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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Kissinger, Finally Dead

Over the years, I've collected a number of unusual images that I occasionally hang on my office walls. I am a student of political satire and ridicule and images sometimes convey complicated satirical ideas in a single frame. After all, a picture is worth a 1000 words, right?

As an example, I long posted a fun picture of Cuban socialist leader Fidel Castro playing golf, the country club sport. I'm not sure this is the exact one, but it's similar:

In the mid-to-late 1980s, I found a discarded paperback about Henry Kissinger that included many images of the Nobel Prize winner with numerous celebrities, including many beautiful women of the 1960s and 1970s. He dated many of these women prior to his marriage to Nancy Maginnes in March 1974. 

Sometime in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I put some of those photos on my bulletin board. Here he is with Elizabeth Taylor. 

Why did I post those images? Where is the satire or ridicule? 

That question is particularly difficult in this instance for obvious reasons. After all, musician Tom Lehrer once said that "satire died" when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel peace prize. 

I'm not so sure. To my thinking, the images that used to hang on my office walls helped demonstrate Kissinger's faults. I meant to ridicule Kissinger by posting images like this one, featuring Jill St. John

These photos reminded me of movies featuring mobsters with beautiful young mistresses -- or perhaps even better in this case, of global villains like 007 James Bond's Auric Goldfinger surrounding himself with attractive young female employees. Stereotypically, the women in these situations are shown to be with the men because the relationships were transactional, rather than built on romantic love. They were built on jewelry, cash, and jet-setting.

Over the years, much has already been made of the novelty of Kissinger's dating life and there are strong hints that even Kissinger recognized the material exchange implicit in his situation. This note from his AP obituary attempts to explain the phenomenon: 
Kissinger, who divorced his first wife in 1964, called women “a diversion, a hobby.” Hollywood executives were eager to set him up with starlets, whom Kissinger squired to premieres and showy restaurants, according to Isaacson. Jill St. John was a frequent companion. Others he dated included Shirley MacLaine, Marlo Thomas, Candice Bergen and Liv Ullmann.

In a poll of Playboy Club Bunnies in 1972, the man whom Newsweek dubbed “Super-K” finished first as “the man I would most like to go out on a date with.”

Kissinger’s explanation: “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”
These images could be interpreted as living proof of that explanation. Why would beautiful women be attracted to Henry Kissinger if not for his political power? 

On the other hand, a feminist reading of that quip might be that Kissinger had a greatly distorted view of both gender and power relations. HE was attracted to power (and women) for the same reason(s). 

This image of Kissinger with musician (and far superior human being) Dolly Parton readily conveys his desires -- and they are just as awful and problematic as his policies towards Cambodia, Chile, or Indonesia:

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Saturday, November 11, 2023

Rochester (NY)

Last month for fall break, my spouse and I visited our oldest daughter in Rochester, NY. That picture above is actually from our 2022 trip, when we also went during my University's fall break. And we went back again for Thanksgiving when our youngest daughter could join us.

This year, we took in a couple of tourist attractions that we had not seen on those prior trips, including the George Eastman house and the Museum of Play. 

Eastman, of course, was the man behind Kodak. In other words, he was the business force behind the popularization of cameras and film. Here are some of the cameras on view in his museum home:

The Museum of Play is interesting, though we went on a weekday that happened to be a no-school day for the locals (and part of Canadian Thanksgiving weekend). In other words, it was crowded and kind of loud in various play areas. 

The museum website confirms something I read elsewhere recently -- baseball cards were just inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. I collected thousands when I was younger though I haven't acquired any in recent years. I probably lost some thanks to the house calamity, but have not had a chance to sort through that stuff. 

I took quite a lot of photos at the museum, including this one of an original Monopoly game from the inventor:

This set of popular games were in my closet as a kid (and teenager), though I had an even older version of Risk:

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