Saturday, March 06, 2021

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night- Growing Up Absurd In The 1950s- Be-Bop The Adventure Car Hop

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night- Growing Up Absurd In The 1950s- Be-Bop The Adventure Car Hop

YouTube film clip of Johnny Ace performing his classic Pledging My Love.

From The Archives Of Allan Jackson

[I am sure the attentive reader if he or she has been following this great stone-etched series about one sliver of the 1960s, a time whose demographics component is ebbing more quickly that we would like has noticed the attributions of the past few sketches in the series has shifted from Frank Jackson to the real originator and guiding light of the project the former site manager here Allan Jackson. The resulted from an agreement between the new site manager Greg Green and one of Allan’s oldest friends Sam Lowell after Allan went crazy when he found out that he was effectively a “non-person” around here and Greg was using a replay of the series to pacify the old readership base after a few foolhardy experiments trying to reach the youth panned out miserably. Go back into the archives dated February 10, 2017 to get the whole story on what had happened in the dispute that brought Allan low after years as king pin and cranky muse if a man can be a muse and these days why not.  

What I bring today is news that Allan is still alive and kicking despite a lot of rumors that he had bit the dust and other unsavory things some of which actually were true although distorted a bit as such things will when the rumor mills fly. I, and Sam Lowell as well, traced Allan to Bar Harbor, Maine his old stomping grounds as he got older after contacting his third ex-wife to see if she had gotten a recent alimony check from him. She had and through her we were able to piece together that he was not out West, not then anyway although he had been in the immediate aftermath of the “purge” but in Maine once she mentioned that he had asked her to “come up” to see him. That was all we needed  

Well not quite all since as part of that internal struggle at this publication there might have been some residual bad blood against Sam Lowell on Allan’s part despite Sam’s intervention with Greg to get Allan some recognition on this series. See Sam, who goes all the way back to junior high days with Allan whereas I only met him in high school through the Scribe, had cast the deciding negative vote in that line-up of sides. Had sided with the younger writers under the understanding that the “torch needed to be passed” and that expecting guys and gals who were not born or who were in elementary school to “give a fuck” (Sam’s term) about the 1960s to the exclusion of other interests was bizarre and counter-productive. When we did get to Bar Harbor, to a condo Allan was renting, all that fell away. Allan and Sam, far more than me who married a bit early and got caught up with family life and starting a Toyota dealership, were used to the vagaries of the radical faction fights in the 1960s and he had the good graces to accept his defeat and his “purge.” Everybody, every old writer, agreed that it was a purge and so it will be henceforth recorded that way as we stream through this series.

What Allan did not take with good graces was what Greg did in the aftermath of the internal fight as he told us one night at Dougie’s his, our favorite bar in the town. Greg had come over from American Film Gazette in 2015 to take over the day to day operations and “won” the prize full-time when Allan was defeated. Allan had picked him because he had worked there at one time and was impressed with Greg’s skills as manager. The internal struggle was so fierce, so personal that Greg became a bit unhinged afterward, was bitter. Allan, who still felt he had something left in the publishing world (and still needed checks to ex-wives and tuitions for the last of his brood) went to New York and then California looking for work, basically anything to keep the wolves from the door. No sale. Reason? One Greg Green had put the whammy on him, had put the kiss of death on him in a cutthroat industry, said Allan was “hard to work with” So in a funny way, a funny modern way, Greg did play the old time Stalin role in the Stalin-Trotsky dispute to the death. That is the way we all read the thing after a half dozen high shelf Dougie whiskeys anyway. More later read this sketch now. Jack Callahan]            
No question if you were alive in the 1950s in America, and maybe in other countries too for all I know but I think that this is truly an American phenomenon, alive meaning of course if you were young, say between twelve and twenty- five no older because then you hovered too close to being parents and hence, well hence, square the golden age of the automobile met the golden age of al fresco dining, okay, okay low end pre-Big Mac dining. Sorry, I got carried away. Golden Age eating outdoors, well, not really outdoors but in your Golden Age automobile at the local drive-in restaurant (not drive through like today but that may have been true too).

See the idea was that a young guy, maybe a guy who was a wiz at fixing up cars and who had retro-fitted, dual carb-fitted, low-slung wheels-fitted, amp-fitted some broken down wreak and made it a “boss” car, like a ‘57 Chevy or Dodge or some nerdy young guy who had two left hands and had borrowed his father’s blah-blah family car for the night would bring his date to the drive-in restaurant and did not give a damn about the cuisine or the ambience against sitting in that car all private and all to munch on burgers and fries. And be seen in that “boss” car or in the case of the father-borrowed car just to be seen with his date. Be seen by the million and one young guys, maybe guys who were also wizzes at fixing up cars and who had also retro-fitted, dual carb-fitted, low-slung wheels-fitted, amp-fitted some broken down wreak and made it a “boss” car, like a ‘57 Chevy or ‘59 Dodge or some nerdy young guys who had two left hands and had borrowed their father’s blah-blah family car for the night would bring their dates to the drive-in restaurant and did not give a damn about the cuisine or the ambience against sitting in those cars all private and all to munch on burgers and fries. Also to be seen and to be placed in the high school pecking order accordingly. Or if not in high school (but also not over twenty-five remember) to be paid homage for surviving that chore, and for knowing the ropes, knowing the signposts in the drive-in restaurant night.     

Once my old friend Jack Lowell had put golden age automobile and golden age dining out together one night, really early one morning, when he was feeling a little melancholy for the old days, and when he had had too much whiskey, all that needed to be added was to say that Eddie, Eddie Connell, would have been out, out once again some night, some weekend night more than likely with his everlovin’ Ginny, Virginia Stone, in the Clintondale 1950s be-bop night, having a little something to eat at the Adventure Car Hop, that burgers and fries eternal youth night out dining combo (did I mention a Coke or Pepsi, if I did not then those were the standard drinks to wash those hard-hearted burgers and those fat-saturated fries down) after a hard night of dancing to the local rockers down in Hullsville and afterward a bout down at Adamsville Beach located a couple of towns over and so filled with Clintondale and other young couples seeking some privacy from watchful town eyes, in the “submarine race” watching night.
Jack had good reason to want to talk about his best friend back then Eddie, about his “boss” ’57 two-toned, white and green, Chevy, and especially about his girl, his Ginny, since in the love wars Ginny had thrown him over for Eddie, had chosen Eddie’s souped-up car over Jack’s walking feet when the deal went down. Yeah, Eddie and Jack had still remained friends, had still been simpatico despite the girl mess-up. See just before the Ginny swap Jack had taken Ellen Riley, formerly the head cheer-leader at Clintondale High back in 1955, the year they all, Jack, Eddie, Ginny, and Ellen if you are keeping count, had graduated away from Eddie. So all was fair in love and war.  Although Jack had thought it was just slightly unfair that Ellen had subsequently thrown him over, Jack the struggling college student with no dough and no car just like he had been in high school, for a guy from Hullsville because she did not want to wait to get married until after he graduated and she empathically was tired unto death of walking (or worse, riding that clunky old Eastern Transit bus which was always late and did not run after midnight just in case they had something going down at the beach or after the Hullsville dance got out) when her father handed down car had gone to the graveyard and they had no car between them.      

But maybe Jack had better fill a candid world in on a couple of things to back up why he wanted to talk about Eddie and Ginny that night. Was feeling just a little pang after all those years for having let Ginny go so easily. Jack and Eddie had known each other since the old days at Clintondale North Elementary and had been through thick and thin together (that “thin” usually revolved around girls, starting with Rosalind in the fifth grade who had eventually thrown them both over for a kid, Ricky Kelly, Jesus, wimpy Ricky Kelly, in the sixth grade). In high school they had drifted apart for a while when Eddie decided that since he was no student that he would take up automotive mechanics and Jack with two left hands pursued the college course. Drifted apart until come sixteen Eddie, who proved to be a an ace mechanic, a natural, had fixed up some old Hudson that he found in the junkyard and made it a “boss” (Jack adamantly refused to define that term “boss” for that candid world since some things are, or should be, self-evident). That vehicle had been a “fox” lure (girls, okay) all through high school for both young men, except those times when Eddie wanted to take his girl of the week to Adamsville Beach and wanted to use the back seat alone with said honey.  And then go to the Adventure Car Hop for a little something to eat before taking her home.

That all worked well enough in high school since neither young man had any serious relationships. Then after high school the workaday world hit Eddie and he took a job at Duggan Brothers Garage and Jack went off to the local college, Gloversville State, on a scholarship while continuing to live at home. One night when Jack was a sophomore at Gloversville he and Eddie, Eddie with the ’57 “boss” Chevy then, went to a rock and roll dance down in Hullsville arranged for those still under twenty-one and who could not legally drink (of course there was more booze than you could shake a stick at out in the parking lot which faced Hullsville Beach but that is a another story) and that is where Jack met Ginny, a former classmate whom he had not known in school because, well, because as she told him that night she did not then have anything to do with “corner boys,” so had met her, had talked to her, had danced with her and afterward they and Eddie and a girl he picked up at the dance, not Ellen, had gone to the Adventure Car Hop for the first time together to grab a bite to eat before going home. Strangely Ginny, although she grew up in Clintondale, had never been there before considering it nothing but a male “hang-out” scene (which at some level Jack admitted to her was true).

And so started the love affair between Jack and Ginny, although according to Jack the thing had many rocky moments from the start on the question of Jack, poor boy Jack, not having his own car, having to either double-date with Eddie, whom she did not like then, or worse, walk when Eddie had his back seat wanting habits on. And her carping at Jack for not wanting to quit college to get married and start a family right away (Ginny had not gone on to school after high school and went to work in Boston for John Hancock Insurance where she was moving up in the organization). And that went on for a while. Meanwhile Eddie had taken up with Ellen, whom he had not known in high school either, nor had Jack, because as she told Eddie “she was into football players with a future, not grease monkeys.” She saw the error of her ways when she had brought her car in for repairs and Eddie worked on the car, and on her. She was going to Adamsville Junior College right down the road but she saw something in Eddie, for a while. Then, although they all had double-dated together she “hit” on Sam one night, wound up going to bed with him a few weeks later down in Cape Cod, where she shared a cottage with six other college classmates for the summer, when Eddie had to go out of town for a couple of weeks to a GM training school and that was that.                      

Of course once the news got around, and in small city Clintondale that did not take long, especially with those summer roommates of hers, of Jack and Ellen to reach Ginny, and Eddie all bets were off. Ginny brushed Jack off with a solo telephone call to him in which she terminated their affair after about three sentences with a “I don’t want to discuss it further, I want to end this conversation,” yeah, the big brush-off. Ellen told Eddie that they were done and while he feigned being hurt about it the truth was that he had not been all that happy with her of late, thought she was drifting away from him when she decided against his protests to go in on that summer cottage. And so they parted, although Eddie was a little sore at Jack for a while, as usual when they mixed it up with their women. One day Eddie saw Ginny waiting for the bus, that damn Eastern Transport bus, one afternoon and took her on the “rebound” (although don’t expect him to use that word about or around Ginny, just don’t). Ginny, for her part, decided that Eddie wasn’t so bad after all, and he did have that “boss” car and when they talked about it one night after they had hit the silk sheets was not adverse to the idea of marriage. And so their thing went in the Clintondale night for a while. Let’s hone in on what Eddie and Ginny were up to that long ago night Jack talked about when he got the blues about the old days, okay.  

“Two hamburgers, all the trimmings, two fries, two Cokes, Sissy,” rasped half-whispering Eddie Connell to Adventure Car Hop number one primo car hop Sissy Jordan. Eddie and Sissy had known each other forever. Sissy had been Eddie’s girlfriend back in junior high days, back in eight-grade at Clintondale South Junior High when he learned a thing or two about girls, about girl charms and girl bewilderments. And Sissy had been his instructor, although like all such early bracings with the opposite sex there was as much misinformation and confusion as intimacy since nobody, no parent, no teacher, and no preacher was cluing any kids in, except some lame talk about the birds and the bees, kids’ stuff. Things, as happens all the time in teen love, had not worked out between them. Had not worked out as well because by ninth grade blossoming Sissy was to be found sitting in the front seat of senior football halfback Jimmy Jenkin’s two-toned souped-up Hudson and Sissy had no time for mere boys then. Such is life.   

For those who know not of Adventure Car Hop places or car hops here is a quick primer. These drive-in restaurants in the 1950s were of a piece, all glitter in the night (they lost a lot of allure seen passing by in the day and could have been any diner USA at those hours), all neon lights aglow that could be seen from a mile away as you headed out Route 3 from Clintondale Center, a small shopping area eventually replaced as the place to shop by the Gloversville Mall. The neon lights spelling out Adventure Car Hop super-imposed on an outline of a comely car hop also in neon meant, well, meant adventure, mystery, oh hell, sex. So any given Friday or Saturday night and in summer almost any night you would see the place packed with all kinds of youth cars in each striped slot. In summer the walkers, and almost every kid, girl or boy, had done the walk there before coming of car age could sit and eat their meals on the wooden picnic tables the management provided. In winter they could go inside and sit at the vinyl-cushioned booths and order their meals while listening to the latest hits on the jukebox. Or if single, and that was rare, there were swiveling red vinyl-topped stools to sit at. Sit at and view Mel, Lenny, or Benny (the owner) pulling short order cook duty behind a metallic counter and view as well, get an eyeful if you thought about it, of the really comely car hops doing their frenetic best to keep up with the orders (and since space was at a premium avoid bumping into each other with big orders of drinks on their trays). Really thought if you went from Bangor to LaJolla you would see the same basic set-up so you would never have to worry about a place to go at night at least anywhere in America where ill-disposed parents would not be found in those precincts. 

The Adventure Car Hop, the only such place in town and therefore a magnet for everybody from about twelve to twenty-something was (now long gone and the site of a small office park)  nothing but an old time drive-in restaurant where the car hop personally took your order from you while you were  sitting in your “boss” car. Hopefully boss car, although the lot the night Jack thought about how Eddie and Ginny graced the place had been filled with dads’ borrowed cars, strictly not boss, not boss at all.  Sitting with your “boss” girl (you had better have called her that or the next week she would be somebody else’s “boss” honey). And the place became a rite of passage for Jack’s youngest brother Sam several years later even though the family had moved to Adamsville by then.  That luscious car hop would return to you after, well, it depended on how busy it was, and just then around midnight this was Adventure Car Hop busy time, with your order on a tray which attached to your door. By the way families, parents alone without children, or anybody else over twenty-something either gave the place a wide berth or only went there during the day when no self-respecting young person, with or without a car or a date, would be seen dead there, certainly not to eat the food. Jesus no. 

Now Sissy, a little older then than most Clintondale car hops at twenty-two, had turned into nothing but a career waitress, a foxy one still, but a waitress which was all a car hop really was. Except most car hops at Adventure Car Hop were "slumming” through senior-hood at Clintondale High or were freshman at some local college and were just trying to make some extra money for this and that while being beautiful. Because, and there was no scientific proof for this, but none was needed, at Adventure Car Hop in the year 1959 every car hop had been a fox (that beautiful just mentioned), a double fox on some nights, in their red short shorts, tight white blouses, and funny-shaped red and white box hats. And Sissy topped the list. Here though is where Sissy made a wrong turn, made her a career waitress (and made Eddie feel sorry for her, or at least sorry for losing her instruction back in ninth grade to some damn old football player). She had let Jimmy Jenkins have his way with her too many times, too many unprotected times (again in the ignorance 1950s, in Clintondale at least, the fine points of contraception, or even cautious use of rubbers was a book sealed with seven seals mostly), and when she was a senior at Clintondale High back in 1955 (and Jimmy was up at State U playing football and also having off-hand quite ignorant sex with a few adoring college girlfriends on the side). So that year she had had to drop out of school to have a baby (Jack said they called it “gone to Aunt Ella’s” and once a girl was not seen for a while someone would use that term and that was all that was needed to be said, except the occasional sighing about a good girl gone wrong or scorn from the prissy girls who allegedly were saving “it” for marriage). But see Jimmy, caddish Jimmy, left Sissy in the lurch, would not marry her or provide for the child (what the hell he was a student, he had no dough even if he had been willing to do the honorable thing, which he was not) and so she never went back to finish up after that visit to Aunt Ella. She had latched onto the job at Adventure Car Hop to support her child since Benny could have cared less about her maternal status as long as she showed those long legs, those firm breasts, those ruby-red lips and those dazzling blue eyes to great effect in those shorts and tight blouse that kept the boys coming in, even the boys with dates. Yeah, so he could care less for as long as she could keep eyes turned her way. But the story, an old story in town since there were a couple of “role models,” Jenny and Delores working at Jimmy Jack’s Diner over on East Main who followed this career path after having children out of wedlock. And thus all the signs told that career waitress was to be Sissy’s fate, maybe not at that place but probably she would wind up at Jimmy Jack’s or some truck stop diner on the outside of town with a trying too hard too tight steam-sweated uniform, stubby pencil in her hair, a wad of gum in her mouth, still fending off, mostly fending off except when she got the urge or felt lonely for a man, lonesome trucker advances.          

But back to the 1959 be-bop night, the be-bop Friday or Saturday night when those car hops, those foxes, were magnets for every guy with a car, a boss one or a father’s car it did not matter but without girls filling the seats, especially the front seat, hoping against hope for a moment with one of those car hops. And for car guys with girls in those front seats looking to show off their girls, claiming they were foxier, while sneaking furtive glances toward the bustling car hops, even than the car hops, if that was possible, and it usually wasn’t. Although under no conditions let them know that if you wanted a date next week and not the freeze-out not home treatment. More importantly, to show off their “boss cars.” And playing, playing loudly for all within one hundred yards to hear, their souped-up car radio complexes, turned nightly in rock heaven’s WJDA, the radio station choice of everyone under the age of thirty.

As Jack honed in on that remembrance night on Eddie's super-duplex speaker combo The Dell-Vikings were singing their hit, Black Slacks, and some walkers were crooning along to the tune. Yes, if you can believe this, some guys and girls, some lame guys and girls, not junior high kids who couldn’t drive anyway but over sixteen high school students actually walked to the Adventure Car Hop to grab something to eat after the Clintondale Majestic Theater let out. They, of course, ate at the thoughtfully provided picnic tables although their orders were still taken by Sissy’s leggy brigade. Nicely served by those tip-hungry car hops just like real customers with a glimmer of nighttime social standing, although they were still nothing but lamos in the real night social order.
But, getting back to Eddie and Ginny, see Sissy would have known something that you and I would not have known, could not have known, just by the way Eddie placed his order as The Falcon’s doo wop serenade, Your So Fine, blared away from his radio in the fading night. Sissy knew because, being a fox she had had plenty of experience knowing the drive-in restaurant protocol after the battles had subsided down at Adamsville or Hullsville Beach “submarine watching” night, including with Eddie in the days, the junior high days when she and Eddie were nothing but lamo car-less walkers. And what she knew was that Eddie and Ginny, who had been nothing but a “stick” when Eddie and she were an item, a stick being a girl, a twelve or thirteen year old junior high school girl with no “shape,” unlike Sissy who did have a shape, although no question, no question even to Sissy Ginny had a shape now, not as good as hers but a shape good enough to keep Eddie snagged, had been "doing it” down at Hullsville Beach. Doing “it” after spending the early part of the evening at the Surf, the local rock dance hall for those over twenty-one (and where liquor was served). The tip-off: Eddie’s request for all the trimmings on his hamburgers. All the trimmings in this case being mustard, ketchup, pickles, lettuce, and here is the clincher, onions. Yes, Eddie and Ginny are done with love’s chores for the evening and can now revert to primal culinary needs without rancor, or concern.
Sissy had to laugh at how ritualized, although she would never have used such a word herself, may have not been up on her sociological jargon, to describe what was going on in the youthful night life in Clintondale (including the really just slightly older set like the clients of the Surf rock club, Eddie and Ginny, who had learned the ropes at Adventure Car Hop way back when). If a couple came early, say eight o’clock, they never ordered onions, no way, the night still held too much promise. The walkers, well, the walkers you couldn’t tell, especially the young walkers like she and Eddie in the old days, but usually they didn’t have enough sense to say “no onions.” And then there were the Eddies and Ginnys floating in around two, or three, in the morning, “done” (and the reader knows what “done” is now), starving, maybe a little drunk and ready to devour Benny’s (who was doing short order duty that night since Mel had called in sick, “rum” sick Benny called it) cardboard hamburgers, deep-fried, fat-saturated French fries, and diluted soda (known locally as tonic, go figure) as long as those burgers had onions, many onions on them. And as we turn off this scene to the strains of Johnny Ace crooning Pledging My Love on Eddie’s car radio competing just now with a car further over with The Elegants’ Little Star Sissy had just place the tray on Eddie’s side of the car and had brought his order and placed it on the tray, with all the trimmings.

Elvis Is Not In The House-Nor Is His Kin-Kevin Cosner’s “3000 Miles To Graceland” (2001)-A Film Review

Elvis Is Not In The House-Nor Is His Kin-Kevin Cosner’s “3000 Miles To Graceland” (2001)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Laura Perkins 

3000 Miles From Graceland, starring Kevin Cosner, Kurt Russell, Courtney Cox, 2001

I suppose that it will never happen even beyond the grave that a multitude of sins will not be laid at the door of the “King,” of Elvis, of Elvis Presley (those three designations reflecting the generational divide the first from those washed clean by the rising tide of rock and roll, now called classic rock and roll, lifted high on the Elvis tide by his generally acknowledged kingship of the genre, the second reflecting his latter day career as a garishly costumed Vegas lounge lizard act, sorry, for sweated mothers who never got over those hips swaying to and fro, and the third the clueless who need a last name to place him as some old fogy relic with wickedly silly sideburns and drawl plus swivel hips which their grandmothers still sweated over). When I was growing up, coming of age, meaning unlike for my long-time companion and fellow writer in this space Sam Lowell, not about going out to confront the great big raucous world but the more personal coming into young womanhood, getting “my friend,” my period Elvis meant in my household playing “the devil’s music,” making all the young women sweat, and not so young women too, making them think the “s-x” word (a term never ever expressed in that household. Yes, Elvis and those impossible swaggering hips making a young girl think who knows what thoughts and that hair and those songs which he seemed to be singing directly to me (whoever “me” was) was more than our proper mothers could handle without recourse to some strictures, and it was always mothers in such situations out on the farms in upstate New York where I grew up about twenty miles outside of Albany. Didn’t figure that the King would show up on television, on the freaking bland Ed Sullivan Show, and let the whole world know that Uncle Ed had given his blessing. Then he, the King, moved on to the Army, or died, or something like that and we, we young womanhood, moved on to the next crooner who was singing directly to the “me.”              

That was the King live but today in the film under review, 3000 Miles From Graceland, Graceland signifying the King’s homestead in Memphis and Holy Grail pilgrimage location even to this day for that clueless generation, he has to take the rap for “fronting” for a major armed robbery of one of the casinos in Vegas a town where last he dwelled on stage. The action centers on the seemingly endless fascination with his look, his image and his persona by a coterie of devotees, good and bad, at the annual Elvis impersonation festival which draws fervent crowds to worship once more at the shrine (and spent serious dough at the gambling tables).

So that is the draw that is the effect of the Elvis phenomenon, the storyline, the “skinny” as Sam says when reviewing films and I have picked up the term to announce a summary of the action for the readership to mull over when checking out older films. Before that though, since it struck me as funny, how I got this assignment in the first place. I had been complaining, complaining in the public prints, that I had to deal with current site manager Greg Green’s one time idea to reach a younger audience by reviewing every possible Marvel and DC  comic book super-hero come to the big screen in the universe. Although I was not alone in looking at the whole project with a very jaded eye I was one of the ones who complained in public and thereafter got a few better assignments (like a long sought after go at a Humphrey Bogart starring black and white film to gain some bragging rights with Sam who made a good career out of specializing in such fare).

Then “politics” came into play when Greg asked for a return of the favor asking me to review this film. He did not want Sam, really the natural choice for anything Elvis as far as music and growing up times in his old working class North Adamsville neighborhood went, to do it for he would get a long screed about that growing up scene and about two sentences on the film. Greg wanted a woman’s touch, a woman’s view, but also a woman who had been through the wringer with Elvis in her youth. With that “left-handed” compliment from Greg I agreed to do this one.       

Other than the Elvis/Graceland hook I knew nothing about this film except most of the actors so I was somewhat shocked by the gratuitous and seemingly non-stop violence displayed from almost the beginning of the film which was way over top even in modern day cinematic terms. Greg has made a point of stating publicly that he screens all the films before he makes his assignments (a trait he developed in his long years at American Film Gazette coming here). I am not so sure about that preview here, certainly why I would be picked to do this one which under other circumstances I wouldn’t touch in a million years.

Here goes. Murph, Kevin Cosner’s role, a serious cinematic psychopath if there ever was one and somebody to avoid like the plague on screen or in real life, and Michael, played by Kurt Russell both ex-cons are part of a six man team who are intent on robbing not a bank like the legendary bank robbery Willie Sutton is rumored to have said because “that is where the money is” but a high dollar casino in Vegas where the money also is when you think about it during Elvis Impersonation week. Nice idea, a one of a kind idea unlike that boring bank stuff that every hardened criminal takes a run at, so that the whole armed to the teeth crew has cover as Elvis impersonators like half the guys in town just then. The whole scheme actually works but here is where the over-the-top violence gets its first serious work-out. Unlike such cons as Danny Ocean (either the Frank Sinatra or George Clooney version will do) and his crowd of master criminal technicians worked out this one turned into an old Wild West shoot-out with murder and mayhem as much the loot part of the project. (One gets in the aftermath of the Vegas massacre of 2017 where a lone gunman wreaked havoc on the crowds a gruesome idea about the power of assault weapons to create horrible “killing fields” and I wonder if anybody short of an ardent NRA aficionado had a very queasy feeling like I had after this cinematic shoot-out.)         

The rest of the film essentially aside from the on-going violence at every turn even where it would not make sense except to an American pyscho like Murph (who also thought he was the long lost son of Elvis so you know how scarred he was by whatever life had passed his way) was done under the title of there being “no honor among thieves” (or as Sam would say in one of his reviews of those old time film noirs there is honor more in the breech than the observance). Once it got to be split the dough time Murph got ugly, wasted every one of his confederates (except the pilot who had gotten them out of the hell-hole casino). Or tried to. Michael sensing Murph’s, ah, instability donned a bullet-proof vest which saved him. From that point on it is strictly con against con to see who will get to keep the whole pile (some three million not bad even today for guys who seemed to be otherwise unemployable).        

Well maybe not strictly con against con because apparently even in a blood- bath saga Hollywood cannot resist evoking the “boy meets girl” story in some form. Before going off to battle the casino cash till with his erstwhile confederates Michael had met and bedded a fetching dish, Cybil with a “C,” played by very dishy Courtney Cox, and has tangled with her wayward young wannbe hoodlum son. As a single Mom she has her claws out once she knew that Michael had help pull the biggest heist she had ever heard of. That starts the merry-go-round (and the growing love interest between the bedmates and Michael’s growing paternal feeling toward that sullen youth) where who has the dough, who doesn’t have the dough and how to get it from the other might or main runs the chase (including an independent run by Cybil with a “C”) until the final war zone-like shoot-out (which reminded Sam of the fire-fights in Vietnam) between the coppers and Murph who goes down in a frenzied blaze of glory (with Michael on the side but unhurt by the action again due to that handy bullet-proof vest). A bit strangely since Michael has a fistful of criminal code violation on his own hook the love-bugs survive to live another day. This one may get the NRA’s seal of approval but in the light of the mass shootings since 2001 a thumbs down here. By the way Elvis should sue.     

From The Pages Of The Communist International- In Honor Of The Anniversary Of The Founding Of The Communist International (March 1919) -Desperately Seeking Revolutionary Intellectuals-Now- And Then

From The Pages Of The Communist International- In Honor Of The Anniversary Of The Founding Of The Communist International (March 1919) -Desperately Seeking Revolutionary Intellectuals-Now- And Then

Click below to link to the Communist International Internet Archives"

Frank Jackman comment from the American Left History blog (2007):



An underlying premise of the Lenin-led Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 was that success there would be the first episode in a world-wide socialist revolution. While a specific timetable was not placed on the order of the day the early Bolshevik leaders, principally Lenin and Trotsky, both assumed that those events would occur in the immediate post-World War I period, or shortly thereafter. Alas, such was not the case, although not from lack of trying on the part of an internationalist-minded section of the Bolshevik leadership.

Another underlying premise, developed by the Leninists as part of their opposition to the imperialist First World War, was the need for a new revolutionary labor international to replace the compromised and moribund Socialist International (also known as the Second International) which had turned out to be useless as an instrument for revolution or even of opposition to the European war. The Bolsheviks took that step after seizing power and established the Communist International (also known as the Comintern or Third International) in 1919. As part of the process of arming that international with a revolutionary strategy (and practice) Lenin produced this polemic to address certain confusions, some willful, that had arisen in the European left and also attempted to instill some of the hard-learned lessons of the Russian revolutionary experience in them.

The Russian Revolution, and after it the Comintern in the early heroic days, for the most part, drew the best and most militant layers of the working-class and radical intellectuals to their defense. However, that is not the same as drawing experienced Bolsheviks to that defense. Many militants were anti-parliamentarian or anti-electoral in principle after the sorry experiences with the European social democracy. Others wanted to emulate the old heroic days of the Bolshevik underground party or create a minority, exclusive conspiratorial party.

Still others wanted to abandon the reformist bureaucratically-led trade unions to their then current leaderships, and so on. Lenin’s polemic, and it nothing but a flat-out polemic against all kinds of misconceptions of the Bolshevik experience, cut across these erroneous ideas like a knife. His literary style may not appeal to today’s audience but the political message still has considerable application today. At the time that it was written no less a figure than James P. Cannon, a central leader of the American Communist Party, credited the pamphlet with straightening out that badly confused movement (Indeed, it seems every possible political problem Lenin argued against in that pamphlet had some following in the American Party-in triplicate!). That alone makes it worth a look at.

I would like to highlight one point made by Lenin that has currency for leftists today, particularly American leftists. At the time it was written many (most) of the communist organizations adhering to the Comintern were little more than propaganda groups (including the American party). Lenin suggested one of the ways to break out of that isolation was a tactic of critical support to the still large and influential social-democratic organizations at election time. In his apt expression- to support those organizations "like a rope supports a hanging man".

However, as part of my political experiences in America around election time I have run into any number of ‘socialists’ and ‘communists’ who have turned Lenin’s concept on its head. How? By arguing that militants needed to ‘critically support’ the Democratic Party (who else, right?) as an application of the Leninist criterion for critical support. No, a thousand times no. Lenin’s specific example was the reformist British Labor Party, a party at that time (and to a lesser extent today) solidly based on the trade unions- organizations of the working class and no other. The Democratic Party in America was then, is now, and will always be a capitalist party. Yes, the labor bureaucrats and ordinary workers support it, finance it, drool over it but in no way is it a labor party. That is the class difference which even sincere militants have broken their teeth on for at least the last seventy years. And that, dear reader, is another reason why it worthwhile to take a peek at this book.


Desperately Seeking Revolutionary Intellectuals-Now, And Then


No, this is not a Personals section ad, although it qualifies as a Help Wanted ad in a sense. On a number of occasions over past several years, in reviewing books especially those by James P. Cannon the founder of The Socialist Workers Party in America, I have mentioned that building off of the work of the classical Marxists, including that of Marx and Engels themselves, and later that of Lenin and Trotsky the critical problem before the international working class in the early part of the 20th century was the question of creating a revolutionary leadership to lead imminent uprisings. Armed with Lenin’s work on the theory of the imperialist nature of the epoch and the party question and Trotsky’s on the questions of permanent revolution and revolutionary timing the tasks for revolutionaries were more than adequately defined.

The conclusion that I drew from that observation was that the revolutionary socialist movement was not as desperately in need of theoreticians and intellectuals as previously (although having them is always a good thing). It needed leaders steeped in those theories and with a capacity to lead revolutions. We needed a few good day-to-day practical leaders to lead the fight for state power.

In that regard I have always held up, for the early part of the 20th century, the name Karl Liebknecht the martyred German Communist co-leader (along with Rosa Luxemburg) of the aborted Spartacist uprising of 1919 as such an example. In contrast the subsequent leadership of the German Communists in the 1920’s Paul Levi, Henrich Brandler and Ernest Thaelmann did not meet those qualifications. For later periods I have held up the name James P. Cannon, founder of the American Socialist Workers Party (to name only the organization that he was most closely associated with), as a model. That basically carries us to somewhere around the middle of the 20th century. Since I have spend a fair amount of time lately going back to try to draw the lessons of our movement I have also had occasion to think, or rather to rethink my original argument on the need for revolutionary intellectuals. That position stands in need of some amendment now.

Let’s be clear here about our needs. The traditional Marxist idea that in order to break the logjam impeding humankind’s development the international working class must rule is still on the historic agenda. The Leninist notions that, since the early part of the 20th century, we have been in the imperialist era and that a ‘hard’ cadre revolutionary party is necessary to take state power are also in play. Moreover, the Trotskyist understanding that in countries of belated development the working class is the only agency objectively capable of leading those societies to the tasks traditionally associated with the bourgeois revolution continues to hold true. That said, we are seriously in need of revolutionary intellectuals who can bring these understandings into the 21st century.

It is almost a political truism that each generation will find its own ways to cope with the political tasks that confront it. The international working class movement is no exception in that regard. Moreover, although the general outlines of Marxist theory mentioned above hold true such tasks as the updating of the theory of imperialism to take into account the qualitative leap in its globalization is necessary (as is, as an adjunct to that, the significance of the gigantic increases in the size of the ‘third world’ proletariat). Also in need of freshening up is work on the contours of revolutionary political organization in the age of high speed communications, the increased weight that non-working class specific questions play in world politics (the national question, religion, special racial and gender oppressions) and various other tasks that earlier generations had taken for granted or had not needed to consider. All this moreover has to be done in a political environment that sees Marxism, communism, even garden variety reform socialism as failed experiments. To address all the foregoing issues is where my call for a new crop of revolutionary intellectuals comes from.

Since the mid- 20th century we have had no lack of practical revolutionary leaders of one sort or another - one thinks of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and even Mao in his less rabid moments. We have witnessed any number of national liberation struggles, a few attempts at political revolution against Stalinism, a few military victories against imperialism, notably the Vietnamese struggle. But mainly this has been an epoch of defeats for the international working class. Moreover, we have not even come close to developing theoretical leaders of the statue of Lenin or Trotsky.

As a case in point, recently I made some commentary about the theory of student power in the 1960’s and its eventual refutation by the May 1968 General Strike lead by the working class in France. One of the leading lights for the idea that students were the ‘new’ working class or a ‘new’ vanguard was one Ernest Mandel. Mandel held himself out to be an orthodox Marxist (and Trotskyist, to boot) but that did not stop him from, periodically, perhaps daily, changing the focus of his work away from the idea of the centrality of the working class in social struggle an ideas that goes back to the days of Marx himself.

And Mandel, a brilliant well-spoken erudite scholar probably was not the worst of the lot. The problem is that he was the problem with his impressionistic theories based on , frankly, opportunistic impulses. Another example, from that same period, was the idea of Professor Regis Debray ( in the service of Fidel at the time ) that guerrilla foci out in the hills were the way forward ( a codification of the experience of the Cuban Revolution for which many subjective revolutionary paid dearly with their lives). Or the anti-Marxist Maoist notion that the countryside would defeat the cities that flamed the imagination of many Western radicals in the late 1960’s. I could go on with more examples but they only lead to one conclusion- we are, among other things, in a theoretical trough. This, my friends, is why today I have my Help Wanted sign out. Any takers?

Friday, March 05, 2021

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-Just Before The Sea Change - With The Rolling Stones In Mind

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-Just Before The Sea Change - With The Rolling Stones In Mind

YouTube film clip of the Dixie Cups performing their 1960s classic (who brought the house down with this number about 15 or 20 years ago at the Newport Folk festival of all places to show an example of a song with staying power Chapel Of Love

From The Archives Of Allan Jackson

[In a recent introduction part of this series, see archives dated February 28, 2017 on the subject of 1960s icon writer Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters who set a certain tone for part of what that whirlwind decade meant to those in the Generation of “68, I noted that after some exhaustive investigation I had found out where the previous site manager of this publication, Allan Jackson, my old high school friend and a founder of the hard copy edition of this space as I was, was hiding out. The reason that was important was that we had lost contact with him in the aftermath of the vicious internal struggle where he was essentially “purged” after he was given a vote of no confidence mainly by the younger writers who though he had gone off the deep end last year in demanding wall to wall coverage of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the famous Summer of Love in 1967 centered in San Francisco and environs.

When Allan went “underground” to use a term of art used in the 1960s for a lot of situations when people dropped off the face of the earth it seemed the rumors flew high and wide since he cut communications with all his old high school and 1960s friends who whose writing and adventures had formed one of the bases for this publication. Some rumors mentioned that he had been done away with in some nefarious way by the incoming new site manager Greg Green and his hand-picked Editorial Board. As I have mentioned before that seemed ludicrous on its face like this was some kind of replay (as farce as Karl Marx once said about second time around events) of the infamous Stalin-Trotsky war to the death which all the older guys were always knee-deep talking about in their radical 1960s pasts. (That  Board by the way mandated by the younger writers to avoid some of the problems caused by Allan’s increasingly single-minded devotion to “re-living” the 1960s especially in the decisive 50th anniversary of the myriad events that dotted the landscape of 1968.)

A persistent rumor had him turning tail and placing himself in self-imposed exile out in the American Siberia Utah sucking up to the Mormons in order to get a by-line in one of their dink publications. Things got so out of hand that he had been alleged to have written reams of trash about the virtues of their wearing white underwear and the hardships of having five wives at one time. Worse, worse of all sucking up to a lizard, a chameleon like Mitt Romney who is running for U.S. Senate out there in order to be his press secretary. It got worse in the rumor mill as he was alleged to be living with, living off of some twenty-something part-time waitress surfer girl out in La Jolla who had a father fixation and who was “doing the do” an expression from the old days every chance she got with him and was teaching his to surf to boot. In a more sinister vein which could bring him big legal and maybe bang-bang troubles he was alleged to be putting together a big drug deal on credit with some guys down in Mexico who were looking to make a name in the States. Along the same lines was the rumor that he was running a high-class international whorehouse in Argentina with his old lover Madame La Rue catering to the strange whims of Asian businessmen. There were others, mostly along the same lines, but one last one will suffice to give an idea of what was essentially a smear campaign against the man. Supposedly he was in Frisco dating a transvestite who was connected with the opium trade and he was living high off the hog on Russian Hill stoned to the gills all the time.    

The way we, Sam Lowell and I, as I said among his oldest friends from back in the old Acre working class neighborhood in North Adamsville where we all grew up and came of age was simplicity itself. We checked with his third ex-wife Mimi Murphy to see if he had sent her an alimony check. He had and since he was still sweet on her (she had left him for a younger guy when he got too wrapped up in the 1960s for her taste) he told he not only about the purge which she actually already knew about from Josh Breslin but where he was to see if she wanted to “come up to see him” in his hours of despair. That “come up to see him” a telltale sign that he was not on the West Coast but up in Maine, up in Bar Harbor where he always went when things were tough. Had owned a house there until his parcel of kids from those three wives started college and he almost went bankrupt before he bailed out of that place to pay the freaking tuitions. So Sam and I headed up to see him, see what the real story was. More later except some of those rumors were actually at least partially true. That should keep things interesting.       
Meanwhile story time

There were some things about Edward Rowley’s youthful activities that he would rather not forget. That is what got him thinking one sunny afternoon in September about five years ago as he waited for the seasons to turn almost before his eyes about the times around 1964, around the time that he graduated from Wattsville High School, around the time that he realized that the big breeze jail-break that he had kind of been waiting for was about to bust out over the land, over America. It was not like he was some kind of soothsayer, could read tea leaves or anything like that but in his senses which were very much directed by his tastes in music, by his immersion into all things rock and roll kind of drove his aspirations and that music had the cutting edge of what followed later, followed by about 1964 when that new breeze arrived in the land.
That fascination had occupied Eddie’s mind since he had been about ten and had received a transistor radio for his birthday and out of curiosity decided to turn the dial to AM radio channels other that WJDA which his parents, may they rest in peace, certainly rest in peace from his incessant clamoring for rock and roll records, concert tickets, radio listening time on the big family radio in the living room, had on constantly and which drove him crazy. Drove him crazy because that music, well, frankly that music, the music of the Doris Days, the Peggy Lees, The Rosemary Clooneys, the various corny sister acts like the Andrews Sisters, the Frank Sinatras, the Vaughn Monroes, the Dick Haines and an endless series of male quartets did not “jump,” gave him no “kicks,’ left him flat. As a compromise they had purchased a transistor radio at Radio Shack and left him to his own devises.

One night when he was fiddling with the dial he heard this sound out of Cleveland, Ohio, a little fuzzy but audible playing this be-bop sound, not jazz although it had horns, not rhythm and blues although sort of, but a new beat by a guy named Warren Smith who was singing about his Ruby, his Rock ‘n’ Roll Ruby who only was available apparently to dance the night away. And she didn’t seem to care where she danced by herself on the tabletops or with her guy. Yeah, so if you need a name for what ailed young Eddie Rowley, something he could not quite articulate then call her woman, call her Ruby and you will not be far off. And so with that as a pedigree Eddie became one of the town’s most knowledgeable devotees of the new sound. Problem was that new sound, as happens frequently in music, got a little stale as time went on, as the original artists who captured his imagination faded from view one way or another and new guys, guys with nice Bobby this and Bobby that names, Patsy this and that names sang songs under the umbrella name rock and roll that his mother could love. Songs that could have easily fit into that WJDA box that his parents had been stuck in since about World War II.

So Eddie was anxious for a new sound to go along with his feeling tired of the same old, same old stuff that had been hanging around in the American night since the damn nuclear hot flashes red scare Cold War started way before he had a clue about what that was all about. It had started with the music and then he got caught up with a guy in school, Daryl Wallace, a hipster, or that is what he called himself, a guy who liked “kicks” although being in high school in Wattsville far from New York City, far from San Francisco, damn, far from Boston what those “kicks” were or what he or Eddie would do about getting those “kicks” never was made clear. But they played it out in a hokey way and for a while they were the town, really high school, “beatniks.”  So Eddie had had his short faux “beat” phase complete with flannel shirts, black chino pants, sunglasses, and a beret (a beret that he kept hidden at home once he found out after his parents had seen and heard Jack Kerouac reading from the last page of On The Road on the Steve Allen Show that they severely disapproved on the man, the movement and anything that smacked of the “beat” and a beret always associated with French bohemians and foreignness would have had them seeing “red”). And for a while Daryl and Eddie played that out until Daryl moved away (at least that was the story that went around but there was a persistent rumor for a time that Mr. Wallace had dragooned Daryl into some military school in California in any case that disappearance from the town was the last he ever heard from his “beat” brother). Then came 1964 and  Eddie was fervently waiting for something to happen, for something to come out of the emptiness that he was feeling just as things started moving again with the emergence of the Beatles and the Stones as a harbinger of what was coming.

That is where Eddie had been psychologically when his mother first began to harass him about his hair. Although the hair thing like the beret was just the symbol of clash that Eddie knew was coming and knew also that now that he was older that he was going to be able to handle differently that when he was a kid.  Here is what one episode of the battle sounded like:                    

“Isn’t that hair of yours a little long Mr. Edward Rowley, Junior,” clucked Mrs. Edward Rowley, Senior, “You had better get it cut before your father gets back from his conference trip, if you know what is good for you.” That mothers’-song was being endlessly repeated in Wattsville households (and not just Wattsville households either but in places like North Adamsville, Hullsville, Shaker Heights, Dearborn, Cambridge any place where guys were wating for the new dispensation and wearing hair a little longer than boys’ regular was the flash point) ever since the British invasion had brought longer hair into style (and a little less so, beards, that was later when guys got old enough to grow one without looking wispy).

Of course when one was thinking about the British invasion in the year 1964 one was not thinking about the American Revolution or the War of 1812 but the Beatles. And while their music has taken 1964 teen world by a storm, a welcome storm after the long mainly musical counter-revolution since Elvis, Bo, Jerry Lee and Chuck ruled the rock night and had disappeared without a trace, the 1964 parent world was getting up in arms.

And not just about hair styles either. But about trips to Harvard Square coffeehouses to hear, to hear if you can believe this, folk music, mountain music, harp music or whatever performed by long-haired (male or female), long-bearded (male), blue jean–wearing (both), sandal-wearing (both), well, for lack of a better name “beatniks” (parents, as usual, being well behind the curve on teen cultural movements since by 1964 “beat”  except on television was yesterdays’ news). Mrs. Rowley would constantly harp about “why couldn’t Eddie  be like he was when he listened to Bobby Vinton and his Mr. Lonely or that lovely-voiced Roy Orbison and his It’s Over and other nice songs on the local teen radio station, WMEX (he hated that name Eddie by the way, Eddie was also what everybody called his father so you can figure out why he hated the moniker). Now it was the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and a cranky-voiced guy named Bob Dylan that has his attention. And that damn Judy Jackson with her short skirt and her, well her…

Since Mrs. Rowley, Alice to the neighbors, was getting worked up it anyway, "What about all the talk about doing right by the down-trodden Negros down in Alabama and Mississippi. And Eddie and that damn Peter Dawson, who used to be so nice when they all hung around together at Jimmy Jacks’ Diner (corner boys, Ma, that is what we were) and you at least knew they were no causing trouble, talking about organizing a book drive to get books for the little Negro children down there. If Eddie’s father ever heard that there would be hell to pay, hell to pay and maybe a strap coming out of the closet big as Eddie is. Worst though, worst that worrying about Negros down South is that treasonous talk about leaving this country, leaving Wattsville, defenseless against the communists with his talk of nuclear disarmament. Why couldn’t he have just left well enough alone and stick with his idea of forming a band that would play nice songs that make kids feel good like Gale Garnet’s We’ll Sing In The Sunshine or that pretty Negro girl Dionne Warwick and Her Walk On By instead of getting everybody upset."

And since Mrs. Rowley, Alice, to the neighbors and mentioned the name Judy Jackson, Eddie’s flame and according to Monday morning before school girls’ “lav” talk, Judy’s talk they had “done the deed” and you can figure out what the deed was let’s hear what is going on in the Jackson household since one of the reasons that Eddie was wearing his hair longer was because Judy thought it was “sexy” and so that talk of doing the deed may well have been true if there were any sceptics. Hear this:      

“Young lady, that dress is too short for you to wear in public, take it off, burn it for all I care, and put on another one or you are not going out of this house,” barked Mrs. James Jackson, echoing a sentiment that many worried North Adamsville mothers were feeling (and not just North Adamsville mothers either) about their daughters dressing too provocatively and practically telling the boys, well practically telling them you know what as she suppressed the “s” word that was forming in her head. "And that Eddie (“Edward, Ma,” Judy keep repeating every time Mrs. Jackson, Dorothy to the neighbors, said Eddie), and his new found friends like Peter Paul Markin taking her to those strange coffeehouses instead of the high school dances on Saturday night. 
And endless talk about the n-----s down South and other trash talk. Commie trash about peace and getting rid of weapons. They should draft the whole bunch and put them over in front of that Berlin Wall. Then they wouldn’t be so negative about America."
Scene: Edward, Judy and Peter Paul Markin sitting in the Club Nana in Harvard Square sipping coffee, maybe pecking at the one brownie between, and listening to a local wanna-be folk singing strumming his stuff (who turned out to be none other than Eric Von Schmidt). Beside them cartons of books that they are sorting to be taken along with them when head South this summer after graduation exercises at North Adamsville High School are completed in June. They have already purchased their tickets as far as New York’s Port Authority where they will meet other heading south. Pete Paul turns to Edward and says, “Have you heard that song, Popsicles and Icicles by the Mermaids, it has got great melodic sense.” Yes, we are still just before the sea change. Good luck, young travelers.

I Accuse-Unmasking The Sherlock Holmes Legend, Part VI-“Bumbling Up The Fight Against The Fascists”-Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce’s “Sherlock Holmes And The Secret Weapon” (1942)-A Film Review

I Accuse-Unmasking The Sherlock Holmes Legend, Part VI-“Bumbling Up The Fight Against The Fascists”-Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce’s “Sherlock Holmes And The Secret Weapon” (1942)-A Film Review

DVD Review 

By Bruce Conan

[Readers who are familiar with this series of short film reviews in the struggle to debunk the legend of the wiseass, sullen fake amateur private detective who went by the name of Sherlock Holmes but who used the moniker Basil Rathbone and whose real name was Lanny Lamont which will be explained below need go no further and can skip to the skimpy review below the end bracket. For those others who are clueless about the hopped up public relations created bumbling Holmes-Watson legend please read on to get caught up on one of the biggest scams in the history of private detection.   

Let’s get a couple of items straight from the get-go which will make what appears to be an exercise in futility on my part trying to overturn a massive fraud on the cinematic and literary public seem more necessary and vital to clear the air.
First if you look at my moniker in the byline above you will notice that I have used the name Bruce Conan. That alias of course, actually of necessity, had been forced on me by the notorious and nefarious group of blood-thirsty cultists who go by the name of the Baker Street Irregulars who seek my demise, my death according to some reports, for exposing their bloated homosexual hero (and his partner Doc, Doc Watson, the M.D. not the famous legendary blind bluegrass performer) for the bumbling fool that he is.

On the first five of these so-called film reviews (out of what I thought would be  twelve but have recently found out are fourteen films thus cutting my chances at completion down severely if I am not done in by some night-taker from that Irregular clot of inhumanity well before that) I was forced to use another moniker, Danny Moriarty. Yes that was in honor of the unjustly maligned heroic foe of Sherlock’s Professor Moriarty who it turned out was nothing but a fall guy for a dope and burglary ring that Holmes was running to keep up his opium-addled lifestyle. Unfortunately in the debunking business, in the whistle-blowing business you have to take some risks if the truth will out and somehow these determined holy goof cultists were able to figure out where I was and more ominously where I had sent my family for safe-keeping. Hence the new moniker and maybe another one or two before I am through to throw this menace off the scent while I get my family to other quarters and do my expose business.  

The second point. Readers, some irate although I think that they are just fronting, trolling would be the word in cyberspace times, for the notorious, nefarious Irregular cultists, have lambasted me for putting so much material in brackets throughout the review. Points about Holmes’ place in the private detection pantheon and that charged accusation of being back then when the times took a very different social-and legal- view on the subject of having a homosexual affair with Doc which explained some of the bumbling, the piling up of bodies, and the contempt for his fellow humans   before somebody else laid the bad guys low. Somebody else covered up his mistakes. To the extent that I think those anonymous readers have a point, whoever they are, I have decided to put the whole analysis here in one place. And as I have mentioned at the beginning the reader can move down past the end bracket to the obligatory although hardly pressing review or push on to find out the truth about a guy they might have thought that they admired at one time when they were kids.      

Genesis first. I had originally been assigned this series of film reviews by the previous site manager, Allan Jackson, who knew that I had done a series of reviews of films and books about two really legendary private detectives, the gold standard of the profession, Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe whom I had spent many a youthful Saturday afternoon watching on the screen and many a youthful night reading and re-reading up in my bedroom. I had noted, and Allan seemed to agree, that these professional private detectives were the epitome of what was what among such career detectives. Without going into great detail here I noted that what made them special was their grit, their lack of fear, their ability to take a punch or a slug for the cause and keep their heads when the obligatory femme fatale came knocking on their doors. Went under the silky sheets with female danger while tilting some windmills to grab a little rough justice in the world be it for a partner like Miles Archer or a broken down old man like General Sternwood with a couple of wild daughters who were ready for anything from those silky sheets to murder, murder one when you think about it.          

When Allan gave me the original assignment I was actually doing a series of film reviews for another Hammett detective Nick Charles, and the indispensable Nora of course, so I begged off for a while. Then came a big internal shake-up at this publication which I will not bore the reader with the details of and the emergence of Greg Green as the new site manager. Greg noting that old Allan assignment schedule was very interested in doing the Holmes series as well and so here it was all set up.

I originally went about my business of the first Holmes review  with no particular animus toward the man although I cringed a bit at his condescension toward other mere mortals based on the flimsiest motive that he was some kind of king hell deductive reasoning guru. He seemed at the time to have the truly bumbling Doc, Doc Watson, under his spell and moreover to have his number as a punching bag incompetent to make his own mistakes seems trivial in comparison. Then I started to analyze what his modus operandi really was. To see the holes in his deductive reasoning methods against real pros like Spade and Marlowe, hell, even lady’s man Miles Archer and half-drunk Nick Charles looked good in comparison. What I noticed from the very first film was that once he was on the case he let the bodies pile up before the villains were caught. Caught not by him but by third parties. Cops and an occasional civilian.            

That wasn’t so bad, even bad boys Sam and Phil were not virgin pure when murder was in the air although they always brought the bad guys to justice on their own hook. Then I noticed that Holmes, I will call him Holmes since that is what he conned the world into believing was his name and maybe he was right to do so with a Christian name of Lanny Lamont to live down, that he was totally incompetent with a gun, could not “fucking shoot the side of a barn” as my sainted mother used to say. Then Holmes started to take his act to foreign countries and that was the limit.

That is when I had to put my foot down and expose this nasty little bugger. Here is where the fake legend really got its start. Where whatever public relations guys Lanny, I mean Holmes, hired to build up his reputation in the prints went over the top. It was one thing for Holmes to get outsourced for jobs over the incompetent, venal, and corrupt coppers at Scotland Yard. Everybody knows the coppers there were on “the take” and I have since come to understand they have been paid off by the Baker Street Irregulars to see no evil when those cretins go about their blood rituals. And look the other way when they threaten me with murder and mayhem for tarnishing the image of their Nancy boy Holmes. I got that information by the way from a few ex-Irregulars who left the organization repelled by the blood rites and by the extortionate crimes committed to keep them in dough. It is another, however, to think that His Majesty’s MI6, its foreign spies, its James Bonds, was going to let Holmes within five hundred miles of any espionage case against the Hitlerite plague that was darkening the doors of Europe. The most bitter taste in my mouth was when he let an innocent fourteen year old serving girl get murdered while he on some landudum high.   

Everybody knows that real professional private detectives back in the day not only knew how to shoot, knew enough to keep innocent young girls from harm’s way, kept their own counsel in attempting to bring a little rough justice in the world but were committed skirt-chasers. Expected a little something more than another boy-scout merit badge in the fight for that rough justice. Nobody ever heard of a private detective who was not a womanizer. After the first film review I noticed that Holmes never looked at a woman, that he only seemed to be intimate with his teddy bear Doc, his roommate as it turned out and bedmate when they were on foreign cases. Once when he was captured by some bad guy and being held with a great looking young woman I noticed he never even looked at her. Sam or Phil would have looked her upside down and been grinning thinking about those silky satin sheets.

That slap against his manhood, his manliness, on top of all his other failures of nerve is what committed me to his exposure. I have taken more than my share of abuse from those criminals in the Irregulars who have started a smear campaign against me as being anti-gay, you know homophobic, against same-sex marriage and every other libel and slander they could produce in their insidious attempts to discredit me as I de-fang Holmes. Apparently, according to those ex-Irregulars who have come forward with information, there is a big internal battle between those who want to proudly “out” Holmes as a member of the Homintern pantheon and those who want to keep things hush-hush and go about their high-end criminal enterprises without the glare of such publicity. The latter clot seem to have become ascendant.    

Today there are probably a million gay private detectives and nobody thinks anything of the matter least of all me. Probably there are half a million gay partners and gay married private detectives although I don’t know if anybody bothers to keep such figures. But back in the day there were different social-and as I said before legal strictures against the “love that dare not speak its name,” against private detectives who were “light on their feet,” were “fags” and were keeping house with another man. So no way could Holmes, or Holmes and his paramour, qualify as real private detectives. That is the icing on the cake that is the way things were. And that explains why Holmes didn’t take look one at that good-looking young women he shared temporary prison with. As I keep saying a fake, yesterday’s news. Enough said.]

Sherlock Holmes And The Secret Weapon, starring Basil Rathbone (I have mentioned previously my doubts that this was his real name since unlike myself he had never been transparent enough to say that he had been using an alias. I have since uncovered information that I was generally right and found at first that his real name was Lytton Strachey a known felon who spent a few years in Dartmoor Prison on weapons and drug trafficking charges. It turns out that I was either in error or the victim of a cyber-attack since then it has come out that his real name was not Strachey but Lanny Lamont, who worked the wharfs and water-side dive taverns where the rough trade mentioned by Jean Genet in his classic rough trade expose Our Lady of the Flowers did hard-edged tricks), Nigel Bruce (a name which upon further investigation has been confirmed as a British National named “Doc” Watson who also did time at Dartmoor for not having a medical license and peddling dope to minors in the 1930s and 1940s where I had assumed he and Lanny had met up. Again I think through another cyber-attack error they had met at the Whip and Chain tavern at dockside Thames while Lanny was doing his business on the sailor boys), 1942

It almost seems criminal after crucifying Lanny Lamont aka aka Basil Rathbone aka Sherlock Holmes above to bother running yet another bummer summary of one of these fake news cinematic storylines, here Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, which probably were made up on Fleet Street anyway at the behest of those nefarious Irregulars who through their media connections in the notorious Kit Kat Club, the haunt of the wild boys since about King George III, can get any libel published without recourse but I will simply use this as case number six in the struggle to topple Holmes and his ill-gotten fame.
Although Bond, James Bond, would sneer and M, the head of MI6, of British Intelligence would have heads rolling at 10 Downing Street somehow in the middle of World War II there was nobody available but a rank amateur key-hole peeper and known pervert Holmes to carry back some information and a key scientist who had developed a secret weapon that would change the war, would put Hitler to ground once the thing got into production. Assuming it worked, which it did.   

Of course the bloody British are all over the discovery and probably expected to use it on their colonials after a shortened war bout with the Germans on the plains of Europe. Fortunately heroic Professor Moriarty was onto the scheme, on to it as long he lived anyway before falling afoul of Holmes and a martyr’s death. The scientist who created the invention, the bombsight which would help decimate cities, towns, villages was a control freak (as I found that decimation did happen in Africa after the war when “the natives got uppity” and the “bloody wogs in India too when the British were still trying to hold onto the edges of empire). He divided up his secret into four parts to be worked on by four different unscrupulous Nazi-like scientists who did not know each other and did not know all the moving parts.

Fortunately despite Holmes’ best efforts the good Professor was able to thwart him in his efforts to piece together the four separate parts which Holmes had been given an inkling about since that mad scientist had given a code to his girlfriend in case anything happened to him or in the more likely case that he forgot the separate parts by being too clever by half when he divided everything up. Moriarty had the dastardly scientist in his clutches away from the nefarious British agents who were after the secret formula. Needless to say when Holmes went to that girlfriend’s “flat” (apartment) to grab the illicit code he did not take peek number one at her and she was if anything lovelier than the good-looking young woman he had scorned in Washington on another caper. Yet another example as if any more were needed about where the man’s proclivities were directed. Needless to say as well that Holmes would stop at nothing to do in poor Professor Moriarty and he laid a very devious trap for our good fellow which he fell into and went to his death. RIP, Professor, RIP.