad to say, I know little or nothing at all), whose latest nude “selfies” have been “leaked” to Britain’s Daily Mail or whatever, or who have fallen in / out of love with some tattooed thug / rapper / loser [some redundancy]. To me, this is like having favorite performing seals at the zoo, and following their cute antics and tragedies and joys and heartbreaks and, and, and… and is that not a good description of reality TV? Does any of that shit actually matter to anyone who doesn’t write a gossip column / host a TV show? Does anyone care that some trailer-park artiste named Mama June (who actually looked like a walrus, according to some picture I saw which attached itself, burr-like, to my memory) has lost half her body-weight and now looks merely repulsive as opposed to slit-my-wrists grotesque?

Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh. Because I’m right now at a stage of my life where I honestly don’t give much of a flying fuck about anything, perhaps the Republican “replacement” for ObamaCare really is a stinker, or it isn’t. Maybe it’s a Big Deal that Senate Democrats, that bunch of neo-Trotskyist turdbrains, are risking the “nuclear option” of a simple majority vote (having created that little bit of parliamentary legerdemain themselves, anyway) that would put Trump’s guy Gorsuch in the Supreme Court. And maybe the ceaseless yowling of the Left and their publicity arm (a.k.a. the mainstream press and TV) means something in terms of how it’s affecting Trump’s First 100 Days. (Which, by the way, is an equally-specious construct because a hundred days means sweet F.A. to anything. What if the number was 105? 110? 92? They’re all just numbers, artificial deadlines meant to put pressure on a new President, and they, along with the people who have created this artificial yardstick, mean precisely squat.)

And maybe the riots on campus and inner-city streets by the frigging loonies of the so-called “antifa” are going to continue apace without any action by the Justice Department or local police forces — right up until a couple of Korean shopkeepers grab themselves some AR-15s and start doing a little riot control on their own behalf. (You can stop all that cheering and clapping now; it’s a hypothetical.)

And maybe Russia did this, and maybe they didn’t; and ditto the Israelis, or the Brits, or the inhabitants of Outer Assholistan, whoever the hell is breathlessly “discovered” to have influenced blah blah blah, b-b-blah blah blah —  is it any wonder that we look on this bullshit as though it were just a plotline of Days Of Our World Turns General Hospital? (Are any of those shows still airing? No, don’t tell me; I care even less about them than I do about Amy Schumer’s latest fiasco, or maybe it’s not hers but her Uncle Charlie’s.)

Here’s my take on all of it: it’s all bullshit, the whole fucking lot of it. Everybody’s either lying, making shit up or telling the absolute truth, or telling partial truths. Nobody can tell the difference nowadays, so in the absence of a decent alternative, I’m not going to believe a single thing anyone tells me anymore — whether it’s the President, the Congress, the Pope, the EPA, the CDC, the FBI, the State Department and especially the lying Jackals Of The Press (JOTP) — I’m going to assume that each and every one of them is lying their asses off, and I’m going to ignore them all until the bullets start to fly.

Which is what I think will have to happen before we can start trusting these assholes again, because it’s no longer in vino veritas; it’s in telo veritas — in modern terms, truth at gunpoint.

In the meantime, I’m going to concentrate on turning the 5,000-odd photographs of my adult life into pixels so I can finally throw away that damn giant shoebox of prints which I’ve schlepped across the Atlantic and over much of the United States for the past three decades.

That will have more meaning to my life than anything that mountebank Mitch McConnell says or does. Until the bullets start to fly, of course. And I don’t even care about that — because I am, as ever, extremely well-armed myself. They can all go to hell; I’m already in Texas. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the range.