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Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

Rush Limbaugh is at it again. This time he displayed his linguistic talents to the world by doing his imitation of a speaker of the Chinese language.

Rush’s insensitivities and biases are well known, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with his absolute disdain for anything and everything in the universe.

Unfortunately, a legion of arguably average Americans agree with him. That’s sad. We’re better than that but we seem intent on convincing the world otherwise with our incessant criticisms of everything beyond our borders.

And this despite the fact that almost everything American today originated elsewhere, including some of the basic principles in the U.S. Constitution. And our most revered institution, the invisible hand of the marketplace, got its start in Scotland.

As for the Chinese, we should thank them. They gave the world gun powder and more Chinese restaurants than any other country in the world.

Most Americans are probably unaware that the Chinese supported the United States against Japan in the Second World War and were instrumental in our victories on the mainland of Asia.

Today, a few department stores would probably go out of business without cheap goods from China.

And, of course, we all know that China is one of the largest holders of U.S. debt in the world. If they decide to call it in, the United States would be in deep kimchee (which, by the way, is a Korean dish).

Rush is either too ignorant to know these things or he doesn’t care if he insults more than a billion Chinese people. I lean toward the latter. Its classic Rush.

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Our trip began in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and ended on the East Coast of the U.S. We covered almost 6,000 miles and passed over and through a few time zones and temperature ranges.  Needless to say, boarding our airplane in 80-plus temperature and deplaning (love that word) in one of those unpredictable East Coast cold spells, combined with a severe case of jet lag, shocked my system. As a seasoned traveler, my buddy seemed impervious to the trip’s rigors, which irked me because I wanted him to suffer along with me.

But more than time zones and temperature ranges, we flew out of, into, and over a few Music Areas.  These aren’t parts of the country with lines delineating a clear separation of musical preferences. When you leave one music area, you won’t see a sign that reads “You are now leaving the Hawaii Music Area and  entering West Coast Blues.” And when you cross the state line from Nevada into Utah, there will be no proclamations about “Entering Mormon Pop Area.” (I am not making this up.)

In fact, when traveling by air, you will lift off from one Music Area and hit the tarmac at the other end in a Music Area distinctly different from the one you just left. For example, we departed from the Hawaii Music Area and landed first in San Francisco. What preferred musical styles and genres did we leave behind and which ones did we encounter at our intermediate and final destinations?

The Hawaii Music Area
The modern music of Hawaii includes just about any genre you want to name, rock, hip hop, reggae, Jawaiian, and, of course, Hawaiian music. The local groups that become popular in the state seem to manage an amalgamation of the old and the new with sounds that appeal not only to the local population but also to the influx of tourists from the Mainland U.S. as well as from Asia. A listen up and down the radio dial will bring you the modern sounds of U.S. pop, Hawaiian, Country and Western, Japanese, Korean, Samoan, and some easy listening Frank Sinatra recordings. Maybe “eclectic” would be an apt label for the Hawaii Music Zone.

The San Francisco Bay-Area Music Zone
The San Francisco Bay Area Music Zone is also eclectic but with a slightly different emphasis on preferred styles. Although we remained inside the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and thus had no opportunity to get out and around the city, we were somewhat familiar with the music. Many of you will remember The San Francisco Sound personified by the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, not to forget Santana and Journey. But long before The San Francisco Sound of the 1960s, San Francisco was a Mecca of blues, jazz, and Dixieland. Perhaps the personification of that era was Turk Murphy and his Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band, which played for many years in San Francisco. Oddly, or not as you see the world, the Bay Area has its Country-Western and Bluegrass aficionados, hangovers, perhaps, of the millions of World War II and Korean War servicemen and women from the South who transited San Francisco and other points in the Bay Area on their way to war zones in Asia. As for modern musical genres, some sources include a multitude of styles, including Skacore, Deathrock, and Cowpunk. However, confined as we were to SFOs terminal, the only local music we were exposed to at one a.m. consisted solely of elevator music.

The Washington, D.C. Music Area
Dulles Airport was the last stop on our flight and we were in and out of the airport and the surrounding area in a heartbeat. We didn’t have the luxury of pausing to soak up a little local culture because we were on our way to a Mother’s Day dinner in a distant corner of the Washington Metropolitan Area. But a quick look at a few internet sources made it clear that the music of the area consisted of more than the bleating, whining, and lying sounds of politicians. Today, the area is known for its hardcore punk, Bluegrass, and varieties of hip hop. At one time, however, in the distant past, the area was noted for the marches of John Philip Sousa and, later, swing bands such as Duke Ellington’s and vocalists like Roberta Flack. D.C. also has a plethora of symphonic venues, which, along with Bluegrass, seem to have an elitist tinge to them. We are, after all, surrounded by the most powerful individuals in the world. Dress and decorum must be maintained at all times, or at least shed only for the lying times when politicians return to their home music zones for the express purpose of pretending to be members of the lower economic classes just like everyone else. Washington, D.C. is, if nothing else, home to the highest per capita population of deceiving liars in the universe. Can we expect them to be honest about their musical preferences?

Postscript
Of course, there are more Music Areas than I have talked about in this post. There is the Tejano sound of the Southwest, the nasal sounds of Appalachia, the soothing sounds of Montana cowboys crooning to their cows, and the Southern blues sounds of the Mississippi Delta. For a more complete treatment of Music Areas, see Wikipedia.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I use “Music Area” and “Music Zone” interchangeably. I have no other reason for this idiosyncratic preference but  to avoid using the word “Area” too often. It just doesn’t sound right to say “The San Francisco Bay Area Music Area.”

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Mine are few because I never seem able to keep them anyway. But just in case God is making a list of good intentions in preparation for paving the road to Hell, here are a few.

  1. This is both a look-back and a look forward vow. I am never going to read those ubiquitous summaries of the events of the past year. And if one suddenly appears before me on a television show, I’m switching immediately to The History Channel for a refresher on Sex in World War II.
  2. I will speak kindly of those around me, except politicians, Big-3 CEOs, Wall Street Bankers, Joe the Plumber, and George Brash. Oh, and put Dick Cheney on the list. However, I’m speaking kindly of Sarah Palin because she deserves a little respect even if it is pretense. Besides, she’s good looking and we all know good looking people deserve our attention.
  3. I plan to spend a lot of time talking about Jerry Brown to the exclusion of other pretenders to the California Governor’s Chair. Jerry is just plain fun to listen to. And what’s life all about if we can’t have a funny governor now and then?
  4. I am going to purge my Facebook Friends list of politicians, at least the ones who flood the Facebook News Feed with gobs of items. Oh, and henceforth, any politician who fails to respond to one of my Comments on his or her page is out automatically. I resent people who resent being called jerks. Besides, I have a hunch politicians aren’t directly involved in their Facebook pages anyway. Some low-level unpaid aide probably spends 24/7 scouring the internet for names to make it seem the politician is popular despite common knowledge to the contrary.
  5. Finally, I resolve that I might think about relocating to Nevada, to a place like Fallon or Fernley or Paradise Valley. These are tiny, isolated communities perfect for someone like me who craves the relationship between man and reptile, a man who loves the heat and numbing cold under a Western sky. Paradise Valley is especially alluring. It’s listed as a Nevada Ghost Town, but apparently somebody around there votes. The town is a Humboldt County Polling Precinct. Ghost voting isn’t unusual in the world of hardball politics, especially in That Toddlin’ Town. But I have a hunch some real live humans, along with a whole lot of cows and horses live and vote in Paradise Valley despite its classification as a ghost town.

Those are just a few of my favorite resolutions for the year 2009. This list may be changed at my option.

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Here’s a quote from the article with that headline:

Public esteem for the Congress is falling, and today it is probably lower than ever before in our history.

I looked in vain for a mention of Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, but there was none. As far as the author was concerned they didn’t exist.

His ignorance is excusable, however. The article appeared in the October 22, 1942, issue of the Reader’s Digest. At the time, Nancy was two years old and Harry three.

This relic of another age (the Digest, not Nancy or Harry) magically appeared on the bottom shelf of a small library in my home, squirreled between a book about the Three Stooges and the Art of War by Sun Tzu. When, where, or how it got there is a puzzle.

Nevertheless, I thought it interesting and browsed through its list of article titles. The first one my eye caught was the Congress thing. How apropos, I thought. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

All told, there were about 37 articles. The subject of war was paramount. That’s understandable because the Second World War, which had begun in December 1941, was barely three months old. Some representative war titles were:

  • Our “Impossible” War. The article was essentially an attack on the naysayers who argued against the war.
  • Wanted: Air Assault on Germany Now. The article opened with a reputed complaint from some British that American planes provided to Britain were shoddy. The author proceeded to debunk those claims.
  • Sex as a Nazi Weapon. Nazi strategy was essentially birth control among the non-Aryan peoples under Nazi occupation and enhanced fecundity among tall, blonde, blue-eyed Nordics, an odd policy considering that Hitler and most of his henchmen were rather swarthy.

Almost all of the remaining articles related to the conflict. War production and home-front contributions to the war effort were common themes along with the usual Digest features such as quizzes, word meanings, and anecdotes.

The Digest is still around but the only places I’ve seen one has been in a waiting room or at a checkout line in Long’s Drugs. If the thrust and tone of the magazine have changed between 1942 and 2001, it’s mainly in a sophisticated 21st Century layout. Today you can find a large-print edition for the weak of eye. Personally, I’ll take the internet.

Explanatory B.S. This is something I worked on a long time ago and filed on my laptop. It’s as good a memory as most on a very rainy and dreary day.

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SFist ran a blurb today about a shooting at the college. The shooter is unknown and a large-scale manhunt is underway.

The article drew my attention for a couple of reasons. The college sits on a site that once was known as El Portal Park, originally a World War II housing area for defense workers employed by the old Kaiser shipyards in Richmond.

Later the buildings were rented to returning veterans. At one time, my family lived there and surprisingly some of the old two-story barracks-style buildings and a few one story structures are still standing next to the college campus.

But the interesting part of SFist’s post was a single comment, quoted here for its pithy truths: “ever done time at a junior college in coco county. It’s high school with a bigger quad.”

I’ve often referred to community colleges as “grade twelve and a half.” Those I am familiar with have overly liberal grading policies, which have effectively rendered the grade of F redundant. Why would a college include F as a grading option when it is never used, or when it is, the student inevitably appeals successfully to a higher authority? Voila! Goodbye F, hello D (or higher).

Of course this is exaggeration, but not by much. The state of education in America today is widely regarded as abominable. A real undergraduate education doesn’t begin until graduate school. The prior four years have been one extended spring break.

On reflection, I should have screwed off and spent my time at SRJC inebriated. The outcome would have been the same.

Come to think of it, I did.

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