William F. Buckley Jr.

Episode 39 of the Can You Hear Me Podcast finds the boys talking about William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal.  Their televised debates during the 1968 presidential election conventions on ABC are the subject of the superb documentary “Best of Enemies”, which at this time can be found on Netflix.

William F. Buckley Jr. was a paragon of conservatism during the second half of the 20th century, so it was only natural that Gore Vidal, the liberal writer and political hopeful would set his sights on him.  The crew discuss the documentary, Buckley’s overall impact on the political landscape of the time and his long running television series “Firing Line” where Buckley engaged conservatives and liberals in thoughtful and often times lively debates.

But Gore Vidal was out for blood in the convention debates against Buckley and made things personal instead of philosophical.  Buckley fought back, but he was not suited for such tactics and Vidal goaded him to the point that Buckley lost his cool and snapped on live network television.

gore vidal and william f. buckley during the 1968 democratic national convention debate

Buckley at His Breaking Point

The guys discuss the long term impact both of the televised debates between Vidal and Buckley as well as the impact on the two great thinkers.  These debates were the direct ancestor of the political punditry that we are now inundated with.

But for the fans of the tried and true jocularity of Can You Hear Me, the train goes off the tracks and straight into the ditch by the end of the conversation.  We can only stay highbrow for so long before we ruin everything.  As always, we would love to hear your feedback and thoughts about Buckley, Vidal, or any other topics you want to throw into the ring.  You can email us at canyouhearmepod@gmail.com or find us on Twitter at @realgustav @tywebb3000 @longmireheavy or @canyouhearmepod

Four Takes on Blood Meridian

In a departure from the normal shenanigans, the Can You Hear Me team puts on their thinking caps and discuss the novel Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.  On of the crew’s favorite fellow podcasters, Brad from the Below the Belt podcast joins them to add the perspective of a historian to the discussion.  Below the Belt is a Mixed Martial Arts podcast with historical twist.  Brad cohosts Below the Belt with his friend Ryan.  The Below the Belt podcast is part of the Blowout Podcast Network and is one of the Can You Hear boys’ favorite weekly podcasts.

Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian Novel

Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West

Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West was first published in 1985 by Cormac McCarthy and is by many accounts, one of the finest novels ever written in the history of American literature.  Brad has a background in 19th century American and Mexican history and he was kind enough to join the guys for this special episode.

The novel is stark and often times disturbing look at life on the Mexican frontier in the early 1850’s.  It follows a young man, simply known as “the kid” as he joins in with a band of filibusters who take on a commission to collect the scalps of Comanches and Apaches who during that time were conducting raids along the borderlands of Northern Mexico.  The gang of scalphunters themselves devolve into savagery and McCarthy documents this devolution with clipped yet descriptive prose that conveys the violence and the oppressive environmental elements which at times act as characters in the narrative themselves.

The four friends bring four different viewpoints to the discussion and each find different meanings from this scant yet dense novel.  Much to McCarthy’s credit, Blood Meridian is a novel which it seems each person who reads it, takes away a different meaning.  The group discusses the novel from historic, literary, psychological and religious perspectives.

A novel of such imagery and violence is full of disturbing events and themes.  The team tackles them head on and eventually stumbles into spoilers of the story for anyone who may not have read it.  But with such a complex subject, the themes and elements of Blood Meridian cannot be discussed thoroughly without talking about the cryptic and much debated ending.

Despite the seriousness of the novel, the guys can’t help themselves from making their normal style of irreverent jokes, but in this case at a much lower rate of fire.  Many thanks to Brad from Below the Belt for appearing on this week’s episode.  Hopefully, he will return at some point in the future.