Currently viewing the tag: "Ethan Casey"
  • Any excuse to post this again -- any.Here is my most recent VICE Bad Cop Blotter, in which I rant about the decriminalization of childhood.
  • Here is my most recent Rare piece, which is about the death penalty. Compare and contrast with my Antiwar piece on the same topic, and please note the same breed of moronic, I didn’t read it but I am angry anyway commenters ([whisper] I miss you Hit and Run. Except Tony [tears]).
  • My latest Antiwar piece was about the fight for journalism drones, and in it I fully admit my urge to Luddite scream when I think about domestic drones. So something for the techies AND the Amish! (Okay, not really.)
  • P.S. Antiwar is doing another fund drive, so if you want to donate to a lovely site that lets me write just about whatever I like, and also has been consistently antiwar since the days of Clinton, please consider doing so. 
  • Another thing you could do — if you are anywhere near Princeton, New Jersey — is go see Bill Steigerwald (dad, occasional Stag Blog contributor) and his friend Ethan Casey, also an author and traveler, go talk about their books on Thursday at the Princeton Library. Go see them at 7 pm, May 15. 
  • (I’ll be busy seeing Willie Watson on that date, though. Because, obviously.)
  • And hey, since there’s a proper hook and everything, maybe go buy dad’s Dogging Steinbeck book, which is full of ruminations on truth, America, literature, politics, and basically everything interesting in the whole wide world.
  • Ethan Casey also has books about his travels in Pakistan, Haiti, and America.
  • I’ve recently started almost-hate-reading the blog Saving Country Music — something about its style is so self-aggrandizing, hipster-country, that it drives me nuts. Also, the dude was down on Old Crow Medicine Show’s authenticity, which is something I cannot abide if you’re going to do it half-assed like that. Nevertheless, the dude did do a fine review of the new Willie Watson album. (And yet I still argued in the comments at 2 am.)
  • Tech Dirt on the FOIA-ed emails that reveal the full scope of the pathetic, creepy person that is Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis. Background on the insanity here and here.
  • Denis Lawson, AKA Wedge Antilles, the Rebel pilot who defies the red shirt curse (wrong Star, I know) will not be in the new trilogy because he’s more into being a cool, under the radar Scottish dude. Or something. I shed a conflicted tear, because I hate J.J. Abrams as a director, I hate every Star Wars after Jedi, and I am therefore not even sure I want the original trio in a new movie. But at the same time, George Lucas has been so terrible for so long that there’s almost a “fuck it, I don’t care, let’s see what these sequels are like” feeling that is appearing at last. (Or — OR — I still have a lingering belief that the addition of Harrison Ford will somehow make it all okay again.)
  • Via Jesse Walker, a beautiful demonstration of the power of correlation, not causation. 
  • The DOJ might be secretly pushing banks to shut down the accounts of porn stars and other disreputable folk. Very creepy articles that makes one want to bury gold in the backyard.
  • Jezebel commenters delight in story of homeschool girl kicked out of her prom because the dads wouldn’t stop leering at her. This is offered up as reason that “the homschooling community” is untrustworthy” and why you shouldn’t be allowed to homeschool without a teacher’s certificate. Okay then. In my day, homeschool prom was just a special place where rap songs are edited to a hilarious extent and people play Christian rock versions of “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees. In a world, awkward and terrible, but not this gross. I think there was some praying as well, but I tuned that out.
  • The confusing and racist origin of the ice cream truck song.
  • High heels are totally dumb and unfeminist (yeah, I said it, eat it third wavers). But Collectors Weekly has a fascinating look at their origins, as well as that of the corset, which is not great for you, but is not quite the iron maiden we’ve been lead to believe.
  • People are still being suspended for not saying or standing for the Pledge? Conservatives, let this shit go. Even ignoring the “under God” kerfuffle, this is a piece of socialist propaganda written by the cousin of the writer of the worst fucking Utopian novel in the universe. You know it’s creepy for children to be saying loyalty oaths in public schools, you know it’s unamerican. Let. It. Go.

Done, here’s the video of the day:

Can’t stop listening to this song. Can’t.

Oh, and bonus new Old Crow Medicine Show (sorry, Willie) song! Like “Wagon Wheel” it is actually a finished version of an old Bob Dylan sketch.

I look forward to Darius Rucker’s cover come 2023.

The great Phil Caputo, author of “A Rumor of War” and other fine books, took a sweet 16,000-mile road trip in the fall of 2011 with his trophy wife, trophy dogs and trophy pickup truck with Airstream travel van.

The 80 Americans he met from Key West to Nome are the main attraction in “The Longest Road,” which is being reviewed and promoted everywhere and will be available July 16.

As I found out while trying to get a publisher for what became “Dogging Steinbeck,” road books are tough sells — unless you’re famous.

Maybe Caputo would like to join Ethan Casey and me this fall on our West Coast book-promoting tour, which we are calling Two American Road Trips and is further explained at our Facebook Page.

“The Longest Road,” as described on Amazon:

One of America’s most respected writers takes an epic journey across America, Airstream in tow, and asks everyday Americans what unites and divides a country as endlessly diverse as it is large.

Standing on a wind-scoured island off the Alaskan coast, Philip Caputo marveled that its Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants in Key West, six thousand miles away. And a question began to take shape: How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united? Caputo resolved that one day he’d drive from the nation’s southernmost point to the northernmost point reachable by road, talking to everyday Americans about their lives and asking how they would answer his question.

So it was that in 2011, in an America more divided than in living memory, Caputo, his wife, and their two English setters made their way in a truck and classic trailer (hereafter known as “Fred” and “Ethel”) from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. He spoke to everyone from a West Virginia couple saving souls to a Native American shaman and taco entrepreneur. What he found is a story that will entertain and inspire readers as much as it informs them about the state of today’s United States, the glue that holds us all together, and the conflicts that could cause us to pull apart.

Guest blog by  

I was born in 1965, the year the first U.S. combat troops went to Vietnam. Growing up in middle-class America in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I distinctly remember that “Vietnam” – the place name stood in for a great many things left unsaid – was not discussed, almost taboo, among my parents’ generation. I didn’t realize this at the time, of course. I could only smell it, like the residue of something the dog left on the carpet, through the layers of deodorant and disinfectant.

Americans who had lived through “Vietnam” were emotionally and politically exhausted and had declared a tacit truce among themselves. That suited them – all of them, on all sides – but it left my generation poorly served. How can young people learn the lessons of history, if no one is willing to teach them? I had to assemble the puzzle for myself later, through self-directed reading and actually going to live in Southeast Asia. My first clue that I would need to do this came when I asked an older friend what “the sixties” had been all about, and he blurted out in bitter exasperation: “It was about how the blood of the war got on everyone’s hands, and we couldn’t wash it off. It’s still all over the place.”

And it still is. And now, even to get back to Vietnam to deal with it honestly, we would have to wade neck-deep through several more recent wars’ worth of moral and historical muck. I wonder what the chances are of that. We do have the excuse that we have immediate and pressing compulsions and distractions, as well as both genuine and bogus causes for optimism. But we always have those. We had them, for example, during “Vietnam” itself. “You would hear constantly, ‘Napalm will win the war for us,’ Clyde Edwin Pettit told me when I knew him in Bangkok in the mid-1990s, when he was returning annually to Vietnam. “F–king napalm was the greatest thing ever to come down the pike, you woulda thought. It was always something was winning the war.”

Pettit was the author of a prescient 1966 letter to J. William Fulbright that compelled that powerful senator to reverse his position on the war, and of the 1975 book The Experts: 100 Years of Blunder in Indo-China (alternate subtitle: The Book That Proves There Are None), which consists of 439 pages of nothing but direct quotations from politicians, professors, and pundits, all purporting to understand what was happening or to know what was going to happen in Vietnam, arranged chronologically. Read from cover to cover, as Ed insisted it should be, The Experts amounts to a narrative of mounting horror and increasingly tortuous self-delusion. If this sounds familiar, it should. If any document demonstrates the staying power of human self-delusion, it’s Pettit’s masterpiece.

It occurred to me recently that, if he were alive today, Ed Pettit might say that drones are the napalm of our time. The common element is death rained down from the sky, and drones take this a step further by leaving the inflictors of it safe back in the States. Anyone who understood as Pettit did that, far from being “the greatest thing ever to come down the pike,” napalm was both immensely destructive to civilians on the ground in Vietnam and counterproductive to American goals, would endorse the argument made by the Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid in the May 23 issue of The New York Review of Books, that any hope of building a reliable partnership with the governments of countries like Pakistan depends on

support for the complicated and unique internal political processes that can build in each a domestic consensus to combat extremists – who, after all, typically kill more locals than they do anyone else. International pressure and encouragement can help secure such a consensus. But it cannot be dispatched on the back of a Hellfire missile fired by a robot aircraft piloted by an operator sitting halfway around the world in Nevada.

I’m troubled by the fact that devices called drones feature prominently in Vietnam veteran Joe Haldeman’s ominously-titled classic science-fiction novel The Forever War. I’m bothered by eyewitness accounts like that of William Dalrymple, author of Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan 1839-42, who recently told a Seattle audience:

In movies there’s usually one drone, and these guys in their shirt sleeves in Virginia directing them. But in Jalalabad it’s sort of like a New York taxi rank: all these drones taking off, one after the other.

Above all, I’m haunted by my friend Uong Leap’s childhood memory of seeing Khmer Rouge fighters in the tops of palm trees, shooting AK-47s at U.S. helicopters in southeastern Cambodia in the early 1970s. “Oh, crazy time!” Leap told me, with a jarringly cheerful grin. Leap knows what came after that crazy time in Cambodia, because he survived it.

What will come after the current crazy time in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

ETHAN CASEY is the author of Alive and Well in Pakistan: A Human Journey in a Dangerous Time (2004), called “intelligent and compelling” by Mohsin Hamid and “wonderful” by Edwidge Danticat. He is also the author of Bearing the Bruise: A Life Graced by Haiti (2012) . His next book, Home Free: An American Road Trip, will be published in fall 2013 and is available for pre-purchase. Web: www.ethancasey.com. Facebook: www.facebook.com/ethancasey.author. Join his email list here.