Saturday, March 28, 2020

George H Thomas 125 Years -- March 28, 2020

150 years ago today, on 28-March-1870, General George Thomas, USA died. This post is adapted from a 2013 item about General Thomas:

I recently read a wonderful essay by Lt Col Robert Bateman: The Meaning of Oaths and a Forgotten Man.  He talks about how Robert E Lee "was a traitor who should have been executed."  This is because Lee and other Regular Army officers who had sworn to protect and defend the United States should be regarded as traitorous opportunists who had violated their oaths and given up their honor.  He points to the example of George Henry Thomas of Virginia, a Regular Army officer who thought long and hard and when Virginia seceded and decided that "my oath of allegiance to the Federal government always came uppermost."

Colonel Bateman points out that Lee is idolized even though he killed tens of thousands of American soldiers, while Thomas, who remained loyal to his country and earned the nicknames "The Rock of Chickamauga" and "The Sledge of Nashville" by being one of the most effective generals on either side, is largely ignored except by historians.

General Thomas and his men stood fast at Chickamauga, preventing a Union defeat from turning into a rout.  Thomas destroyed Confederate General John Bell Hood's army at Nashville.  He continued to serve his country during Reconstruction. General George Henry Thomas died while serving as Commandant of the Presidio of San Francisco. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, 2020 -- March 27, 2020

Artist Scott Guion created this beautiful poster, featuring Dr Jobn, for the 51st anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 festival has been moved from 23-April - 03-May to the Fall.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

This Side Of Paradise 100 -- March 26, 2020

Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, 27-March-1920
F  Scott Fitzgerald's  first published novel, This Side Of Paradise, made its debut 100 years ago today on 26-March-2020.  I haven't read it for many years.

New York Tribune, 11-April-1920
Heywood Broun was, among other things, a literary critic.  He did not like the book.  I remember his son Heywood Hale Broun announcing sporting events on CBS.  Daisy Ashford published her first novel at the age of nine. Miss Spence's School is a private high school for girls in New York City. 

Mr Fitzgerald a Cynical and Searching Philosopher at 23
Paradise and Princeton
An ex-College Man Questions the Authenticity of Youthful Author's Atmosphere
By Heywood Broun

WE HAVE just read F. Scott Fitzgerald's "This Side Of Paradise" (Scribner's) and it makes us feel very old. According to the announcement of his publishers Mr. Fitzgerald is only twenty-three, but there were times daring our progress through the book when we suspected that this was an overstatement. Daisy Ashford is hardly more naive. There is a certain confusion arising from the fact that in spite of the generally callow quality of the author's point of view he is intent on putting himself over as a cynical and searching philosopher. The resulting strain is sometimes terrific.

Of course, Mr. Fitzgerald is nearer to college memories than we are and, moreover, we have no intimate knowledge of Princeton, and yet we remain unconvinced as to the authenticity of the atmosphere which he creates. It seems to us inconceivable that the attitude toward life of a Princeton undergraduate, even a freshman, should be so curiously similar to that of a sophomore at Miss Spence's.

"Ever read any Oscar Wilde?" inquires d'Invilliers, the young poet, of Blaine Amory, our hero, who has been presented as a youngster of a somewhat literary turn. "No. Who wrote it?" answers Amory, and we refuse to believe that young Mr. Fitzgerald is not pulling our leg. Then, too, in spite of the bleak and jaded way in which the author sums up the content of college life, it is evident that he is by no means unimpressed with the sprightliness of conduct and conversation which he assigns to his undergraduate characters, though it is silly conversation and sillier conduct.

It is probably true that in some respects Fitzgerald has painted a faithful portrayal of the type of young man who nay be described as the male flapper, but our objection lies in the fact that to our mind the type is not interesting. After all, the reviewer who has been through several seasons of tales about sub-debs cannot view with anything but horror the prospect of being treated to exhaustive studies of her brother and first cousins.

In making himself responsible for the descriptions of college pranks and larks the author has undertaken a task of enormous difficulty. Things, done in a spirit of alcoholic exuberation (sic - JT) must of necessity sound flat and unprofitable to the mature and cold, sober reader. When Fitzgerald writes, "The donor of the party having remained sober, Kerry and Amory accidentally dropped him down two flights of stairs, and called, shamefaced and penitent, at the infirmary all the following week," he does scant justice to Kerry and Amory. After all, in the mood and at the moment it can hardly have seemed such a silly trick as it must appear to the reader in Fitzgerald's laconic statement.

The thing that puzzled us most was the author's description of the violent effect of the sex urge upon some of his young folk. On page 122, for instance, a chorus girl named Axia laid her blond head on Amory's shoulder and the youth immediately rushed away in a frenzy of terror and suffered from hallucinations for forty-eight hours. The explanation was hidden from us. It did not sound altogether characteristic of Princeton.

There are occasional thrusts of shrewd observation and a few well turned sentences and phrases in "This Side of Paradise." It Is only fair to add that the book has received enthusiastic praise from most American reviewers. Fitzgerald has been hailed as among the most promising of our own authors. And it may be so, but we dissent. We think he will go no great distance until he has grown much simpler in expression. It seems to us that his is a style larded with fine writing. When we read, "It was like weakness in a good woman, or blood on satin; one of those terrible incongruities that shake little things in the back of the brain," we cannot but feel that we are not yet grown out of the self-conscious stage which makes writing nothing more than a stunt.

New York Tribune, 22-April-1920
A fan of the book replied to Heywood Broun.  

"Writing of 'This Side of Paradise,'" says Mr. B., "you say that the man 'of that age' (i. e., between eighteen and twenty-five) 'usually understands himself so imperfectly that he is seldom qualified to describe himself.'

"It seems to me that men of that age are far more qualified to describe themselves than men of your own age, or older. After twenty-five one usually settles down into a groove, enters some kind of a rutted profession, gets married, has a Heywood 3d (perhaps), etc. In this state it is impossible to understand the feelings of those about you, even if you want to. You've become so settled or unsettled that the emotions and struggles of those about you seem vague and just a trifle unreal. As for understanding yourself, 'the older you get the less you know.'

"You say that the writing of 'This Side of Paradise' is self-conscious. There you defeat yourself, for self-conscious people come nearest to understanding themselves. The moment a man becomes unself-conscious he begins to stagnate. He is out of the picture of life. He is doomed.

"Too many American novelists are old fogies, that's why 'This Side of Paradise' is such an absorbing story. No wonder the fits of Fitzgerald make the Howells howl!"

As a matter of fact, we are not offering the theory that man becomes wiser and more important as he grows older. On the contrary, nothing which happens to anybody after the age of eight or nine matters very much. The rest is ornamentation and shingles. And yet we have no great desire to read the novels of eight and nine-year-olders, and we are even doubtful of the prowess of eighteen and twenty-three. A man knows a lot about himself at that age, to be sure. The only trouble is that most of it isn't so. We are enough, of a Freudian to believe that the important things in a man are the things of which he is unconscious. The self-conscious person makes it difficult to reach these unexplored depths. He is anxious to justify himself. He gives all sorts of explanations of his moods and his motives. Practically all of these are self-protective. They are designed to throw himself and everybody else off the trail. It is only when a man, or a character in a book, becomes easy and lets down his guard that he gives you the information which enables you to know him. None of Fitzgerald's characters even puts his hands down for a second There is too much footwork and too much feinting for anything solid and substantial being accomplished. You can't expect to have blood drawn in any such exhibition as that.

Somebody gave H.B. 3d a large doll the other day, much to our consternation. We were afraid it might develop maternal instinct and make him effeminate, but yesterday we discovered him joyfully pounding the head of the doll against the floor, so we feel that up to date his instinct toward the young is healthy and properly paternal.

New York Tribune, 25-April-1920
Publisher Charles Scribner's Sons noted Broun's disapproval in this ad.  

Monday, March 23, 2020

Comic Book --- Police Comics -- March 23, 2020
Plastic Man, created by Jack Cole was a  distinctive character who appeared in Police Comics, published by Quality Comics. Jack Cole drew the strip with humor and took advantage of Plastic Man's ability to stretch and twist into any shape. I remember when DC brought the character back in the 1960s.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Ideal Winter Car -- March 21, 2020

East Oregonian, 18-October-1918

In October, 1918, the Simpson Auto Company in Pendleton, Oregon offered a Ford Model T Sedan with a center-door body for $829.26 f. o. b. Pendleton. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Facial Armor for the Influenza -- March 19, 2020

Literary Digest, 30-November-1918
Governor Newsom has ordered bars and restaurants to close.  He is urging people to shelter-in-place unless going out is absolutely necessary.  During the Spanish flu pandemic, many people wore masks.  Now they tell us that the masks do not stop us from catching something, but may stop us from giving something to someone else.

The Archdiocese of San Francisco has cancelled all public masses. 

The San Francisco MTA announced that cable cars and the F-Market and Wharves line will be replaced by buses.

Eight Senators voted against the COVID-19 relief package:
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
James Lankford (R-OK)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Rand Paul (R-KY)
Ben Sasse (R-NE)
Tim Scott (R-SC)
Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Transit Driver Appreciation Day, 2020 -- March 18, 2020

I am grateful to the men and women who bravely face San Francisco traffic and San Francisco people every day. Thank you all, especially during this pandemic.

I am grateful to transit drivers/motormen/gripmen/engineers/conductors and all the people who keep the vehicles clean and running and the wires and tracks in good shape all over the world. Thank you all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, 2020 -- March 17, 2020

Washington Star, 16-March-1920

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone.

This ad from the 16-March-1920 Washington Star offers ice cream "in the colors of the NEW IRISH FLAG/GREEN ====== WHITE  ====== ORANGE"

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Mal Sharpe, RIP -- March 15, 2020

Mal Sharpe has died.  I have know his voice my whole life.  I remember a little bit of Coyle and Sharpe, and Mal solo on many television programs.  I used to park in a lot where Mal tried to get people to let him leave his ostrich in their cars.  I listened to his Sunday night show on KCSM, "Back on Basin Street," for many years.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Coronavirus -- March 13, 2020

Due to the rapid spread of the Novel Coronavirus, many events are getting cancelled.  Major League Baseball is postponing the start of the season.  Professional basketball, hockey and the NCIAA Tournament are suspended or cancelled.  Theaters are closing.  large gatherings are being banned.  Disneyland will close this weekend.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Pulp -- Air Trails -- March 11, 2020
This issue of Air Trails features a story by Lieutenant Seymour G Pond, who somehow managed to serve in both the US Navy and the British Royal Flying Corps during World War One.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Sixth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon -- March 9, 2020

Indiana Daily Times, November 6, 1920
Lea at Silent-ology is hosting the Sixth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon:

My entry for the blogathon is on my movies-mostly blog, The Big V Riot Squad:
Buster Keaton’s First Feature, The Saphead

I wrote about Buster Keaton's first feature film and the play(s) that inspired it.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

International Women's Day, 2020 -- March 8, 2020
Happy International Women's Day. #InternationalWomensDay

I was going to vote for Kamala Harris.  Then I was going to vote for Elizabeth Warren.  Some day I hope to see a woman elected president.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

McCoy Tyner, RIP -- March 7, 2020
Pianist McCoy Tyner has died.  I have heard his stuff all my life.  In the early 1960s, he played with John Coltrane.  Later he went on his own, leading a trio.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

A Komedy of Komplaints -- March 5, 2020

Washington Times, 17-March-1920
I love George Herriman's Krazy Kat. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

I Voted -- November 3, 2020

California usually has its primary in June, too late to make a difference.  This year we joined the many states on Super Tuesday. I voted by mail.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

March, 2020 Version of the Cable Car Home Page -- March 1, 2020

I just put the March, 2020 version of my Cable Car Home Page on the server:

It includes some new items:
1. Picture of the Month: This West Chicago Street Railroad powerhouse at Washington and Jefferson Streets still stands in altered condition. I don't know why that big blank wall is there in front. Google Maps Streetview Image updated August 2019. Copyright 2020 Google.
2. On the Chicago page, A ten and twenty year update about the the West Chicago Street Railroad
3. Added News item about how production of a movie caused bus substitution on the Cal Cable line.

Ten years ago this month (March, 2010):
1. Picture of the Month: West Chicago Street Railroad trains on Randolph Street
2. On the Chicago page, more about the West Chicago Street Railroad, including a selection from the 1898 Report of Special Committee of the City Council of Chicago on the Street Railway Franchises & Operations, an ad for a default settlement, and a contemporary newspaper article:
Chicago -- Halsted Street Runaway (Saint Paul Daily Globe, Monday, February 25, 1895) Also on the Chicago page, two magazine articles about the Chicago Tunnel Railway
3. Also on the Chicago page, two magazine articles about the Chicago Tunnel Railway
4. On the San Francisco page: A link to a blog about Cubbie the Cable Car
5. On the Cable Car Video page:
-- Two F Line views of Muni 162 this year.
6. Thanks to Ric Francis, added News and Bibliography items about the shutdown of the Penang Hills Railway, a funicular
7. Added News and Bibliography items about Eric Neubauer's book about early Pullman car production
8. Add link to the website of an Italian colonel who commands a military railroad engineering unit

Twenty years ago this month (March, 2000):
1. Picture of the Month: West Chicago cable train on Madison Street
2. Add West Chicago Street Railway to Chicago page.
3. Add article about the Chicago Tunnel Railway to the Chicago Miscellany page
4. Add more detail to Seattle page. Add Yesler/2nd & Iron Pergola pictures.
5. Add J M Thompson (no relation) to the Who page
6. Add links to Steve Annells' The Bus Station, Jacek Wesolowski's Urban Mountain Railways and People Movers site, and Joel GAzis-SAx's An Almanac of California.

125 years ago, on 03-March-1895, the Gilmor Street line of the Baltimore Traction Company was converted to electric traction

Also 125 years ago, on 09-March-1895, Washington DC's Columbia Railway opened its main line

Also 125 years ago, on 19-March-1895, Oakland's Consolidated Piedmont Cable Company sold at auction

Coming in April, 2020: On the Cable Car Lines in Chicago page: On the Cable Car Kitsch page: Twenty years of Kitsch. New items include another TWA poster.

The Cable Car Home Page now has a Facebook page:

Joe Thompson
The Cable Car Home Page (updated 01-March-2020)
San Francisco Bay Ferryboats (updated 31-January-2019)
Park Trains and Tourist Trains (updated 31-July-2019)
The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion (updated spasmodically)
The Big V Riot Squad (new blog)