Posts Tagged ‘Lyndon Johnson’

Letter From New York 06 01 2016 Random Thoughts from the Vineyard…

June 2, 2016

It is Wednesday evening, the 1st of June and it has been a lovely day on the Vineyard.  I woke to a brilliant sun, skiffing off the water in the harbor, glinting up into my room.   

It was a quiet day at Edgartown Books.  I came home relatively early and am sitting down to write a letter while the sun slips away, beneath clouds that are rolling in from the ocean, promising a cooler and less brilliant day tomorrow.

Before his death, my father was the Minneapolis Manager for Taystee Bread and all of his children were taught to straighten up the loaves of our bread in any market we went into.  I am feeling that way about the books in the shop.  If I see something out of alignment, I get itchy to go fix it, make it neat.

Before leaving the house today, I checked the news online.

Documents from Trump University and statements from its former employees  made the “university” sound more a scam than an educational opportunity.  One manager called it a “fraudulent scheme.”  Ouch.  The principle seemed to be sell, not educate.

But, it must be noted, the program did have its supporters.

If elected, Trump could become the first President elect to have to testify in a fraud trial against himself.

Hillary Clinton seized the day and the news, using the Trump University documents as a reason to call Trump a fraud.  I am sure he will call her a loser; he thinks everyone but him is a loser.

Later in the day, my phoned pinged with a news update:  there was an apparent murder/suicide on the campus of UCLA.  The reasons are yet unknown; it appears a student shot a professor and then himself.

A French ship has detected another sort of ping, from one of the Black Box recorders from the Egypt Air Airbus which crashed into the sea.

Saudi Arabia, which is attempting to diversify its oil economy, has invested $3.25 billion in Uber, which also looks at the Mideast as a great place to grow its business.  And since Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow women to drive, having the service may give its women more freedom.

In Mogadishu, capital of tattered Somalia, a car bomb went off and killed at least 15.

While watching the news with Jeffrey, I discovered that today would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday, had she not died in 1962.  From the time of her discovery until her death, she lived 17 tumultuous, star crossed years and remains one of Hollywood’s most potent icons.

Once upon a time, in my early days in Hollywood, I did research for some Hollywood writers, among them Richard Lamparski who wrote all the “Whatever Became Of…?” books.  He called her death “a good career move.”

Tragically, he was right.  In death she has earned far more than in life.  While Elizabeth Taylor was earning a million a film, she was being paid a hundred thousand.  Monroe’s estate has carefully managed her assets and through licensing has made millions every year.

I remember as a little boy bringing in the morning paper with huge headlines:  MARILYN MONROE DEAD.  I couldn’t believe it.  But it was true.  And she is wound together in the Kennedy mythology because she reportedly slept both with John F. and Robert Kennedy.

It is even said she called Jackie to tell her that she was having an affair with Jack Kennedy.  Reportedly, Jackie responded: go ahead, marry him.  Then you have all the problems.

My god, but what figures played on the world stage then.  The Kennedys, all of them… Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Martin Luther King, Lyndon Johnson, great figures who dwarf what we offer today. 

Obama and Hillary Clinton will go down in history.  He the first black President, she, win or lose, the first woman to credibly march toward the Presidency. 

But my childhood was filled with giants and there are few of them left.  Jack Kennedy may have been one of the most flawed men to sit in the Oval Office yet we cannot not seem to love him and his era.   

That Trump is a serious contender for the Presidency points to the paucity of spirit in this time.  Really, Trump?  A bombastic, narcissistic loon who seems more related to Mussolini than to Lincoln is going to be the Republican nominee for President?

As someone who is, I think, a thinking American, I am APPALLED.

However, as a commentator said the other day: hey, it’s 2016, anything can happen.

The light has faded over Edgartown harbor and as my battery grows low on my laptop, I must cease. 

Really, Trump? This is the best the Republicans can do?  Where is Everett Dirksen when we need him?

Letter From New York 12 10 15 River ramblings…

December 10, 2015

Global warming. Todd Broder. Broderville. Uber. Trump. Goldwater. Lyndon Johnson.  West Point.  Penn Station. Moynihan Station. Grand Central. Union Station. “Newtown.” Odyssey Networks.

It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m riding north, leaving the city for the weekend.  It’s the 10th of December and the sky is bright and the temperature is hovering near 60 degrees.

Gallows humor jokes about global warming proliferate.  Burdened with things I am returning to the cottage, I got an Uber to take me to Todd’s office for a call. Chiek, my driver, and I discussed it most of the time between the apartment and office.

He just became an American citizen and so we talked about the election scene.  He said in the six years he has been in America, he’s never seen anything like it.  I must be twice as old as he and I’ve never seen anything like it either.

Trump barrels on, his foot firmly inserted in his mouth, a condition which does not seem to prevent him from topping the Republican polls.  As far as I can tell from newspaper accounts, Republicans are terrified of him and too terrified to do anything about him.

Some are saying that if he is nominated it will be the harbinger of a defeat of the magnitude of 1964, when Goldwater ran against Lyndon Johnson and was overwhelmingly defeated, taking down much of the party with him.

If that happens, there is a part of me that says they deserve it if they give the nomination to him.

The Republican circus is dismaying me.  And probably most other thinking adults…

We are gliding past West Point, the redoubt looking splendid in the afternoon sun as we move north.

When I got on the train today, I remarked to myself what a depressing place Penn Station is, especially when compared with Grand Central or Union Station in Washington DC.  Those places put a bit of pep in your feet while Penn grinds down the soul.

If I live long enough, they may eventually move train traffic from Penn across the street to what is now being called “Moynihan Station.”  Named after the late New York Senator, Daniel Moynihan, the new station will be forged from the old Post Office, designed by the same architect who built the original Penn, torn down in one of New York’s greatest moments of folly.

I woke up grumpy this morning and made a conscious choice to be happy, to enjoy the day – and I am.  Yesterday, a project I have been working on died with a whimper.

Yesterday, I was surrounded by friends and a dinner held by Odyssey for its Board and friends at which were shown clips from the films they are working on.  “Newtown” has been accepted into Sundance and The White House has asked to see their film on mass incarceration.  Much to celebrate.

But when I got home and the laughter passed, I took a little time to mourn my project, falling asleep wanting my teddy bear.

When I woke, the sadness was still hanging on me so I got a grip on myself and reminded myself that the sun had still risen, it was a remarkable weather day for the 10th of December, that other opportunities will come and there are other project joys to be found in the future.

Letter From New York, November 26, 2013

November 26, 2013

Or, as it seems to me…

Fifty years later…

I was a young boy in Catholic school in 1963 when, in the early afternoon, it was announced that the President had been shot.  Not long after, it was announced that the President had died and we were all sent home.  At home, on that rainy November day, standing in our living room, looking out at Bryant Avenue, watching buses trundle down the rain slicked street, in a grey room on a grey day, I turned to my mother and asked her a question for which she had no answer:  what kind of country are we to do this?

I remember distinctly the color of the wood frames of the window, that I was looking out to the world and looking to the world to give me an answer.  That year the living room was painted an ivory color: I was standing behind a chair with a pink velvet back, next to a marble top that held ashtrays for guests, cocktail napkins and other assorted party goods, I remember all those odd details because that was where I was standing when I understood that Kennedy had died.  Not where I was when we I heard it but where I was when I understood he was dead.

I was crying that afternoon, once I realized what had happened.  I hadn’t realized what had happened when I heard the news; I only realized it when I was home, in the safety of my home, in the warmth of my home, in a place where I thought I was allowed to feel.

I was Catholic.  Kennedy was the first Catholic president.  We had all watched his inauguration on television in school on the portable television I had carried to school from my bedroom.  It was a major moment for Catholics, though not for my family.  We were Republicans and had supported Nixon – definitely a minority at Visitation School that year, 1960, when he had been elected. 

The 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Kennedy has brought back to me all kinds of memories of those days, the day he died, seeing Lee Harvey Oswald murdered on live television, the day he was buried.  I recall we watched CBS, Walter Cronkite’s voice carrying us through the trauma of having what we thought of as a lovely young man, youngest man elected to the Presidency, with a lovely family, the leader of the free world, a man of eloquent words and the capability of stirring men to motion, gone in a sudden, mad moment that even today seems incomprehensible.

Conspiracy theories flow like a raging river even now; there are conferences for them, those who think Kennedy’s death was the result of a far-right conspiracy or the result of Castro’s revenge, or that the Mafia organized his death or Lyndon Johnson’s Texas cabal organized the President’s death to catapult their man into office; it was Kennedy’s own driver who murdered him.  There were shots everywhere on the grassy knoll.  There are, it seems, a thousand theories and a hundred conspiracies, which have kept the case from closing on Kennedy’s death.  The Warren Commission was a white wash.  It goes on and on and will probably never end.

Kennedy was a man who said:  A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.  And Kennedy was an idea that has lived on despite our growing knowledge of his flaws and faults and all too mortal foibles, of his dalliances with interns, movie stars and mob connected women.  He accomplished only a middling amount in Congress but he was an idea and he lives on, an idea that drove us to the moon and back, an idea that created the Peace Corps, an idea that still inspires us to “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”

He is gone.  Those of us who remember where we were when we heard he had died are entering our late middle age or more and will be exiting the stage.  The 50th Anniversary of his death is a marker for those who remember where they were; fifty years is a long time, a lifetime, a half-century in which the world has radically changed.

It is said his death marked the end of innocence but we were not innocent then.  We were a deeply divided country, simmering with rage over integration and economic issues that bubbled over in the years following his death.  His death was the punctuation point for all the troubles to come.

But Kennedy was an idea and he lives on, an idea, an abstract, held in higher regard than any other post war President, 90% of people think he did a wonderful job and they think that because he is an idea that lives on, an eloquent idea that drew us beyond ourselves both while he lived and since he has died.