Thursday, July 30, 2009

Abortion Remorse in "Last Chance Harvey"

Wonder of wonders, a current hit movie makes a subtle anti-abortion statement.

How did this slip by the liberal Hollywood thought controllers?

The film is "Last Chance Harvey," a thoroughly delightful and uplifting story of an August-December romance between Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson.

The anti-abortion sentiment is expressed quite briefly, and don't expect Roger Ebert or Richard Roeper to even make note of it, but it is in there, plain as day.

In a scene where the protagonists are talking, heart to heart, getting to know each other better, Emma Thompson's mood changes abruptly.

"You just became sad," Hoffman says. "Why?"

"I was thinking about my days as a college student. I became pregnant. I did away with it. But sometimes I find myself wondering if he or she would have have been funny -- or clever -- or neurotic.

"Stupid of me to get this way, really."

Abortion remorse in a major Hollywood movie -- interesting.

Some speculate that the shift in public opinion polls showing a majority of Americans now opposed to our liberal abortion laws, may be significantly due to the remorse felt by many baby boomer women over abortions that they had during an earlier, less thoughtful, time in their lives.

I doubt the Hollywood moguls would have kept this off the cutting room floor unless they perceived that a profound sentiment, like abortion remorse, was, indeed, in the air.


One lighter thought-- this is the second Dustin Hoffman film I can recall where he suffers from job instability. The other was Kramer vs. Kramer.

He might have avoided the vagaries of the employment market if he had just taken the profound advice profferred to him in The Graduate.

" Your father tells me you're going to be out job hunting soon. I have just one word for you, young man:


Sunday, July 26, 2009

That Vacuous 60s Counterculture

I recently stumbled into a remarkable little shop on Oakton St. in Skokie. It had the effect of compelling me to recollect on my days as a boy growing up in that vast cultural wasteland known as the 1960s.

The newly opened shop, Selective Memories Resale and Collectables, deals in assorted bric-a-brac, junque, collectibles and objects d'art and is heavy on 60s memorobilia.

It is run by an effusively genial 50 something guy, Dave Zorig, who exudes a genuine love of pop antiquity.

His recently deceased dad, one of the very few American existentialists I have ever heard of (he was reading a volume of Sartre's scribblings when he passed on,) actually invented a primitive version of the rock video in the 60s. The geniuses at the mobbed-up Chicago juke box companies passed on the invention. They said that kids would never want to watch rock musicians perform to their music. This was 15 years before MTV and VH1.

Maybe that kind of foresight explains why Sam "MOMO" Giancana's social club and benevolent society has been in a precipitous decline since about that very time.

So Dave reported to me that he was personal friends with several members of the flash-in-the-pan pop group the Turtles, and gets a lot of their memorobilia to vend.

We began discussing several of their hits from the 1966-67 timeframe and for the rest of the day those Turtle songs kept running thru my head.

There is a name for this phenomena, but I forget what it is. If you doubt it exists, just go to one of the McDonald's that plays tapes of oldies music and tell me that for the next 24 hours your brain is not running a non-stop reel of, "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to."

So this got me thinking about the caliber of lyricism that formed the sound track of the antics of that "smartest generation," of the 60s.

Take this gem from the Turtles"

"Eleanor, Gee I think you're swell
And you really do me well
You're my pride and joy etcetera."


Aside from the fact that the only person I ever heard of in the 60s who still used the term "swell," was Judy Garland's little peach, Liza, "Etcetera" as the end of a lyric?

What that says to me is major intellectual and artistic laziness. It also says that the kids who ate this stuff up and plunked down hard cash for the vinyl discs were about as discerning as West Virginia hayseeds.

Can you imagine Cole Porter writing:

"I love Paris in the morning when it drizzles
I love Paris in the evening when it sizzles
I love Paris every moment
Every moment etcetera."

A poll of 60s college students taken at the time found that they rated Bob Dylan as the greatest poet of all time. Move aside Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. Who needs Shakespeare's sonnets when you can ponder:

"I don't want to meet your kin
make you spin or do you in."

Paul Simon once expressed irritation that his peers were attributing great profundity to his lyrics and said that could only be because the vast majority of rock lyricists were quasi-literate nincumpoops.

They were and we bought it.

And now the unreconstructed countercultural gnomes of the 60s are tenured professors who dominate our universities and senior executives at our major news organs.

What is more frightening, is that in the incarnation of David Axlerod and Bill Ayres, they have the ear of the young, inexperienced, coffee-complected nincumpoop-in-chief.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chatting With Walter Cronkite on the Eastern Shore of Maryland

I met Walter Cronkite on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1984. He was 3 years into his unceremoniously enforced retirement and was living out in that beautiful corner of the world to pursue his love of sailing.

A fellow Chicago native and I were at a little neighborhood gathering there -- one of their famous hard shell crab boils -- and all of a sudden, someone excitedly whispers to us, "there's Walter Cronkite."

For one who grew up with Walter Cronkite's authoratative, grandfatherly presence on the old black and white tv, it was almost like meeting royalty.

My friend and I were 20 something Reaganites at the time and as such, were full of the old ideological piss and vinegar.

So we struck up a conversation with Walter Cronkite on the subject of liberal media bias.

What was amazing was that he took the time and concern to engage us.

He took the CBS corporate line that news reportage and even agenda setting was entirely fair and balanced. He seemed solid in his belief that journalists, irrespective of affiliation, were solid professionals who could and would put their personal views aside.

I brought up the example of ABC news reporter, Geraldo Rivera, who had recently prompted little street urchins in Managua, Nicaragua to throw stones at government tanks so that he could get some good film footage and prove his point that there was widespread support for the communist Sandinistas.

To that, Walter chuckled and said, "Oh that's just Geraldo Rivera, who is he anyway?"

I think Cronkite was so imbued in the Edward R. Murrow school of honest, serious journalism that he was blind to the erosion of journalistic ethics that was then stirring.

I believe that he really believed in honest, ethical reporting and could not bring himself to see that it was going by the wayside.

Much as a mother can see no wrong in her favorite child.

Bernie Goldberg, who was one of Cronkite's much younger colleagues at CBS could see it coming and chronicled it in his 2001 best seller, "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News."

But Walter Cronkite came from the old school and I believe he adhered to journalistic ethics in a way that would have made his mentor and fellow WWII war correspondent, Edward R. Murrow proud.

There were real American journalists back then. It was when Americans were serious about themselves and their place in the world.

It was before today's comic news offerings of happy talkers and hair sprayed-dilletantes and Kiran Chetry-styled news readers concerned most with their ample decolletage and hiked-up skirts.

Walter Cronkite was certainly an American original.

I was proud to have had the good fortune and pleasure of meeting this towering American figure.

And that's the way it is. July 19th, 2009.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Obama to GM: Bring Back the Chevy Vega

As everyone knows by now, General Motors has ceased to exist as a privately owned company. Having succumbed to the siren song of free taxpayer bailout money, it's now effectively owned by the UAW and the federal government.

That means that the people who so efficiently deliver your mail are now in the business of providing you with GM automotive offerings.

So it should come as no great surprise that one of the first federal dictates to the once world leader in car production, is to bring back the Chevy Vega.

For those too young to remember the Vega was GM's response to the American consumer's fascination with gas sipping small cars during the OPEC oil embargo of the 1970s.

When gas prices soared as a result of the OPEC oil embargo (their response to US backing for its Israeli client during the 1973 Middle East War) GM went right ahead producing it enormous, lumbering gas-guzzlers. US Consumers then began buying small German Volkswagens, and previously unheard of little cars with funny names like Toyota, Datsun, Honda and Mazda.

GM's response to this unforseen development was the Chevy Vega.

It was a small subcompact with a revolutionary new all aluminum engine bloc design. In fact it was so revolutionary, that the engine would not contain the lubricants and flammable fuels that non-revolutionary engines normally contain.

As a result, the Chevy Vega's engines had an unhappy tendency to spontaneously burst on fire.

You could be driving along the Edens Expressway at 55 mph in your Vega and -- poof-- your engine would bust into flame.

Aside from its revolutionary engineering qualities, the Vega was a very ugly car.

It had kind of a pointy front end that reminded one a bit of Groucho Marx's nose. Perhaps this was intended by the GM car designers, because, after all, the Vega was a colossal joke.

It seemed to be available in two principal colors-- puke green and taco sauce burnt orange. This was someone at GM's idea of being hip.

But the Chevy Vega did get very good gas mileage. Of course it's kind of easy to get good gas mileage when your car is always hitched to the back end of a tow truck.

So eventually, things settled down in the Middle East, gas declined a bit in price and GM phased out the Vega and went back to producing its gas guzzling monstrosities.

The only one of my childhood friends to ever buy a Vega was an Italian kid named Jimmy. He knew absolutely nothing about cars and bought one of the ghastly burnt orange models. He is now an attorney for the IRS.

Any day now I expect to hear that he has been transferred to another branch of the federal government to oversee the production lines of the revolutionary new Vega II.

Why not?

And I have an idea for the ad campaign:

The Chevy Vega II
--- A car we can believe in.

And the driver will get into the front seat and just hope that it starts for a change.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

If You liked Upchuck Percy, You'll Just Love Mark Kirk

One of the most selfless things that I can ever recall having been done by the usually selfishly self-preserving Members of the US Congress, during my time working there, was done by the great patriot, US Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina.

When the Republicans took control of the US Senate as a consequence of the Reagan landslide win over Democrat Jimma "the peanut" Carter in 1980, Republicans had to decide who would chair the various Senate committees, with all the power that that entails.

Senator Helms, by virtue of his seniority, had his choice of chairing either the Senate Agriculture Committee or the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Customarily, the Agriculture Committee is a choice plum, especially if you come from a highly agricultural state as was Helm's North Carolina, with its heavy concentration of tobacco farmers.

The Foreign Relations Committee is generally considered something of a backwash committee -- very powerful in its impact on the course of the Republic -- but not one whose decisions are highly valued by voters back home.

Senator Helms, after great agonizing, decided to forgo the politically useful Agriculture Committee in order to save the Republic from the dreadful prospect of the Foreign Relations Committee being chaired by the extremely internationalist, Soviet-appeasing, liberal Republican Senator from Kenilworth, Illinois, Charles Percy.

Mark Kirk, a product of Percy's same New Trier Township Republican Organization seems to be walking right in Percy's footsteps.

Kirk was one of only 8 GOP Members of Congress to vote for Obama's wild new "Cap & Trade," taxation scheme.

In a manner reminescent of Percy's frantically desperate run for cover ("I'm sorry -- Now I've got the message") just before his 1984 electoral loss, when Illinois conservatives abandoned Percy in droves as payback for his years of spitting in their faces, Kirk yesterday commandeered the email lists of the Republican organizations in his 10th Congressional district to send out an pathetically lame, poorly drafted, rationale for his apostate support for the Grand High Church of "global warming."

Kirk says that the new Obama tax scheme, which Obama overtly said will raise all electricity and oil costs to US businesses and consumers, is good because it will enable us not to buy oil from Communist Venezuelan strongman, Hugo Chavez.

Oh please!! How gullible does Kirk think Illinois conservatives are?

The Kirk-Obama cap n' trade, Stalinist power grab will cause untold hardship for Americans -- loss of jobs -- a wildly diminished standard of living -- a massive transfer of individual personal liberty to government apparatchicks.

Look for the usual Illinois Republican suspects to be telling you down the road that Kirk may be bad -- but at least he's better than Roland Burris.

I've heard that line once too often.

I did not vote for Upchuck Percy in 1984 and I will under no circumstances vote for liberal goo-brain, Kirk for US Senate in 2010.