The nice thing about a miserable rainy day like the one we’re getting in Alexandria is that it makes one glad to be stuck at home…
1. Book reviews I didn’t finish reading…In fact, I never got past the first sentence of the review of “Hitler’s First 100 Days” by Peter Fritzke. The title of the review is “How Hitler Transformed a Democracy Into a Tyranny,” so I suspected this would be in the metaphorical wind” the review begins, “How does the rise of Hitler look since the rise of Donald Trump?”
The Times book reviewer is an Oxford professor of history. This is a particularly asinine opening for a book review now, when the President is being regularly criticized for not being autocratic enough. One would think that of all the Big Lies the news media has been broadcasting since November 2016, “Trump is Hitler” would have revealed itself as the most contrived. The “resistance,” however, is at war with reality as well as democracy.
I’ve got the online version of the review right here—let me skim it quickly to see if the actual book contains any discussion of the Trump administration at all. Let’s see…apparently not, which isn’t surprising since this is a book entirely about Germany. Nonetheless, the reviewer—what happened to the British?—makes this observation toward the end:
“This use of theatrical choruses was innovative 90 years ago, but making such agitprop sound snappy to a contemporary ear is tricky. As Fritzsche describes a rally where the speaker railed against the Weimar system and its politicians, he translates the audience’s chorus as “Hang them up! Bust their ass!” The pre-echo of “Lock her up!” is audible.”
Audible to you, perhaps, you jackass. First, the use of crowd chants in political rallies and during speeches was ancient and a standard device when the Nazis employed it. Second, there is no similarity at all between the ominous Nazi chant and “Lock her up!” The Nazis were advocating executing and beating up those who opposed them, and they did just that. “Lock her up!,” while still ugly, was a direct reference to that fact that Hillary Clinton had deliberately broken national security policies for her own benefit, and was counting on, as usual, skating clear of punishment—which, in fact, is exactly what happened.
2. At least it wasn’t the police doing the shooting...At least, I don’t think so. In California, where there is a social distancing order banning nonessential gatherings of any number of poeple, a defiant party in Bakersfield estimated at 400 guests “came to a bad end” in the words of local law enforcement when six people were shot. It is believed to have been a drive-by shooting.
3. “Where have you gone, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean?” On a late night rerun of a “Murder She Wrote” episode yesterday, the murder victim was played by Jimmy Dean, the country music star and sausage impresario. (Dean’s autobiography was called, “Thirty Years of Sausage, Thirty Years of Ham.”) I was intrigued; Dean has become a zombie pitch man, as Jimmy Dean Sausages (which the performer sold to Sara Lee long before his death in 2010) has recently been using his image and voice in its TV ads. He didn’t act that often, and sure enough, the guest spot in the Angela Lansbury mystery show was his final screen appearance.
I learned some interesting facts about Jimmy, who was, it seems, a generous and well-loved man. He was a Virginian, and had radio and TV shows locally (including in D.C.) that introduced many country music performers to the public. Dean launched the careers of both Patsy Cline, from Winchester, Virginia, and his band’s lead guitarist, Roy Clark on those shows. When he hosted his ABC variety series from 1963 to1966, he continued introducing country talent to mainstream audiences, vastly increasing the exposure and popularity of Carl Smith, Buck Owens, Hank Snow, Charlie Rich, Hank Thompson, Roger Miller, and George Jones among others.
However, Dean’s biggest impact on pop culture may have come from his show’s using a puppeteer previously associated with children’s television, Jim Henson, and his piano-playing Muppet dog, Rowlf. Henson was so grateful to Dean for the boost the national exposure gave to the Muppets that he offered him a 40% interest in his infant production company. Jimmy Dean turned the gift down. “I couldn’t have done that to save my life,” Dean told an interviewer who asked him about the episode in 2004. “I didn’t do anything to earn that. If I had done something to earn it I would have said, ‘Alright, fine.’ But I didn’t. A lot of people have said, ‘Well, I’ll bet you’re sorry now.’ No, I am not. Because I couldn’t have lived with me. I’ve got to do things that let me live with me and shave my face in the morning.”
Jimmy did all right, even without owning almost half of the Muppets. When he died. his estate was estimated at about $50 million.