Monthly Archives: December 2013

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac

The US Supreme Court decision in 1954 that “…in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” (Brown vs Board of Education (Topeka)) lead to The Little Rock Nine. Nine brave young people standing together for education equality.

The US Army was called in to escort and protect these children just so they could walk through the doors of their high school.

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was a Russian poet and author. He received the Nobel Prize in 1958 “for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition” His singular novel was Doktor Zhivago (1957). I saw the movie, it looked cold. I thought about the movie when I rode the overnight train from Moscow to St. Petersberg. It was cold.

The Commerce Comet – Mickey Mantle represents the promise and humanity of baseball. Bob Costas probably said it best in his eulogy of The Mick, “In the last year of his life, Mickey Mantle, always so hard on himself, finally came to accept and appreciate the distinction between a role model and a hero. The first, he often was not. The second, he always will be. And, in the end, people got it.”

Hey, Jack Kerouac:

Princess Grace, Peyton Place, Trouble in the Suez

Did I ever really listen to this song? I know my hearing is bad, but I thought for the longest time this stanza was:

Princess Grace, gave good face, trouble in the sewers.

Anyway, Grace Kelly was an American actress in the “golden age of Hollywood”. I know very little about movies from that era. She married Prince Rainier of Monaco in April of 1956. Had a stroke while driving in 1982 and died a day after the crash.

I am now typing this with one hand because Otto is sitting in the chair with me.


Peyton Place is a novel written by Grace Metalious and published in 1956. It centers around women characters of “illegitimate” parentage. Salacious for its time it was of course made into a movie.

The trouble in the Suez was a clash of western (British and French) political and economic interests against Egypt’s anti-colonial sentiments and desire for sovereignty. Egypt’s President Nassar (remember him?) took control over the Suez canal because the US and the UK pulled the funding they had pledged for the Grand Aswan Dam. France, Britain, and Israel invaded with a peace agreement eventually brokered by the UN and the US.

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev

I remember first hearing the name Bridget Bardot in the lyrics to “Message of Love” by The Pretenders. Thinking about that led me to remember what is perhaps my favorite Christmas song:

Budapest (along with Sofia) is one of the Eastern European cities I’d like to visit. I have a Hungarian lawyer friend in New York who is heavily involved in The Nylon Fusion Theater Company. I am jealous of him for the time and opportunity he has. But, he graduated from Duke.

The Alabama reference at this point in the song is most likely about Ms. Rosa Parks and the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Thank you for your courage and strength.

Nikita Khrushchev filled the power vacuum in the USSR after Uncle Joe stroked out. At least he did after a multitude of killing off his opponents and further Party wrangling. Cuban Missile Crisis, shoe banging at the UN, forced out of power in 1964. He was allowed by the Party to retire in Moscow and write his memoirs before he died in 1971.

Elvis Presley, Disneyland

It has been a while, life and pneumonia get in the way some times I guess.

Elvis. The King of Rock -n- Roll. The Pelvis. Fat Elvis, Young Elvis, Comeback Elvis. Film star, died on a toilet.

I think my “ditty” for Hesston High Singers had a pelvis joke in it my junior year. Like I knew what to do with a pelvis then.

Anyway, here’s a nice rendition of a song Elvis is well known for:

Disneyland opened the year this stanza references (1955) in Anaheim, California. I think I’ve been there but I don’t really remember it. I don’t think I’ll ever take my kids to a Disney park. Too much money, too many people, and not my sensibility.

Davy Crockett, Peter Pan

Davy “King of the Wild Frontier” Crockett left for Texas when Martin Van Buren was elected president. He is currently buried in the basement of The Alamo along with a really cool bike (that is NOT FOR SALE FRANCIS).

He’s also famous for wearing a dead animal on his head. He’s basically Donald Trump from the early 19th century.

I once saw a rabid raccoon at the following location:


Except there was a bunch of snow on the ground. We were going sledding by the ravine. I don’t remember for sure who was with me. I think my sister Lisa was there and one of our dogs. I was worried about the dog getting rabies.

Peter Pan is the “boy who wouldn’t grow up”. The character was created (formalized? I mean, the archetype has been around forever right? Did some Scottish poet really create him? Will this parenthetical ever end?) by J.M. Barrie.

The Llewelyn Davies boys are usually cited as the inspiration for Peter Pan and the other Lost Boys. The new Coen Brothers movie is “Inside Llewyn Davis” but it’s about a folk singer and according to NPR based on Dave Von Ronk.