…like a needle…

It seems as though we have a need to go looking for that proverbial “needle in the haystack.” Or perhaps we have this organic desire to thread a needle through that smallest of holes. The recent election attests to our heightened fixation on doing just that.

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton showed us exactly who they are. Many,  Republicans and Democrats alike, preferred to pursue a scavenger hunt mindset in search of the “real truth.” The media, with CNN at the forefront, happily led the charge.

At some point in the year-long campaign leading up to November 8th, I decided to read several books about the candidates. Rather than be spoon-fed constantly regurgitated “pablum” by the media, I wanted to learn the facts for myself in order to make up my own mind about both Trump and Clinton.

I’m no more of an expert on either person than the media or the political parties to which they belong. Neither am I judging others on their decision-making process; I’m merely offering my views on the matter.

Trump himself has shown us that he embodies the dual personalities of Jekyll and Hyde. The construction of Trump Tower is a sad example of Hyde overtaking Jekyll.

“Instead of hiring an experienced demolition contractor, Trump chose Kaszycki & Sons Contractors, a window washing business owned by a Polish émigré. Upward of two hundred men began demolishing the building in midwinter 1980. The men worked without hard hats. They lacked facemasks, even though asbestos–known to cause incurable cancers–swirled all around them. They didn’t have goggles to protect their eyes from the bits of concrete and steel that sometimes flew through the air like bullets. The men didn’t have power tools either; they brought down the twelve-story building with sledgehammers.

Trump kept an eye on the project, not just when visiting the site (where photographs show him smiling under a hard hat), but from an office he rented directly across Fifth Avenue, which offered him an unobstructed view.

The demolition workers were not American citizens, but ‘had recently arrived from Poland,’ a federal court later determined. The court also found that ‘they were undocumented and worked ‘off the books.’ No payroll records were kept, no Social Security or other taxes were withheld and they were not paid in accordance with wage laws. They were told they would be paid $4.00 or in some cases $5.00 an hour for working 12 hour shifts seven days a week. In fact, they were paid irregularly and incompletely.’

Many members of the demolition crew, which became known as the Polish Brigade, lived at the work site, sleeping through the bitter cold on bare concrete floors. The crew numbered about thirty or forty in the daytime, but swelled to as many as two hundred at night, when few people would be around the tony business district to observe the demolition work.

Fed up that their paychecks kept bouncing, some of the workers corralled Thomas Macari, Trump’s personal representative. They showed him to the edge of one of the higher floors and asked if he would like them to hang him over the side. The workers, likely hungry, demanded their pay. Otherwise, no work.

When Macari told his boss what had happened, Trump placed a panicked telephone call to Daniel Sullivan–a labor fixer, FBI informant, suspect in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, and Trump’s personal negotiator for the Grand Hyatt contract with the hotel workers’ union.

‘Donald told me he was having some difficulties,’ Sullivan later testified, ‘ and he admitted to me that–seeking my advice–he had some illegal Polish employees on the job. I reacted by saying to Donald that ‘I think you are nuts.’ I told him to fire them promptly if he had any brains.’

As Sullivan later told me, along with reporter Wayne Barrett and others, hiring Polish workers who were in the country illegally and then having them work without standard safety equipment was not just foolish, it was reckless. For all his dealings with Trump, Sullivan was repeatedly astonished by the businessman’s lack of prudence. He said that whenever Trump saw an opportunity to collect more money or to cut his costs by not paying people what they had earned, he did. ‘Common sense just never took hold’ when Trump had money on his mind, Sullivan told me several times.

To Sullivan, only greed and an utter lack of regard for human life could allow Trump to let the Polish Brigade work without hard hats or the facemasks they needed to keep asbestos from entering their lungs. ‘Men were stripping electric wires with their bare hands,’ Sullivan later testified.

There is no record of any federal, state, or city safety inspector filing a report during the demolition. In a 1990 Trenton restaurant interview, I asked Sullivan how a project of this size could have been erected in the heart of Manhattan without attracting government job safety inspectors. Sullivan just looked at me. When I widened my eyes to make clear that I wanted an explicit answer, he said, ‘You know why.’ When I persisted, anticipating that Sullivan might specify bribes to inspectors, he said that unions and concrete suppliers were not the only areas where Trump’s lawyer, Roy Cohn, had influence.

Shortly after Trump called Sullivan, a new demolition crew arrived on the site. They were officially members of Housewreckers Local 95, but there were only fifteen or so unionists among them. Normally, employing non-union workers (in this case, Kaszycki & Sons) at a union work site would prompt an immediate shutdown. But, as federal court documents would later show, the Housewreckers Union was firmly under the control of the mobsters whose consigliere was Roy Cohn. Trump’s mentor and lawyer. So the union went along with a scheme to employ non-union workers, cheat them out of their pay, and shortchange the union health and pension funds.

Several simple but clever techniques in filling out records ensured that the union received no written notice of the non-union workers. Not incidentally, those workers were nonetheless required to pay union initiation fees and had union dues deducted from their meager pay, even though (as a federal judge later concluded) they were never actually in the union. Macari, Trump’s overseer, testified that he reviewed and approved these documents before paying Kaszycki.

Six Polish workers went to a lawyer named John Szabo for help getting paid. In early April, Macari saw to it that the window washing company Trump hired for the demolition job gave the six men a total of almost $5,000 in back pay. More workers then sought out Szabo. By July, as summer temperatures soared, the unpaid wages came to almost $104,000, even though the rate of pay was under five dollars an hour with no overtime, despite a grueling eighty-four-hour workweek of heavy manual labor.

One day, to keep the workers swinging their sledgehammers, Macari showed up with a wad of cash. Instead of paying the men directly, court papers show, Macari gave the money to the foreman. Anyone who wanted their money had to kick back fifty bucks to the foreman, testimony showed. After that, Macari testified later, he handed cash directly to the Polish Brigade members at least twice.

After the building was taken down, a dissident member of the Housewreckers Union, Harry Diduck, took the brave step of suing the corrupt union. Trump, and an arm of Metropolitan Life Insurance (Trump’s financial partner in Trump Tower) for the wages and benefits the Polish Brigade members should have received. Trump insisted he owed nothing and filed motion after motion that delayed the proceedings, which his lawyers characterized as baseless and unfair.

When the trial finally made it to federal court, Trump testified that he had no knowledge that any workers were underpaid, or that the Polish workers lacked hard hats and other safety equipment. Judge Stewart, in a lengthy opinion found that Trump’s testimony lacked credibility. The judge said it would have been easy to identify the Polish workers–they were the only ones on the demolition site without hard hats.

Judge Stewart ruled that Trump had engaged in a conspiracy to cheat the workers of their pay. At the heart of this conspiracy was Trump’s violation of his duty of loyalty–also known as fiduciary duty–to the workers and to the union. This ‘breach involved fraud and the Trump defendants knowingly participated in this breach,’ Judge Stewart held.

The judge awarded damages of $325,000 plus interest. Trump, who has consistently maintained he acted lawfully, appealed. He later settled. The agreement was sealed, so the amount Trump paid remains unknown. Diduck’s dedication to his fellow workers showed amazing persistence–the sealed settlement took effect more than eighteen years after the demolition began.”

The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

…the real trump.

………hugmamma.Image result for images of trump as jekyll and hyde

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my story…

I’m never without a book when I crawl under the covers at night. And it’s usually a biography of someone famous. There’ve been a few infamous folks as well. Mrs. Wallace Simpson comes to mind.

Folks living in the glare of the spotlight captivate me. I wonder if what we see or hear or read about them is real. Or is much of it fabricated for public consumption? I grew up under the spell of Ingrid Bergman and Bette Davis, Errol Flynn and Cary Grant. Theirs was a Hollywood where movie stars were celluloid creations. What we saw wasn’t always who they were off-screen.

Historical figures also interest me. I’ve read the life stories of several presidents, including FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon and Obama. What propels these men to choose the extraordinary instead of the ordinary path is a lesson in advanced psychology.

The common denominator in all of these biographies is parental influence. Most often it’s the lack of, or overabundance of…parental involvement. As a young boy, Cary Grant suffered the loss of his mother when his father had her committed to an institution. Grant didn’t learn of her existence until he was well on his way to becoming a Hollywood icon. Forever after, he sought her approval which he felt he never got.

Rose Kennedy left much of the parenting duties to nannies and staff. John was a sickly child who never received the doting care and concern of his mother. As an adult, he was not overly affectionate toward her. In fact, it was his father whose approval the son desperately wanted, and whose loyalty and love meant the most to the president.

Nixon’s Quaker mother instilled in him the ambition to always do well…no matter the odds. And Sarah Roosevelt made it impossible for Eleanor to follow in her mother-in-law’s footsteps. She whose very life revolved solely around her beloved Franklin.

So what’s different between these lives…and mine? Mostly the trappings. Articles about their comings and goings are devoured by millions of adoring fans; I have a few loyal readers following hugmamma.com. They dine at 21 in NYC; I’ve been there a handful of times as the guest of one of my husband’s clients. They fly hither and yon in first class accommodations; I’ve been fortunate to ride up front a time or two. The world is their oyster; I’ve traveled enough to know contentment…sitting on my deck, watching the world go by.

More importantly the death of my father, which left my siblings and me in the care of an uneducated, impoverished 30-year-old mother, left invisible scars that no amount of time will ever erase.

When we delve beneath the surface of our lives, what we find is a commonality to our human story. No matter what we go on to make of ourselves, we are the product of how we were raised…by whom…and how they were affected by their own life stories.

The only difference between one story and another is what we each bring to it. Do we improve upon what came before? Or do we let the story play out according to script. I prefer to think we can tweak a line here and there, maybe even rewriting a chapter or two. The ending can resemble a happily-ever-after, even if it’s not the one in An Affair to Remember, or Sleepless in Seattle.

Life is not a done deal…until it’s done. There’s time…minutes, hours, days, months, years…to do some rewriting. All it takes is a bit of imagination…

…and a whole lot of guts.

………hugmamma.

 

 

the kennedy legacy…

…includes a belief in entitlement…and wanton womanizing.

I’ve read a number of biographies about the Kennedy dynasty. The latest, RFK Jr. – Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the Dark Side of the Dream by Jerry Oppenheimer, is by far the most disturbing. The fact that he probably continues to live a life driven by the demons which have haunted many family members following in the footsteps of patriarch Joseph Kennedy, is downright scary.  Scary for those driven mad when they get tangled up with the Kennedys. A family living on the edge…pushing the envelope. I would even go so far as to say, Princess Diana’s embattled years with England’s royal family pale by comparison.

The Kennedy women, beginning with its matriarch Rose, turned a blind eye to the philandering of their men. Her husband, Joseph, carried on with Hollywood legend Gloria Swanson. President Kennedy followed suit by bedding tinsel town’s blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe, among many others. When he was done with her, he handed her off to brother Robert. Until he married his last wife, Vicky, Ted Kennedy was an infamous philanderer as well. Brother-in-law, actor Peter Lawford likewise cheated on Kennedy daughter Pat. Maria Shriver famously suffered the same fate when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was found to have fathered a child with their live-in housekeeper.

Whatever the reason…religion for Rose…wealth for Jackie…obsession for Ethel…naivete for Joan…family first for Pat and Maria…all these women enabled their husbands by their quiet subservience to the status quo. That they loved their husbands was beside the point. Their gilded trappings belied their comparable situation to ghetto women suffering the same fate at the hands of abusive husbands. The only difference is that the Kennedy women had the means to escape the trauma of their everyday lives.

Turning a blind eye to their husbands’ indiscretions fed these men’s sense of entitlement. With wealth and a wife to keep the home fires burning, they could confidently set about vanquishing the world beyond…especially women mesmerized by the Kennedy charisma.

What none of these couples seemed to consider was the serious effect their transgressions would have on their offspring.

For some philandering was like a right of passage.

Michael, the 6th child born to Robert and Ethel, carried on a 5-year relationship with babysitter, Marissa Verrochi…in front of his children. According to biographer Oppenheimer…

 

Michael Kennedy’s trip to rehab had followed within hours the shocking discovery by Vicki Gifford Kennedy of her husband in bed with Marisa Verrochi in one of the Kennedys’ spare bedrooms at their home.

Kennedy had blamed his drinking for his illicit affair with the teenage babysitter and family friend, and his wife believed him for the time being. …

Around that time, Michael Kennedy was caught stalker-like on a security camera breaking into the garage where the teenager kept her car. He left behind a bizarre offering–an “artificial penis” that he had attached to the windshield. …

Kennedy subsequently did a stint in an Arizona rehab center for his sex addiction, and he followed one of the rules set down for him: identify in writing the names of all of the women with whom he had had sexual trysts. (A few years later, Bobby, in a diary, would do something similar.)

When the sordid details of Michael Kennedy’s philandering were revealed, Vicki Gifford Kennedy–shocked by the number of women with whom he obsessively had had sex, some of whom she knew–took their children in the spring of 1997 and left him after sixteen years of a troubled marriage. …

Having turned eighteen and become a college freshman, Marisa finally decided to confess all to her parents. Her mother was so devastated that the next day she climbed to the roof of the trendy six-story Boston building where she and her husband had a chic apartment and threatened to jump. According to reports, a spokesman for the family denied that suicide was the motive.

Bobby Kennedy, Jr.’s history of womanizing rivals that of the elder Kennedy men.

With his diary entries, Bobby became the first Kennedy male known to have documented his philandering in writing, albeit in a private journal. His reputed womanizing forebears–the patriarch, Joe; his uncles JFK and Ted; and Bobby’s own father–had never done so.

Reading published portions of the diary, one might wonder whether Bobby inherited his uncle Jack’s affliction. As the president told power broker Bobby Baker, “You know, I get a migraine if I don’t get a strange piece of ass every day,” according to Seymour Hersh’s The Dark Side of Camelot.

The almost four-hundred-page diary had a legend. The number “10” represented women with whom he had had intercourse. Sixteen had fallen into that category. In one day alone, less than two weeks before he and his family celebrated Thanksgiving 2001, he documented that he had had three separate sexual encounters. That same month one woman’s name–only first names were written–was noted in the diary twenty-two times, and on thirteen consecutive days, the Post reported. …

In early November 2001–two months after 9/11–he wrote that he felt “great,” and went on to note, “So I’ve been looking for ways to screw it up. I’m like Adam and live on Eden, and I can have everything but the fruit. But the fruit is all I want.”

At another point, he boasted: “I have been given everything that I coveted–a beautiful wife and kids and loving family, wealth, education, good health and a job I love yet always on the lookout for something I can’t have. I want it all. No matter how much I have–I want more.”

Sadly, confronted by the reality of her husband’s womanizing,and his desire to end their marriage for another woman, Mary Richardson, his second wife, committed suicide on May 16, 2012. She was obviously not prepared to be left behind, even though Bobby had gotten her pregnant when he was still married to his first wife, Emily Black, whom he had also left to marry again.

One of the big shockers for Mary, a confidante maintained, was when she learned that Bobby was having an affair with the TV actress Cheryl Hines, who would become his third wife. It was a shocker because Mary claimed she had introduced Hines to Bobby at a charity event, although Bobby and Hines asserted that their friend the comedian Larry David had brought about the introduction. Still, Mary felt “very betrayed” by what she termed the “Sisterhood,” said a confidante. “The Sisterhood was very important to her–women sticking together, women supporting one another.”

Hines already was publicly boasting about her relationship with Bobby, which infuriated and humiliated Mary. Online, she saw that Hines had tweeted that she had become friends with one of Mary’s pals, the actress Glenn Close, and had bonded with Kerry Kennedy. [Bobby’s sister] She boasted on Twitter that she had become pals with Bobby’s then-eleven-year-old son, Aiden, talking football with him.

In the wake of Hines’s controversial and embarrassing tweets, an Internet commenter observed, “Was Hines so self-absorbed that she did not think her giddy and public celebration would have no effect on the woman left behind?

According to the N.Y. Post online article “43 Suspected Mistresses Found in RFK Jr.’s Phone,” dated 7/13/14,

Kennedy’s name was dragged into another divorce battle last month when he was alleged to be the “other man” in Kirwan’s divorce from plastic surgeon Laurence Kirwan.

Laurence Kirwan believed his 42-year-old wife was having an affair with Kennedy, whom she met at a Westchester gym, a confidant of the surgeon told The Post. The couple separated in July 2012, but Laurence Kirwan believed the relationship began several months earlier, while Richardson was still alive, the friend said.

Cellphone records showed Chelsea Kirwan and Kennedy spoke five times a day in the summer of 2012, according to the friend, who said Kennedy, 60, could be called as a witness in the divorce case.

Chelsea Kirwan is supposed to testify on July 22 in a Stamford, Conn., court hearing.

Her name and number were copied off Kennedy’s Sprint Samsung phone by Richardson.

When contacted by The Post, the mother of four asked to know where her name fell on the list and whether there was any notation beside it.

According to the Daily Mail’s online article “EXCLUSIVE: The wedding is still on: RFK Jr WILL marry Cheryl Hines despite affair allegations with surgeon’s wife.”

And so, it seems, Hines was willing to turn a blind eye to her fiance’s philandering…

…continuing in the kennedy family tradition.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

i’m a huge fan…

…of Michael Jackson’s talent. 

Once upon a time I would have done what I could to nurture my dream of becoming an entertainer.

I can remember as a child sharing a passion for music with my mom. Among my cherished memories are the occasions when she would play the ukulele while we sang her favorite Hawaiian songs. Among them, Ke kali neau, The Hawaiian Wedding Song.

My love for dance was initiated by an older sister who taught me…the fox trot and the cha, cha, cha. Later, in my teens, I went on to master and instruct others in…the mashed potatoes, the twist, and the jerk.

In college I entered a talent show. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a competition because I don’t remember any prizes being awarded. However, the next day I got a call which made me feel as though I’d won.

A guy called inviting me to be the vocalist for his band, explaining they did gigs at the local hangout for university kids. Thrilled to be asked, I nevertheless decided against a singing career. For a girl like me, born on Maui in the late 40’s, entertaining was too much of a dream to ever become reality.

The rest is history. At 65 I’m very contented with my lot in life…a housewife for 44 years with a loving husband and daughter who cherish me.

Michael Jackson, on the other hand, died a lonely man most of his life. If he’d lived longer he more than likely would have enjoyed some of what I have…in the love of his three children.

I have probably read all that’s been printed about Jackson, before and after his death. Not having kept abreast of his life and career once he separated from his brothers, I wanted to know all that there was about him after he died.

Reading various biographies about Jackson helped me formulate a more balanced perspective of the man. I arrived at my own decisions as to who among all the players in his life were there for the right or wrong reasons. These included…the lawyers, the businessmen and women…the reporters and others in the media…and family and friends. 

Without thinking twice, I’m certain that Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe both loved their husband very much. That Michael Jackson used them to his own advantage is also undeniable. 

Jackson was a master manipulator, having learned from his family and all those who wanted a piece of him financially. Unfortunately, that included everyone who had anything to do with him. How could they resist? He was an irresistible man, personally and professionally, by all accounts. 

Blame for the mess his life became was shared by all, including Jackson himself. It didn’t help that poverty set the scene for the way it unfolded, his parents and siblings grabbing for whatever they could to keep the dream of wealth alive. And Michael spending his way through billions of dollars faster than he could earn it.

It was apparent Jackson was trying to fill the hole in his psyche with all the material things he could amass. That was the reason the number of concerts for This Is It quickly jumped from the initially agreed upon 10, to the staggering amount of 50. He was in hock up to his eyeballs…and some. 

The man was a magician when it came to getting in and out of trouble, personally and professionally. Unfortunately he had to pay up sooner or later. Hence the lawsuits that never seemed to stop, even after his death.

Untouchable, The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson by Randall Sullivan, reveals the overwhelmingly muddled mania surrounding one of the most iconic celebrities ever to have been born. I could only repeat to myself as I read my way through the book’s nearly 600 pages that it was almost best that Jackson died when he did.

He was like the grey whale at the center of a sharks’ feeding frenzy that I’d seen on a television documentary. There would have been no shred of the man left, had his life continued to spiral downward as it was.

It was interesting to observe that among all the bad people in Jackson’s life, there was no differentiation as to race, creed, gender, age, or social and financial standing. Whites, blacks, Jews, Muslims, men, women, young, old, rich, poor…they all shared in the Sodom and Gommorrah that followed the star wherever he went.

The more I read of celebrities who succumbed to the trappings of fame and wealth, the more I’m thankful for having escaped going down that road. Even minor celebs have their share of unwanted drama, like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and the self-absorbed Kardashians.

Jackson was a smart man in many ways and determinedly naive in others. In the moment he could destroy all he’d built by shrewd business negotiating. More often than not, the little boy who didn’t have a normal childhood won out when struggling with the man Jackson was trying to become. 

As in all walks of life it seems, if our morals and values are not solidly grounded, we can easily be caught up in the confetti that swirls around us. If we could only remember that all those little pieces of paper eventually find their way…

…downward.

………hugmamma.

(Wikepedia photo)

 

 

errol flynn…an enigma

Remember him?  Errol Flynn…that swashbuckling, acting hunk who portrayed…Robin Hood…among many other memorable characters? 

I was absolutely delighted when I came across Flynn’s autobiography in a small, mom-and-pop type bookshop. It was sandwiched between a couple of other shops along the main road in a rural town where I often peruse for antiques, collectibles, and other vintage treasures.

Talk about unearthing a treasure!  

Errol Flynn – My Wicked, Wicked Ways – The Million Copy Bestseller – His Side of The Story in His Own Words has been more than I expected. Although the racy title was enticing, I was far more interested in learning about the man behind the gorgeous facade. What was he all about? What did he think of the actors with whom he worked? Did he and Olivia de Havilland, a leading lady with whom he’d starred in several films, have a yen for one another off-camera? Was he an alcoholic and a pedophile, as had been alleged and widely publicized while at the peak of his career?

In reading celebrity biographies I’m always curious to learn if, in fact, they lead such totally different lives from those of us whose lives hover below, if not completely off, the radar. Are they really all that special when not appearing as hot commodities on the big screen?

While a quick read on the surface, Flynn’s story was substantive enough to slow me down. He is definitely NOT the same man he portrays in all those super-macho roles. If what he writes is true, Errol Flynn was a man given to satisfying any and all curiosities regardless of the risk or devastating results. Sex and alcohol were his undoing, physically and financially. In the end, they were probably the cause of his departure from this world. Along the way, bouts of depression nearly did him in prematurely. It seemed he had a pact with death which he tried to cash in a couple of times, unsuccessfully. He got his wish at age 50, when he died of a heart attack.

In his journal entry dated 10/14/55, Flynn wrote of life as a contradiction.

I know I am contradiction inside contradiction. … I can love women and hate them and this may seem a contradiction. … You can love every instant of living and still want to be dead. I know this feeling often. …I might be quite famous, but not feel famous, only feel sometimes like a heel. I can be worth a million or two million and feel like a bum and be a bum and live like a bum. … I know that there are two men inside me. One wants to ramble and has rambled around the globe more than once, in the sky and below water. The other man is a settled fellow, who thinks sometimes he is or should be a husband-man, and that he should sit settled in a house by the side of the road or by the side of the sea. Both are inside of me. Each is true. … No, contradiction has a place in human nature, in social values, just as it has in mathematics. Contradiction is neither true nor false. It is.

As if he were a tragic figure soliloquizing in a Shakespearean play, Flynn lists his many contradictions.

If they say I am inconsistent let them say it, for it is true, because inconsistency is a part of living nature.
I am the epitome of the twentieth-century cosmopolitanism, but I should have been born an explorer in the time of Magellan.
I am sour on women but cannot do without them and I need them incessantly so as to feed my sourness.
I could have killed Bruce Cabot but I can forgive him.
I am bitter about what Lili Damita did to me, but I also laugh about it.
I crave the indulgence of my senses but this is countered by an interior desire that is even keener than my senses to know the meaning of things.
I want to be taken seriously. I feel that I am inwardly serious, thoughtful, even tormented, but in practice I yield to the fatuous, the nonsensical. I allow myself to be understood abroad as a colourful fragment in a drab world.
I have a zest for living, yet twice an urge to die.
I have a genius for living, but I turn many things into crap.
I am dangerous to be with because, since I live dangerously, others are subject to the danger that I expose myself to. They, more likely than I, will get hurt.
I will do a great deal for a buck; then when I get it I will throw it away, or let it be taken from me.
I am very tough, but also I am a patsy.
The pursuit of gold, pleasure and danger motivate most of my springs.
I am alternately very kind, very cruel.
I love art, but finance may be my forte.
I want faith, and I am faithless.
I look for causes, and they wind up with me a romp.
I love and hate myself.
I want to be loved but I may myself be incapable of really loving.
I hate the legend of myself as phallic representation, yet I work at it to keep it alive.
I despise mediocrity above all things. I fear it, yet I know some of my performances have been mediocre.
I generally deny that I was ever a good actor, but I know I have turned in a half-dozen good performances.
I call myself a bum, but I have been working hard most of the days of my adult life.
I portray myself as wicked, hoping I will not be regarded as wicked. But I may really be wicked in the Biblical sense.
Women do not let me stay single. I do not let myself stay married.
Cheers for Mama. Damn her too.
Give me the artistic life, except when I’m producing, directing, organising, banking, playing the stock market and in other ways being a businessman.
I hate the law and spend too much time with lawyers.
I have been called the eternal Sophomore, the perennial youth. I can do nothing to alter this. I am hung with it. The stamp is upon me. It is too late for me to become a scientist, saint or messiah. If I symbolise anything it is that I am the eternal sempervive.
I laugh a lot, and I weep secretly more often than most men.

I have requested all my life for truths and I wallow in bromides. The bromides themselves wallow in truth.
I live polygamously, but but I am fascinated by people who appear to live happily monogamously.
I am on the side of the underdog, except when I am on the side of the rich.
In me, contradiction itself, as a principle, finds its own raison d’ etre. I am convinced of the validity of contradiction. There are many worlds. Each is true, at its time, in its own fashion.

Parental relationships always interest me when I read about others’ lives. Oftentimes these relationships drive individuals to do what they do, for better or worse. In Flynn’s case, the physical absence of both parents since his teen years left the would-be actor to create a life for himself. And so he did.

All my life I have tried to find my mother, and I have never found her. My father has not been Theodore Flynn, exactly, but a will-o’-the-wisp just beyond, whom I have chased and hunted to see him smile upon me, and I shall never find my true father, for the father I wanted to find was what I might become, but this shall never be, because inside of me there is a young man of New Guinea, who had other things in mind for himself besides achieving phallic symbolism in human form.

I am living with this brand–even relatively happily–but I wish it hadn’t happened. I do not know whether I have conveyed it–or tried not to convey it–but I have been cut by my own sword, so deeply that I am ready for whatever befalls. Flynn is not always In. Sometimes he is far, far out–at the bottom of the chasm, at the bottom of the cleft.

It saddens me to think that Errol Flynn might have been so much more than…

…just another pretty face.  

………hugmamma.

NOTE: Photo courtesy of wikipedia.

 

 

 

nurturing thursdays: we are the result…

…of our upbringing. “That’s the unvarnished truth,” as some literary folk might say. Plain…yet not so simple.

Biographies, for me, are a treasure trove of personal information. It’s like mining for gold that I’m never prepared to find. I always know I’ll glean greater understanding of the human spirit, but I’m like a child opening that unexpected gift on Christmas morning when I find buried among the pages of someone else’s life a particular truth that resonates within myself.

One weekend morning as I sat at my mom’s feet clipping her toenails, a ritual begun at her behest, she casually informed me that I had been unwanted…a mistake. I was probably 9 or 10 at the time. I’m pretty sure my reaction was mild, more one of curiosity than anything else. She told me she didn’t want a ninth child so she did what she could to abort me naturally. Naively, she thought spending hours in the ocean would somehow rid her of my fetus. And perhaps more on the mark, she’d down lots of soy sauce in the hopes I wouldn’t survive.

As you can see, I’m still alive. However, the seed of self doubt was probably planted within my psyche that sunny day, long ago.

Parenting is like a magic trick. If done right, we are applauded for our skill at making something so difficult look…so easy. If we go awry, eyebrows are raised, tongues click and refrains of “she’s a bad parent” are doled out mercilessly.

Because of my own childhood experience, I’m particularly sensitive to the influence of parents upon those whose biographies I read. And as you might guess, not one of them leaves home without taking some of their parents’ baggage along with them.

Gary Cooper, whose biography I’m currently reading, was forever devoted to his mother. Trying to please her and keep her happy meant juggling her high opinion of him, while being romantically involved with scores of women his entire life. Of the dozens who met mama, only one or two scored a home run. Unfortunately, they didn’t last long with a man who was enamored of all women, and felt sexually empowered to bed the lot of them.

Mary Astor, never one of my favorites, was a particularly interesting read. Her immigrant, German father, a stage parent if there ever was one, railroaded her acting career from its inception. Her beauty and fledgling talent inspired him to quit his job and move with his wife and daughter, first to Chicago and then to New York, in search of his dream to be rich. Eventually he struck gold in Hollywood where he set up house entirely at his daughter’s expense, both economically and emotionally. She became an alcoholic, fell in and out of abusive relationships, weathered financial ruin, and hit “rock bottom” many times. Discovering God later in life helped Astor out of the hell that had been her life until then.

John Kennedy could have been so much more, in my estimation, had his parents been less self-absorbed. Joseph Kennedy, Sr. was a man driven to overcome his humble beginnings. His natural savvy for besting the next man would bring him wealth, and with that, power in high places. He bought the presidency for his son, and the perfect wife to be First Lady. What the senior Kennedy could never fully render however, was the approval his presidential son had sought ever since he was born into the shadow of older brother, Joseph Kennedy, Jr. What was meant for him only fell to JFK upon his brother’s death.

And what of Kennedy’s mother, Rose? Not allowed to divorce her husband, notorious for his philandering, she complied with the mandates of her mayoral father and her Catholic faith by devoting herself to God, while neglecting the emotional needs of her many offspring. She had a small cottage built towards the back of the main house on the family’s Hyannisport compound. There, the mother would often retreat to find comfort in God. It was also a common practice of both parents to be away from their children, each one going his and her separate way to find pleasure. Rose shopped abroad; Joe Sr. caroused with Hollywood starlets, most famously with Gloria Swanson. She was even amazed at his wife’s tolerance when he invited Swanson along on a European vacation cruise.

It was Richard Nixon’s Quaker mother who instilled in her son the ambition to excel…always. And as history can attest, he never, ever lost that desire to drive the political conversation…much to the chagrin of his wife, Pat. Resigning the presidency before his second term even got underway was a hard lesson learned. Nixon’s resiliency, however, brought him a modicum of success in his comeback as an elder statesman on the world stage.

 I could go on, but you get my drift.

What I continue to learn through these biographies is that parents were children once who thrived, and suffered, at the hands of their parents. We’re really no different from any other species in that we’re all just trying to survive in an alien world. We use whatever resources are available to eke out a life for ourselves as best we can. For humans, those resources include psychogenic ones instilled through the generations. Parents beget children who become…parents who beget children…and so on…and so on. 

So where does the blame lie when children lead miserable lives? Nowhere really. It’s so easy to point a finger, but it’s just as fitting to turn that finger toward oneself.

We don’t have to continue on within the confines of the lives in which we were swaddled since birth. We can change out our “soiled linens” for fresh ones that have been aired out in the sunshine and smells of the scent of a new day. It’s up to us to make up a new bed…

…in which we can rest peacefully…and happily.

………hugmamma.

calling out the posse…iraq

Having already made my way through several presidential biographies, I’ve decided to keep on the path of learning who the real man is behind the facade. So I picked up a book I’d purchased a while ago at Half-Price Books…The Family, The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty…by Kitty Kelley. 

I was never a fan of the president, or the author, for that matter. That’s why the delay in reading the book. I’d bought it thinking “Why not? I’ll get around to it one of these days, when I’ve nothing else to read.”

Since I was on a presidential roll, it was Bush’s turn. Knowing Kelley’s tendency for sensational reporting, having read Oprah: A Biography, I should’ve been prepared for her book. Well shame on me, I wasn’t.

It’s not to say Kitty Kelley doesn’t report facts. She does. It’s her explosive style of telling a story that has me on the edge of my seat. The lady is not averse to confrontation. Far from it. She welcomes the challenge.

According to USA Today

The Bush Administration and the Republican Party launched a vigorous campaign to discredit Kelley as a Democratic partisan and discourage coverage of her 733-page book….Kelley pointed out that she has never lost a lawsuit and ‘never, ever had to retract a story.’ “

…and the Houston Chronicle adds…

Doing what {Kelley} does is like poking a stick into a hornet’s nest. The holder of the stick gets a nasty reaction from the disturbed occupants….The resulting book, however, is a good read.

Describing Kelley as a woman “with balls,” is putting it mildly. She’s more like a bulldog on a mission. Point in case? Her tell-all on the Bush family was written while George W. was the sitting president.

 With every book I’ve written, I’ve encountered a certain amount of hesitancy on the part of potential sources, because they are understandably reluctant to talk about powerful people, either for fear of retribution or for fear of being socially ostracized. The amount of trepidation I encountered in writing this book was unprecednted, but perhaps that’s what comes from writing about a sitting President whose family has a long reach. Many sources were reluctant to tell their stories on the record, and much as I dislike using unnamed sources, in some cases I had no choice. Many people who know the Bushes–friends, former employees, classmates, business associates, and even a few family members–were skittish about speaking for {fear of retribution.} I heard an endless stream of excuses and apologies, some comical, others disconcerting: “You don’t know that family…If they think I’ve talked to you, they’ll never speak to me again.” “This town is too small to rile the Bushes.” “I want to live to see my grandchildren.” One man said, “You can’t use my name. They’ll come after me. The Bushes are thugs.”

“Thugs? Surely, you’re kidding,” I said.

“Look what they did in Florida during the 2000 recount,”  he answered, and then detailed the “Brooks Brothers Riot” of Republican activists who helped stop the voting in Miami by storming the canvassing board. To prove his point, the man sent records showing that many of the rioters in pin-striped suits had been paid by the Bush recount committee.

With stability in Iraq hanging in the balance, George W.’s war against Iraq is once again called into question. 

Call me politically naive, but I’ve always thought the presidential son had a personal vendetta against Saddam Hossein for the assassination attempt against the presidential father. An article from the History News Network dated 3/6/07, “How Do We Know That Iraq Tried To Assassinate President George H. W. Bush?” lends credence to my claim.

On June 2, 1993, representatives of the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and others in the Department of Justice (DOJ) discussed the results of their investigations with representatives of the Clinton Administration. Three weeks later, the DOJ and CIA reported their conclusions. The DOJ and CIA reported that it was highly likely that the Iraqi Government originated the plot and more than likely that Bush was the target. Additionally, based on past Iraqi methods and other sources of intelligence, the CIA independently reported that there was a strong case that Saddam Hussein directed the plot against Bush. – See more at: http://hnn.us/article/1000#sthash.1KMHbZkx.dpuf

So in true Wild West style, George W. gathered up his posse and went after the bad guys. “Shoot ’em up, cowboys! Bang! Bang!” Too bad a lot of innocent people, Iraquis and Americans alike, got caught up in the bloodshed. Not to mention the trillions spent in the process…hard-earned taxpayer dollars. 

Minutes ago I visited another blogger’s site since she’d been by to view mine. From what I can surmise, she resides in the Middle East. It may even be that she’s an Iraqui. Reading her post, “Who Destroyed the Cradle of Civilization,”  it’s obvious she’s not speaking tripe. 

Saddam Hussein might have been the craziest of leaders but the man knew the geopolitics of Iraq. He was the impetus behind turning Iraq from a mere Arab nation to the most advanced Arab country in history. Iraq was always better than its neighbours. Healthcare facilities were excellent. Education was imparted right from the primary level up to the university, completely free of charge. Iraq was a nation where more human rights were granted to its citizens than any other Arab nation, especially in the areas of religion and liberation of women. The New York Times had thus, once called Baghdad “The Paris of the Middle East. Toppling Saddam Hussein was the biggest misstep US committed and now Iraq has to face people, I call pre-historic barbarians . I’d never thought a day would come when I’d have to support a man like Saddam Hussein over President Bush. Sometimes, I feel that the biggest Weapon of Mass Destruction in Iraq was Mr. President himself.

The day Saddam was caught President Bush had said, ” the world will be better off without you, Mr. Hussein.” Today Iraq has gone worse, and so has the world.

( http://akritimattu.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/who-destroyed-the-cradle-of-civilization/ )

I’ve always wondered why it is that some Americans insist other countries adopt our ways…lock, stock, and barrel?

Democracy, as we know it, works for us because it is founded upon Christian principles…because our ancestors were determined to free themselves from oppressive rulers…and because we’ve had centuries to make democracy our own.

How do Middle Eastern countries founded upon Islam adapt their values and cultures to Western ways? Not easily, that’s for sure. Should it be our battle? Or should it be that the people of the region figure it out with as little outside interference as possible?

A complex question with an impossible answer it seems. But it surely didn’t help…

to have a cowboy mentality in the White House. 

………hugmamma.

camelot revisited…

I’ve just concluded Jack and Jackie…Portrait of an American Marriage by Christopher Andersen. Published in 1996, it’s a biographical reflection of an iconic couple.

Why the love affair with individuals born into affluence and power, so far removed from those of us relegated to society’s lower stratosphere? Perhaps it’s through the celebrated we’re able to live out our fantasies, without having to deal with the inevitable pitfalls that accompany fame.

This particular biography, unlike others I’ve read about the Kennedys, puts a lot of meat on the bones of what others might have portrayed as mannequins in display windows.

The author’s concluding words summarize his adoit handling of two lives intricately intertwined. He gives us insight into a man and a woman, not unlike you or me. Only circumstances of birth and the resulting evolution of events, catapulted them into the spotlight.

Did Jack ever love Jackie? Patrick’s tragic death only a few months before the assassination was a pivotal event in the lives of the Kennedys, one that redefined the nature of their relationship. For the first time, Jack was able to reach out to his wife in ways he never could before. Did Jackie love Jack? There is no evidence that she ever stopped loving him.

Now that both Jack and Jackie are gone, perhaps the hysteria that enveloped them in life will be replaced with reason and understanding. Conceivably, we will be able to strip away the layers of hype and mystique to reveal the often vulnerable, tentative human beings underneath.

He was unquestionably a brilliant man whose vision of a better world continues to inspire millions. By virtue of her beauty, grace, and dignity, she is no less admired here and abroad. But to canonize them does us no less a disservice than to demonize them. For all their Olympian traits, Jack and Jackie argued over money, clothes, furniture, and in-laws. They grappled with infidelity, disease, and drug dependence. They fretted about infertility and childbearing, and both worried about and delighted in the children they had. They shared the death of one parent, the debilitating stroke of another, a miscarriage, a stillbirth, and the most crushing blow of all–the loss of a child.

They were nothing like us and everything like us. Theirs was an American marriage.

…thank goodness for writers…and the stories they tell…

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

could i do better?…could you?

Every now and then something on CNN prompts me to reflect upon President Obama’s handling of national and world affairs. I must confess I’m no expert in government matters.  Who is?

Yes, there are those with years, even decades of experience. Naturally, that counts for something. But so does an opinion. 

In the last month or so I’ve read a couple of presidential biographies, one on Dwight D. Eisenhower, the other on Richard M. Nixon. I’m now burrowing through one on John F. Kennedy.

Biographies are my favorite reads. They’re part history, part gossip…some factual, some speculative. I especially like getting to know the private person, the one the public rarely, if ever, sees.

My takeaway from Eisenhower’s biography was that he was a disciplined man given to sacrificing his personal life for his life as a public servant. His wife, Mamie, followed in her husband’s wake keeping herself intact, physically and mentally, as best she could. Eisenhower governed like the military man that he was, gathering his group of trusted, male cohorts about him to advise his next moves. Oddly enough, or maybe not, Vice President Nixon was not among them.

Political ambition had the starring role in Nixon’s life. It took him to the summit only attained by a few mortals, and it plunged him into the darkest depths where few souls ever tread. Pat, his “partner in crime,” believed her husband honorable in all he undertook. She saw the glory and the sorrow of a man driven to create the America of his vision. As we all know, Nixon fell far short of his ill-conceived plan.

There were moments of greatness in Kennedy’s life. His inaugural speech challenged us to “Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country.” Thousands answered the challenge by joining the president’s newly instituted Peace Corps. The Cuban Missile Crisis probably aged Kennedy faster than all other obstacles combined…chronic back pain…a spendthrift-fashionista-first lady…an insatiable appetite for women…and Governor Wallace’s hard-core opposition to black-equality.

And where was Jackie in all of this? She loved Jack is all…and his money. Evidently the Kennedys were a good match. He had his faults; she had hers. Great thing is…they both understood each other’s imperfections and still managed to love one another “until death do us part.” Which it did, unfortunately.

The Obamas seem a different breed from what we’ve encountered before. At least I think so. 

President Obama, as a former law professor, governs as though he is still in the classroom. He welcomes, even encourages, creative thinking. In the end, however, it’s his lone voice that decides the course of events. Yes, he has campaigned hard for tenure, and won. How he has managed to do so in the face of the Koch brothers and the billions they spend advancing the cause of the Tea Party is unfathomable.

I like to think it’s because Obama’s cause is morally right. I’m a sucker for those showing compassion for the less fortunate. And although the president has an ego the size of the universe…what leader doesn’t?

Funny how I can relate to Obama’s thought processes in making decisions, and the mistakes he’s bound to make given that he’s human. And maybe that’s just it…he’s human. It might also be that he lived a life more similar to mine, especially since he grew up in my native Hawaii. Beyond that, however, he wasn’t a product of a military background like Eisenhower. Nor from what I can surmise, Obama wasn’t driven by a burning desire to star in the White House. That came later, after he failed to move mountains as a human rights activist in the Chicago projects, and a stint in the senate.

While I’m an unlikely prospect to be one of Michelle Obama’s best buds, I get what she’s about. First and foremost, she’s a mom like me. Moreover, she will preach her husband’s goodness to all and any. Woe to those who dare challenge us on that front. 

No, I don’t consider myself in the same league as these notables. Nor would I ever care to be. With their power and celebrity comes a whole host of problems I wouldn’t want. Given their unique circumstances, I think the presidents and their first ladies do the best they can. It may be difficult for them to remember that they’re made of clay like us, given how the media keeps the spotlight on them 24/7.

Maybe we can remember for them…

…they wear bvd’s and girdles too!

………hugmamma.

(I know. I know. I’m dating myself…) 

IMG_0605

billy crystal…a gem!

I’m in the midst of reading Still Foolin’ ‘Em…Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell are My Keys? by stand-up comic and actor, Billy Crystal.

Cover of "City Slickers"

I was never really a fan of Crystal’s until I saw him in the film City Slickers. Suddenly, he was on my radar.

That’s not to say my eyes light up as they do when Cary Grant or Sean Connery appears on the TV screen. But these two men have nothing over Billy Crystal when it comes to zinging those one-liners, with nary a flinch in his face muscles. The man is a born natural. I don’t think he’d mind if I likened him to one of his idols, Johnny Carson.

Crystal’s autobiography made me laugh from page one.

March 14, 2013, my sixty-fifth birthday. I got up that morning, padded over to the bathroom, threw some water on my face, looked in the mirror, and my uncle Al was staring back at me. My scream brought Janice, my wife of forty-two years, running in. I kept yelling, “HOLY SHIT! What the fuck happened to me?” Somehow, overnight it seemed I had turned from a hip, cool baby boomer into a Diane Arbus photograph. I looked at Janice for an encouraging word, for a hug, for an “It’s okay, Billy, you look great. It’s an old mirror.” All she did was glance down at my robe, which had opened up, and ask: “When did your pubic hair turn gray?”

I had settled into my side of the bed and had barely begun reading, when I burst out laughing. Of course hubby asked what had set me off. Never in need of a nudge, I proceeded to read him the first paragraph. I continued to read excerpts I found particularly funny, forcing him to interrupt his own reading. My husband got a reprieve when I decided I’d better go to bed, or I’d be up all night with…Billy Crystal.

Did you know that Crystal was lifelong friends with Mickey Mantle, Muhammad Ali, and Howard Cosell? “What” you might ask “does he have in common with those iconic sports figures?” Well, I’ll tell you.

Impersonating…Cosell interviewing Ali and Ali responding to the sportscaster’s questions…catapulted Billy Crystal onto the world-wide stage. And it made him , in Ali’s words “…my little brother.” In fact, when Crystal informed Ali that a certain country club didn’t allow Jews, Ali never patronized the club again. 

Wheaties/Muhammad Ali 2.15.12

Billy Crystal made his “…network television debut on Cosell’s short-lived variety show on ABC.” Their friendship grew over the years as a result of their attachment to Muhammad Ali. Seated next to one another at Cosell’s funeral, Ali asked Crystal 

“Do you think he’s wearing his hairpiece?

I had to hold in my laugh. “I don’t think so,” I replied.

“Then how will God recognize him?”

“Once he starts complaining, he’ll know,” I said.

We both shared a muffled laugh. “He was a good man,” said Ali…

The comedienne’s relationship with Yankee great, Mickey Mantle, traversed a long and sometimes bumpy road. You see, Mantle was a life-long alcoholic. Suffering under the weight of feeling he’d never measured up to his father’s standards, Mantle found comfort in the bottle. Only when his sons, Danny and David, themselves recovering alcoholics, convinced their father to get help at the Betty Ford Center in 1994 did Mantle finally beat the “devil” in the bottle. He couldn’t, however, beat liver cancer which took him before he had a chance to really enjoy his newfound peace.

Español: foto de Mantle NY Yankees

The Anti-Defamation League honored Billy Crystal as “entertainer of the year” in 1995. They awarded him an original seat from Yankee Stadium, which had been renovated. A rarity, the wooden seat was the same as those Crystal had sat in back in 1956. The seat number, 7, had been Mickey Mantle’s. Later, the ballplayer inscribed the relic…” ‘Billy, wish you was still sittin here and I was still playing. –Mickey Mantle 6/7/91.’ ” Years later one of Mantle’s baseball gloves from the sixties was up for auction. Crystal bought it and since then has cherished both mementos in his own private Hall of Fame. Of Mantle, he said

When the ’61 Yankees approached the casket as pallbearers to lead their teammate away, I lost it. That was my team, now all in their sixties carrying the casket of their fallen prince.

Maybe it’s the baseball magic. When Dad rolls a ball to you for the first time and you roll it back, it starts; but then there comes a time when you don’t want Dad to throw it to you–you want Mickey to. I got that chance.

While Billy Crystal shmoozed with some of the all-time greats, including the object of his boyhood fantasies…Sophia Loren…he doesn’t seem so far-removed from common folk, like you and me. In fact, we could be him if we were able to be funny…

…in front of millions…as a stand up comic…

…i’ll pass………hugmamma.

Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal (Photo credit: Bob Bekian)

 

…a kid like no other…

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Michael Jackson’s talent. I was reminded of it a couple of days ago when one of the TV channels ran the song/dance videos from Jackson’s hit album “BAD.” The station was celebrating 25 years since the album’s release.

Michael Jackson

At the time “BAD” hit the airwaves, I wasn’t impressed. Like many, I preferred the sweet, innocent, black Michael. “Who was this whiter, sexier, long-haired version?” I thought. Unwilling to accept that he had changed, just as we all do, I dismissed him…and his music. Not until his death did I resume my admiration for a talent the likes of which we haven’t seen before, and probably won’t see again. 

I recently picked up another Jackson biography at Half Price Books, for 20% off no less. “My Friend Michael” by Frank Cascio is an honest depiction of the mega watt star from the stance of a young man who grew up knowing Jackson since age 5. At the time Michael was in his 20s. Along with his brother, Eddie, Frank got to know the boy behind the man…the Michael Jackson whose childhood was swallowed up by a career run amok.

Who can judge what should and shouldn’t have happened in another person’s life. We all do what we need to do to survive. Joe Jackson, Michael’s father, did for his family what any father in the same dire straits might have done. The fact that he drove his sons with a heavy hand, denying them the ability to experience other facets of life is something Jackson, Sr. will have to square with his Maker when the time comes.

We all have personal baggage left over from childhood, be it good, bad, or indifferent. Having my fair share of issues, I can see that life is never a straight path to old age. That Michael even made it to 50 is a wonder. The pressures he faced, perceived or real, would’ve taken a lesser man down.

The Cascio family of New Jersey offered Jackson a safe haven from all the ugliness that others hungry for fame and financial gain dished out.

Michael Jackson wasn’t without faults. Who is? What’s that line? People who live in glass houses…shouldn’t throw stones. We all tend to forget that, especially when the media whips itself up into a feeding frenzy. Great white sharks have nothing over the papparazzi when it comes to ripping people to shreds if given half the chance.

I’ve read all manner of books about the “man behind the mirror.” In doing so I’ve been able to formulate a pretty well-rounded impression of Jackson.

I subscribe to the notion that Michael was indeed misunderstood. He wasn’t blameless to be sure, but he certainly couldn’t take the time to explain every aspect of every decision he made. Remember the hyperbaric chamber in which he was photographed lying in repose? According to Cascio…

When he was photographed in a hyperbaric chamber, rumors began flying that he slept in it–in reality he’d donated it to a local hospital to be used in the treatment of burn victims. Of course, sometimes Michael was just being a character, joking around, but the impetus for his behavior was never as freaky as people were always so quick to assume.

And about the surgical masks Jackson had taken to wearing?

When he wore a surgical mask, people thought he was hiding some new plastic surgery–in reality he was at first protecting himself from getting sick before performances; then he found that wearing the mask made him feel like he was in disguise (when in fact it called more attention to him); and ultimately he turned it into a one-of-a-kind fashion statement, having his silken surgical masks custom-made.

Under normal circumstances, folks might have been asking if it were any one other than Michael Jackson…”Where were the parents?” Haven’t you wondered that with the likes of Brittney Spears and Lindsey Lohan? Perhaps because the Jacksons were black meant the standards were somehow different.

That, I think, was the underlying issue with the public’s perception of Michael Jackson and his family. It’s the same dilemma with President Obama.

Without precedence for blacks who succeed beyond their wildest dreams, Jackson and Obama are scrutinized to the nth degree. Journalists try to get inside their brains to determine how in the heck such unlikely candidates for success…succeeded. And we, the public, are caught up in the media tidal wave. It’s up to us to grab for whatever life raft we can to bail ourselves out of the flood of hysteria that ensues.

Elvis Presley

Most of my generation will remember the similar persecution of another amazing talent who took the world by storm…Elvis Presley. He with the voice, and moves, of a black entertainer. Nothing like him had happened along before.

Whether we are resistant to change in our music, or find it difficult to accept that all races are created equal, we should keep reminding ourselves that…for better or worse…we all inhabit the same earth. None of us are going anywhere…except to meet our Maker. Until that day we should all try to be less quick to judge.

Shakespeare’s Shylock from “Merchant of Venice” says it more eloquently…

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means,
warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer
as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,
do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?
Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his
sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge.
The villainy you teach me, I will execute,
and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.
(Act III, scene I)

 

………hugmamma.

Michael Jackson performing The Way You Make Me...

declining an award…

A little bit ago blogger friend, earthriderjudy, kindly designated me a recipient of The Lovely Blogger Award. In doing so, she indicated that her choice was based upon my promotion of others’ blogs. She went on to say that the posts she most enjoyed were those about myself and my family. While I delighted in her validation of hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul, my current involvement in speaking my political mind makes acceptance of the award difficult.

earthriderjudy personally refrains from promoting her political opinions in the public arena…for very good reasons. Her former career as a reporter, and current one as a teacher have influenced her position.

While I respect her stance…I do not share it.

The 2012 Presidential election is too significant for me not to involve myself personally. At least in the writing of my own opinions.

I listen 24/7 to coverage of the campaign, and read whatever comes across my laptop to do with both Presidential candidates.

My overriding concern has been Mitt Romney‘s morphing of the truth to please specific audiences. The most shocking, of course, was his telling remark to donors, behind closed doors, that he was disconnected and unconcerned about the 47% he’d written off as President Obama’s followers. He referred to them as those who felt entitled to the government’s help.

It’s a fact that these include military personnel whose salaries are tax-exempt when at war, and which, in many cases, are insufficient to sustain their families back home. Some depend upon food stamps to survive.

When my mom needed surgery for a hernia she’d had for decades, Medicaid provided the funds for that, as well as additional medical help she’d not been able to afford as a widow of many years, with a family of 9 to raise on her own.

My mom died some years ago, but she might have been one of the 47% from whom Romney would distance himself.

There are many other instances in which Romney has shown his chameleon-like ability to transform himself from “severe Conservative,” to Tea Party extremist, to the current centrist Conservative.

Which Romney will his followers be voting into the White House?

In addition to Romney’s vacillation on important issues…women’s rights to choose and equal pay for equal work…self-deportation of immigrants…specific government cuts he would  make to balance his 20% tax cuts across the board, including for the top 1%…repealing Obamacare, in toto or in part…running mate Paul Ryan‘s Medicare voucher system for those age 55 and under…I have other major reservations about Romney’s bid for the White House.

As an Independent who doesn’t tend toward the Republican Party’s platform, I hadn’t kept abreast of who rocked their world. In other words, who are the “movers and shakers” of the Republican Party.

I got more than I expected when I read The Obama Hate Machine  by Bill Press.

ALEC CROW - 21st Century Disenfranchisement

ALEC CROW – 21st Century Disenfranchisement (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

In the book I was introduced to the Koch brothers, David and Charles.

Right-wing extremists, billionaire oil-men, the Kochs support and fund the Tea Party movement, ensuring that their politicians represent the interests of Koch Industries, Inc.‘s “bottom line.” Front group, Americans for Prosperity…

… hosted a Website offering ‘Tea Party Talking Points.’ It arranged for buses to transport protestors to and from Washington, while also organizing companion rallies in Arizona, New Hampshire, Missouri, Kansas, New Jersey, and other states. It also circulated a memo with instructions on how to disrupt town hall meetings. On MSNBC, Keith Olbermann described the Koch Brothers as the grand puppeteers of the Tea Party crowd, staying out of sight but ‘telling them what to say and which causes to take on and also giving them lots of money to do it with.’

The Kochs have also more than dabbled in the environmental debate. In their own interests the brothers have contributed heavily to the Republican Congress.

January 5, 2011, was a big day for John Boehner. After twenty years of climbing up and falling down the leadership ladder in the House of Representatives, he had finally made it to the top and was about to be sworn in as Speaker of the House for the 112th Congress.

It was a big day for David Koch, too. After all, he and his brother Charles had done more than any two other fat cats to help Republicans win the House–and he was there in the chamber with his top lobbyists when Speaker Boehner took the oath of office.

Not only that: Koch was awarded a private meeting with Boehner, while his top political deputy, Tim Phillips, enjoyed a one-on-one with representative Fred Upton of Michigan, the new chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

…The Los Angeles Times reported that Koch Industries and its employees were the largest single donor to members of the panel, more generous than ExxonMobil. They shelled out $279,500 to twenty-two of the committee’s thirty-one Republicans.

…And the Kochs’ generosity soon paid off. The budget bill passed by the Boehner-controlled House not only cut EPA’s funding for the 2011 fiscal year by three billion dollars; it abolished most of the agency’s authority to do its job. As decreed by House Republicans, EPA would be banned from spending any money to clean up Chesapeake Bay; from enforcing new water-quality standards in Florida; from issuing new solid-waste standards that would include coal ash from power plants as a hazardous waste; from publishing new air-quality standards for coarse particulate matter; and–biggest prize of all for Koch Industries–from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions from stationary sources.

…It was a big step toward the goal Charles Koch revealed to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore in 2006 of eliminating 90 percent of all laws and government regulations in order to strengthen the ‘culture of prosperity.’ ”

The wholesale retreat from environmental protection led to this conclusion by California’s Henry Waxman, ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee: ‘It apparently no longer matters in Congress what health experts and scientists think. All that seems to matter is what Koch Industries think.’ “

For those of you who so obviously love the world in which we live, as evidenced by the treasure trove of cherished photographs I’ve seen throughout the Word Press blog community, be very wary of the long reach of Koch Industries’ tentacles. ”

…Koch Industries has a bad record of oil spills and air and water pollution. A 2010 University of Massachusetts at Amherst study cited it as one of the top ten air polluters in the country. And it has long been the most-outspoken corporate opponent of any climate-change legislation, because any such government program would inevitably interfere with what it believes to be its right to pollute with impunity.

One of the most damning accounts of the Kochs’ role in undermining global-warming legislation came in a March 2010 study published by Greenpeace: ‘Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine.’ In its report, Greenpeace traces almost fifty million dollars in funds allocated over the course of a decade from three different Koch-controlled foundations to climate-denial front groups working to scuttle policies aimed at stopping global warming.

…from 2005 to 2008…

– Over five million dollars to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation for its ‘Hot Air Tour’ campaign, debunking climate science and opposing climate-change legislation.

– One million dollars each to the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute for ‘scientific’ studies questioning the reality of global warning.

– $800,000 to the Manhattan Institute for hosting seminars featuring climate change-denial speakers.

– $360,000 to the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy to produce its own documentary rebutting Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

– And $360,000 to the little-known Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, or FREE.

…FREE, headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, operates way below the radar. Its target audience is comprised of federal judges and state supreme court justices, whom they pay to attend seminars where, according to their Web site, FREE’s ‘scientists’ apply ‘economics and scientific analysis to generate and explore alternative and innovative solutions to environmental problems.’ In other words, we’ll pay you to come to Montana and learn why global warming is nothing to worry about, so you can then go home and rule accordingly.

…the Koch propaganda blitz is working. In 2008, both John McCain and Barack Obama agreed that global warming was real, and man-made, and that government had to act. Most Americans agreed. Today, that situation has reversed. Obama’s still pushing for climate-change legislation, but he’s been blocked by Republicans in the House and Senate. Meanwhile, public opinion about climate change has shifted significantly.

An October 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center found that only 57 percent of Americans believed there was solid evidence that the Earth is getting warmer, down from 71 percent in April 2008. At the same time, fewer Americans saw global change as a serious priority. Van Jones, now with the Center for American Progress, credits anti-climate change ads paid for by the Koch Brothers with the dramatic decline in public support for action on global warming.

Charles Koch is a smart man. Smart enough to know that he’s “putting one over” on the American public. He admitted as much “in his remarkable op-ed in the March 1, 2011, Wall Street Journal…”

Koch himself acknowledges that American corporations today have been able to use their considerable financial clout to win too many concessions from government. It’s not good for taxpayers, and it’s not good for business, either, says the Journal, summing up Koch’s article, because ‘crony capitalism and bloated government prevent entrepeneurs from producing the products and services that make people’s lives better.’ ”

Following Koch’s own logic, it’s clear that the massive influence of big corporations on our political process must be curbed immediately. And we need to take a stand against wealthy plutocrats who would subvert the American political system to make themselves even richer. On that point, at least, it seems, we and the Brothers Koch can agree. As Charles Koch himself might say, ‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’ “

If the American Presidency is to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, shouldn’t the Brothers Koch be given consideration. They are not risk-takers. They only bet on a sure thing. And they have an empire already in place to guarantee their success. Consider the long list of organizations fully or partially funded by the Kochs.

THE ARMS OF THE KOCHTOPUS

FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity are just the tip of the Koch iceberg. Because they operate through various family foundations, and because not all organizations receiving Koch contributions are required to reveal the names of donors, no one but the Koch Brothers themselves knows how much money they have poured into their anti-Obama crusade. But it certainly adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Kochs pour their money out of three family foundations, with combined assets of over sixty million dollars: the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation (named after a close family friend who died). Again, we don’t know them all, but among those organizations…

-The Cato Institute
-Citizens for a Sound Economy
-Mercatus Center, George Mason University
-Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University
-Heritage Foundation
-Institute for Justice
-Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment
-Reason Foundation
-Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies
-Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy
-Washington Legal Foundation
-Capital Research Center
-Competitive Enterprise Institute
-Ethics and Public Policy Center
-National Center for Policy Analysis
-Citizens for Congressional Reform Foundation
-Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
-American Legislative Exchange Council
-Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty
-Political Economy Research Center
-Media Institute
-National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship
-University of Chicago
-Defenders of Property Rights
-University of Kansas Endowment Association
-Texas Public Policy Foundation
-Center for Individual Rights
-Heartland Institute
-Texas Justice Foundation
-Institute for Policy Innovation
-Center of the American Experiment
-Atlas Economic Research Foundation
-Young America’s Foundation
-Henry Hazlitt Foundation
-Atlantic Legal Foundation
-National Taxpayers Union
-Families Against Mandatory Minimums
-Philanthropy Roundtable
-Free Enterprise Institute
-John Locke Foundation
-Hudson Institute
-Alexis de Tocqueville Institution
-National Environmental Policy Institute
-Washington University
-Pacific Legal Foundation
-American Council for Capital Formation
-Institute for Political Economy
-State Policy Network
-Fraser Institute
-Mackinac Center
-Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation
-Institute for Objectivist Studies
-Americans for Prosperity
-FreedomWorks
-Bill of Rights Institute
-Study of Political Economy and Free Enterprise
-Excellence in Economics Education

If, and hopefully it’s a BIG IF, Romney is elected President of the United States of America…he will most likely serve…as proxy for Charles and David Koch. If not directly, then indirectly…through Boehner and the Tea Party obstructionists in Congress. In unison, they will all hold Romney’s feet to the fire.

White House

White House (Photo credit: HarshLight)

Then…the purchase of America…will be…complete.

…your choice…your vote…

…IF NOT US?…WHO?…IF NOT NOW?…WHEN?

………hugmamma.

what price…fame?

I’ve a love-hate relationship with the Internet.

I realize its many benefits to the information age, as well as social networking. But just as the opening of the proverbial Pandora’s Box unleashed the bad with the good, so too has the Internet. 

(Photo credit to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandora’s_box )

Of course determining what’s bad, and what’s good for that matter, is subjective. Bad to me might be good to you, and vice versa.

Two recent incidents have prompted me to script this, post-haste. The book authored by a retired Navy Seal detailing his shooting  of Osama bin Laden, and the You Tube video by an American-Israeli, that evidently incited the mob protest in Libya in which U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed.

Matt Bissonnette, aka Mark Owen, authored No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy Seal. According to an article by The Huffington Post

Little more than a day after killing bin Laden, Owen found himself driving home in Virginia Beach, Va. His disorientation was acute. He pulled into a Taco Bell drive-thru and ordered two crispy tacos, a bean burrito and a Pepsi. The reality of the history he had helped create began to sink in.

“This was pretty cool. It was the kind of mission I’d read about in Alaska as a kid. It was history,” he writes. “But just as quickly as those thoughts crossed my mind, I forced them out. The second you stop and believe your own hype, you’ve lost.”

Owen says he just wanted some quiet. And in telling his story, all of it, it seems clear he got it.

The Internet has given Bissonnette access to millions and millions more people  than might have read his book, had it been relegated to bookshelves for much fewer to read…back in the good ‘ole days.

Sam Bacile, a 56-year-old California real-estate developer, created a YouTube video defaming the Islamic prophet Muhammad. According to The Huffington Post…

The protests were sparked by an obscure, two-hour movie titled “Innocence of Muslims,” which came to attention in Egypt after its trailer was dubbed into Arabic and posted on California real estate developer, said he wrote, produced and directed the movie.

Bacile told The Associated Press he was an Israeli Jew and an American citizen.

Israeli officials said Wednesday they had not heard of Bacile and there was no record of him being a citizen. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not permitted to share personal information with the media.

Bacile said he had not anticipated such a furious reaction. Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location, Bacile, who went into hiding Tuesday, remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that he intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion.

Bacile said he believes the movie will help his native land by exposing Islam’s flaws to the world. “Islam is a cancer, period,” he repeatedly said in a solemn, accented tone.

Israel, however, sought to distance itself from Bacile.

“It’s obvious we’ll have to be vigilant. Anything he did or said has nothing to do whatsoever with Israel. He may claim what he wants. This was not done with or for or through Israel.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said on Wednesday.

Granted, both Bissonnette and Bacile are entitled to speak their minds. I only wonder if they are prepared for the consequences which may, or may not, personally befall them, and perhaps those about whom they care, as a result of having aired their thoughts.

Do they realize that Islamic terrorists will go to any extreme, even suicide, to avenge themselves against their enemies?

The world might have been ensconced in a bubble during the Victorian Age, but we’ve come a long, long way since. What remains, however, might still be the age-old adage…”an eye for an eye.”

Maybe my blogger friend earthriderjudy has the right idea after all…

…speak no evil…hear no evil…say no evil…

………hugmamma.

(Photo credit to  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_wise_monkeys )

the past…not a crutch…more like a slingshot

Many years ago I tried to apologize to an older sibling for some unkind words I’d said in a phone call. I wrote a letter explaining my unusual behavior. Her return letter still singes the far corners of my memory. I was told to get over the past and grow up. She threw in a stinging retort, for good measure, claiming she thought I’d always envied her. Why exactly? I don’t recall if she said. I tore up the letter…and took her advice. I buried the past deep within, only speaking of it with those who don’t judge me so harshly.

Jermaine Jackson‘s biography You Are Not Alone, Michael…Through A Brother’s Eyes, is a well written commentary about growing up as one of the Jackson 5. The 446-page, paperback tome caught my eye as my husband and I killed time while awaiting our homebound flight departing Heathrow Airport on the outskirts of London.

You Are Not Alone

Image via Wikipedia

I’d not known of Jermaine’s foray into authoring a book about his famous brother. I’d seen one for sale by sister La Toya. Never a fan of hers, I passed on it. I took a chance that Jermaine’s was not going to be as self-serving as hers seemed. I’m glad I did. The biography reminded me of things I’d known, but surprised me with other, lesser known facts. Such as…

Why anyone thought my brother was incapable of fathering his own children was beyond me, as was the idea he’d use a donor when it was his personal legacy that mattered to him. I think it’s fair to say that Debbie had a dominant gene (Prince had white-blond hair when he was born) but when I look into that kid’s eyes or catch his profile side-on, his similarity to Michael as a boy is obvious. But, to nail the myth once and for all, Michael has passed on his vitiligo to Prince. My brother’s paternity is irrefutable when Prince removes his shirt. What really matters, though, is that my niece and nephews know without a shadow of a doubt that Michael was their biological father and they were born out of love.

From day one Jermaine was protective of Michael. “Maybe it was because all I heard being shouted was ‘Where’s Michael?’…’Is Michael okay?’…’Is Michael changed?’ ‘Yes, Mother…We got it…he’s here,’ one of us shouted. ‘Don’t worry. Michael’s okay. Michael’s okay.’ ”

Jackson 5 - Michael Jackson

Reading Jermaine’s words I understood that he was his brother’s keeper. I don’t doubt that all the siblings felt similarly, but he demonstrates the same sensitivitiy toward life’s ups and downs as did Michael. High one minute, low the next. Giddy at having it all, complaining when dealt some unfair blows. No different from most of us really. Their lives just played out on a bigger stage.

What resonated with me throughout this biography, as with others, is that a child’s upbringing weighs heavily in the eventual outcome of his or her life. It’s not to say its course is inevitable. Obama‘s an example of turning one’s life around. To a lesser degree, so is mine. But Obama’s past will forever be a part of his present and future, as will mine. However they can be put into proper perspective, and to good use, as building blocks for a more hopeful life ahead. We are not stuck with the hands life has dealt us.

The Jacksons, children, parents and grandchildren seem to have finally made peace with their rocky road to fame and fortune. Their strength in family ties has served them well in spite of their oft-times perceived stranglehold on certain members. Sadly all the money and adoration in the world doesn’t ensure happiness. In fact the means to have it all is like an eight-legged octopus or a Medusa’s head. The sky’s the limit becomes the modus operandi. How does one stop oneself…short of chopping off a tentacle or a head?

Joseph Jackson provided his family the escape route from the steel mills in Gary, Indiana to the moneyed Beverly Hills of California. But on the fast train out of the ghetto, Michael Jackson never learned the necessary survival skills for life’s long haul.

…too much…too soon…no time to learn…very sad…very sad, indeed

………hugmamma.  

365 photo challenge: before

''I Love Lucy

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been a while since I’ve read The Life Story of Vivian Vance.  I remember very little except that during the initial filming of the I Love Lucy show, Vivian Vance was remade according to Lucille Ball‘s liking. As the star of the sitcom, she didn’t want to be upstaged. She made certain that Vance always played second fiddle. She had to gain weight for the role, wear frumpier dresses, and agree to having William Frawley, years older, as her TV husband. Vance would’ve preferred someone younger than him. So it was no secret that they hated one another off-screen.

Actress Lucille Ball and husband, Desi Arnaz s...
Image via Wikipedia

As the years passed, Ball and Vance became life-long friends and confidantes. Especially since their marriages were sources of grief for both. Ball had a great business partner in Desi Arnaz, but a less than ideal husband because of his womanizing and alcoholism. He was not the polished, elegant sort of partner she wanted beside her in later years. Instead Arnaz was falling down drunk most of the time.

Vance’s husband, Philip Ober, was a fellow actor who belittled his wife because he was envious of her success. As a result, she spent many years in therapy because of ongoing self-doubts. The photo of her during the “Lucy” years belies the miserable life she led. The before picture, however, is Vance before fame took hold, changing her look…and her life.    

…the price of fame…worth it???………hugmamma.