Everyone wants polite social discourse especially after the Republican congressman was shot. But it’s hard to leave the old ways: In the government sandbox be rude, be offensive and pee but use no plumbing. I’m sure Don Trump got solace from that good Christian woman, defending him and blessing his actions. I bet, though, when Sarah Huckabee is at home, if her kids are as rude and offensive as is the President, she whips them. [Spare the rod, spoil the child is the Proverb modified from 13:24.] In this matter spanking anyone would produce adverse results. The guy’s been spanked before.
I’ve seen two movies, both set in New York City. In each there is no character worth liking; there is no one to root for. Keanu Reeves is in Exposed; Adam Rodriquez is in A Kiss of Chaos.
The stories like the setting, the underside of New York City, are grimy, tough, rude, vulgar and bleak. In A Kiss a character says to another: “The cops are coming.” RESPONSE: “The cops don’t come here.” Without knowing anything else viewers agree. The dialogue reflects elementary educations, perhaps to sixth grade after most kids know the swear words, cliches and conventional comments which are meaningless. Someone offered to teach a woman class; he spoke quietly, like he had an eighth grade education.
In Exposed Reeves investigates his partner’s murder. He learns along the way, that his partner has been committing felonies. A Kiss is about a cocaine deal that goes wrong – the buyer ends up with drugs and the cash. How do they get it back?
These low, miserable, youthful tales have identifiable characters, none that a family would want delivered to a family member who is in the state prison. Each movie has a premise which is resolved; each is filled with sociological terrors. The human imagination runs wide and strong, but I have no reason to doubt that these films and stories reflect large doses of reality. They are existing facts and circumstances which will arrive in the future.
Finally, I must commend Mr. Reeves and Mr. Rodriquez for acting and being in these stories. They are not fantasy; they are not concocted love; they are not super-hero stuff; they are not monster versus mankind, or the earth; there are no car races or car chases. These movies seem real, although the movies suggest the true facts should never be put into a police report.
Brenda Starr has returned. She’s covering the big issues of the day.
One issue is demystifying self-proclaimed truths repeated by people who are mentally ill. In Megyn’s recent interview of Alex Jones, he claimed that the Sandy Hook shooting was perpetrated in conspiratorial fashion in part, by the parents of the victims.
A program with such headlines and ramifications would be definitive, if the sources were identified and verified, like once-upon-a-time happened in the newspaper world. It was Ronald Reagan who advanced the standard: Verify and trust. Americans have to learn whether Brenda Starr ignores all that and goes for the exclusive.
For himself, Alex Jones said he “looked at all the angles of Newtown.” What was the view from one hundred eighty-three degrees? Jones also asserts, “Thirty years ago they began creating animal-human hybrids.” Do you think it’s true? I’ve heard countless women describe Don Trump as a Neanderthal.
Perhaps Alex Jones cannot help himself. He is photographed wearing a tin-foil hat. He looks sad, a pouty face like a kid at a birthday party who didn’t get a piece of the cake. I notice, though, in another photograph while he’s talking, he looks like he has eaten the whole damn cake.
Reactions of the Sandy Hook parents are predictable and justified. If Jones gets to spit out his conspiracy theories and Brenda Starr only argues with him, the parents have a mighty point. If Jones is one of 300 such people spewing these theories, is Jones the most representative spokesman? Why? Ask him to distinguish facts which make his presentation better. Ask about his experience and depth of knowledge. Ask, ask, ask. Most of those people do not have the background to answer. What they know are the cliches and catch phrases known by their audience and followers.
Brenda Starr is correct about one thing: The more that is known about these people – how they collect their facts, conceive their opinions, rely on biases and prejudices, believe intuitions, chose the correct or inflammatory word, and depend upon instinct – the better for the American people. The American people should judge the TV program based upon reason, logic and common sense, as well as common decency.
And Brenda Starr, herself, should strive for a newsworthy program, not one that is entertaining: A “riveting exchange,” she is quoted.
Comey arrives at the White House. His boss, Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States is there with Vice President, Mike Pense. Pense and the Attorney General leave. Comey is stuck talking with President Don Trump.
Don Trump talks. His son says when his father talks he is direct. His message is never confused. He never uses innuendo or metaphors to convey a message. Don Trump said, Suppress all investigations involving G.G.F. (Good-Guy Flynn) and my B.F.F., the Russians.
Comey went home and wrote notes about that conversation with President Don Trump, a talk he should not have been forced into. He wrote nothing that was privileged or secret. Remember any American can have an Oval Office conversation with Don Trump, go home and write it down. That writing is not confidential or secret.
Comey did something else when he wrote the conversation. The facts, ideas and proposed actions seemed to support inferences or elements of criminal activity which by his prior knowledge involves Comey in the plot. Comey was being asked to join the conspiracy. Don Trump was being subtle for once. Comey’s after meeting writing is a means to recount what was said.
Viewing the writing in light of post meeting statements from Don Trump and his minions, Comey handed it to a Third Party. His death or absence would preserve his version of the meeting. That transfer is evidence of Comey’s unwillingness to act in unison with Don Trump and his minions. Comey did not want to be part of any conspiracy.
Production and publication of the writing will end with legislative and legal scrutiny. Comey has an early date whereby he did not want to join the conspiracy. If only New York prosecutors had similar tapes and writings of conversations, they would have taken down all thugs, racketeers and mobsters long before Rudy Giuliani did.
If everything Comes said was a lie, Don Trump must prove it by producing his tape recordings today. If there are no productions of tape recordings, or if there are no tapes, Don Trump is the liar.
Winchell was an entertainer, and primarily uninteresting. During the 1920s he came up in the newspaper world (columnist) and made most of his money and notoriety (not fame) in radio. Winchell never had the substance, education and discipline of an Edward R. Murrow or a William L. Shirer.
What Winchell had was gossip, “making smart chat,” initially about persons involved in Broadway plays and shows extending to Hollywood, New York City, crime, and into politics. A fact is found this biography telling about Winchell’s wife, June:
“She read novels, saw movies, listened to records and radio
programs for Walter and delivered her opinions, which then
became his opinions.” (p. 357)
Apparently Winchell great observer, critic and commentator did none of those things. He collected and organized gossip, having a string of runners whom he usually did not pay. Much of the slang he developed and used then does not live today.
Winchell had no background for what he was doing. He was an empty suit. At the end of his life he wrote an overlong autobiography (in manuscript) pulling no punches, punching down, kicking shins and elsewhere else. It is hinted, though, that therein Winchell told the truth.
The author quotes a member of the Smart Set: “If all the Armenians were to be killed tomorrow” that would help establish the decade’s tenor, “and if half of Russia were to starve to death the day after, it would not matter in the least. What concerns me alone is myself and the interest of a few close friends. For all I care the rest of the world may go to hell at today’s sunset.”(p. 47) This book tells the relationships and activities of Walter Winchell and a few close associates and colleagues who lived in New York City and Washington D.C.
At the end of life Winchell was defeated and bitter. His family’s life had collapsed: A daughter had died when young; his wife (somewhat estranged) saw him a week or two a year; she died before him. A daughter with grandkids was unhappy and not productive. A son had committed suicide. For the final fifteen (15) years of life (60-75 years) his health was no good. All the while his professional career of gossip was disappearing. His was a name many knew, but he was from a profession and a time that no longer existed. He was a hanger-on, has-been, once-was.
From gossip around New York City in the 1920s, Winchell moved toward circles in Washington D.C. New York City might tolerate the fluff, insults and revelations. Almost everyone would not hold grudges. However, Winchell held grudges for years or decades to the point of being vile and evil. I had to rethink Ed. Sullivan who adamantly opposed Winchell for a quarter century. Sullivan was not intimidated. Unlike the person most Americans remember, Sullivan was very athletic when young. Winchell did not want to tangle with him.
The Washington D.C. world pegged Winchell, and held him to his words. He was initially anti-Nazi and against racial discrimination. He was on “the New Deal” team and opposed to conservative forces in the Democratic Party. He was B.F. F. with J. Eager Hoover – died two months apart in 1972.
Those persons and organizations presented forces and influences on Winchell that he could not handle and did not have the ability to dismiss. Personally, he was a raving lunatic when it came to his column; He mostly had the blessings of his sponsors of his radio broadcasters, but not his employers. Everyone liked the expanse of exposure and advertising Winchell provided, but there were no controls, no discipline, no education and no restraints on Walter Winchell. He was a master and manipulator of his world, gossip.
His failure to recognize and abide by limits, to observe times were achanging, and to be introspective brought failure. Josephine Baker entertained in New York City and dined at the Stork Club, owned by a good Oklahoma friend of Winchell. The unstated policy at the Club was no riffraff and no minorities; the place was for white snobs only. In the early 1950s Winchell was in the restaurant when Baker and her guests were served drinks but left for a movie premiere. Baker later was not served the dinner she ordered. Everyone wondered what Winchell thought. He did not explain the facts as he knew them and next say he was awaiting the results of the Civil Rights investigation. Instead, Winchell treated the incident like it was part of his column, an item of gossip where he did not have to take responsibility for missing or added facts. He tried to protect the Oklahoma friend and the Stork Club, although he disagreed with the policy. As the sides hardened, Winchell attacked Baker for several years. It is wrong to say Winchell was a racist, but it is right to say he was an idiot bordering on imbecility.
Winchell was anti-Communist, and once again he got caught up on the extremes of Washington D.C. and a national issue. Winchell backed Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn (whom he introduced to the Senator). The grand finale which Winchell did not perceive coming or realized while it happened on television, was followed by Winchell trying to protect McCarthy and slamming organizations and individuals as communist-oriented, leaning left and pink. In the 1960s Winchell still called John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy communists.
Would anyone ever believe Walter Winchell could be so uneducated, ignorant and thick? He never understood, When the horse is dead, get off. He had to opportunity (like Ed Sullivan) to make the transition to Television, but did not fully understand the medium. [This thinking came from a guy who was in vaudeville for a dozen years and never forgot stage work.] Apparently, his life was so perfect – none of it was – that he was incapable of change. A New York celebrity dined with Winchell at the Stork Club, and opined in his diary, “Winchell was a bore, a vanity of all vanities.”(p. 257) Late in life he got a press pass and observed the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention street riots. Like most reporters Winchell did not and could not know the full story, but he chose anyway.
The strength of this biography tells the life and times of the man, how he fit in and his methods of surviving. The surprising fact is that Winchell did not change. In the end he sought television exposure, a further failure of business opportunities accompanying bad health and a disintegrating family. The times of Walter Winchell are not as complete as they can be because primary sources are likely not yet opened or available.
If the biography has problems they are absence by inference. Winchell’s shortcomings. It is a New York City behavior revisited on the American people every week now. He was usually nonsensical and unmeritorious on the attack, always blundering through trivia; the points made were off-point, scattered and offensive. That was Winchell’s doing in his column and on the radio. And now Americans have to hear that sort of tripe, petty, crybaby stuff everyday.
Winchell was not a celebrity. He received no respect and no love during his lifetime and afterward. He did not deserve it. Winchell preyed upon people’s fears until the last decades of life when opponents began beating Winchell up with their words. Winchell was notorious, an outlaw to entertainment and to society, one of the sorts of figures today who get arrested before a concert tour as part of a publicity campaign.
A final point: The Burt Lancaster movie, Sweet Smell of Success, (1957) was representative of Winchell’s career and life. Winchell was the target. It is an ugly, dark movie and a classic. But His Girl Friday is also about Winchell. Gary Grant, editor, plays Winchell. The character and the target share a first name, Walter.