A Past Life in the News

It’s always fun to peruse the newspaper and see that you are indirectly represented in the story. While wading through endless celebrity piddle on the website of the New York Daily News, I stumbled on a movie review for an upcoming movie about CBGBs, the most famous ‘clothing boutique’ on the Bowery. While this iconic club has been repurposed to cater to the new-money hayseed transplants and suburban trust-funders that have taken over the Bowery in droves (don’t get me started), it once was the best small place your band could play in New York City. It had the best sound system and you’d always feel a sense of accomplishment after playing there, especially if you were punched in the face during or after your set. Below, club owner Hilly Kristal poses for a picture in the club while a weathered sticker representing my band subversively hangs to his left (after we’d been banned, no less) in 2005.

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http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/cbgb-movie-story-article-1.1472888

I want funny politicians.

Here in the United States, our politicians don’t serve the greater good. They serve the ‘special interest groups’ and companies that make a lot of money at the expense of everybody else and who would like to keep doing so without interference from pesky lawmakers who might actually believe in the founding principles of this country. These groups contribute generously towards campaigns for those who will ‘play ball’. The re-election campaigns start immediately after the last one has concluded, so, how can we honestly expect there to be any time for legislating?

I can’t claim credit for this idea as I have seen more than one comedian refer to it, but I believe that politicians should have corporate sponsors stitched into their suits, like NASCAR, just for transparency and to shed some light as to whom they actually serve, and why so many can be so stubborn towards real change or helpful initiatives for fear of losing sponsorship for their next campaign, which would mean having to return to their successful private law practices, book tours, and cable news appearances full time. Oh, the horror!

The pessimist in me doesn’t see this situation changing anytime soon. That’s why I choose to vote for whichever candidate I feel is the funniest. This is why I would probably still consider voting for Anthony Weiner for NYC Mayor…yeah, he messed up, but have you seen his twitter feed? Hilarious! If you are just going to go to Congress to vote “no” on everything without giving a modicum of thought to it or the people who are going to suffer for the sake of stubborn party bullshit, I at least expect funny sound bytes from you, or for you to make a spirited, self-deprecating appearance on the Daily Show to show us that there is a personality under that hairpiece of yours. That’s all you’re good for these days, anyway. I would much rather support a candidate who holds a degree from a reputable clown college over one from Yale, at the very least, your dad can’t buy your way through one of those.

King George V and Tsar Nicholas II: Inbreeding at its Finest!

It is well known amongst even the most casual of history buffs that the Royal families (or what remains of them) of Europe are all inter-related, and have been for millennia. Princes and Duchesses and Kings and Baronesses have been shuffled around the continent to be married off for military alliances, to place friendly bums upon foreign throwns, or to gain territory and prestige without warfare (sometimes).

This is why commoners have been introduced into the royal lines over time. The Marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton was on the direct order of Queen Elizabeth II, that they royal line might be refreshed and that future monarchs may not be cross-eyed, slow-witted, or missing limbs from birth.

Tsar_Nicholas_II_&_King_George_V

Georgie and Nicky here were the perfect example of this disturbingly thin DNA soup. The Germans have sat on the British Throne for the last few hundred years, while the Russo-French-Danish-German Tsar Nicholas II’s reign came to an end with a bullet (as did his immediate family)  following the Russian Revolution in 1918.

*this post is meant to be satire and should not be taken for historical fact, sort of.

Scatterbrained Research

I am a bit of a scatterbrain. I will conceive an idea, fall in love with it, research it to death, and then forget about it all in the same afternoon. Today’s project has been yet another attempt at tracing some of my family history back to Ireland and into some of our early American experience, as well. Today, thanks to the 1940 US Census, I learned that my great-uncle Martin lived as a lodger in a boarding house near the Brooklyn Bridge, while working as a laborer at a sugar factory, presumably the old Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg.

I have been doing this for years and years now, probably since I first gained access to the internet. I’ve found ship manifests from my grandparents’ voyages through Ellis Island, addresses where they lived thanks to various US Census information, and then similar information on relatives back in Ireland back to the middle of the 19th century. My father had always told me of how his aunt, who he’d never met, had been killed in 1941 during the London Blitz when the hotel she was working at was hit by a German bomb. Thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission‘s excellent record keeping and their thoughtful inclusion of civilian casualties, I was able to trace her name and the hotel at which she worked, and perished.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

It’s funny how terms change with our intentions. I’ve always loved reading history books and websites, which was always just ‘reading’ to me, but this activity is now considered ‘research’, though I enjoy it just the same.

I am trying to decide whether the Mexican-American War should be considered a lesser-known conflict for the sake of inclusion in the book.  Largely overshadowed by the American Civil War, it was no less important and is a major event in American history. Many Civil War officers and generals earned their stripes (stars?) in Mexico, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo virtually doubled the size of the country as we annexed the former Mexican territories that now make up all or parts of 10 states including Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona.

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