Jimmy Durante was born on this day in 1893 (“The Snozzola” died 87 years later, in 1980. He’s a semi-regular around here, because it’s Jimmy’s famous line from “Jumbo” (1935) (“Elephant? What elephant?”) that describes the Ethics Alarms offense of resolutely refusing to admit an ethic breach that cannot be denied.
My father was a lifetime admirer of Jimmy, and eventually I joined him: we had all of his albums, and as a stage director I often played his renditions of a ballad (like “I’ll Be Seeing You”) for singers to demonstrate the importance of phrasing and expression, both of which Durante excelled at despite having a distinctive but hardly euphonious voice. He also impressed me with his professionalism. When my father was handling marketing for a Boston banking association, he helped arrange for his organization to be one of the sponsors of Jimmy’s show, which came to the Prudential Center in Boston. The Snozz was over 70 then, but he always seemed ageless, and his energy in person was even more impressive than it was on TV (in fact, Durante had learned to tone down his enthusiasm on the small screen, because it became exhausting to watch). He made his entrance in the stage show rushing on from the wings while singing and flinging his fedora to the back of the stage, where it landed neatly on the head of his band’s bald drummer. My father managed to get our family backstage (though Jimmy was not available because he had a charity appearance right after the show) and I talked to the drummer. I asked him how often Jimmy landed the hat on his head. He replied, “He’s never missed.” He went on to say that his boss rehearsed that bit for hours every week and before every show. It was a split second grace note, but Jimmy insisted on doing it perfectly.
Durante had a stroke after a show when he was almost 80, and never fully recovered. My father, who was uncomfortable expressing emotion face to face but wrote beautiful and touching letters (I hated getting them because they always made me cry; still do), wrote Jimmy, who was then bedridden, a letter thanking him his long entertainment career and explained what his work had meant to Dad. Jimmy’s wife Margie wrote back to say she had read the letter to Jimmy, and he had mouthed the words “Thank you.”
1. Politicizing everything. UCLA’s star gymnast Nia Dennis is getting accolades for turning her floor routine into an ” exuberant and powerful celebration” of black culture. Says Slate, “This routine has everything. Dennis pays tribute to Colin Kaepernick (she kneels!), Tommie Smith and John Carlos (she raises a fist!), and Kamala Harris (like a soror, she strolls and she steps!).” That’s funny: the only way I would recognize a reference to Harris would be if Nia cackled and blathered nonsense. The routine is more dance than gymnastics, but it’s a diabolical gimmick (don’t blame Nia: she has a woke choreographer, Bjoya Das). Any judge that doesn’t give the routine the highest marks knows he or she will be cancelled as a virulent racist.
2. Then there’s the Jeep ad…I’m not going to bother with surveying the ethically dubious Super Bowl ads this year, since they all are unethical for supporting the NFL’s ongoing negligent homicide, but I can’t let Bruce Springsteen’s obnoxious Jeep ad pass. Here it is:
[Whoa! That video was pulled from YouTube shortly after I posted it! I also can’t find a link that has it.]
“To The ReUnited States Of America.” Right. Springsteen is hardly an honest advocate for “the middle,” as a vocal Democrat and anti-Trump shill. The country is supposedly “re-united” because a Democrat is President. The entire theme of the ad is a cynical exercise in Rationalization #64, “It isn’t what it is.” Donald Trump was “divisive” because Democrats decided to paint him as such. Enforcing immigration laws shouldn’t be divisive. Withdrawing from an unapproved treaty with no actual impact shouldn’t be divisive. Calling the biased news media what it is shouldn’t be divisive. Now, calling half the country racists , Nazis and morons IS divisive, and the party that just won control of Congress and the White House has been doing that for four years. Surveys show that that half of the country is more angry, alienated and distrustful than ever, and for some very good reasons, like the current unconstitutional impeachment trial. Got it, Bruce: when Republicans win a national election it’s divisive,and when Democrats win one, it’s unifying.
Update: Apparently Jeep has received so many complaints about Bruce that they decided it was a major gaffe. How can this happen? It happens when the entire company and its ad agency is so overloaded with Democrats and progressives that they can’t see what’s right in front of them.
3. Unifying! The Dallas Mavericks will not play the National Anthem prior to home games this season, presumably because it has become an opportunity for indignant and ill-informed black millionaires to insult their nation and a large number of the team’s fans. Based on most of the comments on team owner Mark Cuban’s decision, the average fan doesn’t understand the motive for his move and is blaming him for being “anti-American.” Sample: “Wow! Another self aggrandizing Yellow belly squalor crawling pink panty wearing lollipop licking pony tail wearing hop scotching left wing loser. Period!”
Morons. If you don’t want every game to start with a Black Lives Matter commercial and an insult to veterans, patriots, Francis Scott Key and the Founders, there are two choices: tell the players to do their political grandstanding on their own time, or stop providing an opportunity for them to express their political views. Obviously the first is the right choice, but the craven sports leagues don’t have the guts for that. Cuban’s choice is reasonable.
4. Tales of the Niggardly Principle.
- In Coon Rapids, Minnesota, a survey is asking residents if they would support changing the city’s name. In the 1800s, Coon Rapids was known as a place where land owners would hunt raccoons, hence the name. But people have gotten dumber since then, or divisive activists (Don’t buy Jeeps!) want to show they can bend communities to their paranoia by claiming offense at something that isn’t offensive. This is getting easier by the minute, since the editor of New York Times has decreed “We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent.” I had a friend whose last name was Coon; I guess he’ll just have to change his name or be thrown in the gulag. [Pointer: JutGory]
- In the New York Times “Spelling Bee” puzzle, in which you have to find words by linking the letters, there was this entry:
Ann Althouse reports that “chink” was not permitted. (In an earlier puzzle, “coon” was declared a non-word.) Racist, you know. Except that the main definition of “chink” has nothing to do with race. She also noted that even though the puzzle in the Times banned “chink,” the paper used the word with its proper meaning nine times in 2020.
- Althouse, meanwhile, was under fire by some of her commenters for refusing to use the word “nigger” when talking about the word “nigger.” Her defense: “I think once you’ve been informed that something makes some other people feel bad, you need a good reason to keep doing it.”
Lame, Ann. Here’s a good reason: I refuse to allow other people to control my ability to express thoughts and ideas based on their announced “feelings.” Someone’s feelings that a sound wounds them is their problem, not mine. When they use their (often contrived and insincere) “bad feelings” to presume to control me, that is my problem, and my response is to resist their efforts.