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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 8/10/20


It’s now been 150 days since these Musings from the Bunker began. As I have done at #25, #50, #75, #100, an #125, I’ve included a few new favorites and some favorites from the past few weeks …



Peggy Noonan has an ability to define the zeitgeist of the times. Mark Greenfield forwarded this one, which rings so true:



LA Confidential—Adapted from the great James Ellroy novel. Los Angeles is so integral to the feel of this film it should receive a Best Supporting Actor award. Great film, so evocative of 1950s Los Angeles (see Devil in the Blue Dress for 1940s and Chinatown for 1930s…!). Won many academy awards, including Best Screenplay. That is lost to Titanic for Best Picture is one of the great crimes against humanity…



Lost in America. Albert Brooks movies are thoughtful, cringe-inducing, and funny. The idea of him trying to convince a seasoned old-school casino manager (played with great snarkiness and humor by Garry Marshall) to just give the money back that his wife lost gambling is worth the price of admission. “Why do you think they call it Vegas? Vegas—Gambling. Gambling—Vegas.” You will never think of the phrase “nest egg” quite the same and you will marvel at the parallel parking at the end…



Boys II Men, “A Song For Mama,”:



Thank you to Amy Forbes for passing on this brilliant Swan Lake, performed by professional dancers from around the world, performing from their homes (well, actually, bathtubs), directed by Corey Baker:





The Plot to Destroy America Phillip Roth’s tour de force about Lindbergh, noted German sympathizer, defeating Roosevelt in the 1940 election. It’s all seen through the eyes of a young Jewish boy in New Jersey, who sees adult events through his perspective. The issues posed are interesting. By changing the results of the 1940 election, Roth shows the world under President Lindbergh as one of antisemitism and isolationism. How safe can people feel in a democracy when it is making peace with the devil? One of the beauties of the book is how thing move ever slightly away from the history we remember—how tiny things have a significant impact and how, in the end, perhaps things don’t work out so differently after all. This book can serve as the “entry level drug” for the vast and fascinating literature of Phillip Roth. Read this—you can skip the TV version, which is merely good entertainment, not great.



Imperfect Union, by Steve Inskeep. First, how can any NPR Morning Edition listener pass up on a book by the famous Steve Inskeep, with the mellifluous voice? This is a dual biography of John C. Fremont and Jessie Benson Fremont, his wife. It’s a great story of the rise of the Whig party, the Polk platform in the 1844 election to secure Texas and Oregon (with a nod toward California and a gateway to Asia), the expeditions of John C. Fremont, his courtship of Senator Thomas Hart Benson’s daughter, the partnership of the Senator and the Pathfinder, and the even more interesting partnership of the Fremonts. Eventually the story leads to Fremont’s run for President as the first candidate of the newly created Republican Party in 1856 (you may recall the second candidate, Mr. Lincoln). Fremont was defeated in the 1856 election by James Buchanan, arguably one of the best prepared of all Presidential aspirants, who produced one of the worst administrations in history, acquiescing to Southern desires and precipitating the Civil War.

This book offers a number of parallels with our times—the partnership of a “power couple,” the impact of celebrity, a country in transition, the debate about American greatness, economic issues, and the realignment of political parties.



“In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” --James Madison





Starting to sound like Nostradamus. Death and destruction! Cats and dogs in the streets!



I’ve had a lot to say about the ridiculous conspiracy theories out there. Check this out, where John Oliver speaks about conspiracy theories:


Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day

Calmly we walk through this April’s day, Metropolitan poetry here and there, In the park sit pauper and rentier, The screaming children, the motor-car Fugitive about us, running away, Between the worker and the millionaire Number provides all distances, It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now, Many great dears are taken away, What will become of you and me (This is the school in which we learn…) Besides the photo and the memory? (…that time is the fire in which we burn.)

(This is the school in which we learn…) What is the self amid this blaze? What am I now that I was then Which I shall suffer and act again, The theodicy I wrote in my high school days Restored all life from infancy, The children shouting are bright as they run (This is the school in which they learn…) Ravished entirely in their passing play! (…that time is the fire in which they burn.)

Avid its rush, that reeling blaze! Where is my father and Eleanor? Not where are they now, dead seven years, But what they were then? No more? No more? From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day, Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume Not where they are now (where are they now?) But what they were then, both beautiful;

Each minute bursts in the burning room, The great globe reels in the solar fire, Spinning the trivial and unique away. (How all things flash! How all things flare!) What am I now that I was then? May memory restore again and again The smallest color of the smallest day: Time is the school in which we learn, Time is the fire in which we burn.

Have a great week,


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