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Too Good to Succeed
July 23, 2013 | by B. Alexandra Szerlip
In the summer of 1938, when the first issue of Action Comics introduced the world to Superman, its cover featured the Man of Steel lifting a steel-framed Chrysler Airﬂow, “the first sincere and authentic streamlined car,”1 above his head. It was the 1937 model, down to its rounded, beetle-brow hood and tapered rear, its grooved speed lines and triangular back “opera” window, its whitewall tires and condensed, newly horizontal grille. The following year, when Universal Pictures decided to make a film version of the popular radio serial The Green Hornet, the screenplay called for the hero to drive a car with “ultramodern lines,” something that looked fast. (“That thing travels faster than the bullets I send after it,” notes a patrol officer during a chase scene.) But by then, the Airﬂow—a vehicle vastly superior in speed, safety, and comfort to anything on America’s roads—had been so maligned in the public’s imagination, thanks in part to a competitor’s expensive smear campaign, that, decades later, it would still be spoken of as the greatest failure in automotive history. Instead, Universal chose a 1937 Ford Lincoln Zephyr. The name was meant to evoke the Burlington Zephyr, a 1934 streamlined train (featured in the 1935 film The Silver Streak). When The Green Hornet returned as a TV series in 1966, the Black Beauty returned as a Chrysler Imperial, modified to fire rockets as the 200-mph Black Beauty, the Green Hornet’s signature transport, its speedster “look” augmented with stylized lightning bolts painted on the fender skirts and a “Flight of the Bumblebee” soundtrack.
Chrysler’s 1929 coupe had been inspired, claimed company ad men, by “the canons of ancient classic art … authentic forms of beauty which have come down the centuries unsurpassed and unchallenged,” its radiator with cowl molding suggested the repetition motif in a Parthenon frieze, its front elevation replicated the Egyptian lotus leaf pattern. “This patient pursuit of beauty will doubtless prove a revelation to those who have probably accepted Chrysler symmetry and charm as fortunate but more or less accidental.” The following year, the new models were said to be “as distinctive and charming” as the Parisian couture of Paquin and Worth. But the focus soon shifted from ancient history and European aesthetics to what was taking shape in the New World’s own backyard. Walter P. Chrysler was a self-made man who understood the importance of tenacity and vision. In 1905, he had borrowed a considerable amount of money to buy a car that caught his eye for the sole purpose of dismantling it to see how it worked. A few years later, he was General Motors’s first vice president, and not long after that, he quit to start a rival company that was now riding high. In 1933, despite a debilitating economy—wages nationwide had dropped sixty percent, more than twelve million Americans were unemployed, and business as a whole was running at a net loss exceeding five billion dollars—Chrysler turned a considerable profit, the only company to produce more cars that year than it had in its Parthenon-Egyptian Lotus phase, just prior to the crash...
The taillights and dual headlamps were flush to the body, the rear wheels were enclosed; there were chrome-enhanced, wraparound bumpers, a dust-proof luggage compartment, and one no longer had to step up from the running board to get inside. An almost theatrical (what Loewy would call “hysterical”) grille of vertical chrome bars ran up and over the sloped hood. And then there were the white-walled inner-tube tires, a natty touch, like a double pair of gleaming spats. Adding white as “trim” on black was, according to at least one contemporary source, a Bel Geddes innovation.4 The interior featured divan-like adjustable seating. The leather-trimmed cushions set into polished chrome tubular frames created a sophisticated, Moderne armchair look. The flooring was marbleized rubber, the various hard surfaces molded from Bakelite or Formica. It has so many Art Deco touches, notes vintage car collector Jay Leno, that “it looks like you’re sitting in the Chrysler Building.” ...
In David Mamet’s 1977 play, The Water Engine, a struggling young Depression-era engineer, Charles Lang, creates an engine that runs on the energy released when the hydrogen and oxygen molecules of H2O are separated. Cheap. Efficient. “Green.” Revolutionary.24 It’s his ticket, Lang thinks, to a better life. At first, the powers-that-be take him for a madman, a crazy dreamer. But when his engine proves itself, they quickly try to buy him off and bury it. When Lang refuses to relinquish the rights (the bad guys include a patent lawyer), both he and his sister meet a gruesome end. It’s difficult to ignore the shadows of the Airﬂow and the Tucker Torpedo in this cautionary tale. Set against the background of Chicago’s “World of Progress” Fair, where the Airﬂow had been showcased, it’s a haunting indictment of the American Dream, an evisceration of the Horatio Alger and “level playing field” myths that so many in the twentieth century were raised to believe in. Thirty-five years after Mamet’s play debuted, an MIT professor invented his own “water engine,” an artificial leaf that, when dropped into a jar of water in the sunlight, bubbles away, releasing hydrogen that can be used in fuel cells to make electricity.
Posted by MinM | Tue Jul 23, 2013, 10:51 AM (1 replies)
Posted by MinM | Fri Jul 19, 2013, 11:42 AM (1 replies)
No problem, Judi Lynn. Here's one that may be a little off topic.. but interesting nonetheless..
@lisapease: Recording of JFK telling Sargent Shriver not to let CIA infiltrate the Peace Corps.
Exclusive: Peace Corps, Fulbright Scholar Asked to 'Spy' on Cubans, Venezuelans
Posted by MinM | Tue Jul 16, 2013, 09:42 PM (1 replies)
That and the fact that the CIA knew this plan was unworkable are the most cogent points...
Review: Destiny Betrayed 2nd edition
...But even more essential is DiEugenio’s exposition of the Bay of Pigs subterfuge. Drawing on several newer books on this topic, along with recently released documents which more than hint at perfidy on the part of the CIA, he outlines how Jake Esterline’s Trinidad plan, originally conceived as a small-scale penetration by a group of guerrilla-trained exiles, morphed into a full-blown D-Day assault under Dick Bissell’s supervision. It was this mutation, a development that Dulles and Bissell tried to obfuscate, which Kennedy in March 1961 nevertheless saw enough of to ask that it be scaled down. Dulles clearly understood Kennedy’s reluctance to commit, and tried to use the “disposal problem” (what to do with all these exiles?) as leverage, further offering him entirely false assurances about popular support for an uprising and the ability of the brigade to regroup in the mountains should they get pinned down on the beaches, and all the while denying him vital intelligence and refusing to allow him to inspect the details of the plan. JFK appears to have committed only because he was convinced of the essentially guerrilla nature of the action. A new site, the Playa Giron, was in fact chosen because it seemed very unlikely that the landing would encounter resistance there. Kennedy also added the requirement that any air strikes on the day of the invasion were to be conducted by the Cuban brigade after a beachhead had been secured – that is, from Cuban soil. He even asked Bissell if the recommended preliminary surgical strikes against Castro’s T-33 fighters were absolutely necessary, and Bissell assured him they would be minimal. But a CIA memo released in 2005 establishes that Bissell knew from November 1960 onwards that the entire plan was unworkable without the aid of the Pentagon. That memo was never forwarded to the President’s desk .
What happens next is a series of tactical foul-ups followed by efforts to nudge Kennedy into military intervention. Not all of Castro’s T-33’s were taken out prior to the landing because Castro, who knew the invasion was coming, had dispersed them around the island. The main forces were crippled by the sinking of two supply ships. The whole operation was very poorly planned, and Castro managed to regain two of the three landing sites by the third day. At that point Deputy Director Charles Cabell tried to get Victor Marchetti to relay to Kennedy the false story of MiGs strafing the beaches (which Marchetti never delivered). Kennedy had made clear from the outset his refusal to deploy U.S. military force, but the CIA gave orders anyway to fly bombing missions over Castro’s airfields, which did not occur only because of fog .
Most decisive in its analysis of this episode is a fact which the book makes unequivocal – that Kennedy never withdrew air support, because the so-called D-Day strikes had never been authorized to begin with; they were not part of the revised plan. McGeorge Bundy reiterated Kennedy’s restriction on them to Cabell the night before the landing, and the next day, he and Bissell tried to argue the point with Dean Rusk. But when Rusk gave the CIA the chance to phone the White House and request such strikes the morning of the invasion, the CIA declined the invitation. On the third day, Cabell and the CIA similarly refused to request a naval escort to resupply the brigade with ammunition. In a conversation with Rusk and Adlai Stevenson the day of the invasion, Kennedy again said he had not approved any such strikes from Nicaragua .
After ordering the Taylor inquiry (during which the Joint Chiefs basically tried to hang all the blame on the CIA) and consulting with Robert Lovett, co-author of the Lovett-Bruce report, who laid bare the true nature of the CIA, convincing him to fire Dulles, along with Bissell and Cabell, it became obvious to Kennedy that he had been snookered. Today we may reasonably share his opinion that the operation was a planned failure aimed at backing him into a corner and coercing him into an all-out invasion...
In fact, as Destiny Betrayed reveals, the myth about calling off air support was originated in a story planted by Allen Dulles with a buddy of his at Fortune magazine.
It's no wonder the CIA has been reticent in handing over additional documents. Just from what can be pieced together so far the evidence is pretty damning.
Posted by MinM | Tue Jul 16, 2013, 07:40 AM (2 replies)
Dealt with the Allende coup d'état in Chile and it's aftermath...
Missing is a 1982 American drama film directed by Costa Gavras, and starring Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek, Melanie Mayron, John Shea and Charles Cioffi. It is based on the true story of American journalist Charles Horman, who disappeared in the bloody aftermath of the US-backed Chilean coup of 1973 that deposed the democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende.
The film was banned in Chile during Pinochet's dictatorship, even though neither Chile nor Pinochet are ever mentioned by name (although the Chilean cities of Viña del Mar and Santiago are)...
We need more Anibal Barrows .. Manuel Buendias and Charles Hormans...
Posted by MinM | Thu Jul 11, 2013, 08:05 AM (3 replies)
The End of an Obsession: A Review of “Castro’s Secrets”
After almost half a century of conspiracy theories on the JFK assassination, a former CIA analyst and current research associate at the Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) at the University of Miami has accidentally given the conclusive evidence that Castro had nothing to do with Oswald or Kennedy’s death. In his latest book, Castro's Secrets (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), Dr. Brian Latell insisted on unveiling a conspiracy of silence: Castro would have known in advance Oswald was going to kill Kennedy and chose to remain silent about it. Far from making even a circumstantial case against Castro, Dr. Latell actually paved the way for critical thinking which erases any cloud of suspicion...
In the June 2012 edition of the electronic newsletter, The Latell Report, published by the ICCAS-UM , Dr. Latell summed up: Childs learned that Castro received the information about Oswald’s appearances at the Cuban embassy, because he was told about it immediately. Fidel spoke to Childs on the basis of facts given to him by his embassy personnel, who dealt with Oswald, and apparently made a full, detailed report. By trimming the phrase “after President Kennedy was assassinated” from the Childs report, Dr. Latell turned this alibi into a smoking gun against Castro, who had denied any foreknowledge of Oswald in both his speech at the University of Havana on November 27, 1963, and his Radio/TV appearance on November 23, 1963.
Dr. Latell boasts about catching Castro in a lie, but only by keeping hidden the actual time ”after President Kennedy was assassinated” in which Castro knew about Oswald. Childs also tapers the story by furnishing the exact location of the Oswald outburst: the Cuban embassy, not the consulate, located in a separate building. The Lopez Report actually states that the CIA photographed the visitors to the Cuban diplomatic compound from two different windows in a third floor apartment at 149 Francisco Marquez Street (see pages 12 ff.) because the entrance to the embassy was on the corner of Tacubaya Alley and the entrance to the consulate, on the corner of Zamora Street.
Moreover Childs came to the foregone conclusion that Castro had nothing to with the assassination. After discussing his statements with Beatrice Johnson, the CPUSA representative in Cuba, Childs and Johnson decided never to talk again about the issue because it was dynamite. Hoover took it seriously, but Dr. Latell does not. He dared to manipulate time and location for making his point, and no wonder the issue exploded in his hands...
The return of "Castro did it" theory
by Jefferson Morley
March 22, 2012
...Which raises an obvious question: If this evidence is so compelling in 2012 why didn’t the CIA and FBI forward it to the Warren Commission for investigation back in 1964? The answer is found in the hundreds of thousands of new JFK documents forced into the public record in the 1990s. The CIA and FBI didn’t investigate what the DGI knew about Oswald in 1964 because any such inquiry would have revealed the curious role that the CIA itself played in the genesis of the “Castro did it” theory.
As I reported for Salon in 2003, within hours of JFK’s murder, an Agency student group in Miami was giving reporters evidence of Oswald’s pro-Castro ways. Declassified CIA records show that the group, Cuban Student Directorate, received $51,00 a month from an undercover CIA officer running “psychological warfare” operations. The group’s revelations about Oswald’s public support for Castro in New Orleans generated scores of headlines across the country that linked Kennedy’s murder to a “Castroite.” When the Cuban students proclaimed in print the next day that Oswald and Castro were the “presumed assassins,” it was the first JFK conspiracy theory to reach public print. Whether Latell knows it or not, his book is a direct descendant of this CIA-funded operation...
Posted by MinM | Wed Jul 10, 2013, 08:11 AM (0 replies)
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