Devil’s Apprentice, of Hell and High Water

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Posts Tagged ‘Sammy Davis Jr.’

W.C. FIELDS, ELVIS, AND THE RAT PACK

Posted by devilsapprentice on February 6, 2008

W.C. FIELDS, ELVIS, AND THE RAT PACK:

In Perspective by Andrew Stergiou Feb. 03, 2003

Words 1979, characters 10216, paragraphs 47, Sentences 65,

Sentences per paragraph 1.9, Words per Sentence 24.6,

Characters per word 5, Flesch Reading Ease 35,

passive Sentences 7%, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level 12

In mention of W.C. Fields, the juggler, the actor, the Vaudevillian, radio performer, he is spoken often spoken of fondly,; and, irreverently with the fervor of hypocritical preachers all too ready to makes cracks about the next man without appropriate consideration of themselves their actions or their actions affects.

I have listened and heard W.C Fields spoken of as “often inebriated” and called “a drunk”, I have heard people denigrate Elvis as “racist”, and Sinatra as Sinatra (and god knows what), Dean Martin also as “a drunk”, and Sammy Davis as “a house N****r”, without any reason or specific good cause to do so when those five gentlemen though excessive in their own human manner great contributors to not merely American culture but world culture as they changed singled handed in their own manner the world.

I stand to defend them so as to give no one the impression that I condone the intolerance of such aforementioned statements which is translated into a threat against each and every working class man, woman and child: Where such petty back biting callous remarks are the ammunition of a regressive politic reactionary that is founded in dysfunctional pathological perspectives that is inbreed into generation after generation of working class people.

As a poet member of ASCAP, known amongst musicians, writers, and the public alike, at I could speak at great length of many instances where people have fallen from grace including my self.

The first to come to mind is that exceptional socialist man of personal note, Thomas McGrath, whom I feel was also maligned in the aid of McCarthyism by slanderous gossip was spoken, and on whom a biographical article in reference appears at the bottom of this article, and of which I only make quick mention that:

THOMAS Mc GRATH born 1916, four younger brothers, one sister, parents were second generation farmers, working Ransom County, North Dakota, University studies at Moorhead State University. University of North Dakota at Grand Forks, awarded a B.A. , in 1939. Awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, World War II veteran, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. published first book poems, The Swallow Press, 1940-1941 taught Colby College in Maine, worked the Kearney Shipyards, until he entered the armed forces in 1942. He was discharged with rank of sergeant, 1945. resumed studet on Rhodes Scholarship, spent 1947-1948 at New College, Oxford, England; faculty Los Angeles State University, 1951 to 1954.

Dismissed from this institution was directly connected with his appearance as an unfriendly witness before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, when that infamous body brought its hearings to Los Angeles in 1953. 1954 to 1960 McGrath a secondary school teacher at a private institution, for a company that manufactured carved wooden animals, and at other jobs that might earn him his keep. He wrote film and television scripts from time to time, several of the former for director Mike Cimino. In 1960 he resumed his academic career, teaching at C. W. Post College (now part of Long Island University) in New York. At about this time he founded, with his wife Genia, the journal Crazy Horse.

Comrade McGrath was privately know to have been a drinker to what extent I am unsure and not privy but am sure justified in mentioning in his passing that the avove referenced remarks made in an off hand manner is why the socialist in America do not pass beyond marginalization:

Where W.C. Fields, Mr. Thomas McGrath, and myself can be attacked though being victims of the savage brutality of the capitalist system, harming no one:

But some claiming to be “socialists” refuse and resist explaining and accounting for their conduct, behavior, and involvement on higher levels beyond mere personal faults in their corrupt practices of leaderships that have been indicted for crimes against the people.

E.g. Elaine Brown, associated with socialist of the Green Party and ipso facto the Socialist Party USA, in regard to Huey P. Newton’s debaucheries in a conduct of abuse tyrannical while use of drugs, and drink paid for with party funds (while Chairman of the Black Panther Party); as erstwhile she maintains ambitions, even as a Green Party Presidential candidate who rationalizes her conduct by means of attacking her opponents, cloaked in the deceptive garb of allegedly revolutionary rhetoric, while never admitting faults, of any significant proportion in self-criticism.; and to a lesser degree Angela Davis.

It is time to have an accounting on the socialist for what are criminal acts in the service of counter revolution! To remove the weapons of deception from the arsenal of capitalism where on one hand people are encouraged to pursue normal healthy lives and pushed at the same time into illnesses.

One dramatic affect of alcoholism is on the children, who become adults mainly of the working class as it it is the working class that has no universal health care, and poor heath care when they do have it that effects the course of progress towards socialism which if it is to succeed must address these issues::

Dr. Janet G. Woititz identified in her book, Adult Children of Alcoholics, thirteen primary characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics:[3]

* Guessing at what normal behavior is.
* Difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
* Lying when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
* Judging themselves without mercy.
* Having difficulty having fun.
* Taking themselves very seriously.
* Having difficulty with intimate relationships.

* Overreacting to changes over which they have no control.

* Constantly seeking approval and affirmation.

* Usually feeling that they are different from other people.

* Extreme responsibility or irresponsibility.

* Extreme loyalty, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.

* Impulsivity – tending to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self-loathing and loss of control over their environment. In addition, they spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up the mess.

W.C. Fields is well known, and many people relate to him, that Paul A. Cantor wrote of in “Fields of Glory: The absurdist anti-politics of W.C. Fields”. http://www.reason.com/news/show/27701.html

At first glance I was going to be highly critical of W.C. Fields being spoken of in that manner, but then found some mitigating information. Information, that presents the above referenced quote in the light of being merely one sided, opportunistic, self-serving, myopic, and self-defeating as it was in some context not a complete lie but a half truth that I address as I am not know to try to speak in that manner normally.

Quoting from Wikipedia.org

“Fields’s screen character was often fond of alcohol and this trait has become part of the Fields legend. In his younger days as a juggler, Fields himself never drank, because he didn’t want to impair his functions while performing. The loneliness of his constant touring and traveling, however, compelled Fields to keep liquor on hand for fellow performers, so he could invite them to his dressing room for companionship and cocktails. Only then did Fields cultivate a fondness for alcohol. This did not have a negative effect on his film persona because Hollywood, in the 1930s and thereafter, glamorized alcohol.”

Though W.C. Fields career was prematurely ended, when he fell into a conflict with the studio system, and film studio moguls who governed Hollywood, and the motion picture industry in that epoch of time where drinking were rampant as drugs is today.

“With a presidential election looming in 1940, Fields toyed with the idea of lampooning political campaign speeches. He wrote to candidate Henry Wallace, intending to glean comedy material from Wallace’s speeches, but when Wallace responded with a warm, personal fan letter to Fields, the comedian decided against skewering Wallace. Instead, Fields wrote a book entitled Fields for President, humorous essays in the form of a campaign speech” (Wikipedia, Fields bio).

“Fields often fought with studio producers, directors, and writers over the content of his films. He was determined to make a movie his way, with his own script and staging and his own choice of supporting players. Universal finally gave him the chance, and the resulting film, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, (1941) is a masterpiece of absurd humor in which Fields appeared as himself, “The Great Man.” Universal’s singing star Gloria Jean played opposite Fields, and his old cronies Leon Errol and Franklin Pangborn served as his comic foils. But the film Fields delivered was so nonsensical that Universal recut and reshot parts of it and then quietly released both the film and Fields. Sucker turned out to be his last starring film”. (Ibid.)

Dean Martin was first known as construction worker, and then as an alcoholic when actually in fact didn’t really drink, though was much maligned for it as a celebrity as he and frank Sinatra together with Sammy Davis Junior also known as (aka) “the Rat Pack”:

“was largely responsible for the integration of Las Vegas. Sinatra and Martin steadfastly refused to appear anywhere that barred Davis, forcing the casinos to open their doors to African-American entertainers and patrons, and to drop restrictive covenants against Jews.’

In also what is fondly remembered by many real honest working class American people even progressives and socialists, especially, in retrospect with the present.

Elvis Aron Presley, who started his life as a truck driver, befell victim in death to prescribed abuse in the form of prescription drugs dished out to an unwary Elvis.

It is well known that Elvis was often threatened in his early career by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) types, for what they perceived as advancing as a performer “Satanic”, “race mixing”, “nigger music” culture that as part of their vision of the future should not exist. A vision which they sought to to enforce with in the “white” community by the use of exactly such extortionistic slanders adopted by many so called progressives from fascist Klan rhetoric.

Where in later years widespread slanders have been found pervasive to accuse him of racism and the like when no substance to that can be found beyond a normal search and beyond normal conduct for the time; and, in that ironically he was the reason that all the black and white artists were enbled to perform today whatever music they like:

All due to Elvis’s courage to be open minded enough to hear and adopt the music he performed which has its roots in traditional folk music shared by white and black people’s culture in his hometown of Tupelo Mississippi

Elvis Presley was of German, Scottish, French, Jewish (from his maternal great-great-grandmother, a fact that would have classified him as Jewish in Nazi Germany however not in the Jewish religion) and Cherokee ancestry.Presley’s father, Vernon (April 10, 1916–June 26, 1979), had several low-paying jobs, including sharecropper and truck driver. His mother, Gladys Love Smith (April 25, 1912–August 14, 1958) worked as a sewing machine operator. They met in Tupelo, Mississippi, and eloped to Pontotoc County where they married on June 17, 1933. (Ibid)

In closing how can common ordinary poor working people expect fair treatment at the hands of those professing to be “socialists”, in all sincerity many comrades have no sincerity as they have become all to accustom to fighting improperly?

Where some comrades treat other’s questions statements without subjecting themselves, to the same discipline, any given time to the same rules, that they demand adherence, to as responsive pleadings require.

So they so lightly speak in manners so as to distort all; using self-serving deceitful statements rather than respond appropriately in what are merely the tip of the iceberg. Maybe they are descended from alcoholics whom any group must address appropriately in the present climate if those groups expect to continue to exist and expand…

THE END

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ADDENDUM

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Fredrick C. Stern

A Biographical Sketch of Thomas McGrath

THOMAS McGRATH WAS born in 1916, the oldest son of James and Catherine (Shea) McGrath. There were four younger brothers, Jim (killed in World War II), Joe, Martin, and the youngest, Jack. His sister Kathleen was born between Joe and Martin. His parents were farmers, the second generation of them, working the land in Ransom County, North Dakota, near the town of Sheldon, about forty miles west of the Minnesota border, between the Maple and Sheyenne Rivers.

McGrath went to grade and high school in Sheldon, and then started somewhat delayed and intermittent University studies at Moorhead State University. Eventually, he attended the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks, where he earned a B.A. in 1939. Awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, he found that he could not use it immediately, because of the outbreak of World War II. He had received offers from a number of universities to begin work on an advanced degree—as had the other Rhodes Scholars that year—and accepted an offer from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. There he studied, most intensely with Cleanth Brooks, was involved in radical political activity, wrote, and met Alan Swallow, who published McGrath’s first book of poems as part of the development of The Swallow Press.

In the 1940-1941 academic year McGrath taught at Colby College in Maine, but he did not find teaching there entirely satisfactory and thus left at the end of the academic year to go to New York City. There he wrote, organized, did legal research for attorneys engaged in “political” cases, and worked at the Kearney Shipyards, until he entered the armed forces in 1942. Most of his time in the service was spent on Amchitka Island. He was discharged with the rank of sergeant in 1945. After a period of adjustment he was finally able to undertake the year of study provided by the Rhodes Scholarship and spent 1947-1948 at New College, Oxford, England.

Returning to the United States after some travel, McGrath engaged in various occupations and eventually found a faculty position at Los Angeles State University, where he taught from 1951 to 1954. His dismissal from this institution was directly connected with his appearance as an unfriendly witness before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, when that infamous body brought its hearings to Los Angeles in 1953.

From 1954 to 1960 McGrath worked variously as a secondary school teacher at a private institution, for a company that manufactured carved wooden animals, and at other jobs that might earn him his keep. He wrote film and television scripts from time to time, several of the former for director Mike Cimino. In 1960 he resumed his academic career, teaching at C. W. Post College (now part of Long Island University) in New York. At about this time he founded, with his wife Genia, the journal Crazy Horse.

In 1962 he returned to North Dakota, where he taught for five years at North Dakota State University at Fargo. In 1969 McGrath accepted a faculty position at Moorhead State University in Minnesota, where he had first begun his studies as an undergraduate. At the end of the 1982- 1983 academic year, he retired from Moorhead State and moved to Minneapolis, where he now lives.

McGrath has held a variety of significant editorial positions and has been awarded a variety of distinguished prizes and fellowships for his work as a poet. Among the former, in addition to his founding editorship of Crazy Horse, he has been a contributing editor of Mainstream (later Masses and Mainstream) and has served on the editorial board of the California Quarterly. He has held an Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship in Poetry (1965), has twice been awarded National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1974, 1982), was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1967, and was twice a Bush Fellow (1976, 1981). In May 1981 the University of North Dakota awarded him a Doctorate of Letters. In 1977 he received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society for Western Literature. In 1986, The Associated Writing Programs presented McGrath an award at a dinner in Chicago, at which tributes to him were presented by author “Studs” Terkel and poets Philip Levine and Michael Anania. In the same year, a “Ceili” was held by Minneapolis‘s “the loft,” at which many distinguished poets and writers celebrated McGrath’s seventieth birthday.

McGrath has been married three times, to Marion, Alice, and Eugenia (Genia), all of whom appear in his poetry. He is the father of a son, Tomasito, to whom much poetry from McGrath’s later work is addressed and dedicated.

From The Revolutionary Poet in the United States: The Poetry of Thomas McGrath. Copyright © 1988 by the Curators of the University of Missouri. END THOMAS MCGRATH

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