George Sarant

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Archive for May 2012

PERSONAL DUTY TO EACH OTHER

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I look upon the faces of mostly younger people on Linked In eager to move ahead in life, not only for themselves but for their communities and country, and I deeply empathize with them. If there were a way I could help every one of them along I would because they show me something positive that is almost entirely absent from the way we are portrayed in the mainstream media. They are, in fact, the future, because if them it looks a lot brighter, despite our present difficulties. 

I sincerely hope that things go well for all of them and that they all lead fulfilling lives, and this will happen for many, if not most. But sadly, when you get a large enough sampling, you know that some will not have it so good, perhaps struggling with illness or dying young. But you can’t know which ones they are, and their stories will only unfold over time. Tragic things happen, but it is almost always impossible to predict when they will occur, for the future is unknowable. No matter what else we do, in the end luck (or fate, as the ancients would put it) rules the day. All we can do is treat each other well and show kindness and consideration towards everyone we encounter. 

So it is really encouraging to see people not only seeking help for themselves but to help others out. I also believe that the older you are the more duty you have to give of yourself to others. Notice that I place the notion of sharing in the context of an individual duty, and not as the social obligation that some would force upon us. For those of us who consider ourselves conservative it is the individual who is at the center of all things, bearing responsibilities along with rewards. For the left everything is social. There is no individual responsibility but “social responsibility” that we must all share in. Unlike the left, we do not seek to use the state to force our vision of what should be on others, for we believe it emanates from the moral consciousness largely inculcated by our families, communities, and religion. If you have ever been puzzled as why so many affluent people are “liberal,” which would seem to contradict their interests the answer lies here. For unlike the Marxian dogma that everything is economic interest, there are other things at play. 

The truth is the reason the contemporary left wants to socialize things that are fundamentally part of individual relationships is in fact to absolve themselves of the personal duty that might otherwise be expected. They can’t be bothered, being too self-involved to deal with others in that way. Let someone else take care of things, i.e. the state.  In reality, they don’t recognize much in the way of “duty” at all, be it to country or even those immediately around them, nor its corollary, honor, which the rest of us holds dear. 

What I am doing here is beginning to turn the tables on the psychodynamics of the left, which, time and again has come up with nonsensical academic surveys purporting to show that conservatives are crazy, stupid, crypto-Nazis, authoritarians, etc. There will be much more on this to come. Enjoy it. 


 

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Written by georgesarant

May 31, 2012 at 7:54 PM

REPUBLICANS FOR RENT

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There is no more dysfunctional, morally bankrupt political party in America than the Republican party of New York, which having hit bottom somehow manages to wallow in futile irrelevance. It is often said that New York, is after all, a “Democratic” state, which is true on paper in terms of party registration. But the state has often been as likely to elect Republicans in the past to statewide office, be it Governor or Senator, so the party argument doesn’t hold up. It is also suggested that it is a “liberal” state, which is another myth, at least outside of Manhattan and some other city neighborhoods. In fact because the registration is so Democratic there are a large number of conservative Democrats in the state. So there is no reason why Republicans cannot win elections at least some of the time, yet they do not hold a single statewide office at present. The party has become irrelevant, largely due to incompetence, mismanagement and stupidity.

I say this as one who once directed the state Republican Policy Committee and struggled to get ideas and solutions in the forefront, but when I persisted the highest elected official at the time told me “You want policy? How much money can you raise? That’s the policy,” and so it was and still is. This is a party that is focused on one thing: money, to fund itself, maintain the party apparatus, and go through the motions of trying to win an election. Thus they have a special soft spot for billionaires or millionaires that are willing to fund their own campaign and a long history of effectively “renting out” the line to whoever comes along with the cash, no matter how inept, politically illiterate, and tone deaf they are. This has happened time and again and will certainly happen in the future. While there rarely  may be a competent dud like Michael Bloomberg, he’s a perfect example of how low this party has sunk. First he was a Democrat who became a “Republican” and rented the line to get elected. Then he left the party and ran as an Independent, but the spurned Republicans gave him the party line again anyway. But the typical candidate, if not for their money, would be dismissed as a nonentity, and there are more former Democrats in the pipeline with cash.  

Even at the local level it is a disaster. Suffolk County on Long Island was once the most Republican county in the country. It leaned so much to the right that the Conservative Party of New York used to come in second, outpolling the Democrats. Now Democrats regularly elect the County Executive and Town Supervisors. The apologists will tell you it’s due to a demographic shift, but that is nonsense. The party overplayed its hand, behaving like the corrupt political machines that used to dominate New York City and eventually lost the confidence of the electorate, while the local Democrats wisely ran conservative campaigns. Virtually the entire congressional delegation from Long Island was once Republican. Now there is just one left. 

You would think that given the dismal state of the Republican party that the Conservative Party would rise as it once did in the past and keep the Republicans honest. Instead they have settled for making deals for their endorsement and are overly obsessed with a single issue, abortion, even though there is already a separate “Right to Life” party based solely on that. 

So there’s not much here to give genuine conservatives and remaining Republicans much hope, given the moribund party state and the total lack of effective leadership. Under the present circumstances they are likely to continue to falter and put up dopey candidates, we will hold our noses and vote for these fools, who don’t have a prayer of winning and wouldn’t know what to do, if by some miracle, they did win. Unless and until there is a reform movement that can muster enough support and financing to shake things up, actually stand for something, and field serious, articulate candidates, the New York Republican party will continue to be for rent. 


Written by georgesarant

May 30, 2012 at 1:50 AM

FASHION CLASSICS MEN SITE FULLY UP

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This site is now fully functional so please pay a visit here. This is the last time it will be shown on this blog so if you are interested subscribe on the site to follow.

WHAT IS MEANT BY CLASSIC?


The classic look in fashion (as well as in anything else), is all about proportion and harmony. All components of an outfit should be synchronized in a way that makes pleasant sense to the eye. The cut and color of the shirt should integrate well with the cut and color of the suit. Both the tie and shoes should complement the outfit, that can be completed with details such as a pocket handkerchief and jewelry, i.e. a watch and cufflinks, which embellish the overall look. None of these elements should ever clash in ways that are out of synch with the rest of the outfit, but instead contribute to an overall appealing presence.

The goal is to stand out subtly rather than with a shout, so that you do not stick out like a sore thumb, but instead produce a pleasant reaction in the beholder when you are noticed. This is in contrast to a strained effort to be noticed. That is easy enough to accomplish with overly flashy, loud or inappropriate dress if your goal is to amuse people or otherwise induce a negative response. The right way to be noticed comes from avoiding trying to be noticed. Ideally it results from something rare but attainable with experience, namely an effortless grace in comporting oneself. What I mean by effortless grace is what you see when Fred Astaire dances, hear when Heifetz plays the violin, or experience when an Olympic athlete excels beyond all expectations in a golden moment of flawless perfection.

In keeping with the purpose of the site the surest way to achieve this kind of impression is through a classic look. Historically the classical ideal was expressed in an elegant symmetry of elements comprising the whole of an object. These were proportionately balanced and harmoniously integrated to produce exquisite form never surpassed, echoing down through the ages. Thus the classic look is also something that has stood the test of time. It is not something that will be fashionable today and out of style tomorrow, but will transcend the vicissitudes of taste (or lack of it). Obviously clothing is not in the same category as say architecture in substance or historical time, but can still have a long life cycle. So for our purposes here a classic is something that will last as long as the garment is wearable.

 A classic look is also the most time-tested way to appeal to the opposite sex, not on a visceral level so much as to enhance that by indicating that you are a man with some class. The guy with the flash or trendy outfit that conforms to what everyone else is wearing may think he’s appealing to women, but he’s not.

There’s a reason a guy dressed like Clark Gable gets the girl, apart from his natural appeal.

Written by georgesarant

May 24, 2012 at 3:18 AM

Posted in fashion, Uncategorized

TIME TO DISPOSE OF MARX

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On occasion when I tune into professional, i.e. academic discussions in my field I still find the same depressingly monotonous Marxist claptrap I’ve heard for decades. Never mind that Marx has conclusively been proven wrong on just about everything as history has unfolded. His inane “theories” still have a hold on these people, most of whom have never even read him. (As you’ll see below the best antidote to Marx is actually having to read him). Adam Smith, on the other hand was a prescient and authentic genius who has been proven right on just about everything. His work is still quite readable and relevant to our times, but outside of economics departments he is hardly known. 

Marx is not an important “thinker” by any standard. Nor does he rate highly as a philosopher, political economist, or theorist based upon substance, reason and relevance. Nevertheless he has been historically consequential, evidenced by the death and misery caused to hundreds of millions of people in the 20th century at the hands of the Communists. That impact does not, however, warrant placing him in the big leagues of political philosophy alongside Aristotle or Hobbes, where many academics still insist he belongs, despite his mediocrity.

When I was in graduate school in a political theory course it came about that the Professor assigned us to actually read Das Kapital page by page. Naturally all the lefty students were delighted. They were actually going to “read” Marx! Well a day or two into some of the most boring and obscure text ever written the enthusiasm level rapidly declined the more they read, and by the end of that torturous seminar there wasn’t a “Marxist” left in the class. The time to store this charlatan in the dustbin of history is long overdue, and those still clinging to these obsolete concepts should justly meet with derision. 

Written by georgesarant

May 22, 2012 at 11:33 PM

REMEMBERING PAUL AND DONNA

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It was during a summer more than three decades ago while I was staying with my friend Paul Jabara in Hollywood that I met Donna Summer. Being young and foolish and having made the rounds with starlets, I thought I was a Casanova at the time with irresistible charms, so I propositioned her. She, being a good Christian woman, just smiled and said “Honey, I don’t have the time,” and from then on,I’m embarrassed to say, I was labeled as the lover boy. At that point Paul’s song “Enough is Enough” with Donna and Barbra Streisand was in production and subsequently became a huge hit. Paul was the only one in the world who could have pulled that off, for reasons that will become clear. But first I want to say something about Donna. 

Donna Summer was a stunningly brilliant singer with an astonishing range in octaves and she was very much a part of the whole creative process in her recordings. I believe her collaborations with the German composer Giorgio Moroder are some of the greatest recordings of any kind ever made and all hold up today. I don’t think “I Feel Love” has ever been absent from the dance floor since its inception and you will still probably hear it in any club you walk into. Their work really reached its creative pinnacle with the double album Once Upon A Time, which is still available, like many of her other records. She was the lead singer of what was basically the last creative new wave in popular music. I don’t think there has really been anything at all original since disco (not counting rap, which is more a sort of poetry than music to me) and everything since has basically been recycled. It was on the crest of that last wave that Paul really came into his own.

Paul Jabara had boundless energy and drive and his incredible persistence enabled him to realize whatever ambition he fancied. He was unstoppable.  Indeed hIs mother once told me that Gore Vidal (Paul really got around in his short life) said that no one but Hitler had more ambition than Paul Jabara- or maybe it was the other way around- and that was before he had even really hit it big. He was always like that. During my teenage years, apart from my best friend Geoffrey, no one was closer to me than Paul and we shared countless experiences growing up in Brooklyn. Back then I was kind of gawky, serious, naive, and hopelessly romantic, constantly falling in love from age 13 on, and he was like a squire for me, intervening in one fumbled passionate infatuation after another, while I in turn protected him from getting beat up. I realize now that despite his seemingly childlike innocence at the time, he was shrewd, more mature and knew me better than I knew myself. It was in his basement that I first seriously made out with a girl, and he used to record everything on an old Hitachi tape recorder, including a lot of embarrassing confessionals from me that he surprisingly still had many years later.

He was always obsessed with show business, and had more nerve than anyone I have ever known, being devoid of anything in the way of shame or inhibitions.  He managed to easily work his way backstage to most of the shows on Broadway and make friends with the cast, and later when I started driving at 17 we had a hell of a time in all the hottest nightspots of the era thanks to Paul’s incredible ability not only to get past any barrier but to connect with the biggest stars. He was totally unfazed by celebrities, perhaps because he knew he was going to become one. Back then his focus was on the stage, and curiously there was absolutely no indication that he would become a successful songwriter. While he coached me to improve my style and appearance, I actually gave him piano lessons and tried to teach him to read music, which he never did learn, yet he was still able to produce one hit after another. 

Years later in Hollywood I treated him at various places because, incredible as it seems, despite having an Oscar and a string of hits, he was short of cash and wasn’t making any more money than me at the time, which just shows you how corrupt show business is. But at that point it was also true that he didn’t have to pay at some places. He was at the pinnacle, able to recite an impressive list of stars he wouldn’t take calls from (that being an indication of high status in the weird world of Hollywood), but somehow the financial rewards were eluding him, although royalties eventually did kick in. He was always restless and couldn’t sit still. In a restaurant he would bounce around from one table of show biz types to another, exactly the way he used to when we were kids hanging out in a Bay Ridge ice cream parlor. He was unstoppable, and when he wanted something, resistance was futile. He once locked Donna Summer in a bathroom and refused to let her out until she agreed to sing his song, never able to take no for an answer. That turned out to be fortuitous for both of them, and the rest is history. And so although they are gone their anthems will go on and on. 


Written by georgesarant

May 18, 2012 at 5:31 PM

CLASSIC FASHION & STYLE SITE IS UP

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The new fashion/style site is finally up in a rudimentary form. Still refining layout. Questions welcome.

Here is the address and first entry:

http://www.fashionclassicsmen.com

The primary purpose of this site is to provide some basic style and fashion information to men based upon standards that have stood the test of time, while remaining free of any commercial biases or interests. This site came about accidentally, as a result of the response I received to a side comment on my main blog, mostly from young women distressed by the cluelessness of their male contemporaries. So the intent here is to lay down some basic principles about classic dress, rather than to go on indefinitely. It will probably make more sense to read this in the order written, which means going back to earlier entries if you come to this subsequently. Questions are always welcome.

I am far from a fashion maven, and have little interest in ephemeral trendiness, relying rather upon decades of experience and observation of what constitutes a good look over time. At the outset this site will be decidedly simple and without any flash, although subsequently there may be some enhancements and pictures or illustrations to elucidate various points. All of this implies a certain formality, which may be true, but we will also touch on more informal appearance as well, in terms of a relaxed casual elegance instead of looking like a slob.

We live in an age where it is no longer possible to tell the rich from the poor by the way they dress. This is a relatively new phenomenon historically, beginning only in the twentieth century. Prior to our own time, the class to which a person belonged was obvious by the way they dressed. From a socioeconomic standpoint this may not be such a bad thing to the extent that the miracles of markets and mass production have enabled billions to be adequately dressed. Nevertheless when you look at fashions over the ages, what you see is only the upper end; rarely do you see ragged people in hovels. Nowadays since it is common for young technology billionaires to dress down, there is no longer that much correspondence between appearance and wealth. But that also means you don’t need to be a millionaire to look good, without dressing down. Today it is not income but good taste that separates the class from the mass. Here we are focused on the former.

From old photographs we can see how well people in crowds used to dress before going out in public well into the last century. Now we are in a decidedly informal age, and this is about standards and rules in a time without any. So why bother? The first answer is that when there is an overabundance of options there is effectively no real choice as things are too overwhelming. However, if you limit yourself to certain parameters, within those guides you can produce a fine, and still often original look, much in the way that many of the greatest symphonies were written within the constraints of the classical form.

Second, the reality is that when you are well dressed people take you more seriously and treat you differently. I know this from first hand experience, time and again. To cite one example, I once got a ticket dismissed with a less than solid excuse when the judge clearly reacted to my appearance in room full of people otherwise for the most part poorly dressed. She paid more attention to me and treated me more politely mainly because  was wearing a three piece suit.  So putting yourself together with some thought can pay off.

Finally, when you dress well you tend to feel better about yourself. Your appearance will often correspond to an uptick rather than a downer in your circumstances or life. I’ve also gone through indifferent, sloppy sweatsuit periods, It doesn’t take all that much time to put yourself together well once you’ve developed some awareness of how you look, and the extra mileage you get is well worth it. Just remember that whatever you are wearing is making a statement about you whether you like it or not, even to people not at all style conscious. Of course there are different looks at different times. A power suit has an impact on men, but most of the time how you’re dressed says something to women, and since most men are attuned to the opposite sex, how you’re dressed is going to govern the impression you make. These are general observations, but this site is concerned with a particular “classic” look, and that is what we will focus on now.

Written by georgesarant

May 17, 2012 at 8:24 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

POLITICS, EMOTION, POWER

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I am tired of political rancor and messages that have a near hysterical urgency that is frequently unwarranted by the facts. It really gets intense in a national election year and things are said and done that are often regrettable. Political passion is seldom rational. Of course there are things that political opposites say and do that are infuriating, (although it is mostly more say than do) but before responding to something with a tirade, especially online, it makes sense to stop and take a breather because whatever you post or send can stick around forever. Just as it is wise not to sign important documents when you are half-asleep or otherwise indisposed, so it is unwise to express yourself on anything important while you are angry. I’ve been there myself and know the routine, but one tends to mellow with age and hopefully grow wiser. 

In politics each side tends to demonize the other, assuming they are more formidable than they actually are. Fear of what the Other might do is a big motivator in political life, but that fear often exaggerates the power the other side actually has or can wield. That said I am not suggesting that both sides are equivalent. They are not, and I agree with Bill O’Reilly that the far Left is especially venomous. These are people of the sort who have published the home addresses of individuals they disagree with or even threateningly visited them. This is the sort that disrupts speeches and attacks people they don’t agree with. I find this particularly unwise because the right, if it chose to be, would be far more formidable in any sort of physical conflict or show of force, but fortunately for these radicals, conservatives are more peaceful, in part because they have greater respect for social constraints, standards of behavior and manners. They also have no equivalent to the evil currency speculator George Soros, who is giving some $100 million to left-wing groups, to among other things, dig up, fabricate, and throw dirt on political opponents. Even the Democratic party has adapted an awful fabrication in actually training people to attack virtually any political position the other side takes as “racist” to try and obscure the substance of things. These tactics are actually based on fear, insecurity, and a feeling of powerlessness, as well as irrationality, but that does not make them any less despicable. 

Nothing infuriates me more than the abuse of power by those who have it over those who don’t.  Liberals like to think of themselves as great opponents of such activity, but they are often the ones doing the abusing. Take the odious editor of Vogue pressuring people to design for the Democratic Presidential campaign. What designer will say no? Newhouse should be held accountable for this. It is the same in show business. Most actors or performers are too self-involved to be particularly political, yet you see many of them line up in support of candidates or fundraisers. There is no doubt that if they are at all political they tend to be on the left, but their participation is often due to pressure from studio executives and agents who hold great power over them and are monotonously liberal, as well as peer pressure. After all what sense does it make to alienate at least half of your audience unnecessarily?

Over the course of my life whenever I held any kind of power I’m happy to say that I never used it to compel anyone to do anything they didn’t want to do. Instead I usually found myself banging up against the powerful. I paid a steep price throughout my life for political views I never hid, starting in graduate school, where I endured considerable mental anguish and was completely alone, as symbolized one time when I was sitting in the cafeteria when someone announced that busses were coming to take people to a demonstration. The place completely cleared out and I was literally alone. In those days there were no support structures around at all like the conservative think tanks, organizations, and media that exist today. Actually, if I think about it, it began in high school, where I was a favorite of an honors class history teacher until she found out I was supporting a Republican (Rockefeller at the time, not even a conservative). Ironically in a class exercise of a mock election campaign she prevailed upon me to advocate the candidacy of George Wallace just to cover all the candidates because no one wanted to do it, this being Brooklyn, NY. So when the time came I got up and spoke with a mock southern accent (which wasn’t hard for me having family from the South, i.e. my aunt owned the Robert E. Lee hotel in Jackson, Mississippi), had friends acting as cheerleaders and there was hysterical laughter in the class. When the time came to vote, the class actually elected Wallace based on my performance, not his politics. Well the teacher went ballistic and freaked out, outraged and furious that the majority of her honors class would actually vote the way they did, and refused to submit the election results to the larger school tally. Notwithstanding the fact that she prevailed on me to do something I really didn’t want to do, she never spoke to me again after that and my grades subsequently took a dive, as a result of typical liberal tolerance. So it went on in life in since I was frequently in fields controlled by the left. Often when I inconveniently turned out to be more articulate than them while taking what they viewed as the “wrong” position,” I was the subject of particular hatred. 

So when it comes to power, although leftists like to portray themselves as struggling nobly against sinister forces for truth and justice, in my experience they are the ones who have consistently abused power for political purposes. In fact I have yet to come across a liberal with anything like a heroic streak no matter how they may romanticize themselves. When you look around at people who have actually performed heroic deeds, they are almost always conservative, if they are anything politically. The noticeable lack of liberals is not surprising; these are the people who invented the anti-hero after all. Just think of who is more likely to perform selfless acts, or even give to charity. The evidence clearly shows it is conservatives. 

There was a time when I was bitter about my encounters with the left, but it is long gone now, and as I’ve indicated, the wise course is to avoid getting obsessively angry about anything political. In the larger scheme of things they are a bitter minority motivated by fear of the Other that doesn’t actually exist. So rather than respond in-kind and attack them, at this point I’m decidedly more oriented towards persuading them as to the error of their ways. 

For an earlier take on this topic go to: http://www.georgesarant.com/2010/09/political-passion.html 

Written by georgesarant

May 14, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Posted in Politics