June 27, 2011

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere…”


A RECENT VARIATION ON A FAMOUS SONG LYRIC:

“Now that we’ve made it here, we'll make it everywhere.”
       Evan Wolfson
       American civil rights attorney and leading advocate of same-sex marriage
       Comment
in a June 25, 2011 news story about the recent state law legalizing gay marriage in New York


ORIGIN OF THE FAMILIAR LINE:

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York, New York.”
 
      
Fred Ebb
       American song lyricist
       Lyrics from the song “Theme from New York, New York” (1977)
       This song, often referred to simply as “New York, New York,” was originally used as the theme song for Martin Scorsese’s movie musical New York, New York, released on June 21, 1977. Ebb wrote the lyrics and his longtime songwriting partner John Kandar wrote the music. The song was sung by Liza Minnelli
in the film. Frank Sinatra recorded a popular version in 1979 and made it one of his signature songs. Ebb and Kandar’s “Theme from New York, New York” is sometimes confused with the song “New York, New York,” which was written by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein for the 1944 Broadway musical On the Town. (That song includes the famous lyrics “New York, New York, a helluva town / The Bronx is up but the Battery’s down.”)


THE L.A. VERSION OF THE OLD BIG APPLE ADAGE:

“When did the old adage about the Big Apple become: ‘If you can make it there, it’s probably because everyone else has set a really low bar’? Um...just now, I guess. (Start spreadin’ the news.)”
       Amy Reiter
       American pop culture critic
       Her dry comment in
a June 23, 2011 post on the L.A. Times “Show Tracker” blog regarding an episode of America’s Got Talent that featured people from New York


AN OLD BLUES MUSICIAN’S TAKE ON L.A.:

“Well, if a man can make it Los Angeles, he can make it anywhere
But you got to have one of those used Cadillac cars, yes boys,
and you can stay square.”

      
Charles “Crown Prince” Waterford (1919-2007)
       American blues and jazz musician
       In his song
“L.A. Blues,” included on the album The Very Best of Crown Prince Waterford


THE EXTREMOPHILE VARIATION:

“The recent discovery of bacteria on Earth in the most unlikely spots-under the ocean floor, in rivers orange with dissolved iron-has lent support to the argument that if life can make it there, it can make it anywhere.”
       News story in the
January 2006 issue of Popular Science magazine
       (Scientists call organisms that live in extremely harsh environments
“extremophiles.”)


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June 22, 2011

Things that friends don’t let friends do, according to Roger Ebert and other pundits...


A RECENT CONTROVERSIAL VARIATION ON A FAMOUS AD SLOGAN:

“Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.”
       Roger Ebert 
       American movie critic
       This was a Twitter tweet Ebert posted on June 20, 2011 shortly after news stories announced that Ryan Dunn, the star of MTV’s wild
Jackass series and movies, had been killed in a late-night, high-speed car crash in Pennsylvania. His tweet was a seemingly snarky variation on the familiar public service ad slogan “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” Ebert assumed Dunn was drunk, given reports that he’d been drinking at a local bar that night with friends, though toxicology results were not yet available when Ebert wrote the post. Dunn’s friends and fans immediately attacked Ebert online. One responding tweet that grabbed media attention was by Dunn’s Jackass castmate Bam Margera, who said: “About a jackass drunk driving and his is one, f**k you! Millions of people are crying right now, shut your fat f**king mouth!” Two days later, in a blog post on the Chicago Sun-Times site, Ebert (a former alcoholic) apologized, but also stood by the point of his tweet. “I don’t know what happened in this case,” he wrote,”and I was probably too quick to tweet...I do know that nobody has any business driving on a public highway at 110mph, as some estimated – or fast enough, anyway, to leave a highway and fly through 40 yards of trees before crashing. That is especially true if [as reported in some news stories] the driver has had three shots and three beers.” The next day, a toxicology report showed that Dunn had blood-alcohol levels that were more than twice the legal limit.


A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FAMILIAR AD SLOGAN:

“Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”
       Ad slogan first used in 1982 by the
Outdoor Advertising Association of America
       This well-known slogan and the long-running ad campaign featuring it were created in December 1982 as an outgrowth of a presidential Commission on Drunk Driving during Ronald Reagan’s administration. The primary goal was to reduce drunk driving, especially during the Christmas and New Year’s Eve weekends, when drunk driving fatalities are traditionally at their highest. The campaign began with billboards and radio ads sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and the Licensed Beverage Information Council. During the 1982 holiday season, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” ads were shown on 3,000 billboards and used in public service radio spots by 1,200 radio stations nationwide. The campaign was praised by President Reagan in 1983 and continued. In 1990, it was taken over by
The Ad Council.


NAOMI JUDD’S FASHION ADVICE FOR WOMEN:

“Friends don’t let friends wear ugly shoes.”
      
Naomi Judd
       American country music singer, songwriter and author 
       A guideline included in her book
Naomi’s Guide to Aging Gratefully (2008)


MAC LIFE’S FASHION ADVICE FOR GEEKS:


“Friends don’t let friends wear their iPods on their belts.”
       Photo caption in
Mac Life magazine, August 2008

A FASHION OPTION FOR ZOMBIE MOVIE FANS:

“Friends Don’t Let Friends Reanimate.” 
       Slogan on a t-shirt sold by
BuyZombie.com

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June 15, 2011

The “light at the end of the tunnel” – from Joseph Alsop and Robert Lowell to Hunter Thompson


THE PRO-WAR JOURNALIST’S FAMOUS QUOTE:

“At last there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
      
Joseph Alsop (1910-1989)
       American journalist and newspaper columnist 
       An oft-cited comment he made about the Vietnam War in his September 13, 1965 syndicated column 
       Many
books and websites about quotations or the Vietnam War mention this line by Alsop. It’s often assumed to be either the origin of the metaphor or the first use related to Vietnam. In fact, the figurative use of “light at the end of the tunnel” dates back to at least 1922. And, ironically, it had been used in reference to Vietnam in 1953 by French general Henri Navarre, who told reporters he could see France’s eventual success in its war with communist leader Ho Chi Minh’s troops “clearly, like light at the end of a tunnel.” A year later, Minh’s troops decisively defeated French forces at the battle of Dien Bien Phu and France lost control of its former colony. Joseph Alsop’s use of “light at the end of the tunnel” in 1965 was in a column predicting that America would eventually defeat Ho Chi Minh’s troops in Vietnam. Alsop said the French lost because they fought “with grossly insufficient resources.” He wrote: “This is in fact the real flaw in the argument of the silly people who parrot the assertion that this kind of war cannot be won, because the French failed...Today, however, American power is fully committed here, side by side with the considerable and courageous army of South Viet Nam. The American troops in the country already number more than 100,000. And eventually the U.S. force in South Viet Nam is likely to reach 200,000...at last there is light at the end of the tunnel.” Of course, 10 years later, after more than 58,000 Americans had been killed (along with an estimated 2 million Vietnamese troops and civilians), America essentially lost the war and pulled out of Vietnam.


THE ANTI-WAR POET’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“If we can see light at the end of the tunnel
It’s the light of the oncoming train.”
       Robert Lowell (1917-1977)
       American poet, World War II conscientious objector and anti-Vietnam activist 
       These lines are from “Since 1939,” a poem originally published in Lowell’s book Day by Day (1977)


DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN:

“Leon Panetta leaving the CIA to replace [Robert] Gates at the Pentagon and General David Petraeus taking Panetta’s job in Langley just seems like a revolving door that bodes ill (more drone attacks and missile strikes) for the people in the AF/Pak  war...There seems no light at the end of the dark tunnel U.S. policy makers have put us in and which most Americans continue to enable with their passive indifference.”
      
Dave Lefcourt
       American blogger and book author
       In
an opinion piece about the war in Afghanistan and U.S. military operations in Pakistan, posted on the OpEdNews site, June 11, 2011


DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN — AGAIN:

“When Mr Obama assured the UN and the world that the ‘kinetic military action’ would quickly subdue Libyan military forces, he forgot an axiom of war. It is easy for a national leader to start one; but once started, it is impossible to stop...NATO airstrikes have fostered a war, which has turned into an inconclusive trudge through the swamp. Not only is there no light at the end of the tunnel, there appears to be no tunnel.”
       A Bangkok Post editorial
titled “What are they doing in Libya?” (June 10, 2011)


HUNTER THOMPSON’S OBSERVATION:

“This was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling ‘consciousness expansion’ without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him too seriously...a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody — or at least some force — is tending that light at the end of the tunnel.”
      
Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005)
       American “gonzo” journalist and novelist
       In his novel
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971), about the darkly comic misadventures of the semi-autobiographical character “Raoul Duke.” (A slightly altered version of these words are also spoken by Johnny Depp, as Raoul Duke, at the end of Terry Gilliam’s 1998 film adaptation of Thompson’s novel.)

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June 8, 2011

“God helps them that help themselves.”


FRANKLIN’S FAMOUS VERSION OF AN ANCIENT SAYING:

“God helps them that help themselves.”
       Popularized by
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
       American statesman, scientist, author and publisher
       Franklin included this in
Poor Richard’s Almanack, which he published from 1732 to 1758. Its appearance in his widely-read almanac helped popularize the saying in America, but Franklin didn’t coin it. There are various other earlier versions. “God helps those who help themselves” was used in 1698 by British politician Algernon Syney. Other variations date back as far as Aesop’s Fables, written in the sixth century BC. The moral of Aesop’s fable “Hercules and the Waggoner” (sometimes spelled Wagoner or Wagoneer) is traditionally translated as “The gods help them that help themselves.” It is widely, but wrongly, believed that “God helps them that help themselves” comes from the Bible. In fact, it doesn’t. 


THE ANTI-THIEVERY COUNTERQUOTE:

“God never helps those who are caught helping themselves.”
       A humorous American proverb of unknown origin
       Cited in
A Dictionary of American Proverbs


THE THIEF’S COUNTER-COUNTERQUOTE:

“God may not help those who help themselves, but you’ll notice he don’t stand in front of you with no flaming sword and say, ‘What you got there?’”
      
Stephen Longstreet (pen name of Henri Weiner; 1907-2002)
       American author, artist and scriptwriter 
       Comment by a character in his novel
All or Nothing (1983)


THE RICH MAN’S GOSPEL:

“In bestowing charity, the main consideration should be to help those who will help themselves...Neither the individual nor the race is improved by alms giving. Those worthy of assistance, except in rare cases, seldom require assistance.”
      
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)
       American businessman and philanthropist who was the richest man in the world in his day
       This quotes comes from
Carnegie’s essay “Wealth,” fist published in the North American Review in June 1889, then included in his book The Gospel of Wealth (1891).


THE EURODANCE RAP VARIATION:

“What we need to do is take ourselves from the shelf
‘Cause God won’t help those who won't help themselves
While you sit on your asses with rose colored glasses, hey –
Brutes build troops and masses, believe me.”

      
Snap!
       A revolving group of Eurodance musicians and rappers based in Germany 
       Lyrics from their song “Angel (Rays of Love)” (2004)

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