Wednesday, February 15, 2012

talk turkey – idiomatic phrase (Am. English): to seriously discuss a difficult problem with the intention of solving it.

You can always tell when a cowboy is ready to talk turkey. The first thing he does is set his hat on the back of his head. So that he can see his eyes. And there’s a look that says, “I’m willing not to win, if you’re willing not to win.” It’s the moment in a fight where you realize that if, even if you do win, you’ll have lost just as much. And realizing your opponent is in the same spot.

Americans may have invented that phrase. But we sure have lost the ability to do it. I don’t know. Is it that we’ve come to enjoy the fight more than the peace? Have we lost the mental strength to cope with a vision of the world that isn’t just the way we think it ought to be?

And it’s politically and personally both. We have politicians that enjoy saber rattling more than deal brokering. We have relationships that end in because people can’t see their way clear to a truce. Friends, family, marriages. Broken.

So, there’s only two options. One is to live with people who are exactly like you, so that you never have anything to argue about. That doesn’t sound like much of a relationship to me. And it doesn’t sound like the America that I believe in either. Or we learn to talk turkey again.

Monday, February 13, 2012


The death of Whitney Houston pretty much defines the idea of “shocking, but not surprising.” How could you be surprised? The rawness of her damage was visible. From the years of rumors, to the Enquirer pictures of “Whitney’s Crack Den,” to the recovered-yet-not-whole spectacle of Being Bobby Brown, to the voice that was in ruins. She’d give one more loopy interview that denied any current state of addiction, and make you hope against what was only too evident. Whitney just never could get right. And you’d sigh over the loss of such a gift, and add a sad “poor Bobbi Kristina.”

And really, it’s one of those addiction stories you never can quite comprehend. Her wealth gave her the two things that most addicts don’t have: access to the very best medical help and time. If you have a substance abuse problem, you’re really lucky to get 90 days in a decent program. Whitney could have schedule day after day of any and all kinds of help (8:00 am: yoga, 9:00 am: group, 10:00 am: dialectical therapy, 11:00 am: biofeedback, noon: lunch, 1:00 pm Freudian analysis, 2:00 pm: horse therapy . . .). She could have whiled away hours (days, years) in every treatment known to science, religion and Dr. Drew. For as long as she needed it. Hell, the Scientologists would have LOVED to help her. Whatever it takes. She had world enough and time.

And she had every reason. A family that loved her. Fans who loved her. A daughter who needed her. A faith in a higher power. And a talent that was a true gift. Not many people get that kind of a talent. And yes, I’m kind of mad at her for pissing it away. On top of that, she was beautiful. A decent actress, whose magnetism made up for any technical shortcomings. Really, she had everything. When you have everything, have been given everything, is it easy to just not value it?

When Whitney sang, she sounded like a warrior. Shocking that in the end, it doesn’t matter how much armor you have, but how willing you are to fight.

TIME: Quotes of the Day