Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why people are yellow

“If you keep studying so much about China, you’re going to end up yellow,” she said.
“I don’t understand this yellow thing, you’re whiter than I am,” I said. "How did they come up with this description of Asians?"
“It makes it easier for White people to treat us as if we’re not human.”

Monday, September 27, 2010

Obamadrama

The big news today is that a poll shows that only 38 per cent of Americans think Obama should be re-elected.  We apparently want to shoot the first guy who tried to fix the 15–year-old entrenched mismanagement of the American economy. Obama followed the dumbest president since Warren G. Harding, so how could he screw it up?  He screwed it up because people are generally hurting and anyone on top is considered the causative factor in their suffering.
George Bush was a loser who listened to Cheney and…..Cheney when he was in the white house. As I’ve said before, Alan Greenspan believed the market was rational and that companies (like banks) would never do anything not in the interest of the stockholders.  His old friend, Ronald Reagan said “trust, but verify.” But Alan didn’t believe in verifying anything, because Ayn Rand had spoken to him from Mount Olympus.
Our country was in terrible shape when Obama came into office; however, some of the people Obama surrounded himself with resembled foxes entering the henhouse. Larry Summers has been called an egotistical son of a bitch (Who is only, apparently, transcended by Richard Holbrooke). Summers earlier, along with Henry Paulson and other banksters got rid of a depression-era law called the Glass Steagall Act that separated commercial banks from investment banks to protect the people of America So much for Obama leading a populist charge against the entrenched special interests that really run our country.
He then found a guy who didn’t pay his taxes and made him Secretary of the Treasury. His big claim to fame was he was Paulson Jr. Smart thinking, Barack.
He didn’t revive the Civilian Conservation Corps, or fix bridges and roads, or bring back any of the kinds of things that Roosevelt used to give people self respect, while fixing our disturbingly disintegrating infrastructure. He didn’t rail against the bankers who were sucking this country dry while California had an unemployment rate of 12.4 percent.
But the Republicans, who helped drive this country over a cliff, don’t have any ideas on how to fix things either, because they’re running around quoting Barry Goldwater, Hamilton Fish and that great intellectual, Sarah Palin.  They want the country to have less money to pay off the deficit, because rich people need the extra cash.  How do you sell the country on a stupid policy like that? They already did.
I’ve said before that independents should have somebody speaking for them, but I don’t think they believe Obama is their guy. After writing this, all I can hope is that one day he'll be my guy.

Friday, September 24, 2010

War Between Japan and China?

On September 8, 1931, a staged incident at Mukden (now Shenyang) led to Japan’s takeover of Manchuria, a precursor to the Rape of Nanjing and World War Two.
On September 8, 2010, a Chinese boat captain  was seized by Japan near islands claimed by both China and Japan, but administered by Japan. Today, Japan threw in the towel and let him go. It was a big time loss of face for the land of the Rising Sun. There’s the potential for a lot of oil in the Yellow Sea, and the two countries are both going to claim those islands.
A Chinese friend of mine, yesterday offhandedly said he wouldn’t be surprised if sometime in the next few years there might be war between Japan and China.
Many Chinese think America has rebuilt Japan into a powerful military nation, but that’s really not true.
At the close of the war, Gen. Douglas MacArthur drew up a constitution for Japan that prohibited Japan from having a standing army. Ever since, America has rued that day.  Time after time we’ve wanted Japan to be a strong military nation, so we wouldn’t have to protect it.
So Japan has Self Defense Forces that number around 240,000 men. Chinese have about 3,000,000 in the People’s Liberation Army. Sun Yat Sen (Sun Zhong Shan) once said that the Chinese people are like sand that fell through his fingers.  That hasn’t been true since 1949.
  I can’t see 240,000 Self Defense Forces going up against 3 million, well trained, men. There is still a lot of anger in China toward the Japanese (Shinto shrine, anyone). As for worrying about Japan’s power, it is like our fearing the army of Paraguay.
There can be demonstrations against Japan across China when the Government allows it. There are reasons that remain for that anger.( One of my Japanese students told me the Rape of Nanjing and the fate of the comfort women were lies). But as for fear of the Japanese, they just might as well worry about the return of the Bai Gu Jing, the white bone demon in To The West.

Tariffs and China

Free trade works as long as everyone plays by the same rules. Countries should practice it as long as every other country accepts the rules. That’s why European countries who try to protect their agricultural sector run afoul of the rules when they provide subsidies for farmers.
America has believed in free trade because the business sector wanted us too and because they pushed their friends in Congress to treat it as a holy mantra. Bush and the Republicans thought it was great, and Geithner and Obama also seem to worship it. Every time Geithner went to China it was as a supplicant. Schumer would rail against the yuan, and then visit China where everyone treated him so nicely and gave him so much Moutai, he forgot why he was there.
I respect China and have many good friends there, but I would like everyone for the moment to think of this as a poker game. The US and Europe are playing poker with the Chinese, so whenever someone raises, the US and Europe put in a dollar and China puts in 80 cents. But when China wins, they get everything on the table. Their currency is at least 20 percent lower than it should be. The yuan, unlike all of the currencies of China’s trading partners, is not allowed to float. (Our dollar may go up in value, but the government can’t officially do anything about it. The Chinese, however, can decide how much they allow the yuan to appreciate.)
Given this situation in which America has prostrated itself in front of the Middle Kingdom and the yuan has not made an appreciable move higher, what can America do about it?
In the past America has said, “Oh goodness, gracious, that doesn’t seem fair.” There is another way to deal with this and the house is apparently moving that way this morning. It’s only possible because both Republicans and Democrats are up for re-election. Most people in this country want something done about this.
Therefore, tariffs are the answer until the yuan is allowed to rise to its real level. I will be talking to some of my friends on Saturday to see what their reaction is to this, but I believe that America has to wake up and do this.  China recently indicated that companies that want to sell cars in China have to turn over proprietary information on electric car technology to China. There are many ways in which the Chinese government controls access to its markets.
But when placing the tariffs on selected goods, America must say plainly that it was forced to do this and has no antagonism towards China. All it would take for it to end would be currency parity.  This is not a step towards estrangement from China or indicates anything else is below the surface on this move.
We should emphasize that we respect China, and explain the American people want it and that it’s  fair. It’s not a bellicose move that we are making.

On Chinese Women Two

This is a description of a beautiful Chinese woman in America in the late 30’s.  It appears in my book Tommy Babcock . It describes the particular charm of many Chinese women, and is a follow up to my earlier Blog “On Chinese Women.” The description is by the Tommy Babcock, the story’s hero. It takes place on a Hollywood set.

“Feng Feng played the daughter of an important businessman in partnership with my white friend, who was putting me up in his house on the Peak. (That’s the expensive area of Hong Kong, where everybody stoically bears “the white man’s burden”)   As parts went, it wasn’t much, but if you are an Asian woman, it was as good as it gets.  You know Hollywood; short of playing Charlie Chan’s daughter, this was the crème de la crème.  Imagine that the finest bone china had elasticity and you can picture her skin, with a natural whiteness that Chinese say only women who live along the Chiang Jiang are blessed with.  Her eyes are as large as cheaters can get. Looking into them was just like falling into the Grand Canyon.  She is five seven, weighs maybe 110 pounds at the tail end of a shower, and has  full, sensual lips that took to red lipstick like a Labrador to water.  In fact, those lips and Factor’s finest were meant to be together.  In a just world, she would have been the star and her maid would have been played by Mary Astor, but, as you know, that’s not the way it works.  We’d send missionaries to China to convert the populace to Christianity, but never tell them they shouldn’t immigrate to the missionary’s country if they believed that God, or the constitution, really made everybody equal.
She is proud and it shows.  Her bearing is that of an aristocrat, which she would really have been if the Qing dynasty hadn’t fallen like a house of cards in a windstorm.  While her features were soft, there was something that told you not to take liberties. At first I thought she didn’t know the score and imagined that the gates of Hollywood were going to open up for her, but I soon found out she was just passing time between graduation from the normal school in San Jose and teaching  at the  elementary school in Chinatown.  She knew even Franklin Roosevelt didn’t have the power to make her a star, so she never gave the casting couch a second thought.”

“Hollywood isn’t exactly known for fighting prejudice,” Ginny said. “The Jews may run the studios, but the stars all are WASPS, or look like they are.”

“She had that figured.  This part was just a way to make some money until she was happily reading stories to oval eyed children. I was sure every man who ever met her, must have dreamed of her, but then, maybe everyone didn’t have my good taste.
I was the big star, but she made me feel as if I were an understudy in summer stock on Cape Cod, waiting to smell the perfume of the female lead.  Her face was round in a way that only Asian women’s faces can be without hinting at the onset of obesity.  Luminous is a word I’ve never tried to use before, but that was the word that seemed to fit.
Her mother, who was also a knockout and a lot older than she looked, was there every day on the set to make sure nothing happened to her daughter; although Hollywood power and its ravenous need for new women is a more important force in the City of the Angels than a mother’s love. Louis B. Mayer and David O. Selznick made the rules there and the rest of the city went along, even the rich shagitzhim at the Los Angeles Country Club. However, one day when her mother wasn’t there, I talked her into having lunch with me in my office.  She looked like she didn’t want to be there alone, but she understood that being seen with me in the commissary would have made her a target for every narrow-minded thug on the lot. It probably seemed like the only option, short of pissing off the pushy movie star.
            “I had ordered lobster and crab legs, and a bottle of Chardonnay.  I didn’t bother to open the wine after she proclaimed she didn’t drink.
“Thanks a lot for joining me today,” I said.  “I thought it would be a good experience for me to talk to you.”
“Why?”  She looked as if I had recently had my frontal lobes cut.
“‘Because I don’t really know anything about Chinese people,” I said, fumbling.
“‘Why are you interested?”  She was being pleasant, but clearly dubious.
“‘Well, we’re making this movie about Hong Kong,” I said.
“This movie is being made in the same place they made your movie about Buenos Aires and the same place they filmed the Rocky Mountain movie,” she said.
“‘Maybe I just wanted to talk to you,” I said.
“Okay, but I still don’t quite understand it,” she said, in a way that meant she really did understand.
“‘Your mom is really beautiful.  It’s amazing how she looks as if she’s thirty,’ I said, trying to regain some footing in the conversation.
            “It’s funny how white people always say that.  Chinese women seem to have elasticity in their skin for 15 to 20 years longer than Caucasians,’ she said. ‘There is a joke about some Methodist ministers who come to China and are trying to learn Mandarin, but they don’t have a full grasp of the language. At the same time, they decide to adopt a girl they meet on the street who looks like she’s very hungry.  They take her home to the Methodist compound, but feel bad that every night the girl cries herself to sleep.  Unfortunately, their Chinese isn’t good enough to understand what she’s saying, so they ask a local woman to stay at night and tell them what words are accompanying the tears.  The woman, Mrs. Hong, comes downstairs after listening to the girl.  The missionary couple looks expectantly at her, hoping for an insight.  ‘She says she misses her grandchildren,’ Mrs. Hong reported.”
            I laughed. “Your mom didn’t come today.”
            “Did you invite me to lunch so you could get close to my mom,” she said, trying to throw off my rhythm.”
            “You figured it out, I feel so transparent,” I said
             “She’s up having sherry at UCLA,” she said.
            “UCLA?”
            “It’s a university,” she said, digging meat out of a crab claw.
            “Even I know that,” I said.  “Why is she there?”    
            “They’re celebrating my dad’s new book on Kong Fu Zi,” she said, daintily cutting up some lobster.
            “Is that an important political figure?”
            “In the West they call him Confucius.  My Dad is the expert on him at UCLA.”
            “Now that is interesting?” I said.
            “Good.  I can see we have much in common,” she said, looking around the room at the collection of posters from my Broadway shows.  “Is there anything in this room that isn’t about you?”
            “No.”
            “Now that is interesting,” she said.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Education in America and China

Today it was announced that Shanghai students were the best in the world in all categories. America, which didn't do well at all, was second to last in math. The following article talks about just why we are where we are:

I once had a class of juniors and seniors in college to whom I gave a writing assignment. I had to change the assignment because no one in the class could do a percentage.
To enter college in China you have to know differential calculus.
Some mothers in the U.S. say, “My son just can’t do math.”
In China, any woman who said that would be experiencing Mei Mianzi, a loss of face.
A Sociology Professor said; let’s face it, “Our kids just don’t have the minds for math.”
No one would remain a Jiao Shou (Professor) in China after that statement. China wants to become the largest economy in the world, and you can’t do that with students who graduate from college without knowing basic algebra.
The writing examination for graduation from the college was judged “holistically”. The man who told me this, an English professor, said that maybe it was important to people like me, a guy who taught journalism, to make sure punctuation and sentence structure were correct. He said in other disciplines it is enough to figure out what the student is trying to say.  He was one of the professors who graded the exit examination.
In China there are nationwide examinations to see which students are admitted into which college. The examinations are fierce with only a few gaining admission to Beida (Peking University) or Tsinghua, the Cal Tech of China. But Chinese students have been taking tests every week in many subjects, so those competing understand what they’re up against.

America has some colleges where a substantial amount of the student body are special admissions. One of these students in the 1990s once wondered why I kept saying 20th Century when the years started with 19--. She didn’t trust me about this issue, so she went to other professors who broke the news to her we lived in the 20th Century. I would tell other professors about these experiences and they’d give me a look like “so?” Clearly none of them had read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or believed they had any responsibility for the students that were under their charge. Mayor Bloomberg has tried for over three years to get rid of bad teachers in the New York City school system. The teachers union has made sure he only got rid of six.
I’ve known Chinese who have friends in America who dislike the place and don’t want to be studying their field because they have no interest in it. But because their parents would be shamed by their returning without a degree, they stay and finish that degree.
To those Americans who now seize on the last paragraphs and say America is better because Americans don’t have parents who would be that clueless, I close with an experience from one of my classes.
I was urging my students to read The World is Flat. A student said to me, “Dr. Turner we play football and basketball, Chinese put math books in their baby’s cribs.” That’s a true story, like all the rest on this page. I wonder why everyone thinks China looks like the future?

Monday, September 20, 2010

On Chinese Women

This blog is about Chinese women, who can be as different as night and day. So, anything I say in this blog may have nothing to do with the Chinese woman you’re dating or marrying. If you’re lucky you can end up with a woman who would stop a bullet for you, something you might not expect from a career driven American woman
The first thing to know is they aren’t Japanese, and a lot of Chinese guys think marrying a Japanese woman would be really wonderful because she would greet you at the door with a shot of Jim Beam and express her respect for you. Get over it. This is a Chinese woman who is probably very good at what she personally does and doesn’t have time to make you think you are the greatest thing since Brad Pitt.
In fact, she’s going to tell you the truth. You won’t ever hear “Well you should have known what I was thinking.” They don’t believe in your omniscience, and neither should you. If they think you’re getting fat, they’ll say “Ni hen pang” which translates into “you’re fat.” There will be no beating around the bush.
I know a woman who asks a guy how much money he has by the third date. If this was an American woman you’d never date her again. But she’s Chinese, so if you hang in  with her  you should give up any hope you’re gonna stash some Benjamin’s some place where she’ll never find them.
Don’t be surprised when they do something really thoughtful for you that you never expected. She’s part of a unit where keeping morale up is a duty.
One female PhD who lives in China told me what she was interested in from a man. Here they are in rank order:
1.       He has to have a good, secure job.
2.       He should have a house
3.       He should own a car
I asked her what about love.  She said that it would probably come in time, but it wasn’t a deal breaker. (Remember, we aren’t talking about Chinese women who grew up in America, this is about people who grew up in Mainland China.)
The longer a Chinese woman is in America, the more she wants to hear I love you.  I always defend the Chinese husband by saying that American men will tell women they love them if they like their dog.. How can I explain to her that her husband grew up in a society where you don’t do that very often?  America is a society where a guy can say, “I love you, pass the bacon.”
There are a lot of great benefits from marrying a Chinese woman, but I’m not going to spill the beans, because then American men will all want Chinese wives and in the countryside of China there are already too few women. Americans can’t always have more and more of everything good. So a lot of men will have to live with “You should have known what I was thinking.”

Leveraging and Responsibility

There are two factors, out of many, that have put Americans where they are today:
1.       It’s part of the American Dream to think someday, even if you’re working on an assembly line, you could be the C.E.O of the company.
2.       Americans believed there was twice as much money in circulation than there really was, because some banks loaned money with a 35 to 1 ratio of retained cash to loans. (This may be easier to understand if you think of people going to Vegas with $1 dollar and yet betting $35 dollars at the tables. (We, of course, can’t do that, but banks could.) By making these loans, even if people or companies couldn't pay them back, we got faked out on how much houses and companies were worth. We didn’t know that a lot of this money was going from a poorly run bank to people or entities that spent the money on things which were really worth half of what they were selling for. Americans have always believed that beans can grow to the sky.
So now, we’re paying for it. Obama worked hard to produce a finance bill to change this behavior, but he can’t erase the past. He can’t change that people in Compton and Brentwood paid double what the houses were really worth. The bankers are well off, but the people who borrowed the money are in big trouble. This can be laid at the door of Bush and Clinton and (of course) Greenspan, who read Ayn Rand novels for economic guidance, He didn’t think anything should be regulated, because the market was rational and he  didn’t believe any company would do things that weren’t good for the stockholders.
But we’re paying for it, and we must accept some of the responsibility. People who voted for Bush, who was letting all this dysfunctional behavior go on, are responsible. The democrats are responsible for the fact fannie and freddie had to be nationalized. When we took out a liars loan which didn’t make us prove we made $200,000 a year we were responsible. We all figured prices of homes would keep going up,
Deep down, didn’t any of us question why there was all this money around? We sold our Brentwood condo in 2005 because things didn’t seem quite right. We’ve been renting ever since. My dry cleaner laughed at me for selling the condo. “Didn’t you know you are never going to get back into this market?” A lot of other people couldn’t understand why we were so brainless.
It’s wonderful that Americans are a hopeful people. Well educated people thought they were immune from forces like a financial tsunami.  But we really weren’t that safe in our jobs.
So do we blame the bankers and politicians for everything? Didn’t we have a responsibility to be rational? I remember a student of mine who wanted me to give him the money for half the house he bought and he assured me we’d both get rich.  Since he never came to class and got really bad grades, it would have been the most foolish thing I could ever do.
But I believe that the people running the banks, or the regulators who were supposed to keep horrible things from happening probably weren’t that much smarter than my student. They both believed in things that weren’t true. We believed there were master spies at the CIA, until we found out about Howard Hunt.
Since Bush got elected twice, Alan Greenspan was proclaimed a genius, and Christopher Cox (the head of the SEC) proved that even someone with an IQ of 80 could graduate from an Ivy League Law School, all of this was allowed to happen. Because we didn’t want men kissing men, we voted Republican. When many demanded that freddie and fannie should be fixed, Democratic rep. Barney Frank made sure it didn’t happen.
I love America and I believe we have to take responsibility for part of this. Sometimes Americans, like most other people in the world, believe that things can only go up. But when they fail, we say it’s always everybody else’s fault. Now we think that Obama should have already fixed what the bankers and politicians took 15 years to destroy.  They forget that when things are bought for twice what they’re worth, someday they’ll have to pay. (I’m not talking about the people who got a loan from Countrywide and the other Orange County fly by night operations.  They were lied to and didn’t think friendly people like these guys could ruin their lives.)
We have to take some responsibility for this, and, unfortunately, live through the pain of deleveraging. A lot of crooks got away with a lot, but we voted for the people who could have stopped it. We can’t blame Obama for not fixing it in two minutes. I personally think the thing that protects me the most was that my father died when I was seven. Thereafter we lived from one social security check to the next, wondering if they would stretch to the end of the month so we could eat. I know that everything doesn’t always turn out all right, and that whatever happened to me after that was my responsibility.
I grieve for the people who can’t find work, especially the long term unemployed. And I also wonder why we let these pseudo-American CEOs send all our jobs overseas, without our politicians raising a fuss.
Doesn’t responsibility s—t?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Poor American in China

Americans have been bragging overseas  about our power and wealth since at least World War II and, probably were acting that way since the start of the 20th Century.( I’m a Mayflower descendent from two Pilgrims, and I used to think that was cool, until I realized in the 21st Century only money matters). So, after shopping in Beijing at the Silk Market in 2008, where I got a handmade suit for $180, I decided two years later to go shopping in Shanghai.
A local friend had promised to help us find things in Shanghai. I said there were a lot of places we didn’t want to go in Shanghai, like Huaihai Road, because I knew how expensive things were there. So we were taken to Nanjing Road where Lao Bai Xing (ordinary people) like us allegedly could afford the prices. I quickly realized that these places had no bargains and I didn’t want to spend my money. Then I got a look from my wife which said Mei Mianzi would be our fate if I didn’t unload some cash on some item after the friend had spent half a day with us.  Mei Mianzi means to lose face, a fate worse than death in China.
Therefore I paid $200 for some Clark shoes (I know, I must be a nerd) that I could get for $100 back in Los Angeles. Suddenly I felt like one of the poor tourists who come to America and take a bus to the nearest outlet mall. I looked around at the city and noticed how many impressive skyscrapers were around me.
I know most Chinese couldn’t afford to shop in Shanghai. I assume most Shanghainese couldn’t shop on Nanjing Road, but it didn’t make me feel like a blustery rich American who should tell the Chinese how to run their country. I remembered that we were telling the Chinese to issue a lot of credit cards and have their banks come into the 21st Century by giving more mortgages on real estate, right before our banks destroyed the world economy.
Americans somehow don’t feel right if they can’t tell other countries what to do. Next time I’ll go shopping in Vietnam.

Palin and Pelosi

Walter Bagehot, the English editor and scientist, did a study of what makes society weak or strong. He said a nation is as strong as the people it emulates. In other words, if America values the right people, the country will continue to improve.
Luckily we have Barack Obama, who may not be a great president, but who has wonderful qualities and values. He deserves respect just for who he is.
But let’s also take Sarah Palin and Nancy Pelosi as examples of people who are prominent in our society. Palin is someone who knows foreign affairs because she can see Russia from Alaska. When asked to name an important book that had influenced her outlook, she went blank. Sometimes I think there is nothing in her brain at all, but that’s not quite fair. She has political cunning and can influence republican primaries. Conservatives really like her because she is cute and carries all the same prejudices they do. If she is who we emulate, then let’s start burning books like Catcher in the Rye and Harry Potter (because witches should be held under water to test their witchhood).  No one should underestimate her political instincts and ability to influence the Republican Party. My goodness, gracious, she’s a pistol.  It’s too bad Annie Oakley died before she could see her spitting image.
Then we have a person who is elected by a small ultra-liberal group in San Francisco.  The chance that her constituents represent a cross section of America is as likely as George Bush being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. I know a lot of Democrats who despise her (they tend to be centrists) and her ranking in the eyes of the American people is pretty low. There are some democrats who are subtly deriding her when running in tough districts. Nancy Pelosi is a lot smarter than Sarah Palin, but people cheer for Palin.
We’ve never been so divided a nation since 1860 or 1939, and both of them are responsible for the distance between Americans. They stand for partisan stupidity, which is preventing America from getting together to fix our many problems. If we keep asking the little we do of our students, we’ll end up as a suburb of Beijing.
Today someone asked if I could live with Sarah Palin beating Obama in a general election, I got a queasy stomach and thought about Jefferson, Monroe and Madison. I think we would be the laughing stock of the world, especially after she called Queen Elizabeth “queeny.”

Friday, September 17, 2010

Is Obama on TV again?

Yesterday I discovered Obama has four people in his cabinet.  No kidding, yesterday there was Gary Locke, the Secretary of Commerce, on the TV.  I knew that Geithner was a secretary because he's always telling us that things could be worse.  And I remember this woman, Janet Napolitano, being given the hook and silenced because she always said stupid things.  Since she was the Secretary of Homeland Security that didn't make people feel very secure.  And then we have the vice president...

There may be even more, but we'll never see them, because Obama has to be on TV everyday. Yesterday he was on and we didn't turn up the sound, because if everybody did that, he'd want to be on twice a day.  Absence is supposed to make the heart grow fonder, but that idiomatic wave never came ashore on Oahu.

Presidents are not supposed to be overexposed.  Who wants to listen to a guy who was on three times yesterday.  One day he's going to bring the unemployment rate down to nine per cent and I won't know about it because I didn't turn up the sound.

Wait a minute, Hillary is out there being the Secretary of State.  She's actually doing a good job and she knows enough to stay out of Washington so she can get on television, too.  I remember when I went to vote for Obama in the California primary, my wife called up our two daughters and had them join her at the polls to vote for Hillary.  I thought that was kind of nasty because it kind of made my vote irrelevant.  Because she's a med school professor she thought she knew which one of them was ready to be president.  Okay, she was right, but I didn't know that Larry Summers was going to be his economic buddy.

Tomorrow his face will probably be on Bloomberg and I'll keep the sound turned off.  If he's declaring war or finally launching the Civilian Conservation Corps, one of you is going to have to call me and tell me to turn up the sound.

The Role of Face in Chinese Patriotism



All of us in the west were complicit in taking Chinese territory and running the treaty ports under English or French law, while Chinese were treated with contempt. The International Settlement in Shanghai was a combination of the America and British concessions, run by the British.


When you see the effort put into the Olympics or the Shibohui (The world expo in Shanghai) you can see the pride in Chinese grow as they brush away the sordid past. Chinese use the words mei mianzi to describe the loss of face (which is the worst thing that can happen in many Asian cultures). When you see Chinese with strong pride in their country, you have to understand they have a right to that patriotism, after all the country's gone through. This is not an endorsement of any government or political party, but simply an explanation  of why feeling proud of being Chinese is an important step for a people who spent the early part of the 20th century treated as lesser beings by westerners and Japanese.

Teehee Party


These days people don't care whether anyone is smart. We had a president named Bush who governed while only having a 75 IQ. They will probably soon name a beer after Sarah Palin which will have a naked picture of her daughter's ex boyfriend on the label. Because smart is out, we now have the new Tea Party.


Republicans, who first thought this was wonderful, are now comparing the new Tea Party to a neutron bomb. It seems that a number of reasonably well off Republicans were so conservative they actually wanted to go to Washington to change things. They wanted the teaching of evolution banned and John 3:16 engraved on the front of classrooms. They also don't think trading pork is healthy, because they're waiting for Armageddon and Israel has to be a going entity for this to happen.


For the Republicans this is a very bad thing. They know what they don't like, but don't seem to have any idea how it should be different.  Democrats are Ivy League graduates who want to help the common people as long as they don't have to touch them or have their children go to school with them. Because they have shown they want to do things the people don't really want, people don't trust them..Along comes the Tea Party which has primary winners who don't have the ability to "be elected dogcatcher." Now the Republicans, who thought they were going to beat the Democrats, have candidates to the right of Atilla the Hun.


Christine McDonnell is someone who might be described as a right wing soccer mom. She won the Republican primary by beating a man who, reportedly, was not a whacko guy. Since Delaware is a state with a lot of Democrats, it's doubtful she has a chance in hell of winning the general election. Once again the Republicans' grand plan is starting to crumble


I once wrote about the 30 percent of Americans who were independents because they were liberal on social issues, but more fiscally conservative than Democrats. They aren't going to vote for right wing people who want to get rid of social security (the Republican senatorial candidate in Nevada).  So things may have shifted as we move towards November, but, so far, I haven't seen anyone worthy of having a beer named after them.
 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tommy Babcock: Chapter 3

The train got into New York early Friday morning, so after buying smokes, toothpaste and a lot of books, I headed up the gangplank and into Cunard’s flagship. After a shower, I poured myself a shot of Glenlivet, and read the newspaper as the single malt loosened my traveling muscles. The Herald-Tribune was decidedly negative about the situation in Europe. To the editors, Hitler astride the continent had all the appeal of a buzzard circling carrion. It seemed I could not be going across the pond at a worse time.


I brought only one trunk, since I knew my sister and she knew my measurements. Tailors on Savile Row were working right now to greet my arrival with clothes right for an English winter. The duds I packed would see me across the Atlantic. Of course I always traveled with dinner clothes, which my fans consider my uniform. The thought of dancing reminded me of my exercises. A dancer had to stay fit, even if he didn’t have an upcoming engagement. Staying in shape was as important as brushing my teeth or shaving, so I began with stretches and followed with 100 pushups. I attached a rod across the bathroom doorway and chinned myself 20 times, followed by a lot of abdominal lifts.

A knock on the door preceded a uniformed kid bearing a note on a tray. Tipping the boy, I picked up an envelope that said “John Alan Merryvale.” The card invited me to a party in his rooms. It didn’t take much thinking to make me go and drink some of his family’s scotch for free, so I showered, put some Pinaud on my hair and splashed on some 4711, before slipping into a Brooks Brothers Polo Collar shirt and one of their repp ties. I put on a cashmere blazer with grey flannel slacks that had just the right break at the shoe and decided the effect was all right. My tailor had warned me I should never wear a Polo collar at night but I figured nothing was worse than mating with a St. Bernard.

Merryvale’s cabin, as you might have guessed, was the finest on board. There was caviar, foie gras and ice sculptures in the shape of swans. Amongst the Dom Perignon and Pouilly Fuisse stood proud bottles of Glen Alan 18, which along with the other booze his father owned and imported, acknowledged the source of Merryvale’s dough..

“Tommy, you bright eyed bon vivant, now the party can begin,” he said, louder than was necessary. He always insisted on kissing me on the cheek, which I didn’t like, but for some reason tolerated. I thought I spied mascara on his lashes. His breath smelled like a combination of peppermint and….

I stepped back and said, “What’s the news from Cole these days?”

“Coley is Coley, ever the same. He’s asked many times if I’ve seen you.”

“Cole used to pretend I could sing, I miss having someone around like that,” I said. There was no way I would ever refer to Cole Porter as “Coley,” noticing that only men with that tunesmith’s other interest found it stylish.

“Oh, come on. I know that a lot of people think you sing divinely.” John, without asking, filled up a large highball glass with Glen Alan 18.

“I had thought about drinking, not being embalmed,” I said, not refusing the glass. “I hear you have a rare 21, but I haven’t been able to find it in L.A.”

“I’ll send a bottle to your cabin,” he said. “Now meet the other guests.”

I was introduced to people with titles, people with money, and two young chorus boys who had something else that interested John.

“Ausgezeichnet, Sehr erfreut,” said a ramrod straight, middle aged man with silver hair whom I recognized as Johan Von Taunus. I replied in German, shaking his hand.

“I saw the play ‘Universe,’” I said. “It was in English, but I was very impressed.”

“You are too kind. It took me two years to put an American production together. I am gratified that someone thought it was worth the effort,” he responded. “The translation seemed to be well received in New York.”

Von Taunus created plays where actors were forced to search deep within themselves. The plays dealt with complicated subjects that touched on the universality of the human condition. Each play was a parable that moved beyond the physical location (Paris, Berlin, etc.) to a place all of us might end up, especially if we were plagued with guilt or felt a failure. I’m not the only one who thought he was a genius.

“Are you heading home?” I asked.

“Yes, I miss Germany. It is time I returned,” he said.

“Even with all that is going on?” I said

“Ah, yes. Germany is still Germany to me. Besides, the press has distorted what is happening. Except for the racial laws I do not approve of, everything is fine in the Fatherland. If you feel like a trip, after England, please come and stay in Kronberg with me.”

“I appreciate the invitation. The sooner I put a visit with my brother-in-law behind me, the better. If I’m able to get off that island, I’ll contact you.”

“How do your countrymen feel about the situation in Europe?” he asked.

“Most everyone just wants to stay out of it,” I said. “Everyone feels we made a mistake marching over there the last time. Dying for the English or the French isn’t something that appeals to anyone.

Von Taunus handed me his calling card and said, “It would be a great honor to have someone of your stature visit me.”

If the folks in England wouldn’t think I was a washed up song and dance man, I supposed that in Germany they would think me an actor of Olympian proportions. “If there is any way I can fit it in, I would be delighted,” I said.

During the next few days, I saw a lot of Johannes von Taunus. I complained a lot to him about how Jimmy had taken Ginny out of the act and how angry I was. I expressed distaste for the British as a people, made much of my German heritage and promised to give his invitation to visit a chance to percolate in my brain. Von Taunus continued to express his distaste with Hitler’s racial policies.

Merryvale provided a constant party with more and more people dropping by every day. I assumed he had another cabin, because he and the boys would disappear for awhile, but the party kept going. It actually was a fun voyage, unless you went out on deck. Some days, I even found the cold North Atlantic bracing, although it helped me appreciate Encino. During the trip, I pledged to myself I’d never live north of Santa Barbara County.

When we disembarked we were fast friends and I promised to call Von Taunus as soon as I could. We said goodbye as I spotted Ginny’s Chauffeur, standing like a member of the Coldstream Guards, holding a sign that said “Tommy.”

Tommy Babcock: Chapter 2

The next morning I put my trunk in the back of the wood paneled ranch wagon and headed for the train station. As Francisco, my taciturn ranch manager, drove out toward the highway, I took a mental picture of the Washington navel orange trees that stretched for acres and that, thank God, paid the property tax. The days were fine, but not as fine as they would be in spring when the trees bloomed and the San Fernando Valley swam in their scent.

We headed up through Cahuenga Pass, while I counted the number of Camels left in the pack. I made a note to pick up a couple of cartons in the station and a lot of cartons in New York for the rest of the trip. Europeans smoked shitty cigarettes.

If Francisco hadn’t been such a good manager, I would have fired him a long time ago. He never offered information. You had to ask specific questions that were narrowly focused. He was honest; I was sure of that, but I had to read up on citrus cultivation, grafting and irrigation to know what to even ask about. I made friends with other farmers to understand prevailing wage rates in late depression California. If I hadn’t grown up on horseback and around livestock, the entire ranch experience would’ve driven me nuts.

Francisco didn’t treat me like a star when I was with a studio, so I figured he wasn’t about to start now. His replies came in grunts, or occasionally in Spanish, although he knew that I knew he’d graduated from L. A. High and had a hell of a lot less accent than Caesar Romero. Knowing I was acting like a sap, I still told Francisco about the call from Ginny and about Jack’s situation. He didn’t say anything, so I lit a cigar, let smoke waft in his direction and hoped he felt the Dutch Masters had farted in his face.

I attached a black moustache to my upper lip as we traveled the last few miles to the old SP train station. The Times said that in a few months all the passenger trains in LA. would be arriving at and departing from the Union Station we’d been promised for over a decade.

Pulling up to the side of the station, Francisco carried the steamer trunk while I pulled a Borsalino down over my forehead and headed to an entrance favored by celebrities to avoid crowds and the press. Pretty soon, I figured, I wouldn’t have any fans left to avoid.

Tommy Babcock: Chapter 1

FLASH
By D. H. Quinn

Philadelphia (UP)--Police today rushed to the Warwick Hotel after gunshots were reported in the hotel rooms of Republican Presidential Nominee Wendell Willkie, who only hours before had been selected to carry the GOP standard.

Unconfirmed reports have an ambulance en route to the scene and a physician in attendance.

Willkie received the nod on the sixth ballot after delegates failed to choose either frontrunner Robert Taft or Thomas E. Dewey on initial ballots.

Chants of “We Want Willkie” thundered through the convention hall until the convention adjourned at 1:30 a.m. with Willkie the victor.









February 1940





Los Angeles Times



ANTI-NAZI GERMAN SLAIN IN SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO



San Juan Capistrano-- The body of an anti-Nazi leader, whose courageous stand against the Third Reich had him marked for death was discovered in an alley one block from the San Juan Capistrano Mission last night.

Jonas Fischbach, the legendary German democrat who kept one step ahead of Nazi





September 1939



DAILY MIRROR

NATION PRAYS FOR

SILENCED STAR



Hold for art









Washington--As the mysterious woman the press knows only as “The Angel of Mercy” sits by his bedside, the actor who redefined the image of the movie “tough guy” holds his secrets in a coma. She reportedly discovered him lying in the road outside her apartment a week ago.





Chapter One









November 1938

You may remember me. For an all too brief period, I was on the movie screen in your town. You probably filed me under “boy dancer,” or if I was really lucky, “boy singer.” But if you’ve missed seeing me at your theatre, you probably paired me with my sister, Ginny. Everybody else did.

Yes I’m Tommy Babcock. If you’re a fan, you know that Ginny and I started out on Broadway in the 20s and arrived like gangbusters in Hollywood in ’31. Our first film, Buenos Aires Rhapsody, sold a lot of tickets. The critics and the studio agreed we were boffo, so they put our names above the title for Christmas in the Rockies and Dangerous Lady. Every movie had a bigger box office, so we pushed out three pictures a year and you wanted more. Then came our public appearance tour in England in 1937 and everything fell apart. Well, to be more specific, it fell apart for me. Ginny landed a British guy with a lot of bucks. I got a return ticket to L. A. and a co-starring role with a Saint Bernard.

Okay, save the tears because I saved my money. Except for acquiring a 400-acre ranch in a place called Encino, I made some good financial moves. And I’ve got enough money coming in every month to keep the ranch afloat and some horses fed. But it isn’t the same as being in pictures.

The phone rang as I was mixing myself a Manhattan. It was the overseas operator with Ginny on the other end.

“How’s the weather?” she said.

“Better than where you are,” I replied, relaxing into my Stickley Morris chair.

“How would you like to come over here for Christmas and help us welcome 1939?” she asked.

“Sure. Leaving a place where the sun always shines, for one where it’s a stranger makes a lot of sense,” I said.

“You have to come,” she said. “Jimmy wants you to help with something important, so it would be really great for all of us if you joined us.”

“What is it that’s so important?” I asked.

“He won’t tell me, but he’ll tell you when you get here. He says he can’t discuss it on the phone. You’ve got a first class cabin on the Queen Mary leaving New York Friday. By the way, don’t say nice things about him on your way over. He’s very serious about this, in fact act as if you’re angry I left the act,” she said.

“Tell your husband he’s whistling up a drainpipe.”

“I love you, little brother,” she said.

“Me too, your highness, or whatever you’re supposed to be called, but that doesn’t mean I’m coming” I said.

“What happened at Columbia?” she asked.

“Harry told me I couldn’t carry a picture without you. When you were on the screen, he said, nobody noticed me, because everybody looked at you. He said I had something below the surface that put people on edge, and the audience notices it now that you skipped town and made me a single. Harry said he felt it in his butt.”

“Harry and his butt,” she said, her exasperated tone arriving intact over 6,000 miles. “He was trying to bait you. I made sure you had two years on that contract, with or without me.” She was quiet for a moment before asking an all too familiar question. “Did you stay calm and wait for him to lose his head of steam?”

“He told me I would share third billing on the next picture with this wonder dog, which they brought into the room. I like animals, as you know, but this female Saint Bernard really took a shine to me and proceeded to use her entire body to declare her affection. I tried to take it as a compliment, but it took about three minutes for me to establish who the boss was before she’d behave,” I said. “I’m never wearing Royall Lyme around a Saint Bernard again.”

Ginny was laughing, as she said, “The details of billing were all worked out in the contract. Did you tell him that?

“No. I told him I didn’t want to work for an asshole and quit.”

“That was really smart,” she said sarcastically. Then she said, “Now I feel bad. Diplomacy was never your strong suit.”

“You didn’t have Saint Bernard slobber all over your pants, Sis. Anyway, you’re my sister, not my mother. I’m 36-years-old, with more than enough money to get by. Even without Hollywood, we would always have had enough.”

“You’re just like Grandpa. He could go from sitting with his hands folded to a right jab faster than any man in New England. The difference is that he owned his own company and didn’t have to please anyone.”

“I’m enjoying myself now. If you were riding Seabiscuit you couldn’t win against my new thoroughbred,” I said.

“I’m a lady now. I don’t make a lot of noise, or shoot craps ‘till dawn, or ride a horse into the ground anymore just to beat my brother,” she said.

I didn’t say anything and for awhile there was silence on her end of the line. She broke it by saying, “I’ll call you tomorrow this time and we will talk about the trip. I really miss you.”

“Tell your husband you took a stab at it but I’m not coming.” She hung up the phone.

I walked over to the Victrola and put on Bunny Berigan’s I Can’t Get Started and listened to him get those impossible sounds out of his trumpet. Everybody in show business knew the guy was an alcoholic fighting his demons, but he made the trumpet sound like it was blown by the Angel Gabriel. I picked the needle off the record and wondered what to do next.

My life was boring without Ginny. I thought of the time we drove Barrymore’s roadster into Bill Field’s pool with John passed out in the back seat. Or the time she’d convinced me she’d run away to Mexico with Cary Grant, which led me to Juarez, a bout of Montezuma’s revenge and a weekend with Marisol, the Latvian flamenco dancer. Picking up one of the barbells I kept around the house, I did two sets of 12 bicep curls and followed with work on my triceps. Now I was a bored guy with muscles.

I looked around the ranch house that I’d filled with all the Stickley furniture I could get my hands on and decided I needed a new obsession. There were more Frank Lloyd Wright pieces out there to go with these, but I would have to bide my time and wait for them. The guys in Pasadena needed reasons to sell what they had. That mission oak furniture, with its stark lines that harkened back to the 19th century, spoke of a practical America that tied me to my grandfather and kept me centered. My admiration for the simplicity of its lines probably confirmed Harry’s butt’s assessment of my potential as an actor. At least the entertainment industry wasn’t tied to the front of Harry. Then Columbia’s movies could only be shown in Tijuana.

.Deciding to wake up early to ride my new, slightly crazy, thoroughbred, I started up the stairs to dreamland. Before I hit the landing, though, the phone rang again. It was Jack, a friend who’d produced Christmas in the Rockies and four of our other hits.

“Jack, Wie gehts?” I said. My grandmother taught German to Ginny and me before we’d learned how to climb out of a highchair.

“I’ll never speak German again,” he said, his voice a whisper.

“Your voice sounds bad. Drive down and we’ll talk,” I said. “Stay over and we’ll both get drunk.”

“No. I can’t go anywhere. I’m waiting to see if the children survived.”

“What children are you talking about?”

“My brother is dead. My sister-in-law is dead, and my niece and nephew have disappeared.

“I’m sorry, Jack, I forgot for a minute about your brother and his kids. I’ve certainly heard enough about them over the years,” I said, feeling embarrassed. It was as if I’d just flunked Friendship 101.

“I’m getting in the car and heading over the hill. I’ll be there soon,” I said.

I walked outside and looked at the clear sky over the San Fernando Valley. There were lights on in Burbank to the East and some lights on Ventura Boulevard, but on this side of the Santa Monica Mountains it was mostly dark. I knew when Sepulveda Boulevard hit Mulholland Drive; I’d look down and see thousands of lights in Hollywood. Which reminded me I’d better dress up for the other side, so I went back in the house and buttoned up an Arrow Shirt and put on a Hickey Freeman single breasted silk shantung suit, just in case the Cadillac broke down or I ran into a newspaper photographer. Even in an emergency you couldn’t look like a bum.

I drove out of Encino, using Sepulveda until I reached Sunset. I took a left and drove east on Sunset until I reached the imposing gates of Bel Air. My La Salle Convertible quickly covered the twisting roads to Jack’s home, a 6,000 square foot white house with front pillars that made you thirsty for juleps and had you listening for Negroes singing spirituals..

I parked on the circular driveway and noticed every light was lit on the first floor. I found him in his library with a bottle of Haig and Haig Pinch scotch and a large seltzer bottle. The room was floor to ceiling leather books and boasted a giant globe made with semi-precious stones, marble, and slices from other rocks I couldn’t identify. I was sure that Jack had never touched anything in the room except the desk, the leather club chairs and the large RCA radio.

As I expected, he looked angry, probably taking a crying break. He had a five o’clock shadow that had a five o’clock shadow. In the sleeveless undershirt and suspenders he looked more like a gangster than a big time producer. In actuality, was there really any difference?

Jack was the only man I’d trust with a secret. We understood each other; the bonding taking years, evolving over bottles at Hillcrest Country Club, in this study, and in Palm Springs. Sometimes he’d tire of civilization and drive over to Encino where we’d talk into the night. An immigrant Jew, he’d fought his way up in the garment district in New York before coming to Los Angeles, pushing his way into the motion picture business. I was a song and dance man whose relatives tapped their way across the Atlantic on the Mayflower, but we were kindred spirits. He kept saying that underneath we were the same. I took that as a compliment. I pictured the first Thanksgiving; “Hey Squanto, leave some Gefilte Fish for the rest of us.”

This was a time when it was best to be quiet, so I just sat there, maybe for half an hour. I had walked into a funeral and one of the family members was waiting to speak.

“I couldn’t get a visa for them,” Jack said. “I tried everything, but a sign seems to be hanging in the State Department that says ‘No More Jews.’

“You know he was the one person I really, truly loved. My nephew and niece were going to get everything I had. Those four people were my family. I never think about my ex-wives, but every night before I went to bed, I thought about Robert and his family moving into this goddamned mansion with me.

“Robert always was a fighter. He ran the family jewelry store in Frankfurt, right off the Zeil, and he was unafraid. Robert never took shit. If the shagetz yelled ‘Juden raus,’ he’d give those low classes Arschloch a look that would turn them to stone. So, the Nazis had this big party called ‘Kristalnacht.’ All over Germany the people took to the streets looking for Jewish shops to destroy. My brother tried to stop the schwein from getting into the store. The leader shot him and the rest fired round after round through the plate glass windows until the glass fell on the sidewalk, leaving everyone, including my sister-in-law, Judith, dead. None of my cousins can find Karl and Liesel,” he said. “They’ve vanished.

“The Nazis take Jews and others they don’t like to camps called Konzentrationslager, with high barbed wire fences and watchtowers. When people go into a KZ, they’re en route to death,” he said. “I thought I knew about all the terrible things in the world, but I was wrong. This time the pogrom is too well organized to be stopped, and it will destroy Europe. Jews have always been in danger, but Hitler has pigs whose full-time job involves finding new ways to kill my people.

“If those two kids are dead, the Nazis are going to pay,” he said, snapping his suspenders and lighting a Cuban cigar. If Hitler had come into the room at the same time I did, he’d already have been beaten to death.

Jack was fifty, but looked forty, with a rugged look women seemed to go for, even women who didn’t want to be in pictures. A major actress called his appeal animal magnetism, and told me she’d been in love with him while he was between wives, I forget which ones.

“Do you have any idea where they might have been taken?” I said.

“Their friend who contacted me mentioned Dachau, near Munich,” he said. “They’ve been taking Jews there since ’33. Of course, the Nazis don’t come over to the Jews and say, ‘Excuse me, we’re taking these kids to Dachau.’”

My presence here was more important than any questions, so I gave up on conversation. I took a Cuban cigar from the inlaid wood box that always sat on the edge of the desk, lit it, and poured myself some Pinch straight up. I looked up as tears started to roll down Jack’s face and I put my hand on his shoulder. Jack was not a guy you hugged.

It went that way for the first couple of hours. One hour he was ready to kill and the other he cried, not exactly weepy, but you could see the tears drop silently from his eyes.

When the sad part of the cycle seemed to stop, I told Jack I’d been invited to England.

“Why the fuck would you go to that terrible climate in the middle of winter? See Ginny in the summer, after your next picture,” he said.

“I’m not going. But it doesn’t matter, because there won’t be a next picture. You probably knew Columbia was going to release me before they told me,” I said.

“I’m not talking about another silly tap and sing picture. I’m talking about something else,” he said.

“What else can I do?” I said.

“You can show the real Tommy Babcock, the Tommy Babcock that belted the guy who called me a kike last February in Musso and Frank’s,” he said.

“That cost money. It’s hard to believe that one guy falling over could cause so much damage to a bar,” I said.

“In pictures you can show what I see when you take off the Broadway smile and let me know how angry you are,” he said.

“Spencer Tracy did Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” I said.

“Let people see how you really feel,” he said, before his attention returned to the kids.

“There has to be a way to get those children here,” he said.

“I believe you have the ability to get about anything done,” I said. “However, Americans are mostly Christian and don’t want any more Jews coming to their country. The government’s not going to openly help you because they are in enough trouble already for being pro-English. Maybe the congressmen that you and the other esteemed Yids have purchased will step up to the plate or maybe we’ll have to find something we can trade for them.”

“Put on your thinking cap. You’re the one with the photographic memory who’d rather read books than sleep,” he said.

“I’d actually rather sleep than read books, but I can’t seem to hit the road to dreamland with any regularity. I don’t think anybody Jimmy knows in England could get the kids out, but when I talk to Ginny on the phone I’ll have her ask him. I’ll also call Wendell Willkie?”

“Why would you call Willkie?” Jack asked.

“Because he’s a man of his word and a lot of powerful people admire him. If anybody has the clout to do this, he does,” I said.

“You can try anything you think of. You know you’re my best friend,” Jack said, trying to keep his emotions in check.

“In this town everyone wants to be your friend,” I said.

“Yeah, but you’re the only one who’d take me in if I lost it all,” he said

We talked until four. While I closed my eyes and let my mind drift, Jack fell asleep. I decided to let him be. A nap in a chair was better than not sleeping at all. I went upstairs to one of the bedrooms, hoping the sheep were ready for a census.



I had the feeling I was awake, yet trapped in a nightmare. There I was in a little town in Bavaria, where the sun was shining, and the Volk were dancing in the town square. All of a sudden, the sky turned dark, and the dancers turned into Dracula and other movie characters played by Lon Chaney Jr. Men with rifles shouted “Juden, Juden,” and pointed their guns at me. “I’m not a Jew,” I shouted. “When did I become a Jew?” I decided to run for my life. Before they pulled the triggers, I awoke, with the California sun streaming in through the bedroom window. The pajamas I’d found in one of the guest rooms were wet with sweat as if I had a fever. I walked out by the pool and sat on a chaise lounge until the fear left my body. I couldn’t sit there forever, so I decided to drive back to Encino, call Ginny, and pack for a winter cruise across the North Atlantic.

Tommy Babcock: A World War Two Thriller

Did you ever wonder what America was like before World War Two?
Did you ever want a novel that had tremendous characters that captured your imagination?
Did you ever want a book that so involved you that when he broke the date, it didn’t make you eat all the ice cream that remained in your refrigerator? You had Tommy Babcock to take you to another time where you forgot what a fool you were for trusting him.
Did you ever want to meet a character in a book that made you laugh, while you were in suspense about the next move the Nazis had planned?  Are you looking for an admirable character in an adventure story?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, I recommend you read Tommy Babcock: A World War Two ThrillerYou can easily download the Kindle Edition from Amazon (click here) , and read it on your e-readers, computers, or smart phones.

Tommy Babcock is a high speed thriller which takes the reader from 1938 Hollywood to Germany and back again to the United States during the 1940 presidential campaign. This fast paced novel follows a former American movie star who becomes a spy for Winston Churchill. He is determined to rescue Jewish children from Germany, before disrupting the German spy apparatus in America.
Tommy and Ginny Babcock were very popular dancers who filled seats on Broadway and in movie theaters for a decade, until Ginny married a rich Englishman. Tommy’s recruitment by Churchill takes him in a new direction that has deadly consequences. In the novel we meet Franklin Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie and others who influenced America’s attitude toward Europe. In 1938 Americans want nothing to do with Europe, after feeling betrayed by World War One and its aftermath.

Tommy’s love interest, a beautiful Chinese woman, is threatened by an assassin who wants to remove her from his life, permanently. His efforts to protect her fuel the tension of this historical adventure. The reader is left guessing until the end about what the future holds for America in a world that includes fascism, communism and the nativists of America First.