The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Politicians in Action #57

On picnic in 1885, Chester Arthur (front) and friend ponder the speed with which Arthur will be forgotten by the masses.


Loyolalaw98 said...

That's not Roscoe Conkling with him at the table, is it? He died in 1888 so chronologically it is possible.

John said...

Just a guess here: if the average American were asked to name all 44 Presidents (43 if you don't count Cleveland twice), Chester Alan Arthur might just be the one named the least. (Of course, your "average" history-challenged American would probably be hard-pressed to name even 10 American Presidents, but that's sort of a separate issue.)

Greg said...

Loyolalaw98, unfortunately I don't know. The library archive I got this from (California/Berkely archive) simply lists it as "Chester Arthur and friend" so I have no idea.

Greg said...

John, Chester Arthur has been the one president in my experience about which is known the least. Tyler, Polk and Pierce draw a lot of blank stares too. I used to be able to list all the presidents in order in under 30 seconds. Ah, the talents one develops as a child.

Frank Van Haste said...

Tyler and Polk were notable! Pierce, not so much.

The non-entities: Van Buren, Fillmore, Pierce, Arthur, B. Harrison.

But actually, Chet had a claim to fame. Google "Chester Alan Arthur" + "civil service" for more.


Greg said...

Frank, they may be notable but that doesn't mean the average person knows anything about them. Hell, let's be honest, outside of a small percentage of us, most people couldn't tell you much of anything about George Washington. The lack of knowledge of history in this country truly depresses me sometimes.

Fred said...

I don't know about you, but it annoys me that this country seems destined to never again elect a President who is bald and has facial hair. Us bald guys with facial hair had a good run of it back in the mid-1800s until WWI, but starting with that damn Woody Wilson guy, everyone was clean shaven and had a full head of hair (not to mention, most of them have been over 6 feet tall, but I'll save that for my next rant).

Tom Sutpen said...

John F. Kennedy ruined it for everybody; particularly during the 1960 Presidential debates: Tanned, Cortisone-enhanced, obscenely telegenic.

Nixon, by contrast, looked like a junkie who owed every dealer in town.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

1829! In the midst of an ever-deepening sense of Prosperity, Chester Allen Arthur climbed to the top of his bedroom wall, thrust his defiance at the Javanese, and shouted

ARTHUR: [badly recorded]: Give me Them, or I'm going Over There!

SOUND: Military march music.

But in 1934, in Germany, the Specter of Doom was rising its shrouded head in agony!