Tag Archives: Author

Primitives & Savages – It’s All Culturally Relative Right?

A Different Sort Of Savagery

Marriage Among The Australian Aborigines – 1870

19th Century Australian Marriage Ceremony

We see that marriage by capture, either as a stern reality or as an important ceremony, prevails in Australia and among the Malays, in Hindostan, Central Asia, Siberia, and Kamskatka; among the Esquimaux, the Northern Redskins, the Aborigines of Brazil, in Chile and Tierra del Fuego, in the Pacific Islands, both among the Polynesians and the Fijians, in the Philippines, among the Arabs and Negroes, in Circassia, and, until recently, throughout a great part of Europe.

In Australia little real affection exists between husbands and wives, and young men value a wife principally for her services as a slave. In fact, when asked why they are anxious to obtain wives, their usual reply is, that they “may get wood, water, and food for them, and carry whatever property they possess.”

The position of women in Australia seems indeed to be wretched in the extreme. They are treated with the utmost brutality, beaten and speared in the limbs on the most trivial provocation. Few women, says Eyre, will be found, upon examination, to be free from frightful scars upon the head, or the marks of spear wounds about the body. I have seen a young woman who, from the number of these marks, appeared to have been almost riddled with spear wounds. If at all good-looking their position is, if possible, even worse than otherwise.

Excerpt and illustration taken from:

The Origin of Civilisation And The Primitive Condition Of Man – Mental and Social Condition Of Savages by Sir John Lubbock, Member Parliament, Baronet, Fellow of the Royal Society. Author of Prehistoric Times, etc. Vice President of the Ethnological Society, Fellow of the Linnean, Geological and Entomological And Other Societies. London: Longmans Green and Co. 1870

You have just read  a small sample of historic inhumanity not unique to Australia. Europe, Asia and the America’s furnish abundant examples of similar behavior in uncivilized societies.

The frightening aspect of this, is that the reality of cultural relativism has been conveniently forgotten. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #128 – Jack Palance & Barbara Lang 1957

Jack Palance & Barbara Lang Have A Cup Of Coffee

Java Break
Looks like serious business as Jack Palance pours coffee for Barbara Lang between scenes for a new movie, “House of Numbers,” on the Hollywood set. Some of the studio old-timers think Barbara suggests the late Jean Harlow. Photo credit: Wide World Photos 2/18/1957

At first glance in this still, Barbara suggests Marilyn Monroe more than Jean Harlow, but you can see a resemblance to Harlow.

House of Numbers is based upon a book by the great Jack Finney (The Body Snatchers; Assault on A Queen and the New York based classic Time and Again.)

The plot of House of Numbers is a prison yarn that has Palance playing twin brothers. Continue reading

Christopher Morley Describes West End Avenue 1932 – Part 2

Christopher Morley’s Description Of West End Avenue – Part 2

12 room apartments, doormen and an air of upper middle class gentility. All part of West End Avenue’s allure.

In 1932 Christopher Morley took an apartment at 54 Riverside Drive on the corner of 78th Street, a block away from his subject.

Here is the conclusion of Christopher Morley’s essay on West End Avenue.

West End is incomparably the most agreeable and convenient of large residential streets, second only to Riverside Drive—whose decline in prestige is mysterious. For that famous old glue-pot stench that used to come drifting across from Jersey has vanished altogether. West End is well churched and doctored. The abandoned hospital at the 72nd Street corner is something of a shock, but the Avenue hurries on uptown, consoling itself with Mr. Schwab’s chateau, its proudest architectural surprise. I wander past Mr. Schwab’s railings at night, noting the caretaker’s light in the attic and regretting that Charley seems to get so little use of his braw mansion. I like to see the homes of our great barons gay with lights and wassail: I have a thoroughly feudal view of society and believe that we small gentry acquiesce gladly in our restricted orbit provided the nabobs are kicking up a dust at the top of the scale. Sometimes I fear that our rich men have been intimidated by modern doctrines and do not like to be seen at frolic. Nonsense! They owe it to us. When a man builds a French chateau he should live in it like a French seigneur. For the gayety of West End Avenue I desire to see more lights in that castle, and hear the organ shaking the tall panes. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #117 – Charlie Chaplin & George Bernard Shaw

Charlie Chaplin and George Bernard Shaw Meet For Lunch – 1936

Movie Star Chaplin & Author Shaw

Charles Chaplin and George Bernard Shaw In Honolulu
Honolulu, Hawaii – Charles Chaplin, film comedian, (left) and George Bernard Shaw, playwright, are shown in a Honolulu restaurant when they meet to keep a luncheon engagement – February 26, 1936 photo: International News

When they met for lunch Chaplin and Shaw were both on around the world tours in opposite directions. Chaplin kept Shaw waiting half an hour, which had Shaw fuming. But all was forgiven once Chaplin greeted Shaw at Waikiki Lau Yee Chai Chinese restaurant. Continue reading

The 19th Century’s J.K. Rowling – The Obscure William T. Adams

Hugely Popular Author William T. Adam’s Wrote Over 100 Children’s Books All Under Pseudonyms

william t adams portraitWhen William T. Adams of Dorchester, MA died on March 27, 1897, obituaries pointed out, “as Oliver Optic, he was known to every child in this country that reads story books.” The Kansas City Star said, “no public library is thought complete by younger readers unless it has a large number of duplicates of all his works.”

William Taylor Adams (1822-1897) was the pioneer in juvenile fiction. Unlike our modern “look at me” society, he was apparently not interested in fame, at least as William T. Adams. He wrote 126 books and over 1,000 articles and never signed his name to any of them. Continue reading

Why People Follow The Herd & Special Interest Group Lies Become Truths

Lies Becoming Truths

You can infer what you want about what is written here. I’m not naming names.

Certain groups and causes now overwhelm the media, and in turn our citizens with their lies. Their lies get repeated over and over. Their special cause, whatever it may be, works hard to get the truth obfuscated.

Lies get accepted into truth.

Henri AmielThe man who most eloquently summed up why this happens, was Swiss writer Henri Frédéric Amiel (1821 – 1881). From 1847 until his death, Amiel recorded his insights about humanity in his diary,  Journal intime. It is a brilliant self-introspective work.

This quote best reflects what we are experiencing today.

“Man defends himself as much as he can against truth, as a child does against a medicine, as the man of the Platonic cave does against the light. He does not willingly follow his path, for he has to be dragged along backward. ‘The natural liking for the false has several causes: the inheritance of prejudices, which produces an unconscious habit, a slavery; the predominance of the imagination over the reason, which affects the understanding; the predominance of the passions over the conscience, which depraves the heart; the predominance of the will over the intelligence, which vitiates the character. A lively, disinterested, persistent liking for truth is extraordinarily rare. Action and faith enslave thought, both of them in order not to be troubled or inconvenienced by reflection, criticism and doubt.”

In 1869 Continue reading

Why Few Of Us Are “Normal” Human Beings (And That’s A Good Thing)

According To Writer Donald Henderson Clarke, Normal Human Beings Are A Rare Breed

Man of the world bookDonald Henderson Clarke (1887-1958) enjoyed telling a good story. Clarke was able to accomplish that as a successful reporter for many New York newspapers including The New York World, New York Times, and the New York American. After his newspaper stint from 1907 through the 1920s, Clarke began writing books and screenplays which made him a tidy sum.

Born to a wealthy New England family, Clarke lived the life of a bon vivant, but always held a fascination for the underbelly of life. Besides writing about the famous and newsworthy, Clarke spent quite a bit of time with bootleggers, gangsters and prostitutes. Out of nowhere in his autobiography, Man of the World: Recollections of an Irreverent Reporter, 1951, Vanguard Press, Clarke makes an astute observation about the human condition.

64 years after this was written, this timeless description of normalcy and humanity still strikes a strong chord. Clarke’s quirky style comprises the longest run-on sentence I’ve read by a journalist, but I’ll forgive him the run-on, because he is right on the mark.

Good, normal human beings are a rarity, and we all should be thankful for that. They are dull, monotonously successful, exasperatingly even-keeled, always in good health. Of course, they should not be called normal.

Most human beings suffer from anxieties, worries, fears, suppressed desires, regrets for past sins, secret yearnings for future sins, aches, pains, toothaches, flat feet, ingrowing toe nails, body odors, hair in the wrong places, too little hair in the right places; they are too short or too tall or too plump or too lean; they wish they were married, wish they were unmarried, wish they could have a successful careers, are bored silly with successful careers, wish they had children, wish their children would hurry up and get married, wish their children would never marry, are afraid of hell, are afraid of the dark, are afraid of poverty, wish their noses were different, wish they were in society, are bored with society, wish they could know actors and actresses, wish they could get away from actors and actresses, shoot and poison their husbands, shoot and cut the throats of their wives, make love to the cook, make love to the chauffeur, talk virtue and think of vice, howl because Rossellini and Bergman have a baby without benefit of clergy – and wish they could be Bergmans or Rossellinis.

The average human being is full of imperfections which make him-her interesting. When the imperfections lead to explosions small or large, it makes the kind of news I like – the sort of news that reveals the human being for what he is – mortal and finite but clinging desperately to the idea that he is immortal and infinite; possessing nothing, no matter if he has millions of dollars, but soothing his fears with the false idea that he has possessions.

He is suddenly gone. Nothing is more ridiculous than the carcass left behind, unless it be the strangely patterned bits of cloth and leather with which he or she concealed that carcass from view. The discarded garments of one suddenly dead look tiny and silly.

Where did the spirit flit? Even several Christians will not give you the same answer. It depends on the particular belief of the particular Christian. Mohammedans will tell you Paradise, where warriors will have a bevy of houris to amuse them. Other religions, whose followers outnumber Christians, will give you other answers.

No human being ever went wherever it is and came back to tell about it in plain, everyday language. That would be one big, important, serious newspaper story I would like to cover.

Continue reading

Part 2 – An Interview With Avery Corman “My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir”

Avery Corman Talks About: Dating, Restaurants, High School in The Bronx, The Advertising World, Getting Published and Having His Books Adapted To Film

We continue our interview with Avery Corman, author of the new book My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir (Barricade Books) 2014, and his story of growing up in the Bronx during the 1940’s and 50’s.

Divided into 5 parts the first two parts of the interview can be seen here.

In part 3 Avery Corman discusses dating, blind dates, sex, going to the movies, the differences between eating out and restaurants, dessert havens like Krum’s, Addie Vallins and Jahn’s and the coming of television.

Part 4 Avery Corman recalls his high school years at DeWitt Clinton High School and his decision to go to New York University. Upon graduating Continue reading

An Interview With Avery Corman “My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir”

Avery Corman, Author of Kramer vs. Kramer, Talks About His Latest Book: My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir

My Old Neighborhood RememberedThe neighborhood is the Bronx. The time is World War II and the post war years. And the writer is Avery Corman. His newest book My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir (2014) Barricade Books, is his first non-fiction book and is filled with wonderful recollections of growing up.

After graduating college Corman was working on the fringes of advertising and with the encouragement of a friend, Herb Gardner (A Thousand Clowns; I’m Not Rappaport; etc), he took a stab at writing a book. That effort was published as Oh God! A Novel (1971). After that hurdle Corman never looked back and he became a full-time novelist. Oh God! was eventually made into a very popular movie in 1977 starring George Burns and John Denver.

Some of Corman’s other acclaimed novels include The Bust-Out King (1977), The Old Neighborhood (1980); 50 (1987); Prized Possessions (1991); The Boyfriend from Hell (2006) and his most famous work, Kramer vs. Kramer (1977) which was adapted into a movie in 1979 and was the winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Avery Corman’s success must partially stem from his middle-class upbringing in the Fordham section of the Bronx during the 1940’s and 50’s, where he admits he was not the best student when it came to math and science, but did well in the humanities and was surrounded by a loving, extended family.

My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir is more a series of vignettes rather than a straight autobiography and that style comes off well. Corman shares his memories of childhood during World War II up until he becomes a successful author in the late 1960’s. He paints beautiful word pictures, sometimes tinged with sadness, of growing up in a wondrous place that no longer exists. Most of the stories offer short bursts of family life, games, food, education, sports and all the things that contributed to making the Bronx a special place to grow up in.

Corman’s stories resonate with a tender glow of friendships, family and the feeling that neighborhoods were once really neighborhoods, where the familiarity of rituals, people and places were ingrained in the surroundings.

Here are parts one and two of an exclusive interview with Avery Corman.

Part I, Avery Corman talks about what made the Bronx a special place during the war. His unique living situation and school life.

In part II Corman Continue reading

The Devil’s Dictionary – Giving Words New Meanings

25 Definitions From The Devil’s Dictionary By Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce ph - Topham _ Cordon PressAmbrose Bierce (1842-1913?) was the cynic’s cynic. A writer and reporter of immense talent, Bierce served in the Union army during the American Civil War and was seriously wounded in the head. Bierce’s most famous work is the short war story “An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge.”

Satiric and biting in his verse, Bierce first published The Cynic’s Word Book in 1906 which contained uninhibited definitions of words from A-L. The second half of the work containing words from M-Z was published as The Devil’s Dictionary in 1911, which was the title Bierce preferred. It has been in print now for over 100 years and many of it’s tongue-in-cheek definitions are still quoted today. It is now in the public domain, so the book is available online for free and worth reading.

Bierce traveled to Mexico in 1913 to witness the Mexican Civil War and vanished without a trace.

Here are 25 of the best definitions from The Devil’s Dictionary:

APOLOGIZE, v.i.  To lay the foundation for a future offence.
BELLADONNA, n.  In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly
poison.  A striking example of the essential identity of the two
tongues.
CAPITAL, n.  The seat of misgovernment.  That which provides the 
fire, the pot, the dinner, the table and the knife and fork for
the anarchist; the part of the repast that himself supplies is
the disgrace before meat.
CHRISTIAN, n.  One who believes that the New Testament is a 
divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of 
of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so  
far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.
DIPLOMACY, n.  The patriotic art of lying for one's country.
FAITH, n.  Belief without evidence in what is told by one who
speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
FRIENDLESS, adj.  Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of 
fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.
HAPPINESS, n.  An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating
the misery of another. Continue reading