Jul 162013



–“At certain periods a nation may be oppressed by such insupportable evils as to conceive the design of effecting a total change in its political constitution; at other times, the mischief lies still deeper and the existence of society itself is endangered. Such are the times of great revolutions and of great parties. But between these epochs of misery and confusion there are periods during which human society seems to rest and mankind to take breath. This pause is, indeed, only apparent; for time does not stop its course for nations any more than for men; they are all advancing every day towards a goal with which they are unacquainted. We imagine them to be stationary only when their progress escapes our observation, as men who are walking seem to be standing still to those who run.”


from Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville


The note pictured above is a love letter from Ronald Reagan to his wife, Nancy.
He had many pet names for her, one of which was: Mommie Poo Pants.

Calm down, no one is saying Reagan wasn’t a great man.
He may have been great. He may have been evil.
Depends on where you are standing.
This is not a political conversation. Not really.
So relax.

Nancy and Ronnie.
Say what you like, it was one of the great love stories of the century.
But don’t forget . . .they were actors. Both of them.
She made eight pictures for MGM.

Oh come on, so what if they were actors?

I’m just glad I’m not married to an actor.
Or a President.

The line was that Nancy pushed Ronnie into politics. He would have been happy riding horses and painting fences. Nancy denied any part in it. She said that Ronnie entered politics by popular demand. The people of California, they begged him to run for governor. And from there, it all just fell into place. One thing led to another . . .

Those kind of statements make you think it’s already figured out, somehow, for all of us. Before we even get started. We just show up and push the broom.

Of course, Nancy Reagan didn’t push too many brooms.

Anyway, there’s a funny story about Ronnie in his Hollywood days. He had a small part in an Errol Flynn picture. They shoved Ronnie to the back behind a bunch of tall cowboy types. So what did he do? Did he argue with the director? Did he demand a better place in the shot? No sir. He reached down and scratched around in the dirt, made himself a pile of it, a little hill. When he stepped up onto his pile, he was tall enough to be visible in the shot.

There he stood.



Dec 242012



“Once a man and his wife were sitting outside the front door with a roast chicken before them which they were going to eat between them. Then the man saw his old father coming along and quickly took the chicken and hid it, for he begrudged him any of it. The old man came, had a drink, and went away.

Now the son was about to put the roast chicken back on the table, but when he reached for it, it had turned into a big toad that jumped in his face and stayed there and didn’t go away again.

And if anybody tried to take it away, it would give them a poisonous look, as if about to jump in their faces, so that not one dared touch it. And the ungrateful son had to feed the toad every day, otherwise it would eat part of his face. And thus he went ceaselessly hither and yon about in the world.”

Brothers Grimm, “The Ungrateful Son”  found in 'The Gift' by Lewis Hyde (Vintage Books, 1979)


The spirit wore a festive green dress with a tight, corseted bodice, which lifted her bosom up like a gift for the world. But she wasn’t that generous. She got our attention and she made us fly, even though we didn’t really want to fly; it wasn’t something any of us had dreamed of. Up we went, rising, floating, and we were completely relaxed, no matter how high she took us. When she brought us back down, she spoke of her brothers and sisters, who are competitive and accomplished, even famous. She said they are accustomed to a numbness that makes her feel like an only child.

“I’m going to show you the future,” she told us. “I think you can handle it.”

And we could handle it. We did handle it. We never flew again, of course, but we have other pleasures. I later learned that we hadn’t been flying at all. She had attached wires to our wrists and ankles. It was all mechanical, easily arranged. Puppetry.


film clip is from The Year Without a Santa Claus, c. 1974
music is the song Alone Again Or by Love