Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jewish Novels, Berlin Airlift, Leon Uris' "Armageddon-A Novel of Berlin" and Preserving Our Memory

“To me, a writer is one of the most important soldiers in the fight for survival of the human race. He must stay at his post in the thick of fire to serve the cause of mankind.” 
― Leon Uris

Dr. Suzanne Gossett was a great teacher in the English Department of Loyola University when I was an undergraduates in the early 1970's   I had a course in the Jewish American novel and we read Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Phillip Roth and Henry Roth's Call It Sleep.  I loved Malamud, liked Bellow, detested Phillip Roth and found myself conflicted about the other Roth.  Call it Sleep took a kid by the name of David Schearl from the age of six into early adolescence - the tale is very much like James Joyce's early pages of Portrait of the Artist as Young Man in its imagism and sexual iconography - only in Yiddish, as opposed to Jackeen Dublinese.

The book is a compendium of fear boiling in a little guy.  He gets bullied by family, Reb Yidall his Hebrew instructor, older kids and, of course, a Catholic thug named Leo who gives David a rosary and rapes his little sister.

I presented my conflicts to Dr. Gossett, the novel is powerful and beautifully written, but seems dangerous.  David is a victim for scores of pages and is only freed somehow - Deus Ex Machina -by a step-father who relents from killing the boy and a mother who finally offers him some level of psychological comfort. Call It Sleep is an angst-addict's dope.  I countered Henry Roth with Leon Uris was not part of canon of Jewish novelists in the Loyola offering.

Leon Uris had not time for Freudian, Jungian, or Hegelian deconstructions and dithering.  Jews faced the existential reality of extinction.  Now, that is a problem.

Uris wrote about the common humanity that just might save not only Jews but stupid and self-absorbed planet full of carbon footprints.

Dr. Gossett assured me that, while Leon Uris sold millions books, wrote the screenplay to movies like Gunfight at OK Corral and others,  he was no Saul Bellow.  However, . . ." I could write a paper."

I did - got a B- and noted from my mentress " B'nai B'rith would love your point of view on the self-loathing Jew."   I used Armageddon and Exodus to counter Henry Roth.  Thin gruel. Armageddon and Exodus remain truly great reads. Exodus chronicles the birth of Israel in the wake of Holocaust and Armageddon the Berlin Airlift - contemporary to Israel's geopolitical obstetric agonistes.

This month marks the Anniversary of Berlin Airlift in 1948.  I believe that this event happened to be as much of an existential threat to mankind. The USSR and USA et al were at daggers drawn with blood lusts still up from the Second World War.  Gen. George Marshall and the hundreds of anonymous pilots and crews who flew food and fuel into the Soviet blockaded city of Berlin made Stalin blink.

Leon Uris gives humanity fair warning "It Can Happen Again"  and when it does everyone, not just the Jews, are fair game.

We, all of us, do not have  the time, the temperament, the memory or the luxury to self-loathe.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Identity Assasins in Academics - Even an African American Icon is Fair Game.

"…and by that crimson setting sun, peace come to Forest Glade, and of the Redskins, they was none, but history had been made…" Tully Crow (Lee Marvin)                                             
                                             “It’s banned, o’course” Flann O'Brien

Chick Fil-A makes some serious bird.  One of Chicago's most hilarious alderman, the ever hysterical hipster of the 1st Ward Proco Joe Moreno attempted to ban Chick Fil-A from selling its high quality poultry treats within the Chicago city, because the owners of the fried chicken outlet are devout Christians and do not accept the meme that Two Dads make a Marriage, unlike the current Sonic fast-food commercials and that  is thought crime in au courant Chicago values.

Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, no stranger group thought, heartily agreed with Proco Joe Moreno and in so doing insulted millions of Chicago Christians, Jews and Muslims, as well as fans of tasty chickens.  Chick Filay is cooking up a storm in Chicago - six days a week, because the owners honor the Sabbath.

No ban. Ban Fail.
Americans who subsist on a diet of bullshit, a huge demographic, continue to ban books, flags, crucifixes, opinions that counter to pop culture and HBO, octogenarian slum-lord NBA franchise owners who pillow talk stupidities to the skank du jour, traditional marriage, and the Washington Redskins. 

Redskins will be banned.  I wonder if Joe Kapp* is yet angry about the insensitive franchise that drafted him into the NFL ? Joe Kapp is a Native American. 

Anyone can be banned or have one's identity 'disqualified' and ultimately 'disappeared.'   It is the American Intellectual Way dating back to Brook Farm, Ralphie Emerson, Dave Thoreau, Dr. Lyman Beecher, William Lloyd Garrison, Jane Addams, John Dewey and Roger Baldwin.

Remember Booker T. Washington? John Carroll?  John Dos Passos? Commodore John Barry? Gen. James Shields?   Nikola Tesla?  Mary Harris Jones?  Of course not, as they have been all but effectively disappeared. 

Playing ball with the elite is progressive. Agree and do not disagree and everything will be just Jake.  It does not matter, one's level of achievement, valor, honesty, if the Gold Standard is violated a life, a book, an event is turned to lead by Progressive American Intellectual/Political alchemy.

Take Ralph Ellison, an African American author awarded the National Book Award when I was a wee baby.

Ralph Ellison was the subject of a biography that carved the dead Black up good and proper.  I read Invisible Man many times and students at Leo High School continue to read this singular novel.   Ellison was defended by none other than greatest living essayist of modern times, Joseph Epstein. Epstein took issue with the agenda Ellison biographer Arnold Rampersad.  Unlike so many Americans, Joe Epstein never dines at the All You Can Eat BS Buffet. Voila~!

The tip-off for the kind of book Rampersad has written comes in its blurbs, four of five of which are provided by writers who comprise the main body of the African American intellectual establishment in America: the literary critic and historian Henry Louis Gates Jr., the biographer (of W.E.B.Du Bois) David Levering Lewis, the philosopher Cornel West, and the novelist Toni Morrison. (Where, one wonders, was Maya?) In his play Purlie Victorious, Ossie Davis has one of his characters say to another, "You are a disgrace to the Negro profession." This, really, is the charge, the organizing principle behind Arnold Rampersad's attack on Ralph Ellison: He was a disgrace to the Negro (now African-American) profession. Ellison would, of course, have understood, for there were few things he disliked more than the notion of black establishments and an African-American profession.
Here, without the tedium of his repeated charges, is Rampersad's bill of complaint against Ralph Ellison: He was an ungrateful son, a bad brother, a cheating and otherwise often cruel husband, an unreliable friend. He was a spendthrift (on himself), a cheapskate (when it came to other people), a snob, an elitist, an ingrate, ill-tempered; also condescending, disloyal, a sloppy, sometimes mean, drunk. Did I neglect to mention that he was a misogynist, pretentious, and without elementary sympathy for the young? And, oh yes, he was a boring teacher--though, for some unexplained reason, he failed to sleep with his students. Other than that he was not at all a bad guy.
I never thought Ralph Ellison to be a bad guy either so I took a look at an interview with Arnold Pampersad offered by Book Slut

It’s interesting to me that socially, at a certain point, he seemed to become interested in WASP patronage. In that respect, I don’t think he’s that different from certain Jews. In the book I [call it the] “platinum card of social prestige” associated with WASPs like Robert Penn Warren.. . . One thing that it could be said about Ralph Ellison and Jews is that he remained loyal to what he regarded as the best of Jewish culture to the end of his life. He never surrendered to any kind of anti-Semitism, even though his social climbings took him out of the world of Jews to the world of highly cultivated and wealthy WASPs. When Mrs. Guggenheimer, the person to whom he dedicated Invisible Man, died, he made a distinction between younger Jews and older Jews, who had known more suffering, who had greater difficulty in negotiating the territory between foreignness and Americanness and the old ways and the new ones. And he came down for the older people, who had paid a higher price for that negotiation of the American territory. That’s not a bad reflection on his part. It’s something a lot of people would sympathize with in seeing American Jewry.
Jews are the platinum card of social prestige? The WASP is the Gold Standard?  What valuation might Arnold Rampersad's semiotic hierarchy of valuation place an Irish Catholic from Chicago ?  Copper? Tin? Lead?

Among the many 'crimes' Arnold Rampersad indicts Ralph Ellison for future 'disappearnce' is the great man's refusal re- identify himself, much less allow snippy academic eunuchs to identify him.

:“Who wills to be a Negro?” Ellison says. “I do. I will to be a Negro. I’m proud to be a Negro.” Well, he should have recognized that many blacks could not say that and really mean it. I think he meant it. He believed in it. But they needed the therapy of the Black Power and black arts years in order to get a firmer grip on their sense of themselves and their belonging to America, even though there was a great deal of destructiveness that took place at that time. And I think, personally, that many people lost their way and might have been better served by being closer to Ellison’s definition of blackness or Negroness than the more volatile definitions that were emerging in the ’60s and ’70s.

How dare one? Easily, if you stands for something and refuses to fall for anything.

Well, ban me blind. 

*  Kapp was drafted in the 18th round of the 1959 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, who owned his rights to play professional football in the United States. After the draft, Washington did not contact him, so his only choice was to accept the offer from Jim Finks, the general manager of the CFL's Calgary Stampeders.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Breakwater Chicago? Nah, It's 'Mr. Lucky!' in Color.

Mr. Lucky TV Series.jpg

The pitch for a floating entertainment center about a half-mile off Chicago’s shore is gaining the public’s support — and dollars. Chicago Tribune

Old Black and White TV had some great shows and one of my favorites remains MR. LUCKY - a saga of a Greek gambler and his Mexican pal who owned an off-shore Casino ship, where gaming and entertainment led necessarily to brushes with law enforcement and seedy underworld types.  The guy who played Mr. Lucky, a show based upon a WWII propaganda firm starring Cary Grant, was dead ringer for the dimple-chinned Old Cockney.  His Mexican pal was played by the great Jewish American actor Ross Martin.

Now, it seems that some guy from Plainfield, Illinois by the name of Beau D'Arcy ( I'd kill for that handle) is developing his own Chicagoland Mr. Lucky Playland.

D’Arcy’s plan includes a floating 300-foot vessel with sun decks, restaurants, a swimming pool and room for boats to dock. He told the Tribune last week he sees the project potentially being Chicago’s’ “next Bean,” a reference to Millennium Park’s popular Cloud Gate sculpture.

Back in the day, the music would be done by greats like Henry Mancini; dig this

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I shudder to think what Rahm Emanuel's Chicago would demand: Billy "Uncle Fester" Corgin?  Chief Keef?

Theme tunes aside, what about the opportunity for Fully Kreuzened Boaters to lose an outhouse full of personal savings>

I have no doubt at all that Mr. L. . .D'Arcy has already put the touch on the Illinois Gaming docents for a tour of the Byzantine hoops, mazes, and greased pigs necessary to obtain a 'gaming license.

Mr. Lucky's boat feature in both the movie and TV show was christened Fortuna.

Yes, I know the homonym problem all of us Chicagoans can be afflicted by - sound and sense.

' For Tuna?'  No, not the fish, nor the legendary south side political operative Tuna Carey.  Fortuna is Latin. ( Latin, noun Fortune). 

Well, it is Chicagoland!

Perhps Mr. L . . .D'Arcy's floating venue should be called Alosa pseudoharengus - Alewife.   

Monday, June 09, 2014

Why Americans are Silenced and by Whom - The Progressive Clerisy Explained by Joel Kotkin

Clerisy - Intelligensia - German Klerisei clergy, from Medieval Latin clericia, from Late Latin clericus cleric

Joel Kotkin is Casandra - that is if Casandra of epic Greek and Roman poetry looked like a dock-worker.  Joel Kotkin is a demographer ( studies the great American in his natural habitats: urban, rural and off-the -grid) more concerned with the living and breathing people of his study than the numbers that they represent.

I've been reading Joel Kotkin for years and every trend in population shift with underlying political and culture motor running them has been on the money.  Kotkin warned of the rise of the public sector unions, the titanium hand-cuffs of the welfare state, the Marxist control of immigration debate and the K-Street control of government back when Clinton was chasing interns through the cubicles and closets of the West Wing and few so-called political mavericks listened to his dire predictions.

Joel Kotkin clearly explained the gentrification of rust belt America as a signal accomplishment of Progressive hegemony.  The Smart Sizing of American cities is more about eliminating ethnic neighborhoods and opening up green-space for the elite than it is about meeting the challenges of a down-sized economy.

Somebody Else's Troubles is the meme of the New Progressive Millennium. The elites have their's - Up Yours, Dude.

The elites are the gated community of discourse and debate.  In his latest article published in New Geography reintroduced me to a word that I had forgotten from the time I took Father Charles Rohan, SJ's course on the Revolutions of 1848 at Loyola University in 1973.  That word is clerisy.  Kotkin offered clerisy in a previous New Geography articles on the eve of Term II Obama -

Like empowered bureaucrats everywhere, the clerisy also sometimes reserves a nice “taste” for themselves, much as the old bishops and upper clergy indulged in luxury and even prohibited pleasures of the flesh. Just look at the lavish payouts accorded to Orszag and Treasury Secretary-designate Jacob Lew, who, after serving in the bureaucracy, make millions off the same Wall Street firms that have so benefited from administration policies.
So who loses in the new order? Certainly unfashionable companies  – oil firms, agribusiness concerns, suburban homebuilders — face tougher times from regulators and the mainstream media . But the biggest losers likely will be the small business-oriented middle class. Not surprisingly Main Street, far more than Wall Street, harbors the gravest pessimism about the president’s second term.

These later-day-oligarchs  'wet their beaks' like Don Farnucci and do not countenance any nay-saying.  Telling the mass of folks to keep their opinions to themselves, to 'suck it up and salute,' demands a great deal of shovel-ready engineering and Obama's handlers have done just that in less than eight years and they ain't nearly done!

Kotkin is on it.

An alliance of upper level bureaucrats and cultural elites, the Clerisy, for for all their concerns about inequality, have thrived, unlike most Americans, in recent years. They also enjoy strong relations with the power structure in Washington, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Wall Street.
As the modern clerisy has seen its own power grow, even while the middle class shrinks, it has used its influence to enforce a prescribed set of acceptable ideas. On everything from gender and sexual preference to climate change, those who dissent from the official pieties risk punishment.
This power has been seen recently in a host of cancellations of commencement speakers. Just in the past few months Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, and former UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, have been prevented from speaking by campus virtue squads whose sensibilities they had offended.
The spate of recent cancellation reflect an increasingly overbearing academic culture that promotes speech codes on what is permissible to say and even seeks to provide “trigger warnings” to warn students about the presence of nominally troubling subject matter in readings and discussions so they can avoid the elements of reality they find offensive.
The very term Clerisy first appeared in 1830 in the work of Samuel Coleridge to described the bearers society’s highest ideals: the intellectuals, pastors, scientists charged with transmitting their privileged knowledge them to the less enlightened orders.  
In Chicago, these bearers if society;s highyest ideals are retired terrorits like Billy Ayers and his odious Old Lady, Bernardine Dohrn, Hyde Park/Evanston  Mafia Dons like Abner Mikva, the late Dawn Clark Netsch, and the Red Dorain Grey Dr. Quentin Young, The Money - SEIU, Personal PAC Illinois, and Fred Eychaner This is the top of the food chain.

The level two elites are the elected officials academics, lawyers and activists, like G. Flint Taylor, Jon Loevy, Locke Bowman Craig Futterman, Thundering Dick Simpson of UICC and Martin Oberman Metra Overlord, the editorial boards and iconic columnists of both Chicago Papers and elected officials who do their biddings.

Third level elites are the qui bono go-alongs - investors, appointees, political debutantes in waiting.

Joel Kotkin warned that the fix was going in years ago with Casandra-like accuracy.  Remember, that erasing history and memory itself is essential to Progressive control - they will tell you what the 'right side of history, the climate, the fate of Israel, the minimum wage, the definition of marriage, the homicide rate, the fairness of everything and everything that "just can not wait, because we all have waited too long."

If you differ, you are

  • A denier
  • A hater
  • A Palin
  • A Flat-earther
  • A Racist
  • A Red-neck
  • An Idiot
  • A Catholic
  • A Jew
  • A Baptist
You will never be Bill Moyers, a member of CAIR, a Unitarian, or an NPR subscriber,    

Kotkin predicts ( and I have yet to catch him in error) that Clerisy is here to stay.

Will the Clerisy rule after Obama?
The fact that Republicans continue to maintain considerable power in both Washington and the states suggests that the Clerisy’s power is not yet determinative. And indeed after President Obama leaves office, the Clerisy’s reach may be temporarily diminished, but its ability to set the social and political agenda will likely persist and even grow given their influence to shape perceptions, particularly among the young.

What are you going to do about it, tough guy?

Friday, June 06, 2014

Rahm v. Preckinkle: Book Dodge Ball with Joe Epstein as Referee! Jimmy Fallon????

"Books are fun!" Just ask America's greatest essayist and literary critic-critic Joe Epstein!

I love books and I love getting nailed in the mush with dodge ball.  Books empower and dodge balls keep us on our toes.

Jimmy Fallon?  I guess he's pretty funny, but Jimmy could not get me to watch Bill Moyers, unless we were going to goof on that doughy mope's sanctimonious posturings on PBS, ala Mystery Science Theatre.

Rahm Emanuel, of CNN's Chicagoland and the Tonight Show Challenges, is Chicago Mayor who has done more to make the dim-bulb Progressive sour-puss Toni Preckwinkle seem like Frances Rappaport Horwich*  Toni Preckwinkle is former Chicago Alderman, former spouse of Zeus Preckwinkle and the current Cook County Board President with the personality of a dial tone and a room-temperature I.Q., I believe.

Rahm Emanuel took credit for Jimmy Fallon's March 2014 Polar Plunge in support of Chicago Special Olympics run by the witty, brilliant and painfully honest James "Skinny" Sheahan and is trying parlay that dubious ownership into a Tonight Show broadcast from the Chicago Theatre.  Rahm wants Jimmy Fallon to bring his show to Chiraq by dint of a promissory note from the Chicago Board of Education that Chicago Public School (CPS) children will read 2.5M books. That's allot of books.

"Here's our challenge: This year the kids of the city of Chicago, I challenged them to 2.4 million books to be read, and if they do it this summer we want you to bring the Tonight Show back to Chicago, it hasn't been since 1998," Emanuel said in a rare moment of pleading. "If they read it, will you do it, for the kids of Chicago?"
After Fallon tried to bump the number up to 11 million, Emanuel joked that a local accounting firm would handle the tally before saying, "2.5 million books, you can bring your show back to Chicago any time."
Fallon agreed, saying "I love to go to Chicago."
 Hey, who don't, Jimmy?

I read a lot of books and continue to do so, because my Mom and Dad read alot of books and I went to Catholic schools from K-20+ and taught literature in Catholic schools from 1975 -Present.

As a kid I read Captain of Ice , by Charles Spain Verral about twenty million times.Vintage 1961 PB Captain of the Ice by Charles Spain Verral Hockey Story Rare

Book reports on this great read only got by the nuns twice.  Does Rahm factor distinct tomes into the wager's equation, or is he expecting any number of young scapegrace to read Diary of Wimpy Kid over and over?

Rather than get into the tall weeds of For the Kids legalese - why not offer a different challenge - Literary DodgeBall?

Rahm could go Mano a Mano with Toni Preckwinkle tossing unlimited literary volleys of question with retired Northwestern Literary Professor Joseph Epstein.

Each participant comes armed with an individual literary arsenal - Toni Preckwinkle once damned Nobel Laureate for Literature Saul Bellow as a racist.  I like to hear Rahm toss a dodgeball question like this -

  • "CCBPresident Toni!  In one sentence, explain 'What exactly is Mr. Samler's Planet?' "
  • " In the Canon of Bellow's racist tomes, Who exactly is __________ the Rainking?
  • " Saul Bellow's imitation of James T. Farrell's south side trilogy is called The Adventures of Augie _________________, whom?"

Then having been pummeled, Smart as a Whip and former teacher and Hyde Park resident Toni could ask Rahm . . .hmmmmmmmmmmmm.  Let me see H'yar. Books, wait, wait, don't tell me.  Literary?

Man I'd pay to watch that and I'd bring a picnic basket chock full of eats from Manny's and something to read.

*"Frances Rappaport Horwich (born Frances Rappaport, 16 July 1907–22 July 2001) was the host of the popular children's television program 'Miss Frances' Ding Dong School.'"