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22 February 2005

Dr. Gene Scott

Dear John,

You may read my thoughts about [Hunter S.] Thompson on the world's newest brilliant blog

You are the first to inform me of the passing of Dr. Gene Scott. In his own meshugineh way, he meant as much to me as Thompson did. He certainly got my complete attention as much as Thompson ever did. Who could glimpse and hear Gene Scott, and then just turn away?

Have you read the full AP obit? What. A. Guy.

[He was also the only televangelist I ever saw who would merrily spend an hour on his TV show blasting the crap out of pheasants with shotguns, or berating and abusing his employees by face and name.]

We just got back from a week in Curaçao. In a splurt of bad last-minute packing, it was our first trip to the Caribbean in which I didn't bring a cheapo sleazoid short-wave radio. There's lots of hot stuph on short-wave in the Caribbean -- but in recent years this was where I had annually re-connected with Gene's noise and hiss and static after he vanished from cable. If I'd packed better, I might have had the thrill of hearing one of his last rant sermons and curse-fests. Under the Curaçao moon, Gene might have been condemning me to Hellfire Everlasting, and that was always a late-night tropical treat for me.

Gene was no dummy. No way I could have ended up with any kind of PhD from Stanford. As for the directions into which he focused his intellectual brilliance -- well, he screamed and snorted about exactly the same sorts of things that Newton did for the bulk of his intellectual life, and then there was Napier, the frothing Scottish anti-Papist and, on the side, inventor of logarithms. To name just a few. Pascal was regularly abandoning accursed mathematics for Revealed Religion and the Truths that Await in Heaven & Hell.

Perhaps what we should fear more than any other thing is the Colorless World of the Future, the world that is coming where all human personalities reek of Velveeta and Miracle Whip and Wonder Bread and The Carpenters' Greatest Hits.

They say these are Billy Graham's final days. Him I won't miss at all. (Truman detested him as a self-aggrandizing scam artist.) What did he ever say that wasn't ambivalent and ambiguous and open to any possible Smiley-Face interpretation? What single memorable word did he ever once say to perhaps a billion people who gave him their undivided attention? Maybe all religion is a form of nonsense, some mild, some dangerous. But it didn't sound like nonsense when Gene shrieked it. This was Serious Stuff, Or Else.



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