The Eisenhower Memorial

Someone– the Dwight Eisenhower Memorial Commission, to be precise– decided there should be a monument to Dwight D. Eisenhower. This committee met and decided: who the hell needs an architect or sculptor or designer?! We’ll do it ourselves! People will be so impressed. Years from now, they will wonder, “how did they come up with that brilliant design?!” And so it was done.

It was not, of course. Well, why the hell not? Because not one person on this committee has the ability to design a toilet let alone a monument. So they hired Frank Gehry.

The Eisenhower family is not happy. They feel that the dignity of the man has been compromised by a statue of Eisenhower as a young boy, “looking out on his future accomplishments” (in the words of Gehry). They want something more authoritarian and imposing at the center of the memorial complex. How about Dwight holding a bazooka?

Frank Gehry's memorial to Eisenhower is stunning at night - The Washington  Post

Gehry must need the money. He is making all the smooching noises you need to make to keep the well paid commission. You want an older Eisenhower? You got it. Want him to be bigger than he was in real life? You got it.

Want me to emphasize the humility and unpretentiousness of the guy? Oh ho! We can make it ten feet tall!

Everyone remembers Ike as the man who warned us about the military-industrial complex. We all took note of this sage advice then devoutly ignored it: the modern military-industrial complex, and the infinite cost of the F-35 Fighter (at a time when the West really has no formidable enemies) is something that Eisenhower could only have imagined in his worst nightmares.

If the Eisenhower Memorial seems monumentally dull, the new Martin Luther King Memorial is positively Stalinesque. In fact, King looks a lot like Chairman Mao emerging from the solid rock…

The King Memorial is positively the most miscalculated, dumbest monument I have ever seen. It’s something you imagine being erected to Kim Jung Il or Ho Chi Minh.

There is no end in usefulness to the famous “Spinal Tap” sequence about the amplifier with a volume settings that go up to 11. You can try to impress people with beauty, subtlety, elegance, and imagination… or you can just make it bigger or louder.

Why Shirley Maclaine Should Stick to Acting: The Children’s Hour

Shirley MacLaine, in the documentary The Celluloid Closet, said that nobody on the set of The Children’s Hour discussed the ramifications of the issues regarding homosexuality that are implied, but never spoken about outright, in the film. She said, “none of us were really aware. We might have been forerunners, but we weren’t really, because we didn’t do the picture right. We were in the mindset of not understanding what we were basically doing. These days, there would be a tremendous outcry, as well there should be. Why would Martha break down and say, ‘Oh my god, what’s wrong with me, I’m so polluted, I’ve ruined you.’ She would fight! She would fight for her budding preference. And when you look at it, to have Martha play that scene – and no one questioned it – what that meant, or what the alternatives could have been underneath the dialog, it’s mind boggling. The profundity of this subject was not in the lexicon of our rehearsal period. Audrey and I never talked about this. Isn’t that amazing. Truly amazing.” (IMDB)

One can only suppose that if Maclaine were involved in a remake of “Huckleberry Finn”, she would re-imagine the 19th century as an era of enlightened, respectful attitudes towards race and lovable colorful ethnically diverse towns and villages. The word “nigger” would never appear. Why indeed does Martha break down and declare that there must be something wrong with her? Because it’s the 1950’s (or 40’s or 30’s, when the play was written by Lillian Hellman). Of course Martha would believe there was something wrong with her! That is precisely what was wrong with attitudes towards homosexuality back then. Martha, incubated in a culture of ruthless heterosexual orthodoxy, would have had no choice. It is only in the modern era that homosexuals, knowing that the courts and the larger public are on their side, see a viable path in standing up for their rights, and, indeed, assert a claim on the definition of marriage.

And Maclaine’s humanistic declarations aside, it would have been an artistic mistake to incorporate anachronistic attitudes into a play set in the 1930’s. The beauty of “The Children’s Hour”, the film, is it’s incisive observations about society and children and young women trying to establish themselves in the 1930’s. Incorporating modern attitudes about identity and self-actualization would have only served to allow casual viewers to pat themselves on the back for being on the correct side of this issue.

The character of Karen (Audrey Hepburn), in “The Children’s Hour” must rank up alongside Atticus Finch as one of the most admirable creatures of fiction ever created.

What does “anodyne” mean? Nice word. It means: “not likely to provoke dissent or offense”. That’s a very useful word.