Monday, August 11, 2014


SWEET ARE THE USES OF INANITY!
June Allyson and Peter Lawford, Good News (1947)
One of the Great Analgesics of All Time

This is the way we were, or at least wanted to be.
Shallow? Inane? Unrealistic? 

YOU BET!

But also a helluva lotta good, clean fun.
Entertainment was once designed to provide ESCAPE from the grim, gray aspects of life. As the USO Tours with Bob Hope and many glamour girls during World War Two proved, healthy doses of light-hearted nonsense did much to boost our troops' morale, and strengthen the War Effort.

Imagine how our soldiers would have responded if Eminem had regaled them with repeated choruses of Shit On You?

I shudder to think.

12 comments:

  1. it might work if the lyrics where "shit on the enemies remains after you destroy them!" ;-)

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  2. I always loved Peter Lawford. My earliest memories of him was the TV series The Thin Man. I was too young to appreciate the series when it was on the air. But quite a few years later, I watched all the reruns.

    What a suave fellow he was during his salad days! He certainly didn't let the trouble with his right arm hold him back.

    I always liked June Allyson, too. What a charming woman!

    Great video, FT! Those were the days, huh?

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  3. Yes, AOW, they really were THE days. I was six years old when Good News came out. My parents took me to see it at the Roxy Theater. It was either the first or second time I was taken into New York to see movie along with a live stage show. Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland came out about the same time, and I remember seeing that too at the Roxy. I loved both, but the energizing excitement and feelings of elation generated by Good News have stayed with me all my life. I must have seen it fifteen or twenty times since it first appeared on TV -- and now on YouTube -- and it never loses its appeal.

    Six is a VERY impressionable age, and the glamor that was New York City in the 1940's was all new to me, so that may account for my lifelong love of these bits of now-antique popular culture.

    But the TONE of that era was so exuberant, so infectiously joyous, so full of fun, celebration and a vivacious love of life it really is very sustaining during the dark, dreary, frightening, infuriating times we've had since to remember that once upon a time the United States of America was a glorious place to live.

    It's a near tragedy that Peter Lawford got mixed up with the Kennedys, then the Rat Pack. He became hopelessly debauched under those influences and virtually threw away what had been a wonderfully promising career as a leading man.

    I do remember the Thin Man very well. In fact I experiences the TV series before I saw any of the movies made with William Powell and Myrna Loy. I believe it was Phyllis Kirkwho played Norah Charles opposite Peter Lawford's Nick on television.

    Odder still I didn't get around to reading Dashiell Hammett's book until ten years ago. I'm sorry to say I found Hammett's original much less satisfying than either the movies or the TV series. The same was true of The Maltese Falcon. They made that opus three times, but only the Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Petter Lorre version is worth bothering with. Again, I found the novel, itself, rather plodding.

    At any rate, pop culture in the USA WAS delightful until 1955 -- the year Elvis the Pelvis and his phallic guitar entered the arena. That changed everything virtually overnight, and we've been going downhill ever since.

    I know no one under seventy has the faintest idea what I mean, and that in itself is the strongest evidence I know that we have experienced a tragic transformation.

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  4. I don't think so, Les. We didn't allow such thoughts to enter our consciousness when I was a boy. Aggressive use of vulgarity and later the out-and-out obscenity marking our societal devolution came in with Rock 'n Roll and a series of highly regrettable Supreme Court decisions that gave us first Lady Chatterley's Lover, a roaring bore of a novel by D. H. Lawrence in which Oliver Mellors the gamekeeper imparts to his mistress Lady Chatterly such tender, loving sentiments as, "I don't care if tha' shits and if tha' pisses, I want to fuck you any way."

    That may rouse a case of the giggles in most people today, because we've became inured to vulgarity as The New Norm, but the shock of seeing something like that in print in those faraway days has never left me.

    Then, we had Al Goldstein's charming Screw Magazine burst upon the newsstands in New York, then the pornographic movies with no pretense whatsoever at "socially redeeming value" -- I am Curious Yellow, Deep Throat and The Devil in Miss Jones -- all courtesy of the creeps on the Supreme Court who gave why to the fiends who brought suit to get SMUT before the public. And then there was dear Madelyn Murray O'Hair whose infamous antics before the even-more infamous High Court gave WASP Civilization the coup de grace.

    So, it's been Shit, Piss and Corruption, and Fuck you, Jesus, God is Dead all the way ever since.

    My nostalgia for the 1940's becomes more acute with each passing day.

    It is only the ETERNAL value and absolute SPLENDOR of Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Weber, Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner, Mahleret al. that sustains me and keeps Hope alive.

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  5. I suppose one could argue that it's been a "progressive de/evolution" from the shallow inanity of the 40's to the rock and roll era of the 50's, to the "English invasion" of the 60's ever onward though the 70's and 80's and 90's all the way to the current age of "eat shit" of rap/hip hop of the new century of today.

    On the other hand perhaps it depends on "what you grew up with", and looking at life in the rear view mirror always has a tendency to appear better—perhaps even better than it really was at the time. Just a quirk of the human mind ...

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  6. I don't think so, Waylon. The "inanity" of the '40's was anything but. It was gentle, it was kind, it was fun, it was highly creative -- the choreography in Good News is beyond brilliant -- and it served a useful purpose. It lifted most out of the doldrums, and reminded them that life was more than a continual unfolding of sin, sickness, disease, depravity and death.


    I happened to have been an extremely precocious child, so I can say with all honesty that I really was THERE in the 1940's. I have a bizarre memory that enables me to recall the past in great detail as though I were watching a technicolor movie. I can even remember the outfits my mother and my aunts wore on certain occasions, and what the weather was like at the time. I can see the furniture in the rooms exactly as it was then, and hear the music we heard on the radio, the jukeboxes and the record players of that era.

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  7. Yes, life in America was certainly happier and more carefree before we entered our current state of zombie (corporate) capitalism.

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  8. Perhaps even am "American" born corruption of the saeta, much as this.

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  9. The 40s was a good decade for jazz.

    Dunno why you keep picking on "shit on you" -- are you under the impression it was a critical or commercial success? I don't believe it was either.

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  10. If you haven't gotten it by now, there is no point in my trying to explain anything I do to you, Jez. It's not worth the effort, because you don't really want to know. Either that or you are very dense, and I have enough respect for you to doubt that very much.

    You can't stop practicing Critical Theory anymore than an inveterate alcoholic could stop drinking. It's been bred into you -- probably since early childhood. It's possible, I think, you may not know what has been done to you anymore than Pavlov's dog's were aware of Pavlov's purposes in putting them through their paces.

    It's a shame, but I'm afraid you're stuck with it. I am grateful to be on my way out. The Final Exit could come any day within the next few years. I don't long for it -- yet -- but I have no plan ro resist whenever the Grim Reaper beckons.

    I sincerely hope I will no longer be around when the "chickens" of ore than a century of Cultural Marxism's Long March Through the Culture come home to roost for the last time.

    I guarantee you will not like it once The Great Goal has finally been achieved, and there is no longer the faintest hope of ever turning back.


    "The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools."

    ~ John Tyndall (1820-1893)


    "Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty."

    ~ Walt Whitman (1819-1892)


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