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Posts Tagged ‘Americana’

Let us not forget politics is the art of the impossible made to pass for the possible. Since the founding of the new nation it was played by the educated and also who were not so endowed with intellectual abilities but they all had ambition to run for office. The slogan Making America Great Again sounds great but isn’t that what the Presidents from George Washington till Obama have been striving for? Only that no citizen got a chance to see this perceived greatness since wave after wave of world events rocked the shores while ethnic minorities and native Americans reacted to the domestic policies vector of forces impacting from elsewhere. Wars broke out as riots were quelled and even a Civil War from 1860 till 1865 did not achieve what greatness every President had hoped for. So politics is an euphemism for what really takes place in the backrooms while every President in office assures home and abroad what they see is indeed greatness. In this connection I think the rise of President Trump would be a good topic to illustrate how politics discover you. You rake up the cesspool of human ambition and greed and it is wealth  what you gather. Carnegie, Rockefeller and Mellon and many others used it with class so their wealth funded music arts and letters. Their foundations made treasures of the world accessible to a man on the street. For those who have made millions in unsavory manner a university or Homes for the Veterans that they float is not for the end user but the means to bilk the very people who may vote them to office. In whichever case politics discovered Trump.

Trumps’ grandfather arrived as an immigrant from Germany and after many unsuccessful attempts, not exactly in honorable manner while selling liquor and girls of easy virtue made one economically viable,’ for god’s sake there was gold rush in those days. He died young and Trumps father made money in a manner that shaped Donal’s future irrevocably.  “In 1973 Trump, 27, was living in a rent-controlled studio, wearing French cuffs, and taking his dates to the Peacock Alley, the bar in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria. At the time, the lockbox of Establishment New York was tightly closed to the Trumps of Queens, despite their mansion in Jamaica Estates.

Riding around Brooklyn in a Rolls-Royce, Trump’s mother, Mary, collected quarters from laundry rooms in various Trump buildings. Trump’s father, Fred, had already beaten back two scandals in which he was accused of overcharging and profiteering at some of his government-financed apartment complexes, and was now facing an even more explosive charge—systemic discrimination against black and other minority tenants. The Trumps, however, were connected to Favor Bank politicians in the Brooklyn Democratic machine, which, in tandem with the Mob bosses, still influenced who got many of the judgeships and patronage jobs. It was twilight world from Dante and if you did not hold on to your scruples you were sure never to find way back again.

It was here his world connected with a lawyer much older in comparison by name Roy Cohn.  Cohn and Trump were twinned by what drove them. They were both sons of powerful fathers, young men who had started their careers clouded by family scandal. Both had been private-school students from the boroughs who’d grown up with their noses pressed against the glass of dazzling Manhattan. Both squired attractive women around town.

Cohn after graduating from Columbia Law School at 20, he became an assistant U.S. attorney and an expert in “subversive activities,” allowing him to segue into his role in the 1951 espionage trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. (Cohn persuaded the star witness, Ethel Rosenberg’s brother, David Greenglass, to change his testimony; in Cohn’s autobiography, written with Sidney Zion, Cohn claimed that he had encouraged the judge, already intent on sending Julius to the electric chair, to also order Ethel’s execution, despite the fact that she was a mother with two children.) Come 1953, this legal prodigy was named McCarthy’s boy-wonder chief counsel, and the news photos told the tale: the sharp-faced, heavy-lidded 26-year-old with cherubic cheeks, whispering intimately into the ear of the bloated McCarthy. Cohn’s special skill as the senator’s henchman was character assassination. Indeed, after testifying in front of him, an engineer with the Voice of America radio news service committed suicide. Cohn never showed a shred of remorse.

Cohn was best known as a ruthless prosecutor. During the Red Scare of the 1950s,  But in the decades since, Cohn had become the premier practitioner of hardball deal-making in New York, having mastered the arcane rules of the city’s Favor Bank (the local cabal of interconnected influence peddlers) and its magical ability to provide inside fixes for the ilk of Trump.

“You knew when you were in Cohn’s presence you were in the presence of pure evil,” said lawyer Victor A. Kovner, who had known him for years. Cohn’s power derived largely from his ability to scare potential adversaries with hollow threats and spurious lawsuits. Trump—who would remain loyal to Cohn for many years—would be one of the last and most enduring beneficiaries of Cohn’s power.

Cohn, with his bravado, reckless opportunism, legal pyrotechnics, and serial fabrication, became a fitting mentor for the young real-estate scion. And as Trump’s first major project, the Grand Hyatt, was set to open, he was already involved in multiple controversies. He was warring with the city about tax abatements and other concessions. He had hoodwinked his very own partner, Hyatt chief Jay Pritzker, by changing a term in a deal when Pritzker was unreachable—on a trip to Nepal. In 1980, while erecting what would become Trump Tower, he antagonized a range of arts patrons and city officials when his team demolished the Art Deco friezes decorating the 1929 building. Vilified in the headlines—and by the Establishment—Trump offered a response that was pure Roy Cohn: “Who cares?” he said. “Let’s say that I had given that junk to the Met. They would have just put them in their basement.”

For author Sam Roberts, the essence of Cohn’s influence on Trump was the triad: “Roy was a master of situational immorality . . . . He worked with a three-dimensional strategy, which was: 1. Never settle, never surrender. 2. Counter-attack, counter-sue immediately. 3. No matter what happens, no matter how deeply into the muck you get, claim victory and never admit defeat.” As columnist Liz Smith once observed, “Donald lost his moral compass when he made an alliance with Roy Cohn.” Then was the third in the triad. Roger Stone in 1979 though only 27, had achieved a degree of notoriety as one of Richard Nixon’s political dirty-tricksters. At the time, he was running Ronald Reagan’s presidential-campaign organization in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and he needed office space. He came in touch with Cohn who in turn put him to Trump

“I went to see him,” Stone told me, “and Trump said, ‘How do you get Reagan to 270 electoral votes?’ He was very interested [in the mechanics]—a political junkie. Then he said, ‘O.K., we are in. Go see my father.’ ” Out Stone went to Avenue Z, in Coney Island, and met Fred Trump in his office, which was crowded with cigar-store Indians. “True to his word, I got $200,000. The checks came in $1,000 denominations, the maximum donation you could give. All of these checks were written to ‘Reagan For President.’ It was not illegal—it was bundling. Check trading.” For Reagan’s state headquarters, the Trumps found Stone and the campaign a decrepit town house next to the ‘21’ Club. Stone was now, like Donald Trump, inside the Cohn tent.

And Stone soon seized the moment to cash in. After Reagan was elected, his administration softened the strict rules for corporations seeking government largesse. Soon Stone and Paul Manafort, Trump’s future campaign manager, were lobbyists, reaping the bonanzas that could flow with Favor Bank introductions. Their first client, Stone recalled, was none other than Donald Trump, who retained him, irrespective of any role Manafort might have had in the firm, for help with federal issues such as obtaining a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the channel to the Atlantic City marina to accommodate his yacht, the Trump Princess.

All along there had been something deeper connecting Stone and Trump and Roy Cohn: the climate of suspicion and fear that had helped bring all three to power. Although Stone, like many around Cohn in the 70s and 80s, was too young to have observed how Cohn helped poison America in the McCarthy years, Stone had learned at the feet of Richard Nixon, the ultimate American paranoid. And the politics of paranoia that Cohn and Stone had cynically mastered would eventually make them kindred spirits. Just as the two of them had come to prominence by exploiting a grave national mood (Cohn in the 50s, Stone in the 70s), it was this same sense of American angst, resurgent in 2016, that would ultimately help elect Donald Trump.

“Pro-Americanism,” Stone said, “is a common thread for McCarthy, Goldwater, Nixon, [and] Reagan. The heir to that tradition is Donald Trump. When you combine that with the bare-knuckled tactics of Roy Cohn—or a Roger Stone—that is how you win elections. So Roy has an impact on Donald’s understanding of how to deal with the media—attack, attack, attack, never defend.”

Ack: Vanity Fair magazine section: How Donald Trump and Roy Cohn’s Ruthless symbiosis changed America /Marie Brenner Aug.2017

Benny

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Harry S. Truman (1884-1972)
33rd U.S President

Harry as President didn’t take kindly to his appointees misusing their office. It was his custom to fire the erring members of his team fired before all. Unlike Eisenhower who succeeded him to the White House, who had to get rid five of his appointees for more or less for the same offence. Ike accepted their resignations after handing out fulsome praise for their services, so flattering that each had it framed in gold and hung in his living room. When Harry was asked what he thought of it, he remarked, ‘I see why he had to fire them, but I don’t see why they had to kiss them on both cheeks.’
2.
The country boy from Missouri, Plains when elevated into the highest office kept his head and was conscious of the responsibility reposed by the nation in him. The sign ‘The Buck Stops Here’ was an outward symbol of it. He never complained or shirked it even when some decisions were later proved wrong. During the eight years under his Watch were many events: the dropping of the Bomb, the formation of the UN, the Korean War, the firing of MacArthur, the birth of the nation of Israel, NATO, the Marshall Plan and in each case he was not in the eye of the storm but the eye of the storm.
benny

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In my time it was Peyton Place that lay lurking behind the peaceful exterior of small town Americana. For Gwadsake, this is 1986. Welcome to Lumberton!
It’s a sunny, woodsy day in Lumberton, so get those chain saws out. This is the mighty W-O-O-D. At the sound of the falling tree, it’s 9:30. There’s a whole lot of wood out there, so let’s get goin’.
While the radio jingle refers to felling woods there are those who are rarin’ to go with their freaky sexual fantasies. One such is the loathsome, nitrous-oxide sniffing kidnapper (Dennis Hopper). Frank holds a man Don, and Donny his son hostage, and makes the mother of Donny his sexual slave.
On the receiving end is the nightclub singer Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini) the abused/brutalized mother.
Dorothy: Hello baby.
Frank: (reprimanding) Shut up. It’s Daddy you s–t-head. Where’s my bourbon?
(She goes into the kitchen and gets Frank his drink, handing it to him.)
Can’t you f–kin’ remember anything? (Dorothy turns out the main light in the living room and lights one small candle.) Now it’s dark. (Wearing her blue velvet robe, Dorothy sits on a chair in the middle of the living room. Frank sits down on the sofa.) Spread your legs. Wider. Show it to me. (She slowly opens her legs wider and adjusts her robe, while Frank stares at her crotch and drinks his bourbon.) Don’t you f–kin’ look at me!

Into such unstable equation who stumbles in but a college student Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan). The kid Galahad discovers a severed ear, and then finds himself embroiled on the goings on the dark side of town. (It is a fact of life that a picket fence however well painted white when casts shadow is less than what appears.)
He witnesses, first as a voyeur and then must be goaded by what he has seen so in a way no longer he is that same old innocent knight in shining armor. The disease of the villain has passed on to him as well the helpless woman. She has been brutalized so thoroughly she is not above asking the student to abuse her. While she is onto a masochistic bend the one who breaks and enters into her apartment is not spared either. He steals duplicate spare apartment key hanging in the kitchen in order to spy on her. Their kinks are so disgusting let me say the viewer need to carry an extra cast-iron lining to stomach what goes on there.
Jeffrey and Frank represent the two dichotomous sides of life (e.g., light/dark, normalcy/aberration, attraction/repulsion, innocence/experience, perversion/love, virtue/base desires, etc.) These represent also two side of the coin. In whichever way they fight for dominance the fact remains evil is still out there. Female leads Dorothy and Sandy are also two opposites.
Sandy who has a regular boyfriend also sees and acts as a decoy for Jeffrey.

Sandy: I don’t know if you’re a detective or a pervert.
Jeffrey: Well, that’s for me to know and you to find out.

Out of a slender plot line the essay in violence, aberrant sexual behavior David Lynch created a cult film. Although highly ridiculed and disdained when released as an extreme, dark, vulgar and disgusting film, it also won critical praise – Best Film of 1986, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Dennis Hopper) and Best Achievement in Cinematography (Frederick Elmes) by the National Society of Film Critics. It also received a sole nomination for Best Director from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The film’s credits (viewed with fluid, scripted type-lettering) play above a slow undulating blue velvet, fabric backdrop as Angelo Badalamenti’s sensual string score floridly plays. The film dissolves into an unnaturally brilliant, visually lush, boldly colorful opening with patriotic hues (bright red, white, and blue) and a nostalgic, dream-like view of a clean, conforming, pastoral America a la Norman Rockwell. Don’t you believe it.
At the outset we see a man falling down with a heart seizure. He is the proud owner of a house with a garden enclosed by white picket fence. And it is what often lurks behind the American dream (represented by spanking white picket fence) is interesting. Mr. Beaumont the father like a typical American would wish to keep the garden as green as you ever saw. But must account for the heart that is congested as well. Don’t you believe what you see is all there is.
But here we also see a deft directorial insight to move the camera for a closer view of a terrifying, diseased underworld: it is teeming with a swarm of hungry, ugly black bugs – a metaphor for the perverse, horrible evil that lurks beneath the idyllic surface of picture-perfect life.
Sandy: I don’t know. I had a dream. In fact, it was the night I met you. In the dream, there was our world and the world was dark because there weren’t any robins, and the robins represented love. And for the longest time, there was just this darkness. And all of a sudden, thousands of robins were set free, and they flew down and brought this Blinding Light of Love. And it seemed like that love would be the only thing that would make any difference. And it did. So I guess it means there is trouble ’til the robins come.
Jeffrey: You’re a neat girl.
Sandy: So are you. (laughs)

Directed by David Lynch
Produced by Fred C. Caruso
Written by David Lynch
Starring Kyle MacLachlan
Isabella Rossellini
Dennis Hopper
Laura Dern
Dean Stockwell
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
Cinematography Frederick Elmes
Background:
‘After the commercial and critical failure of Lynch’s Dune (1984), he made attempts at developing a more “personal story”, somewhat characteristic of his surreal style he displayed in his debut Eraserhead (1977). The screenplay of Blue Velvet had been passed around multiple times in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with many major studios declining it because of its strong sexual and violent content.[3] The independent studio De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, which was owned at the time by Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis, agreed to finance and produce the film. Since its initial theatrical release, Blue Velvet has achieved cult status, significant academic attention and is widely regarded as one of Lynch’s finest works, alongside Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive (2001)’.
Genre: neo-noir
Motifs: The bug motif is recurrent throughout the film. Nitrous oxide mask that Frank wears and Jeffrey’s excuse as an insect exterminator. One of Frank’s sinister accomplice
(Fred Pickler) is identified by his yellow jacket, possibly reminiscent of the name of a type of wasp.
Finally, a robin eating a bug on a fence in the last scene of the film refers to Sandy’s dream and represents love conquering evil.
The severed ear that Jeffrey discovers is also a key symbolic element.
There are a number of allusions to the Wizard of Oz for instance name of the woman degraded by Frank is Dorothy and her ruby studded shoes etc.,
Run time:120 min
(ack: wikipedia, filmsite.org-Tim Dirks)

benny

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DAVID (WARK) GRIFFITH (American) (1875  –  1948)
Film director.

A stage actor and aspiring playwright who entered the cinema in 1908, Griffith is generally acknowledged as the father of the cinema, the man who invented everything from cross cutting to the close-up. Though rival claims may be pressed – for Louis Feuillade and Benjamin Christenan, among others – the fact remains that Griffith, with his unbounded ambition and taste for grandeur, did more than any one else to make the cinema realise its own potential. His two more famous films ‘Intolerance’ (1916) and ‘Birth of a Nation’ (1915), still stun with their epic scale, fantastic set pieces and almost biblically lofty sentiments. It is a pity that the inspirational claims of these masterworks have tended to overshadow the more endearing merits of the small, unassuming sagas of rural America such as ‘True Heart Susie’. Here, inimitable Griffith preserved an age of lost innocence, a world of white fenced houses and sunlit orchards where ragged youths and demure maidens with rose bud lips dreamed their dreams of pure romance.
benny

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(FRANCIS) SCOTT (KEY) FITZGERALD (American) (1896 – 1940)

Writer.

The American version of the myth of the Dying God flowered with the Jazz age he helped to create and then wilted in obscurity till his death. His books are light hearted adolescent day dreams brilliantly observed with increasingly tragic overtones. “It was fun when we all believed the same things. It was more fun to think we were all young to live together or die together. And none of us anticipated this great loneliness.” ‘This Side of Paradise’ (1920) was a bestseller, his stories include some of his best work (‘The Rich Boy’, ‘Babylon Revisited’). ‘The Great Gatsby’ (1925) is one of the most perfect American threnodies on lost youth and the Prohibition era. Then followed the slow decline for which his wife Zelda was partly responsible. “She wanted me to work too much for her and not enough for my dream…. I struggled on…… till my heart collapsed and all I cared about was drink and forgetting”. (To his daughter in 1938). In those last years he wrote his near masterpiece ‘Tender is the Night’, faithfully depicting the break-up of his marriage and was at work on an unfinished Hollywood novel ‘The Last Tycoon’. His wife was burned to death in a fire in an mental home in 1947. His blend of irony regret and lyrical enjoyment, Gatsby’s ‘neat sad waltz’ has appealed to many other writers.

compiler:benny

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Jay Gould who made millions in stock manipulations once had to flee New York from Law with six million dollars in cash. Undaunted the robber baron chortled to his friends,”Nothing is lost,boys save honor”.

compiler: benny

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