Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Imagining Cluckingham Palace

photograph: John Bonzo
According to a recent Times obit Bo Pilgrim who started Pilgrim’s Pride inhabited  “Chateau de Pilgrim, a French baroque mansion…Local residents referred to…as  Cluckingham Palace,” located in Pittsburg, not Pennsylvania, but Texas ("Bo Pilgrim, Founder of Pilgram's Pride Poultry Products, Dies at 89"NYT, 7/24/17). All kinds of larger than life personalities have occupied unusual homes. For instance, Presley lived in Graceland and Prince in Paisley Park. During the Kennedy Years you were always hearing about Hyannis Port, though the Kennedy White House was frequently referred to as Camelot. But it’s interesting to speculate on the décor of a place named Cluckingham Palace. Would  Chicken Little be part of the wall treatment and would chicken wings be served as appetizers? What were meals like at the Pilgrim residence? Were steaks, chops and even meatloaf served? One of Mr. Pilgrim’s greatest innovations according to the Times obit was “the boneless whole chicken,” though it would be an advertising campaign using his own likeness in a Pilgrim’s hat that would ultimately be the source of his notoreity. The Times obit didn’t mention Frank Perdue, but you can’t but wonder if these two giants of the poultry business were friends or just rivals and what about The Colonel (to whom Bo was apparently a supplier)? Even though Pilgrim spent most of his adult life around chicken, he apparently had a deep faith in God. And it seems unlikely he would ever have you the dismissive expression, “it’s for the birds.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Pornosophy: Das Kapital and Orgasm

A recent Times Sunday Review piece asserts that women had more orgasms under socialism ("Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism,"NYT, 8/12/17) The piece points to important research that was done in Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Significantly it doesn’t even mention the notorious refractory period and the ideologies that affect the lengthening time between male orgasms in both capitalist and Marxist economies. “A comparative study of East and West Germans conducted after reunification in l990 found that Eastern woman had twice as many orgasms as Western women,” comments Kristen R. Ghodsee, the writer of the piece. “In contrast, postwar West German women had stayed home and benefited from all the labor-saving devices produced by the roaring capitalist economy. But they had less sex, and less satisfying sex, than women who had to line up for toilet paper.” Is Colonel Rosa Klebb, who appears in the James Bond film From Russia With Love (l963), a good example of the kind of women’s liberation and role reversal that occurred under the influence of Russian Communism? The actress who played Klebb was Lotte Lenya, the wife of Kurt Weill. Weill had collaborated with Bertolt Brecht, founder of one of East Germany’s proudest cultural institutions, The Berliner Ensemble. In the movie, there’s an iconic scene where Klebb goes after Bond with a poisonous spike that emerges from the toe of her otherwise grandmotherly shoe. The phallic symbolism is unmistakable. Russian women would now have their pleasure even if it was at the expense of the male. It's a little like the female Praying Mantis who bites off her lover’s head during sex.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Fall of the House of Usher

Usher (photo: George Biard, derivative work Lampel)
The recent lawsuits against Usher by women who claim they’d contracted herpes from him ("Usher sued by fans who say he exposed them to herpes without warning," Los Angeles Times, 8/7/17) and the pushback on the accusations from the singer's camp ("Usher Reportedly Doesn't Have Herpes, Plans to Take Legal Actions Against Accusers,"Vibe, 8/8/17) bring back the myth of Herpes and Arestes and The Fall of the House of Usher (also the title of a story later employed by Edgar Allen Poe) as laid out in Escalus’s trilogy, The Aresteia. As you may recall during the course of the play the local seer prophecies doom that results from a tragic flaw—otherwise known as hamartia. The flaw comes down to hubris or excessive pride. It’s hubris that causes big time stars to think that they will be immune to the forces that affect lesser men. On the other hand rock stars like kings face greater temptations since their company is so much in demand, particularly from irresistible and “comely” fans--though the case of Nushawn Williams a totally unknown personality who suffered from a similar flaw indicates that hubris is an equal opportunity employer ("Jamestown and the story of 'Nushawn's Girls,'"The Washington Post, 6/1/99). The Aresteia begins on a note of great hope with promoters hanging around the entrance to the open air theaters, but ends in the last play when Herpes and Arestes find themselves at loggerheads in the presence of human volition, or what a later playwright G.B. Show termed “The Life Force.” As darkness engulfs the stage we realize that life is not a rehearsal.

Friday, August 18, 2017

De Facto, De Jure or...?

Shlomo Sand is the author of The Invention of the Jewish People and The Invention of the Land of Israel. Though his early years were apparently spent in Israel, he eventually came to oppose Zionism, and in particular the treatment of Palestinians. In his review of Sand’s latest book Twilight of History, Richard J. Evans makes the following comment: “Sand does not think that the Jews have a historical right to occupy the land of Israel; like other nations, it has in effect been ‘invented’ by nationalists (in this case Zionists) in modern times and then provided with pseudo-historical lineage.” The question of provenance applies to art as well as nation states. Kwame Anthiony Appiah for instance has written about the dubiety of certain claims for the return of art to its so-called source ("Whose Culture Is It?," The New York Review of Books, 2/9/06) Almost every nation has been created by conquest. What creates legitimacy? The Indians predated the colonial settlers and there have been numerous claims by tribes which if sanctioned would pull the carpet out from existing political entities and communities. The answer is not simple, but plainly the Israelis would not be alone in claiming sovereignty for their country on a de facto basis. Whether one does or does not accept biblical justifications is besides the point. Israel is now 69 years old. Modern Russia is l00. Britain almost l000, if we look at l066 and the ascension of William the Conquer as a significant date. But when does a country or civilization begin or end and who ultimately has the authority to countenance its existence? 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Final Solution: The Trumpenproletariat

Stalin Monument in Prague, destroyed in l962 (photo: HZ)
For Trump hath murdered conversation. That’s the problem. You can’t discuss monuments anymore. If you talk about the fact that the monument question is enormously complex, you run the risk of being associated with the Trumpenproletariat. You’ve seen the footage of crowds tearing down the statues of Stalin, Lenin, Hitler and Mussolini.  Like these, many Confederate monuments were put up in Jim Crow times with an admonitory intent. But what about the danger of white washing history? And who was worse Lee or Sherman, considering Sherman's views towards Native Americans? Remember Santayana’s all too often quoted, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And what about monuments which exist on public lands that occupy more than l00,000 acres ("What is the Antiquities Act and Why Does President Trump Want to Change It" NYT, 4/26/17) Trump was against all of those. What if there were a monument to Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson, Washington or Jefferson (the four examples Trump cited) on those lands? Would Trump order them to be taken down?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Final Solution: Kim Jong-un Salons

Know the chain of French hair salons, Jean-Claude Biguine?  Why not start a whole line of boutiques called simply Kim Jong-un which would specialize in--you guessed it--a complete KJu makeover. You would get the little curl in front and shaved sides. Your face would be pudged up with botox. You'd be attired in the DPRK style Mao jacket and don’t forget those spiffy winter coats with their fur collars. No KJu makeover would be complete without a little midriff bulge and that's supplied by the same plastic surgical wizardry and that has resulted in so many successful breast and penile enhancements and vaginoplasties—now produced with the kind of economy of scale that allows your local KJu to pass the savings on to you. No KJu session would be complete without a motivational speaker and those who get a makeover will walk out talking as well as looking like the Supreme Leader. Recently a London jogger crashed into a pedestrian causing her to fall in the way of an oncoming bus ("Police hunt man who knocked woman in front of London bus,"CNN, 8/8/17) The jogger then returned from his run and seeing his victim refused once again to stop. Just the kind of person Kim Jong-un Salons will be looking for. Imagine not just posters but Kim Jong-un clones everywhere you go. That’s what will occur when KJu LLP gets off the ground.