June 1, 2004 - May 25, 2004
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
The Day After the Day
FORGERS' DAY WEEKEND
Welcome to the
wonderful world of ADDS
. There was so much to keep everyone busy over
the long holiday weekend that no one remembered to post anything in
this space. I suppose we owe an accounting.
Who could have known that in the space of a few days we'd be reliving
all of World War II? The first hint was Krauthammer's review of the new
in Washington, DC. He didn't like it much. After
reminding us of the great conflict's "transcendence of geography
-- and class and ethnicity," he invokes the image of "the now-cliched
platoon of the Polish millworker from Chicago, the Jewish kid from
Brooklyn, the Appalachian woodsman and the Iowa farm boy bonding and
fighting and dying for each other as a band of brothers." Then he turns
to the memorial and its...
...gigantic soulless pillars, each
and meaninglessly representing a state or territory, that define this
memorial. What in God's name were they thinking? Did not one commission
that passed on this project ask: "Why states?"
But that is just the beginning of
the banality. The monument is strewn with quotations inscribed in
stone, meant to inspire. You descend into the parenthesis from street
level and the first large stone panel on your right reads: "Women who
stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation, not as women . . .
this was a people's war, and everyone was in it."
"Stepped up"? "Everyone was in it"?
Is this the best we can do? Are we not embarrassed to put such
pedestrian prose by the biblical cadences of the Gettysburg Address and
the second inaugural speech carved in stone at the Lincoln Memorial
just a few hundred yards down the Reflecting Pool?
What Charles forgot is that for most Americans, World War II
happened in the movies. All one had to do was catch a few hours of the
many runnings of "The Longest Day" to realize that everyone was
and this is just D-Day we're talking about. In the parts viewed by our
little band of brothers, we saw John Wayne (of course), Henry
Robert Mitchum, Robert Wagner, Eddy Albert, Stuart Whitman, Sean
Connery, Red Buttons, Richard Burton, Paul Anka, Kenneth More, Richard
Beymer, Ray Danton, Fabian, Jeffrey Hunter, Peter Lawford, Roddy
McDowell, Sal Mineo, Edmund O'Brien, Robert Ryan, George Segal, Rod
Steiger, Richard Todd, and Tom Tryon. In the parts we missed because we
had to run out and get hot dogs and hamburgers like everyone else, we
almost certainly would have added more to the list -- Gary Cooper
flanking the Atlantic Wall with his Kentucky long rifle, Humphrey
Bogart steering his war-weary tank crew across the sands of Omaha
Beach, and Erroll Flynn arriving in the nick of time at Sword Beach in
his dive bomber.
And all that was just one movie. If you answered the call of
duty over the rest of the weekend, you would also have witnessed "Above
and Beyond" with Robert Taylor piloting the Enola Gay, "Action in the
North Atlantic" with Humphrey Bogart leading a great merchant marine
convoy to Britain, "Twelve O'Clock High" with Gregory Peck agonizing
over the casualties of the Eighth Air Force, "In Harm's Way" with John
Wayne leading the naval effort in the Pacific, "To Hell and Back" with
Audie Murphy playing himself, "Torpedo Run" with Glenn Ford commanding
a submarine in the Pacific, "Run Silent, Run Deep" with Clark Gable
commanding another submarine in the Pacific, "Stalag 17" with William
Holden cutting up rough in a German POW camp, "36 Hours" with James
Garner as a POW trying to fool Rod Taylor into believing the invasion
wouldn't be at Normandy, "Von Ryan's Express" with Frank
Sinatra leading a daring POW escape in Germany, "Patton" with
George C. Scott chewing up the French scenery something awful, "The
Devil's Brigade" with William Holden assembling a deadly commando unit,
and "The Dirty Dozen" with Lee Marvin assembling an even deadlier
And if combat fatigue hadn't set in by then, you could have
sat through a double feature of "A Bridge Too Far" and "The Great
Escape," both featuring enormous casts. This means that the long list
above has to be augmented with Dirk Bogarde, James Caan,
Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Elliott Gould, Gene Hackman,
Anthony Hopkins, Hardy Kruger, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O'Neal, Robert
Redford, Maximillian Schell,.James Garner, Steve McQueen, Donald
Pleasence, James Coburn, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, and
Even the TV production companies were trying to serve. The mysteriously
long-running show "JAG" time-travelled its whole cast back to Iwo Jima
to participate in that epochal struggle, while A&E mounted the most
physically demanding WWII movie in recent history, depicting
Eisenhower's planning of the D-Day invasion despite the contributions
of Montgomery, Patton, and de Gaulle. Those who tried to light up a
smoke every time Tom Selleck fired up a Camel unfiltered are probably
on a respirator by now. (It was actually an impressive production and,
oddly, about the only time we can remember anyone playing "Ike" in more
than a cameo role.)
All in all, we think Krauthammer is wrong to carp at the statement
"everyone was in it." It's the truth. And all this celluloid represents
a huge ongoing investment in the nation's World War II memorial. It's
one thing to quibble about a few pillars that are insufficient to their
task; it's another to consider the tremendous fleets of planes and
ships and tanks and guns that have been deployed to make sure that
Americans never forget the heroism of the Greatest Generation. In this
context, it seems a little dense of Mr. Krauthammer to display such
bewilderment about the centerpiece of the new memorial in DC:
And then, alas, the ultimate banality.
The centerpiece of the monument is a low curved wall, closing the top
of the parenthesis, as it were, straddling the central axis of the Mall
and adorned with 4,000 gold stars.
The gold star, of course, was given
to those who had lost a son in the war. Why 4,000 stars? To represent
the more than 400,000 American dead: each star represents a hundred.
Why a hundred? Did they die in
units of a hundred? Did they fight as centurions? The number is
entirely arbitrary, a way to get the stars to fit the wall.
Of course, he may have been put off the scent by the seeming
imitation of the Vietnam Memorial. A wall enumerating casualties. Hmmm.
Derivative perhaps. But the stars are an interesting touch. Do they not
remind us of the ongoing cinematic tribute to the fallen, all the
starpower that Hollywood can muster pressed into service in the name of
memory? It may well be that 4,000 stars have donned the uniform for
this task. No doubt, each of them has stood in for hundreds, thousands
of the real men and women who perished in the most sweeping conflict of
all time. And it's not trivial or demeaning to point out that this is a
tribute which continues and will continue for many years to come.
Tonight, for example, the excellent miniseries "Band of Brothers"
resumes on the History Channel, and a new documentary promises us the
truth about "The Lost Tanks of D-Day." If the weekend exhausted you,
suck it up and get moving, soldier. This particular assignment is never
done, and D-Day is less than a week away once more.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Madonna colorless? This from Orla Healy of the New York Post
Just over a decade ago, when the sassy
provocateur created a firestorm by displaying her blond ambition in a
pointy cone bra, it would have been insane to suggest she would mellow
to the point of wearing buttoned-up army fatigues onstage.
But, you see, that was before Madonna discovered -- like Barbra
Streisand, Sharon Stone, Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange,
and Whoopi Goldberg -- that she was really this political scientist who
needs to educate her public about wars and bushes and such. That's why
her new "Re-Invention Tour" isn't so much a concert as a choreographed
seminar on global affairs:
Instead of a sexy, flashy, fun-filled
show, concertgoers Monday night got an endless dose of political and
She sat in an electric chair and dances
and sang against a backdrop of war images, President Bush and Saddam
Hussein. The sound of detonating bombs punctuated the song "American
Onstage, dancers dressed like soldiers
did push-ups and calisthenics as helicopters swept in and infernos
blazed on the video screens behind them.
And then she sang John Lennon's
"Imagine," accompanied by a video of sick and injured children from
around the world.
There was religion, too — plenty of it.
Madonna's passion for fashion has clearly been usurped by her fetish
for Kabbalah, as evidencd by the flashes of untranslated Hebrew text
displayed in the background of her performance, which hits Madison
Square Garden on June 16.
In a review in yesterday's Los Angeles
Times, critic Robert Hillburn begged Madonna to "bring back the sex. Or
at least something with flesh and blood, please."
We don't like to indulge in the game of 'I told you so' too often,
but we saw this coming a long way back. Madonna has run out of things
anybody care anymore? Haven't we seen everything this diva
has to show? And she hasn't just shown it—she's squeezed
it, spread it, inflated it with silicon, masturbated with it on stage,
given it away free to every straight Hispanic male in Newyork
City, and then sung about it in some mediocre but over-produced video
that every kid over the age of twelve has seen a hundred times. So now
she has a baby and she's in love with
motherhood. Who gives a flying
Shuteye Nation 2000
How does the old saying go? Politics is
the last refuge of a whore? Something like that anyway.
. Here's something
than Madonna in fatigues.
. One thing we forgot
to mention in our entry about Teddy Kennedy was his incredibly close
friendship with the other senator from Massachusetts. So we're
mentioning it now.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
The Wages of Liberalism
Serving your country party takes a toll
hard to know how to respond to Ted Kennedy. The temptation is to laugh
bitterly until the bad taste in your mouth makes you feel a little sick
at your stomach. On the other hand, there's clearly still something
dangerous about a man who evokes such fawning
from the objective minions of the media. And since --
hard as it is to believe -- he is
a United States Senator, his penchant for blubbering treason
while American troops are in the field is concerning. Yet any attempt
to analyze his public pronouncements results in dizziness of the kind
you experience when your foot tries to land on a step that isn't there.
It's impossible to come to grips with a rationale, a philosophy, or a
standard of basic decency that just doesn't exist. Teddy says what he
says. Who can know what he means by it? Why bother? The moralist who
seeks to shame a billygoat is only making a fool of himself. Gigantic
as he has become, there isn't much to
Ted Kennedy. Appetites. Bluster. Vindictiveness. A few million
acquiescent sheep in his home state. And the eternal blind eye of the
mainstream media. Fulminating is pointless, which means that
laughter is probably the best of a poor lot of responses. Herewith our
entry from Shuteye Nation 2000, where all the names have been changed
in order to fool no one.
. U.S. Senator from Machusetts
and, formerly, the stupidest member of Ameria's most famous political
family. Like everybody else in the
family, he thought he was supposed to be Presdent of the United State,
but he postponed doing it for awhile because he didn't want to get shot
while he was still young enough to drink and have sex
with anything in a skirt. By the time he decided to go ahead and be
the rules had changed and it wasn't enough to just be a
also had to get the mass media's
permission to run by convincing them you had a vision or something.
Teddy had was double vision, which didn't qualify at the time, and so
went back to drinking and screwing until he weighed four hundred pounds
and girls started getting killed having sex with him... unless that was
earlier in his career. Anyway, somebody made him stop drinking and
and he turned over a new leaf by getting married and losing five
Eventually he got so dignified that he didn't have a lot to say about
sex scandal and the perjury
and the rest of it. But it's probably safe to assume he was more
of the Presdent's private life
than some of his senate colleagues.
*Originally, the 'schwartzen,' was silent, but it's gotten consistently
louder over the years, until by now it's practically deafening.
Teddy still likes to go swimming,
though. What a rack!