Category Archives: Charlie Chaplin

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I took up writing to escape the drudgery of that everyday cubicle kind of war.” — Walter Mosley

NOT SO FAST — THE STRIKE: DAY 8

Wow!

Maybe I was all wrong last week.

Maybe the Chicago teachers really did strike for the benefit of the children and to make the classroom a better place.

At least some of them.

Striking Chicago Teacher At A Rally Saturday

The Windy City was all abuzz yesterday evening after Chicago Teachers Union boss Karen Lewis announced that union reps had not agreed to ratify the contract she and her underbosses hammered out with the city’s big Dons early Friday morning.

Union leadership wanted to settle for a pay increase. Perhaps the rank and file want even more — and I’m not talking dough here.

Lewis et al met with the reps Sunday afternoon at which time it was expected the new deal would be approved. No such luck.

In fact, Lewis announced leadership and the reps would not meet again until Tuesday.

Karen Lewis Breaks The News

Talk radio callers since then have angrily wondered why the reps and leadership couldn’t simply stick it out and hash over the contract until they all agreed to sign it.

The fact that the union is taking a big time out tells me tempers flared Sunday. The rank and file seems to be racing ahead of union leadership now.

It can only mean real teachers want real reforms. Not only that, they’re concerned about the possibility that the city will close some 200 schools. That can’t be good for anybody but the accountants employed by the Chicago Public Schools. Union leaders seem only interested in making a nice money deal.

If I’m right here, I salute the teachers. I’m behind them more than ever now.

SPEAKING OF WORK

Joy Shayne Laughter points out this very compelling quote from the one and only R. Buckminster Fuller:

This is pure dynamite, folks.

When I was a kid, my Depression-era parents pounded it into me that any job was a good job. Loading TV’s into boxes eight hours a day, five days a week, at the local Zenith factory was admirable. I did that for three days when I was eighteen. I quit in the middle of the third day when I realized the vast majority of my new colleagues had to get sloshed at the local tavern in order to get through the rest of the day.

Fuller says “we keep inventing jobs” in order that everybody is yoked by “drudgery.”

Charlie Chaplin At Work In “Modern Times”

Why?

How has our world culture evolved to the point that people are shut away in hellish, tomb-like buildings, under the direction of petit tyrants, to make just enough dough to eat and sleep in a warm bed, and then die moments after retirement?

Is there another way?

Is local, self-sustainable culture a viable alternative?

Would the bosses of industry allow us to make a move in that direction?

Fuller offers no solutions. But merely raising the question is a start.

CHAIN GANG

Sam Cooke was shot to death by a Los Angeles motel manager in 1964 after a long, successful career in pop and R&B music.

Sam Cooke

The motel manager on duty said Cooke, half naked, attacked her so she shot him in self defense after a struggle. Evidence exists that a woman Cook brought to the hotel robbed him of of a huge amount of cash while he was in the bathroom. It’s conceivable he thought the motel manager to be in cahoots with the woman. Additionally, the singer Etta James wrote in her autobiography that she saw Cooke’s body at the AR Leak Funeral Home in Chicago and it was badly beaten and mangled.

Sam Cooke also was one of the earliest big-time performers to become active in the civil rights movement.

All in all, a puzzling and sad end for one of the great American voices.

The Pencil Today:

THE (VIDEO) QUOTE

“YES, I CAN SEE NOW.”

I’ve rejoined the binocular world.

The excruciatingly young Dr. Joseph Mackey (when I see him, I have to resist the urge to tousle his hair and say, “How’s Little Joey doin’ today?”) carved up my left eyeball yesterday and whaddya know? I can see again.

First time in a few years.

As The Loved One drove me home, I peered at the world as if for the first time. Admittedly, because my pupil was max-dilated and because certain topical anesthetic meds were still splashing around in my left socket, things looked fairly psychedelic at first.

For instance, the grass was a sort of blue-black in color, the sky greenish-gray, and it felt as though I was viewing the sun from the planet Mercury, but still, I could see.

Blades of grass. Clover. Fence slats. The person sitting on my left. I had no idea how much of the world I’d been missing.

My pal Dr. Alex Straiker (a scientist, not a medic) tells me that’s called the Clean Windshield Effect. You drive your car for weeks or months with a filthy windshield that you can hardly see out of, then one day a big rain comes along or you splurge on a car wash and you’re amazed at how much you can see now.

T-Lo got a big kick out of me pointing out everything I could see. Heck, when we got home I looked out the window and marveled, “Oh my god, I can see the screen in the window!” as if I’d just peered upon the Great Sphinx of Giza for the first time.

“Oh My God…!”

I saw Little Dr. Joey this AM for my next-day follow-up exam and he pronounced my eye in fine shape. He asked me if I had any complaints or problems and I told him no. “It’s perfect,” I said.

The truth is, my vision is not quite perfect at this moment — yesterday’s dilation is still lingering and I’ve got a good bit of corneal swelling, which is to be expected. Little Dr. Joey tells me my vision will get even better over the next few days.

Wow!

Anyway, this whole shebang brought to mind that fabulous scene in the vid above. Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights” is without a doubt one of the ten greatest movies ever made in any language. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor.

The movie has to do with the Little Tramp pretending to be a rich man and doing all sorts of things to get money to pay for an operation on the blind Flower Girl’s eyes. He gets the dough but in the process becomes wanted by the law and winds up a penniless hobo again. The Flower Girl never knows that he’s as broke as she is.

Then one day, as portrayed in the vid, he happens upon her as she works in her new job in a flower shop. Naturally she doesn’t recognize him just by looking at him.

But then when she touches his hand, she recognizes him.

I’ve seen City Lights a dozen times and still cry over that scene every time. Two images from the scene have become iconic in cinematic history: when she extends her hand with the flower in it to him and when he smiles coyly after she declares that yes, she can see now.

Hell, I may as well give you my top ten movies list here and now. I’m not going to do my regular pontificating because I’m too busy telling all my Soma Coffee mates about how cool it is to see again.

So, enjoy. And come back for the rants tomorrow.

BIG MIKE’S TEN (ACTUALLY, ELEVEN) BEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME

The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (they have to be listed as a single entry)

City Lights

The Third Man

“The Third Man”

North by Northwest

Casablanca

An American in Paris

White Heat

“White Heat”

Some Like It Hot

The Day the Earth Stood Still (Not the Keanu Reaves abomination but the Robert Wise original)

Fort Apache (Trust me, this is an anti-war movie despite being made by John Ford and starring John Wayne.)

“Fort Apache”

There you have it, in no particular order. Feel free to argue with me in the comments section. You’d be wrong, but you can still argue.

See you tomorrow.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL

When I was a kid and this was on TV, I would run out of the room when the robot came on screen. Then I’d creep back in because I wanted to be scared to death again.

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