Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson Visits the LBJ Ranch, 1965

LBJ Pearson

‘Pearson might have arrived better prepared for the occasion. It was 70 °F at the ranch and O’Hagan, knowing Johnson and figuring he could well show up on a horse with Marlboros, suggested that the prime minister change into something more comfortable. Pearson declined the advice, opting for black homburg, heavy three-piece suit, polka dot tie, boutonniere. As predicted, Johnson showed up looking like he was headed for a rodeo, and Pearson was distinctly out of place. He was only there a minute when the president suggested he might want to change. The prime minister said he was fine, whereupon Johnson introduced him to his dog. “Here’s the man you’ve been wanting to meet,” said the president.’

The Presidents and the Prime Ministers, Lawrence Martin, Doubleday Canada Limited, 1982.

Childhood Impressions

Constantin Stanislavki, My Life in Art: ‘Of my infancy I remember most clearly only the very best and the very worst. If I am not to reckon my memories of my own christening, which I created after the stories of my nurse so clearly in my mind that even until now I consider myself a conscious witness of that ceremony– my remotest recollection begins with my first stage appearance.’ 

Agatha ChristieAgatha Christie, An Autobiography: ‘My mother had gone to school in her own youth, in Cheshire. She sent my sister Madge to boarding school but was now entirely converted to the view that the best way to bring up girls was to let them run wild as much as possible; to give them good food, fresh air, and not to force their minds in any way (None of this, of course, applied to boys: boys had to have a strictly conventional education). As I have already mentioned, she had a theory that no child should be allowed to read until it was eight. This having been frustrated, I was allowed to read as much as I pleased, and took every opportunity to do so. The schoolroom, as it was called, was a big room at the top of the house, almost completely lined with books.’ 

Edward W. Said, Out of Place: ‘From the moment I became conscious of myself as a child, I found it impossible to think of myself as not having both a discrediting past and an immoral future in store; my entire sense of self during my formative years was always experienced in the present tense, as I frantically worked to keep myself from falling back into an already established pattern, or from falling forward into certain perdition. Being myself meant not only never being quite right, but also never feeling at ease, always expecting to be interrupted or corrected, to have my privacy invaded and my very unsure person set upon. Permanently out of place, the extreme and rigid regime of discipline and extracurricular education that my father would create and in which I became imprisoned from the age of nine left me no respite or sense of myself beyond its rules and patterns.’ 

Mona Lisa StolenDiana Vreeland, D.V. : On Wednesday, Miss Neff would take us to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa . Always the black dress, the Louvre, the Mona Lisa. One day for the hundred-and-tenth time we were shown the Mona Lisa. We had to stand here and then there, here, here, and here, because, as Miss Neff used to explain to us every time, “she is always looking at you…”My sister and I always did as we were told, so we did get to know the Mona Lisa rather well. This particular Wednesday afternoon, we saw it from so many angles that the guard had to come and tell us to get out because we were the last people in the Louvre. I can remember our hollow little footsteps as we walked through deserted marble rooms trying to get outside. The next morning it was in all the newspapers that the Mona Lisa had been stolen during the night. I think they eventually found the poor old girl in a trashcan in the  dank bathroom of a poor artist, cut out of her frame and rolled up. For two years she hadn’t been unrolled. Don’t forget, it was the most famous painting in the world, and don’t forget how small the world was in those days. It was a total tragedy.’ 

Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant: ‘All the games I played with these little girls were really only one game. We dressed up in their mothers’ or even grandmothers’ clothes, which we found in box rooms and attics, and trailed about the house and garden describing in piercing voices the splendours of the lives that in our imaginations we were leading. “This wheelbarrow is my carriage. I gather up my train as I get in. Get in the other side, you fool. I nod to the servants as I leave. No. I ignore them. I am very proud and very beautiful. ” This kind of monologue I could keep up for whole afternoons.’ 

Henry Kissinger Displays His Robot Technology

The wildest book in my library is Brice Taylor’s THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES… THE TRUTH HAS SET ME FREE! The memoirs of Bob Hope’s and Henry Kissinger’s mind-controlled slave, which is subtitled ‘Used as a presidential sex toy and personal computer.’ It’s 300 pages of mind-boggling allegations about Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Michael Jackson, the Rat Pack, Mikhail Gorbachev, Lee Iacocca, Walt Disney, Britain’s royal family, and every American President between Kennedy and Clinton. Thanks for the Memories is self-published and as wide as a phone book– ideal for coffee tables.

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‘Over the years, Henry had me programmed to deliver information regarding the mind control robot technology to different groups of men. These meetings took place my whole life. He or a spokesman introduced me and explained to the audience, which were usually small, pre-tested groups, that I would deliver a very powerful message.

But, the most important message they were eventually take away with them was that I was a human robot delivering highly technical information and that this was to be the technology of the future.

While I was being introduced, I sat at the front table looking straight ahead, waiting in “park mode.” Then I went to the front and initially explained, “Due to the inherent leap in technology, what you are about to see and witness is very real. Along those lines it would be most appreciated if you would all hold your questions until the end… Thank you and now we’ll begin.”

Certainly, I was delivering this message verbatim, as pre-programmed and couldn’t have thought on my own to answer any questions.

And so I began, “The history of controlling man is old. Could we have the screen turned on please?” I asked the man at the projector.

“As you can see, man was attempting to control his fellow man even in the cave man days. Actually this attempt for control goes back even further.” Meanwhile the moderator flipped to a slide showing androgynous man pulling a woman by the hair where he wanted her to go…

In later years, Kissinger used the movie Working Girl as a scramble in an attempt to keep these memories from being clear to me. Henry said it should sufficiently remedy any problems or questions… should any of us robots begin to remember.’

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES… THE TRUTH HAS SET ME FREE! The memoirs of Bob Hope’s and Henry Kissinger’s mind-controlled slave, Brice Taylor, 1999.

Love in the Cold War

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‘Vladimir Ilyich arrived in St. Petersburg in the autumn of 1893. I did not get to know him at once, however. Some comrades told me that a certain learned Marxist had arrived from the Volga. Then they brought me an exercise-book containing a screed On Markets, which was being passed around for comrades to read in turn. The book contained the views of both our Petersburg Marxist (the technologist Herman Krassin) and the new-comer from the Volga. The pages were folded in half. On the one side, in a straggling scrawl, with many crossings-out and insertions, were the opinions of H. Krassin. On the other side, carefully written, and without any alterations, were the notes and replies of our newly arrived friend.’ Nadezhda Krupskaya, Memories of Lenin


Image‘I’ve said it before and I’ll say it once again: My life didn’t really begin until I met Ronnie.

This is how it happened.

One evening in the fall of 1949, I was in my apartment reading one of the Hollywood papers, when I noticed a name–my name–in a list of Communist sympathizers in Hollywood. In those days I didn’t know much about politics, but I knew that my name did not belong on that list…

When I came to Mervyn LeRoy with my problem, he had the studio arrange for an item to appear in Louella Parson’s widely read gossip column in the Examiner, pointing out that the Nancy Davis who was listed in the paper was not the actress who was under contract to Metro.

“Feeling any better?” he asked me the next day.

“A little,” I said. “But my parents would die if they heard about this. What else can  I do?”

“Maybe I should call Ronald Reagan,” he said. “This might be something the Guild should look into.”
Ronald Reagan was the president of the Screen Actors Guild. I had seen some of his pictures, and on screen, at least, he seemed nice and good-looking– someone I thought I’d like to meet.

“Mervyn,” I said, “I think that would be a very good idea.”‘  Nancy Reagan, My Turn


Manners of the Romans

Caligula coin

‘The piety of Christian princes had suppressed the inhuman combats of gladiators, but the Roman people still considered the Circus as their home, their temple, and the seat of the republic. The impatient crowd rushed at the dawn of day to secure their places, and there were many who passed a sleepless and anxious night in the adjacent porticoes. From the morning to the evening, careless of the sun or of the rain, the spectators, who sometimes amounted to the number of four hundred thousand, remained in eager attention, their eyes fixed on the horses and charioteers, their minds agitated with hope and fear for the success of their colours which they espoused; and the happiness of Rome appeared to hang on the event of a race.’

‘This native splendour is degraded and sullied by the conduct of some nobles who, unmindful of their own dignity and of that of their country, assume an unbounded licence of vice and folly. They contend with each other in the empty vanity of titles and surnames, and curiously select or invent the most lofty and sonorous appellations– Reburrus or Fabunius, Pagonius or Tarrasius–which may impress the ears of the vulgar with astonishment and respect. From a vain ambition of perpetuating their memory, they affect to multiply their likeness in statues of bronze and marble; nor are they satisfied unless those statues are covered with plates of gold.’

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, 1776-89

A One-Volume Abridgement by Dero A. Saunders, 1952

Carl Jung Dreaded Math Class and Gym

carl Jung 1910‘Mathematics class became sheer terror and torture to me. Other subjects I found easy; and as, thanks to my good visual memory, I contrived for a long while to swindle my way through mathematics, I usually had good marks. But my fear of failure and my sense of smallness in face of the vast world around me created in me not only a dislike but a kind of silent despair which completely ruined school for me. In addition, I was exempted from drawing classes on the grounds of utter incapacity… I could draw only what stirred my imagination. But I was forced to copy prints of Greek gods with sightless eyes, and when that wouldn’t go properly the teacher obviously thought I needed something more naturalistic and set before me the picture of a goat’s head. This assignment I failed completely, and that was the end of my drawing classes.

To my defeats in mathematics and drawing there was now added a third: from the very first I hated gymnastics. I could not endure having others tell me how to move. I was going to school in order to learn something, not to practice useless and senseless acrobatics. Moreover, as a result of my earlier accidents, I had  certain physical timidity which I was not able to overcome until much later on. This timidity was in turn linked with a distrust of the world and its potentialities. To be sure, the world seemed to me beautiful and desirable, but it was also filled with vague and incomprehensible perils. Therefore I always wanted to know at the start to what and to whom I was entrusting myself. Was this perhaps connected with my mother, who had abandoned me for several months? When, as I shall describe later, my neurotic fainting spells began, the doctor forbade me to engage in gymnastics, much to my satisfaction. I was rid of that burden– and had swallowed another defeat.

The time thus gained was not spent solely on play. It permitted me to indulge somewhat more freely in the absolute craving I had developed to read every scrap of printed matter that fell into my hands.’

Memoirs, Dreams, Reflections, by C.G. Jung, Recorded and edited by Aniela Jaffé, Translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston, 1961

Clark Gable is on the Case

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Schadenfreudenista pin-up Clark Gable III with a client

Last year, Clark Gable III replaced the venerable Joey Greco as the host of Cheaters. Gable has his grandfather’s profile. ‘He’s the handsomest guy ever,’ Cheaters creator Bobby Goldstein told Dallas News.  ‘You think you’re watching a ghost.’ The Cheaters brand was tarnished when Inside Edition revealed that Joey Greco’s Season 9 stabbing had been staged. With his furrowed brow and ambrosial lips wrought through with indignation, Gable represented a fresh start for the grey lady of reality TV.

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Joey Greco takes a hit in Season 9

The Cheaters formula has remained unchanged for thirteen years. The host’s prim, yet florid introduction to the cuckold (‘Afraid that his maneuvers are calculated, she seeks guidance from a trusted and resourceful organization’) precedes black and white surveillance footage of ‘the suspect ‘ romancing their secret lover, vigorously narrated by Robert Magruder, Cheaters‘ éminence grise. The delinquent lovers hold hands over the table at Cheddar’s and visit White Rock Lake at night; they are caught in flagrante delicto by hidden spy cameras in their bedrooms. Segments conclude with The Confrontation: after watching the surveillance footage, the cuckold interrupts and usually attacks the cheaters, surrounded by Clark Gable and a crew in black Cheaters T-shirts wielding shoulder mount camcorders and fuzzy boom mics.

The cheaters hold their assignations in a rotating stable of two-story apartment complexes in Dallas Fort-Worth and Greater Houston. Everything is comfortingly familiar: the midnight strolls, the parking lot battles, the ambient theme playing over the surveillance footage, the slow Cheaters guitar riff ushering in the commercial breaks.

IMG_1321 After the quiz show scandals of the fifties, The Communication Act of 1934 was amended to prohibit ‘influencing, prearranging, or predetermining outcomes… (in) contests of knowledge, skill, or chance… with intent to deceive the listening or viewing public,’ but no laws regulate against presenting acted-out scenarios as real. The veracity of Cheaters has been questioned since Season 2, when Scott Nowell of Houston Press interviewed five people who said they’d earned $400.00 to perform in fake scenes. A woman named Michelle told Nowell she was recruited by the program’s infamous Detective Gomez, who purportedly shoots the incriminating surveillance footage. Michelle said Detective Gomez urged her to ‘take one for the team’ and make out with the metalhead who was cast as her secret boyfriend, an assertion in conflict with the gushing testimonials on the Gomez Detective Agency’s website.*

‘That’s interesting, ‘ Goldstein bristled when Nowell contacted him with the allegations, ‘I don’t know. Dan Rather reporting that Gore won Florida comes to mind. No matter how many quality controls you put into place, I guess there’s always some hanky-panky that could arise.’

Participants respond to ads on Craigslist, Myspace, and Facebook. They earn $50.00 for each person they refer to Cheaters. Oftentimes, a group of platonic friends will make a day of it. Shooting lasts about ten hours. ‘It was a blast,’ one Reddit poster wrote.

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Detective Gomez briefs Clark Gable prior to The Confrontation

 When Cheaters premiered in 2002, the spy footage was a departure from the show’s hidden camera/practical joke predecessors. Jerry Springer’s audience became a Roman mob in the nineties. Cheaters marked another cultural shift: a population acquiescent to surveillance. People began invading their own privacy. Cheaters opened an online Spy Shop, where suspicious viewers can avail themselves of the hidden cameras, GPS trackers, and semen detection kits in Detective Gomez’s bag of tricks.

Cheaters is repetitive. The performances are for the most part painfully false, like a film school melodrama starring the director’s friends. Yet Cheaters endures. A Bulgarian version called Caught Cheating premiered in 2008. The Cheaters website claims a weekly viewership of 1.5 million people in over 100 countries.  It airs Saturday nights at 12:30 on WUTV Buffalo, at midnight on WCIU in Chicago, WLNY in Long Island, KDOC in Los Angeles, weeknights at 11:00 in London on ReallyUK, working the graveyard shift from country to country, up and down the dial.

*eg. ‘Thank you so much for everything. You are the greatest detective ever…. Thank you again for being such a great person and wonderful detective.’ 

What the Millenium Looked Like From 1977

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The 1977 Special Photo Issue of Us magazine has become poignant with the passage of time. The ads and the pictures on the cover are the only colour photographs in the magazine. It featured stories about the Concorde, the Panama Canal, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and a two-page photograph of a toy-maker and mountain-climber named George Willig scaling the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

‘The year 1977 brought Americans a Baptist in the White House, supersonic passenger travel and cinematic encounters with extraterrestrial beings and intergalactic warfare. What’s in store for the future?’

The ‘Speaking Out’ section was subtitled, ‘The future: no diets, less work, and we’ll retire at 47.’ Predictions by America’s leading futurologists about the year 2000 included:

– Thermostats would be set lower in the winter as ‘waste and environmental pollution will become the new sins.’

– The RAND Corporation predicted certain animals would be bred as organ donors for humans.

– The Institute for the Future in California predicted that dieting would be obsolete by 1985 because ‘specially prepared food and supplements’ would control the absorption of calories.

– The amount people spent buying cosmetics, exercise equipment, and health club memberships would double.

– The average retirement age for American workers in 2000 A.D. would be 47. By 2050 the average lifespan would be 100.

– The Red Cross predicted that heart, lung, and liver transplants would be commonplace by the 1990s.

– National parks would have wear-resistant hiking paths, electronic guide systems, and camping would be controlled by a national computerized reservation system.

-Space would be so limited that cemeteries and roof tops would be used for recreation.

-By the 1980s, people would be able to punch up train schedules, make plane reservations, and comparison shop on mini-computers which hooked up to their television sets. By the millennium, facsimile newspapers and magazines would be printed at home.

-‘There will be jet-powered backpacks. Human cloning will be a reality.’

-‘Apes and other animals will be bred for low-grade labor.’

Balzac’s Pineapple Orchard

Fir0002 Flagstaffotos‘The latter half of 1838 was spent at Les Jardies, where the novelist was busy either with his pen or in improving the interior and exterior of the property. A scheme for cultivating a pine-apple orchard in his grounds kept him from fretting over the sorry termination of his Sardinian dream. He intended to set five thousand plants, and sell the fruit at five francs a piece, instead of twenty, which was the ordinary price. After deducting the expenses of the undertaking, he reckoned he could gain twenty thousand francs a year out of his pine-apples. If they had been willing to grow in the open air, he would undoubtedly have gone from theory into practice. But, as this difficulty presented itself in the initial stage, he threw up incontinently his market-gardening; and, since he was in urgent want of cash, he bethought himself that, lying by him, he had a collection of Napoleon’s sayings, which he had been making for the past seven years, cutting them out of books that dealt with the Emperor’s life. The number was just then five hundred. For a sum of five thousand francs he disposed of the fruits of his industry to a retired hosier named Gandy, who published them subsequently under the title Maxims and Thoughts of Napoleon, the preface being also supplied by the novelist.’

Balzac by Frederick Lawton, London: Grant Richards Ltd, New York: Wessels & Bissell Co, 1901.

Photo: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos