Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

Another glorious photo for Vogue by Clifford Coffin, 1954

Well, my darlings, the only jab I’ve received recently was a flu shot. But still… I think the immortal words of Mohammad Ali were etched into my mind in the old times of black and white TV, when parents were worried the tube would gobble up their children’s souls, just as they worry about those little handheld devices now.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee — it’s so evocative. It conjures both grace and piercing aim. Which brings me to the satiric novel, but first:

Definition of satire

1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly

Thank you, Merriam Webster!

California seems to inspire a lot of satire, literary-wise. Did it inspire me? I’ll let you be the judge.

An excerpt from the novel:

By the time of of my big summer release I had, at the behest of Bob Brown, replaced James Ellis at the studio as head of production. The guitar-strumming scion of the old Hollywood family had decamped the area for the trout streams of Montana. We’ll back up here for a moment and go back to the night of the earthquake and the household of James Ellis in the ticky-tacky enclave of mansions off the 405. When the earthquake struck Mrs. Ellis woke, grabbed the hard hat she kept under the bed, jammed it on her head, then noticed Mr. Ellis was conspicuously absent. After looking for her errant husband for what seemed like an age, muttering imprecations the nicest of which featured the words “old fool,” she found him. He sat illuminated by her flashlight on the hill behind their house with an expression on his face that hovered between the beatific and the imbecilic. He smiled at her and said something about a 4/4 back beat rhythm leaking from the cracks in the earth and rising in a stream of luminous color unto heaven. He tilted back until he was lying on the ground, humming and grinning into the dark.  As he later told the missus he had received a gift from an old friend, a one-time member of Ken Kesey’s 1960s countercultural seekers and psychedelic drug enthusiasts named the Merry Pranksters. The gift giving prankster went by Sequoia (birth name Stan).  Stan/Sequoia had never lost his conviction that drugs were the one true sacrament, as well as being the “key to the locked door of existence,” despite having made millions back in the eighties playing the stock market.  It wasn’t a shock to Ellis therefore that the gift enclosed in a letter sent from the Merry Prankster’s distant ranch was some extraordinarily potent LSD “like Mother used to make,” not the low-grade stuff that was now prevalent. Knowing Mrs. Ellis didn’t approve of him taking anything stronger than Tylenol, he waited until she went upstairs with a headache and after making sure she was safely asleep he went outside and availed himself of the opportunity to view the world unshackled from the norms of consensus reality. That is to say he dropped a tab of acid and tripped his balls off.  Bouncing through perception as he was, he determined he would like to repeat the journey on a regular basis, so he took early retirement and headed for a life off of the fault lines.    

May the world remain steady under your feet, and have a wonderful weekend!



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