Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Harvey Weinstein Blog

Many years ago in Springfield, a couple of enterprising young men decided to open a bank.  They were very creative and wanted a bank that everyone would want to visit.  Yes, they followed the banking laws, but cut corners.  They did this to provide services customers would shout about (and tell others).  For example, they offered loans that had a much lower interest rate than other banks.  In addition, they offered them to about everyone who applied. 
One of the corners they cut included not installing a bank vault.  They kept all the money stacked up on a table.  Oh, it was well behind the teller’s counter, but also in clear site of everyone who came into the bank.

“This way people will know their money is here,” one of the men explained.  “Not stashed away in some other business or unscrupulous enterprise.”

Their employees were very reliable and never took any of the money.  They also never talked to others about how the money sat on the table day and night.

The bank flourished.  One day a competing banker came in to investigate why this one had taken so much of his own business.  He almost immediately noticed the large pile of money on the table behind the tellers.  A little bell went off in his head.  He wandered back and forth in the lobby inspecting the bank.  He waved at the two men who started this thriving business then hurried out.  He laughed, whistled a tune and skipped a few times as he walked back to his own bank. 
Now although this banker did not look like a nice person, he wasn’t a thief either.  Oh, he had dirty stock deals and lousy loans like most of the other bankers, but he never robbed a bank.  This would be too easy though.  He could get away with this and no one would suspect him because, well, he was a banker.
Later that night he broke into the competing bank and took all the money off the table.  He giddily ran home, threw it on his bed, and rolled around in all the loot.  He really loved money.

The next day the police came and investigated, but could not figure out who stole the money.  They chastised the two bankers for not having a vault and walked out.  The police did promise to keep working on the case, but not much got accomplished.
The townspeople all expressed sorrow for the two men who got robbed, but also said the men should have invested in a vault or done something more positive to prevent the theft. 
Eventually the police found out that another banker stole the money.  After all, he was quite often seen with lots of money hanging out of his pockets and spending a great deal on chocolate and beer.  Other bankers swore they’d never do anything like steal or buy too much chocolate.  They all insisted they were good people.  The thief escaped to Tahiti.  No one believed he’d ever face justice, but they hoped he'd pay the price for this crime. 

The two young bankers commiserated with other bankers robbed of money.  These others never bothered to tell anyone or call the police until after this incident.  After all, they were bankers and wanted to stay in business. 
The outcry became louder and louder.  Soon all the bankers agreed they should never steal money.  After a year, the two young entrepreneurs wrote a book about the affair and made more money.  They opened a credit union.  To the relief of everyone, they also bought a bank vault.

What do you mean you think The Thurber Brigade should have called this another sidestep?  It’s about relationships between men and women.  Don’t expect us to explain to you this allegory about the Harvey Weinstein controversy.  Sheesh, next you’ll want us to explain what the end of the TV show “Lost” meant, or to tell you how Koala bears somehow made it to Noah’s ark.  Like all GREAT literature, this is just another one you’ll have to think about on your own—although we’d really appreciate comments (no cursing please).

Friday, October 6, 2017

John Wayne, Women's Tennis and Radicalization

Although today it seems rather odd given that I consider myself a Progressive, as a youth one of my heroes was John Wayne.  Everyone knows his politics leaned to the right.  However, looking at some of his movies from a political aspect, he starred in numerous ones that espoused Liberal issues.
For example, one of my favorites is “The Sons of Katie Elder.”  Oh sure, on the surface it may seem to be the story of wayward boys returning home to pay respects to their departed mother, but if you look a little deeper, you'll find progressive themes.  Basically, these rough boys stand up against an unjust system and fight a ruthless corporation who is backed by local law enforcement. In other words, the little guy against a plutocracy.

I know, you missed that too.  I didn't really grasp this message until I aged a bit (hey, don’t say grew old). As a kid, I just saw it as standing up to injustice no matter the odds.

So the seeds of my radicalization (the view of my conservative friends on anyone who doesn't hold their views) had begun.  Yes, standing up for the little guy against injustice, instead of just concerning yourself with what benefits you, is radical here in the U.S. You are a bleeding heart Liberal.

Well, those seeds that had been planted began to blossom while in college.  Nope, not over the Vietnam War.  It began with tennis.  Women's tennis.  Yes, true to The Thurber Brigade theme, it turns out women made me that raging, radical Liberal.

In my sophomore year at Texas Tech (eventually got my degree from the University of Texas; another story), my friends and I went out to play tennis at the spanking new student tennis courts.  However, they had been taken over by the women’s tennis team for some match against another school.  I should point out that at this time the men’s team had some really nice courts they used exclusively, while the women’s courts were, well, they were crappier than something you’d find in a public park. 

For some reason, the men’s team was unwilling to share their nice courts. The women’s team, not wishing to irritate them or the athletic department (controlled by men), decided to instead make a move on the common students—who probably had even less power or voice with those in charge.  Historical note: Title IX had only recently kicked in (1972) and women’s sports across the US were very slowly getting their due.  Very, very slowly.

Outraged at this, I did the only thing voiceless and powerless people have done for years: I wrote a letter to the editor of the school newspaper.  Although I’m sure it was an explosive and moving letter, the only part I remember is that I used the phrase “the students get screwed again.”  Probably the only reason I remember that phrase is because I heard some “suits” repeat it as they walked out of the rowdy hearing that resulted from said letter.

That’s right, my first attempt at social justice somehow touched a nerve across campus.  Soon other angry letters flooded the paper, and with some threatening to organize a protest rally the administration decided the way to calm things would be to have an open discussion between students, the women’s team and the administration.

My friends and I joined the packed house and even got to sit at the front table opposite the suits.  Because the student courts were paid for by a special fee assigned to us, we believed we had the upper-hand and we attempted to stress that although we supported the women’s team and thought they were treated unfairly, it wasn’t right to be equally unfair to us.  We also, numerous times, asked why the men and women teams couldn’t share the men’s team courts.

To this day I proudly declare to everyone that we had an impact.  The women’s team only played on the student courts one more time after that, supposedly because they didn’t have enough time to reschedule.  However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the administration had begun to feel pressure because of Title IX and relented to have the men and women’s teams share until something new could be built for the women.
So my radicalization had begun.  I would fight for justice and the little guy thereafter.  As mentioned in a previous blog, I worked for enlisted people’s rights while in the Army, I took part in several civil rights demonstrations and well, let’s just say I fought for issues in which John Wayne would not show up for the rallies.  You know, radical Liberal ideas like clean air and water, fair pay, feed the poor, etc.

Now before you say it also began my opposition to women, let me point out that half of the crowd supporting my friends and I were women. Plus, I have—and always will—support women’s rights, from equal pay to their right to choose what happens to their bodies.  However, I’m also willing to make fun of them and say sarcastic things about their habits.  Yes, the Brigade marches on. 

The Thurber Brigade does not believe that having Progressive ideals makes a person radical.  However, thanks to Fox News relentless war on Liberals many people now believe that standing for clean air and water, equal rights, fair pay, well, anything not approved by the Neocon pundits is just short of being card-carrying Communists.  However, if standing up for the welfare of others throws us into that crowd, then we're proud to be radical.