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David Foster Wallace, "The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys And The Shrub"

This is a small excerpt from the long piece at the link. It's David Foster Wallace on assignment from Rolling Stone in 2000 with the McCain campaign, right up until the McCain train got derailed by Karl Rove's evil bullshit. This was the first ebook I ever bought. I picked it up in 2000 when it was released and spent an entire day off from my bookstore gig in front of my wheezing eMachines PC reading the entire thing. It's a damn shame he isn't around today to weigh in on the weirdness of 2012. Today is his birthday, by the way. The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys And The Shrub | Txt Post
Here’s a quick behind-the-scenes tour of everything that’s happening on BS1 at 1330h. A few of the press are slumped over sleeping, open-mouthed and twitching, using their topcoats for pillows. The CBS and NBC techs are in their usual place on the couches way up front, their cameras and sticks and boom mikes and boxes of tapes and big Duracells piled around them, discussing obscure stand-up comedians of the early 70s and trading press badges from New Hampshire and Iowa and Delaware, which badges are laminated and worn around the neck on nylon cords and apparently have value for collectors. Jim C., who looks like a chronically sleep-deprived Elliott Gould, is also watching Travis’s leather bookbag swing metronomically by its over-shoulder strap as Travis leans against the safety bar and dozes. All the couches and padded chairs face in, perpendicular to BS1’s length, instead of a regular bus’s forward-facing seats. So everyone’s legs are always out in the aisle, but there’s none of the normal social anxiety about your leg maybe touching somebody else on a bus’s leg because nobody can help it and everyone’s too tired to care. Right behind each set of couches are small white plastic tables with recessed cup-receptacles and AC outlets that work if Jay can be induced to turn on the generator (which he will unless he’s low on fuel); and the left side’s table has two pencils and two field producers at it, and one of the pencils is Alison Mitchell, as in the Alison Mitchell, who is the NY Times’s daily eye on McCain and a very high-end journalist but not (refreshingly) one of the Twelve Monkeys, a slim calm kindly lady of maybe 45 who wears dark tights, pointy boots, a black sweater that looks home-crocheted, and a perpetual look of concerned puzzlement, as if life were one long request for clarification. Alison Mitchell is usually a regular up on the Straight Talk Express but today has a tight 1500h deadline and is using BS1’s superior current to whip out the story on her Apple PowerBook. (Even from outside the bus it’s easy to tell who’s banging away on a laptop right then, because their window shades are always down against daytime glare, which is every laptop-journalist’s great nemesis.) An ABC field producer across the table from A. Mitchell is trying to settle a credit card dispute on his distinctive cell phone, which is not a headset phone per se but consists of an earplug and a tiny hanging podular thing he holds to his mouth with two fingers to speak, a device that manages to make him look simultaneously deaf and schizophrenic. People in both seats behind the table are reading USA Today (and this might be worth noting—the only news daily read by every single member of the national campaign press is, believe it or not, USA Today, which always appears as if by dark magic under everybody’s hotel door with their express check-out bill every morning, and is free, and media are as susceptible to shrewd marketing as anybody else). The local TV truck’s muffler gets louder the farther back you go. About two-thirds of the way down the aisle is a little area that has the bus’s refrigerator and the liquor cabinets (the latter unbelievably well stocked on yesterday’s Pimpmobile, totally empty on BS1) and the bathroom with the hazardous door. There’s also a little counter area piled with Krispy Kreme doughnut boxes, and a sink whose water nobody ever uses (for what turn out to be good reasons). Krispy Kremes are sort of the Deep South equivalent of Dunkin’ Donuts, ubiquitous and cheap and great in a sort of what-am-I-doing-eating-dessert-for-breakfast way, and are a cornerstone of what Jim C. calls the Campaign Diet.