JANE FONDA – HANOI OR HOLLYWOOD

This week’s Internet has carried reports that Jane Fonda is sorry for the 1972 picture and film of her sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft battery, laughing and otherwise joyously carrying on. North Vietnam was the enemy during the Vietnam War, itself a huge, costly mistake that never needed to be fought. That War with more than 58,000 deaths brought out the super stupid in two Presidents, Johnson and Nixon, and their stooges – generals, secretaries of state, national security advisors…

Now Jane Fonda says the pictures and the film were huge mistakes. What was her first clue?

Jane was in the movies, going from glamour puss to excellent actress while arising from a gaggle of Hollywood brats. She believed in the Hollywood hype – I’m on film. I have money. I am famous. Everyone loves me. Nothing can happen to me. In early 1972 she won an Oscar for her role in the 1971 film, Klute. Thereafter, she went to North Vietnam for her photo shoot.

The current Internet has incorrect and omitted quotes of Jane Fonda and boyfriend (eventual Hubby), Tom Hayden. This list is incomplete but it represents her state of mind after returning from Vietnam and after the return of American prisoners of war e.g. John McCain. “Walking through the streets of Hanoi with their heads bowed in front of a woman with a bayonet might be torture,” Jane said, Daily Californian, April 12, 1973, p. 1; see Berkeley Barb, April 13, 1973, for more Jane Fonda opinions on the torture of American POWS; Holzer, Henry Mark and Erica, Aid and Comfort: Jane Fonda in North Vietnam, McFarland & Co. Hayden, Reunion, p. 455: Either Tom or Jane about the time of the 1973 Peace Treaty, “the POWS were ‘liars, hypocrites and pawns in Nixon’s efforts to rewrite history.’” Jane and Tom were among a group of myth-makers, see Susan Sontag, Styles of Radical Will, NY, 1969, “Trip to Hanoi,” p. 205, 208, “The North Vietnamese genuinely care about the welfare of the hundreds of American pilots and give them bigger rations than the Vietnamese population gets ‘because they are bigger than we are…’ and ‘they’re used to eat more meat than we are.’”

[These citations are from my novel, Bitch., 2013, iBookstore.]

The time to correct misimpression’s, miscommunications and mistakes was when the quotes first appeared in 1973, or whenever they were made. 2015 is too late to go on TV and apologize. I cannot take Jane Fonda seriously. She is not sincere. She acts like the same stupid little Hollywood girl she was in her first movies in the early Sixties.

Entertainment disapproved of that war. John Wayne’s Green Berets is the most ridiculous pro-war movie from the mid-1960s. There were no similar films except for POW and POWS-left-behind films after the peace and departure in 1975. I imagine in Jane’s own family, brother Peter, a fine actor whom I’m always happy to see on film and her father, the venerable Henry Fonda opposed the War. I doubt if Henry let his views to break up his long friendship with Jimmy Stewart. Both Henry and Peter had a maturity in 1970 which Jane has yet to exhibit.

Jane left Tom Hayden in the early 1980s, did the exercise tape thing  and was the subject of wonder on supermarket tabloids: Which sexual orientation did she want? It’s publicity. She ran off to Ted Turner but wasn’t sure she wanted to do the tomahawk chop at Atlantic Braves games. CNN, the Braves, buffalo ranching and Time-Warner were all too much. She left Ted.

Now it’s all make up and plastic surgery. Today Jane looks like she’s forty years old. But what’s in her brain? She’s in her mid-seventies, and it appears she wants to compete with Anne Hathaway and Heather Graham, actresses born after Jane made her most damning statements.

Jane Fonda is not a little Public Relations’ problem. She wants to be known and respected as a good person, although much she had done has left her living on the same street as Charlie Sheen, Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, and Jane is the most notorious of the neighbors. Jane cannot write another book, like the one she released in the last decade: Throughout it, anyone could read I’m lying; I’m a dishonest person. I want you to love me.

This is her conundrum.

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CORRESPONDING WITH CARLOS – Charles Barber

This engaging, funny, instructive, artistic book is part biography of the late twentieth century Austrian conductor, Carlos Kleiber; the other part of the volume is epistolary, letters from the conductor to the author. Kleiber is recognized as one of the best conductors of his times. He did not record much; he did not pursue fame. He took extreme care in performance (mostly opera) and on recordings to get the best music, performed and presented.

Art and perfection in its presentation are the most difficult feats for any person to achieve in performance. Kleiber has no set process. No conductor and no artist should. If one writes a book review, a novel or a biography, the writer should be conscious of different processes required from each product. It is true with a painter – self-portrait, landscape or city scene; a composer – a piano piece, a symphony or an opera. Each work of art should have its own forces, thoughts and games by the originator.

A conductor takes each piece of music, sets it into its style, regionally and historically, and brings out the voices, rhythms and sensations. Corresponding describes this process incompletely because Carlos Kleiber was always unsure of himself: He had great talent, devotion, energy, discipline and imagination, and although he had an ego and it seems colossal and unerring at times, doubts arose. He knew his knowledge, understanding and abilities had limits. He always wanted to know whether Verdi composed an opera while eating a boatload of bad calamari; it was useful to know the inflammatory patterns of Wagner’s hemorrhoids while he composed Tristan and Isolde. But in doubt about other stuff and getting an orchestra to perform to the conductor’s interpretation festered uncertainty.

Learning to conduct involves all the musicianship taught at conservatories, plus experiences of a lifetime, conducting orchestras and ensembles plus seeing and hearing other conductors, preferably in person. While big named conductors, including Kleiber, rehearsed with orchestras other big named conductors liked to sit unobtrusively in the seats and listen. Security sweeps of the house would remove the uninvited guests That degree of intimacy by the rehearsing conductor, the product soon to become public, did not protect trade secrets – nobody stole ideas because any decent conductor would have an understanding of music apart from the jumble in rehearsal. Kleiber himself had no students except the author, Charles Barber, a graduate student from Stanford 7,000 miles from Munich. The American figured how to get instruction – deliver VHS tapes of other conductors to Kleiber and await his reactions. It is true in the arts that the best instruction is sometimes delivered briefly, 35-40 words, and that is what Kleiber does.

In the biographical potion of the books (60 percent of the pages) may of the conductors were European. Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony came up and Kleiber (two recordings) gives his impressions. On and on Kleiber went, and the text didn’t mention Pierre Monteux, primary a symphony (not operatic) conductor. Monteux has many recordings including dynamic presentations of Beethoven’s Seventh and Dvorak’s Seventh. There is very little of him on film. In the epistolary section I was relieved that Kleiber liked and admired “the walrus” (Monteux had a big white mustache).

It is helpful and perhaps essential to have a rudimentary understanding of music and recognizing pieces like is done in music appreciation classes. The book is written to a general audience – 70 percent of everyone will pick up and follow the artist themes. The remainder are embellishments, the knowledgable reader understanding the next 15-20 percent, and the final ten percent is understood by musicians who know or who have played the music being discussed.

In a score I know how to find a passage and understand some of the discussion in the last ten percent, but that is no longer important to me and does not yield a greater understanding of the book. [It would provide a greater understanding of the music and how Kleiber heard and did it.] Sometimes knowing everything is ludicrous; the readers sees moods, manias and childnesses: Tutti in a score means all instruments of one kind (flutes, trombones, etc) play. During a bad rehearsal Kleiber was dissatisfied and unhappy; he began to pick on various players. He told the first-cellist to change tables with the tutti-cellist (a grave, life-lingeirng insult) because the tutti cellist had been playing with more enthusiasm.

These sorts of nasty, artistic outbursts are common in the artistic word. Writers want to murder everyone, including the characters on the pages before them while they, themselves, butcher the language. Michelangelo painted Jesus Christ on Judgment Day throwing a cardinal the artist detested into Hell. This temperament is part of artistic lives and impulses also extant in Corresponding. Anyone seeking that experience, influence and stimulation would benefit from a thorough reading of this volume.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT – Carleton Putnam

This is the best and most complete biography of Theodore Roosevelt (TR) 1858-1886. It is a life and times book, the times include New York politics in the early 1880s (who knew they could be interesting), academic life at Harvard and the life of a mid-continent (Bad Lands) rancher. In the end TR’s energy seems inexhaustible. He has written three non-fiction books; he has been in the New York legislature fighting for reform and immersing himself in local and state politics; he has begun friendships with prominent men in other states. He is no bully himself, but he takes no gruff from anyone, fellow legislators, other ranchers and outlaws.

None of these activities are told in isolation. The book is chronological and detailed, much more so than later-published prize-winning TR biographies. Take one activity – hunting. He would travel 500-1000 miles, and each step seems conveyed to the reader in the grind of stalking and chase. TR always had an experienced man with him who was a dead shot; he himself always carried hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Tales of TR and Man of Experience (written 40 years later) make for informative, comparative reading. It is easy to imagine TR being a poor shot, shooting and missing, chasing and reloading and repaying the process while the experienced man accompanies. They go after grizzlies. TR presents his stories; the experienced man others. The biographer favors TR, but there is enough in the biography to judge the experienced man is correct.

[It turns out that hunting stories are like fishing stories, especially the size of the fish and the fight involved.]

Through out the activities, TR marries. He is in the New York legislature getting multiple pieces of legislation passed. He succeeds on most, but TR’s work is interrupted by a telegraph. He rushes from Albany to New York City. His wife has just given birth to his daughter but is in bad shape. Hs mother is also ill. TR arrives home, sees his wife but must rush to his mother who dies in his presence.  He returns to his wife who dies in his presence the next day. The short chapter of seven pages telling of the trip from Albany, of the deaths and of the funerals is the finest piece of fiction or non-fiction on this subject I have read: Emotions, grief, loss, despair, absence emerge forcefully.

In the 1880s Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, publicly supported a candidate. Roosevelt went after both the candidate and Davis, who took offense. Davis was an old man ready to die. He had never regretted anything he had done: Slaveholder, promoter and defender of slavery, being part of the Southern Civil War leadership, The biographer explains and jumps in taking the side of Jefferson Davis. Davis had no qualities except hate, bigotry and resentment.

In the end the biographer took those traits from Davis. The book was published in 1958 near the beginning of the well-known Civil Rights Movement activities. The biographer was a founder-executive of Delta Airlines in Atlanta. He sided with the country club set, Southern Ladies and Gentlemen trying to preserve Anglo-Saxon society. That society had already been polluted and degraded mostly by Irish and Scots-Irish, all born enemies of the Anglo-Saxons. But blacks were anathema to whites in the South. The author spoke against the Civil Rights movement.

There was no market for a volume two of TR’s biography from this author. Every word he wrote on matters of race had to gag him. [Black Jack Pershing either did or did not lead black troops during the Spanish-American War; they fought well.] The author could not accept TR’s primary position – former slaves and their decedents should advance economically.

These circumstances are unfortunate because this book reveals a talented artist who slid to the dark side and by accepting hate, bigotry and resentment, he lost the ability to be original and creative.

ART HEIST – Review

This movie stars Ellen Pompeo and Steven Baldwin.

Theft of El Greco in Madrid. Ellen, a high-powered art dealer, might lose her most lucrative client. She advised him to loan the painting to the Madrid museum which was robbed.

At home in America she loves her daughter and husband (Baldwin-cop) recently separated. They live in New Jersey.

To protect her relations with her client, Ellen goes to Madrid to help the investigation. Who are the suspects? Pompeo is not convincing in the role. Her New Jersey house looks like a set from a Doris Day movie in 1958, not the digs of a dealer/one time aspiring painter. She says nothing smart about painting or the market for stolen art. Her role in the movie is pathetically clear.

She’s driving in the first chase scene, after the same art culprits steal a painting from an art auction. She rips along the streets of Madrid, across plazas and around circles. She crashes into a coffee shop, but is too injured to order. Baldwin and daughter fly the Atlantic to comfort her.

If I had seen this movie before the tragedy in Paris, I would have been incredulous about the lack of local police activity to violent crimes within the city: Boots on the ground, investigators looking into high value thefts, electronic resources. In California when someone boasts a car or just doesn’t want to stop for a traffic ticket, there are at least five cop cars trailing him along with the police and media helicopters. Within the last decade when Eastern Europeans robbed a bank in the San Fernando Valley, cops stopped them. The bad guys were wearing full body armor; at least 100 cops including SWAT were on scene within ten minutes. End of bank robbers.

In Paris this year twelve people were murdered; 11 were wounded; police officers were killed or wounded. The bad guys drove 12-15 miles and were located on the second day and killed. Meanwhile, that festering situation allowed the attack on the grocery store. A question arises, and the answer is not, C’est la vie. If the murdering bad guys had been stopped immediately, would have the attack on the grocery store have ensued?

in Art Heist people are murdered during the art theft. Paintings worth $100 million are stolen. There are no cops anywhere. Ellen has to chase the bad guys herself. A week later (a few minutes of film time) Ellen is threatened (knife to throat). Baldwin intercepts and chases the two bad guys. Three minutes of motorcycles through Barcelona, making old people jump, young people watch and children cry. Baldin catches up with them, fights, loses (two against one). There’s not a cop closer than 20 miles.

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? TAKE WHAT YOU WANT. EUROPE IS UP FOR GRABS!

Art Heist becomes preposterous: Baldwin tells Ellen the situation is dangerous. He knows of the people accused of the thefts. He advises return to New Jersey. She gives him every illogical, unrealistic, unreasonable, unfathomable explanation why she will stay, be insensate and endanger herself. About this time in the movie, Baldwin, doing real police work (his character is the only credible one in the flick), meets a promising babe-informant (seen her but don’t know her name). She has a day job in a sporting goods store. It’s time for abandon Ellen to the wilds of Spain, take his daughter and the sporting good woman home to mother in New Jersey.

NOPE, and I can neither write more nor recommend the final 20 minutes of this movie, any more than I can the beginning.

MIND OF A PEOPLE

A life’s worth of reading had led me onto an issue separating Western thought from most of the world. The issue comes down to the individual and society. It is not every individual doing what he wants; every person must conform to minimum standards and behavior. The issue becomes one of a law and order country enforcing its society on individuals pursuing rights, freedoms and liberties. Vladmir Putin and the Chinese cherish society on terms only whimsically understood by the leaders in power. Individuals in those countries have lost liberties and freedoms to think, believe or communicate anything beyond the party line.

In history Germany had a choice to accept individual freedoms or accept the state security of law and order, as defined by persons in power. In each century, eighteenth to the twentieth, the Germans failed to enlighten themselves. The Germans and their historians know of this failing, but authors fail to understand why the country and its people could not reform: Those Germans today rely on long-established, intellectual philosophical bases which are admired worldwide for their intellectualism. The Germans have believed reliance on tradition and indigenous custom gave any person all the freedom any human being could desire. Reading that history much of it by German authors, I’ve never had the mindset better presented than by Howard Morley Sacher, The Course of Modern Jewish History.

Sacher provides a term for the German mindset: Germany’s Christian Romantic Tradition. The Germans have never had a Christian Romantic Tradition. They’ve had separation and war. Indeed, from 1618-1648 the Germans fought one another, aided by the French, Spanish, Dutch, Swedes and anyone else who wanted to join in. One-third of the German population perished during the Thirty Years War.

Yet the Germans persisted, allowing localities to follow accepted traditions and customs which frequently excluded anyone who was different: Protestants, Catholics, Jews, the educated, businessmen, etc. Local societies became stultified, yet the Germans persisted in the fairy-tale beliefs of their Christian Romantic Tradition.

No one quoted James Madison to support extending rights, liberties and freedoms. They relied on custom and tradition: What German leaders imagined that happened in the Ninth Century was good for the German people in the Twentieth Century. What the ancients said; what the church said; a brilliant man, a German who lived 500 years ago said this or that, telling Germans exactly how to live lives in 1933.

Sacher writes,

As material prosperity declined with the tapering-off of war expenditures, the harassed German Mittelstand relapsed

briefly – but significantly -into impotence. The nationalist secret societies,…, struggled fitfully for a while, and then

were throttled to death by the Carlsbad Decrees of 1819. Constitutionalism vanished like a wraith, while romantic

conservatism burgeoned forth in the works of political theorists, artists, musicians, and writers, who harked back to

the dear dead days of Gothic medievalism, and who endowed very tangible feudal and class interests with the

magic of an ideology. Immanuel Fichte and Georg Hegel deduced from the past that the welfare of the State-

Leviathan took precedence over the happiness of individuals. The theological Schleiermacher sanctified the state

on the level of theology. German prose and poetry conjured up the past in fairy tales, legends, epics; music was

rewoven about the themes of minnesingers. Law, too, was visualized by Savigny as the result of inexorable

historical circumstances. The sustained emphasis upon tradition, the past, and the state augured ill for the

liberals, the reformers, the emancipators – and especially for the Jews. (p. 103)

Thus as decades passed and society changed, the human beings did not abide realism and history. They learned the historical fantasies concocted and promoted by each generation of leaders. Inhibitions became more traditional, customary and accepted.

For in Germany conservatism worked; it created the State; it created prosperity; it created power. For sixty years

before the emergence of the empire, Kant, Fichte, Herder and Hegel had argued that the needs of the Christian

German state took precedence over the needs of the individual. Droysen and Ranke delved deep into Germany

history to support this contention. Now, in one massive coup de main, Bismarck validated all the theorizing that

had gone before. If conservative nationalism had been a respectable philosophy in pre-Bismarckian days, it

seemed positively irrefutable after 1870. (p. 222)

If it remains part of Germany today, and historical fantasies and good times in the past is a large part of the lore of many countries [those readily accepting totalitarianism, tyranny, the despotism],only bad can come from that mindset:

World War I was not simply a product of rival economic imperialisms. We know now – indeed, World War II has

helped to teach us – that Germany’s foreign policy, her decision to resort to hostilities, were the ultimate result

of the myth of the German folk destiny, of militant pan-Germanism, and of the idealization of the Leviathan-State.(p. 419)

Supported by philosophical fantasies no where near reflecting rational human behaviors, digging up historical legends many of which came from England [Tristan, Holy Grail, Tristan and Isolde were Welsh and Irish lovers] and constructing a sociology which was completely detached from ethics and morals, the Germans next concocted a very primitive political system to allow themselves to put their wonderings into practice.

THE COURSE OF MODERN JEWISH HISTORY – Howard Mosley Sacher

This volume is an intelligent, well-presented, well-written survey of the Jewish peoples in Europe (Urals to the Atlantic) from the early eighteenth century into the twentieth century.

Because Jews were isolated by Europeans, they have a separate history and society on that continent, less so in North America. Yet author-Sacher gives details in historical settings, by group, nationality and time. He presents the significant personages, their ideas and influences. There are anomalies: The Russians persecuted their Jews, driving them off the lands and away from cities (no where to live), yet the Russians did not want the Jews to leave Russia because there would be shortfalls in conscription for the Russian Army. There are explanatory facts: Breaking of the glass at Jewish wedding represents the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, not penetrating the hymen. There is a difference between the (a) Temple (Second Temple) in Jerusalem and a synagogue. Historically, there has been a difference between synagogues in America and those in Germany and elsewhere.

This book was first published in 1967. As most text of history approaches the present day, it tends to be interpretative. However, Sacher is careful, “The Birth of Israel:”

By the war’s end there were two groups of Arab political leaders in Palestine: those allied with the Palestine

Arab Party and those allied with the Arab National Fund, headed by the spokesman of the old Istiqlal party. The

Mufti was still the official leader of the Arab community; but as a war criminal he was unacceptable to the British.

The Arabs found it impossible to agree upon a new executive for the national movement. In the absence of

political leadership at home, they tended to look to near-by countries for guidance and support …After 1945…

all major decisions on the organization of Arab anti-Zionist resistance was made not in Jerusalem but Cario;

for it was in 1945 that the League of Arab States came into existence…The British themselves had originally

sponsored this league as an anti-Soviet and indeed, an anti-French federation…(463)

It is appalling that the Palestinians had no single body to negotiate for its people. Keeping the Mufti after World War Two was stupid. The guy spent years in Berlin until the Russians overran the city. He was buddies with all the big Nazis; he broadcast for them. They used his name and authority far and wide.

When looking at Nazi Germany what every Semite must ask is, can anyone believe that Hitler and the Nazis would have stopped after killing only Jews? NO. Hitler and the Nazis happily would have slaughtered countless other peoples, if given the chance, as the Nazi record demonstrates: Millions of Russians, Czechs, Slovakians and Poles. They killed French, despite the fact that the Franks of the Sixth Century were a true Germanic people who moved west; the Normans of Normandy were a Nordic people; they killed Italians in Northern Italy despite the fact that the Lombards of the Sixth Century were a Germanic people who moved south. The Germans did not kill many Scandinavians because those people were truly Nordic. But the Germans freely killed Russians, Poles and others who were more more Nordic in appearance than the Semite-appearing Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels.

If the Germans had defeated into British in Egypt in 1942, the Germans would have gone east and killed millions of Semites, until nature’s only defense, skin cancer, took out the murdering Nordic conquerors.

All human beings should read of Nazi atrocities and realize and appreciate the evil. The reaction of the Jews to record and write about those years is a great contribution to human beings and their history. That knowledge and learning tells us in part the human race can do better. During that war the Semitic peoples, not in Europe, were not immune; they were not protected. Indeed, the Semitic peoples should read this book and others, study and embrace the Holocaust as an attack on their ethnicity. They will learn from that knowledge they have much in common with fellow Semites, whatever the religion.

THE LAMP OF EXPERIENCE

by Trevor Colbourn

This engaging history richly tells of seventeenth and eighteenth century histories read by prominent American Revolutionaries.

Being from a generation of historians of 50 years ago, the book is not widely known but is well worth reading – a simple direct telling of the subject and the books the Revolutionaries were reading, in addition to sufficient recounting of the subject matter. The Americans [John Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Mason, Otis, Wilson] were not reading history to follow tradition and custom in a ghoulish resurrection of mindsets of previous centuries. They were constructing no philosophies; times had changed. They read to learn of previous times, to know the mistakes of the past and better the judge events coming at them.

This argument is well made in the book, but another argument seeps in. To what extent did the American Revolution change and begin the break down the ossification of the British political system?