Friday, June 9, 2017

On Comey Leaks

President Donald Trump on Comey Leaks

Robert De Niro on Graduating

Robert De Niro on Graduating

Actor Robert De Niro was the 2017 featured commencement speaker at his alma mater Brown University.  He gave a incongruous address was memorable as it seemed so contrary to the hallowed halls of education on the East Coast. 





De Niro's pearl of wisdom comparing Trump's America as a "crazy dumb assed comedy" is the cherry on the cake for  what one gets now a days for a pricey Ivy League education.

De Niro was scathing about "crazy dumb assed comedies" but that seems to be the genre which he lands most of his roles lately.  At least his attire at the commencement ceremony was not as egregious as the schtick in "Dirty Grandpa" (2016).

Groucho Marx on Understanding

Groucho Marx on Understanding

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Honoring Valor, Fidelity and Sacrifice at National D-Day Memorial

Ike Dwight Eisenhower on D-Day


The National D-Day Memorial is located in Bedford, Virginia.  This site in in the Blue Ridge Mountains in rural southwest Virginia was chosen because it was the community the suffered the most per capita D-Day losses in the nation.

 There were 150,000 Allied troops that landed on the heavily fortified beaches of Normandy, including 34 troops from Bedford.  Of the 9,000 killed and wounded during the D-Day invasion, 19 of the Boys of Bedford paid the ultimate price to preserve freedom and four more died later during the Normandy campaign.






The National D-Day Memorial was dedicated on June 6th, 2001 by President George W. Bush. America's 43rd Commander-in-Chief implored:

 "Fifty-seven years ago, America and the nations of Europe formed a bond that has never been broken.  And all of us incurred a debt that can never be repaid. Today, as America dedicates our D-Day Memorial, we pray that our country will always be worthy of the courage that delivered us from evil and saved the free world." 



The National D-Day Memorial honors by name all 4,413 Allied soldiers who died on D-Day during Operation Overlord (the actual invasion) and Operation Neptune (transporting the troops across the English channel). But the 88 acre National D-Day Memorial does much more serve as a site for necrology. The Memorial seeks to tell the story of D-Day , from its planning, execution and aftermath. 

The first Plaza is a stylized English garden  symbolizes the planning and preparations for the greatest amphibious invasion in history.  The Reynolds Garden is dedicated to the visionary industrialist who forsaw America's need for aluminum. In the late 1930s, Richard Reynolds put his fortune and reputation on the line to provide enough aluminum for the United States to build and sustain the air force that gave the Allies overwhelming air superiority for the retaking of Europe on D-Day. 

The plaza is in the shape of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force combat patch. Following British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's sense of history and drama, the invasion code name was Overlord, evoking crusader knights and chivalric quests, the SHAEF insignia features a crusader shield with a flaming sword of expulsion. 




The Reynolds Garden is peaked by a  domed Tuscan folly with a full figured bronze of General Dwight Eisenhower standing below a canopied mosaic of the D-Day battle map. This classical revival feature recalls the architecture of Southwick House, where Ike decided to launch the invasion despite less than ideal weather. 



The the parameter of the plaza also includes busts of the six Allied Generals who were involved with D-Day invasion: Air Chief Marshal Tedder, Air Chief Marshal, Leigh-Mallory, Admiral Ramsey, Field Marshall Montgomery, Lt. General Omar Bradley,  and Lt. General Walter Smith.


Circle of Generals involved in Allied D-Day Invasion, Reynolds Garden, National D-Day Memorial [photo: BD Matt]

The next level is Gray Plaza is an assault tableau which depicts the landing and fighting stage of the invasion.  Across the Beach (includes an invasion pool with beach obstacles in the water, a Higgins invasion craft and sculptures of soldiers struggling to get onshore. The names of the American fallen appear on the western walls of the central plaza while the rest of the Allied losses are on the eastern wall. 


Soldier under fire detail of Across the Beach (2008) by Jim Brothers at National D-Day Memorial [photo credit: BD Matt]



Across the Beach tableau (2008) by Jim Brothers, National D-Day Memorial [photo credit: BD Matt]


Across the Beach tableau (2008) by Jim Brothers, National D-Day Memorial, Bedford Virginia [photo credit: BD Matt]


POV from Higgins boat, Across the Beach (2008) tableau by Jim Brothers, National D-Day Memorial 




Scaling the Wall , National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, Virginia
[photo credit: BD Matt]

Detail, Scaling the Wall (2001) by Jim Brothers, National D-Day Memorial, Bedford Virginia [photo credit: BD Matt]
There are also airplanes which represent the importance that air power had in the Allied invasion.


Representation of Aircraft used on June 6th 1944, National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, Virginia



Propellers from D-Day era aircraft, National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, Virginia [photo credit: BD Matt]

The upper level is the Estes Plaza which is dominated by Overlord Arch which is flanked by the twelve flags of the Allied Expeditionary Force.  The Arch stands 44 feet and six inches tall. 


Honor Guard practicing before D-Day ceremonies, National D-Day Memorial

Valor, Fidelity Sacrifice Bronze by Jim Brothers (2001) and Overlord Victory Arch at D-Day Memorial,
Bedford, Virginia [photo credit: BD Matt]

Valor, Fidelity Sacrifice Bronze by Jim Brothers (2001), National D-Day Memorial,
Bedford, Virginia [photo credit: BD Matt]


The planners of the National D-Day Memorial had not forgotten the horrors of war along with the valor, fidelity and sacrifice of Allied troops.  The final section of the National D-Day Memorial includes a haunting bronze of Edmond de Laheudri's Le Monument aux Morts (1921), which stood monument to those fallen in combat in the Great War (a.k.a. World War I) besides St. Aignan in Trevieres, France. Shortly after the Allied D-Day invasion, there was an intense battle around the statue during which removed the face and some of the fingers of the dough-boy Nike. 

Recast bronze of Le Monument aux Morts (1921) by Edmond de  Laheudri,
National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, Virginia [Photo credit: BD Matt]


Transformed by battle, Le Monument aux Morts stands in Trevieres and at the National D-Day memorial as a haunting testament to the destructiveness of war, the fleeting fruits of victory and the fragility of peace. 

Brronze of Le Monument aux Morts (1921) by Edmond de  Laheudri, 
National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, Virginia [Photo credit: BD Matt]



Inverted M1 Garland Rifle bronze by Matt Kirby (2001) at National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, Virginia




The National D-Day Memorial's attempt to tell a broader story about the Second World War caused some controversy.  As the Reynolds Garden is circled by the military leaders of D-Day, the planners wanted to include a garden which depicted political leaders after D-Day who ensured the peace after World War II. The circle included President Franklin Roosevelt (who died shortly before V-E Day), British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (who was ousted from office shortly after victory over Germany), President Harry Truman, Prime Minister Clement Attlee, French leader Charles De Gaulle and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. 

The latter bust went over like a lead zepplin with veterans' groups  as Stalin had no involvement with the Allies in the Western front and arguably triggered the Cold War with forceful imposition of communism in most places where the Red Army occupied.  While the National D-Day Memorial board still believed that war makes strange bedfellows and wanted to depict that within the site, they bowed to public pressure and relocated the Stalin bust.  Perhaps when the interpretation center is completed with a monument to post World War II Secretary of State George Marshall, there will be a fuller picture of the interpreted history.  For now, Stalin is not in "The Winner's Circle".  However, based upon the horrors depicted in the transformed Le Monument aux Morts, it is questionable if anyone is truly a winner in the aftermath of war.


h/t: National D-Day Memorial

[This piece originally was published at DCBarroco.US]








Wednesday, May 31, 2017

D-List Celebutard Tries to Get Ahead By Overstepping Comedic Line Towards Trump

Many progressives have shown difficulty in accepting Donald J. Trump as President of the United States.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 8th) can not bring herself to say "President Trump".  When former First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is not engaged in chardonnay therapy, she was attempting to front "the Resistance" as part of a inchoate attempt at remaining politically viable.

Celebrities certainly have had a tough time coping with not having their candidate win the White House in 2016.   Of late, there was Robert De Niro's rousing graduation analogy at Brown University that the newly minted Ivy League alums are now entering a world that is a "tragic dumb assed comedy."

Hyperbolic histrionics does not sate some from Hollyweird. Some celebutards feel compelled to push their consternation to the brink.  At the enormous Women who Hate Trump march the day after inauguration, Madonna intimated that she had dreams of bombing the White House after hearing of Trump's victory.  Not to be outdone, D-List comedienne Kathy Griffin posed for publicity shoots holding a bloody facsimile of America's 45th President of the United States, which she then posted on social media. Smooth move Ex-Lax.
Mitt Romeny denounces Kathy Griffith's Repugnant and Vile Graphic of a Donald Trump Execution

No doubt, Griffin thought that she would be playing to her progressively oriented base and perhaps even make it off the D-List through political notoriety. After all, her bloody head pose echoed the antipathy of "The Resistance". She had the reputation of being a crass, shock type comedienne. Moreover, she could claim artistic freedom and the need to challenge boundaries in the name of comedy.  Not so much.

Consider the comedic rodeo rider who dared wear an Obama mask while maintaining the ring which caused a week's controversy and caused him to be put into diversity training. It did not help that Griffin's  graphic art echoed actual executions as infamously performed by ISIS. The country still seems to have some respect for the office of President.  One should not discount the reputation of the messenger.  Griffith is not known for taking overt political stances, and this stunt may have been seen as distasteful grandstanding by an opportunist.

Social media turned against Kathy Griffin for her ghoulish pose.  Sponsors and venues quickly started to cancel on her. Even Senator Al Franken (D-MN) was said to be backing away from a associations with with Griffin.  The Secret Service may now be quite investigating Griffin's graphic wise crack. 

What's more, is that Griffin's grotesquerie made Mr. Trump somewhat sympathetic, even to ardent opponents of the Trump Administration.   Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) could point to the gross graphic and condemn the repugnant and vile message in his quixotic hope for civic civility.  Mr. Trump tweeted in response to the controversy that his eleven year old son was having a hard time with this sick humor.




When it was clear that the public tide had turned against Griffin, she quickly posted on Instagram an apology.





Liberal leaning news organizations barely covered the controversy because one of the news most important powers is the power to ignore the inconvenient or incongruent.

It is difficult to discern the best course of action.  On the one hand, while I strive to be forgiving and let bygones to be bygones, it seems inappropriate to think "Aw shucks, it was nothing."   This is not a typo tweet like "covfefe"  or a knee jerk post which one regrets immediately after hitting the send button.  TMZ showed Griffin in a full blown photo shoot, with lighting, make-up and props. This was pre-meditated so to magnanimously dismiss it invites future pot shots from an opposition which seems intent to throw anything up on the wall to see if it sticks.

On the other hand, Mr. Trump has displayed a churlish reputation in the past and has used antagonisms with others (Rosie O'Donnell, Megyn Kelly, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, et ali.) as a means to brandish himself while sullying others.  The Trump Administration needs to put some wins on the board in Washington aside from a SCOTUS pick and reversing 18 prior Administrative Actions.

May Kathy Griffin be benched on the D-List without needlessly encouraging others to go down that same repugnant road. 

Devin Nunes on Intelligence Unmasking

House Intelligence Chair Rep. Devin Nunes on Intelligence Unmasking

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Celebrating Star Wars 40th Anniversary by Unboxing Popular Culture


Nerds can be willing to spend enormous amounts on kitschy tchotchke which seems to relive their fantasy obsessions from childhood. Think of the gaggle of geeks from the television sit-com “Big Bang Theory” where Shelton wanted to get his vintage Apple II signed by the great Woz. Or the prized mint-in-box Wesley Crusher Star Trek action figure from Will Wheaton. Or Shelton being tempted to play with the mint-in-box Star Trek Transformer Device by a hallucinated voice of Leonard Nimoy.  The value to collectors revolves around signatures and being pristine. Ironically, the obsession to be mint-in-box usually negates the pleasure of enjoying the item.


This phenomenon is not just a Hollywood exaggeration. Fan boys are fulminating over the auction of a rare Star Wars promotional poster.  The 1978 poster seems kind of silly, with the ‘Droids bedecked with philharmonic instruments to promote the Star Wars Symphonic Suite.  Even though the item is considered somewhat uncool because of the symphonic campiness, it is a rare piece of memorabilia AND it is signed by Star Wars creator George Lucas.  Therefore this geek grotesquerie will probably sell at auction for between $5,000 and $8,000.

Rather than ridicule the Star Wars Symphonic Suite as an unopened package for being cute yet conventional marketing, I suggest enjoying the symphonic suite composed by John Williams.  It is a contemporary classical piece that resonates in the popular culture.







It is certainly has more class than "Nick Winters, the Lounge Lizard" (a.k.a. Billy Murray) and his Lounge Medley from Saturday Night Live.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Autumn De Forest to Pope Francis

Child Prodigy Artist Autumn De Forest to Pope Francis

Artistic child prodigy Autumn De Forest presented  a painting of the Resurrection to Pope Francis.  The 14 year old had a realistic expectation of her oeuvre.