I fondly remember the National Public Radio’s of the 1980s, especially “All Things Considered,” because it kept me awake on so many long automobile trips in the wilds of Maryland, Pennsylvania and upstate New York. I must have bought this book after hearing a commentary on the show from Ian Shoales, a member of Duck’s Breath Mystery Theater. I’m not entirely sure that it was clear to me at first that he was the fictional creation of Merle Kessler. After a blast of cynical commentary, his trademark sign-off was “I gotta go.” In later years, Kessler has written articles, performed on KQED radio, local theater on the West Coast, kept a blog, and even done some recent podcasting. I can’t say that this Reagan-Cold War-era book has aged all that well. So much in our culture, world and society was about to change. A lot of the references seem stale or frozen in time. What might have seemed edgy then has been rendered mild in this age of “The Daily Show,” Sean Hannity and The Onion. It is a window on a forgotten era.
The corporate man: Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch, Howard Hughes, Lee Iacocca, Blake Carrington, Donald Trump, the iron god of Ayn Rand, the distinguished air, the silver hair. He’s the man in search of excellence. He’s the man who takes his pleasure where he finds it. He’s got 200 blue suits, he’s the man with the cellular phone…
…The strong hand quivers, but the Swiss watch ticks on. The stride may falter, but the Italian shoes will last forever. The deposed king lives out the post-corporate blues: adviser to Presidents, a brainstorm in a think tank, the financial expert on the evening news, the well-placed source. He’s a double-dipping golden parachute, hefting his irons on the links.
And finally the burst vessel. The terse paragraph in The Times. Ashes in a silver urn. There are the remains: the dust of a lonely man, who gave his life for power, then power passed him by. I gotta go.