Monday, July 20, 2009

The Art of the Rant (Part 1)

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This week in New World Notes, Program #73, July 21 & 24:

  • I'll never see--I know I shan't--
    A poem as lovely as a rant.
    A weapon mighty, for the weaker:
    It helps both listener and speaker!
    Rants never die, and every fall,
    I re-read Pope and Juvenal.
    The Psalms give peace, which some require,
    But I prefer ol' Jeremiah!
    Men's shirts are made by Arrow and Gant,
    but only God can make a rant!

    --Joyce Killmore Time (pseud.), from "Rants"

Like sodomy, arson, absinthe, and golf, composing rants is despised by millions; and its strange, exquisite delights are appreciated only by a small and declining coterie of cognoscenti.

. . . With the partial exception of sodomy, of course, especially hetero-, which has not been declining but in fact has been having quite a renaissance in our high schools--ever since abstinence-only sex education (AOSE, pronounced oasis) was introduced to the American proletariat, about 8 years ago.

Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) explains Globalization to TV newsman
Howard Beale (1976). All photos: Click to enlarge.

Many liberals claim that AOSE has been as ignominious a failure as Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No"-based drug-addiction rehabilitation system (JSNBDARS, pronounced jasmine-bearers).

However, many of us farther to the Left politically--and farther Up There chronologically--have a choice phrase we apply to these 16-year-old dudes who have dozens of hook-up partners--young ladies who think of fellatio as a sanitary alternative to a good-night kiss . . . and who think that anal intercourse is an acquired taste but well worth the effort if it keeps your virginity intact.

True facts! "Science-based" researchers have found that--in school districts in which AOSE has been introduced and pushed--genital intercourse is down, among students; "loss" [you should pardon the expression] of genital virginity is postponed by 18 months, average; cunnilingus is holding steady; fellatio is up; anal intercourse is 'way up; and--get this--condom use is down.

Toto, something tells me we're not in Kansas anymore! In fact, something tells me we're not even in Cloudcuckooland any more. If I'm not mistaken, we're now somewhere 'way over the rainbow!

Peter Finch as Howard Beale, from Network (1976).
Top: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
Bottom: "Turn off your TV sets! Turn them off!"

Yes, we aging SDS-veteran wannabees have a choice phrase to describe those teenaged male idiots with their slouch and their baggy trousers and the baseball cap with brim pointing anywhere but forwards . . . and a dozen casual sex partners whose inhibitions seem to be declining faster than the water table. We call these guys "lucky bastards."

Well, before my discourse was so rudely interrupted by somebody's essay on Sex Ed--Palin style, I was discussing rants.

Top: No mere ranter, George Carlin was a ranteur. Here he
explains why "war is just a big d--k waving contest."
Bottom: One of these mustachioed gentlemen was a sociopathic
goon employed for 50 years by the CIA . . . until he decided to change
petrodollars (Mr. Beale!) into Petroeuros. Oops! Wrong call! The
other is British MP George Galloway. Can you tell which is which?

In this installment, New World Notes first attempts to define the genre. Then it offers 6 inspiring examples of rants from the past third-of-a-century. Some of these rants are widely celebrated (" . . . PETRO-dollars, . . . ELECTRO-dollars, Mr. Beale!"). Some are familiar to afficionados -- I've been trying hard not to use congoscenti twice in the same week -- such as our passages from George Carlin and George Galloway, MP. And some are almost as obscure as New World Notes.

Now that we've gotten rid of all the executives in the audience . . . by going hundreds of words without once using the word situation--as in, "a condom use avoidance situation" . . . let's pull out (no pun intended) the Executive Summary:

Executive Summary: A rant can be both therapeutic and wise. A rant is a composition of words that is (1) impolite, (2) angry, (3) of public significance, (4) true, or at least mostly true, and (5) that connects items, events, and abstract ideas that the listener would rather leave unconnected. We present a potpourri of great rants of the past 33 years ... by Paddy Chayevsky (3 from Network, 1976), George Carlin (ca. 1992), George Galloway (2006), & TeneBROUST (2009). Introduction & afterword by K.D.

Video bonus:

To watch an extended version of Network's "Mad as Hell" scene, click here.

Help wanted: Near the end of this video clip, the network News Division president (William Holden), watching Beal on television at his apartment, moves from his desk to the window. For a half second, we glimpse a framed 5"x7" photo portrait on the desktop. Director Sidney Lumet must have teased us with this for a reason. But what?

Can anyone identify the person pictured? My own hypothesis is that he is former FCC Chairman Newton ("Commercial TV is a vast wasteland!") Minnow, but I really can't tell. (Reply to kdowst at hotmail period com.)

Catch New World Notes (all times Eastern):

Coming soon (dates of WWUH Tuesday broadcast shown):

  • July 28--Education Becomes Social Control (J.T. Gatto, Part 2)
  • August 4--Is It Time To Stop Drinking Coke?

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