The Corner

Is This a Parody?

Sean Penn, apparently not content with the edited version of his dispatches from Cuba and Venezuela that ran in The Nation, has dumped the unexpurgated version on Huffington Post. Part I of “Mountain of Snakes” is a mere 10,000 words long. However, Penn totally lacks any self-awareness regarding his raging egotism and has delusions of literary grandeur, and as such, he’s produced bar none the most unintentionally entertaining piece of writing in ages. It’s like Raymond Chandler meets John LeCarre as envisioned by a seventh grader:

From the sublime to the ridiculous, it was now 2am. I lit a cigarette, took a couple of drags, flicked it into the alley and entered the bar. Downstairs the music was loud. Some quasi-combo of house and salsa. Thump! Thump! Thump! The downbeats shook the floor and tickled my feet. I headed up the back stairs, and waiting for me at a table in the upper deck were the two contractors I had arranged to meet the night before. Full disclosure: I’m not a big “contractor” guy. I’d been jacked up by DynCorp-employed Iraqis on a dark night in a Baghdad alley, and slept beside Blackwater boys and their guns on a floor in the floods of New Orleans. It’s just this little thing I have about apolitical military might for profit. Call it irksome. Call it what you will, but a source is a source. We exchanged greetings by way of grunts. I took a seat and ordered Johnny Walker Black. It had been years since I ordered Johnny Walker Black. Pathetically I might have wanted to be one of the boys for a moment. They ordered a bubbly water a piece, and it was on. I was Al Capone, m—–f—–, and they were a pair of Perrier pansy John Wayne’s. “Whatcha got for me?” Uninterestingly, they turned out to be a couple of gents, South African though they were. In practice, their job in Venezuela was logistical. One, organized the patrolling of waterways by their company, contracted by the Venezuelan government to aid in drug interdiction. The other strategized jungle patrols on the Colombian border. We talked about a lot of things, and a lot of parts of the world, as I tend to do when indulging Johnny Walker Black. But here are the highlights: Neither one of them liked Chavez a bit. Whatever personal politics they might have had were far to the right of my peripheral vision. Chavez just wasn’t their kind of fellow. But the jungle patrolled said straight out, “I’ll tell you this about Chavez though. Of all the countries we’ve worked for, this government is by far, the most serious about drug interdiction.” I said, “What’s the bad news?” He said, “Chavez won’t last a year.” “What do you mean?” I said. “He’s too radical. We’ve seen it before.” “Seen what before? I said. “They’ll kill him.” “They?” I said. He reached across the table, took a sip of my Johnny Walker Black, smiled, and pointed directly at me, the Americano at the table.

And there’s so much more to savor where that came from… I’m pretty sure my dream assignment as a journalist would be following Penn around on one of these junkets where the famous “Americano” actor takes the Disney tour of the oppresive left-wing hell hole du jour then writing about what actually happened.

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