The hypocrisy of the intellectual elite is finally being called onto the cultural carpet. This past Tuesday, Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post observed: “There has been so much political turmoil among Republicans that it is easy to lose sight of the intellectual disarray on the left.” PJM’s Ed Driscoll quoted The Daily Beast‘s Lloyd Grove speaking of modern liberals: ”…Think aesthetics as politics, and academic credentials as peerage. Think of a latter-day Americanized version of Downton Abbey—where everyone knows his or her place, and our betters look best.”
It is amazing to see how quickly the liberal/socialist/Marxist wing of the political spectrum has imploded. Only one generation ago they donned tie-dye and preached “Damn The Man.” Today, their Gen-X children (Barack and Michelle included) have embodied The Man to their own damnation and that of the middle class, the working poor, and all those for whom they claim to care so much (at least during election season).
Driscoll cited Grove’s observation that contemporary liberals are living
…a world away from job-craving America, and light years from the mid-twentieth century Democratic Party.
Indeed, this gap gives added credence to Professor Fred Siegel’s critique that “today’s liberal gentry see the untamed middle classes as the true enemy,” …It’s not that the Democrats don’t know that they have a problem with the non-government employee middle class, but it’s just that they really are not bothered by it. As the New York Times framed the issue, “many in the party pay so little attention to white working-class men that it suggests they have effectively given up on converting them.”
Last week, alternative media mogul Glenn Beck announced that he was going to focus on “taking back” American culture through the power of nostalgia:
In the future, Glenn Beck’s focus is going to be more on influencing culture and less on politics and news. After all, news is only “what the culture allows,” he said in a recent interview with National Review’s Eliana Johnson.
…“Beck is nostalgic for an America of decades past, and his cultural projects will aim to resurrect and revive it,” Johnson writes. “It’s an America where duty trumped desire and Americans were bound together by a sort of civic religion created by that sense of duty. ‘I want to impact the culture in the way that people see good again,’ [Glenn] says.”
Beck’s goal is admirable, to a fault. The period he seeks to resurrect was one in which concepts like “good” and “duty” were defined by a Biblical religion, not a civic one. Any history student will tell you that Marx had his own take on the American Revolution; you can show someone Frank Capra movies until you’re blue in the face and they’re still going to see Mr. Smith as the ultimate community organizer if that’s their moral outlook.
As Amy Kenyon notes, there are pitfalls to what passes for nostalgia these days:
…the historical meanings and usages associated with nostalgia were finally mangled beyond recognition until its chief purpose became the performance of sentimentalism, the parceling out of discount memory via television, advertising, heritage theme parks, and souvenir markets, all aspects of what we might call the “nostalgia industry.” As such, nostalgia became kitsch, trivial and reactionary: hardly the stuff of a meaningful engagement with the past or the workings of memory.
Simply put: Glenn Beck needs to do more than embrace the facade of America, circa 1940. Beck needs to dig deeper, to America’s Biblical heritage, to understand what re-taking the culture truly means.
Barack and Michelle are all of our parents now http://t.co/304nAa14MG
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) March 17, 2014
Barack and Michelle Obama are fine parents, they really are. They have two gorgeous and well-behaved daughters, and the Obamas have kept them mercifully free of the spotlight. I can’t say any more about them than that, because I don’t know any more than that — which is exactly how it should be.
But the Obamas aren’t my parents, and they aren’t your parents. But ThinkProgress represents the repressive and reactionary mode of thought that we are wards of the Great Men who rule over us.
We are not their children. Our politicians, left and right, serve us at our pleasure — and it’s high time we reminded them of it.
The most insightful line in this week’s episode of Girls came from guest star Louise Lasser, playing wheelchair-bound senior artist B.D., who observed: ”I hate watching television because all the old women are shells… and it just hurts to be a shell.”
A female artist with a successful career, bemoaning her state in relation to what she sees on a screen: It really is as pathetic as it sounds, this legacy of the second wave feminist notion that sex is the purpose of a woman’s existence, therefore once her looks are gone, she is nothing more than an empty, useless receptacle. Still, it’s an odd statement coming from a woman with a successful career, right?
Perhaps Girls has debunked another second wave feminist myth: “Career” is not permanent salvation from Friedan’s dreaded boredom and emptiness. Take it from famous French actress/bombshell Catherine Deneuve, who recently remarked on the secret to aging well:
“I think it’s different for men and women,” Deneuve said. “I think for men it has more to do with a fulfillment of what they do in their life, their social life, their work. I think for women, it’s more private. It has more to do with a personal fulfillment with a life, love and children, and work also, but not as the first main thing, I think.”
City folk have always looked on their country neighbors with superstition. According to John Podhoretz at the Weekly Standard, this suspicion has carried a clearly political bent since the days of W. His evidence: Scary white dudes, like Walter White (Breaking Bad) and Bill Henrickson (Big Love) from middle America invading your TVs.
“In Difficult Men, Brett Martin’s book about the remarkable writer-producers who brought television to new cultural heights, Martin notes that there was something explicitly political at work in the early days of what he calls television’s “Third Golden Age.” Americans “on the losing side” of the 2000 election, Martin writes, “were left groping to come to terms with the Beast lurking in their own body politic.” As it happened, “that side happened to track very closely with the viewerships of networks like AMC, FX, and HBO: coastal, liberal, educated, ‘blue state.’ And what the Third Golden Age brought them was a humanized red state. . . . This was the ascendant Right being presented to the disempowered Left—as if to reassure it that those in charge were still recognizably human.”
…It’s the depiction of the worlds in which they live that is so striking, even more so in the series that have come along since the body politic’s shift to the left, beginning in 2006. The canvas on which these characters are brought to three-dimensional life isn’t a “humanized red state” at all, but rather the red state of liberal horror fantasy.”
Podhoretz concludes: “Still, rich Hollywood folk making mincemeat out of poor rural folk is another element of the ongoing American culture war that should not go unremarked.”
Fair enough, although any critical studies grad could tell you that whitey from the sticks, especially them man-folks, have been derided for a long time among the educated liberal elites who fill television’s coveted writers’ rooms. Educated liberal elites, mind you, who are primarily white dudes.
The MSM’s latest fetish, college girls-turned-porn stars for tuition money, smacks of the rotten legacy of second-wave feminism’s “our bodies, our selves” mantra. Take the story of Belle Knox, a Duke University fresh-girl forced to do porn for the tuition money. While her sleaze-bag of an agent attempts to milk her 15 minutes with stories of a poor girl turned out by multimillionaire parents (a story she later changed when chatting with Piers Morgan), Belle Knox views herself as anything but a victim.
The 18-year-old appeared on front pages across the globe and sat down with Piers Morgan for a CNN interview using only her stage name and claiming that she was not ashamed of what she was doing and, in fact, felt ‘empowered’ by her career.
I’m not being exploited. I love what I’m doing and I’m safe,’ insists the women’s studies major.
Women’s studies major. Good thing she’s in porn, considering her future career choices at this point don’t rise far above McDonald’s worker (and we all know how poorly they’re paid). Seriously, though, paying for your women’s studies degree by doing porn? Has anyone stopped being sucked in by the rich-girl lifestyle to consider that glaring irony? Or the fact that her women’s studies major has justified her career choice?
She told her student newspaper in an interview last week: ‘My entire life, I have, along with millions of other girls, been told that sex is a degrading and shameful act. When I was five-years-old and beginning to discover the wonders of my body, my mother, completely horrified, told me that if I masturbated, my vagina would fall off.
‘The most striking view I was indoctrinated with was that sex is something women “have,” but that they shouldn’t “give it away” too soon -– as though there’s only so much sex in any one woman, and sex is something she does for a man that necessarily requires losing something of herself, and so she should be really careful who she “gives” it to.’
The vapid meanderings of Belle Knox illustrate the very scary impact of the second-wave feminist notion that our bodies really are our selves. Beyond our physicality, we have nothing left, no brain, no feeling, to “lose” or invest in a sexual encounter.
Think about how often you find a table at a restaurant with everyone looking at their smartphone instead of conversing. Technology certainly has its advantages, but something is clearly wrong with this picture. The concept of identity creates a different perception for everyone. In today’s culture, much of what constitutes a person’s identity may be channeled through social media. The problem is that some people put so much time into their digital profile that their real-world life suffers.
Undergraduate students in my mass communication class this semester have found one way to combat this. They turn going out to eat into a game where all cell phones are stacked at the end of the table. The first person to reach for his phone pays for the meal. Simple enough, but it gets at the heart of a larger concern. Are we struggling to keep our real lives as interesting as our digital ones?
This week, media scholar Douglas Rushkoff, along with PBS, released an excellent documentary called Generation Like. The film details how current teens create online identities and also shows how they are monetized. Some YouTube celebrities like Tyler Oakley have been able to turn social media followers into dollars. Other users remain simply nothing more than super fans content with millions of followers that justify their hours online. Teenagers today are the first generation to grow up with a fully digitalized culture, and we are seeing more signs of that every day in how they define themselves.
Most folks first became aware of Dr. Benjamin Carson when he dared to speak out against Obamacare in front of the architect himself at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. I had the privilege of meeting Ben Carson about 20 years earlier when my mother handed me his book Think Big. At the time, I was an above-average student who struggled in the public school environment. Despite being intellectually acceptable (but economically unqualified) for entrance into a prestigious private school, my own public institution refused to allow me to skip a grade because they felt I’d suffer socially.
As if being the #1 nerd in the room qualified me to be crowned Prom Queen.
An outcast, I’d spend most of my time feigning illness or sick with stress, looking for a reason – any reason – to get out of going to school. I knew my mother was right; I couldn’t run away forever. But, I didn’t have a reason to care enough to face my battles. What I needed then is what so many young people need now: A perspective greater than their own. They need to learn how to Think Big.
And so my mother encouraged me to encounter the story of Ben Carson, a young African American boy from the projects who rose out of the ghetto mindset by seeking a perspective greater than his own:
“I am convinced that knowledge is power – to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.”
Carson’s illiterate mother required her 2 sons to turn into her 2 book reports a week. This practice turned Carson into a habitual reader, classical music listener, and Jeopardy! aficionado. His love of learning and imaginative fascination with science developed into the desire to become a neurosurgeon:
First, we cannot overload the human brain. This divinely created brain has fourteen billion cells. If used to the maximum, this human computer inside our heads could contain all the knowledge of humanity from the beginning of the world to the present and still have room left over. Second, not only can we not overload our brain – we also know that our brain retains everything. I often use saying that “The brain acquires everything that we encounter.”
It took 3.5 seasons, but finally I found something culturally relevant in Girls.
The latest episode, Free Snacks raised barely a blip in the world of Girls criticism, most likely because it played more like a Woody Allen movie than your typical Girls episode rife with awkward sex and lunatic meltdowns. In fact, for the first time ever the few sex scenes featured in this episode were actually relevant to character exposition and development. I’ve thoroughly criticized Dunham for being a sacrificial goddess on the altar of pop culture, but this episode has left me hoping that perhaps Lena Dunham isn’t that kind of girl after all.
The episode opens with Hannah quitting her job at Ray’s coffee shop to become an advertorial writer at GQ. Thrilled after her first day’s success, she arrives home to find that Adam walked out of another audition because he didn’t like the direction he was given. The moment foreshadows the following day, when Hannah is confronted by the fact that her co-workers, who are more accomplished writers than she, turned their backs on their “spiritually fulfilling” writing for corporate jobs with steady salaries, health benefits and perks. Hannah’s nervous breakdown moment is priceless: Dunking her head under the bathroom sink, she walks her wet head into her boss’s office, responding to the compliment “you remind me a lot of myself,” with “I quit.”
When her boss doesn’t fight for her to stay on, Hannah rethinks her decision and asks to stay on. By this point, her boss brushes her off: “Email me when you make a decision.” Later that evening Hannah arrives home to find out that Adam, who stuck to his guns, crushed an audition and is one step closer to fulfilling his career dreams. Now it’s Hannah who has compromised herself for her dreams. “I’m going to write for 3 hours every night, no matter what,” she explains to Adam before passing out on the couch, exhausted.
No meltdowns. No emotional crises. No meandering self-obsession. And Hannah managed to convey a range of emotion without once getting naked. She also confronted a totally relevant issue that every 20-something college graduate is forced to face: The earth-shattering compromise of career dreams with economic realities. This theme resonates with Hannah, who realizes that the joy in paying her bills may come at the price of her personal writing aspirations. Yet, it is also relevant to Shoshanna in an emotional sense when she begins to believe that her ideal mate is a whim to be sacrificed at the altar of “relationship”.
Gay at a time when homosexuality was a felony and Jewish in an era of “polite” antisemitism, one Liverpool lad broke into entertainment management at a time when the Anglo Lords in London ruled the biz. 50 years later the music world is only beginning to acknowledge that there’d be no Beatles without their manager, Brian Epstein.
This past weekend, Vivek Tiwary, the Gen-X producer that brought Green Day’s American Idiot to Broadway, spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at The Fest for Beatles Fans about his mission to bring Epstein’s little known story to life via a critically acclaimed graphic novel, The Fifth Beatle, released by Dark Horse Comics.
What I unearthed after much difficult research (there is a paltry amount of information readily available on Brian, which is part of why I want to bring his story to the world) was not just an inspirational business story and a blueprint for what I wanted to accomplish with my career, but also a very human story, as summarized above. It’s a story I could relate to—and wanted to relate to—on so many levels. Brian became my “historical mentor”, if you will. A person from whose history I’ve tried to learn from—both what to do and what NOT to do. Brian was certainly a flawed and imperfect hero, but a hero all the same.
Tiwary has drawn inspiration from Epstein’s trailblazing ingenuity, citing that without Epstein’s persistence, Ed Sullivan never would have brought The Beatles to America. “People scoffed when I brought Sean Combs to Broadway in A Raisin in the Sun because they didn’t believe that Broadway attracted a black audience. I told them that was ridiculous; if we gave them a product they wanted, they would come.” Like Epstein decades before, Tiwary’s was a winning gamble.
(God, I hate that word…)
This week back in 1972, the stunt was described in less lofty terms:
It’s hard to come up with a contemporary parallel, since nowadays, the permanent daytime hosts are already “John and Yoko”:
Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopie Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres and their colleagues reflexively dole out that week’s trendy received liberal wisdom, normalizing formerly taboo topics and opinions.
You see, that week in 1972 is usually remembered as “historic” and brave and radical — a laudable if inevitably awkward attempt on everyone’s part to bridge the “generation gap.”
That the voting age had just been slashed from 21 to 18 energized millions of young people, and no doubt frightened some of their elders.
(Who had nothing to worry about: That year, with the Democrats running radical anti-war candidate George McGovern, and the hippie movement supposedly ascendant and crushing everything in its cultural path, Nixon won anyhow. That didn’t turn out so well, of course, but it proves once again that the eventuality you’re most worried about is usually nothing compared to whatever actually occurs…)
We’re also informed that John and Yoko’s chosen guests were rarely seen on American television, and that Mike Douglas was a good-natured if bewildered old fuddyduddy throughout.
You know what’s coming next…
Beatles-themed sensory overload: That is how to describe The Fest for Beatles Fans in New York City, held from February 7-9 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. What’s it like roaming a Fest that fills four floors of a New York hotel with musicians, historians, artists, authors, yogis, meditators, the famous and well over 8,000 fans from 40-odd states and five continents? Take a look at a day in the life of The Fest.
Beatles author and historian Bruce Spizer opened Saturday with a presentation on how the Beatles conquered America, no thanks to Dave Dexter, Jr., the Capitol Records guy who rejected hits like ”Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me” because they had “too much harmonica.”
Dear Prudence Farrow spoke about her spiritual journey in India with the Maharishi and the Beatles before leading an introductory transcendental meditation session. The room, dubbed the Ashram for the occasion, was so packed that more chairs had to be brought in for the standing room only crowd.
Good Ol’Freda Kelly, secretary to Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles, and president of the original Beatles fan club, is signing autographs! Quick, get in line!
Still down to earth after all these years, Freda hates being the center of attention but enjoys being with the fans. Her grandson, a toddler, was happily drawing next to her. “Would you like Nile’s autograph?” she casually asked, to which I happily agreed. Good Ol’Freda is the Queen of Beatles Fans: regal, royal, lovely. Her documentary Good Ol’ Freda is a must-watch.
Fifty years ago tonight, as a nine-year-old girl living in a Boston suburb, I — along with 73 million Americans — watched the Beatles perform on the popular Ed Sullivan Show.
After watching I knew (as much as a nine year old was capable of knowing) that I had witnessed a MAJOR cultural and historic event.
How did I know this?
How could I NOT have known?
President John F. Kennedy famously said in his 1961 inaugural speech that “the torch has been passed to a new generation,” and on that night the Beatles became the musical torch.
Upon the show’s conclusion, I distinctly recall my father saying with complete confidence that “the Beatles are just a passing fad.”
His prediction was totally expected from someone born in 1922, but I knew otherwise. For the Beatles had a sound that was so unique, engaging, modern, young, hip and vibrant, I knew right then that my world was going to be radically different from that of my parents.
Sunday, February 9, 1964, was when a “cultural earth mover” began digging the divide that would later be called “the generation gap.”
Monday on the school bus my friends and I yelled Beatles’ songs out the window. When we arrived in our third-grade classroom there was talk of nothing else. How could there be when clearly something monumental had happened the night before?
All of us were emotionally affected but not capable of articulating exactly what happened. All I remember talking about with my friends was which of the four Beatles was the “cutest,” but instinctively we knew it went much deeper.
Now, viewing the Beatles’ performance through a 50-year historical, musical, cultural and celebratory lens, I ask myself, “Was I exaggerating the importance of the evening?”
That question demanded answers. Fortunately, “valid” scientific research was just an email away and about to be provided by a good friend.
My friend was also born in 1955, just a month before me. (He is well-known in media circles and asked that his name be withheld.)
Furthermore, he grew up clear across the country from where I was in Boston. So, for all those reasons, I was keenly interested in comparing our impressions, which I’ll do on the next page.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in two parts in May and June of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists of 2013. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…
Then the rest of the week to come up with the rest.
For someone who is as cohort-sensitive as I am, who rages constantly about “kids these days,” and who feels most comfortable socializing almost exclusively with other X-ers, I found this assignment surprisingly daunting.
I used a HighLowBrow post about Gen-Xers to try to kickstart my brain.
That site calls us “Recons” and counts those born between 1964-1973 as members of that generation.
The article features a labor-of-love list of famous Recons/X-ers that was invaluable in helping me put together this column.
Predictably, I take issue with their chosen start date, however.
It’s a weird definition of “Generation X” that excludes the guy who popularized the phrase (Douglas Coupland, 1961) or the fellow who wrote our “national anthem” (Gordon Gano, 1963):
You know that article that’s been going around, about how we should stop throwing bridal showers and baby showers, and throw more parties to celebrate women when they get promotions, travel somewhere cool, or pass an educational milestone?
If you’re asking “which one?” it’s because that seems to be all the internet can talk about lately: the Non-Traditional Female Achievement Shower, or how women should be celebrated more often for all the stuff they do before getting married and starting a family.
The argument is, roughly, that women have been feted for centuries for getting married and having babies, but if we want to encourage female achievement, we should throw women Promotion Showers and New Job Parties instead. One blogger even argues she should get a party for backpacking across Asia.
This is in the name of equality (because, as you know, men have been getting special parties all along). Oh, you haven’t recently attended a party to celebrate the fact that one of your male friends completed a backpacking trip? Maybe because that’s not a thing. Okay, it is a thing, and that thing is called a “welcome home party,” and I’m only going to throw you one if I haven’t seen you in, like, five years. I’ve successfully returned from vacation many times without mourning the lack of a party to greet me.
Last week the Forward covered a “trendy Jewish spoken word” happening in the trendy neighborhood of Park Slope in the trendy part of trendy New York City known as Brooklyn. If the E! network hasn’t made you wary enough of the word “trendy” this article surely should. Basically, it’s about a doctoral student and an app techie using grant funding to study what makes Judaism trendy with millennials. And if that doesn’t set off any alarm bells in your head, let me be very clear: the title “Sermon Slam” shouldn’t fool you. Despite the religious-themed location, if God was invited to join in the party it was to sit and be talked at, not about let alone with.
For those of you unfamiliar with Judaism or hip lingo: Instead of reading the Torah portion, and perhaps even the Haftarah portion, then wrestling with the meaning of the portion through a discussion involving comparative texts, the Sermon Slam for young adults involves attacking the weekly Torah portion with a style akin to a poetry slam – rough-edged spoken verse rooted in the performer’s emotions and personal (potentially uneducated) perspective:
“Spoken word poetry has become increasingly sexy. …When you synergize that with something that sounds boring, like a sermon… it’s an ancient tradition that we’re now embracing and making our own. It’s for the people, by the people. That feels exciting to those of us in our 20s and 30s.”
I’m far from Orthodox, in fact I don’t identify as a Rabbinic Jew (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist) at all. But this self aggrandizing hyperbole annoys me more than black hatters arguing over sleeve length ever could. Seriously, is Judaism so desperate for adherents that we’re getting grant funding to make the Torah “sexy”?
It gets worse. Apparently making the Torah “sexy” doesn’t involve actually reading the Torah as much as it involves creating a postmodern pastiche of Biblical words and pop culture lingo:
References to iPhones and to Facebook popped up in the same sentence as “Kiddush.” And the hallowed Hebrew names of God, “Adonai” and “Elohim,” were uttered in the same breath as “s–t.”
And now you know why I avoid obnoxious hipster Judaism like the plague. With its goddess worship of Sarah Silverman and Lena Dunham and its conversion of New York into the New Zion, this religion has nothing to do with God and Torah and everything to do with Judaizing the kind of liberal self help ethos already prolific within the New Age and Buddhist movements. What’s next for Sermon Slam, a Chopra-esque two-hour fundraising featurette on PBS?
As the world mourned the loss of Soviet evangelist Pete Seeger last week, I encountered stories of real Soviets who found God, not in the hammer and sickle of the USSR, but in the smuggled bootleg lyrics of the Beatles.
How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin is a fascinating narrative detailing Soviet Baby Boomers’ covert love affair with the Fab Four. Interviewing a variety of Russian Beatlemaniacs, including many post-Communist music scene movers and shakers, over the course of nearly two decades, British filmmaker Leslie Woodhead discovered that The Beatles were much more than a band in the U.S.S.R. For many Soviet teens, The Beatles were a glimpse at independence, freedom, and even God.
The idea that a rock and roll band could provoke the understanding of the intertwining of God and freedom, let alone inspire a search for the divine, is one that is largely lost on an American audience. After all, as Soviet teens risked Kremlin hellfire to listen to Beatles tracks, their American counterparts in the Bible Belt were throwing their records on bonfires, forced by a religious hierarchy that saw John Lennon and his band as a threat to Christ. Rock music then became the stuff of hippies, the class that scoffed at religious institutions and, like The Beatles, sought divine encounters and self-empowerment through eastern religions.
Arguably, the advocates of Beatles burnings did more to harm Christ’s reputation and following than John Lennon ever could. After all, as he explained, his ironic quip about Jesus was more of a warning than a declaration:
“I’m not anti-God, anti-Christ or anti-religion. I was not saying we are greater or better. I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I’m sorry I said it, really. I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing. From what I’ve read, or observed, Christianity just seems to be shrinking, to be losing contact.”
Ironically, it’s a warning that post-Soviet leaders like Vladimir Putin have heeded with their own political purposes in mind.
Fatherhood has been undergoing a dramatic redefinition in recent years, amply covered by journalists, scientists, and sitcoms. That’s why the Tweet I saw today (“Do fathers make good writers? Do writers make good fathers?“) was clickbait I eagerly lapped up.
The article I wound up reading, “The Pram in the Hall,” revealed more about its author, Shane Jones, than it did about writing or parenthood. Jones is admittedly image-obsessed, and that’s evident when he spends most of this article talking not about the unique challenges parenthood poses to writing, but about the challenges it poses to his carefully cultivated personal and professional image.
He writes, “In our culture, fatherhood means baggy khakis and cars with side-impact airbags—it’s something of a joke.”
I don’t see how that’s something of a joke — I just see a comfortable man in a safe car. And people in the book world aren’t known for their glamorous good looks and fashion sense, either, so I’m not sure how any of that is a threat to his career. Have you been to a publishing trade show lately? Clint and Stacey would have a heart attack.
Next week I’ll be writing about the 50th anniversary of the so-called British Invasion and the Beatles’ epochal debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
(I’ll also be debunking some of the myths that quickly grew up around that event…)
Meanwhile, this week marks the 35th anniversary of the Clash’s first American tour, to support their Give ‘Em Enough Rope LP.
Sure, their debut U.S. single — a thundering cover of the Bobby Fuller Four’s “I Fought The Law” — was climbing up the American charts.
Fans and detractors alike wondered if Big Bad America would also crush the Pistols’ only still-standing rivals, especially since the Clash had dubbed their first visit the “Pearl Harbor Tour,” and launched almost every U.S. gig with the bitchy anthem “I’m So Bored With the U.S.A” — to determine “if the crowd had a sense of humor.”
Appropriately enough considering the tune had started out as a song about love — not a love song, per se, as those were frowned upon — that gesture rather resembled a little boy’s expression of affection for his female crush: pulling her pigtails.
Because for all their faddish political bombast, the Clash’s frontmen had loved America from afar for years.
The boycott/divestment/sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel has been the stuff of universities, investment groups and the American Jewish community until now. Thanks to the stardom of Scarlett Johansson the BDS battle has made its way into the mainstream. While pop culture addicts more attuned to the size of Kim Kardashian’s rear end will pass by the politically fueled story, chances are that the more intelligent among us, including ScarJo’s Avengers following, may take a second look at the morality behind the latest #BDSFail.
The players in this story have drawn a more definitive line in the sand than Walter Sobchak, with left-wing Jewish American sources like the Forward throwing early punches at Johansson’s presumed first move into the political realm:
…Johansson would do well to realize that “normalizing” the Israeli occupation is a bad use of her celebrity.
Justifying the sucker punch with statistics from the openly biased “Whoprofits.org” (“a project that researches and exposes ‘the commercial involvement of Israeli and international companies’ in the occupation”), the Forward got its own slap down from the Israeli leftist paper Ha’aretz, which lives too close to the facts to avoid them completely:
It is true that SodaStream employs hundreds of Palestinians under terms they probably wouldn’t get at a similar Palestinian firm and Birnbaum, to his credit, was willing even to embarrass the Israeli president in defence of his Palestinian workers.
ScarJo’s decision to leave OxFam was the star’s reaction to BDS movement leaders who demanded the international non-profit organization cut ties with the SodaStream spokeswoman who defended the Israeli company, saying:
SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.
We on the Right may find ourselves tempted at times to look at the failures of Obama’s presidency and think that we’ve won. We may think that we’ve proven, once and for all, that stifling statism and stealth socialism cannot prevail in America.
Have you stopped to think that what we think of as failures may instead be part of a grand radical strategy? Former Florida Congressman Allen West has, and he shared his thoughts on Fox News:
West, a Republican, said he recently reread the Cloward-Piven strategy, proposed by two sociologists and political activists in 1966. The purpose of the strategy, offered to Democrats at the time, was to overload the welfare system so that people could be given “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty.”
Obama’s economic policies may be intended to do something similar, West hinted during a Wednesday appearance on Fox News Channel’s ”On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”
“We’re seeing an incredible growth of the welfare nanny state; we’re seeing the poverty rolls explode; we’re seeing the food stamp rolls explode; we’re seeing more dependency on government largesse and programs,” he said. “We’re seeing a desperation and a despondency out there that’s being created by this administration.”
Authors Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven proposed a plan to end capitalism quickly by overloading bureaucracy with dependents so that the system would collapse under its own weight.
They proposed a “massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls.” Cloward and Piven calculated that persuading even a fraction of potential welfare recipients to demand their entitlements would bankrupt the system. The result, they predicted, would be “a profound financial and political crisis” that would unleash “powerful forces for major economic reform at the national level.”
Their strategy involved a radical tactic known as community organizing (sound familiar?) to whip the poor into a frenzy and drive them on to welfare rolls. Voting-rights drives and a push for a “living wage” factored in to the Cloward-Piven strategy as well. Cloward and Piven were also reportedly behind the controversy in the 2000 presidential election.
Does all of this sound far fetched? Bear in mind that, like President Obama, Cloward and Piven were disciples of Saul Alinsky.
I sure hope I’m wrong, but if Obama’s policies thus far are part of a Cloward-Piven styled strategy, 2014 is more crucial than ever in terms of stemming the tide of stealth socialism.
Second wave feminism, popularized in the 1960′s, is a rich white girl’s game. Just ask Betty Friedan, or better yet, Wendy Davis.
PBS’s 1964 featured commentary on the then-nascent women’s movement that would become known as Second Wave Feminism. The segment contains clips of commercials advertising household products marketed to women to make their lives easier in the home juxtaposed by Feminine Mystique author Betty Friedan’s response to these technological innovations: Women were increasingly bored.
Clips from a Friedan interview (what a miserable looking hag) reveal a perspective fueled by stereotypical thinking. Describing “the problem that has no name” she explains, “it’s not being anybody in themselves, really…” detailing that these women lack role models; even the women on TV are nothing more than ”mindless little drudge[s]…whose greatest thrill is to get that kitchen sink pure white…”. Embracing Freudian psychology, Friedan dismissed the roles of wife and mother as useless, even detrimental in light of the now-disputed Alfred Kinsey’s quack theory that “parasitical mother-love” made men gay.
The stereotypes upon which Friedan based her claim revels in the kind of ignorance common among upper middle class white women who could afford to be bored at home. Women composed over 1/3 of the workforce in 1960; contrary to Friedan’s audience, 19 million women were active in the labor force in 1964. When commenting on why black women by and large never read Friedan’s book, Michelle Bernard observed that most black women “…believed that Friedan’s work spoke only to a privileged class of white women who had nothing better to do than whine about how difficult life was as a stay at home mother.”
It becomes obvious reading The Feminine Mystique that Friedan never intended to market to an audience of working women who would’ve appreciated the technological innovations entering the home. Friedan loaded her book with (now disputed) academic citations that would only have been recognizable by her fellow Smith College graduates and their educated, upper-class compatriots. This nomeklatura-style intellectualism comes as no surprise when Friedan’s communist past and Marxist agenda is taken into account:
“…under her maiden name, Betty Goldstein, she was a political activist and professional propagandist for the Communist left for a quarter of a century before the publication of “The Feminist Mystique” launched the modern women’s movement.
…Friedan was from her college days, and until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist, the political intimate of the leaders of America’s Cold War fifth column and for a time even the lover of a young Communist physicist working on atomic bomb projects in Berkeley’s radiation lab with J. Robert Oppenheimer. Her famous description of America’s suburban family household as “a comfortable concentration camp” in “The Feminine Mystique” therefore had more to do with her Marxist hatred for America than with any of her actual experience as a housewife or mother. (Her husband, Carl, also a leftist, once complained that his wife “was in the world during the whole marriage,” had a full-time maid and “seldom was a wife and a mother”).”
America is celebrating The Beatles’ Jubilee. 50 years ago this year The Fab Four landed on this side of the Atlantic and the ’60s officially began. (At least, that is, according to PBS.) With the announcement that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the two surviving Beatles, will reunite at the Grammys on January 26 and perform a concert to air on February 9, 50 years to the day of their Ed Sullivan premiere, it would seem that Beatlemania (unlike much of organized religion) is making a resurgence in pop culture. Think the Fab Four are so yesterday? Think again:
A 2009 Pew Research Center survey placed the Beatles in the top four favorite music acts of Americans ages 16 to 64 — suggesting the band that helped create the 1960s Generation Gap ultimately helped us come together. Perhaps that’s the Beatles’ greatest gift: music that can be shared not only across the universe, but across generational lines.
Imagine a mathematician trying to quantify each Beatles’ album with Martha Stewart-like graphics. Wait, you don’t have to, just check out one Millennial’s 4 Simple Charts Visualizing The Beatles’ Major Albums and you’ll find out that The Beatles aren’t just for rock n’rollers, they’re for nerds, too. ”A new project on Kickstarter aims to tap into the passion of teenyboppers young and old withVisualising the Beatles, a book of infographics about each of the Fab Four’s major records.” Seriously: If that doesn’t make you want to start a Revolution, nothing will.
Huff Po details A Comprehensive Guide to The Beatles’ Invasion of Comic Culture for Millennial comic fans:
“Thanks to a book by Enzo Gentile and Fabio Schiavo, appropriately titled “The Beatles in Comic Strips,” we’ve been enlightened on the Fab Four’s history of comic book appearances. From subtle cameos to entire issues, the group managed to squeeze their iconic faces and psychedelic style into more than a few works of comic art.”
In March, Vans will release four pairs of Beatles-themed shoes for their Millennial audience:
“The most expensive of the bunch, the Sk8-Hi Reissue, features stylized portraits of all four Beatles running up the ankles apropos to cartoon portraits of each as they were animated for the film. The other shoes each feature psychedelic tableaus from the film. The Classic Slip-Ons play off the movie’s Sea of Monsters, showing trippy marine life swimming in an ocean of pink. The Era shoes depict all four band members, some wearing rainbow pants, hanging out in a yellow garden. And the final pair, a model called Authentic, is adorned with a pattern that reads “Allyouneedislove” running over and over again and into itself in purple, yellow and green.”
Newest SNL actor Sasheer Zamata hosts a Girls walking tour of Brooklyn via Above Average. It’s a tight skit with a lot of great one liners like, ”Cafe Grumpy: It’s where Hannah works and they have a drink there called ‘The Hannah’ and…it’s an 8 dollar cup of coffee.” Funny enough, although the real humor in the sketch is that the black fan of a critically defined “all-white-girls” show is being portrayed by a talented black actress who was brought onto SNL to fulfill the critics’ affirmative action casting quota.
The sketch clashes with reality on another note: For many Brooklyn natives, the Girls have worn out their welcome. Citing an increase in obnoxious tourists seeking photographs of baristas at Cafe Grumpy, the New York Daily News reports:
“The booksellers at Spoonbill and Sugartown on Bedford Ave. are similarly perplexed by the influx of millennials who show up and recreate the show’s seminal kissing scene in the stacks.
…It gets worse. The show has even spawned its own guidebook — as if HBO’s “take hipsterism and add water” needed more explanation.
“The Unofficial Girls Guide to New York” invites struggling twentysomethings to “get to know New York the way the ‘Girls’ know it.”
But real New York “girls” aren’t buying it.
“I hate anything that puts a label on what we’re doing. I came here to live outside of the box, not in one,” says Johanna Hickey, 31, who works three jobs and lives in Greenpoint. ‘It pisses me off.’”
Spoken like a true New Yorker.