Eric Clapton, whose “Crossroads” with Cream is the only later version to include the line about Willie Brown and achieves an intensity and power of its own, must have thought long and hard about the Johnson legend. After an extended bout with heroin addiction, he reemerged in the early seventies playing in a more restrained, less bluesy style. In 1974, Rolling Stone interviewer Steve Turner asked him if the change in his music reflected a change in attitude, and instead of answering the question directly, he told Turner a story. “Once with the Dominos [a post-Cream Clapton group] , we dropped some acid in San Francisco,” he said, “and apart from the fact that the guitar was made of rubber, every bad lick I had, every naughty lick, blues lick whatever you want to call it, turned the audience into all these devils in sort of red coats and things. And then I’d play a sweet one, and they all turned into angels. I prefer playing to angels, personally.”
(page 105 in the microfiche)
Letter to Book Review, NYTIMES, October 7 1979
To the editor:
The review of “Portraits of the Artist in Exile” (Aug. 26) stirred memories of James Joyce in Trieste. My father was the American Consul charged with protecting British interests. He came to like and respect Joyce without the slightest inkling of what he was up to besides teaching at the Berlitz school and tutoring.
My father went so far as to suggest to my mother that they invite Joyce and Nora Barnacle to dinner. This led to words, and my mother’s Victorian upbringing prevailed.
The remote possiblity of social amenities between the two families vanished in 1915 when British subjects began to face internment, a prospect Joyce did not relish. He turned to his friends for help to get him to Switzerland. My father did the paperwork and with others made it plain to the Austrian authorities that Joyce would be a troublemaker to British officialdom. This indeed proved to be the case. Tom Stoppard makes it clear in “Travesties.” Joyce had nothing to give his friends but unsold copies of “The Dubliners.” The copy he gave my father is inscribed
18 Feby 1915
Joyce left for Zurich in June and within two years we were in the war. As our train from Vienna rolled into the station at Zurich one lone figure stood on the platform. It was Joyce come to meet us. As he took hold of the handle of an aged suitcase it broke, but he nimbly tucked it under his arm and led us out. With another simple gesture he had expressed his gratitude.
I never saw him again.
Ralph Busser Jr.
To The Stoner Who Works At Cottage Inn Pizza
You: the guy who answers the phone at cottage inn pizza
Me: Hungry and stoned out of my gourd
I called you from my cell phone but had completely forgot who I was calling by the time you answered the phone. Of course, you were also baked to bajeezus and forgot to tell me that I had called Cottage Inn.
When you answered and said, “Whatsup?” I thought about it, and after a 20 second pause I told you that was hungry. You suggested I try a pizza, and I agreed that it was probably a good idea.
Then I asked you if you sold pizza and you said that you could make me one. I said I wanted anchovies and something else on my pizza. You asked me what that something else was.
We spent five minutes listing toppings until we figured out that I was trying to remember how to say: “Sun dried Tomatoes.” When you said: “We’ll bake that right up for you,” we both started laughing uncontrollably.
It was the best pizza I ever had; I just wanted to thank you for helping me out.
To the end, he nourished his loathing for my mother’s family. When he was eighty, he had to go for prostate surgery, and everybody was worried, it was very scary. Eventually, he was wheeled out of the operating room, and the surgeon said he’d come through very well, but my mother wanted to make sure. “I need to go in and see him.” So they let her into the recovery room and she came out a few minutes later, crying
“My God,” I said, “what happened?”
“He’s cursing my brother Nat,” she said.
“He’s cursing my brother Nat. What does he want from my brother Nat? Nat’s been dead for forty years.”
So I went in and asked him, “What do you want from Mom? Why are you cursing her brother Nat? Nat’s been dead for forty years.” And my father said, “Dead don’t make you better.”
Alan King. Name Dropping
There is no number for my offence in the vehicle code, I don’t think. Drunk Mouth is what I call it.
Another time I was driving my Aston Martin about 125 miles an hour over Waldo Grade. I didn’t bother to check the oil gauge. So, down at the bottom of a hill, on the Richardson Bridge, smoke and flames started coming out of the engine. Someone in a Volkswagon pulled over and said, “Do you want me to get the highway patrol for you?” I said, “Yes, please.” So he went and got the highway patrol. This cop weighs 205 pounds and has his thumbs hooked in his belt, which has a potbelly over it. I just didn’t like the looks of him. He said, “O.K., what’s going on here?” Remember, there are flames coming out of my car. I said, “What the fuck does it look like is going on? I’m having a goddamn party at four A.M. with fucking flames coming out of my car.” That’s the way I’m talking to him. “Down to the Civic Center, you drunk,” he says. Drunk Mouth, again.
Grace Slick, quoted in The Courage to Change: Personal Conversations about Alcoholism
Dear Quote Investigator: After Samuel Johnson published his masterful dictionary of the English language he was reportedly approached by two prudish individuals:
“Mr. Johnson, we are glad that you have omitted the indelicate and objectionable words from your new dictionary.”
“What, my dears! Have you been searching for them?”