Friday, March 28, 2014

Lennon Sisters Magazine Covers

auteur mouths war lovers again son squier

I do take note of the important events of the day, to an extent. I find it hard to get very overheated about them, when so many other people have already taken it upon themselves to be so.

This question answers itself.

Ukraine-- it is and has been since its independence an unusually weak and unstable state, large, almost unbelievably poor, its population in free fall; in short, it seems to have very little going for it. I did think, for a fleeting moment or two, in the early 1990s when the Soviet Union broke up that Ukraine and Belarus especially becoming and remaining independent countries for any substantial length of time seemed odd. As a child I had little sense of Ukrainians having a national identity separate from Russians, because as in the case of Serbs and Croatians, or Czechs and Slovaks, I don't think the differences were emphasized as being particularly important in those days, if the people I grew up around were even aware of them.

In late 1966 and early 1967, the theme of the Lennon sisters having a lot to teach President Johnson's daughters about romance achieved popularity in this type of media.

I am now aware that Ukraine has had, going back to the 1800s at least, active nationalist leaders and inclinations, though the effectiveness of these does not seem to have ever been very strong. That is to say, there has never been much of a sense afoot in the world that the Ukrainians were a coming people. They certainly do not give that impression now. My whole point is, that Ukraine strikes me as an unusually vulnerable state to begin with (though for that matter, so does Russia, at least as regards its sparsely populated far eastern territories bordering China).

I probably did give some passing thought, while watching The Battleship Potemkin or reading some reference to Chekhov's dacha in Yalta, that the Crimea, and most of the Black Sea coast, for that matter, not being part of Russia any longer and that nation's acceding to this seemed odd, but I probably assumed that the two countries must have a relation similar to that of the United States and Canada, in which I tend to assume that Canadian ports and water are essentially 'open' to American commerce and military needs, especially in the event of emergency. Perhaps this is not the case either, and I can look forward to some abuse from offended Canadians, but I note my idea as an instance of how the uninformed mind tends to fill in the blanks of its knowledge. I am a little surprised that our intelligence agencies and governmental leaders do not appear as if they had a plan of response in place in anticipation of Russia moving into the Crimea or other parts of Ukraine, which surely must have seemed a possibility or even a likelihood by experts in these matters. Of course I am sure there must have been something of the kind; our reactions to most of these international crises in the last twenty years do unfold as though we had never made any contingency for them however.

The supposed excessive fertility of the Lennon sisters was an endless object of fascination for television magazines in the 1960s, an era in which I thought the average family consisted of 3-4 children across the population. While Peggy did have 6 children, I am pretty sure the other three only had around five more between them, which does not seem extreme. I guess one or another, and sometimes two, of the sisters were pregnant continually for a few years there, and it was kind of part of their personae, so the impression stuck.

Lots of celebrities in the 1950s and 60s had a fairly large number of children (though normal for the time). Elizabeth Taylor for example I believe had four children, though no one ever thinks of her as especially fertile or maternal, for that matter.

I make note of the lack of contingency for the Ukraine situation because I note that a lot of important people in America seem rather angry about the development, saying that it affects business and trade, etc, and is basically irresponsible. So I am surprised that they don't have a devastating plan of some kind that they can coldly implement and send a forceful message to Putin to control himself going forward. But of course they probably do.

I would actually be interested to know the contents of this discussion.

Why the fascination with plane crashes? Does it have to do with the fact that upper middle class and
even higher people fly a great deal as passengers, and that that period when the plane is off the ground is one of the few times in their lives when they cannot feel that they are the absolute masters of their situations and that this in itself causes them anxiety. Or is the idea to continue to cultivate the seeds of fear in the duller middle orders, as has been done so expertly in the cases of school and workplace shootings, and compel them to submit to ever increasing security measures and so forth.

Who is the sexiest? We all know that I love Dianne, but objectively, the sexiest, or the one who most had it in her to be an animal in bed in general, was probably Kathy. As far as who was most likely to be an animal in bed with me, that is a different story, and the most likely answer is no one, though if I had to pick, I would say Janet. But that's only because I like her the least of the four (though still enough) and that seems to inspire excitement in women. The smartest? Dianne fer sherr, though Kathy may be the shrewdest in terms of cold business sense. Peggy is undeniably the sweetest, and I think she was also quite smart. She looks so to me, and I consider myself to be a good judge in this matter, at least in cases where it is not an absolutely dominant or obvious feature (I find these types of women the most lovable, when I can find them). Her husbands, a musician and a doctor, were presumably intelligent, which is in most instances a good advertisement for being so oneself.

I want to make a few comments on Roger Angell's story in the New Yorker about being 93.

I was taken aback in this story by how much emphasis there was on the desire for sex and trolling for romantic partners even among the extremely aged. I always thought, maybe even hoped, that if I should make it to that age that I would not be oppressed by those kinds of thoughts anymore. They seem increasingly ridiculous now, at age forty-four. That I should still be grasping at them deep into old age, when they can only ever more and more come to nothing, seems almost unbearable.

Roger Angell was my age in 1965. There are not many people left who were my age now before I was born.

Yes, cut it out with the babies already.

Roger Angell is famous for his baseball writing. I have of course read some of it over the years, and thought it was generally good, in a New Yorkerish way certainly, but the pieces usually captured something about the way baseball connected to and fit in with other aspects of life. This is a staple of New York and New England-based baseball writing that is often ridiculed by less self-consciously cerebral and more jockish types, but the genre developed for a reason, because one has the sensation in New York City and most of the better places in New England that there are a lot of interesting things going on, of which flow baseball, and the baseball season, are a part, at times a bigger part than others, but never in the kind of relative mental isolation in which it seems possible for even sensitive writer types to experience sports seasons in other places. I remember in the famous book Moneyball a passage about organized baseball's acceptance and even celebration of these pastoral, elegiac chroniclers of the sport, who posed no threat to its powers, which has come in the last generation with the statistical revolution spearheaded by Bill James (a writer for whom I actually have a great deal of esteem) and the more recent crop of completely hard-headed and rather pitiless analysts of data, of which Nate Silver, who has been in the news recently, is representative. I don't really like these new books very much either, and I will try to explain why, aside from the complaint that I must be too stupid to understand the math and the objective realities that they reveal, because I think at times there really is more to the matter than that, or at least I certainly hope there is.

Now we're talking. I will take odds that none of the Lennon sisters ever asked their husbands the question this magazine claims they asked them every night, however.

Yes, so the problem with the Nate Silver school of baseball writers even leaving them in the realm of pure statistical analysis is a tendency to 1) overstate their case, both in its conclusions and its ultimate importance, which is a problem across the contemporary intellectual spectrum; 2) write as if the primary, maybe even the only interest in baseball is in demonstrating one is smarter than everyone else at interpreting statistics. The atmosphere of these books is depressingly airless. This obviously speaks to the nature of elite education nowadays, that data somehow speaks for itself, and is not merely the support of thought, but in most instances serves as thought...

I am sure I will post on this again, if more thoughts on this subject occur to me. I am out of time for the week and I still have no computer at home. Maybe this weekend I will get one.

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