Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gun Shows and Politics

I like going to gun shows. It is not the guns that interest me. It is the people. I could never understand why the Democratic Party ever embraced gun control as a policy. There is no upside. But there is and has been a huge downside. Want to know why the Democrats lost their grip on white, working class voters south of the Mason Dixon line? No need to read any long winded books and articles employing all sorts of voting data to try and explain electoral behavior. Just go to a gun show.
The people that attend these events are "regular folks." Basically, working class, middle to lower income, overweight, high school education, very patriotic, and not too sophisticated when it comes to anything. Except guns. Economically, they are probably more in tune with the Democrats. But the gun issue is what makes them vote Republican. That is what Democrats could never figure out: that gun is a symbol of their independence and freedom. In the presidential campaign of 1992, I heard Bill Clinton give a speech where he declared that he would never take people's guns away from them. He said it in a southern drawl. It sounded convincing. I knew then that he would win. Conversely, it is accepted wisdom that a major reason the Republicans won the house in 1994 was the health reform issue. Wrong. As Clinton pointed out in his memoirs, the biggest factor was the assault weapons ban that Congress passed in the summer of 1994. It alienated the very people who would normally vote Democratic except for the gun issue. He was dead on. Democrats have always stereotyped gun owners as being ignorant hayseeds who are too dumb to know what is best for them.

Big mistake. The people at gun shows are racially diverse. But they share a common cultural trait: they have a right to defend themselves and their property free from government harassment. Here is a cheat sheet on the cultural tastes of an average gun show attendee: Dunkin Donuts over Starbucks, Walmart over Bloomingdales, Ford F150 over a Lexus. You get the drift. So if you want to take a peek inside a real slice of Americana, visit a gun show. Chat with the vendors. It is fun.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Donald Draper For President?

I am a big fan of Mad Men. A great antidote to our sterilized culture of political correctness. I was watching the initial episode early this morning for probably the 10th time as I am studying the historical accuracy of the design sets and mannerisms of the characters. It is eery how they get it right. Then, with the imaginary smell of cigarette smoke in my face, I clicked on Drudge and it hit me. Is Donald Draper running for president? Take a look at these pictures.
My advice to Romney? Put a Lucky Strike in your left hand and a Scotch in your right, and, voila, you have my vote and that of another 10 million men in America. And as a finishing touch to the makeover, pursue an affair with Sarah Palin in some swanky hotel. Screw the media. It will be a huge plus. It will add a hard edge to your image. Hey, who would you rather have dealing with the dictators of the world: a guy who looks like the figurine on a wedding cake or an incarnation of a 1960's real man? I rest my case.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Peter Falk/A Woman Under The Influence

Peter Falk died two weeks ago. A great actor who performed superbly in many different roles.
My first and lasting memory of him was as a cab driver in the 1963 slapstick "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World."

Most people remember him as Colombo, the disheveled TV detective that aired on alternate Sunday nights in the early to mid 70's.

I read many of his obituaries. There was the obligatory Colombo citing. But one columnist wrote of his best performance: A Woman Under The Influence.
I heard of the movie but never watched it. The name alone would have made me turn away. Too much 1970's New Age psycho babble about middle class/feminine dysfunction caused by who else, men. But I checked out some reviews on Netflix and put it on the top of my queue. I watched it last night with my dog and a bottle of wine. In a word, devastating. I cannot get it out of my head. The story is about a working class family whose mother, Gene Rowlands, suffers from some sort of mental illness that affects her family to the point that she must be institutionalized. She has three young children. Her husband, Falk, is a blue collar worker who, from what one gathers, works for a utility repairing broken power lines and the like. It is dangerous work. He is a moral, decent, man, who does his best to deal with something he was never really intellectually equipped to understand.
But he moves on. Like a good father and husband so typical of millions of average men of the era, he did not complain but did what he had to do and asked for nothing in exchange. The movie is made in docudrama mode. Think Curb Your Enthusiasm without the laughs. The cultural backdrop reminded me of The Deer Hunter. The rest is just one depressing thing after another.
But some scenes stand out. At the beginning of the movie, Falk desperately wants to return home from work to be with his wife. He arranges for his children to go to his mother's for the weekend. But he gets called back to work and must deal with another utility emergency. His wife goes out for a drink and meets a bar hanger on and goes back to her house and sleeps with him. Falk returns home later oblivious to the transgression. Almost makes you cry. Later on, Rowlands is watching a friend's children who are playing with her own. The father picks them up and finds the children have created a huge mess in the house. He tries to get his children out of the house and ends up in the bedroom. Falk returns home and discovers the chaos. He sees another man in his house and assumes something that is not true. He slaps his wife across her face. It is all very sad. An honest family man has had his zone of sanctity invaded. And lastly, the children. They will be forever scarred by their mother's illness. I wondered how I would have felt if in the early 60's my mother went off the deep end and my father, a man strikingly similar to Falk's character, had to deal with it. People back then laughed at such things: nut house, funny farm, loony bin. My friends would have ridiculed it and I too if the shoe were on the other foot. But thankfully for me, it was not to be.
So if you want to see another side of Falk, rent this movie. It is worth the two and half hours.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dead Or Alive?

Did you ever find out someone you thought was dead is alive? I did this morning. Came across this. I honestly thought Larry Hagman died ten years ago. I am still not convinced he is alive.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kelly's, RIP

I was walking around downtown Hollywood last night after dinner and was shocked that Kelly's has closed. The place was a throwback to a time when a bar did what bars do best: serve drinks. One of those places that was serving beer and a shot at 7 am. Nothing fancy. No pretensions. Sure, 99% of the patrons had a monkey on their back and more personal problems than most of us can imagine. But, hey, who ever said life was supposed to be easy.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

As I approach the gates of heaven;
St. Peter I will tell;
One more soldier reporting sir;
I've served my time in hell.
Mark Anthony Gresswell.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Old Time Rock and Roll and Politically Correct Speech

President Obama caught some flak recently for inviting a pop singer to the White House who had either written or sang a song sympathetic to a cop killer. Elites in this country have always scorned the music or movie industry for peddling lyrics that are not in tune with mainstream thinking. Call it a form of censorship but it is a strain in the American experience that will never go away. I recall sometime in 1969 or 70, Spiro Agnew gave a speech that ripped into Easy Rider for its promotion of illicit drug use. That seems rather comical today in that its major protagonist, Jack Nicholson, spends most of his public time sitting with his long time friend Lou Adler courtside at Lakers' games looking a lot more weather beaten than Agnew ever did.

You can fast forward this narrative to Tipper Gore in the late 80's testifying before Congress on the dangers of rap music and then Bill Clinton tearing into Sister Souljah for her lyrics. My daughters, when they were teenagers, had all sorts of racist songs on their Ipods. The infamous "N" word was thrown around like pennies in an arcade. That most of these songs were sung by black performers seemed to make it all acceptable. I have very little knowledge of any of these songs because, thanks to Apple and Itunes, my universe of music begins circa 1900 with Scott Joplin and ends with Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love around 1985. About a week ago, I was listening to my collection of Rolling Stones music and when Brown Sugar was played, it got me to thinking. Even though I have listened to this song at least 500 times, I never did understand the lyrics. As with most songs of the era, that does not matter. You simply interpose your own fantasies into the beat and then enjoy the ride. So I Googled the lyrics and here they are:

Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields,
Sold in a market down in new orleans.
Scarred old slaver know he's doin alright.
Hear him whip the women just around midnight.
Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good
(a-ha) brown sugar, just like a young girl should

Drums beating, cold english blood runs hot,
Lady of the house wondrin where it's gonna stop.
House boy knows that he's doin alright.
You should a heard him just around midnight.
Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good
(a-ha) brown sugar, just like a black girl should

I bet your mama was a tent show queen, and all her boy
Friends were sweet sixteen.
Im no schoolboy but I know what I like,
You should have heard me just around midnight.

Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good
(a-ha) brown sugar, just like a young girl should.

I said yeah, I said yeah, I said yeah, I said
Oh just like a, just like a black girl should.

I said yeah, I said yeah, I said yeah, I said
Oh just like, just like a black girl should.
What we have here is a song about a slave trader bringing in a shipment of black women to New Orleans, literally whipping them into shape and then raping them at night in a whorehouse. And this is all supposed to be "just like a black girl should." If that is not enough, fasten your seat belt and check this out:

Gotta love Jagger. It amazes me that this song never was controversial. I guess the Stones could get away with it. Imagine Pat Boone or Loretta Lynn singing this ode. I doubt they would have pulled it off. Looking back at it, I have to congratulate myself. I always thought the self appointed morality police were full of themselves. Their warnings of moral decay were all hot air used to pump up their own political careers. Like the French say, plus ca la change, plus ca la meme chose. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Irony is the source of humor. It is also provides a lense through which events can be judged in proper perspective. I was reading the Wall Street Journal yesterday (yes, the print version) and could not help but be amazed at this picture and caption.

We have the following:
1. "Accounting for Evil."
2. "28,060 deaths."
3. "helping murder nearly 30,000.00 people."
To which add:
4. "a 5 year sentence" and
5. "He was freed, pending an appeal."
There were more pictures of him in a wheelchair leaving the courthouse which only adds to the spectacle.

I wonder how many people showed up at his "camp" (another grotesque literary misnomer) crippled, maimed, or sick and were shot on sight and then discarded like yesterday's garbage. In any event, if you are going to account for evil, account for evil.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Commander Cody

I was driving home last night on I95 and some kid rocketed past me in a small car that sounded like it was carrying 12 cylinders. Had to have been going at least 110. It felt like a 747 missed its landing on the runway nearby. Kind of thing you see almost every day now on a motorcycle. Made me wonder about the youth of today. Of course, now that I am in my mid 50's such a display of depravity got me to using language and expressing feelings that my father did in the early 70's when I was letting my hair grow and doing everything I could to piss him off. As that car blasted away with no cop in sight, inexplicably the following words crossed my mind: "son, you're going to drive me to drinking if you don't stop driving that HOT ROD LINCOLN." I was so fixated on this that I logged onto Itunes via my Iphone with the other hand on the wheel and bought the song (only 69 cents). And here it is:

Good old Commander Cody. Sort of a Chuck Berry on Steroids. Listening to the lyrics, I now have a much better appreciation for adults of that era who swore that my generation was destined for a permanent place in hell. At least for me, my place in Satan's home will be earned not for anything I did as a kid but for what I did and thought of doing when I was old enough to know better. In my jaded mind, I juxtaposed the lyrics against the rantings of many in gentile society in the past 20 years about the dangers of hip hop and rap music. My knowledge of the former is restricted to the damage they do on South Beach every Memorial Day weekend and the latter to the constant use of the "N" word that would shout from both my daughters' Ipods when they were younger. But the rap lyrics are nothing compared to the Commander. I guess there was a time when there was nothing more American than driving down the road at 100 mph while knocking down your neighbors' mailboxes tossing empty cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon out the window onto their lawns.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Houston Person And The Joys Of The Saxophone

I love listening to saxophone jazz music. Two months ago I read Nat Hentoff's review of the life of Houston Person. Fifteen years ago, I would have read it and made a mental note to myself that if I ever came upon the music in a record store I would buy it. In other words, it would never happen. But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I went right to my Itunes account and voila, in 90 seconds 30 of his songs were in my Ipod. I listen to his collection at least once a week, usually on Saturday or Sunday morning. If you like the sax, his music is highly recommended. Read Hentoff's review. It reinforces my conviction that African American music(as well as every other kind of music) reached its peak in this country in the late 1950's. Life was tough and that unfortunate fact was reflected in some very good music.