Category: History Lessons

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #075: Fake History, Real Heroes

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #075: Fake History, Real Heroes

Last Saturday saw the fourth annual Women’s Rights Day with demonstrations all over the nation, many in very inclement weather. This year’s march was fueled in part by the calendar: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, expanding the ability to vote to those without that icky Y chromosome.

I have slightly mixed feeling about that. Every egalitarian victory should be celebrated, but, damn, why should we get all enthused over 144 years of denying half of our population the right to participate in our vaunted democracy? Whereas I can hold a grudge until it screams, we should be educating citizens current and future to all the limitations we have placed on women, including those many that have not been sliced from our massive national discrimination pie.

However, the National Archives celebrates that victory by layering it with a purposely misleading patina of truthiness. They maliciously chose to alter it, and in complete contradiction to their mission, they celebrated women’s suffrage under a veil of lies. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #075: Fake History, Real Heroes”

Brainiac On Banjo #070: When In Space, Dress For Success!

Brainiac On Banjo #070: When In Space, Dress For Success!

Before I start, I want to point out that I know today is Monday and it’s time for “Brainiac On Banjo,” where I wax on and on about comics and pop culture. I realize it is not Thursday, where, in “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind,” I do my seditious and sometimes salacious political rants. So, given today’s location, I’m going to do something I rarely do in “Weird Scenes.” I am going to let Donald Trump off the hook.

For a week now, the wires and tubes have been buzzing about the new, official costume of the new, official U.S. Space Force. Allegedly our sixth branch of the armed forces, it’s merely a part of the U.S. Air Force, the way the Air Force – then called the Air Corps – used to be part of the U.S. Army. But don’t bother Mr. Trump with that. Right now, he’s busy.

Yes, I know that some people call them uniforms but my pal, writer, former DC Comics editor and New Jersey bon vivant Jack C. Harris called ‘em costumes when he was in the Air Force, and so, I’ve absconded with it. If that pisses you off, well, no disrespect is meant… to you. Unless your last name is Westmoreland or Schwarzkopf. Damn, I am getting political. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #070: When In Space, Dress For Success!”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #074: Let’s Work Together?

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #074: Let’s Work Together?

Together we’ll stand / Divided we’ll fall / Come on now, people / Let’s get on the ball / And work together / Come on, come on / Let’s work together / Now, now people / Because together we will stand / Every boy, girl, woman and man – Wilbert Harrison, “Future Blues”

As I was watching the seven House managers march across the Capitol Building to deliver the impeachment papers to the Senate, I was wondering how many people felt this was just the latest parade before End Times. Not the biblical End Times where Putin and Netanyahu paint “666” on Trump’s forehead, but an indication of America, as we know it, coming to an end.

The best way, in my opinion (shared by several others) to prevent America’s End Time is to be rid of the aforementioned Great Evil, Mr. Trump – if not in the highly unlikely event of a guilty verdict in the impeachment trial that begins Tuesday, then at the polls this November. That will be tough as well, because already several hundred thousand likely Democratic voters already have been tossed off the rolls. The Republicans firmly believe they can do what the Russians can do, but without all those tubes and wires. Maybe so. Probably so, unless, as Wilbert Harrison wrote decades ago, we work together to make our stand against the greatest evil America has ever faced on its own shores. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #074: Let’s Work Together?”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #073: Holiday In Tehran

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #073: Holiday In Tehran

It’s time to taste what you most fear / Right Guard will not help you here / Brace yourself, my dear / Brace yourself, my dear – Holiday In Cambodia by the Dead Kennedys, 1980.

It was great fun watching Donald Trump and his Stooges run their victory lap yesterday. Let me paraphrase their comments: “Iran blinked.” Trump may very well be as stupid as his dangerous, but even I have a hard time believing the Great Orange Turd wasn’t knowingly lying through his teeth.

After Iran’s massive missile attacks that served as warning shots, followed by statements from Iranian leaders blatantly saying their response was just that, Trump says Iran blinked. If he really believes that, then he will continue to keep in jeopardy the lives of over 100,000 American troops – as well as that of his alleged best-bud Benji Netanyahu. Maybe Trump thinks that, since the Jews are the ones responsible for his impeachment (source: statement made January 6 by Delaware Republican Party official Nelly Jordan), he can get back to his family’s legacy of hating the Hebes so, hey, screw Benji.

Iran bombed the shit out of two of our bases in Iraq Tuesday night. They were meticulous in not killing Americans, Iranians, or (I take it) Iraqis. Then they said, and again I paraphrase, this town isn’t big enough for the two of us, and if we don’t get out or if we assassinate any more Iranian leaders, they will move their bombsites a little bit to the right and blow our troops to kingdom come. That is the textbook definition of a warning shot. Stop listening to the babblings of Trump’s lying toadies: the absolute truth is that, Wednesday night, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made Donald Trump dance in a hail of missile fire. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #073: Holiday In Tehran”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #072: Words of Wisdom, Words of Strife

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #072: Words of Wisdom, Words of Strife

“Words are trouble, words are subtle / Words of anger, words of hate / Words over here, words out there / In the air and everywhere / Words of wisdom, words of strife / Words that write the book I like.” – Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz and Steven Stanley, Wordy Rappinghood

“Gestapo? You asshole, I’m the mailman!” – Lenny Bruce

Lenny Bruce

Ayn Rand, Dick Gregory, and Pol Pot walk into a bar…

Yeah, I know. Too soon. But, damn, what ever happened to our sense of humor? It seems the more we care about something, the less perspective we have about the subject. Humor is key to establishing and expanding one’s perspective.

Irwin Corey

Laughter opens doors. Satire opens minds. Al Capone did not say “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone,” but he could have. In fact, this observation was given to us by Professor Irwin Corey, a Broadway actor, an incisive comedian, a far-left activist, and a hero of mine. And the good professor certainly made Capone’s point for him – we take this misattributed quote as an axiom. It makes the point succinctly, and it gets that point across the plate.

We are so concerned about not hurting somebody’s feelings that we forget that some feelings deserve to be hurt. That’s part of bringing about change. You don’t have to take malicious pride in doing so if you don’t want to, but you can get much farther with a funny word than by breeding mopery. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #072: Words of Wisdom, Words of Strife”

Brainiac On Banjo #067: The Winter of the Year

Brainiac On Banjo #067: The Winter of the Year

Observations at year’s-end. This will be a Trump-free list… unless you count sub-text.

• • • • •

The final two weeks of the year used to be the most boring weeks of each year… and they still are. It’s a pain in the ass to go to the supermarket, let alone buy anything at any other sort of store. Traffic sucks, and often the weather does too (not this year over in my neck of the woods, but your mileage may vary on that).

Whatever broadcast television is out there that I enjoy is not out there at year’s-end. However, there’s so much stuff on my TiVo and through streaming services that this is no longer a big deal. Actually, that’s kind of good news: people recommend streaming stuff to me all the time, and some arouse my curiosity. Others make me somnambulistic.

• • • • •

Speaking of television, I had a bit of a Victor Buono film-fest here a couple months ago, and I had a wonderful time. Evil was never so gentle; wit was rarely so sharp. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #067: The Winter of the Year”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #071: Roman Polanski’s Bad Luck

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #071: Roman Polanski’s Bad Luck

It’s not like I’ve been trying, but this is as close I’ve ever come to feeling sorry for Roman Polanski.

Oh, sure, he had a tough life. He spent part of his youth in a Nazi concentration camp. His wife had been brutally murdered. That sucks, but it does not justify his drugging and fucking a 13-year-old girl in 1977. To be fair, he did not try to establish a causal link between that and his drugging and fucking a 13-year-old girl, but that doesn’t justify his later behavior in the least.

Polanski was charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, and committing a lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14. He made a plea bargain with the state of California where they would accept a guilty plea to engaging in one count of unlawful sexual conduct and to that one count alone. Under that agreement and the probation report, he expected to get off without being sent to prison. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #071: Roman Polanski’s Bad Luck”

Brainiac On Banjo #065: Got A Light?

Brainiac On Banjo #065: Got A Light?

Time once again to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear – well, my thrilling days of yesteryear. You know I like to share.

A half-century ago there was a place where all the hippies met. Well, there were lots of such places: the just-referenced South Street in Philadelphia, St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan, the Haight in San Francisco, and the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago, among many others. Gentrification runs deep, and into the hippies’ lives it crept like a summbych. We’ll catch up to present-day “reality” by the end of this piece.

The heart of Lincoln Park hippiedom was the intersection of Fullerton, Halsted and Lincoln streets. Festive little places like head shop Head Imports, our community restaurant the Feed Store, the Army-Navy store which sold the finest hippie clothes at affordable prices – as well as gas masks, which came in handy from time to time. The underground paper where I planted my roots, the Chicago Seed, moved to the neighborhood after being Nazi-bait across the street from the Moody Bible Institute, the place where Bettie Page went to school. The neighborhood grew into a formidable Weed of Destruction and I remain a very proud Seedling. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #065: Got A Light?”

Weird Scenes Inside The Good Mind 068: None Dare Call It Reason

Weird Scenes Inside The Good Mind 068: None Dare Call It Reason

Here’s a sequence of letters I never thought would flow from my fingertips: I miss the Republican Party.

Two-party systems suck. We do not live in a binary world. There are no “both sides of the issue,” there is a myriad of sides. There is a right and there is a wrong, but only by comparison. In other words, Ayn Rand was a purveyor of sociological science fantasy.

Of course, there is something worse than a two-party system. When one of those parties is nothing to write home about and the other one is brain dead (a popular term this week), and the two parties we’re stuck with rigged the system so that there can not be any more parties, what we are left with is America 2019.

It wasn’t always like this. There was a time, 111 years ago, when the Republicans were, by and large, the progressives in Washington. This ended when Teddy Roosevelt decided not to run for reelection in 1908. His chosen successor, William H. Taft, was the dude who pulled the party of Lincoln to the right. Appalled by this, Teddy, who did not speak quietly, challenged Taft in 1912. By then, Taft and his cronies had instituted a massive patronage system that prevented any outlier from having a chance. In his typical fashion, TR started his own party. A “third” party. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Good Mind 068: None Dare Call It Reason”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #057: Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #057: Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be

“These are the times that try men’s souls / In the course of our nation’s history the people of Boston have rallied bravely whenever the rights of men have been threatened / Today, a new crisis has arisen” – M.T.A., written by Bess Hawes and Jacqueline Steine.

Spats. Ethyl gas. Municipal steam baths. Mom’s Eats. Necco Wafers. Interurban trains. Screaming Yellow Zonkers. Montgomery Wards. Buggy whips. Magazines and newspapers. Yeah, I’m yelling at the clouds again.

Wait a minute. Magazines and newspapers? They’re still around. Sorta. Kinda. Almost. They’re coughing up blood, but they’re still around… if you know where to look. And while you’re doing that, say hello to Dr. Livingstone for me, will you? Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #057: Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be”