Thursday, May 31, 2012

we'll do it differently

{Schlesinger journal}
October 13

I saw the President for a while about 7 o'clock [on Friday, October 11].  I asked how Jackie was.  He said that she was having a good time in Greece....When I came in, the President was looking at some books on his desk.  "No, these are not right," he was saying to Evelyn Lincoln.  "I wanted Peter Quennell's Lord Byron in Venice."  As I was leaving, he called after me, almost a little wistfully, "What are you doing tonight?"  I told him that we were going to a dance at the Walter Ridders'....I hate to repeat the cliché about the loneliness of the job, but it is a lonely job.

Tonight we dined at the Stewart Alsops'.  The Herters were there -- a somewhat sanctimonious and poisonous couple, who preserve an indestructible Republicanism under an eastern cosmopolitan cloak.

Frank Wisner and Mac Herter went into a long bit about how terrible it was for Jackie Kennedy to go off on the Onassis yacht.  Wisner said that "everyone" in Europe knew that [Jackie's sister] Lee Radziwill was having an affair with Onassis, and that Jackie was along as cover.  The gossip of the idle rich is exceedingly boring.

October 27

However, to continue the previous item, there is no question that the Greek trip has caused a certain amount of doubt and resentment.  Even my mother feels there is something wrong about la dolce vita in the isles of Greece while the President slaves away in Washington.  I try to point out Jackie's distress, her exhaustion, her need for a rest; but the trouble is that her idea of a rest (with which I wholly sympathize) strikes too many Americans as unduly gay and energetic.  But this will soon blow over.

On Thursday I attended the President's luncheon for Tito.  I went with considerable curiosity.  Tito is one of the heroic figures of our epoch, for better or worse, and I wanted to see what he was like.  I expected a rather massive, powerful man.  I met instead a small, plump, old man, with rimless (or steel-rimmed) glasses, a benign expression and a high-pitched voice.  He looked rather like the owner of a successful department store in, say, Akron, Ohio. 

The luncheon passed agreeably, though Averell thought (and I agree) that the President was a little defensive and stressed unnecessarily the existence of ideological differences.  Of course the differences exist; but emphasis on them did nothing to appease the opponents of the Tito visit, while it introduced a faint note of reserve so far as Tito was concerned.

Against my inclination, I have been doing more and more in the way of speech-writing in recent weeks.  I wrote the speech the President gave before the National Academy of Sciences on October 23 (on the basis of material supplied by Jerry Wiesner); and on Wednesday the President called me in, handed me a draft Ted Sorensen had written for Amherst on Saturday, said that it seemed to him thin and stale, and asked me to try my hand at it. 

Accordingly I wrote a speech on the place of arts in a democracy. 

The President read it and said that it was fine except for a number of sentences which sounded too much like Adlai Stevenson.  On Friday night, he called me and invited me to go along with him to Amherst.  He worked over the speech on the plane north, toned down the fancier passages and added an opening section of his own on the obligations of young men of privilege.  The result, I think, was most successful.  Certainly no previous President has ever talked this way about the arts.

We chatted about the Eisenhower reminiscences on the way up.  The President commented on their self-righteousness.  "Apparently he never did anything wrong," he said.  "When we come to writing the memoirs of this administration, we'll do it differently."

Journals, 1952-2000
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
The Penguin Press, New
York, 2007


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

what a wonderful day

September 22nd, 1963, Arthur Schlesinger wrote in his journal:

-------- On Tuesday night, the 19th, I had dinner with Jimmy Wechsler, Joe Rauh and Hubert Humphrey.  Jimmy had come from a forty-five minute interview with the President.  He was, as usual, wholly disarmed and delighted by Kennedy -- and particularly by the new note of impatience with Eisenhower, the Republicans and the business community (the same thing I encountered when I went to the White House for dinner the next night). 

Hubert was in marvelous form, overflowing with wit, charm, energy, eloquence and sheer animal vitality.  I asked him what he thought ought to be done next.  He replied, "The first thing I would do is fire Dean Rusk."  He feels that Rusk has been dangerously inadequate both in formulating foreign policy and in presenting it to the people.  Hubert is really unique:  George McGovern [U.S. Senator from South Dakota], who lives next door to him, told me today that he heard shouts of exultation outside his window this morning, looked down, saw Hubert striding around his lawn and saying "What a wonderful day," looked further, saw absolutely no audience of any sort...Humphreyan exuberance!

September 20

[On Wednesday the 20th we had] dinner at the White House with Joe and Susan Mary Alsop.  The President was in excellent form -- very lively, pungent and vigorous.  I was delighted to see that he was particularly concerned with the role of the business community.  He began by saying that he was struck by the paradox that, while labor leaders individually were often mediocre and selfish, labor as a body took generally enlightened positions on the great issues; while businessmen were often enlightened as individuals but invariably took hopeless positions on public issues.  He said several times that he now understood FDR's attitude toward the business community and that he only wished there were no Cold War so he could debate the future of America with the businessmen.

After dinner, at about 10:30, we adjourned to the projection room for a movie -- Blood and Roses, directed by Roger Vadim.  It was terrible; and the President left after 40 minutes, saying over his shoulder that he would be content to read my review in Show.  He also recommended that I see The Girl Without a Suitcase and A Cold Wind in August (or September?) and review them as contrasting treatments of the same theme.  He had not liked Breakfast at Tiffany's and expressed a general view that Hollywood had no guts any longer and could not do a sharp or interesting film.

We talked a bit about Berlin.  I think that I forgot to note a major theme in his remarks to Charles Wintour, the editor of London Evening Standard -- that the American people had no conception what a nuclear war was like; and that, if they did, they would not be half so bold in their attitudes toward foreign policy.  He recurred to that tonight; but also said (what is doubtless true) that mankind's recuperative powers after a nuclear war would probably be greater than anyone supposed.


...On Friday Norman Thomas came by, deeply perturbed over the administration's Berlin policy.  He reported a general impression in liberal circles that JFK's attitude was rigid and menacing, that he had no interest in negotiation, that military considerations were predominant in the administration's thinking.  I did my best to reassure him on these points.

{Journals  1952 - 2000
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
The Penguin Press, New York.

In these notes from the time, it's striking to see the juxtaposition of Pres. K.'s determination to avoid nuclear holocaust, balanced against some group there in the bottom paragraph who thinks the Pres. attitude is "rigid and menacing" -- when you're pres., someone always think you're too warlike, and others always think you're too -- "peacelike"....(?)  And -- sandwiched in the middle of the juxtaposition, (ooh--uncomfortable) -- "mankind's recuperative powers after a nuclear war would probably be greater than anyone supposed." -- ??  whistling in the dark!  With giant problems and possibilities that are too big, like that, leaders -- and everyone, really -- had to consider all aspects.  That's what led some people to build bomb shelters in their back yards at the time.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

sunny, crisp and cold

Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote in his journal on November 25, 1963,

-------- The agony continues, and one can still only intermittently believe it.  I keep supposing that tomorrow morning, I will come down to the White House, Evelyn will be in her office and Kenny in his, and in a few minutes the President will be along, with some jokes about the morning papers.  The thought that we will never see him again is intolerable and unacceptable and unendurable.  But we never will, and nothing will ever be the same again.

Newt Minow told me this afternoon that Pat Moynihan had been asked on television whether we would ever laugh again.  He replied:  "Yes, we will laugh again.  But we will never be young again."  Later he said, "We Irish always expect our hearts to be broken, so we are not surprised.  But we thought we had a little more time."

Yesterday afternoon, I did a piece on the President at Stewart Alsop's request for the Saturday Evening Post.  Late in the afternoon and again in the early evening I went up to the Mansion.  The family was there, quiet and composed.  Dave Powers was marching Caroline, John and Sidney Lawford up and down the central hall, making them count out and execute right turns.  Ethel and Lem Billings were in the Lincoln bedroom watching the murder of Oswald on television.  Ken O'Donnell and Larry O'Brien were drinking quietly in the Oval Room.  Jackie was in her parlor behind shut doors.

As I was leaving, Teddy, Eunice and Mrs. Kennedy [Rose] arrived from Hyannis Port.  I asked Mrs. Kennedy about the Ambassador.  She said, "We have told him, but we don't think that he understands it."  [JFK's father had suffered a stroke at an earlier time.]  Apparently the news produced no visible reaction.  Someone told me later that it had been decided to tell him on Saturday morning rather than on Friday evening -- I suppose so that he would face a day rather than a night.

I came back around 8 o'clock.  Jackie came out, looking very pale but most composed.  She said, "Susan Mary Alsop called me to say how wonderful I have been.  How did she expect me to behave?"...Then she talked about Evelyn Lincoln and Dave Powers.  "At least, I have my children.  They have nothing, nothing at all."  She had in mind using them in the Kennedy Library, which of course would be fine.  We chatted for a few moments.  Then Bobby appeared to take her to the Rotunda.  The rest of the family went downstairs for dinner, except for Sarge Shriver.  He and I ate sandwiches and drank bourbon upstairs for another half hour.  He reminisced about the past with sad cheerfulness.

Today was the funeral.  The service at St. Matthews was incomprehensible to me; but the ceremony at Arlington, against a background of wildly twittering birds, was solemn and heartrending.  De Gaulle was there, and Eisenhower, and Truman, looking shattered.  Evelyn Lincoln said to me, "The thing he hated most of all was fanatics."  The day was sunny, crisp and cold.  I have never felt so depressed.

{Journals, 1952 - 2000.
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
The Penguin Press, New York, 2007.}


Monday, May 28, 2012

You Tube Nation

a free-association homage to You Tube

When you're sitting back --
In your long pink Cadillac...
Kiss  (Unplugged):  "Hard Luck Woman"
The Kinks:  "Lola"
"Stuck In The Middle With You"
"Texas 1947"
Buckingham Nicks, whole album
"Bonaparte's Retreat"  (Glen Campbell)
Manfred Mann:  "Blinded By The Light"

Lou Reed
Clowns to the left of me,
jokers to the right...
Long Tall Glasses
hand me down my walkin' cane,
hand me down my hat
Hmmmh, now wait a minute --
Aaah, feels good -- look a' me dancin'...
Baker Street
Ebony Eyes
Just take those old records off the shelf
Walk this way...
Just gimme a kiss --

Little money comin' worked out well,
"C'est la vie" say the
old folks it goes to show you never can tell....
Nothing else matters --
Music there, it was hauntingly familiar...
De-elect all Congress
("Throw the rascals out")
Induct Neil Diamond -- Rock-Roll Hall-Fame, It's time
He got the way to move me
-- Good times never seemed so good...
Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond conversing on Johnny Cash's variety show, 1970 -- a Comment read:  "I agree.  Class acts and Classic!  We won't see stuff like this anymore.  People just aren't polite anymore.  It s---s really"

And when he lets go --  Half the valley shakes...
"Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" by Neil Diamond
classic wax Commented:
I remember as a kid, riding with my dad and listening to Neil on 8 Track.  I remember this song very well, it used to scare me, lol.  Dad?  Why are they packing up the babies and grabbing the old ladies. 
I remember it just like it was yesterday.


Friday, May 25, 2012

all manner of things

"All shall be well,

and all shall be well,


all manner of things

shall be well."

-- Julian of Norwich


Thursday, May 24, 2012

a Christian couldn't think that

Looking at a book of collected letters, memos, and other writing by Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1951 - 2002), read "Memorandum dictated to himself, describing his chaotic, terrible day after news of the assassination reached Washington.  William Walton was an artist and Kennedy family friend.  Charles Horsky was a prominent lawyer and White House adviser on national capital affairs."

NOVEMBER 22, 1963

Bill Walton, Charlie Horsky and I were just finishing lunch at Walton's house -- in the grandest good mood with Walton leaving for the Russian tour that afternoon -- I was talking about Brasilia and the phone rang.  Oh no!  Killed!  No!.  Horsky's office had phoned for him to return.  We rushed upstairs.  Television had some of it but the commercials continued.  Bill began sobbing.  Out of control.  Horsky in a rage.  Clint (?) Jackie's agent had said the President is dead.  Walton knew this meant it was so....We went directly to the White House from Georgetown.  On the way the radio reported that Albert Thomas had said he might be living.

We went directly to the President's office which was torn apart with new carpets being put down in his office and the cabinet room.  As if a New President were to take office.  No one about save Chuck Daly.  McGeorge Bundy appeared.  Icy.  Ralph Dungan came in smoking a pipe, quizzical, as if unconcerned.  Then Sorensen.  The three together in the door of the hallway that leads to the Cabinet room area.  Dead silent.  Someone said "It's over."  Bundy called for Secretary McNamara.

We still did not entirely believe it, with television not sure.  But quickly enough one report added to another and the President was dead, as we watched in Dungan's office.  Silence.  Humphrey arrived.  Dungan had by this point called Mary and laid his head on his desk for a bit.  Humphrey and Dungan went to the adjoining room.  Bill said he thought he would go home.  I went with him.  As we left the entrance to the West Wing the Flag was just being lowered.

The photographers would not let us go alone as we hiked the long distance to the gate.  Midway Walton straightened up and said let's walk out the way he would have expected us to, but he could not quite manage.

I put Walton in a taxi and went back to see Holborn if he were there.  A guard asked for my identification but I asked him what difference it made.

And the thing is, Dungan had said, they will blame it on that 25 year old boy.


Memorandum for himself, recording that Mrs. Kennedy wanted a renewal of the drab and unsightly Pennsylvania Avenue to be carried out as a legacy of the Kennedy administration.  He was to keep Mrs. Kennedy abreast of the progress for twenty-five years.

NOVEMBER 29, 1963

Bill Walton called this morning, before leaving for his scheduled trip to Russia, to say he had spoken to Mrs. Kennedy about the Pennsylvania Avenue plans.  She is completely behind them and will, he feels, be the greatest source of strength in years to come.  She has given President Johnson a list of those projects left undone and which she feels were of great interest to President Kennedy.  Pennsylvania Avenue is on this list.  She feels that the National Cultural Center, the Stadium, and even LaFayette Square, had their origins in the Eisenhower Administration, but Pennsylvania Avenue is one of the Kennedy Administration entirely.

On Wednesday Walton showed the plans for Pennsylvania Avenue to the Kennedy family....


Following the assassination, a radio reporter from WTOP in Washington interviewed Moynihan.  Mary McGrory also wrote about their conversation in the Washington Star.  Moynihan obtained a transcript of the radio interview for his records, realizing its importance.


...WALKER:  "Is there any meaning you can find in what has happened?"
MOYNIHAN:  "I suppose the point that cuts deepest is the thought that there may not be....You know the French author, Camus, when he came out at the end of his life, he said the world was absurd.  A Christian couldn't think that, but the utter senselessness, the meaninglessness....

We all of us know down here that politics is a tough game.  And I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you don't know that the world is going to break your heart eventually.  I guess we thought that we had a little more time.  So did he.

This nation will never be the same after he has been President.  We are a bigger, a stronger, a better nation.  I think we know more about what it is we have to be.  I think we know somewhat more about how to be it.  It....For some of us you'll say it won't be the same in other ways.  Mary McGrory said to me that we'll never laugh again.  And I said, 'Heavens.  We'll laugh again.  It's just that we'll never be young again.'"

WALKER:  "Is the New Frontier leaderless?"
MOYNIHAN:  "No sir!  We have a leader.  He is the President.  If we learned anything from John F. Kennedy, we learned to serve the President.  I think that the single, one thing that some of us are holding to, to keep our minds together, is that we will do exactly as the President wishes us to do in exactly what capacity he indicates."

WALKER:  "Do you think the Johnson administration will continue the programs of the Kennedy administration?"
MOYNIHAN:  "Well, I certainly believe with the deepest part of me that President Johnson will work for these programs with the fullest of his great ability.  He helped formulate them.  Here in the Department of Labor, I suppose we have worked with the President about as closely as any executive department.  He's the Chairman of the President's Commission on Equal Employment Opportunities.  We've had two years of working day and night with him and he's done a magnificent job.  And I can't imagine his wanting to....These are his policies as much as the administration's -- as much as the former President's.  And he has a reputation for accomplishment.  That's why he's the leader of our party and why he's our President today."

WALKER:  "Will the New Frontier still be able to realize its dreams?"
MOYNIHAN:  "Oh, we're no good at answering questions like that today.  You say dream.  I think of the lines from The Tempest:  'We are such stuff as dreams are made of....'  Well, you know that passage begins, 'Our revels now are ended.'"

{Daniel Patrick Moynihan: 
A Portrait In Letters Of An American Visionary,
edited by Steven R. Weisman.  Copyright
2010, Public Affairs, New York.}

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"individual liberation and social progress"

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. kept journals from 1952 to 2000.  His sons published them in book form, in 2007.

In 1962 Schlesinger was working for President Kennedy and he wrote,

------------ {excerpt} 
February 22

We arrived in Berlin on a cold, snowy day.  Willy Brandt...met us at the airport....The streets were lined with cheering people, who had waited for hours in the bitter cold.  It was all deeply moving until one remembered that a good many of them were cheering just as hard twenty years ago for Hitler.

...Bobby made a fine impromptu speech.  When balloons with red flags floated over from the Communist zone, he observed, "They will let their balloons come over -- but not their people."...

I had met Brandt before but had never had the opportunity for a long talk with him.  He seemed calm, intelligent and detached and inspired confidence.  I asked him about the Wall -- whether in retrospect he feels that steps should have been taken to prevent it, or to tear it down.  He replied, "If I were to say that now, it would be inconsistent with the things I said at the time.  On August 13, 1961, no one proposed that we try and stop the Wall. 

We all supposed that such action would run the risk of war."  He went on to say that counteraction might have been justified if one believed that the East Germans had put up the wall on their own, but most indications were that they had prior Soviet approval and support.  He added that he was critical of the allies because of their slowness to note and condemn the East German action -- but even if they had spoken out immediately, he said, it would not have brought down the Wall.

He expressed great interest in steps under way to assure the future of West Berlin.  Apparently the flight from West Berlin has come to a halt; at least the outflow is now balanced by the inflow.  But Brandt wanted to know what could be done to encourage private investment, develop educational centers and the like. 

In the evening Brandt gave us a dinner.  This occasion was made most notable by Bobby's remark that this was the birthday of two distinguished Americans -- George Washington and Edward [Teddy] Kennedy -- and by his teasing insistence that Teddy (who had joined us in Berlin) and his sidekick Claude Hooten sing a song in honor of the day.  They finally obliged with "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home" -- a performance which thoroughly mystified the Germans at the dinner.

We then went on to the Free University where Bobby gave his speech.  It went over, I thought, exceedingly well.  The most uproarious applause came when he said, "We have not forgotten those in East Germany"; but the non-Berlin sections, showing that free society was the best means to individual liberation and social progress, also seemed to go over well.  They were largely ignored in the press reports, however. 

After breakfast [the next day], we embarked on a tour of West Berlin.  A good deal of the trip was along the Wall.  No matter how much one reads or how many photographs one sees nothing prepares one for this ugly and sordid reality.  The wall is an obscenity.  Not only is its conception barbaric but its execution -- the crude, gray concrete blocks, the bricked-in windows of apartment houses along the sector line, the vicious tank traps, the tall picket fences to prevent East Berliners from waving to sons or fathers in West Berlin -- is repellent and hateful.  It was a sobering and maddening experience.
------------------------ {end excerpt}

{from Journals, 1952 - 2000, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
Copyright 2007.  The Penguin Press.  New York}

You can read about stuff -- and I've discovered it's interesting to read what someone wrote, at the time, when they were in the midst of it.  When a person reads the journal entry or article written that day, at the time, it can be both more accurate and less accurate than than something written about the event or issue, years later with the perspective of distance and more information.

The person writing 30 years later has the perspective gained by distance and more information, but he may gloss over, or even skip over completely, details and aspects which were important at the time but which he chooses to ignore.

You can "re-write" history -- they called that revisionism, or "revisionist." 
Someone said "history is an argument without end."
If we can know the real essence of Things That Happened and how they were handled, then we can understand Today and plan Tomorrow.


One hopes.

A guy who used to work where I work, who was maybe -- I don't know -- somewhere around 24 years old -- didn't know about the Berlin Wall.  He didn't know that before 1989 when the wall came down, people who lived in Poland, Russia, East Germany, etc. could not leave of their own free will -- they were for all practical purposes prisoners inside of their Soviet-controlled group of countries. 

I wasn't trying to "teach" this kid anything -- I only happened to mention the "Wall" -- the "Iron Curtain" did not occur to me at all that he would not know what I was talking about...

That made me feel kind of worried because it's like -- if the new generations don't know the Very Recent history behind freedom which we take for granted, how are they going to be prepared, and wary, if someone tries to take it away from us?  We need context in order to have an understanding of freedom, current conditions, new proposals, and to be able to tell the difference between things that are problems and things that are not problems.  And to be aware of the potential for policies to be instituted which are controlling, dictatorial, and as Schlesinger wrote, "repellent and hateful."


Friday, May 18, 2012

sometime in your life

I read this quote from Winston Churchill and have a far-back memory of my father telling it.  I would never have remembered it "cold" -- had to see it.  I wonder how much stuff is in our heads that we can't get out (retrieve?) without being reminded, by chance.

..."From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I shall not put." 
: )

[also attributed to Churchill]:

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

"You have enemies?  Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

drop-kick me, Jesus

"Every moment one lives is different from the other.  The good, the bad, hardship, the joy, the tragedy, love and happiness are all interwoven into one single, indescribable whole that is called life.  You cannot separate the good and the bad, and perhaps there is no need to do so."

-- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

"When people see this film [Coal Miner's Daughter], they know life is not a bed of roses.  Life is life!  Sometimes there's a good day, and sometimes there's a bad day."

-- Loretta Lynn

"God, whose law it is that he who learns must suffer.  And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despite, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."

-- AEschylus

"As I got older,
I got bolder."

-- Little Richard


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

down on the tracks

When I was in kindergarten, or first grade I lived in a tiny town in Ohio called Mineral City -- my friend Jackie and I would do things -- pick up buckeyes from under Mrs. Coyle's tree, sew -- we made our own stuffed animals -- turtles, for some reason, were fun because you just cut out the shape of a shell, a head, four feet...

and behind Jackie's house, down the hill from her backyard, lay a train track and we sometimes went down there -- we'd walk on the rail itself, or go along beside the tracks -- we didn't go very far from the yard.  But somehow that felt interesting and a little scary, but in a pleasant way -- to follow the train tracks and think about how the track came from somewhere far away & led somewhere else and we weren't going to be able to go there, either, at least not on a train.

I'm not sure trains ever even ran on that track anymore at all -- I don't remember any.

Jackie's dad worked at "the tile plant"...I never knew where that was ... and if it was a Saturday and he was home, there would be a car on their driveway and his feet would be sticking out from underneath the car.  He'd have tools, and would be fixing, or working on something. 

Once there was a big gun -- a rifle -- at their house, balanced on the landing of the stairway, leaning against the wall, pointed at the ceiling.

By today's standards, that seems sort of unbelievable -- we've been deluged with public service announcements telling us the obvious:  avoid a tragic accident by keeping your gun locked up someplace, don't have it where kids can get at it...!

In my memory is a tense moment at the dinner table at home when I mentioned that gun in front of my parents -- just thought it was interesting, I guess.  They were sort of frozen in dismay for a few seconds, and then they said, "Don't touch that gun; don't ever touch it."

I didn't ever touch the gun. 
Jackie and I didn't need to play with a gun. 
We were only little girls. 
We had
dolls to name,
turtles to sew,
railroad tracks to walk.

Last week I was thinking the song "One Piece at a Time," by Johnny Cash.
(I can't sing it, and
I can't play it on You Tube because somebody blocked You Tube,
so I have to "think" songs...!)

And thinking piece-at-time made me remember another song by Johnny Cash which I only heard once, or only once that I can recall anyway -- when I played it in the mid-80s on a 45, & then I could never find it later.  It was a song about a train and there was something compelling and eerie and riveting about that song.

One Piece at a Time made me remember the song I couldn't find, and thinking of the song I couldn't find, about the train, brought up the memory of Mineral City and the train tracks with the trains that never came.

I had tried searching the internet about five years ago for that train song -- "...and mama jerked me back, but not before I got the chance to lay a nickel on the track..." and I got nothing, but this time I "Googled" -- typing in "Johnny Cash" followed by that line about the nickel on the track and Bingo! thank you Mr. Google.

It's called "Texas 1947" written by Guy Clark & released in autumn of 1975, sung by Johnny Cash.

Bein' six years old I had seen some trains before,
So it's hard to figure out what I'm at the depot for --
Big and black and smokin'
steam screamin' at the wheels --
Bigger'n anything there is, least that's the way she feels.

Trains're big and black and smokin' -- louder'n July four,
But everybody's actin' like this might be something more
Than just pickin' up the mail or the soldiers from the war
Somethin' even Old Man Wileman's never seen before

And it's late afternoon on a hot Texas day
Somethin' strange was goin' on and we's all in the way.
There are 50 or 60 people, just sittin' on their cars
And the old men left their dominoes, and come down from the bars.

And everybody's checkin' --
old Jack Kittrell checks his watch.
And us kids put our ears to the rails, to hear 'em pop.
So we already knowed it when they finally said "train time!"
You'd've thought that Judgment Day was rollin' down the line.

'Cause things got real quiet
and Mama jerked me back,
But not before I got the chance
To lay a nickel on the track...

Look out here she comes she's comin'
Look out there she goes, she's gone!
Screamin' straight through Texas
Like a mad dog cyclone.
Big and red and silver,
she don't lay no smoke.
She's a fast-rollin' streamline,
Come to show the folks,
I said look out here she comes she's comin'
Look out there she goes she's gone--
Screamin' straight through Texas like a mad dog cyclone...

Lord -- she never even stopped.

She left 50 or 60 people, still sittin' on their cars
Wonderin' what it's comin' to and how it got this far
And me I got a nickel
smashed flatter than a dime
By a mad dog runaway,
Red silver-streamline.

Look out here she comes she's comin' look out there she goes she's gone
Screamin' straight through Texas like a mad dog cyclone
big and red and silver, she don't lay no smoke
She's a fast rollin' streamline, come to show the folks

I said look out here she comes she's comin'
Look out there she goes she's gone,
Screamin' straight through Texas like a mad dog cyclone.

Look out here she comes,
She's comin' -- look out,
There she goes, she's gone.
Screamin' straight through Texas
Like a mad dog cyclone.

Big and red and silver,
she don't lay no smoke,
She's a fast-rollin' streamline,
Come to show the folks --
I said, look out here she comes,
she's comin' -- look out,
there she goes, she's gone...
Screamin' straight through Texas
like a mad dog cyclone...

Lord -- she never even stopped.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

nuts and bolts and all four shocks

I mentioned to a hip-hop artist I know --

(I like saying that casually -- "a hip-hop artist I know"...he's the
only hip-hop artist I know...!)

that he ought to "cover" the rockabilly song made famous by Johnny Cash, "One Piece At A Time," and put his original urban styling on it.

I don't even know how I got familiar with that song in the first place, it seems like some things just soak into your awareness without you knowing where you got it...

Johnny Cash's voice, so amazing -- seemed to have some kind of extra dimension in it...and when he took that serious voice to this wonderfully silly song it was a joy to experience.

(When Cash died a few years ago a lawyer I knew said the two songs he liked best were "A Boy Named Sue" and "One Piece at a Time."  He likes the funny songs!)

The slogging sadness in the line, "...and sometimes I'd hang my head and cry"...
Then --
he "devises himself a plan" --

"Gonna ride around in style,
Drive everybody wild..." -- it's like "the audacity of hope" that Pres. Obama wrote about...

The way Johnny Cash speaks a lot of the lines, while singing others somehow makes the overall effect seem like the most sincere song you've ever heard sung, yet it's so funny, you like die laughing.

(spoken):  with a little bit of help from an A-daptor kit --
(sung):  we had that engine runnin' just-like-a-song!

Written by W. Kemp

Recorded by Johnny Cash on 3/5/76

Number one - County Chart; Number 29 - Pop Chart

Well, I left Kentucky back in '49

An' went to Detroit workin' on a 'sembly line

The first year they had me puttin' wheels on cadillacs

Every day I'd watch them beauties roll by

And sometimes I'd hang my head and cry

'Cause I always wanted me one that was long and black.

One day I devised myself a plan

That should be the envy of most any man

I'd sneak it out of there in a lunchbox in my hand

Now gettin' caught meant gettin' fired

But I figured I'd have it all by the time I retired

I'd have me a car worth at least a hundred grand.


I'd get it one piece at a time

And it wouldn't cost me a dime

You'll know it's me when I come through your town

I'm gonna ride around in style

I'm gonna drive everybody wild

'Cause I'll have the only one there is around.

So the very next-- day-- when I punched in.

With my big lunchbox and with help from my friends

I left that day with a lunch box -- full of gears.

Now, I never considered myself a thief --

GM wouldn't miss just one little piece

Especially if I strung it out over several years.

The first day I got me a fuel pump

Next day I got me an engine and a trunk

Then I got me a transmission, and all-l of the chrome

The little things I'd get in my big lunchbox

Like nuts, an' bolts, and all four shocks

But the big stuff we snuck out in my buddy's mobile home.

Now, up to now my plan went all right

'Til we tried to put it all together one night

And that's when we noticed that something was definitely wrong.

The transmission was a '53

And the motor turned out to be a '73

And when we tried to put in the bolts -- all the holes were gone!

So we drilled it out so that it would fit

And with a little bit of help with an A-daptor kit

We had that engine runnin' just like a song!

Now the headlights were another sight

We had two on the left and one on the right

But when we pulled out the switch all three of 'em come on.

The back end looked kinda funny too

But we put it together and when we got through

Well, that's when we noticed that we only had one tail-fin.

About that time my wife walked out

And I could see in her eyes that she had her doubts

But she opened the door and said "Honey, take me for a spin."

So we drove up town just to get the tags

And I headed her right on down main drag

I could hear everybody laughin' for blocks around

But up there at the courthouse they didn't laugh

'Cause to type it up it took the whole staff

And when they got through the title weighed sixty pounds.


I got it one piece at a time

And it didn't cost me a dime

You'll know it's me when I come through your town

I'm gonna ride around in style

I'm gonna drive everybody wild

'Cause I'll have the only one there is around.

(Spoken) Ugh! Yow, RED RYDER

This is the COTTON MOUTH


Huh, This is the COTTON MOUTH

And negatory on the cost of this mow-chine there RED RYDER

You might say I went right up to the factory

And picked it up, it's cheaper that way

Ugh!, what model is it?

Well, It's a '49, '50, '51, '52, '53, '54, '55, '56

'57, '58' 59' automobile...
It's a '60, '61, '62, '63, '64, '65, '66, '67

'68, '69, '70 automobile. ...


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

the power and the glory

what is motivation?
something that motivates; inducement; incentive

What does excellent motivation look like?
Or sound like?
Is motivation similar to rock & roll, as in --
the louder the better?

(Walk this way!
Old time rock and roll!
Good vibrations!
Hey Jude!
Chantilly Lace!...
? ! ? )

There's a school of thought that says you should never yell --
at people in the workplace, or
at children in school.
When I substituted in sixth grade, a girl in the class who was as tall as me came up and stood by me as the decibel level from the assembled students went higher and higher, and this tall 6th grader told me soberly, "You have to yell at us."
And then she added, "This happens every time we have a sub."

And then a teacher came in from the neighboring classroom and yelled
for  my class to quiet down.

(hiding under my bed rather than sub in jr. high ever again...yikes)

Now, the following quote is from a teacher in Australia:
"Very early in my career when I was a casual teacher I can remember seeing two Year 4 primary school classes side by side. In one class the children sat quietly listening to their teacher while, in the other, the children were loud and unruly. My psychology training made me curious.

On delving into the background of the children I found they had been in Year 3 without any noticeable problems. At the end of Year 3, they had been reorganised into Year 4 classes. From a distance I observed the class interactions.

In the quiet class, the teacher spoke softly, never raising her voice. Children listened intently not wanting to miss what was being said. The dominant expression was the smile.

In the other class, the teacher rarely lowered her voice. Much of the time the children had learned to ignore their teacher. The only consequence was yelling and that they were use to hearing. The dominant expression was the frown.

Yelling at children is more an act of frustration than a decision to alter behaviour. Its very nature is counterproductive and can leave the teacher with little respect.

Ross Mannell (teacher)


P.S. My classes were full of smiles."
-------------------end quote

(Not sure what a "casual teacher" is -- must be one of those Australian --
"I'm crook with a wog."
"Give him curry."
"Up a gumtree."
"Shrimp on the barbie."

Is yelling itself good or bad?
On the one hand --
The sixth grade girl:  "You have to yell at us."
On the other hand --
"Yelling by its very nature is counterproductive."
We - eee - lll! --
You know you make me wanna (Shout!)

Kick my heels up and (Shout!)

Throw my hands up and (Shout!)

Throw my head back and (Shout!)

Come on now (Shout!)

Don't forget to say you will

Don't forget to say, yeah

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

(Say you will)

Say it right now bab-ay

(Say you will)

Come on, come on

(Say you will)

Say it, will-a you-ooooo!

(Say you will)

You got it, now!

(Say) say that you love me

(Say) say that you need me

(Say) say that you want me

(Say) you wanna please me

(Say) come on now

---------------------see now the Isley Brothers song makes "Shouting" sound like a good thing...

Positive leadership is the ticket; if people respect a person's skills and position, any word from that person resonates, & if that person yells, the yell-ee can get a feeling like they're being beaten up.

Personal power earned by skill & leadership is more powerful than a person sometimes realizes; possibility for overkill is a constant concern, but --
Positive Power To Accomplish Things And Improve Conditions
is a Gigantic Good Thing if the person who has it realizes it.

It's one of those things in Life that's actually, amazingly, easier than we think.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

a theater critic is stealing your furniture

{From Jackie As Editor, by Greg Lawrence /
about Jacqueline Onassis beginning her first job as an editor, at Viking -- 1975}

Guinzburg also described one of Jackie's first mentors, Bryan Holme, who ran Studio Books.  "Jackie loved illustrated books, and she was training under the most benevolent eyes of Bryan Holme, who specialized in them.  He as one of nature's noblemen, and a genius, and nobody could ever figure out how he did it.  I know in principle he worked backwards.  He went from a retail price and then just put in numbers for every single thing in the budget, and then when he got to the end, the agent would say, 'Well, that only leaves twelve cents for my author.'

 And Bryan would say, 'Hmm, we don't have to use that glue.  We could use another glue and save money.  And we don't really have to take the paper from the bowels of interior Japan.'  He would tinker with it to the point where everybody was happy, and Jackie worked with him on several projects.

...Unfortunately...Jackie's entry into publishing had made her tantalizingly available.  In order to clear a path for Jackie to get to her desk, Rich Barber usually had to go down to the lobby in the morning to dissuade people who were waiting there, because for one reason or another, they were determined to intercept her as she entered the building. ...

Jackie's first assistant, Becky Singleton, recalled..."To give you some idea of the frenzied level of public interest that Jackie had to navigate through in order to begin her career in publishing, I will describe a portion of the events that occurred on a fairly typical morning:  At about 10:00 A.M. Patti Rizzo called to summon me to the visitors' waiting area, where a person who wanted to see Jackie was causing a bit of commotion. 

I went to the lounge area and found there a very large gentleman who had managed to capture the attention of everyone else in the visitors' lounge by announcing that he had sticks of dynamite strapped to his chest.  After an interesting discussion, I managed to persuade him to leave the manuscript he'd brought for Jackie with me, then made sure he wasn't actually wired with explosives before I began steering him towards one of the elevators.

"As I loaded him into one car, a familiar figure emerged from the other elevator.  This gentleman, who always dressed in clerical garb, was mild-mannered but distinctly eerie.  He had arrived several times before, always with the same request, which was to see Jackie before he died.  After another very interesting discussion, I was able to turn him around and send him home for the day, and then quickly returned to my cubicle, where all of the phone lines were ringing.

"In rapid succession, I took calls from (1) Mike Wallace, who was determined to get Jackie to do a 60 Minutes interview and professed to be amazed I wasn't interested in helping him out; (2) a woman who called daily to ask to speak to Jackie and, when told that this wasn't possible, would ask instead for a detailed description of what she was wearing that day...

(3) another woman who called regularly but was much easier to deal with, as she simply wanted Jackie to know
that Clive Barnes, a noted theater critic at that time, had parked a van in front of her apartment building and was engaged in the process of stealing her furniture, one piece at a time."

Singleton continued, "Throughout the early weeks, a mild form of pandemonium attended Jackie's comings and goings.  Most of it was created by the media and by fanatic but harmless eccentrics....

"She had been well aware that her attempt to assume a full-time position as a book editor would incite a fresh wave of public interest and that many in the media would be eager to print juicy tidbits that suggested she was falling flat on her face.  The persistence she showed during those initial turbulent months convinced me that her passion for books, which she spoke of so eloquently, was completely genuine.  She wasn't simply looking for something to do, as some had speculated.  She had sensed a vocation."

Jackie's first book, Remember the Ladies:  Women in America, 1750 - 1815, confirmed Guinzburg's faith that she could deliver, at least with respect to acquisitions.  The project combined her passions for art and history, and reflected her awareness of an emerging women's market.

...For the nation's bicentennial, a landmark preservation committee in Plymouth, Massachusetts, was mounting an exhibition about the role of women in the eighteenth century.  The committee included Mabel H. 'Muffie" Brandon, who spearheaded the effort, and would later serve as social secretary in the Reagan White House.

...Brandon's idea was a publish a companion book for the exhibition.  She told The New York Times, "My appointment at Viking was with Tom Guinzburg, and when I walked into the meeting, I was quite surprised to see Jackie there -- she'd only been with Viking for a few days.  As I explained the idea, I saw her eyes begin to light up....She caught the idea immediately, and for the next two hours, she asked the most penetrating questions.  She wanted to know what proportion of the text would be devoted to black women -- to working women, to Indian women....Finally, Tom Guinzburg turned to her and said, 'What do you think?'  She said, 'Oh, let's do it.'

...[Remember the Ladies co-author Conover] Hunt described the watershed moment of history that gave birth to the book and informed the collaboration.  "Remember that was nineteen seventy-six -- the ERA, the whole nine yards, Betty Ford, the conference in Houston to get it passed, and so on.  So that was a movement that was gaining....

The whole Remember the Ladies project came together in nine months, like birthing a baby.  And then it traveled for two years.  It was one of the official bicentennial exhibitions by the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission.  And Muffie raised a million dollars.  She got the most incredibly diverse group together.

 If they had all ever been in the same room, they would have killed each other.  She had the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, and the National Organization for Women, the Kennedy clan, and hard Right Republicans as sponsors -- it was just a hoot.  And it was a very big success.

...Released after resounding victories by crusaders for civil rights and women's rights, it was a sign of the time that the book and exhibition celebrated not only colonial pioneer women but also enslaved women of color and Native Americans.  While incorporating a minimum of text, the book achieved considerable impact through the [captioned photographs of] artifacts it displayed....

Remember the Ladies is an early example of how history was being transformed by advances in alternative scholarship, and Jackie was to play a leading role in this enlightened revisionism.  The proliferation of slave narratives that were hardly known by earlier generations would become a recurrent theme in several later works that she undertook to develop and publish. 

She knew very well that history can only be accurate if all peoples are included.
-------------------- [end excerpt]

{Jackie As Editor, The Literary Life of
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.  by Greg
Lawrence.  Copyright 2011.  Thomas Dunne Books,
St. Martin's Press, New York.}


Friday, May 4, 2012

go honky-tonkin'

Have I told you lately that I love you --

...well darling
I'm tell - in' you now.

Can - not
that song

In the film Coal Miner's Daughter, you don't hear the whole song, only part of it, so I still don't know how that awkward third line, or phrase, which seems too long -- fits in.

In the movie you hear Sissy Spacek (playing the part of real-life country singer Loretta Lynn) sing part of "Have I told you" -- in three consecutive scenes we see her learning to play her guitar and learning to sing that song -- in the first scene, on the porch by the washing machine, she picks the strings & reaches around tentatively for the notes and sings in short phrases, as she figures it out.

In the next scene she sings more smoothly, and plays the guitar well, & she sings to her four small children, interrupting herself to cry firmly, "You boys stop fighting [fatt-in'] and listen-t' me sing!"

Then in the third scene, she plays & sings like the natural genius she is yet with her trademark earnest humility, sitting casually at her kitchen table while her husband Doolittle Lynn (played by Tommy Lee Jones) applies his fit, strong, masculine talents to washing the dinner dishes.

You have a sense that she would have been the one washing those dishes while he went outside to smoke, if she hadn't been singing.  He took over some kitchen chores in order to allow her time to sing.

He turns to her and says, "Loretta, what d'you say Saturday night we get us one of them baby-sitters and -- go honky-tonkin'?"

"You mean together?"

(with a laugh), "Yeah, together."


------------------ From that brief exchange, we picture a married life that's long on daily cares and chores & short on "date-nights."

Some people, when they saw that movie, thought Doolittle Lynn was somewhat beastly -- but I actually think he's a real good husband.  When he gives her the guitar as an anniversary present she says, "What'd you get me a guitar (gih'-tarr) for?"

"'Cause I like the way you sing."

(thinks a long moment):  "You really think I sing good?"

"Baby I know you do."

--------- And when they go to make a record of her first original song, & she struggles to get comfortable in the studio, Doolittle takes the four kids in there & turns the microphone to face them & says "I want you to sing to these babies, just like you's at home."

"You sure?"

"I'm positive."

"You think?"
"I know."
"You sure?"
"I'm positive."

He's a leader.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

well darling

Have I told you lately that I love you

Could I tell you once again somehow

Have I told with all my heart and soul how I adore you

Well darling,
I'm telling you now.

This heart would break in two if you refuse me
I'm no good without you anyhow
Dear have I told you lately that I love you

...Well darling --
I'm telling you now.

Have I told you lately how I miss you
When the stars are shining in the sky
Have I told you why the nights are long  when you're not with me

Well darling,
 I'm telling you now.

This heart would break in two if you refuse me
I'm no good without you anyhow
Dear have I told you lately that I love you
Well darling I'm telling you now.

Have I told you lately when I'm sleeping
Every dream I dream is you somehow
Have I told you who I'd like to share my love forever

Well darling -- I'm telling you now.

This heart would break in two if you refuse me
I'm no good without you anyhow
Dear have I told you lately that I love you
Well darling I'm telling you now.

{written / Scotty Wiseman.  1945.}


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

hit over the head

Sometimes in today's society we feel like we're being hit over the head with sex.

Not literally with sex itself, but with the idea of it.

Last weekend read an article that was so fascinating -- I was real impressed with it.  It was a very intelligent, thoughtful analysis of a topic I was interested in, and I wanted to copy the article so I could refer to it again and again, and continue learning from it because couldn't even understand all of it because it was hard -- very "up there" in the high levels of understanding and observation.  Very sensitive, and funny.

So -- thought, let's see what else this author has, looked him up by name, and wound up with a list of stories we (the audience) could buy -- and the text assured the reader that these stories were "hot, erotic"...??

Hot, and erotic.
Both o' those at once?  Really?
(Hot!  Erotic!  Redundant!  Buy it now!)

Seemed weird -- a rather long "fall" from elevated and carefully arranged and fascinating thought that was in the article...

I was like -- huh.

(Like -- aren't you embarrassed to put out something so patently crass and silly, & have your name on it? -- well apparently not...)

I told someone about it and he laughed with me, then explained to me (just what I need, someone a year and a half out of high school to teach me about the grown-up world...):
"It's al-l-l-l -- about Makin'-Money."

Like that two-word sentence -- "Sex sells."  When people say that, it seems like they always say it in the same tone -- the word "sex" is said in a voice pitched several notes higher than how the person would usually talk -- "Sex --" and then the word "sells" comes in an even higher note which climbs higher during the one, drawn-out syllable, & then drops a little at the end, creating a sing-song effect.

"Sex -- SELLS!"
"S - ex -- SEL-L-ls..."

Uh huh.  Pass the asparagus please.

I always remembered a conversation I had once in the mid-80s, I don't know why it stays in my mind -- I said I thought a particular situation comedy was kind of -- I don't know, obnoxious, offensive, nasty -- and a friend of mine said emphatically, "That's the dirtiest show on television!" 

I was a little taken aback -- thinking, well, I haven't viewed every show on every channel and taken notes or whatever -- but -- well, yeah...

and he added, "They [Hollywood TV producers] act like they think the only thing we're interested in is sex."


And one other caveat with the hot-erotic-story guy:  the stories he was promoting were actually written by his wife -- so he was promoting her -- wares, as it were.

(Be a little tough to say, "No honey, I don't want to include your products -- I'm trying to maintain a classier intellectual level of discourse"
...not if you want to get along happily at home...)

Question-marks envelope our existence. ...