Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Death Of American Civilization

Cartoon by Sean Delanos on page 12 of today's New York Post and on its website.
The first man to see an illusion by which men have flourished for decades surely stands in a lonely place.
---Gary Zukav
The wind is cold;
through the torn paperscreen
the moon of February.
Empty-hearted in society,
How deeply moved I am
By the snipe calling
In the evening marsh.
Fortune calls Rupert Murdoch the second most powerful person in the world of business. He owns the New York Post, the London Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Fox TV network, he owns MySpace---oh heck, check Wikipedia for the rest of it. He may be the 109th richest person in the world...but who knows these days?
The chimp referenced in the cartoon was a personal pet of someone in Stamford, Connecticut, whose friend came to call, and was torn up by the animal and almost killed. Police were called, came, and shot it to death. The chimp, or anyone involved, had nothing to do with any kind of stimulus package. Maybe it had implanted brain cathodes? Otherwise, whatever stimulus moved it to attack the friend remains a mystery.
So what stimulus package is Murdoch referring to? And who would offer it to Congress, and who signed it into law also yesterday? Who would find the cartoon funny? To what underbelly of this society is Murdoch trying to sell his papers? His political views? And is a thing thing like this still even in the realm of politics? Is the obvious reference so horrible in this 21st century as to constitute some new crime about which we need to invent laws? Or is it a crime as old as time?
When I went to school I learned plenty about America the Beautiful. And I learned about "mistakes" we made. I learned about slavery, and I learned about the great accomplishments and contributions to our nation those people made almost immediately upon emancipation. I learned those things 60 years ago.
Is the measurement of success of our public education to show steady advancement? Or is it a constant catchup with a continuous decline of this culture's mentality? Are there more powerful educational influences out there than the teacher of American history to tell kids what we're all about? At one time those influences were aligned with education. They appear to be no longer.
A couple of years ago, I encountered a student in a school for physically challenged young people who nevertheless seemed to have the potential to achieve a driver's license. I went to the Motor Vehicle Bureau and got him a booklet of the laws of this state and instructions of what to do to learn to drive a car. I told him to take the book home and have his dad go over it with him. He came back the next day and said his father had thrown it away. The man had said, "No government is going to tell me what to do!"
That dad may find Rupert's cartoon funny. I say, if this mentality rules the day, we're finished.


Quinty said...

To think the New York Post, founded by Alexander Hamilton, had Max Lerner, Marquis Childs, Eleanor Roosevelt, Richard Watts Jr., and Langston Hughes writing its columns back in the fifties. It was a "liberal" paper back then, and we bought a copy, when I was a kid, every day. Along with the daily Times. The Post came out in the evening and the Times came out in the morning.

There some rough characters in New York City, brutal people who hate illegal immigrants, fruits, ivy leaguers.... oh, you know, the whole range.... And the hardboiled flock to the Republican Party nowadays: all the nativists, racists, militarists, laissez faire capitalists, gun nuts, jingoists, Israel firsters, homophobes, Islamophobes, rightwing Christo fascists: all those hung up on one fantasy, hatred, fear, ignorant worldview, or fierce zealotry which reflects more back on themselves than on the reality surrounding them. Though they do indeed help make the world a dangerous place.

mowrey said...

You're right, Richard, we're finished. Plus, it's Stan Kenton's birthday, who would be, let's see, 97 yrs old today. He was a good man as good men go.

jazzolog said...

Yes, into the '60s the New York Post was the most liberal "regular" newspaper in the City. Outside town NewsDay on the Island began to flourish...and remains interesting. I guess the sellout to Murdoch was strictly ol' capitalism at work: follow the money.

This is the civil war we have now---and certainly have had for at least a hundred years, only the lines seem more clearly drawn now than in my lifetime. Clearly Republicans and conservatives are not giving up the line of money to the bankers. The idea must be that their judgment should prevail over any notions that fixing up inner city buildings and using them for retraining and rehabilitation would help us. that's just the economic idea, without going into racism, paranoia and sheer selfishness.

Yes, Kenton's birthday today and thank you Steve for reminding me. Politically he'd probably have votes McCain/Palin, and aspects of his social outlook weren't clear. I suppose we tend to associate him with the West Coast, but he was from Wichita...and displayed lifelong value conflicts.

But there's a lot of music available now from airchecks and such...and amazingly for this band some of them are better than anything Kenton did in the studios. His ear for how the band recordings should sound was pretty good until the '50s. Then he preferred they should sound as if they were in a huge empty oil drum. I refer you to the New Concepts album from '52. Here was just about the greatest band he ever had, but he insisted on this maddening echo chamber effect. Even airchecks from the period have it, and so did a TV series he did one summer.

When stereo came in he resisted it, and clumped the band in the middle. He wanted the impact to be that brute clobber force which he associated with a blow to the forehead. I'm not sure he ever accepted that the true stereo sound of the band produces the buzzsaw effect one experienced in person and that he actually was looking for. The recent releases recorded in person, often on the sly by admiring engineer types, are more and more available now and simply sensational.

Utah Savage said...

Every one forgets the Native Americans in our nation's little list of horrors on the way toward spreading god and civilization and freedom westward. Ode to Manifest Destiny is usually what we learn in school as a stand in for history.

I thought the cartoon was painfully obvious, offensive, and unfunny. I think it's dangerous as well. I'd go so far as to call it hate speech. I'd hold Rupert Murdock and the editorial staff at the Post and the cartoonist legally, criminally responsible for spreading hate speech. I hope there is a boycott of the paper, and their advertisers.

jazzolog said...

The NAACP agrees with you Utah, and over the weekend urged the firing of NY Post editor-in-chief Col Allan. Strange name "Col:" short for Collin or something? Anyway, he's the guy who gave The Apology Of The Week, implying people who took offense are reading too much into it...or else are inconsequential agitators. It's one of those, "I'm so sorry you misunderstood me completely (you jerk)."

Of course I still regret the NAACP got so upset about the characterization of Uncle Remus in Disney's Song Of The South during a rerelease of the late '40s film back in the '60s. Disney removed the film from circulation, and no one's seen it since. Copies were made in Japan, and a friend of mine found a couple in Canada and smuggled them in. I got to see it recently and the animation remains absolutely breathtaking.