Category Archive 'Americana'
25 Mar 2020

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The kid in the photo is not me.

But it strikes a chord. When I was a little kid, pre-school, I was allowed to adopt as a toy a huge old Damascus 10 gauge double-barreled shotgun. Only one hammer worked. My parents knew perfectly well that I had no way of getting any 10 gauge ammunition, and the gun was a junker that would probably have blown up if anybody actually tried firing it. My neighborhood gang and I treated it in our games as a cannon and we’d wheel it around on a flexible flyer wagon. We eventually played that old junker into pieces.

22 Mar 2020

Americans Love Living in a Disaster Movie

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Chadwick Moore has America pegged.

When something truly unnerving arrives, like a global pandemic, America serves up just the right pitch of high-octane, Hollywood disaster-flick pandemonium to make the whole thing a bit zanier and more camp. The world depends on us for that. We invented the genre. China may have unleashed a deadly and mysterious new virus but Americans have long infected the planet with our sense of drama.

That’s what we do. Americans are in the business of entertainment, not only with our films, but our politics, vapid celebrities, and gregarious displays of mass hysteria when a crisis hits. Or, when there’s no crisis at all — like a vote recount, a sex scandal, or the release of a new iPhone — America remains Earth’s favorite reality TV show.

We can’t help it. We’re exhibitionists by nature and a highly theatrical, expressive people. When a camera is rolling, average Americans, more than other nationalities, know the game, and we’re ready to perform. Local news stations across the US provide the world with its greatest viral video stars. If you doorstep a stranger in Possum Gulch, Arkansas, at a Gristedes on the Upper West Side, or outside a housing project in Nashville, Tennessee, chances are you’re going to meet a real character who’s eager to put on a show. We’re that way off camera, as well. I recall, in my early twenties, living in a cramped London flat with four Brits and three Americans. If we all were gathered in the common room the Brits would sit back, utterly amused, and watch the Americans interact, as though we were a sitcom. ‘You’re like an episode of Friends’, one said. ‘You’re like cartoon characters’, another said. We know, thanks!

RTWT

HT: Karen L. Myers.

19 Mar 2020

“And They Lived Happily Ever After…”

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HT: Karen L. Myers.

11 Mar 2020

Texas, 1927

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HT: Karen L. Myers.

21 Jan 2020

Every State’s Least Favorite State

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15 Nov 2019

Indiana Is Clearly Still Part of the Real America

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Judges Andrew Adams, Sabrina Bell and Bradley Jacobs.

NPR describes an unfortunate situation involving three Indiana judges where things got a bit out of control that might happen to anyone:

Back in May, three Indiana judges got into a fight. It was the crescendo of an incident brimming with colorful details: a gaggle of judges drinking the night before a judicial conference, a failed attempt to visit a strip club called the Red Garter, a brawl in the parking lot of an Indianapolis White Castle.

The altercation apparently started sometime after 3 a.m., when one of the judges, Sabrina Bell, raised a middle finger at two men yelling from a passing SUV, and ended after one of those men shot two of the judges.

In between, the three judges took a number of actions that “discredited the entire Indiana judiciary,” according to an opinion posted by the Indiana Supreme Court this week, suspending the judges.

The court found that the three — Andrew Adams, Bradley Jacobs and Sabrina Bell — had “engaged in judicial misconduct by appearing in public in an intoxicated state and behaving in an injudicious manner and by becoming involved in a verbal altercation.” Adams and Jacobs engaged in further judicial misconduct “by becoming involved in a physical altercation for which Judge Adams was criminally charged and convicted.”

The document lays out the events as soberly as possible, but the details remain spicy:

    “While in town to attend a statewide educational conference for judicial officers, 10 hours before the program convened, Respondents walked the streets of downtown Indianapolis in a heavily intoxicated state. When Judge Bell extended her middle finger to a passing vehicle, neither Judge Adams nor Judge Jacobs discouraged the provocation or removed themselves from the situation.”

The three had ended up at a White Castle after trying to go to a strip club at 3 a.m. and finding it closed. A fourth judge went into the White Castle, while Bell, Adams and Jacobs stood outside.

Two men in the passing vehicle, Alfredo Vazquez and Brandon Kaiser, parked their car after the gesture from Bell.

Bell and Vazquez traded further insults. A physical altercation ensued among the four men, with Adams and Vazquez allegedly hitting and kicking each other as Jacobs and Kaiser wrestled on the ground. Kaiser then allegedly pulled a gun and shot Adams once in the stomach and Jacobs twice in the chest.

Adams and Jacobs were both seriously wounded and required emergency surgeries; Jacobs was hospitalized for two weeks.

Bell tried to stop the fighting by pounding on the door of White Castle for help and calling 911 once shots were fired.

While at the scene, Bell was recorded on video telling police detectives something akin to “I feel like this is all my fault,” though the opinion notes that Bell “was intoxicated enough that she lacks any memory of the incident.”

Kaiser, who allegedly shot Adams and Jacobs, has been charged with 14 crimes related to the brawl, including four charges of felony aggravated battery, according to The Indianapolis Star.

The court suspended both Jacobs and Bell for 30 days without pay. Adams, who pleaded guilty in September to one count of misdemeanor battery, is suspended for 60 days without pay. He was sentenced to 365 days in jail but was required to serve only two.

In the White Castle incident, the court said, the three judges “gravely undermined public trust in the dignity and decency of Indiana’s judiciary.”

RTWT

10 Oct 2019

And This Used to Be a Free Country!

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The NY Post reports that, these days, you can’t even try to get an alligator drunk without getting arrested and fined.

A Florida man was reportedly arrested for trying to get an alligator drunk after his pal captured the reptile.

Timothy Kepke, 27, of Hobe Sound allegedly fed some beer to the animal, which also bit him, on Aug. 26 in Palm City, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report obtained by TC Palm.

Moments earlier, Kepke told police, Noah Osborne, 22, caught the gator with his bare hands, the report said.

Kepke told authorities he had consumed a few beers that day, but claimed he wasn’t intoxicated during the incident.

After the beer feeding, which was recorded, the duo released the animal back into the wild, Kepke told officers.

Authorities obtained the video, though it’s unclear how, and on Sept. 17 confronted Kepke at his home, where he copped to the crime.

RTWT

09 Oct 2019

“Jeep in a Crate” — A Persistent Urban Legend

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Somebody posted the above photograph in the Vintage Firearms Discussion Group on Facebook (the link probably won’t work if you aren’t a member), and a lengthy argument ensued. I’m afraid the skeptics won.

WWII Jeep Parts debunks the legend:

“Cheap Army Surplus Jeeps! You can buy a brand new jeep in a crate for $50!” Ads with headlines like this ran for decades in the back of Boy’s Life, Popular Mechanics, and several other magazines I used to read as a kid in the 1960’s (and those ads probably ran in the 1940’s and 1950’s as well). The ads promised to tell you how to buy Willys MB and Ford GPW jeeps and other government surplus for extremely low prices. They charged a fee for sending you this information. You mailed in your payment and waited for the postman to deliver the pamphlet that would divulge the secrets of buying tools, equipment, jeeps, trucks, etc. etc. on the cheap for “your fun and profit”.

RTWT

29 Sep 2019

Foggy Night, New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1941

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12 Jul 2019

“We Just Need Common Sense Radioactive Snake Control”

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ABC News:

Officers in Oklahoma made a startling discovery after arresting two people at a traffic stop, only to find that their vehicle contained a rattlesnake, a canister of uranium, an open bottle of whiskey and a firearm, authorities said Wednesday.

An officer with the Guthrie Police Department had pulled over Stephen Jennings and Rachael Rivera for driving with expired tags on June 26, Sgt. Anthony Gibbs told ABC News. After the officer discovered that Jennings was driving with an expired license and Rivera was a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, both were placed under arrest, Gibbs said.

The vehicle, a Ford Explorer, was impounded because it did not have insurance. It was later discovered that the vehicle had been stolen.

“So when the impound of the vehicle begins and they start moving compartments, here’s the rattlesnake in the backseat,” Gibbs said. “It was surprising to the officer, obviously.”

As the officers continued to search the vehicle, they spotted an open bottle of Kentucky Deluxe whiskey near a firearm, the sergeant said. Then they discovered a container of “yellowish powder” that was labeled “Uranium.”

Jennings, of Logan County, told officers that he had the uranium because he recently purchased a Geiger counter to test metals, and the chemical element came with the purchase. He joked with officers that he was trying to create a “super snake,” Gibbs added.

04 Jul 2019

It’s the End of the Road for Mad Magazine

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Mad Magazine, 1952 – 2019.

Brooklyn Vegan has sad news.

Mad magazine, which has been bringing the world satire and snappy comebacks to stupid questions for 67 years, will largely stop publishing new content after its next issue which is due this fall. There will still be regular issues of Mad but will feature “classic, best of and nostalgic content” with a new cover. Publisher DC Comics says there will still be end-of-year specials “which will always be new.” In this new form, Mad will also only be available in comic book stores and to subscribers.

Founded in 1952, Mad began as a comic before switching to a magazine format in 1955.

It must be becoming impossible to produce a humor magazine based on satire when real everyday events so frequently are even more preposterous.

11 Jun 2019

E.B. White, “Once More to the Lake”

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Winslow Homer, Adirondack Lake, 1892, Fogg Museum, Harvard University.

There was once a time when even literati, like E.B. White, writing for the hoity-toity New Yorker were not above relishing memories of hellgramites and bait hooks; of vacation lakes, black bass, and canoes, of tricks in running hit-and-miss engines.

It seemed to me, as I kept remembering all this, that those times and those summers had been infinitely precious and worth saving. There had been jollity and peace and goodness. The arriving (at the beginning of August) had been so big a business in itself, at the railway station the farm wagon drawn up, the first smell of the pine-laden air, the first glimpse of the smiling farmer, and the great importance of the trunks and your father’s enormous authority in such matters, and the feel of the wagon under you for the long ten-mile haul, and at the top of the last long hill catching the first view of the lake after eleven months of not seeing this cherished body of water. The shouts and cries of the other campers when they saw you, and the trunks to be unpacked, to give up their rich burden. (Arriving was less exciting nowadays, when you sneaked up in your car and parked it under a tree near the camp and took out the bags and in five minutes it was all over, no fuss, no loud wonderful fuss about trunks.)

Peace and goodness and jollity. The only thing that was wrong now, really, was the sound of the place, an unfamiliar nervous sound of the outboard motors. This was the note that jarred, the one thing that would sometimes break the illusion and set the years moving. In those other summertimes, all motors were inboard; and when they were at a little distance, the noise they made was a sedative, an ingredient of summer sleep. They were one-cylinder and two-cylinder engines, and some were make-and-break and some were jump-spark, but they all made a sleepy sound across the lake. The one-lungers throbbed and fluttered, and the twin-cylinder ones purred and purred, and that was a quiet sound too. But now the campers all had outboards. In the daytime, in the hot mornings, these motors made a petulant, irritable sound; at night, in the still evening when the afterglow lit the water, they whined about one’s ears like mosquitoes. My boy loved our rented outboard, and his great desire was to achieve single-handed mastery over it, and authority, and he soon learned the trick of choking it a little (but not too much), and the adjustment of the needle valve. Watching him I would remember the things you could do with the old one-cylinder engine with the heavy flywheel, how you could have it eating out of your hand if you got really close to it spiritually. Motor boats in those days didn’t have clutches, and you would make a landing by shutting off the motor at the proper time and coasting in with a dead rudder. But there was a way of reversing them, if you learned the trick, by cutting the switch and putting it on again exactly on the final dying revolution of the flywheel, so that it would kick back against compression and begin reversing. Approaching a dock in a strong following breeze, it was difficult to slow up sufficiently by the ordinary coasting method, and if a boy felt he had complete mastery over his motor, he was tempted to keep it running beyond its time and then reverse it a few feet from the dock. It took a cool nerve, because if you threw the switch a twentieth of a second too soon you would catch the flywheel when it still had speed enough to go up past center, and the boat would leap ahead, charging bull-fashion at the dock.

RTWT

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