September 29, 2001
THE BUSTER KEATON AD above is among the hundreds of treasures to be found over at http://www.silent-stars.com. This is one of those sites that's so wonderful, I can't believe I didn't
discover it until now. (Thanks, Buzz.) They have on-line video clips of great silent movie stars, photos and memorabilia, filmographies,
links to other sites...everything. And they also cover a lot of the lesser stars; not just Keaton, Chaplin and Fairbanks. If you're
interested in silent films, prepare to spend a lot of time there.
AS YOU MAY HAVE noted, we've done another facelift of this site's design...last one for a while, I promise, I hope. (If
you want to see one of the best-designed websites around, go to George Harrison's
allthingsmustpass.com. See what you can do when you have enough money to get Terry Gilliam to design your page.)
AND LET'S NOTE that a prediction made here a week or so ago has already come true: Folks are finding ways to link Osama bin
Laden to George W. Bush's oil deals. Here's a link
to an article that may or may not be true. And here's a
link to a Judicial Watch press release which, since it's Larry Klayman and Judicial Watch, probably isn't.
My long-time friend Joe Brancatelli has been writing important articles about the airline industry for years, and they were (note the
past-tense) available at www.biztravel.com. But don't click there to go read any since
that on-line travel agency went under last week. Joe's fine pieces are now available at his own website.
AND NOW, remember what you paid to get in, as we present more musings on what's been happening...
- The current in-the-stratosphere popularity ratings for George W. Bush are interesting because, of course, they have little to do with
George W. Bush or anything he's done. He's read a few speeches well and ad-libbed poorly, but does anyone really know, let alone approve of,
the White House strategy for coping with Osama bin Laden and his merry band of suicidal terrorists? That Americans would rally around their
President at such a time is unsurprising — though I have to wonder if President Al Gore, doing and saying the exact same things, would have the
same support. Seems to me we'd be hearing a lot of complaints that it's been more than two weeks and we haven't bombed anyone into
oblivion. Just as Nixon could go to Red China without arousing the ire of Conservatives and Bill Clinton could trim welfare without a lot of
Liberal outrage, a Republican prez can take his time about charging into military action.
- A friend at ABC tells me that Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect is in no real danger of cancellation. Moreover, sez the
friend, it was never that perilous. True, a number of affiliates dropped him because of what I thought were rather tepid comments, deliberately
misinterpreted by those who were waiting for an opportunity to dump on Maher. But this should be viewed in light of the fact that his lead-in,
Nightline, has been running an hour most nights, bumping Maher later anyway, and forcing affiliates to drop something in their
overnight line-up. In any case, the sponsors are creeping back and the affiliates, it is believed, will re-affiliate, especially after
Nightline return to (mainly) half-hour telecasts.
- Mr. Maher may wind up being the poster boy for a frightening disease that is seeping through our still-reeling population. It has
to do with labeling as "unpatriotic," not only any criticism of our military but, in some cases, any facet of the Executive branch of government, as
well. I have never been a big fan of flag-waving, not because there's anything wrong with singing "God Bless America" but because it too often
accompanies a kind of jingoistic, unreal form of denial. As others have noted, saying "I love my country" is pretty much the least one can do,
and a real patriot does things for his or her country that require a little more sacrifice than putting a $6.95 flag on one's car. A solution
to the current crisis may begin with that kind of thing but if it ends there, nothing will get fixed.
- Right now, a lot of the conservative press seems to be railing against what it calls the "Blame America First" crowd, and those who are
opposing our President. Trouble is, there doesn't seem to be much of a crowd there. The examples they cite are trivial and
inconsequential, and there are so many straw men being erected, Ray Bolger's estate should be getting royalties. I can only surmise that the
self-proclaimed "Real Americans" are getting in practice because they know that a lot more criticism is possible, if not probable. What we've
seen to date is something of a pre-emptive strike.
- In the meantime, the travel industry is in chaos. I'm getting e-mails from Vegas hotels offering me rooms for nothing or
next-to-nothing, and National Airlines — which was already in bankruptcy — is offering tickets for $25-$50. Here, however, is the
problem: I have no fear of flying but it's now become understandably inconvenient. If I have to get to LAX two hours before my one-hour flight
to Las Vegas, I might as well drive. That way, I don't have to worry about being searched and probed to see if I'm carrying nail
clippers. (But the truth is that I probably won't go at all. Vegas doesn't sound like a lot of fun these days...)
- I fear we're in for a tasteless spate of movies, TV shows and even comic books that fictionalize the events in and around the World
Trade Center disaster, all seeking to make coin or poach on the emotions but hiding behind the moral cover of "tribute." Even though some of
the authors may have the best of intentions, I wonder if the greatest tribute is not to leave the whole, tragic event in its grim reality. It
will be especially easy for super-hero comic books to make this mistake. For years, disasters of this sort (or worse) have occurred or been
prevented about five times a week in the nation's funnybooks. The whole notions of cataclysm and heroism, as they relate to the world in which
you and I reside, are wildly out of skew in a mythos where whole universes get eradicated and thousands of people can fly and tear down brick
walls. Comics can pay Lip Service to the victims or, more likely, the "real super-heroes," (i.e., rescue workers) and that may impress
those who cream when their super-hero comics connect at all with Real Life. But I'll bet most of it will be morally indistinguishable from
jacking up the prices on American flags these days.
ONE MORE CORRECTION to my foreword in the just-released Volume 1 of The Blackhawk Archives. The little bio of me
says I've collaborated with Sergio Aragonés on more than "60" issues of Groo the Wanderer. That should be 160. And, hey,
wasn't this a great time to be bringing out a reprint collection of comics about the days before the U.S. entered World War II?
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