Sunday, April 06, 2008

Who's On First

This morning was the monthly meeting of my book group, so I missed today's Meet the Press with Ed Rendell and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, as they discussed who's the best Democratic candidate in the state (and who can best win in the fall). They also spoke about who's leading in the state and what it means.

As Brett Lieberman of Pennsyltucky Politics said, No fireworks as Casey, Rendell debate Clinton, Obama on 'Meet the Press':

If you were looking for fireworks between the two former rivals in the 2002
contest for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania governor, you were sadly

* * * *

Here's a quick recap:

Casey reiterated how he thinks Obama represents a breath of fresh air;
Rendell outlined the scenario in which Clinton can still win the Democratic
nomination for president and tried to lower expectations for a blowout in
Pennsylvania, even though he still predicts she'll win Pennsylvania's April 22
primary. Rendell thinks Clinton's numbers will hold up in Pennsylvania despite
being outspent 3-1.

For Obama, "it's certainly an uphill fight," said Casey, who wouldn't
go as far as suggesting Obama might actually win the state.

The transcript can be found at Meet the Press.

Interestingly, I was polled yesterday, for the second time in this primary. Maybe I'm one of the few people still answering the phone . . . .

As for the book group, we may as well have watched Meet the Press. Our conversation was about 1 hour on politics, 5 minutes on the book, 30 minutes picking the next book. Our group was mostly comprised of Hillary supporters, with a few Obama fans. Unanimous against McCain.

So what did we read? Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt.

I had read it so long ago that I didn't remember it at all. As the NYTimes describes it, Voodoo Justice:
The book he has written based on his eight years of living part-time in
Savannah is a peculiar combination of true crime and travelogue. The first half
of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is about the people Mr. Berendt
encountered: Joe Odom, a ne'er-do-well lawyer, piano player and tour guide, who
drags antiques and an entourage of eccentrics to reside in one historic house
after another from eviction to eviction; the Lady Chablis, a radiant black drag
queen who uses the author as a convenient chauffeur to drive her home after her
hormone shots; Serena Dawes, whom Cecil Beaton once called "one of the most
perfect natural beauties I've ever photographed," now in middle age and given to
boas, chiffon and dark green nail polish. And there's her lover, Luther
Driggers, an inventor who discovered that a certain pesticide could pass through
plastic, making flea collars and no-pest strips possible. After failing to
capitalize on his find, he has become a town character who "walks" flies by
gluing threads to their backs, and keeps the people of Savannah tense with
threats to poison the water supply.

The second half of the book is the story of Jim Williams, a rich
antiques dealer and restorer of Mercer House, one of the city's most beautiful
historic homes and the site of the Christmas party Savannah's social elite
"lived for." Six months after Mr. Berendt arrived, Williams was charged in the
1981 shooting of Danny Hansford, a tempestuous young man known as "a walking
streak of sex" to both men and women in town.

Definitely a well written tale of Berendt's time in Savannah, which is portrayed as a Southern town unique to itself. Based upon his description of the town, it is somewhere I would like to visit, even though the locals would just as soon I didn't. For some reason, although I'm not from the South nor have I spent much time there, I do generally love southern literature. This is not a work of fiction, yet the ecentric and entertaining characters that are drawn in the story may well be.

I especially enjoyed the (numerous) murder trials that ensued, trying to determine whether Williams would be convicted yet again -- or whether the prosecutor would again be seen as a hapless, incompetent hack. Finally, the utlimate question was whether Williams really killed Hansford in self-defense or merely in a fit of passion and anger.

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