Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What ever became of our historically powerful backbones? Lets laugh at ourselves and screw this mind numbing political correctness

Perhaps it is partly my age or the fact that I have had a pretty rough life, that I am not bothered by much.  I was working on raising a family when I was 12 years old. I know what hardship is and have been there. I have seen what can happen and how bad life can be. I know what it is like to be homeless, without food, without hope.

 My life from the ages of  eleven to eighteen I would not wish on my worst enemy. But I survived and became a hell of a lot stronger than most people. I can take a beating and keep going, I am not pushed down or bothered by others. That has been my life.  History is what saved me, also a few close and good friends.

I am always reminded by the old saying we used in school when I was a kid..."Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me".

Burt what I see today sickens me. We have become a nation and perhaps world of neurotics. Political correctness is perhaps one of the greatest examples of dumbing down a race of people that I have ever seen. We are offended by everything !!!! I am of the belief we need a collective gathering of backbone here. The only thing that offends me is Political Correctness.

I do not give a damn if someone is offended, get a life and grow up. I have received emails from people saying that what I wrote in an article here offended them.........GOOD!

The United States is pandering to a people who have no collective backbone at all.   I have no problem making fun of anyone and mostly I enjoy making fun of myself. But in this CRAZY politically correct world of Nazism, we dare not offend,  cause we could look bad. Best way I can put it. How dumb can we get?

  My favorite is the gang who calls for Free Speech, yet complains about the hate speech of others!  If you cannot see the humor there, give up !

 Blacks can be made fun of  by the Spanish, or other minorities. But they cannot be made fun of by Whites. But Whites can be made fun of by Blacks? That is fine with me..I am happy Blacks can make fun of Whites and I damn well expect that Whites can make just as much fun of Blacks. That is what we call equality.

Making fun of gays, straights, lesbians, vegetarianism, animal lovers, fur wears, blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics, Jews, and everyone else is fine. If you cannot laugh, why live?  If people are so weak they cannot handle humor at their expense, they really have little going for them.

Perhaps many are ruled by religion in this thought. Religion is designed to take the weak minded and direct them.  So I love to make fun of religion and any other group that is holier than thou.

 The sad part is that all of these holier than thou people who practice Political Correctness is, that when they are home with their friends they make fun of whom ever they want....It is called hypocrisy .  They just do not have the guts to do anywhere else.

  The fear that a lot of these weak minded people face is that they might offend someone.  Do it !!

 If they are as weak as you are and claim they are offended ..maybe you can both get therapy. Cause brother you need it!.

 Why are we so weird?  Why are we so stupid? Why do we buy into this nonsense?  I have no problem laughing at everyone. I am into equal opportunism.  Everyone is the same.

 One we learn that the world will work better. We are all people, no more no less.

But for now we have to deal with stupid spineless people who worry they might not be politically correct! 

I find those people offensive.      :)

Friday, November 04, 2011

Who we are, is who we were.

I recall these words spoken by John Quincy Adams in the Amistad slave trial. Those words ring in my mind as time goes on. Because it is what we are all about. We think our thoughts and think them original, but are they? Because we are from whence we came. So who we are is who we have been and who we will be. In this new age of DNA we have found that to be more true than what have ever thought. Remember the next time you look at things and reflect.Because it is not only you,it is all who have come before you. Who we are is who we were. Truer words were never spoken.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

One very historic week in the northeast United States weather wise!!

I will admit it has been quite a remarkable week when it comes to Mother Nature. I live in the northeast of the United States and I have seen my fair share of remarkable weather in the last half century. But not much compares to this last week.

Last Tuesday I was in my library at home, it was the early afternoon. When suddenly I felt uneasy and off center. The lamp in the library has a glass shade and it started to rattle and there are chain pulls for the light switch on it and they started to bang against the light, Then my stained glass windows started to rattle and my desk started to move. It did not make any sense to me. Being in the New York City area I am not even thinking of earthquakes, as they do not happen here, or if they do, no one notices them as they are so slight. But this was different and it took a while for me to think what it was. I stepped up off my desk and the floor felt funny as the building was swaying back and forth and making some nasty noises. So I hobbled out of the library, which is on the 3rd floor and ran down the stairs. By the time I got to the ground floor it was all over.

It was then that this all started to rattle in my brain, an earthquake? I was thinking perhaps there was a gas explosion somewhere, or perhaps as now can happen a bombing in NYC somewhere. These were the thoughts that were running through my mind. Soon it became apparent that there was indeed a earthquake that was around 5.8 on the Richter Scale. It was centered in Virginia not too far from Washington DC. Well I had never experienced an earthquake before and I have now done so and do not wish to repeat the experience. This became the topic of conversation and news programs as to the unusual nature of it. Well that passed by and soon the next news was that a hurricane was on its way toward the northeast. Well why not I thought....

On the 27th of August we were hit by Hurricane Irene and it was pretty fierce, but not too bad in most respects. I went walking to where Grant's Tomb was to see the effects of the weather. It was pretty windy and rainy with wind gusts of about 65 MPH. Outside of that it was not too bad and was like our earthquake, no where as bad as it could have been.

Perhaps what is more historic than the two unique events taking place was New York and New Jersey's response to it. For the first time in the history of the NYC subway it was closed down completely due to the upcoming weather. No bus service, subway, PATH trains, Highways closed, and parts of New York City and New Jersey were evacuated. This was a massive movement and highly unprecedented. But in the field of history it is unique. It was a day no one could get anywhere, in either state. To be honest who would have wanted too? But there was an eerie feeling hearing no noise or traffic or planes and the like. It seemed a lot like the day after 9/11.

So I am writing this the day after the major part of the hurricane has passed by. It is still windy and rainy here, and amazingly quiet. We are now in just an afterglow of the storm that once was. I cannot wait to see what is on the menu for next week!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Henry Clay 1777-1852... He was photographed many times in the last 10 years of his life. Here are a few of the many faces of Henry Clay.

Henry Clay, what words are used to describe him. Statesman, diplomat, Congressman, Senator, Secretary of State and Presidential candidate. He did a lot, drank and lot and said he would rather be right than be President. He was a hero to Abraham Lincoln and a villain in the eyes of John Calhoun.

His last 10 years of life are pretty well chronicled in the lens of the early camera. Here are a few of the many photographs taken of this great statesman.

I think this is the best one of him. It is clear and he is very much in control of the situation.

An altered photograph

This is another good shot. He is close to a slight smile.

Not one of his better photographs

This photograph seems to capture the essence of the man. Although not in good shape it is a very in your face photo. In which he is looking right at those who look at the photograph.

Looking a little worn out in this picture.

Looking a little cranky in this one.

Here he poses with his wife of many years,Lucretia.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hitler's Car...One of his greatest ideas..The Volkswagen Beetle

Few people today realize that the idea of the Volkswagen Beetle came from none other than Adolf Hitler. It was his idea, and he should get credit for it. While I do not agree with other things he did. This was a great idea. He wanted it cheap, air cooled, curved, engine in the back and a most unique body type. After all was said and done it was the most successful car in automotive history. It is sad that the greatest car concept was by someone who's very name brings thoughts of horror, death and war.

Hitler's first drawing of his car in 1932

Creation of the car was taken up by Porsche. Here you see Porsche presenting Hitler with a model of the car already nicknamed the beetle in 1937.

Here you see Hitler in the front seat of a new Beetle in 1938. A proud Mr. Porsche is standing by

Volkswagen Beetles would be produced starting in 1938. Their production would end in Mexico at the end of the 20th century. It was a most remarkable car. That came from the mind of a most frightening man.

Even though today lots of people and experts try to shun away from who was the creator of the Beetle, you cannot hide from history.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The World's Fair Dinosaur. It was made in front of you for only a dime

In 1932 the Sinclair gasoline Company came to use a Brontosaurus as its PR dinosaur. It was a big hit. In fact it was seen a little in the 1939-40 World's Fair. But in the 1964-65 World Fair they outdid themselves. They created a dinosaur park. I was there in 1964 and enjoyed the dino park very much. I have great memories of it.

The Sinclair Dinosaur

But was the coolest part of that fair to me at the time was the "MOLDARAMA" machine that made wax models of the dinosaurs. I remember getting mine. It cost a dime and was as far as I was concerned worth every penny. I remember seeing the two sides of the mold coming together and out came my warm dinosaur. I loved that thing till I accidentally broke it. But still just seeing another brings back those memories. So I found one on line and thought I would share the image with you. All of you baby boomers remember this.....don't you?

The thing every boy wanted to have at the fair.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Hearing the ringing of the Liberty Bell in 1976

It is 35 years ago today that I heard what was left of the ring of the Liberty Bell. I can recall it so well. The serious voice of the newscaster on radio said..."And now the Liberty Bell". We waited a few seconds and then heard a sound that can best be described as "DUNK" That was the Liberty Bell! I am not sure how many people remember that.
I had been by the bell in June of that year as I was performing with a group and doing the show 1776. I wanted to see and touch it. So I did. It smelled very musty as I looked underneath it. I touched it gently and smelled it as I mentioned. It felt a little rough and not too even. I could see the crack that was finally completed on ringing for George Washington's birthday in 1846.

But I will always remembering that hollow "dunk". That will always remain a most unique memory of that Bi-Centennial year. The Liberty Bell today is much more closely guarded than it was back then. But I am glad I could get so up close and personal with it all those years ago. And to hear it's voice 35 years ago this very day.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The death and embalming of U.S. Grant 1885. The problem with his body was that it did not look good no matter what they did.

President/General Grant was in a bad way in early 1885. He was suffering from cancer of the throat and he was broke. Not slightly down on his luck, completely out of funds and assets. He was approached by Mark Twain to write his autobiography. This it was figured would bring a good sum of money back into the family which was in bad straights. So while dying, Grant did the impossible, he rallied his strength and wrote a two volume account of his life. Now granted the last part of the book was done by assistants and notes and drawings done by Grant. As the ability to speak had left him. Also he was having trouble writing much at all by July 1885. But the books were done in mid July of that year and Grant was pleased and happy to know that the books would save his family.

He had also written one of the most interesting and well prepared books on military history. His ability to recall was amazing and his memory seemed dead on. But at this point Grant was fighting his last battle and one he could not win. The cancer was most severe and blocked his throat and also made him constantly chocking on his own saliva. It was a horrible situation. By no fault of his own he looked terrible.

By mid July the cancer was winning and he could no longer eat or clear his throat. On July 23, he finally and fortunately died. He was a wasted man by this point. Weighing in less than 100 pounds and his features were dreadful. As one could expect.
By no fault of his own he looked terrible. The cancer had taken his body, his looks, his ability to work. But till the end it did not kill his spirit. That was the last to survive an allowed him to go on and finish his book.

His body was embalmed at the cottage and put on ice afterwards. The main problem that was not realized at the time was Grants cancer had so invaded his head and neck that the blood vessels were not ready to transfer embalming fluid to his head. So while the embalming took a long time as Grant had wanted his body embalmed and put on display all over. It was not a body that would hold up well, specially in the hot weather of July. His head started from the beginning to look pretty bad.

This was taken from the August 1999 edition of the American Funeral Director on the embalming of President Grant.

Within hours of Grants death, the local undertaker, Ebenezer Holmes, proprietor of Holmes & Co. on Church Street in Saratoga, was summoned to the cottage. The Grants also called upon the services of the Rev. Stephen J. Merritt, a New York City clergyman/undertaker undertaker to celebrities and Manhattans upper classes. However, until Merritt's arrival, Holmes was the undertaker of the hour. He brought with him his selected ice refrigeration casket, which he designed and had patented in 1878. The patent title of his invention read, the Improvement in Corpse Coolers or Caskets. Grants body was placed in the ice casket until it was embalmed. Since the late 1870s, Holmes had used his special casket in the Saratoga Springs area with great success. The casket was an oak-framed rectangular table on a wicker platform and below that, a lead-lined receptacle to hold ice.

Along with Holmes and his ice casket came his young apprentice, the cabinet-maker and aspiring undertaker, William Burke. As a carpenter, Burke had worked on the construction of the Grant cottage. For a brief time, Burke was Holmes partner. In 1893, Burke founded his own funeral business, William J. Burke & Sons, which was operated by his direct descendants until the last of the line, James Burke, died in 1987. To this day, the business remains in operation on Broadway in Saratoga Springs.

The earliest Burke archives include Holmes records. A call book has on page 50 the generals name, age, and date of death recorded in immaculate Victorian script. The funeral home also has a collection of antique coffin hardware, prototypes of those used on Grants coffin. Among the other artifacts is antique embalming equipment, which is stored in an old brown leather satchel that looks like an over-sized doctors bag.

Grant left explicit instructions. He wanted his body embalmed so the funeral would not have to be rushed because of the intense summer heat. And that summer was inordinately hot and humid, even in the Adirondacks. A little more than two weeks would pass between the day Grant died, July 23, and the final service in New York City on Aug. 8. The need was urgent to use every and all resources available to keep the body from decomposing. Holmes & Co., under the supervision of Grants doctors, performed the embalming, which took two days. Grants body lay in state at the cottage until the funeral service there on Aug. 4. From a newspaper account of the day, Ebenezer Holmes was quite proud of his handiwork and reported that the deep lines and furrows on Grants face disappeared after the process. One of the doctors trumpeted, the body is in a wonderful state of preservation and will retain it in a very natural condition... In subsequent newspaper interviews, the embalmers boasted of longer preservation time, one said the preservation would last up to six months. After embalming, the body was placed in the ice casket as an extra measure. The polished red cedar coffin, which was being shipped by rail from Rochester, would not arrive until July 29.

After the viewing and services at the Mount McGregor cottage, Grants body was transported by train to Albany. At the state capital, there was public viewing for three nights and two days. Another train brought the body to New York City, where on Aug. 8, the third and final service was conducted. Historically, there was always controversy surrounding Grants embalming. It was reported that two of the generals brothers were unnerved by the body's appearance when they viewed it in Albany. In the Victorian era, a time commonly thought of as prim and austere, it was interesting to read contemporary newspaper stories that reflected the publics morbid concern over rumors of the body's rapid decomposition. Some of those published newspaper stories were quite graphic and detailed in describing the state of the body surprisingly clinical in an era when one might think such indelicate topics would not be fodder for polite public discourse.

After the body arrived in New York City, Merritt worked to quell growing rumors about its deterioration. He invited reporters to a private viewing to prove the body was in good condition. However, on the same day of Merritt's published assurances, another newspaper story ran counter to it. It stated that the flesh looked puffy and the skin took on loosely...the nose contracted slightly... dark rings are readily observable about the eyes...the temple shows signs of discoloration...a few slight touches with a stick of paint along with white powder hid the discolored spots immediately but did not obliterate them. Apparently there were problems with the procedure right from the outset. The primitive electrical lighting in the cottage was poor when the embalming was done and the generals skin appeared discolored. The upstate embalming team had to apply bleaching solution on July 30 before the body was initially placed on public display in the cottage.

Nearly a century later, a rumor persisted that Holmes & Co. had blundered in mixing the embalming chemicals and caused the former Presidents skin to turn black. At the time of the incident, the East Coast press picked up on this rumor and wrote a series of scathing articles about the embalmers. These stories were subsequently circulated nationwide. The public was scandalized that its war hero and former president could be so desecrated in death. Merritt quickly did a bit of touching-up while in Albany, especially after the Grant brothers discomfort. It was reported that the train ride had somewhat disheveled the body. But perhaps Merritt had to do more than the newspapers reported.

Finally, after much ceremony and pageantry, the Hero of the Civil War was safely ensconced in a temporary tomb near the construction site of his final resting place. Alas, the general was to wait another 12 years before the proverbial Grants Tomb in Manhattans Riverside Park was completed and his long journey finally ended. Apparently the furor over the embalming that dogged the entire Grant affair erupted into litigation. Holmes and Merritt became embroiled in a lawsuit over the payment of a bill for $68. The outcome was not made known. Whatever happened during the Grant affair may be left to speculation. Who, if anyone, was at blame? Maybe it was just a matter of nature still having an edge over the unrefined embalming process when, unfortunately, the eyes of the world were watching.

In an era when grave-robbing was not uncommon, the Grant family was also concerned about securing the generals remains. Another upstate company owned by a Patrick Cregan of Troy, had recently patented a ghoul and burglar-proof metal air-tight burial vault. The Grants immediately purchased this 19th century state-of-the-art technology to safeguard the generals coffin.

The President's first tomb in which he rested till 1897.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Campbell Soup Company making tomato soup in 1935. From an article in Fortune Magazine.

This is just part of the article that was in Fortune. But it is something to see how things worked and operated in Camden, NJ at the Campbell plant. I am sure it is very different today at the Campbell plant, where ever it is? But what is special and so different from today is the company relied on farmers to bring in crops. Today companies like this have their own farms.

Note the vintage of some of the trucks bringing in the tomatoes. They were very old in 1935! Lastly, the lady who sits with a spoon and adds a little here and there to make sure it is ten and a half ounces. There is a homey quality to the whole process.

The Stromberg Carlson radio with the"acoustical labyrinth". It was very much in a way like an orthophonic horned machine or today's Bose Wave Radio.

This explains it

As you can see in this article, the radio/phonograph was remote controled and had a "acoustical labyrinth". This was a massive advertizing ploy on their part. It was a great idea and it sold radios.

Here above it explains the acoustical labyrinth commercially.

The tag that would be on all Stromberg Carlson radio and phonographs with the labyrinth. However, I recall talking to an old radio man years ago who said it was just a bunch of nonsense. Just some cardboard. Not a folded horn that was in the orthophonic machines made by Victor and later RCA.

As you can see in this picture below, here is one of the horns unwrapped...and I was surprised to see it is all cardboard.

So did it work? I guess it did to a degree. In fact it was one of the many horn types of radios that have come onto the market leading up to the Bose Wave Radio and speakers which are basically folded horns, not too unlike the orthophonic and to a degree the acoustical labyrinth of the 1930's. Just smaller in size.

It is interesting to note that the orthophonic of the 1920's and the acoustical labyrinth of the 1930's and 40's were noted for the bass they produced, and if we look at the modern follower the Bose Wave too is famous for its bass, and for a labyrinth of design that re-enforces the bass and treble it reproduces like it's fore bearers.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The early telephone. It had a lot of info on it.

In the days of early telephones there was a lot going on. This telephone piece from the 1880's lists all the various patents and developers in its progression. This piece has the names of all who were involved and at war with each other in regards to the telephone. Names that grace it's front are Bell, Berliner, Edison and Blake. Now Bell and Edison have instant recognition, Berliner and even more so Blake do not. Those two men made a quite a bit of history I will discuss in the future. But one has to remember that this was war. Bell and Edison were not on the best of terms. Berliner and Blake were allied. So the 1880's was a big time of adventure, high jinx, and innovation on the device we call the telephone. I thought it would be nice to share the face of one of the early phones with you.

This wonderful piece is from an age when the telephone was in its infancy. Soon to become a giant in the 20th century.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A piece of the USS Shenandoah... America's first Airship ZR-1

The USS. Shenandoah in happier days in Lakehurst, New Jersey. She was based there from 1923 till 1925.

Here you see part of the wreck of the airship. She made her first flight on September 4, 1923, she crashed on September 3, 1925. She was in service for just 2 years. Her crash led to better designs for airships that would appear in the future.

The ship hit a massive storm over Ohio and broke into 3 pieces. Several men aboard were killed as they fell from the crashing airship. Also the control car broke from the ship itself and crashed killing all on that part of the ship. After its crash there was a great deal of morbid curiosity about the ship. It was flocked by many who took not only a good deal of the fabric of the vessel, but also the log and many other important items.
Some parts of the ship in time have surfaced in collections and shows. But this crash also led to the writing of a very popular song that was recorded for many phonograph companies. It was called "The wreck of the Shenandoah" It sold well for many years after the event.

Here is an original piece of the fabric of the ZR-1.....The USS Shenandoah

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The End of books...a comment.

The article that directly follows this is a piece called the "End of Books". Of course it is just a story about a dinner party and the comment of what may come. Well as you can see at the time of this writing in 2011, there are still books. In 1894 the phonograph had just arrived on the scene in a rather crude form, but was still an amazing thing. Sort of like our TV's were like in 1935. We all dreamed of what would be and as usual nothing like what we dreamed ever happened.

So what of books? Yes people do not write or read books like they once did. But that does not mean the book is dead. I think books will continue to be read and printed on paper but, mostly electronically as time goes on. But there will always be books around here and there.
There will always be the holdouts who will never give them up. So has technology made the book obsolete? In a way yes, but also, in a way no. For there still is something magical and enjoyable about holding a book in your hands and using your mind and imagination. Just the feel of the book has a special meaning at least to me. Plus there are some areas where the book still holds its own.
I have my own library and that equals into a lot of books. But that is something as long as I live, I would not like to be without.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The End of Books..... An article from the August 1894 Scribner's Magazine

Are books dead? We hear that all the time today. Today with audio books and all kinds of electronic devices to store books,information and the like we think of books as a flash from the past. This article from 1894 is interesting to read as it brushes the future as to our entertainment and how we gain our information. Some of it is funny and some reminds me of our present time. Specially on the next to last page as we see a woman watching a picture and listening in her chair. Like a precursor to TV. Also on that next to last page you will see a trainload of people all with earphones on. Lastly a few pages before that you will see a person on a walk with earphones on and listening to his book. Of course my favorite is the last illustration that shows a lady seeing the doctor as her hearing is impaired by the loud recordings. Boy isn't that right on. You can see an entire generation today that will be in severe need of hearing aids in the future.

So enjoy this wonderful piece on the end of books and the outlook for new technology.