Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Excellent TV in America? David Carr

Dear INYT Keeper: I've been reading the daily Times since I was a 17 year old sailor at the Pensacola,FL Naval Air Station in 1946. But the story about America's astonishing TV maturity is the greatest kick yet. I have been in Weimar, Germany since 1999 researching and writing a book on the Bauhaus (I was a bluecollar kid in Depression Detroit and read about Walter Gropius's new kind of art school to bring good design to the workrers ingraduate school. I vowed to check it out some day. That day came in 1999 when Weimar was the Cultural Capital of Europe. I expected the booh to take two years, but guilt-ridden post Nazi's were so threatened by the truth that they invented myths to lessen the pain. I finished the book on my 87th birthday, February 8, 2014! But I come not to berate those rattled Germans but rather to summarize my career as a TV meliorist in America.

It began with my Jesuit training at the University of Detroit as a philosophy major,1949. That year I won the annual Jesuit Mid-western Universities essay contest wioth a rant,"Needed: More "Red-blooded" American Catholics,i.e. like American Commies, the only white group then fighting for Negro liberation. My date and I doubled with the only black UD couple to integrate the Senior Prom at Eastwood Gardens.The UD library had two weeklies I read front page to back, "America" (the Jesuit mag) and "Commonweal"(by "lay" Catholics. There I read every piece that Marshall McLuhan, immigrant Canadian radical Dorothy Day Catholic, wrote. Those essays appeared in 1951 as "The Folklore of Industrial Man." I entered Western Reserve in Cleveland where my favorite uncle, Rev. Aloysius Mark Fitzpatrick was the editor of the weekly diocesan "Catholic Universe Bulletin". I told the dissertation committee that I wanted to write my dissertation on "Marshall". "Who?" they dumbed, in typical ignorant Humanist arrogance. I gave them my middle finger and moved to Michigan State where a unique English chair was turning a Cow College into a great research university.

Married at 23 in 1950 to the best looking blonde (and highest IQ!) in Detroit, we went off to grad school together, she as Elizabethan Renaissance, me as an American Lit media freak. Immediately fertile as American Catholics then were (Michael, now a great photographer,filmmaker and poet, now my conscience in Minneapolis,appeared in 1952.)n I doubled as the E.Lansing State Bank janitor. A janitor hears everything, including the dismissal of a 12th grade teacher for incompetence. I asked that eminent English Chair if it would jeopardize my doctoral status if I taught a few years in the local High School. "Are you kidding? How the hell did most of us get through the Depression?"

I was now also the 10th and 12th grade teacher. Because State had such a populist image, it was the very first U in America to get a TV channel, WKAR-TV! Yum. I devised my first McLoonie medium, a weekly Saturday morning palaver on teenage leisure, dubbed "Everyman Is a Critic". It bloomed, eventually leading to a Ford grant in New York City. My wife Mary and I had already started a monthly department in the NCTE'S "The English Journal" called "The Public Arts." When Scholastic Teacher magazine heard of my grant they made me the radio-TV editor, with weekly access to every high school classroom in America! I quit it sadly in 1961 when an appointment in Honolulu made access to timely info impossible

Early in my 1965 grant, I went uninvited to a educational media conference in the D.C. Hilton. When I opened the Aud door, I saw Dr. Ralph Bunche in deep converse with an unknown. (Bunche had just been a "Time" cover!) I boldly interrupted, " I'm Pat Hazard from E.Lansing High and I'm in New York to improve American TV." A stunned silence ensued, as the two cornered celebs figured out how to dump me quietly. Finally, the unknown inQuired, "well how's it going, Mr. Hazard?" "Lousy!" I replied sadly remember the multiple times the secretary  NBC-TV's innovative president Sylvester "Pat" Weaver had tuned me down for an interview. The unknown identified himself: "I'm Roy Larsen, the publisher of "Time": I'm on the foundation who gave you your grant, and I like your palaver. How would you like an office at "Time" to expedite your mission. Usually silent, I took his card and agreed to meet him Monday at the Time-Life Building". Suddenly I had my own office on the 34th floor, overlooking Sixth Avenue and NBC a five-minute walk away. I generously forgave the cunt hund secretary and called Weaver. She repeated the usual blah about Weaver's busy start of the TV season. I countered with how eager I was to start my grant, and gave her the magical "Time" number Judson 6-2424. Ten minutes later, the P.A. system blared "Is there a Patrick D. Hazard here today? If so, please call NBC!"

Not fifteen minutes but four hours as he called all the NBC brass with a simple message,"HELP PAT HAZARD" The year was full of wonders, such as watching, with son of the founder of Germany's DER SPIEGEL how an issue of LIFE was created. I gave a speech in May to the NCTE Freshman English teachers, "Liberace and the Future of Cultural Criticism". Three professors from Trenton State Teacher's College offered me an assistant professor ship on the spot. It was a great year, with first generation college kids highly motivated. And I finished my dissertation, "John Fiske:The Testing of an American Scholar! I was Ph.Deified in late 1957, after which Penn gave me a two year Carnegie Postdoctoral Grant to create the first McLuhan program in America.  In 1959, Philly billionaire and TV Guide publisher gave Penn two million dollars to form a Graduate School of Communication. Faute de mieux, I was appointed Gofer. (Go for this. Go for that.:) What I first for getting was my first mentor, Gilbert Seldes, to be  Dean. His book, "The Seven Lively Arts" (1924) was the first I'd seen on Pop Cult and it turned me on.  I taught media history at Annenberg until 1961 when Harvard sociologist David Riemand appointed me  the first director of the Institute of American Studies at the East-West Center, University of Hawaii. It was a State Dept. financed program to bring Asians to Honolulu to learn American technology and Americans to learn Asian culture.

It was the best I've had, yet! Mary and I had an AM.radio stint, "Two Cents Worth: A Penny for My Thoughts and a Penny for Yours". I also had a Sunday A.M. commercial TV hour called "Coffee Break". A typical program was my friend the art critic of the San Francisco Chronicle had just written a book on Christian churches in pagan Hawaii. We filmed them and discussed. I also had a weekly FM channel on the WQXR of Honolulu on travelers passing through, e.g., the Communist editor of Goa's capital. As I drove him to the airport he came me an astonishing anecdote on how Thomas Jefferson was almost executed for stealing an Italian seed in his hollowed cane. As a Jefferson specialist, I was stunned to be totally ignorant of this crisis. As he opened the door, he smiled affably and said, "That's because you're not in the Third World, Doctor Hazard."

The saddest side of my year in Honolulu was my learning that my number 2, a man named Seymour Lutzky, had been in the CIA ever since getting his "doctorate" at Iowa, where you could get one such by milking 5 cows. I was outraged at the deceit and immediately flew to Philly, where very soon I was a fuul professor chair of English at what became Arcadia University.

The rest you must read in the still being written An Auto-Biography: The Dumb Irish Luck of a Serendipitous Adventure." Bits and pieces are in this blog.

Friday, 7 March 2014

The Curse of Monolingualism

One of the glories of my octogenarian decade is my seven year old Daniel Patrick Moynihan Hazard's bilingualism. His nightly tutor is my Ossie Frau Hildegarde Haltrich-Hazard (47). (Don't tell me the DDR was all bad (there are seven doctors, three of them women, in my closest relatives, thanks to the Frankische Stiftung in Halle am Salle. And I was always a whiz at language, beginning at ten as a Roman Catholic altar boy who had to memorize the responses at daily Mass, deepened five years later by similar exercises in the church choir.

And at Detroit's minor Sacred Heart Seminary I was the class whiz at Greek. So after two years in the Navy as a radar technician, I entered the Jesuit University of Detroit as a philosophy major. I passed the predoctoral exam in French as a junior and German as a senior in 1949. I was ready for graduate school at Cleveland's Western Reserve University.

I didn't use the German enough so that when I migrated to Weimar to research and write "Bauhaus: Myths and Realities" (finished on my 87th birthday, 2/8/14) accessible free at my blog, my vocabulary had shrunk to a pitiful two words, morgen and gestern, which I invariably messed up backwards. Thus a hunger for news made me visit the Goethe Platz booth laden to buy the New York Times six days a week.

I soon realized I was more interested in the"Verkauferin" than the "Zeitung" so we flew to San Francisco where my best friend from Philly, Jake McGoldrick (professor of English as a Second Language at the Jebbie U of San Francisco and Burgermeister from his Richmond district) wed us on the City Hall steps. Now Hilly was my daily tutor in relearning German. 

I believe monolingualism is one of most serious intellectual weaknesses, since it encourages our utterly false concept of American Exceptionalism, the 17th century Puritan lie that God saved the North American continent for the white European to settle there! I fought this disastrous falsehood by gradually transforming American Literature into International English Lit, first by adding Afro-American poetry and fiction, then Appalachian fiction and drama in the 60', followed by Jamaican, Puerto Rican, and finally as I began to teach summers in Beaver College's London program, the entirely diverse Commonwealth Literature in England, Africa. and Asia.

And relearn German. Which I did by reading "Bild" every day--to the sneers of my colleagues, who falsely consider it intellectual junk. (In human health and nutrition and animal life) it consistently is very superior to even the best dailies like FAZ. Their sex trash is gradually, but unmistakably diminishing in my fifteen year extracurricular tuition. 

My other tool is the biweekly Apotheke "Umschau" which I take freely from the drugstore at the end of Schillerstrasse the first and fifteen of every month: features wisely geared to the seasons. I suddenly realized this at the obits last week of that magazine's originator, one Rolf Becker. See Jürgen Wolfram's essay ,"Für Kunst and Kunde" in "The Southern German News" p.35 on 25 February.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

A Funny Thing Happened on my First Trip to Berlin

It all started in the lunch line of the Metropolitan Museum of Art  in New York. As an ex-Catholic I like to tease priests (really to punish Detroit Sacred Heart Seminary rector Monsignor Henry Donnelly who threw me out of the seminary the very day he found my pal Jim Van Slambrouck and me smoking Chesterfields in the Gothic Tower after midnight. The learned will know that that brand of cigarettes sponsored the great Glenn Miller's Orchestra on the radio for a half hour of the greatest dance music of the 1940's, weekdays. I answered,"We wanna see how Glenn gets such a kick out of his cigs." "You're out of here, Hazard, as of midnight," he gloomed. 

Easter vacation started then. Jim survived to be a priest in Monroe, Michigan, a sloburb of Detroit. So at that day at the Met I told the priest standing ahead of me in lunch line."Give me an easy confession, Father, and I'll buy you lunch." A woman ahead of him snorted as she got the joke. Later we ran into each other, savouring art for dessert. She introduced herself as Mrs. Helen Milner, wife of our commanding general in Berlin, and pleaded for me to visit them the "next time (as in "first time"!") I was in the Big B. Pacifist that I was, I giggled "no thanks" mentally. 

But fate made me run into her there again so the General's chauffeur picked me up at the Tiergarten station. (I quickly opened my locker to gather pieces of simulated luggage--I travel sleek: But the butler knew better as he shuffled me into a bedroom bigger than my own home in Philly! On "Pacelli" Alle. That shy German Pope in the 20's knew how to give his name a Big Boost!

My dinner companion was no less than Cologne's famously politically conservative Archbishop Joachim Meisner. (There couldn't have been a worse visitor match than we two.) He had just returned from Lithuania, where he confirmed so many Vilniusans (not to be mistaken for Villans!) that his thumb was numb. Assessing his previous table chatter, I was of the opinion that he was always dumb in other places. (Try his theological brain, for example.) Anyway the evening ended peacefully, if dully.) 

I read today in the German newspapers that Pope Francis I had just let him resign--at 87! That made him 46 that dull night in 1970. What a pity that dull Kraut Benedict XVI didn't have the balls to quit himself long ago! Alas, Popes are sometimes inscrotable. The more I was reminded of his apolitical strong stances, the more I admired him retroactively. In the same diurnal wave I read that Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelke was vowing that the R.C. Church should no longer control the bedroom.

Too late for me, Card, but better sooner than later! (FAZ 2 March, 2014) p.7) My father was a calvary officer for Black Jack Pershing,and sadly he got gassed in France. His "hospitals" were the whore houses of France. He married my virgin RC mother in 1919 shortly after returning from France. My brother was born 9 months and one day after the wedding in Pinconning, Michian. I arrived seven years later. 

Three years later he fled to Las Vegas with his secretary to become an iconic real estate agent. He left me $159,000 guilt money; his Bigamate tossed in the pot a further $100,000, allowing me to quit teaching in universities when my mother died at 86 in 1987. (Gulp, last Saturday I turned 87! As we "sellabrate" the centennial of the start of the First World War, let us not forget that more than buildings and lives were destroyed: dreams and aspirations too. 

So let's say a prayer for Harry and Ruth, whether together or alone in hell, and smile sweetly back to May Fitzpatrick Hazard from wherever she be in Heaven. I told an old pal last month that if Pope Frank I continues his Holy Roll! I'll be searching for that priest I promised lunch at the Met 44 years ago. Damn, that general confession would earn him a whole restaurant!