Archive for the '20th Century' Category


Mouthbreather Bar Misremembers War

History Is Bunk (To Brahs)

Call me a stickler, but when Murphy’s Bleachers in Wrigleyville decided to infamously promote its drink specials on Pearl Harbor Day, it wasn’t the cheap marketing I found galling. If not for cheap marketing, the backward-hatted morons who frequent places like Murphy’s would have no idea what to do with themselves, and everybody needs guidance in a confusing world, especially our dumbest bros.

What irritated me about the sign wasn’t the pimping of the 72nd birthday of our country’s sadly eternal military-industrial complex.  It was the predictably boneheaded bungling of the underlying history itself.

See, brah, you can’t commemorate Pearl Harbor by buying a Kamikaze cocktail.  It’s impossible, for the same reason that you can’t commemorate the 1990 Iraq War by buying a 9/11 t-shirt with a crying eagle on it.

Because there were no Kamikazes — aka suicide pilots — at Pearl Harbor, nor fighting anywhere else in Japan’s military for years following.  Suicide attack is a tactic born of desperation.  On December 7, 1941 the Japanese were anything but desperate.

The Imperial Navy and its aviators, having sunk most of the US Pacific fleet on Dec. 7th were left on Dec 8th as the dominant force in the war in the Pacific.  For six months, the US was unquestionably losing World War 2.  It wasn’t until June, 1942 that the US Navy’s aircraft carriers engaged in the Battle of Midway the same Japanese carriers that so successfully attacked Pearl Harbor.

Midway was the beginning of the end for Japanese ambitions in the Pacific, as three of its aircraft carriers were sunk and most of the pilots and aircraft that won the day at Pearl Harbor were killed.

When your A team is wiped out, you’re left with the B and C teams.  Soon after, Japan lost even those, as US manufacturing power poured ships and planes into the Pacific in the following years, mounting an inexorable island-hopping march toward the Japanese mainland.

It was desperation, years after Pearl Harbor that brought forward the Kamikazes in late 1944.

See, brah, things have dates.  Events occur in order of time. Dumbing history down to high-five-engendering drink specials is no way to go through life.

Here’s a hint, broseph.  Just down the street from Murphy’s, there’s a tavern where you can bet your sandals and fannypack they won’t get these details wrong.  It’s called Nisei Lounge. 

Nisei, you may be surprised to learn, is not the name of a cocktail.  It is the name given to the Japanese-American citizens who, despite having their families rounded up and shipped to concentration camps in remote locations across 18 US states, signed up to fight for the US in WWII.  If you head over there to learn something, good for you.

Just remember: you can’t listen while you’re flapping your Miller Lite-hole. Smarten up and quiet down.


Gerry Casale’s Oral History Of DEVO

In a turkey(monkey) coma this Thanksgiving? Snap out of it with these 1995 clips of DEVO’s Gerald V. Casale as he tells the story of five pilgrims from Akron, OH who sailed to Los Angeles in a Plymouth only to collide with a rock called the music industry.

Marvel at tales of Booji Boy, he who is old as the mountains but as yet unborn!  Learn of the earliest days of Art DEVO, of the Poot Man and his dairy intake, of janitor supply stores,  McDonald’s restaurant managers and other stanchions of Akronian society!

It’s a wiggly world full of strange pursuits and unkeyed chroma.  Light up a stogie (really?) with Gerry and reflect on a job well done.


Chalmers A. Johnson 1931-2010

Have closed libraries, unfixed potholes and darkened streets gotten your attention?  Wondering why the country’s come down with a nasty case of the declines?  Curious about how the abuses of runaway capitalism seem sharpened and deepened for everybody, yet somehow, business is actually booming for builders of fighter aircraft and submarines designed to combat the Soviet Union in 1978?

Chalmers Johnson was way ahead of you.  As a cold war Navy and CIA analyst, Johnson carried a spear for empire, then laid it down and began talking in great detail and clarity about the “military Keynesianism” he had served. His “Blowback” trilogy is absolutely essential reading that illustrates the hidden reality of the US’s unchallenged permanent war economy.   Johnson’s work reveals that far from being a cyclic ill, militarism is actually life’s blood to every corner the US economy. His trilogy is the categorical detailing of Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address warning concerning the military-industrial-congressional complex.

Hours ago, Chalmers Johnson passed away, and is already missed. While many who served US policy knew something about Eisenhower’s speech, far fewer acknowledged its ramifications and even fewer had the guts to talk about it.


Harvey Pekar 1939-2010

Sadly, the RW370 NBC Letterman category gets a bump today. Harvey Pekar, writer of American Splendor, the deeply funny and mordant autobiographical comic book anthology that obliterated the long-presumed gap between comics and literature has passed away in his Cleveland home. He was 70.

Pekar’s insistence upon maintaining his idea of the lifestyle and ethos of a steadily and modestly-employed, nose-to-the-grindstone midwesterner (he kept a job as a file clerk in a Cleveland hospital his entire working life) brought him attention beyond his writing work, culminating in the terrific 2003 film adaptation of Splendor starring Paul Giamatti as Harvey.

During the 1980s, the irascible and combative Pekar appeared on David Letterman’s show several times. Always essential viewing, these were cut short by Pekar’s unwillingness to overlook the many sins of General Electric, NBC’s corporate parent, as the clip demonstrates. So long, Harvey.


Pere Ubu On Letterman: Worlds In Collision

We get a glimpse of show business’s hidden ritual abuse of musicians as Dave discusses the effrontery of the show’s performance arrangements for Pere Ubu in the 1989(?) clip. As per the show’s other longstanding policy of requiring musical performances to be shared by Paul Schaeffer and the house band, the forced hybridization of Ubu is in this case not a displeasing one.


DEVO’s Gerald V. Casale on Kent State Massacre’s 40th Anniversary

Eyewitness recounting of the Kent State shootings from DEVO’s co-founder. Witness the birth of DEVO – the sound of things falling apart – on a campus hilltop in Ohio.

(RW370 video embed not working)


Tex Avery / Walter Lantz: Sssshhhh!

Picked this up from the incomparable Drew Friedman, sending it right back out to Mike Greenlees and all the crumbsnatcher Tex Avery fans at Casa de Greenlees: Sssshhh! Haven’t seen it in years, probably not since Channel 32 used to show Woody Woodpecker cartoons after-school in the late 70s. It’s got the Tex Avery silly/goofy physics and signage right along with that Walter Lantz subtle weirdness – all mixed in with the Okeh Laughing Record. Sssshhh!



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