LIAR, LIAR, RANTS ON FIRE

One of my readers, who is obviously a glutton for punishment, recently expressed disappointment that I haven’t posted more of my poems lately. At the risk of triggering that old axiom BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR, I thank her for having inspired me to address the deficiency thusly:

DECEIT DON’T STAND

As the twig is bent,
so grows the tree.
As the die is cast,
so shall it be.

If these be true,
why is it wise:
The Donald gets a pass
when he tells those lies?

Of course, I should also thank the President, without whose daily rants my inspiration for this poem would doubtless lie dormant. And now for a word from the truly wise about lies:

Carlyle said, “A lie cannot live”; it shows he did not know how to tell them. –Mark Twain

A man comes to believe in the end the lies he tells about himself to himself. –George Bernard Shaw

I admire liars, but surely not liars so clumsy they cannot fool even themselves. –H. L. Mencken

Pretending that you believe a lie is also a lie. –Arthur Schnitzler

If at first you’re not believed, lie, lie again. –Evan Esar

Not sure why the video is black. Maybe because the lies it laments aren’t white ones. But the sound is clear, and the voice shines through the darkness.

 

 

 

Advertisements

JAZZ DAYS IN THE JAZZ AGE

The 1920s were an era of great contradictions. After winning WWI, the United States seemed to be (on the surface) a more liberated country than previously, finally shaking off the restrictions of the Victorian era. Dresses became shorter, many more women entered the workforce, dancing became more exciting and sensuous, some movies actually hinted strongly at sex, the economy was prosperous, and jazz seemed to be everywhere as the country experienced something like a decade-long party [known as The Jazz Age and The Roaring 20s].
But a closer look reveals Republicans ruled the White House, liquor was illegal (even if gangsters and bootleggers made it widely available), the Ku Klux Klan was at the height of its popularity (with lynchings of blacks commonplace), racism was institutionalized, big business had few restrictions, poverty was widespread, and there was no safety net. It was a great era to be rich and white, but the poor and blacks were barely tolerated by average middle-class citizens. –Scott Yanow, author of CLASSIC JAZZ*

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The above puts Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 nonstop transatlantic flight (see my last post) in broader historical context. ‘Fellow’ aviator Elinor Smith Sullivan later said, “It’s hard to describe the impact Lindbergh had on people. The twenties was such an innocent time.” This helps explain why songs like LINDBERGH, EAGLE OF THE USA and LUCKY LINDY were written by wantwits with words which would make wittier writers wince.

Thus, the wittiest composer/lyricist this side of the Atlantic, Cole Porter, put the Jazz Age in earthier terms:

In other words….

Our flight of fancy, like Lindbergh’s, ends in gay Paree with a song (recorded in 1930) from Porter’s 1929 musical FIFTY MILLION FRENCHMEN:

*Kindle edition available online for as low as $17.99 (highly recommended for classic jazz lovers)

 

 

 

MAY IS OLDER AMERICANS MONTH (and don’t you forget it!)

May is OLDER AMERICANS MONTH. I’m pretty sure I qualify as an older American because, as George Washington told me, “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves”….or maybe I’m thinkin’ of Lincoln (incidental details, like who said what, can get a bit hazy at my age). No matter — either way, it proves I’ve been around long enough to establish my bona feces.

As long as I’m quoting bigwigs I have known or could have known (as the case may be), no doubt you will be interested in other memorable quotes that I remember, most of which admittedly weren’t said to me directly, but which I either overheard, or were whiskered to me in confidence by the quotees under their goatees (or beards, as the face may be):

Old age is no place for sissies. –Bette Davis (whose facial hair at the time was confined to a mustache, as I recall)

Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act. –Truman Capote

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened. –Jennifer Yane

If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself. — variously attributed to  Eubie Blake, Adolph Zukor and Mae West, among others

There is no cure for the common birthday. —John Glenn

You’re only as old as the girl that you feel. –Groucho Marx

Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. –Chili Davis

Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician. –Anonymous

Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. –Anonymous

So there you have the story of my anonymous existence: just when I’m on a roll, I run flush out of time. C’est la vie. Take it on out, Pops (Louis) and Schnoz (Jimmy):

 

 

 

 

 

THE BARD ON THE DONALD

My April 22 post (MARK TWAIN ON DONALD TRUMP) was so well received that I’ve decided to give that theme (of holding up a mirror to The Tempest of Trumpian self-glorification) another go….this time, with the reflections of an even greater giant of literature: the Bard of Avon taking aim at the target of Twain and giving us his measure of the Tweeter of Twaddle. So, in case you haven’t given The Bard a second thought of late: straight from TAMING OF THE SHREW (filmed as KISS ME KATE), what say you….

and we’ll all know how….the Bard’s words speak to the Iago of Mar-a-Lago:

Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides. Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.

False face must hide what the false heart doth know.

Go to your bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.

God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.

 

 

 

DO YOU KNOW YOU?

I think self-knowledge is the rarest trait in a human being. –Elizabeth Edwards

Do you know you? Hard though it be to imagine, that is the one question I wish I could force Donald Trump to answer from deep within, even though I doubt he’s capable of giving it a second thought (much less, capable of understanding why anyone would want to). Seriously. Self-knowledge may well be “the rarest trait in a human being,” but I think most people his age might at least pay it lip service, even if it’s never been ‘their thing.’

Well, far be it from me to disturb The Donald’s absence of self-knowledge, so I’ll settle for posing some quotes on the subject to Trump’s better angels, who haven’t been seen since they were fired….but who, being better angels, haven’t given up hope of getting to him:

It is a sad fate for a man to die well known to everybody else, and still unknown to himself. –Francis Bacon

Some people really ought to know themselves; they never think about anything else. –Evan Esar

It’s not only the most difficult thing to know oneself, but the most inconvenient. –Josh Billings

I was a typical specimen: the mental contortionist, able to rise to almost every challenge placed before him, except the challenge of real self-knowledge. –Walter Kirn

What are you afraid of? Your fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if you explore them. –Marilyn Ferguson

I’m afraid I’ve run out of good quotes. I’d explore for more, but a guy can only take so much self-knowledge before falling asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

MARK TWAIN ON DONALD TRUMP

I recently came across the Mark Twain quote, “When in doubt, tell the truth.” It gave me pause, because it timelessly suggests why Donald Trump has no scruples when it comes to telling the truth: he is never in doubt about anything he thinks (or wants to think).

That recalls another Twain quote in response to news of his death in 1897 — “the report of my death is an exaggeration”– of which exaggeration he removed all doubt by living until 1910. He could still be living today, judging by these quotes indicating it’s no exaggeration to propose that Twain had more than a passing insight into the likes of Donald Trump:

When the doctrine of allegiance to party can utterly upend a man’s moral constitution and make a fool of him besides, what excuse are you going to offer for preaching it, teaching it, extending it, perpetuating it? Shall you say, the best good of the country demands allegiance to party? Shall you also say it demands that a man kick his truth and his conscience into the gutter, and become a mouthing lunatic, besides?

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies.

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.

A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.

I hear you loud and clear, Mark Twain. News of your death is indeed an exaggeration.

 

 

 

SOWING MY WILD QUOTES

….young men must sow their wild oats, and women must not expect miracles. –from LITTLE WOMEN, by Louisa May Alcott

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Usually, when I do a post of quotations, they’re organized around one subject….but, for this post (having amassed a wide range of seedy — correction: seed-bearing — reflections), I’ll throw caution to the winds and, as the saying blows — scatter and sow my wild quotes:

What I have seen of the love affairs of other people has not led me to regret that deficiency in my experience. –George Bernard Shaw

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. –Anatole France

The latter part of a wise person’s life is occupied with curing the follies, prejudices and false opinions they contracted earlier. –Jonathan Swift

Most African-Americans in this country will never know the true history of our ancestors. Our forefathers were densely packed into slave ships and transported across the Atlantic to be sold like common goods. Many died and their individuals histories with them. Those who survived had their ancestral names stripped from them and replaced with ones slave masters wanted them to have. Much of our African heritage has been irretrievably lost to the ravages of such as Gen. Lee, whose monuments pay tribute to individuals who took away and erased the history of thousands upon thousands of Africans through slavery, killing and destruction of black families by way of the auction block. Now some want to romanticize, revere and commemorate them as heroes. Well, excuse me if I’m not willing to buy that brand. Forgive me if I don’t shed a tear for your loss. All I can say is, welcome to the club. –Kevin S. Aldridge

Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups. –John Kenneth Galbraith

There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the labor of thinking. –Thomas Edison

Enough is what would satisfy us — if the neighbors didn’t have more. –from “20,000 Quips & Quotes,” by Evan Esar

And with that, I think you’ve had enough. Evan, if you want more.