Hannah Cann Interviews Jon Waters for York Uni Women's Society Zine
Jon Waters set up the London Profeminist Men’s Group 2 years ago and they’ve been meeting every 2 weeks ever since.
“Well, we discuss it now and again... Not everyone agrees with the name. Some think that we should be called an ‘anti-sexist men’s group’. There’s the idea that we don’t want to colonize a term for a movement set up by women for the liberation of women, and that calling ourselves male feminists or something similar would suggest we don’t understand and aren’t sensitive to the issues. However, plenty of feminists argue that feminism is for all people who want equality, and that men ought to call themselves feminists as they are fighting the same fight as female feminists. I think we’re happy calling ourselves pro-feminists and helping to define what exactly that term means by simply existing under that title!
How do you think Feminism has affected the lives of men?
Feminism definitely has affected the lives of men... in loads of ways. It has forced men in some circumstances to treat women better, or as equals. In certain areas the level of sexism has been reduced a lot...It’s changed attitudes. It was a bit different for my mum and her generation...It was fine for her not to wear dresses and skirts, and ride a motorbike [laughs]. For me growing up, I got to see a much wider range of gender roles. And in some ways, it’s [Feminism] made it more acceptable for men to talk about their emotions more; which has a bit of a backlash because the ‘macho’ thing still weighs heavily on men and boys. But it’s easier than it was for men to be “in touch with their feminine side”, because Feminism’s changed gender roles. Men also benefit from reduced violence to women. Women are their sisters, mums, lovers. Men aren’t purely selfish individuals [laughs]...and obviously they don’t want the women they love to be the victims of violence.
Why do you think it has taken Feminism to promote certain improvements in men’s lives, such as better attitudes towards fatherhood?
I think it’s fantastic that we are starting to see a lot more men pushing buggies down the road, and there’s more talk about equal paternity leave. I don’t think there’s an a priori reason why it needed to be a women’s movement. It’s conceivable that it could have been groups of men fighting for their rights to care for their own kids more. However, I think that men are not generally socialised to be particularly caring, to be blunt! [laughs]. It’s often not high on a man’s list of priorities to be a loving father, but rather a breadwinner and procreator. Being a good dad is in the list of “what a perfect man ought to do”, but particularly in the world of work, which is often male-dominated, there’s a lot of resistance to men taking time off work to look after kids. The more macho the work place, the harder it is. Generally I think it’s a great example of an area where feminists have led the way, and men’s groups can take on the challenge of fighting for men to do more childcare in the home and outside it. As a men’s group we have run several crèches at feminist conferences, and I’m a part of another mixed gender group that focuses on the issue of improving access to activism for parents and carers as well as their kids.
What advice would you give to men who want to take more proactive steps in or for Feminism?
In certain circumstances it might be easier for men to get involved in feminism [than women], because it’s unusual. In some groups men might be welcomed almost as a hero! Similarly, in terms of talking about feminism, people have a lot of preconceptions about feminist women. They switch off, because they think “here we go...” as if they already know what she thinks. With a guy, people are often more intrigued. *Pauses* sorry, what was the question again?!! Oh yeah… I suppose in a university context there are usually gender courses, and there are loads of academic books and “Brief Introductions to Feminism” out there. I would recommend a website called www.xyonline.net, which has tons of stuff written by pro-feminist men about their lives and their activism. It’s also good to know you’re not the only man in the world who cares! Obviously, if you’re in London, come to the Pro-Feminist Men’s Group [laughs] or check out our blog at londonprofeministmensgroup.blogspot.com/. If you’re in York, go to Women’s Committee, or any groups that open doors to men. You also need to be receptive to the issues, and be sensitive about why some groups don’t want men, or at least not all the time. It’s important for men to come to terms with the importance of women only spaces. If you don’t get that, it’s easy to think it’s sexist to exclude men, which is what you’re fighting against! You can end up getting a bit stuck. If you find a group that says it doesn’t allow men at meetings, for example, ask them why and listen carefully guys! It’s really not that hard to understand, honest! If possible, find other men who are interested in feminism. Best by far is to meet face-to-face with other men, but online communities can be a decent substitute if you can’t find anyone. A common theme in the men’s group is that we’ve all had a friend, lover or ex-lover who’s a strong feminist woman and has influenced us, our lives and behaviour. Ideally there’d be enough pro-feminist men out there that it didn’t always have to fall on women to “convert men” but learning lots from feminist friends is generally a great way to start out if you’re interested in gender issues.
What sort of feedback do you get from men and women? Does it vary from men to women?
Personally, I am not a very good advocate for the group. I don’t tend to put the group out there. It’s quite a cowardly approach I suppose. I tend to only tell people I think will be positive about it! When I’m brave enough to tell men about the group it often feels like I’ve just said I’m part of a Jewish Pro-Nazi group. They get a “does not compute” face. ‘Consternation’ would be a good word for it! It’s a difficult job explaining what we do. We don’t have a narrow focus you can sum up in a few words, which makes it hard to talk about sometimes. Generally speaking, women are more interested and sometimes almost congratulatory. Some say they want their boyfriends to go along!
Why is it important for men to think about feminist issues today?
I think a lot of men want to live in a more equal and fair society, and don’t want to see women getting paid less on average, having to deal with loads more domestic violence than men, and generally having less power and privilege than men in most situations. Feminism also gives men the tools to radically alter the gender roles that cause them so much damage, even whilst they confer privilege on them. Boys are taught to become “real men” and face all sorts of bullying if they don’t conform. Changing masculinity and the expectations we have of what “being a real man” means would give men more freedom to be themselves and to express their feelings, hopefully leading to less pent up anger, depression, suicide and violence. A radically different masculinity would mean not having to live in fear of other men’s violence and fear of being seen as weak or not having all the answers all the time. Ultimately, men should get involved in feminist politics because FHM – Feminism Helps Men! Jon Waters recommends www.xyonline.net and Slow Motion – changing masculinities, changing men by Lynne Segal to learn more about the male role in feminism. Contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over a year ago in the run up to the first Feminism In London Conference we asked LFN about childcare for their conference and whether they needed any volunteers. Although we were too late and no crèche had been arranged we agreed to run the crèche for FiL 09 and true to our word a year later we’ve finally done it!
We were very busy in the run up to the conference with some guys taking responsibility for the workshop and me organising the crèche. On the day a total of 4 members of the group and 5 women from LFN volunteered at various times and we had 7 kids come and visit for various lengths of time throughout the day. We had a couple of babies visit with their parents and the rest stayed happily playing whilst their parents/carers enjoyed the rest of the conference, and most didn’t want to leave at the end!
We had great fun making sticking pictures, doing colouring, building and knocking over towers, reading stories, playing catch, making a giant space ship out of chairs and couloured material, playing with balloons, creating a small farm with toy animals and playing with cars.
As well as the kids having fun and their respective adults getting to enjoy the conference the volunteers mostly seemed to get a lot out of it too, one saying that they “should do this more often”.
The quote below is from the parent of a child who stayed the whole day in the crèche and it sums up why I feel it was such a success:
“I would like to thank you for the good care Konrad received yesterday in crèche. He enjoyed it and asked if he can come back tomorrow. It is very good for him to be around pro-feminist men as he does not have many occasions in every day life. Your support means that mothers can with confidence take part in events like FiL and not worry about childcare. Thanks to everyone involved.”
Until next year (or the next crèche anyway), bye for now!
Posted by Jon
Here is an earlier comment by Mike Hurford and my response:
I have read your blogger with interest, but I appear to view our society in a way that none of you do. There are some very sexist and offensive men in our society. I agree. You seem to treat these men as an enemy, challenging their behaviour, and if you find yourselves acting in this way, you attempt to change your behaviour. My problem with your comments is this. Don’t think that a lot of women are equally sexist and offensive to men? There are many sexist women around today. Why don’t you challenge their behaviour in the same way? Feminism would be acceptable to me if it wasn’t so sexist, and didn’t keep generalising about the entire male sex.( Something that they claim to be fighting against, only about women). It seems to me that they, like you, are hypocrites. I have met many sexist people, men and women, but it is only the men who are challenged. The women are supported in their behaviour, by groups such as yours, and society in general. This is my view on feminism, and I would like one of you to discuss with me in an adult way where I’m going wrong. I look forward to a chat with you re the above. Regards M Hurford
Thanks for your post, and for raising an issue which seems to confuse a lot of people.
In my view, and I would guess most feminists would agree with me, the issue is not about making wrong generalisations. The feminist claim is there exists a system of oppression of women by men, called patriarchy. This system has existed in all societies we know about for the last few thousand years. In patriarchal societies women, women’s work, women’s values etc are systematically undervalued. Women are forced into a very narrow set of roles and possibilities for their lives. Women’s lives are ruled by men. Men abuse women sexually and with violence. There are too many examples to list, because patriarchy and sexism pervade everything in society. Although in Western liberal democracies some of the rough edges of this system have been knocked off in the last 40 years it is still very much in operation.
What this means is that contrary to what you seem to be assuming, there is no parity between men’s negative ideas about women, and women’s negative ideas about men. Men’s negative ideas about women are part of the system of oppression, and have a great deal of power associated with them. By contrast, women are comparatively much less powerful, and much of their hostility towards men is an understandable reaction to oppression. That does not excuse a general hostility to men, but we should be putting much more attention and energy into trying to deal with the oppression of women. Actually, I do not think that it is appropriate to use the term “sexism” to describe women’s hostility to men, because that word denotes not just a set of attitudes, but the fact that they occur within a system of massive inequality of power in favour of men. I don’t know what word we should use, there doesn’t seems to be one in English, but the key point is that sexism is not just about attitudes.
By the way, just in case you’re getting the wrong idea about where the group and I are coming from, the point of our group is not to beat ourselves up as bad guys. In agreeing with the feminist claim that women are oppressed under the system of patriarchy, we are also claiming that although men benefit from that, there are many aspects of the roles that men are forced into in that system that are harmful to men as well as women. Just one example would be the fact that men are supposed to be invulnerable and never seek support if they are feeling hurt or weak. So, in supporting feminism, we are working for the liberation of men as well.
It’s been two weeks since that fateful weekend on which we all decided (perhaps against our better judgement) to make a game in less than 48 hours. How’d it go? Well, since the compo finished, POLARITY has been rated by 58 awesome LDers, seen nearly 900 unique visitors and been rated “Clever and brain exercising/10” […]
We discussed our experience of women tending to “act dumb” in conversations with us as men, when we know that they are more intelligent.We thought that this was a learnt behaviour which, among other things, played the role of bolstering men’s ego’s by making them seem like the clever one in the conversation.One gay man present said that he’d never experienced women “dumbing down” in conversations with him which made us think that about it might have to do with more than just boosting male egos.
One thing we didn’t discuss (but should have!) was how we could react positively if we’re ever aware of a woman pandering to our ego by pretending to be stupider than they are.
>>Men and emotions<<
We thought about the questions, what do we do with our feelings, both positive and negative?What is our first reaction?Is it to share them with people around us?Keep them to ourselves?We agreed that often when we don’t talk about our feelings but kind of want to it’s as if we’re waiting for someone to ask us how we’re feeling.For most of us it’s normally a woman we’re waiting for to ask us that question.We’re not used to men using emotional language, asking us how we’re doing etc.Most of us are also not good at asking those emotional questions ourselves.
We talked about the phenomenon of men hiding themselves away from the world, deliberately isolating themselves.This is something that some of us had experienced to different levels of intensity.This isolation can become a kind of comfort zone that it’s hard to escape from, and can also be very lonely.Is this about mental health, or being male?Probably both, we thought.
We mentioned how sometimes we just don’t know how we’re feeling or don’t even realise when we’re having a feeling.We’ve all been taught in different ways to become boys and then men and a key element of this is learning not to show any of our emotions.We all recognised how this happened at school and was probably mot intense in single sex schools.We also talked about how we can unlearn this behaviour and start to reveal more of ourselves to the world, be more open about our feelings and learn to feel more.
We talked about doing a radio interview for Dissident Island Radio.
Two future topics for discussion were also suggested.
We talked about how we were feeling and tried to answer the question “how have we experienced life as a man in the last 2 weeks?”
>>Men and Emotions<<
We talked about how the majority of men we come in contact with just don’t talk about their emotions. We agreed it’s very hard to “reach out to” these men sometimes and there was some disagreement over how important it is to try to “convert” other men to be more profeminist.
>>Learning from Women’s Groups<<
We discussed how (probably due to socialisation into a more caring and thoughtful role) women’s way of doing politics is often much more inclusive in terms of making new people to a group feel at ease and welcomed and that as men we feel we’re not taught to be good at this! This led us to thinking about whether we want to emulate women’s “way of doing politics”, following a kind of women’s lib model, raising consciousness etc. and to what extent that just wasn’t possible (or desirable) as a men’s group. We didn’t get very far on this but agreed it should be a topic for further discussion another week.
We talked about our own understandings of homophobia from an early age and how we’d all been called “gay” as an insult at school. We mentioned our various sexual experiences and fantasies about other men, and also discussed our own homophobic attitudes that we wished we didn’t have. One of these attitudes was finding overtly camp and flamboyant gay men intimidating and having some unconscious desire for other men to be “sensible”. Another was about feeling insulted when called gay. We also mentioned (although didn’t really develop) the idea of how homophobia is a key ingredient in dominant masculinity and how homophobia supports patriarchy.
More positively we also talked about the feeling of loving to be surrounded by queer people, trans, or overtly camp gays or butch lesbians. How exciting it is being with people breaking norms. But then we questioned whether this could be a sort of “politically correct” form of solidarity, that you HAVE to like this or else you’re not a real tolerant left wing profeminist! We even questioned whether it is not a form of homophobia to even feel that we have to react or have to have an opinion about camp flamboyant gay guys, trans people etc. In response to this idea we discussed how enjoying a certain culture/atmosphere normally doesn’t represent a form of discrimination but is most probably a celebration of that culture. However, we never really know what’s going on in our subconscious, so who can really say!
This led us to talk about …
We agreed that self criticism and reflection are fundamental to recognising and starting to deal with our own sexism and that this group should foster such self criticism. We discussed how self critical it was appropriate to be, particularly in the light of some men’s habit of being overly self critical in front of others in order to elicit pity and reassurance. We agreed that this ought to be a safe place to be as self critical as possible and that the other men could be supportive in correcting someone who was being too harsh on themselves. We then wondered if this might become a form of male solidarity with us all letting each other off the hook for being sexist or using porn or whatever, and that this might not be very helpful. Someone knew a guy who’d been in profeminist groups before who felt that the biggest pressure to change his behaviour came from feminist women telling him off quite violently(!), not from the other men in the group. This reminded us of the importance of keeping close friendships with feminists and the importance of also being in mixed gender groups. We also questioned, from personal experience, whether this “being told off” by feminist women would change attitudes and feelings as well as behaviour.
Minutes from 3/2/08
We talked about how we were feeling and tried to answer the question “how have we experienced life as a man in the last 2 weeks?”
- We discussed how the “flamboyant camp gay man” was an unhelpful stereotype to keep bringing up. It was suggested that this behaviour could, on some level, be a kind of “I’m proud of being gay so deal with it” to all the homophobes out there. We questioned why we’d focussed on it at all. We decided it’s because for some of us it was an important part of our homophobia; that we tended to focus on this particular stereotype. - Men shaking hands with other men but kissing a woman in a social situation, this reinforces gendered behaviour (obviously) but also keeps men’s bodies apart and could be related to homophobia between men. - We wondered whether men in activist groups could be crudely characterised by saying the more direct action focussed they are the more likely they are to be masculinist and homophobic because of it being a macho type activity. - Male homophobia keeps men apart and they lose out on tenderness and affection. One thing suggested by Basil Elias in his article “Starting your own group for men against sexism” which Jon read on XY.com, was for the men in the group to try walking round the block holding hands together to start to break down some of these homophobic barriers. He also says (rather hilariously) “How many guys, when hugging, look like we’re burping each other?”!
A 19-year-old from Gaithersburg received 34 years in prison for the roles he played in two 2015 deaths, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office said Wednesday. Edwin E. Reyes-Martinez was sentenced Tuesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court for second-degree murder and accessory after the fact, the state’s attorney’s office said. Circuit Court Judge Robert Greenberg […]
Montgomery County is known for its diversity with residents from 170 different countries calling the county home. Immigration is a hot topic following the election of President Donald Trump who has moved forward a couple of executive orders that have raised concerns and questions for some residents. It’s a topic that local leaders are talking about […]
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It’s officially that time of the year where the days are longer, warmer and sunnier. Here’s a list of some places and activities where you, your family and friends can soak up some sun while enjoying music, food, art and culture. Sandy Spring Community Day, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. June 24 at the Ross Body […]
Seven years of the Montgomery Times newspaper will be available through a digital archive on Montgomery County Public Libraries’ website, according to a news release. Publication of the Montgomery Times began in 1992. It was later combined with the Prince Georges Times in 1999 as the African American Times to cover areas of interest to […]
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BlackRock summer concerts start this Saturday with the Navy’s premiere jazz ensemble, The Commodores. The series continues with free Saturday evening concerts through July 29. All concerts take place on the front lawn, attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. The concert will move inside to the mainstage if the weather prohibits an outdoor performance. […]
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Wakacje za pasem, wraz z nimi kolejne okazje do nocnego podziwiania rojów meteorów. Może się jednak okazać, że w przyszłości nie będziemy musieli czekać na zaistnienie szczególnych okoliczności – „spadające gwiazdy” będą mogły pojawić się na żądanie. Przynajmniej taki pomysł … Czytaj dalej →
Idea budowy satelitów, które zbierałyby energię słoneczną i dzięki temu zasilały Ziemię, nie jest nowa, ale do tej pory nie udało się rozwiązać największego problemu, jakim jest właśnie przesyłanie energii z orbity. Jednak japońscy naukowcy pochwalili się niedawno pewnym przełomem … Czytaj dalej →
W dziedzinie robotyki Japończycy mają spore doświadczenie. Nawet jeśli budowane przez nich roboty są czasem, delikatnie mówiąc, dziwne. A najnowszym robotem z całej serii tych ostatnich jest robot podający pomidory. Nie jest to jednak byle jaki robot podający pomidory, to … Czytaj dalej →
Letnie Igrzyska Olimpijskie w 2020 roku odbędą się w Tokio. Każdy fan sportu wie o tym już od września ubiegłego roku. Premier Japonii zapowiedział jednak niespodziankę – w tym samym roku chciałby zorganizować Olimpiadę dla robotów. Premier Japonii, Shinzo Abe, … Czytaj dalej →
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What would a hate-crime enhancement have added to this sentence?
As for the prison rape fantasy some of you have expressed, it seems more likely that Madden will be the perpetrator of sexual violence in prison than the victim. I'd much prefer to know that prison authorities are taking Oklahoma's 2008 Prison Rape Act seriously and are working to protect all prisoners from violence, sexual or otherwise.
I’ve changed my fog ip address and I can’t rerun the installer to pick up the updated settings because I’m behind a proxy
Installing required packages, if this fails
make sure you have an active internet connection.
Adding needed repository…Failed!
Any way to get past this, all the packages have already been installed and should just work. I had this problem last time I looked at fog, my storage nodes wouldn’t work properly.
Kendrick Lamar ha compartido el estreno de su videoclip “ELEMENT“, canción que forma parte de su nuevo álbum “DAMN“. El video fue producido por Jonas Lindstroem y Little Homies (alias de Lamar como director). Lleno de escenas sangrientas, violentas y de protesta, “ELEMENT” es el seguimiento de los clips para “HUMBLE” y “DNA“. Kendrick Lamar se prepara para su visita a […]
Blesoo edna..Zimnica spremna, za mene samu ne treba mnogo. elem ja necem kiseliti kupus, koji ce mi djavo (bem ti konverzaciju, a i konzervaciju),
ali sta mislis da stavim malo tursijice...zlu ne trebalo?
Tirkiz je leceni narkoman, i moja seka davno meni rece da se razocarala u tebe, ali mnogo si obecavao putem pp
Serem ti se usta ravno
I tebi i slicnima tebi, a to sto pricas ti i poput tebe, meni bude smesno, jer obicno pricaju oni koji imaju putera na glavi, a ti ih kao i tvoje doticne i te kako imate. Jedna bi najbolje trebalo da zna sta je radila u svojoj proslosti
In late January we posted this picture of a Northern Flicker on our Facebook page. The picture was taken last may. The only members of the woodpecker family that commonly feed on the ground, we also went on to say that, due to their diet, which consists mainly of ants and beetle larvae, we weren’t expecting to see them until late spring. Then, two days later, and much to our surprise, Mother Nature threw us a curve ball.
A male Northern Flicker in Western NY in February?
February 1st we noticed a winged visitor in the sumac trees on the edge of our property. Nothing unusual there, as we’ve seen variety of birds attracted to the sumac drupes. But this time something seemed a bit different. Amid the flutter of wings, we saw a splash of yellow. And that splash of yellow is what made me go for the camera. Imagine my surprise when I zoomed in on the object of our curiosity and watched as a male Northern Flicker feasted on the sumac drupes.
You might say February 1st was a day of firsts and a bit of avian education for Claudia and myself where the Northern Flicker was concerned. Prior to that day we had never before seen a Flicker so early, at least not that we noticed. It also was the first time we had noticed them feeding anywhere other than the ground.
This Northern Flicker is listening for an answer to his mating call.
While we learned a thing or two this month regarding the Northern Flicker, we aren’t total strangers to its habits. A few years ago we were rousted from sound slumber bright and early each morning for several days. Come to find out, it is part of the Flicker’s courting ritual and also to proclaim its territory to hammer away on dead limbs and also tin roofs. We didn’t have a tin roof but at least one male Flicker found the aluminum flashing above our sun porch suitable for his early hour courtship reverie.
This male Cardinal is taking a respite in our apple tree between trips to the feeder.
We enjoy feeding the birds year round, but in winter, when the surroundings can be rather drab, the Northern Cardinal certainly brightens the landscape. But these days it’s much more than simply watching the birds at the feeder. Watching the songbirds, particularly the wintering Cardinal, has raised questions. Is the Northern Cardinal, like others of the avian world, something more than simply a vividly-colored songbird? They forage, they procreate & raise their young. They do their utmost to survive, oftentimes in cruel and unforgiving elements. And still, they see fit to fill the air with a sweet melody.
A female Cardinal belts out a tune, much to our great delight.
The Cardinal’s cheery song is easily recognizable and while most songbirds are heard only during the mating season, Cardinals can be heard any time of year. The Cardinal’s delightful song is often heard while the songster itself remains hidden out of sight.
Such vivid imagery!
Other times they are spotted quickly thanks to a backdrop of blue sky. In the case of the Cardinal, such a contrasting background only serves to enhance nature’s palette.
There once was a time when we didn’t give a whole lot of thought to their existence. Eventually, there came a day when we were perhaps more than a bit in awe of their ability to cope with and survive the harsh conditions of winter. Pondering this, it occurred to us that Cardinals, like all songbirds, are something special – a Godly handprint if you will, a gifted species of creation that sing of the majesty and wonders of their Creator and send their lavish praises skyward. One can't help but believe that perhaps they have ample reason for doing so.
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them”….. Matt. 6:26
This Mutton Snapper made for excellent table fare.
(Our camera is on the fritz at the moment so today’s blog post comes from the archives of my mind, reminiscing about a wonderful family outdoor adventure from not so long ago…………….)
It was late March of 2008 and my son-in-law, Jeff Bartz and I were treading water while catching our breath between dives. An Associate Pastor at GraceBaptistChurchin Batavia, Jeff and I had earlier been discussing the numerous barracudas we’d been seeing while spearfishing and we agreed that it was probably not a good idea to target one of the toothy critters – there’s no telling how they might react.
We were on a week-long family vacation on the Bahamian Island of Abaco and Jeff and I intended to spend as much time as possible hunting for our dinner. By Bahamian law, spearfishing may only be done with a Hawaiian sling and wearing mask, fins & snorkel – no mechanized devices and no scuba gear. Spearfishing with a Hawaiian Sling is tricky business. Attempting to spear a barracuda with a sling can be a risky proposition.
With disposable camera in tow, Sammy Bartz displays a sea biscuit.
Everyone in the family donned mask, fins & snorkel for this adventure.
Our routine was to rent a boat and motor through the Sea of Abaco and then beyond the barrier island of Man ‘O War Cay. A half to three quarters of a mile out, the sea floor is a vast maze of coral reefs, each of them an adventure in itself. This was the home of colorful fish, sting rays, sea turtles, sharks and much more. But each day we hunted for dinner and our intended quarry was grouper, snapper and lobsters. Here, within the confines of the deepest and largest reefs, those farthest away from shore, the sea is the color of several shades of turquoise. Beyond the outer reefs the water becomes cobalt blue and drops off into abysmal depths.
Anyway, back to Jeff and the barracuda. I had just surfaced after a dive and was catching my breath when I saw this big, toothy critter just below the surface facing the open water to my left. He didn’t appear to be watching me, but with a barracuda’s eye placement being what it is, one never can tell. One moment it was perfectly still, only its pectoral and ventral fins moving ever so slightly, then, in the next instant a silver flash passed by my head – it was the 5 ft. long shaft of Jeff’s sling and I watched as it hit its intended mark.
Pastor Jeff, displaying his Hawaiian Sling prowess!
Was I surprised? Yes sir! Was the adrenaline flowing? You could say that! The Barracuda immediately went ballistic, heading to the surface, then downward, bouncing off coral heads. This went on for perhaps a full minute and all the while I tried to keep the wounded fish in sight. It finally expired on the bottom in 40 ft. of water, the spear still intact. Filleted and grilled with lemon pepper and almonds, it was delicious and enjoyed by the entire family.
The Bartz family in front of the cemetery at Man 'O War Cay.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Jeff is the Associate Pastor at Grace Baptist Church in my hometown of Batavia, NY. He and Senior Pastor, Donald Shirk are two amazing men of God, following Christ's beckoning from Matthew 4.19; And He said unto then, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Worship Service is every Sunday at 9:45 am and they would love to have you come hear the Good News. Until Next Time, Jim & Claudia
The Red-tailed Hawk is a familiar site throughout Western NY.
Not far from our home in the town of Batavia is a tract of land consisting of some large fields, hedgerows, a couple of ponds, a small creek and small woodlots. In one of the fields is a pair of aged oak trees which serve as both a perch and look-out post for the resident Red-tail hawk who calls this place home. More often than not, whenever I drive down the road that leads into the area, the Red-tail hawk takes flight as soon the tires of my pickup make contact with the gravel surface.
But this day was different. For starters the hawk wasn’t perched in either of the towering oaks. Instead, it was situated in a much smaller tree alongside the roadway, and literally within a stone’s throw from my vehicle. I stopped the truck, readied the camera and, much to my delight, the hawk stayed put. What’s more, I could see that it wasn’t paying me any mind whatsoever. It was intently staring at something on the ground, almost directly below.
The bird clearly had something pinned beneath it.
In an instant, the bird "dropped" to the ground and pounced on it's prey. I was about 40 yards away and couldn’t make out what it was so I continued taking photos, focusing solely on the hawk.
The raptor takes a quick look to see if the coast is clear.
Getting back to the task at hand, the hawk uses its talons to hold the quarry in place and, as I would soon discover......decapitate it.
The meal in question turned out to be a snake, sans head.
My best guess of this shot is the hawk was having a harder time than expected swallowing the snake. Even without a head it was probably still writhing around on it's way down the hatch.
While I say kudos to the Red-tail, this was not the first time I’ve seen winged predators of various species and sizes make a meal of a snake. I’ve seen birds like Great Blue herons fly off with a snake dangling from its bill and the much smaller Grackle do likewise.Has ever a creature of the wild been frowned upon with more disdain than the lowly snake?
Genesis 3:14 “And the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And dust shall you eat all the days of your life.”
A Red-wing Blackbird alights upon a Red Osier Willow.
Among the first arrivals of our feathered friends early last month was a large contingent of Red-winged Blackbirds. While their song is easily recognizable and a sure sign that spring is nigh, it seems this year neither they nor our local meteorologists could agree as to when exactly spring should kick into high gear.
Environs such as this are a spring peeper paradise.
There is no sweeter springtime sound than that of the small chorus frog, commonly known as the "peeper". Their mating season was underway weeks ago and, providing the air temperature doesn’t drop significantly, you will hear their springtime cacophony day or night.
A wood frog warily eyes its surroundings.
It may be the spring peeper whose chorus we are most familiar with, but it’s the wood frog who is usually heard from first. Its raspy call is heard in early spring, often before ice has completely melted. They are at the lower end of the locally indigenous creatures food chain, often falling prey to just about every other bird, mammal, and reptile they have the misfortune of being spotted by.
This vernal pool will provide a wonderful micro-environment habitat.
A vernal pool such as the one pictured above is seasonal, perhaps lasting no more than a month or two, depending on the weather. The Spring Peeper and the Wood Frog, as well as certain species of turtles, salamanders, etc., are all reliant on these pools to procreate. They come here to breed, deposit their egg masses and then go back to whence they came. And they don’t necessarily live in close proximity.
Like waterfowl, the aforementioned creatures also have a need to migrate – they just don’t do so on such a grand scale as the birds of the air. They may simply have to cross a variety of terrain (as well as a dangerous road or two) to get to said place because their biological clock, as well as their ancestral DNA tells them so. While in our midst however, let us take the time to enjoy their springtime songs of love to one another.
The Horned Grebe is a rather unique creature. For the most part, they breed on freshwater lakes and marshes from Canada’s Prairie Provinces northwest to Alaska and, come fall, nearly the entire population moves to the coast. They migrate nocturnally and after reaching their wintering grounds, they seldom fly. So it was more than a bit of a surprise and a real treat to find a Horned Grebe cavorting and diving for small fish in our flooded backyard after the Tonawanda Creek spilled its banks a couple of winters ago
There are numerous species of grebes but the Horned Grebe is thought to be tamer than the rest, allowing a closer approach by humans. This fellow didn’t seem to mind our presence one bit, allowing Claudia to take a number of photos while he swam about non-stop, diving at random and, after having stayed submerged for several seconds, would pop up like a cork. More often than not it was successful in finding small fish in the murky floodwater.
"I'm watching you, watching me,"
As seen in this photo, the Horned Grebe’s deep-red eyes are connected to its bill by a thin line and may play a role in locating prey in dark and dingy water. They are excellent swimmers and the young are able to swim immediately after hatching but mostly they hitch a ride on their mother’s back.
Down the hatch!
By tilting its head slightly, the Horned Grebe allows its finned prey to easily slide down its gullet. More at home on the water, they feed mainly on fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects. Unlike ducks which are content to sit motionless if undisturbed, the Horned Grebe is perpetual motion, constantly on the move when on the water.
Still sporting its winter plumage, the “horns” for which this species derives its name are actually tufts of feathers located behind and slightly above its eyes. The russet-colored “horns” will become much more prominent during breeding season at which time the Horned Grebe’s neck will become rufous (reddish-brown) and the plumage along its back will darken considerably.
The solitary bird spent the better part of that weekend with us. We first spotted him around noon on a Saturday and for the entire time – during daylight hours anyway - he was constantly on the move, alternately swimming and diving for food. He must have been fueling up for the next leg of his journey as he was gone by first light on Monday morning.
LOST 6.11 : Happily Ever After
I’m not sure how many days after Desmond was shot by Benjamin Linus this episode takes place. Des is still beat up a bit, but Ben seems to have healed. Maybe the island has healed him faster or maybe the timeline is off just a bit for the sake of storytelling. So Desmond was brought back to the island against his will by his father-in-law but Charles assured Des that Penny and little Charlie are safe. I wonder how that all went down.
Charles tells Desmond that the island isn’t done with him yet and we find out he’s being led to a Jurassic Park-ish container where we’re going to find out if he can withstand another electromagnetic event. Widmore’s crew was supposed to test it out on a bunny first but the technician who entered the box to see why it didn’t fire up the ...
LOST 6.10 : The Package recap, summary and commentary by Evie
Sun and Jin still haven’t found one another on the island. We still don’t know if Sun speaks English in the alternate reality. I assumed she did, but now I’m not so sure. When she banged her head into the tree while running away from Fake Locke, and subsequently lost her ability to speak English, it made me wonder if that was a clue to what’s going on off-island. And sometimes it sure looks like Jin understands people who are speaking to him in English.
Jin didn’t get his money back at the airport when 815 landed in LA. Jin admits to Sun that he didn’t know what the money was for because her father gave it to him to deliver with the watch and he just does what her father says, no questions asked. We find out later that if ...
Polskie Stowarzyszenie Przetwórców Ryb wystosowało do Morpolu propozycję zawarcia porozumienia i zreformowania organizacji zrzeszającej przetwórców ryb. - Jesteśmy przekonani, że zreformowana, ale jedna Organizacja będzie odgrywać kluczową rolę w reprezentowaniu polskiej branży przetwórczej w kwestiach politycznych, regulacyjnych, technicznych i medialnych - podkreślono w liście podpisanym przez Jerzego Safadera prezesa PSPR.
Fantastic job Battling Bulls group! You guys had so much information I didn’t know where to start, and I mean that in a good way. You guys delivered a blog that was organized and looked professional. I enjoyed the fact that your team members went out and interviewed actual citizens about the election and every member delivered valuable information. I very much liked your blog and commend you guys on the work you created.
- Alexandria LeFebre
Jerzy Safader, prezes Polskiego Stowarzyszenia Przetwórców Ryb, przyznaje w rozmowie z serwisem portalspozywczy.pl, że konsolidacja branży przetwórstwa ryb będzie postępowała. Zauważa jednak, że małe i średnie firmy nadal będą miały swoje miejsce na rynku.
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I (Will) have written AdGrads for about five and a half years now - and, to get to the point, AdGrads is moving to become part of the IPA's graduate recruitment blog, the AdMission.
Initially, AdGrads was begun by the four of us. Myself, Anton Reyniers, Alex Jena and Sam Ismail. The blog was originally meant to stand as a counterpoint to the dearth of Advertising advice out there. The IPA had a good fact file on agencies, but there was nothing out there that *really* showcased what life was like when getting in as a graduate.
The seeds were sown when my blog (‘Confessions of a Wannabe Ad Man’, now living here, and still being updated, happily) and Anton & Sam’s blog (‘Ad Lads’) seemed to have the same, underlying purpose - to document what the first steps in Advertising were really like.
People sometimes asked us, ‘have you ever accepted any money for blogging?’ And, I’m pleased to say that no, no-one at AdGrads has. We have always written and posted help and advice because it was the right thing to do. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the blog has had an obvious upside for us - AdGrads has always believed that by helping people out, it’ll benefit the agency sector and help us out when we’re more senior. More bright people equals better work, which in turn, equals better place/s to work - places that aren’t staffed by nepotism and privilege, which was one of the big driving forces behind AdGrads’ inception.
What’s more, over the past few years, I’m pleased to say the blog’s helped a lot of people and agencies recruit and be recruited - examples that range from helping Leo Burnett with their revamped graduate scheme to writing for The Guardian. Personally, as I’ve become the sole writer of the blog, I’ve met a whole lot of bright, vivacious, interesting people who will be the agency stars of the future. I hope, in some small way, that AdGrads has helped them.
Finally, and most encouragingly, I’m delighted to say that as Sam, Alex, Anton and myself became busier and less able to contribute as much as we did back in 2007, the IPA have really stepped up their efforts to help provide different perspectives about how to get into the business. Recent IPA presidencies have made graduate recruitment a priority, which is utterly brilliant.
With that in mind, the IPA have launched the AdMission. You can read more about it here. I (Will) will be writing there periodically - and it'll use 'the best of AdGrads' to help add to its content; however, more to the point, there will be another generation of AdGrads who will be writing about their adventures in the business. Anton, Alex, Sam and myself are now more removed from graduate experiences, and, given that we have less time, it’s good, right and appropriate for the next generation to step up. I wish them all the luck in the world.
Read what they have to say here - the Ad-Mission should be your first point of call for graduate recruitment queries.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. The blog won’t be deleted (even if I wanted to delete it, I’m not the admin - Sam is, and I’ve not been in touch with him for a while); it will still provide a useful resource for those searching for ‘AdGrads’. Similarly, the twitter account will remain, but I’d urge those who follow it to follow the IPA/Ad-Mission twitter account.
P.P.S. If, for some reason or another, you’d like to meet for some graduate advice, I’m more than happy to meet for a coffee before work. Email me at william.humphrey [AT] yahoo.co.uk.
I thought that it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about something most graduate schemes (and indeed, the industry) seem to neglect. The practical side.
For those of you who don’t live in the South East of the country, getting into Advertising - (or, at the very least, getting some work experience so you can make your mind up) seems doubly tricky; because a) You don’t know anyone in London or have anyone you can stay with and b) Most of the graduate schemes or work experience programmes are closed/you’ve not heard anything back from those few emails you sent to a general email address most agencies offer.
Before I go on, I do know there are agencies outside of London. Of course. There are many fine agencies in Manchester or Birmingham. But, given that the bulk of agencies are in London (and London is what I have experience of, as a West Midlander who wanted to work in London), that’s what this blog post will concern itself with. The same, general rules apply for any big city, I think - whether it’s within Blighty or the US.
Right. There are two flavours of practical advice you need to concern yourself with, which I’ll outline below:
1) Proving that you know about/want a career in Advertising
Over the past six odd years, I have met a lot of people who have seemingly done everything right - they have a good degree, have already made in-roads into meeting people in Advertising and may even run their University or College’s Marketing/Advertising student club.
Despite this, they haven’t been able to get in. I’m afraid (and I had to learn this the hard way) that there’s a gap between being academically adept and getting into the industry. This puts a lot of bright people off, chiefly because they’ve been used to getting good marks and simply progressing. ‘Getting in’ is not an empirical thing. There isn’t a magic route. Some people are simply fortunate by getting in via their first interview. Others, like me, have had to have a year or so getting work experience, living at home and saving money before they finally succeeded.
That said (and I don’t wish to hector or belabour the point), there are definitely short cuts you can use.
I did several things to prove that I knew about and really wanted a career in Advertising. I blogged, showcased my situation and my thinking and tried to connect, via twitter, with a wider number of Ad-folk. There wasn’t one magic, ‘eureka’ moment. It all worked together to help me get into the business.
Whilst, I know, more people blog than ever nowadays (at the time, in 2005/6, ad blogs were fairly new, much less a wannabe, graduate blog), not enough grads use Slideshare to showcase their thinking/situation. Consider using it - it’ll help provide an introduction to those potential agency employers when sending those initial emails to agencies.
If you can, email a named person, not just a generic email address. A real person has responsibility. A 'wanttowork' email has very little obligation to get back in touch with you.
2) Getting to, and living in London.
This, for most, will prove to be the biggest stumbling block. You don’t need me to tell you that London is bloody expensive, and if you don’t have family members/friends living here, it seems like a right bloody faff.
It needn’t be. There are ways and means for getting down to the Big Smoke and having somewhere to live. For starters, unless you’re loaded, don’t consider a short term let. The chances are, you’ll need to be in London for a week to about six weeks, depending on what you’ve been able to get (work experience, or a summer school programme; or even just a day of graduate interviews).
Instead, consider youth hostels. Yes, I know. YOUTH HOSTELS?! If you went travelling, you probably last encountered them somewhere halfway round the world, or somewhere to be put up on a school trip. Suffice to say, neither memory is likely to be wholly positive.
I’m pleased to say that the YHA is a brilliant option. I stayed in one when I had work experience at Fallon, DLKW and Saatchi & Saatchi. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly the Ritz, but it’s good value for money and gives you breakfast, which is the important thing.
Yes, London is costly, but if you’re savvy (the Taste Card is a good shout for evening meals) and stay in the right sort of accommodation, it is affordable, no matter who you are. And, personally, it helped spur me on to do my best at my work experience to try and turn it into a full time position.
Not sure if you realised this, but the IPA (the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) have an excellent summer school, and it closes at the end of this week. They've been in touch with AdGrads to get us to let you guys know about it. So, on with the show:
“This is the final week for applications for this year’s IPA Ad School, a fantastic chance to spend your summer in one of the UK’s top agencies. There are three programmes: Client Services & Planning, Creative and Search. Alongside 8 weeks of work experience, you’ll also attend weekly evening sessions from industry luminaries – a great chance to learn, ask questions and network with some seriously senior folk. Client Services & Planning and Creative students will also take part in a group project which is pitched at graduation, while Search students leave the School with two industry-respected qualifications: the IPA Search Certificate and the Google Adwords Certificate.
There are some fantastic agencies lined up – we’ve not released the full list but do a little research and you’ll see that Leo Burnett and Publicis are amongst this year’s crop. Last year over 70% of our students were offered jobs or extended placements so while there’s no guarantee, the odds are definitely in your favour.
This year’s School runs from 1st July-23rd August and is open to second-years and above, including graduates. You needn’t have any prior experience or any kind of portfolio or book; all we want from you is great ideas, bundles of enthusiasm, and lots of hard work.
Upon successful completion of the programme, students receive a prize sum (£800 for Client Services & Planning and Creative and £1,500 for Search). Travel within zones 1-2 is paid.
But don’t just take my word for it – hear from last year’s Ad School graduates.
Whether you’ve always wanted to work in advertising or whether it’s a career you’ve never considered before, the IPA Ad School is the perfect way to try the industry to see if it’s the right fit for you.
Apply now for IPA Ad School 2013; the deadline is 11:59pm on 12th April.
If you’ve any questions please email adschool at ipa.co.uk or find us on Facebook.”
As you may or may not have noticed, I’m not there speaking today. Sorry about that.
By way of an apology, I’ve decided to write a blog post. Not just any blog post, either. One that, I hope, is helpful for those who are deciding whether a career in communications* (*PR, Advertising in this case) is the right thing for you. It features a bit of my story and some of the lessons I've learned along the way. Read on...
Once upon a time in my first year, I wandered up from Birks (the old one, not the shiny new Birks Grange – this one resembled something like a 1950’s prison) and went to see the careers folks. I was told I should either become a teacher or a solicitor (NB: Exeter's career service is now excellent, but when I was graduating, finding the right job was a bit trickier for the average English student).
Being an English undergrad at the time, both seemed, well, a bit creatively sterile** (**they are creative in their own way, but I was interested in making stuff; y’know, stuff with my own name attached to it in some way – the English student’s creative conceit, I think).
They also, if I'm honest, seemed a bit grown up. And, as a 19 year old man-child who could barely cook for himself, never mind entertain the notion of a ‘proper’ job, I wasn’t overly enthused:
"COULDN’T a job encourage my creative side? DO I have to wear a suit every day, anyway? WHY can't I be paid well for thinking about and helping to create ideas?"
In a way, I was lucky. I knew of one from the start. That was Advertising. I’d been fortunate enough to grow up in a household in the West Midlands where my father was involved with managing an ad agency. I’d been able to find out about the inner-most workings of how ads got made, and the process of talking to clients, conducting research and creating creative work to solve a client’s business problem/s.
Account handlers (account executives when junior, rising through account manager to account director and beyond) were the day to day liaison with the client – the business minded sorts who sold work to the client and generally ensured everything went smoothly. Account planners were the ones who analysed the marketplace, trends and helped some up a defined problem for communications to solve (in the form of a creative brief), assessing the work as/after it was made. Creatives – art directors, copywriters (and even digital/tech developers) were those who came up with the ideas to help clients sell more products or amplify consumer behaviour.
With all of this prior knowledge and career advice bubbling in the background, I got on with the serious*** (***it wasn't that serious – not with my amount of hours) business of getting a degree. And, I got one. And it was lovely, and all that. Mum was very proud.
Knowing what I know now, I should have tried to get some work experience in the holidays. If you’re reading this as a first or second year student, try and do it as soon as you can, even if it's just one stint. Of course, I wasn’t from the South East, and this poses a massive problem for most people – how do you come to a major ad agency (the overwhelming majority of whom are based in London) if you can’t live at home or don’t have friends in the area?**** (**** the answer is ‘stay in a youth hostel’, for those who’re thinking about it).
Anyway, that’s an aside. I applied to lots of ad agency graduate schemes, all of which I found out through the IPA (the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) or through my Dad/googling. And, I was confident. I had a good degree, after all. So, what happened next?
Rejection. Total rejection.
After the first interview (at Leo Burnett, who run a very fine graduate programme), I was rejected from every other place without an initial chat. You might say it was a bit of a set back.
After completing a few pieces of work experience (at Fallon and DLKW)…with even more rounds of rejection… I had a conversational language. I knew how to speak ‘ad’; I was comfortable when talking about ideas in ads – about what ads were trying to achieve and what they could have been.
I’d urge EVERY person reading this who’s thinking about advertising or comms to practice this, and to ask questions of it – what is the comms trying to say? What do you like about it? Or, better yet, what do you dislike? (NB: Check the AdGrads archives for more information; there's lots about this in there).
Spurred on by this, I started a blog***** (***** back when blogging was a new, fairly useful way of standing out; it’s less useful now, as everyone's doing it.) documenting my adventures in adland. The blog, called ‘Confessions of a Wannabe Ad Man’, can now be found here. All of the archives are there, and I think they helped me when explaining how and why I liked Advertising.
Because of these experiences, I eventually got into account management at Saatchi & Saatchi, where I was a fairly terrible account handler. Happily, I was a better planner. I have worked at Lowe, Edelman, Anomaly and M+C Saatchi/LIDA. I’m still at the latter.
That’s my story.
After going through this experience, I've picked up the odd lesson. I hope these are useful:
Mentors are the most important part of communications (and indeed, any job). With a good one, you learn exponentially and have someone to test things on. Without one, you are prone to free wheeling.
Start big, get smaller. The bigger agencies have the time and resource to train you properly. The small ones, though you learn a lot through doing, you un the risk of not learning properly. You can always work at that sexy small agency. Far better to work there when you know the basics well.
Think about how you communicate. It’s a bit wanky to say ‘you’re a brand’, but you must be able to prove why you like communications, and be able to be found. If I googled you, would I find you and your opinions/interests? No? Then why do you want to work in communications?
Keep track of your favourite on your lateral thinking. What’s the best example of thinking you’ve seen to solve a problem? It can be non comms led (ideally it would be marketing-based), an ad, something you’ve done or so on – but it must show a clever lateral thought to solve an associated problem. Keep a log of your favourites. They’ll help when demonstrating how you think about the world in an interview.
Don’t get disheartened. Rejection is part and parcel of the game. Before every relevant job or decision, I have been rejected far more than I’ve been accepted. The trick is to use it to spur you on. After all, Advertising is a trade, not a profession. There’s rarely one way to solve a problem, or indeed, one straightforward way to get in.
Exeter folks, I’ll try to be there next time. Honest.
Feel free to email me on William.Humphrey at yahoo.co.uk if you have any further questions.
You don't have to enter a room like this man - but it might help.
I've had another agency get in touch; Dare have let AdGrads know about their graduate scheme, which has just opened.
Details are below:
"Recent graduates and daredevil wannabes. This is Dare calling. We’re pleased to announce that we’re kicking off our Grad Scheme for October 2013 with a slightly different take on your standard application form.
We’ve been playing a bit of truth AND dare. We reckon you’re probably quite bored of answering the same questions on your applications, so we’ve dared ourselves to create a form that veers off the path slightly. We’d like to know how brave you are, as well as finding out how you think and what makes you tick.
Because we do stuff differently here, it wouldn’t make sense to copy everyone else in how we find our grads. We’re unique. Something we knew right from the off when we challenged convention by merging a traditional and a digital agency. What’s more, this diversity means our grads get to work on an unusual blend of projects; everything from TV to radio and apps to Facebook pages.
You’ll be able to find out more along the way on our Facebook and Twitter pages, which we’ll be stuffing with useful and interesting bits of information about what you can expect of us. We’re also running live Q&As alongside the application process to answer any queries you have about life at Dare towers. Our existing grads will be all ears.
We’d also like to invite you to our Open Day on Tuesday 30th October. It’s your chance to meet us, ask questions and have a nose around Dare Towers. It is first come, first served – as a result, we can only accept the first 100 people to request an invite. RSVP by emailing daregrads2013 at thisisdare.com
First things first; head over here to get your application underway- we dare you.
Good luck and hopefully see you soon!
Good luck, everyone. NB - the scheme's applications close on the 9th of November, so be quick.
As part of the start of a new influx of AdGrads writers, below is an account about how to prepare for interviews by Jen Meyerson Dubbin. Take it away, Jen:
“They aren’t going to expect us to know stuff, right?”
by Jen Meyerson Dubbin
Your blood is pumping. You are hopefully not sweating through your suit. You nervously tap your foot against your leg while sitting on a modern chair that was clearly chosen for design instead of comfort. After having applied to every grad scheme and junior position under the sun, you have landed an interview.
You’re an ad grad who knows their stuff. Your lecturers and professors have prepared you. You brought your portfolio of your previous work to show, and yesterday you reviewed pertinent materials from your lectures to refresh yourself.
You start talking to and sizing up the competition whilst you all wait for a chance to break into Adland. There's someone with a BSc in Biology from Edinburgh, BA in Medieval History from Cambridge, BA in English from Sheffield, and then there's you; an ad grad. When the group finds out you are an ad grad the whole dynamic changes to you versus everyone else. The guy from Cambridge anxiously asks, “They aren’t going to expect us to know stuff, right?” While the girl from Edinburgh reassures him by saying, “They know we aren’t ad people.”
This should be obvious, but make sure you prepare for your interview. When I went on interviews, I was surprised at the number of people who didn’t seem to think they needed to do anything to prepare. Yes, ad agencies do expect you to know about advertising. You aren’t being hired as an account manager or planner for your ability to make a decent cuppa - especially in this economy. There is nothing wrong with never having taken an advertising course, but that’s not a valid excuse to not know about advertising. You wouldn’t expect a lorry driver not to know how to operate a vehicle. No-one expects you to know everything and it's okay to be wrong. However, it’s essential to have an opinion - make sure you're more knowledgeable than a general consumer.
There are several things you can do to prepare for an advertising interview. It might take a bit of work to get there, but knowledge is empowering and a confidence booster too. Obviously, I can’t cover everything in this post - those who've gotten in, please feel free to post additional recommendations in the comment section.
Knowing how an advertising concept works and having knowledge of a little bit of history is essential; especially if there is a team task involved in the interview process. Sometimes you will be lucky by being informed before the interview the type of task you will be given. Use that information to focus your preparation - for instance, I was in a team where one of members was trying to explain to the team that the target market should be as broad as possible when it should actually be narrow and specific to be optimally targeted. He obviously didn’t do his prep work and it hurt the team. In these situations, you don’t want to be the weak link in your group.
What's more, you should try to find out what the person in the position you are applying for does. There are a lot of websites and blogs that should have the information available (Linkedin, for example). If you can’t find anything, note that some agencies do have quirky job titles, so be sure to ask in the interview. Use what you learned to sell yourself by connecting your skills and experience to the position - most things you've done can be related to advertising in some way - you've just got to know what the job entails.
When it comes to research, look at the agency you are applying to online. You can learn about their agency culture, clients, current & past work, people, and history. You can also find information in trade publications and websites such as (e.g., IPA, Brand Republic).
Learn about other agencies. Agencies are brands with communication products just like Coca-Cola is a brand with soft drink products. Other agencies are the competitors of the agency you are applying for. You don’t need to do SWOT analyses for each, but basics like what they offer, who their current & past clients are, current & past work, and agency culture should have you well covered. In the end, you should be able to talk about what differentiates Agency A from Agency B.
Finally, when I set off in advertising school I thought Planners & Account Managers went to college and Creatives went to portfolio school, but the ad world isn’t like that. There are no extra points for having a communications and business background. No specific mold of what makes an ad person exists.
Advertising is incredibly diverse. Some people have degrees while others don’t. Those who do have degrees come from a variety of disciplines. Regardless of their discipline, ad people are willing to put in the work to stay current and knowledgeable because they genuinely like what they do.
We haven't done one of these profiles for a while..
Something a little different today, but a feature that's something that (hopefully), older AdGrads readers will remember. We've got a fairly recent grad, Di Caplinska, who is a planner at Euro RSCG, to write for us about how she got into the business.
So, without further ado...here's Di's account:
"On a number of occasions recently I have found myself on the receiving end of questions from soon-to-be graduates about how to get into this tricky industry. A number of paths can be proffered, but how people get into their first advertising job are always interesting - and never straightforward. So with some encouragement from Will and AdGrads, whose contribution to my journey has been invaluable, I have decided to write up mine, as long-winded and frustrating at times as it was.
Coming from Latvia, a small country loved by British stag dos, feared by Scandinavian ice hockey teams, and hated by the IMF, advertising was never really on my radar. Being born in a family of Soviet engineers and spending summer holidays in Maths camps didn’t exactly further my exposure to the industry that is, frankly, still in its infancy anyway (as you’d expect from a country dealing with a communist hangover). My love affair with advertising kicked off when I moved to the UK for University and studied Business, later switching to Marketing - focusing on Brand Management in my final year. At the same time, suddenly finding myself in a new country provoked a deep interest in all things ‘culture, people, and the way they think’, so I started observing the world from an outsider’s perspective to an almost scientific degree. One would have said that is a pretty clear path into Planning, but not before I spent a year in the corporate world of B2B Marketing; something which helped to confirm that it’s not for me.
My first exposure to advertising in practice (as opposed to through books, blogs, and newsletters – all in this deck) was with JWT London as part of their 2 week Account Management placement just before the start of my final year. Apart from meeting great people, having to squeeze a gigantic papier-mache cow into an elevator, and running 5k in holey Converse, it confirmed my intuitive leaning towards Planning, as well as teaching me very valuable lesson. Namely, that getting in was going to be painful, especially if you don’t have any relevant family contacts, and even more so if your alma mater is outside the Russell Group. And…let’s just say I felt like I was doomed as I wasn't born speaking English and wasn't able to master some eloquent assessment centre banter. With this positive outlook, I decided to harass the finest of JWT’s Planners for advice. Some shared interview wisdom, others bought me encouraging cups of coffee, and one pointed me towards Miami Ad School’s Planning Bootcamp in case graduate schemes didn’t quite work out.
And they didn’t. In the interests of putting my dissertation first, I limited my applications to Planning positions only and managed to secure two final rounds – at Dare and Leo Burnett, but sadly, I didn’t land the coveted gig. In parallel to this, in the climate when redundancies were far more popular than graduate schemes, I pulled out at all stops. I ran a cheeky recruitment Facebook ad that got blogging exposure and some LinkedIn introductions, I milked what advice my lecturers had to give, crashed semi-relevant industry events with a handful of (pretty embarrassing, frankly) business cards, and watched agency twitter feeds for internship opportunities. And when my university wasn’t part of the advertising recruitment milkround, I blagged my way into the one that was - Oxford, which was conveniently next door.
Unemployment panic aside, my graduation week culminated in shooting a cringeworthy video about how geeks are the new mainstream as part of my Miami Ad School application. Less than a month later I was in their Hamburg office trying to shake off that ‘Business School student’ look and soak in all the ideas flying around. Probably the most tangible thing I came out with a few months later was this ‘Junior Planner for Hire’ presentation that has been viewed over 1,000 times since. And then I came across The Planner Survey, an annual report on the state of Planning in the world lovingly crafted by Heather LeFevre, which provided a handy list of relevant recruiters in the UK. In the end I got a break with the help of wise, genuinely interested, and very well-connected people at Copper who helped me land an internship at EuroRSCG London which eventually led to a permanent position.
There it is, a very happy ending! And now, in the interests of keeping karma on my side, I’ve put together this presentation of ultimate tips on getting into the industry. Enjoy it, pass it on, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions."
W kwietniu br. wszystkie tygodniki yellow zanotowały spadki średniej sprzedaży ogółem. Najwięcej straciło „Życie na Gorąco”, które jednak utrzymało się na pozycji zdecydowanego lidera sprzedaży w segmencie - wynika z raportu Wirtualnemedia.pl.
59,00 EUR Speziell f?r den gro?en Hund gedacht ist dieses extra breite und mit viereckigen Ziernieten dicht besetzte Halsband. Handwerklich in Deutschland verarbeitete handselektierte Lederh?ute sorgen f?r eine lange Lebensdauer. Pflegeleicht und weich bietet es Ihrem Hund einen hohen Tragekomfort. Eine zus?tzliche Nyloneinlage sorgt f?r Stabilit?t und Rei?festigkeit. Das Halsband ist genietet und mit verchromten Beschl?gen versehen. Farbe: Schwarz Breite: 50 mm Gesamtl?nge: 70 cm Verstellbar ca. von 53 bis 59 cmVintage - edel und einzigartig. Die Halsb?nder ?ppig besetzt mit modischem Strass oder Ziernieten. Die Vintage-Reihe umfasst besonders edle Lederleinen und Halsb?nder in modischen Trendfarben. Hergestellt aus weichem Rindnappaleder sind sie sehr strapazierf?hig und trotzdem angenehm weich. Durch das doppelt gebuggte Leder besonders schonend zum Fell und wegen der glatten Oberfl?che besonders abweisend gegen Feuchtigkeit und Verschmutzung.
…like a good Indiana Jones movie, the real story of this lost treasure began with a flash of archaeological insight in a remote Asian jungle half a world away….
Koh Ker, Cambodia – Protests from the Kingdom of Cambodia recently halted the multi-million dollar Sotheby’s sale of an ancient stone statue with the support of the United States government. When the Cambodians sought help bringing the thousand-year-old Khmer statue back to their country the New York Times ran a detailed article entitled “Mythic Warrior Is Captive in Global Art Conflict.”
10th century Cambodian sculpture previously scheduled for a multi-million dollar Sotheby’s sale.
Their investigation reveals that the legal and moral issues surrounding the ownership and sale of ancient art are quite complex. In this case, one generous art collector may actually provide a positive solution. But like a good Indiana Jones movie, the real story of this lost treasure began with a flash of archaeological insight in a remote Asian jungle half a world away.
Mystery of the Missing Men of Koh Ker
One thousand years ago, the Khmer Empire ruled most of what is now Southeast Asia from its capital in Angkor. During their heyday, the architecturally and artistically sophisticated Khmer people created some of humanity’s most extraordinary stone temples and statues. Apart from a few stone inscriptions, however, no written records of the civilization survived. Out of necessity, archaeologists have had no alternative but to piece the story of the Khmer people together, clue by clue and stone by stone.
Rising above 30 meters in height, Koh Ker’s central temple-mountain of Prasat Thom was built 100 years before Angkor Wat. Photo: Khmersearch, Panoramio.
Early in the 10th century (for reasons that are still unclear), King Jayavarman IV and his son Harsavarman II relocated the empire’s capital from Angkor to an isolated plateau 100 km to the northeast. There they built the city of Koh Ker, a huge new complex of temples and shrines, where they established their throne for a brief 16 year period (928-944 AD). Like all great Khmer cities, Koh Ker was ultimately abandoned and swallowed up by the jungle. The rediscovery of the Khmer civilization by Westerners didn’t begin until French explorers arrived in the second half of the 19th century.
In 2007, stone conservator Simon Warrack was working with the German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP), a scientific organization that had been doing critical restoration on Angkor Wat temple for more than a decade. In May, Warrack took a side trip to the Koh Ker site (Google Map link) to consider future conservation needs there.
At Koh Ker, Warrack noticed two distinctive pedestal platforms in the first enclosure of Prasat Chen. There, by the west gopura (an entry structure), he saw the feet where two statues had clearly been broken off. But the gods that once stood there were nowhere to be found. The mystery sparked his imagination.
The two Koh Ker pedestals as Warrack found them at Prasat Chen in May 2007. The pedestal circled in red shows a fabric section still attached in the center.
Virtually Connecting Ancient Dots…and Stones
From my own research cataloging the devata of Angkor I can attest that field work is generally hot, uncomfortable and distracting. Almost all of my discoveries happen at my desk in Florida examining photos taken weeks or years before at remote locations. Warrack continued his search in similar fashion.
The Norton Simon dvarapala featured in “Adoration and Glory”, p. 149
He pondered the distinctive bases and began searching for photos in books and research archives. Finally, he found a possible solution. In “Adoration and Glory – The Golden Age of Khmer Art” by Emma Bunker and Douglas Latchford one image stood out. It showed a figure identified as a dvarapala (guardian) at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena California. That statue was missing its feet, but many are. The key to solving this puzzle was the unique tail at the bottom of its clothing element. After scanning images and digitally combining them Warrack confirmed the close match between the two fragments.
Warrack’s 2007 digital superimposition of the base and body of the Koh Ker statue.
Warrack immediately wrote a short paper to seek opinions from others in the field of Khmer studies. He forwarded copies to friends and associates as well as to key authorities including the APSARA Authority, which manages the Angkor region’s heritage assets; the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in Phnom Penh; and the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), a French organization dedicated to Asian studies that has been active in conservation efforts at Angkor since 1907. I met Simon in 2007 shortly after his find and the photos above come from the original article he shared with me.
Everyone who saw his image realized the importance of this observation. Determining the original location of displaced objects can be a huge help in interpreting their meaning and significance within the context of an ancient civilization. The record shows that the Norton Simon piece was acquired legitimately and is on public display for educational, artistic and cultural appreciation. But not all art ends up this way. Much of it disappears into private collections, out of view.
Such was the case of the complimentary statue that stood face to face with this one more than a thousand years ago at the Khmer capital of Koh Ker.
Sotheby's twin Khmer warrior. Note the unbroken base of the fabric tail.
The Long Lost Twin Reappears
In the summer of 2010, a “noble European lady” contacted Sotheby’s to discuss the sale of a “spectacular tenth-century Cambodian sculpture, 160 centimeters in height and exceptionally well carved.” Word got out quickly to the worlds of art and archaeology. When pictures began to circulate it was instantaneously clear that this was the long-lost companion to the statue Warrack had connected to the Norton Simon Museum three years earlier.
Meanwhile, in New York, the matching sculpture was estimated to sell for millions of dollars. According to the owner’s records, she legally acquired the piece in 1975 from the now-defunct London art dealer Spink & Son. The Norton Simon Museum also acquired their piece that year. Some evidence suggests that both statues left Cambodia in the late 1960s, but exactly when and how that happened, and who arranged it, is unknown.
Paraphrasing Sotheby’s Senior Vice President Jane A. Levine, the New York Times article stated “Ms. Levine countered that the statue could have been removed any time in its thousand-year history, and said the word ‘stolen’ was often ‘used loosely.’ ” Meanwhile, Christie’s auction house acquired Spinks in 1993 and claims that the 1975 records of the statue’s origin are “no longer available.”
Regardless of the lack of facts, the ownership of both statues seems quite legal under international laws. Which brings us to a question at the heart of this matter.
Who Should Own Historical Art?
An idealistic answer is “humanity” but even this dream can have unexpected consequences as we’ll discover below. My personal goal would be for historical assets to be accessible to everyone who wants to respect them, preserve them, appreciate them and learn from them. But this philosophy wouldn’t get me through the front door at most of the world’s public institutions holding these assets (let alone to private collections).
Most of us are fortunate enough to live in a free society. We can buy, sell and own personal property within the law. The laws protecting heritage assets have evolved considerably over the past few decades, and they continue to do so. But the fact remains that countless artifacts were legally acquired by collectors (“noble ladies” included) as well as public museums since the beginning of time. Isn’t it their right to display, use and sell their property as they see fit?
Let’s consider some difficult questions raised by recent news:
The taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction. Photo: Wikipedia.
1. Can a government or private entity decide to demolish old structures? This happens every day in every city around the world. Sometimes historical societies rally to save a site. Sometimes they can’t, as seen in the shocking annihilation of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Was that government right? Were those people right? And who are you to judge? Do you live there?
In Sarasota Florida some local groups rallied to have this mural erased from a shop.
2. Can a government or private entity destroy something offensive or blasphemous to their values or religion? How far does freedom of expression go? This Yale article discusses the destruction of Buddha images in the Maldives. But it also mentions things like Henry VIII’s systematic destruction of all the monasteries in England, Wales and Ireland. Near my home in Sarasota Florida a debate has run for months about erasing a mural that may promote gangs. Acts of artistic control and destruction happen all the time.
Sunken treasure found by Odyssey Marine 1700 feet deep in the Atlantic Ociean.
3. Can a private group use its own funds to recover or preserve historical objects that were clearly abandoned by the original owners hundreds or even thousands of years earlier? In other words, does everything actually belong to some hypothetical “rightful owner”? And who owned these things before them? Odyssey Marine Exploration in Tampa Florida just got a harsh lesson in how arbitrarily this question can be answered. Odyssey spent years working to locate and salvage a ship in international waters off the coast of Portugal. It lay, unknown and untouched for two centuries in 1700 feet of water. US courts just ruled against Odyssey and returned all the artifacts to Spain.
Ironically, that silver and gold was mined in Peru by peasants working under slave-like conditions. Peru, of course, came under Spanish control in the 16th century when conquistadors brutally subjugated the Inca civilization in their quest for territory, power and treasure. But to the US courts, 200 years of ownership was enough to confiscate assets for an “original” owner…but not 400 years. Peru’s claim to the artifacts was ignored.
On the other side of the gold coin, salvage operations generally destroy much of the archaeological evidence that exists on a wreck site. I took an archaeological research diver workshop at a Florida galleon site, and I’ve also had the privilege of discussing this topic with the father of underwater archaeology, George Bass. I am quite opposed to the wholesale destruction of history to recover precious metals on land or at sea.
But in this case, Odyssey Marine consistently gathers a lot of archaeological data from their sites. And is it reasonable to ask when and how carefully archaeologists would be excavating this particular site more than half a kilometer deep? It seems we can all learn much from Odyssey’s digital photos, detailed site maps and the thousands of objects recovered. More than we would have known if the site was never found. Now the responsibility falls to Spain to educate and inspire us with their recovered objects. The world watches.
The “Angel of Beng Mealea” - March 5, 2006 and February 12, 2007.
4. Do poor people have the right to take abandoned objects from public places just to survive? I wrote about my own painful experience with this at Beng Mealea in this article “Death of an Angel.”
There are countless examples. There will be countless more. Each situation is different. Right and wrong are not always clear. And certainly never appear the same to opposing parties in a disagreement.
Back in 2008 I bought a used car legally. But what if the original owner (or the factory, or the country where it was built) tried to reclaim it because “I parked it too long” or “I wasn’t taking care of it” or “they want to study it” or “it belongs in the original place”? I can’t say I’d be too happy.
But there are solutions to these issues…as there are to most human conflicts: communication, empathy and diplomacy. Fortunately, a combination of these factors may lead to a resolution to the quandary of the Sotheby’s statue sale.
Collectors Who Share
Cultural sensitivity about who historical objects should belong to is a fairly new concept. As noted above people have the right to own private property. This has been going on for a long time. Humans are an acquisitive species by nature.
It’s worth noting that some of the most successful “acquirers” (Rockefeller, Carnegie, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates come to mind) have also proven themselves as some of our most generous givers. And some art collectors have proven themselves in this way, too. After a lifetime of actively hunting, obsessively gathering and painstakingly preserving the rare objects they crave…many end up donating their collections to public institutions.
In the world of Khmer art, Douglas Latchford, co-author of “Adoration and Glory” with art historian Emmy Bunker, is one example. He began collecting Khmer artifacts 56 years ago (1956). Over the years he and his friends have shared financial gifts with the National Museum of Cambodia. More significantly, he is the museum’s biggest contributor of artifacts (read more about Douglas Latchford on KI-Media).
Now another collector may assist with a solution to the thorny situation of the Koh Ker statue at Sotheby’s.
Dr. István Zelnik, founder of the Gold Museum in Budapest, Hungary.
During the 1970s, Dr. István Zelnik served as a Hungarian diplomat in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Like many passionate collectors he invested his money in rare books, antiques and works of art. Motivated by a love of art and curiosity about the objects he found, he became an increasingly sought after consulting expert for museums and archaeologists around the world. In 2011 his dreams culminated with his greatest achievement: founding the Zelnik István Southeast Asian Gold Museum in Budapest Hungary.
In a statement to the New York Times Dr. Zelnik expressed the possibility that he may purchase the statue for donation to the people of Cambodia. A generous, diplomatic and expedient solution in our complex world. The owner would be compensated for her private property, huge amounts of time and money would not be wasted on legal litigation, and the people who respect and admire the art of the Khmer people could once again see this expression of creativity in the land where it was born.
I wish him success and encourage him along with Mr. Latchford and other collectors to continue sharing the objects of their passion with the world.
The two mythic Cambodian warriors as they one faced each other at Koh Ker. Below, Simon Warrack asks if they can one day be reunited?
Could Two Ancient Brothers Meet Again?
To conclude this article I contacted Simon Warrack to ask his current ideas about the ownership of historic art. Here’s what he had to say:
“The concept of “ownership” may be the wrong place to start when considering important objects. It is the value and significance of an object that should be thought of first, rather than who it belongs to.
”The questions should really be about the object itself, not who it belongs to. Where is the object best valued? Where is it best appreciated? Where is it best understood? Where is it best conserved?
“Who an object belongs to should be secondary. As one of my colleagues observed ‘Objects are not important because they are in museums. They are in museums because they are important.’ The object itself is the important factor, not the museum that possesses it.
“After finding the empty pedestals seven years ago actually seeing both Koh Ker statues is remarkable. The possibility now exists that, one day, they may be reunited.
“Today, I called HE Hab Touch to ask his opinion on this matter. He is optimistic but noted that at this early stage no decisions or agreements are in place. However, Cambodia is ready and there are at least two suitable, secure locations where the pieces could be located for public appreciation. In the National Museum, of course, but plans are also being made for a museum at Preah Vihear, the same province where Koh Ker is located. There, the museum will become a gateway to the World Heritage Site and these figures could, once again, provide a wonderful center piece to welcome visitors from around the world.”
Simon closed by mentioning a concept from the book, Who Owns Antiquity by James Cuno. Cuno observes that national museums in wealthy nations host “encyclopedic” collections of objects from around the world, while national museums in less wealthy countries host indigenous local art relating to their own history.
He suggests that the global exchange of art would be a good direction to head in. Just as it is good for a child in Pasadena to experience the art of Cambodia, wouldn’t it also be wonderful for a child of Cambodia to see pieces of American history? Or the creations of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Mexico, etc.?
With communication, empathy and diplomacy we can all grow and learn.
Jewelry. Humans have been adorning themselves with it for thousands of years. In fact, jewelry is one of the oldest types of archaeological artifacts, with 100,000-year-old beads made from Nassarius shells thought to be the oldest known jewelry. But the first signs of established jewelry making didn’t happen until around 3,000-5,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt.
Since then, much has changed, yet much has stayed the same.
Mislim da sam u najuzem krugu ljudi koji joj se gade...
Jos kad bi znala kako izgledam verovatno bih zauzeo prvo mesto...
Mozda je to i dobro...jer tako ce odrzavati liniju...svaki put kad se ugoji, a gladna, pomisli na mene i povrati...
Lekarze we Wrocławiu notują coraz więcej zachorowań na ospę wietrzną wśród dzieci. Chorują głównie maluchy ze żłobków i przedszkoli. Lekarze uspokajają, że nie ma epidemii, ale zachorowań jest jednak naprawdę sporo. Sprzyja im wiosenna aura.
W Ministerstwie Zdrowia trwają ostatnie prace nad rozporządzeniem dotyczące m.in. osób uprawnionych do wykonywania szczepień. Informacja o powstającym dokumencie wywołała spore zamieszanie wśród personelu medycznego. Resort jednak uspokaja, że takie przepisy to formalność, która nie czyni rewolucji w tych świadczeniach.
Poznańscy radni, wzorem samorządowców z Częstochowy, planują wprowadzenie obowiązku szczepień dla dzieci przyjmowanych do miejskich żłobków i przedszkoli. Chcą jednak upewnić się, czy będzie to zgodne z prawem.
Radna Beata Dunajewska skierowała zapytanie do prezydenta miasta Gdańska w sprawie zaostrzenia wymagań przy rekrutacji do żłobków i przedszkoli. Domaga się wprowadzenia od 2016 r. wymogu zaświadczenia o szczepieniu dziecka.
Do tej pory za uchylanie się od obowiązku szczepień groziła grzywna. Karę taką nakładali inspektorzy sanitarni. Naczelny Sąd Administracyjny zdecydował jednak, że takie uprawnienia ma nie inspekcja sanitarna, a wojewodowie. Ci ostatni wydają się jednak zaskoczeni takim obrotem sprawy.
Well, it has been the longest time without blogging. Yes, I feel terrible. They say you should blog every day or at least every second day. I feel that such blogging would diminish the quality of my blog posts - though I don't see this one winning any awards.
The life of a tour guide is a very varied and irregular one. Why did I choose it? I like my routines. No, I love my routines; the very few routines that I actually maintain. I have reminders set so that I do my 'daily' to-dos: 'recite poem', 'quotes of the day', 'work, work, work!'.
Truth is, this year has been really good. I mean this work year. I've been relatively busy (is the blog paying off?). I consider myself lucky, even though I did put the work and preparation in. Hey, Napolean used to emphasise the importance of 'mastering luck' in order to achieve his aims. My sister is the lucky one. I stay away from gambling as much as I can, despite my recent success at the dogs at Shelbourne Park. Beginner's luck.
I do, though, find the topic of luck fascinating. So much so that I decided to my philosophy undergraduate thesis on it. Unluckily, (ironically) the topic of 'moral luck' was suggested, and thus the implication that my supervisor would be that most incomprehensible and therefore ridiculously inept professor/teacher/child minder/night light I have ever experienced.
But, hey, if I didn't lose the silicon head of one of my earphones, I wouldn’t be angered enough to feel the need to have a beer at The Gypsy Rose whilst waiting for my bus home. And this blog post would not have existed.
No, not marriage. I mean that everything was quite hectic there for a while. Having returned from living in France, I took to house-hunting in Dublin on the following day, found a place by the fifth day, moved in on the sixth, and had my first tour of the season on the seventh! I hadn’t seen my family since January, so after that tour, I got the bus home. More hecticness – packing the rest of my stuff to bring down before my next tour!
Just in case you’re thinking I’ve been having a bad time so far, I’ll tell you I’m happy to back in Dublin, scumbags and all. Colour, chat, variety, mischief – traits that Grenoble blatantly lacked, and some say Dublin has too much of! Tea. Cadbury’s chocolate. Excellent beef. Guinness. They’re all still here! Thank God!
But changes are inevitable, as my good university buddy Heraclitus was always saying. New shops, restaurants, transport ‘improvements’ (which have exacerbated services), buskers on Grafton St., ways to see Dublin, Starbucks (sigh) on the original site of the Bewley’s Café, and, most importantly, new beers!
Tom Crean, the Irish Giant, is known to Irish people as the fella from Kerry who had quite a walk in Antarctica. Those guys who fabricate those fantastic Guinness TV ads succeeded in recalling his achievements to Irish minds about ten years ago.
Funnily, his connection with Irish beer has now become real.
The ‘Dingle Brewing Company’ has created a beer in honour of the great man. Simply named ‘Tom Crean’s’, the smooth lager is something I’d choose over the boring, predictable common lagers you find everywhere, and I'm not just talking about this country. I think I’ve seen it in three Dublin pubs so far. For a huge, and frequently updated, selection of beers on tap, O’Neill’s on Suffolk never lets me down. Well, except for their removal of Curim on tap. L
‘Eight Degrees Brewing’ has been in half of the pubs I’ve been in since I’m back. Granted, I mainly go into pubs in search of new wonderful inebriating beverages, so that fact is not as startling as would first appear. I‘ve only tried the ‘Sunburnt Irish Red’ (on draught in O’Neill’s on Suffolk St.), but I was mightily impressed – probably my favourite red ale now. It’s rich in flavour and body, two things which 8 degrees obviously knew were desperately lacking from the common Irish red ales.
(I’m still suffering withdrawal symptoms from having worked four months in Belgian beer pub. It’s not all bad; there are places to get Belgian beer here in Dublin, but this post is already too long.)
Besides the oh-so-often confusion that Irish people speak English and, therefore, must be, for all intents and purposes, English, French people are sometimes surprising ignorant of Ireland. I’m not saying that Ireland is an equally important country, in economic terms, as France for the French, but, hey, it’s a country, with a capital, and a distinct heritage that should be universally acknowledged. That’s all I ask.
[If you’re an economist, or economically-minded, this will either help you with geography or completely confuse you! Either way, it’s interesting]
I mentioned this to a customer in my pub (there I go again saying ‘my’). He didn’t know the capital of the Republic of Ireland. Quite offensive, you must agree, if someone doesn’t know something very important about your country. The capital city, after the name of the country and where it is located, is pretty important. Turns out he didn’t know many European capitals - I was no longer offended.
The smaller the country, the more its people concern themselves with other countries and the rest of the world. The bigger the country, the less they have to. I think we are all familiar with the great Australian clip where the stunning worldly ignorance of many US citizens is proven – and then, to counter this attack, in hilariously ironic, yet stereotypical fashion, some US citizens travel to Britain to show the English (whoops, not the Australians!) how ignorant they can be.
The strength that is self-sufficiency has a weakness in self-dependency.
France isn’t regarded as world-renowned beer-producing country. So, let’s just say I’m glad the pub I work in helps the French learn more about Belgium!
120 years old. That's the age St Kevin reached before God called him to heaven. Sounds familiar, right? A holy man who devotes his life to God and just happens to live an extraordinarily long life. Too familiar? Cliché even? Unbelievable, right? “I mean how could someone live so long, especially back in those days?”
St. Kevin lived an isolated life as much as he possibly could in the valley of Glendalough. An ascetic, he maintained a lifestyle of minimal sustenance: his shelter was a stone-framed beehive cell, he wore a single layer of clothing and ate only what he could find - berries, roots and fish. When I first learned of these details, I wondered, as have many since his time, 'how could he live on so little?' especially under Ireland’s climate!
On Tuesday, I fasted. I'm not talking about your 'only fish on Friday' fast, I mean no food for at least 24hrs. Why? Explore this website to learn the reasons behind and the benefits of fasting. I did this not solely for religious reasons but for physical and psychological reasons as well. I didn’t view it as a chore or as ‘work’. I was actually really excited about the idea and looking forward to the fast.
If nothing else, it was a challenge and made Lent a little different this time around. I had had the conviction to abstain from all chocolate during the Lenten season. Not very creative or original, but a respectable vow nonetheless given my preference for the smooth delicacy. Deciding to fast every Tuesday of Lent (from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday) only materialised after extensive reading on the risks, benefits, concerns, preparations and how to break a fast.
I really enjoyed fasting – no, I didn’t actually spend it twisting in agony from hunger pangs! It’s an enlightening experience. And that goes for simply reading about fasting too. Intrigued? Here’s some quotes from notable figures throughout history.
After my 24hrs were up, I thought that I might as well go a bit longer for added benefits. I ended up fasting for over 38hrs.
I don't think I could manage to do it every week until I'm 120, though!
Well, I’m heading out of the country again. If I said that twenty years ago, you would have the impression that I was a successful businessman with a mythical travelling lifestyle. Nowadays, it can cost as much to go to Warsaw from Dublin as it does to Limerick.
I’m not going for a short break, or a holiday, or even a wedding. I will be embracing one of the oldest and strongest Irish traditions. After rebelling, the favourite activity of the Irish is leaving the country. And that’s usually the chronological order it takes as well. I’m going to France. But don’t worry, it’s just for the winter season.
Oh, the histories I could tell you of Irishmen going to Gaul/France. I could start with John Scotus Erigena, a great 9th century Irish philosopher whose career culminated with service at the court of the French King. He is regarded as Europe’s greatest philosopher of the early Middle Ages. And then you’ve got Irish mercenaries sighted in France in the 14th century. But Irish holidays to France really took over in the 18th century.
In the 18th century, the number of Irish soldiers leaving for France reached its peak. They didn’t just go over there because of this mysterious season called ‘summer’, no. For the previous two centuries, at least, there was a great link between France and Ireland. It began as a religious link, with Irish students studying in France (before the Celtic Tiger in Ireland, generally if you were studying at university level, it meant you were studying for the priesthood!), but then blossomed into a military link with numerous brigades of the French armies composed of men of Irish descent. In some cases, an Irishman would join the very same brigade of the French army as his grandfather.
The reason France is not speaking a Gaelic tongue now –the reason for the decline of the strong Irish-French connection – is because the British army lifted its ban on recruiting Irishmen. And they lifted it well! By the end of the 19th century, there were, apparently, more Irish commanding officers serving in the British Empire than there were Welsh, Scottish or even English commanding officers!
And the axiom is still holds true today – Irish people become more successful abroad than in their own country.
So, come on Grenoble, give me a commanding position!
On this day, June 4th, in 1798, Lord Edward Fitzgerald died in Newgate Jail, Dublin.
He was born at Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare (a place I know well!), on 15th October 1763, of the first Duke of Leinster. In the 1790s, he visited France, adopted revolutionary ideas and renounced his title. In 1976 he joined the United Irishmen and his home, Leinster Lodge, in Kildare town became a meeting place for the members.
With his military training (having served in Ireland and north America), he was well-suited to his position as military commander of the United Irishmen. Politically, he was influenced by French revolutionary ideas and endorsed thinkers like Paine and Rousseau – believing in liberty, equality and fraternity and the Rights of Man.
Of course, he’s best remembered as one of the leaders of the 1798 Rebellion, a Rebellion that in many ways failed before it began. The United Irishmen was banned and Fitzgerald went into hiding. Eventually he was found at a house in Thomas Street, Dublin. He, naturally, resisted arrest, resulting in him being wounded in the right shoulder, and in the death of a militia officer. He was brought to Newgate Jail, where he later succumbed to his wounds.
I often find myself reflecting on Irish history with a ‘what if?’ thought. What if the organisation had not been infiltrated? What if Lord Fitzgerald and his comrades had succeeded in achieving their aims? Well, the Act of Union probably wouldn’t have happened. Dublin probably would have continued to amass wealth, and we probably wouldn’t have suffered the Famine, yet perhaps we wouldn’t have had a 1916?
And what if Hugh O’Neill had won the Battle of Kinsale?
You could contemplate so many historical events which, had they had different outcomes, may have resulted in a better present situation. But the trials and tribulations are what define a people. And, as much as I would have preferred Irish independence to come sooner, I’m glad it came at all. And, as much as I am haunted by our tragic past, I know that I, and all Irish people, would not be who I am today without it.
I’m looking forward to the time when St. Werburgh’s Church finally finishes its renovations so that I can visit Lord Edward Fitzgerald’s final resting place. I NEED to pay my respects to a man whose deeds have not been forgotten.
It is, or was, Easter Monday, the anniversary of The Rising. What did I do to celebrate? I don’t know? Did I celebrate subconsciously? Did I mark the day when Irish people stood up and said ‘I did not sit idly by while...’ by sitting idly by?
How do we celebrate such things?
Our ability and our want to celebrate such undeniably celebratory anniversaries are both frustratingly unquantifiable (for reasons I won’t go into right now). We don’t know what we should do. We don’t know whether doing something significant is too much, especially when we notice that most people.... do something insignificant – something having more resemblance to doing nothing than doing something special.
Today, as we were driving through my beautiful, wild county of Donegal, we passed by an obvious procession. A commemoration by a concrete cross. I sensed that it was something significant. Something celebrating the importance of this day, of this date, of history. Something I should stop for, witness, reflect, embrace, respect. Yet, we didn’t. We drove by. We drove by, somewhat convincing our ‘ignorance’ – as I would call it, I suppose – that we shouldn’t stop simply because we did not know what was going on or we didn’t know that such a thing would be going on.
And I thought: of all the sites we saw today; the great views, the harbours, the grassy roads, of all the permanent sites that make the place, what most connects us to this place is what we, as a people, have done here. We didn’t make these views, we didn’t form this inlet, we didn’t grow this grass. But, we erected this cross. Not because of the landscape. We erected this cross in this landscape to celebrate a unique occurrence and not a universal permanence.
We should have stopped. For, if I were to return tomorrow, the grassy road will still be there, as will the cross... but the commemoration has passed. And I had missed it.
American odds – sú kladné alebo záporné. Desatinný kurz (to je ten kurz, ktorý poznáte) 2.00 je hranica v americkom kurze +100. Všetko nad 2.00 je plus a všetko pod 2.00 je mínus. Asian handicap – je handicap, ktorý vznikol v Ázii. Rozdiel medzi klasickým handicapom a ázijským handicapom je ten, že pri remíze sa vám vrátia peniaze, ktoré ste stavili. Bet [...]
Myslím si, že väčšina z tipujúcich vie, že existuje niečo také ako platené servisy. Zjednodušene povedané, dáte niekomu peniaze a on vám dá tipy. Ľudia plateným servisom veľmi nedôverujú a hlavne ľudia z Česka a Slovenska. Nedivím sa im, pretože je veľa podvodníkov. Chcú zarobiť na ľuďoch, nechcú ľuďom pomáhať. No je aj niekoľko naozaj dobrých [...]
Videl som veľakrát ako prichádzajú ľudia s veľkým úsmevom cpať stávkovým kanceláriám peniaze. Jedny podávajú tikety pre adrenalín, druhým sa potom lepšie pozerá ich vsadený zápas a tretí chcú z tohto profitovať. Budem sa venovať tým posledným. Ľudia prichádzajú do stávkových kancelárií vyhrať nejaké peniaze. Samozrejme čím viac, tým lepšie. Vidina [...]
Spanakopita is one of my all-time favorites. As a snack, part of a meal, on the run, it is savory delight that can be made in a variety of ways. I fondly remember spinach pies in Greece to the ones at Damascus Bread and Pastry next to Sahadi's on Atlantic Ave. growing up in Carroll Gardens. My aunt makes it from scratch, the pita is rolled out and then the spinach mixture is folded into the dough and comes out in a long "calzone like" shape. This was the second, and most labor intensive dish we took on that morning. We made them with and without dairy. "Don't be afraid of the flour" was my aunt's mantra while rolling out the dough. As you read the ingredients, understand this was for 5 spinach pie "loaves" and it could have been for another easy.
Dough 4 cups of all purpose flour 1 cup semolina flour 3 tablespoons of olive oil 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar Water, use as needed
Filling 2-3 packages of spinach - quickly softened in some water and drained 2 bunches of chopped scallions 2 chopped leeks 8 stalks of chopped dill 8 stalks of chopped parsley 1 pound of crumbled feta cheese 3 eggs lightly beaten and added to bind the mixture 1 cup of olive oil salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for the dough
Add all ingredients and slowly add water until right consistency
Knead it until ready and let sit covered for thirty minutes
Chop up the scallions and leeks to sweat in a pan, while chopping up the spinach, dill and parsley and set aside.
Three eggs were used once everything came together, including the feta to the mixture of herbs, leeks and scallions.
Scallions and leeks sweating under medium heat with olive oil.
Have you ever gone on Amazon to search an item – say a watch?
If the same happened to you as what happened to me, for the next while, every time I was on their site, Amazon flashed a variety of watches – I mean every – single – time. It’s like they flagged what I was interested in, and then tempted me in every way possible.
This brings back a memory of when my husband and I were on a train in Cusco, waiting at the station, with Machu Picchu as our destination. Along the tracks were vendors all holding up their wares at the passenger’s windows. They were trying to tempt us with anything from t-shits to woven bags, jewellery – a huge variety of items. One of the T-shirts caught my attention and I waved the fellow over. Within seconds, every vendor there had dropped what they had been showing and were now waving T-shirts, trying to get the sale.
Amazon’s selling style reminds me of that time. And the reason they follow this sales method isn’t hard to understand. It’s because it works.
A kutya = állat az én olvasatomban. A tiédben meg valami ugyanolyan lény, mint az ember, nem tudom. Ez addig rendben van (szíved joga), amíg ezzel nem vezetsz félre és zavarsz meg másokat, amint megteszed, akkor válik problémássá az egész. Igen, sztem beteg ez a fajta félrevezetés, túltolás, de azt soha nem mondtam, hogy mindenki beteg, aki ragaszkodik a házi kedvencéhez, és gyászolja az elpusztulását. Állatszeretet ide vagy oda, az állat nekem állat, nem tudok mit tenni, legfeljebb elfogadom, hogy neked meg egy helyen van az emberrel, vagy akár annál is fontosabb. Az ezzel kapcsolatos hazugság és erőszakosság az, ami engem taszít, ami számomra beteg.
Nézd, ez egy véleménykülönbség, h vmi sztem bizarr és fura, szélsőséges esetben beteg, szted meg természetes, de van egy határ, amit az ilyen viták során nem lépünk át, és most, hogy ez megtörtént, nem tudok úgy gondolni az érvelésedre, mint azelőtt (vagyis hogy egy szenvedélyes, ellentétekkel teli, de alapvetően kölcsönös kíváncsiságra, nyitottságra épülő diskurzus része, amiből jó is kijöhet akár). Nem tudom, nem személyeskedünk direkt bántásiból, nem mondunk olyat, hogy a másik öröme - vagy épp traumája - az oka a véleménykülönbségnek, bármennyire is nem értünk egyet. Őszintén: nekem ez eszembe se jutott.
Azt mondani, hogy az én csudálatos "gerleévai" (??????) "level up"-om - a te kifejezésed, én nem tartom annak - ítélkezővé és gonosszá tett, olyan kaliberű abszurdum, amit soha nem hoznál be a diskurzusba, ha tudnád, hogy milyen alázat és mennyi önmunka van abban, hogy egy csomó démonomtól megszabadultam, és olyan, mintha fogalmad nem volna arról, hogy a kiegyensúlyozottság elfogadóbbá tesz, nem ítélkezővé, mintha a boldogság gonoszság forrása volna, ezt én nem is értem. Csak éppen terézanya én sem leszek, mindig is voltak és ezentúl is lesznek olyan dolgok, amikben nem értek mindenkivel egyet, és a szélsőséget gáznak találom. A szélsőséget, ismétlem, amit leírtam, miben látok.
Mivel nem tartasz állatot, nehezen lóghat a farka a párnádra, ha meg ennyire nem találod az állattartást vonzónak az oké, csak akkor minek aludnál valakinél aki meg állatot tart?
Nem mindegy, hogy ki hívott mentőt, mert ez a sztori a gazdáin csattant, akikről a nekik segíteni próbáló szemtanú aki kimentette a kutyát a vízből és újjáéleszteni próbálta azt mondta, hogy nem ők hívták a mentőt. A te posztodban azóta is az van, hogy a gazdája hívott mentőt és milyen gáz ez már, akiről azt is elmondtad, hogy biztos csalódott meg egyedülálló, meg szénné lett pszichologizálva az élete, miközben egy párról van szó. Szerinted ők ha olvassák a posztodat korrektnek fogják ezt gondolni?
A kutya v. gyerek szembeállítás meg nagyon nem szerencsés de a level up fényében értem csak nagyon gáznak tartom, ahogy a többségi véleményre hivatkozás sem.
Nem, igazad van, valóban rogyásig tele vagyunk felszerelt mentőautókkal és képzett mentősökkel, ezresével unatkoznak egész nap, tulajdonképpen Sándor Mária következő tüntetése arról fog szólni, hogy vegyük már be a tb alapú eü-ellátásba a négylábú pácienseket is, mert úgyis sok a szabad kapacitás, hogy egy körzetben egyszerre öt tucat mentőautó és ugyanennyi helikopter is kiküldhető. Na, jó válasz volt? Igyekszem nem okozni csalódást, nem venném a szívemre, ha rosszul aludná az összes állattartó ellen szított migránslincselős hangulat miatt, ami itten terjeng a térben.
The crime, the traffic, the congestion, the noise, and non-stop pace of the big city take its toll on your health. That’s not just anecdotal any longer, researchers are uncovering some not so surprising facts about the negative impact big cities have on peoples’ health.
In the heart of the busy metropolitan jungles, more people suffer from heart attacks, strokes, and anxiety than those who live in more rural areas.
The Big City is a Threat Your Physical Health
All that traffic, high crime, and noise isn’t just going gentle into the night, it’s having a real affect on its residents physical well being. New research shows that people living in a big city have a higher risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Busy commutes tend not only to be stressful, but detrimental as well. Spending hours on a train or hopping from bus to bus means a lot more time spent parked in a seat. That’s not good for the heart or the belly. Studies reveal that many choose to eat while commuting in an effort to save time. The net result is a bigger waistline, which increases blood pressure, decreases circulation, and cause more fatigue.
More weight means a higher risk for hypertension and other physical health risks like high cholesterol. Simply put, less walking and more sitting have an adverse impact.
It’s Also Mental, Studies Show
Aside from the physical health risks, people living in big cities face a 21 percent higher risk of anxiety disorders, a 39 percent increase in mood disorders, thanks to a study conducted on 32 healthy participants which was published in the journal Nature.
Conversely 24 participants from rural communities were included in this brain scan study,a statistical dead-heat in the world of MRI. Those 24 people showed little to no signs of increased risk to their mental health, a finding that wouldn’t at all surprise the average urban dweller.
The hustle and bustle of the big city isn’t healthy, physically or mentally, according to the research.
A solution to these potential problems? Well, one such solution is to either move to a smaller, less stressful area like the Homer Alaska and Anchor Point area. Or, invest in a property to rent and buy a second home to vacation in the peaceful landscape only the
Homer Alaska and Anchor Point area can offer can offer.
For more information about Homer Alaska Real Estate contact Coastal Realty Alaska at
"The lord whose oracle is at Delphi neither speaks nor conceals,
but gives signs."- Heraclitus, on Apollo
From the very beginning I saw this story as one somehow centered on some kind of possession or channeling.And now that seems to be the only explanation for this endless parade of omen and ancient symbolism of the love goddess and her shepherd-boy consort. And it only gets stranger and more impossible. In truth, I suspected Elizabeth Fraser was channeling something entirely different as soon as I heard "Sugar Hiccup" back in 1983. I grew up around professional musicians- my mother was a trained soprano- and I heard a hell of a lot of music. But somehow I knew something seemed to have come here from somewhere else. It wasn't just me- you hear the phrase "otherworldly" used quite a lot to describe her singing. Even then it felt like something was revealing itself, something very big and strange, through this shy, vulnerable, troubled girl (she was only 19 when she sang "Hiccup") with the mile-wide howl and her art-damaged bandmates. I just had no idea how big and strange it truly was. UNDER APHRODITE'S SPELL
Nope, doesn't look possessed at all. No, sir.
Now, Elizabeth Fraser loved Jeff Buckley. I mean she really loved him. I mean she really, really, really loved him. This isn't conjecture on my part. She talked about it in interviews, saying her love for him was an "addiction" and that she was "maniacal." She sang that she was a "junkie" for him. Twice. Five years after his death she appeared in the "widow role" on a BBC documentary on Buckley and it was painfully clear that that love still burned inside her.
This is the kind of love that poets used to write epics about. The kind of love that Innana had for Dumuzi, that Selene had for Endymion, that Isis had for Osiris. The kind of love city-states used to go to war over. She sang about this love. A lot. She wrote an entire EP about it, made a heart-wrenching (and startlingly-prophetic) longform music video about it, dedicated an entire album to it, and eventually wrote the best-known song of her career about it, a song which tens of millions of people have heard. And again, she recorded that song the day Buckley died.
So bear all this in mind as we take a deeper look into the prophetic foreshadowing in the Cocteau Twins' music and this increasingly impossible avalanche of omen and symbol, all leading to what very much looks like a real-time god-LARP of the one of the oldest stories known to history- one that's been retold many different times in many different places- the love of the Love Goddess for a doomed shepherd-boy. It's a story upon which the world's first great empire rose and fell.
And of course Apollo is both the god of song and music and the god of prophecy.
He was also known as Apollo Lyceus, or "Apollo the Wolf God." One of the grand old theaters in Memphis was named in honor of Apollo Lyceus, The Lyceum.
Apollo's powers of prophecy came from a very interesting source, one that will play an important role in the story about to unfold here.
The Homeric Hymn to Apollo acknowledges that Apollo's gift of prophecy first came to him from three bee maidens, usually but doubtfully identified with the Thriae, a trinity of pre-Hellenic Aegean bee goddesses.
Apollo imparted his prophecies to the rest of us through channeling and his oracles were variously known as the Sibyls or the Pythia ("Pythoness"). The latter of whom, before some asshole had to get all rapey, were originally teenaged girls (like Fraser was when she first recorded Garlands):
The Pythia (or Oracle of Delphi) was the priestess who held court at Pytho, the sanctuary of the Delphinians, a sanctuary dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Pythia were highly-regarded, for it was believed that she channeled prophecies from Apollo himself, while steeped in a dreamlike trance.
A Roman historian described how this channeling came about:
At last Apollo mastered the breast of the Delphian priestess ; as fully as ever in the past, he forced his way into her body, driving out her former thoughts, and bidding her human nature to come forth and leave her heart at his disposal.
(F)irst the wild frenzy overflowed through her foaming lips ; she groaned and uttered loud inarticulate cries with panting breath ; next, a dismal wailing filled the vast cave ; and at last, when she was mastered, came the sound of articulate speech... ” - Lukan- The Civil Wars
"Elizabeth, we'd like to speak with Apollo now..."
Now, again- see if all of that there- "loud, inarticulate cries with panting breath" and all the rest of it- doesn't sound a bit like this.
Perhaps more than anyone else, Elvis is nearly synonymous with Las Vegas. He first played there in 1956 (a month before appearing at the Carnival Memphis) and later began a long residency in the Dog Days of 1969 at the Las Vegas International which would eventually see him give over 700 performances there. There was even an Elvis Presley Museum in Vegas. There are still Elvis Wedding Chapels there.
And just as there is one overlooking the exact spot where Jeff Buckley ascended to Heaven, there is also an Elvis statue in Las Vegas.
It was quite noticeable that he was borne along by a divine inspiration when he spoke, when from this so wise a mouth flowed in waves the words, which flew like flakes of snow. Then it seemed that his eyes filled with a shining splendor, and all over his face spread rays of a divine illumination. - Marsinus on Proclus, author of On the Signs of Divine Possession
And then there is the question of glossolalia, for which Fraser was world-famous:
Fraser's distinctive singing has earned her much critical praise; she was once described as "the voice of God." Her lyrics range from straightforward English to semi-comprehensible sentences (glossolalia) and abstract mouth music. For some recordings, Fraser has said that she used foreign words without knowing what they meant – the words acquired meaning for her only as she sang them.
So by assembling lyrics out of words in foreign languages she didn't understand, Fraser was literally "speaking in tongues." And it's in this and her use of glossolalia that Fraser was once again acting in the exact same manner as the ancient oracles:
Neoplatonist philosopher Iamblichus linked glossolalia to prophecy, writing that prophecy was divine spirit possession that "emits words which are not understood by those that utter them; for they pronounce them, as it is said, with an insane mouth and are wholly subservient, and entirely yield themselves to the energy of the predominating God."
And again, Fraser herself told the New Musical Express in 1984 that she felt as if she were channeling some other entity and that her songs seemed to write themselves. Mind you, this is not a woman who was given to hyperbole or self-aggrandizement.
The Sibyl with raving mouth utters solemn, unadorned, unlovely words, but she reaches out over a thousand years with her voice by force of the god within her. - Heraclitus
The breath of God in my mouth
A love you can taste, God, get some paste
He and I, breath to breath -"Seekers who are Lovers"
This is really a work-in-progress here so forgive me as I go over a lot of the material.
But please be aware we're getting grade-A hits here. This isn't some kind of "well, if A=B, then 5=ham sandwich" kind of leaping and stretching. There's no tortured Gematria wrangling or King Kill horseshoe tossing.
It's all so right on the nose- past the point of overkill- that it's actually terrifying to me.
UPDATE: Like this- the flower on the cover of Lullabies is the Calla Lily,a poisonous flower also called "The Green Goddess." (H/T Persephone J)
Calla lilies have become a common favorite in wedding ceremonies, but in contrast, lilies are also associated with death. They were often used on the graves of youths who suffered an untimely death.
When Venus, goddess of love, beauty, and desire, saw the lilies she was jealous of their beauty. She cursed their beauty by placing a large yellow pistil in the middle of the flowers. Because of this story, some associate the calla lily with Venus and thus with lust and sexuality.
Lullabies is the EP the Cocteau Twins put out in 1982 after Garlands (again, Jeff Buckley died on Garlands Day, when sacrifices used to made to ocean gods). We looked at it before but we really need to look at it again.
And guess what? That's exactly what Apollo imparted onto his oracles. Exactly like someone or something seems to imparted onto the young Elizabeth Fraser.
And as some have noted- including Federico Garcia Lorca- lullabies have often been associated with death.
Now we get to the truly frightening part of the program.
"The Pythia resembles a shamaness at least to the extent that she communicates with her [deity] while in a state of trance, and conveys as much to those present by uttering unintelligible words." Martin Litchfield West, The Orphic Poems
And that's the incredibly-witchy 'Alas Dies Laughing'. What I wrote previously:
After two attempts at conventional choruses, the song breaks down into a bridge that has (a pre-transformation) Fraser moaning like the Pythia as the fumes rise. After the breakdown, she dispenses with the niceties and lapses into a repetitive chant about exactly how Alas died laughing:
Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one (Note: I've listened to this song many times now and am convinced she's singing "Wake takes a lonely one" only she's Liz'ing the hell out of the syllables. It makes more sense with the rest of the lyrics- bone, stone, on)
I really should have taken a closer look at the verses though, because they are absolutely mind-boggling.I had to listen to this song about a hundred times to get the lyrics right but it was worth it. And note that like the Pythia, Fraser sounds like she's a trancelike state for the entire EP, even though she belted these songs out live like a trouper. It's actually unnerving. Especially on these lyrics:
Flaxen, the dress is bone
Crush a crushing stone
As I write this it's twenty years ago to the day that Jeff Buckley's body was fished out of the Mississippi River, where he drowned after being caught in the wake of a passing tug while swimming off Mud Island on May 29th. I had a feeling that something might happen in conjunction with this anniversary.
I just had no idea how momentous it would be.
Chris Cornell, who died around midnight May 18th, was very close to Buckley. So much so that he became a de facto curator of Buckley's legacy, acting as his spokesman as well as overseeing and promoting some of Buckley's various posthumous reissues.
It's entirely possible that the upcoming anniversary was weighing heavily on Cornell's mind and could very well have contributed to the depression that led to his death. Cornell had a combination of drugs (including lorezepam, barbiturates and naloxone) in his system leading some to believe his death was accidental. But it's just as likely he was anesthetizing himself in anticipation of his final act.
Of course, Buckley wasn't the first singer to die with whom Cornell shared a close bond. Late in 2016 Cornell toured with Temple of the Dog, the supergroup he formed to pay tribute to Andrew Wood, with whom Cornell had a formed a close and intense bond. That Wood's death still haunted Cornell was made clear in an interview given while touring with TOTD:
“With all that’s been written about Temple of the Dog recently, it’s reminded me of the original meanings of those songs. Say Hello 2 Heaven, for example, was one of the songs I wrote directly for Andy Wood and the amount of times someone has requested I play that song for someone else who’s died have been numerous.
That’s great that it’s become this anthem that makes somebody feel some comfort when they’ve lost someone, but recently I’ve become a little more possessive of the idea that this song was actually written for a specific guy and I haven’t forgotten that person. So I’ve been reminding myself and those in the audience where that song came from.”
“I don’t know if you can ever take him out of [my heart and soul].”
Seven years later he'd lose Buckley, who became his confidant while the two wrestled with the pressures of fame. Buckley idolized Cornell and the two spent a lot of time talking on the phone while on tour. These talks were so important to Cornell that he'd take Buckley's old telephone onstage with him during his solo tours.
In 2011 Cornell started turning up on stage to do solo shows with his red phone on a stool next to him. People would shout out what’s the phone for, one day he came clear and said Jeff’s mum gave it to him, Jeff owned that phone and he put it on stage hoping Jeff might call one night.”
Buckley had a lot in common with Andrew Wood- more than a bit androgynous, prolific, eclectic, magnetic. Buckley would heavily influence Cornell's solo career, and the former Soundgarden singer even adopted a weird adaptation of Buckley's hairstyle while promoting his first album Euphoria Morning, which featured a tribute to Buckley that saw Cornell channeling his late friend.
SEA, SWALLOW ME Some have speculated if Buckley's own death was suicide but he often liked to swim in the Wolf River on hot days. He was swimming there with a friend while waiting for his band members to arrive at the Memphis airport. Apparently this kind of behavior was typical for Buckley. A friend said:
“The guy just made a big mistake — put some Led Zep on I’m going to go for a swim, I’ve got my Doc Martens on, what a great idea. He’d actually gone swimming on the Gold Coast with his girlfriend Joan (Wasser) the year before he died. His tour manager John Pope said to me everyone talks about him dying in the river in Memphis but we had to go and pluck him out of the surf. It’s not suicidal, it’s recklessness. That’s how he lived his live from what I could tell. He might have slowed down in his 30s if he made it.”
All too often, those tranquil waters proved dangerous, however. More than one child drowned in the swiftly flowing stream, and in the 1950s, when yet another child — a young boy named Ronnie Jones — died there, city leaders decided enough was enough. Funds were raised to build a public swimming pool in Gaisman Park, so the children in North Memphis could have a safer place to play.
There's something else at play, some poetic -or mythic- ending, beneath the exoteric narrative. Something floating around the Symbolic Realm. I can just see it in Euripides and Aeschylus.
It goes like this: A beautiful and talented young troubadour gets drunk on his own charisma and thoughtlessly toys with a delicate soul who is playing host to something that crossed over from the Other Side. Two thousand years ago, the omens and portents would have been recognized by everyone, from old women to schoolchildren.
They would have warned him- don't break the Siren's heart.
SHE WILL DESTROY YOU
Indeed, Buckley's fatal error was to toy with the tender heart of Elizabeth Fraser, who had a hit with a cover of Buckley's father's "Song to the Siren." Buckley idolized Fraser and pursued her while she was on tour for the Cocteau Twins' album Four Calendar Cafe. The two enjoyed a brief but powerful affair, which also came when Fraser was at her most emotionally fragile and least able to manage the strange force possessing her. But Buckley, young rock god, wasn't interested in anything serious:
Buckley had a reputation as a lover man, DNA from his body was kept in case of future paternity cases.
“He liked the ladies, the ladies liked him. When people’s stars begin to rise there’s a lot of people attracted to them, like moths to a flame, Jeff was like that. At one of his memorial services all these crying women going ‘Oh, you too?’ He had relationships with a lot of ladies over a short period of time. Not just sexual, but close personal friendships. Some didn’t know each other. He squeezed a lot into 30 years and specifically into the last five or six years of his life. Once he got to New York for the tribute to his father, which is where his career started, it was non stop until the time of his death.”
Buckley might have been racking up conquests but Fraser had other ideas. She wrote a number of raw-wound songs about him and even produced a painfully-imploring shortform video addressed to him called Rilkean Dreams shortly after their split. It would carry a chilling foreshadowing:
A short film called Rilkean Dreams (Fraser compared Buckley to the poet Rilke) was made in 1994 as a promo for the EP, named after the heart-rending "Rilkean Heart." It's hardly a promo as much as it is a nakedly confessional video love-letter to Buckley, with Fraser explicitly apologizing in song for being too needy and clingy here and then accusing Buckley of being selfish and immature there. But it's the symbolism that gets you.
If ever there was an argument for teaching the art of divining omens and portents in school, that's pretty much it.
Fraser would receive news of Buckley's death at a pivotal time:
The news that Buckley had disappeared – he drowned, swimming in the Wolf river in Memphis – came while Fraser was recording Teardrop with Massive Attack. "That was so weird," she says. "I'd got letters out and I was thinking about him. That song's kind of about him – that's how it feels to me anyway."
The death devastated Fraser and the Cocteau Twins split not long after, seemingly exorcising Fraser and sending her into a semi-retirement ever since. In a bizarre twist, her first solo record would be called 'Underwater.' And then there's this:
It seems she (Fraser) is haunted by guilt: for not being there for Buckley, for everything. As she puts it: "I need to forgive myself."
The lyrics to Garlands speak to a more-than-casual familiarity with witchcraft on someone's part, presumably Fraser's. In that context, it should be noted that the singer underwent a rather stunning metamorphosis from 1982 to 1983.
Her appearance, her wardrobe, her voice, her lyrical style, and her comportment all underwent a radical change. Gone were the punk togs; the provocative leather minis, fishnet stockings and high-heeled boots and in their place were billowy, neo-Victorian frocks (Fraser always wore long sleeves to hide her tattoos). Her lyrics began evolving towards the near-total glossolalia of Treasure, though the lyrics on Head Over Heels still retain the violence and menace of Garlands.
Even allowing for the effect of makeup, her face (most noticably, her irises) seemed to change- she looked like an entirely new person. You can see it in the live videos as well, where lighting and makeup have less power to disguise (or did back then).
The Indian demi-god, Sleeping Bear, had a daughter so beautiful that he kept her out of the sight of men in a covered boat that swung on Detroit River, tied to a tree on shore; but the Winds, having seen her when her father had visited her with food, contended so fiercely to possess her that the little cable was snapped and the boat danced on to the keeper of the water-gates, who lived at the outlet of Lake Huron.
The keeper, filled with admiration for the girl's beauty, claimed the boat and its charming freight, but he had barely received her into his lodge when the angry Winds fell upon him, buffeting him so sorely that he died, and was buried on Peach Island (properly Isle au Peche), where his spirit remained for generations—an oracle sought by Indians before emprise in war.
His voice had the sound of wind among the reeds, and its meanings could not be told except by those who had prepared themselves by fasting and meditation to receive them. Before planning his campaign against the English, Pontiac fasted here for seven days to "clear his ear" and hear the wisdom of the sighing voice.
But the Winds were not satisfied with the slaying of the keeper. They tore away his meadows and swept them out as islands. They smashed the damsel's boat and the little bark became Belle Isle. Here Manitou placed the girl, and set a girdle of vicious snakes around the shore to guard her and to put a stop to further contests. These islands in the straits seem to have been favorite places of exile and theatres of transformation.
Myths and Legends of our Own Land, by Charles M. Skinner (1896)
So we have a variation on the Siren/Lorelei myth here, right near the Fox Theater. Jesus. What are the odds? • We have a victim known for his powerful voice. Right near the Fox Theater. • We have glossolalia as we have with Elizabeth Fraser. • We also have a "girdle of vicious snakes." On the last Cocteau Twins album Fraser sings of a "Serpentskirt." Fraser posed naked for the cover of that album, which featured a number of songs written about Jeff Buckley (Fraser was clearly still smitten, as this performance indicates) , dedicating "Love and a Thousandfold Rose" to him. Buckley answered her with the song "Thousandfold", written in Memphis. It included the line "Long time ago I'd died and gone." • Like Mud Island, Belle Isle is located in a river off a major city. • 'Road, River and Rail' not only mentions the bayous but also namedrops the Isle de la Cite in Paris. Both Memphis and Detroit trace their establishment to French colonists.
• And Jesus, I don't even know how to say it- OK, try this: CHRIS CORNELL RECORDED A SONG CALLED 'THE KEEPER'. In it he sings, "I am the keeper." Are you getting all this now?
Strangely, Chris Cornell is credited as the author on several different lyric sites of 'Siren Song', written by Cocteau superfan Robert Smith. The lyrics are clearly inspired by Tim Buckley's 'Song to the Siren' and reference "crystal eyes." It also includes the couplet "She sang "Give me your life or I must fly away/And you will never hear this song again." What's likely is that Cornell covered the song during a concert (Temple of the Dog covered the Cure's 'Fascination Street') and it was mistakenly credited to him by fans. The synchronicity of it all (not to mention "Let Me Drown") and how it seemed to ensnare him is par for the course in the apparently still-unfolding drama of the Siren. UPDATE:Now this is going from insane to downright arcane. We saw the juxtaposition of 'Wolf in the Breast' and 'Road, River and Rail' acting as a prophecy of Jeff Buckley's death on the Wolf River. A body of water which- again- terminates at a place called Frayser. We saw the deeply disturbing premonitions- the river and underwater footage running throughout Fraser's heartbroken petitions to Buckley- in Rilkean Dreams. And of course the title itself could be interpreted as a reference to the water of the Wolf River in the lungs. But there's a little detail I overlooked- the lyrics to 'Wolf in the Breast', at least some of which are in English. Now you have to be careful with the lyrics posted on the Internet- they're nearly all guesswork by fans and don't bear any relation to what Fraser actually wrote. That being said, a phrase recognizably repeated throughout is "I'll revenge all I need that day." Mind you, this is a song that seems mostly concerned with taking care of a baby. Now of course, Fraser herself was never consciously aware of this. She hadn't even met Jeff Buckley at this time. But by her own admission she wasn't always in control of the songwriting process, that the songs often wrote themselves. Who may have assisted in this process then? I guess we'll never know. But given the Celtic extraction of the main players in the drama it's worth looking into the myth of the Leanán Sidhe:
In Celtic folklore, the leannán sí "Fairy-Lover" (Scottish Gaelic: leannan sìth, Manx: lhiannan shee; [lʲan̴̪-an ˈʃiː]) is a beautiful woman of the Aos Sí ("people of the barrows") who takes a human lover. Lovers of the leannán sídhe are said to live brief, though highly inspired, lives.
The leannán sídhe is generally depicted as a beautiful muse who offers inspiration to an artist in exchange for their love and devotion; however, this frequently results in madness for the artist, as well as premature death.
Like the Siren, the Leanán Sidhe is said to live at the bottom of the ocean. UPDATE: It should also be kept in mind that Fraser was recording "Teardrop" with Massive Attack when Buckley died, a song she wrote about their breakup. The lyrics include lines about "black flowers blossom," a common symbol for death.
UPDATE: A Jesus Christ Pose in Detroit? Soundboard recording of Wolf in the Breastfrom 1990. Uploaded in 2015. UPDATE: Our Gordon reminds us that Memphis- Egypt- literally had a Temple of the Dog, ie., Anubis. *Fraser was studying Theosophy and Anthrosophy in 2012 at Emerson College, Sussex. Again, David Lynch tried to license Elizabeth Fraser's version of 'Song to the Siren' for Blue Velvet but was unable to. He later used it in Lost Highway.
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The Alternative Rock explosion of the early 90s was fueled by a wave of great singers. After a lost decade of metallic shriekers and New Wave gurglers-- which some call the 80s-- there was suddenly an embarrassment of strong voices revitalizing rock music, especially hard rock music. Most of these had cut their teeth on punk and hardcore and subsequently learned to trim back the fat and excess that torpedoed their 70s forebears. They also learned to step around the wretched excesses that ran the 80s metal explosion into the ground; cookie-cutter sameness, image over substance, half-written songs, cliche piled on cliche. Alternative rock would itself get watered down and xeroxed into oblivion, especially as careerists figured out a way to counterfeit the formula (I'm looking at you, Candlebox and Seven Mary Three) and record companies signed up every pseudo-grunge band they could find (and strong-armed other acts to hop on the bandwagon). By the end of the 90s it all devolved into an obnoxious fratboy rock (I'm looking at you, Limp Bizkit and Creed) that reached its inevitable apotheosis at the disastrous Woodstock '99 (held on a decommissioned military base). But before that all went down some of the most vital and exciting rock music of all time was produced. Alternative Rock, or more accurately GenX Rock, has taken its place in the classic rock canon. Tracks by Nirvana, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are snuggled in tightly between all the Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Pink Floyd cuts overplayed on FM radio. But five of the most remarkable vocalists of that era- Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Jeff Buckley, Scott Weiland and now Chris Cornell--- are lost to us. And the 9-ton Tyrannosaurus lurking in the back of the concert hall is that modern plague, clinical depression. It's a subject I'm all too familiar with. It's the witches' curse on Generation X. Chris Cornell was an enigmatic figure among the Grunge pantheon. If Kurt Cobain was the snotty punk, Eddie Vedder the self-serious poet, Layne Staley the tortured howler and Scott Weiland the Joker in the pack, Cornell was an entirely unique presence, as was Soundgarden. Tall, lean but ripped, possessing an odd, androgynous beauty and an enviable black mane, he came across as aloof, Olympian. His piercing, multi-octave voice felt like a weapon, more like an incarnation of Apollo the Destroyer than Ozzy Osbourne. Similarly, Soundgarden was perhaps the most effective translator of the power of early Black Sabbath yet, but were brainy, difficult, challenging. They were unmistakably Heavy Metal-- in the original, Blue Cheer definition of the term --but didn't shriek the usual ditties about dick size and date rape. It was pretty clear they had no time for that kind of nonsense (See "Big Dumb Sex"). It was clear they took as much inspiration from King Crimson and Black Flag as from Zeppelin and Sabbath. Their first major single was an epic environmentalist jeremiad that goofed on Metal's "kill-your-mother-music" reputation by screaming "you're going to kill your mother" in the refrain. The mother here being Mother Earth, of course. Predictably, Chris Cornell's corpse was literally not cold yet before the modern ambulance chasers of the Internet were declaring it was obviously an Illuminati sacrifice. One hilarious YouTard video went on about how there was no other explanation for Cornell's death, that he'd have no reason to kill himself. Obviously someone who never actually listened to a single stitch of Soundgarden. Like Ian Curtis-- who hung himself 37 years almost to the day before-- many of Cornell's lyrics read like suicide notes. After all, this is a man who kicked off one of his biggest hits with the couplet "Nothing seems to kill me/ No matter how hard I try." Two of his other big hits "Black Hole Sun" and "Fell on Black Days" are practically master classes in the art of expressing the utter hopelessness ("'Neath the black the sky looks dead") that can overtake you when a depressive episode strikes. The same goes for Soundgarden's breakout hit, "Outshined," practically a hymn about searching for a crack of sunlight while waiting a dire episode out. "The Day I Tried to Live" is even more astonishing, a documentary retelling of those mornings when depression- aggression turned inwards- becomes aggression turned on the world outside. Cornell was very candid about his struggles with depression. In an interview with Rolling Stone he discussed the inspiration for "Fell on Black Days":
This reissue includes several versions of "Fell on Black Days," which is pretty dark. What inspired it?
Well, I had this idea, and I had it for a long time. I'd noticed already in my life where there would be periods where I would feel suddenly, "Things aren't going so well, and I don't feel that great about my life." Not based on any particular thing. I'd sort of noticed that people have this tendency to look up one day and realize that things have changed. There wasn't a catastrophe. There wasn't a relationship split up. Nobody got in a car wreck. Nobody's parents died or anything. The outlook had changed, while everything appears circumstantially the same. That was the song I wanted to write about.
No matter how happy you are, you can wake up one day without any specific thing occurring to bring you into a darker place, and you'll just be in a darker place anyway. To me, that was always a terrifying thought, because that's something that – as far as I know – we don't necessarily have control over. So that was the song I wanted to write.
It wasn't just for the gloom-metal gimmick of Soundgarden that Cornell laid bare his struggles. They crept into tracks he recorded with Audioslave- the supergroup made up of Cornell and the musicians of Rage Against the Machine, including their biggest hit "Like a Stone." Cornell was also candid about his history with clinical depression, which he traced back to a somewhat hardscrabble upbringing.
Cornell abstained from drug use for a time following an adverse reaction to the hallucinogenic PCP, but the frightening, dissociative experience, coupled with the trauma of his parent’s divorce, plunged him into a severe depression. “I went from being a daily drug user at 13 to having bad drug experiences and quitting drugs by the time I was 14 and then not having any friends until the time I was 16. There was about two years where I was more or less agoraphobic and didn’t deal with anybody, didn’t talk to anybody, didn’t have any friends at all.”
And clearly showing that he also struggled with suicidal ideation, Cornell foreshadowed his own end in an interview with Guitar.com, saying, “You’ll think somebody has run-of-the-mill depression, and then the next thing you know, they’re hanging from a rope." Writer Kate Paulk wrote about the black dog of depression recently and offered up an apt metaphor lifted from pop culture:
Let’s start by clearing up one thing. Sadness, grieving in response to a loss… that is not depression. It’s sadness. Grief. It passes with time, and even at its worst there are moments of joy and hope. Depression is not like that. Everything is poisoned.
J. K. Rowling is describing depression when she describes the Dementors and their impact. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you.
This is precisely what depression does. There is an absence of hope, an inability to believe that there can ever be anything positive in your life again. That isn’t sadness or grief, and it isn’t necessarily expressed by tears.
Cornell was also a substance abuser and dove headlong into an opioid addiction after Soundgarden split in 1997. It may well have come from a chronic pain issue, closely related to chronic depression:
People with depression show abnormalities in the body’s release of its own, endogenous, opioid chemicals. Depression tends to exacerbate pain—it makes chronic pain last longer and hurts the recovery process after surgery.
“Depressed people are in a state of alarm,” said Mark Sullivan, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington. “They’re fearful, or frozen in place. There’s a heightened sense of threat.” That increased threat sensitivity might also be what heightens sensations of pain.
Opioids certainly aren't very effective painkillers in the long term but they are very effective anesthetics when you're struggling with chronic depression.
Opioids treat pain, but depression and pain are often comorbid, and some antidepressants relieve neuropathic pain even in the absence of depression. Depression involves dysfunction in monoamine systems, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and hippocampal neurogenesis, but could it also be rooted in a deficit of endorphins, or even an endopharmacological withdrawal state?
Before the modern antidepressant era, depression was often treated with opiates—with a sometimes heavy price of addiction.
The real hell of opioids is that they rewire your brain, causing the natural processes that regulate depression and euphoria to atrophy. Depression can skyrocket when you stop taking them, since your brain basically forgot how to produce sufficient amounts of the neurotransmitters that manage your moods.
u-agonists relieve depression-like behavior acutely, but tolerance develops, and depression is worse on withdrawal from long-term administration. Delta-agonists appear to improve mood, while kappa-agonists worsen it. There is evidence that opioid dysfunction accounts for lack of pleasure in depression, while problems with dopamine impair motivation. Opioid systems, then, participate in many mood-related functions. They are examples of evolutionary repurposing of neurotransmitters that originally evolved for one purpose to meet a variety of other needs.
Cornell died on the evening May 17th, 2017, shortly after performing a concert with Soundgarden in Detroit, MI. His death was met with shock by many; his representative described it as "sudden and unexpected," adding that the singer's family will be "working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause."
Hours after his death was reported, the Wayne County Medical Examiner's office ruled Chris' death a suicide by hanging. According to Us Weekly, a family friend had found Cornell on the bathroom floor of his MGM Grand hotel room. ABC News also reported that two Detroit papers claimed that Cornell was found with "a band around his neck," though Detroit Police spokesman Michael Woody could not confirm that information.
Cornell's wife, Vicky, released a statement on his death on Friday, May 19th, 2017, in which she cast doubts that his suicide was intentional. In fact, on the day of his death, Vicky claimed they had "discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do." "When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him," she said.
"What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details," she continued. "I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life."
I think the fact that Cornell ad-libbed verses from "In My Time of Dying" over a rendition of "Slaves and Bulldozers" during the closing encore in Detroit gives a fairly compelling signal that he had resolved himself to a course of action that night. Despite an incredibly shaky performance he seemed in good spirits to some, all too common with depressives resolved to suicide. But others noticed he seemed irritable and unfocused, forgetting the lyrics. He complimented the Detroit audience and then said, "I feel sorry for the next city." An extra Ativan or two is unlikely to induce suicide. But long-term use of it (it's recommended that lorezepam-- a member of the highly-problematic benzodiazepene family-- be used only a short term basis) might. And it's very possible he took an extra dose of the drug to gird his loins for a decision he had already made:
Suicidality: Benzodiazepines may sometimes unmask suicidal ideation in depressed patients, possibly through disinhibition or fear reduction. The concern is that benzodiazepines may inadvertently become facilitators of suicidal behavior. Therefore, lorazepam should not be prescribed in high doses or as the sole treatment in depression, but only with an appropriate antidepressant.
Depression and suicidal ideation go hand in glove. And there are all kinds of psychiatric drugs that tell you upfront that suicidal ideation is a major side effect. How that doesn't keep them off the market is a mystery to me. The other problem is that people who obsess on suicide usually don't talk about it with people close to them since they realize that confessing to it will very likely act to derail what they have been planning. And again, professionals will tell you that very often when a depressive has resolved themselves to suicide they can often seem very cheerful and upbeat, since they believe that their suffering will soon end. So the question becomes if a rich, celebrated and handsome rock star can't find a reason to stay alive, what hope is there for the rest of us? Well, it's a lot more complicated than that. Aside from his struggles with clinical depression, Cornell was also beset by tragedy, losing people closest to him to early death. The first of these was his roommate Andrew Wood, the flamboyant singer for legendary Seattle band Mother Love Bone who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. Cornell was so shaken by Wood's death that he formed a defacto supergroup with members of MLB and recorded the now-legendary Temple of the Dog album as a tribute, which produced the grunge anthem "Hunger Strike" (featuring a duet between Cornell and future Pearl Jam star Eddie Vedder). Temple of the Dog in fact led to the formation of Pearl Jam, facilitated by the introduction of Vedder to the Seattle scenesters by drummer Jack Irons, a member of the original Red Hot Chili Peppers who also played with Pearl Jam and Joe Strummer, among an army of others. Strangely enough, Irons has his own struggles with depression. As did Joe Strummer, for that matter. The Muses choose broken vessels. It's a Secret Sun truism. Cornell was so shaken by Wood's death that it would haunt Soundgarden songs as well.
The song you workshopped the most was "Like Suicide." In the liner notes, you say it kind of became a metaphor for how you were feeling at the time about late Mother Love Bone frontman Andy Wood.
Yeah, the lyrics were actually this simple moment that happened to me. I don't know that I ever directly related it to Andy, though there are a lot of songs that people probably don't know where there were references to him or how I was feeling about what happened with him. I just think that that was something that happened to me that was a traumatic thing and that I had a difficult time resolving it. I still never really have. I still live with it, and that's one of the moments where maybe in some ways it could have shown up, but I'm not really sure specifically where.
Another body blow was the 1994 death of Kurt Cobain, another friend who died in time to cast a pall of existential darkness over Soundgarden's epochal Superunknown album, released a month before Cobain's death. So even as Soundgarden were enjoying their moment, death and tragedy revisited Cornell. (Cobain had his own issues, exacerbated by years of opioid abuse, but there are those of us who don't buy the suicide angle in this particular case). It had to hurt, especially since Cobain had told Cornell that Soundgarden has inspired him to form Nirvana in the first place. Superunknown was an instant classic, easily one of the top 10 Hard Rock albums ever recorded, hammering you with one killer track after another. Along with Stone Temple Pilots' Purple album, Pearl Jam's Vitalogy and several others it established 1994 as the watershed for Alernative Rock, despite Cobain's death and Nirvana's dissolution. Soundgarden's 1996 follow-up Down on the Upside, failed to capitalize on its predecessor's momentum, and seem to showcase a band uncertain of direction and sense of purpose. No one was really surprised when Soundgarden broke up the following year. Oddly enough the breakup seemed to go down almost exactly three years after Kurt Cobain's death.
But Tragedy wasn't finished with Cornell yet. Shortly after Soundgarden broke up Cornell would lose another soulmate.
He lost two friends within the space of a few years. Cobain died in 1994 and, three years later, singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, practically a brother to Cornell, drowned while swimming in a tributary of the Mississippi in Tennessee.
"Kurt was fairly quiet and introverted most of the time. Jeff was the opposite. He was very much full of life and had a lot to say. He was somebody in love with experiencing everything. Within a very short time, he had all these famous old rock stars coming to his shows. Which put a a lot of pressure on him. People talked about his concerts the way they used to talk about Hendrix: they'd sit there, wide-eyed, telling you stories about him. He definitely had an aura. It's impossible to say what it is exactly a guy like that has, that is so attractive to other people. But he had more of it than anyone I had ever met."
Of course, this brings all this squarely into the Secret Sun wheelhouse.Cornell would be haunted by Buckley's death, writing the aching "Wave Goodbye" (in which he seems to channel Buckley's ghost) for his first solo album and acting as a de facto executor-slash-curator for Buckley's posthumous releases.
This tells us a lot, since the 20th anniversary of Jeff Buckley's death is coming up fast and furious. Cornell showed he was clearly still haunted by Buckley's passing when he brought the late singer's old landline phone onstage with him during his 2011 acoustic solo tour.
KALAMAZOO — I've had several people ask about the red phone that was on stage during Chris Cornell's 130-minute set at the Kalamazoo State Theatre last week. Cornell never addressed it during the show and it never rang, so I didn't think much of it. After another reader asked Monday, I looked into it.
According to a representative with the New York-based Press Here Publicity, which handled promotion for Cornell's solo tour, the phone belonged to singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley.
As Secret Sun readers will remember, the last song Jeff Buckley sang before his death was "Whole Lotta Love", a blues standard that Led Zeppelin turned into what one critic called "a themonuclear rape." And it would be "In My Time of Dying," another old blues standard that Led Zeppelin turned into a jackhammering stomper that acted as Cornell's own self-elegy. This, along with the timing of Ian Curtis's own death by hanging in 1980 seems a bit too synchronized for Cornell's death to be some kind of mad whim because he took too much Ativan. As painful as it might be to admit, it seems as if this was probably a very long time coming. After all, this is the man who wrote "Pretty Noose." So it seems apparent that it wasn't the Illuminati but in fact the demon possession of depression that took Chris Cornell away from his family. With many of his closest friends gone and the glory days of the 90s more and more a fading memory in a world itself gripped by chronic depression, I can't say I'm surprised by the suicide ruling. The life of the rock star in 2017 is a galaxy away from the golden age of the rock star in 1977. It's become a grueling job in the age of streaming and piracy, since you need to make all your money on the road now. Spending your life traveling from one brutalist concrete box to another when you're fifty-two is surely a lot less appealing than when you're twenty-two. If there's any good to come of this tragedy it's to understand that depression isn't some kind of scarlet letter, it's an inevitable result of what one scientist called "the greatest blind experiment in history," the bombardment of our brains and bodies with every manner of stimulus and stress imaginable, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and then some. Having spend my teenage years in the white-hot cauldron of hardcore punk I can tell you that that kind of hyperstimulation had -- how do I put this? --less than a salutary effect on a lot of people I knew. Seeing that same formula translated into the mainstream culture goes a long way in explaining why depression has become the great mass epidemic of our time. Now it's claimed another trophy and we're all the poorer for it. But as the Greeks and Romans once said, vita brevis ars longa. French philosophers once said that the invention of motion pictures had conquered death, that people would now live on forever once they were recorded. I guess the same goes for recorded music as well. So I think it's safe to say that after three decades of music, Chris Cornell has earned his place among the immortals. Let's hope someone learns something from his story.
Sir Ridley Scott's long-awaited prequel to Prometheus opened this week in certain countries and is set to open in America next week. For those waiting for a continuation of the storyline from the last movie- when crew member Elizabeth Shaw and the head of android David taking off to invade the Engineer homeworld- well, I hate to say it but you're out of luck. The Prometheus story is referenced only as exposition, apparently. I hope I'm not giving away any spoilers (it feels like half the movie has already been posted to YouTube in the form of trailers and excerpts) but it is what it is.
Of course, the bit with Elizabeth and David's disembodied head from Prometheus is yet another one of those bizarre and inexplicable references to John the Baptist that tentpole sci-fi movies are so fond of. Remember that John's mother was named Elizabeth*, who had her own covenant with an extraterrestrial entity (the Archangel Gabriel, in this case). But I digress. If you've been following the previews and the various puff pieces in the media you'll suss out that Alien: Covenant is more like a remake of the first Alien film than a sequel to Prometheus. In much the same way as the JJ Abrams' Star Wars it's meant to act a jumping-on point for the Alien franchise for post-Millennials:
If Star Wars: The Force Awakens led the way in merging fan-service universe-building with fresh heroes, stories and themes for a new generation, Alien: Covenant grabs the reboot ball and runs with it.
Director Sir Ridley Scott has said himself how much he was impressed by Disney's handling of Star Wars' renaissance, and it's clear to see why this similarly iconic '70s sci-fi world is equally ripe for a life-extending overhaul.
The film apparently references the AAT of Prometheus but also taps into the current anxieties over AI and robots and their potential to do away with the rest of us, kind of like a more ambitious HAL 9000. Scott apparently 86'd the idea of more direct sequel to Prometheusafter reading some of the negative reviews dumped on the film, which he called "a mistake":
What changed was the reaction to ‘Prometheus’, which was a pretty good ground zero reaction. It went straight up there, and we discovered from it that [the fans] were really frustrated. They wanted to see more of the original [monster] and I thought he was definitely cooked, with an orange in his mouth. So I thought: ‘Wow, OK, I’m wrong’.
Alien creator Ridley Scott has said that he is convinced that there are extra-terrestrials out there – and one day they will come for us. The veteran director said he believed in higher beings as he prepared to release the sixth episode of the sci-fi horror series, Alien: Covenant, next month.
“I believe in superior beings. I think it is certainly likely. An expert I was talking to at Nasa said to me, ‘Have you ever looked in the sky at night? You mean to tell me we are it?’ That’s ridiculous.”
“So when you see a big thing in the sky, run for it,” he joked.“Because they are a lot smarter than we are, and if you are stupid enough to challenge them you will be taken out in three seconds.”
Scott has signed on to serve as the executive producer and director for this project, which was created and sold to the premium cable channel by David Schulner. The Hollywood Reporter explains:
The drama explores an alternate explanation for the foundation and ascent of the ancient Egyptian empire — one in which greatness was bestowed upon us by beings from another world, calling into question what it means to be a “god.” The project was co-created by Giannina Facio and Colet Abedi, who will exec produce alongside Scott and David Zucker for Scott Free.
His film Prometheus was partially inspired by the writings of Swiss author Erich von Daniken who is known for his books like Chariots of the Gods? and Gods From Outer Space. Von Daniken is also a regular talking head on History Channel’s Ancient Aliens.
But there's an interesting little visual cue in one of the trailers that suggests that Scott takes AAT very seriously. The Covenant crew lands on an alien planet and discovers a familiar sight. From io9:
This alien planet that looks untouched by human hands is growing recognizable wheat, which very much has been touched by human hands. This plays into the Alien mythos that there was a race of “Engineers” that were the progenitors of humans—they’re similar to us, why wouldn’t their food be similar? And if they were traveling around, why wouldn’t they carry seeds like we do?
Many have "wild" predecessors that were apparently a starting point for the domesticated variety, but others--like many common vegetables--have no obvious precursors. But for those that do, such as wild grasses, grains and cereals, how they turned into wheat, barley, millet, rice, etc. is a profound mystery.
No botanist can conclusively explain how wild plants gave rise to domesticated ones. The emphasis here is on "conclusively". Botanists have no trouble hypothesising elaborate scenarios in which Neolithic (New Stone Age) farmers somehow figured out how to hybridise wild grasses, grains and cereals, not unlike Gregor Mendel when he cross-bred pea plants to figure out the mechanics of genetic inheritance. It all sounds so simple and so logical, almost no one outside scientific circles ever examines it closely.
Modern wheat is one of those innovations that scientists revert to ontological arguments to explain. The wheat we know obviously exists so it simply had to have been the product of long-term domestication. How exactly the domestication of an essentially-inedible wild grass was domesticated into a modern foodcrop-- over the span of centuries, mind you, if not millennia-- by illiterate Stone Age farmers is never exactly made clear. Pye again:
On the other hand, those New Stone Age farmers who were fresh out of their caves and only just beginning to turn soil for the first time (as the ”official” scenario goes), somehow managed to transform the wild grasses, grains and cereals growing around them into their domesticated ”cousins”. Is that possible? Only through a course in miracles! Actually, it requires countless miracles within two large categories of miracles.
The seeds and grains were maddeningly small, like pepper flakes or salt crystals, which put them beyond the grasping and handling capacity of human fingers. They were also hard, like tiny nutshells, making it impossible to convert them to anything edible. Lastly, their chemistry was suited to nourishing animals, not humans. So wild varieties were entirely too small, entirely too tough and nutritionally inappropriate for humans.
They needed to be greatly expanded in size, greatly softened in texture and overhauled at the molecular level–which would be an imposing challenge for modern botanists, much less Neolithic farmers.
Despite the seeming impossibility of meeting those daunting objectives, modern botanists are confident the first sodbusters had all they needed to do it: time and patience. Over hundreds of generations of selective crossbreeding, they consciously directed the genetic transformation of the few dozen that would turn out to be most useful to humans. And how did they do it? By the astounding feat of doubling, tripling and quadrupling the number of chromosomes in the wild varieties!
Domestic wheat and oats were elevated from an ancestor with seven chromosomes to their current 42–an expansion by a factor of six.”
Remember that the cultivation of wheat brought about the rise of the Sumerians, who had oddly intimate relationships with their gods (the Anunaki, of course). The ancient Greeks were certain that wheat was the gift of a god; Demeter, in this case. It was the final "mystery" in the dramas put on at Eleusis. The Egyptians credited wheat to Osiris, the star-sailor. So its inclusion in this film hardly seems incidental. On the contrary; it looks as if someone were doing their homework.
There've also been a ton of less-visible but still-signficant TV shows and movies that have done the same, like Jonny Quest, The Phoenix, The Man from Atlantis as well as Childhood's End, Cocoon, Hangar 18,countless American and Japanese cartoons (even the hugely-popular cardgame/anime property Yu-Gi-Oh). So much so that you can't help but wonder if there's not a very powerful cargo cult at work behind the scenes in Tinseltown.
Was our solar system once home to an advanced civilization other than our own — perhaps one that predated humanity by hundreds of millions of years before being wiped out by an asteroid impact or some other cataclysm?
There's no evidence for such a pre-human indigenous technological species, though people have been speculating about one since ancient times. But a respected space scientist points out in a provocative new paper that if the existence of home-grown intelligent space aliens has never been established, it's never been ruled out either.
And if a race of smart and perhaps spacefaring aliens did make their home in our solar system, traces of their lost civilization might still be out there somewhere in the system just waiting for us to find them.
Well, you all know what the big story was this past week. I wasn't going to post on it but enough people have asked and it seems germane to the ongoing Reality Show we're all unwitting (and unwilling) extras in. In case you've been on media blackout or a vision quest, here's a brief thumbnail sketch:
The United States launched a military strike Thursday on a Syrian government airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians earlier in the week.
On President Donald Trump's orders, US warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the airbase that was home to the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks, US officials said.
As it happens, the airstrikes apparently didn't even seem to have the desired deterrent effect. The air base was up and running soon after the strikes:
Syrian warplanes took off from the air base hit by US cruise missiles yesterday to carry out bombing raids on rebel-held areas, in a defiant show of strength.
Just hours after the al-Shayrat airfield was bombed with 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from warships in the Mediterranean, aircraft struck targets in the eastern Homs countryside, according to a monitoring group.
The airstrikes were carried out on Khan Sheikhoun - the same town Bashar al-Assad’s regime is accused of attacking with chemicals - and seven other towns around eastern Homs, some of which controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
This rebound seemed to catch the War Party off guard, since CNN reported on the same story but appeared to ascribe the airstrikes to phantom warplanes. I mean, it couldn't be the Syrians or the Russians, right?:
(CNN) New airstrikes targeted a town in Syria that was hit by a chemical attack earlier this week, activists said, less than a day after the US bombarded a Syrian air base to "send a message" to the Assad regime.
It wasn't immediately clear who conducted the strikes on Khan Sheikhoun, which was hit on Friday and Saturday, though only Russian and Syrian regime aircraft have been bombing that area of rebel-held Idlib province.
CNN, who've been hammering Trump around the clock since he humiliated their network head in a post-election tantrum, suddenly changed their tune when he started raining bombs on Syria. Sam Kriss reports:
The media was kind to Trump’s attack on Syria. Every pompous outlet that has spent the last five months screaming incessantly about the threat to democracy, the inevitable deaths and the terror of wars, had nothing but applause as soon as the wars and the deaths actually got going.
A fleshy and dangerous idiot, a vulgarian, an imbecile – until those first perfect screaming shots of Tomahawk missiles being fired were broadcast – that’s our guy, you show them Donny! This is when, as Fareed Zakaria put it on CNN, Trump ‘became the president.’
The same mainstream media, which has become a hornet's hive of conspiracy theorizing since the election, was quick to shoot down any conspiracy theories about the Syria Bombshow.
A volley of US cruise missiles had barely been launched into Syria before the internet filled up with fact-free theories about the real reason for the international crisis.
A popular one on the right-most fringes: the US government actually carried out the chemical weapons massacre in Syria last week - a "false flag" to trick President Donald Trump into retaliating, thus entangling himself in a foreign war.
A slightly more convoluted strain on the left: Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the chemical weapons massacre to help Trump - distracting Americans from an investigation into Trump's campaign ties to Russia by provoking the missile strike.
Alt-left conspiracy theorists prefer the idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the chemical weapons massacre to help Trump - distracting Americans from an investigation into Trump's campaign ties to Russia.
Ron Paul, whose son Rand is now a rising star in the Senate, was perhaps the most prominent public figure to cast shade on the Syria op:
“Before this episode of possible gas exposure and who did what, things were going along reasonably well for the conditions,” the former Texas congressman stated. “Trump said let the Syrians decide who should run their country, and peace talks were making out, and Al Qaeda and ISIS were on the run.”
“It looks like, maybe, somebody didn’t like that so there had to be an episode, and the blame now is we can’t let that happen because it looks like it might benefit Assad.”
A gas attack launched by the fleeing Syrian rebels, a side quickly losing it’s CIA-sponsorship and well aware it’s continued health depends on American funds, sure has a shit-ton more to gain from wide swathes of civilians dying on camera. Even better if they die particularly gruesomely and in a way the rebels claim they couldn’t be responsible for despite being photographed with all the tech to do so.
How does Trump’s seemingly pointless explosion-show play into this? The answer: perfectly...
Consider also that the Chinese President was in Mar-a-Largo when the strike was underway, that Trump not only told him it was going to happen but actually ate dinner with him as it went on and the event spirals into even greater significance. A show of force full of technical prowess in a contested warzone while the Russians stood back and watched sends a powerful message to a foreign leader currently dining in enemy territory.
Is this just swivel-eyed speculation? Is there any reason to believe this wasn't all some improbable coincidence, that Xi Jinping was indeed dining with Trump while the Bombshow began? Because if it's not a coincidence then it's one hell of a psyop; running a mindfuck on your most dangerous frenemy during a state visit. What's this all about then? Joseph Farrell reports:
While there have been a spate of articles recently about growing Russo-Chinese defense and security ties, matching their growing financial and economic ties, this one left me stunned, for there was a statement within it that caught my eye, and Mr. B's as well, and I'm sure the reader saw it as well. As one can imagine, this one fueled my "high octane speculation" mode to the nth degree. Here's the statement, and a bit of surrounding context: Russia and China are tired of Washington's "defensive" military installations in their backyards — and they're already taking action.
According to the Atlantic Council and other responsible thinkers, the Untied States reserves the right to park its missile shields anywhere it wants, whether it be in Europe, East Asia, or the dark side of the Moon.
President Trump on Wednesday removed controversial White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon from the National Security Council, part of a sweeping staff reshuffling that elevated military, intelligence and Cabinet officials to greater roles on the council and left Bannon less directly involved in shaping the administration’s day-to-day national security policy.
The restructuring reflects the growing influence of national security adviser H.R. McMaster, an Army three-star general who took over the post after retired general Michael Flynn was ousted in February and who is increasingly asserting himself over the flow of national security information in the White House.
Do yourself a favor and set a news alert for "McMaster." That's a name you're going to be hearing more of in the days ahead. Or you won't. Which is probably the more troubling scenario. And with Bannon off the NSC there's apparently an effort to shuffle him off to some fat-salaried thinktank glue factory. The not-news of Bannon's interest in The Fourth Coming was dragged out yet again, this time by The New York Times. But the article planted a helpful hint of why Bannon is on the elbow list and might be giving us a grim preview of the year ahead:
Bannon’s Views Can Be Traced to a Book That Warns, ‘Winter Is Coming’
WASHINGTON — Stephen K. Bannon has read the book three times. He still keeps a copy of it — one that’s creased and copiously underlined — in a library with the rest of his favorites at his father’s house in Richmond, Va.
The book, “The Fourth Turning,” a 1997 work by two amateur historians, Neil Howe and William Strauss, lays out a theory that American history unfurls in predictable, 80-year cycles of prosperity and catastrophe. And it foresees catastrophe right around the corner.
It also leads to unavoidable questions about war and whether Mr. Bannon, who has recommended the book to countless friends and made a film about it in 2010, is resigned to catastrophic global conflict. He says he is not.
And he remains unconvinced that the United States can effectively intervene in overseas conflicts like the one unfolding in Syria. As one of the voices in the administration who expressed skepticism about a military strike in response to the Assad regime’s chemical attack on its own citizens, Mr. Bannon insists he is no warmonger.
Well, there you have it.
Is the Syria proxy war threatening to heat up again, or is this all just another dance in the Cold War Kabuki? Have actions like the Bombshow become like sacrificial actions in ongoing magical actions? Or is the real war is for your mind and is playing out in thousands of manufactured headlines, blizzards of 30 second videos with deceptive text crawls and the endless babbling of overpaid talking heads? I feel stupid even asking the question. Just in case you're worried that this is all leading to nukes raining down on American cities, the cognitive warriors seem to be trying to defuse any expectations of impending Armageddon:
White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster says that while the U.S. would push for regime change in Syria, “We’re not the ones who are going to effect that change.”
“What we’re saying is, other countries have to ask themselves some hard questions,” McMaster said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." “Russia should ask themselves, ‘What are we doing here?’ Why are we supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population and using the most heinous weapons available?’”
Translation: No way in Hell we have the readiness needed for a hot war with a military superpower. And since the mindfuck is the mother's milk of Cog-War, the careful inoculation of mixed messages into the mediafeed becomes just as vital a weapon as a cruise missile. Scratch that- much, much more so.
The Trump administration appears divided on whether the U.S. is pursuing a policy of regime change in Syria, days after the first direct American military attack against the Syrian government.
Thursday’s strike “was related solely to the most recent horrific use of chemical weapons,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. The goal of the attack was to send a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad and its ally Russia that the U.S. wouldn’t tolerate the use of chemical weapons, he continued. “Other than that, there is no change to our military posture.”
But United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said there can be no peace in Syria with Assad in power. “There’s not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria.”
Though Haley stopped short of indicating the U.S. would take military action to overthrow the Syrian dictator, her comments reflect a sharp change from the administration’s previous position.
The difference here, of course, is that Tillerson sets and executes policy and Haley sits in a glorified debating society and blows smoke and fairy dust for a bunch of bored bureaucrats wishing they had their real government jobs back, the ones they enjoyed before being pushed upstairs to their present posts. The media only pays attention when bombs are falling. It's all black magic, make no mistake about it. There are different terms and epithets for it all now, but when you strip all the twenty-dollar words and the credentials and the technology away the intent and the effect is no different than a witch doctor's curse. William S. Burroughs understood this, since his uncle Ivy Lee was the creator of one of these modern strains of black magic, so-called "public relations." Burroughs considered his uncle a bonafide "evil genius." And Lee was a piker compared to the algorithm-fired masters of the dark arts striding the globe today. Here's a story that probably won't pop up on your Facebook feed. Anyone paying attention to the Russia hacking story probably knows how incredibly weak the hacking evidence actually is,* but now Wikileaks is teasing out the Seth Rich mystery again.
‘Guccifer 2.0’ Chat With Nude Model Sparks New Conspiracy Theories About Murder of DNC’s Seth Rich
New chat logs between alleged Democratic National Committee hacker Guccifer 2.0 and a Playboy centerfold model surfaced today via Wikileaks on Twitter, throwing more fuel on the conspiracy theories surrounding murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. The Twitter conversation, conducted via direct messages, purports to reveal Rich as the primary leaker of the DNC e-mails that proved highly disruptive during the 2016 presidential election.
In direct messages dated August 25, 2016, Guccifer 2.0 mentioned having a whistleblower at the DNC, and said he was looking for a “person of trust who can be a guarantee in case anything happens.” When Young suggested trusting Julian Assange, Guccifer 2.0 called him “unsafe” and that he “may be connected with Russians” despite being his hero.
“I’d like to find a journalist who can do an investigation and teel [sic] the real story of his life and death,” he said, and revealed that the whistleblower he was referring to was none other than a person named “Seth.”
“I suppose u know who I’m talking about,” he said, adding that he felt sorry about the murdered DNC staffer’s parents and that he wished for journalists to uncover the truth of his murder. Seth Rich, a 27-year-old mid-level DNC staffer, was shot and killed in the early morning of July 2016 in Washington DC, while he was walking home from a bar and talking with his girlfriend on his mobile phone. Rich’s killers left his watch and wallet untouched on his body.
This wasn't floated by Alex Jones or David Icke, it popped up on Heat Street, which is owned by the Dow Jones Company and Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp. This story looks like it's going to grow some legs yet. So are you sick of the Cog-War and the Cold War Kabuki yet?Tired of your social media hijacked by proxy warriors fighting battles for cliques within the Intelligence community? Burnt out on the whole Reality Show Presidency and its discontents altogether? Start looking into ashrams in Sri Lanka, then. This machine is just getting warmed up. *Maybe some bright young spark should see if maybe the hacking an inside job by intel people who correctly judged a Trump White House would be easier to dominate than a bloated, top-heavy Clinton one. Just throwing that out there for giggles and grins.
Background: Statistical models that use an individual’s DNA methylation levels to estimate their age (known as epigenetic clocks) have recently been developed, with 96% correlation found between epigenetic and chronological age. We postulate that differences between estimated and actual age [age acceleration (AA)] can be used as a measure of developmental age in early life.Methods: We obtained DNA methylation measures at three time points (birth, age 7 years and age 17 years) in 1018 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Using an online calculator, we estimated epigenetic age, and thus AA, for each child at each time point. We then investigated whether AA was prospectively associated with repeated measures of height, weight, body mass index (BMI), bone mineral density, bone mass, fat mass, lean mass and Tanner stage.Results: Positive AA at birth was associated with higher average fat mass [1321 g per year of AA, 95% confidence interval (CI) 386, 2256 g] from birth to adolescence (i.e. from age 0–17 years) and AA at age 7 was associated with higher average height (0.23 cm per year of AA, 95% CI 0.04, 0.41 cm). Conflicting evidence for the role of AA (at birth and in childhood) on changes during development was also found, with higher AA being positively associated with changes in weight, BMI and Tanner stage, but negatively with changes in height and fat mass.Conclusions: We found evidence that being ahead of one’s epigenetic age acceleration is related to developmental characteristics during childhood and adolescence. This demonstrates the potential for using AA as a measure of development in future research.
...all before the mind wakes, behind shades and closed doors in a darkened house
where the inhabitants roam unsatisfied in the night,
nude ghosts seeking each other out in the silence.
— Love Poem on a Theme by Whitman, Allen Ginsberg
Never heckle a nonconformist.
A drunk started to heckle Allen Ginsberg during a reading of his poem Howlin Los Angeles in 1956.
“Allen politely asked him to hear out the reading and said he would be pleased to hear his opinions afterward,” biographer Barry Miles noted. “That stopped the heckler for a bit, but when Gregory (Corso) got up to read, the drunk interrupted. ‘What are you guys trying to prove?’ he demanded.
“Allen immediately yelled out, ‘Nakedness!’
“ ‘What do you mean, nakedness?” asked the drunk.
“ ‘I meant spiritual nakedness,’ Ginsberg explained later. ‘Poetic nakedness — candor. Then I suddenly realized what I had said. Inspired, I started taking off my clothes.’
“‘All right,’ Allen challenged the drunk. ‘You want to do something brave, don’t you? Something brave? Well, go on, do something really brave. Take off your clothes!’
“ The man was speechless. Allen advanced on him, tearing off his shirt. ‘Come on and stand here, stand naked before the people. I dare you! The poet always stands naked before the world.’ Allen threw his shirt and undershirt at the man’s feet, and he began to back away. ‘You’re scared, aren’t you?’ asked Allen. ‘You’re afraid.’ Allen kicked off his shoes and socks and pulled down his pants. Doing a little hopping dance, he kicked them off... He was now completely naked. The drunk had by now retreated to the back of the room. The audience sat in stunned silence.
“Suddenly the room exploded in cheers, jeers, applause and angry argument. The drunk was booed and hissed until he left. Anaïs Nin was impressed and wrote in her journal; ‘The way he did it was so violent and direct, it had so much meaning in terms of all our fears of unveiling ourselves.’”
Miles’ bio of the poet and his fellow Beat musketeers documents their intellectual insights and/or pretensions, drugs and more drugs, petty crime, sex of all sorts, doomed love affairs, cross-country wanderings, abandoned wives, automobile and mental breakdowns, jails, colleges, psychiatric hospitals, poetry, novels, a murder and various other accidental, if predictable, deaths: one when a drunk happily leaned out a train window, and another when a guy decided to “William Tell” a water glass off his wife’s head with a Star .380 automatic.
All the panoramic stupidity of young midcentury Americans, as fascinating as the rhythmic sway of a cobra.
Over all, I found Ginsberg and his self-absorbed comrades to be at least as exasperating as they were intriguing. People who’ve had experience with mental illness, as I have, may fail to see the charm in drug-induced psychosis.
And yet Ginsberg shares my birthday, June 3, and the insights it took him decades to discover — an appreciation of the deep psychological well of Buddhism, a suspicion of the tyranny of self — were the same ones I found, after a long search. My feelings about him are almost as complex as my feelings about myself.
On the plus side of the ledger, Ginsberg became a courageous voice against the deep-rooted hypocrisies of his time, a gay pioneer and a reflexively honest man who did much to popularize Buddhist thought in America.
The 17-year-old Allen Ginsberg had fallen for an 18-year-old cerebral charmer, his fellow Columbia University student Lucien Carr, at once.
Ginsberg’s infatuation with 21-year-old Jack Kerouac, a sensitive and articulate merchant seaman, was equally instant.
All three were also in the giddy early stages of a love affair with intellectual enlightenment. Carr later called it the rebellious students’ search for valid values.
“Their walk had taken them to the Union Theological Seminary; they stood on the corner of West 122ndStreet and Broadway and looked down the hill to the gray spread of Harlem,” wrote Miles. “Allen was moving out of the seminary and still had a few things to collect. He and Jack had discussed their admiration of Lucien, so there was a mutual understanding when Allen pointed out the door where he had first heard the Brahms Quintet (that had introduced him to Carr) six months earlier.”
“Allen collected the few books and belongings he had come for, and as he turned from the dormitory suite he bowed to it, made a gesture of farewell, and said, ‘Goodbye, door.’ He continued down the stairs, saying goodbye to each step as he went. He bade farewell to the seventh-floor landing, the sixth-floor landing and all the rest, like a poem, all the way down.
“Kerouac was struck by this: ‘Ah, I do that when I say goodbye to a place.’ They had a long, excited conversation about the recognition of each of the stairs as the final stair and about Allen’s realization of the changes in himself since he first climbed them six months before.
“‘That struck him as an awareness of a soul in space and time, which was his nature,’ Ginsberg said later. Jack asked him if he knew any other people with the same awareness. Was it awareness? Was it poetry? They decided that everyone had it who was in any way conscious or sensitive.
‘Everyone has the same soul. We’re all here together at once in the same place. Temporarily, with a totally poignant tearful awareness that we’re together,’ they decided. This recognition became the basis of their deep and lasting understanding of each other.”
Ginsberg was a tireless promoter of his fellow beat writers — Kerouac, Burroughs, Corso and others. “I wasn’t just plugging and promoting my friends,” he explained. “I had a larger agenda.”
He saw the literary establishment — Partisan Review, Kenyon Review, and so forth — as finally reactionary. “They were liberal but in the long run they would go along with a police state if it happened — they wouldn’t go to jail.”
Ginsberg wanted to promote writers made of sterner stuff, namely “philosophical anarchism.”
In 1965, jazz musician Jack Martin was arrested for marijuana possession in New York, and four narcotics agents had a little talk with him.
“(T)hey told him that his bail would be raised from five to ten thousand dollars and that additional charges would be added to his indictment unless he helped them out,” Miles wrote.
“Agent Bruce Jensen acted as their spokesman. ‘We want Ginsberg,’ he said. ‘How would you like to see your wife in jail? … We don’t want you, we want the guy you get it from … Do you know Ginsberg? … Can you get him for us? … Can you set up Allen Ginsberg?’
“To the enforcers, it was inconceivable that Ginsberg would advocate for marijuana (legalization) unless he was somehow involved in its sale and trafficking.”
In fact, Martin had never met Ginsberg, who was in California and knew nothing of these events.
Later, at a benefit for a friend, Martin rose and made a speech describing how Jensen had tried to force him to entrap Ginsberg. Three undercover agents in the crowd jumped him, and others — thinking the agents were mere thugs — scuffled with them.
It all ended up in court later, and by then Ginsberg had learned of the matter and appeared there, telling the New York Times: “I feel like the noose of the police state is closing in on me. I’ve had experience of police states in Prague and it’s very similar here.”
The accomplishment of which Ginsberg became proudest was helping to spread the knowledge of Buddhism in America.
About taking his Bodhisattva Vows, Ginsberg said he admired, “…the notion of relating to any situation and not boycotting any situations. Not avoiding, but trying to alchemize every situation, by skillful means to turn to advantage … To turn it from shit to roses.”
“It is easy to see why Ginsberg should be attracted to the Bodhisattva ideal, since one of his great strengths was always his willingness to take a difficult or painful situation and try to salvage something from it, whether it was dealing with his mother’s madness, becoming involved with the lepers and dying beggars in India, or taking amiably with street people and bag ladies,” Miles wrote.
“He would intervene in street arguments, talk to belligerent drunks and spaced-out junkies. If someone had a bad skin condition or disfigurement, Ginsberg would immediately ask about rather than pretend it was not there. His enormous inquisitiveness and almost complete lack of embarrassment sometimes led him to quiz complete strangers about their income or sex life and volunteer the same, uncalled-for information about himself.” I can understand and appreciate that kind of honesty. Ginsberg once pointed toward the need for it in talking to the Washington Post: “The condition of society is one of homogeneity and hyper-industrialism, so the individual perceptions of body and mind are not valued. Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.”
By the dawn of the 20thcentury, architect Frank Lloyd Wright had discovered something I didn’t learn until the 21st century — that kleptocapitalism must finally and necessarily destroy the standards of every profession with which it comes into contact.
In his 1900 speech to the Architectural League of America in Chicago, titled The Architect, Wright “…reminded his colleagues that in this country commerce had triumphed over art,” wrote Robert C. Twombly in his book Frank Lloyd Wright: His Life and His Architecture. “The lust for money had reduced the architect to a servant of the business community.”
Wright charged that the American architect “…panders to silly women his silly artistic sweets,” trading experimentation and individuality for financial security. Wright called typical turn-of-the-century Chicago homes for the well-to-do “fantastic abortions” and said they “lied about everything.”
“(The architect) now modeled commercial buildings after Greek temples and luxury homes after Louis XIV palaces, all because the businessman and his wife ‘knew what they wanted,’” Twombly wrote. “No longer an independent spirit, the architect had become a salesman, peddling prepackaged ‘styles’ from the files of huge ‘plan-factories.’
“At the height of the industrial revolution in America, Wright was painfully aware that the new corporate elite had usurped the status of the professional, reducing him to an employee at its beck and call.”
In 21st century capitalism-gone-wild America, that sad state of professional degradation applies not just to architects but to physicians, professors, military officers, police officers, attorneys, journalists, you name it.
For pity’s sake, judges have been caught framing innocent American children because they’ve been bribed by private prison corporations to provide warm bodies in order to increase the corporation’s lucrative taxpayer subsidy.
Wright employed stylistic innovations to achieve an inobvious family privacy in his prairie houses. The windows were easy to see out of but, because of overhanging features, difficult to see into. Shielded by broad eaves, windows could stay open even in rain. Exterior doorways were hidden in recesses, behind walls or around corners.
“A house that has character stands a good chance of growing more valuable as it grows older, while a house in the prevailing mode, whatever that mode may be, is soon out of fashion, stale and unprofitable,” Wright said.
The McMansions that now litter our landscape, with their bludging, tumorous protrusions, are an example of the latter.
Twombly noted that with five children by 1901, Wright, in his home designs, “…took greater pains to provide for group solidarity than for individual interests. Whether it was a symbolic inglenook, a formal entryway, a playroom for his children or his many exquisite dining and living rooms, his most elaborate efforts were areas of group activity.”
“Wright understood the family to be a tightly knit group within a larger community from which it withdrew occasionally (but did not reject) for its own sustenance. More concerned at this stage of his life with family unity than personal freedom, he assumed the former made the latter possible.”
Twombly suggests that Wright’s turn-of-the-century prairie houses offered a combination of innovation and protection that appealed to their forward-looking but finally insecure upper middle class owners.
“As independent businessmen likely to own their own moderate-sized manufacturing concerns, and as conservative Protestant Republicans, they frowned on eccentric social behavior, liberal causes and protest literature,” he wrote. “In a period of ‘progressive’ reform, they clung to 19th century values and like others in the rapidly growing metropolis felt themselves engulfed by sweeping changes not entirely to their liking…
“Wright’s designs satisfied needs and wishes murkily understood but deeply felt by large numbers of city dwellers and satisfied them more fully, in fact, than conventional styles. The prairie house appealed to an apprehensive upper middle class by emphasizing in literal and symbolic ways the security, privacy, shelter, family mutuality and other values people found increasingly important in a period of urban dislocation and conflict.
“Rapid industrialization and urbanization in late 19th century America created a disorienting situation. Armies of working class immigrants from Europe and from American farms and small towns helped escalate social tensions and instabilities in the cities. Newcomers of all classes, having lost their roots, found their places of residence determined not by family tradition or landholding but by unpredictable and insecure market situations. Vast impersonal corporations assumed control over the lives of laboring people, over white collar workers and executives, and over self-employed businessmen and professionals whose livelihoods depended upon the whims of an incomprehensible and seemingly capricious economic system. The depression of the 1890s, the most devastating in American history to that point, exacerbated the general uneasiness as even more people began to sense their helplessness.
“Few individuals could count on uninterrupted upward mobility, permanent employment or a secure future for their children. Even the upper middle class, especially people like Wright’s clients who did not possess inherited wealth, faced the specter of possible downward mobility and the loss of everything.”
As an inspiration for Ayn Rand’s architect hero Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, Frank Lloyd Wright had, in a sense, helped her write her fiction by overdramatizing his career.
In a 1914 Architectural Record article, Wright presented “…his first proclamation of the ‘persecuted genius’ legend, an interpretation of his life as a continuous battle against overwhelming odds, as a struggle for principle despite social ostracism, personal indifference, financial hardship, public ridicule and personal rejection,” Twombly wrote.
“Publicly begun by Wright in 1914 and perpetuated by his closest admirers until the present day, the ‘persecuted genius’ legend became a major component of his self-image.”
In fact, Wright had notable professional support and public acclaim at the beginning of his career.
“Even Hollywood paid its respects,” Twombly noted. “Warner Brothers asked him to design sets for The Fountainhead (1949), based on Ayn Rand’s novel by the same name, but when Wright demanded $250,000 for the job — he did not want it — negotiations ended.”
Wright died in 1959, just before his 92nd birthday, a venerable, outspoken sage whom some called a crackpot. But we’d have recognized many of his concerns easily enough.
“Continued growth of the military establishment and the mushrooming of governmental bureaucracy and of corporate hegemony made him despair for the future of democracy,” Twombly noted. “Fearing that centralized authority manipulating a mass society would crush individual liberties, he interpreted American foreign policy as a cover to advance overseas corporate interests and attacked internal anticommunism as a ‘smoke screen’ for political consolidation to further selfish partisan gain.”
Too bad we didn’t listen to the architect. We might have built something better than the shabby, ramshackle structure this country has become.
“By the time he was 12 years old, an apprentice printer in Brooklyn, Walt had lived in about a dozen different houses, each one more cramped than the last. Of the eight Whitman children who survived infancy, one was a mental defective and three were psychic disasters; three were normal, and one became the chief celebrant of what William James called ‘the religion of healthy-mindedness,’” wrote Justin Kaplan in Walt Whitman: A Life.
“Walt’s father … owned a copy of The Ruins, a celebrated attack on Christianity and supernaturalism by the French savant Count Constantin de Volney. Like others who grew up on such literature, Walt believed that a long, dark tyranny over man’s mind and body was at last coming to an end; the Children of Adam would be able to walk in their parents’ garden. Leaves of Grass borrowed the insurgent and questioning spirit of these mentors along with literal quotations from their writings.”
“Words, when he acquired language, became life itself, links to the external world and to his unconscious,” Kaplan wrote, quoting Whitman: “ ‘A perfect writer would make words sing, dance, kiss, do the male and female act, bear children, weep, bleed, rage, stab, steal, fire cannon, steer ships, sack cities, charge with cavalry or infantry, or do any thing that man or woman or the natural powers can do.’ Words were instruments of command and of relationship to a world waiting to be named for the first time.”
Whitman had the dubious benefit of a “…thrifty and national scheme of education devised by an English Quaker, Joseph Lancaster,” Kaplan noted. “Assisted by hierarchies of student monitors, one teacher was able to distribute rote learning, together with fundamental social values and strict notions of the good and the useful, to 200 and more pupils.
“Sometimes he invoked muscular Christianity and resorted to the birch rod, the cowhide strap and, in Whitman’s words, ‘other ingenious methods of child torture,’ mental as well as physical. He demanded unison, unquestioning obedience to regulations, undivided attention and a physical discipline that dictated the precise way to hold and close a book during recitations and the position of hands when students stood at parade rest.
“The Lancaster method was designed to separate children from their ignorance as cleanly and impersonally as Eli Whitney’s cotton gin separated fibers from seeds. It proved to be stupefying even for pupils less jealous of their emotional freedom than Walt.”
Whitman said that the first time he wanted to write anything was “…when I saw a ship under full sail, and had the desire to describe it exactly as it seemed to me.”
Whitman loved swimming with other young men, nude in the fashion of the 19th century, their bodies electric.
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sun-burnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels, when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body,
The circling rivers, the breath, and breathing it in and out…
“The young men ran dancing and laughing along the sand, bathed in the surf, fished, dug clams, speared messes of fat, sweet-meated eel,” wrote biographer Kaplan. “He loved swimming, of a passive sort — ‘I was a first-rate aquatic loafer,’ he recalled. ‘I possessed almost unlimited capacity for floating on my back.’ Cradled, rocked and drowsing, his body rolling ‘silently to and fro in the heave of the water,’ he lay suspended between the depths and the light, between the unconscious and the world of necessity.”
As a young man, Whitman wrote a bad didactic novel about the evils of drink, and edited a newspaper attacking Catholics and the Irish. For solutions, like other Americans, he looked West.
“Continentalism and Union were to shape Whitman’s poetic vision (‘I am large. I contain multitudes’),” Kaplan wrote. “ ‘California’s shores’ were not only the western boundaries of the Union — they were the boundaries of the found and the ‘yet unfound,’ the measure of his psychic growth. (‘Eastward I go only by force,’ Thoreau said, ‘but westward I go free.’)”
Unfortunately, Whitman’s enthusiasm for freedom only went so far. While sympathetic to the plight of individual black people, Whitman regarded their race as unfit for freedom and decried the “ranting” and “abominable fanaticism” of the abolitionists.
“Sylvester Graham, temperance reformer, physiological guru and eponym of the delicious cracker, joined in the battle against dyspepsia, or indigestion, a malady of epidemic proportions for Americans,” wrote Kaplan. “The “Peristaltic Persuader,” as he was called, favored internal and external applications of cold water and repasts of boiled vegetables and bread made from unsifted whole-wheat flour. Alcohol, tea, coffee and red meat were proscribed, on the grounds that they stimulated the lower nature.
“In a celebrated lecture on chastity, Graham argued that there had to be something amiss with any organ that sent priority messages to the brain — an erect penis was no more wholesome than a bloated stomach or an infected finger. According to him and other popular theorists of the day, the seminal loss for a man in one act of sexual intercourse was the equivalent of 40 ounces of blood, a fifth of the body’s supply. This appalling figure was a warning against sexual overindulgence — meaning more than once a month — could cause tuberculosis, convulsions, indigestion and even imbecilism; sex — especially masturbation — withered the thinking organs of men, just as thinking withered the reproductive organs of women. Sex was a major disorder, even a catastrophe; it was a wonder the species had lasted as long as it had.”
And then came Whitman. “By 1855, when Whitman presented himself coatless and bare-necked, his pelvis thrust forward, in his Leaves of Glass frontispiece, men of fashion were dressed from head to toe like black tubes,” Kaplan wrote. “No other poet of his century wrote about the body with such explicitness and joy, anatomizing it at rest and cataloguing its parts, celebrating it as an instrument of love:
“Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex,
“Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.
“No other poet of his century paid such a continuing high price for his boldness, ostracism, ostentatious neglect, ridicule, censorship, suppression.”
“…Whitman saw few encouraging signs in 1850. Democratic hope was at an ebb tide. Two years earlier, the overthrow of Louis Phillipe in France had touched off a wave of revolutions all over Europe. Americans rejoiced in the expectation that soon no throne would be left standing anywhere.
“‘God, ‘twas delicious,’ Whitman wrote,
‘That brief, tight, glorious grip
‘Upon the throats of kings.
“But the forces of liberal nationalism — Emerson’s ‘party of the Future,’ ‘the Movement’ — were crushed with appalling ferocity. The revolutionaries of 1848 died on the battlefields, at the barricades and before firing squads, or they fled into exile. Karl Marx spent the rest of his life in London writing Das Kapital in the reading room of the British Museum. Mazzini and Carl Schurz also took shelter in London; Giuseppe Garibaldi dipped candles on Staten Island. Whitman was to see the Hungarian patriot Louis Kossuth riding up Broadway. Reaction, repression and militarism prevailed once again.”
And then came the Civil War.
Whitman poured his love of young men onto the emotional desert of war, soothing its victims at great cost to himself.
“(H)e dedicated all his resources of physical and emotional strength into service to wounded soldiers, the maimed, the sick and the dying, for well nigh three years — until his strength broke down and he was prostrated for six months, probably the start of his later paralysis,” wrote A.L. Rowse in Homosexuals in History.
“He did an extraordinary job as a nurse-missionary-almoner all on his own; the doctors said that his services in the Washington war-hospitals and camps were more valuable than their own. Today he would be described as a psychotherapist; he was healer, father-confessor, dispenser of consolation and gifts he collected for the men. But his outpouring of love was the most important. A good lady-worker told him that the men were unresponsive. Little did she know: with limbs shattered, sick or dying, they longed to be kissed. Here was one young wounded New Yorker among thousands. ‘He behaved very manly and affectionate. The kiss I gave him as I was about leaving he returned fourfold. I had several such interviews with him. He died just after the one described.
“One cannot go into all that Walt did for these men, writing their letters, always bringing presents, spending all he could collect on them to keep their spirits going, consoling, hearing their prayers, taking their last messages.”
Neil McKenna, in his The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde, reported that in his trip to America in 1882, “Oscar desperately wanted to meet Walt Whitman, whom he and many others considered to be America’s living poet… Whitman’s poetry spoke of the potency of friendship and love between men, particularly between working-class men, and positively oozed homoeroticism. Indeed, the Calamus section of Whitman’s great poetic cycle Leaves of Grass was so intensely homoerotic that it gave rise to the short-lived term ‘calamite’ to denote a man who loved men.”
They spent hours together, drinking elderberry wine. “One of the first things I said was that I should call him ‘Oscar,’” Whitman reported. “‘I like that so much,’ he answered, laying his hand on my knee. He seemed to me like a great big, splendid boy. He is so frank, and outspoken, and manly. I don’t see why such mocking things are written of him.”
And Wilde’s reaction? David Friedman wrote that, “A Philadelphian joked that it must have been hard for Wilde to swallow the homemade wine Whitman had offered. For once Wilde rejected an invitation to snobbery. ‘If it had been vinegar, I should have drunk it all the same,’ he said. ‘I have an admiration for that man which I can hardly express.’”
Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father, was present when Whitman met Henry David Thoreau in 1856.
“Observing the edgy traffic between them, Alcott was reminded of ‘two beasts, each wondering what the other would do, whether to snap or run,”” Kaplan noted.
“He decided that either Henry was afraid Walt would steal his woods or Walt had recognized that for once he had met his match in Henry, ‘a sagacity potent, penetrating and peerless as his own,; an ego as unbiddable, an eye as hawklike. (Emerson surmised that perhaps Henry’s ‘fancy for Walt Whitman grew out of his taste for wild nature, for an otter, a woodchuck or a loon.’)… Each had his own vector of self-willed resistance to a trade- and conformity-minded society.”
Thoreau became an evangelical booster of Leaves of Grass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson urged Whitman to cut some of the more physically vivid passages from the expanding editions of Leaves of Grass. No more “love-flesh swelling and deliciously aching” or “limitless limpid jets of loves hot and enormous.” And please no more references to…
…The young man that wakes, deep at night, the hot hand seeking to repress what would master him;
The mystic amorous night — the strange half-welcome pangs, visions, sweats,
The pulse pounding through palms and trembling encircling fingers — the young man all color’d, red, ashamed, angry;
Whitman asked Emerson if the book would be as good without such passages. Emerson paused, then replied, “I did not say as good a book. I said a good book.”
Years later, Whitman said, “Expurgation is apology — yes, surrender — yes, an admission that something or other was wrong. Emerson said expurgate — I said no, no... I have not lived to regret my Emerson no.”
Whitman’s optimism was hard-pressed during the Civil War. In a single year, 1864, Whitman’s brother George became a prisoner of war and Whitman had his violent brother Jesse committed to the Kings County Lunatic Asylum. His alcoholic, widowed sister-in-law Nancy became a prostitute and gave birth to a son who was run over and killed by a brewery wagon in 1868. And Whitman’s nursing of all those shattered and dying soldiers he loved finally brought him to the verge of physical and mental collapse.
Yet, faced with calamity, Whitman determined “…to be self-balanced for contingencies,
“To confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents, rebuffs, as the trees and animals do.”
Kaplan wrote: “Somehow I seem’d to get identity with each and every thing around me, in its condition,” (Whitman) said at Timber Creek. “Nature was naked, and I was also.” Earth rocks, trees and small living beings were lessons in imperturbability, concreteness and strength. “Being” was superior to “the human trait of mere seeming,” The human habit of “persistent strayings and sickly abstractions.”
Ironically, while Whitman could identify with small living beings, apparently he couldn’t do so with large ones who happened to be black.
Although opposed to slavery, Whitman remained a racist. Watching five black regiments of Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s army march in review, Whitman remarked, “It looked funny to see the president standing with his hat off to them just the same as the rest.”
The following is from a Bill Moyers essay: “American democracy grew a soul, as it were -- given voice by one of our greatest poets, Walt Whitman, with his all-inclusive embrace in Song of Myself:
“Whoever degrades another degrades me,
and whatever is done or said returns at last to me...
I speak the pass-word primeval — I give the sign of democracy;
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms...
(I am large -- I contain multitudes.)”
Author Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has vividly described Whitman seeing himself in whomever he met in America. As he wrote in I Sing the Body Electric:
“-- the horseman in his saddle,
Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performances,
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open dinner-kettles and their wives waiting,
The female soothing a child — the farmer’s daughter in the garden or cow-yard,
The young fellow hoeing corn --”
…Whitman saw something else in the soul of the country: Americans at work, the laboring people whose toil and sweat built this nation.Townsend contrasts his attitude with the way politicians and the media today — in their endless debates about wealth creation, capital gains reduction and high corporate taxes — seem to have forgotten working people. “But Whitman wouldn’t have forgotten them.” She writes, “He celebrates a nation where everyone is worthy, not where a few do well.”
I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other dreamers.
And I become the other dreamers….
Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake.
— Walt Whitman
Whitman was apparently subject to kenshō, that spontaneous mental state described by Dumoulin as “… an insight into the identity of one’s own nature with all of reality in an eternal now, as a vision that removes all distinctions.”
“He had shared the experience of countless people, irreligious by common standards, who had flashes of illumination or ecstasy — even Caliban saw the clouds open and ‘cried to dream again,’” Whiteman biographer Justin Kaplan wrote. “These experiences have a remembered correlative or ‘trigger.’ With Whitman it was the sea, music, the grass, the green world of summer. The rhythm of these experiences is sexual and urgent — tumescence, climax, detumescence — but the ‘afterglow’ may last a lifetime, as it did with him, and he invited it an prolonged it through poetry; the poet was the shaman of modern society — a master of ‘the techniques of ecstasy.’"
In a turn of events that reminded more than one person of Sunset Boulevard, the 69-year-old former silent film star Ramon Novarro was murdered by two brothers who were male hustlers.
At their murder trial, defense attorney Richard Walton told the jury, “Back in the days of Valentino, this man who set female hearts aflutter was nothing but a queer. There’s no way of calculating how many felonies this man committed over the years, for all his piety. What would have happened if Paul had not gotten drunk on Novarro’s booze, at Novarro’s urging and at Novarro’s behest? What would have happened if Novarro had not been a seducer and traducer of young men? The answers to those questions will determine the issue and degree of guilt of Tom Ferguson and the issue and degree of guilt of Paul Ferguson.”
Being beaten to death is what an officer of the court felt free to argue that a gay man deserved in 1969, two months after the Stonewall Riots.
In 1876, during a train journey, a former general and failed attorney named Lew Wallace was humiliated.
While debating religion with the famed agnostic author Robert G. Ingersoll, Wallace realized that he knew next to nothing about his own Christian faith.
Wallace devoted three years to studying the Bible and researching Christianity, and the result was an adventure novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, which eventually outsold every book in the United States except the Bible.
I was fascinated to learn that the first dramatic adaptation of the story was notthe silent film version, but a six-act, three-and-a-half-hour 1899 Broadway play which boasted spectacular lighting, large onstage crowds and, as biographer Andre Soares noted, “…two horse-drawn chariots darting at full speed on parallel treadmills, with a Circus Maximus backdrop revolving behind them.” Half a million people saw the play on Broadway, and more than 20 million saw it on tour throughout the world.
His starring role in the tortuous production of the 1925 film Ben-Hurwould cap Novarro’s career.
Throughout most of the 1920s, Novarro had an intense personal, professional and presumably sexual relationship with movie journalist Herbert Howe.
Their relationship had cooled by 1928, and in a 1931 article for The New Movie Magazine, Howe hinted why. “All his emotions are adolescent,” Howe wrote. “He never hates because he never loves too much. He is not a particularly good companion. As he often said: ‘I have so little to give.’ His life is expressed in acting, not in thought or conversation. You get the essence of him seeing him on the screen. Off the screen he is … a theater with the lights out.”
In April 1930, when he was one of America’s most popular screen stars, Novarro wrote a check for a new car and drove away with it. The embarrassing call came later. His check had bounced.
He’d earned $248,000 in 1928, $170,000 in 1929 and $125,000 for his last movie alone, and had $160 left in his bank account. Novarro had entrusted his business affairs to a (presumed) former lover, Louis Samuel, now married, who had embezzled the money to cover his brother’s stock market losses and to pay the mortgage on his own home in Hollywood Hills, one designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Novarro refused to press charges against his former friend, and scrambled to recover from the devastating financial blow. He was able to secure a refund on his income taxes, which helped him get by.
Declining box office receipts for his pictures cost Novarro his contract with MGM in the mid-1930s. A series of uncertain career moves didn’t help the situation, nor did his growing dependence on alcohol.
On Dec. 12, 1940, on the way home from a birthday party for Laura Hope Crews, a drunken Novarro was seriously injured in a head-on collision. He lied to friends about the accident’s cause and displayed not the slightest interest in the other driver, whom he might have killed.
“The man who could be so generous with his money could also be unabashedly self-centered when trying to shield himself from recriminations — whether from the law, from friends and relatives, or from within,” wrote Soares in Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro. “Even so, such tactics fell far short of total effectiveness. The law would find him guilty of reckless driving a number of times; his family … was ‘extremely embarrassed’ by his drunken driving arrests; and Novarro himself was undoubtedly aware of both his culpability in the car accident and his alcoholism. Despite his attempts at self-deceit, Novarro knew he had a serious problem that he was unable to solve.”
Novarro spent the rest of his life alternating between shameful alcoholic episodes and self-righteous periods of arch-Catholic religiosity, I think at least in part because he no longer had an effective way to express his artistic impulses. He never found a creative path off the dead end of Sunset Boulevard.
Lucille Ball’s step-grandparents once sent her to bed without dinner for looking at herself in a mirror. Think about that.
Apparently because he ate the wrong dish of ice cream, Lucy’s father died of typhoid fever in 1915, when she was 3 years old — an event that shuffled her from relative to relative for years and forever marked her psyche.
“There was a touch of Cinderella in all this, except that there was no handsome prince to ride up and rescue the waif,” wrote Stefan Kanfer in Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball. “All the ingredients for misery were now in place: self-doubt, obsessive-compulsive behavior, insecurity — the sort of psychological afflictions that attend a deprived childhood. As we will see, one way or another she carried these difficulties intact, from her early years to her old age. Yet in her nervous accommodations with the past she came to regard this as the Making of Lucille Ball.”
Lucy concluded that followers had happy young lives, while leaders suffered early trauma.
At 13, Lucy went to New York and landed a chorus line job in the Schubert musical Stepping Stones, only to be sent back home when the producers discovered her age. At 15, she was dating a 21-year-old armed bootlegger, and to get her away from him, her mother DeDe scraped together the money to send Lucy to the prestigious Minton-Anderson School of Drama in New York for a semester’s humiliation.
“In another period, the school might have carried her for a second term, until she acquired some polish and timing,” Kanfer wrote. “But it was Lucille’s misfortune to be there at the same moment another young actress was making her mark. Bette Davis arrived as a powerhouse with more gifts than the rest of the pupils combined.”
The bitterness of that rejection remained with Lucy. “All I learned in drama school was how to be frightened,” she said.
After her grandfather was bankrupted and lost everything because of a shooting accident, Lucy tackled New York again, working in musicals, never for long.
“She began to patrol short-order joints, seeking a ‘one-doughnut man’ — an individual who sat at a counter, ordered doughnuts and coffee, downed the cup, and left a nickel tip after eating only one doughnut,” Kanfer noted. “ ‘I’d do a fast slide onto his stool,’ she said, yell for a cup of coffee, pay for it with his nickel and eat the other doughnut.’ Her finances hit rock bottom the day she reached into her purse and found four cents, one short of the subway fare. ‘So I panhandled for a penny. One well-dressed older gentleman stopped to listen, then offered me a $10 bill. ‘Listen, mister,’ I told him with a withering look, ‘all I want is one penny.’
“Thoughts of suicide entered her head. ‘I thought, ‘I’ll get killed faster in central Park because cars go faster there. But I want to get hit by a big car — with a handsome man in it.’ Then I had a flash of sanity. I said to myself, ‘If I’m thinking this way, maybe I don’t want to die.’ So I regrouped my forces.’”
And found work as a model, posing for, among other things, a topless photograph that would dog her for decades.
Around the time Lucy was shooting the MGM film Du Barry Was a Lady with Red Skelton in the fall of 1942, she had some dental work done.
“A few days after a dentist put in some temporary fillings she heard music inside her convertible,” Kanfer wrote. “She swiveled the dial on the car radio, then realized that the sound was not issuing from the loudspeaker. It was coming from inside her mouth: the fillings were picking up a broadcast from a local station.’
“I even recognized the tune,” Lucy recalled. “My mouth was humming and thumping with the drumbeat, and I thought I was losing my mind. I thought, ‘What the hell is this?’ Then it started to subside.”
“Some days later, an odd rhythm sounded in her molars again,” Kanfer noted. “No music this time — it seemed to be Morse code.” She said the signal was strongest near a particular house. She reported the incident to MGM security officers, who told the authorities, who reportedly discovered an underground radio station run by a Japanese gardener.
“Lucy dined out on the story for months,” Kanfer noted. “She related the incident to Ethel Merman — the stage Du Barry — and Merman passed it along to Cole Porter. It became part of the plot for his next Broadway show, Something for the Boys.”
But was the fantastic story true? The debunker site Snopes says that remains undetermined.
“It would be odd for Lucy to have invented a story about picking up radio signals via her fillings; she was too honest and had plenty of genuine anecdotes of her own to tell,” Snopes said. “Still, the tale is pretty implausible, and documentation about the discovery and arrest of Japanese spies in California in 1942 is curiously lacking. (It’s also unlikely that ‘Japanese spies’ would have been transmitting in Morse code, that the signals would have been received through dental work, or that Lucy could have recognized whatever she was picking up on her fillings as such if they were).”
“During the last months of 1948, as the (radio) scripts (for My Favorite Husband) went in for revisions, Lucy began working on a new film with Bob Hope, Sorrowful Jones, based on yet another Damon Runyon tale,” Kanfer wrote. “Filming during the day and rehearsing at night frazzled her nerves and upset her judgment. As one deadline approached, the story line was still in trouble. ‘(writers) Bob (Carroll) and Madelyn (Pugh) and I worked practically all night,’ (Jess) Oppenheimer wrote. ‘We were confident that we had saved the script. We weren’t too proud of the very last line, but the rest of it was good, and we had all day to work on that one last line.’
“At daybreak Lucy and Don Sharpe arrived. She sank into an overstuffed chair and went through the script, laughing at regular intervals as she turned the pages. According to Oppenheimer, ‘I thought we were home free, until she came to that last line. Well, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were identical twins compared to the transformation Lucy served up.’ She rose, threw the script across the room and yelled, ‘I won’t do this shit!’
“Oppenheimer waited for her to finish. Then he responded: ‘I thought we had a team effort going here. We’re happy to stay up all night or all week, and break our butts to make the script right for you. But not if you’re going to ignore a major rewrite which you loved, and crucify us over one little line, which can easily be fixed. We need quite a bit more respect than that. He took Lucy’s hand and shook it. ‘I can’t say it’s been a pleasant experience working for you, but at least it’s over.’”
Oppenheimer left the building and got halfway down the block before agent and show packager Don Sharpe caught up with him and told him that Lucy was crying and hysterical, and wanted to apologize.
Lucy and Desi created I Love Lucy as a means of keeping their marriage intact, and that’s the one area in which the hit sitcom finally failed.
Desi’s skirt-chasing had been an issue from the first, and the problem was particularly acute when, before the TV show, he’d been on the road with his band.
“One evening Lucy spent an entire phone call accusing her husband of disloyalty, and he yelled at her for being over-suspicious,” Kanfer wrote. “She slammed down the phone. It rang in her room and she picked up the receiver, ready to resume her argument. The voice was not Desi’s; it was the operator’s. She had eavesdropped on the conversation. ‘Why haven’t you called him back?’ she demanded. ‘I know he’s in his room feeling miserable, waiting for you to call him. He didn’t mean any of the things he said and I’m sure you didn’t either, so why don’t you just call him back and make up with him? He’s just a baby.’ Lucy laughed, and did as asked. For that evening, at least, the conversation was filled with apologies and pledges of commitment.”
When I Love Lucy began, the wealthiest person on the set was the cameraman.
Well, the director of photography, anyway. German native Karl Freund had filmed Dracula and Murders in the Rue Morgue, and won an Oscar for The Good Earth. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz knew him from Du Barry Was a Lady, and knew he’d invented a popular light meter, and that he certainly didn’t need to do a sitcom. Yet that’s what Desi wanted him to do.
Kanfer noted that Desi wanted to stage the show as a play, filmed in front of a live audience of 300 with three cameras that were to be synchronized on one sound track. The film could therefore be easily edited from master shot to medium shot to close-up.
That couldn’t be done, Freund told him. Those shots would all have to be lit differently for decent quality.
“Well, I know that nobody has done it up to now, but I figured that if there was anybody in the world who could do it, it would be Karl Freund,” Desi replied.
Intrigued by the project, “Papa” Freund ultimately signed on for union scale. “Papa was loaded anyway,” Desi said. “He could buy and sell Lucy and me three or four times. The money he had made out of the light meter alone, plus a lot of acreage in orange trees he owned in the San Fernando Valley, made him a man of considerable means. The challenge was what got him, and that’s what I was counting on.”
At 24, Lucille Ball had signed a Communist Party membership card to please her socialist grandfather, Fred Hunt. Unknowingly, she had also signed on for a nightmare.
The I Love Lucy show aired during the McCarthy era, and in 1953 ruthless right wingers were determined to use the “scandal” to destroy the show and its star. It took all of Desi Arnaz’s PR wiles to quell the storm. He joked that “The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that isn’t legitimate.”
Kanfer wrote, “Lucy and Desi made no more public statements, going about their business as if nothing had happened, resentful of fair-weather friends and acquaintances who made themselves scarce, and grateful to the handful who went out of their way to express their support. First to pay a call was comedian Lou Costello. Lucy thought of him as an acquaintance more than a pal; she had only been on his radio show a few times. But there he was sitting in the garden, and when Lucy asked him why he was in evidence, Costello replied: ‘You just go about your business. I’m just hanging out here for the day. I thought you might need a friend about now.’ Jack Oakie, Lucy’s costar in the old days, showed up; so did Lionel Barrymore, crippled by arthritis, who visited in a wheelchair.”
A force more powerful than even the House Un-American Activities Committee finally vaporized the storm clouds entirely, and that was the Nielsen and Trendex overnight ratings. I Love Lucy was still the number one show, and a Los Angeles Times headline cheered: “Everybody Still Loves Lucy.” President Eisenhower invited the couple to the White House, and all was well.
But not with Lucy, not entirely. “She could never quite relax after her experience with the congressmen and the fallout that came from their investigation,” Kanfer wrote. “A signature on an old piece of paper had been enough to justify her most pathological fears: one’s livelihood and social position could indeed vanish overnight, and in the end (not) money nor love nor public relations would be powerful enough to keep the jackals away.”
Vivian Vance played sidekick to Lucille Ball all through I Love Lucyand partway through The Lucy Show, then departed, demanding a salary increase she knew would be rejected.
“I was sure she felt I was deserting her,” Vance wrote. “She had a tremendous fear of rejection, and unless she thought it through, it could seem that I was rejecting her, giving her up after 14 years of closeness and clowning, for a husband and a home I wanted to share with him.”
Lucy had other priorities. “Marriage, motherhood, leisure — all were subordinated to the main concern of putting on a good show and turning a profit for the Desilu stockholders,” wrote Kanfer. “Though she determined to get along without her feminine foil, Vivian’s departure did make an enormous difference, not only in the scripts but in Lucy’s outlook. In her view, she had been dropped twice, by her husband and by her closest professional friend.”
“’On the set, she could be a holy terror,’ said one of the technicians who watched Lucy in action. She summarily fired a New York Method actor who mumbled his lines; intimidated directors and cameramen; and sought confrontations, even when the star was as big as she was.
“When she gave Danny Kaye instructions on how to do humor, he snapped, ‘Just who the hell do you think you are?’ Lucy shot back, ‘You’re full of shit, that’s who I am.’ She was not smiling.
“Joan Blondell, who had known Lucy since their starlet days in the 1930s, had become a first-class film and stage comedienne in middle age. Lucy booked her on the show, then expressed dissatisfaction with the way Blondell read her lines. After one take, her friend Herb Kenwith reported, the director yelled ‘Cut!’ and “Lucille pulled an imaginary chain … as if flushing an old-fashioned toilet.’ Blondell turned away but caught the tail end of the gesture. ‘What does that mean?’ she demanded. Lucille said, ‘It means that stunk!’ Joan looked her right in the eye and said, ‘Fuck you, Lucille Ball!’ The studio audience was stunned. You didn’t hear words like that in those days.’ Kaye and Lucy were to make up their differences. Blondell never came back.”
In 1970, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, then the world’s most famous couple, appeared on Lucy’s CBS sitcom Here’s Lucy. Lucy and Liz exchanged increasingly large bunches of roses, but all was not so rosy after Lucy insisted on giving the famous Welsh actor line readings.
Amused, Burton noted that Lucy referred to Liz as “…for the most part as Mrs. Burton or Miss Taylor and occasionally Elizabeth but (she) corrects it to the more formal immediately.” Liz, meanwhile, formally referred to Lucy as “Miss Cunt.”
Lucy overheard her mother warning a director that her daughter was in fact the bitch everyone said she was. Lucy replied, “I am not! Only when I’m working.” Her mother replied, “But that is when people see you.”
Lucy’s state of mind may be deduced from this line, which she was fond of repeating: “When you’re Number One, there’s only one place you can go.”
Here’s a fact I found fascinating, in part because it has been buried beneath the lavish and well-deserved praise Lucy earned for her genius as a comic actor. As president of Desilu, Lucy personally green-lighted both the Mission: Impossible and Star Trek TV series. Without her, those two mini-media empires would likely never have existed.
Mary Wickes was the original Mary Poppins on American television in 1949
From the start, like Bette Davis in Now Voyager, Paul Beals and I suspected that Mary Wickes might be a treasure.
We met her in the summer of 1976 when she was at the Hyatt-Regency in downtown Chicago promoting her short-lived CBS TV show, Doc.
What we didn’t know then is that Wickes, always marching to the beat of her own drummer, would get herself fired from that MTM Productions show by demanding the right to change dialogue she found distasteful.
Affable and chatty, the homely, beloved character actress seemed to be as direct, wisecracking and approachable as the maids and nurses she’d always played. Never a star, she was nevertheless a central figure in Hollywood since the 1930s. It was strange to hear her rattle off names like “Lucy,” “Orson” and “Bette,” seemingly not as an affectation, but simply because these were ordinary friends and colleagues of hers.
Like actor Lyle Talbot, whom I interviewed later, Wickes was one of those fascinating people who had almost literally been everywhere and known everyone.
“Whether nurse, nun or housekeeper, she was always the wry observer peering into a world that she did not entirely belong to,” wrote Steve Taravella in his biography Mary Wickes: I Know I’ve Seen That Face Before. “Intimately a part of whatever was taking place on screen or stage, she was at the same time an outsider — and it was clear to everyone that she had made her peace with this status. Although she was never the lead, she was the one who held my attention. Her persona resonated with me.”
Wickes was the beleaguered nurse in The Man Who Came to Dinner on stage and screen and the housekeeper inWhite Christmas. She was the original Mary Poppins on live television, and the animators’ model for Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians.
Her long experience in comedy left her with a considerable bag of tricks. For example, she developed five variations on the “double take:” the Regular Double Take, the Pigeon Double Take (with neck stretched), the Butterfly Double Take (with multiple quick glances), the Triple Take (each growing in intensity) and the One Where You’re Caught (pretending you didn’t just do a double take).
Born in St. Louis in 1910, Wickes had a quasi-19th century horse-and-buggy childhood, taking family excursions on Mississippi riverboats. “Everybody took their own lunch in baskets,” she recalled. “If you got thirsty, you got a big, wonderful, cold stein if A&W root beer with a big head on it, a lot of foam. And that was lovely, oh my. That hurrying down to the levy to make the boat before it left was lovely.”
Beyond a curse or a blessing, Wickes’ homely looks were finally just a fact she used to her advantage.
“Some time or other, it always gets around to boys, and there was no boy in Mary’s life,” recalled family friend Mary Vahle. “She was always tall, and that’s a drawback. And Mary had a receding chin and a big nose. Boys that age don’t look beyond the surface.”
Taravella noted, “For decades, Mary withstood — as few others could — harsh public mockery regarding her appearance. Callous descriptions — ‘the wrinkle with lips’ is how one character refers to her in a 1990s sitcom — became so routine that they limited Mary’s career in ways she found hard to accept… (But) Mary’s appearance more than enhanced her career; in some ways, it allowed her to have one. Together, her height, her pronounced nose, her receding chin and her attention-grabbing bark drew the notice of casting directors. Such was true from the very beginning.”
Writer and actor Peter Walker said, “I don’t know if Mary ever realized that she was such a homely woman. But it was that homely thing that obviously got her the work. She knew that (her appearance and voice) was where her money was coming from, that she was never going to be the Claire Trevor or the pretty second leading lady. As a businesswoman she was very wise, and she kept her mother and herself very well.”
Never married, Wickes lived with her widowed mother Isabella, and they made a lively and devoted pair.
Though notoriously frugal, Wickes did not stint when it came to entertaining at home.
“Be it lunch, dinner or the afternoon teas she liked to arrange, she was a lavish, generous host who offered liquor and hearty amounts of food, most of which she prepared herself,” Taravella wrote.
“She served with family crystal and silver, and she went out of her way to make her guests comfortable. The food she served was distinctly Midwestern. No matter how famous the guest, Mary’s meals were likely to include chicken salad or chili, homemade brownies and Jell-O. She liked to prepare an appetizer that she called actor’s pâté made of liverwurst, cream cheese, chives, Worcester sauce and dry mustard.”
Wickes was a long-time professional colleague of Bette Davis, a good friend of Doris Day and Vivian Vance and a really close friend of Lucille Ball (who somewhat exploited that friendship by underpaying Mary for appearances on her sitcoms).
Though disappointed that she didn’t land the role of Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy, Wickes became something of a real-life Ethel in occasional antics with Lucy. After Lucy bought a Rolls-Royce that had been owned by her late neighbor Hedda Hopper, the pair had a misadventure while out for a drive when they realized, as darkness fell, that they didn’t know how to turn on the headlights.
Then there was the time Lucy took Wickes shopping for sheets and pillowcases along with a baby chimpanzee Lucy adored. Recalling how Lucy refused to take her own children out in public for fear of being mobbed, her daughter Lucie Arnaz said, “She wouldn’t take me to the market, but she’d take a chimpanzee and a six-foot-tall woman in a long plaid skirt because God forbid she should draw any attention to herself.”
The affection between Lucy and Wickes ran deep, and is evident in the tone of the many letters they exchanged.
In 1973, while caring for Wickes’ plants while she was away, Lucy wrote, “Your plants are thriving, but they ask for you and wonder why you don’t drop by. I think one of them is pregnant if you have any instructions concerning same.”
“If you don’t want to come yourself, Mary, take pity on poor Isabell and let her get drunk once in a while,” Lucy wrote in 1958, inviting Wickes to a party. “You’re much too hard on her. I understand you have ruined her sex life.”
The quip was one few but Lucy could have gotten away with, because Wickes’ moral views were frequently described as Victorian. “In the old days, people who had character didn’t change it with every person they met,” Lucie Arnaz said. “They didn’t change to fit the style or the clothes or to fit the mood, to be hip or whatever. They were who they were. Mary had that in her own character. She had it all her life.”
Wickes caused herself no end of trouble rejecting what she regarded as “blue” material in scripts. But her tolerance could also surprise. Many of her escorts were gay men. “Her notes reveal that — at least with regard to gifts — Mary treated her friends in same-sex relationships the same as her friends in heterosexual relationships,” Taravella wrote.
Perhaps that’s because one of Wickes’ enduring principles was loyalty. Stefan Kanfer, in his biography Ball of Fire, noted how Wickes always looked out for Lucy. “(Wickes) was acting in summer stock in 1979 when she persuaded Lucy to fly to San Francisco for a sentimental journey,” he wrote. “Together the two old friends called on a bedridden Vivian Vance. Most of the day was spent in happy reminiscence between Lucy and Vivian, with Mary off in a corner. The laughter lasted for two hours; afterward the visitors cried all the way to the airport. Vance died that August.”
For all that, Wickes remained a guarded figure, in some ways unknowable.
“Mary lived behind walls, not merely walls against unpleasantness … but also walls of secrecy about her health; walls of fear about her (right-wing) political leanings being discovered; walls of lies about her age; walls, certainly, against physical intimacy,” Taravella wrote.
“These were walls of privacy so great that when friends wrote her apartment number on mail addressed to her, she was angered, fearing others might learn the precise location of her apartment.
“Most notably, she erected walls against any emotional closeness. Mary laughed and joked and told stories, but never really opened up — not even with her closest friends. In virtually every context, Mary placed limits on the warmth she would extend, so much so that emotional reticence is one of the first qualities friends mention when asked about her.”
Whatever Wickes had went straight into her work. She prided herself on her professionalism, badgered other theatrical professionals for assignments and was known to walk into rehearsal halls proclaiming, “It’s Mary Wickes, grand old lady of stage, screen and shortwave radio!”
Actor Richard Chamberlain, who became famous by playing the compassionate, dedicated Dr. Kildare on television, twice experienced what the Japanese Zen tradition calls Kenshō ( Kenmeans “seeing,” shō means “nature, essence.”)
“One hot afternoon, during summer vacation from grammar school, I wandered around in the yard looking for something to do,” wrote Chamberlain in his memoir Shattered Love, describing his 7-year-old self.
“None of my pals seemed to be around, and I was bored. For want of a better idea I climbed the walnut tree and sat on the wall, leaning back against the restful curve. A light summer breeze ruffled the leaves as I watched the occasional car or pedestrian pass on the street. I gazed up at the over-hanging branches and hoped some of our local feathered friends — mockingbirds, blue jays and doves — would come and visit me.
“As I sat there motionless, something absolutely new happened to me. I was filled with total stillness. It was almost as if I wasn’t even breathing, almost as if I’d become a part of the wall, part of the tree. And in this stillness I was observing everything around me with complete neutrality, with no thought at all. There seemed to be observation, but no observer.
“I don’t know how long this lasted — probably not more than half an hour, possibly less. I did not know what was happening to me. I only knew that my thinking went silent, and my sense of self disappeared. I experienced absolute simplicity and peace.”
I had two similar experiences — once when I was about 5, on the sunny lawn in front of our house in Effingham, and another time when I was about 22, watching a fan revolve on a pleasant summer afternoon.
Telling no one of his experience, Chamberlain recalled that he very much wanted to feel that sense of vibrant, alert peace again — but never did, until 60 years later while alone at his beach house, looking out over the Pacific.
Chamberlain had a problem. Growing up with an unstable, overbearing, alcoholic father, he became emotionally withdrawn and guarded, presenting a false image of perfection and fearing his own feelings. And that proved to be no way to win over an audience with the truth of a performance.
“This is a near perfect example of how we endlessly torture ourselves and distort our lives with our own faulty thinking,” he wrote. “There I was, a reasonably talented young actor trying to get work in Hollywood, ruthlessly sabotaging my efforts with distant memories of mean old Dad. My father was far away busily saving people in AA, but I couldn’t help dragging him back into my life. In his absence, I took on his role of suppressing and making me fell impotent. Dad was gone, but I couldn’t let go or all my painful stories about the damage he’d done me and about my inadequacy in his presence. I continued to hate him even though I had assumed his nefarious ways.
“We bamboozle ourselves with largely fictional stories all the time. My father despises me (how can I know that for sure?); anyone who really knows me couldn’t possibly love me; my children don’t appreciate me; my husband doesn’t listen to me; my religion makes me better than you; they should have dealt with me fairly; I’m more important than you because I’m famous; I’m too addictive or stressed to quit smoking; life is so unfair; they should have taken better care of me.
“Byron Katie, a savvy teacher I know, suggests putting our mental stories and beliefs to the test with three questions: 1) Can I really know this is true? 2) What do I get from this story or belief, what does it do for or against me? 3) Who would I be in this situation without this belief?
“Then she suggests we turn it all around and take full responsibility for all the stuff we’re blaming on others. For instance, the story ‘You don’t love me enough!’ becomes ‘I don’t love myself enough, and I don’t love youenough.’ My story ‘My father suppressed and weakened me’ becomes the much more accurate ‘I suppress and weaken myself with my thinking, and I also suppress my father by probably misunderstanding and misrepresenting him.’
“In other words, being a grown-up means taking responsibility for my own life and my own integrity. My father’s integrity or lack of it is none of my business. My business is to come to understand the stifling fictions of my thinking and learn to prefer and honor reality, truth, what is.”
Chamberlain found he learned something about himself by playing characters who were better than he was.
One of his favorites was trapper Alexander McKeag in the James Mitchner miniseries Centennial.
“As it turned out, playing McKeag was a joy and one of my best performances,” he wrote. “I loved the guy, probably because he had all the inner qualities I lacked. He was an anomaly on the rough-and-tumble frontier — he was tough, strong and capable but also sensitive and kind. He was whole and humane. McKeag needed celebrity like a moose needs a hat rack.
“Far more than a number of heroic characters I’ve played over the years, McKeag, without even knowing it, so trusted himself and life that he was comfortable being that rare creature: a humble nobody. And unlike theactor playing him, he was unafraid of the inner silence and vibrant emptiness that informed his soul.
“Folks like McKeag seem to have been born whole, with body, mind and spirit happily integrated, ready to live their lives fully and well. And then there are the rest of us who were with born somewhat broken and in need of considerable fixing or damaged along the way.
“Being one of those in need of a fix, playing the sturdy character of McKeag for several months was a revelation. Every day of shooting Centennial I got to actually experience beingthis extraordinarily together man who could negotiate life’s roughest waters while remaining kind, warm and loving; a man to whom self-doubt was unknown, who had no need of accolades or external validation of any kind. Playing McKeag, I felt the confidence and wholeness I’d always dreamed of.
“Western culture seems to divide us; one part is our individual search for survival and happiness in the competitive world and the other is the possibility of attaining an “inner’ life of spirit. Usually we give the lion’s share of importance to the former, viewing any idea of an inner life with suspicion, fearing any hint of self-indulgence or non-Western hocus-pocus. And yet, I suspect our mysterious inner realms of silence and seeming emptiness, however threatening they are to our controlling ego, are in fact the actual source of our life, intelligence and creativity.”
I don’t think, however, that the point is to be free of self-doubt. It’s not to be afraid of self-doubt, or to give it any undue weight, the kind of weight that drags one down.
“As long as I attach my happiness, my well-being to fame or applause or good reviews or even big paychecks, I’m in trouble. All these things come and go,” wrote Chamberlain. “As long as my well-being depends on your love, I’m in trouble. Personal love can be fickle, it comes and goes. And if my happiness depends on your loving me, my love for you will subtly take a back seat to my need to possess and control you.
“This is my case for detachment. Detachment is usually thought to be cool and distant. It is in fact the opposite. When I am attached to you, I must hang on to you and manipulate you so you’ll stay around — that’s what makes me cool and distant. When my source of happiness is within myself, only then can I appreciate and love you unreservedly, only then can I set you free. When I’m with you, the music is beautiful; when I am alone the music is still beautiful, just a different melody, a different rhythm. Detachment and happiness and love are the best of friends.”
Where Chamberlain says “detachment,” I’d use the term “non-attachment.”
“I understand why the word ‘detachment’ might send chills up your spine,” said mindfulness writer Sandra Pawula.“So let’s set the picture straight. Non-attachment doesn’t mean being cold as a stone. Emotions don’t cease to exist as you learn to let go.You just relate to them differently because you understand their ephemeral nature.”
“You are free because you’re in charge of your mind and emotions instead of them bossing you around,” Pawula wrote. “And, with this freedom, you can taste the distinct flavor of every experience with no need to squeeze it tightly to your chest.”
I call this anecdote “Mr. Chamberlain Deconstructs His Dream House.”
“Martin (Rabbett) and I love houses,” wrote Chamberlain. “A wise friend and teacher of ours says we have house karma. Over the years we’ve created several wonderful houses, always remodeling existing structures. Our lifelong goal has been to design and build our dream house.
“We love living in Hawaii, and for 20 years we’ve had our eyes on a particularly beautiful house site. About three years ago the lot became available, and to our surprise and delight the owner accepted our first offer. This all happened so easily that we assumed our project was blessed.
“This home was to be our final stop and guarantee our future happiness. We hired an architect and created a serene and handsome design that took maximum advantage of the gorgeous setting. We even engaged a top-notch interior designer from the mainland and started thinking about furniture. We were on our way to a nirvana of sand, surf and sunsets.
“We sold our big house in Honolulu, put a lot of stuff in storage and crammed ourselves and the rest of our possessions into our small beach house in the country to wait for building permits and for construction to begin.
“Then, out of the blue, a series of bureaucratic hassles big and small began an endless series of delays and costly legal confrontations. I’ve lost track of how many times we all said with relief, ‘Well, that’s finally over, now we can begin!’ only to be surprised and dismayed by yet another, sometimes whimsical change in official policy. Permissions granted, permissions withdrawn. Our guarantee of happiness was turning into the prescription for a mix of smoldering rage and clinical depression.
“Though we love the sweetness of the people here, over the years we’ve found the State of Hawaii bureaucrats to be self-important, arbitrary and downright unfriendly. Our frustration with this latest lengthy fracas with officialdom led us to think seriously about selling the lot and leaving the islands for good. We both felt worn down, hugely disappointed and unaccountably victimized.
“So where is the Christ, where is the Buddha in this mess of frustrated dreams?
“One recent afternoon, feeling thoroughly bummed out by all this, I sat down in the living room of the beach house we’ve owned for 26 years and took a long look at the absurdity of letting the supposed source of our future bliss, our imagined tropical Shangri-la, cause us so much unhappiness and angst.
“I got very quiet and just looked at our situation as objectively as I could. Gazing out the windows, I noticed the sunny perfection of the day and heard the rhythmic rumble of the waves. The plumeria trees were blooming and scenting the breeze, the doves and mynah birds were gabbing. A lamb stew was simmering in the kitchen. Our much-loved dog was asleep at my feet. There wasn’t a hint of turmoil anywhere. If I was stress out, the cause was nowhere in sight. The cause must be in my own head, in my thinking.
“It was suddenly clear: I had attached my well-being to an imagined dream house and its easy manifestation. Ignoring past experience, I had staked my happiness on cooperative, concerned officials and honest, thrifty, competent contractors (good luck!).
“And I wondered why it’s so easy for me to forget that my sense of well-being is only now in the present. It cannot be dragged in from the past, which is gone, dead and buried, nor can it be found in the future, which doesn’t exist. Well-being is simply being well right now, living with as much integrity, clear awareness and open-heartedness as we can muster, with a willingness to examine whatever barriers we’re putting in the way of our innate if sometimes elusive wisdom.
“When I remember to quiet down and do this, the problems that pollute my thinking and vaporize my wa (inner harmony) become interesting challenges rather than subversive attachments — I’m free to “be well” and at the same time to vigorously deal with the difficulties at hand. I had been victimized only by my own thinking. I was painfully disappointed not by the officials who were just doing what they do for inscrutable reasons of their own, but by my unrealistic expectations.”
Judi Dench had a strange moment in West Africa in the 1960s.
“During the tour, we went to lunch with a man from the British Council, and in the middle of the lunch I suddenly had a premonition that was so strong I asked if I could phone home to England, in a total stranger’s home,” she recalled in her memoir And Furthermore. “I rang home, and Daddy had just had his second heart attack. He had recovered from the first one in 1954, but this one was much more serious, and somehow I sensed it from thousands of miles away.”
Back in England, rehearsing at the Oxford Playhouse, she had a second premonition.
“I had set off from my flat in Regent’s Park Terrace when I suddenly had the strongest feeling that I should go back and ring Daddy. I talked to him and Mummy for about 20 minutes, and then I set off again for the rehearsal, and now I was quite late, just after midday, when usually I am one of the first to arrive. Daddy died later that day, just after midday. I didn’t know he was going to die, it was the same as in West Africa, I just knew I had to talk to him.”
Oddly enough, in Africa Dench had been playing a witch (in addition to Lady Macbeth). In Oxford, she’d been playing the Queen of Fairy in Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist.
Dench, who starred in Cabaret and A Little Night Music, wrote, “The best moment in rehearsing a musical is when the band arrives, after weeks of study with only a piano accompaniment. I first realized that when I did ‘Cabaret’ in 1968. I was sitting in Julian Belfrage’s garden, and that clever actor David Hutcheson asked me how far we were in rehearsal. I said about six weeks, and he said, ‘Wait till the band call.’
“That is electrifying. You are standing there at the beginning, and then you hear the orchestra start up, and it is like an enormous kind of cushion that you are on. It is wonderful, because you are suddenly lifted up with it. It is even more thrilling if you are absolutely sure of the notes you are singing, but it is still thrilling if you are not.”
On playing James Bond’s boss M for almost 20 years, Dench said, “Pierce (Brosnan) and I got on very well indeed, and I loved the line I had rebuking him in one of our early scenes, calling him ‘a sexist, misogynist dinosaur.’
“I became completely drunk with power, because I can’t mend anything, or even put the ironing-board up properly. Suddenly here I am, typing in numbers and a large screen comes up behind me. I have to look as if I have done it. I actually find it quite hard, because I am always talking about things that I don’t understand at all well. But it is just so terribly glamorous playing M in very glamorous surroundings.”
“After a string of films in period costume I went back to my role as M in Casino Royale, this time with a new James Bond, played by Daniel Craig. He is very different from Pierce Brosnan, but both are very good actors with an enormous sense of humor, and that is really important. I think you have got to be self-deprecating as Bond; if you take yourself too seriously in it, or in anything really, it isn’t good.” ---
Dench played dozens of roles in Shakespeare, including, with Anthony Hopkins, the title role in the lengthy Antony and Cleopatra.
“He never minded not being in the fifth act; far from it, he loved it. In his death scene at the top of the monument, as he was lying there cradled in my arms, he used to whisper, ‘I’m going upstairs to have a nice cup of tea. You do Act V, and I’ll have a nice cup of tea.’”
Dench recalled a group of American college students who knew her only from television. “One of them asked, ‘Miss Dench, do you ever get a chance to do any classical theatre?’ What could I say but, ‘Oh yes, once or twice.’”
Background: Sodium intake, but not potassium or fluid intake, has been associated with higher renal cell cancer (RCC) risk. However, risk factors may differ by molecular subtypes of the tumour. In renal physiology, electrolyte and water homeostasis is facilitated by ion transport mechanisms (ITM). Aberrant regulation of ITM genes, for example by promoter CpG island methylation, may modify associations between sodium, potassium and fluid intake and RCC risk.Methods: We identified ARHGDIG, ATP1A1, SCNN1B and SLC8A3 as ITM genes exhibiting RCC-specific promoter methylation and down-regulation. Methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to analyse promoter CpG island methylation in tumour DNA of 453 RCC cases from the Netherlands Cohort Study (n = 120 852) after 20.3 years of follow-up. Diet was measured at baseline using food-frequency questionnaires. Cox regression analyses were restricted to clear-cell (cc)RCC (n = 306) and stratified by tumours with no, low (1 gene) and high (≥ 2 genes) methylation.Results: Sodium intake (high vs low) increased ccRCC risk particularly in tumours with a high methylation index: hazard ratio (HR) [95% confidence interval (CI)]: 2.04 (1.16–3.58), whereas heterogeneity across the methylation index was not significant (P-heterogeneity = 0.26). Potassium intake was differentially associated with ccRCC risk (P-heterogeneity = 0.008); the risk for high (vs low) potassium intake was low for unmethylated tumours [HR (95% CI): 0.60 (0.36–1.01)], but high for tumours with a high methylation index [HR (95% CI): 1.60 (0.96–2.65)]. Risks similarly differed for fluid intake, though not significantly (P-heterogeneity = 0.54).Conclusions: Our findings suggest for the first time that dietary intakes are differentially associated with ccRCC risk according to molecular subtypes defined by ITM gene-specific promoter methylation.
“Helen Gahagan Douglas … had not the slightest interest in politics until the late 1930s. Her conversion was as dramatic as a first-act curtain in the theater.”
Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas, a former movie star and opera singer, was a principled beacon of liberal light following the death of FDR.
She had once played She Who Must Be Obeyed, and when she ran for Senate in California, Congressman Richard Nixon regarded her as She Who Must Be Waylaid.
Helen Gahagan Douglas
“While sitting in a Viennese coffeehouse with an English music critic who was a friend of several colleagues, the two discussed her new contract,” wrote Sally Denton in The Pink Lady: The Many Lives of Helen Gahagan Douglas. “Suddenly, the man leaned in conspiratorially and whispered, ‘Of course, Miss Gahagan, you are pure Aryan?’
“Helen felt sick to her stomach as the man attempted to recruit her to the Nazi cause. ‘Aryans such as we,’ he told her, ‘(have) a duty to defend the superior race against Jews.’ At first she couldn’t speak. Until that moment the perspective of Jews in the world was a purely abstract notion. Now, as the Englishman spouted the familiar rantings of Hitler and Goebbels while asking her to enlist the support of fellow Nazi sympathizers in America, she felt forever changed. Her ‘Irish blood at the boiling point,’ she tore up the contract and left for home.”
It didn’t help the English critic’s case that her husband, the film actor Melvyn Douglas, was a Jew.
But it was the Dust Bowl that really blew Helen Gahagan Douglas into politics.
Once upon a time, specifically in California during the Dust Bowl 1930s, those much-despised “illegal aliens” were American citizens who’d fled West.
“Confined to filthy camps, thousands of starving families were ‘herded about like animals,’ living without toilet or showers, while local officials and growers fought to keep the federal government from supplying the migrants with food and medical supplies, fearing that they would form permanent communities, join unions and, most significant, interfere with the cheap Mexican laborers they were shuttling across the border and paying slave wages,” wrote Denton.
“Importing labor was far cheaper than establishing schools and health-care clinics for American migrant workers, so the growers used every method possible, including force, to get the migrants to move on.
“Helen and Melvyn had attended dinner parties at which the subject of the ‘Okies’ was raised and they were frequently appalled at the lack of compassion shown by many of their peers. They ‘listened with astonishment to people making comfortable statements about how the situation was exaggerated or that the migrants should stop being so lazy and dirty.’”
Guided by Eleanor Roosevelt, she became more involved in politics even as she became less involved in her marriage. After Melvyn started a serious affair with a co-star, they separated, but would never divorce.
“I suppose it is commonplace that most long-time couples divide areas of emotional response, even as they share responsibilities and material goods,” Melvyn said years later. “Certainly our friends, the Roosevelts, had done something like that.”
Rising in politics, Helen had few illusions about it. “I was raised in a household of dominating men, and I learned early that men guard their authority over women jealously,” Helen said. “As for politics, they sincerely believe public life to be a male bailiwick. They reason that men have been running the country for the past two hundred years and are meant to do so for centuries to come. In short, men would never share power with women willingly. If we wanted it, we would have to take it.”
Fighting a conservative tide to keep the liberal Henry Wallace vice president in 1944, Douglas gave an eloquent speech at the Democratic National Convention.
“The Democratic party is the true conservative party,” she said. “We have conserved hope and ambition in the hearts of our people. We are the conservative party. We have conserved the skills of their hands. We have husbanded our natural resources. We have saved millions of homes and farms from foreclosure and conserved the family stake in democracy.
“We have rescued banks and trust companies, insured crops and people's savings. We have built schools. We have checked the flooding rivers and turned them into power.
“We have begun a program to free men and women from the constant nagging fear of unemployment, sickness, accident—and the dread of insecure old age. We have turned a once isolated, flood-ravished, poverty-stricken valley, the home of four and a half million people, into what is now a productive, happy place to live—the Tennessee River Valley. We have replanted the forest, re-fertilized the soil. Ours is the conservative party.
“We have guarded children, protected them by labor laws, planned school-lunch programs, provided clinics. Ours is the conservative party. Ours is the party that has created laws which have given dignity and protection to the working men and women of this country. Ours is the party that has made the individual aware of the need for his participation in a true democracy. We are the conservative party.
“We have conserved the people's faith in a people's government—democracy.”
Elected to Congress in 1944, Douglas was often compared to her glamorous right-wing counterpart there, Clare Booth Luce, the playwright and wife of Time Inc. founder Henry Luce.
“Driving cross-country with her secretary Evie Chavoor, and a friend, Jarmila Marton, having decided to make the move to Washington by automobile, the women tuned the radio to a morning news broadcast,” Denton wrote. “They listened with amusement to the announcement that Helen had defeated Luce as one of the 10 best-dressed women in public life.
“The rookie congresswoman had broken a cap on her front tooth, leaving a gap and stump when she opened her mouth to smile. Evie ‘turned around and looked at Helen, and there she was in the back seat with her terrible sloppy pants on … huddled in a blanket, her hair all streaming down.’ The women howled with laughter, wishing a photographer could see her in such a state.”
Douglas understood, though, that the trivial focus on women’s looks was a means of undermining their power. “Congresswomen’s ideas should rate above their clothes and looks,” she said. “Why this emphasis on the sexes anyway, in a serious thing like government?”
But there was nothing phony about her, nothing fake. She was a proponent of what philosophers call “virtue ethics,” giving a fair summary of it in this quote: “Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains.”
The liberal and idealistic Douglas was waylaid by the rising, conniving and unprincipled Nixon, sounding an ugly theme that has echoed in American politics right into the 21stcentury.
Nixon’s dirty tactics — among them smearing Douglas as a Communist and sponsoring calls to ask voters if they were aware that her movie star husband was “a Jew” — earned him the apt, lifelong nickname Tricky Dick. But Douglas was also hampered by her own lofty idealism and California’s Chinatown-like civic corruption. And the times were against her, the 1950 election coinciding with both the rise of McCarthyism and the height of the Korean war.
“There was the United States fighting communism and I was the person who said we should limit the power of the military and try to disarm the world and get along with Russia,” Douglas said.
“The worst moment, a sight I couldn’t shake, was when children picked up rocks and threw them at my car, at me. I knew that in order to survive I would have to accept the rocks and the Nixon campaign, shrug them off and move on. I wondered if I would be able to do it.”
She was, finding herself exhausted but strangely calm after Nixon’s huge victory. “I was so pleased that I had escaped the terrible burden of hating Richard Nixon that I was almost elated,” she said.
Nixon, in later years, at least feigned regret over his behavior in the campaign. “Years later, asked by British publisher David Astor to explain his campaign tactics, Nixon reportedly ‘cast down his eyes with a look of modest contrition’ and explained, ‘I want you to remember that I was a very young man,’” wrote Anthony Summers in The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon. “In 1950, (Nixon) was 37 and a veteran of four years in the House of Representatives.”
Douglas summed it up simply: “There’s not much to say about the 1950 campaign, except that a man ran for Senate who wanted to get there, and didn’t care how he did it.”
After Nixon revealed his true character to the world in Watergate, and was driven from office in shame, Douglas had the last laugh. But she didn’t laugh. She mourned.
“If the national security is involved, anything goes,” she said in 1973. “There are no rules. There are people so lacking in roots about what is proper and improper that they don’t know there’s anything wrong in breaking into the headquarters of the opposition party.”
After Nixon’s resignation, a bumper sticker started appearing on vehicles throughout California: “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Helen Gahagan Douglas.”
Her secretary Nan Stevens said, “People rather expected that she would be gloating over Richard Nixon finally being found out, but she was only said. She thought it terrible for the country and for America’s reputation abroad. I know that makes her sound almost too good to be true, but she was good. I’m not saying Helen didn’t have feet of clay. But you had to look awfully hard to find her tiny clay feet.”
Douglas and her husband often led separate lives. She had an affair with, among others, Lyndon Baines Johnson, but became estranged from with him during his presidency over her support for disarmament and opposition to the escalating Vietnam War.
But Douglas and Melvyn were always good friends, and he made an impassioned radio speech for her during her doomed Senate campaign. “It is easier — as a matter of fact it is the easiest thing in the world — to call people of good will dirty names, to call them Communists,” he said.
Melvyn was at her side when she died of cancer in 1980, and he wrote, “She was entranced always by the light. In every house we ever occupied, she wanted the windows to be wider. She always thought no room could have too many windows … She was always saying, ‘Look at the light! Isn’t it beautiful? Shewas the light. And she was beautiful.’”
For Kingsley Amis — lionized novelist, acclaimed wit, English sophisticate — one of the happiest moments of his life arrived while he was in Champaign-Urbana, IL, just a few miles north of here.
In March 1959, while spending a year at Princeton, the novelist traveled to the University of Illinois to lecture on the topic The Angry Young Men and After. Amis was often an anxious traveler and a heavy drinker, but not this time.
“On the afternoon of his lecture, after a single drink at lunchtime, ‘I reached a state of dazzling euphoria, as has happened to me only three or four other times in my life, and never since,’” his biographer Zachary Leader wrote in The Life of Kingsley Amis.
“At the lecture itself, and the party afterwards, ‘I was at the apex of my form.’ As the party finished, Amis overheard one faculty wife ask another, ‘How much do you think there is in national character. Have you ever met a reserved Englishman?”
Pleasure seemed to be the point of the Amises’ year in Princeton.
“As a couple, the Amises ‘inspired a whole year of husband- and wife-swapping,’” Leader wrote. “Amis made passes at every attractive woman he saw, regardless of marital status. He propositioned Betty Fussell while she stood in the bathroom washing out a nappy. He made a pass at Mary Keeley, at Gene Davis, at Liz Moynahan, at Jan Richardson, at Phil Fraser, all married to friends. ‘It was compulsive,’ remembers Keeley, but ‘if you said no it was all right … he wouldn’t press it with people who would have a problem, but otherwise he never gave up.’
“‘You had to look to your wife,’ Russell Fraser remembers. ‘What he said to me when I bristled at him was ‘Nothing personal, Old Man,’ and in a very extraordinary way that must have been so.’
“A number of the passes led to affairs, several of them serious. ‘There was no scandal left in who had slept with Kingsley,’ Betty Fussell wrote. ‘Who hadn’t?’”
Amis wrote a poem about a fairly typical day in which his narrator returns home after a “fearsome thrash with Mrs. No-Holds-Barred” to find that his wife has kept his dinner warm.
Nice bit of haddock with poached egg, Dundee,
Buckets of tea, a light ale or two,
And ‘Gunsmoke,’ ‘Danger Man,’ the Late Night Movie
Who’s Doing Better, then? What about you?
In Leader’s biography, Amis comes off as talented and honest but repellently selfish, something like his character Roger Micheldene in One Fat Englishman: “Of the seven deadly sins, Roger considered himself qualified in gluttony, sloth and lust but distinguished in anger.” Amis displayed something of an only child’s greed, saying more than once that he wanted “more than his share” and that before anybody else got served any.” His childhood also left him a legacy of fears. He wouldn’t fly, and he had an absolute horror of the dark, and of being left alone.
In Leader’s book, George Orwell is quoted as saying, “It is probable that many people who could consider themselves extremely sophisticated and ‘advanced’ are actually carrying through life an imaginative background which they acquired in childhood.” Amis had a flair not only for comic literary invention but also for recognizing the good qualities of popular culture. To that end, Amis wrote the first and best of the James Bond novels not penned by Ian Fleming himself, Colonel Sun.
This sophisticated novelist also wrote a book-long analysis of Bond, and had a lifelong affection for jazz and science fiction.
“Leader begins by asserting that Amis ‘was not only the finest British comic novelist of the second half of the 20th century but a dominant force in the writing of the age,’ wrote Andrew Motion in the Guardian. ‘He then outlines the six themes that shape his book: the influence of Amis’s early upbringing, ‘the aggression which is so marked a feature of his character and writings,’ his ‘astonishing energy,’ his sense of ‘writing as a craft or profession,’ his ‘hostility to distinctions between high culture and low,’ and his ‘lifelong obsession with egotism, selfishness [and] inconsiderateness.’’
No wonder he became a right winger.
“It’s easy to think of other lives that have turned to comedy as a means of coping with anxiety, but in Amis’s case the solution was remarkably bold,” Motion said. “To start with, he took his cue from jokey relatives, relishing extravagant stories and turning himself into a brilliant mimic: it was an effective way of making friends and influencing people. Soon, though, he sharpened his wit into a device for cutting people down to size, and for characterizing an entire epoch’s hypocrisies and silly self-deceptions.”
Amis had a rigorous early 20thcentury education at the City of London School, a day school for boys on the banks of the Thames near the Millennium Bridge. And he excelled at it.
“When Martin Amis became a writer, he and his father often talked late into the night about literature and other matters,” Leader wrote. “The son would marvel at the father’s memory: ‘My God, he knows all English poetry.’ Ten lines here, twenty lines there, of Shakespeare, Milton, Marvell, Rochester, Pope, Gray, Keats, Wordsworth, Byron, Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, Housman, Owen, Kipling, Auden, Graves and of course (Philip) Larkin.”
Here’s an example of the kind of teaching novelist Kingsley Amis got, in this case from the Rev. C.J. Ellingham at the City of London School, who said: “Vigorous English is not merely to be used when you are excited or angry. Any English which does its work well, and shows exactly what the writer means, is vigorous. Feeble writing leaves the reader to do all the work.”
Ellingham went on to say: “Do not try to bluff the reader. It is your work to describe, and if your words are inadequate, no verbal device will make the reader do your work for you. If you are describing a sunset, and feel that ‘the sunset was beautiful’ is not enough, it is a bluff to write ‘the sunset was amazingly beautiful.’ You have not avoided the duty of describing the sunset. You have made your task harder, for now you must show that it was amazing as well as beautiful.”
“‘All Old English and nearly all Middle English works produced hatred and weariness in nearly everybody who studied them,’ Amis recalls. ‘The former carried the redoubled impediment of having Tolkien, incoherent and often inaudible, lecturing on it.’ (Tolkien, he wrote elsewhere ‘spoke unclearly and slurred the important words, and then he’d write them on the blackboard but keep standing between them and us, then wipe them off before he turned around.’)”
In a poem, Amis described the qualities that attracted him to Hilary Bardwell, the girl who would become his first wife.
In ’46 when I was twenty-four
I met someone harmless, someone defenceless
But till then whole, unadapted within;
Awkward, gentle, healthy, straight-backed,
Who spoke to say something, laughed when amused…
It helped that she was unintimidated by him and that she understood his fears, for example of walking home alone at night. She also recognized his adolescent streak of selfishness, apparent in what Leader calls his “….ambivalences, the sort that led him to argue Hilly first into and then out of bed, then to be angry with himself for having done so. ‘Women appear to me as basically dull, but as basically pathetic too,’ he writes… ‘and while this makes us annoyed, it still doesn’t allow us to say rude things to them, about them, It is one’s very indifference to their feelings that turns one’s anger into pity a-bim a-bom a-bem-bammy-bum.’”
Amis and Hilly were hurried into marriage by a pregnancy, after strongly considering an abortion. Philip Amis (named for Amis best friend Philip Larkin) Aug. 15, 1948, and Amis wrote this to Larkin: “My little son has very fair hair and a conical head (it will not stay conical, they said), and a face like that of an aging railway porter who is beginning to realize his untidiness had meant he’ll never get that ticket collector’s job he’s been after for 20 years. His weight, they said, would be about eight pounds. I don’t know what this business is supposed to make you feel; I feel just the same as before. Hilly is very happy and glad, as I am, to have something to name after you.”
Larkin and his girlfriend Ruth Bowman visited the Amises a couple of months later, and Ruth noted that while they seemed happy together, she cast a cold eye on Amis’s “detached viewed of marriage and fatherhood.”
“Amis and Larkin spent most of the visit closeted together ‘playing jazz records, drinking and having a thoroughly and exclusively masculine good time,’” Leader wrote. “Ruth liked and admired Hilly but felt sorry for her. She seemed ‘permanently tired out,’ yet ‘accepted her new life placidly enough, and put me to shame with her even temper and unfailing good humor.’
“Only once did Ruth see Hilly angry. On a fine afternoon she and Hilly set out to walk to Witney, leaving the baby in Amis’s care. The sleeping infant was put in his pram in the garden and Amis was instructed to bring him in immediately if the weather turned. In the middle of the walk, there was a sudden, heavy thunderstorm and Hilly, worried, insisted they return home straight away. On opening the front door, the two women were hit by the sound of jazz at full volume, ‘but of pram and baby there were no sign. Poor Hilly dashed outside to find a very wet baby lying in sodden blankets. Kingsley was mildly surprised at his wife’s rage. He assured her he had no knowledge of rain.’”
“Kingsley Amis was a lenient father,” his other son, novelist Martin Amis, later reported. “His paternal style, in the early years, can best be described as amiably minimalist — in other words, my mother did it all.”
At age 20, pregnant with Martin, Hilly found and read Amis’s journal. “She was bored and couldn’t stop herself,” Leader wrote. “It contained explicit references not only to other women but to how he hadn’t wanted a child. There was detailed description of a pass he made at Hilly’s best friend, which she resisted at first but finally succumbed to. There were pornographic passages. There were also passages about Hilly, including tender and tormented passages. ‘Why is Hilly crying as if her heart would break? I can’t bear to hear somebody break her heart like this.’
“Hilly knew told Amis she’d read the journal and never said anything to the best friend, but she half suspected Amis knew. ‘He’d leave it around with private written on it,’ she recalled; ‘he quite liked torturing me in a funny way.’”
Amis wouldn’t fly, but traveled extensively by land and sea. “Jane remembers the train journey from St. Louis as ‘splendid;’ it took three days and two nights to reach Mexico City,” Leader wrote. “Here Amis experienced his first earthquake, a 40-second tremor. ‘No damage,’ he reported to the Conquests on 5 February (1968), ‘but by Christ I thought the old coronary was upon me.’
“The touring began with a trip to Acapulco, which everyone hated and where Amis’s suitcase was stolen from the car roof-rack within 30 seconds of arrival (the suitcase contained nothing important to Amis, only every item of expensive tailoring he possessed). The one good thing Amis had to say about Acapulco was that it supplied him with a possible opening sentence for a James Bond story: ‘Bond had never liked Acapulco.’”
“Sex is a momentary itch, love never lets you go.”
— Kingsley Amis
“It is no wonder that people are so horrible when they start their life as children.”
— Kingsley Amis
“Self-criticism must be my guide to action, and the first rule for its employment is that in itself it is not a virtue, only a procedure.”
— Kingsley Amis
“Outside every fat man there was an even fatter man trying to close in.”
“I don’t know of anything prettier than a scissortail flyin' through the sky!” — Geraldine Page in A Trip to Bountiful
Born in Kirksville, Missouri, the daughter of an osteopath, the actress Geraldine Page grew up in Chicago, where she walked home from piano lessons lost in thought, “…looking at the old houses on the quiet streets, and at the wet leaves on the sidewalks.”
I still love walking,” she wrote in 1961 for the book The Player: A Profile of an Art. “Every once in a while, I’ll walk from Times Square to Greenwich Village, where I live.
“I always wanted to be good at something, to be somebody. I used to read biographies constantly, to find out how people did it.”
“I had been raised on the movies, and was addicted to them, but it never entered my head that I could be a movie actress, because I thought I wasn’t good-looking enough. Besides, nice girls from Methodist families didn’t drink or smoke or become movie actresses. Becoming an actress at all was bizarre and presumptuous, glorious and awful, all at the same time.
“I didn’t really know there was any professional acting outside the movies until the drama director for our young people’s group took us to the Goodman Theatre,” she recalled. “After getting out of high school, in 1942, I spent the summer working at Kresge’s to earn money for the Goodman Theatre School. It was a wonderful job, in a store on the corner of Sixty-third and Halsted — the wildest corner in Chicago. I sold powder puffs and Kleenex, and loved it.
“I took the full three-year course at the Goodman School, and have never been happier. All day long, I was doing what I was actually interested in — speech and diction, body movement, history of the theatre. We acted in front of live audiences right away. We didn’t just sit around and theorize. I was hungry for everything. I was insatiable. The student directors at the school found their ideal subject in me. They’d have to con most of the other first-year students into acting in one-act plays they directed, but I’d volunteer for allof them. I’d run from one to another. I’d be in at least five at one time.”
It paid off. Page made her Broadway debut in 1953 and earned Tony Award nominations for Sweet Bird of Youth (1959–60), Absurd Person Singular (1974–75), Agnes of God (1982) and Blithe Spirit (1987) while winning Golden Globe Awards for Summer and Smoke(1961) and Sweet Bird of Youth (1962). She got Emmy Awards for two Truman Capote dramas: A Christmas Memory (1966) and The Thanksgiving Visitor (1967). She was nominated for Academy Awards in Hondo (1953), Summer and Smoke (1961), Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), You're a Big Boy Now (1966), Pete 'n' Tillie(1972), Interiors (1978) and The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984), and she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for playing Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful (1985).
“For years, I was haunted with the question, ‘How did she do that . . . how did she hold me and move me so, and, how can I do that?’ ” said actress Cicely Tyson, recalling Page’s performance in a production of The Cherry Orchard.“The answer is, she went to the marrow of the bone and found the essence.”
I know what Tyson meant. At least two of Page’s film characters — those in Summer and Smoke and A Trip to Bountiful — have always haunted me with their vulnerability.
“The main thing is the ability to control your instrument, which, in the actor, is yourself,” Page said. “Look the way you want the character to look. Sound the way you want the character to sound. Once you’ve trained the instrument to do what you want, you’re in control and you’re free.”
“Convincing an audience that I am somebody else makes me feel that I am in control of something. To feel that you, and only you, are in control gives you the most wonderful sense of freedom.”
Page had an affinity for the plays of Tennessee Williams, who likened her to a quote by Oscar Wilder: “She lives the poetry she cannot write.”
“I’m a dreamer,” Williams told author James Grissom in 1982. “I anticipate events, emotions, outcomes, and I am always disappointed. Gerry does not dream until a task is at hand, and she dreams with the assistance of a writer and a director and a design crew, so her dreams find manifestation, even if she is never satisfied with the final presentation. I could learn so much from her. I haven’t learned yet to not dream of or for anything, unless it is directly related to work. The people in our daily midst are not deserving of our dreams. We must be like Gerry and walk and move and take care of daily events, but we must not commit to these activities our priceless ability to transform through a dream.”
Page had a different take on all that, expressed in Grissom’s book Follies of God. “But you see, dreaming is a negative thing, in a way,” she said. “Dreams come when we’re asleep or unconscious or drugged or near death. We see white light and dead friends and relatives in a sort of dream when the brain recedes. It’s very poetic, but it’s not a state in which I care to work. I need all of my senses when I’m working. I need to remember and to be alive and afraid and able to edit and censor and evaluate.
“There’s an age to dream, and I’m past that. So was Tennessee. So are you. The dreams are the first act, I guess. The overture. And the work begins. One should always be beginning to work. And then you allow others to dream.”
Married to violinist Alexander Schneider from 1954 to 1957, Page then wed an actor six years younger, Rip Torn, in 1963. They remained married until her death, and had three children.
With a certain Method synchronicity, the actress simply disappeared while playing Madame Arcati in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre in 1987.She did not appear for either of the show’s two Saturday performances on June 13. At the end of the evening performance, the play’s producer announced her death, of what turned out to be a heart attack, at age 62.
Reading the unfinished autobiography of the actor Clifton Webb, I learned he was born in Indianapolis in 1889. His stage-struck mother Mabelle Parmelee, with whom he lived all her life, came from Coles County, IL, where she was listed in the 1870 census.
In other words, Mr. Belvedere sprang from here!
Clifton Webb in the noir mystery film "Laura"
“Clifton Webb was a most unlikely movie star,” wrote biographer David L. Smith. “In a day when all leading men were supposed to be strong, virile and brave, he was a misogynist hero. Most movie stars of his day were supposed to have women melting in their arms. Webb had a considerably different approach. He said proudly, ‘I have destroyed the formula completely. I’m not young, I don’t get the girl in the end and I don’t swallow her tonsils, but I have become a national figure.’
“He was one of the most consistent moneymakers in Fox history. The movie-going public loved him, overlooking his well-known status as a bachelor and the fact that he lived with his mother all his life. For more than 15 years, he was a top-billed leading man who rivaled most other leading men of that day. Not bad for an actor who made his first major movie at age 55.”
Known for being smug, snide and condescending — and obviously gay in an era that blanched at the very idea — Webb somehow turned those barriers into steps to stardom. The Indianapolis native was assumed to be a Londoner even by Londoners. The character actor became a notable leading man. An accomplished former dancer, he always had a winning air of confidence.
Praised for the star-studded parties he and his mother threw, Webb replied dryly, “Fascinating people always attract fascinating people.”
In 1950, Clifton Webb slipped into the role of slightly swishy superman Mr. Belvedere as easily and effectively as one of the elegant suits that kept him on the best-dressed lists for years. The hit film Sitting Pretty inspired two sequels.
A kind of dandyish Derek Flint, Belvedere was an author who was posing as a babysitter to gather material, Belvedere was an expert at dancing, child psychology, yoga, geography and anything else that’s required.
Twentieth Century-Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck loved the character, and said: “The wonderful thing about Mr. Belvedere is his superior attitude, his sureness, and it is amazing that an audience will completely believe whatever he tells them.”
That sure, superior hand came naturally to Webb. “A scene in the film (Sitting Pretty) required Mr. Belvedere to play the piano,” Smith wrote. “As he is playing, he is asked, ‘Beethoven?’ And he replies, ‘No, Belvedere.’ When Webb saw this scene in the script, he said to director Elliot Nugent, ‘We could play it true to type and use the concerto I wrote.’ Nugent asked, ‘Do you write music too?’ Webb replied, ‘Certainly.’ Webb arranged to play his concerto for Nugent and music director Alfred Newman. Both agreed it was perfect for the film. Webb told them he had written it many years ago as a tribute to Jeanne Eagels, to whom he was greatly devoted. He named it Rain,after her greatest stage play. He said he hadn’t written it down yet, but could if he wanted to. Thus the concerto that Webb plays in the film was his own composition.”
But this effortlessly accomplished man had an Achilles’ heel: mother. He was literally inconsolable when she died in 1960 at age 91. Noel Coward tried to help, but noted, “Poor Clifton is still, after two months, wailing and sobbing over Mabelle’s death. As she was well over 90, gaga, and had driven him mad for years, this seems excessive and over-indulgent. He arrives here (in Jamaica) on Monday and I’m dreaming of a wet Christmas. Poor, poor, Clifton. I am, of course, deeply sorry for him but he must snap out of it.”
When he didn’t, Coward was driven to snapping out one of his great bon mots: “It must be tough to be orphaned at 71!”
Webb survived only another five years, but he lives on still, not merely as the insufferably superior Lynn Belvedere, but also in leading roles he played in a surprisingly hefty number of durable classic films, including Laura,The Razor’s Edge, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Man Who Never Was, Woman’s World, Mister Scoutmaster, The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker and the 1953 Titanic. The latter concludes with a powerful scene in which Webb’s doomed character Richard Sturges embraces and gives courage to his young son, stoically ignoring the fact that had learned shortly before — that the boy isn’t really his.
Webb also continues to entertain in canine form, any time someone watches Jay Ward’s famed Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Webb was the model for the off-handedly superior time-traveling beagle, Mr. Peabody, who owned an orphan boy.
49,99 EUR Speziell f?r den gro?en Hund gedacht ist dieses extra breite und mit viereckigen Ziernieten dicht besetzte Halsband. Handwerklich in Deutschland verarbeitete handselektierte Lederh?ute sorgen f?r eine lange Lebensdauer. Pflegeleicht und weich bietet es Ihrem Hund einen hohen Tragekomfort. Eine zus?tzliche Nyloneinlage sorgt f?r Stabilit?t und Rei?festigkeit. Das Halsband ist genietet und mit verchromten Beschl?gen versehen. Farbe: Braun Breite: 50 mm Gesamtl?nge: 50 cm Verstellbar ca. von 33 bis 39 cmVintage - edel und einzigartig. Die Halsb?nder ?ppig besetzt mit modischem Strass oder Ziernieten. Die Vintage-Reihe umfasst besonders edle Lederleinen und Halsb?nder in modischen Trendfarben. Hergestellt aus weichem Rindnappaleder sind sie sehr strapazierf?hig und trotzdem angenehm weich. Durch das doppelt gebuggte Leder besonders schonend zum Fell und wegen der glatten Oberfl?che besonders abweisend gegen Feuchtigkeit und Verschmutzung.
Neil Simon — a boy made pathologically self-reliant by his parents’ shaky-as-a-quake marriage — quoted Heraclitus to describe his journey.
“If character is fate, as the Greeks tell us, then it was my character to become a playwright, not my destiny,” Simon observed in his memoir Rewrites. “Destiny seems to be preordained by the gods. Fate comes to those who continue on the path they started on when all other possible roads were closed to them. Fate is both your liability and your hope.
“For a man who wants to be his own master, to depend on no one else, to make life conform to his own visions rather than to follow the blueprints of others, playwriting is the perfect occupation. To sit in a room alone for six or seven or ten hours, sharing the time with characters that you created, is sheer heaven. And if not heaven, it’s at least an escape from hell.
“After ten years of writing with my brother or with other staff writers, together in one room, screaming for my own voice to be heard, or whispering it to another writer with a voice more commanding than my own, the day I typed the title page of that first play in the unlikely environs of Coldwater Canyon I knew I had found not only the one thing I was certain would make me happy but I also knew I was about to enter the only world in which I could possibly exist.”
Simon wrote his first play about his only and older brother, Danny, and his second play about his first wife, the vital and compassionate dancer Joan Baim. She became Corie Bratter in Barefoot in the Park. “I learned early on, from all the plays I had seen or read, that every play must be about an event,” Simon wrote. “The first time that ‘something’ has ever happened. The first time the ghost of his father appears to Hamlet. The first time that Blanche DuBois comes to New Orleans to live with her sister, Stella; the first time Blanche meets Stanley Kowalski. The event doesn’t always have to be major as far as the audience is concerned, but it has to be a major event in the lives of the leading characters. In the case of Barefoot, it was the very first day of the newlywed couple, Paul and Corie Bratter, in their new Greenwich Village apartment.
“I have always tried to put up stumbling blocks for my characters, something they’re not prepared for, something that will interfere with their plans: obstacles, hurdles, conflicts that not only make their lives more difficult, but which afford me the opportunity to put them in a humorous situation.
“In the case of Barefoot, I made it an empty apartment The furniture had not yet arrived, the telephone had not been installed. Granted not the problems Medea faced, but comedy is another ball game.”
The Village apartment was the very one he and Joan had lived in, right down to the hole in the skylight, when they had married in 1953. Ten years after that, in 1963, he made her famous, at one remove, in a Broadway comedy that ran for 1,530 performances. And 10 years after that, in 1973, Joan died of bone cancer at age 41.
Simon, who never attended college, always had a touching respect for higher education. In Boston for tryouts of The Odd Couple, he recalled that, “Cambridge was just across the river, and I went immediately to the Harvard bookstore and bought half a dozen spiral notebooks with narrow lined pages. I have filled notebooks with my plays from every college and university I ever visited, from Harvard to Yale, Duke, UCLA, Stanford, Loyola, Georgetown all the way to Oxford in England and Trinity in Dublin. In a sense, I think this made me feel I had finally earned a college degree, majoring in Drama and Hotel Rooms.”
Simon learned something from Jack Lemmon, whose range as an actor impressed him. “He is equally as funny in one of the greatest farces ever made, Some Like It Hot, as he is moving in Days of Wine and Roses, or as touching as he is in Glengarry Glen Ross,” Simon recalled. “The other important quality Jack has in something an actor can neither learn, be directed to do, nor buy for all the money in the world: you can’t help but like him.
“He is also appreciative and complimentary to the written word, and if he doesn’t like it, he will play it full out anyway and let you pick up that it doesn’t work. He once said in an interview, ‘Neil writes in definite rhythms and as in music, you can’t skip any of the notes. If his prepositions and conjunctions, such as but, if, and, or and it are left out, the music is wrong.’
“When I heard this, I was taken aback for a moment,” Simon said. “I was unaware that this was true.”
Simon’s Willy Loman-like father had no understanding of books, plays or even fatherhood, really. He thought that the actors might have helped Neil write his first Broadway hit, Come Blow Your Horn. Irving Simon liked the father played by Lou Jacobi, telling Neil he knew so many men like that. He never recognized the character as himself.
But Irving Simon had his pride, and refused to eat in his sons’ homes, afraid he might somehow impoverish them. One day he asked Neil not to bring his beloved granddaughter Ellen along to their meeting in Central Park.
“I sat on the bench where we always met, and as I saw him approaching, I could see he walked gingerly, not with the usual sprightly gait I was accustomed to,” Neil recalled. “He looked pounds thinner and when he reached me, he sat and looked away, tears in his eyes. I sat quietly, waiting for him to gather himself. He asked how Joan and Ellen were and was I feeling well, all questions meant to delay what he really had to say. His lips were trembling as he started to speak, and the stifled sob was even more distressing than if he had just let the tears flow.
“ ‘What is it, Dad? Tell me. Are you all right?’
“Every time he tried to speak; he fumbled, he took out a handkerchief to blow his nose and hide his face when anyone passed within earshot. ‘I don’t know how to say this. I’ve never taken anything from you or Danny. You know that. Am I lying?’
“ ‘No, Dad. You never let us give you anything. What is it? Money? Just tell me. I’ll give you whatever you need.’
“He covered his eyes with his hands and this time the sobs came uncontrollably. He told me what he needed and swore it was only a loan. He would pay me back one day. ‘As God is my judge.’ I told him I would send him a check in the morning.
“I knew he was never a strong man, never a fighter, or even a self-sufficient man, despite the fact that he always worked hard. He depended on the love and sympathy of his sisters, his nieces and his nephews, who I think knew his faults but loved him. I knew and saw both sides.
“We hugged and he got up to leave; he was hardly able to look at me as he went. For a man who wouldn’t even share a Sunday breakfast with me, this had to be the hardest day of his life. I never told my mother what happened but I think somehow she knew. I grew up seeing the torment of broken families, broken lives and broken hearts. I always looked for the pain when I wrote about it.
“Writing about it in a play or on this page doesn’t lessen the pain, but it allows you to look at it from a distance, objectively instead of subjectively, and you begin to see a common truth that connects us all.”
One might think that being the most popular playwright in America, with hit after hit on stage and screen, would make one feel secure. And one would, of course, be wrong.
“I’d had an enormous run from 1961 through 1968, and I felt, if not quite on top of the world, at least that I was living on one of the higher floors,” Simon recalled.
“But the thought was always there that they could take it away as fast as it came, a symptom all too familiar to almost everyone I knew or read about in show business who rose quickly to the top. In my insecurity I wondered when I would be accepted as having ‘arrived.’ And I constantly thought maybe one more play would do it. It never happens, of course. No shadowy figure appears in the middle of the night to deliver a letter that says, ‘You’ve arrived.’ Success is not something you can hold in your hand. Joan was something I could hold. And Ellen and Nancy — I could hold them.”
Simon met one source of his insecurities outside Sardi’s one rainy night. “For as many people out there who applaud your work, there’re an equal number who dismiss it out of hand. I once met Pauline Kael, the former film critic for the New Yorker, who was held in very high esteem — except by anyone I ever spoke to. There was no denying she was a brilliant writer who seemed to prefer Polish or Czech films made on a budget of twelve dollars with stories somewhat on the lines of ‘How a Greek sailor wakes up on a beach one morning with a woman’s brown shoe in his pocket. The rest of the picture traces his search.’ Fortunately the picture invariably ends before you ever find out.
“That was Art. I didn’t write Art.
“We met one evening as we were leaving Sardi’s restaurant, where the New York Film Critics Awards were being handed out,” Simon said. “Ms. Kael and I were both standing under a canopy as the rain pelted New York, and I had very little sympathy for the fact that her new shoes were getting wet, since she had stepped on my own feet every time I had something to show the public.
“As we both waited silently for a cab, we glanced at each other, knowing someone had to say something first. She made a halfhearted attempt at a smile, and said, ‘I haven’t been awfully nice to you over the years, have I?’ I made a full-hearted attempt not to smile, and said, ‘No, you haven’t.’ She said, ‘Well, it’s hard not to knock you. You keep coming around too often.’ Then she got in her cab and quite surprisingly flew up into the night sky, as I thought I heard a cackle in the distance.”
Critics and playwrights can be both natural allies and natural enemies.
Maybe the trouble was something as simple as Kael’s nagging awareness that nobody needed her to explain to them that Simon’s films and plays were enjoyable.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that she thought she was paying Simon a compliment.
Simon generally didn’t want comedians in his comedies. He wanted accomplished dramatic actors, so that the laughter would ring true.
“What George C. Scott did for Plaza Suite, Mike (Nichols) and I thought Peter (Falk) could do for Prisoner (of Second Avenue),” Simon observed.
“To play his long-suffering wife, our first and only choice was Lee Grant. An actress out of the Actors Studio, she was equally at home with Chekhov or with Sidney Kingsley, the latter having brought her to prominence in his dramatic hit Detective Story. None of this prevented her from being hilariously funny as the script sometimes needed her to be. Once again the basic rule of comedy was proven. Never try to make comedy funny. Honesty will do nicely, thank you.”
Simon turned 40 in 1967, and became aware of a change creeping up on him through his writing. “I don’t think one just decides to write more serious plays,” he observed. “Life dictates where your pen will move. It starts taking on your own inner fears, your responsibilities, your new, mature awareness that life isn’t just about you, about your own needs and your own self-importance. You suddenly become aware that the old people you know weren’t always old. It was not their occupation in life, as we supposed. They were once the way you are now, and inevitably you will eventually be like them, with others thinking you were always old. You will have to make the same journey, taking on the same pains, the same aches and anxieties, the same sorrows, the same losses. Your insight into the world becomes much larger, more objective and unavoidably clearer. I still wanted to write comedy, but I wanted to add darker chords, where happiness can turn on a dime to anguish, as fast as a phone call can disrupt a peaceful night’s sleep at two in the morning with desperate or calamitous news. I wanted to write about the unpredictable, the sudden surprises, the things we always thought happened to someone else, not to us. I wanted to write for a single person in a single seat in the theater, man of woman, young or old, and have them quietly say to themselves, ‘He’s writing about me.’”
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis once dated the cartoonist Charles Addams, a pairing that seems just about as strange and anything Addams ever created for his “Addams family” panel cartoons in the New Yorker.
According to the biography Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life by Linda H. Davis, they got along wonderfully together. The former first lady played with his crossbows, rode with Addams in his Bentley at 110 mph and was a real fan.
“I love Pugsley and Lurch, but my favorite in Morticia,” Jackie said. “She and I have a lot more in common than you might think.”
Addams may have harbored hopes of marrying her, but Jackie killed those in one single chilly sentence. “Well, I couldn’t get married to you,” she said. “What would we talk about at the end of the say — cartoons?”
“War is literally unreasonable,” wrote the author, biographer and historian William Manchester in his 1979 Pacific combat memoir Goodbye, Darkness.
“Today’s youth cannot understand it; mine, I suppose, was the last generation to believe audacity in combat is a virtue. And I don’t know why we believed it. The mystery troubled me and baffled me, for some of my actions in the early 1940s make no sense to me now.
“On Okinawa, on Saturday, June 2, 1945, I suffered a superficial gunshot wound just above my right kneecap and was ship back to a field hospital. Mine was what we called a ‘million-dollar wound.’ Although I could hear the Long Toms in the distance, I was warm, dry and safe. My machismo was intact; I was simply hors de combat.
“The next day I heard that my regiment was going to land behind enemy lines on Oroku Penisula. I left my cot, jumped hospital, hitchhiked to the front and made the landing on Monday.
“Why had I returned to terror? To be sure, I had been gung ho at the outbreak of war. But I had quickly become a summer soldier and a sunshine patriot. I was indifferent toward rank, and I certainly sought no glory. ‘We owe God a death,” wrote Shakespeare. So we do, but I hoped God would extend my line of credit indefinitely. I was very young. I hadn’t published a short story, fathered a child or even slept with a girl. And because I am possessed, like most writers, by an intense curiosity, I wanted to stick around until, at the very least, I knew which side had won the war.
“So, craftily, I became the least intrepid of warriors, a survivor, not a hero, more terrier than lion. If there was a coward’s way, I took it. The word hero, to me, is redolent of Nelson Eddy in his Smokey Bear hat, with Jeanette McDonald shrieking in his ear, or of John Wayne being booed in a Hawaiian hospital by an audience of wounded Marines from Iwo Jima and Okinawa, men who had macho acts, in a phrase of the day, up their asses to their armpits.
“To be sure, I was not an inept fighter. I was lean and hard and tough and proud. I had tremendous reserves of stamina. I never bolted. I was a crack shot. I had a shifty, shambling run, and a lovely eye for defilade — for what the Duke of Wellington called ‘dead ground,’ that is, a spot shielded from flat-trajectory enemy fire by a natural obstacle, like a tree or a rock — coupled with a good sense of direction and a better sense of ground. To this day, I check emergency exits immediately after registering in a hotel, and in bars you will find me occupying a corner table, with my flanks secure.
“But that was the sum of my military skills. I had walked through the valley of the shadow of death and had been terribly frightened. Afterward, those few of us in my unit who had survived received a document from Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal citing us for ‘gallantry,’ ‘valor,’ ‘tenacity’ and ‘extraordinary heroism against enemy Japanese forces,’ but those shining words didn’t really apply to me. Indeed, at times it seemed that they applied to no one except the dead. I agreed with Hemingway: ‘Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the number of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.’
“For us, they had been Buna and Suribachi; the Kokoda Trail and Tarawa; the First Marine Division and the Eleventh Airborne; the Kumusi and the Asa Kawa; December 7, 1941, and V-J Day. I honored them while hating the whole red and ragged business of war.”
Manchester, who had harrowing experiences as a Marine in World War II, was an eloquent and even compassionate writer with a determined honesty, and yet a blind spot.
Reading his memoir, you find it easy to spot a theme that constantly reappears. It’s that the concerns and fates and white male warriors are the only things that really matter, and that their extreme sacrifices somehow sanctified that principle. Only his band of brothers and their fathers were fully real existentially. All others were somewhat shadowy figures who owed them gratitude.
By 1979, Manchester felt himself to be someone whom time was passing by. And he was right. It was and it has. A growing awareness of justice has entirely swept his worldview away, leaving the reader to admire him, yes, but also to feel a little embarrassed for him. But how few of us manage not to embarrass our descendants.
“War monuments have never stirred me,” Manchester wrote. “They are like the reconstructed buildings at Colonial Williamsburg, or elaborate reproductions of great paintings; no matter how deft the execution, they are essentially counterfeit.
“In addition, they are usually beautiful and in good taste, whereas combat is neither. Before the war I thought that Hemingway, by stripping battle narratives of their ripe prose, was describing the real thing. Afterward I realized that he had simply replaced traditional overstatement with romantic understatement.
“War is never understated. Combat as I saw it was exorbitant, outrageous, excruciating and above all tasteless, perhaps because the number of fighting men who had read Hemingway or Remarque was a fraction of those who had seen B movies about bloodshed. If a platoon leader had watched Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Errol Flynn, Victor McLaglen, John Wayne or Gary Cooper leap recklessly about, he was likely to follow his role model.
“In crises, most people are imitative. Soldiers received ‘Dear John’ letters copied from those quoted in the press. The minority who avoid Hollywood paradigms were, like me, people who watched fewer B movies than we had read books. That does not mean we were better soldiers and citizens. We certainly weren’t braver. I do think that our optics were clearer, however — that what we saw was closer to the truth because we weren’t looking through MGM or RKO prisms.”
Manchester’s already passé notions about gender roles mixed with melancholy about humanity’s fate when he visited Tinian, the island from which, on the late afternoon of Aug. 6, 1945, the B-29 named Enola Gay took off to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
“There is an air of forbidding stillness on the isle, a desolation unmatched in, say, rebuilt Hiroshima,” Manchester wrote. “This is where the nuclear shadow first appeared. I feel forlorn, alienated, wholly without empathy for the men who did what they did. This was not my war. In my war, a single fighter with one rifle could make a difference, however infinitesimal, in the struggle against the Axis. It was here that the role of men as protectors began to fade until women, seeing how much it had diminished, left their own traditional roleas behind and shouldered their way upward.”
The bored Marines stood at attention, listening to Buck Rogers describe homosexual sex acts.
Manchester recalled that his captain, “Buck” Rogers, would read aloud from Navy courts-martial arising from sexual indiscretions.
“As unsubtly as possible, we were being warned that no matter how horny we got, we couldn’t go down on each other,” Manchester wrote. “It mystified us. Youth is more sophisticated today, but in our innocence we knew almost nothing about homosexuality.”
“There was so much excitement (and apocrypha about) heterosexuality that we seldom gave homosexuality a second thought. Had we been told that practitioners of oral sodomy wanted to live together openly, with the approval of society, and insisted on being called ‘gay,’ we would have guffawed. That just wasn’t one of the rights we were fighting to protect. We weren’t exactly prejudiced. It was, literally, mindlessness. We hadn’t thought about it. That didn’t make it unique. We weren’t fighting for the emancipation of housewives, either, or for the right of blacks, who performed menial, if safe, tasks far behind the lines, to bleed alongside us. Like most soldiers in most wars, we were fighting for status quo ante bellum. And like the others, we were doomed to disappointment.”
All those bored Marines knew were that perverts were guys who lisped and longed to put on a dress. “Therefore the other NCOs and I laughed when our sergeant major told us, in a drunken moment (and an unusual one, because liquor was generally reserved for officers; enlisted men, including sergeants, got beer), that he had slept with men. Mike Powers was in the regular Marine Corps, a professional soldier; he had served in Nicaragua, Haiti and on Gibraltar. It was on Gibraltar that he had, by his soused account, violated Chapter Two Specification Seventeen almost nightly. His lovers had been civilians, he said, some of them distinguished European civilians.”
Powers told them that when he retired, he planned to write a book calledFamous Cocks I Have Sucked.
“We didn’t take him seriously, partly because in the Marine Corps there was a constant rivalry to see who could be coarsest,” Manchester wrote. “His behavior was in many ways regrettable, but always in macho ways which, we thought, were the exact opposite of homosexuality. Six feet two, blond and virile, he was heavily muscled and deep voiced.”
Powers was tough and brave, but he had a flaw in combat. “Our strutting, bullying, powerfully built sergeant major just couldn’t stand the strain of concentrated enemy shellfire,” Manchester said. “He could take small-arms fire, and once he demolished a Nambu light-machine-gun nest with a hand grenade. But artillery turned his bowels to water.”
And so one night, when the firing stopped after a sustained attack from 81-millimeter mortar shells, Powers cracked up. The Marines knew that the silence was a tactic to draw them out in the open so they could relieve themselves, at which point they’d be caught in a fresh fusillade. Powers began ranting and yelling and ordering a charge that would have gotten them all killed, so Manchester was forced to relieve Powers and get him to a battalion aid station.
Manchester never saw Powers again, but he learned Powers’ fate much later, when Manchester, bedridden in a naval hospital, heard the officer of the day describe the court martial of one Michael J. Powers. Powers had been caught having oral sex with the young medical corpsman who had soothed and befriended him when Manchester left him at the aid station. And he’d been sentenced to 85 years in Portsmouth Naval Prison for it.
One perverse irony of war, Manchester found, is how it sanctifies bloody disasters while underrating undramatic military victories.
“Time (magazine) trumpeted the defense of the American tactics: ‘Last week some 2,000 or 3,000 United States Marines, most of them now dead or wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of … the Alamo, Little Big Horn and Belleau Wood. The name was Tarawa,’” Manchester wrote. As a sergeant, he’d been in the middle of that 76-hour battle in which roughly 6,400 Japanese, Koreans and Americans died, mostly on and around the small coral island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll.
“That made everyone on Betio stand tall, but it deserves second thoughts. The Alamo and Little Big Horn were massacres for Americans, and the Fifth and Sixth Marines had been cut to pieces in Belleau Wood. Time’s comment may be attributed to a curious principle which seems to guide those who write of titanic battles. The longer the casualty lists — the vaster the investment in blood — the greater the need to justify the slain. Thus the fallen are honored by hallowing the names of the places were they fell, thus writers enshrine in memory the Verduns, the Passchendaeles, the Dunkirks and the Iwo Jimas, while neglecting decisive struggles in which the loss of life was small.
“At the turn of the 18thcentury, the Duke of Marlborough led 10 successful, relatively bloodless campaigns on the Continent, after which he was hounded into exile by his political enemies. In World War I, Douglas Haig butchered the flower of England’s youth on the Somme and in Flanders without winning a single victory. He was raised to the peerage and awarded 100,000 pounds by a grateful Parliament...”
“Similarly, in World War II, Anzio and Peleliu are apotheosized, though neither contributed to the defeat of Germany and Japan, while the capture of Ulithi, one of the Pacific’s finest anchorages, is unsung since the enemy had evacuated it, and Hollandia, (Gen. Douglas) MacArthur’s greatest triumph in that war, is forgotten because the general’s genius outfoxed the Japanese and limited his losses to a handful of GIs.
“In the Pacific, we received ‘pony’ editions — reduced in size, with no ads — of Time and the New Yorker. The comparison of Tarawa with great battles of the past didn’t impress most of us; we saw it for what it was: wartime propaganda designed to boost the morale of subscribers, a sophisticated version of the rhapsodies about the Glorious Dead who had Given Their All, making the Supreme Sacrifice. Our sympathies were with those who protested the high casualties.”
From his vantage point on the battlefield, Manchester immediately saw through military myth-making, but years would pass before he could bring himself to cast a cold eye on other hypocrisies of war. “At the time it was impolitic to pay the slightest tribute to the enemy, and Nip determination, their refusal to say die, was commonly attributed to ‘fanaticism,’” he recalled. “In retrospect, it is indistinguishable from heroism. To call it anything less cheapens the victory, for American valor was necessary to defeat it.”
Memory was Manchester’s thing. He remembered sights like this: “You could always tell whether men were moving up or coming off the line. Usually those coming off had samurai swords jutting from their packs. And they had a different look — dull, sightless eyes showing the strain, misery, shock, sleeplessness and, in veteran fighters, the supreme indifference of young men who have lost their youth and will never recover it. The Spanish poet Frederico Garcio Lorca caught their expressions. They had ‘sad infinite eyes, like those of a newborn beast of burden.’”
Manchester remembered, even as he watched others forget. “When a man reaches his late fifties almost any change empties him a little,” he wrote. “It is disconcerting to feel quaint.”
Thirty-five years after the war, Manchester ticked off the Marines he had known well and seen killed.
“Shiloh Davidson II, Williams ’44, a strong candidate for his family’s stock exchange seat, crawled out on a one-man twilight patrol up Sugar Loaf. He had just cleared our wire when a Nambu burst eviscerated him. Thrown back, he was caught on improvised wire. The only natural light came from the palest wash of moon, but the Japs illuminated that side of the hill all night with their green flares. There was no way that any of us could reach Shiloh, so he hung there, screaming for his mother, until about 4:30 in the morning, when he died.
“After the war, I visited his mother. She had heard, on a Gabriel Heatter broadcast, that the Twenty-ninth was assaulting Sugar Loaf. She had spent the night on her knees, praying for her son. She said to me, ‘God didn’t answer my prayers.’ I said, ‘He didn’t answer any of mine.’’
Recalling Okinawa, Manchester wrote, “I was in the midst of satanic madness: I knew it. I wanted to return to sanity: I couldn’t. All one could do, it seemed to me, was to stop combat from breaking you in half, to keep going until you reached the other side of your immediate objective, hoping it would be different from this side while knowing all the time, with the weary cynicism of the veteran, that it would be exactly the same. It was in this mood that we scapegoated all cases of combat fatigue — my father’s generation of infantrymen had called it ‘shell shock’ — because we felt that those so diagnosed were taking the dishonorable way out. We were all psychotic, inmates of the greatest madhouse in history, but staying on the line was a matter of pride. Pride was important to young men then. Today it is derided as machismo. But without that macho spirit, California and Australia would have been invaded long before this final battle.”
In 1965, the new Eero Saarinen-designed building on 52nd Street at Sixth Avenue — swiftly dubbed “Black Rock” — was CBS President Frank Stanton’s baby.
“Consistent with his own taste in art, the furnishings and fixtures reflected a sleek, modern look,” wrote Lewis J. Paper in his book Empire: William S. Paley and the Making of CBS. “Glass, chrome and modern paintings dominated the interior space. Even the location and quantity of plants received careful consideration.
“The only exception to the master plan was (CBS Chairman of the Board Bill) Paley’s office. It continued to reflect his own (and very different) tastes. The French gaming table remained as his desk, rich paneling still adorned the walls, comfortable couches were placed strategically, exquisite paintings hung on the walls, and various artifacts — an old CBS microphone, the cigar-store Indian and later a photograph of Edward R. Murrow — all helped to provide a warmth that seemed even more pronounced because of its stark contrast with the rest of the building.”
But the urbane and sophisticated gourmet Paley had his own baby —a haute cuisine restaurant on the ground floor, eventually to be called The Ground Floor.
“The notion of owning a restaurant had always appealed to Paley, especially as the years went by,” Paper said. “Decades of culinary experience had only added to his knowledge and heightened his interest in planning a restaurant. It would, of course, have to feature the best in everything — from its design to the food to the service. Friends noticed the considerable energy he put into the restaurant — picking a name, shaping the décor and planning the menu.”
The interior design reflected the exterior of Black Rock, but the restaurant’s manager, Jerry Brody, thought that was a mistake. “He felt the building was too cold and stark for a restaurant,” Paper said. “Then there was the cost of the fixtures. Bill Paley wanted the best, but the cost made it that much more difficult for the restaurant to show a profit. All of which might have been overcome if the restaurant became popular, but Bill Paley’s zest for food was not matched by his success as a restaurateur.”
Brody suggested a northern European steakhouse, but Paley said no. It must be French cuisine.
“He went to France almost every year, knew the food and it would draw the right kind of customers — sophisticated people, those who appreciated the finer things. But all these plans and hopes and expectations could not guarantee results. No matter how much time Paley spent in the kitchen tasting the soups and other fare (which he did almost every day), The Ground Floor did not produce the business that Bill Paley wanted, that he felt he deserved.”
In 1968, restaurant critic Gael Greene described the chilly ambience. “The Ground Floor is a perfect room to end an affair in,” she wrote. “The tables are far enough apart to announce the break in a firm voice, and the ambiance is stern enough to discourage sloppy emotionalism.”
“But Boss Paley mingles with everyday folk in the dining room. Leonard Lyons moves through the grill, antennae clicking off the celebrities du jour – Donald Pleasence, Sloan Simpson, an author or two drinking breakfast. And good grief! Bob Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman tieless, unjacketed, grizzled gray locks to the shoulder, Ben Franklin specs … the oldest hippie in the world. Mostly, though, the grill is lined with youngish executives expense-accounting each other. Restrained, subdued: That is not a bar to get sloppy drunk in … not a room to unlax in.”
“It was a never-ending source of frustration,” Paper wrote. “He knew food, he knew New York City and yet he could not make the kind of mystical connection to customers that he had made with his programming. And those who confronted him with the obvious truth proceeded at their peril.
“There was the time, for example, when Stanton, Fred Friendly and Bill Leonard met with Paley one afternoon shortly after The Ground Floor had opened. Paley asked the three executives if they had eaten at the restaurant. In fact, they had all just eaten there — and thought it was terrible. Neither Stanton nor Friendly dared to speak the truth, though. They mumbled that it was fine, just fine. But Bill Leonard loved food as much as Paley, and the two of them had spent many occasions passing away hours discussing food. Leonard could not compromise the truth on so important a matter, and he blurted out, ‘It was awful. The food was terrible. Fred had a fish dish and got sick. The service was bad and the prices were way out of line.’
“As Leonard continued, on and on, the color started to drain from Stanton’s face, and the effect on Paley was obvious.
“‘It was as though I had said his mother had been caught with a young man,’ said Leonard. The meeting ended more quickly than anyone had anticipated, and the phone was ringing for Friendly almost as soon as he and Leonard returned to the news offices on West Fifty-seventh Street. Friendly reported that it was Stanton with a message for the deputy news chief.
“‘Tell Leonard,’ said Stanton, ‘that he has just set the News Division back 10 years. He’s wrecked everything. All Paley can talk about now is the restaurant.’”
“All he wanted, he told friends in 1965, was a simple place where a secretary could go downstairs and have lunch for seven or eight dollars,” David Halberstam wrote in the Atlantic. “His pleasure was enormous when the restaurant finally opened, and his disappointment equal when it was not a wild success. At one point Paley, puzzled by the lack of its success, turned to the restaurateur running it for him, Jerry Brody, and suggested that they might try a supper club for those who eat around 11 p.m., something that Paley liked to do after an evening of concerts or theater.
“ ‘Bill,’ said Brody, ‘there ain’t no supper business in this town.’
“ ‘No?’ answered Paley, puzzled. ‘Why not?’
“ ‘Because everyone’s home watching the tube.’”
Paley’s restaurant evolved into the Ground Floor Café, the American Charcuterie and then the sixth incarnation of the venerable Rose Restaurant. Today the location offers the haute Asian fusion of the China Grill.
Who was Paley? The son of an Eastern European Jewish immigrant to Chicago who’d started a successful cigar company, William S. Paley was, by 1928, a young man looking to make a mark in a young industry, broadcasting.
He’d received a million dollars worth of stock in the Congress Cigar Company, and wanted to use part of it to buy a controlling interest in New York-based UIB, the United Independent Broadcasters, a rival to the industry leader, NBC. But he couldn’t do that without his father’s approval.
“After thinking it over, Sam told his son that he approved of the UIB purchase, that Bill should use $400,000 of his stock funds to buy (Jerome) Louchheim’s interest, and that the family would contribute another $100,000,” wrote Paper. “Paley was delighted and surprised, but most of all surprised. He had convinced himself that Sam would never release him from the cigar business, and he could not resist asking his father why he had yielded. Sam replied that it was all a matter of good business sense. ‘Well,’ he told Bill, ‘if you succeed, it’ll be a bigger business than what you’re in now; and if you don’t succeed,’ his father added, ‘you will have had a lot of experience which might be very useful in the cigar business and to me, and so, on balance, I think you ought to try it.’”
After some hard bargaining, Paley succeeded in securing 50.3 percent of UIB’s stock for $503,000, the day before his 27th birthday.
“Paley was no doubt excited when he arrived at UIB’s office on an upper floor in the tower of the Paramount Building in midtown Manhattan. But the reception was something less than he had hoped for. A stocky office boy refused to admit the boyish-looking president, demanding to see credentials and to know the purpose of his visit.”
The purpose of his visit was to run the company for several decades, as soon as he changed its name to CBS.
Programming was always Paley’s first love at CBS, and his desire for both quality and profits wasn’t easy to satisfy. In Paper’s book, programming chief Mike Dann recalled that day in the 1960s when he entered Paley’s office to deliver the good news that CBS now had nine of the top 10 daytime programs. Paley’s response was, “That damn NBC always hangs in there for one.”
Paley’s programming instincts may have been strong, but they weren’t infallible. In the late 1950s, Paley “…rejected any suggestion that the network make use of Ian Fleming’s stories about James Bond, believing that the American public would have no interest in the escapades of a British spy,” Paper wrote.
Shaken by CBS’s extremely costly debacle in experimental color television, Paley seemingly lost his nerve. The sure, instinctive executive touch was gradually replaced by indecision. His confidence about programming also suffered.
“Paley was too far removed from his audience,” wrote Sally Bedell Smith in her Paley biography In All His Glory. “For decades, he led a rarified life. He did not carry cash, never stood in line, and each morning his faithful valet Dean knotted his tie. Early in 1977, after CBS acquired Woman’s Day magazine as part of its Fawcett Publications purchase, Paley asked Jack Purcell, president of CBS Publishing, ‘Who would buy this? It’s nothing but recipes.’ Purcell told him that eight million women bought the magazine every three weeks. Paley was amazed. ‘Where do they go to buy it?’ he said. ‘Supermarkets,’ said Purcell, who could tell by Paley’s quizzical look that the CBS chairman had never been in that kind of store. Purcell subsequently took Paley to a supermarket on the West Side. After walking all around the store to inspect the displays, Paley stood transfixes as women moved through the check-out lines buying Woman’s Day or Family Circle.”
But while he may never have been a man of the people, Paley’s principled and fairly consistent support for the independence of CBS News set a journalistic standard that ultimately benefited the American public at large.
Whatever his private misgivings, if any, Paley backed Edward R. Murrow’s nation-rattling broadcast expose of the fascist Sen. Joe McCarthy’s witch hunts in 1954, in a show that risked reprisals against his own network. Murrow biographer A.M. Sperber noted that, “In the morning there had been acall from Paley: He’d be with Ed tonight and tomorrow as well — a personal gesture for which Murrow was understandably grateful.Paley also urged Murrow to offer McCarthy reply time on the air: ‘Beat him to the punch,’he said.”
The charming and aloof Paley’s central position at CBS during decades when CBS was central to American society seemed to make him something more than self-centered. After decades of such power, Paley finally seemed to regard even mortality as just another problem to be solved by an executive decision.
In 1974, his wife Babe was diagnosed with lung cancer. “Bill Paley … now faced the prospect that his 58-year-old wife could die, leaving him, alone in his old age,” wrote Smith. “His perfectly constructed world threatened to unravel. Paley, so accustomed to controlling virtually every aspect of his existence, worked furiously to conquer Babe’s illness. ‘He was motivated by concern for her,’ recalled Kidder Meade. ‘But he also was confronted by something he couldn’t control. He had an extreme impatience of any failure.’”
“The idea of Babe dying was a terrible shock to me,” Paley said. “I had such faith in myself and believed that, somehow, I was going to beat the rap.”
He didn’t. When his wife died in 1978, Paley sank into two years of depression and disorientation, once complaining to a friend, “My memory is so poor now. I can’t even remember whom I sat next to at dinner last night.”
I’ve always been drawn to the actress Patricia Neal, who resembled both my mother, Patricia Hagen, and my grandmother, Ann Schwermin.
In a life of adventure and tragedy, Neal had a famous affair with the actor Gary Cooper, married the writer Roald Dahl. Her infant son was terribly injured when his baby carriage was struck by a taxicab. She lost her 7-year-old daughter and then almost everything else, fighting her way back to health after massive cerebral aneurysms.
Along the way, she fell into some of the best film roles any actress could ask for. She starred in great films like Hud, overlooked gems like A Face in the Crowd and unexpected classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still.
She turned down Broadway roles only to play them later in Hollywood, as in John Loves Mary and The Subject Was Roses. She played sentimental icons like Olivia Walton in The Homecoming and strange icons like Dominique Francon in The Fountainhead.
“I had left home early in 1945 and by the end of the year I had gotten my first job as an understudy,” Patricia Neal recalled in her autobiography, As I Am. “A year later I had opened on Broadway. There was no doubt about it, success had come to me overnight, and if I had not felt the dizziness of the leap while I was in New York, the change of altitude hit me when I stopped in Tennessee en route to California.”
She was returning home. Fresh from an acclaimed role in Lillian Hellman’s Another Part of the Forest, Neal had landed a contract at Warner Brothers along with a starring role in their film, John Loves Mary (the very role she’d had to turn down on Broadway after being cast in the Hellman play).
“I quickly learned that you must be forgiven your success by those who stay behind,” Neal said. “And you must hang on every word said to you lest you appear ‘uppity.’ And you must ask the questions before they are asked of you. ‘How many kids do you have?’ I would quickly inquire before anybody could bring up Broadway. As long as people talked about themselves to me, they thought I was just great and had not changed one bit for the worse.”
Arriving in Hollywood for a balmy Christmas, Neal quickly learned the ropes. About the parties, for instance. “Everybody I met was utterly divine to me, with the divided intimacy that I quickly learned was the style of Hollywood parties. One eye is fixed intently on the person you are talking to while the other scans the room to see the person you should be talking to.”
The town’s contradictions were apparent even at that first New Year’s Eve party she attended. He co-star, Ronald Reagan, introduced himself. “What a lovely, cheerful man, I thought. The next time I caught sight of him, it was at the stroke of midnight. He was on the terrace with an older woman, weeping into her arms. I later learned that he and his wife, Jane Wyman, were divorcing.”
“A movie set seemed an absolute fantasyland on my first day,” she remembered. I had so much energy and curiosity that I was everywhere, investigating everything. The main set of ‘John Loves Mary’ was surrounded by a forest of lights, reflectors, cranelike sound booms and recording equipment. Wires and cables laced the floor like huge octopus tentacles that trailed up into the rafters, connecting the whole stage to some energy source in the sky.
She found the experience to be “acting and a roller-coaster ride all wrapped into one!”
“We did only one scene that whole day,” Neal recalled. “It took hours to fix every detail. This was the Golden Age of Hollywood, and we were obliged to appear without any blemish that would expose us as merely human.”
Without a contract at Warner Brothers, deep into her four-year, now-public affair with the very married Gary Cooper, and recovering from an abortion that would haunt her for three decades, Patricia Neal faced a challenging year in 1951.
“I was no longer the young darling of Hollywood,” she recalled in her autobiography, As I Am. “I was the unsympathetic side of a triangle. Gary sensed my increasing anxiety and grew more tender toward me. Actually, he was under as much tension as I was. I could see it in his face, feel it in his body. But of course, he did not talk about it. I did not know he was becoming very ill.”
Luckily, Neal secured a three-film deal at Twentieth Century Fox.
“My first film of the new Fox contract was going to be a science fiction thriller called ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still.’ I was not encouraged in the least, but I did not want to begin my career at Fox by going on suspension. The director was Robert Wise, who had been good to me in the past. He believed in the project and wanted me to do it. I am very glad I said yes. I worked with an old friend, Hugh Marlowe, and a new one, Michael Rennie.
“I do think it’s the best science fiction film ever made, although I admit I sometimes had a difficult time keeping a straight face. Michael would patiently watch me bite my lips to avoid giggling and ask, with true British reserve, ‘Is that the way you intend to play it?’
“The press was relentless now. They followed me everywhere, even onto the set, but I would not speak to them. The publicity department made up responses for me to their questions about Gary. So in print, I could be vague (‘We’re just good friends’) or cute (‘If I were in love with him, I’d be silly to advertise it. After all, he is a married man.’) or even haughty (‘I do wish people would find something else to talk about’).
“Dear Michael, who was as exasperated as I was, thought I should honor their questions with my favorite line from the film.
“ ‘Miss Neal, did you break up Gary Cooper’s marriage?’
“’Klaatu barada nikto!’”
Neal was introduced to Roald Dahl by Lillian Hellman while appearing on Broadway in a 1952 revival of Hellman’s play The Children’s Hour. She found the British writer cold and insufferable.
She was surprised, therefore, when he began to call, and they slowly began a grown-up and deliberate affair.
“He came to see my performances often,” she recalled. “And each night he would come backstage, sit on the chaise and watch me remove my makeup. One evening he put a kettle on the hot plate and asked if he could make some tea. Fine, I said. I’d have some too. He didn’t return to the chaise, but came to my side.”
They made small talk, with Neal telling him how, when she’d shared a dressing room with Jean Hagen, the actress would make an expensive long-distance call to her new husband and purr, “Kiss-kiss, kiss-kiss, kiss-kiss.”
“At eight thirty-five a minute!” he laughed and then mused, “ ‘Kiss-kiss.’ It’s a good title, don’t you think.”
“There was a long silence before he spoke again.
“ ‘I have another question for you,’ he ventured slowly. ‘I would like to know how you think it would work if we got married.’
“ ‘Oh no!’ I said suddenly and without thinking. He looked at me as if I had thrown cold water in his face. ‘Roald, let’s just continue the way we are. I mean, let’s not talk about that now. All right?’
“He looked horrified that I had turned him down. It’s simple, I thought to myself. I really don’t love him and I don’t want to get married. But then, that was not entirely true. I did want marriage. And a family. Roald would have beautiful children. What was I holding out for? A great love? That would never come again. When was I going to face reality?”
Neal and Dahl continued to date without mentioning the subject again, and she got a surprise call from a former boyfriend, the wealthy Peter Douglas, son of a U.S. ambassador to England. Their relationship had ended when he’s stood her up one night without explanation.
Neal met Douglas for dinner, and found him to be as boyish as ever while he recounted the story of how he’d gotten drunk with pals and missed the plane that would have taken him to her.
“We laughed about it and Peter said perhaps there was something he had not wanted to face then. We came back to my apartment and lay down on the sofa, and he put his arms around me and said, ‘Pat, I would love to marry you.’
“I thought back to the time I wanted so much to hear those words. I took his hand and said, very quietly, ‘Too late, dear Peter, too late.’
“Then the most surprising thing happened. I heard myself say, ‘I’m going to marry Roald Dahl.’”
"Everyone wants to be Cary Grant," Cary Grant said. "Even I want to be Cary Grant."
The seeming effortlessness with which Cary Grant projected his on-screen persona must have been simultaneously gratifying and somewhat frustrating to the actor born Archibald Alexander Leach in Bristol, England.
His ease at appearing urbane, witty, elegant, utterly self-assured and devastatingly attractive made it difficult for his worldwide audience to understand that he did not always believe himself to be those things.
“In truth, he still had no clear image of who he really was,” biographer Marc Eliot wrote. “Whenever he saw himself on screen, it was like looking at a gigantic mirror whose reflection was familiar, but one he could not quite identify with or relate to. The person up there, the idealized and romanticized character whose every move was dictated by an unseen director, whose every clever word and turn of phrase were put into his mouth by an unseen screenwriter, and who was lit and photographed by unseen experts who knew just how to make his skin glossy, his eyes bright, his hair shiny, his chin granite — that manufactured character, he believed, was more handsome and funny and clever and wise than he could ever be in real life, more smoothly graceful and impossibly svelte than any man could ever be. That was the man everybody adored — that was ‘Cary Grant.’”
Off screen, Grant was famously frugal, perhaps a residual effect of his childhood awareness of having poor parents who quarreled about money and well-to-do maternal grandparents. His often-absent father, a handsome dreamer who pressed pants six days a week, gave his young son one lecture about appearance that stuck with him permanently. Don’t buy four pairs of cheap shoes that will fall apart, he said. Buy one pair of really good ones and take care of them.
Grant’s sartorial splendor came more easily during his long tenure as a Hollywood star, in part because Archie Leach got to wear all Cary Grant’s clothes for free. Eliot noted that Grant’s high-quality wardrobe was always relatively sparse. “Once he became an independent player, to the end of his career, he contracted to keep, at his discretion, all the clothing he wore in his films, more than once green-lighting a script out of consideration of the wardrobe,” Eliot wrote. “Grant was quoted as saying that his favorite film in terms of fashion was 'That Touch of Mink,’ because of the luxurious and exclusive custom-made Cardinal suits his character wore. At the end of shooting he kept the entire wardrobe of blues and grays that so perfectly offset his then blue-gray hair.”
No slave to convention in his private life, Grant admitted to reporter Joe Hyams that he preferred wearing women’s nylon panties under his regular clothes when he traveled “…because they were easier to pack than men’s underwear and he could wash them out himself, which saved on hotel laundry bills.”
Remarkable that Grant was able to project even the imageof such self-assurance on screen. His father had walked out on mother and son when the boy was a child, setting up a new household 80 miles away. Then in 1914, when Grant was 10, he came home one afternoon and looked from room to room for his mother. She was gone, vanished without warning. Relatives told the boy his mother was staying at a seaside resort, then that she had died of a heart attack. Neither was true. In fact, she had been committed to a mental institution — something Grant didn’t find out for another 20 years.
When he learned the truth from his father, Grant raced to the asylum and found his mother not only alive but smiling. She didn’t realize how much time had passed and still treated him as her little boy, not knowing that he was now a film star. Fighting tears, Grant promised his mother he’d have her free by her next birthday, her 58th. It was a tale he almost never told anyone.
That wasn’t Grant’s only secret. His affair with cowboy actor Randolph Scott was much more long-term and intense than I realized. In fact, it was probably the primary romantic relationship of both their lives.
“I’ve heard the fag rumor for years,” Grant told an interviewer. “Look at it this way. I’ve always tried to dress well. I’ve had some success and I include in that success some relationships with some very special women. If someone wants to say I’m gay, what can I do? I think it’s probably said about every man who’s been known to do well with women. I don’t let that sort of thing bother me. What matters to me is that I know who I am.” And what he rather adroitly did not say is, “I’m not gay.”
“So genial, so felt-slippers, she nevertheless could be acid and spike heels.” That’s playwright Arthur Laurents in his memoir Original Story By describing Shirley Booth, who starred in his Broadway play The Time of the Cuckoo (made into a move called Summertime starring Katherine Hepburn).
“Shirley Booth looked like a bargain shopper, not an actress; not even onstage where she never appeared to be acting,” Laurents wrote. “She was heartbreaking because she was walking vulnerability; her laughs were surefire because she had an intuitive comic talent and was immensely skilled. She knew her craft and respected it; little was accidental and if it was and worked, she put it in her bag to pluck out when she needed it.
“She had a theory about comedy: you got a laugh by sending it out to the audience with a rise from a chair, a turn of the head, a thrust of the hand, a flick of a handkerchief. She was not above kicking out her leg on an exit.
“Her persona was warm, pleasant, reticent, but she was a tough cookie like any star, particularly women stars who don’t get there otherwise in a male-dominated culture. Day One, she warned her understudy she would never go on. ‘I’m here and I’m staying here,’ Shirley told the talented younger player. ‘If I have to crawl, I’ll go on…’”
“There is a climatic scene at a party in the second act of ‘The Time of the Cuckoo’ where Leona is publicly embarrassed. High to begin with, she gets drunk; out of her agony, she lashes out viciously at everyone, (Producer) Bob Whitehead loved the scene — ‘If only every scene in the play could be as good as that one,’ he sighed — but it frightened Shirley because it exposed the Achilles’ heel in her acting.
“We were standing onstage, discussing the scene during a rehearsal break. Tension was high. Pointing to the auditorium, she said, ‘I want them to like me.’ That desire was the flaw in her acting, a desire shared by far too many of her peers. It limits the actor, it’s destructive to his performance and, thus inevitably, to the play.”
Although Booth wouldn’t play mean on stage, she could do it well enough in real life.
Finally dismissing the director Harold Clurman as ineffective, Booth devised a way to remind him of it. “Each evening out of town before the performance began, Shirley gathered the small cast on stage to play a game she had invented: Who knew a worse director than Harold Clurman?” Laurents recalled. “No matter what name was proposed, she knocked it down: No, no, Harold Clurman was worse. He was onstage once or twice to hear the game: he laughed pretend-cheerful.”
The director and the star had clashed over, among other things, her approach to a central scene. “Di Rossi, the Italian Leona is falling in love with, has a speech where he tells her he knows all too well what she dreams:
“He is young, handsome, rich, witty, brilliant. A gondola of his own. A duke, or a count at the very least. And — unmarried. Well, I am a shopkeeper. Not handsome. Not rich, not young, not witty, not brilliant. No title, no gondola. And not unmarried. But Miss Samish, I am a man and I want you. But you? ‘It’s wrong, it’s wicked, it’s this, it’s that.’ You are a hungry child to who someone brings ravioli. ‘But I don’t want ravioli. I want beefsteak!’ You are hungry, Miss Samish. Eat the ravioli.
“And Leona answers: ‘I’m not that hungry.’
Harold thought the exchange touching, capable of bringing out the Kleenex. Shirley assessed ‘Eat the ravioli’ as a big laugh to be topped by her ‘I’m not that hungry.’ The actor playing Di Rossi had no opinion. He barely spoke English: his pronunciation of ‘count’ often came out as ‘cunt.’ — quite confusing in context.
‘The playwright felt the scene as a whole was touching but comedy often makes a scene more touching and did so in that scene. Shirley was totally right about the two laughs. The first performance before an audience proved her case.
“Di Rossi got a roar. Shirley helped him with a timed turn of her head, didn’t step on the laugh but let it roll until an alarm clock in her gut went off and said Go and she did. She shot her line out and brought down the house. She helped Di Rossi because she knew it helped her but also because she was a very generous actor. The best always are.”
Laurents was of the opinion, by the way, that Leona Samish in fact “ate the ravioli,” and having created the character, he ought to know. But his opinion cut no ice with Booth.
“I’ve thought it out carefully, and I’m convinced she doesn’t,” Booth said, quoted in a biography by David C. Tucker. “Even Arthur Laurents, the author, argued about it with me, but I said, ‘After all, Arthur, I should know. I was there.’”
Playwright Arthur Laurents — the author of The Time of the Cuckoo, Gypsy, The Turning Point and The Way We Were— experienced more than his share of tortured personal drama in his sexuality.
Laurents spent years — and 10 percent of his income — on a psychoanalyst who unhelpfully assured him that his homosexuality would vanish because homosexuality doesn’t exist.
Then Irene Mayer Selznick put Laurents in touch with psychiatrist Judd Marmor, who illuminated the issue for him.
“At our first meeting, Marmor didn’t look wither impressive or compassionate,” Laurents wrote. “Nevertheless, when he asked me why I was in his office, the reply came right out with no hesitation: ‘I’m afraid I'm homosexual.’
“‘ Why afraid?’
“ ‘Because I don’t want to be.’
“ ‘Why not?’
“ ‘You know, it’s dirty and disgusting.’
“ ‘I don’t know anything about it. I just believe whoever or whatever you are, what matters is that you lead your life with pride and dignity.’
“I had never heard anyone say that. Even though I could see he meant it, it was hard for me to believe he meant it. Hard to believe anyone could or anyone else did. Hard to believe it was true, hard to believe I could do it. Yet I was elated. I didn’t know why, but then, I didn’t know that sentence had put me into turnaround.
“No one had to tell me that sexuality is where we all begin. The woods were full of homosexuals trying to hide from themselves and to live a lie. I could see them all too clearly. I didn’t much like them, which was probably why I couldn’t see myself as one of them. But just what was my sexuality? I wavered, I seesawed. What I had to learn was that the sooner I accepted whatever I was, the sooner I would start to grow up.”
Marmor ended up helping many more gay people than Laurents. While he was president of the American Psychiatric Association, the group abandoned the practice of classifying homosexuality as an illness.
But Laurents, and America, still had a good ways to go. Later, while developing The Way We Were as a film, director Sydney Pollack told Laurents, “You don’t know how everybody in Hollywood is amazed by you.” Oh, why? “Because you've written the best love story in years and you’re a homosexual.”
A gay person who understands love. Fancy that.
Laurents also felt he understood betrayal. He’d certainly seen enough of it.
Blacklisted in Hollywood in the McCarthy era, Laurents loathed the informers who “named names” to the anticommunist witch hunters, ruining other careers but saving their own. But several of those informers, like director Elia Kazan and choreographer Jerome Robbins, were Laurents’ friends and collaborators, so the situation was complex even as the emotions remained raw. Robbins, for example, claimed he had resisted naming names for three years but finally did so because he was threatened with public exposure of his homosexuality.
“When Jerry informed, he assumed Hollywood would be his just as Broadway was his, and therefore his talent would excuse any behavior, including informing,” Laurents recalled in his memoir, Original Story By.
“ ‘I suppose I won’t know for years whether I did the right thing,’ (Robbins) said.
“ ‘Oh, I can tell you right now,’ I answered. ‘You were a shit.’
“He cried. It was the first time I had ever seen Jerry Robbins cry; it got to me. He knew how I felt about informers — God knows he had heard it enough. But we were friends, he expected the loyalty from me that he himself hadn’t given friends; I realized all that but we had a past, our friendship was special. What I didn’t realize but came to learn was that no one is special to an informer except his own special self.”
Keby sme sa postavili všetci do jedného šíku, nepotrebovali by sme žiadnych 7 Statočných Jánošíkov, ktorí sa zjavili kde inde, ako v domovine Vasiľa Biľaka na Východe Republiky. Nie však v rusínskom Svidníku ale v maďarských Košiciach. Hahaha. Celkom dobre sa pozerá na tých 7 Statočných Jánošíkov, ktorí chcú vyhrať voľby vo VUC a následne poraziť aj Fica. Asi [...]
The Saguenay Youth Study (SYS) is a two-generational study of adolescents and their parents (n = 1029 adolescents and 962 parents) aimed at investigating the aetiology, early stages and trans-generational trajectories of common cardiometabolic and brain diseases. The ultimate goal of this study is to identify effective means for increasing healthy life expectancy. The cohort was recruited from the genetic founder population of the Saguenay Lac St Jean region of Quebec, Canada. The participants underwent extensive (15-h) phenotyping, including an hour-long recording of beat-by-beat blood pressure, magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and abdomen, and serum lipidomic profiling with LC-ESI-MS. All participants have been genome-wide genotyped (with ∼ 8 M imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms) and a subset of them (144 adolescents and their 288 parents) has been genome-wide epityped (whole blood DNA, Infinium HumanMethylation450K BeadChip). These assessments are complemented by a detailed evaluation of each participant in a number of domains, including cognition, mental health and substance use, diet, physical activity and sleep, and family environment. The data collection took place during 2003–12 in adolescents (full) and their parents (partial), and during 2012–15 in parents (full). All data are available upon request.
Кексы з Howard Hughes зрабілі самую талковую і найбольш прыцягнутую да актуальных ведаў анімацыю: Dna Molecular Biology Visualizations - Пакаваньне й рэплікацыя ДНК
Hispanic Americans comprise the largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority in the USA. In Houston, Texas, 44% of the population is of Hispanic descent, with the majority being Mexican Americans (78%). This population is under-represented in health-related research despite their high prevalence of obesity and diabetes, which may predispose them to cancer and other chronic conditions. Recognizing the need for a greater research effort into the health risks of Hispanic Americans, the population-based Mexican American (Mano a Mano) Cohort study was launched in 2001. This is an open cohort with enrolment ongoing to 2019, and as of 30 June 2014, 23 606 adult participants from over 16 600 households were enrolled. Bilingual interviewers elicit information in person on demographics, acculturation, lifestyle, occupation, medical history, family cancer history, self-reported and measured height and weight, and other exposures. Urine, blood and saliva samples have been collected at baseline from 43%, 56% and 63% of participants, respectively. DNA samples are available for about 90% of participants. Incident cancers and other chronic diseases are ascertained through annual telephone re-contact and linkage to the Texas Cancer Registry and/or medical records. Molecular data such as genetic ancestry markers, blood telomere length and HbA1c, a marker of impaired glucose tolerance, are available for a substantial proportion of the participants. Data access is provided on request [email@example.com]. For further information please visit [www.mano-mano.us].
Pa kad me vec vuces za istinu, nema tog turca koji ce napraviti ajvar da primirise domacem...mnogo vrsta sam ajvara probala od raznih proizvodjaca, i ostala sam dosledna tradiciji, svake godine bar 10-ak tegli domaceg napravim...i jedna kaca kupusa tek da se nadje za mezetluka... za sve ostalo tu je master card
3x krásná značková trička cca 1-2 roky, TOP STAV, výšivky či nášivky, zn. Minoti, Rifle, Cherokee. Lze je nosit cca do 2 let. PC za všechna byla přes 800,- . TOP STAV. Vhodné i jako dárek. Nabízím celkem opravdu symbolicky za 120,- (+ pošta)
2x k ...
Kvalitní krásné hračky pro nejmenší :-) V bezvadném stavu!! Fisher Price telefon s funkcemi (hraje melodii), kousátko žabička, labyrint se žirafou, dřevěné kousátku s rolničkou, koule s chrastítky, Fisher Price lev a kalíšky... cena celkem 450,- ...
Bezdeszczowe i wręcz upalne dwie dekady września spowodowały, że kukurydza na ziarno w tempie ekspresowym zaczęła dosychać na polu. W centrum kraju, gdzie opadów notuje się w tym sezonie najmniej, od zeszłego tygodnia trwają już zbiory kukurydzy. Pierwsze sygnały jakie dochodzą do nas od rolników mówią o całkiem przyzwoitych plonach i co równie cieszy niskiej wilgotności ziarna. Martwi jednak, że z dnia na dzień spada drastycznie cena za ziarno.
Prosięta i lochy mają różne optimum temperaturowe otoczenia, w którym czują się najlepiej. Dlatego podczas modernizacji porodówki Marcin Szopa zdecydował się na budowę specjalnej instalacji wodnej, która teraz dodatkowo ogrzewa strefę dla prosiąt nowo narodzonych i odsadzonych.
If you are legally married and how the property is held? Recently had an older couple downsizing; where they had already purchased a condo. When selling the house I asked if it was held jointly? The husband said in his name only and didn't need the wife's signature. The wife said they took VOWs in front of the Priest but they did not get a marriage license. I pressed to have the wife sign as a party to the transaction. The Husband's lawyer called demanding I stop insisting on Spousal Consent to Sale of the Matrimonial home, I simply responded "If [he] provided me with a letter of indemnity to Save me harmless from any subsequent claims I would be pleased to follow his lawful instructions" [CRICKETS] Other things I need to ask;
How to Validate Information Your Clients Provide The word “lie” is a noun that is defined as “an intentionally false statement”. Has a client lied when they provided inaccurate information to you? Some industry professionals think so – we are not so sure. When a client provides you with their information or information about their property, and then that information turns out being incorrect, more often than not it’s because your client was:
You can have a whopper of a lie, when someone knows they are concealing from you, right down to little white lies (as perceived by the client) where a problem or two in the home is not disclosed to you and the client hoping it will slip by. While little white lies are far more common than whoppers, both can cause big problems. This is why, as a real estate sales professional, you have to:
Ensure that you are clearly asking your client the right questions.
Ensure that you are equipped to validate information your clients provide to you.
In real estate, it seems that there are key areas/circumstances where omissions and non-disclosures often come into play:
Issues with the property that a homeowner may be aware of.
The client thinks that the property is worth far more than it is.
Someone else on title to a property.
Financial challenges with the borrower or the property – perhaps there is no equity, the mortgage is in default or there is a lien.
Here are some tips for you to validate clients’ provided information:
Try to have as complete information as possible. Ask lots of questions and be calculated about the questions that you ask. Doing so may uncover an issue before you spend time and expense and enable you to guide your client as to how they can navigate their issue.
Perform some basic due diligence. You can run a search on GeoWarehouse to validate homeowner and mortgage information, as well as check the sales history on the property and sales comps. If you suspect that there is a lien, you can use the GeoWarehouse store to obtain a Parcel Register* to validate same.
Financial challenges – this can be 2 prong. Financial challenges with the client could mean that they may have difficulty getting a mortgage, and financial challenges with the property could mean that there is not enough equity to pay your fees. You can learn of financial challenges with the property using step 2. You can learn of financial challenges with the client by asking them (if they require a mortgage) for a pre-approval or to speak with their broker to confirm that there won’t be any surprises on that side.
Undisclosed problems with the property itself – in these instances the homeowner may not even be aware of a problem with a property. You may not be a home inspector but there are some noticeable things that may tip you off. It’s better that your client know and address it than to have potential buyers come through who notice and then decide not to make an offer. Here are some things inside your client’s home that you can take a look at – or take a look at when showing other homes to your clients:
Plumbing – in the kitchen and all bathrooms:
Open cupboards and check if you see visible leaks or signs of water damage
Run water to check water pressure
Water heater – check the age
If appliances will be included – ensure that the fridge, stove, oven, dishwasher, washer and dryer all work by turning them on.
Finally – Google is also an excellent source for information. Through a Google search you can learn if there was a disaster in the area where the home was, a flood, fires – all sorts of things. http://www.geowarehouseblog.ca/how-to-validate-information-your-clients-provide/
Originally posted on the Village on Sewanee Creek: How many times have you heard people who lived through the great depression say that? I have heard that phrase countless times from my parents and many of “the greatest generation”. What a blessed state of ignorance that phrase describes. It is a state of profound and…
Joe Budden has gone viral, again. This time hes viral for the Migos beef that happened during the BET Awards. Anyways, Joe has been going on the tour explaining the beef. Our friends at 103.9 Boom Philly, talked to
The story behind this video is that the young guy was a smuggler for the Zeta drug cartel, he was captured by rivals and before being executed he gave away his mother’s business address in which she was subsequently kidnapped and beheaded too.
This was a fun mugshot! It even has it’s own video documentary (embedded below). I hope you like how it turned out.
I contributed to a video series that the fine folks at Great Grains are working on called “A Salute to Starters”. They wanted to interview me on camera and talk about my Mugshot Monday project.
It was a fun topic in the context of creating my mugshots. Monday is THE START of our week and the day traditionally sucks because it’s hard to get going. But I choose to post these photos and stories every Monday.
When I think about it, I believe my mugshots are therapeutic. I honestly don’t feel like my Mondays suck at all because of them – it’s something I look forward to.
Another “starting” theme that came out was that I really had no idea WHAT my project would become exactly. But I just started posting. And then it evolved and iterated. I didn’t really know that every mug had a story back then, but now that’s what it turned into.
And ever since I started I can’t seem to quit.
A+ for the video edits – it turned out awesome! Thanks for making my ramblings sound intelligent. I’ll give myself a C+ on the interview – my goal was to NOT sound like an idiot and it’s something I want to continue to work on.
It was super fun experience! And I love the mugshot and the story.
The mug I’m holding is obviously a mock-up, but I hope Great Grains decides to make some mugs. It’s the perfect size for cereal eating.
Full disclosure: I didn’t get paid for doing this, but they did give me some free cereal. The Great Grains granola in particular was really good. However, I don’t know what flavor it was because my kids finished it off before I could check. Haha!
Here’s the video: “A Salute to Starters“
See also my 380+ photos from the Mugshot Monday project here: www.MugshotMonday.com – Every Mug Has A Story
Ihr Gesicht hat jeder deutsche Fußball-Fan schon gesehen. Ihre Kurven auch.
Ines Sainz, Sportreporterin des mexikanischen Fernsehsenders TV Azteca, hat schon bei der WM 2006 "Schweini und Poldi" den Kopf verdreht - die Interviewszene in "Deutschland – ein Sommermärchen" ist legendär.
Elf Jahre später ist die sexy Blondine die bekannteste Sportjournalistin Lateinamerikas. Mit den Nationalteams von Mexiko und Deutschland (das Confed-Cup-Halbfinale ab 20 Uhr im LIVETICKER) kennt sich das ehemalige Bikini-Model bestens aus.
Sainz: "Deutsche haben Wettbewerbshärte"
"Auch die Spieler der jungen DFB-Auswahl in Russland haben die deutsche DNA. Das heißt, sie haben Wettbewerbshärte und eine klare Vorstellung, wie sie spielen wollen", sagt die 38-Jährige exklusiv zu SPORT1.
"Die Stars wie Julian Draxler und Marc-Andre ter Stegen sind hier zu Säulen einer sehr gut zusammengestellten Mannschaft geworden." Das deutsche Team habe Persönlichkeit, Charakter und sei daher immer gefährlich.
Sainz von Draxler angetan
Besonders bei Draxler gerät Sainz geradezu ins Schwärmen: "Der Kapitän sticht hier heraus. Er ist der Leader und wird es in nicht zu ferner Zukunft auch sein, wenn die Mannschaft alle Stars dabei hat."
Auch die Leidenschaft, die Laufwege und das Spielverständnis von Joshua Kimmich gefallen ihr.
Dennoch drückt die Mutter von vier Kindern natürlich ihren Landsleuten die Daumen.
Chicharito und Fabian sind Deutschland-Insider
"Es wird uns sicherlich helfen, dass Chicharito und Marco Fabian die Bundesliga ganz genau kennen", meint Sainz.
"Sie haben die physischen Stärke des DFB-Teams, seine Schnelligkeit und das schnelle Passspiel auf dem Schirm."
Das Duo wisse aber auch, wie deutsche Abwehrreihen reagieren. "Sie werden ihre Freiräume finden. Sie haben nicht umsonst so viele Tore in der Bundesliga erzielt (Chicharito 39, Fabian 7, Anm.d.Red.)."
Chicharito soll es richten
Auf dem Leverkusener ruhen dabei die größten Hoffnungen. "Von ihm erwarten wir, dass er seine Cleverness einsetzt und trifft", sagt Sainz.
"Sein Torriecher und die Fähigkeit, den Ball bei jeder Gelegenheit sofort aufs Tor zu bringen, sind seine großen Stärken. Er sollte möglichst jede Chance nutzen. Denn an Effektivität mangelt es uns manchmal."
Unter dem Kolumbianer Juan Carlos Osorio, der 2015 als Nationaltrainer übernahm, hat "El Tri" eine enorme Widerstandsfähigkeit entwickelt.
In Russland lagen die Mexikaner in den Gruppenspielen drei Mal zurück. Sie gewannen zwei Partien und spielten einmal Remis. "Wir zweifeln nicht mehr an uns", erklärt Sainz diesen Umstand. "Und wir verlieren nicht die Kontrolle."
Mentaltrainer ist Mexikos Trumpf
Warum das so ist, erklärt ihr Kollege Kaziro Aoyama von Telemundo Deportes.
"Seit November 2016 ist der spanische Mentaltrainer Imanol Ibarrondo Teil des Trainerteams", sagt der TV-Kommentator zu SPORT1.
"Er hält Motivationsansprachen, stärkt das Selbstvertrauen der Spieler und den Mannschaftsgeist. Dadurch haben sie eine mentale Stärke entwickelt, die sie Rückschläge überwinden lässt und befähigt, immer wieder zurückzuschlagen."
Fünf Mal hat Mexiko bislang bei großen Turnieren gegen Deutschland gespielt, fünf Mal verloren.
"Diesmal haben wir die Qualität, Deutschland auf Augenhöhe zu begegnen", behauptet Ibarrondo. "Der Glaube ist da, Deutschland wirklich schlagen zu können."
During his years as premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev denounced many of the policies and atrocities of Joseph Stalin. Once, as he censured Stalin in a public meeting, Khrushchev was interrupted by a shout from a heckler in the audience. “You were one of Stalin’s colleagues. Why didn’t you stop him?” “Who said that?” roared Khrushchev. An agonizing silence followed as nobody in the room dared move a muscle. Then Khrushchev replied quietly, “Now you know why.” It is not always easy to stand up and be counted.
The Gospel text of today deals with what it takes to stand up and be counted. It is part of Matthew’s Mission Discourse in which Jesus, after commissioning his disciples, gives them both instruction for and exhortation in Mission. Today’s reading deals with exhortation. The words “Do not be afraid” appear three times. ‘Do not be afraid to be open about faith, do not be afraid of powerful opponents, and do not be afraid about what future holds in store. All three lay in God’s hands.’ The message therefore is this: Confidence in God’s presence and promise even in the midst of persecution. The message is: ‘Do not be afraid to stand up and be counted because God is on the side of those who fight for justice and the truth.’
It is possible that fear might lead to the disciples remaining silent and not communicating the message of Jesus, which is a message of the Kingdom. While the disciples should expect persecution, they should not be paralyzed by fear. They must continue to give bold witness to the message entrusted to them that in Jesus and his words and works, the Kingdom of heaven has indeed come. The disciples will be tempted to give up when things get difficult, but they are called to persevere till the end with the witness that they must give. The ideas expressed in this part of the Gospel are similar to the first reading from Jeremiah.
After castigating the leaders for not obeying God’s word and warning them that therefore they would be conquered by Babylon, Jeremiah is scourged and put in stocks by Passhur, the head of the temple police. The text of today, spoken after his release, includes Jeremiah’s sixth lament, in which he begins by railing at God for “enticing” him into proclaiming God’s message and then allowing him to be mocked and shamed. Though he is tempted to give up his vocation of being a prophet (and so speaking God’s word on behalf of God) because he is aware that people are plotting against him, he perseveres. This perseverance results from his confidence in the fact that God will come to his aid and deliver him from his enemies.
These enemies cannot do real harm, because though physical death is indeed a possibility for a disciple of Jesus, it will only be a transition, says Jesus. God’s power is much more than even death. All that happens to the disciple is known by God. As surely as God knows the comings and goings of even the littlest bird, so he knows everything that happens to the disciple. He is always the one who is in charge. He is “father” to the disciples and so the disciples are related to Jesus as brothers and sisters. This relationship between the Father, Jesus and the disciples must lead to witnessing to Jesus and all that he stands for including justice and truth and to hope for the future.
The best example of this confidence according to the reading from Romans is Jesus himself. He was obedient unlike Adam; he remained sinless and faithful unlike Adam and thus made grace reign freely where there would have been universal condemnation. He dared to stand up and be counted. He was unafraid even in the face of ignominy, persecution and death. Thus through his life, mission, death and resurrection Jesus has given his disciples the example they must follow, the path they must take and the way they must walk.
To walk this way continues to be difficult especially today when fears of all kinds continue to dominate our lives and take control of us, not allowing us to be the kind of persons we are meant to be. There are numerous people who will try their best to stifle the message of justice and peace; simply because it is beneficial to them do so. There are many who will try to shut down the voices of those who protest against discrimination and violence.
By looking to Jesus we see that the trials and sufferings of this life, especially what we face as we try to live out and share our faith, are short-lived. We should, therefore, not give in to fear; knowing that in the end truth will triumph over untruth, justice over injustice, and eternal life over death, as we are able to see already in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Rozhodol som sa podeliť sa s vami o príbeh, respektíve krátku historku, ktorá sa udiala pred necelým týždňom na železničnej stanici nemenovaného kúpeľného mestečka na strednom Slovensku. V hlavných úlohách vystúpia dvaja policajti Železníc SR a ja ...
Recorded in front of a live audience and benefitting Part Hall and KBCZ 90.1 FM, Boulder Creek, CA, we covered broken internet, vegetarianism permanently reshaping the human genome, Amazon buying Whole Foods, new browser tech, Meditation changing your DNA, court protecting your online social rights, and much more geek news of the week including questions form our live audience.
They were so close to looking legit but they couldn’t help themselves with the all-caps and exclamation marks
I can’t imagine how it could be a hard problem for Finder to remember the right view settings for each folder.
RT @alexhern: The insane bus tunnel thing is dead because of course it is. [qz.com]
RT @alexhern: It got proposed, built, and shut down in the time it’s taken Hyperloop to build a test tunnel in a desert.
A computer hard disk drive (HDD) is the mechanism that controls the positioning, reading and writing of the hard disk, which furnishes data storage. A hard disk drive -- often shortened to hard drive -- and hard disk are not the same thing, but they are packaged as a unit and either term can refer to the whole unit. Hard disk drives can be found in desktop computers, mobile devices, consumer electronics and enterprise storage arrays in data centers.
5 Data Storage Technologies to Watch in 2016
For the past 13 years, the experts at SearchStorage.com have honored the best and brightest technologies for the upcoming year. As always, we're proud to present a batch of technologies we believe will make a big impact on the data storage market.
History of hard disk drives
The hard disk was created in 1953 by engineers at IBM who wanted to find a way to provide random access to high capacities of data at a low cost. The disk drives developed were the size of refrigerators, could store 3.75 megabytes of data and began shipping in 1956. Memorex, Seagate and Western Digital were other early vendors of hard disk drive technology.
Hard disk drive form-factor size has continued to decrease as the technology evolves. By the mid-1980s, 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch form factors were introduced, and it was at this time they first became a standard in personal computers (PCs).
Hard disk drive density has increased since the technology was first developed. The first hard disk drives were able to store megabytes of data, while today they are in the terabyte (TB) range. Hitachi released the first 1 TB hard drives in 2007. In 2015, HGST announced the first 10 TB hard drive.