March 29th, 2011


Zooming around Los Angeles

Smithsonian has a nice article on wooden track motorcycle racing, particularly in Los Angeles. It's crazy to think that if you could roll the clock back 90 years, Beverly Hills High School and the Beverly Hills Hotel would turn into the Beverly Hills Speedway. Or a century ago at the Los Angeles Motordrome in Playa del Rey. Or see a spill at Ascot Park in Gardena 70 years ago.

Ascot Park shows up in the original Gone in 60 Seconds, which we watched recently. It's a confused muddle, followed by a gripping 34 minute car chase that is simultaneously ridiculous and all-too-real.

The scene where the Mustang tags a car on the highway and spins into a telephone pole at 100 mph was a real accident. Halicki was badly hurt and filming was stopped while he recovered. According to people on the set, after the mishap the first thing that Halicki said when he regained consciousness was "Did we get coverage?"

(I think that accident is what you see all too briefly at about 0:56 in the trailer.)

Oh you conservatives! Never change! oh wait.

So, I was reading over some of Grandpa Theobald's more racist diatribes. As one does. Anyway, I was struck by its resemblance to something else I'd seen recently.

You may have read about Newt Gingrich's pessimistic vision of a possible future America:
"I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9," Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

We'll skip over the radical Islamist secular atheists, but Newt's sentiment reminds me of HPL's worries about the alien culture-streams coming in to pollute the US:
The effective development of a civilisation depends largely upon its stability & continuity; & these factors cannot be ensured unless (a) the culture-stream remains relatively undiluted by alien traditions or irrelevant & traditionless innovations, & (b) the race-stock remains approximately the same as that which evolved the culture & institutions now existing. ... our institutions were evolved to fit the particular biological & psychological needs of persons who are predominantly Nordic Aryans, so that they cannot fit other races except in such respects as those others may happen to resemble ours. In many cases other race-stocks have decidedly different needs & feelings--hence if they try to settle en masse in our country they create a situation of mutual discomfort. They do not feel at home among us--& when they try to bend our institutions to fit themselves they make us uncomfortable, destroy our cultural equilibrium, & permanently weaken, dilute, & set back our whole civilization. This should not be!

Altogether too much is made by radical theorists of the foreign immigrant influence. It is true that hordes of persons of non-English speaking heritage have entered the country--but that has nothing to do with the seated culture of the region. These foreigners didn't make the nation. They merely flocked in later to enjoy what others had made. Our own civilization was irrevocably seated here long before they came, & it would be silly to suppose that we shall allow these crumb-snatchers to disturb the foundations which we laid for our descendants. They can either conform to the native culture which they find, or get the hell out of here. We made this nation, & if any of the skulking Jews & Dagoes who crawl after us to eat the fruit we laboriously planted think they can dictate to us, they'll soon learn better by means of a heavy-shod boot applied to their rear ends. ... We welcome any biologically & culturally assimilable newcomers who are willing to abide by our institutions; but if any crawling peasants & ghetto bastards expect to troop in here & mould us in their own direction, we'll shew them in short order where they get off.

I'm not trying to suggest that Newt or the modern Republican Party are as racist or xenophobic as Lovecraft. I'm sure they aren't. Like I said, it was just the similar theme that struck my eye. And no doubt it's a common theme for conservatives, in contexts totally unrelated to race. "I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids."