12 September 2010
Thursday/September/16 2010 Filed in: Philosophy / World View
Something happened in the US during the 1950s and 1960s and it wasn't good.
The Great Experiment, born in the musket fire of the American Revolutionary War, had first faltered in the mid-1860s.
What emerged after the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln was still viable but was not exactly what the often-called Founding Fathers had in mind.
And in the early years of the Cold War, what was left of the Great American Experiment faltered again.
Commercial military interests and their political lackeys began the slow, grinding shift that changed a nation once dedicated to peace -- at least in theory -- to a nation that for the next 50 years would support and pursue continuous war somewhere on the planet for profit and plunder.
President Eisenhower gave a stern warning that dark forces were afoot that might rob US citizens of their rights and freedoms.
And by the time the gunsmoke cleared in the late 1960s, a kind of second-amendment Tea Party bloodbath left as casualties a President, two Presidential candidates and two civil rights leaders.
The Great American Experiment had been replaced by something new, something different and hardly what Washington, Jefferson and Franklin had intended.
The presidential elections of the 1950s and 1960s offer special insight into this shift in the national, political zeitgeist.
The power and influence of television and media became a new reality no less powerful -- and in the end, arguably, more powerful -- than any -- or indeed all -- of the three branches of government laid out in the US Constitution.
1952: Eisenhower (55.2% of the popular vote) v. Stevenson (44.3%)
Dwight Eisenhower was a bona fide World War II hero.
He was the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during the war and one of the masterminds who planned and executed the D-Day invasion that turned the tables on the German war machine.
In his first presidential campaign in 1952, Ike did what no successful candidate had ever done before in US history. He turned to television to connect with voters.
While Ike's face was popular in 1952, his opponent's face was not. Adlai Stevenson doesn't even show up in this televsion ad for the Democratic nominee.
Catchy song, eh?
1956: Eisenhower (57.4%) v. Stevenson (42%)
Four years later, Ike and Adlai were at it again.
This time Ike had the snappy song.
Once again, Stevenson was a no-show for his campaign commercial.
This may be the worst campaign ad ever. This spot has a better shot than Lunestra in putting you to sleep.
1960: Kennedy (49.7%) v. Nixon (49.6%)
It wasn't until the 1960 race that campaigners started to get good at using television to get across the message.
John F. Kennedy was pitched as a man "old enough to know what's right and young enough to do."
This ad is selling the JFK image big-time.
It appeals to emotions more so than logic.
Nixon took the more academic road, appealing to the head rather than the heart.
Ike didn't exactly help his ambitious VP out with this statement. Ouch!
1964: Johnson (61.1%) v. Goldwater (38.5%)
By 1964, the gloves were off.
Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater threw everything they had at each other, including nukes.
This Daisy ad was shown only a few times, but may have ensured LBJ's victory over extremist Goldwater.
Sounding eerily like one of today's Tea Partiers, Goldwater tried his best to top Johnson in scaring the bejeezus out of voters.
1968: Nixon (43.4%) v. Humphrey (42.7%) v. Wallace (13.5%)
By 1968, when Nixon once again emerged, he'd learned a thing or two about how to use television and imagery.
This ad looks like someone just stripped the jingle off the audio track for a Pepsi commercial and put in a Nixon voiceover.
Hey, is that Jerry Garcia in there somewhere?!
This time it was Humphrey who appealed to the head rather than the heart.
Prehistoric Tea Partier George Wallace came out swinging with both imagery and rationale for supporting his extremist agenda.
Hubert Humphrey lost the 1968 race by less than one percentage point of the popular vote.
Maybe Humphrey should have actually hired Foster Brooks as his campaign manager.
Wednesday/September/15 2010 Filed in: Entertainment / Media
Way before there was Man Vs. Wild...
... and Deadliest Catch...
..there were Men's Magazines.
We're not talking Playboy and Penthouse here. We're talking about magazines that reminded men of the rewards and risks of manliness on a monthly basis.
There must have been hundreds of these periodicals back in the 1950s and 1960s.
And each cover portrayed the hero of the month captured in some dramatic splash-screen moment of ultimate danger, larceny and/or lust.
Each cover was some kind of strange Thematic Apperception Test designed to suggest what was happening, what had just happened and more importantly, what was about to happen in the midst of ultimate intrigue and high adventure.
Man to Man December 1960
First of all, we don't think the name Man to Man would work the same way today as it did back in 1960.
Secondly, we have absolutely no idea what's going on here.
The guy hanging by his ankles is definitely not having a good day. But then again, the guy in front of the apparently blissed-out character wearing the party hat seems to be learning just what Man-to-Man is all about.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
And all the while, the old ball-and-chain hyper-buxom Kaiba Wong watches it all with that cool, detached haughty sneer.
And just what lesson did Cliff Wrede teach her?
We think Cliff's wisdom was to keep at least a car length's distance between you and guys with funny hats.
Battle Cry March 1960
Looks like this ship was hijacked on the way to an I-Dream-of-Jeannie convention.
Apparently back in the 60s, getting lashed to the riggings of a ship was pretty common.
Our favorite callout: Fraulein Brigade: They didn't use guns! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
True Men Stories August 1957
Okay, this is a bit of a stretch, isn't it?
The flying rodents look a lot like squirrels. Treacherous, blood- thirsty killer squirrels, yes. But just squirrels, right?
Men May 1955
Maybe it's a better idea to just shoot the monkeys instead of trying to club the crap out of them with your rifle.
Man's Adventure December 1964
Looking like some lost episode of She Spies, this cover is tough to decipher.
Apparently woman in the Maidenform Bra has just shot a German soldier in the back of the neck while seducing him and now has decided to cross-dress her way to freedom.
Meanwhile, her buddies are in the process of strangling, rifle-butting and groin-kicking the soldier whose helmet is really not helping him at the moment.
But what really catches the eye is the callout for one of the stories inside: She Loved A Rotting Corpse -- Only the Dead Could Arouse Her Passion.
True Action February 1970
Hogan's Heroes was never like this.
The caption reads...these rugged Yank soldiers devised a plan that would blast themselves out and land them in the beds of Europe's most voluptuous women.
Now that's a plan!
Wildcat March 1960
For some guys, the fun never stops.
Tuesday/September/14 2010 Filed in: Philosophy / World View
Only the Seventh Man in Tennis History to Achieve a Career Grand Slam
Covenant of the Rival
Rivals are both the bane of our existence and the greatest gift on the hard-scrabble road to greatness.
Rivals challenge us to find the best within ourselves and never allow us the luxury of settling for anything less.
Rivals force us to understand that good-enough is never good enough.
Most leaders in sports and business owe their success not only to hard work and luck, but to the man, woman or organization that pushed them to a performance level higher than they might have otherwise ever imagined.
Nadal v. Federer
Roger Federer is a better player today because of what happened in Miami in March 2004. The then-number-one ranked Federer was beaten by a 17 year old kid, ranked only 34 on the men's tour. Rafael Nadal.
That match was the beginning of one of the greatest rivalries in men's tennis.
Wikipedia reports that Federer and Nadal are the only pair of men to have finished five consecutive calendar years as the top two ranked players on the ATP Tour.
The two men have gone head-to-head 21 times now. Nadal has won 14 of those matches, giving him a 2-to-1 edge over Federer.
To compete with, and to win against, the man who held the number one position for a record 237 weeks has undeniably brought the best out of Nadal.
Sampras v. Agassi
Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were the tortoise and hare of tennis.
Sampras -- known as Pistol Pete on the tour -- achieved greatness, in large part, by becoming the best server in the game.
Agassi countered that advantage by becoming the best server returner in the game.
Sampras holds the advantage in the head-to-head rivalry of these two players, but the keen competition may have pushed Agassi to become the first commercially successful anti-hero of tennis.
John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were known for outbursts on the court but Agassi converted controversy into commerce.
Sampras always seemed focused and serious about the game, while Agassi was the guy who told us -- and sold us on the idea -- that image is everything.
Ali v. Frazier
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier met each other in the ring only three times, yet their rivalry defined heavyweight boxing for decades.
The first contest, in March 1971, was called the Fight of the Century. Frazier won the 15 Rounder by unanimous decision.
The two boxers met again in 1974 in New York but this time Ali was victorious.
Their third and final match was the Thrilla in Manila.
That fight ended when Frazier was unable to continue in the 15th round.
Their career tally: Ali-2, Frazier-1
Mantle v. Maris
The New York Yankees won the World Series in 1961.
Maybe the fact that they had the M&M Boys on their roster had a lot to do with that.
Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, both Yankees, were that year, each on a home-run-roll to match, or best, Babe Ruth's long-standing record.
Mantle had come close to eclipsing the home-run record in 1956 but fell 9 runs short. Perhaps because of that, the media of the day embraced Mantle and didn't seem to give Maris much respect.
But a hip problem forced Mantle out of the competition and Maris went on to hit 61 home runs that year.
That was one more home run than Babe Ruth but the feat was accomplished in a longer season with more games played. Consequently, Maris received an asterisk by his name in the record books.
Adidas v. Puma
Adi and Rudi Dassler started the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory in Herzogenaurach, Germany in 1924.
During the 1936 Olympics, held in Germany, Adi convinced star athlete Jesse Owens to compete in Dassler shoes. Owens' four gold medals helped to put Dassler Shoes on the map.
The brothers couldn't agree on the whole Nazi thing, though. Rudi is reported to have had warmer feelings toward the Third Reich than Adi.
They went their separate ways in 1947.
Adi Dassler formed a company, named after a shortening of his own name, called Adidas
Rudi formed a company called Rudas. That name didn't stick though and was changed to Puma.
Today Adidas is a $10.4 billion company. Puma is a $2.5 billion company.
Monday/September/13 2010 Filed in: Philosophy / World View
The Narrative is a powerful, scary thing folks
You've no doubt already seen this video of clip of Phil Davison's attempt to secure a spot on the Republican side of the Ohio ballot in the election for Stark County Treasurer.
The raw footage of his way-over-the-top address has been a fast growing viral phenomenon.
But what some clever YouTube mashups reveal is very interesting.
Set in the context of the brilliant Matt Foley SNL sketch performed by the late Chris Farley, the Phil Davison rant seems right at home.
Same Speech, Different Context
But when you watch the same speech, heavily edited and backed by the dramatic Lord of the Rings soundtrack, ask yourself something:
If you'd seen this edited clip instead of the raw footage, would it have been so funny?
Would it have sounded as over-the-top?; as ridiculous?
Maybe, maybe not.
The Narrative is a powerful, scary thing folks
Just ask Howard Dean. Back in 2004 he finished in third place in the Iowa Caucus.
But that isn't what defined his political future. Barack Obama went on to victory after losing the New Hampshire Primary in 2008.
In Dean's concession speech to his supporters, while battling exhaustion and the flu, he did something that changed the context by which potential voters viewed him.
With one short scream, Dean's narrative was forever altered.
And one month later he dropped out of the race.
The Narrative is a powerful, scary thing folks