It is with immense pleasure that I can announce this morning a formal alliance with actor and comedian Bill Murray, who has embraced the cause and joined GACPA–The Global Anti Cell-Phone Alliance. Mr. Murray has jumped aboard with enthusiasm, and made an early and loud statement about the level of his commitment by launching several cell phones from the Vesuvio rooftop lounge in Carmel. Some will view this as a simple celebrity tirade, but that’s a cover story. Bill is decidedly in.
I’m aware of another incident that tops Murray’s frontal assault. This took place deep in the Mojave desert, near an old windmill and a cattle tank, while some of the boys and I were making a reconnaissance in force through that savage country. We had been at it for a few days, had blown most of our enthusiasm early–which is often how these things go–and so the company was tired, the rigs were breaking down, food and fuel were running short, and someone had broken open the Captain’s last stash of Old Grandad.
A sudden, revitalized burst of merriment was being enjoyed around the fire and the sky was filling up with stars. Then the insults started, slow at first, until suddenly cigars were being stubbed out in the sand and sleeves rolled up. Then the wrassling. Someone caught a fold up chair in the lips. A table went over. Dust went up into the sky. There was a muffled shout, bodies scrambling away into the darkness, and then gunfire, and silence.
What happened was, Chad got tired of Ed talking on his flip phone when we were supposed to be out amongst the rattlesnakes and rock piles, ringtone free, recreating life without nagging entanglements beamed in from satellites in geosynchronous orbit. And I’ll say this: the rest of the grub liners and itinerant Toadvines that composed this raggedy-assed bunch of marauders were getting right sore at seeing Ed with that damn flip phone, acting for all the world like he was Captain James T. Kirk, demanding an immediate beam up from Scotty back on the Enterprise.
So Chad shot Ed’s phone. Right through the 5 key.
I was signed on to this guerrilla outfit as an observer, a novice Sam Damon in China, if you will, but after the dust had settled and those who had blown out of camp for safer ground began straggling back to the fire, we righted the table, relit the cigars, and settled back into our ten dollar camp chairs. The flip phone lay over in the sand beyond the firelight, bleeding out into the sand. No one looked at it. And no one said much, but there was a palpable and shadowy mirth among the troopers as the fire sawed back and forth and the occasional ember went up. The cold mojave night pressed in around our little fire, and Marty, who’d slept through all of it, began snoring from his bedroll over in the greasewood.
The killing of Ed’s flip phone wasn’t talked about much in the subsequent years–sleeping dogs and all that–but it was, beyond a doubt, the genesis of an entirely new ritual on these yearly ramshackle expeditions into the desert: the ugly assassination of Mike’s Garden Gnomes. But that’s another story altogether.
In the meantime, please join me in welcoming Bill Murray warmly into the fold.