Monday, November 21, 2011

Some thoughts on 60 Minutes and Krugman's NY Times article “Boring Cruel Romantics”

I saw "60 Minutes" last night and was infuriated with Grover Norquist's smug unwillingness to go back to paying the 3% more in taxes that the rich paid in the Clinton years. I have no doubt that he and his cronies can afford to pay it--far more than the people who he wants to make money on by cutting the return on their mandatory investment in social security and medicare all these years.  

Isn't it interesting that the rich are only required to pay into those funds up to their first $108,400 earned? After that, they pay nothing on their earnings. So I can afford to pay on all of my earnings and they can't?  And now he wants to cut our payback instead of paying 3% more in taxes. What about the money you got away with by not paying on all of your earnings, Grover? Wasn't that enough? What a crock.

 I wish I could say to Grover, "then you will not drive on the roads and sidewalks my part of the taxes paid for or walk through my part the halls of the public buildings you work in, or even take my part of the public money you and your cronies make on defense contracts, overpriced meds and healthcare and all the other things you conspire to take out of my part of the taxes I pay. Use your own damn money to build your little world and stay away from the things my taxes pay for.

I read Paul Krugman's article today, "Boring Cruel Romantics" and then read this comment. I could not have said this better, so here is the comment:

Gilding the lily from behind rose-colored glasses must eventually give way to brass tacks. It is cynical, not romantic, to believe that the people must pay for the excesses of banker's manipulations. The GOP stands out for insisting on increasing taxes on the poor. With trillions in their wallets, the banks are driving the economy into the ground just to prove government doesn't work. Right-wing, fascist advocates endlessly blame "left-wing liberals" for all the out and out evils visited on us by their own party. Non, non, mon ami, this is not romanticism, it is dead serious extortion. These guys are not playing. They will take whatever they can get their hands on, and gleefully, laughing at the poor suckers who drink their kool-aid. They love it when factions of the poor blame each other and fight among themselves. The same party which abrogated the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the criteria of judgment at Nuremberg now claim to support rights and freedom. That's not romanticism, it's bald-faced lies calculated to do damage they can profit from. Old money didn't get that way by being romantic, but by being hard-nosed and selling arms and ammo to every tinpot dictator and drug lord with do-re-mi. They're not responsible for ideals, for ecology, for women and children--whose nutrition programs they just voted to cut. As Napoleon said, "Money has no motherland. Financiers know no patriotism, no decency, only gain." One more quote and I'll spare you.

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the Country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed."
--Abraham Lincoln

Martin Weiss
Mexico, MO
November 21st, 2011
3:24 am

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Some thoughts on Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m., Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson

NY Times review of Wasson's book

In my book, A Sixties Story, I devoted a good deal of space in the first part of my chapter on New York explaining how "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (B at T) and Audrey Hepburn had influenced my image of what New York was all about. This book explained to me why I felt that way. 

I was only 15 when I saw the movie. I grew up in the age of conformity, aka the fifties. Rock 'n' Roll and I came of age at about the same time, except I was young, probably 10, when it got going for white people. B at T came along at a time in my life when I was questioning who I was and who I wanted to be. I never read the Truman Capote book it was based on, and I'm glad. According to Wasson, the movie was very different from the book, something Capote apparently wasn't happy about, but that difference is what made it so important to the inner workings of my teenage psyche.

I don't remember if I understood why Holly got $50 for trips to the powder room, but I know I didn't care. What mattered to me was that she was incredibly glamorous, lived the glamorous life on her own terms and it looked good on her and ended well. In the movies before B at T that were about free-thinking, free-living women, those women seemed to wind up wise and alone or punished for their sins. Not Holly. Despite her considerable what we would now call "emotional baggage," she found love and understanding and presumably lived happily ever after, at least in my mind.

Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m. is full of anecdotal information that flows like a novel. Wasson is a good writer who did a great deal of credible, solid research and wrote a fine book that covers all the bases. From the memorable stories of how Collette found Audrey and knew instantly that she was Gigi ("Voila, Gigi!"), to the difficulties of putting together a movie with a happy ending about a hooker in fifties America, Wasson weaves his story well. As the Times review says, ""Mr. Wasson approaches his subject from many angles. His book winds up as well-tailored as the kind of little black dress that “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” made famous."" 

At the end of the book there is an interview with founding editor of MS. magazine, Letty Cottin Pogrebin. She is about ten years older than me, I think, and was out of college and working at the time B at T was released. She talks about how after she graduated from college, although she was educated and qualified for many positions available, she could only answer want ads in the Help Wanted-Female section of the paper. So she began her career as a secretary, but soon moved to another publisher and was able to rise in the ranks. 

Pogrebin knew that in order to succeed, it was very important to make the men feel important. One way she devised for doing that was by not making it obvious that a woman was buying them lunch. Knowing that would be hard on their egos, she set up charge accounts with the restaurants. For Pogrebin, Holly Golightly was important because Holly was like her in that she was independent and making her way on her own. And Holly was unapologetic about having sex, which was totally different from how women were taught to be at the time.

I thank women like Pogrebin for their determination. They paved the way for me to have a chance to make it in the business world. Although I didn't experience discrimination that was as bad as she faced, I remember the silence that greeted me at meetings when I spoke and I was made aware that it was harder for me to be taken seriously since I was a woman. As it turned out, because of women like Pogrebin, the business world came around more quickly than many other fields, and women at least had access and a chance. 

I wasn't interested in marriage until my fifties and never wanted children, perhaps in large part because B at T made me aware that I could choose my road. I was also lucky too to have had a single mother who made it on her own and taught me the value of independence and, without her knowing the song, the meaning of "God Bless the Child That's Got His Own." Holly Golightly was a free spirit who lived the way she wanted to and because of her, I knew I could too.

Available at IndieBound and other bookstores online.